The Highest Priority

Ask any fundamentalist what the most important mission of the church should be and at least nine out of ten will tell you “winning the lost.” After all, in heaven’s eternal economy what could be more valuable than the saving of one soul which will live forever. Winning “souls” is the nominal focus of just about everything an IFB church does.

If you want to confuse a fundamentalist, however, you should then follow up with this question: “If souls are the most important thing, wouldn’t it be more effective to support any ministry that gives out the gospel regardless of whether they agree with you on things like standards, Bible versions, and politics rather than plant new churches and send out new missionaries as competition for them?”

About five seconds later you will learn that winning souls is actually NOT the highest priority. To a fundamental Baptist making people look like themselves will almost always outrank helping them look like Jesus.

185 thoughts on “The Highest Priority”

  1. Matthew 22:36-40King James Version (KJV)

    36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

    37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

    38 This is the first and great commandment.

    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

      1. That’s because you are doing it right Liutgard. Love God and Love People. It’s not too complicated!

        1. It’s more complicated to love people than to have a checklist. Loving people takes time and effort, and sometimes actually, you know, HELPING THEM. Shoving rules in their faces and having skirts and ties for them to put on is much easier.

        2. I think those who prioritize “souls” would fit it under both “Love God” (he commands it in the Great Commission) and “Love People” (because if you love someone you’ll care about their afterlife more than their present life).

        3. Sounds simple, until you get to the Love God part. There are numerous varieties of books that explain the best way to love your spouse or partner, who happens to be someone you live with, and actually talks to you with a normal response using their voice. It’s complicated enough with them, but we’re also expected to love someone who instead communicates with us through these cryptic messages of cumulative events that happen to us throughout the day which we are expected to decipher in conjunction with a very complicated and frustrating ancient amalgamation of writings, all while relying on our emotional senses to guess what exactly is God really trying to tell us, only to always see him speak in hindsight. Always in hindsight.

        4. Oooooh! What you said!

          And exactly right. Somehow each denomination, sect, splinter, group, independent church, “Christian” institution (of which there are over 25,000 favors in the United States alone!) each think they have The Truth while the others have missed the mark somewhere along the line. It is never that we are separate from them because of personal preference. No, there is some “Biblical Principal” at work in which the Other is Deficient.

          But with so many people in honesty before God reverently interpreting the same scriptures differently, trusting the Holy Spirit to lead them into All Truth, yet arriving at different understandings — well, the Scriptures can’t really be all that clear, now can they?

        5. We splinter into denominations because we disagree on little things. That’s all.

          It’s like a group of men agreeing that it is of the highest priority for them to love their wives… and then ONE of the men insisting that his way of showing love to his wife is the ONLY way to show love. The men end up with a bunch of unhappy, unsatisfied marriages because there are many ways to show love to your wife.

        6. But the problem, TieceyKaye, is that those husbands get to hear their wives telling them how they like to be loved. From God, again, we get a confusing book (of which you might say makes denominations out of small things, but I would disagree that disagreements on methods of salvation, eternal consequences, God’s character, among many others things are small), we get cryptic messages totally dependent on our deciphering abilities, we get “yes, no and wait” as answers to our prayers (which I feel is a cop-out, because those three answers pretty much cover any possible outcome of the situation at hand, and those three things will happen whether we ask God or not), and we get closed doors and open windows. The only people who ever have any direct, vocal answers are either lofty, crazy individuals or liars.

          The only thing most of us have to determine that God is speaking, is our interpretation of what has happened. We look at all of the events in the past day or week and try to connect the dots with God in between them and say “this is what happened today. It must be because God approves of what I’m doing” or “God might want me to take another direction”. If we can’t even figure out exactly what it is God is telling us until after it’s all said and done, how are we ever going to know how to love God in that special, unique way he wants us to?

          In this respect, following a bunch of ridiculous rules and forcing others to do the same seems like the most common way to show love to a God that isn’t quite vocal otherwise.

        7. Mark wrote:

          because if you love someone you’ll care about their afterlife more than their present life

          That is a very interesting perspective. I don’t think the teachings of Jesus support this at all; in fact, I’m not sure such a self-concept is valid outside of Platonic dualism, probably as expressed in the gnostic philosophy. The paradigm of Jesus and the Apostles seems to be much more integrated/wholistic.

      2. Beautiful and exactly right – of course my former IFB pastor would never preach this without saying that the way you express this love is to go soul-winning. Thus guilt always accompanied the reading of beautiful Bible verses – how sad.

        1. Ah, yes, the famous “As defined by me” syndrome. I have heard this used many times to justify bullying and worse. “Well, in this case the really loving thing is to be an ass, because you are wrong, I tell you!”


        2. Actually I want to comment on what rgtmath said along with Keep on and carry calm posted. Jesus Christ founded only ONE church. It is too bnad we have splinterede into thousands of churches. As a Catholic believer I do not have the problems that fundies have. And BTW I was raisef in a Fundalmentalist Pentecostal Church were I thought that we (I) thought was the only true believing church. Perhaps I do not c omment herte often but I could not comment to these thoughts. Thank you Dave

      3. Let’s keep it in context. Jesus was asked a question about “the law.” And He answered a “specific” question.

        The entire reason Jesus came to planet Earth was to “seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10

        1. But that was not teh question of the OP. What is OUR highest priority? The Greatest Commandment is for US. Which makes it our highest priority.

        2. greg,

          Just FYI, Luke doesn’t offer any context to the verses cited at all. It’s a different author to a different audience describing a different circumstance and the opposite of context to the verses cited.

