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« Different but the Same | Main | Fundamentalism's Good Ol' Boy Network's Chickens Come Home to Roost »

September 17, 2009

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Publius Vox

I am a graduate of BJU. I took a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., and worked on campus for many years. I consider myself a supporter of BJU today, and would be quite proud if my children chose to attend. I took my B.A. in 1992.

I would like to answer the question of whether I have ever found anyone virtuous enough to criticize the Jones.' I have, in fact, found such a person. Though certainly not by dint of his virtue - but rather by dint of his loyalty to the scriptures. That person is me.

I was at BJU long enough to have seen plenty and had a position of responsibility sufficient to have seen lots of things that most people don't see. I have seen the administration do things that I did not agree with. But I frankly do not recognize the BJU that is portrayed on this site. I would agree, in spirit (if not in particular because I may not know anything about the particulars) that BJU/Jonesian leadership is imperfect, and the criticisms that I have read on this site simply don't seem to reflect a proper view of either reality or of sin. But I digress, let me prove myself first by getting to my criticizing....

* The about-face on interracial dating was wrong. The rule on interracial dating was wrong to begin with (if inherited by Bob III) and the timing of its reversal was woefully inadequate. It was 30 years late and inconveniently placed such that it simply looked hypocritical. I cannot think of it without smiling, for it smacked of the Mormon revelation that polygamy was not REALLY required at about the time that Utah was petitioning to enter into the Union.

* When I was there, the Chief of Public Safety was fired because he failed to report a faculty member who was using pornography. I always believed that to have been wrong, though I may be wrong. It seemed to me that it was an extension of grace on the part of the Chief. But at the same time, I realized that it was not my decision to make. But I always felt it was not the best decision.

* BJU's stance on music is wrong - not in their preference for more sophisticated music (a position that I think is eminently defensible without bringing the Bible into it) but in pretending that their position is directly supported by the Bible. It is not. Any pretense to the contrary is intentional obfuscation.

* BJU does, in fact, tolerate a lot of misbehavior among faculty members who simply fail to demonstrate anything even remotely approximating a Christian attitude when those faculty members are sufficiently close to "the family."

* BJU has its own form of affirmative action - hiring the friends and family of famous preachers for certain positions at the expense of much more qualified and sincere "unknowns."

I could probably go on. But that is OK for a brainstorming session to start with. So I have finally answered the question of who is qualified to criticize the Jones.' I am. I may be wrong, there may be matters I am not informed of, but I am relatively sure that I am on firm footing on the above criticisms.

Now, I have two comments.

1) So what? If BJU wanted to criticize me, they'd find my failures far more expansive than those that I have (legitimately) leveled against them. Any failure to recognize that these are the types of failures that Christians generally, and large organizations in particular, are prone to, is juvenile. I am not excusing it. These things are WRONG. But David was an adulterer. And Abraham had a whole swarm of women having his babies. And Paul was a murderer, once removed.

Now I have a question - show me a Christian University ANYWHERE that does not have these types of problems or WORSE. I personally attended both a large Southern Baptist school for post graduate education, Duke University, and Pensacola Christian College - I can tell you that the problems at these places positively pale in comparison to those I saw at BJU.

2) BJU doesn't allow deviation of opinion? Really?

A) When I was a lowly sophomore, BJIII used to meet with the preacher boys in his office (if they so desired). I attended these meetings when I was not working, and usually only 8-15 people attended (if there were too many, we would move to a nearby conference room). We would all just sit and talk. Sometimes BJIII had something on his mind and would just issue papal bulls for an hour. Sometimes we sat around and talked informally. Sometimes the boys would ask questions and essentially play "stump the President."

It was the beginning of the year and I had spent the summer working at McDonalds to pay for college. Lots of black kids had worked with me, and they had treated me well, but they were not shy about asking, "Are you racist?" when they found out where I went to school. There was never any problem, and many of those kids were my friends that summer. But I determined that I didn't want to get caught again, so in one of these sessions with the preacher boys I asked the question, "Can you explain the University's position on interracial dating? This summer I worked at McDonalds and all the black kids asked me... blah blah."

Chuckling, BJIII said, "Well, you waited till the end of the session to ask the biggest question I've ever fielded in a preacher boys' session, huh? Tell you what, go to [insert a secretary's name that I have forgotten]'s office and she has a pamphlet that explains the University's position. If you have questions after you have read it, ask them next time at the BEGINNING of the hour." All this was said with what I took to be good-natured amusement.

