Fundamental Seduction: The Jack Hyles Case
By Voyle A. Glover
Brevia Publishing Company, 1990, 486 pp.
Shortly after my wife and I accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior in 1983, we began attending an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church not far from our home. The IFB movement was quite prominent back in those days. Remember Jerry Falwell? Falwell was an IFB pastor, although not a “shouter” or “brow beater” as was the IFB norm. One of the other IFB “superstar” pastors of that period was Jack Hyles, who pastored one of the largest churches, IFB or otherwise, in the country at the time, First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (FBCH) , 23 miles south of Chicago, with over 15,000 in attendance on any given Sunday. Hyles trained young men to be pastors according to his strict formula at his Hyles-Anderson College and IFB pastors from all over the country flocked to the annual week-long Pastors’ School at FBCH to learn the secrets of Hyles’ successful “methods.”
In the 1980s, rumors of adulterous relationships began circulating at FBCH and within IFB circles, rumors involving Hyles’ son, David, and Jack Hyles himself. Evangelist Robert Sumner knocked over a hornets’ nest when he published a somewhat detailed exposé of Hyles in his The Biblical Evangelist newspaper in 1989. Hyles had been in a long-term, adulterous relationship with the wife of one of his deacons, Vic Nischik. Several men of the church went to Hyles regarding the allegations involving him and his son, but Hyles denied everything. A “100% for Hyles” campaign was started at the church with Hyles’ approval.
Attorney and FBCH member, Voyle Glover became convinced of the accusations against Hyles and wrote this book in 1990. In addition to presenting FBCH “insider” evidence of Hyles’ guilt, Glover informs the reader how Hyles had achieved cult-leader status and control at FBCH. Members were systematically indoctrinated to follow Hyles wherever he might lead and submit to him completely. Hyles’ sermons glorified himself rather than God. Brow-beater? Yup, Brother Hyles could brow-beat and bully his membership, individually and collectively, as well as any “loud and proud” IFB pastor. It’s difficult for non-IFBers to understand, but there was a cultish, Jim Jones/David Koresh-ish dimension to IFB pastors’ sway over their congregations.
Most FBCH members would not even consider the abundant evidence of Hyles’ marital infidelity presented by Sumner and Glover. Vic Nischik also wrote a book in 1990, “The Wizard of God: My Life With Jack Hyles,” describing some of the details of his wife’s affair with Hyles. The final nail in the coffin came many years later, in 2013, when Hyles’ own daughter, Linda, also confirmed the allegations.
Hyles survived the scandal, thanks to his loyal (aka brainwashed) congregation, although he was battered and bruised. Many fellow IFB pastors distanced themselves from Hyles and withdrew standing invitations for the “celebrity pastor” to speak at their churches. Jack Hyles died in 2001. His son-in-law, Jack Schaap, succeeded him as pastor at FBCH until he was arrested in 2012 for having sexual relations with a 16-year-old female church member. Pulpit bully, Schaap, no doubt had felt the same type of privileged impunity as his father-in-law predecessor.
This book brought back so many cringeworthy memories of my IFB days. Pastor idolatry was the norm in the IFB. Pastors were put on pedestals. IFB pastors controlled their people through manipulation and fear. The IFB movement has since declined significantly. It has nowhere near the influence it had back in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. The takeaway from this book (and this post) is not to idolize any man. We follow God and His Word and don’t put men on pedestals.
I had read and reviewed two books on Jack Hyles previously (see here and here) and desired to read Glover’s book, but it’s been out of print and used copies were über expensive. However, Glover recently made the book available via Kindle. The transcription to ebook gets a B+ although a drawback to “Fundamental Seduction” is the large amount of redundant material. Glover could have used a good editor. I would hazard that about one-third of the text could have been excised with no effect on Glover’s fundamental message.