Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Deception

Exposing the Dangerous Teachings of the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Denomination

Doctrine of Separation Deception


“Be Ye Separate” Deception

A central belief among the Independent Fundamental Baptists is an ideal of Separation. The IFB prides itself on being “Independent” and separated from ALL that they perceive to be “worldly” (which is just about everything). This belief hangs on 2 Corinthians 6:17: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (KJV). The Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination uses this verse to claim an exclusive monopoly on the truth, meaning that they believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Take a look at this part of the doctrinal statement from the church I grew up in:

SEPARATION: We believe that we are called to be a separated people to abide in Christ, to walk in the Spirit and to enjoy victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:16; I John 2:15-17; Colossians 3:1-17 and II Corinthians 2:14 & II Corinthians 6:17).

OUR RESOLUTION ON SEPARATION: Whereas the practice of inclusivism is infiltrating fundamentalism, and whereas fundamentalism is a movement of separation, be it therefore resolved that we re-affirm our historic separatist position by observing Scripture.

  • SEPARATION FROM DOCTRINAL SCHISMATICS AND APOSTATES:
    1. “Mark them” (Philippians 3:17-18)
    2. “Avoid them” (Romans 16:17-18)
    3. “Identify them’! (I Timothy 1:20; II Timothy 1:15,4:14)
    4. “From such turn away” (II Timothy 3:5)
    5. “Reprove them” (Ephesians 5: 11)
    6. “Have no fellowship with them” (Ephesians 5:11)
    7. “Be not unequally yoked together with” (II Corinthians 6: 14-16)
    8. “Come out from among them” (II Corinthians 6:17)
    9. “Reject them” (Titus 3: 10).
  • SEPARATION FROM DISOBEDIENT SAINTS AND APPEASERS:
    1. “Note that man” (II Thessalonian 3:14)
    2. “Withdraw yourself” (II Thessalonian 3:14)
    3. “Have no company with” (II Thessalonian 3:14)
    4. “Rebuke them sharply” (Titus 1:13)
    5. “Admonish him as a brother” (II Thessalonian 3:15)
    6. “Count him not an enemy” (II Thessalonian 3:15)
    7. “Keep not company” (I Corinthians 5:11)
    8. “With such an one, no, not to eat” (I Corinthians 5:11)
  • SEPARATION IN SOUL-WINNING ACTIVITY:
    1. Jude 22-23, “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Be it further resolved that while’ adhering to this separatist position, we “let brotherly love continue” – Hebrews 13:1.

Some may read those statements and proclaim the benefits of such a doctrine, after all we are Christians and called to be distinct in our behavior and worship right? Well sure, but unfortunately that’s not where the IFB stops. They use these verses to manipulate and coerce people into aligning with the IFB’s interpretation of what those verses say. If you don’t you will be considered a heretic and rejected.

The Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination is blatantly pulling scripture out of context, misinterpreting it, and manipulating so that is supports this doctrine. It is because of this belief of separation and exclusivism that they teach that Christians should be as completely separate from the world as possible. The abuse begins when they interpret something that someone does, says, eats, drinks, thinks, etc. that is in the least remotely associated with the world as worldly. They believe that it gives them the right to judge others and accuse them of being worldly or at least not measuring up to their standard of living. When a person fails to measure up, they are seen as rebellious, living in sin, and in some instances unsaved. This is judgementalism in it’s purest form.

As you can imagine, since everyone lives in this world already, this is a very tall order, one that is unattainable. The Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination has very strict standards that include everything and anything that could be considered deviation from their separation doctrine. Anything that gives the appearance of “worldliness” such things as going to the movies, drinking alcohol, smoking, listening to secular music, listening to Christian contemporary music, certain styles of dress, certain styles of hair, tattoos, motorcycles, dancing, and the list goes on and on, are considered a violation of their separation doctrine and thus sinful.

So what does the scripture really say?

I’m glad you asked. Let’s take a look. Let’s start with 2 Corinthians 6:17 since that is the flagship verse for this doctrine. For those of you who’ve read other material on this site, it’ll come as no surprise to you to learn that the IFB has taken this verse out of context and ascribed a meaning to it which doesn’t belong. Many Christians, not just the IFB, have used this verse to condone prejudice and bullying in the name of “separation”. Taken to extremes, some groups seclude and isolate their members, parents isolate and reject their children and Christians withdrawal from the public to avoid mixing with unbelievers.

