November 20, 2019

An Analysis of Bob Jones University’s Position Paper on Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology

Dr. Robert Congdon
As a follow-up to Lou Martuneac’s article of November 14, 2019, entitled “This is Not Your Father’s Bob Jones University,”[1] I have been asked to review Bob Jones University’s position paper on “Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology.”[2] The following is a brief analysis of that paper.[3]

After reading BJU’s position paper, I feel that it reflects a style commonly employed by many New Calvinists[4]. Their writing typically skirts issues to avoid offense or exclusion, while maximizing inclusivity. They achieve this by allowing the reader to supply his or her own theological definitions rather than offering clear-cut ones that would reveal Calvinist views. The fact that BJU’s paper appears to use a similar strategy concerns me.

I see this tendency throughout the paper. For example, it contains the term “exercise faith” four times. A standard dictionary definition of “exercise” is “an act of bringing into play or realizing in action.”[5] While this term could apply to an action resulting in salvation, fundamentalist Christians typically select a phrase such as “receive Christ by faith as your Savior” in this context.  Once upon a time, BJU used phrases such as “believe,” “put your faith in” and “ask Him into your heart,” to describe one’s salvation response.

As used by New Calvinists, the phrase “exercise faith” fits within the dictionary definition of “realizing in action.” Calvinism’s teaching on election is that one is regenerated prior to faith. Later on, that person "exercises faith" or “acknowledges” or “realizes” that Jesus is his or her Savior. Ligonier Ministries, a major outlet for New Calvinist teaching, says:

If the Lord has changed our hearts, giving us the disposition[6] to love Him, we will certainly exercise faith and persevere in it to the end (Phil. 1:6). But that we exercise faith at all is due to God’s sovereign grace.[7] 

A writer for The Gospel Coalition, a New Calvinist group, also uses this term, “exercise faith.”

Objectively speaking, faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8, although the “gift” is the whole work of salvation, not just the faith). Subjectively speaking, the person exercises faith in the gospel (Eph. 1:13). [8]

Interestingly, if you google the phrase, you’ll also find that Brigham Young University uses it:

To exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is to accept Him as Savior and live in accordance to His will through repentance and obedience to His commandments. Learning to act in accordance with one’s faith in Christ is fundamental to enjoying deep, life-changing learning. [9]

It is rather sad that a Mormon school offers a clearer definition of “exercising faith” than BJU!

Contrary to the Calvinist teaching of regeneration before an act of faith, the Bible teaches that a person hears the Scriptures (Rom. 10:17), after which the Holy Spirit convicts that person’s heart, revealing the sinful condition and the need for a savior (Rom. 3:23). The person then responds by receiving, accepting, and trusting Jesus Christ alone as Savior (John 1:12).

BJU potentially reflects a Calvinist viewpoint when it says, “God’s invitation of salvation is freely offered to all men . . . and available to anyone who desires to be saved.” [10] I take this to suggest that an unsaved person has a desire to be saved. But in my experience, and in the experience of others holding similar positions, it is not desire but rather the conviction of being a sinner in need of a savior that drives a person to ask for God’s gift of salvation.

On the other hand, I have read several New Calvinist statements implying that when one is elect, and therefore regenerated prior to faith, he or she develops a desire to exercise faith or to acknowledge or recognize Jesus Christ as Savior. BJU’s phrase could be interpreted in either way and is therefore ambiguous, potentially satisfying both Calvinists and Biblicists.

Similarly, consider 2 Peter 3:9:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The Calvinist considers “all” to mean “all the elect,” while a Biblicist believes that “all” should be taken literally as referring to all human beings. Clearly, the Bible reflects this in its use of “whosoever will” in salvation passages (John 3:16; Rom. 10:13; Rev. 22:17). Again, BJU’s statement is very weak in its terminology. 

Further on in the position paper, BJU says that our sanctification “will be completed when we stand before God in our resurrection bodies.”[11] This appears to be drawing from Reformed terminology. The Biblicist position teaches that our sanctification will be completed when we appear before Jesus Christ, our Bridegroom, at the Bema. But the phrase, “stand before God” comes directly from Revelation 20:12 and refers to those at the Great White Throne Judgment.

