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EIGHTY TWO DEPARTURES AND COUNTING

UPDATE – YET ANOTHER LOSS:

Shorter University Departure # 83
Ms. Sandra Terry
Asst. Vice President for Intercultural Services & Programs
10 years of service

Shorter University Departure # 82
Ms. Cynthia McGehee
Director of Student Engagement & Success
3 years of service

Shorter University Departure # 81
Ms. Sallie Samples
Administrative Asst. (Education)
22 years of service

Shorter University Departure # 80:
April Allen, Administrative Asst. (Nursing)
4 years of service

Shorter University departure # 79:
Nathan Young, Head Coach, Lacrosse
2 years of service

Sallie Samples was fired today for not being a “team player” and having “a bad attitude”. After 22 years of working for Shorter, after helping hundreds of students and faculty, Sallie was deemed unsuitable by a Dean of Education that has only been on the campus a few weeks.  Dozens of posts on the Save Our Shorter Facebook page attest to Sallie’s wonderful attitude, her helpful ways and her knowledge of the School of Education. Surely she deserved better than to be given an hour to pack her personal belongings and being escorted off campus. The actions of this administration are not only shameful in the extreme, they reflect a careless attitude toward the integrity of the university. We will miss you, Sallie. You were a much-loved fixture at Shorter!

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Thirty days. Just thirty days until classes begin at Shorter. 

Let’s assume for a moment that Dr. Dowless can replace all of the faculty that Shorter has lost. How prepared is the rest of the campus for carrying out the business of the university? Parents, what sort of difficulty will your child face when trying to get information or help from half-filled departments? What is the margin for error when ill-equipped individuals try to run the institution effectively? 

Core requirement 3.2.9 of the SACS Standards demands that “The institution has qualified administrative and academic officers with the experience, competence, and capacity to lead the institution.” Most of the administration’s recent hires have come after the reaffirmation committee visited the Shorter campus. We certainly hope the recent hires fulfill the requirements imposed by the Standard.

We feel sure that all of the following individuals are good people. Many may come to the Hill with good intentions and a fervor for spreading the Georgia Baptist word.  They are, however, poorly qualified for the job that they have taken.  Wayne Phipps had a reason to be worried and so should anyone dealing with Shorter these days.

In December 2011, James B (Bert) Epting Jr. accepted an offer to become Shorter’s Vice President for Advancement.  He replaced Suzanne Scott, who had departed Shorter after serving as Acting Vice President for Advancement.  If the name “Epting” rings a bell with our readers, perhaps it is because James B. Epting Sr. Is president of North Greenville University, former home of Don Dowless.  After less than two months on the job, Bert decided that he needed to fire some people.  And so he did.

Institutional Advancement –

Mark Tunnell – Director of Alumni Relations; 6 yrs at Shorter, and a Shorter Alumna

Replaced by:

Sheri Ransome – formerly Director of Annual Giving at Samford University. No ties to Shorter which is unfortunate, because she has a very large number of alumni that are not too happy with the new regime.

Jamie Clements – Associate Director of Alumni Relations; Shorter class of 2005. According to the announcement of Jamie’s hire, Jamie brought social media and digital technology experience to the department.

Replaced by:

Neely Raper – Director of Development. Neely is a graduate of Shorter, and has been general manager of an industrial products company. Shorter’s announcement also touts Mr. Raper’s involvement as a volunteer with Ducks Unlimited and his military experience.

Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Dr. Debra Faust – 20-plus years at Shorter. Dr. Faust was transferred to the Atlanta campus and stripped of her title.

Replaced by:

Mr. Corey Humphries – Mr. Humphries came from Charleston Southern University, where he held the position of Assistant Dean of Students for Campus Life. It is important to note that the position at Charleston Southern is not the equivalent of the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students. As noted in a previous post, Mr. Humphries graduated from Charleston Southern in 2004 and received his Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Charleston Southern in 2009. We hardly think that a criminal justice degree qualifies Mr. Humphries for the position that he has been given, however in Shorter’s defense, it does eliminate one more female from an upper level management position. Again, we are sure Mr. Humpries is a good man. It’s just our impression that he’s just ill-equipped for this job.

And then there’s the case of the new Executive Vice President.

According to the announcement about the appointment of Mr. Donald “Skip” Martin,” his responsibilities will include oversight of the institutional strategic planning process and the integration of faith and learning.” Yet in less than a month after he was employed, Skip was promoted to Provost AND Executive Vice President.

Dr. Martin may be qualified as chief academician at Shorter, however we find it strange that after Dr. Craig Shull signed the Personal Lifestyle Statement, after he took the heat for firing Michael Wilson, he, too, was demoted to the Atlanta campus.

 As we have previously noted, Dr. Martin came from Charleston Southern as well. It is customary for a candidate for Provost to appear before the full faculty during the interview process. It is also customary for there to have been a nationwide search for an individual that is second only to the President in the university hierarchy.  Did Shorter advertise the position? Did they interview for an Executive Vice President or did they interview for a Provost?  Why was Dr. Martin named Provost within a few weeks of coming on the Shorter campus? 

