As Music Controversy Engulfs Northland, BJU Deploys Mazak To Clarify its Stance

Update: BJU has now posted Mazak’s sermon, “Worship: Casual or Reverent?” here.

Northland International University, a long-time “sister institution” of BJU, is making some waves this year by openly condoning a cardinal sin of fundamentalism: Christian rock. While we won’t detail every change and decision that’s led them to this point, suffice to say NIU is endorsing a praise and worship band, Redeemed, via its website. It’s creating quite a stir among BJU-affiliated folks (who are often Northland-affiliated as well). While even a quick scan of the Twitter or Facebook pages of BJU students would tell you that they’re not strangers to Hillsong, Chris Tomlin and the like, BJU itself is still very much entrenched in “the worship wars” and thus can’t be seen as agreeing with what Northland considers “appropriate change” in this area.


BJU grad and worship wars crusader Scott Aniol posted this “open letter” on his blog. And this “addendum“.

John Vaughn, FBFI President and long-time pastor of the ultra-BJU-feeder Faith Baptist in Taylors, SC, declared that this video “ends the fiction that ‘Northland has not changed.'”

Sharper Iron has had several long-running forum posts with all sides chiming in on the issue. Many BJU-affiliated figures took to SI to fret about the “change” and “compromise” taking place in this area, including Aniol, Mike Harding (who posted this lengthy and characteristic comment), and others. Many of the SI commenters seem especially preoccupied with the evil affects of “urban culture” and how to keep it out of their churches. also weighed in.

BJU had so far refrained from officially commenting on the issue. It appears that yesterday, however, the school began a kind of campaign to re-assert their conservative views on music in light of Northland’s compromise. According to a source at the University, Greg Mazak, Psychology Division Chairman at BJU, preached a message in Chapel yesterday on  “appropriate worship”, specifically focusing on dress. Mazak argued for the necessity of “suits, ties and dresses” when attending church. Although it has not been posted to Sermon Audio (as is becoming the norm with controversial messages), we feel sure from our source that this message is part of a broader initiative from BJU to distance itself from Northland and any ministry that tries to evolve on the music issue. More info as it becomes available.


52 thoughts on “As Music Controversy Engulfs Northland, BJU Deploys Mazak To Clarify its Stance

  1. evamadera

    As a student who heard that message yesterday I do want to clarify one point about what Dr. Mazak said. While he clearly supports “suits, ties and dresses,” he specifically stated that what was important was “dressing up.” After that, he said that for him that means “suits, ties and dresses.” (The rest of your post is accurate.)

    1. formerfundy1992

      evamadera… curious… which passage of scripture did he use? As we were taught at BJU Sola Scriptura….. If it’s not in the Bible, it ain’t so McGee…..

      Or, did he, as the Anglican and Catholic churches do, use reason?

      The Bible tells us that Jesus wore robes, sandals, and a beard. So shouldn’t we then wear beards, robes and sandals???

  2. formerfundy1992

    Because, as we are all painfully aware, suit coats and ties were normative dress for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. THAT is why it is requisite dress!! Oh, and let’s forget that period of time when facial hair was forbidden – again Christ didn’t wear one… oh…wait…. Hmmm.
    I would also like to understand the term “emerging church.” There is nothing emerging about it… The church “came out” thousands of years ago under a system of Bishops and Priests. “Fundamentalism,” on the other hand, is the infant. And it is “fundamentalism” that is attempting to change the true church. It is “fundamentalists” and “reformed” that cannot grasp what Jesus taught and did… he embraced the culture of the time and used it to bring His message to EVERYONE – to the common person, where they are, at their level.

    Pope Bob III and chief Cardinal Stephen don’t have a grasp on the true church.

    1. Mark Smith

      Are you saying Jesus today would have several tattoos, a few piercings, would listen to Jay-Z, and wear flip-flops and cut-off jeans to church?

      1. maestrojhoffman

        Are you suggesting he wouldn’t? How do you know?

        Consider this:

        Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist was pretty much a homeless man who looked like a raving lunatic (he ate insects and honey). Jesus himself was again and again castigated by the religious leaders of his day for dining with prostitutes and sinners, for conversing with Samaritans (the Jews were and still are secondarily separated from these co-religionists of theirs), for allegedly being a wino, and for getting close enough to talk with and touch lepers (the AIDS patients of his day)… and when he met with his disciples for his last Passover, he got down on his knees and washed their feet.

        How much of our religious expectation is cultural and how much of it is spiritual?

