Friday, April 9, 2010

Thoughts on academic freedom, the Christian university, and the Waltke case

My recent posts on the Bruce Waltke case at Reformed Theological Seminary (see here and here) may give one the impression that I hold to a view of academic freedom that treats theology as secondary to other considerations. There are three reasons why this impression is false: (1) None of my posts affirmed or implied such a thing.  (2) I believe that if the RTS board had good reason to believe that Professor Waltke taught in a way, or promoted beliefs, inconsistent with the institution's confession and creed, then it may have exercised its power in an
appropriate way (I say may because issues of prudence could be brought to bear on this case that may lead one to believe that the RTS board was justified in its act but imprudent in acting; but since I am not privy to the board's inner workings and the multitude of issues with which it had to deal, I withhold judgment). (3) As I argue in my recent article in the journal of Logos--"Faith, Reason and the Christian University"--Christian institutions advance a different body of knowledge than do secular institutions. So, for example, a Christian institution may, consistent with the canons of academic freedom, require its entire faculty to embrace the Apostles' Creed just as it may require its chemistry faculty to embrace the periodic table, since in both cases the Christian institution believes that these are settled matters of knowledge.

My point was simply to bring the Waltke case to the attention of my readership, for it  is one of the more interesting resignation stories in the Christian academic world in many years. (Well, at least since 2007).

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