What an IFB Cult Leader Sounds Like When Demanding Money

If one says the name Colonial Hills Baptist Church (Indianapolis, IN), then you might remember having seen the 20/20 news report about the church’s publicly blaming/shaming and shunning a statutory rape victim, while failing to properly report her perpetrator. Chuck Phelps was the presiding pastor at that time, and he still is the senior pastor. If you think the church bettered after the debacle, then you are sadly mistaken. 

Colonial Hills recently brought on a new international ministries development consultant, who is associated strongly with the cult known as Falls Baptist Church (FBC) in Menomonee Falls, WI. Matthew Barfield, also a VP at IPM, recently spoke (February 19, 2017) at FBC’s annual Faith Promise Giving special meeting, and his sermon is a proper example of what a cult leader sounds like when demanding money.

One can listen to the audio recording HERE, if FBC will not remove the recording. I provide a correctional critique of his “sermon” below. The text of his message is Matthew 26. [See also John 12, Luke 7 & Mark 14]

>>Barfield’s sermon is not bringing out of the text what is there, but he is using the text as a platform to preach his own talking points… which include some self-given accolades on his mastery of language(s) and ministerial exploits. 

  • The full context of the biblical account is not focused on Mary’s gift or on the doctrine of giving (contrary to what Barfield’s sermon leads one to believe) but on her great love for and belief of Jesus. Mary knew that she had been forgiven much by Jesus; and she was moved to loving action, due to her believing Jesus’ death would be soon. That was a thing even the Disciples themselves did not believe at that time. Ironically, the disciples were the ones misfocused on the gift and “giving,” just like Barfield.
  • Mary had been a prostitute. Would many churches like FBC or Colonial Hills allow a suddenly repentant prostitute to give the result of her “wages” to Jesus, let alone command that she be remembered all over the world for it? Jesus did. 
  • She did what she could” to Barfield means she sacrificed greatly in her gift giving. Contextually, it means nothing other than, A: this was a pre-purchased supply, out of what she already possessed, not what she did not have; B: Mary could not prevent His death, but she could honor His death!! She did what she could.
  • Mary’s anointing Jesus was indeed costly as Barfield notes, but the modern-day equivalent would be to give Jesus embalming fluid. That’s shockingly practical & not exactly flattering. The act sent a poignant, albeit worshipful message. The ointment Mary poured out was used in ancient days to keep stink of death down, but she used it to anoint Him before His death. In contrast, the Pharisees and disciples did not believe; and so, they did not offer to customarily wash & dry Jesus’s feet. The context draws great attention to this contrast. She believed He would die, so she anointed Him is burial ointment. They believed he would not die as Messiah, so they gave Him no common courtesy at all. The only application to be drawn from this context is that disbelievers today still refuse to give Jesus honor… not that believers must give extravagantly, to prove they are truly believers.
  • Mary was giving directly to Jesus’ physical body. Mary was NOT giving to fund missions or raise the budget via “faith promise” (pledging what she did not have on “faith”). In fact, Jesus rebuked the Disciples (particularly Judas) for making the suggestion that the money should have been used for the “Jesus mission fund.” [It is doubly ironic that Barfield is raising funds for missions. He is more Judas than he knows.] 
  • Jesus clearly states the purpose of the passage, when He commands that Mary should be remembered for what she did, after saying she did it for His burial (v. 13). In contrast and in illogic, Barfield charges the audience to give, or they may not be a true believer. If they truly believe in Christ’s return, then they should give extravagantly in light of Jesus’ return, just as Mary gave extravagantly (in light of His death). There’s nothing like a cult leader telling people to give, or else they may not truly be a believer (i.e. headed for Hell & damnation); and by the chance they are a genuine believer, then they certainly won’t have rewards in Heaven unless they give like Mary—extravagantly. 

>>Barfield—with his many appeals for “surrender”—creates (as a cult always does) a false dichotomy between the sacred & the secular, between “the ministry / mission field” and a secular profession… which—in reality—leads to the discontent Barfield describes as a common thought pattern among clergy, when people are not giving enough to missions. Instead, missionaries should just hold “tent-making” jobs like the Apostle Paul.

>>Barfield’s allusion to 2 Corinthians 8 and the example of the Apostle Paul receiving gifts from the Corinthians vs. Macedonians is stretched beyond the context. The context is DISASTER RELIEF for fellow churches to relieve the suffering of the saints (2 Corinthians 8:4). It was a one-time offering asked to be received… not an every year or even every month or week collection. In fact, the Bible never commands the New Testament believer to give a tithe. The passage actually teaches that churches are supposed to note when other churches have endure peril, and then, seek to relieve their plight by whatever means possible. More importantly, Mary’s gift (Matthew 26) was also a 1 time gift… not an annual thing.

