Saturday, January 27, 2007

Shedding Tears for a Frightening Example of Today's Baptist Seminary Student

Wade Burleson's Grace and Truth blog is a site I check daily. I not only enjoy his writing style, his content is edifyingly provocative. By that I mean that he nearly always challenges me to think more deeply.

If you follow a blog as active and conversational as Wade's for very long, you begin to get to know something about the people who frequently comment.

For months, I have read the comments of one who, until he was literally forced out of the closet by Wade a couple of days ago, was known only as volfan007. (If you take just a second to Google the very unique pseudonym, you quickly notice the he is a fairly prolific commentator on a variety of blogs.) When threatened with the loss of the privilege to comment on Grace and Truth, volfan finally began signing his comments simply as David. That, and I suspect, a more thorough email to Wade detailing a bit more that a single name, has apparently been enough for him to be allowed to continue.

1. A study of volfan's posts on a variety of blogs reveals a dependence on formulaic, almost code word language that reflects some period of time spent in an environment of paranoia and indoctrination. There are many observable points in his writing where I wonder if the words are any longer his own. They seem to echo mantra type phrases that are apparently deeply believed but maybe not understood well enough to articulate in his own words.

Southern Baptist seminaries have strayed from their role as academies of higher education in theology and other ministry fields. They have become doctrinal "concentration camps" where individuals excel not by bringing the best of their creative minds to understanding God but by being willing to accept the party list of who are the right theologians and who are the wrong theologians, learn the right theologians pet phrases, and regurgitate the correct position when cued. A theological position held by a theologian on the right list is accepted without question while positions held by theologians on the wrong list seem to be dismissed so quickly and with such scorn, it causes me to doubt that the depth of serious examination that would be required has been brought to bear.

2. While holding fast to the legitimate position that scripture is literal and inerrant, there is the habit of writing as if his interpretation and understanding of scripture is equally inerrant therefore rendering any idea that conflicts with his understanding automatically liberal heresy.

Seminaries apparently are doing little to help its graduates distinguish between an opinion of a pastor or pastor in training and the Bible. Humility is a rare commodity among graduates of the last decade. Ask anyone who has served on a pastor search committee recently.

3. I believe the previous observation to be a corollary of the seminaries and recent seminarians apparent obsession with authority -- particularly their own. There is an inordinate focus on an almost Darwinian hierarchy in which those who have climbed over the most backs to get to the top of the organizational food chain of denominational institutions are genuflected to and deferred to regardless of even obvious injustice and obfuscation. The wannabes of the student body will excuse almost anything except a sexual indiscretion (and occasionally even those) on the part of the guys who have made it to the top.

4. Misogyny is veiled in platitudes posing as respect for women. Many, though thankfully not all, graduates of the last decade that I have met fairly drip with condescension when speaking to women in the church about theological issues. One who would be called a man of God has the audacity to patronize serious Christian women referring to "preacherettes" and "deaconettes" and apparently believes that this is what Jesus would call them because these woment are threatening the "rule" of men in the home and the church. The fear of women in seminaries is almost palpable.


Charles said...

I will no longer respond to "Wizards Behind a Curtain". Anonymous posting caused obvious and unnecessary confusion. Registering for a blogger identity even without writing a blog is too safe and too easy to fail to do. So come out of the closet and let's talk.

Anonymous said...
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Alycelee said...

I repeatedly asked Volvan to stop referring to women pastors as preacherettes and women deacons as deaconettes. It is condescending, no matter what stance you take on the issue.
Of course he refused. Perhaps a call to repent from a woman is 'less' important and not something to be seriously considered.

I've been noting your comments and enjoy them.

Anonymous said...

I seriously weighed the exact arguments prior to enrolling in a Seminary. Thus, the nearly 5 year search before finally biting the bullet to complete my education at Southern Seminary.

I see the most trouble with indoctrination among the younger seminarians here, those who have yet to discover their own identity much less a solid theological position.

For those of us who are older (30 something..pushing 40 something) indoctrination is less of a concern. We have a few more decades in identity building and our opinions are usually more articulate. So far, I have not faced the fear of indoctrination at Southern. Although it is clear that a certain theological position is present here. But the professors I have had the privilege of getting to know on a personal level show only respect.

In fact, to regurgitate pat theological answers is discouraged. Rather, if one's arguments are well formed...even if it contradicts...then there is still respect given.

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