Turn the Page

 

Dear Readers of ARPTalk,

I don’t know if Bob Seger wrote “Turn the Page,” but doesn’t he perform it well!? It is time now to TURN THE PAGE on the “Bill Crenshaw Era” at Erskine. The last chapter of this story has been written. The only dangling question that was left was whether Crenshaw was going to file a lawsuit against Erskine. The e-mail that was sent out last night from the Erskine Faculty Executive Committee and which is posted below settles that question.

The Faculty Executive Committee has met confidentially with President Norman and Dr. Christie concerning the termination of Dr. William Crenshaw’s tenured faculty appointment. From the information we received at that meeting, the FEC is satisfied that the College followed the procedures for dismissal as outlined in the College Faculty Manual (p.35-36), and that Dr. Crenshaw’s procedural rights have not been violated.

The Faculty Executive Committee
Brooks Kuykendall, chair
Naoma Nelsen, secretary
Gid Alston
Brad Parker
Steve Sniteman
.
(Mary Lang Edwards was unable to attend the meeting, and thus is not included in the signatures.)
.

The memo asserts that the “t”s have been crossed and the “I”s have been dotted in the matter of Crenshaw’s “termination.” Crenshaw’s attorneys have probably informed him that he has no hope in court. SACS is not going to be interested if the faculty is satisfied with the procedure. And who cares about the AAUP!

The letter that Crenshaw made public on Facebook from the AAUP to President Norman was fascinating in what it revealed. Indeed, it revealed that Crenshaw turned down two years of salary. That is, he walked away from about $140,000 plus benefits. Why would he do that? The answer is obvious. He could not sign the non-disclosure clause of the deal. He wants his freedom to talk and talk and talk!

As I have said, Crenshaw’s attorneys have probably informed him that he doesn’t have a case; however, there is a more compelling reason for him not to go to court. If he did take this to court, it would be publicly and clearly demonstrated that he was terminated from his position “for cause.” In other words, he would be discredited and the next page of the continuing saga of the life and times of Bill Crenshaw would be difficult for him to tell.

Well, what is the next chapter in the continuing saga of the life and times of Bill Crenshaw? Stay tuned!

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

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  1. Bobby Davis says:

    I know this off topic, but the new rankings are released from US News and report, here is the link to Erskine: http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/erskine-college-3432.
    Erskine is ranked as a National liberal arts college again, but at 141. Hpoefully that will imporve.

     
    • Scott Robar says:

      Bobby, that’s not off topic at all. Here is a school from which I graduated http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/cedarville-university-3025 I see that it is #3 in the Midwest. I don’t know how that compares catagory-wise with Erskine. I am sure that Cedarville is not without faults, but there is no doubt whatsoever that it is a Christian school. It calls itself a Christian school, and it is a Christian school. Erskine calls itself a Christian school, yet it has been unfaithful to its Christian mission. Dr. Norman is changing that for the better. He probably has many more battles to face. After all, Dr. Crenshaw was recently named Teacher of the Year by an Erskine College faculty vote.

       
      • Bobby Davis says:

        I agree with you that Dr. Norman is changing Erskine for the better. I am one of the few students that seem to still like him after he fired Dr. Crenshaw. Dr. Norman seems to have some support from some faculty, I know of at least 2 and hope there are more. Dr. Norman is doing something that should have been done a long time ago. I thank Dr. Norman for standing up to the liberals at this school and in the ARP. I want him to continue to make these hard choices,and make Erskine the Christian college admissions sells it as it is. I felt that Erskine was on par in being a christian college as Covenant College is because of what I had been told by admissions when I came here as a freshmen a few years ago. I continue to stay because I know the Bible department here is secure, and know I have faith that Dr. Norman will make Erskine more like Covenant, faithful to higher learning and the christian faith.

        Even if the ranking had gone down in the same category Erskine was last year, one can not measure the what Dr. Norman has done in making Erskine a truly Christian college by a rank. Being truly a liberal arts college is something Mr. Wilson has mentioned on here, instead of being ranked a baccalaureate school in the South East. I think it is a more prestigious category then being ranked in the region.

        In Christ,
        Bobby

         
        • Ax Dillingham says:

          You’re obsessed with making Erskine like Covenant. Why didn’t you just go to Covenant?

           
          • James Curtis says:

            Because Bobby’s an ARP, Ax.

            You, and others, are obsessed with making Erskine like Furman.

            Why didn’t you just go to Furman?

             
            • Ax Dillingham says:

              When did I say anything about Furman?

               
            • Bobby Davis says:

              To answer both of you. TO Jim, I am not ARP,I go to a PCA church right now. I do plan on joining it at some point. Not sure if during Seminary I will stay PCA. I might either become ARP,stay PCA, or become OPC. As of know I claim to be PCA, even though I guess since I do not have a clear view on infant baptism I am not fully Presbyterian yet.

              To ax I keeping mentioning covenant because it is a good example of a college that has maintained christian faithfulness and only lost some academic integrity. They have a high acceptance rate into grad school of their students that apply. But everything they do is taught from a christian world view, something I feel Erskine needs to follow there example in doing. I did go there because Erskine gave me money, and my family is still going through hardship, so I wanted to be close to home, not 4 hours away. That being said after being here I stay because I love Erskine to death, which is why I continue to fight for the Erskine I feel is best. I love the friends here, and feel it is a good college that is just going through a tough time that it seems to be recovering from at the this moment. I hope it continues to improve. I could leave, but I feel God has called me here, and wants me here over any where else.

               
              • Janis Cunningham says:

                Bobby, I just had to say that reading posts from students like you and Jim gives me a lot of hope for the future of Erskine! I pray that God will continue to bless the efforts of those who are trying to be faithful to the mission of the school!

