God’s people strive for Excellence
Having come from a Christian University that strives for excellence, I thought that excellence was almost an essential requirement for being saved. Everything I did, I tried to excel at. I still have that concept to do my best for my Lord.
Prov 12:26 The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.
1Cor 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
Luke 16:10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
Luke 16:11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true [riches]?
Luke 16:12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Luke 16:14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
The Paradigm Shift
Here is the problem that I see. A shift has been made from being faithful and biblical to being excellent, as if secular recognition of a Christian school’s “excellence” will somehow win the unsaved world to God. The presentation of being “Christian” somehow is second or third or fourth to being excellent (first).
This shows us how God’s genuis again makes the church the preferred and spiritually blessed method of God, and how the Christian school fails. Their view is always on their “bottom line”, how much money they make. They judge and direct their administrative actions by how it affects enrollment rather than how faithful one decision will be, versus how unfaithful or unbiblical the opposite decision will be.
God’s Method stands against Peer Pressure
This brings us to a very important revelation about God’s church. A local church has a small group of people who fully sustain its activities, pays its minister’s salaries, and decides within itself what is essential, and what needs to be done. Within this context, most all of these members who financially sacrifice for this ministry are convinced to most of the important doctrines and ministries that the church is involved in. Outside peer pressure is usually from the unsaved, which is met with the confrontation that we are not friends of the world, but children of God.
Jas 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
A Christian University on the other hand is in a very critical situation always, and it never gets better. By the nature of the beast, it has to consume dozens of years of savings from the family of each of its students, so no student can stay at a Christian university for more than a few years, and then they leave. Schools live or die by enrollment.
While a local church will study the Bible and come to a conclusion and make a public stand on an issue, the pressures against them usually can be resisted very easily. As long as their membership base is convinced of the doctrine, all is well. The church uses its services to explain and teach the Bible of its doctrine, and all is well.
A Christian university knows that it must float with the doctrines and popularism of its day. If the majority of the churches where they draw their sutdents are now into contemporary music, they must go that road, or lose enrollment. The structure of their whole being is given over to succumbing to popular pressures. One strong statement that will rile the anger of most milk-toast churches could be the death knell for them. So by nature, Christian schools will always go for the middle of the road on any doctrine or issue.
At one time Bob Jones University had a great following of Fundamentalism in America, but that was when they were “outspoken” for truth, and boldly denounced error. Good people of God came to them looking for spiritual leadership in the battlefield of life. Things change, because a Christian school simply cannot hold that position ever, and if you look over the years, strong condemnations against sin, seem to very difficult for any Christian school to make.
But also look at local churches, and you will see it is very easy and very common for pastors and local churches to condemn homosexuality, euthenasia, abortion, etc. They can condemn public issues and change the public viewpoint, or at least influence it, and also let the public know that there is “another side” (God’s side) to cultural issues. Schools don’t work the work of God by their nature. They are “for profit” institutions, and being in that situation, they must attend to their primary directive, make money at any cost.
This is why over the history of Christian education, every Christian institution has gone liberal. That is where all the people are, no doctrine, or poor doctrine, or unbiblical doctrine. The true people of God who hold to the Fundamentals of the Bible are a very small minority in any age or culture. The multiplication of Christian Universities has only aggravated this situation diluting the pool or pie from which these schools draw from. Since evangelism is definitely not a possibility for a Christian University, because rather than taking a church’s position, for example, speaking in tongues (Pentecostals, Holiness, Nazarene), or infant Baptism (Presbyterian, Catholic, Anglican) are unbiblical doctrines and practices, and a (biblical) local church will preach against them, a Christian University officially becomes non-committal about these things because they need students from all these churches. They prefer to kill the issue saying it is too controversial for them to take a stand on, rather than denouncing the error.
This will always happen, and any time a Christian university publicly and strongly denounces something, it is an anomally, basically some strong group that sends a lot of kids into that school gives the school an ultimatim, denounce this or we cut you off. In themselves, they want to cut “essential doctrines and beliefs” to the barest minimum so that as many religious groups can “come under their umbrella” as possible.
1Cor 16:13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
2Thess 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
Nowhere in the Bible do we find commandments to accomodate our doctrine, beliefs, and practices established on God’s Word to suit the popular viewpoints of unsaved men. Our witness depends on being faithful to God’s standards and doctrines, and showing that in our life before the unsaved.
By caving in on this, they effectively negate any possibility of witnessing and showing the unsaved the strength of God in the Christian’s life. All of this is “automatically built into the Christian School system.” You cannot get it out of it because its structure is built around being “global” instead of local. A local church’s mindset is being a witness locally first and foremost. Their efforts at being global are missions, and they basically concentrate on the ministry at home where they are.
