The Legacy of Jack Hyles

jack hyles

Jack Hyles, pastor First Baptist Church Hammond

From 2012, updated and rewritten

Members of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana and people closely associated with Hyles-Anderson College and Pastor Jack Schaap were astonished at the firing of  Schaap for sexual misconduct with a minor and his later criminal conviction for these crimes. Evidently these people have a short memory or live in denial because First Baptist Church has a long history of pastors getting themselves in trouble with the fairer sex. (please read Chicago Magazine feature story on First Baptist and their sordid history)

Jack Schaap’s father-in-law, Jack Hyles, had an illicit sexual relationship with his secretary. The evidence against Hyles was overwhelming, yet the church rejected the evidence and Jack Hyles continued to pastor the church until his death in 2001. (Please read The Biblical Evangelist’s report on Jack Hyles)

David Hyles, the son of Jack Hyles and youth pastor of the church, had numerous sexual relationships with women in the church. The church quietly sent him away to pastor another church, not telling the new church about his sexual proclivities, and he continued to have numerous sexual relationships with women in the new church.

Many people praised the church for publicly exposing Jack Schaap’s “sin.” This is the same church that ignored Jack Hyles’ “sin”, covered up David Hyles’ “sin”, and whitewashed numerous other scandals in the Church and College, so forgive me if I don’t think they are acting “better” than the Catholic Church. (as one commenter said)

The people of First Baptist Church were taught by Hyles and Schaap that if they didn’t see something it didn’t happen. They were taught that unless an allegation could be confirmed by two or more witnesses (Matthew 18) they were not to believe it. This kind of thinking resulted in a culture where “sin” was ignored or swept under the proverbial rug. (a rug that is so high now that you have to walk up a five foot hill to get into the church)

In general, the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement abhors scandal and they do everything they can to cover it up. More important than the sin or the victims is the church’s testimony. The church’s testimony must be protected at all costs, even if  they ignore a pedophile in their midst like Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida did. (Please read Stop Baptist Predators articles on Trinity and Bob Gray)

For First Baptist Church of Hammond to out Jack Schaap they had to have been backed into a corner without the option of covering it up or quietly making the “problem” go away. Calling in attorney David Gibbs to “manage” the crisis speaks volumes about depth of the scandal.

The root of the Jack Schaap scandal is found in the ministry, teaching, and doctrine of his predecessor, Jack Hyles. The remainder of this post will focus on Jack Hyles. It is impossible to understand the Jack Schaap story without first looking at Jack Hyles’ forty-two year ministry at First Baptist Church of Hammond. (a church that was an American Baptist Church until Hyles pulled it out of the Convention a few years after he arrived there in 1959)

In its heyday, First Baptist Church of Hammond was the largest church in the United States. (and, at times, claimed to be the largest church in the world) The Church was built around two things: the bus ministry and Jack Hyles.

jack hyles 1973

Jack Hyles, 1973

The Church saw attendances exceeding 25,000 people. At the center of this huge church was its Pastor, Jack Hyles. In the late 1960’s and 1970’s Jack Hyles was, what many of us described, the pope of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church movement. He authored numerous books with titles like Let’s Go Soulwinning, Let’s Build an Evangelistic Church, Enemies of Soulwinning, The Hyles Church Manual,How to Rear Infants, How to Rear Children, How to Rear Teenagers, Satan’s Bid for Your Child, Marriage is a Commitment, Woman the Completer, and Blue Denim and Lace.

There is a hard-fast rule in the IFB movement. The bigger the church attendance the more authority you are granted and the more weight your words have. I heard countless big name IFB pastors say, “until you have as many eggs in your basket as I do you have no right to criticize me.” Pastors with small churches were looked down on and were expected to shut up and learn from those whose basket were overflowing with eggs.

From 1976 to 1989, I heard Jack Hyles preach numerous times. I traveled to a number of Sword of the Lord Conferences, often taking people from the churches I pastored with me. Hyles was a dynamic preacher, a real motivator. He used very little of the Bible in his preaching. His sermons were always topical or textual and were littered with personal stories and illustrations.

Hyles was a narcissist. Most of his stories and illustrations were about his own personal life and exploits. His stories about he and his mother are legendary.

Over time, as I became more and more dissatisfied with the IFB movement, I paid closer attention to the substance of Hyles’ sermons. In particular, I focused on the stories that Hyles told. I came to the conclusion that Hyles was a narcissistic liar.

Hyles would often talk about how important and busy he was. In several sermons he talked about how many people he counseled every week. I sat down and did the math and I concluded it was physically impossible for Hyles to have counseled as many people each week as he claimed.

Hyles was a ruthless man. I watched him, during Q and A time, at a conference at the Newark Baptist Temple,  dress down and belittle pastors for asking the “wrong” question. He refused to allow anyone to challenge his authority as the king of the IFB hill.

To understand the scandals at First Baptist Church in Hammond, we must understand the gospel that has been preached at First Baptist for over 50 years. It is the same gospel that is/was preached by men like Bob Gray of Texas, Bob Gray of Jacksonville, Curtis Hutson, Dennis Corle, and thousands of other IFB pastors.

Jack Hyles preached a bastardized version of the Christian gospel. The Hyles gospel has been labeled as decisional regeneration or one, two, three, repeat after me. I used to label the gospel of the IFB church movement as:

  • win them
  • wet them
  • work them
  • waste them
lets go soulwinning

Jack Hyles, Let’s Go Soulwinning

The only thing that mattered was winning souls. IFB Evangelist Dennis Corle told me one time that I should spend more time soulwinning and less time studying in preparation to preach on Sunday.

