November 17, 2022

BJU Board of Trustees Retains Dr. Steve Pettit


Just announced, "Bob Jones University Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the re-election of Steve Pettit to a three-year term as President by an overwhelming majority..."

Apart from an explanation from the board we can only speculate over how their decision was arrived at, what if any conditions were set down and what the decision means for the future trajectory of BJU. To that end we ask...

  • Does this mean that the board now affirms the direction Dr. Pettit is taking the school or that the board was backed into a corner and succumbed to mob pressure?
  • Where does this put the concerns of Dr. Bob III? "...over the last year some embarrassing, antithetical things, historically uncharacteristic things, which would have never happened in the past have occurred."
  • Did the board identify, "...the root cause from which the declensions of the last year have emanated and [find the] firmness to do whatever is necessary, however painful, to stop the hemorrhage?"
  • Has the board looked three years ahead and decided it's better to hang on for three years than to root the Pettit team out now and create a larger crisis?
  • Have any safe guards, boundaries and greater accountability been put in place as a condition of remaining in the presidency?
  • Will there be resignations from the school and board members who could not in good conscience vote to renew?
  • How many more of BJU’s remaining original constituents will now be moving on?
  • Having voted to retain Pettit, what assurances do we have that the school will not continue cooperating with ecumenicals like Franklin Graham?
  • Will the proliferation of Southern Baptist and Reformed Theologian hirings continue?
  • Will Pettit introduce drum kits and electric guitars into the worship music menu?
  • Will Dr. Pettit feel emboldened to accelerate his erasure of BJU's fundamentalist foundations?
  • Will Pettit and his administration push the university even farther to the left in a spirit of liberation (for them)?
The latter half of the Board's announcement is a carefully crafted statement. Reading it is like looking into a refrigerator full of food with nothing to eat in it. A reader could assign most any meaning he wants. Does, "The Board strongly supports the President..." imply the Board strongly supports Steve Pettit's eight years effort to eliminate and erase the schools fundamentalist, separatist foundation and legacy? Does that kind of strong support strongly suggest we can expect to see more, "embarrassing, antithetical things, historically uncharacteristic things, which would have never happened in the past?"


LM

UpDate: See comment section below for remarks stemming from Steve Pettit's morning speech to the student body.

Previous Articles in the Series 


November 14, 2022

While We Wait: Let's Talk About It

I
have published three articles addressing the pending, but uncertain contract renewal of BJU president Steve Pettit. They are in chronological order:




While we await the decision of the board of trustees let's talk about open letters, petitioners and the board.

Open Letters & Petitioning
I have read all of the open letters and articles I'm aware of. These are passionate appeals for the renewal of Pettit’s contract. They cite accreditation, tax exempt status and financial stability as compelling reasons to renew his contract. The business community would naturally applaud such accomplishments.

What I don't recall is any serious discussion let alone mention of the blasphemous fashion show Pettit's faculty and department heads allowed for. Entangling BJU students with Franklin Graham's ecumenical movement is brushed aside. A Midsummer Summer Night's Dream is passed over as if nothing to see here. The announcement of then sudden cancelation of NFL QB Trevor Lawrence keynote speaking for the Bruins Athletic Club 10th anniversary essentially flies under the radar. The open letter and petition crowd do not acknowledge any of these things as vital components for consideration in the contract renewal discussion.

They suggest the controversy is merely over, "preferences of Christian practice," such as dress codes, "questionable performances and musical selections." As one man observed,
"Why is it that the least of all concerns (dress standards) is the one so many are harping on? Dress standards have changed for various reasons from one generation to the next (I dare say that through the nine decades of the university's history, changes have taken place concerning dress standards). Biblical truth does not change."
In the open letters and petition comments I sense an underlying theme: subtle revulsion of fidelity to the best of personal holiness we can hope to instill into our young people. A friend who doesn't want to speak publicly at present and asked me not to name him said,
"Some are labeling carnality as spirituality just because they enjoy it and want to cast it in positive language. Such lying would be the devil’s way, indeed. And he would also lie about serious-minded holiness and call it legalism. A world in which both God and Satan are strongly at work is a complicated world indeed!"
At stake is whether or not Pettit will be allowed another three years to steer young people away from the best practices of sanctified living through a balanced biblical separatism. Since his arrival Pettit has incrementally transformed the school into a mill for molding students into non-separatist, compromised evangelicals. 

As one friend sees it, 
"The efforts of Dr. Pettit to move toward evangelicalism and away from the university's separatist, fundamentalist foundation, mooring are now almost legion. And no one who commends Dr. Pettit's actions cares to actually address the serious compromise. I believe they know that they are indefensible, so they instead, create straw men about rather inconsequential issues like dress standards and then defend Dr. Pettit on these issues."
Pettit and his administration prioritize a business model with greater concern for cultural relativism than fidelity to the whole counsel of God, giving God and His Word the benefit of the doubt and preeminence. Another BJU alumni observes, "The changes are a function of...primary forces. One of these is pressure to adapt to cultural viewpoints in order to maintain student population and to provide needed funds...."