                 
                • Bobby Davis says:

                  Thank you Ms. Cunningham, I appreciate the compliment, but I owe to God that I try to remain faithful to the mission. He led me to this christian college, and being put here by God I most remain faithful to him, and to his mission; which should be the mission of the school
                  There a lot of us here that agree with Jim and I, they just choose not to speak up. Sometimes its hard to speak in fear of offending some friends, I chose not to in till recently for that reason. I know now I need to stand up for biblical Christianity, even if I loose a few friends along the way
                  I am thankful people like you as well that support the orthodox, conservative Christians here at Erskine. Let us both continue what we do, and hope to make Erskine a better place.

                   
            • Anthony Navarro says:

              [Like]!!!!

               
          • Dear Mr. Ax Dillingham,

            I see that this is your first time on ARPTalk, Ax. Welcome!! Though I know who you are, why don’t you tell folks who you are? We have had some “Trolls”; we don’t want people thinking you are a “Troll.” If memory serves me well, I think I met your Mom while I was on the Board. I do remember news of her passing.

            BTW, you asked Bobby a good question.

            Since the article from which these comments flow is about Bill Crenshaw, I think your question certainly does apply to him. Have you asked yourself why he didn’t go to a college/university that was more in keeping with his atheism or anti-Christian mindset? I wonder why he was so “hell bent” on destroying Erskine as a Christina college?

            Is that fair to ask>

            Regards,

            Chuck Wilson
            ARPTalk

             
            • Ax Dillingham says:

              My name is Atkinson “Ax” Dillingham. I am not a troll. I’m tired of Synod trying to force their beliefs on students and professors at Erskine, and it kind of makes me mad when I come on this website and see people in a jubilant mood over a man losing his job.

               
              • James Curtis says:

                Synod is forcing their beliefs on students? How?

                 
                • Ax Dillingham says:

                  I said they were trying, not that they were. They have taken away student and alumni representatives from the BOT, and have been working with groups like SAFE to promote policies that put their fundamentalist dogma above academics and a loving Christian atmosphere.

                   
                  • James Curtis says:

                    SAFE doesn’t exist anymore, and Synod hasn’t done a single thing in classrooms to even remotely begin to force beliefs upon students. As a matter of fact, the Synod and her proponents have avidly fought against the idea of even beginning to think about forcing beliefs on students. The entire mess is on faculty. Don’t try your liberal sleight of hand to distract onlookers from what’s really going on, Ax. Synod doesn’t want to force any student to believe anything. I’m sad that you can’t see that.

                     
                  • Daniel F. Wells says:

                    Just for clarification purposes, since I know Mr. Dillingham does not intend to commit libel or tarnish the reputation of fellow Christians, SAFE (when it existed) was never contacted by the Erskine administration or Board of Trustees.

                    Also, for clarification purposes, it isn’t accurate to say that SAFE wanted to promote ‘fundamentalist dogma’ above academics. Unless Mr. Dillingham knows something that even I (an editor of SAFE) don’t know, I can assure you that SAFE did not seek to implement any sort of new ‘fundamentalist dogma’ in place of the policies at Erskine.

                    Again, I am willing to be corrected by Mr. Dillingham or anyone else.

                     
              • Dear Mr. Ax Dillingham,

                I see that you avoided my question. I’m disappointed.

                FYI, I’m not “jubilant . . . over a man losing his job.” I am, however, satisfied that a professor who has mocked the mission of Erskine as a Christina college and who has openly been insubordinate and disloyal to his employer is no longer employed by Erskine.

                For the record, I don’t think Dr. Crenshaw is too financially hampered by his early retirement. According to the AAUP letter, he walked away from an offer of two years’ salary. Most folks can’t walk away from at least $140,000 plus benefits. That’s not disrespect! One has to be financiall set to do that!

                As to the relationship between Erskine and the General Synod of the ARP Church, the last time I looked Erskine is still an “agency” of the ARP Church. Interestly, the ARP Church has asked nothing of Erskine that isn’t in the Erskine mission. How is it an imposition for the General Synod to ask and expect Erskine to be what the Erskine mission states?

                Regards,

                Chuck Wilson
                ARPTalk

                 
                • Ax Dillingham says:

                  I believe I answered your question sufficiently. Everyone knows my views and can rest assured that I am not a troll. I could give you a full biography if you want. And to answer your latest question, since the Synod has recently proven itself detrimental to academic well-being, I believe Erskine should cut its ties with it.

                   
                  • Bobby Davis says:

                    Have you asked yourself why he didn’t go to a college/university that was more in keeping with his atheism or anti-Christian mindset? I wonder why he was so “hell bent” on destroying Erskine as a Christina college? Those are the questions Mr. Wilson was talking about, and you have not answered those directly. I answered your question though, feel free to respond.

                     
                  • Dear Mr. Ax Dillingham,

                    I’m a bit perplexed by your response, Ax. I have re-read my comments to you and I don’t see where I asked you if you were a “troll.” As a matter of fact, I wrote that I knew who you were – an Erskine College student. For the sake of the readers, I asked you to tell folks who you were. Isn’t that proper etiquette? That you have done! Thank you!

                    Once again, the article from which these comments flow is about Bill Crenshaw. I posed a couple of questions to you about him. You have ignored those questions – so far! Are you going to continue to do that?

                    Ax, you write that your views are well known. I don’t know them. If I have read comments by you other that what you have posted on ARPTalk, I don’t remember them.

                    The relationship between Erskine and the ARP Church is what it is, and it isn’t going to change unless a decision is made by the General Synod to jettison Erskine College and Seminary. Erskine is an “agency” of the ARP Church. Complain all you want that the BOT has been reconfigured. I have never understood the need of a student representative. Why is the opinion of one who has never had a job, never given a dime, and is being paid to attend Erskine needed on the BOT? BTW, as a former member of the BOT, I am aware of the discount rate and the scholarship system.

                    Ax, you need to catch up on what I have written. Do you realize that we are agreed on one thing! I too want the ARP Church to get out of the Erskine College and Semianry business. BTW, if the ARP Church were to do that today, do you have any idea where you would like to attend college next?

