Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What Is a Fundamental Baptist Church?

By: Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001),
Pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, IN (1959-2001).
He died Feburary 6, 2001 but his influence lives on.

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. Beloved when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Jude 1-4

The word fundamental is a relative word. It becomes an adjective instead of a noun when it is used to describe a Baptist church. It is a shame that we have to say fundamental Baptist church, because all Baptist churches ought to be fundamental.

The word fundamental means, one who holds to the original faith and practice of a movement. A Masonic Lodge can have fundamentalists. If you go back to the fundamentals of the Masonic Lodge, you are a fundamental Mason. The word fundamentalist does not apply Just to a group of Baptists. It can apply to any group. There are many kinds of religious fundamentalists, and there are even many kinds of Christian fundamentalists.

The first Baptist church was started in about 31 A.D.

It was not started on the day of Pentecost. It was started during the earthly ministry of our Lord.

The Catholic church was started in 313 by Constantine, the Emperor. Constantine united the church and the state in the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

In 1530 the Reformation came and the Lutherans started. About the fourteenth century a man named John Wycliff became very disenchanted with the Catholic church. Then came another man named John Huss, who likewise was disenchanted with the Catholic church. Following Huss came a man whose name was Savonarola. All three of these men were martyred by the Catholic church. Then came a man named Zwingli, who was also disenchanted. He became a part of the Reformation. Zwingli was followed by Martin Luther, who was followed by John Calvin.

In 1531 the Episcopalian church started.

In 1541 the Presbyterian church started.

In 1602 the Congregational church started.

In 1785 the Methodist church was started by John Wesley.

In 1812 the Disciples of Christ were started. We now call them the Church of Christ, Christian churches, or Disciples of Christ.

Around 1900 the inter-denominational movement began to flourish in America.

Remember that a fundamentalist is someone who goes back to the original faith and practice of a movement. How far back does someone have to go in order to be considered a fundamentalist? They must go back to the origin of their movement.

To be a fundamentalist Methodist a person would have to go back to 1785. A fundamental Methodist is not a fundamentalist as we Baptists count a fundamentalist. They still sprinkle because John Wesley sprinkled. They still believe in denominational lordship of the churches. They still believe that salvation can be lost because John Wesley believed it. They still believe in holiness. John Wesley was wrong on holiness. John Wesley was a great man and certainly deserves our attention as a man of character, discipline, and prayer, but not as a man of doctrine.

I believe we ought to pray for, love and admire people of other denominations, who believe the Bible, but not doctrinally like we do, but I do not think we ought to work with them. I think it is unwise to work with people that are fundamental in their own doctrine.

When I was a young preacher, I pastored the Grange Hall Baptist Church in the country, outside of Marshall, Texas. The Grange Hall Methodist Church was a good Methodist church. They had a fundamental Methodist preacher named Edmond Robb. He and I became good friends. Both of us were in the same little country neighborhood. I respected Ed Robb and the Grange Hall Methodist Church. We never had any trouble, because did not try to unite in our efforts.

America was much better off when Baptists worked with Baptists, Nazarenes worked with Nazarenes, and fundamental Presbyterians worked with fundamental Presbyterians, etc. We do not reveal our differences as much if we stay in our own camps and do our own work. We got the job done better back in those days as well.

I admire the fundamental inter-denominational people. I respect them, but I do not work with them. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was about a mile and half from our church. They had revivals just like we did. They got people saved just like we did, but they sprinkled babies and converts. Their denomination assigned the preacher to the churches. I respected them, and I prayed for their revivals, but did not unite with them.

Let's allow the fundamental Disciples of Christ, the fundamental Methodists, the fundamental Congregationalists, and the fundamental Presbyterians to live, but let us be fundamental Baptists. The Baptist distinctives that have made us different through the years are no longer precious because we have worked with good people whose doctrines were wrong in some important areas.

There are those in the Lutheran church who have returned to the fundamentals of the Lutheran church, but they are still different from a fundamental Baptist in some important areas. They still sprinkle babies. They still have the Bishopry over the churches. They are totally wrong on the doctrines of the church, baptism, and the Lord's Supper.

