Catholic Influence on Modern Bible Versions – Concerns from a Former Catholic Turned IFB

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The following is the transcript of an email exchange from a person writing to express his concerns about an alleged Roman Catholic influence on the modern Bible versions. I’m not sure if his argument holds any credibility because he declined to discuss it, but it does raise some valid concerns. I wish he had continued the discussion so I could discern if his concerns are legitimate or simply a matter of IFB influence (the IFB are HUGE skeptics of modern versions and maintain this idea that the Roman Catholic influence has tainted them).

KJV discussion with Lee

Lee’s original message:

Hi Steve,

I just hit upon your site. I relate quite strongly to much of your story although I was raised Catholic and not IFB. I dumped the Catholic Church in my 20’s and went agnostic for many years; it seemed to be the only intellectually honest position to have. Eventually I made a decision to commit to Protestant Christianity because the basics of Christianity (albiet Catholic junk)were in me. I had arrived at a point in my life where, out of desperation, I needed spiritual help. So, I made the decision and off to a Bible store I went. What I found set the course of my study for some years.

My intent in getting a Bible was to study the Word of God; to learn all I could and trust that I was reading “THE Word of God. Well…WOW….look at all the versions!!! Which one is “the” Bible? Since that time, years ago, I have learned quite a lot about how different versions came to be and the differences thereof. The bottom line I want to offer as comment is that one main influence on translations and textual sources for the New Testament is the Roman Catholic Church. Being raised and schooled in Catholic doctrine and practice it’s pretty easy for me to see the bias that pleases Rome. I am not a “KJV only” fanatic. At the “street level” any Bible that brings a person to Jesus has great value and worth. At the “spiritual level” I do not trust the Bibles other than the KJV because I do not trust the likes of Westcott and Hort and the Catholic Church which has been an influence in all English translations beginning with the 1881 revised Version. One does not have to read Greek to see the results of 1881 and later versions and contrast them to the changing morality and desires of society and the goals of the Catholic Church. Bible version competition is complex, and has led to confusion and intellectual battles. All new versions either praise the KJV or slam the KJV. They don’t slam each other.(That’s a hmmmm). It’s obviously a war against the KJV vs the line of versions growing out of Westcott and Hort’s use of the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. I have learned you have to “trust” once again after the trauma of being betrayed as a trusting young person, and let your ego give in to the spiritual.

WOW…I guess I got on a roll. :-)

My Reply:

Hi Lee,

Thanks for your interest in my site and for your message. It just so happens that I’m currently in the middle of debates with two other people about the same topic. This is certainly an important issue and shouldn’t be ignored.

I’m curious to know from you, though, where did you get the ideas that “one main influence on translations and textual sources for the New Testament is the Roman Catholic Church” and “the likes of Westcott and Hort and the Catholic Church…has been an influence in all English translations beginning with the 1881 revised Version”? I’ve never heard those things before.

Also, I’m not sure I can agree with your statement “All new versions either praise the KJV or slam the KJV. They don’t slam each other.” That seems to be an extreme claim to knowledge. Where did you get that information?

I’m certainly open to obtaining new knowledge and reevaluating my position as needed, but I need something more substantial than opinion and hearsay.

Just so you know, this isn’t an issue of “ego” for me and I resent the implications. This is about fighting for truth and fighting against abusive beliefs and religious practices.

Finally, you’ve warned me about not allowing my experiences to influence me, but are you sure you aren’t doing the same thing? It seems by what you wrote that you are strangely aversive to anything that even hints of Catholicism because of your experiences. Just a thought.

Thanks again and I look forward to any other information that you can provide to verify your claims.


Lee Wrote Back:

Hi Steve,

I can’t say this another way than to be direct. It sounds to me that you would benefit from some study of Westcott and Hort and their introduction of different Greek Textual sources than those of the KJV that they were to revise. It’s an interesting study and would be quite enlightening regarding the issue of Catholic influence in textual sources for New Testament translation. Because you say you have not heard of those things before I will leave what I said to be all I will say except to offer these comments……….. I would suggest you read “An Understandable History of the Bible”, by Sam Gipp, or other books on the subject of the history of the Bible. Do you know who Origen was and what allegorical translation means?.., or the differences in the Greek textual sources used by Bible translators after 1881 (with the exception of NKJV). Do you know what the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are?..Are you intimately familiar with the Roman Catholic Church doctrines and that it has declared the doctrines of Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura as anathema? Have you looked into who the members of translation committees’ are for various translations (where you will find Catholic representation participating in a Protestant Bible translation). Have you reviewed each and every change made by translators led by Westcott and Hort from the KJV to the RV of 1881? I think these things would provide something more substantial than what you may call opinion and heresay.

