Reflections on Louisiana College and the President Aguillard Interview

The whole situation at LC is a sad one. No matter which side one takes in this controversy, when allegations of dishonesty are being made at a Baptist institution, it is heartbreaking. Our desire in the interview was to shine light on this situation and to quote Alfred from the newest Batman, for “truth to have its day.” We attempted to do this by asking the questions that many have asked us about this controversy. Shining light on this situation is difficult since many questions are being left unanswered. But, here are a few reflections on the interview and the controversy:

  • Calvinism & Hyper-Calvinism: Dr. Aguillard states that he believes “Hyper-Calvinism” is antithetical to the BFM2000, but when asked what Hyper-Calvinism is, he did not give a direct definition. However, as you listen to the interview when these questions come up, it seems there are some things that he believes are characteristic of Hyper-Calvinism:
    • Unconditional Election– It seems as though he believes that unconditional election is antithetical to the BFM2000 and is a tenet of Hyper-Calvinism. He states that someone who believes God chooses a certain group of people ahead-of-time for salvation would not be comfortable on the faculty of LC. Based on this statement, it seems as though Adoniram Judson would not be welcomed to teach missions at LC nor would Charles Spurgeon be welcome to teach preaching nor anyone who holds to Unconditional Election
    • Limited Atonement/Particular Redemption– Also, it seems that anyone who agrees with Limited Atonement would not be welcomed to teach at LC. So, it would seem that James Boyce could not teach at LC.
    • All 5 Points of the TULIP– It seems at one point in the interview that Dr. Aguillard equated Hyper-Calvinism with a traditional baptistic Calvinist who affirms all 5 points of the TULIP. This is problematic.
    • The free offer of the gospel to all people– Dr. Aguillard seems to imply that TULIP Calvinists are not in favor of the free offer of the gospel to all people. This is an unfair mischaracterization of what Calvinism teaches. For example, Dr. Mohler made it clear at the Baptist21 panel that anyone against the free offer of the gospel is a Hyper-Calvinist and an enemy of the gospel. We don’t know a 5-point Calvinist who is against the free offer of the gospel to all people.
    • If this is truly the position at LC (I could have been hearing him wrongly), then it would seem that the vision of LC going forward is not in line with the vision of Frank Page’s committee on Calvinism in the SBC which affirmed that Calvinists and non-Calvinists can work side-by-side.
    • The question of whether or not this was the reason why the 3 professors’ contracts were not renewed was not answered. But, if holding to Particular Redemption or Unconditional Election was the cause, then it is disappointing because they were hired holding positions that the BFM2000 allows and then were let go after short tenure despite being in-line with the school’s stated doctrinal statement.
    • It is perfectly acceptable for an institution to not hire Calvinists (though it would be incompatible with the Calvinism committee’s vision of unity). What is not acceptable is having an unstated litmus test for theological beliefs. If LC doesn’t want Calvinist professors then they need to adopt a new statement of faith that disallows Calvinism or President Aguillard as the authority who holds profs accountable needs to write an explanation of the BFM2000 from his perspective that clearly lays out what is and is not acceptable at LC. This will allow Louisiana Baptists, prospective students, prospective faculty members and donors to know in print where LC stands on these issues.
    • Reflections on the controversy:
      • Professor of the Year Award- It seems that Ryan Lister did receive the most votes from the student body as professor of the year and was denied the award because the administration determined that students rallied people to vote for him.
      • Yes/No Questions- It was disappointing that many yes/no questions were not really answered, but due to the nature of personnel issues and closed-door sessions it is unlikely that people will ever get some of the answers they are looking for.
      • Moving forward, I would like to hear from the Cason Foundation. Dr. Aguillard alleges in the interview that they never made a $60 million pledge. How much did they pledge? And, what are their thoughts on things as they stand now?
      • I would also like to hear from the Board of Trustees. Why did they not meet with the Cason Foundation to allow them to voice their concerns? Were the whistleblowers (two high level administrators) allowed to meet with the board to share their side of this controversy? If not, why not hear all sides of the issue?

 

In the end, my prayer for all involved in for truth to prevail, those hurt to be healed, and that LC be used for God’s glory in all nations.

 

 

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Nathan Akin

Nathan Akin is a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the Liaison to the Churches for SEBTS. In addition, he serves as the College Director at Open Door Baptist Church. Nathan has a BS in Political Science and a Social Sciences teaching degree from Murray State University, where he also played basketball (Go Racers– The 30th best basketball program since ’85 according to espn.com).

