Baylor’s Attempt to Recover Christian Roots Attracts Students

( [email protected] ) Jul 20, 2004 01:02 PM EDT

Baylor University is going through tension between the supporters and opponents of the president’s attempt to find back the school’s Baptist roots but within next week, Baylor will vote over the controversial issue and decide whether Baylor becomes a secular liberal arts institution or a Christian based institution.

"I think that some people just intellectually think that faith and learning don't mix," said Dr. Robert Sloan, president at Baylor University. "Baylor is one of those institutions that has not only the opportunity, but even the calling and responsibility, to be among the top-tier of American Universities, and at the same time to be faithful to our historic confession of Jesus Christ."

Although Sloan barely survived a no-confidence vote in May, Sloan’s vision of recovering Christian roots is drawing many Christians to Baylor.

For example, after hearing about Sloan’s vision, Hunter Baker from Georgia decided to quit his job and move to Texas to attend Baylor and receive his doctorate degree.

"We have these amazing facilities being built, these great scholars being hired, and it's all with the notion that faith and reason do coexist," Baker said.

Meanwhile three students at Baylor released a statement that defends vision of President Sloan. Starting off with the question: “What makes our university so funny?” -- as a counterattack to the claim by former faculty member at Baylor, who said Baylor has become a laughing stock to the lager academic community because of its attempt to bring back Christian roots, the three students, Joe Barnard, Sko Embry Thomas Warmath called to lead Baylor to become more Christian.

The statement emphasized that more than anything, Sloan’s primary goal is to make Baylor “a top-tier university.” Barnard, Embry and Warmath wrote:

“Critics forget that one of Sloan's primary goals is to make Baylor a top-tier university. While this goal is ambitious, students take it seriously. We are not the only ones. In the last few years, Baylor has attracted professors from Wake Forest, Princeton, Duke, West Point, Notre Dame and Harvard. This fact testifies to Baylor's potential to become a top-tier university.”

Recalling the time when Baylor was respected on a national level as a Christian university, the three students took note of how Baylor has enhanced in terms of academics since Sloan became the president and praised Sloan’s effort to hold onto the school’s Christian roots. They wrote:

“Other disgruntled faculty members refer to a time when Baylor was respected on a national level (before Sloan, of course). As students, we do not remember these golden years. The story books we read tell us that, like every other Christian university in the United States, Baylor has been an average institution for average students for the last 50 years. It has only been since Sloan's arrival that Baylor has sought and attracted first-rate professors and scholarship. If Sloan stays in office, Baylor's best years are ahead of us.

“Sloan believes in a university where faith is built by learning and learning is strengthened by faith. This integration of faith and learning is something that many universities (think Harvard or Oxford) once had but have lost. Considering the fact that there are no great Protestant universities remaining in the world, Sloan's vision of Baylor is one of Christianity's greatest hopes to regain a voice in the academic community.”

As a concluding statement, Barnard, Embry, and Warmath said Sloan should not resign because of the existing conflict at Baylor over the issue, referring Sloan’s resignation as the failure of Christians.

“Finally, it is certainly true that there is conflict at Baylor, but Sloan should not resign because of it. If he resigns now, thoughtful Christians must admit failure. We can no longer see faith and learning as going together but must set Christ aside as an extra ingredient to life.”