The news of Francis Beckwith's denial of tenure at Baylor University doesn't come as much of a surprise to watchers of the situation, given the victory of the old moderate Texas Baptist mafia there. There are some interesting commentaries out there as to what this means for Baylor, and for Christian higher education.
Rod Dreher at the Dallas Morning News concludes: "The fact that a Baptist university cannot bring itself to award tenure to a scholar of Dr. Beckwith's stature is scandalous -- and will cause shock waves beyond Waco."
To watch Baylor University’s apparent collapse, however, is to think that the American college is not, in its present form, capable of being saved. For all their problems, the new, uncredentialed but genuinely religious schools might be the superior option. For all their awkwardness, more prestigious colleges with a religiously serious institute nearby might be the better choice.
Think about it: If you were a young, high-powered academic with ambitions for a Christian school that matched the new intellectual excitement of the American ecumenical endeavor, why would you risk your career at a place like Baylor? You can buy the same kind of trouble at a better price by taking whatever offer you get from an openly secular college.
For that matter, if you were a parent interested in your children’s obtaining intellectually rigorous Christian education, why would you pay the tuition at Baylor University? Indeed, if you were one of those bright, young Christian students, why would you want to go to Baylor in the first place?
For those of you who don't know of Francis Beckwith, he is a brilliant evangelical scholar, who has been unafraid to take on issues of church/state, sanctity of human life, and so forth. He has the academic credentials. He just doesn't fall in line with the creed of the anti-creedalists.
Those of us on the confessionally conservative wing of Baptist life have heard for years from the Texas crowd about soul competency, the priesthood of "the believer," confessional "diversity," and academic freedom.
Now we can see what they had in mind.