Sunday, March 11, 2007

Opinions Are Like Derrieres

Everybody's may be a little bit different, but everybody's got one. Particularly about the matter of the SWBTS and Drs. Klouda and Patterson.

Note to Marty Duren: A derriere is not a small handgun like John Wilkes Booth used, nor is it the atmosphere where they process milk.

There are a lot of issues involved in this one. F'rinstance:

The theological question about women teaching men in a school of theology.

The factual question as to whether teaching men Hebrew is, in fact, teaching theology.

The question as to whether the EEOC laws apply to a "religious institution".

The question as to whether a Seminary is, in fact, a "religious institution" along the lines of a church, at all.

The factual questions as to whether Dr. Klouda was told that her job was secure.

The theological questions about is teaching men "exercising authority", is teaching men forbidden everywhere for all time or was Paul sending a corrective to Corinth, etc.

Should Christians never sue a Christian, no matter what; is suing an institution the same as suing someone, etc etc.

Well, I don't care a lot about that, here. I just want to give my views. And if you want to argue, be sure and read the masthead caption on my blog, first.

First, corporations are not people. They exist only under the law of the state. They are not born, they are created under the law and exist only when, where and for what purposes as the state says. They do not exist until the law says they do, and they cannot die until the law says they die. And the differentiation should be crystal clear, from the very fact that real people operating as corporate representatives are normally exempt from personal liability for such actions. There is obviously a difference!

Dr. Patterson was acting as an officer of the corporation when he made the decisions that he did, and should thus be protected from personal liability. That seems true in Alabama, and I have not heard that the "corporate shield" has been done away with.

Corporations are not Christians. That's reserved for people. So suing a corporation is not suing a Christian. And, if by some chance the suit goes to trial and the Seminary loses, Dr. Patterson would rightfully claim corporate immunity, which would in itself be an acknowledgment that the judgment was not against him, the Christian, but rather against the creation of the laws of the state.

Incidentally, I'm not a lawyer so pick out your favorite legalese disclaimer and recite it here.....

On another front, we're admonished to confront someone if they wrong us, alone at first and then with witnesses. If they will not repent, haul them before the church, and if they will not repent, treat them like a pagan.

Anybody know a command not to sue pagans?

Neither do I.

A wrong done by the SBC, or an SBC entity, wrongs all SBC'ers, IMO. And SBC'ers in some number have attempted to confront Dr. Patterson and SWBTS itself (via the Chairman of the Trustees), to no avail. And the instruction to haul them before the church mandates you're in the same church, IMO. How could I, for instance, bring someone in Fort Worth, Texas, before FBC of Pelham, Alabama? Certainly the ecclesia has been a venue of confrontation over this. Again, to no avail.

So we have a corporation that has wronged (from what I can discern) a professor who was lauded as exceptional until the day she was called a mistake, and has exhausted all avenues save the very one under which the corporation must exist if it is to exist at all. And critics are legion.

So the church is to be recognized by the love we show? I have information I deem reliable indicating that about 15 people came forward, and three churches, to help Dr. Klouda with her financial disaster. Fifteen. Three Churches. About $5,000 was raised. I pray blessings on all those who contributed, and I am sure the funds were helpful and hopefully a blessing to Dr. Klouda. But Fifteen? Three churches? I don't care what numbers of SBC members are, or who's plateauing, and has or hasn't baptized anybody. That's pathetic.

Pathetic!

There's enough informed opinion out there to warrant serious consideration to women teaching men. Among other things, Paul said HE did not permit women to teach. Is there any other area of instruction where he was so roundabout in telling Timothy (or any others) what THEY were to do and not to do? I don't recall any. And, in fact, he'd previously said women were forbidden to even SPEAK in church!

Gee ... if women couldn't speak in church, they'd have a tough time teaching.

His explanation re: teaching? Eve was deceived. Try that one on your wife some time, you husbands. See where that gets you now. But we'll hide behind that, particularly when telling others how they ought to do things.

Is it possible that Paul was somewhere women speaking in church would not have been acceptable, but Timothy was elsewhere?

Said all that to say this: there's enough question that it seems outrageous to me to throw out an excellent professor, who is only teaching a foreign language, based solely on Paul's not letting women teach 2,000 years ago.

