Tag Archive: Jack Hyles

Sermon Illustrations: The Lies Preachers Tell

lying for jesus

From 1976-1979, I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. Midwestern was started in the 1950s by Dr. Tom Malone, pastor of nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church. Dorm students were required to attend Emmanuel. One Sunday, Dr. Malone made a statement during his sermon that I have never forgotten. Meant to be a joke, Malone said “I am not preaching now. I’m telling the truth.”

I was 20 years old when Malone made this statement. I will soon be 59. In the intervening years, I preached thousands of sermons and heard hundreds of other sermons, either in person or on cassette tape. Preaching is an art form meant to convey some sort of spiritual message to hearers. While Evangelicals love to make much of the Bible, preaching is far more than just reading the Scriptures. Following Jesus’ example, many preachers use stories to illustrates their sermons. Story-less sermons are, in my estimation, boring. I suspect most church goers would agree with me. Imagine going to church on Sunday and hearing a sermon that consists of a droning-fan-on-a-summer-day preacher reading the Bible word-for-word. B-or-i-n-g.

Illustrations help keep parishioners engaged. There’s nothing better than a couple of stories interjected at just the right time. In fact, many parishioners won’t remember anything about their preachers sermons except for the fantastical stories they told. Marge, wasn’t that a wonderful story Pastor Billy told today? Yes it was, Moe. Why, that one story was almost unbelievable. Pastor Bill wouldn’t lie, so I know he is telling us the truth.

Dr. Malone got it right when he said, “I am not preaching now. I’m telling the truth.” Malone knew that preachers love to tell stories, and sometimes their stories are not as factual as they should be. Younger preachers often buy illustration books. These books provide preachers with a ready source of catchy, provocative illustrations sure to get the attention of parishioners. Older preachers often develop a cache of illustrations that can be pulled out of their mental file cabinet and used when needed. These illustrations often come from past experiences, especially for preachers who did a lot of “sinning” before Jesus rescued them. I have heard countless preachers regale parishioners with stories about their lives as drug addicts, drunkards, Satanists, atheists, or hit men for the mob. These stories often seem larger than life. And they are, because these kind of stories are often embellished.

I recently posted a video of anti-porn crusader Dawn Hawkins telling a story about seeing a man watching child pornography on an airplane.  Several commenters said that, based on their flying experiences, Hawkins was lying. I believe they are correct. I think the same could be said for many of the stories preachers use in their sermons. Simply put, these men are liars for Jesus.

The late Jack Hyles, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana was a masterful storyteller. I heard Hyles preach in person and on tape. His stories were mesmerizing, especially to a wide-eyed young Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preacher from Ohio. However, over time, I came to the conclusion that Hyles was a narcissistic, pathological liar.

For many years, Hyles pastored the largest church in the United States. Those raised in the IFB church movement know that for men such as Hyles, it was all about the numbers: church attendance, souls saved, baptisms, and offerings. The ministry was like a bunch of third grade boys in the restroom playing the who has a bigger penis game. Preachers who had John Holmes or Ron Jeremy-sized churches were considered men who were being mightily used by God. Young preachers and men who pastored smaller churches were expected to sit at the feet of these preachers, learning how they too could have a large church.

Hyles, due to his church’s number one place on the charts status, was viewed as a demigod by many IFB preachers. I was one such preacher. Hyles told stories about how many people he counseled, souls he had won to Jesus, and the thousands of miles he traveled to preach at Sword of the Lord conferences. Wow, what a great man of God, I thought at the time. I want to be used by God just like Brother Hyles.

I now know that Hyles’ stories were lies. He simply did not have enough hours in the week to sleep, eat, shit, have an affair,  pastor a church, win souls, and fly around the country to preach at conferences. As with all lies, Hyles’ stories had elements of truth. However, when carefully analyzed, Hyles’ sermon illustrations sound too good to be true.  Let me illustrate this with several stories found in Hyles’ book Let’s Go Soulwinning:

