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In December of 1936, a depressed and dejected 18-year-old named Billy Graham sat chewing his fingernails in the office of his 56-year-old college president, Bob Jones Sr. The patriarch of fundamentalism had learned that Billy and a fellow classmate were planning to transfer from Bob Jones College (in Cleveland, Tennessee) to Florida Bible Institute (just outside of Tampa).

Billy’s first semester had been marked by sickness, bad grades, and a “stack of demerits” for falling short of the school’s strict standards. After learning about the planned transfer, Dr. Jones gave Billy a warning and a prediction:

Billy, if you leave and throw your life away at a little country Bible school, the chances are you’ll never be heard of.

At best, all you can amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks.

Given the network of fundamentalism, it was not an unreasonable prediction. But of course it turned out to be quite wrong.

The relationship between the two men was repaired before it ruptured again. Twelve years after this meeting (1948), Bob Jones University would confer on Billy Graham--then the president of Northwestern Baptist Bible College in Minneapolis--an honorary doctorate. In March of 1950 Graham held an evangelistic rally on the campus of BJU (now located in Greenville, SC). (The mayor ordered the stores in town to close and the schools were dismissed early for the event.)

Billy had formed a friendship with Bob Jones Sr. and Jr., with Billy inviting criticism and guidance from “Dr. Bob.”

The elder Jones took him upon on the offer. The following excerpts are from a letter to Billy that contains some helpful advice (May 22, 1952):

I would advise you to take a few campaigns in small towns and pull your budget way down. It will do your soul good to get away from the cities and into small communities where Americans live and where there is not so much glamour. . . .

Make it clear that you are not in the business to get church members, but to get church members converted.

Then Jones raised the issue of politics, a source of perennial fascination and power and temptation:

Now, politics has been my weakness. It is going to be a weakness with you. Watch about your association with politicians. If you are not careful, you will be used sometime when you are not conscious of being used. . . .

Graham would go on to know and pray with and counsel eleven different U.S. Presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. (See The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House.)

Recently--nearly 60 years after receiving this letter from Bob Jones Sr.--Billy Graham was asked about his regrets and what he would have done differently. In addition to spending more time with his family, he mentioned his association with politicians:

I also would have steered clear of politics.

I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to.

But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.

In the mid-50’s Bob Jones Sr. and Billy Graham increasingly moved farther apart over issues of separation from and cooperation with modernists. The “bridge too far” was Graham’s major six-month crusade at Madison Square Garden in 1957. The two men became exemplars of fundamentalism and neo-evangelicalism and went in different directions.

I have the sense that younger evangelicals today are often ignorant of the modernist-fundamentalism divide in the early twentieth century, followed by the fundamentalist-evangelical divide in the mid-twentieth century. But there are great lessons for all of us to learn from studying these important events, including the virtues and flaws of our forefathers in the faith.

(A good historical introduction is George Marsden’s Reforming Fundamentalism.)

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89 thoughts on “Bob Jones Sr. to Billy Graham: A Bad Prediction, Some Good Advice”

  1. Jan says:

    As a side note; I’m pretty sure that the crusade at Madison Square Garden is where George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization got saved at age 19.

  2. Shayne McAllister says:


    If you’re planning on doing any research regarding the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, the Fundamentalism File at the Bob Jones University Library would be a great place to do research.

    Great article. These were two flawed Christians that God has used, and I agree that most evangelicals don’t know about the controversy in the 1950s that shaped evangelicalism.


    1. Justin/Shayne:

      A very helpful read to gain an understanding of that era would be Dr. Ernest Pickerng’s The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism. People, wherever they land in this discussion, would do well to consider this volume.

      Kind regards,


  3. BJ Sr.:
    Billy, if you leave and throw your life away at a little country Bible school, the chances are you’ll never be heard of.

    At best, all you can amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks.

    “Given the network of fundamentalism, it was not an unreasonable prediction. But of course it turned out to be quite wrong.”

    However, given what the Scriptures teach I would say BJ Sr. demonstrated a contempt for divine providence in his unwarranted prediction which is quite unreasonable for a man allegedly so mature in the faith. What a lesson for every student of the Bible.

  4. Dane says:

    Very thoughtful and helpful, thanks Justin.

  5. truthmatters says:

    Unlike Billy, t seems very few preachers today take you to the threshold, where your life hangs in the balance of eternity, between heaven or hell.

  6. Lance Brewer says:

    Great article. If you would like to learn more about the fundamentalist history in America (which speaks in great length about what this article covers), I recommend Andrew Hime’s upcoming book “The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family.” It is available on Andrew’s grandfather was the legendary fundamentalist leader Dr. John R. Rice – founder of the Sword of the Lord fundamentalist newspaper. I had the privilege of reading and reviewing this book recently and it is an incredible history book and a wonderful read.

  7. Shayne McAllister says:

    Another book to read is “Promise Unfulfilled: The Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism” by fundamentalist Rolland McCune. Mark Dever says he agrees with the history there, but is in mixed agreement with the application of the history in the book.

  8. Fran says:

    I struggle as I read this. The main problem I have is that if you examine Dr. Jones Sr.’s writings (and even chapel messages preached by his grandson this very year), you see a different gospel from the one on which this coalition centers itself. There’s very little humility coming from that pulpit.

    1. John says:

      I was thinking the same thing…

    2. michael S. says:

      What can you site to prove this claim?

      1. Jean says:

        Michael, here is a link to Dr. Bob Sr’s claim that racial segregation is God’s established order:

  9. MatthewS says:

    I don’t know what was in Bob Jones’ heart when he said that, but the effect in my heart as I read it is that it appeals to pride and fear of failure. Those would be exactly the wrong motivations and would indicate lack of grace.

    1. Shayne McAllister says:


      I think that could be part of the motivation, but another could be that Jones was trying to get a talented young man a little healthy fear about his future so he would stay in school. We’ve all had parental figures in our life that warn us that our laziness or inattention will one day come back to bite us. Remember that Graham was not following school rules at the time, which Jones took as laziness or insubordination of a young person.

      1. Good motives “is” not a substitute for doing a right thing in a right way nor a justification for failing to do a right thing in a right way. At this point in Sr.’s life, according to the various aggrandizing biographies of his spiritual legacy, he should have known better.

      2. MatthewS says:

        Shayne, that is a most charitable spin; indeed many parental figures have put a healthy fear into lazy students. The issue was not that Graham was dropping out of school but transferring to another school. The issue may not have been laziness but rather an overbearing system of “standards” and demerits that has crushed more than one spirit and pumped up pride in others (I’ve seen both with my two eyeballs). And the carrot being used was fame and fortune. Read it again,

        At best, all you can amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks.

        Some preachers minister in small, unknown locales their entire lives, serving the community well and maintaining good relationships with their wife and kids. This quote implies they should hang their heads in shame.

