Thursday, January 19, 2006

Southern Baptist Legalistic Seminary?

Steve McCoy, in the comments section to his "Open Letter to SBC Seminary Students," claims that some of us are in fear of getting "blacklisted" around here and in the SBC due to legalism at SBTS (specifically regarding the alcohol issue) and other SBC seminaries as well. Now, while I really don't want to start a tempest in a blogpost, let me just say that the incredulity of this claim is staggering to me. Maybe I'm a little insulated from "seminary politics" because I belong to an isolated community (the Deaf community), but even so I find it extremely difficult to believe this is true. Are Southern Seminary students really on the chopping block if they exercise their right to have a differing viewpoint from the administration? And over an issue that really is silly when you get down to it? For his sake, I hope Steve sheds a little light on this claim. I understand that he's apparently been asked not to name names, but that just makes the claim more suspect to me. Do you guys have any opinion on this? Is this really the atmosphere we learn, study, and fellowship in? If it truly is, things have certainly changed since I first enrolled, and it will make me happy to be graduating soon. A top-notch education tarnished (in my mind and in the mind of others) over something stupid. To Jason Doty: sorry about the rules, I completely forgot once I woke up and got busy doing church things. There's a Weird-O-Cron™ with your name on it in the works by dinnertime. Just so you know, I work in Building 1.


Blogger justin said...

Wow. I just read the letter and many of the comments. I don't know if you were at the Alcohol and Ministry Forum, but they got a totally different message than I did.

Sure, Mohler and Moore said that there would be consequenses for any of those who choose to break the rules at Southern. But seriously, who could expect anything else? That's sort of what rules are for.

Their basic arguement was that drinking alcohol is not forbidden in the Bible and is not a sin in and of itself. They simply feel that abstinance is a better choice for the Christian today. They said many times that they would never condemn someone who had a drink as long as he wasn't breaking a church covenant that he signed or something like that. People really need to listen better before they begin to throw accusations.

As for being blacklisted in the SBC, what a ridiculous claim. I agree that this whole thing seems very suspect, and I would also like some clarification.

Thanks for the notice.

1/19/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger The Archer of the Forest said...

Well, as a hooligan Anglican, I say, "Cheers!"

1/19/2006 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I cannot and will not give names of people who have asked me not to. Sorry.

But I will say this. There are two emails in my inbox from the last two days from people at SBTS who are thanking me for my post. I've received numerous others in the last week, and have discussed these issues with dozens of others prior to the post you link to. I encourage you to read my post on the alcohol and ministry forum for more on that particular issue.

But also note that my post isn't just about alcohol, and is really about the principle of extra-biblical rules. There are other things that if I even mentioned them would literally put people at risk of some serious trouble. I wish I could say, but the fact that I cannot should say something.

Feel free to email me to discuss this more.


1/19/2006 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger justin said...

Judging from how Steve characterizes this whole thing (the action and 'legalism' of the convention), it's a wonder that he and all of his supporters haven't been the targets of the well-known SBC hit squad. I'm afraid that you may be a little over the top about this, Steve.

Just because there are some people who thank you for this idea is in no way evidence for your correctness. All that it means is that some people agree with you. I'm sure there are several incorrect ideas that, sadly, could get support from a few people at SBTS.

1/19/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

You are right. Just because I say I get emails isn't enough evidence. But I can't show you the evidence.

But you can't say I'm over the top either since you don't have any evidence. I know the emails I'm getting, the students that are fearful of "blacklisting" and so on.

I don't care if you believe me about the emails I get or the stories I hear. Just see the growing legalism around you and run from it.

Oh, and test and see. Post a link to my blog and my post to your blog and invite an open discussion on it among SBTS students. See what happens.


1/19/2006 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Blacklisted? That's one of the dumbest things I've ever heard! People on campus have their blogs blocked? I don't think so! Pretty much anyone who can show a relevant connection to SBTS can get their blog on the SBTSblogs site (actually I'm not sure you even have to show evidence). Mr. McCoy is throwing out some hefty charges and I'm afraid they do not add up.

1/19/2006 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger Shane Morgan said...

I have been a Southern Baptist for 12 years and I have been on campus for five of them. I have spoken to many people: students, pastors and regular church members. While I do not particularly agree with all of Mr. McCoy's conclusions, he raises some issues that we can not and must must not blindly dismiss. I cannot do this issue justice in the comments section of this blog but I have adressed the issues on my blog at: Please feel free to visit.

1/19/2006 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Jason et al,

Putting exclamation points at the end of sentences doesn't make your point. Just because it sounds crazy doesn't make it so. Believe me, I wish it weren't so.

I'm not making charges as much as I am sharing what I have learned. If you don't want to believe me, I understand.

But if seminarians will ask around about this stuff you will learn some of what I've learned. If you will think about the significance of a liberty being taken away through extra-biblical rules, I think you will find out that the info I'm getting is sound.

1/19/2006 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying any blogger who talks about stuff will get your blog blocked or something. I don't know. I have been told that some blogs have been blocked before (may have been a boyce thing) and I do know that bloggers who have spoken up about petty things (let alone important ones) have been pressured to shut up.