>>Barfield forgets verses 12-13 of 2 Corinthians 8, which state believers should give out of what they have AND not give in a way that causes themselves to be in need… which also happens to make Faith Promise Giving unbiblical. 

>>Barfield directly implies—near the end of the sermon—that if someone does not give like Mary, then he/she does not love Jesus the way He loves us… and is on the side of Judas. That is a twisting of the Scriptures!

Conclusion:

Thankfully, the Bible does not teach anything close to “Faith Promise Giving.” In fact, the New Testament believer is never instructed to give a “tithe.” Rather, the Bible teaches free-will & joy-filled giving to those who are in need, but not in such a way as to put the giver in need. There may be ocaisions where disaster strikes and sacrifices are warranted, so that others may have food and shelter and clothing; but to state that extravagant giving is expected regularly by God… or, to say that one may not truly believe if he does not give extravagantly… is sheer cult tactic by a cult leader.

Anonymous FBC-Affiliated Evangelist Responds to My Story

A few days ago, I was contacted by a Falls Baptist Church affiliated evangelist… who speaks often at Falls Baptist Church special meetings and conferences. I receive 1-2 contacts like this per month, stating how angry/bitter or deceived I am, how good Falls is & how I should not write or say what I am writing and saying, particularly in reference to My Story.

I am astonished how these individuals answer matters without hearing them, which the Bible clearly states is to practice foolishness (Proverbs 18:13). Moreover they charge me with unethical behavior, both when I blow the proverbial whistle at the crimes of Falls Baptist Church… or when I post their accusatory emails anonymously. This evangelist did not wish to be cited by name, like all the others. In the instance of the below message, I had not heard from the person in several years. 

_BEGIN MESSAGE FROM EVANGELIST_

How are you doing, Sam? I am in Wisconsin again, right now in a revival campaign where God is responding to our prayers in _________. I am taking a minute to send you this message about a couple of things, but would be glad to talk with you on the phone if you wish.

Recently I came across some things you wrote on your blog (you’ll have to forgive me for my technical ignorance–I use the internet mainly for e-mail messages like this one; I have a Facebook account but mainly neglect it, and hardly understand what “blogging” is) about the IFB cult and particularly your experience at Falls. I am not angry with you or upset, but I thought I should pass on a few impressions:

Speaking positively, let me tell you that I was at the Falls Mens’ Retreat last week, and found the men in remarkable spiritual shape. This last year, there has been a noticeable lift in the atmosphere in the church, that can be related to the new emphasis on personal time with God. I mean you can feel the difference when you are with men from the church. No kidding. Also any given Sunday, the church is loaded with new converts learning to walk with Jesus, as well as seekers who are being drawn to Him. Again, no kidding.

I should also say that the leadership of the church has given attention to improving and correcting the way things have been handled in the past. You can see the difference in the College.  

Sam, for some time some of what you write would give any attentive reader the impression that you have some ax to grind, some grudge against certain people, that influences the spirit and sometimes the rationale of your words. In the past I have thought I would point this out, but was unsure how you would take it. I had contemplated asking if you had a personal issue with me. Maybe I should have spoken sooner.

The truth is, there is no IFB cult. Independent Baptist churches are by definition independent and varied in their teachings and practices. Fundamentalism is a principle and not a denomination.

When you change your views, you should probably move on and leave your former associates alone. Pray for them. Maybe state your case to them privately, but don’t try to hurt them. Some day, we regret such activities. Venting anger over the past doesn’t really heal people. It keeps them stuck in a miserable pit of confusion and resentment. Having grace to move on can and does heal people.

Sam, you are an intelligent man, and you serve the Lord Jesus. I risk our friendship by writing you this note, but I hope we can stay friends. Take these thoughts for what they are worth. I have prayed for you today, and would be glad to discuss any of this if you wish.  

__END MESSAGE FROM EVANGELIST_

Here is my response:

“Thank you for writing.

If there is any voice from “my past” (as you say) that I am inclined to listen to, it would be yours.

However, what you write reveals how little you know of what has gone on behind the scenes… and continues at Falls Baptist Church. If you will consider for a moment the fact you are always a revered guest in their presence, then you should also quickly come to understand that you may never see the Falls that members and students are faced with.

As for your advice to speak directly with the pastors and staff at FBC: I have done on multiple occasions and by many means. Never once did anyone still on staff at FBC/BCM offer anything close to a humble apology. A few others (who have since left FBC/BCM associations) have apologized. At the culmination of my appeals to them, I sent back my diplomas with a call for their repentance, hoping this would jar them into some seriousness. I never received so much as an acknowledgment. I lay that to their conscience before God.

As opposed to you, I do use technology as a tool. It is the “street preaching” of my generation and those after me. As a result of utilizing the venues with which you have little acquaintance, I shared My Story, being sure there were others who had suffered similarly to me, if not worse. My certainty became concretely affirmed when (after sharing my story), I began to receive no less than 2-3 contacts a day from people whose stories either match or rival mine in serious biblical offense, not to mention criminality, under the hands of FBC/BCM administration and staff. The weight of these contacts was so grievous, I started an online support group. Within 3 days, more than 125 people had joined the group. A high-ranking member of the Menomonee Falls police force is sympathetic to our group. The group now has 132 members—some of which are former deacons, staff & administration of FBC/BCM. It can be stated from evidence that the most dedicated and committed individuals at FBC/BCM are abused the most.

Again, the stories that these individuals write are not just biblically serious offenses; they are (in some cases) criminal, repeated and covered up. Like his father before him, Wayne Van Gelderen, Jr. seems to like sweeping serious matters under the proverbial rug. I will list the genre of criminality to you, as reported by the members of the group:

A. Failure to report sexual abuse of minors 

B. Failure to report physical abuse of minors

C. Failure to report adult domestic battery and/or domestic rape. [Among these claims, it is alleged that staff appeared in court and lied about this kind of matter under oath, to the detriment of a mother and children, all in order to keep one of their evangelists (also accused of adultery) out of trouble]

D. Destruction of property

E. Failure to pay wages / minimum wage

F. Detainment of an adult against his will (under lock & key)

G. Child neglect / mistreatment by nursery staff

H. Harassment 

I. Blackmail and Coercion 

J. Destruction of evidence

Civil matters reported include:

A. Non-performance of academic contract

B. False advertising of academic product

C. Discrimination

D. Defamation of Character to the point of personal/professional injury by breaking professional clergy / laity confidentiality.

When I wrote my story, did I set out to gain a following? No. But, many have come to me; they know I want no following, but they also find healing by reading the same truths that God used to dispel untruth from my heart… particularly the bad interpretation, half-truths and outright lies, under which they were held by Falls/BCM and “sister” churches. It was God who laid these poor, abused, conflicted and discarded souls at my feet after His first having taken me through some of their plight.

THEREFORE, I obey the Bible, when in Proverbs 31:8-9. it reads: (NLT: check the Hebrew. It is correctly translated).

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. and see that they get justice.”

So, in that regard, I will not follow your baseless advice to “move on and leave my former associates alone” after having changed my views.

As to your charge that I “have an axe to grind” (i.e. am angry or bitter or filled with other vengeful motives), I’d say that you can hardly ascertain that by reading My Story, especially when I directly state my purpose in the text itself. Do you claim to know my motivations by some divine revelation, sir? If so, you are in company with Falls in that. As stated above, my aim now is to provide solace and spiritual direction to all those God sees fit to send to me or who care to hear me out. Others have read my accounts and have concluded (upon reading all of the linked articles within the text) that I wish only to serve and warn others of the pitfalls of the Independent Fundamental Baptists’ common “philosophies of ministry” and their erroneous interpretations on which those philosophies are ill-based. Falls is but my case-in-point example.

Do I believe Falls is a cult? Yes. Do I believe the IFB movement is largely cultish? Yes… not for its holding the essentials of historic, biblicist Christianity BUT for touting non-essential philosophies and “standards” as equal to the essential doctrines & by creating a subculture within their “churches”—since the late 1930’s & early 1940’s—that put men in the place of God and nearly altogether has erased the believer’s mandate to follow only the Holy Spirit (in accordance with the scriptures). In essence, they have removed priesthood of the believer in favor of following “emperor style” leadership, as John Van Gelderen has so aptly put it. [By the way, do consider why John would distance himself from his own brother]. They have become lords over God’s heritage, and this is strictly forbidden; by this they disqualify themselves from the one office they claim to keep! They have little to no true accountability [no, nepotism does not count] and their cavalier attitudes and policies regarding crimes are atrocious. In these ways, the IFB is more than a little cultish; and Indiana [my home State] has been PLAGUED, sir, by the cancer of such churches, from Chuck Phelps to Hepzibah House to Jack Schapp to Jack Hyles and to David Zempel (who is deep in the Van Gelderen web). Yes, in these things, the IFB has become every bit a cult movement with many varied associations and schools under which it is loosely organized but tightly held.

