Moody Bible Institute Drops Alcohol and Tobacco Ban for Employees

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jimcarwest's picture

It grieves me to see how Moody is trying to accommodate its mores to the world.  I guess Rom. 12:1-2 no longer hold any authority in their experience.  You could expect this after the President and his son personally wrote a book which went soft on homosexuality.  D.L. Moody, James Gray, and William Culbertson must be turning over in their graves.  Now that alcohol, tatooes, and tobacco are being made legitimate for faculty and staff (who btw are supposed to be examples to the students), we can expect before long that truth will be compromised.  Moody has never been far behind Wheaton.  This is new-evangelicalism's bitter fruits.  They just said "good-bye" to a lot of donors.  I wonder how long it will be before "Ichabod" is written over "The Arch"?

TylerR's picture

Editor

The walls of separation continue to come tumbling down between formerly solid institutions and the world. I was speaking to an older Pastor this past week, and he was reminiscing about how he remembered the days when Moody used to be a solid school.  

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Todd Bowditch's picture

I'm not really interested in debating non-explicit biblical topics in this venue. But I did want to put one comment on here that agrees with Moody's decision. I think that this is a positive decision for the school. It is not the job of a parachurch organization to determine or undermine the consciences of its staff.

On a related note, the meaning of Romans 12:1-2 is best fleshed out by 1 Cor 10:31. The point of Romans 12:1 is not so much a call from worldliness as it is a plea to understand the "so-called" secular as an opportunity for the sacred. Upon conversion, all of life is means of worship.

 

May Christ Be Magnified - Philippians 1:20 Todd Bowditch

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Todd,

Is it acceptable for any non-church entity to have a code of conduct for its members?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Todd Bowditch's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Todd,

Is it acceptable for any non-church entity to have a code of conduct for its members?

Certainly, but there is a distinction between establishing a code of conduct and mandating a moral code.

Companies establish codes of conduct all the time...but they focus on issues of legality and professionalism. They regulate at-work attire/behavior/conduct, but they do not (normally) make those same decisions for the private lives of staff members (except for issues of law or egregious violations of corporate image) Moody's position seems to be more in line with this understanding of the "code."

Based on what Moody has said about the situation, they are not commanding people to do one thing or the other...they are declining to impose on other people's soul liberty. They still prohibit alcohol and tobacco for students, but they are removing themselves from establishing the minutiae with the homes of their faculty and staff.

May Christ Be Magnified - Philippians 1:20 Todd Bowditch

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Todd,

I'm a teacher at a public school. If I get arrested for solicitation one weekend, I can be fired. A sports broadcaster for our MLB team was fired for a DUI during the off-season. Institutions can and do make rules for the employees that apply to life away from work all the time. Employees know the rules before seeking employment and have no room for complaint if they get in trouble for violating the rules. I don't think Moody was in any way violating their leadership parameters with the rule the way it was, whether you agree with drinking and/or smoking or not. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jim's picture

Indifferent because:

  • Moody can set their standards. They explained = "desire to create a "high trust environment that emphasizes values, not rules," said spokeswoman Christine Gorz. Employees must adhere to all "biblical absolutes," Gorz said, but on issues where the Bible is not clear, Moody leaves it to employees' conscience."
  • Many churches - even Fundy ones - are dropping phrase "abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage" from church covenant. Why - because most do not view it as a Biblical absolute. 
  • Moody's orbit is more of the evangelical stripe and per the article total abstinence is not a sine qua non in that circle

 

Article notes:

"Policies on Christian college campuses can be trickier than other religious institutions like denominations, as some students are under the 21-year-old drinking age limit.

