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Our Moorings

God had my attention. And the message I got at my church and in my study were directly contradicting what I was hearing at BJU — in a chapel sermon, a campus church sermon, and a set of very popular books published through BJU Press. I was wrestling with the whole issue in my scholarship, but before I said anything more, I had to say something internally. So . . . .

This is the action I was motivated to take after really listening to message the students were receiving. This is the email I sent to Stephen Jones during Bible Conference, 2006 regarding “Our Moorings.” He and I finally talked about it on Monday, June 26, 2006 when, it seemed to me, he communicated that he agreed with what I was saying. My dean, Darren Lawson, communicated to me that Stephen had shared my email with some of the administrators in order to appropriately address my concerns. In August, Darren even asked me for a bibliography so he could read up for himself! That all changed, of course.

Read it for yourself.

Our Moorings
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37 thoughts on “Our Moorings

  • July 21, 2008 at 8:39 am
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    I am reading all this ( as I am sure you know) and thinking and trying to figure it all out. I have actually been doing this for quite some time now. Just as I am trying not to take what Dr. Berg says for granted I am not taking what you say for granted either. What does the Bible say? I am having a hard time b/c honestly I feel both sides have scriptural basis. Is there a middle ground? I will tell you where I am at. I am saved by grace and sanctified by grace. I get that-always have- even with hearing several messages by Dr. Berg which I have to say didn’t contradict that. I do want to to have a growing relationship with God. I want to bring glory to Him. I fail often- I don’t worry about losing God’s favor or love-I know I won’t, but I just can’t accept that God is ok with a Christian living a life that doesn’t glorify Him. And I am talking about clear commands of scripture not gray interpretations. I am in a secular work place and have had no trouble leaving the insulation of BJU. Dr. Berg holds a high standard- I get that. I DON’T defend every standard he or BJU holds. I am not saying that they are all necessary. I am glad I am no longer there. One thing that is bothering me is your reference to gum chewing. I listened to that message and Dr. Berg clearly said that gum chewing in and of itself is not wrong. Of course not! He was talking about response to authority. I refer back to my work experience- I have a lot of standards to uphold. Very strict dress code- I am told what color scrubs to where. I am even told how long to have my nails and how much jewelry I can wear. This is a secular hospital!! I do not have the right to disobey that rule simply b/c I don’t like it or find it to restrictive. And yes part of the reason I submit and obey those rules is b/c I want to honor God first and foremost. My coworkers choose to disregard those rules from time to time but I can’t justify it. You can call that legalistic if you like. I have to do what I feel is right compared with what the Bible says.
    Honestly I think that we can be legalistic about not being legalistic and start imposing and judging hearts even in and attempt to never be legalistic.
    I truly believe from hearing Dr. Berg speak and observing him that he does what he does out of love for God and not an attempt to earn God’s favor. I can and will compare what he or any other preacher of the Word says to the Bible. I am not saying he is always right but he is far from a false teacher.
    I know how legalistic fundamentalism can be- I want it to change. There are definite flaws in the system that need to change. This whole subject has been of interest to me for weeks now and I really am appreciative of your allowing me to post on this. I am searching and studying.

  • July 21, 2008 at 8:49 am
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    Think away, Stacy!! Keep going!! That’s what it’s all about!! 😀

    Did you read the document/handout under “Measuring Kingdom Usefulness”? That states:

    At BJU breaking a rule is not merely a revelation of how important the student thinks the rule is or whether he agrees or disagrees with the rule; disobedience reveals that he disagrees with God’s command to obey authority.

    That’s the rub. He *says* that gum chewing isn’t important one way or another, but if you do, you’re breaking God’s command. He’s setting up his rules as equal to God’s law. That is problematic!!

    In your secular setting, that is not done. Your entire spiritual condition is not called into question (a phrase that we heard in Faculty Meeting, I believe, in 2006) if your nails are too long. Too-long nails are simply that — too long.

    The second problem is the idea that is quite clear that God can only use us if we’re perfect. That’s absolutely not true! At all. God can use us in spite of us.

