A post by Dan Wallace, over at Parchment and Pen, has more than 400 comments and I’ve been asked to weigh in via this letter below. The gist is that Professor Wallace (at Dallas) has suggested there’s enough bias against Dallas and evangelicals to call into question the so-called tolerance and liberalism of the liberals. Dan’s got some exaggerated rhetoric, but what he describes is not an uncommon experience. Sometimes liberalism is a biased form of reverse fundamentalism. Anyway, I publish this letter to get your response. I will respond tonight just after midnight.
I am a student at an evangelical seminary who is thinking of doing PhD work. Recently I happened to notice an evangelical scholar who wrote something about how the mainline universities and divinity schools (i.e. “liberals” according to most) routinely reject students’ applications from evangelical seminaries seemingly because they’re evangelical and therefore must be “anti-intellectual.” I have heard of this kind of thing before, but was not aware that it was as bad as this professor claims. Personally, I would prefer to get a PhD at a mainline institution because I think it will stretch me more intellectually and challenge me more as a Christian. I also think the work (research, etc.) scholars put out at some of these schools is top-notch and we need more evangelicals who go to these schools to learn from them instead of staying in our “safe-haven” institutions.
The questions I would like to ask you & the Jesus Creed community are:
Do non-evangelicals discriminate against evangelicals just because of where they got their education?
Is it to the degree that this professor suggests? Where professors are interested until they find out where the candidate was educated and then give them the cold shoulder?
Is this warranted?
How can this change?
What have been your experiences?
Should students even go to confessional schools if this will inevitably happen and they want to teach elsewhere or be respected outside of the conservative evangelical world?
Are professors at the mainline universities and divinity schools nothing more than left-wing fundamentalists?
If this is going to change any time soon, then we have to get it out in the open and be willing to dialog about it.
Then we can dispel the myths, get the facts straight, and truly be ecumenical and judge people by the content of ther character, how they present their arguments, and how willing they are to change their mind as opposed to by what school they got their masters or PhD at.
Can this bridge be repaired, or does it even need to be?