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Their Document

One year ago today, Grant had an interview, audition, and job offer from North Greenville University. I’ve told that whole story before. You can read all about it from beginning to end.

We just have one more document related to that ordeal that we have not yet made public. So . . . here goes.

This is the document the BJU administration handed us a year ago on Friday the 13th of July, 2007 in that infamous meeting. Stephen Jones and Gary Weier took off our names and removed all contextual information and gave our positional statement to Stephen Hankins, Dean of the Bob Jones Jr. Seminary. They asked him to write a response. So Hankins wrote the bulk of this document.

Gary Weier and Stephen Jones, however, wrote the concluding section called “Summary.” Read it for yourself.

Their Document

15 thoughts on “Their Document

  • July 24, 2008 at 8:58 am
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    this document proves that they didn’t understand you or the Gospel. i hate that their understanding of sanctification is adding virtues to one’s life. these people can never understand what it is to “preach Christ–no more, no less.”

  • July 24, 2008 at 12:48 pm
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    Well, it’s biting off more than anyone can chew to try to condense the protean nature of discipleship/sanctification to a few points on six pages. I doubt the document was even meant to be as much. But it does seem like sanctification is painted as a man-centered and man-controlled process.

    I especially liked the passage in Colossians 3 that’s cited in the section “Passages which Teach the Progressive Nature and Human Responsibility of Sanctification” because its sentiment is built on the last four verses of the previous chapter:

    “20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”

  • July 24, 2008 at 1:29 pm
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    Well, IMHO, Tim, there was enough common ground offered in Hankins’ words that a productive solution could have been worked among all of us. If we ALL could have been in one room talking as brothers and sisters in Christ. After reading that — closely and carefully after we left The Ultimatum Meeting — we could imagine enough points of agreement.

    It was strange. 1) Yes, you’re orthodox. 2) We only disagree in emphasis. 3) But don’t talk about it to ANYONE ANYWHERE or you’re fired. Huh? I still think it was a set-up. I think they gave us a vague “assignment” way out of our areas of expertise because they expected us to say something stupid and, then, to shame us into silence. They should have known better. We all go way, way back , and they should have known our reputation. We don’t do things — especially cerebral things — sloppy.

    And then when the document we gave them wasn’t ridiculous, they didn’t know what to do. #1 and #2 don’t lead to #3. ::shrug:: And they had to appease the upset parties, so they just carried on with their plan to shame us into silence.

  • July 24, 2008 at 10:23 pm
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    Camille, thank you for these posts. I did not attend BJU, but I did attend a Christian school where attending Bob Jones following graduation was presented as *this close* to God’s will for everyone. (If I gave you the name, or at least some graduates’ names, I have confidence that you’d know it. A classmate of mine is, I believe, still part of the speech faculty.) I did visit the campus for AACS twice. (I’m sorry for the burden we were to all of you!)

    Instead, the Lord led me to a small Bible college where I met the man who, upon graduation, became my husband. He is now the pastor of an independent Bible church.

    I grew up in a Bible church as well, and I was taught the precious truths of the Doctrines of Grace from the time I was a child. The long, manipulative invitations at the end of chapel messages in my Christian school and the emphasis on the exterior (our “testimony” was constantly thrown in our faces) was so frustrating to me. The burden on those fully immersed in the life of that church and school was obvious. For them, God’s commands were burdensome! The Christian life was filled with things we should do and other things we shouldn’t do, and if you felt differently (and worse, if you didn’t follow their rules), your spiritual condition was called into question.

    My husband and I went through your documents together tonight, and I felt things finally gelled in my mind. I could finally see the theological underpinnings of this system of belief that frustrated me all those years. Some of the BJU statements left us both flabbergasted.

    I hurt for those mired in this system of thought. What a hard life! Our good works don’t help God sanctify us. They instead are evidence that we belong to Him. Our obedience doesn’t help God sanctify us. It is evidence that we love Him! Our keeping His commands *doesn’t help God sanctify us.* It keeps us in communion with Him.

    Praise God for being the all-powerful, sovereign God who will complete the work He’s begun in me!

  • July 24, 2008 at 10:45 pm
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    The reference to Matt. 13 is taken completely out of context. The “thorns and thistles” person is not regenerate in the first place. Also, it seems they are saying that it is possible that some Christians will not grow in Christ (maybe I read too fast?).

    They seem to say that even if a “Christian” shows no fruit of salvation that it doesn’t mean they aren’t saved. Ummmm….no. By their fruits we will know them. We are supposed to examine our lives! We WILL bear fruit as true believers. We don’t make Jesus our Lord…He IS our Lord if we are His.

    This theology they have could send many to hell…those who don’t have any evidence of salvation but still hold to that prayer they made as a child.

  • July 24, 2008 at 11:11 pm
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    Camille, I have spent several days reading through your blog, especially the Ebeneezer series. I am heartbroken that you and your husband (I hope you will share this with him) have endured so many trials, especially with Elise and your other babies (btw, my eldest twin’s name is also Elise!).

