Permanent Decisions

For many fundamentalists the entirety of their spiritual life is comprised of a series of moments in time in which they have made BIG DECISIONS. If you’re a fundy nine-year-old who has just decided in the throes of religious fervor that he’s going to become a preacher boy, never kiss a girl until he’s married, and never buy alcohol at any place where they sell gas (the details are often confusing for a nine-year old) then you had better plan on never, ever changing your mind. For he who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for fundystand.

What’s that you say, John? You want to go to a state school and be an engineer? Don’t you remember surrendering to missions during our Patch the Pirate Club back in the summer of ’91? And a missionary doesn’t need a state school, he needs training at our basement bible college…

Esther, do you really think you’re going to marry that guy you met at work? Didn’t you promise when you were but a wee girl to let your parents pick someone for you to helpmeet? I’m sure God doesn’t want you going back on your word.

Bill, didn’t you swear as a teenager that you were going to give half your income to missions for the rest of your life? Need I remind you where liars go?

There’s a reason that minors are not allowed to enter into a legal contract. If only there were the same prohibition on them entering into a life-altering spiritual one as well.

127 thoughts on “Permanent Decisions”

  1. It’s funny, though, that the only “permanent decision” that doesn’t stick is the decision to follow Christ. For that you have to walk the aisle over, and over, and over and over…

    1. That does present both a bit of a pickle and an interesting loophole.

      Does surrendering to the mission field count if you weren’t _really_ saved yet at the time? If not then I suppose you could say that you just did it as part of “playing church” and then be able to go find a new “leading” to do something else.

      1. I have seen it used more as a loophole. As in, “I wasn’t REALLY saved when I divorced my spouse…so it should not be open for discussion in any future premarital counseling situations.” Fundies would be better of to read some Luther, recognize that what we need is a life of repentance rather than one of getting saved every Sunday…this time it’s really, really real. ๐Ÿ™„

    2. Actually, yes and no to this one. Yes, fundies allow people, especially kids, to get “saved” over and over again. But at the same time you have the kids that “said the prayer” when they were 5, have never done anything since then in regards to true spiritual growth and if their Salvation is ever brought into question the line I hear is, “No, they are saved. I remember when they were 5 and they repeated The Prayer. They just aren’t living for God right now. We should continue to pray that they return back to God.” I always want to ask, “Return???” When were they ever part of God’s family?” Sorry, this one gets personal for me. ๐Ÿ™

      1. Ah yes, the old “Jesus is my savior but not my Lord” line. It’s amazing how seriously people can mess up simple theology. My favorite is treating the children that grew up in the church, repenting of their sins and participating in worship, as suspect until they have a “conversion experience.” Yeah, I have words for that but they are not becoming of even a non-fundy pastor. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        1. I’m glad I’m an Anglican now. One Lord, one baptism. A commitment from the parents and church community to nurture and pray for the infant, not something dumped on a kid.

        2. I hated that.

          I actually had my testimony as a Christian questioned by my youth group in late high school because of course a devoted rules-follower – who had never had a chance to get into any real trouble even if I’d really wanted to – didn’t have a ‘and I was sinful as I could be, here’s my school disciplinary record to prove how vile I was’ conversion story, just an ‘and that year in Vacation Bible School I realized that being a good little girl wasn’t enough and prayed The Prayer’ story.

          It’s probably been a decade by now since that day, and I’m fairly sure I still haven’t done anything bad enough for them to have trusted a conversion according to the standards I was held to that day!

      2. You are making someone else’s problem your own. Yes, the parents are dumb for assuming the child is saved, but really, it is nobodies place to judge the validity of someone else’s salvation based upon their works or “what they have done” in regards to “true” spiritual growth (how do you determine what is true and what is not?).

        I’m not disagreeing with the sentiment, but it always comes across as self righteous when I read stuff like this, because you are basically saying “they haven’t grown truly, like I have, therefore they are not saved”.

        Personally, I think this decisional salvation (I made a choice, now I am saved) is a bit ridiculous. You either hear the word and believe it, or you hear the word and reject it. There isn’t any other step such as “I heard the word believed it, prayed a prayer/repented of my sin/walked the aisle/got baptised/whatever and then God saved me”. It’s “I heard that God saved me. Marvellous!”

        I guess that line of thought is quite calvinist, although I don’t believe I am one.

  2. Yeah, it’s even worse when your parents take you up on it. “Remember when you said last year you wanted to be a missionary? We’re going!”

    I also said I wanted a motor bike, Dad. Where’s that?

        1. You don’t need to feel sorry for me, Seen (or anyone else). And Emo Philips has helped me laugh my way out of a lot of situations where I might have felt sorry for myself.