I picked it up. I didn't find it compelling. Next preacher-boys meeting at his office I stated that it seemed to be "Thin on Bible verses." BJIII admitted it was so, said that it was something that the University "drew from the thrust of scripture" (or something like that), a few other guys asked questions about it, there was a good deal more discussion and explanation, and the discussion moved on to something else.

Later, my my remembrance it may have been a month or two later, BJIII and I passed walking in front of the Art Gallery. He stopped me and asked how things were going and said that he had appreciated my question. He asked if I were making progress "settling that issue." I said, "Well, I really don't think I agree..." and I explained why, with Biblical allusions. BJIII listened patiently and with a face of seriousness while I was talking, and when I had finished he smiled and said, "Well, you know, a lot of people have a problem with that particular thing. And we are not really interested in winning you over on that point. That's between you and God, as long as you obey the rules while you are here."

B) During my Ph.D. comps at BJU, I had an issue with my comps board. Several men on my board (not all) subscribed to the view that the gift of tongues have ceased. I do not subscribe to that view - but rather I hold the view that whether or not tongues have ceased, the Holy Spirit will not cause them to be utilized contrary to the rules laid out in I Cor. 14. Two of the men on my comps board took great exception that I did not subscribe to the view that tongues had ceased. They spent several weeks threatening to flunk me out of the program because my position "was not that of the University." I was later told (by one of the men who did not agree with them) that the two men approached BJIII with the "problem" and were summarily told to "stop bothering" him.

I could go on. I won't.

I guess my point is that the Jones' leadership is about as flawed as you would expect any human leadership to be. As I look back on my own life, I have made mistakes that strike me as being far in excess of those that you criticize the Jones' for. But I would hope that, if you and I actually were friends, we would remain friends, and that you would bear with my human frailty. I would never expect you to tolerate my sin, but can't you remain loyal to me as a friend without a) equating my human frailty with my aspirations of what I'd LIKE to be, and 2) emblazoning my sins all over the internet?

There are many things in the history of BJU that are distasteful. Many of the remarks you recount here make me shake my head and feel ashamed. But I, too, have said many things in the heat of a moment that I realize now were ill advised. That is not who I am, it is rather who I am trying to escape being. I agree with you that the fallout between Jr. and John Rice was horrific, and it pains me to think of the things that went on between those two. But by the same token, you seem to ignore that BJIII went far out of his way to try to heal the breach - at least between BJU and the Sword organization (I attended the Sword of the Lord Conference two consecutive years on the BJU campus in the late 80s or early 90s, I can't remember the exact dates). Does BJIII get credit for that?

If you look far and wide enough, you will find fault with just about anyone. You have found faults, many of which are reasonable and obvious (and many of which are not), with the Jones' and the BJU organization.

Still, tell me, what is better?

I wish you'd tell me. Because I have been involved with several universities, and while BJU was great, with weaknesses, all the rest have been weak, with occasional flashes of goodness. I really do not believe that this website is offering a fair evaluation... no more fair than, perhaps, Jr. was with John Rice.

Editor's note: I corresponded with "Publius Vox" regarding his comments over several weeks. I answered his questions and asked him some questions. He said it was "bad manners" to ask questions while he still had questions of me. It's funny how these Bob Jones University-trained guys are all questions when someone dares to tell the truth about BJU and the Joneses but are unable to field questions designed to reveal the truth.

Evidently, Publius forgot about Christ's answer to the chief priests and scribes in Luke 20:3, "I will also ask you one thing; and answer me." Jay must think that Jesus Christ was an Example of "bad manners".

What Christ was doing was testing the chief preists' and scribes' sincerity as truth seekers. The chief priests and scribes "reasoned" amongst themselves, didn't like the answer to the question Christ asked, and refused to answer Christ's question. Christ then refused to answer their question.

I asked Jay, who indicated that he received a doctorate from BJU, these questions in an email:

"Hi, Doc,
I'm seeing daylight after my hiatus.

I've been able to mull over your thots in general and, particularly, your comment that Bob III gave you a pamphlet or material outlining his/BJU interracial position.

I have two questions.

In the Larry King interview, Bob was asked to cite the Scriptural passage on which he/BJU based their interracial rules.

Bob III responded that they "never" tried to base the rules on Scripture.

He also claimed, among other things, that the interracial subject was something they "never" talked about or preached.

Which of Bob III's statements to Larry King and the television audience is true and which is false?

Does it bother you that Bob Jones III presents himself as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ while lying to Larry King, you and the BJU family, and the American television audience?
mark"

Publius, "Doc", or "Jay" as he called himself, would not answer the questions. Like the chief priests and scribes, he reasoned that the answers to my questions were not going to help him. Jay is not a truth seeker. It appeared to me that he, like the chief priests and scribes in Christ's time, was thoroughly dishonest, both intellectually and religiously.

