Understanding the Mindset of IFBs

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Matthew G. Bianco, May 5, 2019.

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  1. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFBs) are fond of saying Calvinism is a “doctrine of devils” because it teaches strongly on repentance. Being once an IFB myself holding that same position, I can tell you exactly what is wrong with their thinking.


    It has to do with not allowing for proper soteriological category distinctions. That is, a thorough understanding of the distinctions made in Scripture between justification and the ongoing process of salvation (sanctification). They believe preaching on repentance is a form of works salvation.


    IFBs, as opposed to Reformed Baptists and Reformed Presbyterians, tend to lump together anything they may be wrongly perceive as “works-based theology” with the teachings of Rome. They look to the sacramental teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and its belief that one must be sanctified (made holy) through its various sacraments and confessions before being justified (counted as righteous) in the sight of God. This they wrongly compare to the Reformed position of Ordo Salutis (Order of Salvation) which brings forth the Scripture’s teaching of salvation plainly outlined in Romans 8:29-30.


    The church of Rome, historically and still in their catechism today, does not believe that justification is a one-time declaration of righteousness for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. However, we believe that this righteousness is not our own, but Christ’s own righteousness being imputed to us by reason of our faith (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 4). By this righteousness we are adopted as beloved children of God and will be with Him for eternity. But the process of salvation does not end there, but proceeds with sanctification and good works, which is evidenced by a heart of repentance from sin. Genuine faith produces genuine works (James 2). Faith and justification logically precede the process of sanctification for those the Father gave the Son before eternity. Those who die immediately after putting their faith in Christ therefore can be with God in eternity by means of faith, though God did not grant them a long time to be sanctified in this lifetime. Not everyone is sanctified at the same level, but those who are justified will in fact, due to the Spirit working in them, lead a life in subjection to Him. This is because we are made new in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). Rome, on the other hand, teaches that one must continue to be sanctified, thus “purgatory”, before being able to be in the presence of God.


    IFBs, due to their narrow traditions which don’t allow for category distinctions and meaningful discussion with other denominations, are incapable of seeing the difference between the Reformed position of sanctification and the Roman Catholic position of sanctification.


    It is important for us to understand their mindset so that we can rightly correct it and hopefully lead more to a Reformed and Biblical understanding of Scripture.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  2. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for your thoughts! I grew up in a similar group.

    Did you mean "precede" below? Just making sure I'm understanding correctly. :)

    The connection between Rome is interesting. Do you think it's helpful to summarize that while both groups conflate justification and sanctification, it's also accurate to say that Rome turns justification into sanctification while IFBs turn sanctification into justification?

    Again, thank you for your thoughts.
     
  3. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    So, in short, @Matthew G. Bianco, are you saying that the confusion arises because they do not understand the distinction between salvation in the broad and narrow sense? If so, I wonder what bearing that point has on recent debates in Reformed circles about salvation and good works?
     
  4. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    That is precisely what I am saying. As for what that means for Reformed circles, it is clear that the same understanding of such distinctions be applied as well.
     
  5. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, I meant precede. I’ll make that correction.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  6. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, I would say it appears that IFBs like to conflate sanctification into justification not only in order to attack the Reformed faith, but also to hold to an “easy-believism” and anti-Lordship view.
     
  7. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    *Moderating*
    Given that IFB soteriology is well outside our confessional standards, this thread appears to be a straw man argument, i.e. it brings up a position just to tear it down.
     
  8. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Matthew, as a Baptist, let me state that there is no one definition of an IFB or IFB church. IFB's tend toward your characterization but they are not monolithic. A think a better critique is of any theology that divorces repentance from the Ordo Salutis or places it after justification, making it only a part of progressive sanctification.
     
  9. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    Okay, my bad.
     
  10. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Matthew, it's OK. As a Baptist, I see flaws in the many different strains of Baptists. Confessional/Covenantal Baptists don't receive too many invitations to sit at the Baptist roundtable.
     
  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I believe it is fair to generalize concerning the beliefs of the IFBs. I grew up among them and I am suported by many of them.

    They are very focused on getting folks saved, but sometimes poor on the follow-up. Instead of slow gradual growth there is often a focus on a series of decisions (a decision to be saved, a decision to rededicate one's self to the Lord, a decision to enter the ministry, a decision to go into missions). To summarize, the Christian life would be a series of jumps forward rather than a slow steady advance.

    Every service will have at least some evangelistic focus, even if it is at the end of the service in the altar call. There is often strict expectations about lifestyle, especially in what one wears and whether one drinks/smokes.

    I try never to criticize fundamentalists because I've never met one yet who doubts the virgin birth or the resurrection or the Bible being the Word of God.

    On the whole if we were to take the IFB churches and line them up with all who use the name Presbyterian, I bet the IFBs are sending more folks to heaven. Liberalism don't grow too well on IFB soil.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  12. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Nowadays, I am much more reluctant to criticise "fundamentalists" than I used to be. If a secularist were to ask me to ask me if I was a fundamentalist, I would answer that while I have some significant disagreements with them, in the main we are in agreement. By "the main" I mean the inspiration of scripture, traditional morality, and many other things that Liberals despise. To be honest, I think that much of the zeal in Reformed circles to distance themselves from dispensationalism arise from an undue desire to appear intellectual and respectable and perhaps even to avoid persecution for the cross of Christ, as "fundamentalists" are often the ones whom the world mocks first.
     
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