Throwback Thursday: The Sword of the Lord

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 28, 2017 and has been revised.


Shortly after accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone back in 1983, my wife and I began attending an independent fundamental Baptist church and we stayed there for eight years. I’ve already shared several memories from that time, both good and not so good. Another memory from our stay at that church was “The Sword of the Lord” newspaper.

I’m an information person. I love to read, always have. As a baby Christian, I was drawn to our church’s information table, which was well-stocked with tracts (including Chick tracts), along with copies of “Our Daily Bread” and “The Sword of the Lord.” What? You’ve never heard of the “Sword of the Lord”? Well, back before the internet age, people used to get their news and information from the printed page and independent fundamental Baptists of a particular strain relied on “The Sword of the Lord.” I fell in love with the bi-weekly newspaper and subscribed immediately.

Pastor and evangelist, John R. Rice (1895-1980), first began publishing the Sword in 1934. The readership grew and grew as did Rice’s influence. Circulation of the newspaper peaked at 288,000 in the mid-1970s. Although independent fundamental Baptist churches are autonomous, there is a certain degree of networking through conferences, seminary support, etc. The major camps in the independent Baptist movement back in the 60s, 70s and 80s were the Sword group, spearheaded by Rice, and the Bob Jones group led by Bob Jones, Jr. and Bob Jones III. Rice and Jones, Jr. had split over the issue of separation, with the latter taking a much harder stand against the Southern Baptist Convention “compromisers.”

Rice had died by the time I had started subscribing to the Sword, but the paper was continued by his successor, Curtis Hutson. I looked forward to seeing the Sword in our mailbox every other week. There were news items, columns, and sermons from Sword regulars and Rice allies, Jack Hyles, Lee Roberson, Tom Malone, Bob Gray, Truman Dollar, Hyman Appelman, Lester Roloff, Jerry Falwell, etc., along with classic sermons from Spurgeon, Moody, and Sunday. Very helpful to me were the advertisements from ministry outreaches to Roman Catholics including The Conversion Center (Donald Maconaghie), Mission to Catholics (Bart Brewer), and Christians Evangelizing Catholics (Bill Jackson), all of which I contacted for resources.

There was a lot of good stuff in the pages of the Sword, but some of the information also bothered me. Patriotism and nationalism in excess were constant themes. There was also a certain degree of spiritual arrogance and moral superiority that characterized the messages, as if to say, “We are such good Christians and wonderful people who do right as opposed to those terribly wicked unbelievers (and non-IFBers).” The hearts of the contributors didn’t always seem to be humble and contrite before the Lord. One could even sense a spirit of pomposity and Pharisaism. There seemed to be more “Dr.”s in the pages of the SOTL than a medical journal. It’s sad to say, but public scandal eventually caught up with several of the names I mentioned above.

After a couple of years I let my subscription to the Sword run out. I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. Shelton Smith succeeded Hutson as publisher in 1995. Circulation has dropped to around 42,000. Independent Baptist Fundamentalism isn’t what it used to be and that’s both good and bad. Praise the Lord for men like John R. Rice who upheld the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, in opposition to those who began to accommodate and compromise (Billy Graham & Co.). But something went sour with the Rice camp and some of the other Baptist fundamentalists. They often came across as arrogant WE ARE SOMEBODYS rather than humble sinners saved by grace.

There’s a lesson there for all of us.

Huh? You fired God? Has anyone seen God shuffling in the unemployment line? Nope, He’s still on His throne!

This is the final post in our short, three-part Sunday series dealing with abuse within the IFB. My review below first appeared as a comment at on May 31, 2014 and has been revised.

I Fired God: My Life Inside—and Escape from—the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult
By Jocelyn Zichterman
St. Martin’s Press, 2013, 304 pp.

2 Stars

In “I Fired God,” author Jocelyn Zichterman recounts the terrible physical, sexual, and psychological abuse she suffered as a young child through adulthood from her father, brothers, and others within the framework of independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches and colleges she was associated with.