Forty percent of evangelical leaders said they "socially drink alcohol," according to a 2010 survey of evangelical leaders conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals. In a survey of mostly Southern Baptists, the SBC's LifeWay Research found that 29 percent of Southern Baptist congregants drink alcohol, compared with 3 percent of Southern Baptist pastors."

jimcarwest's picture

Your position seems to me entirely inconsistent.  Would it not be a violation of the "soul liberty" of students who are adults old enough to vote and get married to apply to them a standard as well?  Can you imagine the Apostol Paul asking Timothy to adopt a standard of conduct that he did not impose upon himself?  As an alumnus of MBI, I can remember times when students were expelled for much lesser "crimes"; was that a violation of their "soul liberty"?  Would you be implying that D.L. Moody, James Gray, Will Houghton, William Culbertson, and George Sweeting didn't understand they were violating Scripture by standing firm on these issues over the last 127 years?  It is commonly accepted by medical science that tobacco and alcohol are dangerous drugs.  Insurance companies require applicants to answer whether they use either of these harmful drugs.  Can it be wrong to require a code of conduct on all those who receive their salaries from Moody?  While we're on the subject of morals, here's one even harder to understand -- President Paul Nyquist and his son, Carson, relaxing standards against homosexuality, transgender sexualism , tatoos, etc. http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_ProgramDetail.aspx?id=116304
 

Todd Bowditch's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Todd,

I'm a teacher at a public school. If I get arrested for solicitation one weekend, I can be fired. A sports broadcaster for our MLB team was fired for a DUI during the off-season. Institutions can and do make rules for the employees that apply to life away from work all the time. Employees know the rules before seeking employment and have no room for complaint if they get in trouble for violating the rules. I don't think Moody was in any way violating their leadership parameters with the rule the way it was, whether you agree with drinking and/or smoking or not. 

Thanks for the interaction, Chip. I think my statement about "legal and image violations" summarizes your point. I think that its fine for a company to have those standards. Solitication and DUI's are against the law. They aren't really a good "apples to apples" comparison. I think a fairer approximation would be if a company forbade its employees to drink soda. Soda can have negative health impacts, but its not a clear-cut moral issue. I don't know of any company (though there are probably exceptions) that has a code of conduct that delves into such specific and irrelevant issues to the company image.

May Christ Be Magnified - Philippians 1:20 Todd Bowditch

Todd Bowditch's picture

jimcarwest wrote:

Your position seems to me entirely inconsistent.  Would it not be a violation of the "soul liberty" of students who are adults old enough to vote and get married to apply to them a standard as well?  Can you imagine the Apostol Paul asking Timothy to adopt a standard of conduct that he did not impose upon himself?  As an alumnus of MBI, I can remember times when students were expelled for much lesser "crimes"; was that a violation of their "soul liberty"?  Would you be implying that D.L. Moody, James Gray, Will Houghton, William Culbertson, and George Sweeting didn't understand they were violating Scripture by standing firm on these issues over the last 127 years?  It is commonly accepted by medical science that tobacco and alcohol are dangerous drugs.  Insurance companies require applicants to answer whether they use either of these harmful drugs.  Can it be wrong to require a code of conduct on all those who receive their salaries from Moody?  While we're on the subject of morals, here's one even harder to understand -- President Paul Nyquist and his son, Carson, relaxing standards against homosexuality, transgender sexualism , tatoos, etc. http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_ProgramDetail.aspx?id=116304
 

Jim, the homosexual issue is a different topic and not relevant to this conversation. Moody's stance on homosexuality has no logical (in the formalized reasoning sense of the word) connection to the topic of alcohol and tobacco.

Insurance companies (one of which I work for) also require information about State of birth, participation in boxing, current insurance coverage, and prescription drugs that are being taken. Their desire for this information (or any information) does not have any attached morality. Tobacco does have a rate increase because there are definite health consequences for even moderate usage. That being said, obesity is just a frequently a factor in higher premium costs. Alcohol does not have any affect on rates. Excessive use of alcohol (exclusively limited to DUI/OWI) does impact premium figures.

Furthermore, the harmfulness of something that does necessarily equate to its morality. Ski-jumping is very dangerous...but not immoral. Pumpkin pie is almost 400 calories a slice (with whipped topping!)...quite harmful...but not an issue of morality.

I am not implying anything about Moody, Houghton, etc...they were godly men who held positions that they believed were right.

