Tag Archive: Jack Hyles

The Independent Baptist War Against Long Hair on Men

gerencser boys 1989

Nathan, Jaime, and Jason Gerencser, 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 homosexuals. 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.

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 (PDF):

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. Jason, Nathan, and Jaime 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.

Last Saturday, Polly and I drove to Newark, Ohio to visit her parents. While there, my IFB mother-in-law asked me about my hair. Since last October, I have let my hair grow. It is longer now than it ever has been. 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 is disappointed that I am letting 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.

As it stands now, my hair has quite a bit of curl on its extreme ends, an unexpected result. I am not sure Polly likes my hair this long, but we have a hard, fast agreement: we don’t criticize each other’s hair styles. 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. As I have mentioned before, Polly and I missed out on the freedoms of the 1960s and 1970s. Both of us were members of hardcore IFB churches that strictly regulated dress, hair styles, and conduct. Now that we are no longer emotionally and mentally bound in IFB bondage, 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 40 years ago. On the negative side, we also have bodies that are 40 years older. Oh to be wise and young!

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

Note

Previous post on this subject, Is it a Sin for a Man to Have Long Hair?

IFB Pastor Bob Gray Sr. Shows His True Colors

bob gray sr

Bob Gray Sr, retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Longview, Texas

Originally written in 2012. Edited for clarity and grammar.

Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor Bob Gray, Sr. (not the pedophile pastor Bob Gray from Jacksonville, Florida) pastored the Longview Baptist Temple in Longview Texas for over thirty years. In 2009 Gray turned the church franchise over to his son and became a traveling preacher. He blogs at Solving Church Problems.

Bob Gray is a prototypical Sword of the LordJack Hyles-loving IFB preacher. He preaches an Antinomian, one-two-three-repeat-after-me, pray-the-sinners-prayer, easy-believism gospel. Gray is of the opinion that winning souls to Jesus is the only thing that really matters. Well that and jetting all over the country so he can preach at conferences and special meetings (winning souls doesn’t pay the bills). Gray, a consummate bean counter, can tell you right down to the person how many people he has personally won to Christ and how many people were saved through his preaching.

Over the past 35 years, the Gray-cartel-led Longview Baptist Temple has won more souls to Christ than actually live in Longview Texas. While the Longview Baptist Temple grew to be quite large under the ministry of Gray, Sr, the number of souls saved far outnumber the number of people baptized and added to the church membership. Gray, like many of his ilk, is only concerned with “getting people saved.” If they never get baptized or become a part of the church? Regrettable, but hey, there are more souls to save (he was taught this philosophy by his idol, Jack Hyles).

Gray is a big supporter of Jack Hyles. He is insistent, to this day, that Jack Hyles was a tower of virtue and that he never did the things he was accused of in the 1980s. Gray, a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College, often takes to his blog to defend the IFB church movement over charges of widespread abuse and sexual misconduct. While Gray admits Jack Schaap, the former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, who is now serving a 12 year Federal prison sentence for sexual misconduct, should not have had sex with a 16-year-old church girl, he is quick to suggest that Schaap’s behavior is not typical of what goes on in IFB churches.

Several years ago, a Christian woman by the name of Jeri Massi wrote a blog post titled Corporate Repentance is Required. In the post Massi stated:

Many a Fundamentalist preacher has become offended when I lay down the very first rule for saving Christian Fundamentalism: corporate repentance of the preachers. They are all tainted by the guilt of this religious movement upon whom God has shown the evidences of His disdain and contempt. They all need to repent openly, articulate the sins of Christian Fundamentalism before God and before man, attempt some form of restoration to victims, and institute the means to prevent such sins from happening again, if God should choose to spare this religion that they seem to love more than they love Him.

Massi, a former IFB church member and an acquaintance of mine, has made it her mission to hold IFB preachers accountable for abuse that goes on in their churches. Massi recently published The Big Book of Bad Baptist Preachers, a compendium of stories about Baptist sexual predators and abusers.

Bob Gray, Sr. despises Massi. Her post on corporate repentance caused Gray’s head to explode. Over the course of three blog posts, Gray, Sr. shows his true colors; that he is a misogynistic bigot who will go to great lengths to protect and defend the IFB kingdom. What follows are excerpts from these posts.

In a post titled, WRITING WRONGS-It is Time to Call The Forums and Blogs for What They Are, Gray wrote:

…Enter “Christian” forums and Blogs that attempt to copy the style of expose journalism.  They make it their business to expose things that are really none of any ones business.  I expect the lost world to gossip and slander, but I expect better of Christians.

Do not misunderstand me.  I believe the internet is a wonderful place to fight error and to teach truth.  However, when it comes to matters of a local church, many times they become a place to learn the latest “scoop.”

How is it that heathens like Tricia Lacriox or Jeri Massi can be “trusted” vehicles of information that they and their fellow demonettes desire ONLY for the purpose of destruction?  Why would we go to them for our information?  Worse yet why would we believe their information?

The answer to that question is troubling.  I hear people say it is because that is the only place they find out what is going on. WAIT!   Why do you need to find out what is going on and why would you trust avowed enemies to the cause of Christ to be your informers?  That is nonsense!  It is also evil!  Let me help you with something. You do not need to know!

Allow me to give you an example.  Where do these information streetwalkers receive their information?  A church is dealing with a situation that is horrible.  Someone on the inside has information and they give it to the proper authorities in their church and for their ears only.  These authorities deal with the problem.

However, there are evil individuals with info who are moles and who will be judged of God for their wickedness.  They garner information  not for the purpose of helping, but for sharing with those in bloggers sphere who disdain soul winning independent Baptist churches.

Do they report the number of souls saved the previous week, the number of converts baptized, the Sunday school attendance, the lives salvaged, or any good being done?  NO! They are like vultures who do not see the beauty, but rather only the carcases (sic) of the dead.

These are haters of soul winning churches.  Their STATED goal is to destroy those soul winning churches. They want these churches to go away so they find the things they can use to condemn and twist in order to accomplish their goal.  THEN, WE READ IT!?!?

These forums and blogs create arguments, bickering, slander, strife, and discord among the brethren.  These demonettes rejoice because they have accomplished their goal of casting a curse on that which they despise.  Anyone who questions them is then attacked for “covering sin” or “enabling sinners.”  These demonettes are morons! They have no idea what they are writing about…

In a post titled, Jeri Massi—Liar Liar Pants on Fire!, Gray wrote:

…I am appalled at the sins of those who besmirch the office of ministry as well as any one, man or woman, who do such despicable acts, but I refuse to indict a whole community because of a few.

I think we are all accountable in some respects because we do not walk closely enough with God to be able to spot such people.  However, I know of no one who on purpose allows such things to occur. I only know of gossips who paint a picture without really knowing the truth.

Then people like you Jeri carry their water to incriminate good churches who are doing their best to deal with such wicked people.  Get the facts Jeri.

Again, you did not call me.  You did not seek the other side of the story and you made a BIG mistake by not doing so.  Which makes me wonder about others who have been smeared by your lap top gossip.

If they are guilty lock them up! I have no problem letting people know who the predators are. But, do not indict everyone.  Check out the Scriptures on being a false accuser Jeri!

Why do we go soul winning?  Because of the fact that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Let me see if I understand you correctly…we should not go soul winning because of wicked men who do wicked things? Maybe that is why God does not call women to be pastors.  Logic like yours deserves to be studied? Ha!

Jeri Massi, you are in this for you. I have been in the ministry for 40 years and have given my life to help the hurting while your claim to fame is living off of victims.

If you were an honest person you would have contacted me before running to your blog to condemn something you knew nothing of except through the eyes of those haters who lie and supply you with slop.

Why don’t you put out your cigar, shut your Hollywood movies off, put away your favorite beer, find a good Christian man to marry, have some babies, and get a real life!

“Run if you want to, hide if you will, but I came here to stay!”

And finally, in a sarcastic, misogynistic post titled, I Owe Jeri Massi an Apology, Gray wrote:

Please forgive me Jeri!  I was under a wrong impression and it really grieves me that I did not see the truth.  I did not really know you and I was under a false judgment.

I did know your brother Vince for we graduated together at Hyles-Anderson College.   I really liked your brother. I know you and him have had some misunderstandings, but let that be as it may.

I just want to make this thing right with you before it really got out of hand.  You see this is a real problem among those of us who are independent Baptist people.  IF we are not careful we assume facts not in evidence.

Of  course, we are not a denomination and have no headquarters and our only rule of faith and practice is the King James Bible. This is what brings us together.

Thus, we are in loose association with each other organizational wise.  We come together based on a Bible principle of “mutual faith.”  As a result we are drawn together not by a political or corporate entity but by “mutual faith.” We have no elections and we have no president for we only have our mutual beliefs.  Each church is independent of the others.

It is absolutely wrong of me to have entered into this with you at the level I did. Please forgive me! May we go back to the beginning and start over in our conversation. Maybe we can come to a consensus and help many of your friends in the internet forum world at the same time?

Many of these others, with whom you associate, I am just now starting to get my mind wrapped around who they are.  I do sense that there is a longing and a searching among you and your friends for truth.  I do not dispute that at all.  I do however think we have all started off on the wrong foot.  Hopefully we can rectify this.

