The following is the first section of a booklet I wrote titled B.I.N.O. – Comparing the Roots of the I.F.B. Movement to the Root of God’s People. This was first written as a booklet then delivered to our congregation on our one-year anniversary as members of the small country-side body.
The acronym B.I.N.O. stands for “Baptist in Name Only.” There are many who claim the Baptist name but who are not Baptist in doctrine or lineage. But one group in particular stands out in my mind. Perhaps it is because of all the Baptist groups out there, this one is controversial, popular, alluring, and deceitful. The Independent Fundamental Baptists are a collection of rag-tags who were united under the banner of “Fundamentalism” and endeavored to shape many generations of young and old into a people not swayed by the rising threat of modernism. The movement enjoyed a heyday that in many ways seems to be waning, though there does seem to be a scramble to salvage what Jack Hyles left behind. Moreover, many who grew up in that movement are now more liberal than their pastors could have imagined. Now, in the IFB movement there is a call to re-ignite the torch and be more resolute against the threat of modernism. But the question is why? Dear reader, are you aware of the origin of the IFB and why such a movement was always a way to funnel Protestants back to Rome?
This short booklet is a collection of two articles written to address these issues. I wanted to compile my research in one place for readers who may have had the same questions I did. My prayer is that you will come out from among them and be separate from Rome and Protestantism!
The Roots of the Independent Fundamental Baptists
My wife and I were scripturally baptized by an authorized Baptist church, The Historic Anabaptist Church of SoldiersGrove, WI, March 28, 2016. This came after a number of years hopping from one Fundamentalist church to the next, even having a few brushes with Charismatics and Gospel Hall Brethren. We saw a number of different sects of Fundamentalism. Most of our experience was with the very unique sect of Wisconsin Fundamentalism, which is dominated by the Maranatha Baptist University of Watertown. I was “baptized” twice before finally being scripturally baptized. Once by a Charismatic and once by a rogue Fundamentalist who has essentially paved a new sect by himself. I give this brief testimony because my third baptism, unlike our Anabaptist forefathers’, was not death by drowning. We did, however, sacrifice our finances and the loss of friends and even some family in our desire to follow the Lord. The issue of “identity” and “authority” matters a great deal to our Lord. Otherwise, millions of men, women, and children never would have been martyred. It matters who baptized you. Sadly, the water and the blood matter very little to us today.
By my personal experience, the “Fundamentalist Baptists” are perhaps the most dangerous of all Protestant groups because they are the closest to the truth. Like all other Protestant groups before them, the Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB) were another attempt at reforming Rome, standing against modernism and proclaiming a more conservative, “Back to Bible” theology. Therefore, I submit to you that Fundamental Baptists are Baptists in Name Only (B.I.N.O.).
“Fundamentalism” is regarded as the last true vestige of Christian heritage by virtue of the term. It has been since the mid 1900s. It conjures images of the “good ol’ days” when men stood for the “Old black Book.” In the minds of liberals, Fundamentalism is the epitome of “grandma’s church.” Indeed, those who are starving for fellowship and the truth of God’s word will inevitably meander into one of these groups and “finally” find a place where they can stay and get good, sound, Conservative doctrine. But what is Fundamentalism? Is it Bible Christianity or is it yet another Protestant movement, an invention of men who, for all intents and purposes, and out of the sincerity of their hearts, tried to salvage something truly sacred and historic? Unfortunately, the answer is a blow to those who think they have found the truth. In reality, they are far from it.