          However, if you want to hit the Paypal button for the Buy-an-Mk-a-motorbike fund…

  3. Many adults go back on their word concerning this kind of thing as well. They make an emotional decision and then can’t stick with it. And it’s not just women (surprise!) Many grown men surrender to be a preacher and then for whatever reason don’t fulfill it, but it’s much worse for missionaries. I heard that of all the people (kids and adults alike) who surrender to go to the mission field, approximately one of a hundred actually makes it. The rest fall by the wayside somewhere. Others actually begin in one field and end up in another.

    Many of these kids get saved over and over and over. They can’t even be sure of their salvation. How can they be expected to remember and follow through on other decisions? ๐Ÿ˜•

    1. True enough about not following through, but at the same time I throw some of that back onto colleges, church leadership, older wiser Christians. For example, at my fundy college there were guys that were in all of the preacher boy classes because “God called them to preach” and the college gladly took their money, but the reality was and is that many of them did not have and would never have the actual skill set to be a pastor. If we as students could tell that there were some that would never be pastors, than why didn’t someone in administration take them aside and tell them? Money??? Just saying. Several years ago I attended a non-fundy church and we had a young couple that were training to go to the mission field. They were completely incompetent in their personal relationships and their skill sets to be missionaries, but the leadership of the denomination sent them out to the field. They were back in less than 6 months and have never gone back. The majority of our church members knew it, but the leadership refused to listen.

      1. Did “the majority of our church members [who] knew it” actually speak up? Were they free or brave enough to say no? I’ll bet not.

        Your mileage may vary, so I’ll tell a long story on myself.

        A few years ago, I was a member of a church. Someone I knew well applied for membership. I knew that this individual had been a disruptive and divisive presence at several churches as well as the company I worked at (where the individual was actively trying to get their boss fired, terminated for cause). I did not say anything, convincing myself it was okay because: A) there might have been a change in this individual’s life; B) it would look un-Chrisitan of me; C) the injuctions to “Judge Not” and against “Cast the first stone” were too powerful to overcome. Within a year, the pastor had left, the music pastor had left, the youth department where the individual had “volunteered to help” before taking over was a shambles and the family who had overseen it for years had left, my family had left for synagogue life, and the individual at the center of all of this turmoil was shacked up with an internet romance while seeking a divorce. And, except for the divorce, this was a pattern this individual had repeated multiple times before, and at least once since.

        The danger of Fundyland is that the Fundies really do believe this stuff.

        1. Something strange that I have only seen in certain denominations is that when someone comes to join the church, the members vote on accepting him or her as a member. Of course, it’s just a formality. Only once have I seen anyone vote against accepting a a new member, and the lone dissenter and her family were later run out of town.

          In the same church, a former accountant, fresh out of prison for embezzlement, felt led to take charge of the church finances to prove he could resist temptation. The pastor made it clear that anyone who disagreed was being unchristian, and made him Treasurer. Guess who was later found embezzling church funds?

      2. Divorce was about the only qualification I ever wittnessed as a showstopper for being a preacher. They ignored all the other qualifications necessary. Fruit of the Spirit, apt to teach, gentle, no filthy lucre etc… I wittnessed at least 6 men become “preachers” that were no were close to qualified. No one dare tell them. Who are we little people to question “Gods Calling”?

        1. I have never understood why fundies (and other Christians) overlook the first qualification for a preacher. “He that desireth the office of a bishop…….” I do not believe that I have ever heard anyone preach that you should not be a preacher if you do not desire it. They make it sound okay to be coerced into being a preacher against your will while the Bible teaches that you must desire it.

        2. I had a friend that was in the middle of seminary at PCC when his wife left him. There are always two sides to every story so I won’t judge who was right and who was wrong – but he had to hurry up and finish before the divorce was final so he could graduate with a degree that was, in Fundystan, useless. No IFB church will let him preach because he is divorced – and getting remarried.

          That’s the true badge of dishonor in Fundystan – divorce.

        3. They always use the excuse of “God’s will” or “God’s calling” to silence anyone who might question them. The minute someone says, “It’s how God is leading me” or “It’s God’s will” that shuts up the questions since no one wants to tread on the possibility of questioning God’s will in someone’s life.

          Unless… those people attend First Baptist Church of Hammond Indiana. In which case you can explain that you feel God leading you in a certain direction and they will jump all over you saying it isn’t. I had some friends attending there who had gone to college there and had finished and now they felt led to return to their hometown. The people at First Baptist didn’t want to lose them so they kept saying it was wrong to leave, God was surely not leading them that way. I thought how could they know? But those people loved to play God! ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

        4. Even a trial seperation can be as bad a divorce. I know at least one guy, a friend of mine, whose parents were missiaonaries in a fundy-type organisation. When my friend was in his teens his parents went through a tough time in their marriage, to the point that they seperated in that they went to live in different houses, to have some breathing space. Instead of the church trying to help, they where regarded as an embarressment, and not-so-politely told to leave. They lost their spiritual home, lost their jobs and were branded as “Sinners” (witha captial “S”). In a way they also lost their son, because my friend turned against Christianity and adopted a crazy self-destructive lifestyle. After pretty near killing himself, he has moderated his behavior, but still has no interest in Chrisianity. I’m still praying for him.

