Doing the Math on the Louisiana College Debacle
Written by Pastor Jim Law
Two months ago I expressed my deep concerns on the Louisiana College situation and how it threatened to derail us off mission as a convention (Here) . It has been my prayer to have a tone and attitude that is measured, irenic, and hopeful in accord with the counsel of Proverbs 18:13 which instructs that, “He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.”
However, as I write today on the eve of the Louisiana College Trustee meeting much has transpired and been reported to the public regarding the turmoil at Louisiana College. With the collateral damage that has occurred in the last two months, it is hard not to conclude that the present situation is an “epic fail” in leadership on a number of levels.
If we begin to do the math on how much the Louisiana College debacle has cost us to this point, the comprehensive losses are catastrophic. I have spent some time today praying for each of the trustee members by name that they would no longer be “three against two” (Luke 12:52), but united for the purpose of making some hard decisions tomorrow. And with those decisions, may the Trustees give a full reporting to the convention of churches to whom they are accountable.
From my calculations, this present conflict has cost the following to date:
IT HAS COST US TRUST IN COOPERATIVE WORK
I would begin with the loss of trust. The present situation at the college has not been handled forthrightly. When the trustees insist on having consecutive executive session meetings accompanied by public disclosures of deception and volatility, confidence is deeply shaken. When you have Board members like Tony Perkins who is arguably one of the most trustworthy leaders in Louisiana, a godly man who has served in our Legislature and now serves as president of Family Research Council, calling for integrity and transparency among board members, it raises major questions to those of us outside the deliberations of the trustees.
The events of recent weeks have strained the fraternal efforts of cooperation among Louisiana Baptists. This matters greatly to me and the church I pastor, First Baptist Church Gonzales. Our commitment to the Cooperative Program has ranged from 18%-20% of our undesignated receipts over the last 25 years. A substantial line item in the Louisiana Baptist Convention CP budget is allotted to Louisiana College. With the events of the recent days, our leadership has prayerfully begun the process of reallocating this longstanding commitment.
IT HAS COST US THE SLAUGHTER OF THE CASKEY DIVINITY SCHOOL
In the last few months, we have watched a young, fledgling divinity school have the life knocked out of it. With a generous pledge of $60 million, the excitement was great at the launch of the Caskey Divinity School that it would grow and thrive in fulfilling its mission to train pastors and teachers. However, with great sadness, we have watched it implode in recent weeks. The first development occurred when the teaching contracts of three professors at the divinity school were not renewed, and this done without explanation. While it has been argued that such action requires no explanation, such decisions have not fostered confidence in this case. From my observation, these teachers were caught up in the vortex of a theological smokescreen within our denomination. I have argued from the very beginning this conflict was never about theology, and that is still my contention.
A second development was seen a couple of weeks ago with the departure of Dr. Charles Quarrels who accepted a position at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The loss of this gifted leader, scholar, teacher, and administrator seemed inevitable with the uncertainty of the situation at LC.
And finally, we have read in different avenues of news, the loss of $55 million (the remaining balance of the initial pledge) in future support to the Caskey Divinity School. The donor claimed breaches of integrity for the withdrawal of support.
In processing all of this, do we really want to blame the Calvinists for this one?
Do we really want to blame the bloggers for the dismantling of the Caskey School?
IT HAS COST THE COLLEGE IN PRESENT AND FUTURE STUDENTS
Just this morning I spoke with a friend who sent their daughter to LC last year to begin her college education. He expressed to me that they will be transferring her at the end of this semester because of lingering SACS concerns and the present tumult.
On a personal note, my son Daniel received a $3,500 scholarship to Louisiana College on Saturday through the Louisiana Baptist Convention Bible Drill ministry. Now honestly, under the present circumstances, why in the world would I want to send him to Louisiana College? As someone who has supported the college faithfully through these years, this grieves me greatly.
I know these examples are anecdotal, but I would argue this represents at least two such students. Is it a stretch to claim that others might be thinking this way as well?
MOST OF ALL, IT HAS COST US OUR WITNESS TO A WATCHING WORLD
When we find ourselves in the carnal camp of denominational warfare and carnal strategies are employed, Jesus Christ is never honored. My appeal to the trustees of the LC Board is to seek the face of God and be willing to do the hard things to get us back on the road to Great Commission pursuits. Leave your pride at the door. End the secrecy surrounding your deliberations and by God’s grace right this ship.
For those of us who are watching, may we intercede for the Trustees as they meet tomorrow and may the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable to our great God and Savior. He is a God who is famous for restoring what the locust of our sin has destroyed, and may He be please to do immeasureably more than we can ask or think.
I conclude this post the same way I did two months ago. In a time when battle lines are drawn and love is frayed, let us remember the words of the Lord Jesus who said the world would know that we are followers of Him by our love one for another. If we don’t get that right, than our cooperative labor will be nothing more than a noisy gong.