As I have mentioned before, I’ve been looking for another church to attend. I had it narrowed down to two and then took one of them off my list due to the fact that they tie baptism into salvation. I don’t know for sure how God will work that one out, but I don’t see baptism as necessary for salvation according to the Bible and don’t want to financially support a ministry that is teaching at least a partially false gospel. So, yesterday, I attended a “find out more about us” class as the remaining church. I was disturbed to find out that the church I was considering joining was an independent fundamental Baptist church when I had been under the impression that it was non-denominational based on the name or American Baptist due to its location in the paper’s listing of local churches. It is nothing like the churches I grew up in in so many ways. No apparent rules against pants on women, music, movies, drinking, etc. which would have been reason for scorn and excommunication in the churches I grew up in. But still, IFB is the very system that I am seeking to escape from. I guess I need to figure out if it is IFB or just legalism that I need to get away from. I kindof think it is both.
I was further triggered (as in I worried about it so much I got no sleep last night!) that to join you had to sign a contract that says, “I will promote unity in my church by following the leadership”. I don’t know if I can sign that. It was the following of the leader that has allowed several of my childhood pastors to insist that his members support sexual abusers (as in we gave them a standing ovation for suffering “persecution” from authorities) and allow them to remain in places of leadership or, if they no longer wanted them, simply passed them on to an IFB buddy. The abuser and his family were suddenly “called” to work in a new ministry (where many times the abuse continued). It was following the leader that caused the majority of members to stay silent while Tina Anderson confessed to the “sin” of being raped and was sent away while her rapist remained in leadership-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_kvNSW_Z8c . The rest of the 20/20 Episode can be found on YouTube. Tina says, “You don’t question the pastor. It’s his way or the highway.” It was following the leader that allowed Jack Schaap to “polish his shaft” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr0UpQXYkGs - in front of thousands of teenagers at Youth Conference while his deacons looked on and did nothing, because they had been told to follow the leader, not to question, “touch not mine anointed”. It was because of following the leader that when First Baptist realized that Schaap had just gone too far when he committed statutory rape, they tried to send him on a sabbatical rather than firing him and turning him in to the authorities. And it caused them to send letters to the judge in support of this man who had so abused his position to try to get him a lighter sentence, STILL following the leadership eight months after his crimes had been exposed, despite knowing all the other inappropriate relationships (even if no intercourse was involved) that had been going on for years.
Am I over-reacting? Absolutely. Is it unfounded? No. This church is creating the same environment that allowed all the sexual, spiritual, verbal, and even physical abuse to happen in the churches I grew up in. And anyone who raised alarm was “divisive” and “not following me as I follow God”.