Being Christ-like in an Anti-Christian Culture

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

New conditions require adaptations. Organizations that do not change fast enough or who make the wrong change fall behind. Recent actions by the courts and various government agencies have altered the ecology within which Fresno Pacific operates. A new legal and social environment requires adaptations. The process is constant. The one constant and dependable assumption is that things will change.

The people who have been clinging to the premise that America is a Christian nation received a massive dose of reality therapy from the Supreme Court with its recent ruling that the marriage of two people of the same sex is the moral, social, and legal equivalent of the marriage of two people of opposite sex. However a Christian nation might be defined, very few proponents of the concept would agree that it includes unlimited approbation of same-sex marriage. The effort to make the laws and mores of America align with historic understandings of biblical guidance for public welfare has run its course.

What this means for the followers of Jesus and for all the widely varied nonprofit service and educational organizations that such Christians have created is not yet clear. What is obvious is that while many particulars are being defined by legislative and judicial actions during the next few years, the reality is that a Christ-centered evangelical Anabaptist university and seminary like Fresno Pacific must find new ways to be truly Christ-like in an anti-Christian environment. The church must be the body of Christ in a secular culture that often does not understand or value what the church seeks to be and do. And as a legal and spiritual creature of the church, the same reality is true for Fresno Pacific University and our more than 100 partner schools in the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities.

But this momentous decision by the high court does not prevent us from being a pervasively and winsomely Christ-centered institution. We must learn new ways to demonstrate the loving kindness and compassion to which God calls us, when what we believe is moral behavior is considered immoral by the world around us. We must discern how to show love to those who detest us and call us hateful for proscribing behaviors that we consider immoral and wrong, but which the world around us considers moral and good.

The church in many other nations around the world has had to live this way for a very long time, but this is a challenging new reality for sincere followers of Jesus Christ in America. The world we seek to serve in the name of Jesus Christ does not understand or make distinctions that are fundamental and determinative for those who seek to live in accordance with their Christian faith under the authority of Scripture. Our light must shine in a different way than before, in sharper contrast with the gathering darkness.

We hope the tax-exempt status of contributions to institutions like Fresno Pacific will not be eliminated. We hope that our students will not lose the state and federal financial aid on which most of them depend for their higher education. We hope that we will be able to continue to place our students in schools and other public agencies for internships and employment. So far none of these hopes are dead. But these and many other similar hopes are now considered in jeopardy as government agencies feel compelled to value a wide array of individual civil rights above the right to freely exercise sincerely held religious beliefs.

The implications extend far beyond the particular issue of same-sex marriage. Fresno Pacific has officially requested confirmation of its religious exemption to maintain a broad range of behavioral standards that differ from the legally enforceable norms of the secular society in which we operate. Even if such confirmation of our exemption is granted, it is no longer certain whether we can also retain our traditional government- provided benefits if we do not follow the dictates of all its laws and regulations.

At this point, we are collaborating with many other evangelical institutions as we hold to our understanding of biblical morality in all areas of our community life together. We are doing our best to make our policies explicitly clear and consistent, leaving nothing vulnerable to legal challenge. We request your support, understanding and prayers as we seek wisdom in establishing, clarifying and consistently implementing our policies regarding the behavior of our employees and our students in alignment with our Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith.

Our beliefs, values, standards and expectations have not changed. What has changed is the assurance of respectful governmental protection of our right to maintain a Christ-centered community of faith and practice and receive the same benefits and protections under the law that secular institutions enjoy. But if we cannot receive equal treatment, then we shall obey God rather than man and trust the providence of our Heavenly Father.

We must continue to humbly seek Christ-likeness in an increasingly adamant anti-Christian culture. We will be misunderstood and maligned, but we must seek to authentically show the love of God to all persons, especially to those who wrongly accuse us. We are not responsible for the decisions of a human court or influences from the public media, but we are responsible for faithfulness to our high calling as forgiven followers of Jesus Christ.

  • Ron Penner

    I do appreciate your keen insight into what is next for FPU. Thanks Rich for your heartfelt words. I also agree that state and federal funding for FPU may be on jeopardy. I pray that in these difficult circumstances we will be found faithful. No longer can we assume Christian privilege or even understanding. I fear for all of our Christian institutions. And then the church will be next. However we stand firm in our faith and we believe His Word to sustain us through his Spirit.

  • Dr Roger & LaWanda Franz

    Thank you both for your expertise in guiding our FPU institution according to our Confession of Faith. What a challenge in this diverse generation. May the Lord guide and direct you to carry out this great mission! Cordially, Roger & LaWanda

  • Leslie Mark

    We many not be responsible for the decisions of a human court, but are we not responsible for explaining in respectful and clear ways what the Judeo-Christian ideals are? Do the lessons of Ezekiel 3 & chapter 33 regarding a watchman over the nation apply to us today? Have we taken advantage of the liberties we have in a representative republic which is a government of the people, by the peoople and for the people? Are we accountable to God for every idle silence?i Have we the privilege and liberty to express our opinions or should we remain the silent people of the land and be accountable to God for every idle silence?