    Am I to understand that basically the more important concerns that you had, the imposing of man-made rules and the fear-based environment, the HR issues (especially concerning the future of the elderly faculty), were not addressed, but rather the “red-herring” of your transfer of beliefs to the Reformed faith is what the focus was for the threat of removal? I must confess that I don’t share all of your beliefs on sanctification and irrisistable grace, but it doesn’t seem like those were the issues. The application of grace according to the Bible seems to be what you were trying to open up the eyes of the administration to, especially knowing that a chance for reform may be impending with the inauguration of a new president. I am not surprised if this was the case. It seems like the strongly suggested resignation was brought on by something that had been known and tolerated for years until you began to assert some of the other issues that they did not want exposed. I HOPE I’m not right, but I’m trying to read between the lines. Did they ever address the HR issues (the director of HR is particularly disturbing)?

    I am glad that God provided another place for you and it seems like a place of healing. I am glad that you are embracing your freedom in Christ and I pray that you will be able to completely heal from this great injury.

  • July 25, 2008 at 10:11 am
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    Am I to understand that basically the more important concerns that you had, the imposing of man-made rules and the fear-based environment, the HR issues (especially concerning the future of the elderly faculty), were not addressed, but rather the “red-herring” of your transfer of beliefs to the Reformed faith is what the focus was for the threat of removal?

    Exactly. You hit the nail right on the head. We were willing to agree on the essentials, but the climate in the culture is . . . mean. And so yes, the “Reformed” red herring distracted the whole thing.

  • July 25, 2008 at 5:58 pm
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    How cowardly to throw in a red herring.

  • Pingback: A Time to Laugh » Blog Archive » Ebenezer — The Ultimatum

  • July 31, 2008 at 8:16 am
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    The Janis Ian song was spot in so many ways. I always liked her way with a song.

    As I read through your posts, I thought of my own exit from BJU-styled fundamentalism, the shunning and estrangement from old friends, etc. But, hardest of all to was the treachery I was treated to by those I had trusted.

    As I read through the University’s [non]response to your concerns, it reinforced the need for my own ‘spiritual remediation’ or ongoing process of philosophical purging. Paul warned us in Colossians 2:8 to “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

    Some 28 years after graduating, I am still finding attitudes and beliefs that need to be purged that were passed on to me, directly or indirectly, by the University. Chapter and verse and nothing else.

    The response you received reinforces the conclusion held by many that pragmatic expediency often drives the University’s formulation of the theology, faith, and practice. It wasn’t too long ago that the University – with the help of loyal members of the Bible faculty – used God’s Holy Word to prove to the satisfaction of the U. S. District Court of Appeals that their interracial dating/marriage ban was an immutable, Bible-based conviction of Fundamentalist Christianity!

    Unlike other such controversies, that one was played out in full public view. That public debacle – including the casual and complete reversal in position on national television by Bob Jones III – immedicably wounded the school’s future credibility to speak on “Bible policy” in the eyes of many.

    Some, including me, wondered what other Bible policies the Joneses/BJU had formulated and taught that were based upon nothing more than traditions of men and pragmatic expediency rather than the commands of Christ. In light of their handling of the erroneous interracial theology promoted by the University, how can anyone trust that the University is capable of honest discourse on any other subject?

    While I am not a reformed theologian, I recall that years ago, BJU’s Bible faculty taught reformed theology. As in the interracial dating ban controversy, the University reversed itself. The Joneses systematically removed the reformed teachers they had hired to teach their students and excoriated the students who had embraced the reformed theology taught them by the University staff. And then, the Joneses embraced Ian Paisley as their best preacher friend.

    It makes one wonder if the Joneses make theological decisions by sitting down with Accounting, Marketing, and Bible staffers to determine which position would maximize the University’s bottom line. And then, after the fact, willing Bible staffers formulate how to Biblically justify their decision.

    Thanks for the post, Camille. Chapter and verse. Chapter and verse.

    mark fitzhenry

  • August 18, 2008 at 2:24 pm
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    It was strange. 1) Yes, you’re orthodox. 2) We only disagree in emphasis. 3) But don’t talk about it to ANYONE ANYWHERE or you’re fired. Huh? I still think it was a set-up.

    Their conclusion doesn’t strike me as strange at all. While your stated disagreements with BJU may be only a matter of emphasis within the scope of orthodox Christian belief overall, that disagreement in emphasis is—as the response says—“at a core part of the University’s ministry to students through the Student Life Division.”

    The BJU experiment in Christian education has always centered on what Hankins calls here the “synergistic nature of sanctification”; hence the notoriously restrictive rules, which were meant to help that synergistic process.

    Therefore, while I’m sympathetic with many criticisms of BJU’s theories and practices concerning sanctification, I don’t understand how you could think that your belief in the inevitability of sanctification wasn’t fundamentally opposed to the school’s, especially since I know that you “don’t do things — especially cerebral things — sloppy.” And again, the no-proselytizing rule for Reformed students and faculty has been in place for decades, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to see it reiterated. By dismissing fundamental and (seemingly) obvious disagreements between your beliefs and the mission of the school, you conclude unnecessarily that the exercise was just a “set-up.”

