Thursday, May 29, 2014

The End

No, not the blog!

I got word regarding my summer school courses with the Consortium for Christian Online Education today. One prospective student enrolled in Church History. None enrolled in Restoration History.

Frankly, I'm not at all surprised. I already knew my relationship with CCOE would end after summer school. The CCOE board reached that decision two years ago. Enrollments in my courses declined steadily over the last few years. The decline can be traced to several factors: (1) The announced ending of CCOE courses this summer. (2) A declining commitment of our colleges to "Restoration" principles and the movement's history. (3) Several schools began their own online programs. (4) I suspect there was resistance to my conservative interpretation of the movement.

All the CCOE courses are moving to Hope International University. HIU plans to integrate some of the courses into their extensive online program. It is possible a few of the CCOE could find a home with their course at HIU. My friend Dr. Bob Kuest recommended me to HIU as an online instructor and I've sent my vitae to them. Dr. Tamsen Murray, my Academic Dean at Intermountain Bible College, serves on the HIU staff and I've asked her to consider recommending me as well. At the same time, I am uncertain if HIU will want to offer Restoration History. I've talked with them about a similar course History of American Christianity, a course I built for Dallas Christian College and Manhattan Christian College. I'd really enjoy teaching such a course so I'm praying it will work out.

I taught longer for the Consortium than any other school. I began teaching at Intermountain Bible College in 1974 and remained in Grand Junction until the school closed in 1985. I taught at Boise Bible College almost eight years and a few courses at Cincinnati Christian University. During the almost 14 years with the Consortium I taught more students than those in face-to-face classrooms. It has been a privilege.

Manhattan Christian College continues to use me as an adjunct instructor for Church History and American Christian History courses. I'll continue with them as long as they'll have me...or until I no longer feel comfortable. I hope my MCC friends will have the courage and discretion to let me know when I am no longer effective. I also hope they will let me know how I can develop my courses to better serve them and their students.

For the past year I have redirected my energies to writing and enjoying retirement. The greatest task of the latter is avoiding boredom. I'm teaching a Sunday school class at Paseo Verde Christian Church here in Phoenix. I'm available for occasional fill-in preaching although opportunities for that in Arizona are limited. I would also consider limited interim ministries. Delores and I would love to travel but our retirement income won't permit much of it.

I have published On the Move: Recollections of an Iowa Boy through Create Space. I loved writing it. I have a second book, A History of the American Restoration Movement, almost ready. I'll receive a proof copy next week and I have two excellent academics reading it and will provide me with insight and corrections. At this point I've got two more books in my head and more. I'm under no illusion I'll ever make the Times Best Sellers list but it is fun and constructive to do it. It keeps me functioning.

Response to Comments

Once in a blue moon I look at readers' comments. Thanks to those who write positive responses. Okay! Thanks to some of the negative comments too. The negatives worth reading make me think. Those that aren't worth reading don't deserve a response. Nonetheless I do think I need to respond in general to these comments.

First, there were an series of anonymous comments reacting to my blog entry about baptism. I don't know who anonymous is so I was tempted to say nothing. Someone who wants to challenge my thoughts without the courage to identify themselves is simply a coward who lacks the courage of their convictions. Besides that these comments repeat the same old Zwinglian arguments that really don't hold water when investigated closely. Even honest Baptist scholars recognize that fact! This brief response is all an anonymous respondent deserves.

Second, the material sent out to the churches on the issue of liberal teaching in one of "our" seminaries is called "The Beck Correspondence." That correspondence occurred over a two year period between Dr. M.N. Beck and a professor and administrator at Emmanuel Christian Seminary. Dr. Beck's son Callum was refused a degree at ECS because, according to his superintending professor, he did not demonstrate adequate scholarship. The correspondence resulted in controversy over biblical inerrancy and acceptance of liberal scholarship. ECS trustees "investigated" the charges but responded that the school and its professors represented "Restoration Movement" positions. The whole issue withered away without much further discussion.

It is said that history repeats itself. George Santayana said those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. In the late 1800s Ben Bettenfield charged professors at the College of the Bible (now Lexington Theological Seminary) taught Classical Liberalism. Hall Calhoun, COB Academic Dean, supported Battenfield's charges. Battenfield took his case to the churches and the seminary's trustees. The trustees "investigated" and supported the seminary's leadership. The churches slipped into the background and the controversy soon disappeared. The College of the Bible was lost to liberalism and theological liberalism contributed to the eventual Disciples split.

Third, I still write this blog but I do so less often. I contribute less to the blog because I write a monthly column for The Restoration Herald. I am also writing books. My personal recollections, On the Move: the Recollections of an Iowa Boy, is now available from Amazon. I should be getting the first proof of A History of the American Restoration Movement this next week. I am assembling a book based on the questions I was asked online while ministering with First Christian Church, Canton, OH. I also have a book entitled History of Christianity: From Pentecost to the Reformation awaiting a cover and reformatting to a 6 x 9 format. I've also given some thought to taking selections from this blog and putting them together into a book. I may contribute to the blog more often now that I've "retired."