Outrageous! Yet we have no moral outrage about that. We wail and moan and carry on about lots of things, and when this fine lady's life is nearly ruined, we pontificate about it.

Oh yes ... does anyone else find it interesting that almost all the pontificators against women ever teaching men, seem to be men?

Where is our shame?

Here we have arguably the most powerful man in the SBC, the "architect of the conservative resurgence", who has allegedly done a gross injustice to a professor, based solely on her gender. She faces financial ruin because of what she says he told her and then did. And we treat this like some theological class exercise, and spit in the face of Romans 14:4, which asks "Who are you to judge another man's servant?".

Who are we, indeed? Who are we?

We are sinners, saved by grace, who ought to be ashamed. That's who we are.

18 Comments:

At 9:41 AM, March 12, 2007, Blogger Alycelee said...

Finally, someone calling a duck a duck
(or a corporation a corporation) Thanks Bob.
Perhaps God is about much more here than we could even see initially. I believe He is. Perhaps He is having us take a look at what we once held sacred, that might turn out to be nothing but 'traditions of men'

You know, if PP had been consistent with Klouda, I could understand. (I wouldn't agree, but I would understand.) But, holding to his hard and fast rule about women in ministry, then coming to SWBTS, meeting with her and assuring her that her position was safe, then two years later letting her go because it contridicts what he believes about 'women in ministry'-that gives 'double-minded' a whole new meaning.

What about trustees folding at PP's every turn? Dr. McClain's trouble with the facts concerning the trustee decision about Klouda-this fact alone shows me we need to take a good look at setting in trustees who will be deliberate about their service to GOD, SBC, SWBTS and understand the president is to serve and administer not the other way around.

Amazing how many seem to think the administration of SWBTS as a sacred cow and making an adjustment is to be 'tampering with something holy'.

There is none holy-but the Lord!
I say, let God sort it out-He can, He will, His judgements are perfect! (and I believe He has established both church and civil governments and all authorities, He holds in His hands)

 
At 3:41 PM, March 12, 2007, Blogger Bill Scott said...

Well said Bob. I agree Alyce. I understand what you are saying about corporate entities.

There are more than a few examples to show that individuals within a corporation are held responsible for their actions as a corporate officer. Their actions were found to be outside of corporate immunity when laws are broken.

That is indeed the question at hand. Were any laws broken? If so does the Federal gov't have jurisdiction in the case of a religous seminary.

 
At 3:54 PM, March 12, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thank you, Alyce.

Bill: I'm not so much concerned with the law, and whether Dr. Patterson broke that. My take is on fairness and decency and what seems to be the exertion of personal preferences to the detriment of Dr, Klouda.

I know if folks break the law, the corporate position is meaningless. One time, I was sued for actions of my company and, while I had been wronged by the person who sued me, my attorney simply pled corporate immunity and I was discharged from the lawsuit. So that "shield" is near and dear to my heart.

I think I mentioned "under normal circumstances". There are always exceptional events which could override the corporate protection, and it will of course (IMO) be up to a jury to decide that as instructed by the court.

Like I said, I ain't no lawyer. I plead Dorcas Hawker.

Thanks for commenting.

 
At 4:50 PM, March 12, 2007, Blogger Bill Scott said...

Bob,

"My take is on fairness and decency and what seems to be the exertion of personal preferences to the detriment of Dr, Klouda."

That is my take as well. IMO that is at the very heart of the matter. I believe that it appears personal preference may have caused an override in policy and a breach of fairness and decency.

 
At 5:25 PM, March 12, 2007, Blogger Tracey said...

Wow...

This is my first visit to your blog, and typically I don't sit through long posts like that. However, you really caught my attention. I've no clue about the case you're speaking of, so will need to take some time to research it.

Here's all I have to say, or contribute, concering women teaching or leading men:

I was a board member at a Christian school. I'd been put in charge of fundraising. My second year, no one would step forward and take the role of board president. I knew I didn't want it, but not a single man would say yes. I sat there praying (I had to go home, it was late!) that someone would step up, but they didn't. So I finally made a deal with God, telling him that IF another 20 minutes went by, and IF they asked me for a third time, I'd say yes (because I needed to get home to my kids!)

Well, nineteen minutes went by, and no one had said yes. I was watching that old minute hand with dread...it clicked, they asked.

