by Pastor Bobby Mitchell, Mid-Coast Baptist Church, Brunswick, Maine
The autonomy and independence of New Testament churches is plainly taught in the Scriptures. We must be very careful about “meddling” in another church’s business. However, when a pastor and church seeks to start a “movement” that involves thousands of other churches then it is only right to comment on that movement if error, or compromise with error, is being promoted. When such an influence is presented to New Testament churches then New Testament pastors are under holy obligation to speak out about it. Some have asked why I am not involved with the newest Baptist group that is titled Independent Baptist Friends International, and why I felt it necessary to state that I was embarrassed that Mid-Coast Baptist Church was listed on their church directory. I am happy to answer and I thank you for asking. I am not able to give much time to a long and diplomatic response, so please be forgiving of the pointedness of this. I harbor malice towards none of those that I am stating disagreement with. I believe that there is much good that could be said about many involved with the IBFI, but the following are my reasons for not participating.
I do not buy into the philosophy that to obey the Great Commission we must work with those that have the name Independent Baptist and yet preach and practice contrary to Scripture. For instance, Jack Schaap of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, was a featured preacher at the IBFI conference. Pastor Schaap and FBCH (following former pastor Jack Hyles) have, for years, promoted an un-Biblical form of “soul-winning” in which repentance is ignored and true Scriptural faith is replaced with the repetition of a prayer. FBCH’s un-Biblical soul-winning methodology is widely known and documented. It has resulted in much confusion, many lost professors of faith, and the promotion of a weakened Gospel message. Further, Jack Schaap has a perverted and twisted view of the Lord’s Supper that teaches that partaking of the elements is akin to sexual relations. This is taught in his book titled Marriage: The Divine Intimacy. Another example of the un-Biblical practice of FBCH is their refusal to practice New Testament Church Discipline.
Pastor Sexton emphasizes in his magazine, emails, mailings, You-Tube videos, and preaching that we must be friends to accomplish world evangelism. He wants men like me to be friends with men like Schaap. I am reminded of John 15:14 where the Lord Jesus said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” The Lord Jesus commanded that we preach repentance (Luke 24:47) and that we practice church discipline for the purity of the church and the restoration of the sinning church member (Matthew 18:15-17). Jesus’ friends obey Him. My friends for world evangelism (those that I will “partner” with, to use a phrase quoted by the IBFI) should be those that are obedient to the Lord. The fellowship of the church at Jerusalem in Acts 2 was in the Apostles’ doctrine and practice (Acts 2:42). It was not fellowship around non-Apostolic preaching and practice! I encourage Baptists everywhere to hold to sound faith and practice and work with others that hold to the same. But, I cannot engage in cooperation with those who are disobedient to the Lord.
It was very obvious from watching three of the services as they were broadcast live on the internet, and observing all of the video highlights, that the IBFI has a “movement” mentality driving it. I don’t see a movement mentality in the Word of God. Scripture reveals that God’s plan for this age is the local New Testament church doing all that the local New Testament church is to be doing! The Lord has promised that “the gates of hell” will not “prevail” against the church. There is no such guarantee for man-made movements. At the Friends Conference Pastor Sexton and others spoke regularly of the new “movement,” the “inaugural meeting,” and the need to “join,” “partner,” and “register.”
I did not hear one speaker encourage any attendee or webcast listener to seek the counsel of their pastor and church as to whether or not they should get involved with the IBFI. They were simply encouraged to join, give, and cooperate. My understanding is that this infringes on the authority of the local church.
One young preacher who was featured at the conference said, “To get the truth to the whole world we must cooperate and coordinate together. It makes sense and it is practical.” I do want to partner and cooperate with New Testament churches (regarding missions) that are serious about obeying all of Scripture, but I see no instruction in the Bible to work with disobedient people to evangelize. The New Testament reveals cooperation among the early churches, but not through compromise. I will not invest my time and money in a man-made movement. I plan to keep on devoting myself to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ through His church.
The host pastor, Dr. Clarence Sexton, and other featured speakers made it very clear that any criticism of the meeting or movement was not welcome. Instead of appreciating that “iron sharpeneth iron,” which is something a true friend does (Proverbs 17:17), those who questioned the promotion of some of the preachers at the conference were referred to as “presumptuous” and “immature.” One preacher stated that we should “never criticize any man that’s trying to get people saved. It doesn’t matter who they are.” That is foreign to Scripture. Peter, a preacher and follower of the Lord, was sharply rebuked by the Lord Jesus for his un-Scriptural statements (Matthew 16:22,23). Later, the same Apostle was “withstood” by Paul for his wrong practice regarding the Gentiles (Galatians 2:11). Paul even went so far as to write his criticism down for believers all over the world to see!
“It takes no size to criticize” one preacher declared at the IBFI meeting. Of course, that leaves the door wide open for non-militancy that will always result in compromise. The Bible tells us to “try the spirits” and “prove all things.” I also see Jesus, Paul, John, Jude, and others in the Scriptures criticizing as needed. I don’t want a critical spirit, but, as a man of God, I must criticize what is un-Biblical.
By the way, Joel Osteen, Billy Graham, Rick Warren, and others who are promoting an anemic Christianity would all insist that they are trying to “get people saved.” Should we not criticize their errors, even if we could be glad for the little bit of Gospel preaching they do?
One preacher at the IBFI conference lamented that “we are so divided over personalities.” I agree that we should not divide merely over personalities, but personalities are an aspect of men and men have doctrine and practices that must be proven by Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Scripture states that we should not partner with men who preach and practice in an un-Biblical fashion.
Another preacher warned against “disagreement and division about what God has blessed.” Of course, it was implied that the IBFI has been blessed of God since it is so “exciting” and “so many are registering.” Meanwhile, Acts 17:11 still records that it is noble to search the Scriptures to check and see if what the preacher is saying is so. I do not trust any man or movement that refuses to deal Scripturally with criticism. No man, ministry, or movement is above 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
HE SAID WHAT?
At least three of the messages that I listened to via the live webcast involved misuse of Scripture. One man preached from Acts 15 and compared that meeting of two churches (Jerusalem and Antioch) to independent Baptists around the world needing to work together. He said that he had learned that he’d “better set aside my opinions, what I think we should be doing . . . and let’s do what seems good to the Holy Ghost.” In actuality Acts 15 is about two churches that believed and practiced the same and when a disagreement came up it was dealt with and they went away committed to total agreement as to the doctrine and practice concerning that particular item of business. To compare that to some “need” of independent Baptists agreeing to work together in spite of real disagreements over doctrine and practice is not true to the text. At any rate, obeying all of the Bible commands, including the command to warn and separate from erring brethren, will “seem good to the Holy Ghost” since He has given us His mind on the matter!
Another message involved the divisions in the church at Corinth over Peter, Paul, and Apollos. Once again a comparison was made to modern independent Baptists. Of course, Corinth was a local church, not an international group of Christians or churches. Paul, Peter, and Apollos all believed, preached, and practiced the same. They were not experiencing disunity over different practices and doctrine. It was disingenuous for that preacher to insist that independent Baptists should ignore the un-Biblical preaching and activities of some in the “movement” while attempting to utilize 1 Corinthians 3 for his proof-text.
One other example of a message based on a strange interpretation was the teaching that after his escape from Sodom, Lot regained his burden for souls, resulting in the preservation of Zoar (Genesis 19:20,21). During the same message, the preacher also stated that Lot’s wife “just froze up” because she realized that they had lost everything in Sodom and hadn’t won any souls. I cannot get excited about, or involved in, a movement that glorifies that kind of “preaching.”
