Friday, June 13, 2014

Bird brains

Michael Bird has weighed in on WTS retiring Douglas Green:

I'm struck by how Bird and William B. Evans act like they just fell off the turnip truck. Both men should know by now how the world works. Sure, to speak of his "retirement" is a bit euphemistic. But we'd expect the official announcement is going to be expressed in diplomatic terms, which will understate the full reasons for the action. 

It's pretty jejune to think that tells the whole story. I expect the action has less to do with his faint digital footprint and more to do with what he's said in class over the years, as well as what came out when he was repeatedly questioned by the Trustees. 

My best guess is that the Trustees wanted to avoid a repeat performance of the public psychodrama involving Peter Enns. The problem with suspending Enns before he was terminated is that it gave his supporters advance warning, which they used to mobilize opposition and mount a public campaign ("Save our Seminary"). 

In this case, by entering into private negotiations with Green, the only public announcement was at the end of the process, rather than the outset of the process. It's a done deal. Hence, no time for supporters to riot. 

I also expect a condition of offering him early retirement is that both sides would refrain from saying too much in public about the nature of their disagreement. Otherwise, both sides feel the need to defend themselves, in which case it's the Peter Enns affair redux.  

This way, each side gets something out of the deal. Because it's mutually beneficial, Green agreed to it rather than raising a ruckus. He gets a golden parachute while the board gets to reorganize the OT dept. Notice that retiring Green was coordinated with hiring Duguid. 

I don't know that for a fact, although I do have some inside information. But as long as outsiders to the process like Bird and Evans feel free to speculate, I can speculate, too. 

I blogged on this topic some years ago around the time of the Peter Enns controversy and it prompted no few responses (and let the record show that I do disagree with Enns on a lot of stuff, just see the book Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy).

But it's not enough to say you disagree with Enns. That's a throwaway line, like "I'm personally opposed to abortion, but…"

It's the duty of the WTS administration to ensure fidelity to the authority of God's word. Past administrations were derelict. The current administration is being blamed for cleaning up the mess left by the lax policy of their latitudinarian predecessors. 

Fact is, evangelicalism seems to be heading for a schism. The current political climate has emboldened "progressive evangelicals" to openly reject "offensive" biblical teachings. So now is the time for Christian colleges and seminaries to recommit.  

This reminds me why I am so grateful for the three colleges I’ve worked for because I’ve never had a board where members troll through my work looking for the slightest minor exegetical objection that they can use as a reason to hang me. So glad that the boards of HTC, BST, and Ridley College have focused on strategic matters, creating an atmosphere of trust and mutual encouragement, supporting faculty in their research, and not micro-managing the interpretive decisions of their faculty with the threat of a lynching ever lingering in the air.

Bird has a penchant for making chauvinistic statements. But given what I've read about the degree of secularization Down Under, as well as how Enns has been moving steadily to the left, Bird needs to eat some crow rather than crow about the superiority of his alternative. 

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