Bible-believing Christians of all generations face unique cultural pressures. Like no time in history, our culture is wrestling with the use, misuse, and abuse of addictive substances like alcohol, medical marijuana, and prescription drugs and opioids. This is one of the most significant issues that Christians must wrestle with today, particularly in the university setting.
As an orthodox, historic fundamentalist, non-denominational Christian liberal arts university, Bob Jones University has taken a consistent stand for complete abstinence from the use of alcohol since our inception in 1927. It is the University’s position that total abstinence from alcohol usage is crucial to the believer’s unhindered and unobscured testimony—in the home, among fellow believers in the church, in the workplace and in society at large. Due to the modern rise in the usage of other addictive substances, this statement furthers the application of our position.
The Bible contains many warnings on the use of alcohol and teaches the need for discernment (Prov. 20:1; Prov. 23:31–35; Prov. 31:4; Rom. 13:13; Rom. 14; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; 1 Cor. 8; Gal. 5:19–21; Eph. 5:18; 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7; 1 Pet. 2:13–17; 1 Pet. 4:3.) This biblical teaching, with clear application to addictive substances, coupled with the reality that alcohol and drug-related problems pose a major threat to college students, calls us to exercise care and wisdom.
The University does not allow the use, purchase, sharing, or possession of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, any illegal drug, or the recreational use of any drug, misuse of legally prescribed medications, or use of synthetic street drugs or medical marijuana.
Bob Jones University believes that the Christian is called to a life of growing conformity to the image of Christ and that the improper use, misuse, or abuse of alcohol and other addictive substances hinders this conformity and growth in personal holiness. Anyone violating this position will face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal or suspension.
Bob Jones University holds to the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible in the original manuscripts and that God has supernaturally preserved His inspired words in the totality of extant manuscript evidence.
The position of the University on biblical translations has not changed since the founding of the school in 1927. Although Bob Jones University does not hold to a King James Only position, and from the founder to the present administration, we have never taken the position that there can be only one good translation in the English language, we continue to use the King James Version (KJV) as the campus standard in the undergraduate classroom and chapel pulpit.
The doctrinal positions of Bob Jones University and Seminary are based on Scripture, articulated in accordance with our Creed, and observed in a nondenominational context, following in the spirit of historical biblical Fundamentalism. Furthermore, they are accompanied with commitments to promote the unity of the Body (John 17:20–23; Eph. 4:1–6) and to proclaim, defend, and live worthy of the truths of the Gospel that comprise the Faith that has been fully delivered to the Church in the Scriptures (Phil. 1:27; Jude 3).
With regard to the doctrine of Soteriology:
We believe Scripture teaches that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Eph. 2:4–10; Rom. 3:21–26; Titus 3:5) and apart from any human work of righteousness (Phil. 3:9). God offers this salvation freely to all men who are willing to repent and turn from their sins (Acts 3:19, 17:30) and place their full faith and trust in the atonement Christ made by His finished work on the Cross (Luke 24:46–48, Heb. 9:11–15, 10:10–14).
Several Bible texts state that Christ died for all men and for the sins of the whole world (John 1:29, 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 John 2:2; 1 Tim. 2:6, Heb. 2:9). These texts reveal Christ’s atonement to be sufficient for all men (Heb. 9:25–28) but efficient only for those who exercise faith and believe (Rom. 3:26). God’s invitation of salvation is freely offered to all men (Rev. 22:17) and available to anyone who desires to be saved (John 6:51; 2 Pet. 3:9).
The Scriptures state that God elects men to salvation in eternity past (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:8–12; Rev. 13:8) and that all who are saved will be so for eternity (Rom. 8:29–39). Scripture further teaches that man is responsible to repent of sin (Luke 24:47; Acts 3:19) and exercise faith in Christ alone for salvation—Who died and rose again for the redemption, justification, and ultimate glorification of all those who place their faith and trust in Him and thereby receive forgiveness of sins (John 3:18, 36; 1 John 5:11–12). The Scriptures state that God must quicken men (Eph. 2:4–5); and when such men exercise faith in Christ alone for salvation, they are born again by the ministry of the Holy Spirit and become children of God forever (John 3:3–8; 1 John 5:1, 13; 2 Cor. 4:1–6). This happens at the instant of saving faith to all who answer God’s call to salvation (Acts 26:12–18; 1 Cor. 15:1–5; 2 Thess. 2:13–15).