When you use this Christian School system to educate your youth, don’t be suprised when they come back with the mindset of where they studied. Study with a local church pastor that is dedicated and given over to training people locally in his church, and you will get a biblical mindset. Many local churches are large enough (with enough men of God to have various Bible teachers) that they will start a Christian Bible school within the local church, and they will use classrooms and teachers (from their own local ministry), and all of this is exactly biblical. But when you rip the school from a local church, make individuals the owners and president without being under the requirements of 1Tim 3 and Titus 1, then you break the biblical example, and make a problem for yourself.
2 thoughts on “Excellence is not greater than faithfulness.”
I agree in a ever increasing shift within Fundamentalism. Partially it is due to the lack of conviction over what ‘truth’ men are willing to agree to disagree over, and what Truth men must do ‘battle royal’ over.
This generation has seen fight without purpose and instead of following the clear mandate of scripture for unity in the Truth of Christ. We quibble over whether the hair is touching the ears or the number of inches the hem is allowed above the knee.
The fight is over my standards being more biblical than your standards. In stead of exposing worldliness at its heart -self gratification – we lose the argument of being Biblical because God never meant for us to argue over the law. Why do we set standards (for which there is an imperative need to be set)? Jesus said the Sabbath was created for man not man for the Sabbath.
My disappointment with this summary is only in your linking the desire for excellence and seeking man’s approval. The benefits and the frustrations of accreditation are multifaceted. But to categorically link seeking accreditation to selling out the faith (which may not have been your intention) is a fatal flaw. So that even people who don’t see the need for accreditation pause to say my arguments about purpose and mission are going to be lumped in with the same arguments which purpose to understand motive behind the ‘why’ someone seeks accreditation.
Also the mentioning of BJU, which has flaws, as a place you seem to think Christians should not send their children seems disingenuous. The battle for Authentic Fundamentalism is still being waged at BJU. They have shed the faculty which were covenantal (which were on staff when you matriculated). They are distancing themselves as an institution from the insidious influence of worldly music styles at a time when other ultra conservative institutions simply change the lyrics to suit their fleshly desires.
Dr. Bob Jones III has always instilled in the preacher boys not to leave the high road for compromise. But he also insisted on not turning a blind eye to the brother who seeks to come out of compromise. In our churches we discipline members and yet we love them back to the truth. Why should it be different for people outside our church but inside the family?
Be Strong and Courageous,
Your fellow servant,
Hi Pastor Sexton,
Thank you for commenting on this post. I did not intend to link excellence and seeking man’s approval, and I had no thoughts about accreditation in this post. That is another issue (very hot for Christian schools, but not in my thoughts here at all). My point in this post is to show how factors shape and mold a Christian school, yet a local church (as a concept in comparison to a Christian school) is not molded by those same factors. God made the church as a divine concept or construct for doing the work of God. My issue with Christian schools is how Christianity in general places their hope, faith, and trust on a Christian school for the next Christian generation, whereas they see local churches as helplessly lost and essentially useless in the battle. It is the other way around in my opinion. As Christian schools go, Bob Jones is one of the best. As an instrument for pushing the work of God, I think ALL Christian schools are feeble attempts in light of the strength of a local church. I am not “disingenuous” because I don’t recommend people to send their kids there. I don’t recommend Christians to send their kids to any Christian school (BJU included). I am not “outside” of the Christian school “thing”, having a M.S. in Christian School Administration and Supervision from Bob Jones itself. I see biblical issues and problems in the structure of a Christian school itself. I won’t go into them much here, but I don’t hold BJU is bad and Pensacola or Crown College or Liberty is good. The structure in all of them breaks with the NT structure of God’s people getting their spiritual “education” in a local church. I am glad to hear that Bob Jones is waging the battle to keep itself “right”. It was news to me that the “covenantal” people are being purged. Unfortunately I disagree with you on the source of this “purge”. These things happen because the number of parents and pastors sending kids into the school outnumbered the number of covenantal parents and pastors, so “they lost.” These institutions are not led by “great men of God” as the Bible defines them. The great men of God in the Bible were men who worked out of local churches doing evangelism and building up individual Christians through their ministry. They were not “administrators”, so sorry, I cannot see anything else but an administrator acting one way or another because of how it affects their school, instead of how it pleases God. When these school build up 10s of millions of dollars of God’s people’s money (a lot of it missions funds) in buildings and self-glory for themselves, then I think God’s money has been misspent. The requirement of not wanting or grabbing more than is a “reason” wage is still very present for entering the ministry. (A reasonable wage would not be having a Rembrandt painting worth millions in your house like BJU has, nor a fleet of private jets for the big wigs to joy ride in.) It is interesting that Jesus was obviously the “perfect administrator”, and as far as we can tell he kept himself out of money matters and building any permanent buildings. His administration activities was preaching and teaching the Word of God. His reception of funds (Judas was the treasury remember) was to go to helping the poor believers and essentially paying the salaries of those who evangelize and did the direct work of the Kingdom of God. I don’t see that he had a 100 secretaries and assistants sitting at desks doing bookwork. His assistants were fully vetted ministers in their own right, and they were “On the front lines” of this war.
When you speak of compromise, what kind of compromise are you talking about? I got lost there. Somehow??? BJU is on the cutting edge of Fundamentalism and you (and I too) would assume that being on the cutting edge would be the people most pleasing to God, right? Okay. Why doesn’t BJU cut their tuition by dissolving their assets (bad for a business, but undefendable for a church work, because how many churches have their own farm or their own jet?) and paying their faculty more reasonable wage (God was concerned about people underpaying their workers it seems to me) and charging their students less? The answer comes right to mind, because that is their “safety net” as any business would teach that all businesses should have. Why have 20-30 million dollars in art in the art gallery, yet squeeze the students and their parents for tuition? The issue has to go back to the Bible, and the biblical pattern is that freely YOU have received, so freely give. Don’t charge for ministry. False prophets ALWAYS are working a money/fraud angle, or squeezing people, and that makes them very recognizable. So what are God’s ministers doing using that methodology? Do we only follow the Bible when it suits us or is convenient for us? God’s ministers should teach the Bible without charging (bleeding horribly is especially wrong) God’s people. God’s people (when taught properly, and taught God’s principles of paying in gratitude for what you receive) should only give free will offerings to their ministers, and the ministers should not charge for their services. THAT is the biblical pattern, and a Christian school breaks that form or pattern. Yes you can do “more” (bigger, better, and more famous and fabulous) by charging $15,000 a year to each member, and equally a local church that could squeeze that amount out of their church members would indeed have a tremendous ministry most probably. But THAT IS NOT BIBLICAL. It is not the way God has shown us by principle nor by precept. No commands to that effect nor examples. My post is against the school system as substituting or running competition with local churches. Most Christians today in the USA consider it a responsibility or obligation as a Christian to send their kids to a good Christian school to get a good education or else their Christian life will be mostly worthless and undervalued and of no real consequence for the kingdom of God. I disagree. The local church should take on the task of educating their people, and take this back from the Christian school movement. While we send our kids to Christian schools, and morally they fail, we condemn the Christian school for failing. The Christian school simply says, “Garbage in, Garbage out” and goes to the bank with the fool’s money. Churches seemed programmed to go “light” on doctrine and teaching, and investing their hope and energies in the Christian school system to instill morality and maturity in our young people. Again this is wrong. The biblical place to place responsibility, money, and energy is in the home and the local church, NOT Christian schools. As Christians go broke, we as God’s stewards look at where the bulk of our entrusted money has gone, and a family with 2-3 kids that all go through a Christian school can easily chalk up almost the same amount in checks to a Christian school as a mortgage on a house. Why is that right or good when God has ordered it differently?
My post was not intended as a slam against BJU (but if the shoe fits, wear it). I disagree with them (true), but the intent of my post was to reveal that God’s way and design of making a local group which supports itself from a life long group of members that work and contribute to that group has great divine wisdom in staying true to God. The exterior pressures of what is happening in the modern world or the Christian modern world have little weight in the community of a local church. We can dismiss or denounce “the politically correct” things without much consequence. A school cannot. As a pastor of a local church, I can condemn homosexuality, women in positions of leadership (political or religious), women being unsubmissive to their husbands, rock music, Calvinism, and even facebook, and there is no pressure on me from my people really. A school cannot boldly preach these things without getting a lot of “blow back” (I believe that is the right term). Here I would say a hearty “Amen!” to your words about focus on unmentioned principles and stuff like hair or dress length. These things have been “the great battles of Fundamentalists” in the past. Where are they really in Scripture? If you look in Scripture, it is a minor issue. While preachers, pulpits, evangelists, and Christian schools have fought great battles around such things, they have let the simple issue of evangelism by every Christian, holiness, etc. drop through the cracks. The Christian schools are the gurus here, they never err, their insights and dictates are like the popes, God’s anointed and “only” spokesman on earth. Yet in clear hindsight, they have been constantly wrong on so much. In the end analysis, America is abandoning God because these gurus were wrong, and they guided the bulk of the ministers and pastors out there down wrong roads.
When do we realize this and go back to the Bible? We want men of God that locally, in our own home town live the life of Christ before us to be the ones that tell us what is what, and teach by theory and principle, and yet also show by personal example in their own family, in their work, in their church community life, what are the moral principles that we are to follow. That is the biblical pattern, and every pastor of a local church has a great burden to fulfill those shoes, and is in the place of truly teaching morality “that sticks”. Schools hide their teachers’ and leaders’ lives from the students and parents as a rule. When it is shown, it is staged and controlled. The form and structure is just wrong; it is unbiblical. That is my point of view that I wanted to express in this post.
Pastor David Cox