Linda (Hyles) Murphrey has begun a journey that will be exhausting and very hard in many ways, but enormously fulfilling in other ways. She’s writing a book. Recently, she issued Chapter One and Two of Healing from a God Who Wasn’t.
I read the chapters, unsure of what to expect. The first thing that struck me was the simple prose and the down-to-earth, almost conversational tone of the book. It was as if she were sitting on the couch in her living room, telling her story.
It was an impossible quandry. I realized then, the incredible conflict that was there. She wanted very much to speak out against her dad, to tell the world about the terrible lie she and her family lived, but doing so would mean certain death to her relationship with her mother, and probably her sisters. Added to that, she was very fragile, emotionally. Telling her story back then was something beyond her capability. She tells of that fragility right from the get-go in this book.
While I was disappointed that she decided not to speak out at that time, I also understood that it would come in God’s timing and not mine, nor hers. There would come a time when she’d speak up and show Fundamentalism the reality of the man at whose feet they’d all fallen. Oh, I know he had feet of clay. So do most of you. But, the truth is, back then most of us who followed Hyles believed those feet could walk on water, if he really wanted to; and, those feet had stood in the presence of God so often that they were “holy” feet. Some of you would have taken a discarded pair of Hyles’ shoes and made them into a shrine, if you could have gotten hold of a pair.
You know I’m right, if you’re honest.
But, Linda knew the truth. She knew her Dad in a way none of us knew him. She knew he not only had feet of clay, he had a heart that was far from God. She knew he was not what he pretended to be. Linda knew Jack Hyles, her father, was not the “real deal.” She came to know that he cared most about his image, not his family. She came to understand that his love for God came way down the list, beneath his love for his son, beneath his love for fame, and beneath his love to be loved and admired (which I personally think was at the very top, even above his love for his son). The adulation he received was, in many respects, his undoing, because it caused his heart to be lifted up and, like many before him, pride took over one day and changed him, just as it did his son-in-law, Jack Schaap.
Linda had a front row seat. She saw it all in real time.
God did that. He used Linda to help that broken-hearted daughter who’d lost her parents for so many years–lost them to an image of a man who did not exist. For others such as myself, Bob Sumner, and Victor Nischik, it will be vindication of sorts. She’s already validated what was said. This book will encapsulate that validation and make a record that will stand with man and God. But, far more important than that, I truly believe that her book will be of enormous benefit to those who have a need for healing in their lives.
For some, it will be an “eye-opener.” You’ll come to see Jack Hyles in a much different way and perhaps will even move away from the adoration to a much more practical, realistic view of the man. You will see him as many of us do. You’ll see Jack Hyles as a man driven by his passions, as all of us are, excelling beyond many of his peers, often failing in private, seeming at times to succeed, but at all times, just a man; and sometimes, a pretty sorry excuse for a man…just as some of us have been in our day, if we’re really honest about it. Chapter Two, The Peril of Pretending, is a vivid, black and white picture of the inside of the Hyles household that stands in stark contrast to the image that those of us who sat under Jack Hyles’ ministry had in our minds. It is, to say the least, stunning. Linda tells, in one part of that chapter, of the morning when her dad, at the breakfast table, informed the family of his decision to open a school. Hyles tells them how Beverly wants a divorce “even though she knows that a divorce would destroy my ministry, which is certainly not God’s will.” Hyles addresses his children, speaking “as if she were not in the room,” that the “only way for me to appease your mother and ensure that my ministry continues to thrive is for me to stay away from home.”
This chapter is very revealing in many ways. For one thing, it shows that the accusations of an affair had been made by someone other than Victor Nischik. Jack Hyles’ own wife had raised them. Even more disturbing, it shows a man whose “ministry” was more important than anything in life. It revealed that Jack Hyles was willing to sacrifice his entire family for his “ministry.”
The impact of Linda’s book is yet to be measured. There will be critics. Already, they’re judging her, angered that she’d “betray” her father and Fundamentalism, unable to accept the fact that she just might be telling the truth. Some of them have rejected her because she’s not a “Fundamentalist,” and “golly-gee-whiz, you know we cain’t take no fool girl’s word who ain’t one of us but is nuthin’ but a heathen in disquise.” (You think I don’t know the little minds of some of you out there? You forget, I got your hair-brained, godless, unbiblical hate-filled letters after Fundamental Seduction came out…and you hadn’t even read it.) Others have heard the myriad of lies and untrue stories about Linda not being a Christian, not believing in God, and have accepted them as true.
