What To Do While Waiting on the Erskine Appeal



One of the hallmarks of the healthy church is vigilance. Without vigilance truth turns into syncretism, orthodoxy dilutes into heresy, love corrupts into license, discipline degrades into ecclesiastical anarchy, intellectual pursuit devolves into intellectual idolatry, and academic freedom transmogrifies into academic tyranny. Woe to the church that fails to be vigilant in the care of her agencies!


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For the two or three in ARPdom who are not aware, the judge has continued the restraining order that Erskine Board members, David Chesnut, Richard Taylor, and Parker Young, requested against the ARP Church. Once again, for the two or three in ARPdom who are not aware, the ARP Church has appealed the judge’s ruling. So, what does this mean? What can we in the ARP Church do?

  1. Has the ARP Church lost the court action? No! This does not mean that the ARP Church has lost the suit that has been filed against the General Synod. It does not mean that the actions of the General Synod in the March meeting of General Synod regarding Erskine College and Seminary have been overturned. It means that a restraining order has been issued that does not allow the meeting of the Interim Board appointed by the General Synod. Other matters await adjudication. Once again, we are NOT appealing a verdict. We are dealing with a restraining order.
  2. Should the ARP Church pursue the appeal process? Of course! What else can the ARP Church do? The ARP Church has been sued. The ARP Church is not the one bringing a suit. The ARP Church is not the “plaintiff.” THE ARP CHURCH IS NOT THE ONE TAKING ANYONE TO COURT. The ARP Church is defending herself. The ARP Church is the “defendant.” The ARP Church is following the necessary and reasonable course of defense.
  3. Is legal defense a violation of either the letter or the principle of 1 Corinthains 6? The Editor does not think so. Once again, the ARP Church is not attempting to seize something that is not a part of the ARP Church. Is not the institution of Erskine College and Seminary an agency of the ARP Church? Is there not an attempt being made to seize Erskine College and Seminary from the ARP Church? A Biblical principle that is found through out the Bible is the right to protect oneself from THIEVERY – even by the use of force. At this point, the Editor needs to encourage the readers of ARPTalk to read what is being written, in the public e-mails, blogs, Facebook postings and other electronic media, by the many Erskine alums and faculty members and administrators. They have made their intentions clear. They want to seize Erskine from the ARP Church. Their battle cries are “No negotiation!” and “Old Erskine or No Erskine!” Indeed, let us protect ourselves and what is ours!
  4. Is the appeal process expensive? Yes. Lawyers are always expensive. But what about Erskine College and Seminary is not expensive? Are you aware that in the last 40 years that the ARP Church has invested over $40 million in Erskine College and Seminary? Some are now saying that the expense of the appeal is a waste of the tithes and offerings of God’s people. Well, what then was the $40,000,000 that we have invested in the past 49 years? Including the land, the Erskine investment in Due West is over $80,000,000. Are we now afraid to spend a few hundred thousand dollars to protect what is the church’s? Not to spend the money to protect the investment that Erskine represents for the ARP Church is to degrade and waste and dishonor the tithes and offerings of former ARPs – many who were our parents and grandparents.
  5. Should we not seek to negotiate with the Erskine leaders? No. Negotiate what? The matter has been brought into very sharp focus. The matter is whether Erskine is to be a Christian evangelical college that educates to the glory of God or a secular college that gives lip-service to an exsanguinated Christ and an impotent Bible and exalts man to glory in himself. Once again, has the reader read any of the e-mails or blogs or Facebook postings, or the pontifications in the papers by the Erskine secularists? The Erskine secularists (and that includes most of the Erskine faculty members and administrators) have not equivocated on what they believe and what they want to do. The administration has granted Dr. Gid Alston, the Academic Dean, immunity and under his leadership he has publicly blasted the General Synod of the ARP Church and stated that Erskine must be free of the ARP Church and, furthermore, Dr. Alston has stated that the vision of the ARP Church for Erskine is not going to be permitted by the Erskine faculty, administration, or alumni. So, what is to be negotiated? That Erskine is not an agency of the ARP Church? That the ARP Church is an agency of Erskine – so give us your money and shut up? That the ARP Church rescinds its view of Scripture so that the Erskine secularists are comfortable with the Bible as a book of ancient myths? A redefining of what “evangelical Christian” means? The abandonment of the ARP Church’s understanding of the integration of faith and reason (which is presently the publicly stated mission of Erskine)? That the Board be allowed to continue in a non-functional state so that an imperial administration can do whatever it desires? To continue to allow Erskine to be dominated by evangelistic religious secularists who attempt to destroy the faith of the children that we have led to Christ and have sought to build up in the faith? What are we going to negotiate? The ARP Church is being assaulted. The Church is being asked to give up “the faith once delivered to the saints.” How can the ARP Church negotiate such a thing? That is not negotiation! That is a denial of the faith of the ARP Church!
  6. Is there danger in negotiating with Chesnut, Taylor, and Young? Yes. This would open wide the door for other suits and legal actions. For example, a deal is struck that is satisfactory with Chesnut, Taylor, and Young may not end the matter. The matter is very fluid and there is nothing to stop others from the Board or alumni from filing suits. Indeed, they will. They have made it clear that they will. Now, until this matter is adjudicated by the secular court, there is no solid legal ground regarding Erskine for anyone.
  7. Is there a source for the ARP Church to find the monies for the legal fees? Yes. Annually, the Board of Stewardship designates one-fourth of the budge of the ARP Church, that is, about $600,000, to Erskine College and Seminary. Until this matter is settled, those monies should be placed in an escrow account. Legal fees should be drawn from that account. If the court rules that Erskine is, indeed, an agency of the ARP Church, then the remainder of the monies should be sent to Erskine. However, if the court rules that Erskine is not an agency of the ARP Church, then those monies can be redesignated. At this point, why should the ARP Church give Erskine money to sue the church? At this point, why should the ARP Church pay both the plaintiff’s fees and the defendant’s fees? Erskine is attacking the ARP Church. The ARP Church is not attacking Erskine.
  8. Is there a Biblical issue for continuing to deal with the Erskine issue? Yes! Yes! The present situation at Erskine College and Seminary is the making of the ARP Church. What we see at Erskine is the result of our inactivity and failure to attend to the college and seminary. At this point, we must not be like Pilate and piously pontificate that this matter has nothing to do with us and then ceremoniously wash our hands of the matter as if we are blameless before God. We have a responsibility before God as faithful stewards of the household of God. Are we hirelings who run in the face of trials and difficulties?
  9. What can be done now? There are a number of things that can be done now. (1) The most obvious and yet most neglected is prayer. (2) Develop a keen sense of spiritual discernment. There is a difference between evangelical Christianity and moralistic, secular pseudo-Christianity. Similar words – like faith and trust and prayer and Jesus – are used by both. The problem is that the dictionaries are different. There are two dictionaries. The same words in many cases have not only different but contradictory meaning. Recognize this reality and get help with meanings. Remember that every thing that is yellow is not gold. Jesus said that there would be many who would say to him “Lord! Lord!” and he would reply that he did not know them. (3) STAY THE COURSE! It is STILL the privilege and the LEGAL OBLIGATION of the General Synod to appoint the members of the Erskine Board. Demand that trustees be appointed who give first loyalty to the ARP Church and the mission of the ARP Church for Erskine College and Seminary. Do not assume anything about appointees. Ask questions. Forty years of assuming that we were appointing “good” people has led to disaster. Ask questions! Demand accountability to the General Synod!

