Dear North Greenville University, it’s time to come clean

Note: I’ve been approached by several people regarding the legality and liability surrounding the situation. I get that. There are so many regulations that it’s pretty tough to keep track of them, particularly when you approach any kind of moral decision. I believe, however, that this has gone far beyond legality and is a Gospel issue at its heart. If NGU had simply said, “Epting is gone,” and then this came out, I honestly wouldn’t care. Instead, as far as I can tell, they fabricated a story to make themselves look better. I still have all the respect in the world for my old professors and friends at NGU, and I realize that there are multiple stances and sides to the story. This is just my take on what has come out so far.

Note 2: I’ve been approached with details alleging that Epting actually didn’t have an affair with the woman in the below video, and that this is actually the result of sexual harassment and led to a lawsuit. In the interest of not jumbling my entire blog, I’ve left the original text intact, so keep in mind that while we may be looking at a victim of sin as opposed to two people in mutual sin, the dishonesty involved at the institutional level is still the same. The school could still have been forthright with what actually happened while protecting the identity of the victim.

Dear North Greenville University,

Please come clean.

This isn’t the first time that’s needed to happen.

I graduated from NGU in 2009, was the sports editor for the Skyliner for three years and pissed off a lot of people. I’ve come clean with many. I know I get a little too edgy sometimes.

But this is beyond a personality flaw. You lied to us for months.

You told us Dr. Jimmy Epting was taking a sabbatical for the Spring 2015 semester and retiring due to health issues. Unfortunately, this is the reality.

And instead of actually owning up to a cover up, we were treated to a sidestepping press release:

North Greenville University’s leaders are expected to lead Christ-centered lives and abide by all campus policies and procedures. The administration and faculty on campus today reflect our legal, moral and ethical expectations. We take our responsibilities as leaders of a Christian institution seriously and hold each member of our community to the highest of standards.  

As an institution, our promise is to combine an academic environment with a Christ-like lifestyle and provide students with opportunities for spiritual growth, academic training and Christian service. 

We will continue to focus our efforts on celebrating the start of the academic year with our students and ask that we be allowed to focus on the traditions of our campus and our bright future as a community.

There’s still no acknowledgement of the institutional dishonesty that’s gone on for at least eight months now. There’s no acknowledgement of the black eye you just gave the church.

That. Is. Garbage.

But here’s the good news. Jesus died for that.

Jesus died for your lies. Jesus died for Dr. Epting’s adultery. Jesus died for your taking his name in vain when you say that “Christ makes the difference” while living like a clean perception and donors actually make the difference.

ngu2_header
It makes for a sweet flannelgraph though.

It would have sucked for your PR to admit that your president had an extramarital affair and got the boot, but what sucks more is that you covered it up for nearly a year and told everyone that Dr. Jimmy, fried chicken and grits and hugs and all, was sick. What you didn’t tell us was that this was a spiritual sickness.

Understand, I’m not trying to damn you all to hell on the spot. I deserve that just as much as you. It’s actually not even about you.

It’s about the Gospel.

You claim to represent the God of the Universe, the one who chose to save us before the foundation of said Universe because he knew we were too jacked up to do it ourselves.

This means that, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

This also means that if you confess and repent, God is faithful and will forgive you, since this is covered by Jesus’ atoning work on the cross.

Even further, that would mean God would be using this to conform you to the image of Jesus. Those whom God predestined to be conformed to Jesus, he also called and justified and glorified.

It keeps getting better, because I know that you’re terrified of looking like crappy Christians, particularly in the rigidity so many associate with Southern Baptist Convention. That whole Good News thing you talk about in chapel twice a week has that covered.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

For your own sake, for the sake of your students, for the sake of your alumni and (most importantly) for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Come clean with this. If you don’t, this will haunt you and fracture your trust with most everybody forever.

But if you do, sure, you might lose some donors, but they aren’t the ones who justify you or intercede at the right hand of God for you, nor can they separate you from the love of God. All they do is give you money, and you can’t serve two masters.

God has your back. Please just come clean.

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79 thoughts on “Dear North Greenville University, it’s time to come clean

  1. Legally they are not allowed to tell what happened. You would think you adults would understand that there are some legal issues tied up in all of this and get that. It’s also a personnel issue that HR handles, not the public. Read up on your laws first before assume it’s your right to know everything.

    • You’re right. Legally they are supposed to lie and make up a fake illness. I forget how tricky the law can be. I’m such a simpleton. Thanks for pointing out the law that says institutions must lie.

      • I believe it is an issue of legal confidentiality that they did not come out with details; I believe it was an issue of ethics that they did not hint at the misconduct before now. Whether you agree with that last sentence or not, they had ethical reasons for not revealing the whole story, and they have legal reasons for not speaking more specifically about who was involved or affected. Furthermore, I think they did not know the full extent of the story and are now attempting to understand all the facts. I think that, until now, they knew enough to dismiss him and keep him from returning to campus. Again, I don’t claim to know all the details, but I’ve heard a lot of other things from reliable sources that lead me to think that the whole thing is far more complicated than anything I’ve seen anyone reveal on social media.