In the IFB church, the key to church growth is to keep more people coming in the front door than are going out the back door. IFB churches are notorious for turning over their church memberships, especially when a pastor leaves and a new one comes in.

The Hyles gospel focused on praying the sinners prayer. Pray this prayer and you are saved.  Good works? They were desired and even expected, but if a saved person never exhibited any change in their lives they were still considered saved.

If a pastor dared suggest that new life in Christ meant a change of conduct they were accused of preaching “works salvation.” (the Lordship Salvation controversy) According to the Hyles gospel, it was all about praying the prayer, and once a person prayed the prayer they could NEVER EVER be lost again. This is why some people insist that I am still saved, even if I don’t want to be. Once God has you he never lets go of you.

The Hyles gospel filled churches with people who had made a mental assent to a set of propositional facts. Every year churches like First Baptist Church in Hammond and Longview Baptist Temple report thousands of people being saved. Most of these new converts stop attending after a short while, but this is of no consequence. They prayed the “prayer”. On to the next sinner in need of saving.

The IFB church movement is centered on men. Most IFB churches are pastored by one man who has total control of the church. Most IFB churches are congregational in name only, with the pastor being the autocratic king of the church.

david hyles greatest men

Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Jim Krall, World’s Greatest Men

Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, and countless other big-name IFB traveling preachers routinely promote the notion of pastoral authority. The pastor, under the authority of Jesus and powered by the Holy Spirit, is the final authority in the church. He is the hub around which everything turns.

IFB churches are not known for their name but for who their pastor is. IFB church members routinely say, when asked about what church they attend, I go to Pastor So-and So’s church.

Four years ago, in a post titled The Cult of Personality, I wrote:

Churches aren’t known for what they believe or even the works they do. They are known for who their pastor is. When asked where they go to Church a Christian will often say “I go to  Pastor Smith’s Church.”

The focus of everything is on the pastor. He is the mover and shaker. He is what powers the machine. Without him it all fails.

Christian TV, radio and publishing is all about the personalities within the Church. Name recognition is the name of the game.

Does anyone really believe Rod Parsley is a good writer? Yet, his books sell. Why? Name recognition.

Everything is focused on and culminates with the sermon and the preacher.

I had people drive 40 minutes to the Church I pastored in SE Ohio. They loved my preaching. They thought I was the greatest preacher since the last guy they thought was wonderful. Really? As much as I think that I am a pretty good public speaker, they had to drive past 40 Churches to get to the Church I pastored. Not one of those  Churches had a preacher that could preach competently? (well maybe not, after hearing more than a few preachers)

What happens when the pastor leaves the Church? What happens when the personalities change, when a new preacher takes over? Strife. Division. People leave the Church. Why? Because Church became about the preacher rather than about Jesus and serving others.

Why is it the pastor’s name is on everything? The sign out front. The bulletin . Every piece of literature the church produces. If it is really is all about Jesus then why does it matter if anyone knows the pastor’s name?

Ah, but it does matter. Many Evangelical Christians are good capitalists. (serving a socialist Jesus) They are consumers first and Christians second.  They know people are “attracted” (the attractional method) to the church by the pastor, the programs, the building, etc.

They know the pastor becomes the face of their church. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is, and quite frankly, it is the church itself that must bear the blame for this.

They revel in the cult of personality. They love having a name brand preacher. They watch Christians TV and listen to Christian radio because  Pastor/Rev/Dr/Evangelist/Bishop/Apostle so-and so is on. Take away the names and it becomes as interesting as eating a no-name hamburger at a no-name restaurant surrounded by no-name people…

Is it any wonder IFB pastors and churches have the scandals they do? Members are taught to obey their pastor without question. He is the man of God. If he is doing something wrong God will chastise him.

This kind of thinking allows IFB pastors to commit adultery, molest children, and steal from the church without anyone ever knowing about it. I could spend the next two days writing about IFB pastors who have abused their place of authority and committed heinous acts against the people they pastored.

IFB churches think they are above the world and other churches because of what they believe. They are Bible believers and their pastors preach hard against sin. Because of this, they have a hard time believing that their pastor or any other noted preacher could ever commit sins like Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, David Hyles, and Bob Gray did.

Bob Gray, pastor emeritus of Longview Baptist Temple had this to say on this blog about the Schaap scandal (I was unable to find the post on Gray’s blog) :

May I present the practical side?  There exists more molestation cases proportionately reported in the 42,000 churches of the Southern Baptist Convention than in the 22,000 independent Baptist churches.  Consider the largest denomination in our nation, the Catholic Church, and then think on their sexual transgressions for a while.  This is not to take lightly one person who is violated by a leader in a church.

Look carefully at the argument Gray is making here. The Southern Baptists and the Catholics are worse than us! Praise Jesus! Such thinking should sicken all of us.

Here is what I know about the IFB movement. They will wail and moan for a while, but, in a few weeks or months, the scandal will pass, and they will go back to “winning souls” and “preaching hard against sin.” It is only a matter of time before a-n-o-t-h-e-r scandal rocks the IFB movement. Until the IFB movement repudiates its corruption of the Christian gospel and changes how their churches are governed, there is no hope of meaningful change.

