Tag Archive: Jack Schaap

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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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.

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

 

The gods Have Clay Feet: A Few Thoughts About Pastors

pastors gods with feet of clay

The Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian church has many gods. While they will profess to worship the true and living God, the God of the Bible, often their true object of worship is human and not divine. Most Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian churches have a congregational form of church government. Some churches have adopted an elder rule form of government. Regardless of what form of government a church adopts, there can be no doubt about who really runs the church. The CEO, the boss man, the head honcho is the pastor, also known as  the senior pastor, executive pastor, and prophet, priest and king.

The pastor is the hub upon which the wheel of the church turns. He (there are very few she’s) is the man who runs the show. He sets the course for the church. He is a modern-day Moses leading the church to the Promised Land. He is the visionary with a vision that the church is expected to follow. He is, after all, the man of God. He is divinely called by God, a call that can not be explained with human words. He is the man of God, given a message by God, to speak to the people of God.

He is a man not to be trifled with. He has been anointed by God. He has been set apart by God to do the most important work in the world.  His calling is higher than even the President of  the United States. The congregation is reminded that the Bible says “touch not mine anointed.” They are also told the story about the Elisha, the mocking boys, and the bears:

And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 2 Kings 2:23, 24

You have been warned, says God’s man. Say anything negative about the pastor and you run the risk of bears eating you; or cancer, heart attack, accident, or death.

The pastor is the Lone Ranger’s Tonto. He is the Green Hornet’s Bruce. He is Batman’s Robin.  God and the pastor are joined at the hip. After all, the pastor has a divine calling; a calling that can’t be explained. In fact, the only way anyone knows for sure a pastor is God-called is because he says he is.

Most Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian churches are independent. Even those who belong to denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention are independent. Each church is a local, autonomous entity, accountable to no one but themselves. The Southern Baptist Convention has a HUGE sex abuse problem, yet little is done by the Convention because each church governs itself. The convention has no power over churches or pastors, or so they conveniently claim.

Since most Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian churches are independent, there are few standards or requirements for starting a church. Anyone can start a church. Anyone can claim to be a pastor. Anyone, Anyone, Anyone. In most states, there are no legal requirements for starting a church. The Federal government, by default, treats churches as exempt from taxation. By default, they receive most of the benefits of 501c3 status without actually applying for it. Starting a church is a con artist’s dream. Just tune into a Christian TV channel for proof of this. There are no educational requirements; no ordination requirements. Anyone can become a pastor. It really is that easy. (Please see What is a Church According to the IRS)

In charismatic/pentecostal circles, some pastors have added titles to their name. Not content to be called pastor, they demand that they be called bishop or apostle. Several apostles have set up shop right here in the county I live in . Once again, a man is an apostle or bishop because he says he is. God has imparted to the man a special anointing, a special dose of Holy G-h-o-s-t power that raises the man to a higher level in the church. Or so he says.

Now let me try to tie all this together. I am writing under the anointing right now, so it is hard to put this all together for you common folks. But  I will try.

We have independent churches with independent pastors without any checks or balances. A man can start a church whenever and wherever. The church becomes his church, the religious equivalent of a corporation. The pastor is considered divinely called by God because he says he is. How dare anyone question GOD! This type of religion flourishes in America. We are a people who applaud the entrepreneurial spirit. Starting a church is akin to starting a business. We worship personalities: entertainers, sports figures, preachers, playmate of the month, etal. We are a lazy people, content to let others think for us.

So what do we have? Churches operated by entrepreneurial pastors. These churches are often filled with people who love to worship personalities, and in this case the personality is the pastor. Content to let the pastor think for them, run the show, and speak to them on God’s  behalf, many Christians have surrendered their autonomy for a seat at the feet of the most awesome pastor in town.

The pastor becomes god. He is given so much control and power that it is almost impossible to unseat the god when the church finds out the pastor has feet of clay. I said almost… Daily news reports of pastors committing crimes, seducing church members, sexually abusing children, and stealing money are too common to be just aberrations.  I could write for hours about pastors I know who have a scandalous past, yet they are still pastors. They just moved down the road and started a new church or they stood their ground and ran off their accusers.

In the 1980’s Jack Hyles, at the time pastor of the largest church in the United States, was accused of sexual improprieties with a married woman in his church. The evidence against him was overwhelming. Yet, he successfully withstood his accusers, and when he died two decades later he was still pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. The church that Jack built lost thousands of members, but he remained god until he went the way of all human gods.

Jack Hyles’ son David was also accused of sexual improprieties. He left the church and moved on to another church in Texas, a church his father previously pastored, Not one word of his past peccadilloes was shared with the new church. David Hyles continued his sexual exploits and  conquests. He had sex with women in the church and was only exposed after compromising photos were accidentally found by someone in the church.

After Jack Hyles died, his son-in-law, Jack Schaap became the Pastor CEO of  Hyles Industries. Like his father-in-law and brother-in-law, Schaap had a problem with fidelity. Schaap was accused of having sex with a church teenager. He was later convicted and is now serving a twelve-year sentence in a federal penitentiary.

Aberration? Hardly. In many churches, the pastor has incredible power. They become gods. The pastor does the preaching, does the counseling, and is the chairman of  the board. Everything goes through him. In some churches, the pastor even checks the tithing records to see who is giving and how much they are giving. One pastor was told by the Church treasurer that the many of the Christian school teachers were not tithing. The next Sunday he berated the teachers and told them that he was going to have their tithe taken out as a payroll deduction if they didn’t start tithing. Never mind the fact the church paid the teachers poverty wages, and if they tithed they would be well BELOW the poverty line.

One pastor decided one Sunday to preach against the evils of attending the Prom. When it came time to preach, he instructed the ushers to lock the doors so no one could leave. Everyone was going to hear what he had to say. This same pastor had the deacons secretly follow church members to see what they were up to. Young couples considering having children were encouraged (required?) to counsel with the pastor first before engaging in procreation.

One pastor had a portrait of he and his wife hung over the water fountain in the church foyer. He joked “that way every time someone  gets a drink they have to bow to me.”Funny? Not when you consider the horrific mental and emotional damage caused by these megalomaniacs.

Children who grow up in Fundamentalist/Evangelical churches are conditioned to accept that the pastor is the final authority. Even in matters of faith, the Bible is not the final authority, the pastor’s interpretation of the Bible is. The church believes whatever the pastor says the church believes. If he started the church, he likely wrote the church’s doctrinal statement, constitution, and bylaws.  He determines what is truth and what is error. Remember he is God called; God speaks through him.

It should come as no surprise then that some men aspire to be pastors for reasons other than serving others. It’s the perfect job. No one to answer to but God, and he seems to never have anything to say. Conscientious, faithful men do a wonderful work and serve the church, however, far too many men are corrupted by the power they are given. Some men have ulterior motives and the pastorate becomes a safe place to hide. I know of men who had irregularities in their past and the pastorate allowed them to keep from being held accountable for their past deeds.

