Friday, March 21, 2008

Klouda Conclusion

The judge in the Klouda case has ruled, granting Dr. Patterson's (and that of SWBTS) summary judgment and tossing the case. A few observations:

1) This is probably an outcome all Christians should rejoice at - on constitutional grounds. The courts decided that they should not interfere in the internal workings of a religious institution. When they start interfering, we are all going to be in trouble. So, on a theoretical basis, this was a good outcome for religious freedom and ecclesiastical independence.

2) The judge's decision does not justify the actions of Dr. Patterson. Just because he had the RIGHT to terminate her professorship, that does not mean it was the right thing to do. That is a decision that I believe the convention will have to make. My point all along has been that things should not be run on the basis of one man's opinions, but on the basis of our shared statement of doctrine and practice.

The convention should decide issues like this, not individuals.

3) Dr. Klouda was an innocent victim in all this. Some say that she should not have filed a lawsuit, based on Paul's instructions to the Corinthians, and I am somewhat in agreement. However, she was a woman in full agreement with and practicing the BF&M 2000. She taught Hebrew (very well, as I understand it) and was not preaching in pulpits or anything like that. She was no feminist firebrand trying to change the seminary's point-of-view.

She got fired because there was a new president. One conservative president hired her and another terminated her teaching position. She did nothing wrong to deserve what happened to her.

4) The big point of debate in recent days has been the "fired/resigned" controversy. Each side called the other side liars (or pinheads) because of their viewpoints. Did Dr. Klouda resign from her position or was she terminated. After reading the judge's decision, I can answer that. Yes!

*She was "terminated" as a tenure-track professor of Hebrew. She was told that she would no longer be allowed to teach in the School of Theology. So, from that perspective, she was terminated. She was told in 2004 that she should find employment elsewhere, and would be given a reasonable time to do so. that can reasonably be called a termination.

*However, the judge was convinced that some sort of offer was made to her to continue at the seminary without a reduction in pay or benefits, but with a new job in the library, directing something called the "Writing Center." The judgment did not elaborate on what that meant. So, she was given an indefinite offer to continue employment at the seminary, but not in a teaching position.

*In 2006, she received a job at Taylor University (remember, she was told to seek employment elsewhere) and she took it. She resigned, but it could hardly be called a voluntary resignation. She was told to get another job and she did.

Did she resign? Yes. Was she terminated? Yes. I don't think this was an either/or.

5) The seminary and Dr. Patterson have been given the right to seek attorney's fees from Dr. Klouda. I hope they will choose not to do that.

6) There is a lot of anger and bitterness over this, among those who supported Dr. Klouda. There have been a few supporters of Dr. Patterson who have been unkind in their gloating. But there is much disappointment, distress, even anger among those who supported her. the anger and tension level now reminds me of the days of the conservative resurgence in the 80's.

7) So, I believe this may be a seminal moment in SBC history. In 1960, a professor at Midwestern wrote a commentary on Genesis, that once and for all proved that liberalism did, in fact, exist at our seminaries. Even though it took nearly 20 years, that was one of the seminal moments in the Conservative movement.

This may be a seminal moment in another split in the SBC, over women's issues. Is ministry restricted to men? Are men in leadership positions in their homes? Is teaching theology in a seminary something women are allowed to do according to scripture?

In the next 10 years, the SBC is going to have to refine its position, and if we stick with the complementarian, male headship viewpoint (which I believe is biblical) there will be a major (How major? I don't know) exodus of churches from the denomination.

8) This is a time for prayer for Dr. Klouda and graciousness toward those with whom we have disagreed.


Traveler said...

I agree with much of what you've said, and I appreciate the way you try to keep a balanced view. I try to do that myself. Where I see a difference is I believe Wade is all about Wade. No matter how often he tells us he isn't, (and he tells us very often) I think the anger you see coming from him is because he lost what would have been a personal victory for him (and Ben Cole). I'm afraid Mrs. Klouda was just another pawn in his game. I know the attacks against Patterson won't stop here. The attacks against those that stand with him won't stop either. I'm not a Patterson fan either. I'm just looking at the situation from all angles. I've followed Wade from the beginning and I once had respect for him, but no longer do. He is the one who has caused much division among brethren. Yes, he has done some good things and he seems to stand up for noble causes. Many people do those things for their own gain. That is what I see in Wade.
I'm sympathetic to what has happened to Mrs. Klouda and her family. I think she took some wrong advice, and she and her family suffered for it.

Wade Burleson said...


I think you have missed me just a tad, but that's all right. It's hard to sense spirit in the black and white of a post. I am not incredibly angry at all, on the contrary, we continue to raise funds for the Kloudas and see good comeing from it all. Looking forward to your contribution (wink). The post where I use the phrase 'spiritual pinheads' was in relation to pastors who complain about being mistreated on the internet. Some write articles and then complain that they are mispresented by others in what they write. I suggest that people who blog - particularly pastors - and complain of 'mistreatment' should compare their lives with people who have to sell their blood to make expenses - like Sheri Klouda. It puts things in perspective.


Dave Miller said...


I have followed Wade's blog for 2 years. I have not always agreed with it and have vocalized that a few times. But I do not think he has been guilty of many of the things that some have accused him of.

For all who might read this. My original blog had some comments I have altered.

Tom Parker said...


I do not, like you, believe that Wade is all about Wade. You make some mighty strong charges against a christian brother but I really do not believe you can support your statements with facts.

Luke said...

Here is another observation you may want to consider as well. This event may also lead to a defining of the role of the Seminary to the churches that make up the SBC. I am sympathetic to the position that the Seminary is an arm of the local church. I also find it difficult to make a distinction between a woman who prepares men to be pastors and women pastors.

Good thoughts here and will be interesting to see how they pan out.


Cole Hedgecock said...

Your comments are thoughtful and intellegent. It is great to see that you have been able to make a fair and balanced summary. It is also interesting to think of how we tend to justify name-calling, while attempting to take the high road, thank you for pointing that out too. Hopefully, we can move on and find something possitive to talk about now. Have a good day.

WatchingHISstory said...

You said: "There is a lot of anger and bitterness over this, among those who supported Dr. Klouda. There have been a few supporters of Dr. Patterson who have been unkind in their gloating. But there is much disappointment, distress, even anger among those who supported her. the anger and tension level now reminds me of the days of the conservative resurgence in the 80's."

Well there is something that you can get outraged about. Whew, I thought that you had achieved a state of total tranquility. Don't let sodomy upset your tranquility.

A man can be measured by what outrages him, most of the time!