For nearly two years I was hesitant on speaking up so precisely about the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement. I have been to many different IFB churches, have had friends in various IFB groups, and have seen enough to know that not all their pastors run their churches the same way. After 20/20 aired the stories of 3 victims from IFB churches, the message board forums for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses were in shock how how similar these 3 girls’ experiences were to their own. Even more alarming are the many other forums of ex-church goers from various denominations were saying the same things. It’s not just the IFB.
In fact, I’m not going to point my finger at denominations, because it has a lot more to do with WHO the pastor is than what the denomination is. However, some denominations seem to fester spiritual gangrene more than others. Any church can become cult-like. Any denomination can become a cult. Any religion can become a cult. All it takes is an outgoing leader who love bombs the people, praises them publicly, offers a rewards system within their group, and puts a measure of control on the people.
There’s an ongoing problem in Christianity today and we can’t keep our heads in the sand.
In the Old Testament we see the people insist on having a king “Give us a king!”, when God was wanting to be their King. Today’s Christianity shouts “Give us a pastor!” Once they appoint a pastor for themselves they shout to others, “You need a pastor! Get under a Pastor!”
The function of a pastor has been grossly misunderstood and has been created into a position to lord over the people for centuries.
Jesus clearly said in Matthew 20: 25But Jesus called them to him and said,“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26It shall not be so among you.”
The system that has been passed down through the ages and has infiltrated the minds of the people through fear is that they ‘need’ a man-pastor and a brick building in which to sit in and a day in which to go..or they will be cast off, cursed, and left drowning without God. This system is false.
God never intended that the gathering of believers and their gathering place would be the rescue boat. Jesus Christ is our rescuer.
Peter saw Jesus walking on water. Jesus wasn’t in the boat. If Peter wanted to walk with Jesus, he would need to jump ship and walk by faith in the Son of God.
I’m not opposed to people gathering together or their freedom to choose where they gather, but the mentality that enslaves people and keeps them bound in fear is an unhealthy state of mind that renders a person crippled to walk on water with Jesus.
Jesus Christ is our Authority, not the pastor. Among the brethren, we are equals in Christ.
Jesus not only challenged the system of his day, he openly rebuked it and brought in a new covenant. He would be our King and all humans were made equal.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The traditional role of the male and female system of his day was transformed. No longer could people lord over the people. It left the people vulnerable to abuse and oppression at the hands of the pastors.
It left the women vulnerable to abuse by the men.
When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about women being silent in the churches, it wasn’t because women weren’t allowed to speak. It was because the women were wildly out of control and they were usurping (taking by force) authority over the men.
Jesus said we are equal. So women who want to walk in the love of Christ will not take authority over anyone by force. Paul’s letter would have said the same thing about men being silent if they were exercising authority over the people as well.
If Paul were to write a letter to some of today’s churches it might look something like this, “You men, sit down and be quiet for once! Do not lord over the women and oppress them like that. We are equal in Christ. Esteem each other better than yourselves, for this is the way of Christ. Do not forget that the prophet Joel said that your sons AND daughters will prophesy. If you forbid women to speak at all, you may miss out on something important the Lord wants to tell you.”
It’s just like the Lord to send ‘the least of these’ to be a spokesperson to the proud.
Prophets were often sent to inform people in authority that they were headed for destruction.
Even Joseph was given prophesies to speak to his older brothers.
Women are equal in the kingdom of God. There is no gender to oppress over the other.
There is this place of mutual love and respect where we yield ourselves to one another.
But we aren’t to exercise authority over one another.
This place of equality is where we listen to one another, yield to one another, submit to one another. It goes both ways.
It’s not a one way street.
To walk in this kingdom is like a ballet, we dance in harmony because it’s love that binds us together.