Open letter and petition signers fail to recognize church/college history is replete with examples of accommodating the worlds culture in moderation eventually leads to extremes. Liberty University and Cedarville didn't become what they are now overnight. Slowly and incrementally the founding principles were chipped away at until what was meant to be moderation opened the door to the extremes. The pattern was true for other schools that instead of becoming new evangelical like Liberty and Cedarville, ultimately closed their doors. See, Why These Schools Collapsed & What Does it Mean for BJU?
"Why did Clearwater close, Northland close, Pillsbury close, Calvary Baptist Seminary close, Tennessee Temple close…. why did they fall, what happened and what can we learn?"
"Every failed school veered from its conservative and historic base to accommodate a new base…and each time it was the death knell of the school."
Steve Pettit and his administration are following the same pattern that led to new evangelicalism or closure. Only naive thinking would conclude "veer[ing] from its conservative and historic base" won't yield one of the two disastrous results.

In one of the open letters the writer posits the potential for legal action if Pettit's contract is not renewed. He raises raises the specter of "legal action...or incoming suits" if Pettit is not retained? How does that square with 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, love for BJU and the brethren?

Now let's talk about...

The Board of Trustees
A board of directors or trustees serve in similar capacities. A board of trustees is similar to a board of directors but is more commonly found in private organizations. Such is the case with BJU. I think the BJU board has some crossover responsibilities as directors and trustees. A board is charged with hiring the president, directing, overseeing and assessing the organizations strategy, maintaining certain standards, principles and practices. The president or CEO is responsible to and serves at the pleasure of the board. The board can hire, dictate to and/or fire the organization's president at will.

Why might a board appear to be a dictatorship? It's because directors dictate to, set and maintain the overall direction of the organization. If a board believes the president is taking the organization in a contrary direction the board can admonish, make demands of or if all else fails terminate the president.

The board of Apple fired Steve Jobs (1985) Later rehired Jobs (1997).The board of Papa John's fired "Papa" John Schnatter (2018). The BJU board is and will act within its capacity and according to its mandate.

If we read the Scriptural principles of how we are to respond to authority, outside forces wouldn't be trying to undermine or intimidate these men whom God has given the position of trustee. (Romans 13:1-4; Ephesians 6:5-8; Hebrews 13:17.) 

Another quote from my friend above added,
"If necessary, I would rather see the school close gracefully than to see an extremely ugly conflict blot the name of Christ. The spiritual failure I've been concerned about in recent years is that of the faculty and administration who might take the school seriously leftward. Now I am contemplating the possibility of spiritual failure by the whole constituency, or some significant faction(s) of it, whose conduct could perhaps prove highly unbecoming of the gospel."
Instead of veiled threats of legal action, ginning up public outrage and political pressure wouldn't the best choice be praying for all involved among the administration and board to seek the mind of God and follow their conscience as the Holy Spirit guides?

Pray that each of the principals involved be like little Samuel. That they might die to self and in a humble spirit say "Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth." (1 Samuel 3:9-10)

Yours faithfully,


LM

Related Reading



"The anecdotal argument, then, is that when a school abandons its core positions—separation, music, standards, associations, conservative theology the base notices and they withdraw support because they were trained to do so by the institutions that have now betrayed them."

November 4, 2022

Bob Jones III, "No One Wins Unless the Cause Wins"

Following is a copy of a letter written by Dr. Bob Jones III. My understanding this letter was sent to persons troubled by the controversy taking place at the university.  I am speculating, but I believe the letter was his reply to people who inquired with him about these things. I don’t believe it was sent out as anything like an open letter or some other unsolicited message. So he was not ramping up a communications effort; he was only providing a reply to inquirers. His letter is an example of Christian charity, wisdom and statesmanship. I trust his measured words will have a calming effect.


Dear
 _____:

Your concerns for the future of the University are not unwarranted. I delight in you and all other graduates like you who want the University to stay spiritually strong and aligned with its founding purposes. If I sat where you sit, I would see a favorable picture of BJU just as you do. There is so much to be thankful for over the years that Dr. Pettit has been at the helm. I consider that we are personal friends and by many important measurements the University is doing very, very well.

However, over the last year some embarrassing, antithetical things, historically uncharacteristic things, which would have never happened in the past have occurred. From all over the country the Board received pleas from graduates and others, to look into these matters fearing that the University had veered in its direction, and unique distinctives without which it would become irrelevant. Naturally, the Board was obligated, by reason of its existence, to step in. One Board member put it this way. “BJU has no future if we have a Board that has no say so in BJU’s future.” The Board did the right thing by coming to the president, who is their employee, for answers. These discussions are ongoing.

If a successful solution results, it will only occur if both parties maintain an overarching understanding that the University’s best interest is to be served more than the personal interest of either side. Each side must show that no ones [sic] wins unless the cause wins. Only one side, the university’s side, must come out the winner. That will not happen if the permanent is sacrificed on the altar of the immediate.

I find myself–by request both from the president and from the Board–deeply involved. There is so much more I would like to share with you but cannot. I do ask that you realize that the Board would not be involved if it did not feel its bylaws mandated it to be the protector of the institution’s character, and as the one to whom the president is accountable. Hopefully, everyone involved in this wants the outcome to leave the University in a stronger place than before, and with its mission protected from the seepage of religious or cultural compromises.

I would simply ask that every graduate who has “continued in the things which you have learned” (2 Tim 3:14) and wishes the University to maintain its spiritual character and mission give the board wisdom to know the root cause from which the declensions of the last year have emanated and firmness to do whatever is necessary, however painful, to stop the hemorrhage.