Calvinists believe that all people from all ages, both saved and unsaved, will stand before God at this judgment event (Rev. 20:11-15). Here, God will assess who is elect and who is not. Biblicists believe that the Bema (2 Cor. 5:10) is a time of accounting (Rom. 14:12) with Jesus Christ, our Bridegroom, and not a judgment for “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” (Rom. 8:1). The English word, “condemnation,” is a translation of the Greek word for “judgment.”[12] Again, BJU uses weak and ambiguous phrasing.

BJU says, “We believe that Scripture presents certain great paradoxes concerning salvation which we gladly embrace as belonging to God . . .”[13] It’s curious that here BJU uses the word, “believe” but speaks of exercising faith earlier.

Interestingly, Calvinists often use similar phrasing about “paradoxes,” yet I do not find “great paradoxes” in the Bible with reference to salvation. Surely, this is the most elementary and crucial issue of mankind. Does God truly leave this issue as a paradox unresolvable by mankind? If so, then why present it in the Scriptures at all, rather than deferring it as a matter to be dealt with in eternity?

My booklet, An Alternative View of Election offers no “paradox” but a straightforward interpretation of the biblical use of the term “election.”[14]

Finally, BJU’s view on the “doctrine of the Second Coming and Reformed Eschatology” is worded in the New Calvinist style. Reformed Theology is very weak on eschatology. It blends the catching up of the church, the Rapture event (1 Thess. 4:16ff), with the Second Coming (Matt. 24:30; Rev. 19:11), claiming that these events occur together.

Similarly, BJU says that “we believe in the visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ at His Second Coming (John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:16; Heb. 9:28; 1 John 3:2-3)”[15] Notice, they combine references associated with the Rapture (John 14:3; 1 Thess. 4:16; 1 John 3:2-3) with references associated with the Second Coming (Acts 1:11 and Heb. 9:28).

BJU appears to favor this combination when it declares that “we acknowledge that there are interpretative differences . . . related to the timing of this glorious appearing . . .” [16] They continue by referencing Titus 2:13 that specifically speaks of the “glorious appearing” as the Second Coming of Christ to the earth. This strategy subtly combines what the Biblicist sees as two distinct events into a single “glorious appearing.”

Interestingly, the BJU Seminary Catalog stated in the front matter that “The seminary faculty holds to...a pretribulational, premillennial approach to eschatology.”[17] By its very definition, “pretribulational” distinguishes the catching up of the church prior to the 7-year Tribulation from the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the Tribulation. What has changed since BJU’s Dean Stephen Hankins quoted this statement in an email in 2011? BJU’s present usage therefore reflects either carelessness or a Reformed/Calvinist interpretation of these verses.

BJU may not officially be a Reformed or Calvinist school. But its recent publications suggest an awareness and apparent endorsement of Reformed/Calvinist thought and teaching. Perhaps its lack of precision and ambiguous use of Scripture stem from ignorance or a poor understanding of the current meanings of these terms and phrases. If so, we could excuse it and ask that the school become more informed. If, however, BJU is following the pattern exhibited by New Calvinist writing, then there is a much deeper problem at work requiring immediate action to reverse this intrusion of Reformed and Calvinist theology.

Analysist: Robert Congdon

[1] Lou Martuneac, “This is Not Your Father’s Bob Jones University” In Defense of the Gospel blog, Nov. 14, 2019.
[2] Position Statements, “Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology” (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University, nd.) retrieved from on 08/21/19.
[3] The above views reflect observations by the analyst acquainted with Bob Jones University and its many graduates but who is not an alumnus. This analysis is presented as a call to BJU to rethink its position paper and also to alert BJU students and alumni to a possible trend. Presenting this analysis is at the request of some BJU alumni.
[4] New Calvinism is a repackaged form of classic Calvinism that is presented in a form more appealing to the present generations. This analysis uses the terms “Calvinist,” “Reformed,” and “New Calvinist” as essentially equal when speaking of these doctrinal statements in the BJU paper. Today, New Calvinists represent the vast majority of Calvinists.
[5] “Exercise” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary retrieved from on 08/21/19.
[6] Calvinism teaches that the “changed heart” is the result of regeneration before faith, thereby an elect person is now predisposed to love Christ and exercise faith about Him.
[7] “Faith and Assurance” Ligoner Ministries website, retrieved from on 11/18/19.
[8] Eric McKiddie, “How to Call for a Gospel Response Like a Calvinist” The Gospel Coalition November 24, 2011, retrieved from 11/19/19.
[9] “Exercise faith” Learning Model – Brigham Young University, retrieved from on 11/18/19.
[10] Position Statements, “Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology.”
[11] Position Statements, “Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology.”
[12]κατάκριμα” Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977), 332.
[13] Position Statements, “Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology.”
[14] Available at website.
[15] Position Statements, “Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology.”
[16] Position Statements, “Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology.”
[17] BJU Seminary and Graduate Studies Catalog (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University), 38. This was confirmed in a private email from Dean Stephen J. Hankins, July 21, 2011.

October 7, 2019

This is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile,” and Neither is Bob Jones University

In 1988 General Motors introduced a new redesign for Oldsmobile’s Cutlass Supreme. Significant styling changes were made to attract a younger generation seeking a sleek, sporty new look. The slogan for the refresh was, “This is Not Your Father’s OldsmobileThis is the New Generation Oldsmobile.”  The campaign and redesign(s) never really took hold.  There were some successes, but the brand was squeezed out by other GM and competitors’ models. Oldsmobile, after 106 years in business, shut down forever in 2004.

And so it is with Bob Jones University. The school today, “Is not your father’s BJU.” Pastor Travis Smith (1977 BJU Alumni) in A Failure to Stay the Course, writes,
“For more than 15 years I have observed a pattern of change at Bob Jones University that is all too familiar.  Like a ship slowly, imperceptibly drifting from its course, the University is adrift from the disciplines that shaped the character of generations of Christian students in its past.”1
Dr. Steve Pettit inherited and ushered in changes that have created controversy at the consternation of many alumni, friends, pastors and churches.
  • A modernized “casual” dress code, that strays from modesty for Christian young women. 
  • Faculty members, Drs. Lonnie Polson and Jeffrey Stegall, serve as pastor and music director respectively of a Southern Baptist Church.2
  • Dr. Pettit participating in a local Presbyterian Church of America: Here We Stand: Greenville Conference on Reformed Theology (Oct. 11-13, 2019). 
  • In October 2018 Dr. Horn shared a conference platform in joint ministry with two Southern Baptist pastors.3
  • High profile evangelical speakers including Ken Ham and Tim Tebow.
  • Dr. Billy Kim and the Korean Children’s Choir on campus.4
  • Cantus Mens Vocal Ensemble performed on campus.5
These things strongly suggest BJU has evaporated as a separatist school.
“Some leaders operate on the principle that they will use speakers who are well-known even though they may be shaky in their convictions in some areas-because they have special abilities that are helpful and thus can be a blessing to their congregations. The wisdom, however, of following this course of action is very doubtful…. But a man is more than his pulpit message. He brings to the pulpit a lifetime of associations, actions and perhaps writings. He comes as a total person. Is he in his total ministry the type of person you would want the young people at the separatist college to emulate? If he is a compromiser, his example would be harmful, and the college president would be at fault for setting him up as such. The separatist cause is not advanced by featuring non-separatists.” (Dr. Ernest Pickering: Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, Implementing Separatist Convictions, Whom to Invite to Your Platform, p. 229.)
We have seen above BJU VP Sam Horn in cooperative ministry with SBC pastors, BJU retaining/hiring SBC ministers. Would these have been common at your father’s BJU?  Dr. David O. Beale, long time BJU faculty member wrote, S.B.C. House on the Sand? It was published by BJU’s Unusual Press (1985).
“Outwardly, the SBC appears to be continuing its Baptist tradition, with conservatism gaining in strength. Inwardly, however, the deadly diseases of apostasy and compromise run rampant and unchecked. Although Southern Baptist conservatives have discovered the presence of the malignant cancer of apostasy in the body, they have refused a complete diagnosis and removal of that cancer until it is now terminal. Conservative voices within the SBC are not expressing, nor have they expressed since J. Frank Norris’s day, any real commitment to removing the cancer completely. At best, contemporary conservatives are officially expressing only a desire that truth receive a hearing alongside error.” (p. 187.)
“Someone argues, ‘But we shall turn the SBC colleges, seminaries and other institutions over to the liberal unbelievers?’ The truth is that you have already done that…The cancer has permeated every area of the body, and no Bible believer should continue to feed it.” (p. 190).
“Another may argue, ‘I will stay in the SBC and fight from within. At least I will be an inside voice.’ The simple truth is that you only stay in because you feel more loyalty to a denomination than to Christ and the Bible. As long as you are ‘within’ associated directly or indirectly with apostasy you are in no position to ‘contend for the faith’ (Jude 3).” (p. 190).
Sam Horn, Steve Pettit, and others may argue they are reaching out to so-called “conservative” SBC churches; in reality they are compromising, if not rejecting, BJU’s legacy as a separatist institution. Are they trying to court the favor of those churches and recruit their students? The SBC cooperative program sustains apostasy within the SBC and its seminaries in particular. BJU retaining an SBC pastor and music minister aligns the University “indirectly with [the] apostasy” of the SBC. This would never have happened at your father’s BJU.