      • The lies the university put forth is a disgrace to the community of NGU and the Baptist Church. Simply stating Dr. Jimmy Epting has been fired for moral reasons would have been in the best interest of all. As it is now our morality will always be in question. I sometimes wonder why so many Baptist preachers get wrapped up in sexual sin. Its happened in the last 2 churches where I was a member. Its like the ones who preach the most on morality are the ones that get “caught”

      • Employment law forbids employers to reveal why someone has been reprimanded or dismissed to anyone, including a family member, without the subject’s written consent. To do so is to open oneself to legal action. However, there was no requirement that a false story should be presented. The right thing to would have been to state that he had been asked to resign and allow the chips to fall.

    • I agree with Attorney. I, Attorney #2 [SC Bar #101660], have also attended law school do not recall any such laws and don’t believe any such law exists. In fact, if anything, I do believe they might incur more liability from lying because if any donors relied on such fraudulent information in making their donations and if said donors would not have made the donations if the situation had been truthfully stated, NGU might have to repay such donations if a suit was brought.

      • All of this discussion about morality . There are many issues about finances and money that will blow your mind which I believe will eventually be disclosed. All you have to do is ask the right persons. How do you give a million dollar plus severance package to a person who has stolen, lied and committed adultery?

    • That’s a good point, and the law is right. But what students and alumni can’t understand is how dare him kick 21 yrs old students out of school for drinking or DANCING, when he has been doing this? It is so frustrating! Many cannot enroll in other colleges now because of that, and some gave up on the “college graduation dream” because of this!!! I know several students going through this right now!
      I truly hope NGU doesn’t lose future donors because of his acts. We don’t want the students to pay for it by increasing the tuition… all we want is his public apology, and have NGU send a realistic email to the students where they actually talk about the issue and not keep using Jesus as “the savior… the one that will provide us the answers…” It wasn’t Jesus that told him to do it. And won’t be Jesus that will say sorry to us. Thank you for sharing your comment Sheila!

      • MMA, thank you for bringing up the fact that former students’ lives have been drastically affected as a result of being expelled for such minor actions. I was one of them (2 weeks before the end of the semester). It is infuriating that my time and effort was made worthless, yet the adulterous university president still received my tuition money!!

    • While this may be true, the should have left it with, “he was leaving”. Don’t give a reason, they don’t have to. BUT they did… And it was a lie to cover up what they already knew. Poor way for HR to handle the PR.

  2. If they can’t legally say anything then wouldn’t you think they would indicate that they have no official comment or are investigating or something instead of lying about it because of “legal issues”? I wish Sheila would stop lying and trying to cover up her lack of knowledge about said “legal issues”. Stop it Sheila.

  3. Can you blame the entire University? The one who was guilty should have made the public statement about his sin, apologized, and resigned. Then the Christian community should have embraced him with love but expected repentance.

    Unfortunately, many probably tried to save the school’s reputation but this article was right by saying it’s not the school’s reputation but that of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    None of us is perfect nor too big to fail. What a life lesson that should be shared with the young adults at this school and in the world. Let’s be the Church and hate the sin but love the sinner. And forgive our brothers/sisters in Christ even when we do not agree with how something was handled. The Church must be united in this day and time.

    • May I ask you why a sin would cause for a reassignment of a career? That belief system in of itself is full on legalism and does not need to be tied with Christ’s name.

      • The Word of God does say we should not judge but even Jesus had no regard for the Sadduces and Pharisees of his day. Our leaders should be worthy of our following. So many have been turned off by the church because of hypocrisy. Our lives must match our words or it only brings shame!

        Restoration is always possible but this man needed to do the right thing and step down.

  4. Regardless of legality, that is man’s law. We as ‘Christians’ are tought not to serve two masters. I live and abide by God’s law. Scripture says to avoid litigation. We need to take a stand once and for all and pull back the veil (evil in case you haven’t added two and two yet) to reveal unity…there is no seperation of church and state, for we are all one and will return to the All. To hide behind man-made law, rules of this Earth is to abide by the law of the one who gives power over the nations…”simply bow down to me and I can give you all that you see”. I pledge allegiance to no flag, to no country, to no man…throw the restricting rule book out the window and start living for benefit of your Spirit. Invest in the next life regardless of the earthly consequences in this one. This body binds us but I tell you truly, those bonds can be broken. One day you will be asked about who you served while you were here…was it your earthly parents, was it your president, was it your job, boss, or your money, even your kids or your family? Let your answer be true in your heart and let it be God. You can do it. We have gnosis instilled within us, you just have to work for it rather than allowing your ego to fool you into some sense of entitlement. Love everyone and listen with ears of the mind. May peace be with you all, as no stone will go unturned.

  5. The issues are much deeper than adultery, and go back a long time. If, and when the other stuff comes out…this affair will look minor. I don’t know a lot, but I know a little. It makes me sad for the people who looked up to this man. Yes, we all make mistakes…but like I said, there are much deeper issues at hand. When everything comes to the surface, more than just Dr. Epting’s family and the students who looked up to him, are going to be hurt.

      • I really wish I could say more, but I don’t want to get into any trouble. I’m sure that with time, more will come to light.

    • I would assume you are probably referring to the issues of the substantial greed and financial disappearances to go along with the issues of adultery?.. This is just the very tip of the iceberg in the problems for the cult that is known as NGU. I’m a former student of NGU (which I’m not proud of to be honest because I know how fake most of the people are there) and I don’t know a ton.. But I know enough of what has happened that has come out and what has happened that hasn’t come out yet to know that they (the ngu body as a whole.. Students, board, professors, etc.) are in for a rude awakening to the real world and will have to get wayyyyy out of their little bubble on top of the hill in tigerville to quiet all of this down!

