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Way of Life:The Fruit of Hylesism

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The following is excerpted from the new book The Hyles Effect , which is available as a free eBook from the Way of Life web site -- www.wayoflife.org. It is also available in print.
The fruit of the Hyles model and methodology has often consisted of moral and spiritual shipwreck.
Multitudes of former members of Hyles-type churches, having witnessed so much error and hypocrisy, have abandoned church altogether. Or they have explored the contemporary emerging philosophy, having allegedly found more spiritual reality in those circles than they witnessed in “fundamentalism.”
Being the products of shallow evangelism, many of these have never been biblically converted. They have prayed a sinner’s prayer but haven’t been born again. Having never had a real and dynamic relationship with Christ, they are man-followers, and when the man fails, they are offended and quit, sometimes blaming Christ and the church for something that is man’s fault alone.
Even if they were truly saved, they were not properly discipled and grounded in the Scriptures and in solid doctrinal truth. All too typically.. Read More

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I did not go to Bible college at Hyles, nor have I ever been part of First Baptist Church. However,  I am extremely familiar with the church, college, and have talked to and prayed with Pastor Wilkerson in person this summer.

This is my opinion. There has been a shift over the last few years since Wilkerson took over as pastor. Many of the things this article mentions was when Schapp was pastor. I personally know and fellowship with around 15-20 Hyles pastors in the New England area and I don't see what this article is mentioning anymore. If you were to ask me 5 years ago, I would have agreed with this article 100%, but praise the Lord I've noticed a deeper root in evangelism. 

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Personally I think the reach of these men in winning many souls to Christ and getting them plugged in to church was extremely great and should be commended rather than condemned. The fact that it mentions a church of over 200 in California and Brother Matt mentioning the many in Main and the fact that Bob Grey is in the south shows how great a mater it was that influence conversions around the country. With the great influx of Souls saved and plunged into their church ministries before they gained "perfection" is a good problem to have. The problem with Brother Cloud is that is very critical of newly saved Christians in ministry and wants "perfect people doing perfect ministry" to the point of doubting the person's conversion or the soulwinnwer's sincerity because they don't meet his outward criteria of waht a "true convert" should be. Yet if we did it Brother Cloud's "way" then we would have many bench warmers "learning to be saved" and then after they can figure that out then they would then have to  "learn to be good Christians" and no actual soul winning or actual ministering before "perfection". Will there be hurt people along the way buy carnal but ministering imperfect Christians? sure there will. Just as anything done in great numbers. Discipleship and unity takes time but people don't have to be perfect Christians before to doing basic ministry of the great commission. I think Brother Cloud is out to lunch on this one.

Edited by John Young

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I guess I read it differently than you fellows did. I didn't read it as an indictment of the current church in Hammond (which I believe has gotten much better under Bro. Wilkerson). Rather, the indictment was the philosophy and methodology that Hyles used and pushed. The 200-member church used as an example was the perfect picture, and in words of someone who grew up there. Two hundred members, but 10,000 baptisms in a year? Really? Where are those 10,000? Yes, I know that not every person who is saved and baptized will become a member, nor even an attender in many cases. But out of 10,000 baptisms, if there were truly 10,000 converted souls, wouldn't you think there would be one or two who would be added to the church?  And the man-worship the person mentioned? Very, very real and very prevalent in many IFB churches during the '70s (and later). Man worship always, ALWAYS spiritually harms people. (when Hyles gleefully tells stories of children calling him God - and him not correcting them - well, I would call that encouraging man-worship. Along with songs like "we love you preacher, oh yes we do. We don't love anyone as much as you [really? more than parents? spouse? GOD?]...." Yup. Man worship)

I think in defending certain things we need to be careful of attacking others. To defend the philosophy of easy-prayerism (which is what Hyles promoted, and that is not salvation) by attacking someone who is writing against the philosophy that has actually spiritually harmed many, many people (many - and I do mean many - whom I personally know) is kind of doing the same thing that Cloud is accused of doing.

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. But I always thought the Bible teaches that true conversion changes the converted. No, it doesn't make them perfect (and Cloud never says it does). But they are changed, and it is a visible change. Maybe a slow one, but change comes.

