Insider Gone Rogue? On The Supposed NON-Network of the Fundamentalists in 20/20

Here’s a little bit of a lighthearted reality check. 

The fundamentalist NON-network is so obvious that I could dish this thing out without even having to go to the library or call conspiracy experts.

*David Gibbs, III is, last I heard, Chuck Phelps’ counsel. David Gibbs is the son of David Gibbs, Jr. who is a good personal friend of Jack Schaap, the creep highlighted on the 20/20 show yelling at women to stay as thin as they were when they got married. Jack Schaap is the son-in-law  of Jack Hyles and pastor of the infamous First Baptist Church of Hammond that still venerates the deceased heretic. John Vaughn is the president of the FBFI that, commendably, said about Jack Hyles in resolution,

 The FBF further encourages true Fundamentalists to have no company with Jack Hyles due to these divisive tactics and teachings. We further acknowledge that this unfortunate and disgraceful use of God’s Word is the expected and logical consequence of a long-standing pattern of arrogant and dictatorial demands for unquestioning loyalty to himself and his teachings, rather than to the Word of God. The FBF holds such teaching as evidence of a cultic mentality that claims the name of Fundamentalism while actually being a mere caricature of true Biblical Fundamentalism. (source)

Despite what the FBFI thought about having no company with Jack Hyles in 1995, John Vaughn had no problem having “company” with Jack Schaap  in 2010 (progress?) who deifies Jack Hyles and is every bit the heretical nutcase this father-in-law was, if not worse. This meeting was at Crown College where Clarence Sexton is pastor. Clarence Sexton was a featured speaker at the Bob Jones University Bible Conference just in 2009. At the same conference were featured speakers from Northland International University. Matt Olson is the president of Northland and the pastor to whom Chuck Phelps sent Tina Anderson (the young woman featured on ABC’s 20/20).  Chuck Phelps is a board member of Bob Jones University and also in 2003, I think, hosted the Annual FBFI meeting. Phelps took a brief hiatus of board member duties at Bob Jones University to be the president of Maranatha Baptist Bible College. One might be tempted to ask, “Why bother?”

Phelps was a keynote speaker at the Annual FBFI meeting in 2009 and the following year the Annual FBFI meeting was held in the very same church that Matt Olson pastored when Tina Anderson was there. Tina Anderson recently left Tri-City where the current pastor is on the board of the FBFI and the church is a supporter of the FBFI. Does anyone really wonder why Tina would want to leave?

Connections matter, my friends. I know whereof I speak.

I was born on the campus of BJU (literally), grew up listening to Jack Hyles, lived under the false teaching of Bill Gothard, went to Sword of the Lord Conferences, attended Northland, took a grad class at Maranatha, and was a member of the FBFI. I was even featured in the FBFI’s latest magazine celebrating 20 years of  writing on the issues alongside J.B. Williams (eulogized by an FBFI resolution as a great fundamentalist leader), Bob Jones III, and Arno Q. Weniger (former president of Maranatha Baptist Bible College where Chuck Phelps was later president). In this culture associations matter, particularly for negative labeling, but I demand some respect as an authority on issues within fundamentalism since I have been associated with the above leaders! :-)

