Monday, August 28, 2006

Passionate Peacockery versus Christ-Centered Preaching


Over the past decade since I graduated from Hyles Anderson College in 1995, my philosophy of ministry has undergone a complete transformation--some may even refer to it as an Extreme Fundamental Makeover! Many of the "doctrines" that were preached ad nauseum as "fundamentals of the faith" during my upbringing I have since found out were nothing more than emotional dynamite to excite a raucous Sunday evening congregation. Jack Hyles taught that preaching more often than not needed to be shouting and that all good and effective sermons were topical in nature. Jack Hyles decried the expository sermon as nothing more than a lecture. They were boring, ineffective, unbiblical and "dry/dead as last year's Christmas tree"! I bought into this foolishness as a young lad and it took some gracious de-programming by the LORD to place me back on the right path. One of the areas in my own system of beliefs where the greatest change has taken place is in this matter of preaching--what is the difference between a "Man-Centered" sermon and a "Christ-Centered" sermon? Over the past 10 years my thinking on this topic has been completely transformed.

Two Sunday evenings ago I had the chance to watch about 20 minutes of the live video feed from First Baptist Church of Hammond. What I saw was nothing new--only the cast of characters has changed. I have many memories of Jack Hyles prancing around on stage and commanding the attention of thousands with a seemingly endless stream of comical personal illustrations. What I saw this past Sunday evening was nothing short of Passionate Peacockery. Again I wish that I had thought of this keen image--I cannot lie. This is an analogy that my brother Josh relayed to me just before he left FBCH. The cobwebs had been removed and he called me one night and with all due respect mentioned that Pastor Schaap strutted around on stage like a peacock in full bloom! As we have reflected on our years in Hammond this analogy has stuck and for good reason--I highly recommend that those of you who doubt our analysis check out the FBCH website during one of their scheduled services.

One of the things we all need to keep in mind is that the First Baptist Church of Hammond is a college church--it was when I was growing up there and it is even more so today. The college is the machine that keeps everything clipping along. These dear college folks have a hunger for what they believe to be "red hot preaching". I believe that this is one of the reasons that the typical service at FBCH is more like a college chapel service or pep rally. (I realize that FBCH became the World's Largest Sunday School without HAC, but at the present time FBCH is made up almost exclusively of people who came to Hammond in order to train for the full-time ministry at HAC. Countless former college students and graduates put down their roots for decades in Hammond and they crave the kind of preaching that we are going to look at today).

Those in Hammond will try to tell you that they are just teeming with new and excited "middle class" converts. They will try to convince you that they have new Sunday School classes that have pulled in literally hundreds yea thousands of new middle class couples who are being assimilated into the church family on a regular basis--DO NOT BELIEVE IT. For the most part there has simply been a reshuffling of the deck to populate these new classes. I digress.

In a previous post Josh mentioned the penchant that those at FBCH and HAC have for "red hot preaching". I would like to build upon that first post concerning this topic and provide a link for your investigation. Many of you have never experienced the kind of IFBxdom that Josh and I were raised in--here is your chance to learn a little more about these folks and what the focus of their ministry truly is.

I want to direct you all to a couple of gems that I have had the chance to listen to over the past couple of weeks. The first sermon is titled, "Mistakes of the Modern Ministry", and has some very interesting items missing from its content--here is the link to listen to it for yourself so you know that I am not just making this stuff up.

You will notice that among other things, Pastor Schaap lays down the "fundamentals" as he sees them of the "old-time religion." His list includes the heresy of King James Onlyism, emphasis on external "standards", traditional music, and soulwinning! He would classify all of these as "non-negotiables". He goes on to make the claim that a non-soulwinner is worse in the eyes of God than a gambler or an adulterer--simply unbelievable! These are statements that I remember Jack Hyles making, but I had never heard Pastor Schaap mention these things until this sermon. Pastor Schaap goes on to drive the point home that the Gideons and those who print Bibles and put them in the hands of the lost are not doing very much good--he reasons that those Bibles are in hotel rooms and people are still going into these rooms and committing all sorts of sexual sins and drinking liquor from the mini-bar--in Schaap's opinion a fiery soulwinner is much more powerful and vital to ministry than 100,000 copies of the Word of God!

Does anyone see the continual elevation of man and downplaying of the Eternal Word here? Certainly we all ought to be better witnesses than we are, but these careless statements give more proof that Pastor Schaap truly is by his own admission, "winging it" every week at FBCH.

