After several years of speculation, criticism, books written for and against the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, and undeniably, the most popular pastor of any fundamental Baptist church this side of the 20th century, did Jack Hyles leave a legacy worthy of honor? or are the rumors all true, or is it mere gossip? Was Jack Hyles a pastor who practiced “for filthy lucre” or was he a man of integrity that had flaws like any other human pastor?
I am reminded of 1 Timothy 5:24 where “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after”. Some of those we will know of now, and some questions will not be answered until we get to heaven.
Although the controversy surrounding First Baptist Church (“FBC”) has revolved mostly around Jack Schaap, a recent letter titled “An Open Letter To First Baptist Church” by Linda Murphy has cast the attention back on to her father, Jack Hyles. There is no doubt that critics of Hyles and Schaap and FBC in general put no stock in FBC’s current pastor, John Wilkerson, and would rather keep attention focused on the actions of Schaap and Hyles regardless of whatever potential changes may occur at FBC under Wilkerson’s ministry.
Then there are those who will as it appears defend the life of Jack Hyles regardless of what has been rumored or written. Whether such a defense can be attributed to “blind loyalty” or objective interpretation (in the opinion of the defenders of Hyles) of known facts seems to be a problem where a conclusion may not ever be reached.
There have been several books written about the subject regarding Hyles, most notably, “Fundamental Seduction” by attorney, Voyle Glover, “Wizard of God” by Victor Nischik, “The Hyles Effect” by David Cloud, and a series of articles published by Robert Sumner in The Biblical Evangelist which undoubtedly sparked the greatest controversy.
On the other hand, there are websites that defend the life of Jack Hyles such as The Jack Hyles Homepage IndependentBaptist.com. ,and Jesus Is Saviour. The latter appear to defend Hyles based on admonishing the readers to simply disregard rumors and gossip without any real encouragement to view facts alleged by the previous mentioned authors, and focus more on the accomplishments of Jack Hyles, rather than the accusations, and the former appear to state cases based on documented evidence and corroborated testimony of several “insider” characters closest to Hyles.
If the allegations surrounding Jack Hyles are true, then it would behoove fundamental Baptist churches to pay close attention to the facts to avoid an influence that would likely continue to harm other IFB churches in the same way that some of the teachings of Martin Luther, John Calvin, et al, still affect churches today. I believe there are some who defend Hyles (Bob Gray, Sr) that have honest intentions and have a true desire to see Christians have a fruitful walk with the Lord, but may not be privy to all of the details that have been documented about these events. I will not ascribe any interpretation of their intentions to any ulterior motives. Bob Gray Sr and I have exchanged quite a few differing correspondences, and I can say that I am certain Bob Gray does not support abuse or the deliberate proliferation of false doctrine and has received some criticism that I believe is unjust, inaccurate and unfair.
I will not expound on all of those accusations here and let the reader peruse the afore-mentioned publications for themselves. What I do want to add to this controversy are some personal observations.
MOTIVATION OF THE ACCUSERS
Linda Hyles Murphy
I have found it more than a little odd that Linda has been so outspoken against her father, but not against her mother, Beverly Hyles. If Jack Hyles was truly a man of greed and an opportunist, the same accusations that have been leveled against David Hyles in that the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” could also be said of Linda since after all, she is his child. [This is not a reflection at all of Beverly Hyles, but on the motivation of Linda Murphy on not being consistent in her accusations. Beverly Hyles, the way, has a new blog: Monday With Beverly]
There is no doubt to me that there are some very suspicious facts surrounding how the known affairs of David Hyles were handled by Jack Hyles, and how with the knowledge of those affairs, that David Hyles was shuffled to ministries in other churches when even one such affair would and should have served to disqualify him from any form of authoritative ministry. Moreover there is also the apparent unsolved suspicious death of Brent Stevens, the step son in his second marriage which was followed by the death of yet another son, the natural son of David and Brenda Stevens Hyles.
Did Jack Hyles know the real story? Did he help cover it up to protect his son? According to Linda, he probably did, but is Linda being objective? How much does Linda know about the facts, and if she knows as much, would her mother also know as well? If all of the facts surrounding these events, and the home life that Linda describes as tumultuous under the roof provided by Jack Hyles, would these facts not be known to Beverly who has engaged in numerous public appearances and continued to support and speak well of her husband? Would that not in essence make Beverly an “enabler” of Jack Hyles activities?
According to Linda, any staff member that had the scienter of the actions of Hyles and said nothing would have been a person that was just as guilty for not “speaking up”, but yet I have not seen any public ridicule of how her own mother handled these issues, and for me that raises just a smidgen of a question of credibility and motive.
