Erskine College trustees bend the knee...

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A couple days ago Google News had a headline about a "small Christian college in South Carolina" coming under fire for a statement its trustees issued concerning sexuality. The headline and story, though, weren't about the original statement, but a second statement the college issued responding to the backlash their first statement produced.

Curious which "small Christian college in South Carolina" they were talking about, I read the story and found it was Erskine College. You remember Erskine? For several years, recently, there was a nasty fight for the soul of the college led partly by my friend, Dick DeWitt. Dick had served for a time as the senior pastor of the historic and rich First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, South Carolina, and First Pres. being a member-church of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and Erskine being the ARP's denominational college meant the work of Dick DeWitt and friends toward the college's reform could not easily be dismissed.

My curiosity piqued, I read Erskine's second statement. Keep in mind this second statement was Erskine's attempt at placating all the foes of its first statement, which in fact was quite short and mostly composed of Scripture references. Here is the part of that first statement the pagans found...

so hateful:

Erskine College & Theological Seminary Statement on Human Sexuality
Adopted by the Erskine College Board of Trustees, Feb. 20, 2015

We believe the Bible teaches that monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is God’s intended design for humanity and that sexual intimacy has its proper place only within the context of marriage.

Note that phrase at the very beginning, "we believe." Wouldn't this tip of the hat to relativism be sufficient to cause the homosexualists to lay off? They had every opportunity to take it in stride as the innocuous personal affirmation it was. They might well have responded to it saying something like this: "They believe, I believe, and each to his or her own." But oh no, them's fighting words! How dare any institution of higher learning declare their own personal religious beliefs in an academic environment where a gay volleyball player, for instance, might be less comfortable than he was prior to the statement! And beyond gay volleyball players, what of other members of the small community who are timid and remain closeted because of this statement and thus are sentenced to hiding their real selves from their fellow students?

So all Hell broke loose against Erskine's trustees' first statement, sending the trustees back to the drawing board. But this time they were in emergency mode and their goal was damage control. There had been enough conflict during the years of reform; they couldn't afford more. So their next statement gave away the crown jewels:

Context for Erskine’s Statement on Human Sexuality

Posted on February 27, 2015

The recent coverage of Erskine’s Statement on Human Sexuality has generated considerable confusion based on an inaccurate understanding of the nature of the statement and its intent.

This statement describes a position. It does not prescribe a policy and does not ‘ban’ any individual or class of individuals from attending Erskine. No students have been asked to leave Erskine based on this statement.

The statement was not developed or published in response to any individual students, groups of students, or previous media coverage. Conversations regarding a statement on this topic were ongoing for several years prior to its development and approval by the board of trustees.

Furthermore, with respect to all applicable anti-discrimination laws and regulations, Erskine does not discriminate against any protected categories of individuals in the administration of its policies, programs, or activities.

As stated: “Rooted in the historic Evangelical and Reformed Christian tradition, Erskine has always sought to show hospitality and respect to all members of its community, regardless of their religious or philosophical commitments.”

The intent of this statement is not to reverse or undermine this familial aspect of Erskine’s community. Erskine has been and is a distinctly Christian academic community where all types of students are welcome.

Our conduct policies do not stipulate any minimum mandatory sanctions (such as expulsion) for any behavior or belief. Like most colleges, we base our student conduct policies on educational and restorative principles that seek the ultimate well-being of both individual students and the campus community as a whole.

A position establishes a point of reference. People both within and outside the Erskine community will no doubt agree or disagree with a position on any issue. This position statement provides a context for dialogue about these issues and how they affect our campus community.

This dialogue can and should be pursued with civility and respect...

Do I need to take time pointing out this statement's utter failure to honor our Lord Jesus Christ and His Word, let alone to post any guard around the souls of the students placed under the care and safekeeping of Erskine's trustees, administration, and faculty? If a college is Christian, how can it promise not to discipline self-affirming practicing sodomites who are students under their authority? Are Erskine's trustees also going to promise not to discipline self-affirming practicing adulterers? Fornicators? Liars? Cheats? Aborters of their babies? And what about those whose idolatry of choice is bestiality or pederasty or incest—are they next in line to benefit from the relativism of "we believe?"

