The Position of Bob Jones University Regarding the Membership of Dr. Chuck Phelps on Its Cooperating Board of Trustees

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

... this thread would be a really weird place to post all the old accusations again.
Every possible accusation has already been made many, many times. All the reasons for and reasons against have been aired innumerable times.
So whatever there might be to discuss (if anything) repeating accusations again would certainly be pointless.

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.

Shaynus's picture

This is pretty close to what was read to the students by Marshall Franklin. The tension was palpable.

Without rehashing details (thanks Aaron), my general feeling is that the situation is so messed up and confused for so many people that it probably wasn't a smart move to bring him back to the board at this time. Regardless of facts, to many people the chain of events just didn't smell right, and the University's bringing him on connected them to the chain. I think the University is right to meet the issue head on instead of being either indirect or off the cuff.

Paul J's picture

He is still on the Board?

handerson's picture

I agree that the details are so mired it's hard to get a sense of clarity about the issue--and that's a major reason why I've not really expressed a formal opinion. But I do have one serious concern with the statement itself. It may simply be an oversight but am I reading it correctly that in investigating the situation they relied only on Pastor Phelps' website and his testimony to evaluate the internet rumors and claims?

Quote:
To verify facts and get our questions answered we called him and he answered our questions. After speaking with him and weighing the criticisms against the facts, we have concluded that some of what is posted on the internet about this incident is true, but the majority is a little bit of truth mixed with a lot of opinion and speculation.

It seems that wisdom would have required that they engage with the other major participants - Ms. Anderson herself perhaps - in order to get a more complete picture of what happened. Trust me, I'm not on a witchhunt--I'm three generations BJU--but it does come across at least as appearing as cronyism and supporting the very accusations against them.

Ron Bean's picture

Does this make Chuck Phelps an asset or a liability to my alma mater?

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

Lee's picture

It appears that the university administration has come to a similar conclusion that I have.

From a previous, but now closed, discussion: "...My question: since the matter of Phelp's blamelessness is in question, affecting his qualifications as a pastor, board member, etc., and that blamelessness must be directly related to his disregard of clear Scripture truth, what are the specific,clear Scripture truth's, commands, applications, etc., that Phelps deliberately disregarded, ignored, or flat out rejected that have disqualified him as pastor/board member, or whatever?

I think most of us have been in the position of looking backward at how we have handled situations, and second guessing. That is not my purpose in this question. This is a situation that most pastors/Christian leaders will never face, and those who face it will likely see it only once in the life of their ministry, so there is not likely to be a lot of experience to fall back on. However, before I am willing to cast one of Phelp's reputation and accomplishments into outer darkness as unworthy of filling the position, I want to know where he recognized the biblically right thing to do and disregarded it, or where he has exhibited such complete incompetence about a clear truth/application of Scripture that evidences his lack of qualifications for that position. "

I think from the previous discussion it appears the major argument for tossing Phelps under the bus is that he made the right moves, just not as intensely as we think they should have been made now that we see how it all played out 12 years or so down the road. Until someone shows conclusively otherwise (i.e., that he deliberately disregarded doing the right thing) he has the benefit of my doubt, a luxury I would want for myself if I found myself in a similar situation, and what is also the general tenor of Scripture.

Lee

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree, Hannah. At this point the facts are so intertwined with speculation, the average unconnected person is not in a position to properly separate the issues. But I'd think that the staff of BJU would be very invested in exploring all sources fully. The statement as written doesn't sound like this was done.

I do not want to see the innocent suffer, or the momentarily misguided, or even the one-time monumental screw up. But I've really had my personal fill of church leadership (generally speaking) thumbing their nose at principles in places like 1 Timothy 3, Titus 2, 1 Peter 2 & 3, as if those criteria don't apply to them.

MarkClements's picture

I'm not sure what exactly folks think BJ should have done (other than Hannah's suggestion that they contact Tina). In addition to reading Dr. Phelps' website the statement said that BJ spent time reading the blog info that was available. I don't know how many or which ones they read but the blogs are the only places where information regarding this situation is in dispute. The public records agree with the facts of this whole morass. They also show how poorly the situation was handled (IMHO) by Dr. Phelps. The BJ statement seems to read that 1) they talked to Dr. Phelps ("maintained regular contact with Dr. Phelps since the matter came to light"), 2) they read the blog stuff about the situation, 3) they called him and asked about the information they'd found on the blogs, etc., 4) they concluded that there was truth to much of what was written and that a lot of opinions and suppositions are being made about the situation (I can't imagine anyone disagreeing with that), 5) After that process the school doesn't think the whole thing was handled as well as it could have been but didn't see a reason to remove him from the board.

