Have you noticed how hard it is to find a decent church to attend when you are on vacation? Have you discovered, as my members have, that a church may call itself independent Fundamental Baptist and yet be so far from what we understand those terms to mean that you can’t even stay for the service. How can we even know where to visit? How will we know where to suggest our members visit when they are on vacation? How can we possibly make a recommendation to someone who moves from our area when there is so much confusion?
I propose the following things:
To start, on a strictly voluntary basis, a reference group of godly pastors, to which pastors and churches could, without any coercion from the group, submit themselves for examination and review. These men could then determine the doctrinal position of the church, the fact that their music was appropriate, that they had basic principles of ecclesiastical separation and that their preaching was from the Word of God. Some kind of certification, seal of approval, or letter of recommendation could then be given. In this way, many of us would know that a certain basic standard had been met and that the term “independent, Fundamental Baptist” was being wisely and appropriately used.
To incorporate a common standard from the group of godly pastors. When the same words mean different things in different places, it confuses all of us. A foot is always 12 inches long, a mile is always 5,280 feet, a day is always 24 hours, an hour is always 60 minutes. Sunday is always the first day of the week (in
), December is always the last month of the year. Where would we be if everybody chose to assign different meanings to those terms? America
To have that group be willing to take the heat and help set the approval of our churches. Of course, whoever does so will be subject to great attack and yet, could be doing a great favor for future generations. The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval is a logo which many have come to look for in merchandise or services. This Seal carries behind it the weight of objective observers who have examined the product and said that it meets certain basic requirements for safety, value, etc.
I hope by this point you are either thoroughly disgusted with me or laughing out loud. My “modest proposal” (borrowed from Samuel Johnson in the 1700’s) amounts to nothing more than establishing a denominational hierarchy. It would require money and machinery and result in politics and manipulation. It would put men under the leadership of denominational overlords instead of the Lord.
What we would completely object to - correctly - in our churches, we are increasingly accepting in our colleges.
We do all I have suggested and worse when we become accredited. I would have more understanding for the actions of my brethren in seeking accreditation were the government requiring that they do so. I would still disapprove and think it to be very dangerous - but I would have more understanding. I would have more understanding of a Christian liberal arts college getting accredited than a Bible college. You see, those who seek accreditation usually say that the body who accredits them is “not telling them what to do, it is merely examining them to see whether they are doing a good job at what they say they are doing.” Please tell me how a secular organization can know whether a Christian organization is fulfilling its ministry. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, what wisdom may I seek from the ungodly in how to do the work of God? Certainly, they can tell me how to build buildings, they can tell me how to hook up computers; they can advise me on a good phone system to buy. But what can they tell me about building lives and training young people to be soldiers in the army of Jesus Christ?