        1. Gene says:

          If I recall correctly, Graham recounts in his *Just As I Am* that he was leaving in part over the rules of social relationships with girls. Ironically, in his life, he talks about how he never even enters a hotel room by himself.

          Interesting how that came full circle to where he adopted a position that was stricter than BJC had at the time.

          1. Barb says:

            I also have heard Graham would not ride in a taxi cab with a woman other than his wife (or I’m sure other female relatives). I think there is a difference between his personal discretion and wisdom in where he is alone and where the appearance of things could be misunderstood and making it a standard required as part of his teaching and preaching to everyone.

            1. Gene says:

              It was required at BJC and BJU as a matter of institutional policy for managing a large organization, and for helping people to develop discernment in these personal matters.

              The fact remains that BG lives by a higher standard than what he left BJC for. Which is fine. It’s just ironic.

  10. Fran says:

    Also, Bob Jones has not steered clear of politics. I was around Greenville, SC when George Bush came to speak in chapel in the 2000 election cycle and a professor at Bob Jones took big time heat for writing a scathing criticism of John McCain. Honestly, I think this piece is not well researched. You are opening a can of worms here and are probably a bit ignorant of the gospel-less racism and oppression fostered by Bob Jones University since it’s inception. But those of us formerly associated with it know it quite well.

  11. Gene says:


    I think you are a bit mistaken. First, Jones Sr did preach a clear gospel, and the subsequent issues with Graham in the 50s and later were over how to apply the biblical commands regarding separation from apostates. I think history has shown that Jones Sr. was right on that particular matter as Graham has espoused, or at least refused to clearly denounce, a number of unbiblical teachings.

    Second, Jones Sr. did steer clear of politics for the most part. Your comments about Bush in 2000 refer to a time 32 years after Jones Sr. died. Jones III was the most politically active of the Joneses, and Stephen has rejected that political activism (to his credit).

    I was associated with BJU for a relatively long period of time (several decades) and have nothing to do with it today. But I never experienced any oppression from them. They had strict policies to be sure, but it was not oppressive in any meaningful sense.

    1. Fran says:

      “It was not oppressive in any meaningful sense.”

      Obviously, you are not black.

      Evangelicals can not turn a blind eye to the horrible race relations Bob Jones Sr. instituted in his school. He was a racist. It’s proven 500 different ways from his sermons and writings. His school oppressed black people, first by denying them entry until well into the 1970’s. Then they forbid interracial dating until the 2000 election cycle. It is not in the best interest of The Gospel Coalition to associate any of their core beliefs with Bob Jones Sr. I hope I am misreading the intent of the author of this article.

      1. Gene says:

        Fran, you say, “It is not in the best interest of The Gospel Coalition to associate any of their core beliefs with Bob Jones Sr.”

        TGC can’t help it though because in order to dissociate from Jones Sr, or BJU, they would have to deny the very gospel they claim to believe in.

        The race relations issue was sinful, no doubt about it. And it was inconsistent with the gospel, as all of us are at times. Consider how your own attitude here betrays the gospel. So I would back off a bit and understand that God has greatly used flawed people such as Jones and Graham, and hopefully you and me.

        1. Gene says:

          That should say “dissociate their core beliefs.”

        2. Gene:

          You wrote, “TGC can’t help it though because in order to dissociate from Jones Sr, or BJU, they would have to deny the very gospel they claim to believe in.”

          The Gospel message of the leadership in TGC, and its sister organization T4G, is radically different than the saving message of the Gospel (for justification) believed, preached and defended by Bob Jones, Sr., Jr., and the III. They never preached the interpretation of the Gospel that is commonly known as “Lordship Salvation,” which is the message of TGC/T4G.


          1. michael S. says:

            “The Gospel message of the leadership in TGC, and its sister organization T4G, is radically different than the saving message of the Gospel (for justification) believed, preached and defended by Bob Jones, Sr., Jr., and the III. They never preached the interpretation of the Gospel that is commonly known as “Lordship Salvation,” which is the message of TGC/T4G.”

            …And neither did Graham!!!

          2. Gene says:


            That’s just a lie.

            1. Gene, You might benefit from doing a comparative study.

              Yours in Him

  12. Phil says:

    Regarding this quote from BJ Sr… “At best, all you can amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks.” What a stunningly revealing statement of this man’s view of ministry “out in the sticks” and his valueless view of the souls “out in the sticks.”. His attitude is clear: only big city preachers with big cross-bearing-synagogues “amount to” anything. Stunning, but far from surprising. Praise God that Graham steered clear and went on to preach a Christian gospel.

  13. Gene says:

    Phil says: “His attitude is clear: only big city preachers with big cross-bearing-synagogues “amount to” anything. Stunning, but far from surprising.”

    That is actually a pretty uncharitable reading and probably far from the truth. I think Jones Sr. regarded Graham as having some exceptional abilities and did not want to see them only partially used. And Graham, for some years after this, regarded Jones Sr as a sort of mentor, so he obviously did not share your view of Jones Sr.

    1. Phil says:

      Gene, You’re merely echoing the attitude of BJ, Sr. The premise of your degrading argument is that men with “exceptional abilities” are somehow only “partially” using their abilities if they minister “out in the sticks” (as BJ Sr. put it). My great grandfather was a loving and intelligent man and a skilled orator of the mysteries of God by all accounts of those who knew and loved him. Yet he ministered in the farmlands of central Illinois until 1955, mostly in a circuit of small churches out in the sticks.

      You find no Biblical support for the idea that talented men are in any way wasting their talents by ministering apart from metro-based megachurches. Ministers who minister faithfully do so to the full glory of God, regardless of whether they minister to 5,000 or 50. It’s attitudes like yours and BJ Sr’s that make pastors of small churches feel inferior and pastor of big churches feel like it’s beneath their talents to minister in smaller settings.

      The fact that Billy Graham maintained respect for BJ Sr. (at least in some matters) does not at all polish up the image of this smiling hate-filled hyper-fundamentalist bigot who wouldn’t appreciate the image of God if it stared him in the face — unless, of course, that image had his skin. I think what BJ Sr. was really afraid of was that Billy would use his talents “in the sticks” where it would be wasted (according to BJ Sr.’s world view) on non-whites who heavily populated the countryside.

      1. Gene says:

        Wow, that’s pretty judgmental. And not at all true. I didn’t say I agreed with the argument. I am simply saying what I thought Jones Sr may have been intending. And I doubt it was about race.

        Did you know that Jones thought of starting a school for black students so they could be educated and that he also tried to get them into northern schools? Jones Sr was anything but hate filled.

        I pastor a very small church, so I am not bothered by the idea of wasting talent in the backwoods.

        I would urge you not to be so bigoted, particularly before you understand what another person is saying.

