Thursday, September 20, 2012

Memo to Midwestern Seminary CEO Search Committee


I see where you have selected a candidate whom the entire trustee body will, presumably, confirm to be the new president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

[Baptist Press story: Jason Allen Nominated to Lead Midwestern]

No doubt all of the committee and trustees are aware that with two failed leaders in the recent past, Midwestern, occasionally described as the weakest of our six seminaries, is suffering more than necessary. If not for the North American Mission Board's spectacular leadership failures, MWBTS would easily be our most troubled institution. NAMB has fixed their problems. One hopes that you are on the road to fixing yours.

You are aware that some Southern Baptists are offering early, gentlemanly criticism of your candidate.

[Peter Lumpkins: Courting Disaster: The Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and No Questions Answered About Presidental Candidate Dr. Jason K. Allen Until After Trustees Vote
Tim Guthrie: Don't Ask, Trust Us! We are in trouble!]

Yes, these are bloggers, but I would speculate that as many Southern Baptists have read their articles as have read the news article of our denominational press.

The questions that are raised are surely things the search committee has spoken of: age, experience, academic background, churchmanship, church affiliation record, and probably most importantly calvinism.

I understand your chairman's desire to be tight-lipped about all of this until the trustee meeting on October 15th and no one questions that Southern Baptists have trusted this process to autonomous trustees, but it might be helpful for you to consider a few things between now and the trustee meeting.

First, Calvinism is the issue of our day. Perhaps you are aware that there are some prominent Southern Baptists individuals and churches who have pulled their funding from two other seminaries on this basis. Perhaps you know that there are Associational Missionaries and others who look askance, rightly or wrongly, at graduates from these two seminaries on the basis of their perceived Calvinistic bent. Do you really think it advantageous to your nominee for the committee not to respond to this? Surely not. If you say nothing, others will define your candidate. You know him best. You have discussed these things. Speak up, please.

Second, this is a different day than ten or twenty years ago. It is not that we do not trust the trustees (even though their past presidential selections have been demonstrably poor ones), we live in a time when Southern Baptists have more access far more quickly to information. You cannot afford to keep silent and let only those who have objections color your candidate for the next few weeks.

Third, I read where prominent SBC leaders (Paul Pressler, Al Mohler, Tom Olliff, and others) have praised your candidate. Good, but general praise from SBC luminaries is insufficient. No doubt the two failed leaders were highly praised as well. More is needed than this. In the absence of information, Southern Baptists in the past have looked to leaders for their signals on how to think on some issues. Such is not so much the case today. More is needed.

Finally, almost all SBCers want to see stability and ethical Christian leadership at our seminary, things that have been missing in the recent past. We pour a lot of Cooperative Program money into MWBTS and deserve more success there for what we are spending. I surmise that most of us make no presumptions about your candidate but legitimate questions have been raised. If you rely on the processes of the past and ignore them, you may harm his chances for success.

You have my prayers.


Anonymous said...


Thanks brother. I think your piece is well written, balanced, and surely should be read by all concerned Southern Baptists.

I fear far too many trustees today see themselves more as replacing Southern Baptists in the decision-making process rather than being obliged to act on behalf of all Southern Baptists. The former allows for an agenda separate from Southern Baptists at large whereas the latter connects to the best interests of all Southern Baptists.

With that, I am...

Anonymous said...

I have no comments about the process, Calvinism, his church record, or other issues that seem to rile the faithful, but give me some time and I am sure I could come up with something. But I do wish to take issue with a statement made of Allen by Shrum:

"Though young in years, Jason is rich in experience that crosses a wide spectrum of ministry concerns such as local church ministry, denominational service, seminary administration, teaching and executive experience."

He's 35. Let’s categorize this rich in experience thing:

1) local church,
2) denominational service,
3) seminary administration,
4) teaching, and
5) executive experience.

He's 35. Rich in experience? No he is not. In most places he does not have a record for tenure, likely not even in the institution that he will lead. And that is just one of the rich in experience categories.

But that does not mean he will not do a good job. Duke McCall was only a few years older when he was tapped to lead SBTS. And he did very well. More conservative than my taste is Midwestern, but more theological education is better than less (unless it is so whack that ....) I wish him luck in turning the place around.

But, please, cease the nonsense 'rich in experience' talk and find a truthful way to express why he was chosen.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone even considered how the faculty at Midwestern feels about this presidential selection?

Tom Parker said...


I am confused about several things:

1. How many times in my lifetime have I been told to trust the trustees--does this not apply anymore and if so what changed?

2. Does he believe and will say he believes in inerrancy?

3. Does he 100% support the 2000 BF&M and is he willing to sign off on this?

4. Is Calvinism the disqualifer for those that do not support his becoming President?

I could ask other questions, but this is enough.

Anonymous said...

Concerning MBTS faculty perceptions, perhaps puzzlement. With PhD less than a year, coupled with thin academic experience, they are probably thinking about adding a line in the budget for tissues to keep their leader's ears dry. If hired, expect "he's the one" Don't blame them. They need work like everyone else.