A heretic visits the ol’ alma mater

Run out of Southern Seminary during the so-called Conservative Resurgence, a former seminary teacher visits her old stomping grounds.

Over the past year I have been working on a podcast series produced by the Baptist Center for Ethics that will narrate portions of my life as a minister, scholar, theologian, seminary president and troubler of Israel – at least the Israel that Southern Seminary became as it lurched to the right over the issue of biblical inerrancy.

I taught at Southern from January 1984 until December 1994, and then I helped several Ph.D. students finish their work after I moved to Kansas and Central Baptist Theological Seminary in August 1995. Part of the deal I struck upon departing was that I might continue their supervision. After all, if one is not in teaching for the sake of the students, one does not belong. Nevertheless, I was soon barred from using the library even though I was doing work for the school.

[ … ]

Entry to the library now required a driver’s license, and I had left mine in the car. I handed my business card to the young man protecting entrance and remarked that I used to teach here. He allowed me to enter, but soon the archivist was hot on our tail, helpful but perhaps a bit suspicious.

Read the entire thing; it’s worth your time.

I was struck by the fact that you can’t get into the library at Southern without a drivers license, and that the author’s borrowing privileges were revoked. I suppose it was just a petty harassment of somebody on the wrong side of the so-called Resurgence, but it’s a striking indicator of the smallness of the Patterson/Pressler crowd (the Resurgence’s leaders). There is a mean-spiritedness, a smallness, an abiding malice, in the Evangelical Right.

During our recent trips to the Upper Peninsula, Dawn and I walked around the Michigan Tech campus (yes, one of those creaky old-timers dragging his bored wife around). On two occasions we entered the library and some of the other public spaces. Nobody barred our way, or showed the slightest interest in us. Granted, it’s a public university and not a private school, but why should the purveyors of Eternal Truth want to keep people out rather than to make their resources available to all? There ought to be some sort of exhibit that welcomes the stranger, No? For tax purposes, by the way, Southern Seminary is organized as a church.

I have, I think, every book published about the turmoil in the Southern Baptist Convention during those years; it comprises about 1.5-dozen books. It was a mean and ugly time, and it still shapes the Southern Baptists.

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