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Tag: Jack Hyles

My Experiences with IFB Evangelist Dennis Corle

I started the Somerset Baptist Church in Somerset, Ohio in July 1983. Sixteen people attended our first service. We later bought an abandoned, 150-year-old Methodist church building five miles east of Somerset for $5,000. Attendance quickly exploded, and by 1987, the church was running four bus routes and had a high attendance of 206. Across five years, roughly 600 people made public professions of faith. Countless Christian people came to the altar, knelt, wept, slung snot, and got right with God. Somerset Baptist had all the marks of a church on the move. We talked about adding space to accommodate the burgeoning crowd. Unfortunately, the cost was prohibitive, so we made do with what we had. This proved to be the right decision. Internal personal and theological squabbles led to people leaving the church and taking their money with them. Our total income dropped by 50 percent. We sold off all our buses and started a tuition-free member-only Christian school. In February 1994, we closed the church, sold the building for $25,000, and I left to become the co-pastor of Community Baptist Church — a growing congregation southeast of San Antonio, Texas.

During the eleven years I was privileged to pastor Somerset Baptist Church, numerous evangelists preached for us. Men such as Doug Day and Don Hardman preached multiple meetings. Other men were, for a variety of reasons, one and done. Dennis Corle, a well-known evangelist in IFB circles, preached at least two meetings for us, one in 1984 and another in 1987. Corle may have preached another meeting, but my memory is sketchy, so I will focus on the two meetings I remember best. Corle also preached a meeting for my father-in-law at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Buckeye Lake, Ohio, a church I started with Dad in 1981.

Corle describes himself this way:

Dennis Corle was saved on January 15, 1975, at the age of 20, and began preaching just a few months after his conversion. He worked on staff at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Ski Gap, Pennsylvania, for over 2 years. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Beth Haven Baptist College in Louisville, Kentucky, under the ministry of Dr. Tom Wallace in 1980. He completed the four-year course in 20 months and graduated valedictorian of his class.

He spent one-year training under the ministry of veteran evangelist, Dr. Joe Boyd traveling and working in his revival meetings. He received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Tri-State Baptist College in Memphis, Tennessee, with Dr. Ron Westmoreland, and a Th.M. and Th.D. degree from Great Commission Theological Seminary.  He also received a Doctor of Humanities from Truth Baptist Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Literature from Faith Baptist College; as well as a Th.M. and Th.D. from Landmark Baptist College. He has started eight different churches through the years and has helped over 100 other church planters get started.

Dennis Corle entered full time evangelism in 1981. In the past 38 years: he has traveled over 4 million miles, held over 2,085 revival meetings and over a thousand one-day meetings as well as Soul-winning and Revival Fires Conferences.

In his ministry he has had over 71,336 saved and 19,422 baptized. He has seen thousands of young people surrender for full time ministry many of whom are presently serving the Lord full time as well as thousands of members added to independent Baptist Churches during his meetings.

He is the founder and president of Revival Fires Baptist College which is a correspondence college that offers a full 4-year program. He started and teaches a summer institute designed to train young evangelists in the field. Dr. Corle also teaches in several fundamental Baptist colleges each year.

Dennis Corle is the founder of Revival Fires Publishing. His ministry has published 127 books to date.

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Dr. Corle is the Editor/Publisher of the monthly fundamental publication, Revival Fires! For 31 years in its present form and three years prior in a smaller format he’s hosted the Revival Fires! National Conference. He has also hosted the Shooters’ Expo, Evangelists’ School, and Church Planting Conference for years.

Brother Corle travels with his family to hold around 100 meetings each year all over the United States and a few foreign fields.

As you can see, Corle is a bean counter and braggart. It’s one thing to humbly share your accomplishments, and another to say:

In the past 38 years: he has traveled over 4 million miles, held over 2,085 revival meetings and over a thousand one-day meetings as well as Soul-winning and Revival Fires Conferences.

In his ministry he has had over 71,336 saved and 19,422 baptized. He has seen thousands of young people surrender for full time ministry many of whom are presently serving the Lord full time as well as thousands of members added to independent Baptist Churches during his meetings.

For my view on Corle’s “numbers,” please see the post How Math Led Me Away from the IFB Church Movement.

Corle has always been a promoter of one-two-three-repeat-after-me evangelism. (Please see One, Two, Three, Repeat After Me: Salvation Bob Gray Style.) Corle told me that he could win any sinner to Christ in five minutes. Just follow the plan, get them to pray the sinner’s prayer, and move on. Corle led numerous people to Christ while holding meetings at our church. Few of them ever visited the church or were baptized, yet they were all notches on the grips of Corle’s gospel six-shooter; one of the 71,336 people saved under his ministry.

Corle thought very little of spending significant time studying in preparation for preaching on Sundays. He told me pastors should only spend four or five hours a week preparing their sermons. Better for them to spend the bulk of their time knocking on doors and winning souls for Christ. I, of course, rejected Corle’s advice. By the late eighties, I was spending 20 hours a week studying for my sermons.

Corle’s preaching was typical IFB stuff. Lots of fear and guilt. Corle could be a bully, especially during invitations. His goal was always the same: to beg and plead for people to come forward, and if that didn’t work, cajole and berate them. One night, Corle preached on the importance of church membership. His objective was to get people to come forward and join the church. During the invitation, Corle asked everyone who was not a member to raise their hands. One such couple was Kerry and Linda Locke (who later joined the church). Corle proceeded to call out Kerry, demanding that he give a good reason for not joining Somerset Baptist. Corle tried to badger Kerry and his wife into coming forward, but they declined. I was so embarrassed by Corle’s behavior. I later apologized to the Lockes.

The first meeting Corle preached for us took place in 1984. At the time, attendance was small. We were meeting in a rented facility, the upstairs part of the Landmark building. Not many souls were saved during this first meeting, but that would change in 1987. By then, we were in our own building, and attendance was averaging 150. Corle preached Sunday morning and Sunday night, and Monday through Friday nights. We had good a turnout for each service. Corle also held a service for children one hour before. I did not attend these services, so I had no idea what was going on. That would be a big mistake on my part.

The meeting came and went with nary a thought. Weeks later, I received the latest issue of the IFB rag the Sword of the Lord. The Sword had a section where IFB evangelists could report their stats. Imagine my surprise to read that 45 souls were saved under the preaching of Dennis Corle at Somerset Baptist Church. I had a Baptist version of WTF moment. When were these people saved? There weren’t 45 people saved during the revival services — not even close. Was Corle lying about his soulwinning prowess? Maybe. After all, he ran in Sword of the Lord/Jack Hyles circles. Exaggeration (lying) was common. Not so much these days since the IFB church movement is largely a smoldering dumpster fire.

Come to find out, Corle was using high-pressure evangelism techniques to “save” largely church children. He would scare the Hell out of these captive youngsters, and then ask them if they wanted to get “saved.” Of course, they wanted to get saved. They were trembling in fear from being threatened with God’s judgment and eternal torture in Hell. Today, I view such techniques as child abuse.

Corle did not get another opportunity to preach at our church. The only positive thing I can say about Corle is that his wife Kathy had a wonderful singing voice.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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How Math Led Me Away from the IFB Church Movement

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I was raised in a dysfunctional Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) family, attended IFB churches throughout my childhood, attended an IFB college, married an IFB preacher’s daughter, and pastored several IFB churches in the late 1970s and 1980s. Yet, by the late 1980s, I was, for a variety of reasons, done with the IFB church movement. What happened?

One of the reasons was math. Yes, math. As a young preacher, I would attend Sword of the Lord conferences, Bible conferences, and preacher’s meetings. I heard countless big-name IFB preachers; men who pastored churches running thousands in attendance; churches that were winning hundreds and thousands of souls to Christ. Men such as Jack Hyles, Bob Gray (Longview), Curtis Hutson, Bob Gray (Jacksonville), John Rawlings, Tommy Trammel, Lee Roberson, Lester Roloff, Tom Malone, and others whose names are long forgotten, regaled attendees with stories about their dick size, uh I mean church-building prowess. These men would wow young preachers such as myself with attendance and soulwinning claims, suggesting that we too could be successful if we just followed in their steps, uh, I mean Jesus’ steps.

One day, I was sitting in my study at Somerset Baptist Church thinking about my ministry. Somerset Baptist was a growing, thriving rural church. We had just passed 200 in attendance. Souls were being saved every week. My colleagues in the ministry were talking about me being an up-and-comer. Some of them were even asking me for tips on how to grow their churches. I felt that I had arrived.

My mind turned to Jack Hyles, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana — then the largest church in the United States. I had just listened to a Hyles sermon on cassette tape. Hyles, a braggart if there ever was one, was regaling listeners with a statistical accounting of how busy he was for Jesus; how many people he counseled; how many sermons he preached; how many people he evangelized. On and on he went, painting himself as the busiest and most productive preacher since the Apostle Paul.

Hyles was quite the preacher; a storyteller. Surprisingly, Hyles preached very little from the Bible. I had long believed that Hyles was a master exaggerator. That’s Greek for liar. Every preacher could exaggerate from time to time to prove a point, myself included. David Foster Wallace once said, and I paraphrase, “why let the truth get in the way of a good story?” This was certainly the case with IFB preachers — a movement built on dick size: attendance, baptisms, offerings, souls saved.

ifb preachers importance
Three IFB preachers checking to see who has the biggest church

After listening to Hyles’ sermon, I wrote down all the things he said he did every week and the amount of time he had to do them. It quickly became clear to me that Hyles was lying; that he was grossly overstating how busy he was and how much he was doing for the Lord.

I then went on to examine the claims made by other IFB luminaries. I concluded that most of them played loose with the truth. While I didn’t immediately leave the IFB church movement, these revelations troubled me enough that I decided to stop fellowshipping with the Hyles/Sword of the Lord crowd. Not long afterward, Hyles was accused of sexual misconduct. Today, the IFB church movement is a shell of what it once was. The reasons are many, but I can’t help but believe that one of the reasons for their decline is that they allowed big-name preachers to lie with impunity from the pulpit. Instead of standing up and shouting LIAR!, we said AMEN! PREACH IT BROTHER! Instead of standing up for truth and honesty, we enabled these narcissists. I regret my participation in the charade.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Satan’s Bid for Your Child by Jack Hyles

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Jack Hyles, pastor First Baptist Church Hammond

What follows is an excerpt from an 11,000-word sermon preached in 1971 at First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, by its pastor Jack Hyles. Titled  Satan’s Bid for Your Child, Hyles makes it clear that the public schools are out to destroy America’s children.  Sadly, forty years later, many Evangelicals still believe as Hyles did: that public schools are used by Satan to destroy the minds of our children. Hyles’ solution, of course, was for parents to pull their children out of public schools, and enroll them in Christian schools.

Enjoy!

I would not preach like I am going to preach tonight if I did not love you.  I know a lot of folks tonight will not agree with me, but you never heard a more honest sermon. Now I know our church has dozens of public school teachers. If we asked for a show of hands tonight, I am sure that we would have 35 to 40 people in this room tonight who teach in the public school. I would not hurt you purposely for the world, but tonight I am going to do one thing–I am going to tear what is going on in our schools apart, let me forewarn you. I am going to try to help you save your kids.

The truth is, parents do not know what is going on. I am going to be very frank tonight. No punches barred tonight. If I have superintendents of schools and principals and teachers calling me by the thousands tomorrow, it does not matter. I am going to try to save your kids if it makes the whole town mad. Tonight I am going to spend myself to save your kids. I am going to risk your devotion, your love, your fellowship, maybe your friendship, but I am going to do it because, with all my heart I want to save your kids.

A lady said to me yesterday, “I went over here to a middle school to work in the lunchroom at the lunch hour. Pastor, it never dawned on me the condition of that place. I never realized before what is happening in our schools.”

Parents, you really do not know what is going on. No, you do not. I have in my hand a teenage questionnaire. By the say, one of the reasons I am starting off slow tonight, I do not know what time it is and could not care less. You just forget your clock and your hopes of getting to bed at all tonight, because this is one night when I am going to stand before you and plead for your children.

There are people in this room tonight who care more about your dog than you do your kids. You care more about driving a Cadillac car, or new car. A lot of you ought to sell your car and ride a bicycle if you have to, to get your kids in a decent school. I plead with you tonight for your kids. I hold before me a copy of a survey that our high school students took this morning. Two hundred thirty of our students took this survey, and here are the questions:

1. Have you ever heard one of your school teachers use vulgar language in class?

2. Have you ever heard a school teacher take the name of the Lord in vain in class?

3. Do you ever hear students cursing aloud in class?

4. Have you ever been approached by someone who wanted to sell or give you marijuana or any other narcotic?

5. Have any of your school friends used narcotics?

6. Have you ever used drugs?

7. Have you ever given away or sold drugs yourself?

8. Do you know of any teacher who uses drugs?

9. Have you ever been taught evolution?

10. Do any of your teachers wear mini-skirts?

11. Do any of your teachers wear pant dresses?

12. Do any of your school friends drink?

13. Have you ever taken a drink or any alcoholic beverage, such as beer, wine, etc.?

14. Has there ever been in your school any disturbances, such as revolts, riots, student disorders, boycotts, etc.?

15. Have you ever heard the American way of life, the establishment, and capitalism criticized by a teacher?

16. Have you ever worn slacks to school?

17. Have you ever worn shorts to school?

18. Have you ever been taught that premarital sex is all right?

19. Have you been asked to read such books as, Of Mice and Men, Soul On Ice, The Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, or any other book that includes cursing?

20. Have you read any of these books?

Now this questionnaire was handed to each of our high school students this morning. Before you leave tonight, I am going to give you what your kids said this morning, plus a lot of other things along with it. I will give you through the message tonight, the result of this survey.

The average parent in this room does not have any idea what is going on when your child goes to school. How many of you, if you saw your child’s teacher walking down the street, would recognize him or her? Raise your hand, please. You see, you are living under the illusion that it is like us when you were a kid. Brother, it is not near like it was when you were a kid. Not near like it was. Now, you do not care enough to even know. How many of you have ever read at least one book that was required reading for your child at school? Would you lift your hand, please? You just do not much care, do you?

You see, you do not know what is going on, and like the ostrich, you do not want to know what is going on because you do not want to get in a fight, or spend some of your money to save your child. You want to keep on riding high, living it up, enjoying life without facing the fact that we have got a battle on our hands, and that battle is not just to save the country, it is to save your children.

If we so not rise up and do something, everything decent that we know about our way of life is about to crumble. I am sick and tired of a bunch of sex, demonized, demented people standing behind the school, behind the cloak of scholarship, and destroying those whom we call our own children. I am tired of it! I have ceased, a long time ago, to keep my mouth shut about it. Not only that, but since you will not check yourself on what is going on tonight, I am going to open the door to the public schools for you and invite you in.

I challenge anybody to disprove what I say tonight. There is not one way any person can disprove what I am going to give you in this sermon tonight. You say, “Preacher, you are a rabble-rouser.” You better know I am, but I am not near as big a rabble-rouser as these people trying to destroy the minds of our children, destroy the patriotism, decency, honor, character and chastity of our boys and girls. I am going to do some rabble-rousing, but that is not all I am going to do. I am going to do some school-building, too, and I am going to give our kids a choice in so doing.

Satan is after your child like he has never been after anybody’s child in the history of this world. Satan has pointed every gun in his arsenal at the soul and body and life of your child, and he is doing it, basically, through the schoolroom.

You see, people do not like to hear what I am going to say tonight, because we have some things that we have deified. We have some institutions that we do not like to see anybody attack. We have deified the schoolroom and the public school until we think they can say no evil, speak no evil, and while we have built a canopy of protection over them they are destroying and stealing our boys and girls. Now the truth is, ant this is the sad thing, you ought to be pleading with me for your children instead of me pleading with you. Isn’t that something? I stand up here and take a chance on making you mad, pleading with you to save your child. The truth is, you ought to be on your knees, saying, “Brother Hyles, please do something for us so we can save our children.”

I could have parents stand up all over this house tonight as living testimony to what I am going to say. I could have parents parade across this platform by the dozens, they are here now, to stand up here in bodies and lives and dreams that are broken and say, “My boy or my girl was ruined by a university or a high school or a teacher.”

Your kids may go to the Devil and your kids may not go to a Christian school and they may not turn out right, but I will tell you one thing, it is not going to be because Brother Hyles did not warn you and do the best he could to help you. If anybody gets mad at me tonight, it is because you just do not understand. I love you and I love your children, and I love you so much I am going to do my best to beat some sense in your head.

I am weary of this kind of talk, “Well, everything will be out in the world when they get older. Why shelter and protect them now?” If that is the case, when your kid is born, why don’t you kick him out in the street and say, “Ride a bicycle.”

I am going to give you tonight several things the Devil is doing to attack your child:

1. Revolution. The first part of the hippie program is to kill your parents. I mean that quite seriously, because until you are prepared to kill your parents, you are not really prepared to change the country. “Our parents are our first oppressors.” Who said that? Jerry Rubin, one of the notorious Chicago Seven. Where did he say it? On the campus of Kent State University. It was said on the Kent State University campus, “You must be prepared to kill your parents because they are your first oppressors.” This was said only one week before the rioting which resulted in the deaths of four students.

Our socialist-minded professors and teachers, with their leftist-slanted textbooks, have dedicated themselves to changing the American way of life through the indoctrinating of the minds of students.

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What else is being launched at your child?

2. Books. Here are some samples of profanity. Now I am sorry, I am not going to use these words, but I am going to spell some bad words. I may as well just come out and tell you what your kids are reading. You have not checked on it, you have no idea, so I am going to have to tell you. I have got to invite you. I am going to open a few of the books. New Worlds Ahead is used for the seventh grade. The seventh grade uses this: “The Stray Kitten”, by Richard Wright, Page 54. “Kill that d-a-m-n thing.” That is seventh grade. Page 55: “I had my first triumph over my father. I had made him believe that I had taken his words literally; he could not punish me without risking his authority. I was happy because I had at last found a way to throw my criticism of him into his face.” That is a quote from a seventh-grade book.

Another story in the book called “The Blue Serge Suit”, Page 414, says, “D-a-m-n asthma.” Page 416, “That d-a-m-n asthma is getting worse.” “I’ll be d-a-m-n-e-d if I see what you are getting at.” That is seventh grade reading!

A ninth grade book, Voices in Literature (1). “Shoe Shine”, by Jerome Weidman, Page 21: “My God!” Page 23:”D-A-M-N it.” Page 23 again: “D-a-m-n it! My God!” The Long Night”, by Lowell Blanton, Page 84: “Well, d-a-m-n it, man.” Page 209: “D-a-m-n-e-d-e-s-t thing.” Page 235 questions parental authority. “The Sissy from Anaconda”, Page 352: The d-a-m-n-e-d-e-s-t rattle snake.” “Hell.” That is ninth-grade reading. Not only is that not good English, that is not even cultural. That is not even refined. That is not even scholarly–that is heathen-like.

You parents who won’t send your sons and daughters to our school, you say “I am afraid that the Hammond Baptist High School will not be properly accredited.” We are a little above this kind of accreditation. We are too scholarly for this kind of garbage. We are too cultural for this kind of talk. Not only has it pricked our religious and spiritual convictions, it pricks our cultures.

We are just getting started. Say you will not read this. I have got to read it to you and for you. It is called Themes in Literature, the tenth grade. “The Colt” by Willis Stegner, Page 127: “G-o-d-d-a-m-n you. G-o-d-d-a-m-n your wild hearts.”

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Tenth grade: In “The Mateo Falcon”, by Merimee, the father kills his own son. In Western Literature: Themes and writers, “The Out Station”, by W. Somerset Maugham, page 83: “Go to Hell, you d-a-m-n fool. You D-a-m-n-e-d snob, by God.” And 15 counts of profanity in this one story on Page 83, and also a murder.

Voices in literature III, an article “On the Sidewalk Bleeding”, by Evan Hunter, page 105-111, a gang member is stabbed. The whole story tells how he lays on the sidewalk and bleeds to death.

In the book Of Mice and Men, that has been required reading in numbers of schools in this area, by John Steinbeck, page 24: “He is sure a Hell of a good worker. He is a G-o-d-d-a-m-n good worker.” My Bible says you are not to take the name of our Lord God in vain. And I will tell you another thing, too. I got fed up with my boy and girl having to sit in a classroom and listen to a bunch of dirty-minded people stand up and use God’s name in vain. Not one time in the life of my children anymore are they going to sit and hear anybody curse my God! You do not have to let your children do that either. Of Mice and Men, by the way, Steinbeck is a Nobel Prize winner. The Devil is proud of him. Page 48, “Them G-o-d-d-a-m-n turnips, give it to me.” Page 56, If that crazy b-a-s-t-a-r-d is foolin’ around too much, just kick him out, Slim.” Page 83: “In many times.” Page 94: “This here G-o-d-d-a-m-n son of a ______(female dog) wasn’t nothin’ to George.”

Soul On Ice, By Elridge Cleaver, here is another book that is suggested reading, page 159: “I’d jump over ten nigger________(female dogs) just to get one white woman.”

