April 03, 2017

Over the years, I have admired and empathized with pastors who minister within the “bubble,” the label Bob Jones University graduates have given to the sphere known as Greenville County and its surrounding areas.   Because I was recently awakened to the enormity of this “bubble” (up to 25% of BJU graduates reside in the Greenville area), I am compelled to address the drift I perceive in believers, churches, and institutions that once represented the stalwart walls of historic Bible fundamentalism in Greenville and vicinity.  (On a personal note, I am a 1977 graduate of BJU, and I am glad the LORD spared me from the “bubble” and thrust me out of Greenville into the “real world” at the beginning of my ministry).

This blog post is the first of several warnings and exhortations I plan to write in the weeks and months ahead.  As one who has spent the entirety of his ministry and adult years outside the “bubble,” it is my desire and purpose to address the citizens of the “bubble.”  I am hopeful many living in the “bubble” share my concerns for the spiritual drift of their friends, churches, and institutions.  Some living in the “bubble” are hesitant to voice their fears regarding observable compromises in principles and changes in philosophy and policies, fearing further alienation from loved ones, churches, employers, and constituencies.  I remind those believers, “The fear [trembling; anxiety; dread] of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust [confidence; hope] in the LORD shall be safe [exalted; defend; i.e. strong]” (Proverbs 29:25).

My objective in addressing the “bubble” is not to be offensive, inflammatory, or provoke a vigilante spirit from the “bubble” or its defenders.  However, I am not naïve, and after 38 years in ministry, I know all too well that those who preach Love and Liberty are the first to unleash a torrent of vindictiveness on those who question or challenge their ideology and direction.

Finally, historic Bible fundamentalism has, like all movements, been thwarted by imperfect leaders and stances too often divorced of spiritual principles.  Nevertheless, those same leaders evidenced in their generation the character and fortitude of visionaries, exercising the wisdom of discernment and foreseeing the evil of compromise.  Parents, pastors, and Christian leaders who pacify and patronize Millennials might, like their children, chafe under the “old guard of Bible fundamentalism”; however, it was they who kept the “chapel platform hot” and launched thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Bible believers into the world to fulfill the mission of carrying the Gospel and being “Salt” and “Light” in the world (Matthew 5:13-16).

News Bulletin to BJU Graduates and Churches Residing in the “Bubble”:  If you view today’s Bible fundamental pastors, preachers, churches, and their institutions as the “far right,” it is not they who moved, but you.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

* This is the first in a series of posts that will follow and does not represent any group, institution, or organization.  The opinions expressed are those of this pastor.  

** “From the Heart of a Shepherd” is a domain principally dedicated to devotional commentaries for my church family; however, I also employ the site to address national and international observations and concerns.  You can subscribe to future posts at www.HeartOfAShepherd.com.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith