A First-Timer Goes to Hear John Hamblin

Below are the impressions of a first-time revival-goer who went to hear John Hamblin, fundy evangelist extraordinaire.

john hamblin

My personal take on my first IFB revival service:

To give a bit of background, I attended a private Christian school for 13 years. They claimed non-denominational, each to their own in their private church to pick what you are. My home life was more Baptist than anything, but really what the Bible says was it. We attended church every Sunday and pretty much left it there. In church, you sang the songs and you were quiet when the pastor starting preaching. No showing off, no talking from the congregation and no drawing attention to yourself. The pastor was pretty even-toned the entire service. My parents both grew up in a Baptist church but when the church started changing, they realized they didn’t believe the direction of the church, so they left and replanted in another church. Today, my husband and I attend church but my parents don’t even have a home church.

Now that you have a little background, here are my thoughts on Dr. Hamblin’s service. I walked in wearing jean capris and a dress shirt, my tattoo on my foot showing, my nose piercing in, my multiple ear piercings in and my hair in two tones. I was not distasteful to the average person but from what I was told, I know I was out of place at an IFB church. But when I was greeted at the front door, they were all extremely nice. As the organist starting playing, I thought the volume was just a bit loud but thought it was just the sound system. When we started singing it was pretty normal to me. We sang two songs and continued on with the service. There was special music which was also pretty normal to me. Next was Dr. Hamblin’s sermon. He started in the book of Jude. We read verse 22, and his main focus was on the later part, “making a difference.” My first thought was, ‘ok where is this going?’ As he continued, his voice started escalating. He then told us a story about the US army and Germany. By this time, he is talking so loud I really can’t understand him; I was straining just to stay with him. The only thing I got from the story was, say “Nuts!” Not too sure what this story had to do with his sermon. Next thing I remember is that he outlined some of the previous verses. At this point I am questioning to myself if what he is saying is really true. Was this really the actual content of what this passage was about? I didn’t have the ability to listen to him and also read the chapter, but that was the first thing I was going to do when I got home. As he continued, his volume remained at a yell. My head was starting to hurt. I felt as if my ears were starting to ring. It was like I was at a rock concert. I have never been to one, but this is what I would imagine my ears would feel like. I tried so hard to push this feeling aside and pay attention.

He continued to tell us how to be a “difference maker.” First, a difference maker knows how to contend. He referenced verse three and also Luke 18:8. I don’t really remember what this point was about. I couldn’t keep track.

His second point was a difference maker knows how to contact. His reference was verse 20 which stated we need to be in the Holy Spirit, to pray in the Holy Spirit. I agreed with that until he stated that if we would just pray in the Holy Spirit more than 5% of our prayers would be answered. I had to dwell on this for a second. He was telling me that because I don’t pray earnestly enough and I don’t pray in the Holy Spirit, that is the reason my prayers aren’t answered?! Whatever happened to maybe that it isn’t in God’s will? As humans we don’t want to hurt, we don’t want trials, but maybe that is what we need. God’s way is not always our way. Jesus prayed it the garden for hours before he was crucified. He knew what was going to happen but he didn’t want it to happen. He begged, cried, and bled for this not to happen, but it still did. Are you telling me that the son of God wasn’t praying in the Spirit? If anyone can pray in the Spirit, I know it would be him. But I guess according to Dr. Hamblin he was not.

So I came back to the sermon and realized I didn’t agree with that, but I continued to listen. He stated that when you pray in the Holy Spirit you get Power (Acts 4:31), Perception (Acts 4:34), and Perseverance, I don’t catch the book reference. He told lots more stories than he actually used the Bible. He would give us the references but not even refer to them. Like he expected us to know it or just believe him. One of his stories was about his aunt and uncle that he prayed for their salvation for 30 years. They were not Christians but one day they came to one of his revival services and were saved. My first thought was, ‘well for those other 20 plus years, did you not pray in the Spirit? It took God that long?’ My second thought was as he was yelling at the camera, (this church broadcasts services over the Internet) ‘why in the world are you putting on a show?’ You are making this about how many people you can point out. You are making this about how loud you can get, almost to “yell” the Bible into us? This is where I understand my Pastor when he says he doesn’t want to make a show when he is on the stage.

