[This short article was prompted by responses to one of my weekly thought-nuggets titled “The Value of Rags.” I pray that it will be a source of encouragement to those who are paralyzed by their past failures.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD.] Introduction It’s easy to talk about our succ...
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MORE ABOUT DR. PIPIM
(Presented Somewhat Chronologically)
Dr. Samuel Koranteng-Pipim is a Bible-believing scholar, well-known around the world for clarifying, articulating, and defending Christian beliefs and practices. He has spoken extensively in the various world Divisions, teaching or lecturing at several public universities and Christian/denominational institutions, conducting ministerial retreats, preaching at camp meetings, church revival and evangelistic meetings, and speaking extensively at events for youth, students, and young professionals. While greatly appreciated by many Bible-believing church members and leaders around the world, his apologetic writings, candid messages, and influence among young people have not always been appreciated by theologically-liberal thought leaders within the church.
Professional Training: Dr. Pipim first trained as an engineer at the (Kwame Nkrumah) University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, where he later worked as a research and teaching assistant. In 1982 he resigned from his work at the university in order to serve the Central Ghana Conference as its coordinator of campus ministry. He later pursued a ministerial training at Andrews University, Michigan, where he received a Masters of Divinity degree (1987) and a Ph.D. in systematic theology (1998), specializing in biblical authority & interpretation and ecclesiology. The title of his 410-page doctoral dissertation was "The Role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Interpretation: A Study in the Writings of James I. Packer," and it was under the supervision of Raoul Dederen, with Clark H. Pinnock as the external examiner.
Biblical and Theological Scholarship: Dr. Pipim enjoys theological research and writing. While pursuing his doctoral studies at Andrews University, he was hired by two successive Seminary deans (Dr. Werner Vhymeister and Dr. Raoul Dederen) to serve as their research assistant. The Seminary also employed him as a contract teacher to teach courses in theology, ethics, and church ministry to both its on-campus and off-campus graduate students. Since 1988 he has also lectured and taught courses in ethics and theology on different campuses around the world.
He preaches extensively in local churches, camp meetings, ministerial retreats, and at various professional gatherings such as ASI. His messages have also aired on TV and satellite programs, such as 3ABN, Hope Channel, and Amazing Discoveries.
Dr. Pipim also loves his church. He was ordained as minister of the Seventh-day Adventist church on June 29, 2002. He has served the world church as a delegate to five General Conference sessions (1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005), the most authoritative convocation of the church. At these General Conference sessions, he has spoken passionately on issues affecting the identity, message, and mission of the church.
While serving as the Director of Public Campus Ministries for the Michigan Conference (1998-2011), Dr. Pipim based his office in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he ministered to students, faculty, and staff at the University of Michigan. He was also the Director of the Center for Adventist Ministry to Public University Students (CAMPUS), a unique center dedicated to training young people to minister to students on secular college & university campuses (see, http://www.campushope.org).
Dr. Pipim's leadership and influence at CAMPUS played a major role in the birth and growth of the Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC) (formerly General Youth Conference), a grassroots, young people’s movement committed to the message and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church. (For more on this see “GYC Statement of Clarification” on the GYC website: http://www.gycweb.org ). CAMPUS is also the sponsor of A.L.I.V.E. (Africans Living In View of Eternity), a grassroots organization of African students and young professionals' in North America (see, http://www.africansalive.org ).
"My passion is to inspire and train young people to be brilliant, godly, and effective leaders," says Dr. Pipim. He wants to see the resurgence of a generation of young people who truly love the Lord, who have a respect for Scriptures and learning, and who will dare to stand for truth, no matter the cost. (For some of his well-known quotes on leadership, click on "Leadership Nuggets by Dr. Pipim" under the leadership link on this website)
Bible Lectures: Since 2001, Dr. Pipim has given Bible lectures to students on various university campuses in North America, Europe, and Africa. They include, Harvard, Manchester, Stanford, and Wellesley. These lectures are designed to show that the biblical message is intellectually credible and addresses relevant questions today.
In Africa he is known for his calls for "mind-liberation" as the key to the moral and intellectual transformation of the African people. Believing that young people are the key to change in African society and church, he has conducted one-week Bible Lecture Series, notably his “WHY” and “Excellence” series, on various university campuses: Babcock University, Nigeria (2001, 2010), Helderberg College, Somerset West, South Africa (2003), University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, Kenya (2003), University of Ghana, Legon (2004), University of Cape-Coast, Ghana (2005, 2007, 2009), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana (2006, 2008), University of Education, Ghana (2007, 2011), Tshwane University of Science & Technology, Pretoria, South Africa (2007), Valley View University, Ghana (2007), University of Lagos, Nigeria (2008), University of Zambia (and Evelyn Horne College), Lusaka, Zambia (2008), Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria (2008), Ashesi University College, Ghana (2010), and University of Botswana, Botswana (2011).
