What is an Independent, Fundamental Baptist Church?
The name Independent Fundamental Baptist Church is used traditionally by churches which pattern themselves strictly after the example of the early church as found in the New Testament. The words “Independent” and “Fundamental” have been added by Baptist churches after the use of the name Baptist failed to fully identify what they believed. The name Baptist is used by many churches who are not fundamental in their beliefs. Some “Baptist” churches were in the past founded on the doctrinal teachings of the New Testament, however, many of them have drifted away from many of the teachings of the Scriptures. Some of these churches have gone so far as to deny the fundamental teachings of the Bible, such as the deity of Christ, the virgin birth and salvation by the Grace of God, through faith. These churches still call themselves “Baptist, ” but in fact they do not believe or practice what true Baptists have historically believed. The true Independent Fundamental Baptists have no association or fellowship with these churches because they teach or practice things contrary to the New Testament.
The name Fundamental Independent Baptist is of recent origin and came into being as a result of many modern day Baptist churches compromising the Word of God and teaching and practicing false doctrines. There were however, many Baptists who loved the Word of God and held true to it and refused to abandon the teaching of the New Testament. In order to distinguish between the doctrinally unsound Baptist churches and those that believed the Bible many Baptist churches changed their name. These true Baptists added the adjectives Fundamental and Independent to their name in order that they not be identified with the false practices and teaching of the doctrinally unsound churches using the Baptist name.
The word “Independent” means that the church is not a member of any council, convention or is a part of any hierarchy outside the local congregation. An Independent Baptist Church would not be apart of a national organization that would exercise authority over the local church. Thus, the name “independent” means that the church patterns itself after the New Testament example and stands alone under the authority of the Bible. Independent churches have no organized organization over them in authority. They direct their own affairs under the authority of the New Testament Scriptures, free from the outside interference. The New Testament teaches that Christ is the head of the church, (Eph. 5:23) and the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). The local pastor is the shepherd (Heb. 13:17, Acts 20:28, Eph. 4:11) or leader of the congregation. The Independent Baptist church has a congregational form of government with each member having the right of the vote and all the affairs of the churches are conducted by the local congregation following the guidelines of the New Testament.
Independent Fundamental Baptist churches have fellowship one with the other and often cooperate in such things as evangelism. They, however, will only fellowship or cooperate in joint meetings with churches of like belief. They will not participate, on a church basis, in any outside function with churches which do not also strictly base their faith and practice on the New Testament. They will not participate in joint meetings, or evangelistic endeavors, with Protestants, Catholics, or other doctrinally unsound church groups who do not hold to the fundamental teachings of the New Testament (Examples: Billy Graham, Promise Keepers) Fundamental Independent Baptist churchs will remain separate from these churches as well as other Baptists groups who participate with the unscriptural churches. They practice the Biblical teachings of separation as stated in Ephesians 5:11, which says, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” The Independent Baptist believes that to join with churches who teach and practice false doctrine is to condone and even show approval of Biblical error and that all doctrinal error is sin.
The officers of the local church are pastors and deacons. (I Tim. 3:1-16) The pastor of the church is called by majority vote of the congregation. Men meeting the Biblical qualification of deacons (I Tim. 3:8-13) are appointed from the local congregation and approved by the majority vote. Many Baptist churches have Trustees, but their position was established in order to have legal “signatories” to sign legal documents of the church. Neither Deacons or Trustees are a governing body nor a “board,” but titles of special appointed servants who service and are subject to the will of the pastor and congregation.
The word “Fundamental” means that the Baptist church uses the New Testament strictly as its authority for faith (doctrine) and practice. In recent years the news media has called doctrinally unsound churchs such as the Charismatics and Pentecostals “fundamentalists.” Even some TV evangelists have referred to themselves as being “fundamentalist.” But they should not be confused with Fundamental Baptists. They are in fact worlds apart. Most of the TV evangelists and all of the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches promote teachings which are not Biblical. Fundamental Baptists use the name in its strictest sense as meaning holding to the fundamentals of the New Testament teachings without error. True Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches uphold the purest teachings of the early church as revealed in the New Testament.
