North Greenville and the Inexhaustible Mercies of Christ

So I promised to land the plane on writing about the North Greenville University situation. Unfortunately for those passengers on board, haggard as they are from gate changes, delays, and recycled oxygen, this plane has been circling above the runway for several weeks as I’ve engaged in private conversations and been on the road traveling.

I intended on ending my comments by applying the inexhaustible mercies of Christ to this unfortunate turn of events in Tigerville. However, I must first plead for the mercies of Christ to deal with the plank in my own fingertips.

The short version is that in my first post—How North Greenville Got the Gospel Wrong—I sinned by assuming motives that I had no way of knowing. I assumed and charged that the Board of Trustees acted deceptively in order to cover up for the former President, the school, and to guard against losing any donors for an embarrassing situation. I did not heed the wisdom of Proverbs 18:17—“the one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

I am thankful for subsequent conversations with those in the NGU community that revealed a bit of the other side of the story. As I now understand it, the Board acted in order to secure the President’s departure with as little damage as possible, particularly any legal damage. I have since written to a couple of Board members, the interim president, and some faculty members to express my apology. I offer the same apology to you. I am sorry for making accusations in this space that, to my knowledge, were false.

In this situation I think it is important to understand the difference between something being covered up and a “cover-up.” In the first instance, legitimate reasons exist for not disclosing certain information. In the second instance, involved parties come together in order to suppress information for illegitimate reasons. The details of the President’s departure were covered up, no doubt. But I have seen no specific evidence of an orchestrated “cover-up.” Rather, the hand that the President dealt the Board and university administration was incredibly difficult and complicated. There were no easy decisions. We don’t necessarily have to agree with or endorse every way the Board handled the situation—I don’t—but that does not necessitate that their manner was sinful. I was unloving to assume the worst of their actions and motives. I have repented of this sin.

All of this brings us to the point I wanted to make initially, which is this. The worst situations give opportunity to showcase the inexhaustible mercies of Christ. I hate that I sinned against the Board in my initial post. I hate the sins of the former President, whatever they were—and we do not know the details nor extent of what all went on. I hate that relevant information was covered up (in the first sense of that usage, see above). I hate that mistakes were made. I hate that brothers and sisters in Christ have been hurt.

But Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Therefore, all these sins can be removed and cast out from us as far as the east is from the west. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, which means that he died in the first place, taking our sins with him and burying them in the grave forever. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and my crimson stain of accusation is white like fresh-fallen snow. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and Dr. Epting can repent and rest. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and every last Board, faculty, and staff member, every student, and every alumni can walk in the bright light unashamed, with head held high—because that’s where we see Jesus, killed for our transgressions and raised for our justification.

I love how Spurgeon counseled those wrestling with great sins:

“Great as are thy sins, the blood of Christ is greater still. Thy sins are like great mountains, but the blood of Christ is like Noah’s flood; twenty cubits upwards shall this blood prevail, and the top of the mountains of thy sin shall be covered.”

Kevin DeYoung tweeted this out recently: “No matter how big the mistake, there is bigger grace for those who repent.”

So that is the call to all of us: repent and receive. Repent of sin. Receive mercy. Receive grace. Has your tongue sinned against a neighbor? Repent and receive. Have you drank from cisterns not your own? Repent and receive. Are you a liar, a thief, a gossip, a fornicator, an idolater, a tyrant? Repent and receive. Are you angry, full of malice, sexually unclean, jealous, divisive? Repent and receive.

The resurrected Christ bids sinners to come. Come and repent. Come and receive. Receive the inexhaustible mercy and the unfathomable grace.

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