There are far more questions than answers here, and perhaps that is at the heart of why Wayne Phipps left.

NEW H.R. DIRECTOR LEAVES

Almost six weeks ago, Shorter hired Mr. Wayne Phipps as director of its Department of Human Resources. Wayne came to Shorter from Oglethorpe University, where he had spent 5 years in the human resources department. Prior to working at Oglethorpe, Mr. Phipps had worked in human resources in the corporate environment.  Mr. Phipps was well-liked by his colleagues at Shorter and there was hope that he would be effective in keeping proper hiring procedure in place. All in all, it seemed like a good match – until last week.

Mr. Phipps has turned in his resignation at Shorter.

Why would someone who had already been on the job for six weeks turn in their resignation? Possibilities abound, but several reasons come to mind.  He could have resigned because he was having trouble with relocation. But in this economy, six weeks is a very short amount of time to expect a home to sell and a commute from Atlanta, while difficult, was something he surely considered before accepting the job. He could have been offered a higher salary by Oglethorpe or some other institution, but Mr. Phipps impresses us as a man of integrity. He might have changed his mind and accepted another position prior to actually beginning at Shorter, but once there, one would think he would honor his commitment.  He is a youth pastor at a GBC church, so surely he would have felt honor-bound to help the GBC and remain at Shorter.

We have heard from numerous sources that the current hiring practices at Shorter are, to say the least, unconventional. We understand that Mr. Phipps was intent on doing things the right way – the LEGAL way. We suspect that Mr. Phipps found the administration’s hiring practices downright unethical.  Background checks have been waived (does no one in administration understand the implications of that?), the “mandatory” interview with Don Dowless to ascertain the “Baptist worthiness” of candidates, candidates, no matter their experience and aptness for jobs, have been hired.

Shorter’s faculty handbook clearly sets forth the procedure for hiring new faculty. All candidates’ information goes through the Human Resources Department. Faculty candidates are to be reviewed by the Dean and faculty of the department. The candidates are interviewed by the Dean or Chair, faculty within the discipline, the Provost, and (when he desires) the President. The candidates present a teaching demonstration for interested students and faculty. Observers are encouraged to complete an evaluation form. As we understand it, many of the steps above are being ignored.

 The President of Shorter is responsible for the hires of all administrative personnel. It is the responsibility of the president to ensure that any hires are done with the highest and best interest of the university in mind. One can reasonably assume that procedures for hiring would follow, at least in form, the written practices for hiring faculty. Positions should be advertised in a variety of newspapers and professional journals, candidates should be vetted for suitability and accuracy of information by the human resources department, qualified candidates should be submitted to the president and selection should include the exposure to, if not the counsel of those individuals whom the position will most directly affect.

When we were in school, one of the most dreaded assignments in any class was to “compare and contrast.”  When comparing and contrasting the credentials of the individuals who have left the university with those of Shorter’s most recent hires, we observe a rather startling gap.

While we are sure that all of the new hires are fine individuals, in the case of the two professorial hires, their education and experience in the teaching field falls far short of their departing colleagues. The new Dean of Education compares favorably in credentials, however she seems to have changed employment far more frequently than most academics do, and we find that troubling. She was at Brewton-Parker from 2004-2008, moved to Charleston Southern Certainly, there is good explanation for such frequent changes. Tenure track usually does not begin at an institution until a professor has taught for at least three years and has been reviewed by their peers.

Faculty:

Only two hires have been reported publicly. It is Shorter’s practice to name all incoming faculty at the beginning of the school year, however we are aware of two individuals.

Communications:

Departing faculty – Allen Dutch 

See Mr. Dutch’s credentials here.

Incoming faculty –

Matthew LeHew We learned of Mr. LeHew’s hire via a tweet on Twitter “I’m excited to announce that at the beginning of August I will be moving to Rome, GA to join the faculty at Shorter University!”  He describes himself on Twitter as “Preacher. Web Designer. BCF Grad. FSU Grad” According to the information on the Baptist College of Florida website, Mr. LeHew graduated from Baptist College of Florida in 2009. He received his Master of Arts at Florida State in 2011. His profile reveals limited teaching and/or field experience in his discipline.

English:

Departing faculty –

 Dr. Sarah Kathryn Cantrell  -assistant professor of English and French. Dr. Cantrell earned a doctoral degree in comparative literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received a Master of Arts degree in French languages and literature from Vanderbilt University and a bachelor’s degree in French and Elementary Education from Centre College.

Dr. Renae Applegate House – assistant professor of English; Writing Center Director. Dr. House  earned a doctoral degree in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Master of Arts in Women’s Studies from State University of New York at Albany, Master of Arts in English from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and has 9 years of teaching experience.

Incoming faculty – Renee Emerson – You may find Ms. Emerson’s credentials here. A Master’s degree and tutoring experience hardly replaces the credentials of the professors who have departed.

