I have debated whether to enter this fray in this particular forum. I believe my conscience demands it. I would urge students NOT to sign the petition to the Board of Trustees regarding the clarification of the creation part of the doctrinal statement. I will make my reasons brief.
(1) This theological concept that Adam and Eve were historical persons (The Book of Genesis is a historical book.) and that they did not “evolve” from “lower” species is NOT “ancillary”. It is crucial to the Christian Faith and indeed to the Gospel and to the integrity of God’s Word and Jesus’ words. The Scriptures are clear on this. (I myself am a 6 24-hour days person. Neither this clarification nor the original statement is that “narrow”–I may be accused of being narrow and anti-science–allowing for the “gap theory” and the “day-age” theory as it does.)
(2) If an Evangelical Christian college wants to remain such, it must of necessity limit “academic freedom” to some extent. This is more or less done through doctrinal statements that must be subscribed to. If the attitude was “believe whatever you wish–anything”, then there would be no way to guard the institution against error or even heresy. Academic freedom is not sacrosanct. It too must submit to God in a Christian college. This does not mean we do not or cannot discuss various views; but within the parameters of doctrinal truth. (E.g., I talk about Marxism; but I don’t believe in it.)
(3) Unity in the church or in a Christian institution is important. But it is not the ultimate value. Truth must trump unity. If unity is the ultimate goal, then in order to get unity we could (in the Church) simply say that it does not matter that Christ is Savior and Lord; believe in whatever god you wish and you will be saved. Christianity does not hold to unity at ALL costs. It calls for adherence to Scriptural truth and then “invites” unity “in the Faith” (the truths of Christianity).
(4) I would assume that there was a “multitude of counselors” in the making and approval of this clarification. These counselors were the members of the Board of Trustees. Why should we assume that the faculty must be involved in something which clearly is a Board responsibility ?
(5) The fact that Bryan represents a wide variety of DENOMINATIONS does not mean it must represent any and all views on crucial theological doctrines. There is nothing wrong with denominational pluralism. But THEOLOGICAL pluralism can go too far–possibly so far as to eradicate the Evangelical character of an institution. (See words cited–”normal divergence” of views within Evangelicalism, not all divergence.)
(6) I will defer to others regarding the question of whether this is a doctrinal statement “change”. Clearly any Board has the power at the very least to interpret. Words are not always clearly self-interpreting to the finite fallen human mind.
I do not WANT to see anyone leave Bryan College. But recognize that there is a larger battle raging for the “heart and soul” of Evangelical higher education. It is being pushed by the culture, by governmental and judicial bodies, by many forces, to compromise the Faith. Creation is but one manifestation. Homosexuality is another. If we don’t stand firm we will lose our distinctives, and frankly have no reason to exist.
Therefore I urge you to reconsider this petition. I repeat that I urge students to NOT sign it.
Sincerely in Christ,
Kevin L. Clauson