Elsewhere in this issue of Watchman, you will find a response from Bill Reeves to the Chairman of the Department of Biblical Studies at Florida College on the latest controversy surrounding that institution and the tolerance position it has taken on the teaching of false doctrine in that Department. I commend brother Reeves for his stand for truth. In an earlier letter to the President, brother Reeves had this to say, All eight of my children graduated from FC (and now, two of my grandchildren). If I had a ninth child, as matters stand today, as I write, I would not be of a mind to send him to FC, for the simple reason that the policy and attraction of FC for the first eight would not be there for the ninth!
What is a father to do?
My daughter is scheduled to enroll this month for her second year at Florida College. She is an honor roll student attending FC on an academic scholarship, which covers some but certainly not nearly all of her costs. I have wrestled long and hard for the past several months over whether or not I could in all good conscience send her back to Florida College knowing what I know about the current controversy and the Administrations failure to deal with the problem at hand. My real tendency is to do as brother Reeves suggested and not send her there. Were it not for her Christian maturity and full awareness of the situation extant, there would be no question about her plans to return. She would not go.
This current situation is the latest in a trend of disturbing incidents which causes a parent serious misgivings about an institution that has stood for years as a beacon in the dark world of humanistic academia. Ever since my children were able to understand anything about education, they had heard from their mother (Jeanne [Wright] FC Class of 1972) about this great place in Florida where so much good abounded. From the time they saw their first Chorus performance or visit from Friends they both wanted to attend Florida College. Before Jeanne and I were married, we had attended together the Willis-Jenkins Debate in Pasadena, Texas and heard brother Willis biblically defend the schools right to exist and teach the Bible as an adjunct to the home and not a supplanter of the work of the church. As a young preacher and as young parents, we saw to it that every time a group from the College came to our area, our children were exposed to the Public Relations effort exercised by the students and staff seeking to influence young people to attend Florida College. We housed those students who extended themselves to entertain us and even to befriend my children if only for a day. It was great experience. We believed the propaganda the faculty and staff who accompanied those students preached about individual attention, academic excellence and Christian instruction. We believed there was no place like FC and no place our limited funds could be better spent for the education of our children than at that little campus in Temple Terrace, Florida which held so many fond memories for my wife.
So much can happen in such a seemingly short time. I do not know why the shift in emphasis took place. All I know is that it did. The shift went from caring for the student to caring about the money to keep the institution alive. Brother Cope retired. Bob Owen presided over the College for a short time only to be replaced by the current administration. I mentioned money. I know that it is a serious charge to say that people compromise for moneys sake. FC is not unique in this area. How many times have preachers refused to preach on something for fear of their job? I know a man in my own personal acquaintance who was asked on several occasions by his elders to preach on giving. He refused. Those elders took that refusal as a desire by the preacher to maintain his popularity with the people rather than to upset his relationship by preaching on such a personal sin. His ultimate dismissal by the elders was a very unpopular move which continues many years later to have a detrimental effect on that church which is now split asunder into two groups. Who can tell how much of the controversy over fellowship and Romans 14 can be traced back to a desire to be popular with the people living in sin but who finance Gospel Meetings and support the same with men who are more adept at telling stories than warning sinners of the dangers of sin and compromise? How may times have I heard people say that this or that false teacher on Marriage Divorce and Remarriage has an adulterous relationship in his family he is seeking to justify or that a wealthy member of the local church has such he wants justified? I fully realize how harsh this sounds, but brethren, am I that far astray in what I am presenting? My contention is that the need for financial sustenance has a part in the pattern of compromise that exists currently at Florida College. Quoting brother Reeves again from his letter to President Caldwell, My good brother, you can keep what is now a rent from becoming a rupture without remedy, as respects the support of many and the future usefulness of FC. You know that human wisdom tests the winds (they call it marketing techniques today) and that politicians take polls before taking courses of action. We all must guard against letting such tactics enter our minds. You may determine just who (and their financesobviously it takes money to run an institution) will likely back your present course of evasion of the issue set forth in the Open Letter, and just who (and their finances) are in opposition to such a course, and act on that. I trust that you will resist any temptation to do so. Such a course would put FC very shortly into the same category as DLU and ACU, etc. Or, you may stick strictly to "What saith the Scriptures?" (Romans 4:3), ignore completely numbers and the power of money, and keep FC on the course it has been running since its inception. I am not alone in my fear that the financial constraints on such a vast institution as Florida College has become more of a driving motivator than most are willing to admit. Brethren, we must avoid compromise with truth at all costs. 1 Corinthians 4:6, Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.
With all of that said, again I pose the question, What is a father to do?
Let there be no confusion. I signed the Open Letter and would again today. I am opposed to Shane Scotts teaching and am also opposed to his remaining on the faculty of Florida College unless he repents (Luke 13:3,5). I am opposed to Hill Roberts teaching and that of the Lord I Believe Seminar, which said opposition I have previously espoused in the electronic pages of this communiqué (Hebrews 11:3). I am opposed to the position of tolerance furthered by President Caldwell and Chairman Jenkins (Revelation 22:18-19). Each parent must make up his or her own mind in regard to their own childs maturity in their ability to reject the fiery darts of compromise and plain false teaching as is being allowed now in the Bible class rooms at Florida College. My choice, after much prayer and consideration is to allow my daughter to continue her education there, provisionally. The College has many good things to offer which have been overshadowed by this controversy. However, the provision is that there be some movement by this administration to the plain truth of Gods Word and the implementation of the Presidents written policy concerning no tolerance on the six day creation, which is currently being violated by brethren Scott and Jenkins.
It is a sad day when men who have stood for truth for so long have to be chastised about something so simple as Genesis 1. Who has not been blessed by the abundant writings of Ferrell Jenkins? Colly Caldwell preached a sermon I heard in Pasadena, Texas over fifteen years ago on the work and nature of the church that I considered then and now a masterpiece. I would love to hear him preach it again. I hope and pray that he stands for the same truth he did then. There was NO compromise in that sermon. Shane Scott is loved by his students. I have spoken to some of them personally. They see him as a friend and respect him as a teacher. Lanier Stevens, the late brother of R. J. Stevens, wrote a song, Why Cant We See? (No. 471 Hymns For Worship Revised) This lifes too short and filled with pain to waste our time for earthly gain. It has to be much sweeter there. Why cant we see? Lord, hear our prayer. Why cant we see? Why do we sin? We must not let the tempter in. Jesus, make our hearts thy throne, so we can see were not alone. We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ... (2 Corinthians 5:10). The words Jesus spoke will judge us in the last day (John 12:48). If any man speaks, let him speak as it were the oracles of God... (1 Peter 4:11). Preach the word... (2 Timothy 4:2).