Recent publication of documents over at SBC Outpost (thanks for all that research, guys) reveal that SWBTS offered Dr. Sheri Klouda an ongoing position working in Roberts Library with no reduction in salary or benefits. Klouda rejected the offer and announced that she was going to take a position at Taylor University.
Of course, that is Dr. Klouda's prerogative. She wants to teach; therefore, she chose to take an available teaching job over a job directing the writing center at Roberts Library. I don't blame her for that.
Nevertheless, the revelation does significantly change things. Previous anti-Patterson, anti-SWBTS spin now falls pretty flat:
- Klouda's alleged reduction in income, change in health benefits for her husband, and necessity of selling a house in the DFW area are now clearly shown to be a result of her own decision. The administration at SWBTS gave her an opportunity to avoid any and all of those inconveniences, which she declined of her own free will.
- Funds were solicited to meet the resultant financial hardship, all upon the pretext that Dr. Klouda had been forced to move and take a lower salary against her will. That now appears not to have been the case. She was apparently required not to teach Hebrew at SWBTS and not to serve on the faculty of the School of Theology, but it does not appear that anyone at SWBTS required her to suffer any loss of income or benefits, nor that anyone required her to change residences.
- The position offered to Dr. Klouda is admittedly a much less prestigious position than her former professorship. Nobody will characterize this as a step up (or even a lateral move). Angered at the loss of her professorship, perhaps Dr. Klouda didn't want the seminary's help. It's an emotion that we've all probably harbored at some point or another, and with which we all can likely sympathize to some degree. Many would perhaps swallow pride if the livelihood of the family were at stake.
- But the fact that SWBTS employed Dr. Klouda for two additional years and then offered her another ongoing position certainly reflects that the seminary administration made extensive good-faith efforts to deal compassionately with Dr. Klouda in the aftermath of their theological disagreements. Anyone who has served in a leadership or supervisory capacity can also sympathize with the difficulty of giving bad news to someone, of trying to soften the blow and extend every courtesy in light of the circumstances, and yet encountering someone so angry over the state of affairs as to reject offered kindnesses and lash out.
- Dr. Blaising apparently labored to help Dr. Klouda find another teaching position. From all that we've read from many in the blog world, Dr. Klouda is an exemplary academic and a teacher par excellence. Since we also know that our Southern Baptist seminaries are among the lowest paying jobs in Christian academics, can't we have some optimism that a highly qualified scholar will soon be earning far more than she earned in Fort Worth? A degree in Hebrew is not nearly as parochial as my Baptist History credentials.
All of that simply to show that the seminary has not imposed any financial hardship upon Dr. Klouda. Now I know…many of you out there have theological and ideological objections to the events surrounding Dr. Klouda at SWBTS. The seminary has opined that those training pastors ought to be capable of serving as pastors. Dr. Klouda disagrees. So do a number of blogging brethren. It is a theological disagreement.
I respect your right to hold your theological views. I respect Dr. Klouda's right to hold hers. I respect Dr. Patterson's right to hold his, and Dr. Blaising's right to hold his. I respect the right of the trustees of SWBTS to form seminary policy according to their theological convictions as guided by the study of scripture and the will of the convention expressed in the history of our institutions, our statement of faith, and the practice of sister entities.
What I do not acknowledge or respect is the right of the United States Government even to hold a theological viewpoint, much less to adjudicate it.