Tom and his guest, TBC board member Rob Yardley, continue their discussion on "The Legacy of Dave Hunt."
In today’s program, Tom continues his discussion on The Legacy of Dave Hunt, founder of the The Berean Call, with TBC board member and longtime friend, Rob Yardley. Here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Well, this is the second part of our program in which we’re discussing—really, remembering a man who I call my best friend in the Lord. I’ve been working with Dave, taught by him, encouraged by him, for 35 years–20 years with The Berean Call, and…
Well, anyway, as we mentioned last week, that’s the bitter part of it in a bittersweet thing. The sweet part is, well, Dave is with the Lord. He’s in glory. And that’s not just some kind of “positive mental attitude” thing. That’s what the Scriptures teach, and that’s what we know. So we’re thrilled. Dave in his last couple of years had physical issues, and certainly, the warrior, God’s watchman on the wall, fought the good fight, but that took its toll on him physically in his last years.
But we’re going to get past the bitterness—you know, it’s bitter in the sense, Rob, I think…I’m with Rob Yardley, by the way, and Rob has known Dave for…not quite as long as I have, but almost, and Rob is a board member of The Berean Call, and Rob oversees the Facebook site—Dave Hunt Facebook. So, Rob, again, thanks for joining me on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Rob: Thank you, Tom.
Tom: I mentioned last week that we’re going to get to the sweet part, and you know, there are so many ideas out there about Dave Hunt, and I just cringe when I hear people say things about him—number 1, they don’t know him; they never knew him. But they pick up ideas here and there, or they conjure things up in their own mind, and, like I said, I just get flabbergasted. “Wait a minute? Who are you talking about?” You know, I know this man…In their view, and perhaps it’s because Dave was as strong on the Scriptures—“To the law and the testimony. If they speak not according to God’s word, there’s no light in them.” And that certainly was a verse from Isaiah that Dave lived by to check things out.
The name of our ministry that I’ve been blessed to work with Dave and The Berean Call—the Bereans, they searched the scriptures daily, and that’s why I’m pretty sure it was Dave that came up with the name, and that was the encouragement that he wanted for those who read his books. Certainly, we developed the newsletter. The whole idea of the ministry was to encourage people to be like the Bereans and search the Scriptures daily, to see if what they were hearing—from the pulpit, Christian radio, Christian television, just word of mouth—check things out. Make sure that it’s true to the Word of God.
It’s somewhat ironic that, you know, this has been Dave’s heart and certainly mine as well for the body of Christ. But the Bereans—they weren’t Christians, and they’re commended for what they did. They were Jews in the synagogue—in the Greek city of Berea. And they’re commended by Luke, who writes the book of Acts, because they listened to what the Apostle Paul had to say, but then they searched the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. And that’s been Dave’s heart for as long as I’ve known him.
And I couldn’t think of a better encouragement, a better exhortation than Dave had in his ministry even before I knew him.
Rob: Yes, and you mentioned the name of the ministry, The Berean Call. I know that Dave would, occasionally, when we were driving around, mention that one of the names that had been thrown out there by someone was “Hunt for the Truth.” And he thought that was just horrible. The last thing he wanted was for his name to be involved in it. If the Bereans were checking out the great Apostle Paul, you’d better check out Dave Hunt.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Yeah, that’s a good point, Rob, and that’s certainly, in following Dave, in terms of his wisdom and his understanding of the Scriptures, boy, that really spoke to my heart, and I’ve had, as I said, 35 years of Dave encouraging me in that, so that’s… I’m going to miss him. I’m going to miss the guy.
But one of the things that I mentioned last week that we would talk about is the myth of Dave Hunt. (Laughing) I don’t know how many years—probably a dozen or so years—that we started radio here at The Berean Call, and I was reluctant to do it, but, you know, the Lord kind of grabbed me on it. But here’s what came about, which I’m so thankful for. People read Dave, and in reading him—he is so strong on the Scriptures that whether it was just conviction on the part of people, or God’s Word—this is what it says, you need to do it. And that can be a pretty strong message, especially in this day of compromise and people kind of waffling around with this doctrine and that doctrine, or this teaching and that teaching, and so on.