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

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  1. Chuck — as you know, I agree. No compromise.

  2. David Danehower says:

    Mr. Wilson,

    There are a number of issues that I’d like to examine and raise questions concerning your latest epistle (ARPTalk Extra 10). I’ll offer my points and questions in the order that you posed your own questions.

    First, you may be pleasantly surprised that I find very little to disagree with concerning the first three questions you raise. The Church has indeed only lost its first court appearance. It may well be that the appeal could be successful. Secondly, while I would disagree somewhat with your interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6, I am open to other interpretations, including your own.

    I would like to focus some time on Question #4, as you make a number of questionable assertions there. I apologize before hand for bringing up such a base subject as money. T start, could you explain to me where you arrive at the figure of $40M of investment by the ARP Church in the College over the last 40 years? I’ve been looking just a bit at the history of funding of the College and find that figure difficult to square with my own studies on this subject.

    While I await your reply, I’d offer the following repost: Would you not agree that there has been much “investment” in Erskine College by its Alumni? I will grant you that a number of these Alumni are ARPs. However, my best estimation would be that a significant majority of alumni who contribute to the College are non-ARPs. In 2009, Alumni giving totaled $2.9M, exceeding its giving goal by $900K. This occurred during the height of the recent recession! According to the minutes of the 2009 meeting of the ARP Synod, Erskine was provided with $586K, short of its budgeted amount of $617K. Further,aAre you aware that the Erskine Gold Campaign, completed with considerable help from Erskine alumni raised over $40M in endowment funds for the College?