Kind regards,

Bob Jones III

For More in the series see, While We Wait: Let's Talk About It

Site Publisher Addendum:

Examples of, "embarrassing, antithetical things, historically uncharacteristic things, which would have never happened in the past occurred," include

BJU Fashion Design Runway Show

BJU Embraces Franklin Graham's Ecumenical Movement

BJU Compromised Spiritual Sanctification for Secular Pragmatism

Previous Articles in the Current Series:

Steve Pettit's Tenure at BJU in Question

IFCA Meddling in the Affairs of BJU

October 29, 2022

IFCA Meddling in the Affairs of BJU


L
ast week I published a brief article about BJU president Steve Pettit and the current state of affairs regarding whether or not the board will renew his contract. Return to, Steve Pettit's Tenure at BJU in Question for details.

Yesterday I received a carbon of an email that passed through two other hands before it came to me. The author allowed for and encouraged it being forwarded to others.

The author of the email and its recipients' ministries are publicly trying to whip up a mob to pressure BJU's board. The sender and two recipients of the email are as follows:
Dave Deets

-Dave Deets, in Fairview, NC, is the vice president of ministries in The Institute of Biblical Leadership (IBL). See:    https://www.iblministry.org/about/team


 -Bud Haskell is secretary and on the board of Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA) International, California Church Extension.

 -Richard Bargas is executive director of IFCA, International California  IFCA International.

Deets, Haskell, Bargas the IFCA & IBL are meddling regarding the internal affairs of BJU. I post their email that these men might be reproved (2 Tim. 3:16-17and biblically repent of their deed.


LM


From: Dave Deets <daved@iblministry.org>

Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2022 11:41 AM

To: Bud Haskell <bhaskell425@gmail.com>

Cc: Richard Bargas <bargas@ifca.org>

Subject: Help for Dr. Steve Pettit and Bob Jones University

Men of the IFCA:

I am writing to you with the full support and approval of Dr. Bargas:

As many of you are aware, Bob Jones University has hosted our CORPs retreat for the past 5 years. For that, we are deeply grateful. Many of you joined a zoom meeting last year after the CORPs retreat and heard about the challenges that were happening between those in the Foundations Baptist Fellowship movement and their influence over the board. Many of you responded with emails and letters of support to Dr. Pettit, Dr. Benson, and Dr. Wood. I wanted to give you an update on things.

Two weeks ago, the faculty and staff gave Dr. Pettit a standing ovation for his work at BJU and the systematic and intentional changes that have been made. Immediately following the standing ovation, the Chairman of the Board stood up and addressed the Faculty and Staff and let them know that the board was seriously considering not renewing his contract and would in essence be terminating him as President. The reasons for this have been written about in a number of Fundamental Baptist blogs. Among the concerns that have been written about are:

• Steve is no longer a separationist because he allowed the students to participate in packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes last year as part of their campus outreach

• Steve is an ecumenical because he has preached at a couple of area Presbyterian churches, so far the IFCA has not been named in the demise of the ecumenicism, but I do know that some have issues with Steve’s participation with us

• Steve has allowed the women to wear pants to class

• Steve has allowed the parents to determine what church their children will attend. For a few of you, you will remember we had this conversation with Steve and Sam and other administrators when the University flew 4 or 5 of us down there several years ago

 To that end, there has been a petition created to show support for and encouragement for Steve Pettit and the administration of Bob Jones. I am fully aware of the history of BJU and I am also super appreciative as an alumnus of what is happening. My son Caleb is a Junior there this year and I can testify first hand of his growth in his spiritual life and maturity and development as a Christ-honoring young man thanks to the influence of the faculty, staff, and administration.

Please sign this petition
[Link Deleted by Site Publisher]

 If you would be so kind as to sign this petition and if you would like to share this on your social media feeds or in other venues. I know that some of you have had Steve come and preach for you and bring the musical groups to your church. If there are those in your church that you would like to make aware of this petition, please feel free to send this to them.

Thank you so much men and please let me know if you have questions.


Dave Deets D.Min.
Vice President of Ministries

October 26, 2022

Steve Pettit's Tenure at BJU in Question


 Word has been circulating that Dr. Steve Pettit may not be retained as president of BJU. What we know is that his contract is up for a three year renewal and its renewal is not automatic.  There is an effort by supporters of Pettit to pressure the Executive Committee (EC) and Board of Trustees (BoT) to retain him as president.  An online petition was posted yesterday seeking signatures to support retaining Pettit. It states,

Our president is under evaluation for a renewal of his contract in the coming months. It is vital for the student body, faculty, and any others to show their support for Dr. Steve Pettit.

The college president works at the pleasure of the board. The people pushing for him to stay are pushing against the school's ultimate authority. Worse yet, they are doing it in a public forum, which is against the principles of 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 and fails to consider the lessons taught when the people of Israel murmured against Moses.

Many believe Steve Pettit's relentless effort to erase the school's fundamentalist, separatist legacy demands his removal. Many egregious examples can be accessed below.

Pray for the EC and BoT. They will be targeted to capitulate to mob like pressure.


LM

Proceed to: IFCA Meddling in the Affairs of BJU

Related Reading:

FACTS: An Enlarged Discussion By Dr. David Beale

Steve Pettit Issues a Statement: Is There Nothing More to See Here?

BJU Embraces Franklin Graham's Ecumenical Movement

"Cooperating with Franklin Graham was an act of sinful disobedience to the Word of God. It is an example of ecumenical encroachment at BJU that was heartily endorsed by Steve Pettit." 

BJU Lurches Further Into Evangelicalism

BJU Subtle Rejection of Ecclesiastical Separation: Is This Northland All Over Again?

