What is an Independent, Fundamental Baptist Church?
The name Independent Fundamental Baptist Church is used by churches which pattern themselves strictly according to the early church as found in the New Testament. The name Baptist is used by many churches that are not fundamental in their beliefs. Some churches which were in the past founded on the doctrinal teachings of the New Testament have since drifted away from many of the teachings of the Scriptures. Independent Fundamental Baptist churches adhere to the fundamental teachings of the Bible, such as the deity of Christ, the virgin birth and salvation by the Grace of God, through faith. The true Independent Fundamental Baptists have no association or fellowship with these churches that teach or practice things contrary to the New Testament.
The name Fundamental and Independent Baptist came into being as a result of many modern day Baptist churches compromising the Word of God and teaching and practicing false doctrines. There were many Baptists who loved the Word of God and held true to it and refused to abandon the teaching of the New Testament. Fundamental and Independent adjectives were added to the Baptist name to distinguish between the doctrinally unsound Baptist churches and those that believed the Bible. Many Baptist churches changed their name.
Independent means that the church is run locally and not a member of any council, convention or is a part of any hierarchy outside the local congregation. There are no national organizations which exercises authority over the local church. Independent Fundamental Baptist churches have fellowship with others and often cooperate in things such as evangelism. They will only fellowship or cooperate in joint meetings with churches of like belief. There are Independent Baptist organizations such as mission boards and other organizations that help the local church carry out its mission but they do not have the authority to ordain pastors or evangelists. Evangelists and missionaries are accountable to their local or sending church and not the mission boards. They will not participate, on a church basis, in any outside function with churches which do not also strictly base their faith and practice on the New Testament. Fundamental Independent Baptist churches separate themselves from doctrinally unsound churches as well as other Baptists groups who participate with the unscriptural churches.
The officers of the local church are pastors and deacons. (I Tim. 3:1-16) The pastor of the church is called by majority vote of the congregation. Men meeting the Biblical qualification of deacons (I Tim. 3:8-13) are appointed from the local congregation and approved by the majority vote. Many Baptist churches have Trustees, but their position was established in order to have legal “signatories” to sign legal documents of the church. Deacons and/or Trustees are not a governing body but rather titles of special appointed servants who serve and are subject to the will of the pastor and congregation.
Fundamental means that the Baptist church uses the New Testament strictly as its authority for doctrine and practice. In recent years the news media has labeled doctrinally unsound churches including Charismatics, Pentecostals and TV evangelists fundamentalists. They should not be confused with Fundamental Baptists and, in fact, are worlds apart in their beliefs.