May I begin with Scriptures please?

Romans 3:10, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:”

Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

Romans 6:23a, “For the wages of sin is death…”

Revelation 20:14, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 6:23b, “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Now Jeri would you like to trust Jesus Christ to pay for all of your past sins, present sins, and future sins?  If so would you bow in your heart and ask Christ to save you.

I can provide a prayer to help you if you would like, but remember a prayer is just words and a prayer cannot save you.  A prayer is communication between you and Christ.  Jeri, many people are saved before they ever utter a word or walk an aisle in church.  So, if you in child like faith will open your soul and let Jesus know you want to trust Him He will save your soul.

Jesus is a perfect gentleman for He will not force His way into your soul. Jeri, it is not the shed blood, but the shed and applied blood that cleanses a man’s soul.

Jeri I again must apologize I did not realize until I saw your love for Buddha of your basic beliefs.  I apologize for mocking your cigars, your love for beer, your love for the filth of Hollywood, and so on.  No one can be saved by quitting cigars, movies, or liquor.  It is faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that saves a person from  going to Hell.

It did not dawn on me of your spiritual condition. Again, I am so sorry!

Matthew 15:14, “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”

Jeri, you are blind and have a spiritual vail over your eyes and truly cannot see.  Again, I am sorry I did not see this in the beginning. It appears I assumed something that was just not true about you. JUST A THOUGHT!

Gray concludes, based on what Massi has written, that she is not a Christian. But wait, Dr. Bob, Jeri previously prayed the sinners prayer. Doesn’t that make her a Christian no matter how she lives or what she writes?  According to Gray’s soteriology (doctrine of salvation), even a Christian-turned-atheist like me is still a Christian. Once saved, always saved, right Bro. Bob?

Here’s the real issue in this story. Gray, an authoritarian control-freak, is upset because he has no control over what Massi writes. He is furious that he can’t force Massi to submit to his authority.

I love the “advice” Gray gives to Massi:

Why don’t you put out your cigar, shut your Hollywood movies off, put away your favorite beer, find a good Christian man to marry, have some babies, and get a real life!

In other words, shut up Babe. Cook dinner, get laid, and have lots of babies.

The internet has empowered writers to bring to light the dark secrets of the IFB church movement. Prior to the internet, the IFB gatekeepers could control the flow of information. Not any longer. Now there are countless writers airing the dirty laundry of the IFB churches, pastors, and institutions. IFB preachers are watching their kingdoms slip away and there is nothing they can do about it except throw childish temper tantrums as Gray did in the blog posts mentioned above.

Dr. Bob, if you are reading this, I have a message from God for you and the IFB church movement: Mene, Mene, Tekel u-Pharsin

Or to put it into English: God has numbered your kingdom and finished it. You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Your kingdom has been divided and given to churches and pastors who love people and don’t abuse them (Daniel 5 with a slight Bruce Gerencser twist).

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Evangelical Preachers and the Elijah Syndrome 

elijah prophets of baal fire from heaven

Many evangelical preachers have what I call the Elijah syndrome. In First Kings chapter 18, we find the story of the prophet Elijah doing battle with the 450 false prophets of Baal. According to the Bible, Elijah decided to prove to Israel that Jehovah was the true and living God. Elijah did this by building an altar, placing a slaughtered bullock on the stone edifice, and calling fire down from heaven to consume the bullock. This all-consuming fire was so hot that it melted the altar’s rocks. According to modern science, melting rock into molten lava requires a heat of 1,000 to 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. Certainly, if Elijah did nothing else, he put on a good show.

After God demonstrated his power, Elijah told the people of Israel to gather up the false prophets and slaughter them. Nothing says I’m a loving God like some old-fashioned bloodshed and slaughter. When Queen Jezebel heard that Elijah and the Israelites had slaughtered Baal’s prophets, she sent a message to Elijah that saidSo let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. Elijah, fearing for his life, ran away into the wilderness.

In First Kings chapter 19 we find Elijah camped out underneath a juniper tree. An angel appeared to Elijah and told him that he needed to eat because God had a long journey ahead for him. After eating, Elijah journeyed 40 days to Mount Horeb, the very place God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The Lord came to Elijah and asked him what he was doing at Mount Horeb (which is strange, because an angel, one of God’s celestial beings, told him to go to there). Here is what Elijah had to say:

I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

Elijah saw himself as the one remaining true prophet in the land. God reminded him in First Kings 19:18 that there were actually 7,000 prophets who had not yet bowed a knee to Baal.

Every time I think of this story I am reminded of the fact that a lot of Evangelical preachers see themselves as some sort of modern-day Elijah. And like Elijah, each thinks he is the one remaining prophet in the community standing up for God, the Bible, and Evangelical morality. Such preachers delude themselves into thinking that they alone are standing true, that they alone are preaching the right message. Some of these preachers, men such as Robert Lyte and AW Pink, think that the Christian church is so morally compromised that they can no longer in good conscience be a part of it (Susan-Anne White would another example of this, even though she doesn’t claim to be a preacher).

As readers of this blog know, the longer people steep their mind in waters of Fundamentalist belief, the more extreme they become. Over time, sin lists grow, beliefs harden, and certainty and arrogance convinces preachers that they alone are standing for God. While every community has numerous Christian churches, there are always a handful of churches that think they are above the murky waters of generic Evangelicalism. Like Elijah, they believe that they have been chosen by God to speak on his behalf to the world.

I remember thinking this of myself back when I pastored Somerset Baptist Church in Mount Perry, Ohio. Everywhere I looked I saw churches and pastors who were not winning souls and waging war against Satan, sin, and godlessness. As the church began to grow, I convinced myself that people were attending the church because they wanted to hear a true man of God. What I understood later is that these people found me likable and enjoyed my sermons. So much for being a rugged, stand-alone prophet of God.

The next time you see a street preacher just remember he likely thinks that he is like Elijah, the lone prophet of God. After all, he is the only one standing on the street corner, right? If all the other neighboring churches and pastors really cared about America they too would be on nearby street corners preaching against sin, gun control, abortion, secularism, atheism, Barack Obama, evolution, liberalism, and any other issue deemed a moral affront to the thrice-holy God of Evangelical Christianity.

This I alone remain true to God way of thinking is what turns preachers into insufferable, arrogant, hypocritical pricks. Thinking that they have some sort of inside knowledge about God and the Bible, they are determined to share what they think they know with everyone, even if people don’t want to hear it.

Preachers like Jack Hyles and Fred Phelps did not start out as pontificating bloviators. Over time, they convinced themselves that they had been chosen uniquely by God to speak on his behalf. Once convinced of this, their pronouncements became more severe. These Elijah-like prophets of God, thinking that most churches and pastors are Biblically and morally compromised, withdrew from the larger Christian body.

Inherent to the nature of Fundamentalism is the need to separate and divide. The Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement is a good example of this. The IFB church movement was born out of rebellion against perceived liberalism in the American, Northern, and Southern Baptist conventions. Originally this separation was due to German rationalism and higher textual criticism. These days, IFB churches and pastors separate due to silly things like music, Bible translations, long hair on men, and whether women should wear pants. Recently, Bob Gray, Sr., the retired pontiff of the Longview Baptist Temple in Longview, Texas wrote a blog post about the importance of being a prophet like Elijah. Here is some of the issues Gray thinks are important:(link no longer active)

In our fundamental churches, schools, and colleges we have some rules, regulations, and standards. We have rules about dating, dress, haircuts on the males, makeup on the females, hairstyles, clothing, smoking, dancing, bad music, Hollywood movies, speech, respect for authority, proper conduct, etc.

Immediately the accusations begin to come when such a stand is taken. The cry is always the same, and the charge is always the same. “Why, that is nothing but legalism with all those rules, standards, and regulations for they are nothing but promoting legalism!”

The truth of the matter is, when you associate legalism with rules, regulations and standards, people with neo-evangelical hearts who masquerade make such statements in fundamental Baptist clothing. Sometimes they are made by people who were real fundamental Baptist at one time, and yet have become weary of the battle and long to return to the onions, watermelons, leaks, cucumbers, and garlic of acceptance. Also, this cry of legalism often comes from the desks of colleges and seminaries built on fundamental foundations with walls of compromise and a leaking roof of pseudo liberty.

We have grown to desire that our truth be accredited by worldly educated error. We want a license from wrong to do right! My (sic) I remind all of us of that fundamental world we believed in and practiced before we had teenagers, home-schoolers, liberal fundamental colleges, Bill Gothard, Oral Roberts University, Benny Hinn, his girlfriend Evangelist Paula White, amusement parks, and before Jerry Falwell slid down a charismatic water slide!

….
This generation must not listen to the prophets of compromise who are silently bridging fundamentalism to a liberal Southern Baptist Convention in order to garner the crowds. No one is legalistic who insists on standards. When someone adds anything to salvation, other than the shed and applied blood of Jesus Christ, is by definition a legalist.

When you conveniently compromise you are not only betraying Billy Sunday, Sam Jones, Bob Jones Sr., Mordecai Ham, John Wesley, John R. Rice, Curtis Hutson, Lester Roloff, Lee Roberson, Tom Malone, and Jack Hyles, but you are betraying your own standards of just a few years back.

