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.
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.