Home > Fundamentalism, Jack Schaap, Separation, The Church > Why I’m Not Participating With The IBFI

Why I’m Not Participating With The IBFI

by Pastor Bobby Mitchell, Mid-Coast Baptist Church, Brunswick, Maine

The autonomy and independence of New Testament churches is plainly taught in the Scriptures.  We must be very careful about “meddling” in another church’s business.  However, when a pastor and church seeks to start a “movement” that involves thousands of other churches then it is only right to comment on that movement if error, or compromise with error, is being promoted.  When such an influence is presented to New Testament churches then New Testament pastors are under holy obligation to speak out about it.  Some have asked why I am not involved with the newest Baptist group that is titled Independent Baptist Friends International, and why I felt it necessary to state that I was embarrassed that Mid-Coast Baptist Church was listed on their church directory.  I am happy to answer and I thank you for asking.  I am not able to give much time to a long and diplomatic response, so please be forgiving of the pointedness of this.  I harbor malice towards none of those that I am stating disagreement with.  I believe that there is much good that could be said about many involved with the IBFI, but the following are my reasons for not participating.

DISOBEDIENCE OVERLOOKED

I do not buy into the philosophy that to obey the Great Commission we must work with those that have the name Independent Baptist and yet preach and practice contrary to Scripture.  For instance, Jack Schaap of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, was a featured preacher at the IBFI conference.  Pastor Schaap and FBCH (following former pastor Jack Hyles) have, for years, promoted an un-Biblical form of “soul-winning” in which repentance is ignored and true Scriptural faith is replaced with the repetition of a prayer.  FBCH’s un-Biblical soul-winning methodology is widely known and documented.  It has resulted in much confusion, many lost professors of faith,  and the promotion of a weakened Gospel message.  Further, Jack Schaap has a perverted and twisted view of the Lord’s Supper that teaches that partaking of the elements is akin to sexual relations.  This is taught in his book titled Marriage: The Divine Intimacy. Another example of the un-Biblical practice of FBCH is their refusal to practice New Testament Church Discipline.

Pastor Sexton emphasizes in his magazine, emails, mailings, You-Tube videos, and preaching that we must be friends to accomplish world evangelism.  He wants men like me to be friends with men like Schaap. I am reminded of John 15:14 where the Lord Jesus said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”  The Lord Jesus commanded that we preach repentance (Luke 24:47) and that we practice church discipline for the purity of the church and the restoration of the sinning church member (Matthew 18:15-17).  Jesus’ friends obey Him.  My friends for world evangelism (those that I will “partner” with, to use a phrase quoted by the IBFI) should be those that are obedient to the Lord.  The fellowship of the church at Jerusalem in Acts 2 was in the Apostles’ doctrine and practice (Acts 2:42).  It was not fellowship around non-Apostolic preaching and practice!  I encourage Baptists everywhere to hold to sound faith and practice and work with others that hold to the same.  But, I cannot engage in cooperation with those who are disobedient to the Lord.

MOVEMENT MENTALITY

It was very obvious from watching three of the services as they were broadcast live on the internet, and observing all of the video highlights, that the IBFI has a “movement” mentality driving it.  I don’t see a movement mentality in the Word of God.  Scripture reveals that God’s plan for this age is the local New Testament church doing all that the local New Testament church is to be doing!  The Lord has promised that “the gates of hell” will not “prevail” against the church.  There is no such guarantee for man-made movements.  At the Friends Conference Pastor Sexton and others spoke regularly of the new “movement,” the “inaugural meeting,” and the need to “join,” “partner,” and “register.”

I did not hear one speaker encourage any attendee or webcast listener to seek the counsel of their pastor and church as to whether or not they should get involved with the IBFI.  They were simply encouraged to join, give, and cooperate.  My understanding is that this infringes on the authority of the local church.

One young preacher who was featured at the conference said, “To get the truth to the whole world we must cooperate and coordinate together.  It makes sense and it is practical.”   I do want to partner and cooperate with New Testament churches (regarding missions) that are serious about obeying all of Scripture, but I see no instruction in the Bible to work with disobedient people to evangelize.  The New Testament reveals cooperation among the early churches, but not through compromise.  I will not invest my time and money in a man-made movement.  I plan to keep on devoting myself to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ through His church.

