Thursday, May 10, 2012

The World is a Mighty Big Place

Dearest Save OBU constituents, I thank you for having patience with me as I finished my last final and now have the freedom to attend to the happenings in the real world. Luckily, one of the questions on my church history final had to do with the effects of historical movements on my own tradition-- and I have Save OBU to thank for being so well prepared! Cheers.

Luckily, since I could not post yesterday, Jacob had a chance to remark on the incredibly inconsiderate decision (to be nice about it) of the administration to choose Dr. Tom Elliff as the commencement speaker. If you haven't read the post, please do so. This is simply another signpost on the way which points to the true feelings of the administration. They put up a good face, but we all know to whom they are answering. 

With that necessary intrusion out of the way, I would like to return to a final point of my theme this week: why I continue to write for Save OBU. (Not counting, I suppose, its positive influence on my graduate theological education!)

Here is the final point I would like to make: this world is a big world. The world is much bigger than OBU and it is much bigger than Oklahoma. America is bigger than the south. And Christendom is much bigger than Baptist life, or even Evangelicalism.

When I graduated OBU, I moved to Texas. And if OBU is the reddest state in the union, Texas is probably not close behind. But even there, I was amazed at how big the world is and how many people there are who are not like me.

The point is this: here at Save OBU, we advocate for academic freedom and celebrate a vision of the future in which our moderate Baptist heritage plays a key influence. And probably to some people we sound like bastions of liberality, hoping to send OBU straight to hell in a handbasket. 

But the truth is, that which unites us greatly outweighs that which divides us. In the great big world, we are actually very close together on the ideological spectrum because we affirm that our education should be not only faith based, but Baptist. 

The problem is this: when the only people around you are very much like you and have the same ideas that you do, the effect is a sort of echo-chamber. You speak your piece and it comes back to you enough times, uninterrupted, and long enough, that it starts to seem like the only way out there to think. 

My goal is to remind everyone that there are more opinions that just one. As we have said over and over again, the BGCO does not have a monopoly on defining what it means to be Christian or even what it means to be Baptist.

Let's be real. In a world where Baylor is the liberal beacon which shines from the south (a sentiment expressed by both our friends and less-friendly commenters) we are living in a world that is too small. Baylor is not liberal by any stretch of the imagination. (Moderate is probably fair, but I would argue they lean to the right.)

It should not surprise us that the science department at OBU teaches evolution-- it's not 1937 anymore. Any legitimate science department should have a curriculum which reflects the best of the best universities and OBU is no exception. Our science department is wonderful. Our science graduates get into medical school and graduate school with the best of the best.

While OBU is stuck arguing about whether or not women should be considered human beings just as much as men, the rest of the world is on either the fourth or fifth wave of feminism.

I cannot tell you how many heated arguments happened in my theology classes at OBU over things which no one even talks about anymore outside of conservative evangelicalism. That's not to say that those things have no value-- it's only to say that I did not receive a certificate of biblical studies, but a Bachelor of Arts degree. Our school needs to be sure it keeps up with the rest of the world in order to be legitimate.

I am not saying that means we must look like the rest of the world or that we should lose our distinctive Baptist flavor. By no means. But we should at least know what is going on outside of us.

OBU's mission statement claims that it wishes to prepare students to engage a diverse world. But there is not a lot of diversity at OBU and the way that policy is developing under the current administration doesn't really seem to be doing anything to improve that. Remember, Stan Norman has said that he will expect mainline protestants to justify that they have not become evangelicals. And that's not even to mention the fundamentalist litmus test of hiring questions.

Rather, the resounding chamber continues to get smaller and noise continues to grow until it is deafening to any outside voice.

The world is big and if OBU continues to ignore it, it will be lost, wandering in a land of irrelevance. Which, for a university, is perhaps only surpassed in tragedy by loss of accreditation. 

So here is my voice, looking to expand our worldview to include the vast diversity of even our own tradition. May we not get lost in our own bickering.

1 comment:

  1. We can study other views without teaching the view as fact I have engaged with more views at swbts than I did at obu


We invite you to join in the conversation. However, anonymous comments are unwelcome.