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I live in a small subdivision in Longview, Texas. Mrs. Gray and I have lived there for over three
decades. We love our home and we enjoy our
neighborhood. For the most part, all of the people in
our neighborhood are good people and fine
neighbors. If you asked me to describe the spirit of
our neighborhood, I would choose the word harmony.
Let me explain what I mean. My neighbors and our family are totally different in almost every way. We have different
careers or jobs. We have different likes and dislikes.
We do not share all of the same beliefs or values. We
are not alike in very many ways. We are all independent homeowners. 

However, because we all
live in the same neighborhood we have a common
cause. That cause is the safety and welfare of the
neighborhood in which we live. We want to keep our
children safe. We want to maintain the value of our
homes. We want to keep the neighborhood clean and
not allow it to become dilapidated. We respect our 

common cause and that brings harmony.
However, unified is not the word I would choose to define our neighborhood. We do not have
unity because all of us have different ideas and
values. We do not come together and decide for
whom we will all vote. We do not send our children to
the same colleges or even the same schools. We do
not eat the same diet or follow the same standards of
dress. We do not check up on each other to see if we are all raising our children the right way. Although we are not living in unity we can still live in harmony.
Unity is impossible in my neighborhood. I cannot unite with the Mormons down the street or with
the guy who is a beer distributor. In matters of the
neighborhood we must be in harmony, but I cannot be
in unity with them. I have an independent home so I
cannot unite with the other neighbors, but I can be a harmonious neighbor.

The same is true with other independent
Baptist churches. I cannot unite with many other
churches, but I can be in harmony with them. Some of
them are not as strong as I am on the King James
Bible, while others have different standards and
convictions. I believe in being in harmony, but not

I actually love harmony and seek to live my life with as much harmony as is possible. Unfortunately,
many Independent Baptists are either too eager for
unity or too stubborn and prideful for harmony. The
great men of the previous generation who are my
heroes were men who understood the distinction and
who appreciated the value of harmony. These men
had the ability to be bigger than their differences. As
long as they did not unite, they were fine. The effort at
unity often destroys harmony. Great causes are not perpetuated by unity but by harmony.
Weakness loves unity because it gives security. It is interesting that it is usually the weaker
person who seeks unity with the stronger person. A
weak position validates itself with unity. By asking us
to unify with them, they are asking us to compromise
our positions. However, they like to vilify us then as being divisive when we refuse.

If the preacher who has weaker standards wants unity, why doesn’t he raise his standards rather
than expecting others to lower theirs? I will tell you
why. Unity is Satan’s tool for compromise. Harmony
allows me to get along with my neighbor while
maintaining my positions.

When you and I are in harmony, what I do only affects you if you chose to allow it to do so. If my
neighbor decides to put a pool in his backyard, I may
decide to build a taller fence. That way we won’t have
to see the near-nudity. If a college changes their
standards, I don’t have to send my students. If my
neighbor attacks me because I protected my family
from something then they started the fight. If a man
attacks me because I choose to pull away since he
compromised, that is his choice. I will do my best to
maintain harmony, but not at the expense of my family or my position.
Now suppose my neighbor says, “Bob, you are ruining the unity in the neighborhood by not attending
the drunken block party. You need to come and bring
your family so we can have unity.” My answer is,
“Neighbor, if you want unity then why don’t we have a
block Bible study instead?” He will not do it because its is not unity he wants. It is compromise. 

I have separated myself from churches, preachers, and colleges because they changed their
position. They accuse me of not wanting unity. It was not I who changed but them. I did not want unity in the
first place. I wanted harmony. They changed and now
they want me to be in unity with their changes. They
attack me for not changing with them and destroy the
harmony. I respond with my position, which has not
changed so therefore, I am accused of being divisive.
I may like them, but liking or disliking someone or some institution is not the point of topic.

