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Conservative Christian Colleges

Friday, February 17, 2006

Dr. Dan Burrell, over at Whirled Views, has begun a series on "Conservative Christian Colleges." I have appreciated some of the things that Dan has written. In particular, I thought his post If this a "Peaceful Religion" was very good.

I am sure that Dr. Burrell's education and experiences are much greater than mine. I have to say, however, that as I read Dr. Burrell's first post of this series I am disappointed. I am not disappointed because he is trying to make some constructive criticisms about Christian colleges - I agree there are definitely areas in which some things should be evaluated in this area. I am not disappointed with the concept of the first point he has made - I agree that there should be more of an emphasis on transformation than just conformity.

I am disappointed, however, because in his attempt to bring out the need for change, Dan has instead focused upon the extremes and fed into the stereotypes that are already prevalent. He has also given more ammunition to those who are unable or unwilling to explore the situations for themselves.

One of the examples of what I am disappointed with is his inclusion of Bob Jones University in the discussion with Texas Baptist College and Hyles-Anderson College. To anyone who has spent much time around the schools (and I assume that Dr. Burrell has done so) would readily recognize that we are talking apples and oranges. Neither side of this equation would want to be associated with the other. If the discussion is going to focus on schools like Texas Baptist College, then by all means, have that discussion, but don't paint with such a broad brush that you are including BJU in that discussion. If the discussion is going to focus on schools like Bob Jones University, then by all means, have that discussion, but include the related schools (such as the AACCS schools like Northland Baptist Bible College, Maranatha Baptist Bible College, etc.) and don't throw HAC and TBC into the mix and make your discussion so broad that it becomes meaningless.

By lumping this significantly different schools together, he actually makes the discussion hard to critique because when refutation of a particular illustration is made, Dr. Durrell can claim, "Well, I wasn't speaking of that institution when I made that comment."

For example, he makes the comment:

... turning into a rebel without a cause by sneaking under his covers at night with a flashlight to read a book by Chuck Swindoll and fearing that the dorm supervisor would catch him reading the words of a new evangelical and getting kicked out of school -- which was how I spent my four years at a Christian college.


Now, I don't know enough about Texas Baptist College to know if that is an accurate description of their policy or not, but I do know that "reading the words of a new evangelical" would not be a reason to fear at BJU (or Northland or Maranatha, etc.). In fact, I found much usefulness out of reading "Hand Me Another Brick" by Charles Swindoll while at school.

My biggest issue with Dr. Burrell's article, however, stems from the following:

1. His comments reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the goals of these schools.
For instance, he makes the following comment:

In the end, most Christian college students would benefit from a structured and discipline environment, but one that has as its goal "transformation" and not "conformity."


The implication of this statement is that the goal of the colleges is "conformity" instead of "transformation." Frankly, this just reveals a false view of the Fundamental Christian Colleges (at least the ones I would consider in the mainstream - the AACCS schools). Dr. Berg, the dean of men at BJU, repeatedly focused his APC and PC meetings while I was at school on this very fact. He has even written a very well received book that deals with this topic, Changed into His Image.
The reality is that the solid institutions do indeed have transformation into Christ-likeness as their goal. This is taught in the staff meetings, in the department meetings, in the meetings with student leadership, etc. Now, there are some among the students (and occasionally even among the staff) who still do not "get it", but that is not because it is not the goal or because it is not taught or promoted.

2. His comments reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the institutional nature of some of the rules.
For instance, he makes the following comment in the context of "BJ's reputation of hyper-control over every aspect of the student's existence":

I'm talking about being told what time to turn their lights out, what radio stations they can have programmed in their cars, what time they must get up, rules about turning in your roommate if you find out they listen to Phillips, Craig and Dean or slip out to a Stephen Curtis Chapman concert.


The reality here is that Dr. Burrell has mixed institutional rules designed to facilitate order in the dorms (lights out, rising bell - rules that are not expected for those not living in the dorms), with rules that are dealing with greater moral issues. While Dr. Burrell may disagree, for a student to "slip out to a Stephen Curtis Chapman concert" is a violation of the agreement that the student has made with the school in becoming a student and also reveals a lot about the individual's character and disregard for the authority under which he has placed himself. It also is a public display of rebellion against that authority (not to even bring into the discussion the issues of the music and environment itself). When a student condones that kind of practice by not confronting the student who has sinned and, in turn, contacting the Administration that the student has sinned against, it reveals a problem in that student's life as well. (Contrary to popular opinion, I was always instructed as a "spiritual leader" on campus, that we had a responsibility to confront the individual in question and not just turn them in. It was the generally accepted understanding that the best scenario was to confront the person and encourage/help the individual take care of this with his proper authorities.)