Education:

Departing faculty –

Dr. Sandra Leslie Dean of the School of Education Dr Leslie’s academic background includes a B.S. from Pennsylvania State University in Secondary Education (Latin), M.Ed. in Middle Grades Language Arts; and an Ed.D. from the University of South Carolina in Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Leslie taught Latin in the public schools (middle and high school) for many years. Dr. Leslie taught in the Department of Education at Belmont Abbey College (BAC) in Charlotte, North Carolina for eight years before joining the Shorter faculty. She served as Director of Secondary Education and Educational Technology at BAC and taught undergraduate and graduate level education classes. She has worked with the Board of Examiners for Georgia Institutions of Higher Education and served on several institutional review teams for National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). She served Shorter for six years.

Incoming faculty –

Dr. Norma Harper – Rome News Tribune article here.  We hope Dr. Harper will remain at Shorter for a longer period of time than she has at the numerous colleges where she has taught.

Tomorrow, we will look at the administrative replacements at Shorter. It only gets more interesting.

SAVE OBU ADDRESSES SHORTER’S ISSUES

Bruce Prescott is Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptist.According to the Mainstream website:

Dr. Prescott, born in Colorado and raised in New Mexico, has long been active in Texas Baptist affairs.  For the past twelve years he has pastored Easthaven Baptist Church in Houston.  Prescott has served as a member of the Executive Boards of Texas Baptists Committed and the Baptist General Convention of Texas as well as on the Coordinating Council of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.  He has also served as an Adjunct Professor for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at the extension on the campus of Houston Baptist University.  While in Houston, Dr. Prescott’s service was recognized by listings in Who’s Who in Religion, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World.

Baptist distinctives has been Dr. Prescott’s area of greatest expertise.  He has served on the Baptist Distinctives Committee of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and Chaired the Baptist Distinctives Partnership Team of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.  He is a contributor to the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible and has written several articles for Baptists Today, the Texas Baptists Committed Newsletter, and several other periodicals.

Mainstream Oklahoma Baptist describes itself as a mainstream statewide organization combating fundamentalism in Baptist life. You can read more about the organization here.

Jacob Lupfer is the founder of the Save OBU (Oklahoma Baptist University) website. His thoughtful and considered posts about the struggles with the attempted fundamentalist takeover at OBU have been an inspiration to those of us at Save Our Shorter.

We encourage you to watch the whole series that Bruce Prescott has taped with Mr. Lupfer. The following video should be of great interest to SOS readers. Thank you, Jacob, for so clearly stating the concerns attendant to the Shorter takeover.

MAYOR EVIE MCNIECE AND SHORTER

On May 4 of this year, approximately 500 Shorter students, their parents, friends and family, the Shorter Board of Trustees and selected “friends of the university” gathered at Barron Stadium for commencement exercises.

Each attendee was given a commencement program that listed the Shorter Board of Trustees Included in that list was Rome mayor Evie McNiece.  McNiece, who has been very active in the Rome community, and who has served Rome well was not in attendance as a Board member. Perhaps that is because she was not, in fact, on the Board.

This begs the question, “Was Mayor McNiece’s name used to further the appearance of legitimacy of the GBC takeover of Shorter?” Today, the issue is finally addressed in this article in the Rome News-Tribune. 

More updates to come.

 

44 – 32 – 76

44 – 32 – 76

No, that is not a football play; it reflects the numbers of departures at Shorter to date.

 Forty- four faculty members, not counting adjuncts who have refused to contract with Shorter, and 32 staff members, including a number of high-ranking administrators have left. Let us say that again – out of 109 full-time faculty, 44 have departed Shorter.

Forty-four faculty members is a substantially higher attrition rate than Dawn Tolbert, Shorter’s vice president for public relations, told the Christian Index in an article published June 14.  Normal attrition averages between 20 and 25 at the end of spring semester, according to Ms. Tolbert. Must we then assume that 44 faculty members departing Shorter, (not counting all of the adjunct faculty who have chosen not to return) is abnormal?

Since our last update, Shorter has lost the following faculty and staff:

Dr. Renae R. Applegate House                                                                                      Assistant Professor of English                                                                                Writing Center Director — 2 years                                                                                    3 years of service

Professor Brent House                                                                                             Adjunct Professor of English                                                                               Assistant Professor of English                                                                                            2 years of service

 Mr. Mike Bartik,                                                                                                                 Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator, Football.                                             6 years of service.

Richarde McCray                                                                                                                   Assistant Coach                                                                                                                       Men’s Basketball

Jen Haydt                                                                                                                  Assistant Coach                                                                                                           Women’s Cross Country

Paula Brown                                                                                                          Administrative Assistant                                                                                           Center for Teacher Preparation – Riverdale Campus

Abaya Logan                                                                                                                         Associate Librarian                                                                                                                Riverdale Campus

Lynne Moosberg                                                                                                   Instructor                                                                                                             Psychology

Chris G. Hudson                                                                                                       Adjunct Professor, Information Literacy

Stephen Faulkner, Academic Support Specialist, is in charge of scheduling adjunct professors for Shorter. He recently contacted Chris Hudson, who has been teaching STDV 1100 – 21st Century Information Access, to request that he teach another section of the class. The following is the reply sent to Mr. Faulkner.