I have preacher friends whose position is different from mine on certain standards. We live in
harmony, but not in unity. I cannot send my teens to
their activities because of the standards, but I can
treat them kindly and graciously. Unfortunately, they
often take my unwillingness to unify personally and
attack which destroys the harmony. I have discovered
that the first shot is usually fired by the one who wants
to be justified for his weaker position, not the one in the stronger position.
My pastor Dr. Jack Hyles lived harmoniously with many preachers who were very different than he was. He
preached with them and for them and even had some
preach for him. He was not looking to unite nor were
they. They lived in harmony because they did not
seek to live in unity.

Sadly, there are those who classify my convictions as preferences. They demand I give up
my convictions and convert them to preferences to
satisfy them and be in unity with them. I refuse to do
so. I will not call their convictions preferences and they should not call my convictions preferences.

I fear Satan is attempting to bring a denominationalist mindset to our Independent
Baptists. For one to rebuke another as being
unbalanced simply because they do not submit to
another’s definition of convictions is unbalanced.
Harmony says that I can choose to go to a certain conference or not. Harmony can exist without there being a demand for “unity.” We have no headquarters. We
are all independent of each other. We should seek to have harmony but not unity. I love old-fashioned hymn singing in church. I know some good men who use bluegrass style music.

I am not seeking unity with those men, but I plan to be
in harmony with them. I seek not to unify them to me
or me to them. If they step over the line and begin
using rock music then my definition of harmony
changes. I will still be kind to them and treat them
lovingly but I will distance myself a bit further from
them. If they try to influence my church with their rock
philosophy, then we have a serious problem. Once
they seek to influence me or mine, I must take a
stand. Harmony does not live in the same house as unity.

There are different levels of harmony. 

Getting along is not unity. It is harmony. The extent to
which I get along can differ. I can get along with my
Mormon neighbors, but I am going to keep a greater
distance from them than I am with the Southern
Baptist family or even the non-denominational family.

The same is true with other preachers. There are
some men with whom I am in closer harmony than
with others. Some are drifting further and further away
from the truths in which I believe, so I am less in
harmony with them. They change, but call me divisive for not changing.

I struggle with the level of harmony some have today with the Rick Warrens of this world. When Rick
Warren’s son committed suicide, my heart broke for
him. I prayed for him and his wife. I hope souls are saved in his ministry. I am in harmony with the man
but not with his philosophies. I do not…WILL NOT
attend his conferences to learn his methods, NOR will
I attend a conference of an Independent Baptist
pastor who receives and teaches methods from Rick
Warren. I will have harmony with both, but at a different level.
Our ability to maintain harmony without infringing on others’ independence will create an
atmosphere that will result in a flourishing
Independent Baptist movement. However, when one
in our ranks attempts to lead us to men like Warren, I
cannot and WILL NOT be in close harmony with

Unity seeks acceptance of our differences. 
Harmony seeks acceptance of the fact that there are
differences. For example, my neighbor may paint their
house a shade of green that I don’t care for. Unity
says that I must paint my house the same color.
Harmony says that I accept their right to do so, but
paint my house with the color I choose. We struggle
with this because we think we have to be the same to
get along. We will not have revival in our ranks until
we become harmonious independents. 

We will also
destroy our movement if we do not stay right if we do not understand unity and harmony. In order for this to be accomplished, we must allow pastors to have different convictions than us.
Perhaps one pastor’s convictions are stricter than the
other’s is. Rather than attack them and call them
unbalanced, the stricter standard should be
applauded. I know a pastor who will not allow anyone
to join his church unless they give up their television
sets. The truth is my wife would never join that church. She will never give up Barney Fife for anyone.

Satan would have our churches to be in
unity because he can get a foothold much easier
if we do. 
The beauty of God’s plan with the
Independent Baptist church is the protection of the
propagation of the Gospel. Where is the church of
Ephesus? Where is the church of Jerusalem? Where
is the church of Corinth? Where are the churches of
Asia Minor? Those local churches have ceased to exist, but God’s promise of His local church prevailing against the gates of Hell is because of independence.

