November 26, 2021

One Man's Journey Down BJU Memory Lane

My next and greatest mentor was the late Founder and President of Bob Jones University, Dr Bob Jones Sr.  My first recollection of him was the opening message he preached at the beginning of my first year as a student at BJU.  I had been used to mild mannered sermons, preached by mild mannered preachers, but when I heard Dr. Bob preach for the first time, it took my breath away.  He was like a mad man, running all over the platform, hollering and screaming like a banchie Indian.  I’d never heard anything like him.  It was electrifying, mesmerizing and captivating.  I couldn’t take my eyes off him.  I listened intently on every word that came out of his mouth.  When the invitation was given to accept God’s call to preach, I was out of my seat like a flash of lightening and down the aisle I went, never to regret the decision of that night.  That was my introduction to the greatest spiritual mentor of my life. 

As I went from building to building on campus, I noticed sayings written on wall plaques and placed on walls throughout the campus buildings.  At first, given my ignorance of scripture, I thought they were Bible verses, but soon learned that they were sayings of Dr. Bob Sr., many of which continue to stir me on to this day.  For instance, “Do right till the stars fall;” has kept me from getting in trouble time and time again, and two of my all time favorites, “Never sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate”, and “It’s never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right,” have kept me on track for the last 60 years.

As a preacher boy, I attended the “Preacher Boy Class” that met every day of the week, and was led by Dr. Stenholm; however, when Dr. Bob Sr. was on campus, he always spoke to the preacher boys.  When I was there, there were 1100 in the class, and our greatest memories came from the quiet, reserved teachings of Dr. Bob Jones Sr.  I spent four years there and thank God everyday that I was privileged to do so, and what I learned over those four years, sitting at the feet of Dr. Bob Sr., were the most precious years of my educational experience.

Would to God that he was alive today to set straight what’s going on at this present time at BJU.

Related Reading

November 17, 2021

Archival Series: Where Have All the Bible Colleges Gone?

With the rapid departure of Bob Jones University from "separatist Fundamentalism into the inclusive, Broad Evangelical Movement," the closure Northland International University,1 the latest in a string of Bible college closures,2 let’s turn our attention to a timely article from October 2011 by the late Dr. Clay Nuttall.  Here now is, Where Have All the Bible Colleges Gone?
We should begin with this question: “Is the day of the Bible college over?”  In the past, this phenomenal movement produced huge numbers of ministry servants who then flooded the mission fields and filled the pulpits of our land.  Many of those people have already retired or have been promoted to Glory and received a “well done” from the Master.  A lot of well-known mission fields benefited from the service of these men and women who have left a major mark on mission history.  Men trained in Bible colleges were used of God to build some of the largest and most effective local churches we have known.

It has been argued by some that the quality of Bible college students is no longer sufficient for the day we live in.  The culture may be different today, but the Word of God has not changed; and that was the heart of the Bible college movement.  Most of these institutions came into existence for the sole purpose of training pastors and missionaries.  Theirs was meant to be a foundational training, and there always were institutions that could provide advanced training for those who chose specialized service.  The idea that a Bible college education was not good enough to prepare people for ministry is seriously flawed, if not downright arrogant!  A look at the thousands of servants who were trained, and the ministries that have been established, definitely settles this question.

This is not about the fact that some of those schools failed; the same is true of every movement.  Even our Lord had one disciple who flunked the course!  Not every Bible college graduate made a serious mark on the ministry, but the same is true of any level of training.  A degree, after all, is no guarantee of success.

As the years have passed, many Bible colleges have faded from the scene.  There are a lot of reasons for this: some were poorly constructed and failed because of finances, leadership, and constituency.  Some of them merged with other schools, while others left their original goal of training missionaries and pastors and broadened into other fields.  Many in this category continued their new direction until they were no longer even Bible colleges, either in practice or in name.  They had every right to follow this path, but the progression demands some honesty.  If a school is no longer a Bible college, or doesn’t really want to be one, then the right thing to do is to move on.  If they are not Baptist, if their main driving ministry is not the Bible, then the best thing to do is to openly confess their new goals.

Confusion arises, however, because of those who claim to hold onto the old even though they have chosen a new direction.  To claim that they still are now what they had been leaves much to be desired. 
There is nothing wrong with admitting that the change is based on funding, enrollment, or even prestige in academia; there is something wrong with a shell game.
 Over the last forty years, I have heard those who have obviously moved away from the Bible college model argue that they still teach the same doctrine and still have the same statement of faith; that is absolutely irrelevant because of what is really being taught and allowed in the classroom.  My favorite saying is, “We teach more Bible now than we did when we were a Bible college!”  Of course you do, because you reached your goal of a larger enrollment; but being one of the “big boys on the block” doesn’t mean you still have the same theology you once taught!