One pastor had no social security number. He had not filed an income tax return in years. His church paid him in cash. When the IRS changed reporting requirements, requiring evangelists and special speakers to be given 1099’s if paid over a certain amount, some churches began giving evangelists and special speakers (pastors) cash offerings. Many a pastor has received a brown-bag offering.

Pastors have incredible, and quite legal,  ways to avoid income tax. Some incorporate as a charity or a ministry. The ministry has a “board” that is made up of the pastor’s family or friends  By incorporating they avail themselves to the tax benefits that corporations receive. Pastors buy cars, trucks, travel trailers, and houses and put them in the church’s name. They receive a tax-free housing allowance. Many pastors have little taxable income. even though they live quite comfortably, It is a great gig if you can get it.

One day, the inevitable happens.The pastor, the god, falls from his exalted throne. Over time, people become disillusioned with the pastor. They  take issue with his preaching, his vision, his wife, his children, his theology, his suit, his hairstyle, his entertainments, etc. People tire of pastors just like they do the other gods they worship. Perhaps he commits a grievous sin. He has an affair,steals money from the church, or embraces a teaching that the power brokers in the church consider heresy; heresy being anything they disagree with.

All of a sudden, the church remembers that IT has power. They remember they can take down their god and vote him out of the church. And so they do… The god may fight to keep his power, to keep his throne, but most often he negotiates a settlement package, the conditions of surrender,  and moves on to another church. The church promises to never let another pastor have the power that he had.

But then a new god comes to the church. A new vision, a new inside track with God. He is a wonderful preacher. His wife and kids are adorable. He is given the reins of the church and once again the pastor is restored to his throne. And so it goes…

In no way do I wish to disparage good men and women who conscientiously serve their churches; people who sacrifice and work selflessly day in day out. But they, most of all, should know that what I write is true. The American Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian church is overrun with power-hungry, ambitious  men who have an eye on their own kingdom and not God’s. They are the god of the church, not the God they preach about.  Sadly it seems, in many cases, this is exactly what the church wants.

While I no longer believe in the Christian God, I  did spend 50 years in the church. For many of those years, I was on the inside, knowing its secrets, knowing who did what and where the bodies are buried. I know whereof I speak.  I know what I have seen and what I have done myself in the name of God. I know too much and I have seen too much for it to be anecdotal or coincidental.

I am not sure I have any answers. We can’t look to the structured denominational churches for answers.  They too have their power-hungry gods. They too have  scandals, as is clear for all to see with the scandal ridden Catholic church. It is hard not to at least question whether the Christian church is hopelessly corrupt. Regardless of the good men and women who serve selflessly, perhaps the church is irreparably broken.

Some people, realizing this, start new movements,but, over time, they most often become just like that what they opposed and despised. They organize, men gain power, and over time there are new gods to worship. Perhaps the best we can hope for is individuals who take the ethical and moral teachings of Christ seriously and live accordingly. They steer clear of organized religion. They seek no place of power or authority. They seek only to love God and love their neighbor.

I am convinced that Jesus, real or not, has been lost in the mire and corruption of the modern Christian church. I have little confidence that he can be found. He has been swallowed by a Leviathan called Christianity, and if Jesus appeared today he would most likely be nailed to a cross by those who say they worship him.

Pastor Bob Gray Sr. Pines for the 1950s

woman wearing jeans

Last year, Bob Gray Sr., retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple in Longview, Texas, took to his blog pulpit to whine and complain about church women no longer obeying Deuteronomy 22:5:

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.

That’s right, Brother Bob is upset about Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church women wearing pants. Of all the things a pastor could or should be worried about, Gray is concerned about women wearing what he perceives to be men’s clothing. Gray writes:

… Did we somehow become lost and confused as to what the issue was really about? Does it really not matter if men dress differently than women and women than men? Is it really important that there be a distinctiveness between masculinity and femininity? The issue wasn’t as much about pants as it was principle. He was looking at a much bigger picture than most. Perhaps we saw the issue to vaguely. Perhaps we missed the point entirely.

Many men who once agreed on the issue of pants have now changed their position. Perhaps the position was too small or too narrow in the first place. Perhaps pants in and of themselves was not the issue. Perhaps the real issue was the matter of the distinctiveness between the attire of men and women. Pants gave us a focal point for the real issue, which was that men ought to dress like men and women like women.

Has that changed? Does it matter? Should we care if boys dress like girls? Should it matter to us if girls dress like boys? Is it really relevant? There has always been a focal issue that rallied us behind a principle. Long hair on men rallied us against rebellion, which was the bigger issue. Pants was the focal point for the principle of women not dressing like men. Yet when it comes to the issue of women wearing pants we seem to have missed the point. What is the point? The point is the Bible principle.

What is the Bible principle? The principle is that men should dress like men and women should dress like women. Has that changed or is the Bible still true? Should men wear clothing that pertains to a woman? Should women wear clothing that pertains to a man?…

… Distinction was brought to a higher level in the New Testament. (I Timothy 2:9) Deuteronomy 22:5 has been elevated to “modest” clothing.  No skinny jeans here! The Bible principle is for today.

So, if the principle is still true why are we criticizing those who took a stand regarding women wearing pants? I for one must allow others to disagree on the issue, but I’m concerned when they ignore the importance of the Bible principle upon which we built that position. If we lose the principle then we lose the purity of the Scripture.

If we begin to criticize those who took a stand then we should be explaining how we then are carrying out that principle. What should women wear that which a man shouldn’t? What should men wear that women shouldn’t? Does it matter? It has to because it is covered in his word…

… What is the distinction? If you tell me my position is wrong then simply explain to me what the distinction is that you are making between the attire of men and the attire of women. I’ll be satisfied with that.

If you’re going to criticize me because I have put some kind of distinction into the principle then tell me what your distinction is based upon that same principle. Whether Deuteronomy 22:5 means pants on women or not it must mean something? What does it mean? Explain it…

…Let’s face it the breaking down between the sexes has taken place. We no longer have the distinctions we once had between men and women including the way they dress. Dr. Hyles and others warned us of this danger more than they warned us of women wearing pants. He warned us of the danger of losing the distinction between the sexes. Pants was a symptom of the issue, but many have turned this against those who warned of the true danger….

…Tell me pastor what should women wear, or does it matter? What should men wear? Does it matter? This is not legalism. This is applying principles to our lives. There’s a legitimate reason that we took the positions we took. I’m saddened by the condition of our country, but I am not surprised. Same sex marriage is a result of the casual way we have dealt with issues in our country and even in many churches…

… So, now I put the responsibility back on your shoulders. Tell us what to do? If there’s no problem then there’s nothing to worry about, but I think we all know there is a problem. Dr. Hyles was right. The unisex movement is a satanic pursuit to blur the lines between the roles and identity of men and women. How do we fix it? What’s the standard going to be? Is there going to be no standard? I think it’s time to give it a second thought.

If the pastor’s wife has no distinction in her dress, then no wonder the pastor has lock-jaw and is like the Ant-Artica and frozen at the mouth.  This makes it difficult to lead a local church let alone a movement…

That’s right, women wearing pants is a “satanic pursuit to blur the lines between the roles and identity of men and women.” Perhaps these slutty, pants wearing Baptist women need to channel Flip Wilson and say, The devil made me do it.

