Tag Archives: Jim Berg

PSA: We Have Archived Every Sermon by Jim Berg and Bob Jones III

 

Some commenters here felt it was unethical to save these sermons when GRACE has recommended their deletion. In our opinion, it’s worth having the real, “uncensored” words of these men saved for several reasons:

1. BJU might go beyond the GRACE recommendation and delete ALL sermons by these speakers, thus removing any permanent record of important public statements made therein (including ones related and unrelated to abuse).

2. Even in the event that only “offending” sermons are removed, GRACE left the definition of what constitutes “offensive” to BJU itself (“any sermons it determines to be offensive…”). Also, there’s the possibility that BJU might ask SermonAudio to edit and re-upload certain sermons minus offensive content, thus saving face.

Even if no one ever contacts us for a copy of these sermons, or even if BJU never deletes them, we felt it important that BJU be notified that its publicly-spoken words can’t be permanently erased.

One of the recommendations in the GRACE report was for BJU to remove from its archives any sermons “insensitive or hurtful to sexual abuse victims” (pg. 230). This directive, combined with BJU’s habit for disappearing any information detrimental to its image, makes it important that sermons from Jim Berg and Bob Jones III, in particular, are preserved in some way. We took it upon ourselves to download each of Berg’s sermons (about 150) and each of Bob Jones III’s sermons (over 500) from SermonAudio while they still exist there. This vital audio record could prove essential for further investigation.

Although we unfortunately don’t have the resources to upload all of these sermons here for easy downloading, we have compiled a sermon guide for both speakers listing all of the sermon titles along with date, location and other information. Simply drop us an email if you’d like to listen to any of them.

Click here to download the Jim Berg sermon guide.

Click here to download the Bob Jones III sermon guide.

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GRACE Aftermath: Docs, Tweets, Images and Media Coverage

Background

We’ve rarely seen anything like the outpouring of interest in BJU activities since the bombshell GRACE report was released yesterday morning. With so much going on, here’s our summary of the various events happening in and around this landmark event.

In order to give a sense of what the report actually contains, we’ve assembled this Storify with tweets from Kimberly Kelly, a local Greenville news personality who spent much of the day yesterday tweeting highlights from the report. We are much indebted to her for this service. The hashtag #GRACEReport on Facebook and Twitter also has a good array of posts/information.

Much of the reaction so far has been disgust with Bob Jones III, Jim Berg and Bob Wood. These three, lifetime BJU leaders and anointed “men of God” all, have been revealed by the GRACE report as key actors in a “culture of fear” at BJU that prevented sexual abuse victims from getting help. In line after line of the report, top leaders of the school appeared totally ignorant of basic legal and psychological facts:

 

Of course, readers of this blog will be well aware that BJU has had issues with reporting sexual assault for decades, and that the responsibility for these lapses goes straight to the top. Last year, we reported that in 1980 two BJU officials helped cover up a similar scandal at another Christian organization using methods already long in use at BJU at that time. And evidence of BJU’s victim-blaming counseling methods was made public last year when a video of Bob Wood’s bewildering counseling methods was leaked.

Further highlighting the contents of the report, here’s an image we assembled highlighting BJU’s prior attempts to deflect criticism on these issues–deflections which have now been proven false. Click on the image below to enlarge.

Media Coverage:

 

 

WYFF Greenville also posted a video, including an interview with Steve Pettit in which the BJU President seems evasive about the accusations.

There’s also this. Apparently, legal action against the school may be coming next:

More Alumni Come Forward

Just today, we’ve seen two more interesting posts from BJU alumni who weren’t in the GRACE report discussing their experiences. Here’s a post talking about the shame and neglect abuse victims have felt:

And further cementing Bob Jones III’s position as chief University apologist (and liar), here’s a letter an alumni received in 2011 during the Chuck Phelps scandal. The alumnus sent us the letter today.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Here’s another image that’s been brought to light today, a description of Berg’s “Crisis Management” course at BJU. As of now this page is still live on BJU’s site despite GRACE’s recommendation to remove him from the spotlight:

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 4.33.47 PM

Pro-BJU Reactions

Other alumni and interested parties have responded to the news in order to support the school. Sharper Iron commenters were typically dismissive, as expected. Remember that before the report several commenters predicted “a non-event.”

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

While many supporters have been fairly quiet since the devastating report was released, a few have taken to Twitter to voice their positive feelings:

Also of note are the comments on these posts, both criticizing and in support of the school:

We will continue to have more coverage of the GRACE situation here and on our Facebook and Twitter feeds as news comes to light. Here are a few links from this site to keep an eye on:

Here are all our posts on the GRACE story, going back several years.

