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DR JACK HYLES;
By ROBERT SUMNER The BIBLICAL EVANGELIST;
(All NewtonStein "INSPIRED-INERRANT" Bible View!)
CHRISTIPEDIA: DR. JACK HYLES by SUMNER The BIBLICAL EVANGELIST
Chapter 3 - The Saddest Story We Ever Published!
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One of the hardest things for me to learn – or, should I say, "accept" – is the fact that Fundamentalist preachers put on their britches one leg at a time. By that, I simply mean that they have a fallen human nature and are capable of the same kind of sins the rest of mankind practice on a regular basis. They do not go to Heaven every night and come back every morning to be of service to God and humanity.
In my naiveté, I somehow supposed that the children of Liberals could grow up to be rebellious, ungodly and enemies of the faith – but not the children of Fundamentalists. I had no problem understanding that Liberal preachers could leave town with their secretaries or choir leaders, but never, never a Fundamentalist minister.
If a newspaper headline revealed an account of ministerial financial shenanigans or absconding with funds, I automatically considered such a man a Liberal – because a Fundamentalist couldn't do anything like that, of course.
Later, as my eyes became accustomed to the reality of the world's light – or, rather, darkness – I had to admit that Bible preachers could commit the same identical sins as did some of the infidels in the pulpit. Even then, in my mind, they were the "New Evangelicals." Fundamentalists would never do anything like that.
Alas, the days of my "sweet innocence " long ago evaporated like fog under the burning morning sun. There is nothing a Fundamentalist – out of fellowship with his Master – cannot do. This covers the range from stealing a postage stamp out of another's desk to adultery and murder.
Yes, I recall hearing the late Bob Jones tell of a minister friend (a man for whom he had conducted evangelistic services) who was charged with murdering a woman in his church; it seemed they had an affair and when it was about to be exposed, he killed her.
I recall how shocked I was when Jones told the story – and how I thought to myself, "No, he couldn't have been a saved man. He may have professed, but he surely didn't possess. " Yet David was a saved man when his sin was about to be exposed and he connived the killing of his lover's husband, Uriah.
It was also Dr. Bob that I heard say repeatedly,
"No man knows what he would do if he were tempted in the right way, at the right time, and under the right circumstances."
While I admit to being skeptical then, I am no longer under any such delusion. Paul, writing under the full inspiration of the Holy Spirit, summed this truth up for the Corinthian Christians:
"Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12).
The potential is there for all of us.
[NEWT-NOTE: Jeremiah 17:9 - 'The heart of man is desperately wicked! Who can know it? (know it fully, completely, exhaustively?);
Which brings me down to the subject at hand.
CAN OF WORMS!
When I started my investigation I had no idea what a can of worms I was uncovering.
Quite frankly, this is probably the most difficult article I have ever written for THE BIBLICAL EVANGELIST – or during my quarter of a century in writing for Dr. John R. Rice, either.
I do not enjoy exposing a man with whom I have had association of sorts for nearly 30 years, shared Bible conference platforms, preached in his churches – a man who led his church in giving our organization many thousands of dollars, and who was on my personal daily prayer list for many, many years.
Then why do it? Why not just continue the cover-up that has apparently been going on in Fundamentalist circles for many, many years? There are two primary reasons, one biblical and the other practical.
The biblical one relates to the demand that pastors must be absolutely blameless (I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7), the very first qualification listed in both passages. A preacher who falls into sin is to be exposed, as Paul told Timothy: "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear" (I Timothy 5:20). To try and limit this command to local church situations is a cop-out, in my judgment; it states a principle that covers the whole body of Christ.
One of the major inconsistencies within Fundamentalism today is that sin is so quietly and firmly swept under the rug and the guilty parties go free. Many who argue a cover-up for a fallen Fundamentalist are the first in line to condemn a Jim & Tammy Bakker or a Jimmy Swaggart. Where is the consistency – or even honesty – in this? Do we want to send a message to the world that if a man is "big" enough and " fundamental" enough, he can get by with anything? I think not. One thing is sure: with the massive cover-ups we've had of late, not many preachers are "fearing"; if we can put some holy fear back into men of God, the time and money spent researching this article will have been worthwhile.
Some point to the cases of Korah (Numbers 16), Aaron and Miriam (Numbers 12), the destruction by the two she bears of the young men who mocked Elisha (II Kings 2), but none of these cases relate to sin in a leader's life. Another favorite Scripture often used for not facing a minister's sin is I Samuel 24:6 and 26:9, where David refused to "stretch forth mine hand against [Saul], seeing he is the anointed of the LORD, and, "who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD's anointed, and be guiltless?" But we are not talking about who should be king (or even pastor of a particular church), nor are we talking about slaying someone and usurping a throne.
Neither do New Testament passages about judging motives and casting the first stone concern this question. This issue is strictly about whether major sin should be covered up for men in the ministry. Regarding the latter, God didn't say, "Leave it up to me; I'll take care of it in my own time," He said, 'You openly take care of it immediately!'
The other reason for this article is practical. Because this man is so important in Fundamentalist circles – he, himself, has boasted on several occasions that if he were brought down, Fundamentalism would fall with him ("Just think how much destruction would happen to America and the churches if I quit", "America needs me!" "First Baptist Church in _______ is the greatest church in the New Testament age"; "We are the greatest"); to which we respond, "If Fundamentalism has no better foundation than that, let it fall!' – word has reached us that both secular and New Evangelical presses have been working on exposés, including one of America's most prestigious metropolitan newspapers. Some of us have come to the conclusion that Fundamentalism ought to do its own housecleaning, uncovering its own failings by facing the matter scripturally and honestly.
We concluded that less harm would come to Fundamentalism if exposure came from within the movement than if the outside world blew the whistle and then stood back to sneer. The scoffing and sneering will come anyway, but hopefully it will not be as loud nor last as long. We want to do what is right in helping Fundamentalism, but it will not be helped as long as sin is covered. As Jehovah said to Joshua of old when he was prostrate in prayer, "Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned . . . " (Joshua 7:10,11). It was no time for a prayer meeting: there was sin in the camp. The same is true today.
We have tried to approach the task in a biblical manner, although most of the instruction in the Word of God has to do with local churches, not with movements. While there is no record that Peter was ever approached privately by Paul before the latter delivered his public rebuke (Galatians 2:1-14), some of us have tried to face this man with his sin. He refuses to respond. Even more important, the injured party attempted to follow the principles laid out in Matthew 18:15-17 for handling it within the local church – but was not even permitted to present his statement and accompanying evidence to his fellow deacons.
We have published a few articles in THE BIBLICAL EVANGELIST attempting to warn him and others, but these entreaties have seemingly fallen on deaf ears. We have sought to stir others to action, but the standard answer has been, "That is none of our business. We don't want to get involved." (I keep saying "we" because a number of Christian leaders have been working on this exposé, although I have taken the responsibility for the actual writing.)
Quite frankly, we don't want to get involved either. Our ministry may be boycotted in such a way that it will drive us into insolvency. If so, so be it! Many of the statements in this article will be given anonymously because of the fear those individuals have of retaliation, but someone must stick his neck on the chopping block and we are willing to do so for the good of the Fundamentalist movement.
Some, no doubt, will object to the way we have done it. We reply, "How would you handle something like this?" In the past couple of months we have had a host of phone calls about it – pro and con – but when I ask the cons if they have a better plan for handling something like this, invariably there is a long, dead silence on the other end of the line. Others will feel that a continued cover-up would have been better, but no one prospers in the case of covered sin. Paul told the Corinthians that the guilty sinner in their midst should be exposed both for their sake ("a little leaven leaventh the whole lump") and for the sake of the transgressor ("deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus"), trusting their action would bring the erring brother to repentance (I Corinthian 5:1-13).
Even if there is no other benefit, this will get the facts of the story out into the open. Over the past several months, from coast to coast, rumors have been circulating about this minister. Often the stories widely differ and some have little basis of fact. This will at least pinpoint exactly what the problems are.
Perhaps our strongest motivation for writing is duty. It won't make us popular, but we agree with what Charles Manly wrote long, long ago:
"Better than ringing plaudits of a throng,Than voice of multitudes in shouts of praise,Than smiles of beauty and of rarest grace,Are silent whispers of a conscience free From sense of duty left undone."
We want to be able to say with the steward of whom Christ spoke, "We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17: 10). Whether you agree or not, we have done what we felt was our duty.
READ THIS LETTER AND WEEP!
As an introduction to the problem, let me quote one of the most tragic letters addressed to a gospel preacher I have ever read in nearly a half century of following Christ. It should bring genuine tears to your eyes, as it did mine. The writer is a fine Christian lady – she and her husband grew up and went completely through "the system" in this man's church; in fact, her husband's grandfather was chairman of the board when he was called to the pulpit and the letter surely speaks for itself. She wrote:
"As I am sure you are well aware, my husband and I are moving to the Los Angeles area this month. The culmination of many events in our lives brought us to the decision that we have made to move. By this letter I wish to express my thoughts on the role you have played in these events over the past fifteen-plus years.
"I remember hearing once that it is not wise to put anything in writing that one would not want the entire world to see. (You know well the horrifying effects doing so can cause, don't you?) That thought prompted me to write you on my leaving, for it would be the pleasure of my life to have the entire world see in print my feelings on you, your establishment and your gross perversion of the sacred role of Pastor.
"For over fifteen years I have watched and learned much from the circus that you have performed with the lives of those I love most in the world. With your own insecurities and personal failures as your driving force, you have quite simply played havoc with an entire church, some of my dearest friends and worst of all, my family. The saddest realization is that it has all been under the guise of Christianity. How I emerged from such a pit of secret sin, manipulation, and hypocrisy with the slightest interest in my professed religion at all, I do not know.
"Actually, I have become quite a person with these many lessons of life under my belt and must admit that you were quite a teacher. You exemplify everything in this life that I do not want for myself, my marriage or my children. I thank God for giving me the sense to decide not to become one of the neurotic puppets you employ. That decision and my close friendship with your ex-daughter-in-law (you remember her, don't you?) helped salvage what was left of my self-respect. In an incredibly short amount of time I have healed much and think I would surprise even you with the strength I have gained.
"Incidentally, Paula and I have volumes of stories to swap, and it is interesting to see just how similar they are. What was it that you used to say, 'Little leopards have spots because big leopards have spots'? How true it is.
"Sadly, in your very heart of hearts you must be the most miserable, lonely person alive. You are a self-proclaimed giant, sensationalist, exhibitionist, and 'big-time spender' grasping for every expression of love, admiration and loyalty that you can get your filthy little hands on. Yet, you have failed with the most precious gifts God could have ever given you – your wife, your children, and now, your ministry.
"I pity you, _____ ________, for you will be experiencing the consequences of your actions for a very long time. You may have convinced your following in the past twenty years that 'it did not happen if they did not see it,' but God has seen every moment of those years, and my faith will not let [me] believe that He will let you go unpunished.
"With these thoughts expressed, I bathe myself of you and any influence you may have had on me in the past. With God's help, I will make my life in California everything that He would have it be and, unlike you, will not fall.
Quite frankly, if I ever received a letter like that – and it contained even 10% truth – I'd walk out of the ministry without ever looking back. I could not handle even the private knowledge that such a letter were even remotely true.
This letter, which the writer told the recipient "it would be the pleasure of my life to have the entire world to see in print," explaining that he exemplified "everything in this life that I do not want for myself, my marriage or my children," was signed by Judy Nischik Johnson. It was written on October 1, 1986, to "Mr. Hyles." He is better known as Dr. Jack Hyles, pastor of the huge First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, and Chancellor of Hyles-Anderson College. The Paula in the letter is Dr. Hyles' former daughter-in-law. And we should probably note that Mrs. Johnson hand-delivered the letter to his office to make certain he received it, rather than trusting the United States postal service. She was that serious about it.
Others knew about this long before we did, since its roots go back at least to 1971, but the philosophy and practice of Fundamentalism has been to sweep things like this under the rug, to bury it in the back recesses of Fundamentalism's closet . . . then lock the door and throw away the key. But this, dear reader, is neither right nor biblical.
