Earlier this year I published The Two Jacks, documenting the life and ministry of Jack Hyles, who pastored First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, for 42 years, and Jack Schaap, who took over the pastorate of the church when his father-in-law died in 2001. But the book is not merely about two men. It is a warning about a cultic model of ministry that has spread very far. Hyles set the pattern for errors that are still rampant. Most importantly, the book is a positive call to build biblical churches. A major motivation in writing the book was to challenge young preachers not to be man followers and man pleasers, to walk in the fear of God rather than the fear of man, to be serious Bible students and Bereans, to be passionate for Christ and Truth, and to reject pragmatism: whether it be contemporary church growth pragmatism or emerging pragmatism or Independent Fundamental Baptist pragmatism.
The book is a warning about Quick Prayerism, promotionalism, numbers-ism, the abuse of pastoral authority, blind loyalty to man, cover-up and deception and rampant immorality, the neglect of church discipline, and unrepentant heresy. Now we can add to the section on “rampant immorality” the fact that Jack Schaap has been dismissed from the pastorate because of his “physically improper” relationship with a 16-year-old girl. The Hammond Community Net reports that “the First Baptist Church of Hammond has dismissed Jack Schaap as its pastor in the wake of a Lake County police investigation.” That occurred on Tuesday, July 31. In light of the history that we have documented in The Two Jacks, the only thing that is surprising about this sad account is that the church has taken action against the man.
Many teenage girls and even some children have been the target of sexual abuse at First Baptist, including those polluted by Jack Hyles’ son, Dave. We don’t know how long this type of thing has gone on even in Schaap’s life. It’s doubtful that a 54-year-old man would start messing with girls just out of the blue. This is the same church that covered over and justified Jack Hyles’ sins and the ministry-disqualifying sins of other pastors associated with the church and school for decades, a church that was willing to stand by and watch the character assassination of anyone who dared to bring an accusation against the “man of God.”
This is the church that accepted the lie that to reprove and discipline a preacher is to “touch the Lord’s anointed.” It appears that Schaap thought he could walk in Hyles’ footsteps and do as he pleased, and he succeeded for over a decade and probably could have continued to do so except that the sheriff’s department and the FBI got involved this time. (It is reported that “the girl was taken to Illinois and Michigan for Schaap’s interludes,” Mark Kiesling, “50 Shades of Jack Schaap,” nwi.com.)
There is no reason to believe that anything of real substance will change. Another man--doubtless another Hyles worshipper--will step behind that polluted pulpit and the cult will go on. Every warning that we gave in The Two Jacks is as relevant today as ever, and it’s not just about First Baptist of Hammond. It’s about a large number of IFB churches that have followed this cultic pattern and it’s about large numbers of IFB preachers who have not spoken out against it but rather have chosen to bask in the glory of “bigness” rather than take a stand for truth. (The Two Jacks is available from the free eBook section of the Way of Life web site -- www.wayoflife.org.)
(Friday Church News Notes, Aug 3, 2012, www.wayoflife.org, email@example.com, 866-295-4143)