Jim Stump: Another Casualty in the “Culture Wars” (Skinner)

StumpThis 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).

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12 thoughts on “Jim Stump: Another Casualty in the “Culture Wars” (Skinner)

  1. This is not a casualty in the ‘culture war.’ Do you think that jettisoning ones beliefs is merely a cultural issue? This is a apostasy, but not I the “Free Will Baptist” sense in which you work. It is tragic and sad that this has occurred but pathetic that you have tried to parlay it into a “cultural” issue or a political form of persecution. Where is the concern for his spiritual situation?

    1. Raymond, thanks for taking the time to read and weigh in. You may need a bit broader perspective on my use of the phrase “culture wars.” Read some of my previous posts and you will (hopefully) understand what I mean. As for your other concern–his “spiritual situation”–I’m not sure there’s a problem with his condition…..unless you’re suggesting that one cannot simultaneously be a Christian and embrace the core principles of evolutionary biology(?). Seems to me that the “all or nothing” tone of your comment may, in fact, be part of and a product of the “culture wars” mentality I am referencing.

      1. My apologies. I read the two posts concerning Withrow and Stump together and thought you were referring to Withrow’s stance as a cultural issue. I do not think that holding to a ‘theistic view of evolution indicates a “spiritual issue.” I do think that renouncing one’s belief’s in God/Christ, etc. is a deeper problem.
        Thanks.

    2. The only causality here were students who had to listen to false teaching. Nelson Curtis former Philosphy Proff at Bethel College would never have taught such bunk.

      1. Brad,

        Your comment reveals your inability to speak with nuance or grace. In my opinion, people who display the type of attitude you display here are part of the larger problem.

  2. That’s frustrating. I hope your school stays pragmatic (at least!). With the growing list of academics who are effectively being forced out of their positions for things like this (thinking especially of shibboleths like “inerrant”), perhaps they’ll eventually just form BioLogos Divinity School.

  3. I am sad to see Dr. Stump leave, I had Dr. Stump and hold his intellect in high regard and respect him greatly. Still, I sensed 5+ years ago that Dr. Stump subscribed more to evolution than I did. In this article it is lamented that people like Dr. Stump become casualties of firm theological doctrine, yet a Bible believing scholar (or a Republican) wouldn’t get serious consideration at many/most institutions of higher learning/indoctrination. I don’t see outcry about that. A level playing field is level for all.

    I wish Dr. Stump the best in the future.

    1. Mike, it sounds to me as though you’re suggesting that one cannot embrace evolution and still be a Bible-believing Christian. I think this is a fallacious false choice. I also think you are quite mistaken that a “Bible believing scholar (or a Republican)” would be barred from serious consideration at prominent institutions of higher learning. Perhaps this is a lack of exposure to the wider world of academia on your part, but this is simply not a true statement.

      1. Chris, Admittedly we are all bound by our paradigms, but to date I have not heard a theistic evolutionary position which does not require serious Scriptural contortion. Since God does not lie, if it didn’t happen the way the Bible says why should we believe any of it? Why did Jesus view Genesis as historical? Did death come before sin? Were we created in God’s image as single cell life forms? How do single cell life forms sin? If not then death must have preceeded sin. These are just a few theological issues I have, not to mention scientific issues.

        As to universities my perception is based on experience with family, friends, videos, and numerous articles related to university/institutional bias. Of course it is not absolute, but an exclusionary purpose is served by denying it exists.

        I would love to be wrong, but I am constantly reminded of the intolerance of academia for ideas that differ from the widely accepted view, Darwinism and progressivism being two stark examples in my mind.

        Blessings

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