Change is not likely to come because of their literalism and belief in the inerrancy of the Bible. Armed with certainty, knowing they are right, they will continue to preach a corrupted gospel and allow narcissistic pastors to rule over them. Why? Because, it IS in the Bible…

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  1. Ian

    Bruce, this is the post that led me to you. My dad told me to look into the Jack Schaap story, so I started Google searching everything I could find.

    As a child, I heard whispered rumors about Hyles, but could never catch what was really going on. As I got older, Hyles became a name from the past, so he was no longer relevant to me. I had no reason to Google him because he was nothing to me. I even threw away the Bible he signed when it fell apart.

    Now that Schaap brought all of those names and memories back, I did quite a bit of reading about Hyles and his legacy. I have to say that the only good that I got from Hyles is finding this blog.

    BTW, our IFB churches used to host the superstar pastors in state. Hamilton Acres sent its pastor, Hugh Hamilton, to speak for us a few times. Yes, Hyles was king of the hill; but, in each state, there was also a ranking system.

  2. Ami

    “How to Rear Infants, How to Rear Children, How to Rear Teenagers,”

    Oh my god I hope he didn’t rear anyone else… although there aren’t many options left after that list.

    In seriousness, I saw more than one ‘overly friendly’ youth pastor, regular pastor and some pious elders who had wandering hands. I told my mom and dad about one of them. “Oh Brother Wayne is just affectionate. Huggy.”

    He sat next to me in church on Sunday mornings and ‘accidentally’ brushed the back of his hand on my leg repeatedly. When we were all supposed to hug the person to the front of us and the back of us etc he was VERY huggy indeed.

    He ended up in prison for ‘rearing’ his grandson.

    Praise Gawd.

  3. Ian

    We were in a church that believed in hugs. Hugs are fine, for the most part. There was a family that joined after we left who believed in HUGS. She is a busty woman and would grab people and pull them in, body to body. When we would visit, I would dread those hugs. I always told my wife they were full frontal hugs. Then, a few people started kissing on the lips, as in greeting with a holy kiss. That stayed between just those few people. I think there are well intentioned, but misguided people. Then, there are the true perverts.

  4. Pingback: From Hyles to Hitchens: My Journey Out of the IFB (Part 1) | "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

  5. Mr A. Monday

    I attended Liberty for 3 years in the 90s. I left to H.A.C. to complete my degree. The reason for leaving Lynchburg was many. At H.A.C., it was strict. I was in the bus ministry. I really enjoyed it. Pastor Hyles’ preaching was ok imo. All churches have creeps I guess. They tend to go where kids are at,IE schools, scouts, churches, YMCA,etc. There is no perfect church. Liberty was more of a different brand of Christianity,IE. Music, dress ,philosophy of Christian education, etc. That’s why I left.
    Finally, I went to Purdue to get my M.ed. I still attended FBC. I personally never saw any immorality, but I’m sure in any organization that large, one could find something. I knew of a Purdue faculty professor getting fire for having sex with a student. Age was not the issue, both were legal adults, but faculty members cannot date a student in their class.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks for commenting.

      The problem at FBC is not that sexual abuse, immorality, etc happens. It happens everywhere. The difference at FBC is WHO was doing it and the lengths they went to cover it up.

  6. Jeff

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s extremely needed. May I add that the rationalization for the “authority” of a pastor in an IFB church is that the “angels” of each church in Revelation is referring to the pastor of each one of them. Such is misguided and a corruption of the text that they claim to believe! And since those angels are “stars” in the right hand of Christ (see Rev. 1), the pastor (whether he openly claims this or not) becomes a “star” in his own mind. Such is incorrect in an egregious way, as nowhere else in Revelation are “angels” referred to as pastors. They say the word means “messenger” and so it does, but that term isn’t applied to a pastor/bishop/overseer anywhere else in the NT. So why is it applied to be pastors in Revelation 2 & 3. I think it is the bedrock rationale for having a one-man show, and they cannot let that go.

  7. Joseph Ben Arthur

    it’s amazing how some so called christian people who think they know the truth start judging great men like these instead of praying for them,anyway every saved person will leave this earth with something they failed at and a preacher or pastor is still a human and it’s bound to make mistakes.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Well, like many IFB commenters, you can’t read. I am not a Christian. However, I was a pastor for 25 years and I know what I know about Jack Hyles and the IFB church movement. So, David Hyles screwing his way through the church is a “mistake?” Jack Hyles having an affair with is secretary is a “mistake?” Jack Schaap seducing, manipulating and having sex with a teen age church girl is a “mistake?” Bob Gray molesting children is a “mistake?” Is there any failure or mistake that one of the IFB gods can do that you are willing to say that they are an evil, bad man?

      1. Jeff

        I do apologize for the many unbiblical stands and egregious actions over the years that have come under the heading of “IFB.” All of us are sinners, but these matters truly both disgust me and burden me to make a difference by sharing Scripture, NOT man-made ideas about Scripture that bring about corrupted actions. There are SO many practices among churches today that have absolutely no basis in the Bible, but are often used to beat people into submission to what one man thinks and says. God’s design for the church was NEVER to be under a CEO-type, pastor-driven organization, as the Bible clearly indicates that there should be multiple pastors in a given local church which was a city (church at Ephesus, Philippi, Thyatira, etc.; see also Titus 1:5). Nowadays, we have little “kingdoms” with their little “kings” that are a far cry from what God designed. The multiple pastors throughout a city would certainly be a hindrance to the authoritarian views/actions of many pastors. So, for what it’s worth, I apologize for the actions of many (so-called) pastors who have acted inappropriately.

