Hugh’s News & Views (New Dean)

hugh’s news & Views


According to an announcement in late December of 2012, Emilie M. Townes has been appointed dean of VanderbiltDivinitySchool, Nashville, Tennessee, effective July 1, 2013, pending approval by the Board of Trustees. Townes currently is associate dean of academic affairs at YaleDivinitySchool and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology. She is described “as a distinguished YaleUniversity scholar whose areas of expertise include Christian ethics and ‘womanist theology.’ ” Her appointment at Vanderbilt is for a five year term, during which she will also hold an endowed chair as a tenured faculty member.

Womanist theology (for those who might like to know more about such) “is a religious conceptual framework which reconsiders and revises the traditions, practices, scriptures, and biblical interpretation with a special lens to empower and liberate African American women in America.” Emilie Townes is the author of Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil (2006), and is the co-editor of Womanist Theological Ethics: A Reader (2011). She is the former “pastor” of United Faith Affinitas, a Black LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered) church in Chicago. A further report states that she recently wed her same sex partner in Connecticut.

Isn’t all of this perfectly wonderful (I speak with my tongue buried deeply in my cheek) a lesbian activist dean of VanderbiltDivinitySchool! She is in favor of revising traditions, practices, scriptures, and biblical interpretationall to promote her agenda. Hundreds of young (and some not so young) ministers of all religious faiths will be exposed to her infidelity! Carolyn Dever, dean of the College of Arts and Science and professor of English, who chaired the search committee for the new Divinity School dean, stated, In every aspect of her profile, Emilie Townes epitomizes the Vanderbilt Divinity Schools dedication to renowned scholarship, ecumenical leadership and commitment to social justice. Dever went on to say, We warmly welcome her to a community that is passionate about the scholarship and teaching of religion, and about empowering students to change themselves, and the world, for the better. That students and the world will be changed by her “empowerment” is beyond question, but who among those who believe the Bible to be God’s inspired and authoritative word will believe that the change will be for the better?

It is significant that the new Vanderbilt dean is enamored with a theological agenda that “reconsiders and revises the traditions, practices, scriptures, and biblical interpretations.” When one’s own religious beliefs and moral predilections do not agree with the Scriptures and their obvious meaning, what recourse does one have but to “reconsider and revise” what the Bible says?

Such “revisionism” has been going on for some time. In c. 1819 Thomas Jefferson created his own version of the Bible, cutting out several sections of the New Testament and excluding all the miracles of Christ, His resurrection, and all passages showing that Jesus was the divine Son of God. In 1985 a group of 150 alleged scholars formed The Jesus Seminar and by their own wisdom set about to decide what Jesus “really said and did.” Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not have it entirely right!

Those who deny that Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:11-12) “revise” the Sacred Text to accommodate their broadminded, “many ways to heaven” agenda. Those who reject what the Scriptures teach about homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:29-10) “reinterpret” the passages to mean something different from what they say. Those who do not like the restrictions the Bible places on the role of women in the church (I Corinthians 14:34; I Timothy 2:11-15) want to “reconsider and revise” the Sacred Text in such a way as to conform the Scriptures to the culture of the day, rather than demanding that the culture conform to the Scriptures.

And so it goes. As one liberal preacher unabashedly asserted several months ago on an internet religious history list of which I am a member, “The Bible is wrong about many things.” He now has both the company and the “comfort” of the new dean of VanderbiltDivinitySchool in the advancement of his infidelity.

“Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104).

“The entirety of Your word is truth; and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:160).

“If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (I Corinthians 14:37).

Hugh Fulford

February 26, 2013

#feminist-theology, #hughfulford, #religion, #womanist-theology