News—Erskine College Officials Obtain TRO Against ARP Synod

The Aquila Report has news that the Erskine College has obtained a temporary (10-day) restraining order preventing the ARP Synod from implementing its plan for reorganizing the college and its board. The college charges that the Synod acted contrary to the college charter, that the reorganization is jeopardizing its accreditation, and hurting the presidential search. The AR says, “As things stand now, the actual hearing on the Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Injunction is scheduled for March 19, 2010, at 11:00AM in the Newberry County Courthouse.” I’m not in the ARP and I don’t know all the details but this seems to be a significant move by the college to resist the attempt by Synod to re-assert its authority and control over the college. As an outsider I wonder “who pays the bills?” To what degree does Erskine College receive support from the Synod or members of the ARP? If the college is financially independent, then they might have a case but if they’re receiving substantial subsidies from the church and/or synod then they might have a difficult time resisting the Synod. Pray for peace in the ARP grounded in reformation according to Scripture as confessed by the church.

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  1. Pastor Clark,

    I don’t want to say I’m an expert in this, because I’m not, but I had been hearing something about this for about a month. I’m a member of the RPCNA and I attend in State College, PA but while I was visiting my parents in Charlotte, the pastor mentioned the ’emergency synod’ meeting that was called.

    The pure and simple truth is that unchristian men, in fact anti-christian men, were allowed into the seminary because the seminary had lost, or given up it’s power to rightfully discriminate whom they would allow into the seminary.

    Seminary is always to train up young men (or older men) for the pastorate, and it is not right to take those positions away from willing young men and give them to muslim mystics, skeptics, buddhists, and doubters to whom we would not grant membership to our church.

    Does the board at Erskine take seriously the purpose for seminary? Is it to train up Christian men for the Christian ministry, or is it to satisfy the needs of the U.S. military (chaplains) and perhaps give outsiders a full look into us?

    I agree that that ARP, no matter how little it funds the university, needs to pull some rank here and remind the university of it’s confessional roots. Sadly I feel the ARP might itself be losing it’s confessional roots and soon join ranks with the departed PCUSA for all the time they emphasize the WCF. I make no illusions as to the social standards of the ARP being lacking, but in practice the ARP is more often than not simply a southern baptist church that dunks kids (sometimes).

    In summary, Erskine needs a little reigning in, and so does the ARP.

    • Douglas,

      I think it’s the college, not the seminary, that is contesting the Synod. We should be careful about making public judgments, absent an ecclesiastical decision, about who is and isn’t Christian. The ARP is facing some serious challenges and they need our prayers. They also need us to be careful about their reputations.

      • To: R. Scott Clark

        The college and the seminary are actually one entiity. The head of the seminary is a Vice President of the Administration of Erskine. The Board of Trustees is the Board of the College and the Seminary. There is only one president of the joint inistitutions, Dr. Randy Ruble.

        As a relative new comer to the ARP, I disagree with Mr. Gregory relative to evaluation of the relation of the ARP to the PC(USA). The 2009 General Synod severed a fraternal correspondence relationship that it had had with the PC(USA) and its predecessor for some four decades or more.

        I don’t know what the courts of South Carolina may determine; but it would be very difficult for them to ignore the facts of the founding of Erskine under the auspices and ownership of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. The Charter and the Bylaws of Erskine clearly state that the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church has the authority to name the members of the Board of Trustees. What is at issue is a difference between the laws of the State of South Carolina and the provisions of the Bylaws relative to the removal of members of the Board. The Board is limited by the Bylaws to dismissing Board members only for *cause.* The laws of South Carolina pertaining to corporations not for profit permit the owner(s) of such institutions to dismiss Board members *with or without cause.* Apparently, the Administration of Erskine believes that the Synod does not have the authority to do what it has done. I’m am personally sorry that those Administrators who have taken these legal steps have done so because I think that they have made themselves liable to formal church discipline.

  2. To amplify what Vaughn wrote,

    Well, I wonder if any of the “current Erskine College officials” who went to court
    a) claim to be Christians
    b) have read 1 Cor 6?

    Paul doesn’t leave a lot of wriggle room for exceptions for when it is OK to go before the “unjust” in a matter of law. Any who are among those that took this to the civil courts are members of the ARP church should have disciplinary action brought against them by their ecclesiastic court of original jurisdiction for this obvious violation of teaching of 1 Cor 6.

    Really, what part of “Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (1 Cor 6:7) don’t they get?

    What a shame to see such scandalous behaviour from those who should know better. Now I wonder if the ARP can demonstrate it still has the third mark of the church?