So I walked in and said, “Hey! Anybody home?” And there was—thirteen people at home—company all dressed up in suits and fine clothes. There I was. Imagine, Rev. Hyles, a cup in his hand, fishing hat on, split tee shirt, patch in his breeches, and a pair of tennis shoes on his feet! And I said, “Hello.” The lady looked at me, she looked at her company, then announced, “This is my pastor.” I was horrified! I was humiliated! I wanted to evaporate but couldn’t.  Finally I said, “Excuse me; I’m sorry.” Then I got to thinking. Shoot! Just take over the conversation. Just act like you have good sense. So in I walked. “How do you do! How are you? Are you a Christian?” I went around the entire room asking the same question. Then THEY got embarrassed.  (I found out long ago that when a preacher goes to a hospital or gets some place where he feels like a fifth wheel, he should just bluff them and take over the conversation. That will help you, too. It really will. You go to the hospital.  Here is the doctor, the nurse, the family. And everybody says, “That’s the preacher.” You know how you feel, pastors. It’s a terrible feeling. So I walk in, “Hello Doc. How are you?” Make HIM feel bad. Make HIM feel like he’s a fifth wheel.)

So I walked in and asked each person if he or she were a Christian. The last man, a young man, said, “No, I’m not, but I’ve been thinking about it.” Well, I said, “I can help you think about it right here.” We knelt there in that home and opened the Bible. He got converted. He lived at Irving, Texas, forty miles from Garland. I said, “Now, J.D., you need to walk the aisle in the church in Irving tomorrow.” He said, “If you don’t mind, Preacher, I’ll just stay over tonight and come to your church and walk the aisle.” He did, and that night he got baptized in my church. Later he joined the First Baptist Church of Irving, Texas.

You don’t realize how many places you will bump into people. I saw a lady while on vacation just recently. She said, “Hello, Brother Jack. Remember when you won me to the Lord?” I said, “I certainly do.” It happened while I was looking for a Mrs. Marsh. I knocked on Mrs. Marsh’s door—I thought. She came to the door. I said, “Mrs. Marsh?”

“No, I’m Mrs. Tillet.”

I said, “Mrs. Tillet, I thought Mrs. Marsh lived here.”

“No, she lives five houses down the street.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Tillet.” I walked off. Then I said, “Wait a minute, Mrs.

Tillet. Are you a Christian?” She began to cry. I led her to Christ right there.

I have won shoeshine boys and fellows on airplanes. I was going to Phoenix to a conference last year. I sat down beside a man seventy-two years old, a wealthy rancher. “Where do you live?” I asked.

He said, “On a ranch between Phoenix and Tucson.”

I said, “Do you and your wife live alone?”

“My wife died a few months ago.”

I asked, “Do you ever think about having anybody else come and live with you?” “Oh,” he said, “If I could find somebody who would come and live with me, a friend to keep me company, I’d give anything in the world.” He had chauffeurs, servants. He owned a big ranch with hundreds of acres, but was as lonely as he could be.

I said, “I know Somebody who would come and live with you.”

“You do? Does He live in Phoenix?”

I said, “He sure does. He lives everywhere.”

He said, “Who is it?”

“Jesus will come.” In fifteen minutes that man had Somebody to go home with him to live.

Oh, if we will just take time to witness. The trouble is, we are ashamed of Jesus. We don’t mind saying, “Isn’t it hot today?” or, “I wonder how the Berlin situation is.” We don’t mind talking about Khrushchev. We’re more eager to talk about him than about Jesus. Isn’t that a shame! Here we are redeemed. He died for us on the cross. We have been made heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. He is building a home in Heaven for us. We’re God’s children and we won’t even tell a stranger that we belong to the Lord Jesus. Be soul-conscious.

Storytelling preachers love to tell stories about people suddenly dying and going to hell. What better way to drive a point home than to tell hearers about this or that man rejecting God’s plan of salvation and then dropping dead and awaking in hell. This story can be told numerous ways with different characters and circumstances. The point is always the same: now is accepted time, now is the day of salvation.

Let me conclude this post with several stories I have heard preachers tell. One preacher told a story about a man God had called to preach. The man ignored God’s call and went on to have a large family and made lots of money. One day this man’s wife and children were driving down the road when a truck hit them head on. This man’s entire family was instantly killed. In a quiet moment before the funeral, the man wept over the caskets of his loved ones. And at that moment  God audibly spoke to him, telling him that it was God who had killed his entire family to get his attention. Are you ready to serve me now?, God asked the man. The man collapsed and told God that he would indeed forsake all and follow him.

