My friend Jim has a post about a scandal at First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. Evidently, the head pastor has been found to have bedded a then 16-year-old female member.
Now, despite growing up 25 miles from Hammond (exit 26 on I-94 in Indiana, you can figure it out), I never have entered their building, nor did I have a desire to do so. However, there are a number of things from which we can learn in this sad case if we're willing.
First of all, as Jim points out, it can be very dangerous to have a father and son ministering together--a father will tend to overlook the moral faults of his son, as Jack Hyles is said to have done for both his son and son-in-law. A commenter of Jim's and mine also notes that a similar thing happened at Jim's current church.
On a different level, though, churches that avoid nepotism can fall into the same trap by falling into a cult of personality. Let's take a look at First Baptist since Hyles arrived in 1959.
1. You have a church filled with images of their most famous pastor, including a gaudy bronze of him and his wife.
2. You have a Bible college named after him, also filled with images of Hyles.
3. Hyles persuaded his congregation, with no Biblical or secular evidence, that not only was the King James the "only" Bible, but also that no one could be saved unless the KJV was somehow involved.
4. He kept his Bible college and pastorate despite a string of sexual scandals, many involving his own family.
5. When his son in law took the pastorate, he changed the church away from KJV-only theology simply by announcing that the KJV was not the only Bible out there--nobody apparently challenging him.
6. His son also came up with a theology that argued that when someone comes to Christ, it is a spiritual version of intercourse with Christ.
Now look at #6 carefully; it's very close to, but not, good theology. As Ephesians 5 notes, the Bride is being prepared for wedding to her Lord--not yet wed. She is betrothed, not married. So we have first of all the problem that people stayed despite Schaak's argument--not too many saw through it. And it gives the obvious question; did the young lady come for counseling because of doubt of her salvation, and the pastor volunteered to give her "a little bit of Christ" for her faith's sake? And to how many did he do it? The statistics I've seen indicate that molesters of girls average about eight to ten victims.
No matter what happens with this sordid case, I think we call can agree that if the doctrine of a church--or the positions of any other organization--are grounded in no authority higher than the head of the organization, that organization (church, company, etc..) is in trouble. Pray for the leadership of 1st Baptist, that they will see their need to build their church on the teachings of the Bible, and not simply upon the authority and personality of their leaders. They will then face the daunting task of teaching their members--if they indeed stay--to be good Bereans who will keep their pastors honest.
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