        1. Mark Robinson says:

          “Did you know that Jones thought of starting a school for black students so they could be educated”

          Gene, More ecclesiastical ‘separate but equal’ was NOT what the church needed.

          But since you brought up the notion of bigotry, why don’t we allow Dr Bob Jones Sr. to speak for himself and his school officially:

          1. Jean says:

            You can also read it and easily enlarge it here:

            Gene, I’m just giving you the benefit of the doubt to guess that this is an area where you’re just uninformed. Bob Sr.’s views on this matter are reprehensible.

          2. Gene says:

            Mark, I am pretty sure that know you and I like you. I have great respect for you and hope someday to rekindle our acquaintance. I would love to know more about what you are doing these days.

            Please understanding that I am not defending Jones Sr. position. Someone else tried to pin that on me and I rejected it then, as I do now. I don’t agree with it. I do not believe in “separate but equal.” I think it is atrocious. Reprehensible is not even strong enough for it.

            But I am pointing that out that some here are informed ata very surface level. At that time, segregation was the law of the land. Yes, BJU should have been on the forefront of that battle, and they weren’t.

            But did either of you read the little pamphlet? Allow me to quote a few things here, for those who see the title and the author and then assume what it says:

            The Africans are wonderful people. In many ways, there are no people in the world finer than the colored people who were brought over here in slavery in days gone by.

            You talk about a superior race and an inferior race and all that kind of situation. Wait a minute. No race is inferior in the will of God. Get that clear (p. 8).

            Well, away back yonder our forefathers went over to Africa and brought the colored people back and sold them into slavery. That was wrong(p. 9)

            A great many people in the South in the old days did. not believe in slavery-they stood against slavery. But they went ahead, and the commercial element was dominant; and people bought slaves and sold them. This slavery was not right. It should not have been. What we should have done was to have sent missionaries to Africa. Yes, that is what we should have done. That would have been in line with Scripture. (p. 16).

            I have no axe to grind. I would like to tell you something we had planned to build a school, just like Bob Jones University here in the South for colored people. We wanted to build it. But we have run into this agitation now that makes it difficult and the years are piling up, I do not suppose I will ever be able to build It. We wanted to build a great school where colored people could come and get all the culture that we offer here at Bob Jones University. We would not have faced the problems that are faced where there is integration. We wanted to build a place where Christian colored people could get their education in an atmosphere where their talents in music and speech and art and all could be preserved and handed down. We wanted to build that kind of a school. We had that in mind until all this agitation started. (pp. 24-25)

            If you are a Christian, you are not going to mistreat anybody. You will not mistreat a colored man or a white man or anybody else. Individually, we are one in Christ; (p. 31).

            Now, I have selectively quoted, but I think fairly so. What you have here is not a man who hates black people and considers them inferior. You have a man with a faulty interpretation and application of Acts 17. Those are two entirely different things, and that needs to be known. Some people are commenting out of ignorance here, saying or implying that Jones Sr hated black people, etc.

            His own writings, linked by you two, have shown that is not true.

            So let’s at least be honest about what he said. I don’t know everything that was in his heart, and in God’s good providence, he never got the school built that he wanted. But there is a difference between some of the quotes attributed to others and the hateful racism of it, and what Jones Sr said here.

            Separate but equal was wrong. Make no mistake. But it is not because Jones Sr thought blacks were inferior or unequal in the body of Christ. His refusal to integrate his school was not because he believed they should not have an education.

  14. IMO, one of the most helpful books on this subject is Dr. Ernest Pickerng’s The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism. People on both sides of the separation debate would do well to consider his polemic.


  15. Paul Matzko says:

    It may bear pointing out that the account of what was said in Graham’s first meeting with BJ Sr. came from William Martin’s biography of Graham. Thus, we are dealing with memory rather than primary documentation like the later letter from BJ Sr. to Graham. It would not be surprising if a unhappy, immature teenager remembered the conversation in a negative light. I do not own Martin’s “A Prophet With Honor,” but if you do please let us know about the account from page 70.

    The theory that Graham misremembered the principal thrust of the conversation is strengthened by BJ Sr.’s surviving letter to Billy’s father from January 11, 1937 in which Sr. wrote “I have advised Billy to go down to Florida to the Bible Institute and take his work regularly and orderly. … As one father to another and as a Christian brother to another, I advise you to write Billy to go to Florida.” It also would make more internal sense to the advice BJ Sr. sent to Billy later on about spending time in small, rural churches.

    I hope I’m not remiss in offering a mild rebuke to how quickly you gentlemen were willing to engage in a heated exchange with little personal or historical knowledge of either BJ Sr. or Graham.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Paul, my source for the quote was from David Turner’s authorized history of BJU. He prefaces it with “apparently” but does not dispute its accuracy.

      1. Paul Matzko says:

        Thanks Justin. Turner footnotes Martin page 70.

        1. Justin Taylor says:

          Right. My main point was that one would not expect an authorized bio to repeat the info if it was judged suspect or inaccurate. Martin’s source for this is Wendell Phillips, Billy’s classmate who was in the office that day, recounted in a July 1, 1988 interview. The president of Florida Bible Institute, W.T. Watson, also reports that Jones wrote Watson a letter saying that Billy could do good work if you hold his feet to the fire and that he comes from a good Christian home. Martin opines, that Jones’s “calmer judgment, at least on this occasion, overcame his sense of personal affront.” The footnotes are on pp. 625-6 of Martin’s bio. Hope that helps.

          1. Paul Matzko says:

            Ah, makes sense. So it wasn’t Graham’s recollection. Thanks for checking Martin for me.

            I don’t doubt that Martin accurately described what Phillips recounted as being said at the meeting.

            From what little Turner says about Phillips’ confrontational stance in the meeting, Phillips’s memory of the conversation could have been distorted by his frustration. Phillips had every reason to remember Sr.’s words in a negative light. After all, Phillips was interviewed over fifty years after the events described.

  16. Paul Matzko says:

    Addendum: “like” in paragraph one should be “unlike.”

  17. Russ The Reformer says:

    Bob Jones University should have been separated from by the separatists. They were in unrepentant sin for their ban on inter-racial dating relationships. This racist policy remained on the books until the year 2000 when media coverage pressured a change. This was a type of offense that even the pagans find intolerable. Separation should have been practiced on them.

  18. Justin:

    This, I believe will be a helpful except from Dr. Ernest Pickering’s The Tragedy of Compromise, pp. 50-51.

    I [Ernest Pickering] remember the young Billy Graham. In the 1940s he was a popular speaker with Youth for Christ and used to visit my alma mater [BJU] periodically. Tall, gangly, and good-looking, he was immediately recognized on the campus when he appeared.