Really, one does not have to search very hard to find the actual roots of this splinter sect of apostate Christianity. Several sources admit that Fundamentalism is an interdenominational movement. To begin with, Baker’s Dictionary of Theology tells us, “The term denotes a movement in Theology in recent decades designed to conserve the principles which be at the foundation of the Christian system, and to resist what were considered dangerous theological tendencies in the movement calling itself Modernism. Its tenets are not those of any Protestant denomination, but comprise the verities essential to the Christian gospel as inherited from all branches of the Reformation” (Emphasis added). Fundamentalism did not spring out of any one protestant group but is “inherited from all branches” of various protestant groups. Therefore, this movement does not truly maintain any Christian conservatism because Christian conservatism originated with, and was perpetuated by, Christ and his disciples. The only positive thing that can be said of Fundamentalism is that it recognized conservative theology, borrowed it from those who were the historic preservers of it, and put a new name on it. Baker’s Dictionary of Theology continues: “Organizationally, Fundamentalism took shape as a consequence of the World Conference in Christian Fundamentals which convened at Philadelphia in May 1919.” The fundamentals that were outlined are as follows:
- The inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture
- The Trinity
- The deity and virgin birth of Christ
- The creation of the fall of man
- Substitutionary atonement
- The bodily resurrection and ascension of Christ
- The regeneration of believers
- The personal and imminent return of Christ
- The resurrection and final assignment of all men to eternal blessedness or eternal woe
The reader should be reasonable enough to conclude that it never was the task of a committee of men to determine the Fundamental Doctrines of the faith. They had no authority to do so! What is compelling is that a main organizer of the World Conference in Christian Fundamentals was what we should call a so-called Baptist. We learn, “Fundamentalist movements existed in most North American Protestant denominations by 1919 following attacks on modernist theology in Presbyterian and Baptist denominations” (Wikipedia). Sadly, Wikipedia makes no distinction between True Baptists and Protestants but presumes Baptists are Protestants, an error modern B.I.N.O. historians perpetuate today. This line blurring makes it hard for the sincere student of history. But we shall furnish enough evidence to prove that True Baptists never yoked up with such an interdenominational monstrosity; we will learn that True Baptists, although sometimes lumped in with the IFB, are not IFB.
William Bell Riley was a prominent Northern Baptist based in Minneapolis. Many men were trained “under Riley” by way of three seminaries: Northwestern Bible and Missionary Training School (1902), Northwestern Evangelical Seminary (1935),and Northwester College (1944). However, in 1919, Riley created the “World Christian Fundamentals Association” (WCFA). This is cited on the Wikipedia page as the, “chief interdenominational fundamentalist organization in the 1920s,” and so it is regarded by many others. What this means for Fundamental Baptists, who insert themselves into the historic, factual heritage of True Baptists, is that they are, by the testimony of history alone, frauds. Even if the Baptists who were pulled into this movement were Scriptural, it is reasonable to conclude they are no longer scriptural, as much of their doctrine is unlike Baptists of old. This first attempt at protecting conservative Christian theology against the evils of modernism tapered out by 1929, but in 1930 there was a resurgence by the Independent Fundamental Churches of America. This is essentially what birthed the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement, which today is undergoing more splintering.
As we will continue to see, there are two groups of Baptists: True Baptists and False Baptists. But how do we identify them? Is it by the name? Well, sometimes a name can tell a great deal about who they are and what they believe. In this case, one only needs to scratch the surface of the Fundamentalist’s name to uncover their true identity. We will continue with our history.
Search the Internet and you will probably find baptistbasics.org. On this website, we are given a history of the Independent Fundamental Baptists in an article titled “Origins of Independent Fundamental Baptists.” The information found on this small page is condemning to say the least. The information on this site provides key information that corroborates and deepens the information from the Wikipedia page we cited earlier. I will extensively quote and comment on this source so the reader can connect the dots.
Baptists themselves have a history dating back to the Book of Acts. Some deny this and claim that Baptist have only existed for about four hundred years, but history does show many groups have existed that believed Baptist Principles.
I deny their premise for the simple fact that the Book of Acts chronicles the exploits of the first Baptistic church that was already in existence. The first church, the church at Jerusalem, was established by Jesus Christ while he was on the earth after he was Baptized by John in the Jordan River. What we will see in the next section is that from the banks of the Jordan until now, there have always been people who believed Bible principles. We continue:
The foundation for the IFB movement is deeply rooted in its Baptist heritage…The beginnings of the IFB movement I believe can be traced to the mid 1800’s in America. Events such as the beginnings of the Church of Christ and the growing threat of “higher criticism” caused many Christians to rally around their core doctrines. Baptists were not alone in this, as many other groups did the same.