Now we arrive at one of the major reasons why the Bible college has been left behind. As our movement has progressed, there has been increasing pressure for us to become respectable in our academics, like the “elite.”  Both old and young fundamentalists have become enamored with the intellectuals and want to be like them at all costs; they even talk like them and walk like them.  This is the same mistake that Israel made when they wanted to be like the other nations around them who had kings.  So, where there once was a true Bible college, now the leaders mainly want to be respected by the intellectual pagans.

The journey from Bible college to a pursuit of prestige and intellectualism always takes a toll, and this sad declension is almost always represented by a change in theology.  It is not always deliberate; in some cases, it may occur out of ignorance of a biblical theology.  The journey always demands a change in leadership; and when the new main leaders are not biblical theologians, the slide becomes more rapid.  The truth is that sometimes this change is deliberate, even as it is in churches that have left the Bible and Baptist out of their identification.  It is not that the leaders are heretics, but rather that they are swept away by motives that differ from their foundational standard.

It appears that the further an individual or institution moves on this journey in order to have the respect of human leaders, the further they also move from a theology that is biblical.  Every change has its cost, and those who protest this maxim only prove the point.  I am not opposed to higher education; much of my ministry has been there.  I am opposed to teaching and defending error.  Of course, some Bible colleges have problems with academic and theological issues. That is to be expected because we are all human.

While dozens of Bible colleges have gone out of business, and some have moved on to other areas of emphasis, others have stood firm in their majority purpose of training men and women for the mission field and church ministry.  The great thing is that God today is raising up new Bible colleges that have returned to the foundational goals of training.  While these schools have gotten their share of criticism, they have come to life to fill a gap left by those who have gone on to different things.  One of those new colleges gets my thumbs-up; it is Grace Baptist Bible College of Winston Salem, North Carolina.  Not only has it successfully put together a program that looks like that of the Bible college of old, but a number of well-respected saints in our movement have come to join its ranks.  Perhaps God will raise up some more of these fine institutions to take the place of the departed.

Clay Nuttall, D.Min, October, 2011

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For those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible
Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address,

Related Readings:
1) NIU Closes: The Pattern of Demise 

NIU a Gift? Thanks, but No Thanks

May the "Northland Heart" Perpetuate

2) What Do NIU, Pillsbury, TTU Have in Common?

Closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary: Predictable & Repeatable

Calvary Baptist Seminary: They Are Accountable and Won't Own Up To It

Piedmont/TTU: A Predictable Pattern of Merger With Only ONE Survivor

November 12, 2021

God's Sovereignty: He Can Be Trusted

Since I first mentioned my cancer diagnosis in February many have reached out to me with kind expressions of hope and encouragement. I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma (left kidney) stage 4, which had spread to my left lung and liver. I shared that news here in Embrace Trials, Hold Joy, God is Near You.

Today, I can provide an update. On Wednesday I had a CT scan. This morning my oncologist called with the results. She said, 

"The scan looks great. Everything is stable. No new spots. Nothing is bigger and nothing is smaller. Should continue with the same therapy, maybe increase the dosage every 3rd or 4th day. All in all a good result."

For this my wife and family are grateful. While my cancer is incurable we are happy that my life expectancy is being extended. My quality of life, the chemotherapy side effects, has also much improved over time. In fact up until the weather recently turned I was able to get in a few rounds of golf. I hope to hit the slopes this winter as well.

In October I was found to have developed a skin cancer on my left hand. A minor surgery was performed to remove it. The good news is that they got it all, and had not spread. 

While my cancer is incurable, the chemotherapy has thus far reduced the size of the tumor and slowed its inevitable spread. Two previous CT scans showed the tumor had been reduced in size by approximately 50%. My wife Liz and I thank God for His loving kindness toward us as we walk this path He has entrusted to us.

Incidentally, in April I suffered a mild stroke and contracted bi-lateral Bells Palsy. All that right on the heels of the cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy issues. It was a vortex of issues one on top of another. I began to feel like Wylie E. Coyote waiting for the next anvil to drop.

I was born again in April 1979. From that day to this I knew that when I leave this corruptible body I would be in Heaven. The only thing I did not know was how I was going to get there. It appears, unless the Lord supernaturally heals my body, that question has been answered. 

Through all of this the Lord has given me many opportunities to tell of His goodness and witness to lost folks I otherwise never would have met. I want you all to know that when you face adversity, when life takes a turn that you had not anticipated God is in the midst. He is working out His perfect plan for your life and you do not need to be afraid of it. You can trust Him and find joy in trials. I am being prepared and perfected to enter into His presence.  It is our glorification we are all being prepared for and we need not fear it. 