THE BACKGROUND OF THE LETTER
About 17 or 18 years ago, Judy's parents, Victor and Jennie Nischik along with their two children, Judy and Jack, were members of the First Baptist Church in Hammond, happy as a family and dedicated to serving the Lord and the church. Vic was a deacon and a Sunday school teacher. As a young man, he given up a lifetime job with General Motors to become a part of Hyles' ministry, even though his preacher father warned him against so doing – in fact, he said "my parents practically disowned me for coming to Hammond." By his own testimony, Hyles was "a man I worshipped for nearly two decades as being the nearest thing to deity on earth." He says, "I was his most loyal follower; in the Bus Ministry for nearly 25 years; Choir Director for nearly 5 years in the '60s; and Deacon for over 24 years. " He also sang in the choir and served as song leader in the Sunday school.
One day Dr. Hyles came to Vic and said, "I need your wife in my office. " Even though their children were small, both husband and wife were delighted that she could be involved in such a worldwide ministry and Vic readily gave his consent.
A little time went by and the Nischiks began experiencing marital problems. She would not permit Vic to touch her. In 1971, Jennie told Vic she wanted a divorce; in fact, she gave him 24 hours to get out of town and never see his children again. He refused. When she called Hyles to the home, the latter offered Vic financial help to relocate elsewhere, suggesting Denver. Nischik totally rejected the offer, saying he wanted to keep his home together for the children's sake and because he loved his wife. Nothing was settled that night and the next day the three met again. This time, as Vic testified under oath:
"At that meeting the substance of it was that I produced evidence of an improper relationship between my wife and Hyles, and produced evidence to that effect, which caused him to beg me to stay for the sake of the church and the ministry, and after a number of days discussion, I agreed to stay for the sake of the church and for the sake of my children." He defined that improper relationship as personal involvement going farther than mere friendship, adding that when he produced his evidence, ". . . Hyles backed off about me leaving and, in fact, begging me to stay, and worked out the arrangement under which we have lived ever since." So, when this evidence was produced, instead of "get out of town within 24 hours and never see your children again," it became, in effect, "stay around and put on a front for the good of 'the ministry'."The bizarre solution Hyles worked out for the Nischiks was as follows: continue to live in the same house, but not see, speak, eat together, ride in the same automobile, or even contact one another in any way except for an hour or so on Christmas, exchanging gifts with the children. A schedule was even worked out about when each parent could be with the children, one that was rigidly followed.
At first Vic merely had a rollaway cot in the unfinished basement, but eventually a room was fixed up in one corner, for which he paid Jennie rent, even though he was allowed no physical contact whatsoever with her. This arrangement was "forced" on him and when, under oath, he was asked by his wife's attorney, William H. Tobin of Saul I Rubin & Associates, "Who forced that arrangement whereby you lived in the basement on you?" he replied, "Hyles did."
After more than a decade, in 1983, the basement living quarters became very damp and dangerous to Vic's health, so he went to Hyles and said he was going to move back into the master bedroom with his wife. Hyles told him, "I'd rather build a room for you," and he himself contacted a building contractor and paid for the addition at a cost, according to Hyles under oath (deposition taken on May 1, 1986), of "approximately $11,000," and according to Vic under oath (deposition taken on March 10, 1986), "$10,306." That room was over the garage.
A few years later, when Vic again demanded that Hyles terminate the affair with his wife, Hyles ordered Jennie to file for divorce. She did, but when Hyles realized that Nischik planned to put him on the witness stand in open court, the former met with the attorneys on both sides and unilaterally negotiated the terms of the divorce settlement.
According to Vic's attorney, Robert Hess of the firm Sachs & Hess, Vic did "everything in his power that is humanly possible" to keep his marriage intact. On May 28, 1986, writing to the Moody Bible Institute, Hess described it: "Initially, in 1971, at the sole request of his wife, he moved into the basement of the parties' home in order to keep the family together, his family being two young children at that time. He has lived separate and apart from his wife during this period, but in the same home, from 1971 until present, all for the purpose of keeping the family together and also for the purpose of keeping the marriage together even if it was in name only... To show you how strongly he felt about keeping the marriage together, even when the basement started getting water seepage, where it was impossible to live in the basement any longer, he had a dormer added to the home in order to have separate quarters so that his wife would not at that point in time either file a petition for dissolution of marriage or have him evicted from the home in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. This occurred in 1983. Unfortunately, Vic had no control whatsoever over his wife ultimately filing a petition for dissolution of the marriage and that was done as stated above on or about November 4, 1985, at which time Victor retained me to represent his interests in this dissolution of marriage proceeding. "
Vic opposed the divorce to the very end, even refusing to file a cross-petition, but under Indiana law the only requirement is for one party to state under oath that he/she wants the dissolution. Jennie so stated before Judge Kanz on May 23, 1986, and the divorce was granted. Attorney Hess declared of the case, "I might add that in twenty years of practice I do not recall any other case where an individual like Vic has taken the steps that he did to preserve his marriage, such as living in a basement for twelve years and then building a dormer at considerable expense in order to appease his wife and allow him to stay in the marital home." It is not merely interesting, but extremely significant that Vic's employer, the Moody Bible Institute, overruled a century-old policy written by Dwight L. Moody himself, which states, "Divorced, separated, or individuals married to divorced persons will not be employed as members of the Faculty, teaching and/or counseling staff of the Institute. Neither will they be employed at the vice-president, manager or director levels. At the time of the divorce, Vic was the MBI Director of Accounting. Several times he offered his resignation and it was refused.
At the church, when she was hired, Jennie Nischik was fixed up with an office adjoining Dr. Hyles' office, with a connecting door which, incidentally, had a huge drape in front of it so that no one coming into her office would know that a door was there. At least one of the fine ministers long associated with Hyles left because he could no longer, in good conscience, tolerate it. In response to my direct inquiry, a dear brother whom I have long respected as a man of integrity, wrote me on February 6, 1989:
"Thank you for your letter. You asked why my wife and I left Hyles-Anderson College having taught there for fifteen years, whether or not it had to do with any wrong doing on the part of Dr. Jack Hyles.
"Starting two years ago we were told by letter and personally by individuals that Dr. Hyles has a mistress, and that she is an office worker who has the office immediately next to his. About that same time I learned that those two offices not only each have a front door off the hallway but also have an inner door between their offices.
"After a while I was bothered by the rumors to the degree that I went to talk to Brother Hyles after a Sunday morning church service in his office. I began on a positive note. 'Brother Hyles, I love you very much. I have told you so frequently in person and in notes. I have served you faithfully these thirteen years. Now I am going to ask you to do me a favor.' 'What is that,' he asked. 'There re rumors going around that you and the lady in the next office are having an affair. The favor I am asking is that you get this inner connecting door boarded up, move this lady to a different office, and put male staff member in your adjoining office. I really believe it would help eliminate the rumors going around about you.' Dr. Hyles' reply to me was, 'No, I am not going to do that. You are wasting your time.'
"Although his refusal to grant my request did not prove or disprove anything, I felt in my heart that the Lord wanted my wife and me to leave First Baptist Church and Hyles-Anderson College and serve Him elsewhere. We left at the end of the 1988 school year."
In a follow-up letter, written 10 days after the first one, he said he believed "it would be very helpful to insert that this lady (Jennie Nischik) is not his secretary, but rather mails out his sermon tapes. Dr. Hyles' secretary is Mrs. McKinney who has an office across the hall from his office. " It is necessary for Hyles to leave his own office and cross the hall to personally visit his secretary.
When Hyles told this brother he would not honor his request, the latter reminded him that the Word of God enjoins us, "Abstain from all appearance of evil." And Hyles' response was, "My people need to trust me." The Bible support for abstaining from all appearance of evil is found in I Thessalonians 5:22. Where is the Bible support for "My people need to trust me" in times of appearance of evil? There is none, of course.
As my friend noted in retrospect, "Someone said, 'While we can always trust the Lord, we cannot always trust those who are trusting the Lord.' Is Hyles a better Christian than David or a stronger man than Samson? Yet both of these great men of God succumbed to adultery. We should not place ourselves in a position where temptation will arise." Amen!
Is this preacher a disgruntled church or faculty member with an axe to grind, trying to "get even" with Hyles? Quite the contrary, Hyles has been his hero for 20 years or more, a man he describes as having "the distinction of being the man I have loved more than any man who ever lived." His own dad had been an alcoholic and Hyles, as the father image he had never had, won his heart, got his admiration, and became his number one hero. His goal was to eventually become an associate pastor under Hyles.
Dozens of times when the church auditorium was empty, he would kneel at the altar right next to the pulpit and pray for the man he loved and respected. Scores of Sundays he would go to the alley behind the church, place his hands on the bricks outside Hyles' office, and pray for God's anointing on his pulpit ministry that day. He says, "For many years I would have died for Dr. Hyles at the drop of a hat if there had been a need to do so. " He still loves him, but he had to leave and is willing now to speak out because he feels Hyles betrayed the trust he placed in him.
The situation really came to a head in late 1985 when Vic had a showdown with Hyles, demanding that he leave his wife alone. It resulted in Jennie divorcing Vic on Hyles' orders, with Hyles picking up the tab, a matter Nischik says his ex-wife admitted to him. Three depositions were taken, one each from Hyles, Vic and Jennie. One responsible minister of unquestioned integrity, who read each of them, noted this about Hyles:
"Here is what I observed from Dr. Hyles deposition taken on May 1, 1986: He said that . . ."He buys Mrs. Nischik a new automobile every two years. "He loaned Mrs. Nischik $35,000 in which to invest so that she could derive interest from it. "He gave her a gift of $ 10,000.""He bought aluminum siding for the Nischik house"He gave Vic Nischik approximately $11,000 in order for him to have a room added to his house (pages 40-42)."He wrote about Jennie's:
"This is what I observed from Mrs. Nischik's deposition taken on February 5, 1986:"Over approximately the last eighteen years . . ."[Hyles] purchased her a new automobile (usually Buick or Oldsmobile) every other year for about the last eighteen years. . ." Paid for the insurance on the automobiles . . ." Paid for the driveway for the Nischik's house . . ." Paid for the air conditioner for the Nischik's house . . ." Gave $5,000 for her daughter Judy's education. " Gave $11,000 to build a room onto the Nischik's house . . ." Paid for a second telephone for the Nischik's house, a 'business' phone in her bedroom"
Writing about Vic's he said:
"And then I observed some things from Vic Nischik's deposition which was taken on March 10, 1986. He said ..."When their house in Munster was bought in 1968, that you were the one who negotiated the purchase. Vic said that he was never a party to the contract. That was 7 years after they were married, having married in 1961 . . . . "
This deal was certainly a strange one since Vic never paid a dime on it, never even signed the contract, nor did he have any say in selecting the floor plan. That house, by the way, was at 8219 on one street and the Hyles residence was at 8232 on the street behind it. The two houses could be viewed at the time-with lights flashed as signals-although trees have since blocked it.
We are not quoting more from his evaluation because the matters omitted are faced elsewhere in this paper. Since those depositions were made, in the Fall following the divorce, Jennie moved into a brand new beautiful condominium, paid for in cash to the tune of $150,000. While this may not come under the classification of supporting a mistress, it certainly is an excellent imitation! Hyles explains is as being due to his naturally generous character - a matter we do not deny, although we have a right to reserve our own opinion about why he is so generous.
The Nischiks had a 2,000-square foot house in an affluent section of Munster, unofficially appraised in mid-1981 at $125,000. After the 1971 fiasco, Mrs. Nischik was totally responsible for all expenses pertaining to the residence – house payments, taxes, insurance, utilities, upkeep, weekly cleaning lady, food, clothes, school tuition and everything else involved – all on her small secretarial salary. The daughter said they were never "wanting" and "always had very nice things," adding that she hated most of them because she knew why she had them and where they came from. "Hush money," she called it.
Yet it is important to remember that Vic only paid "rent," set by Hyles, of $250 a month until the room over the garage was added, then the " rent" went up to $268.34 to cover the extra expense of the maid cleaning an additional room, Vic, whose take-home pay was two or three times hers, said in a statement he was not permitted to present to the deacons, "Under no circumstances could I have been able to provide for her such a high life style." He also charged at that time, "Jack Hyles insisted that the financial support for Jennie be his responsibility," and noted that "annual vacations were provided for her," as well as "indications that substantial funds were being accumulated for future needs," concluding his marriage was wrecked "by a constant inflow of unaccounted cash."
When we asked Judy Nischik Johnson if she knew anything about Hyles her mother money, she replied, "Yes, I do. Everything that was provided when I was growing up was money that somehow mysteriously appeared to my mother." Without her seeing him put it in her mother's hand, she said she "knew it came from him," adding that she sometimes saw large amounts of cash lying round.
