Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Key Wrong Stand at the Key Wrong Time

As independent Baptists grew rapidly under the blessing of God, they formed careful alliances with Godly fundamentalist soul-winners from other groups that were not quite as conservative as they were.

At the same time, Bob Jones University was a large, successful, strongly fundamentalist institution with high academic standards. They taught and demanded strict loyalty and obedience from their students, and helped churches and evangelists with recommendations. Their graduates pastored a large number of fundamental churches, many of them independent Baptist. And the obedience of those graduates to BJU was fading.

BJU watched as their independent Baptist graduates fellowshipped with individual preachers from groups that BJU did not approve of. Already weak in doctrine, BJU couldn't compete with the powerful preaching and teaching of the independent Baptists, who were now starting to form their own colleges.

The fragile bonds that held fundamentalists together were growing stronger, while the powerful bonds that held BJU and its graduates together were growing weaker. And BJU decided to take its stand.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why Did God Do It?

I have three overlapping reasons why Ruckmanism spread so strongly among independent Baptists. God deprived their leaders of wisdom and He wanted to break the power that editors of their publications had over them. The third reason is going to take a while to explain.

During their heyday in the 1960's, independent Baptist leaders cautiously reached out to fellow Christians whom they disagreed with. They invited soul-winning, fundamentalist preachers from the Southern Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God, and others, to be friends. They printed their sermons, let them speak in independent Baptist churches, and spoke at Christian conferences with them.

Godly, soul-winning men had few problems with this. It was frightened, angry denominational leaders who fought this kind of Biblical fellowship. As a result, this unity was fragile and carefully-balanced.

All it would take was one key man, in a key position, saying the key words at the key time, to shatter this unity.

To be continued...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why Did God Do It? Part 2

Ruckmanism spread rapidly among independent Baptists, causing them to have a major decline. God caused it to happen, by depriving their leaders of wisdom. Why?

Independent Baptists are not supposed to have any human leaders higher than a local pastor. But over time, various publications emerged, usually controlled by Godly men, and independent Baptist churches urged their members to subscribe. The editors of these publications gained power that the churches never meant them to have.

Decades later, these publications had turned Ruckmanite, and large churches and their pastors found themselves being attacked in these publications if they would not obey the editors. Pastors who wanted to depart from man-made rules found their people reading publications attacking anyone who departed from the rules. Conferences and radio broadcasts played a smaller part, and overall, independent Baptists were steadily being put under the authority of leaders whom they did not elect, who ruled through the authority of unscriptural offices.

These publications kept up active spy networks, accusing various preachers who associated with Christians who would not obey the editors. Pastors who wanted to learn and grow from unapproved Christians had to do so secretly, or avoid doing so altogether.

Sick of the fighting, many churches joined the Southern Baptist Convention, many individuals left for other churches, and many independent Baptist churches avoided the title "Baptist" in order to get away from these editors. Keeping the Word of God without the man-made rules, they are generally doing well, while Ruckmanites continue to separate into steadily smaller, hostile groups.