A lot of the legalism that our church teaches is due to their understanding of "Holiness". Are they correct? Holiness is why we can’t wear shorts to church functions in summer. It’s why we can’t go to the movie theater. Why we can’t drink, smoke, have piercings or tattoos. Why we can’t listen to music with drums. How do you quantify holiness?
Some Anecdotal Evidence, For What it’s Worth
Here’s a collection of anecdotal evidence acquired over the years. The sum is worth more than the parts.
- We brought an unsaved friend to a church picnic where we knew salvation would be presented. Her 3 year old son started babbling, and she was shot some bad looks from some of the members, so she took him well out of ear-shot to a playground, and completely missed the message.
- Visitors were sitting behind us, guests of a couple that had been praying for years they would get in church. They had their daughter with them, who made a little noise, and one of the members turned around and said, "Hey, do you mind!" to the girl! Needless to say, we never saw that family again.
- In a discussion with another member, it came up that he had sent a letter to one of our friends, telling her how she would "never amount to anything for God."
- When a member of a church I used to go to told the pastor he would be going to a different church (which was also IFB!), the pastor said he was making a mistake and that God would not bless him. How would he know!
- When church members heard "through the grapevine" that we were thinking about moving, more than one asked my wife "how she could do that to her mom" and expressed doubt that it was God’s will. How would they know! Pastor also devoted 20 or so minutes of a sermon to something we said about this to him privately. We said we felt God leading us this way, but that He would have to sell our house first (which would be a miracle) and that would clearly be confirmation. Pastor twisted this into an illustration about a guy going into a car dealership and saying "If God approves my financing, then it’s his will that I get that Mercedes!" Among other things.
- When my wife and I had missed a few sunday school classes because we had just had a baby, pastor confronted my wife and wanted to know what was up. She told him, and he said that if the baby was keeping us from doing what God wanted, God might take the baby away.
Table of Beliefs
Just for fun, here’s a table contrasting traditional IFB stances with my stances that are developing as I pray and research.
|Issue||IFB Position||My Position|
|Alcohol||All Bad||Moderate alcohol okay|
|"White lies for truth"||The ends justify the means||Not permissible in service for Christ|
|Saying "Amen" in church||Mandatory||Personal Preference|
|Bible verses posted in yard and on car||optional, but desirable||Cheapens word of God|
|Altar calls for prayer||Necessary||Prayer from your seat is fine|
|Altar calls for salvation||Necessary||Undecided|
|Being "Undecided" on an issue||Bad||Permissible, honest|
|Church Attendance||Mandatory (kids may die if you don’t)||Good idea, but we are not enslaved to services|
|Going to theater||Never||Free to enjoy|
|Gambling||Gambling a sin||Destructive gambling a sin|
|Bible Versions||KJV Only||Some modern versions OK|
|Rules and laws||The more, the better||Freedom in Christ|