Academy

Academic freedom at Ball State University: the case of Eric Hedin...

Ball State University is a state school in Muncie, a small town just north of Indianapolis. According to Indiana Public Media, Ball State administrators recently cancelled an honors physics and astronomy course taught by tenure-track prof Eric Hedin because Hedin's course syllabus included the concept of "Intelligent Design."

Ball State president Jo Ann Gora justified the cancellation to her faculty and staff:

Teaching intelligent design as a scientific theory is not a matter of academic freedom – it is an issue of academic integrity.

Right.

Ms. Gora should be rebuked by her peers at the next...


Scholars and the Fall...

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.  - 1Corinthians 2:12-16

Regularly, I warn academics that reason is not the one faculty of man that has escaped the Fall. To err is human, and institutions of learning both lower and higher are equally subject to this fruit of Adam's sin.

Reason and logic have been corrupted by the Fall. So, although we can say that all truth is God's truth, we must keep in mind that all man believes to be true is not. True.

The Fall's determinative impact on man's intellectual work is quite obvious to readers of Paul Johnson's Intellectuals. Again and again, Johnson demonstrates the connection between famous intellectuals' private sins...


Leadership is male: Women as trustees over Christian colleges...

With the collapse of Evangelical theology and the consequent unfaithfulness of Evangelical churches and institutions, many churches and fellowships of churches are starting their own colleges and seminaries. Readers of this blog will be familiar with New St. Andrews College, Bethlehem College and Seminary,  Clearnote Pastors College (site down just now for redesign), Reformed Evangelical Pastors College, and Athanasius College. There are many, many more. 

One question these new institutions must address as they set up their governance structures is the same question older colleges and seminaries have had to wrestle with: Should we have women serving on our school's top governing board?

As I have corresponded with a number of leaders of these colleges...


Nye vs. Ham: Witnessing to scientists...

After watching the recent Creation/Evolution debate between Bill Nye, an atheistic scientist, and Ken Ham, a young-earth creationist, I was challenged to think about how I, as a scientist, should witness to my colleagues. As a six-day creationist working at a secular University, what is my "strategy?"

First, I want to thank God for the work of Ken Ham and others. While I don’t agree with much of his approach, I was reminded recently that the “wrong” evangelism that he does is better than the “right” evangelism that I don’t do.

With that said, though, there are some dangers in trying to learn lessons for our own witnessing from what Dr. Ham and Answers in Genesis do.  It is easy to come away from a debate like that and think, “I wish I knew a lot more science! Then I could really witness to a scientist. Oh well, I better leave it to the experts.” But the truth is that none of that science is needed in witnessing. In fact, it is a hindrance. God has given us all we need in His Word.

Here are a few Biblical points to keep in mind if you want to witness to a scientist...


Bishop N. T. Scrooge...

Jesus' birth usually gets far more attention than its role in the New Testament warrants. ...One can be justified by faith with no knowledge of it.

The birth narratives have no impact on my reconstruction of Jesus' public agendas and his mindset as he went to the cross. There might just be a case for saying that if his birth was as Matthew and Luke describe it, and if Mary had told him about it, my argument about Jesus' vocation to do and be what in scripture YHWH does and is might look slightly different. But as a historian I cannot use the birth stories within an argument about the rest of the gospel narratives.

- N. T. Wright, "God's Way of Acting" (emphases in the original)

Of the reading and quoting of famous spokesmen of religion there is no end. Take N. T. Wright, one of the more popular of this genre. Men burnish to such a beautiful sheen after rubbing up against him!

Actually, some of my best friends fawn over him but I have had real difficulty giving it up for a man whose only commendable trait seems to be...

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Finish training your sons and daughters here in Bloomington...

Here's an interesting article on manhood today. (Or should I say boyhood?) It's the Wall Street Journal so maybe their paywall will keep you out? Teaser:

Except perhaps in very conservative communities, men with sufficient social skills can find sex and companionship without need of a matrimonial commitment (and for those who lack social skills, a willingness to marry is unlikely to provide much compensation). The culture's unrelenting message—repeated in Hymowitz's article—is that women are doing fine on their own. If a woman doesn't need a man, there's little reason for him to devote his life to her service.

George Gilder said it all back in the seventies in a book titled Sexual Suicide (since updated and retitled Men and Marriage). But you know, George Gilder is gauche. Admitting you've read him is sort of like admitting to being a collector of Dennis Rodman memorabilia or a fan of Charles Murray. Anyhow, did you get that "except perhaps in very conservative communities?"

Sadly, I'm not sure Protestant Reformed churches qualify any longer.

In our experience here in a university community where we watch college students individuate from their PCA and Reformed Baptist (including SBC) parents, the prevailing message of Reformed parents to their college and grad student children is that a good education trumps sexual purity and holiness. Of course, they don't put it so honestly. Instead, they tell their daughter that she must...


