Conservative Scholarship in the SBC

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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  2. rorschach

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    I'm not quite sure what conservative means anymore. And I'm not sure that referencing Princeton degrees says much about "scholarship", either.

    Glen Stassen -- one of my professors at Fuller -- was at SBTS for two decades. At Fuller, he makes the Gospels out to be little more than social justice commentary. This is a rather liberal idea (make Jesus out to be an ethicist, deny that Christianity centers around explicit faith in Christ). His "scholarship" does not have much to do with how well he reads Scripture, as demonstrated by his attempt to show that Jesus was OK with homosexuality by proof-texting Jesus' comments in Matthew 19, refusing to read the surrounding context of the marriage discussion which specifies that the "eunuchs" Jesus was speaking about are "eunuchs" in the sense of chastity, not effeminate (homosexual) men.

    Similarly, I took a class on eschatology from a Princeton PhD who was ignorant of the most simple and fundamental conversations going on in that area.

    Conservative scholarship exists, and I don't think that has ever been questioned by anyone truly paying attention. It's just that conservative voices are rare when places like Princeton and Claremont speak on controversial matters. At least, that's part of what might mislead some people about the number of conservative scholars out there. I am also consistently surprised with the quality of conservative scholarship when compared to liberal scholarship. Books criticizing the Old Princetonian theology get much loud applause, but the quieter responses from the conservatives correcting the liberals' twisting of history deliver swift and fatal blows to the most lauded liberal works.

    I do think that conservative schools, such as Liberty, SBTS, and TMS, need to loosen up on tradition and help their students to think. Less emphasis on conformity to dress codes and dispensationalist theology, more emphasis on good solid thinking and a re-examination of how Christians are defined might go a long way in producing a more mature new generation of teachers.
     
  3. Rhetorician

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    Rhetorician Response

    Dear Brother,

    There is just so much here, let me bite off one small chunk or two.

    To lump schools like Liberty, SBTS, SEBTS, and TMS together is just wrong. IMHO!

    If you think that the level of rigor at Liberty comes up to the level at TMS & SBTS then you have not seriously considered the three programs.

    And if you are elevating dispensationalism to the upper tier of the Gospel rather than relegating them to a secondary or tertiary issue then I do not know what I can tell you.

    IMHO, the only place doing really deep conservative scholarship in dispensationalism would be DTS. But then again I don't consider this to be of primary importance.

    Please find and read Al Mohler's "Triage" article.

    Finally, one reason for stringency in beliefs is primarily so that seminaries like SBTS will not loose their "Princeton" of the 19th Century, AGAIN.

    "That is all!" for what it is worth!! :laugh:
     
  4. Havensdad

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    Curious why you would say this. The classes that I have compared between Liberty, SBTS, and two of the other big six, including classes on baptist history, theology, etc., have pretty much exactly the same reqquirements, readings, and demands. One of my adjunct professors at Liberty was actually a resident professor at TMS, and ensured me that the classes were comparable. Most of the professors at Liberty are top level graduates from schools like DTS, TMS, Southwestern, etc.

    Don't get me wrong; I GREATLY prefer SBTS to Liberty (even though I graduated from Liberty), but it is not because of rigor. It is because of SBTS doctrinal positions, and my preference for their faculty. But I prefer SBTS over Harvard's Divinity school, too...but again, not due to rigor.
     
  5. glfredrick

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    The fact that your prof WAS at SBTS should clue you in to something... He, in all likelihood is no longer qualified to be there now.

    SBTS led the liberal charge during the 50s through the 80s, ever widening the gap between conservative biblical scholarship and liberal aberration, but that has all changed.

    Next, I'm not exactly sure what sort of "traditions" you think that SBTS and other schools like it are teaching, but as one who has sat in classes at that institution since the change in direction, it is likely that I have more first hand knowledge of SBTS than you do, and I fail to find any "traditions" taught, save that in the course of study certain areas are bound to come up and be examined in the classroom.

    Third, when "Princeton" is invoked, it is generally the "old Princeton" of Hodge, not the new, quasi-atheist Princeton who hosts the like of Peter Singer and others. The early founding staff of SBTS had their roots in Hodge's Princeton and were most excellent learned men of God, who literally gave their lives in the effort to cause theological education to get beyond the hallowed halls of academia and into the world of God's church where men who were called to be pastors could have the benefit of a theological education, even of not "persons of means" often required for entrance to the big name schools of that day.

    And, finally what does "conservative" mean these days? Well that depends a lot on how one's worldview works, doesn't it. We can "parse" the word "conservative" and come up with all sorts of usages for the term, many of which are anything but the plain and normal way the term is used in common conversation around the pot luck at church. Or, we could just use the term in the common sense, where it typically means one who is sola scriptura, holding the "fundamentals" of the faith (but not always "fundamentalistic") and who is often a social conservative, political conservative, and pro-life/pro-family in the traditional sense.

    That sort of "conservative" is found everywhere in the halls of SBTS, though each faculty member is free to exercise their rights to instruct as they see fit, with a wide range of theological room allowed each. The "standard" for profs at SBTS is the Abstract of Principles, drafted by the Founders of SBTS, and to which each prof is to teach in accordance with and not in opposition to.

    You can read them here:

    http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/history/sbts-aop.stm.txt

    I doubt that any of the profs you cite could meet the bare requirements of the document that they probably either did not sign, or if they did, they did so while crossing their fingers behind their back, as seems to have been the practice during the more liberal days at the seminary.
     
  6. Rhetorician

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    Rhetorician Response

    Hello HD,

    I knew I would raise some eyebrows with that one. I cannot discuss this in a public forum but would love to talk with you via PM or phone.