While he indicates that he understands the need for rules (and I am sure he does since he has a school, with rules, himself) and even goes so far as to say that he understands some rules are necessary for decorum and civilization in the dorms, his previous statement shows that he does not appreciate the different nature of these types of rules.

3. His comments support false assumptions.

For example, Dr. Burrell states:
Others will say, it's supposed to be a place to develop discipline. I've even used the argument with kids telling them, "Think of it as four years of bootcamp. You salute smartly, obey respectfully and serve your tour of duty. Then when you are discharged, you are equipped and free to work out your own faith." These smart-allecked kids look right back at me and say, "Or I can go to a good accredited school without so many rules, not compromise my own standards and enjoy my college experience." Guess which argument wins?


This statement makes the false assumption that being in the disciplined environment of a place like BJU automatically equals not "enjoying" your college experience. I went to BJU. (I would think the example he gives would be better as a comparison to West Point than bootcamp, but that is another story). I was there for 4 years of undergrad, 2 years of graduate school and 2 years on staff. I thoroughly "enjoyed" my college experience and my time at BJU (if I did not, I would have taken one of the scholarships that I had available to me and left). The reality is that the rules at a place like BJU are not a problem for students with good attitudes. Did I want to stay up later on some nights when I was in the dorms? Yes, I have always been a night owl (I still stay up very late). Was it something that made my college experience "unenjoyable" because I had to be considerate of my roommates and obedient to my authorities in this area? No. (Of course, they have loosened some of those rules since I was in the dorms.)

The reality is that Romans 13:3 seems to play itself out very clearly in a place like this:
Romans 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:


4. His comments encourage a false dichotomy.

For example, Dr. Burrell states:
All in all, I'd prefer that my kid put on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, run down to Pensacola Beach in his car playing Dave Crowder Band, laying on those white sandy beaches for a couple of hours reading Josh Harris' book on "Not Even a Doubt" than I would have him turning into a rebel without a cause by sneaking under his covers at night with a flashlight to read a book by Chuck Swindoll and fearing that the dorm supervisor would catch him reading the words of a new evangelical and getting kicked out of school.


This statement is simply wrong on sooo many levels.
* It assumes that the person/persons in question is going to do what they want anyway and that therefore we should not put something in their way that makes their doing what they want a matter of disobedience or rebellion. Using this logic, we should not have any rules or laws since having those rules and laws merely encourages rebellion since people will break them anyway.

* It is simply obnoxious to assume that the opposite of permissiveness is rebellion. The reality is that rebellion is much more commonly the result of inconsistency than discipline.

* It is obnoxious (at least in the context of the mainstream fundamental schools) to suggest that someone would be kicked out for reading Chuck Swindoll and that they would have to do it "under his covers."


I may take some time to deal with his eight suggestions at the end (I actually agree with some of them if worded differently) in a later post, but this post is running too long as it is.

Just my thoughts,

Frank

File under Fundamentalism_, Popular_, Education_

17 comments:

Scott Aniol said...

Thanks for this, Frank. I had similar thoughts.

Andy Rupert said...

Right, Romans 13:3 does cover a lot of this. Thanks for the critique.

Andy

Chris Anderson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris Anderson said...

Nice job, Frank.

"Whirled" views, indeed. Some things Dan has said (like his descriptions of service disruptions) have had me laughing right out loud. This one? Ugh.

Shocking: kids that grow up here have a hard time going .

Who'd a thought?!

Keith said...

I don't know when you went to BJU, but when I went there (80s) you would in fact have to read your Swindol under the covers if you didn't want to get hassled.

I was elected to the office of vp by my society, but received a note in the mail saying that I wasn't eligible. I had no idea why, so I went to the Dean of Men. He said my Monitor (maybe they had changed to the euphamistic "Hall Leader" term by then) had not approved of my holding such an office for some reason. I went to the monitor who told me "You have books by Neo Evangelicals on your shelf" (it was always Neo never New).

The books were "Life Style Evangelism" by Aldrich and "Decision Making and the Will of God" by Friesen.