 Dear Steve:

I am writing to let you know that I cannot currently accept this assignment as offered and furthermore, I am cancelling my previous agreement to teach STDV 1100 to cohort AS312 which I was to have begun on August 6, 2012. Now that I have become aware of the full scope of it, I strongly disagree with the newly instituted “Personal Lifestyle Statement” and I refuse to sign it. The statement as rendered is unfair, immoral and certainly anything but Christ-like as anyone with even an elementary-level understanding of the Beatitudes should be able to attest. The statement also represents a grave attack on the basic principles of academic freedom which ought to be a given at any credible institution of higher learning be it Christ centered or otherwise.  Should President Dowless and the Board of Trustees come to their senses and rescind this policy, I would eagerly consider teaching this course again in an adjunct capacity.

Sincerely,

Chris G. Hudson

** We know there are more adjunct professors out there who have refused contracts. If you are an adjunct who would like to stand up and be counted, please notify us.**

 How are these departures going to affect the future of Shorter? We will look at that question in our next post.

ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK

      Many know that the origins of the Southern Baptist Convention are tied in with slavery and the Civil Rights movement.  The Convention has come a long way in rectifying its divisive views toward slavery and segregation, and now boasts its first black president.  However, the convention wasted no time in starting down a new path of discrimination.  The day after Rev. Fred Luter Jr. was elected, the Convention passed a resolution stating,

We deny that the effort to legalize ‘same-sex marriage’ qualifies as a civil rights issue since homosexuality does not qualify as a class meriting special protections, like race and gender.

Judgmental at heart

          At the heart of this resolution lies an assumption that homosexuality is a behavior, or more specifically, a choice.  As a choice, the Convention feels homosexuality should not be afforded the same protection under the Civil Rights Act as those who would be discriminated against based on race or sex.  We see Jesus breaking down similar judgments and preconceptions in Scripture.  In John 9, Jesus gives a blind man sight.  While doing this, the disciples want to know what sin has caused this man to be blind, for it was common belief that physical illness was the result of God’s disfavor with a person or his family.  Jesus corrects this misguided theology and teaches that this man was born blind and now God’s glory could be shown through healing.  There is no connection with anyone’s sin or conscious choice.  The blind and the leprous would be outcast from society, lower class citizens, because people associated their condition with their assumed sinfulness.  Jesus taught something different.  What if this new resolution is of similar stock as the preconceptions Jesus debunked?

 Troubles in the texts

          We have to take a look at the “proof texts” that the Convention is levying against homosexuality and understand their context and meaning relative to the cultures in which they were written.  This is a painful task, and sometimes very difficult for one with strong feelings toward the issues discussed.  For proper exegesis one must allow the text to speak for itself, illuminate itself, and interpret itself.  The less difficult method of Scripture study, eisegesis, is experienced when we bring our preconceptions into the reading of Scripture.  For example: Ben believes that eating red meat is dangerous for one’s health.  He has spent hours studying and researching and truly believes that red meat is not healthy to consume regularly.  When Ben comes across the book of Leviticus and the dietary restrictions, he brings all of his research, knowledge and preconceptions about red meat into his study.  Therefore, he might read from the text that red meat is unhealthy and to be avoided by all people strictly for health reasons.  This would be a misinterpretation of the Levitical Code, which understands that blood contains the essence of life, and contact with blood would render someone ritually unclean.  Therefore red meat should be avoided if possible.  We must be careful that we are not bringing our traditions and preconceptions to the Scripture, and that instead we are letting Scripture interpret itself in its own cultural context.  Following soon will be a brief paper I have written addressing each of the texts thought to be against homosexuality and gay marriage.  I look forward to sharing it with you.

 Parting thoughts

I would like to leave the readers with a thought.  Never once did Jesus institutionalize His teachings.  Meaning, never once did Jesus try to legislate His morality in secular law.   Never once did Jesus coerce someone in to accepting His Truth.  Regardless of our beliefs, do we honor Him by legislating morality, reducing some to second-class citizens, and ultimately ensuring our own morals are upheld on pain of retribution from a secular organization? I fear we do not.

Respectfully submitted in the Love of Christ Jesus,

jl

 

 

IS THE BIBLE INERRANT?

UPDATE: Our thanks to Bob Allen at Associated Baptist Press for covering this story.

On June 24, 2012 Dr. Wm. Richard Kremer of Garden Lakes Baptist Church in Rome, GA. preached a powerful message on Biblical inerrancy. So few pastors have spoken out against the fallacy of the Shorter administration’s Personal Lifestyle Statement, we felt compelled to contact Dr. Kremer and ask his permission to share this message with our readers. He graciously agreed and sent us the manuscript of the sermon as well. Dr. Kremer points the Way to Truth and Light.

You may also watch the sermon by clicking here.

Thank you, Dr. Kremer, for your wisdom, your courage and for speaking the truth.