This current homogenization of independent churches is not what God had in mind, but it does
play into the hands of Satan. Those who push for
unity of conviction and call those who refuse
“unbalanced” open a crack in the door toward
denominationalism and allows Satan opportunity. I
watched this happen with the attack on inspiration, for
soon there was a flood of young men who preached
“Polly-parroting” messages of the same thing, not
realizing what they were saying. If this attack on local
church convictions succeeds, watch the next group of young men push even harder for “unity.”

Beware of unity of ideas. 
For many years, I conducted the National Soul Winning Clinic in
Longview, Texas. We taught hundreds and thousands of ministry ideas in those years. The men who came
to the clinic were not asked to be in a unity with me
and to implement my ideas. It was open shopping or
as Dr. Hyles called it, “cafeteria style.” Take what you
felt could help you and leave the other. 
Unity of ideas
creates uniformity and that is not what makes Independent Baptist churches effective. 
Two churches of like faith should be in
harmony, but never in unity. 
I loved Dr. Jack Hyles.
I was a member of First Baptist Church and a graduate of the first four-year class of Hyles-Anderson
College. However, I never sought unity between First
Baptist Church and Longview Baptist Temple, nor did
Dr. Hyles want me to. We were in harmony, but not in
unity. Had we been in unity, it would have done more
damage to us when the First Baptist Church deviated
for a season. I have great harmony with Pastor
Wilkerson, but we are not seeking unity in our ministries.

Satan would have us live in disharmony
because he can weaken us easier if we constantly
attack one another. 

The harmony aspect of our
Independent Baptist neighborhood is crucial, but
when it morphs into injecting each other’s definition of
what another’s convictions ought to be, it allows
Satan an opportunity to destroy. We end up being
critical and call our brethren “unbalanced” simply
because they believe deeply about something.
Independent Baptists must live in harmony while rejecting the overpowering of one over another.

I trusted Christ at age 11 because that is what I wanted to do. Such was the case in my following the
Lord in baptism, joining an Independent Baptist
Church, and having the personal standards I have.
Basically, no one put a pistol to my head via peer pressure to cause me to trust Christ, get baptized, join
an Independent Baptist Church, have standards, tithe,
go soul winning, etc. Coercion was not a factor for me
and neither can it be in operation in our independent Baptist neighborhood. Each church is an autonomous entity. One particular autonomous stand may not be to the liking
of another autonomous ministry, but that is what
makes this miracle of independence work in this
neighborhood of ours.
Unity requires sameness in our positions,
but harmony allows differences. 
Here is the
challenge. I still believe that women ought to wear
dresses. Am I wrong to preach and practice what I
BELIEVE? I can be in harmony with a preacher who
BELIEVES differently. However, it is dangerous to
preach against what the other believes. I preach what
I believe, not what he does not believe. If he believes a woman SHOULD wear pants, then he should state
it, teach it, and preach it instead of being a secret disciple about it.
I fear some emulate the modus operandi of Mormons by hiding what they really believe, which is
dishonest. They grapple for the argumentative high
ground in order to vindicate. If it is a right practice
then SAY SO without hiding behind an “extra Biblical”
argument. I never preached on why it is not wrong to
own a television, because I was secure in not having
that belief.

Those who have no conviction about man’s apparel on females attack me and then accuse me of
causing disunity because I preach my belief. To
preach against me for believing something creates
disharmony. This is all in an effort to be a proponent
of unity, which, in its lowest common denominator, is nothing more than a weak attempt to justify a weak
position. The result is disharmony. The fundamental neighborhood is served better by harmony than unity.

Unity requires more compromise than
Conservatives call for harmony, while
liberal mindsets cry for unity. They like nothing more
than to cause us to compromise our values on the
altar of unity. Unity is designed for the local church.
Only liberal minds desire and cry for a union of local
churches because when their people hear another preacher call for God’s people to separate from the
world in specific terms, it scares the liberal. Usually it
is the one without a belief that attacks the one with a belief.

