Acedemic Freedom versus Indoctrination

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Mark Osgatharp, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    By it's nature, collegiate education must be conducted in an environment with some degree of acedemic freedom and open inquiry. By it's nature, the message and ministry of the church is doctrinaire and dogmatic.

    Do these facts not, of necessity, make the idea of a church supported collegiate institution of learning an impossibility?

    Can a church, consistent with it's mission, support an institution which tolerates diversity of opinion and acedemic freedom? Can a college, consistent with it's mission, put itself in submission to dogmatic doctrinal parameters?

    The obvious incompatibility of the distinct missions of church and college is clearly seen in the current rift between the historically Southern Baptist colleges and universities and the state Conventions which have traditionally supported them. It seems to me all the trouble could have been saved if, long ago, the churches had recognized that they cannot, consistently with their God given mission, errect and support a collegiate system.

    What do you think?

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  2. Baptist Believer

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    Yes, I agree.

    To a degree… except the demons (and satan himself) have pretty good theology, but it doesn’t help them because they are in rebellion against God instead of in communion.

    A church is much more than a group of people who espouse particular views. The church is a communion/community of believers, who have a diversity of gifts and backgrounds, who find unity in Christ. Since there is no one person who completely understands the fullness of the revelation of God (knowledge is gained by study, personal and corporate, and immersion in the Kingdom life), the church seeks God together to understand God’s truths and guidance.

    Not at all, especially since the view of the church you presented is faulty.

    A college/seminary theological education can simply be a way for an individual to study and prepare for the work God has called them to do. Furthermore, a good college or seminary education requires mental and physical discipline, which is invaluable in ministry. Certainly one can develop that discipline on their own, or with the help of others in their community, but the college/seminary allows the student to test their views and mental discipline against a much larger subset of society.

    Why not? Since God has created us as individuals and placed us within community, He certainly expects us to learn from and be challenged by each other.

    Our community (common unity) is found in Christ, not in theological idols. Certainly there are many important truths (fundamentals) that Christians share, but we are followers of Christ that use the Bible and its theology to train us and help us be obedient.

    Islam builds unity around the Koran (a book). Followers of Jesus (Christians) build their unity around Christ.

    Colleges and seminaries align themselves with doctrinal parameters all the time. However, the academic environment should also allow professors to present views that the student will likely encounter in the real world, or that have been very influential throughout history. That’s how students learn and discover what they really believe and what scripture really teaches. As the students react against various views, they build understanding of their own faith.
     
  3. EdSutton

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    Generally, I agree with BB, here. It is a rather old question, generally. In fact, unless I'm mistaken, it is the first question ever asked. "Did God really say that...?" I suggest that that is the whole thing in a nutshell.
    Ed
     
  4. Gold Dragon

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    Excellent post BB [​IMG]
     
  5. shannonL

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    We build our unity around the Word of God and the true and living Word Jesus Christ.
    Mark I think it is totally inappropriate to support baptist historically baptist institutions where the Bible is not upheld as the final, supreme authority of that particular istititution.
    I think that is what your driving at in a sense.
    For example in NC for almost 50 years SBC churches supported SEBTS. It was moderate at best liberal at worst. In turn by supporting that institution the churches were allowing their young men to go off and become indoctrinated with liberal theology. In turn they brought their new found knowledge back into the church. This is how it works whether your a consevative or a lib.

    Baptist Believer,

    I don't know your theological leanings but you make a comment that is classic statement often made by liberal or moderate theologians.
    They love to claim unity around the person and teachings of Jesus Christ while at the same time undermining the teaching and authority of Holy, God breathed Scripture.
    You are dead wrong when you say we as christians unite around Christ regardless of how some christians view Scripture.
    Jesus Christ himself taught from and quoted from the Scriptures.
    Nothing chaps me more than when liberal theologians want to claim they love Jesus and follow his teachings while discrediting the Bible.

    Any person, church or institution that claims to unite around Jesus will automatically submit to the teachings of Scripture and its final authority on all matters of faith and practice or they are NO FRIEND OF JESUS.
     
  6. Baptist Believer

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    Don’t judge a statement by who might have said it; judge it according to its scriptural merit.

    Well I’m not undermining the teaching and authority of scripture at all. I believe I’m stating the biblical position very accurately. Instead of simply parroting what popular (or unpopular) leaders say about the scripture, I’m trying to speak clearly and accurately about the scripture, according to its teaching.

