Friday, August 3, 2012

Independent Fundamental Baptists, Jack Schaap, Jack Hyles, and Self-Righteous Evangelicals and Former Fundies – You Need to Read This

If you are a follower of Evangelical/Fundamentalist news, particularly with respect to leadership, by now you are aware that Jack Schaap, was let go as the Pastor of mega church, First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (which also operates Hyles-Anderson College)  for what is being called “adultery” at this point. And you might imagine for a moment that I am sympathetic to Jack Schaap, which would make you right, but you should not be astonished. At least not yet until you read what I have to say.

Ed Stetzer, an Evangelical Pastor of Grace Church in Hendersonville, Indiana and administrator of the blog The Lifeway Research Blog, posted an article about this issue entitled, Call It What It Is: It’s Not Adultery, It’s Abuse.

And in the article Stetzer submits the following observations, complaints, assertions and demands:
Schaap has been caught up in what many are calling an "adultery scandal" and was fired this week. Yet, what many are missing is particularly important and requires immediate change. It is time to stop calling this "adultery" and time to call it what it is, "abuse."
Further he adds:
Several people are referring to this as "adultery" because they haven't determined exactly which state the sexual contact took place. While it obviously is sex outside of marriage, this is not just adultery. This is abuse. I don't care what state it was in. Some have tried to compare this to other moral failures-- it is not the same thing and you should not trivialize such abuse with invalid comparisons.
Speak up, Independent Fundamental Baptists, speak up! Jack Schaap spiritually and physically abused a teen in his pastoral care. That is what matters most now.

Do I care for Jack Schaap? Yes, I do. I prayed for him and his wife-- I pray he gets counseling for the issues that would cause him to abuse a 16-year old girl in his care. But, I am much more concerned about the girl he victimized. I hear little about her-- and too many people talking about "adultery." Stop. 

Don't say, "But it is legal for a 54-year old to have sex with a 16-year old in Illinois." Listen to those words before you say them. Consider your daughter. 

In many states, this is considered sexual abuse or molestation. Whether that is the case legally, it appears, is still to be determined, but it is the case morally. Sixteen-year-olds do not commit adultery with 54-year-old pastors. They are abused by them.
Say it:

She is a child.
This is sexual abuse. 

Stop calling it adultery and call it abuse. Act like men and speak up, Independent Fundamental Baptists.

This morning, I talked to one young leader in the movement who said, "Why is no one speaking up?" I agree. Those who justify enable more such scandals and endanger more children. 

IFB friends, your movement has had way too many scandals, and many of you have expressed concern about such-- so speak up now. (There are plenty of lists of such scandals already.) Secrecy and circling the wagons breeds this kind of behavior and is destroying children and your movement. Your young pastors are leaving and your children are in danger.
My Response to Ed Stetzer

In response to the article I submitted the following thoughts, though as I post this my comment has not been published:
I call this selective outrage by you, Mr. Stetzer. You have some valid points but your posturing is annoying in light of the way you soft-pedaled Jonathan Merritt's living a lie, getting caught, and then making excuses for his involvement in the perversion of homosexuality. Mr. Merritt is also an abuser, an abuser of people's trust. But since you feel sorry for him, apparently, he isn't to be labeled as an abuser, eh? In fact, about personal struggles you, yourself, stated:

"I am thankful that my struggles are not public discussion, but I appreciate Jonathan sharing what he has--and am praying for him in the days ahead."

Interesting, but now that Jack Schaap's struggles are part of the public discussion, well what are we to do?
Jack Schaap seems to be the convenient punching bag of the day. Anyone with half-a-wit could see some disaster coming down the tracks along with the already existing disaster that First Baptist of Hammond and HAC was, led by this kind of model for decades. (I mean in general and not all of its people, rather its leadership and those members who did prefer its theological ignorance and poor Pastoring/leadership).
Who is circling the wagons, by the way? The church, itself? It does have the right to reserve comment until all the facts are in. As well, those others who might have some reason to speak out because they are in the same circle or close proximity, possibly they are adhering to a Biblical principle on this particular matter:

Proverbs 18:13
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

Maybe they all do agree, Mr. Stetzer, that what is described is abuse but they wish, instead, to hear all of the facts so they may speak with temperance and fully informed.

And this claim, that the IFB movement has had way too many scandals. Really? Do you know how many IFB churches there are worldwide vs "the scandals"? The percentage, actually, is remarkably low but I will let you do your own research.

For the record, I am not a fundamentalist but I like my truth based on facts, including claims about fundamentalists.

And if you think I am soft on spiritual/power abuse, I have written a very thorough article on the subject at my blog which identifies it and rejects it plainly and which includes reference to Jack Hyles.

So, in light of helping people to be protected from abuse, whether a child, teenager, young adult, middle adult or mature one, I do appreciate that point but it seems like a very big pow-wow is being held both before we hear all the facts and if the facts are what they appear right now, it is to claim the obvious which I see no one denying at this point.

Some Final Words

I have no doubt Pastor Stetzer believes himself to be sincere but sincerity does not make one in the right and in this case he is wrong, dead wrong. No one, as I said, is refusing to speak out, they are waiting for the facts, something he ought to be doing. But who is he to order people to speak out and condemn them if they do not based on his time table? If he had couched his request with, “I hope at some point this is fully addressed”, it would be much more tolerable but he didn’t. You know why? Because Jack Schaap is a Fundamentalist, but worse, he is an Independent Fundamental Baptist, which, to many Evangelicals are default Neanderthal Christians. They don’t get the benefit of investigation and each church or fellowship judged on its own merit,  not by Ed Stetzer and not by many like him, instead they are all lumped in together.