The context for 2 Corinthians 6:17 is 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. This is a warning by Paul, urging believers not to form partnerships with unbelievers. This is not a license to arrogantly display an “I’m better than you” attitude to unbelievers, which is what many Christians do. Nor is this a command or even a suggestion. It’s just a warning that partnering with an unbeliever could cause problems. Paul is simply cautioning believers about forming a commitment or partnership with unbelievers because this might cause undue hardship if the two commitments clash. Paul even stated earlier in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 that this doesn’t mean isolating oneself from unbelievers, just use caution when entering a partnership. Paul even encourages Christians to stay with their unbelieving spouse (See I Corinthians 7:12-13).

What’s more is that in verses 16-18 Paul was quoting from the Old Testament. Verse 16b is a quote from Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 32:28 and Ezekiel 37:27. The message is one of deliverance – salvation from the unlawful and sinful ways of the heathens. Verse 17 is a quote from Isaiah 52:11 and Ezekiel 20:34 – again message of deliverance, not from sin and separation but for salvation. Paul was referencing these passages to remind his readers that salvation has brought us close to God so that we are (not should be, but are by default) aware of the sin and sinful influence around us. As such we are to use extreme caution. Caution is warranted NOT seclusion and separation.

Let’s next take a look at Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:16; I John 2:15-17; Colossians 3:1-17 and II Corinthians 2:14

  1. Romans 12:1-2 – This familiar passage is used quite frequently and is one of my favorite scriptures. The IFB gets hung up on the terminology in the KJV where it reads: “and be not conformed to this world…” in verse 2. They take this to mean that we are to be separated from the world so that we aren’t living, in any way, a lifestyle that could be construed as worldly. This was taught quite frequently in the churches we grew up in. I distinctly remember one pastor teaching “Do not do anything that would make another person think that you are conforming to this world”. What a tall task eh?

    In reality, this passage is simply about sanctification. We are to build our relationship with God by allowing God to influence our thoughts. When we do that, the customs of the world will look unattractive and unappealing compared to God’s specific will for our lives. This verse is an individual charge to stay open to what God would have for us and allow Him to transform us into a new person (sanctification) by changing the way we think. This is the work of the Holy Spirit to change us and mature us spiritually. This is not a pass to judge people and secular society to determine what is sinful. This is largely a passive effort on our part by remaining open to the work of the Holy Spirit.

  2. Galatians 5:16 – This is an ironic verse to use, because the thrust of Galatians 5 is freedom from the legalistic righteousness that comes from the belief that we need to follow a set of man made rules and standards to find favor with God. Paul goes on to warn against the dangers of false teachings (like the teachings of the IFB). Then, having that message as a backbone or foundation, Paul leads us to an important aspect of Christian living that the IFB neglects, following the Holy Spirit’s guidance and power for living lives that strive for sanctification. This, again, is a charge to the individual NOT the group. Each individual is responsible for living according to his/her convictions from the Holy Spirit, not conviction of the IFB. This verse leads me to not believe in separation as the IFB has outlined it, but rather separation from “false teachers” such as the IFB.
  3. 1 John 2:15-17 – This passage offers good advice… focus on the things that are eternal rather than temporary. We are warned against putting value on material possessions, accomplishments and status. One might wonder how to go about living while not putting value on these things. Well the IFB would have us believe that in order to do that we need to be as separate as possible so we aren’t tempted and influenced by sinful pleasures. This misses the point, however, as we can see in this passage that “worldly” simply means material distractions or things that don’t have eternal value not necessarily sinful things and there’s no mention of separating out selves from those things. The message is caution regarding where we put our “love” or emphasis. This is similar to Colossians 3:1-17 discussed below. (Isn’t it so freeing to know that we don’t have to give up everything life has to offer? We just need to be careful that it isn’t the main focus in our lives.)
  4. Colossians 3:1-17 – This is an interesting passage because it pretty much echoes 1 John 2:15-17 in that the thrust of the passage is to focus on things that offer eternal value. The defining verse is verse 3: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (KJV). The word “affection” is an interesting translation. The meaning of affection now is a feeling of closeness or regard, fondness. That’s not quite what it meant in King James’ time. There’s an archaic meaning that has lost it’s value over the years which is a willful deliberateness, mindful, purposeful. So with that in mind the KJV should read: “Set your [purpose] on things above, not on things on the earth.” Looking at the etymology we see that the word that’s being translated here is Boulomai (Boulomai – boo’-lom-ahee) which is a main purpose or a method of living that focuses on those things that have eternal value(1). This isn’t a command or even a suggestion to separate from earthly/temporary things, but a refocusing, if you will, on a different priority. Given the etymology, the word “only” could be safely inserted into verse 3 giving us: “Don’t ONLY think about the things that are associated with living on earth, but make sure that you prioritize anything that has an eternal value associated with it” (wording mine). The rest of that passage in context then goes on to give us examples of what that might look like, but it’s not a proscription for separation.
  5. II Corinthians 2:14 – The Romans used to have a triumphal procession and ceremony where they would display their captives and treasures and burn incense to the gods. This is a metaphor, used by Paul to describe how he felt about the way God was using him in his ministry. Nothing here about separation. I’m not sure why it’s included in this list.

