Tuesday, March 6, 2012

OBU's Potential

A lot of time is spent on this blog dogging the way things are. And that's true and good because you have to see that there's a problem before you might be willing to find a solution. I think we can all agree there is indeed a problem.

But is it a lost cause? Why are we fighting for OBU, besides the fact that a part of our hearts still probably calls it home?

Jacob mentioned an article on Saturday that I want to take a moment to again consider the import. The article he wrote on mentions a sort-of new scene in higher education: an evangelical renaissance.

Now that I am at a mainline protestant seminary, I am all the more aware of my evangelical tradition. Sometimes, it's easy to forget some of the positives. But I am proud of my Baptist self-identification and believe that it is as a Baptist I have things to bring to the theological discussion table.

Let us not forget what we have to offer. Evangelicals take the bible very seriously. Evangelicalism holds the individual to be of infinite value to God. Evangelicals honor deeply the spiritual aspects of faith.

I sense there is a movement of those who are coming of age in the evangelical churches and realizing that our tradition is deeper than the well from which we currently drink. There is a sense that perhaps we should follow our mainline brothers and sisters into concern for justice issues and leave our parents and their moral majority behind. But there is also a recognition that we cannot simply sell our birthright.

A change is coming. And if you look at what kind of students are coming out of OBU, you will see it.

The potential for our university is to foster this movement, to mold students who give it wings. We are already bringing forth those who say, "You know what, maybe being Baptist isn't about denying women a place in ministry or hating homosexuals. Maybe it is about something bigger."

It's not that the answers changed, the debate is over, and the Bible lost. It's that the questions are changing and our tradition is being reclaimed.

There is a movement stirring in the hearts of young evangelicals who believe that their voices have value in the academic and theological conversation. They do not wish to abandon their roots, but to determine what exactly their tradition means for them. Movements always begin within the academy.

The time is coming when evangelicals might again be taken seriously by the world.

As an "unapologetically Baptist" Liberal Arts University, OBU stands at the cusp of the birth of this movement. If we continue to take seriously the quality of education, academic freedom, and all of the good things on which we claim to stand, we can grow into our potential-- the potential to be a part of the voice of the new evangelicalism.

Maybe this is a little abstract-- after all, I do spend most of my time talking to graduate school professors. But, I hope you can see where I am coming from, and maybe even seeds of these thoughts in your own life-- especially if you, too, are a product of OBU.

There is the chance that real, Evangelical, academic, light could shine from Bison hill-- and perhaps that it already does.

But it seems that there are some who are so attached to the old ways that they do not understand or desire this light. It scares them. It means their tradition is changing. And change is never good. The SBC has decided on what side they stand. That is why we must stand and support our University. To lose that voice would be to lose a treasure for both our own tradition and the others with whom we would interact.


  1. "In Moderation." That is the key. The problem with causes and blogs such as this one (although I do strongly promote a split between the BGCO and OBU), is that it begins to take on alternative identities instead of its original purpose at inception. The danger in this, as it is evident in your writings, is that now you are advocating a repentance from conservativism as it is now at OBU into a much more liberal institution. OBU is not currently producing "homosexual haters", however the alternative is just as devastating to the Christian mission: tolerance toward gender issues and sexual orientation. There is a fine balance between the two, and OBU needs to find itself right in the middle.

  2. The Light does shine from Bison Hill. It shines from you and you and you. Your articles present a beautiful testimony that make many of us proud. Just as the Promised Land has little to do with real estate, so OBU is much bigger than Bison Hill. The spirit lives on.


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