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Is the Bible Inerrant?                    Mark 16: 1-8; Luke 24: 1- 9

 Few words in the last thirty years have caused more mischief than the little adjective “inerrant.”  “Inerrant” would seem to be a perfectly fine word that when applied to the Scriptures appears to guarantee the authenticity and accuracy of the Bible.  Yet I tell you plainly, the word “inerrant” has been misused and manipulated.   Indeed, it would be fair to say that the sundering and destruction of the Southern Baptist Convention could be attributed to the manipulation of this single word – inerrant.   This word has in fact done horrendous damage to the character of the Bible – and ruined countless lives.  The cause of Christ is being damaged by its use even now.  Yet “inerrant” continues to be employed frequently with reference to the Bible, usually by those who do not understand its implications.   Not surprisingly, Shorter University’s new “Statement of Faith,” begins with the declaration, “We believe the Bible . . . is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.”   My question to those who penned that document is, “What do you mean by that term?”

Some years ago, the late Adrian Rogers, one of the architects of the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC, was asked exactly that question:  “What does inerrancy mean?”   He answered:  “It means the Bible is truth without mixture of error historically, philosophically, scientifically and theologically.”  The conservative scholar Paul Feinberg has offered a fuller exposition.  He said that inerrancy is the claim that “when all of the facts of are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be without error in all that they affirm to the degree of precisions intended, whether that affirmation relates to doctrine, history, science, geography, geology, etc.”  Give these gentlemen their due:  they were at least crystal clear in their definitions.  But they were making claims about the Bible that the Bible does not make for itself.

Simply put, the Bible is not a history book.  It certainly contains history – a lot of history, in fact – but the  Bible’s history concerns the history of humanity’s encounter with God and with the revelation of God in Christ.  The Bible does not intend to offer a chronicle of historical events in the same way an account of the American Civil War is a history book.   The Bible is not a philosophy book. It contains philosophy – the book of Ecclesiastes, for example, has been hailed as one of the most incisive philosophical statements ever penned.  But the Bible’s purpose is not to articulate any particular philosophy.  The Bible is not a science book. Those who assert that the Bible is correct in its teachings on geology grossly misinterpret the Bible’s purpose.  The writers of the Scripture had no idea that some endeavor of inquiry called geology existed!  The Bible makes but one clear and profound statement about the world:  that God is the origin of all creation — in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth — and all reality owes God a debt for the gift of its existence.   But the Bible has absolutely no interest in offering a scientific explanation for how God brought this heaven and earth into being. The Bible says WHO created the universe.  It offers no explanation as to HOW this process of creation occurred.  Anyone who doubts the veracity of this observation need only examine the first two chapters of Genesis.  In the creation account of Genesis, chapter one, God creates everything in the world, then creates humanity last.  In Genesis, chapter two, God creates humanity first, then creates the remainder of the natural order.  The brilliant editor who brought those two accounts into one sacred text was fully aware of the discrepancies in the accounts – but he did not care!  He was not offering a scientific explanation for how reality came to be; he was simply offering the theological observation that all that is owes its life unto God.  When you try to turn the Bible into a scientific text, you misuse God’s word.

You might be wondering, ‘Dr. Kremer, why does it matter?  Why even bring this topic to the fore?’   Because it matters how you use the Bible.  I don’t want young people thinking they have to discard their faith because some scientist has made a discovery that seems to contradict some Biblical principle.  I don’t want a scientist having to put his/her brain on ice because his/her discoveries contradict what the Bible allegedly teaches about one scientific discipline or another.  A recent science professor at a local university had to leave his faculty post, complaining that the administration had instructed him on what theories concerning creation he ought to teach – even though there was no empirical data to support their claims.  Why would administrators with no scientific training be trying to teach scientists how to teach science?  Because, they think of the Bible as a scientific book that reveals to us the age of the earth as only six thousand years old.  (Looking out on the congregation, I suspect some of ya’ll are older than that!)  Essentially, this college administrator was instructing his scientist to turn a blind eye to the fossil records, to ignore the evidence of geological shifts and continental drifts, to pay no attention to the pottery shards – all of which make the point that six thousand years is but a sliver of human existence on this earth, much less the history of the earth as a whole.  Again, let’s be clear on this point: when you try to turn the Bible into a science book, you misuse God’s Word.

Why do people try to regard the Bible as a science text or a philosophy book or a history book?  It is because they hold to a particular view of Biblical inspiration, a perspective that says the Bible came into being through plenary verbal inspiration.  Succinctly expressed,  the doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration says, “God said it, and humanity wrote it down.”  (Incidentally, that is how Muslims view the Koran as having come into being.) There are a few passages in the Bible that suggest plenary verbal inspiration.  For example, God dictates to Moses the Ten Commandments and Moses writes them down.  But think of something as simple as Psalm 16.  God would have to be pretty egotistical to be dictating to David, “Praise the Lord!  O give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever!”   Can you imagine God dictating unto David in Psalm 121:  “I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From whence does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  Surely God is not so insecure as to bother dictating words of praise about Himself for us to write down?  When the Psalmist exclaims “The Lord is my shepherd,” he is giving evidence that he has experienced the living God profoundly in the midst of his life.  His spirit swells up with joy so he can share his experience of God with others.  He is not simply recording a speech that God dictates into his head

