[Bolivar, Missouri] For the last 25 years, there has been a problem infiltrating the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). This problem was exposed by Pulpit & Pen back in November of last year. Pastors have sent their young people to Southwest Baptist University (SBU) thinking that it is a haven of good Baptist theology. The reality is that this is far from the truth. The school has been churning out theological confusion in the hearts and minds of students and rewarding their professors for doing this.
Due to a number of other controversies in the Missouri Baptist Convention and a former president, who was not theologically trained, the school has been unchecked with regard to doctrinal fidelity. They were able to slip by the MBC’s controversies because they were not as outspoken in their liberal ways, paying lip-service to the MBC all the while laughing at the MBC and criticizing it in backroom meetings.
This is evident in a comment made by Dr. Reeves, the dean of the theology department, in the infamous Hell Forum. A student asked Dr. Reeves if he agreed with the BFM 2000 and its statement on everlasting punishment. Reeves response (found shortly after the 1:22:00 mark in the forum audio found here), “Now, we can talk about parsing the Baptist faith and message. So I agree with it. But no matter what confession you have, words have meanings, and there are different ways of interpreting them…Confessions are statements of faith at certain times. So I subscribe to it, but that doesn’t mean that I will read the confession the same way you will. You hear everlasting one way, I hear it another way.”
In other words, I will pay lip service to it, but I will interpret it to fit annihilationism; as he was doing in the forum. Sadly the problems are not only limited to the theology department but they can be traced back to the SBU administration.
Last year SBU fired the one Professor in the Theology department that aligned with the MBC pastors (Dr. Clint Bass). Then, SBU guarded the action by attacking Bass’s character and going after the church he served as an elder (an MBC-aligned church). SBU offered a fake/insufficient report/investigation which was not only marred by holes, but it demonstrated that anyone who read it with a thread of theological training could see the glaring reality that Dr. Bass has rightly reported the truth of the theological liberalism that planted its flag of victory in the Redford School of theology
Upon being given the document, Mr. Lee was told by the SBU attorney to go through the document with his fellow elders so they could put Dr. Bass under church discipline. This telling of Mr. Lee to investigate the report himself with his fellow elders was heard by Mr. Terry Delaney another trustee. When Mr. Lee eventually became censured, the entire board of trustees completely dismissed Mr. Delaney when he told the board that he personally heard the SBU attorney tell Mr. Lee to “take this to his elders because they would put Dr. Bass under church discipline when they saw it.”
This report/investigation conducted by the Provost was done in a rush and was vastly insufficient. What evidence it did contain only worked to support the claims of Dr. Bass. This report/investigation was hidden from almost all of the trustees, too. Only 6 print copies were handed out, five going to the newly elected trustees. One went to Mr. Kyle Lee. Mr. Lee is an elder at Southern Hills with Dr. Bass.
Mr. Lee was doing his best to follow the advice of the attorney that Southwest Baptist University had hired to protect the University and its interest. Following the directions of this attorney, Mr. Lee did present the report/investigation to his fellow elders. The elder board at Southern Hills went through the investigation/report that the Provost had put together.
The elder board systematically unpacked the report/investigation checking to see if Dr. Bass had been guilty of making a false accusation himself. The elders at Southern Hills recognized that if one were to seriously consider the investigation they would see that Dr. Bass had actually accurately represented the problems in the Redford school of theology.
In the special trustee meeting in January of 2019, Mr. Lee was censured by the vote of the trustees at Southwest Baptist University; it was reported that this vote was unanimous, but reliable sources have noted that the vote was not unanimous. Mr. Lee was reportedly censured for sharing “confidential information” with the board of elders at his church just as he was told to do.
Both the Southwest Baptist University attorney and the president of Southwest Baptist University testified against Mr. Lee. When Mr. Terry Delaney noted that he was in the room when the conversation with the attorney and Mr. Lee occurred, Mr. Delaney stated that he heard
the attorney state what Mr. Lee reported him to have stated. Mr. Delaney’s report was not only dismissed, but the trustee board paid no mind to it.
In the April trustee meeting, Mr. Van Bebber, an SBU trustee, was ridiculed for his actions where he presented to the David Dockery commission information he had collected regarding the public statements of the Redford school of theology professors. Mr. Van Bebber was ridiculed by
the majority of the trustee board and belittled for his actions in making sure that the Dockery commission had all of the information that was available regarding statements, teachings, and publications that demonstrated the accuracy of Dr. Bass’s accusations against the Redford school of theology.
Interestingly enough, the only individuals who had copies of the investigation material that Mr. Van Bebber had (the 89-page report) were the individuals on the Dockery commission and the trustee board of Southwest Baptist University. One of the trustees (or the administration) of SBU leaked the 89-page report to the liberal renegade publication the Word and Way. This is the same publication that rebelled and left the Missouri Baptist Convention because of their theological leanings being inconsistent with Orthodox Christianity. This “newspaper” lambasted Mr. Van Bebber for his forceful and honest evaluation of the reasons that led to Southwest Baptist University’s administration reaching out to the Dockery commission. Mr. Van Bebber stated in a letter at the start of the 89-page report that he believed the commission was brought in so that Southwest Baptist University could use their good name to protect themselves from their actions when they shielded the theology department.
It seems that Mr. Van Bebber had to stand toe-to-toe against the majority of the trustees at Southwest Baptist University in demonstrating that it is the fault of the trustee board that SBU has fallen into the cesspool of theological liberalism. The continued refrain of the trustee board at Southwest Baptist University regarding the reality that their theology professors are egalitarian, Universalist, annihilationist, and deny the doctrine of inerrancy has been “we didn’t know.” Mr.Van Bebber, along with 3 other newly elected trustees, Terry Delaney, Kyle Lee, and Eddie Bumpers appear to be the only trustees with the fortitude to call out this wimpy excuse. Van
Bebber has been rewarded by not only being attacked by the Word and Way, but he has also been attacked by the trustee board behind closed doors.
Missouri Baptists need to do something to get their school back. It is obvious that the direction of the school is one of serious trouble, not only from a theological standpoint but from an administrative one as well. As it stands now there seem to be three trustees willing to fight for the MBC and their principals: Mr. Lee (censured by the trustees), Mr. Delaney (whose testimony was disregarded), and Mr. Van Bebber (who was attacked by the board). If Missouri Baptist are serious about rescuing their school the pastors in the convention are going to have to act and act soon. Will Missouri Baptists stand up and fight back the liberalism at SBU and regain a strong conservative educational entity or will they sit back as the last threads of conservatism are annihilated?
[Publisher’s Note: Contributed by concerned Missouri Baptists, who needed a press outlet to publish their testimony and protect them from punitive actions of SBU and the MBC]