Perhaps you have heard the news that Bob Jones University has received the findings from an independent firm involving problems the university had regarding dealing with sexual abuse allegations. The findings showed systemic problems dealing with these issues over many years. Since I have discussed many problems in this series, I want to take this opportunity to applaud BJU for allowing this independent probe to take place and mention a few lessons we might learn.
I realize they fired the firm at one point of the investigation, but I will still give credit for regaining composure and rehiring the firm they fired. They had to know some measure of unpleasant findings would come out, so no matter how it all went down, at the end of the day the probe was done. The study uncovered some embarrassing situations, but the positive I see is that steps of correction are much more likely to happen. Accountability has come and that is a good thing.
This situation teaches us that dealing with issues is the best, and only way, to regain respect. Too many churches and Bible colleges have felt that coverup is the better way. In the long run, that approach is doomed to failure as the Lord Himself instituted the law that sin cannot be effectively hidden. I am not suggesting that every sin has to be confessed to every person, but a direct dealing with the situation that handles all parties involved honestly and fairly is essential.
What this study of BJU is going to require is that who can counsel and the credentials they should have had better have a more sensible criteria. Apparently, one man with dubious credentials handled the bulk of their counseling of students with these serious problems.
The probe also uncovered an attitude that victims must suffer silently so as not to hurt the “man of God”. That is wrong on every level. Besides being a most unbiblical way to address an issue (At what point is he no longer a man of God?), it makes those who hold to it a party to the sin. Sadly, a public university would do a better job on that score, which is a shame for anything with the name Christian on it. Again, BJU has subjected itself to accountability in this critical area and I congratulate them for it. Those of us who point out these things have never wanted to destroy anyone, just see these egregious errors corrected.
Another thing we must learn is that some things are crimes and not involving the law is criminal itself. That is a liberty that some have imagined they possess when they actually do not. In other words, there are situations where our first step must be to call the police. Until we reach that point, we are going to face a deserved lack of trust.
My prayer is that BJU’s situation will usher in a new day of accountability and real Christian leadership. May God help us.
[I am breaking my habit of not naming names of those associated with the Independent Baptist world in this series because,ultimately, I am offering BJU praise.]
Find all articles in the series here.
11 thoughts on “The BJU Probe (IBTR #54)”
I’ve only read a couple articles on the situation, but if what you say is true concerning “one man with dubious credentials handled the bulk of their counseling,” that right there could sum up a large portion of the problem. I do think that people in our circles don’t take counseling seriously. I’m not necessarily talking about pill-popping, psychology-centered counseling as much as I am Biblical Counseling. Christians think “oh, they are a generally good person who knows a lot about the Bible, let him counsel.” When counseling is much more than just knowing what the Bible says and being a generally good person. This is a huge problem in our circles – throwing “good people” into positions they simply aren’t fit for. I will just leave it at that.
I so agree with you and even as a pastor don’t feel qualified to be the only counsel in some serious situations. Hope we all learn from this!
My concern would be why they chose to stop then resume the audit/probe. If it was for Public Relations reasons (an unexpectedly strong public backlash at their stopping it) then the corrections, over the long-term, will likely be superficial. That is if there hasn’t been acknowledgement and a changed philosophy among leadership, those responsible for allowing the cultural problems ( who appointed or had authority over the perpetrators). I think their motivations for stopping and then resuming it, although unknowable to most of us, will be a major factor in whether deep, lasting change or superficial change takes place. Hopefully they develop a culture of accountability, which is lacking in so many universities and organizations.
It is hard to say, but I have chosen to give the benefit of the doubt and pray new policies will be required that make that sort of thing impossible going forward.
In BJU’s defense, I did read a critique of the organization they fired then rehired, and there seems to be possible reason to question that group’s methods and their objectivity.
I agree wholeheartedly that BJU is doing the correct thing by now dealing with this matter in an open and constructive manner. As Brother Reagan pointed out it goes against the Scriptures to hide sin; least we ever forget the words of the Prophet Nathan, “And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man.”
Even beyond bringing this into the proper light, I am more concerned about the final outcome as many persons in their angst and anger forego the real intent of Galatians 6:1. The verse does not exclude restoring a person to position. Most take a pass and soothe their conscious by believing we are only to restore to fellowship and not position. I do not see that in the verse.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Brother Dave- You are conflating topics. Restoring in the context of Gal 6 is not about restoring a pastor to his position, or a leader of some sort, but restoring to the church fellowship.
And a church is not a university.
A man who has shown no sense of protecting the female students who have been placed in his care has shown himself untrustworthy. He has had ample time to change his ways, but like Achan in Joshua who only “confessed” his sin after going through the whole trial-by selection process, his sense of guilt seems to come more from being caught than from a sense that what he has done all these years was wrong and harmful. And even if he seems to have learned his lesson in this area–well, it’s too late. Achan was stoned, despite his confession, and he’s not the only biblical example. David, for instance, while he did not lose his kingship, he suffered immensely from that day forth, and lost the child.
Consequences of poor decisions are a matter of God’s natural order. If I were a parent of a daughter who wanted to go to BJU (and, that may become a reality in the very near future), I would want to know that my daughter will be protected, and equally importantly, be believed and trusted, and not blamed for someone else’s sin and crime.
It is utterly reprehensible to me that certain men, thanks to their connections, money, etc. are able to hide their crimes, and gain respect in supposedly God-fearing institutions (while “little guys” get the [deserved] full-monty of punishment). I fear that this problem may be more wide-spread than we think, and I only hope and pray that if it is true, that it will all come out quickly. Maybe the BJU example will cause others to reconsider their practices, and examine themselves more closely (but I don’t hold out much hope–which says a lot about the so-called Fundamentalist Movement in America–we are much more like Achan than the Publican who cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness)
So, this whole discussion isn’t even about “restoration” in the biblical sense. How about restoring to those poor girls the lives they’ve lost? When their lives are restored, maybe then we can talk about “restoring” such “men” to their “positions.” But how do you give back those girls what they lost? How did Achan bring back the lives he was responsible for? the lost testimony of the nation of Israel? How could David bring back Uriah’s life? And I say this, knowing my own frailties and failures.
At the same time that David was receiving judgment and punishment, he was also receiving exhortation. We must not forget that while concequences are both natural and necessary, the ultimate goal is not punishment, but redemption. Whoever is responsible should face the consequences. They should probably lose their job. But he should also be discipled. If he wants to continue to be a counselor, he should get training. There are steps that should be taken beyond consequences for actions. Sometimes failures are notifications of a greater need.
I am not sure why parents would send their kids to BJU. It isn’t exactly a credible university right now outside of certain church circles. It won’t help in finding a job outside of those circles and in many ways will hurt.
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