      • Yes, definitely referring to how finances have been handled for a long time. In my opinion, makes the affair look so minor.

    • I couldn’t agree more. There have been numerous cover ups for more than just faculty flings. So let everyone start digging into those issues and the affair will disappear and be forgotten about just like epting and the school want.. Too bad he’s at the center of the other issue as well! It was only a matter of time before it all came out. You can only hide in the shadows and give creepy hugs for so long!

  6. With all of this coming out about Dr. Epting, and coincidentally the Ashley Madison website scandals, I can only conclude that this generation is sick and tired of hypocrites and being lied to by the older generation. No, I am not pointing fingers nor saying that our generation is not flawed. But this generation of Christians and non-Christians alike are yearning for REAL people, real experiences, people that are upfront and honest about their faith, struggles, downfalls, and triumphs. i grew up in a Southern Baptist church, and unfortunately they seem to put more emphasis on avoiding ‘the appearance of evil’ and looking a certain way than actually humbling their heart before Christ and mimicking his life. This generation is sick of it, and will not let it stay in the dark.

    • I completely agree! I have been set free of “feeling” as though I had to be perfect! I used to be a people pleaser, and still struggle with it at times, but the only One I need to please is God. I am a part of a body of believers who love people right where they are but we long to bring them to the foot of the cross! Once that happens, God changes hearts and desires!

      We, the Church, cannot be complacent! We need personal revival. Lord, let it start in me!

    • Don’t use this story as a way of getting a headline for your magazine. This is more important than some gossip for the country to discuss. I understand that magazines are a great way to spread awareness, but now is not the time. Let the authorities deal with everything going on at NGU and then do your story. While what Dr. Epting did was terrible and there are definitely some scandals involving money amongst many other things that are wrong with the university, I almost feel like you’d have a better/more honest story if you just wait for all of the facts. As a former student of NGU that toured in one of the touring bands they have, you see the corruption in a short period of time. Be patient, you’ll get what you need.

  7. We might not see them coming clean on this… money talks! Smh… what a shame… preach about something and do totally the opposite!

  8. Sounds like you’re coming to the issue with a strong bias against NGU administration and the SBC. I would also argue that just because they kept the scandal quiet does not mean they lied about the health issue. That, from what I have heard, is a legitimate concern as well. Epting’s reason for retiring, I believe, was kept deliberately vague, allowing people to suspect that there was more going on than everyone was entitled to know. For months I have suspected, along with many others, that there was much more to the story, and although I knew I did not know what exactly happened, I have not felt as though I was being lied to. Let’s also keep in mind that the administration never knew the extent of what happened until more recently, and, as many have already said, there is much they are legally not allowed to explain. Perhaps to keep people from digging up the whole story, they were unable to even hint at the nature of his resignation. Because the story is not clear probably means we should not be as quick to pass judgment on NGU’s leadership. And if you’re so concerned about coming at this from a biblical point of view, then my thought is that you would consider the fact that you don’t know the entire story and be slow to anger, assuming the better of your brothers and sisters in Christ until you have hard facts to alert the rest of the world that they ought to feel as strongly and as angrily as you do. Everyone here is grieving over this serious issue of sin; as a Christian, you ought to approach the subject with that sensitivity and reverence rather than with entitlement and name-calling (“crappy Christians” and “liars”). And please don’t go wailing to Christianity Today on a subject you know so little about with a preconceived bias and an attitude of judgment. That would not be the most Gospel-centered thing you could do. I refuse to argue this point with anyone, as I don’t claim to know precisely what happened or how things ought to have been handled. I rarely feel the need to refute what people say, but I am hurt and angry to think that people in leadership who I know and love are being told by people who know less than they do what they should have done and what they should do now. Why are so many people quicker to get angry and pass judgment on the administration than on the sin and shame of a single man?

  9. Man…I wrote on this same topic last night, and not just about NGU, but also about the article by Ed Stetzer about the 400 or more Christian leaders who are resigning Sunday after being caught using the Ashley Madison website for an affair.

    You can check it out here: https://eagerfortruth.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/shh-no-one-needs-to-know-i-hope/

    But you’re spot on. This hurts our credibility as a Church. How can we possibly speak out against other sexual immorality when we have sexual immorality in our midst like this and we cover it up.

    Saddening.

  10. It’s not the sin. It’s the cover-up. That’s always the way it is. This cover-up was intentional, and the NGU administration and board got caught. I admire you students who are doing the brave thing and asking pointed questions and holding the NGU administrators responsible. That’s what we are called to do as Christians — always reforming.

    Hang in there. You’re doing the right thing!

  11. I have seen several places where people are stating that the school lied and said he was stepping down for medical reasons. Does anyone have evidence to support this? All of the “official statements” I have seen from the school regarding his reasons for leaving were vague, at best.

  12. I was at the chapel where he last spoke saying he stepped down for health reasons… However, that was also after the board had server all meetings and he wasn’t allowed on campus without campus security. Also all of you saying that maybe he was sick, maybe you are right but half the truth is just as much a lie.

  13. I wrote about the Ashley Madison/Josh Duggar situation two days ago: https://nathanieldwilliams.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/the-ashley-madison-in-all-of-us/

    And I had NO idea that one day later those words would hit so close to home.