I respect and admire a fundamental Lutheran preacher. I rejoice with him for his morals. I rejoice because he stands for righteousness. I rejoice that he fights unrighteousness. I rejoice that he has revivalsand gets people saved, but I cannot rejoice that he is wrong on the local church. I cannot rejoice that he is wrong on baptism. I cannot rejoice that he is wrong on sprinkling babies. I cannot rejoice that he is wrong on the Lord's Supper. I can thank God for him, but I will not join up with him.

To be a fundamental Baptist you must go back to Jesus. Nobody is a true Bible fundamentalist unless he is a fundamental Baptist. Nobody who sprinkles babies is a true fundamentalist because no babies were sprinkled in the Bible. To be a true fundamentalist you cannot believe in falling from grace, because the Bible teaches that you cannot fall from grace. To be a true fundamentalist you must be separated from the world. To be a true fundamentalist you must be a soul winner. You can be a fundamental inter-denominationalist and not believe in soul winning, but you cannot be a fundamental Baptist and not believe in soul winning.

A fundamental Baptist church is a church whose faith and practice goes back to 31 A.D. to Jesus. You can be a fundamental Methodist and go back to Wesley. You can be a fundamental Presbyterian and go back to Calvin or Zwingli. You can be a fundamental Lutheran and go back to Luther. You can be a fundamental Catholic and go back to Constantine, but you cannot be a real Bible fundamentalist unless you go back to Jesus.

Two things cause these movements to move away from the fundamentals.

1. Unwillingness to accept the stigma of either extreme. Either position has a stigma. If a man is a strict fundamentalist, the great host of society calls him a radical. Most people do not want to be considered fanatical.

The evangelicals came along and taught fundamentalists how not to be radical. The evangelical movement was not founded because of conviction. It was founded because the evangelical people were not willing to be branded for Jesus' sake. They did not want to bear the stigma.

The farther from fundamentalism the Devil can brand as radical, the better he likes it. He likes it when more liberal Christians are called fundamentalist because it moves the line of what a radical is considered to be. If you are not a fighting fundamentalist, you are an evangelical.

The neoorthodox movement is the same thing to liberalism as the Evangelical movement is to fundamentalism. It is a way to avoid being in the extreme of a movement.

In Washington, D.C. you will not find many old fashioned conservative Republicans. Nor will you find many staunch liberals. The same concept applies. Everyone wants to be moderate, so they will not be considered radical.

The evangelical movement is nothing more than fundamentalists who use liberal terms. The neoorthodox movement is nothing more than liberals who use fundamentalist terms. New evangelicals are those who meet somewhere in the middle.

2. A desire to gather a larger following. Many people make the mistake of believing that they will grow more by appealing to a wider scope of people. In reality, people are drawn to that which is distinct. Most people hold to extreme beliefs and are thrilled to find an institution that has not compromised those beliefs. That has been the secret of the success of the First Baptist Church of Hammond. We have done nothing to try to appeal to crowds other than proclaiming the uncompromised truth of the Word of God.

Many men who had great and growing ministries saw the opportunity to enlarge their outreach and changed their position more towards the middle. In most cases the ministries diminished.

Let me make a few observations.

1. The Devil wants to bring the term radical toward the center.

2. Let us thank God for every group that broke with their original group when it got liberal and went back to what it used to be.

3. Let us hold to our Baptist distinctives. They do matter. Baptism does matter. It is in the Great Commission. Soul winning does matter. It is in the Great Commission. The Lord's Supper does matter. It is one of the church ordinances. It does matter. The doctrine of the church does matter. Let us hold dear and treasure our Baptist distinctives while at the same time admiring those who are willing to take a stand in their denomination.

4. Let us not be ashamed of being considered radicals.

5. We had a stronger nation when each did its own work alone and the rest of us admired each other from a distance. I am a Baptist. I thank God that I am a Baptist. I thank God for my Baptist heritage. 1 thank God for Baptist distinctives. I thank God for the men who died for them. If they can be martyred for these Baptist distinctives, the least I can do is believe them.