I'm thankful for the folks who are actually saved through any ministry. But that doesn't mean I have to give my stamp of approval on the way the ministry is handled. Especially if something is unbiblical about it.  JMHO

(I do hope that I don't come across as argumentative.)

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We don't have anything like as stark a division along school/prominent preacher lines in Australia as you do in the US, but I can say that when we have visiting groups from the US that do have such affiliations (Hyles, Bob Jones, etc) they almost always cause trouble.

Not individuals, but groups.

They come over to help with a youth camp or such and they end up pushing their own group and their group's ways and/or standards more than presenting the Lord.

Not here in Western Australia thankfully as we are not important enough to warrant such visits, but I know of many preachers in the Eastern States who have had to fix trouble caused by them.

We just small scale regular infighting............

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2 hours ago, HappyChristian said:

I guess I read it differently than you fellows did. I didn't read it as an indictment of the current church in Hammond (which I believe has gotten much better under Bro. Wilkerson). Rather, the indictment was the philosophy and methodology that Hyles used and pushed.

Thank you for your well thought out response, and you did not come off as argumentative. Jack Hyles passed away  in 2001, and while the ideology is still out there, it's nowhere where it used to be. I don't know if I would label it Hylesism, but just rather easy believism. That ideology is not just limited to one school/pastor. 

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2 hours ago, Matt Souza said:

Thank you for your well thought out response, and you did not come off as argumentative. Jack Hyles passed away  in 2001, and while the ideology is still out there, it's nowhere where it used to be. I don't know if I would label it Hylesism, but just rather easy believism. That ideology is not just limited to one school/pastor. 

I would definitely agree that it is more properly named easy believism. Sadly, Hyles was the one who popularized the quick prayerism, even though he's been gone for 17 years (and I know people who still worship him...). You're correct that the ideology is not just limited to one school/pastor. It's sad, really.

I would hesitate to say that the ideology is not where it used to be. Because the seeker churches are all about the kind of stuff. 

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We also need to put large salvation numbers into perspective. Its too easy to say "10,000 salvations/baptisms and you are only running 200?!!" There are many reasons a church can have many salvation and baptisms but few actually become members of that particular church. My home church in Lebanon, MO has run a "free Day away" Program since the 70's and has had over 60,000+ salvation yet has always had less than 300 members. Mainly because of the program they are able to reach 1/3 of those joining the Army by inviting them to the church for a Sunday after noon off of the base, a home cooked meal and a Sunday evening service with us. Other than giving each person saved a ten week correspondence course to help them grow, we never see them again after that Sunday. Many churches have been blessed with simulare ministries and opportunities with temporary workers passing through and and high turnover housing areas (truckers, migrant workers, military, vacationers, short term housing, apartments, etc) or even mission trips, small town or tribal canvasing, etc that put them in front of a lot of people who can and do get saved but never attend. Sadly many churches and Christians that do not see such opportunities begin to expect their one or two salvation a year from local residents who they have been working on for years to attend and become members to be the normal, so become critical, use "easy believism" as a cop out and put down of those ministries. Growing up I personally have seen the effort put into  the "free day away" program and other such minisireis with high turnover and can say they are not fake presentations or confessions. Yet have seen them mocked and ridiculed even by causal members of the same church who never actually got involved or simply had to thin a skin for such ministries.

As for the term "easy believisim" I don't much care for the term because true salvation is easy and can be received easily. I like the distinction Brother James Melton uses now to distinguish false "easy believisim" with a true salvation that was simply given and received. He calls it "empty believisim" when a person thinks they were saved but put their faith in something other than Faith in Christ for payment of their sin.

Edited by John Young

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6 hours ago, John Young said:

As for the term "easy believisim" I don't much care for the term because true salvation is easy and can be received easily. I like the distinction Brother James Melton uses now to distinguish false "easy believisim" with a true salvation that was simply given and received. He calls it "empty believisim" when a person thinks they were saved but put their faith in something other than Faith in Christ for payment of their sin.

I like that.

