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March 15, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Steve Pettit begins a series entitled “I Believe,” with a message titled “The History of the BJU Creed.”
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Every school day travel is a time for the students to gather together around God's word through faithful preaching and teaching the students are challenged to know love and serve God in the sermons preached from the chapel platform today on a daily platform will begin a study series based on the creed that students recite each day in chapel services. This creed is a formal summary statement of foundational truths and summarizes the doctrines of our Christian faith. Today's sermon will be preached by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University helping us understand the history of the creed. Our doctrinal theme this semester is actually working through the Bob Jones University creed and so as we come to our Wednesday chapel hours we will be working through the creed and the statements of the foundational truths of our Christian faith, which really what our creed is all about.
So this morning in light of the creed I'd like to just sort of spend some time talking to you today about the creed and how it came to be and why it is so important to us and why we would take a whole semester to study it. Have you wondered why it is that we say the creed every day in chapel.
Yes, I know that they'll be some days that you'll say though creed and have no memory at all of what you said.
I get that.
Or if you're like me, I always stumble over certain phrases in the creed like the regeneration through the Holy Spirit and somehow it just comes out not right when I say it, but there's a reason why we say it every day and why it's a part of who we are. When I came to Bob Jones to be the president heard lots of suggestions regarding chapel.
Some of them were actually regarding the saying of the creed. So I do subsequently decided to take some serious time to really think through and study the history of our creed. Why was written in the viewpoint of our founder Dr. Bob Jones Senior and then as I did that I began to realize how massively important and how big a deal. The creed really is because the Bob Jones University creed is not really on the same par as many of the other things that we do here at the University I can say this way from the level of importance.
The Bob Jones University creed is actually the single most important thing that we have here at the school now not talking about the Bible, God's word on not talking about you as an eternal soul and just talking about the University. It is the single most important thing that we have here because everything else that you see here on campus one day and inevitably will not be here buildings that will not be here certain majors that will not be here certain activities that we have are certain things that we own, but the Bob Jones University creed is something that is permanent and will and it will literally outlast the University because the Bob Jones University creed is foundational in core to who we are.
That's our identity and what we do, that's our activity, so I just ask a number of questions this morning that I try to answer with regard to the creed and first of all, let's just begin with a basic what is agreed.
A creed is a formal summary statement of Christian belief. So, it's what we believe putting a package of creed is authoritative as it accurately summarizes the teaching of the Bible which is its primary purpose, so obviously the creed is not Scripture but what it says about Scripture than is the truth.
Creed's being a summary, therefore, are relatively short in length. So throughout church history there have been creeds like the apostles Creed which is 113 words or perhaps the Nicene Creed, which is 218 words or the Bob Jones University creed which is 97 words many churches, many denominations and institutions have said creeds for years so this is not uncommon. The church I attended as a boy growing up would say the apostles Creed every single week and though I was not a Christian at the time. I am very grateful that I began to learn the gospel truths through the creed and I didn't believe it, and stars.
Faith is concerned, but inevitably I came to believe it. So saying, the creed is historically not an unusual thing.
So that leads me to the second thing that is is what makes the BJ you creed so unique about think in order to understand the creed you really need to understand our founder Dr. Bob Jones Senior his background and history and the times in which Bob Jones University was started as a school in 1927.
Throughout history, many, many universities were founded as Christian institutions. But over time they left their theological roots and they drifted into liberalism or secularism or the denial of the Scripture and they denied the fundamental truths of the Christian faith. So schools like like like like Harvard or Yale or Princeton. Princeton was known as a revival school.
It was a school for revivalist Yale had students like Jonathan Edwards and Timothy Dwight who attended their and many other schools like that and so when Bob Jones University was founded in 1927. It was actually during a time of intense conflict between two groups, those who are theologically liberals and those who work and who are called fundamentalist and they were founded in many different denominations, so it could have been Baptist to commit method is to condemn brethren to commit Presbyterians.
It could be variety of denominations, but all the denominations were struggling between theological liberalism and what we call fundamentalism German rationalism had influenced the American seminaries in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
And so the battle raged within these mainline Protestant denominations in the United States and these two groups came out of that.