Not one of the boys being taught by Dean Miller or Dean Berg had said a single word to me to help TRANSFORM me. No one even asked if I had read or agreed with those books. They were just concerned with book shelf conformity.

20 years later, this incident makes me laugh. This type of event was common while I was there (guys hassled for applying to Dallas Seminary or The Masters Seminary, etc). And, I see from your post that the all purpose requirement for "good attitude" is still in place.

BJU can do whatever they want, but I can too, and I think that much of their approach is ridiculous.

Keith

Frank Sansone said...

Keith,

Thank you for stopping by and contributing. I find your comments to be interesting on a number of fronts.

I do not know you, so I have no reason to believe that what you are telling me is not the truth. I am surprised that it would happen like you are saying, however, due to some things that I will present below, but I am sure that occassionally things do happen that "slip through the cracks" and I am genuinely sorry for you if this happened to you.

I find your post interesting because of the experiences that I have had with others over the years regarding accusations of "injustice" or "outlandishness" hurled against BJU. Over the years, I have come to expect that there is generally "the rest of the story" waiting to be told in these situations. For instance, I have heard of students who were "kicked out" for supposedly "minor" infractions, only to find out that the reality of the situation was that they had already been involved in some type of major infraction and were only still a student due to the grace of the administration in the first place and had been given warnings not to start down that path again.

I find it interesting because of the time frame involved. You indicate that you were at BJU during the 1980s. I also went to BJU during the 1980s, but since I did not start until 1987, surely you could have attended there before I got there. I find it hard to imagine that the university changed so much in just the few years from the end of your schooling to the start of my schooling. I especially find this difficult when I consider the fact that the person who recommended Charles Swindoll's book Hand Me Another Brick (I mistakenly substituted Improving Your Serve in my original post) was a fifth year Senior who was a hall leader (and had been a hall leader the year before) and was a Society Chaplain and involved in Mission Prayer Band. Since he would have started in 1983, I am surprised that he would have had no difficulty being approved for leadership positions with a Swindoll book on his shelf when surely he would have had to have overlapped your stay at BJU at least a little. (Especially in light of the fact that you speak of guys being hassled for applying to the Master's Seminary while you were there and the Master's did not even begin until 1986.)

I also find your post interesting in that you make the comment "I see from your post that the all purpose requirement for 'good attitude' is still in place." Why I find that interesting is that I would never have assumed the concept of having a good attitude about things and responding properly to authority would be a "BJ-thing", but rather a "Bible-thing."

Keith, I am sorry if you experienced what you indicate happened to you. I am not an employee of the school and I am not the school's apologist (I am sure they would not want to hire me for such a position if they even had one), but in my time there (which could not have been that much later than your time there), the events that you describe would surely have been an aberration rather than a policy.

Thank you for stopping by.

In Christ,

Pastor Frank Sansone

Andy Efting said...

Frank,

I was there from 82 to 86 and would have to say that Swindoll was fairly popular during that time. In fact, Jim Berg recommended "Hand Me Another Brick" in his Leadership class that he taught.

Keith said...

There is no need to feel sorry about this event. I am not hurt by it at all. I also have many good stories about my time at BJU. I shared this particular story merely as evidence that this type of thing did in fact happen there.

You are correct that often there is a "rest of the story". I've seen that plenty of times myself.

Nevertheless, I've also seen plenty of times that some people at BJU and some graduates refuse to acknowledge that the school's system has ever been guilty of wrong.

Neither the "BJ's always wrong" or the "BJ's never wrong" positions are true. They each reflect a party mentality that is unwise and has been a characteristic of the BJU community for years.

I agree that BJU is far superior to Hyles Anderson and Texas Baptist and other such schools. However, I also believe that there is more overlap than you imply. Just one personal example: a couple BJU preacher boys told me, "Of course it's wrong to go to movies, Jack Hyles has said, 'No good thing comes out of Hollywood.'" I responded, "Who is Jack Hyles (I really didn't know), and why should I care what he says?" They were outraged.

More importantly, I just don't agree that BJU should be imune from criticism.

Furthermore, I maintain that at BJU in the 80s (83-88), the system was too focused on coercive external conformity. I would argue that, during my time there, a Swindoll recommending monitor would have been the anomaly -- His behavior would have been what "slipped through the cracks."