And believe me when I say the odds are that someone who intends to keep track of who you are and what you are saying is reading this thread. I've seen it before. Someone once commented on my blog agreeing with something I said, and I noticed a "hit" soon after in my stats from an sbts email inbox referring to that person by name and sent to a "higher up" at SBTS. I wish I could share names.

Email me if you want to discuss this more. pastorsteve [at] gmail [dot] com

1/19/2006 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen Newell said...

Well, Steve, I think the fact that I just did what you suggested shows that there isn't that much to "fear." I actually did link to your post and invite my seminary brothers and sisters to discuss it.

I'd seriously consider questioning the integrity of any student who seriously says there's a blacklist here at SBTS. I don't believe they speak for the majority of us. Quite honestly they sound like paranoid gossips.

I think the better issue is the relevance of the SBC to our generation. Such a threat rings hollow to me for many of the reasons our generation of ministers have put forth, as well as the fact that the SBC has functionally ignored my particular ministry (Deaf ministry). Legalism at SBTS is a red herring.

1/19/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Richard A. Bailey said...

As much fun as it might be, after coming across this thread, I feel compelled not to let Steve hanging out to dry. Though Steve (Mr. McCoy, HA!!) and I are friends and our times at SBTS overlapped, I am pretty certain I am not one of the people of whom he speaks. At least in the sense that I don't remember ever emailing him asking him not to use my name. But I can affirm some of what he says. Maybe "blacklisting" isn't the best word, but while I was a student I was told that if I wanted to have a future at the school that it would be in my best interest to distance myself from certain friends. In my case, "have a future at the school" meant doing PhD work. Thankfully, at that time, when school leadership found out that a faculty member had shared this concern (which was not his own), they were less than pleased. I was encouraged by that fact. Several years later, though, when I said things that were taken in ways I certainly did not intend them, I was informed that such comments (especially on a public website) might keep me from having a future in SBC life. In this case, I think "having a future in SBC life" meant teaching in a SBC college or university. Is that blacklisting? I don't know what to call it. Does it happen often? I don't know. But I also don't think enough of myself to believe that I have received some special treatment.

But, Stephen, to your earlier point. Do I feel as if my education (which, yes, was top-notch) was tarnished because of this? Simply put--no. I think SBTS offers one of the best theological educations that Southern Baptists can hope to receive. The school is led by men who are committed to training ministers of the gospel, equipping the churches of the convention. Do stupid things (as you so succinctly stated) sometimes happen? Sure. But that's to be expected. We're all sinners, struggling to protect the reputation and integrity of the gospel, the convention, and the seminary. At times, we're going to mess up, which I think is what Steve is most concerned with in his open letter, trying to encourage ALL (not only SBTS) Southern Baptist seminary students, as well as Southern Baptist leaders and laity, that it's best to admit when we make mistakes (in this case tendencies in some circles toward legalism) and strive to distance ourselves from such errors.

On a different note, have you ever seen a red herring? What about the Angry Red Herring from The Tick comic book? Now that's a scary guy.

1/19/2006 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen Newell said...

Oh yeah, that is one scary-lookin' fish. Been a while since I've seen that, and thanks for the much needed laugh after a rough night at UPS!

But I think the greater issue--which I think Steve has been trying to get at in his blog all along, though I think this issue is misplaced at best--is whether or not our generation really gives a flying fiddle dee dee about "SBC life." I think the majority of us are more concerned about our churches or ministries than we are about the convention and its entities.

I think there is a sense of disgust in the local churches, especially those who for some reason or another still think the SBC is "liberal." (Don't you just love it when you come across people and churches like that.) There's a sense of "how is this going to help my church?" going around. And I think that, aside from the obvious benefits of having graduates committed to Scripture, so on and so forth, I think the question is being asked about how all this helps us do ministry locally.

So I think, in a real sense, we ought to be asking how we can make the SBC more and more about the local church. The profs here have really started to emphasize that in my time here, though the "movers and shakers" on the convention level don't seem to be doing that much of it, unless I just haven't been paying attention.

1/20/2006 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger Richard A. Bailey said...

I think you are correct at sevreal points, Stephen. It is time we ask and think more about the local church (and I would argue the church universal) than about the denomination. And I think I agree for the most part as well that profs at SBTS during my time there too were emphasizing the local church. At the same time, though, profs and administration are still SBC and must and in my experience do continue to push all things SBC. But, then again, it is a denominational seminary and that's to be expected, right?

1/20/2006 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger justin said...

About the blogs being blocked by SBTS, there is a filter on campus that automatically blocks out sites that contain certain content. In reading many blogs by Southern (and Boyce) students, I have noticed that some of them are littered with explatives and other such nonsense. These, I would assume, are some that have possibly been blocked. The most common arguement is their 'freedom in Christ'. You know, I'm not sure but I don't think that drinking and cussing is what Paul was talking about.

1/20/2006 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen Newell said...

If you think that's nonsense, you should see "The Great Cussin' Blogwar" that Jason started. I posted on the issue as well. You can find Jason's post here and my post here.

1/20/2006 05:54:00 PM  

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