Now you just sit there and swell up like a toadstool, but brother, I am trying to help your kids, and I am doing it at the risk of a lot of folks getting mad. Listen, if I lose half the deacon board and two-thirds of the members, there is one thing I am going to do: Try to save your kids for Jesus’s sake before I have to take off. I am not mad at anybody, but the Devil, and I am weary of this crowd of left-wingers that are taking over our schools and ruining our kids. I am weary of these sex perverts, these people of loose morals, these Sweden-oriented teachers, and if you are not one of those, I am not talking about you, but there are thousands of them, and it is getting worse and worse all the time. This kind of garbage is what they are requiring and asking our kids to read. Now I have not even started yet, really. I wish I had time to do the whole thing. Let us go further.

Soul On Ice, Page 160: “I will not be free until the day I can have a white woman in my bed, and a white man minds his own business.” Page 170, I cannot even read this, “During _______, and at the moment of her_______, the black woman in the first throes of her_________.” I cannot even read it! It tells about a black woman and a white man, the entire story.

Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, published by Viking Press, Page 27, and this book is considered suggested reading. Page 27: “You ain’t too d-a-m-n holy to take a drink, are you?” “And I hear she’s a s-o-n of a ______(female dog).” That is the Grapes of Wrath. You thought that was a good book, didn’t you? You are not checking, are you? Well now you know. You ought to say, “My child is not going to be subjected to stuff like this anymore.”

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4. Sex. Coming into our schools are books, slides and filmstrips are not how babies are made. Now this is for our little children, little children in school. “How Babies Are Made” shows chickens and dogs in the act. It shows Mom and Dad in bed. It is climaxed with a few pictures of a nude mother giving birth to a baby who was conceived several pages earlier. That is being taught in our schools to little children. A coloring book of animals “in the act” is also available for the kiddies, as is a teacher’s guide which explains how babies are made. It “hopes to create an atmosphere of honesty and freedom of discussion concerning matters of reproduction, and to promote understanding and correct usage of the names of body parts.” This is for little children.

The teacher’s guide lists the following questions which are typical of those asked during a presentation of the story, “How Babies Are Made.” “When people lie down and face each other, does the woman become pregnant?” I cannot even read the rest of it, and I can’t believe they print this for little children.

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LISTEN TO ME! If every deacon in this church walks out on me, and if every member of this church gets mad and quits, or this church rises up tonight and says “Don’t you preach what you are preaching or we will fire you,” you can have your church and I will be on my way. I am going to fight this dastardly attempt by the Devil and his crowd to wreck our children and destroy our boys and girls. Brother, don’t you think this is a one-time-only sermon; you will be getting it right along.

Now what can you do?

1. Get in a good church. You say, “I will pray about it.” You do not have to pray about that; just get in a good church. You say, “I will do what the Lord leads.” He is leading you out of that liberal church now. Get in a good church. You say, “Where is a good one?” Well, see me after the service and I will recommend one to you.

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2. Get your child in all the activities of the church. All of them! When the doors open, get him here. Get Junior in the choir. “But he is thirteen; his voice is changing.” Okay, let him get up and sing sourly. That is how I sing all the time. Get him in the choir. You say, “He cannot sing.” Then let him hum. If he cannot hum, just let him move his mouth and pray nothing will come out. But you say, “Brother Hyles, Junior will not go.” Oh, brother. What in the world kind of parent are you? I dare my boy not to go when I say go. He is seventeen years old now and thinks he might be able to whip his dad, but I have some holds he does not know about. I will wring his neck if he does not obey me.

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3. Get your child in the Christian school. I mean it folks. Do I have to get on my knees and talk to you? Do I have to beg you? I know, I sit in my office. I know what happens.

I am going to say this if it harelips every dog in this county. I am going to make somebody mad, but I am going to say it. I am going to take a chance on making all of you mad tonight to save your kids. When our kids come home from college, they do not have to tell me which ones are coming home from state universities. I can spot them. Now if that be treason, make the most of it. I am trying to help you. I have tried the best I could to keep your kids from going to those state colleges. I have preached and preached and screamed and pleaded and begged and hollered and cried and made folks mad and chased folks off, trying to keep your kids from going there. I am doing it again tonight.

Get your kids in the Christian school. We have here, on this platform, a man who has to take second place to no principal when it comes to scholarship and education. None at all. We have a faculty at our school that does not have to bow to anybody’s faculty.

Ladies and gentlemen, your children do not have to go to the Devil anymore. Furthermore, we are opening a college in September of 1972. That means not that a child can start at our schools when he is four years of age and stay there for 16 years. They do not have to go to the Devil.

….

4. Give. It is going to take a lot of money for us to do what we are going to do. I mean some of you ought to give some property. You say, “Brother Hyles, what would you do with it?” We may start a school on it. Or we may trade it for some property where we can start a school. Somebody who owns fifty acres ought to just give ten acres to the church, just give it. You say, “Brother Hyles, it is a long way off.” You ought to just give it anyway. Give it to the church. How we will use it, I do not know, but we will use it. Just give it to the church. Somebody ought to give enough land for a school in some neighborhood, and when the time comes, we will develop it and have a school there. Give.

Somebody ought to give a thousand or ten thousand dollars. Listen, it is the best money you have ever spent, investing in this kind of money for our children. Also, you ought to put First Baptist Church in your Will. I do not mean nest month, I mean this week. I mean now. Go down to your lawyer and say, “Put First Baptist Church in my Will so when I die, I will still be helping to carry on the program of First Baptist Church and what it is trying to do.

The thing that every person ought to do is tithe. I am calling on every member of this church to give ten percent of his income from now on. Everyone–every child, every man, every woman, every boy, every girl, every couple–everybody! We cannot rise up and build and do what God wants us to do, unless we give. We have to do it! It is time we called a national emergency on the Devil. Let us save our children.

Of course, many of you have closed minds. You do not want to be confused with the facts; your mind is made up. You are too scholarly. Your mind is closed. If you could have interviewed the kids in our school before they went to school here, and if you knew them now, you would be a believer.

….

They are your kids! I have tried for years, and I’ll keep on trying to help them. I am not against anything or anyone except wrong, but I am against wrong wherever it is! I know what I’m called. I hear what gangs of boys say when they drive by the church and see me getting into my car. I know what is said on the radio, the newscasts, and the call-in programs. I am a fanatic. They said that I am a bigot (Do you know what the word “bigot” is? Bigot is a word used by bigots to describe decent people.) Yes, I know! I was walking in a shopping center the other day, and three boys spit at me. I get the phone calls. I get the letters. I’m a fool, but I’m glad to be one if I can help save your kids! We have dedicated ourselves to try to do it! Won’t you let us?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Man Endued with the Power of God at Wife’s Funeral

jack hyles praying
Jack Hyles Praying

If you are unfamiliar with Jack Hyles, please read The Legacy of Jack Hyles.

Excerpt from Woman the Completer, by the late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana:

“Dear Dr. Hyles. I am 24 years of age. I am a preacher boy whom God called to preach six months after I got saved three years ago. I felt led to go to a certain Bible college in a certain state. I attended there until God called me to pastor a small church. I was ordained. From there, God led me back to a certain city in a certain state where I got saved under Dr. Joe Doe. (I’m using ficticious names.) I worked on the staff of Dr. Doe for that summer and started to go to the Letot Bible Institute that fall.

As I started to go to school that fall, I got a full-time position in a church as assistant pastor and youth director. While I was in a certain state, I met and married a wonderful girl, a spiritual girl, a girl that loved Jesus Christ. As we lived in Letot, I was working for a church in a certain place. I seemed to be getting away from soul winning and getting deeper into the books. After awhile I was not doing what God wanted me to do and what God made me to do. I was not knocking on doors and winning people to Jesus Christ. My not being the man of God I ought to be affected my marriage. It affected my marriage to the extent that my wife told me at one time that if I didn’t become the soul winner that God wants me to be, she couldn’t respect me as a man of God, and she thinks. . . .”

“One afternoon as I was leaving from school, my wife and I seemed to be in the flesh. We didn’t have devotions that day and pray as we usually do. I walked out of the house without telling her I loved her and without telling her good-bye. As I got to school, I felt bad, so I called on the phone, and there was no answer. I knew something was wrong. I drove home immediately and found my wife had committed suicide.”

“As we had her funeral in her hometown up North, I went a half hour early before her relatives and friends viewed the body. I walked in and put my head on my wife’s chest in the casket and was hoping that she would lean up and hold me, kiss me, cuddle me, baby me and tell me that she loved me, but she wasn’t there–she was with the Lord. I then fell on my face before the casket and talked with God. Something happened to me there that I can’t explain, but for once in my life I had the full power of God, but what a price to have to pay! As her friends and relatives came by the casket, I stood there like a soldier witnessing and telling them about Jesus Christ. I feel, Dr. Hyles, that God is leading me to Hyles-Anderson College to learn more about Him and learn more about character and discipline and be the man that God wants me to be.”

Does anyone really believe this story is true? I know I don’t. Jack Hyles was a pathological liar, often spinning yarns, half-truths, and exaggerations in his sermons. Such behavior is not uncommon in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist circles.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Jack Hyles Tells Christian Women it is All Up to Them

john r rice and jack hyles
John R Rice of Sword of the Lord Fame and Jack Hyles

If you are unfamiliar with Jack Hyles, please read The Legacy of Jack Hyles.

Excerpt from Woman the Completer, by the late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana:

…It’s difficult to imagine that this beautiful queen of the Garden of Eden, the one who filled every need of Adam, could possess in her breast the hatred of Herodias, who had John the Baptist’s head served in a platter! It’s hard to believe that she could be a soiled Rahab, who could sell her body to the hands and lusts of wicked men. It’s hard to believe that this beautiful one has the potential so that her feet could carry her to Moab with Naomi. It’s hard to believe that these lips could possess the potential of lying as did Sapphira. There behind her smile dwells the possibility of hatred and the disposition of Abigail.

Ladies, it is up to you, as it was to Eve, to decide, for there is in your breast all the loyalty of Sarah, the loveliness of Rachel, the tenderness of Mary, the servitude Martha, the patience of the mother of Christ (His earthly mother), and the gentleness of Rebecca. There is also a bit of Jezebel, Athalia, Michal, Abigail and the others. It is up to you to decide.

Whether it be good or bad, there is one thing that woman always does; she determines the spirit and the atmosphere of any place where she is present.

Woman was not made to till the soil, she was not made to build the house, she was not made to steer the crane, nor stack the brick, nor hew the stones, nor build the road, nor head the state, nor lead the church, nor reap the harvest.

