Sunday, August 10, 2014

Faith Baptist Church: An Independent Baptist Church

Last Sunday, I went to Faith Baptist Church, an independent church here in Northern Utah. From reading their website, I wasn't terribly interested in checking them out as I have already surveyed an independent, fundamentalist Baptist church. (See my blog on Berean Baptist Church.) But this church was the childhood church of a friend of mine who comes to many of these services with me. I felt because of that, we needed to go here so he could come full circle.

I will very briefly outline Faith Baptist Church's beliefs as they're very similar to Berean Baptist's beliefs.
  • Belief in the Trinity.
  • Belief Jesus was the Messiah who died for the sins of mankind, was resurrected, and will come again to judge mankind and reign forever.
  • Mankind is totally depraved without any good in him.
  • Mankind is saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus without works.
  • The Bible is the Word of God, without error in its original form. The King James Version is the only endorsed and acceptable translation for English speakers.
  • Practice baptism for those who have accepted Jesus as their savior. Baptism is a symbol of dying and rising in Christ and required for membership in the Church. Baptism is done only by full immersion.
  • Practice communion as a symbol of joining in Christ's atonement.
  • Belief in a literal 6 day creation period 6,000 years ago. Any other opinion or theory is condemned.
  • Autonomy of the local church.
  • Only sex between a man and woman lawfully wed is allowed. All other forms of sexuality condemned including porn, homosexuality, bisexuality, etc.
So what was it like?


The exterior of Faith Baptist is pretty plain. A beige building with a cross on the top of it. There is a small K - 6 school next to the chapel, and a sign in front of the church with various sayings that alternate on it. The message on it this time was, "Grace is free, but it's not cheap." Which doesn't logically make any sense, but whatever.

The interior (which there is a picture of, but it's not great quality) was contemporary style, white walls, lots of beige and off white accent colors, it reminded me of the Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall, but much more beautifully decorated. The chapel was decorated the same way with a stage that was about 6 feet off the ground with wooden stairs leading up the front of it. In the back of the stage was a choir loft and a curtain. with a cross above it. My friend told me that the baptismal font was behind the curtain.

Along the walls of the church were a bunch of flags from various countries. It turns out this represents where they have missionaries. I guess they're a heavily mission oriented church. Some of the countries represented included: The US, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Russia, Germany, South Korea, Kenya, Israel, California (apparently it's own country), Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Australia.

Overall, I liked the interior decorations of the church, while the outside was very simplistic and kind of bland.

The People:

The people were nice to us. They ranged the gamut of backgrounds, young and old, many races, people dressed in suits and dresses and some dressed more casually. I was surprised at how many of them there were, a couple hundred at least. Most churches I've been around here to have had only a couple dozen people. A few have had more people, obviously the LDS church, the Catholic church, and a couple of the Evangelical churches I've been to. I wasn't expecting to see so many

Pretty much everyone around us came and introduced themselves. This was the extent of the pleasantries with most. Overall, they were nice, diverse, and a large congregation.

The Service:

The service was fairly typical of what I expect from Baptist churches. It started with someone welcoming everybody, a song, then they had a little speech where the person said we needed to pray for missionaries, and spread the gospel, that dying while serving a mission is the best way to die, but we don't want our missionaries to because they have work to do for Jesus. He then said that Israel needs our prayers right now because of what's going on with them and Palestine. They praised Israel for what they were doing and then took up a collection. It's unclear by what he said if some of the money was going to help Israel or really where the money was going. But this part started me off on the wrong foot with them.

After that there were some more hymns. The hymns were traditional style hymns performed on a piano with the words projected onto two screens to follow along. We sang a few of them, with the choir singing in the choir loft in the back.

After the hymns, they read the scripture which was from Matthew and spoke of not casting your pearls before swine. For the reading, everyone stood up and then sat down right after it was read.

The pastor then delivered his sermon, which I will talk about in the next section. After that there was a prayer then an altar call.

Overall, a fairly typical service for low church Protestants. No real surprises as far as structure of the service.