Go back to the argument that scholar Feinberg offered regarding inerrancy:  the Bible is inerrant in its original autographs.  That’s very convenient.  For no one has never seen the Bible’s original autographs.  Do you know why?  They don’t exist!   There is not some dusty original Biblical manuscript hiding in some obscure cave in Israel.  The Bible came into being over a period of centuries.  Its pages originated in diverse places and in diverse times.  The Old Testament existed in oral tradition for centuries, passed down from generation to generation before it was ever recorded in print.  When it was printed it was preserved in a variety of places in a variety of versions.  There is no such thing as an original autograph for the Bible, and to claim such a manuscript is the basis for the inerrancy of Scripture is intellectually dishonest.  ‘

So, when the Shorter University statement of faith declares, “We believe in the inerrant and infallible Word of God,” is that true?  Yes – yes, in a way.  For when the Bible is talking about the character of God, the Bible is indeed inerrant.  When the Bible is talking about the nature of redemption, the Bible is absolutely infallible.  When the Bible is presenting the revelation of God in Christ, we can trust that information with perfect confidence – for such is precisely the Bible’s purpose.  It is for these matters the Bible is intended to be used and consulted.   The Bible is a book about redemption, and on this point the Bible is indeed inerrant.   During one of our Vacation Bible School convocations a couple of weeks ago, our children’s minister Susan West-Colding asked the children why we did a pledge to the Bible.  A young voice answered, “Because it tells us about God.”  Yes!  Yes!  The Bible tells us about God, tells us about redemption, tells us about the love of Christ and how to live in right relationship with the divine.  On that score the Scriptures are pristine and true.

But these subjects are concerned with an entirely different ambit than geology or geography!

Ponder for a moment the texts I read to you this morning.  Think on the four versions of the resurrection.  There is not a lot of difference among them as to who goes to the tomb:  Matthew says “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary,” Mark says, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome.  Luke adds the name of Joanna to the list.  John mentions only Mary Magdalene.  But who meets the women there?  Matthew says an angel met them inside the tomb.  Mark mentions no angel but speaks of a young man dressed in a white robe.  Luke says that two men dressed in dazzling apparel were there to greet them.  John testifies that Mary Magdalene didn’t even enter the tomb, and the only one who met her there was Jesus.  In Mark’s account the women leave the empty tomb and don’t tell anyone what they have heard.  In Luke’s account they go straightway and tell their news, but the apostles don’t believe them.

My point to you is this: it is precisely these small details of difference that undermine the concept of inerrancy.  If God were dictating to writers the record of something as important as the resurrection, God wouldn’t be dictating differing versions to different writers.  God wouldn’t have been giving conflicting accounts.  Each writer reflects the different traditions, witnesses and influences to which he was exposed.  The truth is, none of these accounts may have matters exactly right.  But all four accounts are exactly right on their main point:  God raised Jesus from the dead!  All four accounts are right in saying that our God is a God of resurrection power, and that we live in hope because our God through Christ has defeated death.  The fact that one version of the resurrection speaks of one angel and one version speaks of one man and one version speaks of two men and one version speaks of none  — such niggling differences do not matter to the authenticity and importance of the message.  The message is, our God is a God of resurrection power through whom we have hope beyond death.  On this point the Scriptures are infallible.

 I tell you plainly, you can find differences in the Scriptures, even with regard to the same event.  For example, in Matthew’s version of Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s slave, the centurion himself comes to Jesus to ask for healing help.  In Luke’s version of the same healing, the Jewish elders come on behalf of the centurion to ask Jesus for help with regard to his slave.  What really matters to the centurion’s slave is that Jesus had compassion on him and healed him.   According to Mark, Jesus is leaving Jericho when he encounters blind Bartimaeus.  In Luke,  Jesus is entering Jericho when he encounters blind Bartimaeus.   All that matters to blind Bartimaeus is that Jesus gave him his sight!  What matters to us is that Jesus gives us our sight and has compassion on us in our weakness and in our need.

The Bible is not a science book.  The Bible is not a history book. The Bible is not a philosophy book.  The Bible is a book that tells us about God.    Moreover, the Bible never claims perfection for its words.  The Bible claims perfection only for the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.    Indeed, the pledge that many of us have been making to the Bible since we were children in VBS years (or even decades ago) still holds true.   “I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s Holy Word. I will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path and will hide its words in my heart, that I might not sin against God.”  That’s the Scriptures’ purpose and power.  When we have lost our way in life, the Word illumines our path.  When we are not sure how we should conduct ourselves, the Word is our lamp and our guide.   When we are desperate for a word of encouragement, the Word offers us the way and words of life.  And if we follow these words and hide them in our heart, they will lead us rightly.  Of that we can be certain.

