Only a few days ago, I published My Story: Entrenchment in & Escape from an IFB Cult in an effort to allow others to find their voice and healing. I received a response from an IFB pastor (once connected to Falls Baptist Church and Baptist College of Ministry) regarding my story. The pastor denied me permission to cite him, but I am allowed under law to quote him anonymously… for which he writes simply, “thank you.”
I include this anonymous pastor’s response to provide a “pertinent-to-my-story” example of the IFB’s warped mindset and to show that their interpretations are completely inaccurate, leading them to continually miss the point.
Note the following items in his response:
–His never saying that the actions by the pastors mentioned in my story were wrong. He only apologizes for the “abuses as a youngster.”
–The hypothetical supposition that “much of your heartache could have been avoided,” if I had gotten professional counseling sooner… as in before (or, instead of) attending Bible college? “In retrospect, it is regrettable that you went off to Bible college before you received the healing you needed.” So, none of the professional abuses would have been existent or abusive, if I had gotten counsel for the sexual and physical abuses precipitated by the IFB doctrines (ex. Spanking)? In actuality he talks about the failed philosophy of education more than anything else.
–The postulate that Bible college is “only for a very very small group of people.” …as in elites? Now, I agree that Bible college was not the best choice for me. In fact, had it not been IFB cultish doctrine and sub-cultural pressure to teach a false dichotomy between sacred and secular, and that, “surrender to full time ministry” is the only way of being sure to follow God’s “perfect will,” then I might have followed a different path. However, the other unethical and even neglectful / illegal activities I report in my story are not excusable.
–The admission that most IFB pastors are incapable of providing counseling on the level of abuses ongoing in their own churches. Yet, as a rule, the IFB network refuses to send anyone to a professional counselor or psychiatrist…. and the pastors often build themselves up as the source for all counsel.
–The blaming of such ills on a philosophy of discipleship / education instead of unethical and sometimes illegal behavior. While it may be one of many root causes for narcissism, it is not an excuse for crime. Call crime by its name instead of pontificating.
–The charge not to be “bitter” and the implied promise of greater ‘usefulness to God’ if I do but “fly in the ointment” if I don’t. Usefulness to God looks far different than usefulness to IFB. I would rather speak truth and healing to the 2-3 people contacting me each day with their severe and horrifying abuse cases than to be seen as “ok” with IFBers.
–The statement, “My desire for you is that you vigilantly control the urge to lash back,” is typical of the IFB, who see an exposure of the common sins among their “leaders” as a threat. Clearly my story was not about lashing out but about others finding help, a voice, hope & healing.
–The Scriptural misuse and misinterpretation of Joseph’s keeping his mouth shut amid suffering. To use Joseph is bad interpretation, firstly because Joseph did speak out / act in correction of his abusive brothers. What do you think the cup in Benjamin’s sack was all about? And what about Benjamin’s portion at the table, which made his brothers feel conviction? And what about his covertly asking about all their father’s sons? What about his direct confrontation followed by their repentance? To remain silent is NOT what Joseph did to those who abused him. At the right time, he confronted them and saw their hearts. Then he was able to show his forgiving when seeing they had repented!! But, what we have with IFBers is “The pastors are doing nothing wrong, and people are just bitter and not willing to hear “‘sound doctrine.” In actuality, the IFB doctrines (non-essentials) are complete interpretational rubbish… as I demonstrate in the many linked articles scattered throughout my story.
–Posing the pastoral position as a “vulnerable” one (i.e. predator is victim). While this may be true and while a pastor can indeed become self-authoritative, his saying so misses the point of the victims’ plights under such leaders, irrationally turning the abused into the abuser.
–The claim that ‘this is a human problem, not just an IFB problem.’
–The false assertion/implication that those who are leaving the IFB are leaving Christianity altogether and/or leading lives destroyed by sin.
February 21, 2017 (11:37am)
I read all your posts in this series. I’m so sorry to hear of the abuse you endured as a youngster. I don’t know if there is a more devastating experience to endure. I’m so sorry you were subjected to such evil, and at such a young age.
I’m very glad to hear that you have been able to receive professional counseling. It seems that much of your heartache could have been avoided if you had been guided to find professional help sooner. Most pastors are not capable of providing the in depth counsel that is necessary for cases such as yours.
I pray that God will use your situation similarly to Joseph. Going through the fire that you’ve endured can prepare you to bring life to many. Let me encourage you to be on guard against bitterness. It could be a fly in the ointment that could limit all that God would like to do through you now.
In retrospect, it is regrettable that you went off to Bible college before you received the healing you needed. It is my experience that Bible college is only for a very very small group of people. It does not replace discipleship. I grieve that the local church has sold itself short and thinks that they are incapable of training the next generation of preachers as generations before us have done. The Southern Baptists are recognizing this and are partnering with local churches to work cooperatively in this regard. If more churches truly obeyed the Great Commission and had their own Bible institutes or equivilents, we wouldn’t have lost so much of the next generation. Schools are institutions and must run with institutional standards. Institutions cannot disciple as the church can. Even local church colleges that function as institutions often miss the boat. College is not discipleship. God help us when we confuse the two. I believe that the church is best served when pastors help each individual discover their gifting and come alongside them to encourage that rather than try a one size fits all approach.
I believe that we must return to apprenticeship vs. formal training. This avoids all the institutional machinery that has destroyed so many.
I believe that Christianity made a huge mistake when we started the Christian education movement. It was a colossal failure because we saw it as a discipleship tool. We no longer had the time to focus on training faithful men because it was all we could do to “raise” their children. It took all our time and money and caused churches to compete with one another, and created a kingdom building mentality. This is not a Baptist problem. This is a human problem.
I hired a professional coach for a year. This man works with pastors of all denominations. I learned that IFB problems are present in every other denomination. It’s called human nature. The pastorate is a very vulnerable profession if not viewed correctly. The pastor needs to be pastored as much as his people. We never outgrow that. Denominationalism tried to address that, but it wasn’t effective. The best situation is autonomous churches electing autonomous pastors who then select pastors that pastor them. If the pastor ever gets to a place that he believes truth is a one way street, he will begin to be self-deceived. We never outgrow a deceitful heart. The only way to gaurd against a deceitful heart is to remain approachable, transparent, and seek honest feedback.
I’m concerned that many who were hurt by IFB pastors see that hurt as being sourced in IFB rather than the heart of mankind in general. They often jump from one camp to another only to find the same problems there. They become disillusioned, and sometimes leave Christianity entirely. My desire for you is that you vigilantly control the urge to lash back at those who caused you pain as Joseph did. You will be the better for it and your ministry/usefulness will be expanded to more people. We need grace on all sides, but the only side we control is our own.
You’ve got a beautiful family. It’s so good to see you happily married and raising a little one for the Lord. God is so good.
Growing in Grace,
Anonymous IFB Pastor