“I take personal ownership of this inflammatory rhetoric. This reckless statement was made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago. It is antithetical to my theology and my 50 years of preaching a redeeming Christ Who came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved,” said Jones in his statement.
In 1980, Jones delivered a petition to then-President Jimmy Carter in opposition to extending civil rights protection to gays. He told the Associated Press: “I’m sure this will be greatly misquoted, but it would not be a bad idea to bring the swift justice today that was brought in Israel’s day against murder and rape and homosexuality.
“I guarantee it would solve the problem post-haste if homosexuals were stoned, if murderers were immediately killed as the Bible commands,” Jones said at the time.
“Upon now reading these long-forgotten words, they seem to me as words belonging to a total stranger—were my name not attached,” Jones said in his statement last week.
The apology comes after the university received a petition asking for an apology for Jones’ comments he made at the White House at the time.
“I cannot erase them, but wish I could, because they do not represent the belief of my heart or the content of my preaching. Neither before, nor since, that event in 1980 have I ever advocated the stoning of sinners,” Jones said.
“The Bible I love, preach, and try to practice, does not present today the stoning of sinners as God’s way. Its message is the good news that Christ Jesus was condemned on behalf of sinners to rescue all of us from condemnation and judgment by His willing sacrifice, for He was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,” he said.
“I apologize for the reflection those remarks bring upon Jesus Christ, Whom I love; Bob Jones University, which I have loved and served; and my own personal testimony,” Jones added.