If we cannot have our padded pews with hell-fire and brimstone preaching, then let us go back to the sawdust trail and the store front buildings while sitting on wooden benches.

If we cannot have organs with trained choirs without the seven-fold Amens and the crusty anthems, then let us go back to the “pie-anar” and tuning fork.

If we cannot have a marriage of proper grammar and the mourner’s bench with preaching on Hell, Heaven, the rapture, the second coming, and separation, then let us go back to split infinitives, dangling participles, and hung gerunds.

If tiled restrooms and chandeliers are not conducive to the old-time religion, then let us mark off a path and build an outhouse. Let us screw a 60-watt light bulb in it and order a Sears & Roebuck catalogue for the outhouse and get right with God.

If we have to include Kierkegaard, Brunner, and Niebuhr in our required reading in order to be intellectual theologically, then let us go back to the Blue-black Speller, the ABC’s, the alphabet, and the simple preaching of thus saith the Lord God! We have listened too much to psychologists in the pulpit and not enough to leather lunged Baptist preachers. We have listened too much to philosophers and not enough to old-fashioned prophets of God. We have listened too much to so-called Christian TV and radio and not enough to men of God.

….
Legalism is not a godly mother who insists that her daughter dress modestly. Legalism is not parents enrolling their children in a Christian school that believes as they do about separation from the world. Legalism is not a dedicated aged godly dad who takes his son to the barbershop instead of a beauty shop every two weeks.

Legalism is not a faithful youth director who insists his teenagers dress appropriately. Legalism is not a hard working pastor who insists that his Sunday school teachers not smoke, not drink alcohol, no tobacco use, no movies, they visit absentees, and go soul winning.

Legalism is not the careful godly educator who forbids his students to dance or listen to bad music. Legalism is not the man of God who cries aloud against mixed swimming, in essence mixed nudity, against vampire lipstick promoting drugs, and young males with their Billy Idol bleached porky pine spiked chili bowl hair do!
Right has not changed and wrong has not changed just because you enter into a different century. Black is still black and white is still white. Good is still good and bad is still bad. Legalism is not the faithful man of God who cries aloud against sin.

….
Most of the Scriptures are about rules on how Christians ought to live! I challenge you to take Genesis and try to show unsaved people how to be saved or redeemed from going to Hell. Now you will find types of salvation, but you will have a tough time finding the plan of salvation in Genesis.

….
Liquor, dope, elicit (sic) sex, Hollywood, cigarettes, bad music, etc., enslaves and is addictive. God’s do’s and don’ts builds walls of protection for his people!

Gray states in no uncertain terms that most of the Christian Bible is about “rules on how Christians ought to live!”  Gray, Sr. has finally reached IFB Nirvana, a place where love, compassion, kindness, and caring for others are replaced by rules, standards, and regulations. When I first started preaching 40 years ago, any preacher making a statement like this would have been roundly condemned. While certainly the Bible has many laws, precepts, and teachings, it is far more than God’s Revised Code of Conduct-2016 Gray Edition©.

The good news is this: the IFB church movement is dying on the vine. Their churches and institutions are but a shell of what they once were. Instead of taking a hard look at why IFB churches are dying and young adults are fleeing to the friendlier confines of “worldly” Evangelical churches, preachers like Gray, Sr. double down on legalistic standards and rules. Instead of considering whether their controlling, abusive behavior is to blame, these Elijah-like preachers blame those who rejected their moralizing and checklist Christianity. Gray, Sr. will go to the grave believing that if people would just follow the rules about “dating, dress, haircuts on the males, makeup on the females, hairstyles, clothing, smoking, dancing, bad music, Hollywood movies, speech, respect for authority, and proper conduct,” the shekinah glory (glory of God) would fall from heaven and all would be well.

Do you have an Elijah-like preacher where you live? Is there a preacher in your town who thinks he uniquely speaks for God? Perhaps you once attended a church that was pastored by a man who thought he was special or unique. If so, please share your observations in the comment section.

“The Big Book of Bad Baptist Preachers” by Jeri Massi

big book of bad baptist preachers

Jeri Massi recently asked me if I would do a write-up for her latest book, The Big Book of Bad Baptist Preachers. I am delighted to do so. While Jeri and I are philosophically as far apart as two people can possibly be, we both share a desire to expose sexual predators and child abusers who just so happen to be Baptist preachers. Thanks to an ecclesiology that turns pastors into rulers, potentates, and kings, many abusive Southern Baptist and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers have ready access to potential victims. Accountable only to themselves, these predator pastors molest, rape, and assault with impunity. Church members are conditioned to not question the man of God’s behavior, out of fear of God’s judgment if they do.

Often, acts of abuse are quietly swept under the rug. The offending pastors, under no ecclesiastical authority but their own, leave, move down the road to a new church, and start over. In many instances, the new church is not aware of past misconduct. This is especially true when the predator pastor starts a new church. Since there is no central database for checking whether a pastor has committed sexual crimes or been fired for alleged misconduct, church members are often unaware of their pastor’s checkered past. And sometimes they know, but like sheep to the slaughter, they consider their pastor’s past “sins” as “under the blood of Jesus” and forgiven. (please see Blood Washing the Past) Sadly, this allows these pastors to continue to abuse. In some cases, like with the late Bob Gray, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida and David Hyles, the son of Jack Hyles, the abuse goes on for decades, all because those who knew what was going on said nothing.

The Big Book of Bad Baptist Preachers is a compendium of 100 pastors who were accused and/or convicted of sexual misconduct. Each pastor’s crimes are listed, along the outcome, if any, with regard to their predatory behavior. If you are looking for a summary of the notable sex scandals that have rocked the Southern Baptist Convention and IFB church movement over the past two decades, The Big Book of Bad Baptist Preachers is the book for you.

Jeri plans to update the book next year. One thing is for certain: the abuse will continue until churches and denominations decide to aggressively expose abusive pastors and make sure they can never preach again. And this means Jeri will have more sordid stories to add to The Big Book of Bad Baptist Preachers.

The Big Book of Bad Baptist Preachers is available at Amazon.com

Jeri Massi’s blog, Blog on The Way

A “Jesus First” Christian and Follower of Jack Hyles Shows Me Some Love

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Jack Hyles, 1973

I received the following email from a woman with the moniker Jesus First in her email address:

So glad that you read every email. I agree with the “older” Florida woman who told you the truth. There was No evidence that Jack Hyles ever did anything wrong or he would have been fired too. There was No affair. How sad that you spend alot (sic) of time writing and writing and writing about the sins of others and never consider that God will judge you one day. You look sickly, are you leaving this earth soon?. Also Linda Hyles’s damnable statements about her family would be thrown out of a law of court. There is no truth to her sick boring speech. She is in a cult now, that stupid fool. She ran to her father’s funeral to get her “share” of money, I sure hope she didn’t get any. Johnny couldn’t stand her lies and divorced her 19 years ago. Apparently she couldn’t get another man since she uses her ex’s name.

I continue to be amazed by those who live in denial over what Jack Hyles did years ago. The evidence of his infidelity is there for all to see and either Jack Hyles was an adulterer or there was a colossal conspiracy to make him look like one. My money is on GUILTY as charged for the late Jack Hyles, the narcissistic, megalomaniac former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond Indiana. Hyles’ son David and son-in-law Jack Schaap followed in his adulterous footsteps. While David Hyles escaped punishment for his crimes, Schaap is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for his. Jack Hyles escaped punishment for his adulterous behavior. He was instrumental in facilitating his son’s philandering by securing a new church for him to pastor after his illicit behavior with female First Baptist congregants was revealed.

As is often the case with Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) sexual predators, they escape prosecution, only to set up shop again in a new town or state. With a fresh pool of potential victims, these men continue to abuse until someone, be it a church member or an abuse victim, says ENOUGH and goes to law enforcement authorities and reports the abuse. Even then, the statute of limitation frequently precludes abusive pastors from being prosecuted for their crimes. Often, their victims turn to the internet and public sites like this blog to expose the offending pastor’s criminal behavior. In doing so, they hope that this will keep the pastor from ever being able to use a church as a cover for his crimes.

I find it interesting that most of the email I get from defenders of Jack Hyles comes from women. I can’t quite figure out why this is so. Maybe some of the women who read this blog can help me with this.

If this email is an example of putting JESUS FIRST, I shudder to think what would be written if someone put JESUS SECOND.

Lest You Forget Why You Ran Screaming from the IFB Church

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Many of the people who read this blog are survivors of the worst that the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement had to offer. (if you don’t know what an IFB church is, please read What is an IFB Church) From mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse, to being physically and sexually abused at IFB group homes, many of you know first hand how toxic and murderous the IFB church movement is.

Bob Gray Sr. is the retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple in Longview, Texas. Gray’s son, Gray Jr. now sits on the throne of family empire. Gray Sr. is what I call a consummate bean counter. He knows right down to the soul how many people he has won to Jesus. Years ago, I calculated, based on the salvation numbers touted by Gray Sr, that every person in Longview, Texas should now be a Christian. Gray Sr. is a devoted follower of  the late Jack Hyles, the adulterous pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. Last year, the Longview Baptist Temple gave a warm welcome to David Hyles, the son of Jack Hyles, a man known for being a serial adulterer.

