Here is a message which President Stowell and Ed Dobson posted on our campus bulletin board this morning. I don’t think they would mind me posting it here, and in light of our recent discussion, I think some of you might be interested in hearing their point of view. Keep in mind that only respectful comments will be approved for posting.
From Dr. Joseph Stowell, president:
Over the past few days many of us have had some interesting discussions, both among ourselves and with people outside our community, about the media coverage of Dr. Ed Dobson, our friend and colleague who just completed a year-long effort to live like Jesus so that he could more deeply understand what it means to be a devoted follower of Jesus. Needless to say this is a situation that has some challenging dimensions both in terms of policy and public perception. On the policy front, some of you may not be aware that Ed is a volunteer at Cornerstone and was not asked to sign the lifestyle statement. Had he signed it, I am confident that he would have abided by it. On the political front, we support the right of Dr. Dobson or any person in our community to vote their conscience without censure or exclusion.
Personally, I applaud Ed’s passionate pursuit of Jesus. I long for that heart to be in each of us! And any conversation that Ed’s journey sparks on our campus should remind us that living in Jesus’ way is a worthy goal that is often risky and sometimes radical.
This has been a learning experience for all of us. Let’s move forward arm in arm keeping our eyes and hearts fixed on what God has in store for us as a university. I believe we are poised for greatness for his glory. So, let’s remain undistracted in our personal pursuit of Jesus and the vision he has given us for our work to empower men and women to excel as influencers in our world for Christ.
Of his own volition, Ed has written a response to this situation. I have included it below. I am thankful for Ed and the valuable things that he has brought to Cornerstone. He is our brother and friend.
After reading his response, if you have comments or questions for Ed, please know that he is very open to talking with you. He will soon be leaving campus for a planned vacation to warmer places but will be back on campus in the second semester.
I know that my comments in the Grand Rapids Press, USA Today and on the Good Morning America Weekend show have created some discussion and controversy. Unfortunately, the main focus of my journey this year was lost – namely, to better understand the teachings of Jesus. I come away from the experience with a deeper appreciation for the life, teachings, sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus. I wanted to take a few moments to react to two of the issues that are causing the most controversy: my vote for President-elect Obama and the issue of alcohol use.
I have always been and will continue to be pro-life. So why in the world did I vote the way I did? I am pro-life before birth and pro-life after birth. I am equally concerned with the violence on our streets, with people who are dying of HIV-AIDS, people who are suffering genocide in various places in the world, children who are growing up without adequate health care, etc. For me, being pro-life includes not only the protection of the unborn but also how we treat people who are already born. I felt that Mr. Obama was closer to the essence of Jesus’ teachings – compassion for the poor and the oppressed, being a peacemaker, loving your enemies and other issues. I have also said, though it never was printed, that I have little faith in politicians of either party. The real work of reducing abortions and extending love and compassion to the poor and oppressed should be done by those of us who are devoted followers of Jesus.
Now, to the alcohol issue. Jesus himself was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. Obviously, he was neither! But he did eat food, and he did drink wine. He did frequent parties with tax collectors and sinners. So part of my journey was to try and emulate Jesus in this way. I know that this is not in sync with the Cornerstone lifestyle statement. However, I am not an employee. I do not get paid. I am a volunteer. I was not asked to sign the statement. Had I signed the statement, I would have followed that commitment because I have always strived to be a person of my word.
I regret any controversy that I may have caused our community at Cornerstone University. I love our students, personnel and the mission of the school, and I do not want to distract from the great things that God is doing on our campus. I look forward to sharing with you more of the things that God has taught me during the course of the past year.
Serving alongside you at Cornerstone,