Saturday, March 10, 2007

Questions About Lawsuits

  1. Can we say, "As long as SWBTS hasn't done anything wrong, there's nothing to fear from a lawsuit"? Sure, if you are of the conviction that juries and judges always decide lawsuits correctly. Of course, the only way to hold that view is not to have read a newspaper for the past thirty years.
  2. Are 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 and Romans 13:1-7 in tension with one another? Not at all. 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 is precisely, spot-on, exactly about the question of one Christian suing another Christian in a secular court. Romans 13:1-7, on the other hand, is about believers being in submission to legitimate governmental authority. Romans 13 says nothing about and has nothing to do with the question of a believer instigating a lawsuit against another believer. Here's what Romans 13 means with regard to lawsuits: If someone wins a lawsuit against you, the Bible mandates that you should submit to the verdict as unto the authority of God.
  3. Is it an odd inconsistency that conservative bloggers have cried foul about the Klouda lawsuit without having criticized the Missouri lawsuits? I can't speak for everyone, but it is not at all strange in my case. I wasn't blogging when the Missouri lawsuits were filed. I don't live in Missouri and have not blogged extensively about Missouri events. I find it not strange at all that I have not mentioned these past events from a foreign land :-) in this blog. Once asked (in the last post), I immediately offered my opinion, and I think it falls right in line with what I've said about the Klouda lawsuit.
  4. Are there any circumstances in which a Christian can file a lawsuit? The passage in question addresses the specific issue of Christians suing Christians in secular courts. If one were attempting to redress a grievance with someone who was not a Christian, I could not argue that this passage would prohibit a lawsuit. But I would think very carefully about it nonetheless.
  5. But what about when someone acts dishonestly and it looks like they are going to get away with it. A man who pretended to be a friend of my family came and spent long hours visiting with my father. Dad took him throughout the factory, talked about proprietary practices—my Dad was a storyteller and loved to visit. A month later, this "friend" had opened a competing factory in the next town down the road and had launched a campaign to steal our customers. Not long afterwards, we hired a Purchasing Manager. She was a Christian—a Baptist—and very vocal about her faith. She signed an employment agreement promising that she would not leave our firm to go to work for any competing firm. After a couple of years, she left our company and went to work for the competing company that this purported "friend" had started. Her rationale, "[The employment agreement that she had signed] isn't worth the paper it is printed on." My thoughts: It was worth no more than her word was worth. Did we sue her? No. Even lost people refrain from suing someone for a debt of $200. Why? Because the costs of the lawsuit would be more than anyone could hope to gain. I submit to you that, for a Christian, the costs of a lawsuit must be calculated using more than a financial ledger. There is the cost to our witness. There is the cost that any of us bear when we directly contradict God's word and disobey it. Even assuming that the other person is 100% in the wrong...Vengeance is God's, not Judge Wapner's.

24 comments:

sbc pastor said...

Bart,

Please forgive my recent absense... I'm sure that I've been greatly missed :0).

Excellent post. I have linked to it from my blog, hopefully that is fine by you. Thanks for being faithful to stand up for the truth, and stand on the Word of God. God bless!!!

In Christ,
JLG

Bart Barber said...

Thanks, Jeremy.

Grosey's Messages said...

Bart... You're a good bloke!

Steve

selahV said...

Bart: I've been trying to weigh some of what is being said about this and other problems Christians face. One thing that will not go away is when we insist on our way, is our way God's way?

I think about how God knows the absolute best for us. He even sent His Only begotten Son to attone for the worst in us. But He never forces His will upon us. I remember Anne Graham Lott saying the reason God is like that is because He is a gentleman. When the Israelites wanted to do things their way, God let them have at it. Gave them over into the hands of their enemies. When man lusted after man and sinned an abomination unto God and was rebellious, God gave them over to themselves and their depravity.