    It’s infuriating. It’s heartbreaking. And it’s yet another reminder of the ugliness of sin (particularly secret sin). I pray that there is genuine repentance — both from Epting and from the administration. Sweeping it under the rug will do no one any good.

    • Amen, Nathaniel! Secrets hold people hostage and secret sins especially! It’s time for all Christians to come clean and be real. I believe that the younger adults of our day are searching for a purpose and something to believe in. That is the truth of the gospel IF and WHEN we either clean ourselves up or God exposes the sin and we repent! Pray!

  14. The real crime here is that it took that kid on the video like five hours to get through the door. And he had keys! If he didn’t have keys, it would take us about a week to get through that video. HAHA

  15. I know NGU is not perfect and the people aren’t perfect. I wouldn’t have wanted my child to go to any other college. I know that she was safe tbere.

      • I’m not minimizing what has happened there. I’m just saying my daughter had a good experience there except for one professor. She was not right in how treated her students and how she was suppose to perform her job.

  16. Honesty is great and needed. BUT. Do I want to be the one passing along this information? Yes, the one sinning should be the one confessing. Yes, the school made up a health issue and was wrong to do that. But wouldn’t this issue be better served by alumni calling and writing the school administration than by putting this out for the PUBLIC, that doesn’t know nor needs to know what happened? The school needs to ask forgiveness, but to its alumni and donors. Not to the public. The school should be held accountable as should Dr Epting. We aren’t God so we don’t know his heart now and if he’s asked forgiveness. Accountability is needed, I just don’t think that FB and blogs are the way to do it. My heart breaks for NGU. I had 2 children graduate from there. I pray for healing.

    • Remember, I didn’t put the information out there. The video was posted by someone else, and I don’t even know who that is. This is a reaction to all of that.

      I would actually contend that they DO need to apologize to the public, because NGU lied to them too.

      • Agreed Cody. Even if the administration was ignorant of his wrongdoings (which I doubt they were entirely), they need to come out and say it. Unfortunately, they APPEAR to have lied.

  17. Cody, thank you for posting this and thank you to those telling the story. The public does need to know. My daughter was hoodwinked, as were many churches, volunteers, students and parents, by Epting and the administration. I grew up So Bapt. My home church growing up held NGU on a pedestal. My daughter attended in the fall of 2012, and she almost took her life. She liked the rules, wanted a Christian enviorment, etc. Instead, she became clinically depressed constantly feeling pressure to be a perfect Christian. Calling me one night in tears telling me about a chapel speaker who told them that 15% of them were gay, but he could help them overcome it, because he was gay, but chose to live a Christian lifestyle, yet constantly battled temptation of gay porn and affairs with men.

    Not long after, her roommate moved out. I called the women’s minister asking that they check on her. No phone call returned. 2 days later, my daughter attempted to hang herself…my daughter called me in desparation and I sent a close friend to get her immediately until we could travel 3 hrs away. I left another message, as I cried into the receiver, for the minister, telling her what had happened. No call for 3 days. When she finally called, she acted as if it was no big deal, because my daughter wasn’t “successful” in her attempt and the Lord would take care of it if we continued to have faith. We pulled our daughter out, 3 years ago, got her counseling, she’s attending a public university, as did my husband and I, but she won’t attend church. except for very small, traditional services, panics at the thought of an Evangelical service, hates Christian radio, but thankfully still reads her Bible and trusts no one whose conversations and lifestyles are solely “Christ-Centered.”

    • That’s a pretty tragic story, and I’m very sorry for her. But it seems to point to spiritual problems with your daughter rather than inherent problems at NGU. I’ve known many people with quite a different story than that. Regardless, its irrelevant to the topic being discussed. You’ve turned a legitimate concern (particular sin / cover up) into an opportunity to bash the school in general. That’s not helpful.

      • Shame on you for judging my daughter as having a spiritual problem, and her story is not irrelevant to this one. The unrealistic pressure to be perfect, imposed by Epting’s version of Christian leadership imposed by her “counselor” at NGU, etc was in contrast to the gospel that she knew and believes. She was raised in a strong Christian home, generations of pastors, missionaries, etc. You failed to “read” that she continues to read her Bible daily, attends church, but a small traditional church. My brother attended NGC in the early 80’s, I grew up at TFBC. I know the school well. Many have had terrific experiences, no no doubt. But when my squeaky clean, gospel-believing, “forgive as Christ forgives us,” child felt she was not a perfect enough Christian according to NGU (Epting ethos) standards, she sank into deep depression. I have other family and friends who have graduated from NGU many years ago. Because of my daughter’s experience, she is distrustful of Christians who claim to be perfect and quick to judge others. What had been the worst religious experience for her has caused her to be far less judgemental of others and allowed her to witness to others who may be suffering or who have been turned away from Christianity because of those who preach and teach perfection, yet live the opposite. It is my hope that Epting does come clean, ask for forgiveness and allow the University and the students to heal.

    • Dear Mom,

      My heart aches for you and your daughter. I have suffered with perfectionism and with depression. I am praying for you both and believe that God will take this tragic situation she has gone through and use it to bring glory to Himself. I believe that as long as we turn to Him, He uses our past pain in mighty ways. Look for your daughter to be a real threat to the kingdom of darkness which is so needed in our world and in this new generation of young adults!

