Sunday, September 17, 2006

"The Duke" and the Cultural Fundies

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,"

Phineas

13 comments:

Edward said...

Unbelieveable stuff...if FBC said that the sky was blue you guys would deny it! Talk about straining at nats! Do yourself a favour and listen to Dr. Schaap's sermon from last night...I believe that you all may be surprised by his level headed approach to prayer. Pastor Schaap also made mention of others in Fundamentalism that he thinks are getting the job done. Kind of blows away your idea about him being an isolated island on the fringes of fundamentalism! If I ever thought I had all the answers to everything I would write a how to book or just get out and do it instead of beating dead horses day in and day out. Your poems were not funny at all and the latest post just shows your compormise. The springboard for your post is an article by a Presbyterian? You really want us fundamentalists to take what you say seriously? The Presbyterians have been bad for a long time now...they are as apostate as they come. You proved my point that you guys are not fundamentalists...you can say you are all you like but I have never seen one believe as you do. Ed

JK said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rabbi-philosopher said...

If you wish to hear a serious, serious message by a guy nobody would ever confuse with a macho cowboy here it is!
http://www.sbts.edu/MP3/fall2006/20060822mohler.mp3
It'll flat knock your socks off. The depth, the passion the exposition; it's all there.

Fundamentally Reformed said...

Ed said: The springboard for your post is an article by a Presbyterian? You really want us fundamentalists to take what you say seriously? The Presbyterians have been bad for a long time now...they are as apostate as they come....

Ed,

You are ignorant of some facts about Presbyterians. The PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) and the OPC (The Orthodox Presbyterian Church) are reactionary groups (separatist in origin) which have no affiliations with the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church USA). The PCUSA is as liberal as they come for the most part (like you state). But the PCA (started around 1980 I believe), however, is a group of very, very conservative believers. Many (possibly most) PCA people would have a problem with anything at all like a contemporary music sound being used in worship services. They celebrate hymns and cherish the conservative traditions of the past. Many of their churches read a chapter or more of the Bible publically together as part of the service. Then they preach (usually expositionally) through another book of the Bible during their sermons. These are Bible loving, conservative evangelical believers--not liberals.

Historic fundamentalism has always included presbyterians and never separated over the issue of Baptism. Why? Because the Presbyterian view of baptism is not at all like the Roman Catholic view that baptism is essential to or an element of salvation.

Presbyterians believe that members of the covenant community (believers) must get baptized and so they baptize their children. But Presbyterians and Baptists agree that adult converts should be baptized upon conversion. Baptists view their children as de facto members of the church family (even though they refuse communion to them until they get saved). The Presbyterians only make this implicit membership explicit through baptizing them into the church. They still believe with Baptists that the children must exercise personal faith on their own (and I believe Presbyterians for the most part do not let non professing believers--the children not yet saved--partake of communion). They get their beliefs from the connection between the OT and NT along with passages such as Col. 2:11-12.

So, Ed, you are just plain wrong in that assumption that citing and using a Presbyterian's work proves that Matt and Josh Richards are not true fundamentalists. In fact this is a case in point in how fundamentalism has been redefined by the cultural extremists like Hyles and his following. They redefine it to mean something like Baptist only (among other points).

Do you seriously deny that their is undue exaltation of Jack Hyles taking place? Where in the New Testament is there such a high view of leadership--a near adoration of them? What other church leaders in the past promoted such a high veneration of themselves, like Hyles did? What other leaders in the past publically bragged about their own walk with the Lord and life experiences as much as Hyles and Schaap do?

Fundamentally Reformed said...

Matthew said, 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!

Matthew,

This is an example of obsession with loyalty and viewing the church as one's own personal ministry. People who cause problems are seen as trying to ruin or hinder "MY ministry", etc.

There are plenty of rumors and storys (probably true from the numbers of them) about various churches in this wing of fundamentalism of such things as pastors storming into dissenting church members houses' with all the deacons present to put a stop to any dissension. And it is a well known fact that many of these kinds of churches have a strange connection to guns. At the church college I went to, it was rumored that three men in every service had a concealed weapon on them just in case they would have to protect their preacher. This is a "Cowboy Western" mentality indeed. [This is not to say that concealed weapons are wrong and it is true in years gone by there had been threats on the life of the pastor, but nevertheless to me this seems a little strange.]

James Spurgeon in his book about Texas Baptist College talks of a chapel pastor brandishing a gun occasionally in services, while he preached against communists, etc. Also, it is a well known fact that J. Frank Norris had a confrontation with someone where he used a gun (I can't remember if he ended up shooting it or not).