Does my argument hang on the incident with my monitor alone? No. I sat in "preacher boys" class and heard Bob Jones III, the president of the school, say, "Tell your people not to listen to those radio preachers." The radio preachers in question were Swindoll and Macarthur. I saw guys sweat as they requested to have their transcripts sent to Dallas and Master's. I regularly heard "Neo" and "Heretic" used as synonyms. Etc.

Finally, you are correct that responding properly to authority is a "Bible-thing." However, "good attitude" as used at BJU is not the same thing as "responding properly to authority." If it were, then Daniel was wrong to pray at his window. If it were, the American War for Independence was wrong. If it were, German Christians should have obeyed and supported Hitler. If It were, then no Christian should have sought to impeach Bill Clinton. Etc.

Keith

Keith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Frank Sansone said...

Keith,

I deleted the double-post for you. I had turned on the comment moderation in an attempt to try edit a post for a poster at his request (can't be done, by the way). The comment moderation feature was why your post (and Andy's post) did not show up more quickly.

Frank

Frank Sansone said...

Keith,

Thanks again for stopping by and for participating.

I would like to make a couple of quick comments.

1. I still disagree that what you experienced was anywhere close to "normative" during the time in question. I guess we will have to "agree to disagree" on this, however. I believe Andy Efting's comment also supports my view with this position, considering it was Dr. Berg who had recommended the book in his class. (I had thought I remembered Dr. Berg recommending it as well, but I could not find verification of it in my quick look at my notes from the class, so I kept my earlier comments to what I knew regarding who had recommended it to me.)

2. I agree with you that to have a position that "BJU is never wrong" is unwise. There are some things that I disagree with at BJU and on a couple of occassions those disagreements have even prompted phone calls from me to the school because of the disagreement.

3. I would even agree with you that there were (and I assume still are) some who were "too focused on coercive external conformity", I would disagree, however, that this was the system's doing.

4. Your comment regarding Jack Hyles helped me to remember a little of the focus of why we are having this discussion. The evaluation that Dr. Burrell is giving is an evaluation/critique of "Conservative Christian Colleges" and gives every indication that he is dealing with current situations that need to be corrected in the "here and now." The relationship of what students thought about Jack Hyles in the mid-1980s and how the University relates to Hyles-Anderson College in the 2000s is a drastically different thing.

While JH had "issues" (how is that for an understatement?) in the early 1980s, shamefully there was not a consensus on him and those issues, yet. For instance, JH did not move to his KJVO position until the early 1980s after Dr. Rice had died (supposedly expelling students from HAC for espousing the Ruckmanite position as late as 1978), the whole situation regarding "The Saddest Story Ever Told" (to quote Sumner) had not yet been exposed until 1989, etc. This DOES NOT excuse those who knew better and did not deal with the issues, but it does serve to bring us back in a time line when students would make favorable statements regarding JH comments/positions.

The question at hand, though, is not "would the schools have been similar in the early 1980s"? But, is it fair to lump them together in a critique that is designed for today, 2006? I will acknowlege that the schools probably had more in common back then. I think that BJU has made some adjustments (some good, some not-so-good) since the early 1980s. I also think that the other schools in the discussion that Dr. Burrell is mentioning have also made adjustments - mostly of the "not-so-good" variety. To try to equate them today is grossly unfair, in my opinion.

Thanks again for the interaction.

Frank

Keith said...

You are welcome for the interaction. Here are some brief replies to your numbered comments:

1. You are very likely correct that my particular experience with the monitor was far from normative. It is quite possible that my monitor was sub par.

It is also quite possible that from 87 on BJU eased their attack on the well known conservative evangelicals.

Nevertheless, from 84 to 86 many of us witnessed/experienced a lot of ill advised attacks by BJU against Macarthur. Looney, unreliable people (I think the guy's name was Rasmusen) were quoted to "prove" that Macarthur was a heretic. As I mentioned before, the "radio preachers" in general (which must not have included Bob Sr. on WMUU)were targeted. Also, the books from Multnomah were suspect.

I have no doubt it's true, as you say, that the teachers and administrators recommended certain books by Swindoll and similar folks. However, my sense was that it was ok to read them if assigned or if you had already proven your loyalty to the BJU mindset, but it wasn't ok if you found the book on your own and you were open to the possibility that the book might be correct even when it disagreed with current BJU thinking/practice.