I was, so to speak, a Pharisee of the Pharisees!
A couple of years ago, my grandmother was rewarded by Bob Jones University for having more descendants attend the university than any other family in the history of the school. When I was at Northland, Dr. Bob Jones Jr. was visiting for the first screening of a movie that they had partially filmed on the Northland campus. I was selected to be his personal valet, something I considered to be quite an honor. My personal interaction with Bob Jones, Jr. was always pleasant and lighthearted. He had the uncanny and commendable gift of remembering everybody’s name. Anyway, he asked me why I did not follow good family tradition by going to “the University.” Thinking about having been born on the campus, I said, “Well, Dr. Bob, the first time I showed up on campus I was buck naked. I’m too embarrassed to go back now. I’m afraid people would recognize me!” He laughed heartily and told me it was the best excuse he had ever heard. Bob Jones III asked me to tell that story when I spoke there in 2001. It was a chuckling matter, after all, since many people referred to Northland as “BJ North.”
I had spoken in the chapel services, special meetings, and conferences of most of these places before I was 32 years old:
  • West Coast Baptist Bible College (You’ll notice that at their big 25th Anniversary that Phelps’ attorney’s father, David Gibbs, is a featured speaker). In fact Gibbs is highlighted as a “great man” endorsing the school.  Featured music speakers at the same conference are the Hamiltons of Majesty Music, also featured at Jack Schaap’s church (the crazy featured on 20/20). My connection to WCBC was through John Goetsch, a graduate of Maranatha Baptist Bible College. Goetsch’s wife was a one-time member of the church where I pastored briefly, founded (I believe) by Clinton Branine (a Baptist World Mission board member and President of the KJV-only Indianapolis Baptist College for ten years, interviewed here by the extreme KJV-only David Cloud). Ralph Martin followed Branine at Memorial Baptist Church in Rockford, Il. Martin grew up in Richard V. Clearwaters’ church and attended the church’s seminary, Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Ralph Martin is also my father-in-law and was the Board President of Baptist World Mission when I joined the mission in 1991. Currently, the Executive Director of Baptist World Mission is Bud Steadman who is also on the Board of Bob Jones University and was honored by Ambassador Baptist College with a D.D.
(It will be of interest to outsiders that the Deputation Director of Baptist World Mission is Dave Canedy, a former pastor of Marquette Manor Baptist Church that was featured in the ABC 20/20 show. Canedy is a graduate of Bob Jones University and got an honorary doctorate from Maranatha Baptist Bible College. The former Executive Director of Baptist World Mission, Fred Moritz, is on the seminary faculty of Maranatha Baptist Bible College. He earned his B.A., M.Div., and D.Min. from Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and Bob Jones University respectively. Mortiz’s two works on separation were published by Bob Jones Press.)
Is your head spinning? Remember, I’m just giving a list of where I have personally spoken. Let’s continue.
When I joined Baptist World Mission, I was going to be a missionary with my friend, Torrey Jaspers, who recently was on staff at IBC which is the ministry of Tri-City where Tina Anderson was a member and where the pastor is a former student of BJU and Calvary Baptist Seminary (mentioned above). Oh, by the way, I have a relative on the board of IBC too! Pastor Sproul (Tina’s former pastor) is also a FBFI board member. Torrey is the brother of Dave Jaspers, the former president of Maranatha Baptist Bible College.
All those connections of mine. All those places I’ve been. Yet, I never felt like I stepped outside of the village, crossed the Rubicon, or stepped outside of fellowship until I chose to preach at a conference where a pastor from the heretical and compromised church that John MacArthur pastors was also a speaker!  That was an outside move, friends! There is definitely an inside/outside reality and it really isn’t about doctrine; it’s about connections. And until one of the “elders” has approved the cooperation, one runs the risk of being labeled a non-fundamentalist.
The president of the FBFI can preach with Schaap, but God forbid that we do anything with John MacArthur!
If you can’t understand that, hire David Gibbs (father or son). One would think they are the only lawyer fundamentalists are allowed to have.
Anyway, enough of my tongue-in-cheek, good-natured observations about the NON-network. I just have two simple observations that all human beings really should understand about this NON-network (or any NON-network such as this):
1. Inbreeding causes retardation.
2. Anyone familiar with the species called homo sapiens would be crazy to assume that there is no good old-boys-network. Just crazy.
*I originally incorrectly posted that I thought David Gibbs (the father) was Phelps’ attorney. I have been corrected. It is David Gibbs, III (the son) who is Phelps’ attorney. This doesn’t substantially change my point, but it is a clarification.
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44 Responses

  1. I am a 37 year old newborn. Not in the born again, saved by grace way, but I am free of my up-bringing in a IFB church and K-4 through 12 school, Pensacola Christian college student, and daughter of a IFB school teacher for 40+ years.
    I am now a meber of First Baptist Church of Freeport, under the teaching of Caleb Kolstad. I heard the word legalism for the first time in my life 2 years ago. The 20/20 episode was liberating and heartbreaking at the same time. I, like many others, was there. I agree with you about the the NON-network.
    Thank you for speaking the truth on this tabu subject.

  2. Bob, not only is John Vaughn President of the FBFI, Chuck Phelps is the Vice Chairman.

  3. “1. Inbreeding causes retardation.”

    Yes. :-(

    • Or, as Dr. Günther Salter used to say, getting an advanced degree at the place you got your undergrad degree is academic incest.