Yes, there is an unhealthy connection between masculinity and leadership. Where does the priniciple of servant leadership that Christ taught and modelled come in to play in this system? I know that in the eyes of many, "turning the other cheek" would be a sissy thing to do. But isn't that what is expected, indeed required of us?

Thanks for a great post.

Bob Hayton

P.S. I recently posted on this article over on my blog, too. The article really was a great read.

PT Barnum said...

Bob,

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your regular visits to our little corner of the blogosphere! BTW, I am going to stop by the Ringling Bros. Circus this weekend in Indianapolis to get some more good pictures and ideas.

I enjoyed your post along these same lines and thanks for linking to it in your comments. This cowboy mentality is so far from a humble Christ-centered attitude it isn't even funny. I thank God for a humble pastor who truly serves and ministers according to the Scriptures.

Keep up the good work over at FR!

Matthew

Baptist Crusader said...

Heard about another Hyles-type here in Cali who used to run with Gray, Neal, and the real weirdo's of IFBXdom, but now he's Paul Chappell's friend again. He has a church not too far from Lancaster. His Spanish Pastor was causing him problems and left the church taking a few with him. He said that he liked to fight, and he didn't like to fight fair. So the preacher found some court records of the former Spanish pastor from before he was saved. He apparently had been in trouble with the law over a Pee-Wee Herman kind of act in public. Then he made copies of it and emailed it to everyone in the church. I got this info from the fundy pastor's brother. The sad thing is, this pastor had just been forgiven by the court himself for owning illegal fire-arms and didn't have to spend time in the big house. It kinda reminds me of the evil servant who was forgiven a million dollars, but choked his servant for his $10.00 debt.

PT Barnum said...

Hyles used to laugh about people who would defend him with physical force. He would brag endlessly about guys who would punch you in the puss if you said anything about the man O gawd! What a shame to the name of Christ!

Matthew

Mike Hess said...

Ed,

Just to let you know...before your "hero" the John Wayne of fundamentalism (Jack Hyles) fell off of the deep end, I am sure that he understood the value of fellowshipping with other evangelicals who could make productive contributions to the cause of the gospel.

One of the main reasons that you would not like conservative Presbyterians would be the fact that they would tear up and down the faulty soteriology that produces your tens of thousands of "converts" that regularly walk the aisle at FBCH on a consistent basis.

BTW - I recently heard that your church had 48,000 people in saved in one 24 hour period. With that being said, why did you have literally tens of thousands of people who were regenerate who did not want to follow the Lord and be immersed in believer's baptism?

Come on Ed...let's get serious here. Your shovel is getting dull and you are just digging holes for yourself that you simply cannot get out of.

Have a fabulous day!

Mike

Ripclaw said...

Matt and Josh,

Do you remember those Jack Hyles masks? They had the picture of Jack on a postcard with the nose cut out. I found mine along with the picture they took of our 3rd grade Sunday School class as we posed with our masks on. We all felt like we were getting a Lone Ranger mask. I was so excited to get mine!

What a joke! Anyone who claims that Jack Hyles did not encourage man worship is simply ignoring the truth. I am ashamed and appalled at the tactics used to brainwash individuals into worshipping their beloved "man of God." I never once heard Jack Hyles downplay this worship. He always encouraged it.

I remember during the years of controversy that Hyles would march men across the platform who received a black eye from a fight when they defended their preacher. Oh the memories!

Ripclaw

Fundamentally Reformed said...

Matt,

Be sure to take a shot of the 40 foot tall mural of Jack Hyles' lovely face that adorns the side of one of their buildings. Or have they taken that down when they put up their new building?

Steve Minton said...

Hey folks, you gotta love Edward. Mr. Hit-and-Run. He hits with a "scathing" comment. Then when he's asked a question or asked to prove some statement he's made, you never see him again until the next post by the guys. Then the whole process repeats itself.

Typical fundy reaction. But to me it speaks volumes about him. He has no defense against the "charges" put forward about FBC. Nothing new there; neither Hyles nor Schaap nor anyone there in a position of authority has made any type of credible defense against what's been said and asked about the church.

So Ed's in good company......

Voyle Glover said...

Interesting analogy. Never thought of it that way, but I think you're dead on target.

Indeed, one of my biggest criticisms of Fundamentalism (IFBx) is their reliance on the flesh, i.e., the "muscular" Christian.