I came across an article by David Cloud, entitled “Emerging Independent Baptists.” Apparently Independent Baptists (IB) are starting to fall away into the apostasy of the Emerging Church movement. Scary!
I am including some excerpts here. Bro. Cloud’s entire article can be found here.
EMERGING INDEPENDENT BAPTISTS
February 1, 2010 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service)
The call for an Independent Baptist “unity in the essentials” movement is growing rapidly. This, of course, is one of the foundational principles both of New Evangelicalism and the emerging church. Pastor Tom Messer, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, home of Trinity Baptist College, provides the latest evidence… Messer believes that the Independent Baptist movement should take a stand against “divisiveness,” downplay issues such as music for the sake of world missions, pay attention to the church growth gurus, and put more emphasis on social work and social justice issues. Consider the following statements from a recent blog entitled “Is the Independent Baptist Movement at a Crossroad?”:
“The historic, unifying leadership of the independent Baptist movement has passed off the scene, leaving a leadership vacuum that has led to a more fractured and divisive movement. …
“There is a growing awareness in our society and particularly in church life about the complex challenges we are facing in our world as it relates to social issues. These issues include: Poverty, Hunger, Education, Disease, Social injustice (abuse, neglect, racism, bigotry, genocide, etc.) …
“The Great Commission has historically been, and must continue to be, the binding force that brings our unique and autonomous churches together. The alternative, our inability to bring lost people to Jesus Christ and begin church planting movements that will help us to reach the world, is a high price to pay for our divisiveness. …
“I was speaking with Dr. Elmer Towns this week and he reminded me of a saying that I have heard and quoted many times. ‘Methods are many, principles are few, methods may change, principles never do’” (Tom Messer, “Is the Independent Baptist Movement at a Crossroad?”).
Messer is part of a rapidly-growing movement of Independent Baptists who are pursuing a new “paradigm” even while pretending to love the old one. Whether they admit it or not, it’s all very emerging.
One of Messer’s emerging IB buddies is Brad Powell, pastor of NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, Michigan. They shared pulpit duties at Southwide Baptist Fellowship a couple of years ago. In 1990, Brad took the pastorate of Temple Baptist Church of Detroit, which was formerly led by fighting fundamentalists such as J. Frank Norris and G.B. Vick, and trotted it down the emerging path. Today the church has Christian rock concerts, hosts radical ecumenists such as Michael Card (who works closely with John Michael Talbot, a Roman Catholic who prays to Mary) and who claims that “denominational distinctives” are not important. Brad tossed aside the church’s former stand on Bible versions, dress, music, and a host of other “non-essentials.” The name change in 2000 (from Temple Baptist to the much cooler-sounding generic NorthRidge Church) reflected the character change. Brad has recommended Bill Hybels of Willowcreek fame at his web site (Hybels spoke at the emerging church conference I attended with press credentials last year in San Diego). Brad even joined Rick Warren in a teaching seminar.
Brad claims that the old fundamental Baptist principles upon which Temple Baptist Church of Detroit was built (which produced thousands of members and a glorious evangelistic and missionary outreach under Norris and Vick) are “a pattern of irrelevance” (Don Boys, “Rise and Fall of Southwide Baptist Fellowship,” May 16, 2007). Brad holds the emerging principle that if churches don’t adopt a new “paradigm,” they will die in today’s new society.
One reason that Messer and Brad and that crowd are becoming emerging in their thinking is that they are associating with the wrong people and reading the wrong books…
Where does the Bible support the idea that “principles are few”? That is the “in non-essentials liberty” philosophy, but the Bible nowhere divides its teaching into essentials and non-essentials. There is liberty when the Bible is silent, but when the Bible has spoken the only “liberty” is to obey. We are to observe ALL things that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). Paul instructed Timothy to keep the commandment without spot (1 Timothy 6:13-14). Jude instructed God’s people to earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3), not hinting that some parts of the faith are to be treated as non-essential. The point of Scripture that is to be defended is that point that happens to be under attack at any given time….
I don’t recall unity or social justice being major themes of the IB movement in the 1970s, but I do recall truth being emphasized greatly. I can remember a LOT of preaching against rock & roll and immodest dress and CCM and modern Bible versions and ecumenicalism and New Evangelicalism and the social gospel and you name it! …Give us a break, Pastor Messer! Stop pretending that you and your emerging IB buddies are walking in the old paths! Though Hyles and Rice were not my personal heroes, I respect what they stood for much more than what the IB emergents do not stand for, and I seriously doubt that the old IB leaders would keep their mouths shut today and promote the unity in the essentials nonsense and support the direction in which the IB emergents are moving.
And even if they would, it would have no weight, because no man has the authority to support heresy.
Compromise begets compromise. I would urge my fellow Independent Baptists to stay away from men who are in the process of rejecting biblical separation and who are heeding the siren call of New Evangelicalism and the emerging church.
Their compromise is still relatively subtle, but it is real and if you don’t disassociate from compromise in its early stages it becomes much more difficult later on, because compromise has the power to lull one into spiritual stupor and rob one of the zeal for a forthright defense of the faith.