Thursday, March 24, 2016

23 March 2016

“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]

Presbyterians Week Headlines


By the Rev. Dr. Chuck Wilson

I grew up in the little Central Florida citrus community of Eloise. We were members of the Eloise Baptist Church, and Rev. Walter Matheney was our pastor.

​I was an inquisitive child who asked lots of questions. Pastor Matheney had the habit of bowing his head just before he read from the big pulpit Bible. I remember asking my Daddy why he did that. Daddy responded, “To show respect for the Bible.” Then Pastor Matheney would read from the Bible, close it, set it on his left on the pulpit, and spread six 4” X 6” cards on the top of the pulpit; and Daddy explained the cards were the notes for his sermon. Pastor Matheney would then take his pocket watch out of his vest, unhook it from a gold chain, open it, and lay it on the right side of the pulpit. His watch was an old, key-wind Waltham about the size of a cathead biscuit. When I asked, “What does all that mean?” Daddy said, “Nothing! Nothing at all!”


​The Three Amigos of Due WestPaul Kooistra, Brad Christie, and Greg Haselden are the Three Amigos of Due West. What does their stewardship of Erskine College & Seminary look like?

​When Paul Kooistra arrived in Due West to assume the presidency of Erskine, he arrived with the goodwill, prayers, and hopes of most of us in the General Synod. At long last, we breathed a sigh of relief, and we said, “An evangelical PCA minister who is like us!” Boy, were we wrong!

​Many of us arranged conversations with Kooistra. Immediately, we were disappointed! He made it very clear he was not interested in what we knew or desired. When Kooistra and I talked, he gave me less than fifteen minutes of his valuable time. He had pressing business to attend to elsewhere; without apology, he did not have time for me. It did not matter it took weeks to set up the appointment. It did not matter my wife and I drove an hour to be in Due West and gave up most of our day. My experience, however, is not unique. In conversations with others, they reported he was also dismissive and graceless to them. IT IS VERY OBVIOUS HE DOES NOT EMBRACE THE ASSOCIATE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHUCH OR OUR ASPIRATIONS!! Kooistra has become just another interloper!

​What does Kooistra want? To whom does he listen?

​Since April of 2014, I sat on a document. The title of the document is “Cabinet Meeting with Trustee Leadership” ( Written by then (Acting) President Brad Christie and then Chairman David Conner, the document proposes an outline for (1) the separation of the college and seminary, (2) the separation of the college from the General Synod and the establishing of a self-perpetuating board, and (3) the launching of a football program. The following names from the then administration are attached: Brad Christie, Greg Haselden, Robyn Agnew, David Earle, Mark Peeler, Bryan Rush, and Cliff Smith.

​When this document was presented at the May 2014 board meeting, it was met with such resistance David Conner left the meeting, went home, and resigned from the board. Those whose names are attached to the document and remain at Erskine are Brad Christie (Senior VP for Academic Affairs), Greg Haselden (Senior VP for Finance and Operations), Mark Peeler (VP for Athletics) and Cliff Smith (VP for Communications). Christie, Haselden, Peeler, and Smith are presently members of Kooistra’s Senior Leadership Team (that is, an odd way of saying “cabinet”).

​Though Head Amigo Kooistra has not been an amiable amigo to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, a cursory reading of the “Cabinet Meeting with Trustee Leadership” indicates he has generally embraced its subversive principles. Which, in a word, is “betrayal” of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He has taken sides, and he has not chosen the side of the denomination owning Erskine.

​Amazingly, the future of Erskine College & Seminary is plotted out in a document which proposes a plan to steal the college and seminary of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Incredibly, with Paul Kooistra a PCA minister, Brad Christie an elder in the PCUSA, and Greg Haselden a Roman Catholic, Erskine College & Seminary has no Associate Reformed Presbyterian connection or representation among the Three Amigos — only enemies.

​So, what does it mean when Head Amigo Kooistra talks about advancing the name and mission of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church at Erskine College & Seminary? In the words of my Daddy, “Nothing! Nothing at all!”


