March 16, 2020

Has Hope for BJU to Reverse Course Been Dashed?

In recent years Bob Jones University (BJU) has put into effect changes in policy, speakers and alignments. These have raised serious concerns and questions among alumni and friends of the university. In one of our previous articles This is Not Your Fathers BJU1 we saw that the university has drifted far from its separatist heritage. While briefly mentioned in that article we will review here in greater detail the implications of BJU hosting Dr. Billy Kim and his Korean Children's Choir.2

Dr. Kim w/ Billy Graham
While hosting the children’s choir posed no particular problem, welcoming on campus Dr. Kim most definitely did. Dr. Billy Kim, a BJU graduate, spoke at Billy Graham’s funeral, and was the translator for Graham’s Korean campaign in 1973. Dr. Kim was president of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) 2000-2005. During Kim’s tenure as BWA president, in June 2004 the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) voted to pull out of the BWA.

The SBC study committee noted in recent years the BWAs increasingly anti-American stances, tolerance of liberal theology and disregard for its own procedures in accepting the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as a member in 2003.”  (Baptist Press: SBC Severs Ties with BWA as Theological Concerns Remain. June 15, 2004)

The Southern Baptist Convention voted yesterday to pull out of the Baptist World Alliance, accusing the worldwide organization of a drift toward liberalism that included growing tolerance of homosexuality, support for women in the clergy and ‘anti-American’ pronouncements.” (Washington Post: Wednesday, June 16, 2004; Page A02.)

We can’t remember a time when the SBC practiced authentic biblical separation.  So, when the SBC decides to split from another Baptist organization that is saying something. This begs the question- Why would BJU host the BWA’s former president when the SBC saw enough to separate from the BWA under Kim’s leadership?

The optics of hosting Dr. Kim, a new evangelical, was terrible.

We understand the invitation to Dr. Kim was extended by Dr. Bob Jones, III. In his own words he explained the rationale for invitation. Dr. Jones, whom we love and appreciate, had left the president’s office several years prior. Then and current BJU president, Steve Pettit would have done well to disallow Kims appearance on campus.

We are documenting numerous disconcerting occurrences at the university. For example:

  • Featuring the men’s music group Cantus for their Artist Series. Cantus is partly compromised of practicing homosexuals, which was known to the university when the invitation was extended (Jan. 2015).
  • A modernized casual dress code that strays from modesty for Christian young women (Sept. 2018).
  • Hosting evangelicals Ken Ham (twice) and Tim Tebow.
  • Sam Horn and Steve Pettit in cooperative ministry with Southern Baptists and Presbyterians.
  • Retaining Southern Baptist (SBC) ministers on faculty. (Lonnie Polson & Jeffrey Stegall)
  • Inviting to campus for special meetings Dr. Andy Naselli from The Gospel Coalition and John Pipers seminary (Nov. 2019).
  • Dr. Pettit forming BJGrass, a bluegrass performance group compromised of himself and BJU students. The vocals present a country western style, with vocal scooping and sliding. This takes BJU into the realm of popular culture.
  • Directing its Bible Conference offering to Save the Storks, a secular pro-life organization headed by new evangelical Herb McCarthy (Feb. 2020).
  • BJU brings Cary Schmidt to its Bible Conference, (Feb. 2020) on staff at Lancaster Baptist Church with Paul Chappell, and further contemporary and pragmatic than West Coast and Chappell. (Ht: What is Truth blog)
  • Dr. John Street- featured speaker at the CORE conference. A Southern Baptist, adjunct professor at Southern Baptist Theological and Chair of Biblical Counseling at John MacArthur’s Master’s University & Seminary (March 2020).
  • Steve Pettit crossing the country to participate in John MacArthurs Shepherds Conference and meets with John MacArthur (March 2020).
The Pattern is Self-Evident
Steve Pettit and Sam Horn have BJU on a pathway much like that which ultimately ruined Northland Baptist Bible College. The first indication that Northland had changed was Sam Horn’s role in bringing non-separatist Rick Holland from John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church and Master’s University to speak in Northland’s chapel. Rick Holland at the time was John MacArthur’s executive pastor and founder of the Resolved Conference.3 Since Sam Horn’s arrival at BJU the university has seen many so-called “conservative” evangelicals on its campus.
Doran left, Dever center, Bauder 2nd right

Early Sign of the Coming Compromise
Nearly ten years ago I began discussing and documenting examples of Drs. Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran spear-heading a movement to practice and encourage men in their sphere of influence to set aside the principles of biblical separation for a type of “separation in academic contexts.”4 This legitimized entering into fellowship and cooperative ministry with the so-called “conservative” evangelicals.

2001 Graham Crusade
I suggested then that their efforts could eventually bridge the gap from Fundamentalism toward new evangelicalism through the “conservative” evangelicals. At the time we had already seen John Piper and Al Mohler embracing new-evangelicalism. Examples such as: Dr. Billy Graham, Rick Warren, the Mormon Church and signing the Manhattan Declaration.

Have Hopes Been Dashed
One pastor wrote, “It saddens me greatly that [Steve] Pettit is bringing down my alma mater.”  He followed with, “I doubt there is an alumnus, who graduated during [or prior to] the Bob Jones III era, which would be unwilling to acknowledge the university, has and is violating the very separatist principles we were taught as students.”

BJU’s changes in policy, speakers and alignment compromises are eerily similar to those that brought down Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, Tennessee Temple, Clearwater Christian College, Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale, PA) and the former Northland Baptist Bible College.

Good men pray for and have met with BJU President Steve Pettit encouraging him to reverse the current direction of the university. Their appeals, while given a hearing, have not produced any positive moves to reclaim its separatist heritage. What more does one need to see to be convinced that BJU has changed? The situation there appears to have become unrecoverable. Hopes for the school returning to its foundational principles have essentially been dashed.

Steve Pettit and Sam Horn have pushed BJU far off its historical moorings to come alongside compromising, non-separatist evangelicalism.

Lou Martuneac

Related Reading:
1) This is Not Your Fathers BJU

2) Billy Kim and The Korean Children’s Choir

3) NIU Presents Rick Holland to its Student Body

In April 2010 Matt Olson, Sam Horn, Les Ollila and Doug McLachlan traveled to the Grace Community Church (GCC) to meet with John MacArthur, Phil Johnson and Rick Holland. After a day of discussions the NIU men came away finding no reason not to have and increase fellowship with them. Inviting GCC’s executive pastor, Rick Holland, to speak in chapel confirms a new alliance for NIU with evangelicalism.
4) Under the guise of a so-called, Second Definition for Separation in Academic Contexts, we have seen scores of younger men encouraged to neuter, water down or sidestep the doctrine of biblical separation for the sake of cooperation with compromising evangelicals. Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, et., al. have by their own example encouraged the next generation to cooperate with evangelicals, and thereby put them on the road toward new evangelicalism.

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