It is woman’s job to determine the atmosphere while the soil is being tilled. It is woman’s job to determine the atmosphere while the house is being built. Though it is not her job to steer the crane, it is her job to make happy the one who steers the crane. It’s not her job to stack the brick nor hew the stone; it’s her job to make a wonderful spirit and atmosphere while the brick is being stacked and the stone is being hewn. It’s not her job to build the road, nor head the state, nor lead the church, nor reap the harvest. Everywhere woman has ever been, it has been her job to provide the spirit of atmosphere while man does his work and changes the course of history.

Woman can make Eden a paradise if she so chooses, or she can curse everything in it, as she did. She can make an ark a lifeboat and the Nile River a nursery if she wants to, or she can curse her husband in Job’s ash heap. It’s her choice! She can ruin a nation as did Jezebel or she can change a house into a church as did Priscilla. She can make a preaching service great by giving all or ruin one by withholding some as did Sapphira. She can fill the house with Mary’s ointment or she can fill it with Michal’s hatred. She can save a nation as did Esther or she, like Jezebel, can destroy one…

…That’s your job–brighten your corner! The atmosphere of the office is determined more by the spirit of the secretaries than that of the bosses. The atmosphere of the home is determined more by the mother and wife than by the father and the children.

Man looks to you first to see in what kind of mood you are now. Your husband comes home at night and one of the first things he wants to know is, “What kind of a mood is she in tonight??’ His evening is brightened or saddened according to your mood! Why? Man doesn’t determine the mood of the house; you do! You are the Holy Spirit of the home.

You won’t get the praises man gets. You won’t get your name in the paper like he does. You won’t get your name honored like he does, and you won’t be as big, as strong and as much of a leader. He is the Father, the children are the Son, but you are the Holy Spirit. The whole atmosphere wherever you are is determined by you.

Did you know that God has made it so that your spirit can overwhelm the spirit of man? He is stronger than you as far as your body is concerned. Your emotions could never do it, because there is more emotional stability in a man than in you, but there is one place where you can always overpower your guy or any guy and that is your attitude, the spirit, the atmosphere!

Sometimes your home is happy; sometimes it’s blue. Its disposition depends on you.Sometimes the place you work is happy; sometimes it’s blue. Its disposition depends on you. Sometimes your school is happy; sometimes it’s blue. Its disposition depends on you. Sometimes your church is happy; sometimes it’s blue. Its disposition depends on you…

….That’s what it’s all about. It’s your job to comfort. Dad’s not a very good comforter; in fact, he’s a weak comforter. Dad’s a horrible spirit-determiner or atmosphere-determiner. He waits on you…

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Don’t Quit

dont quit
Pain is temporary? Come walk in the shoes of those who haven’t had a pain free day in years.

The late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, was known for telling preachers DON’T QUIT! Hyles even wrote a poem on the subject:

When the cup is turned to wormwood,
And the wormwood turns to gall;
When your walking turns to stumbling,
And the stumbling to a fall;
When you’ve climbed above the mountains,
Yet the Alps rise rough and tall;
DON’T QUIT.

When the path ahead is crooked,
And the road’s too rough to tread;
When the best upon the table
Is replaced by sorrow’s bread;
When you’ve crossed some troubled waters,
Yet a Marah’s just ahead; (Exodus 15;16)
DON’T QUIT.

When the vultures have descended
And disturbed your downy nest;
When sweet fruit has changed to thistle,
While the thorns disturb your rest;
When a deep to deep is calling,
And when failure seems your best;
DON’T QUIT.

When the Lord has cleansed the table;
Then He takes away the fat;
And the best wine has been taken,
Till you find an empty vat;
When another fills the throne room
Where once you proudly sat;
DON’T QUIT.

When your health is feeling sickly,
And the medicine tastes bad;
When your fellowship is lonely,
And your happiness is sad;
When your warmth is getting colder,
And in clouds your sunshine’s clad;
DON’T QUIT.

When you find your wins are losses,
And that all your gains are lacks;
When ill things never come alone,
And your troubles run in packs;
When your soul is bruised and battered
From the Tempter’s fierce attacks;
DON’T QUIT.

Be not weary in well doing,
For due seasons bring the grain;
He who on the Lord hath waited
Shall never run in vain;
The just man falleth seven times,
Yet riseth up again;
DON’T QUIT.

I heard Jack Hyles many times implore preachers to never, ever quit. Dr. Tom Malone, chancellor of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) college I attended in the 1970s, Midwestern Baptist College, frequently reminded students that God never blesses quitters. Students who dropped out of school were excoriated and labeled quitters — men who would never, ever be blessed by God. When my wife and I left Midwestern before graduating, a friend of ours told us, “You will never amount to anything for God. God doesn’t use quitters.” Polly and I went on to spend twenty-five years in the ministry. Our friend? He graduated but never spent one day in the ministry.

Certainly having a bulldog never-quit spirit can lead men and women to do great things. Life can be hard, and successfully making it through this life often requires us to fight and refuse to give in. However, when DON’T QUIT becomes the proverbial tail that wags the dog, it can result in people hanging on when they really should be letting go.

I learned that it is okay to quit (walk away from) toxic churches. I learned that it is okay to stop helping people who are sponges that suck the life out of all who come their way. Not everyone deserves my love, compassion, care, and kindness. I have found that it is better to walk away than let people ruin my life.

I have learned that it is okay to give in and give up. Realists understand the lay of life’s topography and refuse to let the demands of wishful thinking cause unnecessary physical and psychological pain. I know first-hand how hard it can be to quit doing things. Chronic pain and illness have forced me to quit doing a number of things. DON’T QUIT still taunts me, but I no longer let it force me to do things I can no longer do. Just this past weekend, I dismantled my office, knowing that I will never sit in my office chair again for any length of time. Too painful, thanks to the herniated discs in my back, a torn labrum in my shoulder, and widespread arthritis and muscle pain. I now do all of my writing for this site on the couch or in a recliner. I shed a few tears as yet another aspect of my life went by the wayside, but it was time. It’s been eighteen months since I used the computer in my office. No amount of wishing was going to restore that which has been lost. Time to metaphorically turn off the lights and lock the door.

Quitting is not failure. It is the admission that I can no longer do something. Quitting is me being honest with myself and not letting the demands of others control what I do with my short life. Several years ago, I wanted to learn woodworking. I foolishly invested several thousand dollars in equipment that went unused. Try as I might, I was unable, because of my physical limitations, to do what I wanted to do. I had no other choice but to quit. I have whittled my life down to three things I greatly value: family, photography, and writing. And photography might be on the cutting board soon. I struggle to hang on, knowing that if I let go of these things, what is left?

I know I am losing the battle against pain, illness, and time. I wonder, what more will I have to quit doing?  I have given up so much, yet my body cares not. It continues to demand that I quit, quit, quit until nothing is left. I continue to fight, holding on to the few things I can still do (safely and skillfully). I know, thanks to osteoarthritis, that there will likely come a day when I can no longer write. Even now, my hands, arms, and shoulders scream in pain as I write. I ignore the screams, but I do know that someday I will be forced to give up. I know that the ravages of arthritis and fibromyalgia will one day force me to use a wheelchair all the time. For now, I push back — often stupidly so — refusing to admit that I am a broken-down old man. Will there come a day when I stop pushing? Maybe. Time will tell. All I know to do, for now, is to accept, adjust, and move foward.

Do you suffer from chronic pain or illness? How have you adjusted to your new reality? Please share your experiences in the comment section.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

The IFB War Against Long Hair on Men

gerencser boys 1989
My Three Oldest Sons Sporting Baptist Haircuts, Somerset Baptist Church, 1989

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (I Corinthians 11:14)

According to many Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers, 1 Corinthians 11:14 is clear: it is shameful and against nature for a man to have long hair. The late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, made it his life’s mission to rid American men of what he considered effeminate long hair. In a sermon titled, Satan’s Bid for Your Child, Hyles stated:

God pity you people who call yourselves Christians and wear your long hair, beard and sideburns like a bunch of heathens. God, clean you up! Go to the barber shop tomorrow morning, and I am not kidding. It is time God’s people looked like God’s people. Good night, let folks know you are saved! There are about a dozen of you fellows here tonight who look like you belong to a Communist-front organization. You say, “I do not.” Then look like you do not. You say, “I do not like that kind of preaching.” You can always lump anything you do not like here.

In the booklet titled Jesus Had Short Hair, Hyles made the connection between male hair length and homosexuality. In Hyles’ eyes, men with longer hair were more likely to be sissified, weak homos. Hyles wrote:

It is very interesting that as the trend toward long hair increases, the acceptance of homosexuality increases. This is not to say that long hair and homosexuality always go together, but it is to note the fact that both are on the rise in our generation. Several of the major denominations have now accepted homosexuals. In some cities there are churches for homosexuals pastored by avowed homosexuals. At least one major denomination has ordained a homosexual preacher and others are considering following suit.

IFB preaching against long hair on men found its impetus as men began to grow their hair longer in the late 1960s and 1970s. Hippies had long hair and were anti-establishment. IFB preachers viewed long hair on men as a sign of rebellion against parental and religious authority. As anyone raised in the IFB church movement knows, rebellion is considered a grave sin, one that is never to be tolerated by parents or churches. This view of rebellion led to the establishment of IFB group homes, places where frustrated parents sent their children to be cured of rebellion. Sadly, children sent to these homes often returned to mom and dad emotionally and mentally broken. In some instances, these rebellious children had been physically and sexually assaulted.

In the IFB church movement of the 1970s, the four big sins were: long hair on men, short skirts on women, pants on women, and rock music. Youth directors waged holy wars against these sins and pastors frequently excoriated church teenagers over their unwillingness to obey the rules. While the days of hippies, Woodstock, and free love have faded into the pages of American history, many IFB preachers still preach against long hair, short skirts, pants, and rock music.

There are numerous unaccredited IFB colleges and Bible institutes in the United States. With few exceptions, these institutions strictly regulate how men must wear their hair. I attended Midwestern Baptist College from 1976-79. Midwestern had a strict standard concerning hair: short, off the ears, no long bangs, short sideburns, no facial hair, and a tapered neckline. This standard was strictly enforced, and men who let their hair grow too long were told to get a haircut. Ignoring this demand resulted in suspension or expulsion.

While some IFB preachers, churches, and colleges have adapted to the times, many have not. Midwestern Baptist College is one such institution that still thinks it is 1976. Here is Midwestern’s male hair standard, as published in their 2013-14 student handbook:

Men are to be neat in appearance and dressed properly at all times. The hair is to be cut over the ears and tapered at the back above the collar. Sideburns are to be no lower than the middle of the ear. Hair must be no longer than the middle of the forehead in front. Men may not have facial hair unless approved by the Dean of Students. Such facial hair must be neatly groomed at all times. Faddish, worldly hairstyles will not be tolerated. The final decision as to the appropriateness of a hairstyle will rest with the Administration.

