February 26, 2013

Louisiana College: Students Survive… Will Faculty?

Rondall Reynoso

There has been a lot of fuss recently about Calvinism and Louisiana College. The administration has notified three faculty members with Calvinistic leanings that they will not receive contracts. As a result three students blogged about their concern over the issue. This ignited a social media and blogging fire storm that has recently made its way to some major blogs like Patheos. Then the administration cracked down. There have been accusations of draconian measures taken by the administration to squelch free speech. The three students were brought up on charges of “making disparaging comments” against the College. Further, at the special called Board of Trustees meeting held yesterday, the press, both secular and Baptist, was banned from the campus.

Louisiana College

The good news in all this is that the students have survived. The administration has dropped the charges with only small requirements. I should say most of the students. One withdrew last week to avoid the potential negative affects on his academic record. To my mind, this is good news. These students should be allowed to express their disagreement with, well, anything.

But, that still leaves us with the question of the professors. Three professors have been notified that they will not receive contracts for next year. While the reasoning has not been released, it seems clear that it is due to their Calvinistic theology. Unfortunately, I am afraid these professors will not survive at LC. While I have argued that Aguillard does not care one whit about the issue of Calvinism, he is playing on a real bias within the Louisiana Baptist Convention. It seems that there are those within the convention who will only be satisfied if LC takes a strong anti-Calvinistic stance. I’m not a Calvinist but Calvinism is within the pale of orthodoxy. One can hold to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and hold to Calvinistic Soteriology. I pray that the powers that be at Louisiana College, within the Louisiana Baptist Convention, and within the Southern Baptist Convention can learn to take a more grace filled approach to theological differences. I also pray that these faculty are able to find positions where this sort of silly gamesmanship does not affect them being able to put food on the table for their children. I think it is time that the world knew us by our love for one another not our ability to cause harm to each other.

Rondall Reynoso

Rondall is an artist, scholar, and speaker. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. He holds an MFA in Painting and an MS in Art History from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY and is completing a Ph.D. in Art History and Aesthetics from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.

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