  4. If you lay down with dogs . . .

  5. Agreed, Jesus would be killed by fundamentalists if he was walking on earth today-a den of vipers.

  6. Yep, there’s really no network. Nothing to see here. Move along…


    It’s so bleeding obvious. It was even more so before about 1988-89. That year was the first time I heard anything about the Jack Hyles scandal, in a NT class. Before that point, I went to a school and church linked to Hyles and Trinity-Jacksonville, friends and I went to college at HAC, BJU, TTU, and Pensacola. Gibbs III’s school was competing at the same state competitions my school was. Yes, Fundamentalism is more fragmented now, but many of the old connections still exist in one form or another. So nice job on exposing the network that isn’t… Oh man, I can’t say that with a straight face.

  7. *lie? Whatever. Don’t get down with dogs . . . of either side of this issue. :)

  8. Oen of the big issues I think people are avoiding is THE DIVISIONS between the various camps.

    Gothard isn’t an IFB and her freely fellowships with, and partners with a boat load of Charismatics.

    MOST IFB’s decry Gothard, but some don’t.

    Ruckman’s group doesn’t major on dress standards and when you attend a church service at the church there in Pensacola, you’ll find plenty of women in pants and lots of makeup.

    Pensacola Christian College leaders dislike Ruckman and went to the extreme when Beka Horton reported Dr. Kent Hovind to the IRS which directly led to his being in prison as we speak.

    I could go on and on about the myth that all the churches and groups operate in concert with one another, because there are plenty examples of the division that exist within the IFB movement.

    But I’ll end with this one: Noted IFB author and missionary David Cloud has LONG been speaking out against the corruption in the IFB, especially the heresies of Jack Hyles.

    He’s also written and preached against the “touch not mine annointed” idea and debunked that (and man worship) at every turn.

    But yet, every IFB is tarred and feathered with the myth that they should all be reported to the FBI for being havens for child molesters.

    Come on folks. Don’t join the witch hunt.

  9. It’s true there are divisions but there are also many connections still among those divisions. It’s crazy!

    I was saturated with Gothard and his teachings, attended an IFB church & PCC and my family was involved with BRR (Westbranch). Dave Jaspers was not only a regular speaker but I think his family even stayed there during the summer (WONDERFUL people, btw). Bill Rice III was on the board of PCC while I attended there but his family (Sword of the Lord) has close connections (or did) with BJU and was a member of the IFB church I attended at one time (I have the greatest respect for the Rice’s). The pastor of that IFB church at the time is a ‘member’ of a very tight network of IFB churches in Oklahoma who started their own college, Heartland Baptist Bible College, after some issues with Baptist Bible College in Springfield concerning Separation. The current pastor of that church received an honorary doctorate from PCC in 2009.

    In spite of the division, these guys are still very connected, some of them just continue to play, ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ and keep the PR going while it seems a few of them can’t seem to think before they speak.

  10. I think it all depends upon how you look at this issue. If you look at it from within the BJU/NBBC/MBBC circle, then yes, there is definitely a connection within the group. Same goes for the HAC group or the Pensacola circle.
    This isn’t necessarily a bad thing per se. If an organization has a certain set of core values and culture, then it is going to look for people that easily fit within those values and culture.
    (Truth is, you will find some similarities with alumni groups from Harvard, MIT, or whatever state college.)

    On the other hand, if you look at the IFB another way you could say there isn’t a connection. In other words, I really don’t think HAC cares all that much what BJU thinks. I’m certain that Faith BC in Ankeny, IA doesn’t jump whenever Beka Horton says so. I’m 99% sure that Northland isn’t too concerned with what West Coast BC or Fairhaven does.

    True, there maybe some overlap with the organizations and groups mentioned here, but the point is that when taking a look at this issue of whether there is a NON-network within the IFB, I think it is just a matter of how you look at it.

  11. People network. Carson, Keller, Mahaney, Dever, Duncan, Sproul isn’t an ad hoc network?

    Now it may not be as watchdoggy about other associations, and they may admit it’s a (loose) network, but I don’t think a network has to result in inbreeding.

  12. I, of course, have no problem with networking per se. That’s hardly my point. My point is that some fundamentalists right now are trying to make as if they are hardly even a network.

    The point that I wanted to make is setting in on a number of people already. I’ve already received a number of emails from pastors who are seeing the interconnectedness for the first time and are not too happy about it.