Moreover, Linda has a “coaching ministry” where she charges $150 per session with a 7 session minimum based on humanistic methods of counseling (Although Linda attempts to show a difference between counseling and coaching, it is sheer semantics. For more on Linda’s history, see the section on Linda Hyles Murphy in our article on Trisha’s Fundamental Revolution And Do Right Hyles Anderson Cult.) So could it not be argued that Linda may be motivated by gain? After all, even negative publicity about her father offers her a unique opportunity for her to capitalize financially, and she is currently writing a book on the subject, where apparently the book is being sold one chapter at a time.
Granted, regardless of whatever Linda’s motivation is, she is in a better position than most to offer an opinion and first-hand observations of the home-life of Jack Hyles, but why have other siblings not said the same thing? Was it simply that Linda was the only one that had the guts to stand up, and if that’s that case, why did it take 20 years to write a book about it on the heals of the FBC spotlight after Jack Schaap’s arrest? This seems to be a theme in most of the articles, websites and books written about Hyles, Schaap, and FBC, “I could have and perhaps should have spoken up sooner”. In the legal system, we call that “pulling the teeth”. It’s a tactic where a good lawyer answers an objection ahead of time that they know will be a question in the minds of the jurors. Surely, Linda and others like-minded knew that that question would be asked “why did you wait so long” and then conveniently all of these critics posted their writings at the same time, when criticism of FBC gained national attention.
While I can not vouch for the veracity of Linda’s testimony nor refute it, I can only ask a few questions that have caused concern as to whether she is just like the caricature she has created of her father, but with the mask of a victim advocate. Perhaps her father neglected quality time with her as a result of being so busy with church affairs that she has been forever impacted by the lack of affection that a father owes their children and perhaps views her relationship with her father as a type of King David and Absalom? Or as some have suggested, that Jack left her either very little or nothing in the disbursement of assets upon his death.
The most successful attacks and lies are those that are mixed with a modicum of truth, and in my opinion Linda’s testimony presents some difficulty in separating fact from fiction.
Probably the most recognized of the critics that caused an avalanche of skepticism among fundamentalists before the existence of any so-called victim advocate or “Do Right” groups was a series of articles published by Robert Sumner in The Biblical Evangelist, ibid.
I do remember that during those years, Robert Sumner received quite a bit of criticism from Dr. Peter S. Ruckman over Sumner’s stance (or lack thereof) on the King James Bible, and there is no doubt that Ruckman had an influence on Jack Hyles regarding the KJB controversy. Regardless of how others view Ruckman’s often abrasive writing style, and some of his seemingly unorthodox teachings, there is little question as to the influence that Ruckman has had on the King James Only controversy, and the effect that has had on many fundamental Baptist preachers in taking a bolder stand against the corrupt translations and those who support them.
Ruckman was often critical of Hyles Anderson College and Jack Hyles and in later years, Hyles appeared to adopt a more “Ruckmanite” approach to the King James controversy which would have led to Hyles agreeing with Ruckman about Robert Sumner. Many fundamentalists, particularly those among Bob Jones University, have separated amongst themselves over the King James issue alone, which most have attributed to “Ruckmanism” (Don’t believe me? Ask any BJU staff member how they feel about Peter Ruckman.)
It seems that a break in fellowship between Robert Sumner and Jack Hyles was inevitable and since Jack Hyles opinion likely held a little more weight among fundamentalists than Peter Ruckman, could this have been the motivation behind Robert Sumner’s decision to collect evidence against Hyles?
One such example of an accusation contained within the Biblical Evangelist that did not make sense was as follows:
In 1971, when Jennie first demanded that Vic leave, Hyles came to him and asked if once a divorce had been granted, he had permission to marry her. Obviously, there were no witnesses to this conversation and its truthfulness or falseness should be evaluated in the light of everything else this article reveals. 
One author replied to this:
Let me get this straight… you’re wanting us to believe that Dr. Hyles actually asked if he could marry Vic Nischik’s wife if she divorced her husband? You’ve got to be kidding? Men don’t ask permission to steal other men’s wives, they just do it! . 
The website above, although there is some controversy surrounding the author of that website  provides some thought provoking responses to Sumner’s allegations. I do not want to offer this as a complete rebuttal of what Sumner wrote, as his allegations are pretty extensive, but there has been quite a trend that when a fundamentalist attacks another fundamentalists DOCTRINAL positions, that accused retaliates with PERSONAL attacks, and for me, that remains as a legitimate question regarding Sumner’s motives.