Another preacher told a story about the people in hell. One day, a crew that was drilling an oil well began hearing what sounded like people crying and screaming. Where was this noise coming from? They soon ascertained that the noise was coming from the oil well casing. One of the workers decided to drop a microphone down the well casing, and sure enough they heard people screaming about being in the unrelenting, fiery flames of hell!

Of course, neither of these stories is true. The first story was a legend of sorts. I heard variations of it numerous times. Preacher Bob heard Big Name Preacher John tell  the story at a Sword of the Lord conference. Bob thought, why not use this story in my sermon, impressing on people the importance of immediately obeying the voice of God.

The second story is pure fabrication. But hey, if souls get saved . . . right? The end justifies the means, even if it means telling stories that are more farcical than the miracles of Jesus and his resurrection from the dead.

Have you ever heard too-good-to-be-true sermon illustrations?  Please share them in the comment section.

 

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Is Barack Obama the Antichrist? by Jack Hyles

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Jack Hyles, First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana

This is the fifty-seventh installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip taken from a sermon preached by Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana. Some of Hyles’ followers see this 1970 sermon as a prophecy of the rise of Negro Antichrist Barack Obama. Hyles tries to NOT sound racist, and in doing so…he sounds quite racist.

Video Link

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Get Hollywood Out of Your Home by Jack Hyles

jack hyles

Jack Hyles, First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana

This is the fifty-sixth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip taken from a sermon preached by Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana.

Video Link

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: The Beatles Caused the U.S. to Lose Vietnam War by Jack Hyles

jack hyles

Jack Hyles, First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana

This is the fifty-fifth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip taken from a sermon preached by Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana.

Video Link

First Baptist Church of Hammond Sued Over Fraudulent Investment Scheme

jack schaap 2

Former pastor and convicted felon Jack Schaap continues to cast a long shadow over the First Baptist Church of Hammond congregation. According to the Northwest Indiana Times, Schaap and Deacon Thomas Kimmel pushed a fraudulent investment scheme that resulted in church members losing their investment. In 2014, Kimmel was convicted of fraud, sentenced to 22 years in prison, and ordered to pay $16.5 million in restitution. Schaap, who is serving a 12 year prison sentence for having sex with a church teenager, received a one percent commission on each church member’s investment. Kimmel received a ten percent commission. Neither man disclosed these commission to the church.

Two former First Baptist families are suing the church to recoup their lost investment. Kyle Telechan, a reporter for the Times had this to say about the latest First Baptist scandal:

The First Baptist Church of Hammond is being sued by two couples for money they said was lost in an investment scheme pushed by a former deacon who allegedly was hired by the church to provide “one-on-one financial counseling.”

….

The lawsuit against First Baptist Church of Hammond, Inc., was filed this week by Joseph Elwell, Crystal Elwell, Robert Baldwin, and Deborah Baldwin, individually and as custodian for her two minor children. The Elwells are former Schererville residents now living in Yuma, Arizona, while Deborah Baldwin is a former Crown Point resident now living with her husband, Robert, in Kiel, Wisconsin.

Rick Hammond, an attorney representing the church, said Friday the church “believes the charges are baseless. That there has been absolutely no wrongdoing on behalf of the church and the church stands by its good works and the missionary work it has been doing in the community and around the world,” for decades.

“There are times when individuals may engage in wrongful conduct, but,” he said, “many people want to take that as an opportunity to wrongfully criticize the church.”

According to federal prosecutors, Kimmel sold investments in Sure Line Acceptance Corp. in churches across the country. The federal indictment against Kimmel characterized the corporation as a Ponzi scheme where investors were paid their interest from new investor money.

The lawsuit seeks to recover approximately $225,000 in losses supposedly incurred by the Elwells and $235,400 incurred by the Baldwins.

According to the lawsuit, by January 2006 Schapp (sic) had hired Kimmel to act as an employee of First Baptist Church for the purposes of providing financial advice, debt counseling, budgeting and investment advice for members of the First Baptist Church. Schaap allegedly informed church members during services that Kimmel “was the church’s financial adviser with offices on church premises and was available to members of the church for financial advice.”

The lawsuit states that Kimmel also “represented to parishioners” he had invested $450,000 of his own money in Sure Line and First Baptist Church of Hammond and Schaap had invested $1 million in the corporation.

According to the lawsuit, First Baptist Church and Schapp (sic) could “have terminated Kimmel’s ability to provide financial services to parishioners, solicit the Sure Line Investments, and the right to use First Baptist Church Office for the same purposes at any time.”

