Billy Kim’s Korean Children’s Choir at BJU

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Don Johnson's picture

I am glad Dr. Bob spoke up to clarify the confusion. The ecclesiastical issues remain, but the choir itself is meant as a reciprocation of kindness. Given the history, and the ongoing ecumenism, I could have wished for a different way to express kindness, but this is the decision that was made.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jim Barnes's picture

Dr. Bob’s rationale makes a lot of sense and should be accepted by all who call themselves fundamentalist Christians.

Don Johnson's picture

Jim Barnes wrote:

Dr. Bob’s rationale makes a lot of sense and should be accepted by all who call themselves fundamentalist Christians.

On what authority?

I am glad Dr. Bob put out a statement. I don't have to agree with all of it simply because I am a fundamentalist Christian.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

DLCreed's picture

....as to why BJIII offered the response and not Dr. Pettit.  Isn't Dr. Pettit the one actually in charge of the University or am I missig something?

FTR....I'm glad the choir is coming and I'm sad that BJIII has to defend the decision to the alumni or others.

Don Johnson's picture

Among the constituencies BJU serves are numerous fundamentalist alumni and churches. It is likely that their number is smaller than in years past, but they remain a significant constituency nonetheless.

If a significant segment of your constituency is alarmed, you will be motivated to make some attempt at explaining yourself, correct? Isn't that normal?

You may not agree with the constituency, but they exist and will make their voices heard. They have as much right to speak as any other constituency. I suspect BJU values the fundamentalist constituency (and sees itself as part of that group to some extent) so the explanation is perfectly natural, especially given the recent history at other institutions.

I would also say that the choir isn't the issue.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Barry L.'s picture

Because the "constituency" would not have been as gracious if it was Dr. Pettit that had reached out to Billy Kim, recommended the choir perform, and had made the same statement to them. Since they are, in general, unhappy with the direction the university is taking, they will scrutinize such decisions more closely and make their angst more public. These same questionable fine arts decisions were made in the past at the university, but questioning the university back then was not a good option for FBFI preachers to take. 

G. N. Barkman's picture

I realize that this type of criticism of BJU is, in part, reaping what was sowed.  BJU used to lead the way in castigating those who associated in any way with anyone who associated with someone who associated with a known New Evangelical.  Having so trained a host of Fundamentalists, they need not be surprised if they are now being judged by the same measure they regularly employed with others.

It appears that BJU is backing away, at least a little bit, from their former hard-line secondary separation position.  Perhaps they now realize that it rested upon questionable exegesis.  But alas, as they attempt to reform, they are finding themselves criticized by those whom they trained.  I, for one, am happy to see the change in direction.  I pray that they will not swing too far to the other side of the road.  Finding the sound Biblical position is challenging.  Let's give BJU a breather as they evaluate their history, and re-examine Biblical teaching about separation.  I pray that a stronger, better, more solidly Biblical BJU will emerge.  I also realize that a weaker, more wishy-washy BJU may emerge as well.  That's why I pray for my alma mater regularly.

G. N. Barkman

Ron Bean's picture

I haven't heard about Billy Kim since he was given the boot in 1973 for translating for BG. Does anyone know the identities of those with whom he has associated in the 44 years since? I think I can assume that he has worked with non-fundamentalists but has he worked with Charismatics or liberals? From BJIII's statement it seems that Kim has at least tried to take a less than militant stand which is an encouragement. Kim's graciousness in sending students and financial support to a school he appreciates in spite of its actions toward him is also good to see. 

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

Don Johnson's picture

Billy Kim has been and continues to be heavily involved in ecumenical alliances. He was president of the Baptist World Alliance, an ecumenical group that got too liberal for the Southern Baptists (who pulled out just after or at the end of his tenure as president). Billy Kim's activities have involved direct cooperation with liberals (according to Machen, not Christians). The separation from Billy Kim has not been secondary. The information is readily available on line, do a little searching.

As I said above, the issue isn't the choir, it is the connection with Billy Kim and the statement in the announcement that glossed over the long career of ecumenism.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Steve Davis's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

I realize that this type of criticism of BJU is, in part, reaping what was sowed.  BJU used to lead the way in castigating those who associated in any way with anyone who associated with someone who associated with a known New Evangelical.  Having so trained a host of Fundamentalists, they need not be surprised if they are now being judged by the same measure they regularly employed with others.

It appears that BJU is backing away, at least a little bit, from their former hard-line secondary separation position.  Perhaps they now realize that it rested upon questionable exegesis.  But alas, as they attempt to reform, they are finding themselves criticized by those whom they trained.  I, for one, am happy to see the change in direction.  I pray that they will not swing too far to the other side of the road.  Finding the sound Biblical position is challenging.  Let's give BJU a breather as they evaluate their history, and re-examine Biblical teaching about separation.  I pray that a stronger, better, more solidly Biblical BJU will emerge.  I also realize that a weaker, more wishy-washy BJU may emerge as well.  That's why I pray for my alma mater regularly.

Thanks for your response. I don't ever remember hearing about Billy Kim or the choir. As an alumnus I do like many of the changes I see at BJ, The changes won't please everyone. So what else is new? 