What we want everyone to explore is the content, style, and method of preaching that these folks in the clutches of IFBxdom employ. I have no problem with a preacher raising his voice or getting excited about a truth--the problem is that when the typical IFBXer preaches, he is floating around in an exegetical vacuum and proud of it! Notice the lack of true Biblical exegesis and the abundance of rank eisegesis. Pastor Schaap mentions some things that are very true about the state of the modern church--I do not disagree with every point that he makes--our point is that this is nothing more than a pep rally of sorts to stir up the college kids. It is man-centered to the very core and the proof is to just simply watch the next video feed from FBCH--you will find Passionate Peacockery and not a shred of Biblical and Christocentric exegesis.

What else did you take away from this sermon? Are we just being too hard on FBCH because of our history there? Does anyone else notice the peacockery or are we simply seeing what we want to see? Sometimes I have to rewind some of the statements just to be sure I am hearing them correctly--unfortunately all my fears are confirmed upon further review. Next time we will look at another sermon that will have all God-fearing believers in tears--either of laughter or of sincere sorrow. Stay tuned...

Phineas

19 comments:

reglerjoe said...

Every once in awhile I listen to a HAC chapel sermon (via the internet) just to keep abreast of the Hammond happenings.

The lack of sound biblical interpretation is appalling. I remember in "Preaching I" we were taught to get our sermons from our text. Somewhere between classroom concept and real life application, the notion of biblical preaching has been lost.

I call this type of preaching "sermon text dislocation". (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT): I recently posted about this subject on my blog.

Don Fields said...

Every time I listen to one of these type of sermons I thank God for this blog and others like it. If you can rescue just a few Christians from this hysteric brand of fundamentalism than God bless you. Keep it up! May we be rescued from such buffoonery as this! UNBELIEVABLE!

PT Barnum said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PT Barnum said...

Sorry about the glitch. I was trying to post the link to Joe's series of posts on Sermon Injuries. Here it is again:

big orange truck

Fundamentally Reformed said...

I've seen a few peacocks in my day too. Had my Bible signed by a few.

Good post, guys. Keep it up!

God bless.

Edward said...

I truly pitty most of you. Wouldn't your energy be better spent on something that builds up rather than tearing down? I don't know why I keep coming back to this dump, but I believe it might be to show me that those of you "enlightend" people have serious issues. Dr. Schaap went out of his way during that sermon to make the point that it was not going to be a typicall service...no doubt you want to give the impresion that all services in Hammond are this flavour. Pastor Schaap has been preaching about Prayer...a series of sermons! Isn't that what you "enlightened fundametnalists" prefer? I am thrilled to be a part of FBC and believe it to be the greatest church of our day. When you read or hear about what is going on here it is almost just like reading the book of Acts...this is the kind of place that I want to be serving God. Keep taking your potshots and dumping things off of your chhest...we will just keep serving the Saviour and bringing forth fruit that remains.

If soulwinning is the most important thing in the world, then failing to go is the greatest offense. I know this is a complicated thing to grasp, but Proverbs 11:30 is still in MY Bible..not sure if it is in all of the others that most here use. What is wrong with a preacher keeping people's attention by walking around on the platform? I fail to see how this translate to a peacock strutting around the stage...as Dr. Hyles used to say, "It isn't the way the preacher said it that bothered you, but WHAT the preacher said!" You guys seem to take issue with the fact that FBC is old fashioned and you guys are mostly alined with a combination of New Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism. I for one think we all need to return to the old paths instead of trying to get cute...Pastor Schaap isn't afraid to say it like it is and I respect him for that. (I also agree with him 99.9% of the time). Ed

PT Barnum said...

Ed,

Glad to see that you are reading our blog religiously! Until you actually leave Hammond you probably will not see the peacockery. My prayer is that you will begin to notice some of these things even while in the midst of IFBxdom. Once you leave the place you begin to read the Bible without the IFBX filter and the LORD truly removes all the cobwebs from your mind.

You know as well as I that the typical Sunday service at FBCH is much more pop psychology than scripture and on Sunday evening you will be caught in the middle of a pep rally IFBX style! Most of the people who attend FBCH have grown accustomed to this sort of style and if you did not have it you would feel as if you were being short-changed.

Next time you hear Pastor Schaap preach I want you to do something--count how many times he mentions his own prayer life or soulwinning or Bible reading or child rearing or counseling or etc...compare that against how many times he mentions the LORD Jesus Christ and His Glory.

