Statement from BJU’s President on the GRACE Report

Haven’t read the GRACE report, but the statement from BJU’s pres. certainly sounds like they are headed in the right direction with it all.

CT has an article today about it but there is no new information.

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.

John Piper drew attention to the release of the report and praised it on his FB wall this morning. I was pretty surprised to see it, but since Piper’s dad was heavily involved with the school, I shouldn’t have been.

Of course, most of the reaction I’m seeing online has been decidedly….uncharitable. To put it mildly.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin 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

I watched Steve Pettit’s statement yesterday about the GRACE report. I thought he did very well, was humble, and sincerely apologetic. I have been around him many times in the past so what I saw out of him yesterday was not surprising to me. What I saw from him was par for the course from him personally.

However, to hear something like that out of Bob Jones University was surprising. The words “BJU” and “humility” do not often go together in the same sentence. BJU isn’t exactly known for communicating well to the general public … (Cough, BJ3, cough, race issue). But yesterday was one of those times where BJU did the right thing in the right way.

I think Pettit is the best thing that has happened to BJU in years. A well needed breath of fresh air and fresh perspective.

I think Pettit will bring new life to BJU and a much needed & well past due air of grace and humility.


Of course, most of the reaction I’m seeing online has been decidedly….uncharitable. To put it mildly.


As Greg Easton puts it, most of those people bashing BJU have only one goal in mind, the closure of BJU. Nothing less will satisfy them. It is their reason for living. Anything less than BJIII, Stephen, and Pettit coming to bow down at their feet and closing the school just won’t do. They will never, ever be satisfied with BJU no matter what it does.

On the other hand, some of the negative backlash against BJU is their own chickens coming home to roost. Even as a BJU graduate I will say BJU is not exactly known for being characterized by grace and humility. I saw much of that first hand including from The Third himself.

There will always be the malcontents and misfits with any organization. But the way BJU has historically conducted itself I believe has made its hate group larger and more vocal than it needed to be. Some of what we are seeing out of this group is BJU’s own fault.

I happy to hear and see what Pettit is doing at BJU. Very much a good thing.

I’m not a BJU grad, so I speak as an outsider, but how realistic and helpful are the below final recommendations of the GRACE report?

- Basically disown BJ3, James Berg, Bob Wood, and Walter Fremont

- Build a memorial to abuse victims

- Outsource all sexual abuse counseling


I think Pettit is the best thing that has happened to BJU in years. A well needed breath of fresh air and fresh perspective.

I think Pettit will bring new life to BJU and a much needed & well past due air of grace and humility.

As admirable as Pettit might be early on here, let’s not be so quick to overlook the role Stephen Jones played in initiating this process in the first place. Much of the groundwork for these expressions of grace and humility was laid on his watch.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

It is my understanding, from multiple reliable sources, that Marshall Franklin was the driving force behind the GRACE report happening. I would have thought that Stephen was also a key factor in that, but, after he and Larry Jackson signed off on their ill-advised letter that fired GRACE earlier this year, I feel less comfortable with giving him any credit.…

“Dr. Jones, III has also repeatedly demonstrated a significant lack of understanding regarding the many painful dynamics associated with sexual abuse,” the report states. “Due to the central role Dr. Jones, III played in the many issues outlined within this report, it is recommended that the university impose personnel action upon Dr. Jones, III.”Randy Page, a spokesman for BJU, said the university would be evaluations personnel recommendations and all other recommendations within 90 days. Jones remains chancellor at the university founded by his grandfather.The report also says James Berg, a former dean of students, was largely responsible for failing the respond adequately to reports of sexual abuse and recommends that he no longer be allowed to teach on any issue related to sexual abuse and that he no longer be allowed to counsel students.The BJU website lists Berg as teaching crisis counseling and says he has been teaching Christian counselors for 30 years. Berg told GRACE investigators that he had counseled between 200 and 300 sexual abuse victims in his years as dean of students, from 1981 until 2010, yet had no formal training.He said he had on-the-job training in addition to reading books and articles and attending a conference. His style of counseling was criticized by several victims who said he asked rapid-fire and personal questions such as whether they had been drinking or had been involved with the man before.The report also recommends that Berg’s books and other materials no longer be sold by BJU, both online or in its bookstore.