Some of Linda’s critics have what I call “convenient” memories. In condemning Linda, you’ve chosen to forget the fact that Hyles not only ignored the immoral behavior of his son, in spite of dozens of people coming to him and complaining, but he turned him loose on a church in Texas where he proceeded to nearly destroy that church, in spite of Hyles’ knowledge of David’s evil. (Oops, I’m sorry. You’d prefer I say “mistakes,” wouldn’t you?) Jack Hyles destroyed lives and he allowed his son to destroy lives. But, you’re willing to forget that, to ignore that, and instead, hurl invective you never hurled at him, at his daughter. You’ll speak up about her when you were silent during his reign. You’re brave and bold against his daughter, but were too cowardly to stand and oppose his evil.
Conveniently, you forget how he praised the deacon who was caught molesting a 7 year old child in her Sunday School class; and, you’re willing to ignore the fact that even after being convicted, Hyles and the entire church gave him a standing ovation upon his release from prison. It didn’t matter to you that Ballenger’s own niece was one of those who testified that he’d molested her. And, you conveniently ignore the fact that Hyles, from the pulpit, shredded the witness to the molestation, in spite of the fact that she was an eye-witness and a Sunday School teacher herself.
Linda (Hyles) Murphrey is an eye-witness here. You who still adore Jack Hyles, or who are still willing to overlook the evil he was willing to overlook and tolerate, can choose to ignore Linda’s evidence. God gives us all light. He gives us all opportunity to stand in the light of truth. He gives us enough light, sometimes, to stand alongside of truth.
So, for the critics of Linda (Hyles) Murphrey, here’s some truth for you. Linda Murphrey loves God–the Christian One, the Jesus God. Yeah, the same God you who purport to be Christians, claim to love. (Uh, the One that said “love your enemies.”) Does she have all the same beliefs about God you do? Probably not. But then, you don’t have all the same beliefs I do, either. In fact, if your own pastor were totally honest and transparent, I suspect many of you’d be shocked to know that you and your own pastor don’t share all the same beliefs about God.
I’ve learned, as I’ve aged, that I’ll never truly mirror someone else’s beliefs, convictions and standards, to the letter. My wife and I are pretty “simpatico,” that is, we are pretty much of the same mind about most things about God. But, there are areas where we differ about our views of God. I differ with my own pastor (who is also my son-in-law) about some things. I do not know what the rest of the book will say. I do not know whether or not I’ll agree with any particular doctrinal position she might take (if any). For me, what is relevant is that she is stepping forward and telling about her life as she saw it from inside the Hyles household, and the effects that her dad’s brand of Christianity had on her. She’s also telling of what she’s had to do in order to heal from that experience.
So, Linda isn’t going to mirror your Fundamentalist beliefs. Not ever. So, get over it. That does not make her a liar. That has absolutely no relevance as to the truth of her story. She is the one who lived her life: not you. She lived in the Hyles household, not you. She is the one who comes bearing a message. You can hear it and believe it, or reject it. That is your choice. Just realize this: We all will answer to God one day for the truth that He delivered to us, whether it was delivered from a pulpit, a book, a small child, or a Linda Murphrey. We will have to give account for every idle word we speak, and thus, how much more, the ones that are not so “idle?” (Matt. 12:36) And, you and I will have to give account to God for the facts He gave us and which we ignored, either deliberately, or ignorantly. We will render an accounting for that and so much more (1 Peter 4:17; Rom. 14:12).
Some of you will not accept Linda’s truths because you suffer from the same “disease” that Jack Schaap had and which is far too often displayed within the ranks of Fundamentalism. Schaap was asked by the federal judge if he knew he was breaking the law when he had sex with a minor. His reply revealed his “disease.” It’s the same one that infects many of you who are nay-sayers of the truth contained in Linda’s video and her book. He said: “I knew I was breaking God’s law but I did not know I was breaking man’s law.”
Jack Schaap did not fear God.
He feared man’s law and took many steps to avoid breaking it, or so he thought. He even had his secretary deliver the girl across state lines. He somehow thought that would get him off the hook about taking a minor across state lines. He would learn later, that was not a defense. But, Jack Schaap did not fear that God would judge him for his actions. He admitted his lack of fear in front of a federal judge. It is a record in the Court of Man and a record made in heaven itself, before the God Whom he displayed a total absence of fear.
Do you fear God? Do you fear that if you reject God’s efforts to show you truth, that there will be consequences from God? Some of you don’t. I know that. I’ve met some of you. I have talked with some of you. I have the letters. I know the mindset. I know you. I lived amongst you for nearly twenty years. And, since then, I have observed the destruction in your ranks again and again. I watched as some of you sat mute on a platform and in the audience whilst a purported “man of God” uttered blasphemous statements. I watched as some of you sat mute on a platform and in the audience whilst a purported “man of God” performed pornographic acts before thousands of children, including your own wives, your sons and daughters. Your silence was…and still is, deafening.
One day you’ll pay the price for your rejection of her truths, even as your former pastor paid the price for his rejection of truths given him. (Suggest you read the Letter to Jack Schapp written in 1993, which he ignored.) Some of you have already paid a price. Others of you are merely marking time with God.