Scripture also teaches that sanctification is a progressive work of God that continues throughout a believer’s life in which the believer cooperates with the Spirit of God in a process of spiritual growth by means of God’s Word that makes him more and more free from sin and like Christ in his daily life (Phil. 2:12–13). Sanctification begins at regeneration (Titus 3:5), progressively increases throughout a believer’s life (Rom. 6:15–19), and will be completed when we stand before God in our resurrection bodies (Heb. 12:23; Phil. 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:42–49).
Believers are commanded to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world (Matt. 28:16–20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:44–49; Acts 1:8). Believers are encouraged in the work of evangelism by the reminder that God is not willing that any should perish (1 Tim. 2:3–7). Believers are made confident in their work of evangelization in the promise that God will bring forth fruit for our labor (John 15:16–17; Acts 13:48).
With regard to Reformed and Arminian Theological Systems:
Our position as articulated above is neither classically Reformed nor classically Arminian. We stand on what we believe the Scriptures articulate in specific texts; and therefore, where these two systems accord with the clear, normative teaching of Scripture we agree; where they do not, we disagree. We believe that Scripture presents certain great paradoxes concerning salvation which we gladly embrace as belonging properly to God and to Him alone (Deut. 29:29; Acts 2:23–24; 2 Thess. 2:13). Therefore, within the bounds of historical biblical orthodoxy we accord others the same charitable grace to hold their views in obedience to their own consciences as we wish from them toward us (1 Tim. 1:5–7).
With regard to the doctrine of the Second Coming and Reformed Eschatology:
We believe in the visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ at His Second Coming (John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:16; Heb. 9:28; 1 John 3:2–3). A normative reading of the Old Testament texts, Jesus’ own revelation in the gospels, and the rest of the New Testament establish that Jesus will physically and visibly return again in Glory for His people—at which time He will restore to the nation of Israel the kingdom that was lost to them because of their sinful rejection of Messiah at His first coming (Titus 2:12–13; Rev. 19, 20:1–10). We acknowledge that there are interpretative differences between godly, obedient believers related to the timing of this glorious appearing, the prophetic events associated with it, and the nature of this kingdom—and that while such differences ought not be matters of indifference, neither ought they be matters of quarrelsome divisiveness.
BJU holds a complementarian position which affirms that men and women are both created equally as full bearers of the image of God, have equal value and standing before God, and equally enjoy the blessings and grace of God. This requires that each gender treat the other with dignity, respect, and love. We believe God assigns distinct roles to men and women in marriage and in the church.
BJU affirms that the Scripture limits the office of pastor/elder to spiritually qualified men. While we recognize that not all believers who desire to obey truth agree with every aspect of complementarianism, the basic tenets of complementarianism articulated here reflect what BJU believes and teaches on this issue.
Bob Jones University believes the account of origins in Genesis is a factual narrative of historical events; that is, God created the universe, including all original kinds of living organisms (including man) in six literal days (Exod. 20:11; 31:17).
We believe the genealogies recorded in Genesis 5 and 11 indicate a date for the creation week less than ten thousand years ago.
We believe the fall of man into sin and the consequent curse of God recorded in Genesis 3 had profoundly negative consequences for all of creation including the introduction of death (I Cor. 15:21).
We believe the flood described in Genesis 6–8 was a historical event of approximately a year’s duration, which was global in extent and biologically and geologically catastrophic in effect.
We believe God made humans in His image as rational creatures who are charged with investigating and maximizing the usefulness of God’s creation (Gen. 1).
Local Church Membership and Attendance
The New Testament teaches that the local church is indispensable to the spiritual growth and health of every genuine Christian (1 Pet. 1:22–2:3). Because of these truths, we expect our faculty and staff to be active members in good standing of a local church. We require our students to regularly attend and faithfully serve in a local church as part of their student experience at BJU (Heb. 10:25). Failure to do so is a serious breach of our biblical conviction and institutional commitment to follow what Scripture teaches regarding the local church. We ask our faculty and staff to worship and serve in churches that are in agreement with our core doctrinal beliefs and theological positions and that substantially align with our spiritual objectives, including a doxological approach to corporate worship.