  18. I will be brief. When I was there at school, and I still cherish those days, I watche many students be expelled from school from alcohol to sex. Almost the entire girls softball team was expelled for a party involving alcohol. And how did the school find out; by placing several of the girls on the lie detector test. Several I my friends were RA and would have to watch as students would plead not to be expelled but that never stopped NGU. To me this is hypocrisy in the way they have treated so many students but in a staff situation which should be held to a higher accountability have chosen friendship over Lordship. I had already started filling out my paper work for a masters program but now will be seeking elsewhere. As a pastor I have 3 students from my church on campus now but until this is handle will not be sending and more students to what I still believe is a great place with amazing professors. So I leave ngu with this question, if this was a student, how would this be handled? Given retirement or expolsion?

  19. And then there is grace and more grace even for an institution that may have made a mistake. And when they mess up again (because they will bc of their humanity) there is grace for that. Not sure what you are trying to accomplish with this article? Does nothing good for the kingdom of God.

    • There are mistakes, and there’s crafting a nearly year-long lie so the money keeps flowing. If you want to talk about helping the Kingdom of God, I’d start by addressing that, which I did.

  20. Absolutely there is grace where sin abounds. But this was no mere “mistake”…..this was a sin. Or have you not read Romans 6:1-4?

    “1Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”

  21. We need to remember there is a difference between judging to bring about correction (which scriptures gives us permission to do) and judging to destroy (which scriptures never gives us permission to do). Many will quote Matthew 7:1 as a “cover” to “live and let live” yet fill justified in using it when their angst is stirred. We are to judge sin but not personal preferences. If an affair is true, if a cover up is true, etc. then the Body of Christ has scriptural grounds to judge. The same scriptures goes on to say go see your brother FIRST who has sinned, then if he doesn’t respond, take 2 – 3 witness and confront him. If he still doesn’t respond, take it before the whole church. Then treat him as a gentile or a tax collector — the former did not know the grace of God and while the latter distanced himself from the people of God. Neither was to character assassinate but to bring corrective behavior. I have not known about this story long but have been reading posts where assassinating character, etc. has been the norm. I understand the dismay of those who do not follow 1 John 2:6…yet know though we are not perfect, we should be striving to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. Instead of bashing and hashing fellow imperfect believers in the public arena, your first step should be to approach Dr. Epting, the trustess, HR, etc. not with the intent to uncover a coverup but to put to practice Galatians 6:1.

    • I honestly think that this blog post does a good job in giving correction and not bashing Epting and the school. Because he is saying what they did is wrong you would consider that bashing and hashing? The news was already out there and I’ve known about it since the statement was given of Dr. Epting’s “retirement”. Bits and pieces of the story were making their way out through the staff. Obviously anyone who went to school there knew that whole thing was fishy, considering Dr. Epting would’ve gone out with a bang and not as a quiet mouse swept under the rug. He was never quiet about anything.

      Also, to speak to your comment, I think that yes the verses you speak of are used for reconciliation among Christian believers and should’ve been used in this situation. HOWEVER, the board or trustees (or whoever knew about this from the beginning) should’ve been the ones to confront Epting (and potentially others) about the sin, BUT instead they formed their own lie to cover-up the mess. How can we reach out to those and take them through this process if they are unwilling to give an honest statement to the staff, alumni, students, and public? I know of multiple people who have called the school asking for an honest answer and know for a fact that all staff have been trained and required to give a generic answer. Honestly, the hypocrisy of many leaders at NGU is appalling as I speak as a former student who saw many lost and searching friends kicked out of school for breaking the rules. The ones who needed Christ the most were the ones that were most often let go. The fact of the matter is NGU screwed themselves by trying to keep themselves in good standing with donors and the community, because let’s be honest, NGU was always more about where outward image and money make the difference. I had a great experience with my professors and friends at NGU, but was thoroughly frustrated and oppressed by the hypocrisy and rules there. All I can say is, I’m glad I managed to escape many of Epting’s famous “hugs”. He always seemed a bit off to me.

  22. Cody,
    Thanks for turning the conversation back to the gospel. Really appreciate this post. – Celeste

    P.S. I remember reading you back in your “Skyliner” days! We later wrote for DYMHub at the same time. Hope you’re well!

  23. Jimmy Epting is the epicenter of this mess. He is responsible for the trustees. How’s that you say? He personally selected nearly every trustee in the last 20 years. These are people that never questioned him, ever. Epting could do anything he wanted with little or no oversight. That is a tempting and dangerous position for any human. When the facts came to light, he threatened them with legal action, strong armed them into a huge severance, convinced them to let him speak in the last spring chapel, hold a ‘retirement’ reception and was attempting to be reinstated as president just a few months ago. Again, all possible because of his few loyal trustees working on his behalf.

    He is the sole person that could have handled it better. It is all his doing. I’d be willing to wager that his arrogance even today is still keeping him from admitting how much he has hurt himself, his family and NGU.

    The trustees dithered about when it was dropped in their laps last year. Never before have they had to act without Epting telling them what to do. This allowed her enough time to concoct the harassment story and she played that card well.

    I hope and pray Epting will stand up and take the responsibility he has been desperately trying to avoid. The trustees are wondering this weekend about their next move. I hope and pray they understand two things: honor Christ no matter the earthly cost and there is a whole lot more out there beyond that video.

