How To Be Too Traditional

(or, The Problem With Independent Fundamental Baptists)


Introduction

    Recently I've noticed that there are those out there with some strange views.  You see, I used to be Independent Fundamental Baptist.  That is, until later on in life, after having moved towards what I found in the Bible, I noticed that I had moved away from some views that were totally incorrect and in fact detrimental.  I would like to put forth some here.

KJV Only

    What is the King James Version?  It is a translation of the Bible into English.  I will skip over the history of it, but summarize by saying it is a good translation.  However, it is no longer in common contemporary English: it is in 19th century English.  No one speaks the way King James reads today, and as such, while it is suitable for those who are used to it, it is not conversational, nor modern, English.
    The problem with the KJV-only crowd is not actually the translation they use.  Their translation is old English, but that's not the problem.  The problem is when they intentionally spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about other versions of the Bible, while assuming that theirs is the only version of the Bible.  I have several problems with that.
    First, it negates the fact that it is a translation.  Those who espouse this viewpoint use language like "the word of God" to refer to it.  It is not the original that Paul and John, etc, wrote.  It is a translation of copies of the originals.  Now the Texus Receptus is a very good text set: second only to the Majority Text (in fact, they only differ in 2 places, if I remember correctly).  No one is knocking accuracy.  However, it is an English translation, and there can exist other good translations.  It is not a sin or a crime, as they try to imply, to use any other version of the Bible.
    Second, they tend to spread lies about other translations.  The most common is that two of the translators of the NIV are or were lesbians or homosexuals.  As of writing this, I can find no reputable evidence to confirm this.  But this seems to skip past the fact that all human beings, whether we view them as more holy or less holy, are sinners.  All men are sinners, and you cannot begin to compare the translators as if one set is more holy than another.  Jesus strongly advised against comparing one set of human beings to another, as all are sinners:

Luke 13:4-5 (NKJV) "Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

Much less, Focus on the Family notes that there are many pastors and music ministers who are calling in to pornography addiction help lines, as well as other Christians.  The thing to note here is not that there are hypocrites out there, but that we are all sinners, an inescapable fact.
    The 1611 KJV supporters are even worse in this aspect, not only holding to the KJV but to specifically the 1611.  However, I've seen the 1611: it's a museum piece.  Wikipedia has an example on their page: the version now used is the Oxford and Cambridge revision to the standard text (they revised it in 1769).  Here is an example (which I can confirm, having seen one with my own two eyes):

The 1611 and 1769 texts of the first three verses from I Corinthians 13 are given below.

    1. Though I speake with the tongues of men & of Angels, and haue not charity, I am become as sounding brasse or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I haue the gift of prophesie, and vnderstand all mysteries and all knowledge: and though I haue all faith, so that I could remooue mountaines, and haue no charitie, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestowe all my goods to feede the poore, and though I giue my body to bee burned, and haue not charitie, it profiteth me nothing.

    1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

In these three verses, there are eleven changes of spelling, nine changes of typesetting, three changes of punctuation, and one variant text - where "not charity" is substituted for "no charity" in verse two, in the erroneous belief that the original reading was a misprint.


    The other thing they do is try to defame the translators of other versions.  Websites exist such as this where supposedly Dr. Virginia Mollenkott, a lesbian, was on the translation committee.  In fact they recorded three cassettes about her, which is laughable (how many cassettes do you need to state something that simple?)  However, a quick look at the list of translators on the NIV website tells us she was not on the translation committee at all.
    They also try to say that translating a word "effeminate" rather than "homosexual" etc is a mistranslation or somehow some conspiracy to make the Bible more "gay friendly."  Ironically the word "effeminate" is much broader in scope than homosexual, and includes homosexual behavior in its accepted definition and connotation.  People who write such websites evidently do not think and are trying to find any way possible to discredit other translations.
    The bottom line here is believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.  Anyone with a web server account or a blog can say anything they want on the internet: there are no truth cops.  For example, I can write anything on this page that I want and no one will stop me from claiming that, for instance, purple men from mars are invading earth.  Get my point?
    They also conveniently say that one of the translators, who is now dead, was a homosexual.  You can't Google Search for his name without a bunch of websites (with a very clear bias against the NIV based on their domain name) that denounce him.  But none have definitive proof that can be tested.  So all we have is a bunch of old websites on the internet about him from biased domains and references which cannot be confirmed.
    But I find it interesting that those who support the King James Version, one which frequently uses archaic English words and of which the lives of the translators cannot be scrutinized (i.e. the same medicine they use of going on homosexual manhunts), would go to such lengths to discredit a translation.  Why?  Translations are confirmed or rejected based on their accuracy alone.  If, for example, suddenly evidence was found that one of the translators of the KJV was gay, would they stop using it?  King James himself was rumored to have had male courtiers (but the issue, per Early Modern England, Bucholz, is "murky" in that it cannot be confirmed), but so what?  He wasn't a translator.  It's exactly this kind of paranoid obsessive stuff that those who base their life on a translation (rather than the truth found within it) depend on.  It's equivalent to the 9/11 conspiracy theories.
    Third, they think that the NIV and other NU test using translations are intentionally leaving out words or destroying the facts of the Bible.  Nothing can be farther from the truth.  While I do not think that an emphasis on the Dead Sea Scrolls is wise nor that the assumption that the shorter reading is the correct one due to "words being added," it was a textual choice that brought these differences out, not an intentional will to lead astray.  I prefer Majority Text but such an attitude, without an understanding of why these differences exist, lead to people touting English translations over each other, something that is not wise in concept.  The right thing would be to understand where the differences came from and an earnest desire to dig deeper than just believing the words on the page.  Learn how translation works.  Learn Greek and Hebrew.

