Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 13)

That’s Not My Job

As we continued our walk through Nehemiah in our “Faithful” series in today’s chapel, we came to chapter 3, which, if we’re honest, is the kind of chapter we may typically choose to skip over. There are a lot of small details and a lot of big names that are hard to pronounce. We know every word of Scripture is inspired by God, but do you ever wonder why He included a passage like this?

In all those details and big names we learn that God’s people had a God-sized task to accomplish, restoring the wall that protected His chosen city. And, as we dive into the text, we discover a principle that is still very relevant to us today: God uses normal people to accomplish His purposes for His glory.

As we read through the passage, we find the text divided into three parts:

  • Repair the Wall – God used people from all walks of life to come together to accomplish a big task.
  • Refuse to Serve – There were some who refused to help, whether from pride, fear, laziness, apathy, or distraction.
  • Recognizing Others – When God uses us to accomplish His purposes, we should not brag but should share the praise with others and, ultimately, give the glory to God.

So how does this apply to us today? Just as the Israelites were called to build a wall to re-establish God’s glory, we are called to be engaged in furthering the Kingdom of God on this earth. What has God called you to do? Whatever it is, remember that He is faithful to use you to accomplish His purposes for His glory.

Join us as we walk through Nehemiah 3.

Dr. White preaching on the chapel stage

Responding to Abuse

Updated on June 1, 2018:

May 30, 2018, I sent the following email to our faculty and staff on responding to abuse. It was written for the Cedarville community, but I have posted it here so that any interested alumni, friends, or partners in ministry may see it.


Dear Cedarville Family,

While I have been out of the country for the past week, there has been a growing media attention on the handling of alleged abuse cases at some universities and seminaries. Now that I am back, I want to remind and assure everyone that some time ago in consultation with outside experts we developed and implemented policies that thoroughly investigate any reports of abuse. These processes operate across multiple divisions outside of the President’s Office increasing transparency and decentralizing authority. One of those is our Title IX policy which can be accessed at We have training in place to ensure that all students, faculty and staff are aware of our Title IX policies.

These issues have been brought close to home with the recent reports involving Dr. Paige Patterson. I am burdened as I have friends on all sides. He is not perfect. None of us are, but I would have handled several situations differently from him. I appreciate the opportunities he gave me years ago and will always love him. I also have friends on the Board of Trustees at Southwestern Seminary. I have prayed for God to grant them wisdom and discernment as they seek God’s will. I mourn for all of those impacted.

Regarding the article where the Washington Post claimed Patterson encouraged a woman not to report an alleged rape to police, I was not in the room for the meeting and did not handle this matter though I did work at Southeastern Seminary during this time. I believe it is prudent for Southeastern to investigate the situation.

I do not know whether Dr. Patterson will continue to serve as a Trustee at Cedarville. The President neither appoints nor removes trustees. I serve under the authority of the Board and not the other way around. Our Board is self-perpetuating, and they have processes in place that they follow. Communication across the twenty-seven members with busy summer schedules can take time, and any action typically happens at regularly scheduled meetings. In my experience with them, our Board seeks to make wise decisions after gathering and considering all available information. I trust our Board to do what is right, at the right time, and in the right way.

As you know, over the last two years, I have preached through James and Proverbs. As I write, the following verses continue to ring in my ears:

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:26-27

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.  – Proverbs 10:19

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. – Proverbs 17:27-28

I say nothing more on the details involving Dr. Patterson neither out of fear, nor arrogant thoughts of superiority over those who have spoken. I am sure those commenting acted as they felt led by God, and sometimes God does lead us to speak. I refrain because I do not have anything beneficial to add.

I can tell you that at Cedarville University we want a culture that supports and values women. We want a culture that defends and protects any victim. We want a culture that properly balances justice and mercy. We know that we are all sinners so we desire a community of compassion that works with fallen men and women to grow closer to Jesus. While doing this, we justly report any violation of the law to the authorities immediately. We seek to personify Micah 6:8, “to do justice and love mercy and walk humbly with our Lord.”

We recognize that training students in this generation is complex. We live in the midst of a #MeToo movement surrounded by a “Fifty Shades of Grey” culture populated by humans bearing a sinful nature inherited from Adam. Reports continuously surface of sexual misconduct in different ways at various universities across the country. In an effort to lead well, allow me to remind our Cedarville family about our commitments concerning abuse.

