Is the IFB Church Movement Christian?

god's word

Many people who leave the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement come to the conclusion that the IFB church is not Christian at all. If it is a cult, it can’t be Christian, right?  I find this especially true for former IFB church members/pastors who are now Calvinists. They often consider the IFB church a false religion preaching a false gospel. Of course, their new church is the true Christian religion, preaching the true gospel.

IFB churches believe what they do because of their commitment to a literal interpretation of an ancient text they consider given to them by God. The former IFB church member/pastor turned Calvinist is no different. They too are committed to a literal interpretation of an ancient text they consider given to them by God. Many Christian sects, especially Evangelical sects, adhere to a literalistic interpretation of the Bible. It is from this foundation that a cult is born.

So, when I am asked if I think IFB church members are Christians, I say absolutely yes. Their core doctrines are orthodox and they believe that salvation is found in and through Jesus Christ.  It is their literalistic interpretation of a small set of Bible verses, primarily dealing with ecclesiology, complementarian hierarchy, and sex that the seeds of cultism is found. These same cultic seeds can be found in countless American churches, so it is not an IFB church problem alone.

Many cultic IFB pastors are quite sincere. They believe that they are following the clear teachings of the Bible, the very same beliefs they were taught when they were young or in college. They are Christian in the same way that an Orthodox Jew is Jewish. Their literal interpretation is the problem, but this does not mean they are not Christian.

I wanted to be clear on this issue. Just because I think the IFB church movement is a cult or has cultic tendencies does not mean that I do not think it is Christian. Cultism can be found in the Christian church throughout its history. In fact, some people think ALL Christian sects are cultic to some degree or another. Christians themselves are quite willing to point out the cultic tendencies of other Christian sects but often seem unable to spot the same cultic tendencies in the sect they are a part of. Over the years, I have corresponded with a number of people who left the IFB church movement for what they called true Christianity. Upon examining closely their new church/sect, I have generally found that they have traded one cult for another.

Comments (5)

  1. Becky Wiren

    It’s so tiresome though. People argue on Facebook posts that “God created the world” so creationism is a real thing…not a religion based philosophy, er, hoax? More and more I am tired with the angry Biblical literalist who by golly, knows what he knows and we are doomed because we don’t accept God. And where is the love that Jesus spoke about? It is overwhelmed by these Biblical Christians’ interpretations of the Bible, that is what. The IFB sound pretty bad, but the SDA church I was part of still believes in Genesis. And is against LGBT people. I’m sick of it.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I try to remind myself of why many of them believe what they do and act the way they act. I also try to remember that I once was just like them. That said, there days I just want to beat them with my cane. :)

      1. Becky Wiren

        That’s a good one, makes me wish I had a cane. :) Maybe I could carry one just for that reason.

  2. Pingback: This Week in Religion and Secularism, part 2 | Evangelically Atheist

  3. Jonathan Doe

    Hey, saw your blog post on reddit. I agree with your thesis. I would also add that, to the extent that atheism is ideological, it also has cultic tendencies. Cultic characteristics are not necessarily limited to religious paradigms.

    Interesting blog you have here. You and I have had somewhat similar beginnings although I have a much more condensed version as I’m only 30. I came from a Christian fundy background, and loved to read. I also was ordained and did ministry for about 5 years. I became disillusioned with a lot of it and began reading the “anti-theists” (Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, etc.) and other counter viewpoints. However, I took a different path from there.

    My faith changed, but I still have it. I still hold to a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, but I also believe in evolution and volunteer for the Democratic party. (Elizabeth Warren 2016!) I am about to begin a second career as an attorney (I graduate law school in a couple of weeks).

    All that said, I think that belief (or unbelief) can both be rational, reasonable responses to the world around us. I don’t think belief (or unbelief) is the necessary consequence of an investigation into faith. That’s where too many fundamentalists (whether Christian apologists or atheist apologists) go wrong.


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