The lawsuit contends an attorney named David Gibbs, retained by First Baptist Church, advised Schaap around November 2007 they should not be offering Sure Line Investments to parishioners “because it could violate Indiana law and the parishioners were largely unsophisticated investors.”

“There are times when individuals may engage in wrongful conduct, but,” he said, “many people want to take that as an opportunity to wrongfully criticize the church.”

According to federal prosecutors, Kimmel sold investments in Sure Line Acceptance Corp. in churches across the country. The federal indictment against Kimmel characterized the corporation as a Ponzi scheme where investors were paid their interest from new investor money.

The lawsuit seeks to recover approximately $225,000 in losses supposedly incurred by the Elwells and $235,400 incurred by the Baldwins.

According to the lawsuit, by January 2006 Schapp had hired Kimmel to act as an employee of First Baptist Church for the purposes of providing financial advice, debt counseling, budgeting and investment advice for members of the First Baptist Church. Schaap allegedly informed church members during services that Kimmel “was the church’s financial adviser with offices on church premises and was available to members of the church for financial advice.”

The lawsuit states that Kimmel also “represented to parishioners” he had invested $450,000 of his own money in Sure Line and First Baptist Church of Hammond and Schaap had invested $1 million in the corporation.

According to the lawsuit, First Baptist Church and Schapp (sic) could “have terminated Kimmel’s ability to provide financial services to parishioners, solicit the Sure Line Investments, and the right to use First Baptist Church Office for the same purposes at any time.”

The lawsuit contends an attorney named David Gibbs, retained by First Baptist Church, advised Schaap around November 2007 they should not be offering Sure Line Investments to parishioners “because it could violate Indiana law and the parishioners were largely unsophisticated investors.”

While Jack Schaap supporters — yes, he still has them — will place all the blame on Kimmel, those of us who understand how First Baptist Church operates know that the authoritarian Schaap had full knowledge of what Kimmel was doing. Schaap and Kimmel used trusting congregants as a means to amass wealth. In Schaap’s case, not only did he sexually prey on a trusting church teenager, he also financially preyed on numerous church families. And if it is true that Schaap indeed had $1 million invested in Sureline Acceptance Corporation, perhaps someone should be asking where this money came from.

The financial aspects of the lives of former pastors Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap and First Baptist Church have never been investigated. Those of us who spent years in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) have heard countless stories about the largess of Hyles and Schaap. While these anecdotal stories make for wonderful sermon illustrations, few bother to question their veracity. Defenders of Hyles’ empire would have people believe that Hyles and Schaap were selfless servants of the most high God. My gut tells me that these men are really far different from the persona presented to the thousands of people who called them pastor. To those who would suggest that Kimmel’s and Schaap’s investment scheme had nothing to do with Jack Hyles, I say this: Jack Hyles conditioned generations of congregants to accept without question his “leadership.” Hyles’ son-in-law Schaap followed in his father-in-law’s authoritarian footsteps. Both men were megalomaniacs who — in the name of God — abused, misused, and took advantage of countless church members. Until First Baptist congregants are able to see this, they will continue to be easy prey for so called “men of God.”

Note

Story on Thomas Kimmel’s conviction and sentencing.

Class action lawsuit filed against First Baptist.

 

Don’t Quit

dont quit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I heard Jack Hyles many times implore preachers to never, ever quit. Dr. Tom Malone, chancellor of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist college I attended in the 1970s, frequently reminded students that God never blesses quitters. Students who dropped out of school were labeled quitters — men who would never, ever be blessed by God. When my wife and I left Midwestern Baptist College before graduating, a friends of ours told us, “You will never amount to anything for God. God doesn’t use quitters.” Polly and I went on to spend 25 years in the ministry. Our friend? He graduated, but never spent one day in the ministry.

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

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

I have learned that it okay to give in and give up. Realists understand the lay of life’s topography and refuse to let the demands of wishful thinking cause unnecessary physical and psychological pain. I know first-hand how hard it can be to quit doing things. Chronic pain and illness have forced me to quit doing a number of things. DON’T QUIT still taunts me, but I no longer let it force me to do things I can no longer do.

