The following is a contribution by: H.A. Parker. You can find out more information at pastorsinknead.wordpress.com
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.
As all Christians know, Baptists are champions on a number of things that are somewhat significant to the idea of contemporary culture. Believer’s baptism is one of them; the only thing they did which most in the Reformed community flat out rejected. Obviously, this sacrament makes a ton of sense only if you wish to identify with a church through converted means only. In other words, you can only be baptized and identified with the Baptist community by profession of faith only. With this type of attitude, this sectarian church has a slight immunity from the poison of church infidelity, save that on the rare occasions where someone makes the church split through immoral acts. Other than that, the Baptists have had its goodness in retaining Orthodoxy through the implementation of credo-baptism only.
The ‘separation of church and state’ are another example; this doctrine is firmly implanted into the minds and hearts of all Baptists. They look to the first amendment as a means for protection because they think the phrase “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” means somehow that it equals the separation of church and state. This notion is half-true; while Congress had no interest in establishing a sectarian religion as the national belief, this comes from the influence of the Baptists and their sympathizers. Back in the day, Baptists were fairly anti-intellectual and had no interest for doing anything other than evangelizing the world through riotous means. Because each town was disturbed by Baptist turmoil, especially in the state of Virginia, it is not surprising some people became saddened to see these poor wretched souls stuck in jail cells for this urgency for the gospel. In essence, this group well influenced the writing of the first amendment. Thank you, Baptists in general.
Beyond that scope, one should not that these are the only two accomplishments of the Baptist church; much of the other characteristics of the Baptists are entirely borrowed from other denominations. Hardly of these ideas are original to the Baptist identity, especially if you are an, Born-Again, Bible-Believing, Biblicist, Dispensational-type, independent fundamentalist Baptist. The variety of influences from the surrounding denominations has made the IFB churches what they are today and it’s no wonder why no one has seen this before.
Independency, a dearly beloved and well cherished privilege in the IFB circles did not start with them; in fact, this concept came from the rigorous Congregationalists of New England. Yet, even they did not take either autonomy or independency to great lengths like the Baptists of today. Those Puritans fought for something similar to the views of Presbyterianism, but without the label; most ideals would remain intact, except that the congregation had the right to overthrow their pastor if they chose to do so and practice strict communion.
Another unoriginal feature to the IFB movement is the prohibitionist stances on alcohol; little do most Baptists know, this view did not become prominent until the late twentieth century (well after the invention of Welch’s Grape Juice). Though this pietistic viewpoint was prominent roughly around the 1820’s, the problem these IFB Christians do not tell their audiences is the sheer fact that it was the Methodists who took this stance against alcohol first, not them silly old Baptists. The reason why this grew as an influence resulted from the cross denominational changes (e.g., when a Methodist becomes a Baptist or vice versa). The exchange of these ideas is not surprising in our circles today.
Sunday School, the enterprise of Baptist Evangelism, is another prominent feature that did not originate with the IFB circle; in fact, if one does his or her homework, the concept of teaching Bible to students on Sunday instead of mean ol’ Catechism Class, was taught by (gasp!) Congregationalists! This concept became a pervasive influence upon Baptist circles today because thanks to the non-Baptist group, the Congregationalists used this idea to further education the parishioners for the missionary fields. Unfortunately, Baptists miss the point when they take ideas from other Christians and decide to label it as their own.
While I have more to continue on the subject, I must put this part of the article to a close. Hopefully, there will be more readers taking interest on the subject in general.