  3. Can anyone shed any light on how the institution’s bylaws define its relationship to the synod?

  4. On the instituion’s bylaws and the synod, I see Vaughan Hathaway’s comment above. Thanks.

  5. The college is not currently “financially independent,” but could probably be so for a while if it wanted. It might have to raise tuition or take from the endowment, but it could be so. As it stands now, the college has asked for roughly $650K the last two years as part of the Board of Stewardship report. On the surface, that does not sound like much money, unless you factor in that this is about 25% of the Synod total budgeting for financing boards, etc. throughout the year (as I was told by a former trustee yesterday). If they were truly financially independent, they would not come with their hand out to Synod each year.

    Also, President Randy Ruble was disturbed in his comments before Synod that donations had fallen off in the last year and the college might have trouble balancing the budget. Why have they fallen off? If you follow the complaints of former alumni, etc., who are NOW threatening to stop donations, it is others (perhaps the more conservative element) that has stopped donations (this has happened in a couple of cases that I know of). Synod gives more than just the $650K; this comes through church contributions, private donations, and two yearly offerings.

    Furthermore, none of this takes into account that the former Board of Trustees actually agreed with the recommendations of Synod “in principle.” They disagreed with how the Board would be restructured of course, but there was no disagreement that these things needed to done. The vice chair of the Board did not disagree that the by-laws needed to be re-written, only the makeup of the committee doing so.

    And now that the college is taking Synod to court, 1 Corinthians 6 is in full swing. God’s words is being ignored and his church is being dragged through the mud because of it. The ARP alumni who are grumbling have failed to submit themselves to their elders.

    I would encourage anyone reading this blog to consult the Statement of the Philosophy of Higher Education, passed in 1976 by Synod, and posted here:

    • I continue to read blog entries, posts, etc. regarding “witnessing.” If the Synod has it’s way and everyone who does not adhere to the same definition of Christianity is ousted from the college, who will they be witnessing to? Was Jesus as narrow minded when he witnessed to and befriended prostitutes, tax collectors and lepers? Absolutely not. How would Christianity even exist if we simply surrounded ourselves with like-minded people? I’ve brought more friends and co-workers to the Christian faith, not by shoving my beliefs down their throats and making them feel as if they were “beneath” me, but by being present and loving them and accepting them and walking among them. If I had decided to ignore these people (or I had disassociated myself with them while at Erskine) I would have never been able to invite them to church or bible study where they later found Jesus Christ.

      I think Synod should ask themselves what they are so scared of that they need to isolate themselves and Erskine College. Must they surround themselves with people just like them because they are weak-minded and scared of temptations? Do they fear some bad, scary liberal, Roman-Catholic, English Professor, Jew or (shutter) homosexual will rub off on them? I’d like to know what’s in the closet of some of these decision pushers on the Commission and in the Synod. Charles Wilson, proud author of ARP Talk (not sanctioned by the ARP church but silently endorsed since he’s allowed to publish this blog with our denomination’s name on it), seems to be the most fearful of all. Normally, I would refrain from singling out an individual…however, this “man” has taken it upon himself to single out, name call and crucify anyone who doesn’t meet his standard of Christianity with a vengeance I’ve never seen in the ARP church before. Honestly, I will get on my knees even as I write this because I know that in mentioning his name I am no better than him as I write this…judgmental.

      As far as everyone throwing around 1 Cor 6…Yes, how sad. How sad that a group of men (yes, men because women aren’t allowed to actually vote in the Synod) would take it upon themselves to dismiss half of a board of trustees without due process within our own governing body of the church. No one can give a valid answer (or much of an answer at all for that matter) as to why in particular these particular people were dismissed, others were allowed to stay and the process in which new members were added to the interim board. Consequently, the matter will be in a court of law.

  6. Dr. Clark, you have a typo in the heading: it should be “TRO” not “TRI”. Thanks for this story. Very interesting.

  7. I’m supposing the “issue” is that Synod thinks the college/seminary is not conducting itself in the religious direction it would like?

    And that direction is… broadly “conservative/inerrantist” Evangelical, or (one can hope?) Confessionally Reformed ?

    Ah, I suppose we all know it’s the former.

  8. When a large number of former alumni (and including at least a couple of current and former faculty/administrators, along with a former chaplain of the college) are encouraging litigation (heartily, I might add), in clear violation of 1 Corinthians 6:1ff, we have a huge problem.

  9. Do you mock the word of God and refuse to submit to its authority? That is a problem for you, friend, and I would strongly and sincerely urge you to repent.

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