Beale on Broader Evangelicalism

" ...let’s just zero in on the most significant problem with Dr. Beale’s taxonomy—that there are only two groups in our day, Fundamentalism and Broad Evangelicalism" - Doran

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Joel Shaffer's picture

Have I captured everything?

No. You forgot the comparison between God's image-bearers who have been redeemed by Christ and the disobedient dog in how they both push the limits to see how far they can go in "sliding" towards danger to illustrate the slippery slope. 

Steve Davis's picture

T Howard wrote:

So, to recap, BJU is on the Stone Mountain slippery slope to compromise and downgrade because of the following:

.............

Have I captured everything?

Now, Brothers, I've written some of this in jest. But, I'm honestly struggling with what the real, substantive issue is with BJU. I'm a PCC grad, so maybe I just don't get it.

Since we're jesting. My lame attempt at humor. It's all I have left after reading comments. 

A dancing bear,
Men with beards;
A sprinkle of RC,
Helping children in poverty.

BJU ain't what it used to be,
Compromise is all I see; 
Demand more separation.
Give my concerns legitimization.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

When we decide a negative, secretive, threat/danger-oriented conclusion ahead of time then creatively connect the dots to "prove" it (often inventing some of the 'dots' themselves) we're engaging in conspiracy theory thinking. Not that every case of creative dot connecting is a fully blown "conspiracy theory," but the thinking is sloppy, emotion-driven rather than fact-driven, and reveals more about ourselves than our targets.

Just as there wasn't a commie behind every bush in the 50's, there really wasn't a neoevangelical or pseudofundamentalist behind every bush in the 80s and 90s. Every change, even every "compromise," isn't proof that something sinister and disastrous is happening. In fact, not changing at all is proof of death, because the conditions around are certainly changing. The trick is to change in the right ways to thrive biblically in the environment we're in now. That kind of changing and adapting is difficult and messy and zero of us get it right all the time. Zero.

We should dial down the judgmentalism and suspicion in regards to how others are making their effort and focus and getting it right as best we can ourselves. Not changing at all is certainly not the answer.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

Looked through the BJU store to see if their dancing bears resembled those of the Grateful Dead (they don't IMO), and found a "pop the cork" women's t-shirt.  So I'm guessing either things really are a-changing at BJU....well, either that, or some people in marketing are so isolated from the world at large, that they don't realize what "pop the cork" refers to.  Given that BJU's President likes to sing a song that includes lines about killing revenuers and a seriously non-approved date ("Rocky Top"), maybe things are changing after all....

Seriously, the "dancing bear" is actually in a pugilistic (boxing/fighting) pose.  Honestly, some of you guys need to get out more!  That's a standard way ferocious animals have been portrayed on the insignia of noble families for centuries.  Here's one from merry old England, for example.  We might debate how meaningful it is for BJU to use that kind of image, and whether the fighting pose is too much of Fairhaven for our taste, but let's remember the context from which it's drawn.

And a serious side note; Wally, the portion of unbelieving volunteers at Graham crusades was almost certainly a minority.  It is therefore unreasonable to give them the blame for the atrocious retention rates there.  As Deming liked to say, "Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.", and to executives at Ford (apocryphal but representative of his thinking) "85% of your quality problems are in this room." 

It was that follow-up plan you say you researched that was at fault, not the fact that they allowed Catholics and members of liberal churches to try to execute it.  And that, not secondary separation, is the primary reason I'd counsel believers not to partner with crusades like Graham's.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

Of course the problem is not one single soccer game which BJU had with Furman. The problem is

1. That game WAS a change.

And?  Are changes evil?  They've dramatically shrunk the physical footprint of the library since I was there.  Is that evil? 

2. The BJU administration explicitly stated that it would not lead to other changes, yet that is exactly what happened.

Should BJU refuse to change until they get a plurality of votes from their constituency, a portion of which are so opposed to BJU that they would only vote to close the school?  