In these WHY and Excellence lectures (which Dr. Pipim considers as his personal contribution to the moral and intellectual transformation of the African people), he challenges his audiences to take full responsibility for every aspect of their lives, instead of blaming all their problems on their past colonial masters. He focuses on students because he believes that even as students they can still effect positive changes in society. Students don't have to wait till they graduate before they activate their plans to change their worlds. As he is fond of saying to them, "A plan without a deadline is a dream; the deadline is now. For, if it's not now, we're late."
Critics & Criticisms: In today's climate of theological pluralism and its culture of indifference to truth, those who dare to call others to biblical accountability, particularly on forbidden issues, are seldom appreciated. Thus, while Dr. Pipim's works and ministry have been a blessing to thousands of earnest truth-seekers, there have been some predictable reactions from certain quarters of his church.
For example, because Dr. Pipim's apologetic writings deal with "hot" issues in the church, some of his critics confuse the task of addressing controverted issues with being “controversial.” Also because he consistently points to the Bible as the litmus test of every new teaching or practice in the church, some of his theologically-liberal critics label him “ultra-conservative” or describe him as a "happy conservative" (if they are kind to him). Moreover, because he tends to footnote and vigorously critique Biblically-questionable views being pushed by influential leaders, scholars, and interest groups within the church, the advocates of theological pluralism in the church (i.e., those who are pushing the cohabitation of truth and error) try to paint him as "critical," or even “divisive.” Finally, because his Bible-based, life-transforming, and mission-driven messages are resonating with a growing number of young people and students, in a desperate effort to "stop him," some who are promoting other approaches to youth ministry and church growth employ their influence to misinform people about his views and ministry. There are others who oppose him simply because they cannot accept the fact that a black African is capable of serious intellectual or theological discourse.
Response to Critics: While open to correction, Dr. Pipim has not been deterred by his critics' opposition or deliberate misinformation. He welcomes those who make a painstaking effort to refute his biblical and theological arguments, and who offer compelling scriptural correctives to the positions he has advanced on various issues being debated in the church. He, however, ignores all criticisms of himself, and all criticisms of his views that amount to mere general disapproval and denunciation. He argues that such criticisms, labels, and attacks (often carried out behind closed-doors) are the resort only of individuals who are incapable of presenting any serious reply to his biblical positions.
To his critics who argue that his vigorous challenge of their questionable arguments for higher-criticism, homosexuality, racially-separate church structures in North America, women's ordination, gospel gimmicks, new worship styles, revisionist interpretation of Adventist history, etc. amounts to theological and/or historical-faultfinding, Dr. Pipim responds with the words of A. E. Housman:“I have spent most of my time finding faults because finding faults, if they are real and not imaginary is the most useful sort of criticism.”
Dr. Pipim believes that the highest expression of church loyalty is to be faithful to the Bible-based message and mission of the church. He rejects the counterfeit unity or theological pluralism being promoted in certain quarters of the church, arguing that faithfulness to the Word of God should be the basis of unity in the church. And instead of "gospel gimmicks," he maintains that the only way to grow churches and keep young people in the church is to preach the Word and train members to be soul-winners.
Consequently, Dr. Pipim typically responds to his critics with the African proverb: "The threatening eyes of the crocodile do not prevent the thirsty frog from drinking from the pond." [Meaning: Fear or intimidation must never be allowed to prevent us from doing the right thing]. He finds great inspiration in one pertinent statement by Ellen G. White, reproduced on the front cover of his apologetic book Must We Be Silent: “I know that which I now speak will bring me into conflict. This I do not covet, for the conflict has seemed to be continuous of late years: but I do not mean to live a coward or die a coward, leaving my work undone. I must follow in my Master’s footsteps.”
Despite the efforts by his critics, Dr. Pipim's stirring messages continue to resonate among Bible-believing church members around the world. His published works, audio- and video-recorded messages (all of which are publicly available) compellingly refute the claims of his critics. And thousands of people--especially young people, students, and professionals--testify to the life-transforming and spiritual impact of his ministry.