Lastly, neither Moody or myself are being inconsistent. The issue is not so much whether a college/company can regulate issues on its campus. The issue is whether the college gets to follow its faculty home and regulate their lives. Moody has graciously stated that they are not the God-ordained baby-sitters of their faculty and staff. While they are on campus, students, faculty, and staff are to be alcohol and tobacco free. The campus is alcohol and tobacco free. There is no inconsistency in this division of regulations. For example, A company can require a dress code for their on the clock-employees...they might even regulate what they can wear when they show-up at work prior to starting for the day. But companies do not regulate clothing choices in their employee's homes.

May Christ Be Magnified - Philippians 1:20 Todd Bowditch

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Todd,

My district can also fire me for getting my face tatooed like Mike Tyson. The military will no longer enlist people with tatoos above the neckline of their clothing. It's the same difference. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Todd Bowditch's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Todd,

My district can also fire me for getting my face tatooed like Mike Tyson. The military will no longer enlist people with tatoos above the neckline of their clothing. It's the same difference. 

A facial tattoo cannot be covered up. It definitely falls under the "image of the company" idea. Companies/colleges/school districts are free to make any "on the clock" rules that they want to make. But that is far different from regulating the minutiaie of their employee's home life. That is what Moody's policy states as their motivation for the policy.

And I apologize for being unclear in my first response to you. A code of conduct can be established by a college...but areas of Christian liberty should never be couched as absolute moral truths. On a personal level, I prefer a more minimalistic code of conduct for colleges. Adults should be treated like adults. Issues of christian liberty are often simplified by a code of conduct...but they should be couched as institutional rules rather than moral rules.

That is different from the point that i brought up to Jim about soul liberty as it relates to off-campus life. I should have made a better effort to distinguish the concepts. The school should not be that intrusive into the homes of their staff. I applaud Moody for recognizing that their authority stops at the edge of campus.

May Christ Be Magnified - Philippians 1:20 Todd Bowditch

jimcarwest's picture

Let's suppose that you are the Dean of a Christian college.  You can indeed regulate moral conduct and code of ethics on your campus.  But suppose your students go home at Christmas or in the summer and drink and use tobacco or drugs, do you have the right to exclude them from returning to school as long as they agree to live by the rules "while on campus"?  Seems to me that your reasoning breaks down.  You lose the disciplinary authority of your school.  You also make yourself look ridiculous to the students.

 

My mention of homosexuality was not to equate this sin with the practice of drinking or using tobacco.  It was simply to say that the leadership at Moody at present is responsible for this confusion and for the shame that many of us think is being brought on a good school.

 

The former leaders at Moody didn't just "think they were right."  They based their thinking on solid biblical principles: (1) abuse of personal liberty that causes a weaker brother to sin, (2) all things may be lawful, but all things are not expedient, (3) not bringing reproach on the body of Christ, (4) spiritual leaders are more accountable to God than others -- just to name a few.  It seems that current leadership now has repudiated those principles.

So where will Moody go from here?  Will this trend that preceded liberal theology at Wheaton now lead to the same liberalizing of theology at Moody? 

And one last point, I hardly think that the regulation of alcohol by Christian leaders may be equated with rules about clothing one may wear at home.  Even that goes a bit far in my estimation.

T Howard's picture

jimcarwest wrote:

Let's suppose that you are the Dean of a Christian college.  You can indeed regulate moral conduct and code of ethics on your campus.  But suppose your students go home at Christmas or in the summer and drink and use tobacco or drugs, do you have the right to exclude them from returning to school as long as they agree to live by the rules "while on campus"? 

I'm not Todd, but what students do while they are at home under the purview of their parents is none of my business as dean of a Christian college, as long as they don't bring it back with them to college. This reminds me of a "questionnaire" I was required to complete to enroll my daughter at a local IFB Christian day school. The questionnaire asked whether my daughter wore pants at home or whether she listened to CCM at home. I replied it was none of the school's business what my daughter wore or listened to while at home. We would make sure she obeyed the standards of the school while she was at school or at a school function, but the school had no authority or say about what she wears or listens to in our home. The principle didn't like that response, but tough. I could just as easily enroll her in another Christian school or home school her rather than put up with that intrusive craziness.