      2. David Nicholes

        Dear Bruce,
        Like you I am 58. I grew up in NE Ohio; Cleveland Heights. My family was largely a peace, love, dope family of the 60’s and 70’s. My father and grandfather were former navy persons, so I joined the Navy to get some direction, a trade, and a chance to go to college. I was a total secularist never having once knowingly met a Christian person. I was converted in the Navy. I met some pleasant evangelical believers. Later I became deeply involved with Independent Baptists. One of my friends worshiped Jack Hyles. Mercifully God brought into my life a godly interdenominational expositional Bible teacher named Frank Sells. He taught us to ask God to “make union with Christ a mighty factor in our lives.” Jack Hyles preached multiple times at the college I attended in Chattanooga TN. where I met my wife in the bus ministry. God helped to see this man was just as you said, a narcissistic liar, an adulterer, a money lover, and frankly a cult leader. I agree with very much of what you said about the IBF movement. Have you ever listened to a message given by Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church called “dead right”? If not you owe it to yourself to hear it. My friend, I sympathize with you for all you have been through. I am still a pastor of an small Independent Baptist church. We jettisoned lots of injurious baggage. We have a warm, hospitable, and yes–appropriately conservative– church family. God has given us five children and a warm pure marriage. My friend, would you consider reading a book by Randy Alcorn (not a Baptist as far as I know) called, IF GOD BE GOOD–? Warm regards to you.

        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)


          You fail to understand and comprehend my story. I’m not an atheist because I was hurt or held at one time bad theology. I’m an atheist because I reject the notion that the Bible is truth. I m an atheist because I reject the claims of Christianity about God, Jesus, the Bible, salvation, sin, heaven, and hell.

          I’m quite familiar with Phil Johnson. We were friends many years ago. Phil is a Calvinistic fundamentalist. He may have jettisoned some of the trappings of the IFB church, but he is in every way a fundamentalist, as is his pastor John MacArthur.

          So let me ask you…I was a pastor for 25 years, and a Christian for almost 50 years. I’ve read the Bible through numerous times and preached over 4,000 sermons. I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of theological books. Do you really think me reading one of Randy Alcorn’s books will make a difference? My problem is not a lack of knowledge or understanding. I know all I need to know about Christianity. There’s no new truth coming down the road that’s going to wow me and compel me to consider the error of my way. Over the past eight years hundreds of people like you have tried to show me the error of my way. They’ve become like a droning song that plays over, over, and over.

          I wish you well.


          PS. it might help if you read more than one post of mine. The From Evangelicalism to Atheism series would be a good place to start.

          1. David Nicholes

            Hello again Bruce,
            I have not read your post about your moving from Evangelicalism to Atheism, but I will in the near future. To your question, “Do I think reading and Alcorn book will make a difference?.” It could, obviously I am in no position to say that it actually will. Alcorn is uniquely substantive. In particular he faces the centerpiece of Atheism which most certainly is not science, but the problem of evil in staggering proportion. The acute nature of evil is intellectually vexing: you are familiar with Habakkuk. I want to propose the fact that there is such a thing as faith being an organ of knowledge. What I mean by that is that even though faith is not empirical like Ivory Soap floating, it is certain, sure, very experiential. For instance, in the area of brotherly love and sanctification in marriage. I can no more deny palpable results agreeable with the scriptures than I can deny the sun shines and emits heat. Again warm regards to you.
            I’m being summoned by my son who just pulled in from Pennsylvania for a holiday visit.

            Dave Nicholes

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            My point is this…

            If the Bible is the inerrant, inspired, infallible, supernatural Word of God and I have read it from cover to cover numerous times and I have spent thousands of hours studying the Bible…what makes you think a book will somehow change my mind? Surely, the Scriptures are sufficient, yes?

            With full knowledge and understanding I reject the Bible, its teachings, and say to anyone who thinks they can convert me….I’m not interested. The Christ you preach is dead and your God is a myth. I say this, not to be offensive, but so you will know that I am not a prospect for evangelization and conversion. Your time is better spent evangelizing those who show some inclination towards what you say is the truth. I have weighed the Bible and the Christian God in the balances and found them wanting.


    2. Jeff

      This isn’t to be about man, but about GOD Who gave His Word, and tells us not to follow men. He says of ‘men following’: “Are ye not carnal and walk as men?” (1 Cor. 3:3). The carnality of man-following leads to other carnalities as this original post details. When a man, or men generally (as in a church elevating a solitary man contrary to God’s design and plan), violate the expressed design of the Creator for human authority, there are consequences…results that He built into the creation. The sin of Adam and Eve brought consequences, but only that which God the Creator allowed and only to the extent that He allowed. Likewise, when men follow men, making the expressions of fallible men more authoritative than the Word/expression of the Creator, there are consequences. “…let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12). Sadly, the notorieties who fall are often seen to be the ONLY ones at fault. We must realize that those who set them up on “a pedestal” are just as much at fault as well for making their brother to “offend” (1 Cor. 8:13).

      1. Geoff

        What’s this sort of bullshit meant to do?

        It doesn’t make any logical sense whatever. For example, ‘the sin of Adam and Eve brought consequences, but only that which God the creator allowed and only to the extent he allowed’. Ignoring the fact that Adam and Eve never actually existed, and ignoring that their alleged behaviour hardly counted as sinful anyway, consequences either arose or they didn’t. If God was allowing them then he was the contingency on which the effect (consequences) depended, not the actions of (the imaginary) Adam and Eve.