Resignation. On May 23, 2011, Dr. Pipim resigned from his position as Director of Public Campus Ministries and employment from the Michigan Conference. In his resignation letter, he wrote: "It is with great sorrow and shame that while in my overseas travels, I had a moral fall. It was a temptation of a moment. While taking some precautions to guard the avenues to temptation, I did not take enough. I have made this right with God, my wife and family, and the person involved to the best of my ability. I am deeply wounded for having let down so many who have looked up to me for spiritual leadership. I humbly ask and hope that you will find it in your hearts to forgive me."
In a subsequent email (dated May 25, 2011) to his colleagues in ministry and CAMPUS staff, he wrote: "As for my future plans, I intend to spend some time with my family, do some prayerful reflection and study, and help in the orderly and smooth transition of the new CAMPUS leadership to be appointed by the Michigan Conference. Consequently, all speaking appointments are being cancelled. Although my passion for youth training and empowerment has not waned, the rest of my life is in God's hands."
On June 12, 2011, Dr. Pipim also sent a message to African leaders of his church in which he explained: "My public confession and resignation was an act of faith. It was consistent with the message of integrity and 'faithful unto death' sermon series I have taught and preached. Moreover, the decision is an attempt to model what I teach. We must set good examples in both how we deal with our successes as well as our failures. Painful, though it has been, I pray it would be used by the Lord to bring about soul-searching, a distrust of ourselves, and a whole-hearted dependence on the Lord. By God's grace I'll rise again, and what was meant for evil could very well turn out to be a blessing in disguise."
As a consequence of his resignation from his employment with the Michigan Conference, and from his role as Director of CAMPUS (CAMPUS is the birth place, headquarters, and sponsor of GYC), Dr. Pipim also surrendered his ministerial credential, resigned from the GYC Board, and submitted himself to discipline by his local church. (For more on his resignation, including his response to accusations, click on this RESIGNATION link.
New Year's Day Announcement. On January 1, 2012, Dr. Pipim issued a statement on his spiritual well-being and announced his forthcoming book as his gift of appreciation to God: "As a tribute to Him for bestowing upon me His forgiving, transforming, and restorative grace, I want to offer a small gift to the world....On this new year’s day, by means of this announcement of the book Success In the Midst of Failure, I am declaring to the world that, because of the forgiving and restorative grace of God, the wounded eagle has been healed from its self-inflicted wounds and is ready to join God’s faithful eagles in soaring again. From this day forward, I will sing to the world my many 'songs in the dark.'"
As regards his future work, Dr. Pipim wrote: "I feel an urgent need for the Lord to use me as an earthen vessel in any line of His own choosing, to continue sharing His saving grace and leading others to the Lord Jesus Christ. ... The urgency of our times compels me to rise up again and proclaim the Word with clarity and boldness when other voices are muted, shrilled, or confused."
Response to False Accusations. Since his resignation in May 2011, he has been the subject of many endless rumors, gossips, or accusations, falsehoods and half-truths, and slanderous and libelous information. The more outrageous the accusations, the more the purveyors seem to draw people to their causes, websites, or their own self-righteousness and, hence, the more they seek to promote their personal, political, or ideological agenda.
Some of his accusers have employed the names of influential individuals to give credibility to their misrepresentations and their campaign to see him “vanished, banished, tarnished, or finished.” The goal of those engaged in this calculated campaign (some of whom are, or have been, in denominational employment and leadership) is to exploit his spiritual failure to undermine the influence of the work he has done in the past, seriously hurt him in the present, and prevent prospects of any future usefulness in the cause of God.
To date, Dr. Pipim has issued only one major response to the accusations. On June 3, 2012, he issued "An Answer to Everyone"--which was a response to false accusations by some of his personal, ideological, and political nemesis.
He has, however, chosen to ignore all other subsequent accusations and persecutory actions, preferring to address them in a manner consistent with the teachings of God's Word. These persecutory actions include the unbiblical, unethical, and illegal attempt by some to ban all his published works, and pull off from circulation the messages of truth that had over the years edified tens of thousands around the world—and in some cases, even helped to inspire and develop grassroots movements.
Though painful, Dr. Pipim has embraced these actions as part of the consequences of his sin. He believes that God can even use the hurts for his benefit. The following statement, written to certain influential individuals, sums up Dr. Pipim’s attitude to the ill-treatment he has suffered at the hands of “friends, enemies, and frenemies”:
“I have learned that pain is not merely the price of sin, but investment in righteousness. For it is in facing the painful results of sin that God prepares us for the rich blessings of His righteousness. I want you to know that I hold no personal animosity towards you. God uses the hurtful actions of people—friends and enemies—to draw us closer to Himself. Thus, just as God used the rebukes of Nathan (a friend) and Shemei (an enemy) to bring David to deeper repentance, so also has the Lord used the fallout of [your action] to bring me to brokenness (cf. 2 Samuel 12:1-15; 16:5-14; 19:17-23). …. The pain [has] helped to deepen my repentance. This is why I hold no personal hostility towards you. Instead, I extend to you the same forgiveness I myself have received for my many sins.”