    Do I think that the TGC and the T4G could become a good old boys club? Of course. It would be a little more difficult for them because they don’t have a good scare tactic like “separation” to help it along. But winking networks develop everywhere.

    • If by “network” you mean (A) “an interconnected group or system,” then I agree with you. Yes, I too have no problem with networking per se.

      But if, like JZ, by “network” you mean (B) “a diabolical and devious partnership of egotistical and manipulative predatory dictators,” then I disagree.

      Bob, I think your “lighthearted reality check” described (A). But JZ is praising you for proclaiming (B). All she sees is (B) and she refuses any other definition.

      I’m interested in seeing you clarify what you meant. I’ve read your work on “Unity vs. Unanimity,” so I know you don’t accept that everyone within the IFB believes the same way (regardless of networking). Perhaps you could elaborate?

      Can’t wait for the whimsical sequel.

  13. @d4v34x, don’t they sort of admit that they’re a network?

    Bob, I was at MBBC when you preached there: “Enthusiasm! Enthusiasm! Enthusiasm!”

    • I heard Bob give that same message in France!

    • Awesome…

      “A man becomes preeminent, he’s expected to have enthusiasms. Enthusiasms, enthusiasms… What are mine? What draws my admiration? What is that which gives me joy? Baseball! A man stands alone at the plate. This is the time for what? For individual achievement. There he stands alone. But in the field, what? Part of a team. Teamwork… Looks, throws, catches, hustles. Part of one big team. Bats himself the live-long day, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and so on. If his team don’t field… what is he? You follow me? No one. Sunny day, the stands are full of fans. What does he have to say? I’m goin’ out there for myself. But… I get nowhere unless the team wins”

      - Al Capone in “The Untouchables”

      Oh…the irony

  14. I’m not trying to deny interconnectedness. I was getting at, as you (Bob) point out, the culture of a network being the key to its health.

  15. Bob,
    I am glad you took the time to write this down. A few of us offline talked about this…the connections are there.

    I remember when the Bob Gray mess broke. At the time I thought, “wow, I am glad that was not OUR group.” In my mind at the the time “OUR” would have been N’land, BJ, MBBC, CCC and PBBC.” Well this lastest is “OUR” group.
    Beyond that, you mentioned the crossing of groups – not a bad thing per se. But, like you said here and Doran has said elsewhere, why is it ok to cross over on the “right” but not the “left?” Or, more accurately, Vaughn and Scrhock preach with Schaap, but Doran and Bauder with Dever and you with someone from GCC, that’s wrong? That anyone would associate with the nut and heratic Schaap, is beyond me!

    I have sinced learned what I should have learned all along. I am going to live for God’s glory and not live in fear of man, network or otherwise.

  16. Excellent post as usual Bob. Being a former IFB missionary, I am familiar with the network that exists. I played this to my advantage while on deputation. Dropping certain names of people I knew and who knew me helped to “get meetings” and raise support. In fact, I found that BWM was well received across “party lines” i.e. BJ churches liked BWM missionaries, and many KJVO churches like BWM missionaries.

  17. It can’t plausibly be denied that there is a network. The more important question, though, is what obligations does that network imply? If person A in the network misbehaves, does person B in the network have an obligation to reprimand him? Publicly? Privately? To distance himself? To “separate”? To blacklist? The network question isn’t a yes/no question; it’s a what kind and what does that mean question.

    • I think if one was being perfectly honest, they’d have to admit that there isn’t just one sort of shadow network behind every IFB pulling some kind of conspiracy string.

      If you want to argue that BJU controls all of it’s graduates, ok fine. Maybe they do somehow and I just don’t know about it.

      But HOW do they control all of it’s graduates who are preachers now? How do they force all the BJU IFB’s to allegedly become havens for child molesters as one certain person is alleging?

      Ok, now let’s be real. The point is that while yes of course like minded people do network and fellowship, there isn’t some kind of grievous puppet master behind every BJU grad who now pastors.

      All that having been said, when I was IFB, I didn’t really care for the BJU folks. They had a superior attitude and quite frankly it was completely uncalled for. I found the pastors that were BJU trained to do a lot of “take one word out of a verse and preach on that word regardless of context” types. Tom Farrell being a prime example.

      However, I also found that to be true of pastors trained at Tennessee Temple.