    Keep talking though. . . .

  • July 21, 2008 at 10:37 am
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    I think that letter is one of the best summations of Keswick that I’ve read from you yet. 😀 It’s simple and thorough. And I love the way you phrased the purpose of greenhouse-grown plants, “Not just for show, and not just for the fight…” That’s quality metaphor right there!

  • July 21, 2008 at 11:58 am
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    Hmmm- isn’t he saying that it isn’t gum chewing that is the problem but how you relate to God’s authority. I don’t see that he is saying gum chewing in and of itself is the problem but not choosing to obey authority is the problem. Even in that quote I see that message. I don’t see that chewing gum or not is an evidence of spirituality but when your authority asks that you not and you do anyway. I don’t see how that can be justified. I stand by my illustration and don’t see the difference. Keeping my nails short or chewing gum doesn’t isn’t something God addresses but our relation to authority is. The problem with gum chewing isn’t gum chewing, it is knowing the authority you are under asks you not to and doing it anyway. That is a problem whether your employer is a Christian or not. I really don’t see where Dr. Berg judges spirituality by gum chewing for the sake of gum chewing.

  • July 21, 2008 at 12:01 pm
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    Hit submit to soon. I hope the above makes sense:)

  • July 21, 2008 at 12:25 pm
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    Here’s the thing with the gum chewing. It’s not really about the gum, not for Berg and not for a thousand other leaders that demand absolute, unquestioning obedience from their followers/people-they-have-some-authority-over. It’s about sitting in judgment over another person’s spiritual state.

    When Berg says, “Thou shalt not chew gum in an university building,” that’s an institutional rule. Fine. But when Berg says, “If thou chewest, you are clearly in rebellion against human authority, and therefore in spiritual rebellion against God,” he’s gone way too far. In essence, he (or whoever! **it’s not really about him!!**) is setting himself in a place of judgment over your soul, and that’s a place that is reserved only for God!!

    Where is the biblical basis for setting up a bunch of man-made rules and putting their enforcement on par with Divine authority? Did God really give “them” (whoever “they” are) the right/authority to do that?

  • July 21, 2008 at 12:29 pm
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    3 comments in a row- I hope that is allowed:) Actually I just thought of something else I have already mentioned but thought I would repeat. When my husband worked for the school, wives were required to follow the same rules even if they didn’t work there. No the rule I struggled with the most was skirts in town. I DID NOT like that rule at all. Didn’t make a bit of sense to me and felt it was unfair and wrong for them to require that. I still do, however, I knew that for the time that is where God had us so I felt that for God’s sake and His command on authority I needed to follow that. Same applied when I was a student. Didn’t like all the rules and it didn’t matter-I had willingly place myself under their authority. Did not wearing pants out make me more godly? Of course not! But I couldn’t justify willfully defying a rule b/c I didn’t like it.

  • July 21, 2008 at 1:10 pm
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    I’ve seen Workbrain referenced a couple of times. Would anyone care to tell that story for those of us in the dark?

  • July 21, 2008 at 1:36 pm
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    “Jim Berg’s unfounded conclusion that the redeemed “possess within us a clone of Satan’s own nature, and it violently opposes God” (36) goes unquestioned and is used as a foundational, guiding principle in the residence halls. We hear sermons entitled “How Can You Get Grace,” when the Bible clearly teaches that grace is not something we earn. The students are told that the Christian life is hard, when Christ Himself stated that His burden is easy and His yoke is light. We faculty are told that “discipling” the students means “policing” them, when Scripturally discipling actually means nurturing them. And while you have rightly related that the Student Handbook is not the Textus Receptus, the Dean of Students states that if they’re guilty of one rule infraction, their entire spiritual condition is suspect. As a result of this semi-Pelagian climate, student leaders openly mock those in their charge who struggle with depression since, the leaders presume, these weak few are just not as agile as they at walking that tightrope.”

    What a hellish place you describe – not the school I attended back in the 70’s.

    The rules at BJU have always been about controlling students – not about character building, which was the rationale way back when.

    What you describe now is nothing less than spiritual abuse.