3. Once the taste for intercollegiate sports began, people wanted more.

I'm not sure what the issue is here other than "I don't like it".  There's merits and detriments for having intercollegiate sports.  I would hope that BJU - an organizations notorious for its resistance to change - would be able to assess the outcomes better than you or I would from the safety of our keyboards, hundreds of miles away from the boots on the ground.

4. BJU saw intercollegiate sports as one way to increase a declining enrollment and help produce unity on campus (Strange, I thought Christ was what brought unity to a Christian school).

And the theological objection to combating declining enrollment and producing unity is...what, exactly?  That it would be better to close the school?  Is there a real theological issue here?

5. BJU began a major fundraising campaign to finance intercollegiate sports, yet the school was also laying off staff & faculty. 

Well, clearly it would be better to not fundraise and lay off everybody!

Wally, BJU is primarily a religious business.  They have to make enough money so that they can continue to keep the business running.  BJU isn't purely profit-driven, but that is the reality of running an educational institution.  It means that some programs that aren't pulling their weight will need to be eliminated and yes, people will lose their jobs.  I've hired, fired, and transitioned staff for a significant portion of my career.  It's hard, and I have it harder than some colleagues because I do weigh the moral/spiritual consequences of personnel decisions.  

Until I see something more substantial for BJU's perceived theological drift, I'm not buying it.  Anyone here is free to post issues of actual substance but until then this is bordering on gossip and slander. 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don Johnson wrote:

Well, they did replace the lamp with the dancing bear in the University Crest, so there is that.

Not sure why Drupal doesn't show these inline any longer, but the links do work.

University Logo still has the lamp:

University Crest when Don and I were at BJU (note the lamp on the right, and the BJU at the bottom):

New University Crest (with bear added, BJU removed but lamp still present):

While there might be some things to take issue with, I don't think the crest is one of those.

Dave Barnhart

T Howard's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Looked through the BJU store to see if their dancing bears resembled those of the Grateful Dead (they don't IMO), and found a "pop the cork" women's t-shirt.  So I'm guessing either things really are a-changing at BJU....well, either that, or some people in marketing are so isolated from the world at large, that they don't realize what "pop the cork" refers to.

 

O Bert, I fear you have just unleashed a whirlwind.

Ron Bean's picture

I saw a billboard in Greenville SC that advertised "Greenville's Premier Christian University" (or words to that effect). It was for North Greenville University! Today BJU is simply a small college with less than 3000 students and, while still offering a solid liberal arts education with a distinctive Christian world view,  is scarcely a blip on the evangelical spectrum. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jay's picture

Looked through the BJU store to see if their dancing bears resembled those of the Grateful Dead (they don't IMO), and found a "pop the cork(link is external)" women's t-shirt.  So I'm guessing either things really are a-changing at BJU....well, either that, or some people in marketing are so isolated from the world at large, that they don't realize what "pop the cork" refers to.

Or maybe most of us are "innocent concerning evil" and don't know (or want to know) how the world uses that phrase.  I know I don't.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Don Johnson's picture

dcbii wrote:

 

Don Johnson wrote:

 

Well, they did replace the lamp with the dancing bear in the University Crest, so there is that.

 

 

Not sure why Drupal doesn't show these inline any longer, but the links do work.

University Logo still has the lamp:

 

University Crest when Don and I were at BJU (note the lamp on the right, and the BJU at the bottom):

 

New University Crest (with bear added, BJU removed but lamp still present):

 

While there might be some things to take issue with, I don't think the crest is one of those.

 

its a joke, Dave!

Although it represents the addition of the intercollegiate sports, which I despise 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

"Pop the cork" is an extremely common phrase meaning to open a bottle of wine, especially a bottle of sparkling wine in celebration.  Transitively, it can mean to start to celebrate, and if you watch the news or read the papers, you'll hear the phrase often when a politician wins an election or a team wins a championship.   