"This is Not Your Father's Oldsmobile," and Neither is BJU


September 20, 2022

In Defense of the Gospel, Review: Its Biblical Accuracy in Answering the Lordship Position

Every believer in Jesus Christ must be informed about the subject of Lordship Salvation. It is one of the most popular, yet dangerous aberrations of the true gospel in existence today. While it claims to uphold salvation by grace through faith alone, it practically opposes this truth by adding extra-biblical stipulations such as commitment to serve, dedication, obedience, surrender, on-going discipleship, turning from sins, and faithful perseverance to the end of one’s life. All of these become practical requirements for entering heaven’s glory one day according to the Lordship Salvation scheme. In the book, In Defense of the Gospel, Lou Martuneac has provided the body of Christ with a very informative and helpful explanation of this significant difference between the false gospel of Lordship Salvation and the true, saving gospel of God’s grace.

The author knows his subject well. He is battled-tested. He first encountered this false form of the gospel and combated it on the African mission field. Later he had extensive interaction with leading advocates of this view in North America. Martuneac has been indefatigable in defending the truth of salvation by grace alone, and his book reflects this experience through its judicious selection of quotations documenting the Lordship position. One will not find here straw men being erected and then being knocked down all too-easily, leaving the reader without any real help in answering Lordship Salvationists. Instead, one will find that the author is as committed to the truth in fairly representing the opposing viewpoint as he is in his own handling of God’s Word—the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).

In this respect, the most important feature of this book is its biblical accuracy in answering the Lordship position. The book’s content is consistent with its subtitle: “Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation.” In Defense of the Gospel opens with an introduction to the problem of Lordship Salvation, and then provides an historical overview of the Lordship controversy up to the present day. This is followed by chapters dealing with each of the main problem areas in Lordship Salvation including the distinction between discipleship and salvation, the reality of the carnal Christian, the real meaning of repentance, the nature of saving faith, and the deity of Christ as “Lord.” These chapter-topics are followed by chapters treating key passages in the Lordship debate, such as Romans 10:9-10, Acts 16:30-31, and the rich young ruler passages in the Gospels.

What are Martuneac’s doctrinal conclusions in each of these areas? Here is a brief sampler to whet the appetites of prospective readers:

(a) In the chapter “Salvation and Discipleship: Is There a Biblical Difference?” the author appropriately distinguishes between the free gift of salvation and the costliness of discipleship in the Christian life for rewards. He writes, “Salvation and discipleship are two separate and distinct issues. Salvation is the gift of God to an undeserving Hell-bound sinner. Discipleship is what ought to flow from the man or woman who through the shed blood of Jesus Christ has been redeemed from sin, death, and Hell. Confusing the cost of discipleship for the believer with the gospel of grace through faith is one of the most disconcerting errors of Lordship Salvation” (p. 85).

(b) In the chapter “Can There Be a Christian Who Is Carnal?” Martuneac proves the reality that a person can be simultaneously born again (“a Christian”) and walking according to the flesh (“carnal”). He uses 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Romans 7:14-25; and numerous Old and New Testament characters to support this biblical reality. He concludes by stating: “Lordship advocates who struggle with the reality of carnal Christians in the church would do well to read again 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. They would do well to let the Bible say what it says, without the trappings of logic and rationalizations to make it fit their system. They would do well to refrain from trying to force the Scriptures into conformity with the presuppositions of Lordship Salvation. The Bible is clear: a man can be genuinely born again, indwelled with the Spirit of God, and live as a carnal Christian at the same time” (p. 119).

(c) In the chapter “What Is Biblical Repentance?” the author humbly acknowledges that he has made significant changes to this chapter on repentance from the original edition of the book (p. 123). It is clear that his doctrine of repentance is the same as traditional Free Grace stalwarts such as C. I. Scofield, Lewis Sperry Chafer, and Charles Ryrie. These men of God all taught that saving repentance is the change of mind about God, sin, the Savior, and salvation that is inherent to faith in Christ for eternal life. Martuneac defines saving repentance the same way, as “a change of mind where one recognizes he is a hopeless, Hell-bound sinner before a just and holy God. When he agrees with the convincing and convicting work of the Holy Spirit that he is a sinner (John 16:7-9) and transfers his dependence to the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation—he has biblically repented. Biblical repentance is a change of mind that should produce the fruit of a change in direction from self and sin toward God. The fruit that should follow is distinct from repentance itself” (pp. 145-46). This is contrary to the Lordship Salvation position which defines repentance for eternal life as a turning from sin that will necessarily lead to a changed life and changed behavior pattern. In distinction to the Lordship view, Martuneac states that the “evidences of a changed life” are “not automatic or the necessary result of a person having initially repented about Jesus Christ at the time of new birth” (p. 147).

(d) In the chapter on “What Is Biblical Saving Faith?” Martuneac defines faith as “a child-like trust in God, which accepts the record He has given of His Son” (p. 150). He goes on to demonstrate how Lordship proponents load the word “faith” with meritorious concepts such as obedience, full surrender, paying the price, and exchanging self for salvation. Martuneac rightly objects to this “barter-system” of salvation, saying “the faith that saves man from the penalty of his sin cannot include any kind of meritorious works. . . . Salvation is obtained through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Man is saved by faith plus nothing!” (p. 151, ellipsis added).

