Bob Jones University (BJU)

BJU Museum and Gallery*
(The Gallery of Sacred Art)

-  The Bob Jones University Museum and Gallery (formerly the Gallery of Sacred Art) is made up predominantly of paintings from the Baroque Period. Baroque art is the forerunner of the surrealism, sadism, and weirdness that contaminates our society today, which trends are wholeheartedly endorsed by the National Endowment of the Arts. The people from our government and others involved in promoting this fund for art's sake boldly approve of showing despicable, explicit works mocking Christ and exhibiting Him as a homosexual. Nevertheless, Dr. Bob Jones Jr. was utterly unconcerned about the sacrilegious, false doctrinal messages in his paintings:

"I like Baroque paintings. That's why I bought them. I didn't have enough sense to know they were not in good taste. I thought our kids should see them. They serve a godly purpose. They're a library of sorts" (8/30/84, The Greenville News ).

-  The BJU Museum and Gallery contains 30 galleries (rooms), including three authentic wood-paneled Gothic chambers, displaying more than 400 works by famous pagan artists such as Rembrandt, Ribera, Murillo, Cranach, Veronese, Titian Tiepolo, Botticelli, Tintoretto, Van Dyck, Rubens, and Sabastiano de Piombo. The collection's Baroque works are the most famous, but the Gallery is well-represented in other schools, such as the 15th and early 16th century Flemish and Dutch paintings, and early gold background Italian altarpieces. The large painted crucifix is one of the prime examples in America of this type painting of the period. Besides the paintings, the gallery/museum houses collections of Greek and Russian Orthodox icons; Renaissance furniture, altar pieces, famous busts, ancient coins, and period clothing of the life and times contemporary with the paintings; sculpture; vestments made for the Imperial Chapel in Vienna; and the Bowen Biblical Lands Museum (also known as The Bowen Collection of Biblical Antiquities and Illustrative Material).

-  BJU's original Art Museum was opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1951. (The new museum was opened on 11/23/65.) In dedicating the Gallery, Dr. Bob Jones Jr. said to students and faculty:

"Bob Jones University believes that nothing is too good for God, and here on these walls we see great talent employed in His service. We want you to enjoy these pictures as well as be blessed by them. Come back again and again to look at the pictures. After you have formed a general acquaintance with them all, concentrate on them one by one. Your appreciation and understanding of art will grow, your life will be enriched, and your culture increased as great masters, long gone to dust, speak to you of their faith and their dreams -- reveal to you something of their own personalities. You will realize more and more how universal is the message of the Word of God in its appeal to human hearts in every generation."

This is art that the Roman Catholic church has used to promote its own doctrines and Catholics use it as a means of worship. This is art used in the service of Catholicism NOT "in His service." This is egregious to say the least!

-  In 1984, the Washington Post ran an article, "Baroque, Bob Jones University Has the Best," by Paul Richards (an admitted polytheist). That article appeared in the Greenville News Thursday, August 30, 1984. The following is quoted from that article:

"... the Bob Jones Gallery, and its traveling exhibit, is full of Catholic paintings of the Counter-Reformation. Many of the best of them deride the various errors of the Protestant rebellion while fighting for the dogmas of the Holy Roman Church. St. Francis of Assisi Receiving the Christ Child from the Virgin, a late 16th-century picture by Bologna's Denys Calvaert, is the finest Calvaert art in America, but Protestant it's not. Carlo Dolci's St. Peter, Penitent (circa 1664) celebrates the Catholic sacrament of confession -- a sacrament rejected by the preachers at Bob Jones. If one did not know better, one might well regard this as a Roman Catholic show. Something strange is going on here. ... One supposes fundamentalists, at least those who accept 'the absolute authority of the Bible,' might pause (as did the Jews) before happily admiring visual works of art. For did not the Lord tell Moses, 'Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing ...'?" (Bold added.)

-  BJU has produced two promotional videos promoting its Museum and Gallery. The late Bob Jones Jr. is featured in one video peering through Gothic columns with a glittering crucifix above his head. It is truly eerie-looking, giving the impression that he is touring the altar site of a Satanic cult shrine. Despite the superb technical mastery of many of the paintings, they are, for the most part, indecent "art" at best, and blasphemous at worst. Christ is mocked over and over in paintings that make Him out to be nothing more than a plastic, ugly, emaciated, long-haired, pitiful being -- even looking effeminate. In watching the videos, one could not help but be sickened and disgusted by their weirdness and unabashed nudity. In one painting, John the Baptist is portrayed in a skimpy leather garment standing amongst a large group of fully clothed 16th century dandies who are, for the most part, completely disinterested in what he is saying and looking like they are posing for a fashion show.