Core Biblical Doctrines
First and foremost, we require faculty, staff, and students to attend churches whose doctrinal statements and practices fully agree with the following core biblical doctrines set forth in the Scripture and those articulated in the BJU Creed.
- The Bible
The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is the inerrant, infallible, historically reliable, providentially preserved revelation of God and is sufficient for faith and practice. Only the sixty-six books of the traditional Protestant Canon are the true, authoritative Word of God.
The triune God exists in three persons who are co-eternal in being and co-equal in nature, attributes, and glory: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is the Creator of all things in heaven and earth and the providential ruler of all creation.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, fully God, fully man, incarnated by the power of the Holy Spirit through the virginal conception. His vicarious, substitutionary, penal atonement for the sins of mankind was accomplished by the shedding of His blood on the cross, through which He propitiated the wrath of God against sin and sinners. Jesus arose bodily from the dead and ascended in glory to the right hand of the Father.
- The Holy Spirit
As a member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is an actual person, not a mere influence or power. His ministry includes the conviction of sin, illumination and understanding of the Gospel, regeneration leading to the new birth, baptism into the Body of Christ, and empowerment for living the Christian life. Scripture teaches that Christ sent the Spirit to indwell believers and that the Holy Spirit gives gifts as well as enablement to believers for living the Christian life. Sign gifts as mentioned in the New Testament and observed in the early Church have fulfilled their purpose and are not a normative pattern for today.
Mankind is the special creation of God made in His own image, created male and female, who will live for all eternity either in heaven or hell. Adam’s rebellion against God resulted in universal human depravity; men and women are unable to save themselves from the just wrath of God or deliver themselves from the penalty of eternal death and torment for sin. God has the right to impose moral and ethical mandates on humanity, which He has done generally through human conscience and specifically through His Word. These mandates include norms for sexual identity and behavior, marriage between a man and a woman, and the protection and preservation of human life from conception.
Justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ’s vicarious, propitiatory, penal atonement alone and is freely offered to all who will repent of their sins and believe on Christ. The new birth comes through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.
- The Church
The New Testament teaches that the local church is central to God’s plan for this age—for the proclamation of the Gospel, the defense of truth, the preaching of the Word, and the worship of God by His people. The local church is vital to the spiritual growth and health of every genuine Christian. Scripture teaches that the office of pastor/elder is limited to spiritually qualified men.
God’s will for His people is that we should be holy and increasingly like Christ for His glory. Holiness includes guarding the truth from error, maintaining purity in faith and doctrine, and pursuing a life and practice that is in keeping with Scripture and in clear antithesis to the surrounding sinful culture. Fidelity to Scripture in our progressive sanctification compels us to intentionally separate from sin, worldliness, false teaching, and persistently disobedient brothers in Christ.
- The Future
Jesus Christ will return visibly to deliver His people, judge the world, and establish His kingdom for God’s glory.
Spiritual Values and Objectives
Because Scripture calls believers to cultivate certain spiritual values and ministry objectives, we ask that faculty, staff, and students support and attend churches that are striving after the following:
- Biblical preaching focused on the accurate proclamation of God’s Word appropriately applied to life.
- An emphasis on grace-enabled sanctification that conforms to the moral and ethical mandates of Scripture and that resists the current corrupt culture displayed in worldliness. We desire faculty, staff, and students to seek churches that teach believers to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:11–12).
- The intentional, loving practice of church discipline aimed at restoring willfully disobedient believers, as commanded by Scripture.
- Corporate worship marked by intentionality, reverence, and joy, including the use of the rich hymnody, ancient and modern, that God entrusts to His Church.
- A commitment to evangelism and discipleship locally and globally.
- A commitment to follow Jesus’ example of compassion by loving, reaching, and serving people who need merciful ministry or who have been broken by sin, cast off by others, and left helpless and hopeless captives of sin and the devil.
As a separatist, non-denominational institution, BJU seeks to support and educate believers who love and seek to obey the truth, who align with our core beliefs, and who desire what BJU offers as a Christian liberal arts university. BJU will associate with individual local churches in our community based on their doctrinal beliefs, theological commitments, and alignment with our positions and spiritual values.