So what was the fundamentalist fundamentalist was what we would call an evangelical Bible believer who believed in the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith the things that we confess in our creed so they were called the fundamentalist. The liberals were those who basically moved away from the foundational truths of the Christian faith, and they began to forsake the supernatural aspects of our faith that the things that we say in our creed. Think about our creed and how much of the supernatural. Do we confess every day like I believe in the inspiration of the Bible that supernatural the creation of man by the direct act of God that supernatural the incarnation and virgin birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Those are supernatural acts. The atonement of Christ on the cross for the sins of mankind. One man who died for all the new birth.
That's a miracle to the regeneration. So what were really doing.
Though we may not recognize it when were saying that we are actually confessing our belief in the supernatural and God is revealed himself so Bob Jones Senior was living during that time and he saw the negative effects of liberalism within his own denomination for Bob Jones Senior was a Methodist and Bob Jones Senior saying it's a fact. Over time, had no patience and toleration for doctrinal liberalism, and he also had no patience for the denominational hierarchy that would run the organization and they would lead it into liberalism.
So when he founded this institution. He wanted a creed that since that was a start that was that was the foundation that would clearly state the fundamentals of the Christian faith. So what were these doctrines well. There was actually some disagreement over maybe one or two but basically the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith are centered around these things. The verbal inspiration of the Bible, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ his vicarious sacrificial atonement on the cross for our sins's victorious resurrection from the grave and then is visible return coming back. The second time the obviously there are elements in our creed that different, but those are the basic fundamentals people even if we stay true to this to a sound creed, then the school would stay true to its Christian faith and would not doctrinally compromise and fall into error. So, Dr. Bob wanted to write the creed by he struggled in putting it all together so the creed was actually written by a good friend of his.
His name his name was Sam small Mr. small was a journalist for the Atlanta Constitution. He was visiting Dr. Bob Senior in his office one day before the college was started and Dr. Bob asked if he would help them write the creed so he sat down and on the back of an envelope. You know how we ride on the back of it were sitting in the dining common and we did take a nap get a ride on that same kind of thing. He sat down and wrote out the Bob Jones University creed and he inserted it into the college charter so let me read for you.
The charter of Bob Jones University. The general nature and object of the Corporation shall be to conduct an institution of learning for the general education of youth in the essentials of culture and in the arts and sciences, giving special emphasis to the Christian religion and the ethics revealed in the holy Scriptures combating all atheistic, agnostic, pagan and so-called scientific adulteration's of the gospel unqualifiedly out farming and teaching the inspiration of the Bible. Both the old and the new Testaments. The creation of man by the direct act of God, the incarnation and virgin birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ his identification as a son of God, his vicarious atonement for the sins of mankind by the shedding of his blood on the cross, the resurrection of his body from the two his power to save men from sin.
The new birth through the regeneration by the Holy Spirit and the gift of eternal life. By the grace of God and then it concludes this charter shall never be amended, altered or changed as to the provisions herein before set for the charter with the creed reveals the uniqueness of the University. The creed tells us our identity as believers, here's what we believe and what is the core of our beliefs so you can say this, the Bob Jones University creed is essentially a historic fundamentalist confession you see it all in the creed. And as far as I know Bob Jones University today is the only Christian university in the world that daily affirms a creed so it's a big deal.
So that leads me to the third thing and that is why we say it every single day that we don't have to save everyday we decide every Monday and every Thursday.
Begin the week and the week with it. We could do that only give you a couple reasons why believe it's important that we say it on a regular basis.
First of all, for the sake of permanence.
Would you agree with me that we are living in a world today where everything is changing.
Five years ago was a long time ago.
However, God's truth is changeless and the truth that is in this creed is changeless. I came to Bob Jones University as a student, 40 years ago for years at a long time ago. As with the children of Israel did in the wilderness is how long 40 years ago and 40 years ago we said the exact same creed we said this morning. They made as a blessing. Do you know how many things have changed it. Bob Jones University since I came in, circa 1978 a whole lot of things, but there are some things that have not changed at all. They are permanent, everything in the creed was written for succeeding generations. Nothing was put into it that had to be adjusted in the future because it's outdated all Bible believing born-again people will be able to agreed with the creed. What you going to disagree with.
If you're Christian big these truths are essential to the faith and they are necessary for salvation.
We call these primary truths when schools changed in the past.
Somebody made a decision to change something was given something somebody was appeased.