The point is taken that “Baptists were not alone in this.” I do not doubt that Scriptural Baptists felt the pressure to do something in response to the rise of modernism—but I can assure you a great deal did not capitulate to the call of Rome to band together in solidarity, agree to disagree, strike up a list of “common fundamental doctrines,” thus forfeiting their candlestick. But the writer of this article fails to see what error they made. They told the reader the IFB movement is “deeply rooted in its Baptist heritage,” but they cite the beginning of the movement in the 1800’s. I am sorry, friend, but the Baptist heritage is much older than the 1800’s. It appears the IFBs can only go as far back as then, but True Baptists go back to when John Baptist began his ministry. I suggest, and can prove, that the heritage of the IFB became at once tainted because it, unlike other stalwart Baptist congregations, fell away in their inter-denominationalism. The writer of this article under examination proves it for me, but we shall see later other sources that validate my claim. The writer says,
An example of this emphasis on key doctrines is the Landmark movement. Led by J.R. Graves, these Baptists held tenaciously to Baptist doctrine and practice…Personally, I do see many similarities in the two [IFB and Landmark] though Landmarkers take many of their positions further.
Essentially, this writer admits to the reader, in a cleverly veiled way, that the Landmarkers (though one group) of the day were more resolute in their doctrine and carefully guarded their respective bodies than did their IFB counterparts. But less veiled is the positive assertion that the IFB movement finds its renewal (or, really, its true inception) in the 1920’s and 30’s.
…names such as W.B. Riley, T.T. Shields, and J. Frank Norris worked their way into prominence. It is with J. Frank Norris that all these trials of history converge. In his battles with state and national Baptist conventions, he led the way for Independent Baptist thought and practice. His influence is credited with bringing Fundamentalism into Baptist circles.
What this means is the “Fundamentalism” of the 1919 conference, an interdenominational construction, was smuggled into Baptist churches, but the suggestion to break away from Conventions is not original with IFB. Surely, many other Baptist churches existed that never did join a convention and had thus always been autonomous. Nothing is hardly said of these groups. Still, a great deal of churches are likely to have come out from the conventions to become “independent” once again, but to say such a church automatically joined the IFB movement as we know it today is unreasonable and unsubstantiated. Churches join and leave conventions for a variety of reasons, and it never means they left in order to join a swelling movement or another convention! The collusion of the already apostate leaders was at a time when fear of capitulating to liberalism was on the minds of many Baptist church goers who were ripe for anything that would protect them and the future of their great heritage. Unfortunately, sin lieth at the door. Really, there always had been, and always were going to be, Baptists who could withstand the pressures and allurements of Satan, though the world seemed to crumble around them.
Most of the leaders of the IFB movement of the 20th century have direct ties to Norris. John R. Rice allied with Norris for a few years, though eventually would sever ties…If not in direct ties, every other IFB leader has embraced thought and practice pioneered by Norris.
Remember, this is the same John R. Rice who worked closely with “Dr.” Jack Hyles, who has almost done more to destroy the faith of our fathers (by masquerading as a Baptist but watering down the doctrine) in his time and ours than any other IFB pope. His legacy, as well as Rice’s, is far reaching. Of course, there was much wrong with the movement before those two men appeared on the scene. The simple fact that “Fundamentalism” is wholly an interdenominational movement, which just happens to include “Baptists,” is enough to convince me.
But how about you? Are you convinced that the origins of the IFB are man-made? Are you sure your IFB baptism is authorized (Scriptural)? How can you be, when in light of the cold-hard facts of history alone, the cover is blown. Independent Fundamental Baptists are BAPTIST IN NAME ONLY.