This also reminds me of my days at PCC when the school administration required all working-aged children of the staff/faculty to work for "the ministry" during the summer.  Not only that, but spouses of staff/faculty were not given the option of staying at home. They, too, had to work for "the ministry" and use the daycare services provided by "the ministry." This is all craziness.

jimcarwest wrote:
 The former leaders at Moody didn't just "think they were right."  They based their thinking on solid biblical principles: (1) abuse of personal liberty that causes a weaker brother to sin, (2) all things may be lawful, but all things are not expedient, (3) not bringing reproach on the body of Christ, (4) spiritual leaders are more accountable to God than others -- just to name a few.  It seems that current leadership now has repudiated those principles.

Perhaps the current leaders at Moody don't want to be the Christian liberty police like the former leaders.

Todd Bowditch's picture

jimcarwest wrote:

Let's suppose that you are the Dean of a Christian college.  You can indeed regulate moral conduct and code of ethics on your campus.  But suppose your students go home at Christmas or in the summer and drink and use tobacco or drugs, do you have the right to exclude them from returning to school as long as they agree to live by the rules "while on campus"?  Seems to me that your reasoning breaks down.  You lose the disciplinary authority of your school.  You also make yourself look ridiculous to the students.

Jim, if I were Dean at a Christian college, I would expect students to comply with the institutional rules on campus. That being said, I would make sure that the rules reflected the grace of the Gospel and the diversity of God's people. I would have no problem with students choosing to not comply with the school's code once they were unenrolled and off-campus. There is nothing ridiculous about allowing adults to live out the Christ-life within the bounds of Scripture and the realm of liberty. It is a sad mockery of 1 Corinthians to claim that a single interpretation of any liberty issue is the only right interpretation.

jimcarwest wrote:

My mention of homosexuality was not to equate this sin with the practice of drinking or using tobacco.  It was simply to say that the leadership at Moody at present is responsible for this confusion and for the shame that many of us think is being brought on a good school.

My point was the homosexuality issue was a non-sequitur for this discussion. It may provide some context in your mind. But for the sake of clarity, I wanted to make sure that we weren't using an administrator's personal writings on homosexuality to categorize/mis-categorize the institutional removal of policies against alcohol and tobacco.

jimcarwest wrote:

The former leaders at Moody didn't just "think they were right."  They based their thinking on solid biblical principles: (1) abuse of personal liberty that causes a weaker brother to sin, (2) all things may be lawful, but all things are not expedient, (3) not bringing reproach on the body of Christ, (4) spiritual leaders are more accountable to God than others -- just to name a few.  It seems that current leadership now has repudiated those principles.

That would be a point at which we disagree, I fear. Moody had many admirable qualities and an unshakeable passion for Christ, that being said, he was not known for the cohesiveness of his theological system. I believe that you are right to call these "principles" for principles must be interpreted. These are not direct commands, but living, breathing principles that Christians must wrestle with individually. This is perhaps the crux of the discussion. I think that they thought they were right...you think that they were right....we probably can't make much headway on this point.
 

1) Abuse of a weak conscience that limits the freedom in Christ...Paul said, "eat the meat" and "let others eat the meat if you can't"

2) All things are not expedient, but they are not unlawful. In the context of the discussion, it appears that eating meat in the temple proper in the presence of a weaker brother was not expedient....not the actual eating of the meat.

3) The body of Christ is not reproached by the issue of alcohol or tobacco. The body of Christ is reproached by the abuse of alcohol and tobacco. The body of Christ is reproached by gluttony, obesity, gossip, hypocrisy, self-righteousness.

4) spiritual leaders are more accountable. That is why Paul told Timothy to "take a little wine" but to not "be given to much wine"

We obviously disagree on our 4 points. My point is not to argue against yours, but merely to show the opposing side of those principles. The fact is that we often want principles to say or mean something that they didn't mean to originally. I would suggest that my interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7-10 is better than yours...but I imagine that you feel the same in reverse.

jimcarwest wrote:

So where will Moody go from here?  Will this trend that preceded liberal theology at Wheaton now lead to the same liberalizing of theology at Moody? 

