What’s Going On (Occurrence):
Over the course of last year, Bible department faculty invested significant time and effort into developing curriculum for a Theology Major. Those members of the faculty who were most involved were excited about the new major and opportunities it would provide to students. The Bible department voted and passed the major nearly unanimously; the entire university faculty did likewise. When the major proceeded to the Board of Trustees for a vote, the board unanimously rejected Theology as a new major. When pressed, the Board said that not enough students showed interest in the major, though, when surveyed, 10% of the student body said they would have considered majoring in Theology. This number is higher than the number of people participating in the Pharmacy program, which is both undergrad and graduate.
Why It Matters (Relevance):
There is not an adequate explanation for rejecting the Theology Major. Several questions must be asked regarding the Theology Major and these questions overlap with and stem from the same issues that resulted in the firing of Dr. Pahl.
Was the Theology Major rejected because a conservative Board of Trustees fears students and professors studying theology?
Has the Board of Trustees decided permanently that the Theology major will be rejected?
Was financial concern the primary reason for rejecting the Theology Major?
What is the compelling reason for rejecting the major, especially since rejecting a major is unprecedented and any action denying a department’s curriculum proposal is rare?
Why is there secrecy surrounding this issue?
Does the Board of Trustees aim to develop the Bible department to be fundamentalist or robustly evangelical?
Have Bible department professors been treated fairly and in this process?
Will there be room for students to wrestle with difficult theological questions, or must the peripheral issues of the doctrinal statement determine classroom discussion?
Let there be light.