Welcome back, and a glorious Easter Monday to you all.
I hope you have enjoyed our Easter break and theological diversion and that you have had a chance to think on this most wonderful weekend in the liturgical year, along with the mystery and symbolism which accompanies it.
Easter is my favorite holiday of the year and I certainly enjoyed reading Jacob's take on it.
This week I was planning on looking at diversity at OBU. Although I had originally wanted to begin with racial diversity, Jacob's Easter posts got me thinking about another kind of diversity. Specifically, what is the theological diversity at OBU?
This, I can only speculate on-- I haven't looked at any stats (and I don't think those are the kind of stats that people publish), but I did spend four years at OBU studying and talking about theology, so I can tell you a little bit of what I saw.
Most people at OBU think very similarly when it comes to theology-- and that's ok and probably expected. After all, it's a baptist school in a conservative state. It's not strange that most people both come into and leave OBU thinking like a typical conservative evangelical about what God and the bible are like.
Some issues will be pretty divided: gender roles. Some issues will gain a small following: open theism, rejecting inerrancy. Every now and then there will be one student who sees the resurrection or virgin birth as a metaphor. I had a theology teacher who said he once received an ethics paper arguing that prostitution should be allowed. So, you never know what is going to come out of a twenty-something, every now and then.
But here's what I want to focus on: how are those dissenting students treated? How was Jacob treated in the comments on his Easter posts? And how did I feel by the time I left OBU?
Granted, I'm going to be to the left of most people at OBU, but to the right on the spectrum generally. Comparing my theology to what is generally believed at OBU and at my new mainline seminary, I would probably agree much more often with those at OBU. But I feel much more accepted in the world of mainline protestantism because it is acceptable there to figure out your own theology.
But shouldn't the tradition which affirms so strongly the priesthood of the believer be the place where it is acceptable to seek after God for one's self? And shouldn't a place that affirms that all truth is God's truth be unafraid of open inquiry? Especially into such important issues of doctrine?
But instead OBU tends towards the authoritarian-- if you disagree with x, y, or z, we're pretty sure you're not even a Christian.
Those brave enough to question are so often cast out as unacceptable.
Where does this attitude come from? And what ties need to be broken before students can be accepted and encouraged to think deeply about the most important issues in their lives instead of policed?