Thanks again for your expressions of concern, encouragement and kindness.

Kind regards,


November 8, 2021

Archival Series: “Why These Schools Collapsed & What Does It Mean for [BJU]?”

Today [June 18, 2020] I am drawing your attention to a message given by Dr. Will Senn given at the FBFI Annual Fellowship on June 12, 2019. His message title is, What are the Qualities of True Christian Fellowship?1You will appreciate the relevance of the latter part of his message as it has a direct bearing on our discussions about the changing face of Bob Jones University (BJU).

Where the message begins to move toward what is applicable to BJU begins at -20:50. Later the message hones in on specifics that precisely addresses what is happening at Bob Jones University (BJU). To appreciate the impact of what was said you must listen to the balance of Pastor Senn’s message from -17:20 through the end.

Dr. Will Senn
Dr. Senn begins closing his message with an illustration from a graduate class he was teaching at International Baptist College & Seminary (Spring 2019).  His concluding remarks are drawn from the students’ answers to the final exam he had given them. Their assignment was, “I am giving you five colleges where the doors are now closed…. You’re going to make an oral presentation…. Why did they close?” (-17:20) Dr. Senn’s assigned the final.
“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? I want you to do the research. I want us to learn something from history because it will have a current application and future application as it relates to our fellowship.”
Dr. Senn then assigned the students a second portion to the exam.  He said, “You’re going to take the lessons learned and I am going to ask you to put yourself in the context of addressing five current Christian schools where if you had the opportunity to talk to their boards what would you say to those board members from the lessons just learned?”

The five current schools assigned were: Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Faith Baptist (Ankeny, IA), Maranatha Baptist University, Bob Jones University and International Baptist College & Seminary.

The student answers are as revealing as they are factually correct. Dr. Senn read samples of the reasons students arrived at for the five schools closing, for example:
    Guard against sports becoming the focus of the school, rather than the focus being disciple making, loving Christ and other type of school.
    Maintain sound doctrine; do not compromise to broaden the school’s base of support.
    The need for the school to solicit input and support of the pastor and churches that are sending their students to the school.
    Be true to your mission statement. Do not try to be something that you are not.
    Southern Baptists and other evangelicals have their own well established and attractive schools. They are not looking for new schools, but are content with their current choices.
    Sports programming can become overbearing and expensive especially if you seek to compete in higher divisions.

The excerpted student answers above (there were thirty in all) boiled down to a summary statement. Dr. Senn prefaced their summary, “Why these five schools collapsed and then what would you say to the other five schools that I love?” Their summary statement was,
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.
BJU president Dr. Steve Pettit was in the auditorium under the sound of Dr. Senn’s message. From that day to this it appears virtually none of those student admonitions made a dent with Steve Pettit and his mission for BJU. Does Steve Pettit think he can veer from the university’s base to accommodate the SBC and evangelicals and the university will survive it? If that is Steve’s plan then he is not learning from history the lesson that the five closed schools learned the hard way.

Drs. Horn & Pettit
During the tragedy that became Northland’s closure objective observers knew that Matt Olson, with Sam Horn “veered from its conservative and historic base to accommodate a new base.” Today, objective observers recognize that Steve Pettit and Sam Horn “veered from [BJU’s] conservative and historic base to accommodate a new base.” BJU’s “conservative and historic base” recognize what Pettit and Horn together have done. The base has been alienated, their admonitions ignored.  Consequently much of the base has abandoned the school, plus the SBC and evangelical students Steve Pettit is trying to attract, “are not looking for new schools, but are content with their current choices.”

At this blog I have in various forms been writing statements like this, “For NIU the lesson from TTU [Clearwater, Calvary Seminary] and Pillsbury is the same, ‘You can’t come in and turn a hard right or left and expect to have your alumni with you’.”2Today we can take that statement with some editing to read as follows, “For Bob Jones University the lesson from NIU, TTU, Pillsbury, Clearwater and Calvary Seminary is the same, “You can’t come in and turn a hard right or left and expect to have your alumni with you.”

Closing with Dr. Senn, 
“You can’t build that [SBC, evangelical] relationship fast enough. So what happens is your pushing the good people out, the Calebs and Joshuas. And you start listening to the ten spies.”
BJU is well on its way to joining the five failed schools. You cannot alienate your core constituency and expect them to remain loyal. On its current trajectory BJU should not expect to survive Steve Pettits presidency.


Originally published June 18, 2020.


