I went to an Independent Fundamental Baptist College. At the time it seemed to be the thing to do. My Pastor, Youth Pastor, Music Pastor and our missionaries all went there. It was the same school my dad had contemplated attending. Our church sent a lot of people there. I will not name the school which, like many other IFB schools, is struggling for survival. I don’t think that they would appreciate my kind of PR. It wouldn’t take Mr. Monk too long to figure it out (not to be confused with imonk.) In fact, they have recently been trying to enthuse their alumni. They started sending out a quarterly newsletter. They asked for alumni to send in a brief update about themselves and ministries. So I did. I sent an email with a short bio and a brief description of the church I pastor. I also included a link to our church’s website. The next day I received an email back. Only I wasn’t supposed to receive it. It was supposed to have been forwarded on to another recipient. However, this person had hit reply instead of forward. It had a note attached. It said, “Here is another one. I checked out his website. He seems to have gone contemporary. Maybe we should not include the website address.” Now, I wanted to respond, “well at least I am contemporary enough to know how to use email.” But I didn’t respond at all. They are not worth it. There is nothing about contemporary on our website. By the way, when an IFB says “contemporary” he means “liberal.” There is nothing about music or Bible versions on our website. That is the problem. If you don’t condemn, then you must condone (in their minds). If you don’t have “KJV 1611” on your church sign, website, bulletin, tracts, newsletters, forehead, then you are obviously a liberal. If your logo doesn't resemble Billy Sunday, then you are obviously a liberal.
When I went to college I was a moderate “King James Only” (KJVO). After I got there I became a radical one. I fell into a group of “Ruckmanites.” Up until then I didn’t know who Peter S. Ruckman was. I soon read his books, listened to his tapes. The college was not KJVO at that time. The Greek professor taught us about some shoddy word translations in the KJV. We felt he was an apostate. If the King James was good enough for Paul and Silas, it was good enough for us. We spread our KJV onlyism around campus. It finally got us in trouble. The president and founder of the college called three of us into his office. He chewed us out. He threatened to expel us. He informed us that he was not KJV only; that the KJV was not perfect. He specifically referred to Revelation 22:19 and how Erasmus had hurried his Greek translation which led to the KJV translators using “book of life” instead of “tree of life.” I tell you this not to bore you, and I will give more details about this incident later, but to show how ridiculous this all is. Only after the Bible version issue became so big among IFBs, the school and its president promoted themselves as being King James only. Now they are the very thing they wanted to kick me out for being, and now I am not that. Then, they were right, and I was wrong. Now that I agree with what I was taught back then, apparently I am still wrong. I will have more to say on this later.
In the most recent edition of the alumni newsletter, the editors included an article about John Calvin. It was a negative assessment of course. On the 500th anniversary of his birth they included a picture of him with a circle/slash through it. Hilarious.
I graduated from high school a year early. I skipped my junior year. So at the age of 17 I headed off to Bible college. I remember the day my parents dropped me off. I watched them drive off down the drive way. I went back to my dorm room and cried my eyes out. My freshman class had 99 students. Four years later, about 30 of us graduated. Twenty-five years later about five of us are still in the ministry. Some of my preacher boy classmates ended up doing jail time (all sex related), more than a few ended up divorced. I say this sadly. It is a shame, but it is an epidemic among IFBs. I blame the legalism of the movement. It was the letter of the law without the spirit.
Several of us from my home church all went to college together. We all got jobs at a local factory that made fiberglass boats. For a kid paying his own way through college (you could actually do that back in the 70s) it paid well. After we had been working there for a year, we had a new guy from the college hire on. His name was Joe, also from my home church. On his first day we told him to ask Steve (a married student who worked there) how his wife's piano lessons were going. So, as we sat in the worker's lunchroom, we called Steve over. Joe asked him how are your wife's piano lessons going. Steve gets this horrible look on his face, he looks crushed and angry. He says, I can't believe that you asked me that and storms off. We all start shaking our heads. So Joe says "What did I say?" We reply that we can't believe Joe actually asked that. We were joking, we didn't think you would actually do it. What are you talking about Joe asks? Steve's wife has polio, we say, she can't move her hands. Joe was stunned. The whole evening Steve would give him mean glances. Joe was afraid for his life. Finally at the end of the shift, Steve walks over to Joe and says, she doesn't really have polio and besides, that affects your legs not your hands. We laughed our heads off.