Thinking the Twentieth Century (No. 1)...

Thinking the Twentieth Century by Tony Judt with Timothy Snyder is a conversation about the twentieth century between two historian-friends. The book is mostly Judt speaking, but Snyder speaks also. So we have the thoughts of two men who spent their lives inside the cloistered environment of the Academy, yet without quite succumbing. Happily, there's some derring-do that pops up now and then as they talk. 

Synder is the Yale historian who wrote Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. A couple months ago I read this book and it's indispensable to understand what has misleadingly come to be referred to as "The" Holocaust, meaning Germans killing Jews in Germany. Translated into 24 languages now, Bloodlands will correct that misimpression and should be on your reading list.

Judt taught at Cambridge, Oxford, Berkley, and NYU (from which he retired). Founder of the Remarque Institute and author of fourteen books, Judt contributed regularly to The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and other American and European journals. During the writing of Thinking the Twentieth Century, Judt was in his final months of the degenerative neurological disease ALS (commonly called Lou Gehrig Disease). He died in August 2010.

As time allows, I'll record parts of the book I found noteworthy. This is the first installment...


F.F. Bruce: A conservative liberal or a liberal conservative?

A Review of Tim Grass, F.F. Bruce: A Life (2011). 

Evangelical historians have chronicled “the Evangelical resurgence in Biblical Studies” during the twentieth century, and in that history F.F. Bruce played a central role. Several of the really good things from that “resurgence,” as well as some of the not-so-good things, go back to him. This biography speaks to these issues, but gently; probably too gently because, after all, who wants to violate the rules of collegiality and criticize a fellow scholar who is so congenial?

Bruce wrote a “sort of” autobiography in 1980 entitled, In Retrospect: Remembrance of Things Past. Unfortunately, it’s not a very personal book and this new biography tells me that others had the same complaint. Yet in that work, Bruce tells us he has always found it difficult to write or speak publicly about the things ...


Mondays with Bill: Bill Mounce won't allow HIS wife to call him "Lord"...

...just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him "Lord," and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. - 1Peter 3:6

Bill Mounce is a New Testament scholar who sits on both the feminist New International Version 2011's Committee on Bible Translation funded by Zondervan and the anti-feminist English Standard Version's New Testament committee funded by Good News Publishers/Crossway. How does Dr. Mounce spread his feet between translation responsibilities for both feminist and anti-feminist Bibles?

Bill Mounce is able to keep one foot in both camps because he's a complementarian. Calling himself a "complementarian," Bill Mounce did a post recently telling the world that, despite the Apostle Peter's commendation of Sarah calling her husband "Lord," he himself would most certainly never allow his wife to call him "Lord." In fact, says Dr. Mounce, if my wife addressed me in any way similar to the way Sarah addressed her husband, "I would see it as a failure to lead on my part"...

We'll return to Dr. Mounce's post in a minute, but first let's set the context for Mounce's errors within the world of Evangelicalism...


Covenant Seminary's Scripture Problem (No. 2): Jack Collins starts with a whimper...

"From my viewpoint, there is something lacking in the book. First as a Christian the author does not address the importance of the inspiration and authority of scripture. For the most part the author stands over the Bible rather than under the Bible." - from an Amazon review of Did Adam and Eve Really Exist by Jack Collins

C. John "Jack" Collins is an Old Testament prof at Covenant Theological Seminary who served as the Old Testament "chair" of the English Standard Version's Translation Committee. Collins did his undergrad work at MIT, his doctoral work at Liverpool, and has been given money by the Center for Science and Culture and the John Templeton Foundation to write on "faith and science."

Recently, Dr. Collins issued a book Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? enlarging upon a paper he wrote titled, "Adam and Eve as Historical People, and Why It Matters." It's that compressed version of Collins's book critiqued below and this is the second in a series. The first is found here.

Adam and Eve as Historical People, and Why It Matters

by C. John (Jack) Collins

(Summary) The best way to account for both the biblical presentation of human life and our own experience in the world is to suppose that Adam and Eve were real persons, and the forebears of all other human beings. The biblical presentation concerns not simply the story in Genesis and the biblical passages that refer to it, but also the larger biblical storyline, which deals with God’s good creation invaded by sin, for which God has a redemptive plan; Israel’s calling to be a light to the nations; and the church’s prospect of successfully bringing God’s light to the whole world. The biblical presentation further concerns the unique role and dignity of the human race, which is a matter of daily experience for everyone: all people yearn for God and need him, depend on him to deal with their sinfulness, and crave a wholesome community for their lives to flourish.