His last point was that a difference maker knows how to convert. His reference was Jude verse 23. His main emphasis on this point was that if you don’t carry a tract in your pocket that you are basically not allowed to speak to him about spiritual things. It disgusted him that pastors would come alongside another pastor who wasn’t a fundamentalist, take a picture with him and say he is so great. But yet one of his main stories for this point was that on one of his plane rides he met a famous rapper. He didn’t know at first who he was until he asked. Then he gave him a tract. This rapper accepted the tract so nicely and even asked to be prayed for. Dr. Hamblin put his arm around this rapper, had their picture taken and up on Twitter it went. He said his phone was blowing up before he even hit his gate. Now this was awesome. Or was it really? He won’t put his arm around another pastor that does share the same exact beliefs but yet will put his arm around a rapper whose number one song is “God Forgives but I Don’t”. I’m a little confused. Then he went on to state that if you don’t carry a tract in your pocket that you must not be a true Christian. Where in the Bible is this ever stated?! A piece of paper doesn’t affirm my salvation. A piece of paper separates you from me?! I don’t think so. But, man, did Dr. Hamblin knock this point home. Even to the point that the ushers have to have a tract in their pocket to collect his money. Yet again, where does it state in the Bible that your salvation and worth is held by a piece of paper? I do agree that a tract can be a great tool to witness but it is not a necessity.

He went on to talk about an obituary that he read that morning. It was about a fashion designer that had recently passed. Her story was how her husband had an orange farm and she would sell orange juice. The juice would splash on her dress and stain, so she bought colorful fabrics to camouflage the stains. All the ladies loved the dresses and before long they were selling more dresses than oranges. Then Dr. Hamblin got that dig in. The one about how girls shouldn’t be wearing pants. Remember, I am in jean capris. Well, as I sat there with close friends one felt that I needed a bigger dig and gave me the old pat on the shoulder… Oh gee, thanks! But Dr. Hamblin continued with his point, that he didn’t want his obituary to state that he was known for temporal things, but of things that are eternal. Agreed! Wonderful! But yet again what does that piece of paper do that your mouth can’t? Why does that set you apart from me (the Sunday school teacher that has a class of 6-8 year olds who just told me the exact gospel, word for word, meaning for meaning)? I can’t change their hearts but I can teach them the truth. I have given them more than a piece of paper has. I am just as worried for their eternal state just like you. But I guess since I don’t carry a tract in my pocket, I am not qualified to teach these kids the core of our faith. And even worse that I taught them in PANTS!! Now I’m a true sinner. Because, yet again, where is that in the Bible?! I asked about the pants reference in the car on the way home. The explanation that I received was that the IFB churches believe that if a woman wears pants that she is trying to be a man. My question was ‘didn’t men wear dresses first?’ But I guess this is an oversight?! I guess one of many.

They closed the service with a long head-bowing and an alter call. I wasn’t sure when I was supposed to be bowing my head or looking up. As our heads are bowed he goes on a rant about March Madness. Then he starts alluding that basketball isn’t the real March Madness. I can say I’m still lost on that point. We closed the sermon with one last song.

After I got home, I opened my Bible to study what he had said. I found that the few scripture passages he used were taken out of context. The book of Jude was written to the church to warn against the apostates within the church. These apostates were already taking root in the church and twisting the word of God. Not sure how that corresponded with “making a difference” to the outsiders, like Dr. Hamblin was stating. And his references in Acts and in Luke were out of context also. As I read the entire passage, trying to understand what he was talking about, I could only say that, to me, it made his whole sermon null and void. If you can’t keep in the context of what the Bible is saying than you yourself are twisting God’s words, making you an apostate. I can say, yes, Dr. Hamblin, you made some good points about how we need to pray earnestly in the Spirit and, yes, we are called to witness but that is pretty much where I stopped agreeing with you.

While the people that I came in contact with were extremely nice and welcoming, I have to say that I have no desire to have the Bible preached to me out of context or even yelled at me. That stirs nothing in my soul.

For more thoughts you can check out a sermon summary and further thoughts by our very own C_Fresh.

85 thoughts on “A First-Timer Goes to Hear John Hamblin”

      1. Hey,
        You wanna go to SOTL with me this year? 😉

        Enjoyed the post. Funny how I could empathize with your thoughts. The whole rapid fire, high-volume preaching style where your intake is overwhelmed and eventually you quit trying to process and just go into passive receptor mode and will sort it out later. A massive amount of error and dissimformation have been delivered to unsuspecting sheeple that way.

        Godspeed on your detoxing. 😯 😆

        1. I should make sure to clarify that the write-up on this page was done by a friend of mine who had never been to a Fundy service; I just edited it. I wrote the sermon outline (which involved listening to the audio for an additional three hours for accuracy) and the second link which included some of my own thoughts. I thought an outsider’s perspective would be a nice touch so I’m glad she was willing to provide it.