  1. Heather,

    I love history of all kinds but especially Biblical history. Thanks for your wonderful research of some stuff I never knew.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  2. I have many thoughts on what you wrote. I won't go into all of them, because this is something I am really passionate about. Two things I will comment on in this article by Dr. Jack Hyles:
    Quote from Article:
    "The first Baptist church was started in about 31 A.D."
    I am sad to think that a person would truly believe so deeply about their particular denomination to say that it was the only one begun during the ministry of Jesus. As if Jesus was a Baptist, holding to all the doctrines specifically that a fundamentalist Baptist would today. I can tell you with great fervor that Jesus was not! Jesus was fundamentally Himself, nothing else. The Baptist church did NOT begin in A.D. 31. It was established, just as all denominations are, by a person somewhere along the timeline of history and gained members holding to the same theological feelings as others. Ever since Jesus established the church at Pentecost, the church, yet undivided and un-institutionalized, has been moving further from what Jesus had established. The very word denomination means "to divide." And the Baptist church is nothing more than another division in the church. Be careful to believe that it was anything close to what Jesus established, for it was not. I honestly have never heard a teacher or pastor make such a claim as to say that Jesus began their denomination with His ministry.
    "I believe we ought to pray for, love and admire people of other denominations, who believe the Bible, but not doctrinally like we do, but I do not think we ought to work with them."
    How unfortunate!!! How unbiblical!!! I don't even know what to say to this. This simply proves my point before about denominations dividing. The work of Christ was never meant to be divided. A person who believes in the grace of Christ and is being obedient to His will should be able to work alongside another person who is of the same heart. The Lord's Supper, Baptism, how a church operates, etc. was never meant to be a source of division. When we hold these items up as we seem to have, we make gods out of them. We worship them, instead of the One behind them. We have missed the point behind these elements entirely. And they now seem to allow certain people to think themselves more holy, more godly, more goodly, more righteous, simply because they believe so strongly that they have it right and all others do not. This is just the separation that Satan loves. The kind he has been working for for so many years. The Lord draws together; Satan separates, divides, breaks down.
    I felt very strongly about this article. I believe it is dangerous. I think no less of you, Heather. I love you like a sister in Christ. But I hope you can come to see the church bigger than just the Baptist church. Because our God, whom we serve, is so much bigger than anything we can ever imagine!


  3. "Nat", old friend. Hello! :)

    Just a few thoughts about the thoughts you shared.... :)

    1: "The Lord's Supper, Baptism, how a church operates, etc. was never meant to be a source of division."

    >>> This cannont be. The Catholic Church believes the Lord's Supper to actually BECOME His body when they partake it. This is not truth. The Lord's Supper is merely an act of "rememberance" for what Jesus did for us on the cross - Jesus said: "This do in rememberance of Me".
    Lutherans believe that babies who are Baptised have obtained salvation. This is not truth. Baptism is merely an act to publicly show the decision we have made for Christ, by accepting Him as our personal Savior. Salvation is a choice that each person has to make for themselves, and it is through the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made one day on Calvary. It cannot be put on someone by their parents, priest, friends, or any other individual.
    These issues WILL divide true doctrine from fasle doctrine. There is no way around it.

    Paul wrote in I Corinthians 1:10 "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." This is not talking about several churches or "denominations" and the relationship between them - it was talking about ONE church, and the people within that church. Again, doctrine divides.

    Indeed, God is much bigger than anyone could ever imagine - in that, I agree with you! :)

    I don't know what denomination your church is or what you are... I still respect and love you as well.

    On a final note....
    I do not assume myself to be "more holy, more godly, more goodly, more righteous, simply because they believe so strongly that they have it right and all others do not." Indeed, I respect and look up to and respect many men who I may not agree with doctrinally - but I never assume myself to be better than them, or more favorable in the eyes of God.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

  4. Hi sis Heather. I meant to post a comment few days ago but not successful in doing so. The password was not shown so I couldn't. So, I thought I'd come back and try again :)

    I am glad you posted this. Because nowadays, we must be careful as a lot of heresies have surfaced. And many of them have denied Jesus was both God and man. Yes, we can show love and kindness towards others, but we don't have to accept to what they say. To cater to all means denying the divinity and humanity of Christ. God bless you for the courage you always have in defending the Lord and Savior Jesus!

