"Do Right BJU lost its credibility ... The Facebook page just went from one crisis to another, responding in very bad ways. And that’s why nobody wore red on Monday."

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Rev Karl's picture

Brenda T wrote:
"Any graduate who does not send their children here is the lowest, slimiest kind of gutter rat."

That was supposedly stated over 30 years ago, right? Is the person who said it still there? Is that same thing being stated in chapel nowadays?

You are correct: I heard this comment in chapel in the late 1970's. So did the "preacher boys" in chapel that day. So did the seminary students in chapel that day. While many men have sought out the Bible, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, and have pulled back from the style of fundamentalism which is authoritarian, militaristic, personality and list-of-rules driven, there are enough left in the ministry from that era that this topic comes up on a regular basis.

The observations are mine, and indicitave of the climate I observed during my time as a student. They are presented as a comment validating the veracityof a previous post. I have seldom been back on campus since I left the area in 1982. I have heard about changes occuring, and for the most part I welcome them. But I personally have never observed them, so I can't make a valid comment about them.

As to your other question, the administrator to whom I refered passed away in the early 1980's. I would hope that the type of rhetoric he expounded has been modified since I heard it. If it has, and someone on theis blog can speak to it, I welcome that input.

As I continued my education there on campus, stuff came up that frustrated me, and I would often discuss it with my Dad. His response: "The only thing wrong with that place is that it has PEOPLE. People aren't perfect. When you have people, you are going to have problems."

I think it has been mentioned previously in this thread: there is no institution of higher learning that is going to be perfect. You will never find a perfect church. There will never be a perfect job. "Problems" are going to come up everywhere you go. Thirty years ago, the philosophy was "TAKE A STAND! SEPARATE!! STAND FIRM FOR GOD!!!" Over the last thirty years I have come to learn that the defining identifier of a believer is our love one for another.

I miss Dad.

Jay's picture

Brenda T wrote:
"Any graduate who does not send their children here is the lowest, slimiest kind of gutter rat."

While I didn't hear that exact quote, I will say that I've have heard a lot of statements - not made in jest - along the lines of "You know that God wants your kids at BJU, right?"

"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

Mike Durning's picture

Two different visions of BJU have been presented here. To some, they have been unapproachable. To others, approachable (as I indicated in my post above). Of course, the truth is there has been a mix, depending on who was being approached on what issue. In general, reasonable people can be reasonable. Unreasonable people cannot. And every institution has a mix of both.

I think the Inter-racial dating/marriage issue still haunts BJU in several ways, but most notably by reinforcing the "unapproachable" viewpoint. That emperor had no clothes decades before BJU admitted it. The fact that their abandonment of the policy so closely coincided with the on-line petition about that probably strengthened the perception that this is the way to handle "problems" with BJU.

The fact that this petition was handled clumsily only reveals the other side of the issue. For every concerned believer who wants to help BJU, there is at least one bitter person who cannot be reasonable or objective toward BJU and who has no real desire to help. No wonder BJU administrators are somewhat skeptical of the new order of media savvy protestors. They have moved from the old order (where concession made you look weak) to the new order, where, apprently concession makes you look strong to some but only brings the next round of demands from others.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

An area of confusion in our society, and in this particular issue, has to do with how we view leadership.
Before anyone can decide whether dissent is appropriate or not and how to express it in a given situation, we have to figure out what we believe about more basic questions.

  1. Do we believe in leaders? I.e., do we believe that some people should decide for other people (within the boundaries of their relationship... which is often contractual)?
  2. If the answer to #1 is no, then of course, kicking up a fuss of any sort about any decision we don't like is completely proper... nobody knows better than anyone else and nobody's position makes him more entitled to make a decision than anyone else.
  3. But if the answer to #1 is yes, we have to consider how that plays out. At some point, if we believe person A has the responsibility to make a decision and that we do not have that responsibility, we have to recognize that the right thing to do is let that person make the decision and let him answer to God for it. (Heb. 13:17, James 3:1)

    Of course, a leader with any sense tries to be as well informed as time allows when making a decision, and recognizes the value of counsel (and what we now call "feedback"). But if the decision is his to make, so is the decision about how much or how little to involve others in making it (True, there are contractual exceptions to this)

    All of this to say that, in general, in my view, Americans tend to think that the decisions of too many decision-makers are their business. That is, they have an exaggerated sense of their entitlement to participate in decision making in a wide variety of settings. The operative rule seems to be "If I can question a decision I have a right to question it."