On a personal note, BJ separated from me in 1978, shortly after I graduated, when I went to an unapproved fundamental, militant, separatist, independent Baptist seminary. I almost didn't graduate and worried I'd be taken out of line the day of graduation. I was "dismembered" from the Alumni Association and my membership fees were returned. I was glad in a way because I really needed the money. I also received a few nasty letters that I think I still have. I'm still not a member and never received an apology (or offered one). One of my sons did graduate from there. Anyway, I'll take the new BJ over the one I knew. I like it better and better. I think it is more biblically balanced.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Steve, I have a very faint memory of hearing Bob Jones, Jr., saying something about Billy Kim, but I have no clue what he said.  The name is vaguely familiar, but the details are long gone.

Don, I do not doubt for a minute that Billy Kim is everything  you have described, though I have not taken the time to confirm that for myself.  Accepting your description, I am happy to agree that he is someone I would not support or recommend partnering with.  My comments were not specifically about Kim so much as about the general situation I observed over the years.  It became apparent that the doctrine of separation was difficult to define clearly, and impossible to apply consistently once it moved beyond separation from those who proclaimed a false gospel,  The process was too subjective, arbitrary, and subject to abuse.  The present situation seems to illustrate this very thing.  Is having a children's choir sing the same as inviting Billy Kim to preach?  Does it constitute an endorsement of Billy Kim's ministry?  Is Billy Kim an unbeliever?  Was he translating for an unbeliever?  Or was Billy Graham a believer who gave unscriptural endorsement to those who preach a false gospel.  (No question about that in my mind.)  So what's the applicable principle here?  Is the problem that the children's choir (apparently made up of believers) is associated with Billy Kim (also presumably a believer), who translated for Billy Graham (also presumably a believer), who endorsed apostates (who are not believers but false prophets)?  Whew!  I don't think I would invite the choir to my church.  But given the degrees of separation required, I think it is wiser to put this into the category of Christian Liberty, not disobedience.  It's really a stretch.  Solid men have room for disagreement there, and I think we need to let it go.  I'm not called to police every decision made by my brother in Christ.  I've got enough on my own plate without judging everybody else.

That said, I commend you for your restraint.  I don't think you have declared BJU to be disobedient in this matter, but simply indicated that you disagreed with their decision.  You provided a helpful explanation by citing the rationale by Bob Jones, III.  My sense is that the FBF will probably issue a rebuke to BJU.  Am I wrong?  I hope, instead, they will let it pass.  In this case, "let each be fully persuaded in his own mind" is, in my opinion, the wiser course.

G. N. Barkman

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

My sense is that the FBF will probably issue a rebuke to BJU.  Am I wrong? 

Yes, you are wrong.  Now, the ACCC might . . .

G. N. Barkman's picture

True, the ACCC might.  I know several ACCC members personally.  They are not very happy with the changes at BJU.  But I love these guys to death.  They are genuine, committed followers of Christ.

G. N. Barkman

Don Johnson's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Steve, I have a very faint memory of hearing Bob Jones, Jr., saying something about Billy Kim, but I have no clue what he said.  The name is vaguely familiar, but the details are long gone.

Greg, I think you graduated in 73, right? The Billy Graham crusade that was the breaking point between BJU and Billy Kim ended on June 3, 1973. It was a five day meeting. Presumably you were just graduating or had graduated when this event occurred. So it is no wonder that there would be little recollection of Billy Kim from your time at school.

I recall hearing about him as an example of a graduate who really betrayed the gospel by his ecumenical connections. (I started in 1975 and was there as a student until 1983.) Anyway, I assure you, Billy Kim's compromises are not at all like our complaints against the more conservative evangelicals. On that score, I think there are legitimate complaints, but we don't accuse them of direct betrayal of the gospel. Usually, those who want to work the "secondary, tertiary, ad infinitum" level of separation argument will agree that the disobedience of Billy Graham is one thing, but the "secondary" (and higher) compromises are another. Well, the compromises of Billy Kim are on the same level as those of Billy Graham.

G. N. Barkman wrote:

My sense is that the FBF will probably issue a rebuke to BJU.  Am I wrong? 

We asked questions, Dr. Bob gave an answer and allowed us to publish it. It is my hope that our concerns and those of others will be heard and decisions will be made with more care in the future.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

G. N. Barkman's picture

I finished an MA in '72, and remained in Greenville until April, '73, when I moved to Burlington, NC, to labor at establishing a new independent fundamental baptist church.  I'm still in the same place today.  I have continued to maintain a cordial working relationship with BJU over the years, and a large number of young people from our church have attended BJU, including three of my own daughters.  We have had both Bob Jones, Jr., and Bob Jones, III, speak in our church in the early days, but not for a good many years.  Several reasons for this don't merit discussion here.  I could tell you some crazy stories about the history of my relationship with BJU, but I have managed to maintain fellowship, which I consider a benefit to me and our church, and I hope has been beneficial to the school and its leadership as well. 

I don't agree with everything taught and practiced at BJU, and have had some frank but cordial discussions with the leadership about these matters.  But I maintain an appreciation for what I received at BJU, and had never wanted to sever relationships with the school.  I feel like I am part of the family of BJU.  We all have family members we disagree with and disapprove of in various ways, but we're still family, and continue to love one another and maintain relationships as best we are able.  I have never allowed myself to be pressured into conforming to BJU dictates, but have also refused to allow our disagreements to destroy a cordial relationship with a great host of serious, dedicated brothers in Christ.  At times, I have cringed because of my BJU connection, as it has caused some to judge me negatively, but more often, I have been proud of my BJU heritage.  It is what it is, for better and for worse, and I consider it more better than worse.  'nuff said.

G. N. Barkman