As to your observation that they are improved at Falls. A man or even an organization of men may improve their behavior, all the while never “getting right” with those they grievously offended, biblically and/or lawfully. I am not impressed, until they observe the same humility they preach and ask for forgiveness publicly, and in showing true fruits of repentance, seek to make amends/restitutions for their wrongs!

_________, you were once a bright spot in my training years. I do not have and never have had a personal grievance with you. If I had, I would have told you directly, because that is (perhaps opposed to your opinion of me) the way I biblically operate; it is the way I operated with Falls, until they proved brazenly unrepentant and to be devouring God’s Sheep in the name of their “cause.” We had a friendship once; and I believe we are still brothers in Jesus. But, I do not pretend that still we have a fellowship together… even before you wrote the email to which I now reply. We certainly may stay acquaintances. 

I welcome the prayers. Our God sifts them. I bless you in Jesus’ name and pray every good thing He has to be on your life.

Regards,

Sam Kean

An Anonymous IFB Pastor’s Response to “My Story”

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.

______________________

BEGIN MESSAGE:

February 21, 2017 (11:37am)

Hi Sam,

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

_______________________

END MESSAGE

My Story: Entrenchment in & Escape from an IFB Cult

Chapter 1, The Juggling Act

Chapter 2, Not God’s Fault 

Chapter 3, False Dichotomy

Chapter 4, In a Child’s Mind

Chapter 5, Out of the Frying Pan…

Chapter 6, …Into the Fire

Chapter 7, Blessing, Crime & Punishment

Chapter 8, Summons & Complaint

Chapter 9, Broken. Free.

Chapter 10, Healing

Addendum–the How of My Healing

______________________

OTHER RESOURCES:

The reason there are so many cases of abuse (physical & sexual) in the IFB movement is they are all about man-made rules, and “These rules have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:23).

What an IFB Cult Leader Sounds Like When Demanding Money

Anonymous FBC-Affiliated Evangelist Responds to My Story

An Anonymous IFB Pastor’s Response to “My Story”

Confessions Of A Heretic Husband: Guest Post – Exposing the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination 

Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Cult Survivors (And their Supporters)

5 Restorative Books for The Wounded & Weary Christian

Toxic Faith and in PDF

The Achilles Heel of Fundamentalism | Think Gospel

Ungodly Discipline | CNN

New Gothard Revelations Hint at BJU’s Ugly History of Abuse – BJU News

Explosive: Is WI GOP Operative Brian Sikma’s Church More Racist Than Westboro Baptist?

20/20 report (IFB) Idependant Fundamentalist Baptist Church’s | Video (YouTube)

With | Skye Jethani

The Truths that are Setting Me Free

BaptistDeception.com

The Case for a Deliberated Ecumenism | parts 1-4

SHOCKING TESTIMONIALS FROM IFB CULT SURVIVORS!!!

Breaking Silence on Indiana’s Racism

TINA ANDERSON’S STORY IFB CULT ABUSE

Teen Victim Claims Rape; Forced Confession

Healing Spiritual Abuse

Church told to change recruiting methods | CBS 58

Stop Baptist Predators

Exposing the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination

The Wartburg Watch: IFB & Who Do the Independent Fundamentalist Baptists Say They Are? & What are the Colleges of the IFB?

DIARY OF AN IFB CULT SURVIVOR

True Confessions of a Convert

Teen Charged With Sexually Assaulting a 6-year-old Girl | I know first-hand that the staff at FBC claimed Mucha was merely a visitor, when in fact he was a long-time attender (at least 8-10 yrs.) with his grandparents and known to be troubled. This false claim perhaps was done to reduce liability and scrutiny.

Girl, 15, Allegedly Raped, Pregnant, Then Forced to Confess to Church | ABC News

The fundamentally toxic Christianity | Patheos

Jack Schaap, Indiana Pastor, Claimed Jesus Wanted Him To Have Sex With Teenage Girl | Huffington Post

Jack Schaap Charged, Paul Chappell Speaks Out, and The Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement’s Next Steps | Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer

Dr. Charles Phelps | Wikipedia

First Baptist Church, Hammond IN

There’s No Wrapping Your Head Around Israel-Turkey-NATO-Russia-Iran

The 4th of July weekend for Americans is a time to let one’s hair down, to grill out and enjoy friends and family. Apparently, last weekend was a time for the Middle East to weave bizarre, self-contradictory webs of irrational alliances and partnerships. All of this can only lead to further tension build-up, inevitable fallout and the full eruption of the Gog and Magog War (WWIII).