Unity requires cooperation in all matters.

Harmony requires respect in all matters. I do not have
the same lawn as my neighbors, but I do not drive my
car over their lawn either. I may not like the shrubs they choose, but I respect their right to choose them. I
would have chosen a different color paint for the
outside of their home, but I respect the shade they chose. Our homes are all independent.
As a local church, you have the right to choose what you call convictions and what you may call preferences. I have a right to do the same thing. Unity cannot exist unless there is a requirement for cooperation in all matters. You have
different ideas about how to administer Biblical
principles and that is fine. However, when unity enters the equation you lose all independence.
Unity requires organization and policing.

Recently, as I understand what is being put into print,
some leaders have decided that a few of us are
unbalanced. What are the criteria for such
judgments? Who is in charge of writing this lexicon for fundamentalism? How do we define this? How do we keep the unity?

In order for this unity to work, we must have an authority or a headquarters for a centralized mindset.
If we do not find a way to control the thinking of the
masses, these independents will continue to be
unbalanced and make the rest of us look bad. These
unbalanced Independent Baptists will ruin what
headquarters has in mind for us as a movement. 

Let’s all just remain independent in our convictions and be in harmony with the fundamental


A recently released book suggested that we change our name to “Blblical Baptists”. Historically,
we have never named ourselves. Our enemies do
that for us. This has an air of denominationalism to
me and I rebel at subtle attempts to degrade what our
forefathers lived and died for in our history.

I will cut my lawn, and trim my hedges as I so choose. I will paint my house the color I like. I will
plant the trees I want. Let me live in harmony please
and quit requiring unity. Unity says this is “THE” method. Harmony says here is “A” method.

Unity seeks to control position. 
Harmony seeks to control disposition. Unity requires that we
agree. Harmony allows us to disagree agreeably. The
ability to disagree agreeably can only subsist if
harmony is allowed to blossom freely without outside
control. The love of the brethren is available through
the Holy Spirit of God but is easily stifled through unity.
Unity seeks less while harmony accepts
There are men who are stricter than I am in
certain positions. These men challenge me. Lester
Roloff would have been rejected by most of our independent guys today. They think they would have
liked him, but he would have rubbed their sensitive
skin the wrong way and given them a rash. Brother
Roloff preached against television, junk food, cooked
food, coffee, homogenized milk, and even drinking
water with a meal. He was rough, but he challenged
us all to think. I never felt the need to undo him or to label him as unbalanced.
Thank God for the “unbalanced” on the right because they provide a bit of balance to the
unbalanced on the left.

The closer we get the more we must have
unity rather than just harmony. 
This is why Mrs.
Gray and I did not take vacations with other families,
even Christian ones. The minute I put myself in that
position I cease to be in a position of harmony and enter into a realm where there must be unity. If their
standards were different from ours, I would have to either compromise or fight them.
I fear we spend too much time away from our local churches in conferences and then find ourselves
forced to either compromise or fight. Dr. Hyles’
Pastors’ School was a tremendous success because
Dr. Hyles attracted thousands of men of God who
believed like him. Others have to attack in order to attract.
Harmony is kindness. 
Why do we think we have to be so mean with our independent brethren?
Many preachers are kinder to their Mormon neighbors
than they are to some other Independent Baptist preachers. When doctrine is attacked, it is up to all of us to rise to the occasion with the doctrine being the issue. Being kind is always the call of the day. We can all disagree without being disagreeable. Unity is not an enabler of kindness. Unity places demands on others. We want to maintain harmony without destroying our independence.
Harmony is compassion. 
When a neighbor has a heartbreak or tragedy, Mrs. Gray and I are
there to comfort and pray for them. My neighbors
know that I care even if I don’t attend their block
parties or unite in other things. They respect our Christian convictions without demanding that we unite. Compassion should never be withheld because of our differences, but should be extended for Christ’s
sake. I have often disagreed with my fundamental
brethren, but never was it personal. I want the harmony aspect, but I rebel at the call for unity.