                    Once again, in closing, WHAT COMMENTS DO YOU HAVE REGARDING MY QUESTIONS ABOUT BILL CRENSHAW?

                    Regards,

                    Chuck Wilson
                    ARPTalk

                     
              • Scott Robar says:

                Of course Synod wants the students at their school to have a world and life view which matches their own – that’s why any denomination starts and supports a school. Ax, you have probably been encouraged to believe the things that the ARP Synod believes; but “force”…really?
                No student coming to Erskine ought to be ignorant of the fact that the school is a Christian school, and more specifically, its denominational tie is ARP. That is an obvious distinctive of this school. You knew it wasn’t a Catholic school, nor was it Lutheran, or Baptist, etc. The faculty also knew coming in that the school is an ARP school. Why should teachers, employed by an ARP school, think that they may openly mock ARP beliefs? The man who lost his job was causing a lot of heart-ache for a lot of people, because of his mockery. Even so, he was fired for a different reason, if I understand correctly. It is never good form to celebrate too much – I’ll grant that.

                 
  2. Tim Phillips says:

    Chuck, I completely disagree. Bob Seger is overrated. The cover version by Metallica is far superior.

     
    • Dear Mr. Tim Phillips.

      You is from Dawg Land. You don’t know nothin’ ’bout musick and singin’!

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
      • Tim Phillips says:

        Chuck, I’m surprised at you. Ever hear of Johnny Mercer? Ray Charles? Otis Redding? James Brown? The Allman Brothers? R.E.M.?

        There was even a Georgia Music of Fame in Macon. It closed in June, though. Sad.

         
        • Dear Mr. Tim Phillips,

          You got me again! Still you don’t know nothin’ ’bout singin’! I have heared you sang! You can’t sang! I can’t be corrected on that!

          Regards,

          Chuck Wilson
          ARPTalk

           
          • Tim Phillips says:

            Chuck, this time you got me. I am a terrible singer. Still, I like to sing, and I also know a bit about music. Played the alto saxophone for many years. And even though I’m a bad singer, I know good singing when I hear it!

             
  3. Dear Messrs. Bobby Davis and Scott Robar,

    The point that I have often made is that during Dr. Randy Ruble’s presidency, Erskine lost the prestigious “Carnegie Liberal Arts” classification. The Carnegie classification was something to crow about!

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
    • Kevin Metz says:

      Dr. Wilson,

      Just a point about Erskine’s rankings. The new classification, as you might recall, is not all that much lower than the last time Erskine appeared in the National Liberal Arts Colleges section. In my estimation, I would rather be ranked in this category than be in with the regional group. It has been many years since the school has been ranked ahead of Furman, Wofford, PC, etc., but I would rather be competing with them for a spot in the rankings than be a “big fish in a small pond”. There are many more schools in this category than the one Mr. Robar mentions above; Erskine was fourth in the South in that same list last year.

       
      • Dear Mr. Kevin Metz,

        Thank you for your comments. Good to see you on ARPTalk.

        Basically, Kevin, I agree with you. The problem with these various ranking, however, is that often they have little to do with the quality of education that students receive. Often the focus is on money and salaries. In that case, Erskine is not going to do well. Remember, also, that these rankings are based on the information that an institution gives. Some folks may just be a bit more evangelistic in telling the story!

        The academic tragedy that I morn was the loss of the “Carnegie Liberal Arts” classification. That was special – the elite “pond.” Unfortunately, I don’t see any effort being made to regain that classification.

        I know you didn’t bring this us; however, I wish there was a “ranking” whereby to gage an institution’s faithfulness to its mission. I also wish there was a way to rank a Christian college/university on its faithfulness. Alas, that ain’t going to happen!

        Regards,

        Chuck Wilson
        ARPTalk

         
        • Kevin Metz says:

          I agree that much of the rankings are based upon what is supplied by the various institutions. Likewise, I concur that losing the Carnegie status was a shame.

          I am not an ARP, but I am a Christian and an alumnus of EC. I just want what is best for the school. I don’t necessarily agree with or completely understand all the changes being made at the school. However, I am optimistic that Erskine will survive and rebound from the current unpleasantness between the squabbling factions. We will see. In the meantime, I suggest we all pray fervently for the school and all parties involved.

           
          • Dear Kevin Metz,

            Well struck, Kevin! Well struck!

            With regard to the rankings, I really wonder as to their validity. There are too many variables and too much subjectivity on the part of the people doing the ranking. Well, we’re on the same page.

            I know that we are on different sides of most issues; however, thank you for your kindness and gentle approach.

            If you desire a thriving, faithful Erskine that embraces the mission, we may not be too far apart. If I remember correctly, the last words of Dr. Don Weatherman were: “Embrace the mission!” He was spot on!

            Kevin, you are MOST welcome to chat with me!

            Regards,

            Chuck Wilson
            ARPTalk

             
            • Kevin Metz says:

              Dr. Wilson,

              I have said some things perhaps more harshly than I should on the Facebook sites. In retrospect, I think a more civil tone between all parties involved in these issues would be best. Sometimes we are mistaken about the true beliefs and nature of an individual. For example, James Evans and Jim Curtis who have posted on here at first seemed to me to be totally off-base and just trying to pick fights with alumni. However, after private dialogue with them, I learned that many of their ideas are not without merit. We had to agree to disagree on some issues, but we have some things in common, especially our love of EC. I found that when I addressed them with respect, they responded in kind.

              I don’t foresee either the alumni or the church going anywhere. I have dear friends on both sides of the divide; some with mixed feelings over things happening at the college. I have some ARP heritage down the lines; some of my ancestors gave money to have Erskine locate in Due West (they were members at Generostee).

              My greatest fear in all of this is that the Erskine student body might become less academically qualified due to the reputation/perception that the school is in dire circumstances. Whether justified or not, all the negative talk surrounding the school cannot impact the school positively.

