Pastor John Wilkerson of First Baptist Church of Hammond in Indiana, who also serves as president of Hyles-Anderson College apologized to church members after he was criticized for allowing a man from a local creationist group to address the church and school while sporting hair they considered too long and quoting Scripture from the NIV translation of the Bible.
“Recently, we had a creation seminar hosted here at First Baptist Church of Hammond. With all my heart what I wanted to do is to educate, equip and empower God's people to face and to give ammunition for the fallacies of evolution and humanism that permeates our society,” Wilkerson said in a video posted on Instagram.
“Though that was my goal, I grieve to tell you that I probably did not make the best decisions in many arenas. I failed to screen properly what was going to be said or shown in some ways. And I think I hurt many people. I grieve that I embarrassed the First Baptist Church family,” he continued. “I think for the Hyles-Anderson College students and the men and women who have sent their students here, if I sent an uncertain sound, I apologize and I sincerely ask your forgiveness. I don’t want to cause a distraction. And I certainly don’t want to be divisive.”
One of the most prominent criticisms of the presentation made by members of the 18-year-old Indiana-based Creation Evidence Expo came from Pastor Allen Domelle of Maranatha Baptist Church in Oklahoma, who is also the founder and editor of the Old Paths Journal.
“There are times my heart breaks, and this is one of those times. This past weekend, November 12, 2023, First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana invited a group of men into their church to teach on creation. Then on Monday, these same men went to Hyles-Anderson College and taught the students. These men were not Baptists and do not claim to be Baptists. In fact, one is a member of a Reformed church, and another claimed from their pulpit that he is a Methodist,” wrote Domelle in his publication.
He then went on to criticize David Litty, one of the organization’s presenters as “a long-haired hippie” who should not be in the pulpit teaching Christians.
“A long-haired hippie teaching in the pulpit is in direct contradiction to Scripture. 1 Corinthians 11:14 says, 'Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?'” wrote Domelle. “I don't know anything about this man, but I do know that to have long hair is a shame. It does not matter what he was going to teach, the fact that he blatantly disobeys God’s Word should have alerted anyone to his spiritual discernment and that he is to be disqualified to teach people.”
He further noted that, “I received multiple calls from preachers about how they were told that the NIV was used on slides, and indecency in some of the slides. I am sickened by this as I am not for compromise of any sort.”
In an interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday, Pastor Fredrick Boyd Jr., co-founder and senior executive director of the Indiana-based Creation Evidence Expo, said Litty has already cut his hair to avoid causing any further offense, but made it clear that he did not use the NIV.
“He did not read from NIV. He did not have any scriptures in his presentation. I was there. And so that's the fallacy. As far as the long hair, we make issues over people's hair. … I thought we had religious freedom,” he said. “If we don't, we're in big time trouble. But as far as his hair, he has, because of the sake of this ministry, he has cut his hair.”
While Litty did not have any NIV Scriptures in his presentation, Boyd said another presenter from his ministry did use that translation of the Bible in error and he apologized to Wilkerson for that.
Despite making the apology for the controversy, Boyd added that he believed Christians should treat each other better when dealing with cultural matters.
“This to me, I think, was not a Christian way to handle controversy. If you have an issue with anybody, the Scriptures make it clear to go to your brother or sister alone. ... This thing of lambasting and talking about a ministry that is 18 years old [is unacceptable],” he said.
“This same Mr. David Litty that they're trying to crucify has spoken in, and I won't mention any churches, but he's been in numerous Baptist churches, and they have not said one word about his hair. Not one word. So now, we’ve got so many double standards in the Baptist faith, and I just personally don't like [it],” he said.
“I think it was very ungodly to try to crucify someone [for] this. We're trying to help people understand that Darwinian evolution is not true. It's racist. Darwin was a racist. Why don't we write about that? Why don't we talk about his racial attitudes towards black people? Why do we spend so much time talking about somebody’s hair?”