Gray Sr. is proud to be a general in the IFB army. He is proud of his blind allegiance to Jack Hyles. Several years ago, Gray Sr. let it be known that he was proud to be a topical preacher. Topical preaching is the style of preaching where the preacher chooses a topic to preach on and then finds Bible verses to support his chosen topic. It is proof-texting at its best and it is a style of preaching that is quite common in the IFB church.

Many IFB preachers have about 4 sermons. They have four thousand titles for those four sermons, but they only have four sermons. When a preacher preaches topically, it becomes quite easy for him to make the Bible say anything he wants it to say. As my friend Steve said, who was once a member of Longview Baptist Temple,  Gray Sr’s sermons all sound the same. Sadly, this is a common problem in the IFB church movement. They have the same set of sins they preach against over, and over, and over. I am beginning to think that the people who attend IFB churches must be the worst sinners in the world. Why must their pastors spend so much time telling them what vile, wicked, sinners they are? Aren’t they getting the message? Isn’t the Holy Spirit communicating with them, reminding them of their duty to obey God? Besides, since IFB church members are expected to be at church every time the doors are open, when do they find time to sin?

Take Gray Sr’s March 2014 blog sermon. It is what I call a double barrel shotgun blast sermon. Gray hits almost every IFB hobby horse. To sum up Gray’s sermon, whatever it is, he’s against it. See for yourself:

…A pastor who was upset with my preaching said to me, “I don’t have to preach like that because what we believe can be found in our constitution and not in our church pulpit.” Well what I believe can be found in the pulpit as well as on paper. Those types of preachers are basically cowards. They are what I call silent disciples!…

…Get this! Satan has not changed one bit. There are still Pharaoh’s in this day and time that we live in! The cry still is, “Let my people go!” Satan still says to God’s people, “Worship God, but do it in Egypt! Stay in the world and worship God! Be spiritually minded on the inside and don’t worry about the outside! Live in the world, dress like the world, talk like the world, and sing like the world but don’t give the outward appearance of being fanatical. This is post-modernism, emerging church, or cultural acclimatization…

…In America today you have giant charismatic churches, emerging churches, and Rick Warren wannabes where the choir has become a “worship team” looking like the heathen world. They act like it and sing like it. The bands on their platforms are just like the world’s bands. The women wear their pants, their shorts, and their mini-skirts while the men wear earrings, necklaces and all together praise God. This world has dictated their lifestyle and not Heaven! This cultural war has invaded the local church.  First with a “Contemporary” hour tacked on later is a “Traditional Service.”…

…The pharaoh’s of this world say, “Use Egypt! Avoid dogmatism, avoid division, avoid separation from the world, use Egypt’s music, have contemporary worship services, have worldly bands, and please most of all have unity.” Today’s pharaoh’s say, “It’s ok to drink in moderation.” If your talking about coca-cola that is ok! Today’s pharaoh’s say, “You’ll not have an appeal to this world if you don’t use the world to appeal to the world. Stay in Egypt while you worship God! Mark my word it will not be long until four letter vulgar words will appear in the music on church platforms….

…Born again people drinking cocktails, wearing shorts, listening to ungodly music, using religious rock, and inviting the world into church is worshipping God in Egypt. Born again people going to Hollywood movies where nudity, cursing, humans acting like animals, and the merciless senseless violence is worshipping God in Egypt. Born again people lying on the beach in the summertime in their underwear is worshipping God in Egypt…

…There was a time in our nation when your child could play little league, or soccer, or football, or basketball in the public schools, but not anymore. The cursing and the bad examples will completely engulf and create a worldly mindset that you will regret when your children become adults. Stay away from the influence that breeds compromise. We are not to get our pleasure from this world.

Your local church, your pastor, your Sunday school, your youth programs, your fellowships, your music, and your activities must remind people of Heaven not Egypt. If you don’t believe what I am writing then just look at those who attempted to be a Christian while staying in Egypt. Check out those who turned on their pastor and left the man of God’s influence. Oh, the stories of tragedies in just my 42 years of ministry. It really is sad!

Satan says to a pastor, “Ok have your beliefs just don’t go very far from the world. You don’t want to be called a fanatic. Have the old hymns and add new choruses led by a worship leader. Use some contemporary religious rock music. Keep your beliefs just don’t go very far from the world Have your traditional services, but also provide at a different time a contemporary service.” The sad truth is that those contemporary services are nothing more than a second-class amateur hour for rock music in Jesus’ name. It has turned into an American Idol contest…

…A rebel teen said to me one time in anger, “You’ve become an old man that’s out of date.” I replied, “Yes, and I’m going to continue to stay further out of date.” If being in date means using false Bibles, drinking, going to filthy movies, and acting like barn yard animals then I would just as soon stay out of date. If being in date means denying the inspiration of the old King James Bible I will stay out of date.

The same Christianity of the Bible ought to be the Christianity of every generation. Haircuts on the males are not out of date! Long hair on the females is not out of date! Dresses worn by ladies is not out of date. No dresses on the males is not out of date. God said to man of God, “Go tell Pharaoh to let my people go…

…It’s time student’s respected old age, teachers, and staff. It’s time for the godly adults to be the heroes of young people. It’s time for Lee Roberson to be more popular than Tiger Woods.

Egypt’s music is rotten. We are facing a rotten Hollywood, rotten TV programs, rotten magazines, and rotten stars have produced ruined young people. Why, they are staying in Egypt or hanging around Egypt.

These young Gadarene demoniac stars have captivated the young people especially our young ladies. Young ladies have become young females with their provocative dress or lack there of in public. It is shocking how unashamed young females are in public. Their hairstyles, music, morals, and lack of respect for themselves, let alone for any one else is destroying not only them but our nation also.

How about trading the Rolling Stones for the stone that was rolled away. Let us trade the world’s rock for God’s rock. Let us trade the singer called The Prince for Jesus the Prince of Peace. Let’s trade Elizabeth Taylor for Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist. Let’s trade Michael Jordan for Michael the archangel. Let’s trade Playboy for praying men. Let’s trade the new morality for the old morality Let’s trade the NIV for the KJB. Let’s trade situation ethics for Bible ethics. Let’s trade homosexual marriages for heterosexual marriages. Let’s trade living together before marriage for living together after marriage. Let’s trade visitation for soul winning. Let’s trade king Elvis for King Jesus..

…A world of rap and hip-hop music with filthy four letter words being sung at OUR WHITE HOUSE. We as God’s children ought to refuse to stay in Egypt, hang around Egypt, or leave our children in Egypt and refuse to leave our possessions in Egypt. Every dime you spend for ungodly movies and ungodly magazines or any other ungodly activity is in essence leaving your possessions in Egypt. I have said for years that there will be more people in Hell because of a lack of cash than for any other combination of reasons…

Aren’t you glad that ran from this kind of mind numbing, soul deadening insanity? Gray speaks of leaving Egypt. Little does he know that, for many of us, leaving Egypt meant running from the emotional, mental, and spiritual abuse that IFB preachers like Gray pass off as good, hard preaching. Gray calls it stepping on toes, I call it stepping on the self-worth and spirit of a person and grinding them into the ground.

The Mesmerizing Appeal of Jack Hyles

jack hyles 1973

Jack Hyles, 1973

Jack Hyles was pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana from 1959-2001. For many years, the church was the largest congregation in America. The church held a Pastor’s School and Youth Conference each year that brought thousands of people to Hammond to see first hand what God was doing through Dr. Jack Hyles. (See post The Legacy of Jack Hyles.)

In the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, no one was bigger than Jack Hyles. IFB churches and pastors measured success by:

  • Church attendance
  • Offerings
  • Souls saved

In these three areas Jack Hyles and First Baptist Church were the king of the hill.

jack and beverly hyles statute

Jack and Beverly Hyles statue

Like most IFB churches, First Baptist Church was owned and operated by Jack Hyles. No, Hyles didn’t literally own the church, but there was no doubt about one thing, this was the house Jack built. Hyles had unlimited power to rule the church as he saw fit, and even when caught in an inappropriate sexual relationship with his secretary, he was able to wiggle free, and remained pastor of First Baptist Church until he died on February 6, 2001.  A statute of Jack and Beverly Hyles can be found in the church courtyard, an ever-present reminder that First Baptist Church owes its existence to Jack Hyles.

People not raised, schooled, and indoctrinated in the IFB church movement often have a hard time understanding how Jack Hyles could wield such power over people.  It seems so “cultic” to them, and truth be told, there are elements of IFB belief and practice that are “cultic.” While the IFB church movement is not a cult in the classic sense, it does have beliefs and practices that are harmful to people emotionally and mentally. Because it is a movement built on a foundation of anti-intellectualism, pastors are given an inordinate amount of power over people. The pastor becomes the resident intellectual, even though he is likely no more educated than the people in the pew. The pastor is considered God’s chosen man, the man of God who speaks on God’s behalf. He is uniquely called by God to the ministry and he is to be obeyed. Failure to obey will bring judgment from God, at least according to IFB preachers. (Sermons on pastoral authority are quite common in IFB churches.)

