LifeWay decides against Glorieta sale to Olivet University with ties to David Jang

by Art Toalston- BP |

NASHVILLE — LifeWay Christian Resources has "decided not to go forward" with the sale of its Glorieta, N.M., conference center to Olivet University, a San Francisco-based school which found itself in media crosshairs after the possible sale became public in July.

Olivet University was founded in 1992 by Korean pastor David Jang. Jang, who has been referred to by followers as the "second coming of Christ," has been the center of a controversy over his theological stand.

According to an August 16 in-depth report in Christianity Today, The Second Coming Christ Controversy by Ted Olsen and Ken Smith, Jang has gained influence in American evangelical ministries over the past five years but overseas his influence has begun to wane. Christian organizations in Korea and China have severed relationships with his affiliated organizations after investigating the claims against Jang.

LifeWay, in announcing its decision Oct. 17, cited a study by National Association of Evangelicals representatives that LifeWay had initiated. Olivet had agreed to the inquiry, which focused on the theological compatibility between LifeWay, a Southern Baptist entity, and Olivet, a school with ties to Jang.

Olivet, however, in a subsequent statement to the media, stated it plans to engage in "continuing negotiations" with LifeWay to purchase the 2,100-acre property near Santa Fe which, according to LifeWay, has operated at a loss for 24 of the past 25 years.

Neither LifeWay nor Olivet released the NAE report to BP.

The full text of LifeWay's announcement follows:

"LifeWay Christian Resources has reviewed the report from the National Association of Evangelicals, and decided not to go forward with the sale of Glorieta Conference Center to Olivet University. We are appreciative of our relationship with Olivet's leadership, and indebted to NAE for their thorough work. We will now renew our pursuit of viable options for the sale of the property."

The full text of Olivet's response follows:

"Olivet University leadership has been made aware that Lifeway Christian Resources plans not to proceed with the transfer of the Glorieta Conference Center. Olivet intends to further discuss the decision of LifeWay Christian Resources' leadership in moving forward and continuing negotiations in hopes an agreement can be reached regarding the purchase of the Glorieta Conference Center in Glorieta, N.M."

Earlier this year, LifeWay offered to sell the conference center to the Baptist Convention of New Mexico for $1. Following a feasibility study, however, the state convention determined it would be too costly to renovate and maintain the property. The executive director of the New Mexico convention, Joseph Bunce, declined comment on this latest development in LifeWay's effort to sell Glorieta, according to a BCNM spokesman.

The study of theological compatibility between LifeWay and Olivet primarily focused on accusations that Jang and/or his followers have promoted a heresy that he is the "second coming Christ." Jang has both defenders and critics regarding his Christian orthodoxy.


Additional reporting by Christian Examiner staff