      3. It was the same at the FU I went to. For those who still felt “the call” was for them, but had no skill or academic ability. For those guys, there was “Practical Christian Training.” It was the least practical degree one could have. It wasn’t very “Christian” for the university to offer it, and trained them to do absolutely nothing.

        1. Enrolling unqualified people and giving them beyond useless degrees boosts enrollment and brings in money to keep supporting the fundy machine.

          Hey, it works for them…and isn’t that all that really matters? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. Oh, how I have missed you guys in the last few days. My internet connection is awful so I haven’t gotten on in a few days. Yes, they try to force kids to make decisions about all kinds of things before they have time to think for themselves (like where to go to college) my kids school pulled another “chapel” that was nothing more than a comercial for Maranatha Bible College and were tricked into filling out the cards by saying they could win a wii! I expressed my disgust at that but that is another topic… and then they guilt the crap out of them during every sermon to make them doubt the most important and simple decision which is to TRUST CHRIST!

    3. I responded to “The Call”. I even announced it to my youth group. And for years, up until about two years ago, I thought I had to keep my word or else God would hate me. It was driving me mad thinking about all my failures, doubts etc and how I was meant to be a preacher in the future (I’d left fundyland by this point, but still carried tremendous guilt) And about two years ago I just figured – buh, I’m not a preacher – well, I’m not a fundamentalist preacher. If God wants me to preach, pastor, teach etc, then He will tell me clearly in my own time, and actually provide me the supply & ability to do it.

  4. my first post!

    yeah but anyway…

    “need i remind you where liars go?”…huh. i ACTUALLY heard that one in high school. of course it was in the context of a joke. by a teacher. calling the bob jones curriculum a joke (which i did a little too loudly) is totally disrespectful. but joking about something in the BIBLE is totally cool. ๐Ÿ™„

    1. Are you THE George everyone blames their typos on? I see you made a few in your own post. You failed to capitalize some words that ought to have been capitalized. But I often make that “error” when I’m writing about a person I disrespect. Some people’s names I don’t capitalize when I’m attempting to belittle them. ๐Ÿ˜†

      1. LOL. no. its not even my real name. i just didn’t want to put my real name for certain reasons. i just put george down cuz i was listening to the beatles (george harrison) and i couldn’t think of a clever forum name

        1. Well if there ever was a good reason for picking a forum name, that is one. Now if I could only get my (25-year-old) husband to STOP playing the Beatles once in awhile! ๐Ÿ˜€

    2. Sorry bout all that George. The original “george” is our local pooka/spelling-grammar gremlin. We blame george on all our spelling/grammar/and misplaced replies problems. Soi of you see folks giving “george” a hard time, don’t take it personally, it’t the original george they are fussing at. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. I knew if I read SFL long enough, Darrell would hit one of my huge gripes with fundamentalism… and you’ve nailed it today. There is so much pressure put on kids (especially teens) to surrender to full-time service that I’m afraid that many do so, not because of any true leading of the Holy Spirit, but because they have been manipulated. However, once they make that decision, there is no going back. I think this is one reason why teens leave a church; such a big deal is made about their decision that the are embarrassed to “undo” it, so they wind up leaving church, sometimes permanently. If they do come back, everyone is so pleased to have the backslider back in church that the commitment is forgotten.

    I like the BBC reference (basement Bible College).

    Good point about minors and contracts.

    I’d like to say that I have attended some IFB churches that were not like this and were very reasonable about such things.

    (Now I’m just waiting for my former church and/or pastor to be featured)

    1. I agree GR, this is one of my biggest gripes, too. After my youth group attended the WILDS each summer, a handful of youth would come back committed to full-time ministry. None of them are in full-time ministry. In fact, an overwhleming majority of people my age left Fundamentalism, and really, church altogether after high school or whenever their parents stopped making them go.

      I just wonder when Darrell is going to post on the overwhelming usage of Celtic Music within IFB traveling evangelism – mainly the use of the penny whistle. I wonder how long it took for someone at the top to give the “OK” that Celtic music is not of the Devil.

      1. But it’s got to be okay if a traveling Evangelist uses it in his work! OTOH, if it had been suggested or tried by a lowly church member, and not one of the MoG’s favorites, it would be worldly, satanic, etc. Especially if said member missed a church service to attend a Celtic festival, workshop, etc.

      2. This could be just another of their list of things they like to brag on. How many teens and kids are surrendered to full time Christian service. They love numbers these fundys. So they pressure these kids to surrender for this or that so they can brag on the numbers.

