However, it does seem there is now one issue that has been moved off the doctrinal conformity list at SWBTS. Both Bart Barber and Peter Lumpkins write on their blog that Dr. Paige Patterson has written a preface to an article defending his one of his professor's belief in an ancient earth. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Research Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Cultural Engagement, Dr. William Dembski, has written a book entitled The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World. Bart believes Dr. Patterson's defense of his professor's right to publish a book arguing for an ancient earth construct, while Dr. Patterson himself believes in a young earth. Dr. Barber, a trustee and employee of SWBTS, writes:
You may have read on occasion the allegation—the deliberately dishonest allegation—that Dr. Patterson or other much-maligned Southern Baptists require that people agree with them on every point of theology or else they will not cooperate with them. Here we have a perfect test case to see whether this is or is not true. Dr. Patterson bluntly states that he "[does] not agree" with Dembski, and even that Dembski has authored a book "highly [critical]" of Dr. Patterson's own system of belief. Understand me plainly: A professor at SWBTS, working for Dr. Patterson, has authored and published a book that Dr. Patterson (rightly) perceives as highly critical of Dr. Patterson's own theological viewpoint.Peter Lumpkins chimes in with this colorful comment over Dr. Patterson's paper:
Bloggers like Wade Burleson have for the last several years milked the absolute conformity cow dry, insisting anybody who does not agree with Paige Patterson in even the smallest detail is marked. However, Dr. Dembski is an old-earth creationist and Dr. Patterson is a young-earth creationist ... Yet, in spite of the diversity, we see some very explicit unity portrayed here.I agree with both Bart and Peter about Dr. Patterson on this issue. I also commend him. I, too, believe in a young earth--but I am thrilled to see the freedom for SWBTS professors to publish books representing different views than the President of SWBTS. This is a step in the right direction away from ideological and doctrinal conformity demands. It's good for SWBTS and the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole.
Now, if SWBTS would give Dr. Klouda and Dr. Bullock their jobs back ... maybe the teat of the doctrinal conformity cow won't need to be milked much more at all. Whether or not this happens, at least SWBTS and Dr. Patterson have taken a step in the right direction, and I don't mind saying so.
In His Grace,