Theological Education Bubble II: Driving an SUV could make you a goat, but an atheist advocate of abortion might be a sheep

Close to forty years ago Singer wrote a powerful paper in ethics on the culpability of rich people in allowing the poor of the world to die. And yet rather than read that paper and Singer’s other work on the plight of the world’s poor, self-righteous suburban evangelicals continue to drive their big fat SUVs, tithe 4% of their income (on average) and stand in judgment of his views on abortion. What damnable hypocrisy. Before you call Peter Singer evil try reading the parable of the sheep and goats half a dozen times whilst setting aside your self-righteous certainty that you’re a sheep and Singer is a goat.

Randal Rauser, Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Taylor Seminary, Edmonton

I live in literalville.  I suppose Prof. Randal Rauser could provide nuance for the above quote that is cited at Triablogue, or perhaps deny that he made it.  But I find it curious that he would prefer an atheist and an advocate of abortion–which is in my book the killing of youngest, poorest and most innocent human beings–over evangelicals who drive SUVs.  Given that  abortions in the last few decades number in the 100s of millions, it is a genocide of epic proportions.  Millions of Rauser’s own contemporaries have already been snuffed out  (as he was born circa 1975, after Roe vs. Wade).

I wonder also about the finances of Taylor Seminary.  I know that they recently went through a financial restructuring.  Hey, all you donors and friends of  Taylor Seminary and College. Do you live in a suburb?   Do you drive an SUV?  Perhaps you think that abortion is worse than driving a SUV.  Did you realize that your hard earned dollars were going to support a professor who thinks that your driving a SUV is damnable?  Perhaps it’s time you got on the phone with the president there.

I’ve written about this sort of thing before. As a donor to theological education, I don’t understand why I, a business man and an investor, have to donate to progressive education which is inimical to those who create wealth.  It’s a contradiction and an absurdity, when the livelihood of those who teach in theological education depends wholly on such people.  For if we let this sort of thing continue, we will end up with theological students like PoserorProphet, and it is a waste of our money to help him along his way so he can teach others to be anarcho-marxist-zealot Christians like himself.

Signed,

A suburban driver of a big fat SUV (but only when my wife lets me drive it), who “tithes” a mere 2.64% on average

A lawsuit? No way!

At the last Regent breakfast at the New Orleans SBL, I had the opportunity to share with some friends that I had become an investor.  After finishing my PhD in 1996, I was an adjunct for a year and a half, and after that I began to teach pro bono in Africa for period of eight years between 1998-2006.  During that period, my wife and I started the Barnabas Venture, so that we could raise funding for scholarships to make up for the lack of qualified African professors in French-speaking Africa.  Then, with some spare time on my hands between trips to Africa, I began to dream about how we could make more money so that we would be able to give even more than ever before.  That is when I began to take some serious risks in our personal and registered DIY trading accounts.

When I shared this with Prof. Rikk Watts who presided the Regent breakfast he was extraordinarily positive.  I particularly appreciated his encouragement to “thrive”.  I spent some time one evening with a number of Regent alumni, both men and women (Prof. Watts was there too), and I appreciated their joie de vivre, as we had a time of sharing in the apartment of an alumnus, and then we went to listen to live jazz music in New Orleans.  I took my leave after listening to some spirited trombone solos.  It was a great time.

Recently someone asked me in the comments section if I was going to sue Prof. Stackhouse.  I pretty much hold that as Christians we can be wronged because Christ forgives us.  This person then said that he/she was planning to sue Regent because of being forced to accept Intelligent Design. I find that unacceptable.  I am not interested in winning a battle in the courts.  The courts are predominantly leftist institutions and I am a conservative.  I hate it when those who can’t get their way through legislation force their agenda through court-made law.  This is an usurpation of democracy.  I would hope to be able instead to make cogent arguments for my views and hopefully win in the court of public opinion.

I am now told by a member of the Regent staff that my blog is being read with “great interest and passion”.  This surprises and daunts me.  And I feared that my blogs would be misinterpreted as the rantings of malcontent. But I admit that my recent postings are based upon a narrow experience with just a few from the Regent community: debates with the student PoserorProphet, interactions with full-time Prof. Stackhouse on his blog, and my recent reading of some writings of a summer-school professor, Dr. Diewert.  But this is an admittedly small sample of what Regent College has to offer and I am by no means writing off the school.   So I asked a few people what they thought, including a full-time professor at a theological school with years of experience in administration.  For the most part, they have encouraged me not to back down.  Indeed, I had the impression that as someone outside of academics, I am able to say certain things insiders might wish to say, but for various reasons are not permitted.  E.g., I can openly argue that the diversity created by affirmative action has seriously lowered quality–a position usually only maintained by retired professors who no longer fear repercussions for expressing unpopular opinions.  I can also see why students would be reluctant to criticize the administration or a faculty member, or why fellow professors would hesitate to criticize their colleagues.