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So it's wrong to "criticize" something that is unbiblical, but it's ok to malign someone (misrepresenting David Cloud, claiming he is looking for perfection), and it's ok to be snarky about people in ministries that "only" win one or two people to the Lord in a year and who have a problem with unbiblical practice. That says a lot.  It is rather sad that you choose to claim that folks who aren't in large ministries, and who work HARD in areas that are HARD, who spend much time in prayer and knocking on of doors and might win one or two a year simply choose to use easy believism as a cop-out because they don't accept unbiblical philosophy and aren't afraid to say so.

One thing you left out, John, was that the 10,000 was in a year (and you are skirting around the fact that this person GREW UP in that ministry, like you did in the one you referenced...so, if you want us to take what you say as truth, you need to take what that former member says as truth as well - it's a two-way street). With 200 members, it certainly is within the realm of possibility if each member were to win 50 souls/year. Sadly, this member lived it and saw the man worship - which is all about numbers and ego.  

Just because a ministry makes claims of thousands of salvations/year does not mean that ministry is more spiritual than one in which there are only one or two salvations per year. Some of the fruit of easy believism is the fact that there are more Americans than ever who are near pagan in their beliefs. That makes it even harder to reach people, because pagans do one of two things: rest in their own "spirituality," or fold into their belief system whatever sounds good. Jesus sounds good? Ok, great, let's add him to our cadre of "gods."  And that does happen, with the god of self being the primo god.

I've been part of large ministries and small ministries. I've been part of ministries that have the easy believism philosophy, so I have seen first-hand the damage that causes.  I grew up in the era of Hylesism and still see the fruit of that philosophy. It's very real, and it ought not be so snidely cast aside.

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7 hours ago, HappyChristian said:

So it's wrong to "criticize" something that is unbiblical, but it's ok to malign someone (misrepresenting David Cloud, claiming he is looking for perfection), and it's ok to be snarky about people in ministries that "only" win one or two people to the Lord in a year and who have a problem with unbiblical practice. That says a lot.  It is rather sad that you choose to claim that folks who aren't in large ministries, and who work HARD in areas that are HARD, who spend much time in prayer and knocking on of doors and might win one or two a year simply choose to use easy believism as a cop-out because they don't accept unbiblical philosophy and aren't afraid to say so.

I've been part of large ministries and small ministries. I've been part of ministries that have the easy believism philosophy, so I have seen first-hand the damage that causes.  I grew up in the era of Hylesism and still see the fruit of that philosophy. It's very real, and it ought not be so snidely cast aside.

I wasn't being snarky at all. I actually have great respect for Brother Cloud. However, his blanket cynicism in this matter of saving souls as if it is all because of this manufactured "Hyles effect" is over bearing and has been for some time. The fact is whither a ministry has only one or two salvations, or thousands, have only a few members or gain many, or bastion of spiritual growth and practice or have many canal young Christians or are on the legalistic side, God has placed them to minister in their own way with the people and opportunities they have. Some churches will major on salvation and get many saved but struggle in the matter of discipleship and member retention. Others may have strong discipleship and member retention but struggle to reach new people outside of the church with the gospel. Each particular situation of a church is unique and should be taken as such.

To blatantly state that such "conversions"  and low retention is because of "fake methods" does a great disservice to the souls saved through these ministries and of the people who have contributed very much hard work, sweat, tears, and prayers in order to make them work . I know that a few do employ false methods and fudge numbers and have "empty believisim" but a great majority do not and does a great disservice to the cause of Christ to causally say so only after a cursory observation. Simply put large or small numbers of salvations or gaining of members is not an actual sign of good or bad methods and each church should be considered on its own merits and service before God. Granted no church is perfect and will hurt people by imperfect methods but often it is not the fault of "the methods" but the people with wrong motivation.

In regards to having only a few saved and added to the church after very hard work, I was not putting down such churches as that has been the experience of my three years of ministry here in Spokane using the same methods learnt in the bigger churches with thousands of salvations and 300 members (Lebanon, MO) and hundreds of salvations with thousands of members (Oklahoma City). In each location the same methods were employed and straightforward and honest but the results were different based on opportunities and circumstances and the spiritual receptiveness of the local locations. None of theses had to do with fake methods. 