The organizing of the IBFI online church directory seems strange, to say the least. During one of the broadcasts of the meeting I listened as it was stated that “thousands” had “registered” their churches and ministries at the IBFI website. On Thursday I looked at the church directory and I noticed that the church I pastor was listed there. None of us here at MCBC had “registered” our church. I also noticed several other churches that were “registered” that had not been “registered” by anyone associated with those churches. The more I read the stranger it became as I looked at listings of churches that no longer exist, the names of pastors who are now in heaven, and the names of pastors who have moved to a different church. Other pastors began to notice the same thing and a disclaimer was added to the directory that seemed designed to appease any concerns about churches being listed without their approval. One pastor from Indiana wrote to me, “I just went through the directory for Indiana, and found numerous instances of wrong information. Evidently, they did not bother to check or confirm with the local churches themselves before listing them. They just added them without consent or approval, leading to numerous inaccuracies that might have been clarified if they had respected the autonomy of the local church, who should have had a say in whether or not they wished to be listed.”
When I spoke with a staff member at Crown College about having our church removed from the directory he apologetically stated that, in fact, they had built the majority of the directory from other existing church directories that were created and owned by other groups.
IT’S A ______________
Sunday night, the IBFI website appeared to be the website of a new fellowship, but it has been changed now to appear to be something much less organized. There was a statement of faith, but it has been removed. There was a link that said “Become a Baptist Friend,” but that has also disappeared. I don’t know if the IBFI is an association, a once a year meeting, a fellowship, etc. There is a logo. There is a name. There is a directory. There is an annual meeting. There are even “commemorative coins” for sale. Is there a leader? Is there a Statement of Faith that those “registering” ascribe to? Is there accountability? I don’t want to be involved in something when it is not clear what that something is.
I believe that our friendships for world evangelism should be based on obedience to the Word of God. Again, Jesus said, “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Brother Sexton wants us to be friends for evangelism in spite of error and disobedience “in the camp.” I rejoice in any truth that is being preached by the IBFI. I rejoice in the burden for world evangelism. I rejoice in the conservative dress and music and many of the positions declared by the preachers. I am troubled by the promotion of some that preach and practice in an un-Biblical manner. I am troubled by any misuse of Scripture and any hint of dishonesty in the service of the Lord. I am standing where I stand and I am not demanding that anyone else must agree with me. I do not want to be associated with the IBFI. I don’t even want the church I pastor to be listed on their directory of Baptist churches. Before God, I hope that my motivation and spirit is right in expressing this disagreement and lack of cooperation. Please consider it and please consider me with charity.
This last week two huge evangelical and fundamentalist events concurred: Independent Baptist Friends International in Knoxville, TN (April 11-16, 2010) and Together for the Gospel in Louisville, KY (April 13-15, 2010). Obviously, these two groups didn’t get their calendars together to make sure that they wouldn’t be competing for attendance. It’s probably a very small group who had to decide which one to attend. But it was possible. And actually, when you consider the speakers at these two conferences, you aren’t too many steps away from almost the entire spectrum of evangelicalism, including fundamentalism, being represented, except for a very small number.
I think we could probably agree that the Dan to Beersheba at the IBFI conference is best represented by the one side of John Vaughn, former president of Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International, and Mike Schrock, a staff evangelist for Bob Jones University, stretching to another side with Jack Schaap, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond. It’s harder to find the outer boundaries of Together for the Gospel, because there’s the Charismatic, C. J. Mahaney, the Southern Baptists, Mark Dever and Albert Mohler, and then the Presbyterian, Ligon Duncan. Also there’s John Piper, who is having Rick Warren come to speak at his Desiring God Conference later this year. Some of the conference speakers of IBFI also fellowship with Southern Baptists.
Several fundamentalists, who would associate with the FBFI, would also attend Together for the Gospel. They have. They do. So you move from Bob Jones to Jack Schaap and you can make it all the way through the Southern Baptist Convention to John MacArthur to Rick Warren in the connectivity. Nothing is that far removed. And just for a little sidebar: they all say they represent the historic Charles Spurgeon, all of them. If you take it one step further, you get Rick Warren with Robert Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral. I think that the theme for IBFI, Truth-Friendship-World Evangelism, would work for Together for the Gospel too. Both of these conferences are saying, let’s put down differences to get together.
What does all this mean? What is it that the leadership of these conferences are saying to those following, including the people in the churches? And is there anything wrong with it? What brings these people together? Should anything that any of these believe and practice result in some kind of separation between them?
As I start to consider this, the typical reaction to any kind of analysis or questioning is that it is “critical” and “divisive.” In that way, the ironic critics of the analysis would say that it is also “unchristian.” They might even say it is “heretical.” Oh, and “unloving.” Or something like this: “You’re just trying to impose your opinions on others.” And “that’s what gives fundamentalists a bad name.” Or, “you’re why everyone is turned off with fundamentalism.” And just in case, a little psychobabble, “You’re just jealous!” Wait a minute, one more: “While you are writing your blog, people out there are dying and going to hell.” OK, now we can move on.
Getting together like these two groups means deciding that certain differences in belief and practice don’t matter enough. They must be overlooked, ignored, or deemed non-essential, too minor. When it comes to the T4G guys, paedobaptism and continuationism are two obvious of the supposed tertiary differences—together despite them. For the IBFI conference, the gospel itself is at stake with a denial of some that repentance is necessary for salvation. A few of the primary participants are the poster boys of the 1-2-3 pray-with-me method of evangelism. Within both groups the range of acceptable music for worship among the participants ranges from contemporary to southern gospel to very conservative. John Piper’s affirmation of Rick Warren makes a concession to his methodology. IBFI wouldn’t use all the techniques and strategies of Warren, but the basic philosophy between many of these IBFI and Warren are the same. Both conferences are purposefully minimizing certain doctrines and practices for the purpose of cooperation and fellowship. An emphasis of both is that they aren’t going to be judging based on too strict a standard, making concessions in several areas for the sake of unity or friendship.
Several of the conflicting beliefs within these conferences are mutually exclusive from one another. Both could not be at the same time pleasing to God. Two irreconcilable doctrines could not both be congenial to the nature of God. To say so or to act as such is to suggest that God has no particular favor for either truth or error.
I understand that these men would not say that they are indifferent to the contrasting doctrine and practice, just that they are willing to overlook it for the sake of the alliance. The alliance itself becomes sovereign. The idea is also that the value of the gospel in T4G and friendship and world evangelism in IBFI surpasses the value of the differences in belief enough to merit indifference toward those conflicting doctrines and practices.
Unity and fellowship, in contrast with what scripture says, have become more about toleration. Evangelicals and fundamentalists don’t wish to be reduced to an insignificant number to the world, which will happen if one elevates all of Scripture to a basis of fellowship. The key then is to reduce doctrine to a manageable level, that will allow the conflicting factions to get along. The new heretic is the dogmatic, someone who thinks he’s certain on too many teachings. He endangers the harmony and cohesiveness and ruins the togetherness. Or in other words, he violates the most sacred tenet to the whole, getting along.
Whether evangelicalism or fundamentalism likes it or not, or whether they agree or not, they have surrendered to the uncertainty and ambiguity of the meaning of Scripture. They concede the perspecuity of God’s Word. At the root of this is a fundamental awareness of permissible doubt. We cannot assume that all truth can be known. They are saying that God hasn’t been plain and that we cannot sort things out. As much as they say they love the truth, the truth is the casualty of indifference.
As anyone knows, we aren’t Hyles fans here. But I think Jack Hyles, and while we’re at it, Jack Schaap, are owed an apology. Don’t get me wrong—Hyles and Schaap deserve criticism. They merit the exposure of their errors and have earned the censures they have received.
So why the apology? The denunciation of Hyles and Schaap should proceed from their false doctrine and practice, their violations of God’s Word. The reprimands of them or anyone else should not arise from some personal distaste. We want to protect and propagate the truth out of love for God. When we desire for God to be honored, then the personalities are irrelevant. We are honest critics, ready to point the error where we see it. If we’re not going to be consistent in this, then we should apologize to Hyles and Schaap. We weren’t doing it for the right reason—it was only personal.
