Unity with diversity in CCCU

Sep 29, 2015 by

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As president emeritus of Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., and of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, I should express my perspective in the circumstances regarding hiring policies and CCCU membership.

I believe that EMU, as a college within the faith perspectives of the Anabaptist fellowship, with the other Mennonite colleges, should take as highest priority the lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority of his Word, and the sanctity of the fellowship of his Spirit.

Thus, we should place before our students those whose lives model such discipleship of Jesus. We are called to integrity, to share with the community of faith in holiness, to engage marriage as Jesus expressed it in Matt. 19:4-6, to follow the practice of love for all people including our enemies, to be expressed in a nonviolent order of life (Luke 6:27-36).

This position means that while not being judgmental, we are selective, in not hiring persons whose life expresses the secular world order, such as those who engage in immoral behavior, who share in same-sex relationships, who endorse military participation, or whose pursuit of financial status is at the expense of others or indifferent to the poor.

Our calling is to be a community of the Spirit, seeking the will of God in our life pattern and seeking the very best for the lives of those we touch. Our calling is to live in faithfulness to Jesus Christ and to conduct ourselves by the priorities of his Kingdom.

As to the CCCU, which I helped to develop in its origin and later served, we had a stance of evangelical faith with a primary commitment to bring a Christian perspective to education. But this was with the diversity of the many denominations represented. In fairness, we did not develop a confessional statement but respected the role of each school. There was unity with diversity, no one position dominated the other, each was responsible to be faithful to the Lord and to his Word, as they interpreted the faith.

Above all, we are called to walk with our risen Lord. Sola deo gloria!

Myron S. Augsburger lives with his wife Esther in Harrisonburg, Va., and was president of EMU from 1965 to 1980. He was president of the CCCU from 1988 to 1994.

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  • Cynthia Lapp

    I know many people “whose lives model such discipleship of Jesus.” Some of them are LGBT and married, some of them are straight and celibate. Neither are the exact thing that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 19:4-6 and yet their lives display authentic discipleship to the way of Jesus, in the church and outside the church.

    • Harold Miller

      Is that how we tell that a life choice is God-blessed: by looking at the lives of those choosing it? Cornelius in Acts 10 was filled with the Spirit, cared for the poor, and more. Is that how we determine if his life vocation was God-blessed? I wish that MC USA would help us do Bible study on this issue. Myron and others of us see the the Bible teaching that all forms of same-sex sex are against our Creator’s intent for our lives. Help us weigh the arguments that lead us to support the church’s historic stance.

  • Craig and Karen Long

    Myron, I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for your excellent Godly leadership there at the College, in the mid 70’s, as you truly lived and live, now, that life of faithfulness by exemplifying that conduct established by the priorities of Yahshua’s Kingdom. I am a life that was changed.

  • Berry Friesen

    When people comment one way or another on the personnel policy changes Goshen and EMU have made, I always wonder which staff positions they have in mind. Is it the head of the Bible/religion department? An associate on the grounds/maintenance staff?

    A veteran of the U.S. Army who supports Obama’s military interventions in Libya, Syria and the Ukraine could be an appropriate hire for the grounds/maintenance staff, but not for leadership of the Bible/religion department. Shouldn’t we assume this sort of selectively will continue to be exercised, even after the policy changes?

  • Ken Fellenbaum

    I’m sure that many will join me in welcoming the shared perspective by Dr. Myron Augsburger on EMU’s hiring policy and CCCU membership. At the heart of the matter is the authority of Scripture and a hermeneutic that is consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ in their entire (ll Tim. 2:15).