In Defense of the Gospel continues to present the clear truth of salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone by examining one-chapter-at-a-time three key passages that frequently arise in the Lordship debate. The chapter on Romans 10:9-10 shows that submission to the lordship or mastery of Christ is not being required for salvation, but belief and acceptance of Christ’s deity as sovereign are being taught. Likewise, to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” in Acts 16:31 does not make believing synonymous with surrendering all areas of the life to the lordship of Christ in order to be born again. Nor did Christ require the rich young ruler to be good and to keep the Ten Commandments in order to enter into eternal life, which is the Lordship interpretation. Instead, Christ was seeking to show the man his sinfulness, self-righteousness, and self-reliance, which was standing in the way of his faith in Christ.

Finally, the book contains three concluding chapters exhorting the reader to stand strong for the truth of the gospel and that this is an issue of biblical separation if there ever was one. This subject of separation is rarely addressed in the Lordship debate, and I am grateful that Martuneac’s book offers this distinctive appeal that is so sorely needed in our day.

There are also eight insightful appendixes at the end of the book on various subjects relating to Lordship Salvation, including the especially important connection between Calvinistic Reformed theology and the doctrine of Lordship Salvation.

The book contains endorsements on the back cover from notables such as Drs. Robert P. Lightner, Ron Comfort, and Charlie Bing, as well as evangelist John R. Van Gelderen. The book is sturdy, well-constructed, and reasonably priced for a standard-sized paperback.

It is also important to note that though this book is consistent with a Free Grace position on salvation in its opposition to Lordship Salvation, In Defense of the Gospel does not hold to the Grace Evangelical Society’s version of “Free Grace.” Sometimes Lordship Salvationists wrongly assume that all Free Grace people adhere to the unbiblical views of the G.E.S. regarding (1) repentance not being a necessary condition for eternal life and (2) not needing to believe in the deity of Christ and His finished work to be born again (i.e., the “crossless gospel”). Martuneac thankfully maintains the biblically balanced view of the nature and content of saving faith in his book by expressly opposing these excesses of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the teachers of G.E.S. theology (pp. 31-35).

So where does In Defense of the Gospel fall among the various good books currently on the market that are opposed to Lordship Salvation? In comparison to Charles Ryrie’s So Great Salvation, Martuneac’s book is beneficial in addressing the subject of Lordship Salvation more directly and more thoroughly. (Martuneac’s book is roughly twice the length of Ryrie’s.) On the other hand, it is not as technical and exegetically “heavy” as Charlie Bing’s book, which was originally his doctoral dissertation. In Defense of the Gospel is geared to the average person and is quite readable. Martuneac is to be commended for providing believers with another very valuable resource on this critical subject. I strongly recommend this book.


Pastor Tom Stegall

July 11, 2022

Review of Christian Fundamentalism in America

The book Christian Fundamentalism in America (2021) by Dr. David Beale should be read by every believer who desires a well-documented review of the theological heritage of Fundamentalism, as well as the current trends shaping the future of the movement. The volume is a combination of church history and Fundamentalist apologetic, giving insight into the lives of those who have been faithful to the cause of Christ, as well as those who have dipped the banner. I am confident that you will be blessed and challenged by it. It is available online through venues such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

Bud Steadman, 

Executive Director Baptist World Mission


Related Reading:

FACTS by Dr. David Beale

Bob Jones University Embraces Franklin Graham’s Ecumenical Movement  

The Separatist Cause is not Advanced by Featuring non-Separatists, Dr. Ernest Pickering 

Is This a Fundamentalism Worth Saving?

June 20, 2022

Lordship Salvation: A Powerful & Penetrating Summary

The following (revised version for this posting) appears in the pages of the current revised and expanded edition of In Defense of the Gospel published in 2010.

Immediately following publication of the original 2006 edition numerous on-line reviews and/or discussion threads opened. The Sharper Iron site, which has never been fair to or friendly toward authentic balanced fundamentalism, posted a review with a lengthy discussion thread following. One man submitted a number of helpful comments. Elements of his commentary were among the most penetrating observations of Lordship’s theology. With his permission I have cited below a brief compilation of his various comments. I reproduce them here for your consideration.

     When one gets faith wrong and makes it a work or quality of the soul, they then must have faith as a gift of God. In order for that to happen they then need regeneration to precede faith. With that then they load all sorts of expectations upon the soul desiring to come to Christ. This is probably why MacArthur indicates one cannot be saved without “unconditional surrender…full exchange of self for the Saviour.” His subsequent books do not clarify or moderate these kinds of statements, but only reinforce them.

This is wrong and an unbiblical definition of faith and what one must do to be saved. It demands certain qualities be present in the soul. That is clearly works! It is very disheartening to see people that would endorse MacArthur’s position. They should point out its errors. These are not merely over statements as in question and answer sessions. MacArthur has made his position very clear. It is not classic Calvinism, but Puritan. He has been accused by others of bordering on a Roman Catholicism works salvation… . Of course, from MacArthur’s viewpoint, all these qualities are part of faith so he repeatedly states that “salvation is by faith alone.” 

The biblical gospel is not a Lordship gospel or a non-lordship gospel. It is a simple gospel of faith in Christ and it has a simple definition of faith. Faith involves the intellect, sensibilities, and the will, but is a simple receiving of truth by reliance upon it. No full surrender, no leaving all, no turning from sin. All that follows is the very first aspects of sanctification. It is not part of the Gospel. We show our faith by our works but we have our faith when simply trusting in Christ.