I am an alumnus and an historical supporter of Regent College and no lawsuit has entered my head.  I am appalled by the person who suggests taking a lawsuit against Regent.   But I’ve questioned the wisdom of allowing certain anti-capitalist and anarchist tendencies to find a home at Regent because I am wondering aloud in the blogosphere how those who are making the money which supports theological education, through risk taking and hard work, should react when that education evidently promotes views which if implemented would undermine their ability to “thrive”–and this doesn’t apply to Regent College only.  Obviously Regent is a wonderfully diverse place and there must be some differences of opinions, at least I hope that there is.  And one could question why I would chose the public space called “the internet” to try to initiate a discussion.  Well the answer to that is quite simple:  It seems entirely appropriate to me to express the disagreements that I have with the views of Prof. Stackhouse, PoserorProphet or Dr. Dave Diewert, here in the blogosphere, because that is where I became acquainted with their views.

Hath not a half Korean eyes? Part VI: An alumnus bug squashed

Prof. John Stackhouse sitting atop his endowed perch as Regent College’s Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology, wrote (at Stackblog):

You certainly make it clear when dialogue is a waste of time. Your rage and bitterness simply render conversation impossible. I’m frankly glad you’re not in the academy where you can influence people. I hope you’re good at making people money as the “righteous investor” you advertise yourself to be, but I think we’re done listening to you on this subject.

Offline, I asked Prof. Stackhouse to kindly remove these comments from his blog, as they were ad hominem.  I told him I would not mind if he removed all of my other comments to that point, or that he could make suggestions as to how I should edit them to make them less offensive.  But he refused.  So I wrote:

I don’t understand why you would wish to create a public spectacle.  I am a speck of dust, a dung beetle in the scholarly and academic world compared to you.  You are an international speaker, an esteemed professor at Regent College, and writer of seven books.  I’m nobody.  What could you possibly have to gain from this?’

I want to write now about how Prof. Stackhouse has potentially undermined the relationship between the alumni and the school by squashing an alumus bug in this manner.  Higher education is an extremely expensive venture.  Typically schools depend on three major sources of funding:  (1) Tuition fees from students; (2) government grants; (3) fund raising, often among alumni.  For example, my wife and I have until last year, always made a small annual contribution to Regent College.

Ideally, alumni and schools have a cordial relationship of mutual responsibility.  A school has responsibilities to their alumni: (1) to maintain a good reputation in the community; (2) to help the graduates to find jobs; (3) to maintain a steady mission which is consistent with the school’s founding.  Alumni are responsible (1) to provide financial support for the school, presumably because they are now experiencing pecuniary benefits from the education that they received.  (2) They are also responsible for recommending the school to potential students –they are a recruitment wing of the school; a few years ago I recommended that my colleague apply for scholar or missionary in residence so that his wife could attend Regent College–she was accepted as a mature student and did extremely well in her program.  (3) The alumni have a responsibility to make sure that the school remain on track in achieving its mission.  Thus, debate, even passionate debate regarding school policy is normal.  I think we see such an example of that on Stackblog.   In this case, the debate was between an alumnus, me, and a professor, Prof. Stackhouse, and the subject was preferential hiring of minorities and women so as to address the apparent lack of diversity in the current faculty of Regent College.

What is not normal is that one of these parties then seek to destroy the other, as Stackhouse has done to me.  To be sure, the accusation of bitterness and rage is serious for Christians.  One only need to look at numerous examples of Christian paranesis in the New Testament where such sins are heartily discouraged.  Prof. Stackhouse’s apparent intention is to ban me permanently from the academy.  If he felt that it was wrong what I was saying, he could have very kindly confronted me offline and made suggestions regarding how I might edit my comments to ameliorate their tone.  He has complete control of his wordpress blog.  He can refuse to publish anything that he felt unseemly.  He can even remove the entire conservation if he like.  But he has chosen instead to squash this bug.

I wonder if Prof. Stackhouse discussed his public denouncement of me with the President of Regent College, with the vice President in charge of development, with the assistant in charge of alumni relations, or even with the other members of the faculty.  It is a matter which concerns them too.

Perhaps in some ways, the most troubling and revealing aspect of Prof. Stackhouse’s treatment of me is the hostility with which he treated my current attempts at investing.  “I hope you’re good at making people money as the ‘righteous investor’ you advertise yourself to be.”  The overt hostility towards my investing is deeply problematic.  Doesn’t Regent College need people who know how to make money to make donations?  So why would a professor mock the money making efforts of an alumnus?  Does he have something against making money?  If so, I think all the alumni need to be aware that their ability to give to the school and at least some of the teaching of the College are incompatible.

This is one of the problems of left wingers.  While they depend on those who create wealth, their policies are hostile to wealth creation.  It is revealing indeed that Prof. Stackhouse would mock the Righteous Investor–as far as I can see it wasn’t at all germane to the discussion, yet he was literally making fun of a couple of us for the apparent irrelevance of our comments.  It wasn’t always this way at Regent.  If I was open to becoming an investor after attaining a PhD in theology, it was due to the strong lay theology of Prof. Paul Stevens and the focus on marketplace ministry of Regent College.  My understanding was that Regent College was founded to be a place where lay people from many different professions, even business people, entrepreneurs and investors, could come and learn theology, so that they could intelligently integrate their professional activities with their Christian faith.  This is what made Regent College special.  In those days, Marx was read not for inspiration but in order to have a cogent Christian response to the teachings of Marxists.  Today, however, Regent professors and students are just as likely to join the anarchists and the Marxists in their protests against the Olympics or in some other anti-capitalist activity.  They have become, as Prof. Klaus Bockmuehl suggested, Lenin’s “useful idiots” (C. S. Lewis Institute speech, min. 9:53).  So we, I as an investor and my wife as a business woman, are deeply worried about the direction of the school.

This phenomenon is not unique to Regent College.  It is well known that university faculties across North America are far to the left on the political spectrum when compared to the population in general.  This left wing bias in higher education is achieved by blacklisting conservatives, as Prof. Stackhouse has done to me.  Eventually, the teachings of the university begin to conflict with and undermine the money making activities of their alumni.  At a certain point, however, the alumni must ask if they will continue to support a venture which has become hostile to their support.  If the university promotes measures which destroy the wealth making, then the relationship between the university and the alumni association falls apart.

Hath not a half Korean eyes? Part V: Principled meritocracy (updated)

Prof. John Stackhouse sitting atop his endowed perch as Regent College’s Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology, wrote:

You certainly make it clear when dialogue is a waste of time. Your rage and bitterness simply render conversation impossible. I’m frankly glad you’re not in the academy where you can influence people. I hope you’re good at making people money as the “righteous investor” you advertise yourself to be, but I think we’re done listening to you on this subject.

Well, now that I know that I am not welcome in North America to teach, once again, I asked Dr. Daniel Kambou if he would have me at the francophone graduate school that he is planning to found in Burkina Faso.  He accepted my services without first asking me to get professional counseling for my rage and bitterness.  Since Kambou lives next door, I think he knows me better than Stackhouse.

In any case, Stackhouse’s pronouncement will not result in a global ban of my teaching services.  I often think about how academics and economics can be harmed by reverting to rewards systems other than meritocracy.  I’ve expounded seriously upon the failure of affirmative action but here are some other reward systems that are available both here and in other countries:

(1) Nepotism:  Students told me in Africa that they could take an aptitude test for a foreign scholarship and do well, but the president will send his nephew in the place of the high performing student.  It should be noted that nepotism in a privately held business is usually not unethical–but it can still frustrate other employees.  But in public companies, churches, universities, and public service, nepotism is extremely dubious and usually unethical.

(2) Sleeping one’s way to the top:  When, e.g., a woman sleeps her way to better grades.  One manifestation of this is the exploitation by male professors of women, but it can sometimes be ruthless women who use their sexuality for advancement.

(3) Old boys’ club:  To get into Harvard, e.g., it is helpful to be a child of a graduate of Harvard university.  Or in business, if you have the right connections, you can get the jobs.

(4) Affirmative action: This seeks to redress perceived historical injustices by preferring certain aggrieved groups in the decision making.  The problem is that it most often leads to a quota system and to a watering down of quality.

(5) Tribalism:  All the best jobs go to a single tribe or coalition of tribes; this usually leads to jealousy and resentment and sometimes to war and genocide.

(6) Plagiarism:  If not punished when caught, plagiarism allows unqualified students and professionals (e.g., journalists) to move up the ranks.

(7) Quotas:  This leads to the limiting of the number of qualified people of an identifiable group from attaining admission in schools or from being hired for jobs.  It was widely used in the 20th century to limit the number of Jewish people accepted into certain universities and is likely being used today to limit the enrollment of Asians.  The idea is that if a group is only 5% or so of the population, it is necessary to limit their numbers to something proportionate to their percentage in the general population.   Affirmative action often becomes a quota system in practice.