  • July 21, 2008 at 2:29 pm
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    Stacy —

    Notice though that Berg and BJU at large only talk about the servant’s relationship to his master. They never, ever, ever talk about the master’s relationship to the servant. The command is actually a bigger deal for them.

    But no, in this schema the authority is ultimate and absolute, and he gets to stand in judgment of those under him. How many times did any of us *forget* a rule or just didn’t know about it? That happened constantly because once the shoes could be backless and then they couldn’t. It was constantly changing, and if you didn’t get it all, you were soiled. It’s all there.

    I think one of the problems here is that it’s hard to imagine a healthy and biblical alternative when this is all you know. Stop reading this stuff that you’re so familiar with and read outside your usual fare. Read Galatians in _The Message_ (if you read it in your usual translation, you’ll hear the same-old, same-old). Read some VanVonderen. Read some Edward Welch. And Tim Kimmel. Read Stephen Arterburn & Jack Felton. Get a new perspective because honestly I don’t think you can see it because this is all you know.

  • July 21, 2008 at 2:29 pm
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    Excellent letter, Camille! I agree with Monica–that description of Keswick is the best I’ve ever seen. I wish I could get my Keswickian sister to read it (she denies that she’s a firm believer in Keswick’s ideas, yet that is exactly what she is and practices!). I pray God opens her eyes someday.

  • July 21, 2008 at 2:55 pm
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    I’ve seen Workbrain referenced a couple of times. Would anyone care to tell that story for those of us in the dark?

    Well, let’s see if I can give you enough of a picture.

    The old time-keeping program HR had was way, way out-of-date. It was OLD! DOS-based. So they had to get a new one. Coinciding with that, Dr. Bob wanted to keep tabs on the faculty’s attendance to chapel. Current systems weren’t working. So they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get Workbrain which was touted as being THE thing to do (at least the HR director’s brother-in-law believed so).

    I was in on those meetings with Workbrain as they were designing the program. HR hired me in the summer of 2003 to be the faculty contact for that rollout. It was disastrous. Part of the problem is that all the arcane rules for payroll were all stored in the heads of those four ladies who did the payroll twice a month. It was impossible to write it all down. I saw the Workbrain programmers just be overwhelmed by all the exceptions. The other big problem is that HR was patently evangelistic in ALL its contact with outsiders. While their primary job should have been to speak for their employees, they were honestly more concerned with impressing the vendor. It was . . . embarrassing.

    When they rolled it out to the staff managers, I did the presentation. We had about 30-35 managers there. They were all nice folks. But the servers crashed when we all got on at the same time. Yikes! There I was — 6 months pregnant, a little flustered — and well, it wasn’t a good time to be HR that day.

    Some other technical problems. . . . Workbrain would not work on a Mac (and the Press was all Mac). It would require more computer stations for all those employees who don’t have regular access to a computer (you could no longer just check in over the phone). And it would require salaried employees to clock in.

    We spoke out about that last part. Grant and I told Gary Weier and Stephen Jones in 2004 that this was going to hurt the mission of BJU. If they required us to start each work week by clicking for each day we worked (under threat of not receiving payment!), then they were reminding us that we were mere employees clocking in our time (instead of co-laborers in a ministry). And it happened. We saw the shift. I heard old-timers stop calling their job a “ministry” to calling BJU “just my employer.”

    Add to that fact that HR actually told us to not report accurately. As a part-time employee, I worked a half-day on Monday and full days on Tuesday and Thursday. I attended chapel on Tuesday and Thursday. Those were my required duties. But we part-timers were told NOT to check off part time but FULL TIME “just to make things easier.” :/ Do you want what’s happening or not? So we asked, “Why again are we doing this?”

    So that’s the story of Workbrain.

  • July 21, 2008 at 3:19 pm
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    So are they still using WB?

    Don’t you just love IT project/conversions/new shiny stuff? Bet you had a real fun time as the contact for rollout.

    Just had to laugh and shake my head on the 4 little ladies that had all the execeptions in their heads and for blowing the programmers minds. That is so typical for moving from old systems/procedures to new up to date systems.

