Being Different (In Ways That Look the Same)

This just in: we are all irrelevant.

Have enough conversations with those fundamentalists who read SFL today and you’ll hear that we here are all firmly rooted in the past. All these things written and discussed may have been true three decades ago but today’s Independent Baptists are much more sophisticated — except for when they aren’t. This blog, we’re told, is nothing but an echo chamber for malcontents.

We’re bitter. We’re angry. We don’t realize that their camp of fundamentalism has nothing like the things written here. Except, of course, the things that are. But most of the time they’re nothing like the fringe lunatics featured here. You know, those crazies from the likes of BJU, PCC, Hyles, Fairhaven, Crown, WCBC, Sword of the Lord, that institute run by Ruckman are all just on the fringes. Sure, they have groups in from all those colleges, and they read their newsletters, and they buy those textbooks for their schools but they’re nothing like them. Nothing at all. Mainstream fundamentalism apparently consists of “my church.”

Even these detractors will admit that maybe once in a while something said here in a post or comment does hit home for their church or school. This only serves to prove that SFL is out of material to discuss if they’ve left poking fun at the crazy fundamentalists and are now attacking perfectly reasonable, well-balanced, and not at all insane churches full of people who may look like those other people, and hold to the same standards, and speak at the same conferences, and glorify the same heroes but are NOT AT ALL like those fringe fundies you read about here every week.

Denial is a beautiful thing.

84 thoughts on “Being Different (In Ways That Look the Same)”

  1. Meet the new “My Church” same as the old “My Church.

    Because “My Church” has never been as crazy as the stuff pointed out on here. I mean no one has ever run up and down the aisle of “My Church” and jumped into the Baptismal. See that proves “My Church” isn’t anything like the craziness that is posted on here.

    My Pastor” isn’t a tyrant, he’s a godly man of God and we appreciate that he has standards!

    My Pastor” and “My Church” are the most biblical of any church I have ever attended, and if you don’t agree with what we preach and teach then take it up with God.

    *how’d I do?

    1. Y’know, the more I think about it, the more I question anyone, anywhere, at any time, describing someone else or themselves as godly.

      It seems rather hubristic, doesn’t it?

      Can anyone suggest a better term to describe someone that walks the line that’s supposed to be walked, and doesn’t make me cringe?

    2. Spot on Don! It is very difficult to peel back the blinders on a sycophant. In most cases impossible because their faith and world view rely on the mog and his religious empire they have ascribed to and heavily invested into.

      1. Teddy,
        That was a pretty good description of me not that long ago. It’s only by the Grace of God that my eyes were opened to what was going on around me. Otherwise I would still be sitting in the IFB version of Plato’s cave, ooooo-ing and ahhh-ing at the shadows and “Hey-men-ing” the the rantings of the Acts 4:13a(self-)Called™ M-O-g.

  2. I still maintain contact with friends at the Fundy church I grew up in. They are always quick to introduce into the conversation “It’s not like the old days…it’s so much better now!” And then they’ll prove it by regaling me with something that was formerly declared anathema that is now embraced as a sign of their open welcome of Grace. Like…oh…women can now wear pants. Not in the services of course or any church functions…but they can wear them!AND as a bonus…they can do so without fear of getting thigh cancer or slipping and falling under a passing freight train and having their sinful, rebellious gams severed at the knee. God sure is progressive these days! They merely compensate somewhere else. Like the time two summers ago when a classmate organized a high school alumni outing at the local minor-league ballpark for a Saturday afternoon game and a few of the alumni…all of whom were in their 40’s and none of whom attended said Fundy church…went to the concourse and had a beer. The outrage from the pastor was unbelievable. So much so that my friend resigned as head of the alumni group. “The nerve of those full-grown adults who don’t go to my church and aren’t “under my authority” to refuse to abide by the standards of the school they graduated from…25 years ago!” I am surprised the earth didn’t open and they didn’t go down alive into the pit.
    Once a Fundy…

    1. To me, this highlights exactly what is wrong with fundamentalists. They can’t seem to wrap their head around the philosophical presuppositions upon which their movement is based. The kind of “change” you are talking about isn’t change at all. This is why we are seeing a resurgence of fundamentalist foolishness in the SBC. They don’t seem to grasp that just claiming TULIP doesn’t change the presuppositions that make you what you are.

  3. You know, you are exactly right about the way they try to defend and deny. But I argue from experience that if anything, they are WORSE now than they used to be. I know Fundy people who are waaaaaay crazier (and defensive about their craziness, and quick to anger in defense of their craziness) than they ever were back in the 1970s. They weren’t so insistent on Separation over every little issue back in those days. And they were much more joyful back then, and their ministries were much more fruitful, too.

