This week Grace and I are thrilled to be making the long trip from the great Northwest to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. After a full day of travel that concludes with a plane too small to carry a sizable Mormon family, we will celebrate by teaching the Bible.
On Friday, I will speak to the Liberty student body, which I’ve heard is like 12,000 students fired up for Jesus, from Luke 15:11–32 on the topic of "The Rebellious and the Religious." My big idea will be that sin and religion are equally contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On Friday night and Saturday morning, Grace and I will teach as part of our Real Marriage Tour. Across the US, we’ve been humbled and honored to see people saved, marriages mended, divorce proceedings ceased, sin confessed and forgiven, sexual assault and addiction healed, and single people taught with this content, and we rejoice that we get to share it yet again.
Lately, I’ve been busy with something you may have heard of called Easter. So, I’ve not been on the Internet much but instead busy with church and family. However, rumor has it there is a bit of mushroom cloud of controversy over my planned trip. So, I asked our community relations manager, who gets to enjoy reading blogs about me while eating breakfast every day (it’s amazing he holds anything down), to give me a summary of this kerfuffle. (Henceforth, we will officially refer to this situation as “The Kerfuffle.”)
The trouble started with a Southern Baptist blogger . . . yes, you should have seen that one coming. Now, to be fair, the blogger quoted an anonymous “source.” And, we all know that almost everything bloggers say is true. But, when they have something as solid as an anonymous “source,” then you can rest assured that when Jesus talked about the truth over and over in John, this is precisely what he was referring to. I have a degree from Washington State’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and worked professionally as a journalist, and I can assure you that The Kerfuffle is a very serious matter to be taken with the utmost sobriety and propriety. In fact, one anonymous “source” I spoke to said that Watergate pales in comparison.
This particular blogger’s anonymous "source" says that the Liberty University Board of Trustees met and voted unanimously to not to allow the harmless, ruddy, pleasant, and often gregariously enjoyable Pastor Mark to speak at the university. The source said that two motions were presented and voted on. The first was to unequivocally express that Liberty University Board disapproves of the invitation for me to speak in chapel and the invitation to host the Real Marriage Tour. The second motion was to create a vetting council for future speakers at Liberty. He also states that he believes the reason why they haven't actually disinvited yours truly is that they have a contractual obligation and thus can't disinvite me. As we all know, every kerfuffle has to have a villain, and when all else fails the best thing is to pick an attorney as that villain. In fact, one anonymous “source” I contacted for this blog said that in the Greek text of the New Testament the name Judas actually literally translates as “contractual obligations.”
Despite the rock-solid credibility of the blogger’s anonymous “source,” Liberty University sent a cease and desist email to the blogger the same day and issued this statement on their website:
On April 4, 2012, a Southern Baptist blogger, Peter Lumpkins, wrote an inaccurate account of Liberty's recent Board of Trustees meeting as it relates to the university's invitation to Mark Driscoll to speak in Convocation. Lumpkins’ recent blog contains information that is defamatory and portrays Liberty University in a false light.
The Board of Trustees of Liberty University did not vote unanimously that Mark Driscoll is not welcome on campus, as the blog states, and, in fact, Mark Driscoll is still scheduled to speak in Convocation at Liberty University on April 20, 2012.
Liberty University's legal counsel has demanded the immediate removal of the post. Liberty University is also posting this notification so that our community is informed as to the inaccuracy of the post, and advised that Lumpkins’ blog is clearly being used to disseminate misinformation about Liberty University and to cause strife and harm to the university.
For the record, kerfuffles are nothing new. The first kerfuffle started when Jesus rose from death. He left Christianity in his wake and told us to love one another like brothers and sisters. Acting like a Christian, Jonathan Falwell invited me to drop in and see the church and school in Lynchburg some years ago, as I was not far away in Raleigh. I accepted his invitation, and I found him to be one of the most humble, gracious, and enjoyable, world-class leaders I’ve ever met.
As we walked around the church where he pastors, he seemed to know literally everyone by name and gave out a lifetime of hugs and encouraging remarks. I missed two meals waiting for him to stop loving and hugging people, as it took us forever to leave the church. He showed me where his dad, Jerry, used to office, and with tears in his eyes, where his father is now buried until the resurrection of the dead. He told me stories about what an amazing father and man his dad was—including Jerry Falwell’s friendship with pornographer Larry Flynt, whom he evangelized while riding on the Hustler jet. Apparently people are different than sometimes portrayed to be, and I learned a lot that day.
So, when Liberty asked me to come and preach chapel, we also offered to do a Real Marriage Tour event, and they kindly accepted. If for any reason they don’t want me, I am happy to be loving and gracious and back away peacefully, as the last thing I’d want is to act in a way that is adversarial to my brothers and sisters in Christ at Liberty University. I’ve received nothing but love, grace, and kindness from them.
But, since they’ve asked me to come, I receive that invitation with great joy. Rumor also has it there are some amazing Christians there doing great things for Jesus, and I look forward to meeting them.