    I have, what I believe to be sound reasons, to make such assertions. But then again, I am not infallible. But I am an expert in my own opinion. :laugh:

    "That is all!"
     
  7. glfredrick

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    FWIW, I agree with you. There is a difference. Some of it is style, more is theological direction.
     
  8. Siberian

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    I find it curious that you are willing to publically make statements that you know will "raise eyebrows" but are unwilling to support the same publically. Why is that?
     
  9. Earth Wind and Fire

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    It's Titillating
     
  10. Rhetorician

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    Rhetorician Response

    Probably a mistake where I misspoke and from which I need to repent.

    "That is all!" :praying:
     
  11. preachinjesus

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    Isn't it interesting that for all evangelicals have aspired to they still determine the success of their movement (in one way) by how many PhDs from reputable institutions their member institutions can have.

    I mean this has been a big part of the evangelical ethos over the past century. We want to be separate and distinct but still pride ourselves when we find an educator with a PhD from Princeton Theological (different than Princeton University), Oxford, Yale, etc. As if their educational achievement proves our point. Yet how many teachers from those said schools have PhDs from evangelical institutions?

    Now I'm not bashing evangelical education but it is an interesting quagmire.

    Bart Barber is a good guy and I have always appreciated his perspective. Yet it is weird to try to prove how "quality" your evangelical institution is by pointing to the guys who got their PhDs from the other schools as an example of your academic prowess.

    There is a little bit of degree envy still going on. Again, I'm not bashing anyone here I appreciate my peers who got PhDs from better institutions that evangelical ones and went back to work at those evangelical schools. Yet there is something odd about the constant push for that recognition. It's interesting when you read histories about the fundamentalist/modernist controversies from the early part of last century and still see this mood about the fundamentalists.

    Just an observation. :)
     
  12. Rhetorician

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    Rhetorician to Rhetorician's Rescue

    Hello to all!

    Just ran across this blog. Please read it and you will understand a bit more of what I said. Keep in mind it is another's opinion.

    And I am not talking about the missions money issue.

    http://sbcvoices.com/go-to-seminary-for-free-while-giving-to-missions-impossible-you-say-think-again/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SbcVoices+%28SBC+Voices%29

    Hit me with other critiques. :wavey:

    "That is all!"
     
  13. Havensdad

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    You made the statement publicly. Back it up, or retract it. Don't run off to PM. Liberty's Post-Grad programs have language requirements that SBTS has removed. Better student to teacher ratios. Similar (in many cases, nearly identical) class requirements. Similar average graduating GPA's.

    As I said, I like the CONTENT of SBTS much better, but I don't think you can make a case for the rigor (amount and difficulty of work), being that much different. I haven't taken classes at SBTS, but I have taken them from NOBTS, and even though the classes at NOBTS were over more difficult subject matter (Intermediate Hebrew Studies, for instance), the rigor was similar. My GPA at NOBTS is a 4.0, just like my GPA from Liberty. Very little difference.
     
  14. Havensdad

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    Hardly a fair comparison. He took his lower level classes at Liberty (please look at the degree completion plan for a MAR, which does not include the upper level 600+ courses), then concluded that Southern was more academically rigorous? So I guess if someone does their M.Div. at Southern, and a ThM at Liberty, that it would be fair if they concluded that Liberty is more rigorous?

    You must compare apples to apples...
     
  15. Rhetorician

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    HD Response

    Hello HD dear brother:

    Here is an "apples to apples" (my) comparison for you.

    I have an MAR from Harding Grad School of Religion, then transferred the hours into an MDiv at SBTS (after Al Mohler became president). And I can tell you that they were both terribly rigorous. In fact my languages at Harding were very difficult indeed. I took my Hebrew under Dr. Jack Lewis who was on the OT Translation Committee for the NIV version, the old one.

    Just for the record.

    Should Master's level work in religion not be equally rigorous from school to school and program to program? even from seminary to university grad schools of religion?

    Just asking?

    "That is all!"
     
  16. Havensdad

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    That's just it. I believe Liberty IS just as rigorous, though I do not like their doctrinal stands on some things. The lower level classes at Liberty are just as rigorous as the lower level classes at NOBTS that I have taken, if not moreso (actually in terms of workload, the Liberty classes were much heavier than the NOBTS classes).

    However, it is NOT accurate to compare an entry level Church history class at Liberty, to a historical theology class dealing with the lifelong development of Augustine's Soteriological views at Southern. Liberty also has these higher level courses, and the equivalent classes must be compared to ascertain the rigor or lack thereof of the programs...
     
  17. glfredrick

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    I think that Havensdad is on to something, as are the rest of us on this issue.

    I've known a good number of students that came through Liberty's program at the undergrad level, and they seem to be cookie-cutter in their style, take on doctrines, etc., and that not always in a positive way, more like fundamentalistic than evangelical -- at least that was my impression about 10 years ago. Only know one recent student, and his take was similar.

    Sort of "me and Jesus and the Bible" instead of a true academically challenging bit of higher education that prepares one to understand just what "me and Jesus and the Bible" really means.

    Also a TON of proof-texting during sermons from virtually all the Liberty grads I've worked with. They believe that they are "preaching the Bible" because of the great preponderance of Bible verses included in their efforts, but they are not really preaching the Bible because there is little true exegesis going on.

    Again, this is not a slam against Liberty, just my impressions of Liberty grads that I know (above 20).
     
  18. gb93433

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    Jesus called us to a radical way of life in Christ. He called us to follow Him. That may be very different than just having conservative theology. Some conservatives misinterpret scripture badly while others in the same camp are much better.
     

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