Saturday, March 25, 2006

Frank Flunked: Francis Beckwith Denied Tenure at Baylor

Prolific author and professor Francis Beckwith has been denied tenure at Baylor University, where he has taught for three years. Despite Professor Beckwith's prodigious achievements in publishing and lecturing, Baylor has refused to grant him tenure. Beckwith will be challenging this decision according to his schools appeals policy.

My only conclusion is that this is a purely political move, and one that sadly fits a pattern at Baylor. The leadership at Baylor had been attempting to move it toward a solidly evangelical identity in which the Christian worldview would be at the center of the curriculum. This was called the Baylor 2012 program, instituted by then President William Sloane. (For a marvelous statement of the vision of a truly Christian college by Wheaton College's president, see "Conceving the Christian College" by Duane Litfin.) In recent years, Baylor courted and won many notable evangelical scholars, such as C. Stephen Evans, Beckwith, and William Dembski. Dembski's contract was not renewed after a three-year research (no teaching) position. With the departure of the President and Provost who led this vision, the school seems to be reverting to its provincial and traditional Southern Baptist ethos, which tends to separate faith and scholarship in unhealthy ways.

This is tragic for many reasons, but one looms large. There is no major evangelical research university in America, as Mark Noll pointed out in "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind" in 1994. We spend our money elsewhere. Our theology does not make room for it. Neither will Baylor support this grand vision, apparently.


Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

They have given no reasons as yet!

Ray said...

I found out recently that Baylor hired my former department head in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M, Walter Bradley, to be a Distinguished Professor of Engineering.

Dr. Bradley is a Christian and a scholar who gave a provacative lecture every year called "Scientific Evidence for God". The lecture was always attended by non-Christians and Dr. Bradley handled their challenges with grace and humor, as well as wisdom. He introduced me to Scaling The Secular City, a book I refer to often.

Sometimes Baylor makes good hires.