Is IFB a cult?

lkw8595

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I was born and raised at FBC Hammond, went to the school, HAC, etc. My family was there from my Great grandparents on.....4 generations until we left. We went to another IFB church in the area until it got to be nothing but FBC lite, then went to a non denominational but baptistic church. Completely non denominational now...don't even think of myself as a "Christian" but as a "Christ follower." I could give example after example, both that we experienced in the movement itself but also with family members in the movement..... bottom line, at this point now, do you think the IFB movement is a cult itself? Or is it just certain IFB leaders that have grown their own local cult?
 

Baptist City Holdout

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The very fact that the question enters our minds should be a clue.

On the surface the doctrine side does not seem to be an issue except for the things we must do not to get saved but to stay right with God.

Then there is the Manogod worship. That's where the cultometer goes off the charts.

As so often stated there are all kinds of IFB. My home church has no idea about all the IFB oddities, but yet they fall into the classification of IFB even though some of the women wear pants, and it is a board run church.

Considering the links one will get by searching "IFB" on the net. I would say it at least leans cult.
 

lkw8595

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Interestingly, I have a a friend who is a psychologist and specializes in helping people exit cults. The hallmark behavior in deciding if an organization is a cult? How are you treated when you leave or try to leave??

That is significant because many of us have story after story of being treated poorly, ostracized, criticized, etc all because of leaving a certain church.
 

Ransom

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Depends on what you mean by a "cult," I guess. The word has a fairly broad meaning, ranging from an actual new religious movement with destructive practices (e.g. Scientology <tm>, Jim Jones, Charles Manson), to a heretical sect with unorthodox beliefs, to "that church I don't like."

I'll assume you mean the first of those: a destructive cult. Here's a fairly good list of characteristics of such a group, which I've paraphrased from here: Cult Characteristics. I've listed their characteristics on the left and put my own remarks on the right.

CharacteristicMy remarks
Zealous and unquestioning commitment to the leader"100% Hyles"
Questions or doubts are discouragedNot that I've directly observed
Mind-altering practices, e.g. chants, meditation, denunciations, harsh work routinesNot that I've observed, apart from the common expectation that members will be at church whenever the doors are open or take part in every church activity.
Leadership dictates how members should think, act, etc."Ask your youth pastor about every decision you make."

'Nuff said.

Group claims elitist, special status for itself and its leaderAll Christian churches have an exclusive claim to truth, broadly speaking. Tendency towards cults of personality in certain leaders (e.g. Hyles).
Us-vs-them mentalityFrequently.
Leader unaccountable to any authorityFrequently single-pastor leadership, with no accountability to a denomination/synod/diocese to bring heresy or abuse in check.
Teaches that the cult's ends justify the meansNot really that I've observed. Maybe the oft-repeated IFB "indulgence" that excuses things like sexual abuse because the perp is a legendary soul-winner.
Use of shame to control membersBlaming victims of sexual abuse.
Leadership requires members to cut ties with family and friendsNot that I've observed.
Preoccupied with bringing in new membersMcHyles; billions and billions saved!
Preoccupied with making moneyNot that I've observed. If anything, poverty seems to be a virtue (e.g. giving pastors a car or home "allowance" in lieu of a larger salary).
Members expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to group activities"Three to thrive"; mandatory soul-winning.
Members encouraged to socialize only with other group members"Separation" even from other Christians.

So is IFB a cult? I would judge no, but there are definitely some IFB churches, even some of the big and influential ones, that are leaning in a cultic direction. To be fair, the fact that you even feel the need to ask the question should raise a red flag.
 

tmjbog

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The very fact that the question enters our minds should be a clue.

On the surface the doctrine side does not seem to be an issue except for the things we must do not to get saved but to stay right with God.

Then there is the Manogod worship. That's where the cultometer goes off the charts.

As so often stated there are all kinds of IFB. My home church has no idea about all the IFB oddities, but yet they fall into the classification of IFB even though some of the women wear pants, and it is a board run church.

Considering the links one will get by searching "IFB" on the net. I would say it at least leans cult.
Hammond was probably a hair from being a cult back in the Hyles days. I think the individual churches lean cultish as well. What I find interesting is how nearly every fundy church I've been to is nearly identical. Meet on same days of the week at the same time, typically sing the same hymns, order of the service is usually nearly identical. I've been to some denominations that are far more independent than the average IFB. For instance the Christian Missionary Alliance has nearly social justice churches that only meet Sunday mornings and maybe a small group meeting. But they also have very traditional churches where they sing only hymns and meet the standard 3 services a week and the pastor wears a suit and tie. The fundy churches really are not independent. To be successful they typically have a college or coalition of fundy leaders supporting them in one way or another.
 

voicecrying

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Depends on what you mean by a "cult," I guess. The word has a fairly broad meaning, ranging from an actual new religious movement with destructive practices (e.g. Scientology <tm>, Jim Jones, Charles Manson), to a heretical sect with unorthodox beliefs, to "that church I don't like."

