BOLIVAR, Mo. (BP) — As a former Southwest Baptist University professor appeals his termination for allegedly accusing faculty colleagues of deviating from theological orthodoxy, the university has commissioned an “external peer assessment” to include “evaluations regarding orthodoxy” on the Bolivar, Mo., campus.
In the month since SBU’s Nov. 28 termination of Clint Bass, assistant professor of theology and philosophy, online discussion has included a petition calling for the university’s administration and trustees to “exonerate” Bass. As of midday today (Jan. 2), the petition had garnered more than 1,300 signatures and was accompanied by letters supporting Bass from professors at two Southern Baptist Convention seminaries.
Within the petition were links to documents claiming to provide evidence of deviations by SBU faculty from the biblical doctrines of Scripture, hell and justification by faith among other points of Baptist theology.
In defense of SBU, a Dec. 22 blog post by one of Bass’s former SBU faculty colleagues, Zach Manis, claimed Bass was fired for “gross professional misconduct” and defended the theological orthodoxy of faculty in SBU’s Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry. The post appeared as a guest article on the personal blog of Rodney Reeves, dean of Redford College. In a Dec. 21 Facebook post, Reeves said he affirmed the inerrancy of Scripture and had been “grieving for days over Clint’s dismissal.”
Bass was informed of his immediate termination in a letter from SBU President Eric Turner, which later was released online. The letter noted among “grounds for dismissal” “collecting evidence and ascribing views to [faculty colleagues] without personal interaction” and “use of non-credible information to formulate accusations against fellow faculty members.”
On Oct. 30, Bass “made serious allegations” orally to Turner and SBU Provost Lee Skinkle regarding his “colleagues’ personal and theological positions,” Turner wrote. “The allegations made were determined as unfounded” following “a systematic inquiry” by Skinkle. Turner accused Bass of using “notes and accusations as leverage” after being denied a promotion.
Bass alleged in a Dec. 21 statement he was granted an appeal hearing by a trustee committee but that his meeting with the committee was not conducted according to university policy.
“I was ready to participate in the process promised to me,” Bass wrote, adding the committee questioned him for hours with “a focus” on “my communications with other Missouri Baptists, and whether those communications were immoral.”
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Source: Baptist Press