Where men have excoriated Hyles and Schaap, they have remained comparably silent on others with the same doctrinal or practical error. And I mean in the doctrine or principle behind the negativity over Hyles and Schaap. In this way, Hyles and Schaap have become the whipping boys for those who don’t seem to have a problem with the actual false doctrine or practice when it is practiced by other men. This rings of hypocrisy, one that no doubt God can see.
We’re either against a false belief and practice or we are not. The identity of the person who holds the distortion shouldn’t matter. So what are the practices of other fundamentalists and evangelicals that parallel those of Hyles and Schaap?
1. DEPENDENCE ON AND ACCOMMODATION TO THE WISDOM OF MEN FOR CHURCH GROWTH
In 1 Corinthians 1, the Apostle Paul writes in v. 22 that the “Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom.” Wrong church growth methodology starts with an evaluation of what unsaved people want. Paul took the opposite tack. He gave to the Jews what was to them a “stumblingblock” and what was to the Greeks “foolishness” (v. 23). He just preached the gospel to them. He didn’t want the growth of the church to stand in the “wisdom of men,” but in the “wisdom of God,” which was “to them that perish foolishness” (v. 18). Why? “That no flesh should glory in his presence” (v. 29). “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (v. 31). Men get the glory through the modernistic church growth methods.
Hyles pioneered many of the modern methods of church growth. A primary strategy of his at First Baptist Church in Hammond was to offer a particular demographic (children) an attraction for church attendance (small toys, candy, soda pop). The incitement to attend church would fit only the specific demographic, not another one (elderly, middle aged adults, etc.). Hyles targeted a special group with an appropriate seduction. Because of the success at increasing attendance, this method was imitated by many. The Jews required a sign, Greeks wisdom, and children temporary excitement. Rather than avoiding this wisdom of men, Hyles accentuated it. Schaap continues it. This technique directly violates 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16.
But is it only Hyles? Consider these recent statements on SharperIron, a fundamentalist forum, by fundamentalist leader Stephen Davis from Calvary Baptist in Lansdale, PA in an article entitled “Planting Urban Churches”:
Church planting involves numerous details such as strategy, demographic studies, . . .
You might be surprised at how many people think that new churches should dance to the same tune as churches which have existed for decades with their well-established traditions. The traditions are not necessarily wrong but may be unnecessary barriers in planting an urban church among those unacquainted with those traditions.
You might need to ask them to be open to different forms of worship, a different leadership style, a different philosophy of ministry, and a different way of living out practical Christianity.
Davis encourages young fundamentalists planting churches to accommodate the urban culture to enhance evangelistic efforts, just to be careful not to be too offensive to mother churches who practice something more “traditional.” A huge emphasis of the article is this decision for the church planter to cater to the way of life of the inner city lost.
The founder of SharperIron, Jason Janz, chronicled the “launch” of his church in downtown Denver with these words:
At the end of the meeting, we passed out a white envelope to everyone in attendance, and inside it was the balance of our checking account: $1,500. We gave every person $30 cash and asked him to find a person in need and give him the money. As clear as day, God said to me that we should do it again.
I walked into staff meeting on Thursday morning and explained the direction God had placed on my heart. I thought we should do the reverse offering again and give every attendee $10. They all agreed that we should do it in spite of the fact that we only had $2,500 in our checking account and the knowledge that we could have 250 people in attendance.
“God said to” Janz that they should do it again. This is the very kind of statement that Hyles often used to justify some evangelistic method that he used.
In the last year many fundamentalists expressed outrage over statements criticizing Calvinism by a pastor in a regional Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (FBFI) meeting. The blog world burned up with articles and comments. Shortly thereafter, the national meeting of the FBFI titled their corresponding children’s program, “When I grow up, I want to be a fundamentalist.” This as well fired up young fundamentalists. And yet there hasn’t been a peep about the Hyles-like philosophy represented by Davis and Janz from fundamentalists.
And conservative evangelicals? Or even a conservative evangelical who is the hero of fundamentalists and evangelicals, John Piper? Piper was in a conference this last year in Cleveland, OH and he answered a question about evangelical pastor Mark Driscoll, and in his answer he said these exact words, imparting his own belief and philosophy about evangelism:
These are weird people comin’ to his church . . . look at this . . . they wouldn’t come to hear me for anything. They wouldn’t go to my church, but they’ll go to his church. I’m cuttin’ him a lot of slack because of the mission. It’s kind of a both/and for me. You don’t need to go as far as you’ve gone sometime with your language, but I understand what you’re doing missiologically there and I have a lot of sympathy for, because I like to see those people saved.
Mark Driscoll does things in the way of coarse language and other strategies, completely detached from scripture and the Holy Spirit, that make him effective at seeing people saved. John Piper believes this.
If the fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are not going to scrutinize and denounce other fundamentalists and evangelicals, then they should just apologize to Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap. They don’t really care about these false doctrines and practices. I don’t know what it is, but they’ve got some other agenda.
In his day, probably no one was more well known for exhorting professing Christians to pray for power than the late Jack Hyles, the long time pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana and father-in-law of the present pastor there, Jack Schaap. He influenced thousands of men toward this practice. He wrote this in his book, The Fulness of the Spirit:
We prayed from 1:00 until 2:00; from 2:00 until 3:00; from 3:00 until 4:00; from 4:00 until 5:00 and sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning the sweet power of God settled upon us, and I knew that God had given me some fresh power, some fresh oil, as spoken of by the Psalmist in Psalm 92:10, “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.”
Hyles said that prayer was the means of getting this power. He explained:
The question immediately comes: How may this power be obtained? Of course, there are obvious steps such as separation from the world, faithfulness to the cause of Christ, hours of studying the Word, obedience to the commands of God and to the will God, etc., but the main thing is for a Christian to be so sincere that he pays the price in agonizing and pleading and tarrying, begging God for His power. Notice Luke 11:5-13, “And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, saying unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” The word “importunity” in verse 8 means “much begging.”
Because prayer was the means Hyles believed was how to get the power that was a necessity for success, he reported:
On my desk I see the words, “Pray for power.” Behind my desk I see the words, “Pray for power.” In the Bible that is in my lap I see the words, “Pray for power.” On the mirror where I shave I see the words, “Pray for power.” On the door leading from my office into the hallway I see the words, “Pray for power.” Hundreds of times a day I plead with God for His power. Then, of course, there are seasons of prayer when I go alone with God to plead for the power of God.
What else is Hyles’ basis for this? He didn’t invent the subject, even as he argued:
I read about John Wesley, who at three o’clock in the morning on October 3, 1738, after having prayed with a number of preachers for most of the night was filled with the Holy Spirit. His ministry was never the same. I read about George Fox, who went alone for two weeks begging for the power of God, and how his life was transformed. I read about Peter Cartwright, who had been filled with the Holy Spirit and mighty power came upon him. I read of George Whitefield, who on June 20, 1736, was ordained to preach. As he knelt at the altar, Bishop Benson laid his hands on the young preacher and George Whitefield knew then and there that he was filled with the Holy Spirit! I read about George Muller, who was filled with the Holy Spirit the first time he ever saw Christians on their knees in prayer. I read how Billy Sunday used to preach every sermon with his Bible open to Isaac 61:1 and how the Spirit of God came on him. My heart began to burn from within! “Was this for me as well as for them? Was that power that Moody had and Wesley had and Whitefield had and Billy Sunday had available for little Jack Hyles, a poor country preacher in east Texas?”
Hyles sought the same experience for himself. According to him, he got it.