    I didn’t say that. All followers of Christ understand that the scriptures are authoritative and reliable. I do not think that a person’s view of scripture is unimportant.

    Obviously…

    You’re venting in the wrong direction. [​IMG]

    No one is trying to discredit the Bible.

    You can’t call Jesus “Lord” unless you do what He says. The scripture reveals the life and teaching of Jesus (the Gospels), the early church working out its faith as it followed the teachings of Jesus (the rest of the New Testament), and the testimony from the beginning of God’s work with humankind to the time of Christ (the Old Testament). You can’t be led by the Spirit and reject God’s written revelation.

    Yet, if a person doesn’t have the written revelation of scripture (for whatever reason), they can still be led by God and live in harmony and cooperation with God, sharing His life for eternity (salvation). The obvious example is Abraham, whom Paul presents as the prototype of our faith in Galatians chapter 3 and Romans chapter 4. Abraham knew God without the aid of written scriptural revelation. Therefore, it is possible to live in harmony and cooperation with God without scripture. Fortunately, the scripture is now available to almost everyone in the Western World, so we should all possess it in our homes and especially in our hearts and lives. But this demonstrates that we should not fall into the trap of thinking that knowledge of the Bible and certain points of theology are helpful unless we enter into the Kingdom life of Christ. God is not impressed with our doctrinal positions, He is interested in communing with us, transforming our character, and working with us as well serve other people. The scripture is a vital tool for this work, but it is not the center of unity and Christian life. Rather, the study and application of scripture should permeate all of our Christian activities.
     
  7. shannonL

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    "The Scripture is a vital tool for this work,
    but it is not the center of unity and Christian
    life".

    It (the bible) is not a vital tool it is "the tool".
    If we are communing with Christ, if Christ is transforming our character, and working with us as we serve other people then whatever that is it will line up with the Bible every time or it is not of God.

    Abraham had the privilege of seeing Christ in person at times and also having Him speak to him in a audible voice. He speaks to us today through Scripture by illumination of the Holy Spirit and through prayer. Also at times through circumstances etc... Yet the Bible is always standard by which all these things are judged as of God or not of God.

    It is impossible for a person to be saved unless the Gospel is preached. Read Romans Ch.10 If God is leading a person to be in harmony and cooperation with Him He will always send someone to that person to preach,proclaim the Word.
    Look at Acts Ch. 8:26 to the end. The Ethiopian had the Scriptures explained to him by Phillip.

    I simply disagree with you on the idea that you can have a cooperative, haromonious relationship with God if you haven't heard the Gospel.
    That kind of sounds like universalism to me.
    So you think that a native out in the jungle can go to heaven because he followed the path of light even though he wasn't aware of whom it was he was following? If that is so I just don't think the bible teaches that.
    So the buddist who never got witnessed to by the Word of God will be in heaven because the only light he had was revealed in the Buddah?

    Maybe I'm just missing what your saying?

    Clarify your thoughts about the harmonious , cooperation with God opinion.
     
  8. Ron Arndt

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    I believe the difficulty of all this lies in Frankenstein's monster has already been created and he cannot be killed. Allow me to elaborate.

    Nowhere in the New Testament does it state that Christian schools or colleges should be built. The NT in reality instructs us to live in the world, but maintain a separateness from it. Responsibility for religious instruction lies with the parents of children and then to the children to instruct their children. This is the NT example. The state and church MUST be separate or else sooner or later religious institutions will be controlled by the state. But that is not the chief problem. Worldly influence will enter into a religious college as well. And we NOW know that has happened in just the last 75 years. Most seminaries are more liberal than Christian. All one needs to do is watch the History channel on TV and view a religious telecast to find that out.

    This is what happens when religion crawls in bed with the state. This is what happened to the historic early church. They accepted Constantine's invitation for a Roman-Christian church and walla we soon had the Roman Catholic church with all it's pagan influence.Before this invitation the church though persecuted, was pure and SEPARATE from the state and so remained undefiled.

    Today we are seeing the decline of historic Christianity into a "let's satisfy everyone" so to keep our college doors open.
     
  9. Baptist Believer

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    I appreciate your point.