    Since BJU has taken much “flak” over its opposition to Graham’s evangelistic philosophy, it is interesting to note that in his early fundamentalist days, Graham was not only a student at the University but also a great admirer of its founder, Bob Jones, Sr. In 1944 he wrote to Bob Jones, Jr., and said, “I want you to be personally assured of my love and loyalty to you, Dr. Bob Senior, and all that Bob Jones College stands for.”

    Later in October 1950, Billy wrote to Bob Jones, Sr., and said, “Please believe me also, I need your advice and counsel and covet your long years of experience to help guide me across the many pitfalls. Modernists are beginning to write letters against me…. All of us young evangelists look up to you as a father.”3

    3) Personal correspondence from Billy Graham, 1/16/1947 and 10/23/1950.

  19. JD Crowley says:

    Fran and Russ the Reformer,

    I’m guessing that you didn’t know that BJU publicly apologized for their racist policies? Asking for forgiveness is a language that all true Christians understand. We’re all glad when people don’t keep reminding us of the sins we’ve already confessed.

    1. Russ The Reformer says:

      My post was intended to reference the inconsistency of how separation is applied in IBF circles. Before the year 2000 when those racist policies were on the books, other fundamentalists should have applied separation to BJ. It showed a glaring inconsistency in how separation is applied for things like different views on eschatology or being a part of the SBC, but not for racism.

      1. JD Crowley says:

        R the R,

        Point taken.

  20. Mark Robinson says:

    JD Crowley,

    As a black graduate of BJU who repeatedly challenged the faculty & administration on its racial policies and followed closely the post-2000 ‘apology’ proceedings, I ask you to please direct me to any documentation (private or public) where BJU has biblically repudiated and repented of this official dating policy statement –

    I would gladly stand corrected if such a statement of repentance exists.

  21. michael says:


    I too am a BJU grad, but I am not black. For many years, I ministered and lived in an area 80% black, and was afraid (more ashamed) of telling people of where I graduated from because of their race relations. I entered BJU never knowing of their policies or race history.

    Below I am posting their apology. I am sure you read it but perhaps you do not believe it is sufficient. But when I read your statement and link (their policy by Neale) and then I read their apology, it seemed that they reinterpreted (correctly this time) some of the same texts and arguments used FOR their previous policy by Neale to now show why their position was wrong! They said they were wrong, sorry, and changed the policy.

    I ask this in a sincere manner, what more would you like them to say? I look forward to your reply.

    “At Bob Jones University, Scripture is our final authority for faith and practice and it is our intent to have it govern all of our policies. It teaches that God created the human race as one race. History, reality and Scripture affirm that in that act of creation was the potential for great diversity, manifested today by the remarkable racial and cultural diversity of humanity. Scripture also teaches that this beautiful, God-caused and sustained diversity is divinely intended to incline mankind to seek the Lord and depend on Him for salvation from sin (Acts 17:24–28).
    The true unity of humanity is found only through faith in Christ alone for salvation from sin — in contrast to the superficial unity found in humanistic philosophies or political points of view. For those made new in Christ, all sinful social, cultural and racial barriers are erased (Colossians 3:11), allowing the beauty of redeemed human unity in diversity to be demonstrated through the Church.
    The Christian is set free by Christ’s redeeming grace to love God fully and to love his neighbor as himself, regardless of his neighbor’s race or culture. As believers, we demonstrate our love for others first by presenting Christ our Great Savior to every person, irrespective of race, culture, or national origin. This we do in obedience to Christ’s final command to proclaim the Gospel to all men (Matthew 28:19–20). As believers we are also committed to demonstrating the love of Christ daily in our relationships with others, disregarding the economic, cultural and racial divisions invented by sinful humanity (Luke 10:25–37; James 2:1–13).
    Bob Jones University has existed since 1927 as a private Christian institution of higher learning for the purpose of helping young men and women cultivate a biblical worldview, represent Christ and His Gospel to others, and glorify God in every dimension of life.
    BJU’s history has been chiefly characterized by striving to achieve those goals; but like any human institution, we have failures as well. For almost two centuries American Christianity, including BJU in its early stages, was characterized by the segregationist ethos of American culture. Consequently, for far too long, we allowed institutional policies regarding race to be shaped more directly by that ethos than by the principles and precepts of the Scriptures. We conformed to the culture rather than provide a clear Christian counterpoint to it.
    In so doing, we failed to accurately represent the Lord and to fulfill the commandment to love others as ourselves. For these failures we are profoundly sorry. Though no known antagonism toward minorities or expressions of racism on a personal level have ever been tolerated on our campus, we allowed institutional policies to remain in place that were racially hurtful.
    On national television in March 2000, Bob Jones III, who was the university’s president until 2005, stated that BJU was wrong in not admitting African-American students before 1971, which sadly was a common practice of both public and private universities in the years prior to that time. On the same program, he announced the lifting of the University’s policy against interracial dating.
    Our sincere desire is to exhibit a truly Christlike spirit and biblical position in these areas. Today, Bob Jones University enrolls students from all 50 states and nearly 50 countries, representing various ethnicities and cultures. The University solicits financial support for two scholarship funds for minority applicants, and the administration is committed to maintaining on the campus the racial and cultural diversity and harmony characteristic of the true Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world.”

    1. Mark Robinson says:


      Some brief cursory comments:

      1) Maybe I’m missing it but where is the confession that BJU’s interracial dating policy was wrong? The Neale brochure says IR dating/marriage is sin – “For Christians interracial marriage is not a matter of indifference; it is a matter of not pleasing God”. This was the crucial issue in 2000 (when bad publicity appears to have prompted BJU to act?) and yet to this day, BJU, to my knowledge, has NEVER admitted specifically that the dating policy was contra-scripture and therefore wrong. Did I miss it in the few paragraphs of apology? As I read it, BJU could have written exactly what they did and still retain a policy which prohibits interracial dating yet allows all other types of social intercourse among the student body. This brief statement is long on general, vague ‘ethos’ sentiment. Not too that their official defense by Neale is far more extensive than the ‘apology’. That is telling.

      2) When attempting an apology, the ‘everybody else was doing it’ defense comes off as patronizing, self-justifying and seldom helps your case, especially after you have vehemently affirmed the individual nature of sin/responsibility. A cornerstone of this ‘apology’argued that the surrounding racist culture influenced(? )BJU’s racist ‘ethos’, that southern culture ate sour grapes and BJU’s teeth were set on edge. Appeals to the collective culture sound like thinly veiled attempts to evade the full force of responsibility.