(8) Blacklists:  An individual may be temporarily or permanently banned because of bad behavior, but not always:  it could be because of a personal vendetta or an attempt at censorship.  Blacklisting may be accomplished by attacking the character of the person, such as by saying without justification that they are angry and therefore not suitable for a job.  Blacklists are usually not published, and the blacklisting of a person could in some circumstances be illegal in Canada under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).  The fear of being blacklisted discourages whistle-blowers.

(9) Corruption and bribery:  The wealthy and powerful have the means of buying themselves and their friends jobs and offices and this will not depend on their actual ability to perform the function.  This may take the form of a quid pro quo.  For example, if you help the Chinese government by divulging state secrets while you are president, they will pay you a million dollars to give a speech or two once you are out of office.

All such systems clash with a principled meritocracy that rewards talent, ability, hard work and results.

To ameliorate past injustices, such as apartheid or segregation, or a lack of qualified leaders in a diverse group, it may be necessary to promote education among certain groups more than others.  So, for example, we started a scholarship program for evangelical francophone Africans to help promote theological seminaries in that region.   But then this isn’t necessarily inconsistent with meritocracy.  I have no problem saying that Dr Daniel Kambou is more qualified to teach in Burkina Faso than say, Prof. John Stackhouse–he was actually more qualified from day one with only a Master’s degree–this is by virtue of his ability in French and his intimate knowledge of African culture, he is much more qualified to teach in that region than the most prestigious of North American born and trained scholars.

But one of the major failures of affirmative action is that it has largely passed privilege from white men to white women.  That does very little to correct past injustices.  So imagine that you decided that you would correct the injustice of apartheid.  You would just simply give white women the jobs that are held by white men?  How does that help?  Didn’t the white women also benefit from apartheid, or was it only white men?  As an Asian man, I am unimpressed with affirmative action’s correction of past wrongs because it is still mostly white folks that have jobs, it’s just that more of them are women today.  And this gets to the heart of the unfairness.  If you are going to try to correct past wrongs using the above systems, you will likely create new wrongs.  Meritocracy is therefore superior to all the other reward systems listed above.

A Maid to Order Bible, by S. M. Hutchens

I found the following interesting review of Stackhouse’s book Finally Feminist:

Finally Feminist: A Pragmatic
Christian Understanding of Gender
by John G. Stackhouse, Jr.
Baker Academic, 2005
(138 pages, $14.99, paperback)

reviewed by S. M. Hutchens

To remain “biblical,” the Evangelical progressive, these days infallibly marked by his profession of being both orthodox and egalitarian, has never been able to deny outright the parts of the Bible he finds damning to his cause. In the early days of Evangelical feminism, attempts at persuasion tended to concentrate on reinterpretation of the patriarchalist seats of doctrine, especially in the writings of the unfortunate St. Paul, who was viewed as having a particularly difficult time saying what he meant.

With time and critical scrutiny, however, it appeared this project would collapse of its own weight for several reasons, first because the scholarly reinterpretations of sub-egalitarian passages, once the shell shuffling in the journals was done and the pea finally reappeared, still looked strained and unnatural, not to mention at odds with the way these passages had been understood from the Church’s beginnings.

Read the rest

Me again (PWD):

I want to call attention to one of Hutchen’s points that I find revealing.  He says that Stackhouse believes that Paul is right when he is right, and well, wrong when he is wrong.  That is an interesting stance for an evangelical to take.  How does that differ from a liberal view of Scripture?

Might one cautiously suggest that no one who treats St. Paul in this way can consider himself “orthodox” in any historically meaningful sense of the term, or that Paul’s authority is such that if someone cannot submit to sharing his “lenses,” he is not a Christian teacher? Obviously, however, it is not required of the incumbent of J. I. Packer’s old chair, or for the asseveration that one is an orthodox Evangelical.

The history of the Church as an institution of divine authority is of no real concern to scholars like Stackhouse, at least where gender matters are concerned—except as something to be brushed aside. The apparent insouciance with which the confessedly “orthodox” egalitarians cut themselves off at the theological root of church practice, confession, and authority—even that of the Reformation—is nothing short of breathtaking, the admonition here that we not succumb to the temptation of private interpretation of Scripture, surreal.

Does anyone want to lend me this book?  Professor Stackhouse, if you are reading this, do you want to send me a copy?  In light of your attack on me, I’d like to review it.  Perhaps it would explain your malicious reaction towards my views on affirmative action.