Zichterman’s accounts of abuse at the hands of her mentally ill father are sickening. My heart goes out to her. Unfortunately, she has thrown the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. So embittered by her experience, she has turned from the God of the Bible and has embraced the New Age, smiley-face spiritualism of Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Ram Dass, and Oprah Winfrey (p.215). She states that she knows for sure that God, whom she also refers to as “She/Energy/Source/The Divine” (p.278), is not angry and judgmental, but is “good, loving, kind, and compassionate.” Now, I can certainly understand why a victim of abuse within the framework of the IFB might be embittered, but Christianity is bigger than Zichterman. Yes, Jesus Christ is “good, loving, kind, and compassionate,” but He also came to save sinners. The Bible teaches we must repent (turn from our sinful rebellion against God) and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone, while New Age gurus like Chopra proclaim that the idea of sin is “toxic” to our well being. According to neo-Hindu Pantheist, Deepak Chopra, there is no sin, only higher levels of knowledge. Hmm. Of course our fallen nature favors a world where there is supposedly no sin and no judgment. Whether Zichterman and Chopra like it or not, there will be a judgment for all those who have not accepted Christ.

Zichterman disparages IFB members by using quotation marks in referring to “born again” Christians. but it’s clear from God’s Word that becoming a follower of Christ requires a spiritual rebirth (John 3:3), something she evidently did not experience despite her many years of church activity. Granted, it would be amazingly difficult for anyone to comprehend the grace of God while being raised in a home where their “Christian” father, a church leader, was a psychopathic abuser.

There are several inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the book that detract from its credibility. Zichterman portrays Bob Jones University as the Vatican of the IFB. That may have been the case in the particular churches that she was involved with, but it’s a false generalization. The independent fundamental Baptist churches I attended and was aware of had absolutely no connection to BJU. There are other fundamentalist seminaries besides BJU. There may be a loose network among some IFB churches (pastors’ conferences, missionary boards, etc.), but certainly nowhere near the extent that Zichterman suggests. Each independent church has its own unique set of ancillary beliefs, usually based upon the pastor’s predilections, which doesn’t allow for strong confederation. The “First Bible Baptist” megachurch in our area was in a very loose fellowship with KJV-Only curmudgeon, Peter Ruckman, hardly a fan of the Joneses. When Bob Jones Jr. and influential fundamentalist leader and publisher, John R. Rice, had a falling out over the issue of separation, the relationship was never repaired. Despite Zichterman’s best efforts, there simply is no pope or centralized leadership over the IFB. Even using “IFB” as some type of denominational banner is inaccurate. Zichterman swings for the fences, to put it mildly, by citing the infamous Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas as a member of the BJU or IFB network (p.272), a glaring overreach that would have been caught and corrected by a more knowledgeable editor.

I was a member of an independent fundamental Baptist church from 1983 until 1991. That church was not quite as hardcore as the ones described in this book, but the pastor was definitely a megalomaniac who used the pulpit to bully his congregation into submission. The man was a martial arts enthusiast who incorporated his ultra-macho viewpoint of the world into the ministry. His son has since taken over the pastoral whip and has drawn the church into an even deeper association with mixed martial arts. Currently, the son is embroiled in a personal sex abuse scandal, which includes allegations that his father covered up sexual abuse of children during his tenure.* I left the church in 1991, soured by the manipulative arrogance of the pastor, and drifted away from the Lord for 23 years. The hardcore, legalistic rhetoric took its toll. It is only within the past year that I have come back to a gracious God and found a caring church home within the Southern Baptist denomination.** However, I certainly would not suggest or insinuate that all independent fundamentalist Baptist churches are like the one I attended or are like the ones the author describes.

Despite its many shortcomings, every Christian should read this book. There is potential for abuse (physical, psychological, sexual, spiritual) in every church, especially where pastoral authoritarianism and lack of oversight is the rule. I’m very sorry Ms. Zichterman, her siblings, and other children and adults were victims of abuse in supposedly Christian settings. Zichterman’s efforts to educate the public and prevent further abuse are necessary and laudable despite some misinformation in this book.

*The son was sentenced to one-year probation in 2018 as part of a plea deal after being arrested and charged with four counts of forcibly touching four young women. In 2021, the 71YO father was sentenced to six years of sex offender probation after pleading guilty to one count of second-degree sexual abuse. He had been initially arrested and charged with sexually abusing two victims under the age of 14 over spans of multiple years.