  • July 21, 2008 at 4:19 pm
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    Thanks. I design accounting systems and recently completed a system for a major state university which included a time keeping module. Time keeping in a university setting is never easy – my client would routinely revise an employee’s time keeping for as far back as 2 years. Also, the constant coming and going between full-time, part-time, student, etc. was very difficult. We ended up with thousands of unique pay codes.

    There are large and powerful time collection software packages out there – I have worked on jobs with over 100,000 employees logging their time from all over the world. WorkBrain is not a product I’ve seen used by big companies – that may have been the problem.

  • July 21, 2008 at 4:51 pm
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    Ok- I see that we just aren’t seeing the same stuff. That is ok- I know we are sisters-in-Christ and am thankful for the soul-searching you have motivated me to do. I am pretty sure that the Holy Spirit isn’t only able to speak through one translation so I am not to worried about that. I happen to like the ESV and will stick with it:) I think it is time for me to bow out of this conversation. I will continue reading your blog if that is ok- I find the different perspective fascinating and it causes me to really find out why I believe what I do. I am what I am by grace alone and my hope is in God alone. I will leave with that.

  • July 21, 2008 at 5:37 pm
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    Stacy — Of COURSE you can stick around. And just to continue the conversation, I prefer the ESV too. I always start there. And usually end there. But for devotional reading, the Message makes me drop my jaw. It helps me see why when the people in the early church received a letter from Paul they stopped and said, “This. This is from God!”

    Sola Gratia!

    And yes, Eric, they are still using WorkBrain. Every Monday morning by 10am, every BJU faculty member has to check off 40 check boxes mindlessly and routinely reminding themselves that they just work there. Ugh!

  • July 21, 2008 at 7:48 pm
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    I hated WorkBrain. Getting yelled at almost every week because of discrepencies or failures to check in/out at the Dining Common (the DC would do both WB check ins AND paper logs)–it wasn’t an encouraging thing.

    I still remember the little old ladies who were in charge of payroll–I’d see them sometimes when I passed their doorway. How amazing is it that they did what they did–better than a computer!

  • July 22, 2008 at 9:23 pm
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    I’m chiming in late here concerning Workbrain, but the most disheartening thing for me about that STUPID program and the STUPIDITY that motivated it was that it reduced all of the extra hours that I invested in recital rehearsals and checks, production rehearsals and performances, Sunday trips with BJIII (etc., etc., ETC.) to zilch. When I took time from my family and my personal life to meet those additional obligations before Workbrain, I never gave them a second thought (well, almost!). After Workbrain, I resented every additional minute I spent outside of my regular 40-hour obligation. Why? Because instead of being treated as a salaried employee who regularly went above and beyond out of love for his job and his calling, I was instead treated as an hourly employee whose contribution could be quantified by punching a clock. I’d sit at my computer every Monday morning mindlessly clicking all of those stupid checkboxes, the entire time thinking, “Here’s your pound of flesh, BJU.”

    Before Workbrain, I regularly and willingly offered more than what was required of me. But when the nickel-and-diming of my time started, I resented every additional minute. In fact, that’s when I started saying “no” a lot more. That’s when I became an employee, a cog, a rank-and-file. That’s when I moved from feeling like a partner to a plodder. And in retrospect, that’s when I began leaving BJU.

  • July 23, 2008 at 11:39 pm
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    stacy,

    it’s been great reading your discussion with dr. lewis over the past few posts. i’ve had to remember, think, and rearticulate to myself exactly what i know, and why i know it. here are a few things that are very important to me:

