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 The Triumph of Theology Over Tradition

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Join date : 2008-03-12

PostSubject: The Triumph of Theology Over Tradition   Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:57 pm

My thanks to Faust over at O.D. ~Jimbob

The Triumph of Theology Over Tradition
November 3, 1999
by Dennis Wheeler

The president of Bob Jones University – Greenville, South Carolina – Dr. Bob Jones III has issued a definitive statement on the Confederate flag controversy in his state in which he has come out for removing the battle flag from atop the State Capitol. This is a sad day in the history of South Carolina and a sad day in the history of Christendom. It is also further proof that ultimately, theology will triumph over tradition. And in this situation, an examination of the theology of Bob Jones III is in order to find out why he has been forced by his own beliefs to turn and take sides against his ancestors and their noble cause, as well as siding with the enemies of Christianity in this crucial battle.

The Tradition:

As I recall the story, the father of Bob Jones, Sr. was a Confederate soldier who fought against the Union at the Battle of Chickamauga. Soldier Jones was wounded during the fierce battle. He was dragged from the field of battle to safety by a friend named Robert Reynolds. Since that time, the Bob Joneses – Sr., Jr., III, and IV – have borne this man’s name as Robert Reynolds Davis Jones. Robert Reynolds being their Confederate ancestor’s war buddy and the name "Davis" coming from, who else, Jefferson Davis.

Bob Jones University has always been a repository of Confederate ideology. Indeed the great moral maxim of the school: "Do right until the stars fall," is simply a rephrasing of Robert E. Lee’s maxim: "Duty is the sublimest word in the English language."

The school has always been a bulwark of moral decency; it has lost its tax-exempt status because of its refusal to allow inter-racial dating; in short, it has carried on the Southern tradition while almost all other institutions in the South have "given over" and sided with the Yankee invaders.

This is the tradition. Now, Bob Jones III has turned his back on it. The Bible tells us: "Remove not the ancient landmarks." And while we are not to worship our ancestors, when they have done a good thing and stood for a good doctrine, we are not to turn against them for purposes of expedience and personal ease. But Bob Jones III has ignored this teaching of the Bible.

Let’s examine his theology and see how he has done this.

The Theology:

In his article to The State – Columbia, South Carolina’s daily newspaper – Bob Jones III begins with the timid statement: "It is probably time to take down the Confederate flag flying over the State House."

I think he knows he’s walking on very shaky ground from the beginning and finds it impossible to make a bold and forthright statement. And so he tells us that it is "probably" time to take the flag down.


By contrast, he next gives us a very pointed statement with no equivocation: "Slavery is indefensible." This is the crux of his error. And although he gives no support for his perspective, words mean things and we must take him at his word.

Concerning this, let me say that Dr. Jones has it all wrong. Slavery is not necessarily the evil involved in the transaction. Sin is the evil – transgression of the law of God. Slavery is a God-ordained temporal remedy for sin in some cases.

If slavery is indefensible, then it is very curious that when the slaveholder asked for his slave to be healed in Luke 7, that the Lord Jesus Christ did not criticize him for being a slaveholder but instead referred to him as a man of great faith.

It is also curious that the Apostle Paul gives guidelines as to how Christian slaveholders are to treat their slaves and how Christian slaves are to treat their masters. I can’t imagine Paul telling Christian men how to treat their mistresses or telling Christian mistresses how to treat their married boyfriends.

It is also curious that God would order the slave Hagar to return to Sarah, her master, and that the Apostle Paul would sent the slave Onesimus back to his master, Philemon.

But these curiosities don't result from inconsistencies in the Bible; they come from juxtapositioning the teachings of the Bible with the erroneous pronouncements of Dr. Bob Jones III.

Dr. Jones is in error on a crucial matter related to the Confederate flag. He has taken the Yankee view on the moral question in back of the flag flap and this has ultimately led him to take the Yankee view on the flag question itself.