              I also worry that the student body will become overly homogeneous and lack diversity. While it would be wonderful for the world to embrace Christianity and for everyone to get along, this is not going to happen. To be properly educated, in my view, we have to learn how to deal with all sorts of people. Erskine really helped prepare me for my job as a teacher; I dealt with classmates from very different backgrounds. The students I teach today come to me from all sorts of home situations. I’m not saying I changed my religious beliefs because of Erskine; I was too grounded in them to do so. I’m not saying Erskine should go out and try to bring in all sorts of miscreants and immoral people. However, it is my belief that Christians need to embrace all sorts of people. Christ said himself, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

              Not saying the goal of the church is to require all students to be Christians, but if that is a part of its vision, I see it as shameful. The goal of the church should be to reach the lost and set a Godly example. This, in my estimation, is where some religious schools sometimes get off track. Rather than lovingly urging people to come to Christ, they bully them and condemn them without giving them a chance. I am thankful that God is not only holy and righteous, but he is also merciful and loving.

              Again, I am not saying the ARP denomination or Erskine students are self-righteous. I just think it is something we all need to take care not to fall into; the temptation to do so is great. It would be wonderful, to me, if the lost came to know Christ at Erskine—then it would be fulfilling an important part of its mission.

               
              • Dear Mr. Kevin Metz,

                Thank you for coming back for a chat. Bless your heart, Kevin, we are of the same tribe of the many words people. I’m not going to attempt to touch on all your points, but you have touched on one that is pivotal to the Erskine debate.

                However, before I begin, let me ask you a question. Where and what do you teach? I’m curious. In another life, I think I remember teaching too.

                The issue of the place of the Christian faith at Erskine College is what you touched on, and it is the pivotal issue. It is the reason for the debate – not inerrancy, not freedom of speech, not academic standing, not (fill in the bland) – they are peripheral. Thank you for seeing this. I have been waiting for someone to bring this up in a manner so that I could address it.

                Please, Kevin, forgive the many words that are going to follow. I will attempt to be brief; however, I’m usually not.

                Erskine as the educational “agency” of the ARP Church has been tasked with two responsibilities: (1) to affirm and promote the evangelical Christian faith of the ARP Church to the Erskine community; and (2) to embrace and execute high academic standards. Both responsibilities are equally urgent and ultimate. To hold one over the other is failure because Erskine is both an arm of an evangelical Christian Church and an educational institution. In fact, the Erskine mission states what I have just written. That is why Don Weatherman kept repeating: “Embrace the mission.”

                I’m not going to argue much that Erskine doesn’t do “good” education. Last year, nine students out of a graduating class of 90 or so applied to medical school and nine were accepted. That’s 10% of the class – that ain’t bad! This is a great story to tell about Erskine as an educational institution.

                Now, where are the stories for Jesus? Isn’t Erskine a CHRISTIAN College that embraces and promotes the evangelical faith of the ARP Church?

                BTW, to frame this struggle as alums against the ARP Church is a terrible way to frame it. There are many of us who are both alums and ARPs. But that’s another issue and I’m off task!

                Kevin, where are the Christian stories about Erskine? Where are the stories of people coming to faith in Jesus? Where are the stories of changed lives? Other than Bible classes (and this recently), where are the stories of profs challenging students to know and follow Jesus in Kingdom work? Where are the stories of administrators sharing their faith with students? Where are the stories of revival on campus? Once upon a time, such stories were recounted. Well, I think you get my point.

                You know, the “hell raisin’” stories are offensive to people of evangelical faith such I am who have given their money and encouraged others to give their money to a Christian college that was supposed to be advancing the Kingdom of Christ in education.

                Let me give you two examples of what I’m talking about.

                My first example is a comment from a Facebook site. Perhaps you read it. I have withheld the name of the author. I thank the man for his candor. He doesn’t play games. What he writes does not condemn every Erskine student; however, it is disturbing and should not be tolerated at a Christian college.

                ***************

                Point of clarification. The Erskine that I attended was an ARP supported school that was focused on high academic achievement and bringing in the best students from around the country and mixing them with ARP kids. We had Christians, Catholics, Jews and yes lots of atheists. We drank, we had lots of sex, (yes I said it,) some people did drugs and we played hard and studied hard. We had a mix of people from all over the country and world and the only thing that mattered was you stretched your brain. Of course we were intolerant of Chis, or Philos, or Euphies but a Jew was just a Jew and gay was just gay. Some of the best students were the ones doing the most drinking/sexing/freethinking but the idea was that you needed all of that to push people to open their minds. In my four years at Erskine, no one ever found my lack of faith to be, well, disturbing. Indoctrination and zealotry was what the seminary was for. My point is this; in the early 90s Erskine made a dramatic shift to embracing evangelism over intellect. I am sorry but you simple cannot believe in biblical inerrancy and creationism and then expect to have the best and brightest students in the country. You cant crack down on sex and alcohol and expect the best and brightest to put up with that for four years. Seem to me the ideal Erskine student already knows everything they need to know before they get there, they are just killing time waiting on a degree. There is a term for what Erskine students have now, it is an impolite term for a bunch of guys pleasuring themselves in a circle. Academics is a quest for truth, not a quest for conformity. God gave you a brain, man gave you a bible.

                ***************

                Kevin, is this why the ARP Church gives money to Erskine? Does this reflect the results of embracing the Erskine mission as a Christian college? Why should the ARP Church or any evangelical Christian want to invest in that?

                My second story is personal. It comes from the time I was on the BOT. I had a young friend who was a football coach and who had shown some interest in the Christian faith come to me and tell the following story. He and his girlfriend were at a bar in Anderson and an Erskine coed came up to her and “hit” on her in front of him. He then related the rest of the sordid story to me and asked me: “What kind of Christian college is Erskine?” Then when I related this story to a couple of Erskine administrators, I was told that they had a problem with lesbianism at Erskine. When I asked why they didn’t do something about it, they replied that they just couldn’t. “Why not?” was my question. The answer was that they would lose students and probably destroy a team. Good grief! Those administrators I talked with have no integrity as Christians. In my opinion, they betrayed threir calling and the trust that was given them!