I'll assume you mean the first of those: a destructive cult. Here's a fairly good list of characteristics of such a group, which I've paraphrased from here: Cult Characteristics. I've listed their characteristics on the left and put my own remarks on the right.

CharacteristicMy remarks
Zealous and unquestioning commitment to the leader"100% Hyles"
Questions or doubts are discouragedNot that I've directly observed
Mind-altering practices, e.g. chants, meditation, denunciations, harsh work routinesNot that I've observed, apart from the common expectation that members will be at church whenever the doors are open or take part in every church activity.
Leadership dictates how members should think, act, etc."Ask your youth pastor about every decision you make."

'Nuff said.

Group claims elitist, special status for itself and its leaderAll Christian churches have an exclusive claim to truth, broadly speaking. Tendency towards cults of personality in certain leaders (e.g. Hyles).
Us-vs-them mentalityFrequently.
Leader unaccountable to any authorityFrequently single-pastor leadership, with no accountability to a denomination/synod/diocese to bring heresy or abuse in check.
Teaches that the cult's ends justify the meansNot really that I've observed. Maybe the oft-repeated IFB "indulgence" that excuses things like sexual abuse because the perp is a legendary soul-winner.
Use of shame to control membersBlaming victims of sexual abuse.
Leadership requires members to cut ties with family and friendsNot that I've observed.
Preoccupied with bringing in new membersMcHyles; billions and billions saved!
Preoccupied with making moneyNot that I've observed. If anything, poverty seems to be a virtue (e.g. giving pastors a car or home "allowance" in lieu of a larger salary).
Members expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to group activities"Three to thrive"; mandatory soul-winning.
Members encouraged to socialize only with other group members"Separation" even from other Christians.

So is IFB a cult? I would judge no, but there are definitely some IFB churches, even some of the big and influential ones, that are leaning in a cultic direction. To be fair, the fact that you even feel the need to ask the question should raise a red flag.

I would agree with this assessment. I will add that for the ones that you stated you did not directly observe, I have.

"Questions or doubts are discouraged" - I've heard preachers say that the people should always go with what the preacher said if you are in doubt.

"Mind-altering practices, e.g. chants, meditation, denunciations, harsh work routines" - maybe to a lesser degree on this - the 20 extra verses of a hymn at invitation time, the demands that the people participate in every activity, etc. does lead to a change in how your mind works.

"Teaches that the cult's ends justify the means" - I've heard many excuse bad theology because "people are getting saved."

"Leadership requires members to cut ties with family and friends" - maybe to a lesser degree, not cut ties completely, but if there is a family function that occurs at the same time as a church function, you better believe you'd be preached about if you went to the family function. If you skip the family function to attend the church function, you are at least damaging the ties to family and friends.


Preoccupied with making money
 

Starlifter

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Hammond was probably a hair from being a cult back in the Hyles days. I think the individual churches lean cultish as well. What I find interesting is how nearly every fundy church I've been to is nearly identical. Meet on same days of the week at the same time, typically sing the same hymns, order of the service is usually nearly identical. I've been to some denominations that are far more independent than the average IFB. For instance the Christian Missionary Alliance has nearly social justice churches that only meet Sunday mornings and maybe a small group meeting. But they also have very traditional churches where they sing only hymns and meet the standard 3 services a week and the pastor wears a suit and tie. The fundy churches really are not independent. To be successful they typically have a college or coalition of fundy leaders supporting them in one way or another.
I preached without a tie or a suit coat a few weeks ago... Now I can be free to be like everybody else! So glad that I broke that fundy mold.
 

Ransom

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Sherryh

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some churches are a cult, not all of them.
 

TheAlvinChimpmunk

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The legacy of Jim Vineyard lives on! Windsor Hills/OBC is still going strong (although not as good as it was during the fire period of 2006-20012 before Jesse Jackson (Stone) went liberal and convinced half the student boy too become liberal).
 

Binaca Chugger

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In short - no.

Ransom gave a pretty good outline of what a cult is. Maybe in the future when time permits I will give my opinion on his report.
 

illinoisguy

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In my opinion, IFB is not a cult. The IFB movement is basically orthodox, it is Trinitarian, and most of its precepts and practices are similar to that of Protestant groups that no one is labeling as a cult. However, some IFB churches have gone off the deep end and have adopted dogmas and practices that are cultish and extremist.

Here is a partial list of principles held by some (not all) IFB churches that rub me the wrong way and could be considered cultish:

1. Extreme emphasis on King James Only. There is nothing wrong with exclusive use of the KJV, but as we know, some churches carry the entire KJV shebang to extremes.
2. Obsession with an agenda of women's dress reform, especially the ban on women's slacks. (The assumption is, if we can get all women to dress like Amish women, this will cure the problems of lust and sexual immorality. Never mind the fact that Amish women are heavily subjected to rape and molestation by Amish men, including their own fathers and brothers).
3. Bans on holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Good Friday. (I don't really observe those holidays myself, but I don't see any harm done by Christians or churches who do observe them).
4. Preacher rule, and tight control of lay peoples' lives, justified by an extreme interpretation of Hebrews 13:17 or by the Bill Gothard "chain of command" principles.
5. Extreme veneration of leaders such as Jack Hyles and Peter Ruckman, who for all practical purposes have been elevated to the status of cult leaders like Joseph Smith, Sun Myung Moon, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, etc.
6. Elevation of non-Scriptural writings to an authoritarian status and a standard for faith and practice (for instance, the Scofield notes).