**My wife and I left this SBC church in 2015 due to the pastor’s infatuation with Roman Catholic theologians.

Postscript: Steve Pettit was appointed president of BJU in 2014 and has been moving BJU away from fundamentalism to a conservative-evangelical position, but the fundamentalists on the school’s board strongly oppose him, including Bob Jones III. However, I see the conservative-evangelical majority on the board recently voted to extend Pettit’s contract for another three years.

Jinger Duggar is free from what?

This is the second in our three-part Sunday mini-series on authoritarianism and abuse within independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church settings.

Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear
By Jinger Duggar Vuolo
Thomas Nelson, 2023, 240 pp.

5 Stars

The Duggar Family was featured in a string of reality TV shows that ran from 2004 to 2021 on the TLC cable channel. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar raised their 19 children according to the rigid framework of independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) theology and ideology. In addition to the IFB influence, the Duggars were also disciples of Bill Gothard and his Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and Doug Phillips and his Vision Forum “dominionism” ministry. The Duggar children followed very strict rules. Secular media was not allowed in the house. The Duggar girls were not allowed to wear pants or have short hair. Courtship of the older girls was strictly supervised by Jim Bob. Etc., etc. It goes without saying that birth control was verboten for Jim Bob and Michelle and other IBLP parents. I watched the Duggar show with interest after having come out of IFB-ism in 1991. The experience soured me on “churchianity” and I didn’t return to the Lord until 2014.

Jim Bob and Michelle believed that by allowing television crews into their home, they and their children were being a witness for the Gospel and right Christian living, but cracks began appearing in the dam. Oldest child, Josh Duggar, was involved in a series of headline scandals from 2015 to 2021, which finally forced TLC to permanently shut down the Duggar reality TV franchise. In recent years, gossipy news sources related that a few of the older Duggar female siblings were flouting Jim Bob’s authority by wearing slacks.

Okay. Intro over. Now, let’s get to the good stuff.

In this memoir, Jim Bob and Michelle’s sixth oldest child, Jinger (age 29), relates how she gradually disentangled herself from her parent’s IFB and IBLP ideology. The first positive influence was her older sister Jessa’s husband, Ben, who came from a Reformed Baptist background with no IBLP rules. For Ben, it was all about Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and the Bible with no dictatorial mediator like Bill Gothard claiming divine revelations and authority. Jinger’s suitor and husband, Jeremy, followed a theology similar to Ben’s. IFB/IBLP ideology was abusive and Jinger, through a long process, was able to break free from it.

Jinger targets Bill Gothard and IBLP with great passion in this book and with good reason. Gothard took the joy out of salvation in Christ with his “Seven Basic Life Principles.” Gothard replaced freedom in Christ with a long list of dos and don’ts that only brought guilt and fear. He even taught that obedience is a part of salvation. It’s not unreasonable to hypothesize that Gothard’s stifling, straight-jacketed, quasi-Christianity that the Duggars subscribed to contributed in-part to Josh Duggar’s sordid and rebellious escapades. Scandal caught up with Gothard also when he resigned as head of IBLP in 2014 after 34 women had accused him of sexual harassment and molestation, but his influence inside and outside of the IBLP continues.

Jinger tries to cut her parents some slack by saying they were misled by Gothard and IBLP, but it would be surprising if this book didn’t cause hard feelings and perhaps even result in shunning. The Duggar parents still live according to IBLP dictates. For the readers’ and clarity’s sake, Jinger only goes after the biggest fish in the pond, Gothard and IBLP, and leaves out criticisms of the IFB and Doug Phillips and his defunct Vision Forum.

As one who came out of the IFB, myself, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed Jinger’s memoir and I applaud her courage in telling her story. She relates how many of her old IFB/IBLP friends dropped away from Christ out of frustration because of the stifling legalism. That was me for 23 years. Jinger chose a better way by disentangling from IFB/IBLP legalism while continuing to follow Jesus Christ. Praise God! I would give this book 6-stars if I could. Jesus Christ is praised and glorified throughout. Many unbelievers are going to buy this book hoping to get the inside dirt on the Duggars, but instead they’re going to read a lot about Jesus Christ and freedom in Christ. Highly recommended.

Jessica Willis Fisher – Digging out from unspeakable abuse

As some of you know, my wife and I attended an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church in the 1980s. There were blessings and also many problems. I subsequently walked away from the Lord for 23 years because I was so soured on IFB authoritarianism. A couple of new books with material related to the IFB movement recently caught my eye. There’s also a 2013 book about the topic that I’ve been meaning to discuss. So today, and for the next two Sundays, I will be reviewing the three books.

⚠️ Caution: The book reviewed below deals with the difficult topic of child sexual abuse.

Unspeakable: Surviving My Childhood and Finding My Voice
By Jessica Willis Fisher
Thomas Nelson, 2022, 352 pp.

4 Stars

The Willis Family burst onto the national scene in May 2015 with their TLC reality television show. The Willises replaced the Duggars, whose TLC show was cancelled after it was revealed eldest son, Josh Duggar, had molested four of his sisters when he was younger.

Like the Duggars, the Willises were a large (eight girls, four boys) fundamentalist Christian family. Unlike the Duggars, the Nashville-based Willises had a very polished entertainment act, which included playing musical instruments, singing, and dancing on stage. The large brood practiced under the scrutinizing eye of their father, Toby, and performed at venues all across the country.

Coming from an independent fundamental Baptist background myself, I watched both the Duggars and the Willises with great interest. The strict family discipline, legalism, and regimentation were characteristics I was familiar with and happy I left behind. But it was especially amazing to watch the Willises. The older children were very talented, and it was obvious the family routine didn’t include much leisure time.

In September 2016, I read the news that Toby Willis had been arrested on charges of child rape. I was saddened, but not altogether surprised because his dour, Svengali-like dominance over his family was apparent even on screen. Toby was subsequently sentenced to forty years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of child rape. His wife divorced him and the family was in turmoil, but eventually released their 2018 album, “Speak My Mind,” along with the requisite whirlwind of talk show appearances.* However, eldest daughter, Jessica Willis, did not rejoin her siblings as part of the group. She was not able to process the years of abuse that quickly or easily. She forged ahead on her own, eventually marrying, recording her solo album, “Brand New Day,” released in September 2022, and writing this memoir that was published in November 2022.

This is a painful book to read. Jessica recounts, sometimes in explicit detail, multiple episodes of being sexually abused by Toby. The abuse began at age 3 and continued until 2008 when she was 16. When police investigators later asked Jessia the total number of times she had been sexually abused by her father, she estimated it to have been around one-hundred times. But Jessica wasn’t the only victim. Her father also preyed on her younger sisters. Toby’s wife became aware of some of the abuse over the years and “intervened” (to a minor degree), but was physically and emotionally victimized by her husband as well. In addition to the sexual abuse of the girls, all of the children suffered physical and emotional trauma from their temperamental and psychologically sick father.

Toby had pontificated over his family’s home-church Sunday worship service and the Willises were eventually joined by a few other area families.** Toby’s home-church teachings were based upon the tenets he learned at an IFB church as a younger man in Chicago. It was all about legalism, regulations, and end-times prophecy, with a little (c)hristianity mixed in. Toby repeatedly warned his children the family compound would someday be invaded by federal agents à la Ruby Ridge. There was no genuine love of Christ being taught in the Willis home. It would certainly be unfair to paint the entire IFB movement with a broad brush because of Toby Willis, however, IFB-ism is fertile ground for crackpot conspiracy theology and megalomaniacal patriarchal (and pastoral) abuse (see Steven Anderson).

Jessica recounts that she prayed the sinner’s prayer when she was a young girl, but admits she is now uncertain about her spiritual condition. She states that she’s sorting through her beliefs about God in light of her experiences.*** She writes that she’s disappointed in passages of the Bible that she thinks present an unloving and arbitrarily spiteful God. One of the several passages she cites as being especially hurtful is Genesis 19:30-38 where Lot’s daughters had incest with their inebriated father. It would appear Jessica doesn’t have a solid understanding of the Bible. God’s Word certainly does not condone the actions of Lot’s daughters. Perhaps Toby did?

I cannot comprehend the pain and betrayal Jessica endured and continues to deal with. It’s difficult to get frustrated with her lack of spiritual knowledge. In her case, the Bible was used as a bludgeon. I pray that at some point Jessica comes to the loving Father God through faith in Jesus Christ the Savior, His loving Son.

