The Second Wave

Without getting into a debate over evolution and the theory of natural selection and social growth, it can be said that to a significant degree of certainty, many aspects of human life are subject to some sort of metamorphosis. We change, and we do so both willingly and unwillingly. Our environments change, and so we adjust accordingly. Our minds grow, and therefore we act differently.

Throughout the history of civilization, we can observe numerous instances where people, things and ideas are subject to some form of metamorphosis or another. Sometimes it will be huge, other times it will be small. For instance, the last 200 years have seen a tremendous metamorphosis in technology. From the horse and buggy to the space shuttle, we have seen a world-wide change in the way we deal with and use nature for our benefit. On a smaller scale, many of us can look back at the last 20 years or so of our family history and testify to witnessing a change in “family thinking.” Those who are the oldest child with several younger siblings can often look back at the way they were brought up, and when comparing that with the way the youngest child was brought up, we can see that there is a marked difference. Both of these instances are examples of how we as humans are all subject to metamorphosize, whether we want to or not.

Many people are outwardly opposed to change, yet they allow themselves to change with the times without ever realizing it. Many people will overtly express their dissatisfaction with changes in policy, ideas or institutional action, yet they will allow themselves to change when clothing styles change, when technology changes for the better, and when science discovers something new and better, they will applaud this “new” discovery with hearty approval.

Change is not bad, but change often has serious ramifications. Sometimes, though, the ramifications of change are merely interesting rather than important. We will leave this distinction alone and focus on a metamorphosis that is relevant to what is discussed in The Student Voice.

For the first several months that The Voice was put out, the disagreements and counter-“ideas” were not substantive, but rather peripheral. They centered primarily on two things: anonymity and rebellion. That is what we were constantly bombarded with time and time again. Once we took the time to explain these concerns and discuss them openly and with all sides having a free say, the truth came out. Anonymity, while perhaps not the most desirable characteristic, was not at all “wrong” and it certainly did not change the substance of what was said. Rebellion could not be
applicable because in order for the people against whom rebellion was charged to, in fact, be rebellious, those same people would have to be subject to the authority of those against whom the alleged rebellion was directed. We were not. Therefore, after some time, most people seemed to come to understand the nature of these ideas, and although many people claimed that The Voice
was wrong simply because of one or both of these ideas, we think it has been fairly convincingly settled that those people were mistaken, although no doubt well-intentioned.

But now there are two new ideas that are the primary disagreements with The Voice. They are not substantive by any stretch of the imagination, but rather they are again peripheral notions of “theology” or perhaps “morality.” The disagreement with the things The Voice says is in a state of metamorphosis. Those same people who DO NOT wish to see change at PCC are nevertheless changing in the way they frame their disagreement with The Student Voice. We find this very interesting, for all of us will change when we feel change is important enough. We will all undergo a metamorphosis when it clears our conscience and is to our benefit. In other words, PCC should not change, but we can.

The two ideas that are the new focus of debate are simply these: (1)what happens at PCC is none of our business, and (2) Dr. Horton will answer to God for PCC, not us. Therefore, The Voice should never again open its proverbial mouth. These are really two very similarly related concepts, but we would like to deal with them separately.

1. What Happens At PCC Is None of Our Business.

This seems to be based on the general proposition that because we no longer attend PCC, what happens there should not be our concern. Apparently, only those directly involved have the responsibility to say what needs to be said. Assuming that this is all the farther this idea would go, and assuming that this general proposition is correct on its face, it is still not
accurate. As alumni, we ARE still involved. We are all part of an alumni association, albeit a weak one, and we are all therefore part of an organization that is directly involved with PCC. No, we no longer attend classes. No, we no longer pay tuition. No, we no longer subject ourselves to the myriad of rules and regulations, but we are still a part of PCC by being members of the alumni association.

Now, I must confess that I have no idea what the purpose is for this “association.” To my knowledge, I have never been asked for money. I have been asked to vote for officers several times, although I am not sure WHY I am voting for them. Obviously, though, they want us to, in some way, to be a part of PCC. Fine. Then let us be a part. Now, back to the general proposition that since we no longer attend PCC, what happens there is no longer our business because it is the business of those who attend. Well, the fallacy of this notion should be clear on its
face. Those who are there can say or do nothing that is in opposition to the generally established “spirit.” So, even assuming it IS their responsibility, they are prohibited from exercising that responsibility.

