Cynicism is a sin. Because it’s refusing to see God at work. A cynic hears a baby crying and is incensed. A believer hears the same cry and thanks God for a providentially-created clear expression of an unmet need. A parent can be a cynic and a believer in the same day, mind you. Sin is like that.
BJU apologized. That’s the way the Mainstream-Media is reporting it even if BJU was so careful not to use the A-word. They said “profoundly sorry” for being “racially hurtful.” It’s enough for now. It’s new enough for now.
And the alumni effort at Please-Reconcile.org was part of that. A big, big part. It’s undeniable. I personally read their documents months ago, was skeptical at first, prayed about it, and eventually signed. I even fasted last weekend in order to pray about the effort. And as soon as the leadership team closed the signing on Wednesday, went off to the printers, and began to stuff their envelopes, BJU released a carefully-Carol-Kiersteaded and/or Gary-Weiered statement. 🙂
As one of the signers, I am rejoicing. It would be too easy to be a Jonah-like cynic even if I would have preferred a more Gospel-centered resolution like the PCA’s. I don’t even care that the MSM has their tongue firmly planted in cheek. I choose to rejoice that a little glimmer of repentance has been offered.
But I’ve been surprised by one source of cynicism — BJU insiders. Never saw that coming. They assert that the alumni had nothing to do with it. That we shouldn’t be rejoicing. That our bluff got called. That we’re just conflating God’s work with academic politics which makes us the worst reprobate imaginable.
The petulant reaction is revealing. From inside, it seems, the statement was about corporate image and not about admitting (organizational) sin and foregrounding God’s forgiveness. It’s about a story (for the press), not the Story (of the Gospel).
It proves my theory on the rhetoric of the Romantic Separatist. For BJU, this was a new ball gown — more stylish and more up-to-date. The attention, they hope, will attract more people to their message. It’s all about the new designer dress, right? It’s about haute coutre!
But their sisters and brothers (in Christ) at the ball don’t see it as a new dress. They see it as an entirely new posture, with the sectarian Romantic walking into a room that she’d never dared enter before. And we are thrilled! We are running up to welcome her. We don’t even care what she’s wearing!
Because our beauty as Christians is not in our carefully-crafted words or in our snazzy new gown. It’s in Christ. His love makes us beautiful. Even when we’re klutzy, stumbling, and goofy. Or maybe especially when we are!
And I will continue to say, as I have for years as an insider and now an outsider, that Bob Jones University needs to realize that its appeal will not reside in its words or deeds, but in how Christ redeems those actions. Foregrounding that Redemption makes us less timid and inactive and more bold and fearless. We can act, fully confident in our standing as God’s own.
After having six pregnancies in my life and only two babies I’ve ever heard cry, positive pregnancy tests produce a great deal of anxiety for me. I look at that test and think, “Oh no!! Is this one going to take? Or is there sadness ahead? Is it safe to be happy? Or am I going to be made a fool?”
I learned awhile back that it doesn’t matter what’s ahead. This is now, and this is happy. It all starts with a positive test. It’s just a start, but it has to start. God will take care of the future. In admitting my own finite humanity, I can give Him the future.
This BJU statement is like that positive pregnancy test — pregnant with possibilities for God to work, a beginning for something we can’t yet fathom. It’s an Ebenezer — God has helped us thus far. Repentance is just the first chapter of the Gospel story.
Yes, a cynic hears a baby cry and hears a rebuke or a punishment. But a believer hears God’s blessing. And we must believe.