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Beware of Rhetoric and Talking Points

In every group there are certain soundbites or talking points that are a part of that group’s position. For example, the Tea Party has often been defined by various talking points which are a part of their platform. Those talking points are not the substance of all they believe. They are merely issues which, at that moment, are important to them. Those issues may change because times change. Rhetoric is most often based upon the immediate issues that concern a group of people.
Enemies often take these talking points or, as we are calling it rhetoric, and seek to confine a person or a group with certain definitions. They twist those talking points to discredit that person or group. They despise what that person believes, so they want to create a narrowness about that person or group. Liberals take the talking points of the Tea Party and make those people sound very small or redefine what they mean. The result is that if you are a conservative who believes in the principles of the Tea Party, you are deemed a racist. Now that is ridiculous, but it is how the enemy fights against what they cannot counter with truth.
Certain issues were at the forefront in the last years of Dr. Jack Hyles’ life. Those issues became talking points in the independent Baptist world. However, those talking points did not fully represent all that Dr. Hyles stood for or believed. The King James Bible issue was one example. The enemies of that position sought to confine Dr. Hyles inside those talking points as though that was the extent of what he was or believed. The vastness of his beliefs and positions were ignored in an attempt to define him in a way that accomplished their purpose.
Unfortunately, even good people often start believing what the enemy says. Anyone who listened to the vast preaching of Dr. Hyles during the last five years of his ministry would understand the extent of his knowledge and the depth of his faith. The issues that defined him were not truly representative of all he was. However, a man who chooses to be a spokesman or a statesman must also carry the burden of being labeled by those talking points. He knew and accepted that.
We see it happening in the political arena. A conservative politician arises and soon the liberals are seeking to define him by the rhetoric while ignoring his commitment to our constitution in which he believes. Cause oriented leaders are defined or misdefined by those who seek to limit their influence and castigate them as fringe.

That was true of Dr. Hyles. Time and time again he has been mischaracterized by the various issues that were important to him. These talking points did not limit the scope of his beliefs. An example of this is pants on woman. Dr. Hyles did not believe that a woman who wore pants was lost or even necessarily a bad Christian. He did believe she could be a better influence, example, and testimony if she chose to wear skirts or dresses.
However, this was not a litmus test of her Christianity. The issue of pants became more and more a topic of attack by enemies or by Christians who decided that they were going to take a position different than his. They attacked his right to believe in pants as an issue and thus misrepresented his belief. They would call him a legalist because of his position. They took his talking points and turned them into a confining and defining definition of who he was.
Brother Hyles wrote a book on separation. In Dr. Hyles’ book the word pants is mentioned exactly one time, and even then it was not an attack on women wearing pants. Pants to him represented his right to have standards. The issue really was not pants as the attackers would claim. The issue was standards, direction and pants was just a talking point. He was not condemning women who wore pants. His greater concern was those who fought against the right to set standards. However, he was mislabeled by those who didn’t like the standard. Sometimes his fight was for the right to believe as much as it was in the belief itself.
A few years ago a fuss made over a television show called Duck Dynasty. I am not in particular a Duck Dynasty fan. I can take it or leave it. (Mrs. Gray would prefer to take it because she finds it to be funny.) The patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family spoke out about men engaging in homosexual sex. He was stating a belief, but in that statement he gave a broader message and that message was we are all sinners and we all need a savior. The world did not want to characterize him in that broader spectrum because they do not want to admit we are all sinners and they certainly do not want to admit that we need a savior. So, they accused him of attacking homosexual men.
Obviously the patriarch is against homosexuality, but the bigger issue was the right to speak out about what he believes to be right and wrong. The issue was calling sin by its name. He was defined by the rhetoric rather than by the bigger picture of what he was trying to accomplish.
Let me delve into another very controversial subject, that being the King James Bible. Dr. Hyles was far more tolerant on that issue than most people would understand. For a long time his position was that it is possible that other versions of the Bible could be used effectively. As the Bible was being read, translated, or rewritten, we began to increasingly see the truth being perverted. He was slow to make his decision as to his position, but realized he had to take a position. To say the King James Bible was not inspired was to say there was no inspired Bible. He saw the weakness of that position. After listening to others and weighing everything carefully, he made his decision.
Because of his influence that decision was going to affect those who followed him. He chose to come out strongly for the King James Bible, but he did not condemn all of those who used other versions. He carefully grew and developed that position and his talking points were often misrepresented by those who wanted to misrepresent him because they did not agree. They labeled his position based upon his talking points rather than upon his true position. He had a very reasoned position.
However, they used his rhetoric in an attempt to make him seem to be an extremist. But are not all conservatives and fundamentalists labeled as extremists? It is hard to believe that those of us who believe what most Americans believed fifty years ago are now extremists in the society. It is also hard to believe that those of us who believe what most Christians believed fifty years ago are now extremists in the Christian world. They have taken our talking points and turned them into a caricature of all that we really believe.
Let’s take another example. In my lifetime I have seen freedom of speech decimated by the liberals. Those who defend freedom of speech are characterized as being haters, even racists. I do not believe I am a racist because I believe a person has the freedom to say something that is offensive to someone of another race, even though I do not think they should do so.
If someone uses the word “fat” I could say it offends me because, well, let’s just say I’m not skinny. I am not a racist because I use talking points that defend the right of someone to say what they believe. I have a right to say homosexuality is wrong. The Liberals would say that I have no right to say what I believe and that makes me want to speak it even more, merely to exercise my freedom and to prove to them I have the right to say it.
Sometimes it is not the fact of what we say, but the right to say that fact that causes us to need to take a stronger stance. Tell Dr. Hyles he couldn’t do or say something, and he would do or say it even more. So, when they attacked his talking points he talked more and louder. That is what’s leaders do. The problem is followers then take it and make it the basis of the movement. The leader speaks it because his right is being threatened, then the followers hear him and turn it into the major platform of their cause.
The major cause to Dr. Hyles was the souls of men. That never changed. Some of his followers took the rhetoric that he used in defense of the attacks being made upon the movement and turned them into the major purpose of the movement. He spoke against denominations because independence was being attacked. Southern Baptists were questioning the right for us to be independent, so he used the rhetoric against the Southern Baptists. He loved Southern Baptists, but many of his followers made the Southern Baptists the enemy. Satan is the enemy.
I am not suggesting that he did not believe everything he said, but I am saying that what he said did not constitute everything he believed. There was far more to him than the soundbites attributed to him or that were used to confine and define him. When a man speaks something that offends another who does not agree, they attempt to define him as being not compassionate, when in reality his statements were based upon a certain belief but not confined to that belief.
Once again let me illustrate. When I say that I believe homosexuality is horrible, do not confine me to that statement. I also believe that homosexuals are loved by God and can be saved just like any other sinner. Just as the world tries to confine us by our statements, so did many of the people who disagreed with Dr. Hyles try to confine him by his statements.
We must understand that we are always going to be misrepresented by those who oppose the truth. Instead of fighting it we must remember that our main cause is to reach the lost for Christ. Do not fear the attacks against our positions, but do not allow these positions to take our eyes off of the big picture of reaching this world for Christ.

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