Gray considers himself an old-fashioned IFB preacher.  Old-fashioned for Brother Bob is the 1950’s:

 Then I go into some of our churches and find myself wondering who is standing for the Bible principle of distinction in God’s house.  The decline of American morality is reflected in our distinction.  The decline of our churches is also reflected in our dress distinction.  50 years ago it was not so in public and for sure it was not so in our churches.

The Mrs. Cleaver look was in almost every home in 1950’s.   Not so in either the home or the house of God, in a lot of cases, in this new Millennium.  If God wanted a distinction in the Old Testament how much more does He desire it in the New Testament.

You see, preachers like Gray pine for the 1950s; the time before the free love and rock & roll generation. He yearns for the days when women were housewives, homosexuals stayed in the closet, and birth control was illegal. He yearns for the days before the Civil Rights Act, Gun Control Act, and the EPA. He yearns for the racist days of his youth, a time when there was order and everyone knew their place.

I feel sad for preachers like Gray. They have spent a lifetime preaching on frivolous issues like pants on women, short skirts, long hair, rock & roll, contemporary Christian music, and premarital sex. (see An Independent Baptist Hate List)  The narrowness of their preaching makes it impossible for them to back up. To do so would be considered compromise, a sure career killer in the IFB church. So, they remain in their little box, unable to join the world that past them by decades ago,

Gray, without realizing it, revealed what the REAL reason is for all the preaching against pants and short skirts on women:

If you are an honest person you will have to admit that females in public have taken the half off sale seriously. Hip hugging skinny jeans revealing mid riffs. I travel every week of the world around this great nation of ours. It is embarrassing for a man who is doing the best he can to keep his heart right with all of the female flesh on display.

Thanks to four generations of Puritanical preaching and rules, IFB men have been turned into pathetic weaklings unable to handle their own sexuality. They’ve been told their entire life that women are Jezebel’s, seductresses out to lure them into the bed of fornication.  They’ve been taught that the reason they give into their weakness and have lustful thoughts is because women refuse to cover up their flesh. If only women would stop wearing pants, short skirts, and halter tops, and stop wearing clothing that accentuates the female shape, why horn dog IFB teenagers and men would not have a problem with lust. As any woman knows, having attended an IFB church, women are the gatekeeper. If they fail in their job and men lust after them, it is the woman’s fault.

This kind of thinking is as old as Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis. When God confronted Adam about eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam replied:

The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

Adam, like countless IFB preachers, blamed the woman.

What Bob Gray and other IFB preachers have done is turn out generations of men unable to handle their own sexuality. The slightest bit of female flesh brings a rise in their pants and soon their thoughts turn to banging Sister Sue in the church pew. When Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond , Indiana,  was arrested and convicted for having sex with a minor in his church, many IFB preachers blamed the girl. In the post The IFB River Called Denial, I wrote about what one IFB loving woman had to say about the slut that took down Jack Schaap. Here’s what she said:

So…what about the teenage girl? How hot was she? How hard did she pursue him? We all know young girls flaunt everything these days to get what they want. a rise from any man they can. especially one in the limelight (our a uniform!) They don’t care if he’s married our not, or if he’s her best friends dad. it’s really sad.young girls are a whoring in our churches.

You men and women be careful. She is closer than we think. the world is full of young sluts stealing our husbands and sons! Praying for Cindy!

You see, even the women in IFB churches make excuses for the lustful behavior of men and teenage boys. These church-going, Jesus loving sluts are out to steal their husbands and sons. It’s their fault, right? If they just dressed like the women on Little House on the Prairie, all would be well.

It should come as no surprise that the IFB church has a big problem with sexual abuse and misconduct. These poor men can’t help themselves. Instead of teaching them how to responsibly handle their sexuality, they are taught that lustful, carnal thoughts and behaviors are not their fault. If the pastor ends up having sex with his secretary on his office floor, it is the secretaries fault. I knew of one pastor who would, for years, send out the bus workers on visitation, and then he and his secretary would use that time to have sex in his office. When the truth came out, you know who was to blame? The secretary.

Every man must be accountable for his own sexuality. Teenage boys should be taught sexual responsibility. They should also be taught that it is OK to have physical contact with the opposite sex. (see Thou Shalt Not Touch: The Six Inch Rule)  They need to be taught that desiring a woman is normal, as is sexual arousal.  Exposure to normal heterosexual feelings and desires will do wonders for the teenage boys of the church. Instead of repressing these feelings and desires, they should learn to act on them ethically and responsibly.

IFB preachers like Gray  take viral teenage boys and turn them into eunuchs. Don’t look, don’t touch, don’t masturbate, don’t look at scantily clad women on the TV or internet. These boys are treated like toddlers and they grow up to be infantile men.

By his own admission, Gray has a problem keeping his thoughts pure. Whose to blame for this? Women. Instead of accepting responsibility for his lustful thoughts, he blames scantily clad women. Gray’s an old man now, surely he can contain himself when he see an attractive young woman? Evidently not.

Once I left Evangelicalism and its Puritanical, oppressive, against human nature, sexuality, I no longer feared what looking at an attractive woman might do to me. I can now enjoy the beauty without turning into the beast. As my wife has told me many times, you can look, but don’t touch. I am confident that I can handle my sexuality and I know many of the men who read this blog would say the same. Once freed from the infantile, emasculating rules of the IFB church, we are now free to be the sexual beings we are meant to me.

The IFB River Called Denial

cindy and jack schaap 30 years of marriage

updated, corrected

A couple of years ago, pastor Jack Schaap was fired over a sexual relationship he had with a sixteen year old teenager. The girl was in the church’s Christian school and Schaap was “counseling” her.  Schaap was later arrested and convicted and is now serving a 12 year sentence in a federal penitentiary. (you can read the texts, letters, and cards Schaap sent to this girl here)

Several decades ago, Jack Schaap’s father-in-law, Jack Hyles, was accused of having an affair with his secretary. The evidence for his affair was overwhelming, but the church rejected the evidence and Hyles remained the church’s pastor until his death.

Both men pastored  First Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church in Hammond, Indiana. The church was an American Baptist church until Jack Hyles pulled it out the convention. At one time, the church was the largest church in the world.

jack hyles 1973

Jack Hyles, 1973

Sexual and financial scandals are quite common in the IFB church movement. Pastors have sexual affairs, molest children, surf porn sites, cavort with prostitutes, lie, cheat, and steal. They are, in every way, just like the rest of the human race. Deacons, Sunday school teachers, church bus workers, Christian school workers, and every-day church members are also just like the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. No matter how much they might protest, they know if the curtain was pulled back, it would expose for all to see that IFB pastors, leaders, and members are no different from atheists, Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, Methodists, or Southern Baptists.

