Junk in the Pulpit

Sometimes the oddest things get sent to my inbox, usually from someone who has been trolling the web looking for churches to send stuff to, I suppose. Well, the other day I get another email from a guy who’s got a particular burr in his backside. I usually just delete them and move on, but this one had a link to a Jack Hyles sermon called “The Treasure in the Field.” I scanned what Mr. Burr had to say and it prompted me to follow the link to the sermon itself. It was classic Hyles (and I don’t mean that as a compliment!).

I’d encourage you to give it a scan, particularly if you are interested in why many of us often speak so strongly against the kind of preaching that has been too often tolerated in our circles. There is no doubt that a critical spirit is a genuine danger to one’s spiritual health, but can anybody deny that substituting man’s ideas for God’s is any less dangerous? Seriously, some of us (I hope a growing number) find the common excuses for this kind of speech-giving unacceptable. You know, the ones that claim: (1) the speaker loves the Lord; (2) there was some truth in what he said; or, worst in my mind, (3) God really used it.

Do we really think that one’s love for the Lord entitles him to misrepresent the Lord? Wouldn’t one think that loving the Lord would mean that one genuinely cares about what the Lord actually said rather than treat the Bible like a launching pad for one’s speeches? Isn’t it time to stop using “good truth from the wrong text” argument as a justification for mishandling the Word? Preach the Word means preach what God said, not what we want to say, so we found a text that can be manipulated into a prooftext. Are we not flirting with the edges of neo-orthodoxy to claim that God spoke to us through something that He didn’t actually say? Seriously. Aren’t we getting something extra-revelatory that is located in the words of a human preacher that are not actually in the words of God?

The kind of preaching that Jack Hyles practiced and promoted has been devastating to biblical Christianity. It should never have been tolerated by people who genuinely love God and His Word. The fact that it was (and still is in some quarters) shows that pragmatism was more influential than theological conviction. To talk about taking a stand for God’s Word while tolerating preaching like this is just plain hypocrisy.

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