They weren't trying to determine the legality of anything. They were trying to answer the question, Should Dr. Phelps still be on the BJ board? They didn't see anything illegal or immoral in how he handled the situation and decided to keep him. They do seem to admit he acted unwisely, even if they couched it in very nice terms. If there is any debate this would be the point where I would make it--Is it WISE to keep him on the board? But, that's not the topic and I really don't want to get all involved in that. (Not that anyone cares but I would have quietly asked him to step away.)

I understand that being a board member is a very visible position at times and those folks should be vetted pretty carefully before you commit to them. Dr. Phelps had been a long-time member of the board so he had an already-established track record. This situation (though it happened many years ago) only recently came up and it looks like they tried to get as much information as necessary to make a choice about keeping him on the board (without hiring investigators, etc.). They found mistakes but not enough that makes him unpalatable for his function on the board. I might disagree but they do say that they did more than just call Dr. Phelps and let him "spin" the information about this tragic incident.

Paul J's picture

But why doesn't he decide to take a season and focus on his local church, step away from the national spotlight and distractions?

handerson's picture

I think Susan's point is valid. In Scripture, leadership is held to a "higher" standard of exercising wisdom and discretion. Given this, it is entirely legitimate to expect a leader's qualifications for a public position to be directly linked to his ability to make wise choices. Certainly none of us are perfect; none of us make wise decisions all the time--thank heavens for grace--but it is unsettling to hear essentially, "sure, soandso made mistakes but we don't think that hinders him from being in a position of honor and leadership." If he made the same mistakes that the average person would have, what makes him qualified to be a leader?

Really, I'm not trying to agitate--it's all just so messy and I have to admit to feeling somewhat of a hypocrite for judging PSU so quickly if I don't evaluate my own allegiances by the same standard.

Mike Harding's picture

Pastor Phelps has been a loyal graduate of BJU for many years. He has encouraged many students to attend BJU including his own children. Outside this event, Chuck has been one of the most respected pastors in America with an impeccable family and personal life. Chuck contacted the local police twice in a timely fashion regarding the perpetrator. He brought the perpetrator before the church for public discipline and eventually expelled him from the church. However, he also made serious mistakes by bringing the victim before the church and not clearly connecting the perpetrator with the victim who was a minor. Though I think his motive was good in helping the victim's mother place her daughter in a more stable family situation, the fact that she was sent out of state gave the wrong impression. I am certain that Pastor Phelps has deep regrets about this matter. Again, this entire episode is an example of how the horrendous sin of one man, Earny Willis, did so much damage to so many people including first and foremost the young lady, secondly Earny's wife and children who have been the totally forgotten victims of Earny's sin, the good people of that local church who have been tarnished and shamed by the actions of this very selfish human being, and ultimately against God by inciting the enemies of God to blaspheme his Holy Name.

Pastor Mike Harding

bdbrewer's picture

I write this with all due respect and admiration for Chuck Phelps, he has served in many ways as a distant mentor to me. I believe with the pressure that has been placed on Bob Jones thru this circumstance, that Chuck should voluntarily resign his position on the University board. I believe this would speak volumes to his own personal integrity, and not unnecessarily allow Bob Jones to receive this criticism. Bob Jones should have acted more prudently in their selection process. In my local setting, we would not consider a man for eldership who was not blameless. Understanding that Bob Jones is not a church, you would think that similar Biblical standards would come into play in this situation.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Mike Harding wrote:
However, he also made serious mistakes by bringing the victim before the church and not clearly connecting the perpetrator with the victim who was a minor

It is this issue here that leaves many friends of Pastor Phelps and BJU scratching their heads. From what has been posted out there, I am not sure clarity has ever been brought to this issue. Why were these two brought to the church platform and why was it not make clear that Ernie was the father of the Tina's baby?

Until that is cleared up and cleaned up, there is going to be great tension on this matter.

Robert Byers's picture

Not that they (or anyone else) does or should care about the opinion of one person on the Internet, and limiting my remarks only to the statement itself rather than the situation, this statement was a horrible idea. I make a living in public relations, marketing and fund raising, and have for nearly twenty years. This statement is worse than saying nothing would have been. There are (at least) three critical errors in this approach.