*The Willis Clan disbanded as a performing musical act at the end of 2018.
**One of the home-church neighbor participants was the first one to notify police of suspected abuse.
***It’s bizarre that supposedly (c)hristian publisher, Thomas Nelson, would present a memoir from someone who is self-admittedly unsure about her spiritual beliefs.

Toby Willis on September 9, 2016, the day he was arrested.

Throwback Thursday: Jack Chick dead at 92

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 26, 2016 and has been revised.


Chick Publications has announced that its founder, the mysterious Jack Chick (photo above), died this past Sunday (October 23, 2016) at the age of 92.

Several months ago, I posted my memories of Chick tracts. See here. Chick took a conspiratorial approach to Roman Catholicism and managed to blame every calamity that beset the Western world on the Vatican and/or the Jesuits.

“According to Chick, the Vatican was responsible for creating Islam, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), as well as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He also accused the Catholic Church of having been responsible for the Holocaust, the founding of Communism, Nazism, and the Ku Klux Klan; starting the World Wars; masterminding the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Great Depression and the assassinations of U.S. Presidents Lincoln* and Kennedy.” – from Wikipedia

Whoops! The contributors to the Wikipedia article neglected to mention that Chick also claimed the Vatican created Freemasonry and Christian Science and that Jim Jones of the People’s Temple was a secret Jesuit who orchestrated the Jonestown Massacre in order to discredit Protestantism.

Certainly, the Vatican and the Jesuits were complicit in all manner of historically verifiable persecutions and skullduggery, but Chick’s claims were “off the charts” ridiculous.

Chick’s outrageous allegations against the Vatican and the Jesuits impeded the efforts of responsible outreach to Roman Catholics. Taking a cue from his conspiracy mania, could it be that Jack Chick was secretly a Jesuit agent, under orders to undermine credible Gospel witness to Catholics? No, I’m not serious, but who can argue with the end results? In the final analysis, Jack Chick was the Jesuits’ best friend by making outreach to Catholics look ridiculous in the minds of many.

Jack Chick, fundamentalist Christian cartoonist, dies at 92 – Associated Press article

Jack Chick – Wikipedia article

*Well, there’s actually some circumstantial evidence that the RCC may have played a role in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. See my relevant post here.

Note from 2022: Some evangelical Christians of recent years have regrettably become enmeshed in conspiracy theory mongering à la Jack Chick.

Bill Gothard and the Institute of Basic Life Principles

A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard & the Christian Life
Don Venoit, Joy Venoit, and Ron Henzel
Midwest Christian Outreach, 2003, 384 pp.

4 Stars

I think I first became aware of Bill Gothard (1934- ) and his Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP) when I began watching the cable television show “17 Kids and Counting” featuring independent fundamental Baptists, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and their large brood of children. The Duggars were disciples of Gothard and IBLP. The institute is a para-church organization founded by Gothard back in 1961. Its goal is to train Christians to live an increasingly sanctified and obedient life according to the principles spelled out by Gothard. Among other things, disciples are taught strict obedience to authority, proper hair length for men and women, no pants for women, no secular entertainment, no contraceptives, no alcoholic beverages, and wariness of all medical professionals. Circumcision and other Mosaic Law tenets are taught as being obligatory for obedient Christians. This type of rigorous legalism is extreme even for most independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) congregations, however, Gothard and the IBLP attracted many followers within the IFB movement.

I was perusing Amazon and stumbled across this Kindle ebook and gave it a whirl. The Venoits and Henzel of Midwest Christian Outreach wrote this informative exposé of Gothard and IBLP back in 2003. One new item I learned about Gothard from this book was his twisting of the doctrine of grace. Gothard taught that those who received God’s grace necessarily possessed qualities that merited God’s favor. Hence, Gothard’s legalistic doctrine of grace was similar to Romanism’s teaching that grace is merited.

The authors get into the weeds a bit with some overextended personal accounts by former-IBLP associates. Also, there’s little mention of examples of the specific legalities mandated by Gothard until the mid-point of the book, so the reader is wondering what all of the fuss is about for an unnecessarily long period of time.

As a former-IFBer, this book brought back a lot of cringe-worthy memories. Gothard and the IBLP had many cultish, controlling qualities. Disciples marched to the beat of IBLP’s training seminar manuals rather than following God’s Word. The authors reported that a number of fundamentalist churches split because of the militancy of those members who were also Gothardites.

