The tragic happenings associated with the arrest, guilty plea, and sentencing of Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond are a sad spectacle. Well before any of this blew up, I’d expressed my opposition to Schaap’s ministry and toward ministerial fellowship and cooperation with him. I’ll not rehash that here, but will note that the outcome, sadly, really isn’t shocking given the perverse way in which he handled God’s Word.
I recently read a letter from one Jack Hyles’s daughters that was painful, in many ways, to read. In it, she expresses regret for not speaking out against her father’s excesses, especially in light of the ultimate tragedy connected to her brother-in-law, Jack Schaap. You can read it for yourself here.
I don’t know Linda Murphrey, and I am pretty sure I wouldn’t agree with her on many things. What I do know, though, is that this is an incredible letter. And I know that there should be many men serving as pastors and leaders within the various Fundamentalist orbits that should be ashamed of themselves. The sins of Jack Hyles were not hidden, and I am not just referring to the ones brought forward by Robert Sumner and others. Hyles was a liar and people around him knew it. I figured it out when I was a college student because I made the mistake of believing and repeating one of his stories only to find out that it was completely false. I simply cannot believe that the people around him did not see these things. I also can’t believe that the leaders of other organizations and institutions didn’t see the problems.
Linda Murphrey’s regret about not speaking out sooner should be felt by those who didn’t speak up. And a new generation should be warned by this mess, leading to a fresh, firm resolve to not let it happen again. The “it” to which I refer is not that a pastor will fall or some abusive leader will emerge. The “it” is the silence of men who know better and should have acted. Nobody is above accountability to God’s Word. Nobody.
That men like Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap can keep their places of influence is the fault of their followers and those along side of them who refuse to do what God says. That certain segments, perhaps most, of the old Fundamentalist coalitions allowed such ungodliness to go unchallenged is one of its worst blemishes. I wish I were sure that those days are gone, but I’m not. They need to be, but they won’t unless there is a higher commitment to God and His Word than our “circles” and institutions.
God wrote Mene Mene Tekel Parsin on the walls of Jack’s office long before the piled up garbage spilled out. Braggadocios claims about numbers or pulpit bravado about being God’s man shouldn’t cause people to ignore biblical qualifications. It is well past time to put to death the false idea that apparent blessings serve as some kind of divine endorsement. It is also well past time to recognize that the ministries of men like the two Jacks have given God’s enemies cause to blaspheme, and that people who are genuinely concerned about the Faith once to the saints delivered will separate themselves from those who continue to promote and perpetuate their unbiblical beliefs and practices.