As a loyal, faithful son of the IFB church movement, from the time I was a child until the late 1990s, I had short hair. As an IFB preacher, I thought it important to model the hairstyle God approved. While I didn’t preach very often on men having long hair, my short hairstyle made it clear to church members where I stood on the matter. Not only was my hair a testimony to the notion that the Bible condemned long hair, but so was the hair of my three oldest sons. My sons spent many years looking similar to children who were either being treated for lice or recently released from a Nazi prison camp. Not wanting to spend money on haircuts, we bought a pair of clippers and periodically gave them buzz cuts. No protestations allowed. Sit down, buzz, next. I am sure, at the time, they hated me, and I don’t blame them.

charles spurgeon
Charles Spurgeon, a 19th Century English Baptist Preacher

Over time, my views on hair began to change. In the early 1990s, I grew a beard, much to the surprise of my fellow IFB preachers. By then I had distanced myself from the more extreme elements of the IFB church movement, and I began fellowshipping with Calvinistic-oriented Reformed and Sovereign Grace Baptist preachers. These men, refugees from IFB churches, didn’t have as many social hangups. While they were still quite Fundamentalist, these preachers spent little time preaching on things such as male hair length and facial hair. Charles Spurgeon was one of this movement’s patron saints and he had long hair and a beard. I thought at the time, if Spurgeon had long hair and a beard, it must be okay for me to do the same.

Several years ago, Polly and I drove to Newark, Ohio to visit her parents. While there, my IFB mother-in-law asked me about my hair. I had let my hair grow, longer than it had ever been. (I know, I know, it’s hard for some of you to believe I actually had hair at one time.) Mom, who attends a church that is anti-long hair on men, asked, So you are growing your hair long? I replied, Yes. She responded, Why? And with nary a thought, I replied, Because I can. I am sure she was disappointed that I let myself turn into a hippie. She later asked if I planned to put my hair in a ponytail like my former brother-in-law does I told her I didn’t plan to let my hair grow that long.

These days, I am bald and Polly wears her hair short (unlike the days when her hair was long in compliance with her husband’s interpretation of the Bible). We have a hard, fast agreement: we don’t criticize each other’s hairstyles. While we do, at times, defer to one another, both of us are free to wear our hair as we wish. Now that we have cast off the shackles of Fundamentalism, we are free to do what we want. FREEDOM! As I have mentioned before, Polly and I missed out on the wildness of the 1960s and 1970s. Both of us were members of hardcore IFB churches that strictly regulated dress, hairstyles, and conduct. Now that we are no longer psychologically chained to IFB beliefs, we are, to some degree, living, for the first time, the 1960s and 1970s. On the plus side, we are much wiser than we were forty-five years ago. On the negative side, we also have bodies that are forty years older. Oh, to be wise and young!

How about you? Did you grow up in a church that strictly regulated dress, hairstyle, and behavior? Were you compliant or rebellious? If you were rebellious, how did your church and parents respond to your rebellion? Please share your hair-raising experiences in the comment section.

(Please read my previous post on this subject, Is it a Sin for a Man to Have Long Hair?)

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Why Do So Many Evangelicals Abuse Their Children?

jesus spanking sinners

Now there’s a title sure to get everyone’s attention!

Why do so many Evangelicals abuse their children?

The reason is primarily a theological one (though they might not even realize it is).

Most Christian sects believe in some form of original sin (depravity).

The theology goes something like this:

  • Every human is born with a sin nature (original sin)
  • This sin nature is inherited from the daddy of the human race, Adam
  • Humans  have no choice in this matter

So, from birth, children are sinners. They have no choice in the matter. They are what all human being are — sinners.

The implications of this belief are huge.

The Bible says:

A baby is born speaking lies

The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Psalm 58:3

A baby is conceived in iniquity and sin

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5

A baby is the enemy of God

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:4

A baby is alienated from God

The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Psalm 58:3

A baby is born into the world under the wrath of God

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Romans 1:18

I am sure someone will object to some of the verses I just quoted. “Those verses apply to ADULT sinners.” 

Really? Have you thought out the implications of your theology.? Is there any difference in God’s eyes between a baby sinner and an adult sinner? Does God have a sin chart he uses to keep score and rate the quality of the sins committed?

I thought in the eyes of God that every sin is the same. Sure, the consequences are different from sin to sin, but God sees every sin as an affront to his Holy nature. Every sin is an act of rebellion against God. In his eyes, there is no difference between when a baby “lies” about being hungry, wet, etc.  just so he can get his mother’s attention and a serial killer who murders five people. Sin is sin. Sinners sin. That’s what they do.

Ugly isn’t it? When you shine the clear, bright, light of reason on the doctrine of original sin it reveals its hideousness for all to see.

Some sects realize there is a big problem with the whole notion of original sin, so they invent doctrines to address it:

  • Catholics and many Protestants baptize infants, washing away their original sin. They are then safe until they reach a place of accountability for their sin.
  • Some Baptists and Evangelicals teach that while babies are indeed born sinners, they are not accountable for their sins until they reach the age of accountability. Some churches say accountability begins at age twelve. Others say it is an indefinite age, and once children can understand the difference between right and wrong and understand the penalty for sin (death and Hell), they are then accountable for their sins.
  • Some Calvinists, especially Reformed five-pointers, baptize babies as a sign of the covenant between the parents and God. Baptized children are raised as children of God until they prove they are not.

In Baptist and many Evangelical churches, an emphasis is placed on evangelizing children. The theory is that if you don’t win them when they are young you risk losing them to sin, Satan, and the world. Most children raised in churches like this make professions of faith at a very young age. My wife was five and I was six when we made our FIRST (certainly not our last) professions of faith. It is not uncommon to hear testimonies about little Johnny coming to his mother asking her about being saved. And right there by the bed they knelt and Johnny prayed out loud and asked Jesus into his heart.

The programs of child-evangelizing churches reflect the importance of making sure children become born-again Christians. Sunday school, junior church, and youth group are geared towards children becoming Christians, and most importantly, staying in the church. Without children in the church pipeline, attendance and offerings dwindle, as is the case in many Evangelical sects today.

Why do children need to be saved? For the same reason adults do. They are sinners. They are rebellious towards God. They are the enemies of God. They deserve judgment and Hell, or so say Evangelicals anyway.

One of the tools that God allegedly gave to parents to use with their children is the rod of correction. Spanking, whipping, beating, and hitting children are all used to teach them that sin has consequences. In a very warped and perverse way, children are told their moms or dads hit them because they love them.

After all, the Bible clearly teaches that God whips his children because he loves them. Who wouldn’t want to follow in the steps of Jesus?

If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? Hebrews 12:7-9

◉ My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Proverbs 3:11,12

This is aptly illustrated in the death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus accepted and endured the violent wrath of his Father. Why? Because he was bearing our sin (substitutionary atonement). Our sin deserved the wrath of God and Jesus took that wrath upon himself. In other words, God beat his son Jesus for what we did.

Is it any wonder that Evangelical parents think it is normal, even spiritual, to spank, whip, beat, slap, or hit their children?

The Bible teaches it is a parent’s duty to beat his or her children.

◉ Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge. Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. Proverbs 23:12-14

◉ Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Proverbs 22:15

Video Link

There are two major cultural influences that encourage the abuse of children.

First, while we are NOT a Christian nation, we ARE a Christian nation. The teachings I have mentioned in this post are believed and practiced by many American families. Every day, the news has another story of parents who abused their children. I wonder if the abusers are ever questioned about what religious training they received? I suspect religious indoctrination and conditioning played a big part in their disciplinary practices.

The Christian ethos runs deep in our culture. Being whipped for transgressions is thought to be as American as baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Paddling school children for misbehaving is finally becoming a thing of the past in America, but many of us can remember a day when someone getting paddled was a common, everyday occurrence (as I experienced first-hand). We call it corporal punishment, but its real name is child abuse.

Listen to older Americans as they complain about how unruly kids are today and how disrespectful they are: “Why when I was a kid my momma got a peach switch and beat me when I misbehaved.“ “When daddy got home we knew we were gonna get it with his belt. We learned to behave because Daddy beat us.”  “A little beating never hurt anybody.”

What’s the message that the Bible, God, the church, and older Americans are sending? That violence is a good and necessary tool to use when children disobey (sin). I should note, in passing, that this thinking permeates our culture. Our government leaders do this every day when they say, in their justification of war, that violence will bring peace.  Through violence we whip countries that sin against us until they stop doing so. In short, violence begets violence. Violence never begets peace, At best, it brings a cessation of hostilities. If we want true, lasting peace, we must be peacemakers, and our peacemaking must begin at home with our children and families.

Second, preachers have a huge influence over families. Their sermons on the family, parenting, marriage, and children have deep, abiding influences.

How often have church children heard from their pastors: Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Colossians 3:20

Of course, verse 21 is NOT heard as often: Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

While preachers will say they are just repeating what God said, their interpretations and applications of verses that advocate beating children often provide a blueprint for child abuse. For those of us raised in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches, books written by men like John R Rice and Jack Hyles provided us with the Biblical justification for violence against our children.

In many instances, it was generational abuse. Our great-grandfather beat our grandfather, who beat our father, who beat us, and we, like those before us, beat our children. It’s an ugly chain of violence, one that must be broken.

As I scoured the internet for source material from the God wants you to beat your children perspective, I was humored by how nuanced they have become. This is the right way, this is the wrong way. This is “biblical” discipline, this is child abuse. I see their justifications and explanations as an admission that the Evangelical church has a huge problem with God-sanctioned, Bible-approved, pastor-encouraged child abuse. Countless Evangelical how-to books have been written, yet parents continue to violently abuse their children, sometimes even putting them in the hospital or killing them. Thanks to the Internet, we now know that abuse in the name of God happens far more often than Evangelical church leaders would dare to admit.

Here’s the advice Focus on the Family gives about spanking

This is an extremely practical method that will save you a lot of second-guessing. Remember the point of a spanking: It’s to sting, to provide a painful deterrent to misbe­havior, not to injure.

The Bible never implies that the rod of discipline should be violent. It offers no specifics about how hard a spanking should be, and there’s no reason to assume that it’s talking about a brutal form of punishment. Just the opposite, in fact. A parent who reaches back and swings hard is acting out of anger and frustration, not out of love and desire for the child’s welfare. That’s unbiblical by anyone’s definition.

When you spank, use a wooden spoon or some other appropri­ately sized paddle and flick your wrist. That’s all the force you need. It ought to hurt — an especially difficult goal for mothers to accept —  and it’s okay if it produces a few tears and sniffles. If it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t really discipline, and ultimately it isn’t very loving because it will not be effective in modifying the child’s behavior.