Baylyblog has a post category or tag titled "Gelded discourse." The tag comes from something C. S. Lewis said in his The Abolition of Man:

We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

Among Reformed men who enter the ministry, the castration Lewis mentions is usually accomplished in the three years prior to ordination by their seminary professors. The summary paragraph above is a perfect example of how seminary profs accomplish their nasty task...


Abraham Kuyper: a giant we need...

A Review of James Bratt, Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat.

In history today, studying the “little people” is in and studying the giants is out. Kuyper was a colossus and has not been particularly well-served by biographers. When we study him, we can see further ahead since we are dwarves standing on the shoulders of a giant. Consider his accomplishments and the highlights of his life.

Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) had two conversions, three nervous breakdowns, and at least four vocations in his extraordinary life. He started a political party, a university and a denomination. He wrote book after book, column after column, gave speech after speech, and was one of the finest devotional writers of his era. As we say in my family, he was...


My intimate friendship with C. S. Lewis...

Well done, Andrew (Lazo). It is encouraging to see collaborative and respectful engagement between scholars, especially in the field of Lewis studies. You and McGrath have quietly set a high bar for better behaviour among researchers and writers. Hat tip to you and McGrath both. - Lancia E. Smith, First Things comments

Recently, there has been some discussion online about the precise date for the conversion (to theism) of C.S. Lewis. The consensus seems to be that Lewis himself misreported the date in his book, Surprised by Joy, and in his new biography of Lewis, Alister McGrath has set the record straight.

Of course McGrath's correction pleases me immensely. What a man! What a scholar! How utterly punctilious of him! I must say Alice (as McGrath's friends call him) has inspired me to make bold and bring forth my own more modest contribution to this scintillating discussion. The talk has centered on the quality of Lewis’ memory, which many consider prodigious. Well, was it?

Readers of this blog likely are unaware that I knew Jack (as friends of Lewis called him) in the early sixties and late fifties when I was a student at Cambridge...


Our man Mitch goes to Purdue...

There's little doubt in my mind that our former governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, will do a superb job as the new president of Purdue University. Since hearing he was taking the job back a year or so ago, I've been lamenting Our Man Mitch didn't come to Indiana University, instead.

Back in mid-January of this year, my dear brother, Tim Wegener, forwarded "An Open Letter to the People of Purdue" which was Mitch Daniels'  first act of leadership as Purdue's new president. A shot across the bow, read it and imagine how...

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Hints towards a Christian witness concerning sexual sin among the chattering class...

Over under another post explaining the love that leads Christians to continue to use the word 'sodomy' with both unbelievers and believers caught in the practice of same-sex intimacy, one reader commented:

Recently I found myself using the following construction: "The behavior formerly known as sodomy." Kind of like "The artist formerly known as Prince." Is that cowardly? It seems like it gets the point across, without constantly derailing the conversation into "Don't you know that word is offensive? Then why do you keep using it?!"

To which I respond:

That seems even more of a witness than simply to say "sodomy." It calls attention to the PC police who lead the cowards' revolution of thought and word control.

Other options might be, "the sin that now demands the protection of the Academy's thought-control gestapo," "the perversion that preens itself as 'gay,'" "the crime still prohibited by thirteen states called 'sodomy,'" or "the sin whose proponents' death-wish San Francisco Chronicle's gay journalist Randy Shilts chronicled so well and tragically in his classic And the Band Played On completed shortly before he himself died of AIDS." That last one is wonderful because it's an extremely verbose circumlocution and academics just adore verbose circumlocutions.

More seriously, though, when speaking to unbelievers I wouldn't recommend one word consistently used. I'd pepper my conversation with all of the above as well as "queers" and "dikes" and "gays" and "butch" and "clergy" (you know, "there are three sexes—men, women, and clergymen") and "men and women tempted by same-sex intimacy" and so on. But I'd always use the word 'sodomy' at least once to keep the living consciences present on high (or God) alert. The more pressure there were to not use such Divine language, the more I would fear God for not using it. But once or twice will do.

Always keep it firmly in mind that...


Cannibalism in Jamestown...

If anyone had an question concerning the work before us as Christians in our evil generation, here's a story by CBS on the confirmation of cannibalism within the Jamestown Settlement during the terrible drought (worst in 800 years) of 1609-1610. Giving the details of the discovery of a 14-year old's body providing evidence she was cannibalized, CBS reported Smithsonian forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley responded to the discovery with this idiocy:

"There was a cultural stigma against killing someone for food, Owsley said."

Had they been present at the time, one finds oneself wondering if R2K men would think this a matter upon which the Anglican priest ought to have held his peace?

I'm reminded of a review that appeared years ago in the New York Times Book Review in which a Harvard philosopher did a write-up on a Kentucky philosopher's book defending infanticide...