        It’s funny how people obsess about quoting the bible but never seem to actually see it for the (mainly, not all) nonsense it is.

        1. Jeff

          So, you don’t believe the scientific studies of mitochondrial DNA?

          1. Geoff

            What is your point?

          2. Jeff

            Have you not heard about “mitochondrial Eve”?

          3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            I’m not sure what point you are trying to make here


      2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Men gave us the “Word”not God. It is the product of cultists who worshipped a man named Jesus. Any suggestion that the Bible is the Word of God or written by God is a faith claim. As with the Christian God, there is no empirical evidence for the Bible being written by anyone other than men. Men invented God (s), men wrote the Bible, and men worship God/Jesus.

        While you are right to point out that Christians often worship men like Jack Hyles, Christians have always worshiped men, starting with the man named Jesus.

        1. Jeff

          But your starting point is a preconceived idea that Jesus wasn’t more than a man. You do believe He existed, don’t you?

          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Yes, I start with the scientific fact that Homo sapiens are human. It is not a preconceived idea that all humans are…human. Just look around at your family, friends, neighbors….they are all human, yes? Do any of them claim to be virgin born? Work miracles? Walk through walls? Turn water into alcoholic wine? Die and resurrect themselves from the dead? Of course not. Such things are the realm of myth.

            Every time I drive past a cemetery I’m reminded of the central lie of the Christian myth; that dead people stay dead.

            You believe the faith claims of the Bible. I don’t. Like Thomas, show me and I will believe.

          2. Jeff

            So you can’t believe in anything you cannot see or empirically test, correct?

          3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            No, that’s not what I said. I accept all kinds of things as fact that I have not personally tested. However, when it comes to Christianity and its supernatural claims, I have throughly examined it and found it wanting. Unless you have some sort of new evidence for the existence of the Christian God that I am not aware of, and that’s unlikely, there’s nothing you can say that will change my mind. My settled opinion, based on the extant evidence, is that Jesus is not who Christians claim he is and Christianity is a religion based on myth.

            I have the upper hand here. Intellectually, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. Unlike most Christians who inherit their tribes religion, I’ve actually intellectually examined Christianity’s claims. That’s what a crisis of faith will do for a person; force them to examine beliefs they have accepted without critical inquiry.

          4. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Even if you argue that a person can look at nature and conclude there is a God, I’ve yet to have an Evangelical successfully prove that the God of nature is the Christian God of the Bible. This God could just as easily be another religion’s God or a God who has not yet revealed herself to us.

            The Evangelical is chained to the Bible, a chain that continues to tighten around its neck as science renders the Christian God irrelevant.

          5. Jeff

            Comment deleted

  8. Jo

    Since vanity is a sin according to IFB standards, Hyles fell on his face as soon as he started going bald. Imagine the effort to make those few hairs appear as if he were not bald!

    He was a regular at Greenwood Village Baptist Church in Houston. Bored to tears, seated in the balcony, observing Jack Hyles little strand of hairs, circled tightly to appear as a head of hair, had all of my attention. I imagined how those few strands of hair must be to his knees and how funny he would look after a shower. I wondered how he circled them so perfectly like an experienced farmer plowing straight rows. Skill man, I tell ya’ the man had skill, or a rug.

    Hyles did not impress me as a teen or young adult. I thought he was insincere, a showman, like Falwell.

  9. Brian

    It is always the same, Jeff…. The Bible says what the Bible says and you work that out as you please but for mercy sake, keep your preachers in their churches where they can only get to some of us…. The rest of us have no desire, no need and we have seen so much harm done by biblical bullshit. Recite the sinner’s prayer and feel better if you please, that is no problem but the idea that you can fix churches with your careful reading of the Bible is more woo-woo: Preachers are like chickens pecking to and fro and endlessly clucking their one true way. That you apologize for preachers in your church really saddens me…. yer all mixed up. Apologize to me, Jeff. The churches shaming, blaming and maiming fucked me over for many years. Apologize to the children and young people who have lost all sense of plain old safety now that they have been fucked by a Jesus Man, an authority with a special place in God’s heart.. Apologize to the women and children in some forsaken village overseas where American drones preach the American message of freedom in Christ. Apologize for enabling, Jeff. You have your own little kingdom of true that you tout here and I want you to know that you could be very very wrong.

    1. Jeff

      You might check out the account of Lee Strobel, an agnostic whose wife (an atheist) became a Christian. The changes he saw in her life piqued in him an interest from his reporter/nose-for-news mindset to find out about the “Christianity” thing so that he could disprove it. He researched Christ produced two DVDs as a result. You might search his name on Youtube, an atheist who became a believer b/c of the evidence.

      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Sorry, Jeff. I’m well beyond Lee Strobel. While I will readily admit that it is possible a man named Jesus lived and died in Palestine 2,000 years ago, any claim beyond this is a myth. Again, I have no problem with anyone believing Jesus is some sort of deity. But if you want me to believe likewise you better have evidence for your claim. (beyond the Bible.)

        1. Jeff

          Well, there is certainly extra biblical evidence that Jesus existed as a person, and that for some special reason history is divided at His life (BC, AD–even though modern changes are sought that change this to BCE & CE, but this change doesn’t explain the reason for THAT time). Secondly, one must come to grips with the ancient languages from which the Bible is translated, Hebrew, Aramaic, and koine Greek, along with the historical evidence of these languages, and THEN whether or not to accept their accounting. Whether or not one accepts the veracity of the account, the ancient languages MUST at least be acknowledged to have existed…along with the cultures and societies they represent. What’s more, the nation of Israel exists today, and the Jews predominantly don’t accept Yeshua as Messiah. Hence, the Biblical record (esp those written by Jews) logically shouldn’t include such passages that tell of the supernatural aspects of Jesus, and particularly the texts in which He explicitly claims to be God. They were even trying to suppress the news of His resurrection. So, there are many reasons to consider the biblical text as at least a valuable record of history.

