During the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the 1920s, Christian evangelist Bob Jones, Sr.grew increasingly concerned about the secularization of higher education and the influence of religious liberalism in denominational colleges.Jones said that although he had been averse to naming the school after himself, his friends overcame his reluctance "with the argument that the school would be called by that name because of my connection with it, and to attempt to give it any other name would confuse the people." Bob Jones took no salary from the college and helped support the school with personal savings and income from his evangelistic campaigns. The Florida land boom had peaked in 1925, and a hurricane in September 1926 further reduced land values. Bob Jones College barely survived bankruptcy and its move to Cleveland, Tennessee in 1933.In the same year, the college also ended participation in intercollegiate sports.Others take ministry positions straight from college, and rising juniors participate in a church internship program to prepare them for the pastoral ministry.In 1995 there were 1,290 BJU graduates serving as senior or associate pastors in churches across the United States.
In 2008, the university estimated the number of its graduates at 35,000; in 2017, 40,184.More than a hundred concerts, recitals, and laboratory theater productions are also presented annually.Each fall, as a recruiting tool, the university sponsors a "High School Festival" in which students compete in music, art, and speech (including preaching) contests with their peers from around the country.The university requires use of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible in its services and classrooms, but it does not hold that the KJV is the only acceptable English translation or that it has the same authority as the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.
The King-James-Only Movement—or more correctly, movements, since it has many variations—became a divisive force in fundamentalism only as conservative modern Bible translations, such as the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the New International Version (NIV), began to appear in the 1970s.
Candidate status—effectively, accreditation—was obtained in April 2005, and full membership in the Association was conferred in November 2006. After BJU lost the decision in Bob Jones University v. The year following the Court decision, contributions to the university declined by 13 percent.