Shake up at SBTS

Well this doesn’t look good. Whether Mohler is still on the up and up or not, this doesn’t look good at all.

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Sad day it seems from a distance. I got married the same day as Ted Cabal’s son, also named Nathan. One of my best friends went to his wedding instead of mine. It was OK. We got married anyway. I’d never met Ted or Nathan Cabal. But in med school I went to church with Ted and played guitars with him. He’s quite a guy. (I haven’t seen him in years - moved out here to the wild country of Oklahoma.) I could not say enough good about Ted Cabal.

I really don’t know much about this situation. I have my opinions and they aren’t very positive toward Mohler and especially Moore. But I will say that if they fired Ted Cabal because of a Covid bump, they made a mistake. And if they fired him for some other reason, its worse than a mistake.

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I’m not up to speed on what everyone’s saying, but here is what Ted Cabal says about the situation. Straight from the horse’s mouth as it were (reproduced in full):

Due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary made the difficult decision this week to cut its budget by 30%. Staff and faculty layoffs were part of this cut and included me. I would normally have no need to address this issue, especially at a time when people are losing even loved ones.

But yesterday persons unknown to me described online my layoff as a purge of the last theologically conservative faculty at Southern. The idea that those remaining are heterodox shocked and angered me. The rest of the piece got worse, presenting many Southern Baptists I love and respect as if they were heretics. Before day’s end other bloggers repeated the falsehoods, but none consulted me regarding any of their content. I affirm my SBTS colleagues and the others I know to be exceedingly fine Christians in purity of life and doctrine. To besmirch them in this way is to reveal ignorance and/or dishonesty.

I bear no ill will toward SBTS over my layoff. Cheri and I are looking forward to what lies ahead. And we especially want to thank dear friends all over the world who have contacted us in love and encouragement

It seems to me that agendas can run more than one way, and some, at least potentially, are making a lot of hay over this to suit their own agenda.

Cabal seems to be denying any wrong doing, but Fuller’s son is clear that his dad’s firing was political. And to be honest, I’m more inclined to believe the person who didn’t sign an NDA.

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Why is this an either-or dichotomy? Have you never heard the proverb (popular in progressive circles) “Never let a good crisis go to waste!”

Old farts like me are often dismissed as hopelessly cynical. But certain features of society and the behavior of those within them are visible only at a distance in time, namely life lived long enough to discern patterns which are invisible to youth.

I’m guessing now that most the conundrums (maybe all of them) that vex even the old will evaporate from the perspective of eternity.

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Agreed. So, make Ted Cabal redundant because you know that he’ll be happy to go (this was the impression I got from his piece), and fire Russell Fuller for being a pain in the neck (and no doubt for more than his stands against cultural Marxism). It’s called killing two birds with one stone.

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“The PCA and the SBC are showing identical trajectories in terms of the rot which first took root in their seminaries now going through the mainstream movement as a whole; even as people in PCA and SBC churches are rapidly losing any sense of denominational loyalty, being far more committed to their local churches than they are to the movements of which those churches are a part”. Discuss.

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It’s American Protestant Church History repeating itself. The previous iteration of this creeping rot was about 120 years ago, when Protestant denomiations (especially the “with it” kind) began putting PhDs in their classrooms who had gotten their degrees from the pissiest European theological universities, chief among them Tübingen. These men then began educating the next generation of American pastors, who then filled pulpits across the land with the pastoral consequence of JEPD critical hermeneutics.

The issues today are different - cultural Marxism and feminism instead of critical hermeneutics. But, the process is the same: (1) get your degrees and similar credentials from progressive agencies; (2) insinuate yourselves into positions of this or that denominational structure where the levers of power are located; (3) put hands on those levers and turn them toward the progressive future, including, (4) educating the next generation of pastors, so the progressive mindset can be dispensed weekly from the pulpit and other ministries of the local churches.

It’s all been done before. But, it was over a hundred years ago, so no one today notices. That old saw about the ignorant repeating the mistakes of the past is so tediously true.

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To which I could then add a (5): the laity finally work out what’s going on and revolt; either to help form new movements, or as individuals to wander off into church traditions very different to what they have come from, but which don’t have the faults of where they have come from.

In my home context, I used to joke that it was far easier in New Zealand to find a Bible-believing Catholic than to find a Bible-believing Methodist, which as a movement lost its grip precisely in the way you describe.

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Oh I don’t disagree. I think it’s very possible each men’s experience might have been different and motives for their firings, respectively, may have been different. But we have to be careful of dismissing one account of this event because of another person’s personal experience.

I do also think the issue of the NDA places a cloud of suspicion on anything said by someone who’s livelihood depends on honoring it. To be honest the statement read much like a prepared statement, but I could be wrong.