After “The Fortress of Faith,” as Easton calls it, has completed their 90-day review of GRACE’s report, I think they will do the following. Speculation, I know.

1 The Third & Berg are now toxic to BJU. I think The Third will resign as Chancellor and Berg will be sent to the Eastern front. j/k! I think Berg will shifted to another position on campus and removed from any kind of counseling position. If BJU leaves The Third and Berg alone their apology will ring hollow and rightly viewed as hypocritical. Pettit is in a tough spot politically with this recommendation by GRACE but if he doesn’t do anything his reputation as BJU’s president will be damaged substantially.

2 I think Berg and Freemont’s publications will quietly disappear from BJU’s store and maybe reappear sometime later having been updated and modified to provide greater clarity about how to correctly counsel abuse. This may not happen though since it is now known that Berg had little formal training and no certification on this subject and again, there is now a toxic stigma to him and his materials that will not go away for some time. I do not think Berg was intentional about his counseling methods all those years, but with no formal training on this issue what we are now reading in the report isn’t a surprise. I think BJU’s historical negative attitude towards accreditation and dare I say, arrogance, is biting them in the behind now.

2 The memorial idea seems a little much to me. Don’t think that will happen.

3 BJU will move to have accredited and certified counselors on staff assigned to handle these abuse cases.

4 BJU will separate the student life and counseling activities into two separate offices.

5 What I would like to see is a follow-up apology statement of some kind from Berg since he and his materials are named significantly in the GRACE report.

6 The same goes for The Third.

7 I would be surprised if 5 & 6 will happen. The Third and Berg are no Pettit.

A couple thoughts:

1. I think Steve Pettit is a good man. That being said, his apology was mostly, to use the current vernacular, a non-pology. While it did have some strong and commendable statements in it (“We failed to uphold and honor our own core values.”), it was so riddled with “some felt”s and “some believed”s that it came across as insincere and offensive to the victims, the very people it should have been primarily directed to. Personally, I sense that Steve Pettit, despite the fact that he played no part in the abuses that were committed by the university, is sincerely sorry and genuinely wants to make changes; unfortunately, I suspect that, for liability reasons, his statement was given a heavy dose of “lawyering up” before it was allowed to go public.

2. You might want to consider a better source of information on the university than Greg Easton. That’s just my humble advice.

I have debated on whether to say anything, but here goes. Read it if you want to. Let me start by reminding that I am not a BJU grad. I have never been to BJU either. But I know many BJU grads. Let me say that I took a lot of time yesterday and read most of the report. Other parts I skimmed.

1- Perhaps I am wrong about this but I think Jim was essentially correct. There really isn’t much in the report. For all of the hype by anti-BJU people I expected something really dramatic. Don’t get me wrong, one assault is bad, but evil is in the world, even at BJU. People commit crimes and cover up crimes too.

2- I was surprised how several of the “assaults” were people touching others. I realize that touching is inappropriate. I realize it is bad. I think it is totally not allowed. But, for all of the hype about how there was scandal brewing beneath the “evil darkness” of BJU, this is relatively minor stuff. Does that make me sound really bad? Don’t get me wrong, inappropriate touching should be dealt with, but is it a crime? For minors, ok. A 20 year guy rubs a 20 year old woman at the library…this is not a scandal but a dufus that needs to be counseled or expelled, not arrested.

3- I know BJU is Christian and has a history with some people, but I was expecting more given my own experiences. The college I work at is being investigated by the Dept of Education for not handling a full blown rape in the dorm correctly. Another college in Kansas, KU, is under investigation for “systemic” negligence in handling sexual assault accusations.

4- As far as I can tell there was not one accusation in the report of an active student raping another active student. Name another college in the country that has 5000+ students that can say that over the course of 40 years? Perspective?

5- Even with the youth camps and BJU Academy the only accusations I read with youth were “touching”, rather than more aggressive violations. I can tell you the college I work with has had problems with summer youth activities in the past…way worse than what is mentioned in this report.

6- Dealing with students reporting assaults as a child is tough. I agree BJU completely blew that.

