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    Entries in Baylor University (6)


    Baylor Sanctuary Movement Appeals to a Higher Law

    The following was written in response to an opinion column in last Saturday's Waco Tribune-Herald. I argue that a healthy society maintains room for dissent, disagreement, and ongoing political discourse concerning what constitutes a good law and can do so while upholding the Rule of Law. I also contend Christians have a moral obligation to act upon principle and under conscience when certain laws are determined to be unjust.

    Discerning How Best to Abide by the Bible

    In France during the 1940s, the citizens of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon risked their lives to harbor Jews who were sought by Nazi patrols and collaborators of the Vichy regime. The citizens of Le Chambon were Protestant Huguenots, led by Pastor André Trocmé and his deputy pastor Edouard Theis. The people of Le Chambon obtained forged identification and ration cards and helped the Jews cross the border to neutral Switzerland. By choosing to resist an unjust law they saved as many as one thousand lives.

    They did not head to the voting booth. Rather, they acted according to conscience and principled beliefs. Their decision was rooted in Christian conviction. Knowing the law of the land, they chose noncompliance and instead appealed to the will of God. They were also willing to accept the consequences if discovered by the state. Rev. Trocmé spoke publicly against the Nazis and was arrested. Daniel Trocmé, Rev. Trocmé’s cousin, was murdered at Maidanek concentration camp. 

    In a February 11, 2017 column, “Baylor Sanctuary Movement Ignores Rule of Law,” Jay Young argues Baylor University should reject a sanctuary campus petition. He asserts, “An individual must do what the law says and must not do what it says not to do.” I disagree. 

    His argument hinges on a particular understanding of the Rule of Law. Mr. Young represents the Rule of Law as a principle stating “that governance of a community is dictated by mandates from the state.” Mr. Young argues that this principle necessitates that the citizenry obey the law. But the Rule of Law does not require this, and instead is a political philosophy wherein a society is subject to law rather than the dictates and whims of a ruler. It does not necessitate obedience. A free democratic order should maintain space for protest and civil disobedience while holding those who protest accountable to existing laws. Human beings propose and adopt the laws; therefore, not every law will be good.

    In no way does the sanctuary campus petition deny the Rule of Law. Instead, the petition calls for noncompliance and direct political action challenging the legitimacy of legislation such as House Bill 12 or any federal law that could effect refugees, migrants, or international visitors. The petition does not “pick and choose” which passages of the Bible to abide by, but instead expresses an overall hermeneutic that seeks justice for the vulnerable. The petition asks the University to consider all implications of these laws for refugees, migrants, and international visitors who are part of the University community. It also asks that Baylor University respond publicly and with boldness. 

    Those signing the petition express concern, believing recent federal and state legislative actions to be unjust. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution supports the petitioners’ right to assert their view and to draw upon their religious beliefs as a basis for their convictions.

    The sanctuary campus petition is not calling for arbitrary action on behalf of Baylor University and its leadership. Rather, the petition calls for principled action firmly set upon the twin pillars of reasoned conviction and deep faith. To suggest otherwise is uncharitable.

    The United States is a nation of laws. Our laws grant certain rights, including the right to free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religious expression. I thank God for those rights. But I do not believe all our laws have always reflected perfect justice. I give thanks for those of Christian conviction who have resisted those laws, been held accountable, and pushed us toward legislative change. The life and witness of Martin Luther King, Jr. comes to mind.

    I strongly urge President David Garland and the rest of the Baylor administration to regard the petition as a courageous and thoughtful display of Christian witness and to consider this appeal carefully in determining the best course for the University moving forward. 

    In the event the University deems any law unjust it is my hope the leaders would abide foremost by a higher law and do everything in their power to resist and reform the laws of this nation so that we might become a more perfect union. As Peter and the other apostles put it succinctly in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than human beings!”


    Hauerwas, Literacy, and Baptist Life

    I enjoy reading and listening to Stanley Hauerwas, and this entire interview is provocative, worthwhile, intellectually stimulating, and deeply challenging.

    But his final words to Baptists (beginning around the 1:08 mark), specifically to those leading Baylor University, are worth putting in print. Here's what he says to Baylor University and their responsibility to educate literate citizens:

    One of the things that our current public discourse reveals is the absolute failure of the university to be responsible to its duty to produce literate citizens. I don't know that we're going to be able, I mean, I can't speak for universities to be able to do that while universities, but I sure as hell can say to Baylor that they have, as a university, the obligation to produce literate Baptists. That's going to be a miracle. But, it is absolutely crucial.

