Recently I watched a very sad testimony by the daughter of the late Jack Hyles. Today her name is Linda Murphrey and it appears from this testimony that she has rejected biblical Christianity because of the hypocrisy she witnessed growing up in the home of the man who said God had given him “the steering wheel of fundamentalism” and who boasted that his church “was the greatest church in the history of Christianity.”
In her life story Linda mentions God only once and entirely leaves out Jesus Christ, the Bible, the new birth, and salvation through the cross.
Rejection of the truth of the Bible is oftentimes the fruit of a “Christian” cult, but it doesn’t have to be. Everyone growing up in a Christian home sees some type of hypocrisy and witnesses some level of less-than-perfect Christian living, because at his or her best the Bible-believing Christian is only a sinner saved by God’s grace. That’s not an excuse, but it is a fact. The apostle John said, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8). The apostle Paul, who in my estimation was the greatest Christian who ever lived, called himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18).
The Baptist church I grew up in was spiritually lukewarm at best and was filled with hypocrisy. But that doesn’t disprove the truth of God’s Word and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Other people’s hypocrisy is no excuse for my lack of faith in Christ. If others fail to live up to their Christian testimony that does not mean that I should follow in their footsteps or throw the Christ of the Bible out of my life. One thing is certain: Jesus isn’t a hypocrite and He has never failed anyone! We need to look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). We need to heed the warning of Scripture that if we trust in man we are cursed (Jeremiah 17:5). Blessing comes when our trust is in the Lord and in Him alone (Jeremiah 17:7). If I stumble at hypocrisy and turn my back on Christ and His Word because of this, it only means that I am looking to man rather than God.
I am not making excuse for Jack Hyles and the Baptist church that literally idolized him. What he did went so far beyond the pale of a mere “lack of perfection” that he was a cult leader rather than the pastor of a New Testament church. Only the Lord knows how many lives have been hurt and even ruined by this church and by those who have imitated Hyles’ methodology.
As I said in The Two Jacks, which was first published March 2012, in the chapter on “The Fruit of Hylesism” --
“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 Two Jacks: Hyles and Schaap, March 2012).
This sounds like a description of Jack Hyles’ own daughter.
It appears that she has turned to a humanistic pop-psychology philosophy of being true to oneself and pursuing one’s self-esteem.” Beginning in her late 20s, she underwent years of psychotherapy and “deprogramming.” If she is still a professing Christian of some sort, she somehow failed in the TEDxChange forum to give any glory whatsoever to Jesus Christ or credit to the Bible or Biblical salvation for her healing.
The context of Linda’s talk is a series of events sponsored by the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation. Bill makes no Christian profession, as far as I know, and his wife is a Roman Catholic who picks and chooses what part of Catholicism she accepts, but their spiritual passion is a to build a new age by creating a better world. To this end they funded a series of 188 TEDxChange events “to focus on issues surrounding global health and development.”
Linda Murphrey spoke at one of these in Ojai, California, April 5, 2012.
The theme of the Ojai meeting was “The Big Picture” and its New Age theme was “the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.” Linda Murphrey was introduced as a “certified personal and professional development coach” and “a practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.” According to this practice, which we mention in the book The New Age Tower of Babel, words and thoughts affect one’s nervous system and by learning to control the nervous system one can accomplish anything.
Linda is convinced that she has found truth and freedom, but in reality it appears that she has merely moved from one cult to another. Truth and freedom come only through Jesus Christ.
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
You can be certain that TEDxChange will not invite a Bible-believing Christian to give witness to the God who created the world in six days by His almighty power, and to testify of the salvation that is available exclusively through faith in Jesus Christ and the blood of His cross, and to describe the righteousness world that Christ will build when He returns in power and glory to rule with a rod of iron!
JACK HYLES’ DAUGHTER’S TESTIMONY OF GROWING UP IN A CULT
The following is excerpted from Linda Murphrey’s testimony at the TEDxOjaiChange event in Ojai, California, April 5, 2012:
“My dad pastored a church that evolved into a 50,000-member cult. It operated and still operates under the guise of an independent fundamental Baptist church. But those who have left, the followers who have tried to leave, the outsiders, even the media (it was on 20/20 last year) recognize that it is clearly a cult.
“Every member was in complete obedience to my father. They didn’t dare disagree or be disloyal, for fear of being publicly ridiculed or punished or banished for doing so. They didn’t go on a vacation without asking my dad’s permission, and if he had said to drink the Kool-aid, I’m not kidding, they would have.
“My dad lived a double life, one of a righteous family man and of a dynamic speaker in the public eye, but [another] one of sordid sexual secrets privately, secrets that only my siblings and me and my mom knew. He hated my mom. Hated her. Treated her terribly. Abused her. And even turned his own children against his mother. We hated her. He told us she was crazy. We thought to make him happy, we would hate her too. Our home was so full of turmoil, hatred, stress, strife, and as a little girl, it was isolating, it was intense, and it was frightening. He had affairs. He had a mistress for many years, the wife of a Sunday School teacher. He built her family a beautiful home right around the corner from our house. You could see their family from our back door. It was craziness, living one way, preaching another.
“My older brother became another version of my father. He pastored a church in Texas and was found to be having affairs with 14 different women. He divorced his wife and married one of the 14. My father tried desperately to cover it up. He moved him to another church where he was found to have had 17 affairs with different women, and he just recreated what he had seen my dad live. And my dad did nothing but cover it up. I felt like I had one main responsibility as a child. It was simple, but daunting, and that was to keep all the secrets, and there were so many.
