An Open Letter to Dr. Horton

Dr. Arlin Horton
Pensacola Christian College
P.O. Box 18000
Pensacola, Florida 32503

Dr. Horton,

Let me start off by saying that I am not writing this letter in a spirit of animosity; rather, I am writing this in an attempt to rectify what are now strongly opposed and publicly discussed ideas. As a president of a college, ideas should be something of importance to you, although your recent actions regarding The Student Voice and your common practice of repressing discussion of any ideas which you deem unacceptable have indicated otherwise.

Your refusal to address any substantive issues that have, not simply been raised by The Voice, but have been expressed for others (including your own students, faculty and staff) through the common voice of my newsletter (except for authority, in which case you clearly mischaracterized my views) has demonstrated the school’s timidity in defending its own policies. If I am wrong, then you have all the means and minds at your disposal to demonstrate this to our ever-expanding audience. But if I am right, then you ought to be willing to acknowledge this and consider change.

This is not about who should run the college. You have proven yourself quite capable of doing this; I have not. However, this does not preclude all who have never run a college from being capable of pointing out double standards, inconsistencies and just plain nonsense, just as you and I are equally capable of legitimately criticizing our government, even though neither of us have any experience running it.

So, I have an idea. Why don’t we set up a debate between me and anyone you choose, on YOUR terms? It would be academically worthwhile and intellectually stimulating; besides, when was the last time PCC sponsored a good debate? These are your policies, and you should be willing to defend and substantiate them, especially since you hold the college out to be a direct “idea that came from God.” (page 1, “General Info” on PCC’s official web site.) My only requests are these:

1.) The debate be about your policies, nothing else.
2.) It take place in a freely-accessible public forum, at a mutually convenient time, during the school year.
3.) Whatever rules apply to you also apply to me.

This is not a publicity stunt on my behalf, for I never wanted the publicity in the first place. I am very serious, though, and for you to back down to this debate, if you so choose, will be duly noted to the hundreds and hundreds of people who read my newsletter and who browse our web page.

Please remember that you have already publicly acknowledged The Student Voice, and so to choose to ignore it at this point and to pretend that it does not warrant your acknowledgment only indicates that you were unsuccessful in your first attempt to publicly denounce me and my newsletter.

It is time to stop hiding behind walls and formalities and to stand up in defense of your own policies. Whether or not you choose to admit it, they are looked at with scorn by numerous people, independent of their knowledge, or lack thereof, of The Voice. Many people are requesting to hear your side of this “debate,” and here is the perfect opportunity for you to back up your
own policy of forbidding any student to read The Voice. The reason for this policy is because you believe that what I say is wrong. I am, therefore, now proposing an opportunity for you to explain PCC’s policies and to answer The Voice. I sincerely hope you will accept this offer.

Sincerely,
/s/ Paul S. Perdue
Paul S. Perdue
The Student Voice
[address and phone number redacted in this archival copy]

Myths About Christianity: Christianity Stifles Personal Freedom

Many people today accept a number of myths about Christianity, with the result that they never respond to Jesus as He really is. This is one of ten articles that speak to some of these misconceptions.

Freedom is the prevailing cry of the world today, the overwhelming preoccupation of individuals and nations. Yet even though Scripture speaks of a liberty that Christ offers (Eph. 5:1-12), some people resist Christianity as itself an obstacle to freedom. Is this view of the faith justified?

On the face of it, it seems strange to identify Christianity as an enemy of freedom. After all, Christians have historically stood up for the poor, the oppressed, the captive, and the underprivileged. Likewise, liberation from ignorance, disease, and political oppression have invariably resulted wherever Christian faith and principles have been adopted. Why, then, would
some view the faith as repressive?

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the problem of legalism. Whenever Christianity is made into a list of do’s and don’ts, it becomes intolerant and restrictive. Instead of enjoying an intimate relationship with a loving God, the legalist is obsessed with rules and regulations, as if God were a celestial Policeman just waiting to catch us out of line.

To be sure, Christ does make demands on us that sometimes limit our autonomy. But true Christianity sees this as part of a relationship based on love and grace, not unlike a healthy marriage in which both partners sometimes sacrifice their own desires in order to serve the other. But even if there were no legalists, many people would still resist Christianity because they resist any standards that would place absolute claims on them. To them, freedom means pure autonomy–the right to do whatever they want, with no accountability to anyone else. But surely that leads to irresponsibility and license rather than freedom. Nor do people really live that way. Sooner or later they choose one course of action over another, based on some set of values. In other
words, they surrender their will to standards, whether good or bad, and act accordingly. So it is not just the values of Christianity that “stifle” personal freedom, but values in general.

The real question, of course, is what kind of people are we? What is our character? Christians try to mold their character after the pattern of Jesus. He was the most liberated man who ever lived. His ultimate standard of behavior was, what does My Father want Me to do (John 8:29)? Did that code stifle His freedom? Hardly: He was utterly free of covetousness, hypocrisy, fear of others, and every other vice. At the same time He was free to be Himself, free to love people with warmth and purity, and free to surrender His life for others.

True Christian freedom is Christlike freedom. There is no hint of legalism about it. It accepts absolute moral standards that are well known and well proven, and it takes its inspiration from the most liberated human being who ever lived, Jesus of Nazareth. What is stifling about that?