        3. What about Luke 4? It soundslike more of this “‘love’ theme”.
          And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

        4. Good point, Teicey. Yes, he came to save the lost. He also came to heal the hurts and fix physical things.

    1. Well don’t forget to them that “Love” to them is correcting others to conform to their standards. If you love someone, you will let that bus kid borrow a jean skirt from the Rent-A-Skirt box so they could get their Sunday School points.

      And yes…. my old Fundie church did have a Rent-A-Skirt box.

      1. A rent-a-skirt box? How sad. I’m curious if there was a corresponding rent-an-ugly-suit box for the boys, or if just the girls were singled out?

        My former church used to make visitors to the youth group change into culottes. Not exactly showing love there.

        1. There were rent a skirt (actually wraps) boxes at the mosques I visited in UAE, as well as at the monastery and churches in Greece. Of course, these were not a replacement for slacks, they were there to cover the bare legs on tourists. I don’t have a personal opinion on the practice, since I think women should be making their own dressing decisions, but I do find it interesting that a fundy church would have more in common with Islam than with the SBC church across the street.

        2. The last straw for our family, in terms of leaving the IFB church was when our teen daughter was made to wear a different top from a ‘modesty box’ before being allowed in the service. That got my wife’s ‘Irish’ up enough to leave. Btw, the ‘immodest’ top she had on did not reveal any cleavage. My daughter, who faithfully served in that church was humiliated that day. Now, 6 years later, she still serves in 2 ministries in a church that is very welcoming to all people, regardless of their threads.

        3. Good doctor, these churches have almost everything in common with Islam. From working to gain Allah’s favor, commanding ridiculous clothing standards, blaming the victim, demanding adherence to local leader’s preferences, &c. Friday Fun Post should be naming all the similarities.

        1. Yeah, they were old, worn out, and stained mens (note long) ties. You would walk down to the basement and see little kids walking around with a T-Shirt and a tie around their neck dragging on the ground…

        2. Young children with t-shirts and ill-fitting ties. I find that appalling. It actually almost brought me to tears. Those precious souls reduced to being accepted by a scrap of clothing rather than by the blood of the Lamb.

          Damnable heresy.

        3. I thank God that the IFB churches I attended over the years have always been welcoming, no matter how I was dressed. The one exception was the HAC-church in which the men would be subject to occasional tirades about how men should always wear ties & jackets in case they need to serve somewhere.

      2. Ah yes! We all know that Jesus only loves women who wear ankle length jean skirts and men who wear ties. I wonder what some of these self-righteous fundies would do if Jesus and/or one of his disciples showed up at church. They weren’t exactly dressed to grace the cover of the WCBC student catalog.

      3. What do Fundy churches teach about foreign missions? Are the women in Muslim countries who convert supposed to start wearing skirts and hose? That would certainly be commitment to Christ! They’d be raped and jailed, then commit suicide while in custody by shooting themselves in the back of the head.

        When I went through A Beka, they taught about J. Hudson Taylor and how he was a ground-breaker in missions by insisting on dressing like the Chinese he wanted to reach. So why can’t heathen Americans be reached in the same manner?

        1. When I went through A Beka, they taught about J. Hudson Taylor and how he was a ground-breaker in missions by insisting on dressing like the Chinese he wanted to reach.

          Groundbreaker, eh? I don’t think so. Father Matteo Ricci and his fellow Jesuit missionaries were doing this lonnnng before old Hudson came along. They even became mandarins, mastered Mandarin Chinese, and boned up on Chinese philosophy. The Chinese were very impressed, and conversions were happening. Then the Franciscans stuck their oar in and ruined everything. (Long, fascinating story.)

        2. While I utterly agree with your point that expectations of certain clothing somehow going along with becoming a Christian are utterly ridiculous, I’d also like to say that it’s a big generalization to sort of write like it’s assumed that Muslim countries automatically forbid women to wear skirts or stockings , or would have Christian converts killed. For instance, Egypt has a Coptic Christian community, Turkey is quite laissez-faire about women’s clothing, many women from African Muslim countries (e.g. Mali) cheerfully wear all sorts of clothing, etc.

        3. Egyptian Copts are under increasing attacks by Islamic Fundamentalists. Wherever Islamic Fundamentalism has come to power, women are under attack and freedom of religion is severely curtailed.

          American Fundamentalists – at least some of them, would gladly imitate the Islamists in these things.

        4. I’m not assuming. I have lived in strict fundamental Muslim countries. Know where bin Laden was caught? Yeah, we vacationed there.

      4. While we’re on the subject of Rent-a-Skirts (so that Baptist conformity will be preserved world without end) I’m astonished no orthodox Baptist has ever objected to the fact that their flag’s colors resemble the Budweiser beer logo. Just saying…

        1. Given their hatred of alcohol and thwiremphasis on avoidance of all appearance of evil, that must the ultimate irony.

    2. Dear Liutgard:

      ‘Master which is the chefe commaundment in the lawe? Iesus sayde vnto him: love the Lorde thy God with all thine herte with all thy soule and with all thy mynde. This is the fyrst and the chefe comaundement. And ther is another lyke vnto this. Love thyne neghbour as thy selfe. In these two commaundemetes hange all the lawe and the Prophetes’ [Mt 22:36-40 — Tyndale].

      MY Bible is OLDER than YOUR Bible.