Early on in my tenure as president, I felt it important to make a clear statement about abuse. Therefore, in August of 2014, I worked with outside legal counsel to craft a clear communication which was sent to our entire faculty and staff making sure that if anyone was aware of sexual abuse of any kind then “your first and immediate action must be to notify law enforcement authorities without delay.” I further stated that “any attempt to minimize or conceal such incidents – including simply not reporting them –is absolutely unacceptable. We have an obligation to do what is right and to protect anyone who has been abused or mistreated.”

More recently in March of this year, I had the privilege to participate in adopting the following “Statement on Abuse” in my work with another entity. This statement articulates my views and direction as I lead Cedarville University.


  • We believe abuse can be defined as any act or failure to act resulting in imminent risk, serious injury, death, physical or emotional or sexual harm, or exploitation of another person.
  • We condemn all forms of physical, sexual and/or verbal abuse.
  • We believe that the biblical teaching on relationships between men and women does not support, but condemns abuse (Prov. 12:18Eph. 5:25-29Col. 3:181 Tim. 3:3Titus 1:7-81 Pet. 3:7; 5:3).
  • We believe that abuse is not only a sin but is also a crime. It is destructive and evil. Abuse is a hallmark of the devil and is in direct opposition to the purposes of God. Abuse must not to be tolerated in the Christian community.
  • We believe that the local church and Christian ministries have a responsibility to establish safe environments; to execute policies and practices that protect against any form of abuse; to confront abusers and to protect the abused, which includes the responsibility to report abuse to civil authorities.
  • We believe that church and ministry leaders have a special obligation to report abuse to civil authorities. Moreover, these leaders are responsible for knowing the laws of their state about reporting the suspicion or accusation of child and spousal abuse, and for following those laws in good faith.
  • We believe that the church must offer tender concern and care for the abused and must help the abused to find hope and healing through the gospel. The church should do all it can to provide ongoing counseling and support for the abused. The wounds of abuse run deep and so patience and mercy are needed over the long-haul as the church cares for the abused.
  • We believe abusers need to confess their crimes both to civil and church authorities, to repent of their sin, and to trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and forgiveness from their sin.
  • We believe that by the power of God’s Spirit, the Christian church can be an instrument of God’s love and healing for those involved in abusive relationships and an example of wholeness in a fractured, broken world.

We have a great team committed to creating a community that trains the next generation with excellence to stand “for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.” I would welcome your prayers and support that we would be faithful stewards, and I value your partnership towards this end.

In Christ,

Thomas White


Update: I was notified early June 1, 2018 that Dr. Patterson had resigned from the Board of Trustees.

Cedarville Earns No. 3 National Ranking for Student Engagement

Cedarville University is ranked third nationally for student engagement according to a recent report by The Wall Street Journal. This is Cedarville’s third time in the top five for this significant measurement. This ranking by an internationally known publication confirms what graduates and current students already know — that Cedarville professors go beyond instruction to mentor and develop students for a life of godly service, vocational distinction, and cultural engagement.

Missions Conference Spurs Students to Reach the World

At our annual Missions Conference each January, respected speakers and missions representatives bring their passion and insight for fulfilling the Great Commission to this great University. Many of our graduates serving in missions first responded to God’s call during this life-changing conference. This year, Tony Merida, founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was the featured speaker. Jennifer DeKryger, Cedarville alumna and missionary with ABWE International at the Hospital of Hope in Togo, West Africa, shared her powerful testimony of confidence in God’s presence even in the face of death. We were blessed to see how the Lord spurred our students to take the Gospel to all people. Watch archived messages, and you will be blessed as well.

Missions Conference Will Feature Imago Dei Pastor Tony Merida

On January 9-11, 2018, Cedarville will host its annual Missions Conference. Our keynote speaker this year is Tony Merida, founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, who will challenge our students to join God’s mission to reach the nations. The Missions Conference captures the heartbeat of Cedarville — an institution of higher education preparing students for godly service, vocational distinction, and cultural impact — here and all across the globe. Many of our graduates serving in missions today were stirred to GO during this conference.

The 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Missions Conference chapel sessions will be livestreamed. Please join us!

Know Yourself

My chapel message yesterday dealt with a topic I haven’t mastered yet — if we’re honest, no one really masters it. We contrasted pride and humility.

One of those two, I’m a natural at; I’ll let you figure out which one.

The other takes a great deal of deliberate work. Before we can truly love God – and truly love and serve others – we must know ourselves and have a true humility about who we are. This happens only when we fully recognize who God is and His sovereign role in our lives.