8 thoughts on “Reflections on Louisiana College and the President Aguillard Interview

  1. The problem with such an attitude as Dr. Aguillard has is that it is so limited. It is also evident that he has never studied Baptist history and Southern Baptist History in particular. Had he done so, he would have realized that this great work (of missions and the convention) grew out of the labors of Particular Baptists, folks like the founders of Mt. Pisgah from which came the first missionary of the Southern Baptist Convention to China, Matthew T. Yates. Their Articles of Faith adopted in 1814 at the founding knew nothing about Christ dying for every one. They speak of Him dying for the church. No one else is mentioned. It was William Carey, Andrew Fuller, and others, inspired by Jonathan Edwards, all five point Calvinists, that experienced the Great Awakenings and helped to launch the Great Century of Missions. It was also such Baptists of the Separate and Regulars who agreed to allow for the preaching that Christ tasted death for every man and that it should be no barrier to communion. In other words, they allowed for freedom to think, to change one’s mind, to grow and to develop. Some folks have never heard of therapeutic paradoxes, and the best way to win the whole earth is to offer them paradoxes of a therapeutic nature, that is, opposites that seem so opposed to their being saved. It is like the woman of Canaan. Jesus said in her presence, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. She was not a Jew, so it would seem that she was not even in view for atonement, etc., and her response was one of worship. Then he told her she was totally depraved and reprobate, saying it is not meet to cast the children’s bread to dogs. Her response was simple to agree and to say that even the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table, meaning that a mere crumb of Jesus power would more than meet her needs. Our Lord called such faith great.

    While many think Jesus died for everyone without exception, they will find that it is not half so winsome a truth to totally depraved sinners as is the thought that He died only for the elect. And Particular Redemption will win the whole earth and every soul on it in one generation and then continue to do it for a 1000 generations and reach millions and billions of planets, if the earth and the universe continue for a million years. I pray for the Third Great Awakening have been for nearly 40 years (it will be this fall).

    I began praying for such a visitation in the Fall of 1973, after preaching to the Pastors’ Prayer Meeting of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association on the subject, A Great Awakening. They would allow me to preach the 5th and 10th anniversaries of that Prayer Meeting which I did on the subject, A Third Great Awakening. The association as all Baptists should know grew out of the labors of Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall, men converted in the first Great Awakening, and the Association experienced the Second Great Awakening in 1801. They also participated in the effort to launch the Great Century of Missions or what we call the modern missionary movement under the leadership of t Rev, Luther Rice, the Father of Missions among Southern Baptists, who thought that since these doctrines of God’s Sovereignty were in the Bible, one had better preach them.

  2. “The problem with such an attitude as Dr. Aguillard has is that it is so limited. ”

    Dr. Willingham, I found this statement to be hilarious – I suspect it speaks to my twisted sense of humor, but couldn’t help think: “but, he doesn’t believe in limited.” :)

  3. I think your takeaways are pretty accurate after watching the interview. The only point I would challenge is the need for LC to adopt a new confessional statement that prohibits Calvinism. I believe it was made very clear that Calvinist professors are not welcome and at this point do not think it is necessary to craft a statement to this effect. As with any other college/seminary President in the SBC, the hiring and firing “buck” begins and ends with them. This should not be a surprise and Dr. Aguillard has made it very clear, on the record, where he stands!

    By the way, James, I do not think it is helpful to speak negatively about Dr. Aguillard’s lack of theological degrees. There are many theologically astute people who do not have theological degrees.

    1. As to your second paragraph, Mr. Kennedy, that is true but forces me to ask a question that I and almost 900 others at friendsofthecollege.wordpress.com are puzzling over: How many theologically astute people who lack terminal degrees are administering 100-year old once-highly-regarded Christian general studies colleges that have reached out to the furthermost corners of the earth with the Gospel? What does that say about LC’s position on Calvinism–assuming it even had one, and I honestly don’t believe it did when I was there–before Joe took office in 2005? I hope LC can be saved, but if it continues on this path I think that it might just as well re-charter itself as a Bible College. If it’s true, as I’ve heard it said, that the SBC is imploding, then I take from Dr. Willingham’s post that it is due to the splitting over finer and finer details. God bless us everyone.

    2. Michael,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I would slightly disagree with your point. I agree that he has made his position clear. But not all of the people represented in the groups I mentioned come to B21 to listen to his interview. A doctrinal statement is what those groups of people will be pointed to if they want to know where LC stands on something. And so since the buck stops with him and he interprets the BFM2000 to not include calvinists (though even staunch non-calvinist would disagree with this) and since calvinists would not be welcomed that needs to be made very clear. That is why I propose the change in doctrinal statement (or his writing up what he believes the BFM is saying) so that it is clear and official as to what the institution believes. An interview with us is not binding on the institution and so not official, an official Statement of Faith adopted by the trustees would be.

      And I certainly agree with you that lack of degrees does not mean one cannot be theologically astute and would be very cautious making such claims. I do think however one of the major concerns I have seen from social media, etc is that you have someone who struggled with clear theological definitions making binding theological decisions for an institution. I would affirm that is something to be concerned about.

  4. Excellent assessments guys. The issue of Calvinism is a red herring. Dr. Aguillard hired the professors knowing their graduate schools. Since by his own admission the hiring is his call, either Dr. Aguillard is not vetting professors as he should, since Calvinism is such a big issue with him, or he hasn’t a clue of what the graduate schools teach. Does anyone in the SBC education facilities not know that Southern Seminary is heavily Calvinistic? I don’t buy that. If he didn’t know, he should have. So basically, he is calling these professors liars for not being forthcoming in the hiring interview. No, the real issue is covering up the misappropriation of funds and unfortunately the Board of Trustees voted to refuse to hear any evidence against Dr. Aguillard. Since this whole debacle is in our local paper, Southern Baptist are looking really bad.

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