On Wednesday night, August 15, 2012, my dear friend and brother in Christ Jim Binney brought a very Biblical and convicting message, which every Christian should listen to especially in this day and time. He made a number of excellent observations at the FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH of Hammond, IN. The message was timely and dealt with some important issues facing their church in the wake of the recent scandal regarding their dismissed pastor Jack Schaap.
There are however several concerns I have NOT with what Brother Binney said, but with possible reactions and a jerking of the wheel response. Many good men say things, with which I totally agree, but some take them and misuse them in a way that causes harm. Brother Binney's use of Scripture and the handling of the situation is outstanding and I commend him for it. This is NO WAY intended to bring any negative thoughts to his words. I have noticed throughout the years a tendency to overreact in ways that can be detrimental.
I have been in this work now for over 40 years so I have seen good turned into bad a number times over the years. I realize that this message will probably NOT influence FBC, but there are dozens of pastors God has allowed me to have influence with. I seek to be a blessing and a help to them.
This situation is not merely a local matter. It has rocked the entire independent Baptist world. 37,000 plus people have visited this BLOG so far this month. Many are pastors who are seeking help in time of a great need in their lives and ministries. Here are some thoughts and cautionary concerns.
- SEEKING ERROR FROM THE PULPIT IN OUR FLESH - It is a danger when we go to church looking for error in the preaching and teaching. Your spirit should be so sensitive to truth and familiar with truth that when the Spirit of God convicts you of error you should respond by correcting any error in your own life. When we are in tune with God and His Word we will have more of a tendency to be aware when error is preached. Where there is possible doctrinal error being preached go and TALK to the preacher. Get an explanation! Do not be obsessed for it is NOT our job to go to church looking for error. I fear some will become doctrinal vigilantes setting themselves as the policemen of truth and creating dissension in their church.
- QUESTIONING THE APPLICATION - We must be careful that we do not get into a game of arguing opinions of truth rather than the truth itself. If we are not careful we may start questioning everything based upon our opinions of application rather than the truth. How we apply the pure truth is important, but it can be subject to some differences. Dr. Jack Hyles was a man who believed in tolerance to those who were tolerant. He did not ask everyone to agree, but he did expect them to allow him to disagree as well. Preferences should not cause division in the local church. If a member feels the pastor has a preference with which they disagree they should not attempt to correct him.
- ASSUMING NUMBERS ARE BAD - Dr. Binney did not say that, nor do I believe he intended for us to negatively judge a church that is being blessed by God with great growth. Size may not be the ultimate proof of God's blessings, but it may be a proof of our response to His commands. Dr. Hyles built a great soul winning church and God chose to bless those Bible principles he used. The result was great growth. We need great churches and some of them will grow more than others. Be careful that we do not condemn those which are huge and those which are not. Yes, there is a danger to make numbers the ultimate goal of our ministry and that is where the danger lies, but smallness is likewise not a proof we are pleasing God.
- CHANGING OUR DIRECTIONS RATHER THAN CHANGING SOME OF OUR BEHAVIORS - Dr. Hyles used to say, "Life is a series of minor adjustments." Without the adjustments we may wreck, but if we overreact we likewise may wreck. My fear is that in an attempt to handle a situation correctly we will fundamentally change how we should behave as a New Testament church. I believe in accountability within a local church. However, many of our critics are calling for accountability outside of the local church. THAT IS NOT BIBLICAL, nor does it coincide with our convictions regarding the autonomy of the church. Do we need to become more accountable within the local church? Perhaps, but do not fail to recognize that denominationalists would have us become less independent and more denominational. Our country does not need more laws rather we need to enforce the ones we have. God gave us the internal controls for His church and outside of that is danger to the local church.
- LOOKING BACK AND JUDGING THE PAST WHEN THE PAST HAS BEEN JUDGED - FBC in Hammond has been in a downturn for a number of years. Do not make the mistake and decide that the entire past was a mistake. Dr. Hyles was blessed of God. FBC would be wise to return to what he preached and believed. If they do not return then those of us who remain true to what Dr. Hyles taught, MUST stay true to the past Biblical principles that worked. Our enemies are attempting to condemn the entire past because of their hatred of IFB churches. This is how movements are fundamentally changed. They first distort the history and then lead us astray. While Dr. Trieber reminded FBC of the heritage they had with Dr. Hyles it did concern me that Brother Binney seemed to shy away from that history of FBC. I hope I am mistaken, but I would be amiss if I did not remind all of us that Brother Hyles DID NOT use Dr. Binney because of a few fundamental but important issues. He loved him just as I believe Brother Binney loved Dr. Hyles, but there were reasons he did not speak at FBC until AFTER Dr. Hyles went to Heaven.
