June 11, 2009

Is It Sharp Nuff’ Yet?

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?”

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.”
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?

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


  1. Lou,
    One comment:
    Each of the quotes that you cited - including mine - said that the reason there could not be reconciliation YET because there is no repentance. The desire is that there would be repentance. The FBFI has clearly stated that there is room enough within the FBFI for both sides of the issue. Please accurately represent the quotes you use to make your point.

  2. Good thoughts Lou.

    I agree that sometimes there comes a point when it becomes impossible to have unhindered fellowship and it is best for the parties to separate as you said. When the heat is allowed to cool off some then God can work on each party to bring them to the place they need to be in regard to the issue in question and the other party involved. But if this is not done then the mere presence of the other party can be a provocation. They can say or do nothing right. There is always a dark motive for whatever move they make, etc. If they are quiet then they should have said something. If they say something it will be the wrong thing....

    It remains to be seen whether this is the road the IFB will take. But it sure seems from here that it is a good idea to strongly consider.


  3. I just had something interesting happen that reminded me of this situation. My kitchen faucet has one of those nossells that you can pull to get the water to come out in a spray like a shower instead of a stream. I was rinsing out a can that had glop stubbornly stuck to the sides and using the stream function. It wasn't working very well. Without changing the water pressure I pulled the nossell to get the shower spray and voila! Clean can. I don't know what the physics are behind that but it illustrated to me how sometimes separating the water is more effective than letting it flow out all together.

    Then I remembered Ecclesiasties 3:1, 5-8: "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven...a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace."

    I saw a lot of parallels in that passage. Particulary the time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones; and a time to tear and a time to sew.

    Consequently, I should think there need be no shame in departing from one another over this issue. It may be what wisdom requires. And who knows but that the Lord allowed it just for that purpose?


  4. Bob:

    Thanks for the not. I'll revise the article to reflect apology and repentance, which neither side in the debate has shown any willingness to offer to date.


  5. Lou,

    "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"

    It seems to me the degree of agreement required to "walk" or work together is the issue.

    In this, as in all things, Christ must be our Wisdom, for surely it will call for a wisdom beyond human ability to discern the degree of separating disagreement.
    Disagreement over fundamentals is already a separation that just has not surfaced yet.
    Perhaps more later,

    In Christ, Tim V.P.

  6. Dear Tim:

    Thanks for the comments.

    I believe I understand the “disagreement over fundamentals” you refer to. I decided to speak in general terms assuming most folks in the IFB camp know what the major doctrinal issues are.

    The upcoming FBFI Annual Fellowship’s theme is The Glorious Gospel of Christ. IMO if the attendees are treated to the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel the previous flap will seem like a toddler’s dispute.

    Thanks again for stopping by.


  7. Jan:

    Thanks for your comments above. They are very helpful.

    You wrote, "Consequently, I should think there need be no shame in departing from one another over this issue. It may be what wisdom requires. And who knows but that the Lord allowed it just for that purpose?"

    I appreciate that. If men come to believe that an Acts 15:39 parting might be the best course of action, it is my hope and prayer that it be as the Lord leads and for His glory.

    I do not see a potential parting as hostile. I see it as an opportunity for men who have a certain mindset on issues to work among other like-minded men apart from sharp contention that is surely a hindrance to the cause of Christ in recent days.


  8. To All:

    If you vote in the unscientific poll, remember this is a Chicago based blog. So get in there to, vote early and vote often.