ABUSE & VIOLENCE IN THE CHURCH, Failure to Report Crimes, Grace Community Church, John MacArthur, Master's University / Master's Seminary, Sexual Abuse/Assault and Churches, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Authority, Spiritual Bullies

John MacArthur’s The Master’s University and Seminary: Still on Academic Probation, and Reported Layoffs

By IslandsEnd – Own work, CC0, Link

On July 18, 2018, the Western Association of Senior College & University Commission (WSCUC) sent a letter to Dr. John MacArthur, formally documenting the decision WSCUC made to impose the sanction of probation on The Master’s University and The Master’s Seminary.

The letter detailed the probationary status process:

The Commission has found that The Master’s University and Seminary is not in compliance with WSCUC Standards 1, 2, and 3. Under U.S. Department of Education regulations, when the Commission finds that an institution fails to meet one or more of the Standards of Accreditation, it is required to notify the institution of these findings and give the institution no longer than two years from the date of this action to correct the deficiencies. If an institution has not remedied the deficiencies at the conclusion of this sanction period, the Commission is required, under U.S. Department of Education regulations, to take an “adverse action,” which in this case would take the form of withdrawal of accreditation. An institution under sanction must address the areas cited by the Commission expeditiously, with seriousness and the full attention of the institution’s leadership. It is the responsibility of the Commission to determine, at the end of the sanction period, whether the institution has made the necessary corrections and has come into compliance with Commission Standards.

Below, I have summarized WSCUC ‘s key findings which resulted in the probationary sanction:

Board independence: Instead of independent board members, the
WSCUC team noted that the TMU board is comprised of internal members connected to the institution by employment, or in an area in which John MacArthur is in an authority position. You can’t do that!

Personnel and management practices: The WSCUC team noted “a climate of fear, intimidation, bullying, and uncertainty among significant numbers of faculty and staff.” Does this surprise anyone? Numerous people have shared with me their personal accounts of the same behavior.

Operational integrity: Conflicts of interest were noted regarding the son-in-law of John MacArthur, who was “supervising a contract from which he benefits, as well as institutional aid that exceeds typical aid awards being awarded to friends and relatives.” They also noted a more serious issue that “significant findings” which were reported by the auditor were still being ignored by TMU more than 6 months later. Apparently, they don’t seem to be taking WSCUC’s authority seriously.

Additionally, with regard to the “Jane story” – a rape that had occurred a decade earlier – the commission was not convinced that TMU had the “capacity and willingness of the institution’s leadership to operate with integrity, high performance, appropriate responsibility, and accountability.” Jane most certainly could have told them that!

Leadership: I will quote the whole paragraph on this specific issue because it is very important:

The institution is not in compliance with the requirement in CFR 3.8 regarding the Chief Executive Officer. In addition, some individuals have been hired without job descriptions being provided and/or searches being conducted. Some institutional leaders lack higher education experience, preparation, and knowledge of key higher education regulatory expectations and professional standards for institutions of higher education. For example, when asked by the visiting team, the COO was unaware of the Clery Act, VAWA, and the Family Education Right to Privacy Act (FERPA).

These are critical issues. Is it any wonder why Jane did not receive proper help? Also, do you see how school leaders could take advantage of students by not following or knowing the Family Education Right to Privacy Act?

But check out how The Master’s University statement spins these weighty matters in their public statement, dated November 2, 2018. Not only do they blame WSCUC for “inaccuracies,” but they turn their statement into a brag-fest. Unreal!! Here is the link for the statement, but I have also copied it below:

Today, the Western Association of Senior College & University Commission visiting team completed a two-day visit. The chairman of the visiting team, Dr. John Jackson, left the following response:

“The WSCUC Special Visit Team was greatly encouraged by the level of board and community engagement with the previous report. We look forward to the commission taking an action that will be most helpful for the institution.”

Since 1975, The Master’s University and Seminary has received its accreditation from WSCUC. Over the years, WSCUC‘s feedback has served to strengthen the institution. We are grateful for this long-standing relationship and are committed to maintaining our accreditation in good standing.

Since July, The Master’s University and Seminary has investigated and responded extensively to the issues raised in the WSCUC report. The University leadership has taken the steps it believes are necessary to address those issues. The recommendations from WSCUC have been fully pursued and will only serve to make this institution better. TMUS has identified many inaccuracies that were presented to WSCUC that have since been clarified with the truth. All of this is included in the supplemental report which was evaluated by the visiting WSCUC committee on its visit November 1-2.

