If you haven’t read my previous two blog posts, “Cedarville, Let there be Light. (pt. 1 and pt. 2),” please go do so before reading this post.
Summary: I’ve been blogging in order to raise awareness of Cedarville University’s recent dismissal of Dr. Michael Pahl from his teaching post. Using the University’s statement on Dr. Pahl, I’ve raised some uncomfortable questions that I believe need to be asked in this situation. For example:
- Why were the five accolades attached to Dr. Pahl above (in the statement, orthodox, gospel, Scripture, scholar, teacher) not enough to keep him on the teaching faculty of Cedarville University?
- Don’t we want promising scholars and dedicated teachers who are committed to the gospel, to Scripture, and to orthodoxy at Cedarville University? If not, why not?
I’m writing today because the responses I’ve gotten to those posts and questions have been mixed. Some think I’m doing something that is both righteous and necessary, respectfully raising awareness and asking uncomfortable-yet-necessary questions. Others think I’m being un-biblical and disrespectful in my approach, and that I should handle these matters privately (cf. Matt 18:15-22 and such).
Clearly, I’m a bit biased toward the first reaction. It’s always more pleasant to think of your actions as both righteous and necessary, after all. However, that doesn’t negate the careful line to walk in this situation. Several things must be held in Christ-honoring tension, such as boldness and respect, honesty and love, persistence and patience, a hunger for justice and an even stronger craving for God’s perfect shalom peace. Continue reading “An Explanation”
Read Part One
Further Questions, All Relating to the University Statement on Dr. Pahl’s Dismissal:
- If Dr. Pahl’s book, The Beginning and the End, was controversial enough to lead to his dismissal, why was the book allowed to be used as a textbook last school year?
- Shouldn’t we trust the Bible professors’ judgment in their selection of the book as a text?
- If we should, then was it worth firing Dr. Pahl over a book which other CU professors approved of enough to require as a text for their courses?
- If not, why not? Why don’t we trust these highly-trained men and women as an institution? Shouldn’t they be a resource instead of a feared danger? Does this potential fear have anything to do with Dr. Pahl being dismissed?
- Do all members of the Board of Trustees agree with “each and every position of Cedarville University’s Doctrinal Statement” in the way Dr. Pahl was expected to in order to still be allowed to teach?
- If he was dismissed, despite the apparent alignment of his personal views and those expressed in his writing to the Doctrinal Statement, is there a possibility that some of the trustees should also be dismissed according to such strict standards?
- Was Dr. Pahl dismissed for something that wrote which contradicts the Doctrinal Statement? If so, what was it exactly that he wrote? (I have been unable to find anything in The Beginning and the End)
- If Dr. Pahl was not fired for something he wrote, was he fired for something that he didn’t write? Again, if so, what was it exactly that he didn’t affirm?
- Furthermore, is firing someone for not affirming something fair? Are all professors required to affirm the Doctrinal Statement in its entirety in everything they write and/or publish?
- What is the administration’s vision for the future of the Bible Department at Cedarville University?
- How does firing an orthodox, promising scholar who is committed to Scripture and to the gospel help to achieve that vision?
- Has Dr. Pahl been cared for by the University in any way during this process? As our brother in Christ, have we dismissed him in a way that is honoring to God and helpful to him and his family?
- What explanation has been given to the students who have been affected by Dr. Pahl’s dismissal (i.e. the ones registered for his classes)? Has that explanation been accurate and forthright?
- Are any other professors currently being considered for dismissal by the University for things they have written and published?
(CONTINUED: An Explanation)
“Dr. Michael Pahl has been relieved of his teaching duties because he is unable to concur fully with each and every position of Cedarville University’s doctrinal statement. This decision was made following a review by the University administration and trustees prompted by Dr. Pahl’s recent book, The Beginning and the End: Rereading Genesis’s Stories and Revelation’s Visions.
Dr. Pahl’s orthodoxy and commitment to the gospel are not in question, nor is his commitment to Scripture’s inspiration, authority and infallibility. He is a promising scholar and a dedicated teacher, and he will be missed by his colleagues and students. Nevertheless, the University has determined this decision to be in the best interests of its constituency at this time.”
Continue reading “Cedarville, Let there be Light. (pt. 1)”
(Read Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 first!)
CREATION AND REDEMPTION: CHRIST AND NEW CREATION
Throughout the New Testament, the main use of creation theology is to link creation with redemption, resulting in the praise of the Creator through the Creator-Redeemer, Jesus the Messiah. However, the linked concepts of creation and redemption have a rich OT history. For example, cited impetuses for keeping the Sabbath are Yahweh’s creative work (Exod 20:11) and his redemptive work (Deut 5:15), revealing a close connection between the two actions. The logic behind this correlation is one of continued creation: Yahweh is personally invested in the success of his creative purposes, the functionality of his temple. Sin and Death will not have the final word. The Creator will redeem by creating anew through his Son.
Continue reading “Creation and Doxology: A Portrait of Biblical Creation Theology (pt. 3)”
(Read Pt. 1 First!)
CREATION, COMPLEXITY, AND CHAOS
Much of the chaos in the universe can be ascribed to the infiltration of Sin and Death as described in Genesis 3. However, an oft-overlooked facet of biblical creation theology is the appropriate place of complexity and chaos within God’s creation. Even when the effects of the Fall are ignored, God’s temple is by no means a tame environment, nor is humanity the sole venue through which Yahweh receives glory. This facet is a crucial one, for it reorients a proper view of worship in an untamed temple, necessitating humility in the worship of the Creator.
Continue reading “Creation and Doxology: A Portrait of Biblical Creation Theology (pt. 2)”
In many conservative evangelical circles, biblical creation theology has been hijacked and eclipsed by the vitriolic debate between Young Earth Creationism and Neo-Darwinism. It is often difficult to see beyond this morass the beautiful tapestry of creation themes in biblical theology. Waltke summarizes the problem well: “Instead of metaphysical questions that shape culture, questions about dinosaurs, a young earth theory, and such dominate the evangelical landscape. This is unfortunate.” Nevertheless, there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Scripture’s use of creation themes, whether the evangelical community gives them appropriate attention or not. Unfortunately, a comprehensive analysis of biblical creation theology, a field fertile enough to provide lifetimes of work and study, far exceeds the purview of this essay. However, a brief analysis of the motifs of creation as temple, chaos, and redemption will show that the overarching use of creation theology in Scripture is to bring about the praise of the Creator. Biblical creation theology, properly understood, leads to doxology.
CREATION AS GOD’S TEMPLE
Continue reading “Creation and Doxology: A Portrait of Biblical Creation Theology (pt. 1)”