          I was actually inspired by your Sword Conference reports, Don.

        2. Based on the sermon summary, I estimate that “Dr.” John Hamblin’s 1.5-hour sermon includes about 80 minutes on how great “Dr.” John Hamblin is, and 10 minutes on everything else.

  1. I listened to the “message” when it was first posted online … John did not even bother to deal with COMPASSION which is the IMMEDIATE context! You know why? Because CONtend, CONverse, and CONvert do not match COMpassion. John is a con man. I have known him for almost 30 yrs.

    1. The fact that he’s still not on a first-name basis with “Mrs. Hamblin” makes me wonder
      (a.) How long have they known each other? and
      (b.) What does she call him?

      1. @BigGary; this isn’t meant as a personal attack on you, but on comments I see that are like yours.

        These kind of comments here annoy me; with all the legitimate things to point out as flaws, why go after nothing? Many men do not give out their wife’s first name, and refer to her as Mrs. . Assuming that they are not on a first name basis because of this is just silly. What *IS* frightening is that he calls first-time hearers “fresh meat to chew on”.

        1. Maybe it’s not weird in your neck of the woods; it is in mine.
          At least he isn’t making jokes about how ugly his wife was while pregnant, they way Phil Kidd does.

        2. GuiltRidden said, “Many men do not give out their wife’s first name, and refer to her as Mrs. .”

          Many? Maybe 80 year old married couples in 1953 sit com repeats, but I don’t know about “many”

        3. It’s probably not so common anymore, but I’ve heard many men not give out their wife’s first name when talking to a group of people that don’t know them. Sometimes, they say “I was talking with my wife”, but I’ve certainly heard “I was talking with Mrs LastName”.

    1. So he deliberately gets to church late so that he won’t have to chat with the people he plans to spend an hour shouting at? And he calls them “kooks”?

      His listeners must really sense the love of God…

  2. Granted I never have been a part of a fundy church, my background is mostly Southern Baptist. Reading this blog and looking back, one or two of those churches I’ve been to may have had some “fundyish” tendencies. Okay, enough about me.

    I went and checked this guy’s twitter feed and he gives a shout out to Phil Kidd last weekend. If that’s the company you keep, that just screams “I cannot be taken seriously”

    Here’s a link to a picture with his new rapper friend: https://twitter.com/DrJohnNHamblin/status/226725330155630593

    1. Just a guess, but–flying first class there Rev. Dr. Hamblin? I’m thinking a rapper on tour of his physical size isn’t back in cattle class.

      I’ll grant maybe it was an upgrade from frequent flyer miles or some other exceptional situation (which I would probably take advantage of too), but as a minister of the Gospel myself, I sure can’t afford it.

      1. When he talked about it in his sermon he said they met at the security checkpoint. Hamblin flies a lot and so he’s on that pre-screened list that lets him take the express lane. Rick Ross was also going through it apparently.

  3. Excellent summary, very interesting…thank you for sharing. You raise some good questions, but the fundies always have answers. (sort of) It’s been so long since I’ve been in a shoutin’ sermon about women wearing pants that this made me miss it in a very depressing sort of way…

  4. Thank you for reminding me of a sermon style I don’t miss, after years of thinking it was just grand.
    Maybe that’s why I don’t like Kool-Aid in any form.

      1. Oh, so an unaccredited college?

        “According to the US Department of Education, unaccredited degrees and credits might not be acceptable to employers or other institutions, and use of degree titles may be restricted or illegal in some jurisdictions.”

        Would like to find out more about the illegal use of degree titles…

    1. I have heard him preach a couple times at a Bible Conference. Was not impressed. He strikes me as a pompous, proud and arrogant jerk. It comes across in his preaching as well.

  5. It’s too bad preachers like Hamblin would never acknowledge that their preaching is not what they think it is. They are proud that they preach so hard people get up and leave.

    Thanks to C Fresh and our other contributer for toughing this out and reporting back.

  6. Dumb question: What’s with all the alliteration? If your message doesn’t contain alliteration (like Power, Perception, yahdayahda), does that mean you haven’t Right;ly Divide the Word? :mrgreen:

    1. What I learned at Fundy U:

      WHY I ALLITERATE:

      I. Alliteration is Appropriate.
      a. in sermons
      b. in songs
      c. in soulwinning

      II. Alliteration is Applicable.
      a. to the preacher
      b. to the pew sitter
      c. to the prayer warrior

      III. Alliteration is Advantageous.
      a. Helps aid memory.
      b. Helps aim meaning
      c. Helps air message

      Conclusion:
      Will you cease trying to be relevant and come back to the old paths, the good way, the way Paul preached? Will you alliterate?