  • Elmer Martens

    Right on Rich! That Christians are counter culture should be increasingly evident. We Christians in America have been shielded from outright opposition and persecution. These are not the days of the 1970’s when TIME magazine designated 1977 (or 1976?) as the Year of the Evangelical. 2015 is the Year of the Secular. Stay the course!

    Prayerfully,

    Elmer

    • Janet Lynn Kroeker

      I’m shocked to read this from you Elmer! It seems that the hegemonic narrative has now seized you as well? So grieved that you see this as something good, or godly in any way.

      • Rich Kriegbaum

        Les, thank you for calling us to our prophetic witness and away from our temptation to be silent and thus appear to condone or not care when people speak and act unwisely, injuring themselves and others. The shrill assertion of the individual’s unconstrained right to “do as I please” seems to make it difficult to even try to “speak the truth in love.” So you rightly call us to pray with the wisdom of a watchman and to speak firmly but with compassion. Ours is the voice of sinners rescued by God’s grace alone. No one models this better than you. Blessings, Rich

  • Paul Werfelmann

    I’m not sure where you find Jesus condemning the love of people of the same sex. I can’t find a word from him on it. There may be Old Testament condemnations of inhospitable behavior (which is contrary to the hospitality demands of God in the Old Testament) and in which homosexual behavior is listed as an example. There may be interpretations by those other than Jesus RE: Roman orgy and pedophile behavior in which homosexuality is listed as an example. But to attribute such an attitude to Jesus himself is an error. If it was important enough to jeopardize all our relationships, I believe Jesus would have made that clear.

  • Brian L. Baker

    As a straight male, raised in the southern baptist tradition, and a Christian, who had considered attending grad school in peace making and mediation at Fresno Pacific, I am glad I read this opinion price prior to applying, and giving any money to FPU.

    Supporting same sex marriage is not anti-Christian in any way, shape, or form. It is in fact, the epitome of Christ’s teachings of love. To think otherwise is simply not Christian.

    Perhaps you should broaden your mind, attend some peace making classes, and learn how to accept Hod’s children as they are, and provide them their Hod given, inherent, civil rights, instead of furthering the divide in our cummunity snd the nation.
    My oh should be deeply ashamed of yourself for your bigoted beliefs. I’m sure God is ashamed of you for trying to speak lies in his name.

    • Larry

      “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) Father God have mercy on us all.

    • Janet Lynn Kroeker

      This grieves me, for the people who work in the Peace and Justice area of FPU are like minded to you. I wonder if they will continue there though, given this post?

      • Carley Friesen

        Decades ago, Fresno Pacific gave up its non-violent, conscientious objector stance by enforcing the government requirement that young men register for the draft in order to receive financial aid. In that case, we gave up our central theological belief to do no harm in favor of the government’s offer of money. And nonviolence/peacemaking was a CENTRAL belief upon which our Anabaptist faith is built!

        Jesus said repeated things about peace – blessed are the meek, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers, you shall not murder, take the first initiative to be reconciled, do not resist an evil person, turn the other cheek, give the evil person the shirt off your back, carry the evil person (the soldier)’s pack an extra mile, love your enemies, do not judge – and this is just the Sermon on the Mount! – the central Scripture upon which Anabaptism was built.

        Now FPU wants to take a “radical” stance on something about which Jesus said not one word?!

        Or, what about divorce? I am divorced, so I am not just pointing fingers. There are others on FPU’s current staff who are divorced. Jesus speaks against divorce, but we do not hold that as a prohibition for re-marriage or leadership. Yet one’s sexual orientation, about which Jesus says nothing, becomes a prohibition for marriage, or leadership in the church. How is this possible?!

        There will always be new challenges as we seek to practice the kind of radical hospitality and love which Jesus taught. God is love. And that is a hard thing. It is not always easy to love the ones God loves. But it is our call – Anabaptist, Evangelical, or Presbyterian; gay or straight – whatever the label.

        • Ken D. Janzen

          Amen!! Graduate of MBBS.

        • Brian Bennett

          If you’re going to bring up the Beatitudes, you might want to learn them first. Skip Moen, D. Phil. Oxford; The Lucky Life…The Backwards Beatitudes, 2011.