We know many have been anxious to find out the current status of the University and Seminary. The following will help you understand:

  • The report affirmed the University’s excellence in academics, finances and marketing.
  • Over the past two years, donor support for the institution has reached its highest point in history.
  • We are currently experiencing an increase in enrollment and looking at an even bigger increase next year.
  • For two consecutive years, in 2016 and 2017, The Wall Street Journal named The Master’s University the No. 1 Right Choice institution, an award given to the institution that receives the highest level of student satisfaction.
  • The board of directors fully supports the current direction of the institution under the leadership of the President.
  • The Master’s University put in place a tuition reset in 2017. The result has been an increase in net tuition revenue for the school while decreasing institutional discounting. The reset also resulted in an increase in our ability to reach a broader segment of the population.
  • For the last fiscal year we received an unqualified audit opinion from our auditing firm Capin Crouse.

TMUS’s accreditation status hasn’t changed. Our students continue to enjoy the privileges and rights of accreditation from WSCUC. We thank you for your prayers and support for The Master’s University and Seminary.

Ok, so that is the back story. After another visit to TMU, WSCUC posted an update on the status of The Master’s University and Seminary’s probation status as noted in the screenshot below:

The Master’s University and Seminary are still on probation and need ANOTHER special visit by the
WSCUC team!

So, they couldn’t pull it together after WSCUC identified the issues? Things must have been really bad if they couldn’t correct the issues by the next
WSCUC visit.

Layoffs Reported

Ok, moving on to the next issue. It was reported on Facebook (by a TMU professor’s wife), that 11 layoffs are planned for the end of the school year, plus John MacArthur’s personal secretary.

Wait a minute – – – didn’t we read in their November statement that donor support is the highest in history and increasing enrollment? Something is not lining up!

Here’s a tweet which includes a screenshot of the Facebook note:

I leave you with a comment which I found on a blog where the rubber meets the road:

Ralph Drollinger • 15 days ago

I think it is very important to note what MacArthur himself states (among many other things) in regards to those who are deemed qualified to lead Christian institutions:

“Nevertheless, those outside the church must recognize him as a man of impeccable reputation. How can a man have a spiritual impact on his community if that community does not respect him? Such an individual can do nothing but bring reproach or disgrace on the cause of Christ.” (MacArthur, John: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 1 Timothy [Moody; Chicago] page 119).

In this case, WASC—those outside the schools—are the ones who made the findings, placing the The Masters’ University and Seminary on probation over moral and ethical violations: Findings such as bullying those under one’s authority and deliberate engagement in nepotistic conflicts of interest respectively. These are character issues, deliberate sins in the life of the University and Seminaries’ leader. Probation status did not stem from perfunctory findings, like failing to paper a file, or incorrectly processing a federal tuition grant.

The fact that an outside governmental agency objectively documented and determined that MacArthur’s leadership does not even meet the moral and ethical standards of the world, deems him unqualified to remain at the helm. MacArthur measures up neither to WASC’s nor his own standards.

MacArthur’s response? A half-confession in chapel: Something to the tune of “we’ll do better in the future!” One need examine what MacArthur himself says about such pleas:

“The all too common practice today is to forgive a leader who sins and immediately restore him to his ministry…To immediately restore them to the ministry, however, lowers the standard that God expects leaders to follow. And since leaders serve as the pattern of holiness and virtue for the congregation, the standard for the entire church is lowered” (Ibid, page 103-4). In this case it is the standard of the University and Seminary that is lowered—should he remain anywhere in the picture.

MacArthur should measure himself by his own standards of measure (cf. Matthew 7:1-5); he has fallen on his own sword.

Most important here is the cause of Christ, the Great Commission, the glory of God, and the sustainability and endurance of the University and Seminary (I am a graduate of the Seminary)—not MacArthur and his sycophant board members who are now trying to save face. They have feathered their own bed; it is time for them to fly away. Link


Related articles:

This is a great video discussing the serious nature of the WASC findings:

15 thoughts on “John MacArthur’s The Master’s University and Seminary: Still on Academic Probation, and Reported Layoffs”

  1. I’ve seen this many times. On the surface, it’s deny, deny, deny, and behind the scenes, they are scrambling to figure out what to do. I don’t think the accreditation board doesn’t really care what messages the university sends out as long as their findings are taken seriously and corrected.