-  Men are continually emphasizing Jesus' feminine traits and neglecting His masculine traits. This is seen in religious art which, unable to reproduce a holy countenance, presents us with a feminine countenance. This is seen clearly in the current pictures of the boy Jesus who looks suspiciously like a girl. (Source: 1/97, The Baptist Challenge. ) This "feminine Jesus" is also clearly evident in BJU's collection.

-  The Catalogue covering a portion of the BJU Baroque Collection (Bob Jones University: Collection of Religious Art/Italian Paintings ) includes pictures and descriptions of approximately 150 art works depicting such heretical doctrinal themes as:

The Coronation of the Virgin -- shows the crowning of Mary as "Queen of Heaven."

The Last Judgment -- depicts Peter with keys to the church, and popes in heaven (shown with mitre hats) alongside Jesus.

Landscape with Baptism of Christ -- illustrates Catholicism's heresy for baptism (the pouring on of water rather than immersion).

Painted Crucifix -- shows the mortal Christ on the cross, describing the painting as a "remarkable panel" and "surely the most important XIV-century painting in the collection."

Madonna and Child with Saints -- depicts Mary and Jesus with St. Sebastian (a Catholic saint) and others.

The St. Francis Altarpiece -- illustrates this renowned Catholic saint with stigmata and his tonsure haircut, as well as Christ giving the keys of His Church to the Virgin Mary.

St. Francis of Assisi Adoring the Christ Child -- depicts this Catholic saint kneeling, ready to embrace the Christ Child, who sits on Mary's lap while Mary sits on a cloud (come from heaven), which is juxtaposed three feet from the ground, sandwiching heaven and earth.

Annunciation with Two Dominican Monks and an Abbot -- shows God the Father in heaven, the Holy Spirit painted as a dove, a Medieval castle in the background, and Monks with their tonsures, along with an Abbot in fine jeweled attire witnessing the annunciation.

God the Father -- illustrates God the Father as an old, bearded man with a crystal ball globe with a Catholic cross on top of it.

The Holy Trinity -- illustrates a young-looking God the Father, appearing as a Christ figure towering in size above and behind an emaciated Christ on the cross, and the Holy Spirit shown as a tiny dove above Christ's head.

Legend of the Finding of the True Cross -- depicts the Catholic legend concerning the cross as a holy relic (pieces of which were supposedly found throughout Europe and have been made into "sacred" shrines for adoration and worship).

Dead Christ Mourned by Angels -- depicts Christ blatantly nude.

-  Another of BJU's color brochures promoting the Art Museum is entitled One of America's Finest University Art Collections. It boasts that the museum contains 30 galleries displaying European "sacred art." In 1995-1996, the museum sent its major Italian Baroque Masters Collection (some 40 works) out as a traveling exhibition to major museums in cities like Dayton, New Orleans, Omaha, Birmingham, and Tulsa (titled Botticelli to Tiepolo: Three Centuries of Italian Painting from Bob Jones University, see the attached Birmingham, Alabama advertisement and newspaper article). The program catalogue of works reads--This exhibition of Baroque Painting is on loan from Bob Jones University. Since these works glorify Roman Catholicism and portray its evil practitioners as "Christian," the exhibit description would better read: Bob Jones University presents Blasphemous Catholic Baroque Idols. Idols are to be destroyed, not treated as treasures! What a perverted testimony this is for a professing Christian institution.

-  The present worth of the BJU art collection is valued in the millions of dollars, and this discounts the cost of the impressive building which houses it. However much these "wonderful works of art" are valued by the art world, they are idols that found their place once in Roman Catholic churches and in wealthy homes and in the palaces of worldly kings, princes, and patrons of the time from the Renaissance through the Counter Reformation. Baroque artists and their patrons have disdained Christianity throughout this period; they were proud men, glory-seekers, misers, blasphemers, fornicators, homosexuals, and plagiarists, whose obsessive cravings and goals were pursued first for their own satisfaction, and second, for the propagation of Roman Catholicism.

Does it not grieve our Lord that learned Christian men, educators, and Bible scholars at a "Christian" University do not reject idolatrous art, particularly since they are in such great influence upon young people? It is difficult to believe that not a single BJU faculty member --  particularly one in the Art Department -- has ever condemned BJU's Baroque art collection as being idolatrous. (One faculty member has even served as the Chairman of the Board of the South Carolina Arts Commission -- Winter 1994, BJU Review.) Keeping one's job is obviously more important to the faculty members than obeying the Word of God.