What we should be asking is this: "What false doctrine does Bob Jones III believe that would lead him to take a position on slavery at such odds with the teaching of the Bible?" Dr. Jones has claimed allegiance to the Bible for so many decades. Why has he now publicly contradicted it relating to an issue of such vital public interest? These are the things we need to know.

We’ll let Dr. Jones give answer as to what his beliefs are that led him to this conclusion. For us, it is enough to know he is in error because he has taken a position against the one taught in the Bible.

States' Rights

This helps us understand the following statement made by Mr. Jones in the article: "To me, the Confederate flag is a proud symbol of states' rights, which I believe is the core issue of the War Between the States, not slavery. However, for those who believe the war was primarily about the ownership of slaves, and are the descendants of slaves, I can understand why they argue that the flag flying over the Capitol, which is theirs as much as mine, should not be there."

Southerners calling "states’ rights" the issue of the war, rather than addressing the ultimate moral question of slavery, has been a problem for Southern apologists for more than 100 years. Indeed Robert Dabney complained about this behavior in 1867: "Southern politicians usually satisfied themselves with saying, that the whole matter was, according to the Constitution, one of State sovereignty; that Congress had no right to legislate concerning its merits; and that therefore they would not seem to admit such a right, by condescending to argue the matter on its merits. The premise was true; but the inference was practically most mischievous.... A moment’s reflection should have shown that the decisive question was the abstract righteousness of the relation of master and slave." (Defense of Virginia and the South)

The problem the South had in the last century with arguing "states’ rights" was that if slavery was a moral evil, then "states’ rights" was being used to perpetuate an evil. The problem that Dr. Jones has with such an argument today is that he is failing to contradict the moral arguments of the South’s enemies and Christianity’s enemies. Having already taken the position in contradiction to the Bible that slavery is wrong -- indefensible -- he is now saying there is no abstract moral issue involving slavery that surrounds today’s flag controversy.

But there is. The opponents of the flag realize the issue full well.


By his statement, ".... the Capitol, which is theirs as much as mine," Dr. Jones is acknowledging the finality and inevitability of multiculturalism, the very thing his ancestors fought against. We’ve had a moral, religious, theological, social, and political revolution in this country. The Confederate battle flag stands as a reproach against the revolutionaries. Dr. Jones is now acknowledging our final defeat in this revolution. He is not even willing to fight for a symbol of our struggle against the infidels.


Dr Jones continues: "At this present hour in Sudan, Christians are being sold into slavery by the Muslims. I'm sensitive to the plights of fellow Christians there and would be offended if South Carolina's government officially displayed an emblem associated with Sudan's slavery."

Dr. Jones is wrong here because his perspective is not what it ought to be. As Christians, we are to take offense at those things, and only those things, that give offense to God. Hear me now. Neither I as an individual, nor Dr. Jones as an individual, has a right to decide what things are offensive and unfit for public display. The things that are offensive and unfit for public display are those things that God finds offensive and unfit for public display.

And while the slavery of Christians by Muslims in the Sudan is unwarranted, Dr. Jones makes no distinction between the things that offend God and the things that offend him. He has evidently bought into the philosophy that the individual is the supreme law-giver. The will of man is determinative in public discourse and public display. Therefore he bestows on descendants of American slaves the right to determine what things are offensive and unfit for public display.

The contradiction of his perspective is easy to see. For if we should not allow the public display of emblems associated with slavery merely because some find it offensive, then we shouldn’t allow the public display of nativity scenes if non-Christians find them offensive.

Of course, the logical corollary of such a perspective is that all viewpoints are equally valid. Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Humanism; all must be considered equally valid if the individual’s preferences are the standard for public displays. Dr. Jones cannot escape the logic of his statements. For words mean things.

His error is that he is reckoning by the wrong standard.

Societal Duties

Dr. Jones continues: "The Bible speaks against giving unnecessary offense. If the flag, where it is, is an offense to some, their feelings should be addressed. I don't agree that the offense of slavery is represented by the flag, but in the biblical spirit of "in honor, preferring one another," let's take it down."