                BTW, these are not isolated stories. These are the kind of stories that cause Christian parents like my wife and me to say, “Well, I’ll send my kids elsewhere.”

                Kevin, I have gone long. I’m going to stop here so that you can comment. We don’t need too many points at a time. It’s hard to manage. BTW, when you respond, would you mind responding at the bottom and starting a new section? This section is just about full.

                Once again, thank you for your response. I hope you don’t detect a sense of “bite.” I have been direct but there is no disrespect.

                Regards,

                Chuck Wilson
                ARPTalk

                 
  4. Kevin Metz says:

    Dr. Wilson,

    Fair enough; I misspoke when I labeled the groups ARPs vs. alumni. I was meaning the more vocal alumni group, which includes many who aren’t ARPs.

    Those seem to be the major bickering factions in this debate. I just wish there were a way for the two to actually sit down and talk. Much could be accomplished, I believe. Sure, we banter back and forth on Facebook sites, etc., but I’m not sure if that is the answer.

    I think in a way you hit on the truth when you said earlier that the two groups may not be as far apart as they might think they are. If we could all calm down and get together and just talk in a civil way, maybe things could change for the better. I know there are those who aren’t willing to listen or compromise one way or the other, but I believe the majority of Erskine alumni are intelligent people and good-hearted people. When something we care about is threatened, we sometimes come across in a way that seems harsh and uncaring.

    I also wish that Dr. Norman would issue a statement for alumni that truly outlines his vision for the school. I think some of us don’t know where he intends to steer the ship. I realize he has a welcome statement on the EC site, but a more thorough one could help people see if there is a great divide between the disagreeing factions or not.

     
  5. Dear Mr. Kevin Metz,

    Good to chat with you again! It looks as though we are the designated “talkers” at this party – at least for a while. Good! Let see what we can get done.

    Kevin, I don’t like the designations either. There are non-ARP alums who agree with me, and I can assure you that there are ARP alums who disagree with me. Neither the alums or the ARP Church is monolithic. But we need handles for identification purposes, don’t we?

    Thanks for your willingness to take this on one-point-at-a-time. We may not be brief, but the discussion should be more manageable.

    You mentioned Dr. Norman. Thankfully, I’m not authorized to speak for him. I will, however, make this observation. From my vantage point of 40 years, he’s the first Erskine President to take the mission seriously. He’s attempting to “embrace the mission.” He’s not giving “lip service” to the mission. Ruble, Carson, Stroble, Ezell, Bell did little more than give “lip service” to the mission. Most of those Presidents I names were opposed to the mission. Therefore, many of the alums are shocked by what Dr. Norman is doing. They have never seen this done! Some of the alums have seen the mission talked about; however, Dr. Norman has gone beyond talk. What a fascinating case study this will be if Erskine goes out of business because her President has done what he was hired to do – the unthinkable for many alums: embrace and implement the mission!

    Now, it’s time for me to stop and let you respond. In my long, long, long response to you, I actually hit on one matter. I don’t want to muddy the waters. I’ll let you respond to what I wrote. I hope you will address what I wrote about the “Christian” part of the college in that long, long, long response.

    Thanks for your patience and willingness to engage me.

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
    • Reiggin says:

      Rev. Wilson, I don’t mean to take the discussion off on a tangent but I’m curious. You listed the past several presidents and noted that most were opposed to the mission. I don’t doubt that point one bit. But as I said, I’m curious. From your time on the BOT and from following Erskine for the past 40 years, where do you see Dr. Carson’s legacy falling in all of this?

      I was a sophomore at Erskine when Dr. Carson was hired. At that time, most (of my peer students at least) considered him to be the start of a new direction. Dr. Strobel’s absence was immediately lamented by the left-leaning types; so much to the point of our class dragging him back to give the graduation speech. But looking back on it, I didn’t see any sweeping changes by Carson. Other than Jay West slowly getting pushed out during that time, nothing really gave way to a true adherence to the school’s mission. It felt “moderate” at best.

      I’ve read with great interest your take on Ruble and of course Norman. But again, I’m curious to here your take on Carson’s legacy.

       
  6. Dear Reiggin,

    Well meaning! A good game talked; however, no hit, no run, not throw!

    What do you see?

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
  7. Kevin Metz says:

    Dr. Wilson,

    I know that Erskine is much more conservative now than it was when I was a student there. While at Erskine in the early ’90s, there were “wet halls” for those of age. That is no longer existent. Also, from my understanding, the convocations/chapels are now much more of a religious nature than they were when I was at EC. There are more home-schooled students and as a whole conservative kids there now. As for administrators sharing their faith, I don’t know about all the ones you mentioned. I do sincerely believe Dr. Ruble is a Christian gentleman. I’ve seen by the way he conducts himself that he is. The way he treats others, at least from what I’ve witnessed is admirable. I’ve never listened in on his conversations with students about their faith, but I’d be willing to bet he has discussed spiritual matters with EC students.

    I’m not sure about stories of people becoming Christians at EC. Like I said, I think the college is more religious now than it was when I was at EC. In more recent years, I am assuming those students who led the SAFE movement would have been concerned about the conversion of others. What did they do to lead others to Christ? I have not heard of any religious awakening on the campus (as you said). I would think that one’s peers would have more influence than someone older. Were those who made all the noise about being dissatisfied with “the culture of intimidation” sharing their faith, or were they too busy finding fault with others? I truly don’t know the answer to that question. I know that when I was at EC there were several religious groups that met regularly, but as for conversions, I’m not sure. I do know that there were people willing to share their faith while I was a student there. I saw it firsthand. I even had people pull me aside from time to time and chide me for my behavior and things I did. At the time, I maybe didn’t appreciate it, but for the most part, I do now. I can think of quite a few people when I was there who led a very genuine Christian lifestyle.

