Is what “Sharp Nuff’”?
For well over a month there has been sharp contention among Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB). The current controversy is a public boiling over of a debate that has been bubbling just under the surface for years. The controversy was ignited by a message from Dr. Dan Sweatt at the FBFI South Regional fellowship in April. Adding to the friction was Dr. Kevin Bauder’s three consecutive blog responses. (See links below)
With what just transpired many are left wondering if there can be genuine reconciliation and harmony among men within the broader IFB community. If last month’s discussions are a genuine indication of future events, harmony across all of fundamentalism appears to be unlikely.
At another blog I posted a question on the possibility of reconciliation. Several people responded with comments in regard to apologies and repentance (neither of which has been offered to date from either side) such as:
“I don’t think people want reconciliation right now. I don’t think either party is apologizing . . . are they?”What if these sentiments are an accurate reflection of the general mindset across Fundamentalism? If no one is seeking reconciliation, and no one finds reason to apologize when others believe an apology is called for, where does the IFB community and the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI) go from here?
“ Let me also say that I am not sure there can be reconciliation yet.”
“…calling for reconciliation? That may be an underlying desire, but probably not a realistic expectation.”
Does the Bible offer a solution to the current state of affairs in IFB circles? Does the Bible provide an example of what can be done when parties are mired down in sharp contention? I believe the Bible provides that answer.
“And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus,” (Acts 15:39).Has the time come for Independent Fundamental Baptists, who differ sharply over a number of issues, doctrinal and practical, to prayerfully contemplate the example of Paul and Barnabas as a viable option? Has the contention among men who love the Lord, and one another as brothers in Christ, boiled over to the point where in the best interest of the cause of Christ, “… they depart asunder one from the other?”
In Vine’s Expository Dictionary, contention is defined as, “strife, quarrel, rivalry, wrangling…the effect of irritation.” Without a doubt there has been plenty of “wrangling and irritation” of late in IFB circles.
Take this personal check up: In your mind, or even in discussion among close confidants, do you desire that you and your peers or the men on the other side of the debate(s) would just move on and form their own fellowship? If you have contemplated that then maybe it is time for you to give Acts 15:39 serious consideration for personal application.
Numerous times in recent weeks we have read comments from individuals, who in mantra like fashion, speak of “fleeing Fundamentalism.” Has the contention become so sharp between two factions in the fellowship of Independent Fundamental Baptists that the example of Paul and Barnabas must now be considered the only option for resolution?
Should there be a meeting convened like that of the Council at Jerusalem Acts 15? Maybe, but individual men might want to discuss in small groups among themselves how they want go forward for Christ either alongside or apart from other IFB men and fellowships.
Maybe it is time for men within fundamentalism to privately and/or corporately to discuss whether or not the time may be near for an Acts 15:39 event. Many more of these open flash-points will do no good for the cause of Christ or the world’s view of biblical fundamentalism.
In the footnotes for Acts 15:39 John R. Rice wrote,
“God used this contention to send out two missionary partners instead of one.” (Rice Reference Bible, p. 1,190.)Maybe, one day in the future, there can be healing, such as Paul had with Mark, (2 Tim. 4:11). At this juncture, however, it may be best to “depart asunder” so that parties can depart from contention and set out to serve the Lord from within a fellowship of like-minded men they are more at ease with.
I did not write this article to agitate for or insist a departure must take place at this juncture. I do, however, believe we need to be honest with ourselves and prayerfully consider if the time may be near for men to determine whether or not following the example of Paul and Barnabas might be in our future and in the best interest of the cause of Christ.
Is it Sharp Nuff’ yet, for you?
“And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus,” (Acts 15:39).For Your Consideration,
The IFB & Calvinism: Flashpoint!
A Call for Removal of Dr. Kevin Bauder From the Platform of the 2009 FBFI Annual Fellowship
Even More Than “Nuff Said” to Warrant Kevin Bauder’s Removal From the National Platform of the 2009 FBFI Annual Fellowship