There are times my heart breaks, and this is one of those times. This past weekend, November 12, 2023, First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana invited a group of men into their church to teach on creation. Then on Monday, these same men went to Hyles-Anderson College and taught the students. These men were not Baptists and do not claim to be Baptists. In fact, one is a member of a Reformed church, and another claimed from their pulpit that he is a Methodist.
On Sunday evening, I received a text from a pastor with a picture that showed a long haired hippie teaching in the pulpit of FBC Hammond.
Then I received multiple calls from preachers about how they were told that the NIV was used on slides, and indecency in some of the slides.
I am sickened by this as I am not for compromise of any sort. However, it sickens me more because of my love for this church and college. My family history goes back to the 1960’s when my parents were married in this church. My uncle was a deacon and church clerk for fifty years at FBC Hammond. My wife and I were married in this church, and my daughter was born in this church.
I thank God for the heritage of this church, but to see the blatant compromise sickens me, and yes, it angers me. It sickens me because I hate it when any church compromises. It angers me because those in this church know better. Let me simply share a few verses.
First, a long haired hippie teaching in the pulpit is in direct contradiction to Scripture. 1 Corinthians 11:14 says, Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? I don’t know anything about this man, but I do know that to have long hair is a shame. It does not matter what he was going to teach, the fact that he blatantly disobeys God’s Word should have alerted anyone to his spiritual discernment and that he is to be disqualified to teach people.
Second, ecclesiastical separation is still a command in the Scriptures. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? God commands we are not to be unequally yoked. God goes further in verse 17 when He says, Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,…. Not only are we not to be unequally yoked, be we are to separate from them.
My friend, ecclesiastical separation is still in God’s Word. A member of a reformed church has no business teaching in a Baptist pulpit. A self-proclaimed Methodist obviously is doctrinally wrong on baptism, the local church, and likely on salvation. It doesn’t matter if these men are “good” men, they are doctrinally wrong and have no right to speak in a Baptist pulpit.
Third, to allow the NIV to be used in the pulpit is wrong. There is no question that the NIV has removed verses from God’s Word, and has made over 60,000 changes to God’s Word. Revelation 22:18-19 says, For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. If we are not willing to fight over God’s Word, then what will we fight over? Never are we to allow anyone in our pulpits that would use anything else other than God’s Word, the King James Bible.
Fourth, we are to withdraw from brethren who do not practice like us. 2 Thessalonians 3:6 says, Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. At some point, you must be willing to withdraw from people who are disorderly in their doctrine, much less their practice. Not only should these men not have been allowed to teach because of their doctrine, but also because of their practice. We practice dressing with our best for church because God deserves our best. To allow these men to teach in blue jeans and polo shirts as if this is a golf club is simply a total disrespect of God’s Word, His church, and His way.
My friend, I believe in the local church, which means I believe FBC Hammond has a right to do what they want to do in their church. I am completely fine with this. However, they ask churches around the country to send our young people to their college so they can train them for the ministry. The fact that they reach into our churches to ask for our youth is what concerns me. They are influencing our youth, and our youth will look at what happened and think it is fine not to follow the separation that the Scriptures command.
Moreover, one may say they made a mistake, to which I say, HOGWASH! A mistake is dropping something. Scheduling people who don’t believe like you (or maybe they do), and you know they are different is not a mistake, it is a purposeful choice. Let’s give the benefit of the doubt and say it was a mistake. What does that have to say about the discernment of those who allowed this compromise in their pulpit and Bible college. There is a reason God tells us not to put a novice into the ministry because a novice lacks discernment. I do not believe that those who lead these institutions are novices; I do believe they knew exactly what they were doing.
John Wilkerson, pastor of First Baptist, released the following apology:
“Recently, we had a creation seminar hosted here at First Baptist Church of Hammond. With all my heart what I wanted to do is to educate, equip and empower God’s people to face and to give ammunition for the fallacies of evolution and humanism that permeates our society.
Though that was my goal, I grieve to tell you that I probably did not make the best decisions in many arenas. I failed to screen properly what was going to be said or shown in some ways. And I think I hurt many people. I grieve that I embarrassed the First Baptist Church family. I think for the Hyles-Anderson College students and the men and women who have sent their students here, if I sent an uncertain sound, I apologize and I sincerely ask your forgiveness. I don’t want to cause a distraction. And I certainly don’t want to be divisive.
Think about all the horrific things going on in the world. Yet, all these IFB preachers are worried about is long hair on men, pants on women, ecclesiastical separation, and using the wrong Bible translation.
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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