So...God's decision? I'm thinking so. Woman. Leadership role. Christian Organization. Not my favorite year, but I sure did learn a lot.

Anyway, thanks for the post and the thoughtful insight!

 
At 5:38 PM, March 12, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Tracey: I suspect God used you, and taught you, all at once. Good for you!

The case surrounding Dr. Sheri Klouda's dismissal from SWBTS had been going on for a while, but you can see a recent article here. Take your blood pressure medicine first, though.

Thanks for looking in, and for your thoughts.

 
At 4:42 AM, March 14, 2007, Anonymous Dorcas Hawker said...

Hi Bob - Thanks for your insights.

 
At 11:02 AM, March 17, 2007, Blogger Tiger Lamb Girl said...

Hi Bob,
I'm a visitor from Ree's site. I always enjoy your comments there;).

Interesting post. I'm not familiar with this case - but I understood the gist of things from reading your post. It also rang a lot of bells for me, having grown up in the church - in the Bible Belt.

This sort of thing always leaves me reeling. Some people really seem to completely lose sight of their faculties. Like they think no one else will see the glaringly obvious contradictions in their actions, choices or statements.

God will sort this one out. Prayer is a powerful tool. Often we get to the end of our rope and end up saying something like 'All I can do is pray about it now.", when actually, it would have been the wisest choice in the first place.

 
At 1:00 PM, March 17, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Hi Tiger ("girl" sounds a little familiar if not demeaning)

There's a lot to the story. Dr. Klouda's husband has heart trouble and cannot work. And, after she was given assurances about her job by Dr. Patterson, she bought a home in Arlington. When she was terminated, and since, the housing market has been depressed and she cannot sell the house. They've spent all their retirement savings and have long since run through any equity they might have had in the house. It's a tragedy and will result in, IMO, a massive upheaval at SWBTS. Again, IMO, rightfully so.

Thanks for looking in and commenting, and I too enjoy your comments at Ree's blog.

 
At 7:24 PM, March 18, 2007, Anonymous Lee said...

I always wonder, when we are considering what "the scripture says" (I hate that term, "the scripture" isn't a person and doesn't say anything; the individual writers do) with all of this, where the "daughters" that both Peter and the Old Testament prophet Joel spoke of as prophesying?

"Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my spirit in those days, and they will prophesy." Acts 2:18

I think I've met a few.

You've made some excellent points.

 
At 8:19 PM, March 18, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

He Lee: Thanks for the comment.

Funny thing: I was reading scripture in our little prayer meeting last Thursday night and I read that very passage in Acts. God smacked me with three things I hadn't noticed before.

The first was the passage you quoted ... that women would prophesy, too.

Second, when they were all together in one place .. it's referred to as a house .. and spoke in unknown tongues, who were they talking to? It wasn't until folks heard the uproar and gathered around that there was anybody to listen. That supports my theory that it really is talking to God, and Him alone.

The third thought; at the point they did that, the current "plan of salvation" .. spirit-indwelled believers was for the first time in place. And what, following that event, was the very first-ever statement about how to be saved?

Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sin. So how can that not be a command?

Anyway there sure is a lot of stuff in there!

God bless.

 
At 7:10 PM, March 19, 2007, Anonymous swampwitch said...

Hello from Swampwitch. Thanks for visiting today. I have been traveling and unable to access my gmail account. Will return home late this evening and will certainly see what message you have left for me. I will be back to read but must board another plane at the moment.

 
At 7:43 AM, March 21, 2007, Anonymous Cyndi said...

Bob Cleveland,
I "met" you on Ree's blog; I'm her pal Hyacinth. I wanted to pop over to your blog because I knew it would be both provocative and witty. I'm not disappointed. You are clearly a man of principle, and that one admonition on Ree's blog that instructs fathers to love their mothers may do more good than you'll ever know, at least until you get to heaven. Ree and I think you'd like my podcasts on faith, and I'd be honored if you'd listen, doubly honored if you'd comment!! These podcasts originate as a radio show; it's a Catholic show that airs on an evangelical Christian station. Consequently, I try to be ecumenical, trying to give people of all faiths some insights to help them get the most out of their own walk with God. If you're interested, you can find me at www.twoedgetalk.com. I post a new episode every Monday, so I hope you'll become hooked! You're a valuable voice in the cyber world, and I'd like it heard on my blog, too! (PS If you got a similar note from me yesterday, I think there was a glitch that prevented it from getting through to you, so I'm writing again. If you have another comment from me, just pick the one you like best!) Peace be with you, Bob Cleveland! Cyndi Kane

 
At 9:25 AM, March 21, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Hi Cyndi. Thanks for commenting.