Nevertheless, Dave would just lay this thing out as clearly and as succinctly as he could, and people were offended by it. And rather than being offended and convicted by the Word of God, they were offended by Dave Hunt. So they took it personally.
Well, in doing radio, another couple of elements were added to this. Not only could they hear Dave speak about a particular issue, but they could hear it in his voice. They could hear the compassion that he had. They could hear the humility in Dave. And we’ve had people write to us from all over the world saying, “I used to think this about Dave, but when I heard him, and I got a sense of where his heart was on this, boy, it just turned everything around for me.”
Well, you know, that’s human nature. We tend to read into things, but it’s a little hard to get past something when you know, when you can hear a person’s heart, when you can hear their compassion and concern for the body of Christ, in particular, or it may be for individuals, and so on, who were teaching false ideas and so on, perhaps unwittingly.
Rob: Right, and you and I have both met with individuals—Christian leaders—with Dave on different occasions, and one of the amazing things to me was how he would go up and hug them after we’d met. I mean, based on the things they’d said in the meeting, I was probably more inclined to slug them. Dave was such a loving guy, even though we had very strong doctrinal disagreements with eternal consequences, he would hug them and let them know that he loved them—that he was merely contending for the faith. Just…he was such a loving man.
Tom: Right. Now, Rob, I want to get into some stories about Dave. As I said, it turned people around when they could hear his voice, you know, many of them would go and hear him speak and see the compassion in the man, so that was huge. But the other thing was, last week we talked about The Seduction of Christianity, and for those who were upset with it; on the other hand, you know, as I said, it was a bestseller, and the influence that that had on the lives of people was just absolutely stunning. We could talk for weeks about how people responded to that—how it opened their eyes to it. Commonly people would say, “Well, you know, before you guys wrote about this, you know, I was way ahead of you, and I had a conviction in my spirit about these things, but what you guys did for me is that you explained it according to the Scriptures.”
So that was huge. And it encouraged me, certainly, being able to participate in this with Dave. But you know, Rob, I want to give one other story, and maybe…I‘m sure you have some as well. I think the most stunning response to The Seduction of Christianity came from a man—I have his letter—he was on Death Row. And he was a Christian. He got saved on Death Row. How that happened he didn’t explain, but he said that he knew the Lord. And he actually had a ministry on Death Row. It was a ministry of intercessory prayer. That’s what he dedicated his life to. He didn’t know how long his life was going to be here on earth, because obviously if you’re on Death Row….And, he said but one day, books were brought in to the inmates on Death Row on a cart. And he picked up one of the books, and it was by, you know, somebody like Kenneth Hagin, or Copeland, or someone. It was about Positive Confession. It was about how it’s your “faith.” And whatever your situation is, you can get out of it based on your faith.
And he started reading…he read that book. And then he began “confessing” over and over again that God was going to deliver him from the cell, get him out into the public, and that’s all he could think about was confessing and confessing. Because that’s what positive confession is about.
Tom: It’s your faith. You’ve got to keep repeating, over and over again, because it’s a positive mental attitude thing, as well. I mean, all of this stuff comes from religious science. Nevertheless, he said, it absolutely destroyed his intercessory prayer. Now it wasn’t about others out there and their needs. It was all about him, which is, that’s the selfist idea of that. He said, and then not too long afterwards, the cart with the books came by, and there was a book—it was a used book—it was called The Seduction of Christianity. This man writes to us, Rob, and he says, “Your book set me free.” Wow! Just saying it now, years and years later, 20-25 years since that book, I mean it just gives me chills. It set him free! And he explained his situation—how he got caught up in this teaching, was not used of the Lord any more, was turning completely to self. But the teaching in that book explaining the Word-faith, how it was a corruption, a distortion, of biblical faith, and he turned back to the Lord.
Now, there was no follow-up to it. I don’t know… The man may be with the Lord right now, I don’t know, but that stands out, of all the letters that we’ve received. I mean, we’ve received literally thousands of letters based on that book.
