Southwest Baptist University “Annihilationist” Dean Attacks His Accuser

The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment.  – Southern Baptist Faith and Message 2000, Article X Last Things

The faith statement of the SBC specifies that the beliefs held by Rodney Reeves, Dean of Southwest Baptist University, are outside the bounds of Southern Baptist orthodoxy.

Rodney Reeves, the Dean of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri – a school affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention (SBC), holds to annihilationism, the belief that hell is not eternal conscious torment. Or, at the very least, he held to annihilationism when he made previous statements espousing the heretical doctrines explicitly.

Likewise, their heretical Dean also teaches that it is possible to be saved without faith in Christ. Take note: Reeves’ statements are on audio (see below).

Officials within the Missouri Baptist Convention became concerned about Reeves’ teaching on the subject of the afterlife and asked Dr. Clint Bass to document his teaching, along with several other professors whose teachings were believed heretical.

The response of Southwest Baptist University President, Eric Turner, was to demand to see Bass’ personal diary and notes, and then to summarily fire him without severance. It is clear that heresy is not taken seriously at Southwest Baptist University or the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Heresy is not too strong a word to use in reference to annihilationism, although commenters and students of Reeves have said again and again that it’s not heresy per se.

A supporter of Dr. Reeves, claiming that it’s orthodox to believe hell is not eternal.
Dr. Rodney Reeves

Annihilationism is a heresy, and this is why it has never been the position of the church and is not currently, nor has it ever been, the position of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Annihilationism, sometimes called “destructionism” or “extinctionism” is the theological proposition that there is no “hell” awaiting the unbeliever, at least not that can be defined as “eternal conscience torment” (which is the Biblical, historic and orthodox understanding of hell).

Sometimes the heresy takes the form of “conditional immortality,” which teaches that only the redeemed will live eternally. Those holding to this heretical doctrine assert that terms like “perish,” “be destroyed,” or “death” to demand a decisive end and completed action, meaning that they will perish but only for a time. This is in contrast to the heresy of Universalism, which teaches that all will ultimately be redeemed and live in Heaven eternally. For more, you can find annihilationism listed in the heresy section here.

From the heresy list at Pulpit & Pen, for more resources, click the link.

Dr. Reeves’ took to Facebook with permission of Dr. Eric Turner to defend himself against Bass’ allegations after Pulpit & Pen released a post about the scandal here.

Quotations from his post are provided below:

We are now able to respond to the charges leveled by Dr. Clint Bass against Redford Faculty.

This first said that SBU administration explicitly gave permission, and was later edited.

Clint Bass was dismissed by President Turner for several reasons, but I want to respond to the one that affects me personally: Clint violated the ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”

Heavy accusation. Bass’ allegations against Reeves were backed up by empirical evidences, like audio recordings, quotations, and student testimonies. Let’s see if Reeves provides any such evidences that Bass is guilty of lying. Also, it will be interesting to see paperwork of Bass’ termination and see if “bearing false witness” is listed as a reason for his firing.

Clint told many people that I don’t believe the Bible is the word of God. That is a lie. I firmly believe that the Bible is the Perfect word of God (I even use non-biblical terms, like inerrancy and infallibility, to affirm the complete authority of Scripture).

Of course he does (so he says). He has to in order to maintain employment. All the moderates said that back in the Conservative Resurgence, too. It means nothing.

Clint told many people that I said that Paul changed his mind about the return of Christ. That is a lie. I tell students in my Pauline Epistles class that Paul changed his mind about whether he would be alive when Jesus returned. In 1 Thess. 4:17, Paul counted himself among those who will be alive when Christ returns. But in 2 Cor. 4:14, Paul counted himself among the dead when Christ returns.

Phrasing things the way you don’t like isn’t “bearing false witness.” The discussion at hand was the “return of Christ.” If Bass was fired over this issue, SBU and the MBC should be sued into oblivion for wrongful termination. By the way, Paul did not change his mind, because he was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit when he said those things. For an orthodox perspective (which Reeves’ seems repeatedly shy of having), consult any basic commentary regarding the “parousia”; the Development Theory that states that Paul’s theology was “developing” hardly accords with a belief in Scriptural Inerrancy, which holds that the Scripture was given by divine inspiration. This alone should make one question Reeves’ commitment to Scripture.

Clint told many people that I am an annihilationist. That is a lie. Even though I once said that I was 55% annihilationist, 45% everlasting punishment, that doesn’t mean I completely affirm annihilationism. Rather, I was trying to communicate during an academic forum (not as clearly as I should) that the New Testament has more passages about hell as destruction than hell as endless punishment. (Let me also add that I regret speaking about hell at times during the forum in an irreverent manner. Hell is too serious for that.)