Jack Hyles was considered a god in IFB church circles. He was also revered by many outside of the IFB church movement. People read his sermons in the Sword of the Lord, and cassette recordings of Hyles’ sermons made their way around the globe. He was the Big Kahuna, and when he spoke everybody listened. It is important to understand how popular Hyles was.  People would drive hours to hear him preach at a Sword of the Lord Conference. They would hang on his every word. After all, look at the size of his church. This is PROOF that Hyles and God were on a first name basis.  When it came time for the invitation, hundreds of penitent Baptists would stream down the aisle to the altar and prostrate themselves before Hyles, praying that God would forgive them of their sins and give them Holy Ghost power to do whatever Hyles was telling them to do.

It is hard for me to admit, even to this day, that I was a part of this; that the  churches I pastored participated in this. (I left the IFB church movement in the late 1980s.) It is hard to admit that I was caught up in a religion that encouraged worshiping men as gods. Hyles, like Bob Jones, even had a college named after him: Hyles-Anderson College.

Granted, any time a group of people gather together under a common belief or ideal, there is the tendency to elevate certain people to god-like status within the group. IFB churches do it, Evangelicals do it, and yes, even atheists do it. Look at the typical Atheist/Humanist conference and you see the same speakers over and over. To some degree, it is human nature to fawn over those we think are in some way unique, successful, or who have some sort of special insight.

It has been thirty years since I heard Jack Hyles preach. I heard him preach many times during the heyday of the IFB movement — the late 1960s to the late 1980s. I would attend Sword of the Lord conferences whenever I could . Sometimes, I drove several hours just so I could sit at the feet of great IFB luminaries such as Jack Hyles, Lee RobersonLester Roloff,  Bob Gray of FloridaCurtis HutsonJohn R. Rice and Tom Malone. (Malone was the President of Midwestern Baptist College, the college I attended from 1976-79. Lester Roloff was accused of promoting child abuse, and Bob Gray of Florida was arrested for molesting children.)

the captain of our team jack hyles

A poem written by a devoted follower of Jack Hyles

What was it about Jack Hyles that drew people to him (and God is not the right answer)?

Jack Hyles was a superb orator. He knew how to use words, cadence, volume, and inflection to deliver sermons that most preachers could never deliver. As oratorical specimens, his sermons were flawless.  His sermons rarely had much Bible in them since he typically preached textual or topical sermons, but his sermons were perfectly scripted, with each point and sub point in perfect harmony. When Hyles chased a rabbit down the rabbit trail, he did it on purpose. He was methodical and disciplined in his preaching.

Hyles told a lot of stories about himself, his mother, and his feats as a pastor-god. His stories often made up the bulk of his sermon. Young preachers such as myself hung on every word, every story. Here was a man mightily used by God. It was many years before I could divorce myself from my worship of Jack Hyles enough to see his sermons for what they really were; grandiose brag sessions of a narcissist. I also came to see that the stories Hyles told were often lies or distortions of the truth, though I am inclined to think that Hyles really believed his own narrative.

The IFB church movement prides itself on being anti-cultural. The movement is known for what it is against and not for what it is for. In his sermons, Hyles would rail against Southern Baptists, The National Council of Churches, Evangelicals, pants on women, alcohol drinking, sex, and any other ill he deemed “worldly” or contrary to the received truth of the IFB church movement.

hyles baptist church

Yes, there really is a Hyles Baptist Church in Chesterfield, Virginia, pastored by Ron Talley.

When Hyles would preach against these things, his words elicited deep emotional and physical response. People would shout or say Amen or Preach it, Brother Hyles. People would stream down the aisles to confess their sin, their disobedience to God. The Sword of Lord would report the “number” of people  who came forward. (The IFB follows a corporate model, dominated by numbers.) If you want to see how the numbers racket works, read Bob Gray of Texas’s blog. A Hyles disciple, trained at Hyles-Anderson College, he knows exactly how many souls have been saved under his ministry. He is the ultimate IFB bean-counter.

When preaching at a conference, Hyles would often have an afternoon Question and Answer time for preachers. Young, aspiring preachers, along with old struggling preachers, could ask Hyles questions about building a great church. I can’t tell you the number of times I saw Hyles eviscerate a preacher because he asked the wrong question. One time, a young preacher asked a question about how to choose a good youth director — not that Hyles would know since his son, serial adulterer, David Hyles was the youth director at First Baptist. Hyles asked the young man how big his church was and after the young preacher told him, Hyles belittled him and accused him of being lazy. The young preacher should have felt humiliated, but he more likely felt that “God” was speaking to him through Brother Hyles. Hyles, like many top shelf IFB preachers, could be a bully.

Hyles liked to give off an air of invincibility. His illustrations made him seem like a man who could charge into the flames of hell and come out without one hair singed on his head. He told illustrations such as:

There were two men playing tennis and at the end of the game, the loser graciously shook the hand of the winner.

Bro. Hyles, how do you handle losing (code for failure)?

Hyles would thunder, I don’t know, I’ve never lost.

And then he would preach forcefully and loudly about not being a loser, a quitter.

When you take all these things together, it is easy to see why Jack Hyles was, and still is, worshiped. Some consider him the greatest preacher since the Apostle Paul. I understand how people become mesmerized by the Hyles mystique. However, when a person puts some distance between himself and the IFB church moment, he starts to see that the movement is a man-centered, man-worshiping religion. Are their good, decent people in IFB churches? Sure. For whatever reason, they cannot or will not take off their blinders so they can see things as they really are. IFB-preachers-turned-atheists such as myself have little influence over them because they see us as traitors and God haters.

I wonder what it will take to finally bring the IFB house crashing to the ground? Evidently, sexual scandal won’t do it. Maybe it is too much to ask for. After all, the Roman Catholic Church has pedophiles running amok, yet faithful Catholics still show up for mass and give their money to the church.  It seems that we as humans quite easily ignore what is right in front of us.

Shrine built after Jack Hyles died, as always bigger than life.

Shrine built after Jack Hyles died, as always bigger than life.

For further information:

Read Andrew Himes’ book, The Sword of the Lord, The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family.

Read Bryan Smith’s Chicago Magazine article, Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church

Read the Legacy of Jack Hyles

Read the 1980s Biblical Evangelist story on the Jack Hyles scandal

During the uproar over Hyles’ illicit affair, loyal Hyles followers wore “100% Hyles” buttons to show their support for Hyles.

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Jack Hyles Gives Advice on How to Raise a Girl

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Jack Hyles, First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana

In chapter 20 of How to Rear Children, Jack Hyles, former of pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, gives his advice on making a lady out of girl:

The women’s liberation notwithstanding most men still want someone ladylike and feminine for a wife. To be sure, all good Christian men want submissive, feminine, ladylike, and godly wives. Yet, we live in a society which wants to homogenize the sexes. The boys wear make-up and the girls wear blue jeans. The boys wear flowered shirts while the girls wear work shirts. The fad is for the boys to be feminine and the girls to be masculine. Consequently, if parents rear a girl to be ladylike, they will be swimming upstream, going against the grain, and climbing uphill, but it can be done. If it is done, however, it will be on purpose and some of the following suggestions must be used in order to make a lady out of a girl.

1. Dress her like a girl. Let her have long hair. Let her wear lace and ribbons. Do not let her wear that which pertaineth to a man. Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” The parent who wants to make a young lady of a daughter should see to it that she does not wear revealing clothes, but that she dresses modestly. I Timothy 2:9 and 10 says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety: not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

This must be started early in the life of a girl. If she never wears pants for the first time, she will always wear skirts. If she never wears mini-skirts for the first time, she will always wear skirts of a modest length. In these days of hot pants, mini-skirts, and pant suits, may God give us some old-fashioned mothers and dads who well rear some sweet, feminine ladies for our boys and dress them accordingly.

2. Teach her strict obedience. Other chapters stress the fact that obedience is the most necessary ingredient to be required from the child. This is especially true in the life of a girl, for she must be obedient all of her life. The boy who is obedient to his mother and father will someday become the head of the home; not so for the girl. Whereas the boy is being trained to be a leader, the girl is being trained to be a follower. Hence, obedience is far more important to her, for she must someday transfer it from her parents to her husband.

This means that she should never be allowed to argue at all. She should become submissive and obedient. She must obey immediately, without question, and without argument. The parents who require this have done a big favor for their future son-in-law.

3. She should not be allowed to play alone with boys. The parents should see to it that she plays with other girls. This is important for many reasons. She should play only with toys that are uniquely for girls. This, by all means, should include dolls, doll clothes, housecleaning equipment, dishes, pots and pans, etc. She should participate in sports enough to become coordinated but she should not excel in sports. If later she marries a man who is very athletic, she could become more proficient in some particular sport that he enjoys, but if she becomes an expert in a sport that is usually associated with men and boys, it could prove embarrassing to her future husband, and for that matter, it could entice her to become more masculine than she ought to be…

…5. Teach her to be an intelligent listener and an articulate conversationalist. She should read a variety of good books and magazines and have a wide variety of knowledge. It should be obvious to any male with whom she is conversing that she is an intelligent listener and that she can understand and respond to his conversation. She should never seem to know as much as he does (even though she may actually know more) but enough to talk intelligently about his interests and to make him feel that his conversation is falling on receptive ears and an understanding mind. This means that she should learn all she can about everything, especially things that interest men. For example, she should know football, but she should not play it. There is nothing a man wants any more than to be understood by an intelligent listener.

