The #MeToo movement has been moving across American culture. Issues related to sexual assault and abuse have been coming out across all professions. From media, to business, to sports the #MeToo movement keeps unfolding. It has also hit the Southern Baptist Convention as well. Today this blog would like to ask how prepared is Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for the #MeToo movement? Based off D.A. Carson from Trinity, who is now a Professor Emeritus, having attacked someone who was raped at 13 in a statement through The Gospel Coalition, this blog doesn’t believe Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is ready.
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
“It is important to remember that it is not your fault or your responsibility. The abuser is the only person responsible and being male does not make what was done excusable.”
Anonymous sexual assault survivor
“To encourage someone is to help instil courage in them so that they can stand up and keep pressing forward.”
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 NIV
Retired Trinity Professor D.A. Carson.
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Today post is going to look at the issue of sexual violence and ask if Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is prepared and ready for it. This blog focuses on the EFCA, and this topic at the flagship seminary of the EFCA deserves close attention. However there are a couple of other reasons why the issue of sexual assault should be examined. At the national EFCA blog Greg Strand wrote about the Billy Graham Center holding the Summit to Respond to Sexual Violence in early December of 2018. But there was another situation that happened in another seminary that this blog wrote about. At the Masters College in Southern California which is run by John MacArthur a female was raped by another student at the Masters College. It was determined that her dress, and “almost dancing” led to the rape. She was ordered to repent to her rapist. What for you ask? For sexually enticing him in how she dressed. After all she made him “stumble” into rape by being born a woman. While she faced discipline her rapist is protected. You can read more in, “The Tragic Story of a Rape Victim from the Masters College as Led by John MacArthur Who was Allegedly Ordered to Repent to her Rapist for Inciting her Sexual Assault for being a Woman.“
Trinity is one of the largest seminaries in the world. It is also the flagship seminary of the EFCA. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is a part of Trinity International University. 2,700 students are involved in Trinity and there are almost 100 faculty. Trinity is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). You can read the stats reported to ATS for the year 2016 here. According to the ATS website there are 952 fully enrolled at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Some Statistics About College and High Education Sexual Assault from RAINN
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is probably the definitive organization today in the United States that is opposed to sexual violence. In addition to dealing with sexual violence across the United States, RAINN also runs the sexual violence hotline inside the United States Department of Defense. According to RAINN these are some statistics about sexual assault at college campuses.
The fact of the matter is that on college campuses and institutions of higher learning sexual violence is pervasive. 11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. That number includes all graduate and undergraduate students. Among graduate and professional students 8.8% of females and 2.2% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. Among undergraduate students 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. And 4.2% of students have experienced stalking since entering college.
College age adults are at high risk for sexual violence. Male college-aged students (from 18 to 24) are 78% more likely than non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault. Female college-aged students (from 18 to 24) are 20% less likely than non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault. The fact of the matter is that sexual assault is more prevalent at college than other crime. After all college age women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed. College aged victims of sexual violence often do not report to law enforcement. Victims hold back for a number of reasons. Some believed it was a personal matter, and others said that they feared reprisal if they did report. Others did not want to get there perpetrator in trouble and other victims said it was not important enough to report. Then some believed that the police would not do much of anything if they reported. At college sexual assault is 50% more likely to happen in August, September, October, or November. At campuses, college law enforcement can play a significant role in addressing the topic. According to RAINN 86% of sworn campus law enforcement has the legal authority to make an arrest off campus grounds. 86% of sworn campus law enforcement has someone trained to deal with sexual assault.
Reflecting on the Sovereign Grace Ministries Scandal
One of the darker scandals in modern evangelicalism is that of the corruption, and sexual abuse that was allegedly covered up in Sovereign Grace Ministries. The stories or sexual abuse seeped out of a blog called SGM Survivors. There is the story of Pam Palmer at Covenant Life Church. Pam’s daughter was sexually abused and as a toddler was made to forgive her sexual abuser. When she was brought into the room and Pam’s daughter saw her abuser she fled under and chair in terror. At Sovereign Grace Fairfax there are stories like Noel. A 15 year old boy confessed molesting the three year old daughter of Noel. The church discouraged prosecution of the crimes and any counseling that was not “Biblical.” The Sovereign Grace church counseled overturning the charges and forgiving him. There was also the story of Taylor also at Sovereign Grace Fairfax. In that story the father was sexually abusing his own 10 year old daughter. When the mother learned what her husband was doing she confronted him, he fled was claimed he would rather die than go to jail. Taylor was told by the Sovereign Grace pastor to not “gossip” about the situation. When her husband moved out, Sovereign Grace counseled the 10 year old who was told that “her sin” brought about her sexual abuse. Later on Taylor’s husband moved back in. Taylor was also told that her “sin” contributed to the sexual abuse of her daughter. The pastor ordered her to have more sex with her husband and to put a lock on her daughter’s door. She forced herself to have sex with her husband to the point of vomiting.
This is just a brief telling of the many stories that came out of Sovereign Grace. One must remember that Wayne Grudem believed that Sovereign Grace was the model for how evangelical Christianity should be. The Sovereign Grace scandal was covered in the Washington Post as it was local. Plus the Washingtonian Magazine did a detailed article that was a deep dive into the issues of Sovereign Grace. You can read that article here.
Remembering how D.A. Carson Lashed Out at a Rape Victim in a Statement from The Gospel Coalition
At the blog SGM Survivors in February of 2013 a disturbing story of sexual abuse was told. A person recalled how at a Superbowl Party at a prominent SGM Pastor’s house she was raped against the wall. She was 13 years old at the time. Her name on the blog was “Anon.” The comment came out as a lawsuit was filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries for allegedly covering up child sex abuse. In the comment “Anon” said, “The pending lawsuit is long-deserved. I hope it ruins the entire organization financially and every single perpetrator and co-conspirator financially, mentally and physically.” You can read Anon’s story and the comments in response to the rape here.
When the lawsuit was tossed out on May 17, 2013 it was done so because of statute of limitations reasons. At The Gospel Coalition on May 24, 2013 D.A. Carson along with Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung issued a statement that defended C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries. It should be noted that in time Kevin DeYoung removed his name from the statement. D.A. Carson referencing the 13 year old who was raped then wrote the following.
Reports on the lawsuit from Christianity Today and World Magazine (among others) explicitly and repeatedly drew attention to C. J., connecting the suit to recent changes within SGM. He has also been the object of libel and even a Javert-like obsession by some. One of the so-called discernment blogs—often trafficking more in speculation and gossip than edifying discernment—reprinted a comment from a woman who issued this ominous wish, “I hope [this lawsuit] ruins the entire organization [of SGM] and every single perpetrator and co-conspirator financially, mentally and physically.”
We are not ashamed to call C. J. a friend. Our relationship with C. J. is like that with any good friend—full of laughter and sober reflection, encouragement and mutual correction. He has regularly invited—even pursued—correction, and we have given him our perspective when it is warranted. While the admission of friendship may render this entire statement tainted in the eyes of some, we hope most Christians will understand that while friends should never cover for each others’ sins, neither do friends quickly accept the accusations of others when they run counter to everything they have come to see and know about their friend. We are grateful for C. J.’s friendship and his fruitful ministry of the gospel over many decades.
D.A. Carson had attacked someone who was raped at 13 years old. You can read the original statement in, “Why We Have Been Silent about the SGM Lawsuit?”
Does Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Understand Christianity? Do they Believe It?
D.A. Carson is perhaps one of the most well known professors from Trinity. He was held in high esteem throughout his time at the university. The books he published as well as helping to launch The Gospel Coalition are feathers in his cap according to many in the Neo-Calvinist movement. When Carson retired he did so with fanfare. He was celebrated and made professor emiritus. He graced the cover of Trinity Magazine.
And yet consider….Trinity allowed someone who attacked a rape victim to retire with grace. There was no effort as I understand to get D.A. Carson to admit his error. There was neither any effort to do the right thing. Stop and consider what was lost. An opportunity to show grace, love and correction. It would also allow the Gospel to reign supreme. But nothing of the sort happened. To Trinity I ask what good is “sound doctrine” and being “Gospel Centered” if you can’t admit error? What good is faith and knowledge of the New Testament if you can’t express it in your practice of it? Is faith about knowledge and not doing? Is this what both Trinity and the EFCA committed to? I walk away from this with the following take away. Trinity doesn’t know what the Christian faith is about. If they cared and adored Jesus they would have cared about Christ taking a black eye. They would have wanted the message of the Gospel to be communicated. This would hold especially true in any staff member who would be in a position to influence. This post deals with D.A. Carson, but if it were Kevin VanHoozer who acted like this, well this blog would be commenting on that issue heavily also. But in the grand scheme of faith, and policy this blog would like to ask, does Trinity Evangelical Divinity School understand Christianity? Right now I am inclined to say no based off the behavior of the institution.
The Wondering Eagle Doesn’t Believe Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is Ready for #MeToo
While Trinity has a sexual assault policy in place this blog remains concerned about Carson attacking a rape victim. Trinity it appears has a revolving door in this area. According to the Trinity website Carson is back as part time faculty. Despite what is said on the Trinity website about sexual assault this blog remains convinced that the institution at Trinity doesn’t take it seriously. It is also the concern that Trinity is woefully unprepared to deal with the topic. After all how can you effectively deal with the culture when you celebrate someone who attacks a rape victim? I am trying to think of other professional organizations that would allow that and honestly I can’t think of many that would endorse such behavior. Trinity endorses it by its silence. Who ultimately is responsible for this? Is it the Dean of Trinity Evangelical School, Graham Cole? Does Graham Cole believe that is acceptable policy to attack a rape victim? But its my contention that the culture at Trinity allows and pervades the topic. This issue can’t be ignored as the behavior in place is only encouraging it. As we are learning today even in schools or universities that have policies in place are dealing with the issue of sexual assault. Look at what has transpired at Michigan State University or the University of Southern California. They thought they had policies in place and yet people were still were abused. The #MeToo movement is loud and coming. Its this blogs belief that it is actually coming to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
The Wondering Eagle is Willing to Tell Stories About Allegations of Sexual Assault at Trinity
For the health of Trinity it is the belief of The Wondering Eagle that these stories if they exist should be told. They should be told to help better the organization and make it more solid. If the pain that will come forward helps to make Trinity a far heathier place then that is the goal of this blog post. As a result this blog is putting out a call for stories that can be told anonymously. If there were incidents of sexual assault in 2016, or 1996 or even 1976 that need to come forward let’s do that to help Trinity move forward. In today’s day and age these problems can’t be buried. Many people, especially those who are older are still living as if they were in the pre-internet era. Those days are long gone. If you have any stories about sexual assault at Trinity then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.