Rob: Wow! Yes, and that is the impact he had, and that book had on so many people, by just turning them to the Word of God.
In my experiences, Tom, you were a co-author with him. Mostly what I would do is try to set up his meetings in Southern California. We referenced Dave’s humility—when I first started realizing in The Berean Call, and even in the CIB, I think, the predecessor to The Berean Call, they would post Dave’s speaking schedule. And since, initially, before he moved up to Oregon, he had lived in Southern California, I would follow Dave around and go to his speaking engagements here in Southern California.
Well, after he’d moved up north, he’d come down, and he’d very often be speaking at little tiny churches, and he’s such a humble man, he gives the same message when he’s addressing 7,000 people at the Anaheim Convention Center that he gives when he’s addressing 11 people in a little tiny church, and yet I thought it was a shame that more people weren’t hearing the wonderful messages this brother was saying—partly to overcome the misconceptions.
And since I’m involved with Calvary Chapel, that’s where I had my most success with getting him booked at Calvary Chapels, because I would call the churches, and inevitably, as you’ve already referenced, the response would be, “Dave Hunt? He’s pretty negative, isn’t he? I don’t agree with everything he says.”
And it was ironic how that that was so consistently the response. And Dave was never nonplused by it, but we’d get him in, and so often afterward the pastors would just be thrilled; they’d just be excited that this man had gotten their congregations excited about the Word of God.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Again, the myth about Dave: “Oh,” you know, “he’s gotta be this hard-nosed guy,” you know, “humorless, not just a fundamentalist but a legalist,” I mean all of that was… I mean, so wrong. I want to talk about his sense of humor for a bit.
Rob, you know, and part of the problem that Dave had in the last years, he had hip replacements. I want to talk about prior to the hip replacements about the mountain man Dave Hunt. But in his hip replacements, prior to him having that, he could hardly walk, and to see him step up to the pulpit, oftentimes people would have to help him because there was no cartilage left in his hips prior to his surgery.
And he would just get up there and he’d get into the pulpit, and then he would talk about, you know, people noticing that he was struggling physically, and he talked about him being thrown by this horse, and he said, probably against his better judgment, he got on this horse, he had one foot in the stirrup, and as this horse would start to move, up and down, you know, again, he got his foot caught in the stirrup…but you know what happened? The manager of the store came out and pulled the plug on the coin-operated horse! People would just fall out of their pews.
Rob: Yes, and the other one that he often told when he was speaking, he’d say he was speaking at one engagement, and a brother he knew got up and started walking out, and he said, “Hey, where are you going?”
And the man said, “I’m going to get a haircut.”
And Dave said, “Well, you should have thought of that before I started speaking.”
And he said, “I didn’t need a haircut before you started speaking!”
Tom: (Laughing) Yeah, you see, again, these are all things that he would say on himself. And again, he wasn’t one to bring humor except to make a point or to say something about himself.
And Dave could talk. As a matter of fact, we were in a community hall in Hong Kong, and there were about 900 people in the community hall—we had a translator, obviously—and this was one of the greatest experiences of my life with Dave, because of the 900 people—and I had them stand up, I had their picture taken—what I’m talking about is these were people under the age of 35. Wow! That’s never happened in this country that we could bring out so many youth.
But as I said, Dave’s record, time wise, he spoke for two hours and 48 minutes, and—obviously with a translator, it’s going to add something to it—and these young people, they were just hanging on his…every word of the translator, and it was phenomenal! I said, “Dave, I timed you. Two hours and 48 minutes!”
“Oh, no, Tom, no! I couldn’t have gone that long.”
But he did! And the people were blessed by it. So that’s where the haircut joke comes in, because he could go on.
Rob: I actually have that picture, which you gave to me, on the Dave Hunt Facebook page—that’s his background picture.
Tom: Yeah, wow. You know, the other thing about Dave, again, his sense of humor. You’ve had many dinners with him, and if somebody at the dinner table would tell a joke, sometimes I would cringe because once he was finished with the joke, that would put Dave on to the jokes that he remembered. Rob, you know this. He could go on for an hour. You know, he could remember every joke that he’d ever heard, and he could just knock them out, one after another.