      • Rich Kriegbaum

        Janet, you have engaged so actively in this conversation that I simply opted to begin with this comment of yours to thank you for caring enough to think and post on these important issues. The ways we as peacemakers devise to deal with issues of social injustice are themselves subject to complex networks of competing values. That does not–must not–prevent us from speaking and acting, but we should always speak and act with humble willingness to learn and never be surprised if people of good faith feel called to act in what appear to be contrary ways. God is at work in each of us, including when we agree to disagree. I trust we can continue to learn from each other. God’s peace to you,
        Rich

        • Janet Lynn Kroeker

          Richard, I have not issue with you having an opinion different than mine – but I take great issue with you speaking on behalf of FPU, as well as the Mennonite Brethren. Humility must begin in that your personal bias must not be projected onto what has been, until now, a decent institution.

          Perhaps you could look to Goshen, and EMU to see their policy updates today which seem more reflective of our Anabaptist history, especially in regard to peace and justice issues. True “peacemaking” is never void of justice. Perhaps you missed that part of understanding our history?

          PAX, Janet

          • Brian Bennett

            Why don’t you just give it up, Janet? You’ve already said you’re leaving FPU…so stop hijacking this blog and leave.

    • Brian Bennett

      Go elsewhere…and learn to spell before attempting to enter graduate school.

    • John Loewen

      Brian, the epitome of Christ’s love is NOT supporting same sex marriage; it IS supporting the people who wish to practice it in spite of God’s Word. Richarad Kriegbaum does not indicate any animosity toward those people whatsoever. His stance is against the institution of it as a legal “right”. An honest examination of the Words of God reveals that, whether it fits in with our feelings or not, such lifestyles are not in accordance with God’s desires for His children.

      • Norma warkentin

        Well said John

    • Alejandro A.

      who’s hod?? lmao!

  • Jon

    Part of me wonders if this is sincere or if it is only an attempt to keep the revenue floodgates of the conservative backers flowing freely.

    • Janet Lynn Kroeker

      As we see with Donald Trump – the “LOVE of money . . . .” I will be interested to hear Kriegbaum’s response to your question. Janet

      • Brian Bennett

        What proof do you have of Trump and the correlation of the verse referring to the love of money? Using money is not the same as the love of money. Proof….please?

    • Brian Bennett

      Why? Are you concerned about finances?

  • I find your remarks disgusting and have said such on my FB page. As an ordained pastor of the ELCA and adjunct faculty at FPU for over a decade, I am embarrassed for myself and many of my colleagues and students who are now branded by your paranoia and homophobia. I have posted my letter of resignation on my FB page and you will be receiving the hard copy shortly. The sad thing is that there are many fine students and faculty at FPU, and I will miss them. Your remarks, sir, dishonor all of them. Your comments paint them in the worst possible light as the very antithesis to everything that is Christ-like. Oh, and by the way, your letter also displays the usual pitch that Evangelicals use when they’re pandering for bucks. I’ve seen and heard it many times: it’s called “milking the persecution complex”.

    • Janet Appleton

      Your resignation is a true blessing to this Christian organization. Hopefully others who have similar thought to yours will resign as well.

    • Brian Bennett

      I thought you’d left already; I guess not, so get going.

  • Janet Lynn Kroeker

    I’m not sure if I’m more sad, embarrassed, or ashamed for you, to read this post Richard. I know I cannot support anything further from FPU based on this post – and, I’m encouraging all who I know, to discontinue support of FPU as well.

    You see, scripture is to be taken as a whole . . . and, the overriding message of the word of God is that God is love, and that we should be like God.

    God talks a lot about the LOVE of money, and how that can destroy. Perhaps this is where you might start in evaluating the wisdom of such a post.

    I hope all who read this post, withdraw any, and all support for FPU immediately.

    PAX

    • Brian Bennett

      So, you’re taking the “grace” position, that God loves us and we’re saved by grace. What about obedience? When Genesis, Leviticus, and Romans are quite clear on this issue, you want to focus on God’s love. You cannot spend your life focusing on love, and at the same time ignore God’s commandments.

  • James Ritchie

    Much the same talk of Christ supported those who held biblically-defined and firmly held convictions that miscegenation was anti-Christian, or views that government has a moral obligation to carry out the death penalty, or claims that Christ would lock up undocumented immigrants (as I read today of the words of an evangelical preacher hosted by Fox News). We tire entirely of those who spread bigoted judgment and cry insincere tears for some new darkness and loss of Christ in our culture when it is those very hypocrites about whom we were warned by Christ himself. Shame on those who both pray and hate in the full open sunlight and shame on your institution, if that is it’s message.

  • James Ritchie

    Much the same talk of Christ supported those who held biblically-defined and firmly held convictions that miscegenation was anti-Christian, or views that government has a moral obligation to carry out the death penalty, or claims that Christ would lock up undocumented immigrants (as I read today of the words of an evangelical preacher hosted by Fox News). We tire entirely of those who spread bigoted judgment and cry insincere tears for some new darkness and loss of Christ in our culture when it is by those very hypocrites about whom we were warned by Christ himself. Shame on those who both pray and hate in the full open sunlight and shame on your institution, if that is it’s message.

