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Why Are Evangelical Professors Quitting (Or Getting Fired)?


Dr. Jim Stump has resigned from Bethel College rather than sign their statement affirming young Earth creationism.

News came out that yet another highly regarded professor quit teaching at an evangelical institution. This time it was Jim Stump at Bethel College in Indiana. From the story in the UK’s Christian Today:

A prominent evangelical philosophy professor has resigned from the Christian Bethel College in Indiana after it espoused creationism in a statement on human origins.

Dr Jim Stump, an award-winning teacher who has worked at Bethel since 1998 and specialises in philosophy of science, said he had resigned of his own choice because he did not wish to remain under the new creationist policy and bring “tension” to the college.

…The new statement says the special creation of Adam by God “should be advocated as the official, meritorious, and theologically responsible position of the College, without disparagement.”

Academics at Bethel must affirm each year that God is the Creator of all things, that the Bible is infallible and other deeply conservative Christian doctrines such as that the personal return of Christ will bring about “the end of the present age, the judgment and the beginning of the glorious age to come”.

The termination of Tom Oord at Northwest Nazarene University as also tied to his views on evolution, as was the firing of Peter Enns from Westminster Seminary. And there are other departures that are not gaining as much social media attention.

It likely seems odd to non-evangelicals that evolution, creation, and a commitment to the historical Adam and Eve is still a shibboleth in evangelicalism. Ultimately, it’s all about the Bible. More recently, the conversation has turned from, “If you don’t think Adam and Eve really walked the earth, then you’re on a slippery slope to denying the resurrection,” to, “Paul believed in a historical Adam and Eve, so we should, too.”

This is a fairly ridiculous argument because there were all sorts of things that Paul (and everyone in the first century Roman Empire) believed in and didn’t believe in that do not accord with the modern world.

Really, we’re in the midst of a major cultural shift, most adroitly addressed by Charles Taylor in A Secular Age. (It’s on the framework provided by Taylor that Andy Root, David Wood, and I were recently awarded a grant from the Templeton Foundation.) I plan to write more about Taylor’s ideas in coming months, but suffice it to say that he has put his philosophical finger on the very societal forces that are causing old, conservative boards of trustees to fire young, creative professors from evangelical faculties.

This isn’t about evolution versus creation. This is about an old world falling away and a new world emerging. 

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