Sheri Klouda in her own words

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Jimmy C, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. Jimmy C

    Jimmy C
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    From the Ft Worth Star Telegram:

    'To teach or exercise authority over a man'

    'Tis a puzzlement

    By SHERI KLOUDA

    Special to the Star-Telegram

    I recently made a transition to a new academic community after leaving Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. People would expect me to be brittle and full of malice, but I am none of those things. Rather, I am puzzled.
    What is belief? Webster's defines belief as the "conviction that certain things are true." Belief assumes the existence of objective truth, truth that is unchangeable. I am not a philosopher, but the broader evangelical world, and Southern Baptists in particular, agree on the existence of objective truth.
    How could Southwestern's trustees and the seminary's then-president, as representatives of the Southern Baptist constituency, elect me to the seminary faculty if they didn't "believe" that my election was consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, a document that I signed proudly and publicly?
    Board President Van McClain notes that Southwestern returned to its "traditional, confessional, and biblical position" concerning women teaching theology to men, suggesting that the "biblical position" on the issue was either misunderstood or misinterpreted by the same faculty members and many of the same administrators and trustees who serve at Southwestern today.
    Are "objective truth" and a "biblical position" inconsistent with one another?
    I am not sure that the SBC consensus believes that 1 Timothy applies to an academic institution. The correspondence I've received suggests that there is no widespread agreement in Southern Baptist life on the view that the polity or paradigm of the local church should provide the model for her academic institutions.
    Many Southern Baptist colleges are moving toward diversity on their theology faculty, further suggesting that the "biblical position" regarding women teaching men in the academy does not reflect an "objective truth" about which Baptists agree.
    The same faculty members and administrators who diligently trained me -- and who held nothing back, treating me and male students equally in terms of career direction, development and competency -- were essentially the same folks who allowed me to serve as a teaching fellow at Southwestern for three years preceding my formal election.
    If there were doubts concerning my integrity, abilities or theological position, would they have been comfortable asking me to join them in a potentially permanent position?
    I am told that many people supported my election. I was busy teaching biblical Hebrew that night.
    When I was hired, my mentors advised me to "keep in mind the constituency that I serve."
    Who was my constituency? It seems that I had several: the students, the trustees and the Southern Baptist Convention.
    I fulfilled my commitments to all of them, and I never once made them regret their decision or lose confidence in me. I was grateful every day for the privilege of working in such a gracious environment, where people worked together to train men and women to serve God in ministry.
    So how would I expect that faith community to respond? That no one immediately rose to my defense did not surprise me, nor did I expect it.
    Families are important to Southern Baptists, and I would never ask someone to defend me if it meant jeopardizing that person's family's livelihood or welfare. But the needs of my family -- the medical needs, the pressures of changing positions, moving away, uprooting my daughter from high school -- apparently did not matter to those who made administrative decisions.
    How could they, in good conscience, lose sight of my family while caring so deeply for their own?
    What about fairness, equity and justice -- biblical principles that characterize the faithful?
    Is it not fair and right to allow a female professor, hired under the same terms as other faculty members, to undergo the same tenure evaluation process and receive objective affirmation or denial on the basis of her teaching abilities, professional development, scholarly achievements and publications, collegiality and service to the students?
    Or does another standard exist, applying only to those women who inadvertently find themselves serving teaching roles in biblical studies?
    And if the trustees, faculty and administration truly made a mistake in judgment hiring me, or "relaxed well defined parameters of objective truth" that reflect the majority position on women and the Baptist academy, why did they want me to leave unobtrusively, as if my departure were my own idea?
    Why didn't someone acknowledge the tremendous financial and emotional burden placed on my family through no fault of my own? Why not, as the Scriptures teach, make right the wrong? After seven years of dedicated service, shouldn't I at least receive an apology?
     
  2. gb93433

    gb93433
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    The trustees are playing follow the leader. The problem is that they are double minded. Those kind of men who do not know any more theology than what they know are immature and should not be there.
     
  3. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
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    An excellent response. I think the biting questions at the end are ones that need to be asked in the convention hall this year.

    This whole business stinks of ego and limited exegesis on the school's part.
     
  4. dan e.

    dan e.
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    Seems like a rough situation for her and her family. I'd say she's making some points and asking some questions that the SBC will have a hard time responding to...if they even respond. My impression (coming from an SBC church and graduating from an SBC school) is that there may be some who wouldn't qualify as a teacher....not because of their gender, but because of character/teaching abilities. Yet so quickly to pull the trigger on the gender issue. Seems silly that they even hired her in the first place.
     
  5. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
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    I agree with you dan. From my knowledge of the situation Dr. Klouda's husband has cancer so they were using the medical coverage provided by SWBTS to some of its employees for the treatments. When SWBTS "let her go" they didn't extend the coverage so the Klouda family had to take on expensive cobra payments until they found a new place. Also as she mentioned her daughter had to leave her high school and it disrupted their lives needlessly.

    Dr. Klouda is the kind of person that would have been happy to teach only women if they had permitted her to stay, even on part time so long as the medical coverage continued and they could see her daughter out of high school. She was willing to submit to their leadership at the institution.

    Yet these people who are so concerned with "family" issues couldn't see that Christian hospitality is part and parcel to the Gospel and that it is incumbent upon them to at least extend the benefits until she found a new position. They did more disservice to her and the our witness in the world by cutting her loose and just letting her be without any further assistance. Secular, godless companies don't even do that. If asked I know a great many students who would have helped financially to assist them with their needs in this time, but the administration has too preoccupied with "doctrinal purity" to reach a hand of assistance to this family.

    Compassion is a two way street. Perhaps the illustration of the Good Samaritan applies too well here.
     
  6. Martin

    Martin
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    I think the administration and board at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is in sin and they need to repent. Worse they have twisted Scripture in a vain attempt to justify their sin. Thumbs down to Southwestern and shame on them.
     
  7. gb93433

    gb93433
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    They could not do that because they need a position for the other Dr. Patterson.

    It was politics plain and simple. She did not fit their personal agenda. If Paige Patterson had a problem with female teachers then why did he come? At SWBTS there are several other women professors teaching men studying to be pastors. They are teaching in both the music and religious education schools.

    Someone ought to ask about what happened to the counseling program at SWBTS.
     

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