    I think this may be a matter of semantics. I’m trying to make the point that, besides the scripture, there are other tools that help us in our journey with Christ: corporate and private worship, prayer, fasting, fellowship with other believers, communion with God (not talking about sacraments or Lord’s supper), sacrifice, study, meditation (on the things of God), rest, etc.

    While these things are demonstrated and taught in scripture, they must be implemented in our lives instead of merely assented to.

    If I understand you correctly, I agree. A life genuinely immersed in the Kingdom of God will line up with faithful and accurate biblical teaching.

    Not to quibble, but it is not clear that Abraham was specifically visited by the pre-incarnate Christ (although a number of people believe it to be true and I don’t have theological problems with it), but Abraham certainly had visible manifestations of God’s presence. This simply demonstrates that God brings revelation to those whom He wants to communicate with.

    This is not unheard of today…

    Yes He does. But God also deals with us directly, through our spirit and through other people. (Yes I’m aware that a bunch of people in both fundamental and liberal camps claim otherwise, but that’s a symptom of bad teaching, a lack of faith, and poor interpretation of scripture.)

    Yes, I agree.

    I agree. One way or another, the lost person must hear the call of Jesus. But it does not have to be through scripture. Abraham is still the example of this. (Remember, Paul wrote Galatians 3, Romans 4, AND Romans 10. They do not contradict each other.)

    That is usually how God works… (That “someone” does not always have to be human, and the “Word” does not always have to be the written scripture.)

    Yes. God used the written revelation of the Old Testament to work in the Ethiopian. But you can’t make that the standard when there is clear biblical precedent that demonstrates that God works in many ways.

    You’re confusing “heard the Gospel” with having written scripture.

    You can’t have a relationship with God if He has not communicated with you. But God does communicate, and His communication is not restricted to the written word.

    That’s a wild leap from what I am saying.

    Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) I affirm that completely.

    Did you notice that He DIDN’T say, ‘Scripture is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through the scripture’?

    I believe that God is not restricted by our lack of imagination or our doctrinal stance. God gives light to all, but most reject it.

    I imagine that some throughout history have been blessed by God with more revelation, and there have been some testimonies from missionaries that seem to indicate that might be true, but we are not given any solid information about that in scripture.

    If God decides to provide revelation to those outside the current sphere of Christian influence, then they have the opportunity to enter into the life of the Kingdom. We just can’t have confidence that God is doing that and thus become disobedient to His calling to take the gospel to all the world.

    We simply have to trust God’s character and know that He will do what is good.

    Not unless he receives additional revelation.
     
  10. shannonL

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    Thank you for the clarification. I believe we are on the same page for the most part.
    I see you agree with the need to fulfill the great commission. You also agree that Scripture is our authority. Fair enough.
    Thanks for the reply.
     
  11. Baptist Believer

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    Thank you for your kind reply.

    I wonder if Mark is taking a vacation...
     
  12. Mark Osgatharp

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    Though the church has "diversity of gifts and backgrounds" it does not have a diversity of doctrine. The closest thing to toleration of doctrinal diversity you will find in the Scriptures is that the "weak in faith" are to be received; but even then it is with the understanding that they are weak in faith and that they are not to make issues out of their doctrinal weaknesses.


    There can be no unity in Christ apart from the theology of The Book. Your lame attempt, in the tradition of Mr. McBeth, to slander those who see the Bible as the rule of faith with idolatry or being something akin to Islamists will not do. The New Testament everywhere holds up sound doctrine, as derived from the Scriptures, as the standard of unity in Christ.

    Therefore an institution of higher learning which tolerates acedemic freedom and diversity of theological opinion, cannot possilby fall under the purview of Christian ministry. It may function in a legitimate secular role, but it cannot be the work of Christ's churches.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  13. gb93433

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    It should not have a diversity of doctrine but it does. Read Rev. 2and 3.
     
  14. gb93433

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  15. Charles Meadows

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    I don't think that anyone here suggests that the Bible should not be the "supreme authority". But one should not use such a statement as a justification for not studying about the Bible.

    Many will assert that a pastor can read and study his Bible under the influence of the Holy Spirit and get all the education that he needs.

    The problem here is that this leads (usually) to a validation of what the person previously believed. Why has this position been advocated by individual baptists, charismatics, holiness, church of Christ etc with so many different doctrinal results?

