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Evangelical Scholar Fired From Seminary After Acknowledging Evolution

by @ 5:45 pm on April 11, 2010. Filed under Dumbasses, Education, Evolution vs. ID, Science

A scholar at the Reformed Theological Seminary was forced out of the school after making a statement accepting the scientific basis for evolution:

When it comes to incriminating videos these days, the one of Bruce K. Waltke might seem pretty tame. It shows the noted evangelical scholar of the Old Testament talking about scholarship, faith and evolution. What was incriminating? He not only endorsed evolution, but said that evangelical Christianity could face a crisis for not coming to accept science.

“If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult … some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness,” he says, according to several accounts by those who have seen the video. Those words set off a furor at the Reformed Theological Seminary, where Waltke was — until this week — a professor. (The seminary is evangelical, with ties to several denominations.)

This is a fairly non-controversial statement of the accepted state of the science of evolution, of course, but it didn’t sit well with Waltke’s bosses:

Michael Milton, president of the seminary’s Charlotte campus and interim president of its Orlando campus, where Waltke taught, confirmed that the scholar had lost his job over the video. Milton said that Waltke would “undoubtedly” be considered one of the world’s great Christian scholars of the Old Testament and that he was “much beloved here,” with his departure causing “heartache.” But he said that there was no choice.

Milton said that the seminary allows “views to vary” about creation, describing the faculty members there as having “an eight-lane highway” on which to explore various routes to understanding. Giving an example, he said that some faculty members believe that the Hebrew word yom (day) should be seen in Genesis as a literal 24-hour day. Others believe that yom may be providing “a framework” for some period of time longer than a day. Both of those views, and various others, are allowed, Milton said.

But while Milton insisted that this provides for “a diversity” of views, he acknowledged that others are not permitted. Darwinian views, and any suggestion that humans didn’t arrive on earth directly from being created by God (as opposed to having evolved from other forms of life) are not allowed, he said, and faculty members know this.

Asked if this limits academic freedom, Milton said: “We are a confessional seminary. I’m a professor myself, but I do not have a freedom that would go past the boundaries of the confession. Nor do I have a freedom that would allow me to express my views in such a way to hurt or impugn someone who holds another view.” Indeed he added that the problem with what Waltke said was as much his suggestion that religion will lose support over these issues as his statements about evolution itself. (The statement of faith at the seminary states: “Since the Bible is absolutely and finally authoritative as the inerrant Word of God, it is the basis for the total curriculum.”)

Given Waltke’s role and reputation, Milton said that his resignation wasn’t accepted on the spot. But after prayer on the question, Milton said, officials accepted the resignation.

So much for academic freedom I guess.

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4 Responses to “Evangelical Scholar Fired From Seminary After Acknowledging Evolution”

  1. James Young says:

    “academic freedom”!?!?! In a seminary!?!?!

    Whatever you believe about evolution and creation, if you don’t play by the rules, they’re entitled to throw you out of the game.

    I may not be a Catholic, or a member of the Reformed Church, but they’re certainly entitled to set the standards for a “Catholic” or a “Reformed” education.

    This isn’t even subject to reasonable debate.

  2. Agreed with James. As an example, I am a Southern Baptist and our denomination owns and operates 6 seminaries across the United States, so technically they are private institutes of higher learning. All tenured and full time faculty are required to be in agreement and sign an affirmation to this affect, that they are in agreement and will teach in accordance with the Baptist Faith and Message.The BFM is clear that the SBC believes in a literal 6 day creation. While these seminaries are not limited in enrollment to Southern Baptist churches, the vast majority of students are from within the Southern Baptist Convention.

    I cannot speak from experience about RTS, but the six seminaries within the SBC are pretty clear about expectations of faculty members.

  3. Yes, this seems crystal clear to me. The professor is not allowed to accept scientific consensus on the matter of evolution. To do this puts him at odds with the theology of the seminary he is involved in.

    Frankly, I think he’ll find this a good thing in the long run. He’s aware of the crisis the church is facing, and he is drawing attention to it through his actions. He has behaved in a rational and sane way in the face of irrational theological demands; and he represents a fine example to his fellow seminarians and evangelicals of obeying his conscious in the face of opposition.

    If they don’t pay attention to him it is their own failing at work; failing that threaten the evangelical movement worldwide. I left the evangelical church once I realized the evidence against special creation, and now I’ve left Christianity behind completely. I am not alone; there are many like me and there will be even more in the future.

  4. Vegeta says:

    It seems like they agreed with him. ONWARD TO CULTHOOD!!! HAZZZAAAAA!!

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