Also Brother Cloud's spite for Brother Hyles and Brother Gray and other older men in the movement, but not in his camp, is no secret and he recently blamed them and other men for "ruining" the IFB movement by their "methods". Take a look at the following list in his article form just a few months ago for an example:"The History of How Evangelism Was Corrupted Among Independent Baptists", https://www.wayoflife.org/reports/the-history-of-how-evangelism-was-corrupted.php

Again, I'm not a hater of Brother Cloud, and have defended him a number of times, but this critical direction and his hatred for "easy Believisim"  and large soul winning efforts is growing to the point of blaming genuine ministries and good men of the faith. I understand that he wants to warn everyone against the dangers of false conversion methods and the rise of the "Emerging church" but in doing so he is also going to the other extreme, bordering on needing to clean up and stop sinning as proof of salvation, to the point of him (while he does not say so) pretty much endorsing a type of lordship/works faith salvation hybrid. 

Edited by John Young

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I have no opinion of Hyles, Gray or Cloud, I don't know the men. But I do know about easy believisim.

And I have seen the devastating results. Large or small church, it's all semantics. It just doesn't matter except for numbers of people deceived. Easy believisim is to be condemned wherever it is found. In this respect I applaud anyone that identifies it and calls it out for what it is. If only one soul is deceived into thinking they are saved when they actually are not, that is one soul too many.

I cannot even imagine being the one responsible for a false profession gained by this method from the pits of hell. And what about the newly saved that are being taught to witness to people in this way? Is their faith and Christian witness not worth anything? I have seen first hand the devastating results of the newly saved that have been taught to witness this way. Instead of coming back with glowing numbers to report they are devastated when they have to "fess up", just because someone would not say a "repeat after me" prayer. I can tell you because I have seen it, they are crushed emotionally and their enthusiasm for soul winning is shipwrecked.

We need to get back to witnessing with the Gospel message and leave the persuading to the all capable Holy Spirit. God doesn't need salesmen and women using the methods of worldly commercial sales pitches.

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Well, I have a problem with any church that claims thousands saved and has only a small number.

It makes no sense.

Something is not right with that..... it just remains to be seen WHAT is wrong.

I do remember hearing a preacher say (after being questioned on his personal claims of souls saved - not numbers per se but general "success"), when someone asks me "where are all these people who are getting saved", I answer that I don't know. I know where they will be if they got saved."

But he wasn't talking about thousands - he was talking personally of near a hundred a year, and a growing church of a few hundred.

Can God still work miracles? Of course.

But when someone claims thousands saved but can show what amounts to no fruit for it...............

My thoughts anyway, and worth what any man's thoughts are worth - nothing compared to the Lord's thoughts. 

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I'm fine with fighting against false conversions and making sure a person's faith is squarely on Christ alone for salvation. Just not the maligning of real ministries, that present the actual gospel, under the guise of "easy believim" being the only reason for their salvations to membership ratio.

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First, I now prefer to call the problem "easy prayerism" (a phrase learned from brother David Cloud), rather than "easy believism," specifically because Biblical faith in Christ for eternal salvation is doctrinally taught as the "easy" faith of a child, but NEVER taught simply as an "easy" set of prayer-words.

Second, I find it worthy of notice that when "numbers" are referenced in the Book of Acts, it is NOT how many were "saved" or even baptized, but how many were ADDED unto the church.

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There's a parable in Matthew 13 about a sower who sowed seed representing "the word of the Kingdom": This "seed" was the real deal.  Now some of that seed fell on "stony places" and sprang up, but it had never taken root. So those in the "stony places" actually heard the TRUE word but only had a "head knowledge" because they neither really trusted Christ nor were indwelled with the Holy Ghost. But that's not what this is about. The Philippian Jailor was not told to do a "repeat after me" prayer. Salvation has to take place in one's HEART, not LIPS.  Teaching kids to sing praises to the pastor, aside from stealing God's glory, is controlling people. Making tons of money off people, sleeping with other mens' wives and underage girls by using "feigned words" is making "merchandise" of them. Teaching "repeat after me prayers" thereby inducing folks to THINK they received salvation, is a "damnable heresy" as the whole world condemns Christianity because of the "pernicious ways". But "damnable heresies" sneak in among us "privily".

 

1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

Edited by heartstrings

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