The Message:

The sermon was on the topic of not giving that which is holy away to the wickedness of this world. That was only very loosely the topic. The sermon actually jumped around a lot from one hot button issue to the next.

It started with him saying that Satan is actively pursuing you. Satan doesn't want you to hear this message, and that him and his forces seek to ruin you and separate you from God.

He then said that all life is sacred. He went on this tirade about abortion, saying that there is never a time when it is justified. He then said that once you start killing babies, you move to killing old people.

Then he said we're all made in the image of God. He said that you see a homeless person on the street corner begging for change. And you know that person could go help themselves because there are programs out there to help them, but they don't. But you still need to feel compassion for them because they're made in the image of God. This was quite an awful message to hear coming form the pulpit of a Christian church and a message I could never see Jesus promoting. Much of the message of Jesus was about helping the poor, not condemning them as being unwilling to change their lives, then turning around and dressing that up with saying, "But be compassionate towards them." Compassion would be to sympathize with them, to go out of your way to help them, not judge and condemn them. Most of us aren't too far away from being homeless. A few lost paychecks and one trip to the unemployment line can send many of us there.

After this, he talked about how we shouldn't think we know better than God. He talked about how God formed stars just by saying a word. This isn't how stars form, but I can see the point he was trying to make.

He then moved on to talk about sexuality, which was quite random in the sermon. He said that sex is sacred and that our culture doesn't view sex correctly. He said that he wanted to be frank and let the youth know what was and wasn't sex. He said that anything sexual at all done outside of marriage was fornication. This meant masturbation, looking at porn, touching someone else's body, watching someone perform a sexual act in front of you, homosexuality, premarital sex, oral sex, all of it was equally sex and equally sinful. He said if you commit any of these sexual sins, you're sinning against God, yourself, and your future spouse. In a sense, you're cheating on your future spouse and not bringing yourself to the marriage altar undefiled.

This message really bothers me for several reasons. First off, it condemns sexuality which is something natural and healthy in humans. Sex is written into our DNA and is a primal instinct the vast majority of us have that is impossible to truly repress. Everybody has sexual thoughts, everybody masturbates. People often lie about it because of societal pressures, particularly religious pressures, will lie about masturbating, but it is something all humans enjoy. Most of my generation has watched pornography fairly regularly from adolescence onward, again with a large portion of people lying about it due to religious conviction. Many people will not make it to their weddings virgins, many who claim to have done so actually didn't, but lied about it.

This is a big problem I have with condemning sex. I promise you this pastor has masturbated. I promise you every member of that congregation has at some time in their lives. I promise you that that building is full of people being hypocritical and lying about their sexual activity. Condemning sex doesn't actually stop people from having sex. Usually all it does is make people lie about sex and fills people with shame and guilt over something they shouldn't.

I grew up in a culture that said all these same things about sex and felt like I was a monster because I was gay, masturbated, watched porn, and ended up losing my virginity at 15. But I got very good at lying about all of it. I felt like I was a fraud and I was convinced that I was the only one like this. Then I discovered that everyone was like this. We all had a sex drive, we all were masturbating, most if not all of us were looking at porn, a etc. The day I realized all of this guilt and shame I had felt, the times it had driven me to depression was for something everybody else was doing I became quite upset.

And that was another big problem I had with that message, was that it was targeted towards the youth of the congregation. Most of these young people will believe anything you tell them and they will end up feeling depressed, some might become suicidal if you tell them these things. Some will act out and figure if they're going to go to Hell for masturbation, they might as well do the rest. Many will seek unhealthy avenues of sexual release. Ironically, many of the youth will explore avenues the church doesn't want them to because they view sex in this way.

Overall, this sermon touched on every major topic that bothers me about modern Christianity. It left me sort of angry and didn't make me feel very positively about this church and what it teaches people.

Overall Experience:

The church was pretty inside, the music was decent, the people nice, the message was atrocious. That's pretty much all of my feelings for this church in one sentence. 

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