Re: An Open Letter from the Independent Baptist Fellowship of North America to Fundamental Christian Universities and Colleges:
June 18, 2015
Dear Brothers in Christ,
We greatly appreciate your labor of love for the Savior in behalf of our young people. We are their pastors and parents, and they are our precious possessions. God has given us an important stewardship we must care for, and we take very seriously the trust we have put into your hands as we send them to school.
We are thankful for the education we received from you. It taught us how to live, not just how to make a living. Having been well‐taught ourselves, we earnestly desire to pass the faith once delivered to the saints along to our sons and daughters, and we are truly grateful that God has sustained sacred institutions like yours for this sacred purpose. We pray for your success in the grace of the Lord, and we want to do all we can to support your ministries.
It is in keeping with those prayers and that desire to support that we write you this letter. While we rejoice in the real blessing of the Lord we see in many schools with a faithful stand, our hearts have been burdened with a growing number of heart‐breaking exceptions to that rule. Some good schools have closed. We understand that there are demographic trends and marketplace realities that partially explain these closures. Still, we fear that there is more to this story. We sense a spiritual trend, one we hope can be halted.
The IBFNA is a Fellowship of separatist Baptists. We believe the greatest danger to the purity of the faith comes not from the apostates themselves, but from men who, although they profess themselves to be Bible‐believers, are tolerant of others in positions of trust and authority who do not so believe.
This is why one aspect of the IBFNA purpose statement reads, “to emphasize the biblical teaching on separation from unbelievers in religious work (primary separation) and separation from believers who ignore or disobey the Bible’s teaching of primary separation (secondary separation).”
The IBFNA Article of Faith, para. F, states that we believe in “ecclesiastical separation, whereby we preach against apostasy and withdraw from brethren who enter into memberships, affiliations and fellowships (including evangelistic crusades, youth movements, mission agencies, and schools) which seek to unite separatist fundamentalists with those who deny biblical doctrines, including those who do not obey the biblical teaching on separation.”
Recognizing the importance of your ministries to the well‐being of our young people and the future of fundamentalism, we humbly ask for your consideration of three safeguards that we believe are essential to the spiritual health of our schools, both today and in the generations to come.
- Vigorously and thoroughly teach your students the Bible doctrine of separation. Separation is a major theme of biblical theology in both the Old and New Testaments. It is at the center of the nature of our God, the reality of our salvation, and the mission of the church’s pilgrimage through the world. We would not tolerate another Jesus, another gospel, or another spirit, but neither should we tolerate any other response to these dangers than that expressed by the apostle Paul, who vigorously warned against false apostles and the need to separate from them (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 2 Cor. 11:1-15). Every student should learn this doctrine, for it is essential to his spiritual well‐being. It is the wall that protects essential doctrine from the influence of error and the heart from the influence of unbelief and apostasy. Both ecclesiastical separation and personal separation from worldliness are indispensable teachings in this regard. Produce graduates in every major who are convinced from the Scripture of the doctrine’s content and importance.
- Guard your institution from the influence of men, many of whom are godly and gifted in other respects, who do not understand or seek to practice the Bible doctrine of separation. We understand that good men can disagree about doctrines that are less essential or clear, but the doctrine of separation is a first‐order concern for the Christian. Refuse to work with men, institutions, and movements with whom you cannot agree on this essential matter. You separate from Charismatics, for instance, so only work with men who will faithfully separate from Charismatics. Agree with co‐laborers on separation.
- Recognize the danger of the many mechanisms of ecumenism. Satan is building a one‐world church, and he is using many things to blur the lines between truth and error, right and wrong, and good and evil to do so. Charismaticism is one of these mechanisms. Christian Contemporary Music is one of these mechanisms. Greater political influence and good social causes can function in this way. Keep a difference between the clean and the unclean. Draw bold discernable lines between darkness and light, though we live in a world that seems to offer us many shades of gray.
It is our sincere desire that these practical suggestions will foster the spiritual health and well‐being of your school for the Lord’s sake. It is in the abundance of counselors that safety is to be found. While our counsel is unsolicited, it is offered in the sincere hope that it can be of some help. Be assured of our continued prayers and support as you seek to honor Christ in the discipling and education of our young people, and in contending for and passing along the faith once delivered to the saints.
Resolution adopted at IBFNA Annual Conference, June 17, 2015, Winston‐Salem, NC