      2. Mark Smith

        Well, John the Baptist wasn’t worldly. Perhaps strange, but not worldly. Tattoos, showing up to worship God in street clothes when you don’t have to, listening to music with musicians and writers of questionable motives and testimony, were not part of Jesus’ or John’s life. It is one thing to visit prostitutes and sinners, it is another thing to put on their dress, adopt their slang, and do what they do.

        As far as John the Baptist he dressed and ate like he did to show separation from the world and the broken religious system. People wear t-shirts and listen to the music they do to show connection to the world. BIG difference!

        Keep a clear eye on the truth!

      3. maestrojhoffman

        “People wear t-shirts and listen to the music they do to show connection to the world…”

        That is a load of balderdash. Most people are not concerned with making everything they do a statement about their “connections.” And the one place they should not have to be concerned about what other people think is the church. Jesus said “come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest unto your souls.” There’s nothing in there about making sure your pants are pressed and your tie is carefully knotted.

        Jesus DINED with publicans and sinners. He didn’t just visit them on Thursday night “soul winning.” He invited them to eat with him. He went to their homes and sat down at table with them and shared a meal. He let a prostitute wash his feet with her hair, an initimate and even sexual act. You can’t explain all this away credibly with your “separation theology.” Sorry. Doesn’t work like that.

      4. maestrojhoffman

        One more thing:

        Have you ever been to a Jewish liturgy? I have. In fact, as an organist, I have played very many of them.

        Jewish liturgical music would not “check” at BJU. That’s right. The music that Jesus, who wasn’t even a Christian, listened to in his worship would not “check” at Bob Jones. Not in a million years.

        Spiritualizing cultural preferences is what Pharisees do. Better to worship the Creator “in spirit and in truth.”

      5. Mark Smith

        First, I couldn’t care less whether something “checks” at BJU. Never went there!

        Second, I have attended many churches with pop/rock music for worship. I have played the instruments in those bands and I have sung on the stage. The entire purpose for that style of music is to connect with the culture that the people live in. They listen to that kind of music outside of the church walls, so why not play that style in the church…That is the entire point! At some point though, we need to illustrate that the redeemed are separate from the world. Christians should act different from the world. Getting tattoos, wearing certain kinds of clothes, listening to certain kinds of music, watching certain kinds of movies/shows, is connecting with the world.

      6. maestrojhoffman


        You start off with a good point: “At some point though, we need to illustrate that the redeemed are separate from the world. Christians should act different from the world.”

        Then you set up this arbitrary cultural standard:
        “Getting tattoos, wearing certain kinds of clothes, listening to certain kinds of music, watching certain kinds of movies/shows, is connecting with the world.”

        Galatians 5: 22- 23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (NIV)

        There is not a single thing in there about tattoos or t-shirts or music styles. Truth to tell, if we were to adhere to the strict standards of Leviticus regarding those things, most American evangelicals would fail to pass muster. The great American hairstyle for men is in direct violation of the Leviticus commandment not to cut the forelocks.The Jewish tradition, required in Leviticus, is that a woman can only show her hair to her husband. She is supposed to cover her head in public. Judaism also requires a head covering to worn by men when praying (the Yarmulke is one traditional head covering for meeting this requirement).

        What you are doing — all that you are doing — is taking your own cultural preferences and making injunctions JUST LIKE THE SEEMINGLY ARBITRARY INJUNCTIONS OF LEVITICUS to enforce your separatist views.

        Your views are not biblical, not orthodox, and not Christian. They are cultural. Admit that and we can actually have a conversation about what we are really talking about: cultural preference. Spiritualizing your cultural preferences is absurd… and extra-biblical.

    1. captain_solo

      Now the site is up and the pages are gone. Guess they decided not to join the Yellow Journalism bloggers wholelsale, got to try to maintain that patina of legitimacy. Its probably a good thing, I was embarrassed for the supposedly serious authors over at Religious Objections, it was a pretty low blow even in what has been a rather dirty bit of muckracking by the anti-NIU cabal. Not surprised to see BJU weighing in.

  3. butter light

    If I have my facts straight Scott Aniol is a worship professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Did you see this video clip of the latest SBTS worship seminar? I have no problem with the video. It just looks like Aniol is contradicting himself by blasting NIU while he is employed by SBTS.

  4. maestrojhoffman

    It’s good to see Dr. Muzak expanding his fields of expertise so well beyond his actual academic qualifications. It just goes to show that with a little grit and a BJU doctorate (either earned or honorary), a fellow can become an expert in any field he wants to be.