Related Reading:
Dr. Bob Jones, Jr, If BJU Ever Changes...I Pray the Lord Closes Its Doors. 
Ironically it is through the actions of BJU graduates, Steve Pettit (80’) and Sam Horn (86’ 88’ 95’) that the school has lost its ‘strong fundamentalist stand.’ Going forward, unless some radical intervention takes place, it will be through BJU graduate Steve Pettit that the university’s doors are destined to close.

The Northland/BJU pattern is virtually the same, casting off its fundamentalism, separatist roots, and the common denominator is Sam Horn. BJU is learning what the colleges learned the hard way when they went down the road of embracing evangelicalism.  And that lesson is: You cannot turn a college to a hard right or hard left and expect to have your alumni with you. 

What tires objective observers is letters like those from Les Ollila and Matt Olson where they…use subjective imprecise language to quell any concerns…. Northland’s new trajectory has a historic parallel. The devastating effects of introducing Evangelicalism’s philosophy and practices into a biblical Fundamentalist setting are no starker than the demise of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College.

This is the predicted result of Matt Olson’s Experiment with the “new wave” of new evangelicalism. It was clear that the school would not survive Olson’s changes. Matt Olson and his team [Sam Horn] had pounded the nails into the coffin of a once fine, fundamental, Baptistic, separatist school. 

From the front pew it has been my sorrow to observe CCC’s decline over the past 13 years.  From a college with a strong following of biblical fundamental pastors and churches, CCC appeared to have lost her way.  Many reasons will be given for the doors of CCC closing.  Some will cite economics, a dwindling number of conservative churches, low student enrollment and competition from other colleges. Although all of the above no doubt contribute to the demise of CCC; I suggest from my vantage point that the leadership of the college over the past 10 years steered the college away from its founder’s purpose, philosophy and vision.

November 1, 2021

Bob Jones University: Compromised Spiritual Sanctification for Secular Pragmatism

On October 22 Bob Jones University (BJU) posted a promotional video for their production of A Midsummer Night's DreamThe screen shot at right is taken from the 1:20 video. Update 11/07: Over the weekend BJU removed the video from their Facebook page.

Since the installment of Dr. Steve Pettit as BJU president in 2014 we have witnessed and documented (see links below) a slow march away from the university’s biblical separatist legacy. The university has chosen a path of compromised spiritual sanctification for secular pragmatism.

NIU Student 2013
Dr. David Beale recently published Christian Fundamentalism in America in which the following appears.

“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, (p. 179, 530).

BJU has departed from any reasonable understanding of historic separatist fundamentalism. Unless BJU is recovered there are only two possible outcomes. 1) Become increasingly like Cedarville and Liberty, or 2) Follow NIU, Pillsbury, Clearwater, TTU and Calvary Seminary (Lansdale) into closure.

Yours faithfully,


UPDATE (Nov. 7): 

1) The BJU administration has removed or blocked the video from its Facebook page we link to above. 

2) Dr. Kevin Schaal posted an article at the FBFI Proclaim & Defend blog.  In it he cites the section from Dr. Beales new book, which we have noted above. We appreciate the FBFI finding its voice over what is transpiring at BJU. The balance of Schaals article, however, essentially blunts the impact Beale's sharp and precise statement.

Related Reading:

This is Not Your Father's BJU

Alumni and friends of BJU have reached out to Steve Pettit about the direction he is taking the university. On hearing the reproof of friends Pettit and the administration have chosen not to change, and instead stepped on the gas-pedal. The trajectory the university is set upon can have only one of two outcomes, neither good.

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? I want us to learn something from history because it will have a current application and future application as it relates to our fellowship.”

Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. "If BJU Ever Changes...I Pray The Lord Closes Its Doors

Many of the alumni…and long-time friends of BJU have seen enough of how the school is moving toward ecumenical inclusivism to abandon the university.  It appears there is little left to do other than: 1) Watch the university continue on an ecumenical trajectory or 2) as one alum said, It “…should be taken back by all who invested their lives, students, and for many…their fortunes in the place.”

BJU Lurches Further Into Evangelicalism

Further we must refuse to surrender resources to those institutions, agencies, and churches who are moving. It is not wise to continue to send our children to colleges, give our money to agencies, or support churches that are in transition while we wait to see where they will land. By then it is too late! Look at where their feet are pointing! At some point there must be separation from this disobedience. It is the only tool which God has given to us to police ourselves and to maintain the priority and purity of our position.

An Analysis of BJU's Position Paper on Calvinism, Arminianism & Reformed Theology

After reading BJU’s position paper, I feel that it reflects a style commonly employed by many New Calvinists. 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.

A Failure to Stay the Course by Pastor Travis Smith 

For more than 15 years I have observed a pattern of change at Bob Jones University that is all to 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.