  24. Aside from the affair stuff (which is terrible and I have my own thoughts on it), NGU has almost gone under 3 times in the last 15 years and miraculously found the money to stay open. While I was a student at NGU we were frequently told by Dr. Epting in chapel services how much of a blessing it was to still be open. People don’t just randomly donate millions of dollars to a pathetic private school such as NGU frequently. My current school is one of the most prestigious liberal art colleges in the country and we don’t even get those kind of donations. NGU in the recent history received several million dollars for a Rose Garden outside of the music building, football stadium etc… but they’ve almost shut down several times in the last 30 years and always manage to get back on their feet and expand the school. Also does anyone remember the Bob Jones Scandal? Does anyone remember how NGU was a part of it? Two professors quit because they were asked to not speak of what they knew. They were even banned from Bob Jone University due to the knowledge the had learned and was asked by NGU to let it go. With all of this said, I hate to say it, but Christianity has been dying in America for some time now. It’s due to people not wanting to have anything to do with what the Christian culture is turning into. It’s not biblical, it’s not ethical, it doesn’t show love which was Christ’s biggest teaching, and frankly it’s made Christians look like some of the worst people around. As a Christian, I firmly believe that we’re in this together folks. The Christian community is taking a beating daily. If we want things to change, we have to give people a reason to want to change them. Love someone, love Dr. Epting, love everyone that does you wrong, love everyone no matter what. Without unconditional love we are nothing. God wouldn’t want it any other way I don’t think.

  25. I am not here to defend anyone. However, in recent years my brother struggled with an addiction problem. He was a county employee. When his issues were suspected he was given a “leave of absence” to get help. When that time was up and he knew he wasn’t ready for work, as he was still struggling with addiction, he resigned because of health reasons before they could fire him. The county didn’t do a “cover up.” They tried to help him. And then he resigned.

    NGU’s story could resemble this. He could have taken the sabbatical to try to overcome the sin, found he couldn’t and resigned stating medical issues (which there very well could be medical issues). Once he resigned stating illness as the reason, the school now has to state that is why he resigned. Just like that is what went on my brothers record for the county.

    My husband is a paramedic and by law he isn’t allowed to share any information about the treatment/diagnosis of any patients. It is a liability. The school may have only been allowed to state illness for the reason he resigned because he might have been treated by a counselor and now falls under patient confidentiality.

    Until a NGU employee/board member steps forward and tells the whole story or until Dr.
    Epting steps forward we really don’t know the true story.

    I’m not defending his sin. It’s wrong and he doesn’t need to be leading the school living in that sin. But to call the school liars may not be a true statement. And again, it may very well be. However, as of right now all the people I see making statements about what happened are taking a guess, just as I am.

    So for now, we should keep the school and it’s leadership in our prayers that they now take the right steps in healing.

  26. Has anyone ever considered that Dr. Epting’s son, between Oct 2014 and January 2015, may have forced Dr. Epting to tell the trustees that he was facing health issues, and needed to retire? And that therefore the trustees may not have been lying for 8 months? Someone who knows Paul Epting needs to find out if this type of this was in play before accusing the trustees of lying about the situation.

  27. I was never a fan of Dr. Jimmy Epting. I attended NGU from 1992 to 1995 before graduating with my B.A. The perception that I had during those years was that Dr. Epting was vicious and vindictive when crossed, opposed, or threatened. It seemed to me that anyone who did other than his exact bidding was punished, sometimes in a petty fashion, sometimes severely. I was employed at the college during my years there, first as a work-study student, then as an employee. From what I could tell, the prevailing attitude of administration in all things was, “The ends justify the means.” Many of the staff and faculty were very nice and loving; they made the best of things and ministered to students as well as they could, often sacrificing their fortunes, families, and health in so doing. Personally, I both benefitted from the sacrifice and ministry of those wonderful people, and I also personally suffered from what I felt were decisions coming from Dr. Epting’s self-serving and predatory nature. I also watched others who I cared for suffer from decisions he made. Many of these decisions would, I believed, violate rules of basic decency, the policies of the institution and even the law. Baptists were all too willing to overlook or justify these kinds of decisions in order to enjoy and profit from the successes he brought. I am proud of my degree and grateful for the opportunities that I was afforded. Yet, I also realize that more should have been done to guard against the sort of cult of personality that Epting’s presidency represented. I think the Board at NGU is wise to show him now the kind of compassion that he so often did not seem to show others. Protecting his dignity and feelings is a compassionate act. I think it indicates a future where maybe love can become the prevailing environment on campus. It is my hope that the board will take care to safeguard the future by selecting a quality president and working with him or her to better the institution.

  28. Now that this story has gone to a national news outlet (Christianity Today), is there a reason that the video links don’t work here and on other’s blogs? The local news sources must be bought and paid for by the college or something because there should be more press on this here….just sayin’……thanks, btw for calling NGU out here