    Co-ink-a-dink, no doubt.

    These days, I would feel sorry for them and their tiny (and shrinking) sphere of influence, if they weren’t so stinkin’ belligerent.

    1. I think it’s because societal norms have fallen so drastically. (Granted the Fundy approach to being “Salt and Light” is way off base, but truth be told, society has become Post-Christian) that they are even MORE “separate” and even more WEIRD than they were 30 years ago. Whereas before they were different from 80% of America, now they’re different from 99%. They’re even MORE scared than they were

      1. That’s true. But when I posted my thought, it involved the fact that the Fundies have separated from music, clothing, and activities that they accepted back in the 1970s. They don’t even KNOW what is going on in the culture today, because they are too busy revisiting the culture of their youth and finding Satan in stuff that they used to find acceptable.

        It really is pathetic. I’ve seen them introduce a “new” song in recent months; a song that was written in 1971. This was a really big moment for them. A great leap forward. Scary, and all that.

        Of course, as has been inferred in the Fundy Rules, they can’t go back too far into history for their music either, because it was all written by Catholics. So they are stuck with a bunch of testimonial songs with precious little doctrine (or Bible quotes) in them, from a pretty narrow period of American church history. Their music anthology is about 30 songs, and their sermon topics can be counted on one hand. It’s enough to drive you bonkers.

        1. Speaking of music: it doesn’t matter how long along the song was written it was new at one point in time (unbelievable logic…I know). While at Crown we were lectured at every given opportunity on Fanny Crosby, P.P Bliss, Ira Sankey and the like. So were these people rebels in their day because they wrote new songs? Or were the songs written and hidden in a trash can in a monastery until they could be considered a part of the old paths?

      2. Craig: “because societal norms have fallen so drastically.” Or, maybe because they’ve risen so drastically… It isn’t cool anymore to disparage gay people, or make sexist remarks, or tell racist jokes, or…

        1. Good point. A friend of mine showed a skit that was done in her Fundy church where a hispanic guy robbed a bank and two white guys in suits witnessed to him and he got saved. (Guy playing the hispanic guy wasn’t really hispanic, btw. He was a dark haired white guy wearing a serape and sombrero. Anyway, I was thinking “Why not have a white guy be the bad guy and one of the Christians be hispanic?” Nope, no racism there. 🙄 🙄

        2. I live in a county with a 90% Hispanic population, and the last time I saw someone wearing a serape and sombrero was in an old Clint Eastwood movie.

  4. I am NOT in denial. We are different from all the others.

    We only look the same because it’s best to be traditional so as not to appear contemporary.

    We are more current without the liberalness.

    We only follow the old paths of Scripture, since we understand culture changes and we must change also. (example: we now allow sewn on pockets to be worn by our leadership)

    1. You expect me to look up the lyrics of a satanic rock band like the Who? You must like to murder little children. Nah, just kidding man, I love the Who. Great song.

    1. I think everyone is in denial about something or other. Much of the work of living consists in getting rid of illusions and abandoning false idols– it’s not something you just do once and then you’re done with it.

    2. I had to miserably fail as a pastor to finally come to my senses. I tried in all sincerity to rid the church of legalism and MOG worship and us versus them mindset among other denominations and it literally decimated the church. I moved too fast for most and too slow for some and just right for some, but that some was not enough to sustain it. My prayer for you, Fundy pastor, is that you set your course to know God and teach your people how to know God. Period. End of story.

  5. If people are arguing that “their camp” is nothing like the examples presented here, then they have no complaint to make, because they are not the target of this blog… unless of course they really do recognise themselves…

    1. But the problem is that readers of this site and posters sometimes equate the idiocy presented here as indicative of all churches that are IFB. Which is blatantly untrue. A church can be IFB and be nothing like the picture presented by this website which is rather annoying to it’s members since most posters don’t have the discernment to realize “IFB” does not (always) equal “crazy.”

      1. But the problem is that readers of this site and posters sometimes equate the idiocy presented here as indicative of all churches that are IFB. Which is blatantly untrue.

        “Sometimes?” how many times? What is the frequency at which it can be shown that ALL IFB churches are being conflated? Provide evidence, a sample of 25 randomly picked blog posts and 200 randomly picked comments will suffice.