Scripture's "critical nuance" of 'malakoi' and 'arsenakoitai' lost on Wheaton as identity politics prevail...

Under the post, "Wheaton announces 'homosexuality' is not sin...," one brother comments:

Tim, I may have missed something.... While, as a former "Wheatie," I would have preferred that Wheaton not enter into this spiritual minefield, let’s not read more into this than is there. As for Provost Jones, I believe that he is correct in saying that ...the mere attraction to members of the same sex, if not acted upon, is no more sin than the attraction a heterosexual feels to members of the opposite sex. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is not to the contrary. It’s clear that Paul is describing behaviors, not merely states of temptation, here, so there is no reason to believe that Paul in using the term "homosexual" is referring to anyone other than those who practice homosexuality. Indeed, the ESV, generally recognized as the most reformed-friendly English translation, translates the Greek as "men who practice homosexuality."

To which I respond:

Dear (Brother),

Yes, I think you have missed some things. We're dealing here with the politics of identity and the world is saying men have no control over being homosexual and so they should not be penalized for it. This is the entire basis of the sodomite marriage movement. Equal rights for homosexuals.

But if you apply this to any sin that our culture doesn't want to privilege, it's shown as the sham it is. Take bestiality, for instance: if Phil Ryken and Stan Jones were to issue a statement announcing a support group for those who identify as "rutters"—let's say that were the name they took for themselves; if they explained that many rutters feel very alienated and are in danger of committing suicide because of how different they feel among their peers, what would our reaction be?

We'd howl...


Evolution: "Choose you this day whom you will serve..."

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. - Joshua 24:15

Astronomer John Byl has posted his review of Rev. Paulin Bedard's new book, In Six Days God Created: Refuting the Framework and Figurative Views of the Days of Creation, and here's a teaser..


Athanasius College: an alternative to old schools' hyperinflated tuition...

It is time to apply for college. We want readers of Baylyblog to consider one new option, Athanasius College. While developing the program over the past two years, our commitments have been simple: to get back to traditional, orthodox Christian foundations in every aspect of our lives, including especially education.

Recently, we finalized tuition fees for our inaugural year and have released them here. They are affordable: $8,000 for a full-time student expecting to enroll in 12 to 18 hours, with additional rates starting at $500 a year for courses taken at IU. Students will not be eligible for federal funding—we’d have to be accredited for that. Instead, we expect them to make up the cost through summer and part-time jobs or other means.

The problem

In today’s higher education market, our price makes a difference. Here are a series of charts showing the scandal of the financial costs and benefits of higher education today. Take a look  at them.

Students can attend Athanasius College without burdening their future and their families with insurmountable debt. For most students, such debt has simply become the norm. According to a recent series of posts by the New York Times the average undergraduate debt now approaches $25,000, an average that does not take into account the cost of professional or graduate degrees, whose prices often soar past six digits. And, according to the same report, 9 percent of borrowers will have defaulted on these loans by the end of this year.

Tuition underlies this crisis. Harvard now charges $38,840 just for tuition, and the tuition charged by Christian colleges is not far behind. Here's a list of what various Christian colleges charge...


Inter-Varsity's loss at Tufts indicates future of campus ministry...

Inter-Varsity has lost its battle for recognition as a Tufts University campus ministry.

Regardless of the result of the election tomorrow, this sort of thing will only increase as time passes. We live in a nation given over to rebellion against the Only True God, and in such a state, Christians are intolerable. That higher education is ever anywhere allowed to claim to be an advocate for diversity or tolerance without being met by hoots, hollers, and catcalls simply demonstrates how foundational the principle of hypocrisy has become to postmodern culture.

Christians committed to campus ministry should steer Christian parents away from any private college or university where the Secularist god reigns (which is to say almost any private college or university, Christian or secular); we should fight intensely for the free exercise of religion on state taxpayer-funded university campuses; and all campus ministries should move on from parachurch to church-based support and church-based ministry.


The Warfield misattribution on Tenth's web site will be corrected this afternoon...

(NOTE: I was just notified that Tenth's web site will be corrected this afternoon, October 2, 2012.)

Back on June 15, 2008, I wrote the now-president of Wheaton College, Phil Ryken, pointing out serious errors in his P&R commentary on 1Timothy. Following our private correspondence I did a post on these errors. They matter because Phil (Phil and I are related by marriage) has wrongly attributed a statement in support of woman deacons to B. B. Warfield and his misattribution has been distributed within the PCA as justification for changing the PCA's polity to approve woman officers in the church.

To this day, Phil has not bothered to correct this document distributed by Tenth's web site. Here are two screen shots proving Phil's misattribution lives on today on the PDF on Tenth's web site. Phil writes that B. B. Warfield...