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

I know I am losing the battle against pain, illness, and time. I wonder, what more will I have to quit doing?  I have given up so much, yet my body cares not. It continues to demand that I quit, quit, quit until nothing is left. I continue to fight, holding onto the few things I can still do (safely and skillfully). I know, thanks to osteoarthritis, that there will likely come a day when I can no longer write. Even now, my hands, arms, and shoulders scream in pain as I type this post. I ignore the screams, but I do know that someday I will be forced to give up. I know that the ravages of arthritis and fibromyalgia will one day force me to use a wheelchair all the time. For now, I push back — often stupidly so — refusing to admit that I am a broken-down cripple. When I ponder ending my life, I hear the voices of the preachers of my youth, DON’T QUIT. These words remind me that there is still life to be lived. Will DON’T QUIT carry me to finish line? I don’t know. All I know to do is to take each day as it comes. The Bible is right when it says, Boast not thyself of tomorrow. Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Does IFB Preacher Bob Gray, Sr. Have Dementia?

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

Bob Gray, Sr., retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple (LBT), Longview, Texas, is widely viewed as an arrogant, stubborn megalomaniac.  Much like numerous other Independent Fundamentalist Baptist IFB) preachers, Gray’s ministry approach is simple: my way or the highway. While Gray, Sr. is now retired, having handed the keys of the kingdom to his son Bob Gray II, he continues preach conferences and write articles for his blog, Solve Church Problems, and other IFB websites. Now 70, Gray is proud of the fact that he has never wavered or changed his beliefs. The truncated, bankrupt gospel taught to him decades ago by Jack Hyles is the same gospel Gray preaches today. Subscribing to what I call the 4 W’s: win them, wet them, work them, and waste them, Gray has churned through thousands of converts building his kingdom on earth. (Please see One, Two, Three Repeat After Me: Salvation Bob Gray Style) Those drawn into Gray’s pernicious form of Baptist Fundamentalism are sure to find themselves battered, bruised, and assaulted as Gray preaches to them what he thinks is old-time, Just-like-Jesus-preached, Christianity.

Knowing these things about Gray, I was puzzled when I read his latest blog post. Titled, The Danger of Being a Bitter and Cranky Old Man, Gray gives seven things he does to keep from being a bitter, cranky old man. I thought, does Gray have dementia? Here’s what he had to say:

1. Preach often about the love and grace of God. If you go back and listen to the sermons Dr. Hyles preached in the last years of his life you will find that he often preached about God’s goodness and God’s love. He made certain that his preaching did not reflect just a fighter’s mentality, but that it reflected a heart of tenderness and love as well. He didn’t lose his fight, but he didn’t lose his sweetness either.

2. Keep helping people. Dr. Hyles has seen what betrayal can do to men. He chose to ignore the betrayal of people who he had helped and just keep helping more people. Someone once asked Dr. Hyles, “What do you do when your personal converts have turned against you?” He answered, “I just get more converts.” What a great answer.  I have converts who have turned against me. But, I have new converts who I won to Christ this past week. Rather than dwelling on the pain of those who have turned on me, I dwell on the joy of those who recently turned to Christ.

3. Don’t take every battle personally. This is important. Dr. Hyles did not allow himself to be the issue even though others often tried to make him the issue. He even tried to stop those of us who loved him from making him the issue. He said, “The issue is the issue. People want to make me the issue because they can’t argue the real issue.” When you allow yourself to be the issue you are dangerously close to becoming bitter and angry.

4. Remember the things that made you sweet before. I love to go back and reflect on the good things. I love to rejoice in what Christ did for me in times when I most desperately needed him. Oh the joy of returning to the places where God did something special in my life.

5. Stay sentimental. I once heard someone say, “Dr. Hyles thank you so much for taking us back to visit the places that were sacred to you.” Dr. Hyles replied, “Thank you for accompanying me to those places. I don’t go just for you to see them. I go to remember what God did for me there.” Sentimentality in moderation can keep you from becoming bitter.

6. Don’t stop needing God. Dr. Hyles once said, “I’m glad that I don’t have a bunch of millionaires who supplement or subsidize my ministry.” He said, “I have friends who have given a lot of money, but I have always rerouted most of that money to others. I never want to be in a place where I don’t need God because I have someone else who is taking care of all my needs.  I want to stay needy because if I stay needy I get to rejoice in God providing. If you’ve ever been poor you know how wonderful it is when something comes that you weren’t expecting and desperately needed. I don’t ever want to lose that feeling. What a great truth. I love it that I still desperately need God in my life.

