Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chasing Buzzard

“And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.” - Genesis 15:11

I heard someone quote an old preacher who said regarding this text, “I believe in chasing buzzards off. I don’t believe in chasing buzzards.”  It seems to me that this text and the thought given by that man of God now in Heaven are especially significant to us today.  It is an important part of our ministry to stand against evil (Isaiah 58:1 - “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”).  It is, however, not the only part of our ministry.  We are also to “feed the flock of God.”  We are to “preach the Gospel to every creature.”  We are to “comfort the afflicted.”  We are to “weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice.”  We are to “exhort one another.”  We are to “comfort one another.”  We are to “bear one another’s burdens.”  When we focus on the buzzards, we run the risk of becoming unbalanced and even unscriptural in our ministry.

I was a young pastor still in my 20’s.  Dr. Elmer Towns was beginning to be known for conducting Sunday School seminars.  When I invited him to come and do such a seminar in our church, he was working with Dr. Curtis Hutson at the Baptist University of America in Atlanta, Georgia. By the time the seminar occurred and Dr. Towns came, he had left his position with Dr. Hutson and gone to work with Dr. Jerry Falwell. It is important to note that while at this time, there were those who had concerns about Dr. Falwell, he was still largely identified with independent, fundamental Baptist churches. He had spoken at Dr. John Rice’s funeral and at Pastor’s School in Hammond, Indiana near the time I had Dr. Towns scheduled to come for the seminar. 

I was shocked to read in a newsletter under a column entitled “Did You Know?” the following “expose” . . . “First Baptist Church of Bridgeport, R. B. Ouellette  pastor, has scheduled Elmer Towns for a Sunday School conference.”  I remember wondering, “Why is our church of a few hundred people significant enough to be put in this man’s national paper?  Why, if he thought there was a problem with me having Dr. Towns in to preach did he not speak to me about it himself?  Why did he feel that I, as a young and relatively unknown pastor, having Dr. Towns in to speak was going to have any effect on the rest of the independent, fundamental Baptist world?”  Now, to be fair, the man who wrote this paper is still publishing a paper.  That paper includes much positive, encouraging and helpful information. Though I had never met the man at that point, I have since met him and found him to be a Christian gentleman. Yet I’ll never forget the shock I felt as a young man, realizing that I had been named negatively in a national magazine. It seems to me that this kind of “gotcha” approach is part of what drives some young men away from independent, fundamental Baptist leaders.  This blog is part one of some thoughts on this phenomenon.

1.  It’s Necessary
Chasing buzzards off is necessary.  When the buzzard of New Evangelicalism tries to steal from the altar the lives of young men who have sacrificed themselves to the cause of Christ, I’m going to try to chase it off.  When the buzzard of the Contemporary Church tries to tell young people that rock n’ roll is right and the King James Version is wrong, I’m going to try to chase it off. When the buzzard of Calvinism comes along with its almost universal effect of weakening our zeal for souls, deadening our evangelism and squelching our support of missionaries, I intend to chase it away as rapidly as possible.   We are to “look well to the state of our flock.”

2. It's dangerous
Chasing buzzards is dangerous.  Please note the distinction between “chasing buzzards off” and “chasing buzzards.” In the first instance, I’m trying to remove them from my sacrifice.  In the second, I’m trying to hunt them down.
  •  It’s more fun to chase buzzards than it is to offer a sacrifice. Making a sacrifice is a messy job.  It takes work. It’s expensive. It’s arduous.  Chasing buzzards is a lot more exciting.
  • Chasing buzzards makes us feel important. After all, we can tell the rest of the world what we have discovered that is wrong with someone.  We are now investigative reporters, “Pastor Police,” and in some cases, we may even perceive ourselves as the Inspector General of fundamentalism. 
  • Chasing buzzards often becomes personal. If someone does not heed our unsolicited advice or regard our unrequested warning, it really becomes our desire to “straighten them out.” 

Many years ago, a pastor wrote me a letter warning me about a particular preacher.  Because his accusations were not proven and did not have the Scripturally-required two or three witnesses, and because they were inconsistent with what I had observed about this man’s life, I kindly responded to his letter but did not come to the same conclusions as he had. When, a few months later, I had that man in my pulpit, this dear brother went after me.  He wrote, “I warned you about this man and you still had him!”  He went on to say that he had now forbidden his church members to attend any meeting at our church or to attend any meeting where I was preaching!  (I’ve always wondered how a pastor could have so much power and influence that he could “forbid” his members from attending another service.)

3. It's Exposing
Chasing buzzards leaves the sacrifice unprotected. Abraham’s goal was to give an offering to God.  The buzzards interfered with his giving the offering. He therefore chased them way. If, however, like some people, he had devoted himself to chasing the buzzards, the offering would be vulnerable to the attack of any other enemy. I wonder how many souls we fail to win while we’re writing scathing letters of rebuke against our brethren?  I wonder how many sermons we’re not preparing while we are “doing research” to learn everything wrong that we possibly can about someone we have determined to be a danger to the cause of Christ?  I wonder how often we have invested ourselves emotionally in a particular issue and allowed our concern to be one of personality rather than of principle?

4.  It’s Secondary
Chasing buzzards is not our main responsibility.  I want to take a stand. I want to be clear in my opposition to wrong Bible translations, liberal and compromising tendencies, ungodly philosophies and sin of every kind.  However, my ultimate responsibility is to “preach the Gospel to every creature.” It is to make disciples of men and women and boys and girls and train them to live for the Lord Jesus Christ.  If I could chase every buzzard down, blow its head off with my spiritual shotgun and hang its bloody carcass on a post someplace for all to see, I would not have fulfilled the Great Commission. I’m against the buzzards when they come around. I intend to chase them away. But I plan to spend most of my time making the sacrifice . . . for what it’s worth.  