DON’T CRITICIZE

The host pastor, Dr. Clarence Sexton, and other featured speakers made it very clear that any criticism of the meeting or movement was not welcome.  Instead of appreciating that “iron sharpeneth iron,” which is something a true friend does (Proverbs 17:17), those who questioned the promotion of some of the preachers at the conference were referred to as “presumptuous” and “immature.”  One preacher stated that  we should  “never criticize any man that’s trying to get people saved.  It doesn’t matter who they are.”  That is foreign to Scripture.  Peter, a preacher and follower of the Lord, was sharply rebuked by the Lord Jesus for his un-Scriptural statements (Matthew 16:22,23).  Later, the same Apostle was “withstood” by Paul for his wrong practice regarding the Gentiles (Galatians 2:11).  Paul even went so far as to write his criticism down for believers all over the world to see!

“It takes no size to criticize” one preacher declared at the IBFI meeting.  Of course, that leaves the door wide open for non-militancy that will always result in compromise.  The Bible tells us to “try the spirits” and “prove all things.”  I also see Jesus, Paul, John, Jude, and others in the Scriptures criticizing as needed.  I don’t want a critical spirit, but, as a man of God, I must criticize what is un-Biblical.

By the way, Joel Osteen, Billy Graham, Rick Warren, and others who are promoting an anemic Christianity would all insist that they are trying to “get people saved.”  Should we not criticize their errors, even if we could be glad for the little bit of Gospel preaching they do?

One preacher at the IBFI conference lamented that “we are so divided over personalities.”  I agree that we should not divide merely over personalities, but personalities are an aspect of men and men have doctrine and practices that must be proven by Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  The Scripture states that we should not partner with men who preach and practice in an un-Biblical fashion.

Another preacher warned against “disagreement and division about what God has blessed.”  Of course, it was implied that the IBFI has been blessed of God since it is so “exciting” and “so many are registering.”  Meanwhile, Acts 17:11 still records that it is noble to search the Scriptures to check and see if what the preacher is saying is so.  I do not trust any man or movement that refuses to deal Scripturally with criticism.  No man, ministry, or movement is above 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

HE SAID WHAT?

At least three of the messages that I listened to via the live webcast involved misuse of Scripture.  One man preached from Acts 15 and compared that meeting of two churches (Jerusalem and Antioch) to independent Baptists around the world needing to work together.  He said that he had learned that he’d “better set aside my opinions, what I think we should be doing . . . and let’s do what seems good to the Holy Ghost.”  In actuality Acts 15 is about two churches that believed and practiced the same and when a disagreement came up it was dealt with and they went away committed to total agreement as to the doctrine and practice concerning that particular item of business.  To compare that to some “need” of independent Baptists agreeing to work together in spite of real disagreements over doctrine and practice is not true to the text.  At any rate, obeying all of the Bible commands, including the command to warn and separate from erring brethren, will “seem good to the Holy Ghost” since He has given us His mind on the matter!

Another message involved the divisions in the church at Corinth over Peter, Paul, and Apollos.  Once again a comparison was made to modern independent Baptists.  Of course, Corinth was a local church, not an international group of Christians or churches.  Paul, Peter, and Apollos all believed, preached, and practiced the same.  They were not experiencing disunity over different practices and doctrine.  It was disingenuous for that preacher to insist that independent Baptists should ignore the un-Biblical preaching and activities of some in the “movement” while attempting to utilize 1 Corinthians 3 for his proof-text.

One other example of a message based on a strange interpretation was the teaching that after his escape from Sodom, Lot regained his burden for souls, resulting in the preservation of Zoar (Genesis 19:20,21).  During the same message, the preacher also stated that Lot’s wife “just froze up” because she realized that they had lost everything in Sodom and hadn’t won any souls.  I cannot get excited about, or involved in, a movement that glorifies that kind of “preaching.”

REGISTERED?

The organizing of the IBFI online church directory seems strange, to say the least.  During one of the broadcasts of the meeting I listened as it was stated that “thousands” had “registered” their churches and ministries at the IBFI website.  On Thursday I looked at the church directory and I noticed that the church I pastor was listed there.  None of us here at MCBC had “registered” our church.  I also noticed several other churches that were “registered” that had not been “registered” by anyone associated with those churches.  The more I read the stranger it became as I looked at listings of churches that no longer exist, the names of pastors who are now in heaven, and the names of pastors who have moved to a different church.  Other pastors began to notice the same thing and a disclaimer was added to the directory that seemed designed to appease any concerns about churches being listed without their approval.  One pastor from Indiana wrote to me, “I just went through the directory for Indiana, and found numerous instances of wrong information.  Evidently, they did not bother to check or confirm with the local churches themselves before listing them.  They just added them without consent or approval, leading to numerous inaccuracies that might have been clarified if they had respected the autonomy of the local church, who should have had a say in whether or not they wished to be listed.”