    You may know more about what has transpired there in recent years than I do. Since I have not been a student or have not been on campus on a consistent basis, I cannot honestly assess the spiritual health of the campus. I can only go by what students and professors say. I think it is wise not to base one’s views solely on the opinions of a few people, though.

     
  8. Dear Mr. Kevin Metz,

    Thanks for coming back. On the basis of the “hits” that this article is getting, I think our conversation is being watched.

    First of all, in case I have given a wrong impression, I don’t think I have ever written or said that Randy Ruble isn’t a Christian. I have been very critical of Dr. Ruble as the President of Erskine, because it is my firm conviction that he neither embraced nor attempted to implement the mission; Dr. Ruble embraced “niceness,” implemented the status quo, succeeded in losing the classification of Erskine as a “Carnegie Liberals Arts” college, and turned Erskine into what amounts to a “jock college (nearly half of the students are on athletic scholarships).” Nevertheless, I also call Randy “brother.” It is possible to be pious in one’s Christian faith and also a failure in one’s job. Dr. Ruble is an example of that! As you intimate, his great legacy is that he was “nice” or “grandfatherly” to students. That doesn’t advance the mission of Erskine! This not about friendship or kindness; it’s about the welfare of an institution.

    Before we go much farther, in order to maintain clarity and keep our discussions flowing, we need to define a word. Kevin, what do you mean by “Christian?” The word “Christian” gets used in many ways; some that are antithetical to the Christian faith. If it will suffice with you, I will define “Christian” as “evangelical Christian” as defined in the Erskine documents. Unless we are clear on our definition, this conversation is going to stall. It is possible for our definitions to differ and we can continue as long as we are aware of the differences; however, we can’t talk if we don’t know what we’re talking about. That is, if I’m mean one thing and you mean another.

    Second, in your recollections of your days as a student at Erskine, you focus on what took place in the lives of students. That’s an interesting story. It is always heartwarming to hear that Christians are living faithfully and sharing the Faith with others. Nevertheless, this is not really germane. Students are not tasked with oversight and direction of the institution. Direction and temperature are set by the administration and faculty.

    Students come and go – they are temporary. The scrutiny is always on the administration and faculty. So the question is framed in this manner: What is the administration and what is the faculty doing to embrace and implement both the academic and the Faith of the Christian college – and at Erskine both equally comprise the mission?

    BOTH the administration and faculty in a Christian college are tasked to embrace the mission and the Faith of the Christian college in order to maintain and advance the “Christianness” of the Christian college. In fact, that is point of the Erskine mission, is it not?

    In a Christian college that has the mission and goals of Erskine College, both the Faith and the academic are equally valued and urgent. A failure on either end is a failure of the institution as a whole.

    An administrator or professor who takes the attitude of “I’m here simply to do my job as an administrator/teacher and not to represent or share the Christian faith” has betrayed his/her call to his/her job. Kevin, how is it that so many of the alumni have forgotten/ignored the fact that Erskine is an “agency” of the ARP Church and as such is tasked with advancing the cause of Christ in a similar manner as the local congregation? This is the point of this discussion – not something else!

    Let me finish today with one final point. Don’t assume that I’m preaching academic pabulum for students – nor assume that I’m advancing the idea of a glorified Sunday School. Anyone who knows me or experienced me in the academic world calls me a “hard-ass.” No one has ever called me “easy.” There are other words that were used for me. Indeed, I’m for very high academic standards and achievement. Well, we can talk about that later, can’t we? And I bet we will!

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
  9. Kevin Metz says:

    Dr. Wilson,

    I agree that it is not the student’s job to maintain the mission of a college or school, but certainly they are participants in the mission; otherwise, what would be the point of having one in the first place?

    What exactly do you envision a college president or professor doing to advance this mission? I don’t foresee their job to be a pastor. I think it is not a bad thing for employees of the school to share their faith, but I don’t believe that is what a professor is hired for. I think they should be a good example for students to follow and that they should expose students to the materials/curricula that will allow them to function in and meet the demands of living in the 21st century.

    Going back to Dr. Ruble, I am curious to see why you think he did something to lose this status. He was president for how long? What are the criteria for making it into the Carnegie list? Could it be possible that the individual prior to him could have contributed to this as well? Also, could the economy have impacted this? I mean, you have to admit, Due West is not attractive to all college-bound students, so that already decreases the pool of applicants. With the rising costs of tuition, room and board, etc., that has to make it difficult for Erskine to keep the numbers up and to attract the quality of student needed to maintain high academic rankings. When I applied to attend EC in 1990, 60% of applicants were admitted; now that number is up 15% and has been for several years. I know that selectivity is one of the criteria for many of the academic rankings.

    The quality of the professors is another facet used in rankings. I’m not familiar with who left and under whose administration they departed. I’m also not certain about the quality of some of the replacements.

    I don’t think not maintaining the mission statement in regards to Christianity cost Erskine the Carnegie recognition. Likely, some of the things I mentioned above had a part in losing that distinction.

     
  10. Dear Mr. Kevin Metz,

    Thank you for your comments. You have some very insightful points. However, before we can go much farther, we need to stop and return to my question about the definition of “Christian.” I gave mine. So, please, how do you define “Christian”? Our definitions are going to direct our discussion from this point.

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
  11. Kevin Metz says:

    Dr. Wilson,

    Sorry I failed to answer you question last time. I would define a Christian as someone who has accepted Jesus Christ as his/her Savior, and based on that decision, has a relationship with God. Christianity is about that relationship and the growth one experiences through life. I don’t think there was anyone ever perfect, except Jesus, so I don’t expect Christians to be perfect. This person would be led by the Holy Spirit to live a life that is pleasing to God.

