The New Face of Fundamentalist Christianity–Part III

Volunteer or Reasonable Servant?

I don’t think I have ever read anything concerning this subject before, but I have been pondering about it a decent amount lately.  In fact, this article is about ten years in the making.  I think it started with my parents, and some of their very wise opinion and advice in this area.  I believe that this subject is biblical, and without it, service to God can become sold out to materialism and selfishness.

Thankfully as I was growing up, I was taught a good bit about service to God: what it is and what it is not.  I believe that many in fundamental Baptist churches today are confused about what it means to be God’s servant.  Often you may hear the term “volunteer” to describe someone who does some kind of service in the church.  However, we should know that our service to Christ has nothing to do with being a volunteer.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that it is good to volunteer your time: for a good political cause, for an elderly neighbor, or for your community spring cleaning day–but not for your church.  “What are you getting at?”, you may ask.

Webster’s dictionary describes the word volunteer this way: “a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service.”  So why do we not volunteer our time at church.  The answer is simple: service in our church is not voluntary at all.  It is mandatory.

Romans 12:11 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

We know that our salvation from sin and hell has nothing to do with our works.  We can never do enough good works to please a holy God.  After being born again and becoming a child of God, we are officially enlisted into Christ’s service.  And every service to God must be done through your local church.  That is why you cannot volunteer yourself to God or your church.  As the above verse clearly states, our lives are a sacrifice to God: everything is for Him.  We surrendered all of our rights on the cross of Calvary.

A problem with many churches today, or rather many of the people in them, is that they honestly think that the church owes them something.  If the pastor does not preach on what they want to hear, they get mad at him.  If the church’s schedule does not match your schedule, then it is the church’s fault.  If the church does not give you some kind of incentive (food, recognition, etc) to come to a work night, then you just are not going to come.  What ever happened to being enlisted in God’s service.  I think one of the problems is the attitude of “volunteerism.”  Instead of imparting to God what is already his with our time, we hold it back and expect some kind of incentive.  Granted, I don’t know many people who would expect a check from the church for their giving of time; but in a more subtle way, they honestly think that they are owed something from the church, and essentially, God Himself.

The attitude we must have instead is that of a reasonable service to God.  Every hour of witnessing, ever nail that is hammered, every bathroom that is cleaned, every carpet that is shampooed: it is all our mandatory service to the Lord.  Now, all of this may sound somewhat harsh; but it is not at all!  It is a true joy when you are serving God without any strings attached!

One example many of the men from our church experience just a few weeks ago.  We had record amounts of snowfall in southeast Pennsylvania this past winter, and by the time it started melting, our gymnasium building of Mt. Zion Baptist Church started developing some leaks on the roof.  Now, it wasn’t that bad, but enough to concern the stewards (the men who are in charge of taking care of the property) of our church.  I received a call at about 1:00 in the afternoon from our head steward, asking to help shovel off the foot or more of snow off of the roof in a few hours.  And believe me–it is not a small building!  That evening I arrived at church earlier than what was planned, but already, already there were at least a dozen men there on top of the annex building, shoveling away.  For the next few hours, at least twenty of us men got most of the snow off the building.  It was great!  The best part of all, I think, is that the fathers brought there young sons to help too.  True, they did not make much of a dent in the snow, but they learned that when the church needs help, you are there.  It was pretty hard work, but we had a blast doing it too!  Working for God is genuinely a joy!  I don’t think that one of the men considered themselves a volunteer.  That is one of the reasons I like the term steward–the caretakers of God’s things, and in our case, the church buildings.  It is just part of being at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and serving God all the way through it–not because of something we get, but because of all that Christ did for us.

The main point that I would like to get across is that if your church needs your service, find every way possible not to get paid for it.  Be as generous as you can!  You will not regret it.  Volunteering is something that someone from outside of your church does when they may give time or materials, without making the church pay.  Reasonable service is for those in the church, all because it is what God demands.  If you have a talent or trade, give it to God!  Use it in your local church!

Ephesians 6:77 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

The New Face of Fundamentalist Christianity–Part II

The Trojan Horse of Compromise

I think I have always been a fan of music.  Since I can remember, I have loved listening to something while working, studying, and relaxing.  Music surrounds us: now more than ever.  With the creation of the iPod and internet, it is almost as if we cannot escape it.  Even as I am writing now, I am listening to something!