    when i listen to berg’s messages, everything he says seems to be so right. he tells me to be a better person, to produce fruit. these are things we all absolutely long to do as believers–and i’d say many unbelievers too want to be “good people.” but here’s the issue i take with jim berg’s messages. he never points us to to Christ. his messages are, for lack of a better term, virtue sermons. he tells us what is wrong with us–very specifically at that: even citing workbrain and gum-chewing! and then his solution is to try harder (through Christ?) to eliminate these gross sins which flow out of an evil heart that, as dr. lewis has already pointed out, harbors a “clone of satan.” but when we go to paul, we find a much different message. read Colossians 1. what does he say? his solution to everything is to “preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity.” what brings us to maturity? it’s Christ! loving Him, and seeing Him in His beauty as He’s revealed to us in the Gospels and the Letters. berg does not make us love Christ more–he makes us hate ourselves. and we know that’s no solution. if we thought that, we’d be platonists. read 1 Timothy 1 as well. the first portion of the chapter sounds much like berg and even more like keswick. but again, paul’s answer is simple: “here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” i hate to say it, but berg just doesn’t preach this simple theology of the cross. only an all too familiar whited sepulcher theology that’s burdened the morally weak (the very ones Christ came to save–like you and me) for millennia.

  • July 24, 2008 at 8:44 am
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    Thanks Justin for your response. I have kind of decided that I don’t have the ability to argue this correctly so I have already said I am bowing out. Be assured I am still studying and thinking on all this. I still see both sides but am not just taking stuff for granted. Let me just say that I have heard Dr. Berg many, many times and have been pointed to Christ often. Not saying it couldn’t be done more. I think we all could do that more. I will study the passages you mentioned. I have also written down the passages Dr. Hankins mentioned and will be studying those.

  • July 26, 2008 at 11:22 am
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    What a marvelous document. I have one main comment: I have seen good, Christian people start focusing on money and I have seen their blessings disappear. My church has gone through a metamorphosis. They used to be so money focused, and there was never any money. Now, we have about 4% fewer people attending and the offerings have never been higher. God blesses those who truly seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first. This isn’t idle talk. This is the yoke being easy and the burden being light.

  • July 28, 2008 at 7:13 pm
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    Berg is in a world of his own, me thinks.

    Having had four boys to get ready for school every day we as a family would sometimes run late. Mr Berg said to the eldest son, that Christ was never late for any appointment nor late in any way as in the fullness of time God sent him.

    I think my son replied that Christ didn’t have to drive from Berea everyday and deal with Pleasantburg traffic!

    We had a small home with one small bath and found it a great challenge to get six people ready to roll to make the berg mandate.

    I think Jim needs to leave BJU and go to work for a secular workplace and see how his (plan for others) works for himself.

    I’m sorry for offense to any Berg followers but the guy just doesn’t add up to me.

    His “christian” dogma appears perfect to defend every rule and demerit passed out at inside his world at BJU.

    The outside world works in a very different way and Berg’s idea of the way things should work just don’t add up.

    I think he cannot survive outside those flowery gates much the same way Tony Miller must drop those ways in order to be an effective pastor at Morningside, in my opinion.

    That’s it,
    The Squire

  • July 30, 2008 at 7:58 pm
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    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and have wanted to comment on many of your postings. It grieves my heart to hear all these things about BJU because although I’m not a graduate, many in my family are. I’ve heard some of these same things before, and it makes me want to weep. Does that mean they would separate from me because I’m reformed in my theology? Do we not agree on the “fundamentals of the faith?” Aren’t the Person and work of Christ the central doctrine? I pray for you and Grant often and am encouraged to see how our gracious God is blessing you in your new season of life.

  • August 7, 2008 at 8:41 am
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    Your letter was great! It grieves me that BJU is the way they are right now. When I was at the Press (only a year) if you had extra hours on a Friday you were told to clock out at the end of your 40 hours and continue working! I told them that it was illegal. They didn’t care. They told me to keep working. Of course when you are on faculty you work much more than 40 hours. I would have loved to have calculated all the time I took to grade papers! I left several years ago and never got to use Workbrain but it sounds like a huge pain to do!

  • August 9, 2008 at 11:24 pm
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    Jim Berg and Tony Miller — 2 men that truly taught me the gracelessness of bju. The call for reform has been heard, but I think it has fallen on deaf ears that do not care if bju goes by the wayside. For that change to happen it would call for a total elimination and reconstruction of the whole staff from the president on down. Unfortunately bju has become a monument to the direction of God spoiled by mere men getting in the way. And I would remind Stephen Jones he is just a mere man and nothing more.