Have the child lean over his bed and make sure you apply the discipline with a quick flick of the wrist to the fatty tissue of the buttocks, where a sting can occur without doing any damage to the body. You want to be calm, in control, and focused as you firmly spank your child, being very careful to respect his body.

From Michael and Debi Pearl’s book, To Train Up a Child:

“One mother, while reading an early manuscript of this book, was being pulled on by her whining twelve-month-old daughter. When the mother came to the part (above) about not allowing a child to whine (“If they are tired put them to bed.”), she decided to apply what she was reading. She put her daughter down and told her to go to sleep. The sleepy child responded by crying in protest. Following the book’s instructions, she spanked the child and told her to stop crying and go to sleep. The child had previously been trained to spend an hour intermittently crying and getting up, only to be fussed at and laid back down. Nevertheless, the spanking subdued the crying and caused her to lie still. The mother continued her reading, and after a while she looked up to see that the child had very quietly slipped to the floor to browse through a book. The mother smiled at how sweet and quiet the child was. Without interruption, she continued her reading.

Reading further, she contemplated the fact that the child had not obeyed. “But she is being so good and is not bothering me,” the mother thought. She then realized the issue was not whether the child was bothering her, but whether or not she was learning to obey. She rightly concluded that by allowing the child to quietly sit on the floor at the foot of her bed, where she would eventually go to sleep, she was effectively training the child to be in rebellion to the rule of law. Out of love for her child, the mother inconvenienced herself and shattered the quiet solitude by spanking the child and again telling her to stay in the bed and go to sleep. An hour later the waking child was cheerful.”

“Select your instrument according to the child’s size. For the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.”

Here’s what John Piper says about spanking:

Would Jesus spank a child? If so, where would you point someone biblically who can’t imagine him doing this?

If Jesus were married and had children, I think he would have spanked the children.

The place that I would go to help a person see that he would, when they can’t imagine that he would, is Matthew 5 where he said, “Not a jot nor a tittle will pass away from the Law until all is accomplished.” In other words, all the Law and the Prophets stand until they’re done. And the Law says, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” That’s a paraphrase. The book of Proverbs says, “If you withhold the rod, you hate your son.” Jesus believed the Bible, and he would have done it.

Now, that does not address the heart of the issue. The heart of the issue is: Why does this person feel this way? What worldview inclines a person to think that you shouldn’t spank a child? Where does that come from?

Well it comes straight out of this culture, I think. There’s a sign that used to be on the side of the 35W bridge, on the right as you go north. And the sign simply said this: “Never, never, never, never, never hurt a child.” That’s all it said! And spanking is equated with hurting children. It’s against the law in Sweden to spank a child. And it’s against the law, I think, in some states in America. I’m not sure.

Well, I will go to jail over that issue! Talitha is to the point where I don’t think in terms of spanking my 13-year-old daughter anymore. But I did when she was little.

I could give a whole theology of spanking here, but maybe I’ll just boil it down. Why does this person feel squeamish about spanking? My guess is that it is a wrong view of God.

Deep down, does this person believe that God brings pain into our lives? Because Hebrews 12:6 makes the direct connection: God disciplines every son whom he loves, and spanks everyone that he delights in (my paraphrase). And the point there is suffering. God brings sufferings into our lives, and the writer of the Hebrews connects it to the parenting of God of his children.

This is a wrong view of God! God uses suffering to discipline his children. So do we.

Now, you don’t damage a child. You don’t give him a black eye or break his arm. Children have little fat bottoms so that they can be whopped.

When my sons were three and four years old, at their worst stages, drawing with orange crayons on the wall, they knew what was going to happen. So one day, just to give you an illustration of how this works emotionally, I found an orange mark on the wall in the hall upstairs from a crayon. Just about Barnabas’ height. And he’s three or four.

So I get Barnabas. I say, “Come here Barnabas. Did you make that mark on the wall.”

“Yes.” At least he’s honest.

I said, “We have a rule against that. You know you cannot draw on the wall with your crayons. You’re old enough to know that.”

“Yes.”

“So what should happen?”

“A spanking.”

I said, “That’s right.” So I take him in the room, and whop! And he cries easy, so he cries. And when he’s done crying, there’s a big hug. And I say, “Don’t do that again, OK? Daddy loves you and we don’t mark on the wall, OK?”

Three minutes later he is bouncing off the walls, happy happy happy.

Now if I had said to him, “You go into your room and you sit there and you stay there until you feel appropriately guilty, and then we’ll see if you come out and do the right thing,” what a wicked way to punish a child!

Spanking is so clean! It’s so quick! It’s so relieving! A kid feels like he has done atonement and he is out of there and happy.

To these modern ideas of timeout, or sitting in the corner, I say, “Bologna! Give me a spanking! I want to go play!”

I just think spanking is really healthy for children. It is a measured deliverance of a non-damaging act of mild pain that makes the child feel the seriousness of what he’s done. It is not beating. It is not abuse. There is a clear difference. The very word “spank” exists because there is such a thing as a loving way to whop a child on his behind or his chunky thigh.

According to Baptist Mom, Nicole Munoz:(link no longer active)

Spanking teaches a child to develop inner self-discipline.

Spanking is punishment for a crime, payment for a debt. In other words, once paid, they have a clean slate. Spanking takes away the guilt, because the crime has been paid for.

Spanking properly prevents abuse because the parent does not build up anger toward the child and then explode on the child.

Spanking is the most effective tool for child discipline.

Spanking insures a good parent-child relationship.

Spanking works.

Spanking is Biblical, Christian behaviour.

Spanking teaches a lesson and decreases child violence.

According to David Stewart:

The Bible teaches that a parent who loves their child will spank them. Proverbs 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” America’s prisons are filled with youth and adults whose parents didn’t agree with God. No parent is right with God who allows their children to run the streets, not knowing where they’re at all times and keeping tabs on them. It is every parent’s responsibility to protect their child, to keep away from bad influences. The Devil knows that children are very impressionable and he has a bid for your child!

God put that padded area in the back for a reason. A child should only be spanked on the buttocks, which is why God made that area well upholstered. Child abuse is a sin. No parent should ever knee-jerk their child in anger. A good ole belt across the rear-end hurts like heck, but won’t break a bone. Sticks or boards are hard and should not be used. Hard objects should not be used, which may cause injury. In the old days, parents would make a flexible switch from a small tree branch. Perhaps you think that whipping your child is abuse, but not disciplining a child (so that they grow up to spend their life rotting behind bars in prison as a criminal) is a thousand times worse!…

According to Jack Hyles, in his book, How to Rear Children:

The Bible is clear that little children are born in sin. Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” Because of this God has given parents to children to discipline then, to spank them, and to teach them the awful results of wrong. The plain teaching of the Scripture is that the parent who disciplines his child does the child and parent a great favor. Let us notice these favors.

The parent who spanks the child teaches him to have wisdom. Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof have wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” The child is taught the wisdom that sin does not pay and that it brings displeasure, discomfort, and heartache. He will learn to associate wrong with punishment and thereby flee from it.

The parent who spanks his child provides himself with a happy future. Proverbs 29:15b, “. . . .but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” Oh, the heartbreak endured by parents who have failed to discipline their children. Many such are decaying old folks’ homes across the nation and around the world. They sit by silent telephones and search through empty mail boxes made so by the ungrateful child whose life is bringing shame and reproach to Mother and Dad. While these lovely souls pine their hearts away in remorse, their old-fashioned counterparts enjoy security, protection, provision, and love from those whom they spanked and disciplined as children.

The parent who spanks his child guarantees him a clean life. Proverbs 20:30, “The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil; so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.” In other words, the parent who disciplines cleanses the child from evil character and inward sin. The child has been taught that sin brings trouble. He learns to fear and hate it. Someday he will rise and call his parents blessed.

The parent who spanks his child offers for himself more opportunities for service to God. In writing to Timothy in I Timothy 3:4,5 Paul says that a pastor should be one who “ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” He also disqualifies from the office of deacon one who does not control his children properly. I Timothy 3:12, “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” Hence, one who does not follow God’s plain teaching about discipline is not qualified to hold either of the offices in the New Testament church. God will not use men who disobey Him in this vital matter. One reason God blessed Abraham so mightily is the fact that he could trust him to “command his children and his household after him,” according to Genesis 18:17-19…

The disciplining parent adds years to the life of his child. Exodus 20:12, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” What a favor the parent has done to the child when he disciplines and spanks him. He literally adds years to his life.

The parent who corrects his child will probably save the life of the child. Proverbs 23:13 says, “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.” Now at first reading we might be led to believe that the teaching of this verse is that the rod itself will not kill the child and certainly this is true if administered properly, but there is another teaching here: The child who has been spanked and taught that doing wrong brings bad results, tragedy, and punishment will less likely brawl or be killed in a car wreck because of drinking while driving. He is not as likely to die of some terrible disease caused by sin. In other words, he will be taught to live a safer life than he would have lived had he not been disciplined. Ah, how fortunate is such a one.

The parent who spanks the child keeps him from going to hell. Proverbs 23:14, “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” A child who is spanked will be taught that there is a holy God Who punishes sin and wrong. Hence, he will learn to heed authority and obey the laws and rules. When he then hears the Word of God he will obey what he hears and will accept the Gospel as it is preached. The parent has kept his child from hell by teaching him truths that can be learned only by discipline and the use of the rod.

The spanking parent teaches his child how to equip himself better for the future, for he will obtain a better education. When the child has been taught to respect authority, obey the rules, and keep the laws before he starts to school he then transfers this obedience and respect to his school teacher. Because of this he receives a better education, better equips himself for life, and will be of more value to society and reap a larger financial reward. Hence, the parent who disciplines his child Scripturally is putting money in his pocket and success in his future.

Jack Hyles gave this spanking advice to parents:

Let the child realize that you are simply representing God in the execution of the punishment. Explain to him that parents represent God before their children and that they are ministers to execute His judgment. Psalm 103:13 says, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” So God is like a father and He chooses fathers and mothers to represent Him in the punishing of little children. Let the child realize that if you as a parent do not punish him properly, you are being disobedient to God and committing the same sin the child is committing. Explain to him that you are a child of God and if you refuse to obey God in the execution of His judgment upon your children, God will pour out His wrath upon you. For you to be a good child of God requires that you be a good parent to the child. Let him understand this. He will get the idea that God is a holy and just God, One Who loves and yet One Who wants us to become out best. For this to be so He must punish us when we are deserving.

Sometimes spanking should leave stripes on the child. Proverbs 20:30 says, “The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil; so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.” Our natural man rebels a such punishment, but we are reminded in I Corinthians 2:14 that the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit. Hence, we have to trust the God Who knows more than we and obey Him.

