Extra #11 – The Scandal of Erskine – A 21-Gun Salute!

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There are many words in the dictionary that can be used to describe the situation at Erskine College and Seminary. What is the best one? “Scandal” is a simple word, and the simple word is usually the best. “Scandal” is defined in this manner:

“A publicized incident that brings about disgrace or offends the moral sensibilities of society and the outrage or anger caused by such an action or event.”

Yes, “scandal” is THE word – “THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE!”

Indeed, Erskine is a public scandal in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in general and particularly to the ARP Church. Below are some reasons why the Editor writes of THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE. This article brings together just a FEW of the scandal-worthy things that have taken place. Please, forgive the random order of the listing.

  1. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a Board of Trustee (BoT) that is in open defiance of and rebellion against the ARP Church that appointed it. It is a scandal that trustees who have given their word of support to the ARP Church refuse to follow or implement the directives of the ARP Church. It is a scandal that some of these trustees (David Chesnut, Scott Mitchell, Richard Taylor, and Parker Young) have taken the ARP Church to civil court in order to contravene the decisions of the General Synod concerning the college and seminary.
  2. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is an administration that, for more than 35 years, not only ignored, but subverted, the mission of Erskine College and Seminary. The mission calls for Erskine College and Seminary to be distinctively evangelical Christian. No competent person who understands what an evangelical Christian is will call EC/ETS distinctively evangelical Christian.
  3. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is that the BoT has, year after year, misrepresented the situation at Erskine College and Seminary to the General Synod in the BoT’s annual reports to General Synod.
  4. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a tenure system that promotes RIP – “Rest in Place.” The Editor encourages the reader to consult the “Erskine Report” in the various Minutes of General Synod. Where are the academic accomplishments? Where are the books and papers published? Yes, there are lists for the seminary faculty (this year), but where are the lists for the college faculty? Indeed, there are some who are busy working and publishing, but they are scant. Clemson, for example, has a five-year tenure system. After five years, a faculty member’s tenure is reassessed. At Erskine it is RIP!
  5. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a faculty that very largely rejects the faith of the church that they were hired to promote. In a sane world, the BoT owns and operates Erskine College and Seminary in trust for the ARP Church. The faculty members of Erskine are not a law unto themselves. The BoT and administration on behalf of the General Synod of the ARP Church have hired them to promote the cause and welfare of the ARP Church. In essence, they have become the dog who bites the hand of the man who feeds the dog.
  6. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a President who uses bifurcated disingenuousness in dealing with a personnel issue. Publicly, President Ruble speaks well of Dr. Bill Crenshaw; however, privately, with others, President Ruble speaks of the embarrassment to Erskine that Dr. Crenshaw is and of the long record of complaints against him. Alas, according to President Ruble, it is too difficult and expensive to remove Dr. Crenshaw because he threatens lawsuits. How pragmatic of Dr. Ruble . . . and how disingenuous! What of the lives and minds that Dr. Crenshaw is being allowed to influence and intimidate in and out of the classroom? Is it too expensive to remove a deleterious influence from the classrooms of our sons and daughters? How shortsighted! Such unwillingness and disloyalty to sworn responsibility have lost the loyalty of ARPs who now will no longer even consider Erskine for their children.
  7. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is an Executive Vice President of Erskine Theological Seminary (ETS) who systematically misrepresents his institution to the Church. Why is it that Executive Vice President Gaston continues to insist that all the faculty members at ETS affirm the inerrancy of the Bible? Numerous times he has publicly written or stated this. The most recent affirmation by Executive Vice President Gaston was at the March meeting of General Synod. Dr. Gaston handed the Editor a report with this assertion. After the report was handed out, he asked that it be taken up because, as he said, the report had not been approved by the BoT – an inexplicable oversight! (There are, however, copies of the report available.)
  8. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the misappropriation of money given for one thing and used for another. President Ruble, on the floor of General Synod last March, awkwardly explained that the sum was not $1,000,000 but only 900-and-something-thousand-dollars and the affair was just an accounting error. Such misrepresentation is scandalous!
  9. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the BoT’s electing President Ruble to the office of President of Erskine College and Seminary by ONE vote.
  10. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the Chairman of the BoT, Scott Mitchell, launching a lawsuit against the ARP Church and then withdrawing it and, thereby, costing Erskine at least $50,000 in legal fees.
  11. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the Erskine College Faculty’s voting Dr. Bill Crenshaw the Yount’s Excellence in Teaching Award for 2009/10. Those of us who are older remember Dr. Younts. This award insults and betrays his high Christian ideals. The millstone to the left is the Editor’s award for Dr. Crenshaw and the Erskine faculty. See Matthew. 18:6.
  12. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the Chairman of the BoT at this year’s college graduation calling President Ruble “one of the great Presidents of Erskine” when the divide between the ARP Church and Erskine has never been so great or contentious. Frankly, Dr. Ruble’s Presidency has greatly exacerbated the divide between Erskine and the ARP Church. One wonders what Mr. Mitchell’s criteria for greatness are? Are they mediocrity and rebellion and doubletalk?
  13. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the fiduciary IRresponsibility of the BoT and administration in allowing Mr. Woody O’Cain to overspend somewhere between $600,000 to $850,000 in the recruitment of, that is, the buying of, last fallʼs freshmen class. Sadly, as far as anyone knows, Mr. O’Cain has not been reprimanded for his spending spree. One wonders, how much has he spent to get a class for this fall?
  14. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a HALL OF SHAME of Erskine BoT members, administrators, and alums either filing civil court actions against the ARP Church and encouraging others to do so: Randy Ruble, Neely Gaston, Jay Hering, Richard Burnett, Michael Bush, David Chesnut, Richard Taylor, Bob Elliott, Parker Young, Scott Mitchell, Lee Logan, Wes MacAlister, Gid Alston, Bill Lesesne, Jay West, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (see http://www.ecfoundation.net/.)
  15. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is an academic Dean of the College whose only academic achievement appears to be nationally recognized as an expert in jump rope. And no, the Editor is not making this up!
  16. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the takeover of the seminary of the ARP Church by two PC(USA) ministers who have not been able to find academic employment in PC(USA) academic institutions and who have publicly and defiantly rejected the stated position of the ARP Church on the authority of the Scripture and have attempted to remake the seminary in the image of their aberrant theological constructs.
  17. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the number of ARP ministerial candidates who, in good conscience, will not attend ETS – even when the tuition is free.
  18. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the number of ARP parents who, in good conscience, will not send their college students to Erskine College – even when the discount rate is much decreased.
  19. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is an administration that cheerleads for the legal efforts against the General Synod and solicits money to pay the legal costs of the lawsuit against the ARP Church. Many alums on Facebook are boasting of the contributions they have sent to Erskine for the DEFENSE FUND. None of them has reported that their gifts were sent back to them!
  20. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the singing of the hymn “The God of Grace and Glory” by Harry Emerson Fosdick. Fosdick was a spokesman for outright theological liberalism (he denied the Virgin Birth and the deity of Christ) during the Fundamentalist/ Modernist Controversy during the 1920s and a leader in the fight against the orthodox cause. One of the ETS administrators was overheard gleefully saying that he liked the hymn because Fosdick was the one who wrote the sermon “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” One wonders, did this individual choose that hymn for the ETS graduation?
  21. THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a college student’s filing charges with SACS regarding the continuing “culture of intimidation.”