  5. Can'tKarryaTuneinaBucket

    Oh my word. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. I agree with the post that Fundamentalism is the latecomer trying to reform the historical church. Not that the historical church is perfect. The church is the body of those who believe in Christ, not those who believe in a certain kind of music. The line that distinguishes is Jesus Christ and faith in Him; not the kind of music. Such an example of turning the traditions and personal tastes of men into doctrines of God.

  6. Mark Smith

    Why does something need a specific Bible verse to be Biblical? The Bible as a whole can present truth in a general way. For example, the idea of preparing yourself for worship by cleansing yourself, both physically by washing and mentally/spiritually by examining yourself for sin and whether you be in the faith. I believe this means that people need to come to worship with great care and reverence, having reflected on themselves and their lives. Along with this comes the idea of separating yourself from the mundane as you do this. That leaves out flip-flops and shorts.

    People want an easy “gospel” that doesn’t change them but saves them. The ultimate selfishness. I have to resist that temptation too!

    1. maestrojhoffman

      I suppose that is why Matthew 23 records Jesus’ great rant against “scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites” for making clean the outside of the dishes and for whitewashing their sepulchers: so we would all dress up to go to church and play the “right” kind of music.

      Don’t get me wrong. I am a liturgical musician. The bulk of the music I do in the liturgies I lead as a musician would be considered “too hifalutin” for your average IFB congregation. I am a classical musician, after all. And I wear a suit and tie under my vestments most days. But that is culture, not spirituality. I am just as spiritual when I am at home in grungy clothes as I am when I am in church performing as the parish musician. God looks on the heart.

      1. Mark Smith

        Well, if all you do is take a bath and put on a suit so that everyone can see how clean and rich you are, sure, you’re a hypocrite. If you put on a suit or dress or (gasp) pant suit to reflect the respect you have for the church and the gospel, and as a symbol of the personal holiness that you work for as empowered by the Holy Spirit, it is a great thing.

      2. maestrojhoffman

        You are missing the point… or deliberately obfuscating it. What you are calling “respect” is cultural. Period.

        I’m not suggesting that you not “dress up” to go to church — I do, and not to “show how rich I am,” mostly because, well, I am not — but to recognize that your preferences are cultural, not spiritual. The fruits of the Spirit are not a Brooks Brothers suit and a Talbot bow tie. They are love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith. None of those things requires a uniform.

        Especially if your church denies the sacramentology of the historic church and emphasizes the long-winded opinions of a man as “worship,” who cares what you wear? God doesn’t. I assure you.

  7. Mark Smith

    You are missing MY point or deliberately obfuscating it. See I can write that too!

    My point is, once you are saved and redeemed, your actions and yes, you clothing, music, etc, should change to match your redeemed nature. Follow me as I follow Christ,Paul said.

    1. maestrojhoffman

      I know your point very well. After all, I grew up at BJU. Again, your point is to spiritualized culture. I am trying to point it out to you. It is as plain as the nose on your face. You are trying to use scripture to justify your prejudice.

      Paul said a lot of things, including that he preferred for Christians not to marry but remain celibate. He never said anything about what to wear. Ever. In fact, he had a vision wherein he learned that all the trappings of kosher law were just trappings and had nothing to do with grace.

      In the historic church, we read all scripture in light of the gospels. We don’t parse out new commandments from St. Paul’s opinions. We view them as commentary on the gospels themselves. Jesus’ new commandment was to “love one another as I have loved you.” Not a single mention of clothing, hairstyles, or musical preferences in that commandment. Not one.

      God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

      1. Mark Smith

        Maestro, you’re a piece of work. Who said anything about not loving people? And you’re conceited phrase “historic church” brought me a chuckle!

        1. maestrojhoffman

          Well, there you go. When reason escapes and logic fails, you can always resort to ad hominem to carry the argument.

          When I say “historic church,” I mean the one true catholic and apostolic Church with Christ’s as its head and affirmed in the Apostles’ and Niceness creeds. That isn’t conceited. It’s fact.

          Cheers, mate.

  8. Keith

    I suspect that if BJU started featuring a modern-style praise team, most of the students would welcome the idea. Of course, the old-timers and the pious would poo-poo the idea. But who says college has to be for old-timers?

    Witness the success of Liberty University, which has embraced modern culture with regards to Christian music, rules, and online learning. Something like 20,000 students vs. BJU and PCC, who have plateaued at 3,000 to 4,000 students and are pleading for warm bodies every year.

    Maybe Northland is on to something here.

    After several years of coats and ties at PCC, and in my early business career, I have made a commitment to wear coats and ties as little as possible for the rest of my life.