Historic Fundamentalism and Biblical Separatism
From its founding, BJU has been and continues to be identified with orthodox, evangelical Christianity as expressed in historic Fundamentalism. BJU’s charter and creed express the beliefs of historic fundamentalists. The history of Bob Jones University is intertwined with the history of Fundamentalism from its beginning to the present day. BJU has identified itself with the movement and has played a major role in its leadership.
Historically, Fundamentalism is a movement committed to the confession and propagation of the historic biblical doctrines essential to the Christian faith; the defense of the whole bible as the absolute, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God; the pursuit of holiness; and separation from all forms of apostasy and ungodliness.
Therefore, in accord with historic Fundamentalism, BJU is unashamedly committed to the practice of biblical separation when demanded by Scripture. This commitment is essentially confirmed by BJU’s commitment to stand for the truths articulated in the University Creed. Consequently, BJU will not cooperate with ministries who deny its creed or who work with those who deny the creed. BJU requires its faculty, staff, and students to seek churches who continue to proclaim, practice, and protect these cardinal truths.
The institution of marriage has been valued by every culture and society throughout human history. Bob Jones University believes marriage is an institution ordained by God and prescribed by Scripture to be a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman physically created in these respective genders by God. We believe God intended heterosexual marriage to be an enduring covenanted relationship established before Himself and man to propagate the human race, lovingly express healthy relational and sexual intimacy, and picture the covenant relationship He has with all genuine believers.
Basis of Authority for the Definition
As a distinctively Christian liberal arts university, BJU strives to live according to the doctrinal, moral, and ethical dictates of the Bible which serves as our final authority for all matters pertaining to doctrinal beliefs and moral and ethical practices. Our understanding of marriage and application of its meaning is grounded in more than established human tradition and existing cultural norms. As the authoritative, inspired, inerrant, and timelessly relevant Word of God, the Scriptures have binding authority for the doctrinal belief and moral practice of believers, churches, and Christian institutions (2 Sam. 7:28; Prov. 30:5; Matt. 4:4; 5:17-20; 24:35; 2 Tim. 3:15–16; 2 Pet. 1:16–21; 3:2). The Bible speaks clearly and authoritatively to the matters of marriage, consensual sexual activity and gender identity. Its clear teachings on these matters govern and are central to the beliefs and practices of BJU and serve as the final authoritative grounds for the content of this position statement.
The Scriptures teach that God created man and woman in His image (Gen. 1:27–28), brought them together in the life-long covenant relationship of marriage and blessed this union (Gen. 1:28). Furthermore, the Scriptures make plain that this first marriage was intended to be an authoritative pattern for all future human marriages as evidenced by the teachings of Moses (Gen. 2:18-24), the Wisdom books (Prov. 12:4; 18:22; 31:10; Eccles. 9:9), the Prophets (Mal. 2:13–16), the Apostles (1 Cor. 7:1–16; Eph. 5:21-33; Col. 3:14–19; Heb. 13:4; 1 Pet. 3:1–7), and Jesus Himself (Matt. 19:4–6; Mark 10:1–9).
Marriage is a covenantal life-long relationship between a woman and a man who were physically created and assigned these genders by God (Gen. 1:27; Ps. 139:13–16; Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6). We believe God intended heterosexual marriage for the propagation of the human race and the loving expression of healthy relational and sexual intimacy, and to picture the covenant relationship He has with all believers (Eph. 5:22–33).
Context for Human Sexuality
Human sexuality is part of God’s divine design for human beings (Gen. 1:28). However, the Bible restricts all forms of consensual sexual activity to within the boundaries of the marriage relationship (1 Cor. 7:1–5; Heb. 13:4). The Bible clearly prohibits not only non-consensual sexual misconduct (Deut. 22:25–27) but also any consensual sexual activity outside the boundaries of heterosexual marriage (1 Thess. 4:1–8). Furthermore the Bible specifically names as sinful and prohibits any form of sexual activity between persons of the same sex (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; 1 Tim. 1:10), polygamy (Matt. 19:4–6; 1 Cor. 7:11), incest (Lev. 18:6–18; 1 Cor. 5:1), bestiality (Exod. 22:19; Lev. 18:23; 20:15–16; Deut. 27:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5), adultery (Exod. 20:14; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; James 2:11), and fornication of any sort including pornography (1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Thess. 4:3–8; Lev. 18:20).
