Guest / Limited Access /
Crisis of Faith Statements
Image: 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 IssueHonoring Faith in the Public Square
Subscriber Access Only Honoring Faith in the Public Square
Let's be frank: Religion in America really does enjoy 'special privileges.' Here are five reasons—plus one—why it should.
RecommendedTwila Paris Defends Brother Indicted for Bribery at Christian College
Twila Paris Defends Brother Indicted for Bribery at Christian College
(UPDATED) Ecclesia president accused of kickback scheme with Arkansas lawmakers. His board and family contend he's innocent.
TrendingThe Real St. Patrick
The Real St. Patrick
A look at the famous saint, and his strategic missions.
Editor's PickThey Will Know We Are Christians by Our Drinks
They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Drinks
In the Muslim world, Christians have a complicated relationship with alcohol.
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.