      Ruckman trained pastors were better expository preachers, but they seem to carry some of that dispisationalism off the deep end.They have a few other freaky beliefs as well. And it can’t be argued that Ruckman controls the men who come out of his schools, because I’ve known of quite a few that retained their fellowship with Ruckman’s former assistant pastor when he split from Ruckman.

      So here we are, faced with the fact that there are deep division within Independent Baptist fundamentalism.

      And here is may take on abuse issues within the church, whether IFB or Catholic, or what have you: If you suspect or know of abuse, report it, period.

  18. Well said Bob.

    Some personal observations:

    1. Although I haven’t spoke at all those places, I have been to just about all of them for a service/competition/schooling at some point. After graduation, I used to be bitter that I could not break into the network to get a ministry position because I did not know the right people. As a matter of fact, I used to say to myself, “its not what you know but who you know.”

    2. So thankful I submitted to God’s desires and He spared me from getting in too deep.

    3. 6 degrees of separation–we are all connected…right?

  19. “My point is that some fundamentalists right now are trying to make as if they are hardly even a network.”

    And that is a very good point. It’s embarrasing when some try to deny something this obvious.

    Beyond the folly of attempting to deny the existence of a network is the offense of those who (A) act like there isn’t anything someone on the evangelical network can do that is beyond the need to “mark” and “avoid” and be cautious about (the Doctrine of Separation) while at the same time claiming (B) “Well, there’s nothing I need to do about that fundamentalist, we’re independent of one another.”

  20. hey, bob. remember that thread on FB when you said you were glad you’d already been officially ruled an “insider,” and i said there are always going to be those who still think of you as an insider because you’re not (never will be) outside *enough* for them? =} look around the web right now, or your inbox, to learn how good it’s been for them to see how this 20/20 expose has convinced you at last and emboldened you to begin your own “exodus” from The IFB Cult. =} told ya so!

    i know you’re trying to point out that connections and labels and associations matter–and i’m not saying they don’t. i’m just saying (what i mostly learned from you about accepting labels but with caveats), that our self-identifications and associations are always going to be relative designations because we’re all prone to make hypocritical or at least comparative determinations in viewing ourselves and others.

    this “network” vs. “non-network” debate is a wearying load of bunk, and unintentionally detracts, i really believe, from the ultimate crises, rather than serving victims and stopping perpetrators. the assertion that everyone’s involved somehow is an assertion too easy to dismiss as overstatement. networks, schmetworks. trying to figure out what percentage of the so-called “network” evolved, vs. what percentage of it was manipulated into existence, vs. what percentage was mis-used once it existed–it’s a vain pursuit. that people have been suffering under or hiding from or abusing one another or ignoring one another WITHIN the BODY of Christ–that’s the real travesty here.

    when i was in college, i viewed the small-worldness of everything as both a natural and providential blessing. of course we knew people. if we’d gone to christian high schools, we’d competed against some of our same-state classmates already in sports or scholastics or fine arts–old rivals turned friends–not necessarily politicking. some of our parents attended there before us, so we got to know their kids–not necessarily sinister. the circles grew the longer we were there, as we met new friends during new activities and contexts, who introduced us to their own circles of friends and campus mentors and class groups and local church assemblies, etc.–not necessarily conspiratorial, or even intentional for that matter!

    of course, because we’re human-sinners, there was always the desire to be big fish in a small pond, the standard attempts to people-please, to be well-liked, to stay on people’s good sides, and to climb the social ladder of being known far and wide (even in your tiny sectarian reservoir)! but that’s kind of a universal problem that occurs in all kinds of secular contexts too–not just in small [denomination-acting] “independent” churches and schools. the so-called network exists, sure–but it certainly extends beyond the measly IFB and IFB-offshoots and IFB-ex-cons and IFB-escapees. that broadness is clearly demonstrated by facebook and the conversations going on right now between people who fall all over the spectrum ranging from extreme fundaMENTAList to “officially outside” (for the moment) outsiders. the so-called network exists, but it didn’t come about solely by the verb “networking,” and not always as a means of covering each others’ tails, not always from mining for personal gain. the connectivity was something that’s bound to happen when you pool a lot of people together from similarly-minded churches from all over the country and then send out graduates to similarly-minded places all over too. connections (even uncanny, possibly God-engineered connections) were bound to abound, and it didn’t bother us. back then, the interconnectivity didn’t necessarily come off as twisted nepotism or denominational incest–often, because it wasn’t!