    1. walter

      Be cautious judging success by the enrollment numbers. God judges by the heart, and actions. Yes those collages in area’s can be legalistic. Legalistic is just as damaging as grace only churches. Real answer is, anything man does is not perfect.

      Back to my point. When witnessing many churches determine success of a style by how many pray a prayer. That is God’s business, our business is giving the word the best we can. Give Jesus a good name and have him well known. One person in acts can witness and grow the church by 3000, and another witnesses and only get’s one. Both were doing God’s work. It was different groups of people that were being talked to.

      I can not say if Liberty U. has compromised God’s standards, and PCC added more rules than they should. But judging success by numbers would be judging by man standards, which does not always mean they are God’s standards.

  9. Carson

    BJU has from its beginning defined “godly living” and “godliness” itself in terms of current political and sartorial fashion — it has stressed from its beginning how people look on the outside and what groups they join. From my youth 40 years ago there were sermons and talks on length of hair, length of skirts, amount of makeup, conservative politics, movies, alcohol, tobacco, “key words” (don’t say “shafted”). As a result, BJU is defined by whatever the current fashions are — they are purely reactive. They wait for the next fashion and then take a position. Another result is that being godly has been diluted to a dress and speech code. It breeds over confidence, it breeds arrogance, it breeds cliches, and it has made Christianity not vital but stagnant and negative and nothing more than a club one joins by changing outward behavior.

    2013 and they are still giving chapel talks on wearing a tie — that is the front line of Christendom in a world that aborts babies by the millions and fears bombers in public. BJU is still talking about what to wear to the prom and what music to have in the morning.

    It is as clear a mark of the impoverishment of mind at this “university” as any — collecting the next generation each morning to prepare them for the onslaught of secularism by making sure they have the right clothes on and organ music on their ipods. There are very few brain cells still functioning there and fewer fibers of character — they have reduced themselves to behaviorists.

  10. Issac Kahl

    A lot of these posts are rooted in a reason to support a looser standard of Christian living in and out of the church. What did you where to your first interview? When you were going to on that date with the girl/guy of your dreams? Is church not equally important. Don’t pretend your going to show up to work like you do for church.. I feel that my generation is so defensive and is on the border of bitterness that if you say wear a tie if you want to teach sunday school they cry and quote scripture out of context then put a tie on the next day for work. Grow up.

    1. Gregory Smith

      Isaac, I have scoured scriptures…. all of them, not just the 66 books the that the IFB/BJ permits and blesses. No where can if find any way to take anything out of context about wearing [whereing?] a tie… As a matter of fact, ties weren’t invented nor had they come into fashion for centuries after the Bible was written. The specific format of tie that Mazak is referring to was not even around until 1926 – he probably doesn’t realize that even to this day. It is not even 100 years old. So I really REALLY don’t believe that this is an issue of “a looser standard of Christian living in and out of the church.” And I can be absolutely 100% certain that none of the biblical authors even intimated that a tie is appropriate for worship.

      IF it had been… there are centuries of men who were obviously not Christians because the tie had not yet been invented. What are you going to do when in 10 years, the codpiece comes back in style as the primary show of formalwear and ties are no longer manufactured? You (and BJ and Mazak) are imposing your personal, arbitrary set of rules as a “standard” for the world.

      Personally, I do not wear a tie to church or work. The number of times I wear a tie each year can be counted on one hand. At church, what I chose to focus on is worshiping and communing with God. I go to focus on what the Bible actually says.

      I do not go to church to make a show for those around me. THAT is basically all a tie does.

      Oh, and PS, if you are going to require a tie… you also must require hats and gloves for the ladies!

