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Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014

Repentance and Public Account: Life at the King's College in the Wake of D'Souza-gate

October 24, 2012|5:33 pm

Dinesh D'Souza's departure from The King's College amid allegations of immoral behavior was an obvious and necessary step if the college wished to maintain credibility as a Christian institution. However, on the King's College campus – as in the Christian and secular media – questions are still being asked, both about whether the action of the board was proper and whether WORLD Magazine was justified in airing such personal accusations in a public forum.

The Board of Trustees voted to accept D'Souza's resignation as president Thursday after WORLD Magazine reported that he had introduced a woman at a Christian conference in South Carolina as his fiancée while still married to his wife of 20 years. Conference organizers also alleged, according to WORLD, that D'Souza and the woman shared a hotel room during the event (though D'Souza has denied this allegation).

Most of the questions raised by these troubling events appear to find their root in a fundamental lack of understanding about the manner in which a private, Christian college fits into the framework of leadership and discipline outlined in the New Testament. We know that sin within the church is to be addressed first on a personal level; next on a leadership level; and finally on a corporate level. We know that in our democratic republic, civil obedience involves subjecting public officials to public scrutiny in order to preserve the integrity of the ruling body. However, a private, Christian college does not easily fit into either of these categories. How then are we to respond biblically to the alleged sin of a leader in such an institution?

On a personal level, it seems reasonable to place the president of a Christian college somewhere between deacon and elder on Paul's scale of qualifications and responsibilities, as expressed in 1 Timothy 3. The President's high level of visibility to the world and significant influence over the flock require that he be held to a higher standard than a deacon, while his relative deficiency of personal ministration excuses him from some of the responsibilities of an elder. A reasonable debate can be had about where on the spectrum between these two the office of president ought to lie. Undoubtedly, the president seems to functions more as a teacher and leader than as a servant, which suggests the office leans more toward the higher standard of elder. However, regardless of where you place the office on the spectrum, it is clear that marital fidelity is a prerequisite for its proper discharge.

When the transgressions of one who serves in the Body of Christ in such a role would disqualify him for office, what then is the proper response? The first step would appear to be a personal call for repentance and resignation. According to WORLD reporter Warren Cole Smith's account of events, this response was at least partially executed by "first-responders," such as conference organizer Tony Beam. The pertinent question then becomes why Smith and WORLD Magazine editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky, when confronted with allegations of D'Souza's infidelity, chose to bypass the next logical step of a formal hearing with the The King's College Board of Trustees and skip straight to an appeal to public outrage. If a prosecution in the courts of law is unacceptable amongst unified believers, than surely a trial in the court of public opinion must be – at best – a last resort. What, then, was Smith and Olasky's justification for fracturing the unity of the body of Christ in the eyes of the world?

Perhaps these men, both of whom had maintained a previous affiliation with The King's College, both of whom some say left the school under less than amicable circumstances, did so out of a desire for vengeance or personal gain, as some are now claiming. Perhaps they wished to justify their own actions, or to enhance the comparative reputation of King's scholastic competitors. Those familiar with their reputations find that highly unlikely. More likely is this: Olasky's and Smith's primary concern was not with the moral character of D'Souza, but with the biblical credibility of the board that appointed him. Perhaps the biggest issue was not whether D'Souza should continue to act as president, but why, in the first place, a Christian board would choose to install a president who seemed to be more concerned with Government than with God, more interested in serving the Conservative movement than Christ, more obsessed with Obama than Orthodoxy. Perhaps Olasky's real concern was a board all too willing to ride the coattails of a political rabble-rouser into the limelight by appointing a president all too willing to apologize for Christian doctrine. The alleged moral failings of D'Souza could certainly have been addressed in a private meeting with the board, but what if the issue were the failings of the board itself? This could only be addressed in a public forum. Olasky had his private hearing with the board two years ago, when he served on the presidential search committee. Perhaps it was time now for a public accounting, so that the people of God might no longer be deceived.

D'Souza's resignation was right and proper. But this alone will not solve the problem. Amputation will not cure leprosy. Dinesh D'Souza is only a symptom; the disease is a board that – although reportedly well aware of D'Souza marital difficulties and theological shortcomings at the outset of his presidency – was apparently willing to place expediency above biblical duty.

There is still hope for The King's College. On Thursday, October 18, Board of Trustees Chairman and Acting President Andy Mills announced to a student assembly that the search for a new president would begin immediately and apologized for becoming so enamored with D'Souza that disappointment was inevitable. If the board proceeds with such a humble and repentant attitude, then King's can once again become a place where the word of God is lived out in public service. And as a result of Olasky, Smith and WORLD Magazine, we can hold the board to this lofty standard. If the standard is not upheld, however, we – as students, alumni, donors and parents -- should be asking ourselves one question: How long can we reasonably expect God to bless an institution that places a higher emphasis on fame, fortune and political clout that it does on Christian service through rigorous academic discipline? Woe be to those who would, like Ananias and Sapphira, forsake virtue for personal gain.

John Rabe Jr. is a Politics, Philosophy and Economics major in his junior year at The King's College.
Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/repentance-and-public-account-life-at-the-kings-college-in-the-wake-of-dsouza-gate-83890/