Current Events

My dad pastored a cult of 50,000 people

I’m sure most of you have heard the sad story of the firing of Jack Schaap from First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN. Here’s the news report. Schaap was the son-in-law of the founder of First Baptist, Jack Hyles.  Hyles built a huge megachurch on the outskirts of Chicago before megachurches were popular. The pastor who pastored my home church while I was in college was a disciple of Jack Hyles.  Hyles put the legal in legalism, promoting a very strict, very staunch form of conservative Christianity to which the church still subscribed under his son-in-law Jack’s ministry.  In fact, the church grew even larger under Jack’s leadership. Until last week, when it went public that Schaap had had inappropriate encounters with a 16 or 17 year old girl. Schaap is 54. Ed Stetzer wrote a rather scathing piece last week about this; most all of which I agree with. The founder himself, Jack Hyles, Schapp’s predecessor and father-in-law, had been rumored to have had a secret sexual life and a long-term affair with a secretary (and Sunday School teacher’s husband).  Neither Hyles nor the church ever admitted to those those alleged sins. But in a very interesting video from TEDx that has been making the rounds this morning, Jack Hyle’s daugther, Linda Hyles Murphrey, is telling about how she left the family because she couldn’t keep the secrets any longer. She talks about her sister and brother-in-law who continued in perpetuating the lies and covering up past sin to protect the legacy of her father. Thankfully, First Baptist Church took a different approach when they found out proof of Jack Schaap’s sin.  They took a very positive, straight-forward, and integrity-filled approach.  Openness, honesty, and investigation were promised now by the church leadership; and after watching this, you HAVE to feel for all they are going through. I think that the leadership is doing EVERYTHING correctly now. But (and not to kick someone when they’re down), where was the leadership when there were clear red flags that Jack Schaap was out of control.  Like in this segment of his preaching.  Whether or not you agree with his basic theology here, you have to be blind not to see a man filled with pride and arrogance: (This was actually a video that I posted here on this blog a while back) Where were the deacons for the weeks and years that this type of preaching went on? Many of them were saying “Amen”. I’d like to know what they’d think as they listen to one of Schaap’s last messages, supposedly from Sunday, July 8 of this year… that’s less than a month ago. Shocking how he preached about teenage girls having sex when he was actually having sex with a teenage girl. I can’t help but draw the contrast between the tone of the last two videos. Possibly it hits home for me because I’ve experienced the Jack Hyles/Jack Schaap version of legalism first-hand. Possibly it hits home because I’ve seen sins covered up (as evidently has happened here for years) Possibly (and most probably) it hits home because I have a 16 year old daughter. It seems to me that this could be a real turning point in the life of First Baptist Church, Hammond.  Will they continue in the spirit of Jack Schaap and Jack Hyles, or will they move forward with a more tempered version of their conservative theology? Let’s hope that the latest events in Hammond will move this church forward in positive ways. Let’s pray for the girl and her family. Let’s pray for Jack Schaap and his family. Let’s pray for the leadership of First Baptist Hammond; not only now; but well into the future. May this be the turning point. Your thoughts?