When we seek to do things our way, we miss out on the blessings of God's divine intervention. When our rights and our liberties are trampled upon, we think it our responsibility to forge ahead and swipe the ear off our enemies. In a sense, we become our own God. We assume the throne that is not ours to assume.

I'm finding this a very interesting lesson for folks to watch and see what God does with it all. Personally, I'd rather wait upon the Lord and use Him as my refuge, strength and shield. I'd far rather let the King of Kings fight my battles than a complete stranger. Just my ponderings on a Saturday nite. Don't forget to set your clocks back. I'm going to bed. hmmmmn. Will be praying for all. selahV P.S. take a trip over to Tony Sisk's blog. He's got a great post there on Death Ministering. Everyone should read it.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Bart,

Does "bloke" down under mean the same as "bloke" in NC? :>)

Excellent thoughts. I would add that a former ministry I came into had the pastor leaving with a sizable amount of money that was loaned to him by the church to help him purchase a home. (I know. This is not a practice of the church any longer) When I arrived I was informed of this matter and was asked what I was going to lead the church to do, in order to get the money back.

After dodging questions for about 10 months in order to pray about the situation, I presented the plan to the Deacons. Here was the plan. 1 Corinthians 6 prohibited us from seeking restitution through the court system. It also plainly told us to be offended and allow God to deal with the matter. I told them that this pastor was God's man and that we just needed to release it and allow God to deal with him. I explained to them that as long as we were trying to deal with this issue--God wouldn't. We should write a letter to him explaining that we knew he owed the church this money and he knew he owed the money. We would then explain that it was God's money not ours and we would just allow God to collect it in His timing. Then we would sign the letter in red ink; "Paid in Full". If he wanted to pay it back then that was his business as far as the church was concerned we were moving forward.

This decision was reached on a Sunday afternoon. We decided to put together a letter and meet again after a week of directed prayer about the situation. On Wednesday (before any letter went out or anyone contacted the former pastor) we received a telephone call from the pastor. He told me that God would not allow him to sleep until he promised Him that he would repay this money. He wanted to know how much he owed, and he wrote a check for it. By Friday after the decision was made on Sunday to receive the wrong and trust God, we received a check for the full amount of the debt.

Not only do I know 1 Corinthians 6 is true theoretically, I know it is true in practice.

You are right about the damage to the our witness. Let's play the devil's advocate. Everything everybody is saying about Dr. P is true and he is the tyrant that everyone paints him to be. Filing the Lawsuit has helped how?

Blessings,
Tim

Grosey's Messages said...

don't know tim... what does bloke mean in NC? It's a term used of a cobber here. :)

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Steve,

We have a saying; "he/she is a chip off the old bloke". Meaning someone acts or looks just like their parent. The "old bloke" also refers to a piece of wood. Thus when you refer to one as a "bloke" in NC you are saying they have head of wood.

Colloquialisms are wonderful, are they not?

:>)

Blessings,
Tim

Bro. Robin said...

Bart

Your on target with this one.

Tim

It is one thing to preach on the sovereignty of God, it is another thing to live trusting it. Thanks for the testimony.

God Bless

sbc pastor said...

Tim,

Thanks for sharing that testimony, it's a good word. God bless!!!

In Christ,
JLG

volfan007 said...

tim r.,

steve is saying bloke, not block. here in tn we say that he's a chip off the old block...meaning cut from the same piece of wood. did you mean block? or, do you n. carolinians call it bloke?


david

Tim Rogers said...

Brother David,

Here is one for the books. I (North Carolinian)need to take a lesson in English from you (Tennessean).

Brother Steve is spelling "bloke" but I think he is pronouncing it "block". I believe he is speaking the kind of English that our language was derived. However, I have been wrong before and I could be wrong now.

:>)

Blessings,
Tim

Geoff Baggett said...

No, Tim, it's "bloke." Long O.

Its an Aussie term for "fellow," as best I understand it ... most often a term of respect and affection.