Statement about Gender Identity
God created man and woman in His image as two distinct but equal genders which He intends to use for His glory (Gen. 1:26–27). Furthermore, individual gender is assigned by God and determined at conception (Ps. 139:13–16). Therefore we believe that to intentionally alter or change one’s physical gender or to live as a gender other than the one assigned at conception is to reject God’s right as Creator to assign gender to His creatures and is a personal rejection of His plan to glorify Himself through the original gender He assigned that individual (1 Cor. 10:31).
Expectations of BJU Employees and Students
Because the positions set forth in this statement are grounded in the biblical, moral and ethical commands clearly taught and demanded by Scripture, BJU expects all employees and students enrolled at BJU to agree with and abide by this statement on marriage, human sexuality, and gender identity.
Posture toward those who disagree with us
All of us are sinners. We live in a world broken by sin and are called to live out our biblical beliefs among those who may disagree with us. We desire to do so in ways that honor God and point them to Him (1 Pet. 1:11–12). We believe every person must be treated with respect and compassion and are committed to living out our commitments to these biblical standards with grace and humility. We also believe that we are called to speak God’s truth in love (Eph. 4:15) as we call all men to recognize that all human sinfulness is an offense to God (Rom. 3:10–11; Rom. 6:23a), that God has displayed immense grace and mercy toward all sinners (Eph. 2:1–10), and that He offers a full and free forgiveness through Jesus Christ to all who repent and forsake their sin and turn in faith to Him (Acts 3:19–21; Rom. 6:23; 10:9–10; 1 Cor. 6:9–11; 1 John 1:8–9).
As a school established in the liberal arts tradition, Bob Jones University has a responsibility to educate its students in the essentials of culture and the arts and sciences. We believe the visual and performing arts are foundational components of human culture and are vital to the formation and education of the whole person.
This document suggests guiding principles for applying a biblical musical framework within our institution’s various contexts of scholarship, worship, and recreation. This framework is derived from a philosophical framework on which institutional practices and policies are built and regularly reviewed.
Guiding Biblical Principles
Broadly speaking, the following principles may serve as helpful points of reference for any Christian desiring to glorify God and live intentionally with regard to music. More specifically, the following principles are intended to inform musical choices that directly and indirectly affect our campus community life.
Our musical choices should be motivated by love for God and the desire to steward the image of God for His glory.
Regardless of our own perceived musical ability, personal interests, or vocational calling, we recognize and accept our basic responsibility to steward to the best of our abilities what musical capacities we hold from a love for God and a desire for His glory (Col. 3:16–17, Eph. 5:19–20, 1 Cor. 10:31, 1 Cor. 14:15). Whether composing an instrumental work, creating a new setting for an ancient hymn text, singing in gathered worship, performing in a recital, attending a concert, or building a playlist for recreational listening, we will seek to make musical choices that are marked by virtue, appropriateness, expediency, and artistry. We will intentionally make time to appreciate and share the expressive experience of music, thereby living into our potential as image bearers (Gen. 1:28, Eph. 2:10; Rev. 5:9).
Our musical choices should be guided by love and respect for others.
In Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul prefaces his remarks on music with the exhortation to “above all these put on charity” (v. 14). In fact, based on 1 Corinthians 13:1, we could say that without love, our music amounts to nothing more than noise. In light of this, policy makers will accept the responsibility to lead in the meekness of wisdom (James 3), regularly evaluating institutional choices and cultural trends on the basis of virtue, appropriateness, expediency, and artistry, while taking care to avoid wounding consciences of other believers (1 Cor. 8:12).
Those who, as students or employees, have chosen to place themselves under said policies will also acknowledge the need for a charitable attitude toward each other and toward those charged with the responsibility of setting institutional policies as well as demonstrate a willingness to follow the polices that are set in place. When encountering differences of opinion, practice, or cultural tradition, we will give our fellow image bearers the benefit of the doubt (1 Cor. 13:7) and humbly acknowledge our prejudices when they are exposed (Acts 11:4–17; Gal. 2:11–16).
Our musical choices should avoid worldliness and evidence a desire to pursue Christ-likeness.