I don't know where Moody will go. But I can say that Wheaton has not gone into "liberal theology." They still affirm the fundamentals of the faith. They are definitely more broadly evangelical than some would like, but that does not make them liberal in their theology.

jimcarwest wrote:

And one last point, I hardly think that the regulation of alcohol by Christian leaders may be equated with rules about clothing one may wear at home.  Even that goes a bit far in my estimation.

Of course, but that is the point of our disagreement. It's either a moral issue of a non-moral issue. You believe its moral and absolute; I believe that its non-moral and a matter of liberty.

May Christ Be Magnified - Philippians 1:20 Todd Bowditch

Joel Shaffer's picture

So where will Moody go from here?  Will this trend that preceded liberal theology at Wheaton now lead to the same liberalizing of theology at Moody? 

I think we need to be careful to assume that this rule change will result in a slippery slope of compromise.  For instance, under Joe Stowell's leadership, a few years ago Cornerstone did the exact same thing with their policy as Moody, allowing their professors to drink in moderation.  The same concerns were raised, including the slippery slope logical fallacy.  Interestingly enough, a liberal Bible/ministry professor was hired at Cornerstone about 4 years before Cornerstone decided to do away with the alcohol rule for teachers.   She taught that doing good works was the gospel of Jesus Christ, and taught in her youth ministry class that women choosing motherhood over a career were wasting their lives, among other things.  (It wasn't until later did she show her liberal tendencies)   Despite Cornerstone dropping their alcohol taboo for professors, Dr. Stowell actually has lead Cornerstone in a conservative theological direction.   Stowell has clearly emphasized the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the importance of local church.    Stowell has also brought back a strong chapel ministry on campus.  Under the previous administration, the gospel had become deluted, the local church minimized, and its chapel almost non-existent.    As these changes were being made, this certain liberal professor saw the writing on the wall and left.  

We need to be extremely careful not to jump to conclusions that this decision will result in a chain of events leading to the demise of an institution.   

jimcarwest's picture

It seems that one can't have it both ways, implying that the earlier founders of Moody might have misinterpreted the application of certain principles of personal sanctification, but that now the current leaders have every right to re-interpret them to fit with what is accepted by a decadent modern culture.  Scriptural injunctions against the danger of alcohol are pretty plain. 

A Christian institution, such as a church or school, is certainly within its bounds to require a certain application of Scripture to its operation.  It seems that Paul held this view in 1 Cor. 5:11, where the lifestyle of a believer is subject to the discipline of the body of believers.  Such a verse certainly applied to all the believer's time, not just to when he was assembled with other believers.  Certainly, if a person does not agree with the standards of a Christian institution, he has the liberty to leave and be identified with another institution of his choosing.  No one denies a person that liberty. 

The point of this discussion about Moody, in my opinion, is whether the school has the right to expect a certain standard of conduct from those who are deemed spiritual leaders (faculty/staff) and exemplary models of the institution. By extension it might include whether believers should financially support Moody since it has changed its position on these issues.   It might also be about whether a school, dedicated to the training of Christian leaders has the right to expect a certain standard of discipline and conduct from those it is training at its own expense, but at great cost to donors.  It is really not about the liberty of believers to use alcohol or tobacco privately, which it must be admitted, has no explicit prohibition in Scripture.

I feel sure that a great number, not to say the majority, of churches follow these principles in their own operation.  I think most pastors of fundamentalist churches expect and even require staff and deacons to comply with the code of conduct of the church in their daily lives and not just when they are present in church services.  I think most congregations expect their pastors to do the same.  So what is so strange that a Christian college might do likewise? 

Jeffrey Dean's picture

Moody has made a great choice.  Trusting Moody faculty to walk out their faith in accordance with their own conscience and beliefs is a great step in making mature believers.  I (We) don't need other believers to outline a code-of-conduct for me that makes me acceptable to the group.  I carry the very presence of God inside me.  Father God loves me as much as He loves Jesus.  Holiness is not pointing to what I will not do.  Holiness is not compliance with a list of prohibited activity.  Institutional rules for order are wholly acceptable.  Extra biblical prohibitions that follow you home are just fear based meddling.  Good on Moody and others for realizing the obvious.  