        My now former fundy pastor did this concerning baptisms. He was always pressuring people to be baptized. They’d have outreaches where they’d bring poor and homeless people in and give them a meal. That was fine, but then he’d preach to them and see how many he could get to raise their hand for salvation. Then he’d get them to come down and give their name to a name taker and he’d start in on them to be baptized right then and there. This would inflate his numbers of salvations and baptisms that he could brag about at the next pastor’s school etc. ๐Ÿ˜•

      3. I’ve only seen this one from one particular strain of fundy evangelists.

        I must say, it certainly is an improvement over the ones who used to come with the miniature brass ensemble or the accordion.

        1. Yeah – the Pettit and the Galkin teams use the Celtic thing a lot (or, at least they used to). My dad was funny about one of the girls that was playing the penny whistle; for some reason, they don’t believe the pitch should be sustained until the end and let the note go REALLY flat. My dad looked at me and said, “Surely they know that’s not OK.”

          Hmmmmmm?

    2. This has been one of my hot buttons ever since the service I attended at a local church while a student at FU. During the invitation the speaker asked for all those who were willing to serve God on the mission field if He so called them to raise their hands. Then, after heads were raised and eyes opened, he asked those who had raised their hands to stand–and proceeded to announce that each of these people had committed to go to the mission field. From that day on, I have refused to raise my hand at any invitation–even the ones where the speaker asks those who “know they know they are on their way to heaven” to raise their hands. I don’t care what anyone whose eyes are open thinks–I will never allow another preacher to make a liar out of me!!!

      And since I’m venting–another of my pet peeves is people who make young people believe that “surrendering to God’s will” means that God will ask you to do something for which you are not qualified and the thought of which fills you with anxiety. Why do they not understand (and help young people to understand) that God LOVES them and has no desire to make them miserable.

      1. Glad I’m not the only one who stopped raising my hand. At some point I started feeling like the hand show at the end was like an opinion poll for the pastor to see how convicting his message was. So I just stopped responding to everything… even if they were just asking who was saved. ๐Ÿ˜•

  6. I saw so much (and heard much more later on) hypocrisy in the IFB church I attended as a child/tween (and went to their school, ugh) that even 30 years later, I will have nothing to do with IFBs.

  7. Daddy, I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.
    We’ll see son. Ha ha ha.

    Daddy, I want to be a cowboy when I grow up.
    Ha ha ha. Kids are so funny!

    Daddy, I want to be a preacher when I grow up.
    I heard that! You can’t ever take that back or you will have to deal with my crippling disappointment with you for the rest of your life. I am counting on you to keep your word son.

    1. I wonder if many really do follow through with this because if they don’t they will disappoint their parents and pastor. I have just learned of a young man who grew up in our church. I know his parents. His father supposedly was called to preach as a young man but didn’t follow through, and later as an older man regretted not following God’s call on his life.

      His son surrendered to become an evangelist and later did so. The other son went into secular employment. The father always let it be known how proud he was of his son the evangelist but not so much in his son who had a secular job.

      I have just learned that his son the evangelist was involved in a sex scandal and is now in prison.

      I am so disgusted! ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

  8. “never buy alcohol at any place where they sell gas.”

    didn’t you mean to say:

    never buy GAS at any place where they sell ALCOHOL.

    or was the original correct! Buy alcohol (and make sure they put it in a brown paper bag) anywhere you want EXCEPT for the gas station convenience store.

    1. Fundy kids are often super willing to be committed and eager to show off that commitment to their parents: they’re just not sure what they’re committed to. Something about gas and alcohol and food or restaurants on Sunday. They’re not sure, but they KNOW IT’S WRONG!!!

    2. You’d run out of gas long before you’d find a gas station that doesn’t sell beer. ๐Ÿ™„ Okay, those little kiosk things in front of the supermarket, but how many of those are around, especially when the needle’s fluttering on “E”? Or shall we just go back to the good ol’ horse & buggy? ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. Thankfully I never succumbed to the pressure to commit to FTCM. I did end up teaching in a Christian school for awhile, but because I loved teaching. Not because I had felt called into FTCM. When my bills were more than my income, I left teaching. How long can a person live on hot dogs, canned veggies and popcorn? I didn’t want to find out.

    I’m so careful with my kids – not to put any pressures on them in this way. I just want them to love Jesus.

  10. “Need I remind you where liars go?” Bob Jones. Can’t remember if I heard that at PCC summer camp, or in college at Cedarville….

    In all seriousness, though – first girl I dated in college broke it off because I was tempting her to break her vow to be a single-for-life missionary. What possesses the minds of parents, pastors, friends, etc. to actually encourage that line of thinking?

