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The Tolerance Of Intolerance

(Chapter 3)
There was
an amazing character trait within Dr. Jack Hyles that often appeared at
particular times. Many mistakenly believe that Brother Hyles’ views became more
extreme as he grew older and at the close of his ministry. I do not believe
that is true.
I believe
his positions remained very consistent throughout his ministry. There were
issues and positions where he evolved slightly, but none drastically and always
with Bible support. We simply became of aware of them because of the attacks of
Dr. Hyles
always believed that women should not wear pants. It was his right to believe
so and was a position he felt safe in taking based upon the Word of God. In his
book Jack Hyles
Speaks On Biblical Separation, the issue of pants on women was touched on once and long hair on men
only twice. It was not a pet issue, but it was one that he held to personally.
He never
placed church membership requirements on this or other separation issues. He
gathered around him leaders who already embraced such standards. He looked for
folks who wanted to walk with God not people who were made to walk with God
because of a position.
Dr. Hyles
loved the bus ministry. His famous statement, “I’ll take the bus kids” has been
repeated and even ridiculed thousands of times. He did love the bus ministry
even though he built his first four churches without ever having a bus ministry
and he himself never actually worked on a bus route. He actually advised many
pastors not to start a bus ministry too soon or not to build it too quickly.
He always
loved the King James Bible. Always did. Nothing changed. Other translations
were never used as anything other than referral tools. He believed in Biblical
inspiration and preservation through the King James Bible his entire ministry.
He loved
the local church and believed in the autonomy of the local church. He believed
in and practiced independence throughout his ministry even when he was in the
Southern Baptist Convention. His position never wavered on this issue.
drastically changed regarding his beliefs in these and other issues in his
ministry. He grew like all great men, but never demanded that others grow as he
grew. However, in all of these areas he practiced great tolerance with others
whose ideas were not totally aligned with his.
There were
many good men with whom he preached and fellowshipped who did not align with
him totally on some of these. They were tolerant of him and him of them. They
loved each other. They held each other in high regard and showed great respect
towards one another. They were brothers in their love of the Word and in
reaching the lost.
something change in his later ministry? Yes, it most definitely did. Did Dr.
Hyles become stronger on things? No! He became more knowledgeable as he grew
while remaining tolerant of others who had not arrived at his same conclusions.
He merely responded to intolerance of others while holding the same belief
system. He would often say, “Some grow and some do not grow.”
Did these
become pet issues to him that defined him? The answer is absolutely not. Then
what changed you may be wondering. It does seem that he spoke out more
vehemently about these at the end of his life than he had earlier. The answer
is simple and it is built around a principle by which he lived his life.
extremes of Dr. Hyles positions were defined by the level of tolerance or
intolerance others had for that position. Dr. Hyles had no desire to control
others and he was comfortable with their choices. Some pastor friends did not
take his position regarding pants on women and he tolerated that.
Some men
did not run buses and he was fine with their choice. Some were silent regarding
their exclusive use of the King James Bible so that would not be a point of
contention. Some close preacher friends held somewhat differing views on the
local church and he did not shun them for that. Both sides practiced tolerance.
If you study
the men with whom Dr. Hyles was close, you would see a diversity of ideals and
beliefs that was staggering. Men such as Bob Jones, Sr., Myron Cedarholm, G. B.
Vick, Bill Dowell, John R. Rice, Lester Roloff, Lee Roberson, Curtis Hutson,
Bill Rice, R. G. Lee, J. Harold Smith, Harold Sightler, and many others were
all very close friends and enjoyed great fellowship with one another. There was
no dissension between these men and Dr. Hyles.
Even men like
W. A. Criswell were men he respected and with whom he shared great
similarities. Dr. Hyles was never intolerant of the choices these men made that
differed with his own as long as they were not over important doctrinal issues.
He did not leave the Southern Baptist Convention, nor did he turn on the men
with whom he was friends. The SBC left him. His friends left him. Jack Hyles
remained cordial with many Southern Baptists throughout his life and remained
very close to R. G. Lee until his death. He had him preach for him many times
and R. G. Lee wrote the introduction to The Hyles
Church Manual
Please do
not miss this: Dr. Hyles tolerated differences as long as his were tolerated.
However, when the things he believed were attacked, he set out on a different
course. He was an independent’s independent. He valued it for himself and
guarded it for others.
Yet, when
threatened by those who became intolerant of his differences and attempted to
destroy something he stood for and believed in, he would become very vocal and
make it an issue because it was an attack on his independence.
When those
who did not take his position on women’s clothing began to attack his right to
take his position, he took a stronger position. He defied anyone to infringe on
his right to believe what he believed. It was fine that many men did not
approach the issue of women wearing pants as he did, but when they made it an
issue he came out fighting. Dr. Hyles did not separate with anyone over that
issue, but he fought those who reviled his position. The greats of the past
were not men who did that to each other.
When men
began to launch an attack against the King James Bible as a support for their
own position he saw the need to fight. Their intolerance became an attack on
others’ tolerance. Dr. Hyles was not going to allow others to attack his Bible
because of their decision to use other versions.
example, he would not have attacked a preacher for his position until he
slandered the King James Bible with assertions of it lacking inspiration in
print. That would have brought out the fight in him, just as it did in many of
Some men’s
intolerance is like waving a red flag to a bull in the rodeo ring. The truth is
there are several leaders who agreed with a recent pastor of a mega-church, but
did not want anyone to know it. They chose to be tolerant when they should have
been intolerant.
When the
bus ministry came under attack from men who thought it to be a shallow way to
reach souls, Brother Hyles came out fighting. His idea was that it was fine if
you did not want to have a bus ministry. It is your business what you do at
your church, but if you attack others who believe in the bus ministry, Brother
Hyles felt you were starting a fight.
He never
chose the bus kids over the rich people. He merely refused to allow the rich
people to pressure him into forsaking the bus kids. Had the bus kids said, “If
you do not get rid of all these rich people we are leaving,” I believe Dr.
Hyles then would have said, “I’ll take the rich people!”
Dr. Hyles
was not afraid to fight for an issue, but he did not start the fights. Others
looked for fights over issues while he accepted fights over his right to do
what he felt God wanted him to do. Independence was always important to him. He
was tolerant of others as long as they were tolerant of him.
The minute
they sought to force him into a corner, look out! He did not think the bus
ministry was the only ministry nor did he think it was the most important
ministry, but when others began to take positions against the bus ministry and
even fight them, he put on the gloves for a fight.
If a man
differed in some of his ideas regarding the local church Dr. Hyles remained
silent, but if that man began to be intolerant of what he believed to be true
about the church, he took up the fight. If you wanted to be a Southern Baptist
he was fine with that choice for you, but if you attacked his right to be
independent he would fight for his independence. In essence, Dr. Hyles did not
pick fights; they picked him. Let me give you a few examples.
The first
example was the right of a church to govern itself. Dr. Hyles held strong
beliefs regarding the autonomy of a local church. If you did not agree with his
beliefs that was fine. However, when those men who differed moved to
intolerance, he entered the fray with total commitment.
example was the right to have standards you believe are right. Dr. Hyles was
far from being legalistic. He loved everybody. He never embarrassed women who
came into the church building wearing pants. It was never really an issue to
him, but when some evangelicals decided to attack anyone who believed as he
did, he made it an issue. The issue was bigger than pants; it was his right to
have his standards. He was tolerant until intolerance went on the attack.
The attack
against the bus ministry was another example of him going on the offensive. Dr.
Hyles loved the bus ministry, but he loved all ministries that reached souls
for Christ. It was not his pet ministry. Some churches were unbalanced in their
approach to the bus ministry and, in some cases, used buses to perhaps just to
have a bigger attendance. He had never dedicated a service just to promote the
bus ministry until the year when some individuals began to take pot shots at
the bus ministry.
It was
then that he made it an emphasis. Actually, they made it an issue, not him. He
knew the lives that had been reached and transformed because of the bus
ministry and he was not going to allow some critic to tear down the right of
churches to gladly operate bus ministries. It was then he took an entire
service at Pastors’ School and promoted churches to commit to start and build
the bus ministry.
The right
to promote confrontational soul winning was one that brought out the fight in
him. When the crowd who taught lifestyle evangelism decided that it was the
best way for them to reach the lost, Dr. Hyles was not angry. He believed in
lifestyle evangelism as a method of reaching people for Christ. When the
proponents of that form of soul winning attacked personal confrontational soul
winning, he went to war. His objection was not against their method but their
tyranny and intolerance.
This may
shock you, but Dr. Jack Hyles preached some expository messages. Today we have
young upstarts preaching against topical preaching while shooting their venom
at Dr. Hyles’ way of preaching. He was a defender of topical preaching because
of the intolerance. Yet the truth is he was not against expository messages.
Dr. Hyles
did not believe in pet issues and warned us against them. Back in the 1950’s he
took a fighting stance for the premillennial position not just to take a
position, but also to defend it against the attacks. The attacks against were
strong at the time and were gaining a foothold in his convention. Perhaps his
only real “pet issue” was his right to be independent. When threatened he
fought back. Fight his right to take a position and you just got yourself into
a fight.
He allowed
others the freedom to differ from him but not to dictate him, nor did he desire
to dictate to them. Did he try to influence them? He absolutely did, BUT not
with anger, threats or unkindness. When Dr. Hyles preached for others, he did
his best not to preach his beliefs over theirs. He was a gentleman and a
I remember
the time that Dr. Hyles came to fight against intolerance for me. Someone had
written an article criticizing our soul winning methods at Longview Baptist
Temple. They questioned where all our converts were. To Dr. Hyles, the issue
was not whether he did or did not agree with all our methods. The issue was
that the critics were being intolerant because they, in essence, decided our
methods were not acceptable to them, even though they really did not know our
methods fully.
It was
then that he wrote the article, “Where Are the Nine?” If you read that article very
carefully, you will see the real fight he had undertaken was not at all about
methods. It was about independence and intolerance. He preached this as a
sermon at the National Bus Conference, also.
There were
three major national articles written against our bus ministry and soul
winning. Dr. Hyles came to my defense and refuted those articles. The truth is
he was fighting intolerance and supporting independence more than defending our
ministry and me.
As I look
back on the life of Dr. Hyles, he has been wrongly portrayed as a man who
fought over minor issues or what they called “hobby horse” issues. Not only is
that untrue, but I have never known a more tolerant man that he. The fight was
much bigger than the issues. The fight was over the right to be independent to
practice what you believed God would have you to do without judging another who
did it differently.
If issues,
such as pants on the females, had really been such a big issue to him, many men
would have never spoken for or with him. He was bigger than that. What was
intolerable to him was not his differences with others, but their intolerances
with him.
Let us not
forget the fight against us is not a really a fight of issues because Satan
cannot win that fight. It is a fight of distraction.
Dr. Hyles
knew that as did the great men with whom he fellowshipped long ago which is why
their fight was not over their differences. Today we allow the enemy to bait us
into missing the bigger point of protecting our right to take the stand we
believe is right.
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