They are human beings, capable of doing good or bad things. They are capable of being good, decent, kind, loving people and they are also capable of being evil, unkind, indecent, and unloving. Like all of us, they have the power to choose what kind of person they want to be. No matter what their theology tells them about the depraved, sinful condition of the natural, unregenerate, unsaved human heart, they KNOW they have the power to be whatever kind of person they want to be. They KNOW that there are countless atheists, deists, non-IFB Christians, and Catholics who are good, decent, kind, loving people, all without believing the King James Version of the Bible is the Word of God or believing in the IFB God at all.

The IFB religion, and it IS a sectarian religion no matter how much they protest that it is not, believes the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. IFB churches and pastors are literalists. Most of them are young earth creationists who believe the universe is 6,019 year old.  Most of them believe in the pretribulational, premillennial second coming of Jesus Christ.  They believe that the rapture, the great catching away of every Christian, could happen at any moment. After the rapture comes the Great Tribulation, a seven year period when God pours out his wrath on unbelievers. According to most IFB adherents, after the Great Tribulation, Jesus will return once again to earth, establish his millennial reign, fight a final battle with Satan, judge everyone, and destroy and make a new heaven and earth.

They also believe the miracles in the Bible actually happened and that everything in the Bible is meant to be taken literally unless it is very clear that it is not meant to be taken literally. They have specific, albeit contradictory, hermeneutics for determining this. As Bible literalists, they believe Christians are to live sanctified (set apart for God’s service), godly, holy lives. To ensure this, they have long lists of things they consider sins, sins that no Jesus loving, sin hating, devil chasing, IFB Christian would ever commit.

pastor steven anderson

Steven Anderson pastors Faithful Word Baptist Church, an IFB church in Tempe, Arizona. He believes it is a sin for a man to sit down to pee and for a woman to see a male gynecologist

Every IFB church and pastor has their own l-o-n-g list of things they consider a sin. Besides the “big” sins like adultery, fornication, and homosexuality, IFB churches have rules (standards) about things that many non-IFB Christians might not consider a sin. Things like:

  • Watching TV
  • Listening to secular music or Contemporary Christian music
  • Going to the movies
  • Gambling, playing cards
  • Men and women swimming together
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Cursing or using bywords
  • Women wearing pants or shorts
  • Women wearing anything that reveals their “shape
  • Long hair on men, short hair on women

Over the years, I heard IFB pastors, including myself, say the following things were a sin:

  • Wearing wire rim glasses
  • Having a beard
  • Having a mustache
  • Wearing any clothing with “worldly” advertising
  • Going to stock car races
  • Sending your children to a public school
  • Using any Bible but a King James Bible
  • Not having a Sunday evening or midweek service
  • Not having an altar call
  • Using recorded (canned) music
  • Marrying a non-IFB Christian
  • Going to a non-IFB college
  • Having non-IFB friends
  • Working on Sunday
  • Letting your children play sports on prayer meeting night or Sunday
  • Not giving at least 10% of your money to the church, along with extra offerings for revivals and missions
  • Eating in restaurants that serve alcohol
  • Allowing women to pray while men are present or teach anyone other than women or children

I am sure, by now, you are trying to figure where the heaven I am going with this post. Let me tie it all together.

The IFB church movement prides itself on being “better” than other Christian sects and the “world”. Their literalist belief system, along with their list of sinful behaviors, are the standard every IFB church member is expected to live by. For all their talk about salvation by faith and grace, their religion is all about works, as is every religion, to some degree or the other. They will tell you that a person does not have to do any works in order to be saved, but ask them if a person who refuses to live by the above standards is a Christian and they will likely say, I doubt it.

In the IFB world, “true” Christianity is determined by how well a person adheres to the church’s/pastor’s interpretation of the Bible and whatever list of “standards” they have. Some allowance is given for difference of opinion, but not much. Church members who don’t conform are labeled as worldly, carnal, weak, fleshly, or backslidden.

The moral and ethical standard is high, way too high. Remember what I said earlier about IFB pastors, leaders, and church members being just like the rest of us? Well, this poses a real problem for them. They take the high moral ground, believing they are superior to everyone else, including other Christians.  They consider themselves pillars of moral virtue. But, they are not, and when pastors, leaders, and church members get in trouble, like in the case of Jack Schaap and Jack Hyles, they have a real dilemma on their hands. Their moral and ethical failures expose the bankruptcy of their  claim of superiority. They show that the fundamentalist emperor has no clothes.

The right thing to do would be to admit their failures, confess their “sins,” and come down from Mount “I am Holier than Thou.” Of course doing this would mean that they are just like the rest of us and that ain’t gonna happen.

david hyles greatest men

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

The latest major IFB scandal, courtesy of Jack Schaap and First Baptist Church in Hammond, provides for us an excellent example of  HOW IFB churches handle having their “humanness” exposed.

First, they deny.  When the Schaap scandal first became public, IFB commenters on blogs, news sites, discussion forums, Facebook, and Twitter were quick to deny that Schaap had done anything wrong. The accusations were lies and they were certain that Schaap was completely innocent.

Second, they marginalize. When they could no longer deny the reality of the Schaap scandal, they turned to letting everyone know that Schaap was a “sinner” just like everyone else and, while his “fall” was regrettable, people should not judge the IFB church movement or First Baptist Church negatively. One bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bushel. Actually, it can.

Third, attack the critics. Instead of owning the scandal, many IFB defenders decided to attack those who reported the scandal or wrote negative things about Schaap, Jack Hyles, First Baptist Church, and the IFB.

Across the blogosphere, in discussion forums, in blog comments, and emails, the defenders of the IFB  attempted to ameliorate  the scandal by attacking people like me. They couldn’t dismiss my impeccable IFB credentials so they attacked me personally or they dismissed me out of hand because I am an atheist. Why should anyone listen to what Bruce Gerencser has to say, they write. He’s a God-hater. He’s bitter, angry, and has an axe to grind. Besides, he never was a “real” Christian. They try to discredit the messenger so they won’t have to deal with his/her message. The goal is direct attention away from the facts.

Fourth, if all else fails, attack the victim. Let’s not forget that there is a victim in the Jack Schaap scandal. Schaap’s “sin” was not a victimless one. He had sexual relations with a minor in his church.

Jack Schaap is a 56-year-old man. He is almost my age. The victim was almost young enough to be his granddaughter. As a grown, mature man, he should be in control of his sexual desire. Surely he KNEW it was morally and ethically wrong to have sex with this girl. Schaap had the power to control the relationship he had with this girl. He was the grownup, he was the “man of God,” he was a married man with children, he was the one with everything to lose

If he had overt sexual desire, a need to get laid, he could have sought out the help of a professional, a prostitute. I am sure there are plenty of adult establishments in the Chicago area that Schaap could have went to in order to get his sexual need met. More than a few IFB pastors have availed themselves to the services of a prostitute. But, Schaap did none of these things and now everyone knows

In the sleaziest of attempts to justify Jack Schaap’s behavior, they attacked the girl. One commenter on this blog suggested the girl was a slut, that she seduced Schaap. She wrote:

So…what about the teenage girl? How hot was she? How hard did she pursue him? We all know young girls flaunt everything these days to get what they want. a rise from any man they can. especially one in the limelight (our a uniform!) They don’t care if he’s married our not, or if he’s her best friends dad. it’s really sad.young girls are a whoring in our churches.