  11. Diana

    Wow! It has been interesting to read these posts- to say the least! I graduated from christian college a long time ago, but it seems the same battles are being waged! It is amazing how bitter and rude those of you who cling to your “freedom” sound. I am sure you don’t realize it! We , as Christians , are only passing thru this world. We aren’t supposed to become entrenched in it! “Be ye holy, for I am holy” is what Jesus commanded. That should be our focus. If you truly have given your life to Christ, you will obsessed with serving him, and being an example to those around you…..not blending in with them! I think there are a few verses that many so -called Christians seem to forget – like Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind , that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God”, and I John 2:15 ” Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world , the love of the Father is not in him.” Also, Titus 2:11-12″ For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” Remember that God sees our hearts and knows why we choose to dress and act the way we do, and why we listen to certain music, or hang out at certain places. He put Matt.7: 21-23 in the bible for a reason! It applies to many “worldly” Christians of todays time. “Not everyone that saith unto me.Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in they name done many wonderful works? and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Just because many of you claim to be Christians, doesn’t mean you really know the Lord., or that He knows you! One’s actions can betray them; thus the saying,” actions speak louder than words” Check your hearts, for ones heart reveals their true character. I guess my question for all you “Saved by gracer’s” and nothing else matters. What is your witnessing life like? When you witness to others do they listen? Or do they look at you and see really nothing different, so why should they accept your God? Or, do they look at you, and say “Yeah, I can pray a prayer and still keep my sinful lifestyle- God will understand! After all, they’re doing it!” You are right, cultures do change over time; however, common sense must prevail! Should Christians start throwing “keggers” to reach alcoholics? Should we start frequenting brothels, to reach people in the gutter? Should we employ “worldly” methods to reach the world? My KJV version of the Bible doesn’t say so ( although I am sure there are some versions out there that do!). Wake up people! Just gives your lives totally over to Christ, and you won’t be tripping over these issues!

    1. BonnieMerkil

      Just curious… which version of the KJV do you use? Do you use the original with ALL of the books, or do you conviently determine that certain books of the KJV aren’t really the bible… of some of the KJV isn’t correct, how can the rest be?

      1. Diana Hammermeister

        I use the regular KJV Bonnie. I am not sure what books I supposedly don’t use that you are referring to. I believe all of the KJV is correct, not just parts of it, and I wasn’t trying to imply that only parts of the Bible are inspired. The point of my article was that we are not supposed to be legalists ;however, I have met plenty of Christians who seem to think that if a Christian, or Christian institution has any kind of standards, they are legalists. I am saddened by so many Christians who have no standards, and blend in perfectly with the world. God’s word does not tell us to be “undercover Christians”. We are supposed to be different from the world, not blend in with them.We are not to take advantage of the grace of God. Bottom line, if you love the Lord, you will want to serve him and be more like him. It seems to be there are a lot of Christians out there that want to be called a Christian, but look like, smell like, and act like the world. My question for them is” “If you really Love the Lord, why do you want to do that? Why is separation from the world such an issue?”

    2. maestrojhoffman

      So, Diana, you’re telling us that your King James Bible includes the books of Tobit, Second and Third Esther, Esdras, Wisdom, etc. just like the King James Bible — an Anglican translation — that was published in 1611?

      1. Diana Hammermeister

        Jesus once said “Get behind me Satan”. I detect hatred and discontent come the way you responded. What is your issue making a side issue, so my main point is hidden? I have been trained that those extra books were never intended to be inspired, but do have importance. If you want to play with KJV accuracy. Lets compare the NWT and the message to the KJV. The main point is if you love Jesus, you will want to obey his commands. Mathew 7:21 is talking to Christians, and 23 they argued with Jesus. My husband was like thom who said,” Lord lord”, but he was missing something. Now he says he is born again, and it shows. He no longer does things as a “have to” but now “I get to”. His life has been radically changed. He wonders why people want to look and act like hell, but want heaven for eternity. Does this describe most Christians in America?

        1. maestrojhoffman

          Diana, I detect a note of superiority and condescension in your original comment and in your reply to me just now. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but it sure looks to me like someone’s hoping for a vacancy in the Trinity so she can apply. Good luck with that!

          The original point that you made in your first comment on this article was to add your bit to the list of the fruits of the Spirit that the Apostle Paul enumerated “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, temperance.” Your shoddy proof-texting from the KJV translation of Matthew leaves out a lot of the rest of the book of Matthew and misses the entire point of the gospel. If you’re going to quote Matthew 7: 21-23, you need to take it in context. Remember that the original text of the Bible was not divided into chapters and verses, so we need to look backwards a little bit in the text of the Book of Matthew to see what it was Jesus was actually talking about. Just for safety’s sake, let’s back up to the beginning of Chapter 6, shall we? While the King James Bible is not necessarily the most accurate translation — and my love for the KJV is well known to those who have read my posts on the subject — even it makes a very clear case for what Jesus is talking about when he says “by their fruits ye shall know them,” and “not everyone who says unto me ‘Lord, Lord,'” in the passage you referenced:

          1) don’t just do acts of charity (almsgiving) for public recognition; be so generous that you don’t keep an account (“let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth”), but to please God (Matthew 6: 1-4);

          2) don’t just say your prayers in public, but pray to the Lord in secret (6:5-8);

          3) when you pray, pray this way: “Our Father, which art in heaven….” and if you forgive others their offenses against you, God will forgive your offenses against Him (6:9-15);

