Moody Bible graduate walks away
By Skipp Porteous
Fresh out of Moody Bible Institute, Jim Hoyne received his baptism
of fire as a police recruit for the Chicago suburb of Addison, Illinois.
A far cry from his sterile Bible classes at Moody, his beat introduced
him to the seamier side of life. The order of the day included homicide,
rape, and teen suicide.
"What's going on?" the 22-year-old wondered. "Surely God knows what
he's doing, but why is he allowing the devil to do these awful things?"
Jim Hoyne grew up as a Polish Catholic in a middle-class Chicago neighborhood.
He thought he was a good boy - at least as good as the next fellow.
That was until his Bible-thumping aunt entered his life. Claiming
the Scriptures as her authority, she soon set Jim straight about his
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," she raved. "And
the wages of sin is death," she scolded. Her harangue convinced Jim
that he'd better do something about his life - he'd better get right
with God. "For by grace we are saved," she continued, "not through
faith, not by works."
His aunt's confidence in the Bible impressed young Jim. For, while
he might question his aunt, who was he to question the Bible? Soon
after his 12th birthday, Jim asked Jesus to forgive him for all his
nasty sins. Now, thanks be to God, he was on his way to heaven.
Hoyne becamed involved in an independent fundamentalist church which
offered Bible studies, youth groups, Sunday school, sports, and church
camp. Soon the church became the center of Jim's life. In one way
or another, every activity focused on the literal truth of the Bible.
If Jim ever had any doubt that the Bible was to be taken literally,
in that intensive religious environment those doubts all but disappeared.
He was told that the Bible was an accurate, scientific, historical
"Don't accept the Bible allegorically!" he was taught. "It's the word
of God." Somehow, that made sense to Jim, and it certainly eliminated
any gray areas. It was all straightforward, black and white.
Then, Jim's mother became ill. Convinced that God would heal her,
he prayed the prayer of faith. Unknown to Jim, his mother had been
diagnosed as terminally ill with cancer. In 1975, two days after Christmas,
Jim watched his mother die. His faith, however, remained almost unshaken.
"God has a plan in this," he reasoned. And someday he and his mom
would rejoin in heaven. Somewhere in the back of his mind, though,
doubt began to undermine his biblical foundation.
From his youth, Jim always wanted to be a cop, and the strong influence
of the church didn't dissuade him from wanting to fulfill this ambition.
However, the Bible was extremely important to him.
"I had already planned to become a police officer," he said, "but
wanted a strong, biblical foundation in my life." He realized he could
study God's word in depth and still be a cop.
Upon graduating from high school, Jim enrolled at Moody Bible Institute
in Chicago, the fundamentalist school founded by the late evangelist
D.L. Moody. Paradoxically, as others who have attended such schools
have reported, the school created almost as much doubt as it did faith.
Hoyne studied the Bible, missions, apologetics, hermeneutics, eschatology,
and other odd-sounding (to the uninitiated) courses. In-depth study
of Bible history, though, began to challenge his faith.
"There were a lot of myths and legends that predated biblical stories,"
he said, "such as the Babylonian verison of the Flood and the story
"So, whose story was first, and were they all just myths?" he wondered.
Of course, the instructors at Moody proclaimed the infallibility of
the Bible's version of these events. Hoyne learned, however, that
99 percent of academia rejected the validity of the stories. How do
we know the Bible's is God's word? "The Bible tells us so!" he was
As Hoyne applied logic and reason to his long-held beliefs, more doubts
arose over the validity of those beliefs. What about salvation? Throughout
the world, many people had never heard the Gospel, never had a chance
to accept Christ. The apostle Paul argued that these folks were helplessly
lost, and that the disbelief of one generation could even condemn
the next generation to hell.
Then there were stories of divinely inspired violence in the Old Testament
- in Joshua, Judges, and first and second Kings. Through direct orders
from God, whole nations or tribes were wiped out by the Israelites.
As the Chosen People conquered the promised land of Canaan, men, women
and children were slaughtered.
"This was a loving Jehovah God?" Jim wondered aloud. "And the role
of women, and the way they were treated in the Bible, bothered me,"
he added. "These issues and many more contradicted good sense, fairness,
compassion, and reality."
Hoyne, however, was taught that doubts came from Satan, the "father
of lies." So Jim, wrestled with his doubts, he questioned God, he
tried to accept by blind faith what he couldn't understand.
In 1982, Jim Hoyne graduated from Moody Bible Institute. He was senior
After his initiation into the real world, Hoyne settled down and began
to enjoy his role as a police officer. As a Bible-believing Christian,
though, his faith was crumbling. Soon, tired of religious pressure
from his church, family, and friends, and wanting to make some spiritual
decisions on his own, Hoyne left all behind and moved to Colorado.
A thousand miles from home, he started to see Christian fundamentalist
for what it really is - a black and white system in a very gray world.
It is a system with no checks and balances except for God's word.
Of course, the Bible is interpreted differently by every group and
sect that comes along.
Upon arriving in Colorado, Hoyne landed a job as a deputy for the
Larimer County Sherriff's Department. Currently living in Fort Collins,
a city of 100,000, he's happily married with one child. An eight-year
police veteran, Jim is now an officer with the Fort Collins Police
When not on the beat or at home with his family, Jim attends classes
to complete a bachelors degree in religious studies. Yes, he's still
a religious person, but his horizons have expanded.
"Don't throw out the baby with the bath water," Hoyne implores. "Don't
deny the spiritual aspect of your life." For those who are searching
for truth, he recommends _The_Power_of_Myth_ by Joseph Campbell and
Bill Moyers, a book that helped him find spiritual dimension without
the false constrictions of man-made doctrine.
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