I can recall when I was a boy we had a peach tree in the back yard. I do not ever recall seeing a peach grow on that tree. When I think of the old peach tree I think of Mother walking back from it with a branch in her hand, peeling the leaves off as she came. I then recall her using that switch to spank my little bare legs. I can still see the stripes often left by that switch, and I thank God for every one of them. Today I call her “blessed” because of her faithfulness to the teaching of God and her willingness to obey Him. Placing stripes on me as a child kept me from bearing more painful ones as an adult. Ephesians 6:4 says, “And, ye fathers. . . bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The word “nurture” means “chastening.” It is the same word that is used concerning the scourging of Christ as He was beaten with the cat-o’-nine-tails. The wise and spiritual parent obeys God and follows His commandments, not his own reason.

Begin early in spanking the child. Susannah Wesley said she spanked John and Charles before they were a year old. Certainly the wise parent will start by at least this age. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” This means there is a time in a child’s life when no hope is left. During the formative years, yea, the infant years, the child should be spanked. As soon as his is old enough to walk away from his parents he should be spanked if he does not walk where they say he should walk. As soon as he is old enough to understand what they say he should be spanked if he disobeys what they say. This Scripture admonishes us that even when a child is so young that his crying reaches our sympathy, and though it is hard for us as compassionate parents to spank one who seems so innocent, we should nevertheless discipline him. Parents should not have to remove vases and delicate glass ornaments from living room tables. A house need not become disorderly and full of riots because a baby has come. Start early in disciplining the child.

The parent should build such a close relationship that the worst part of the spanking is the broken fellowship between the child and the parent. I can still recall how disappointed my mother’s face looked when she spanked me and I can recall how I dreaded displeasing her even more than I dreaded the spanking, (and believe me, I DID dread the spanking). When the love and affection is close between the child and parent and the relationship is what it ought to be, the worst part of a whipping is the broken fellowship. In other words, when the parent is not disciplining, the relationship should be so wonderful, the fellowship so sweet, and life so happy that the severance of that in itself is terrible punishment for the child to endure.

The spanking should be a ritual. No mother or father should jerk the child up and in a fit of temper administer a spanking. In fact, no punishment should ever be given in a fit of temper. The ritual should be deliberate and last at least ten or fifteen minutes. (In the long run time will be saved using this method.) It should be a ritual dreaded by the child. He should not only dread the pain but the time consumed in the ordeal.

The punishment should always be far in excess of the pleasure enjoyed by doing wrong. The child should realize he will always be the loser by far and that the discomfort will be so multiplied that soon he will have forgotten the pleasure derived from the wrong.

The parent should state very clearly to the child the wrongs and the punishment for each one. As near as possible these wrongs should be listed with the punishment that is to be inflicted for each one. If the punishment does not seem to correct it, then perhaps it should be increased. Some parents have made lists of possible wrongs and have carefully gone over this list with the child explaining exactly what each punishment would be. The punishment is inflicted without exception so that the child will know exactly what to expect.

Before punishing the child tell him clearly what wrong he has committed. Talk sternly and deliberately without a display of temper. Let him know exactly what he has done wrong. Then require that he state to you exactly what the wrong was so that what he did is very clear to you and to the child. Then, ask him what the punishment is. By this time he will know. Let him know that to be just and righteous you must inflict the punishment reminding him that you are doing it in the place if God against Whom he has really sinned.

Never give a child that for which he cries. The baby who cries for attention and gets it will become a child who cries for a toy and gets it, then a teenager who whines and complains for every whim and gets it, and then a young adult who will demonstrate and riot in order to get his wishes. Riots are not started in the streets but in the crib.

The spanking should be administered firmly. It should be painful and it should last until the child’s will is broken. It should last until the child is crying not tears of anger but tears of a broken will. As long as he is stiff, grits his teeth, holds on to his own will, the spanking should continue.

After the spanking tell him why you did it. While he is still crying have him sit down. Explain to him again what the crime was and that you had no alternative but to obey God and punish him for the crime. Ask him again to repeat to you what he did that was wrong. Allow the impression of the association between the wrong and the penalty to be cut deep in his mind.

Then the wise parent should assure the child of his love and explain the reason he spanked him was because of that love. He should then have the child remain in the room alone. (All spankings should be administered in privacy and with a closed door.) The parent should have a brief prayer with the child. Lead him to realize his sin was against God. Ask the child to pray asking God to forgive him. He should then have time to be alone in the room to think over his wrong for a few minutes. After two to five minutes the parent may open the door and allow normal activity to resume.

Jamie Pritchett, the author of Kid’s Need Lots of Love and Spanking, wrote:

…But I also knew people whose children were absolutely delightful to be around. They did not interrupt; they did what their parents asked immediately and politely – even cheerfully; they happily played independently of their parents; and between parents and children, pride, adoration and love were mutual and obvious.

These were the kind of children I wanted and I knew I could be a great mom to children like these. But how do you get a well-behaved child? You can’t just put in an order for one and expect to receive it.

I had already observed many times which discipline methods did not work to bring about polite and obedient children. So I sought to find out what parents of well-behaved children did differently. Whenever I met someone whose children were well behaved (and whose family was close and loving), I would ask, “How do you discipline your children?” Invariably, the answer was some sort of controlled spanking for disobedience and then some sort of loving explanation as to why the child received a spanking. Also, invariably, that method was started early in childhood (about age one), and tapered off by age nine with a rare spanking after that – because by then spankings were rarely needed.

Most of the people I interviewed were Christians following the Biblical directive of discipline with the “rod.” I looked up all the Bible verses concerning child discipline. There were several, but some were particularly pertinent. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15) How true! And we have all seen it! “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” (Proverbs 29:17) Also true. All the children I had observed who had been disciplined according to those Biblical directives were the type who would delight any parent’s heart.

For me, the method of discipline seemed obvious. I wanted polite, affectionate and obedient children. I would do what worked and what I had seen proven over and over again. When my twins were born I was doubly glad that I had researched so thoroughly because caring for twins is so exhausting and stressful in the early years. I know I could not have coped with one ill-behaved child, much less two! I started disciplining my girls when they were about a year old, and I’ve never regretted using this method. At age 13 my daughters are polite, well-behaved at all times, and we are very close. Every stage of their lives has been a delight – even through the “twos” and now into early adolescence.

Sadly, sadly, I see in the newspaper and on television these days: “Don’t ever strike your child!” or “Spanking is child abuse.” And I wonder where these people are coming from! By my definition (and millions of other parents) a “spanking” or using the “rod” as some people term it, entails a couple of swift whacks on the child’s clothed behind with a ruler, wooden spoon, or paddle. And that’s all. No ranting or raving. No screaming or raging. No harsh or hurtful words. No sarcastic or cutting remarks. Just a quick spanking and then a few minutes lovingly telling the child why he was spanked, how much he is loved, and how to keep from being spanked in the future…

…All discipline systems are not alike. There are some discipline methods that sound great and are “politically correct”. But do they work? Do they produce polite, obedient and cheerful children? Unfortunately, most do not. The method that I’ve described – spanking under control, followed by a loving talk, does work. (From Mark and Sallie Benedict’s Christian Parenting Network)

Evangelicals will object to me calling “Biblical discipline” child abuse, but it is clear, at least to me, that hitting, whipping, beating, spanking is just that.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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David Tee Defends Christian Rapists and Sexual Predators

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Many Evangelical pastors preach a gospel of mental assent to a set of theological propositions — believe THIS and thou shalt be saved and go to Heaven when you die. Don’t believe THIS and thou shalt go to Hell when you die. Repentance is changing one’s beliefs, which may or may not result in changed conduct. Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor and editor of the Sword of the Lord Curtis Hutson told me in the mid-1980s (after I exposed Hutson’s distortion of John R. Rice’s view on repentance) that Biblical repentance was a “change of mind.” He explained repentance like this: a person was against Jesus and now he’s for him. This change of mind is all that is necessary to become a Christian; and once a person is a Christian, he can never, ever lose his salvation.

The meteoric growth of the IFB church movement in the 1960s-1980s was largely driven by people praying the sinner’s prayer and asking Jesus into their hearts. While new Christians were expected to live according to the Bible’s teachings (as interpreted by their pastors), this was not a requirement for salvation. Hutson told me that I was preaching “works salvation.” Expecting or demanding people to obey the Bible and its teachings was, in his mind, a false gospel.

According to the many IFB preachers, Christians can and do “sin,” but this in no way affects their standing with God. Christians may be backslidden, out of fellowship with God, or living carnal/worldly lives, but they are eternally and forever saved no matter what they say or do. These sinning Christians might be punished by God for their disobedience (I say “might” since is evident, at least to me, that sinning Christians are rarely, if ever, punished/chastised by God) or lose rewards in Heaven after they die (receiving a log cabin next door to Donald Trump instead of a mansion next door to the Apostle Paul), but their eternal destiny is never at risk.

Key to this soteriological system is the belief that any sin committed by a Christian can be forgiven and expunged simply by praying, confessing your sins, and asking Jesus to forgive you. And I mean ANY! No sin is beyond the grace and forgiveness of Jesus. (If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9) And once forgiven, the slate is wiped clean and the sin is remembered no more. If God forgave a person’s sin, then their fellow Christians should do the same. Forgive, forget, and move on. And most of all pretend the “sin” never happened.

“Dr.” David Tee (David Thiessen) is a good example of how this corrupt, bankrupt “gospel” leads to the defense of all sorts of abhorrent (often criminal) behavior. While Tee claims he is not IFB, his soteriology is indistinguishable from that preached by Jack Hyles, Bob Gray, Sr, David Hyles, Jack Schaap, Tom Malone, Bob Gray of Jacksonville, Curtis Hutson, Steven Anderson, evangelist Dennis Corle, Jack Treiber, Paul Chappel, John Wilkerson, and countess other IFB preachers. It is the gospel taught at colleges such as Hyles-Anderson College, Midwestern Baptist College, Pensacola Christian College, Crown College of the Bible, Tennessee Temple (now defunct), Massillon Baptist College, and other IFB institutions. Aspiring preachers are taught that their number one goal is to wins souls to Christ; to entice people into saying the sinner’s prayer. While newly minted Christians are encouraged to get baptized, join a Bible-believing church, read the Bible, pray, and follow the teachings of the Bible, none of these things is required for one to be a Christian. To suggest otherwise is to be accused of preaching “works salvation.” Thus IFB churches often have hundreds and thousands of reported conversions, yet their church attendances grow nominally. Years ago, I added up all the salvation decisions reported by Bob Gray, Sr, and the Longview Baptist Temple. According to their reported numbers, everyone in Longview, Texas is a born-again Christian twice over. First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana saw hundreds of thousands of salvation decisions under the ministries of the late Jack Hyles, convicted felon Jack Schaap, and John Wilkerson. Yet, First Baptist is a shell of the church it once was. I saw this same methodology used while a student at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan, and a member of nearby megachurch, Emmanuel Baptist Church, pastored by Tom Malone. Today, Emmanuel is shuttered and Midwestern is on life support (and may even be closed).