Something was adjusted. Nothing in this creed needs to change. We can be flexible on some things, but we must be inflexible on these things. Therefore, saying the creed daily recognizes the permanence of the truth that is in the creed. If we continue to believe the truth of the screen and the school is not going to drift in the theological compromise. For example, we require every professor to sign a statement that they believe the creed for example we have here at Bob Jones University.
I believe personally, my dismount. Personally, I think we have the greatest science department in the and I say that without hesitation. We have at least 23 PhD's in our science department.
They have degrees from all over the world, but they could not work here if they didn't believe the creed and a part of that creed affects them. That is, they believe in the creation of man by the direct act of God, give a professor in science here about two University believe that evolution is a fact or feet tall that it was an option to believe something different concerning origins, then his employment would be terminated immediately. Bob Jones University believes that God created the world in six literal days that position today is called a young earth position.
I didn't know what young earth men. All I knew is I believe God made the world in six days and not just because Genesis 1 and two say it because it does say it would also exit chapter 20 verse 11 Moses testified that God made the earth in six days. So as important, so this is a permanent creed that is to never change. Fact is, if it ever change in the school bylaw could be legally closed. Listen to what Dr. Bob Jones Senior said on March 2, 1950 in a chapel here. He said the charter was so written that any student in the school could come in to this community under the law and close this school bylaw.
If you ever permitted this creed to be repudiated at the school. If you repeatedly repudiated and change it. You can close this institution. So why do we say the creed every day. Well, we don't say it. Just so you won't forget it, but that's important because repetition is a key learning and not basically. So we hope you will believe in the we hope you believe it, we say it, because the creed is fundamental to who we are. We are believers. This is our identity. This is what we believe change this and everything has changed so we say it because of permanence, but there's a second reason is really important and that is for the sake of unity, you know, we have people that come to Bob Jones from all kinds of different backgrounds.
We say the creed. Every day we are actually unifying the student body. Dr. Bob Joe seniors evangelist held lots of evangelistic campaigns with different denominations cooperating together for the purpose of advancing the gospel so he would go into a community and he would have Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and they all basically believe the same truths of the gospel.
Though they were different, and secondary and tertiary issues. So, Senior wanted a creed that would unite and not divide Christians. He wanted something that we could agree upon.
He maintained a nonsectarian approach throughout his career and was determined that the college should not overemphasize any scriptural interpretation that he saw as divisive.
He wanted to unify Orthodox believers around the fundamental precepts of the word of God.
Therefore the school bought Jones was founded as a nondenominational. It was actually at the time an interdenominational institution that could be supported by all Protestant denominations who subscribe to the fundamental truth of the Scripture as they are stated in the college creed. Different denominations were represented in the faculty and declared that the denominational integrity of every student would rate remained unchallenged.
Fact is, Dr. Bob said we would not ask students coming to Bob Jones from different denominations and traditions to change the denominations. Fact is, back when services were held here on campus for many years.
On Sundays students actually went to Sunday school and they had to go to the Sunday school class of their denomination because he believed something this report it and I want to emphasize this he believed in the possibility of denominational cooperation without organic church union. He said we can have true church cooperation without church union. You said what you mean by that is basically saying this if your Baptists stay a Baptist.
If you're Methodists you believe what the Methodist believes they have Methodists because you put a method as in a Baptist side by side and basically the creed that we confess they believe that.
So where do they differ they do different secondary issues. Third level issues.
There was nothing wrong. Dr. Bob said, with different groups who had different convictions about things.
Dr. Bob Singer said that he saw this as a way to keep things right. For example, he said if Baptist believe that the church is going liberal, they can go and start another church that is true to the faith and Baptists are good at that do you know that there are almost 700 Baptist churches within a 35 mile radius of this campus back is everybody down here is bad to six of those got messed with. So I mean everybody is when Dr. Bob Singer spoke about unity. He was not speaking about organic unity. He didn't believe in bringing churches together to make one great big church. He believed the unity of the church was not found in one church but in all the churches that love the truth. Each group has its own convictions summer pre-male summer mill. Some follow the Westminster confession of faith. Some follow the New Hampshire Baptist confession of faith. Some are Calvinists summer more Arminian.
