My wife and I had the privilege to gather with the Bob Jones gang (Bob and Beneth Jones, Jim Berg, and Bill Apelian) at an informal fellowship meeting on Saturday, April 19, at the Courtyard Marriott near the Salt Lake City airport.
Bob Jones III is a unique university chancellor. He values time, salutes excellence, loves challenge, pursues godliness, and whips the wicked spirit of the age. Yet allow me also to comment on what stands out in my mind as a quality exemplified by Bob that garners much of my respect. He is wonderfully aware and accessible to choice servants of God in remote places. Just recently, he spoke at the centennial anniversary of a church family shepherded by Wayne Cooper in West Virginia. You can hardly find another place that would compete with being so cloistered in a backwoods hollow. Of course, I have to chuckle; Bob has also stayed with Pastor Gary Robbins, way off the beaten track in Southeastern Wyoming. Definitely, the chancellor is a loyal fighter and supporter for the servant of God beyond the limelight and whom many would overlook. Bob, the dissident, definitely has a knack for creating good friction, emphasizing as highly relevant what much in Evangelicalism considers irrelevant. I am glad that he makes it a high priority to regularly reconnect and join with the faithful band of brothers in the LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) I-15 corridor.
On this Pastor’s/Wives Fellowship Day, we discussed a timely topic—the perils our teenagers face in America.
(1) Bob Jones introduced his session with a biblical question. “Are not these evils come upon our children because our God is not among them” (Deut. 31:17)? Ripping through the dangers of parental hypocrisy, technology, music, and entertainment, Bob quickly presented some key M’s for teen discipleship: make firm, media fast, mission focus, ministry foundation, and magnify faith.
(2) Jim Berg followed suit with explanation on “Why Much Parenting Fails Today.” Zeroing in on biblical sanctification, Jim shared,
Spiritual vitality is the personal relationship with Christ Himself that provides the divine light (the vision of Christ from the Word) and the divine might (the grace of God) to live the Christian life. Christlikeness cannot be formed without this living relationship with Christ any more than branches can bear fruit apart from the vine (John 15). This is the key issue which separates a “West Point” character-based education from a truly Christian education fostering Christlike character.
(3) Beneth Jones sadly shared the theme of troubled girls throughout the land, “Experiencing Ashes Instead of Beauty.” In closing, she urged us all about the importance of rescue work through involvement, inspiration, and incarnation— incarnational ministry that radiates the joy of the Lord.
And last of all, (4) Bill Apelian rattled our cages with the topic, “Public Schools, Pagan Seminaries: Christian Education Is a Matter of Life and Death.” He presented a ten-page document, rehearsing many of the alarming and wicked heart issues taking place in pockets across our country, relying heavily upon the book, The Harsh Truth about Public Schools by Bruce N. Shortt, Chalcedon Foundation, 2004.
I appreciated the sessions, the handouts, the BJU student survey statistics, and the warm fellowship with the Bob Jones gang and all the other pastors and their wives. The gang needs to come back to the LDS I-15 corridor again and again and again in future years. Thanks.
Side Note: Speaking of which, the LDS I-15 corridor, come June 2008, will be celebrating their thirtieth year of allowing blacks into the LDS priesthood. In reminiscing, I celebrated when Bob Jones III on Larry King Live officially announced the news that the University would no longer be enforcing dating rules according to race. Of course, the LDS corridor hierarchy has never admitted the wrongs of their racist activity. I don’t expect them to. But in conversation with LDS friends, I would like to point to them a BJ University statement, not expecting apologies over secluded wrong statements by dead men in the past but admitting plainly that racial segregation in dating was not the best way to safeguard against a worldliness in opposition to Christ.
Brothers and sisters, may God be exalted and mightily glorified as we pursue His way in the West.
|Todd Wood is pastor of Berean Baptist Church (Idaho Falls, ID). He received his B.A. in Missions, M.A. in Theology, and M.Div. from Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC). But more than anything he hungers for the A.I.G. degree affixed to Apelles (Rom. 16:10). He also operates a blog called Heart Issues for LDS.|