The wise lady will never “take over” the conversation. She will add just enough to make a valuable contribution and to show her intelligence on the subject, but she will always make her man feel that he is the more knowledgeable…Though she should not be a football fanatic she should know enough about football to enjoy watching the game with her boyfriend, fiancée, or husband, if he so chooses. It should be obvious to him that she is enjoying the game and that she is knowledgeable about it, but that he can teach her even more.

6. Teach her to make her dad feel like a hero. A young lady that can treat her dad properly is more likely to treat her husband properly. If she makes her dad feel like a man when he is in her presence, she will not doubt make her husband feel like a man when he is in her presence. If the daughter is careful to refill Dad’s glass at the table, see to it that he gets the best chair, listen to him intelligently when he talks, participate intelligently, yet meekly in the conversion, she will someday transfer this to her husband and her husband will rise up and call her “blessed.”…

…8. Teach her not to be too forward to boys. A young lady should not initiate a correspondence. If she cars for a boy she may respond to him with courtesy and feminine reserve so as to let him know she like him, but she should not be the aggressor, neither should her respond except within the bounds of propriety and right. It certainly is not proper for a young lady to call a young man on the telephone for a social talk, If there is obvious business, it may be done with reluctance, but it should never be done when the call is strictly for social purposes.

9. Do not show off her talent to others. As is mentioned elsewhere in this book it is far better for a parent to compliment character than talent. Many children have been ruined because their parents were too proud of them and their performances. This not only hurts the child but it disgusts other adults. In such cases the child receives far too much attention and then wants it for the rest of her life. Hence, she becomes maladjusted. Let her gain her own attention by her performance. Let her attract her own audience by her own ability and opportunities, not by the insistence of a mother or father who is overly proud of a daughter.

10. Let her do things that enable her to be a necessary help to another who is in the limelight. This is very important for a young lady. That is why learning to accompany a soloist is good training for a girl. Learning to take dictation is also good training. Both of these things train her to be a necessary helper to someone who is in the limelight. The Bible teaches that a woman is made not for the limelight but to complement and supplement. Proverbs 32:23 says, “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.”

The girl should be taught that her lot in life is to be obedient and helpful to her husband…

…11. Teach her to pull for her dad. The wise mother will teach the girl to make a hero of her father and always pull for him. She should pull for him in business and do all she can to help. She should pull for him in any athletic contest and do all she can to cheer him to victory. In everything he does she should stand on the sidelines and root for her dad. She is being taught to root for the biggest man in her life and to cheer and spur him on to bigger heights. When she is married she will transfer this to her husband and will be a great encouragement to him.

The mother must teach the daughter that when the father is a success the daughter is also a success. She is a very vital part in his success, and as a member of the team she can share the victory and the spoils. When this attitude is properly developed she will feel the same way when she is married. When the husband wins a victory it will be a team victory rather than a victory just for him.

12. Teach her to plan for a profession but to hope that it will not be needed. Mothers and fathers should teach their daughters to train for some kind of profession that is always in demand. There is always the possibility that the daughter will never marry or that she will become a widow with children to rear and will not remarry. Because of this she should plan to pursue some profession that will enable her to support herself and her children in any eventuality. She should be taught that if possible, she should not follow this profession when married. This gives her a dependence, if the opportunity arises to be dependent, but an independence if needed. There are many professions that a young lady could pursue such as that of a school teacher, beautician, secretary, nurse, etc.

13. Teach her the sanctity of the body. Teach her that boys should keep their hands off and that her body should be clean in every way. She should care for her body. She should be well groomed and physically clean. Then she should also be moral and virtuous. Talk with her about situations which arise in the lives of most young ladies. Teach her how to handle each situation. Explain to her that that is the reason she should not be in a car alone with a boy. Teach her what to do if improper advances are made. Let her be conscious of the fact that her body is a very sacred thing and should always be treated as the temple of the Holy Spirit.

14. Teach her to do feminine chores. As is mentioned elsewhere it is better for a girl to do the dishes than the yard, to wash the pots and pans than the car, to clean the bedroom rather than the garage. She should do the duties that she will do when she is married and a successful mother and wife…

…The most noble goal that parents can set for their daughters is to help them become Christians. The second most noble goal is to lead them to be ladies, for one of the great needs of our generation is Christian ladies…

 

I’m Not Preaching Now, I’m Telling the Truth

preaching

I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan from 1976-1979. Midwestern, started in 1954 by Alabama preacher Tom Malone, was a small fundamentalist Baptist college.  Malone pastored nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church. In the 1970’s, Emmanuel was one of the largest churches in the country. Today its buildings are shuttered and a FOR SALE sign sits in the dust-covered main entrance door.

During my time at Midwestern, I heard Tom Malone preach several hundred times. Considered by many to be a great pulpiteer, Malone’s preaching was fervent and punctuated with illustrations meant to drive home the point he was making. During one sermon, Malone said something I never forgot. In the middle of sharing an illustration, Malone said:

I’m not preaching now, I’m telling the truth.

Everyone laughed and then he finished his illustration.

Over the march of my life from infancy to the grave, I’ve heard thousands of sermons and preached thousands more. I’ve heard men that had no public speaking skills and others who were wordsmiths capable of enchanting hearers with their preaching and illustrations. Sadly, there are a lot more of the former than the latter.  Even though I am an atheist, I still enjoy hearing a well crafted sermon delivered by a man who knows how to turn a word into an epic Broadway production.

Preaching only the Bible is boring, uninspiring preaching. An effective sermon requires illustrations. Jesus was a master storyteller. His sermons made ample use of illustrations meant to drive home a spiritual point. A preacher that is good at his craft knows that illustrations are key to helping listeners understand and embrace his sermon. And therein lies the danger.

When I started preaching, I used illustrations from illustration books. As I aged and experienced more of life, I began to use more and more illustrations about my experiences and personal life. If a preacher isn’t careful, it is easy to massage his illustrations to “fit” a particular sermon or audience. Sometimes, the illustration becomes a lie.

As I mentioned above, I’ve heard a lot of sermons. I’ve heard thousands of illustrations and personal stories, all meant to get my attention or drive home a point. Over time, I came to understand that many preachers played loose with the truth, often shaping their stories to make a particular point or to cast themselves in a positive light. In other words, they lied, even if they don’t understand they are doing so. Often, a speaker can tell the same lie over and over until they reach a point where the lie become reality and they think it is the truth.

Take Jack Hyles, by all accounts a masterful speaker and storyteller. He was also a narcissistic liar. I heard Hyles preach numerous times at Sword of the Lord and Bible conferences. His sermons were usually long on illustrations and short on Scripture and exegesis. For Hyles, it was all about the sermon, the story, and the invitation. Everything he said was meant to bring hearers to a point of making a decision for or against Jesus.

Here’s a story Hyles told about winning an auto mechanic to Christ:

When I got to his house, he was working under the car. He was lying face up on a creeper and could not see me as I arrived.

“Hyles Mechanic Service!” I shouted.

“Who called you?” he asked.

“I was not called,” I replied, “I was sent.”

“Well, roll yourself under and see if you can see what is the trouble.”

I got another creeper, laid down on it, and roiled myself under the car with him.

“Looks like to me you need the valves ground,” I shouted.

“How can you tell from under here?”

“I am not talking about your car. I am talking about you.”

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am Pastor Hyles of First Baptist Church.”

Then he became inquisitive, and I explained to him that he needed Christ as Saviour to make him a new creature and that he was in worse shape than the car. With both of us lying on our backs looking up at the bottom side of the car, I told him how to be saved. When time came to pray the sinner’s prayer, he closed by saying, “Lord, I am just coming for a general overhauling.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both. The next Sunday he came forward in our service professing his faith in Christ.

Great story, and one I have no doubt is an admixture of truth and lie. Every time I read a story like this I am reminded of that Sunday morning almost forty years ago when I heard Tom Malone say, “I’m not preaching now, I’m telling the truth.”  Now, that will preach, as the Baptists like to say.

So Glad for a Place Called Hell, A Jack Hyles Loving Christian Says

jack hyles 1973

Jack Hyles, 1973

My posts on Jack Hyles,David Hyles Jack Schaap,and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement and its bombastic luminaries have wide circulation on the internet. With wide circulation comes an increase in comments from Baptist fundamentalists who feel it is their duty to expose their ignorance for all to see. While they THINK they are putting the preacher turned atheist in his place, what they are really doing is illustrating the bankruptcy of the IFB church.  Their emails, comments, blog posts, forum comments, and sermons are reminders that IFB preachers and church members are unable to embrace or accept any form of criticism. When you are certain you are right it is hard to accept anything/anyone that says you are not right or that your thinking is flawed.