No doubt there are other, vulgar/vile Urban Dictionary kind of uses for the phrase, but I just thought that it was ironic that BJU would be selling a shirt whose name refers to opening a bottle of wine.  Nobody can know everything on Urban Dictionary, but it is appropriate for even fundamentalists to know and understand the meanings of phrases like "pop the cork", especially given its common use and the reality that there are not too many other uses for cork in the world.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Craig Toliver's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
intercollegiate sports, which I despise 

Can you admit - it's a preference thing?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don Johnson wrote:

Although it represents the addition of the intercollegiate sports, which I despise 

I wasn't 100% sure whether or not you were joking, but I had fun looking up the logo and crest.

I don't really care for the whole emphasis on the Bruins (which started up while my kids were there) either.  I'm not actually opposed in principle (after all, in the *very* early days of the university, they also participated in intercollegiate sports) to the idea of a sports team.  For me, it's more that I feel that the BJU implementation of the Bruins draws away emphasis (and funding) from other parts of the university that I found more valuable.

I chalk this up to a change I don't particularly like, but not one that I think is any kind of slide towards liberalism.  It's pretty obvious to me and most others that they thought this was one of the ways to keep up prospective student interest so the university didn't go under.  To be honest, looking at this 36 years after my last year there as a student, if the Bruins had existed in '81, it wouldn't have stopped me from choosing the school or had me thinking they were not a school whose beliefs I could get behind.

(As an aside, I recently had to get my college ring replaced after losing it.  I guess it would encourage you to know that the crest on the replacement ring is the one that was used while I was there -- i.e. there is no bear on it!)  Smile

 

Dave Barnhart

Don Johnson's picture

Craig Toliver wrote:

 

Don Johnson wrote:
intercollegiate sports, which I despise 

 

 

 

Can you admit - it's a preference thing?

on one level it is, but it was a huge mistake and philosophy shift.

it isn't the main problem, especially with reference to the Beale quote, but it is still a problem 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson's picture

AndyE wrote:

I thought the bear was a boxing bear and represented fighting fundamentalism, but now I'm not so sure....

good one! (You must be a dad, eh?)

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

JohnS's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

John: My parenthetical comment is entirely fair because defenders of BJU's involvement in intercollegiate sports have told me that unity is one of the reasons for beginning that type of sports at BJU, and a member of the administration told me that many alumni have expressed the concern that sports seem to be more important than Christ, and that impression is coming from somewhere. Can a school have sports and also emphasize Christ? Of course. But in daily reality among students, what are they really unified by and excited by? The BJU Bookstore is full of Bruins material. Difficult to find a piece of clothing without the Bruins mascot. That is the concern.

Wally, it is not fair to characterize the unity question as have only a single answer.  As I mentioned by way of example and I have not seen an actual answer to, can a group of people, especially followers of Christ, have unity based in more than one shared value?  Surely Christ is our ultimate and eternal Point of unity, but that does not preclude other, even temporal shared values as a point unity, does it?

So I stand by the point that to characterize BJU (or any other institution) as being allowed only one point of unity, Christ on the one hand or something else on the other, is unfair.

josh p's picture

Some of us are not making any kind of slippery slope argument. Tom you seem not to recognize that. I am not claiming that BJU is on some kind of slippery slope. I'm not convinced about the redaction criticism because it hasn't been argued substantively here. I have no idea what a Bruin is. No idea what the bear/crest thing is all about.
 

It just seems pretty obvious to me that a school that has been known as the fundamentalist school (especially to non-fundamentalists) partnering with the ministry that was the most recognized new-evangelical ministry is pretty noteworthy. 

T Howard's picture

josh p wrote:

Some of us are not making any kind of slippery slope argument. Tom you seem not to recognize that. I am not claiming that BJU is on some kind of slippery slope. I'm not convinced about the redaction criticism because it hasn't been argued substantively here. I have no idea what a Bruin is. No idea what the bear/crest thing is all about.
 

It just seems pretty obvious to me that a school that has been known as the fundamentalist school (especially to non-fundamentalists) partnering with the ministry that was the most recognized new-evangelical ministry is pretty noteworthy. 