          4) on your fast days, don’t do it for show, wash your face so no one can tell you are fasting (6:16-18);

          5) don’t be so concerned about material gain as you are about doing the work of God’s kingdom (6: 19-23);

          6) if you’re more concerned about money than you are about God’s work, then you really are serving the wrong Master — don’t worry about the future, do God’s work today (6: 24-34);

          7) stop judging other people, especially because you are blinded by your own sins in your haste to correct theirs (7:1-5);

          8) don’t be flippant with sacred things; (7:6)

          9) don’t try to bargain with God. Instead trust that He is going to be even better to you than you are to your own children (7: 7-11);

          10) if you want people to treat you a certain way, treat them in the exact same way, not with a double standard (7:12);

          11) don’t look for shortcuts to God, finding your way to God’s will and eternal life is not a commonplace but requires diligence and care (7:13-14);

          12) watch out for people who try to sell you with a winning smile and personal charm an easy path to God, if they don’t practice what they preach, be wary (7: 15-20)

          I think you’d be very hard pressed to come up with a list of rules for “acceptable worship” from this particular list of things which deliberately indicate God’s attention to the heart of the person, and not the trappings of their worship style or lifestyle.

          As Bonnie Merkil observed, your original comment ended with a flippant “KJV only” biased remark. What always makes me chuckle about fundamentalists who believe the King James Bible is the only correct version of the Bible — and let’s be clear, I love the KJV myself, but I do not subscribe to the view that it is the only or even the best English translation of Scripture for the 21st century — really ought to be more interested in the Geneva Bible, which more accurately reflects their biases about sacramentology, church polity, and canonicity than the King James Authorized Version ever did or ever will. In fact, the King James Bible reflects the theological viewpoints of the Elizabethan and Jacobean Church of England which are not even remotely close to what the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement believes about the sacraments, the organizational structure of the local church, and which books belong in the library we call the Bible.

          Your accusation of hatred is rather ill-founded and presupposes ill will on the part of the truth-seekers like me who have left fundamentalism and have spent our lives in loving service to our Lord in churches apart from the IFB and BJU. What we are interested in is accuracy and truthfulness in representing Jesus Christ and His radical life-changing message to the world, not to mention His abundant grace that sets us all free from our former bondage.

          Worship styles are cultural. We’d be hard-pressed, most of us 21st-century Christians, to find ourselves comfortable in the worship styles of the synagogues of Our Lord’s day and age. Don’t believe me? Try worshiping with your local Orthodox Jewish Congregation sometime. Judaism clings to its ancient traditions and musical formularies for Torah reading and Psalm singing. We’d be hard-pressed understanding the worship styles of the many centuries’ worth of believers who predated the late-19th-century American Revival era. Don’t believe me? Try attending a Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Lutheran, Episcopalian/Anglican, Mar Thoma (Indian Orthodox), Moravian, Syrian Orthodox, or other ancient liturgical tradition service sometime. Not only will unfamiliar languages be present, but also unfamiliar musical styles, unfamiliar clothing fashions, unfamiliar rituals and much else you probably haven’t ever encountered before, but if you will be open to being a part of that worshiping community, you will recognize the LOVE, JOY, PEACE, GOODNESS, FAITH, etc. that are the fruits of the Spirit among your fellow believers assembled in those places and in those communions.

          The most important values for any worshiping congregation to hold, and I cite Matthew 6 as partial support for this point, are the values of authentic, humble, grateful, loving praise to the One who redeemed us and makes us whole and holy by His grace. All else is just cultural preference. There’s nothing wrong with those preferences, but there is something very wrong with a “holier than thou” approach to worship. Jesus is very clear about that in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18).

          1. Diana Hammermeister

            I am not interested in arguing over Bible translations, and that is what you are turning this into! You assumed I was KJV only, I never said that. You are the one sounding condescending now! Don’t bother commenting. The bible says not to “cast your pearls before swine” ( yes, that probably is a KJV version) – I think I just found a swine; so, if you will excuse me- I am parting company!!

            1. maestrojhoffman

              I think you have a lot of trouble reading and comprehending what other people have to say. Your condescension and air of superiority are plainly on display now in all of your comments in this thread, Diana. That’s really unfortunate. It’s a terrible burden to be self-righteous.

              As a point of fact, I’m not interested in arguing about Bible translations either, as you can see from the tenor of my last, careful, and thoughtful reply to you. I know it’s really challenging to realize that other Christians can be just as loved by God as you are even though they worship God in completely different ways from you, but if you let the Holy Spirit grow love and understanding in your heart, you will find that charity to your fellow Christians will follow. “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord…” and “be ye doers of the word and not hearers only.”