1) By responding publicly to the mounting critique of their decision to place Dr. Phelps on the Board, they are establishing a precedent for the future. If those who oppose an action of the school can generate enough heat (and possibly light, although some will debate that) to force a response once, that is a virtual guarantee that this will happen again and again. If you give a moose a muffin...

2) By citing Dr. Phelps' website as a major source of their information without noting the discrepancies between what is and was posted there and what Dr. Phelps testified to under oath (according to news reports as the trial transcripts still aren't available), they undermine the credibility of their response. They would have been far better served to have only said they talked to him and are satisfied with his answers rather than bringing up a major point of contention that is heavily disputed as evidence for their argument. You never want to hand someone a bigger stick to beat you with.

3) By condemning others for following the same practice they have followed for years, they invite charges of hypocrisy, not only in the statement but of the institution as well. For those of us with a sense of history, to see Bob Jones University to issue a statement decrying those who do not obey the Bible and "go to the person directly and get facts before reaching a judgment" is quite humorous--but not very compelling.

My expectation is that this statement will inflame rather than calm the situation.

handerson's picture

Quote:
If you give a moose a muffin...

You do have to be so careful with moose and muffins... Smile

Dan Frank's picture

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:
Mike Harding wrote:
However, he also made serious mistakes by bringing the victim before the church and not clearly connecting the perpetrator with the victim who was a minor

It is this issue here that leaves many friends of Pastor Phelps and BJU scratching their heads. From what has been posted out there, I am not sure clarity has ever been brought to this issue. Why were these two brought to the church platform and why was it not make clear that Ernie was the father of the Tina's baby?

Until that is cleared up and cleaned up, there is going to be great tension on this matter.

This is certainly true. But they also did not contact Tina Anderson. And Chuck Phelps has not yet made any attempt publicly or privately to make things right with her. Yesterday's chapel statement by BJU just further victimizes Tina Anderson. She STILL has no voice with them. Her experience STILL does not matter to them. I'm so grieved that in all their research on the topic, they haven't attempted to talk to her at all.

BryanBice's picture

Mike Harding wrote:
He brought the perpetrator before the church for public discipline and eventually expelled him from the church.

To clarify:
1) Ernie Willis was brought before the church for adultery, not the rape of a minor. There's a huge difference.
2) Willis wasn't removed from the church membership until several years later, for an unrelated adulterous relationship of which he would not repent. I believe the publicly stated transgression was "abandoning his family."

I'm sure there wasn't an intentional effort to mislead the reader into thinking that Dr. Phelps publicly handled Mr. Willis in an appropriate way.

Mike Harding wrote:
I am certain that Pastor Phelps has deep regrets about this matter.

Well, you may be certain, but a host of people aren't so sure, or simply don't believe it. I don't know how many times I've read something to the effect, "Why can't he just admit he was wrong?" If Dr. Phelps truly has regrets, I should think it helpful for him to itemize and publicly express both his personal regrets and his wrongdoings. In addition, and especially, he should communicate these things to Tina Anderson and ask her forgiveness. One would think this shouldn't be too much to ask. By the way, had he done so a long time ago, this thread would be non-existent, and there wouldn't be a "Do Right BJU" Facebook page.

PaulJ wrote:
But why doesn't he decide to take a season and focus on his local church, step away from the national spotlight and distractions?

This seems most prudent. The only wiser thing would've been for him to decline the board position in the first place.

Shaynus's picture

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:
Mike Harding wrote:
However, he also made serious mistakes by bringing the victim before the church and not clearly connecting the perpetrator with the victim who was a minor

It is this issue here that leaves many friends of Pastor Phelps and BJU scratching their heads. From what has been posted out there, I am not sure clarity has ever been brought to this issue. Why were these two brought to the church platform and why was it not make clear that Ernie was the father of the Tina's baby?

Until that is cleared up and cleaned up, there is going to be great tension on this matter.

Here's why you'd be scratching your heads. Logically it doesn't work to sat that a man committed a crime of rape against Tina Anderson, and then claim that she was in sexual sin. Only one of those two claims can be true. Either it isn't really rape or it is. In the apologies that I've heard about this particular issue, it's mostly "well, I would not do it that way again" or "there were other non-public details." That's not the same thing as repentance or apology. I'm with Joe Roof in that this is the biggest sticking point for me to allow myself to think there still isn't some further explaining to do.