  • August 18, 2008 at 2:30 pm
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    Camille,
    You stated that when Stephen got your email he took what looked like positive action to address your concerns, even sharing your thoughts with others in the administration. What do you think caused his/their attitude toward you and your ideas to change so drastically? Was it only your book? Also, did you get any sort of written response from him?

  • August 18, 2008 at 2:47 pm
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    I never got a written response. I only know this: that through some sort of a mistake a larger audience in the administration got a hold of the original email than Stephen intended. I know that that happened, but I don’t know how or who.

    Everything fell apart after that.

  • November 16, 2008 at 9:16 pm
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    I am there – deeply affected and reeling by the negative and controlling environment. I see an unhappy and critical climate: performance-based acceptance, the misuse of scripture to condemn and control others beyond scriptural principle, and the forfeiture of hermeneutical scriptures in embracing the full theology of God’s grace and love along with sin and redemption.
    I’ve seen enough of spiritually manipulative speech and guilt inducements to obey non-moral regulations, used to eliminate questioning and create conformity to the very narrow BJU theology and agenda. If you disagree with Bob theology, you are disobeying God Himself and are of questionable moral constitution (Martin Luther, please put down your beer and your 99 thesese and pay attention to your ecclesiastical superiors!) But does BOB agree with Paul, Mathew, Luke,Peter… Jesus Christ? For all believers Christ is their ultimate judge… and to Him alone is man accountable… In Romans Paul asks, in regards to religious customs and variation in the body of Christ “how dare you judge someone else’s servant…”

    Please spare me the denial and pathetic theological arguments to justify the inappropriate and misguided use of authority.
    Man made rules and regulations are always limited, imperfect, and subject to God’s authority, including the teachers and leaders that uphold those rules. Leaders need to demonstrate the effectiveness of those rules, because that is their only value – effectively managing earthly matters…so, foregoing the need to re-affirm Pauline moral lists as understood pre-requisites for most evangelicals, are those rules relevant or productive? Are they excessive, are they handicapping, or are the equipping and enabling positive Christ-centered, love-centered,results?
    While we should obey those under authority, how should leaders treat their followers? As Christ died and gave His life for them? As Christ washed the feet of the disciples, associated himself with sinners, extended grace and forgiveness to prostitutes and crooks? He did not mince words, however, when it came to the religious leaders of the day. These were not cult leaders… they were experts of the Law… the Law that Christ came to fulfill…he came to save the Jews, and then after his ascension, save the world through the testimony of His disciples. The pharisees had everything in their hands to recognize Him… but self importance and self interest blinded them. They were so convinced of their own virtue, when all have fallen short of the grace of God, and but for the grace of God, there go I.
    Christianity is about relationship principles… because our righteousness is as filthy rags… its about HIS grace… that He loved us before we loved Him, that if we love Him we also love our brothers in Christ, and even our enemies. That the ten commandments can be summed up in “Love God” and “Love your neighbor”…
    I think we need to use our common sense and dismantle manipulative arguments employing harsh, critical, unkind, fear and guilt induced techniques, under the pretense of spiritual leadership. This is called pscyhological abuse and manipulation. Its important for everyone to recognize it in secular leaders, business leaders, and even potential mates. What does the Bible say about how we should treat others? Even those we disagree with? The Biblical record and Jonesian record do not match up. Sinless, spotless? Few drugs, few drinking binges, and few out of wedlock pregnancies may be moral victories they can claim… but I am betting they did nothing to support, counsel and restore fellow Christians who have fallen into such sins… I’m thankful for those heretical Samaritans that God uses to help and restore others while religious leadership is uncompassionate and consumed by their own agendas.
    Lets get real, as a personality/behavioral analysis of the university leadership, policy and rhetoric, the the Bob Joneses would most likely qualify with high marks under the following characteristics: controlling, manipulative, verbally abusive, adversarial, poisonous, insulting, and misguideded in the appointment of making spiritual judgments over the souls of Christians and non-Christians alike, a seat only reserved for Christ.
    Ironically, I’m sure just as many world leaders and even university founders possess the same characteristics, for which they will be accountable for one day… and they could be far worst than our own controversial and struggling, embittered, or mislead co-heirs in Christ…but the intimate influence of BJs upon the campus culture and rhetoric leaves an indelible and brute force footprint upon the lives and minds of everyone involved with that ministry – and ministry should be occuring ther: To fathom, with all the saints, the height, length, depth, width… of God’s great love. By the same regulation of destructive behavior, BJ needs to evaluate their methodology and its consistency with Biblical principles of conduct and servant leadership… or consistency with worldly power games and un-Christ like behavior. We, BJU and me, co-anti-machiavellianists, can all agree (if there were ever co-anti-machiavellioanists lol)… that the ends doesn’t justify the means, and soldier your conduct is out of line with our Supreme Commander! Not to condemn… but to show the great irony of how deeply you need the grace of God as the accomplished Christian leader you are… as much as those who struggle with sins we wouldn’t touch with a rubber glove, but cry out to Christ for His help and mercy.