Perhaps a word would be in order about the large sums of unaccounted cash Hyles dispenses – with no records of any kind. By his own statement, he does not deposit his speaking honorariums in the bank, cashing them instead and disbursing them as he chooses – doing the same with gifts from "friends" across the country – and there is no record kept of the monies or of their distribution.
When he was subpoenaed to give a deposition in the Nischik case, he was ordered to "bring all his records. " He brought none. When the attorney asked why, he responded that there were none, that he never keeps any. Hyles says he has given hundreds of thousands of dollars" this way. (Whether the IRS knows of this interesting system of accounting or not, we cannot say.) We are not talking about petty cash, but large sums that have, at least to one individual, totaled tens of thousands of dollars.
Victor Nischik, as indicated earlier, tried his best to work within a biblical framework at the First Baptist Church, rather than telling his story to the outside word. He refused to resign from the deacon board and on two separate occasions, during deacons' meetings at the church, Nischik stood up and tried to tell his brethren what was going on, calling Dr. Hyles, an adulterer and a home wrecker.
The first time, when he attempted to read a 3-page letter, Hyles shouted, "You are trying to destroy Fundamentalism!" and the deacons joined with him in shouting Vic down, denying him the right to present his case. The statement he was not permitted to read said, in part, ". . . my home was tampered with and my marriage deliberately wrecked by Jack Hyles. He stole my wife, her loyalty and affection, and when the divorce hung in balance, unilaterally met with the two attorneys and negotiated the divorce settlement." The latter meeting took place only 8 days after Hyles' deposition was taken under oath, and just 12 days before the case was to be heard in court. The divorce was finalized two weeks to the day from Hyles' deposition!
Another deacon came to Vic's defense, but he was shouted down as well; in a letter to Hyles later, that brother noted, "I tried to speak to you about these areas and was put down by you." When still another deacon suggested that the rumors ought to be faced and answered, Hyles angrily responded, "There are rumors about me and any number of women; I can't answer them all. There are even rumors about me and your wife!" That silenced him and all the other deacons, too, since none wanted rumors started about their wives. The second time Vic brought it up the only response was stony silence. Since then, "about one third of the Deacon Board has resigned over this issue."
Strangely, one deacon resigned in protest because Vic, now a divorced man, remained on the board – and we are certainly not belittling his convictions – but said not a word about the mess involving the pastor! Why? One long-time member suggested it might be an ego problem not just in his case, but with all the others – an unwillingness to confess, "I've been an idiot, duped for the past 20 years, believing this man." That would be hard to admit!
Nonetheless, it was about this time that Judy wrote her letter, quoted earlier. The two Nischik children give their dad "unqualified support," freely acknowledge he is the one who has been wronged, disapprove of their mother's actions, and charge that the instigator of the trouble in the Nischik home was Hyles; they lay the totality of the fault at the minister's feet! Vic said to me, "I would never have taken on Jack Hyles unless my children had given me their full support."
It should be emphasized that Hyles and Jennie have never been caught in the act, as far as I can discover, like the woman in John 8. He has thoroughly indoctrinated his people with the idea, "If you didn't see it, it didn't happen." Even if they it I walked in a pastor's study and found him and some woman embracing and kissing on the floor, I'd just think he was giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation." While that quip always gets a laugh, it is at the same time subtle indoctrination to ignore what is going on. Perhaps it should be remembered, as one brother said to me, "Adultery never has been a spectator sport." There are never many witnesses, if any.
Yet, as the daughter said to me, it really doesn't matter to her whether he ever touched her mother or not, since what he did was wrong and destroyed their home, totally orchestrating the four lives of its members, day by day and minute by minute, right down to the last detail. As a child, her life was filled with fear, thinking that the pastor, for whom she has never had the slightest respect, might "snuff her out" if she caused trouble. The home environment in which the children were raised cannot be described as anything short of incredible. Remember, the only time the parents were in the same room together was an hour on Christmas morning when Vic and the children opened presents in the family room and Jennie sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee.
Every night, while sitting at the table around dinner, Judy recalls listening to her mother on the phone with Hyles, whether he was in town or not. In the early days, she did not answer the phone when her mother was at home. Later, when she did answer and Hyles was on the other end, it was embarrassing for both and he would say something like, "I'm in such-and-such a city and I'm running out of tapes. I need some more." Of course, there would be no way to get tapes to him before he left that city and it was an insult to Judy's intelligence for him to think she didn't know what was going on. Still later, they developed a signal: the phone would ring once and quit, then Jennie would go upstairs and call him back. Eventually a private line – a "business phone" – was installed in her bedroom and the privacy problem was solved. Hyles paid for all of it, including the monthly bill. That was probably the only "business" telephone in the greater Chicago area with an "unlisted" number!
Since Hyles and Mrs. Nischik lived around the corner from each other, one would follow the other home from church and when the one in the lead turned into his or her drive, there would be a "lights on and off" signal like two teenagers.
Again we emphasize that good men have tried to face Hyles with these serious problems. Several prominent Fundamentalist ministers have independently written Dr. Hyles about them and asked to meet with him. He does not answer their communication. Dr. Ed Nelson, a prominent Colorado Fundamentalist, told me he wrote him twice and received no response either time. Dr. Walt Handford, a long-time friend of Dr. Hyles, wrote him a very kind and earnest letter asking if they could discuss the problem. He received no answer. Later, in a personal contact, he asked Dr. Hyles if he had received his letter. After Hyles replied in the affirmative, Dr. Handford asked, "When will you let me talk to you about it?" Hyles answered, "Never. I am the husband of one wife, the mother of my children." Sometimes he adds, I have been told, "and she's the only woman I've ever been with." I offered Dr. Hyles an opportunity to include an additional disclaimer in this article, but received no response. No one has been able to do anything.
In fact, his standard answer is that his policy is not to answer critics or respond to rumors. That is not entirely true. For example, the last two years he sent out mailings prior to Pastors' School in an attempt to shoot down rumors (or, some think, boost attendance). Earlier this year he mailed a release for the '89 school that started:
"Dear Friend of Pastors' School:
"THE RUMORS ARE NOT TRUE!!!!!!!
"It has been called to my attention that rumors have been circulated around the country that I am resigning the First Baptist Church, and that there will be no Pastors' School this year, Another rumor has it that I am terminally ill.
"NONE OF THE RUMORS THAT YOU HAVE HEARD IS TRUE, THEY'RE ABSOLUTELY FALSE. I PLAN TO BE AT FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. THE CHURCH HAS NEVER BEEN IN BETTER SHAPE. WE HAVE NEVER HAD A BETTER SPIRIT, AND, YES, WE WILL HAVE PASTORS' SCHOOL THIS YEAR."
So Jack Hyles does answer rumors – and the seven exclamation points (count 'em) are exactly as he had them in his letter. It is just reports – coming from sundry and divers sources – about his relationship to Jennie Nischik that he will not answer. (In our judgment, it is false to say "the church has never been in better shape," also!) Since the rumors started circulating around First Baptist, one long-time member estimates that "perhaps forty percent of his teaching and preaching has been in defense of himself, seeking to squelch the scandal."
THE MESS PERMEATES ALL OF FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH & HYLES-ANDERSON COLLEGE!
Since, as Dr. Lee Roberson has so aptly insisted, "Everything rises and falls on leadership," let's start at the top with Dr. Hyles and work down from there. According to some in the church and school, the idea, "who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless?" (I Samuel 26:9), has been hammered home so hard and so repeatedly that the church deacon board and school administration have been paralyzed. As we already noted, however, this verse was never intended to help anyone escape the consequences of his sin.
Before we start, perhaps we should say again that we are not charging Jack Hyles with adultery at this time. We are charging him, however, with very poor and unwise actions that have devastated the lives of many, many people whom he has tried to control. As the young woman we quoted earlier expressed it: so what if nothing ever happened between him and her mother – if he never laid a hand on her – does that make right everything else that went on? She added, "I'll probably never know until I get to Heaven whether he did anything or not, but I don't care whether he did or didn't." She observed that if he had gone out and slept with a prostitute, but other people's lives hadn't been devastated, it would have been sin, but not as bad as what he has done in turning family members against each other, friends against friends, and all the rest.
Let's take a look at some of the things in this sordid story that distress us.
1. Hyles adopted what could be considered a Mormon philosophy of celestial marriage to justify his relationship with Jennie Nischik. When, under oath, Vic was asked the nature of his evidence about the "improper relationship" between Hyles and his wife, he responded, "I produced some intimate letters. " Under oath, he described the contents of those letters from Hyles to his wife as: "Expressions of love, expressions of affection, expressions of gratitude for having lunches together, expressions of meeting different places and whatever, and expressions of loyalty and love forever." (This is what was put "in writing" that the daughter, Judy, referred to in her letter to Hyles, paragraph 2, quoted at the beginning of this article.)
Explaining it later to me, Vic said the letters described what the two had as a heavenly marriage. One thing is sure, as another family member explained to me, Jennie's loyalty to Jack Hyles was supreme, coming before loyalty to husband, daughter or son.
2. In 1971, when Jennie first demanded that Vic leave, Hyles came to him and asked if once a divorce had been granted, he had permission to marry her. Obviously, there were no witnesses to this conversation and its truthfulness or falseness should be evaluated in the light of everything else this article reveals.
3. Bizarre as it seems' in 1985, when Vic demanded that he give him his wife back, Hyles told Vic that he could have Beverly (Mrs. Hyles), with the same relationship Hyles enjoyed with Jennie. The offer was declined, of course. Once again, this was a private conversation with no witnesses. Mrs. Hyles did leave her husband at one time, but she, too, came back "for the good of the ministry." At any rate, you may also evaluate this charge in the light of everything else.
Regarding these private conversations with no witnesses, one lady who was long a leader in the Sunday school and held other important positions in the church, told me of being in his office when he revealed some "inside information," then warned her about ever revealing what he had said. Peering at her over the coffee table, he threatened, "If you say I said this, I will deny it – and it will be your word against mine." Others have told me the same.
Doesn't Hyles love his wife? A man who taught in Hyles-Anderson College for 15 years and had a member of First Baptist even k testifies that after sitting through countless services he had only Hyles mention his wife approximately 10 times – all, in his recollection within the last 2 years when pressure of the problem seemed to dictate it – and even then never in reference to affection, only such matters as, "I helped Mrs. Hyles dress the children when they were little," "Mrs. Hyles is selling her book after the service in the lobby," and things of that nature.
He said, "There is no doubt about it that for years a person could join First Baptist Church on Sunday morning, sit in every service for a solid year hearing his every announcement, Sunday school lesson, Sunday morning and evening messages, and not know he had a wife." He also said that during the 16 years he had been a member, he had seen Jack and Beverly together 3 times: when the chairman of the deacon board asked both to come to the pulpit area to receive a gift from the church, at a wedding rehearsal dinner for one of their daughters, and once when he went to the Hyles home with a gift for Mrs. Hyles' mother.
One man, long on the faculty the college and who knew them well – on a first name basis – told me, "In all the years I was there I never once saw Jack and Beverly together. I never once heard them say a word to each other. That not the way it was in the early days when I first knew them." The Hyles marital difficulty probably goes back at least to 1967. One of his associates went to Hyles over 20 years ago, at Mrs. Hyles request, to ask him to stop the affair. His reward for interfering was to be verbally brutalized by Hyles and, soon after, he was forced to leave.
As distasteful as it is to mention, perhaps we should refer to what one First Baptist deacon called "common knowledge" around the church, namely, that Jack and Beverly have separate bedrooms, the latter confiding to one of her best friends in Hammond, who told me herself, that Jack had not "touched" her in over 20 years. Others have told me the same. This woman, by the way, quoted Beverly, "Jennie Nischik is the one woman in my husband's life." Mrs. Hyles did not get to attend Dr. John R. Rice's funeral because her husband would not permit her to travel with him to Tennessee. When some of her friends offered to take her with them, she declined, saying she would not know how to explain it to the Rice sisters.
As far back as 1971, Hyles took four women, including Jennie, on an all-expense trip to Hawaii. He went alone with these women, the only male in the group, stayed at the same hotel with them, but his own wife did not accompany the party!
