I scroll down read the headline,
It screams at you doesn’t it? The title rings of those WW2 news reels that played in front of the Bing Crosby and Bob Hope main feature. The staccato style narrator describes all the countries where the Nazis had taken over while a dramatic Bernard Hermann soundtrack plays behind the voice over.
The article is really a reprint from October 18th, 2006, but with a few updates that includes the emails of IFB pastors to Bro. Cloud offering their hand-wringing expose’ as to why young fundamentalists are succumbing to the onslaught of Calvinism. Their sentiments are similar to the garment rending lament of Hughie Seaborn I reported sometime ago.
The consensus offered by the pastors as to why Calvinism has “crept in unawares” into IFB churches and has gained popularity among many young, IFBs, is due in part to their objection to the shallow evangelistic techniques taught in IFB Bible schools, the influence of Irish Presbyterian minister, Ian Paisley, and the uncritical exposure to contraband books written by men like John Piper, John MacArthur, and R.C. Sproul.
Perhaps some of these things are true, but if I may offer my suggestions as to the upsurge of Calvinism among young IFBs:
– The utter nonsense of conspiratorial driven, tin-foil hat theology that shapes the worldview of a lot of these churches. This Jack Chick philosophy posits a satanically led “they-vs-us” spirituality where the Roman Catholic Church, U.N., and the Illuminati, border on being divinely omnipotent and wield power to undermine God’s purposes. Instead, I believe many of these young IFBers see in scripture a sovereign God who is in control over the direction of our world and the unfolding of human history.
– The rejection of man-made, draconian holiness codes imposed upon church members so they are forced to toil throughout their Christian lives under a burden of choking legalism. Rather than caring whether or not they have sinned against God by wearing short pants or liking CCM, these young fundamentalists have experienced God’s liberating grace that instills a deep, abiding love in their hearts so that personal holiness is a joyful desire, not a burdensome dread.
– The doctrinally devoid, finger-wagging sermons, yelled out by shrill, loud shouting preachers who more than often mangle the meaning of the text during their presentations. Calvinists have historically delighted in sound, biblical preaching; the kind where the preacher handles the text with respect and unfolds the passage before his audience with careful exposition. MacArthur, Piper, and even Sproul, certainly do this and hence the reason why young IFBers who are raised in churches with the yelling style preaching that mishandles the Bible will gravitate to Calvinism.
– The buffoonish methods and manipulative gimmicks that are falsely called “evangelical outreach” and “soul-winning” which are merely performed to inflate church numbers rather than convert sinners. Calvinists are wrongly accused of being lazy or uncaring when it comes to evangelism and missions. But is tricking people into attending a church service with the promise of a free pizza dinner, or manipulating them to walk an aisle at the end of an emotionally charged “revival” service just to get them to pray a quick prayer of inviting Jesus in their hearts with no thought of discipling the people, really any more lazy and uncaring? The up-and-coming IFBs recognize the folly of the traditional “soul-winning” methods. More importantly, sinners evangelized by Calvinists have a higher retention rate than those who walked the aisle at a fundamentalist “revival” service.
– The mean-spirited, ungracious separatism that is lifted up in the guise of “keeping the church pure.” Certainly Calvinists can be ungracious separatists, but IFB churches are masters. This is especially true when it comes to condemning a pastor who may have let his deacons go to a conference where one of the speakers has been declared “under the ban” by the IFB community at large. Never mind the fact the banned speaker may had been one out of 7 others at the conference who aren’t considered banned. And God have mercy upon the IFB school or church if they were the ones who held the conference to let the banned speaker speak!
I happen to welcome this Calvinistic renewal among young Independent, Fundamental Baptists. May their numbers and influence increase! For I believe it will be these young, Calvinistic IFBers who will deliver Christian fundamentalism from the reputation of being a haven for militant crazy people. If David Cloud and his supporters are serious about standing against the defection toward Calvinism by the younger generations, not only will they have to honestly address these issues in their ranks, but they well also have to reform their mindset in response.