​There are folks in Due West and elsewhere who say Head Amigo Kooistra cannot be trusted. Certainly, the former VP of the Seminary gives that impression about Kooistra in ARPTalk(122) (

​In ARPTalk(93) (, I reported on two Erskine student-athletes who outed themselves. Of course, the article was called controversial (but was the article controversial because I reported what had taken place or because the student-athletes went public with their homosexual sexual orientation?). It seems then (Acting) President Brad Christie and VP for Communications Cliff Smith took umbrage with my article and directed the IT personnel to block ARPTalk and my e-mail account from the Erskine server. Indeed, it often seems those who are in an academic community and champion “academic freedom” and “freedom of speech” for themselves are the first to take up the censor’s scissors against those with whom they disagree!

​When Paul Kooistra became the president of Erskine, he and I had a number of conversations regarding Erskine’s IT people and the censoring of ARPTalk from the college’s server. He assured me he was opposed to censorship and would see to it ARPTalk was no longer blocked by the server. Well, the matter came to a head in October of 2014 at the meeting of Second Presbytery at the Greenville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. In the hallway leading to the room where the presbytery was meeting, Kooistra and I spoke. Once again, I informed him ARPTalk and my e-mail address were still blocked. He responded: “I have spoken to the people in charge of the server and they won’t do what I ask them. I don’t know what to do!”

​Good grief! What a lie!

​At that point, I said, “Thank you!” and walked away. I know when a man is attempting to play me! I know when a man is lying to me and dissing me as a fool! I know what a twit looks like!

​The stories out of Due West of this sort of “aw-shucks” duplicity abound. Therefore, when Amigo Kooistra says he is going to do something, what does it mean? In the words of my Daddy, “Nothing! Nothing at all!”


Update — Part One

​Before I go farther, let me give an update on the seminary. The morning after the publishing of “The Three Amigos (Part One)”, March 16, the following e-mail was sent from the President’s Office:

On March 8, 2016, we had a favorable visit from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). The Visiting Committee recommended no sanctions or notations and Erskine Seminary enjoys continued accreditation through ATS.

With the future of Erskine Seminary having been discussed for several years, we will now look at several options moving forward. This will include the 2013 Report to General Synod.

I will request that the Board of Trustees appoint an Ad Hoc Strategic Committee to consider the best options for the future viability of both schools.

The motion from the Seminary faculty that was sent on March 10, 2016, will be considered carefully and objectively along with several other options.

We thank God for the favorable outcome of the ATS focused accreditation visit. We are in prayer that God will guide the future of the Seminary to his honor and glory.

​How nice!! Indeed, how nice!! However, I wonder why President Kooistra responded to the petition from the seminary faculty. THE PETITION WAS NOT ADDRESSED TO HIM. The petition from the faculty was sent to the board of trustees (particularly, Chairman of the Board Ron Vigus, who has not responded at this time) and the General Synod (particularly, Moderator Jamie Hunt, who has not responded at this time). A simple reading of the petition reveals the signers of the petition were asking for RELIEF FROM Kooistra. In other words, the petition is a unanimous vote of “NO CONFIDENCE.” So, why did Kooistra respond? Why did he not hide his head in shame? Did he not realize he was tossed out of the boat by this NO CONFIDENCE petition? Is he now swimming back to and re-entering the boat, hoping no one noticed he was tossed out by the seminary faculty’s VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE? Is his e-mail a face-saving device for a pricked ego the size of Texas? You betcha!!

Update — Part Two

​An analysis of the goings on in the Kingdom of Kooistra is needed at this point.

​On Friday, there was a meeting between Head Amigo Kooistra, CFO Amigo Haselden, and Rob Gustafson, Vice President for Administration (and, since Mr. Gustafson is new to Due West, most readers of ARPTalk have probably never heard of this good man). Gustafson is a former Headmaster at the prestigious Stony Brook School which was founded by Frank E. Gaebelein in Stony Brook, New York. As I understand it, Kooistra wanted a “new set of eyes” to look into all matters at Erskine (and, particularly, financial matters),” and he hired Gustafson for the job about 80 days ago. Well, with regard to Chris Wisdom, Kooistra said he made a mistake in hiring him. Well, did Kooistra make another mistake in hiring Rob Gustafson in January? In a month’s time, two VPs have resigned! What is the response of Chairman Ron Vigus?

​The three (Kooistra, Haselden, and Gustafson) met to discuss differences regarding the financial narrative at the seminary. It is sometimes possible to look at financial spreadsheets and come to different conclusions. Gustafson seems to have offered a narrative which contradicted Haselden’s narrative regarding the seminary — a narrative Kooistra did not want contradicted. Since Kooistra did not want to hear the information found and the advice given by his new VP for Administration (and, mind you, Kooistra hand-picked Mr. Gustafson), Kooistra closed the meeting. Mr. Gustafson then returned his keys and went home. Amigo Haselden then handed Kooistra a water glass and asked, “Sir, may I refill your glass with more green Kool-Aid so you can cool down?”

​At this point, VPs are falling like ripe figs in the Fall. Gone are the following: the VP for Administration, the VP for Development, and the VP of the Seminary. Also, with no one in charge of recruitment, the alumni director has now been tasked with student recruitment (but, as is well known in the Erskine community, the real job of recruitment is in the hands of Mark Peeler, the VP for Athletics). As a friend texted me, we now have in Due West, “Vanishing Vice Presidents and Diverted Dollars.”

​Good grief! Can anyone who dares disagree with Kooistra work for him?

​The Girardeau Lectures were in Columbia this past week (March 16 and 17). It is reported to me Kooistra was present and (except for the meeting in Due West on Friday) spent Thursday through Sunday in Columbia. It is reported to me he met with the session of the First Presbyterian Church. The church currently houses the Columbia site of Erskine Seminary. So, what is the Head Amigo attempting?

​The following is what I think. On the basis of Kooistra’s e-mail, he is attempting to preempt the petition by the seminary’s faculty. He does not want to see a Greenville site because the people who registered NO CONFIDENCE in him have suggested it. For him, it is better to have a Columbia Erskine Seminary. First Presbyterian Church is an affluent congregation. A Columbia site may not need the seminary’s assets in Due West. The troubling part in the faculty’s petition for Kooistra are these words: “to effect an equitable division of institutional assets (e.g., real estate, endowed funds, library holdings, etc.) in a manner respectful of institutional history and donor’s wishes” [emphasis mine]. In other words, Kooistra will attempt to peel off the various assets of the seminary for the college (and, as I have surmised elsewhere, use the money assets to launch a football program and the building assets {Bowie and McQuiston} to house athletes).

​Since I have mentioned football, let me share three new items. The first is an article dealing with a NCAA study which reveals the financial drain of football on a college/university: “NCAA study finds all but 20 FBS schools lose money on athletics” ( The second is a news clip exposing the high cost of hidden fees for all students at most football colleges/universities ( The third is this article: “Jim Moran says only twenty colleges make a profit from sports.” According to Moran, all athletic departments outside of the FBS operate in the red. In other words, only twenty of the 1,083 college sports programs in the nation are profitable ( Nevertheless, Kooistra is undeterred. Unless the members of the board are willing to stand firm against football, Head Amigo will have football as his great legacy.

​At Covenant Theological Seminary, Kooistra’s MO was to eliminate and replace the faculty. Kooistra has often bragged the Covenant faculty hated him (indeed, George Knight and O. Palmer Robertson are two of his trophies; and, perhaps, they will be joined by the members of the Erskine faculty). I fully expect to see Kooistra attempting the same with Erskine Seminary. The Head Amigo is not a gracious man who countenances anyone who disagrees with him, nor does he suffer an offense well. Expect to see most, if not all, the Due West seminary faculty fired in the near future. This faculty by its petition demonstrates its desire to become more closely identified with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and our Standards. Expect to see classes taught by adjuncts. Besides, adjuncts are cheaper and more easily manipulated. In other words, Head Amigo Kooistra uses and discards people like tissue paper. Afterwards, he will mount Erskine on his trophy wall in Atlanta beside Covenant Seminary and MTW.