Here’s a little more about the passages mentioned in the lists above:

  • SEPARATION FROM DOCTRINAL SCHISMATICS AND APOSTATES:
    1. “Mark them” (Philippians 3:17-18)

      This verse is actually telling us to “mark” or pay attention to those who follow Christ’s example. This isn’t telling us to “mark” or watch out for “schismatics and apostates”.

    2. “Avoid them” (Romans 16:17-18)

      This passage is a warning to avoid false teachers – kind of like I’m doing with this site – warning people against the false IFB teachers.

    3. “Identify them’! (I Timothy 1:20; II Timothy 1:15,4:14)

      To be honest, I have no idea what 1 Timothy 1:20, 2 Timothy 1:15 and 2 Timothy 4:14 have to do with this doctrine. I’m truly baffled by this one.

    4. “From such turn away” (II Timothy 3:5)

      This verse, in context, is about people who pretend to be religious, but reject God. Paul was warning Timothy about people who are just going through the motions and practicing a “counterfeit” (See verse 8) religion taking advantage of vulnerable individuals (much like the IFB preys on vulnerable people).

    5. “Reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11)

      The “them” this verse is refering to are the evil deeds and sinful behaviors in one’s life, NOT people and NOT sin in other people’s lives. We are to keep our distance from things that are sin in our lives.

    6. “Have no fellowship with them” (Ephesians 5:11)

      See “Reprove them” above. The correct interpretation is “don’t take part in these activities/behaviors” (ironically the NLT gets this one right. “Fellowship” is the wrong word and the reason why KJV users are confused about this verse. Back in King James’ time “fellowship” meant to partake of. That’s not what it means now. Fellowship means a relationship or association with a person. The correct interpretation is “to partake of”. We are taught to not partake in things that are sinful us.

    7. “Be not unequally yoked together with” (II Corinthians 6:14-16)

      This is about business partnerships – see above.

    8. “Come out from among them” (II Corinthians 6:17)

      This is about business partnerships – see above.

    9. “Reject them” (Titus 3:10)

      The context of this verse is Titus 3:9-11. When read in context this is clearly about “foolish discussions over spiritual pedigrees (genealogies) or…Jewish laws”. It really has nothing to do with “doctrinal schismatics and apostates”. It’s more about pious self-righteousness and pride.

  • SEPARATION FROM DISOBEDIENT SAINTS AND APPEASERS:
    1. “Note that man” (II Thessalonian 3:14)
    2. “Withdraw yourself” (II Thessalonian 3:14)
    3. “Have no company with” (II Thessalonian 3:14)

      2 Thessalonians 3 is Paul’s final instructions to the Church at Thessalonica. He makes a prayer request in verses 1-5 and then an exhortation in verses 6-15. The exhortation includes instructions on how to handle people who were lazy in the church. Remember that back then the church was a backbone of the economy. It wasn’t a non-profit organization like we have today. It was crucial for everyone to pull their own weight in bringing food for the winter months and working to help the sick and feed the poor. Paul was telling them to take note of the people who weren’t obeying Paul’s instructions and to let them experience motivation through their own guilt and shame for not pulling their weight. This verse is about people in the church not secular society. If we go on to verse 15 we see that Paul even tells them to not think of those people as enemies, but to warn them in tough love fashion.

    4. “Rebuke them sharply” (Titus 1:13)

      This passage is also about false teachers, people who teach wrong doctrines and lead others to a personal opinion rather than scriptural truth (kind of like the IFB).

    5. “Admonish him as a brother” (II Thessalonian 3:15)

      See comment on 2 Thessalonian 3:14 above.

    6. “Count him not an enemy” (II Thessalonian 3:15)

      See comment on 2 Thessalonian 3:14 above.

    7. “Keep not company” (I Corinthians 5:11)

      Read onto verse 12. This is about people in the church who are believers and blatantly and openly sinning. It’s NOT about a rogue responsibility to judge society.

    8. “With such an one, no, not to eat” (I Corinthians 5:11)

      See above

  • SEPARATION IN SOUL-WINNING ACTIVITY:
    1. Jude 22-23, “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Be it further resolved that while’ adhering to this separatist position, we “let brotherly love continue” – Hebrews 13:1.