We saw this same type of double standard with the interracial dating issue. It was not ok for students to question the rule, and teacher's could not admit that the rule had no Biblical basis. We pushed and pushed on Dr. Custer, but he wouldn't answer. I also think that Dr. C.W. Smith got in trouble, if not fired, for saying that the rule was not Biblical. On the other hand, Dr. Bob III was able to unilaterally decide to drop the rule for political reasons and claim that "it was never defended with the Bible."

All that to say . . . One's views of what was normative may greatly depend on whether or not one was part of BJU's "inner ring."

2. Great.

3. We can agree to disagree. I would just say that the military model is one that deliberately and knowingly relies on coercive external conformity. Often this results in internal change and loyalty. But make no mistake the idea is to change you from the outside in.

4. I agree, as I indicated before, that BJU and Hyles/Anderson are not completely alike. In my opinion, BJU is truly a college (even though I disagree with some of its philosophy/approach) Hyles/Anderson is not -- it's a joke or a cult or something else.

However, the fact that they aren't alike in every way, doesn't prove that they aren't alike in any way.

Fundamentalists are going to have to come to grips with the fact that certain "family characteristics" show up in the lunatic fringe as well as the mainstream.

Thanks for letting me participate in your discussion.

Keith

Dan Burrell said...

Frank, I have given some comments to your critique and will post them here. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Dan

------------
Frank wrote… One of the examples of what I am disappointed with is his inclusion of Bob Jones University in the discussion with Texas Baptist College and Hyles-Anderson College. To anyone who has spent much time around the schools (and I assume that Dr. Burrell has done so) would readily recognize that we are talking apples and oranges. Neither side of this equation would want to be associated with the other. If the discussion is going to focus on schools like Texas Baptist College, then by all means, have that discussion, but don't paint with such a broad brush that you are including BJU in that discussion. If the discussion is going to focus on schools like Bob Jones University, then by all means, have that discussion, but include the related schools (such as the AACCS schools like Northland Baptist Bible College, Maranatha Baptist Bible College, etc.) and don't throw HAC and TBC into the mix and make your discussion so broad that it becomes meaningless.

Dan replies… I’ve actually spent time at a lot of Christian schools and have friends and acquaintance and no small number of “non-fans” at some of the examples that I cited. However, I stand by my use of a broad inclusion in this series for several reasons.

First, BJU is the oldest and most pre-eminent of the conservative Christian and Independent Baptist colleges I cited and most all of those which I didn’t cite. Texas Baptist is run by a total Hyles sychophant (Bob Gray) and Hyles-Anderson proudly cited its BJU “heritage” while I was there in the late 70’s and early 80’s and I assume they haven’t changed the names of the dorms named for various Jones’ and Ma’ Sunday, etc… Wendell Evans, the long-time president of HAC is a very proud of BJU and in years past, there were multiple BJU grads on faculty and staff. Quite a few kids transferred back and forth between the two institutions and I know of several HAC board members who sent their children to BJU.

I do plan on expanding the net and include other AACCS and non-AACCS schools in future articles where appropriate, but one must absolutely include the red-headed step-children of BJU who were impacted directly and indirectly by HAC. At this point, I would also just mention that many in the Ind. Baptist world consider the AACCS to be a quasi “Bob Jones Association of Christian Colleges” much as the AACS (American Association of Christian Schools) has become labeled. But the world of Independent Baptist and Conservative Christian colleges is deeply entertwined (some might say "inbred") and that is a very easy case to make.

Frank Says… By lumping this (sic) significantly different schools together, he actually makes the discussion hard to critique because when refutation of a particular illustration is made, Dr. Durrell (sic) can claim, "Well, I wasn't speaking of that institution when I made that comment."

Dan Replies… That’s a supposition without any basis in fact. I have not dodged any refutation of my theses using that line. I’m not going to claim exact applications in every situation and will offer broad generalizations based on experience and personal observations, but will use specific examples only as anecdotal support.

Frank Says… For example, he makes the comment:
... turning into a rebel without a cause by sneaking under his covers at night with a flashlight to read a book by Chuck Swindoll and fearing that the dorm supervisor would catch him reading the words of a new evangelical and getting kicked out of school -- which was how I spent my four years at a Christian college.