I began to walk in the woods at night. Night after night I would walk and cry and pray an beg for power. My heart was hungry. I got a Cruden’s Concordance and looked up the terms, “Holy Ghost,” “Spirit of the Lord,” “Spirit of God,” etc. I looked up every Scripture in the Bible that had to do with the Holy Spirit. I read in Judges 6:34 that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and in Judges 14;6 how the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson and in 1 Samuel 11:6 how the Spirit of God came upon Saul. I read in 1 Samuel 16:13 how the Spirit of the Lord came upon David. I read in Acts 9:17 where Paul was filled with the Holy Ghost and in Luke 4:1 where Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost. My heart burned! I needed something. I needed the blessed power of God. I needed the fulness of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t understand all the Scriptures. I read in Luke 3:16 the words, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” I read in Acts 1:4 the mention of the “promise of the Father.” In Luke 24:49 I found the words, “be endued with power from on high.” In Acts 1:8, I found the words, “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” In Acts 2:17, I learned of the “pouring out of the Spirit” and in Ephesians 5:18, I found the term, “filled with the Spirit.”
I was not seeking sinless perfection nor was I trying to name what I wanted God to give me. I had no desire to speak in tongues nor did I even desire to have some kind of an experience. I just wanted God to work in the hearts of the people while I preached and witnessed. Could it be for me? Yes, it was for Samson, for Gideon, for Torrey, for Moody, for Billy Sunday, for Jonathan Edwards, for Muller, for Whitefield, for George Fox, for Christmas Evans, for Savonarola, for Peter Cartwright, for John Rice, for Bob Jones, for Lee Roberson, but was it for me? I was just a country preacher. I can recall how my eyes fastened on Isaiah 40:31 and Acts 2:4 and Acts 4:31. I was hungry!
“I must have results. I must have power.” I can recall saying to God, “I’m not going to be a normal preacher. I’m not going to be a powerless preacher.”
Night after night I would walk through the pine thickets of east Texas, up and down the sand hills, begging God for His power. If you had driven down Highway 43 outside Marshall, Texas, on the way to Henderson, Texas, in the wee hours of the morning, you could have heard me praying, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” and begging God to give me power.
I was losing weight. I couldn’t eat. What I did eat came back up! My family was worried about me. My deacons got together and said to me, “Pastor, you’ve got to take care of yourself. You are going to get bad sick.”
Then came May 12, 1950. All night I prayed! Just about sunrise I fell to my face in some pine needles and told God I would pay the price, whatever it was, for the power of God! I did not know what I was saying. I did not know what that meant.
In less than four hours, my phone rang in our little country parsonage. The operator said that it was a long distance call for Reverend Jack Hyles. She put the call through and a voice said, “This is Mr. Smith. I work with your dad. Reverend Hyles, your dad just dropped dead with a heart attack.” I put the phone down. I could not believe what I had heard. . . . On May 13, 1950, Mother’s Day afternoon, we had a little service in the chapel. We then followed the hearse about 50 miles south to a little cemetery on the northeast corner of Italy, Texas, where two of my little sisters were buried. Down near the creek was a hole in the ground. They lowered my daddy’s body in the grave. Not long after, I returned to that grave and fell on my face and told God I was not going to be a powerless preacher any more and that I was not going to leave that grave until something happened to me. I don’t know how long I stayed. It may have been hours; it may have been days. I lost all consciousness and awareness of time. I did not become sinlessly perfect nor did I talk in another language nor was I completely sanctified, but my ministry was transformed!
Hyles regularly told the story of begging on his father’s grave. What I noticed was that the details of the story often changed, especially how long he stayed at the grave. I would have a couple of questions about the power that Jack Hyles claimed to have received from God.
- Why didn’t the power work toward the raising of his son, Dave Hyles? How did it selectively affect one area, how big his church got, but it circumvented where the power should have been having the greatest impact, on his son? When Jack Hyles was disqualified from the office of the pastor, why didn’t the power take him the direction that the Bible takes disqualified pastors?
- If someone has that kind of power, why do they also need gimmicks in order to get people to church? Wouldn’t the power be a greater force for persuasion than a small toy or candy? And then in the end, God would be glorified, because it was His power and not a gimmick, wouldn’t He?
Those are just two sets of questions that commonly come to my mind when I think about the power of Jack Hyles. The Bible reveals the real manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life. We can be satisfied with those. The late John R. Rice, who had a lot of impact on Jack Hyles, in We Can Have Revival Now! talked of the same experience:
Charles G. Finney would frequently feel some lack of power and blessing and would set apart a day of fasting and prayer “for a new baptism of the Holy Ghost,” as he was wont to say. Moody sought God unceasingly for two years, until he was mightily endued with power. Dr. R.A. Torrey started the prayer meeting in Moody Church in Chicago and there prayed for two years that God would send a great revival. Then suddenly a committee from Australia came and sought out Torrey, the Bible teacher who had never been much thought of as an evangelist, and Torrey began the mighty campaigns in Australia that led him finally around the world, with hundreds of thousands of souls saved under his great ministry. Torrey learned to pray, so he learned to have revivals.
Hyles and Rice and that branch of fundamentalism are not alone in talking about this practice. In his article, “Philosophy of Evangelism,” the more recent Mark Herbster writes:
[The evangelist] must pray for power and liberty in his preaching. The evangelist must have this grace from God alone. He cannot and will not be able to carry on within his own strength and power. He must be filled with Holy Spirit fire.
You will find some of these same thoughts in some unlikely sources. The late D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:
The prayer for power is always in evidence in the history of the Church prior to revival.
Robert L. Thomas comments:
[Paul] climaxes his own prayer in [Ephesians] 1:15-23 by pleading God’s power for believers. In 3:14-21, he commences his intercession with prayer for power. He seeks power from God, for “power belongs to God” (Ps. 62:11). . . . Such power from the God of power comes to prayer to Him.
DOES THE BIBLE TEACH CHRISTIANS TO PRAY FOR GOD’S POWER?
No. Scripture doesn’t teach us anywhere to pray for God’s power. I can understand people wanting a kind of power that can do the things that these men covet. I believe it is akin to a generation of people that seeks after signs. Of course, we know what Jesus said about that generation. This teaching, which isn’t in the Bible, comes from three sources: poor exegesis of the Scripture, personal experiences, and historical anecdotes. Certain scriptural truths clear this up.
We Already Have All of God’s Power the Moment We Are Justified
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3
God’s divine power has given us believers “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” Do you think that we need anything else to live the Christian life? The Greek begins the sentence with “all things.” That’s even the emphasis. We’ve got everything we need for our entire life in the way of any and every resource we need right when we’re justified. “Hath given” is a perfect passive participle in the Greek. The perfect tense expresses that all those things that we’ve been given can’t be taken away. They are ongoing for the believer.
God has also given us every spiritual blessing that there is. Do we need more spiritual blessing than every spiritual blessing? What are we saying to God when He says we have every spiritual blessing, but we come to Him in prayer as if we haven’t been given that. One of the passages quoted in support for praying for power was Ephesians 1:15-23. The pertinent section (vv. 17-19) reads:
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.
This was used by Robert Thomas from Master’s Seminary to back up a point to pray for power. The prayer is for a spirit of wisdom and knowledge, so that your understanding is enlightened so that you will “know” what is the exceeding greatness of his power. The prayer is not for power. It prays for a kind of knowledge that would know the power that a Christian already possesses. “Know” there is experiential knowledge. Paul prays that the Ephesians believers will experience the power that they already have. Our problem is not that we lack in power. We have that. Our problem is that we forget that we already have it so that we don’t use it.
The Holy Spirit is God, so He possesses all the power of the universe. The Holy Spirit moved upon the face of the waters in Genesis 1:2 and created energy—gravitational force, electromagnetic force, and nuclear force. The Holy Spirit indwells all believers.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Romans 8:9-11
We don’t need to pray for power because we already have the power. The prayer for power is actually a lack of faith. We need to access the power we already possess. We experience the power by yielding to the Holy Spirit. We don’t need power. We need yieldedness. I feel sorry for people who are praying for power. They feel like spiritual have-nots and they don’t have to.
Let me illustrate. Fred gives you all his money, a million dollars. You need ten dollars. You don’t use the million that you already have. Instead, you ask Fred, who has given you all of his dollars, to give you the ten. It is absurd. It questions the sufficiency of God’s provision at your justification. It is not a prayer in God’s will.