Here again is audio of Bob Jones III saying publicly that BJU has always handled abuse correctly.

 

 

 

BJU Grad Pens Lengthy Letter to Steve Pettit, Gets a Terse Non-Answer

A BJU grad critical of the school sent us this letter, which the grad sent to new BJU President Steve Pettit early this month:

Dear Mr. Pettit,

I watched the town hall meeting on the web last night and came away with the distinct feeling that I needed to write to you and share my thoughts. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am an outspoken “disaffected” graduate of BJU. That said, I love our Lord, Jesus Christ, and sense that you do as well. I also have nieces and a nephew currently attending. While I would not choose to send my own children to BJU, I do want the best for my extended family members.

So, here goes…thoughts, constructive criticism, ideas…

1. BJU has a massive image problem.

To my knowledge, BJU has never apologized once in its 87 year history. That racism one doesn’t count. BJU came across as a petulant child being dragged kicking and screaming (by its own alumni) and mumbling something about “cultural ethos”…IOW, everybody was doing it. Sorry, that doesn’t cut it. At my church we regularly ask for forgiveness for many a thing that I didn’t directly take part in…slavery being one of them. You know why? Because had I been around back in those times, I would have probably taken part in it. I hope I would have stood up to it, but few did. Confession allows us to clear the air with our neighbor and realize that but for the grace of God, it would have been me.
Many a non Christ-like word has been spoken from the chapel pulpit over the years…Al Haag, Betty Ford, Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell…the list is long, but distinguished.
BJU says they are conservative yet they took a bailout offer for the their art gallery downtown. I also hear (yet to confirm) that BJU’s downtown gallery receives money somehow from the sales of wristbands for alcohol at downtown events. I’m not a conservative but if there is one thing you have to do as an organization, it’s be consistent.
In all of these cases, confession is not only good for the soul, it’s good for business.

2. Accreditation

We need a better explanation of why accreditation and government money are OK now but were verboten when we were students. The explanation that SACS is the one who has changed was weak at best. Better yet, just apologize again for being wrong about accreditation and government money, ask for forgiveness and move on. Side note…government money was bad but the GI Bill essentially built the Greenville campus.
TRACS was an easy way to get the money flowing but without SACS, the school should close. A non-regionally accredited liberal arts school is just a government investigation waiting to happen.

3. Enrollment

By all means, be a distinctively Christian school; however, in order to attract enough students to survive you need to…
Dump the crazy rules and handbooks. If the Ten Commandments was good enough for Moses, it should be good enough for us.
You’re a Citadel grad…institute an honor code, make the golden rule and the Sermon on the Mount your ideals.
Let students go to church at a much broader array of churches and make it voluntary…encourage, yes. But, they need to learn to make the decision for themselves.
Treat students like the adults they are…I agree with most of what you said about extended adolescence but we get the behavior we expect.
Students having authority over students…this needs to be re-visited in earnest. Prayer time is great. APCs and PCs…not so much.
Hold a press conference with all the local stations when you do this. Make a big deal about it. Slide a stack of handbooks into a trash can…sell it!
Be self-aware enough to realize that when Mr Jackson’s grand-kids are not going to BJU, when Mr. Franklin’s son left home to avoid BJU, and many an influential local alumni (read Dr Stratton) are not sending their children to BJU that the problem lies not with the alumni. It lies directly with the owners.
Which leads me to this. You are going to need to “pick a fight” with the owners of the company and win it. Your’re a smart guy so you probably already know this. Make your alliances. Assert your leadership. The Board is old. You’ve got this.

4. Safety

Put locks on the dormitory doors.

5. GRACE
Now, there’s a conundrum! Your only bet…follow their recommendations to the letter.
I would ask Boz to recommend someone not currently affiliated with BJU who would be willing to shepherd the school through their list of recommendations so that you personally can rise above the fray as much as possible. And, every knows it wasn’t the Penn State situation that made BJU hire GRACE. It’s a good story except that it is not true. BJU has had incidents on campus that have been swept under the rug.
Stop counseling on site. Refer students who need help to licensed, Christian counselors in the local area.
You come across as an honorable man. Do the honorable thing when the report is made public and you’ll have the support of all your alumni.
Lastly, I want to wish you and your wife the best. I hear she is not well and for that I am truly sorry. Nobody should have to watch the one they love suffer, I promise you that before I go to sleep tonight, I will say a prayer for both of you. Should you ever like to meet or get outside the BJU circle of churches for a weekend, let me know. You would be welcome to worship with my family at ——– United Methodist Church any Sunday. You might be surprised to know that among some of the older congregants that I hear things like “BJU is a good school” and “BJU has a fine music program”. The Greenville community has much going for it. I would like to see BJU be a positive part of it instead of reminder of unhappier days gone by.

