Today (April 21) Baylor inaugurated its thirteenth president, John Mark Lilley. Check out the two-hour ceremony (often taking the form of an ordination) to make a more informed decision as to whether Baylor considers itself a Christian institution of higher learning.

In this article from March 10, Associated Baptist Press offers a thoughtful discussion of the "free-church tradition" and the functionality of the "magisterium" and encompasses the question of whether Baylor should model itself after Notre Dame: "Debate about Baylor's future asks: Should Baptists learn from Catholics?"

The last three graphs of the story are instructive:

So, the question comes full circle. Should Baylor University model itself after Notre Dame? Not entirely and certainly not uncritically, said new Baylor President John Lilley.

“I certainly respect the great reputation of Notre Dame, but I think Baylor should be allowed to grow in its own environment, with its own sense of identity,” Lilley said.

“I’m sure there are lessons at Notre Dame that we should learn and could use, but I think great institutions can develop their own benchmarks. It’s an overstatement to say we’re trying to become the Notre Dame of the Southwest or the Notre Dame of Baptist life. We will go our own way, and follow our own lights.”

Also, if you remember the Baylor discussion from a few weeks ago (click here for a review), please consider this conversation in brief between two Christian friends on the run in re Baylor and inerrancy:

Christian A:

OK, here’s my question: if Baylor has “taught secular geology and biology for 100 years” (by that, I assume, is meant the anti-biblical theory of evolution) and has always employed “religion” professors of the “moderate-to-liberal variety” (by that, I assume, is meant those who do not recognize the inerrancy of God’s Word and who read it [when they do] in such a way as to support their own preferences), then why, exactly, is it “a great place to get a Christian education?” What is distinctly Christian about it? And why would a Christian parent want to pay $100,000 to someone in order to have them undermine and subvert everything the parent has instilled in them for 18 years?

Christian B:

Inerrancy is a ticklish subject. Baylor has generally steered away from the fights over inerrancy. Number One: what does inerrancy mean? I trust by inerrancy you don’t mean literalism. I trust that by inerrancy you mean that the Bible is divinely inspired but the product of human hands and subject to human error. That position is consistent with what you learn at Baylor in its religion department.

I would say that Baylor is a very Baptist place. Moreover, Baylor is still a very evangelical Christian place...

I would say that Baylor is a very Baptist place. Moreover, Baylor is still a very evangelical Christian place (at least under the Bebbington definition: “conversionism, activism, Biblicism and crucicentrism”).

Why Baylor? From the Baylor Mission Statement:

Pro Ecclesia. Baylor is founded on the belief that God's nature is made known through both revealed and discovered truth. Thus, the University derives its understanding of God, humanity, and nature from many sources: the person and work of Jesus Christ, the biblical record, and Christian history and tradition, as well as scholarly and artistic endeavors. In its service to the church, Baylor's pursuit of knowledge is strengthened by the conviction that truth has its ultimate source in God and by a Baptist heritage that champions religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Without imposing religious conformity, Baylor expects the members of its community to support its mission. Affirming the value of intellectually informed faith and religiously informed education, the University seeks to provide an environment that fosters spiritual maturity, strength of character, and moral virtue.

I think Baylor lives up to the above statement. Baylor is not a completely “safe” or sheltered intellectual environment in terms of reaffirming instilled orthodoxy, but Baylor provides, as the statement says, a “religiously informed education.” In addition, the culture of the university is distinctively Christian in practice. Baylor as an institution gives every advantage and encouragement to students who take their faith seriously.

Christian A:

I’m leaving in about 5 minutes for the rest of the week, but briefly:

Actually, what I mean is that “All Scripture is inspired by God [God-breathed] and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness ….” (II Tim. 3:16). And that “… no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (II Pet. 1:20-21). So, since God does not and cannot err, Scripture contains no errors in the original manuscripts. Men may err in retranslating Scripture, but the original manuscripts are the Word of God and literally infallible/without error. So, yes, I mean literalism.

“Errancy” is a lot more “ticklish” than inerrancy – if some is correct and some is wrong, how do you know which parts are reliable? Why should you pay attention to any of it if God is unable to give us His Word without error? Why worship a God Who cannot effectively communicate to His creation? Oh, wait, if the Bible isn’t inerrant, then we’re not God’s creation – we just oozed up from the slime pit.

Gotta go – I’m late.

Christian B:

Thanks, A. Something for you when you get back:

I think I agree that “errancy” is a lot more ticklish than inerrancy, especially if you are looking for all the answers. However, it seems to me that right now “we see through a glass dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been known. But now abide faith, hope love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:12-13). But I certainly would not discount faith. In other words, God’s Truth is the Truth, but God’s Truth is infinite. We are finite beings. We are actually poor stewards of the Truth. Would God be wise to entrust us with the whole Truth? Would that even be possible? I firmly believe that part of our challenge as humanity is to walk humbly with God in his light on faith. Grasping onto inerrancy assumes a human capacity that we do not have. In my mind, inerrancy actually repeats the sin of Adam: hubris. If we have God’s final word and the capacity to understand it fully, then we are on a par with God. I don’t think it works that way.

I think the difference between God-inspired on one hand and God-dictated and -protected on the other is something on which reasonable evangelical Christians might disagree. On the other hand (I am up to three hands and counting), if I have this wrong, I am confident that the blood of Christ will cover my mistake.

Talk to you soon. Have a happy and safe trip.



PS “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).

Christian A:

The fact that we, as flawed humans, cannot understand the full meaning of every part of Scripture or that we might make errors in interpreting and/or applying it does not detract from the fact that the Word Itself is inerrant. We err, but the Word does not. If the Word Itself is errant, then what’s the point of paying any attention to it? Do we, as flawed, fallen human beings with incomplete knowledge then determine which parts of God’s Word are legitimate and which aren’t? What sense does that make? The only other option is to discount all of it and just grope in the darkness!

God may not have entrusted us with “the whole Truth,” but we know that what He did entrust us with is the Truth. He did not give us error! To use your question: “would God be wise” to give us error masquerading as Truth???

As for God protecting His Word, look at Matt. 5:18 and Luke 16:17. Inspiration is not dictation, but it certainly includes God’s ability to assure that there are no errors in the words, phrases, and facts used by the authors. [To use a ridiculously mundane example]: You might allow a student to co-write a historical account in his own style, etc. – BUT YOU WOULD BE SURE TO CORRECT ANY ERRORS before allowing your name to be attached to it in publication. Wouldn’t you?

Finally, why is inerrancy a problem when no one has ever demonstrated any errors in Scripture (remember, we’re talking about the original manuscripts)?

Always good to interact with you,