Let’s Progress Back to the Way It Used to Be – Thoughts on Bob Jones University and the Resignation of Its President

Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina has been a bastion of fundamentalism for nearly a century. The school has been known not only for its biblical stance, but also for its stance on preferential issues such as its ban on interracial dating that was lifted in 2000. Many people I know who attend Bob Jones have applauded the leadership of its now outgoing president, Dr. Steve Pettit. Under Dr. Pettit’s leadership, the school has become accredited and achieved more of a biblical balance. Unfortunately, there is much opposition.

Dr. Pettit has now announced his resignation amidst dirty dealings related to Dr. John Lewis, Chairman of the Board. News articles report that John Lewis has been holding secret meetings at the home of Dr. Bob Jones III, former President of the school. One of the points of opposition against Dr. Pettit is in relation to the more relaxed dress code. As I read the comments on the petition to remove John Lewis from the board, I read comments from alumni who were grateful that the legalistic standards of the past had been shed. One high school senior was looking forward to starting at Bob Jones in the Fall but is changing her mind after this fiasco.

I hope I am wrong, but I see this heading the same direction as Tennessee Temple University, a fundamentalist school that is now closed. Many churches and other institutions decline or even die when “the old guard” wants to “progress back to the way things used to be.”

You may be reading this and thinking, “I’m not a big fan of this school.” I’m not asking you to be a fan of the school. I am asking that you join me in praying for it. My heart is always broken when I see Christian institutions brought down by power-hungry people who do things for the best of the institution in lip service while attempting to mask self-interest. I pray that those in the wrong will be stopped and those in the right will rise above this.

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