The New York Times reports today on the struggle between Baptist Colleges and the state Baptist conventions that run them. Many people are aware of the conservative resurgence that began in 1979 in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). That resurgence returned the convention’s institutions and seminaries to conservative evangelical principles.
That battle was all but completed in the 1990’s. Now the struggle has moved to the state conventions as various state conventions have tried to return their institutions and colleges to conservative Christian principles. The New York Times covers some recent developments in this ongoing battle for Baptist colleges.
Southern Baptist colleges are affiliated with the state conventions, and it does not make sense to many members of the conventions to provide significant annual subsidies to Baptist colleges that they view as out of tune with conservative positions on central religious tenets, including how to interpret the Bible. “I did feel that Georgetown was not on the same page as most Kentucky Baptists,’’ said Dr. [Hershael] York, who was president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention last year (source).
The heart of the matter is this. If Baptist Colleges want to be subsidized by Baptist churches, then they need to be in harmony with the churches that support them. In other words, they need to be confessional institutions even as they pursue academic excellence. Faithfulness to biblical truth and academic excellence need not be contradictory aims. But too many Baptist college presidents think they are.