Todd Bowditch's picture

jimcarwest wrote:

It seems that one can't have it both ways, implying that the earlier founders of Moody might have misinterpreted the application of certain principles of personal sanctification, but that now the current leaders have every right to re-interpret them to fit with what is accepted by a decadent modern culture.  Scriptural injunctions against the danger of alcohol are pretty plain. 

A Christian institution, such as a church or school, is certainly within its bounds to require a certain application of Scripture to its operation.  It seems that Paul held this view in 1 Cor. 5:11, where the lifestyle of a believer is subject to the discipline of the body of believers.  Such a verse certainly applied to all the believer's time, not just to when he was assembled with other believers.  Certainly, if a person does not agree with the standards of a Christian institution, he has the liberty to leave and be identified with another institution of his choosing.  No one denies a person that liberty. 

The point of this discussion about Moody, in my opinion, is whether the school has the right to expect a certain standard of conduct from those who are deemed spiritual leaders (faculty/staff) and exemplary models of the institution. By extension it might include whether believers should financially support Moody since it has changed its position on these issues.   It might also be about whether a school, dedicated to the training of Christian leaders has the right to expect a certain standard of discipline and conduct from those it is training at its own expense, but at great cost to donors.  It is really not about the liberty of believers to use alcohol or tobacco privately, which it must be admitted, has no explicit prohibition in Scripture.

I feel sure that a great number, not to say the majority, of churches follow these principles in their own operation.  I think most pastors of fundamentalist churches expect and even require staff and deacons to comply with the code of conduct of the church in their daily lives and not just when they are present in church services.  I think most congregations expect their pastors to do the same.  So what is so strange that a Christian college might do likewise? 

Jim, thanks for developing your thoughts...I have a better understanding of where you're going with this. I don't have the time to address your post in detail, but I think our conversation hinges upon what place we think a Christian college has.

You seem to be suggesting that it is much more of an ecclesiastical position. You believe that the church has the right to limit Christian liberty ( and I don't disagree, but I would guess that I have a more nuanced position in some ways). By extension, you suggest that Moody does have the right and, dare I say, obligation to regulate the liberty of its staff.

I believe that only a church can operate with the authority of a church. A college is a business/ministry that does not operate with the authority of a church. I do not believe that Moody can claim ecclesiastical authority in this situation...they have no right to claim that. That being said, I also believe that a church should not regulate Christian liberty, but promote grace and humility in all things. A healthy church has unity through the diversity of its members. The church unites people around the Gospel and the clear teachings of Scripture.

Does that make sense? I believe that we disagree on how to classify the authority of a school. We also disagree on what authority a church should exercise. Even if Moody has the authority of a church, I don't believe it would have authority in these areas... fair enough?

May Christ Be Magnified - Philippians 1:20 Todd Bowditch

jimcarwest's picture

I agree with you that a school does not have the same authority as a church.  A Christian school, however, is an extension of a church's ministry for training Christian workers, like a Mission Board is an extension of the church for doing the work of world evangelization.  It is the church that should hold its servant ministries to account. 

My point has to do with the fact that Moody does not charge tuition; it freely provides education to its students.  This is provided by the donations of Christians who are dedicated to the mission of the school.  Those donors come from a variety of churches with varying convictions on the kinds of issues we are discussing.  It seems to me a wise policy for Moody to maintain a very strict standard so as not to alienate its constituency of supporters who most generally do not agree with the use of alcohol and tobacco, along with perhaps other practices.  If the school changes its long-held position of these matters, it should certainly expect that its donors may object.  It may also expect that its graduates who lived under the ethical rules of the past may feel that Moody is compromising its positions.

It seems to me that people who work and minister in an environment where a strict code of ethics is practiced would not believe they should change the institution in order to keep their jobs.  It's a wide world, and people are free to seek employment and ministry where they are happy and at peace.  It is something like a church being changed in its core convictions by people who are willing to upend the ministry and risk the damage that follows just so they can pursue their own agenda.  Something like this is happening at Moody it appears.

Thanks for your insights.