  • February 25, 2009 at 1:16 am
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    Reading these posts made me very thankful that I listened to God and attended the secular university that I did rather than the words of people in my church who urged me to go to BJU (if not for the whole time, at least for a year). Although I can think of three people very dear to me who are BJU graduates, I have met quite a few more that fail to impress me with their four years of “godliness.” I fail to understand how going to a Christian university makes you any more godly than going to a secular university. I have learned from my parents and other people whom I respect that your walk with God comes from spending time with Him not from going to a Christian university. It is not something you learn from man; it is something you develop through Christ.

    I have been questioning the “fundamentalist” attitude for several years now. It interests me to see that others believe as I do. Could someone explain to me about the different Bible translations? My high school curriculum (from PCC) taught that there were two different manuscripts back in the early days of Christianity. One was rejected, and one was accepted. The rejected manuscript was lost, then found and used to form all of the “unacceptable translations,” while the other was used to form the KJV Bible. I have always used the KJV Bible in my studies and reading, but is there an actual problem with some of the other translations? After all, in 1611, the KJV was a “new,” “radical” translation. Is there a problem with using other translations if you have trouble understanding the Old English? I have been told from a “fundamental, etc etc” church that churches that move to other translations become carnal and people who use other translations are not true Christians (or if they are, they are very carnal and not to be followed). Is this true?

    The “gum-chewing” sin is interesting also. The “pastor” that I know uses the phrase “three to thrive” (referring to the necessity to attend all three services (or more if more come along) each week). Due to my class-work and job, I am not able to attend Wednesday night services and often Sunday evening services. I have been treated as a “carnal” and “backslidden” Christian. I have also had the music that I play for offertory censored after I played a song called “How Beautiful” (which described the Body and Bride of Christ) which the “superiors” of the church did not know. It took over a year of “approvals” for my music before my song choices began to not be questioned. The “pastor’s” messages have little meaning and are often covertly threatening.

    I would love to know what is suggested to deal with this situation. Although I am now in a church where I am growing, my family is left in the church and is still dealing with the spiritual abuse.

  • February 25, 2009 at 3:45 pm
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    Leigh,

    As far as translations, you really should purchase the book “The King James Only Controversy” written by James White.
    And a church like you describe… you can’t deal with it. I have tried in many cases to deal with these types of people. The leadership will talk to you inasmuch as they feel they might be able to convince you to their side, then when they realize they can’t, they will cease fellowship with you.
    For them (and you) I would suggest the book “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.” It will open eyes.
    I know what you say about the pastor’s messages having little meaning. The two primary functions of the church assembly are edification and teaching. If these aren’t happening why stay? The type of “preaching” you refer to is heavily topical, with little in the way of scripture referencing unless it is to jump all around the Bible, never focusing in clearly on any one specific text, everything strung together to proof-text the pastor’s point. Worthless!
    If the church you are going to now is any of these things, I would seriously consider leaving. Especially if they are KJVO. They try to hold you in by fear- saying you are carnal, backslidden, fleshly, catering to your own selfish desires, throwing off the authority of God and the Bible. When you truly recognize the system for what it is and what kind of men the pastors are that run in it, it won’t matter any longer what they say.