I responded:

Bullshit.

It doesn’t matter how hot she was or whether or not she flaunted herself before him.

He is a grown, mature man, a few years younger than me. By now, he should have learned how to deal with temptation and keep his penis in his pants.

It is reported that he was counseling this girl. If this is true, then he abused his power and authority and, here in Ohio, could be held criminally liable.

Whatever the girl’s faults, she is not the problem in this story.

She responded:

You men and women be careful. She is closer than we think. the world is full of young sluts stealing our husbands and sons! Praying for Cindy!

And, I responded:

You mean stealing pathetic, poor Christian men who have been taught they are helpless creatures unable to withstand sexual temptation? How about teaching them to be accountable for their own sexual behavior? They have a choice, do they not? Or are they so weak that the slightest temptation turns them into sexed crazed maniacs who are unable to control their lust?

The only right answer to the Jack Schaap scandal, the Jack Hyles scandal, or any other church scandals, is IMMEDIATE, COMPLETE disclosure. Instead of trying to cover the matter up or trying to make it disappear, churches should show they take these kinds of things seriously. What First Baptist Church in Hammond needed was a Penn State moment. They needed to come to terms with fifty years of cover-ups and denials. The deacons and church membership needed to own their own culpability in Schaap scandal. They are they ones who did nothing about Jack Hyles and his serial-adulterer son David. They are the ones who allowed an abusive, controlling, cultic environment to develop in the church. They are the ones who, like lemmings, sat and listened to Schaap’s preaching, shouting Amen. They are the ones who practiced the Jack Hyles Rule, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.

david gibbs

David Gibbs, Christian Law Association

Instead of having a Penn State moment, First Baptist Church called in attorney David Gibbs, the Ray Donovan fixer of the IFB scandals. Gibbs has fixed and sanitized countless IFB sex scandals. Instead of encouraging churches to come clean, Gibbs helps them minimize fallout and loss. The goal is not restitution or helping the victims. Instead, it is all about protecting the church’s testimony.

David Gibbs’s law firm, the Christian Law Association, advertises itself this way:

The Christian Law Association exists to preserve Christian liberty for your children and grandchildren.

CLA received in excess of 100,000 phone calls annually, not counting the thousands of pieces of correspondence from those who are in some way facing legal difficulties for doing what the Bible commands. These cases involve Christians arrested for witnessing to others in public, public school students being told they do not have the right to read their Bibles at school, churches being excluded from communities, Christians being fired for sharing their faith at work, and thousands of other shocking assaults on our precious religious freedoms. CLA provides free legal services based in part on the generosity of God’s people.

Missing from this description is helping pastors and churches manage scandal and marginalize victims. Missing is their motto: Protect the Church’s Reputation at All Costs! Minimize Financial Payouts so the Church can Continue to Win Souls for Jesus.

This will not be the last scandal in the IFB church movement. Their theology and ecclesiology makes it certain that scandals will continue to happen. IFB  pastors, leaders, and members are human. That they will, despite their theology, do things that are considered bad is a given. The only issue left to decide is HOW they will respond to these bad acts.

jack and beverly hyles statute

Jack and Beverly Hyles statue

The Joe Paterno statues have been pulled down as a public act of contrition, but the Jack Hyles statute remains, a reminder of who it was that built First Baptist Church. One can only hope that public scrutiny will force the IFB church movement to own their “sins” and that dramatic change will be made, resulting in a reduction of  predatory acts against children and teenagers. One can hope, but as of today, it is business as usual in the alternate universe called the IFB church movement.

Cindy Schaap, Daughter of Jack Hyles, Divorces Convicted Felon Jack Schaap

cindy and jack schaap 30 years of marriage

Cover of book written by Cindy Schaap about her wonderful marriage to Jack Schaap. Cindy is the daughter of Jack Hyles.

 

As most of you know, Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana, is serving a 12 year sentence in federal prison for having sexual relations with a minor. (a girl who was a member of the church and Schaap was counseling her)  For more information on Jack Schaap, please read the Chicago Magazine article, Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church. You can also read the letters Schaap sent to his victim here.

As anyone who spent any time in an IFB church can tell you, divorce is forbidden. The thinking goes…God hates divorce and God intends for marriage to be between one man and one woman for life.  While IFB church members do divorce from time to time, it is not a common occurrence.

For months now, rumors have been flying over the marriage of Cindy Schaap and Jack Schaap. Are they still married? Did they get a divorce?  Well, wonder no more, you who are looking for the latest dirt on the Hyles/Schaap crime family. According to a document sent to me today, on May 28, 2014, Cindy Schaap was granted a divorce from Jack Schaap.

 

cindy schaap divorce

cindy schaap divorce pg 2

Let me be clear, I have no problem with Cindy Schaap divorcing her husband. No one should be forced to remain married to someone they no longer want to be married to. Whatever her reasons, it is her decision, end of story. What interests me is how her divorce will be “explained” within the Kingdom of Jack Hyles and the broader IFB church movement.

Later this week, I plan to write a post about marriage and divorce and how IFB churches handle divorce.

What One IFB Apologist Thinks of People Who Claim They Were Abused

if you didn't see it it didn't happen

If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen

When Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana — now a convicted felon — was accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenager in his church, apologists for the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement and the Hyles/Schaap crime family came out in force to defend their own. They told me things like:

  • He is a man of God and he wouldn’t/couldn’t do such a thing
  • The girl was a whore
  • The girl seduced him
  • The girl was “almost” of age
  • If Schaap hadn’t taken her across the State line, the sex would have been consensual

Here are some of the messages that Schaap sent the girl:

From a birthday card

I can’t get you out of my mind. I keep thinking about how much I enjoy talking with you, how great you look when you smile, and how much I like your laugh. I daydream about you off an on all day, replaying pieces of our conversation . . .laughing again about funny things you said or did. I’ve memorized your face and the way you look at me . . . it melts my heart every time I think about it. And I catch myself smiling when I imagine what will happen the next time we’re together. You must be something really special, because I can’t remember the last time I felt so strongly about someone. Even though neither of us knows what the future holds, I know one thing for sure – you’re one of the very best things that’s happened to me in a long time.

From a handwritten letter

Hi [Jane Doe],

Because my time with you is so limited, I find great comfort in writing to you. Certainly it is no substitute for being with you – nothing is – in fact, being with you is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

You have a gift of making me feel more alive and more happy than I have ever felt! THANK YOU! I’ve been doing much thinking about you – our brief journey together has been like a spiritual allegory (a story that illustrates a truth . . .

Your life began to deteriorate w/ actions + activities that were self-destructive + that would have brought great tragedy eventually. Then, as your Pastor, I began to counsel you [unintelligible] you to God, the truth, and to a better path of living – that’s what we call Righteousness. Almost immediately, I felt such a profound tug in my heart for you – an intense desire to pull you away from destructive habits + to pull you into pure love + acceptance. I felt the only hope I had to truly make that difference was to pull you 1st to myself – if I could get you to trust me + open your heart to me. I could not have anticipated or hoped for what happened.