Mike Harding's picture

Jim,

 

Thanks for your comments.  I am in agreement with you.  It is very sad to see the compromise at Moody on these issues.  It is also hypocritical to say that the faculty can smoke and drink, but not on campus.  If smoking and drinking are such innocent activities, why prohibit their practice on campus?  Also, it is the height of inconsistency to say that the faculty can smoke and drink, but the students can't, age notwithstanding.  What's next?  The modern dance, all manner of body piercing and tattooing, recreational marihuana, abandonment of dress and grooming standards?  It's all coming to a school near you.  This is good news, however, for NIU.  Now they can distinguish themselves clearly from Moody, Wheaton, Cornerstone.  For how long though?  It seems to me that the trend is downward in many schools.  Thank God for those Christian institutions which are not going with the flow of our increasingly decadent culture.

Pastor Mike Harding

DavidO's picture

If smoking and drinking are such innocent activities, why prohibit their practice on campus?

Romans 14 springs to mind.

DavidO's picture

Certainly.  Yet we dare not chuck the former for the latter, and we must inquire diligently of what elements are expressly listed in the former, for it may be helpful in determining our understanding of the latter.

Mike Harding's picture

I strongly suggest that one read Dr. Mark Snoeberger's treatment of Roman's 14 at dbts.edu before invoking it here.

Pastor Mike Harding

DavidO's picture

I've read it in the past and just skim-scanned it a bit.  Are you playing it as a trump card or shall we discuss it?

DavidO's picture

[Romans 14] calls most narrowly for the relinquishment of liberties explicitly stated in
Scripture (which I have labeled “real” rights). By argument from the greater to the lesser, however, it seems quite legitimate to suggest that believers be willing to relinquish “liberties” either inferred from Scripture or assumed apart from Scripture (which I have labeled “perceived” rights). In fact, I should be even more willing to relinquish the latter because of their more tenuous identity as “rights.” I might be convinced by some Scripture inference that it is acceptable to play cards or relax with a good movie, but these are not rights worth fighting over, and they surely should not be maintained to the spiritual detriment of my brother. 
This does not mean that all Christians need to revert to the strictest common denominator and automatically give up movies, playing cards, etc., etc., merely because a single believer adheres to such strictures. However, it does mean that we should be willing to forfeit these perceived rights if continuance in them would cause a brother to violate his conscience, sin against God, and thus pollute his worship.

(Snoeberger, from footnote 62, p 15.)

Let's assume Snoeberger is right on every point in the paper.  He himself is nevertheless willing to open it up a bit, arguing, as he puts it, "from greater to lesser" and apply the general principles to situations not directly within the tightly focused view he argues Paul holds.

So, if the administration of Moody recognizes that some faculty view sipping wine at dinner and smoking a pipe afterward as rights inferred from scripture while others think it unwise and still other think it oughtright sin, would it not be a proper use of Romans 14 and even consistent with Snoeberger for said administration to allow those activities, but exclude them from campus where those with scruples might be damaged?

 

Dan Miller's picture

Mike Harding wrote:

I strongly suggest that one read Dr. Mark Snoeberger's treatment of Roman's 14 at dbts.edu before invoking it here.

Still available through old SI site.

Joel Shaffer's picture

 It may also expect that its graduates who lived under the ethical rules of the past may feel that Moody is compromising its positions.

Jim, 

My wife is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute 1995 with an urban ministry degree.  Both She and I are inner-city missionaries in Grand Rapids MI.  She does not believe Moody is compromising.  My brother-in-law is a pastor of a large GARBC church in the Grand Rapids area.  He is a graduate of one of Moody's first seminary classes about 20 years ago.  He does not believe that Moody is compromising.  My point is that there are many more than you think within conservative evangelicalism and even fundamentalism that do not see this as compromise, but rather Biblical discernment.

jimcarwest's picture

I believe you might need to explain what you mean by biblical discernment.  What it doesn't necessarily mean is "majority opinion," which you might be implying.  I think if you would go back sixty-five years ago in my generation, you might find that those of that generation "discerned" the matter differently.  And if you went back 500 years to the Reformation period, the matter we are discussing might have been view even differently.   So is "discernment" purely a generational thing, or does it not involve understanding clearly the Bible's commands and examples and the principles that grow out of these.  Just saying...

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