      3) “No known antagonism toward minorities or expressions of racism on a personal level have ever been tolerated on our campus”. This statement is just patently false. So, when I was called a ‘nigger’, then reported it to the dean only to be told to let it go, this didn’t constitute ‘known antagonism?’ Or the repeated harassment by staff whenever a black student would walk with a white student of opp. gender, this wasn’t an ‘expression of racism’? How about the southern prof. who said that blacks simply weren’t intellectually capable of being teachers, was that not an ‘expression of racism’? I could go on and on and on. A simple honest survey of faculty/staff/administration/(minority) students would have falsified this claim quite painfully. To make such a sweeping, dismissive and false statement in the face of so much contrary evidence & experience, is morally irresponsible and suggests culpable ignorance and a seeming desire both to carelessly sanitize public perception while whitewashing ugly historical events. I simply don’t know how to read it otherwise.

      4) Circumstantially, is it not the least bit curious that both public statements in recent yrs. (i.e. 2000, 2008) have followed on the heels of mounting social pressure? This doesn’t necessarily invalidate apologies, but it does foreground motive. This ‘apology’ looks too much like a pragmatic capitulation to surrounding culture to be accepted as a true apology born of pure motive.

      5) Lots more could be said. I don’t expect most majority culture grads to really grasp experientially the inadequacy of BJU’s statement. Every text has subtext which fills out its meaning and I feel deeply the subtext of this statement. For many of us, it raises more issues than it addresses. I read a brilliant analysis/critique of this statement and the surrounding context/issues by Dr. Camille Lewis. It’s rigorous and incisive in ways that most of us are simply incapable of matching. I think it may be publicly available if you try to Google it.

      1. michael says:


        Thank you for your well thought out and substantive reply. I don’t really disagree with anything you said. I wish you’re time there would have been as racially friendly as mine. I think most students are oblivious about the problem. You are correct when you say “I don’t expect most majority culture grads to really grasp experientially the inadequacy of BJU’s statement” for we did not experience the same things you did. But please be patient to those of us who want to school to change for the good.

        While the apology does not go far enough, and you have every right to be skeptical and critical of it, I do see a new “tone” at BJU overall and Steven is doing a decent job I think. It is a very difficult task to change everything. So I guess I am encouraged by the baby steps they have taken and hope to see greater reconciliation in the future. That’s how I saw this apology. As a beginning. As a start. I haven’t been able to find Dr. Lewis’ specific analysis but I will continue to seek it out. I found her blog on which she recounts her dismissal from BJU. None of which surprises me to say the least.

        Incidentally, I am sure you are aware this occurs, but I was at an mainstream Evangelical (far far from Fundamentalist) seminary and a prof told me and another student the reason they had a simpler Masters program (MA) was because most of the black students couldn’t handle the MDiv. So BJU isn’t the only school where this occurs.

  22. Grant says:

    Justin- I am a faithful reader and, to be honest, was pretty shocked to see this piece. Can you clarify your position on Bob Jones? This piece seems to be pretty neutral/uncritical position toward Bob Jones and what he and his institution have stood for; related to both race relations as well as the apparent use of shame and guilt as means to control the private lives of associated Christians. Seems like they have a very bizarre and unbiblical view of the world, humanity, peace, justice, sanctification, God’s providence. My wife, a BJA grad, is still psychologically dealing with the “abuse” (my interpretation) from years spent there. I know everyone’s experience there is different but at the very least it shouldn’t we as thoughtful christians be pretty skeptical about what happens there. I’ve always viewed Bob Jones (as well as the school) as someone the reformed world should dissociate ourselves from without hesitation. Anyway, I would be interested in your thoughts here.

    1. Fran says:

      Grant, I agree with you. I know many kind, nice people at Bob Jones University. Kind, nice people who have a fundamentally flawed view of the gospel. The administration doesn’t tolerate a reformed view of Scripture and has systematically rid itself of professors and teachers who do. The current chancellor remains ambivalent on interracial dating, only barely tolerating it among the students because he absolutely had too. There’s nothing Biblically sound to defend there though I do care for the people.

      Justin, I too am concerned with what this blog post means in terms of an accurate understanding of Scripture and how that informs who we do and do not commend.

  23. Shayne McAllister says:

    “I know everyone’s experience there is different but at the very least it shouldn’t we as thoughtful christians be pretty skeptical about what happens there. I’ve always viewed Bob Jones (as well as the school) as someone the reformed world should dissociate ourselves from without hesitation.”

    Grant, I too am a BJA and BJU grad. I wonder why for many people it’s somehow not OK for BJU to engage in separation (whether we think it’s right in application or not), but it is OK for you to make blanket statements about an entire institution of people and not give them a second chance or learn about current situations? The times are a-changing Grant. The school has more reformed-minded people than you would ever guess.

    People and institutions are mixed bags of good and bad. We all sin. Maybe your wife is right to be suspicious, but then why not seek reconciliation? Why does everyone have to have a position on Bob Jones. I’m sure Justin doesn’t need to have a position on them. But it is good to learn from the history of various figures in Christian history, both good and bad, and learn from it. That’s what Justin is doing here, and well.

    1. michael S. says:

      “The school has more reformed-minded people than you would ever guess.” This is very, very true. I think every student has an ESVSB!

      Maybe the readers should listen to J. Piper and his:

      20 Reasons I Don’t Take Potshots at Fundamentalists off of the BEST of the DG Blog! Yep, the BEST!

      June 2, 2008 | by: John Piper | Category: Commentary

      1. They are humble and respectful and courteous and even funny (the ones I’ve met).

      2. They believe in truth.

      3. They believe that truth really matters.

      4. They believe that the Bible is true, all of it.

      5. They know that the Bible calls for some kind of separation from the world.

      6. They have backbone and are not prone to compromise principle.

      7. They put obedience to Jesus above the approval of man (even though they fall short, like others).

      8. They believe in hell and are loving enough to warn people about it.

      9. They believe in heaven and sing about how good it will be to go there.

      10. Their “social action” is helping the person next door (like Jesus), which doesn’t usually get written up in the newspaper.

      11. They tend to raise law-abiding, chaste children, in spite of the fact that Barna says evangelical kids in general don’t have any better track record than non-Christians.

      12. They resist trendiness.

      13. They don’t think too much is gained by sounding hip.

      14. They may not be hip, but they don’t go so far as to drive buggies or insist on typewriters.

      15. They still sing hymns.

      16. They are not breathless about being accepted in the scholarly guild.

      17. They give some contemporary plausibility to New Testament claim that the church is the “pillar and bulwark of the truth.”

      18. They are good for the rest of evangelicals because of all this.

      19. My dad was one.

      20. Everybody to my left thinks I am one. And there are a lot of people to my left.

      1. Shayne McAllister says:

        I love that blog post, and also his tribute to his father.

        Here’s an illustration of how BJU has changed over time. If you go to the BJU bookstore today, you would be able to buy books by Al Mohler, Thabiti Anyabwile, Kevin Deyoung, Tim Keller, and I could go on (sorry Justin, you didn’t make the cut). Contributes to this site have been graduates. A healthy portion of conference attenders went to Bob Jones. I’m just saying that for those of you who are shocked that Justin Taylor is doing something odd here by posting about Dr. Bob Sr., it really isn’t that odd. It makes sense for him to critique both Sr. and Graham and learn from them.

    2. Grant says:

      Shayne- I have heard there have been some changes at BJU over the years, and all of the people that I know that went there are descent and Godly people. So, I’m not trying to make blanket statements about anyone in particular. However, I also do know that there is a strong segregationist history at the school (which albeit is changing), my wife experienced serious spiritual abuse at the institution (as she perceived it) of which she is still haunted, and I have heard anecdotes from at least one black friend who went to BJU that institutional race issues are far from resolved. Again, everyone’s experience is different so I cannot say if that these are emblematic of the University or are true outlier experiences. Furthermore, I also do NOT believe that “separation” is not a Christian virtue as I understand our faith. I also believe that it is spiritually dangerous for institutions to compel personal piety. Based on that mix of personal experience, anecdotes, my historical understanding, and my personal understandings of the faith, I believe that BJU should be viewed with skepticism and concern by reformed thinkers. At the very least, I personally view it with great skepticism and the institution has NOT been a blessing to my family. The question to Justin was simply one of surprise, I have agreed with him on so many things and was surprised about this post.

      1. Grant says:

        Correction…I meant to say that…

        “I also do NOT believe that “separation” is a Christian virtue as I understand our faith”

      2. Shayne McAllister says:

        Grant, what I fail to see is how skepticism about the school is related to this post by Justin. It seems like Justin was implying a mixture of good and bad in both leaders’ histories. If you did know of changes happening at BJU, why the surprise? I guess I still don’t get it. Our different experiences (and probably ages. I’m 28.) will color how we look at the school.

        While biblical separation may not be a virtue, it is sometimes a necessity. Any Gospel Coalition member would agree with this statement (and current BJU faculty), but it’s just a question of application where that line would be drawn.

        1. Grant says:

          Shayne- Not sure what you meant by mentioning my age…whether you were suggesting that I am older or younger. Do you mean that i have an “old” conception of BJU? I won’t read too much into that comment but just say that I am 31 so I don’t think that’s the issue.

          As far as why this came up re: Justin’s post. I’ll say first that there were a ton of people that had similiar responses (see Fran for example). So, its not that unusual. I think many people have very visceral reactions to Bob Jones and what he stood for. So, I guess that you shouldn’t be surprised that apparently innocuous posts about Bob Jones will likely rankle folks, even if it seems somewhat unrelated specifically to the post itself.

          But, more specifically, I suspect that I come from a totally different context than you, and I (and the people I run with) would consider Bob Jones as someone who held an “unconventional” view of the gospel, “separation”, evangelism, sanctification, etc. and quite frankly held a view of race that IMO is a bit of an embarrassment to the church. So, I was trying to understand why Justin would commend someone, even vaguely, who seems to me to be so clearly in conflict with what I see as the tone and positioning of the Gospel Coalition (maybe I’m wrong…see below). For example, I just don’t see someone like Tim Keller or Kevin DeYoung commending Bob Jones even in the measured way that Justin did here…maybe I don’t understand who/what the Gospel Coalition stands for. As “Fran” said, he was “concerned with what this blog post means in terms of an accurate understanding of Scripture and how that informs who we do and do not commend”. I’m less “concerned”, but more, as I said, “surprised”.

          As far as separation goes, this is not a term that I (and again the folks I run with) use very often. Maybe we are using “separation: it in different ways. We do talk alot, however, about being a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven as opposed to the Kingdom of Man. I just think about how Jesus tells us to “separate” ourselves from the Kingdom of Man; thinking about being meek, giving to the needy, not judging others, etc. I don’t see it as it having much to do with avoiding “man-ish” haircuts on women, wearing certain types of dresses, and (men) not wearing earrings. And when we do make separation (read: Being a part of the Kingdom of Heaven) about things like dress and manners, I think that we degrade the power of the gospel. From my limited interaction with BJU/BJA, I see the rules that are a part of this idea of “separation” having less to do with the Kingdom of Heaven and more to do with Southern finishing schools. So, I say, let’s agree on the Sermon on the Mount and Bob Jones can have the rest. Again, I may misunderstand the idea of “separation” as you (and BJU) see it.

          As far as “any Gospel Coalition member” agreeing with you. My response is “that’s cool with me”. I disagree a lot with folks from the Gospel Coalition. I appreciate them as faithful men of God but I don’t always agree. GC tends to be a bit more conservative and Baptistic than I am…which is cool with me. But it doesn’t describe where I am coming from. That’s probably the root of my surprise that Bob Jones would mentioned on this blog. This is a character in church history that really doesn’t factor into the conversations that I have.

          1. Shayne McAllister says:

            Grant, I honestly think that your limited interaction with the school limits your understanding of the reasons behind rules at the school (and BTW, the dress standards have changed in the last several years) their understanding of biblical separation. It is true that one could walk away from the school as a teenager convinced that BJU thought that certain dress and personal standards equaled holiness. It’s a misconception that they would be quick to correct. I was wondering if you can present any evidence that Bob Jones Sr. or any present day faculty member has an unconventional understanding of the gospel?

            I can also tell you from personal experience and hundreds of friendships that it thankfully a thing of the past.

            It’s possible I new your wife in high school. I hope she’s doing well.

            1. Grant says:

              Shayne- You’re probably right. I’ll be sure to pass your well wishes onto my wife.

      3. Shayne McAllister says:

        And also, I use my last name.

        1. Grant says:

          Shayne- I am not using my last name because I mention my wife and her personal struggles. I am, to a certain extent trying to protect her identity. She told me that she actually knows some people commenting here from her BJA days, so even though no one would likely “unearth” her name from mine, I’m being conservative.

  24. JD Crowley says:

    I’m truly heartbroken for any racial sins committed against you by anyone at BJU or anywhere else. When one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it.

    Like you, I urged the highest levels of leadership to publicly ask for forgiveness concerning past racial sins. And, like you, I wish that the apology referenced above had been stronger at some points. But Christian charity requires that I receive it as sincere, as I have received many other imperfect apologies as sincere over the years, and as others have graciously received my own inadequate apologies. The real test is the fruit of repentance, and I think there is real fruit.

    (Concerning your point number two, you can hardly charge BJU with using the “everyone was doing it” defense when the apology itself rejects that defense and states that Christians are supposed to go against culture when culture is wrong.)

    Thanks for the conversation.

    1. Shayne McAllister says:

      Well said JD. See you at your son’s wedding. ;-)

  25. Todd Wood says:

    Thanks for bringing up Billy Graham and Bob Jones Sr., Justin.

    I think that Tullian Tchividjian and Stephen Jones could have an enjoyable lunch together talking about the glories of God’s gospel.

    1. Fran says:

      Todd, if Stephen Jones and Tullian are able to enjoy talking about the glories of the gospel, it’s because Stephen has been reading and listening to someone other than his father, grandfather, or great-grandfather on the subject.

      1. michael Shafran says:


        You offer NO proof OR examples of another gospel. If what you propose is true, and it isn’t, then all the graduates would be preaching a false gospel too.

        John Piper’s own father, Dr. William Piper, was a graduate of BJU and was one of the “preacher Boys” who sat under BJ, Sr, was a BJU board member, and greatly admired Bob Jones, Sr., though they did cut ties over, yep, BIlly Graham. But Bob Jones III did reach out and reconcile near the end of Dr. Bill Piper’s life. Following your logic, It must be that Dr. John Piper, who in your eyes (and mine) preaches the true gospel, didn’t listen to his dad! Read the link below! You will find a different story.*

        And one glaring inconsistency in you stance is that, if this is all about a reformed vs. non-reformed view of the gospel, you (And Grant!) are casting stones at BJU when Billy Graham preached the very same same non-reformed gospel! Billy Graham is not reformed!!!

        My point being there are not two separate gospels being preached. I like Justin’s take at the end of his post.

        “I have the sense that younger evangelicals today are often ignorant of the modernist-fundamentalism divide in the early twentieth century, followed by the fundamentalist-evangelical divide in the mid-twentieth century.”

        On target! And many, many comments prove that very point!

        *(Info on the testimony and life of Dr. William Piper can be found at:

        1. Fran says:


          Neither Bill or John Piper are/were in good standing at Bob Jones University. Do you not understand that? John Piper can’t speak in their chapel. They will never invite Justin Taylor to speak. They will discourage students from joining the Gospel Coalition. And they will claim it is a gospel issue that separates them. They have added so many trappings to the gospel that the circle of people that they think accurately present it is terribly small.

          Start with this series of Bob Jones, III on the Faith of the Gospel. if you want to hear the difference in his understanding of the gospel.

          1. Shayne McAllister says:


            Please provide proof for your last statement.

            Fran who?

            1. Fran says:


              Here’s the proof–and it’s from the apostle Paul.

              Gal. 1 6 I am astonished that you are(L) so quickly deserting(M) him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to(N) a different gospel— 7(O) not that there is another one, but(P) there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

              Now what particular action is causing Paul to rouse himself in such a vigorous defense of the gospel?! He explains it specifically in Chapter 2.

              Gal. 2:12 For before certain men came from James,(W) he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing(X) the circumcision party.

              There is a one-to-one correlation here between Paul’s rebuke of Peter and how we should all be rebuking the entire line of Bob Jones’. You know very well that Matt Olsen was disinvited from Bob Jones after he invited Rick Holland to Northland. And as a matter of spoken policy (‘separation”), they would consider inviting Justin Taylor or John Piper or Mark Dever or Rick Holland to a public dinner on campus as COMPROMISE on a gospel issue. Their gospel doesn’t recognize the unity of the Body of Christ that Paul teaches in Ephesians 4.

              You don’t want to face that it’s another gospel. But this is EXACTLY what Paul rebukes Peter for in Galatians. EXACTLY.

              Fran Dan

              1. Gene says:


                I am curious as to how not having someone to speak over a matter is a gospel issue? One of the few nutjobs that claims MacArthur preaches a false gospel has already posted here and he has been thoroughly discredited, both by himself and others.

                I doubt very seriously that BJU thinks that Matt Olson preaches a false gospel, or believes in salvation by works. Or that they think about about anyone you have mentioned. Their disagreement is outside of the gospel issue. It is about how to apply commands of separation. I disagree with BJU on many of these matters, but I don’t see how this is another gospel. So far as I know, they do not believe that the men you list are outside the body of Christ. They believe that they are disobedient and therefore must be treated in certain ways in accord with their understanding of Scripture. (Again, I think they are wrong in some respects.)

              2. Gene/Fran:

                In his review of JMac’s TGATJ (1988) Dr. Ernest Pickering wrote,

                John MacArthur is a sincere servant of the Lord, of that we have no doubt…. We believe in his advocacy of the so-called lordship salvation he is wrong. He desperately desires to see holiness, lasting fruit, and continuing faithfulness in the lives of Christian people. This reviewer and we believe all sincere church leaders desire the same…. But the remedy for this condition is not found in changing the terms of the gospel.

                Please understand that the core of the gospel controversy is over the terms of how the lost man is born again, salvation (justification). Matters related to following Christ in discipleship (sanctification) are important, but that is not where the true crux of the LS/Gospel debate lies. Following are just a few of many examples in which JMac is teaching salvation, how he believes the lost man must come to Christ for salvation, i.e., to be born again.

                Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.”

                Let me say again unequivocally that Jesus’ summons to deny self and follow him was an invitation to salvation, not . . . a second step of faith following salvation.

                And he [rich young ruler] needed to be willing to submit to the Lord Jesus, even if it meant he had to give up all his earthly possessions. He might not ask, but the requirement for eternal life is the willingness to give it all up if he does.

                That is the kind of response the Lord Jesus called for: wholehearted commitment. A desire for him at any cost. Unconditional surrender. A full exchange of self for the Savior.

                Those are not mere overstatements.” They run like a thread through his years of teaching the “Lordship Salvation” (LS) interpretation of the Gospel. They define the core of JMac’s Lordship Salvation and how he has “changed the terms of the gospel.” If he were teaching on how the born again man should live wisely as a disciple of Christ there would be no controversy. He is, however, teaching conditions he believes a lost man must agree to, commit to be born again. In JMac’s gospel faith is front-loaded with promises of obedience in “exchange” for the free gift of eternal life. JMac’s LS issues requirements for salvation that God never issued!

                Objective students of the Bible, apart from the trappings of logic and certain presuppositions, must conclude that LS and JMac defines it a non-saving, man centered message that corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

                IMO John MacArthur is not unsaved, he simply has gone horribly wrong in his understanding of the Gospel.


              3. Gene:

                The point of my being specific on what JMac believes, preaches and defends is that men like Matt Olson are rallying to men like John MacArthur in evangelical circles and the rallying point is Lordship Salvation (LS).* Rick Holland is an advocate of LS. By putting Rick Holland in the NIU chapel pulpit NIU officially endorsed and legitimized LS. Matt Olson has lead the former Northland Baptist Bible College far from its historic Baptist, separatist roots, not to mention away from authentic biblical separatism and he is reaping the consequences of his actions. There are as you say various others issues that may have contributed to BJU uninviting Matt Olson from speaking at this years baccalaureate. IMO, embracing JMac, which was to embrace LS, was a contributing factor. While not everyone endorses all things BJU, many fundamentalists appreciate and applaud BJU’s difficult decision.