    • Janet Lynn Kroeker

      As a “cradle MB” I was raised with quite a different understanding of the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps herein lies part of the issue James Richie? I’m not sure that Richard Kriegbaum has a grasp of Anabaptist history, and especially the critical role of Jesus teachings in the beatitudes . . . . I hear you.

      • Brian Bennett

        I’m sure your “academic” status far surpasses Dr. Kriegbaum; get a move on…

  • Paul Slayton

    Two things make me shake my head in wonder here:

    1) The ease with which we polarize and divide ourselves as brothers and sisters, bisecting and harming the Body of Christ.

    2) Les Mark is still alive, and responds to blog posts.

    Extraordinary.

    Romans 14:13-23

    • Janet Lynn Kroeker

      Good thoughts Paul. It is concerning when the president of the school makes a polarizing statement. At the very least a bit of clarification might re-build the bridges burned in the original post?

      • Brian Bennett

        For someone so angry, I’m surprised you are still here…

  • Lots to think about

  • Drew

    This behavior is why most of us in the LGBT community don’t go to church. The church tells us we are second class citizens who don’t deserve equal rights under the law. The vast majority of “Christian” organizations such as the Catholics and Southern Babtists and even many if not most other Protestant organizations are always on the wrong side of history. Case in point: The Inquisition in Middle Age Europe burned at the stake hundreds of thousands of innocent people and was a genocide all but in name. All in the name of God. More recently, American slavery in the Antebellum South was justified by white elites by citing the parts of the bible that condone slavery. Apartheid was defended as being the way God ordered the world. So were Jim Crow laws. This stuff happens every time an oppressed group struggle against oppression and demand equal rights. The arguments used against gay marriage by “Christians” (and I put it in quotes because they aren’t really Christians since they don’t follow the teachings of Jesus to love thy neighbor) is the same arguments used against women being ordained, interracial marriage and the Civil Rights laws of the 60s. The only difference is they use different passages as proof texting. But when Jesus said love thy neighbor, he didn’t mean the person next door or the person who is just like you, has the same beliefs as you, etc. He said who is your neighbor? The Good Samaritan: the person who is totally unlike you, from a different country, with totally different beliefs and customs, from a different religion. He meant love others as you love yourself even when those others are everything you are not. That was a radical notion in Jesus’ time, and it is just as radical today. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone; another radical notion in a society that is so bent on punishment under the law and revenge. Jesus said, in Matthew’s Gospel, that the laws of David were made for us, we were not made for the law. But “Christians” don’t take these teachings from Jesus to heart and apply them universally, which is the only proper way to apply them since Jesus never said there were any exceptions. And that was his point. So you, Mr. Kriegbaum, are
    So far from Jesus’ example that I don’t consider you to be truly Christian. Kierkegaard said that to be a true Christian is the hardest thing in the world because it requires you to throw out everything you thought you knew about life and radically, without conditions, love as Jesus loved everyone. There is a word for that kind of love. It’s called Grace. Anything less is heresy, said Kierkegaard. Martin Luther said, “All sin begins in the name of God.” Think about that, and ponder all the corrupt and vile things the Church as a whole has done through history to oppress and murder people. What you are doing, Sir, is just that when you condemn the courts for giving us the equal right to marry. Marriage doesn’t hurt people. It builds families. Bigotry hurts people. Your bigotry hurts ME as a child of God being treated like a second class citizen for simply living as my authentic self, as God created me to be. Wake up and face the fact that you make a mockery of Christianity by condemning and oppressing God’s children in Jesus’ name.

    • puzzled

      I dont think this is why they don’t attend church. Making Christ Lord of their lives might mean giving up sexual fulfillment and apparently that is difficult. Yet we expect single straight folks to remain celibate outside of marriage. We expect those who are married in sexless marriages to remain faithful . . . but no, if you love someone of the same sex, it is violence to deny your urges. Seems a bit inconsistent.

      • Janet Lynn Kroeker

        You would be wrong. I can give you the names of at least 30 people who live within miles of me – who cannot bear to attend church because of this sort of abuse. Yes, abuse. It’s this kind of writing, thinking, and action that actually pushes many people to suicide – believing they are unloved. Yes, this CONDITIONAL love – is opposed to the gospel – and is like cursing someones life. Please don’t make statements about “sexual fulfillment” as if that is what GENDER is about. IT IS NOT. This is a common skew of those who just lack knowledge. I don’t mean to be rude, nor disdainful – the kinds of comments you are making hurt REAL PEOPLE – very deeply. Jesus talks a lot about this kind of judgement.