I just visited you place and waxed warm for a while. And I will be listening to the podcasts.

Also, the references in you blog lead me to believe you're Catholic. I hope that's the case. I hang around Baptists so much that I get a little warped and I need to interact with other believers and have been looking for some born-again Catholic friends.

I hope I've found some.

 
At 2:58 PM, March 26, 2007, Blogger Rob Ayers said...

Bob,

I know, a little late to this party, but as they say "never late than ever."

I think you will find in me no friend of the Corporation system embedded in the church, or church supported institutions. Certainly I am a critic of the current SBC polity with it's layers upon layers of autonomy without any subsequent level of accountabilitly.

At the same time my counselor part is uncomfortable in ascertaining blame in a "he said, she heard, she said" scenario. Because none of us were in the conversation, we do not know what exactly was said, both verbally and non-verbally in that conversation. While most bloggers want to think the worst, knowing the inadequcies of human conversation, I can think of a myriad of scenarios in which both parties thought they both heard and spoke what they meant, and both come away with the eventual outcome that now is a mess. Sheri may indeed have come away thinking her job was secure, when in actuallity it was not. Or, worst case scenario against Sheri, she heard what she wanted to hear. I know what Sheri thought she heard - affirmation and confirmation of her continuted employment, thus her subsequent action of buying a house and putting down roots. Does it then prove that Dr. Patterson gave a message that is claimed? My answer is "I don't know. I was not there." That is neither questioning either Dr. Klouda's or Dr. Patterson's integrety - currently I have no further information that would enable me to make a decision on that either way.

Now I know that a lot of people automatically assume that Dr. Patterson is guilty because of their predisposition towards him, or pronounce him guilty because of his autocratic actions of the past. Is that Christian charity? Is that also not a violation of Romans 14:4? Since none of us were present to hear the conversation, how are we to evaluate these events based upon heresay information? Unless Sheri has a smoking gun, i.e. paper-work corroburation of what Dr. Patterson told her, then heresay is all we have. How can we judge Dr. Patterson upon this plank alone? Dr. Patterson's silence during the runnup of these events can best be explained by attorney/client advice - "Be silent" - even though he may feel that he is innocent.

Now I do believe that SWBTS and Dr. Patterson are ethically, morally, and legally obligated to do whatever needs to be done to heal financially Dr. Klouda, up to and including giving her the position back - based upon what I believe is the lack of denominational consensus of what it means "to teach or have authority over a man" and if this prohibition pertains in the seminary classroom rather than the church. However, I think any judgement based upon a private conversation in which the commentator had no access to, has no corroburating evidence for, and bases statements of facts on what they said occured in a private conversation has the potential to be spacious and clearly is a assumption. I think most Southern Baptists attempt to be fair before they rush off to a conclusion. Give us something that we can be mad about. I think the very fact she was released based upon gender is such a discussion topic. I don't believe her personal perceptions about the contents of a private conversation can be included right now.

Rob

 
At 4:27 PM, March 26, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Rob:

No disagreement at all, and thanks for the comments. And I'm 68 years old. I'm used to late.

There are three issues involved, aside from the one about women teaching men. One is the law that's involved ... one is the scripture that applies to all this ... and one is what actually happened.

Dealing with scriptural principles didn't get the issue resolved.

Dealing with the matter from the perspective of the law was the only recourse she had, apparently.

The third one is the facts, and that's what juries decide. Personally, I doubt it'll ever see a jury. I'm in the property & liability insurance business, and a trial on this one would surprise me in a great big way. And I suppose that's sad in one way, as the facts will never be decided.

Anyhoo, thanks for looking in and commenting.

 
At 6:58 AM, March 27, 2007, Blogger Paul Burleson said...

xmBob,

Talk about late...I've just now read your post on the SWBT/Klauda suit. But I have to say...finally, someone is saying the obvious and asking the right questions. Of course, that's just your opinion of things. But let me join you in sharing those opinion of things. :)

 
At 7:45 AM, March 27, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, Paul. Your words mean a lot to me.

 

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