Several years ago, I received an email from a Jack Hyles loving older woman in Florida. I assume she is older because she references a picture in the post from the early 1970’s. Without further adieu, I present to you yet another reason why I am glad not to be a Christian:

Hi, I want to thank you for the picture of Dr. Hyles on your article. I am going to copy and print it for my husband who was in Hammond at the time of this photo. He dearly missed by us and we both think he was honor to be in his ministry for seven years. By the way, I am glad that you are an atheist and out of all church. Maybe you can join Madame Murray O Haire in Hell one day and you both can have a heyday criticizing each other. Good luck with the hereafter, there is one but you are going to in the dark place where no one can see your ugly face again. So glad for that place called HELL.

*all spelling and grammar errors belong to the email writer.

See all posts about Jack Hyles

See all posts about Davide Hyles

See all post on IFB church

 

Pastor Steven Anderson Hates Bruce

steven anderson bruce jenner

Snark/sarcasm ahead

Steven Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church, Tempe Arizona, has a huge hard-on for Caitlyn Jenner. Well, I shouldn’t  say huge hard-on because Anderson is a small-minded, small dick narcissist who loves to say outlandish things so he can continue his five minutes of media fame. While I would love to say that Anderson is an outlier, his type can be found in every Evangelical sect. Anderson happens to hail from the Jack Hyles wing of  the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church movement. He prides himself in being uneducated, as does his wife Zsuzsanna. If you have not read my post Understanding Steven Anderson, Pastor Faithful Word Baptist Church, Tempe, Arizona, I encourage you to do.

When I first read Anderson’s quote, I thought to myself, Anderson is upset at me. After all, when you do I Google Search for Pastor Steven Anderson, my post about him is usually in the top five to fifteen search results. The ranking varies depending on if the news media has done any reporting on Anderson.  Sadly, Anderson had BRUCE JENNER in mind, not Bruce Gerencser, even though, as one Facebook commenter said, “Don’t feel bad, Bruce. I’m sure he hates you, too!

Churches That Abuse: Why Good People Do Bad Things and Why Bad People Do Bad Things Part 3

elmer gantry

Is Your Pastor an Elmer Gantry? Are You Sure? How Can You Know?

In my last post on this subject I wrote:

In this post I want to deal with Churches that Abuse: Why Good People Do Bad Things. This post deals with a very difficult and controversial subject.  It is easy for us to understand evil actions in a church when they are committed by evil people: wolves in sheep clothing. It’s much harder for us to understand evil actions in the church when the evil is committed by individuals who are generally considered good people…

Let me digress for a moment and lay some groundwork for what I will say next. Evangelicals believe:

  • The Bible is the inspired word of God and is sufficient for faith and practice. I am deliberately avoiding the various  arguments about inspiration, inerrancy, etc. Every Evangelical believes the Bible, to some degree or another, is God’s truth.  If they don’t they are not Evangelical.
  • That what the Bible teaches is to be believed, obeyed, and practiced.
  • The Bible is to be, with rare exception, read in a literal sense.
  • The pastor is called by God to preach and teach the Bible to the church membership. I am well aware that a minority of churches have multiple pastors or elders, but the majority of churches are pastored by one person.

As I mentioned in the previous posts in this series, when we add these things together we end up with a church that believes everything written in the Bible. Its members believe they are to live by teachings of the Bible. They believe the most important thing in the world is to be obedient to God.

God has given them a man or a woman (most often a man) to teach and guide them in the teachings of the Bible. The pastor is linchpin of the church. He is the main cog upon which the machinery of the church turns. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance the pastor plays in what people believe and practice. The amount of power that a pastor has is astounding.

How do pastors gain such power over people?

People want to believe that when they go to church they are safe. After all, they are surrounded by people who love Jesus and who seem to sincerely follow the teachings of the Bible. The “it’s what is inside that counts” sounds nice, but in most churches everything is measured by what can be seen and experienced. If people “look” Christian then they “are” Christian. If they “act” Christian then they “are” Christian. People enter the pastor/parishioner relationship with their guard down. They trust the pastor. Surely, he has their best interest at heart.

This is why, when charges of abuse are brought against their pastor, it is hard for churches to accept that their pastor is an abuser. “He wouldn’t do such things.” “He is a man of God.” “He is kind and loving.” “He would never do anything to hurt the church or his family.” Looking in from the outside, the level of denial seems astounding, but church members are taught to be loyal. They are taught to stand firm no matter the circumstance. If they didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.

I know of countless church scandals where the facts of the scandal were not in dispute, yet many members refused to believe the facts. They steadfastly denied reality. When the late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hammond Indiana (at one time the largest church in America),was charged with infidelity, the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist movement was divided into two groups of people; those that stood with Hyles and considered all the evidence against him to be false or circumstantial and those who believed Hyles was guilty of the things he was accused of.

The evidence was overwhelming. I have no doubt that Hyles did what his accusers said he did. Yet, the 100%-Hyles people — those who actually wore buttons that said “100% Hyles” — won the day. Thousands of people left the church, but Hyles survived the scandal and pastored the church until his death. After his death, his son-in-law Jack Schaap pastored the church.  He, too, found himself accused of sexual misconduct. Unlike his brother-in-law David Hyles, who got away with having sex with numerous female church members, Jack Schaap was found guilty of having sex with a minor and is now serving a twelve-year prison sentence.

Hyles had what we called the “Hyles Mystique.” Jack Hyles had god-like qualities.  He was a super-Christian, a super-pastor who somehow got thirty hours out of every twenty four hour day. He preached at conferences every week, preached at his church on Sunday and Wednesday, counseled dozens and dozens of people each week and still had time to be a wonderful father and husband. His preaching was inspiring and he had command of the pulpit like few other preachers. Surely, such a man could not “sin” or “abuse” other people. I was quite the Hyles fan, but I later came to see that Hyles was a narcissist and a serial liar.

In the Evangelical church, pastors are considered to be a step above the rest of the human race. They are God-called, God-inspired men who speak on behalf of God. They have vast knowledge of the Bible and they have an answer for every question. If the God/Bible/Pastor doesn’t have the answer to a question…well that’s never happened.

Church members are taught that the Bible is God’s divine answer book. In the Bible Christians will find everything they need that pertains to life and godliness. If it is not in the Bible, it is not worth knowing. Say what you will about evangelicals, but many of they take seriously the teachings of the Bible. They read it and study it, desiring to know how to live their lives in conformity to its teachings.

Church members are taught to NOT trust their own reasoning. They are taught to NOT trust the vain philosophies of this world. Out in the world Satan walks to and fro seeking whom he may devour. This is why church members are discouraged from reading  books or magazines that are not written by approved Christian authors. They dare not open their mind to the world, and by living this way they ultimately lose their ability to rationally think and, over time, to spot error and contradiction. Skeptics do not make good Christians. The Bible, or should I say, the pastor’s interpretation of the Bible, becomes the only thing that matters.. This is fertile ground for the seeds of abuse to grow and mature.

Sunday after Sunday, people gather together in Evangelical churches to listen to their pastor expound and illustrate his interpretation of the Bible. They think they are doing so with an open mind, but instead they have closed off their mind to everything except what their pastor teaches. Since he is the man of God, he is explicitly trusted by almost everyone.

Before I go on, I need to say that I think most pastors are honorable people.  I think they, as I did, entered the ministry with the best of intentions. They sincerely want  to help people and to teach people how to live according to the teachings of the Bible. Regardless of my beliefs about God, the Bible, and Christianity in general, I greatly respect pastors who selflessly work hard to minister to their churches.

Most churches are pastored by one person. Churches with multiple pastors or multiple staff members make up a small number of the total number of churches. Even in large churches, with numerous staff members, there is usually one person who is THE pastor. Take a look at the mega-churches. Tens of thousands of church members and dozens of staff members, yet the churches are labeled as John MacArthur’s, Rick Warren’s, Bill Hybels’  church, etc. No matter how many elders are on the board, there is no doubt whose church it is.

No matter the size of the congregation, the church revolves around the pastor. He  the head honcho, the bwana, the chairman of the board.  The pastor has tremendous power granted to him by the church body. In many churches, the power that a pastor has is almost absolute. Granted, a church CAN dismiss a pastor, but rarely are disaffected church members willing to get into a turf war with the pastor. In every church there is a core group of people who are on the pastor’s side. Disaffected church members find it difficult to take on the pastor and those who support him.

As time goes on, the pastor, whether on purpose or not, tends to consolidate his power/authority in the church. He becomes the go-to man for everything, even things that have nothing to do with the Bible or the church. The pastor may even deceive himself about this. He may see this as the church and pastor maturing together like an old married couple.

I am sure you have heard the line absolute power corrupts absolutely. Sadly, this is often the case in many churches. Over time, the pastor becomes  a monarch ruling from a throne. First Baptist Church becomes John Smith’s church. The pastor’s name is on the sign, the church letterhead, and every piece of literature put out by the church. If the church is a corporate body, with every member being an essential part, why does it matter what the pastor’s name is?

The answer is quite simple. In America we are attracted to personalities. We live in a culture that puts a great premium on star power. As a result, people view pastors as stars and personalities. As with actors and political personalities, when a pastor begins to believe the hype about himself, he has taken the first step to being an abuser. Filled with pride and arrogance, the pastor begins to actually believe what people say about him. “Great sermon pastor.” You are the best preacher I have ever heard.”  “What a powerful man of God you are!”