      Christian Socialist

      PS: Spot on! I’m convinced that Mt 22 is the Biblically mandated reply to the ‘Souls ‘R Us’ gang. Simply brilliant!

        1. Yep, great term.

          Typical of “Souls ‘R Us”: I rather get 1,000 false professions to get one good church member than none at all.

          Translation: We are OK with given 1,000 people false assurance of heaven because they said “the” magic prayer just to make one new member.

        2. GR,

          With respect to the biblical metaphors for coming into a new relationship with God– being given a heart of flesh, being born again, growing in grace, adoption, etc.– the imagery (if that’s the correct term) is that of organic, living things. In my opinion, far too much of modern Fundamentalism treats evangelism and discipleship as manufacturing processes. All a prospect needs is a desire to avoid punishment, a mental assent to some doctrinal points that can be found in the Nicene or Apostle’s Creeds, and the repetition of “The Sinner’s Prayer” [a re-write of the prayer of the publican in the temple] and, Voila, you’ve got a new “convert” the pastor can boast about. “Growth in grace” occurs as the person increasingly conforms to the “standards” taught by the church. Instead of sinners becoming children of God by a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit and then growing in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have “products” being manufactured on the “soulwinning/discipleship” assembly line. I agree with your “translation” and also with your earlier comment where you stated that these people are playing with childrens’ eternities.

        3. Ben;

          I so much agree… churches are being filled with unregenerate members who are put under pressure to “conform” to the churches rules. The Biblical approach is that saved people are transformed by the Holy Spirit.

        4. Something I was thinking about this morning.

          Even the church kids who have been there for many years often have several professions of salvation. Obviously something didn’t “click” the first or second or third time.

          So why would they think some random person they pulled off the street and talked to for 5 minutes (never to be seen again) is gloriously forever saved just because they prayed a prayer?

        5. Easter Liliy, I know taht when I was a kid, I prayed the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ I don’t know how many times- because I was afraid that I had got the words wrong or that I was though insincere (I was… under 10) and I hadn’t ‘done it right’. Certainly the repeated altar calls didn’t help. It was a very painful way to be a kid- I never felt safe.

          When I was in middle school, my dad dragged us off to be pentecostal, so I not only had the earlier doubts, but then added though laid on me by the new religion. If I wasn’t jumping-up-and-down excited, shouting, running the aisles, prophesying or praying in ‘tongues’, clearly there was something wrong with me. I spent many years questioning my salvation, based on expectations that others laid on me.

          It’s insidious- all of it.

      1. Matt 22:36 magister quod est mandatum magnum in lege
        22 37 ait illi Iesus diliges Dominum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo et in tota anima tua et in tota mente tua
        22 38 hoc est maximum et primum mandatum
        22 39 secundum autem simile est huic diliges proximum tuum sicut te ipsum
        22 40 in his duobus mandatis universa lex pendet et prophetae


        1. Your last word had me choking on my Cheerios! lol

          (WHY am I eating Cheerios at noon? Long story.)

        2. I’m guessing that was in response to, “My Bible is OLDER than YOUR Bible.”

        3. Ben, yeah. That’s what I was thinking.

          Now, we just need to start typing verses in Hebrew or koine Greek.

        4. Dear Liutgard:

          Guess you told me!

          Ben Padraic and pastor’s wife:

          You were correct in your observations.

          As for Greek and Hebrew — I can only try to see if the fonts work. Here goes!

          Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος [Jo 1:1].

          .[De 6:4] שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהוָ֥ה׀ אֶחָֽד׃

          Christian Socialist

        5. Pastor’s Wife–my guess is because you ran out of Corn Flakes, the most bestest cold cereal ever invented.

        6. Personally I prefer Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes. Can’t find anything to back it up in Bible but I’ll still maintain it is more Scriptural

    3. What about “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”? Do we ignore this in favor of loving everyone?

      1. I’ve heard the Souls ‘R Us crowd preach on this many times; they
        (a) forget that seeing a soul become a disciple is only one-third of this commission
        (b) tend to ignore the “teaching them to observe all things”
        (c) say that everyone should do part 1, but only a select few can do part 2 (baptizing)
        (d) say that this is all about winning souls; everyone should do part 1, the church does part 2, and then all of those won should be taught to do “go soul-winning” (and that is apparently what they think “all things” means — just the so-called Great Commission.

      2. The “love” theme is much more appropriate for these “evolved” Christians at SFL!…..smiles

        1. greg~

          Are you saying then that it is far better to teach the truth withOUT love and make disciples withOUT love? Is this what traditional Christianity does? If so, I want no part of it!

          This “‘love’ theme”, as you called it, was not invented by the evolved believers on SFL. I think you are under the misunderstanding that love and “soul-winning” are mutually exclusive.

        2. Not at all.

          But there is biblical truth, and that truth is very sharp…. and most regulars here try to “get around” the truth….have a look at the forum, where many are trying to make “homosexuality” ok, when the word of God couldn’t be clearer regarding this wicked sin. And I must add this, especially here at SFL…..not that I think that is the WORST sin.

        3. But again, how do you propose to teach God’s Word without the love piece? As I read, It says to “speak the truth in love” — something many bible-thumping preachers often ignore. You cannot speak the truth at all if you drive people away by focusing on their sin (whatever that sin may be). Consider the story of the woman at the well, for example.

        4. Greg..

          We all get that you do not like lgbt people.why the incessant need to harp on it?

          Love is the main thing. All the other stuff is man made ideas about how to act.