We worked second shift. A group of us would car pool. Often, while driving back to the dorm late at night, we would fall asleep. One evening I was the driver. There were three others asleep in the car. Our route took us across some train tracks. This particular evening, a train had stopped near the crossing. Its big light was shining. I couldn't resist. I stopped on the track. The train was right outside the driver's side window. The light was glaring into the car. I hit the brakes, blew the horn and screamed. They all woke up and looked out the window and screamed louder than I did. I never laughed so hard. It was beautiful! It was a wonder they didn't wet themselves. I wish Gary had, it would have been payback.
I bought a brand new 1978 Pinto. Over Christmas break, I was traveling on the Ohio Turnpike to a girl friend's house. The car broke down. This was before call boxes and the next exit was miles down the road. I started to walk. On the way to the exit, I passed up a broken down semi. A few hundred yards past the semi, another semi pulled over and told me to hop in. Now it was Christmas break. I hadn't shaved and was wearing a flannel shirt, no coat and a wool winter cap. I could hardly climb up into the cab. He didn't have a passenger seat, just a concrete block sitting there. He asked if that was me broke down back there. I said yes. He said it looked like my air brakes locked up. Air breaks? Pintos have air breaks? I realized he was referring to the truck not my car. I wasn't about to tell him I wasn't a truck driver, but a preacher boy from bible college. I was afraid of getting thrown out of a moving semi. It was a long way down to the road. The rest of the story is more humiliating. I had to have the car towed back to college. A friend of mine came and towed my Pinto. He towed it with his car. His car? A 1978 Pacer! By the way, if you know what I drive now, you might want to check this out.
Most of us students worked our way through school. Nearly all the guys in the dorm got back late at night. There was this one student on our wing who didn't have to work. We hated him. One evening his roommates decided to play a joke on him. He was sound asleep like always. As guys starting coming in from work (around midnight or so) the roommates gathered us all together and hatched their plan. Instead of us all heading for bed, we pretended it was morning. We went to the bathroom (there was one big bathroom for each wing of the dorm). Some got in the shower. Some were shaving, others brushing their teeth. The roommates moved up the kid's clock to close to 8:00 am. He had an 8:00 am class. They got dressed. We had to wear jackets and ties. They shook him awake. They told him he had overslept. He sprang out of bed, looked at his clock, said it felt like he had just fallen asleep. He rushed to the bathroom, then hurriedly put on his clothes. He grabbed his books and headed out the door to class. We were all watching. He was very gullible. It was dark out, yet he kept walking. He passed up a guy in the parking lot who was just coming home from work. Yet on he went, until he got to the building and the doors were locked. We all hurried and got into bed and acted like we were asleep. He actually came back, didn't say a word and got back into bed. To this day he might still think it was all a dream.
One evening, it was just two of us in the car. Of course we had a curfew. You had a certain amount of time after you got back to the dorm to have the lights out. So, we would sometimes sit in the car and talk. As we were sitting there talking, we saw a car pull into the driveway. It kind of weaved itself along side of us. It was two guys we had never seen before, obviously not students and just as obviously drunk. One shouted out his window, "hey are you guys tough?" Stupidly, I answer, "yea we're tough". We weren't tough. The both of us weighed together maybe 280 pounds. Together. The drunks got out of their car. They probably each weighed 280 a piece. One walked over to my side of the car, the other to the other (Joe's) side. Joe said, let's get out of here. Sounded like a good idea to me, except for the fact that I had taken the keys out of the ignition and could not for the life of me find them. I checked every pocket, on the floor, above the visor, but they had disappeared. We were frantic. I managed to lock my door, but Joe hadn't, so his guy had it opened, trying to pull him out. My guy said, "A guy at the bar (down the street) paid us to come beat up a couple of preacher boys!" Joe was talking to the other guy. He told him they had the wrong guys. We were just a couple of working stiffs. Joe showed him his employee card from work. Remember, they were intoxicated. Joe's guy looked at the card. He was convinced. He said to his buddy, "we've got the wrong guys." They got back into their car. They were so blasted, they missed the driveway and pulled out through the grass. Joe's quick thinking had saved us a beating. I, on the other hand, couldn't even find my stupid keys. They were in my shirt pocket. I had never put them there before or since and didn't think to look there. We never wanted to get into the dorm so fast.
Our college had a lot of fund raisers. I hate fund raisers. I never sold anything in my life. I would never sign up sponsors, or I would buy all the candy bars myself. We were not given a choice about the fund raisers. We weren't given a choice about a lot of things. The common announcement in daily chapel was you will do it and you will like it! One semester the fund raiser was a walk-a-thon. We had to walk five miles. I did not have even one sponsor, but I still had to walk. There were a couple of runners at the school. They had been long distance runners in high school. They decided they would run the route, which went about 2.5 miles and then doubled back. I admired them, but I didn't even want to walk. At the start, these 2 guys took off running. The rest of us took off walking. I was in the lead pack. Figured I might as well get it over with as soon as possible. I don't know how far I had walked when we came upon a convenience store. Me and another guy stopped in and bought a pop and sat down to drink it. As we were sitting there, the runners had already ran the 2.5 miles and were coming back. Me and the other guy fell in behind them and starting running back. As we passed all those lazy walkers, we waved and smiled as they shouted encouragement. Then we went and took a well deserved nap.
Understandably, after Gary got married our friendship began to deteriorate. Joe became and remains my best friend. I love him like a brother. We only ever had one fight. Not a fistfight but almost. It was over a Rook game. If you went to a IFB college you know what Rook is. Growing up we weren't allowed to "play cards." Rook was our Poker. We played a lot of Rook in college and Joe and I were partners. We did not lose. We would not lose. Even if it involved a small amount of "deal manipulation." The other team always got to cut the deck. It was totally up to them how they cut it. It was random. Except our bitter rivals had this habit of cutting the deck by taking the top card only and placing it on the bottom. That was their choice. They could have cut it any way they wanted. It was free will. However I was very good at shuffling until I knew that the Rook bird was on top. They could have cut it and it would have ended up any where in the deck. But, if it was on top, and they cut it so it was on the bottom and I happened to deal in such a way that I always got the last card, that was not my fault. Joe and I had other secrets too. We played with a "kitty" in the middle. After the cards were dealt, one of us would straighten up the kitty and either push it a little towards the other or back towards our self. If I neatly stacked the pile a little closer to Joe, he was to take the bid, I didn't have anything. If I moved it a little towards me, then I had a good hand, and it was ok for me to bid, unless of course he also had a great hand. We were very good at knowing where the cards were, what had been played, how many of each color were out, what numbers were left. Once we played a joke on Joe. He had to go to the restroom. So we dealt him the perfect hand. All one color, Rook on down. The hand of your dreams. We waited for Joe to come back. He picked up his cards. His face turned pale. His eyes grew large. The corners of his lips curled up. Then he realized he had been had. If he hadn't I think I would have pulled a muscle trying not to laugh. The way we played Rook (the game has many variations), you picked up the five cards in the kitty and then you have to discard five cards. I have many faults. They especially come out while playing games. I am obsessive and sarcastic. I often asked my partner if they discarded the right amount of cards. Not to results in an automatic loss. Joe got tired of this. During one match, we were winning as always. We got down to the last hand and Joe had two cards left. We lost. I was mad. The very next hand, I asked him if he had discarded the right amount this time. He got so mad that we almost came to blows. The other team broke us up. We didn't play together for awhile. But he soon got over it. He liked winning too much to stay mad at me for long.
Most of the students who started out single in our college, got married before graduation. In fact, for that reason and several other reasons, in the course of four years I had twenty-three different roommates. Twenty-three in four years! Yes, I was hard to live with, but that wasn't the reason. We had a large dropout rate, many of my roommates got married, and every year we would be reassigned. We had very strict rules in the dorm. Curfews, inspections, lights out, no TVs (which didn't stop us from having one for awhile), surprise hair checks (above our ears and off our collars) and other minutia. I managed to break every rule there ever was, including the "six inch" rule. We were not allowed to be within six inches of the opposite sex. Back then there were only two sexes. I was one of the few, and the proud, who made it through four years of dorm life. Not that I didn't try to get married. Came close once, but the Lord in His infinite wisdom had other plans (her name is Sharon, my perfect wife). I will tell our tale later.
I mentioned that we had a hair code. My first year there, the school had a mandatory recall of the school yearbook. It seems that after they were distributed, the college president ordered them confiscated so that two photos could be cut out of each book with a pen knife. The first was a photo of a young man who apparently was visiting the campus. He was not a student but his hair was too long for our standards. Since outsiders who viewed the yearbook would not realize that he was not a student, the offending picture had to be removed. The second photo was of a male student taken from a side angle. There was a second male student beside him, but not visible to the camera. However, this second head of hair stuck out behind the first student's hair making it look like his hair was too long. So it had to be cut out also. As a matter of principle, I told the administration to just keep my book. Now I wish I hadn't been so principled, I would love to have that "altered" book now.
Living in the dorm was a blast. We had tackle football games in the hallways, grew a mushroom in the shower (it sprang up on it's own, it was not transplanted), emptied the fire extinguishers on each other, stayed up all night playing Rook, and even occasionally did something spiritual together.
We had a male faculty member who was single who lived on our wing. We liked him. He treated us like adults. Late one night we were having a shaving cream war. We would hide and then jump out of the dark and spray each other. I was hiding in the water fountain enclave when a figure appeared in the dark. I let him have it. It was him. He could have turned me in (for a lot of things) but he didn't.
He also happened to be manic-depressive (as it was called back then). While taking his meds, he was very normal. However, about once a year he would attend some type of revival meeting where he would become convinced that if he had enough faith, he wouldn't need to take his medication. So he would stop. We could always tell. The first thing he would do is stop sleeping and shaving. Then his behavior became more erratic. We tried to help him. One time we picked him up after the police called because he was standing in the middle of an intersection directing traffic, with his shirt off (not a pretty sight). On another occasion we had to track down his car after he had given the keys away to a homeless guy. Once, he went to the college's prop room and put on gladiator gear. He then went out onto the chapel's outdoor balcony and shouted for Bathsheba to come out. We had him committed a couple of times, it was the only way to get him back on his medication. One of my roommates was getting married, so he had just rented an apartment. While we were trying to get "Doc" (He had a Ph.D) committed, we took him to the apartment to keep him there. I was to stay up all night watching him (he did not sleep). He appeared to doze off. I fell asleep. Soon I was awakened to the sight of him on all fours, straddling me, asking if I wanted to wrestle. I replied in the negative and had no trouble staying awake the rest of the night.
A group of us went to visit him at the psychiatric hospital. It was a scary place. When we got ready to leave, one of the guys we went with said, "ok get your passes out." There really weren't any passes, which all of us knew, but one. He didn't have a pass. We said if you don't have a pass, they are not going to let you out. He was freaking out until he figured out the joke was on him.
To the school's credit, they tried to help "Doc", but eventually had to release him. He got in his car and drove around the administration building seven times. On the seventh time he blew his horn all the way around. The walls did not fall down however.
We had an much older single student who was the dorm supervisor. He had very little tolerance for the foolishness of youth. He had been a truck driver all of his life, who now felt called into the ministry. He told me once that the dispatcher where he worked was a woman. A woman with a very foul mouth. She cursed constantly. Once he told her to please watch her mouth, there were truck drivers present. He oversaw the whole dorm, I was the wing supervisor. We had a guy (Tim) who was constantly in trouble. He was "campused." Meaning he could not leave the campus unless working. He had a girl friend in town, she was not a student. He was forbidden to see her (they had been caught breaking the six inch rule). Since everyone knew his car, he swapped cars with another student so he could go to his girlfriend's house without being seen there. The only problem was his car broke down while the other student was driving it. So this guy left it on the side of the road. The dorm sup saw it and came looking for the owner. He asked me where Tim was, but I was trying not to snitch. While the dorm sup is in my room asking where Tim was, Tim was outside my (second story) window, throwing snowballs to get my attention, because it was after hours and he was locked out. I looked out my window and shook my head, now is not a good time. Instead Tim points to the fire escape, for me to let him in. That was a definite no-no. The dorm sup looked out my window and saw footprints in the snow leading to the fire escape. Tim knocked, the dorm sup opened the door and Tim was history.
I played basketball and soccer in college. We tried to play other schools that were similar to ours, but occasionally played way out of our league. My worst sports memory was a basketball game against Ohio Northern University. They called wanting to schedule a game because they were in the area playing a Friday night game against a college we had played in the past. They asked for a Saturday afternoon game. Stupidly, we agreed. Little did we realize that the college they were playing on Friday had recently upgraded to NCAA Division III. We weren't NCAA Division anything. We weren't even NCCAA. Ohio Northern's shortest player was taller than our tallest player. To make matters worse, our two starting guards were not allowed to start because of team violations, so I started the one and only basketball game of my career. It was humiliating. Their guard playing against me had at least eight inches on me. The only shot I took, he blocked. Final score, Them 141, Us 40. We lost by over 100 points. You can go to the link above for Ohio Northern and go to the team game records and find how bad it was (look for 1978-79 twice). By the way, I played two seasons and never scored a basket. It's hard to score from the bench.
We were sports crazy. Although we had intercollegiate sports teams, we also had intramural teams. Instead of fraternities, we had societies. For a few years my society was the champion in flag football and basketball. We didn't mind reminding people either. Since I wasn't much of a player, I was the athletic director. My pastor (& boss) once accused me of having a Napoleon complex. He didn't use that exact term, but he may have been right. I have struggled with my temper at times. It often comes out in the sporting arena. We had a basketball game scheduled one afternoon after lunch. I was the coach. I was off campus and needed a ride to get back for the game. They needed me, I was the coach. You can't play and expect to win without the coach. My ride never showed. I could not believe it! Didn't they realize they needed me. I was the coach! Since I had no ride, I walked back to campus. It wasn't that far and I got there at the start of the second half. When I arrived at the gym, I was furious. I went to the top of the bleachers and glared at the team with no coach. To make matters worse, my team won big. I stormed down the bleachers, through the lobby and slammed open the glass doors in the lobby. I hit them as hard as I could. Bad mistake. The door swung around and somehow (the providence of God) smashed into the other glass door, shattering it. That was bad enough, but the president of the college was walking through the other glass doors at the exact same time (providence of God). Up until then, he didn't know my name. It would cost me more than just the price of a new door.
After one basketball game, in which we demolished our opponents, I had the team run wind sprints, just to rub it in. That landed me yet another trip to the dean's office. We had "D.C." which stood for discipline committee. Once a week, the administration would post a list with those who had to report to D.C. I was always on the list. The joke was that before they photocopied the blank sheets to use, they would just type my name on top and then run them off. In my four years at college I had four different deans of men. Faculty came and went. The president was hard to work for. One I loved, One I hated and the other two were forgettable. With the one, I would appear before D.C. and have a seat and talk my way out of trouble. With the other I will never forget the first time I came in. I walked into the office and sat down like I always had. He gave me a mean look. He asked if I saw the piece of tape on the floor behind me. He said from now on I was to stand behind the tape when I came in. I was glad I was graduating that year, I may not have made it another year.
I almost didn't make anyway. I was kicked out before graduation my senior year. I was told to leave, but didn't. And it eventually was forgotten. God was gracious, I didn't deserve to be let off the hook. I was in the wrong. It was over the King James Version.The student body President, Vice-President and I (the student body chaplain) were all Ruckmanites. The President was a married student, the Vice-President and I lived in the dorm. The Vice-President had a large collection of material put out by Peter Ruckman. Books, commentaries, tapes, all hidden in a foot locker. He was also the young adults teacher at the church which ran the college. I filled in for him occasionally. A few weeks before graduation I got the opportunity to teach the young adult class. I abused this privilege by teaching on the "Alexandrian Cult" which is what we called people who did not hold the the KJVO position. That included of course the pastor who was also the president of the college. So in my arrogance, I was teaching contrary to the pastor (and therefore the church's) belief. Word got back to the pastor. After chapel that Monday, his secretary was waiting for us and told us to immediately proceed to the president's office. I had never been in there before. Although it was possible it was an honor, I was pretty sure it was not going to be. The three of us were ushered in to wait. And wait. And wait (nice tactic by the way). In stormed the president and he was hot. I have never seen a face so red. He exploded. We were ungrateful, untrustworthy, dishonest unbelievers. To his credit, he didn't cuss. He did look at me and say I was so untrustworthy, that he would not leave me alone with his wife's purse, for fear that I would steal from it. Then he asked the question we were dreading. It was not permitted to have Ruckman material. He looked at the Student Body President, do you have Ruckman books or tapes? No he did not. Then he looked at me, do you have Ruckman books or tapes. Truthfully, I did not, I used the trunk full that the vice-president had. We held our breath expecting him to ask the vp. But he didn't. He skipped right over him. Whew! He then proceeded to tell us why he wasn't KJVO and why we weren't welcome to stay in school because we believed that heresy. He told us to make up our minds. Be true to our convictions and leave or repent and stay. Then he threw us out of his office. The student body president, vice-president and chaplain.
That Sunday, during his message, he began to blast the fact that there were teachers in this church who were teaching falsehood (that would be me). I was sitting in the Sunday morning service while being the subject of the sermon. He was on a tirade. I remember a friend of mine, who had no idea what was going on, leaning over and saying to me, I'd hate to be that guy. I said, so would I!
That Monday, we were called to a meeting in the college's vice-president's office (which strangely enough was bigger than the president's office.) The three of us heretics were there along with the college president, vice-president and academic dean. At that meeting the president said as far as he was concerned we were expelled. Then he walked out. That was it. We all looked at each other. What did that mean, we asked. The dean and vice-president replied that they weren't sure, but not to do anything, it might blow over. We never heard anything about again. To the president's credit, he always treated me kindly after that and it was never an issue. I considered him a friend years after graduation. I will admit that I was extremely relieved when I opened that black case at graduation to find my signed diploma inside. Below is a picture as proof.