    (In the end, while leaders need accountability, etc., there is no substitute for virtue in a leader. All the accountability in the world will not make him wise and good. But the question in most of these cases is, "Does the fact that I have a strong opinion and disapprove entitle me to resist a decision? And does it entitle me to enlist others in resisting?")

Rev Karl's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Of course, a leader with any sense tries to be as well informed as time allows when making a decision, and recognizes the value of counsel (and what we now call "feedback"). But if the decision is his to make, so is the decision about how much or how little to involve others in making it (True, there are contractual exceptions to this)

If the President of the United States commits perjury, do we have the right to tell our Constitutionally elected representatives we want him impeached?

If the Governor of South Carolina directs his staffers to inform the public that he is hiking the Appalachian Trail, but he is actually visiting his mistress, do the citizens of SC have the right to ask for his resignation? If he refuses to resign, do they have ther right to demand a recall vote?

If a pastor commits an act of immorality, do we as members of the church have the right to ask for his resignation?

If a deacon is made aware that his pastor has abused a child in an obvious criminal act, and that deacon chooses not to report the crime, chooses not to protect the child from future harm, but covers up the crime, do we have the right to ask for his resignation?

If an institution to which we are linked by attendance, membership, or otherwise, chooses to act (or not act) in a way that is not only questionable, but harmful to our own reputations by our association with the institution, do we have the right - individually or collectively - to ask for a change?

While point 3 may apply to individual congregations assembled in accordance with the instructions of Scripture, does it really apply to an educational institution? A political instituion?

(I am writing this quickly, trying to finish so I can get back to work. If my comments come accross as brusque or improper, please know that this truly is not my intent. Thank you, Bro. Aaron, for sharpening me today!)

G. N. Barkman's picture

Anybody can be a critic. Few are able, qualified, and willing to lead. Leadership is difficult, and the constant chirping of critics is one of the burdens. When criticism is not handled in a Biblical manner, it usually does nothing to help the situation, but makes things worse.

It is my personal observation that the present leadership at BJU is more open to criticism than anytime in the past. I trust that the critics will address their concerns in the right way to the right source. To complain publicly to others before taking your concerns privately to the person responsibile is unbiblical. You could even say it is ungodly.

I was suprised that no one seemed to notice the following inconsistensy in regard to the Phelps situation. BJU was loudly criticised for re-instating Phelps to its Board without talking to the girl from his church who was raped. But I don't know of anyone who posted criticisms on the internet who asked anyone in the administration at BJU about the Phelps situation. Doesn't anyone see the irony of that? BJU is faulted for not seeking out and talking personally with the abused girl. But the critics who find this unacceptable feel no responsibility to seek out and talk personally to anyone from BJU before going public with their criticisms. Hmmm.

Yes, it's easy to criticize. It's difficult to lead. Monday morning quarterbacks are a dime a dozen. Competent quarterbacks are a rare breed. Perhaps a bit more appreciation for the difficult work of quarterbacking would be helpful.

Sincerely,
Greg Barkman

G. N. Barkman

Shaynus's picture

Maybe I'm biased since my dad (Dr. McAllister) is in the BJU administration, and I can talk to him whenever I want. I spent 23 years there growing up on campus. I called Jim Berg "Uncle Jim" growing up, so I'll admit I'm in deep. Yet somehow I came to different convictions on the cultural trappings of fundamentalism (music, dress, relationship to culture ect.). I am still DEEPLY thankful for the school. Just a few points from someone who has complained officially and unofficially over the years.

1. Emphatically the school has changed a lot in the last few years. I don't think it's fair to attribute an attitude that existed in the 70s with attitudes of present administrators. Sure, maybe there is a little bit of cultural spillover.
2. The "if you don't like it, then leave" advice falls flat for me. If you love BJU as an institution, you love it probably for the faculty, the friends, the experiences ect. You probably don't love it for the administrative oversight or rules (present family members excepted). Those who love the school naturally want to see it thrive for future generations. The big question is: how might it thrive? There is huge disagreement about that even among supporters. I would love for the school to maintain biblical thankfulness for the next 100 years, know that it will look different in 10 years, 20 years and 80 years from now.
3. I know for a fact that questions of "what will our supporters/constituency think" comes into consideration for some decisions. Sometimes it's miscalculated, but it's still there. I make it a habit to send the University and/or Stephen an encouraging and thankful note about once a year thanking them for some kind of positive change I've seen. I did so last night in fact, thankful for the absolutely spectacular assortment of books in the BJU campus store (which is really really great by the way!).
4. Criticism is best given in friendship and conversation. To Mike's point above on approachability: the school has made it more and more a point to seek counsel from various corners. Those who want to have the right to dissent, should also show up at "Friendship" banquets, and actually talk to administrators face to face. It probably helps the next time you get hot under the collar to realize that these are real people with real feelings (and of course, real sin). Gentle confrontation works better most of the time.
5. But I don't want to say there's never a time for harsher confrontation of a problem. But that would come hopefully after a long pattern of patently unbiblical behavior and repeated refusal to listen to plain reason.