7. Stay in the book. The Bible is not just a manual for sermons we as preachers can easily begin to think. The Bible is the precious love letter from our Heavenly Father about his precious son. Stay in love with the word of God. May it never become merely your manual for ministry but always be a personal way to know your God better.

After reading these points, I thought, where was THIS version of Bob Gray, Sr. when he was pastoring the Longview Baptist Temple? Ask former members if Gray spent the bulk of his time preaching the love, goodness, and grace of God. Ask them if Gray had a heart of tenderness and love. Ask them how Gray responded when they voiced their disagreements. Ask them if Gray ignored personal slights. Ask them how Gray reacted to those who refused to bow before him and grant him autocratic power over their lives. Ask them what Gray did when people challenged his “pastoral authority.”

Gray concludes his post with this:

I get a little cranky at times. Sometimes I even get mean and angry. I would like to think that most of the time it’s on purpose, but I want to work at making certain that in my heart I’m still filled with God’s love and grace. I don’t want to be that bitter and cranky old preacher that Dr. Hyles feared becoming.

Buried in this paragraph is the real Bob Gray: a man who thinks that getting mean and angry has its place. And Gray is clear. When he is mean and angry, you know when he is assaulting church members with his rules-driven, Puritanical, cult-like demands, he is behaving this way on purpose. As with Jack Hyles and countless other Hitler-like preachers, Bob Gray, Sr. has no tolerance for those who dare to march to the beat of a different drum. When crossed, Gray can, and does, turn into a venomous viper, capable of killing others with his words. (Please see IFB Pastor Bob Gray, Sr. Shows His True Colors)

Several weeks ago, Gray wrote a post titled, Pastor, is it Possible That You are Abusing Your People?  Gray wrote:

 There is much talk especially on the Internet about pastoral abuse. Unfortunately much of this talk comes from disgruntled church members seeking to justify their leaving the church. Certainly there are cases of pastoral abuse, but in this day and age anything people feel infringes upon them personally is deemed as being

There is far too much being called pastoral abuse, which is nothing more than strong leadership. It is much like parental abuse. What my parents did in raising me would be called abuse today.

I am not justifying any kind of real abuse, but unfortunately the word abuse has been broadened in its meaning beyond reasonability. That said it is possible that sometimes a pastor could inadvertently be guilty of abusing his people.

As you can see, in Gray’s version of the world, mentally and emotionally abusing and manipulating church members is just “strong leadership.” Those who have, over the years, complained about Gray’s abusive behavior are “disgruntled church members seeking to justify their leaving the church.” Just remember, rule number one in the IFB Pastor’s Manual states: Always blame others. Gray has spent his 44 years in the ministry blaming sin, worldliness, liberalism, and compromise for the steady stream of people exiting the back door of the Longview Baptist Temple. Perhaps it is time for Dr. not really a Dr. Gray to take a hard look at his own life  (Please see IFB Doctorates: Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Everyone’s a Doctor) and stop blaming others.

Those who worship at Gray’s feet will likely say I am dead wrong about their demigod. Like the Texas blind salamander and the followers of Jack Hyles, Gray’s devotees refuse to see the man for who and what he is. There’s little I can do to bring such people to the light. I am friends with several people who, at one time, attended Gray’s church and Bible college. I have also corresponded with current and former LBT members. Yes, current members. These are members who dare not voice their disapproval of Gray, Sr. and his son’s fawning over the Hyles family. When the Grays and LBT one Sunday gave serial adulterer David Hyles a warm welcome, these devoted followers were shocked. Evidently, crossing Gray, Sr. will result in a lifetime ban from LBT. Fucking your way across America and committing numerous felonies? Welcome home, Brother Hyles. (Please see Serial Adulterer David Hyles Receives a Warm Longview Baptist Temple Welcome and UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been Restored)

Other posts about the erstwhile king of Longview, Texas, Bob Gray, Sr.

Pastor Bob Gray, Sr. Pines for the 1950s

IFB Preacher Bob Gray, Sr. Says “Buy My Book if You Really Care About Souls”

Bob Gray, Sr. Peddles Lie About New American Standard Bible

Lest You Forget Why You Ran Screaming from the IFB Church

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

jack hyles 1973

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.