"Please, just the facts" is the second editorial recently posted by Louisiana's The Message dealing with the purported claim that Louisiana College is embroiled over Calvinism. Both articles are republished at SBC Tomorrow by permission of The Message. The full text follows:1
Please, just the facts
By Kelly Boggs, Message Editor
“What’s happening at Louisiana College?” I’ve been frequently asked this question over the past few weeks. My answer is always the same, “I don’t really know for sure.” Some people act as if they don’t believe me, but it is the truth. What I know to be absolute fact is very little.
Each time I am asked the aforementioned question, I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite movies. The statement to which I refer is on the bulletin board that overlooks my desk and it stares at me as I write this column.
“These are the facts of the case, and they are undisputed,” is the quote and it is from the movie A Few Good Men. The words are uttered by Capt. Jack Ross, a character portrayed by Kevin Bacon.
In the movie, Ross is U.S Marine attorney and is the lead prosecutor representing the U.S government in the trial of two Marines accused of murdering one of their platoon members. The quote occurs during Ross’ opening statement of the trial.
The quote from A Few Good Men is reminiscent of a phrase made famous by the character Joe Friday in the old Dragnet television series. The Los Angeles Police Sergeant, played by Jack Webb, was known for his deadpan recitation, “All we want are the facts, just the facts.”
I am doing all I can in my personal life and in my professional life to focus only on the facts that I know with certainty to be undisputed in reference to what has indeed become a controversy at LC.
My knowledge of facts is in short supply. One reason for my knowledge deficit is almost no one who is directly involved with the situation will talk with me on, or off, the record. Thus far, only LC’s president has spoken with me on the record; one person has spoken to me off the record.
As a result of no one speaking to me, the undisputed facts that I am able to report are few.
I will not recount in this column the facts that I believe are germane to, and are influencing, the situation at LC. You can read those in the report compiled for this issue of the Baptist Message.
My main focus is to be faithful to report to those in the LBC family, and those who read the Baptist Message, the undisputed facts as they relate to what is taking place at LC.
When I accepted God’s call through the trustees of the Baptist Message to become the editor of the LBC’s official news journal in Dec. 2005, I pledged to lead the paper with integrity and to report events faithfully.
I made it clear that I believe the LBC and its entities are on the same page when it comes to seeking to be salt and light to a lost and dying world. I said that as editor of the Baptist Message I would seek to cooperate with the LBC and each entity and that I would not be antagonistic toward anyone. I have sought diligently to do just that during the time I have served as editor.
When I accepted God’s call I also said that I did not think it was the paper’s job to seek out controversy. However, when controversy did arise it would be reported as fairly as possible. Such is the case with the current situation.
One person recently suggested to me that perhaps I should just ignore the events unfolding at LC. That is simply not possible. Given the current context concerning the issue of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention and the LBC, what has happened at LC over the past few weeks is news.
Given the aforementioned context, even if nothing else were happening at LC, Dr. Aguillard’s statement concerning Calvinism at the college was newsworthy. Hence, I contacted the president and we met to talk about his statement.
Additionally, social media is a reality in our modern world. In some situations the technological medium has proved to be helpful and at other times hurtful. However, there is no disputing that social media has played a significant role in what has occurred at LC.
Social media made the events at LC known in such a way that they could not be ignored. The Baptist Message has sought to wade through the information on the Internet and, as previously stated, report that which is undisputed fact and germane to the situation.
While people from outside of Louisiana have used the Internet to share their thoughts and opinions on the LC situation, the Baptist Message has sought to give attention to those directly associated with the LBC and the Bayou State.
Also, anonymous blogs and comments have been given no consideration.
Some have suggested that I report on the myriad of rumors that swirl around the current LC situation like so many flies buzzing a dead carcass. Rumors and speculation have no place in a news report and really they are out of place in the life of a follower of Christ.
When Paul wrote his second letter to the church in Corinth, recorded for us in the Bible, he said that believers are to destroy speculations. While, the apostle’s exhortation primarily applies to an understanding of Christ, his Holy Spirit inspired words do have a broader application.
Speculation occurs when a conclusion is arrived at without the benefit of – or without regard to – all the facts in a given situation. Rumors and speculations are not helpful and only serve to intensify any controversial issue.
Rumors tend to become distorted as they are repeated. Speculations usually lead to erroneous conclusions that are far removed from the truth. Neither is helpful. And they do not belong in the life of a Christian.
So, I will reiterate, what is known to be undisputed fact in reference to the situation at LC is being reported by the Baptist Message.
One fact that is pertinent to the LC situation is that in Southern Baptist life as a whole, and Louisiana Baptist life in specific, entities are governed by trustees who are nominated by a committee and then approved by messengers at an LBC annual meeting.
The Boards of Trustees are the overseers, the accountability factor if you will, in the life of the four LBC entities: Louisiana College, Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home, Louisiana Baptist Foundation and Baptist Message.
It is the trustees that have been elected to their positions who are ultimately accountable for the direction and health of the entities to which they have been given responsibility. As editor of the Baptist Message, I must answer to the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Message.
Due to the current situation at LC, the trustees of the college really need the support of all Louisiana Baptists. They need prayerful support as they navigate the controversy at LC.
The LC trustees are going to be privy to many more undisputed facts than you or I will be privileged to access. They will have information that they will have to evaluate and assess.
When you pray for the LC trustees pray for them to have wisdom and discernment as they sort through the variety of issues that are contributing to the current situation at the college. Also, pray that they would have the courage to do what is in the long–term best interest of the college.
When the LC Board of Trustees meet on March 18 during a regularly scheduled meeting, they will have some significant decisions to make. They need and deserve your prayers.
Below are the names of those currently serving as LC trustees. After the chairman, who is listed first, the names are in alphabetical order. Space would not permit the providing of contact information. If you would like to contact any trustee, contact the Baptist Message and we will provide the information.
LC Trustees: Gene Lee (Chairman), Jay Adkins, Larry Allen, Barry Bieber, Sam Camp, Kris Chenier, Clay Crenshaw, Roy Davis, Steve Folmar, James Foster, Mike Francis, Tommy French, Glenn George, Jim Garlington, Randy Harper, J.W. Hellums, Johnny Hoychick, Jr., Larry Hubbard, Jack Hunter, Tony Perkins, Lonnie Scarborough, Candace Selman, Ken Shroeder, Steve Thomas, Carlton Vance, Heath Veuleman, Roxane West, Glenn Wilkins.
Additionally, David Hankins, Executive Director of the LBC and Waylon Bailey, President of the LBC, both serve on the LC Board of Trustees as ex officio members.
If you were pick up the phone and call me right now and ask, “What’s going on at LC?” I would have to answer, “I don’t really know.” The facts which I know to be undisputed are few. So few, in fact, that it is impossible for me to reach any conclusion.
1we express our gratitude to Kelly Boggs, editor of The Message, for permission to post the articles in full here as SBT Tomorrow. All text and pics are from The Message.