The Apology Owed to Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap pt. 1
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.