When I spoke with a staff member at Crown College about having our church removed from the directory he apologetically stated that, in fact, they had built the majority of the directory from other existing church directories that were created and owned by other groups.

IT’S A  ______________

Sunday night, the IBFI website appeared to be the website of a new fellowship, but it has been changed now to appear to be something much less organized.  There was a statement of faith, but it has been removed.  There was a link that said “Become a Baptist Friend,” but that has also disappeared.  I don’t know if the IBFI is an association, a once a year meeting, a fellowship, etc.  There is a logo.  There is a name.  There is a directory.  There is an annual meeting.  There are even “commemorative coins” for sale.  Is there a leader?  Is there a Statement of Faith that those “registering” ascribe to?  Is there accountability?  I don’t want to be involved in something when it is not clear what that something is.

I believe that our friendships for world evangelism should be based on obedience to the Word of God.  Again, Jesus said, “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.”  Brother Sexton wants us to be friends for evangelism in spite of error and disobedience “in the camp.” I rejoice in any truth that is being preached by the IBFI.  I rejoice in the burden for world evangelism.  I rejoice in the conservative dress and music and many of the positions declared by the preachers.  I am troubled by the promotion of some that preach and practice in an un-Biblical manner.  I am troubled by any misuse of Scripture and any hint of dishonesty in the service of the Lord.  I am standing where I stand and I am not demanding that anyone else must agree with me.  I do not want to be associated with the IBFI.  I don’t even want the church I pastor to be listed on their directory of Baptist churches.  Before God, I hope that my motivation and spirit is right in expressing this disagreement and lack of cooperation.  Please consider it and please consider me with charity.

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  1. david
    April 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    While I may disagree with the writer in certain areas, I commend him for the spirit in which this article was written.

  2. April 23, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Brother Bobby,

    This is a wonderful explanation. I agree completely!

  3. Jim
    April 23, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Great article… I though I was one of the few that kept my ministry out of many organizations, movements… They usually go bad and many in them disagree about many things, so we at CBC stayed apart much of the time and worked within our church to reach the world as prescribed in the Bible. Good stand brother.

  4. Mike Haxton
    April 23, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Well said brother. You put the hammer down! It is good to see real fire instead of smoke and mirrows, as happens so many times when certain “big name preachers” get together for a, “good cause”, without Biblical standards. I appreciate your forthrightness in bringing forth the information and having heard who the major participants were, I am not surprised in anything that you revealed. It seems that once again the the methodology of being BIG for a good cause at the expense of Biblical principles has occured. Evangelist Mike Haxton

    • May 10, 2010 at 12:45 am

      I know who are and I am wondering who are you to speak.

  5. April 23, 2010 at 11:21 am

    David,

    Thanks for a charitable reply.

    Art, Jim, and Mike,

    I appreciate the encouraging words. There are many others that have seen these same problems. One well-known preacher told me that if all the men he knew of that were concerned about this new movement would speak up publicly it might actually make a difference. I’m glad you have spoken up. My the Lord find us faithful to all of His commands.

  6. Gary Johnson
    April 23, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Another movement for insecure men who constantly are needing the approval of men.

    They sound like our modern day politicians, claiming to be above criticism.

    How about independent Baptists simply doing what we are commanded to from the scriptures, rather than trying to have a more scriptural ecumenical movement? Just another tower of Babel, trying to make a name.

    Thanks for the article brother. You are more charitable than I would have been.

  7. April 23, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Gary,

    You are right on. Let’s get back to simply obeying the Bible. Regarding “it takes no size to criticize,” my younger brother, Mike, who is a servant here in the church I pastor, said, “It also takes no size to COMPROMISE.”

  8. Buddy Woolbright
    April 23, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    This brother seems to be right on target. The problem that always comes up with organized groups, from the Northern Baptist Convention to the Baptist Missionary Association and ALL others, is that once the group has been organized, it begins to take over the jobs that God gave to His churches. Then the men involved develope a loyalty to the group over the Word of God and the local church. History shows this to be true repeatedly. Most all conventions, associations and organized fellowships were begun by good, Godly men. Their desire to do something bigger by going beyond what the Bible teaches was the very serious problem. Why can we not be satisfied with what we see in the New Testament and fellowhip with churches of like faith and practice without starting something that takes money and other resources away from Biblical evangelists (missionaries).
    bw 2 Timoteo 1:9

  9. April 23, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Brother Mitchell,

    You said, “Another example of the un-Biblical practice of FBCH is their refusal to practice New Testament Church Discipline.” Do they have an official statement regarding this or was it said or published somewhere? I have heard of a few other local churches adopting this very strange position.