Even though it appears that most of the evidence against Hyles is based on uncorroborated statements of isolated conversations, I have seen hand-written letters that Hyles wrote to Jennie Nischik that clearly demonstrate an inappropriate affection toward another woman, have read documented court records of Hyles own statements in depositions regarding his relationship with her, and have found that the interpretation of events as written by David Cloud to be quite credible. I have extensive experience in investigations and the legal field, but this conclusion I have reached is simply my opinion on the matter. Yet I certainly do not have enough information from primary sources to be dogmatic about any of my opinions or conclusions.
And I guess my greatest concern for those in defense of Hyles is that there has never been a satisfactory explanation for the accusations surrounding some of the false doctrines taught by Hyles, or the connection with Jennie Nischik in that regardless of whether or not an affair was ever proven, was the relationship they shared inappropriate for a pastor and married man? If there exists an explanation somewhere other than just “Oh that’s just gossip” then I have not seen it. In my research I weeded out much of what I believed WAS gossip, but sometimes there are matters where facts lead you to an conclusion that you may not want to hear or accept. I still have many friends among FBC even though I disagree about Hyles, and then there are those who consider me a heretic because I choose to defend the Bible more than I am willing to defend any one man.
If there is evidence to the contrary, by all means prove me wrong. I was greatly influenced by Jack Hyles and John R. Rice growing up. Although I was not privy to some of the sermons where error or alleged false doctrine has been promoted (of which I still have not heard), I have probably listened to several hundred Hyles sermons in my lifetime, and still use some excerpts from some of his sermons. Thus, it was very discouraging for me to hear of these allegations.
Regardless of the events surrounding Jack Hyles or Jack Schaap, one thing should be made clear and that is in spite of their influence on certain branches of fundamentalism, they were only mere men, and did not speak for nor represent the practices and teachings of all fundamental Baptist churches. With the death of Jack Hyles, and the incarceration of Jack Schaap, FBC is writing new chapters with the inauguration of John Wilkerson and we have no reason to be suspect of Pastor Wilkerson. But again, First Baptist Church is not the “Vatican” of IFB churches as some critics see it. First Baptist Church is an independent church and whatever goes on at FBC should be given the same reflection as what occurs at an independent church of 20 members.
Churches should be evaluated on the merits of how closely they adhere to the person of Jesus Christ and sound Biblical doctrine. There will be critics who will always view fundamentalism in light of the failures of certain recognized leaders, and will continue to use bad examples of fallen preachers as an excuse to justify attacks on Christianity as a whole, and to further excuse the adoption of humanist philosophies, homosexuality, atheism, “progressive Christianity” and any other anti Christian belief for which they will continue to rely on the fodder of backslidden Christians to live like heathens and reprobates.
Websites such as Jocelyn Zichterman’s IFB Cult Survivors, all of the “Do Right” groups, Jeri Massi’s “Blog On The Way”, Darrell Dow’s “Stuff Fundies Like”, Cynthia McLaskey’s “Religions Cell” while all giving the appearance of advocating for victims of abuse, have produced more atheists and Bible rejecting ex-Baptists than Karl Marx could only dream of. (More will be said about this later in an upcoming article as to why fundamentalists don’t listen to critics. [UPDATE: That article is now available and highlighted in the about sentence)
Whereas those who remain in fundamentalist churches will realize that the only perfect example is that of Jesus Christ, and will move on in spite of the sins and crimes committed by those who were expected to be examples to the flock of God. Each believer shall give an account of HIMSELF to God and how he/she responds to any crisis within the churches. At judgment day, God is not going to be interested in how Jack Hyles or Jack Schaap caused a believer to embrace homosexuality or atheism. God’s question will be “In spite of what someone else did, what did My Son and My word have to do with that?” (Romans 3:4).
If what Hyles taught offends you, here’s a hint: learn what the Bible says and don’t repeat his flaws. John 7:17. Or you can spend the rest of your life on your couch being a keyboard gangster as an unproductive servant and a self-righteous hypocrite that has nothing better to do than remind everyone how bad other Christians are while you pat yourself on the back like the Pharisee you are and repeat “ I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican” Luke 18:11; or “I thank thee God that I am not like Jack Schaap, or those other Baptist sinners”.
“And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:1-5
When any form abuse is discovered, it should be addressed and dealt with whether by law or by church discipline. Believers are to teach the WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD (Acts 20:27), not simply harp on one subject. It’s as though if a Baptist church doesn’t make abuse the number one headline of every article or sermon, they are ignoring the matter entirely and are supporters of abuse while the accusers do absolutely NOTHING to promote the gospel (if they haven’t already traded in their faith for a Talisman).