Now, I don't know enough about Texas Baptist College to know if that is an accurate description of their policy or not, but I do know that "reading the words of a new evangelical" would not be a reason to fear at BJU (or Northland or Maranatha, etc.). In fact, I found much usefulness out of reading "Hand Me Another Brick" by Charles Swindoll while at school.
Dan Replies…Actually one of the books I feared getting caught reading was indeed a “Swindoll” book as well as some libertarian novels by Ayn Rand. Interestingly, I was also given those books by a “free-thinking” professor who is now a senior administrator at a major Christian college. However, in spite of the occasional gracious and independent professor, we both know that there was a general policy against reading what they described as “neo-“ or “new” evangelicals. (Factoid: while I was at HAC, you could be expelled for reading Peter Ruckman – a BJ grad and KJVO advocate whose views are embraced today by HAC.)

Dan comments... For the sake of brevity, I won’t re-publish all of the comments after Frank’s challenges as they are available on his website which can be found HERE.

Frank wrote… My biggest issue with Dr. Burrell's article, however, stems from the following:

1. His comments reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the goals of these schools.

Dan Replies…no, I don’t think so. It’s not that I don’t “understand” their goals. I disagree with how they want to reach those goals. The emphasis was, and continues to be, on control. There is an unhealthy emphasis on the role they assume they have in setting a standard (which, I believe, most rightly belongs to the church). There is inadequate emphasis on explaining the position and allowing debate to occur about their positions. Debate doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll end up disagreeing with their position – it might just lead to understanding the position well enough to adopt it yourself. The refusal to allow, in a university/college setting, the level of intellectual and academic give and take which would permit questioning, explanations, debates (without the stigma of being a trouble maker) could actually cause some to embrace the good parts of their “goals”.

2. His comments reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the institutional nature of some of the rules.

Dan replies… Hardly. I fully understand the “institutional” nature of rules. My own day school has plenty of “institutional” rules. However, we are talking about a college/university here. Beyond the rules is the bigger problem of how the rules are monitored and enforced. I have scores of “horror stories” I could cite (and many of them are as fresh as my posting of the article) which describe a “discipline system” that assumes the worst, belittles students, uses fear/intimidation/manipulation to keep control and which is used to support silly policies that really are questionable. I used a bit of hyperbole in my example of “going to the beach” – but I will tell you that the method of rule enforcement in more than one school has turned good kids into rebels and that was my point.

Of course, colleges need quiet hours in dorms and dress codes for classes. But unlike Scripture, societal norms do change and a periodic re-examination of the rationale for some rules and how they are enforced might change the atmosphere and reputation of some Christian colleges/universities for the better.

3. His comments support false assumptions.

[Dr. Burrell’s] statement makes the false assumption that being in the disciplined environment of a place like BJU automatically equals not "enjoying" your college experience.
Dan replies… I made no such co-relation other than to relate what IS a common part of the thought process of students and reflects the sense of many alumni of BJU and elsewhere. I have received scores of emails, calls and comments “amening” my point. But they are just the experiences of individuals. You are obviously a very positive and loyal alumnus of BJU. I’ve known many of you – indeed many of my friends would be firmly in your camp. But this is not about BJU alone. I cited multiple schools. I had a miserable experience at HAC, but I would also say that at the time, I didn’t know I was receiving a second-rate education (and that’s generous) at a place that was in many senses of the word, a cult. I was fresh off the farm and didn’t know that college life was supposed to be any different. It WAS like a bootcamp. At least at West Point, I would have received a decent education. For a kid who has grown up in a world other than the conservative world of fundamentalism (and I would include BJU in this clearly), it is shocking and seems absurd to be told how to dress constantly, when to get up, who to read/not read (and yes, it does and still occurs), etc… Today’s students are far more sophisticated than they were in my college days and they simply often will not tolerate being treated like army recruits or children. Does the college have a right to treat their students they way they see fit? Of course. Is it always wise and never to be questioned? I think not.

4. His comments encourage a false dichotomy.

This statement is simply wrong on sooo many levels.
* It assumes that the person/persons in question is going to do what they want anyway and that therefore we should not put something in their way that makes their doing what they want a matter of disobedience or rebellion. Using this logic, we should not have any rules or laws since having those rules and laws merely encourages rebellion since people will break them anyway.

Dan replies… there was no assumption made – it was an example and a hyperbolic one at that. I do believe that unnecessary rules indeed give good kids with good hearts and good values cause to behave rebelliously and it seems unnecessary to me.