​This past year there was a movie called The Wolf of Wall Street. That may be appropriate for the Head Amigo of Due West: “The Wolf Who Ate Erskine Seminary.”

​Now, when Head Amigo Kooistra speaks of his diligent oversight of the seminary, what does it mean: In the words of my Daddy, “Nothing! Nothing at all!”

​By the way, if you are interested, seminary alum Rev. Drew Collins has established a petition for the separation of the seminary from the college according to the points in the faculty’s petition. Access information is here:


​Generally, a conversation with Head Amigo Kooistra leads to a discussion about grace. What does it mean?

​When I was informed Paul Kooistra was going to be appointed the President of Erskine, I called a number of PCA friends to let them know of our good fortune. My friends warned, “You are in for a disappointment!” As one particular old friend put it: “You’ll hear a lot about grace, but don’t expect to find much grace given!”

​From where I sit and watch, my old friend is correct. By my observation, Kooistra is one singularly graceless individual!

​If only half of what the former VP of the Seminary relays in ARPTalk(122) is true (, grace is foreign to the Head Amigo of Due West. In the Seminary Committee at the board meeting, it is reported Kooistra was graceless toward the absent former VP of the Seminary, blaming him for all the ills of the seminary, and intimating he was incompetent. He declared the VP of the Seminary did not have a plan (as though the president was not the chief-in-charge for casting a vision and a plan). He declared the Chairman of the Seminary Committee did not have a plan (and when has the Chairman of the Seminary Committee every been tasked and paid to come up with a plan?). He declared the Seminary Committee did not have a plan (and, again, when have trustees been paid to come up with a plan?). The only person who escaped his blaming finger was the Head Amigo himself. According to several sources, Head Amigo Kooistra demonstrated the fine art of throwing people under the bus. Indeed, what a bully! The man is a Dutch peasant!

​But a question hangs, does it not? After throwing a gaggle of people under the bus, what is Amigo Kooistra’s plan for the seminary? Obviously, Kooistra does not have one, does he? Nevertheless, the Head Amigo of Due West has accused everyone connected to Erskine Seminary and the Seminary Committee of the board with failure and a lack of diligence for not having a plan for the seminary. Why does he beg he is too busy to come up with a plan? Well, it is about two months before the meeting of General Synod. Is two months enough time to come up with a plan? I expect to make a motion at General Synod in June asking the Moderator to give King Kooistra the floor so he can detail his plan for the seminary of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church to the delegates of General Synod.

​The stories abound. I have even spoken with a couple of Due West people who are not connected to Erskine who have interesting stories. I wonder, are all these people getting together, joining hand, sharing “a joint,” and experiencing communal hallucinations?

​For those who are interested and feel they work in an abusive workplace and labor in an environment of intimidation, perhaps this article from Christianity Today is helpful: “Considering (and Surviving) Unhealthy Christian Organizations, part 1,” by Ed Stetzer ( Also, for anyone at Erskine who is interested, let me remind you of the following from the Employees Resource Handbook, P-8 (top of the page):

Specifically, no student, faculty member, supervisor, employee, or other individual shall threaten or harass any other individual or insinuate harassment toward another individual through their conduct or through communication of any nature. Erskine will investigate all complaints of harassment, formal or informal, verbal or written, and take appropriate action or discipline against any person who is found to have violated this policy (

​If I were an Erskine employee, I think I would familiarize myself with this section in the Employees Resource Handbook.


​Since the 2010 “Snow Synod,” questions regarding the management of monies at Erskine abound. In the latest round, there are conflicting narratives regarding the seminary. As far as I know, no one is accusing anyone of misappropriation of funds. The question is: what has happened to the funds? As I understand it, it is a matter of two things: (1) the management of the monies; and (2) information regarding the disposition of monies.

