Christianity

A vote of confidence for my brother Jarvis Williams

I have known Jarvis Williams for about ten years. He’s a fiery preacher, a fierce academic, and a faithful man of God. You may remember Jarvis from the plenary address that he delivered at the 2012 Desiring God National Conference. Or perhaps you saw his message that he preached in Southern Seminary’s chapel last September (see above). Or maybe you read his book One New Man: The Cross and Racial Reconciliation in Pauline Theology.

If you don’t know him, you need to. He’s one of the good guys. He believes in the inerrancy of scripture. He also adheres to the Southern Baptist confessional standard known as “The Baptist Faith and Message 2000.” Nevertheless, he is being released from his faculty position at a Southern Baptist college in Kentucky because of his beliefs. Other faculty at the school reject inerrancy and teach evolution. There appears to be room for them, but not room for a publishing scholar who is orthodox and firmly ensconced in the Southern Baptist tradition.

I cannot lay out the situation any better than Patrick Schreiner has at his blog, and I recommend you read his page. But I just want to add my support to team-Jarvis. He is being let go for nothing less than holding to the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). And that ought not be. I’m pretty sure Kentucky Baptists who support the college would agree that it ought not be as well.

8 Comments

  • Nate Martin

    How can it be considered legitimate to not renew a contract because of theology when the school has no doctrinal statement?

    • buddyglass

      I’m not an employment lawyer, but I suspect they can opt not to grant tenure for any number of reasons regardless of whether there’s a doctrinal statement in place. Clearly there are reasons they can’t use (e.g. “he’s black”), but “he’s a five-point Calvinist” probably isn’t one of them.

      That said, Scheiner’s article seems premature. Williams hasn’t said anything. The Campbellsvile folks haven’t said anything. All we have are Schreiner and some anonymous “sources”. We don’t even know what their concerns about his theology might have been, if that was in fact even the primary reason for his not being offered tenure.

  • Tim Raymond

    Alright – help me understand this. I’m not an SBC pastor, but I thought the SBC rooted out the liberals and that now y’all hold to the BFM 2000. If so, what’s up with the “other faculty at the school reject inerrancy and teach evolution”? Are there still pockets of rank liberalism in the SBC? I don’t get it.

  • C. Daniel Motley

    CU has a statement of faith de facto: the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. When you receive money from the KBC, you adopt their statement of faith as well.

    • buddyglass

      Are we sure this is the case? CU is listed at the KBC website under the category “Kentucky Baptist Agencies and Institutions” (bottom right). However, I can’t find anything on the KBC site to suggest all “agencies and institutions” (as well as any individual employee of an agency or institution) must affirm the BFM2k. The CU website makes no mention of it.

      The KBC site does have this on their about page:

      The Kentucky Baptist Convention also relates to 10 Kentucky agencies and institutions and one auxiliary — the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union. While these organizations relate to and cooperate with the state convention in varying degrees, they operate under the direction of separate boards.

      The current document titled “INFORMATION & GUIDELINES For CHURCHES SEEKING AFFILIATION with the KENTUCKY BAPTIST CONVENTION” was authored in 1999, so it predates BFM2k.

  • James Bradshaw

    This is all speculation, of course. Nevertheless, even if he was fired for his theological beliefs, one cannot conclude that it was because non-Calvinists do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. Pastors like James Kennedy and even Pat Robertson are not Calvinists. Nevertheless, they both believe that Scripture is infallible. It is precisely that belief that may have lead the administrators to discontinue Mr Williams’ contract.

    It’s not a battle of whether Scripture is inerrant or not. It’s a question of whether one’s interpretation is. It’s not a trivial difference.

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