Hylescost - Two Eyewitness Testimonies
April 29, 2020
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
“Quick Prayerism” reached its apex on May 3, 1998, when Jack Hyles claimed that more people were saved and baptized at First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana, on that day than were saved and baptized on the day of Pentecost or on any other day in church history. Hyles estimated that around 15,000 people were saved on that day and 5,112 were baptized. (Hyles claimed that three-quarters of a million people were saved at Hammond under his ministry.)

When the events at Hylescost are compared with Acts chapter two, though, five serious discrepancies appear.

First, Peter preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, whereas Hyles preached on heaven. In his invitation that morning, Hyles told the people that even if they had only the slightest interest in going to heaven, to come forward. Well, who doesn’t want to go to heaven?

Second, Peter demanded repentance emphatically, whereas Hyles did not even mention repentance or even hint that it might be necessary for salvation.

Third, those saved and baptized on the day of Pentecost were added to the church, whereas those who prayed on Hylescost were not allowed to join the church.

Fourth, the only “methodology” used at Pentecost was prayer, the preaching of the Word of God, personal testimony, and the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit; whereas Hyles used a multiplicity of man-made promotions and gimmicks to attract people to his meetings and to manipulate people into making “decisions.”

Fifth, those saved at Pentecost “continued stedfastly in doctrine, fellowship, and prayer” (Acts 2:42), whereas very few of those who were counted in Hyles salvation statistics exhibited such plain evidence of salvation.

Following is the sad and frightful testimony of a preacher who participated in Hylescost when he was a student at Hyles Anderson. This provides a glimpse into the carnal, shallow, unscriptural inner workings of Quick Prayerism.

“One of the churches I attended years ago decided to try to replicate the day of Pentecost. … My little part in this mission was to take an empty bus to the worst projects in town. I was to fill it up and drive to the church with fifty or so unsaved young people. I was to deliver these young people to a rented sports arena where the preacher would give a salvation message. Before returning the kids to the bus and thus to home, we were instructed to ensure that all of these young people were baptized after the invitation had been given.

“Imagine for a moment the scene. Thousands of people unused to church were crammed into a building not acoustically designed for church. The average worker to rider ratio was about one to thirty. The service stayed just this side of pandemonium only with the help of
frequent promises of cash prizes. At the invitation, all the people were instructed to repeat the sinner’s prayer after the preacher. From the pulpit, instructions were given to the workers to herd their charges toward the swimming pools for baptism. …

“Later that evening after all the activities of the day were over, the pastor of the church solemnly opened an envelope. To a cacophony of cheering and shouting, he told us that we had baptized more than three thousand people that day. Then turning to a guest speaker on the platform he said, ‘And all of these people were dealt with one on one out of an open Bible.’

“I sat there stunned in my seat. I was not stunned by the number but by the assertion that all of this was done carefully. … The preaching was plain and clear. But the service was mass chaos, there was zero actual conversational give-and-take to ensure understanding, and the mass assent was printed and impersonal” (Tom Brennan,
Schizophrenic: A Diagnosis of the Independent Baptist Movement, pp. 206, 207).

Another pastor who was an eyewitness to Hylescost is Courtney Lewis. At the time, he was a student at Fairhaven Baptist College in Chesterton, Indiana, about 25 miles east of Hammond. He was involved with Fairhaven’s bus ministry and spent Saturdays and Sundays working with street kids in Chicago. He found out that First Baptist bus workers had contacted some of the kids he was working with and that they were going to participate in the big day, so he got permission to observe some of the proceedings. His testimony is as follows:

“It was a huge day for First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. They could not bring everyone to Hammond, so they rented out satellite buildings in the area, and one of those was in Chicago, close to where we were ministering. They had rented out a Seventh-day Adventist church and were holding this rally for the kids. They had passed out flyers to the kids for their parents saying, ‘Your children will be taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and they will also be taught about baptism.’ So we went to that meeting. We sat in the back, and a bus pulled up and unloaded about 50 or 60 kids. We saw the kids that we were ministering to on normal Sundays get off the bus. They brought all of the kids into a classroom. They sat the kids down, and a worker came up and led the kids in one verse of ‘Amazing Grace.’ He sat down and another man came up and gave a five- or seven-minute presentation of the gospel to a these children--street kids, who had [for the most part] never heard the gospel. I was a street kid; I know what is going on in Chicago. There was no mention of repentance. It was just a basic Romans Road survey. Very weak. He said, ‘Bow your heads and close your eyes. Every one who wants to be sure that you are going to heaven, raise your hand.’ Several kids raised their hands, including one or two of the kids that we knew. As they raised their hands, there were workers that sat down with them there in that room. They pulled up a chair next to a kid and opened up the Bible. The worker that I was watching in particular was saying to the kid, ‘If you want to know for sure that you are going to heaven, here are the things that you have to know.’ While talking, the worker was continually looking around the room, totally disinterested in the kid, but telling him, ‘Number 1, you are a sinner; number 2, Jesus died on the cross for your sins; number 3 you have to accept Him as your Saviour. Would you like to do that?’ The kid said yes, so the worker said, ‘Let’s bow our heads and pray this prayer.’ Several of the kids in that room did that. When that was done, they took the kids that prayed that prayer out of the classroom and they had set the auditorium up so that there was a baptismal tank with a curtain on one side for the girls and a curtain on the other side for the guys. There was a worker standing right by the baptismal tank with a clipboard. The kids changed behind the curtain and were brought one by one into the baptistry. As they did, the worker with the clipboard put a check mark for each baptism. He was nonchalantly making check marks: check, check, check, check, check. The kids were then taken out of that room and lined up at the door where they had entered, given a hotdog, put on the bus, the bus pulled away, and another bus pulled up, and the whole circuit started all over again. I saw it with my own eyes. There was a mom that came in later that was very irate. ‘How dare you baptize my son! I never gave you permission,’ she said. They pulled the file out and said to her, ‘It says here that your children will be taught about salvation and baptism.’ I say, that is wicked! That is wicked! And those were the soul-winning methods that were used for years at First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. At least one of the kids that we had been working with was baptized that day. The next Sunday he was back at our church, and we said to him, ‘You were there last week and you got baptized. Why did you get baptized?’ He just shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘I don’t know.’ That was my experience” (Courtney Lewis, a testimony delivered to the preachers attending a Bible conference at Berean Bible Baptist Church, Cavite, the Philippines, January 15, 2020).

Whatever you want to call this, it certainly is not Pentecost.

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