​For years, the operating maxim of Erskine administrations has been the following: “What happens in Due West, stays in Due West.” Amigo Kooistra has gone beyond this maxim; he has turned Due West into a black hole, and not even light escapes a black hole.

​When I served on the Erskine board, it did not take long for me to realize the information given to the trustees was managed — especially, financial information. As an Associate Reformed Presbyterian minister, it did not take me long to realize the only information General Synod received from Due West was the annual report from Erskine in June, and it was managed information. To this day, the general principle of operation in dealing with the Erskine report is: do not trust anything in the Erskine Report until it is clearly verified!

​Let me ask a question: apart from ARPTalk, when was the last time you saw anything coming from the administration resembling a report on an Erskine board meeting? Cliff Smith is the VP of Communications. What does he do? Do you recall reports on board meetings used to be posted on the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church: ARP News ( What happened to transparency and disclosure? Since the arrival of Head Amigo Kooistra, where has all the transparency and disclosure gone? So, when Kooistra speaks of keeping folks informed about the goings on at Erskine, what does it mean? In the words of my Daddy, “Nothing! Nothing at all!”

​I have diverged, so let me return to the question: where has all the money gone?

​In the last 16 years, there is one constant regarding the oversight and management of monies at Erskine: that is, CFO Greg Haselden.

​I inform the reader that most, if not all the present board members, say they do not trust his reports. Ken Conner is the most prestigious individual to ever serve on the Erskine board, and, as I have been told by many sources, he resigned because he was most uncomfortable with the financial practices at Erskine. One of the reasons former-Moderator and trustee Steve Suits resigned was because he was uneasy with the financial practices. I also tell the reader many individuals have met with Kooistra and expressed their unease in the competency of the CFO. So, how is it Head Amigo Kooistra is so comfortable with Amigo Haselden who has presided over the near financial collapse of Erskine College & Seminary?

​Well, how bad is it at Erskine? Regardless of how one feels about Erskine fulfilling General Synod’s mission, the following score should concern everyone. The following is from The Chronicle of Higher Education: “160 Private Colleges Fail Education Dept.’s Financial-Responsibility Test.” A score of 1.5 is a failing grade. In 2014, Erskine had a score of 0.7 ( - scroll down to “search” and type in “Erskine”). Can anyone explain how Amigo Haselden is not responsible for this predicament? Can anyone tell me why Haselden is still the CFO? What is connection between Haselden and Kooistra?

​Now, before anyone can says, “Wait! That report was in 2014. That was one of the major reasons SACS put Erskine on ‘probation.’ Erskine is getting better.” Well, yes, incrementally, and will any of us live long enough to see Erskine get a passing score?

​By the way, at this point, it looks like another bad year financially for Erskine. All the indicators are presently down: both total giving and the Annual Fund. Interestingly, Amigo Kooistra and Chairman Ron Vigus speak of last year being a “balanced budget.” Well, if calling “robbing Peter to pay Paul” is balancing the budget, then the budget was balanced. When one takes old “designated” funds, reclassifies them as “undesignated,” and then accounts for the funds as revenue, money is not acquired — A NEW NARRATIVE IS WRITTEN!

​The only reason a college president exists is to raise money. That is the priority. Well, how has Kooistra done? He has failed. Therefore, if raising money is the standard by which Head Amigo Kooistra’s effectiveness is judged, why has he not been fired and replaced by the board?

​So, when Head Amigo Kooistra speaks of raising money, what does it mean? In the words of my Daddy, “Nothing! Nothing at all!”


​Brad Christie is one of the Three Amigos, and he also wears the big sombrero of SUCCESSLESSNESS. When the Erskine story is written, it will be written LARGE, LARGE, LARGE that Amigo Christie oversaw the academic demise of a college which had a reputation for academic excellence when he was hired to teach English.