“A Matter of Basic Principles” was published eleven years before Gothard was forced to relinquish leadership of the IBLP in 2014. Wikipedia relates that Gothard “stepped down from the IBLP after 34 women accused him of sexual harassment and molestation, with some incidents allegedly occurring when the victims were minors.” The Duggars followed another homeschooling para-church svengali, Doug Phillips, president of Vision Forum, who was forced to resign in 2013 because of a scandal involving alleged predatorial grooming and sexual abuse of the family’s babysitter/nanny beginning when she was 15YO.

Bill Gothard in 2002, age 67.

Jack Hyles and Fundamentalist Seduction

Fundamental Seduction: The Jack Hyles Case
By Voyle A. Glover
Brevia Publishing Company, 1990, 486 pp.

4 Stars

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.”

Jack Hyles

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.

Above is a disturbing 3-minute video of Jack Hyles manipulating and browbeating his congregation at First Baptist Church, Hammond. To Hyles’ right, in one “seat of honor,” is his wife, Beverly. To the left of Hyles, in the other seat of honor, is his secretary and mistress, Mrs. Nischik. Despite the close proximity, the two women did not fraternize and were not on speaking terms.

An IFBer criticizes Neo-Evangelicalism: Guaranteed to put you to sleep

Unchristian Christianity: An Exposé of Neo-Evangelicalism
By Dr. Jeff Farnham
Christian Family Press (Sword of the Lord), 2017, 212 pp.

1 Star

I bought this book from an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) publisher thinking it was going to be a critical history of Neo-Evangelicalism* from an IFB perspective, replete with dates and names, including references to Neo-Evangelicalism’s founders, Harold Ockenga, Carl Henry, Billy Graham, Edward J. Carnell, etc., etc. Instead, the author soapboxes about how independent fundamental Baptists practice Biblical separation and evangelicals don’t.

I was a member of an IFB church from 1983 to 1991 and I would readily agree that independent fundamental Baptists do a good job of teaching and preaching God’s Word. Doctrine is key in the IFB. Attend an IFB church for several years and you’ll get to know the Bible pretty well. What the IFB gets wrong is that the pastors can get overly harsh to the point of being abusive. Many IFB church members cower under the pastor’s heavy-handed authoritarianism. I would go so far as to say the IFB is cultish in that respect. IFB pastors also tend to major on the minors. Differences over secondary and tertiary beliefs are sometimes presented as salvation issues in the IFB.

Dr. Farnham’s criticisms of Neo-Evangelicalism can largely be categorized as generalities, but when he does decide to focus on a specific separation issue, he predictably pontificates on the question of whether Christians can/should drink alcoholic beverages and devotes 35 pages to it. Farnham, like most IFBers, is also a KJV 1611-Only advocate and makes disparaging remarks throughout this book about modern Bible translations. For IFBers, arguing “separation issues” like alcohol consumption and Bible translations becomes their raison d’être to the exclusion of everything else and they become as disobedient as the drunken Christian with their self-righteous, circle-the-wagons, finger-pointing sanctimony. If I were forced to choose between an IFB church or a non-denominational, seeker, hipster church, I would…stay home.

I get Dr. Farnham’s criticisms of “big tent” evangelicalism. One need only watch TBN for a few hours to see there are very serious problems for what passes for “evangelicalism” these days. But the IFB has its big share of negatives as well. I’m one of those obsessive readers who tries to finish every book I start. However, I should have put this book down after the first chapter because I was so unenthusiastic that it took me over a month to finish it.

*Although IFBers use it as a disparaging label, Neo-Evangelical was a term originally coined by Carl Henry in 1947 as a banner for the break from fundamentalism to create a more “culturally-engaged” evangelicalism.

Throwback Thursday: IFB Memories #5: Chick Tracts

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 1, 2016 and has been revised.

Jack Chick, d. 2016

I attended an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church from 1983 to 1991. Back in those days it was very common to see tracts from Jack Chick Publications in fundamentalist Baptist circles. Chick tracts were usually spread out on the information table of our church lobby, available for visitors and members. The tracts were illustrated like small comic books, but there was nothing comical about them.

