Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Modern Baptist Movements

Unfortunately, our study of Baptists history forces us to examine conventions, associations, and fellowships started by Baptists. I say this, because the Lord never instructed or commanded there to be such organizations; but established and has taught us only independent autonomous churches. Boards, fellowships, conventions, and associations are the inventions of man, and as a result, are destined to fail. In studying such organizations, one will quickly see the repetitive theme of power, division, and splintering. It would seem man's attempt to 'improve' God's way of missions is a continued reason for the creating of such organizations. Though the motivation is respectable, the means are still wrong. One will find himself much more successful in the Lord's work by accomplishing it the Lord's way. Let us examine briefly the modern Baptist movements after the Revolutionary War, and bring our study of Baptist History to a close. By the early 1800's there were only a few small fellowships such as the Warren Association and Philadelphia Association. These soon were divided into three organizations: the American Baptist Home Mission Society, American Baptist Missionary Union, and the American Baptist Publication Society. An anti-missionary movement began around 1814. It was rooted in Calvinism and led to a withdrawal from such fellowships. This group against fellowships formed a fellowship (ironic, yet still repeated today) and became known as Hardshell Baptist or Primitive Baptist. They were, because of Calvinistic beliefs, against sending missionaries and means of evangelism. Around the same time, a missionary named Adoniram Judson and his wife set sail for Calcutta. There were already Baptist missionaries there which they did not agree doctrinally with, but their long cruise would provide them ample time to prepare to debate them on their beliefs. It was while on this trip in studying the Scriptures to debate the Baptists, that the Scriptures revealed to them that it was them who were in error. Upon arriving in Calcutta, the Judsons were baptized Scripturally and joined with the Baptists. They knew this decision would would not allow the churches supporting them to continue their support. A friend of theirs who also was Scripturally Baptized upon arrival, Luther Rice, was sent back to the states to raise support for the Judsons. This would lead to a man made 'solution' to the Judson's problem, the beginning of the "General Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States for Foreign Missions." The convention would become known as the Triennial Convention because it would meet every three years. It became the main convention for Baptists until the mid 1800's. Of course, around this time our nation was entering her Civil War. The issue of slavery not only was a hot topic for our nation, but amongst Baptist churches as well. An attempt to take a neutral stand on the issue would not succeed. A missionary sent out of a church in Alabama went to the Triennial Convention for 'approval' but was denied because he owned slaves. This upset the churches in the south, and in 1845, the Baptist in the southern states withdrew from the Triennial Convention and formed the Southern Baptist Convention. There were many great men who served our Lord as part of the convention, and a list displayed would be sure to leave off names of men who served our Lord faithfully. One Southern Baptist leader was J.R. Graves. J.R. Graves would serve the Lord as a pastor for nearly 50 years in Kentucky and Tennessee. Bro. Graves began to notice the growing power and influence of the convention and began sounding the alarm. J.R. Graves called for a return to doctrine and the local church and the principles of the Word of God. He taught that the convention threatened the autonomy of the local church. Bro. Graves, and men like him, called for Baptists to return to those principles, or landmarks, of the faith. Thus began the Landmark movement amongst Baptists. Upon its beginning, and true 'Landmarkers' today do not believe in a visible, traceable line of succession from church to church back to Christ, but rather a steadfastness to the principles, or landmarks, of the faith that Christ taught and gave to the church. When the Southern Baptist Convention splintered off from the Triennial Convention, the Triennial Convention changed their name to the American Baptist Missionary Union. The American Baptist, or Northern Baptists Convention, would continue to send many missionaries all across the world. Soon, as with every man made convention, fellowship, or organization, compromise and modernism was slipping in. The Conservative Baptist Association was formed in 1920 within the Northern Baptist Convention to fight this drift. There are many great revivals and men who preached truth during this time period. Contrary to 'fundamentalist' today, there were many Baptist revivals and church plants going on as well. This author would recommend literature by Pastor James Beller on the great Baptist Revivals in our early American history. Associations, conventions, and fellowships continued (and continue) to grow from divisions and splintering. Today's choice of word is not 'convention' but 