The pastor and the church are complicit in providing a fertile ground for abuse to occur.  While ultimately the abuser is the one who must give an account  for his abuse, the church is complicit to the degree that it failed to see all people, INCLUDING the pastor, as mere humans. Pastors are capable of committing the same sins and behaving the same way as church members and non-Christians.

Trust is a good thing. Generally, we should trust one another. However, there is a difference between eyes-wide-open trust and blind trust. Closing off one’s mind to the possibility that good people can do bad things is irresponsible.  Every week there are news reports of good people doing bad things. Sometimes it is bad people acting like good people doing bad things, but sometimes it really is good people doing bad things.

Good pastors are capable of doing bad things. I have pondered the WHY of this for a long time. I want to conclude this post with a few thoughts on the “why” of pastors that abuse. Why to good men do bad things?

First, they believe the hype about themselves. Pastors foolishly begin to believe the accolades that are thrown their way. Pretty soon they begin to think, I AM SOMEBODY. This is especially true if the pastor is a gifted communicator or has great people skills. They forget that Bible says pride goeth before a fall. The story of Nebuchadnezzar and his rise to power and fall should be burned into the mind of every pastor. The book of Daniel records Nebuchadnezzar saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”  Many an Evangelical pastor has uttered a similar statement, only to be ruined by his arrogance and pride. (see Tony Soprano Would Make a Good Independent Baptist Preacher)

Second, they think they are more knowledgeable than they really are. The longer a pastor serves in one church, the more willing people are to come and talk to the pastor about the troubles they are facing. Most pastors have little or no training in counseling or psychology. Even when they do have training, most often they are trained to view the Bible as the answer to every problem. When I was a pastor, rare was the day that someone didn’t come to me and say “can we talk.” I counseled hundreds of people over the years. Evangelicals have the same problems as non-Christians do. Sometimes they have MORE problems than non-Christians, due to literalist interpretation of the Bible. The Bible does not make life easier to live. It’s commandments, rules, and regulations are often a source of conflict and mental/emotional stress.

This is complicated further by the pastor’s interpretation of the Bible. In the hyper-fundamentalist wing of the Evangelical church, you will find lengthy codes of conduct said to be taken straight from the bible. This code of conduct is enforced through the preaching of the pastor. (see An Independent Baptist Hate List and The Official Independent Baptist Rulebook) Many times, the pastor’s own personal code of conduct is presented as the standard by which everyone else must live. After all, the pastor got it right from the Bible! (See Are Evangelicals Fundamentalist?)

As I look back over twenty-five years in the ministry, I now realize the churches I pastored had far more dysfunction than I was willing to admit. My staunch, literalist stand on the teachings of the Bible caused some of this dysfunction. Thinking the Bible is the answer to what ails us is not only ignorant, it can be dangerous. This dysfunction was furthered by my own arrogance as I allowed myself to become THE answer man. I could justify myself by saying that many of the people I pastored were lazy Christians. They were quite willing to accept whatever answer I gave them. One church member, when asked “what do you believe?” answered, “I believe whatever the preacher believes.” Brutal, but honest.

Most church members read the bible devotionally and never spend a moment studying the doctrines they say they believe. Of course, I now see that this is essential to the long-term survival of Evangelical Christianity. Ignorance is bliss or, in Evangelicalese, ignorance is faith. When Evangelicals embark on an intellectual journey to truly understand Christianity and its teachings, they often end up leaving the faith or embracing some form of liberal Christianity. Evangelical Christianity is not well served when looked at with the microscope of reason and fact. For this reason, pastors encourage their parishioners to read only approved books, and they are encouraged to only send their kids to approved Evangelical colleges. This is vitally important for keeping the ship afloat. Non-approved books and non-approved colleges usually cause trouble and often lead to people leaving the church. Knowledge is power.

Over the years, I counseled a number of people who needed immediate psychological or psychiatric help. At the time, I despised the mental health profession. I viewed them as tools of Satan. Instead, I gave people lame, unhelpful advice from the Bible. Instead of helping them, I abused them with the Bible. Several church members had nervous breakdowns and ended up in a psychiatric hospital. I viewed this as their fault, their unwillingness to trust God and obey his commandments. Those who had a nervous breakdown later left the church. They found out that what I was selling was snake oil. I proclaimed Jesus as the cure and they found out he wasn’t.

When given the opportunity, I tell young pastors to stick to doing what they were trained to do. Leave mental health issues to the professionals trained to deal with them. The same could be said of many things pastors counsel others on without having the proper training to do so.

Third, the pastor thinks of himself as being impervious to sin. He is, after all, the man of God. He is the servant of the Most High. He has his Ephesian 6 armor on 24/7. Pastors can begin to think that they are invincible, that they are above the fray. They really should know better, but arrogance and pride blinds them from seeing themselves as they really are. As this point, the pastor lacks self-awareness and is extremely vulnerable to self-deception and open to doing things considered sinful and abusive.

Pastors have a legal, ethical, and moral obligation to act appropriately and  responsibly. The Bible, in 1 Timothy 3, sets a high moral and ethical standard for pastors, as do the laws of most states.

Here in Ohio, a pastor is considered a person of authority. He can be held criminally liable for not reporting abuse or for violating the trust of a parishioner. Let me give an example. If church member Joe has an affair with church member Sue, the Bible calls their behavior adultery. However, when a pastor has an affair with a congregant the Bible still calls the action adultery, but the law calls his behavior an abuse of authority. Uncounted pastors end up in prison because they ignored their moral, ethical, and legal obligations to church members.

Pastors who commit sexual sin with a church member are abusing the trust given to them by the person. The state recognizes this and accordingly criminalizes such actions, Pastors, due to the sensitive nature of their interactions with congregants, put themselves in situations where the potential for sin and abuse is great. They often see people at their worst. The conscientious pastor acts appropriately, giving what help he can and recommending secular services for those things he can’t help with. The abusive pastor sees vulnerability as an opportunity to take advantage of a church member. Such pastors are rightly considered the lowest of the low, like dog shit on the bottom of a shoe. Preying on the weak and the vulnerable might work in Darwin’s survival of the fittest, but in the church members rightly expect their pastor to treat them ethically and morally.

Let me share a personal story that I believe will help illustrate what I am trying to say. One spring day, a young woman who used to attend the church came to my office dressed provocatively.  Her parents still attended the church, but she had left the church, off to sow her wild oats.  She had a short, tight skirt on and when she sat down and crossed her legs she definitely had my attention.  It didn’t take me long to realize what her intentions were. In her mind, the best way to get back at her parents was to screw the preacher and ruin his ministry and the church. Fortunately, I realized what was going on and had my wife come into the office with us.

In no way do I intend to present myself as a pillar of moral virtue. I wasn’t then and I am not now. In the above-mentioned story, I was fortunate that I did not take a bite of the forbidden fruit. I just as easily could have. If I had, I would have been guilty of abusing this young woman. Never mind her attempt to seduce me. As a pastor, I was the one who had the responsibility to act appropriately in every circumstance. That’s what the Bible teaches and what the law demands.

A number of the readers of this blog were abused in Christian group homes and boarding schools. Their stories of abuse still bring me to tears. How did these people, children at the time, end up in abusive settings? In almost every circumstance it began with their pastor. Let’s face it, troubled teens are not easy to deal with. But, we must remember that “troubled teen” in an Evangelical context does not mean the same thing as it does elsewhere. A “troubled teen” in an Independent Baptist church might be nothing more than a teen who listens to rock music, drinks a beer now and again, fools around with her boyfriend, or admits to trying pot. This, of course, explains most everyone who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s.

Evangelical children are taught to obey authority, especially the authority of their parents and pastor. When parents have a child or a teen they can’t control–and I readily admit there are some kids that need help beyond what  parents can provide — they most often seek out counsel from their pastor. When teens end up in a Christian group home or boarding school, they almost always end up there based on the recommendation of their pastor. In my opinion, when these kids are sent off to a group home and abuse happens, the pastor bears just as much responsibility as the abusers. He is culpable because he is the one who recommended a home, such as New Bethany Home for Girls, Hephzibah House, or the Roloff Homes. Our legal system recognizes this, equally punishing the bank robber and the person who drove the getaway car. (See Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home for Girls and Teen Group Homes: Dear IFB Pastor, It’s Time for You to Atone for Your Sins.)

Truth be told, pastors often are just as trusting as church members. Parents come to them seeking help for their “troubled teen.” The pastor remembers that “so and so” from college runs a group home, so he  gives the parents the phone number for the home, thinking he has done all he needs to do, The pastor has NOT done his due diligence. He should thoroughly check out any place he is recommending to parents with “troubled teens.” The same could be said for Christian colleges. Many Christian colleges are purveyors of institutionalized abuse, yet pastors blindly recommend these colleges to prospective students.  Rarely, does anyone consider how the bizarre codes of conduct at many Christian schools affect the minds of the students sent there. Pensacola Christian College goes so far as to withhold giving the student and their parents the complete list of rules and regulations until the student is on campus. Pastors are responsible for the people, places, and things they recommend. Ignorance is not an excuse.

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