    i don’t think a “network” should get the credit for stuff it truly didn’t control. whenever i benefited from a mysterious blessing out of the blue (a sudden job offer from a friend of a friend, mysterious provision for a financial need, opportunely-timed recommendation or introduction), i may’ve said “small world,” or even “it really is a network.” but it was actually a point of rejoicing, chalked up to “an answer to prayer” or “a God thing.” not that i failed to see the human hands involved but that i acknowledged that they were only used as tools. many of those things are things that i would like to believe God really was responsible for–heaven forbid!

    i’m personally profoundly thankful for the interconnectedness i found through some of “those networking” in “the cult” of IFB-ish churches. i never would’ve met you or many of my friends if it hadn’t been for providential connectivity. it was in “those circles” that i first began to get a sense that we were seeing a microcosm of the macrocosm–being in a nominally! non-denominational school wasn’t perfect (still primarily Baptistic, arminian, super-sectarian rather than necessarily separating in the biblical sense of “unto the Gospel”), but it did open my eyes to a slightly-larger segment of Christ’s Body, which in turn opened my eyes to more and more groups. even then, it bothered me that in “my” circles, there was so much sectarianism and small-MINDedness about the BODY of Christ (“Baptist Briders” vs. the regular wedding attendees in heaven, etc.). BUT the idea of networking seemed not malicious or self-aggrandizing but rather a foretaste of the family connectedness we’ll enjoy in heaven when the sin issues that divide us are eradicated and our relationships with fellow-Body-parts are perfected.

    granted, the inbreeding politicking DOES occur far too frequently, but to view anyone and everyone remotely affiliated with IFB connections as bound into a singular IFB and thus needing to be sprung from cult enthrallment manifests a small view of God and of union in His Body. to refer haphazardly to all interconnectedness as abuse-perpetuating or proof of cult tendencies is not valid. it’s a natural sociological phenomenon that the interconnectedness occurs, and it’s a natural spiritual phenomenon that we feel a certain kinship with believers wherever we are. it’s broadbrushing to assume ALL evidences of a “network” was evidence of cultish in-breeding necessarily. it’s preposterous to posit that all the relationships forged between christian leaders and our college buddies resulted because of conspiracy-driven or politics-driven motives. it’s redactive rewriting of history to go back and impose our own views upon what really happened.

    it’s a mistake to propagate the belief that “providential coincidences” were all the devisings of an intricately-woven network designed to cover up corruption. i think it’s a mistake to fight back by razing and disassociating with ALL entities remotely associated with IFB because they’re all either duped, oppressed, or wickedness personified. it diminishes, rather than enforces, the idea of keeping the main point the main point. we have to watch what we’re tempted to grieve over. we shouldn’t be grieving over personalities and pedestals and politics here.

    who cares? what’s the true significance of whether it’s a network at all? so IFBFellowshippers enjoy the benefits of a small denomination without wanting to call themselves one–so what? they’ve done that for years. and so people want to call them on it–and say it’s a non-network network. fine, call them on it. whether the choice to act like a small denomination or not is misguided or not, whether they’re missing out or not, whether it’s semantics and slightly self-contradictory or not, is besides the point–because being a small denomination (whether it’s nominally not, or not) ISN’T inherently the problem, never has been. it’s adiaphora in the end.

    again–can we please get back to the point? trying to figure out what percentage of the so-called “network” evolved, vs. what percentage of it was manipulated into existence, vs. what percentage was mis-used once it existed–it’s a vain pursuit. again, that people have been suffering under or hiding from or abusing one another or ignoring one another WITHIN the BODY of Christ–that’s the real travesty here.

    • I don’t think Bixby would deny what you are saying, that is, that the real issue is the various levels of abuse that seem to happen all too often within the IFB movement. I’m sure he would agree with you.

      I think he was just trying to illustrate how tightly interwoven a certain circle is and that in one sense we cannot have a knee-jerk response that there is not a connection between IFB people. I found it to be an interesting read and he brings up some reasonable points. I will say that this “network” shouldn’t surprise anyone so what Bixby is saying about this network in a general sense isn’t new news. However, when he outlined it like he did it definitely was interesting to see how those connections played out in real life.

