Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Good article at Ethics Daily

As one who taught a basic course in Christian ethics at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Buenos Aires for about a decade, I try to stay abreast of developments and related themes as they pertain to theological education. In an excellent article today from Ethics Daily, William Brackney poses the critical question, "Do Theological Schools Serve as Ethical Communities?" He asks some very pointed questions and provides some thoughtful analysis along the way.

I'd like to quote one section of the article in particular in which he asks, "What exactly does it mean to be a practicing ethical community?" His response follows: "One can take a cue from the school of character ethics. Certain traits are valued and undergird all decisions and behavior. These include: equality of persons; freedom of conscience; voluntary assent to confessional statements; democratic decision-making; shared governance; healthy collegial interaction; transparency in administration; pastoral concern within the community; protection of human rights; the practice of grace and civility; and an overall allegiance to the lordship of Christ. The Christian ethicist understands that all of these characteristics have their root in Scripture."

While one cannot issue a blanket condemnation of the existing Southern Baptist seminaries with regard to their failure to exhibit the character qualities that Brackney references in this paragraph, it's clear nonetheless that many of these basic ethical qualities have been woefully absent or under-represented in the administration of some Baptist seminaries in recent years.

I'd suggest that it's high time that concern for theological orthodoxy which has occupied center stage among Baptists be accompanied by a sound measure of ethical praxis in which our walk indeed matches our talk. A good place to begin that recovery would be to return to the writings of one of Southern Baptists finest ethics professors, T. B. Maston, who espoused that simple truth in one of his books entitled, To Walk as He Walked. It seems that the apostle Paul would concur with the need to do just that (Gal. 5:16, 25; Eph. 4:1, Eph. 5:2,8; Col. 1:10, 2:6).

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