    And what’s up with people who feel called to the ministry being forced to go into it RIGHT AWAY? God forbid that a young man get a marketable skill to support his family. God forbid he get an idea of how the world works before he starts putting his grubby little hands in people’s lives.

    Kids, don’t plan your future out loud until you’re out of the household.

      1. She broke it off over summer vacation. Which tells me, when her parents or church figured out what was going on, pressure was on to nip it in the bud post haste.

        1. That makes more sense then. So basically, she wasn’t committed to being single, whoever was in charge of her (parents/pastor) was committed to her being single.

    1. I had a friend who in an emotional moment promised God she’d never marry. Later when it looked like she was regretting that decision I told her God would understand if she decided to marry after all. The assistant pastor’s wife told me I was wrong, that since my friend had made that vow, she had better keep it or she would be in huge trouble with God. She never did marry. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

    2. They’ve forgotten that the apostle Paul was a tentmaker–and that he plied his trade while he was on the mission field. He didn’t feel he should depend on others for his entire livelihood! But then, why would we look to Scripture for an example–our preacher would certainly never steer us wrong. ๐Ÿ˜•

  11. You just can’t be held responsible for making promises that you don’t really understand.

    Like the promise I made to God when I was 10 or 11 years old…to “never have sex with myself again”. Didn’t even know the word “masturbate”. Yeah, that promise didn’t last!

  12. Growing up in a fundy church, I always felt the need to justify wanting to be a creative writer. Often by saying things like “I could help people write Bible tracts!” and the like.

    Really, all I wanted to do was write stories about aliens and wizards and dragons and spaceships. But, my pastor had the congregation scared of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

    My mother told me that when I left that church, he stopped preaching against Star Wars and fantasy novels. hehe.

    1. Isn’t it cool to have so much control over the pastor’s message? I mean, not really, but it’s some recompense for all the crap they put you through.

      Social experiment – go to a random IFB church, and talk openly about something they’d consider “wrong.” Attend faithfully for two months, and count the number of times the subject comes up in sermon, Sunday school, prayer fellowship, etc.

  13. Of course, one out is that surrendering to be a missionary and actually becoming a missionary are two different things. Just because you’re “surrendered” and willing to be one thing doesn’t mean that’s what God has for you. So if you “surrender” to be a missionary at age 9, you could just say that you surrendered to the idea but God isn’t actually calling you to that.

    Of course, the entire concept of “surrendering” to any one field or vocation is kinda dumb anyway. I mean, are you really going to say, “Lord, if you want me to be a missionary, I’ll be a missionary; but being a Christian School teacher is right out!”? Hows about we teach kids to surrender to *whatever* the Lord has for them, and when they come and say “I think God wants xyz,” we help them pursue that, knowing that ultimately they have to decide what God’s will is for them *for themselves* and we can’t decide it for them?

    1. Exactly. I have even heard it preached that way, to just surrender to be a missionary (or whatever) IF God calls you to do that, be willing. There’s nothing wrong with that. We should be willing to follow God’s will. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. I never have understood the obsession with vows, especially permanent ones. And pressure children or even college kids to make vows and then holding them to said vows is really controlling and manipulative. Talk about guilt trip once the person find their actually passion and calling in life.

  15. I believe Ecclesiastes 5:4 is the oft-maligned prooftext: “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.” You vowed your life to be a missionary; pay up!

  16. Obviously from my avatar, we entered fundydom a little later than some of the rest of you. From 8th grade until a few years into married life I drank the Kool-aid (One of the options I got from the red squiggly line is kook-aid—-enough said) voraciously for far too long. Leader of the school, later my pastor, had grown up in First Baptist Hammond, and the Jack the Great ranted regularly in our chapel services. That is part of my background.

    I started working with children before marriage, and realized early on that coercion did not equal salvation. Three years into marriage I went back to school, to BJU. It was there that my eyes began to open. For all their fundiness, there were true teachers there.

    My wife and I are still in children’s ministry (25+ years later) and I cringe every time I see where some 2nd grade SS teacher brags about how everyone who goes through their class gets saved and has the date written in their Bible. I was one of those who went forward once without a full understanding of the Gospel. I am very glad that was before our fundy days, and when I realized a few years later my need for repentance, the same deacon had the wisdom to know that I was now ready. Not to get “re-saved”, but that I truly realized my need for a Savior. I will never tell a child he/she just got saved. I will show them from scripture their need and tell them that it is their decision (sometimes without any verses from Romans-I hope that is okay…….) Then I let them pray in their own words–while explaining it is not the prayer but a heart decision.

    When I speak with them about service, I explain they should be open to “Full Time Christian Service”, but also that as a mechanic with a major airline, I was serving God and that He might let them have a job doing something fun and serving Him at the same time.