Another good test is to count how many times during the next month Pastor Schaap refers to the Biblical fruit of a Christian as found in the Pauline epistles vs. the IFBx figment of Proverbs 11:30 "fruit". Let us know what you come up with--don't let Schaap see you with your pen and paper out--he might think you are one of us!

Matthew

Joshua R said...

Edward,
Upon reading your latest comment, my reply to you would be that you simply MUST be a troll. I don't want that to be true, but I fear that it is.

If not, please visit us again at B & C!

P.S. Can you please show Scriptural support by a sound hermeneutic for your assertion that "soulwinning (FBCH-style, of course) is the most important thing in the world"?

reglerjoe said...

Ed said:
Dr. Hyles used to say, "It isn't the way the preacher said it that bothered you, but WHAT the preacher said!"

You are absolutely right. Actually, it's sometimes both.

BeckyJoie said...

Ed, I also want to remind you to study that verse in Proverbs in context and see what it really is saying.

Mike Hess said...

Edward,

No, what is going on at FBCH is NOT like reading the book of Acts. In Acts I find the early church making disciples of lost and unregenerate people, not people being coerced into praying some fabricated prayer for a free dinner with Schaap in all of his glory.

Please do me big favor Ed if you don't mind while your here visiting this "dump" - show me in the book of Acts where dubious and carnal promotions are used as a motivating factor, show me where people are being coerced into praying the infamous "sinner's prayer", show me the evidence that the early church had literally hundreds of thousands of "professions" that showed absolutely NO fruit and had no idea as to what the implications of the Gospel were.

This is a small homework assignment for you that I hope you take me up on. In the meantime, I hope you have a fabulous day!

Mike

jms said...

I'll share my story (which should probably be on the Lifetime Channel for Women...HA):
My EX-husband (yes, I am divorced. I'm sure I'll loose alot of fundamental readers right here)...my ex-husband attended "Pastor's School", some week-long "conference" at Hyles Anderson. It was there he was "called to preach". He then attended an Independent Baptist college in Ohio to become a pastor. He was 23. I was 16. He was the "cream of the crop" at the college...sat down in the front row, said "AMEN" in his deep loud voice during every sermon...active on the bus route...always around those little kids...so concerned for their souls was he. We dated. He was so charming (the term "grooming" is more appropriate). Long story short...he was the true wolf in sheep's clothing, with a heavy pornography addiction, extremely violent, manipulative, sadistic and such a con-artist. The end of which, 10 years later, with 3 kids and living in a single-wide trailer with huge holes in the floor, while the Ex worked at the XXX Adult Store in town (the only job he would make an effort to get). He was so violent and abusive, physically, emotionally and sexually. What made me stay so long was the "God can change anyone" mentality and the "keep praying", "be submissive", etc. I finally realized that the Lord also cared about my safety and health, and the safety and health of my children. I left him, with $5 in my pocket and my children, and never looked back. Today, I am happily remarried, my children are beautiful and sweet. I am not a fundamentalist, I actually attend a Methodist church. My EX-husband: still a Baptist, still sitting in the front row yelling amen, and still beating up women (including a 62 year old clerk at a pet store). He is also $25,000+ behind in child support and (thank God) has not seen my children in over 3 years. He now wants visitation and custody rights, but I pray that the Lord will protect us and allow us to be the family unit that we are, and keep the Sick Pervert far away from us. My EX probably taught Sunday School in your church, or did a Vacation Bible School at your church...oooh he "loved children". As much of a sexual deviant that he was, it makes me sick to think why.
Watch out! Churches are the perfect place for pedophiles and abusers to hide - because people are way too accepting in churches (all you have to do is yell AMEN or tell some smoke-screen emotional story like Hyles did - my ex was sooo good at that!). Church people are not very discerning. Many of the men in fundamental churches are there because they like how the women are kept in a box and not a threat to their fragile egos or controlling jealous minds. My EX to this day tells people in his church that I left him for another man, was an Adultress, etc. etc. So far from the truth. I did NOT commit adultry. I left him for: a domestic violence shelter, at which I found peace, quiet, safety, acceptance, and a good night sleep for over 6 years now.
I'D LOVE TO SEE THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES TO START ADDRESSING THE REAL PROBLEMS OF TODAY. The statistics are staggering.

PT Barnum said...

jms,

Glad to see you have made it through the very difficult days in the past. I have absolutely no patience for that type of "man". Although the roles of men and women in a NT church or a family are not exactly the same, the clear teaching of Scripture is that a husband honor and cherish his wife. I am sorry that you did not find this in your ex-husband. I am thrilled to hear that you have found it in your husband today.

I don't want to try to analyze someone's motives or thoughts for teaching something, but I do believe that there is definitely some truth to some of your conclusions. It seems like there are a lot of "Archie Bunkers" and Ralph Kramdens" within the ranks of the hysteric fundies. You will probably find these cowards in a lot of different denominations as well--I believe when we find them within our own circles that we need to confront them, notify the proper authorities, and discipline them swiftly.

I agree that many like this can easily find refuge and a safe harbor within the more extreme fundamental churches--the heavy focus on externals makes it a perfect place to "look and act the part" while stalking your prey. Thank God that many churches are running full background checks now that did not a decade or so ago.

My good friend, Voyle Glover, wrote a book on this very topic. I will find the link and post it in a follow up comment. Come back and see us again!

Matthew

Steve Minton said...

Poor poor Eddy. You keep winding that spring too tight, you're gonna break it. You say we have issues; your posts, for the most part, scream rage and anger. Chill out dude.

First of all, I'd like to address a few of your comments. One is about spending time building up instead of tearing down. Sometimes a building is so damaged, repairing it would not only be a waste of time and money, but certainly would be dangerous. Second of all, no one's holding a gun to your head to come back to this blog. You come back because you can't help yourself; just admit it. We all know it, so you might as well just admit it to yourself.

Hyles screamed and yelled through just about every sermon I've heard him preach. I learned from an early age how to sleep through them in spite of the screaming and yelling. What good does the screaming and spitting and strutting really do? Seems to me it's a poor attempt to put some life into what would otherwise be either a boring or empty sermon. Most likely empty. I can compare this type of preaching to reading a good history book versus a comic book. Sure, the history book could be tedious at times, but in the end, you put it down thinking you've learned something you didn't know before. The comic book, well, entertaining, for sure. But it's fluff, and frankly, to me, a waste of time. And what do you take away from it? Nothing.

Again, let me state: I feel sorry for Pastor Schaap. If he doesn't scream yell spit cough and strut like Hyles, people will leave. There's nothing wrong with "saying it like it is". But HOW it's said is still important. We are adults, not children. We don't need to be screamed at. The longer and louder you scream, the less people listen to what you're saying.

Poor poor Eddy.

BeckyJoie said...

Jms, your story sounds an aweful lot like my story with a few minor changes. I've heard of many women from HAC whose stories match ours and it permanently affected their lives. You are correct that certain types of people are drawn to certain types of environments. Certain belief systems cause certain stereotypes of genders and races. For instance, my ex thinks all women with hair shorter than their shoulders are feminists. He thinks a woman is unsubmissive if she is educated or has an opinion. Some churches actually think that women can't pray out loud or give praise to the Lord in the church. It took me years to get over the stereotypes and see myself as ok and loved by God. Most of the false belief systems are smothered in pride, one person thinking they are better than another. The others feeling like they are less than whoever is teaching the false doctrines or misinterpretation of Scripture. Spousal abuse is based on false belief systems and pride. The other problem is that often the people strutting like peacocks on stage do not practice what they preach behind closed doors. (My ex was one of these Preacher boys and in spite of what he preached, he practiced the exact opposite when not in view. Many of the harmful people from HAC did the same thing. We don't have to name names. Their victims' stories have been validated in U. S. supreme and crimnal courts as well as told in the news.)

I thank God that not everyone who came out of that place is evil. I thank God for people like these here at FBCH Bread and Circuses who are not perpetuating the false teaching and practices.

Ed, it appears that you are strutting like a peacock about your church.

PT Barnum said...

here is the link to Voyle Glover's book:

Voyle's New Book

Sam H. said...

Ringmasters,
I appreciate what you gents do here at B & C. Listening to the preaching at FBCH reminds me of their inimitable musical "The Stone Hewn from the Mountain." Everytime I visit your site to see what you are up to, I end up humming that song! Aiiieee...

PT Barnum said...

sam,

we remember that very well--I was there in all my glory for that service! That was the same Pastor's School where Pastor Hyles threw Bibles into the crowd and encouraged the pastors to rip them to shreds! I would love to find that service on wmv so that we could post it--truly amazing stuff. Have a wonderful LORD's Day!

Matthew

Robert said...

I found it hilarious that he gave the page number in "your Scofield Bible" for the sermion text. Using Scofield's version is part of their problem, IMO.(But that's a topic for another day!)