  29. I have been associated with North Greenville College for over 36 years having graduated from this institution myself many years ago. I know many of the previous board members as well as Dr. Epting personally. Its a shame someone can do right all their lives and in the course of minutes have it all go in the trash from a human perspective. I like many suspected something just didn’t ad up when the board announced Dr. Epting’s retirement in January. Its so sad for the school that all of this happened. However, I hope people can at least step back and see the bigger picture of what this college has done for so many people, including myself. The good Lord used Dr. Epting as a wonderful leader for so many years to grow this university into what it is now. Thousands of lives have been impacted as a result of Dr. Epting’s efforts and abilities that he used for the greater good of NGU. God fortunately looks at the whole picture and knows all of us, the good, bad and ugly. I am sure in the totality the good of Dr. Epting has far outweighed the negative. He certainly made a positive impact on my life and I am sure that of countless others. I am not his judge and neither are others. He will suffer for the consequences of his mistakes as we all must do. However, I choose not to condemn him for his sin but still think positive of him for all the good he did in my life, that of my school and for that of countless others. He’s not the first man or woman to wilfully sin and he won’t be the last. As I recall we all are sinners! None of us are perfect, we all can fall overnight but for the grace of God. To Dr. Epting I say I love you and hope and believe you will repent of any wrongdoing in your life and use this horrible time in your life to grow as a child of the living God. I pray you will come out of this a more honest and loving man doing what God wants you to do. He’s not done with you or NGU! As for my beloved university, I hope God will use this black spot on our history to make it stronger, more compassionate and more committed to honoring the Lord with the future. Christ does make a difference! Love covers a multitude of sin so let us love as never before in the example of our Lord.

  30. Except for my wife, I have not written or spoken of this incident since I saw the video this past Thursday, August 27, with a couple of pastors who share a deep fondness and commitment for the North Greenville University family (students, faculty, administration, and alumni). I immediately felt great nausea and literally dealt with that pit in my stomach through the evening. As if any really do care, my concern is first for Gretchen and the children whom I had the privilege to see grow up during my time at college in the early 90’s and our fellowships while I went to SBTS’ seminary extension housed within NGC/U. I was there when the school was a “hairs-breadth” from going under, I saw the hope that bloomed when a tall, lanky, man with open arms, a bright mind, and a country-fried accent came into Turner Auditorium and was introduced as the new President of North Greenville College. We were soon introduced to one another and he eventually asked me to serve the college by being the student representative on the school’s council on becoming accredited with a four year degree program with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
    Needless to say, for the next year to 18 months, I worked close with Dr. Epting. Jimmy was exactly what you saw in the cafeteria, chapel, sidewalks, and classrooms. With close discernment, I found a man that was not perfect by far, but I did see someone who loved Jesus, God’s mission, and the vision for making disciples through the pursuit of academic excellence through a Christ centered and God glorifying environment. As for the standards that some could not seem to stay within, there were no cryptic laws nor any inconspicuous moral code that can only be found by way of a Sunday School class’ “word-jumble.” The dos and don’ts were clearly seen and explained in each student’s handbook along with their consequences. Those above and many others made their own choice for adhering to or denying the rules that were set to help students and staff alike follow the principles of holiness and a Christ-centered Christian witness. We need to thank God for the convictions we were exposed to at NGU as opposed to the “let everything go” permissiveness that was going on just 20 miles south on Hwy. 25 which flowed from a philosophical and theological watered-down Bible cocktail with a purplish hue that wasn’t strong enough to save anyone. Those who were kicked out for drinking, getting drunk, and having premarital sex understood what would happen before the deed was dealt. Let’s not be like other millennials that have a “whoa is me, I’m not getting the fairness, self-worth trophy I deserve.”
    Take responsibility for what you did or did not do regardless of what Dr. Epting, NGU, or the Trustees did, did not, will, or will not do.
    Every NGU alumni I talk to know how blessed we have been because our alma-mater. You have been blessed because God blessed Jimmy Epting.
    NGU is bigger than Jimmy Epting- God is greater than NGU. God has a purpose and He will take care of this blessed institution.
    I believe I had to say all of this because some of you who should know better than to let your pride brush it’s own picture of reality that swarms with annoying gnats of bitterness and disappointment from what you got or what you missed or what was taken from you at NGU.
    This is one reason (my pride) why I don’t blog as of right now and I don’t know if I ever will. I know how the experience would give an audience to the pride that craves the lime-light that blogging and trolling blogs provides (dangit, it just happened… see what I’m saying?).
    Cody, I don’t believe we’ve met yet and I hope we get to one day, but I sense that there’s some underlying bitterness that disqualifies most from giving an unbiased, objective critique of the situation.
    Yes, there were around 10 months of silence about went on prior to
    October 2014 and the surrounding months. Some knew though. I had heard reliable rumors, but nothing was shared by me to anyone because I was not in an “official position” to know or do anything about it. I naively tried to believe it was a lie and a trap set by his enemies. Even now, there are not a lot of specifics known. If a report was given 10 months ago it would be full of “Circumstantial evidence, speculation, and incomplete story-lines bound up in a press-conference report would leave everyone hanging on with at ton more questions than answers.
    The official report given for the Epting sabbatical was “health issues” along with some other “unstated” issues.
    I know Jimmy Epting. I’m sure Jimmy was sick- at the least, nauseated, whether over shame and sorrowful repentance (Psalm 6:1-7) or just the shame of getting caught. However, the report also insinuates something more, a “something” that was not ready at the time.

