Thanks to a daring vision generated by its faculty and administration, Baylor University (where I am a professor) is attempting to become a top-tier Christian school known for its research as well as its teaching. This innovative effort—popularly referred to as Baylor 2012, after a 10-year vision statement—has met with both vehement opposition and passionate vindication.
Much of the antagonism has been directed against President Robert Sloan, but his presidency and Baylor 2012 were last month resoundingly upheld by a 31-4 vote of the Baylor board of regents. The conflict, however, is not over. Such debate will continue until we address the theological problem still bedeviling us: We have over-privileged the Enlightenment as it pertains both to Christian faith and Christian education.
Even our categories are impoverished. Baptist conservatives and Baptist liberals both embrace strategies that, ironically, are legacies of the secularizing Enlightenment. Conservatives have sought to establish watertight proofs for Scriptural inerrancy that will serve as a bulwark against the miracle-denying rigidity of a cause-and-effect universe. Liberals, in turn, have subscribed to John Locke's ideal of tolerance—an ideal that stresses inclusivity and openness above all else, often to the neglect of real theological convictions.
The revolution occurring at Baylor fits none of these Enlightenment concerns. First-rate Christian scholars are coming to Baylor from the most outstanding universities in the world precisely because we are attempting at once to engage and to challenge the Enlightenment paradigm. Faculty hiring, for instance, has been opened to a new variety of scholars. Far from producing an ideological unanimity of either the left or ...1