We suggest to Dr. Hyles that he go back and read chapter 11 of his book, Let's Build an Evangelistic Church, published in 1962, titled, "Let's Include the Family. It could revolutionize his marital situation – if he would take his own advice, written before Jennie Nischik came into his life, and when his home was apparently what God intended it to be.
4. Judy Nischik Johnson described her former pastor as a thief. She charged him with robbing her of a normal childhood, never knowing what it was like to have family discussions around a dinner table, never going as a family on a picnic or to the zoo, never visiting as a family with friends or relatives, never having family worship with a father and mother, never even able to go to church together as a family unit, and never able to invite friends into her home because of shame over what was going on.
She said Hyles also robbed her of feelings of self-worth ("He literally robbed me of my self-worth for 20 years! I thought I was a bad person because of this"), strength ("I wonder now how I even lived"), and even hope for the future since she believed a normal marriage and home life with husband and children was unattainable in her circumstance. The latter was the result of a sermon she heard Dave Hyles preach at camp about kings' sons being like the king – and children like their parents. She was filled with horror, thinking it was predetermined that she must have a home like that of her parents.
5. While we are not breaking any new ground with Hyles' only son, we add the story again now because it fits the total picture and helps explain the overall problem. David (whom his father called "the most brilliant, spiritual man he ever met"; but the feelings were obviously mutual since Dave told a friend of mine, "My dad made Dr. [John R.] Rice"), although married at the time, was involved with numerous girls and women in Hammond. A student who served as a security guard said the women were coming and going from Dave's office in the Youth Center in a steady stream. Often Mrs. Hyles would call and ask him, "What woman does my husband have in his office now?" In fact, the matter so disturbed him that he decided "what's the use" and dropped out of school. Fortunately, he later finished his training and is now serving the Lord as a pastor.
On occasion, Dave used a friend's apartment for his "counseling sessions" with the ladies. One of the saddest cases involved a college administrator's daughter while she was still in high school.It seems clear to me that he took advantage of a teen's innocence and seduced her, which makes this "conquest" even more nefarious than some of the others. In a telephone conversation with this writer, the father said he completely repudiated the entire story as "totally erroneous," "an absolute I lie," and we assured him we would print his disclaimer to that effect. However, the abundant evidence we have in hand of its truthfulness is, in our judgment, unimpeachable.
One minister who gave me this information was formerly associated with Hyles in Hammond, but left when one of the leaders – one of the more prominent men associated with Hyles over the years – came to him privately as a friend and said that if he, like this man, had teen-age daughters, he would not want them in such an environment. On reflection, he decided he didn't either, took the brother's warning, and left. It makes you wonder about the full-page college ads Hyles runs in the Sword of the Lord, "WE PROTECT YOUR DAUGHTERS," doesn't it?
While this is what got Dave away from Hammond, the problem had been going on for a long, long time. One minister, who both went to school and worked with Dave, said it was common knowledge at the church that he had moral problems. People quit the church over it. Pastor Hyles refused to even discuss it. Parents went to him with letters Dave had written their daughters containing obscene and immoral content. He would reach for the letters and say, "I'll take care of it," but the only thing taken care of was the evidence, which the parents no longer had in their possession.
After these shenanigans in Hammond, Hyles let his former church – Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland – call Dave without the slightest warning to the leadership in Texas of any problem. When the deacons called Dr. Hyles and asked what he thought about their calling his son, he only said, "Well, Dave is his own man."
In a short time Dave became involved with a number of women at Miller Road and the whole thing blew sky high. Young Hyles had foolishly put a large number of pictures of women and himself, sans clothing – some members, some not – in a suitcase, then put the valise in the dumpster behind the church. It was a nice looking fairly new suitcase and the janitor's son spotted it while he was playing around the trash. He helped himself, as kids are prone to do, but, since it was locked, he took it to his father, who managed to get it open.
What a shock! The janitor, in turn, took the pictures to a couple of the deacons, who met privately with Dave before taking it to anyone else. The chairman of the board called a meeting to discuss it with all the deacons and eventually the board unanimously asked for Hyles' resignation. There was not even one dissenting vote.
Hyles then abandoned his wife and children, going to Illinois with another man's wife – one of the women he had been involved with – living together without the benefit of clergy. A child was conceived and eventually the couple married. At one time, with reference to Miller Road, Dave had made arrangements to come back to the church and apologize, confessing all of his sin, but on the scheduled night, just a few minutes before he was to leave for the church, he received a call telling him not to confess.
In the meantime, while still a Miller Road, Dave and another youth minister started a magazine for teens. We do not think more than an issue or so had been distributed before the story of the adulterous relations ships blew up and numerous Christians around the country were out the money they had invested. No did any who had subscribed receive refunds. In addition, the Miller Road Baptist Church was threatened with a lawsuit by the printer who had been doing the work. Although the church was not tied into the magazine in any way – it had not authorized it or assumed any kind of responsibility – for the testimony of Christ, Miller Road Baptist paid the printer's bill of well over $10,000. Dave, in the meantime, had taken a good job with an insurance sales organization headquartered in Atlanta, boasting to friends that he was making as much as $17,000 a month, well over $100,000 a year, and he assured some of the men in the church he would repay the money.
To date, he hasn't paid back a dime!
As one close to the Hyles family explained to me, "David Hyles had an incredible teacher. Dave is the way he is because his dad is the way he is, although their problems may not be exactly parallel. After seeing your father get away with things for so many years, why wouldn't you be convinced that you could go out and do the same, or worse, and get away with it?"
We are not sure whether Hyles' book, How To Rear Children, is still being published.
6. Hyles' second daughter, Becky, is married to Tim Smith, one of the famous Smith brothers, friends of Dave Hyles and products of the First Baptist ministry from their youth up – Terry, Tim and Tom – a trio often used in the past to illustrate the tremendous work First Baptist is doing. When Tim, whom Dr. Hyles always called "the tow-headed fool," was with the Sheridan Road Baptist Church & School at Saginaw, Michigan, he "conducted an extended relationship with a seventeen-year-old student, whom he took to Florida for several months, leaving his wife and children behind and devastating the church," according to a major exposé cover story article ("A Jim and Tammy Tale in Dallas; Power, sex, greed – and a wealthy Baptist church ripped apart") in D Magazine of Dallas, dealing with the large Canyon Creek Baptist Church in suburban Richardson where all three brothers are located (Terry is pastor; Tim is School Administrator; Tom, apparently, merely a member). In addition to claiming Terry had made sexual advances or had affairs with "seven other women," whose names members of the church uncovered, the magazine implied numerous financial shenanigans by both Terry and Tim.
Since then, David Frost, on NBC-TV's new "Inside Edition" – in fact, the premier program – featured Kristina Becker and her allegation that Terry Smith had emotionally and sexually abused her when she turned to him for counseling. She and her husband, Gregory, are now suing Smith and the church for "sexual assaults by deception and fraud," seeking damages in six figures. The Smiths deny all the allegations. One man, who was a deacon at the time of the "explosion," told me if he hadn't been involved in the work of the Lord for 35 years, such a revelation "would have put me under."
At this writing, in addition to Mrs. Becker, at least four women have given depositions in the case and the trial is tentatively scheduled for April 3, too late for us to report the outcome in this article.
We think the situations involving lack and David Hyles have lowered standards at the church and college to such an extent that normal qualifications for workers and leaders held by other Fundamentalists no longer exist in Hammond. We will list some cases as examples, strictly among the leadership, for the purpose of showing a pattern.
7. Marriage is treated so lightly in Hammond that some think divorce is the rule rather than the exception. Karen Plopper, on the church staff, divorced her husband. When the latter, Ray, sought pastoral help to save the marriage, Hyles refused to intervene. Roy Moffitt is one of the associate pastors and his wife, JoJo, is a women's conference speaker. Their daughter divorced her husband after only a few weeks of marriage – a matter for which we would not normally fault the parents – but she did so while blaming her father for pushing her into a marriage she did not want. (Roy was recently given an honorary degree from Hyles-Anderson College and JoJo, was one of the featured speakers at the "Digging for Gold 14th Annual Christian Womanhood Spectacular" at First Baptist last October.) Mrs. Earlyne Stephens, the college bursar and Jack Hyles' sister, is divorced. So is her daughter, Mrs. Margaret Oats.
8. Mrs. Fay Dodson heads the highly touted Phoster Clubs at the church and college, credited also with starting 900 similar clubs throughout the country. She divorced her first husband and shortly thereafter was given the job of starting and directing the Phoster Clubs. Her second husband was Louis Dodson. At last Fall's Women's Spectacular at the church, Mrs. Dodson was honored at a special tea reception and cited as being the greatest miracle in First Baptist. According to an alumnus with two degrees from Hyles-Anderson, she "owes thousands of dollars to a businessman I know personally, and counseled another friend of mine's wife to divorce him."
9. Dr. Dennis Streeter is the college physician. His wife, Jean, is a part-time faculty member who was asked to establish the Marriage & Christian Womanhood curriculum at Hyles-Anderson College and head up that department. He got a nurse associated with his medical practice pregnant and the Streeters are now divorcing; we consider Jean an innocent victim. He still retains his position with the college. Strangely, back in 1987, Dr. Cal Streeter, Dennis' brother, wrote Nischik a very pious letter, quoting Scripture and preaching to him about his attitude and actions relating to Jack Hyles.
At any rate, we think the First Baptist deacon was right when he said divorce at the church and schools have reached "epidemic proportions." There are numerous other cases we could describe, but time and space prohibit it.
10. The head of one of the church's ministries was caught by a pastor in Michigan, where he was holding meetings, with a woman in his motel room. This man had an affair with a student's wife, and that home broke up. Hyles knew this, but still helped the guilty get out of town and into a pastorate. The more we learn, the less we think of that slogan, less we think of that slogan, "WE PROTECT YOUR DAUGHTERS!"
11. Sex problems, as noted above in Dave's cases, are treated lightly ' One teacher discovered that a student was a homosexual, reported it to the school authorities, was told "we'll take care of it," but nothing was done and the homosexual is now a graduate of Hyles-Anderson. (That teacher, no longer at the college. related the incident in his classroom, to the shock of all the class.)
Some years back, two deacons discovered a secret room in the basement of the Rescue Mission – mirrors on walls and ceiling – that served as a place for homosexual encounters; Hyles was told, but did nothing. He was also told several times that his mission director, now deceased, was a womanizer and viewer of X-rated videos, especially ones dealing with incest. He refused to do anything about it, no doubt because "if he didn't see it, it didn't happen." The same man was also overheard numerous times using profanity while dealing with converts at the altar of the church during invitations; Hyles refused to intervene. A high school faculty member was caught by another faculty member having sex with a teenager on school property; Hyles was informed, but refused to deal with it. We are aware of two other college faculty members guilty of adultery.
12. Hyles "married with much pomp and circumstance" a young Korean Hyles-Anderson coed, Yuck (also called Yuoak, Yulee, and various other names") Chong, to Dr. John Stancil, circulation manager of The Sword of the Lord and a frequent Sword Conference speaker, less than 5 months after the latter's divorce from his wife Brenda was finalized on April 6, 1988! As someone said to me, "That was a mighty short time for a man to court, fall in love, become engaged, and marry another woman." Actually, much of the romance was carried on while Stancil was still married to his first wife. Brenda said she later learned that "he had been seeing Miss Chong in Indiana for quite a while before his divorce became final and that he had spent Christmas of 1987 with her and her family after telling our children he would be home alone. She was in Murfreesboro on at least four occasions . . . ." All this was while the Stancils were still married.
One of those visits calls attention to an even more unfortunate and unsavory matter. Since college regulations called for Miss Chong to stay with someone else while at Murfreesboro, arrangements were made for her to visit in the home of Mrs. Doris Roberts, a Sword employee of long standing and Stancil's secretary, business manager and close confidant. Conveniently, the latter was given a plane ticket to visit her son in Florida at that time, leaving Miss Chong without proper chaperone.
A lady who went to the house to meet her and get acquainted relates, "When I got to the door, I found she and John there alone making love on the sofa." (She defined "making love" as "lying fully prostrate, clothing in disarray, with movement, stroking, kissing, and bodies touching"; she said she could not "say for certain if sexual intercourse was occurring or had occurred," a matter that seems immaterial when considering the fact Stancil was still married to another woman.) The lady watched for awhile, then left and went to a friend's house nearby and asked her to return as a witness, finding "the two were still on the sofa." The lady placed her business card on the window of Stancil's Mercedes-Benz and left.