But this amplifies what I believe exists with two types of Evangelicals:

1. The lifelong Evangelical who has an inherent arrogance-complex toward fundamentalists, hence occasions like these are seized upon (again, notice his favorable treatment of Jonathan Merritt’s deception and sexual perversion, one of his own)

2. Former fundamentalists who have an axe to grind.

Let me be clear, I long ago rejected the doctrine and practice of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana when it was led by Jack Hyles and then by Jack Schaap after Hyles death. Obviously I did not reject everything since it held to some orthodox doctrines but substantially I rejected their theological ignorance and systematic spiritual abuse. I have criticized Jack Hyles' errors with vigor which were transferred to Jack Schaap when he simply continued on with the same doctrine and practice. At the present, I do not identify as a Fundamentalist or Evangelical. I use neither label though some (maybe many) properties of both fit me. So I have no dog in this fight, but I do have something over which to argue.

What is quite evident to me is that certain Evangelicals and former Fundies both have a chip on their shoulder with regard to Fundamentalists and particularly IFB's. What you are seeing in Pastor Stetzer is the very chest-pounding he intimates that he despises and which led to the kind of poor leadership at First Baptist Church and its problems. Stetzer would dictate to us while he eschews it in others. Jack Schaap seems to have excited some of these disaffected brothers in the Lord who wish to use Jack as a punching bag, and therein lies my sympathy for Mr. Schaap. He is still a brother in the Lord, he has come to a very difficult end with respect to his ministry at this point and who knows what else. He is in the hands of foreigners. He is being crushed, maybe at his own doing but still, he is being crushed.

So to to Ed Stetzer I say:

Stop it Ed, stop it now.

This will take its course, the people at First Baptist have a long inventory to take. Who knows what dawn may break. But I do know what won’t help, the Ed Stetzer’s of the world whose finger wagging will only get in the way.

Addendum: Be clear, victims of abuse are never not victims. They need tended to appropriately and their abuse not minimized. But chest-pounding and playing Captain Hindsight is, frankly, a similar kind of abuse.


Anonymous said...

Wisdom Hunter (a novel published in 1991, and still on the market today) illustrates the destructiveness of dictatorial and authoritarian pastors. Many consider the book to be a “classic”. The author graduated from Tennessee Temple University, and grew up in the Independent Baptist camp. When the book was first released, it was banned at many Independent Baptist churches, even Bob Jones University. Maybe the author had something to say that was, and is, worth listening to.

Alex Guggenheim said...

I am sure the book has many insights. I would enjoy a look at it. Maybe it is a time of elevation for the sober fundamentalist voices and a clear recognition of aberrant ones.

Anonymous said...

The real reason why most Independent Fundamental Baptists will not speak up, but instead remain silent is because they do not want to "rock the boat" by upsetting the church leadership. By speaking up, they are "black balled" by being kicked out of ministries, shunned and told they are not welcome to church gatherings. Furthermore, they are excommunicated by the pastor, deacons, and trustees without a church trial. By having the church trial it would entail the church members hearing both sides and voting whether to excommunicate or not. The leadership wants to avoid this and keep it quiet. Most Independent Fundamental Baptists care more about remaining in good standing with the leadership so they can continue to be welcome in church and not about what is right, true, and honest in Gods eyes. Most Independent Fundamental Baptists will avoid and have nothing to do with the brother or sister who was kicked out of the church like the blind young man in the Holy Bible whose own parents cared more about remaining in good standing in the synagogue than supporting their sons honesty about Jesus. This is why the majority of Independent Fundamental Baptists will not speak up. If you are looking for a church, PLEASE.....for you and your family' spiritual, physical, psychological, and any other wellbeing; PLEASE do not get mixed up with an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. They lure people in by preaching the truth of the Holy Bible but the leadership and its "clique" do not practice what they preach. The Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches are all about controlling the sheep. If you call them on a wrongdoing, they accuse you of "sowing discord among the brethren" and "you're just bitter!" In Ezekiel 3: 17-21, we are commanded to be a "watchman" and God warns us about His expectations as a "watchman". PLEASE, don't get involved with Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches. They will only destroy you spiritually.

Alex Guggenheim said...

I share your concerns about IFB churches. There are good ones but there are enough unhealthy ones which stand out that cause a generally unfavorable profile of the IFB label. Still one must be fair and examine every ministry on its owm merits. I know of no sect or denomination let alone Teacher to whom carte Blanche approval may be given. We do not attend an IFB church. My interest with fundamentalism and particularly IFB is that it among all other sects and denominations holds to tenets which give it the potential to surpass their peers. But things like KJVism, church growthism, indiscriminate evangelism, Philosopher Kingism, light cessationisn or Charismaticism light and intrusive and unbiblical accountabilibuddyism needs to be remedied along with a major emphasis on exegesis and excommunication of Pastors from cooperating groups or even a denominatory formation before the IFB can largely be identified as healthy.

Alex Guggenheim said...

The above should read:

"a major emphasis on exegesis in communication"