Archive for February, 2012

Religious Discrimination at Vanderbilt, Part 3:
Is the Vanderbilt University Administration Disseminating
Misinformation about Its Policies to Repress
Christian Organizations on Campus?

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Religious Discrimination at Vanderbilt, Part 3:
Is the Vanderbilt University Administration Disseminating
Misinformation about Its Policies to Repress
Christian Organizations on Campus?


Dr. Steve Lemke is Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, and McFarland Chair of Theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and the Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry.


This is the third in a four-part series on the religious liberty crisis at Vanderbilt University. The previous articles are –

Part 1: Why Is Vanderbilt University Persecuting Its Christian Students

Part 2: Why Is Vanderbilt Violating the Constitutional Rights of Its Students?


In the first article of this series, we recounted how Vanderbilt University is denying its students their First Amendment Rights to freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of association by forcing Christian campus organizations off-campus unless they remove from their constitutions all Christian beliefs out or requirements for group leaders to hold Christian beliefs. Vanderbilt also denied requirements that leaders of Christian groups be expected to lead in Bible studies, prayer, or worship experiences. Christian groups had to make themselves completely vulnerable to hostile takeovers by anti-Christian groups to retain their registered student group status on the Vanderbilt campus. The second article detailed how these policies violate several First Amendment rights of these students.

In addition to the student protests, Christian groups of many denominations, as well as nondenominational groups, have called for this oppressive policy to be reversed. Some of the most outstanding law school professors and First Amendment rights specialists in the country have written pleading with the Vanderbilt administration to reconsider the policy with at least a modest compromise to allow the Christian groups to continue ministering on campus.

How has the Vanderbilt University administration responded to the furor created by their decision to oppress Christian student groups on its campus? Unfortunately, the Vanderbilt administration has responded with a misinformation campaign to confuse and muddle the issues. Vanderbilt officials have been purveying a series of disingenuous misrepresentations of the truth in defending the policy. In the town hall meeting with students, some Vanderbilt administrators even stooped to compare these Christian groups on campus to racist segregationists (see stories in Fox News and  The Tennessean). This is uncalled for irresponsible language by administrators who should know better. But that is just the beginning of the misinformation campaign. There are at least five major misrepresentations being promulgated by the Vanderbilt administration, which are described in the paragraphs which follow.

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Religious Discrimination at Vanderbilt, Part 2:
Why Is Vanderbilt Violating the
Constitutional Rights of Its Students?

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Religious Discrimination at Vanderbilt, Part 2:
Why Is Vanderbilt Violating the
Constitutional Rights of Its Students?


Dr. Steve Lemke is Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, and McFarland Chair of Theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and the Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry.


This is the second in a four-part series on the crisis of religious freedom at Vanderbilt University. Part 1 was entitled, “Why Is Vanderbilt University Persecuting Its Christian Students?” the series continues tomorrow with Part 3: “Is the Vanderbilt University Administration Disseminating Misinformation about ItsPolicies to Repress Christian Organizations on Campus?


The first article in this series detailed how Vanderbilt University is denying religious liberty to its students by forcing Christian campus organizations off-campus unless they take all Christian beliefs out of their constitutions, as well as removing requirements that leaders of Christian groups hold Christian beliefs. Vanderbilt also denied any expectations that leaders of Christian groups be expected to lead in Bible studies, prayer, or worship experiences. Christian groups had to make themselves completely vulnerable to hostile takeovers by anti-Christian groups to retain their registered student group status on the Vanderbilt campus. Hundreds of Christian students on campus protested the change in policy, but to no avail.

Apparently terrified by a threatened lawsuit from an openly practicing homosexual student who was asked to resign from a Christian fraternity, Vanderbilt University has swung so far in the opposite direction that its current policies appear to be violating at least three First Amendment rights of its students. Its concern for tolerance for sexual preference has made them intolerant toward religious convictions.  It appears to be beyond debate that at Vanderbilt University, sexual orientation issues trump religious liberty issues. Charles Haynes, Senior Scholar at the First Amendment Center described the anti-religious posture of the Vanderbilt administration with these telling words: “In my view, such a policy promotes discrimination in the name of nondiscrimination” (in a recent Tennessean article). Likewise, Robert Shibley, Senior Vice President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, expressed a similar concern in his scathing letter to Vanderbilt administrators:

The message here is clear: Vanderbilt believes that its institutional ideological beliefs should take precedence over students’ own beliefs or consciences, particularly when it comes to its students’ attitudes towards sexual activity. Vanderbilt, as a private university, has the right to demand . . . the modification of student groups’ religious and ideological beliefs to fit those of Vanderbilt administrators. But by doing so, Vanderbilt is effectively creating modified versions of every religion on campus and establishing them as the variant of that religion officially favored by the university. An institution that chooses to take this path can hardly claim to allow its students freedom of religion or association, or to tell students that they “are entitled to exercise the rights of citizens.”

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Religious Discrimination at Vanderbilt, Part 1:
Why Is Vanderbilt University
Persecuting Its Christian Students?

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Religious Discrimination at Vanderbilt, Part 1:
Why Is Vanderbilt University
Persecuting Its Christian Students?


Dr. Steve Lemke is Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, and McFarland Chair of Theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and the Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry.


This is the first of a four-part series on the crisis of religious freedom at Vanderbilt University. Tomorrow is the next article in the series: “Part 2: Why Is Vanderbilt Violating the Constitutional Rights of Its Students?