Some may ask and rightly so, “Well, if these famous men prayed for power and they didn’t actually get anything out of that prayer, then why is it that they saw so many great things happen?” This is where biblical discernment comes in. I’m not responsible to explain everything that happens. I’ve got to judge based on what God’s Word says. Lots of false beliefs look like they’re working. One amazing blessing about this particular branch of false doctrine is that now we have some history to see where a lot of these results ended. We get the gift of hindsight to see that the extra-scriptural and unscriptural behavior didn’t have long-lasting results in many cases. It even often hatched monstrosities.
Yes, many times the consequences do last and good things turn out. God is a good God. He will bless despite us. That doesn’t justify unbiblical beliefs and activity.
The Holy Spirit Was Poured Out in the Book of Acts and Will Be Again Just Once in the Future
We don’t pray for the Holy Spirit because He’s already here. We don’t pray for the Holy Spirit’s power because the Holy Spirit is God. He already has unlimited power. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which was prophesied by John the Baptist, was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. For the next outpouring of the Holy Spirit to occur, He will have to leave, which He will (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The Holy Spirit will be outpoured one more time, when He comes to indwell Jews saved in the tribulation period (Joel 2:28-29).
The reason the apostles were praying for the Holy Spirit in Luke 24:49 and taught to pray for Him in Luke 11:13 was because He hadn’t come yet. Something similar is Jesus’ teaching that we should pray for His kingdom to come. When we get into the kingdom, we won’t be praying to get into it anymore. Even so, since we already received the Holy Spirit, we don’t need another outpouring of Him. Saved Jews in God’s tribulation will get the second outpouring. That is not for believers today who have already received the Holy Spirit the first time.
When you read Hyles’ teaching above from his book on the fulness of the Spirit, you see that he strung together a whole lot of verses from all over without context or explanation to come to the conclusion that he wanted people to make. Usually he proceeded to stories from there and that was where Hyles real authority came from. People were knocked over by his personal examples. If you heard him enough times, you started to discern that parts to the stories would change and contradict.
If you pay attention to the verses and even look up their contexts, you would see that Hyles isn’t careful to differentiate between “filling” and “baptism.” This is a common error for the revivalist. The two do not mean the same thing. Jesus had the disciples praying for the baptism of the Spirit. In Luke 24:49 He instructed them to do so, that is, stay in Jerusalem and pray for that particular event or experience. However, once the Holy Spirit had come, they were to be filled with the Spirit. The baptism was an event. The filling is ongoing.
I hear people pray for Holy Spirit filling. I believe that many of them do so because they are mixing those two words around. We don’t pray for baptism of the Spirit because that’s already over. They prayed for that and then it was answered. Filling isn’t something we pray for. We are filled with the Spirit by yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s control. Then we are filled. When I hear someone praying for Holy Spirit filling, I believe he is confused about his responsibility. God commands us to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), so it isn’t something we pray for. We just yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and He will fill us. He wants to do that.
You can buy Oxy 10 (strong zit cream) now that performs two tasks—dries up the pimple and covers it with a flesh tone coloring. It’s both a medicine and a make-up. Teenagers, no more need for those unsightly bandaids waiting for a bad blemish to heal. This essay will also multi-task by delivering my break-down of the Fugate-Schaap fight and finish up the actual topic of the month—Ranking Doctrines. The first will surely bring the largest crowd (fitting for Fugate and Schaap) and the latter will draw the most commentary. This month our blog has had more readers in its bathroom than other blogs have had in their auditoriums. Jeff Fugate and Jack Schaap are google gold.
Fugate and Schaap
I still get The Church Bus News, once printed by Wally “Mr. Bus” Beebe, and since his death, the domain of Jeffrey Fugate of Lexington, KY. I get the major mailings, including The Voice, from First Baptist in Hammond, now headquarters for Jack Schaap. Like most of you, first I received the special edition of the Fugate magazine (23 pp) and a little later Schaap’s answer (16 pp). The same day as Schaap’s reply to Fugate, I got the surreal letter to Jack Hyles written by Russell Anderson. I’ve never been in the Fugate/Schaap loop, but I was happy to have them tell me what they thought about the doctrine of preservation and the King James Version.
Fugate and Schaap represent the Hyles’ branch of fundamentalism. Schaap took the mantle from Hyles. He refers to the moment on p. 2:
On his (father-in-law, Jack Hyles) deathbed he took my hand and stated pointedly, ‘I love many people, but I don’t trust them all.’ He paused, squeezed my hand, and continued, ‘I trust you, Jack, with everything I have.’ It was a holy and sacred moment for me.
Schaap has done a phenomenal job in keeping the Hyles’ circus going. I would not have thought anyone could do it. He has. Fugate had to settle, it seems, for getting Russell Anderson, which is a feather in his Hyles cap, but he is a simple Hyles’ grad with a Hyles honorary doctorate, which can’t compare to being in Hyles’ family and getting the Hyles’ death bed handshake.
For those who haven’t seen the mailings, let me start with the Fugate one. Around a huge, half page picture of himself, Fugate explained and justified his mailing on pp. 2-3. On pp. 4-5 he presented quotes from Jack Hyles on the subject from Hyles’ book, The Need for an Every-Word Bible. Fugate printed a chapter from a recent Ms. Gail Riplinger book from p. 6 to p. 12. Fugate wrote a chapter called “The Inspired, Preserved Word” from pp. 13-17, and then reproduced his “Open Letter to Dr. Schaap” from p. 18 to p. 23.
On the top fold of the newsprint style Special Pastor’s Edition of The Voice read in giant red letters, “Dr. Jack Schaap Speaks on Inspiration and the King James Bible.” On the top 1/3 of the first page, but numbered p. 2, in about 25 pt. font, Schaap stated what he believes, and after that an open letter to no pastor in particular, p. 3 an answer to eight different questions that he said he had received from various people, pp. 4-5 his Jack Hyles pages, quoted for his own defense, pp. 6-7 excerpts from two different booklets in which he deals with this subject—Why Stand against the King James Bible? and Dr. Jack Schaap Answers, p. 8 the doctrinal statements of seventeen different Baptist schools to support his position, and pp. 9-11 letters from deacons, staff, Charles Colsten, Wendell Evans, and Ray Young in full support of Schaap. The last three pages were miscellaneous defenses of the Schaap position—one the letter to the readers by the KJV translators, dictionary definitions of “inspiration,” lexiconal entries for theopneustos, and ending with observations and conclusion.
Both of them quote Hyles for their own purposes. Ironically, I believe that it was possible to defend more than one position with Hyles’ words. Hyles would say that he always took the same position, but if you read his early Revelation commentary, you’d see that he commonly corrected the KJV in that book. Then later he turned to the position that said someone could not be converted except through the KJV. In between there, he made many varied and contradictory statements on the subject, so much so that men with different positions both use him to defend themselves.
Fugate and Schaap make convoluted or inaccurate statements. In the large font on p. 2 Schaap wrote what is his official position:
I believe the King James Version of the Bible is the divinely preserved translation of the inspired Word of God for English speaking peoples.
What’s wrong with that? It isn’t easy to understand. I can’t tell what he believes about the underlying Greek and Hebrew text by that statement. I don’t know what he believes about inspiration or preservation from the statement. Someone asked Schaap this question: “If we believe in divine preservation, don’t we then believe that the inspired words were preserved in their inspired state?” As part of his answer, he made this statement: “We have copies of an English translation that came from copies of other translations, etc., etc.” By the time he was done, I couldn’t tell what he believed.
When you read the official position of the church and college, you find the same indecipherable type of statement (p. 9):
Furthermore, we believe the Scriptures were translated, copied, and preserved under the watchful care of divine providence and that the English speaking peoples of today have in the King James Version of the Scriptures an accurate, reliable, divinely preserved translation of the Scriptures.