You opened your heart wide to me – you made me more than a Pastor/Rescuer – you made me your friend your confidant, your beloved. You gave me your trust, your heart, your love, + your affection. [Unintelligible] must feel when a sinner makes Him more than a Savior – he/she makes Him a beloved lover + friend. I have never felt so truly loved in my life. It is a feeling that is incomprehensible! (off the charts)In our “fantasy talk,” you have affectionately spoken of being “my wife.” That is exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!

I tried to craftily catch your heart so that I could lead you into a better life. You have caught my heart + I have never felt so loved by anyone! Thank you[Jane Doe]. Thank you for the privilege of helping a struggling teenager. Thank you for opening your heart. Thank you for your trust. Thank you for your love. My hope and prayer is that someday you will comprehend what an impact you have made on your Pastor and friend.

[Jane Doe] you have such a wonderful life ahead of you. I must be careful not to spoil that with any of my selfish fantasy desires. It would be grossly unkind to you for me to hold you captive in any fashion. When we get scared, Jesus sends His spirit to live within us. But He does not personally live with us. He waits until we have fully matured before he takes us to Heaven to live with Him. Yes, there are exceptions, but they are exceedingly so – sorta like [name redacted] (sp?) or a young child dying too young.

I must follow the example of Christ. I have espoused you to Him as a chaste virgin. You are pure + lovely + perfect in His eyes. Now you must mature in His grace until the time he brings you to Himself. Until then, I am here to guide you + help you. [Unintelligible] your heart.

I could only wish you would carry my love for you with you + in you forever. For me to wish for more would only be hurtful to the beautiful life He has planned for you. I will die 10,000 deaths knowing I cannot have you in my life as I would desire. But I would far rather die those deaths than to hurt you in any way by injuring your future.I would gladly do anything for you + I must lay down my life – my desires – for you

I will ALWAYS be here for you [Jane Doe]!! Always And I will carry you in my very soul as a part of me forever. I ‘ve never met anyone like you. Please keep on becoming what you are becoming now. I’ve tried to point you in the right direction. PLEEEAASSE don’t ever go back to what you were when we found each other. That would put my soul in Hell!

I promised you I would do anything to help you – and I have shown you what I mean by that. I still promise you I would do anything TO HELP YOU but I be me let + can you when see to by stop time- time from Text you! hurt would that anything do>part of your life + decision-making. But live your life – the life God has for you. Be 17 + enjoy this great stage of life. I’ll always be watching + always be pulling for you. I will always love you –

FOREVER! Your BFF, Pastor.

From another handwritten letter

Hey Baby, Hope you slept well.

I’m sitting at my table reading the Words that help me through powerful emotions that are surging through me. I miss my Bible Reading partner. It was fun to have our Bible Study yesterday morning. I Have my good music on – “I will trust in You” + the “Power of the Cross.” Good music drives me to the Scriptures to find the strength to go forward when my emotions want me to “freeze” time + go back to yesterday.

No matter how glorious the past, the future is the only direction we can go without dying inside. The past 3 days w/ you were beyond my imagination :! But what I hope you take from this wk. is more than the “magic” we enjoyed but also some better understanding of how incredibly important + special + awesome you are to Jesus! I wanted you to feel + know how much He loves you! I wanted to let some of the hurt + headache – the bad hurt – out of your heart.

This week, [Jane Doe], I tried to climb into your heart and write the graffiti of the Gospel on the walls. I wanted to spray paint in Neon colors that you are Priceless + Precious + are “off the charts” important – yes – to me personally -but especially to OUR Savior Jesus Christ. I’m reading my Bible now to draw a little closer to God – even if it’s a millimeter closer – because if we both get a little closer to Him, we also get closer + stronger + deeper w/ each other.

Every relationship not built around that truth eventually must die – that’s what happened w/ you + J. And that’s why afterwards you pursued “dead” things + “dead”relationships. My passion this week was to show you a living relationship + how to keep it alive! [Jane Doe], however, whenever God takes our love, we never have to[unintelligible] to each other. Keep pursuing Good and we keep living because He is Life!!

I have a special gift for you that I want to give you Sunday if you would stop by my office when you arrive. Also, I really want you to download the App Olive Tree Bible Reader when you get it, I’ll teach you how to use it.These days w/ you are tattooed on my heart + in my mind – Forever!

But these days, also gave me great insight to the profound needs of my teens + young adults. You’ve helped me. Finally, I want to thank YOU for giving me something I was not planning to receive. Through you, I have felt very loved by God. I gave Him my heart when I was 5, I gave Him my life when I was 17. And yes I love Him + know Him +understand much about Him, but, sometimes I just need to “feel” His love in away that only He can provide . . . and this week, through you, I have “felt” His love.

I absolutely cannot thank you enough!! It is obvious to me that God must trust you very much. He gave you the work of caring or ministering to His servant- just as the angel ministered to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemine. Of course,you have been given enormous responsibility. The Scriptures do not tell us what the Angel said, how he arrived or how he left + apparently no one knows to this day – 2000 years later – what happened. That’s a very wise Angel! And so are you, Baby! 1432444!!!!!

From the Sentencing Memorandum of Jack Schaap.

Jack Schaap is not an outlier when it comes to sexual misconduct and abuse in the IFB church. His father-in-law Jack Hyles and his brother-in-law David Hyles preceded him at First Baptist in Hammond. Jack Hyles had a least one inappropriate sexual relationship and David Hyles had dozens.  The list of abusers and predators that were trained by Jack Hyles and Hyles-Anderson College is long. Taken cumulatively, it is hard not to think there is something very wrong in Hammond and  other IFB schools and churches.

bill wininger

Bill Wininger, former pastor of Kingsway Baptist Church

In 2013, Bethany Foeller Leonard alleged that Bill Wininger, pastor of King’s Way Baptist Church, Douglasville, Georgia, molested her 20 years ago when he was the pastor of North Sharon Baptist Church, Grass Lake, Michigan. Several other women came forward and added their voices to the accusation. Due to the statute of limitations, Wininger will never face justice for what he did in Michigan, but Leonard”s accusation did result in his resignation from King’s Way. Last year, in an unrelated case, Wininger was arrested and charged with four counts of misdemeanor battery of a female church member. He will likely receive probation and court ordered counseling.

When Leonard first made her accusation, apologists for Pastor Bill Wininger loudly defended him and said Leonard was lying. Some of you may remember the comments and emails I received when I first wrote about Bill Wininger being outed as a sexual predator.

Apologists for the IFB church movement and Bill Wininger couldn’t call Bethany Foeller Leonard and the other women sluts, whores, home wreckers, or church destroyers. After all, they were little girls, the age my granddaughters are now, when the abuse took place. So, they had to take a different approach when defending the most holy IFB church and  Bill Wininger. They attempted to use the time honored if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen defense to silence those of us who aired Bill Wininger’s secret.

Take Jason, a young man who vociferously defended the IFB church movement, King’s Way Baptist Church, and Bill Wininger, even though he said he was not a part of the IFB church movement.  Here is what Jason had to say about the accusations (spelling in the original, emphases mine).

