By Evangelist Don Boys Ph.D. web page In this essay I will hit a bunch of buttons such as Bible versions, music, church incorporation, slacks on women, Southern Baptists at independent Baptist meetings, and other subjects. As I considered my thoughts on the International Baptist Network, I thought of the various pastors I preach for. As I reflected on my ministry and checked my records, I realized that I cross boundaries among the various groups. I have preached for a large number of pastors who are leaders in all the independent Baptist groups: I have preached for nine presidents of the BBFI and numerous other churches where the pastor was one of the national officers. My records show that I have preached for 19 pastors who have been moderator of Southwide! Plus many other pastors who served in other offices. I have preached for three or four of the leading churches in the World Baptist Fellowship and in the two leading churches of another Baptist group that has not identified with the IBN. Plus there are many pastors out there that are good and respected friends of mine who aren’t tied to any group. Those numbers really surprised me. Either I have no convictions or pastors have been very gracious in asking me to preach for them knowing we had some differences. So I have crossed boundaries my entire ministry. I have dear friends in all those groups, and what is wrong with that? Some pastors think I should sever fellowship with a few men who are considered on the fringe because of their position on very “hot” issues. I will not. No preacher will choose my friends for me. I will break fellowship with a man if he is immoral or a heretic. A few days ago my home church, Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, hosted the first International Baptist Network meeting. My wife and I were in every service. I went for inspire-ation, instruction, and information. I did have some reservations; however, since my pastor was one of the main promoters as was Dr. Bill Monroe I thought it only fair not to make a hasty judgment based on insufficient information. It might be wise for you to do the same. My assessment: It was the best, most productive conference I have attended in my lifetime! The preaching was fantastic. Every preacher hit the target and rang the bell. The music was excellent. In other words, I liked the meeting. Don’t I have any criticism? Any criticism is minor. After all, does anyone agree with anyone all the time? Many Baptist pastors have a major problem with people who disagree with them, but folks that is a part of life. Often that is a problem because the pastor is insecure and has fear for his position. Other pastors take any disagreement as a challenge to their authority, failing to acknowledge their accountability to their people! My biggest concern was having a Southern Baptist preach at an independent Baptist conference. That was my biggest hurdle, and if I were convinced that the purpose of the IBN was to change the complexion of our movement I would be the first to scream like a stuck pig. I would not find it acceptable to have many SBC men preaching at each conference or men who are critical of the independent Baptist position. Nor would it be acceptable to me for IBN representatives to refuse to criticize Southern Baptists and others when they deserve it. They must also be willing to criticize our own movement at times. Let me remind my Independent Baptist friends that we have traditionally been friends with and encouraged SBC men who were faithful to the Word of God. You know, some Baptists almost suggest that only Independent Baptists are going to Heaven or at least they are the only ones who deserve to go to Heaven! The fact is none of us deserve to go to Heaven. I believe that all denominational men should bite the bullet and “come out from among them.” And many have and others will in the future. However, it is very unfair to suggest that independent Baptists are the only principled people when Presbyterians, American Baptists, Southern Baptists, and others took a stand that cost them everything. Many of us are not worthy to carry their brief cases. We are told that some of the non-independent Baptists were wrong about the church, second coming, etc., and that is correct; however, you and I are not right about every issue! We would be willing to correct our position if we were convinced of our error, but then so would they. Many Baptists get angry at the suggestion that they are wrong in any area of their lives! (And that’s why some are looking for my phone number to cancel a meeting and others are now punching in “Take me off your list.”) Let me suggest that we have overlooked something: We are brothers and will spend eternity together. Yes, “they” will be changed and be without error, but then so will you and I. You and I have no reason to believe that others are less principled than we. In some matters we see the Scripture a little differently, but it is always in “lesser” matters. As a young evangelist I developed a brochure to promote my ministry among pastors who did not know me. It dealt with the Man, the Message, Ministry, the Method, and the Means. Under the Message, I listed what I believed and preached: the Virgin Birth, the Virtuous Life, the Vicarious Death, the Victorious Resurrection, the Visible Return, and the Verbal Inspiration. While there are other issues, most sensible people will agree that those are the biggest issues we face. Now, look at what divides us: pants on women; music; church incorporation; Bible