Bob Jones University's Official Response to the Chuck Phelps Controversy
In a statement released today Bob Jones University has responded [Note: BJU seems to have removed the page. Please see the attached screenshot below] to the criticism of Chuck Phelps being allowed back on the board. Lets jump right in shall we.
Bible-believing Christians frequently face the question of how to respond biblically to criticism when it comes at them or when it is directed toward a Christian brother. At Bob Jones University, we believe that Scripture teaches we are to receive criticism in a spirit of humility. We try to listen and determine if there is something we need to change
That is interesting. We actually hoped and expected that you would respond to us with humility, but instead we got letters of scorn back from you. Like this particular email:
My husband received your email about your concern of the accusations against Chuck Phelps . My question to you is: 1. When was the last time you sat at the hospital with someone who had surgery or is dying with cancer? 2.When was the last time you cooked a meal for an elderly person in your church or who was just home from having surgery or having a baby? 3.How often do you go to a nursing home to minister to the needy? 4.Have you ever devoted time at your local mission or soup kitchen? 5.Do you teach Sunday School, a Bible class or other volunteer position at your church? I could keep adding to this list, but I think you see my point. If you keep busy serving the Lord with eternity in mind you will not have time to sit on the computer and spread idle gossip. Also you might spend some time praying for Dr. Phelps. I am sure he must be discouraged from "your concerns" and concerns from your friends. Please remove us from your emails. Martha Clarke
This is far from a humble response and clearly isn't listening to anything that 'Mary' had to say.
In the last few weeks, an environment has been created on the internet in which BJU is being criticized by some people unhappy with the University for having Dr. Chuck Phelps on our Cooperating Board of Trustees.
First of all nothing is being created. Those are code words for BJU so they can deflect what is happening here. Controversies aren't just 'created.' We aren't 'creating' anything. Since the Tina Anderson case broke and especially after the trial there has been a continual hum of dissatisfaction with the way Chuck Phelps himself handled that case. We didn't make anything up, we aren't creating the controversy. *He*, Chuck Phelps, created the controversy when he mishandled the case all those years ago. Controversies are nothing on their own. A person with a blog can write anything, but it won't go anywhere unless there is something substantial there. In this case it is beyond obvious that there is something substantial to this case.
Bloggers have posted a wealth of information about this incident and how Dr. Phelps handled it. Dr. Phelps has been accused of not reporting the crime to officials, sending the girl out of state to hide the situation, harboring a criminal and protecting a sexual predator. We believe that the biblical way to approach this information is to get all the facts before judging Dr. Phelps or his actions, including going directly to him for answers to questions.
This one is an oldie, but a goodie. When the case first broke this was all people could say. "just wait for the facts, don't rush to judgment, wait until *all the facts are out.*" We waited and then a trial happened and *all the facts* came out. What we learned from those facts is that whatever happened Chuck Phelps is not blameless in this situation. He may have met his legal obligation, but he fell utterly flat on his moral obligation to his church, to his community, and especially to Tina Anderson. We got the facts and they just don't add up.
The second goodie that came out there is, "you should have talked to Phelps." This is a complete and total deflection. First Chuck Phelps never gave me his phone number. Until recently I had no way of contacting him, but secondly there is no obligation on my part to contact Phelps with this situation. If "Dr" Bob Jones III is allowed to pass judgment on Obama's Salvation without talking directly to him, than I'm allowed to pass judgment on this situation. The verses they use to try to prove this point are taken completely out of context and simply do not apply in this particular situation. They are basically trying to pigeonhole you with pseudo-bible speak so that you'll hopefully shut up and go away.
While the University maintained regular contact with Dr. Phelps since the matter came to light, we have recently spent time on Dr. Phelps’ website—drchuckphelps.com—and reading what the bloggers are saying. To verify facts and get our questions answered we called him and he answered our questions.
Funny, they don't mention contacting Tina Anderson, and they link directly to Chuck Phelps site, but no one elses, I wonder why? I guess getting "all sides" of the story really means getting Chuck Phelp's side.
After speaking with him and weighing the criticisms against the facts, we have concluded that some of what is posted on the internet about this incident is true, but the majority is a little bit of truth mixed with a lot of opinion and speculation.