If I offended you, as you said you “resent the implications thereof”, I apologize. I intended no insult.I sense that you took my email as hostile to you…..I can’t help that and it was certainly not my intent. I was motivated by what I sensed as some similarity in our backgrounds which was trust being damaged from early religious influences. Yours from Baptist folks and mine from Catholic. I guess that didn’t come across well. Guess you didn’t like what I said. Sounds to me like I really hit some buttons in you. :-)

I make no bones about how I regard the Roman Catholic Church but that does not mean I do not see and love the good things done by Catholic persons. Most Catholics don’t really know much about Roman Catholic Doctrines, Canon Law, or the Bible, any more than most Protestant Christians know about the Bible. The bible says “Spiritual things are to be discerned spiritually”. Unfortunately, as humans we try to intellectualize and quantify such things and this so often leads to “heated debates”. Such activity usually blocks the gift of the Holy Spirit from working well in us.

God bless


My Response:

Hi Lee,

I wasn’t offended nor did I take your message as hostile. My writing style is very straightforward and I don’t sugar coat things. That often comes across to people as angry or defensive, but it’s just the way I communicate in writing. Trust me you aren’t the first person to write to me to try to get me to
see things differently. My buttons have been pushed many times and I’ve grown accustomed to attacks and assumptions. It no longer bothers me. I’m only interested in the truth. As I’ve said before I don’t know everything so if someone can shed new light on a particular topic that’s great! I’m more than willing to assimilate new information.

I don’t mind people writing and trying to engaging me in open dialogue or discussions. In fact I thoroughly enjoy it and I wish people would do that more often. I never claim to know it all and since I don’t have a Catholic background I am truly interested in your perspective.

Having said that… In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve done quite extensive research on this topic. You’ll find a list of some of my references at the end of my article KJV Only Deception. While I appreciate your concern for my knowledge and for pointing to more resources, you didn’t answer my question. Where did you get the ideas that “one main influence on translations and textual sources for the New Testament is the Roman Catholic Church” and ? I’m concerned about what’s influencing your beliefs and decisions about this topic. My gut feeling was that it this information is coming from the fundamentalist camps.

Unfortunately my concerns seem to be at least somewhat validated. After your original message I did some more research and it appears that the only people worried about a Catholic influence are the KJV only advocates. They appear to be using that as some sort of platform to advance their agenda. If they can get people to believe that all versions of the bible other than the KJV are influenced by the Catholic Church and as such somehow tainted, then of course that would be cause for concern and caution and would play right into their KJV only dogma.

My suspicions are probably accurate if you are getting your information about Bible translations from the likes of Sam Gipp and his ilk. He’s a notorious fundamentalist and his research is influenced by his extremely conservative and fundamental beliefs. I would strongly caution you about buying into anything that he says. I would hate for you to get caught up in the fundamentalist camps especially after coming out of Catholicism.

Many translation committees for bibles other than the KJV had a wide variety of different denominations and perspectives present and they did that on purpose to ensure a wide range of textual criticism. I see that as a good thing since the goal was to make sure that the translations are an accurate reflection of the original autographs. It’s critical to have such a wide range of perspectives since there is so much information and influence in the translation debate. Comparison and contrast of differences, contradictions and dissimilarities is critical in order to find out what the original manuscripts contained. This type of comparison and contrast can only be done in an atmosphere of cooperation from all perspectives – yes, including Catholicism (despite your misgivings). To me this makes the translations such as the NIV and NLT much more reliable and trustworthy since no one perspective is more influential than others.

Finally, I didn’t find anything in the Bible that states “Spiritual things are to be discerned spiritually”. Where is that in the Bible?

I think you’re referencing I Corinthians 2:13-14??? I’m not sure, but if so this passage is a contrast between believer and unbeliever. It’s not an admonition to refrain from using intellect and reason. In fact intellect and reason and logic can play a very important role in spirituality. God gave us minds to reason with and think things through so we aren’t lead astray. We are to use discernment to see if what we are being taught is truth – see 1 John 4:1, and the Bereans in Acts 17. I’d also encourage you to read D. A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies and my personal favorite Love Your God with all Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul by J. P. Moreland.

Thanks again and I’m looking forward to more dialogue if you’re so inclined.


Lee’s Reply:

Not inclined…bye

So unfortunately due to Lee’s abrupt end to the conversation I guess we’ll never know what his thoughts really are, but I think this can serve as a good example of the dangers of following the likes of Sam Gipp and his ilk. Lee doesn’t even realize that he went from being captive by Catholicism’s legalistic salvation to the IFB’s legalistic righteousness. How unfortunate. I certainly hope that Lee might see this and re-engage in the discussion or maybe someone else could pick up where Lee left off.