It says the Scriptures were translated, copied, then preserved. Isn’t copying the way they were preserved? Wasn’t the copying or preservation of Scriptures done before they were translated? Nothing else that was written by Schaap or any others from Hyles-Anderson cleared this up.
Gail Riplinger took up the bulk of the space for Fugate, carrying the doctrinal water for him. She wrote on p. 6:
The actual ‘originals’ have not been the recipient of the promise of preservation, as they have long since dissolved.
I haven’t read anything that Riplinger has written until this paper. She made the above inane statement in the second sentence of her presentation. She said there was no “promise of preservation” of the ‘originals’ because they have long since “dissolved.” How does a promise of preservation relate to whether we still possess the originals or not? The absence of originals doesn’t change what Scripture promises or doesn’t promise. And how do the “originals” receive a promise anyway? God wrote promises to people, not to manuscripts of the Bible. The next sentence brings confusion to what she even means by “originals”:
As is demonstrated in detail in the previous chapters of Greek and Hebrew Study Dangers, all currently printed Greek and Hebrew editions contain errors.
From that statement you can see where we’re headed with Riplinger, but you can also see that when she says “originals,” she doesn’t mean “original manuscripts” but “original languages.” So she is saying that Scripture doesn’t promise original language preservation. So what does it promise about preservation? We’ll get there.
On top of that, how does Riplinger know that every Hebrew and Greek text has errors? She doesn’t possess the original manuscripts, so she doesn’t know that. She can’t compare any of the editions of the Hebrew and Greek text of Scripture with their original manuscripts, so she can’t even come to that conclusion. What she should conclude, based upon a biblical view of inspiration and preservation found in God’s promises in His Word, is that we do have all of the Words without error in the Hebrew and Greek text of Scripture.
But that isn’t where Ms. Riplinger is headed as she teaches us her bibliology. She claims to know that we don’t have a perfect original language Bible, but what we do have is a perfect translation of the Bible. So a perfect translation came from a corrupt text. And she based that upon what?
The answer to the question, ‘Where is the living word of God’ lies in God’ s promise given to Isaiah 28 and fulfilled in Acts 2. “With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak . . . saith the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:21) [bold hers].
What do you think of that exegesis? She concludes that God is telling us in 1 Corinthians 14:21 that His Word would come with men of other tongues—not Hebrew and Greek ones—and we know now that they are English ones. We’re supposed to read that out of that verse from Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 (I wish she had read a little further down to 1 Cor 14:29-35 and practiced that instead).
She has many more errors, crazy ones, as you continue to read her. Her writing should be respected by no one. What you can see that she believes is that we didn’t have a perfect Bible from the moment those original manuscripts “dissolved” until we got the King James Version (1611 or 1769?). She is a living example of why women shouldn’t be teaching doctrine to men (1 Timothy 2:9-15). When Schaap challenged Fugate on the phone about learning theology from a woman, Fugate’s comeback was (p. 23):
Gail Riplinger is a woman who holds an honorary doctorate from Hyles-Anderson college for her work on the KJB.
Somebody should tell her that her career in doctrinal mangling is over.
What kind of respect does Fugate hold for Riplinger? This really shows you the caliber of these types of men. Not only is half his presentation a chapter from her book, but then he writes his section and plagiarizes paragraphs of her from the very chapter that he printed. Some editor should have stopped chewing his bazooka and informed him of this. On p. 15 in the first column and on p. 16 at the bottom of the first column and top of the second, Fugate plagiarizes almost word-for-word two paragraphs of Riplinger’s chapter located at the bottom of the last paragraph on p. 6 and then the last paragraph on p. 7.
Trying to be the diplomat, Schaap wrote this on the back page of his paper:
I don’t think any one of us could slide a piece of paper between our differences.
I want to go on record to say that there is far more than paper-thin differences between the scriptural position and what most of the Hylots have written. Try a boulder.
As an aside, the new filing director at Sharper Iron, Greg Linscott, linked to Dave’s last article on Schaap-Fugate. It is presently the most visited thread of their filing section and heavily commented. One of their moderators, a “Larry,” wrote this about Dave:
The irony of this article is that someone who does not have a biblical doctrine of preservation is complaining that someone else who doesn’t have a biblical doctrine of preservation doesn’t have a biblical doctrine of preservation.
That’s all he said. Clever, huh? He didn’t say how it was unscriptural, just that it was. It’s throwing raw meat to the MVO (multiple version only) crowd. He knows it. Classic fundamentalism. What is truly ironic is a person with no biblical doctrine of preservation, Larry, saying that Dave doesn’t have one. I’ve never ever heard an MVO advocate, someone like Larry, ever start with the Bible to come to his position on preservation. As a matter of fact, they believe that you start with textual criticism and then restrain your doctrine from keeping the “evidence” from leading you to the “truth.” Larry’s view of preservation is the new post-enlightenment position that all of the doctrines of scripture have been preserved, not the words. You won’t find it in the Bible.
Final Comments about Ranking Doctrines
In the previous three posts of mine about reducing scripture to essentials and non-essentials, I haven’t presented much of a scriptural argument against that position and practice. In my first installment, I linked to a five part series that I had already written, that did give a biblical basis for an every teaching is essential approach. I also argued against the defense mounted by the other side. I would like to spend a little time dealing with their main arguments. I contend that their main point isn’t in the Bible at all and it is invented only to maintain a type of fake unity between all believers. However, here are some of the passages to which they refer to state their case.
1 Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
Those who rank doctrines see this verse as inferring this practice. They understand “first” (protos) as “first in importance.” They explain that Paul is saying that the gospel is foremost of all the doctrines, based on this text. This is how the New American Standard and the English Standard Versions translate protos. Protos more often means “first in time.” If it does mean “first in importance,” then Paul could be saying that the gospel is foremost in this chapter. With such relative ambiguity, we shouldn’t base a doctrine on the understanding of this one word. Even if it does mean “most important,” then it is an even further stretch to say that it is the only doctrine or one of the few doctrines worth separating over.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Essential or non-essential people infer their practice from the use of the word “weightier” (barus). The Pharisees paid tithe on certain small herbs, but didn’t accomplish the “weightier” matters of the law, like mercy, etc. What are “weightier matters?” Barus carries with it the understanding of “difficulty.” The Pharisees chose to do the easier things, tithing their little herbs. Jesus is refuting the ranking of doctrines. They had voided certain practices and replaced them with other easier ones. Why? The easier ones they could do on their own. This is a major reason why men will rank doctrines–because they don’t see how they can keep everything that God said. They’re right. They can’t do it, which is why they need justification by faith.
1 Corinthians 16:22
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
Certain violations come with severe punishment. Those ranking doctrines say that this indicates that these issues are essential, rated ahead of other doctrines or practices. If someone doesn’t love Jesus, then he isn’t saved. That’s why he is cursed. It is ironic that people who do love the Lord Jesus will keep everything that He says (John 14:21-24). In other words, “Anathema Maranatha” if you won’t do everything that Jesus says to do.
1 Corinthians 3:11-13
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
Jesus is foundational to everything. No one is arguing with that. We must believe in Jesus Christ or all other doctrine or practice won’t matter to someone’s life and eternity. In 2 Peter 1, believers will add virtue to faith and knowledge to virtue. That doesn’t mean that faith is more important than virtue.
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Romans 14 applies to non-scriptural issues. Colossians 2:16 says that we shouldn’t judge one day above another because they are merely shadows of Christ. 1 Corinthians 5:7 says that Christ is our passover. Days are not a doctrinal issue. You can’t apply this to scriptural doctrine and practice.
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
This verse has been used for ranking doctrines. It isn’t remotely about that. What is the “same mind” that Paul wanted the Philippians to have with him? It was the same mind or attitude of this pursuit of Christlikeness that he just talked about in the context. Paul uses sarcasm with the term “perfect,” because he himself had just said that nobody had reached perfection until they reach Christ. If they weren’t going to have that mindset of pursuing Christlikeness, then his hope was that God would expose this wrong way of thinking and help them change it.