Watch as we walk through Proverbs and discover how to truly know ourselves.


Interested in other resources on this critical topic? Visit our chapel archive and search on the term “pride.” Along with the recent messages by Sam Allberry and Paige Patterson, I commend the October 25 chapel presentation by Dr. Jerry Gillis, Lead Pastor at The Chapel in Getzville, New York, to you as well worth your time.

Trustees Approve Pharmacy Center, Nurse Educator Program

Cedarville’s Board of Trustees was on campus October 4-5 for its annual fall meeting, which takes place during homecoming week. It’s always a joy for me to meet with our trustees, men and women who believe in our mission and vision to serve the Lord well by equipping students for godly service, vocational distinction, and cultural engagement. During their meeting October 5, the trustees approved a new Center for Pharmacy Innovation, which will be under the auspices of our School of Pharmacy. David and Phyllis Grauer, who serve on the School of Pharmacy Board of Advisors, have already committed $250,000 for this new endeavor.

The trustees also approved a new program in our School of Nursing, the Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education. We anticipate the Lord using these initiatives to further prepare our students to honor Christ in their careers.

Read a news release about the trustee report for additional highlights from their meetings, and be encouraged about the incredible group of men and women God has put in place to lead Cedarville.

Trust Wisely

As we continue our series in the book of Proverbs, we come to a passage that’s most likely very familiar to most of us — perhaps many of us have even memorized it. But the real question is, have we dug deep into these verses and applied them to our lives?

In Proverbs 3:5-6 we find three practical instructions on how we should live. Join the Cedarville family as we dive into these verses and learn to trust, humble ourselves, and submit our will. How do we pursue the way of wisdom? First we must trust. I pray we trust wisely.


Global Outreach Teams Are Reaching the Nations

This summer, students, faculty, and staff are traveling to more than 20 countries to fulfill the Great Commission. Using sports, medicine, construction, and many other means, they are ministering to others as they share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Please pray for protection and strength for each team member and for the Gospel to go out with power and conviction. Visit our Global Outreach blog for updates all summer.

Biblically Consistent Curriculum

Center for Biblical and Theological StudiesA recent article has raised some questions about the new Biblically Consistent Curriculum policy at Cedarville University. I requested this policy be written to guide our entire academic division, and I announced that desire publicly on October 19, 2016. Cedarville had several individual policies in different departments and has generally operated this way, but we lacked a central policy in the academic division that could help guide new faculty. On occasion, I have defended our faculty from external questions about curriculum choices, and I felt a comprehensive policy would be helpful to provide future internal guidance and external clarity. The academic division developed the policy with input from academic leadership and held two town hall meetings in late February for internal discussion.

Upon reading the recent article, one person commented to me that he thought the story sounded like something straight from the “Babylon Bee.” Perhaps the “Bee” would have titled it, “Christian University Reads Bible and Seeks to Apply It.” That such a desire is newsworthy demonstrates the sad state of so-called “Christian education” in our country. Others who saw the article immediately feared legalism, and I want to put their fears to rest — especially those who may not be as familiar with this place that I love so much.

Let me reassure you that we believe in salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone and that once saved, we do not pursue a life of legalistic boxes to be checked, but a life that loves Christ and seeks to please Him in all we do. Our behavior should be motivated by love — not rules.

Clarity brings freedom. Cedarville University wants to be clear, strategic, wise, thoughtful, and biblical in our curriculum choices. This desire flows from our 1,000 days vision, which includes academic excellence and our efforts at “Transforming Minds in a Fallen World.” In light of this, allow me to address a few concerns from others that have come across my desk.

We will still show Michelangelo’s David, along with other historic works depicting “artistic bareness” as we educate students in the humanities and art history. Yet, we will have strategic thought and defensible logic behind each of those choices. We have not ruled out movies based on a flawed, secular ratings system, but “generally” do not desire rated “R” movies as class assignments. Some “PG-13” or other rated movies may be equally unwise. We simply want strategic, biblical thought behind our choices, recognizing there is a difference between what a university assigns in class as a requirement and what an individual may choose to view personally.

We have not ruled out all play scripts with profanity or difficult themes, but we do desire wisdom and thoughtfulness in script choices and appropriate modifications to those scripts so that what we publicly display on the stage glorifies God and represents Cedarville well. We will continue to read fiction works that depict the depravity of humanity, but we do not wish our students to engage in sin while reading about it, so we will choose wisely and avoid pornographic or explicit material. We recognize a difference in appropriate curriculum between general education courses and upper-level courses, especially when studying the arts.