    I recall Jesus telling one of the Pharisees that the two most important commandments were 1) To love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and 2) To love your neighbor as you love yourself (maybe not quoting verbatim). Therefore, I think if we want to live a Christian life, those two things are essential…all the other things we need to do will fall into place if we observe these two.

     
  12. Dear Mr. Kevin Metz,

    Thank you, brother. Well struck!!

    Remember, I am a professional theologian. I don’t want to make this complicated; however, I have one more question.

    The person who has put his/her faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, as that person lives out his/her faith under the sovereignty of King Jesus, are the various commandments (Biblical term) and directives/instructions (my language) of the Bible obligatory to that person too? Jesus had a great deal to say that is not contained in the “first and greatest” conversation. Paul and the other writers of the NT had a great deal to say about living “Christianly.” I would also hasten to say that much of the OT is still obligatory (for example, the Ten Commandments). So, are we agreed?

    Kevin, I’m not being pedantic. There are many today who want a truncated Jesus. That is, they want a Jesus who makes no demands of their lives. In theological terms, they want an antinomian form of Christianity which is FALSE Christian faith. Another way of putting it is: they live like hell and expect Jesus to give them a pass because they have believed (whatever that means). Let me also add that the expectation here is not perfection but an obedient and faithful living out of one faith.

    I haven’t forgotten what you have written to me. In our next chat I will be able to get to what you have asked. Whatever your reply, I will be able to respond. I pray that you agree with me.

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
    • Kevin Metz says:

      Dr. Wilson,

      I do not think that we have a free pass to live just any old way and do what we please. That would constitute not pleasing God. I do, however, believe that all Christians don’t necessarily have to believe exactly the same things, i.e.,inerrancy (depending on how it was defined). To me, the Bible was inspired by God and written by man over a long, long time period. There are things in the Old Testament, such as having many wives which didn’t fit with New Testament teachings. However, I don’t have an issue with those things. If read in the proper context, I suppose those differences could be explained by societal/cultural changes. That we do agree on certain important issues is important…that Christ is the Messiah, that he is the only way to God.

      I did things at Erskine that I should not have done as a Christian. At the very least, I know I was not always a good witness for God.

      My argument is not that Erskine should allow immorality to flourish, but at the same time, its rules should not make it become like a Bible college or have so many rules and restrictions that it won’t be able to uphold the excellence in academics part of its mission. I don’t think morals can be dictated. I think having convocations and sermons is fine and in accordance with the standards of the school and the church. I am also not an advocate of having every professor believe exactly the same thing. If someone out and out attacks a person’s faith and ridicules/degrades the individual, then I don’t think he/she should be allowed to teach at EC. However, to debate and question religious matters is important to my way of thinking.

      Enough now. I will await your response-especially the one about the president’s role. I know you addressed this earlier, but you didn’t get specific. What would you have professors and the president actually do and say? How would their behavior differ from what professors do at other schools and at EC now?

       
    • gary r freeze says:

      Chuck: as one of Kevin’s former EC professors, and someone who was raised an arp, let me help him. the fact is you care more for calvin then you do christ. the curt and unchristian snipping that you do about people like john carson and others who come out of that long tradition of moderation that is part of the scottish discourse is about as far away from the spirit of bonclarken as anyone i have ever encountered. i wish my faithful synodical mother was still alive to call out your mccarthyesque approach to charity and tell you shame. that is the whole problem with the interloppers who have taken over what was once an excellent denomination and turned into their bully pulpit for their own anticharity agenda. what’s the difference? there are arminian christians, there have been since the days of geneva, and there is no evidence, none whatsoever, divine or otherwise, that suggests that they are less likely to go to heaven then you are. you can huff and puff all you want, but it is not irresistible grace people like kevin question, it is the resistance to your attitudes. it is one thing to be as liberal as bill is and react as he has to the transformation of erskine, it is another for the likes of you to claim you are really arp talk. this is as far from the presbyterianism of my grandfather and father, both new perth elders, as one can get. the lord implied that you can know the evil when you hear the hissing and boy did you hiss when responding to the real arp talk of ms. grier holmes. you too should define your terms. all this listening to what the bible says is as much the debate between the two sides–the real twoedged sword–as anything else. that is what we really wanted to do at ec, teach believers that they could find strength in the tensioning of their faith. your iron age christianity needs a touch of the steel of your own impurities.
      gary freeze

       
      • Dear Mr. Gary Freeze,

        Thank you for your comments. However, I’m most perplexed by them. Mr. Kevin Metz and I were engaged in a very civil conversation. He treated me with respect and I returned that respect. He was clear and blunt and also respectful. I returned the kindness.

        I have no idea what you mean by the Calvin and Arminian issues. I haven’t opened up a debate on those issues in ARPTalk – ever!

        I find it interesting that you identify me as one of the “interloppers” [sic]. I don’t know how old you are, but I may have been an ARP longer than you are old.

        Sorry I gave you such heartburn; however, I do respect you for standing up for a former student. As a former teacher, I admire that. Nevertheless, I was kind to Kevin. What not? He was very kind to me!

        Regards,

        Chuck Wilson
        ARPTalk

         
  13. Dear Mr. Kevin Metz,

    Please accept my apology for being so tardy in getting back to our conversation. I had some wood that needed splitting, and today was splitting day. I hope there is enough left of me to think.

    Your comments muddy the waters a bit. The issues of polygamy, inspiration, and inerrancy can be held for another day; what we’re dealing with is far more basic.

    My point is that the Bible is authoritative in that it is in the Bible that we are told both what to belie and how to live. What we believe and how we live are not things that we invent. We get them from God through the Bible. You did not say that exactly; however, you did imply it. Therefore, I’m going to assume that we are agreed. Let me know if we’re not.

    Since I am going to address a goodly number of points, I am going to number my points. Maybe that will help us keep up with my thoughts.