Some believe in deep water baptism. Others believe and sprinkling some believe in one pass or some believe an elder rule in the church. Some use the King James version. Others use a modern translation. This is what Dr. Bob Singer believed he stated this and I think all Protestant denominations are called into existence to underscore something that should be_but all of them are built upon the same essential foundations of the Christian faith, and I made up my mind that the school could be built that would appeal to all evangelical Christian groups. If we would stick to the fundamentals.
I don't want to divide God's people.
I want to unite them on the essential fundamentals of the faith he believed the evangelical Christians were not a divided Army stick to the fundamentals don't try to underscore something that some special group underscored. He said that them said that most people that divide God's people are people that underscore something that may have a place but it's not supposed to be underscored so example here Bob Jones, there's no problem if you hold a different view about something that's okay but if you push your view on everybody else they wouldn't have a problem and that was core to our mission. So when the school was founded.
Dr. Bob Senior was determined to have a creed which all Christians could agree to a creed that will all will allow us to work with people who are different because he said we should go as far as we can on the right road and what is the right road. The right road is the gospel. Now let me make it clear that the founder did not believe that we should talk cooperate with anyone in remote religious matters who deny the creed we do not give Christian recognition to those who deny the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Furthermore, were not going to cross cooperate with any Christians who give Christian recognition to those who deny the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith would not going to cooperate with liberalism or those who are cooperating with liberalism were going to take our stand. Finally, let me say this though, we firmly believe I creed is not the only thing that we believe because Bob Jones is always had. Historically, some clear distinctives. For example, one of our distinctions is this.
We do not operate under the control of any religious denomination.
No one group is controlling Bob Jones University. No church body were an independent school operating under a Board of Trustees. Let me also say that historically we have been identified with fundamentalism. Why, because fundamentalism was a militant side of evangelical believers and we made a commitment to the truth and to take an aggressive stance against religious liberalism of his liberal working to be against. Let me also say that within American church culture Bob Jones University has always been educationally and socially conservative.
So we we happily promote that where conservative institution where conservative in our worldview.
Our education is with a biblical worldview. We have a BJ you press that reaches into 1 million students live with a biblical worldview and academic excellence. We also believe in a conservative viewpoint of life. I believe if you take the Bible for what it says you're going to come out a a particular kind of a person I think is very clear from Scripture when you look at the ethics of the Scripture. This is for all people in all cultures, and so were going to tend to those kinds of things I I think is very clear here Bob Jones we are. We're very conservative in our music approach and we should be and we find there are a large number of students that come to Bob Jones because of these distinctives.
These were the things that made the difference in a student coming to Bob Jones in the past and that's good because there should be a school among Christians like Bob Jones University where believers with shared convictions can calm and learn and grow. No one should ever ask Bob Jones University to change its convictions simply to attract more students are uniqueness is found in our distinctives, but let me say this when it comes to our relationship with other believers. It can be on various levels. I think we understand we can we can have unity and the essential things and we can be different in nonessential things and are working with people or are cooperating with people may may be that we may not work with certain things simply because we feel like it may be a compromise of our conscience, Presbyterians, and Baptists are not to work together all the time civic is likely got differences okay great.
But how do they treat one another.
They treat one another with us with respect and when they can work together they should work together for the sake of the gospel. We should be strong in what we believe and at the same time we should have a spirit of charity towards all believers and we should cooperate with them as long as we can in a good conscience for the sake of the gospel and the testimony of Jesus Christ. The finish this morning. This is a statement that I heard as a student when I was here 1978. It was from our president at the time Dr. Bob Jones the third. I went on to look this this statement that he gave that has been credited to to a variety of people, one being the famous theologian, Augustine. However, whatever you do more study you find out more details. This was a statement that came from a German Lutheran theologian during the 17th century. His name was Rupert to smelled Aeneas is not very well known, but he may road a phrase that occurred in attract Christian unity written around 1627. During the 30 year war. 30 years war, a bloodied time in European history in which religious tensions played a significant role in here's what he said that thanks very very helpful. He said in essentials, we should have unity and nonessentials. We should have liberty, and in all things we should have charity. That's why we have a creed. Father, thank you for what we have learned and Lord help us to live consistently in help us to live with charity.
Help us to live with conviction. Help us to do the right thing on a daily basis and help us to most importantly adventure gospel in Jesus name, amen. You been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Steve Pettit about the Bob Jones University creed, which is a summary of the doctrines of our Christian faith.
Thanks again for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we continue to study here on The Daily Platform