      Seriously, all joking aside, I had classes at Fundy U where I was taught to alliterate. I had to turn in sermon outlines to be graded. I can now alliterate with the best of them.
      That was four years well-spent. 🙄

  7. “when I was greeted at the front door, they were all extremely nice.”

    Fundies are usually kind to visitors. And they know who the visitors are, because they wear pants.

  8. I need to ask my mother-in-law, who attends an IFB church about the experiment that yielded a 95% failure rate on “answered prayer”. Was there a control group? How did they gauge the results? How did “dr” Hamblin get all the IFB church members in the world to participate?

    Or….. Hey, I think he just pulled that number out of his ass!

    1. If anyone ever did do such an experiment, there are lots of questions about how they quantified things like “prayer” and “answered.”

      For example, how many people praying for something how many times would you count as an unanswered prayer? And would that count as one prayer, or more than one (if someone prayed it more than once, or if more than one person prayed it)? And how long do you wait before you decide the prayer is unanswered? What do you count as a successfully obtained object of prayer?

      But none of that is as disturbing as his claim that you have to pray in exactly the right way, or it won’t work. He seems to think a prayer is some kind of magic spell– get one syllable wrong and the magic won’t happen.

      1. Well said! You could go back a few months ago to the ‘Unbelievable’ podcast, where the host, Justin Bryerly (sp?) conducted the “Atheist Prayer Experiment”, wherein the participants (all professing atheists or agnostics) committed to praying once a day for a month, and reporting the ‘results’.

        (Spoiler Alert!) The reports from those participating were decidedly ambiguous and uncertain to say the least. As you point out so well, the variables and lack of a control group excludes scientific method, and it becomes somewhat an exercise in futility.

        Having said that, (excuse the Seinfeld catchphrase) there were a handful of participants that gained some benefit from the practice. So, although the results, by virtue of God’s Sovereignty, can’t be measured objectively (like this pompous prevaricator’s “percentage” proposes), “answers to prayer” always come, don’t they? The difficulty we ofttimes have is in accepting them…

        I believe I’m 87% right in this matter… 😉

  9. I, too, went through a first-time experience with John Hamblin last year.

    Like C_Fresh’s friend, the things that I remember, after some time away were:

    – The prayer that was always the same; I heard the “fresh, warm bread from heaven” and “hide me behind my calling” phrases and many others.

    – The preaching that was always alliterated; usually it went as follows:
    Point 1: The C of P
    Point 2: The C of P
    subpoint 1: The D of W
    subpoint 2: The D of W
    subpoint 3: The D of W
    Point 3: The C of P

    Where C, P, D, and W can be any constant. If he spent as much time studying the Bible as he does making up alliteration, there may have been some much better messages preached.

    – The points that were always non-Biblical. Most of his messages I heard were really ripping a phrase from the Bible and using it as a wobbly pole to support a tent of his own opinions.

    – The presence of amiable anecdotes (stories) did occur a lot, but they didn’t bother me as much because I’m well used to hearing fundamental preacher tell stories instead of expounding the Scripture.

    (Note: I alliterated the main points someone like he did, but I didn’t have subpoints)

  10. My Fundy church growing up would have this guy in all the time to preach…. before he was a “BIG NAME” in the fundy circles. All of his sermons were extremely monotonous. Always “stand with me while we read the word of God” when reading the text scripture. Always the EXACT SAME OPENING PRAYER! “…place a hedge around this church so the devil and his angels…In Jesus name (overly long pause)… and for His sake, AMEN!” Always 3 alliterated points. Always the same “every head bowed, every eye closed” invitation.

    Maybe he has changed in the last 10 years. But like most fundies… Im guessing not.

    This brings back a lot of memories.

  11. I was going to make a remark on the pic but then I saw Darrell’s hover text and realized he beat me to it.
    It does look like he’s trying to “squeek” one out and hoping it’s not solid. 😯

  12. It’s funny how he often has a go at Calvinism. On Twitter, he described the opening services of Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle as #oldpaths (A favourite phrase in his circles)

    18th March 2012 RT @DrJohnNHamblin: Today…in 1861 the Metropolitan Tabernacle was opened in London. #oldpaths

    Unfortunately for this #Calvinism-is-heresy” drone, the opening night of the same included an exposition of the 5 points: is.gd/DjdnEF 😀

  13. Anyone that has the stomach to sit through an entire sermon like that should get an award. I grew up in the GARB and still can’t stand to go back to the church I grew up in…its one long facepalm.

