December 7, 2021

Bob Jones University Embraces Franklin Graham's Ecumenical Movement: Have You Finally Seen Enough?

Prior to the arrival of Steve Pettit it could arguably be said that Bob Jones University (BJU) had retained much of its fundamental and separatist legacy. In a single statement Dr. Beale captures what has become of BJU since the arrival of Steve Pettit. He wrote,

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. (Christian Fundamentalism in America, p. 179, 530).
In the past two years we have documented how Steve Pettit and the board have accelerated a strategy of doctrinal compromise and inclusivism with non-separatist evangelicals. Last week we saw a new and quite possibly most disturbing event in memory.

BJU has formally joined the Rev. Franklin Graham in cooperative ministry. Steve Pettit orchestrated a joint ministry with Graham's Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child (OCC). You can familiarize yourself with OCC here.

BJU announced it had raised $23,200 on behalf of Graham's OCC. Photos were posted by Pettit of students packing Christmas boxes for Graham's OCC.

With this event any pretense that BJU remains a fundamental separatist school is stripped away. BJU has gone beyond embracing an "inclusive broad evangelical movement," and has openly embraced ecumenical compromise.

Some might ask, "Who doesn’t want children to have gifts at Christmas and the gospel shared with them as well?" This is the reasoning we have heard from some, but does that justify becoming involved with ecumenism?

Evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr founder of BJU answered that question in his lifetime saying, "It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right." If that adage still appears in the halls and classrooms of the university it should be removed. Clearly it no longer carries any weight with Pettit and the administration. 

Franklin Graham has continued to follow in his father's ecumenical footsteps.  Here are examples.1
  • In 1998, Franklin Graham conducted a crusade in Adelaide, Australia. Joining Graham were Archbishop Leonard Faulkner of the diocese of Adelaide. Forty-nine Roman Catholic churches were actively involved in the crusade.
  • In a 1999 Franklin Graham said his father's decision to cultivate broad ecumenical participation in his crusades, including cooperation with the Roman Catholic church, was "the best thing he ever did." He went on to say, 'If Billy Graham is willing to work with everybody, then maybe we should too' " (The Indianapolis Star, June 3, 1999).
  • In April 2000, the vice-chairman of the Franklin Graham Festival in Lubbock, Texas was Paul Key, evangelism director for the Catholic Diocese of Lubbock. Key is the author of a book titled 95 Reasons for Becoming or Remaining a Roman Catholic, which has been touted as a Catholic answer to Martin Luther's 95 Theses.
  • In June 2002, Franklin Graham conducted a "festival" in Cincinnati, Ohio in which five Roman Catholic parishes of that city participated. In preparation for the crusade, those parishes conducted week-long training programs to prepare Catholic counselors to deal with those who came forward in response to Graham's invitations.
  • In 2004, Roman Catholics participated in a "festival" conducted by Franklin Graham in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • In 2005, Roman Catholics participated in another Franklin Graham "festival" in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • In an April 2, 2005 interview with Katie Couric on NBC's Today show, Franklin Graham praised the late Pope John Paul II, and said they preached the same gospel.
  • In 2005, Franklin Graham attended the enthronement of Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. (His father was too ill to attend.) Franklin's preacher sister, Anne Graham Lotz, represented the Graham family and organization at Pope John Paul II's funeral.
Franklin Graham is promoting a 4-City God Loves You Tour for 2022. Promotional materials include this statement, "We are profoundly grateful for the thousands of churches of various denominations across the U.K. that have stood alongside us and continued praying for the tour.” Under the web page "About the God Loves You Tour" we read, "Franklin is continuing the life long work of his father Billy Graham.... Just like his father, Franklin is working with local churches...." 

Those examples dispel any notion that Franklin Graham has distanced himself from the ecumenical spirit of his father. Steve Pettit raised money for OCC knowing Franklin is as much an ecumenical as his father, Billy Graham, ever was.

Franklin Graham gives Christian recognition to apostates, the "enemies of the cross of Christ," (Phil. 3:18). His ecumenical compromise is forbidden by God's Word (2 Cor. 6:14; 2 John 9-11).2  BJU’s cooperative ministry with Franklin Graham is a tacit endorsement of ecumenicalism.

Could the $23,200 have been distributed to fundamentalist missionaries on foreign fields to provide toys and the biblical plan of salvation to children and their families? Of course it could and the option was readily available. Instead funds that were raised have gone to a man and ministry that works in cooperation with the Roman Catholic church. Steve Pettit could have chosen the Gospel Fellowship Association (GFA), which was founded by Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. 
to accomplish the very same goals.3 A check could have been given to the GFA office that sits across the street from the BJU campus. Students could have packed boxes for GFA missionaries to distribute to lost children on foreign fields where they serve. Yet Pettit raised $23,200 from the BJU faithful and handed it over to an ecumenical organization. 

To once again quote Dr. Beale, “...Dr. Steve Pettit... [has] steered the University out of separatist Fundamentalism into the inclusive, Broad Evangelical Movement,” (p. 179). Having joined hands with Franklin Graham an objective observer has to conclude that Pettit's vision is to transform a separatist fundamentalist institution into an ecumenical big tent ministry.

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. With the pattern in view it is reasonable to question, "How long before Franklin Graham will be standing on the platform at BJU to address the student body?"

Have You Finally Seen Enough?
"Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not," (Proverbs 29:24.)
In one of our recent articles we said, "This is Not Your Father's BJU." In just seven years Steve Pettit has erased virtually everything that for 87 years identified BJU as a separatist fundamentalist university.

I'm asking the alumni. I'm asking BJU's board of directors and trustees. I'm asking any of you who invested your lives, family and treasure. I am asking pastors and Christian leaders. I'm asking every friend of BJU who has to date remained silent these seven years.
  • Have you finally seen enough to awaken, to raise your voices in protest over the ruination of BJU'S legacy? 
  • Have you finally seen enough to raise the alarm, call for the dismissal of Steve Pettit? 
  • Have you finally seen enough to resign from BJU's board? 
  • Have you finally seen enough to cease from sending students to and/or financially supporting BJU? 
Pastor Travis Smith published an article that speaks to the silence. 
Some reading this devotional might be among the well-meaning believers who have served on boards or senior staff. You have “tacitly partnered” with leaders who were plotting a subtle departure from the course and principles of your institution’s past. You listened in silence as the founding fiber of that institution’s past, and its legacy were “cursed” and besmirched. ("I'd Rather 'Sing Like a Canary in a Coal Mine,' Than be a Silent Judas")
Read Pastor Smith's brief article. Meditate on Proverbs 29:24. Then, in light of what is happening to your beloved BJU, ask yourself, Have I finally seen enough? 

Yours faithfully,


1) Way of Life & Teaching the Word

2) When Al Mohler signed the Manhattan Declaration Kevin Bauder wrote to give Mohler cover for it. See the Occasional Inconsistency article.

3) Gospel Fellowship Association
Related Reading
Over a mere two weeks BJU gave its Bible Conference offering to an ecumenical organization headed by a new evangelical, and rented the university for a Roman Catholic to take the platform. 

Save the Storks board chair is Herb McCarthy. For 16 years Herb McCarthy was VP of Crusades for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Save the Storks is ecumenical3 in its associations.