      Jude 17-23 (context) is about using discernment when sharing the gospel. Some people will need a gentle approach while others will need a more firm approach. It is our responsibility to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance in any given situation while taking care to not be pulled into the sins of others.

      Regarding Hebrews 13:1… do you see how the IFB uses this verse? “…while adhering to this separatist position, we ‘let brotherly love continue'”? Well that’s not the message of Hebrews 13. The IFB would have us believe that we show love while simultaneously judging and rejecting people when we judge them to be in error or sin. That’s not what Hebrews 13:1 says! The message of Hebrews 13:1 is that we are to love people with true Christian love despite what people do, how they act or what they believe. The is an epitome of the IFB’s twisting of scripture. They’ve taken a passage of scripture and, based on a false doctrine of separation (or rather because of a faulty belief in separation), have twisted it’s meaning and manipulated it to align with their way of thinking. It’s a belief followed by finding scripture to support that belief rather than basing beliefs on true scripture. This is an EXTREMELY subtle and dangerous practice.

With correct Biblical exegesis we can see that some of the above scripture references do create a message of caution about certain circumstances. The thing to remember, however, is that these were specific instances and problems that are found in a body of believers NOT believers finding problems and sin in the general population. These do not give us license to judge others (See Matthew 1:1) or to develop a doctrine of separation from people who we think should fit into these categories. The general message is NOT separation, but rather caution and discernment and then distancing ourselves if deemed necessary. This is to be done ON AN INDIVIDUAL CASE BY CASE BASIS. There is nothing we can extract from these verses that give us sweeping authority to judge and separate ourselves as a group/denomination from those we’ve (wrongly) judged. This doctrine of separation doesn’t have a leg to stand on when proper hermeneutics is applied.


References

(1) The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon. (n.d.). Boulomai. Retrieved from BibleStudyTools.com

7 Comments

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  2. Wow. I didn’t realize it was that bad. I knew that IFB churches were radical in their faith and were anti-baby baptism, but didn’t realize just how deep they were in the resolution of seperation. Christ said there is one church, one body. Where do they get the idea that it is ok to say “you do things your way and we’ll do it the right way…but we still love and accept you. We just won’t work with you.” That does not hold up to the one body scripture…and if, in fact, they are a strictly new testament church they should be a totally inclusive denomination…not exclusive…getting of my soap box now…

    1. Babies are not to be baptized.it says it throughout Acts,what must I do to be baptized?believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.Can you tell me how many babies believe ? ZERO!!! And it doesn`t wash away sin like the Catholics believe, the BLOOD does & this author is wrong about many things,especially about NEVER judgeing but I can show you @ least 12 verses that say righteous judgement is OK & commanded & he is wrong about homosexuality not being a sin,visit Sodom today.

      1. “What must I do to be SAVED” – Acts 16:30 – NOT baptized! There is no scriptural proscription against baby baptism. Some faiths teach that baptism is necessary for salvation. I don’t personally believe that, but it’s not for us to judge those who do believe that.

        This author never claimed to be right about everything so please show us your 12 verses that say righteous judgment is OK and commanded. I will be glad to reconsider my stance against judging if you are correct.

        Homosexuality and sodomy are different topics. There isn’t one passage of scripture that says homosexuality is a sin (at least not when properly interpreted).

  3. If I used that same philosophy I would have to treat them this same way. However we need to read each scripture in context and take into consideration the entire paragraph and what God is really saying. The analogy story is exactly what it’s like. They believe that if you leave an IFB church, you had better choose another IFB Church or you’re out of sync and headed for destruction.

  4. I don’t know who who publishes this website, but I am certain that it must be a bitter person who was one a member of an Independent Baptist Church, and who had his “feelings hurt” in one way or another.

    No IFB church I have ever known of believes that they are the only ones who have all the right answers. Yes, they have strong convictions. Yes, sometimes IFB people can be a little over the top when it comes to judging people.

    I’ve been there, and I know!

    But, they are the first to admit that they are imperfect sinners, saved by grace, and that there are NO perfect churches, just as there are no perfect Christians.

    The author of this website would do better in working to critique and expose churches and denominations practicing REAL apostasy and error. (After he learns his Bible a little better!)

    IFB churches and IFB people aren’t perfect, but they are GOOD PEOPLE!

    1. Yawn. http://www.baptistdeception.com/bitterness-deception/

      So since “No IFB church [YOU] have ever known of…” then there must not be any right?

      The author of this website thanks you for providing a perfect example of what he’s “bitter” about.

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