After considerable time spent in prayer, discussion, and after soliciting input and feedback from faculty and staff, the administration of Oakwood University has decided to draft a response to a very negative video posted recently by former student Deontay Jefferson. In the video, Mr. Jefferson makes unsubstantiated charges against the Religion Department course entitled, Spiritual Formation. He goes to great length charging cultism, that students are forced to take this course against their wills, that there exists bias against the use of the King James Bible, and that the teacher uses material which is not approved by the University or the Seventh-day Adventist Church, including the use of mysticism as a teaching tool.
In an effort to critically assess his position, and to be assured that we have looked at all angles of Mr. Jefferson’s video arguments, we have reviewed the video many times before making unreasonable judgments about Mr. Jefferson or his intentions. We have also solicited responses from the faculty member who teaches the course and who is referred to in the video, and we have obtained a response from the Chair of the Religion and Theology Department for his views on this situation. Next, we carefully drafted a broad administrative view of this controversial video with calls for an opportunity for further dialog with Mr. Jefferson and his host organization. Our goal in all of this is to make assurances that truth will prevail and that even in the face of legitimate academic, philosophical or spiritual differences, a spirit of love and Christian behavior will be practiced and accepted by all.
Finally, however sincere (and sincerity is no justification), videos like the one featuring Mr. Jefferson making false accusations against Oakwood University, are the work of the deceiver.
Therefore, we believe that the following three actions are appropriate:
- We unapologetically call on responsible leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist church to categorically denounce these increasingly divisive and unbiblical tactics which result in injury to God’s cause and God’s servants. To do no less is to silently consent to the sabotage of God’s work, not its revival and reformation.
- We further invite Mr. Jefferson to remove the false video from YouTube, and
- We invite Mr. Jefferson and his video host, Mr. Campbell to visit Oakwood University for a face-to-face conversation that Matthew 18:15-18 calls every humble follower of Christ to observe.
For a more extensive treatment of the Spiritual Formation response, we invite you to visit the University web site, www.oakwood.edu/spiritualformation. Part One contains a specific response from the faculty member on record including a copy of the course syllabus. Part Two is from the Chair of the Religion Department, and Part Three contains a broader administrative response. The narrative ends with some further references from the Spirit of Prophecy about proper decorum from Christians when handling controversial topics, constructive criticism and faultfinding in the SDA Church.