                *The new mantra from certain men (Dave Doran, Tim Jordan, Kevin Bauder,,) in fundamental circles is “Gospel-Centric” fellowship or “Gospel-Driven separation.” If my only concern, or even my main concern, is the Gospel, and virtually everything else is secondary, I have staked out great latitude in my choices in every area—both in personal and ecclesiastical separation. If, however, I make the entire Bible my “rule of faith and practice,” I find myself far more confined.

              4. Gene says:


                You are just not telling the truth. The “rallying point” is not lordship salvation. The rallying point is biblical exposition and application. These men, whether right or wrong, are seeing that fundamentalists have historically raised some barriers that Scripture does not raise while not raising some barriers Scripture does raise.

                These men see that MacArthur is a serious expositor of the Word. They see that many fundamentalists are heretics, particularly matters of soteriology (where they deny the Lord’s teaching on something like repentance) or matters of bibliology (where they deny the Bible’s teaching about itself). Those things are not lordship salvation as you have tried to define it.

                You call it “authentic biblical separation,” but you have not shown your position from Scripture. You cite Ernest Pickering but apparently fail to realize that he is not an apostle. He was wise in many respects, but quoting him authoritatively is unwise because he was a fallible man, who spoke to a generation that does not know exist. You are assuming he raised the standard rightly. But the standard is Scripture, and that is where men like Dave Doran far excel you. They actually interact with what Scripture says and how to apply it. You do not.

                I have read quite a bit at your blog. It would be better for you quit posting and spend the time studying the Word. You are too wrong on too many issues.

              5. Gene:

                First, you seem to have misread my intent for including a comment from Ernest Pickering. I was citing Dr. Pickering’s review on JMac’s The Gospel According to Jesus.

                Second, if you read what is coming from Dave Doran in particular the rallying point for alleged separatist men in fundamental circles to converge with their non-separatist counter-parts in the T4G/TGC camp IS the Gospel, specifically Calvinistic soteriology in the form of Lordship Salvation. Drs. Doran, Kevin Bauder, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan et. al., have been willing to tolerate, allow for, ignore and excuse what we/they find to aberrant theology, (Charismaticism) ecumenical compromises (Manhattan Declaration) and worldliness in methods of ministry (Resolved) for the sake of fellowship around an interpretation of the Gospel commonly known as “Lordship Salvation.”

                Third, Dr. Pickering wrote what is widely considered the classic, definitive polemic on the God-given mandates for separation. It is his book Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church. If you want to understand authentic biblical separation, and avoid unintended misrepresentations you should read this book like a study. In it you can read how he, through scores of Scriptural references, painstakingly defines God’s will for His people on the matter of separation, personal and ecclesiastical.

                Finally, it is irrefutable that men like Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder and Matt Olson have introduced and are practicing a radical paradigm shift from separation for the sake of a pure church as Dr. Pickering taught it. They have moved to the new “Gospel-Driven separation” as Doran has published on it at his blog. As I noted above this new paradigm shift on separation means if my only concern, or even my main concern, is the Gospel, and virtually everything else is secondary, I have staked out great latitude in my choices in every area—both in personal and ecclesiastical separation. If, however, I make the entire Bible my “rule of faith and practice,” I find myself far more confined.

                Doran, Bauder, Olson, Jordan have shown that they will not be confined by the whole counsel of God in their choice of fellowship and cooperative ministry efforts.

                In a recent article at my blog I noted that, “The Rev. Billy Graham justified his compromise based on the exaltation of the Gospel at the expense of obedience to “picky” things. Today, the recurring theme…[is] We are “separated unto the Gospel,” we practice “Gospel-driven separation…. Rather than the evangelistic meetings of Billy Graham the new form of latitude for converging with non-separatist evangelicals is conducted through meetings of theological/academic concerns.”

                BJU made the right and difficult decision to disinvite Matt Olson and I applaud the administration for it.

                Kind regards to you,


              6. Correction: in a previous comment I wrote,

                “Second, if you read what is coming from Dave Doran in particular the rallying point for alleged separatist men in fundamental circles…”

                The proper reading should be,

                “Second, if you read what is coming from Dave Doran in particular the rallying point for self-identified “militant” separatist men in fundamental circles…”


  26. Todd Wood says:

    And not talking about American politics.

  27. Fran says:

    Thanks to Lou for articulating the skewed gospel taught by Bob Jones, Sr., Jr. and III better than I ever could. Justin, THIS is the gospel that Bob Jones stands for, and it separates them from John MacArthur, the Gospel Coalition, John Piper, Tim Keller, and the list could go on and on.

    1. Fran:

      I think you are really missing something here.


    2. Fran/All:

      Dr. Bob Jones III in April, 2011, The Faith of the Gospel, Part 3. His text is Philippians 1:27.

      “Our behavior as citizens of Heaven is what Paul is dealing with here. Our personal behavior, our worship behavior, everything pertaining to the redeemed Christian life is at stake here in what Paul is saying. Let your behavior as citizens of the kingdom of Heaven be as it becomes the Gospel of Christ, the saving message of Christ. Are you washed in the blood of Christ, His death, His resurrection? The Gospel of Jesus Christ. First Corinthians 15:1-3, the nutshell of the Gospel, the saving Gospel. There is a difference between the saving Gospel, which starts it all and without which there is no faith in the Gospel. We love the saving message of the Gospel. It’s to be on our lips at all time and in all places wherever we go. But Paul is dealing here [Phil. 1:27] with the governing gospel. That which governs us, as members of the household of faith, citizens of Heaven, AFTER we have received and believed into the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

      To reiterate from earlier, the crux of the LS controversy is not over post-conversion issues, sanctification, discipleship and following Christ. There is very little disagreement over what should be the results of a genuine conversion. The controversy is over the requirements for how to be born again, justification. Is a man born again by faith, believing in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-3) what he did to provide salvation or by faith, plus commitment of life to perform the “good works” expected of a born again disciple of Christ to become a born again Christian, which is the demand of Lordship Salvation?

      In those opening remarks from Dr. Jones you have all you need to know that the saving message that Dr. Bob Jones III preaches and the Lordship Salvation message of Dr. John MacArthur are not one and the same.


  28. Ron Henzel says:

    One great source of anecdotal information for me when I was working toward my M.A. at Wheaton was Dr. Robert Webber, who had attended BJU as the split between Jones Sr. and Graham was taking place. He shared some vivid memories in class of Graham’s last-ditch effort to try to patch things up by making a pilgrimage to the college. Unfortunately, I don’t think Dr. Webber committed those recollections to writing before he passed away.

  29. Tommy says:

    Florida Bible Institue that you mention is now Trinity College of Florida

  30. Pingback: Antagoniz

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Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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