    Much has been made of the Synod’s “ownership” of Erskine. Would the many non-ARPs who have contributed to the College over the last 170+ years be appreciative of that claim? This includes a number of large gifts for building construction and endowed faculty positions that have been made by non-ARPs. In a recent ARPTalk epistle you “admonished” (I am trying to be polite here) Erskine because it admitted Jewish and Muslim students to its Seminary. As you know, these students are there to be trained for service as chaplains in the US Military under an arrangement between the US Government and the Seminary. I think it provides an excellent opportunity for the ARP faithful to persuade others to their faith! Would you attitude about having Jews and Muslims in the Seminary have been different if you had been aware that a Jewish family, the Winstocks, had been amongst the earliest key benefactors of Due West Female College – the ARP women’s college that sat where “Women’s Campus” sits today prior its merger with Erskine?

    I would also have to disagree with you concerning your assertion that nothing can be gained from discussions between the Synod and the Erskine Board. If nothing else, these discussions might preclude the need for secular court actions. As you might expect, I do not agree with your assertion that the Synod is “under assault.” All that has occurred thus far is an injunction to block further action by the Synod following its own precipitous and ecclesiastically illegal actions against the BoT. Are not the Erskine Board’s By-Laws part of the ecclesiastical law of Synod? Were those by-laws, which describe procedures for due process in removing Board members, not violated by the Synod’s uninformed actions? Why are you silent on the breaking of ecclesiastical law, but so vocal concerning secular law?

    Nor is anyone attempting to “destroy the faith of the children that we have led to Christ and have sought to build up in the faith.” We are all trying to lead out children to a more Godly life! Do you believe that you and your followers are the only ones seeking to lead their children to Christ? This, Sir, may be the most egregious claim in your entire letter!

    Along the same lines, I would also like to gently reassure you that the vast majority of Erskine Alumni that you have described as “Baal cultists” are Godly Christian men and women! It is true that some of us do not hold the exact same beliefs as you or those who support your views do. Personally speaking, I thank God for that! But do not misread us sir, we are not “secularists”!

    You have urged your readers to read the posts on the Alumni for Erskine site. I urge them to do so as well! Let them read the letters posted on the Erskine for Everyone site:


    They may enjoy reading the great discussions that are occurring on the “Let’s Talk about Erskine and the Synod” site:


    Let them read a spirited discussion concerning differing views of evangelical faith:


    And on differing views on inerrancy:


    Yes, we alumni differ in our opinions with you and others, and yes, even with each other. We sometimes let our talking get ahead of our thinking and we may even get a bit heated at times! But we love God and we are striving to love one another as Jesus commanded. Contrary to your assertions, most of us are not saying that the Bible is a book of ancient myths and we are not trying to redefine what it means to be an evangelical Christian. Perhaps you are forgetting that there are many definitions of evangelical Christianity and many faiths represented at Erskine. Instead, it seems to me that you are trying to impose your own set of definitions here, definitions that would exclude many other faiths including those represented at Erskine and its Seminary. Indeed, apparently your definition would exclude many within your own faith!

    Moving along, can you tell be how you believe that “Erskine [is] dominated by evangelistic religious secularists?” Can you at least tell me what you mean by “an evangelistic religious secularist”? I couldn’t find a definition of this anywhere – it is a total oxymoron! Hummmm…… maybe you are letting your talking get ahead of your thinking as well!

    How is the current Board “non-functional” and the valiant Erskine administration that has been Christ-like in its attitude towards you an “imperial administration” that can do whatever it desires? They are doing what the duly appointed Board of Trustees has asked of them. I do have to say that your recent penchant for the use of terms of war in your blog are a bit concerning.

    Finally, for those who read your blog, here is what I would suggest they do “While Waiting on the Erskine Appeal.” They should ask their fellow ARPs who the Reverend Mr. Charles Wilson is and “where he is coming from?” They should ask themselves what he has written on his blog and why. And most importantly, they should ask themselves “Is this the kind of man we want acting, on his own authority, as a de facto spokesman for our faith?”

    I look forward to the courtesy of a reply,

    David Danehower
    Erskine College Alumnus

  3. JAY WEST says:


    I agree with one of your conclusions, the suits have probably just begun!