​During Amigo Christie’s stewardship, has the entering SAT score risen or declined for the Freshman Class? During Amigo Christie’s stewardship, has Erskine’s reputation for academic excellence soared or crashed? During Amigo Christie’s stewardship, has the retention rate become higher or lower? During Amigo Christie’s stewardship, has the discount rate Erskine gives students to attend Erskine College become larger or smaller? Are these fair questions to ask of an academic dean? Are these fair standards whereby to judge an academic dean’s success or failure?

​At this time, I am told deposits are down. At this time, I am told prospects for next year’s Freshman Class are not good. So, what can we expect? We can expect what usually takes place. We can expect VP for Athletics Mark Peeler will sally forth to buy athletes to fill dorm beds. We can expect to see the endowment raided again. Before the board can respond, it will be a fait accompli.

​Well, the Three Amigos of Due West still ride. What does it mean? Well, my Daddy’s aphorism does not work here! It means Killer Kooistra and his masters of incompetency are still loose on Due West. Heaven help us! They still ride!!

+ ARPTalk Blog, 864-882-6337,

+ Erskine College and Theological Seminary, 2 Washington Street, Due West, South Carolina 29639, 864-379-2131, Fax: 864-379-2167,

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1 Cleveland Street Suite 110, Greenville, South Carolina, 29601, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

Hungary Today, 21 March 2016, by E. Sylvester Vizi in Romania

A leading Hungarian academic and former head of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is returning a major Romanian state decoration awarded to him after Klaus Johannis, the country’s president, revoked the Romanian state decoration of Bishop László Tőkés, the ethnic Hungarian Reformed pastor renowned for his pivotal role in the 1989 Romanian Revolution.

Dr. Vizi is handing back his Romanian state decoration in protest against Bishop László Tőkés (pictured) being stripped of his Order of the Star of Romania (photo:

E. Sylvester Vizi, who is currently chairman of the Friends of Hungary Foundation, disclosed that he has informed the Romanian Ambassador to Hungary of his decision in a letter expressing his regret at the Romanian President’s decision to strip Bishop Tőkés of his Star of Romania order.

In the letter to the ambassador, Dr. Vizi pointed out Bishop Tőkes’s role in the 1989 Romanian Revolution, which eventually lead to the demise of the Communist Ceauşescu regime. Stressing that Hungarian academics foster excellent relations with their Romanian colleagues, Mr. Vizi wrote in the letter that the President’s decision suggests that the spirit of the loathed dictator is, in one way or another, currently being rehabilitated in Romania.

Dr. Vizi, a neuroscientist, pharmacologist and university professor by profession, received the Order of the Star of Romania (Rank of Officer) from then President of Romania Traian Băsescu in recognition of his scientific achievements in 2006, three years before Bishop Tőkes received the Order (Rank of Knight) for his historical role in the Romanian Revolution.

The process to revoke his award was launched by Victor Ponta, the former left-wing Prime Minister of Romania, after Bishop Tőkés, who is a Member of the European Parliament, urged Hungary to act as a “protective power” in the interests of Romania’s ethnic Hungarian-populated region of Transylvania. The decision to strip him of the state order was finally made by Romanian President Klaus Johannis on 3 March this year.

[Editor’s Note: Bishop László Tőkés was a dear friend and brother-in-Christ to Christian Observer Publisher the late Rev. Dr. Edwin Elliott, who with Dr. Elliott’s brother the late Mr. Francis Elliott arranged to smuggle communications resources to Bishop Tőkés in Romania when Tőkés was under house arrest by the Ceauşescu Communist regime. The Christian Observer concurs with Friends of Hungary Foundation chairman E. Sylvester Vizi’s concern that “…the spirit of the loathed dictator [Ceauşescu] is…currently being rehabilitated in Romania.” Please see The Confessional Presbyterian 6 (2010), p.60, American Presbyterianism and the Cold War. By Frank J. Smith]

+ Bulgária-telepi Református Gyülekezet (Reformed Church in Romania), 400628 Kolozsvár - Cluj Napoca, Arad út 8-10 szám, Romania, 0264 - 415 756

+ The Confessional Presbyterian, Post Office Box 141084, Dallas, Texas 75214