The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
A sermon from the previous October on Acts continued to ring in my head. It was one of those room-spinning moments. Surely God didn’t want us to leave! I know now that He was holding our hand through the dark tunnel and, at times, yanking us through to the safe side. Just like a toddler who digs in his heels, we didn’t believe leaving would be best. Surely not! But like I learned way back when, God loves us and He carries us through to His best.
The rest of the semester was brutal. We had several painful meetings. It’s all too personal to describe here. I was just glad that it was over come Convocation.
But it wasn’t over at all.
Grant and I were called to a meeting the second week after school let out, this time in the Administration Building’s “holy of holies” with BJU’s first- and second-in-command, Stephen Jones and Gary Weier. Were we scared? You betcha.
The tone of the meeting was very, very cordial. I was asked to take down a blog post on an old, abandoned xanga blog. I agreed and did so immediately following the meeting. Now, I mentioned in this meeting that I had recently edited the post to remove a particular person‘s name. I had heard from Monica Raab about a phone call she’d received from Jim Berg. Jim had explained to Monica at length how frustrated he was with me. I had a range of emotions at that time — from anger to disgust to hurt to complete confusion to finally sheer pity (to be so obsessed with me!). I had an email all written to him to say that “a little bird told me that you were frustrated by this blog post. I don’t want to add to your busy load. I’ve removed your name. Take care!” But I never sent it. I just edited the post. I figured that it would only fan the flames.
With or without Jim Berg’s name explicitly listed, the blog post was too controversial to keep up, I was told. They were getting “several” letters about it. To their credit, they advised one letter-writer, Matt Walker, to go to me personally and discuss his concerns. He went to Grant (not me) and shied away pretty quickly from any actual discussion of the issues. I was now recognizing a recurring pattern of behavior in the culture: avoid controversy, avoid discussion, and avoid women.
The second thing on the agenda was presented as follows: “We still need to resolve this disagreement, so we’d like you to write a statement of your position.”
Grant turned very practical and asked pointed questions in follow-up emails. A statement on our position on what exactly? “Your position on sin.” Sin? Our position on sin?? What’s that mean? What’s that? You quote Romans 3 and maybe a couple of confessions, and you’re done, right? ::shrug::
Grant pressed for further clarification. “Your position on sin in the Christian life.” was the response. Ah. Gotcha. I had been clued in by another friend that those within that Chaferian view of sanctification believe that the standard “historical Protestant” (a euphemism for “Reformed”) position was “perfectionist.” Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. They were obviously trying to be vague enough, it seems, to uh . . . well, give us enough rope to hang ourselves.
What Stephen and Gary really wanted, whether they knew it or not (and what we actually presented) was our view of sanctification. So we took a step back and set our sites on writing more of a “big-picture” document.
How would any of you feel if put into that kind of a position? We all know our theology in an “under the fingernails” sort of way: it’s woven into the moments of our lives and lived out in daily practicality. How many of us are ready to present a theological document that will stand up to the scrutiny of trained seminarians? Grant and I had four years of Bible classes under our belt, hardly a comprehensive view of systematic theology. But what I do know about is rhetoric, and I know from my friends trained in both rhetoric and religion that a good hermeneutic in one looks an awful lot like a good hermeneutic in the other.
Since I still had a task to accomplish, I did what any good researcher would do: I collected good sources and started writing. Right at that moment and through His providential care, God sent a complete stranger — or rather a friend I hadn’t met yet — to help. Chuck Hervas, BJU Board Member, passed along a document that proved to be our chief resource. It was exactly what I was praying we’d find — a conservative, fundamental Baptist source. Anyway, I know Chuck has read here, and I just wanted to tell him again how thankful I am for him and his listening to the Spirit’s prompting.
I wrote a rough draft, and then Grant dug in. We went through the usual back-and-forth approach we take with our joint writing projects. Then we had some friends read the document. An M.Div from Westminster. A few BJ Seminary grads. Another theology Ph.D. Other well-informed friends. One said quite concisely: “It’s a good summary of the standard Evangelical view of sanctification.” Good!
And then we waited.