Hymns Only

    Another problem I see goes beyond a simple preference for hymns versus contemporary Christian music.  It tries to say that hymns are the only acceptable songs for worship.  I see this problem having several causes:
    First, they seem to ignore that the Bible says:

Psalm 33:3 (NKJV) Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

The Bible never says that we can only sing new songs to God.  However, it encourages, not discourages, new songs.  If God's mercies are new every morning, why should I sing old songs about them when God can write new ones through me?  Do you think Heaven is going to be only the same set of songs we sing for eternity?  We could write new songs about the power and majesty and grace of God for eternity and still never be finished, nor done expressing our thanks to God.
    Second, they seem to imply that only the piano, or only instruments that they prefer, are acceptable in worship.  Such a teaching is actually heresy.  First, the piano had not been invented by the time the Psalms were written (not like that matters).  Second, the Bible specifically says "let everything that hath breath praise the Lord."  Not "everyone".  Any instrument we can invent can be used to praise God.  Third, they seem to ignore the many other instruments that are listed in the Bible as praising God.  Here is a list:
  • Stringed Instruments (Psalm 150:4)
  • Flutes (Psalm 150:4)
  • Cymbals (Psalm 150:5)
  • Trumpets (Psalm 150:3)
  • Harp (Psalm 150:3)
  • A Shout (Psalm 33:3)
They also seem to ignore that in several places (Psalm 150:5, Psalm 33:3) "loud" is given as a word which ought to describe our praise.  Not always (obviously) but it is an appropriate volume level.  It also recommends that we play skillfully (notice it didn't say "sing" skillfully but that's fine too).  It's as if those who espouse this viewpoint sit in their church listening to a piano, an instrument not listed, and without any instruments that are listed, think they are doing the right thing.  The Psalms surely do not list the instruments as if this is an instruction booklet on what instruments to use, but it's silly to see their encouragement to use such instruments and not want to at least try.  I am sure that the style of music being played in traditional Hebrew hymns (the Psalms) is not like the Hymns we now sing, and surely not like Contemporary Christian Music either.
    Third, they seem to only want to include the instruments they like and say that instruments are OK as long as they are played in "certain ways."  What they are really saying is "I prefer this style and so I believe that it is the only God-given style."  One cannot use something that is a personal preference to discourage others based on this preference.  Style of worship is nothing more than a preference, and it is not only wrong but in fact hypocritical to say that there is one God-given way to do things, especially in light of the fact that Hymns are totally unlike how the Hebrews played.
    As a side note, this is the same reason why Contemporary Christian Music lovers ought not to discourage the use of hymns.  Let all styles of music, not just the ones we like, be used to praise God.  Nothing wrong with preference, but do not disdain any style of music that is obviously God-honoring.

How We Give To Missions

    The last main thing that Independent Baptists do that is annoying is they try to say that their way of giving to missions is the only right way, or better than the Southern Baptists or other organizations that give to a central fund (such as the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program).  The reason for this is that we have examples of both churches sending out their own missionaries and of various churches mutually contributing to help missionaries in the life of one particular missionary: Paul.  Paul nor the Bible ever tell anyone which is the specific way to do things.  This is also seen in Old Testament history where sometimes a king would give to fix up the temple and sometimes the entire nation would join in doing so.
    The main problem here is that regardless of your preference, there is going to be both pros and cons to both methods.  The bottom line is that you ought not to take something that is preference and try to use scripture to "correct" all others who don't see things your way.

