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.