Isn't that right, Steve? :)

Geoff

Grosey's Messages said...

yep mate, a bloke's a bloke.. its a blokey thing..
A bloke's a fella who's short of being a mate or a cobber.
You'se blokes are orite!
if yuz wuz sheila's yud be a bit of oright.
Hey took a canadian couple out to a beaqutiful bay on Saturday and we ran into a herd or a convention of Kangaroos.
Reminds of of the SBC.
I'll post the pics at my blog.
Steve

swbts graduate said...

I am a young southern baptist who is very conservative. I am a supporter of CBMW, for example.

I am also a SWBTS M.Div. graduate.

I hope SWBTS and Paige Patterson loose this lawsuit.

I think Patterson is a horrible representative of conservative biblical views becasue of his pompus and arrogant attitude.

So even though I do not believe that women should teach men, I support Klouda totally.

Anonymous said...

Bart, I have to agree with you on your statement, "There is the cost that any of us bear when we directly contradict God's word and disobey it." And unfortunately SWBTS will pay the cost for PP and the BoT's failure to obey God's word in this matter. Pride goes before a fall. Get out of the way, everybody. The walls are coming down!

Steve

Char said...

If revealing injustices and trying to make corrections in them is so scary to some of you, I know I want to keep my distance from folks like you.
CM

Young Gent said...

The sola Southern Baptists...or should I say "conservative" Southern Baptists...wow. Why do you continue this self-righteous attitude, ignoring basic injustice, and attempting to justify egocentric indulgence by those you call leaders? Ah, but you throw in a "God bless!", and that should make us all feel better...

Anonymous said...

"I submit to you that, for a Christian, the costs of a lawsuit must be calculated using more than a financial ledger. There is the cost to our witness. There is the cost that any of us bear when we directly contradict God's word and disobey it."

Have you considered how Dr. Patterson has "damaged" the Christian witness by discriminating against women by treating them as less than men? I'm not attempting to be ridiculous with this question but, Do you think that Dr. Klouda should wait around for Dr. Patterson and the Board of Trustees to send her a check in the mail for all of the financial hardship that she has had to/will have to endure because of the decision to relieve her?

I respect Dr. Patterson's interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12, although I disagree of his application. Agreeing with what swbts graduate said, even though he believes that women should not teach men, there were other factors to consider to keep her on faculty.

swbts student said...

This message is dedicated to the "swbts graduate."

I'm glad that you support Klouda based on your conservative stance and how you feel about Patterson. Is that an oxymoron?

Anyways, what year did you graduate from SWBTS? Did you study under Patterson's watch? It is funny how current students refer to the pre-Patterson days as the "Dark Ages." It is understandable looking at the current professors and curriculum of the seminary. Maybe under Hemphill Klouda could have cut the mustard. While she was loved by the students for her "grace," her successor is feared by all Theology students alike, Ishwaran Mudliar 'The Terrible.' (http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/imudliar/) I'm sure if they, Patterson and Co., wanted to dig up something on Klouda, they wouldn't have to go far. Don't think they have shown all their cards just yet.

Second, how do you support Klouda? Do you support her in bringing lawsuits to justify her scholarly reputation? Or do you support her in taking up a fund to help her legal expenses? It will be rewarding to some, if Klouda wins, how Patterson will be responsible for Klouda's legal fees and the seminary's. We have a lot to learn from Luke 12 about going to court.

Third, don't think this is only about Klouda. There are angered pastors giving council to Klouda to take retribution in Jesus' name. They think they are doing God's will, but like the leaven of the Pharisees, they have rejected God's will.