- IGNORING OUR OWN SINS - In all of the things Brother Binney said one that really convicted me was the fact that many allowed Jack Schaap to get away with severe errors while sitting under his leadership and did nothing. I reevaluated my reactions to the things where I knew Jack Schaap had erred and wondered if there was more I could have done to help be that "Nathan" he spoke of, with it being more than just praying. Then, I wonder how we rationalize the attacks on men like Dr. Tom Neal when he exposed Jack's serious doctrinal errors regarding tithing? While I may not agree with the timing or manner in which it was handled at the time the question must be asked did we ignore the facts and just turn our heads from the serious error Jack was teaching? Yes! How about those preachers who were criticized and even lashed out at who finally split with Jack Schaap, NOT based upon personality, but on doctrine and principle? How about the staff men who sat and listened without discerning the errors or if they did discern the errors they did not confront their pastor regardless of the consequences? My hats off to Brother Binney for raising these questions.
- FORGETTING THOSE WHO WERE VILIFIED FOR TAKING A STAND OVER ISSUES OF ERROR - There are MANY and I could provide a long list who were viciously attacked for taking a position against the doctrinal errors of Jack Schaap. Russell Anderson, Jim Vineyard, Shelton Smith, Jeff Fugate, R B Ouellette, Bill Wininger, Gail Riplinger, Dave Baker, Jon Jenkins, Dean Miller Sr., Allen Domelle, Mickey Carter, Keith Gomez, and others were attacked and in some cases smeared by Schaap and the staff in Hammond, because they did what was right and dared to question Schaap about his doctrinal errors. Hammond needs to be aware and remain aware of the fact there were many MANY who believed there was a day of reckoning coming and we attempted to warn them and others. Families were split over the doctrinal error, not the immoral error. Churches were split over doctrinal error, not over the immoral error. HAC alumnus were split over doctrinal error, not over the immoral error. The stories of Jack Schaap's abuse runs deeper than one girl. It is a tragic thing of what happened to this 16 year old. However, Jack Schaap's abuse extends to hundreds of people who because they would not fall in line were hurt, smeared or alienated. Jack Schaap WAS warned! Make no mistake about it! Now, I give Brother Binney the benefit of the doubt for he may not have been aware of the battle raging around the nation over Jack Schaap's bold in your face doctrinal errors. I am convinced that many of the good people in Hammond were unaware of the 6 to 8 pages of venomous diatribes, in letter form, against pastors who disagreed. I am wondering if Brother Binney and the others still hold to the attack on the inspiration of the King James Bible? Just wondering? Are they at FBC going to address the doctrinal errors including the attack on the KJB?
- WORRYING ABOUT THE WRONG THING - Brother Binney made a statement that hurt me with its truthfulness. "FBC in Hammond has lost its credulity in this nation." That is a heartbreaking truth to me. Allow me to say Jack Hyles was not in a constant fight to be credible. I believe Jack Schaap was! Had Schaap merely pastored his church rather than attempting to prove to all of us that he was the mantle bearer for the nation perhaps this all would not have happened. There is a warning to all of us that our reputation and credibility is a gift of God for our faithfulness not a right of inheritance. Too many men are far too interested in creating a national ministry. Nothing will destroy one quicker than losing focus on ones real purpose.
FBC would do well to go back to being a great soul
winning church and quit worrying about regaining or
holding onto its national influence. Find yourself an
old fashioned man of God from the mold of Jack
Hyles and become a great LOCAL church again.
What FBC needs is a George Huizenga who as a
layman in 1958 had the spiritual wisdom to discern
a young renegade man of God from Garland, TX,
named Jack Hyles and recommend him as a can-
didate for pastor. Who would have thought of him?
Not the staff of upper crust for sure. No, it took a
simple godly layman and that may be what it will
take this time. Do not look for a big shot. Find a
fiery man of God who will stand true to the KJB and
to personal soul winning who will lead FBC back to
God's favor instead of America's favor.
Thank you my friend Brother Binney for your fine advice to my old church and Alma Mater. God bless you FBC. We are praying for you. For the rest of us let us learn all of the lessons that we need to learn to revive our independent Baptist churches and preserve our TRUE heritage.
GOTTA LOVE THE OLD TIME RELIGION!