So at chapel yesterday I heard anger in Marshall Franklin's voice towards the rapist. That is good. Fantastic. But I still have a nagging feeling that Baptist Fundamentalism has a somewhat warped view of the purpose of church discipline. I too would like to see a longer span of time between the trial and when Chuck Phelps (a family friend of mine) could be one day restored to the board. I think it would take a lot of talking and explaining outside his website.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

First, I appreciate folks mostly avoiding rehashing the actual and supposed events. ... mostly.

Second, re Shaynus' post: It's important to remember that Baptist Fundamentalism is not monolithic. Never has been. So it's really hard to tell what a generalization like " Baptist Fundamentalism has a somewhat warped view of the purpose of church discipline" really means in concrete terms. Is there much confusion in this area? Yes. Really hard to tell how large that confusion is.

Third, it may well turn out that this move by BJU (the statement) leads to growing tension and a need to take other steps. I would really like to see SI not be a part of that problem, if it develops. That is, I think it's important that folks in the discussion steer clear of anything that sounds like a demand that BJU act in a certain way. If there ends up being some sort of tidal wave of protest, let it be somewhere else.
(SI doesn't exist as a place for people to tell other people what to do... whether individuals, institutions or whatever)
But there are aspects of this that are worth calmly discussing. I hope we can stay in that neighborhood.

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.

Jay's picture

Robert Byers wrote:
My expectation is that this statement will inflame rather than calm the situation.

Yeah, I think you're right.

I also would say that Phelps' decision to join/rejoin the board of BJU at this time does not speak well of him (in my opinion). I don't think he should be tarred and feathered, as some apparently do, but there's no way I would want to be associated with any school or university if I were in his shoes.

"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

JG's picture

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:
Mike Harding wrote:
However, he also made serious mistakes by bringing the victim before the church and not clearly connecting the perpetrator with the victim who was a minor

It is this issue here that leaves many friends of Pastor Phelps and BJU scratching their heads. From what has been posted out there, I am not sure clarity has ever been brought to this issue. Why were these two brought to the church platform and why was it not make clear that Ernie was the father of the Tina's baby?

The answer to these questions is simple if we forget what we know (and/or think we know) now, and ask ourselves what Pastor Phelps believed then.

Disclaimer: I'm sure someone will twist what I'm saying here. It's always that way. But just so anyone who does can stand justly condemned, I'm not asserting that any particular thing that Chuck Phelps believed is true. I'm just stating what he believed, and that what he believed provides ample explanation for his actions. Nor am I stating he was right (or wise) to put Tina before the church, though I am explaining why he did it, because it is easy to see why. I am stating that it would have been dubious both legally and spiritually to link Tina and Phelps before the church.

First question -- why was Tina brought to the platform?

He believed Tina consented. Now, we know the court found Wills guilty of forcible rape, but we can't possibly know exactly what Tina said to Pastor Phelps back then. He still believes it was consensual --maybe there are reasons for that beyond his public statements. The accuracy of his belief is not relevant to the question as to >why< he acted as he did. You can dispute his belief until the cows come home, but he believed it.

Furthermore, on his website, he says:

Quote:
Tina came before the church, with her mother present, to solicit assistance during a time of crisis. She wrote her own statement and asked to share it.

Tina wanted to make her statement public, unless he is lying (possible, but it needs "two or three witnesses" to make that accusation). Pastor Phelps believed she 1) had morally consented to adultery 2) was pregnant and 3) had a statement she wanted to share with the church. That's why she came before the church. A mistake, one he says he wouldn't repeat, but not so nefarious as people want it to be. I can easily see thinking, "You can't hide the pregnancy, so maybe it's best just to let it be known and read out her statement. People will respect and love her for being straight-forward about it, and this could really help her to go forward and put it behind her spiritually."