Fourth, how has Patterson hurt the biblical witness and treated women less than men? I agree with Dr. Adrian Rodgers who said that just because the quarterback calls the plays, it doesn't make him the most valuable player on the team. Everyone is qualified for prophecy, that is, witnessing. But Paul tells us that not everyone is qualified for leadership. If only we could get women to stop trying to out-teach men and to teach their kids, so that the "word of God may not be blasphemed. (Titus 2:3-5)"

RT

volfan007 said...

bart,

i have noticed that someone named steve is commenting on wade's blog and on your blog. this anonymous steve sounds a lot like someone else we know. dont you think?
so you have one of those trackers that wade and marty have, where they can look and see if people commenting are the same person using different names? i would be interested in seeing who anonymous steve is.

anonymous steve, will you tell us who you are?

david

Rev. said...

1) I have a great deal of sympathy for Sheri Klouda. The trustees were wrong to hire her for a tenure-track position in the school of theology and to then encourage her to find employment elsewhere.

2) 1 Cor. 6 prohibits Christian from taking Christian to court.

3) The cause of Christ and the advance of His Kingdom are suffering because of sin on "both" sides in this matter.

The Confessor said...

There is more than a financial ledger. It's called integrity.
They should have compensated her when releasing her in such a way that showed they were standing on their convictions, but making amends for their initial lack of discernment.

But hindsight is 20/20.
Personally, I think it is regretable that the ideal of not suing will not be met, but I am glad that people are no longer laying down for mistreatment by "brothers and sisters" who hide injustice and damaging behaviour behind those same ideals. For all the supposed male strength of conviction, SWBTS didn't shoot straight with her.

This is largely on SWBTS. Klouda gets a lot of latitude in my book. You have to weigh the impact and I doubt some lawsuits that the world would be supportive of are actually going to damage their view of the church. The firings did that...

Anonymous said...

I have a few comments about all this.
1. I can't get over how terrible some of the reasoning is of those outraged by the Klouda issue. I read an argument several times about how it is inconsistent to offer a PhD to women and then not let them use that PhD to teach. As I understand it, Paige Patterson has no problem letting a woman teach theology to women. So where is the inconsistency?
2. It is interesting that those who think 1 Tim 2 was applied too broadly also think that 1 Cor 6 should not exclude Klouda bringing a lawsuit. I think this indicates that there is a disagreement at a deeper hermeneutical level. In general, it seems those in support of Klouda's lawsuit have a tendancy to interpret epistles as being very specific to situations. I have been amazed at how unaware they seem to be of he excellent work of those like Kostenberger and Schreiner (Dr. James Hamilton also has an excellent article). Even in the study of the Gospels there has been a shift to seeing them as being written with wider audiences in mind (the work of Bauckham for example).
3. In discussions I have noticed everybody wants to talk about her as a "Hebrew professor." Her official title was vey distinct from other OT professors, but much of her load I would see her listed for was exegesis courses (and not just Hebrew exegetical method). How do you teach exegesis of Isaiah without talking about theology? Either you are not doing biblical exegesis rightly or you are going to cover some theology. So she was not just a "Hebrew professor" that only taugt the language and no theoloy.
4. Has anybody considered the possibility that she was brought because they thought it would work but that realized it would not? She went to Criswell and SWBTS and she was supposed to teach the Hebrew language. All that sounds harmless enough. Of course once she starts teaching exegesis courses that is not so simple. Moreover, I had her for Hebrew and she would talk about theology as well. I remember a class where she was talking about the doctrine of inerrancy and she was talking about how she had a lot of systematic courses and new systematic theology. I also remember her talking about how she went on about how "helpmate" or "helper" (I can't recall which)is a terrible interpretation in Genesis regarding Eve. My point is that I would not be surprised if they thought it might work but then found out otherwise. So I am not so sure that such a big deal should be made that they hired her and then changed their mind. That may not be inconsistency as much as they realized it wasn't going to work.

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian working for a goverment agency that has allowed unsafe working conditions and have effected my health for the past 3 years and has left me with a me with a life long health condition. As a result of this I am thinking of sueing because it could have been prevented. I have prayed and continue to pray about this situation and utimately this is the reason I am on this sight.

In Christ
SSR