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I recently graduated from BJU after attending there 9 years ? earning my B.A. degree and two master?s degrees. While in their Seminary I made a decision to seriously examine the rationale behind the BJ mindset. It is no secret that BJU is its own unique sub-culture?. I would urge, in the strongest possible way, if you are considering enrolling as a student to please know what you would be getting yourself into. Read the stories of ?survivors? on the internet and look into BJ?s history. There has been a lot of noise regarding recent rule changes and a re-branding of their image ( ?New Creature Living,? etc.) but the heavy-handed attitude of the administration is absolutely unchanged. When you read their mission statement and the nine institutional goals on their website it sounds extremely appealing, many students on StudentsReview even support the school. Please do not take all this at face value. There is a rigid ideology here that is very damaging to Spiritual growth. Now, every student is different and, on a certain level, it is possible for some to breeze through four years of undergrad, take the rules in stride, make good friends and all ends well. But this still happens in an environment where it is the stated goal of the administration to utilize every means at their disposal to conform you to their way of thinking ( classes, chapel, dorm life, church, personal music choices, social interaction)??the administration is very intentional and very thorough. And what exactly are they trying to accomplish? They will tell you that it is to produce ?Christ-likeness? or ?new-creature living?, which sounds pretty good?..except it is really to their particular understanding of ?Christ-likeness,? which is really not Christ-likeness at all. This is because, practically speaking, they base Christ-likeness on a negative, the things you must not do (hence the BJ Handbook) and call it ?separation.? The Bible commands believers to separate but in the Bob Jones mindset ?separation? is the defining characteristic of the Christian from which they get their identity. So to them this means they have the freedom and responsibility to sternly regulate every aspect of the students life to keep them free of contamination (as they define it) with the world, the flesh and the devil. This understanding of Christianity is not Biblical or even historical but cultural and its ramifications are profound and life-altering. When you over-emphasize a legitimate command (Biblical separation) to the detriment of another Scriptural command (?maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? ? Eph.4:3) you are living a caricature. Bob Jones maintains unity only with those who share their cultural preferences regarding ?secondary separation,? which is another whole topic in itself?.. So how does all this philosophy/ideology affect your life as a student? Here?s a personal example: While working on my master of divinity degree I began listening to Christian Contemporary Music. I got to know bands like Third Day, Casting Crowns, Mercy Me, Newsboys and artists like Stephan Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith. God used these songs to encourage and grow my love and passion for Him and they supplemented my personal journey of understanding and experiencing grace. But I felt conflict because I had signed the handbook (a yearly prerequisite to being a student) promising that I would not listen to CCM. There was no question that these songs were God-honoring and helping me grow spiritually but there was always that tension in my mind and heart as long as I was a student and I even stopped listening to them for awhile. It became viscerally clear to me that, in a very practical way, God?s agenda and BJU?s agenda were at odds with each other (Acts 4:19) and I only finished my degree because I was already so invested. My question to you is, ?Is this the type of environment to which you want to submit yourself for 4 years?? Of course there are many other issues, like their lack of regional accreditation which makes it difficult for graduates to find jobs, or that BJU had a ban on inter-racial dating until 2000. Take these as warnings of the attitudes and mindset of the place. When I was a student I constantly heard conversations about the rules: what you could do, couldn?t do, the rationale behind the rules, questioning the rules, justifying the rules, how far you could go without breaking the rules?.the students were preoccupied with the rules and they still are because that is part of the DNA of Bob Jones, it is how they attempt to produce ?Christ-likeness.? But you only become like Christ by being preoccupied with Christ and He alone is the one who makes and daily keeps you righteous. PLEASE pursue your education in a grace-filled, Spirit-led environment and don?t be taken in by the spiritual sounding but empty promises of BJU.
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