  1. Great Article. I have been guilty of chasing buzzards. I didn't realize it at the time, but i was still guilty.

  2. Amen! What a blessing! You are right on Preacher!

  3. Great articles Brother Ouellette. I look forward to your future posts and I look forward to seeing you in August. Tommy Burgess

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  5. Well stated Dr. Ouellette,

    A number of years ago I received some pretty scathing false accusations that were published nationwide also. I called, requested meetings and made other attempts to talk personally with those who were, "defending the faith." 
    I even tried to have their friends set up some communication. Needless to say it didn't work. I suppose that they were not interested in helping me or getting more facts. They were simply trying to make a name for themselves. I gave them a name, but decided not to use it here.

    Thank you for shedding light on this important topic and reminding us of our most important responsibility.
    Lonnie Mattingly
    June 2, 2011 9:01 PM

  6. Great post Pastor Ouellette! You hit the mark right on, of why some fundamental Baptists are being turned away from their roots, seeing some Baptist preachers chasing buzzards all day long. However, usually the other groups that they may tend to start following after, also chase buzzards of a "different species." Sometimes mistakenly end up thinking fundamentalism is a buzzard that needs to be chased. I pray young men won't abandon fundamentalism, but understand there are many Baptists that are balanced that genuinely are gracious and stand firm in conviction of the truth.

  7. Pastor Ouellette...I enjoyed some parts of your article, but I also see a real danger in some of your reasoning as well. You may not post my comment and that's fine, it's your blog! I hope you'll at least read it personally. I won't post anonymously, and I welcome your response. 1st of all, I think it's dangerous and a violation of hermeneutics and proper exegesis to try to take that text and make the application you did. All of us preachers need to be very careful not to "wrest the scriptures" to make a point or to defend another pastor friend who is being scrutinized or presently being "chased" or to justify our own ministry. 2ndly, I think it is extremely dangerous to equate or at least intimate that the "Great Commission" is evangelism only as you did above in the last point, IE "it's secondary". Secondary in chronology, but not priority! In fact, Jesus said to teach them to observe ALL THINGS. Evangelism is only 1/3 of the Great Commission, at least the one Jesus gave. Surely you would agree that all things includes separation from false teachers AND compromising brothers who are not walking according to any part of the revealed truth of the NT. If Jesus commanded it, we have not the authority to deem it secondary, but rather absolutely necessary. Was Paul neglecting winning souls (primary) when he spent time writing 14 books of the NT dealing mainly with "chasing buzzards" of separation or worldliness or compromise or confronting Peter on his hypocrisy? We seem to forget that proportionally, MOST of the NT deals not with evangelism, but with discipleship and doctrinal purity of the churches, IE practicing separation. Perhaps, we should return to preaching and practicing things in the same proportion to the actual revealed Word of God, than we do. Separation is not the enemy of evangelism, but the catalyst for it! I thank God for men who don't relegate chasing buzzards as secondary to the Great Commission, but who instead understand it it actually part of completing the Great Commission. It's not an EITHER/OR practice, but BOTH/AND practice. The "non-essentials" minset that is so prevalent among IFBs today is unBiblical...God didn't use filler in His Word. If it's there, it's essential! BTW, have any of these "young fundamentalists" you are so concerned about and who are turned off by militant separation ever ended up fellowshipping with people that you approve of?... or do almost all of them end up joining the buzzards? Seems to me that they all leave and then play the victim, while they zip up in their buzzard suit. Maybe, just maybe, there were some pastors who allowed the buzzards to build their nests right above the sacrifice, and the buzzards became seen as pets to play with instead of dangerous hunters to be chased off? Just some thoughts...

    Pastor Steve Rogers
    Isa. 50:7

  8. Pastor Oulette,
    I agree with my brother Pastor Steve Rogers on this subject of "buzzard chasing" I believe that what is being taught in many IFB churches today leads people astray and causes them to fall by the way and become "castaways" as Paul spoke of. Compromising never leads to good things, and not pointing out those that compromise never helps anyone to draw closer to Christ either. The Rick Warrens and Joel Olsteens of this world are counting on us not teaching the young christians in our churches about standards, convictions,or compromise. The Great Commssion is three-fold. We are to teach them to observe all things, not so they can become "pharisees" but so that they can draw closer to Jesus, for He truly is Holy and He expects us to be "holy" also.

    Harold W. Rogers

  9. Hi Brother Oulette,
    I've heard you preach a number of times and have always learned from your sermons. I believe here that you are speaking of chasing a buzzard until it's caught, even if it takes you to the high country. I have a lot of respect for the buzzard chaser you are probably writing about and have never found him to be in scriptural error. I don't really think he leaves the altar unprotected, although he is a "professional buzzard chaser". Can we question the calling God lays on a man's heart? Someone has to take on the job since very few preachers today have enough backbone (or understanding)to do so today. You take time from your pastoring and evangelizing to write worthwhile books, do you not? The other brother takes time from his buzzard swatting to write books as well - many books - helpful books. Yes, we are all called to evangelize, but not all in the same "formal" way. We are also called to stand for the truth. If we all did that, perhaps we wouldn't need any professional buzzard chasers. To you I say keep up the good work! And to the other brother, I say the same. It's too bad we have to make and answer charges, but we know that is a fact of life. We were told what to expect and those of us over 30 can REALLY see the times we were warned of. And if we are 70, we have seen even more. There are NO non-essentials in God's word, and we must separate from those who will classify his word as such. We must spread the gospel, stand for truth and name the name of God. In His Service, Jim Dykes

  10. Hi Pastor, I shared this post in facebook. Great posts! More!More!