We will avoid musical choices that encroach upon our full cooperation with God’s redemptive plan for human flourishing, both in our own individual lives and in the lives of those whom we influence. This includes refraining from performing, composing, or listening to music that encourages in us the sins of lust, covetousness, or pride (1 John 2:15) and other works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19–21), for these sins run counter to God’s redemptive work to conform us to the image of His Son (i.e., Christ-likeness; Rom. 8:29). We will avoid music that we believe to be worldly because of its identification with the corrupt aspects of our surrounding fallen culture.
Our musical choices for gathered worship should be marked by doctrinal accuracy, musical accessibility, and reverent expressions of the contrition, joy, and hope that overflow from hearts of gratitude, adoration, and humility in response to God.
We will select music for gathered worship and devotion that appropriately engages intellect, emotion, and body in a loving, reverent response to God as revealed in scripture (Ps. 16:9; 84:2; 150). We will use music that encourages the broadest possible participation within our assemblies, both in singing and reflecting on doctrinally accurate, scripturally rich truths (Col. 3:16).
Music in our campus contexts: Scholarship, worship, and recreation
As a Christian educational institution, BJU is responsible to make musical choices at an institutional level that we believe are in alignment with our mission and in the best interest of our community of students, faculty, and staff. In doing so, we also seek to model for our students how to think intentionally about their own decisions about music for the glory of God and the good of others.
Music intersects campus life in a variety of venues and occasions, each with differing purposes. Because we want our campus to be a place where music is appreciated, practiced, and enjoyed in ways appropriate to the various settings and contexts of a Christian liberal arts university, we want to set reasonable expectations and clear boundaries that are aligned with the philosophy set forth in this document. With this in mind, we are applying the framework of virtue, appropriateness, expediency, and artistry in our contexts of scholarship, worship, and recreation as follows.
Since the school’s founding in 1927, the inclusion of music in the curriculum has been tied to the University charter’s mandate to “[educate] students in the essentials of culture and the arts and sciences.”1 And though curricular offerings have changed and expanded over the years, music continues to play a significant role in the general educational process of the University, which is aimed at empowering people to reach their highest potential as image bearers for God’s glory.
We take seriously, therefore, the responsibility to prepare future generations of composers, performers, ministers, and teachers, not merely for the benefit of what they will produce, but because their very work is inextricably linked to the exercise of dominion as image bearers.2 In its academic and artistic programs, BJU’s Division of Music seeks to empower vocational musicians to pursue and share the beauty of God through what we call redemptive artistry: yielding our musical gifts and skills in submission to God’s plan to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ, and wielding those gifts and skills for God’s glory and the good of others in cooperation with His redemptive plan for human flourishing (Rom. 8:29, 12:1–2; Eph. 2:10).
In keeping with this mission, the Division of Music also serves the broader student body through courses and experiences designed to cultivate a basic understanding of and an appreciation for musical artistry and its place in the Christian life, develop perceptual skills, challenge parochial and unexamined views on music, and expand aesthetic values. Concerts, recitals, and guest artist performances presented throughout the year provide context essential for the application of these skills and values and the development of the whole person. Students further steward their musicianship skills through participatory, experiential learning in ensembles, in private or group lessons, and in opera, musical theatre, and concert productions under the caring guidance of our credentialed and highly skilled music faculty.
Within this academic context, in order to appropriately appreciate, critique, create, and participate in the art form, our students will acquire a familiarity with the development of music from the earliest civilizations to the present, including a working knowledge of a broad range of genres, some of which we as an institution choose to exclude from our worship and recreational contexts (see below). The framework outlined above provides a tool for critique in these cases, which should be approached with care.
Bob Jones University enjoys a rich, musical heritage from a conservative Christian culture for which we are thankful and to which we are committed. Part of this commitment includes cultivating the appreciation, instruction, and use of music in worship contexts with particular focus on the rich hymnody, both ancient and modern, that God has and continues to entrust to the Church. In our campus worship contexts, we are strongly committed to using music that is distinctly Christian, that is conservative in style, that is clearly distinct from worldliness, that promotes unity on our campus, and that clearly reflects and evokes an appropriate love, joy, thankfulness, contrition, and reverence worthy of the true and living God whom we worship.
