Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rampant Ideological Hylesism, pt. 2

Part One

As God looks at what churches and their leaders are doing on earth, He doesn't have some special antagonism against the name Hyles, because the name Hyles somehow means something nasty.  No. It is Hylesism, and unbiblical philosophy and practice and methods that also must proceed from a bad theology.  All the former must come from the latter.  You can't disconnect philosophy, practice, and methodology from a belief system.

For instance, someone may say that he believes man is a sinner, but if he approaches men with naturalistic means, as if the carnal methods will bring the solution, he is still falling short of a sufficient belief in man's sinfulness.  A method that strays from the Bible, emerging from human intellect, robs God of the glory.  If God's glory does not abide in the groundwork of one's theology, wrong philosophy, methods, and practices will surface all over the place.  The first relates to pride with its elevation of self and the latter brings self glory.

Like Charismatics covet showy spiritual  manifestations, which are actually fleshly ones, Hylesism covets its own showy spiritual manifestations in church size or numbers of salvation decisions. Covetousness and self-glory are idolatry -- man worship.  God isn't being worshiped, which is why often we see celebrities spring out of this mammoth system.

One big name arises one generation after the next with the next iteration of church growth fads -- the bus, the big day, the band, the big screen, the flamboyant website, the worldly music, entertaining speaking, the building design, the comedy or drama, buffet of activities and groups, giveaways, greeters, refreshment, fun, casual atmosphere, folksiness, programs, and brochure layout.  It might be the relevant facial hair or brick stage facade or seating arrangement or architecture or campus development.  It is one thing after another.  God just isn't good enough.  The amazing message of scripture isn't sufficiently attractive.  There is some strategy not found therein, that you need, that you can use, that will work -- you should try it, because someone did it and it succeeded.

Those who would surely hate Hyles still embrace Hylesism, the ideology.  They wouldn't ever want it to be thought to be that, even if that is what it is.  They might not say it was that, but it is at least the same primordial ooze from which Hyles emerged.  Evangelicals trace their way back to the identical abyss.  The trajectories of Billy Graham and Hybels and Warren terminate at the roots of the same family tree.

Advocating Hylesism doesn't mean supporting every aspect.  Anyone who uses it is tolerating it. Those who tolerate also endorse.  You can say that you don't endorse all of it, but where do you draw the line once you've acquiesced on any of it?  You're not trusting God any more at a point that you think is necessary for your success.  Maybe you've sold out.  Think about it.

Who are Hylesists, who at least permit or allow or consent to Hylesism?  I know very few churches and leaders who are not.  Almost everyone capitulates somewhere and it makes a difference.  They've got to do things.  They're required now.  They've got to use a rock band, yes, even if it is "soft rock," the type of music the beatles played.  Someone stands and performs like a pop singer and they are calling this worship.  The people on their own take it even further.  That's some of the most conservative of it.

The Hylesism that is almost identical to Hyles still occurs.  Men still follow Hylesism, but they don't have the same stigma since Hyles died and Jack Schaap went to prison.  There is still a huge Hyles network that hasn't repudiated what Hyles was about.  Some of them have morphed, added characteristics of worldly evangelicalism and Charismaticism into their arrangement, but it's still Hyleism.

Those called conservative evangelicals adopt Hylesism to varying degrees.  It's important to them.  Hyles himself would never have allowed some of what they do, but the strategy is the same.  They've done it so long, they don't even recognize it any more in many cases.  Some in their midst do, but they tolerate it to get along, adapt, or comply.

I follow the twitter feed of conservative evangelicals.  Many are fully engaged in pop culture and it doesn't matter.  Their churches use it and accommodate it.  They don't give it up.  They are tuned in and plugged in.  They hardly miss a thing.  Everyone knows in their churches that it's approved.  Even if the churches are complementarian, egalitarianism thrives.  The manifestations of lust are everywhere -- the way unmarried couples interact, entertainment choices, and immodesty.  The intellectualism of the church is one of the traps.  Their church is scholarly too, as smart as anyone else around, something to be proud of.  All of this lends itself to attracting and keeping a bigger crowd.