          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Let ‘s see…Harry Potter is written in English, English is a language. Conclusion… the characters in Harry Potter are real and acts and events recorded in the book actually happened. Is this the argument you are making?

            Yes, there is some historical content in the Bible, just like countless historical novels. But that’s not what you believe, right? You believe that the Bible is 100% historically and scientifically accurate; a claim that will get you laughed out of any room but a gathering of Christian fundamentalists.

            The history of the Bible is like digging for a morsel of food to eat in a garbage can. Sure, there’s a half rotten apple at the bottom of the can that might be edible, but why bother? There are far better explanations for the world than the Bible. In my opinion, the Bible is no longer relevant. It historically and scientifically inaccurate, and many of its teachings and commands are decidedly immoral and anti-woman.

          2. Jeff

            Comment deleted

          3. Jeff

            Comment deleted

          4. John Arthur

            Hi Jeff,

            “There are many reasons to consider the biblical text at least a valuable record of history”.

            There is some evidence that some of the bible may be valuable historically, but I doubt that you can take miracles to be historical. Many of these fly in the face of the now known laws of physics. e.g. a guy flying through the sky or walking through walls. These, more probably, belong to the realm of myth.

            You seem to want to go well beyond the quote above. You think that the words of the bible are the words of God (albeit written in different human languages). You presuppose the inerrancy of the bible, without saying so directly. You seem to think that there is only one point of view in the bible on any topic: God’s view.

            In fact, there are multiple views on many topics and they cannot all be God’s views, unless you believe that God (assuming he exists) speaks with a fork tongue. e.g. God told his people to destroy the Canaanites (men, women, little children and babies). Joshua and his cobbers applied this with enthusiasm, mercilessly slaughtering all. Then to make sure they did a thorough job, they burnt several of the cities to the ground.

            How is this compatible, in any way, with Jesus’ command to his disciples to love their enemies and how is the barbaric Joshua’s attitude and actions relating to little children in any way compatible with that of Jesus?

            Perhaps you should think more critically about the immorality that is said (in many passages) to be commanded by God and reject the idea that where the bible speaks, God speaks!


            John Arthur

          5. Jeff

            Comment deleted

        2. Jeff

          What was your tipping point, Bruce?

          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            I encourage you to take the time to read my writing. The answers you seek can be found there.

          2. Jeff

            Comment deleted

      2. Geoff

        I don’t believe Lee Strobel was ever either agnostic or atheist. At best he simply never gave the matter any thought.

        I’m quite sure he’s made plenty of money from his books which, at the end of the day, is the only reason religion still exists.

        1. Jeff

          I’d say you are making an assumption based on a portion of so-called Christianity. Well, RELIGION…to be differentiated from RELATIONSHIP, a true relationship with the LORD JESUS CHRIST. Being religious is different from being a child of God. There’s TONS more textual evidence for the biblical record than familiar ancient writers such as Plato or Socrates. This at LEAST gives more weight to the Bible so that it’s equivalent to or more so than extra biblical writers.

          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Really, Jeff? Now you are going to resort to the true Christianity is a relationship argument? Please stop.

            All the extant extra-biblical evidence of Jesus fits on a 3×5 card. I’ve looked at all of it. Remove the Bible from the mix and what you are left with is a handful of debated historical accounts. These accounts are certainly not enough to prove that Jesus is who Christians say he is. That takes the Bible…and to believe the Bible requires faith.

    2. Jeff

      You can be wrong too, right along with all of the molesters. And like the victims of physical abuse, you are a victim of spiritual and intellectual abuse…that which is many times more difficult to overcome than mere physical abuse. Since the physical realm regularly confirms the Bible to be true, as well as other realms of evidence, I KNOW the Bible is truth. There is NO doubt whatsoever.

      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Ah, now there’s the Christian asshole that every fundamentalist eventually morphs into. This is your last comment.

        1. Jeff

          Do you know what profanity is? How about what kindness means? Or intolerance? “Last comment”? Can you not reason and share where your supposed point of rejection was, or perhaps you have built a wall, making a skin of a reason based upon woefully fallible men who set up themselves as authoritative? I’ll look up the posts to which you refer, but I haven’t seen any logic on here yet but rather emotion. You’ve come to a conclusion out of emotion and not logic. I’d be glad to communicate further with you if you’re open to logic and evidence and not being outright dismissive. Thanks for being willing to dialogue.

          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            After your first comment you were taken to a page that had the comment rules. You have violated the commenting rules and this is why I will not approve any further comments by you. My asshole comment is in response to your last approved comment. If you don’t like being called an asshole, don’t act like one.

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            I owe you no explanation. I’ve written extensively about my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism. If you want to know…read. But you don’t want to know. I’ve dealt with your kind more times than I can count. You are looking for a flaw in my story that allows you to dismiss your cognitive dissonance. You can’t square my story with your theology and worldview so you make wild unsubstantiated claims about my past and how I ended up where I am today.