        “A church can be IFB and be nothing like the picture presented by this website which is rather annoying to it’s members since most posters don’t have the discernment to realize “IFB” does not (always) equal “crazy”
        Hold on a minute big fella. Above you said the conflation occured only “somtimes”. Now you’re arguing that IFB does not ALWAYS equal crazy, which is entirely in keeping with your observation regarding the conduct of this site. So which is it?

        Does the site “sometimes” conflate, or does it “always” (or result in the likelihood of “always) conflate?
        Please back up your assertion with some sampling data.


        1. Elijah, I grind my teeth as well and I started when I was a teen.

          I had oral surgery in 2003 for a dislocated jaw and I still have to wear a guard in my mouth 24/7. It would be interesting to do a scientific study of those who were in the IFB and the stress related diseases that I see most of us have had trouble with.

  6. When I started reading this blog, even after leaving fundamentalism, I still had thoughts of “that wasn’t my church.” Until I remembered incidents in a less biased light. Until I remembered that I was treated well because my dad was accepted very well, and the cash cow’s son wanted to date me. Until I remembered I always followed the rules whether I wanted to or not.

    Of course there exist differences between individual churches because those churches are made of different people. However, instead of coming together strictly through the Bible, fundamentalism (and lots of other things) start coming together over their interest in women’s skirt length, and how many times you can go soul winning.

    1. ” Until I remembered incidents in a less biased light”

      I remember very clearly the times my pastor or others used slurs against muslims, spewed hateful rhetoric about homosexuals and people with tattoos from the pulpit but because my family didn’t want to hear it, they didn’t. Or they said that he pastor was “joking” when he said that women’s suffrage was the downfall of America. Sure.

      It’s not until the smog clears that you start to remember stuff that should have horrified you.

    2. Yes, in my experiences with Fundamentalists and Fundagelicals, it’s entirely possible to attend a church or college and be treated well. If you pay your bills, follow the rules, don’t cross anyone important, and don’t require any sort of help.

      Accidentally cross someone by asking out the wrong girl or saying no to the guy, stick to a conviction that thwarts someoe’s agenda, have a personal/family/financial crisis that makes you a liability instead of a contributor— just to name a few examples– then you’re toasted.

      1. It’s the “don’t require any sort of help” part that really sticks in my craw. “Worldly” organizations do the first three things all the time (not that that makes them okay), but even a godless office full of pointy-haired bosses may let employees, for example, donate vacation time to somebody who is trying to care for a sick relative. In Fundamentalism, the response when somebody falls into a hole is to kick gravel onto his head while telling him he must have sinned.

        1. Funny, I remember a staff meeting at a Former Fundy Church and U in So. Cal in which a staff member was publicly reprimanded for… taking sick leave after throwing out his back one month and suffering a concussion the next.

          According to policy, the sick leave would come out of his vacation days and the pastor made a point of mentioning that he “probably only has about 30 minutes of vacation time left for the year…”

          He didn’t seem too happy.

          But of course, maybe the Pastor was just having a bad day… had a lot on his plate… the weight of the ministry…. that heavy mantle of fundamentalism…

        2. More pastor excuses for being a turd…

          …the burden of the buffet
          …the anxiety of authority
          …the responsibility of ruling
          …afflictions of altar-calling
          …the yoke of yelling
          …the millstone of meddling
          …the obligations of Unction*

          *I know that’s not alliterated but george ran out of words in the Thesaurus. 😈

        3. I have bruxism. I grind my teeth at night. One result is that my teeth, which were originally nearly perfect teeth, began to break down by my early/mid 20’s. I lost the back half of one of my canines my last year at PCC. I needed to get it rebuilt, obviously but could only get a pass to miss one class period. I mentioned that since I had four classes in a row that morning, it was impossible to miss only one class. The response was that I either had to reschedule or take the demerits. If you have a dentist willing to cut you a deal on the basis of your religious vocation on the condition you come in when he has no one else scheduled, how do you decline that? I chose to take the demerits.

        4. Christ said that the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath, but at fundy U, it seemed that the attitude often was that the rules were more important than the students.

          In my experience, IFB colleges tended to be rather rigid and inflexible, valuing their rules over the needs of individual students, and resulting in a harsh, graceless attitude that did NOT reflect Jesus.