Dr. Wm. Richard Kremer

June 24, 2012

CHANGES

FACULTY DEPARTURE UPDATE:

#68: Dr. Katherine Weeks
Assistant Professor of Biology
1 year of service

#69: Dr. Kimberly A. Hays
Assistant Professor of Biology
1 year of service

ADJUNCT FACULTY
Dr. Joe Bill Campbell

UPDATE: We cannot keep up with Dr. Dowless’s new hires from his former schools. Mr. Corey Humphries, named in December as assistant dean of students for campus life at Charleston Southern University is joining Shorter. Mr. Humphries replaces Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Dr. Debra Faust, who has been transferred to the Atlanta Campus.

Dr. Faust has served Shorter ably for over 20 years. Mr. Humphries is a 2004 graduate of Charleston Southern and earned his Masters degree in Criminal Justice from Charleston Southern in 2009.

_______________________________________________________

Save Our Shorter does not normally comment on news releases from the Rome News-Tribune on new hires or organizational changes occurring at Shorter, however we do monitor such releases.

During the past several months we have noted new additions to the faculty and administration and have noted a troubling pattern.

  • Three of the past five hires -Executive Vice President (who is also the newly named Provost), Dean of the School of Education, and Vice President of Advancement, have come from either North Greenville University or Charleston Southern University or had close personal connection with one of the institutions. (Mr. Epting’s father is the president of North Greenville.) Both institutions are former employers of President Don Dowless and are schools closely affiliated with Shorter trustee Carlisle Driggers, who is former Executive Director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
  •  The new Assistant Professor of English, has no formal teaching experience and lists her former job on her LinkedIn profile as Secretary at the Southern Baptist School of Theology.
  •  The new HR Director? He serves as the youth pastor of Hurt Road Baptist Church in Smyrna- Nelson Price’s stomping grounds.

We read with dismay on RN-T of the consolidation of the School of Sciences and Mathematics and the College of Arts and Sciences. Surely Shorter would not realign the School to lessen the work of Dr. Craig Allee, and put it under the direction and control of a communication arts professor! As with the appointments noted above, however, Save Our Shorter had no intention of posting this change until we noticed that the article was at the top of RN-T’s Most Read Stories and had received over 800 views. Why would an article that would be ignored by most of the reading public draw that many views?

Then we read the comments that RN-T readers had posted.

A poster by the name of DisgruntledAlumni has posted some information about a flash mob that occurred in the Shorter dining hall this past spring. The poster provided a link to a YouTube video that was apparently shown on the Shorter internal TV channel. The link shows Dr. Sabrena Parton, the new Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and co-author and co-director of the new Christ Centered Critical Thinking initiative, leading a group of students in a flash mob.

In the video, students are dancing to a song called Party Rock Anthem by a group named LMFAO. As one RN-T poster noted, there is little chance that the students who were participating in the flash mob didn’t know what the acronym LMFAO stands for. There is also little chance that at least the majority of them didn’t know the lyrics to the song.

As distressing as the video is, there is another issue that we would submit is far more important. The video could easily be dismissed by some as an action that was not clearly thought out or thoroughly vetted. It could be that the claim will be made that no one except an RN-T poster found this lapse in judgment a big deal. While incredibly stupid and contrary to the current administration’s contention that they are carrying Shorter back to its Christian (read fundamentalist Georgia Baptist) roots, what we find more disturbing is what happened in the aftermath of this production.

We could not help but wonder if there had been no objection to the song and the group, by either faculty or students, and so we have done a bit of research. We have been told by several sources that indeed, a student who was in the cafeteria at the time (but not a part of the flash mob) was so outraged by this insult to the concept of Christ-centered critical thinking that they took a copy of the lyrics to a Shorter administrator and complained.(We have confirmed this with the student.) We presume that the administrator reported it to upper administration.

Instead of validating the student’s concerns, and probing the incident that had been reported, the administration dismissed the student’s concerns as unimportant. Copies of the lyrics were purportedly sent to Dr. Don Dowless, Dr. Craig Schull and Dr. Sabrena Parton. Did no one in upper administration find the song so objectionable that action was taken? The only actions we have seen is the promotion of said dean to a loftier position within the University and the demotion of the reporting administrator and Provost Schull to the Atlanta campus.

Irony indeed!

My Story About Shorter University

My name is Jacob Bean and I’m a college graduate.

I had planned on transferring to Shorter University in the Fall after receiving a full ride to the institution.

Being the son of missionaries, my parents don’t have the income to put me through college, therefore I was stoked to find out I had received one of ten full rides.

I was born and raised in Atlanta, but moved around in my later teenage years with my parents. We currently live in North Dakota where they do mission work with Native Americans. I recently graduated with two associate degrees and had planned on transferring to finish my Bachelors Degree.

I recently started hearing murmurings about the lifestyle statement at Shorter. Being gay, it really bothered me, but I figured I could be the change they so desperately need.

After much consideration, I no longer believe that I can attend or accept a full-ride to a university that has such a close-minded view. I’m all about love, equality and acceptance. I don’t think Jesus would acted the same way or have fired someone for being gay – he would have accepted and loved them. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I want to be proud of the university I attend and be a proud alumni – I don’t think I could ever be proud of Shorter University.