Stancil's position with The Sword did not change throughout all of this and his pulpit ministry is still being promoted in its pages!
13. One of the men on the staff at the college spoke in the high school chapel earlier this year, supposedly warning young men about how girls entice boys, but he used such suggestive, obscene language in describing what the girls did that one of the lady faculty members raised a ruckus. No one else seemed to object.
14. Regarding the slogan "We Protect Your Daughters," when my editorial appeared last October a brother called to ask if it were about Hyles. After answering in the affirmative, he said that he had been so distressed about things in Hammond that he called his students at Hyles-Anderson home (he had as many as 7 at one time). The straw that broke the camel's back was when the bus came to pick up the girls at the dorm and take them to the services. The bus driver, a college staff member, stood on the steps as the girls boarded, forcing them to squeeze by. The daughter of this preacher, who later called to tell me her story personally, said that when she got on he put his hand on her derriere and rubbed her. It startled and frightened her, she commenced crying, and went to the back of the bus to sit down.
Later, when her roommate asked the problem, the latter told her she must report it. When she said she'd rather just forget it, the roommate insisted, saying the same man had been making passes at a friend of hers who worked on scholarship in his department. This girl had reported him and he, in turn, said the problem was that she wasn't doing her work and he had been forced to reprimand her. It resulted in the girl, on a work scholarship for 3 years, being transferred and told she had "a bad attitude."
At the insistence of her friend and a friendly faculty member, the girl who talked to me eventually went to the school president with her story. What happened? She was told the staff member would not be permitted to be on the girls' buses again – and that's all that was done. A month or so later he was back on the bus! There had been some other problems which went begging for solutions – for example, one of the girls in the room was stealing from the others and when the pastor's daughter reported it, she was told she ought to "share" things; eventually the thief was just switched to another room – so the pastor finally decided he wanted "better protection" for his daughter, called all his students home, and started his own Bible institute.
15. One person who was on the college staff for well over a decade wrote me about Hyles: "He has a fun and games meeting once a month with the college girls in the chapel. He showers thousands of dollars on these girls every month. The girls swoon over him like the young people do for movie celebrities as they crowd all around him on the pulpit throughout the entire meeting." The same person sent me a copy of a song he taught them to sing at these sessions – I already had it since he "sang" it on his "Eternal Humanity of Jesus" tape – which goes like this:
"Look at all that hair, Look at all that hair,'Tis the answer to a college woman's prayer;It's no joke that I'm provoked,'Cause I'm not allowed to stroke Those bushy locks of Boopsie-Woopsie's hair.
"Blessed locks, precious locks,On those dear old hair-sprayed threads I love to look; As I sit in chapel chairAnd adore his gorgeous hair,I can hardly keep my mind upon the Book. "
"Boopsie-Woopsie," incredibly, is the coeds' pet name for Hyles. And he taught them to sing this inane ditty, which he says he wrote himself, to the tune of the sweet gospel song, "My Mother's Bible." If that is not sacrilege, it will do until someone can think up some!
He also wrote this one, sung to the tune of another precious gospel song, "Come and Dine":
"'Where's the beef,' the women calleth, 'Where's the beef?'As they gaze at bulging biceps of the chief.There they drool with envy green,While with jealousy they dream, Wishing they could find a guy with equal beef."
When he appeared on the platform at Pastors' School in the past, his associates, primed in advance no doubt, started chanting "Where's the beef?" Here's a friendly eyewitness account from a preacher who attends annually: "Most all services conducted at pastor's school begin with such foolishness as him flexing his muscles. People shout out "where the beef?" and Hyles takes off his jacket and shows them his arms. For about 10 minutes or so it is plain foolishness. It doesn't offend me, but it doesn't edify me either."
Here is an eyewitness account of what happens when Boopsie-Woopsie gets together with his coeds:
"The meeting with the girls is once a month, usually on a Thursday evening starting around 8 p.m. The girls are in the chapel waiting with all kinds of gifts and letters for him. When he finally arrives, fifty or more girls run up and crowd around him and sit down on the platform. He takes off his jacket and flexes his muscles and poses this way and that while they scream, ooh and aah and carry on. He jokes with them and carries on conversation with those who call out to him. He sits down on the platform with the girls all around him. They joke and he jokes with the girls in the audience. He brings with him a stack of love letters and gifts that the boys give to him for the girls or he picks them up off the pulpit where they have been left by the boys to give to the girls. He opens each note and reads it to the girl after he has her stand up. She then comes up to get her note and gift from her boyfriend via the preacher. Then they all sing choruses, love songs, old songs and songs he writes.
"On occasions he has given out round trip airline tickets to several girls, honeymoons, telephone call to each girl, money to spend at Peddlers Way on campus, tuition for a month or tuition for a semester, a dress or outfit for several girls, or any other need he wanted to fill. He also has given a $ 10 bill to each lady who walks across the platform and shakes his hand. About 800 ladies creates a whopping bill, along with all the other gifts handed out in one night – plus pizza, pop, ice cream and candy bars for a 10 p.m. treat in the dining hall that he joins. One of the evenings was figured to be around $17,000."
One of the financial officers said he knew for a fact that this money sometimes came out of the surplus fund. What a potential for ill is this coed meeting – a loaded powder keg with a short fuse! – although, in this case, we are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and credit him with trying to keep the coeds from getting homesick. If he has such a service for the boys, we are not aware of it.
16. Before we leave the moral issues, we must say how distressed we have been for several years with what we consider must surely be untruthfulness in his preaching. His stories are so colorful, so fantastic, so numerous, so uncharacteristic of normal reality, we could not help but wonder if he did not take smatterings of fact and build them into delightful tales. One thing is sure: Jack Hyles is always the hero in each and every one of them, and the listener cannot help saying to himself, "Boy, what a spiritual giant, a hero of the faith!" As our youngest son, in his review of The C S. Lewis Hoax, wrote recently: "Beware the man who is the hero of all his own stories!" We think that advice is very fitting with reference to Hyles, too. Later we will mention his attendance, baptism, and other statistics.
Does all of this have an effect on the church and student body? How could it not? Here is an illustration. An evangelist associated with the school spoke at a church in Southern Indiana. A short time later the pastor confided to him this sad but true story. His son had been a student at Hyles-Anderson. In his junior year he quit because of the rumors about Hyles and his mistress. The brokenhearted dad said, "Upon coming home, my boy shortly afterward took up with a divorced woman and now has a son by her out of wedlock. Usually, he won't come to church now. My boy was going to be a preacher."
There are other charges we think are true but were taken out of this paper as we prepared to go to press because we couldn't document them. Those who knew the facts were afraid to speak out – or chose to remain silent for personal reasons. Undeniably, however, we have presented sufficient to substantiate our case.
Someone is going to answer to God for these matters, you may be certain!
Dr. John R. Rice used to say "Mark this down: false doctrine leads to false living, and false living leads to false doctrine." When a man goes wrong in one, don't be surprised when he goes astray in the other.
In our October 1, 1988, issue,' in my "Off the Cuff!" feature, I wrote an editorial, "One of the Blights of Bigness." I called attention to some heresy a prominent pastor and leading Fundamentalist had been preaching. Although I did not name him then, I was speaking of Hyles.
Most of our readers, knowledgeable of the Fundamentalist movement, correctly surmised the man I had in mind. A number of them wrote or called to give additional information. One brother, who earned two degrees at Hyles-Anderson over an 8-year period, wrote: "It took a great deal of courage to write the article on Dr. Hyles recently, but it needed to be said. I, too, am greatly alarmed by some of the statements coming from him, and have been for years. I am a graduate of Hyles-Anderson, and a long-time reader of your paper. After sitting under his ministry for eight years and obtaining two degrees from the school, I can assure you that you are right on target, and the half has not been told! I heard more 'new' truth there than you or God could ever dream of!" Some who have been in the church for years refer to this new truth as "Hyles-ology!"
Note the following...
1. In Hyles' sermon, "Don't Cut the Grass," he taught that all of us have wheat and tares in us, but we should let both grow side-by-side and not cut anything, lest we cut out the wheat (good) in us by mistake. This is a horrible misunderstanding, a completely unscriptural misapplication of that parable.
2. On numerous occasions, Hyles has taught that there are two gifts of life in salvation, one is eternal life and the other is everlasting life. The distinction being, he says, is that one is qualitative and the other quantitative. One member wrote me, "This heresy has wrought havoc among the church membership," people concluding they are only half saved.
Here is how he explained it in a sermon, "The Gifts of God Are Everlasting Life & Eternal Life," on April 28, 1985. He started by misquoting Romans 6:23 as "the gifts of God" (plural) instead of "the gift of God" (singular). He said, "When a person receives Christ as his Savior ... God gives him immediately – and he is an immediate possessor of – everlasting life. Though he has a gift of everlasting life, he does not necessarily possess eternal life. For everlasting life is a quantity of life and eternal is a quality of life." That is mere mumbo-jumbo, of course.
He went on, "At that same time of salvation, God makes available to that person who is a recipient of everlasting life, the gift of eternal life. The gift of everlasting life is taken once and for all when you receive Christ as Savior, and the gift of eternal life is made available." "Eternal life is a gift, but it is only made available at the acceptance of everlasting life."
Eternal life, he said, "is a life that must be received every day," adding, "Every time you get out of bed at the sunrise in the morning, God looks at you and says, 'I have another gift for you today. I have the gift of eternal life. You can accept that gift and live in eternity, or you can refuse that gift and live like the base animals of the world live'." He said there were hundreds of members of First Baptist Church of Hammond who "have everlasting life, but you are not a possessor this morning of eternal life. You are living like the animals of the field live."
To them, Hyles said, "God comes to everyone this morning who by faith has received the gift of everlasting life and, God says, 'Now, let me give you, while you're on your way to Heaven, let me give you eternal life, full life, rich life, spiritual life.'. . . How I long for our people to have eternal life." He said the problem with Fundamentalism is that "we're preaching the gospel of everlasting life, but not preaching the gospel of eternal life," calling the latter "another life," "something else," "a gift besides everlasting life."
When he got ready to close his message, he said, "[God] comes this morning to you who have never received Him, 'Believe on Me as your Savior and take my gift of everlasting life.' He comes to those of you this morning who have done that already and says, 'Now, receive My free gift of eternal life'." Such a distinction between everlasting life and eternal life is totally unwarranted from the Word of God, of course. It is pure fantasy.
3. Hyles goes once a week to the mausoleum where his mother's remains are interred and prays to her. In his prayer meeting talk on December 3, 1987, he noted that his mother is not dead, just moved beyond his senses. "Hence, I go to the cemetery and visit with her and speak to her. She can hear me, but I cannot hear her." (Why go to the cemetery? His mother is not there; she is in Heaven. According to this philosophy, she could hear him if he talked to her from a bar.) Let the Catholics pray to Mary, Hyles prays to his mother. As one of his members wrote, complaining about "the deification and adoration" of Mother Hyles: "We have heard on many occasions how God used her to bring the latest savior into the world. His attachment to his late mother borders on the bizarre. We in Hammond have our own Holy Mother of Hyles."
On the Saturday before the "big" Sunday (November 22, 1986), according to what he told his congregation, Hyles went to the mausoleum and pleaded with his mother to pull for him to reach the goal he had set (have more people in Sunday school than the population of Hammond). Hyles later claimed victory: 139,000 in Sunday school and 29,000 conversions! Both figures, I have been assured, were highly padded. (One of his workers, in a case with which I am familiar, quit over the lies and exaggerations dealing with attendance and conversions.)
As one deacon at First Baptist put it, "attendance and conversion statistics have been padded for years." Another deacon's wife assured me the same and explained how she knew. Although we had forgotten all about it until we were working on this article, there is indication he falsified, intentionally or unintentionally, the figures at Miller Road too. Since it was being advertised that he had "baptized over 700" his last year or two there, at my request the pastor who succeeded him had his secretary run a tape check on the baptisms. The figures for the last three years were 296 (1956-57), 324 (1957-58), 275 (1958-59). Baptisms for the church's out-of-town missions were, in the same order, 195, 147 and 32. Even with these added, the figures were only 491, 471 and 307, showing a steady decline. Please do not misunderstand: 307 baptisms his last year in Garland was great! But it is not even half of "over 700."