Does BJU Believe it Can Succeed Where All Those before Failed?
The history of smaller colleges like Tennessee Temple, Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, Clearwater Christian College, Calvary Baptist Seminary and Northland International University, formerly Northland Baptist Bible College, should be fresh in mind. New leadership made changes taking those schools far from their foundational moorings. Alumni and friends were alienated, and the schools folded.7

As BJU’s new trajectory steadily alienates supporting pastors and alumni they will lose much of its constituency. The school may not remain viable. Alumni have contacted Dr. Pettit with their concerns over the school’s change of direction.  They get a cordial hearing, but the administration and board appear determined to continue down this path.

BJU has shed a significant percentage of its student population highs. To attract a new student segment BJU has advertised in Christianity Today (CT).  Why would BJU seek a student population through New-Evangelicalism’s flagship publication? Why would BJU invest advertising dollars in CT, which props up New-Evangelicalism? This would never happen at “your father’s BJU.”

For decades the propagation of Calvinism and Lordship Salvation was not allowed in classroom lectures or dorm room debates. Today, however, Calvinism and Lordship Salvation have found a welcoming space at BJU. In recent weeks two separate pulpit committees interviewed several BJU graduates. Each of these candidates (5) proclaimed they are Calvinistic in their theology and that they agree with the Lordship Salvation (John MacArthur) interpretation of the gospel. They were, of course, passed over. The obvious question was: How did they come out of BJU with those core doctrinal positions?

Again from Pastor Travis Smith,
It is with sorrow I confess, while many of the University’s alumni have stayed the course, the board, administration, and faculty have not. The erosion and decay of BJU has manifested itself openly.  The institutional drift has taken the University far from its distinctive moorings.  I fear Bob Jones University is too far gone and what was once the flagship of Bible fundamentalism is a shadow of her past.”8
What we have considered above begs the questions: “Is BJU trying to become a small fish in the big evangelical pond?  Was being a big fish in a small fundamentalist pond not satisfactory?”

BJU has become a marginalized shell of its former self.  Steve Pettit’s redesign has transformed the school into something that is, “Not Your Father’s BJU.”  You can’t come into an institution and take a hard right or hard left and expect to have your alumni with you. Continuing its current trajectory BJU will continue to diminish, and very possibly as with the Oldsmobile brand, it will go away.


See the next article for a Continuation of this discussion.

1) A Failure to Stay the Course

2) White Oak Baptist Church, “A Southern Baptist Church.” At the BJU site neither of their bio pages makes any mention of their positions at this Southern Baptist Church.

3) BJU’s Rejection of Ecclesiastical Separation: Is This Northland All Over Again?
Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary's annual E3 Pastors Conference, October 2018. Guest speakers included two Southern Baptist Convention pastors Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Rick Holland...and BJU Executive VP Dr. Sam Horn. Sam Horn has a history with the SBC, John MacArthur, The Master’s Seminary and Rick Holland. Sam Horn’s involvement at NIU contributed to its demise. Is it not reasonable to wonder if Sam Horn has planted seeds of compromise at BJU?
4) At the FBFI’s Proclaim & Defend blog Dr. Bob Jones, III took responsibility for and explained the rationale for Dr. Kim and the children’s choir appearance on campus. Nevertheless, the optics of Billy Kim on the BJU campus were, at the time, terrible.