Harmony is very limited cooperation. 
I am not a cooperator by nature. However, I am not
uncooperative either. I seek not to cooperate in most
matters with other independent homeowners or most
Independent Baptist churches. I will, however,
cooperate on that which is common to us. I supported
missionaries who were supported by churches with
which I would not agree nor they with me. I did not
stop supporting that missionary just because another
church does.

Harmony is consideration. 
I want to be a good neighbor. What does that mean? It means
showing respect, but it does not mean uniting with
them. I do not go to block parties, but I behave kindly
to everyone on my block. I do everything I can to
respect their property and their children. There are no
demands made on our independence and there is no
demand made on their independence. I want harmony, but I do not want unity because it would
violate our independence.

Harmony is careful correction. 
One day I was reading my email and I received an article from a
very good pastor for whom I have the highest respect.
He is a man I have preached for and with. I agree with
him on most matters. However, this article was
absolutely against what I believe and I felt very
flawed. In fact, it was on the subject of unity. In my
opinion, it was awful. Had he preached this in his church, I would have said nothing about it. However, since he published it for young preachers all over America to read, I felt I must deal with the issue. 
I wrote an article and posted it on my BLOG under SOLVECHURCHPROBLEMS.COM. I did not
mention his name although I was aware certain
people would know it was in response to his article. I
hoped the readers would understand my intention was to correct what I thought was wrong in his article.
Please understand, I was not attempting to correct
him. I was attempting to correct those who read it and did not see the error.
Let me give you another example. In Presidential elections past I DID NOT vote for Mr. Obama for President. In fact, I was for
whoever was running against him. A few of my neighbors put Obama campaign signs up in their
yards. Now unity would say that I should put Obama
signs up in my yard. Some would say that I should
pull the Obama signs up and burn them, but harmony
says I should leave others to their beliefs. If I want to counterbalance my neighbor then I should put
campaign signs up in my yard that promote my
candidate. However, when those with Obama signs
were outside of their homes I greeted them kindly.
Harmony minds its own business, but is
protective of its own business. 
I mean that literally.
It is not my business if my neighbor’s dog digs holes
in their own yard. However, it is my business if my neighbor’s dog starts digging holes in my yard.

Harmony is not pacifism. It stands for what affects its own.. What other pastors teach in their
churches about child rearing is not my business UNTIL it begins to infiltrate my church. MANY pastors
would do well to quit checking up on other pastors
and what they teach. If it does not affect you, mind your own business.

Harmony allows me to choose who
influences me and mine and allows others to
choose whether they allow me to influence them. 
There are Christian colleges I would not recommend,
but I can be in harmony with them. There are
preachers I would not invite to speak with me, but I
can be in harmony with them. There are places I
would not go to preach, but with which I can be in
harmony. Harmony allows us to be independent and choose without being hateful.

So why does the Bible say that we should dwell together in unity? The answer is in the words
“dwell together.” Where we are joined, we should seek unity in our spirits. A home should be in unity. A church should be in unity. Those in the family should be in unity with the
re st of the family. However, wherever we have sought unity outside of these, we have seen compromise.

Unity is a home under the leadership of the father and a church under the leadership of the
pastor. These positions are not dictatorial, but they are the leadership of those institutions.
The only types of churches in the Scriptures are local churches. They are not universal or invisible.
Each must strive to live in unity with the spirit of
harmony in their own church. No local church should
demand unity of all local churches, but they can provide harmony.
Now here is where I want to make an emphasis. I believe that many Independent Baptists are right on unity, but wrong on harmony. As an
independent fundamental neighborhood, we can live
together in harmony, but we cannot live together in
unity. As an Independent Baptist church we can, on a
local basis, live in unity, which requires being
protective of our independence. 

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