You Might Be an Independent Fundamental Baptist if…

you might be an independent fundamental baptist if...My writing tends to be somewhat heavy and serious so every once in a while I like to add some humor to lighten things up a bit.  Please don’t mistake this for a lack of respect or an attempt to minimize the seriousness of the abuse that happens among the Independent Fundamental Bapitsts.  This is simply an attempt to bring some humor to the blog for the reader’s enjoyment.

Inspired by Jeff Foxworthy’s You Might Be A Redneck If… I came up with a similar list of items for the IFB.  See if you recognize any.  If you have others please feel free to share in the comments section… Continue reading You Might Be an Independent Fundamental Baptist if…

Joe Lusk Deception – ‘Independent’ Deception Revisited

Joe Lusk (AKA JJ Lusk), associate pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church, recently came to the site to comment and attack us for speaking out against the Independent nature of the Independent Fundamental Baptists. Attempts to engage him in discussions failed so the next step is to reply publicly in this format. I don’t really care at this point if he returns to have a discussion. I’m writing this because I want to make it known that those who come here to voice their disagreement and then run off and hide, refusing to engage in dialogue will be called out. These types of intimidation tactics will not go unanswered.

Below you will find Joe’s comments and my rebuttals broken down into an easier to follow format. Continue reading Joe Lusk Deception – ‘Independent’ Deception Revisited

Tithe 10% or Punishment, Your Choice

I received an email recently from a site visitor who had some questions about the IFB’s teaching on Tithing and I wanted to address the questions and answer them on the site for all to read. Thanks for the great question!!!  Please find the message below along with my reply:

Hello Friend. I love your website….it has helped me so much I can’t even begin to tell you. Your articles on tithing are very informative. Do you go to church now? Are there churches that don’t teach tithing? It seems that every time I visit a church I feel let down because of the tithing issue. It isn’t that I don’t want to give…I do. I consider myself generous. It’s just that it bothers me when they begin to teach that we must give 10 percent or we will be punished. Where are the churches that don’t teach this? I feel depressed today. Thanks.

Continue reading Tithe 10% or Punishment, Your Choice

Do Baptists Make Lousy Christians?

The following is a contribution by: H.A. Parker.  You can find out more information at


A tremendous effort to suppress criticism is ongoing fight in the Christian world, specifically for the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist denomination. The reason why this title goes with the Baptist label is primarily because this is the same group that heralds itself as the heroes of true Christian Orthodoxy. Like any other sectarian group in the Protestant fold, there are some significant things this group contributed; however, unlike the other denominations, these accomplishments are not necessarily positive ones. If anything positive were to be said on behalf of the Baptists, these actions are far and few in between. Before discussing the negative things this group has done in the name of Christianity, let’s examine some of the positive things first.

Continue reading Do Baptists Make Lousy Christians?

Richard Hivner Deception

Richard Hivner, a former associate pastor at Candlestick Baptist Church in Spring TX frequented this site to voice his disagreement with it in the comments section. There are many comments he made with an invitation to open discussions about the topics presented here. Unfortunately Richard couldn’t keep himself from perpetuating the abuse that’s spoken of on this site and had to be banned. He emailed me with apologies and promised to have open discussions without judgment or pretension.

Stepping out in trust, we decided to allow Richard to again comment and provoke discussions. Unfortunately he was unable to keep his promise and was again banned.

In hind sight I’m glad we decided to allow Richard to return. He provided a perfect example of why we have this site and why we share the information we do. In his most recent engagement for discussion Steve was asked to address some of Richard’s statements that were very subtle in his attempts at manipulation. There was frustration on both sides as it was apparent that Richard wasn’t really interested in “open discussion” and was simply attempting to push his beliefs on us. Continue reading Richard Hivner Deception

“Broad Stroking” Deception

I recently wrote an article on the number one complaint we receive here at which is that IFB churches are “Independent” of and from other IFB churches and therefore are not a denomination or group of churches.  You can read more about that here and I would recommend doing so before you proceed with this article if you haven’t already.

So it’s only fitting that I should write an article about a VERY close second most frequent complaint, that of painting a picture of the IFB using broad strokes, or for those of you who might not understand that analogy, overgeneralizing.