What Baptist’s Are Not
Baptists are not Protestants! The name Protestant was given to those churches which came out of Roman Catholicism during the Reformation which began in the 1500’s. It originally applied through the 1700’s to Lutherans, and Anglicans. Later Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Methodists were added to the lists of Protestants denominations. Though many people including Webster’s Dictionary refers Baptists as being Protestants, it is not correct to refer to them as such or to lump all non-Catholic denominations in one group and label them Protestant. Historically, Baptists were never a part of the Roman Catholic Church or the Protestant Reformation and therefore can not be correctly called “protestors” or Protestants.
It is true that many Baptists left the ranks of Protestant churches which were doctrinal unsound and apostate. They left these churches because of their strong conviction that the Word of God should not be compromised. Some formed new churches and called themselves Baptists to make it clear that they believed and followed the New Testament. It is not historically correct to identify Baptists as Catholic “protestors” who left the Roman church. In the many books on church history there is not one recorded incident of a Baptist church beginning founded out of Roman Catholicism. Protestants for centuries saw the Baptists as their “enemies” and murdered them by the thousands in the name of Protestantism. It is surely an affront to call a Baptist by the name of a group that has so hated and persecuted them down throughout history.
There have always existed, from the time of Christ, New Testament churches which were not a part of the Roman Church. In fact the Roman Church can only trace its history back to 313 AD when the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity a legal religion. In 395 AD, Emperor Contantius “Christianized” Rome and made the worship of idols punishable by death. By 400 AD, the Emperor Theodosius had declared Christianity the only state religion of the Roman Empire. Many churches by this time had come under the domination of the Rome government and had ceased from being New Testament churches. When the Roman Emperor declared Christianity the religion of Rome, he in mass “converted” hordes of pagans which made up the Empire. Pagan temples became the meeting houses for “Christians.” Rome, then hired unregenerate pagan priests as “Christian” ministers. The influx of these falsely converted pagans is one reason Roman Catholicism came to have so many false and pagan beliefs.
However, in the midst of all this apostasy, that was the foundation of the Roman Catholic church, there were groups of Christians who were never a part of the “Christianization” of the Roman Empire. These New Testament believers rejected every attempt to include them in with the other churches who compromised and accepted the Roman government’s money, rule and authority.
The over the years the growth of so many false and idolatrous practices caused some within the Catholic church such as Martin Luther to rebel, and to attempt to “reform” the Catholic church. This was the birth of Protestant churches. Although, many Protestants returned in part to a belief in the Bible as their authority for their faith and practice, not one of them EVER completely left all the doctrinal errors and false teachings of the apostate Roman Catholic church.
Protestants have never accepted the principle of separation of church and state. In Europe, Protestant churches are “state” churches and supported to some degree by government imposed taxes. In Germany, the state church is Lutheran and in England, the Anglican church, France, the Roman Catholic Church, etc.
The idea that the bread and wine (grape juice) in the Lord’s Supper actually becoming the physical body of Christ when taken is a Roman Catholic teaching that Protestants only modified slightly. Still today, many Protestants see the Lord’s Supper as a sacrament, having to some degree saving properties or imparting some spiritual benefit. True New Testament Christians have always rejected such unbiblical ideas.
Protestants still practice infant baptism which absolutely is not taught in the Word of God. Many Protestant denominations still hold to the writings of their church fathers as a source of church doctrine and have never accepted the Bible as their sole source of teachings for their faith and practice. They all hold on to a system of hierarchy in church government and do not accept the autonomy the local church. Autonomy means each local church governs itself free from outside authority and control.
Baptists, basing their beliefs solely on the Bible, have never held to these teachings and see them as heresy. Thus, history and the doctrines of Protestantism clearly show that Baptists are not Protestants.