* It is simply obnoxious to assume that the opposite of permissiveness is rebellion. The reality is that rebellion is much more commonly the result of inconsistency than discipline.

Dan replies… I take some umbrage with your characterization that I was being “obnoxious” – indeed, I tried very hard NOT to be obnoxious. The opposite of permissiveness is not necessarily rebellion and I did not insinuate that. I would concur that rebellion is often caused by inconsistency. It is also caused by harshness, unreasonableness, unkindness and many other factors. None of us have the right to be rebellious against authority. At the same time, authority should wield it’s power wisely taking care to not incite rebellion in its charges. Isn’t this what Paul was referencing when he warned fathers to avoid “inciting” their children “to wrath”?

* It is obnoxious (at least in the context of the mainstream fundamental schools) to suggest that someone would be kicked out for reading Chuck Swindoll and that they would have to do it "under his covers."

Dan replies… Again that word “obnoxious”. No Frank, it is realistic and I could prove it. Not simply at HAC or Texas Baptist, but at BJU, PCC and other places where I have the testimonies of students who were warned and/or reprimanded for reading “non-approved” books written by people that didn’t fit their mold. In many cases, there is a clear double standard and I will actually cite some examples of that double standard when it comes to Southern Baptists in my next article.

All in all, Frank… I appreciate your comments and I hope I have been kind in my rebuttals. I have been stunned at the number of communications I’ve received this week on this first article and it will probably not surprise you that yours was the strongest negative I have received – which doesn’t mean that there aren’t many out there. But I do believe I have hit on a nerve and my efforts – however ineloquent or insufficient they may be, is to provoke thinking and stir conversation which I believe has occurred.

Thanks again for your comments and I pray that the Lord will bless your church and family.

Don said...

Very interesting.

Dan, It appears to me that your equation of HAC and BJU currently is primarily on the basis of anecdotal evidence. You are a product of HAC, and I am sure you can speak much better than I concerning what life was like there.

Yet you say, "Not simply at HAC or Texas Baptist, but at BJU, PCC and other places where I have the testimonies of students who were warned and/or reprimanded for reading “non-approved” books written by people that didn’t fit their mold."...

You can ALWAYS find a ton of BJU graduates who have a chip on their shoulder and a great deal of resentment towards the school. Their 'testimony' does not necessarily equal reality. I have known many of these folks, both during my days at BJU and since. Some of them have betrayed unbelieving hearts and have drifted far from the faith. But it appears that you are listening to negative testimony and equating it with your bad experiences at HAC. I don't think that is a just evaluation.

Now, is BJU perfect? Hardly. I was there from 1975-1983 (BA, MDiv). Most of what some call 'manipulation' or 'coercion' is merely the result of bureaucracy. No one at the bottom of the chain of command wants to get chewed out, so they over-react to situations, which appears to be "policy" the guy on the ground. Creative thinking can lead to repercussions, so...

The year after I finished my MDiv, they got up in chapel and announced the removal of a significant percentage of the rules, mostly bureaucratic regulations that had grown up over the years. That was a good move, in my opinion, but that doesn't mean I hated my experience while a student either. I chafed at times under rules, as we all do, but the experience was one of great delight, all in all.

I can't say I am impressed with your answer to Frank. You say, "I do believe I have hit on a nerve"... well, DUHHH!!! Criticize a place like BJU and every bad attitude will surface and give you kudos. Praise it, and the same crowd will turn on you. They are too predictable, these people...

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Keith said...

They are too predictable, these people . . . these BJU cheerleaders.

Keith

pastorjoeroof said...

Frank,
The sobering reality is that transformtaion is not enough to be in the good graces of many of our fundamental schools.

While I may not agree with every point Dan made, his article certainly opens a door for us to face this reality.

"Blackballing" good fundamental, Bible-believing men for their ministry decisions happens too many times to simply refer to them as isolated incidences.

John Page said...

I find it very interesting that students go to schools, knowing the rules, and then have problems with them after being accepted. I know Christian Schools that tell their prospective students up front that if they can't comply, then don't attend. Once one has attended, then the Bible plainly teaches to adhere to authority and not to cause divisions. That is a fact that is irrefutable from the book of Romans. I get a little tired of all the complaining. Start your own Christian College if you don't like other ones, but do not dare to tell them how wrong they are. That is not Scriptural.