The original title of this book, which was first published in March 2012, was The Two Jacks, referring to the ministry and influence of Jack Hyles and his son-in-law Jack Schaap, who took the pastorate of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, upon Hyles’ death.
We have changed the name to The Hyles Effect: A Spreading Blight, because the book is still relevant, in spite of the fact that Jack Hyles is dead and Jack Schaap is heading to prison. This is for the simple reason that Hyles’ vast influence continues unabated and we see it as a spiritual blight. One pastor made the following comment about the new title:
“Having farmed, one of the things we had to fight against was blight. Blight will soon ruin a vegetable crop like tomatoes, melons or cucumbers. Blight was our deadly enemy.”
This book has never been just about First Baptist of Hammond. It’s about a large number of IFB churches that have been influenced by the cultic pattern modeled at First Baptist and it’s about large numbers of IFB preachers who have not spoken out against it but rather have chosen to bask in the glory of “bigness” rather than take a stand for truth.
A preacher friend made the following comment when I asked him for suggestions for the new title of the book:
“I wonder if you could title it along the lines of a disease, a contagion, or an epidemic. That may be overstatement, but I don't think so. Hyles' philosophy has permeated even the best of the IB churches. I threw out his books in the 80's when I started seeing what he was preaching and read his son's book on youth ministry, BUT what I heard him preach in the 60's and 70's STILL messes with my mind.”
Another preacher who offered suggestions for the new title said:
“Years ago, my wife was given a tape of a Hyles sermon by the wife of our former pastor. When asked who Jack Hyles was, she replied something along the lines of ‘a good man that went a bit wonky towards the end.’ I have found that even many preachers who distance themselves from Hyles have plenty of nice things to say about him. He seems to have won the hearts of many of the older generation of IB preachers in the same way that Paul Chappell seems to be winning over the younger ones.”
Hyles’ philosophy has spread far among IFBaptists. Take unquestioning loyalty, for example. Try writing something “negative” of a current IFB leader like Paul Chappell, Clarence Sexton, or Shelton Smith, or try offering a critique anything less than worshipful of IFB leaders of the past such as John Rice or Lee Roberson, no matter how true and Biblical the “criticism” might be, and observe the response by their fans.
Jack Hyles is dead, but his influence lives on.
The Latest Saga in the “Two Jacks”
On July 31, 2012, Hammond Community Net reported that “First Baptist Church of Hammond had dismissed Jack Schaap as its pastor in the wake of a Lake County police investigation.” This was because of Schaap’s “physically improper” relationship with a 16-year-old girl.
In September, 2012, Schaap pled guilty to the federal charge of taking a minor across state lines for sex, and the prosecutors said they will recommend to the judge that he serve 10 years (“Pastor Accused of Having Sex with Minor Faces 10 Years,” Chicago Tribune, Sept. 20, 2012). Schaap will also be required to register as a sex offender wherever he lives, once he is released from prison.
In light of the history that we documented in The Two Jacks, the only thing that is surprising about this sad account is that the church took action against the man. Then, again, the FBI had become involved in the matter because the girl had been transported across state lines.
Many teenage girls and even children have been the target of sexual abuse at First Baptist, including those polluted by Jack Hyles’ son, Dave.
We don’t know how long this type of thing has gone on even in Schaap’s life. It’s doubtful that a 54-year-old man would start messing with girls out of the blue. And clear warning signs were evident even in his preaching, as we document in this book.
This is the same church that covered over and justified Jack Hyles’ sins and the ministry-disqualifying sins of other pastors associated with the church and school for decades, a church that was quite willing to stand behind the character assassination of anyone who dared to bring an accusation against the “man of God.” This is the church that accepted the lie that to reprove and discipline a preacher is to “touch the Lord’s anointed.” This is a church that has accepted incredible abuse at the hands of its pastors for decades.
It appears that Schaap thought he could walk in Hyles’ footsteps and do as he pleased, and he succeeded for over a decade and probably could have continued to do so except that federal law officers got involved this time.
There is no reason to believe that anything of real substance will change. Another man--doubtless another Hyles worshipper--will step behind that polluted pulpit and the cult will go on.
It is also possible that the next pastor will lead the church away from the true legalism and man-centeredness of their past to the “liberty” of the contemporary philosophy, and the brow-beaten people will follow with glee. Since the corner has been turned, and in the eyes of the average IFB church it’s no longer unacceptable to mess around with contemporary music, that might be the path they pursue.
I wrote the following to a pastor after Schaap’s disgrace:
“I am guessing that First Baptist will change in many ways, including going contemporary pretty quickly. I suspect that the people are fed up with the abuse and the true legalism of their past and will run in the opposite direction. It depends on who they call as pastor, of course, but I suspect that the pressure from former Hyles-Anderson graduates to stay in their ‘old paths’ aren't as strong today as they would have been 10 years ago. I think a lot of them are moving in the contemporary direction. Of course, a lot of them have rejected the nonsense they were taught and have swung over to the emerging church (instead of pursuing a fundamentalist path that is biblical rather than man-centered) or have even jumped on the New Age bandwagon.”
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