RUF signs Vandy nondiscrimination policy: "It has nothing to do with compromising the Gospel," says RUF Coordinator Rod Mays...

Here's some good and bad news.

The good is that "World" magazine reported it.

The bad is that the PCA's national coordinator of RUF, Rod Mays, says he agrees with the decision of Vandy's RUF chapter not to join all the other campus ministries who have united in refusing to sign Vanderbilt's new nondiscrimination policy. RUF will sign the new policy, justifying their signature by saying they don't have student leaders and they don't want to lose their institutional influence.

Under the new policy, Vandy has required one ministry to remove the words "personal commitment to Jesus Christ" from its requirements of its leaders. Another ministry got into trouble for disciplining a member for his sexual immorality...

"World" reports: 

Rod Mays ...said the Vanderbilt group is taking the same approach he would direct other chapters to take. RUF is known for working with campus administrators in official channels, and wants to be a sanctioned organization, he said: "It's just a different philosophy of ministry. It has nothing to do with compromising the gospel. We're completely free to do what we want to do."

Meanwhile, "Vanderbilt chancellor Nicholas Zeppos refused to budge. And to make sure all groups comply... administrators demanded all groups sign a document affirming the nondiscrimination policy."

Says RUF local chapter leader, Stacey Croft: "They're not kicking us off campus, and I can still preach the gospel regularly. Until I feel like my integrity, my conscience, and the gospel are compromised, I don't think we need to step off campus."

"If we had all stood together, it would have been less likely that anyone would have had to leave campus," said Carol Swain, a Vanderbilt law professor and faculty adviser to the Christian Legal Society. Prof. Swain is disappointed with RUF and BCM. "(They) made a decision that was very self-interested and that does not advance the cause of Christ."

"BCM" stands for Baptist Campus Ministry, the other religous organization refusing to join the protest.

Rod Mays and his campus worker, Stacey Croft, are certain that signing Vanderbilt's new nondiscrimination policy "has nothing to do with compromising the Gospel." Rather, it's a question of "philosophy of ministry." RUF "wants to be a sanctioned organization" and to "work with official channels."

We can go far down the road of faithlessness without the slightest problem maintaining plausible deniability. This is one of the lessons I've learned as a sinner saved by grace watching my own conniving heart. And the lesson was heavily reinforced yesterday in our pastors college as I led a discussion of the conflict between Jim Packer and John Stott, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones documented by Iain Murray in his must-read Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000.

This book is so important for Evangelicals today that I'd say it's unlikely you understand what's motivting the PCA and Rod May's RUF on the campus of Vandy right now unless you've read it. I'm on my third or fourth reading.

Comments

As long as Stacey Croft makes his first preaching series on Biblical sexuality, I don't have a problem with that.

A derisive condemnation of "self-interested" actions from [a href="http://www.carolmswain.net/books/"]Carol Swain[/a], the grandstander looking to make a political career out of this, is pretty rich in irony.

Anyway, I need to look into this extra, policy-affirming statement which Stacey allegedly signed. I have absolutely no problem with RUF continuing to accept university funds because the group is naturally compliant with the university's policies -- if they've taken the extra step of affirmatively supporting the university's anti-Christ stance, though, that's a problem.

Whether or not Carol Swain is being a hypocrite (ad hominem fallacy) is irrelevant. She makes a good point, though. Not only would solidarity across all of the Christian groups send a more powerful message, RUF also holds weight as the largest Protestant group on campus, if one could use that word to describe a group that avoids making any protest. I'm aware that their current constitution doesn't violate the university's policy. But according to the WORLD article, neither did Vandy Catholic's.

Sincerely,

It's not a fallacy, because I wasn't saying her grandstanding invalidated anything she said. And it is relevant, because one should always consider sources.

"RUF does not feel as threatened by the nondiscrimination policy because it doesn't interpret leadership the way some other groups do, Mays said. Each RUF chapter is led by an ordained PCA minister who is ultimately responsible for leading students."

It sounds to me as if RUF is still violating Vanderbilt's rules-- in fact, worse than any of the other groups by far. Not only must their leader be Christian, but he must pass an examination of how orthodoxly he sticks to the Westminster Confession. And, of course, he's not a student, but rather an unelected outsider, which surely is against campus rules for student organizations.

Or, maybe the true Christian groups could fix things up by having constitutions which give the leadership position to someone chosen by their national organizations---- who will turn out usually to be the student that gets the most votes.

RUF couldn't have been the largest Christian group on campus - I mean, they probably are now, but they weren't larger than IV or Cru, were they? RUF's are typically very small.

Very disappointing, Tim. Thanks for passing this along.

"RUF is known for working with campus administrators in official channels, and wants to be a sanctioned organization, he said: "It's just a different philosophy of ministry. It has nothing to do with compromising the gospel. We're completely free to do what we want to do."

Reminds me of:

"Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish." (Esther 4:13-14)

J. Kru,

It's been 8 years since I was last in a VU RUF meeting, but I believe it was the biggest group on campus, back then. We regularly had hundreds of students in attendance at weekly meetings. It was heavily populated under the leadership of both Stuart Latimer and Brian Habig.

>>RUF's are typically very small.

Not here. In fact, Campus Cru for Christ is one of the smaller religious groups on campus and I think that RUF might even be larger than Cru and Navigators combined. And the size difference isn't a result of recent events; RUF has always been big and Cru has always been small, at least since the beginning of this school year. Go figure.

Sincerely,

Dear Elliot,

There is no such thing as Campus Cru for Christ (or Campus Crusade for Christ for that matter). It's just Cru.

With love,
-Joseph

Joseph,

When I first came to college I seriously thought it was a Cristian rowing team.

*Christian

Ha! I rowed in undergrad and never heard of "cru" on my private Catholic campus. When I went to grad school at a state university, I thought nearly the same thing at first -- that it was a rowing team, but not specifically a Christian one.

I understand the concern about Evangelical decline, but standing up for political or procedural principle is not always the supreme value. Witnessing to the Gospel is, and sometimes that involves being all things to all people. Remember, while RUF is a church ministry, it is not a church. See my blog post in response to this at matthewtuininga.wordpress.com.

*sigh* Yeah, I know. I still have a hard time getting over the name change. It's not even convenient to use in common speech because nobody's heard of Cru, but most people at least know that Campus Crusade is a Christian group. I can't tell you how many times we've been mistaken for the rowing team. Oh well, I suppose that's how things go.

Sincerely,

>>standing up for political or procedural principle is not always the supreme value.

Dear Matthew, I'm sorry you misunderstand. No one here has thought or said that standing up for political principle is ever the supreme value. The only supreme thing is to witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He told us all authority has been given to Him in Heaven and on earth and He commanded us to be His witnesses. That's what this is about. Is RUF at Vandy being a faithful witness to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ or not?

At the end of your post, you write: "There is no need to threaten the integrity of our Gospel witness by taking an unpopular and unproductive stand on a political or procedural issue (even if such a stand is justified)."

What threatens the integrity of our Gospel witness is to take positions like official Vandy chaplaincy and perks and financial goodies from anti-Christian institutions who are demanding other organizations who don't have institutional chaplaincy stop disciplining the sexual immorality of their members and stop requiring their leaders to be followers of Jesus Christ.

It's amazing how eager Reformed Protestant Christians are not to see what's as plain as the nose on the end of their face to the Vandy Roman Catholics, who left the campus giving this explanation: "It has become quite clear to the students that we either stand for something or fall for anything. We choose to stand for Jesus Christ, and we expect that our leadership do the same."

Yet you, brother Matthew, characterize their faithful and costly witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ this way: "There is no need to threaten the integrity of our Gospel witness by taking an unpopular and unproductive stand on a political or procedural issue..."

And what of the Christian Legal Society? Is RUF better able to parse the spiritual reality of these regulations than CLS?