        5. How does Greg even know he doesn’t like LGBT people? Does he know any? Would he even know if he knew any? It’s not like they walk about with rainbow-colored stars on their arms labelled “Queer”.

          Greg~ Why not call out those that the Lord mentions hating: the proud, the liars, the murderers, the con-men, the troublemakers, the accusers, and the gossips? Proverbs 6:16-19

        6. The Truth can do (at least) three things

          1. It can set you free. John 8 : 32
          2. it can be used as a club to beat people into submission
          3. It can be spoken in order to cause hurt and harm to someone.

          Trust me, I know all about the second and have experienced the third a few times as well. It is only recently that have have truely known what the first really means.

        7. When did I say I didn’t like LGBT people? Jump to conclusions much?

          You do remember the Lord destroyed an entire city of primarily homosexuals, don’t you?

          “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” Romans 1:26-28

        1. Dear Liutgard:

          Actually, ‘love’ is the only commandment. The other commandments explain what it means to love God above all, and others as ourselves.

          There never was another law than love.

          Christian Socialist

      3. Reputable scholars believe that this was a later addition to the Gospel, as the Trinitarian formula had not yet been explicitly developed at the time it was penned.

        Nevertheless, it’s in the canon of Scripture and thus we should “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest.”

    4. I’m usually not a fan of taking a verse or 2 and using it as an example of a principle, but this is an exception. It’s a core teaching of both the old & new testament, and repeated pretty much verbatim in both as a defining attribute of the people of God.

  2. “To a fundamental Baptist making people look like themselves will almost always outrank helping them look like Jesus.”

    But that is because only people who look, think and act like them are really saved.

    I think the premise that saving souls is the highest mission is also faulty. The Church’s mission is to make disciples, not converts. And its disciples of Jesus Christ not disciples of our brand of Christianity or our interpretation. Too often when soul winning is mentioned it is all about getting someone to say a prayer. And if the person does show up to church, it is, as you say, to transform them into someone who matches what the MoG says a Christian looks like–making a disciple of the MoG or of a brand of Christianity.

      1. make souls? Are you meaning make converts? I think the picture of “converts” in Scripture is different from the fundamentalist and even most of Evangelical Christians in America’s understanding of making converts. Conversion in Scripture is not a simple prayer of the Romans Road.

      2. Make souls? If you’re talking about converting atheists, sort of. Although it would be more a matter of convincing atheists that they have souls to consider, not “making” the souls they already have.

      3. Make souls…should have been “lead someone to Christ” It was early, and there was no mountain dew.

        1. Maybe it’s just me, but I have a problem with the old saw “leading to Christ.” Seems that’s the job of the Holy Spirit.

          “Leading to Christ” smacks of Jack Hyles and his salesmanship BS, IMHO.

        2. We bear witness to the work of God in our world. We bear witness to Christ. The Spirit does the work.
          Conversion too often becomes this one moment or one decision in Evangelical Christianity in the US. But I have found in speaking with people–conversion is a journey–some quiet and subtle with no major points of decision made. Other times there are major events and decisions through out the journey.

        3. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” 2 Cor 5:18-20

          So, is this no longer the plan of God for “converting” souls?

          “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to PERSUADE men.” 2 Cor 5:11

          There are many things to “complain” about fundies…but my experience is that they are ALL ABOUT the “ministry of reconciliation.”

        4. They SAY they are all about “ministry of reconciliation.” But the ones I am acquainted with just want the numbers and to feel good about themselves.

        5. ministry of reconciliation? that would require them to show forgiveness to everyone in spite of what the person does. you know, like Christ died for us while we are sinners. The quoting of the Roman road and declaring people are going to hell is not the ministry of reconciliation.

        6. My experience is that fundies and Fundy types don’t lead so much as drag people towards Christ by the ears, kicking and screaming…. The tried to do it with me, even after I had become a Christian (but obviously not the right way..)

    1. “But that is because only people who look, think and act like them are really saved.”

      Too true. Which then leads to people like my uncle, a Catholic, telling his brother, an IFB, not to talk to him about religion. So instead of having great conversations, some of them maybe being about Jesus, they don’t talk much at all.

    2. It belies their typical misunderstanding of the doctrines of grace. They have somehow been charged with planting, watering, AND giving the increase. They also misunderstand that God’s aims do not always match our own. The word never returning void does not mean that everyone who hears will be drawn, it means it will have the effect God wants it to have whether for teaching, reproof, correction, and training or whether to fill up the unrighteousness of the vessels fitted for wrath or even something other.

  3. Silly Darrell.

    Everyone knows that if you’re not saved from the KJV you’re not saved at all!!

  4. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!” – Matthew 23:15

  5. I once attended an extreme fundamentalist church for about a year and while there heard a sermon on Love by a visiting evangelist. It was a very good sermon. He hit all the right points. There was no berating, no yelling about sin or standards. I remember he emphasized how it was wrong to call ‘fallen women’ Jezebels because that was not showing love. He preached about it in a hell fire and brimstone style.

    That is the ONLY sermon I can remember from my fundamentalist days that spoke to unconditional love and not the ‘let’s get out there and make them like us’ cult love bombing.

    I think people were in a state of shock afterwards. He was never asked back. It wasn’t long after that that we left that place. Not just us but my husband’s family and people who worked there. It was a bit of a mass exodus.

    I wish I could remember his name…

    1. The IFB flavor I came from was not at all extreme, but “love” was still considered more of a dirty word than anything. It was usually mentioned in the same phrase as “those new-evangelicals – all they do is preach love, love, love.”