For the rest of you, read the book. Linda’s a fine woman. Is she perfect? Like you are?
You answer that.
Meanwhile, read the book (digital only at this time) at this address:
I’ve lived long enough to have seen it all, so I’m not shocked anymore when I hear of men who are revered as “men of God” suddenly being accused of ungodly acts that even those without Christ abhor.
But, it still troubles me. Most troubling is the number of men who fall who are indeed, men of God. These are men who were, once, the “real deal.” They did walk with God. They did have a genuine relationship with God. The fakes and the charlatans I can understand. After all, they were doing what comes natural. They were men of flesh, not spiritual men, and so it does not surprise me when they do what they do any more than I am surprised by hearing a dog bark. That’s what dogs do.
Perhaps more troubling is the underlying causes that I see which are very formula-like and being repeated, indeed, being replicated as though they were a formula for success. There is a definite pattern in virtually all of the instances of moral failure amongst men who stood in an elevated position amongst us, and fell into deep sin. I’m speaking here of men who were in fact, Christian men, not just in name, but in fact.
I’ve not looked too closely at those outside the Baptist circles, other than a few of the more prominent failures, i.e., Swaggart and Baker (who fit the “formula” perfectly). But in Baptist circles, particularly Independent Fundamental Baptists, there is a definite pattern that exists. I see five primary reasons for moral failure in pastors.
Again and again, these leaders fail to understand the role of leadership, and even if they do grasp some elements of it, they misapply the principles of leadership within their role as pastor. Almost all of those leaders who succumbed to moral temptations perceived themselves as being in a role akin to the Chairman of the Board, or CEO of a large corporation. Men in such secular positions wield enormous power and subordinates are typically unable to question the motives or the decisions of the CEO of a large corporation. In some corporations, the CEO becomes powerful enough to control the Board of Directors, and exercises almost total control which only diminishes when the corporation hits bad times as a result of poor decisions.
Now, this is not something that would ever be articulated by any one of them, but that’s the gist of the pride that swells the heart of such men.
Sadly, the congregation, themselves ignorant of the true role and status of a pastor, often cooperate in elevating and promoting this CEO role and the “he’s more special” notion. They misunderstand and misapply (as do many pastors) the admonition to give honor, even “double” honor to the servants of God. For the record: When you elevate your pastor, you do him no favor. Give him honor as his position deserves, and give him deference, as his position deserves, but do not elevate him in your mind to the point at which he is somehow more deserving of the favor of God than yourself, or that he somehow is a “super” Christian chosen of God because he is more worthy than anyone else. He’s just a man. He suffers from the same temptations as you do, has weaknesses as you do, and can even, at times, feel about as close to God as he does to the moon. Just like you.
2. Failure to understand Servant-hood
None of these men truly comprehend that their role is that of a servant, not a leader. Their ideas of leadership do not encompass the principles laid down by Jesus in his actions and words. God took the role of a servant. We are to emulate Christ, ergo, we’re to assume the role of a servant.“But Jesus called them, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. (26) But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; (27) And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: (28) Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:25-28.
Men who’ve grown in fame and have position are often tempted by pride, and many speak proud, boastful words in their effort to flatter God with their lips and in their effort to show the people how they have aligned themselves with God. They are oblivious to the bright sheen of pride upon their face which is so visible to the humble, and being ignorant of their sin, they fail to see the position in which they have placed themselves. “The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:” (Psa 12:3).
3. Failure to understand the nature and duration of their depravity
Every one of these men who have fallen into immorality failed to appreciate their true nature, and came to believe, in time, that because they were working for God in such a high-prestige position, they were not possessed of the same grotesque flesh they had when they were first brought into the family of God as children of God (John 3:6.). Flesh does not suddenly become different upon salvation, but is corrupt, and is so until our death, and is unprofitable (see John 6:63). Peter understood that and so did the Apostle Paul, who said: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom 7:18). Paul says very clearly that there is simply no way he can, by the flesh, make the flesh behave in a good fashion. It is beyond his ability. The flesh is bound to the law of sin and thus, bound to sin. (Rom. 7:23-25).
None of these men who fell into immorality, ever came to grasp the truth that Paul learned as he expressed in 2 Cor. 7:12-10. Paul learned that God can weaken the grasp of the flesh upon a servant, and that in weakness, the strength and power of God is manifested. He learned that the key to being strong was found in the weakness God permitted to come to his flesh. As he said so aptly, “…for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (1 Cor. 7:10(b)). It is when men properly view their flesh as a weakness, not a strength, that they will begin to understand that it is only through the power of Christ that they can overcome that weakness and be strong. When these leaders understand that at their best, they are weakness personified, then they can learn reliance on God’s strength to keep them from falling, and not their “magnificent” will power, or “super holiness” developed from years of living for Jesus. Only then, will they come to know true strength.