I've started working on a post "Publius Vox Weighs in on the Bob Jones University Weblog" detailing Jay's Jonesian ways. The sort of dishonesty Jay demonstrated is central to that which allowed BJU/the Joneses to depart from Christian principles. And, this sort of intellectual and religious dishonesty is also one of the reasons I do not believe BJU/the Joneses will ever be able to return to biblically correct principles. It may take a couple of weeks for me to get around to it.

Mark Fitzhenry

Editor:
FexSausage or Jay, or whatever his name, failed to answer my questions of him, even after I provided him with a detailed rebuttal to his comments.

Instead of defending the Joneses and BJU, he has ended up demonstrating the self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and bigotry that has come to characterize the BJU product.


From: Mark Fitzhenry
Date: October 16, 2009 8:37:13 AM EDT
To: fexsausage
Subject: questions

Hi, Doc,
I'm seeing daylight after my hiatus.

I've been able to mull over your thots in general and, particularly, your comment that Bob III gave you a pamphlet or material outlining his/BJU interracial position.

I have two questions.

In the Larry King interview, Bob was asked to cite the Scriptural passage on which he/BJU based their interracial rules.

Bob III responded that they "never" tried to base the rules on Scripture.

He also claimed, among other things, that the interracial subject was something they "never" talked about or preached.

Which of Bob III's statements to Larry King and the television audience is true and which is false?

Does it bother you that Bob Jones III presents himself as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ while lying to Larry King, you and the BJU family, and the American television audience?
mark

From: Mark Fitzhenry
To: fexsausage
Sent: Wed, October 21, 2009 12:47:53 PM
Subject: Fwd: questions

Hi, Doc,

I'm not trying to be obnoxious, just following up.

Did you receive this email?

Have you had time to think about the two questions and formulate answers?

It shouldn't take you long. It only involves an A or B answer for one and a Yes or No for the other. It shouldn't take you more time than it takes to read this message.

Get back to me with your answers or, at least, with a time when I can expect to hear from you.

mark

From Mark Fitzhenry
To FexSausage

Not a problem, Jay.

"...But I frankly do not recognize the BJU that is portrayed on this site. I would agree, in spirit (if not in particular because I may not know anything about the particulars) that BJU/Jonesian leadership is imperfect, and the criticisms that I have read on this site simply don't seem to reflect a proper view of either reality or of sin..."

What is your basis for such a statement and does it have a biblical basis? I have never read anything in the Bible that give allowances to religious leaders and organizations by dismissing or excusing heretical philosophies, doctrines, or practices by simply saying that they are "imperfect". That sort of dismissiveness was NEVER granted by the Joneses/BJU to any person, group, movement, organization, or religion that disagreed with the Jonese/BJU.

We were taught that the Bible is the final Guide for faith and practice. It is, according to the teaching at BJU during my tenure, the final Arbiter of "reality" and "sin". If we apply biblical standards to Bob III, he fails to make the grade as a legitimate religious leader. Bluntly said, he has shown himself - to you, to me, and to the general public - to be the type of religious personality that is sloppy in developing his doctrines and down-right dishonest and bigoted in his religious beliefs and practices. He was, and continues to be, dishonest in dealing with his past sins. And, isn't it Biblical Wisdom that teaches that the one who covers his sin will not prosper?

We are all liars and, to one extent or another, hypocrites, including me, you, Bob, etc. Christ was well-aware of this fact. Yet, he never tried to excuse the Pharisees' religious hypocrisy, manipulation, and dishonesty by observing that people are "imperfect". Rather, he said, you tithe mint but full well you reject the commands of God that you may follow your traditions. He went on ot say that the tithing was good but they neglected judgment, etc. Is it possible that your faith and practice has subtly been subverted to such an extent that you cannot bring yourself to apply biblical standards of faith and practice to the Joneses/BJU? I may be wrong but keep in mind, like Paul was a Pharisee of the Pharisee, I was a Jonesian and I understand the mindset and the conflict going on inside the Jonesian heart and mind regarding reality and sin, faith and practice, Bible and orthodoxy.

"...The about-face on interracial dating was wrong. The rule on interracial dating was wrong to begin with (if inherited by Bob III) and the timing of its reversal was woefully inadequate. It was 30 years late and inconveniently placed such that it simply looked hypocritical..."

It didn't merely look hypocritical, it WAS hypocritical. The Joneses/BJU knew it and the leaven of hypocrisy remains undisturbed today. The lying was designed to salve the consciences of those who couldn't face the hypocrisy that had leavened the hearts of the Joneses and the administrators, faculty, staff, and family of BJU. There was no restitution thus there was nothing more than an "apology", ie., 'Sorry we got caught. We wronged many people and subverted the Christian faith and practices of several generations of fundamentalists who trusted us. We have defamed the name of Christ but, we aren't going to do anything to right the wrongs we did. We certainly are not going to publicly single out those who we defrauded and make restitution. We are too proud to do that.' I realize that this might not square with some people's religion, but, Jay, there is something that happens in the heart of a man who, when he has wronged others, admits he has defrauded his neighbor, humbly takes that walk to his wronged neighbor's house, begs for forgiveness, makes restitution, and makes public his repentance and forgiveness. And, it not only affect the penitent, it affects those who watch him. While they forgive the man, they also realize that the man is fallible and are more careful trusting him in the future...and, that seems to be what is lacking in Jonesianism.

"...So I have finally answered the question of who is qualified to criticize the Jones.' I am..."

Well, you are better than the average BJU grad. You are a bit short of Pauline Christianity, though. And, as far as being a Christian, an imitator of Christ, well... Ever notice what motivated Christ, made Him display His Divine zeal? It was lying, hypocritical religious people who paraded around in religious garb and who pretended to speak the oracles of His Father! He was a fierce Man, particularly when He fashioned the scourge and cleaned out the Temple. Were I changing money that day, I would have left it all in my haste to flee. Wouldn't it be great to instill that sort of desperate fear in some of these modern-day hypocrites who merchandise religion, faith, practice, Christian education? Jay, have you ever called Bob Jones III to repentance for his lying on Larry King Live about the truth surrounding the interracial debacle? Press him, Jay, if you are the "I am" "who is qualified to criticize the Joneses." Publicly rebuke him, Jay, after the examples of Christ and Paul! Publicly call him to repentance! Declare him a disobedient, stubbornly unrepentant Christian leader. Contact his church elders/deacons (sychophants) and insist they discipline him for violating one of the Ten Suggestions. Publicly call on him to make restitution to all those BJU shipped from BJU or fired from staff for violating the rule they "never talk about or preach"!

"...Now, I have two comments. 1) So what? If BJU wanted to criticize me, they'd find my failures far more expansive than those that I have (legitimately) leveled against them. Any failure to recognize that these are the types of failures that Christians generally, and large organizations in particular, are prone to, is juvenile. I am not excusing it. These things are WRONG. But David was an adulterer. And Abraham had a whole swarm of women having his babies. And Paul was a murderer, once removed. Now I have a question - show me a Christian University ANYWHERE that does not have these types of problems or WORSE..." That is why I am not a proponent of organizations that peddle so-called Christian education. I have a friend who is a whore-monger but, that being said, I stand or fall on my own by an immutable Standard. I wish we were judged on The Curve, too. I just hope my class consists of 95 per cent convicted child molesters, rapists, and murderers so that I'll have a chance to be in the upper 50 per cent.

"...Sometimes the boys would ask questions and essentially play "stump the President." It was the beginning of the year and I had spent the summer working at McDonalds to pay for college. Lots of black kids had worked with me, and they had treated me well, but they were not shy about asking, "Are you racist?" when they found out where I went to school. There was never any problem, and many of those kids were my friends that summer. But I determined that I didn't want to get caught again, so in one of these sessions with the preacher boys I asked the question, "Can you explain the University's position on interracial dating? This summer I worked at McDonalds and all the black kids asked me... blah blah." Chuckling, BJIII said, "Well, you waited till the end of the session to ask the biggest question I've ever fielded in a preacher boys' session, huh? Tell you what, go to [insert a secretary's name that I have forgotten]'s office and she has a pamphlet that explains the University's position. If you have questions after you have read it, ask them next time at the BEGINNING of the hour." All this was said with what I took to be good-natured amusement. I picked it up. I didn't find it compelling. Next preacher-boys meeting at his office I stated that it seemed to be "Thin on Bible verses." BJIII admitted it was so, said that it was something that the University "drew from the thrust of scripture" (or something like that), a few other guys asked questions about it, there was a good deal more discussion and explanation, and the discussion moved on to something else. Later, my my remembrance it may have been a month or two later, BJIII and I passed walking in front of the Art Gallery. He stopped me and asked how things were going and said that he had appreciated my question. He asked if I were making progress "settling that issue." I said, "Well, I really don't think I agree..." and I explained why, with Biblical allusions. BJIII listened patiently and with a face of seriousness while I was talking, and when I had finished he smiled and said, "Well, you know, a lot of people have a problem with that particular thing. And we are not really interested in winning you over on that point. That's between you and God, as long as you obey the rules while you are here."

Based upon Bob III's track record as a religious leader, as an educator, as a Christian, I wouldn't allow him to leaven the hearts or minds of my children. Now your account is not the only such account of which I am aware. However, I believe that any discerning, objective, Christian parent who read such an account as yours above, would come to the same conclusion. If a guy can be so wrong, justify his wrong-headedness with thin Scriptural support, and incorporate such nonsense into his academic system of faith and practice, he can justify in his own mind and in his own quest for profit and religious prominence and power, practically anything. You may disagree but, remember, Bob III lied on Larry King Live about the existence of documents and teachings that the University had justifying the interracial dating ban by Scripture. How can any intelligent, discerning, objective person trust Bob III to be honest in matters of faith and practice? (And, No, this is not the only time Bob III acted this way with respect to matters of faith and practice.)

"...If you look far and wide enough, you will find fault with just about anyone. You have found faults, many of which are reasonable and obvious (and many of which are not), with the Jones' and the BJU organization. Still, tell me, what is better? I wish you'd tell me. Because I have been involved with several universities, and while BJU was great, with weaknesses, all the rest have been weak, with occasional flashes of goodness. I really do not believe that this website is offering a fair evaluation... no more fair than, perhaps, Jr. was with John Rice..."

"I really do not believe that this website is offering a fair evaluation."

Yours is a gratuitous assertion. You may believe that I am the greatest writer in the history of the world. While I would be flattered that I had fooled you, your believing it wouldn't make it true. Define "fair". Cite specifics, Jay. Cite inaccuracies, lies, illogical conclusions, wrested Scripture and Scriptural principles, etc., and where the website failed to give a fair evaluation.

Perhaps you missed the point of the weblog. The purpose of the BJU weblog was to detail patterns, patterns of business management, patterns of educational techniques, patterns of religious faith, patterns of religious practice, patterns of attitude, patterns of treating people, patterns of hypocrisy, patterns of injustice, patterns of duplicity, etc.

I learned long ago that it is one thing to tell someone that the Emperor has no cloths and pisses on people. It is quite another thing when the Emperor pisses on that person's leg. You have "seen" a great deal. Perhaps one day you, or someone close to you, will experience what might be called "the whole BJU treatment". When that happens, perhaps you will discern the links between the Joneses philosophies, examples, faith, and practices and how they have affected tens of thousands of religious people.

It is the pride, the Pharisaical hypocrisy, the pragmatic expediency, the cruelty, the pride, the variance, the sometimes visciousness, the un-Christian leaven, the subversion of faith and practice, the haughty lack of repentance, the way they treat people, their Gentile quest for religious power and dominance, their coercive way of shaping other's faith, etc.

Bob Jones Sr. once stated in chapel, "You want to know where a man stands with God? You have only to ask him one question: 'What do you think of this school?'" If there was only one purpose to the BJU weblog it would be to make people aware that this philosophy was handed down by Bob Jones Sr. to his son, Bob Jones Jr., to his grandson, Bob Jones III, and that idolatrous philosophy leavened the attitudes, loyalties, faith, and practices of the staff, faculty, students, graduates, and extended university family. And, that is why so few products of BJU are able to take an objective look at the Joneses and BJU.

Jay, have you dealt with that leaven in your own heart? If not, I hope that you will.

Mark

Now, here are my questions for you:

In the Larry King interview, Bob was asked to cite the Scriptural passage on which he/BJU based their interracial rules.

Bob III responded that they "never" tried to base the rules on Scripture.

He also claimed, among other things, that the interracial subject was something they "never" talked about or preached.

Which of Bob III's statements to Larry King and the television audience is true and which is false?

Does it bother you that Bob Jones III presents himself as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ while lying to Larry King, you and the BJU family, and the American television audience?

On Oct 21, 2009, at 4:11 PM, Fex Sausage wrote:

Mark:

It is bad manners to answer the questions I have already asked you with more questions. You go first. I have already answered those questions, implicitly, in my post on your website. It would be great if you would respond substantively to what I have written before asking more questions - though I am glad to answer those questions when you have so responded.

I am sorry I have not responded, I have been traveling doing some speaking, and while I normally drop into a coffee shop or what have you and use the wi-fi, this trip was particularly busy and I haven't had the opportunity to check email till I just got home.

Jay

In the end, "Jay" or "FexSausage", or "Publius Vox", failed to answer my questions.

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