    Few things make me as frustrated as the ignornat man who delights in his ignorance and looks down on those who strive not to be ignorant. This is even worse when applied to ministry and Christian education.

    A good conservative seminary is a positive experience and will equip pastors to deal with the challenges they will meet in ministry.
     
  16. Charles Meadows

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    I should like to address the subject of "academic freedom" as well.

    Everyone is different. No two peoplehave the same mental makeup. Recall that Paul alluded to the fact that we all have different gifts.

    Some people find blind faith very easy. Some men have significant intellectual gifts but consequently find simple faith less easy.

    In college I was an budding scientist, doing research in a biochem lab and teaching evolutionary biology to the freshmen. As fits my analytical nature I approached everything logically and with a skeptic's eye.

    When I became a Christian a number of years later it was a significant change of worlds. "Simple faith" might have been an easy thing for the wayward young coal miner or truck driver who might have been nostalgic for the old baptist church he attended as a child. But for this evolutionist empiricist it was at times difficult to say the least.

    Since that time I have read extensively on the "new perspective", the "new hermeneutic", "narrative theology", "open theism" and anything else about which I had questions.

    By allowing myself the academic freedom to read Hauerwas, Yoder, Pinnock, Barth etc I was able to address head on some of the questions my mind generated.

    It has not made me a liberal and in fact has strengthened my beliefs. I have not avoided difficult subjects for fear that they would "trip me up" or destro my faith.

    This sort of journey may not have been necessary for some of you guys - and if not then be thankful!

    Strong simple faith is a gift from God, and if you have it then praise Him for it. I have heard many a preacher say, "I'm just an old country boy - I'm not real smart - but I've got enough sense to know where I stand." He may wish he was "smart" - but that gift comes with a price. I have been given a lot of intellectaul abilities - a good gift - but the trade off is that simple faith does not come as easy.

    So...

    Academic freedom is not in itself a bad thing as long as it does not go beyond resonable borders.

    I can't help but think that many of those who are "against" academic freedom (and are typically "against" a lot of stuff too) are so because they fear it may "pull the rug out from under faith".

    But do we stand on Christ the solid rock or Christ the slippery rug?
     
  17. Mark Osgatharp

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    It should not have a diversity of doctrine but it does. Read Rev. 2and 3. </font>[/QUOTE]Ok, I should have said, the church should not have a diversity of doctrine. In the letters to the seven churches of Asia, Jesus rebuked the churches for tolerating diverse doctrine.

    What do you think He would say about His churches footing the bill for schools where "acedemic freedom" is one of the fundamental principles?

    You have made my case very well.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  18. Mark Osgatharp

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    I read all sorts of things with which are contrary to the Scriptures. But "acedemic freedom", in the context of college and university, does not simply mean the freedom to study, it means the freedom of the teachers to teach. It is this acedemic freedom which allows infidels and heretics to invade the religious educational institutions.

    If acedemic freedom is allowed, you have a Christian school tolerating non-Christian teaching. If acedemic freedom is not allowed, the school quits being a legitimate college or university and starts being a glorified Sunday School.

    The only solution I can see to the quandry is for churches to be churches and schools to be schools, and for churches to refuse any and all donations to the schools.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  19. Mark Osgatharp

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    So being smarter makes it harder to believe?

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  20. shannonL

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    Private academic institutions can teach whatever they want in my opinion. If it is a baptist,bible college or seminary the Bible is to be the determining factor on the boundaries of the academic freedom. Sadly alot of schools flat out undermine the very Bible they claim to uphold. The evidence being in the "academic freedom" the schools allow their profs. to exercise.
    I grew up in the SBC in NC. There are quite a few SBC supported liberal arts schools in that state. Through the years I can't tell you the people I have met that have attended some of those schools who have come out totally twisted in their theological thinking.
    I don't know if all of these schools are still affiliated with the SBC but schools like Cambell U., Mars Hill College, Gardner Webb, Carson Newman, Wake forest Divinity School, etc.. At one time all these schools were funded by the CP of the SBC or through state giving which ever I forget. At any rate any Bible believing baptist ought to be ashamed to even be associated with those places much less send money to them.

    I personally don't want one dollar I give to go to "the Lord's work" to be used to help pay some liberal minded professor run down the bible. But yet it happens all the time. That is why I do not minister in SBC circles. The CP may do alot of good things which it does. There is also alot of waste.
     

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