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It’s sad to see these profs’ loss of their jobs, but as we saw yesterday with Eric Wilson, people are losing their jobs for political reasons all the time in the secular world. I’m wondering if it doesn’t happen in religious schools and non-profits even more frequently? Christian academics are insular and insecure in a way pagans aren’t.

It’s long been clear Al is working to leave behind a kinder and gentler legacy, and this at the expense of the fear of God and humble and sacrificial leadership. We wrote The Grace of Shame largely to demonstrate his betrayal of gays, but also his rhetorical sophistication as he did so. I’m not sure which was more disappointing to me as we wrote. Al is so very-carefully wrong.

I have little patience for those wringing their hands over Al and his proteges. If men tell you they’re the greatest and most important Christian leaders and the future of Christ’s Church depends upon their brilliant witness, they’re probably not and likely it doesn’t.

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It really seems like a natural progression from everything you wrote in the Grace of Shame. But I think the moment the wider church became aware was when Phil Johnson confronted Al Mohler at the Shepherds conference on this topic. It’s obvious why Mohler was indignant, he should have read Psalm 51 for his cue.

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Indeed! I first “embraced” the Christian faith in a fundamentalist Baptist setting, where all Romans were headed to hell, and most Protestants were going along for the ride.

I’ll die in the tradition of the English Reformation, which most modern evangelicals suppose is just Rome Without A Pope. They think this because they know nothing about the history of the Church nor the theology, worship, and piety of orthodox Prayer Book Christianity.

Dear Father Bill,

But why call me out like this?

Much love,

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I’m currently about 3/4 of the way through a history of Scottish influence on the world, from about 1700 until about 1850. (https://www.amazon.com/How-Scots-Invented-Modern-World/dp/B001I8Y41O/ - Ignore the review, it’s a good book.) This pattern is far older than 100 years. John Knox, the Scottish Reformers and the Kirk prepared the soil that the Scottish Enlightenment grew in.

The leader of the “Moderate” wing of the Kirk lived and died in the 1700s: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moderate_Party_(Scotland).

I assume the process is far older than that. After all, the church at Rome once got a very nice letter from the Apostle Paul.

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From my experience in the corporate world, the first people let go during a cash crunch are often the most senior and highest-paid folks. A corporation can often retain two junior staff for the cost of a single senior staff member. Especially when you are doing things where headcount is really critical, like teaching classes, that can make a huge difference in your cash flow and in your margins. Even small annual raises add up when someone’s been on staff for 20 years. And a 1% raise for someone making $80k is the same dollar amount as a 2.67% raise for someone making $30k. Compounding isn’t just for interest.

I don’t know a lot about this situation, but my general impression is that the guys who were let go were pretty senior, and a lot of the woke party are younger. I’m not saying this is the whole answer to the story, but at a minimum, it’s a convenient cover.

“Hey, the guy’s Hebrew book costs the same whether he’s on staff or not.”

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“Hey, the guy’s Hebrew book costs the same whether he’s on staff or not.”

Like your objective take on this, dear brother.

BTW, the issue isn’t to pope or not. The issue is sacramentalism. The greatest divide in the church has always been between those who believe in circumcised foreskins and those who believe in circumcised hearts. Note the words “believe in.”

Love,

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11 posts were split to a new topic: The future of higher ed

This news (assuming David Fuller’s description is accurate) brought Robert Conquest’s three laws of politics to mind, especially the 2nd:

  1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
  2. Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
  3. The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

So I happened back upon the documentary Battle for the Minds, about the Fundamentalist take over the SBC. I think the documentary definitely takes a hostile view toward the fundamentalists.

But the testimony regarding Al Mohler seems to be presently bearing out in this current shake up. A liberal colleague of Mohler’s said that he never even knew of Mohler’s fundamentalism while they were in school, and that Mohler actively took positions to the contrary. But when he had the opportunity to be President of SBTS suddenly he became a conservative.

He speculated that if the winds of influence changed, so would Mohler. A few years ago I would have dismissed such claims, but I think this is most evident in how Mohler responded after the firing of Page Patterson. Right or wrong, his firing was a demonstration of the trustees power over the career of SBC seminary presidents…I wonder if the trustees over SBTS are equally like minded.

Another point I find interesting is how important the role of the President of the convention was to the Fundamentalist take over, but now when asked about Beth Moore being President over the convention, Mohler said most of the functions were administrative and could be fulfilled by a woman. This dismissiveness as to the theological importance of the position is astounding. Now Mohler didn’t leave it at that, but I wonder if he is sensing a more brisk change in the winds of southern baptist theology.

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