Fugate v. Schaap, Round 2 (ding, ding!)
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.