        • puzzled

          The suicide line is not substantiated. Did Jesus kill Judas?

          • Janet Lynn Kroeker

            I’m happy to share detailed documentation with you – but you choose to post as “puzzled” – which is anon. I don’t usually respond to those who have no courage to be known.

        • Brian Bennett

          You said you were leaving. What’s the problem?

      • FPU TUG Student

        Puzzled, please tell me why it is “They” don’t attend church, as I’m itching to hear your insight…

        What concerns me the most here is that our president is willing to allow us to possibly lose our government assistance (Which majority of students depend on) just to continue to uphold his bigoted and ignorant view on gay-marriage.

        Unless, that is, I misunderstood what the repercussions could/would be if FPU doesn’t eventually evolve with the rest of the nation on the topic of sexual orientation-based discrimination?

    • John Loewen

      I firmly agree with your stance that to follow Jesus means to love all others, and I try to follow that principle. However, that doesn’t mean I also have to love the sin in each person’s life. All of us have sin in our lives, whether publicly noticed or not. I have had some friends who were gay, though not always did I know it for a fact. That doesn’t prevent me from enjoying their friendship and loving them as God does.
      Many of the examples of bigotry you cite are not really valid in you argument. Just because some people or groups were mislead in their beliefs or actions doesn’t make a villain of God, only of the misguided.
      Standing for God’s command in His Word that we are not to murder others is not oppression of the murderers. Standing by God’s Word as to his purpose for marriage is not oppression of the people who wish to change His design. These are examples of honoring God by following His Word whether it makes us comfortable or not. And again, as a reminder to all who post here, loving all people regardless of their stance on His principles is part of following Him, just as standing against the actions God finds offensive but forgives each of us for, whether it be murder, lust, disrespect, and so on.

    • Clarification?

      Has it been proven that gayness has a biological basis? I don’t see a biological, genetic, or Biblical basis for God creating homosexuals. Evidence points to homosexual behavior as being chosen or emerging out of extreme stress.

  • Jim Enns

    Thanks, Richard. And to those who have responded, particularly those of the Mennonite Brethren and FPU family, are you aware of the statements on this subject in our “Confession of Faith”? What you have aspired, Richard, is in full harmony with that basic tenant within our “Confession” and the faith statement of Fresno Pacific.

    • Janet Lynn Kroeker

      Yes Jim, we are quite aware – and educated beyond FPU. The interpretation taken by Kriegbaum is polarizing, and seems quite unwise – rather than profound or righteous.

      • Brian Bennett

        Actually, Kriegbaum’s position is Biblical, as opposed to your lgbt rhetoric. Talk about being unwise!

        • John Loewen

          Janet, I think I read somewhere that you are the director of the peace program at FPU. It’s interesting to read your many comments here that promote anything but peace with your antagonistic remarks. You encourage all supporters to withdraw support, you imply that anyone you once had respect for no longer gets your respect because they disagree with you on this issue, etc. That is a poor basis for promoting peace and understanding. And not adhering to the truth of God’s Word on the subject doesn’t give you a Biblical basis for the work you are promoting.

      • Brian Bennett

        According to John Loewen (below), you’re the director of the PEACE program ! Really? I can’t believe that you, who espouse such antagonism, are not only involved in the Peace program, but you are the DIRECTOR! What a joke! It’s like Hillary being Secretary of State, yet, she doesn’t know what emails are “classified” or not! Are you kidding me? How you got that job/title is evidence enough that your “Peace Program” is a farce; You should RESIGN…

  • Anna

    This is one of the most un-Christian things I have ever read. Shame on you for twisting the words of Jesus, shame on you.

    • John Loewen

      Who is Jesus? According to you, he must not be God. The Word of God is quite clear on where God stands on sexuality outside of marriage between a man and a woman. Jesus IS God and the entire Bible IS His Word. Just because Jesus didn’t talk about it during his moment of life as a man on this Earth as recorded by his apostles does not mean he had no opinion on the subject. Your argument is based on picking and choosing which parts of the Bible you wish to accept. I believe the entire Bible is God’s infallible Word which reveals to us His stand on everything. And I believe Satan uses such un-wise arguments to deceive us and pull us away from God.

      • Brian Bennett

        Is Jesus actually God, or is he the son of God (relationship). He can’t be both at the same time. Not trying to argue…just to understand. Thank you.

        • John Loewen

          First of all, my comment above about Who is Jesus was in reply to another post other than Anna’s. But when I clicked on reply to the post I had intended and posted my reply, I found it attached to Anna’s post instead. It sort of fits, but not as well as the one I had intended to reply to. That post had said something about Jesus never said anything about homosexuality during His ministry here on earth. And now, I can’t seem to find that post anyway.

          As for your question, Brian, there are two directions an answer could take. First, I believe, as has been the core of Christianity for centuries, that God is a triune God made up of God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. I heard it compared once to mankind as we are made up of body, soul and spirit. If you accept that, as have so many through the centuries, then Jesus is God, not simply a separate being with a relationship to God. Therefore, anything God has said in His Word came from Jesus as well in his form as God.

          Second, if you don’t accept that, if you say that Jesus was a separate being as the son of God, then you deny His own statements and the prohecies about him and all the evidence to the contrary. Either He is God with His Father, or he is a separate being who cannot be god, because we worship the ONE true God of Abraham and so on. And if Jesus was not God incarnate, then He lied about His purpose and his death did nothing to bring us salvation in God’s eyes.

          The beauty of God’s plan for our salvation, in which He sent His Son to live among us and die for us, is that Jesus was indeed both God and man while He lived among us in physical form. If God is all powerful, why would you claim He can’t live among us in the physical form of a man and still be God? That’s what makes Jesus so unique in mankind’s history, and why His impact on all mankind is so pervasive and has survived in spite of the best efforts of those who wish to destroy Christianity. God sent Jesus as a part of Himself to experience life as a man and to create a path to redemption in God’s eyes for all of mankind. No other “person” has had the impact throughout the centuries like Jesus, a man we could know and still be God Himself.

          • Brian Bennett

            Thank you for responding to my question. Yes, I understand the church position; unfortunately, I’m going through a period of reflection that is an upheaval of all things previously believed. I’m just not sure that what the church espouses is entirely accurate. At this point, I’m not sure what to believe anymore. From youth to now: Methodist; Baptist; EV Free; Mennonite; New Covenant; Baptist; Messianic to nothing now. Actually, I’m 61, and terrified of dying and being separated from God because I didn’t “believe the ‘right’ thing.” Anyway, my problem in not knowing what to believe now is not your problem; it’s mine. Thank you for taking the time to reply to my initial post.

          • Steve Weaver

            The two key elements in our response to God’s good news in John 3:16 are 1) believing, and 2) in Him (Jesus). This, because of God’s love and gift of His Son, results in everlasting life — you become a forever person. It seems apparent from your post(s) that you believe in God, otherwise you wouldn’t be terrified by the thought of separation from Him. I would encourage you to simply bow your heart, mind (intellect), soul, and body (entire being) before our Lord and ask for His salvation, and the assurance of that salvation. As we surrender to His will, He is entirely able to save us, despite the deficiencies of our ability to fully comprehend Him or His truth. We are saved, by grace through faith, into a relationship with God. As we walk in submission and obedience that relationship grows, the Holy Spirit affirms and confirms us in our faith, and we realize we are saved not because of a theologically perfect position or understanding — but simple reception of Spirit revealed truth.

          • Brian Bennett

            I responded in a letter to Steve, David, and John; apparently, I cannot repost it three times. Thank you.

          • David Schwartz

            Brian, your fears and honesty brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. God knows you and loves you. He sent His own Son to bear and your sins and reconcile you to the Father. Maybe that’s the only right thing we need to believe. Peace and blessings to you.

          • Brian Bennett

            First of all, I would very much like to thank Steve, David, and John for taking the time to read my posts. I am not looking to cause trouble or argue; rather, I’m just really confused after years of sitting in pews. And I’m also wondering about issues like the Trinity (below). Lastly, I appreciate the three of you and the time you’ve taken to not only read my concerns, but also to write me back. I don’t attend church anymore because I don’t know of any place that would listen to my fears; I’m quite doubtful of church “rhetoric.” Thank you.

            Much of my confusion lies with the Trinity. My biggest frustration is I don’t know WHAT to believe; The idea of the Trinity wasn’t really established until after the Council of Nicea around 381. It was never discussed by Jesus/Yeshua nor the Jews. The Trinity doctrine does NOT claim that Yeshua is “part” of the Godhead. It claims that God is indivisibly one BEING and that all three persons in the ONE BEING are equally God, not parts of God. Secondly, the Trinitarian view does NOT claim that “Jesus” gave up his divinity in order to become a man. It claims that while he did empty himself, he nonetheless remained fully God — and fully Man. He was not a disguised God in human form nor a human being who was never God. He is both at once. How that works itself out is a “mystery.” The Trinitarian doctrine does NOT claim that Yeshua and the Spirit are “manifestations” of the ONE God. It claims that Yeshua and the Holy Spirit are separate but equal “persons” in the ONE GODHEAD. That, by the way, is the whole problem in a nutshell.

            None of this discussion changes the role of the Messiah, his authority (granted to him), his atonement, his Lordship, his relationship to Israel, his function in the creation or the fact that he existed before the creation of the world. Nor does it change the attribute “divine” when properly understood as the term elohim. Even Yeshua uses that term to attribute a role to men.