Some years ago on a mission trip in St. Petersburg, Russia, the student group I was leading went into some of the public schools and hospitals in the area to visit with the Russian students and share their personal testimony of what Christ had done in their lives. As a person who grew up during the Cold War days, it was a stunning moment when it struck me that I did not have the freedom to do in public schools in my own country what we were freely doing in the public schools in this communist country. It was strange that we were experiencing greater religious liberty in this communist country than in our own country whose Constitution guarantees freedom of religion!

Let us go now to Vanderbilt University, which, as Matthew Franck points out in First Things, was founded by a Methodist bishop, and its first chancellor preached sermons in chapel to the early Vanderbilt students. However, the current Vanderbilt Administration has imposed a new regulation on its Christian student organizations which denies them the right to require affirmation of any Christian beliefs as a prerequisite for admission to their fellowship. Vanderbilt is evidently the first university in the nation to create and push such a repressive regulation. As a U. S. Constitutional Free Press headline described it so poignantly, this is “Vanderbilt University’s War on Religious Freedom.” Jason Hoyt, national Executive Director of the Beta Upsilon Chi Christian fraternity, described the situation this way in an opinion column in Fox News:

Once upon a time, American universities encouraged students to create community around common interests and protected the right of student organizations to operate in a manner consistent with their beliefs. But a rising tide of resistance to religious organizations on college campuses, allegedly aimed at reducing intolerance, ironically advances it, fostering an unwelcoming and hostile learning environment for many students and threatening the very existence of religious student organizations.

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An Interview with Kevin Apperson


Kevin Apperson began North Las Vegas Baptist Church in his living room in 2003. He earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from UGA and his MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Elizabeth have five children, the youngest of which has Down Syndrome.


SBC Today: What do you think are the greatest challenges confronting the SBC?

Kevin Apperson: I see several issues that are, and will continue to be, hot-button issues within the SBC. I think that any one of these may be very divisive in the ranks of the SBC, but I also believe in the old maxim that it is “better to be divided by truth than united in error.” In no particular order, here are the issues that I see:

  1. I am afraid that our SBC churches and institutions may be practicing the Great Omission as they seek to perform the great Commission. Matthew 28:19-20 gives us a clear mandate to go into all the world with the gospel AND teach the people ALL THINGS that Jesus commanded. In other words, Jesus seemed to say that salvation through faith in Him was absolutely necessary, but that growth/maturity/sanctification should accompany this salvation. I see a trend in many churches of all sizes in minimizing holiness and accommodating worldliness all for the supposed purpose of sharing the gospel. The book of James tells us that whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. This teaches that our churches should not seek to emulate the carnality of this world in which we live. I have been disappointed in the seminary in which I serve in promoting a man like Mark Driscoll as one who should be emulated by our young pastors. I am disappointed when I see so much emphasis on a carnival like atmosphere as the church goes to extremes in pushing the sex envelope with risqué language that promotes more worldliness than holiness. Salvation is not the end point in the life of the Christian but rather the beginning point. In our quest for seeking the salvation of the world, we have forgotten God‘s command of seeking purity within our lives and abstaining from the leaven that corrupts. The leaven is being accommodated in areas within the SBC, and it takes just a little to do a lot of damage.
  2. The theological understanding of those whom Jesus died for will continue to be an issue. There is a significant difference in understanding the nature and character of God when one approach says that Jesus died for all, and another approach says that He died for a select group known as the elect. I believe that a great majority of Baptists have what I believe is a correct soteriology in confessing that Jesus died for all, and that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Those in the reformed camp believe in a God who was graceful to save some, but who did not make salvation truly possible for the rest. This issue will continue to divide Baptists.

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Monday Exposition Idea:
Against All Odds
(2 Chronicles 20:1-37)

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Monday Exposition Idea:
Against All Odds
(2 Chronicles 20:1-37)


By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.


Introduction

Sir Edward Shepherd Creassey (1812-1878), a noted British lawyer, judge and historian, wrote a book in 1851 titled Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World. In the preface he cited the following line from A. H. (Arthur Henry) Hallam, (1811-1833), “those few battles of which a contrary event would have essentially varied the drama of the world in all its subsequent scenes.” He began with the Battle of Marathon (490 B.C.) and ended with the Battle of Waterloo (A.D. 1815).

Doubtless, the battle mentioned in 2 Chronicles 20 would make a similar list of battles recorded in the Scripture. Dr. Otto Zockler (1833-1906), professor of Theology in the University of Greifswald, Prussia, writes,

Jehoshaphat’s Victory over the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites: ch. xx. 1-30. –And it came to pass after this, after the events related in xviii. 19, which fall perhaps six or seven years before the death of Jehoshaphat, and of which the death of Ahab almost certainly falls in the year 897 B.C. A still more exact date for the present war results from the monument of victory of the Moabitish King Mesha, discovered three years ago [1873], which must have been erected very soon after Ahab’s death, and shortly before the outbreak of the present war, and therefore about 896 B.C.[1]

 

Our text begins with the phrase, “It happened after this” or “It came to pass.” No matter what you face remember, “it came to pass”, as Rev. Richard Baldwin Brindley former pastor of Castle Gate Congregational Church, Nottingham, England (1884-1901), points out.[2]

We will focus our attention upon Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Biblical biographies like this one yield some insight into the life of a believer.

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