“You see, he had taught us that the best way to please God was to please him, because he was God’s man. He taught us that to please him we had to keep all the secrets. We could never even tell our best friends what went on in our home, because we might be the cause of the destruction of his ministry. I literally feared for my very life if I ever told what went on in our home, for fear that it would hurt his ministry. I was so afraid, and the greater the secrets, the greater my fear, and the greater my determination to keep quiet.
“I got to tell you that the money part of it was pretty nice. As a kid--think about it, tithes and offerings from 50,000 people, hello--it created a lavish lifestyle. My father owned most of the city where the church was. He owned a college, two high schools, two grade schools, a cemetery, lots of buildings. He was very wealthy. And even to our adult years, he owned us. He owned our homes, our cars, our furniture. He owned our lives, and we didn’t dare cross him, because we were too afraid we would lose everything. He died a multi-millionaire. He left nothing to his children. He left everything to the organization, which my younger sister and her husband now lead. And they still perpetuate his legacy: the strict rules, the undying loyalty, and they still try to keep all the secrets” (Linda Murphrey’s testimony at the TEDxOjaiChange event in Ojai, California, April 5, 2012).
CONCLUDING NOTE BY BROTHER CLOUD
Jack Hyles’ daughter confirms everything that was reported by others in the late 1980s and early 1990s: the immorality, the lies, the cover ups, the mind control, the demand of unquestioning loyalty, the misuse of ministry money.
(By the way, the idea that there were tithes and offerings from 50,000 people is based on Linda’s own misunderstanding of how the cult operated. The huge numbers were for bragging purposes only. They never reflected the reality of the tithing membership at First Baptist. At the same time, Hyles did have access to a lot of money which he spent without accountability.)
Yet Hyles continued to be honored widely among fundamental Baptists until his death. In fact, he is still widely praised today. His son-in-law, Jack Schaap, who took over the cult upon Hyles’ death, was never as popular or influential beyond First Baptist itself, because he simply didn’t have the charisma, but large numbers of fundamental Baptist pastors continued to associate with First Baptist of Hammond and Hyles-Anderson College and continued to speak in conferences together with Schaap (until he was dismissed from the pastorate in August 2012 for immorality).
Why wasn’t Hyles’ widely exposed as a fraud? The evidence was readily available, and we aren’t talking about second hand reports; we’re talking about the testimony of eyewitnesses. Why did most IFB preachers turn a deaf ear to the well-documented reports of his ministry-disqualifying sins? Why did so many wear the “100% Hyles” button: if not the actual button, at least a mental one that brooked no “criticism” of the “man of God”? Why did so many pretend that it wasn’t their business, that it was “a local church matter,” even when Hyles was influencing hundreds of of thousands of people beyond his own church?
One reason is that the errors that Hyles’ represented have spread so widely among fundamental Baptists: e.g., the cheap Quick Prayerism, the carnal promotional gimmickry that turned the house of God into a circus (this has died down some now but in the 1980s multitudes of IFB churches practiced it), the bragging and self-promotion by pastors who were trying to get on The Sword of the Lord’s biggest and the best list, the cultic principle that to “criticize” the preacher is to “touch the Lord’s anointed” and to “shoot the wounded,” and the idea that a man can commit gross immorality and remain qualified for the pastorate (which is like allowing a chicken-eating dog to guard to the hen house).
It is unlikely that a preacher who was guilty of such things would be a critic of Jack Hyles.
In conclusion, I thank the Lord that there are many IFB churches that aren’t cults. Independent Fundamental Baptist isn’t a denomination; it simply identifies certain major characteristics of a type of church. It means that the church is Baptist in doctrine and polity, fundamental in its stance on separation, and independent of denominational structures such as American Baptist or Southern Baptist.
Beyond that, IFB churches come in a wide variety of stripes, and when I find one of like mind and join it, I am not joining all IFB churches!
I can be independent fundamental Baptist and fellowship with likeminded independent fundamental Baptist churches without being unified with the IFB churches with which I disagree. I am at liberty to speak against any IFB church or preacher that is in error.
This is in contrast with the Southern Baptist Convention, for example, which has to maintain denominational unity. For example, four Southern Baptist leaders recently said that Calvinism should not divide the SBC. David Dockery, president of Union University, said, “I think we can come to a place where we can all work together” (Baptist Press, Aug. 6, 2012).
Independent Baptists don’t have to make such compromises. Since there is no denominational structure to preserve and and no cooperative program to support and since we are not yoked together in any organizational sense, we can speak out on any issue and call heresy heresy and let the chips fall where they may. In this context, I can accept a Calvinist as a brother in Christ, assuming he shows evidence of knowing Christ personally, and I can appreciate him in many ways, but I don’t have to minister together with him and I don’t have to keep my mouth shut about what I am convinced is serious error.
I personally know many IFB pastors who are humble, godly men who wouldn’t dream of taking the place of Christ in the lives of their people, who invite the people to test their lives and teaching by God’s Word, who do not lord it over the people but exercise the office of shepherd according to 1 Peter 5. I know of many IFB churches where the members wouldn’t dream of giving a mere man “unquestioning loyalty.” I personally know many IFB churches that despise Quick Prayerism and hold high standards for the pastorate.
Christ didn’t start a movement; He started the church. “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). It is the assembly that is the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
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