Getting back to praying to the dead, Hyles has pictures in his study of John R. Rice, Lester Roloff, his mother, and Lee Roberson. Before he leaves town on a speaking engagement, he says he follows this ritual: he stops before the pictures of Rice and Roloff, promising them he will do his best; then he stops before the picture of his mother and asks her to intercede for him to do a good job while he is preaching.
4. Not only does Hyles pray to the dead, he apparently prays for the dead. In a sermon on February 7, 1988, "Full Reward," he said one of the reasons he was so driven in his ministry was that he hoped his efforts would lessen his father's suffering in Hell. He told about his father first cursing him when he told him he had been called to preach, then telling him to go out and build the biggest church in the world. Later, he said, on the day Elmer Towns presented him with a plaque for pastoring the church with the world's largest Sunday school, he went to his office, got on his face, and cried, "Daddy, I did what you said the best I could." Then he said, "I'd like to think maybe that one little statement he gave me gave me some motivation and I'd like to think that maybe my life will help a little bit his eternity."
That is full-blown Roman Catholicism, on two counts. First, in the matter of praying to the dead; and, second, thinking something he could do would ease his lost father's suffering in Hell.
5. He totally reversed his posture on Bible translations and now endorses the Peter Ruckman position. An alumnus of Hyles-Anderson wrote me: "I believe that the death of Dr. Rice was a downhill step in Dr. Hyles' life. In 1979 I heard him take our position on the KJV, the historic position, and vowed to expel students who advocated Ruckman's position. Shortly after Dr. Rice's death he jumped on the Ruckman bandwagon, and now acts as if he believed it all along. I was there! I heard the message, and it disturbs me that he changed. One friend of mine was nearly expelled because of asking several about the change. [Hyles] now plies the 'new posture' consistently. "
We were interested that an excerpt of his sermon printed in the Evangelical Methodist quoted him, "I don't like the Statement of Faith that says we believe the Bible is the Word of God in the original manuscripts." The Sword of the Lord Foundation statement of faith, which Hyles is required to sign every year, says he believes "in the verbal inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures and their absolute reliability and authority, without error, in the original manuscripts." And, in so signing, he "solemnly affirms" that he believes so "from my heart, without mental reservations or evasion." He also annually promises to resign that post when he can no longer so sign the statement.
A note of humor here: on the opening Sunday night of Pastors' School a few weeks ago, Hyles called John Stancil to the platform and told the people he wanted everyone to subscribe to The Sword. Ushers were ready with hundreds of sample copies – and it turned out the issue was for March 17, 1989, containing a prominent front-page article written by Gary R. Hudson, "Ruckman's Unscriptural Claims for the K.J.V." We got a chuckle!
6. In light of the previous item, not only does Hyles now say the KJV is the only "inspired translation," he claims that if your personal worker used any other English translation you are not saved: the genes we flawed.
7. For those who missed my October 1, 1988, editorial, Hyles teaches that one should store up merits (works) to offset times of demerits (sins). If you have enough in reserve God will forgive your sin and put you back in business. It is "second cousin" teaching to the old Roman Catholic doctrine of indulgences, a tenet totally repudiated by the Word of God. For example, Ezekiel 33:12,13, say, "The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him the day of his transgression. . . neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it." Note especially for the one who falls: "all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered!" There certainly is no building up merits for use against demerits here, is there?
8. As noted in the same editorial, his message on the eternal humanity of Christ was blasphemy and heresy. It had been preached on February 16, 1986, and we frankly hoped was some idea that hit him on the spur of the moment. No, it is some thing he has preached again and again over several years and we have since heard it on a number of his tapes. On March 13, 1988, he was high lighting it in his Sunday evening sermon, "Human Nature Is Not Really Human Nature," saying again that "Jesus did not become human in Bethlehem." He told his people that God had decided to "make some 'more' human beings," a "whole race of little Jesuses," so He created Adam and Eve.
According to Hyles, God made man body, soul and spirit, but when man fell, he lost his spirit and became only body and soul – on the same level as an animal. He said that when man fails he is no longer human, but becomes an animal, arguing, "Man in his unregenerate state is not human." He called to the "animals" in his congregation to illustrate his point, saying to the dogs ("Come on, puppy dog"), the cats ("Come on, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty, Come on" and the hogs ("Souee, Souee, Souee"). "It is not human to sin," he said, "it is human not to sin."
One of the most truthful thing in the sermon was when, after he said, "Man fell, and failed, and was no longer human," he declared, "You don't need the Bible to believe this." No, you don't; that is something strictly extra-biblical! In fact, it is anti-biblical since Numbers 16:22 and 27:16 clearly say that all flesh have spirits ("the spirits of all flesh." Dogs, cats and hogs may not have a spirit, but all humans do. Putting man on the animal level is what evolutionists do, not Bible-believing Fundamentalists.
"All of redemption," Hyles said, "was to make man human again." And he concluded, "You either walk in the Spirit or you are not human." It is interesting that several times he said he was not denying Jesus' deity or trying to pull Him down, but "I am trying to elevate humanity to deity." That was what Adam Eve tried to do when they listened to Satan's lie, "ye shall be as gods," and partook of the forbidden fruit.
As early as December 26, 1982 he was preaching this idea that Son of God was always human. In fact, at that time he declared, "I not preaching heresy. I am preaching the truth that Fundamentalists h believed through these years." I challenge Dr. Hyles to name one Fundamentalist who ever preached the eternal humanity of Christ!
To prove his point, he uses verses like Hebrews 13:8, John 1:2, other passages saying Jesus is the "same" – past, present and future. But these statements do not prove He was human in eternity past any more than they prove that He had a physical body of flesh and blood in eternity past.
One of the problems with saying Jesus was always human lies in clear description of Adam as the first man (I Corinthians 15:45-47) and Jesus as the second man. And it might be wise to note that the word "human" is not a KJV word; the English dictionary equates it with the word man. As a theological word, in his Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology, Millard J. Erickson notes that "human nature is made up of both material and immaterial components." Christ had no material components in eternity past, of course, so had no human nature.
9. Hyles says sin does not need to be repented, only forgotten; we don't even have a right to remember our sins. He used Hebrews 10:17 as his proof text. My concerned friend said, "I am afraid to repeat what Hyles called God in this context. 'Suffice it to say that he used the word senile'."
10. A former faculty member made a thorough study on subliminal, sexual messages in Hyles' preaching. One discovery related to the street language of prostitutes used in many of his sermons.Some of the students now make a game of trying to find these subliminal messages in his sermons. One female faculty member got up and walked out of a chapel service in disgust when Hyles was graphically going through every part of a woman's anatomy, it was so base.
11. In his sermon, "The Good Man Versus the Spiritual Man," preached on Sunday night, December 20, 1987, he said David was a spiritual man even when he committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and followed with the murder of Uriah. He went onto say that the difference between someone who has committed adultery and one who has not is that the latter has the sin of adultery "in remission."
12. Regarding the New Year's Eve Watch Night service on December n 31, 1987, Hyles told his people in it advance that the meeting would be sacrilegious, warning them not to come if they wanted a spiritual time.
13. Hyles says that adultery is not a sin, just a "mistake." One of the evangelists who counts First Baptist as his home church called me all upset following that remark, wondering if it was laying the groundwork for his son Dave to rejoin the ministry there. Whatever it was or wasn't, the idea is inane.
14. Hyles preached on Sunday night, January 17, 1988, saying no sin disqualifies a man from preaching. He said, "You are qualified to preach no matter what you did. If one confesses and forsakes his sin, he is free to preach or evangelize. He has a right to preach!" His text was Psalm 130:3, "If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquity, 0 Lord, who shall stand?" But that Scripture has to do with an individual's standing before God, not his qualifications for service.
15. In a Wednesday night sermon on the text in II Corinthians 12:13-15, Hyles made the strange statement, "All men are mental homosexuals." We do not know what he meant, but if he meant what it sounds like, he is totally mistaken. Perhaps he is a "mental homosexual," but we aren't.
16. In a sermon early in 1988, Hyles told of a teen-age girl in the church who birthed a baby out of wedlock and he expressed his hope she would one day be a Sunday school teacher there. Anticipating the objection, he said, "What, Brother Hyles, use a fallen woman to teach Sunday school?" And he responded, "Isn't that all we have here?" An evangelist in the congregation said he wanted to jump up and cry, "No, preacher, my wife is not a fallen woman. My dear wife was a virgin when she married me. In these wonderful 25 years of happy marriage, [she] has been nothing but a virtuous woman. I believe she is perfectly described in Proverbs 31. And there are hundreds and hundreds of other ladies in our church who are just as pure."
Perhaps this would be a good place to mention a deacon who left First Baptist after being active for years. When a friend of ours asked him why, his exact words were: "Hyles is against the family." Another longtime member noted that in all the years he had been an active member and worker, the pulpit had been strangely silent about marriage, the permanence of the wedding vows, the home, the family, and divorce. The only exception was once, about 1978, when he invited parents to attend a 2-hour session at the church on how to rear teen-agers. Hyles has said repeatedly that he has a list of about 20 topics he preaches about; the sanctity of the home is apparently not on the list. If the charges in this paper are true – and we wouldn't be publishing them if we were not convinced they are – we understand why his tongue is bridled in this regard. Ours would be, too!
The truth of the matter is that there are no standards in this area at First Baptist or at Hyles-Anderson. One former faculty member, who holds to biblical convictions, said there were a number of students who had divorced their wives – or had been divorced by them because of what they had done – who came to Hyles-Anderson and, after being there awhile, went to Dr. Hyles and asked if they could remarry. He always said yes. And the brother sadly noted, "Many of those who remarried have since divorced the wives they married there. "
17. Among the letters we received after our "Blight of Bigness" editorial was this one, which we will quote only in part: "After reading the October I issue, I started to write to you, but I was too upset. 'One of the blights of bigness' struck very close to home. Although you did not mention any names, I feel I know who you were talking about – Jack Hyles. My husband and I were on the staff of the college and schools for 11 years. About 4 years ago we began to suspect that error was being preached . . . . I will not go into detail, but we are extremely thankful to be out of that place . . . . There are so many problems in Hammond. We pray almost daily for the people there. Many of our 'friends' will have little to do with us since we left. We don't feel sorry for ourselves, but for them and how they have been brainwashed. My husband and I are still healing from the spiritual and emotional wounds. That is why we are so thankful for your paper. We are rethinking so much of what we were 'taught' while in Indiana . . . . Thank you for taking your stand in love.
18. On Sunday night, February 7, 1988 Hyles preached on "How to Decide What to Do?" from II Chronicles 10:1-12. He repeated the order for seeking the will of God several times: first, the Bible (he only spent a few moments on that, saying it was only one-fiftieth of his notes!); second, Jack Hyles (actually, he said older, more experienced people, but those listening got the message because of the repeated references to himself); third, the Holy Spirit. While it is incredible that he would put himself ahead of the Holy Spirit, nevertheless, only after checking the Bible and checking with the pastor could his people have "freedom of choice" and be at liberty to ask the Holy Spirit for direction. He especially emphasized that the pastor should have "veto" power and that young people should come to him for advice about marriage partners.
We hardly think telling young people the will of God in marriage is his strong suit! We know of one young man, recommended to the college by his pastor, who was advised by Hyles to marry the daughter of a very prominent family in the church. His parents opposed it (they even refused to attend the wedding), his pastor opposed it, but the young man went ahead anyway because Hyles had assured him it was the will of God. In 6 months they were divorced (she took everything he had, a real tragedy, even his car) and the young man turned his back on the things of the Lord, although, we understand, he later repented of his folly and is now in fellowship with Christ again. Incidentally, where was Hyles' consistency here? Why did he perform the ceremony for this young man when both his parents and his pastor had "vetoed" it?
Perhaps this is a good place to note the exalted opinion Hyles has of himself and of his ministry. Again and again he brags that if he fails, Fundamentalism will fail. We noted earlier how he told Vic Nischik, when he brought up Hyles' affair with his wife during a deacons' meeting, that he was trying to bring down Fundamentalism.