I’ve already made arguments for not having the essential/non-essential teaching over at my blog in a five part series. I’ve only dealt with the other side here. I’ve found that this is all they’ve got to offer.
Defining What Fellowship Is
In the comment section, one brother asked me about fellowship, to define what it was. I thought it would be worth doing here. I’m not fellowshiping with someone at the park with whom I’m playing pick-up basketball. I might take an unsaved person out to lunch. That isn’t fellowship if I have the purpose of evangelism. I’m on the board of two orchestras. That isn’t fellowship, even though there are other Christians on one of the boards. Winning an election and joining Congress isn’t fellowship.
Fellowship is an association with a common spiritual purpose and goal. I may talk to another professing believer who believes differently than me. We can sit down for coffee or a meal with the attitude that we are attempting to be in fellowship if possible. This may take many visits. I know that these two paragraphs don’t deal with every situation.
Sometimes the word “core” is used. I see it spreading. Core values. And then fancy words like triage, which puts people in such a daze that they refuse to keep thinking about it. Taxonomy is another one. None of these are taught in Scripture. “Fundamental” is very much like “foundational.” I have no doubt that certain doctrines are “foundational.” For instance, who cares if you practice complementarianism when you are not saved. Being saved is foundational. It could also be fundamental in that sense.
But let’s be clear. We know why “core” and all these exciting new theological terms are being used. Men want to be able to water down belief and practice and not be punished for it. The world loves minimizing and reducing, so these same churches will be more popular with the world. And then all the churches that love being popular will also be popular with each other. It’s like a big peace treaty that we could hand out a Christian version of the Nobel Peace prize. We can all smile at each other and get along while we disobey what God said. Then you’ve got a guy that says everything is important, and that’s, you know, an attack on unity. It’s a fake unity like what people have at a family reunion. Real unity is based on what God said.
We are seeing the fulfillment of Paul’s prophecy in our desire to rank doctrine. Every young preacher boy is taught Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
In the next verse, Paul gives a reason for this instruction, making the instruction all the more important.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
That time has come. We have lost our taste for sound doctrine. We teach after our lusts the message we want to teach, with a desire only to have a text for the sake of the audience which demands one. The natural result is that we have turned away the ears of many from the truth, and in many cases the truth has been turned into fables.
Of course, as an Independent Baptist, I want to blame the neo’s for this. They are, after all, the most convenient target, sorta like TV and MTV is the easiest of the cultural targets. But it would not be entirely accurate to blame the neo’s. In fact, in the Independent Baptist circles, we find a frequent disregard for God’s Word in our understanding of doctrine. We ‘preach,’ sure. We ‘preach’ in the sense that we rail, snort, stomp, slap our thighs, wave our hankies, wave our Bibles, wave our shoes, wag our heads, shake our fingers, and wag our tongues. We preach in the sense that we have a message, a main point, an outline, and a verse, which the congregation dutifully opened their Bibles up to. But do we follow Paul’s instructions? Do we preach the Word? My experience says that we do not. We preach our message. We get a text for it too. But we don’t preach the Word.
I have been taking advantage of current events in the Hyles camp. I admit it. I have been shamelessly riding the wave of interest in Fugate’s beef with Schaap in order to boost our ratings and draw readers to our blog. I confess.
But my purpose in this has not been entirely for personal gain. I really do think that the whole issue fits well with our topic for February. Kent has been dealing with it from the left end, where men defend their licentious fellowship practices. I intend to deal with the right end of the issue, where men defend their pet doctrines, and turn a deaf ear to the other. The former is a purposeful ranking of doctrine on the basis of the opinion of the many. They determine importance on the basis of fellowship. They set up standards for the sake of unity with others, making that the basis for distinguishing between essential and non-essential. The latter, on the other hand, work in sort of the opposite direction. They determine importance on the basis of tradition. The set up standards on the basis of distinction and independence. They set up standards for the sake of conformity to their Pope, making that the basis of essential and non-essential.
One reason we think it acceptable to rank doctrines has been that we have been doing it in a practical sense for decades now. We have finally gotten around to defending the practice, but we did it long before we felt the need to defend it. Traditionally, Independent Baptists have decided what they thought important from the Word (or not from the Word), and have insisted on those traditions regardless of whether it is Biblical or not.
We have ourselves to blame for the current state of affairs. It began way back when we decided that our preaching did not need to be directly from the Word. It began when we thought that the message to be preached was more important than the Word of God. It began when we stopped preaching the whole counsel of God. It began when we elevated topical preaching above any sort of exposition, when we decided that our topic trumped the text and context. It began when we set our standards first, and then found a basis for them in Scripture.
By our blatant disregard for God’s Word, we set the new standard. We de-valued doctrine for the sake of traditions and pragmatic practices. Success became our priority, and doctrines were important inasmuch as they brought us success. No, there was no official doctrine ranking ceremony. They were ranked by default. Dr. Big Britches had great success, and if you wanted to be successful like him, you needed to do what he did. The doctrines that were important to him no doubt played a role in his wonderful achievements, and you too would need to stress them if you wanted similar success. And thus began a tradition of judging the doctrines of God. Your garden variety Doctrinal Statement was birthed out of this need to identify with the traditions of the powerful and successful. Growth became faithfulness, and externals measured everything.
Now, today, we have little concern about whether or not we are getting our doctrine from Scripture. We have every concern about whether or not we have all the doctrines off the list of “important ones” as listed by the Guru of Church Growth. Our credentials come, not from the Word, but from traditions and how we line up with them. We ignore the doctrines that don’t make us grow, and that don’t matter to Dr. Fancy Pants with the sexy college. The others we make sure we get right, down to the commas and semi-colons.
Years and years ago, Jack Hyles made himself the judge and determiner of which doctrines “mattered.” And now, in our day, we have this fight erupting between the various factions of Hylotry. Jeffery Fugate says that Jack Schaap is unfaithful to the doctrines that Jack Hyles upheld. Jack Schaap says that he is in fact faithful to Jack Hyles’ doctrines. But who wants to judge a man by his faithfulness to the teaching of the Word?
The push to rank doctrines is nothing new. On the one side, we have those who ignore Scripture in order to promote their agenda. On the other side, we have those who attempt to give a Scriptural basis for tolerating blatant disobedience to Scripture. Does the fact that one side is more conservative excuse them from their practice of ignoring Scripture? I think not.
What’s This, Tag Team?
Now, with all of that in mind, I intend to give an opinion – my opinion – of the Schaap/Fugate matter. I do so because I believe it provides us with a wonderful illustration of the results of deriving doctrine from Tradition rather than from the Word. Consider:
Tuesday was an interesting day, at least for my mailbox. I received my very own copy of “The Voice” — the official publication of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. Emblazoned across the front of the paper is the headline “Dr. Jack Schaap Speaks on Inspiration and the King James Bible…” I also received, in that very same mailbox, a letter from Dr. Russell Anderson (The Anderson half of Hyles Anderson). Anderson’s letter was addressed to “Dr. Jack Schaap, Dr. Jack Hyles, Students, Graduates, & Faculty of Hyles-Anderson College.”
My interest was piqued. Interestingly enough, the letter was mainly addressed to Dr. Hyles, who has been dead (last time I checked) for more than seven years. But talking to the dead is, apparently, one of those really important doctrines that Hyles held. He, after all, was frequently heard to talk to his mama after she was dead, sometimes even from the pulpit. If Jack did it, then it must be okay (or at least, so reasons Russell). Russell Anderson writes this letter to the very dead Jack Hyles, and the letter is about Hyles’ other famous son (in-law), Jack Schaap.