5) Cantus appeared January 2015Cantus is partly comprised of practicing homosexuals.

6) Dr. Beale wrote, “…the deadly diseases of apostasy and compromise run rampant and unchecked.” The SBC went through a great upheaval in the 1980’s.  A so-called “purging” was led by men like Adrian Rogers and Charles Stanley in response to the apostasy that had crept in and taken over SBC schools. How does one claim a purging of the SBC took place when today a compromising, non-separatist occupies the president’s office of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention?  Need we be reminded that SBTS president R. Al Mohler was chairman for the Louisville Billy Graham crusade (2001), Mohler signed the Manhattan Declaration (2009), Mohler honored liberal theologian Duke K. McCall (2009), Mohler met with Rick Warren at Saddleback with the SBTS executive committee (2013), Mohler joined hands with the Mormon Church (2013). Examples like Mohler leave the idea of a purging highly suspect. Updating: It has been reported that earlier this year (2019) Dr. Mohler quietly requested his name be removed from the Manhattan Declaration. 

J. D. Greear is the current president of the SBC. The church he pastors, a mega-church, does not even identify as Baptist. It is simply Summit Church.

The 1980’s purge in the SBC opened the door for another movement and divide within the convention, especially its schools.  That movement was the rise of Calvinism. The Southern Baptist Founders Conference was established in 1982. (The organization was renamed Founders Ministries in 1998.) Early speakers, the primary advocates of modern day Calvinism, included “Al Mohler, Timothy George, John Piper, John MacArthur, J. I. Packer, Tom Nettles, Ligon Duncan.” (Ernest C. Reisinger and D. Matthew Allen, A Quiet Revolution: A Chronicle of Beginnings of Reformation in The Southern Baptist Convention, p. 57.)

7) What Do Northland, Pillsbury, Clearwater and TTU Have in Common?

September 30, 2019

Accountable for Failure and Won’t Own up to It

In our previous article BJU's Soteriology, “Turn from Their Sins” for Salvation we discussed the shift in BJU’s stance toward the Lordship Salvation (LS) interpretation of the gospel.  We asked if BJU still rejects LS, as it had for many decades, they should revise the Position Statement as it currently appears. As of this writing they have not.

Following is an extended comment posted under my article The Closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary: Predictable and Repeatable (August 20, 2013).1  That comment appears under, They are Accountable for Failure and Won’t Own Up to It.2 See if you don’t find parallels to what is happening at BJU presently.

I saw the transformation of Calvary seminary firsthand and this article [The Closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary: Predictable and Repeatable] is spot on. Unfortunately the leadership you [Lou] mention seemed to be more interested in being validated by some of the mainstream evangelicals than sticking with the principles they were trained under and passing them on to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
I was there when Sam Harbin was taking a class with Haddon Robinson3 and he was star struck like he had just met Elvis. A culture began to spread that we all needed to go to Westminster or another “accredited” seminary to learn what the “experts” were doing. I remember thinking “If I wanted that why would I be here?” Regardless, the desire to get the validation of the brightest and the best of the mainstream thinkers seemed to begin to drive the decisions of the seminary and even the church.
My opinion is that these men fell prey to the desire to be somebody and became very much focused on their own motivations and what they wanted out of life. Unfortunately they’ve gotten the outcome of what happens when you do things that way. It’s obvious they are upset about the failure and they have tried to put the best face forward on the closure by calling it a success or celebration. The reality is that they are accountable for the failure of the seminary and just won’t own up to it.
"Chief" Jordan
Instead they in effect blame God by saying that He has other plans. They also say that Dr. E. R. Jordan would have been on board, but there is no way Chief would have ever agreed to bring on a Calvinist professor, and this desperate move right before closing for good just shows how off the focus has been and the disregard for what Calvary has always been.