Josh, honestly, at this point I'm not sure what the deep substantive issue(s) is/are. For some, BJU's partnership with the son of Billy Graham was a bridge too far. For some, they just miss the good old days. For some, it's BJU's intercollegiate sports program. For others, it's BJU's slow walk away from cultural fundamentalism. Then, we're told by others it's none of those things---those are just smoke screens---there's something even deeper wrong with BJU.

Like I said, I'm just trying to understand as an impartial PCC guy.

Larry's picture

Moderator

I saw a billboard in Greenville SC that advertised "Greenville's Premier Christian University" (or words to that effect). It was for North Greenville University! Today BJU is simply a small college with less than 3000 students and, while still offering a solid liberal arts education with a distinctive Christian world view,  is scarcely a blip on the evangelical spectrum

In the interest of full disclosure, at 3000 students, BJU is probably about 30-40% bigger than NGU. And for enough money, you can put whatever you want on a billboard. If BJU is a blip, NGU is probably less of one. But there are a lot of small colleges that are blips on the bigger screen but serve a purpose.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Been off line for one day, and look at what I missed!

Most of this is simply personal opinion.  (Which is legitimate, but let's acknowledge what we're dealing with.)  What I like or dislike (even if it rises to the level of "despise") is not a Biblical argument.  Agreed?

Poor BJU.  When they were reluctant to change anything, they were faulted for being unwilling to change.  When they make changes which are well within the bounds of Biblical fidelity, they are faulted for compromising because they, gasp, dared to CHANGE.  Enough already!  BJU is doing just fine.  Let's pray for them as they endeavor to be faithful to the Lord in a challenging and difficult time in history.

G. N. Barkman

JohnS's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Been off line for one day, and look at what I missed!

Most of this is simply personal opinion.  (Which is legitimate, but let's acknowledge what we're dealing with.)  What I like or dislike (even if it rises to the level of "despise") is not a Biblical argument.  Agreed?

Poor BJU.  When they were reluctant to change anything, they were faulted for being unwilling to change.  When they make changes which are well within the bounds of Biblical fidelity, they are faulted for compromising because they, gasp, dared to CHANGE.  Enough already!  BJU is doing just fine.  Let's pray for them as they endeavor to be faithful to the Lord in a challenging and difficult time in history.

Well said G.N.!

Jay's picture

But a bunch of the same people griping about the same types of changes at a place called Northland are now, almost ten years later, leveling the same complaints about the same things at a similar place called Bob Jones University.

Well, that's not right.  Nobody accused the profs at Northland of practicing Redaction Criticism.  So there is that at least.

I'll repeat an earlier question - if you all don't like or are ready to separate from Bob Jones, who DO you prefer? Hyles-Anderson? Inquiring minds want to know.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

North Greenville U. has an enrollment of 2578 and an acceptance rate of 65% or so.  BJU's got 3000 and an acceptance rate of 84%, but it looks like slightly higher ACT scores.  One is SBC, BJU is of course independent fundamental.  Whether BJU grads like it or not, they're actually a worthy rival.

I wish both well, especially as both institutions wrestle with the question of which parts of their culture are Biblical and ought to be retained, and which parts of their culture are "just our culture" and can be jettisoned as people wrestle with the implications of Sola Scriptura and the first fundamental.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

T Howard wrote:

 

josh p wrote:

 

Some of us are not making any kind of slippery slope argument. Tom you seem not to recognize that. I am not claiming that BJU is on some kind of slippery slope. I'm not convinced about the redaction criticism because it hasn't been argued substantively here. I have no idea what a Bruin is. No idea what the bear/crest thing is all about.
 

It just seems pretty obvious to me that a school that has been known as the fundamentalist school (especially to non-fundamentalists) partnering with the ministry that was the most recognized new-evangelical ministry is pretty noteworthy. 

 

 

Josh, honestly, at this point I'm not sure what the deep substantive issue(s) is/are. For some, BJU's partnership with the son of Billy Graham was a bridge too far. For some, they just miss the good old days. For some, it's BJU's intercollegiate sports program. For others, it's BJU's slow walk away from cultural fundamentalism. Then, we're told by others it's none of those things---those are just smoke screens---there's something even deeper wrong with BJU.

