Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trustees Force Administrative Change (But Not at OBU , Sorry to Say)

Hope that headline didn't get your hopes up too much.

But it is worth noting that trustees of another Baptist institution, in this case Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, assertively intervened and forced the president's resignation last week.  The Rev. Dr. Phil Roberts resigned last Friday ahead of a specially-called trustee meeting to deal with questions about his leadership.  Every indication is that this guy was simply not a competent administrator.  He went through 11 financial officers in his 11 years at the helm of MBTS.  He was evidently a notorious micromanager, used funds for ostensibly personal uses, and got the seminary involved in an expensive building program.

The last two presidential tenures have been disastrous, and MBTS is surely an attractive target for the SBC's badly-needed seminary contraction effort.  I don't know enough to know whether MBTS differs in any substantial way from the other seminaries.  Therefore it's safe to assume that it is a thoroughly fundamentalist institution.  Unlike Southern and Southwestern, which used to actually be decent seminaries before the fundamentalists came in and absolutely destroyed them, I don't know if MBTS ever had pre-Takeover any "glory days," since it was only founded in 1957.  It might have been a fledgling institution all along.  They force faculty to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, and every indication is that MBTS, like the other SBC seminaries, turned their backs on academic freedom, open inquiry, soul competency, and the liberty of the conscience long ago.  Creedalism and fundamentalism seem to be the order of the day.

MBTS is not really any concern of ours.  But it is heartening to know that even a SBC-elected fundamentalist board of trustees was willing to force some changes when they were truly necessary.  Too often, cults of personality form around these leaders and the trustees are nothing more than a rubber stamp.  Fortunately, that is NOT true in our case.  Not all of our trustees are fundamentalists, and many of them surely have a loyalty to OBU's heritage and future that exceeds their loyalty to any one president (or convention leader who might influence their standing in BGCO circles).

Now we desperately need to engage OBU's trustees and demonstrate the urgent need for them to direct administrators to restore academic freedom, professors' right to teach, and students' right to learn.  Like other Southern Baptist institution boards, OBU's trustees frequently cast unanimous votes to do whatever the administration wants.  But eventually, we need some trustees to stand up and advocate for the heritage, reputation, and tradition that recent administrative actions have badly tarnished.  We need them to know it's okay to oppose Baptist Building elites.  Like the MBTS trustess who refused to allow the status quo to drag their institution down, we need OBU trustees to act by whatever means necessary to protect academic freedom at OBU and reverse the fundamentalist tide that is so dramatically deteriorating the quality of OBU's academic program.


  1. need to do some more research Midwestern was a liberal instituion and was a flagship seminary of the moderates controversies at Broadman involved some of their profs. It never has been as good a seminary as the others one is the location ontop of the controversies. Also you are making some big jumps because he was removed for something OBU needs to remove people this is absurb. Oklahoma has never been moderate Southern Baptists have never been moderate so why would we want our college to go moderate and you are not espousing academic freedom since you want fundamentalism removed from OBU

  2. MBTS is in need of a fundamentalist president I guess. I know of one guy who would be great for the job....

    (Stan Norman)

  3. Parker, you're a genius. That is the best idea I think I've ever heard. A win-win for everybody.

  4. The Elliot Controversy was at Midwestern. It has always had a low enrollment due to the liberalism it espoused which inturn affected the churches of Missouri plus the location was not in a strong Southern Baptist location. I do not see where a president being removed for mismanaging funds as is alledged is relevant to needing to remove people at OBU because they have a differnt theological leaning than you do. You say you want academic freedom however you have stated over and over again you want fundamentalists removed from OBU that is not a sign of promoting academic freedom but rather you are free to believe what you want but you must believe like us. Oklahoma has long been conservative why should our university be hijacked from us which is the way you want it to go?

    1. Sorry, Anonymous, but you're missing the point. The author is not saying MBTS's incompetent president's forced resignation has anything to do with OBU's fundamentalist president. Rather, he is just saying it's heartening to see trustees take action when an insitution's affairs are in disarray. OBU has more problems than just its increasing fundamentalism. There are P.R. problems, I.T. problems, and no one knows if the suits in Thurman are getting the message that people are growing impatient.

      On the issue of academic freedom, you are plain wrong. WE (moderates) are the ones who are having the university hijacked. OBU may have been foudned by fundamentalists, but generations of moderates in the mid-1900s made it great. Fundamentalism has no place in an institution of higher learning. All it requires is a level of literacy to read selective parts of a Book literally. Actual learning, education, and true wisdom are wholly incompatible with fundamentailsm. And that's the battle going on at OBU.

    2. The BGCO belongs to the Baptist churches of Oklahoma and OBU belongs to the BGCO so it stands to reason that OBU should reflect the churches that make up the BGCO. OBU enrollment is up not down. Moderates controlled things for so long because they went to all the conventions and the small churches which makes up the bulk of the SBC and BGCO did not go to the conventions. When they did start going the moderates were outnumbered and lost the control they had. They inturn began to cry about it was not fair when how was it fair they had the control and was not listening to the majorty? Ifyall want a liberal education go to Baylor go to Mercer go to SMU. Through the years since the resurgence trustees have done the same thing that Midwestern did but OBU is not in the same category. Misappropriation and differnt ideologies are two differnt things


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