          3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            You had numerous opportunities to show readers your quintessential logic and evidence. The best you had to offer was Lee Strobel and an empty bag of proof. I asked you to tell me something I haven’t already heard. Silence. And that the point. Christian apologists haven’t had an original or new thought in f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Apologists just put the same old shit in a shiny new bag with a bow and then proudly say….see…proof….evidence….truth….. After eight years of shiny new bags, I have no patience for those who think their shiny new bag is different from the previously offered bags.

          4. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Just so readers understand, Jeff, this is what you consider logic and evidence:

            From your website

            Creation & the Text of Scripture

            Since creationism depends entirely upon the historical account of the Bible in Genesis, the words we have in that special Book are extremely important. This Book is what it claims to be: the Word of the living God, our Creator. In order to communicate His Record to us, God used men who knew the ancient languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. For the most proper and complete understanding in our culture today of what God meant and said, we must understand that the languages we read today are intricately and inseparably tied to the ancient languages. Hence, those who translated from these languages must have known these languages intimately in order to accurately communicate them for us today. Our purpose in this section is to show from Scripture just how important is the preservation and translation of the ancient texts.

            1. God gave His initial laws to Adam & Eve (Genesis 1:28; 2:15-17, 19), in a language they could understand. This means that they could comprehend and communicate in this language. It also takes away the evolutionary idea that there were “sub -human” or “pre-human” ancestors prior to Adam & Eve.

            2. All descendants of Adam & Eve had one language until God confounded their speech at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-7) after the Flood.

            3. The Bible records that God’s thoughts would be communicated to “all generations” and that His Word “standeth for ever.” (Psalm 33:11). God’s Word is reliable. It has stood and will stand the test of time.

            “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever… the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23, 25)

            “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”
            (Ps. 12:6)


            God gave to early man great abilities, such as the abilities to develop musical instruments or metallurgy (Genesis 4:21-22). He made the first man, Adam, not as descended from an ape-like ancestor, but with abilities to function in all capacities, including language.

            Languages do not evolve. Rather, they have “devolved” since Adam as words change meanings over time and lose their original significance. One Scriptural and modern example of this is the word “gay” in James (2:3) where it is used to refer to “gay clothing.” Clearly, “gay” did not mean “homosexual.”

            It is impossible for one who has a 21st century western mindset to “correct” translations that were made in other times and cultures. A particular word or phrase is best viewed from the viewpoint of those who knew it in their language and culture. In other words, we must “give the sense” of words from the the Biblical perspective just as in Nehemiah 8:8.

            It is extremely important to recognize that GOD HIMSELF chose the exact historical frameworks that were perfect for His Revelation. These times were when languages were at their zenith; that is, they were in common usage, highly detailed, and extremely expressive for HIS purpose: to preserve and communicate His design for all of mankind. Though God promised to preserve His Word for all people, He did NOT specify a language through which He would do it. In fact, “all generations” would no doubt entail each language of the various people groups of those generations.

            It is up to us to “study” to show ourselves “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing…the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The phrase, “rightly dividing” is translated from just one Greek word, ortho-tomeo, which basically means “to cut straight.” While some may think “dividing” means to distribute (as in “dividing inheritance” – Luke 12:13), the correct meaning here is that God’s Word must be “put straight,” or “cut straight” without deviation from the meanings God invested into those words and the manner in which He intended His Word to be communicated.


            God’s chosen language is Hebrew.

            Paul’s testimony before King Agrippa (Ac 26:14 “in the Hebrew tongue”).

            Spirit-inspired translations into Hebrew. (Jo 5:2; 19:13, 17; Rev. 16:16)

            Jesus speaking in Hebrew while on the cross. (Matt. 27:46)
            The oft-repeated phrase: “LORD God of the Hebrews” (Ex. 7:16; 9:1, 13; 10:3)

            The fact that almost all of the OT was written in ancient Hebrew (chosen by God).

            In translating from one language into another, original meanings or shades of meanings are/can be lost.

            For example, when translating the word “chair” from Spanish to English, one loses the masculine-feminine aspect as the Spanish word for “chair” is “silla,” a feminine word.

            God tells us to “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:8). The meaning of a particular word in a given language is a landmark.

            The question we must ask ourselves is this:

            Would God allow to be lost a language which was His vehicle for communicating to all HIS design for every aspect of physical and spiritual existence?

            From the study of “textual criticism” (better, textual evaluation), it is our understanding that modern versions of the Bible are based upon this premise: “the oldest manuscripts are the best manuscripts.” Yet, it is not highly publicized nor explained why the “oldest” would necessarily be more accurate. Since God promised that His Word would be “to all generations,” Creation Family Ministries takes the position that He did indeed make His Revelation to everyone of every culture and time period. This means that God’s Word was available from the time of the “oldest manuscripts” until today. The only group of manuscripts that represents the understanding that men faithfully copied the manuscripts is referred to as the “Textus Receptus” (meaning “received text”). When a manuscript was worn due to usage, more copies were made and “received.”

            The idea that “oldest manuscripts” are better (i.e. more correct because they were closer to the time of Christ) is Biblically inconsistent with the “received text” view since the older manuscripts would have been hidden and unavailable for generations prior to their discovery. It is for these reasons that we use only the Textus Receptus as the best manuscripts. Other versions of the Bible may be useful for various purposes, but since they are based upon the “oldest manuscripts,” they are suspect at best. All versions of every other language of the Bible must be compared to ancient Hebrew (OT – Masoretic) and Greek (NT – Textus Receptus). The KJV is based solely upon the Textus Recepus and is the most reliable as it is based upon God’s promise to provide His Word to all generations.

