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Christian Universities in Trouble: Cedarville University Next!

March 18, 2013


Tension, turmoil, turbulence, trouble, and twisted theology have faced many Christian schools, including King’s College, Baylor University, Northwestern College, Calvin College, and Patrick Henry College. Shorter University lost nearly half of its 100 faculty members; Erskine College ended up taking its denomination to court. A Texas independent Baptist college was lost by their founding group and taken out their hands by the Board of Trustees.

Of course, many Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries have had a decade of infighting, immorality, doctrinal differences, even heresy and other problems. Piedmont Baptist College lost most of its Bible faculty over the direction the school was headed. Tennessee Temple University lost thousands of students and professors after going more contemporary in theology, lifestyle, and music and is now gasping for breath.

Cedarville University is in trouble, but then, we have known that for years. The school had an auspicious beginning in 1953 with the General Association of Regular Baptists (GARB), a group that has stood for biblical truth and ecclesiastical separation from its inception. However, in 2006, the GARB severed association with the university because of the school’s flirting with the inclusive Southern Baptist Convention.

The school has confused many with its interdenominational drift and permitting professors to attend non-Baptist churches even though they signed a Baptist doctrinal statement. Informed people have known for a long time that the University had broken from its Baptist moorings and was drifting rather swiftly with the tide toward mainstream evangelicalism.

There were concerns also about some theological problems at the college. One criticism of Cedarville is their insistence on “certainty” of Bible doctrine instead of the mere assurance of their beliefs. Some of the loosey-goosey faculty declares certainty of doctrine to be arrogance while the true Baptists considered the loosey-goosey crowd as heretics. I stand with the true Baptists.

As of October, 2012 the school lost its president and a vice president resigned after the school was accused of “moving toward a more robust and moderate evangelicalism."  Ten or more professors have felt the call elsewhere since 2007! Two professors were fired in 2007 allegedly because they were too conservative and their firing took place about four months after they signed up to teach another year! They were also challenging some of the more liberal professors during their classes. Additional liberal professors were hired only adding gasoline to the fire. One protest group charges, “The university is moving back toward conservative fundamentalism." Gasp! It seems that the university is going in opposite directions at the same time!

The charge of moving back to its Fundamentalist roots would be news to those who read the school newspaper arguing that "there was nothing wrong with homosexuality," and suggesting that "abortion wasn't a black and white issue." Also the invitation of a “Christian social activist” who has ties to the Emergent Church to speak on campus added more confusion. Inviting religious gadfly, Jim Wallis to speak didn’t add to the school’s Fundamentalist bona fides. And it didn’t help when they booked the Michael Moore documentary to be aired on campus in 2009. Then the president threw more gasoline on the fire when he put out his Recommended Book List with Emergent Church leader Brian McLaren, New Age guru James Redfield, and Philip Yancey on the list!  No, not indications of moving toward fundamentalism!

It is charged by some that the school’s trustees are trying to move the Fundamentalist Baptist institution back toward its roots instead of rushing into the Emerging Church Movement. However, Cedarville "isn't moving anywhere," said board chairman Lorne Scharnburg, emphasizing that the Ohio school is an independent Baptist university. "We're staying where we've always been," declared Scharnburg. Not exactly true since Cedarville has been sipping the New Evangelical Kool-Aid for over a decade.

The two fired professors were given contracts and then fired after a three-day visit of a North Central Accreditation team. Can’t have a dust-up with the snoops on campus. The American Association of University Professors, a nearly100-year old national faculty advocacy group with 45,000 members, got involved and is investigating the firing of one of the professors. Cedarville has declined to cooperate with them. In my opinion, the AAUP never should have been involved; however, there is that always present desire for acceptability–hence, accreditation and affiliation.  

No Christian can be pleased with trouble in Christian institutions and no one can defend lying, mistreatment, intrigue, suing other Christians, heresy, etc. Cedarville is one of many examples of some of the problems when a Christian institution (at any level) goes to a secular group for approval, licensure, commissioning, accreditation, etc. God has warned us about joining up with the world. Furthermore, can two walk together unless they are agreed? No secular organization can understand spiritual and doctrinal decisions and should therefore have no authority over churches and Christian schools.

Christian schools do not need the organizational stamp of approval from secular or governmental organizations. It is the kiss of death.

Copyright ©2013 Dr. Don Boys, Ph.D.

Dr. Don Boys is a former menber of the Indiana House of Representatives, author of 15 books, frequent guest on television and radio talk shows.

 


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