Tongues

    I keep hearing people quote the end of 1 Corinthians 13 and saying that "tongues will cease."  This is true, but you must understand that Paul in that chapter is writing in a literary figure.  At the beginning of the chapter he says "if I could speak with the tongues of men and of angels" and "if I give my body to be burned": he is not being literal but figurative.  There is no such exhortation nor command nor allowance to speak in angelic tongues (much less it defies the logic of 1 Corinthians 14 where Paul says that there are many earthly languages and none is without significance, meaning that he was specifically referring only to earthly languages).
    But while the charismatic circles miss this when they incorrectly interpret the beginning of 1 Corinthians 13, "fundamental" baptists mistranslate the end where it says they will cease.  It says knowledge shall vanish away and I don't perceive my level of intelligence dropping.  Paul also doesn't say when, nor list those items in such a way where one happens before the other, like Independent Baptists like to purport.
    Bottom line, if it obeys 1 Corinthians 12-14, is an earthly language, and is translated, and in order (not out of order), it is acceptable.  Notice Paul does say "do not forbid to speak in tongues."  Independent Baptists violate that verse often.
    Now I will say, as a side note, that I have only seen tongues in operation in the church only once where it was within the guidelines of 1 Corinthians 12-14.  Only once.  I'm only one person, true, but I've only seen it once.  I've seen it done many times improperly in other churches.  But this is not enough for Independent Baptists to say that all such is Satan, etc.  That's a huge leap of logic, and one that, if you are wrong, leads to direct blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (i.e. if you should accidentally attribute what the Holy Spirit does to Satan).  Not something I want to be a part of or even remotely risk.
    The Independent Baptists like to speak of stories of sending out "spies" into such churches and quoting the Bible in Greek to see if they translated it properly.  This is not only deceitful but cannot be confirmed.  If you can find the names of such people, list them.  Even then, coming into a service with intent to do such a thing smacks of malice more than of testing the spirits.

Exclusionary

    The general attitude that goes along with this is one of excluding all others.  I know their denomination name is "Independent" Baptist but I find major problem with this.
    For one, it has been my personal experience that they do not unite with other Christians towards common Biblical goals.  It has been my personal experience that if the pastor of any church in town other than their own asks to unite for, example, a prayer meeting, they normally do not attend.
    First, their actions seem to be indicative of someone who has assumed that they are right on all theissues and that only their way, their beliefs, are valid, or correct.  This is also seen in the way they seem to talk with pride and/or arrogance about the various issues that have generated multiple denominations.  As such this can also sometimes be witnessed in the way they word their sentences, when they seem to intend to say that they are the only ones who are saved and going to heaven.  They seem quick to imply that because someone does not believe the way that they do, that they must not be saved.
    Second, their actions seem to be indicative of "my way or the highway" thinking.  They seem to forget that whether we all worship under the same roof, that God has called us to unity, and has in fact united us through the Holy Spirit.  But if they were walking in the Holy Spirit, surely they would not be exclusionary, for the Holy Spirit's work in our lives (per Galatians 5) is found in love, peace, and patience.
    I would ask them to reconsider their thoughts.  If all are sinners (Romans 3) then it's possible that any one of us can be wrong at any time.  I say this to imply that they ought to not assume that they are always correct.  They should take the time to both try to prove and disprove their own beliefs using the Bible alone.  This is something that those who are described as "open minded" do.
    I do not imply, however, that being open minded means never knowing what you believe or always questioning.  There are those of the more liberal theological viewpoints who claim that seem to imply in discussion that those who are firm in what they think they believe are not "open minded" simply because they have already decided.  That is not so.  The goal in one's life is not to be open minded so much as it is to know the truth.  Open mindedness can help but eventually it leads to knowing the truth.  The jury may be out (open mindedness) but eventually it will reach a verdict (knowin the truth).

The Root Of The Problem

    The root of the problem is an attitude that your way, your tradition, is the only right way.  I don't see much (if any) scripture being used to prove the above points among Independent Baptist circles.  These are therefore not things that God wants but what man wants.  This is the problem the Pharisees had: adding to what God wanted and neglecting what He really wanted.  Jesus' most harsh words were against people who did such things.  I do not say that one should not test the spirits and know their Bible: these are both very good things and very essential in the Christian life.  However, be careful how far you go.  Don't go attacking what God didn't say we ought to attack.
    I would recommend to anyone: do not just absorb anything that is said In a pulpit, whether Independent Baptist or Charismatic: the Bible tells us to study to show ourselves approved unto God, workers who aren't ashamed because they can properly cut up the Word of God.  I've heard heresy both in Independent Baptist Churches and in Charismatic style churches.  No denomination I have found yet is free from error, and not due to God, but due to us.  We are human beings, and sinners by default.  Guard yourself against error, and know your Bible, but be careful before you attack someone else.
    I would also recommend that pastors within denominations stand up for the truth and not be afraid to correct someone who is out of order.  If you invite any guest speaker of any denomination and they speak anything from the pulpit that is incorrect, you must correct them.  This is your flock: don't let someone lead them astray just because they're a high ranking official within your denomination.  It is recorded that Paul corrected Peter at one point for his hypocrisy.  Of course, this is to be done in humility and love, not in a spirit of trying to prove that you are right.

Conclusion

    God is moving.  Get with the program.  The lost shouldn't have to trip over you to get to God.  Making man's preferences into God's rules only leads to divisions within the body of Christ.  Any such division is wrong.



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