-  The newest approach to "witnessing" at BJU is the adaptation of the blasphemous art collection to a display of "Living Art." This is where BJU adapts the scenes from some of the Art Gallery paintings to an on-stage presentation with real people and music (under the direction of BJU's "department of dramatic productions"). BJU depicts the glory of its "sacred art" as almost commanding that "the scenes and subjects ... jump off the canvas and come to life." For example, at BJU's 4/10/98 inaugural production (titled "What Manner of Man?" -- featuring "seven live, reproduced works of art and an original play highlighting the life and ministry of Christ"), one such scene was a personified bronze statue of Jesus washing the feet of one of His disciple's -- rotating around in circles on stage, the characters being motionless. The person playing the part of "Jesus" had a cloth around his loins, and little else. Evidently, First Union Bank of Greenville didn't have a problem with it either, since they were the ones sponsoring the program (which cost more than $100,000 to produce). Since much of the art in BJU's Gallery has quite a bit of nakedness, it will be interesting to see exactly how much BJU decides to replicate in human form in front of their students for their spiritual enrichment and the spread of the Gospel. (Sources: 4/2/98, BJU, THE COLLEGIAN; and the November/December, 1998 issue of The Angelus.)

-  The Council of Trent of the Catholic Church decreed in 1563, during the very time of BJU's favorite period -- the Baroque Period -- speaking for all Christendom of course, this law which has been carried forth to this day:

"The images of Christ and the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other saints, are to be had and to be kept, especially in Churches, and due honor and veneration are to be given them" (Sess. 25).

"The practise of displaying sacred images in the churches for the veneration of the faithful is to remain in force" (Canon 1188).

BJU appears to be following Roman Catholic decrees more religiously than do Roman Catholics themselves!

Personal Note #1: One pastor of a large "fundamentalist" Baptist church wrote and berated us, making the incredible claim that "our dear Lord Jesus has blessed and used that emphasis [BJU's emphasis on Catholic art] to help develop some of the greatest soul-winners in this country." Some have also chided us for depicting BJU's Catholic art collection as idolatry. They claim that since BJU's students and faculty do not literally fall down and worship the art, it cannot be legitimately termed idolatry. Their definition of idolatry is too narrow, however, both by secular and Biblical standards. Webster's dictionary defines an idol as any object of ardent or excessive devotion or adoration. The Bible depicts an idol as anything that takes the place of God in one's heart (Matt. 6:21). Can anyone really deny that BJU has given its art collection "excessive adoration"? BJU has spent millions of dollars on its purchase and the buildings to house it, and has even had the gall to label the blasphemies it illustrates as sacred! And does not the collection's depiction of false Catholic doctrine displace God's true doctrine? The BJU Museum and Gallery is clearly idolatry.

Personal Note #2: A 10/24/98 Associated Press story relates a BJU decision to deny access to its campus to a BJU graduate who is an admitted homosexual. The story details how BJU skirts the federal anti-discrimination laws because it is a private institution, having lost its tax-exempt status in 1970 for racial discrimination (1970 lower court decision affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1983). BJU vows to have the banned homosexual arrested for trespassing if he tries to enter its fenced-in 200-acre campus. Yet, homosexuals are not banned from BJU's blasphemous Museum and Gallery. Why? Because the art museum IS tax-exempt, and any so-called discrimination in the museum's admittance policies would cause BJU to not only suffer a hefty annual federal, state, and local tax burden, but also cut off BJU's access to public funding (see asterisked note below). So, the message is clear. BJU will stand against unrepentant homosexual alumni, but only if it doesn't cost BJU any money. Apparently, if BJU's taxes would be increased, or if BJU would lose taxpayer funding, then no principle is that important. [The following observation of a BJU student on Sunday, November 29, 1998, reveals the fruit of BJU's new homosexual admittance policy for the Museum (reported in the November/December, 1998 issue of The Angelus): "More than two dozen sodomites took their first steps into a Bob Jones University facility today. Just after two-thirty this afternoon, a group of at least thirty sodomites began a tour of the BJU art gallery. As they walked into the gallery rotunda, several of the queer couples embraced, others held hands. As if perverse behavior, pink ribbons, and rainbow emblems were not enough identification, several members of the group wore ... pro-sodomy clothing. Some of the slogans sported by the queers read: 'I love my son;' 'End racism'; and 'Hate is not a family value.'"]

* In 1998, BJU changed the name of The Gallery of Sacred Art to the Bob Jones University Museum and Gallery. This name change coincided with BJU's successful effort to transform the Gallery from private status to a public, stand-alone, tax-exempt entity operating apart from the University. Previously, gifts to the Gallery were not tax-exempt, plus the Gallery was not eligible for public monies. BJU has now established an Annual Fund campaign to raise monies for the operating costs of the Gallery, and it has begun accepting public funds (in October, 1998, the Greenville County Council gave the BJU Museum $28,000 in hotel tax money to renovate its entrance; the Council cut aid to local arts to help the Museum). As noted in Personal Note #2 above, BJU's success in obtaining tax-exempt status for the Gallery has come at a price. Amazingly, for the potential of greater contributions and a meager $28,000 at the public trough, BJU has effectively "sold its birthright for a mess of pottage."

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 1/99