Sincerely,

———-

To this lengthy letter, the grad received this reply today:

Dear Brother ——-:

Thank you for your candid email in follow-up to the Town Hall meeting last week. I apologize for the delay in my response; however, since my correspondence has increased exponentially in these last few months.

I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts and suggestions. It’s helpful to know other perspectives and to look for ways to improve. That being said, I’m not going to take the time to respond to every point you listed. I simply want to say that some of the things you suggest are simply not what Bob Jones University is or what we are called to be–in the context of our mission here at the University, there are certain things that we will not do (e.g. completely rid ourselves of the handbook).

We are thankful for you and thankful that you love our Lord Jesus Christ. We appreciate your prayers, and I personally thank you for your prayers for my wife and for her health.

Although we most probably will agree to disagree on many of your points, there are some helpful perspectives that you shared that we will keep in mind.

May you grow in our Lord’s grace and experience a closer walk with Him every day.

Sincerely,

Steve Pettit
President
Bob Jones University

This reply from Pettit should end any question of whether the new BJU administration is willing to truly entertain pointed questions from graduates about the future of the University. Despite Pettit’s repeated requests for feedback and accountability, it seems the same old playbook is still used for the difficult topics: defend, deny, and dismiss.

If you’ve written a similar letter or gotten a similar response from BJU, feel free to let us know in the comments.

Why is Jim Berg Running an Abuse and Addiction Counseling Program?

Back in 2010, Jim Berg teamed up with Greenville-area BJU feeder church Faith Baptist of Taylors to found Freedom That Lasts, a “ministry” marketing itself to other churches as “the biblical path to freedom from addiction.” The system works like a fast-food franchise: a church can become chartered with Freedom That Lasts for an annual fee (“through a private link provided by headquarters”), and, after the church’s application is reviewed and approved by FTL, receives training and promotional materials for the program. For suffering addicts, what does Freedom That Lasts look like? Mostly, a heavy dose of Berg-flavored Nouthetic counseling: videos, workshops and studies organized around a series of books and DVDs produced by Berg and JourneyForth, a BJU entity.

Berg makes lofty claims about helping addicts.

Noticeably absent from FTL’s materials is any reference to licensed, qualified counselors or mental health experts. Neither BJU, Faith Baptist Church or Jim Berg have any use for medical or psychological solutions to problems they consider spiritual in nature; in fact, the FTL Charter Document specifically precludes chartered churches from seeking professional assistance in any situation under its purview:

The Freedom That Lasts program may not be blended in any way with the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, pop psychology—Christian or secular—or other secular or faith-based programs.

And what issues does Freedom That Lasts claim to provide assistance with? Well:

That’s a wide range of challenging issues (along with a few non-issues), and there’s nothing on FTL’s website to suggest that its staff is qualified to deal with any them–unless you consider affiliation with Bob Jones University to be a qualification, in which case FTL is stacked. Like so many fundamentalist “ministries,” Freedom That Lasts is in lock-step with BJU. FTL lists only three staff members: its Founder, FBC Taylors head pastor John Monroe, Director Larry Pierson, and Executive Director Jim Berg. All three are BJU grads with endless connections to the University. Freedom That Lasts distributes Berg’s package of books, videos and studies guides through BJU Press, and its Statement of Faith is nearly identical to BJU’s Creed. And on and on.

Here’s Pierson on FTL’s mission (comments disabled on the YouTube video, naturally):

Freedom That Lasts’ system is simple: individual churches are sold Berg’s series of books and DVDs and are instructed to use them, along with Bible study, to help troubled people in their communities. But how can untrained laypeople hope to grapple with issues like alcohol addiction, self-mutilation and suicidal tendencies especially when the program they use forbids them from seeking proper counseling and assistance?

Here’s Berg on FTL (again, no comments allowed):

We called Faith Baptist in Taylors in an attempt to get details on the Freedom That Lasts program and specifically to ask the hard questions about how an unlicensed, layman-staffed program can really treat life-threatening mental health issues. So far, we’ve met with stalling; the leadership of FTL is proving difficult to get ahold of. We’ll update this post if and when we’re successful in getting answers directly from the leadership of Faith Baptist.