Dr. Michael Pahl – Dismissed

From “On the Firing of Dr. Pahl” by Zach Schneider and Joshua Steele:

“In August of this year, a few weeks before the beginning of fall classes, [Cedarville] university fired Dr. Michael Pahl for the opinions expressed in his book,The Beginning and The End: Rereading Genesis’s Stories and Revelation’s Visions. In the book, Dr. Pahl argues that the creation stories of Genesis 1-2 are ancient Israelite cosmogonies, narratives written to tell of the origins of the cosmos and explain why things are the way they are. As ancient cosmogonies, they are not to be interpreted as literal historical accounts in the modern sense, but on their own terms, as bold alternatives to all other origin accounts of their day, ‘describing the one true God, his work in the world, and his purpose for humanity and the created order’ (Pahl 2011, 12). It is important to note that Dr. Pahl fully affirms the accuracy of a literal six-day creation and a historical Adam and Eve, based on other references throughout the narrative of Scripture (from genealogies to theological mentions); he simply doesn’t think Genesis 1-2 is the place where that doctrine is best supported.”

(see full text here)

…In addition, please read Melissa Steffan’s article in Christianity Today, “Crisis of Faith Statements.” 

According to Dr. Pahl’s students, colleagues, and readers of his book, the university’s claim that he is unable to concur with the doctrinal statement appears to be false and without basis.  Moreover, it seems as if the proceedings of Dr. Pahl’s dismissal all occurred behind closed doors without any transparency or oversight whatsoever. No one seems to know 1.) what the policy for faculty dismissal is, 2.) if a policy even exists and therefore 3.) whether or not policy was followed in Dr. Pahl’s dismissal. Any and all questions about the matter are being answered with an appeal to a legally-binding settlement which prohibits the release of any information regarding the events leading up to Dr. Pahl’s dismissal.

The university’s only official response is as follows:

“Both parties agree that they desire to avoid publicity with respect to the matters giving rise to this agreement. Nonetheless, they also acknowledge there may, from time to time, be circumstances where it is in a party’s best interests to explain the situation leading up to the agreement for the Faculty Member to be relieved of his teaching duties at Cedarville University. Accordingly, when either party determines it is necessary to make a public statement with respect to these events, the following is to be quoted in full, with no deletion nor additions:

“Dr. Michael Pahl has been relieved of his teaching duties because he is unable to concur fully with each and every position of Cedarville University’s doctrinal statement.  This decision was made following a review by the University administration and trustees prompted by Dr. Pahl’s recent book, The Beginning and the End:  Rereading Genesis’s Stories and Revelation’s Visions.

“Dr. Pahl’s orthodoxy and commitment to the gospel are not in question, nor is his commitment to Scripture’s inspiration, authority and infallibility.  He is a promising scholar and a dedicated teacher, and he will be missed by his colleagues and students.  Nevertheless, the University has determined this decision to be in the best interests of its constituency at this time.”

An insightful comment underneath the Dayton Daily News article on Dr. Pahl’s dismissal provides an informative analysis of the situation:

“The official CU release statement mentions nothing about specifically why he was fired. This is to the University’s benefit and Dr. Pahl’s detriment; it must be tough looking for teaching work if your last employer let you go for reasons that you are legally not allowed to disclose. And, I am sure the “amicable” agreement was made with the understanding that if Dr. Pahl signed this boilerplate statement, he would be allowed to remain on paid leave until he can find other work. With a family to feed and a deadline to find work, I am sure that his signing that statement was the best thing for him personally, but it was very shady of the University to not mention any specifics.

This is an issue of academic freedom, how can other professors teach or trust their administration? They never know when their beliefs will get them hauled in front of a ad hoc secret panel and “released” quietly.

Cedarville has every right to determine its doctrinal boundaries for employees, but legally and morally it should apply these standards consistently, openly, and fairly. They needs to be transparent communication and uniform policy in place for these situations.”

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6 responses to “Dr. Michael Pahl – Dismissed

  1. Pingback: Action Steps – 10/31 « Fiat Lux·

  2. Pingback: Action Steps – 11/2 – A Call to Prayer « Fiat Lux·

  3. Pingback: The Dilemma of Dr. Pahl, Part I: Theories of Freedom « Fiat Lux·

  4. Pingback: The Dilemma of Dr. Pahl, Part II: Balancing the Doctrinal Statement « Fiat Lux·

  5. Pingback: Open Letter to Cedarville Admins and Trustees | Soli Deo Gloria·

  6. Pingback: Open Letter: Joshua Steele ’13 | Let There Be Light·

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