In conclusion, THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the ARP Church for not addressing these matters with dispatch and resolution. Today, May 21, 2010, the BoT has elected Dr. David Norman the fifteenth President of Erskine College and Seminary. From all reports, Dr. Norman is very capable and his election is to be commended. However, in order for THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE to be corrected, the task of reclamation must begin with the General Synod of the ARP Church. Without the vigilance of and the unalloyed support of and the prophetic voice of the General Synod of the ARP Church, Dr. Norman’s task will be needlessly onerous. If the General Synod of the ARP Church is not willing to give such support and expect reciprocal support, then THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE will continue simpering along like a shallow stream.

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

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  1. Howard Carlson says:

    Brother Wilson, I am a “seasoned” Bible Presbyterian educator and have looked upon Erskine with great interest and hope. Your revelations have been most informative but distressing. I believe the conclusion of your article on “The Scandal” is true when you point out “THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the ARP Church for not addressing these matters with dispatch and resolution.” We are praying for the ARP, that you be zealous to make Erskine worthy of it’s glorious history and name. The interests and consequences lie far beyond what is presently obvious. Howard Carlson

  2. Brook-shire says:

    I don’t think that EC was absent of christian virtues. There ‘were’ and are people in positions of authority who lack them. In terms of a ‘cloning mechanism’ of ‘fundamentalist dogma’ perhaps the editor’s past comments have been right that EC has been a machine of mediocrity. I seriously doubt the ARP is fundamentalist in their beliefs they are too much like the PCA to be like BJU. That Westmyman is a the true misrepresentation.

  3. Mike Deegan says:

    Mr. Wilson,
    You’re doing a great job.
    Mike Deegan

  4. Brook-shire says:

    Dear Tunafishmakemystomachhurt,

    You seem passionate to contrast the legacy of EC chaplains–and quite frankly, you are right! However, most folks who know the situation are fully aware of the shame that came upon the chaplain’s office. They are also more than likely aware that student services actually picked up the slack where a chaplain was needed. I would not have been as honest in the explanation as you. Mr. West is a nice person who was confused in his calling. Perhaps, that was why Johnny Carson promoted him to a Vice President’s position. (Then, again if you are confused about calling—or indeed, incompetant you serve Erskine as an Administrator.) whatever the case might be, it is not fair to attack a person on hearsay.

  5. Cullen Phillips says:

    It is our heritage that all colleges go from order and high Christian ideals to chaos and liberalism. Erskine is just another victim of the synods lack of proper oversight, lack of interest in investigating rumors, and overall hands off approach to dealing with Erskine. Over the years we have occasionally elected the wrong men to serve in various synod, presbytery, church positions, in addition to positions at EC. These men were elected for various political or economic reasons, or in the worst case, because no one else will do the job. It is we who are guilty of not doing our job, not volunteering our time, not giving to our church, not supporting our missionaries, all because we are selfish. The sabre rattlers and town folk with their pitch forks and torches will not storm the gates of EC. Why? Because they are all cowards wanting to fight with their pen. If you are so upset with BOT at EC, why are you not picketing the entrance? Why are you not traveling to every ARP church with the message of EC failures? It is typical in our church and our society to have peaceful and amicable change. Christ died a brutal death. When we become a Christian, there is a radical change in us. There is no compromise in the Christian life nor should there be with the teachings at EC and ETS. Get off your duff, put down your pen and do something. The only scandal is the countless lazy Christians unwilling to do anything.