Thursday, September 08, 2005

Live From Ft. Worth

I'm in Ft. Worth today attending a conference on religious liberty that the Center for Leadership Development at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is sponsoring. I decided to do a little opposition research to see if Southern Baptists still believe anything that they did when I went to this school in the late 1970's and early 80's.

I arrived a little early and drove to the new (to me) alumni conference center named for one of my former professors, Dr. Jack MacGorman. My hotel room at the conference center is literally across the street from where Kylene (my wife) and I lived for the three years that I worked on my master's degree. That house was torn down long ago to make room for a Baptist Book Store -- now LifeWay. Fittingly, my room in the conference center is called the "Jimmy Draper Guest Room," named after one of the takeover presidents of the SBC who became the head of the Baptist Sunday School Board which operates LifeWay.

This is the first time that I have been on campus since the day after Dr. Russell Dilday, former President of the Seminary, was fired -- sometime in the early 90's (I've forgotten the year, but remember the time well).

The most noticeable difference between those days and today is the vacant atmosphere of the campus. I expected to have difficulty finding a place to park. That was the biggest problem around campus when I was a student. It was still a problem in the early 90's. Today the parking lots are empty, and numerous parking spaces are open on every street around the campus.

I knew that enrollment was down at the Seminary, but until today the magnitude of the decline escaped me.

Truthfully, in those days it was harder to find a parking space around the Seminary on a Saturday, when classes were out, than it is to find one today when classes are in session.

Whatever else the Fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention did, it didn't do anything positive for the enrollment at Southern Baptist seminaries.


John said...

If you recall, back in those days we were allowed to park on the street around campus. Even with that, it was a struggle to find a spot after 9am during the week.

Now, the City has taken away all of the street parking and I am amazed how much space is still available on campus during the day.

Jonathan said...

"opposition" is strong word. i am someone who isn't happy with the SBC for a number of issues. but God still loves "them," which might mean that we need to as well, despite theological and personal differences. "oppostion" implies a battle, a war, a competition. we're not trying to "win more souls" than them.
i can understand where you come from, and the mentality that you have. i've heard the stories. but it was a long time ago. the SBC is the way that it is, and it's not going to change.
i'm not telling you what to do, and i'm by no means telling you how to write in your own blog. by all means, one's blog should be where they can express whatever they want. what i am asking though, as a moderate baptist, is that you consider that you are seen as a representation of "this side."

David Flick said...

Bruce, I've only been back to the SWBTS campus twice since I graduated (in '74). Haven't been back a single time since Patterson became president. In my mind, the day Patterson became president of the institution was the blackest day in the history of Southwestern. On that day, I turned my SW certificate upside down. I would have burned the d***** thing, but I wanted something as a reminder that I at least graduated from the institution when it was still a credible seminary... (3rd photo on bottom row)

Greek Shadow said...

I was only at SWBTS for one year, but what I remember most about it was the atmosphere. When you walked on campus everyone was not just friendly, but you felt a loving spirit -- it was tangible -- you could feel it, taste it and sense it every other way. I have never been anywhere that was like that -- not even Glorieta. Those were really difficult days for my first wife who was very ill when we moved into student housing a couple of months before the semester began. I remember when word of her hospitalization reached Dr. Drumwright he made a special effort to visit her, where else would a Dean of an institution that size go out of their way for someone who hadn't even attended a single class yet? The true crime of the Fundamentalists has been killing that loving spirit and replacing it with Legalism, Judgementalism, and rigid conformity. The Love was strangled the day Dilday was fired. I'm not surprised that what was once the Seminary with the world's largest enrollment is now a shell of its former self. It stopped being a place of learning and became a Brain Washing Academy a long time ago. All Baptists should weep for what has been lost.

Greek Shadow said...

I've never claimed I had a lock on "The Truth". I readily admit that my beliefs are personal and accept the fact that other people think differently. Paige Patterson and those who took over the SBC and the Seminaries are the ones who cannot accept opposing ideas. And have obviously chased off any "Free Thinker" who might be amellinial or gap theorist or think that there were two or three Isaiah's or that someone other than Paul wrote Hebrews, etc. And that has been born out by their drop in enrollment.
Furthermore I was only stating my opinion, and as such it will be subjective instead of objective hence judgemental, nature of the beast, old man.

Hershael W York said...

Bruce, once again you paint with too broad a brush. Southern Seminary's enrollment is the highest in its history. Funny how you visit one seminary and make a general statement about the other five with no facts to back up your assertion. Par for the course.

Snoofy said...


One third of the enrollment at Southern Seminary is now undergraduate. If you subtract that off is enrollment still the highest in history?

Scott Slayton said...

Take away the undergrads at SBTS and you still have a very high enrollment. Plus you have to consider the immense popularity of SEBTS as well.

Roger said...

Greek Shadow,
It's too bad that my earlier post was now makes your comments useless as you replied to something that is no longer there. But to follow up on your logic: you have a personal opinion, and I have a personal opinion - but they are irrelevant if they are just our opinions and not grounded in truth. Truth is what matters. So we must ultimately seek truth.