7- Jim Berg’s defense was repeatedly “ignorance”. Odd. But, I have done things professionally (not couseling) that I later look back on and think “what was I doing?”).

8- I thought some of the remedies were weird and unrealistic. A memorial? Seems odd. Pay for the victim’s education? Why? Seems a little excessive. Reject wholesale BJIII, Berg, et al. That would be tough.

9- Jim Berg came out of this really looking bad. I get he was the main counselor. But what strikes me is how “counseling” is becoming as regulated profession. Only a person who is licensed with a PhD in counseling can give advice? Whatever.

Second, I found myself wondering this, is BJU or ANY COLLEGE required to give free psychological counseling to sexual assault victims? It is one thing to help someone move on from now to the future in a kind of mentoring sense, it is another to deal with past issues. That seems to me to be the responsibility of the person not the college. Maybe the problem is BJU got involved at all and actively isolated students. I saw Dr Berg’s position as a mentor (and as Dean of Students a disciplinary agent) rather than a professional counselor. Yet the report holds him up like he was a fraud counselor.

10- One final thought is the role of Christian ministry versus counseling. Remember the old 1980s lawsuit against Grace Community Church? What does this report say about that? Seems to me this report REJECTS the notion that anyone other than licensed counselor do anything with sexual assault victims.

I finished reading the entire GRACE report last night. I am still processing what I have read. I have some preliminary observations to what I have read. I am open to changing these points of view:

Positive responses:

1. I commend both BJU and GRACE for their desire to minister to individuals who have been sinned against. This past month, in my ministry, I have talked with two adults who were victims of abuse. I wept with them, I have tried to help them and will continue to help them. I believe that helping those who have been abused sexually will become a regular part of our ministries in the future. SUGGESTION: perhaps SI could have some forums dealing with this issue in the future?

2. I appreciate the biblical admonitions and helps that GRACE has put in their evaluation sections throughout this report. I plan on using much of this advice in my own ministry.

3. I am somewhat relieved that GRACE did not uncover a ‘conspiracy’ of corruption at BJU. I did not read of any deliberate attempt by BJU to cover up sexual sin like I have seen in IFB circles.

4. I grieve for those who have been sexually abused and I thank those who were courageous enough to talk with the GRACE team.

Negative Responses:

1. I can not help but feel like GRACE has a bias that colors their own ministry. This bias is seen in at least two of their recommendations: a) a memorial should be raised at BJU for those who have suffered as a result of inadequate ministry in this area. REALLY? How about raising memorials to those who had a bad teacher or heard an unbiblical sermon, or who suffered from the school’s racial dating policy, or ….. b) counsel given only by certified councilors (this could become a separate forum topic for SI). GRACE clearly believes that those who have been sinned against by a sexual predator can only be helped by a professional (while I am not against using professional help, I do believe that their is great merit in local church, Ephesians 4-5 ministry).

2. I personally have grown in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ through the ministry of Dr. Bob Jones III and Dr. Jim Berg (I was never under Bob Wood’s ministry). My “gut” reaction to having these godly men censored is bad. I know these men to be humble servants of Jesus Christ. It is not my place to defend them in this area (the GRACE report). I may not have reacted the same way that they did; but ultimately, I believe that these men are faithful servants of the Lord. I do not pretend to know all the details about their ministry to those who have been sexually abused; but I observed Dr. Bob and Jim for nearly 45 years and have never been ashamed to call them my brother in Christ and faithful (yet imperfect) ministers of the Gospel.

Net Responses:

1. I will be praying for BJU and for those who have been sinned against through sexual abuse. Many difficult choices lay ahead for everyone involved.

2. I trust that as a result of GRACE’s ministry, BJU will be able to minister more effectively and biblically in the future.

3. I trust that those who have been hurt by BJU’s attempt to minister will be able to experience the grace of God and enjoy the relationship with Jesus Christ that is our heritage as saints.

Question first: Jim Berg. How old? He is a Dr. how?

Comment: Memorial is a really over the top idea.

Nasty comment: Voodoo counseling. Eg. “Did you feel pleasure?”.

One more: The missionary representative who still has a job … this guy should be fired and out of the vocational ministry