    Southern Baptists have the Bible and now, and that ain't enough. And you're going to need to be reconnected to the great catholic tradition if you are going to survive as a university, to be the kind of literate people who can produce ministers who are not idiots. And you've got a ton of them. So, exactly how Baylor sees as its task to produce people through the education you receive here, to know that Augustine's Confessions are crucial for how we learn to live as Christians, and to rejoice in that, is absolutely part of the future responsibility of Baylor University.

    I was educated at Baylor University. And I am a minister. I hope I'm not an idiot. And the degree to which I am not, I owe to Baylor University.

    Hauerwas also speaks more broadly on other matters pertaining to the university, race, the Eucharist, war, and the college football playoff. Take a look.


    My Weekend in Sport :: Baylor Advances, Sporting KC Wins, and Basketball History

    Baylor Advances

    My alma mater, Baylor University, advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.  Brady Heslip hit 9 three pointers in the Bears 80-63 victory over the 11th seeded Colorado Buffaloes.  That's insane.

    Sporting KC Wins

    I'm a season ticket holder for Sporting--in my opinion the best value and overall sports experience in Kansas City.  My wife was so kind to join me.


    We enjoyed every minute, but none more than this goal celebration by C. J. Sapong and Kei Kamara:

    Bracket Challenge and Basketball History

    Matt Williams is leading my bracket challenge at the moment out of 34 entries.  I'm tied for last.

    If you're a sports fans and have an interest in the history of basketball, you may enjoy "The Rules of the Game" from  Jayson Jenks has done some great work.


    Baylor's New Uniforms :: Radioactive; Turned PJ3 Into Godzilla Yesterday


    Baylor men's basketball faced off against the Kansas State Wildcats yesterday, winning 82-74 on day two of the Big XII tournament.  I tuned in, and like so many others, was awestruck by the Bears "highlighter" uniforms.  PJ3 played "upper-case", scoring 31 points and grabbing 11 rebounds--his best performance I have witnessed at Baylor.  I hope he can keep it up as tournament play continues.

    During the game yesterday, Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star asked for reactions to the uniforms on Twitter, and I'm glad to say I was quoted this morning in the paper.  Here is my quote:

    You can view the rest of the article here.

    Scot McKnight also expressed his love for them on Facebook.  I'm glad to have him on the Baylor bandwagon.

    Baylor plays Kansas today, having been embarrassed by the Jayhawks twice this year.  I hoping for a Baylor win, though many of my neighbors are pulling for a KU vs. MU rematch for the final.

    Go Bears!


    Rites of Passage in an Individualistic Culture

    As I do every fall, back in October I travelled to Waco, Texas for Baylor Homecoming.  Each year I manage to catch up with a few friends, learning about changes in family life, location, occupation, etc.  This fall I ran into Todd Ferguson, a guy a bit younger than me who works with children and youth at Willow Meadows Baptist Church in Houston, TX.  Among the many things Todd and I discussed while the parade rolled by, he mentioned that he truly enjoyed creating moments that could serve as "rites of passage" for the young men in his ministry.

    Photo Credit: yushimoto_02

    From time to time I've thought of that conversation while interacting with students at Resurrection West or while learning about and analyzing our culture.  In the Christian community, where do we create space for young people to grow up?  In my local church, the obvious answer is confirmation.  But aside from taking on the title "Christian" and knowing that one is "confirmed," how does that occasion serve as a transition point in a young person's journey of faith wherein the confirmand now holds a greater sense of belonging and purpose within the community?  

    In other words, do our confirmation programs do more than affirm individual faith?  Do they bring students in to the body?

    I grew up in a "believer's church" tradition.  I can remember being taught that the Lord's Supper, or communion, was taken by those who had decided to follow Jesus Christ.  If you had not committed your life to Christ, you did not take of the bread and the cup.  I cite this example only to show that once I had made that decision and been baptized, I also knew that I could partake in the Lord's meal.  I had moved from one sphere of belonging (welcome guest and interested observer) to another (part of the body).

    Of course, this rite of passage only brought me so far--I wasn't given any official leadership position or authority.  But it did give me a sense of place within the church.  I had affirmed a personal relationship with God, while also being initiated into a corporate practice of the church.  Something had changed.

    For my friends that have grown up in traditions with confirmation as part of the process of discipleship, how did that moment serve as a rite of passage for your sense of belonging within the church?  What, if anything, changed?

    I ask this question because I am curious: how do our rites of passage work in an individualistic culture?  Other than confirmation, what other spaces do we create in our ministries for people to transition from one way of being to another?  Those two questions are distinct, but related.

    What do you think?