JG's picture

Rev Karl wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Of course, a leader with any sense tries to be as well informed as time allows when making a decision, and recognizes the value of counsel (and what we now call "feedback"). But if the decision is his to make, so is the decision about how much or how little to involve others in making it (True, there are contractual exceptions to this)

If the President of the United States commits perjury, do we have the right to tell our Constitutionally elected representatives we want him impeached?


Surely this comes under the "contractual exceptions" Aaron mentioned. So does almost everything else you mentioned, really. The deacon example you gave may not be a written contract, but it is certainly implied. Although there may not be an explicit written contract, he has shown himself not to match the qualifications of a deacon.

The "institute to which we are linked" may or may not suggest any kind of contractual relationship. That does not mean there is no right to >ask< for a change -- there is always that right, I believe. It is one thing to ask, it is another to expect/demand. For that, there probably needs to be some kind of contractual obligation involved.

Mike Harding's picture

We have to remember that Chuck was placed on the board many months prior to the 20/20 program. He was simply reinstated as a result of no longer being the president of another Christian college. His reinstatement had absolutely nothing to do with with the church discipline matter. It took the executive committee by surprise. Chuck did the right thing by eventually resigning. Dr. Bob III did the right thing by accepting the resignation. I give them both credit for doing so. Better late than never. I have personally spoken directly with many of the people in this story. Unless one believes that Pastor Chuck Phelps is an unmitigated liar (which I don't), he acted thirteen years ago based on information he directly received through his personal and direct interaction with Tina, Earny, Earny's wife, and Tina's mother. As I have said before, Chuck made very serious mistakes in regard to the church discipline of these individuals and certainly left the wrong impression with many by helping Tina's mother send Tina to Colorado. If you would converse with Chuck about these matters as I have, he gives detailed reasons (some misguided via attorneys) and explanations for everything he did. For example, Tina's stepfather was currently in prison when this whole situation occurred. Her "single" mother worked fulltime for the state of New Hampshire and could not properly care for Tina at home alone especially while going through a teenage pregnancy. Tina's mother desperately pleaded for the Pastor to help her in this predicament. Pastor helped locate a good home with godly parents who were extremely kind and generous to Tina. Tina had the good character not to abort her child. Instead she had the baby and gave up the child for adoption and then returned home to her mother. There were no nefarious motives in that particular action. Also, remember that Linda Phelps, Chuck's wife, has been publicly slandered on national television in this matter. I have known Linda personally for many years. Without question she is one of the godliest, most kind, and pure Christian ladies it has ever been my fortune to know. Those who willfully, premeditatively, and deliberately slandered her on national TV and in the social media have damaged the godly testimony and reputation of a Proverbs 31 woman. The public protest enlisting the BJU students was il-advised. On line petitions were also il-advised as Dr. Doran so eloquently demonstrated. Personal letters to the administration, phone calls, withdrawal of one's child, or unwillingness to recommend the school, however, are within the bounds of proper protest, if one chooses to do so.

Pastor Mike Harding

JG's picture

Mike Harding wrote:
As I have said before, Chuck .... certainly left the wrong impression with many by helping Tina's mother send Tina to Colorado.

Yes, and yet....

If he did nothing to help change Tina's living situation before her stepfather got home, he could have been criticised as well. I can hear it now -- "He didn't even care enough to get her out of that home."

I appreciated your comments in that prior thread:

Quote:
dealing with these matters is analagous to wrestling with skunks, no matter what happens one is going come out of it smelling quite badly. Sin, particularly of this kind, is awful, ugly, repulsive, damaging, and eternally destructive.

Sin is not only a failure of love towards God, it is a failure of love towards our fellow man, because they end up being the ones that have to wrestle with the skunks. Perhaps one of the most important lessons we could all learn from this situation is the importance of keeping ourselves pure, so we don't stink up other people's lives.