    My wife and I are now raising support to go to the Amazon region as full time missionaries. I will be an aircraft mechanic and teach children’s ministry. You can’t imagine how many independent Baptist preachers have told me they won’t let us present our ministry because we aren’t real missionaries. It seems you can only serve God as a Baptist Church planter. I almost asked one pastor, “So, what do I do? Suffer the little children to go to Hell?” after he told me children’s minstry wasn’t real missions, but decided that wasn’t the right answer to a foolish statement. Correct, but not right.

    Sorry I went on like this. Darrell hit a pet peeve of mine–sorry, lying teaching to children from non biblical man-made positions.

    1. My wife and I served in a country where church planters aren’t allowed visas. We ran into the same problem with churches not allowing us to present our ministry. To this day, I wonder how those pastors expect unreached people groups to be reached.

  17. Thank you for this post!

    This topic is one of my pet peeves. When I was in elementary and middle school, I was coerced into making decisions at church camps. When I was in high school, my mom made me drop out of marching band because of a pledge paper not to listen to rock music. Such bullshit- I’m not sure I ever stopped being angry about it. I’m 24 and my mom will still remind me of those pledge papers as proof of my horrid, backslidden state. I wish I had never been pressured into making decisions. I put a lot of value into people keeping their word, and the knowledge that I didn’t keep mine is occasionally still in the back of my head.

    1. @EmilyKing- Boy do I understand about the pledge sheets. I wish I could find a copy of the one we signed at good ol’ Fundy High. I have chosen not to use tobacco or drink alcohol, but not because of false teachings or pledges. I’ve pretty much busted the rest of the ?teen points. And will continue to live without pledges, thank you very much.

      It is unconscionable to force kids to make pledges they may or may not completely understand, then afterward hold “vow” passages over their heads.

      1. Thanks to you who have personal experience and are helping me keep my eyes and ears alert. This very night I will forbid my kids from signing any such pledges and not only that I just saw a copy of the church covenant I signed a few years ago that I had forgetten the contents of and I am going to make an appointment to speak with one of the pastors and explain that I take signing it back and where does it say we need to sign a church covenant? You can all watch me get kicked out, at this rate I probably won’t have to leave if I keep openly speaking up like I should have been instead of my own personal refusal to follow them without saying the words…

        1. I always have regretted not speaking out more while I was in Fundystan. My situation was complicated since my spouse did not agree. I did not want to give the leadership the opportunity to divide and conquer – a game they had played with other couples.

          It sounds like it is only a matter of time before you will leave Fundyland anyway, so you might as well leave feeling you have said what you had to say.

          May God bless and lead you.

          ๐Ÿ™‚

        2. Thanks for mentioning church covenants. I’ve been leary of those for several years partly because of selfishly wanting to do my own thing and partly because of being stung by some rash promises/vows i had made previously. The church I currently attend has a church covenant, but I don’t know if they require you to sign it to be a member. Theirs is actually not that unreasonable. Even though they’re a Baptist church, their covenant doesn’t even have a prohibition against smoking or drinking! Imagine my shock and delight. Mainly it’s a list of things Christians should be doing anyway, so then my question is, “Why have me sign a covenant for something I ought to be doing? Why isn’t following the Bible good enough?”

        3. We just left a non-Fundy, modern church because their membership agreement was beginning to strike us as being too legalistic. No thank you. I’ll let God dictate my Christian growth and giving…not a group of elders. There is no need for a mediator outside of Jesus!

        4. Here are some of the disturbing excerpts in the covenant and you MUST sign it to be in ministry, โ€ฆ..we do now in the presence of God, angels and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christโ€ฆ(if this was a legit thing wouldn’t every single born-again believer have to sign it and who decides on the text and if there is only one body why do we have to sign this to be a different body??? Why did I sign this? โ€ฆto promote this church’s spirituality and prosperity (I am promising my giving on paper to men)โ€ฆto give it (this church) a sacred pre-eminence over all institutions of human originโ€ฆto abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage, and from all questionable practices (we all know who decides what those are)โ€ฆwe moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some other church of like faith and practice where we can carry out the spirit of this covenantโ€ฆ. should I find myself unable to continue to be faithful to these standards, I will inform a pastorโ€ฆ I have listed below any duty in which I find myself unable to complyโ€ฆ. All our stuff is written in such pompous language. And like someone posted above why do we have to sign this when most of it is just what the Bible tells us how to live etc, except for the man-made rules, I think I just answered my own question… ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

  18. But it’s all done in the name of Jesus so that makes it all ok.

    If you want to guilt little Johnny and little Suzy into making professions and declare their life plans while they are still in Kindergarten then do it in the name of Jesus.

    If you want to make sure there will be a perpetual supply of trainees for fundy service make sure you get them to declare their intentions in Elementary and no later than middle school, and remember its all in the name of Jesus.

    Oh! and by all means make sure that they have Scribed their Life Verse and sealed it away in their phylacteries so that they will constantly be reminded of the commitment they have made in the name of Jesus.