              Peace to you, Diana. I bless you in the Name of Jesus Christ, our Great Redeemer.

      2. Gregory Smith

        Thank you, Maestro, for your clear, thoughtful discussion of the book of Matthew. As you know, I value your comments such as this, and you have again enlightened and taught me. WOW, I will now have to go back and reread and study this section of Matthew again.

        Diana, believe me when I say that Maestro – Whom I have known for over 40 years, is NOT making snide or hateful comments, but is engaging in thoughtful and courteous discussion. He has a heart and soul for Christ and for furthering the understanding of God’s word, You yourself made the KJV issue. You made it extremely strongly. You were the one who emphasized the KJV version as if it were the original text that Paul, Moses, and other biblical authors wrote.

        I believe it is very important to understand the position from which one’s Bible translation was written. Most IFB/BJ folks do NOT understand that their KJV is really just one edition of the KJV and is definitely NOT the original 1611 version. The 1611 version has 13 more books that what you find in your average BJ/IFB KJV. Yes, they pick and chose which pieces of the KJV they want to use and which ones they will discard. THAT is the truth.

        My point here being, if you are going to make a strong argument for your position from one narrow perspective (the KJV), you better be ready to defend your entire perspective (the WHOLE KJV). If you are not, you may want to reevaluate your perspective.

        The position of Greg Mazak, and many of those posting in this discussion, come from a perspective of privilege, wealth, and societal status. The concept that you must wear a dress or a tie and suit coat to worship God is just plain rubbish and is not supported .. well anywhere. Let me tell you, when I was ministering in Bamako, Mali (in west Africa) there was not a single person in any church service that I attended that wore a coat, tie, or dress (as we know it). They came and worshiped and praised God just as they were. And I have NEVER seen ANY church in the United States that had the visceral presence of the Holy Spirit like I did there. They used drums and tambourines with their music. They wore what they had – what God had given to them. And they were happy and blessed.

        To be so low as to tell someone they are not a Christian because of how they dress or how they chose to express themselves via haircut, body adornment, or any other exterior item is 1) judging someone you have no business judging, 2) elitist, 3) exclusionary and 4) quite frankly, the Catholic concept of confession and penance really fits.

        If a Christian cannot accept Gods creation as God created them with the idiosyncrasies and individualism inherent in each one of us, but rather requires conformance to their personal set of self-proclaimed “Christian ideals” (no tattoos, no makeup, haircut tapered over ears and neck, tie and suit coat, etc. etc. etc.) they need to go back and read the only commandments given by Jesus. Love the Lord, Love your neighbors as yourself. PERIOD. No mention of coats and ties here!

  12. MT

    The fact that this is what you people spend your time discussing makes me wonder whether you actually have a grasp on the main purpose of scripture. Sure sanctification of the saints is a great idea, but the big idea is getting folks to be saints to begin with. I’m truly at a loss trying to figure out how bickering and grandstanding about T shirts and tats or worship style or neck wear adds a single body to the Kingdom of Heaven.

    The cherry on top of this Pharisaical Sundae is the last post by Diana that actually seems to call into question the salvation of any poster that doesn’t drink her flavor of KoolAid.

    This was very instructive to say the least. Please send me a post card when your time machine leaves the 1950s…or you can just email me when you arrive in the 21st century.

    By the way, it’s true that Jesus didn’t have a tatoo when he was on earth, nor did he post to blogs or use email, but according to Revelation 19:16 (even in the KJV) he will have “a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” on his thigh. Maybe it will only be a temporary tatoo 🙂

  13. Pingback: BJU Publishes 2013-14 Student Handbook, Highlights Include Changes to Church Attendance, Music Policies | BJU News

  14. John Brown

    “A lot of these posts are rooted in a reason to support a looser standard of Christian living in and out of the church. What did you where to your first interview? When you were going to on that date with the girl/guy of your dreams? Is church not equally important. Don’t pretend your going to show up to work like you do for church..”

    This post was really funny! When I go on a date to impress I always wear stylish jeans and a nice shirt and shoes. I never wear a suit. EVER! Would do the same if I were to meet the President if it were my choice. But the thing is. it’s not my job to “impress” Jesus. He will never be impressed by me. And it’s silly to suggest not wearing a suit is tantamount to “supporting a looser standard of Christian living in and out of the church”. Bible please!!!