“Dr.” David Tee has never met a Christian sinner he couldn’t defend. In the past, Tee has defended the actions of serial sex abusers Ravi Zacharias and Bill Cosby. Today, Tee took his defenses of Christian rapists and sexual predators one step further by defending ALL Christians who commit such heinous crimes, including Jack Hyles, David Hyles, and Jack Schaap.

Tee stated (my response is indented and italicized):

[No one is perfect]That is a fact that the unbeliever takes delight in repeating to the believer. Over the years we have come across many websites run and owned by unbelievers that take pride in ‘exposing’ the sins of Christians.

One such site is BG’s as the owner there delights in his series that publishes stories about the failings of those who say they believe and follow God. What makes it so tiring and frustrating to read those websites is the lack of forgiveness on the part of those unbelievers.

Tee is, of course, talking about the Black Collar Crime Series — a series detailing criminal behavior by Evangelical preachers and other church leaders. I do not take “delight” in publishing such stories. I do so because these stories are frequently unreported or covered up. I do so because Christians like Tee want these stories buried in the deepest sea never to be remembered again. Tee is the keeper of rug under which the crimes of so-called men of God are swept: rape, murder, sexual assault, robbery, sexual harassment, spousal abuse, all are welcome under “Dr.” Dave’s rug of many sins.

Keep in mind that Tee’s post is in response to my article detailing the immoral behavior and crimes of Jack Hyles, David Hyles, and Jack Schaap; men who committed all sorts of sexual crimes and harmed countless people.

The Christian life is very hard to live even in its basic forms. There is so much temptation to deal with that staying pure and holy is very difficult. But what doesn’t help is having a bunch of unrepentant sinners keep throwing our sins in our faces and acting like they have done some great deed in exposing the sins of Christians.

Tee is fond of saying that it’s hard to “live” the Christian life. This statement portrays a faulty understanding of the Bible. According to the Bible, Christians have no power in and of themselves to “live” the Christian life. When sinners are saved, God, the Holy Spirit, comes inside them to live. The Spirit is their teacher and guide, giving them all they need for life and godliness. Further, Christians have the Bible, the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. Not only that, Christians have the church, the fellowship of the saints. Yet, according to Tee, having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and the church aren’t enough to keep Christians from sinning in thought, word, and deed.

I find it interesting that Tee thinks I am not a Christian — an unrepentant sinner. I prayed the sinner’s prayer and faithfully followed and served Jesus most of my life. If salvation can’t be lost, then why does Tee say I am not a Christian? If it is a momentary prayer and acceptance of propositional facts that gains one forgiveness of sins and life eternal, why does Tee refuse to accept me (and many of the readers of this blog) as his brother in Christ? I have never committed any of the crimes Tee defends, yet because I no longer “believe” I am not a Christian, undeserving of a place in Heaven after I die.

We do not need these people to do that as the Christian world has its own people who do the very same thing. What are they gaining by exposing these failings?

Most likely, they are trying to find justification for their decision to reject Christ as their savior. or they want to feel better about themselves so they point out the fact that Christians are not better than they are.

Victims deserve to have their stories heard. Thanks to the David Tees of the world, victims are often marginalized and dismissed out of hand. I have yet to see Tee defend and support a victim of sexual abuse. Instead, he defends predators and abusers. And even when he grudgingly admits these criminals “might” have committed crimes, he thinks their crimes should go unreported or covered up.

Further, Tee thinks the reason I publicize criminal behavior by Evangelical preachers is that I want to justify my unbelief. Again, instead of accepting my story at face value, Tee, as he is fond of doing, smears my character and impugns my motives.

The unbeliever misses two key details in their rush to expose the sins of believers and try to knock them down to size. One of these is the fact that Christians never claim to be better than the unbeliever.

The biggest difference between the two people groups is that the believer admits they are sinners and in need of help to live life as they should or as Christ wants. They do not brag that they are better, they just have a tougher, lifestyle to follow.

Christians don’t brag that they are “better” than unbelievers? Jesus, what world is Tee living in? Evangelical Christianity, in particular, breeds certainty, arrogance, and self-righteousness. Evangelical preachers tell sinners that if they get saved they will receive a new life in Christ, all things become new — new thoughts, words, and deeds. Yet, according to Tee, Christians aren’t any better than unsaved people. Dare I ask, then, why anyone would want (or need) to be a Christian.?

….

Also, those websites [such as this one] documenting these failings are not helping to solve this problem. The believer is already aware of the reasons why other Christians fail. Whether those reasons are accepted by the unbelieving world does not matter.

They do not hold the standard to living the Christian life nor do they design the criteria. What they accept or do not accept is immaterial. The Christian has to live the Christian life according to God’s rules and grace.

Most of the “unbelievers” I know live exemplary moral and ethical lives. Tee believes there is an objective standard — the Bible — by which Christians are to live, yet he makes no attempt to live by these “rules.” Would Jesus defend rapists and child abusers? Would Jesus tell lies about people? Would Jesus misrepresent the beliefs of others? Yet, Tee does all of these things, saying that living the Christian life is “hard.” No, really it’s not. I am an atheist. I generally don’t lie, nor do I knowingly misrepresent the beliefs of others. And I most certainly don’t defend (and forgive and forget) the behavior of sexual predators and child molesters.

The Christian did not become a Christian to follow the secular world and Jesus did not call his followers to follow the unbeliever. he called them to follow him.

Then, please do so, David. Follow in the steps of Jesus, keeping his commands. Practice his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Show the world that the Holy Spirit lives inside of you by demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit. So far, your behavior on this site (and yours) shows you are no Christian at all. If you had been a member of one of the churches I pastored, you would have been excommunicated. And for the record, I stopped preaching the bankrupt IFB gospel in the late 1980s. I came to believe that true repentance required turning from sin and committing one’s life to Christ. No repentance, no salvation.

This is important as Jesus faced the same issues as every believer does. his world was filled with homosexuals, etc., false teachers, people who quit on their faith, a host of unbelievers, and more.

Yet, the failings of those around him, including his disciples, did not stop Jesus from setting the right example. Since we are to be like Christ, we cannot let the same groups of people keep us from setting the right example.

Yes, that is tough to do especially when people in your own church are living very sinful lives. But it must be done. The bible says to make our own calling and election sure and the way to do that is by following Jesus not those who fail.

Then, instead of knocking the failures down and exposing them to public ridicule, we seek to restore them to the right way to live. Jesus gave us the bible so we would know how to do that.

Ah yes, Christian rapists, sexual predators, and child molesters should be restored. They should be shown the “right” way to live. Instead of purging these people from the church, Tee thinks they just need to repent and be “restored.” Pray tell, how do you “restore” a rapist, child molester, or a man who beats his wife? Imagine a “restored” child abuser teaching your son’s Sunday school class or working in the nursery. Imagine a preacher who was kicked out of his church for sleeping with numerous female church members being hired to be the pastor of your church. All is forgiven, right? David Hyles was repeatedly forgiven. Church after church embraced him as their pastor or church leader, all the while he was taking advantage of vulnerable congregants. Jack Schaap was sentenced to 12 years in prison for having sexual relations with a church teen he was counseling. And when Schapp gets out of prison, Tee will be waiting for him with open arms. Welcome home, Brother. What’s your sermon on this Sunday?

….

We know that we sin all the time and are in no position to stand in judgment of anyone. The unbeliever thinks there is no such thing as sin and evil but they are mistaken. That thought provides them with the excuse they need to list the sins of Christians who have made mistakes.

The unbeliever is in no position to judge anyone, even a sinful Christian. They have rejected the only salvation they have available and are worse sinners than they claim Christians are.

Listen carefully to what Tee is saying: rape, sexual assault, child abuse, spousal abuse are “mistakes.” Not crimes, “mistakes.”

I challenge Tee to a metaphorical dick measuring contest. Let’s compare lives, David. I would love to hear what evidence you have for your claim that atheists, agnostics, and unbelievers are worse “sinners” than Christians; that unbelief leads to “sin.” In fact, Tee can prove his claim by starting a series on his blog titled the Atheist Crime Series, detailing all the crimes committed by atheists and other unbelievers. Sure, it happens, but Christians are no “better” people than non-Christians. In fact, didn’t Tee admit this very point earlier? Now he suggests Christians ARE morally and ethically better than the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the World. Which is it?

While they may get a little fun at poking their finger at Christians who slip up, that fun is temporary and not fulfilling. it also won’t put any healing salve on their minds as they are still unbelievers faced with going to hell.

That must be torment to them as they cannot escape the message of the gospel no matter how hard they make fun of the believer or point out the latter’s sins.

David, repeat after me, there is no Hell, there is no Hell, there is no Hell. Atheists and agnostics don’t fear mythical beings or places. Just because you say something doesn’t make it true.

[sermon on how hard the Christian life is deleted]

Help those believers who fail, do not follow their example, and lead them back to the right way to live. Do not publish their mistakes so the world hears about them. Instead, show the world the right example so that they have no excuse to publish those sins Christians commit.

Tee thinks crimes [mistakes] committed by Evangelical clergy should be covered up. Their crimes shouldn’t be reported in newspapers or publicized on blogs such as this one. I have yet to read a post by Tee showing support for victims of sexual assault or child abuse. Instead, he defends and supports predators and abusers. Forgive them, God does. And then restore them. To the “world” he says, “move on, there’s nothing to see here.”

Sorry, David, as long as I have breath, I intend to keep exposing predator preachers, men of God who use their authority and positions of power to abuse, assault, and take advantage of children and vulnerable church members.

This post will undoubtedly elicit a flurry of responses from Tee. No matter what I say or do, Tee will continue to defend the dregs of Evangelical Christianity, leaving me to wonder why he does so? As a Christian, I was a defender of weak, vulnerable, powerless people. I would never have defended men such as Jack Hyles, David Hyles, or Jack Schaap. I took a vocal stand against the Hyles mafia. Why is Tee unwilling to defend and protect the “least of these”? What, David, would Jesus do if he were alive today? Would he say to you, “good job covering up crimes committed by notable Evangelical preachers?” I doubt it. I suspect, according to Matthew 25, Jesus would cast you into everlasting darkness. Come to the light, David. Stand with vulnerable men, women, and children. They deserve your support, not your condemnation.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser