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Golden Calf Syndrome

By J. E. Choate

religion, articles, christianity

As Solomon neared the end of his life, he be came aware that he had a son wearing a "foolscap" destined to sit on David's throne. He viewed with growing alarm a brilliant young man, Jereboam, in his court who had all the kingly qualities lacking in his irrational son. Solomon feared that Jereboam posed a mortal and growing threat to his son. Jereboam sensing that he was facing imminent danger fled to Egypt for sanctuary in Pharoah's court.

Jereboam returned to Israel after Solomon's death apparently without intent to wrest the kingdom from the arrogant and irresponsible Rehoboam. However, he accepted the request of the elders of the northern tribes to become their king.

The wise and ambitious advisors of Jereboam knew the hearts of the people lay in Jerusalem. Jereboam took counsel from these calculating men in their plot to seize the ten tribes of Israel. They could not have hoped for a more compliant foil in their scheme than the arrogant Rehoboam and his court cronies.

The shrewd and calculating elders of Israel advised Jereboam to set up two golden calves in Israel placing one in Dan and the other in Bethel. The people were told, "These are your gods which brought you up from Egypt," and it would be easier to worship their god Baal in Israel than to endure the rigors of long journeys back to Jerusalem.

An Obvious Comparison

The conservative churches of Christ today are facing a similar dark crisis. The churches are already infiltrated by a growing number of "change agents" who will stop at nothing short of a sweep of church takeovers. The Northern Kingdom was lost in a day to David's house, but centuries passed before the "ten tribes" of Israel disappeared into the dusty bins of history.

A new generation of liberal "Church of Christ" leaders are now on the scene working havoc. They calculate to cover up and sanctify with pious rhetoric their introduction of liberal postmodern theology into the churches. This is being accomplished through a generational passage of the power and influence from the old to the young.

The mantle of such pious brethren who preached the gospel in another time and place with such sweetness and light, and in such a positive manner, and who were never negative, and who never called names, is now worn by their clever successors. This new generation of liberal radicals obviously hold the conservative churches of Christ in contempt.

We choose to single out one of the most influential and liberal leaders in churches of Christ today in this connection. He is Harold Hazelip. He has had a major influence in putting in place and endorsing much of the ground work for "change agents" to infiltrate and seize control of unsuspecting churches. He is uniquely enabled to do so with the power and prestige of the presidency of David Lipscomb University.

Dr. Hazelip, at an earlier time, championed the cause of our "anti­institutional" brethren. Why he abandoned the "anti" position could be explained by the likes of Leroy Garrett and Bill Humble who followed a similar course. They chose the path of liberalism, and why they did so may not be such an enigma. There were few plums on the branches for brethren of their persuasion and ambition. (An interesting note is that perhaps Dr. Hazelip's last appointment of a DLU Bible faculty, Brandon Freedonburg, comes out of this "anti" background.)

Dr. Hazelip was welcomed ten years ago to Lipscomb by faculty and alumni because it was hoped that he would continue to implement the time­honored traditions of the school David Lipscomb founded. Willard Collins had served a brief tenure as DLC president. Brother Collins restored in a short time confidence and personal integrity to David Lipscomb College.

Dr. Hazelip served for a number of years as the Dean of the Harding Graduate School. He assumed the mantle of academic scholarship on the single basis of an earned Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. However, there are no scholarly publications and additional documentations to support this highly touted reputation.

We keep in mind that an educational institution is granted the privilege to operate under a state charter with clearly stipulated principles and conditions. No educational institution operated by members of the churches of Christ has a clearer mandated charter than the Nashville Bible School which was drawn up in the personal handwriting of David Lipscomb.

The constitutional guarantee of religious freedom to express personal views and opinions cannot be abridged. A college operating under a state granted charter fits in another category. This is a public trust. The bottom line is that the actions of the trustees can be lawfully questioned in a court of law by informed, concerned, and responsible citizens who are tax payers.

The one great lesson beginning with Harvard University shows that schools with a religious origin will ultimately follow the sources of money and students. Today less than 20 percent of the student body of Bethany College is made up of students from churches of Christ, Christian Church, and Disciples of Christ combined. The great majority of the student body is Catholic determined by the demographics of the region. (A choice of draft beer is on tap in the student center.)

President Harold Hazelip proved beyond reasonable doubt his intentions to abandon the traditions and the principles of the charter formulated by David Lipscomb. The fact that he had made a 180 degree turn away from his previous enchantment with the "cultic antis" shows his ready willingness to break away from one position and to adopt another. That he and Rubel Shelly have now become true yokefellows finds a common denominator in the fact that both share in a similar detestation for the conservative churches of Christ.

The most extreme positions of postmodern theology are obviously understood by Dr. Hazelip. DLU Bible scholars tell you down front that they accept positions of postmodern theology. This is amply documented by the articles and books published by our scholarly brethren in DLU and sister institutions. Counter exposes of their views appear on a regular basis in Firm Foundation and numerous other church publications.

There is a catalogued list of decisions and actions made over the past ten years by the DLU administration which puts into clear focus the present course of DLU. One of the very first things that the incumbent president did was to set in motion changes which only the DLU board of directors should address.

The first proposal was to water down the primary worded objectives of the Nashville Bible School as phrased in the charter. The submitted proposal could be easily adopted by any institution with the most vague Christian connections. And tied in with this proposal was a move to change daily Bible teaching to three days weekly with two chapels thus meeting the legal requirement for daily Bible classes. Both proposals were formally rejected by the DLU board.

Even though advised against it by DLU faculty, the president took the lead in granting the elders of the Woodmont Hills "Family of God" the privilege of using the Willard Collins Auditorium on the DLU campus for the Sunday meeting place of worship. Dr. Hazelip continues to promote this brother with a 1000 theological faces. This is further evidenced by the fact that Dr. Hazelip is a guest speaker in the Woodmont Hills pulpit, and Rubel Shelly is invited to speak in DLU chapels.

Over a ten year period, President Hazelip has loaded the DLU Bible faculty with theologians who endorse the principles of postmodern theology, and the practices of the cultic charismatic churches identified with the Vineyard Movement, the Kansas City Prophets, the "Third Wave" Pentecostal movement.

The present direction of DLU could take a dramatic turn to correct the current direction of the school, if the board of directors choose to will it so with their choice of the next president. Whoever he may be, he will be saddled with an ultra liberal Bible faculty who are persuaded that they can continue to operate as usual with impunity.

A dedicated and committed president who is resolved to honor the ideals and tradition of the school could issue a directive to the DLU Bible faculty that the principles of the school charter applies to them, and will be respected.

A Promise That Will Be Kept

The DLU school year for 1996 and 1997 will be highlighted in the search for the next DLU president. An historian's credibility depends solely on the truthfulness and accuracy of documentation. My primary objective is to set down facts in order of their occurrence for future church historians to tell the whole story.

I personally challenge no one. Prove me wrong, and I will correct.

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Published November 1996