In the first post, I defined Hylesism as "using human means to attract a crowd for evangelism."  What is called evangelism isn't always evangelism.  The gospel itself was abandoned in many of these churches long ago.   However, in others, many, the methods dilute and convolute the gospel.  In the evangelical churches, their affections are so distorted, that the Jesus of their imaginations is someone different than the Bible Jesus.  They can't access Him through their polluted imaginations or affections.  Everything they hear funnels into their understanding through that grid.

Churches and leaders are very sensitive to the accusation of Hylesism.  It's got to be admitted if it's going to change.   Typically they argue that silence equals permission.  If you accuse them, they say that you are adding to the Bible.  You can't say that they can't do what they do.  They've got permission because the Bible is silent.  The most preferred argument is marginalization.  They've been more blessed, they've got more connections, they've got more access, they've been more published, and they've seen more success, so they're right.  I think quite a few know that God's Word is the basis of judgment and that argument is wrong.  It won't stand up to God's inspection in the end.

There are so many fruits of Hylesism that a whole post would be required to list them all, and that without explanation -- just listing them.  Not all the churches have preaching like Hyles.  The preaching is better in some.  The churches that might repudiate Hyles put up with Hyles-like preaching, preaching that takes on the primary characteristics of Hyles preaching without Hyles entertainment ability.  I hate it.  If you say the preaching is like Hyles, they'd be more upset that you said it was like Hyles than they'd be angered by the bad preaching.

What I'm describing with reference to Hylesism is where we're at as a country.  It's where the church is at as the church.  Church, what church really is, isn't good enough any more.


Ryan Hayden said...

First, I totally agree with what you are saying. The vast majority of churches long ago abandoned the sufficiency of scripture. I found the sentence at the beginning to be particularly poignant: "There is some strategy not found therein, that you need, that you can use, that will work -- you should try it, because someone did it and it succeeded." That about sums it up.
But I wish you would call it something other than Hylesism. I think I know what you are trying to do by calling it that. But what you are talking about seems to be a lot broader than Hylesism, and what I'm thinking of as a narrower Hylesism (watered down gospel presentation, emphasis on numbers, preaching your philosophy and twisting scripture, man worship, emotional manipulation masquerading as a work of God, canonization of "old paths" that aren't old at all...) is still very much a problem within the independent Baptist world that I live in. I think the broader definition of Hylesism sort of obfuscates everything.
Anyways - that's my take.

d4v34x said...

Word, Ordinance, Discipline, Period.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm open to a better name. The people who would say they eschew Hyles don't really. But you know what I'm doing.

Kent Brandenburg said...


People aren't impressed with God, but they're Christians.

d4v34x said...

Yeah. It's seriously scary.

Terry Basham, II said...

I listened to Paige Patterson at Midwestern in Kansas City this week - he's totally into Hyles. He basically said what Hyles always said "Soulwinning Covers a Multitude of sins."

Kent Brandenburg said...


Did he mention Hyles? Just curious, or just sound like Hyles?

Terry Basham, II said...


No he didn't mention Hyles - he just said what Hyles said.

Paige is like most IFB guys on paper pretty sound, in practice pretty sad.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks. It doesn't surprise me, but Hyles ideology, if it doesn't come right from Hyles gets missed. People don't associate the two. Obviously, Hyles didn't come up with the philosophy, but I'm calling it that to give it a name. Like Pelagianism has a name after Pelagius. It's got to be named something. I like Hylesism, although many won't know what it means. Many independent Baptist just Hylesism, unaffiliateds even partake, some (although less), and almost all evangelicals. At the same time, the evangelicals would say they aren't like Hyles. Even the Calvinists behave like Hyles, which might be what you're talking about too with Paige.

Terry Basham, II said...

What I mean about Paige is that he subscribes to a certain confession of faith and holds the right official positions but that in practice he is something different.

Like the BBFI types and the GIBF (Heartland/BBC WEST) they hold a confession of faith they do not understand nor live by. Confessions are not the final word but they do show us where the lines are.

Paige is agin Calvinism.

Hylesism is a good name because he had the longevity and the reach via the School and the Pastor's School.

His protege's are still at it and still preach the same stuff and practice his methodology.

KJB1611 said...

Thanks for the article. The marketing methods of Hyles live--and grow--on.