Kowtow, Compromise, or Clarity?

notlisteningFor those ladies associated with Bob Jones University, but not “in the know,” Stephen Jones  issued this statement via email last night:

Dear BJU alumni and friends,

In 2008 BJU Press published The Christian and Drinking: A Biblical Perspective on Moderation and Abstinence by Dr. Randy Jaeggli, professor of Old Testament at Bob Jones University Seminary. The book is part of a series of short monographs published by the Seminary to help Bible-believing Christians apply biblical principles and discernment to difficult issues. Taking an inductive approach, Dr. Jaeggli presents Scriptural, medical and cultural evidence that brings the reader to the conclusion that a Christian should totally abstain from the beverage use of alcohol.

A Problem

The sensitivity and complexity of the topic of the book, combined with the brevity (72 pp.) and inductive arrangement of it, have caused confusion for some readers. They have concluded from some select portions of the text that Dr. Jaeggli condones a Christian’s moderate use of alcohol, which is the opposite of what the book actually teaches. Articles have been written questioning Dr. Jaeggli’s research and Scriptural interpretations, Bob Jones University’s position on the use of alcohol has been questioned, and some of you—our alumni and friends—have asked for clarification.

Our Position

Let me assure you that the University’s position on alcohol has not changed throughout our history; BJU does not believe the Scripture condones the beverage use of alcohol to any degree by Bible-believing Christians. Please read our complete statement on alcohol use on our website: http://www.bju.edu/welcome/who-we-are/position-alcohol.php. All of the administration and Bible and Seminary faculty, including Dr. Jaeggli, fully support complete abstinence from alcohol and teach and preach this position.

The Solution

While our position is clear and we stand by Dr. Jaeggli’s conclusion that Christians should completely abstain from alcohol, we do not want the University to be in a position of causing confusion or misunderstanding among our Christian brethren. Therefore, we are temporarily pulling the book from distribution. Our plan is to rewrite and edit those portions of the text that have been misunderstood and reissue the book. Please understand that the revised edition, while clarifying earlier in the book that the evidence leads a Scripturally-sensitive believer to an abstinence position, will continue to approach this issue in a way that differs from some approaches of the past, which have become less tenable over time.

As alumni and friends you are a key part of the university family, and my purpose in writing this e-mail is to show you the University’s heart in this matter and to clarify our position.

Stephen Jones

President

I commend this move.  After all, you don’t know how something will be received until it is, well, received.  I think this was neither a kowtow to those who may have been disgruntled, nor a compromise–I perceive it to be an effort to provide a gracious clarification so that there may not be confusion but edification all-around regarding this hot-button issue. This is wisdom and humility rather than weakness, as some have perceived it.

I have gained some perspective on this issue from my pastor, my husband, and other godly men who have studied this out.  No doubt, the revision will not please everyone.  I daresay, those whose feathers were ruffled initially will continue to have messy feathers. They will continue to dogmatically make their claims, unwilling to listen or consider (if you’d like to order the pin in the image for one such individual, go here.) :D.  I doubt the revision will use the word “sin” enough to satisfy them, nor will it provide enough of a green light for those who are hoping for the new edition to tout moderation, as some have already erroneously claimed (apparently they are not listening, either…better buy a bunch of pins) :).

Dr. Jaeggli is known to be a man of scholarship and humility, fair and honest with the scriptures.  He states in the book intro:

As we shall see, a cavalier attitude toward even moderate consumption of alcohol is not warranted by Scripture.

This is supported by his message, given in BJU chapel, entitled, “The Wisdom of Abstaining from Alcohol.”  Click here to listen.

“Just the facts, ma’am.” 😉

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8 thoughts on “Kowtow, Compromise, or Clarity?

  1. Hi Diane, Yes we received this email as well yesterday and just after hearing from a member the kerfuffle it was causing the night before in Wednesday evening Bible Study. We were shocked! We love Dr. Jaegli! My husband went through seminary and had several classes with him and he’s also been a special speaker at our church. We haven’t read the book, (I’m sure we will now!! 🙂 and we’ll be at BJ in 3 weeks taking sonny #3) but I’m just wondering was there such confusion that they have to pull it and change it now? Or was this yet another twist from people who are in a constant disgruntle with the University itself? I have neo-evangelical family members who I am pretty sure think moderate consumption of alcohol is OK–(sigh) and I’m just saying . . . I’d hate to see BJU even hinting toward a neo-evangelical stance. Our thought has always been, eat the fish–leave the bones. And we know there will be no place this side of heaven that we’ll be 100 percent in agreement with.

    PS–I changed from blogger to WP so this is aka “The Par Family.” Just a little different sign-in 😉 I hope you have a great day! Maybe it was through Claudia Barba I found your site . . . I’m still trying to figure out how I came across it (half-heimers–lol)

  2. Sorry, after reading what I wrote I know it sounds like I didn’t read Dr. Jones’ response correctly or that I’m sort of still questioning the response . . . I’m not . . . I’m just wondering what was it that made it so confusing? And oh, I guess we won’t be able to read it when we get there unless it’s back on the shelves. 😉

  3. Hello there again. 🙂 For the finer details of these issues (both pro and con), I’ll direct you to a couple discussions at the Sharper Iron blog. This first one is a thread concerning what the Bible says about the use of alcohol, which was merged with another thread about Dr. Jaeggli’s book. Click here and pick it up at about post #30. Then, click here for a thread specifically devoted to discussing BJ’s pulling of the book. Happy wading. 😉

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