First Comment

Wow. I haven’t heard this much wining in a long time. It’s sad when Christians contribute to the pussifacation of America. I would be ashamed if this is how I had to get 15 mins of fame. When I first saw this I thought this was a joke but then I realized you people are serious. There are consequences that come with attacking a man called by God. Everyone who is pointing a finger needs to realize that no person is blameless. I have not seen one bit of proof that proves any of these theories. My advice… Shut up and worry about your own life and let ALMIGHTY GOD worry about everyone else

Second Comment

The definition of pussifacation is the state in which a society becomes less and less tough. As a whole men and women in America are becoming this way. For example I recently read about a man who’s daughter was allegedly molested. 20 years later he decides to say something about it. To me this man has no backbone whatsoever and has joined many others in the realms of weak and pathetic. Maybe you should talk to ________. She has shown more backbone in here by standing up for herself and the people she loves. My father taught me to be a man. You asked me what if this happened to your daughter. Let me explain that it would never happen to my daughter simply because child molesters target weak people. This is how they get away with what they do. There would be no getting away with anything should this happen to my daughter and justice would not begin 20 years later. IF any of your accusations hold any truth which I doubt considerably then you should get real life smoking gun evidenced and prosecute. Obviously you dont have this or you wouldnt be wasting time here.

Third Comment

Actually I am not in the ifb. I know this crushes your idea of how narrow minded I must be. However I do not see the point of targeting them out specifically or even more so targeting a single church which seems to be what is happening here. Cassandra the point is that without physical evidence of child molestation BW is innocent of this accusation. Without physical evidence of rape BW is innocent of this accusation as well which means that IF another woman was involved it was consensual.

Bruce how else would a woman excuse a relationship with a married man but pawn it off as “molestation”? In this day and age nothing is personal cultural suicide. You give me the evidence that supports these accusations and I will have concern for these alleged victims. Until then I will support innocence until proven guilty by a court of law. I will not take your moth to the flame approach just because someone made an accusation. Didn’t you say “After all, the lies told about a person always make for better news than the truth”? Sounds to me like you have your own koolaid for people to drink. I stand by my words. A year from now they will not be foolish nor will they 10 years from now. You dont want to hear what I have to say because you cant combat it. You deflect everything like you have no idea what to say. Its obvious that you have no idea what to do about my voice so you dismiss me. Sorry to ruin your pity party but there are 2 sides to every story. Here is a thought for you. Instead of blasting away at a man or a church or an entire religion why not open a thread that actually helps people who are truly victims? If your intentions are pure it would not matter what religion or church or person it happened with. Not all victims are from a church or a specific religion. You may even sound like you really care about them instead of sounding like a bitter ex-church member who is using this to harp on the ifb.

Let the words of the greatest preacher since the Apostle Paul, the late Jack Hyles, state the official IFB position on abuse:

fake church sign first baptist

If you have not read the post If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen, I encourage you to do so.

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UPDATED: IFB Pastor Bill Wininger Outed as Sexual Predator

bill wininger

Bill Wininger, former pastor of King’s Way Baptist Church in Douglasville, Georgia

Shelly Foeller, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) mother, tells the horrifying story of her daughter who was sexually abused by Bill Wininger, then pastor of North Sharon Baptist Church:

If you will bear with me, I’d like to tell you a story. It is a true story of a little girl with incredible blue eyes. The church her family attended voted in a new pastor the same year she was born. Her family was very excited about this new pastor, and the little girl became very fond of him as well. She was a delightful child—very smart and tender-hearted. At a young age she expressed an interest in the Gospel, and at her mother’s knee, prayed to give her heart to Jesus.

When she was still quite young, unbeknownst to anyone else,something very terrible started to happen. Her pastor, whom she loved and trusted, began to take advantage of her on numerous occasions, violating her little body in unspeakable ways. Because of her tender age, she did not understand this at all. Since her young mind was incapable of processing these terrifying events, the dark memories of these assaults became sealed in the deep recesses of her conscience. Though she did not speak of the things that had occurred, she carried an overwhelming heaviness in her little heart,a pain that she could not put into words…

The pastor moved away, and years later:

Finally she reached the point when she knew the only hope for her survival was to face what was at the bottom of her festering wounds—the truth of what had happened to her as a little girl. Very gradually her memories surfaced, and she bravely, though timidly, started to talk about them. As she recalled details of these life altering events, her mother soon recognized and remembered  specific opportunities for their occurrence.

Over time, as more details were remembered and shared, the pieces of the puzzle began to fit together and make sense.The courageous little girl, who for many years had been unable to tell, had finally found her voice. The silence had ended.This same little girl is now a beautiful young woman, our beloved daughter, Bethany.It didn’t take long for us to learn that there were other young ladies, as well as adult women, who had been victimized by the  same man. All their stories agree together and have a ring of  similarity. The truth is undeniable. The perpetrator, unfortunately,was Pastor Bill Wininger. The time frame was when he was our pastor at North Sharon Baptist Church from 1988 to 1995.

I wish I could say that this heartbreaking story is unusual, but it is not. Just in the last two weeks alone, three women have emailed me about being sexually assaulted as a child or teenager by a deacon or the pastor of the IFB church they attended. Quite frankly, these kinds of things are far too common and every bit as scandalous as the sex scandal of the Catholic church. We should be grateful that, through the internet, women and men can now tell their story of sexual abuse at the hands of men of God.

In classic IFB fashion, Bill Wininger, now pastor of King’s Way Baptist Church, Douglas County, Georgia, has miraculously disappeared from the church’s  website and the website of their Christian School. Jeri Massi at the Blog on the Way writes:

All videos and sermons from him have been removed. The church, following the IFB practice of defiance against the Scripture, is maintaining a curtain of secrecy, even though Paul directly commands that elders who fall into sin are to be rebuked before the entire church. It is not to be a secret. And yes, the goal is to make miscreants afraid of abusing church office.

The good news is, thanks to the internet and those of us who refuse to allow these predators hide, we can hopefully keep them from molesting and harming other children and teens. More and more women and men are coming forward, willing to tell their stories of sexual abuse. Telling their stories takes great courage, because I know the hell that the IFB church movement releases on those who dare tell their secrets.

This is not an issue of Christianity vs. atheism. This is about sexual predators hiding in plain sight in Christian churches. They abuse their way through the church and then move on to another church of prey. They are the lowest of low and they deserve every bit of scorn and ridicule they receive. They also deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Sadly, many avoid prosecution for lack of evidence, or the statute of limitations runs out. Public shaming is often the ONLY recourse their victims have at their disposal.

Several days ago, a friend of mine told me about a recent service at former IFB pastor — now convicted felon — Jack Schaap’s church, First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. It was mentioned during the service that Schaap had led someone to Christ in prison! Praise Jesus. Soon his despicable acts will be forgotten, just like those of his brother-in-law David Hyles and his father-in-law Jack Hyles. In time, we will hear of souls being saved and the life of Jack Schaap being rehabilitated to the glory of God. As I mockingly told my friend, by the time Jack Schaap is out of prison, he will be pastoring the largest prison church in America.