    Make disciples after your own image out of the younglings, teach them to manipulate through guilt and proof-texting (that is ripped from any scriptural context) all in the name of Jesus.

    How much damage has been done, how many young lives have been permanently scarred, and how many false professions have been squeezed out of Children through the high pressure sales tactics found in modern Churchianity? Parents who will do anything to make sure their child has said the prayer so that the parents can check that off their list and get a warm fuzzy that their child has been saved. How many of these same parents have desperately clung to those decisions when their child grows up and flees from the gilded cage of the religious bunker. Even more so when the child dies in their “back-slidden” condition. It gives the parents great comfort to know that the magic words passed the lips of their child at some point and time, or maybe several points in time. Every time the spirit moved in service and the guilt became too great to bear there was the rush to the altar and the magic phrases were repeated once again.

    …”in the name of Jesus, amen!”

    Is it any wonder there is no awe, no worship, and no reverence of the Christ? When it’s all about the “prayer”, coming to the “Altar”, and all about the decision we make to save ourselves… then it’s all about us… Jesus is just the pretense to get the decisions, the prayers, and the people to the Altar. He is merely a tool to be used in our soul winning program. Often creating Altar athletes along the way who never truly get things settled in their hearts because they are never sure they get it right and often the slightest pang of guilt or the tiniest sliver of doubt send them into a tailspin and back to the altar they go.

    Did Christ not declare the magnitude of his power in the vastness and creativity displayed in Creation? Did he not declare on the Cross, “It is finished!”? Cannot we take him at his word?

    I know I have taken much time here but let me finish. We (and I speak as a member of the body of believers) have exchanged Christ and his Excellency, and glory and power… for our programs, formulas and traditions. We have taken our eyes and hearts off of Christ and who he is and placed ourselves on his throne. In doing so we have betrayed our Savior and sold out the generations that follow us. May we return to our first love and return the glory, and honor we have tried to steal from Jesus, the Christ; the Son of the Living God.

    Maybe that was just for me, but I needed to say it.

    1. I have avoided this post all day, because the damage done to children bothers me so much more than all their other pointless, vapid crap. You said it ALL, and said it so well.

    2. Kind of along the same lines, the thing that bothers me about these promises that children are coerced into making to God, is this: if they made a promise not to drink alcohol, for instance, if later as a teenager, if they have the opportunity to, will they abstain because of their promise and the chain that they bound themselves to? Or will they abstain because of their conscience and their relationship with God?

      It’s as if these promises or decisions are children mustering up all their own strength to do good, and result in them adhering to the promise, not to their God in a strength that is not their own.

      1. You’re right it teaches a whole man-centered, works doctrine. God will love me more if I do “X” just like I promised. It teaches a false gospel based on our performance rather than the finished work of Jesus, the Christ.

        It also makes one look spiritual in the eyes of the local assembly, and we all know it’s better to look spiritual, than it is to look like you are struggling and working out the results of your salvation with fear and trembling. That’s not nearly as neat and reassuring as the mask that we are taught to wear at church and around other “Christians.” Others are able to look at the mask of a “successful” Christian and pattern their own mask accordingly. (You know just like the Pastor’s, his wife’s, or the overachiever preacher boy’s.)

        This also gives the parents bragging rights about how spiritual their children are. That’s a load of steaming guilt to lay on the shoulders of the children in order to stroke the pride and egos of the parents so they appear to be the “perfect” parents of the “perfect” children.

  19. This is the one thing that breaks my heart more than any of the other tactics in fundyland. Why? Because, like Don mentioned above, it ruins children’s lives. I could tell 1/2 dozen stories off the top of my head of young people from our former church who were led to believe that God was calling them to “full time Christian service.”

    A young lady that we have known since she was middle school age went off to WCBC after graduation because she felt she was called. She is now teaching in a Christian school and is miserable. She confided in my husband that she never wanted to teach and now she has a worthless degree and doesn’t know what to do. He tried to encourage her by reminding her that she is young and single and there is still time to persue another degree/career. Her parents are clueless and believe that she is doing great and is in God’s will, simply because she is doing what THEY wanted her to do. Sad ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

  20. Excellent post, Darrell!! I can relate to this because my adult brother was one of these children. He said that he was called to be a preacher at a young age, followed what he was told & graduated from BJU as one of their “esteemed” preacher boys. He works in the computer field now & doesn’t use that Bible degree he received in a preaching capacity. He has been talked about in our family (by other family members). They say he is “running from the Lord”. I think he is just fine doing what he enjoys.

  21. “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” This verse came to my mind whenever I wanted to listen to U2 again after I already threw away all my U2 tapes.