Perhaps most amusingly, yes, we will teach about world wars in history classes and continue to encourage our students to read the Song of Solomon … along with every other book of the Bible as we challenge them to have a daily time with the Lord. I suspect some of these questions were meant more for comic value than out of serious concern, and I did crack a smile at them. So please forgive my desire to defend our world-class education and faculty against even the absurd.

We want our faculty and staff to be as 1 Chronicles 12:32 describes the men of Issachar, “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” This policy provides guidance that brings freedom and administrative protection from external critique to the faculty of Cedarville University as they seek to invest both academically and spiritually into the lives of students. I want academic excellence, a commitment to our mission, and content pleasing to the Lord in every area of our campus. I have included a copy of the internal academic policy below. My heart’s passion is that we accomplish our goal of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

We live in difficult times culturally. Parents and students can trust that at Cedarville University, Christ-centered is more than a phrase in our mission statement—it’s a motto directing the content of every class. We must educate with academic excellence, preparing students to understand, encounter, and critique many worldviews while standing for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.

Cedarville University Faculty Handbook, Section 4.1: Biblically Consistent Curriculum

A.      Foundation:

Cedarville University’s doctrinal statement affirms, “we believe that every believer should walk by the Spirit and engage in practices that stimulate spiritual maturity.”  To that end, “Christians are…to flee evil influences and practices, which hinder a Spirit-filled life.”[1]  The Community Covenant provides a framework within which spiritual maturity can be pursued by employees and encouraged in our students: “we covenant together to be people of integrity and self-control, truthful in our speech, honest in our conduct, and morally pure in both thought and action.”[2]  Further, the Cedarville General Workplace Standards establishes specific principles within which employees should operate, “As a community of born-again believers, we believe that pleasing and glorifying God in all that we do and say is an expression of our gratitude to God’s grace and love in our lives.”  As such, all that we do should be designed to bring Him glory as demonstrated in “our commitment to moral purity in thought and action.”[3]  These guidelines for work and life are institutional standards based on the belief that Scripture is the foundation upon which we can pursue righteous living.(II Timothy 3:16-17)  Scripture is replete with guidelines for Christian living, because God knew how susceptible humans are to temptation.  It reminds the Christian “to keep oneself unstained from the world.”(James 1:27)  “How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word.”(Psalm 119:9)  “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.”(Psalm 101:3)  Finally, Phil. 4:8 provides a rubric for evaluating what is appropriate in the Christian life:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worth of praise, think about these things.(ESV)

B.       Application:

The above guidelines not only apply to the individual lives of faculty employed by the university, but also to what is examined and taught in the classroom or through co-curricular activities.  The application of these principles to courses or events on campus is not always easy.  Students will often be exposed to assumptions, philosophies, and ideologies within various fields that run counter to the truth of God’s Word.  To operate effectively within the field in which these students intend to work, they must both know these unbiblical systems and ideas as well as be able to critique them.  In some cases, the very study of a particular field involves the examination of images or writing that is conducive to temptation.  Cedarville does its students no favors by insulating them from everything that is false, pagan, or immodest in this world.  Nonetheless, Cedarville’s faculty must evaluate these demands based upon the standards of Scripture.  Paul, in Romans 12:2, exhorts followers of Christ to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”  The Philippians 4:8 passage articulates the imperative for Cedarville to be distinctive in the education it provides.   What is acceptable in most classrooms may not be at Cedarville.  The lines of propriety must be drawn with an eye toward what is pure, not simply what is just.

C.      Scope:

This policy is not designed to restrict the free discussion of ideologies, philosophies, or schools of thought that may or may not run counter to biblical truth.  Rather, this policy is focused on images, movies, songs, plays, or writing that may be considered “adult” in nature, that represent immorality, or that may be a stumbling block to students.  While it is true that Cedarville cannot prepare its students for cultural engagement without exposing them to aspects of the culture that are depraved, it is also true that every institution must draw lines that it will not transgress.  Cedarville chooses to draw its lines in a fashion that best comports with the clear teaching of Scripture and, where it must err, err on the side of preventing the placement of temptation or unwholesome material in front of students.  In cases where Scripture is not clear, Cedarville University has established institutional preferences.  While these guidelines do not pretend to be equivalent to Scripture, they are not intended to be legalistic either.  Freedom only exists within boundaries.  This policy provides clear boundaries for employees as well as context for students and their parents regarding the type of community they are entering when they enroll at Cedarville.