Like I said, I'm just trying to understand as an impartial PCC guy.

At this point I should probably bow out since I don't want to just pile on. In the course of this thread it was brought up that BJU partnered with BGEA. I did not know that and was surprised to hear it. For me it's not the "son of Billy Graham" that is the issue but the fact that they are a decidedly non-separatist organization.

When Bauder wrote those "Fundamentalism Worth Saving" articles I was encouraged and I hoped to see that come to fruition. It seems like people take one of two positions on fundamentalism-1. It's hopelessly corrupt-let it die/morph into Conservative evangelicalism. 2. The idea is right and I hope to see it preserved in its best form (with debate about what that is of course). Most here seem to be category one. I'm still in category two and I have believed that BJU is part of that. I want to see them succeed and I am encouraged about some of the changes. Not this one. That's my whole argument. The rest of the stuff seems periphery by comparison but I'll let everyone else hash that out. 

Jay's picture

It seems like people take one of two positions on fundamentalism-1. It's hopelessly corrupt-let it die/morph into Conservative evangelicalism. 2. The idea is right and I hope to see it preserved in its best form (with debate about what that is of course).

I don't think the two sides are opposed.  Many of us (especially me) are fed up with 'movement fundamentalism' after watching it for many years but we are still very committed to the idea of the idea and do 'want to see it preserved in its' best form'.  As I mentioned before, I work within the dreaded 'conservative evangelicalism' once the FBFI was kind enough to make it clear that they aren't interested in their own heirs.  Nor can they imagine a Fundamentalism that is separate from the cultural trappings they love so much (see the resistance to change on this thread, the discussions on Northland, the Convergence article, the Frontline magazine published by Mark Ward and counter-response by the hardline folks, the article on alcohol that had to be pulled because it ruffled feathers, etc etc).

Unfortunately, there are some very vocal proponents of the 'movement' that seem to be equating the movement with Christianity itself.  I'll leave that debate as a waste of time and continue doing what God calls us to do - preach the Gospel, make disciples, and build each other up in the faith.  The husk of movement fundamentalism isn't worth saving even if it wanted to be saved.  If the guys in charge of what's left of the 'movement' aren't interested in staying united to the Body of Christ, then I'm leaving them behind.  I have better things to do with the limited time God gives us than worry about if playing soccer with Furman is compromise or not.

Feel free to PM me if you want to carry on the discussion.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jay's picture

I am grateful for the influence of men like Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran in the fundamentalist movement. But they are not really typical fundamentalists. The drift of most of the fundamentalist movement is decidedly in the opposite direction...“Fundamentalists” who tied themselves to the movement got sidetracked into fighting and dividing into ever-smaller and less significant factions. They managed to start with the all the right ideas, all the right enemies, and all the best men—and reduce their movement to virtual insignificance in less than a hundred years.

"Dead Right" by Phil Johnson, 2005.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

G. N. Barkman's picture

When I lived in Greenville in the 60's and early 70's, it was "North Greenville Junior College", a small, largely unknown school.  I was surprised a few years back to discover how much it had grown. I have since learned of several more formerly small SBC colleges that have grown impressively.  My opinion is that when nearly all the "old" colleges divorced from the SBC because of the conservative resurgence, many in the SBC started looking for more conservative colleges that remained in the SBC.  The departure of schools like Furman, Wake Forest, etc., was a boon for colleges like North Greenville.  Although some Fundamentalists act as if nothing has really changed in the SBC, the evidence points in another direction.  The resurgence was significant.  In spite of their problems, today's SBC is more conservative than the SBC of the 60's, 70's, and early 80's. 

Which raises the question, "If it was OK for BJU to send Ministry Teams into SBC churches in 1971 (as they did), why is it wrong today?"  The subjective nature of secondary separation is problematic.  The "strong separationist leader of Fundamentalism" of 1971 (the "old" BJU) was, arguably as vulnerable to accusations of compromise then as the newer, friendlier BJU of today.  Shouldn't Bible believing Christians exercise caution toward others before accusing them of compromise?

G. N. Barkman

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