Do the tin men on Erskine's Board of Trustees allow people to copulate publicly in the lobbies of their dorms so long as their copulation occurs under the minimum lighting requirement of 750 lumens and within view of a wall plaque testifying thusly:

We believe the Bible teaches that monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is God’s intended design for humanity and that sexual intimacy has its proper place only within the context of marriage. - Erskine College Board of Trustees

Take, for instance, the Trustees' short statement: 

...we base our student conduct policies on educational and restorative principles that seek the ultimate well-being of both individual students and the campus community as a whole.

No, that is certainly not what the Erskine trustees are basing their student conduct policies on—the ultimate well-being of individual students or the campus community. Sodomy kills body and soul. Fornication kills body and soul. Adultery kills both body and soul.

But given that sodomy is the wickedness of choice today and the center of all these battles, note that it is this detestable sin God calls an abomination and the Apostle Paul lists as a highpoint of moral perversion and idolatry. Yet Erskine's Christian, Protestant, and Presbyterian trustees assure the students under their care that this great wickedness may continue to be affirmed and practiced by Erskine students. Do we assume the murder of abortion enjoys the same liberty to enslave and kill on Erskine's campus? And how about cheating—does it enjoy this liberty? Have the trustees of relegated it to the realm of very private and deeply personal choices, also? Or are penalties for this sin against the academy privileged because... "Well... Ahem... You see, we can't have cheating because it strikes at the core of Erskine's purpose." Yes, of course.

And sodomy doesn't strike at the core of Erskine's purpose?

Brothers and sisters, the abdication of authority we see all around us today is so very awful. The homosexualists and their sentimental "Christian" supporters are not nearly as wicked at those in fiduciary positions who connive at this idolatry, refusing to love those God Himself has called them to warn and rebuke and encourage and discipline according to the Word of God with an eye to the Coming Judgement.

But riddled as the trustees' statement is by fear and insecurity, even louder than their cowardice is their greed. No matter how many words they wrote, there were only three that left ink on their page: "Money, money, money!"

And all God's people responded, "Money!"

Anyhow who knows how far and deep the controlling hand of the federal government extends into all institutions of higher learning today sees the naked fear of the loss of federal money that is the controlling force behind the wording of both statements by Erskine's trustees. They live in fear of litigation and the loss of money, not the fear of God and the loss of the souls they are required to guard and protect.

If this is the result of the victory of the reformers of Erskine College several years ago, the battle was for nothing.

I invited the late Hudson Armerding to come visit and preach at our church in Bloomington a number of years ago, shortly after his retirement from the presidency of Wheaton College. After greeting the congregation following worship, he expressed concern that he might have made trouble for me by his response to a question he'd been asked in the doorway of the church by a young woman of the congregation. He said, "Tim, a young woman introduced herself to me in the doorway of the church and she told me she was getting her doctorate in higher educational administration and wondered if I had any pointers on how to prepare herself for the presidency of a Christian college? I told her I considered the presidency of a Christian college to be a pastoral calling, and I didn't think it proper for a woman to hold the position."

Of course he'd made trouble for me. I knew the woman well. She would have been quite offended and I guessed Dr. Armerding's response would shoot through the congregation within twenty-four hours, finding the ear of every feminist and further embittering them. And yet, my gratitude to God for Dr Armerding's response couldn't have been greater!

Is this not the calling of the Christian college trustee and administrator? Is he not serving his students pastorally? Is he not shepherding their souls? Will he not give an account to God for his stewardship of that responsibility?

May God give the trustees of Erskine the grace to repent of their betrayal of their students.

* * *

One final addition: after posting the above, just now I read that a few months ago the Rev. Dr. Paul Kooistra was confirmed as Erskine College's new president. For years Kooistra has been the head of the Presbyterian Church in America's mission agency, Mission to the World, and prior to that appointment Kooistra was president of the PCA's Covenant Theological Seminary. The trustees' statement makes perfect sense in light of Dr. Kooistra's appointment and the fruit evident to those watching during his past leadership of Mission to the World in the area of God's Creation Order of Sexuality. Still, it ought to be noted that all speak well of Dr. Kooistra.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!