  5. I have a lot I could say as well, but I'll try and keep it short.

    I grew up Mormon. LOL yep. Brainwashed into believing it too. Until I was about 14 I broke free.

    I was saved about 3 years ago, born again into a Baptist Church, a beautiful, loving, Christian church that I still support and love very much. I now attend a church that I suppose could be called "Non-denominational" or "Pentacostal". They do not call themselves "Baptists" or anything other than "Christian". I know that you have good intentions, but I have to agree with Nat in that Jesus wouldn't agree with division and saying "This church is true" or "That church is true" because it all fits into a much bigger picture that we cannot ever understand. God formed us in the womb and has plans for each individual. Heck, I have even met Catholics and Jewish Christians... Yup... that are lit with the fire of Christ. We should view every person in the world, be they muslim, catholic, baptist, lutheran, whatever - view them for the potential that God has in store for them, not by what church they attend. We're all sinners. Period. We cannot obtain true righteousness by our own efforts, or by chosing to follow the correct church. We are chosen by Him, and live by the Spirit and perservere to the end.

    Anyway - I love you. I'm not trying to be critical, but please keep an open mind. God bless.

  6. Anna Lisa –

    Thank you for commenting! :)

    Just a few questions and thoughts… a friendly discussion, if you will!

    1. “I grew up Mormon… Brainwashed into believing it too. Until I was about 14 I broke free.”
    >>> Based on that statement, you realize that they are teaching false doctrine. You have “broken free” from that… “religion” (for lack of a better word), and I doubt you would ever go back. They teach that Jesus was just a “good man”, a “prophet”… they do not believe that Jesus Christ is the co-equal WITH God, Son of God, member of the Divine Trinity. Knowing that the Mormons teach a false doctrine, would you encourage a truth-teaching church to work WITH them…? My guess is no.
    So then let’s look at it this way. Jesus taught HIS doctrine, the truth – that He is “the Life, the Truth, and the Way”. The Scribes and Pharisees taught another doctrine: That Jesus was just a man… actually they claimed that He cast devils out in “Beelzebub, the prince of the devils” name (Matthew 12:24-28). So while Jesus ministered TO the Pharisees in the Temple, he did not minister WITH them. Why? Because they had two different doctrines. They cannot mix. We cannot tip-toe around with those who teach false doctrine to promote their religion and effectively get the job done that Christ has commanded us to do.

    2. “We should view every person in the world, be they Muslim, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, whatever - view them for the potential that God has in store for them, not by what church they attend.”
    >>> This article was not posted to pass judgment on people who have been bought into false religions. God loves everyone. It’s not the sinner He hates… it’s the SIN of the sinner. However, aside from that: this article is not about individuals – it’s about truth, the church as a whole, and the doctrine they teach.

    3. “We cannot obtain true righteousness by our own efforts, or by choosing to follow the correct church.”
    >>> I can agree with this statement. But again, this article has nothing to do with an individual’s righteousness. For as God clearly states in His Word: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6). Salvation is through Christ and Christ alone. I am by no means saying that you can obtain salvation by being a Baptist. Many Baptists die with a HEAD knowledge of the Savior, but not a HEART knowledge of Him. Baptist Church Members die every day without a true profession of Christ as their Savior and split Hell wide open. Church membership is not what gets us to Heaven – we can only get there through the Door (John 10:9). There is no back door, garage door, patio door… Only a front Door, and His name is Jesus.

    Thank you again for commenting, and putting words to your thoughts! :)

    I hope you have a wonderful day!

    ~ Heather :)

  7. Freewillism is a False Gospel --->

  8. Hi Heather --

    Hyles is quite wrong about why the evangelical movement was started. Harold Ockenga believed that after losing the fundamentalist-modernist controversies separatism had led to a situation where fundamentalist churches and hence fundamentalist doctrines were simply irrelevant to American life. Christian fundamentalism in his view had fallen from being the dominant form of Christianity, to being a viable alternative to being a small collection of minor niches with little impact.

    In a country overrun by heretical Christianity separating from Christian heresy was in effect separating from the culture not much different than what Luther had rejected when he rejected the monastic movement.


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