        5. Altar Ego wrote:

          “Funny, I remember a staff meeting at a Former Fundy Church and U in So. Cal in which a staff member was publicly reprimanded for… taking sick leave after throwing out his back one month and suffering a concussion the next.
          According to policy, the sick leave would come out of his vacation days and the pastor made a point of mentioning that he “probably only has about 30 minutes of vacation time left for the year…”
          He didn’t seem too happy.
          But of course, maybe the Pastor was just having a bad day… had a lot on his plate… the weight of the ministry…. that heavy mantle of fundamentalism…”

          And yet if that pastor had any kind of serious illness or injury, he would be granted a paid leave of absence for as long as necessary.

          In Fundystan some people are lavished with mercy and grace while others could wither and die for all they care.

        6. Paul– I’ve got to say I’m confused by your statement. Who would blame anyone for grinding their teeth in their sleep? It’s not like I have a choice in the matter.

          Which reminds me– every know people who repented when they sinned in a dream? If they cussed out someone in a dream, they’d repent. I know of a couple guys who went to get counseling at Fundy U because they had nocturnal emissions.

        7. Elijah, if I had lived in Fundystan, I’d grind my teeth too,whether asleep or awake, probably because I would have had very little choice in ANY matter….
          Apparently it is sinful to be human.

  7. Once again another slam dunk Darrell!

    That line of argument is usually the very FIRST thing I hear from those still in. I get so sick and tired of the denial and the absolutely brain dead “thinking” from the folks I know still in the IFB. If only I could get these folks to see any perspective outside of their own…if only. 😐

    1. I listened, but I’m not sure how one gets the idea that he didn’t like Hispanics; Bro Ortiz was just the current victim example. He has abused used all kinds of people and cultures in such a way.

      I also didn’t hear anything explicit about soul-winning here. He did use the phrase “get busy for God”, which to him may have meant soul-winning.

      Listening to him again, I’m amazed; perhaps appalled at how much of what he taught in this clip is his preferences and opinions using the verse in Hebrews as a springboard.

      I’ve been in Bro Ortiz’ place; I don’t really like being made to look ridiculous in order to make some preacher’s point.

      1. GR, I don’t really see how the fact that he dislikes and demeans a good many other “people and cultures” proves that he doesn’t dislike Hispanics. He’s pretty much a broad-spectrum hater.

        1. Maybe he does or maybe he doesn’t like Hispanics; my point is that I could not tell from that clip. He routinely put down Johnny Colsten for years; such practices indicate to me that he put down others to make himself look good, but not that he had a problem with Hispanics.

          I have heard tales of extremely racist jokes he would tell to others, but as the information I heard was probably third- or fourth-hand at BEST, I’m not sure how much faith to put in such stories.

        2. I’m willing to allow the possibility that Hyles was just an incredibly mean bastard, rather than a racist.

      2. I remember going to hear him preach back in the early 90’s (deeply entrenched in Fundystan at the time) and he knocked the flowers off of the front of the pulpit and said something about them being in his way….. My dad got so mad and said he was just showing off. I thought for sure the Earth was going to open up and swallow my dad for saying something so blasphemous about such a powerful MOG. My dad is still alive and well and where is Jack Hyles? 🙂

    2. My in-laws grew up in his church. Honestly, I have no idea how anyone could take this guy seriously. There’s a story in the Bible about Jesus looking around at the people “like sheep without a shepherd”. Sometimes I get mad at people for being sheep, but that is probably a bad attitude. I certainly despise these rancid little men that shill a false religion for mammon.

      1. I’m thinking he had GIRD (acid reflux or chronic heartburn). It causes those symptoms. Also, it’s treatable, and someone here said at one point Hyles got some kind of treatment and then he stopped making that weird noise.

        1. Interesting; in his later years, I heard him say that God just took it away in answer to his (Hyles’) prayer after his mother died. The story (according to Jack Hyles) was that he was so unhappy after his mother died that he asked God for some special sign that God loved him, and without his knowing it, God took away that hack/cough/whatever. He claimed that he didn’t notice it was gone until someone pointed it out.

          I heard him say this myself. At the time, I was, frankly, a little jealous of how it seemed God would do things like that for him, but I didn’t always see those kind of blessings.

  8. I left Fundyland in 1997 officially, and to some extent the Fundies are right… but NOT in the way they think. I am still in contact with a lot of Fundamentalists, so it’s not like I’m isolated from it all.

    Yes, things have changed for the “better” (obviously, relatively speaking). Some pastors have surrendered the issues like pants on women and may allow the occasional song from the platform after 1980. Some things, however, have clearly changed for the worse. KJV-only doctrine has gotten progressively weirder and more extreme, using arguments we never would have used back in the day. The status of women and children has declined even further since my days. The sins being condemned are increasingly more nitpicky. All the while, the sins of the leaders are not being condemned, but excused.