    The problem is that sometimes, the institution deludes itself into believing the lies they are spreading to avoid scrutiny. So, if the committee truly misunderstood them, then there’s no reason to make any changes – just work to correct the misunderstanding. Part of that problem is that their board is certainly full of MacArthur cheerleaders. They won’t take the step back and realize that the institution they’re trying to protect needs to outlive MacArthur, and that may mean kicking him to the curb. Who knows what went on behind closed doors. Did MacArthur assure the board that he could “sweet talk” the commission out of probation? Are they preparing for being unaccredited and building up the story that the accreditors “blind-sided” them when they were doing everything they were asked to?


  2. Christian institutions of higher learning, especially independent ones, can also say that they answer to a “higher authority” and that accreditation doesn’t matter to them. They could also claim “persecution.” However, that also complicates things when students want to transfer their credits to other institutions.


  3. Personally, while I’m very concerned about the problems at TMU, I’m not worried about the fact that they’re still on probation. I’ve done some work with accreditation (ISO 9001/AS9100), and when you get to the point where that accreditation is on probation, what you’ve got is some very significant issues that need to be addressed, really at the level of the board of directors and the “top level” documents governing the university.

    As the initial probation notice indicates, having given them two years to comply, everybody knows that this is not something you just whip out over the weekend, present at the next board meeting, and call it good. It’s one where you need to talk with a lot of people to figure out precisely what in the culture got them where they are, and then the even harder part is getting people to sign on to something that will prevent them from going there again.

    One other note; if indeed John MacArthur’s secretary is a key person in making the whole enterprise work, that’s one of your problems. I’m sure she’s very capable, and TMU students are indeed lucky to have had her, but if she indeed has (had) outsized influence in the organization, that means that the organization clearly wasn’t working like it was supposed to be.


  4. It’s one where you need to talk with a lot of people to figure out precisely what in the culture got them where they are, and then the even harder part is getting people to sign on to something that will prevent them from going there again.

    From what I can see, the hardest part will be getting MacArthur to admit that anything in the schools’ culture needs to change. Considering one of his first responses was to label the probation decision as a satanic attack, I fear it’s very unlikely he’ll do so.


  5. SKIJ, you might be surprised. Not that winning over “big men” is a walk in the park, but organizations tend, over time, to mirror their leaders even when those leaders have led them into horrible times. For example, I used to work in a factory in south central MN where, 25 years after his death, most of the older workers were still, in their minds, “working for Edgar.”

    And if you wanted something to get done in a hurry, the best way was (if you could) to persuade the worker that it was Edgar’s idea. Which is a long way of saying that there is probably a plurality or outright majority at TMC that think the same way about MacArthur, and even if MacArthur is won over, he and others need to persuade the rank and file of the matter.


  6. “The fact that an outside governmental agency objectively documented and determined that MacArthur’s leadership does not even meet the moral and ethical standards of the world, deems him unqualified to remain at the helm.”

    Which will get spun as “PERSECUTION!!!!!!!”

    Considering one of his first responses was to label the probation decision as a satanic attack, I fear it’s very unlikely he’ll do so.

    (And don’t forget Satan’s minions — WITCHES hiding in every closet and under every bed! Working their WITCHCRAFT against Pastor and all Real True Christians like you!)


  7. When I lived in a small town back in the 80s, I met a recently retired couple from my church who had been at MacArthur’s place for a number of years. When they had enough of small town church life, they would stay home on Sunday and listen to their collection of his sermons that took up two walls of their living room. Not that the churches in the town were that great, but it sure looked like pastoral idolatry to me.


  8. @BB “what you’ve got is some very significant issues that need to be addressed, really at the level of the board of directors and the “top level” documents governing the university.”

    Yes, and probably it’s not a new thing, but a recent incarnation of a long-standing culture. While correcting some recent poor decisions isn’t hard, correcting decades of authoritarian culture is going to be painful.

    I think more significant is the recent update. WASC mandated and TMU agreed that replacing MacArthur with a full-time CEO was critical – perhaps the most critical feedback they received, and what has happened? The board hasn’t even come up with a job description, and they internally changed the timeline for the search process – they kicked the can. I think that is perhaps the most telling thing in the whole document. The first thing that needs to happen is replacing MacArthur, before they can even start dealing with the cultural issues and nepotism, and they haven’t even started. I have significant doubts that they will be able to turn it around in two years, especially given their thoughts that they can’t even bring in a new CEO until 18 months. That gives them 6 months with a new CEO to turn the Titanic. And… 3 of the 6 months are the CEO getting acclimated to the organization before making changes.


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