Bob Gray is the former pastor of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church, (IFB) the Longview Baptist Temple in Longview, Texas. He pastored the church for decades and then passed off the franchise to his son. Gray is a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College and is a noted conference speaker and disciple and defender of the late Jack Hyles.
I have always wondered how people like Gray can continue to defend Jack Hyles knowing what we now know about him. (see my series, Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap) Gray has to know that Hyles was an adulterer and a liar, but he still considers Hyles a Hero of the Faith, a man worthy of emulation. Why is this?
In a recent blog post, Gray revealed WHY he still considers Jack Hyles a Hero of the Faith, a man that most preachers are unworthy to even lick the dust off his sandals. He doesn’t mention Hyles or any other IFB preacher by name, but, it is clear that Gray is quite a forgiving person when it comes to the peccadilloes of the preacher fraternity.
Bob Gray believes in a principle he calls, averaging life. Let me explain this principle to you. We know, based on the Bible, that:
- Moses was a murderer
- Abraham was an adulterer
- Lot committed incest with his daughters
- Jacob was a liar and a thief
- David was an adulterer and a murderer
- Noah got drunk and perhaps committed a homosexual act
- Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines
Yet, the Bible says:
- Moses was a prophet God knew face-to-face
- Abraham was God’s friend
- Lot was a righteous man
- Jacob was a prince of God
- David was a man after God’s heart
- Noah was a preacher of righteousness
- Solomon was the wisest man in the world
Rather than seeing how inconsistent it is to say that David, an adulterer and murderer, is a man after God’s own heart, Gray comes up with a novel way of reconciling this inconsistency. Gray writes:
How can all of these cases be true? What was God thinking? Maybe this is what God did. Could it be that He looked at each individual’s life and average out that life? Did God take one day and grade it? Did he then take the next day and grade it?
Did God, at the end of their lives, average out their days and then come to the conclusion that on an average Moses was a “servant,” David was a “…a man after mine own heart,” Noah was a “preacher of righteousness,”Lot had a “just” and “righteous soul,” and Solomon was a “wise” man?
God is not saying that Moses never did anything wrong. God is saying the average came out to be such that God called him “my servant.” God is saying the same thing about Abraham. God is saying that He averaged out Abraham’s life and his average was defined in the word “friend.”
God summarizes Moses’ life taking into account the bad days, good days, and high days giving him the average grade of “my servant.” God did the same with all of the above people mentioned…
…The professional baseball player who will lead his league in hitting will be the one with the highest average. The Valedictorian for the class of 2013 will be the one with the highest average. Isn’t this a wonderful thought? Think about it! God will not judge any of His people by bad days, or by high days; He will judge all of the days and give an average…
…Let us consider all of the good things people have done and average it ALL out. A pastor is never happy when someone leaves their church. However, I refuse to be a part of this crowd that says, “What have you done for me lately?” How about changing the motto to “What have you done for me formerly?” Averaging it out will cause you to keep a right spirit about those who forsake you and to keep a right spirit about those who are currently involved in your life…
In one blog post, Gray finally explains for me why he and many other IFB pastors continue to support and defend the legacy of men like Jack Hyles. According to Gray, one Aw-Shit should not cancel out five Atta-boys. In other words, since there is no sin God cannot or will not forgive, it is possible for an adulterous, lying, pastor or a pedophile pastor like the other Bob Gray in Jacksonville, Florida, to redeem themselves and restore the favor of God in their lives.
As an IFB pastor, Gray savages those who believe that rightness with God can be gained by good works. Countless people believe that as long as their good outweighs their bad, that all will be well between them and God.
Gray surely calls such thinking works salvation and thinks these kind of people are not Christians. Yet, once a person has prayed the sinners prayer, once they have followed the One-Two-Three, repeat after me, bastardized salvation plan of IFB preachers like Bob Gray, as long as their good outweighs their bad, we should view the person in a positive light.
While Gray will never say publicly for fear of being lynched…Look at all the good that Jack Schaap did. After all, he only sexually violated one teenage girl. On average, his good works far outweigh his bad, according to his averaging life principle, he surely must think that Schaap’s good outweighs the bad.
For Gray, it becomes quite easy to excuse and justify the bad things that IFB pastors do. Gray wants people to forgive and move on. He wants people to judge the fallen IFB pastors based on their total record, and not just on the few bad things they have done.
What Gray seems to not understand is that some bad behaviors (sins according to the Bible) should never be forgiven and the person committing the bad act (s) must NEVER be given a pass on their conduct.
It doesn’t matter how much good Jack Schaap did. He manipulated and violated a young girl and he deserves to rot in prison for what he did. I am sure Gray thinks that the lawsuit the girl filed against Schaap and the church is wrong. Look at all the good First Baptist of Hammond has done, Gray will say. Yes, they did a lot of good things. And they also enabled predatory preachers and stood by and did little to nothing while these preachers destroyed the lives of others. They should NOT be given a free pass, and if this suit results in the church being crippled, let it be a reminder to other churches that ignoring predatory and manipulative behavior by church leaders will be costly.
Gray probably thinks that God will give Schaap a second chance to redeem himself while in prison. Maybe he will start a ministry. Surely, Schaap deserves to be known for the good he has done rather than a moment of “weakness” where he manipulated and preyed on a girl he was counseling.
If you want to know why the IFB church movement has such a problem with abusive, dishonest, and predatory preachers, you need to look no further than Gray’s idea of averaging out a person’s life.
Some things in the grand scheme of life don’t matter. I am all for giving people a second chance. However, when it comes to things like murder, incest, child abuse, and pedophilia, it is one strike and you are out. No passing GO, no getting a second chance.
Lurking in the shadows of the IFB church movement are countless preachers who are saying Amen to Gray’’s idea of averaging out life. They promise God, I will be different this time, God. Really. I promise to leave kids alone. I promise to keep my fly zipped up. I promise not lie, cheat, and steal. Really…Lord.
And off they go…as a leopard that cannot change its spots…doing the very things they promised God they would never do again.
I am all for forgiveness and second chances. However, to suggest that we only judge a person’s life on average minimizes the bad that some people do.
Jack Hyles was an adulterer who routinely lied to people. He was a megalomaniac who mentally and emotionally damaged countless people. There can be no defense of his behaviors and until the Bob Gray and the IFB church movement understands this, they will continue to be a haven for preachers who use their power and authority to prey on others and harm them emotionally, mentally, and at times, physically.
Do you think my words are harsh? Good. Unlike Gray, I am not willing to give bad-behaving preachers a pass. I am not willing to give David, Noah, Lot, or Abraham a pass either. I look at these “great” men of faith and I ask myself, is this is the best Christianity has to offer? If these men are the “pillars” of the faith…dare any person be in a room alone with a man who calls himself a man of God?
Instead of coming up with a method for dismissing the bad things people do and remembering them for only the good they have done, we should see people as they are and we should never give them a pass when it comes to behaviors that savage and destroy people. These predators and abusers don’t deserve forgiveness nor do they deserve a do-over.
As the Bible says, to whom much is given, much is required. To give them a pass and only remember them for the good they have done is to violate their victims all over again. I, for one, am not willing to do this and I suspect most of the readers of this blog are willing to do so either.