      2. Geoff

        There is little truth in the bible. What there is isn’t worth struggling to find, the point Bruce makes about a rotten apple in a rubbish bin.

        There is much more documented and worthy evidence of Plato and Socrates than there is regarding biblical texts.

        The same goes for the person referred to as ‘Jesus’. I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to express an opinion as to whether such a person actually existed, but plenty of reputable historians now argue he didn’t. To say you can have a ‘relationship’ in those circumstances is delusionally bizarre.

  10. Aslanforever

    Comment deleted.

  11. Jeff

    I read your account and found it extremely useful to share with pastors this coming Feb., to help them see the need for laying a good foundation. We’re seeing much of people who go off to Bible college (and I’m assuming you attended some form of Bible education), ones who have no foundation for belief…who are taught by professors who were never given a foundation for their belief system. This is what it all boils down to. You apparently have given weight to the words of fallible men (eg. Ehrman) to trump the ancient words of men who wrote thousands of years ago, and which have evidence today extant in over 5000 mss (NT alone), with the OT text lasting MUCH longer. There have been numerous “scholars” who have written things that undermine one’s confidence in the Bible, with preconceived ideas that have no basis in fact. Rather, they are contradictory suppositions in the face of regular archaeological evidences that support the Biblical account. One of the most important things to consider when examining the Bible, is to consider fulfilled prophecies. The most obvious one is that the Bible tells that Israel would become a nation…and it is, becoming a nation against all odds in 1967. The history of Israel is in the Bible, yet scholars over the years have written totally false things about the OT that engender distrust in the text. I think you’ve been taken by such pseudo scholarship, reminiscent of the book, “The Davinci Code”: pseudo scholarship that creates doubt in the minds of the hearers/readers. So, you say you believe in a Creator/God? I invite you to discuss further via something more conversational such as FB messaging. If so, look up Creation Family Ministries. If not, I understand why. The dialogue would be a good challenge for me and I think for you as well, since you say you pastored churches and were a Christian for 50 years. A good dialogue is fruitful, but if you think you know everything and are unwilling to listen it won’t be profitable for either of us. The truth is that you don’t know everything and you haven’t heard all of the arguments for the Bible being the Word of the living God, the Creator of all things, and Jesus being that one true God. I’ll be extremely honest that for science matters I’d have to consult with my father in law who used to believe evolution and has a chemical engineering degree from UVa, who also has intricate knowledge of the ancient languages along with an analytical mind always seeking to learn more applied knowledge, and to the ancient languages and history. Blessings.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      *sigh* not going to do this Jeff.

      I attended a well respected Bible college and came away from my studies with the exact same theology that you currently hold to. The difference between you and I is that I continued to study and read. That you can, at your age, still regurgitate nonsense about the King James Bible is telling. So is your belief that the earth was created in 6 literal 24 days, 6,020 years ago.

      As far as Bart Ehrman is concerned. Let’s see…I value and trust the work of a renowned NT scholar. You value and trust that the Bible is what you claim it is because the Bible says so. Yeah…I’ll take Bart every time.

      You do know that you leave a record of what you have read on this site? You’ve made no attempt to understand my story. Your comments reflect the fact the have made up your mind about me. And that’s fine. You are free to believe what you want.

      Now I’m done.


    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      BTW, I didn’t say I believe in a creator God. I don’t. My point is that I can certainly understand someone looking at the natural world and coming to the conclusion that a deity/God/higher power created the universe. However, it is impossible to look at the natural world and conclude the Christian God created the universe. Such a conclusion requires the Bible. This is why the best way to combat creationism is to disabuse the Evangelical of the notion that the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, infallible, preserved text. (and why I recommend reading Bart Ehrman) No one can honestly and studiously look at the historical and textual evidence for the veracity of the Bible and conclude that it is an inspired, inerrant, infallible, preserved text. Those who do are letting their theological presuppositions stand in the way of them following the evidence wherever it leads.

  12. Michael Mock

    Jeff – You’ve clearly overstayed your welcome, and I have no particular desire to converse with you. However, I would like to point something out that might conceivably be of help to you if you decide to continue proselytizing, evangelizing, or presenting apologetics to former Christians in the future:

    Give it up.

    Seriously. Just give it up. Former Christians are just about the worst possible audience for your ideas. We’ve heard it all before. Everything — everything — that you’ve invoked here is old news, arguments that none of us accept but that we’ve all heard far too often. The Disciples as eye-witnesses? But they were hardly disinterested observers. The Testimonium Flavianum (Josephus)? Even if it isn’t a later interpolation, non-Christians tend to read it as repeating Christian claims, rather than providing evidence for them. Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ(tm)? That’s great if it works for you, but what I’ve found is that it’s the sort of relationship where I can never manage to see Him in person and He doesn’t return my calls. Creation itself reflects the truth of Christianity? Except it clearly doesn’t, or else we’d all be Christians. “Your argument isn’t with me, it’s with God!” Nonsense; the Almighty isn’t the one commenting on this blog. It’s like the old joke about the guy who walks into the bar where all the regulars have heard all the jokes so many times that they’ve just given them numbers.

    You want to try to convert somebody? Here: this is Why I Am Not A Christian. Give it a read, consider the issues I’ve raised, and then — if you have something that might address those issues — feel free to comment. But bear in mind that Bruce is completely right: if you want to be persuasive, you have to understand your audience… and you haven’t taken the time to make even a token effort at understanding former believers.


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