Uh, point of order. See the quotations in the screenshot at the top of this article. I quote, “I believe the wicked are annihilated…” That’s annihilationism, pure and simple. If Reeves has since changed his mind, or claims that he was mistaken, one can hardly blame Bass for citing his own words.

What is especially frustrating to me is that most of Clint’s accusations were based on hearsay from a few students. How do I know that? He admitted it in a document he presented to President Turner and Provost Skinkle. Never once did he ever discuss these things with me. Never once did he ask me what I believe about these things. Never once did he respect me enough to say, “hey, I heard some students say this about what you believe. Is that true?” I would do that for him. I have done that for other faculty.

A couple things about this…Bass’ investigation – again, requested by those in the Missouri Baptist Convention – wasn’t complete. But here’s the thing with heretics; they “sneak in destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2:1). You can’t just walk up to someone teaching subversive theology and expect them to admit it. But more importantly, time was not given to Bass to allow a completion of his study. He was canned for even caring.

Furthermore, it’s not “hearsay” when Bass encouraged President Turner to investigate the testimonies themselves. This isn’t “third party” knowledge. This is testimony of students who have sat through his classes.

This is what Jesus taught us to do: go to each other to clear up a matter (Matt. 5:23; 18:15). But Clint didn’t do that. He chose, instead, to call into question my theological integrity by spreading lies about me. The damage that has been done to me, my family and friends, my colleagues at SBU, the administration, and the entire university will be evident for years. When it comes to higher theological education, some people tend to want to believe the worst about you.

Please note the priority to Reeves. His concern – like that of Eric Turner – is not the doctrinal fidelity and theological soundness of SBU, but about the institution’s reputation. Reeves implements “victimology” claiming his “family and friends” have been hurt by Bass. Of course, Bass’ accusations didn’t become public until he WAS FIRED for raising the issue. If the publicity here has hurt, blame President Eric Turner.

I have been grieving for days over Clint’s dismissal. I have been wounded over the few former students who have taken Clint’s accusations at face value and joined the malicious attacks against me. At the same time, I have been especially encouraged by many former students who have defended me in the face of Clint’s false witness. During times like these, you rediscover why Christ is our only hope. For one day, we will all stand before God and give an account of our lives.

This one drives me nuts. No, the former students didn’t take Dr. Bass’ allegations “at face value;” they looked at the EVIDENCE he provided in Reeves’ OWN WORDS. That’s pretty objective evidence.

The only “false witness” I can see is that Reeves’ has accused Bass of false witness.

The difference between Bass’ accusations against Reeves and Reeves’ accusation against Bass is that Bass actually provided evidence. Reeves just engaged in victimology and provided a defense for himself that amounted to saying, “nuh-uh.”

Reeves made no attempt to defend his comments teaching annihilationism or – in some cases – a soft universalism or inclusivism.

And yet, Reeves’ supporters attacked Bass, believe it or not.

Of course, seriously theologically-minded men do not consider the afterlife to be “petty” and neither should SBU dismiss concerns of students because they are “undergrad.” What condescension!

According to the logic of Reeves’ supporters, Bass’ real crime was political. He should have sat there happily employed rather than risk his job by standing up for the Holy Bible. Southern Baptist Convention, this attitude is why you can’t have nice things.

Furthermore, the Reeves’ supporter here calls someone who holds to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 a “hardcore theological conservative.” We just know them as “Southern Baptist.” Tell me, in what camp does that put Reeves?

Finally, placing blame upon the one “contending for the faith once delivered” for “causing division” is, in itself, satanic in nature. False doctrine is what causes division. Holding a position with the SBC while teaching against its faith statement causes division. Firing a professor for being concerned about false teaching causes division.

Shame on Eric Turner. Shame on Rodney Reeves. Shame of Reeves’ supporters. Shame on SBU. And if SBU and MBC trustees fail to act appropriately in light of this, shame on them, too.

Dr. Reeves might be a very nice man. He might be a very good teacher (in terms of delivery). But this does not excuse the fact that he’s an annihilationist and an inclusivist, as his words give evidence, no matter how much he denies it now. He is simply disqualified from teaching in a Southern Baptist School that still pretends to have doctrinal standards.

[Contributed by JD Hall, born and raised a Missouri Baptist, and an alumnus of Williams Baptist College, where both Eric Turner and Rodney Reeves once taught and our paths have crossed]


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