      There is a difference between “broadbrushing” in a tongue-in-cheek method for illustration purposes and basically claiming there is a secret Illuminiti group made up of the devilish, diabolical, & manipulative triad of Jones, Schaap, & Horton who issue edicts from on high based on their whims and unstable delight of abusing people. Bixby does the first very well. Another person does the latter very well. One makes sense and is reasonable and the other is borderline paranoid.

      But again, the bottom line issue is the various kinds of abuse that are present in the IFB movement and what we need to do about it.

    • Joy,

      Way too much theology in your post. It will be a cold day in $#@@ when I let a woman teach me theology!

  21. lol–big typo on my part:

    you said you were glad you’d already been officially ruled an “insider,”
    you said you were glad you’d already been officially ruled an “OUTsider,”

  22. Joy, I so wish you would blog again. :) Your writing has always blessed me, and continues to do so.

  23. Hi, “Bond.” I get it–and you don’t have to explain what “Bixby” is trying to communicate. He knows me well, and we’re good. =}

    His post, however, is a responsive post, and I believe it should be understood within that context–as one response to many opinions that are currently being expressed on the web. He is responding to assertions that have been made–about networks vs. independent entities and individuals–in a greater conversation beyond this blog. I’m responding as well (I think he knows this) to that broader conversation and to other writers, because I do think it’s very easy to go into caricature-fighting mode (like those games where you and your opponent’s hands control these larger plastic boxer guys who actually fight each other).

    We (meaning, those of us who get wrapped up in conversations like this) can have a tendency to construct these exaggerated personas around each other’s views and then we call upon the caricatures to box each other into a corner. We end up not even fighting about real, primary issues (in this case the Body-hurting and Body-corruption), but about secondary issues, twice- or thrice-removed (like is he really “out” of fundy-land just because he plays Getty and Green music in his church–after all, he came IFB and Gothard roots and doesn’t like MY music choices, so maybe he’s IFB after all)?

    Sides should not be taken over who’s in/out (by self- or others’-definition) of whatever circles, or over what even constitutes a network “affiliation” vs. a “cult.”

    As you noted, I’m mostly in agreement with Bob (pretty sure he knows this). I’m just suggesting to everyone within the larger context that maybe now could we just drop the network vs. non-network debate. Just suggesting let’s please take a new tack, mainly one that is less distracting and more encouraging people to focus on the primary grievances rather than secondary allegiances (which are so difficult to navigate divorced from semantics-/emotion-driven motives).

    naah. there’re only a couple things that merit re-entry to *this* particular kind of conversation. and even then, i truly esteem others i know as better re-enterers than i for the task. i do hope to keep writing. but my very-brief stint with SI cured me of any inclination i may’ve once felt for arguing with The Big-[ego'd?] Boys. =}

    • I agree with you absolutely that we need to keep the main thing the main thing. However, if we want to fully understand how the main thing got to be the main thing (the abuse issue), then isn’t it good to take a look at the relationships and networks that have naturally developed that may have contributed to the main thing as well?

      Wasn’t aware of your familiarity with Bixby. Hope I didn’t come across as critical of you. Just a couple friends talking over some coffee. :-)!

      BTW, Jen is right, you should blog.

      • “Just suggesting let’s please take a new tack, mainly one that is less distracting and more encouraging people to focus on the primary grievances rather than secondary allegiances . . .”

        Joy, my only pushback is that sometimes the denial of the network and the Cain-and-Pilate-esque hand-washing that implicitly accompanies it is a primary grievance, particularly when it’s married to a hypocritical assault on those whose hands are holding hands with those who are holding hands with . . . etc . . . some pariah.

  24. Crucial to the convo, Bond, is that my coffee was ill-made this morning, and I’ve got to get back to work.

    Light-shedding background info:

    I’ve blogged since April 2003, off and on, but have repeatedly become disillusioned with it as I see it often used in “my” circles. =} Mostly, I’m prevented (and not always unhappily so), by life issues.

    Bob’s pretty much my non-bio big brother. Was my pastor for 8+ years. He’s suffered long (not just with my stylistic and logical flaws) and knows better than most why, if I were to start blogging regularly again, it should probably not be in this vein. I tend not to like who I can become or how consumed I can get when debating the kind of nuances and exaggerations that tend to faction off believers. I know there’s redemptive value–it’s just hard for me to ferret it out when time and other resources seem to fall so short. Let’s just say that for me, I can’t seem to spare the kind of brain cells necessary for this sort of activity.