Rob: And they always had a purpose.
Tom: Oh, yeah…
Rob: As you say, there’s always a moral to the story.
Tom: Yeah, but also, again, the man’s brilliance—he can remember things (we mentioned this last week), hymns, just on and on and on. Poetry—he wrote a lot of poetry, and this wasn’t just a limerick, okay? These poems went on and on and on.
Certainly, people, things, I just stand in awe of him. Look, we’re all unique. God has a plan for all of us, a purpose for all of us, but to me, there’s never going to be another Dave Hunt. Certainly we are all unique, but Dave was just incredible in so many ways, so many ways.
But he gave all the glory to the Lord—an incredibly humble man.
Rob: He did, and as you say, he often cited the fact that he was growing, as he referenced when he had written The Cult Explosion, he hadn’t really thought about the errors of the Roman Catholic Church to the degree he did when a dozen years later he wrote A Woman Rides the Beast. He realized that he was growing, he had things to learn. You, as an ex-Catholic, could tell him things, and others, and he would research them and he continued to grow, and he was so thorough in his documentation.
Tom: Right. Yeah, that was the thing. In the myth area, people denigrating Dave, I never worried about what he wrote because there could be 600 footnotes at the end of the book demonstrating that he did do his homework. And, you know, although it has been my pleasure—actually, I believe it was my calling—to help Dave do what God had called him to do, certainly, in some areas, you know, I helped him with a little research, but primarily by Dave not having to function in not only the business but in the development of all the different media that we work through at The Berean Call, he didn’t have to do that, so that…
Tom: That gave him time to work at home, to research what he was doing, and then to produce the incredible number of books that he wrote in his lifetime.
Rob: Right. Occasionally, people would ask him when he was speaking, you know, “What about the radio show (unintelligible)?” he’d say, “I have no idea, that’s Tom’s show. He puts me in the studio and asks me questions.”
I mean, he was not an administrator—that wasn’t his calling. And you relieved him of those duties so he could still be the blessing to the body of Christ, but he didn’t have to worry about the minutiae.
Tom: And that was my thrill. Absolutely a thrill, because in that process, he said, “Tom, you’ve got to get out and speak.” “Tom, now you’ve got to…you’re a writer. You know, when I met you, you were a writer when I met you. You’ve got to write.” So his encouragement. It wasn’t like, “Oh, no, Tom, I do this. No, that’s not for you. That’s what I do.” Never, ever, ever anything like that!
As a matter of fact, it was just the opposite. He would have to drag me. I remember the first time I went to speak. Well, Dave had double-booked himself, okay? You know, and as amazing as Dave was, he couldn’t be in two places at once, so that sent me out to stand in for Dave at one of these speaking engagements. And that’s kind of what got the ball rolling, at least, well, probably about 18 years ago or so.
So, I’m a slow learner, but I’m getting there.
Rob, the other thing I wanted to mention about Dave, prior to his hips going bad, I mean, this was a man that I had incredible backpacking trips in the High Sierras above the tree line. People who know me know that I love to fish. Well, guess where that came from? From Dave! He was an expert fly fisherman…
Rob: Although, Tom, in your defense, my kids went fishing with you and Dave, and I believe every one caught their first fish with you, and I think Dave got skunked…
Tom: (Laughing) Right…
Rob: I mean, I don’t want to rub it in, but I think that you were the successful one.
Tom: Yeah, but I also point out—the article for May is going to deal with some of my remembrances of Dave, and so on, but one of the things—was there a rivalry between the two of us? Well, yes, there was. Dave felt that he was the better outdoor cook in our campgrounds when we were up in the High Sierras, and he would cook. I beg to differ with him! Dave never did what I did. I actually baked a birthday cake for my wife who was on a backpacking trip with us. And I said, “Well, Dave, that must settle the issue.”
Well, guess what? It never did settle the issue! (Laughing) But his sense of humor, like I said last week, there are so many remembrances I have of Dave over the years that if I do dip down, or [get] a little sad, there’s always a story that just makes me laugh, or brings a joy, a delight in my heart about this guy.