Related Reading:
Summary of Lordship Salvation from a Single Page



April 27, 2022

FACTS, An Enlarged Discussion by Dr. David Beale

Earlier we documented Bob Jones University (BJU) stepping into ecumenical compromise with Franklin Graham. See BJU Embraces Franklin Graham's Ecumenical Movement. That was the latest among many excursions, engineered by BJU president Steve Pettit, into non-separatist evangelicallism and the ecumenical movement. From Dr. David Beale's new book Christian Fundamentalism in America I included a brief excerpt in the BJU/Graham article above and in the BJU: Compromised Spiritual Sanctification for Secular Pragmatism article. Dr. David Beale has written an article to expand on and bolster his argument. That article follows. (Originally appeared 12/14/21).

“After being the premier fundamentalist academic institution for eighty-seven years, BJU elected Dr. Steve Pettit in 2014, as the president who steered the University out of separatist Fundamentalism into the inclusive, Broad Evangelical movement,” David Beale, Christian Fundamentalism in America (Maitland, FL: Xulon, 2021), 179, 530.

• Dr. Andy Naselli, in his 2006 BJU dissertation, scorns independent, Fundamental Baptists for giving invitations to “surrender oneself to God.” Naselli criticizes the practice and calls it a “second blessing.” Naselli unsuccessfully tried to identify the Fundamentalist movement with Keswick extremes on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Naselli then identified with Broad Evangelicalism. He now serves on the faculty of John Piper’s College and Seminary, which are Reformed Charismatic schools urging every Christian to seek all NT gifts, including tongues and healing. Piper claims that “Signs and wonders” and all spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are valid for today and must be “earnestly desired.” Piper says, “Prophecy and tongues will continue until Jesus comes.”1 Naselli is a pastor of Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Naselli seeks to transform Fundamentalists into Evangelicalism. In 2019, Dr. Pettit brought Naselli back to BJU to present the lectures for the annual Steward Custer Lecture Series. Naselli’s books were promoted. The late Dr. Custer all his life had been a stalwart Fundamentalist. Naselli represents Broad Evangelicalism. The bond between BJU and Evangelicalism has been clear since the beginning of Pettit’s administration.

• Dr. Sam Horn was executive vice president for enrollment and ministerial advancement at Bob Jones University when, on 2-7-2020, Dr. Pettit announced to all, “Dr. Horn is greatly honored today, and BJU is honored to have one of its own become the next president of The Master’s University and Seminary.” Horn succeeded Dr. John Stead. Dr. John MacArthur, a leading Evangelical, had led The Master’s University and Seminary as president from 1984 to 2018. Dr. Pettit preached for John MacArthur in a conference that year (2020). John Street, Chair of Biblical Counseling at The Master’s University, spoke at BJU’s CoRE Conference March 9–10, 2020. Street is an adjunct professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. By claiming that the word Fundamentalism can have no single definition,2 BJU leaders claim the label separatist but practice non-separatism (inclusivism). With such a notion, BJU attempts to sit on both sides of the fence—Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism—at the same time.

• Under Dr. Pettit’s administration, BJU students are permitted to bond with churches of denominations harboring apostasy.3 The following churches (underscored below) are among those approved for BJU students to attend.

Covenant Community (Taylors, SC): An Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). On one of their website videos, the pastor poured water on a little child’s head and said, “This is like Abraham’s ‘baptizing his whole house’” (Genesis 17). The pastor substituted the word baptism for the word circumcision and called it regeneration. Augustine and Roman Catholicism devised and standardized this doctrine, which assumes an OT circumcisional regeneration for Jewish males.4 Romanism transformed that doctrine into NT water baptismal regeneration to elect infants. Forms of that doctrine passed into Reformed theology. John Calvin insisted that OT circumcision engrafted the Jewish infant into the covenant [elect] family of God; thus, NT baptism engrafts a newborn child into the body of Christ.5 Reformed doctrine leads many to believe the seed of regeneration is implanted at infant baptism, though salvation might occur later.6

Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church (Simpsonville, SC), PCA church.

Second Presbyterian Church (Greenville, SC): A Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). This church’s senior pastor is Dr. Richard Phillips, adjunct professor and member of the Board of Trustees at Westminster Theological Seminary, which enforces no dress codes and allows the use of alcoholic beverages.7

➢ Richard Phillips is also on the Board of Directors of (1) the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals; (2) the Council of The Gospel Coalition, and (3) the Council of the Gospel Reformation Network.8

➢ On October 12, 2019, at Phillips’ Second Presbyterian Church, Dr. Pettit participated in a Conference on Reformed Theology.

• To begin chapel on February 5, 2018, Dr. Pettit announced, “We are honored this morning to have as our guest Dr. Gene Fant,” president of North Greenville University, a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) school. Fant was welcomed with a standing ovation.9 The so-called “SBC Conservative Resurgence” has now spiraled into a deadening mix.10

Calvary First Baptist Church (Greenville, SC): SBC church.

Roper Mountain Baptist Church (Greenville): SBC church.

Rock Springs Baptist Church (Easley, SC): SBC church. Dr. Pettit, BJU President, spoke here October 6, 2019.

White Oak Baptist Church (Greenville, SC): Affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and the Greenville Baptist Association. Their lead pastor is Lonnie Polson, BJU Division Chair of Communication of the School of Fine Arts. Their music director is Jeff Stegall, BJU Associate Professor in the Theatre Arts Department.

