Because of the size, scope of influence, and history of First Baptist Church in Hammond, IN (FBC), the recent sinful acts by Jack Schaap generated a lot of reaction. The responses are an interesting window into people's understanding of the Bible and God's work. Several tried to make a tie between Hyles-Schaap and all independent, fundamental Baptist churches, broadbrushing all of these churches in the image of FBC. The evaluations have been varied, that among them I have read: a result of congregationalism versus presbyterianism, caused by legalism, a product of too many rules, typical of a KJV-only church (as if a particular Bible version condones his behavior), and others. A few people make some tenuous connections between one pet issue or another at Hyles and what it produced in the public humiliation of Schaap. Some of their points are fantasy and others are possible but a big stretch. Like I've heard and said, when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.
Let's start with the fact that Hyles and Schaap and that whole branch of so-called "fundamental Baptists" are absolute crazy kooks, disconnected from scriptural reality, and that their myriad of problems have mainly to do with their made-up positions. You can trace their lineage far, far back to something legitimate, but they went off the tracks long ago. I know that because of their numeric success and the whole network that was built over several decades that it gives it the appearance of something substantive. As well, there are all those who wouldn't break from them for whatever political or pragmatic reasons. That's all a shame that they were being propped up by this gigantic religious infrastructure, giving them credibility. However, the problem of Schaap, as I wrote in my Deconstructing Jack Schaap, was entirely proceeding from horribly bad doctrine, a terrible skewing of Scripture over a prolonged period.
Schaap and Hyles are both google gold. If you have one of their names in your essay, your traffic rises double or triple. Others know this. In addition, it can provide either some real, or perhaps more so an artificial, gravitas to come in with analysis. I want to spend a little time here, before I move on, debunking some of what I'm reading about the cause of the Schaap incident.
I concur with Bobby Mitchell and his comment (also an email he sent to a number of people) that this wasn't the fall of Schaap. If you considered this his fall, then you also thought that he had somewhere to fall from. He already long left whatever pedestal there was, either doctrinally, practically, or spiritually. A proper consequence of this, like Bobby wrote, should be to get ourselves way, way away from anything like FBC and its operation. We shouldn't be close to it. Nothing we're close to should be close to it. We shouldn't be in the same solar system, let alone the same orbit.
The Strictness Fallacy
After I wrote part one, someone anonymous commented something he said I didn't need to publish. I don't still have the comment, because I deleted it, but he started it with something like, "Hyles is Amish and you are Mennonite." His opinion was that I (our church) is just a lighter version of Hyles, except more clear thinking (his words). He instructed me to let myself go, relax, and look more outside the box. I laughed when I read that.
There is more than one fallacy here, including that we are some kind of Hyles light. Whoever anonymous was, I would guess that he and his church had more common with Hyles and its problems than we do. However, the major fallacy, and it is a common one today in evangelicalism and fundamentalism, is that God's grace manifests itself mostly in our doing more of what we feel or want. It is a akin to the position that Paul argues against this in Romans 6:1 and then Jude mentions "turning the grace of God into lasciviousness." God's grace doesn't turn into an occasion for the flesh or one of flaunting liberties. Paul writes to Titus that it teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust.
God is holy, so His grace will tend toward separation and purity, not fleshliness and worldlinesss. The freedom is freedom from sin and the dependence on and ties to this world.
It is possible to have lots of rules and standards and have it be flesh and Pharisaical. However, some see their lack of rules and standards as some kind of badge of grace, but it is an addiction to fleshly and worldly things. They aren't free. In other words, there is left-wing flesh and right-wing flesh. The problem is the flesh. There is a problem with adding to Scripture and taking away from the Bible. At our church, we don't require anything of anybody that isn't taught in the Bible. The grace of God works toward obeying Scripture.
It's a fallacy that rules cause the Schaap sinning. If you see a Hyles-Anderson girl, she looks nothing like an Amish girl. Grace doesn't move from helpful rules. Grace works toward staying pure. For instance, you've got to apply "flee fornication." Job made a way to stay pure with women, he made a covenant with his eyes not to look. He made a rule not to look. We've got a lot of lascivousness and licentiousness in this world, and this indicates a lack of the grace of God, not more of it.
There are other fallacies, several of them, but I think I'm through on this topic. Don't be taken by everything that everybody is saying about Schaap. Be discerning.