the green fields beyond


Location: Charles City, Virginia, United States

Thursday, January 17, 2008

For the Love of My School

Hi all...
After trying several other avenues of action, I have written a petition/expression of concern regarding some disturbing recent trends at my seminary. If you are a Westminster alumnus, or are otherwise connected with the school, please check out and consider signing the document. If you don't know what Westminster is, no need to go read something that will probably only depress you.

I hope to post on happier things soon.

UPDATE: for those of you who are curious about this Vision Forum organization I criticize in the document, you can check them out at (be sure to browse their store) and




It might help if the document actually contained some kind of "petition."

From what I gather, your purpose is to smear Peter Lillback with "guilt by association" for speaking to a group you find embarrassing. That's a ridiculously ill-advised paragraph, if you ask me.

And you like Pete Enns. Okay...

What are you asking the seminary to do, exactly? Send depressing alumni newsletters instead of happy ones? You say, "if the seminary continues on its present course" it will end up ineffective, etc., etc., etc." To what "course" are you referring? Allowing Lillback to take outside speaking engagements? Allowing ST professors to publish articles that refer to anonymous conversation partners? Allowing Pete Enns to continue to hawk his book (which, if you didn't notice, has no footnotes, no bibliography, and contains nothing BUT references to anonymous conversation partners)? Is it just as general as, "Stop doing the laundry list of things I don't like!"?

I suspect the faculty and board are hashing things out where mature people hash them out: behind closed doors. From the looks of this petition/expression of concern, if they are worried that airing dirty laundry would be fuel for the fires of semi-hysterical students and alumni armed with potentially foolish fingers and a Blogspot account, they've got plenty of reason to be.

Sorry, this alumnus certainly can't sign this document.

6:19 PM  

Hello, Anonymous! Thanks for reading and responding.
First, while you have the right to remain Anonymous, why do so? I can’t hurt you. I can’t conceive of anyone who would fire you or do anything bad to you for commenting on my blog, so why remain anonymous? Since you’re a fellow WTS alum, we may know each other…I’d much rather have a name to go with the conversation, so please reconsider. After all, I put my name to the document I wrote on the website. And to future posters, if this becomes “anonymous-fest,” I may start deleting comments.

Second, please go back and re-read the document on the saveourseminary website. I think if you’ll read it more closely it may correct some of your misconceptions. For instance, I have no intention to start an anti-Lillback “smear campaign.” I don’t dislike the man; I’ve been helped by some of his lectures on the Puritans and the 10 Commandments, for instance. Neither was I slamming him simply for speaking at an event I don’t like. If you’ll read the relevant portions of the document, you’ll see that Vision Forum (who were delighted to put his name, title, seminary connections, and picture all over their promotional materials) holds positions that are diametrically opposed to what WTS does and teaches. Even leaving aside some of their truly bizarre notions of America as the new Canaan (see their CD “America’s Joshua,” and many other products), which contradict what the Bible teaches about our true Promised Land, they also teach that women shouldn’t go to college or grad school. This is one of their key tenets! How is that supposed to make the hundreds of female students of WTS feel, when their president praises such an organization? I’ll also add that Vision Forum came to my county, to my backyard, for their celebration (which the African-American and white ministers of my county denounced). The list of Vision Forum positions which actively work AGAINST WTS’ teaching goes on and on. So I ask: what message does this send when the president associates himself with them and promotes their work?

Third, I didn’t lightly include the reference to the ST professor. I included it because I had been told by the seminary president and other faculty & administrators that the faculty were not to engage in covert debates. I would actually welcome some open debate on this topic, but instead I’ve seen only thinly-veiled attacks that fool no one. (As to Enns’ book not having a bibliography: it contains extensive “for further reading” lists after every chapter. No, it doesn’t have footnotes, but that’s between Enns and his publisher. I suspect that they wanted the book to reach a popular audience, and didn’t want it burdened with reams of footnotes. But that’s just a guess.)

Fourth, please know that you’re deeply mistaken about “hysterical” students and alumni. You imply in your post that I slapped this document together with my “foolish fingers” and Blogger account. My goodness, Anonymous, if you only knew how un-hasty this process has been for me! If you only knew the lengths that many of us have gone to over the past two years to rectify this through proper channels! The private conversations, the emails and letters to the board…I could go on. Before creating the website, I agonized and prayed and sought wise counsel over EVERY word of that document, to ensure that it was fair and accurate and that I was not slandering anyone. If you’ll peruse some of the Reformed blogosphere, you’ll see that the charge of hysterical or inflammatory blogging can be leveled at many, but not necessarily at the “side” in this debate to which you think you’re referring.

Fifth: as to this being a document w/ no petition, the recipients of the document, and the signers, and the careful readers who have been around WTS, know what “course” I am referring to. A seminary sets a course by the public pronouncements of its faculty and president, by the atmosphere it sets—like telling grad students to keep silent, for instance?--by the faculty it hires or terminates or forces out, etc. In case I was unclear, read the document again, slowly: we are asking for real debate, for an agreement to disagree CHARITABLY, for a president to be careful in which organizations he speaks to, and for a refusal to narrow the Westminster Standards beyond what they actually say (in the Enns situation but also in many others). If the board wants to debate that “behind closed doors,” fine, but as an alumnus, as a representative of the seminary to prospective students, etc, I also have the right to try to make my concerns known to them before they go into their closed debates.

I hope this has helped, but I fear that it hasn’t. Again, please read the document carefully and you’ll see that every sentence has a careful purpose. And to all readers: I don’t intend to keep responding at such length. And please give your names! I don’t bite!

12:21 AM  

So I went to the website. Had you not linked to it and already made it obvious that these people are for real, I would have assumed it was connected with Larknews. How depressing/shocking/ignorant...

11:58 AM  

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