    Here is what NGU did do- (with some of my assumptions)

    1. NGU did give a leave of absence to Dr. Epting in order to give time to get clear what happened.

    2. They did separate Dr. Epting from campus so there would be less confusion.

    3. There was a resignation made.

    One more point:
    Going back to all the “innocents” who were kicked-off campus for breaking rules of conduct, how many of those cases were taken before the whole student body like many want Dr. Epting to do so. They were, for the most part, given the dignity by not havering public chastisement and unfair harassment in front of their peers.
    You see, this is my big beef with a lot of bloggers who are not much more than my grandmother-in-law who gripe and moan to those who will stay long enough to hear her diatribes. You did well enough to catch me at a time when I would respond though.
    There is one thing that leaves a bad taste in my mouth: I do admit the the last day of chapel with the last farewell to Dr. Epting was unnecessary knowing the gravity of what could have happend. I’m not sure what should have been done during the chapel and/or what the next steps should be. I do believe the students, staff, faculty, and alumni need to know something more for holiness sake, for the sake of the gospel presentation of grace and mercy in handling forgiveness and repentance among the saints, and closure so we can move ahead in fulfilling the Great Commission together.
    NGU will survive.
    The Epting family shares in the promise to the saints that “God causes all things to work together for good, for those who are loved by The Lord and called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

    • Well said! Many of the points folks are making are true, however, by blogging it and putting it out in the public, more folks are being turned off to the cause of Christ than if it were to be handled quietly. I know not only Dr. Epting, but also the woman involved. The video doesn’t really prove anything other than they were in the house together…so, who are we to say what absolutely did or didn’t happen? As Christ said when the men brought the woman caught in adultery to Him, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. We need to keep everyone involved in prayers and not be giving Satan more ammo to use against the cause of Christ than he already has. We have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God…Would you want YOUR sin flaunted all over the internet and discussed by people who don’t know you at all???? If we would spend our time in prayer for these folks rather than bashing them, this would be a much better world.

  31. Slander and Calumny, Pastorcgray! That you would pick a time and a place such as this for your thinly veiled smackdown of Furman University is foolish and beyond my comprehension. This whole thing is about hypocrisy, lies, coverups and IMO, idolatry and cult mentality. As long as everybody is drinking the same kool-aid, it’s all fine, huh? I’ve been all over the internet trolling this story and it creeps me out. The attempts to shut it down are futile now; it’s gone to national publications and there are close to 100,000 views of that video. Truth will out, I say.

    • It’s interesting that what some would call a cult is in reality a biblical picture of the bond God’s people should have for one another under the power of His Spirit. It is despairing to live in “Christian” community when there are no expectations for holiness and accountability. I meant no slander or calumny (even though your qualifications for such terms are obviously more extreme than most would define). You are correct about Furman not being the subject at hand. I was simply comparing the evangelical effectiveness between what were two “Baptist” institutions in upstate South Carolina within the early ’90s. FU has been and still remains highly distinguished in its academics; however, it is not a bastion for biblical theology and hasn’t been for quite some time. Thanks for your input.

    • That’s a ploy to make you think they are serious. The SCBC has just as much motivation to clean up this mess without admitting another detail.

  32. Silence from the Administration & Trustees would have been better than lies and hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts to Epting. I have lost all respect for them!

  33. From the printed/mailed ‘THE COURIER’ – October 2015

    We all know the appropriate verses, as have been listed in previous comments, that can be restated.

    Based on this complete response to ‘The Courier,’ in the link below, the trustees’ decision to withold the truth, keep individuals involved “protected,” whatever you want to call it, is why each and every one of them need to resign from the board and take The Enlightner with them.

    Hiding the truth, modifying the truth, and continuing to provide a false representation of Christianity to believers and non-believers is unfathomable. Regardless of what and with whom Dr. Epting did to warrant his dismissal, there is nothing biblical to support the deception that the board knowingly and willingly drafted, communicated and delivered.

    [NGU trustees regret ‘confusion and hurt’ in communicating Epting retirement

    “We made our messaging decision based on what we believed to be best for the university at the time,” a school spokesman told The Courier in a written response to questions submitted to the board. “Our intent was not to mislead, but to be humane and honorable to all involved.”]

    https://baptistcourier.com/2015/09/ngu-trustees-regret-confusion-and-hurt-in-communicating-epting-retirement/

  34. The clarion call today is for everybody to express themselves. Those who have been drawn by the Father to Christ, repent of their sins, cry out to our Lord for salvation and have been indwelled by the Holy Spirit should guard their hearts and minds in expressing themselves. They must remember that Satan is the god of this world whose plan is to undermine God’s agenda any and all ways he can. He does it through deceit.

    The annals of Christianity are replete with those who have fallen in their walks, some in position of authority and other who are followers. People fall primarily because of the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and pride of life. This fact has not changed since the fall, Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, today, tomorrow and the immediate future and beyond.

    Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ called for us to be one. In Ephesians 4 Paul implores Christians to walk worthy of your effectual call with humility, meekness, patience and forbearing in love for other members of His body.

    What has happened to your beloved school has and is happening to schools across the world. Sadly when this happens instead of applying forbearance inf love we become judgmental. But take heed to God’s warning in the book of James in chapter 4 where it says there is one Lawgiver who is able to save and destroy. Who are you to judge another?

    I do not say this to be judgmental but rather to give God’s case in the matter, one which brings grief to the hearts of God, yours, mine and Christians who read of such things. My heart goes out to all at those affiliated with your university and the countless others who have been ministered with the Gospel of Christ by you, those before you and those to come.

    My prayer is for all concerned is to strive to reflect the values of Christ (self-included). Satan and his minions are ready and waiting to take every opportunity to defame Christ, His cause and followers. May the God of grace empower each and every one of us to be more and more transformed into the image of Jesus Christ to be faithful witnesses to each other and those in need of His saving grace so dearly.
    Blessings to all…

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