  22. I use to help out the youth group at the fundy church. Looking back now, it is really sad to see all the “permanent decisions” a few of the brightest high schoolers made that have forever changed their lives. The high schoolers (mostly bus kids) came from non-christian / non-fundy homes with hard working parents who saved up for their college education. While in high school, they had aspirations to be pharmacists, biologists, business women. 4 years of preaching and one on one with the youth about “making a decision for christ” (especially in their senior) have resulted in these youth enrolling in the local bible college, getting a useless degree, and becoming the church secretary, a housewife with mouths to feed before even turning 25, or the church intern. ๐Ÿ™

    1. Yup. I know of two smart kids who wanted to be doctors while they were in high school who “made a decision” (after much manipulation) to go to Bible college instead.

      I remember the youth pastor telling how one boy said he did not feel called – but the youth pastor just knew he was! So the youth pastor just kept investing his time with this kid, until he eventually realized his calling. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

      M-a-n-i-p-u-l-a-t-i-o-n

      1. My son is currently going to a fundy college in Oklahoma. When he come home to visit–he hardly comes to see me or his grandmother but spends all his time with the pastor and youth leader of the fundy church here (I used to go there but wised up and won’t go there anymore)It’s sad but he’s not learning any Bible there at all and most of those fundy “preacherboys” just take what the pastor says as “gospel”….His grandmother and I pray for him to see the light but I’m afraid it will be awhile. Yes, they guilt you into full-time Christian service, but shouldn’t we always be in service no matter what we do? So sad when promising young men and women are duped into going into a service they just aren’t qualified for.

    2. At Friday chapel I recall one guest speaking happily exhorting us that, “Now I hope to see all you boys become preachers and all you girls become preacher’s wives!” Even back then (and I was quite the priggy little Fundy back in the day) I wondered who would plant the wheat, make the shoes, change our tires, write the music? Wasn’t that rather single minded? ๐Ÿ˜•

  23. Yes, the whole knowing God’s will from the time you were a kid thing is really troubling to me. Jenn brought this up in a different thread on the forums, about how many people ran away from their calling as a missionary. Then, when only 1/10 or whatever of those people who made a decision actually decide to stay faithful to it, it’s a commentary of how backslidden or unfaithful we are to our promises to God. It seems that once you claim a decision for God, there’s no backing out of it. You can change what you want to be when you grow up as many times as you want, but as soon as you think that God said it as a career for you, there’s no way out, no room for flexibility or changing your mind or just the normal human processes of figuring things out.

    I’m honestly really glad that I didn’t have fundy parents to push this kind of thinking on me, and tha I didn’t make decisions to go into any kind of full-time ministry vocation, and that I didn’t make spur-of-the-moment life decisions. If I did make a decision, I didn’t usually frame it as a decision when I told other Christians about it so as to give myself an out in case it didn’t work out.

  24. *sighs*. . .I “dedicated” my life to Christ during manipulative evangelistic meetings as a young teen. I didn’t know exactly what it meant, but figured it meant some form of “full time Christian service.” I did it for the following reasons:

    1. I was scared constantly that I wasn’t “really saved”, so figured maybe if I “dedicated my life” that would help me not feel so scared anymore.

    2. My home life was messed up, so I figured probably if I “dedicated my life” God could fix all that too (yeah, right.)

    3. Manipulative evangelistic meetings. “Do I see that one last hand? Don’t wait, don’t disappoint God. Now is the time” (i.e. 20 minute long guilt-ridden invitation).

    And, I am not currently in the fundy version of “full-time Christian service”, though every true Christian’s entire life should be about serving Christ fully, so I believe the whole “full time Christian service” phrase is ridiculous. ๐Ÿ™„

  25. I got saved at 4. Totally of my own volition. I completely understood I was a sinner, there was a price on sin of hell, I would go to hell and that Jesus Christ suffered and died to pay my payment. I understood the basics of that as well as I do now without all the ologies that go with it. I believed and asked Jesus to save me and He did. 43 years ago. So I am quite glad that Jesus never put a restriction on my “permanent” decision age.

    Mt 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

    1. This has nothing to do with what the post is saying. No one here is saying that children cannot accept Christ as Savior (I asked Jesus to be my Savior also as a preschooler.) This post is about children who have believed in Jesus who are then manipulated into declaring childishly-impulsive statements like “I want to be a missionary!” “I’ll only marry a pastor!” “I want to be an evangelist!” “I’ll never go to any college but BJU!”, and then having grown-ups hold them to something they declared without any adult judgment. Most parents won’t hold their child to a silly statement like, “I HATE broccoli! I’ll never, ever eat it!” and forbid them from eating it when they get older because once at age seven they’d said they wouldn’t, but sometimes those same parents will heap guilt on a child who said, “I’ll never get married. I’m going to be a missionary to Africa!” when she was seven if when that child is 21, she has an adult perspective and wants to make different choices with her life.

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