'fellowship,' Yet, they are mostly the same thing, a man made organization in attempt to improve and help God and His way. They are always destined to destruction. Let us further examine the movements. After the Civil War, a growth in liberalism and modernism began in our nation. Truth was being attacked. This attack was strengthened by the philosophy of Rationalism. Men like Immanuel Kant, G.F. Hegel, and Albrecht Ritschl began tearing down the Bible and Truth. These men's influence spread from Germany to America and American Liberalism was born. A call to compromise, no Absolutes, love every one and everything, and no authorities! The work of Charles Darwin further flamed the errors. Sin became more prevalent and indulged in. Battle lines were drawn, and a new movement began. This movement is called 'Fundamentalism.' The movement was founded upon a call to return to the 'Fundamentals of the Faith:' the Virgin Birth, Innerancy of Scriptures, Christ's Substitutionary Death, Resurrection, and Return. Upon these 'fundamentals' were denominations unified to fight the modernism and liberalism. Realizing that the 'schools of higher learning' were instructing the American young people to be liberal and attack Christianity, the Fundamentalists began their own Religious Schools to combat. Schools were founded like Moody Bible and Boston Missionary Training School, and later Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian, and many of today's 'Baptist' Colleges. Fundamentalism began to meld into one Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and such. The PROBLEM IS: 1. Scripture Forbids Fellowship with Unbelief (2 John 7-11) 2. Scripture Commands to reprove apostasy (Eph. 5:11) 3. We must purge unbelief if we can (1 Cor. 5:1-7) 4. Believers and Unbelievers are not to be yoked together (2 Cor. 6:14-18) 5. We are to separate from disobedient brothers (1 Cor. 5:11; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 Thess. 3:6) 6. God's Work done man's way will lack the blessing of God (2 Sam. 15:23) 7. We cannot affiliate with churches or movements which do not practice the full Word of God (2 Chron. 19:2) (adopted from Doug Hammet-"History of Baptist" pg. 262-263) We must not, cannot compromise Truth. The Lord's churches are to be the "Pillar and Ground of Truth." (1 Tim. 3:15) This author is NOT A FUNDAMENTALIST! I cannot join hands with those who grossly walk in error. I can and do love them and desire to help them and will discuss these things with them, but the 'Fundamentalist' movement of today should be for many reasons avoided by true Baptists. Yet, most Baptist churches still proclaim to be "Independent Fundamental Baptist. I still find it on our churches productions and literature and am still in the process of purging it all. Let us conclude. The modern Baptist movement of conventions and fellowships continue today. As does the rise to power, divisions, and splintering. Thus we see the following: Conservative Baptist Association of America split from the Northern Baptist and today have approximately 300,000 members. The American Baptist Association organized in 1924 split over 'Landmarkism' and today are estimated to have over 700,000 members in mostly the South. The General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (G.A.R.B.C.) is prominent in the Northern States and is considered the successor of the Baptist Bible Union as a split from the Northern Baptist Convention. The World Baptist Fellowship began as a split from the Baptist Bible Union under J. Frank Norris and today has a membership of around 700,000. The Southwide Baptist Fellowship is prominent in the south east and began under the leadership of Dr. Lee Roberson, it also saw the organization of B.I.M.I. (Baptist International Missions Inc). It is a loose fellowship of Baptist churches heading towards modernism today (as they all eventually do). The Baptist Missionary Association began in 1950 as a split from the American Baptist Association over procedure issues. They tend to stand for a more separated life and strong church truth. The Baptist Bible Fellowship, one of the largest fundamental groups in the U.S., began as a split from the World Baptist Fellowship. There are over 2 million members in the BBF. It too has strayed from Truth and towards modernism with textual criticism and a lack of holiness and separation. There are many large colleges under the BBF influencing thousands of young people (Bible Baptist College, Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College, etc). We could continue to discuss all the boards, fellowships, conventions that exist today, but time or space does not permit. The BBF has split and begun various organizations, as they all have and their 'offspring' will split and produce even more. Why? Because they are all para-church or will end that way. They are man made. They will fail. The Lord Jesus Christ began the first church with His disciples. He gave to that church and the churches it started the doctrine of the New Testament. Those principles were passed down from church to church as they discipled and birthed other churches. It is these principles, these truths, to which the Lord's churches must hold and be faithful. May we, by God's grace, continue doing so-and doing it God's way!