You can read the mother’s entire letter here.

Someone from Sharon Baptist Church sent me the following:

Our current pastor did do something about what Bethany ________ told about Bill Wininger. He went to the Michigan police about it & reported it. The police are the ones who are not doing anything about it.  What would you have the current pastor say to the world about something that happened when he was not there, and didn’t know about until years later? Our church is not covering up for Bill Wininger. We were the ones who turned him in.

I replied to the question, what would you have us say to the world:

I would have them, on their website, say EXACTLY what you said here. Saying nothing is not an option.

All of the churches mentioned in this post are Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, King-James-Only, Separated, Soulwinning churches.

If I remember correctly, there were students from North Sharon Baptist Church when Polly and I attended Midwestern Baptist College in the mid-1970s.

Ironically, Bill Wininger wrote a book while he was pastor of North Sharon Baptist Church.

church falsely accused

Revival Fires, the ministry of Dennis Corle, carries the book. Their website says this about the book:

In a country church two male workers are accused of committing horrible crimes against children while running Sunday school bus routes. What should they do? How should they react in the midst of a county-wide scandal? How does a pastor keep from seeing his ministry, at the least, paralyzed and, at the worst, destroyed? How does he deal with the accused and their accusers?

Pastor Bill Wininger tells the amazing story of a church which experienced just such a traumatic event and amazingly, survived the ordeal with minimal damage done to the church. A Church Falsely Accused is the astonishing story of the North Sharon Baptist Church, a country church whose commitment to Christ and to the lost in its community saw victory through a vicious scandal.

UPDATE: August 2014

In August 2014, Wininger was arrested and charged with four counts of simple battery. AJC.com reports:

A former Douglasville pastor was released from jail Friday after spending a night there on charges of having inappropriate sexual contact with a member of the staff at the church and school that is one of the oldest private Christian academies in Georgia.

Four misdemeanor charges of simple battery against the Rev. Bill Wininger involve one woman on the Kings Way staff and are detailed in the charges brought by the Douglas County solicitor general.

Three counts accuse him of having unwanted physical contact with the woman by “grabbing and hugging” her. The fourth charge was that he made “physical contact of an insulting and provoking nature” when he pressed against her with a part of his body that was aroused. The events detailed in the accusation are alleged to have happened between August 2012 and

Each charge carries a maximum punishment of 12 months in jail.

Wininger was arrested Thursday night and he posted a $10,000 bond Friday afternoon following a brief court appearance. No other court date has been scheduled.

One of the conditions of his release was that he have no contact with members of King’s Way Baptist Church or employees of the school. Wininger must have a psycho-sexual evaluation and receive treatment if necessary…

…“The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office spent the past 10 months investigating this individual,” Solicitor General Matthew Krull said. “It is my job to make sure that everyone in Douglas County is afforded the opportunity to live free of unwanted and unsolicited physical contact.”

Krull said there were other accusers but his office decided to prosecute Wininger just on the allegations of one woman, whom The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is not identifying because of the nature of the charges.

Krull said Friday the investigation did not involve any allegations that Wininger targeted children.

Wininger resigned last October after 15 years at the church when allegations surfaced that he had sexually abused children in Michigan 20 years ago. He was never charged on those allegations…

I found no further reports about Wininger’s case.

I find it interesting that IFB churches and pastors preach against psychology and suggest every human misbehavior is sin, but once they are caught in their own web of sin and face criminal charges, they are quick to seek a psycho-sexual evaluation and treatment. Anything, to keep themselves out of jail. Why not stand on the unshakable ground of the King James Version of the Bible and refuse the evaluation and treatment? Shouldn’t Wininger just pray a David Hyles forgive me Lord prayer® and get back to winning souls for Jesus? Isn’t that the IFB way?

I am grateful that local law enforcement officials took the accusations seriously. Far too often, law enforcement ignores allegations against pastors because they have the naïve notion that clergy are above the fray, immune to the passions of mere mortals. As should be clear to all who are paying attention, countless pastors use their place of power and authority to manipulate and abuse others. Yes, most pastors are decent human beings, but a sizable percentage of them are predators lurking in the shadows waiting to rob people of their faith and trust.

UPDATE: October 9, 2015

According to the Douglas County Sentinel:

A former Douglasville pastor accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with a staff member will be in court Friday when he is expected to enter a plea.

Unfortunately, the story is behind a paywall. Once other news agencies report the story, I will update this post.

UPDATE: October 9, 2015:

A former Douglas County minister was sentenced Friday to two years on probation, resolving accusations that he forced inappropriate contact on a staff member of his church and school.

Rev. Bill Wininger was accused of “grabbing and hugging” one woman at the The King’s Way Baptist Church and King’s Way Christian School, one of the oldest Christian academies in Georgia. He also was accused of “physical contact of an insulting and provoking nature” when he pressed against her with an inappropriate part of his body.

Wininger pleaded no contest to two counts of simple battery.

“This plea brings justice for this victim and hopefully gives her some closure to a horrible series of events that happened in her life,” Douglas County Solicitor General Matthew Krull said in an emailed statement. “The victim gave a voice to all those that have been too afraid to stand up to defendant’s unacceptable behavior. This case was very troubling, to see … a preacher in a position of trust and power, use that position for his own selfish needs.”..

…As part of his probation, Wininger was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service at a location that does not assist women or children…

Update: September 1, 2016

According to the Douglasville Patch:

The King’s Way Baptist Church in Douglasville will pay $25,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of a kindergarten teacher who complained the church’s pastor sexually harassed her.

The independent Baptist church, which operates King’s Way Christian School, also will furnish other relief, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in a news release.

The EEOC filed suit in 2015 on behalf of Marsha Pearson, a kindergarten teacher at the school, who said she was fired after complaining that the pastor, who was also school superintendent, had harassed her.

Former King’s Way pastor The Rev. Bill Wininger was arrested in 2014 on four misdemeanor charges of simple battery against a female employee.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Pearson complained in 2013 that the pastor had been sexually harassing her. Upon reporting the abuse, King’s Way officials “told her that she allowed the harassment to happen to her” and that she was being fired, according to the suit.

The Legacy of Jack Hyles

jack hyles

Jack Hyles, pastor First Baptist Church Hammond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jack hyles 1973

Jack Hyles, 1973

In 1973,  the  church saw attendances exceeding 25,000 people. At the center of this huge church was its pastor, Jack Hyles. In the late 1960s and 1970s, Jack Hyles was, as many of us described, the pope of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church movement. He authored numerous books with titles such as Let’s Go Soul Winning, Let’s Build an Evangelistic Church, Enemies of Soul Winning, The Hyles Church Manual, How to Rear Infants, How to Rear Children, How to Rear Teenagers, Satan’s Bid for Your Child, Marriage is a Commitment, Woman the Completer, and Blue Denim and Lace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack Hyles, Let’s Go Soulwinning

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

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

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

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

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

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

david hyles greatest men

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

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

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

In a post titled The Cult of Personality, I wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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