There was even a letter that was sent to Alumni when that decision was made stating that Calvary “had always leaned more towards Calvinism” and that this wasn’t a bad thing. Regardless of your views on the subject this was an outright lie and misrepresentation of the historic position of the seminary, insulting the alumni and the memory of Chief.
In the end I believe a lot of these men, especially [Sam] Harbin and [Charles] McLain, whether they realized it or not, saw the seminary as serving them instead of the other way around. They remade it in their image and the outcome was a small group of relatives and yes men organized in a mutual admiration society. No one will pay good money to be trained under that system- where insiders get preferred treatment and outsiders get shunned or made to feel inferior. This is a tragedy and a direct result of losing focus on what the seminary was supposed to be.
Chief, with all of his eccentricities, loved people and was passionate about training young men for the ministry and about leading people to Christ. Unfortunately the men who followed him thought they were smarter and could do it better, but clearly they were wrong.

Originally appeared June 15, 2014
Read the additional commentary posted by the author.  He says, “I’m only offering my comments here as a warning to other men in ministry so they can hopefully stay the course without making the same mistakes that were made by these men.”

Site Publisher’s Admonition
BJU president Dr. Steve Pettit, Sam Horn and the board would do well to heed that warning. They are making many of the same mistakes made by the men at Calvary, Northland, Clearwater, TTU and Pillsbury. BJU has been put on a new course that, if history is our teacher, will in all likelihood lead to its eventual demise. Steve Pettit and the board will be accountable for that failure.

In our next article- We will be reviewing some of the same mistakes, which have taken BJU far off course.


September 23, 2019

BJU’s Soteriology: “Turn From Their Sins,” for Salvation

In a previous article, BJU: It’s a Question of Doctrine1 we introduced a discussion of a section in the current BJU Position Statements, which we will examine in a moment. In the Question of Doctrine article our concern was primarily with a chapel message by BJU president Dr. Steve Pettit.  Statements made such as the following were considered.
“What is the race? It is the whole of the Christian life of faith…. When you start [the race] in faith you need to run and finish in faith…. The race has to be faithfully run to the finish, there is justification, sanctification and a glorification. If you lose, if you don’t finish you lose everything, you lose your soul.”
We demonstrated Dr. Steve Pettit teaching the same element of Calvinistic theology (Perseverance of the Saints) as John Piper, R. C. Sproul, John MacArthur and Kevin DeYoung.

Today, we turn our attention more fully to the current BJU Position Statements: Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology under the subsection, With Regard to the Doctrine of Soteriology.2 In paragraph one this statement appears,

God offers this salvation freely to all men who are willing to repent and turn from their sins (Acts 3:19, 17:30) and place their full faith and trust in the atonement Christ made by His finished work on the Cross (Luke 24:46–48, Heb. 9:11–15, 10:10–14).” [bold added]

Does God condition salvation on a lost man’s willingness, “to repent and turn from their sins?”  “Lordship Salvation” is an interpretation of the gospel which requires faith in Christ, plus commitment of life, to stop sinning and start obeying in “exchange” for salvation. Here is John MacArthur, on Lordship Salvation’s message to the lost.
The gospel that Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer…It was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners, but at the same time it was a rebuke to outwardly religious people whose lives were devoid of true righteousness. It put sinners on notice that they must turn from sin and embrace God’s righteousness.(Dr. John MacArthur: An Introduction to Lordship Salvation.)
“Seeking the Lord is important, calling upon Him is critical, but so is forsaking wicked ways and unrighteous thoughts. It is impossible to talk about seeking the Lord without talking about turning from sin. It is impossible to talk about turning to the Lord without turning away from iniquity and wickedness. Clearly, this is an essential in the gospel message…. If you’re going to receive the Lord and the salvation He brings, you’re going to have to straighten out…. Salvation comes to those who turn from sin to God.” (The Doctrine of Repentance, Sermon- April 3, 2005) 
“The gospel call of Jesus was a call to forsake sin as much as it was a summons to believe in Him. It was a call to turn from sin.” (The Call to Repentance, Sermon- January 24, 1988)
Dr. Ernest Pickering
John MacArthur is stating what he believes to be God’s plan for the salvation of lost mankind.  MacArthur is stating Lordship’s indispensable condition that must be met if a lost man is to receive “eternal life” and the “forgiveness” of sins. That condition is the lost man “must turn from sin” to receive the gift of eternal life and ultimately enter heaven. Dr. Ernest Pickering recognized John MacArthur's teaching was a departure from the biblical plan of salvation. 
“MacArthur laments, ‘Contemporary Christendom too often accepts a shallow repentance that bears no fruit’ (p. 96). This theme recurs over and over again in the book. The recommended cure for this malady is to require more of the seeking sinner than the Bible requires. Instead of ‘merely’ believing on the finished work of Christ the inquiring soul must also be willing to have Christ as Lord over every area of his life. It seems evident upon an examination of this thesis that those who espouse it are adding something to the gospel that is not in the Scriptures.” (Ernest Pickering, Lordship Salvation: An Examination of John MacArthur’s Book, The Gospel According to Jesus.)
Brother George Zeller wrote, “The unsaved person is told that if he does not turn from sin, surrender, have a willingness to obey, fulfill the demands of discipleship, etc., then he cannot be saved. Sadly, the focus is turned away from the all sufficient, finished work of Christ which is the sinner’s only resting place.”3