Russell Anderson wants us all to know that Jack Hyles taught him the doctrine that the King James Bible was the inspired, preserved Word of God. And Russell still believes it. In fact, Russell believes that God blessed and used him and Hyles because of this doctrine. And, in case you were wondering just how God blessed and used Russell Anderson, Russell Anderson wants you to know. He said (and I quote),
As of December 31, 2008, ten million three hundred thousand (10,300,000) people have been saved, mostly through the works of Hyles Anderson College graduates Dr. Rick Martin in the Philippines and Dr. Kevin Wynne in Mexico City. (note – Russell also tells us that he supports these and other personal soul winners with about $500,000 per year).
But that is not all. Anderson continues…
I have helped build ten Bible Colleges.
I have helped build 900 churches.
I have given over thirty-five million dollars ($35,000,000.00)
I appreciated the way Russell wrote out the dollar amounts both numerically and in English, so that I could feel the full impact of those numbers. And I’ll have you to know that I did search the letter diligently, but did not find anywhere in it a statement like “I have become like the most high.” In case you were concerned.
Anyhow, Russell is upset with Schaap, who was just a teenager when WE started HAC (says Anderson). Russell wants to know, did Dr. Hyles know that Schaap is now preaching that the King James Bible is not inspired in the college WE have started, which I gave over TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS to? (emphasis is mine). Obviously, the dollar amount donated by Russell is relevant to the issue at hand. “It seems,” says Dr. A, “that Brother Schaap thinks he knows more about the Bible than you did.” To which we all emit a collective “ouch!”
So, Russell Anderson is upset with Jack Schaap. He (Anderson) is the brother that Jack Hyles never had, and so he wants Jack to know that he is still defending the King James Bible. The same King James Bible that both he and Jack believe is the inspired, preserved word of God. Or, at least, Anderson assumes that Jack Hyles believes that still. I didn’t find any place in the letter where Anderson said whether or not Jack Hyles had contacted him since he left the building.
Schaap, meanwhile, in his paper “The Voice” has provided us with 16 pages of material, all designed to assure us, the reader, that he is still faithful to all of Jack Hyles’ teaching.
Now, in fairness, I have to say that in this controversy, I think that Schaap is in the right. Or perhaps I should say that I think Fugate and Anderson have done him wrong. Ever since ascending to the throne of First Baptist Church, Schaap has had to re-affirm his credentials as a true, card-carrying Hylot. And, as far as that goes, he really is. Perhaps the problem for men like Jeffery Fugate and Tom Neal is that they don’t like the real Jack Hyles. They had a different image erected in their minds, a less accurate version. In a sense, Jack Schaap is the King James Version of Jack Hyles. Men like Fugate and Neal were looking for a newer version… they wanted Schaap to be more like a New King James, or perhaps a New International Version of Hyles. But he isn’t. He’s the real deal. Hyles with Hair to Spray.
And they don’t like it. Short of Schaap doing a hatchet job on the writings and works of Jack Hyles (and that isn’t very likely — a hatchet job on Scripture, perhaps, but not on Hyles), Jack Schaap has fully demonstrated that he is simply repeating exactly what Jack Hyles taught about the Bible. He demonstrates it multiple times, and in multiple ways, by quoting Jack Hyles directly.
And that really is the problem We have a position on the Inspiration and Preservation of Scripture that really doesn’t come from Scripture at all. Yes, it is what Jack Hyles taught, but it isn’t what God said. You see, Fugate thought that Hyles meant that God directly inspired the King James. Schaap understood Hyles to be teaching that God (only) preserved His inspired Words in the King James. Who cares, really, what God Himself actually said about it. What we need is more quibbling about what Jack Hyles meant.
Some questions that I have asked of our English Preservationist friends (one that has yet to be answered) are these: when did God decide to stop preserving His Word in Greek and Hebrew (the languages in which they were given), and switch preservation to English? And how do we know that God decided to do this? And, if God decided to switch to English, which edition of the King James did He decide would be the final edition?
Jeffery Fugate twists Scripture terribly to arrive at his position. I quoted him in last week’s article, highlighting the most blatant of those examples. Certainly, every copy of the Word is called Scripture. That does not mean that God directly inspired each and every copy. What Fugate does is to lower the definition of inspiration to a level that could include our U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and a major part of the works of William Shakespeare.
Do I like Schaap’s position better? He at least gets it that inspiration and preservation are two different doctrines in Scripture. He believes that God has preserved His Word. I’m glad for that. But, he also insists that there is no preserved word in Greek (a position which the majority of English Preservationists take as well), and that the King James Bible is the place where God is preserving His Word. He demonstrates that he does not understand the true TR position of preservation. And in general, he shows that he needs to study the issue a little more.
I am not attempting to restate our position on preservation. That has already been done, and you can read our Biblically sound defense of perfect preservation in this section of our blog. (You might find this article helpful). God promised to preserve His Words… every jot and every tittle. Those, by the way, are not English. God gave the Word in Hebrew and in Greek. God preserved the very words that He gave. It bothers me greatly to hear those who will claim that in 1611, God started preserving His Word in English also claim that there is not a single edition of the Textus Receptus that is or can be called the Preserved Word of God. If there is a 1500 year gap between the giving of the Canon and its preservation, then God didn’t keep His Word.
As I see it, we really have to get this issue settled once and for all. Preservation is a Scriptural doctrine, not merely a traditional doctrine. God promises to preserve His Word, as the Westminster Divines said, “by His singular care and providence.” The Bible tells us how God would do it… through His church, the pillar and ground of the truth. Until we get back to taking our positions on Scriptural, rather than on traditional grounds, we will continue to wallow in confusion and contention. We must, then, get back to a reverence for the Word of God, to holding all doctrine to be equally important.
The issue of repentance in salvation is important to you.Â It is important to me as well.Â You deny that repentance must accompany faith in salvation.Â I affirm it.Â You consider my position to be heresy.Â I consider yours to be heresy.Â You blacklist those who teach repentance and faith.Â We speak against those who deny it.Â
Seems to me that we have sufficient grounds here for a debate.Â We have a fundamental disagreement, that disagreement is over an issue that we both think is important, and we both have arguments that we think will ultimately win the day.Â
So, here is a proposal.Â I will offer to let you debate the issue on this blog.Â Rather than relegating you to the comments section, we will give you space on the front page.Â I will write and you will respond, or you will write and I will respond.Â Either way.Â Others will be permitted to respond in the comments section.Â But the affirmative and negative cases will get front page exposure.
Think of the wonderful opportunity this will afford you.Â You will stand for truth and against error.Â You will have the opportunity to expose the doctrine of repentance as a true enemy of soul winning.Â And while you do, you can consider your work as part of your soul winning requirement.Â After all, you might win someone to Christ right here on this blog, and besides, hundreds and hundreds of people read our blog every day.Â You might be famous… the next big name in Fundamentalism.Â
We will negotiate what the resolution will be.Â Here are some possibilities —
Resolved: Repentance must accompany faith in salvation.
Resolved: The teaching that repentance must accompany faith in salvation is adding works to salvation.
Resolved: Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
(oops! didn’t mean to put that one in there.Â Guess you probably wouldn’t want to debate THAT!)
Resolved: In order to be saved, one must repent of his sin.
Resolved: In order to be saved, one must simply believe.
We can negotiate affirmative and negative, the stated resolution to be debated, and so forth.Â The format will be quite simple.Â The affirmative will state his case in three typed pages or less, and the negative will have a day or two to respond.Â Both will be posted at the same time, so that the posting will be simultaneous.Â We will limit the debate to between four and six exchanges, although that also can be negotiated.Â The negative will get the last word.
I think that about covers it.Â Of course, any Hyles Follower is welcome to answer the challenge, although I do have my wish list… including (but not limited to) Stephen L. Anderson, Tom Neal, Greg Neal, Brent Neal, Jack Schaap, Ray Young, Bob Hooker, any Hyles staff member, any staff member from Tom Neal’s school, or Bubba Jones.
Of course, if you’re really chicken, you could always use a fake name.
Interested parties will please contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org