      1. Same here. They couldn’t avoid love since it’s in Scripture, but they always put a warning label on it, like it was a necessary yet potentially dangerous medicine that we needed to treat with caution.

        1. It is dangerous. Once you get into the love stuff, you will most likely want to quit the IFB, and we can’t have that now, can we? It’s all about numbers.

  6. ‘Ask any fundamentalist what the most important mission of the church…’

    Dear any fundamentalist:

    You said: ‘…what could be more valuable than the saving of one soul which will live forever…’

    I reply: Yet God raised Jesus from the dead to live forever. So if the body counts for nothing [as outstanding Gnostic heretics such as yourself believe], WHY’D HE DO IT?

    Christian Socialist


    1. CS,

      A little off topic maybe, but a lot of IFB pastors will claim to love your soul while not liking the rest of you very much.

      1. Cept for your WALLET. Sorry to yell but my former church it seemed money could undo all sorts of bad behavior among the brethren.

        1. Even if you do have a wallet, if your behavior is bad enough, they will shun you. Bad behavior meaning multiple social gaffs, failure to abide by whatever spoken/unspoken rules (which you can’t fix because no one tells you you’re doing anything wrong), etc. Of course, it’s okay for them to do things wrong, or pressure you to lend them things which they never return. Yeah, that last one still burns. Ironic turn of phrase there.

  7. Exclusivism is not limited to IFB. My guess is that if one were to do a survey of all Christian churches, a very large percentage of them would tell you that salvation is limited to their denomination and maybe a handful of others. In fact, that belief explains the origin of most of them. (I have “friends” that believe that Mother Teresa will burn in hell – maybe burning already, I don’t know.)

    1. Patrick Henry College once lost almost half its faculty partly because Michael Farris stated that “St. Augustine is burning in hell. We must only teach the Confessions to tell students what is wrong with Catholicism.”

    2. That would be an interesting survey. Most mainline denominations I know and the people who I know attend those denominations do not feel salvation to be limited to their brand of Christianity for the most part. Although I do live in the Northeast, and I know there are fundamentalist like wings of most denominations out there. But I think this having the corner market on the truth seems to be more a mark of fundamentalists in my own experience.
      But then again, I am methodist. And the Church of England and the Methodist church didn’t start out of a doctrinal disagreement declaring the churches we were leaving to be apostate. Instead they started out of needs–the need for the King of England to get divorced and the need for the colonists to be served the Sacraments when England and the colonists were at war.

      1. Actually, that’s not how/why the Methodists started. In fact, how the members of the Church of England finessed matters during the Revolutionary War (and afterwards) was to affiliate themselves with the Church of Scotland. That is how the Episcopal Church of the USA was born.

        Shortly after that, the Church of England changed their Canon Law, which required an oath of fealty to the Crown, and subsequently the Archbishop of Canterbury began consecrating bishops in the USA.


        John Wesley started the Methodist movement *within* the Anglican Church, and the was not a formal split 1784- until after the Revolution.


        1. I agree….John Wesley wanted the Methodists in America to have the Sacraments and so he created some bishops. I oversimplified in my statement. forgive me.

      2. I agree with Leann Zeck; most denominations, including IFB, don’t say that only their denomination is saved.

        Most of them DO say that theirs is the closest to what the New Testament teaches regarding how churches should be run, or act in various matters.

        1. I’ve actually never heard an IFB say that salvation was limited to IFB – but oddly enough, I have heard an IFB question if a person could be really saved if a version other than the KJV was used.

        2. I think that it came from Jack Hyles; I was shocked to hear missionaries ape his “must be born of pure seed – the KJV or one cannot be saved”.

          The IFB pastor where I went to college oyay.e what I believe is the more common response: all versions of the Scripture contain enough truth to lead someone to Jesus Christ.

        3. I agree with Guilt Ridden, a chapel speaker came right out and said that if you weren’t saved from the KJV you weren’t saved.

          Someone else I know compared new versions to a pile of crap with some jewels in it. O_O Have you even READ any of them??

      3. Though we cannotthink alike. May we not love alike? We may not be of one heart, thoughwe are not of one opinion without all doubtmay we herein all the children of God may unite. Notwithstanding these smaller differences.
        John Wesley

        1. I remember reading an article that questioned whether John Wesley was actually a Christian at all, because… Well, just because…. It was written by a Scottish Fundamentalist. A someone who grew up Methodist, that puts me in an interesting position. I wish I could find it, mainly so see it I actually said what it said. Then again, maybe not, as it was the opposite of edifying.

    3. You know Billy Graham won’t go to heaven either because he meets with heathen Presidents and collaborates with Catholics.

      1. That is setting the bar more than a little high, esp when you consider that Billy Graham has (as far as we know) not partaken of *cough* sinsoftheflesh *cough*, even if he’s not worthy of the likes of Jack Hyles.
        Of course, Mother Theresa has already been condemned by all Real True Xtians, not only because she’s Catholic, but she actually 😯 cared about people, not numbers.

        1. I cannot speak for “all Real True Xtians”; the IFB pastor comments about her that I have her strongly commended her for her work in Calcutta.

          She is condemned, not because of her works, but because of her anti-Christian teaching…

          Jesus: I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me.

          Mother Teresa taught that Moslem, Hindu, Buddist, Christian were all different paths to God.

          This is clearly a slap in the face to basic Christian teaching that Jesus is the ONLY name wherein all men must be saved.