Second question -- why was it not made clear that Ernie was the father of the baby?
Multiple reasons. I greatly appreciate Pastor Harding, but I differ with him strongly on this. This should not have been mentioned publicly.
1. Confidentiality. Ernie Wills had confessed to a crime in confidence, and it would be legally murky to disclose it publicly.
2. Victim privacy. Tina was the victim of a sex crime, and you can't disclose that without the victim's consent. Since Tina did not want Ernie Wills to be prosecuted, she would never have given consent (whether Pastor Phelps asked her consent or not).
3. No need. He expected Ernie Wills to be prosecuted. The authorities would deal with him. This was about getting him headed in the right direction spiritually before the full force of the law fell and removed him from the church for an extended time. By the time he came back, everyone would know the nature of his crime, whether they guessed the identity of the victim or not.
4. Love. Love covers a multitude of sins. While (in his belief) Tina had sinned, she was now repentant, and there was no need to embarrass her further by identifying the father.
5. Love again. It really didn't matter who Wills had sinned with. He was coming to make things right before the Lord and the church. The pastor leads in "restoring such a one," and airing all the details wouldn't help. In general, the Biblical principles when dealing with the sins of someone who is now repentant lead us to say much less, rather than much more.

Phelps believed (rightly or wrongly) the following:
1. Wills had initiated the immorality ("the aggressor") and was guilty of adultery.
2. Wills was guilty of statutory rape, but not forcible rape.
3. Wills was honest about what he had done.
4. Wills was repentant and wanted to make it right before the church.

And he believed (rightly or wrongly):
1. Tina was the victim of a sex crime (statutory rape).
2. Though under the legal age of consent, Tina was old enough to consent morally, had done so, and was thus guilty of adultery.
3. Tina's actions after the first incident indicated willingness/consent.
4. Tina was repentant and wanted to make a public statement to the church.

If you can take yourself back more than ten years and put yourself in his shoes, it is easy to see why he made the decisions he did. In hindsight, it is clear that the public treatment of Tina's situation was a mistake, but under no circumstances should her situation have been linked with Wills. If you take yourself back, and put yourself in the situation of believing what he believed and actually loving both of the people involved, rather than wanting to crucify one of them, it's easy to see why he did what he did.

The only reason people can't understand is because they don't believe today what he believed at the time, and they aren't willing to really put themselves in his shoes and walk a mile or two.

Disclaimer (repeated): I'm sure someone will twist what I'm saying here. It's always that way. But just so anyone who does can stand justly condemned, I'm not asserting that any particular thing that Chuck Phelps believed is true. I'm just stating what he believed, and that what he believed provides ample explanation for his actions. Nor am I stating he was right (or wise) to put Tina before the church, though I am explaining why he did it, because it is easy to see why. I am stating that it would have been dubious both legally and spiritually to link Tina and Phelps before the church.

Dan Burrell's picture

There is a question that keeps nagging at me as I watch this from way back in the bleachers and with a significant level of disinterest....

Why doesn't Chuck Phelps step aside for the good of the University so as not to be a destraction to them? Is being a member of the board of BJ (and if I'm not mistaken, it's not the most influential board the school has and unless I'm further mistaken, if your last name isn't Jones or one of a handful of other close confidants, your ability to wield significant influence is rather limited) so valuable that he'd be willing to allow his presence to be a disruption that is, no doubt, causing people to reconsider any intention of attending or supporting the institution, to hang to the prestige board membership apparently assigns?

I've been privileged to serve on five conservative Christian college boards over the last 20 years and on three other Christian institution boards. If at anytime my presence on those boards would have been a net negative, it was just a matter of assumption for me that I would step off out of respect, deference and a desire to prevent harm to the institution where I was asked to be a net positive. In fact, I did offer to step off of two boards when I made a ministry transition, but it was declined. It would be arrogant for me to project my own view of board service on to others, but it just seems like a common sense issue that anyone who brings unnecessary controversy to an institution because of their voluntary, unpaid, infrequent involvement -- such as a board seat -- that they should step aside for the good of the institution (not to mention to simply lower their own profile in the midst of controversy). This is regularly demonstrated in politics, civic associations, etc.... I would also think that this is a matter of avoiding offence and even preferring others -- even if one thinks that they are innocent or in the right.

Edit: I typed this earlier this morning and didn't get the time to hit "submit" and did so later in the afternoon without reloading the page and looking at new responses. I did not realize that others had posted similar questions in the interim. I apologize for making it look perhaps like I was piling on.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

handerson's picture

I think that's kind of what Aaron wanted us to avoid.

Still I do understand your point that Pastor Phelps acted consistently based on his knowledge and perspectives at the time. What's in question isn't whether he did his best, but whether or not he made wise choices, and that's NOT something any of us here have enough time or knowledge to evaluate. But, I do think it is legitimate to question whether BJU should or should have gone through that process before his return to the board.