• For the article, “Bob Jones University Embraces Franklin Graham's Ecumenical Movement: HaveYou Finally Seen Enough?” click the following link: BJU Embraces Franklin Graham....

• Dr. Steve Pettit permits dress style, music, and entertainment of the world’s style. For the Artist Series of January 27, 2015, he brought in the music group, “Cantus,” which includes beer drinkers and known homosexuals.11

• The following letter was sent to me on 10-14-2021 from a concerned grandfather who has grandchildren at BJU:

In 2021, at Bob Jones University, the first of the fall semester’s artist series was conducted on October 7 in the FMA. The program was titled “Symphonic Hollywood: Featuring the Music of Lee Holdridge.” The guest conductor was Richard Kaufman. The featured selections were beautifully done, and each was announced by Kaufman, interspersed with lavish praise on BJU and its leadership. Kaufman mentioned his background which included his participation with a Los Angeles orchestra in which he played violin for the recording of music for “Animal House,” a raunchy R-rated movie. He expressed no regret for its production. On the contrary, he mentioned that his contribution helped launch his career as a conductor. Not once did he mention any conflict between Christian beliefs and the moral cesspool of Hollywood. Nor did he give any confirmation of Christian belief. Yet he gave the impression that a believer could function contentedly in such an environment. Toward the end of the program, Jay Matthews and another representative, on behalf of the University, awarded Kaufman with a certificate and plaque granting him lifetime membership as an honorary alumnus of BJU. In the program notes on Kaufman, the bio states that “his wife Gayle is a former dancer and actress in film, television, and on Broadway, and his daughter, Whitney, is a highly successful singer and actress.” 

All of this conveys to BJU students that a vocation in the worldly Hollywood scene is perfectly acceptable and, indeed highly commendable. The artist series productions have in recent years included more Broadway-type productions, mingled with the brilliant work of such Christian artists as Dan Forrest. “Broadway” sums up the philosophy of the new Bob Jones University— broad and inclusive.

Students are not learning to distinguish the true from the false kinds of entertainment, evangelicalism, and life-styes. This is lamentable and tragic. There was a day when Bob Jones University could be trusted to instill in its students the virtues of a separated godly lifestyle. Now the University simply wants to “fit into” the culture, to accommodate and even imitate its behavior.

Conclusion

Believers identified with the SBC, PCA, OPC, etc. are lending credibility to false teachers and false gospels. The believer who willingly does such is living in sin. People all over the country know that BJU is Evangelical. It is old news. Evangelicals often say, “Identification is a non-essential.” That mindset constitutes the difference between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism! Indifference is dangerous! It is a path God forbids! “For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John verse 11). One’s personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ determines his church identification! “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward” (2 John vs. 8). We must never entangle the message of the gospel with man-made organizations and institutions that harbor false gospels.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.... After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also, of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:28–30).

Every moment of our lives, we are building our ministries upon either the foundation of gold, silver, and precious stones, or upon a foundation of wood, hay, and stubble. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:11–13). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:10–11a). “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (First John 2:28). In Romans 1:1, Paul introduces himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.”

Charles H. Spurgeon promised his church, “That I might not stultify [invalidate] my testimony, I have cut myself clear of those who err from the faith, and even from those who associate with them. What more can I do to be honest with you?”12

Dr. Bob Jones Sr. so often cried, “Earnestly contend for the faith. Stand up and fight.”

David Beale (Enlarged 12-8-21)

David Beale taught courses on Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism for some thirty years at Bob Jones University and Seminary. He is a prolific writer and historian. Since Dr. Beale retired in 2010 he has taught and preached in schools and churches.

Originally Published December, 14 2021.

FOOTNOTES:

1) John Piper, Signs and Wonders: Then and Now.

2) Letter from a BJU leader to David Beale (2021).

3) BJU Representative Church List 

4) Augustine, City of God, 6.26–27; Enchiridion: On Faith, Hope, and Love 43; cf. 93; Sermon 294; and On Forgiveness of Sins, and Baptism 1.27.

5) John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (4.15.1—22).

6) L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939), 632–42.

7) Letters from a recent graduate to David Beale (2021); see Paul M. Elliott, Christianity and Neo-Liberalism: The Spiritual Crisis in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Beyond (Unicoi, TN: Trinity Foundation, 2005).

8) https://www.bestbiblecommentaries.com/revelation-commentary-richard-phillips/.

9) BJU Welcomes Gene Fant

10) George Houghton, “Are Conservative Southern Baptists Fundamentalists?” Faith Pulpit, January/February 2004 at: https://faith.edu/faith-news/are-conservative-southern-baptists fundamentalists/; J. Gerald Harris, The Rise and Fall of the Conservative Resurgence: The Southern Baptist Convention: 1979-2021 (Taos, NM: Trust House, 2021); and David Beale, “SBC Today,” in Baptist History in England and America: Personalities, Positions, and Practices (Maitland, FL: Xulon Press, 2018), 581–83.

11) Typical Cantus music and culture

12) Charles H. Spurgeon, “No Compromise,” Sermon No. 2047, delivered on the Lord’s-Day morning, October 7, 1888.

Related Reading:

BJU Embraces Franklin Graham's Ecumenical Movement

Compromised Spiritual Sanctification for Secular Pragmatism

This is NOT Your Father's BJU

An Analysis of BJU's Position Paper on Calvinism, Arminianism and Performed Theology

BJU Fashion Design Runway Show


January 14, 2022

Dr. Steve Pettit Issues a Statement: Is There Nothing More to See Here?