    1. Erskine is not a state college/university, nor is Erskine a private college/university. Erskine is a private Christian college that is an agency of the ARP Church and is tasked in two areas: the academic and the religious. The language that is often used is combining high academic standards with faithful Christian teaching and moral integrity. Well, that’s the ideal.

    2. Now, at this point, I’m going to leave the academic issue alone. I have no problem acknowledge that Erskine’s academic reputation is well known. We can moan and groan about “academic standing” and other such matters; however, at the end of the day, Erskine does good education. Let us wish for better. As a bit of an elitist, I would advocate for more rigorous standards. This, however, has little to contribute to our discussion. Therefore, as to your question regarding the Carnegie Liberal Arts classification, I’m going to let it rest – if it’s okay with you.

    3. A follow up question to the above: at the end of the day, if Erskine does the best education in the world and fails to tell the student about Jesus, has Erskine been successful? I think Jesus had something to say about gaining the world and losing one’s soul!

    4. One of the obviously things that many of the alums ignore is that Erskine IS an agency of the ARP Church. All agencies of the ARP Church are tasked to represent and promote the faith and morality of the ARP Church. In point of fact, all that the ARP Church is asking of Erskine is to be the ARP Church in higher education. That past administrations have failed in this does not negate the mission. It only spotlights the failure and faithlessness of those administrations.

    5. Kevin, I’m puzzled by the canard of the Bible College. I don’t get it. I don’t want Erskine to be a Bible College, but what is this fear? Have you ever been on the campus of one of those Bible Colleges like Toccoa Falls College, Columbia International University, or Moody? Those people do excellent education. They have high academic and moral standards. They are prospering and don’t lack for students. What’s the fear? It seems unreasonable to me. If you compete with them, you may find that they can hold their own with you – yes, and some can’t. You will also find out that they know how to deal with “the real world.”

    6. In the last 40 years, would you give Erskine high marks in representing, teaching, and advancing the Christian religion and life? How is it that so many of the alums seem to “hate” the evangelical Christian faith of the ARP Church? From their conversations on FB and elsewhere, it seems that is what they learned at Erskine. I can assure you that was not the goal of the ARP Church for Erskine.

    You asked me how an administrator or prof could represent his/her faith in the classroom. I will use a personal illustration from Clemson University. Several years ago I took a grad class in counseling. The prof was an evangelical Christian. Several times during the course, the prof would say, “Guys, you know who I am. On so many of these things we’re talking about all I’m doing is describing disorders and telling you how to put band aids on them. The religion of Jesus Christ has some help for you if you’re willing to explore . . .” That at a state school and no one seemed traumatized! Is that too much to ask of profs at Erskine? Can they even do what that man did?

    7. Kevin, I agree with you. Morality can’t be imposed; however, in the environment of a Christian college moral standards can be established and expected. No one is required to attend Erskine. It’s a choice. Interestingly, those institutions that have high moral expectations for their students, usually get what they expect. I think we can agree that Erskine’s record in this area is not sterling. BTW, it’s the same with academic standards!

    8. Kevin, you asked about challenging beliefs. I have no problem with challenging; I have a problem with attaching beliefs at a school that exists to promote the Christian faith. Why? Because it violates the mission. It’s a breech of trust. Simply put, it’s immoral. The prof who does such a thing has broken his/her word. The prof wasn’t made to be there. Why would the prof want to be there unless the prof has a mission of destruction. Forgive me it this seems very black and white. It is!

    Once again, I’m long. Let me encourage you to ask specific questions so that I don’t ramble. The problem is not you; it’s me.

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
  14. Dear Mr. Kevin Metz,

    I hope that the reason that you haven’t responded to my last post is because you are busy. That happens, doesn’t it? I hope you have not decided that our chats are unproductive.

    If you have decided not to continue or conversation, I want to thank you for your kindness and time. Sir, it was a pleasure.

    If Kevin has finished his conversation with me, does anyone else wish to continue it?

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
  15. Sue Clayton says:

    Mr. Wilson,
    I only recently became aware of this whole debacle, but I would like to comment on your last response to Mr. Metz. Even if we disregard all the reasons Erskine exists, Dr Crenshaw is guilty of insubordinatin. No one can expect to continue to hold a job when he is actively sabotaging the reputation of the company he works for. An engineer at GM would be removed if proven he was recommending to his family and friends to stay away from GM products; If an employee where I work is found to be encouraging our customers to boycott our business, they would be shown the door. Why is Dr Crenshaw the exception? Because this thing called “tenure” makes him exempt from the basic laws of employment? I think not. Everyone knows Erskine is a conservative Christian school and that is one of the decision points for considering Erskine. No one is forcing a student or parent to consider Erskine, and certainly the cost of an Erskine education isn’t causing anyone to say “I don’t agree with the Christian principles of Erskine, but it’s the only school I can afford.” Whether we agree with the Christian principles or not, the school must stay true to its selling points, which includes these Christian principles.

     
  16. Dear Ms. Sue Clayton,

    Thank your for your comments. Thank you for bringing the discussion back to the focus of my article.

    I think this is your first time to make comments on ARPTalk. If it is, let me welcome you. If you respond again, would you mind introducing yourself a bit?

    Of course, you’re correct in what you write, Sue. The “tenure union” does not give a professor permission to do and say whatever he/she wants. There are boundaries. It is difficult to “fire” a tenured professor; however, a “tenured professor” can be “fired” for CAUSE and according to procedure. Dr. Crenshaw was terminated because of what he DID; not because of what he TAUGHT in a classroom. That is very clear from the information that is coming out of Due West. There is a reason that the Faculty Executive Committee is supporting President Norman’s actions.

    The brouhaha by the AFE and AFIE alums has developed because Dr. Crenshaw is their “champion,” and they cannot accept the fact that he did something that was worthy of being “fired.” They have chosen to be ignorant of policy and procedure. The issue is emotional for them. There is no/little reasoning with them. Their minds are made up; don’t confuse them with the facts!

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     

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