5. Failure to walk in the Spirit
Every moral failure is caused by a failure to walk by the power of God, or as the Scripture says, to “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16). Pastors and leaders who molest children, commit adultery, watch pornography, and engage in other immoral acts, have reverted to walking in the flesh. And it is axiomatic that those who walk in the flesh will do the deeds of the flesh, or put more simply: flesh produces flesh. It cannot produce a spiritual product. When you see the deeds of flesh, know that the man who did those deeds was not only being ungodly, he was not walking with God—not walking in the Spirit—and was trusting in his flesh, and not Christ.
Men who ascend to position and power must comprehend that they are not somehow better than any other man. They still have flesh that will betray them. They still can be slain by pride and lust. Unless they come to understand the five principles discussed in here, they will eventually stumble and fall. Some of them will fall spectacularly. Some will fail so miserably that their lives and ministries will be a shambles to the day they die.
When we hear of such failures, know that these are the underlying causes for those failures. There is no excuse of a “poor childhood,” or “being abused as a child,” or any other excuse. It really does boil down to those five things. God has given us the power to defeat the flesh, through His Spirit.
Christ is our only hope of escape from the betrayal of the flesh.
Would God pastors would learn these lessons before they veer off into the shoals of life and become the proverbial “castaway” Paul was concerned about becoming himself which he wrote about 1 Cor. 9:27: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27).
But, God is not in the business of ruining good works and destroying fruitful ministries.
He is, however, in the business of granting sufficient grace to perform good works (2 Cor. 9:8) and to provide grace to help protect and preserve those good works, for is there not a need to protect and preserve good works?. (Heb. 4:16). May we fervently petition the throne of grace for the protection and preservation of those good works and ministries that find themselves foundering because of the failure of a leader.
A message from A.W. Tozer “The Voice of the Spirit
There is a lot of buzz and a lot of expectations on both sides of this issue. Some take the position that this church is doomed, and rightly so. Some believe it ought to be torn down, brick by brick. Numbered amongst those who believe (and hope) for that very thing are some of the victims of the leadership and laity of that church. I cannot fault them. It is understandable. I can understand their view and desire that the place implode.
I’ve been asked why I am still a Christian. The suggestion was that I had to do some kind of mental gymnastics to remain a Christian after seeing and hearing all the abuse done in the name of Christ within fundamentalism, particularly that system of fundamentalism perfected by Jack Hyles (deceased), the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana and demonstrated so aptly by Jack Schaap, his successor. I decided that it was time to tell my story, in part. It’s an unusual story, and I confess at times I got off track, which will no doubt get me some verbal rocks from within the IFBx world, and perhaps from within fundamentalism as a whole as well. Fortunately, I have been told that my head is as hard as a rock.
The following is an excerpt from the book Fundamental Seduction: The Jack Hyles Case, published in 1990. The book has been out of print since around 1992 but has recently (Dec. 2012) been reissued. It is available on Kindle and as a paperback. The focus of the book was on Jack Hyles who is now deceased. His son-in-law, Jack Schaap took over the role as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, in 2001. The following story is the story of a child born to Brenda Stevens (n/k/a Brenda Hyles) and her then husband David Stevens. Brenda had an affair with David Hyles, who was at the time, her pastor in a small church in Garland, Texas. After David Hyles was discovered to having had affairs with numerous women in his church, he was fired. Brenda left her husband with David Hyles, moving to Illinois. She took her children, Brent and Andrew, with her.
A Battered and Shattered Life: The Cherub
Brent Stevens – Photo courtesy of P. Ciolino
The next three chapters were, in some ways, most difficult. I listened to stories that were disgusting. I have had to question motives. I have had to sift through the emotions and search for the important facts, the relevant facts. I’ve had to listen to stories I cannot repeat. I’ve had to vow not to “quote” certain people, some with good reason, others because of simple fear. One man, who recently resigned from the College, told me Hyles said to him that he (Hyles) has “a lot of friends out there” who love him and who were rather fanatical in their loyalty, and indicated to the man that some of them might want to hurt him (this individual) if he left and was perceived thereafter as the “enemy.”
Hyles is correct. So, wouldn’t it be nice if Hyles stood before his people and made sure his “lunatic” fringe did not go out and hurt someone? He has demonstrated what the law calls “scienter,” or “knowledge.” He now has a duty at law to not only not incite his followers, but he also has a duty to warn them against violence. But, he won’t do that.
Instead, he make a grand pretense of preaching “love” and a “non attack” policy and then, in the same breath tells his listener that of course, this doesn’t apply if you’re defending your friends. If you’re defending a friend, Christian love can be set aside momentarily while you beat up your friend’s enemy. If you think he didn’t preach this, listen to his message entitled Grow in Grace, preached August 5, 1990.