A regular reader of this blog — a former Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church member and preacher, who trained for the ministry at Clarence Sexton’s The Crown College — sent me the following response from his pastor:
Dear Harry (not his real name),
Thanks for answering the first part of my letter. I realize that you were about 17 when you allowed the devil to have you question God’s Word and that you doubt God’s Word and even deny His Word. Proverbs 23:7 says as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.
Harry, I know you know enough about God’s Word that nothing I say to you will convince you if the Holy Spirit Of God doesn’t make God real to you, I can’t. I do not know if you and Louise have ever been saved. I know that a person has to be convicted of the sin of unbelief before they can be saved. It is not an emotional feeling. It is conviction of the sin of unbelief.
Time will tell because you will experience God’s chastisement if you are saved. I fear what it might take for God to get your attention. If you don’t experience God’s chastisement then you will know that you were never saved to begin with according to God’s Word.
You really don’t see the seriousness of sin. It put My Savior on the cross of Calvary for my sin. There will be no one in hell for telling a lie or stealing. If anyone goes to hell it will be because of the sin of unbelief.
Your children have to hear the truth before they can believe the truth. So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Please give them a chance to hear God’s Word like you had. If you and your wife don’t want to come to church, will you give your children a chance by allowing them to come to master club and watch God work in their tender hearts.
Harry, I encourage you to do all the research on Jesus you can find and see if he is a liar, lunatic, or He is who He says He is. Your whole family’s destiny depends on who Jesus is and what you do with Him.
I am here for you if you need me. Remember God loves you.Thanks for taking time to read this.
Pastor God’s Man
Those of you who have left the IFB church movement are quite familiar with the tactics and approach used by Harry’s pastor. This passive-aggressive approach is used any time an IFB church member thinks about leaving the church or has doubt about the teachings of the church and pastor.
The pastor appeals to their relationship, and even goes so far as to tell Harry he is still his friend. He reminds him that God loves him and that he, the pastor, is there for him if he needs him. All well and good, right? If this is all the pastor had said, few of us would have found fault with his words. But, like the true IFB pastor he is . . . with the carrot comes a big stick.
The pastor tells Harry:
- He is influenced by the Devil
- He doubts his salvation
- That God will chastise him IF he is a really is a Christian
- Everyone in Hell is there because of unbelief
- He is ignorant, having failed to do all the research on Jesus (I thought the Bible was all we needed?)
And then he plays the children card. He appeals to Harry on the familial level. After all, their eternal destiny depends on them coming to this pastor’s church. What he fails to realize and understand is that as a person raised in the IFB church, Harry would most certainly want to keep his children away from the pernicious IFB church movement and its teachings and practices. If he is breaking free, why would he want to expose his children to these things?
I hope this post illustrates for readers the challenges people face when they decide to walk away from the IFB church. By leaving, they are cutting themselves off from everything they have ever known. This young family man is to be commended for being willing to walk away. It took great courage to do so. May there be many more just like him.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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