One other thing that stands out in it all to me, and it comes from Romans 12:2, to which I've been giving a lot of thought in recent years. There is nothing in the Bible that says, "Thou shalt (or shalt not) send a girl to Colorado until her baby is born." There are some Biblical principles that could apply one way or another, but we just can't plug a lot of these decisions into the "obedience/disobedience to Scripture" category.

But as we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, we learn to "prove" the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. The more our thinking gets in tune with God's, the more we'll find the best way forward. Pleasing God is not simply a formulaic academic exercise of figuring out exactly what the Bible says and doing it. It is a spiritual exercise of transformation, of getting on God's wavelength so completely that we do the right thing even if memory fails and we don't intellectually remember which Scriptures and/or Biblical principles are driving our decisions.

Like the basketball player who, after years and years of chasing down rebounds, has learned to instinctively know where the ball is going to go, so we need to learn to instinctively recognise where God's Word would point us. I'm not talking about nebulous spirituality, I'm talking about Bible-driven spirituality becoming so ingrained that it drives all of our decisions. That basketball player didn't learn to anticipate rebounds by looking at the floor and guessing where they would go, he learned by watching where they go and chasing them. The more we look at where God's Word is taking us, and go there, the better we will anticipate where it is taking us even when the markings on the road aren't as clear as we might like.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this situation, to try to prepare myself for similar situations as they arise. I think that is profitable for us to do (especially as pastors). But if we rely on our mental planning, there will always be situations that we never anticipated. We're never transformed enough, always needing to be increasingly renewed in our minds, always needing to draw closer to the Lord, always needing to follow His Word in training ourselves instinctively to follow Him.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

These are good questions... I've added numbers for clarity

Rev Karl wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Of course, a leader with any sense tries to be as well informed as time allows when making a decision, and recognizes the value of counsel (and what we now call "feedback"). But if the decision is his to make, so is the decision about how much or how little to involve others in making it (True, there are contractual exceptions to this)

1. If the President of the United States commits perjury, do we have the right to tell our Constitutionally elected representatives we want him impeached?

2. If the Governor of South Carolina directs his staffers to inform the public that he is hiking the Appalachian Trail, but he is actually visiting his mistress, do the citizens of SC have the right to ask for his resignation? If he refuses to resign, do they have ther right to demand a recall vote?

3 If a pastor commits an act of immorality, do we as members of the church have the right to ask for his resignation?

4. If a deacon is made aware that his pastor has abused a child in an obvious criminal act, and that deacon chooses not to report the crime, chooses not to protect the child from future harm, but covers up the crime, do we have the right to ask for his resignation?

5. If an institution to which we are linked by attendance, membership, or otherwise, chooses to act (or not act) in a way that is not only questionable, but harmful to our own reputations by our association with the institution, do we have the right - individually or collectively - to ask for a change?

While point 3 may apply to individual congregations assembled in accordance with the instructions of Scripture, does it really apply to an educational institution? A political instituion?

(I am writing this quickly, trying to finish so I can get back to work. If my comments come accross as brusque or improper, please know that this truly is not my intent. Thank you, Bro. Aaron, for sharpening me today!)


I think we'd probably all agree that the first three are "yes" and the only remaining questions would have to do with how, in what manner, etc.

#4 ... who "we" is (in "do we have a right") determines the answer...

  • Members of the congregation: certainly (in congregational gov. In a more episcopal or presbyterian polity, this is probably still the case, there is just a different process, I assume)
  • Leaders in a denomination or association: probably yes (the authority there depends on the relationship)
  • Any citizen acting as a citizen: sort of yes, except the resignation part. A crime is involved and a citizen always has the right to report a crime.
  • Christians in general who happen to know about it or read about it online: doubtful... let each be fully persuaded in his own mind. The important thing is to think it through: What entitles me to mount a protest here? Is there a person or body who has the decision making responsibility? Is it in any way my responsibility to influence the decision? If so, does my responsibility extend beyond persuasion into methods of coercion? Why or why not?

#5 is even less clear. There are so many considerations to weigh. My point is that they have to be weighed. We can't just figure that because we know about something and don't like it, it's our job to join an effort to essentially coerce leaders to make our decisions rather than theirs. In the long run, it's better to persuade leaders to think differently rather than pressure them to act in ways they do not believe in.
This is the difference between persuasion and coercion.
There is a place for the latter, but it has to do with authority and decision-making responsibility. The Christian way is always to favor persuasion over coercion.

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