Sharper Iron isn’t exactly known as a bastion of clear thinking when it comes to topics of abuse and fundamentalism. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clearer representation of their priorities than in this response to the GRACE report at BJU written by BJU grad C. D. Cauthorne Jr.
Allow me to do some on-the-spot translation of his ending analysis.
Certainly, the Report contains helpful information. Sexual abuse victims to whom we minster need to understand that God does not judge involuntary sexual activity. Also, we should always follow mandatory reporting laws where we live when we first hear of probable sexual abuse.
Theoretically, we should be concerned about sexual abuse. We just have to have the allegations rise to the level of “probable” before we do anything about it and that’s just never going to happen. You think you were raped? I find that improbable.
Fundy Rule 34. When a pastor gets caught doing wrong his job is to deny, deny, deny. Your job is to back him up to the bitter end.
However, the Report mainly provides a wonderful opportunity for BJU to defend its Bible-based, Christ-centered counseling techniques. Far from going on the defensive, BJU ought to boldly reply to the criticisms leveled against it. The GRACE Report is the opinion of fallible people based upon the input of mostly dissatisfied acquaintances of BJU. The Report is in no way above criticism.
The people who are complaining are a bunch of liberal malcontents and therefore we should not have to listen to them.
Fundy Rule 73. The only people allowed to criticize us are us. And we think we’re just fine.
BJU presents a greater hope for victims than that offered by GRACE. It disagrees with the Report’s assertion that “sexual abuse is a devastating crime that impacts the personal and spiritual lives forevermore” (219, emphasis added).
If you would all just get with the program and stop whining then your troubles would disappear. The fact that you’ve already tried this and failed is evidence that you are just a bad person.
Fundy Rule 70: When you pick on our guy for something stupid he did, it’s judgement. When we pick on your guy for something stupid he did, it’s discernment.
BJU should not change its current dress code, disciplinary system, spiritual accountability system, or emphasis on excellence. Without these key elements, BJU will lose its niche within evangelicalism and will follow the devastating examples of other fundamentalist institutions that have declined precipitously after lowering their standards.
Keep on keeping on, amen. Because if we change it means we’ll have to compete with the larger realm of evangelicalism and Lord knows that we can’t afford that. If we quit being fundamentalists then our school will have no reason to keep on existing — and that terrifies us.
Fundy Rule 3. The less certain something is, the more certain you must appear to be about it.
Do we really believe that “[God’s] divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3)? Do we really believe “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:28- 29)?
I’ll put some proof texts here so that this whole screed looks “bibical.”
Fundy Rule 2: Unity Means Agreeing With Me That My Pastor Is Right.
Eternal truths are at stake in this debate, and I pray that BJU will not retreat on the biblical counseling principles that many of its alumni continue to embrace. Those principles radically transformed my life, and I pray they will continue to impact others as well.
I’m a pastor. My entire existence consists of believing that what I was taught at BJU is right. If that goes away then my whole world stops making sense.
Fundy Rule 1: I am right and you are wrong. Always.
“You have become the thing you hate” read the message in my inbox and I hung my head and sighed that it was true. I have become again a fundy.
Oh, it was a slow and subtle change to be sure but all the signs are there if you only know how to read them. My dictatorial airs, my refusal to listen to any opinion but my own or see another’s point of view, my insistence that all of you dress and act and believe the exact same way that I do. I’m back to fundy.
I was aghast when I realized that my home has become filled with only books by Christian authors and that I had burned my copy of The Phantom of the Opera along with all my Obama/Biden posters. I was dismayed to find myself judging all the others who don’t wake up early in the morning to curate their blogs the way I do. At least three posts a week to thrive, my friends! Alas, I’m fundy.
And then the most unkindest cut of all was realizing that unawares I’d started a Bible college in my basement. There huddled around the furnace were six young men all dressed in suits and ties and waiting patiently for me to teach them the ways of the world and make them versions of myself. Worse yet, stacked around the sump pump I sadly discovered a library of books all with my name printed out on the outside and signed by me on the inside. What a blow to unexpectedly find my fundy.
I went straight away to my wife to ask if these things were so. Am I fallen so far? She smiled meek and gentle and would not dare to speak lest she accidentally usurp authority over me. Me the fundy.
Fundy is as fundy does
Fundy is and fundy was
So I’ll leave it up to you
Set me straight and help me through
And I’ll gladly judge you too
Are we fundies?
Having trouble coming up with a New Year’s Resolution? Not to worry! Clarence Sexton has 40 of them for you to follow including everything from watching less TV to learning a foreign language.
Sure, Clarence. I’ll run right out and get started.
I don’t write funny stuff very much anymore. You may have noticed.
Part of this lack of humor is due to time and distance that have removed me from the halls of fundamentalism and worn smooth the hard places needed for creating cutting satire. These days I curate more than I create and that’s ok. I couldn’t possibly write parody that is crazier than the real life examples we see all around us.
There is another reason, however. It’s rather hard to write humor when you’ve been battling depression for years. And I have been in that fight for longer than I’ve been willing to admit for reasons that are many and deeply personal. I’ll tell you all about it the next time you buy me a cup of coffee or a glass of brew.
There are still flashes. There are moments when the old fire burns bright and the words flow. Those are the good days and they’re often few and far between.
I’m not fine.
But here’s the beautiful thing about not being fine — it puts you in some of the best company in the world. I’ve called and e-mailed and texted and PM’d dozens of people over the last few years who aren’t fine either. They’re people with lost identities. They’re families with financial issues and relationships that seem beyond repair. They have old cars that won’t always start and old anxieties that always seem to. They lose sleep. They lose their jobs. They lose their tempers. Sometimes they’ve all but lost hope.
I’ve learned a lesson in those conversations. Somewhere along in the darkness I found this thought and wrote it in lines:
Beyond the years of pain and bliss
The “Why?” of life is only this:
To love someone and be loved too.
The Why of life is me. It’s you.
Maybe you’re one of the fellowship of unfine souls. Maybe in the words of song you don’t have dream that remains unshattered or a friend who feels at ease. If that’s you then you’re in the right place.
Six years later this is what SFL is to me — it’s where nobody has to be fine. Whether ex-fundy, never-fundy, sort-of-fundy, or just plain confused you can feel free to set down the mask and gently fall to pieces.
Welcome. Grab a plate and find a seat. You’re home.
Here there is love. Let it always be so.