  • August 31, 2009 at 2:51 am
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    Amazing letter. Camille, I had no clue you had gone through this until I stumbled here earlier this evening. You have no clue how being born on BJU and spending my entire formative years locked inside the bubble – definitely NOT a greenhouse – has impacted my adult life. Your letter ominously predicts exactly what happens when students are given a tight-rope and told that is how you must live your life.

    I realized that I cannot live on a tightrope. I can’t live up to those standards and have pretty much left them behind. I live my life in fear…. in fear of the God that was created by BJJR, BJIII and expecilly Herr Berg. I live my life in secret.

    If only I had learned at BJ there is such a thing as grace and was shown how to find it.

  • July 16, 2010 at 1:03 am
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    Hi Camille, I am currently a 20 year old student who just ended her last semester at BJU (YES!). A friend who has just been rejoicing on facebook posted this as a “helper” for those who have gotten lost in following a Christian ruleset instead of a Christian mindset. I will tell you that there are two things about BJU, they have some (not all) GREAT students and some fantastic faculty members. However, living there was like living a Christian lie. They tried to tell me the “Biblical way” to live my life, (by judging others and living under tight restrictions…sure works get you to heaven right? UH NO). Mid semester this year I was reading in Romans and it hit me that the Christian life wasn’t meant to be regulated by a long list of rules and regulations, it was about living as Christ did. I am still going through things in my mind and still amazed that Gods grace is continually coming from Him, to me, His child. Not because I deserved or earned it, but because I accepted His Son.

    I have many friends who lived like they needed to at BJU in order to get out, then I watch through facebook and texts, as they destroy their lives, abortions, homosexuality, herion, you name it. My own encounters with the university have been less than kind to me. The students at BJU need non-judgemental compassion and love, not a handbook saying when you can go to bed..etc.

    Thank you so much for the things you have written, they have challenged me! What a loss that you don’t teach there anymore, the students need teachers like you! May God bless you!

  • September 23, 2010 at 12:39 am
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    Not exactly related, but the connection was too extensive to pass up.

    “For today’s Pharisee, certain cultural taboos serve the same purpose, such as smoking, drinking, dancing, and attending R-rated movies, for instance.

    “Abstaining from these things appears sacrificial, but most modern-day Pharisees don’t want to do any of these things anyway. This system cleverly enables us to follow the law perfectly (as we have reinterpreted it) while passing judgment on all those who don’t follow it, can’t follow it, or who simply could care less about our little charade.”

    From John Fischer’s 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me)

    Also, I really appreciate your letter. I don’t feel so alone now. And your description of Keswick theology was much more coherent than I’ve seen elsewhere. I’d love to refer to it in my own blog if I may.

  • September 23, 2010 at 9:05 am
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    Thanks Nate! And feel free to reference whatever you need!

    Nice to “meet” you.

  • October 25, 2010 at 12:50 am
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    OK – I’m finally getting around to reading your blog — you must admit, Dr. Lewis, there’s a lot of “stuff” here to read -no- more like absorb.

    I almost had tears in my eyes reading your letter to Stephen Jones. You are a brave soul indeed to have poured your heart out like that.

    It still amazes me at how casually Christian organizations treat their employees. Over the years I’ve heard many a horror story of how a Christian ministry has cut pay or taken living quarters away — it’s like living with an abusive spouse — you end up walking on eggshells.

    That’s not grace and that’s no way to live.

    Now – I have a lot more to read. ~ GE

  • December 8, 2011 at 3:16 am
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    Thanks being willing to put it all out there.
    It seems that the Link to the letters are no longer available. Is that just cause i’m getting around to reading this long after things expire? or cause my mac is confused?
    cheers,
    Matt

    • December 8, 2011 at 9:44 am
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      There. I think I fixed it. Thanks for the heads-up!

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