The primary reasons, we believe, that what happens at PCC IS, in fact, partly our responsibility is twofold. First, as Christians, we are called to be the salt and the light in this world (Matt. 5:13-16). Being the salt means that we are to preserve all that is right and good in this world. Obviously, this will often entail getting involved in things that we are not directly involved in, for if we are living as we should, we will not in and of ourselves be that which needs the salt. Therefore, for us to be the salt means we must supplant ourselves in “the business of others.”

Abuse of authority at student’s expense, commercialized Christianity, and repression of one’s ability to think are not things that are right or good. Neo-legalism is not merely “not good,” but it is flat out wrong. If we are to fulfill our calling as salt, we must preserve wherever preservation is needed.

Being the light in a dark world does not only mean showing forth the light ourselves. It also means ensuring that those institutions which have a greater ability to show forth the light of the gospel continue at their maximum potential. While PCC does currently show forth the gospel to some degree, the potential it has is greatly diminished by its heavy focus on trivial internal matters. How one looks is more important than how one is spreading the gospel. A student can go a whole semester without ever telling one person about the gift of salvation, and the “spirit” will be strong and healthy and no one will say a word; but if that student lets his hair grow too long, the spirit is hampered and he will have the official rules police on his case in no time. What does this tell you about PCC’s focus and whether or not they are reaching maximum potential in reaching the lost and educating young people?

The second reason why we think it is partly our responsibility to get involved is because every institution must have some system of checks and balances. PCC has none, and I challenge anyone reading this to justify how a human institution can legitimately set itself up without any accountability. This flies in the face of the very basic nature of human construction. We are sinful, and so we must be accountable. Without getting into the second idea of Dr. Horton being accountable to God for PCC, let it be noted that God uses humans to provide systems of checks and balances. Why else, then, would we need a government?

PCC must be accountable for its actions. It cannot do whatever it wishes and then not expect anyone to ever say anything negative. It cannot act with total disregard of the fact that its actions carry with it some measure of responsibility. Assuming that PCC does do something wrong – remember, even Dr. Horton admitted that it is not perfect – who has the burden of pointing these things out? Those who have a direct interest in maintaining what is wrong? This would be absurd! How about those who are directly involved by current attendance? We think this is where the accountability should lie, but it is prohibited by the administration. What about the general Christian community? To some extent, yes, but the general Christian community by itself is not well-enough informed. How about, then, the alumni? This is where the most effective system of accountability could be conducted.

(1) We know the system;

(2) we no longer have a direct interest, although we certainly do have at least an indirect interest in the fact that our name and reputation still contain the fact that we have a degree from PCC;

(3) we can be much more objective than those within the system;

(4) we have a wealth of diverse experience and knowledge that we can bring to the table.

You see, the alumni is the perfect group of people, with the help of the numbers within the Christian community, to point out the things that need to be changed at PCC and to help influence this change.

2. Dr. Horton Will Answer to God For PCC, Not Us.

As a technical matter, yes, this is true. Dr. Horton will answer for his actions just as all of us will answer for ours. Since Dr. Horton is the head of PCC, he will answer for PCC, not us. However, this ignores history, reality and theology.

Let us look at history. What if all of the great leaders had used this same line of reasoning? What if Martin Luther had not challenged the Catholic church because, after all, the Pope would answer for how he ran the church, not Martin Luther? Or what if George Washington had decided not to challenge George III because, after all, King George would answer to God for how England was run, not George Washington? Or what if Billy Graham had decided not to worry about the lost of this world because, after all, they will answer to God for their own actions, not Billy Graham.

History indicates that while people will answer for their own actions, this does not preclude us from doing our best to effect change where change needs to take place. While we are not responsible for the actions of others, we DO have a responsibility to do our best to see that others do not abuse their responsibility. Can we sit back and say nothing to those who peddle in pornography because they will answer for their own actions, not us? Can we remain silent to the horror of abortion because, after all, those who engage in it will answer to God, not us? Of course not!

While the issues we deal with regarding PCC are not in magnitude similar to those of abortion or pornography, they are still important. To try to silence someone on the basis that they are not responsible to God for another’s actions is to ignore the very clear lessons of history.

