Guest / Limited Access /
Crisis of Faith Statements
Jeremy Mikkola / Flickr
Crisis of Faith Statements

Less than a year after Cedarville University hired theologian Michael Pahl, administrators relieved the associate professor of his teaching duties.

The issue at stake? A historical Adam and Eve, a debate that dates back to Augustine and has recently cropped up at evangelical schools such as Calvin College and Reformed Theological Seminary. But what appears new in Cedarville's situation is the trustees' requirement that faculty hold particular beliefs for particular reasons.

Pahl affirms the Ohio school's doctrinal statement (recently augmented by trustees via theological white papers) regarding human origins, but his beliefs are based on a literary reading of Genesis 1 and 2.

"I hold to a historical Adam and Eve, though not on exegetical grounds," Pahl wrote in his defense to trustees, which CT obtained. "My reasons are more theological in nature…." Later, when explaining his take on Paul's use of Adam and Genesis, Pahl stated, "Once again we are in an area of academic freedom as the doctrinal statement does not mandate specific exegesis of specific biblical passages."

Yet Cedarville administrators concluded that the theologian "is unable to concur fully with each and every position" of its doctrinal stance, according to an official statement they released with Pahl.

"It doesn't make sense," said Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga. "It does damage to a college atmosphere to pretend there's no sensible diversity of opinion among Christians."

Last year, Calvin College experienced similar debate when its board of trustees investigated tenured professors of religion Daniel Harlow and John Schneider after they published ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueThe Need for Creeds
Subscriber Access Only The Need for Creeds
It's more than merely helpful to set down the church's core convictions in words.
RecommendedA Timeline of Black Christianity Before the Civil War
Subscriber Access Only A Timeline of Black Christianity Before the Civil War
The first black pastor to lead a white congregation, the start of the AME, and slavery splits American denominations.
TrendingTrump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Trump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Prestonwood Baptist diverts denominational giving over concerns about Russell Moore’s ERLC.
Editor's PickUrban Mix-and-Match Religion Didn't Start with Nick Cannon
Urban Mix-and-Match Religion Didn't Start with Nick Cannon
Why this 'new spirituality' is really just old-fashioned syncretism.
Christianity Today
Crisis of Faith Statements
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.