  15. Neal Ammerman

    I just came across this blog and found it intriguing. I graduated from BJU in 1970 and have had both good and bad experiences there. The faculty had on it many of the best people in the world, but overall the administration acted like “fossils.” But that’s another story I could (and may,) write a book about. First, I must say, there is much I loved and appreciated about BJU, and still do. I last visited the campus about 10 yrs ago and saw many good things happening ,and a least some steps in the right direction. In the discussion about music, hair styles, fashions, etc…I came to the point years ago that most of it is just another form of legalism . We say we are “saved by grace” but then BJU wants us to “live by the law”–it’s own law. The culture they conform to is their own subculture,,,based on appearances on how you look, the music you listen to, etc. Laws God never intended us to be under. My opinions on music have changed considerably since BJU and after several years working in Christian radio. Is it the STYLE of music that is or isn’t “spiritual”? Or the CONTENT and HEART ATTITUDE? No, I don’t think hard heavy metal head banging rock should be used in worship, but is a moderate beat of guitar riff “worldly”? Culture changes as does language. We don’t speak KJV English any more, so modern day Bibles are needed because language has changed. Truth doesn’t but expression of the Truth constantly changes. As for BJU sports, I think it’s long overdue and a positive thing. Nothing “unspiritual” about a cross country running team . I am a runner and a bicyclist and I wear shorts and T-shirts as I do.You won’t catch me wearing a tie to run a marathon! As I see now better than I did at the time (1966-1970) BJU has a major problem with spiritual pride. It’s that, often unintended, sin we can be guilty of without seeing it at the time. Administration has a very hard time ever admitting its policies have been wrong, yet they have been. The rules then against black students being admitted, and trying to justify by Scripture , was wrong. Not with hatred toward blacks, but just the wrong interpretation of Scripture and re-inforced by the ultra conservative fundamentalist attitudes (culture) of that time. The point is..simply..that pride and legalism are damaging and not right. By the way, I know a young 20 yr old fellow who likes “Christian Rap”. Not my style, but I know this kid and his heart is right and wants to serve God to his culture he lives in. He wouldn’t be acceptable at BJU! But I doubt if big choirs and heavy organ music and operatic soprano singing will reach his generation either! (Sorry I wrote so long..I could tell many other stories….!)

    1. Gregory Smith

      Our time at BJ overlapped. It is fascinating to see how the stringent, “Bible based rules” are changing there. You are spot-on about being required to “live by the law”. It is for that reason the enrollment at BJ continues to decline. This year they do not even have 3,000 students.

      It is so unfortunate that your friend would not be welcome at BJ. I have met so many fantastic young Christians who could benefit from a BJ education, but because there is some perceived by BJ flaw with their “show window” they are not welcome… Now, here is the hypocrisy: BJ is now soliciting students from the local Christian Rock station in Greenville… Duplicitous? Double Standards? Absolutely!

  16. Gregory Smith

    The over-arching issue here is the FACT that BJ, the administration of BJ, Berg, and especially the holy family themselves 1) determine what is right and wrong, 2) interpret the Bible to say what they have determined is right and wrong, 3) declare that if you interpret things differently than they do, you are a sinner destined for hell, 4) declare they are right & everyone else is wrong, 5) focus on the external and “looks” more than real spiritual issues (Anyone here a “Show window”?) And, when circumstances dictate that they are wrong and things must change, the afore mentioned people/individuals: 1) make the change and ignore the past, 2) stubbornly reuse to acknowledge there is a change 3) refuse to acknowledge they were wrong, 4) rationalize their sine as “southern culture” or “a business decision”, 5) refuse to apologize for the deep, searing hurt and pain they have inflicted.

    Bob III has still refuses to publicly (and I would be pretty certain if I even said privately) admit that he lied on Larry King Live. All he did while talking to Larry is to rationalize the SIN of the administration. There are publications from BJU Press and sermons directly from III’s mouth that use the Bible to prove their twisted interpretations and contradict just about every word that came out of his mouth on LKL.

    This is about the pharisaical perspectives of BJ and, by extension, Greg who is a puppet of BJ (just visit his church if you want proof.) This is about the meanness and deep pain BJ, its administration, Berg, and the holy family inflict on Christians (and non-Christians). This is about the plethora of individuals I personally know who have lost their faith, become agnostic or atheist all because they in no way want anything to do with a god that is expressed in the actions of BJ, This is about their refusal to acknowledge publicly (or privately for that matter) they are human and have gravely sinned against those in their care.

    This points the hypocrisy of the entire BJ system. This is shining a bright, bright light into their window for the whole world to see the REAL BJ.

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