EAGLESonline. Dr. Pipim currently directs EAGLESonline--a Bible-based, life-transforming, and efficient network that seeks to train and empower students, young professionals, institutions, and organizations to become agents of positive, social change. Its mission is to add value to peoples’ lives. (EAGLES is an acronym for Empowerment & Advisory Group for Leadership, Excellence, & Service). EAGLESonline is an umbrella organization for two centers of leadership development–the EAGLES Center and the ANANSE Center.(For more, see EAGLESonline).
Thought Nuggets. Every week, Dr. Pipim publishes a one-paragraph inspirational quote called "thought nuggets." A reflection on life experiences in the light of God's Word, the goal of the thought nuggets is to inspire, encourage, and challenge. These are available on the EAGLESonline website (see Weekly Nuggets), as well as on his Facebook pages (see Dr. Pipim's Facebook, Samuel Pipim Network, and EAGLESonline FB)
Favorite Sayings: Dr. Pipim’s friends, students, colleagues, and audiences at his Bible lecture series on various university campuses point to the following statements as some of his memorable sayings:
--"Church liberals are nice people with (biblically) bad ideas."
--Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take the Lord seriously.”
--"Why settle for good, when better is available?"
--"If you want to grow you must know."
--"Never underestimate the potential of one person--you!"
--"Don't give the church to young people; give it rather to converted young people."
--"To change the world, you must first be changed."
--“The success of any movement is movement.”
--"A movement that loses its history is destined for nowhere."
--“Something is happening; the Lord is doing it and let’s be part of it.”
--“The Bible is the inspired Word of God; it is the only Book . . . . Let us study the Bible, for if we do so, we shall find rest for our souls.”
--"There are too many Obadiahs in the church. We need more Elijahs."
--"Those who can't take a stand cannot be trusted."
--"It is fruitful trees that have stones hurled at them."
--"There's nothing wrong with the African mind. Our problem is the African mindset."
--"The heart of the African problem is the African heart."
--"Petty jealousies, short-sightedness, and selfishness have produced many of our leading 'African PhDs'--i.e., Africans with 'Pull Him Down (or Pull Her Down) Syndrome'."
--“Learn to think for yourself, otherwise somebody will do the thinking for you."
--"Those who READ are those who LEAD."
--“Those who argue that ordaining women as elders/pastors is not a theological issue are either biblically uninformed or simply dishonest.”
--"Just because a housefly wears a bow-tie or a skirt doesn't mean you should marry it."
--"The pen of truth is the most effective weapon against the arrogance of power."
--"To change the world, you must first be changed."
--"The complacency of success is the first step to mediocrity."
--“Lead by actions, not by directions.”
--"Discouragement is my encouragement."
--“The Bible is the inspired Word of God. . . . Let us study the Bible, for if we do so we shall find rest for our souls.”
--"Excellence is a Christian obligation. To settle for anything less is a denial of faith."
--"In a culture of theological pluralism, biblical teaching is controversial and divisive."
--"Excellence is distinction. Mediocrity is extinction. We can choose to be DISTINCT or EXTINCT."
Hobbies & Interests: Dr. Pipim enjoys reading, writing, good quality music, teaching, and challenging young people to pursue professional and spiritual excellence. He also loves theological research, often tackling unpopular issues being debated in the church.
--Hope Media Ministries (www.hopevideocom),
--Adventists Affirm (www.AdventistsAffirm.org ).
Role Models: Besides the Lord Jesus Christ and some Bible characters, Dr. Pipim counts the following among his positive role-models: John Nevius Andrews, Dr. Kwegyir A. Aggrey, Robert Pierson, Enock de Olivera, Hedwig Jemison, Dr. Gerhard F. Hasel, C. D. Brooks, Paul Nsiah (Sr. & Jr.), Dr. Paul Yeboah, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Steve Biko, and Nelson Mandela. Of the African leaders, he identifies most closely with Dr. J.E.K. Aggrey.
His favorite Christian author is E. G. White, the most translated woman writer in the history of literature. (Her works can be read online through the "Devotional Classics " link on this website).