Rob: Right. He was funny, and he was selfless. I remember when he went to Mexico—I think it was the last time he went, and I’m sure you’ll recall, he’d done all those speaking engagements, and he begged them not to take an offering, because these people had nothing, and they scraped together, but God worked it together at the end when he got an amazingly large offering, there was a man there who had a street evangelism ministry who had absolutely nothing, and he was…he didn’t know what he was going to do, and Dave was able to give him the offering.
But he would just pray about it. If he was asked to speak, he never had a speaking fee. He would just pray about it, and if he felt the Lord would have him speak, he’d go to speak, whether he got an honorarium or not was…it was irrelevant.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave was, you know, there are a lot of books that he would give away of godly men that he respected, and one was George Mueller, and I know from the ministry The Berean Call, as you said, this has been a major part of what I’ve had to do in order for…so that Dave didn’t have to do it. And one of the things financially was that Dave and the board members said, “We’re never going to ask for money.” George Mueller, in his life, always went to God and then men supplied through God’s leading for his ministry. And it’s been the same with The Berean Call. We never ask for an offering. We don’t go there. We’re trusting God for that, and, Rob, you remember Bill MacDonald, he would say…continually, when he was a board member, he would say, “Where God guides, he provides.” And we have lived by that, and we’ve seen God guide and direct on that basis, rather than looking for “filthy lucre.” Not that we don’t need support. We do. But we’ll let God put that on the hearts of people who get our materials, read Dave’s books, you know, and so on.
Rob: And He’s been faithful to do so. God’s provided for the ministry.
One story about Bill MacDonald and Dave, when we would go to the airport, Bill and I were the two board members who’d fly in, and Dave would take us to the airport, and here were these two great men of God, and they were so humble, they’d be discussing some profound issue, like the bodily resurrection, and the fact that the rich man and Lazarus, being in hell, lifted up their eyes, and yet they didn’t have eyes —their eyes were in the grave. What does this mean? They’d be meditating on it, and then they’d say, “Well, what do you think, Rob?”
And it was kind of like, “Are you kidding me? I don’t even under…I’ve never even thought of these things.” They were so far beyond, and yet, they were so humble, they just wanted to hear what another member of the body of Christ thought.
The other thing is, of course, watching Dave individually wash off his grapes, or whatever else he was eating—he was so fastidious and such a health food guy, and then Bill would be plowing down a cheeseburger and fries, and you realized God used both of them.
Tom: Yeah, exactly. Well, we’re just about out of time, Rob, but I really thank you for not just being a board member but really a good friend of mine, and certainly the memories we have with Dave, you know, we’ll be talking about them, you know, till the Lord takes us home. It’s been wonderful.
And I also appreciate you, Rob, because, you know, as a board member, you know this ministry, and you know the legacy of Dave, and you know where we—I say “we” as the other board members, where we want this to continue, how we want it to continue, and the direction we want it to go, and you know, this isn’t anything new. Dave didn’t—it didn’t shock us that Dave went home to be with the Lord. He’d been struggling for years and so, by God’s grace, and by having a godly board—men who have been selected because of their walk with the Lord, and so on, we…you know, I believe we’re going to stay on course. Dave has left us a legacy—he’s left us a treasury of his writings, materials, which we want to get to the next generation, and by God’s grace that’ll happen.
But it’s also going to happen because of board members, who’ve known Dave and know what he…he meant so much to them, but in terms of his leadership and so on, we’re going to go as Dave would want us to go. But more than that, we want to go the way the Lord would have us go. And I think we’re going to do that.
Rob: Amen. And you referenced 2 Timothy earlier. That’s our mandate, and by God’s grace, I don’t know of another ministry like The Berean Call, and God’s raised it up and we need to faithful to Him so he can keep it going.
Tom: Thanks again, Rob. God bless you, brother.
Rob: Thank you, brother.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7, with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of materials to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials, and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, OR, 97708; call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org.
In our next program, Tom will address the topic of “True Discipleship” with special guest Jim McCarthy.
I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us. And we encourage you to search the Scriptures 24/7.