The only thing for RUF's Vandy leader, Stacey Croft, to do is to resign his Vandy chaplaincy. Resign his position in the Vandy administration as a Vandy chaplain and keep his position with the PCA as an RUF chaplain.

That would purify his thinking in the matter and he'd not have to bear the burden of being officially responsible for this oppressive policy. Think about it. RUF's leader is an official part of the Vandy organization that is kicking these Chirstian groups off their campus.

He has a vested interest in refusing to protest. He'd lose his institutional "influence," such as it isn't.

And concerning BCM, note that Bill Choate declines to answer whether his group has signed Vandy's new Christ-denying nondiscrimination policy.

Love,

The RUF/VU flap is a good example of what happens when Christ is only savior and not Lord.

I appreciate your response to my comment, as well as its spirit. I certainly sympathize with your argument. Also, keep in mind that I agree with you as to the injustice of the policy.

That said, my question is about how a Christian group must respond to an unjust policy. Is RUF obligated to refuse to register because groups that have problematic institutional structures are in conflict with the rules of a private institution (yes, I know they get federal money, but the problem is there, not with the autonomy of a private institution)? I don't think so. I think this is a classic example of bending over backwards for the sake of the gospel.

You characterize them as kicking other groups off campus, but that is not the case at all. They are simply refusing to sponsor such groups. This is not a matter of religious persecution or the silencing of religious views. It is simply saying that certain groups will not receive institutional money and perks. That is not ideal, but it is not the sort of persecution that demands that groups like RUF, who are not compromised, back out.

Regarding Mr. Glaser's post, RUF's goal is not to assert Christ's lordship institutionally at Vanderbilt. It is to proclaim the gospel, and call people voluntarily to submit themselves to Christ's lordship.

Thank you, Tom Cannon. This stuff has to be seen to be believed.

"The national leadership of RUF determined to refrain from public protest while involved internally (a privilege granted to us because of our chaplaincy status) to discourage the implementation of this policy." As one might expect, their internal efforts have been fruitless. In fact, the only reason their internal effort could possibly succeed would be if they were willing to back it up with the threat of public action, which we see they weren't. In fact, their statement pretty much proves the Bayly point: because their chaplain has official status, they aren't speaking out publicly against a university policy they say they oppose. (Well, they say "do not support"; they can't bring themselves to actually say "oppose".) I see them as in much the same position as the German university professors who in the 1930s wouldn't condemn the Nazi firing of all their Jewish colleagues. It didn't affect them, so why should they comment? Then they might get fired too.

The Methodists at Vanderbilt are taking a position similar to the Presbyterians. Their public statement has the creepy title "Why We Will Comply". http://www.insidevandy.com/opinion/article_d09a02d8-8d7b-11e1-b5ce-0019bb30f31a.html#user-comment-area

Here's an article by Richard Sibley, an attorney, who eloquently reported on what the Vanderbilt administration is trying to do and why. Especially note the extended quote from Vandy's provost on the place of religious thinking. WHY IN THE WORLD would RUF not protest that thinking? I really don't understand. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/290199/fallout-ichristian-legal-societyi-robert-shibley

BCM has changed its mind and is withdrawing as a registered organization:

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Davis noted that the Vanderbilt BCM applied as it has over the years and was accepted.

"However, on April 22, it came to my attention that the application included our representatives signing the revised non-discrimination policy," he wrote. "It is our understanding now that 'to abide by,' means 'to accept without objection' and 'to accept as our own.' "

Davis noted that signing onto the policy would require the BCM "if the occasion should ever arise, to open the leadership to those who were not Christian. Perhaps we should have known this earlier, but we did not," he wrote.

Davis noted that the BCM has for many years ministered on the Vanderbilt campus in a non-discriminatory manner. "Anyone who walked through the doors was welcomed."

But he stressed in the letter that after "understanding the full extent of this new policy, we have no choice but to ask our local leadership to remove us from the status of recognized student organization.
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http://www.tnbaptist.org/BRARticle.asp?ID=4292

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