A typical claim about his importance can be seen in his sermon, "Led by the Holy Spirit to be Tempted of the Devil. "After telling how his military training was "hell, I mean that, all but the fire," he asked the people why God made him endure such torture. The answer: "God knew back yonder years ago that Dr. Jack Hyles was going to pastor this church and God knew that probably 10,000 preachers across this nation would call me their pastor, and God knew that somebody needed to grab the old steering wheel of Fundamentalism – at least to help to do it – to try to steer it so it won't get back in some of this little penny-ante, second-rate, new evangelicalism where the Bible is not real, and a Hell hasn't fire, and a Heaven that has no golden streets, and sin is not black. God knew that somebody in this age would have to grab the steering wheel and hold it firm while others are turning, and others are changing, and others are pussy-footing, and God said, 'I've got to make him strong enough to take care of it some day. I'll put him through the fire and make him strong,' but the victory was never in doubt." Actually, this estimate of his worth is one of his milder descriptions.
Sometimes he carries on a shouting match with his congregation, a la Jesse Jackson visiting an inner city grammar school. He shouts, "Which is the greatest soul-winning church?" and the crowd screams, "First Baptist Church." He comes back, "Who is the best-known preacher that stands for soul winning?" and a loud chorus responds, "Brother Hyles!" He questions, "What church stands for separation?" and the answer is, "First Baptist Church in Hammond." Then he shouts, "What preacher stands for standards?" and the people scream back, "Brother Hyles." He ended this particular exchange, "WE ARE THE GREATEST!"
On one occasion, early in 1988, two Sundays in succession his Sunday school lesson offered 10 things he had done to help others and, on one of the same Sundays, his morning sermon listed various ways he had lifted up the fallen (how the Lord lifts the fallen would be more appropriate, in our judgment). One deacon put it this way, "The hymn is being rewritten, 'O Mighty Hyles, How Great Thou Art'."
19. On Sunday morning March 20, 1988, the unofficial opening of Pastors' School, Hyles preached on the theme, "What to do With Your Problem," saying he had counseled with 152 people that week, even though all the arrangements for the School were going on. (At a mere 10 minutes each, which certainly wouldn't be much, that would be well over 24 hours – one of the 7 days – just for counseling!) While the message had no Scripture, it did have considerable sick humor. Discussing remedies for baldness, he told one funny story after another. One cure was dabbing vodka on his scalp, noting, when it didn't work, he "drank the vodka," which brought a good laugh. He also made one of his many, many light remarks about marriage, telling the wives never to leave their husbands in a moment of anger. He told them to wait until "he grabs you in his arms some night. And kisses you with a passionate kiss, then you look at him and say, 'I'm leaving!' That's the way you do it. (While not in this message. one of his favorite jokes is to say, when making wedding announcements, the couple will be committing marriage "suicide.")
By the way, Hyles had four points in this message about your problem: see it, study it, state it, solve it. The starting point is to admit you have a problem, he told his congregation. If what we have printed in this article is true, Dr. Hyles has a problem. Would to God he would see it, face it, state it, and solve it!
20. One former student, married with children, called me and said that when he had to drop out of Hyles-Anderson because of finances, he wanted to go to the college night school. Alas, the only courses being offered were things like wood carving, crocheting, and such; no Bible courses of any kind were being offered. There was, as I understood him, a Leadership Class on Wednesday night, but that course simply taught blind loyalty to the pastor. He and his family finally dropped out of First Baptist, disillusioned over what was going on.
Hyles does expect absolute loyalty from all who are associated with him. One former co-worker told of one of the college workers who stood in chapel and assured the president he "gave himself" to him totally, calling off point by point such features as his hands, his eyes, his feet, etc., pledging to him the kind of dedication reserved for followers of Christ in Romans 12:1,2. The man who described it to me, expressing shock, discussed it with one of the top men on the church staff at the time, who replied, "You know where he got it, don't you?" And he proceeded to relate how Hyles had said to him, "If you will give me total loyalty, I will make you another J. R. Faulkner." The price was too high and that man left Hammond.
21. In light of the previous item about blind loyalty, one man who called me said he heard one of First Baptist's ministers, Ray Young, the bus director (who was given an honorary doctorate at Hyles-Anderson last year), say that if Jack Hyles told him to burn down the First Baptist Church he would do it because he'd know it was the will of God. That is inane, of course, the kind of allegiance the followers of Jim Jones had which caused them to drink the poisonous Kool-Aid. Even more recently, a deacon's wife related how he told the church his staff was so loyal to him he believed if he told them to commit suicide, all of them would. Jim Jones had that kind of loyalty too.
As recently as Sunday night, March 5, 1989, Hyles told his congregation that if he were to call back from Michigan that week and tell each one of the men sitting on the platform to go jump off a bridge and commit suicide for him, he had no doubt but what each one would do it, they were so submitted to him. Not a word did he say to the children (or impressionable college students present who idolize him) that suicide is wrong, or that such loyalty/submission is totally unbiblical. It is never, never right to do wrong, no matter who says to do it. It would have been as logical/scriptural for him to have said, "If I call back from Michigan and tell each man to murder his wife, all would do it because they are that 'submitted' to me."
Actually, rather than "loyalty" – and this is the frightening part – it should more aptly be defined as "cultic." Such blind obedience is the kind of mind control cults have over their followers. While we do not have the space to go into it again now, we suggest interested readers obtain the book by Steven Hassan, Combating Cult Mind Control, reviewed and advertised in our February 1, 1989, issue.
One lady, long close to the Hammond situation, called Hyles' repeated claims about such loyalty "sick" and compared it to a Jim Jones movie she viewed on television – one of the scariest she ever saw in her life – adding that the similarities were incredibly frightening, even if the results are not exactly the same. Some of the things Jones said were verbatim to what she had heard Jack Hyles say. Both men control the wills of those around them. Both are "mind benders," probably the most easily recognized trait of a cult leader – they take away their followers' logical, rational thinking, causing black to become white and white black. Both claim they are accountable to no one. (Once, when a question of misappropriation of funds arose, Hyles told his people, "Even if I did, I don't have to give an account to you." That is not the talk of a biblical shepherd speaking to his sheep.) And both put others down in order to exalt themselves. Even Hyles' most ardent supporter must acknowledge that he needs a whipping boy to ridicule every time he gets in the pulpit. In his own church, it is Johnny Colsten almost every service (although the exact opposite is for Mrs. Colsten) – and folks have remarked to me that they have no idea why he has put up with it for 20 years (loyalty, obviously). In outside services, it is whoever happens to be handy. In one preachers' meeting it was my son, who had asked an honest question in an open forum, and the rest of the hour Hyles kept referring to him as "stupid" – a matter that amused my son far more than irritating him.
One former member of First Baptist sadly said to me, "If Jack Hyles, tomorrow, were put in handcuffs and hauled off to jail, charged and found guilty of the most heinous criminal act, there would be those who would show up in church on Sunday morning, hoping he'd be there, believing in him, trusting him." And that person used David Hyles as an illustration, noting that after a suitcase full of pictures was found of him with many of the women in the Garland church, there were those who wanted to forgive him and keep him as pastor.
This matter of mind control cannot be overemphasized and it is one of the most serious and dangerous things about Hyles and his ministry. Again and again in doing research on this article I have faced unreasonable fear of retaliation on the part of my contacts. Just as those entrapped in the cults – we think of those in the Moonies, Way International, Armstrongism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and all the others – have an unnatural fear of what will happen if they leave their movement, so with many now associated and formerly associated with Hyles.
Those in cults remain long after they want out because of this, and often they have nowhere else to turn. The only thing they know is their group – they have already severed all connections with family and outside friends – and the cult is "family" to them. This latter item is highlighted again and again by Hyles: his staff is "family" and loyalty to him and the church/school is greater than anything and everything else. It is amazing how many of his ex-workers/followers have said this to me.
It is interesting that a banquet speaker for workers, very prominent in evangelical circles, leaned over and asked Hyles how he obtained such loyalty. While it really didn't answer the question, he responded, "I'll show you." He called to a friend of mine, who was on the staff at the time, and said, "Stand up." He did. "Sit down." He obeyed. Hyles repeated the silly commands at least three times, merely humiliating the worker by having him pop up and down like a jack-in-the-box, then turned to the guest and said, "That's how."
22. In his sermon, "I Am Only Human," preached on Sunday morning, December 26, 1982, Hyles argued that "God can be maneuvered," saying, "The Old Testament saints knew God so well they maneuvered with God. They all started off, 'Thou, the great God of Jacob, Thou, the God of the creation, Thou, the God that made the stars,' and the Lord God in Heaven, I think He said, 'That's me. Ha, Ha, Ha! That's me!' Well, you say, 'How do you know God's that way?' Cause if I made stars, that are the way I'd be." We hardly think it wise to determine the character or nature of God on the basis of Hyles. Nor do we think flattery works with Deity, no matter how thick it is sliced! He cannot be manipulated or maneuvered. In an unsolicited letter just received, one brother told of hearing Hyles preach on the subject, "How To Make God Your Slave!" His idea of God is apparently that of a genie.
23. On May 26, 1985, he preached on "Thank you, Adam," actually thanking Adam and Eve for disobeying God and bringing sin into the world. He said such things as, "Thank God for the chains of sin," and, "If nobody ever got drunk I wouldn't enjoy preaching."
Perhaps that is one reason why sin is treated so lightly at First Baptist; no one is ever faced openly with his sin. In fact, one deacon, in his letter or resignation, pointed out that the board has no system of checks and balances in operation. Then he lamented, "For example, I know (he has confessed to me) a deacon that is involved in preached-against 'deep' sin. This has been going on for years that I know of. There is no doubt in my mind that this man will be on the board until he dies. Now, if I know of this situation, how many others exist or will exist, with no hope of correction? I propose that this one is too many. Again, we have separated ourselves from and placed ourselves above other fundamentalist churches and other organizations who have the basic common sense to have a system of checks and balances" (emphasis in original).
24. On July 19, 1987, Hyles had a message, "Backsliding, A Necessary Part to Spiritual Growth," which he called "one of the great truths of the Christian life." He mistakenly claimed God says that everyone has the same temptations (He doesn't), that backsliding is a part of spiritual growth, and that going backward is as much a part of a Christian's growth as going forward. He said someone who cursed before getting saved would never rise completely above it, and made this strange statement about spiritual condition, "If you are not as high as you used to be, jump up and down and say 'Hallelujah'!"
25. "Just what is sin anyway?" was preached on February 22, 1987, and he said each sin is as bad in the sight of God as any other. He said if you drank milk and did not do it in faith, it was sin – hence not drinking milk in faith would be as bad as committing murder or adultery! In the Old Testament, adultery was a sin deserving capital punishment. Should death be the penalty for drinking milk without faith? How absurd!
Referring to the "works of the flesh" in Galatians 5, Hyles said it wasn't "totally true" that they were sins – and that God didn't call them sin, adding that these works of the flesh were never called sin in the Bible. This is untrue, of course, and David's adultery with Bathsheba is a case in point. When Nathan faced him with what he had done, David cried, "I have sinned!" (He didn't say, "I have made a mistake!") And the Prophet Nathan agreed with him, calling what he had done "thy sin" (II Samuel 12:13). Murder is called sin in Deuteronomy 22:26. Fornication is called sin in I Corinthians 6:18. His entire argument is an inane play on words.
Perhaps this would be a good place to respond to the idea that sins of the flesh are no worse than sins of the spirit – and if one who judges his brother can remain in the ministry, so can one who has committed adultery. We like what David Neff, an associate editor of the neo-evangelical publication, Christianity Today, wrote in a 1987 article, "Are All Sins Created Equal?" Without giving all of it here, Neff pointed out that "at least three realities set sexual immorality apart from other sin and moves us to treat it far more seriously when we discover it in the life of a leader."
The three things, each of which he enlarged upon, were: "First, like no other sin, dalliance destroys trust . . . . But not only does adultery break a leader, it brands a leader . . . . Finally, sexual sin destroys a leader's image." And Neff rightly concluded, "In short, whether or not all sins are created equal, different sins have different social consequences," and he noted that Paul classed "sexual sins, apart from sundry other trespasses" in I Corinthians 6:18.
Hyles has actually preached that one who talks about a person committing adultery is worse than the one who is actually guilty of it. In another sermon he said, "You false accusers are not the ones who are Satanic inspired as much as you true accusers, folks that tell true garbage." He forgot to give Bible references for either of those gems!
We think we have made it clear that while Hyles overlooks nearly every sin known to man-including divorce, adultery, cursing, pornography, etc. – the one thing he will not tolerate is lack of loyalty in any shape, form or manner. Whatever it is in theory, in practice the final authority is not the Word of God, but what Jack Hyles or others in leadership positions say.
