▼ Show Notes
This special episode of Relentless Truth is a message to Bob Jones University. The Board of Trustees (the board) and Dr. Steve Pettit have engaged in a conflict of sorts that has resulted in Dr. Pettit announcing his resignation effective at the end of this school year. The board has accepted his resignation
While the facts aren’t all clearly known, the acrimony appears to have developed over time. Dr. Pettit and Dr. John Lewis, the former chairman of the board, clashed over issues related to leadership of the University. The fracture seems to reveal conflicting visions for BJU. There appears to be an element that seeks to return the University to the past with strict rules and practices that have been modified under the leadership of Dr. Pettit. The majority of the stakeholders appear to embrace the relaxing of some of the rules and practices at BJU along with other changes to the culture that have been implemented under the leadership of Dr. Pettit. Needless to say, the arguments are much more nuanced than this simple summary.
Dr. Pettit has, over his nine years in his role, given me confidence that I frankly haven’t enjoyed since graduating from BJU in 1981. He returned the tax-exempt status of BJU, achieved accreditation, initiated several intercollegiate sports, introduced more modern (and biblically sound) worship music, and generally updated standards of conduct while focusing the students, faculty, and staff on biblical discipleship. The campus is full of life with energetic students and faculty, and the image of the University in the community is much improved.
Mistakes have been made by the board and Dr. Pettit in recent months. The parties appear to have resigned themselves to the current state of leadership change based on a sense of duty and good intentions. In this episode, I am asking the parties to come to the table one more time to attempt to resolve this conflict.
Yes, there are other leaders who can guide BJU. Yes, the board has concerns about the precedent that might be set if they are seen as capitulating to Dr. Pettit. However, in a culture wherein Christian organizations are not thriving, Dr. Pettit has led BJU to a place of thriving in many respects. He has the overwhelming support of the alumni base – a group that is often ignored. He seems to have student, faculty, staff, and community support as well. Yes, this vision can be continued without him, but Steve Pettit’s resignation could begin a cascading of events that diminish BJU and even threaten its viability. In the battle between good and evil, BJU has an important voice, and it is important for the stakeholders to understand the implications of the decisions that are in play at present.
My years of banking experience and recent years of working with Christian schools inform me on many of the challenges present at BJU. I offer an informed perspective on these weighty matters in this podcast episode.
I believe the current environment affords the BJU Board of Trustees the opportunity to demonstrate restoration, repentance, and loving Christian conflict resolution by negotiating a new contract with Dr. Steve Pettit. I believe the negative publicity around this conflict can be replaced by an impactful, redemptive, biblically sound, accretive story about Christian conflict resolution with love and grace without compromising the board’s fiduciary or stewardship duties whatsoever. I outline thoughts in this episode that are intended to be constructive to that end.