Psalm 138:6 "For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar."
We want to get things back on track here at Bread and Circuses--the last couple of weeks have been filled with laughter and sadness over the man-worship going on among those on the fringes of Christian Fundamentalism. As I thought and meditated on this tragic philosophy, I came across a couple of articles that stirred my thoughts.
If you are looking for the headquarters of the Cultural Fundamentalists, you need look no further than First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. Recently I had the joy of reading a blog article that reminded me of the many years I spent smack-dab in the middle of IFBXdom. I found this article by way of Sharper Iron and it was written by Dr. Sean Michael Lucas of Covenant Theological Seminary in Saint Louis, Missouri. Dr. Lucas is a BJU and Westminster Theological Seminary graduate and conservative Presbyterian. He was commenting on the recent Youth Conference video that we highlighted a few weeks ago--his comments reached back into my memory banks and brought to thought some themes that I heard on a regular basis growing up as a hysterical Baptist. He mentioned the connection he has noticed between some Fundamentalists and their typical cult-like following of a "muscular personality". If you have not read his post yet I would highly recommend that you give it your attention.
FBCH was and still is led by a pastor who loves to invoke his similarities to a "rootin' tootin' cowboy" or "spiritual renegade". There was and still are certain elements of machismo and imperiousness, not to mention the standard braggadocio and swagger that goes along with being the "biggest and best in the world." The stories I heard growing up were of Jack Hyles, Lee Roberson, John Rice, and Lester Roloff being "kicked out" of the SBC. Another story I heard ad nauseum was that "Preacher x" was a sissy because he wore a dress to lecture his church on Sunday morning. Often times "Preacher x's" name was changed to reflect a woman's name in order to incite more hootin' and hollerin' from the crowd. Pastor Hyles would say things about how the pulpit was his and if he wanted to split his britches on his pulpit that it was his business--the deacons were to stay out of his preachin' or else there was going to be a gunfight at sundown in Dodge! There was one bit Jack Hyles did where he would say "some of you here think I shouldn't call names when I'm preachin'...OK then don't you ever do it!" The idea that Hyles was a rebel with a cause--to save America and your future children and grandchildren from the evils of everything not associated with his empire--was pushed on a regular basis. Now FBCHers are fed a steady diet of these same old Hyles stories as well as legends of Pastor Schaap and his adventures at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College--Pastor Schaap wanted the power of God and these dead and dry "neos" ran him off because he was a zealous soulwinner!? Someone really ought to produce a full length movie about these men--the comedic value would be priceless!
Some of you may wonder why all the emphasis on Jack Hyles since he has been dead and gone for years--first of all, it is the culturalists who keep bringing up his "legacy". The Youth Conference video is a perfect example, but not an isolated incident. Secondly, you would be hard pressed to listen to a sermon by Jack Schaap and NOT find a reference to Jack Hyles and his "legacy"--his muscular memory is still very powerful to those in IFBXdom and Pastor Schaap takes every opportunity to keep that alive. What is most troubling is the fact that Pastor Schaap is also perceived as a muscular personality in his own rite. I would encourage everyone here to take the time to listen to some of his sermons at the Baptist City website.
I am an independent baptistic neo-fundamentalist--I do not identify anymore with the muscular personalities on the fringes of Fundamentalism and their silly personal fiefdoms as Dr. Lucas described them. I believe that man-centered philosophies of ministry and muscular personalities are intrinsically linked to one another--these teachings should be abhorred and denounced with vigor by Christ followers whenever and wherever they are detected.
Psalm 12:3 NASB "May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts,"