A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Jacob Lupfer and his ideas about OBU. I have to admit, when I first heard of the guy and his blog, I couldn’t take him seriously at first. After reading many of his posts and his ideas about academic freedom in liberal arts Christian colleges, I gained a lot more respect for him, and I have decided that there are many things that I do and do not like about his posts. Overall, I really do think Lupfer has many great ideas. First of all, I would like to say that despite the fact that I may disagree with him on many of his religious views, I do feel as if this doesn’t really have much to do with finding common ground on the way liberal arts education is supposed to be run.
How should OBU’s education system be run? I’ll focus primarily on the religion staff at OBU, primarily with the philosophy department (since I think that it has a lot to do with academic freedom). First off, we seem to have professors that withhold many different views regarding issues such as Calvinism/Arminianism, the age of the earth, the human soul, Biblical ethics, etc. This is a GOOD thing! The wide stretch of views in this department allows for academic freedom for all ministry students, which is of upmost importance when it comes to training students in reaching people for Christ. Lupfer doesn’t seem to like it when more conservative professors are hired. I disagree with him on this. However, I completely see where his concern lies and I can concur with it. If OBU gets on a track to get rid of the more “not so traditional” professors, academic freedom is out the window, fast.
Now, Lupfer seems to also show dislike to the changing philosophy program, claiming that it is starting to turn into strictly apologetics. I’m not sure if I agree with this claim, but, once again, I definitely agree with his concern. Here’s why:
Something that I have really learned in my short time at OBU is that Christian apologetics programs do not work in the most efficient way that they could. I came into OBU as a philosophy major (now a minor) with a plan to put my emphasis on apologetics. I slowly lost interest. Not because of the way apologetics was being taught, but because that’s just one piece of the puzzle. You can teach an apologetics course, but it will be biased (which is fine). I have changed a lot in many of my views regarding biblical interpretation and how to properly defend my faith, and I have to say that none of them had to do with philosophy classes that I’ve been taking. Last year, my senior year of high school, I took an apologetics class. It was unavoidably one-sided. My views did not change one bit. I learned more about what I believe (which is good) but nothing really challenged me. Being at OBU, among a wide variety of views in both professors and students, is what has really challenged me. If you want to effectively teach students to build their own ideas, get them out of their comfort zone by providing them with different mentors, professors, and other people to help challenge their beliefs into the ground. Give them every reason not to believe, yet still believe yourself. Provide them with Calvinists, Arminians, Young Earth Creationists, Theistic Evolutionists, liberals, conservatives, etc. Is this hard to do? Yes. Can it be done? I think it can.
Now, I would also like to briefly hit on the point of what should be taught outside of the religion department. I feel like the humanities department is currently doing a pretty good job when it comes to teaching moral and cultural issues. Of the ones I’ve taken/know, I really don’t know anything about their personal views. However, I can say that they do a good job teaching what they do. You don’t have to agree with everything you learn about in anthropology or sociology, but you do need to be exposed to it and know that it is out there. This goes right back to spreading the gospel in an effective manner. If you cannot embrace different cultures and customs for what they are, you are going to drastically fail at fulfilling the Great Commission. I’m not making any claims about anybody in particular, but I do know individuals who are very stingy when it comes to learning about certain fields in the humanities and sciences. To have that attitude is just wrong.
What about the hard sciences? I have never seen a scientific model for intelligent design or creationism, ever. Should we be teaching creationism to students, even at a Baptist school?? Not in the science class. I’m not sure why this is an issue, because we’ve been through it many times in history. THE BIBLE IS NOT A SCIENCE BOOK. It is a book about theology and eternal salvation. It saddens me that there are professors who seem to be afraid to teach this truth. If we cannot have an education system to teach students the TRUTH about the natural world through the lens of Christianity, we have a serious problem.
I need to stress the point that I am not making any claims about what the OBU board of trustees are trying to do. I simply don’t know. All I’m doing is stating how I think OBU’s education system, especially in the Hobbes College, should be run. Just because we are a Southern Baptist University does not mean that we should ONLY teach what the Southern Baptist doctrine holds to.
I highly recommend that you check out Jacob Lupfer’s blog for some more great reading on academic freedom, especially as it relates to OBU.