Reality also indicates that this is not good reasoning. Part of being in a civilized society is the fact that we must consider and be subject to certain societal laws. We cannot do whatever we want and then say that because we are the only one who will answer to God for our action, everyone else is precluded from saying anything and criticizing that which deserves to be criticized. When we do things that affect society, society has a reasonable expectation to be able to comment on what is done. When PCC advertises itself to the community as something, how can anyone say that that same community may not look into what PCC is advertising? If PCC claims to be a Christian organization, why is the Christian community unable to determine for themselves whether or not PCC is, in fact, a Christian organization? Yes, Dr. Horton will answer for how he runs the college, but this has nothing to do with the fact that we may examine what he does in order to determine whether or not the product he is selling is a good product.

Some would say that we should let the free market take care of it (actually, no one has said it, so let me say it first). If this is a business, as we claim it is, then let the forces of the market determine the outcome of PCC. Let the consumers decide whether or not they want the product, and if it is as “bad” as The Voice maintains, then let the consumers stop buying the product.

There is only one problem with this – most consumers do not know what the product is that they are buying. PCC is an example of marketing genius, but when the student arrives on campus, he or she quickly realizes that what was marketed is not quite what he or she is getting. Some don’t mind, others do, and most people try to take PCC’s word for the proposition that PCC is a good, wholesome, Christian college.

To say that we should not say anything because Dr. Horton is solely responsible for his actions is to ignore reality.

This proposition also ignores theology. As Christians, particularly those who are students, we have a responsibility to examine and study the Scriptures with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (Prov. 15:28; II Timothy 2:15; Acts 17:11) We here at The Voice find it amazing that there is such a negative attitude towards critical thinking and the examination of Scriptural principle at an institution which classifies itself as one of “higher learning.” Where else is one supposed to learn to think than at a college? And where else is one supposed to learn to examine the Scriptures critically than at a Christian college?

Truth is something that we should not be afraid of, yet those who oppose The Voice continually ignore the truth. At first, it was anonymity and rebellion, not the truth of what The Voice said. It is now not our business and Dr. Horton’s responsibility, not the truth of what The Voice says. Why is this? Why is it that Christians will let PCC do whatever it wants without any accountability at all? If it is not a perfect institution, then why do so many of you act like it is?

The second wave of Voice criticism is simply a sign of a continual metamorphosis, and as long as those stalwarts of PCC can change in their thinking of what The Voice says, we are confident that in time the PCC administration will do the same. Metamorphosis is not the Big Bang, it cannot happen overnight, but this change is encouraging to us, as it indicates that the unchangeable can, in fact, be changed.

The Mayor’s New Ideas

Once upon a time, in a land where the sun was warm and the ocean breezes drew tourists in droves with the anticipation of enjoying the exquisiteness of an endless summer, a place where the blue skies merged with the green of palm trees to outline the essential beauty of nature, there was situated a small, prosperous community. This community was known to those who lived there as well as those who were familiar with it as TCC – The Christian Community.

TCC was a rather unique community in that while the society around it prided itself in, and existed on its belief in its history of honorable men and women who sacrificed their blood, youth, and innocence for the freedom to live without governmental institutions that were overbearing and unduly restrictive, TCC provided an example of the other end of this political spectrum – it was a microcosm of an authoritarian, repressive government.

But its structural circumstances were unique, and everyone seemed to be, for the most part, happy, thus rendering renewed meaning to the phrase, “ignorance is bliss.”

The mayor of this community was a man by the name of Carlin Morton. Carlin was a fairly well-respected man. He ran the community with a tight fist and an iron law that basically came down to his word, regardless of whether or not that word was consistent with or in contradiction to any pre-established norms, standards or premises.

While Carlin was concerned about the day-to-day activities of his community, he had a particular interest in unique ideas. These ideas were an unusual mix of philosophy, theology and sociology that resulted in a potpourri of well-intentioned, but often imprecise standards. But he loved these ideas. He loved them more than anything else in the world, because they were his, and they were unique only to him.

He would often travel to other communities and towns to show his ideas, and people who aspired to wear the cloak of these ideas would also frequently visit TCC to see for themselves Carlin’s ideas. They were magnificent, no one could doubt that; and they were powerful, for no one would admit otherwise.

Virtually everyone in the community praised Carlin for his ideas, ideas he wore with the ease of a conqueror. His ideas, you see, had allowed TCC to grow fat on the material gains it derived from their application (not to mention some good, old-fashioned business savvy). The community had everything you could imagine – beautiful houses, immaculate gardens and landscaping, cutting-edge instruments for the pursuit of science, entertainment facilities. . . you name it – all as a result of Carlin’s ideas, and all because they were unique, and different from anyone else’s.

One day, some swindlers came to TCC to introduce some new ideas to the mayor. No one really knew these swindlers, or even that they WERE swindlers. These men had simply seen the opportunity to make a profit off of Carlin’s love of unique ideas. They set up a meeting with the mayor and introduced to
him their proposal.

“Mr. Morton,” one of them started, “we have some ideas that we think will go marvelously with your existing collection.”

“Splendid! What do you have in mind?” returned Carlin, obviously delighted with the idea of new and even more exquisite ideas.

“Well, what my partner and I had in mind was this. Many of your townspeople spend a lot of time outdoors reading this Book together, called the Bible, where everyone, particularly visitors can see them.

“Go on,” replied Carlin.

“And since this Book supposedly allows people to read it freely wherever and whenever they wish, to prohibit them from reading it in only CERTAIN places will make your community look better AND will give you a new, unheard-of idea!”

“Magnificent!” exclaimed Carlin, “but how do you intend to devise this new idea?”

“Well,” replied the swindlers, “it may take us a few days and some money, but we promise you it can be done. And one other thing – the validity of this idea has a special quality. The idea’s validity will become invisible to anyone who is stupid, rebellious or who is unfit for his job.”

So, Carlin agreed, and the swindlers got to work immediately. They set up headquarters in a suite of offices located out of the sight of the regular townspeople. They brought in their books and their treatises, their encyclopedias and their religious texts (for you see, this was essentially a religious idea), and they began to work. Night after night they toiled, formulating their imaginary idea.

The mayor was so anxious to see this new idea that he called into his office his vice mayor to have him take a look at the new idea. He knew the vice mayor wasn’t rebellious or stupid and that he was perfectly fit for his job. Therefore, he thought to himself, the vice mayor would be the perfect person to check on the progress of this new, magnificent idea. So the vice mayor went to the swindler’s suit to observe the idea’s status.

“Oh my,” thought the vice mayor to himself, “I can’t see any validity to this idea!” He was obviously disturbed, for he knew he wasn’t a rebellious person, he wasn’t stupid (after all, he had a Ph.D.), and he felt himself fit for his job.

“The idea is starting to make a lot of sense, gentlemen. I know the mayor will be quite pleased,” commented the vice mayor with an unsettling sense of anguish in his soul.

A few days later the mayor took with him the vice mayor and a few of his highest ranking officials in the community to see this new idea. The two swindlers proudly displayed the structure, text and foundation of this new idea. They called it the “Devotions Policy.”

“I don’t see a thing! Surely I am not unfit for my job,” fretted the mayor in his mind. “The idea is exactly what I want!” he exclaimed out loud to the swindlers.

The mayor’s officials didn’t see anything either, but they weren’t about to admit that there was no validity to this new idea called the Devotions Policy. It’s premise couldn’t be weak, for the mayor himself admitted to seeing it. It didn’t go contrary to all they said they believed because they WERE fit for their jobs. These were the kinds of internal turmoils that were churning like a burning cauldron in the pit of each official’s stomach – the Devotions Policy was a splendid idea they all outwardly admitted, yet none could internally rationalize or see it.

Meanwhile, the community at TCC had been waiting anxiously for the unveiling of this new idea. They had always respected Carlin for his ideas, even though many of them didn’t make much sense.

The swindlers were putting on the final touches when the mayor asked his vice mayor to call all the townspeople together for the announcement of the new idea. It would be a festival and a time for celebrations, although each person had to get permission to leave work from their Form Supervisors. The
anticipation was building. Each person knew the special quality that this new idea possessed, and so they were all eagerly awaiting to be able to objectively prove that they were neither stupid, rebellious, nor unfit for their particular job.

Finally, the day came for the reading of the new Devotions Policy. All of the townspeople were gathered at the town’s main center which was generally used for big announcements and festivities, the Vale Morton Auditorium. The people were excited. They loved Carlin and everything he did.

The mayor got up slowly, pulled out a piece of paper from his coat pocket, and read the details of the new idea. This Devotions Policy was simply a prohibition of, and a sanction against, anyone reading and studying this Book, called the Bible, in certain public areas.

Sure, ideas similar to this had been used for centuries to shut down “religious” folks. In fact, it was rumored that there was even a story in this Book about some Hebrew named Daniel who faced a similar “idea.” The freedom to worship how one pleased was a sensitive issue in the country, but not to the community at TCC. They didn’t care what went on around them, for Carlin said it was ok, and if Carlin said it was ok, it didn’t matter what anyone else said.

As the idea was pronounced, all of the people nodded in agreement. They each espoused an acknowledgment that this idea truly was wise, yet amazingly unique. However, while all were in outward agreement, not a one of them could see the validity of this idea, yet they were not about to admit to this
fact, because they knew what it would say about them individually – they were either stupid, rebellious, or unfit for their jobs. So the public praise continued unabated. . . until someone spoke out.

A representative of some community group called The Prudent Choice stepped up and shouted, “Hey, look! The mayor has no idea! There is no validity to this Devotions Policy!” And the crowd gasped, but they all knew in their hearts and in their minds that it was true.

The mayor’s reaction was one of surprise and defensiveness, but to this day, the community is still waiting for the mayor to acknowledge the emptiness and illegitimacy of this idea, and that the swindlers did just that – swindled away the spiritual maturity and exploited the intelligence of an entire population. . . and they are still laughing all the way to the bank.

A Common Misconception: Constitutional Rights

A rather common theme that is often expressed by those who feel that PCC has overstepped its boundaries and by those who feel that PCC’s regulatory system is unduly burdensome is that PCC violates the “constitutional rights” of its students (and sometimes staff and faculty as well).

For instance, claims are made that PCC’s refusal to allow any single comment in support of The Voice or in opposition to itself (PCC mistakenly merges these two concepts together as one single, indivisible doctrine) is a violation of a student’s right to free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (“Congress shall make no law. . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . . .”). Or a claim will be made that when PCC prohibits its students from worshiping freely (see Dr. Horton’s Comments regarding The Student Voice, specifically the policy prohibiting “public devotions”) this is a violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of association or the freedom of worship (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . or the right of the people peaceably to assemble. . . .”).

While I must acknowledge a certain degree of logic to these propositions, I must also point out that these propositions misunderstand the Constitution and are therefore completely incorrect. Please allow me to briefly explain why this is so, so that we can eliminate these false accusations against PCC.

1. The General Structure of the Constitution.

Understand the Constitution for what it is. It is simply a blueprint for the American system of democratic government. It sets up the structure for how our government will operate. Article I sets up the legislative function, the mechanism by which laws may be enacted. Article II sets up the executive power, the mechanism by which these laws will be carried out and enforced. Article III sets up a judiciary, the mechanism by which disputes will be resolved.

A fourth “part” of the Constitution, though, is generally where “issues” supposedly arise with regard to PCC’s restrictions, and that is the Bill of Rights (certainly, a part of the Constitution). Note that both the Bill of Rights and the general text of the Constitution (1) grant certain POWER to the government, (2) grant (or acknowledge) certain RIGHTS to (in)
individuals, i.e, they restrict the power of the government, and (3) serve other functions which are not relevant to this discussion. Therefore, since we are not concerned with the power granted to the government, we are instead concerned with rights granted to individuals.

2. Individual Rights.

As was discussed in Issue 4, No. 1, a right is a privilege that is capable of being claimed against someone else. The question, then, and THE MOST IMPORTANT factor to understand in addressing whether PCC violates any constitutional rights is to know AGAINST WHOM may those rights be claimed? If they cannot be claimed against PCC through the principles of the Constitution, then PCC does not violate any Constitutional rights.

Please note this: except for the Thirteenth Amendment (dealing with slavery), no part of the Constitution/Bill of Rights applies to private individuals in their private capacity or to private groups. They apply ONLY to the state, or the government. Therefore, since PCC is a private group, and NOT the state, the Constitution DOES NOT apply to it. In other words, PCC cannot violate a student’s constitutional rights because the Constitution only applies to government and does not apply to, among other things, private colleges.

Remember, this whole discussion about PCC should be divided into two parts: (1) what authority does PCC have (see Issue 1, No. 1), and (2) how SHOULD it exercise that authority it does have? It is difficult, if not impossible, to understand the second question if one does not understand the first. The question of constitutional rights as it applies to students and faculty goes to the first question. PCC’s authority is neither derived from nor restricted by the U.S. Constitution.

I trust this has been enlightening, and I hope this clears up a very common misconception that is prevalent among PCC observers. Of course, I realize that there will still be those of you who will find some way to slam my motives, my life and lack of Scriptural support for this discussion, but so be it. Part of rational understanding requires a desire to understand rationally.

A Call To Unity

Ephesians 4:1-6: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Within the realm of Christendom, there have always been and will continue to be factions. This is in some ways unfortunate, and thus it is in these same ways not entirely good. Perhaps this is simply due to the fallibility of human nature and the inevitable consequences of ideological clashes. From the Corinthian church in the first century to the debates between the early church fathers and Turtullian over the place of reason and the “Academy” in the church, to Martin Luther and the Archbishop of Mainz in the sixteenth century, to today’s divisions among Protestant denominations, we can usually understand the factions by juxtaposing each group’s ideology upon the canvas of general theology.

It is important to recognize the relationships between the factions, which can generally be observed at three levels: Broad, general and specific. “Broad” factions are those whose differences go to the most fundamental theological principles, or different “canvases of general theology” – i.e., Christianity versus Hinduism. “General” factions can be characterized as factions within the Broad factions – i.e., within Christianity, Lutheran versus Baptist. “Specific” factions are those within a General faction –
i.e., within the Baptist movement, those who adhere strictly to the local church structure versus those who do not.

Now, PCC observers and the issues generated generally fall into the Specific level, and occasionally the General. The intricacies of this are not necessarily relevant to this discussion, but understand it to the extent that virtually all of us are on the same canvas; we all have, or at least claim to have a belief in the same fundamental premise – the ultimate Scriptural authority and the importance of being a light in a dark world.

Perhaps one of the naive misconceptions of The Student Voice at its inception was that although there would understandably be strong differences of opinion among observers, there would at least be a minimal level of civility and maturity in discussing issues that are, regardless of a few assertions to the contrary, important to a lot of people. Since there was no alternative available, The Voice was created to provide a forum for “alternative” (alternative to PCC’s, that is) ideas, ideas that were, and are, quite relevant to PCC’s existence.

A major problem has developed in that attempts to “sabotage” both “sides” have been undertaken. Attempts have been made to destroy The Voice, not through superior ideas, but through base, destructive blows. However, that does not concern us as much as do recent attempts to sabotage those who oppose the ideas of The Voice. This is absolutely and completely uncalled for, and it demonstrates a real immaturity in a few rogues on each side.

It is vital to keep in mind that we are all, or at least we generally profess to be, Christians. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us all to act as such. The clash of ideas is not at all a bad thing – recognizing and discussing a diversity of opinions is healthy and should be encouraged. In other words, the SUBSTANCE of the debate should be mature, intelligent, and enlightening to all of us, regardless of where one falls along the spectrum of ideas. The methods and tactics of formulating and engaging in this
debate, however, should not sink beneath the threshold of decency and civility.

Now, some will profess that this debate and these ideas deserve no civility, but it is this type of approach that will do more to damage the cause of Christ than simply ignoring the debate all together. We simply ask that all involved observe the only two legitimate avenues for making one’s opinion known: leave the discussion or engage in it like an adult.

While we may be properly disposed to our each and individual “factions,” let us not permit our philosophical quest to revert into a moral vacuum that resembles Golding’s island in LORD OF THE FLIES more than it does a search for truth among God’s people. There is plenty of room within Christianity for a debate of this sort, but there is no room for un-Christian-like behavior. Let us recognize that we do have differences of opinion, but let us also recognize that we are on the same “canvas.” Unity and diversity are not irreconcilable differences.

We recognize the difficulties The Student Voice presents, but if The Voice is ever going to see its own demise, let us not see it come about as a result of Christians who are incapable of common civility.

Standardless Standards: PCC’s Ultimate ‘Law’

Imagine living in a society where the posted speed limits were not set out in definable numbers; rather, they were posted in terms like “Do Not Drive Too Fast” or “It Is Illegal To Drive Faster Than What Is Safe To Drive On This Road.” If you were to be driving along the highway, and these were the types of signs you saw, how would you determine how fast or how slow to drive? (Some of us would continue as we always have, but this is beside the point. . . .) What is “too fast”? What is “safe”? Or more importantly,
what does the highway patrolman think? These are questions that could not be answered until you had broken someone else’s subjective interpretation of these posted “speed limits.” In our society, however, this has been determined to be unacceptable public policy. Why? Because for an act to be punishable by the proper authorities, people need to know precisely what that act is.

Imagine a plan of salvation that required us to live “good” lives in order to obtain redemption, a plan that did not set out any other requirements than that we must do what is “right.” How would we know what was “good” or what was “right”? What sort of life would we have to live? How would we ever enjoy life knowing that maybe our life was not “good enough. This would be left to each of our own finite and certainly less than divine subjective interpretation. This would be left to speculation and determination at a time when “life” would no longer be capable of redemption. Fortunately for our eternal souls, God has given us exact standards by which we can know we are saved (see the book of Romans).

This sounds quite far-fetched, and most of us can easily discern the problems and difficulties it would be to maintain such systems of vague and undefinable “standards,” yet these are precisely the principles that are used to govern the “community” at PCC. The PCC system contains few real “standards” for students to be able to rely upon. There are few actual “rules” at PCC, and leave it to The Student Voice to be the only one willing to maintain such a statement.

A “standard” is a “means of DETERMINING what a thing should be; a DEFINITE rule, MEASURE or principle established by authority; something set up as AN EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW.” (emphasis added) A “rule” is a “prescribed GUIDE for conduct or action.” (emphasis added) Inherent in these two concepts are (1) a definiteness by which one knows what the bounds of that required or prohibited conduct are and (2) something that remains fairly constant and predictable.

PCC, of course, prides itself on its “standards” and its “rules,” but those same guidelines which the school often incorrectly describes as “standards” and “rules” are often nothing more than open-ended, undefined “values” that no student can be reasonably expected to understand, predict and measure his or her actions by. Yet these same nebulous “values” are what is often used to sanction students and even to expel them from school. This, folks, is unjust.

One of the more specific goals of The Voice is to see PCC get rid of its current Student Handbook (although that is somewhat of a misnomer), and to replace it with a comprehensive Handbook that contains every single rule defined and proscribed as such, so that each student, parent, faculty member and staff member will know exactly what behavior is and what is not required. This essay is one in a series of essays that will go through the current Student Handbook and point out the problems and difficulties that need to be dealt with, and we will offer solutions to these problems so that no more students will be expelled on only the whims and unsubstantiated notions of the administration.

In our society, there is a concept known as the Principle of Legality (also sometimes referred to as the Rule of Lenity). This principle stands for the proposition that no person will be convicted of a crime and punished for something that is not specifically laid out in statutory form. In other words, if conduct is not prohibited by a written law that is clear and specific, no citizen can be punished for it, regardless of how “bad” it is.

“The same point may be put in terms of the relation of law to morals. That the criminal law derives from moral values cannot be doubted; some notion of right and wrong necessarily underlies the decision of what to punish. The principle of legality, however, does not identify which values the penal law should seek to enforce; it merely specifies the appropriate way to make that decision. In other words, the principle of legality asserts that certain constraints on the process of crime definition are essential to the ethical integrity of the criminal law as a system of rules, and it seeks to maintain those constraints without regard to the content of the rules chosen. Today, few would dispute the desirability in principle of advance legislative specification of criminal conduct.” [CRIMINAL LAW, 2nd edition. Low, Peter W.; Jeffries, John Calvin; & Bonnie, Richard J. Foundation Press, p. 34].

The rest of our society has recognized the principle that it is not good to have restricted conduct that is unknown, and “standards” which are vague and thereby difficult to follow. Why cannot PCC understand this? Well, it is true that someone who is able to maintain a society with this type of
vague authority will have much more control, because the general population will always be in fear of violating the authority’s view of its own vague values, particularly those whose minds are willing to intellectually challenge conventional thinking and are thus unwilling to simply follow the pack as if beckoned by the mere thought of more green grass beyond the next stream. Control, of course, is very important to those in charge at PCC, no one would deny that, and the best way to keep the most control over its subjects is to stay away from precisely defined standards of conduct.

Let us first start out this series by examining the ultimate “standard,” a standard which is, oddly enough, not even printed in the Student Handbook. So, while the administration will tell the students to read the Handbook carefully as it lays out the “rules” and “guidelines” for the students to follow, they will nevertheless expel students based on the “ultimate” law which is not even in the Student Handbook!

This “rule” is stated in the front of the college catalog, and it states, in part:

“Attendance at Pensacola Christian College is a privilege and not a right. Students forfeit this privilege if they do not CONFORM TO THE STANDARDS AND IDEALS of work and life of the College, and the College may insist on the withdrawal of a student at any time that the student, IN THE OPINION OF THE
COLLEGE, does not CONFORM TO THE SPIRIT OF THE MINISTRY.” (emphasis added)

This should be an insult to the intelligence, integrity and common sense of every student who has ever walked through the doors of PCC. What this is saying is that PCC is willing to take your hard-earned money, your time, and your efforts expended in working towards a degree, but regardless of all that, they can and will let you go FOR NO REASON AT ALL. This is the fine print.

1. This needs to be put in the Student Handbook.

For the administration to keep this out of the Handbook and still use it as the sole basis for expelling a student is highly unethical, for PCC holds the Student Handbook as being that which contains the rules and regulations to follow. Dr. Horton even sets this out in his opening remarks: “This student handbook contains the regulations and procedures that govern student life. . . .” WHY, THEN, IS THE “NON-CONFORMING POLICY” NOT LAID OUT IN THIS HANDBOOK? A student looks to the catalogue for academic information and to the Student Handbook for the regulations. Therefore, this very important regulation should be in the Student Handbook, and to keep it out has the appearance of trying to be less than up-front with students.

2. Define the “spirit of the ministry”

Is this a terribly unreasonable request to ask? Do not the students (and parents) have a right – yes, a right, to know what the “spirit” is that they must conform to? If anyone knows the answer to this question, please let us know (and then how about letting the students know)? The fact is that this is about as vague as one can get. The “spirit of the ministry”? Who
are they trying to fool? If it is possible to figure out what this means from a practical living standpoint, it would take several years to figure it out, and for a brand new student to begin immediately living under this “rule” and yet still have a sense of freedom is, I submit to you, virtually impossible.

The fact of the matter is that every one of us would have a different view of the “spirit.” I would wager that not even the individual faculty members could come up with the same definition. In fact, when different administration members were asked what it means, they REFUSED TO GIVE AN ANSWER!! This is being up-front? This is being honest? Or is there really, and intentionally, no definition? How, in the name of common sense, can the administration expect students to know what this means if they are not even willing to tell a student what it means? And how can they expect students to know how to follow it?

The sanction for not “conforming” to this spirit is expulsion. That is what the above-quoted paragraph states very clearly. Think about that. A “standard” that will not and has not been defined, a “standard” that has no recognizable definition and measurability, and yet a “standard” that is the ultimate “law of the land” will be, and has been, used to expel students.
Why? Because they did not “conform.” Conform to what? And how, then, does one “conform”? To conform, one must know of that which he or she is to conform TO. I cannot conform to something I cannot define, this is ridiculous! And yet when asked this specific question directly, Dr. Goddard, Mr. Ohman, and Dr. Horton refuse to answer the question. And some of you still think you can justify this?

3. The “opinion of the College.”

Let me just explain what the “opinion of the College” means. It means whatever the administration wants it to mean, and this is ALWAYS at the student’s expense. Not to mention the fact that this wording is very imprecise, it is also as vague as the “spirit of the ministry” clause. It is imprecise because it is not the opinion of the “college” that matters. The “college” is the entire community – faculty, staff, AND STUDENTS. This makes it sound as if there were some sort of body that represents the “college” that makes this determination, and I assure you, as I am sure you need no assurance, that this is NOT the case. The “opinion of the College” is NOT the opinion of the college; rather, it is the OPINION OF A FEW ADMINISTRATORS, or perhaps the Hortons alone.

If PCC were, in fact, a “community” or a “city” as it often likes to characterize itself, this “law” would not stand up for a second. It would be ruled unconstitutional for vagueness very quickly and very easily, because the rest of American civilization has come to recognize the principle of legality, the principle that in a community, defining the standards of conduct must be clearly spelled out so that those who are expected to abide by the standards know what is required of them. This is hardly an unreasonable request. Define what it means, and put it in the Student
Handbook.

Call me crazy, but if PCC is going to brag about its “Christian standards,” don’t you think it ought to, at the very least, let those who are subject to these “standards” know what they are?