    Forget it. I have no desire to return to something so corrupt and Christ-less at the top, yet so constricting and cruel to the underlings. No, no, no.

  9. I think we all are like this, in a way. We defend what we are passionate about, and other people ‘just don’t understand’ when in reality, we are all so basically similar.

  10. I left an extremist IFB church that was more about worshipping the MOG and bringing in the numbers than about rejoicing in what he have in Christ and serving Him in love.

    I confess that I am still a fundamentalist and still go to an IFB church; for the most part, it is so much better than what I had before.

    I did have a nightmare the other night that one of the “preachers” featured here came to our church and trying to screech at us and at our pastor that he should change the rules such that no one could do any work in the church unless they were going soul-winning. Woke up in a panic, and was happy to realize it was a dream.

  11. One of the things that attracted me to this site on a daily basis were the very early posts on Flannelgraph, Dutch Blitz and Baptistry Murals which poked fun at the quirky things unique to my Fundamentalist life. I laughed out loud at the witty humour contained in those posts.

    As time went by, I found the posts seemed more frequently to come across as an expose on people, institutions or mentalities in Fundamentalism, rather than just poking fun at “stuff” in general that could be considered common to everyone’s experience, myself included. As the shift took place, I recall that there were several commenters who also seemed to notice, and expressed concern. Others argued there was no shift at all. It caused a bit of a ruckus, and I’m not here to re-live that.

    Personally, I have found some of those posts personally helpful in working through various issues. However, in the context of my present Fundamentalist experience, in a church and with a pastor who embrace Calvinistic theology and Reformed thinking, I can’t say my church or pastor really resemble anything of the IFB style Fundamentalism typically represented in most of the posts of the last couple years. However, I do still often have contact with with people and churches who do fit that mould, so I do relate to it.

    But, in case anyone’s listening… I do genuinely miss the old posts which just poke fun at the “stuff” fundies like, and I’d love to see a return to more posts on the silly things we do like inventing our own card games, making biblical stories out of felt, and painting gigantic nature scenes on the front wall of our churches.

    1. I’m with you; I love the posting of the IFB preachers/evangelist/churches that are all about themselves more than all about Jesus Christ. Keep ’em coming!

      Some of the other topics still make me uneasy… I am always praying that God will reveal the truth, and, by and large, this site has been helpful.

      As long-time readers here know, I have been very deeply scarred by the “You are a sorry excuse for a Christian if you don’t go out door-knocking at least once a week!” (called ‘soul-winning’ by them). As a shy person, I tried, but I feared I would lose my mind, and just suffered being a nobody for years and being shunned by the ‘soul-winning’ members of the church. SFL and the members have been a huge help in this area. I’m not sure that going cold-calling is really terribly productive in our culture, but I can admire those that do it.

        1. I remember reading Remonstrans several years ago. It was around the time that MBBC was performing “The Importance of Being Earnest” as their spring or fall play and Remonstrans was accusing the college of compromise.

        2. Remonstrans stands in an ancient tradition of opposition for the theatre and can give very reasoned arguments for his position …unlike many Fundies who just make stuff up.

          Modern fundamentalists ape traditionalists.

  12. So where is he, positionally? I stop reading when stuff like that was coming out; another one was about his disliking “Fanfare for the Common Man” (his relating of it came across as boorish and know-it-all, If I remember right).

    1. positionally? I think he is probably Calvinistic, and at one time he taught somewhere in Fundamentalism. He is older than 55. His biggest bent is to show that the Christian Culture, expecially in fundamentalism, is anti-Christian. He believes that only certain types of classical music should be used in worship and only certain forms and practices, like liturgical readings, etc.

      1. Remonstrans has said several times that he is not Calvinist. I don’t know what that means, I assume he is Arminian of some sort.

        He has spoken well of Getty hymns and I don’t recall him criticizing some of their modern elements.

        He’s hard to pin down but over time I have come to realize that he thinks fundagelical culture reflects a poverty of character. He condemns tribalism and empire-building regularly. He criticizes Frank Garlock, Ron Hamilton, and the associated musical standards are being more about control, building a brand, punishing outsiders, than worshipping God.

        He is entirely correct about much of what he says.

    1. “Denial may be a beautiful thing, but it changes nothing”
      Denial changes nothing. That, I think, is the point. The very nature of Fundyism means that any sort of Change threatens the stabilty of the Fundy House Of Cards. So they protect themselves by saying that everybody else is WRONG WRONG WRONG.

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