A preacher brother asked me a question regarding my recent article on the direction of Paul Chappell. He reminded me that Dr. Jack Hyles had R G Lee and J Harold Smith speak for him, both who were prominent Southern Baptists. His question was how is that different from what Paul Chappell is doing. It is a fair and honest question, but it has a logical answer. Put on your thinking caps and I believe you will see the obvious difference.
Dr. Hyles came out of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was too conservative for the Convention, which at that time was moving further towards modernism. Lee Robertson, John Rice, Lester Roloff, and others were some of the men who also came out and became independent. They became the leaders of others who felt disenfranchised by the leftward leaning SBC. They were not leading men towards, but away from.
If you escaped a burning building I would not criticize you if you went back in to bring out others who had not yet escaped. It does not appear to me that Paul Chappell is trying to escape from Southern Baptists as much as he is trying to distance himself from independent Baptists. He actually is leading others back into a burning building.
I don’t like everything about Independent Baptists, but I am one by conviction. I was one of those rescued from an American Baptist burning denominational building. I, for one, cannot affiliate myself with the Southern Baptist Convention. Even those who remained and fought the battle are now discovering the battle never ended. The Southern Baptist Convention continues to move away from traditional fundamentalist positions.
There are battles being fought today that would prohibit Dr. Hyles or anyone else from preaching for or with certain men. Calvinism is one of those battles. The King James Bible is another. Personal soul winning would be another. Contemporary music would also be an issue. A separatist position is another issue. As Paul Chappell moves towards them, he is leading followers who trust him to the same destination.
Dr. Hyles brought men out. Paul Chappell is leading men in. Dr. Hyles led men away from formal worship services while Paul Chappell is moving men towards informal worship services. I think we missed the point. Formality was not the issue. The issue was “worship.” Paul Chappell is moving in the direction of worship as the essential purpose of a church service.
At the time no one questioned whether Dr. Hyles was a rock ribbed fundamentalist when he had R G Lee or J. Harold Smith. The questioning of that period of time was whether R G Lee or Harold Smith were sold out to the SBC.
Dr. Hyles led men away from the lowering of standards. Standards have always been an issue among those who call themselves fundamentalists. Standards may not be a fundamental of the faith, but standards always accompany those who stand for the fundamentals of the faith. Paul Chappell is moving towards the direction of fewer standards.
R G Lee and J Harold Smith came towards Dr. Hyles, which gave Dr. Hyles a chance to lead other Southern Baptists out and into being independent fundamentalists. Hundreds, if not thousands, were led out by Dr. Hyles and Dr. John Rice, Editor of THE SWORD OF THE LORD. SBC pastors came out of the Convention. That is not what Paul Chappell is doing.
I have seen this before in my nearly 5 decades of ministry. It is not new to me. Jerry Falwell did not change the men he ran with when he began to move away from Dr. Hyles brand of fundamentalism. They changed Jerry Falwell or perhaps exposed who he really was. Liberty University today is a mishmash of Charismatic, Baptist, and non-denominational teaching and practice.
I welcome well-meaning questions regarding my warning of Paul Chappell’s direction. Once again, I emphasize the fact that I do not have a vendetta or an agenda. My goal is to warn my crowd not to be caught in the following of someone who is leading them to the wrong destination. No one can honestly question Dr. Hyles position as a fundamentalist, yet many of us are sincerely questioning Paul Chappell’s position.
May God help us to put aside personality and focus on Biblical principles.