This morning the BioLogos Forum has an article about Dr. James Stump, a philosopher of science who has been, until very recently, a faculty member at the Christian-affiliated Bethel College in Indiana. Stump apparently resigned (or was forced by conscience to resign) over a change in college policy. The school is affiliated with a small, parochial Christian denomination known as the Missionary Church. Until now, faculty members were not required to adhere to all of the specific doctrines of the Missionary Church. Instead, they had to sign off on a separate, less-restrictive statement of faith. However, one month ago (yesterday) the college’s policy officially changed. Here’s an excerpt from the BioLogos response this morning:
The denomination’s Articles of Faith and Practice include the line “We believe that the first man, Adam, was created by an immediate act of God and not by a process of evolution.” Until recently, Bethel faculty have not been required to subscribe to the views of the denomination, but to a separate, brief faith statement. After a few years of discussion between the college and the denomination, the Bethel Board of Trustees approved a new policy on June 9, stating that the denomination’s view on Adam “should be advocated as the official, meritorious, and theologically responsible position of the College, without disparagement.” Because of this change in policy, Bethel faculty may no longer advocate for, nor do scholarship supporting, the view that God used an evolutionary process to create the first humans.
As far as I can tell from researching the matter, Bethel is the only institution of higher learning affiliated with the Missionary Church. I am particularly sensitive to this type of policy change because I teach in a similar setting. The college at which I am employed is the only institution of learning affiliated with a small denomination known as the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. I am not a member of this denomination and neither are most of my colleagues campus-wide. As of now, there is no requirement that professors in any discipline sign any confession of faith. However, such a change in college-wide policy could be devastating not only for me, but for many of my colleagues. Honestly, I would be genuinely surprised if many of Stump’s colleagues throughout Bethel College could sign off affirmatively on the issues over which he is departing, but how many are going to willingly fall on their swords with their jobs on the line and with such dismal prospects for the future?
I guess we can add one more name to the ever-growing list of US professors who have departed from Christian-affiliated institutions over issues arising from the so-called “culture wars.” If you’re interested, here’s Dr. Stump’s faculty bio (which is still up as of this morning).