        2. The more I hear the contention that being in the Christian faith, particularly the IFB understanding of it, is the only way to heaven, the more my mind and heart rebel against such a notion.

          Sure, Paul said that “in the times of ignorance God was tolerant, but now He commands all men everywhere to repent” Acts 17:30. But a literal rendition of ‘now’ would have left other ignorant people ignorant of a command they could neither understand nor have any reason to acknowledge.

          And would God give to any person the ability to damn another’s soul to hell by withholding the ability to give the Gospel? Would God damn souls in geographic regions where the gospel has not reached? Or would God damn a soul to hell who saw the wickedness of, say, Jack Hyles and rejected his ‘gospel’ message because of the wickedness he lived?

          IF God is Just and Righteous, then God will not let Sin win. Would God throw away those He claims to love for faults he allowed them to be created with?

          If a person practicing Islam truly wants to love and serve God, seeks peace and righteousness, and has never been able to fairly hear the gospel, what hinders Christ from being that person’s means to the Father, even if the Muslim does not know it?

          Is Salvation of The Lord? or is Salvation only about hearing the right message at the right time and taking the opportunity to “believe” it even if it is not understood? How can one Love The Lord with all his Mind if he has to mindlessly believe the corrupt MoG?

          I do not believe that The Lord will treat His Creation like Trash.

          Even Paul in Romans 2 posits that a person who continues patiently in well doing may win eternal life. Paul proclaims judgement on the hypocrites.

          I believe that Jesus died for my sins, for the sins of the tribal in the far reaches who has never heard about Jesus, for the sins of everyone, no matter their life or opportunity. And I believe that Grace can be as effective toward those who never hear as toward those with full knowledge. I may not have a Theological construct about it, but I do not intend to put God in a Box.

        3. I don’t believe Mother Teresa “taught” any such thing. That would be the heresy of indifferentism, which is condemned by the Catholic Church.

          As Mother Teresa tended the dying, she would always tell them about Jesus. This in itself disproves the baseless story that she taught indifferentism.

          According to the Catholic Catechism, other religions may contain glimmers of the Truth. (Saint Paul said this, too — viz. “the unknown god.”) But that’s not the same thing as saying that other religions are equally valid paths to God.

          Catholics believe that Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Does this mean that someone who has never heard the Gospel is perforce condemned to Hell? No, it does not. God does not penalize people for the fact that Western missionaries are too lazy to get off their duffs and reach every corner of the globe with the Gospel. 😉

          Thus, Jesus may reveal Himself to people who have never heard of Him by Name. These people may know Him and follow Him without explicitly having “heard the Gospel.” (Cf. the Young Calormene in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia novel, The Last Battle.)

          Jesus constantly tries to reach everybody on earth, for (as the Bible says) His will is that all be saved. (No, I am not a universalist. I believe some people do reject Him to the bitter end and choose Hell.)

          Vatican II declared that people outside the visible bounds of the Catholic Church can be saved. That includes “pagans” who may have never heard of Jesus but who love and follow Him anyway. If you know what I mean. 😀

          Hope this helps.

        4. Good point. I love the principle in the Bible that those who love come from God.

          Romans 2
          13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

          II John 4
          7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. … 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

  8. We ran into this sort of thing last weekend when my fundy family came for a visit. My mother asked my wife if we will ever attend a “gospel preaching” church again. My wife responded, “not the gospel as you define it.” My mother of course replied, “then you are not saved.” But after talking for about 10 minutes on the subject, it became painfully clear to my wife that my mother believes that the gospel is learning to live the IFB lifestyle and “doing church” exactly the way they do.

    1. That’s horrible.

      I hate how fundies co-opt certain adjectives like “gospel-preaching”, “Bible-believing”, or “God-honoring” and define them according to their own preferences NOT BASED ON WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS!!

      What is the Gospel? Paul said, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you . . . By this gospel you are saved . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. . . ” from 1 Cor. 15.

      1. Excuse me?! This gospel does not address baptism – immersion or sprinkling or infant – nor speaking in tongues, nor Scripture translations…
        How can I simply accept this gospel?

        1. TiecyKaye,
          CS Lewis once wrote that there would likely be three great surprises in Heaven. The people there you never expected to see, the people missing that you thought you would surely see, and the greatest wonder of all, that I myself would be there.
          Here’s a thought… The narrow way is not the way of legalism and exclusion, that’s the broad way.

        2. Troublewit, I think TiecyKaye is being just a teeny wee bit sarcastic. 🙂

  9. “He that winneth souls is wise”…unless your not IFB than your a pansy liberal.

    – Said the Pastor that has led 10,000 people to The Lord and runs a church of 125.

    1. So tired of hearing that verse mis-applied; mis-translated. Just because it has the words “wins” and “souls” in the words, it is somehow equated to IFB “soul-winning”

  10. You have to ask yourself what fundamentalists see as “salvation.”

    They “say” it is asking the Lord to save you, as in saying the sinner’s prayer, traveling the Romans Road, accepting Jesus as your Savior, etc.

    Then they tell you that once you are saved, you cannot ever again be lost. Once Saved, Always Saved. You are Indwelt with the Holy Spirit, sanctified, justified. You have God’s seal set upon your heart, and you have become God’s Child.

    BUT then if you do not become what they are, believe exactly the same things, do what the MoG tells you without question, fall into “sin” (whether it is really sin or not), then they question your salvation. “He must not have ever been ‘really’ saved to begin with,” they mourn.