Moreover, we endeavor to make these musical choices with our whole campus community in mind, recognizing that our faculty and student body come from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of musical tastes who desire to faithfully follow the Lord and render Him acceptable worship. Paul reminds us there will be this kind of diversity in the body of Christ and admonishes us to endeavor to walk in unity (Eph. 4:2) and to live in harmony with each other so that together, we may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:5–6).
Therefore in our campus worship contexts we will prayerfully apply the framework outlined above to conscientiously limit our musical choices to those which the vast majority of our community can sing and enjoy without distraction, allowing us to focus attention not on our musical differences but on the One whom we have gathered to worship.
Recreation and Campus Social Life
We recognize that our student body comes from homes and churches with a broad variety of musical choices. We want to make clear that we understand each family and each church must make choices with regard to music that they believe are wise, that conform to Scripture, and that allow them to walk obediently and worship acceptably before God. We also have this same responsibility on our campus.
Therefore, we will strive to make discerning choices about music used in a variety of campus events outside of gathered worship, such as concerts, dramatic performances, sports events, society meetings, and various celebrations. For these occasions, we recognize that there are abundant musical expressions that, while not intending to directly worship God, celebrate the good gifts of God that all people enjoy while we live in God’s world reflecting his image; gifts of beauty, love, friends, family, even hope in sorrow, joy in sadness, and courage in danger. Music can capture all of these wonderful expressions in a moral universe designed by a holy Creator.
Moreover, because of God’s common grace in the world, such music can be written and performed even by those who have not come to faith in Christ, who are unaware that the good thing they have created demonstrates that they were made in the image of God with a capacity to know, enjoy, and reflect God. Therefore, in the variety of campus activities that are not intended for gathered worship we will draw upon this wider range of musical expression as fits the occasion and context, while applying the framework outlined above.
1The Charter of Bob Jones College [University].
2Scripture contains several positive examples of vocational artists (e.g., Gen. 4:21; Exod. 36:2; I Chron. 15:22).
God values human life. After narrating God’s creation of a world teeming with life, the Bible’s first chapter climaxes with God’s first recorded words. God proclaims His intention to create a final creature “in our image” and “after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). The crowning act of creation follows. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27). The chapter concludes with God’s verdict on His creation. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).
The theme of God valuing human life is found throughout the Bible. He values human life at its beginning. He values human life at its end. And God demonstrates that He values human life in the humanity of His Son.
God values human life at its beginning.
God’s first command to humans was to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). But the Bible does not view procreation as occurring independently of God’s ongoing creative work. Psalm 139:13–16 asserts that God creates human life in the womb. “For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. …Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written…the days that were formed for me.”1 David’s use of personal pronouns implies his humanness and personhood began at the moment of conception. Psalm 139:15 metaphorically compares a mother’s womb to the “depths of the earth” where, says David, “I was being made in secret, intricately woven.” The metaphor points to the creation account where God breathed into the dust of the earth a “living soul” (Gen. 2:7).
The prophet Jeremiah speaks of God forming, knowing, and sanctifying him in his mother’s womb. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee” (Jer. 1:5). The prophet also indicates that death in the womb is possible, implying that while in the womb he was a living person. “Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave” (Jer. 20:17).
The Mosaic Law treats the human conceptus (living being from conception forward) as a viable person with legal rights. If a man strikes a pregnant woman causing premature delivery and the consequent death of the child, he must pay with his own life according the law of lex talionis (Ex. 21:22–25). Likewise, the account of Samson’s birth assumes the personhood of his fetus. The angel of the LORD twice instructed his mother to keep the Nazarite vow of abstinence from “wine or strong drink” and “the unclean thing” lest she defile the person in her womb to whom the vow actually applied (Jud. 13:3-5, 13-14). Numerous other texts assume the personhood of unborn children (Gen. 25:23–26; 38:27–30; Job 31:15–18; Ps. 22:9–10; Isa. 44:2).
Developments in modern biology consistently uphold the biblical model of the personhood of the unborn. A person’s entire genome (full complement of chromosomes) exists in the zygote—the single cell formed by the union of the male sperm and female ovum. The zygote is a unique combination of genetic information from both the father and the mother. Further, the zygote contains the entire genetic information necessary to navigate the entire process of intrauterine development, growth, birth, puberty, and adult maturation. When human embryos are implanted into surrogate mothers’ wombs, they receive no new genetic information from the surrogate mother. After conception the only physical requirements necessary to sustain fetal life are the same requirements necessary to sustain adult life—nutrition, water, and oxygen. Therefore, we believe that life and personhood begin at conception (Psalm 51:5).