    Quite a few years ago, my husband and I visited a church that my grandfather had pastored for many years. My Aunt and Uncle were there as the missionaries of the week and we went to see them. We both decided to wear shorts, which wasn’t uncommon for us to do on a summer Sunday. My very fundy, IFB Uncle was preaching and somehow managed to get in the comment “Come on people, women used to not even wear pants to church!” We of course sat in the pew giggling like children because we knew we’d hear something like that, but never expected it from the pulpit 😈

      1. Ha! He did have a thing for a covered head…made his wife and daughters wear “head coverings” to church for years. He seems to have changed his theology on that one though…that or having women in his church cover their heads was making the numbers go down.

  14. WOW 😯 😯

    How is it that every self-proclaimed to be famous fundy evangelist sits next to a famous rapper on a plane and hands him a tract?……and is loved and repected by the rapper 💡

    1. Who says the rapper loves and respects the guy?
      The fact that the rapper is polite enough not to punch the pest in face doesn’t mean he’s the preacher’s #1 fan.

  15. John has prayed the same prayer (with very few deviations) for over 30 years. He USED to move his body in the form of a square the entire time he prayed – hands on pulpit – come forward with upper body – move upper body right – then back – then left – then back forward. Repeat. LOL

  16. This guy would come to my (former) church every year, and still does. Same prayer every sermon, every year. I’m sure some preachers do that, but I guess I’m used to different prayers each time. He preaches like Shelton Smith..all about their pet standards and preferences, and little else.

  17. The first time I heard this guy I realized that he was trying to trying to sound just like Dr. Malone (his idol). Now that Tom Malone is dead and gone I see that he doesn’t sound so much like him anymore. I guess he found another person to emulate. I have always thought this guy was a fake from day one. He actually preached at Tom Malone’s wife’s funeral. My husband and I were appalled when he preached from Genesis 1:16…”then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” Yep…Tom Malone was the great light and his wife was the lesser light.

  18. I too was in attendance for this sermon. I grew up in Fundamentalism and left on my 18th birthday. I haven’t been back in 7 years. I picked up some pamphlets, cds, and books from Hamblins table on a friends dime, contingent upon my writing a rebuttal to each insane piece of literature. It has proved far more annoying, depressing,and exhausting, and yet, more productive than I’d anticipated. Fresh — your additional comments were refreshing to read.

  19. Thank you, Anna Shirley, for drawing my attention to this post.

    The insights on “Dr” Hamblin’s form of false teaching is refreshing. The C Fresh link is an excellent commentary on fundamentalism’s spiritual bankruptcy.

    My former fundy facade and the likes of my former fundy CEO is a clear demonstration of this insanity, though not nearly as obvious as Hamblin and false prophets like him within fundamentalism.

    B.R.O.

  20. So Let me get this straight…. In this article about your first experience with Dr. Hamblin… You were already judging when you walked in the door that the organ was too loud??? ROFL Well, let me tell ya, Sis, (if you are even a real person…sounds made-up to me) if you already were looking for something wrong when you walked in, the preacher -whom I have heard on a few separate occasions- could have read the Bible for 30 minutes and you would be on here complaining about the monotony of the reading. Oh… and you have tattoos, two-toned-hair, and piercings, and haven’t been to a rock concert in your life??? RIIIGHT… LOL! This article was so made up, and if you can’t deduct that from reading, you need to further your study in common sense. 🙂

    1. Ah, I was cleaning my computer files today and found my notes related to this wonderful experience!

      I can assure you that she and I both exist. I’m amused by people who live in fantasy worlds where people who don’t agree with them must not be actual people. Though if you do ever return and see this, I would be curious just why you think she doesn’t exist.

      Note: the video link I included in my sermon notes no longer works but, as of today, the audio can still be found here: http://libcphiladelphia.sermon.net/main/main/8062263

    2. Haha, well, I also was at this service and I know C-Fresh and the lady who wrote the article. And (shockingly!) despite her tattoo on her foot and a few piercings (which sound more dramatic than they actually are) she’s quite a sweet and godly lady. I grew up in the IFB, and this service was typical IFB fanfare … after being in a church for the last few years where my pastor labors to preach biblical, contextually accurate, spirit-led sermons, this type of preaching leaves me so dumbfounded that it’s truly difficult to articulate the extent of the fallacies.

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