            I always understood the church’s position was the Trinity was three separate, distinct persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Yet, it seems that since God is a spirit (not physical), then Jesus/Yeshua is the physical manifestation of God’s glory, and the Holy Spirit is the invisible manifestation of God’s Glory. They are not three persons.

            So, here’s my real question: Are Yeshua and the Holy Spirit “persons” in the GODHEAD, individually identifiable but equally fully God? Does that make sense? What biblical support does it have? Thank you~

          • Norma Warkentin

            Excellent response

          • Brian Bennett

            I responded in a letter to you, Steve, and David. Apparently, I cannot repost it three times. Thank you.

  • Father o’ three

    Thank you so much for keeping your institution facing Christ. The nay-sayers have plenty of other colleges to choose from. This is bold leadership and should not be swayed by the negative winds around you. Based on these comments I will again encourage my children to consider a college completely on the other side of the country. It seems that the Mennonite Colleges in our areas think that they will remain relevant by becoming worldly, it sees your organization will be relevant by offering an alternative. Blessings as you serve.

  • Heidi F.

    As a former alum, I am saddened to see a post like this. The rights the LGBT community have rightfully gained, is something to celebrate, not something for “Christians” to wring their hands about. Shame.

    • Brian Bennett

      Why bother following God’s laws about obedience? Genesis, Leviticus, and Romans speak of the lgbt community. You’re focusing on “love” as opposed to obedience. Right…

  • Heidi F.

    Oh and while you are at it. You should probably read this post.

    http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/persecution-complex

    • Janet Lynn Kroeker

      The post by Kathy Held Evans is profound – and precisely the reason I am so, so sad to read most of these posts – many from people who I once thought highly of.

      • Brian Bennett

        That post was a joke, and a complete waste of time.

    • Brian Bennett

      I read your post; it was a complete waste of time.

    • John Loewen

      I also browsed the post and found it in the same vein as those who are excited by it. But those who follow God’s Word carefully would find little to cheer about in that post.

  • jim compton-schmidt

    the letter from the president that started this conversation was troubling but most of the responses have been of great reasurrance to me….i am NOT a craddle mennonite (surely not an m.b.for sure) and i came into the radical reformation church because of what i saw as strong active pacifism and a strong committment to peace and social justice issues…. did i think there was a universal acceptance of gays in our midst? of course not, ALL main line churches have been effected by fundementalist, charismatic, pentecostal, dispensational thinking since the 1920’s and mennonites have not been missed in this wrong thinking (my words perhaps not truth as such.)….thanks for the supportive comments regarding the “gays in our midst.”…

    jim compton-schmidt, first mennonite church, reedley, ca (past counselor at kingview psychiatric hospital which closed in the early 1990’s and was never reported as such even until today…shame on us all for that having happened….)

  • Marshall DenHartog

    At the heart of your communication was a call to “learn new ways to demonstrate the loving kindness and compassion to which God calls us, when what we believe is moral behavior is considered immoral by the world around us” and “discern how to show love to those who detest us and call us hateful for proscribing behaviors that we consider immoral and wrong, but which the world around us considers moral and good”.

    If people on both sides of divisive issues pursued a similar heart to love those who disagreed with them, we would hear less about shame and condemnation and more about “authentically show(ing) the love of God to all persons”. We pledge to double our commitment to an institution lead by those who would encourage people to love those that disagree with them.

    • Janet Lynn Kroeker

      This is a lovely thought – but the concept of “forbearance” in coming to the conversation implies that there is a balance. This is not the case, as Kriegbaum speaks from a position of power and control. At best his plea to “learn new ways to demonstrate the loving kindness and compassion to which God calls us, when what we believe is moral behavior is considered immoral by the world around us” can only be perceived as polarizing, and thus a contradiction in itself. Sad that you have chosen to take a side that is not in any sort of “balance.” Judas deceived with a kiss on the cheek – remember?

    • Jonathan Keller

      Amen, Marshall!

      • John Loewen

        I second my Amen to that, Marshall!

  • Most non-believers have no personal reason to see Christians negatively, but they sometimes hear so much from the loud anti-Christians that they just assume it is so. They need examples of Christ-like living to see the truth. Of course, when someone claiming to be a Christian says or does something that is not Christ-like, the angry, loud crowd is there to identify him as a typical religious hypocrite.

  • It’s awesome to see this blog post. Thanks so much for sharing. God has had to minister to all of us on how to continue being Christ like after the Supreme Court passed down its decision. I agree with you that we have to be very discerning and careful. I do know we cannot back down from what we know is right and moral. God said it best we are in this world but not of this world. No matter how corrupt the world be we must continue to tell the Truth with love. After the decision was made, I was looking at the scripture that says, “Wise is a man who wins SOULS.” God was showing me it is not their spirits or their bodies, we are after but their SOULS, satan has corrupted these people mind and we must find away to help them see God’s truth concerning homosexuality and the only way we can do it is by the fruits of the spirit and one day at a time. Thanks again for sharing, I look forward to reading more.

  • Peter Falk

    I agree with people who have posted how disgusting this blog post is by Richard Kreigbaum. I also agree that it is based upon doing what he does best – raise money. But I think that it is important to realize that he has not done it intentionally because that would be too easy and it would also be embarrassing for him. I was reminded of this excellent quote by Rick Tosches in his book Under Tiberius, “for the best of shills are those who do not believe they are shilling but believe they are advancing a truth, and the most desirable of all accomplices are those who are unaware of the conspiracy of which they are a part.”

  • HollywoodinSJ

    I’m looking for a Christian college for my daughter & this is exactly what I’m looking for from the administration. Clarity. We’ll be taking a closer look at your school because you stand for biblical principles & are not willing to succumb to the winds of change going around in our secular society. God Bless & I hope you have a great school year!

    • GodisLove

      Pillar College in New Jersey. Great college.

  • Krystal Youngblood

    Love the sinner not their choices! FPU has strong foundations and should not conform to those the world sees moral. As a FPU alumni I am disappointed in those that believe that supporting the choices and lifestyles of the LGBT community is the same as showing love. No where in Jesus’ teachings does he condone the immoral choices of a sinner, but instead he shows love to the person not their sins. And I think everyone can do a better job at showing love to all people!

  • LogicAndEvidence

    There is something that I as a non-Christian taxpayer, do not understand: why should my tax dollars be used to fund discrimination against me? I don’t ask churches to use their tithing dollars in a way that discriminates against them.

    If FPU wants funding from a secular source I contribute to (the federal budget), then it has to go by the secular rules that created it. If it does not want to go by those rules, our US Constitution guarantees their right to operate free of interference, but without government aid. That should be enough. Anything more is privileged treatment by our government of a religious institution, and that is specifically disallowed by the First Amendment.

  • scottrose

    Take your gay-bashing Bible, stick it down your anti-gay bigot throat sideways and choke on it and then wash it down with Jesus Freak Kool-Aid.

    • Brian Bennett

      You’re funny!

  • TP

    I graduated from Fpu in 2010. And I enjoyed my time there. I re-gained my faith because of Fpu and the people who guided me and supported me. I am glad to see that Fpu is staying true to the word of God and not being swayed with the ideas of acceptance that this world pushes on us everyday.

  • Janet Cash

    Thanks for speaking the truth in love, Richard Kriegbaum. I am, and will always be a proud alumnus of this school! C/O 2001 and 2002

  • Harlan Elrich

    I applaud Dr. Kriegbaum for taking a firm Christian stance. I am proud to be an adjunct faculty member and a financial supporter of such a fine Christian University! Well spoken Rich!

  • Erik Brotemarkle

    How’s that plank in your eye?

    • Brian Bennett

      No plank; you must need glasses! 🙂

  • Steve Weaver

    Thank you Dr. Kriegbaum, for your thoughtful, principled, biblical, and irenic statement on the changes that are taking place in our country politically, and how we as Christians must respond to them. Your vision and leadership are appreciated! Be encouraged that our “I AM” was, is, and will always be unchanged, through the shifting sands of human folly and cultural change, and He is forming and shaping His character in our eternal lives even in the midst of all that opposes Him and His will as revealed in the Scriptures. Be blessed!

  • Brian Bennett

    I have been alerted that there is a Brian Bennett in this discussion that is posting things that I may not agree with. Please be aware that there are often people with the same names that have very different views on issues. I am not joining this blog other to defend my name against statements attributed to me that were made by a different Brian Bennett. If you wish to hear my viewpoint on this subject we can meet face to face in a non passive aggressive manner and have a mature, adult conversation.

  • Craig Lundgren

    I don’t think you are doing your university or your church a service with this article First, the idea that the United States migtht have been a christian nation until the moment the Supreme Court ruled that gays have as much a right to marry as straight people is absurd. What about slavery and centuries of opresson of black people. What about this nation’s current indiffernce to the poor, the prisoners, the widows? What about its glorification of wealth and power? In what way did you see these things and think “christian?” And how is it that your equate your absurd reaction to a supreme court ruling as being “christ-like.” What exactly did Christ have to say about gays, except perhaps his willingess to heal the centurians servant? Nothing. He never condemned homosexuals. I read this passagel and all I see is is a privleged man, wedded to his privilege, and feeling that if he let’s the possiblity of opressing others slip from his fingers, he has lost something very precious. And all this he equates with being “Christlike.” I am disappointed, and saddened.