The report a mixture of truth, slander, hypocrisy, and hatred of God and His Word.
Let’s begin with the truth.
The report covers the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult Survivors, a loose Facebook network of those who claim to have been abused by Independent Baptist churches. It focuses on a couple of particular cases of sexual abuse that were allegedly covered up by churches. These cases involved married men who were members of IB churches who had sexual relationships with underage girls.
I have no reason to disbelieve most of the allegations that are made in this context, because I have been warning for decades that some IB churches are cultish. A former IB church member is reported by 20/20 as saying, “The whole culture is you don’t question the pastor.” Another person says, “A man who is essentially unaccountable to anyone else you have a recipe for abuse.”
That is exactly right. I have written many reports about IB pastors such as Jack Hyles of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, and his successor Jack Schaap who require unquestioning loyalty and who treat all forms of “criticism” as an attack on their spiritual authority. Sadly, this problem extends to many IB churches. First Baptist is one of the largest IB churches and its school, Hyles-Anderson College, has trained many preachers since its inception in 1972.
As for the coverup of sexual abuse and immorality in general, there is no doubt that it has happened. Pastors have been “reinstated” at some other church after committing adultery and homosexuality. I think of Jack Hyles’ son, Dave, who after committing adultery with women at Hyles Anderson was recommended to a pastorate in Texas, where he committed adultery with multiple women. This type of thing brings great reproach upon the name of Christ, who requires high moral standards of pastors and deacons (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1). Every Christian is a mere sinner saved by grace, so it should not surprise us to learn that Christians sin, but God requires a lot of those who hold positions of spiritual authority. James said, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1).
Now let’s consider the slander.
20/20’s accusation that Independent Baptists as a movement are a cult and are guilty of the type of abuse documented in the report is slanderous. They should have done a lot more research. The IB movement is very large and diverse. While First Baptist of Hammond and Hyles-Anderson College has a lot of influence, it is only one part of the IB movement. I have documented this in the report “What Is Independent Baptist?” Independent Baptist is not a denomination; it is simply a name that describes churches that are Baptist in doctrine and that are independent in polity.
There are differences among Independent Baptists in such matters as music, dress standards, the Bible version-text issue, Calvinism, Baptist briderism, the practice of communion, alien immersion, repentance and evangelistic practices, pastoral authority, church growth practices, relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention and evangelicals, and other matters touching on ecclesiastical separation.
The bottom line is that Independent Baptists are truly independent. I don’t doubt that there are “good old boys” networks that operate in some IB circles, but there are also large numbers of IB churches that are outside of the influence of these “networks.” Independent Baptists are not yoked together in any organizational sense with other Independent Baptists who might hold a different doctrine or practice. Some of the larger IB schools, such as Hyles-Anderson, West Coast, and Crown, wield influence, but only in their own circles. None of them have a reach that extends to a majority of IB churches. Large numbers of IB preachers are trained either in their own churches or in the countless medium to smaller IB schools that are not under the influence of the larger institutions. IB preachers are a very independent-minded group of men. Large numbers of IB preachers refuse to bow down toward any man-made institution and refuse to kow-tow to the “big” boys.
To lump all IB churches together into one pot of cultic abuse is slanderous.
I have personally preached in hundreds of IB churches whose pastors do not demand “unquestioning loyalty,” whose pastors are humble men who know that they are under discipline just like anyone else in the church, whose deacons and teachers are godly, compassionate men and women and are nothing like those exposed in the 20/20 report.
20/20 interviewed and gave total credence to the criticisms of some people who were allegedly the subjects of abuse in IB churches, but they could have interviewed thousands of people who grew up in IB homes and churches and would testify that they were treated with Christian compassion and grace.
This brings us to the hypocrisy of the 20/20 report.
20/20 found some abuse and possibly some coverup of sexual abuse. We wonder why that should be so shocking in the wicked society in which we live.