God values human life at its end.
The Bible depicts human life as inviolable not only in its origins, but also in its termination. Death is a wretched and abnormal condition resulting from man’s rebellion against his Creator. The Bible consistently views death as the worst possible suffering and the greatest curse upon the human condition. Death is inevitable, but not desirable.
The Bible teaches that God determines the limits of human life. The book of Job states, “[Man’s] days are determined, the number of his months are with Thee, Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass” (Job 14:5). Solomon affirms that for each person, God determines “a time to be born, and a time to die” (Ecc. 3:2). Hebrews 9:27 speaks of God’s appointing man’s death and subsequent judgment. The Bible denies man the prerogative to terminate life apart from God’s intent. Exodus 20:13 declares, “Thou shalt not kill.”
Since the fall, humans have usurped God’s sovereignty over the limits of human life. Humanity’s eldest son became a murderer when Cain killed his brother Abel. In a graphic metaphor Genesis 4:10 speaks of the blood-soaked earth—from which man was formed—crying out to God for justice in the premature termination of Abel’s life. In only three specific cases does God permit humans to terminate the lives of other humans; in cases of capital punishment, in war, and in self-defense (Gen. 9:6; Deu. 7:1–2; Ex. 22:2–3).
Rather than facilitating the death of the elderly, the Bible instructs the younger to value their wisdom and discretion (Lev. 19:32; Prov. 16:31). This instruction applies especially to children respecting their parents. “Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old” (Prov. 23:22). The Scripture does not recognize as legitimate several contemporary justifications for euthanasia, including the right to die with dignity, the relief of financial strains on the family, the relief of burdensomeness to society, or the relief of suffering. We may not understand why God permits indefinite suffering on the part of the dying, or why he allows the elderly to become enduring burdens to their families. But we are certain that God permits trials for the sake of perfecting the Christian’s faith (James 1:2–4). Job suffered severely, but he recognized that his suffering was appointed for him by God, and Job did not arbitrarily terminate his life (Job 23:10, 14).
God values human life in the humanity of His Son.
The Old Testament begins with the creation of man in God’s image. The New Testament begins with the birth of God in man’s image. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ, his experience of human sorrow and suffering, his vicarious atonement, and his sacrificial death on a cruel instrument of torture compellingly demonstrate that God values human life. But God’s love for humanity is not merely temporal, it is eternal. In the resurrected body of Jesus Christ, God permanently assumed the human condition.
Christ’s bodily resurrection emphatically reiterates God’s original assessment of His creation. “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the first act in God’s restoration of the whole creation to its original pre-fallen condition (Isa. 65:17; Romans 8:22-23; Rev. 21:1–5). Creation fell in the first Adam; in the second Adam (Jesus) creation is restored (Romans 5:12–17). Christ’s death reversed the verdict of death that fell upon the human race subsequent to Adam’s sin. Christ’s resurrection offers resurrection life to all who believe (1 Cor. 15:3–4, 12–23).
The Bible is a book about life and death. God values all created life. God especially values human life. And God offers eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We believe that followers of Jesus Christ who are governed by the Bible are ethically obligated to preserve, promote, and defend the sanctity of life.
We believe that whenever there is an ethical dilemma the default position should always be to protect life, including the unborn (Prov. 24:11–12). Jesus teaches this principle of carefulness in the Sermon on the Mount when He instructs His followers not only to avoid killing, but to cease from any activity or passion that increases one’s proclivity toward murder (Matt 5.21-22).
We believe that the Bible consistently depicts life in the womb as both personal and human. As a University we believe that our thinking about issues related to contraception, the harvesting of embryonic stem cells, and aborticides should be governed accordingly.
Therefore, we oppose the practice of abortion on the grounds that it involves the intentional, purposeful, and direct ending of a human life that began at conception. In the event that a situation arises where the mother’s physical life would be endangered, such as with an ectopic pregnancy, it would be morally and ethically reasonable to deliver the baby and allocate life-saving resources for both the baby and the mother, rather than risk the loss of both mother and child.
1 Quoting the ESV for clarity. The KJV reads, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. …My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”