Another thing that has really worried me has been the large exodus of faculty and staff from the University. With all of the teachers leaving, the quality of education must be lacking. I want a good education not one that is being taught by brand new teachers.

The university also lied straight to my face. I’ve been trying to contact the VP of Enrollment for past few weeks because I won’t be able to attend the orientation for transfer students due to a conflict in scheduling. I was told multiple times that John Head was out of town, on vacation, sick or had stepped out of the office, when in fact he had resigned at the end of May. They never told me that.

Its sad that an institution of higher learning, especially an liberal arts school, would be so close-minded.

As a gay person and advocate for love and acceptance, I can’t attend Shorter University.

I hope other students will follow in my footsteps, so that Shorter University understands what they have done isn’t the Christian thing to do.

On the flip side, I now have to find another university to attend; with it being mid-summer, many institutions have closed registration. The chances of getting scholarships this late in the year are slim to none as well. It’s a big bummer. I’m frustrated and saddened.

Thought my story should be heard.

Thanks,

Jacob Bean

MICHAEL WILSON TERMINATED

UPDATE: Two more departures.

A complete list of those who have departed may be found here.

Departure #64
Dawn Garrett, Director of Accounting Services
6 years of service

Departure #65
Dr. John Head
Vice President of Enrollment Management
10+ years of service
Shorter Class of 1987

UPDATE: Please see our new tab, Right Religion for some thoughts for this Sunday.

Michael Wilson is gone. Shorter administration terminated him as of May 31. You may read Mr. Wilson’s story here. He did not want to leave. He loved his job. He was, at the age of 50, working on his doctorate so that he could better serve his students. He was a tenured faculty member who has served Shorter and her students for fourteen years.

Despite the careless journalism on the part of some of the media who claimed otherwise, Mr. Wilson did not resign. He returned his contract with the phrase regarding homosexuality struck out from the Personal Lifestyle Statement. One can do many things, but they cannot change what God creates them to be.

When, on May 3, 2012 he returned his contract to the Shorter Provost, he also sent a letter to Shorter President, Dr. Don Dowless.

Dear Dr. Dowless:

Please find enclosed for your reference a copy of my signed employment contract for the 2012-2013 school year; the original document has been submitted to the Provost’s office. As you can see, I have redacted Clause 10; I believe, for reasons that should be obvious, that the provisions therein constitute a grave violation of the principles of academic freedom and tenure, core values in academe that were formerly embraced by the University’s administration.

I am aware of your intent to dismiss anyone, regardless of tenure status, who may express any disagreement with these provisions. Nevertheless, I would like to appeal to you, as a fellow academic, to reverse this significant departure from academic norms by creating an atmosphere in which faculty can teach and students can learn, without these ideological restrictions.

Should you be unwilling to reconsider your stance, I ask that you extend to me the courtesy of informing me as promptly as you can that my services will no longer be required. It is my hope that I may at least work until my present contract expires on May 31, 2012; I genuinely care about the library, my students, and the well-being of the University, and I am concerned that my sudden departure would create hardship for all involved.

Sincerely,

 Michael Wilson

For 20 days Mr. Wilson waited. He had begun his career as a librarian with Shorter. It had been his intent to retire from Shorter.

 A letter from then-Provost Dr. Craig Shull appeared in Mr. Wilson’s mail box on May 23. The text of the letter:

 Dear Michael,

Shorter hereby accepts your resignation effective May 31, 2012.

We wish you the best of luck in the future.

Sincerely,

Dr. Craig Shull, Provost.

Two lines after 14 years of committed service. Two lines.

Mr. Wilson responded to Dr. Shull’s letter on May 24.

Dear Dr.Shull,

I have received your letter of May 22 in which you stated that Shorter had accepted my resignation. I am puzzled as I have not resigned from my position as Off-Campus Librarian and I have no intention of doing so. I am not aware that any of the documents that I have recently sent to your office would remotely suggest my intention to leave my job voluntarily. If I am to be dismissed for having spoken out in favor of academic freedom, please let me know as soon as possible. Otherwise please update your records to reflect my status as a continuing tenured faculty member.

Yours,

Michael Wilson

Later in the week, he received the following from Dr. Dowless.

Dear Michael,

Shorter has received your letter of May 3, 2012, wherein you requested to work through your contract date of May 31, 2012. Dr. Shull sent you a letter acknowledging your resignation, and you have now written an email stating that you had not resigned. Shorter had not received a valid, fully-executed contract for continued employment. Since you have not returned a valid contract, you do not have a contract for the upcoming academic year.

Shorter appreciates your services to the University and students and wishes you well in the future.

Sincerely,

Dr. Don Dowless

It should be noted that Mr. Wilson, in his role as Off-Campus Librarian, served a constituency that, according to the Shorter Fact Book, is comprised of only 25% Baptist-affiliated students. It should also be noted that the largest sector of students in the off-campus programs are in the 40-49 age group.