I am no where near an expert of music theory or technique; however, I, like any other discerning Christian, can know what is right and wrong.  Yes, there is a right and wrong!  To deny that would be to deny the very cardinal doctrines of holiness, sin, and God Himself.  It is not neutral.  A Christian’s standard of music, like any other standard, derives itself from God’s Word.  Examine the following passages:

Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

An adjective is used in these verses to describe what kind of music Christians are to listen to.  Adjectives are words that modify nouns (Thank you, freshman English!).  The noun that is specifically being modified is songs.  The adjective is spiritual.  The word spiritual means “something of the Holy Spirit.”  Therefore, our little analysis says that our music is supposed to consist of psalms, hymns, and songs of the Holy Spirit.  All of those are good things–holy things of God.  On the contrary, since there is good and holy music, there is also bad and unholy music.  According to the Bible, it is impossible for music to be neutral.

We can know what is good and holy from the Bible.  That is one reason God gave us His Word.  Without question, it is our sole authority for faith and practice.  God did not give us His Word without the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit.  With the Word and the Spirit, we have the Power of God to rightly discern what is right and wrong–without question.  Even to the person who is not completely studied in the science of music, God gave us an even greater gift: the Word and the Spirit!

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

This is just one place among many in the Bible where we can rightly judge music.  Does the music you sing or listen to match up to the Word of God?

Another issue other than neutrality is that of Contemporary “Christian” music.  I inserted quotations there for a reason.  This type of music is not Christian.  Some may say, “Oh, but the words are Christian.  That makes it good!”  Again, that abruptly strays away from principles laid out in the Bible.  Other than the words themselves, there is the music that actually makes it music!  In several passages in the Bible, music is labeled under different types.  There were different types of music during the godless worship of the golden calf, and the song at the temple dedication.  Would God have allowed the calf worship music at the His temple dedication?  Of course not.  Then why do so many churches use the world’s music in their services?

The answer to that question is that the Satan is master of deceit.  He so frequently uses the tool of music to drag churches closer to the world–step by step–and not always slowly.  I believe that Bible-believing fundamental Baptist churches are Satan’s chief target.  Who else preaches the Bible with God’s power?  Who else has a zeal for the lost of the world to be saved and discipled.  Yes, I believe that the devil has planted his prime target of compromise on fundamental Baptist churches.  His easiest way of bring that about is music.

A Scenario

Greg Wilson is a thirty-year old husband, father, and deacon at Glenn Avenue Church in Rockland Gap, Pennsylvania.  He grew up in this church–his family was at the church every time the door was open.  From the time he could remember, his family involved themselves in the ministries of the church.  His father drove the church’s Sunday School bus, and helped with the upkeep of the church; while his mother had taught a children’s class for many years.  Greg, along with his two siblings, grew up in an overall good home.  Mr. and Mrs. Wilson tried to train their children according to the Bible all the way until they left the home.  While attending the church’s academy from K5 on up, Greg really became what some would call a “good guy.”

The pastor of Glenn Avenue Baptist Church was also a very godly man.  He had been the pastor for forty years at the time of Greg’s graduation from high school.  The pastor always encouraged the youth at his church to attend Bible college, and possibly feeling called to the ministry, Greg knew that’s what he wanted to do.  The research of different Bible colleges was tedious.  He found one that he thought God might want him at, and asked his pastor’s advice.  His pastor advised against it, mostly because of the college’s weak music standards.  Greg, though, had basically already made up his mind.  Even against his parent’s counsel, Greg enrolled for his first semester at that college.

He arrived at the college’s exciting campus a couple of days before classes started.  He attended the church services at the church that the college was a part of for the first time on August 30th.  He did realize that the special music at that college was different and perhaps worldly, but looked over it.  Over the first semester, Greg began to actually enjoy the music of the college.  He had also been introduced to some other types of music at the college, thanks to his roommates.  The head of his dorm room liked to listen to some very questionable southern gospel groups now and then, which made Greg uncomfortable at first.  His parents taught him that music like that is not right.  But again, he became accustomed to his roommate’s music, and soon became a big fan.  In some college chapel services, Greg heard even more worldly music during the specials.  Music looked more like an entertaining performance rather than devotion and glorifying God.  Then, on occasion, he would hear one of the staff preachers say that music should never be a separating issue among loving Christians.  Preachers would say that it is one of those “nonessential” issues.  Sure, Greg’s college’s brochure said that they believed conservative music; but not-so-subtly, that church and college rejected separation from worldliness in music.