  10. April 23, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Brother Ketchum

    My father attended Pastor’s School at FBCH back around 1980. He personally heard Jack Hyles teach that he would not lead the church to discipline people because he thought he would lose the opportunity to help them in the future if he did. Of course, we understand that Matthew 18 and 1 and 2 Corinthians teaches the exact opposite. The Lord’s churches must obey the Lord by practicing church discipline so that the God will be glorified, the church will be pure, and the offender will be ashamed and (hopefully) repent and be restored.

    Of course, it is well known that at least one young man who served on the staff of FBCH lived in fornication and was not dealt with Biblically. He was actually recommended to the pastorate of another church where he was again entangled in fornication.

  11. April 23, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Has anyone asked them if this is what they teach and practice now or are you just making the assumption that this erroneous practice continues at FBC of Hammond? I agree that their Easy Prayerism and failure to teach repentance as necessary to salvation is a major perversion of evangelism. I am aware of the other things you mentioned regarding FBCH. I have been around a long time.

  12. April 23, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Brother Ketchum,

    I am taking Jack Schaap at his word that their erroneous practice continues at FBCH. When he became pastor he promised, “the same old stuff, just more of it.” He has publicly promised to keep FBCH in the same paths that Hyles led them on.

    Good question.

  13. Perry L. White
    April 26, 2010 at 6:17 am

    I’m a Master’s graduate from Crown Seminary in 2008 and no doubt Dr. Sexton’s teaching and preaching have changed my life for the better. I also totally agree with the article of Bro. Mitchell. When I first heard Dr. Schaap was the main speaker, it greatly troubled and disappointed me. I have a bad feeling about the direction of this movement especially if it cooperates with FBCH, but Dr. Sexton has very good intentions in my opinion. I trust he remembers to emphasize Biblical TRUTH as the prerequisite for friends and biblical world evangelism and keeps a local church emphasis. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3.

    • April 26, 2010 at 9:12 am

      Brother Perry,

      You said “I trust he remembers to emphasize Biblical TRUTH as the prerequisite for friends and biblical world evangelism and keeps a local church emphasis.”

      He has already not done this.

  14. d4v34x
    April 26, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Many good points. Re this: “Another preacher warned against ‘disagreement and division about what God has blessed.'”

    That preacher might want to take another look at the account in which Moses struck the rock a second time. Water still came out, but . . .

  15. Ransom
    April 26, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I greatly appreciate your honesty, and correct spirit in addressing these issues.

  16. April 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Excellent article written with an excellent spirit! Seriously though, we are indeed living in perilous times. These kind of things are becoming more common place. It is sad to see good men caught up in this. We are more and more losing our discernment!

  17. April 26, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Perry,

    I would encourage you to let Pastor Sexton and Crown College know what you have expressed here.

    DV,

    Good one about Moses there.

    Ransom and Dave,

    Thanks for the nice comments.

    I’ve been getting emails from all over the country and even from other countries about this article. There are quite a number of people who have seen through the hype and have not jumped on board with the IBFI. Thank God that He still gives discernment and some are still exercising it!

  18. Jeff McNeely
    April 27, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    If that wasn’t a long and diplomatic response, then I’d think you’d be referring to writing a book! Very well thought out and written. I commend you on your tactfulness, I know I’m not one for holding back my opinion. God bless you and may we pray for each other as we serve the King.

  19. April 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Jeff,

    You just made me laugh. When I wrote that part about it not being long and diplomatic I was just starting to write a “note” to some friends. It evolved into much more, I guess. Thanks for reading and commenting, and God bless you.

  20. May 5, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Brother Mitchell, I emailed brother Cloud and thanked him for sending out your article and several others dealing with this issue. Though blessed by Clarence Sexton’s writings and sermons, for several years, I have been bothered by his compromise and seemingly increasing lack of separation when it comes to where he will preach and who he allows to preach from his pulpit or who he directly associates with in preaching endeavors. I appreciate some sound voices, like yours, having the conviction to speak out on this issue. May the Lord continue to bless those few who have not bowed the knee to the baal of compromise – our Elijah Friends.

  21. May 10, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Read http://www.dictatorpastors.com
    This site answers a lot of the problems right here.