You do realize that the reason this controversy is so big is because of the "true" facts that you are admitting to right here and right now? Maybe our conclusions are different from yours, but we have always said, and maintain, that it is the "facts", the "truth", that makes this situation so horrible. And here you are saying that they are true. So why is he staying on your board? Why are you defending him so vigorously? We are weighing those true facts, the ones you just admitted to, and it is these very truths that we take issue with.
Did Dr. Phelps do everything perfectly? No—nor would anyone make perfect judgments in similar circumstances.
Right, but Phelps has produced no apology for what he did wrong. A tacit acknowledgement that you did wrong is a far cry from a formal apology. Of course he didn't do everything perfectly, and of course he'd admit that. Again there would be no controversy if he had done things right. Hence our problem. He didn't do everything perfectly, and the "truths" of this case show us just how imperfectly he handled this. That is our problem, that is our issue.
Bloggers have been quick to judge and condemn Dr. Phelps. But a biblical approach would be an attitude of forbearance toward a Christian brother—not recklessly making accusations of crime or cover up against a man of good reputation before gathering the facts.
Wow, you realize this issue has been going on for well over a year. I can't remember when I first heard it. The case itself is over a decade old and the court case has been over for months. I hardly think this is a quick or rash decision. But it seems with this response any decision that Bob Jones University hasn't made is therefore a rash and quick decision. Either you line up and agree with them or obviously you are making a quick and rash decision to condemn a person before you got the facts. This is simply not the case. We have the facts, we waited a long time for those facts, and we weighed all the facts to come to our conclusion. Apparently that just isn't possible in BJU's small mind.
The biblical principle is to go to the person directly and get facts before reaching a judgment. Dr. Phelps has offered to talk to several of his critics and even shared his phone number, but not one has called to talk with him directly.
Notice they didn't quote scripture, that is because there isn't any. As I said before this is a total deflection. There is no principal that requires that we talk to Chuck Phelps directly. Simply put it is not scriptural. Second, This is not about Chuck Phelps anymore, it is about Bob Jones University. We had our day with Chuck Phelps. We wrote about him ages ago. We analyzed this situation as much as humanly possible. The current controversy isn't about him, it is about YOU Bob Jones University.
The internet posts criticizing Dr. Phelps are a great reminder of the consequences of the negative use of social media—how it can be used to tear down a person’s reputation with little verification of fact.
Wait, didn't you verify the facts for us? You said that there is "truth" in what we say. We aren't tearing down a person's reputation, Chuck Phelps did that. He is the one that mishandled the situation, buy his and your admission. We take issue with that, that mishandling is the controversy.
The BJU Board of Trustees and the Cooperating Board are comprised of godly men and women who exhibit wisdom and humility in their positions. If Dr. Phelps or any other Board member covered up a crime such as this, he or she would not be retained on the Board.
This is a fine example of circular logic.
Chuck Phelps is on the board
In order to be on the board you must be above reproach
Therefore Chuck Phelps is above reproach.
Yeah, but what if he isn't? What if the very facts of this case show us that he isn't above reproach? What if the facts lead us to believe that he has violated the very ethic you purport in order to be on the board? This is the controversy.
In conclusion, we cannot overlook the human side in all of this.
- A teenage girl was raped—this is a tragedy.
- A rapist is in jail—this is justice.
- A faithful pastor is being pummeled in social media and his family maligned—this is unjust.
- Our God is being grieved.
It is sad, but in order for BJU to come out looking good they have to make this about Phelps. "Phelps is the martyr." "This poor man is innocently being judged for what he did so long ago." Phelps is not the victim here. Phelps church disciplined a little girl for being raped. Phelps kicked this girl out of his school for being pregnant. Phelps sent her out of state, in shame, to birth the baby. Phelps actively shunned her when she got back. All the while Phelps overlooked that a known rapist was sitting freely in his own congregation. Phelps is not the victim. What he did was unjust and that is what our problem is.
Bob Jones University has doubled down on their man. In spite of a petition to remove him reaching almost 1000 signatures and a FB group nearing 500 Bob Jones is going to back Chuck Phelps and make him the innocent victim. And they are just hoping that you'll go along without asking too many questions.