Tracts, comic books, and books from Chick Publications contained information that was extremely critical of Roman Catholicism. I bought several comic books and books from Chick Publications, but many of the claims appeared to be outrageously irresponsible and without any foundation. According to Chick and the mysterious, alleged ex-Jesuit priest, Alberto Rivera, the author of several of the publications, every calamity that ever beset Western Civilization could be traced back to the Jesuits or a pope. This was going way too far.

Alberto Rivera, d. 1997

Unfortunately, Jack Chick’s sensationalistic half-truths and conspiracy theories (presented as fact) hurt the efforts of credible Christian outreach ministries to Roman Catholics. There is more than enough verifiable material regarding Roman Catholic doctrine and history to critique without resorting to exaggeration and fanciful and fraudulent extrapolations. Christians unfortunately began to lump together responsible witness to Roman Catholicism with Chick’s extremism. Chick was also a propagator of take-no-prisoners KJV 1611-Onlyism.

See Victor’s excellent post below for more details regarding Chick Publications.

Just as an image formed on a plane mirror is a duplication or reflection of the object placed directly opposite its surface, there is also a dangerous condition that can affect Christians contending for the faith which can make them start to reflect what they are contending against. A person opposed to a set of […]

via The “Mirror Image” Syndrome — The Kindled Flame Blog

Postscript: Chick Publications still offers its “Alberto Series” comic books, perhaps the focus of a critical review project in the future.

Throwback Thursday: IFB Memories #6: Thou shalt not drink!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 12, 2016 and has been revised.


My wife and I attended an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church from 1983 to 1991. The pastor of our church, like all independent fundamental Baptist pastors, passionately disapproved of Christians drinking alcoholic beverages. I’m not 100% positive, but he may have preached against the “sin” of consuming alcohol more than any other “sin.”

I’ve read through the Bible many times and I’m very aware of the many verses that warn against abusing alcohol and drunkenness. But I’m also aware of the many passages that seem to permit moderate consumption of alcohol. The Jews grew grapes and made wine. Wine was a big part of ancient Jewish culture. Well water was often unsafe to drink and Jews used wine as their standard beverage. Our pastor claimed good Jews only drank unfermented grape juice, but there are many Bible passages that contradict that claim. Even Jesus referred to the danger of fermenting new wine in old wineskins (Matthew 9:16-17). It’s very doubtful Jesus changed water into unfermented grape juice at the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:1-12). Would the master of ceremonies have marveled at the excellence of the beverage if it were grape juice? I can’t tell the difference between Welch’s grape juice or the generic brand.

Complete abstention from alcohol was the absolute standard at our church and it was a litmus test of spirituality. If you drank ANY beer, wine, or liquor, you were deemed to be an immature believer. I enjoyed the taste of a cold beer on a hot summer day, so I asked an older brother in the Lord if it was okay to drink non-alcoholic beer (0.5% alcohol). He said drinking NA beer gave the appearance of sin and advised to abstain from that as well. Hmm.

I knew Christians who would walk fifty-miles barefoot before they would allow a drop of beer or wine to touch their lips, but I saw some hypocrisy in that. What about coffee? That’s right, no one ever got drunk on coffee, but caffeine is addictive and it alters behavior. Is drinking coffee a sin? Also, a Christian might forsake a bottle of beer but enthusiastically chow down a half-dozen cream-filled donuts. Wouldn’t addiction to sugar also be a sin? Many of the congregants at our IFB church who shouted out hearty “Amens” when the pastor preached against alcohol were seriously overweight. They proudly never touched a glass of wine, but they were addicted to food. The pastor himself was obese. Which is worse, “defiling” your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, with a single glass of wine or with a greasy Big Mac and fries?

I totally agree; Christians should never be drunk or allow themselves to become addicted to alcohol. The Bible is clear on that. But moderation in all things. Too often churches get siderailed on the standard “pet” sins and behaviors and avoid addressing others. Yes, I’m very aware of the damage alcohol abuse has done in the lives of many people and their families. Some individuals can’t stop at one drink. They should obviously avoid alcohol altogether.

I realize many Christians will disagree with me on this issue. It’s up to each believer to do what is right according to their beliefs as the Lord leads. But for me, enjoying a single cold beer after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day is not a sin.

What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol / wine? Is it a sin for a Christian to drink alcohol / wine?

Is it okay for Christians to drink alcohol?