Greg graduated, married his high-school sweetheart, and moved home to work in a good job, and help serve in his church.  Greg and some other friends who had went to the same Bible college slowly began to question their pastor’s stance on music.  They secretly accused him of being too “old-fashioned” and in need of some new life–especially in music.  Now and then, Greg and his friends might sing a special, lead songs at a church activity, or teach a Sunday School class.  It was there that they introduced these questionable types of music to the church.  Most of the members didn’t know different, except that this was the Greg who grew up in a good family in their church, went to Bible college, and knew “everything.”

The pastor of the church knew little of the festering that was happening beneath his nose at the church.  The devil was at work–bringing the church down to insignificance.

At home, Greg and his wife began to develop a taste for “Christian rock”, praise teams, and even mainstream country/western music.  Along with the writers and promoters of the music came their standards and ministry philosophy.  Greg began to be influenced by Calvinists, the emergent church crowd, and different Bible versions.  Now he said he would never go “all the way” with those people, but over the years, he became one of them at heart.  The faithful pastor of Glenn Avenue Baptist Church sadly retired three years after Greg and his friends had graduated.  With this, the younger crowd of the church voted in a compromising, neo-evangelical type of pastor in just a few months.  Over the next five years, Glenn Avenue Baptist Church dropped the name Baptist for the sake of “tearing down walls of separation.”  The pastor also introduced a praise team, and eventually a set of drums and electric guitar.  Soon, they changed from the Authorized Version of the Bible to the New English Bible.  The pastor was Calvinistic in doctrine, so soul winning efforts diminished.  The older generations in the church, including Greg Wilson’s parents, tried to fight the change to no avail.  Some left and went to other churches, while some stayed and gritted their teeth just because that’s where they had always gone to church.  This church of Jesus Christ had been rendered insignificant by the devil.  Greg Wilson was just a tool to introduce worldliness.

…now all of this is fictional.  There is no Greg Wilson, or Rockland Gap, or Glenn Avenue Baptist.  Yet, scenarios like this are occurring all over America in our churches.  Much of the time because of Satan’s Trojan Horse–music.


Compromising music in our lives does not just come all of the sudden.  There are things that happen that get us away form the Word and the Spirit that convict before we ever compromise.  We must stay close to God by faithfully devoting time to Him each day through fervent prayer and meditation in the Bible.  Just as Colossians 3:16 says: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…”  We cannot let Satan obtain a foothold in our lives.

Do not let yourself gain an appetite for even questionable music.  Whether it be labeled “Christian”, folk, oldie, or “gospel.”  Dwell on and develop an appetite for good, sacred, spiritual music that truly brings honor to our Savior!

The New Face of Fundamentalist Christianity–Part I


New–fresh–change–connect–“love”–relate: all of these seem to be the main buzz words from the most popular preachers and largest churches; and frankly, from a large segment of fundamentalist Christians.  What was once a Christian nation at its founding has become a humanist/modernist nation with a sliver of “Christianity” left for nostalgia’s sake.  That sliver of Christianity is nothing of what Christ Jesus left with His apostles.  It’s almost as if a new Dark Age has swept across the world that has not been seen since the Roman Catholic “Church” had its iron fist around the world roughly from 500 A.D.-1550 A.D.  No, this time it is not the pope, inquisitions, indulgences, and persecutions.  In my opinion, something much worse has overcome our world.

This new “Dark Age” has come very quietly.  Churches and pastors are being swallowed up in the vices of something called compromise.  Compromise today calls itself things like: tolerance, connection, and contemporary. Speaking truthfully, compromise has existed since the very beginning of Christianity; but not in the manner as of today’s churches.

“Where has this come from?”, you may ask.  I could go into the history of what is called the New Evangelical movement, or the Emerging Church movement, but others have done that in a much more in-depth manner.  Please see David Cloud’s articles HAROLD OCKENGA AND THE NEW EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT HE FOUNDED , and THE EMERGING CHURCH: THE 21ST CENTURY FACE OF NEW EVANGELICALISM.  However, I would like to highlight how compromise has not-so-subtly worked its way into Fundamentalist/Separatist Baptist churches over the last twenty years or so.  A lot of things I will write on will be completely from my point of view.  I have seen some of both sides of the spectrum–and the sad results of compromise.

What I would like to focus on for the next few posts in this series are the fruits that come from this philosophy of compromise.  It may even take a few months, amidst other posts of family news and funny happenings, but I look forward to going in-depth.  The first topic I will write about is music–what I think can be the Trojan horse of compromise.  For example, it is sad how a young person from a church with good music standards can go off to a Bible college with “so-so” music standards, and return four years later with an appetite for Contemporary “Christian” Music that they never had before college.  That is no coincidence.  It is that college’s compromise.

Anyway, music will be my first topic next week that I look forward to posting.