A Critical Review of the “GRACE Final Report” on Bob Jones University, Part One

by Martin Bobgan


I received a copy of the “GRACE Final Report: For the Investigatory Review of Sexual Abuse Disclosures and Institutional Responses at Bob Jones University,” hereafter referred to as the “GRACE Report” 2 or “GRACE” when referring to the investigatory team. GRACE, an acronym for “Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment,” is an organization formed to educate Christians “to recognize and respond to the sin of child abuse.”3

GRACE defines child sexual abuse as “any sexual activity—verbal, visual or physical—upon a minor (a person 17 years of age or younger)” and adult sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact of an adult (a person 18 years of age or older) where consent is not freely given or obtained, and it is accomplished through force, intimidation, violence, coercion, manipulation, threat, deception, or abuse of authority” (p. 26).


Bob Jones University (BJU) retained GRACE as “an ombudsman to review the university’s responses to sexual abuse disclosure” (p. 10). The investigation began on January 10, 2013, and the Final Report was submitted on December 11, 2014 (p. 9)
with a blatantly biased recommendation on Dr. Bob Jones III.

In Defense of Dr. Jones III

I do not know Dr. Jones III, in whose defense I will be coming, or anyone else at BJU.4 However, I am in disagreement with GRACE’s recommended “personnel action upon Dr. Jones, III.” GRACE has erred grievously and egregiously in this ill-supported recommendation. GRACE’s ignorance and naiveté about college governance and the delegation of responsibility would be forgivable if their report were private, but when they impugn the reputation of Dr. Jones III publicly with their insupportable reasoning, it is appalling!

The following is GRACE’s condemnation of Dr. Jones III, which I will discredit:

Robert (Bob) Jones, III: As President of BJU during much of the time that was the subject of this investigation, Dr. Jones, III is ultimately responsible for many of the difficult findings of this investigation. Dr. Jones, III has also repeatedly demonstrated a significant lack of understanding regarding the many painful dynamics associated with sexual abuse. Due to the central role Dr. Jones, III played in the many issues outlined within this report, it is recommended that the university impose personnel action upon Dr. Jones, III (p. 231, bold added).

The footnote to the above reads: “‘Personnel action’ includes, but is not limited to, termination, suspension, probation, transfer, remedial education and training, or any other form of corrective action consistent with transforming the employee’s teaching, conduct, or overall disposition regarding sexual abuse matters” (bold added).

Be aware of anyone who carte blanche, with deficient evidence, and with insufficient experience in college governance blames college and university chancellors or presidents for what transpires at levels below them. Particularly be wary of anyone who has no idea of the gory and glory of the office of chancellor or president and condemns without sufficient proof.

The chancellor or president of any university or college is “ultimately responsible” for all that occurs under his administration, but should only be cited if he had knowledge before or afterward that an action of his would result in dire detriment to faculty, students, and others and had failed to take appropriate action. As I will demonstrate, this is not true in the case of Dr. Jones, III! It is unfortunate that no one on the GRACE team is or has been a college or university chancellor or president, who would understand the expression “chain of command” and how it works in a college or university, in spite of GRACE’s references to it (pp. 138, 148, 187, 252).


Because I knew about GRACE’s position on the integration of psychological counseling theories and therapies and the Bible, I decided to read GRACE’s lengthy report. As I read through the long document, I could see that their perspective on abuse is not purely biblical. GRACE has been heavily influenced by those with a psychological view of human nature and on how to help people change and grow. Since the ministry in which I am involved was formed for the purpose of exposing these psychological theories that have invaded Christianity and to warn Christians of these detrimental ideas that have undermined and polluted the understanding of God’s revealed Word, I believed I needed to evaluate the Grace Final Report.

LGBTQQI

I found on the internet an alleged sexual abuse/assault victim interviewed by GRACE who was subsequently interviewed by the media as follows:

Jeffrey Hoffman, who spoke to GRACE investigators about abuse he suffered as a child by someone who worked at BJU at the time, said he was gratified to hear [President] Pettit’s apology but hopes another is forthcoming…. Hoffman was born on the Bob Jones campus and attended school there through his first semester of his freshman year at BJU.5

I went to Hoffman’s website and found him explaining why he became the “executive director of a fledgling gay rights organization.” He says:

So why do I find myself preparing to lead a group of LGBTQQI [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Intersex] and affirming former students and alumni of Bob Jones University down Fifth Avenue next month in our first-ever participation in New York City’s Pride March? 6

Hoffman then goes on to explain why in a diatribe against BJU and then declares, “I am not a fundamentalist. I cannot be a fundamentalist. God does not want me to be a fundamentalist.”7

Hoffman describes the situation before the “GRACE Investigatory Review” started and prior to their survey. He says:

Slowly, a group of lesbian and gay survivors coalesced as one by one we cautiously came out to each other in private messages or in the survivor groups. Then some bisexual people joined us, trans people came out, some questioning people would private message me or another of my colleagues here at [bjunity.org].8

It is clear that the LGBTQQI activist community was greatly galvanized to support GRACE’s efforts and would be a strong motivation, through social networking, for them to volunteer for the GRACE survey and also to desire to be interviewed. This raises a question about the number of alleged sexual abuse/assault victims in the Grace Report who were LGBTQQI individuals who allegedly suffered because of their sexual orientation. I would guess a goodly number of them after having visited numerous LGBTQQI websites.


Interestingly, every LGBTQQI website that mentioned both the GRACE Report and BJU agreed on two matters. First, they were all strongly supportive of the GRACE Report, and, second, they were all condemnatory of BJU. One wonders if individuals from the LGBTQQI group were interviewed by GRACE, what they would look like if all the facts were gathered with respect to what alleged sexual abuse/assault was experienced.


GRACE would have some idea of the number of LGBTQQI individuals who were interviewed and what their alleged sexual abuse/assault was.
GRACE could have made that known without revealing the identities of the individuals, but failed to do so. This matters because of the vast polarity in theology between BJU and the LGBTQQI community, which could affect their testimonies. Because of the contentious difference in theological beliefs between LGBTQQI individuals and BJU and the fact that such individuals would likely be openly antagonistic to BJU because of their lifestyles, GRACE should have eliminated them as potentially hostile witnesses. At least BJU should know the number of such witnesses.


Hoffman dramatizes his own situation and that of other LGBTQQI individuals. However, his alleged sexual abuse testimony is questionable for two reasons.
First, his own sexual orientation could dramatically affect his evaluation of BJU. BJU and those who say they suffered because they were LGBTQQI have diametrically different biblical views. The biblical position of BJU is as follows:

Bob Jones University believes that any form of sexual immorality—such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s biological sex—is sinful and offensive to God. God’s inerrant and infallible Word, the Holy Bible, is unambiguous in its declaration that sexual sin, such as those named above, is an offense to our holy God. We believe God offers redemption and restoration to all sinners who will repent of their sin and seek His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ— but that those known to be unrepentant practitioners of sexual sin cannot remain in a Christian assembly. Allowing them to remain in an unrepentant state, whether they be students, faculty, staff or volunteers, brings God’s displeasure on the institution and forfeiture of His blessings. Further, we believe that Christian marriage has only one meaning and is defined by God in His Word and that His Word limits the definition of marriage to the joining of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union. God the Creator ordains sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and woman who are lawfully married to each other. Sexual relations apart from such marriage is a sin which God will judge. Adherence to God’s definition of marriage and the practice of acceptable moral conduct as the Bible defines it is expected of all who study at or are employed by Bob Jones University.9

In order to dramatize this difference, I quote Dr. John MacArthur’s teaching on Romans 1:18-32. The following is from the transcript of his sermon:

What you see in Romans chapter 1 is the sequence of what happens when God abandons a nation. First, verse 24 says, He gives them over to “the lust of their hearts to impurity,” sexual sin, the dishonoring of their bodies among them. When God abandons a society, the first thing that happens is it becomes pornographic. It becomes obsessed with sex, obsessed with fornication, adultery, every kind of sexual behavior. We have gone through that already in the sexual revolution a couple of decades ago.


The second thing that happens when God abandons a culture is found in verse 26, “God gave them over to degrading passions...their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural...in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” At the end of that verse, “Receiving in their persons the due penalty” is the diseases that come consequent to homosexual behavior. And as you know, they unleashed on the world the horror of AIDS.


But what it’s saying here is that when God abandons a nation or a culture under His wrath, there will be a sexual revolution followed by a homosexual revolution. And we are living in this very condition.

MacArthur further says:

Our responsibility is to tell people about the Kingdom of God and who can be in the Kingdom of God and who is excluded from the Kingdom of God. That’s the ministry of the church; that’s what we do; that’s what every preacher must do. And I’m not the one who makes the terms. I am only the one responsible to God to proclaim what God has revealed. And I’m here to tell you that if you advocate a life of sexual sin, adultery, fornication, effeminateness, or homosexuality, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. What that means is, you’re on your way to hell, not heaven. This is the spiritual kingdom of those who are in Christ. The church is made up of people who were like this. Please notice, here’s the good news, verse 11, “Such were some of you.”10

Did the GRACE team, all of whom are professing Christians, affirm or warn the known LGBTQQI sexual abuse/assault victims about their possible eternal fate? Because of the biblical condemnation of the LGBTQQI immoral sexual activity and the chasm that exists between them and BJU, such witnesses should have been excluded.


Second
, the reader is told nothing about what alleged sexual abuse/assault Hoffman and other LGBTQQI individuals might have suffered at BJU. Was it verbal related to biblically warning them about their sexual orientations or something more serious? However, Hoffman clarifies this for us in the following:

So, what compelled me in 2012 to become an activist for gay rights? The abusive system that fundamentalism has become. The young man I know who attempted suicide after a “counseling session” at BJU. The young woman I know who survived a rape only to be expelled from school for having “spiritual problems.” The middle-aged man who recently confided to me that he has never had a meaningful intimate relationship in his entire life. The memory of the near-daily rants from the chapel platform that echo in pulpits across the United States; those rants that drove me to despairing self-hatred and suicidal thoughts. The many people I have known over the years who received ungodly, hurtful counsel from BJU Administrators. The knowledge that the homophobic hatred that has seized so many within Christian fundamentalism is going to continue to destroy lives unless someone steps in and pulls them out of the fire…”11 (bold added).

I have read Hoffman’s testimony repeated similarly by others in various ways by various LGBTQQI individuals, including their invective “homophobic hatred,” which is their shibboleth and can be seen repeated throughout the various sites. How much of this unbiblical, ungodly language did GRACE hear without having concern for their souls?


Having worked with activist groups on the right and the left, I say the obvious. Some individuals in activist groups on the right and on the left actually lie in their zeal to accomplish their goals. Some of the ones who were LGBTQQI individuals or fellow travelers, who merely completed the questionnaire and were not personally interviewed by GRACE, may have lied as a means of attacking BJU/BJA for what they regard as “homophobic hatred.” They may have lied about being students at BJU/BJA and/or lied in answer to the questionnaire questions.
Neither GRACE nor BJU/BJA would know for sure whether or not the questionnaire-only completers and those who did not sign the release form actually attended BJU/BJA or were ever sexually abused/assaulted victims, which is another major flaw in the GRACE Report.


Question 13 in the “Confidential GRACE Questionnaire” asks, “Have you personally witnessed a representative of Bob Jones University /Academy make comment/s you found to be
inappropriate regarding matters related to sexual abuse?” (Bold added.) This question is one more reason why those LGBTQQI individuals should be excluded as witnesses. While “sexual abuse/assault” is different from sexual orientation, there is a middle ground. The LGBTQQI individuals would know that the teaching at BJU/BJA would condemn such practices and be direct about the fate of such individuals, i.e., they would not inherit the kingdom of God. It’s at the juncture of BJU beliefs and LGBTQQI accusations of “homophobic hatred” that the BJU teaching would be regarded by LGBTQQI individuals as very “inappropriate” and regarded as abuse of their sexual orientation and therefore “sexual abuse.” After all, their very souls are at stake!


From their accusations and remonstrations against BJU on their websites, the LGBTQQI groups would likely be happy if the GRACE Report were to end the existence of BJU. But, the biblical antidote is found in BJU President Pettit’s words: “Above all else [we] want to help you live your life in a way that pleases God.” God will certainly bless such godly intents and efforts, regardless of the “principalities,” “powers,” “rulers of the darkness of this world,” and “wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).


After searching the internet and visiting numerous LGBTQQI oriented sites, I conclude: that GRACE has had the overwhelming support of the LGBTQQI community; that this nationally connected LGBTQQI group supported the reinstatement of GRACE, which had been terminated by BJU; that LGBTQQI oriented BJU former students, such as Hoffman, were roused to offer to be interviewed by GRACE; and that many of those BJU LGBTQQI individuals alleged to be sexual abuse/assault victims and those friendly to their causes were among those who responded and desired to be interviewed.


As an interesting side note: after Basyle (Boz) Tchividjian’s GRACE team did their “Investigatory Review” that drew the support of LGBTQQI groups across America, his sister, Jerushah Tchividjian Armfield, moderated a BJUnity panel discussion of LGBTQQI panel members who are former BJU students, who expressed views that were contrary to BJU’s biblical beliefs regarding various sexual orientations. In support of LGBTQQI individuals, Armfield says, “I want people to see and experience the love, grace and mercy of the Jesus I see in the scriptures.”12 If the LGBTQQI panelists were among the group interviewed by GRACE, that would add several more individuals whose testimonies should have been rejected.


In a recent blog Tchividjian refers to Philip Yancey’s book
Vanishing Grace and says:

Yancey further contends that the success of movements for human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, minority rights, gay rights, disability rights and even animal rights “reflects a widespread empathy for the oppressed that has no precedent in the ancient world; classical philosophers considered mercy and pity to be character defects, contrary to justice. Not until Jesus did that attitude change.”13


Since he did not qualify his paraphrasing of Yancey, I assume that Tchividjian supports “women’s rights” and “gay rights” as being in the same category as the other rights mentioned. “Women’s rights” often include the choice for abortion and “gay rights” often include marital and adoption rights. Women’s rights and gay rights are two conjoined causes in that those who support either typically support both. Tchividjian does not clarify where he stands on these issues, which may partly explain GRACE’s strong support in the LGBTQQI community and possibly his support of using such individuals as witnesses.

Erin Burchwell
In addition to Jeffrey Hoffman, I found Erin Burchwell, who was also interviewed by GRACE. An interview with station WYFF4 with Burchwell reports the following:

She grew up on Bob Jones campus and attended BJU in the late 90s. She says that’s when a male graduate student assaulted her on and off campus over a 2 year period.

“He did not rape me, so it can’t be considered a rape case,” Burchwell said. “But he molested me multiple times. I mean, probably 40 or more times.”

Burchwell claims when her parents finally reported the assaults to university administrators, they were told not to go to the police….

Spokesman Randy Page said the university has no knowledge of any crimes against Burchwell on campus.14

Burchwell’s testimony raises many questions. I assume that during the “2 year period” Burchwell was an adult. I also assume that she was an intelligent adult as she even completed a four-year degree at BJU. It is clear from her own testimony, “He did not rape me.” Question: What was the alleged sexual abuse/assault, as this would make a great difference. Be aware that “40 or more times” of either unwanted sexual remarks directed at her or unwanted kissing would constitute sexual abuse/assault. Without knowing what the male graduate student did, it is hard to respond to Burchwell’s accusation.


If Burchwell had been violated more seriously for “over a 2 year period…40 or more times,” why did she not report it? She had 40 opportunities over the two years to do so. And why did Burchwell’s parents wait two years before reporting the “40 or more times” of alleged sexual abuse/assault against their daughter?


Burchwell’s testimony was repeated numerous times in the media, but not once did anyone ask her what the alleged sexual abuse/assault was and why she did nothing about the “40 or more times” for “over a 2 year period.” Without having answers to these questions there is no way one can respond, except to wonder why she would put herself “40 or more times” into such an environment where the same person could allegedly sexually abuse/assault her? Even her accusation almost 20 years later with no on-campus evidence is questionable.
Burchwell is an excellent example of the failing of GRACE to identify the type of alleged sexual abuse/assault that occurred with each witness.

Conclusion

The worst part of the GRACE Report is the seemingly smug and self-righteous, overblown, undeserved indignation against BJU. The idiom, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” applies here. GRACE’s psychological integrationist views are far more detrimental to the church at large than BJU’s mere conflation [combination] of counseling and discipline.


For GRACE to indict Dr. Jones III on the shaky evidence they provide is shabby enough, but to publicize this to the entire world is unconscionable. Contrary to what GRACE claims, they are in gross error in their reckless recommendation regarding Dr. Jones III. It is said that “The evidence demands a verdict,” but in the case of Dr. Jones III, “The verdict demands evidence.” I have gone through the evidence by reviewing each instance in which Dr. Jones III is mentioned in the GRACE Report and find the evidence unclear, unconvincing, unavailable or unbelievable at times.
The verdict is in: Dr. Jones III is not guilty as spuriously and sanctimoniously recommended by the GRACE Report!


GRACE has revealed some allegedly biblical, but not legal, shortcomings at BJU,
but no student was proven to be falsely accused or falsely penalized in the counseling/discipline conflation. In the described cases, every student was disciplined according to their signed covenant with BJU! The number of alleged sexual abuse/assault victims who complained is unknown due to GRACE’s intent, and the many serious complaints may have been made by just a few alleged sexual abuse/assault victims.


We are living in the Last Days prior to the Lord’s return. Jesus spoke about those days in Matthew 24 where there would be much deception. One of the Last Days’ deceptions is what we call “psychoheresy.” GRACE is a psychoheresy organization that promotes a Bible-plus package elevating the psychological opinions of man where the Lord has already spoken in His Word. Unfortunately most contemporary churches in the English-speaking countries have fallen for the foolish, fallacious, and spiritually fraudulent psychological substitute for the sufficiency of Scripture for the issues of life, which we call “psychoheresy.” Few people realize how culture-bound psychotherapeutic theories and practices actually are and how foreign our psychological society is to other cultures around the world and especially to our forefathers of the faith.15


I hope and pray that Bob Jones University does not fall victim to GRACE’s shocking and spiritually scandalous suggestions and solutions to remedy any deficiencies and particularly that the BJU Board rejects and reacts against GRACE’s proposed persecution of Dr. Jones III. While psychoheresy is the primary reason I took on this task, the auxiliary reason was because of the outright, outrageous, and outlandish recommendation against Dr. Jones III, whom I do not know.

Addendum

The 301-page GRACE Final Report is available at: http://www.sccadvasa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Final-Report.pdf. I urge readers who believe as I do that there has been a great miscarriage of justice in GRACE’s recommendation regarding Dr. Jones III to email Chancellor@bju.edu.

(Endnotes)

1  Excerpted from entire article by Martin Bobgan, “A Critical Review of the ‘GRACE Final Report’ on Bob Jones University,” http://www.pamweb.org/pdf/bju_grace_new.pdf,

2  GRACE Final Report: For the Investigatory Review of Sexual Abuse Disclosures and Institutional Responses at Bob Jones University, http://www.sccadvasa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Final-Report.pdf. Hereafter page references to this report will be in parentheses within the text. Also, all references to GRACE apply to the organization or team.

3  http://netgrace.org.

4  Disclosure: Because of my unfamiliarity with BJU, I have been in email contact with Randy Page, Director, Public Relations, asking questions and confirming my impressions of BJU, but I do not know him personally.

5  “BJU investigation announcement to be made Thursday,” http://greenvilleonline.com, 12/11/14.

6  http://bjunity.org/confronting-hatred/jeffrey-hoffman-activist/.

7  Ibid, p. 2.

8  Ibid, p. 3.

9  Randy Page, Director, Public Relations, email re: Bob Jones University biblical position statement, 4/4/2015,.

10            John MacArthur, “Homosexuality and the Campaign for Immorality,” Grace to You, http://www.gty.org.

11            Jeffrey Hoffman, “Why I Became An Activist,” http://bjunity.org/confronting-hatred/jeffrey-hoffman-activist/.

12            http://bjunity.org/confronting-hatred/panel-discussion-announcement/.

13            http://boz.religionnews.com/2015/04/02/god-victim-child-abuse-survivor-taught-good-friday/.

14            Tim Waller, ”Former BJU student claims sex abuse was hidden,” http://www.wyff4.com/news/local-news/greenville-news/former-bju-student-claims-sex-abuse-was-hidden/24358248, 2/3/14.

15            Ethan Waters. Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. New York: Free Press, 2010.

 
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, July-August 2015, Vol. 23, No. 4)

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