Journal's sexual content prompts Baylor seminary to sever ties

DALLAS (BP)--Baylor University's Truett Theological Seminary has severed ties with a quarterly Baptist journal, Review & Expositor, over content in its recent "Sexuality and the Church" edition.

A second Texas Baptist school, Hardin-Simmons' Logsdon School of Theology, meanwhile, is asking the journal to respond to concerns about the appropriateness of some of the journal's articles.

Both actions were noted in a Dec. 11 news release from the communications office of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Baptist Press, on Dec. 6, issued three news stories on the journal's content.

The Review & Expositor's lead article, penned by Leslie Kendrick Townsend of Louisville, Ky., uses graphic sexual terminology and states, for example, that as the "secret of sexual power is released ... images of human and divine reality emerge that have the power to transform us all."

The journal also includes a sermon text calling for a "feminist liberationist" revision of Ephesians 5 in the New Testament and articles that eschew voicing "the 'right' response" on homosexuality and that advocate church sex education programs not just about abstinence but also contraception for those who become sexually active.

Baylor University has issued a statement, noted in the BGCT news release, describing the material in the journal as "irresponsible" and "inconsistent with the theology embraced" by Truett Seminary. Truett Seminary had been one of the journal's three "sponsor institutions" that included the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology.

The Baylor statement noted, "While academic journals by their nature often include controversial viewpoints and are designed to provoke discussion, this particular issue -- which was not edited by or seen in advance by Truett faculty -- presents ideas that are contrary to sound theological scholarship."

The Baylor statement did not indicate whether one of Truett's faculty members, A.J. Conyers, professor of theology, would continue on the journal's eight-member editorial board. However, Conyers told Baptist Press Dec. 12 he will leave his position on the editorial board.

Also on the editorial board are two individuals who are listed as affiliated with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, G. Wade Rowatt and Thomas Smothers. Both professors, however, are retired, Rowatt in 1995, Smothers in 1999.

Meanwhile, a current Southern Seminary faculty member, Joel F. Drinkard Jr., professor of Old Testament interpretation, is the journal's business manager. He joined the faculty in 1983, before the tenure of current seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. Southern Seminary has had no official association with the journal since 1996.

"Today Dr. Drinkard was formally asked by Dr. Mohler to resign his position as business manager of the Review & Expositor," Danny Akin, dean of Southern Seminary's school of theology, told Baptist Press Dec. 12. "He has asked for time to consider that request and we have honored it."

Concerning Hardin-Simmons' Logsdon School of Theology, the university's vice president for academic affairs, William Ellis, in the BGCT news release, commented, "Hardin-Simmons University is extremely disappointed in the decision of the editorial staff of the Review & Expositor to include articles in its recent issue on 'Sexuality and the Church' which are of an inappropriate nature for a Baptist journal."

Ellis noted specifically that the journal's lead article was inappropriate.

"Consequently, the HSU administration with the support of the dean of the Logsdon School of Theology will ask the journal to review its editorial decision-making processes, and based on the responsiveness of the journal to our concerns, we will decide whether or not HSU will continue its relationship with the journal," Ellis stated.

Logsdon is one of the Review & Expositor's five "patron institutions," that includes Campbell University Divinity School, Gardner-Webb University's White School of Divinity, Central Baptist Theological Seminary and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.

With the exception of Northern Seminary, the sponsor and patron institutions also are partner schools with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

The BGCT's executive director, Charles Wade, said many of the views expressed in journal -- particularly the lead article -- are contrary to the convictions of Texas Baptist leaders, according to the BGCT news release.

"The issue of sexuality and the church is worthy of thoughtful academic discussion and careful examination from a biblical standpoint, but the theological approach taken in the lead article of Review and Expositor was disturbing," Wade said.

"The author's language was distasteful, and her presentation lacked a clear biblical foundation. BGCT leaders certainly do not agree with the viewpoints she expressed. Clearly, this will prompt serious discussion about the future involvement of any BGCT personnel with the journal," Wade said.

In a second BGCT news release Dec. 11, the BGCT director of psychological services, Dan McGee, who served as the issue editor and wrote the editorial introduction, said the journal's lead article on male-female sexuality "does not represent my viewpoint."

McGee described the article as "provocative" and not representative of "traditional Baptist thinking." In addition to serving as the issue editor, McGee contributed an article on marital intimacy emphasizing the sanctity of marriage.


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