  22. May 10, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I can’t say enough good things about the stance taken by Bro. Mitchell. If Baptists would get back to a “he must increase, and I must decrease” attitude, we’d see God’s power a whole lot more than we do.

    I’m reminded of 1Cor.3:19, which largely discredits human academics, i.e., man-made interpretation of scripture. Decades ago preachers with earned PhD’s would scathe a person for calling them “Doctor”, and now they’ll scathe you if you don’t either in thier head or out loud.

    I love the point made that no man is above questioning. Because in God’s service, we’re nothing more than sinful men who have taken advantage of God’s extension of mercy and grace. The responsible thing to do is challenge EVERYTHING on Scriptural grounds. There is serious question regarding the usefulness anyone who feels that they are too “accredited” to be questioned.

    Like Nehemiah who wouldn’t stand down, God remember you for good, Bro. Mitchell.

  23. May 11, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Thank you for the kind words, Jerry and Adam.

    The latest word from the IBFI website about the “critics” is that we just don’t understand! That is a very derogatory way of “not answering” one’s critics.

    “Some people disagree because they do not understand this is a tool that they can use to make others aware of the message of Christ and aware of a church that is preaching His message. Whatever the reason, we trust that no one will lift his voice against the critics.”

    Well, we do understand. We understand when a church hosts a meeting that features a heretic and un-Biblical preaching. We understand when a man wants to get men together that are in disagreement doctrinally and practically. We understand deception. We understand when a man starts a group, names the group, and then denies it is a group, even though it has a logo, an annual meeting, a commemorative coin, etc. We understand that it is un-Biblical to label any criticism as “immature.” We understand that it is un-Biblical to refuse to answer criticism! One speaker at the meeting taught “Never attack and never defend” in regard to criticism. I wonder why the Lord Jesus defended Himself when He was accused of casting out devils by the power of Satan? I wonder if this speaker ever read 2 Corinthians? That Epistle is filled with Paul defending himself and his ministry.

    We understand. We just don’t agree.

  24. May 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    “Never attack and never defend” actually sounds like a very Christian principle. If in context this phrase means to be “harmless as doves” (never attack) and “yet he opened not his mouth”, (never defend), the reasoning is good. In that context, I have a good mind to start using it myself.

    However, if it used to negate a so-called Christian’s need for explaining why his actions clearly violate Scripture, I have a huge problem with it. Taking a brazen stance against anyone who asks legitimate questions sure has the stink of, “Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?”

  25. Serge Leclerc
    November 3, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I agree with you Bro. Bobby; very clear article about this issue. Many preachers joined this group because their friends was already in this association of preachers. I call that attitude the pressure of the friendship/amity. The doctrine of biblical separation is one of our core value too. Our friendship, relationship and fellowship must be tested by the TRUTH & LOVE.

    Love is obey to God’s word !!

    Bro.Serge Leclerc

  26. Bobby Mitchell
    November 6, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Brother Leclerc,

    Thanks for the response and I appreciate your good stand. It is always good to hear from you and to enjoy good interaction with you when we cross paths. God bless you their in Quebec.

  27. pastor Jonathan Hernandez
    January 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Well its like my father always said ……… its nothing but Baptist Politics,

  28. January 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Baptist Politics………. well said.

  29. LM
    March 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Clarence Sexton is not a real Dr. of anything–honorary doctorate from Tennessee Temple University. Also, in the nearly 10 years my family spent on his staff during the formation of Crown College, Pastor Sexton was completely tyrannical. He did not ever show love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness or temperance.
    Since he was a spiritual abuser then (in the 1990s) I’m sad to know he is still one now.

    Woe be unto the shepherds that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD. Jeremiah 23:1

  30. May 24, 2012 at 6:42 am

    RIGHT ON THE MONEY, Bro. Bobby! You hit many nails on the head. Here is my 2 cents worth: jerrykaifetz.com

  31. May 26, 2012 at 6:27 am

    I am so glad to see that less and less I am standing alone with a few friends like Voyle Glover & Vic Nischik, and that others are now seeing what we saw 20+ years ago. Makes me feel good, as I knew Schaap & Hyles very well on a professional & personal level in the 80’s and saw character flaws (trying to be kind here) back then big enough to park the Queen Mary in. I have some blog articles on these subjects & some videos on how churches turn into cults: jerrykaifetz.com & Youtube under my name. Like the Apostle Paul, “… they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me.” Some things don’t change. jk

  32. June 29, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Hello, its pleasant paragraph regarding media print,
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