Let's take a case in point. One young man, a senior nearing graduation, was expelled from Hyles-Anderson right in the middle of finals week – and they were not even going to let him take the rest of his exams until he demanded a $2,000 refund for the semester; then they permitted him to take the tests at a public library – and a faculty member who knew him well, admiring his strong testimony for Christ, called the Dean of Men and asked if the report of his dismissal were true. On receiving an affirmative response, she inquired why and was told, "He was preaching heresy!" What heresy? The dean replied, "Women ought to be keepers at home!" When she asked if the Bible didn't have more to say about that than anything else for women, he said he didn't have time to discuss it and hung up.
In fairness, we should say that the young man had experienced at least one previous run-in with the dean. Being in the latter's pastoral counseling class, he objected to nearly everything the man taught – for example, once he recommended a long list of authors, mostly New Evangelical, saying they were some of the best books he had ever read and they should read them, too – and he especially objected to his hammering home repeatedly "the key to success is attitude." While that is undeniably the world's standard and fits beautifully with Hyles-ology philosophy, it is a far cry from the biblical pattern of meditating on the Word of God, prayer, and obedience to Christ as outlined in such passages as Psalm 1, Joshua 1, and Psalm 119. The teacher and pupil had a "strong" discussion about it one day and the youth was warned at that time he'd better change his attitude or he would be dismissed. So the "heresy" charge was merely the straw that broke the camel's back. The homosexual mentioned earlier was permitted to stay and graduate with an earned Hyles-Anderson degree. The man who stood up for what Paul said about women was booted.
The biblical issue of "keepers at home " is a very sensitive one in Hammond since so many women are in places of leadership. One former deacon, now a pastor, said that when he attended staff meetings approximately two-thirds were women and the women were making major decisions.
26. In another sermon minimizing sin, "No One Practices What He Preaches," delivered on April 22, 1984, Hyles emphasized a favorite theme: no one has a right to judge another about anything! As always, he referred to the statement that all judgment has been given by the Father to the Son – ignoring the many other statements demanding that Christians "judge righteous judgment," judge sin in a believer's life, etc., etc. – such as the man committing fornication with his father's wife (I Corinthians 5). If Hyles had been the pastor at Corinth when the Apostle Paul wrote that epistle, he would have fired a letter back and rebuked Paul, telling him all judgment belonged to the Son and that his sin of criticizing the dear brother who had his father's wife was every bit as bad as the man's fornication – especially since Paul was writing on hearsay ("commonly reported") without first going to the man involved!
Hyles, attempting to show how God will use someone after terrible sin, said David wrote the "Hallelujah" psalms (Psalm 146,147) after his sin with Bathsheba. However, we know of no one else who thinks these are Davidic psalms. In fact, the Septuagint, which goes back 2,200 years or so closer to the time they were written than does Hyles, credits them (along with Psalms 148 and 149) to Haggai and Zechariah; obviously, they are much nearer the time of Christ than was David. Incidentally, in this sermon Hyles offered his hearers this gem: "The way to success is to keep on failing!"
Hyles, if we may be permitted a note of humor in this sad story, is an excellent illustration of someone not practicing what he preaches. Again and again he has decried preachers being called "Reverend" or having "Reverend" before their names. Yet in his court deposition, when the attorney asked him to state his name, he responded, "Jack Hyles." When the lawyer persisted, asking which he preferred, "Reverend Hyles" or "Mr. Hyles," the reply was: "I have no preference at all."
Another illustration relates to his oft-repeated pulpit declaration that he is not putting anything away for a rainy day ("Nope! It's raining on people now. I must help them. God will take care of me.") Yet he admitted to an attorney under oath that he had put thousands of dollars in an IRA and thousands more in a Keough program. As one of his former assistants said, "He preaches the hardest against the things he is doing himself."
27. In his sermon, "I Am Human," Hyles came close to a teaching akin to the Roman Catholic mass. He said, "The vicarious death of Christ is still reality. Jesus didn't die just at one [time] – though He did die at Calvary – that was only a picture of the giving of His life.... Somebody said, 'Brother Hyles, don't you think it was awfully hard for God the Father to see His Son on the cross, bearing our sins?' Yes, it was, but not any harder than it is today because the great heart of God the Father still possesses the God the Son and the Triune God, and that God the Son is still the God that gives Himself."
28. In the same sermon, speaking of forgiveness, he said, "The Man Christ Jesus forgave. It wasn't God the Father that forgave; the Man, the human Christ Jesus, forgave." Such a distinction between the roles of the Godhead in redemptive forgiveness is totally unwarranted, of course.
29. Hyles preached a sermon he called "To Be Known of Him," based on the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25:1-12. Saying preachers all across the country misunderstand it by thinking the virgins represent both saved and lost, he assured his hearers that all the virgins were saved ("wise" and "foolish" in another parable in the same Gospel – Matthew 7:24-27 – are unquestionably saved and lost, as our Lord clearly said), but these saved virgins couldn't go into the wedding because they "didn't do what they were supposed to do" (a partial rapture?). He applied the parable to Christians having "extra oil" of the Holy Spirit for meeting emergencies. But the parable is not talking about oil for "an emergency," but not having oil for the very thing they were there to do: Meet the bridegroom! To Hyles the "shut door" is merely a missed opportunity in life, having nothing to do with salvation – even though the bridegroom told them, "I know you not," and the Lord Jesus Himself made the application relate to not being ready for His second coming.
30. In a sermon, "You Believe Because You Love," preached on the Sunday night three weeks before the church's centennial, he boasted that Hyles-Anderson College did not have courses on hermeneutics or apologetics for its preacher boys. He said, "The reason we don't is this: those courses have to do with the proving of the Bible." He is 50% right (or 50 % wrong, depending on your viewpoint), since apologetics is defined as "the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity," while hermeneutics is "the branch of theology which treats of the principles of biblical exegesis." Although the former has to do with proving the Bible, the latter is simply teaching men how to preach.
But is apologetics wrong or even unnecessary? Of course not! Paul was giving the Thessalonian Jews a lesson in apologetics in Acts 17:1-4, and enough of them "believed" as a direct result that he was able to establish a church in Thessalonica and our Bibles now contain I & II Thessalonians. We are frank to say that young men not trained in apologetics and hermeneutics are not adequately prepared for the ministry. To illustrate, one of the ministers I talked to was instructing some of the college young men, all juniors and seniors, regarding a phase of the work. He asked them to turn to the pastoral epistles – and they didn't know where or what they were!
Hyles also stated in that message, about Christ, "No one said His life corresponds with verses in the prophets. No one said, 'I believe He's the Messiah because I've studied the Old Testament prophets and His life coincides with that'." If Hyles had been around in the days of the early church, he could have saved Matthew a lot of trouble. That is what his Gospel is all about: proving from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus is s the Messiah, the King of the Jews!
31. On Sunday morning, February 5 1989, Hyles preached on, "How About Those Who Never Saw the Promised Land?" He quoted I Corinthians 10:4, "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." According to him, from the time Moses smote the rock in Horeb, that rock followed the Israelites in the wilderness everywhere they went. "Every time that God would lead them," Hyles said, "He would lead them with a pillar of cloud in the front and a piece of rock behind."
While there is a rabbinical legend that a 15-foot fragment of that rock spewing out water, followed the Israelites for 40 years – although the older, more complete legends called it a "well," not a rock – we do no think that is what Paul was saying, We understand his reference as simply saying that the True Rock, Christ Jesus, was with them all the way.
In this message, too, he seemed to minimize sin. Talking about using men and women with an unsavory past, he said, "Who better can tell boys and girls not to drink than those who've drunk? Who better can warn boys and girls to be pure and clean than those who've not been pure and clean? Who better?" It is the old argument that one must go into sin in order to effectively reach those who have fallen. Such a philosophy is absurd, of course.
Sometimes, as in this message, he says dumb things – we trust, on the spur of the moment, not really meaning them. Reminding his people of when he lost his memory for three hours the previous July, he observed, "I was more like God then that I ever was in my life, 'cause God has no memory at all. 'Their sins will I remember no more'." While it is true that God doesn't remember sins under the blood, it doesn't mean He "has no memory at all," of course.
The worst thing about this message was the light way he referred to the "spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ," saying that for 40 years there was "a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night and behind you comes a little rock saying, 'Wait for me! Wait for me!' And take that rod out and smite it again and the rock says, 'Don't hit me! That hurts! Just ask me; speak to me.' And you look at the rock and say, 'Rocky, want some water.' Whooosh." We have no objection to humor in the pulpit: blasphemy offends us deeply, however.
One brother took notes on Hyles sermons for some time. At the bottom of the page, after the sermons, this item appeared repeatedly: "Observation: After the initial Scripture reading by Johnny Colsten, the Bible was not referenced at all." In on sermon, preached on Sunday night February 14, 1988, Hyles started by saying, "This is not going to be a sermon, it will be a Bible study." The note taker wrote, "The only problem: not one Scripture verse referenced after opening Scripture read by John Colsten." Some Bible study!
Another member of First Baptist, who with her husband has serve as leaders in the church for about 20 years, told me Hyles very frequently says, "Close your Bibles; just listen to me." A former deacon, now a preacher, explained that this was because of Hyles' habit of taking verses out of context – if people read on, they'd see it is teaching something beside what he is saying. Perhaps so, but for some reason the Bible is not a very popular book in Hammond. The same man said he showed up at a deacon's meeting with his Bible and the others laughed at him, one of them saying, "What are you going to do, preach to us?" And he went on to relate at least one instance where they were ready to pass a motion and another deacon objected, "This is contrary to Scripture," but they passed it anyway with an "end justifies the means" attitude.
Other illustrations could be given, but suffice it to say that the matter of Hyles' sermons is getting worse, not better. One prominent pastor in the Hammond area, who has been monitoring his messages for some time, wrote me, ". . . we noticed that these 'unbiblical' type sermons have become much more frequent of late. Where they seemed to be one in fifty a while back, they are now about one in four." And a deacon who felt compelled, because of convictions, to resign from the board, said, "Our condition here is a state of apostasy." While not all will agree it has gone quite that far, there certainly are major problems.
Pray for Jack Hyles. We certainly have not enjoyed exposing him as we have in this article, and it is only because of our love for the cause of Christ that we have done so. Pray for his restoration to the Body of Christ. Pray for his home. Pray for the First Baptist Church of Hammond. Pray for Hyles-Anderson College. We hold no personal animosity toward him or anyone involved with him in any way. Our concern is strictly for Christ and His Word.
Do you ask which is worse, Hyles' moral problems or his theological problems? Either group, in our judgment, forfeits respect for him from the ranks of Fundamentalism. If we were in his shoes, as we noted at the start of this article, the moral problem alone would force us out of the ministry forever. We do not think that his "merits," whatever they may be, outweigh his "demerits." He has not been "running fast enough" to continue. Our conclusion, sadly, is: Jack Hyles does not meet the "blameless " requirement for the gospel ministry! Do you protest that this is judging? Perhaps so, but it is in an area where the Word of God itself tells us to judge. If any doubt remains in your mind, go back to the beginning and reread Judy Nischik Johnson's letter, especially her charge, "You exemplify everything in this life that I do not want for myself, my marriage or my children . . . . You have failed with the most precious gifts God could have ever given you – your wife, your children and now, your ministry."
One brother, whose ministry Hyles virtually destroyed over a quarter of a century ago, at that time wrote us lines that now seem prophetic: "All personalities and personal involvement set aside, I have a growing concern that a man who can convince himself that black is white and white is black should have the position of leadership and esteem that he has, in the country." To our shame, we filed the letter and forgot all about until it resurfaced while doing search on this article.
What can Fundamentalism and Fundamentalists do? For one thing, we can start standing up for what right and opposing what is wrong, even – or especially – in our own movement. Perhaps we should forget the liberal Presbyterians and the compromising Convention Baptists for a season and concentrate on setting our own house in order.
We desperately need men of God who are willing to take a stand, no matter what it costs. Beloved brethren, we do not have one man in our midst – Jack Hyles, or anyone else – so valuable to our Fundamentalist movement that his sin should be covered. As one of the preachers I interviewed said to me, "This is directly the problem. We have not had men who have been willing to stand on an issue." Sadly, he spoke the truth. Myriad are the men who face every issue on the basis, "How will it affect me?" rather than, "What is right?"
Dear friend, will you stand? (Ephesians 6:10-18).
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