  • August 18, 2008 at 2:42 pm
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    Hey, Austin.

    Their conclusion doesn’t strike me as strange at all. While your stated disagreements with BJU may be only a matter of emphasis within the scope of orthodox Christian belief overall, that disagreement in emphasis is—as the response says—”at a core part of the University’s ministry to students through the Student Life Division.”

    #1 and #2 do not equal #3. If it’s orthodox and it’s not that strange, why threaten anyone to shut up? It doesn’t make sense. We still agreed with the creed. We actually agreed more with the Founder (as I’ve proven). So why the cloak and dagger?

    The BJU experiment in Christian education has always centered on what Hankins calls here the “synergistic nature of sanctification”; hence the notoriously restrictive rules, which were meant to help that synergistic process.

    I agree that it’s synergistic. God starts it. “We work because God works. BJU doesn’t act like they believe in God’s sovereignty.

    And again, the no-proselytizing rule for Reformed students and faculty has been in place for decades, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to see it reiterated. By dismissing fundamental and (seemingly) obvious disagreements between your beliefs and the mission of the school, you conclude unnecessarily that the exercise was just a “set-up.”

    No proselytizing is one thing. This was more intense. And BJU insiders have described it as a change. They were changing the rules on us when they added “others at a distance from the university.” That was not ever included before. And no explanation was given when I asked for it.

    I understand that you may not see this as a set-up because you’re not able to put all the pieces together that we have had the opportunity to do so over time. When they originally asked us to write the document, they were cagey about the purposes and subject matter. We asked 2-3 times, and the most specific answer was “your position on sin in the Christian life.” It felt like they were baiting us, Austin.

    As I’ve said before, we could have accepted Hankins’ statement as it was. We could have agreed to it and then asked, “What changes will you make in light of THIS counter-statement that Hankins has made?” We were never afforded that opportunity. We were given the statement with the vague threat and had no option.

    It is difficult to believe, I know, until you’re sitting with that threat right before you. We felt that way too. It’s not an easy thing to accept.

  • August 18, 2008 at 3:02 pm
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    To explain further, Austin. . . .

    The syllogism that goes from #1 and #2 to #3 is not clear to me. It is depends on unstated assumptions among Stephen and Gary that were not clear to Grant and me. Maybe they are clear to you and others. But they were not what we signed on to uphold. We signed on to uphold the creed and not to proselytize in the classroom (which they agreed we had not done). We also agreed a few years before that if BJU strayed from its beliefs, we would work to correct it. We were also asked in faculty meeting to build relationships in our departments by sharing what God was doing in our lives. We were begged to come to the new administration with suggestions.

    Now . . . those were the stated assumptions we were operating under. Granted, there are unstated codes — OBVIOUSLY. But I’m not a mind reader.

  • August 20, 2008 at 2:05 pm
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    No proselytizing is one thing. This was more intense. And BJU insiders have described it as a change. They were changing the rules on us when they added “others at a distance from the university.” That was not ever included before. And no explanation was given when I asked for it.

    That’s a good point. It’s too bad you didn’t get an answer, because it would make a difference whether it was just infelicitous wording, a shift in policy generally, or something aimed particularly at you.

    I understand that you may not see this as a set-up because you’re not able to put all the pieces together that we have had the opportunity to do so over time.

    I can’t argue with that. It just seemed here that you were drawing the conclusion from the response letter.

    #1 and #2 do not equal #3. If it’s orthodox and it’s not that strange, why threaten anyone to shut up? It doesn’t make sense. We still agreed with the creed. We actually agreed more with the Founder (as I’ve proven). So why the cloak and dagger?

    I don’t know enough about your or Bob Jones Sr.’s views on sanctification to disagree with confidence (and I don’t remember seeing your proof), but I would honestly be surprised if a revivalist and Methodist such as Jones held anything approaching an “inevitable” view of sanctification.

    At any rate, I’m not trying to defend the response per se, just suggest that prima facie it seems consistent with everything I’ve heard taught from the BJU administrators. That becomes more than a niggling distinction if the administrators’ apparent inconsistency is what leads you to think you were set up.

  • August 20, 2008 at 2:54 pm
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    I don’t know enough about your or Bob Jones Sr.’s views on sanctification to disagree with confidence (and I don’t remember seeing your proof), but I would honestly be surprised if a revivalist and Methodist such as Jones held anything approaching an “inevitable” view of sanctification.

    Fair enough. I see your point. We do know from Ron Horton that even Dr. Bob’s Holiness/Methodist expression of sanctification was intentionally different from the Keswick stuff going on at Moody (at the time). I guess I’ll take a Wesleyan over a Andrew-Murrayan any day of the week. 😉

    At any rate, I’m not trying to defend the response per se, just suggest that prima facie it seems consistent with everything I’ve heard taught from the BJU administrators. That becomes more than a niggling distinction if the administrators’ apparent inconsistency is what leads you to think you were set up.

    Gotcha. And you may be more intimately familiar with the discourse over the long haul. Makes sense.

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