[Bolivar, Missouri] What would you do if you discovered that a number of
I knew Eric Turner when he was at Williams Baptist College, my Alma mater before he went on to serve at the Black River Technical College a few miles down the road. Today, he’s the new president of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. Various reports indicate that this controversy was an ongoing issue that the previous president of SBU refused to deal with, and it “landed on the table” for Turner to handle. Regardless, firing a professor who is concerned about the doctrinal health of your institution is never the right thing to do.
SBU is a Southern Baptist university affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention. Faculty and staff should subscribe to the Southern Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Dr. Clint Bass was one such instructor who did hold to the BF&M 2000. Others, he felt, were not holding to the Southern Baptist Confession of Faith. This is what led to Dr. Bass’ unfortunate firing.
According to a petition online, Bass became concerned that a number of faculty members were teaching annihilationism (that hell may exist, but that it is not eternal or conscious), inclusivism (that one can be saved without personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ) and that there may be a hope for salvation in the afterlife (not altogether different from notions of purgatory). All of those beliefs, of course, are not only opposed by the Southern Baptist faith statement, but by the Holy Bible.
Reportedly, individuals within the Missouri Baptist Convention were also concerned about the doctrinal shortcomings of some within the university, and they reached out to Dr. Bass, who began to take notes and evaluate the teachings at SBU.
However, when this became known to SBU administrators, they summoned Bass and terminated his employment – with no severance – on November 28.
Even more odd was the reason for termination and the bizarre request to access his personal diary, where he had written his own thoughts about the doctrinal faults of SBU faculty. Supposedly, the administration asked the alleged heretics if they were heretics and they denied it (wolves have sheep’s clothing for a reason, people) or conveniently “repositioned” their beliefs. Dr. Turner and the administration then fired Dr. Bass for daring to have those concerns.
However, neither Dr. Turner nor anyone else followed through with their investigation to research any of the documentation provided by Bass, which included the personal testimonies of others. Simply put, they investigated only one side of the dispute and did not take into account Dr. Bass’ accounting of the facts presented.
To make the situation even more disgusting, Dr. Bass’ note-taking was approved by certain leaders in the Missouri Baptist Convention. Pulpit & Pen spoke to a trustee of the MBC, who refused to comment. One wonders if the Missouri Baptist Convention will let the trustees at SBU hang Dr. Bass out to dry. If they do, it is shameful.
Turner absurdly called Bass’ concerns over doctrine “unethical.”
The fact that Bass was correct, at least regarding some of his accusations, is indisputable. Audio recordings of professors denying hell’s eternal and conscious torment can be found here and here. Emails released demonstrate that Dr. Turner’s issue with Bass is that his (well-founded) accusation that certain faculty members were not adhering to the BF&M was somehow “undermining the integrity of [the institution].” You can see that email exchange here. In the meantime, I’m pretty sure it’s heresy that undermines the integrity of a Christian institution.
For further perusal, a summary and overview of the evidence can be found here.
Quotations from faculty that teach heresy can be found here. A snippet of them have been provided below (all are accompanied with audio evidence).
Dr. Turner, the trustees of SBU and – if they don’t act – the trustees in the Missouri Baptist Convention (which has oversight of the university), should all face God’s judgment for firing a professor for caring about heresy but not firing the actual heretics.
May God have mercy on their soul.
[Editor’s Note: Contributed by JD Hall, doing the work of the real Baptist Press. For more information, read here]