This is really nothing more than at attempt at misdirection, which the IFB is notorious for – great job of being consistent at least.  You see, people in the IFB, in continuity with their desire to be “independent”, want people to think that they are somehow better than everyone else.  So the natural progression is to next complain that we are overgeneralizing the IFB in our attempts to provide the truth to those who seek it.  This allows the typical IFBer to make judgments from afar, never stopping long enough to evaluate their own unique situation to see if what we write here is true.  I would venture a guess that the emotional underpinnings of this are either extreme denial or being too deeply enmeshed in their IFB church that they are unable to see it. Continue reading “Broad Stroking” Deception

Bearing Fruit Deception

John 15: 1-8

A trademark of the IFB is the idea that “good Christians” bear fruit and “bad Christians” don’t bear fruit.

I heard quite a bit growing up that fruit is an indication that you’re a “good Christian”.  “You need to be a fruit bearing Christian…” the preacher would boom from behind the lectern.  The implications were a tremendous burden to me as I considered the possibility that I wasn’t bearing enough fruit.  “What if people don’t see my fruit?” I would worry to myself… “or what if I just can’t bear enough fruit, how much is enough?”  You can hear the anguish in my thoughts as a young adult, worried about pleasing God.

And yet another expectation of legalistic righteousness (works based/performance based righteousness) was crammed down my throat.  An unattainable mantra of “do this and you will be identified as a ‘good Christian’”.

And they use these ideas to judge people too.  They look at others and say “he’s bearing much fruit so he must be doing what’s right” or “she’s not bearing much fruit so she must not be walking closely with the Lord.”  This is really a shame because I don’t find anywhere in that passage where it tells Christians to use the concept of bearing fruit to judge other Christians.  Nor does it tell us what the fruit looks like. Continue reading Bearing Fruit Deception

Submissive Wife Deception

The topic of “The Submissive Wife” came up recently and I planned on writing an article about it. Shortly thereafter I got an email from a reader about the very topic. My answer to her is what I planned to write about so I thought I’d just share the whole message for continuity sake. I also give some strong advice that I thought would be helpful for others who are in similar situations to read.


A concerned reader asked: Continue reading Submissive Wife Deception

Bitterness Deception

If you’ve been around the IFB long enough, you’ll quickly realize that the phrase “you’re just bitter” or anyone of it’s variations is typically the IFBer’s first line of defense against logic and reason.

I’ve noticed this more and more over the years that I’ve been away from the IFB and I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m more engaged in debate and discussions about the issues or if it is being preached more in the IFB culture. It was certainly taught in the churches I was in growing up. If you have any type of emotion other than happy you were at risk of being labeled as bitter.

It seems that “your just bitter” (citing Hebrews 12:15) has become the manipulation of choice for the IFBer who doesn’t’ like what a person has to say especially if it’s a commentary against the IFB or against it’s dogma. According to the IFB, all those who would oppose the IFB are deemed bitter and not worth their time. Just read through the comments by those who visit and try to oppose the messages of this site and it won’t take you long to read the “your bitter” argument.

Here’s a perfect example. Email received from Alan-Michael Dunn:

you sound very bitter and you couldnt be more wrong. Just get it right man…stop being so bitter. With all of the cults to talk about, you spend much time on God’s people serving in a local church (Independent Fundamental Bible-Believing Church) Please give much time to talk about the dangers of being a Mormon or JW…if you cant, or dont….then that proves youre not concerned with sharing truth…youre just a bitter guy who wants to make excuses as to why you dont serve in the church. Stop being bitter,

This is what philosophers call an ad hominem fallacy. It’s an argument directed at a person or a personal attack rather than a logical response to the idea itself. Instead of asking if I’m bitter, most will assume and judge in classic IFB style and end of story. Nothing more is said. I’m cast aside and my ideas and beliefs hand waved. Noses are turned up in snobbish holier-than-though attitude with no desire to continue the discussion or to expose themselves to such heresy.

People mistake what I and others like me are doing as bitterness when it really isn’t. I would say we are more like the Bereans of Acts 17 who are studying the scriptures to see if what they are being taught is true. Unfortunately we have discovered that much of what’s taught in IFB circles isn’t true. Luckily, unlike the Bereans, we have a much larger platform with which to voice our disgust and disagreement.

I will not lie, I am angry about what the IFB is doing, but I’m not bitter. Anger is a normal response to such injustice and danger. Even Jesus got angry at the money changers in the temple of his day (See Matthew 21, John 2). Just the same, I’m angry at the abuse and manipulation that happens in IFB churches around the world. I’m angry that people are being hurt and turned away from God and Christianity because of the teachings, beliefs and man made traditions of this cult like denomination. I’m angry, but I’m not bitter.

Even if I were bitter so what? Bitterness is a normal emotion and is not a sin. The IFB would like us to believe it is a sin. There’s even a website ( that teaches that women who are raped and have trouble healing and getting closure from the trauma have trouble because they have bitterness. This is pure emotional abuse. The site goes on to also say that boys who have been abused by men and have trouble with healing and trouble with sexual identity (homosexual thoughts) are that way because of bitterness and an inability to forgive. I’m appalled at what I read on this site. How ridiculous and harmful – and unscriptural!!!

There is not one verse in the Bible that calls bitterness a sin. Ephesians warns that bitterness can lead to devastating consequences if left unchecked (see Ephesians 4), but nowhere in the Bible does it call bitterness a sin. In fact, we read in Isaiah 38 that Hezekiah was thankful for his bitterness because it helped him recognize the good that came from his painful experience.

Bitterness can actually be a good thing if we let it motivate us to do things differently. Just like this site, I use the bitterness I once had to motivate me to study the scriptures and use logic and reason to deduce the errors of the IFB. Now, no longer bitter, I can thank God for the good that came of my situation. I am now truly saved and have a much closer relationship with God because it is founded on truth and not the teachings of the IFB.

Finally, we must remember that bitterness and forgiveness are not necessarily opposites. It is not necessarily true that one hasn’t forgiven if one is bitter. And forgiveness doesn’t mean that the bitterness will automatically end. These are two separate issues and the Bible doesn’t say that if you forgive you will not have bitterness and vise versa. The IFB teaches this, but it’s not in the bible – at least I can’t find it anywhere in the Bible.

Is the IFB a cult?

I often refer to the IFB as “cult like” or “cultish” and I receive great condemnation from IFBers as a result. This post is being written to set the record straight and to provide a little more detail about what I mean by “cult like” or “cultish”.

Let’s first look at the definition of “cult”. The Random House Dictionary defines a cult as: 1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies. 2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers 3. the object of such devotion 4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc. 5. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols. 6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader. 7. the members of such a religion or sect. 8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

In case you didn’t notice, the definitions are pretty broad. The term “cult” can be a bit ambiguous and is often open to individual interpretation. As a result I will try to narrow down the definitions and streamline my focus. I would like to focus on definitions numbered 1, 2, 4 and 6.

We all know of the particular cults that have come and gone. One of the more famous cults was the Branch Davidian cult in Waco Texas lead by David Koresh. If you aren’t familiar with it I would encourage you to look them up. It’s pretty interesting. Basically, David Koresh lead a group of people to their deaths because of a false ideology and set of beliefs that was unorthodox, extremist AND with members living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader, (see definition 6).

The only reason I mention David Koresh in this context is to set apart what we typically think of as a cult. The Branch Davidians characterized ALL the stipulations of definition 6 above so this is an easy one to spot. Organizations like the IFB are not so easy to spot and often have subtle variations of definition 6 – the one we typically think of when we hear the word cult – or they are purposefully deceptive about their status in society in order to deceive people into joining their group (don’t get all defensive, I’m just using deception as an example of a subtle difference to distinguish what we think we know a cult to be and what a cult really is).

Yes, I know that the IFB doesn’t EXACTLY fit definition 6 so before you decide that you want to shoot me (or at least leave this webpage) read on because I’m going to tell you why I think that the IFB fits the definition of a cult.

In a way, ALL belief systems START out as a cult by the definition of 6 above. Just think about the way Jesus must have been portrayed in his society during the time of his ministry. Do you think unorthodox, unscientific, charismatic, extremist, etc. would be words the Pharisees and people of his day used to describe him? You bet they would. Today Christianity is one of the largest religions in the world, but I think that in its early stages people might have looked at Christians as members of a cult as defined by definition 6 above.

But as you can see, the definition of a cult is NOT limited to simply definition 6. Like I said, my focus will also be on definition numbers 1, 2 and 4. Let me repeat them in case you forgot. 1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies. 2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers 4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc. Upon HONEST inspection can you really read those definitions as say the IFB isn’t a cult according to those definitions? If not you are either delusional, extremely self deceptive or so enmeshed with the IFB that you simply can’t see it.

Yes, I know that I’m partially playing a semantics game here, but that’s why I use the term “cult like” or “cultish” instead of calling the IFB a cult outright. In the BROADIST sense we could certainly see how the IFB ACTS like a cult, in some ways, when looking at definition 6. We often see IFBers promoting the idea that we are to be “separate” (living outside conventional society), “independent” – not belonging to an over seeing body of leadership and following the leadership of the local church pastor (under the direction of a charismatic leader). We can see that the IFB promotes misinterpretations of scripture as fact – as evidenced on this site and many others (religion or sect considered to be false). We see that the IFB promotes the idea of fundamentalism (extremist) in many ways such as women wearing skirts, not going to movies or dances, etc (unorthodox) (these are simply to provide examples and are not by any means all inclusive). However, in the TRUEST sense of the word the IFB doesn’t ESACTLY fit the definition of a cult and if definition 6 above were the ONLY definition we had then I think I would have a harder time convincing people that the IFB is cultish or cult like.

However, understanding that the IFB does indeed fit SOME of what definition 6 refers to and understanding that definition 6 is NOT THE ONLY DEFINITION that’s given for a cult we must logically conclude that not all cults can be boiled down to just ones that fit definition 6. We still have seven other definitions, four of which mention the terms “religion” and/or “sect”. This is too significant to ignore.

Now, again, I play word games here, but for good reason (there are times when arguments of semantics are relevant). Since we can’t, in good conscience, call the IFB a cult, according to definition 6 – again which is what most people think of when the term cult is mentioned and according to what we as a society have come to understand a cult to be – and the IFB does display some cult like or cultish characteristics, then we need to consider the other definitions of a cult and come to a logical conclusion about this matter.

So let’s just take each definition and see if the IFB fits the description. First, definition 1: 1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies. The IFB has distinct rites and ceremonies that set it apart from all other denominations. This is interesting because the IFB WANTS to be considered “set apart” yet they refuse to acknowledge the consequence of this line of thinking, which is the perception of cult like atmosphere. The IFB as a whole, has distinct features, traditions and beliefs that set it apart from other denominations (I know some of the IFBers reading this will object to the IFB being called a denomination, but that isn’t the focus of this article so please read the article on Independent Deception for more information about that topic). The simple fact that IFBers considers themselves as “Independent” and “Fundamental” (separated from all else in Christianity) lends credence to this definition.

Second, definition 2: 2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers. Many will read this definition and conveniently ignore the “OR” in it. The veneration doesn’t necessarily have to be a person, although one could easily argue the IFB’s veneration of the local church’s pastor. The main reverence and focus of the IFB is their unique way of doing church which, according to them, is the right way and everyone else is wrong. The IFB way of doing church has become the idol around which life revolves. The IFB will deny this of course, but those of us who have come out of the IFB can understand why. The IFB has become so good at defending their way of doing church that people can no longer see past the deception. IFBers have come to venerate the ideals of the IFB which has lead to those outside of the IFB seeing them as a cult.

Finally, definition 4: 4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc. Again we see here that the IFB is a group or sect that has very strong bonds to a particular way of doing church. The IFB fits the definition of a cult by its regard for and reverence towards particular traditions, beliefs and teachings that are currently considered by most in Christianity to be unorthodox and extreme.

So it is with this in mind that we see the IFB could certainly fit the description of a cult, however, I have chosen to use the term “cultish” or “cult like” in order to show some respect to the system and the individuals that make up the IFB. When I use the terms “cultish” or “cult like” I’m referring to the characteristics of the IFB that make is closely resemble a cult.


After writing this article and getting a few comments and some rather nasty emails, I realized that a little more clarification would be needed to help avert misunderstandings. As I’ve said multiple times throughout this site, I’m not trying to paint all Independent Fundamental Baptists with the same brush nor am I making sweeping generalizations (by the way, comments that accuse me of sweeping generalizations will not be responded to by this author since I’ve clearly answered this accusation here and elsewhere on the site. Please read thoroughly before you make such an accusatory comment). It is up to the reader to determine if their church has such characteristics. I simply urge you to read with an open mind and consider the possibility.

Now, having said that, it’s important that you know that I realize that the term cult is somewhat ambiguous, but cults are often defined by how much CONTROL the group and/or group leader tries to have over it’s members.

According to the International Cultic Studies Association and cult expert Steve Hassan, areas of the cult member’s life such as thoughts, behaviors, emotions and information are controlled so that the member is kept in strict conformity. Based on this, I’ve devised a little summary of how the IFB acts in such ways to control the congregation.

Please consider the following aspects of a cult as I try to help you understand their fit among the IFB.

Control over Emotions:

In a cult, a normal range of emotions is discouraged and often not allowed. In my IFB experience, if you aren’t happy then there is something wrong in your relationship with God. If you are depressed, for example, then there is sin in your life.

Use of guilt tactics is another example of the IFB’s control over emotions. This is often seen by excessive use of what I call “sin language” (not SIGN language, but SIN language). According to the IFB, you are sinning if you don’t do church the way the IFB has determined that a Christian should. This is especially true when it comes to paying tithes. For example, “If you aren’t tithing then you are robbing God. How can a good Christian rob God?!?!?!” How many times have you heard that one? I heard it almost every week and sometimes three or four times a week when the pastor did a sermon series on tithing.

Another popular tactic of the IFB in this category is pressuring its members to perform soul winning activities. A high focus on bringing in new members is a classis cult emphasis and was very prevalent in the IFB.

Control over Thought:

Rigid, inflexible and all or nothing thinking (more commonly known as black and white thinking) where issues are either right or wrong and no room is given for a middle ground or grey areas is a sure sign of a cult. This is very strong among the IFB.

The IFB effectively discourages critical thinking, negative thoughts and thinking that originates independent of the group. The IFB encourages the use of ONLY positive thinking and speaking. Hassan shares that this is often done by infusing “thought-terminating clichés”…which “constrict rather than expand understanding”…and “function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous ‘buzz words’”.*

“Pray about it” is an example that sticks in my mind. When I would have a dilemma or life issue the advice was simply “pray about it”. This might not be the best example, but if simply praying about it was helpful I wouldn’t have been having trouble in the first place since I’d been praying about it for years.

We all know the typical Christian clichés that are used among the Christian community, but the IFB takes this to a cultish level, by restricting other forms of thought and communication.

Control over Information:

In a cult, attending another church or group is often discouraged. The message that only the IFB has the truth and if you attend another type of church you can’t get saved or you are further from God then if you attended an IFB is evidence of this characteristic.

The KJV only issue is a perfect example of this among the IFB. If one doesn’t understand the KJV then they are to rely on the Pastor or a “more mature” Christian in the IFB to interpret it for them.

Individual interpretation of scripture is discouraged. Questioning or disagreeing with what the IFB teaches is discouraged. One should accept what the pastor or Sunday school teacher says with unwavering, unquestioning acceptance is the prevailing message among the IFB.

In the IFB, pastors are trained by IFB educators and seminaries. Information is tightly controlled among the leader instruction. The church I grew up in had a “Baptist Bible Institute” which trained all the pastors and Sunday school teachers. One couldn’t serve unless he/she went through that unique training program. This is plain and simple mind control.

Another evident issue in this category is limited access to alternate information. Member access to non-IFB literature is discouraged and/or prevented.

The three mentioned above are often more subtle. The more obvious one is Control over Behaviors:

Control over what to do, where to go and who to associate with is common among cults and we see this among the IFB in the obvious “standards” that the IFB has set regarding dress, hair style, music, movies, food/beverage consumption and associated friends (among many others).

An example from my experience is vacation time. We were taught to never miss church even for vacation. I always remember my parents scheduling family vacations to end on Saturday so that we could be in church on Sunday. What confused me, though, was that the pastor always took a vacation that lasted through Sunday.

Being pressured to make sacrifices is another form of controlling behaviors. We see this among the IFB as well in the form of monetary and time commitments.

Well, I hope this information has been helpful. For more information on cults visit: and

* Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves

“Independent” Deception

Independent deception

I get so many comments and emails complaining that the IFB can’t be considered a denomination because they are “Independent” Fundamental Baptists with an obvious emphasis on the “independent” part. I really can’t believe the number if people who take offense to my calling the IFB a denomination. Well, I guess I can believe it because I was taught this as well in my IFB experience. I guess it was just unexpected how many emails and comments I would get related to the defense of the IFB as “Independent”. There are so many thing’s wrong with the IFB that this seems minor in comparison.

I’ve discussed this topic at length with several folks who have asked me for a debate. The same argument keeps coming up over and over again, so I thought I’d write a post explaining my position on this. That way when someone else wants to argue this point I can just refer them to this page and they can take it or leave it.

Lets take the emotions out of the equation. IFBers are emotionally tied to the idea that they are “independent” – free of any governing body, autonomous and self sustaining. If we take the emotions out of the equation we can think logically about it and apply some much needed critical thinking I think we will see that this idea of “independence” is really nothing more than slight of hand.

The IFB teaches, as I was taught when I was in the throws of this cult-like denomination, that because they are “Independent” they are somehow exempt from scrutiny because each church operates and governs itself “independently” from any other organization or church. As an example, a recent visitor commented on the ABC’s 20/20 investigation of the IFB by stating

“I find it ironic that the term IFB is used rather than the whole name, INDEPENDENT Fundamental Baptist. The key word is Independent. You cannot judge all Independent Baptist churches by one. church because they are INDEPENDENT of each other.”

This is a perfect example of the thinking of the IFB. This is nothing more than mere hand waving and it is crammed down the throats of every IFB congregation (well, OK, MOST IFB congregations – there are you happy those of you who would blame me for sweeping generalizations?).

Personally, I think this issue is a con game. It’s a slight of hand misdirection to keep people from thinking that the IFB as a whole – the IFB “group” for lack of a better term – is connected in many ways (which I will talk about so keep reading). I also think it’s this is an area of focus for leaders so that other major issues are kept in the background, unnoticed – or what we call in Philosophy 101, a Red Herring fallacy.

Majoring on the minors

I plan to write an article on the topic of “majoring on the minors” at a later date, but this issue can serve as an example for now. The logical side of me wonders if the IFB focuses on this issue to distract from more pressing issues. This is certainly evident on this site. Out of all the problems and horror stories presented on this site, the most frequent complaint I get is this issue of calling the IFB a denomination.

Child sexual abuse, mental manipulation, financial cons/scams (i.e., tithing), etc. all happen withing the IFB and people are worried about me calling the IFB a denomination. If that’s not telling about the false teachings and brainwashing that happens withing the IFB I honestly don’t know what is.

So lets think logically about this for a moment. The definition of a denomination is simply “a religious group, usually including many local churches…” and “a name or designation, especially one for a class of things” The American Heritage Dictionary. According to those definitions, the IFB would be considered a denomination.

But lets not only step outside of our emotions for a moment, lets even go a step further and step outside of the dictionary definition of a denomination and think completely logically for a moment. If there are several church/religious meeting congregations (to use a church word) around the country that teach similar beliefs, traditions, doctrines, etc., and each use THE SAME NAME to identify themselves, what else would you call it? a group? a congregation?, a union?, an organization? or can we not just use the typical word that’s used in our society to identify a like minded group of people with a religious preference – a denomination?

Logic dictates that ultimately this is nothing more than a semantics game that the IFBer use. The word “Independent” is really a misnomer if you think logically about it.

If a person accused me of sweeping generalizations I must insist that it is not me who is making the comparison. As already stated on this site, I’m simply sharing my experiences. So the association with all things IFB is the IFBer’s association not mine. A person who is an Independent Fundamental Baptist calls himself/herself such because they WANT to associate with a certain set of beliefs and values. IFBers are associating with the IFB because that’s what they WANT to be – and for all reasons that they have. This is THEIR association not mine. I didn’t choose that association for them.

The same is true for a particular church. If a particular church or congregation call themselves Independent Fundamental Baptist then they are associating with all that represents an Independent Fundamental Baptist church. That’s their association not mine.

One disgruntled visitor picked a fight about this topic with me and stated

“The “I” in IFB is supposed to stand for independent. Therefore we are not or at least are not supposed to be chained or linked together in any way. The idea of multiple Churches banding together a pooling their financial and clergical resources together is absolutely in no way scriptural. This idea was originally started by the Roman Catholic Church and due to the Protestant reformation these flawed and unbiblical practices carried on with those who left the Catholic Church. I can say for fact though that a true IFB Church does not claim to be Protestant because we were never in anyway associated with the RCC.”

This simply isn’t true. The IFB would like you to think that of course, but most IFB churches are started as a “sister or daughter church” of another IFB church. My family helped start three of them. They weren’t allowed to operate unless they did things the exact same way as the “sending” church. There may not be a national convention that each church answers to or a corporate identity, but there is certainly not “independence” in the sense that the IFB would have you think. The term “Independent” is truly a misnomer. The idea that the IFB church is “independent” is a blatant lie at best and manipulation at worst.

The IFB really is a brand – for lack of a better term. To think otherwise is nothing short of delusional. If a church doesn’t want the association of Independent, Fundamental, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian or whatever, then they shouldn’t associate as such. The error in association is the church’s not mine. This isn’t blame shifting, but simple common sense. If a church calls itself Independent Fundamental Baptist then it needs to be willing to accept the associations that go along with it – both good and bad.



It came to my attention by an astute reader that there actually does exist a “fellowship” of Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches in each individual state. Upon further investigation I’ve found at least 42 states have an organizational body called a “Fellowship of Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches” and two Global organizations.

The first one is the Global Independent Fundamental Baptist Fellowship and the second one is the Independent Fundamental Baptist International

So much for “Independent” eh?

It would be interesting some day to do a comparison of Arv Edgworth’s arguments about the IFB being “independent from any organizational body” and the mission of those global/international “fellowships”.

By the way, isn’t it interesting to see the word play here? The use of “fellowship” is a nice way to disguise an organizational body isn’t it? Hmmm…