20/20’s ABC television network is culpable in creating the climate of moral relativism and the tearing down of divine authority that has produced rampant immorality, including the abuse of women and children. If man is merely an evolved worm, why should he not act out his impulses? If there is no supreme law-giving God, what is the basis for absolute morality? What moral culpability does a termite have when it eats the pillar of a house so that it collapses and injures people? If the Bible is a myth-filled book and Jesus was merely a “good man” and there are no moral absolutes, why would it be wrong for a man to abuse a child? What about homosexuals and their rights? If a homosexual acts out his “love” for boys, who is to say that is wrong? In fact, there are organizations of homosexuals that don’t believe that it is wrong. Will ABC expose them? Will it interview the boys who are the objects of homosexual advances? Will it treat them as victims the same way that it has treated the girls who were allegedly abused by IB church members?
Will 20/20 create a report about sexual abuse and coverup within the homosexual community?
Will 20/20 create a report about sexual abuse and coverup within the Muslim community?
No, because they are hypocrites with an agenda to discredit the God of the Bible, and they are not even handed or balanced in their reporting when it comes to such things.
This brings us to the final point, which is 20/20’s hatred of God and His Word.
Much of the report was devoted to their outrage at the fact that some people still take the Bible seriously.
The sexual abuse was indiscriminately lumped together with the alleged mental abuse created by fundamentalist preaching.
20/20 would have its viewers think that it is abusive to take the Bible seriously and to interpret it “literally.”
20/20 would have its viewers think that it is abusive to believe what the Bible says about corporal punishment. While we reject the foolish statements that were quoted by 20/20, such as spanking two-week-old infants or laying 100 stripes upon children (I have no idea where they dug up that nonsense), we do not reject the Bible’s wise teaching on corporal punishment. It wasn’t that long ago that corporal punishment was used in public schools in America. When I was in junior high school in Florida, our principle had a fearful paddle made from the end of a water ski with holes drilled in it! Most people then didn’t consider that abusive. Corporal punishment can be exercised properly without moving into the realm of abuse, and the vast majority of IB churches believe in a wise, compassionate use of the rod and are opposed to any sort of abuse.
20/20 would have its viewers think that it is abusive to believe that the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church. But the Bible’s teaching on this has been believed by most Christians for 2,000 years, and it was believed by the Jews for thousands of years before Christ came. It is 20/20’s feministic views that are the new kids on the block of human society. The Bible exalts women. Nowhere does it teach them to follow their husbands blindly. Husbands are under divine authority just like women are. Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church, which is a very high standard of love. Any husband that abuses his wife and who treats her with anything other than compassion and respect is disobeying the Bible. Women played a large role in Christ’s earthly life and in the early churches. It was women who were the first to visit the empty tomb and the first to believe in Christ’s resurrection. The church at Philippi started with a woman’s prayer meeting. Phebe was one of the apostle Paul’s helpers (Romans 16:1-2). Priscilla is always mentioned in the context of Aquila’s church planting efforts (Acts 18:26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19).
20/20 would have its viewers think that it is abusive to preach that there is only one narrow way of salvation through the blood of Christ and that those who reject God’s way will not be saved. But to think that this is abusive is to assume that the Bible is not true, because the Bible plainly teaches this doctrine and if it is true then it could not possibly be abusive to preach it and to warn men and women to be saved in the right way before it is too late. And it could not possibly be abusive to think that those who are not saved in the Bible way are lost. 20/20 painted those who believe this as self-righteous, and doubtless some are, but most Baptists who believe that there is only one way of salvation aren’t self-righteous. They know that they are sinners just like everybody else and they know that they don’t deserve salvation and could not possibly earn salvation through their good works. In fact, they know that their “good works” are filthy rags in the sigh of a holy God (Isaiah 64:6).
20/20 would have its viewers think that it is abusive to preach the Bible’s commands to live in a way that is separated from the wickedness of this present world system. They mock churches that encourage women to dress modestly in a society that flaunts immodesty. They mock churches that seek to maintain music that is “spiritual” in quality and to avoid music that is “conformed” to the pop culture. But the Bible says that the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-12). God’s people are taught not to love the world (1 John 2:15-17), not to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:2), and are warned that to love the wicked world system is to commit spiritual adultery (James 4:4).
The 20/20 report “Victim’s Forced Confession” pretends to be a fair and balanced report on abusive churches, but instead it was a hit piece against Bible-believing Baptists everywhere.
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