The fruit of the Hyles model and methodology has often consisted of moral and spiritual shipwreck.
Multitudes of former members of Hyles-type churches, having witnessed so much error and hypocrisy, have abandoned church altogether. Or they have explored the contemporary emerging philosophy, having allegedly found more spiritual reality in those circles than they witnessed in “fundamentalism.”
Being the products of shallow evangelism, many of these have never been biblically converted. They have prayed a sinner’s prayer but haven’t been born again. Having never had a real and dynamic relationship with Christ, they are man-followers, and when the man fails, they are offended and quit, sometimes blaming Christ and the church for something that is man’s fault alone.
Even if they were truly saved, they were not properly discipled and grounded in the Scriptures and in solid doctrinal truth. All too typically they have been used or neglected and sometimes abused, but not shepherded.
The following is one of the many testimonies we have received through the years of the wretched fruit of the Hyles philosophy:
“I have so much to say, I do not know where to start. I was brought up in an extremely fundamental ... Hyles and Bob Gray worshiping church in southern California. At one point this church, which averaged no more than 200 on Wednesday nights (at its peak in the late 90's), was 3rd in America in baptisms, with more than 10,000 in a single year. I was one of the ‘top’ teenagers in the church and I was ‘in’ as far as popularity and promise at our church. It was a shallow, man praising, numbers driven Christianity that has driven countless men, women, families, and teenagers to bitterness and a hatred for anything that has to do with the Bible or God. I know because I was one of them. I have many old friends who have told me they could never trust a man and/or pastor cause of the trauma they went through.
“My family is currently struggling and I am praying for my family as they, too, have grown bitter. My family is currently looking to go to the complete other side of Christianity (new evangelical/praise chapel type) and I am praying and hoping they see Christ and the Bible more real as I have during this last year. I have recently read your book ‘The Two Jacks’ and am currently reading the book on quick prayerism, which I could tell so many stories about. I have had to "reset" my whole foundation of salvation, repentance and following Christ. I cannot even tell you how that the book ‘The Two Jacks’ took me on a roller coaster of emotions, from anger to disbelief, but I realized that all my emotions and EXTREMELY high, almost worship-like, feelings towards men were getting in the way of me worshiping and following Christ wholeheartedly.
“I was bitter and lost for most of my early 20's but I am now studying the Scriptures, discipling people, and following Christ in a new church. I am writing to say thanks!”
The solution to this problem is not to abandon church or to capitulate to a contemporary style of Christianity that is conformed to the world. The “newest” part of the true Christian faith is 2,000 years old; it simply is not going to be contemporary cool!
When I was saved in 1973 out of a “hippie” background, I was perfectly cool by the world’s standards. I was a real “dude.” I had my long hair; had my self-centered attitude and my New Age philosophy; had my sensual party music; had my drug-using, hitchhiking background. But after my conversion I didn’t search for a cool type of Christianity. I had truly repented of my foolish ways and my rebellion against God. I had drunk deeply of “this world” and I was fed up with it. I wanted something different: something eternal rather than temporal, solid rather than shallow, unbending rather than plastic, holy rather than worldly.
When I was first confronted with cool Christianity in the form of the Jesus Movement in the 1970s, I was confused by it at first, then I was offended by it. That is what God saved me OUT OF! Why should God’s people want to conform themselves to the plastic pop culture? Why should they want to conform to the world’s music and appearance and drink deeply of its entertainment? The Bible is very plain that you cannot have the world and Christ, too. This world is at enmity with the holy God and His Christ, and the friend of this world is the enemy of God. And the Western pop culture is the most powerful and effective form of the “world” that has ever come down the pike. See the warnings of Romans 12:2; Ephesians 5:11; James 1:27; 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17.
Many who reject “fundamentalist” type churches as being too strict and hypocritical end up straining at gnats and swallowing camels (Mat. 23:24). I mean that while they claim to see all of the real and perceived errors of “fundamentalists,” they overlook even worse errors in the contemporary crowd.
The church is God’s plan. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Mat. 16:18). He said to the first disciples that He would be with His people to the end of the age as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission (Mat. 28:18-20).
We should reject unscriptural churches, but we must not reject the church as God’s holy institution.
Further, the solution is not to abandon “fundamentalism,” which I am referring to merely in the sense of practicing separatism and being strict in one’s approach to doctrine and practice. Fundamentalism in this sense is not the problem.
(I reject “fundamentalism” as a movement as being contrary to Scripture due particularly to its trans-denominational character, its “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty” heresy, and its “universal church” mentality. When I speak of holding to “fundamentalism” I am using the term as a synonym for biblical separatism. See the report “The Insufficiency and Error of Fundamentalism” and the free eBook New Evangelicalism: Its History, Characteristics and Fruit at the Way of Life web site -- www.wayoflife.org.)
God’s Word demands separation from error and worldliness (e.g., Romans 12:2; 16:17; 2 Corinthians 6:17; Ephesians 5:11; Philippians 3:17-18; Colossians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 2:16-18; 3:5; James 1:27; 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17).
Separatism is not an optional part of Christianity. It is biblical and it is right and it is pleasing to God.
God’s Word demands strictness in the matter of doctrinal purity (e.g. Acts 20:27-28; Ephesians 4:14; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 1:9) and holy living (e.g. 2 Corinthians 7:1; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 2:11).
Just because some have practiced “fundamentalism” hypocritically and shallowly does not mean that it is wrong at its essence.
We must exercise great patience and mercy because every church has failings. Yea, we all have failings, so it would be hypocritical to demand perfection of others. We must find the wise, spiritually-mature balance of being patient with those sins, compromises, and errors of a sort that will always be a factor in a Bible-believing church, while not ignoring the sins, compromises, and errors that render the church incapable of fulfilling its God-given task. We must learn when to stay and when to leave, when to submit and when to separate, and only the Spirit of God can grant such wisdom.
The solution to the problem we discuss in this report is to move beyond criticizing error and to strive to do something right, as we have discussed in the chapter “Not Enough to Criticize.”
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