Previously we posted an article discussing the BJU Fashion Design Runway Show. On Wednesday evening Dr. Steve Pettit posted a statement addressing the controversy swirling around the fashion show. He posted a series of eight tweets under his Dr. Steve Pettit Twitter account and the same statement appears at his personal Facebook page.

The conclusion to his statement is as follows, 

Furthermore, we are establishing clear policies and procedures to prevent a similar instance in the future. In the end, we want to ensure BJU family and friends that this will not happen again.
At Facebook Pettit's statement is being absolutely blasted by hostile critics. Clifton Cauthrone, raised a poignant observation. 
As an observation, it amazes me (as a 90s alumnus) how many current students and staff have commented on this thread that they need someone to explain to them what is wrong with this young man's presentation. Perhaps some 'chapel talks' on this are appropriate. 
No doubt Dr. Pettit's statement was going to stir a hornets nest. If spiritual discernment had prevailed the fashion designs would not have been shown and his statement unnecessary.

The fashion show was in Dr. Pettit’s words, "
clearly sacrilegious and blasphemous." 
We don't necessarily fault young people for lack of spiritual discernment. We desire that all young believers grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). The young man apparently felt he was designing something honorable. Since it was by Pettit's admission "sacrilegious and blasphemous" how was it not recognized as such by responsible adult leadership at some stage prior to the showing?

This event was the latest and most egregious betrayal of the school's legacy to date. While the statement is welcomed should we believe all has been made right and move on as if there is nothing more to see here? Seven years of these issues and only now on this single incident does Dr. Pettit proffer regret. We believe this should be followed by many more apologies and corrective actions.

Dr. Pettit's statement does not fully address the glaring weaknesses in the school. The fashion show, Midsummer Night's Dream and the Franklin Graham incidents reveal a stunning lack of spiritual discernment across a wide swath of faculty and administrators. "Policies and procedures" will not stop this kind of thing from happening. It's rather evident that people not only failed, BJU faculty, administrators and its president failed badly.

Deadly Enemies of the Cross of Christ
Knowing Franklin Graham gives Christian recognition to the "enemies of the cross of Christ" (Phil. 3:18) how does Steve Pettit enthusiastically support Graham's Samaritans Purse? Doesn't that reveal a lack of discernment or even worse, has he personally moved in the direction of compromise with ecumenicals? Either way should a man lacking discernment on such a vital issue occupy the president's office?

Steve Pettit is president of BJU, and the responsibility for what takes place at the university ultimately rests with him.  With a seven year track record of engineering or allowing for a long list of disconcerting issues how does Pettit not offer his resignation?

Will Pettit's statement simply buy him more time to continue erasing the university's Fundamentalist, separatist legacy?

So much trust has been lost. Years of men pleading to stop the slide ignored and loyalty betrayed. A statement over a singular event will not regain trust. Friends who love the BJU of past years believe the university has been irretrievably corrupted. A surgical procedure on the fine arts department alone won't restore the body.

Unless the board of trustees ousts Steve Pettit, the institution is not recoverable. Surely, this hard lesson was learned with the closure of Northland Int'l University at the hands of then president Matt Olson.* 
At BJU there needs to be a critical, deep shake up within the administration and the deans of the various schools. Faculty and staff who enabled events like the fashion show and Midsummer Night's Dream should be released. Any member of the administration who organized, participated with or encouraged entangling the university with Franklin Graham's ecumenical movement should be called upon to resign. 

Apart from measures such as described above, recovery is highly unlikely and trust will never be restored. Too much for far too long has been tolerated. The long standing support base of churches have been alienated. Many churches that once sent their students no longer do. Any attempt to return to the school's fundamentalist, separatist legacy will alienate the Southern Baptist, New Calvinist and compromising evangelical students Pettit has been pandering to. They would leave en masse.

Short of a major shake up we believe the best hope for the university is that it close rather than continue on its current trajectory of becoming the next Liberty or Cedarville.

Yours faithfully,


LM


This is the result, predicted result, of Matt Olson’s experiment with the “new wave” of new evangelicalism.  In the closure letter Daniel Patz wrote, “In the last two weeks, Northland has faced unexpected events that led to this decision.” To any objective observer of what Matt Olson was doing to the former Northland Baptist Bible College, it was clear that the school would not survive Olson’s changes.  The last two weeks event NIU a Gift? Thanks, but No Thanks was the final of many nails Matt Olson and his team had already pounded into the coffin of a once fine, fundamental, Baptistic, separatist school.
Related Reading:
The irony of this 2001 article can't be missed

Board members of those institutions share the responsibility for steering those schools from the fundamental moorings of their founders. They have moved away from their alumni and constituents, and gone adrift in a morass of pragmatic ideas that are void of spiritual principles.
Cooperating with Franklin Graham was an act of sinful disobedience to the Word of God. It is an egregious example of ecumenical encroachment at BJU that was heartily endorsed by Steve Pettit. 

 FACTS: An Enlarged Discussion [of BJU] by Dr. David Beale

After being the premier fundamentalist academic institution for eighty-seven years, BJU elected Dr. Steve Pettit in 2014, as the president who steered the University out of separatist Fundamentalism into the inclusive, Broad Evangelical movement,

 The Corona Virus of Ecumenical Compromise: Are You Infected?