At least when Baptists talk about sinners, it’s on Wednesday and Sonday. Critics of Baptists talk about it everyday as if it’s a full-time job with benefits.
Whether the legacy of Jack Hyles is fact or fiction, the real question is “what think ye of Christ?” and regardless of who is accused of betraying Christ, “what is that to thee? Follow thou me.” John 21:20-23.
*NOTE: Why am I posting Bob Gray’s Response when it appears I am not in agreement on everything? Because Bob Gray was a personal close friend of Jack Hyles for several years. Dr Gray has spoken to Robert Sumner, Victor Nischik and others surrounding allegations about Hyles when they first surfaced. Bob Gray told Robert Sumner face to face if he had the source and evidence against Hyles to lay on the table and Dr Gray would personally put it on Hyles desk and ask for an explanation. We don’t know that Sumner ever took brother Gray up on his challenge.
And because I made a reference to Dr Gray and it appears that he DOES know about the allegations, he has a right to his opinion and I’m not going to sensor it just because we may arrive at different conclusions or because others who oppose Hyles that yet favor our articles might not like it. I love brother Gray, and that settles it for this site. I have never known Brother Gray to deliberately disseminate heresy or false information. If he has, don’t just complain about it, PROVE IT.
RESPONSE FROM BOB GRAY SR:
I am shocked and appalled at the arrogance of young pastors who troll through the garbage of the internet and actually believe what anonymous writers write.
I also am shocked at the hatred, the vile language, the innuendos, the base less, the fact less, the heartlessness, the derogatory language, the attacks based on nothing, and the joining to the devil’s crowd. Most of them are merely revealing their immaturity. The truth is their YOUTH is showing!
I will gladly fight for doctrine and against immorality, but I refuse to be a party to unsubstantiated talk. There are so many helps available to us from those great men of the past, but if we decide to slander these men because of hearsay we will suffer and not them.
If you want to focus on their humanity and use it against them to detract from the greatness of these men that is a terrible mistake. Tearing them down does not help you build anything.
Dr. Hyles took the best of his mentors and incorporated it into his life. He never focused on nor spread TRUTH about the humanity and flaws of his mentors in order to make him look better. He preferred to focus on the great qualities of his mentors to help the generation following him.
Why do we believe a Linda Murphrey’s attacks against her parents when she is associating with heretics and blasphemous people who attack the virgin birth, the King James Bible, and love buddhism, etc. She glorifies drinking liquor. She sees nothing wrong with living in adultery. What she accuses others of is exactly what she is doing with her life. Ironic!
She boldly one day brought her live in male to her moms place at a family gathering and in the front of all the family shouted, “Hey mom we are living together.” She was throwing it into the face of her godly mom. What a brat! And this is your source?
You say isn’t this gossip itself? NO! I’ll tell you why because these are her own words as well as her female cohorts.
Why doesn’t she open up and tell the world of her adultery, her fornication, her forgeries, her immorality. If she really wanted to come clean she should start with her own life and then quit blaming others. She didn’t learn that lifestyle from her parents. She chose that lifestyle and then blames her parents. CRAZY!
My four children are all serving God and married to great Christians. However, that was their choice. No parent can make a child turn out right, but the parent can make the child do right.
In the final analysis it is the child that decides and it results in the parents looking bad or good in the sight of others. Mrs. G and I do not deserve the credit nor the blame for their choices.
My children could easily write about the tyrannical way they were raised. I was a dictator. However, Mrs. G was far worse than I was. Ha!
If our children chose to be rebels in our home then they would be rebels away from our home. As a result they probably would write horrible things about their home life. All of it would be written through the eyes of rebellion.
So for Linda to come out and expose what others have always wanted to believe only reveals her rebelliousness! She viewed everything through the eyes of a teenage rebel.
Linda take responsibility for your own life and leave your deceased dad and 84 year old mother alone! You were spoiled!
If what Linda says be true doctrinally then she needs to get born again. Excuse me, but all of this has to do with her being angry for not receiving any money from dad after his death. What parent bypasses his living mate to give directly to their children. Ridiculous!
She has nothing new to say except to rehash what others have said and things she hated as a rebellious teen in order to promote a book. She wants to hurt her mom because she could not live a rebellious life and receive her parents approval especially her mom.
Her mother is 84 years of age and does not deserve this from a child she went to the jaws of death to bring into this world.
ALL ABSALOMS ARE NOT MALE!