Feel free to add to (or delete from) this list.
 

Twisted

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In my opinion, IFB is not a cult. The IFB movement is basically orthodox, it is Trinitarian, and most of its precepts and practices are similar to that of Protestant groups that no one is labeling as a cult. However, some IFB churches have gone off the deep end and have adopted dogmas and practices that are cultish and extremist.

Here is a partial list of principles held by some (not all) IFB churches that rub me the wrong way and could be considered cultish:

1. Extreme emphasis on King James Only. There is nothing wrong with exclusive use of the KJV, but as we know, some churches carry the entire KJV shebang to extremes.
2. Obsession with an agenda of women's dress reform, especially the ban on women's slacks. (The assumption is, if we can get all women to dress like Amish women, this will cure the problems of lust and sexual immorality. Never mind the fact that Amish women are heavily subjected to rape and molestation by Amish men, including their own fathers and brothers).
3. Bans on holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Good Friday. (I don't really observe those holidays myself, but I don't see any harm done by Christians or churches who do observe them).
4. Preacher rule, and tight control of lay peoples' lives, justified by an extreme interpretation of Hebrews 13:17 or by the Bill Gothard "chain of command" principles.
5. Extreme veneration of leaders such as Jack Hyles and Peter Ruckman, who for all practical purposes have been elevated to the status of cult leaders like Joseph Smith, Sun Myung Moon, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, etc.
6. Elevation of non-Scriptural writings to an authoritarian status and a standard for faith and practice (for instance, the Scofield notes).

Feel free to add to (or delete from) this list.
Thankfully I've only "elevated" Don Boys, much to the chagrin of Tarheel.
 

Binaca Chugger

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In my opinion, IFB is not a cult. The IFB movement is basically orthodox, it is Trinitarian, and most of its precepts and practices are similar to that of Protestant groups that no one is labeling as a cult. However, some IFB churches have gone off the deep end and have adopted dogmas and practices that are cultish and extremist.

Here is a partial list of principles held by some (not all) IFB churches that rub me the wrong way and could be considered cultish:

1. Extreme emphasis on King James Only. There is nothing wrong with exclusive use of the KJV, but as we know, some churches carry the entire KJV shebang to extremes.
2. Obsession with an agenda of women's dress reform, especially the ban on women's slacks. (The assumption is, if we can get all women to dress like Amish women, this will cure the problems of lust and sexual immorality. Never mind the fact that Amish women are heavily subjected to rape and molestation by Amish men, including their own fathers and brothers).
3. Bans on holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Good Friday. (I don't really observe those holidays myself, but I don't see any harm done by Christians or churches who do observe them).
4. Preacher rule, and tight control of lay peoples' lives, justified by an extreme interpretation of Hebrews 13:17 or by the Bill Gothard "chain of command" principles.
5. Extreme veneration of leaders such as Jack Hyles and Peter Ruckman, who for all practical purposes have been elevated to the status of cult leaders like Joseph Smith, Sun Myung Moon, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, etc.
6. Elevation of non-Scriptural writings to an authoritarian status and a standard for faith and practice (for instance, the Scofield notes).

Feel free to add to (or delete from) this list.


That is a really odd list. See response:
1. KJO does not a cult make. It may become heretical in some churches (only saved by KJV), but a little heresy isn't a cult, it is incorrect teaching.
2. Nowhere near Amish standards. They only want women in dresses and not low cut tops. Plenty of very modern attire. Much of the modern dresses are, however, very flattering to form. Wearing a dress doesn't promote rape - that is just weird.
3. I have been in most of the dominant IFB churches over the past 40 years. I have never heard anyone wish to ban holidays.
4. Bill Gothard? Not really who I think of with IFB, but, whatever.
5. yeah, agreed.
6. Scofield as authoritarian text? I could see if you put the teachings of Hyles, Rice, etc. Most IFB have no commentaries other than sermon tapes from JH and don't read any other writers.
 

Twisted

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That is a really odd list. See response:
1. KJO does not a cult make. It may become heretical in some churches (only saved by KJV), but a little heresy isn't a cult, it is incorrect teaching.
2. Nowhere near Amish standards. They only want women in dresses and not low cut tops. Plenty of very modern attire. Much of the modern dresses are, however, very flattering to form. Wearing a dress doesn't promote rape - that is just weird.
3. I have been in most of the dominant IFB churches over the past 40 years. I have never heard anyone wish to ban holidays.
4. Bill Gothard? Not really who I think of with IFB, but, whatever.
5. yeah, agreed.
6. Scofield as authoritarian text? I could see if you put the teachings of Hyles, Rice, etc. Most IFB have no commentaries other than sermon tapes from JH and don't read any other writers.
The "Chug Master" is pretty much on target. Odd how most everyone agrees with # 5.
 
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