    All those things about Salvation they “believe” are just theoretical concepts. They really have no assurance that someone is saved. That is why they will continually make altar calls for salvation to an auditorium full of people the Pastor knows full well have all professed faith in Jesus Christ. Ultimately, Salvation is about works. IF you are saved then you should be doing these things this way and only this way. IF you are saved you should believe exactly these things and nothing contrary. IF. IF. IF.

    It is a perverse revisionism of James. James rightly says that faith without works is dead. But in fundamentalism, there is no freedom of the gifts of the Spirit to be manifested in ways unapproved by the MoG. Nor is there any real room for mental, moral, emotional and spiritual growth. In Fundamentalism, one goes from infant to spiritual warrior in a short period of time, not a matter of years or decades. That is why we give young men churches to Pastor, when they haven’t the life experience to know what to do.

    Fundies cannot trust that someone else who gives “the gospel” actually does so because they do not see these outsiders as really saved. They are not THEM, they they do not act like THEM, the believe some things different, so how can they really be saved? After all, salvation is only for a remnant, not for everyone.

    1. It’s especially crazy to me, in light of the fact that even the church kids can get saved two and three times.

      1. Then there are the stories of pastors’ wives who sometime after years in the ministry discover that they were never saved and come forward to “get saved.”

        I have always viewed these things with suspicion. I am also increasingly of the thought that salvation is not a one time complete packaged event, but a process God manages. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it to the day of Jesus Christ.”

  11. Darrell, Darrell don’t you know that if a soul is won to Christ using a modern Bible version then it will be doomed because they have been born of corruptible seed?
    Really though, Hyles wrote a whole book… Enemies of Soulwinning, explaining how all of these other issues are important because they hinder soulwinning. So they are more consistent than you would imagine…
    Of course, it’s still wrong. But hey.

    1. I believe his book was “Let’s Go Soul-Winning”, and one chapter of the book was Enemies of Soul-Winning – one point in the chapter was that people could only be saved via the KJV.


  12. My parents, who were IFB missionaries (still missionaries, but no longer IFB) would have churches ask them if they used a Spanish translated KJV bible before booking them for a Sunday. We used the more common Reina Valera, which was just as complicated, with its old Spanish terminology.

    These nutbags wanted the KJV translated into the missionary’s choice of country’s language before they even considered supporting them.

    1. That’s insane but not surprising. I noticed in the late 1990s almost every missionary to a Spanish-speaking country would belabor the point that the R-V is the KJV for the Spanish language. I guess this explains why they felt the need to do that. (Incidentally, we were an only-get-saved-out-of-the-KJV church, but we didn’t really care much about what translations our missionaries used.)

      I find it interesting that KJV-only fundies almost always prefer/promote whatever foreign language version is the most old-fashioned and archaic, thereby tacitly admitting that the primary reason they like the King James is because of its opacity and not because of any nonsense to do with Wescott and Hort’s Egyptian manuscripts or whatever.

      1. There are those who believe the KJV is the only translation for the ENTIRE world. Therefore the KJV must be translated into every language so the world can have the true word of God.
        I wish I were joking.

      2. Re “Saving the Catholics” (in Hispanic countries): I must confess that this is one of my pet peeves. Why don’t more fundagelical missionaries go to places where people have never heard the Gospel before? Like, you know, Uzbekistan? Or the 99% Hindu wilderness areas of India (where some Jesuit missionaries I know are serving)? Why is it always El Salvador or someplace like that?

        My answer: It’s easier in the Catholic countries, because Catholics have already heard of Jesus. (Duhhh.) And it’s also a whole lot SAFER: You don’t get beheaded or anything unpleasant like that.

        (I’m not saying that there aren’t many fundy missionaries risking their lives in hostile foreign lands. I’m just saying that they seem to be vastly outnumbered by the “Save-the-Catholics” contingent. Grrrr.)

        OK, sorry for getting off-topic. This is just something that has always bothered me.

        1. Especially as in reality, Catholics are much more likely to actually be saved than Hindus.

        2. Oh, no, Latin America is a paradise on earth, what with all the natives knowing their place and being good Roman Catholics. Or so the nuns taught us five decades ago, right after they whacked our knuckles with their rulers.
          I’ve gotten a kick out of the Evangelicals and IFBs and all the other Christian sects flocking down to Latin America in the past few decades to save all those lost souls.

        3. Not off topic at all, CGC.

          I was mighty P.O.’ed some years ago when a young engaged couple was at a party, the purpose was to solicit funds for their “missionary trip to Russia.

          1. They said that there is no Christianity in Russia; all are “unsaved.” They conveniently overlooked many centuries of Orthodox Christianity, including the time that the Christians had to meet in secret.

          2. They were to remain celibate and chaste before marriage, and even after marriage were to remain that way until their “mission trip” was over. My thought was, “Who in tarnation is ordering a young, newly-married couple to refrain from what married couples do?”

          No, I didn’t make a donation to their project.

        4. Catholic Gate crasher. AS we speak my daughter along with my youngest grandaughter are “ministrying” in Quatamala. Be back this Saturday thankfully.

        5. My parents feel like that the type of Catholicism in Latin America has a much greater focus on the Virgin Mary, and leaves Jesus on the back burner, therefore not really praying the “sinner’s prayer”. It sounds ridiculous now, specially since salvation is such a confusing feat that’s not as cut and clear in the Bible as preachers like to think it is. But that’s why they feel it justifiable along with a ton of other missionaries. The problem now is that a lot of people are falling for the prosperity gospel types, and there’s no shortage of dipshits who are taking advantage of the poor in those regions. That movement has grown very quickly in the past couple of decades.