versions; etc. While any issue that is relevant to the ministry is important, surely both groups of issues above don’t carry the same weight of importance. I feel strongly about women’s dress. I think women should wear pants in some circumstances (although not at church) and have always believed that, but it is not a fellowship splitting issue, and I often preach for pastors who don’t agree with me on that issue. (And I may be wrong!) But my pastor friends know I am not going to preach about women in slacks since there are so many other issues that need to be addressed. Also, I realize that I am a guest and owe something to the pastor who has been gracious to invite me to preach for him knowing that we have some differences. I feel strongly about music. Anything other than “Amazing Grace”; “Amazing Love”; or Fanny Crosby’s work is suspect! Well, not quite that extreme, but almost. Sometime the music is too loud, too fast, too much beat, etc., but that does not compare with denying the Virgin birth! It is my opinion that is based on education, past experiences, prejudices, and other things. My research has convinced me that churches should never be incorporated; however, 90% of my preacher friends disagree. But I am not going to question their motives, only their judgment. I think they are inconsistent when they laud the Chinese Christian leaders who go to jail rather than register with the government but those American pastors have registered with their state governments. But they don’t see it that way. I am convinced that the events in the next few years will regrettably prove my position to be the right position. Time will tell. Face the fact that everyone has some error in his life. If you refuse to recognize that fact, you will end up fellowshipping with yourself, and that is unacceptable since you also have error. What should not be tolerated is doctrinal error on the essentials. Futhermore, let me observe what I think is a major problem with independent Baptists: the uncivil, unchristian, and unkind accusations hurled against those who “don’t stand where we stand.” I have noticed this especially relating to the Bible version issue. I have preached for men who have written books (both for and against the KJV only position) and have been with pastors who take a position from one extreme to the other. Whatever the correct position is, there no reason to be mean and vicious especially with brothers? Is it not possible that a brother has looked at the issue and is sincerely convinced of his position contrary to your position? I suppose this is as good a time as any to go public with my position on the KJV! My wife has heard me tell scores of pastors where I stand on this issue but this is the first time to do so publicly. I do take a KJV Only position. When I was an 18-year old off the streets of Huntington, WV sitting in my Greek class at Moody, I was appalled to hear the professor say, “This verse does not belong in the Bible,” or “These verses were added later,” or “This verse is wrong.” I was shell shocked. In recent years I have only looked at the version issue on a surface level but have been accumulating books, articles, and tapes for an in depth study. So I tell pastors that I take a KJV only position as an emotional, not intellectual position. I can not argue the various manuscripts at this time, but if I am going to be wrong, I want it biased toward the Word of God. (I wonder how many responses I will get from this paragraph alone!) I am not convinced that it is wrong to have various independent Baptist groups; however, I think the fussing, fighting, and fragmenting over non-essentials is wrong, even silly. And its one thing to be wrong but to be silly is well, silly. If a bunch of pastors want to form a group that emphasizes the second coming, go for it. Some of us will attend from time to time. Others may form a group to promote a university or mission board, etc. What’s the big deal? Go for it, but why castigate others who have different interests? Also why can’t all those groups join hands to drive the porn-ographers out of the state? Or defeat the liquor crowd or gambling? Dare I say it? Yes, I will. Often the problem is that everyone can’t lead the parade, and “if I can’t be the drum major, I won’t march to another man’s music!” The IBN is a great opportunity to have a united voice in public matters. We don’t have to agree on less essential issues. And after all, we are not asked to marry the IBN, only cooperate from time to time to implement their plan of “encouraging cooperation among Bible believing Baptist missionaries,” “homeland evangelism and church planting,” and in “expressions of human compassion.” And if there is no blood oath required to participate how can it possibly hurt, harm, or hinder a local Baptist church? A pastor is free to participate to the degree he feels comfortable. But what if the IBN begins to drift away from historic Baptist positions? I can write articles and books against the drift, stand up in a meeting and oppose the drift, and walk out to form my own group! The fact is every group has sooner or later begun to deteriorate. It’s called “the second law.” Need I remind you of the once-great colleges, seminaries, denominations, etc., that are apostate at this hour? If Christ tarries, “our” day of “drifting” is coming, but not without me and others screaming at the tops of our voices of the apostasy that is ahead. Note from Pastor Bob: Do you agree or disagree with the stand that Dr. Boys has taken?