By these words Dr. Jones magnifies his error for all to see. The Christian religion provides for Christian people to act within a society according to different spheres. This is done in accordance with one’s station in life and, in particular, one’s station in regard to the issue at hand. For instance, when a Christian sits on a jury and hears evidence of a crime perpetrated by the accused, it is not within his right to forego judgement because he thinks the accused’s "feelings should be addressed." That is an immediate perversion of justice.

Neither is it within the prerogative of the executioner to behave toward a condemned man with the Biblical injunction "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and set him free.

The individual does not have the power of the sword to use against evil doers. For him to do so is itself a sin. The state does have the power of the sword to use against evil doers. For the state not to use it is also a sin.

So there is a difference to be made between our actions as individuals and our actions in our capacity as citizens of the state exercising political power or civic duties. Dr. Jones is mistaken in his use of the Biblical principle he uses.

Dr. Jones’ statement means that the feelings of the flag’s opponents are to be given greater consideration than the ordinance of God. The Confederacy was a Christian society and way of life. It stood for Christian principles. It is under attack today by the forces of Humanism, who hate and despise every symbol and precept of the Christian religion. It is the duty of the Christian to stand against the attack of the enemies of the Christian religion.

Their feelings are irrelevant. And so now we see Mr. Jones’ doctrinal error concerning slavery coming home to roost. He is in error concerning slavery. He is in error concerning the standard upon which public policy is to be decided. And now he is in error regarding what weight to give to the feelings of individuals relative to what weight to give to the ordinance of God and the Kingdom of God.

Our Challenge

Here the words of Martin Luther from the 1500s: "If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Wherever the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved. And to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point."

The South is under attack today; and at this moment the attack is centered on the Confederate battle flag flying atop the South Carolina State Capitol. To fight our enemies on every point except this one central point is not to fight them at all.

The American version of Humanism holds that mankind evolved from inanimate objects and that he is here to get along as best he can unaided by any revelation from any deity. It also holds that the ethnic differences among mankind are caused by different geographical locations of evolution. Its answer is to bring all of mankind together and create a unified mankind in which all can work together for a world of security and prosperity.

The concepts of sin, accountability to God, adherence to the ethnic divisions God has made among mankind, the objectivity of truth, the exclusiveness of truth as obtainable only through the revelation which God has made to man, and several other important doctrines of the Christian religion are anathema to the Humanist in America.

All symbols of the Christian roots of American society and culture are under attack. The Confederate battle flag is the one they hate the most. This is the one being attacked today in South Carolina. For Bob Jones III to throw in with the enemies of the Christian religion on this crucial and vital issue is reprehensible and indefensible.

This statement by Bob Jones III is demoralizing to the good people of the South. It is demoralizing to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Error and false doctrine always have a negative effect on the people of a society. He ought to resign his office and apologize to those people who have supported him and the university all these years.

Update on Dr. Bob Jones III

The opponents of the Confederate battle flag were indeed able to get it removed from the State Capitol in Columbia. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Bob Jones III appeared on the Larry King Show to announce that Bob Jones University was doing away with its rules against inter-racial dating.

We know the teachings of the Bible did not change. We also know that Bob Jones University had always defended its prohibition of inter-racial dating from the Bible. Therefore we must conclude that Dr. Bob Jones III and the other policy-makers at Bob Jones University have changed their attitude toward the teachings of the Bible.

Now that the left realizes that Dr. Bob Jones III is no longer their enemy but is ready to "play ball," we see that Larry King has now called on him to come back on his show and give his perspective on the situation involving Congressman Gary Condit and the disappearance of Chandra Levy. In fact, he's becoming a regular on Larry King Live.

The left realizes that, having given up his opposition to racial integration, Dr. Bob Jones III is no longer any threat to them. They are gladly willing to throw him a bone now and then that will help the enrollment at his school, now that they believe nothing harmful to their agenda will come from that school.
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