In some sense, as an alumna of BJU, this all hits a nerve that it hadn't previously. Before, I was a spectator from a distance, saddened by the obvious pain and controversy of the situation; but I really didn't have anything I could (or should) contribute. Now, with BJU taking such a public and vocal stand on the issues and basically lending their credibility to Pastor Phelps, I feel forced to come to some conclusion just for my own mind's sake.

JG's picture

handerson wrote:
I think that's kind of what Aaron wanted us to avoid.

Really? I wasn't accusing or defending, I was just answering the questions "why" that were asked. Sorry if I went astray.

As to whether he did his best, lots of people have said he didn't -- and I don't know whether he did or not. I was just answering the questions Pastor Roof had asked, and to which Pastor Harding had referred.

BryanBice's picture

Does anyone know when Dr. Phelps was placed back on the Cooperating Board? From what I understand, he had been on the board, but stepped down when he became president of Maranatha, only to be reinstated some time after he left the college and became pastor of Colonial Hills. Perhaps fellow board member Mike Harding could shed some light?

Mike Harding's picture

Jay,

I don't think you and I disagree at all. He should not have brought the young lady before the church and should have maintained her privacy if at all possible (pregnancy inevitably becomes public by its very nature to state the obvious). Pastor Phelps greatly regrets having brought a minor before the church. Unfortunately for all, however, he did. Once he made that decision he was obligated to tell the congregation that the adultery of the perpetrator (standing before them) involved the violation of a minor who is now pregnant and already standing before the congregation. The church discipline side of this was seriously mishandled for a variety of reasons, some of which you have listed as possibilities.

Pastor Mike Harding

Mike Harding's picture

Bryan,

All board appointments are conducted privately by means of the executive council/committee and then announced at the subsequent board meeting to the Board of Trustees and the Cooperative board (of which I am a member). Board appointments and/or reversals have always been to my knowledge the sole perogative of the executive committee. No votes are taken either in the appointment or removal. Frankly, I do not remember when Pastor Phelps was reappointed to the Cooperative board. On account of my son's graduation, I missed the most recent meeting in May, 2011. The last board meeting I attended was December 2010, and I have no recollection whether Chuck was there or not. My educated guess is that once Chuck had resigned MBBC and subsequently became the senior Pastor at Colonial, he was reappointed to the Cooperative board at that time. As I said before Chuck has always been a very loyal graduate of BJU and a strong supporter of BJU. When Chuck became the President of MBBC he had to resign the board at BJU as a matter of policy. Once Chuck ceased to be the president of another college, I am reasonably sure that BJU would want to restore their relationship which formerly existed. Exactly when that happened I cannot say for certain.

Pastor Mike Harding

handerson's picture

I didn't mean to correct you -- I think I'm just gun-shy of all the details swirling around the internet. No offense intended.

JG's picture

handerson wrote:
No offense intended.

None taken. Smile I'm gun-shy, too -- as per my repeated disclaimer.

Pastor Harding, leaving the particulars of this case aside, what age is too young for a public statement of confession and repentance? If the father had been another 15-year-old, the pregnancy would still mean the sin can't be private. If the fact of the sin having happened is going to be public, why should the repentance not also be public? I'm not sure why 15 (16 at the time of the church meeting) is too young to address things publicly. I don't think age is the main issue here.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

There needs to be more Scriptural support for making only 'visible' sins a matter of public repentance. IOW, if an action results in an obvious consequence, like pregnancy, then public repentance is often deemed a requirement. But what about those engaging in sexual conduct that does not result in a visible consequence? Where in Scripture is this particular differentiation made? IMO, it is just as important for church leadership to get church discipline right as it is for them to abide by sound doctrine in other areas.

As for giving church leadership the benefit of the doubt for not having experience in dealing with sexual sins and criminal behavior- Why should Pastor Phelps, a grown man with a seminary education and years in the ministry, get to call in his "I'm just a man and I make mistakes" chips when Tina, a young girl who had already been victimized, was not given the benefit of the doubt? And there were doubts aplenty, and they remain to this day. That says something to me.... like "If IFB leadership wants leniency for their lapses in judgement and poor choices because of the unique challenges of ministry, then they are going to have to become known for granting leniency to others who are inexperienced, misguided, wounded, immature, or confused."

I agree with those that believe that at the very least this is poor timing.

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