From Brother Zeller’s article, John MacArthur’s Position on the Lordship of Christ we read,
MacArthur defines REPENTANCE as turning from your sins (Faith Works, p. 74). He also teaches that true repentance “inevitably results in a change of behavior” (Faith Works, p. 75). But is not TURNING FROM SINS a CHANGE OF BEHAVIOR? Is MacArthur confusing the RESULTS of repentance with REPENTANCE itself? Is not he confusing the FRUITS with the ROOT? MacArthur is more accurate when he says, “true repentance involves a change of heart and purpose (Faith Works, p. 75). The inner change will produce an outward change.4
Dr. John Van Gelderen wrote,
Jesus said, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:31-32). Sick people do not turn from their sickness to a physician. If they could turn from sickness, they would no longer need a physician. Rather, sick people turn to a physician for deliverance from their sickness. Similarly, sinners must turn to Christ, the Great Physician, for deliverance from their sin and its consequence.5
A lost man cannot turn from sin, but he can turn to God to deliver him from the penalty and power of sin (Romans 6). Lordship Salvation contends that repentance is turning from sin(s) or the resolve to turn from sins. Repentance is viewed as a commitment to discipleship and fruit bearing. Scripture has a better answer. The Bible teaches that the Savior saves “the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6) in their sin, and believers from the power of sin (Rom. 6:1-ff; Gal. 5:16). (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, p. 128)

Lordship Salvation is a works based, man-centered message that conditions the gift of eternal life on an upfront commitment to change behavior and perform the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) of a disciple that should be the result of a genuine conversion. Calling on the lost to “turn from their sinsfor salvation is to condition salvation on behavior, not believing. That is works salvation!

We have looked at everything above to get to this,

The BJU Position Statement on soteriology is virtually identical to John MacArthur’s  

definition of Lordship Salvation.

BJU’s Position Statement says God “offers…salvation freely,” and this is true. By conditioning what God offers “freely” upon the willingness of a sinner to “turn from their sins” BJU’s Statement corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

Historically BJU never allowed the teaching of, let alone publish an official position statement legitimizing Lordship Salvation. In fact, BJU had in years past utterly rejected Lordship Salvation.6

Is it possible BJU unwittingly stumbled into the trap of Lordship Salvation not realizing that is where they have positioned the university’s soteriology? Or has the university officially accepted the “Lordship Salvation” interpretation of the gospel? 

If Dr. Steve Pettit and the BJU administration reject Lordship Salvation they will surely retract and revise the BJU Position Statement we have highlighted here. Otherwise, and tragically, we’re left to conclude that BJU has become a welcoming place for Lordship Salvation.

1) BJU: It’s a Question of Doctrine

2) BJU Position Statements: Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology

3) In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, p. xi.)

4) John MacArthur’s Position on the Lordship of Christ

5) Repent and Believe, Part 8: Confusing Terminology: 
Turn from Sin.

6) A Review of Walter Chantry’s “Today’s Gospel” by Dr. Stewart Custer