D.      Guidelines:

In general, faculty will avoid material that is pornographic (“prurient, twisted, addictive, evil, and exploitive use of nudity to titillate or tempt”) or erotic (“overt sexual connotation”).  “Artistic bareness” may be appropriate in courses studying art, for example, as such images are designed to convey “ideal proportion, human philosophy and religious beliefs, and human emotion and vulnerability.”[4]  The use of such images should be handled judiciously, recognizing that each person faces different struggles when it comes to the ability to view them without stumbling.  The decision should not be based on what some can tolerate or on the world’s standard of what is acceptable, but on what some cannot or should not tolerate.  It should be based on the standards of Scripture as outlined in this policy, and each faculty member should be able to articulate how the use of such material is in line with passages like Philippians 4:8.  In all cases, faculty should make loving accommodation for those students who do not wish to view the images in such a fashion that allows for the objectives of the course to be met.

Faculty must also be cognizant of what reading and writing assignments they require of students.  Passages that are clearly pornographic, erotic, obscene, or graphic must be avoided.  While it may be important to expose students to various genres of writing, examples need to be selected to avoid inappropriate material.  Sometimes the genre is not as important as the theme or content in determining assignments.  In those circumstances, faculty should consider what topics are appropriate for students to engage directly and what topics should be discussed without exposure due to their graphic or erotic nature.  Faculty are responsible for what they assign to their students in the same way that they are responsible for what they say to their students.(James 3:1)

Movies need to be carefully selected in curricular and co-curricular settings.  Movies shown for a class should be prescreened by faculty for objectionable material.  Excerpts can be used that do not include inappropriate material.  Required assignments involving movies or movie segments should be made recognizing that students have varying levels of conviction about material and varying struggles with regard to temptation.  Faculty should provide accommodations to those students who do not wish to view the material because they deem it objectionable.  As a general rule, “R” rated movies will not be shown.  PG-13, PG, and unrated movies should be evaluated based on language, sexual content, graphic violence, and nudity.  Faculty should consider how the movie selected measures up to the standards of Philippians 4:8.  Excerpts could be shown that do not include the objectionable material. Movies that are shown as part of Academic events that could include individuals from the public should be reviewed by the Vice President of Academics.  The standard for events involving the public may be higher because the movie, in this case, will be a reflection of the standards of the institution.

Similar guidelines apply to plays and productions produced by the institution on campus.  Since these productions are closely associated with the university in the minds of public attendees, it is very important that the scripts chosen not leave attenders confused as to the standards of the institution.  Scripts with swearing must be avoided or modified.  Plays with morals or teachings that run counter to the Scriptural standard should be evaluated for what value they bring to the campus.  Given the broader audience and consistent with current practice, all play scripts selected should be approved by the VPA.

In all cases where material is potentially objectionable or problematic, faculty should model biblical critique for their students.  Questions such as the following are helpful in working through the value of these materials with students:

  1. What is valuable in this image, movie, song, play, or writing?
  2. What is an appropriate biblical critique of the objectionable material?
  3. What worldview is expressed and how does it compare with a biblical worldview?
  4. What are the gray areas that Scripture does not speak to directly and how should Christians analyze them?
  5. How should we be sensitive to that brother or sister who may struggle with this material?

Faculty should take into account that standards for required material may be higher than for optional events.  Students who have a conviction about certain material or are struggling with a particular temptation can easily opt out of optional events.   Such students are put in a predicament by required assignments that involve problematic material.  Faculty should provide and make students aware of accommodations when material involved is potentially problematic.    In all cases, faculty are wise to run material and media by their dean or chair prior to presenting it to students if it approaches the category of “unacceptable.”  Before God and the administration, faculty are accountable for their choices, and deans and chairs for their oversight of this material.

[1] Doctrinal Statement, Cedarville University, Section 8,

[2] Faculty and Staff Community Covenant, Cedarville University,

[3] General Workplace Standards, Cedarville University,

[4] Quotes taken from “The Teaching of Art and Literature at Cedarville University” and “Statement on Nudity in the Arts and Our Classroom Policy,” Course Documents for Introduction to Humanities, Cedarville University.

Revised: March 2017


Older posts

© 2020 Thomas White

Based on a theme by Anders NorenUp ↑