March 27, 2010

E-mail to the Readers of ARPTalk

The hearing on the restraining order filed by Erskine alumni against the ARP Church took place on Thursday, March 25, 2010, at the Newberry courthouse. Both sides presented their arguments and witnesses were called and examined; however, because of the length of the proceedings and an appointment that the Judge had at 3:00 PM, summations were not heard. The Judge continued the restraining order for ten days so that summations could be written and filed with him. After the Judge has read and deliberated, he will then announce his decision.

The following are the Editor’s reflections on the trial proceedings:

1.        The lawsuit that Erskine College filed against the ARP Church has been withdrawn. One wonders why Drs. Richard Taylor and Parker Young and Mr. David Chesnut have taken up the lawsuit.

2.      While on the stand, Dr. Young identified Erskine as a “Christian college.” However, with Dr. Young’s background at the University of Georgia and in state education, he seems to view higher education through the lenses of state colleges and universities. One is left with the impression that he knows little about the particulars of what constitutes a “Christ-centered,” Christian college.

3.      In contrast, Dr. Taylor stated that the Erskine Board/College is NOT a “Christian institution.” If that is the case, that news is going to be a surprise to the General Synod of the ARP Church. The Editor seems to remember that Erskine trustees are asked to give assent to a document concerning adherence to evangelical Christina faith.

The disagreement of Drs. Taylor and Young on this matter was interesting to hear.  Neither man seems to understand the stated mission of Erskine.

4.      The attorneys for Drs. Taylor and Young and Mr. Chesnut contended that the ARP Church does not own Erskine College and Seminary. Not only is that a surprise to ARPs, but that must be an astounding surprise to Dr. Randy Ruble, the President of Erskine College and Seminary. Dr. Ruble has publicly and often stated that the ARP Church owned Erskine College and Seminary.

5.      The attorneys for Drs. Taylor and Young and Mr. Chesnut contended that “irreparable harm” had been done to them and the other trustees who were removed from the Board by the action of General Synod.  The nature of this “irreparable harm” then became clear from the testimony of Drs. Taylor and Young: THEIR FEELINGS WERE HURT because they were not chosen to serve on the Interim Board.  Is this nothing more than a nuisance lawsuit by two angry ARP elders against the very Church to which they have vowed submission! 

6.      When asked as to why he was bringing a suit against the ARP Church, Dr. Young stated that it was because of his “fiduciary” responsibility. Two question come to mind at this point: (1) Dr. Young was on the Board when the Editor was on the Board and when the $1,000,000 mismanagement of monies took place, where was his voice of “fiduciary” responsibility? (2) This past year, when over $600,000 was overspent in recruiting, where was Dr. Young’s voice of “fiduciary” responsibility?

7.      During Dr. Young’s testimony, he read a letter from the head of the accrediting agency of Erskine Seminary, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). The letter spoke of grave concerns regarding the accreditation of ETS. Dr. Young seemed to lay all the blame for an ATS audit on the ARP Church.

Mr. Aldon Knight, a former Erskine employee, after the meeting of General Synod wrote, “Old Erskine or no Erskine.” He then threatened and encouraged the writing of letters of complaint to the two accrediting agencies of Erskine College and Seminary: ATS and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Does this seem odd? The very people who have set the house on fire are complaining that the house is on fire!  Arsonists afraid of fire! Indeed, Dr. Young’s concern about the ATS letter seems more than disingenuous! A sure way to get the attention of  an accrediting agency is a lawsuit!

The Editor has some questions at this point: (1) When the ATS auditors arrive for their audit of ETS, will the auditors find the hiring of professors and administrators apart from the appointed search process in violation of ATS protocol? (2) Will the ATS auditors find the matriculation of Mormons, Muslims, and Jews into the DMin program in disregard of the stated mission and motto and guidelines of the ETS catalog in violation of ATS protocols? (3) Will the ATS auditor find the abortive attempt to open an ETS extension site in NYC in disregard of NY law that nearly resulted in a lawsuit in violation of ATS protocols? (3) Will the ATS auditors find the fire sale of the EDEN program’s courses at steeply discounted rates in a so-call special semester that was launched apart from faculty and Board approval in violation of ATS protocols?
At the end of the day, perhaps the ATS auditors will thank the ARP Church for finally stepping in to address an administrative mess!

There is a passage in the Bible that fits this situation. It is found in 1 Kings 3:16-28 and reads in this manner:

Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him. And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house. And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it. And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear. And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.

 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living. And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.  And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof. And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

It is not the ARP Church that wants to cut the baby in half!

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson