Saturday, January 20, 2007

My Full Opinion on the Klouda Issue

A bit of reflection and confession here: For the past couple of days I have, while critiquing Wade Burleson's writings about the Dr. Klouda situation, not been very forthright about my own views. I do believe that my critiques are substantive and important, especially the bit about religious exemption from federal employment laws.

But, it is pretty wimpy of me to critique Burleson while keeping my cards so close to my vest. I apologize, and I make amends in this very post.

Point One: I have no problem with a woman teaching Hebrew. I also have no problem with a woman teaching Church History. I do think that there is a difference between a local church and a seminary.

Point Two: I do think that seminary education—or at least theological education at a seminary—works better the more holistic and integrative it is. Although I do not believe that it is unbiblical to have a woman teaching Hebrew at a seminary, I do think it is a poor strategy to have Hebrew classes that must deliberately stick only to the linguistics. An approach that desires for instructors at seminary to be people qualified (even experienced?) as pastors is, in my opinion, a healthy one.

Personal illustration: I teach Baptist History adjunctively from time to time. Yet, I do not believe that it is the purpose of the seminary to inculcate people in Baptist History. There is a difference between a university and a seminary. A seminary exists primarily to train pastors. If the content of my class is not relevant and formative to the pastoral calling, then I believe that my teaching has failed the purpose for which people give through the Cooperative Program. I teach Baptist History because I do believe that the topic is important and relevant to the pastoral task, but I acknowledge that Baptist History can be taught in such a way that it is a secular, academic discipline and of very little value as a tool for ministry training.

SWBTS is, I believe, becoming more holistic and integrative in its approach to all of the fields within the School of Theology. I believe this to be a positive development. I can see that it also makes unfeasible the kind of arrangement where you sit someone down and say, "We're going to hire you to teach Hebrew, but we aren't going to let you teach any of the biblical exegesis classes and you are to limit your activities to the Hebrew language." As I understand it (with no first-hand knowledge), that was the arrangement with Dr. Klouda under Dr. Hemphill.

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