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Christian Education stymied by name calling

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges & Seminaries' started by Jimmy C, Apr 24, 2005.

  1. Jimmy C

    Jimmy C New Member

    May 13, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Great article by Robert Sloan - soon to be ex pres of Baylor (home of the NCAA Womens BBall Champions!) from APB


    For what its worth, I think Sloan is correct - but probably 5 years premature in todays highly charged fundy/moderate battle. Sloan does take shots at both sides in his speech.

    Things in my opinion will change in a few years as the old guard retires and or moves on.

    Sloan says Christian education stymied by name-calling, 'fear-mongering'

    Date: 04/21/2005
    Source: 05-36

    By Ken Camp
    WACO, Texas (ABP) -- The future of Baptist colleges and universities depends on educators' willingness to "move on" beyond the political categories that have dominated denominational life for more than 20 years, Baylor University President Robert Sloan told a national conference.

    Before Baptist schools can make any progress, some "thick and often ugly underbrush" must be cleared away, Sloan told participants at a conference on the future of Baptist higher education, sponsored by Baylor's Truett Theological Seminary.

    "I would like to declare in terms as strong as I can possibly muster: It is time to move on," said Sloan, who steps down as president to become Baylor's chancellor June 1. Sloan resigned the presidency after two years of conflict that focused in part on his attempt to make Baylor's Christian identity more overt. Critics said his efforts to integrate Christian ideas into all areas of university life infringed on academic freedom.

    Some other speakers at the conference -- from schools in states still torn by political and theological conflict -- insisted Sloan's admonition is premature. "The call to put the struggle behind us and move on sounds different in some ears than in others," said Dwight Moody, dean of the chapel at Georgetown College in Kentucky.

    In his opening remarks to the conference, Sloan chose to forego the typical welcome by the president of a host school. Instead, he urged Baptist educators to quit "endlessly rehashing old battles" and to "lay aside the multiple agendas that have divided Baptists" in recent years.

    "The denominational battle left a mark on Baptist educational institutions," he acknowledged. "Here at Baylor, which remained throughout those wars primarily a politically moderate Baptist institution, I often have felt that many are still fighting old wars rather than getting on with the business of our present and future."

    Baptists cannot afford to forget lessons learned from denominational battles, and those conflicts deserve scholarly examination, he noted. "But we must get beyond the categories and assumptions which dominated and even limited the discussions among Baptists over the last several decades," he said.

    Secular assimilation is a greater danger than fundamentalist takeover of Baptist universities, Sloan asserted. "To continue to breathe in hushed tones about fundamentalist conspiracies to take over our schools today is terribly wrong-headed," he said.

    "To quake in wild-eyed fear -- or holler, 'Creedalism!' -- because Baptist educators, whether administrators or faculty, want to ask prospective faculty about their faith is fear-mongering."

    To label as "fundamentalists" people who simply affirm basic, historic Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, the Incarnation and the authority of Scripture is "theological demagoguery of the highest order," he insisted.

    "To act like the priesthood of the believer is a license to believe anything or nothing and still be a Baptist is a folly too stupefying for words," he said.

    At the same time, Sloan criticized inerrantists, saying: "As for the doctrine of Scripture, one-word shibboleths cannot possibly capture such a complex doctrine. To refuse out of dogmatic fear to face the theological facts on such issues as the history of the composition of the Bible and its canonical processes is intellectually dishonest and will ultimately serve only to nullify our ability and our responsibility to proclaim the Word of God to our generation."

    Efforts in some Baptist educational circles to perpetuate social and religious traditions that limit the roles of women in the life of the church are "narrow, authoritarian and biblically unwarranted," he added.

    Baptist schools also cannot afford to surrender to forces that would limit legitimate discussion of science and bio-ethical issues, he said.

    "To refuse to face the philosophical and theological implications of the issues which the frontiers of science and technology lay at our feet is to make ourselves irrelevant and willfully ignorant," Sloan said.

    "To refuse to discuss, much less investigate, the social and/or genetic and/or spiritual factors which are inextricably linked to the public issues of abortion, cloning, dying, stem-cell research and homosexual behavior is both inexcusable and tantamount to abandoning our prophetic role in the world."

    But other speakers at the conference noted not all Baptist schools are in the same position as Baylor University.

    Bill Leonard, dean of the divinity school at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., pointed out the different ways Baptist colleges and universities have redefined and renegotiated their relationships with their parent state conventions.

    Some, such as Baylor University, revised their charters to select their own trustees but retained financial and connectional ties to their Baptist constituencies. Others, such as Wake Forest, cut all formal ties to the state conventions with which they were related.

    Still others, like Mercer University, continue to negotiate their relationships with divided state constituencies. And in places like Louisiana College, controversies regarding institutional control and confessional conformity have created campus unrest.

    "For many schools that continue to be owned, operated and funded by state conventions, conflict and tension may descend at any moment," Leonard said.
  2. RandR

    RandR New Member

    Jun 12, 2003
    Likes Received:
    I appreciate Sloan's remarks.

    I have little use for Leonard.