T. Michael Law is blogging again (as several others have mentioned this morning). You can find his writings here. He resumes the art by wisely explaining how “academic freedom” works in a confessional institution to those who seem quite unaware in a post titled, “Easy does it: A suggestion for the Rollston uproar”. For those who may be unaware Chris Rollston of Emmanuel Christian Seminary (ECS) wrote an article for the Huffington Post critiquing the “biblical value” of the marginalization of women (see “The Marginalization of Women: A Biblical Value We Don’t Like to Talk About”). The suggestion that the Bible could be misguided in what it teaches upset some people at ECS and Rollston’s job in being threatened. Several of Rollston’s colleagues have made public denouncements of ECS for lacking academic freedom, but Law suggests that attacking ECS over their lack of academic freedom is to miss the point entirely.
Law reminds readers that ECS’s main commitment is not to the ideal of academic freedom, but to education in the context of a “specific theological confession in which they wholeheartedly believe.” Rollston’s job is threatened not because his words offend donors (alone) but because most faculty, administration, and those donors shared a vision for what the school should teach and why it exist.
Every school where I have studied has had some sort of confessional statement. While I agree with those who are upset about rigorous dogma that prevents people from being given the space to think openly about this or that I agree with Law that those who attack these schools on the basis of “academic freedom” fail to understand why these schools operate in the first place. One may think they should close their doors forever because they fail to offer “a real education,” but that is not the point (and those institutions don’t care about what you think). I recommend reading Law’s post for the insights he provides and then saving his blog to your reader/feed.