  25. Also, I’m claiming the lack of good coffee as additional excuse for the excessive use of “tend” above. Just trying to underscore why I’m not the one to be writing on this stuff. =}

  26. I’m a little dizzy after all of that, Bob, but are you conflating Tri-City Baptist Church in Chandler, AZ and Tri-City Baptist Church in Westminster, CO?

  27. I am praying for you. You do not realize how much harm you are causing by claiming “freedom” when your posts are filled with bitterness. I am not mad or angry towards you or your family. I pray that God heals your soul and shows you His power and how He can transform your life, just like he has mine. It is not a church or leaving a church that heals, it is GOD! Your problems will follow you, until you deal with the pain life brings God’s way.

    • Allison,
      I’m a bit confused by your post. Who is it directed toward? Who is “bitter?”

      All the best,

  28. @ Joy, I know we’ve had this conversation, but since you directed me here and I’m writing about that-which-you-don’t-want-named…:-)

    The very reason I so badly want the network to be acknowledged is to erase those lines, and allow the fish-caught-in-the-net to swim freely in the ocean again. I’m not putting people in groups, I’m pointing out the *already-existing* groups. By all means, let us be the Body! I’d shout it if it didn’t look angry in all caps. :-)

    So we agree on outcome, no? So you keep pointing out the goal, and I’ll keep pointing out the goal, and we use our different passions/styles to advance the kingdom.

  29. Letter from Paul to First Baptist at Rome written while at First Baptist at Corinth. The letter mentions by name 26 people at a church which he had not visited.

    Was there a network in the first century sure to the extent that they shared the common bond of Christ.

    Did people move in circles from one church to another- yup

    Did the churches operate autonomously- yes

    Did spiritual leaders call out others at other churches who were erring from the faith- yes

    I think that if you put this discussion in the context of the first century church it would come across as rather odd.

    As a young pastor did Timothy have connections in landing his position in Ephesus- yes

    The issue of who is on the inside and who is on the outside has been discussed since at least the time that Paul and Barnabas split up.

    There is nothing new here.

    • Jayson,

      Your right, nothing new, but I don’t think the point of Bob’s post is to suggest there shouldn’t be a network. There has been, is, and always will be. While I can’t speak for Bob, I think his point is to demonstrate that there very much is a network, in spite of the fact that some in the network deny the network they are indeed a part of it. In addition, there are risks when the network is inappropriately limited. That’s all.

      All the best,

    • Jayson,

      I think you’re missing my point. Of course, there’s networking. That’s not the issue. But you’re right to think that this conversation would seem rather odd in the context of the first century church because it wouldn’t have been a sectarian networking like the one that I illustrated above.

    • Yes, of course, there was networking in the early church.

      But, I am uncomfortable with the sense that Timothy’s connections were instrumental in his landing a position of spiritual leadership.

      I would like to think that he was deemed a qualified, capable man within the Body of Christ and, on that basis he and other such men were being recommended for positions because of their God-given abilities. Obviously, then and now, one must know a man and his reputation before he recommends the man to others.

      The networks that have developed today are often centered around a strong personality and/or institution. These often develop into destructive forms of networking. There were destructive networks in the early church as was noted by Paul in I Cor. 1, “there are contentions among you…I am of Paul; and I of Apollos…Is Christ divided?”

      Networking becomes destructive to the Church when leaders view the Christianity and the Gospel as things to be branded, franchised, and niche marketed in an effort to promote one’s school or ministry. The emphasis of their ministries turns from preaching the Gospel to expanding their power, marketing themselves, and defending their group’s institutions and its leaders.

      Jeremiah wrote about members of the network in his day in ch. 5: “They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”

      The Lord condemned this type of networking in Ezekiel 22, “There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof…they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things…Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.”

      It seems there are good and bad examples of networking. Networking itself is morally neutral. The scandals that have surfaced within the IFB network indicate that the members of the network need to constantly be vigilant and police the members within the network.

      If pastors and laymen within the IFB network don’t pause and take stock, the IFB movement will end up in the dustbin of church history, right along with the denominations from which many of them sought independence.

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