A Call for Action: We Want Bass Back

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[Revised December 21, 2018 to include Dr. Bass statement after appeal hearing. See paragraph 1.]

[Revised December 19, 2018 to include support letters from SBC seminary professors.  See paragraph 4, Thomas J. Nettles, PhD (SWBTS); Malcolm B. Yarnell III, DPhil (Oxford); Jonathan W. Arnold, DPhil (Oxford); Tyler Flatt, PhD (Harvard)]

[Revised and expanded December 17, 2018 with evidence and documentation]

Problem

Dr. Clint Bass was dismissed from Southwest Baptist University (SBU) on November 28, 2018 with no severance. Dr. Bass was promised an appeal hearing before the Educational Policies and Personnel Committee during which he and the administration would be provided 30 minutes to speak, with 5 minutes for rebuttal. According to the faculty handbook (p.30, sec. 2.10.5), “the burden of proof that adequate cause exists shall be on the University, which proof shall be by clear and convincing evidence in the record considered as a whole.” The promise made for a fair hearing was not met by SBU, and Dr. Bass was never given an opportunity to give his appeal. He has released a statement following the hearing. The statement reads:
 
On Wednesday, a Trustee committee promised me a fair appeal hearing.  We were to meet at 9 a.m.  Each side was to speak for thirty minutes, uninterrupted, with five minutes of rebuttal. I never received that hearing today.  The witnesses that had shown up with me were never allowed to enter the room. 
 
Instead, the Committee demanded I agree to keep the appeal process secret.  When I asked for time to consult with legal counsel, I was denied.  After I refused, the Committee asked me questions until nearly 2 p.m., directed by the University's lawyer.  A focus was my communications with other Missouri Baptists, and whether those communications were immoral.   Meanwhile, University staff published a post accusing me of dishonesty. 
 
After it became clear I would not receive the promised hearing, I told the committee that I would not answer further questions without an agreement for a fair process and attorney. I was ready to participate in the process promised to me. I am grieved for SBU that the Administration did not honor those promises.

Dr. Bass is genuinely aligned with the doctrine of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). Unlike many of his colleagues, Dr. Bass embraces with enthusiasm the Baptist Faith & Message (BFM) 2000. When Dr. Bass informed SBU’s administration of his concerns about the doctrinal instability of the college of theology and ministry, they demanded under threat of dismissal, that he surrender his personal diary of notes supporting his concerns. Upon providing such documentation, those accused either denied or repositioned, and as a result, administration fired Dr. Bass.

The notes and observations, for which Dr. Bass has been dismissed, had the approval of the leadership within the MBC. Leadership within the MBC contacted Dr. Bass because there were suspicions regarding the doctrine taught in the Redford college. President Turner and Provost Skinkle have deemed Dr. Bass’s notes and observations unethical and his allegations “unfounded.”

Contrary to the judgment of President Turner and Provost Skinkle, SBC seminary professors have written letters of support for Dr. Bass. These professors share many of Dr. Bass' concerns. Two of the letters provide specific defenses of Dr. Bass' conduct and call into question the actions of SBU's administration.  All of the letters have been distributed to SBU's Board of Trustees.
 
The letters written on behalf of Dr. Bass are from Thomas J. Nettles, Senior Professor of Historical Theology (The Southern Baptist Seminary); Malcolm B. Yarnell III, Research Professor of Systematic Theology (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary); and a joint letter by Jonathan W. Arnold, Assistant Professor of Christian Theology and Church History (Boyce College) and Tyler Flatt, Assistant Professor of Humanities (Boyce College).

Missouri Baptists should be concerned not only about the theology being taught in the Redford College of Theology and Ministry at SBU, but they should also be concerned about the way SBU’s administration has handled their investigation into Dr. Bass’s claims and his subsequent dismissal. Dr. Bass is a tenured faculty member with a pristine record as an employee of SBU. Not only this, he is a faithful pastor and a respected scholar.

Documentation and Evidence

In Dr. Bass’s dismissal letter President Eric Turner stated that “a systematic inquiry of the allegations” was conducted and that the “allegations made were determined as unfounded.” President Turner determined this despite being given testimony written by numerous alumni and pastors that corroborate Dr. Bass’s claims. None of the students or pastors he cited were contacted over the course of this “systematic inquiry.”   

Please see the evidence documented below to show that the SBU Administration's judgment upon Dr. Bass’s allegations is unfounded.

Audio gathered from an SBU forum confirms several of Dr. Bass’s allegations. The forum reveals that some of the Redford faculty deny an understanding of hell as eternal conscious torment, endorse forms of inclusivism, and suggest that there is an after-death process of salvation (a purgatorial view). You can listen to a 6-minute compilation of quotes here. If you want the context of the full version, it's here.

On December 4, 2018, a student asked President Turner if faculty in the Redford college “affirm the Baptist Faith and Message” – to which President Turner answered, “they do affirm it, they sure do.”  But, several weeks earlier President Turner was given this email exchange, in which it is clear that Redford faculty is not held, and do not want to be held to this statement of belief. This email exchange was being used by the dean to claim that Dr. Bass was undermining the integrity of the Redford college.  

In the chain of emails, the dean asked faculty members for advice on how to respond to theological questions asked by the father of a prospective student. Dr. Bass found the dean’s response to the father to be intentionally evasive and shares his concern in the same forum that the dean had initiated the conversation.  You may read the email chain here.

Please see further documentation in the links provided below.

SBU should employ professors who can adhere to 2 Corinthians 4:2 and be open and honest about the statement of truth they believe. As Paul says, commend yourself before God to everyone’s conscience by an open display of the truth.  

Thank you Dr. Bass for being open and honest about what you believe—we are praying for the Lord to work mightily to bring you back.

Further evidence:

We are providing documentation here with permission from Dr. Bass, who desires for the truth to be known. All evidence we have provided above and below either belong to Dr. Bass, or are public, and thus there is no breach of confidentiality.

Summary overview and evidence: This document outlines events leading to Dr. Bass’s dismissal and summarizes theological viewpoints in Redford that conflict with the BFM 2000.
Redford in their own words: This document contains direct quotations of Redford faculty that conflict with the BFM 2000.
Dr. Bass’s Dismissal letters: This document contains Dr. Bass’s dismissal letters from Dr. Turner and Dr. Skinkle.

Solution

We call for the trustees and President Turner to reinstate Dr. Bass and to employ a third-party to investigate the theological beliefs and teaching of Redford faculty as a way to bring SBU into doctrinal alignment with the churches of the Missouri Baptist Convention.



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