    2. I’ve heard about the Reina Valera, and that’s it’s a harder version to understand? I got a NIV spanish/english version, and it’s hard enough!

      1. Actually, I found the Reina-Valera to be quite understandable – there is a lot of phrasing similarities with the KJV, probably due to the scholarly rhetoric common to all parts of educated Europe in the late Renaissance. I remember one translator saying that the RV was the version used most often in Mexico when my work team tried to use a verse from the Spanish NIV – and the church we were working with was quite Pentecostal. Thinking about it, the NIV translated from English to Spanish is really no better than the KJV translated into Spanish – all languages deserve the dignity of having direct translations from the Hebrew and Greek.

      2. RV would probably not be as difficult for someone in Spain where many of the more uncommon terms (for Latin America) are still used today.

  13. A prof at BJU defined “love” as “positively willing the best” for another.

    So, I positively will “the best” for you. I know that God’s best for you includes wimmins wearing dresses; men wearing jackets and ties. God’s best for you means you have to be at my IFB church every time the door is open; and that you give 10% of gross to the storehouse.

    There you go.

    1. Dear fundy4life:

      I’d be interested to know how this informs the fundamentalist pastor’s homiletical work. A few words on that process might be helpful.

      Christian Socialist

  14. All true disciples in Bible times wore suits and ties. WAIT they did not exist at all during Biblical times. It is just a man made custom of relatively the last few hundred years. I bet if Jesus showed up in a funkamentalist church today, He would be expelled for inappropriate dress.

  15. After careful study and meditation, I have concluded that I know less at 36 than I did at 15. Reading some of your comments mirror some of my thoughts. One question I wrestle with is what it means when the bible says to be holy. It seems to be separate from Christ’s righteousness which all believers have obtained by grace through faith.

      1. I believe he is asking why some comments don’t have a “Reply” option… I assume because there is a limit set, by either you or the host software to only nest two or three deep.

  16. Depends on the church. In all fairness, I’ve heard SOME IFB pastors say we should be supportive of all who are trying to win the lost, even if we disagree on standards, etc.

      1. You are here, so does that make you a “they”? Way to stereotype the stereotypers.

        1. You are here, so does that make you a “they”? Way to stereotype the stereotypers.

          Are you going to deny the point I made? I guess so. Thanks anyways

        2. Yeah, actually, I am “denying” your point, though “contradicting” would be a more appropriate word.

    1. I’m glad for those who do say that. Few of the ones I knew would say that though. I hear so much preaching against Billy Graham, for example, that in adulthood, when I found a magazine put out by the Graham association, I was shocked to read the plan of salvation – clearly written out for all to see. It was a wonderful testimony, and I was sad that all I’d heard all my life was how horrible he was for associating with people with whom we had theological differences.

      1. Ah yes, the dreadful Billy Graham. Don’t forget about Dr. Dobson who teaches that we should {gasp} BUILD self-esteem in a child! What if they were to become strong, confident young people and leave the fundy movement?

  17. Not too long ago, I listened to a speaker from a fundamentalist Bible society declare that God had given us the KJV for this time. My jaw literally dropped (and I made no attempt to hide the fact). As a Bible society, their duty should to ensure all languages have good translations from the Greek and Hebrew. I gathered that this society had separated from another Bible society because of the KJV issue.

    I once had the privilege to attend the dedication of a newly completed translation, the work of several denominations, in a language only recently written down. The joy and pride of the language speakers to have their own Bible was wonderful to see – their pastors spoke of how this translation was in the best scholarly use of their language. In light of that experience, the Bible society speaker looked very petty.

  18. I was always confused how “soul winning” was supposed to take place if we were supposed to be so separate from all the ones who had it wrong. The big sermon illustration that can up the most was how there were more bars then churches in the little tiny dead end town. But we weren’t allowed to hang out with those others – even the ones that went to the Southern Baptist Church down the road! Seriously of all the buffoonery I heard from the pulpit that was one of the most frustrating “points” I ever heard preached.

    1. This one always loaded me with guilt! I was a very earnest child, desperate to please God, and when an evangelist exhorted us to invite someone to the revival, I wanted desperately to comply but I knew no one to ask! We were homeschooled (or went to a small Christian school a long distance away) and weren’t allowed to play with neighborhood kids or get involved in community events like sports. Who was I supposed to invite? I knew logically that I should be off the hook, but I always felt guilty for not obeying.

      1. Yep. I empathize. Even as an adult I couldn’t see inviting my liberal friends. I know some teachers that I would have liked to invite. They would seriously get offended – especially if it was the typical “public school is bad you’ll lose your kids” sermon. Which was pretty frequent. Nor my musician friends- cause the music we played was too secular and usually hellfire type sermon fodder. So after a couple years I just quit going! That solved so many problems.

  19. Darrell, Some of the comments do NOT have the little red reply button underneath. Thanks

    1. Yes, that’s true. That was explained earlier. See your post from before — several people responded.

      I liked Tiecey’s explanation best.

  20. In all fairness, I’d support a like minded ministry over one I disagreed on too. I’d certainly support a missionary I agreed with doctrinally over some hyper-fundy any day. And doctrine being equal, I’d support a new work over an established one as well for the simple fact that I think new ministries attract and reach the unchurched better that older, long established ones. Tim Keller actually did a great series on why planting new churches, even in heavily churched areas is good for the church community as a whole.

    (Tim Keller series if you are interested:

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