Letter form Dr. Robert Kerr in Support of Chris Rollston

I received the following letter from Dr. Robert Kerr, which I am posting below.


Dr. Robert Kerr

Dr. Robert Kerr

Waterloo, le 16.x.MMXII

Professor Michael L. Sweeney
President,
Emmanuel Christian Seminary
One Walker Drive,
Johnson City, Tennessee
ÉTATS UNIES  37601

Cher confrère,

Recently I was made aware of a reprimand (I believe that this is the appropriate English word) by you as president of Emmanuel Christian Seminary against our colleague Professor Rollston as he was in your opinion having a detrimental effect on students and on potential donations noting that he should find a job elsewhere. I find your actions reprehensible and and unbecoming of a scholar. I take exception to your behaviour as a Christian, an Academic and a human being.

Any academic institution should be proud to have among its faculty a professor with the talents and standing of our learned friend, an internationally renowned Hebrew Bible scholar, semiticist and fellow epigraphist. The fact that you choose to ignore this and blatantly disregard academic liberty and integrity in favour of the ideology of your potential donors and students is a sheer and utter disgrace to the core concept of (higher) education. By your actions, you seem to imply that it is not the task of an academic institution to challenge the preconceived notions of its students and broaden their horizons. I ask you therefore in all sincerity, in which manner you differ from the Taliban?

Professor Rollston’s contribution to the Huffington Post, to which you took offence, was a timely and relevant piece. Irrespective of your views with regard to the origins of the Bible, it is clear that it has come down from a different era in which the rôle of women was different to that of this day and age. Does this imply that the Bible is no longer relevant? Certainly not! All that this article inferred was that biblical exegesis must take diachronic depth and cultural change into account, or would you also wish to reintroduce slavery based on ‘sound’ biblical teaching? I hope that you as a missionary appreciate cultural difference, and the need to adopt the Gospel to cultures rather than destroying cultures to suit a narrow an tendentious interpretation of the Bible – a sin which continues to heavily burden Christianity. You do our religion a great disservice with your actions and, may point I out, by employing your logic, the Reformation would never have happened.

Interestingly enough, based on the informations at my disposal, I did not see that you criticized Professor Rollston’s article for factual or biblical error, but rather that his views have a corrupting influence on students and allegedly inhibit benefactors from donating monies to your institution. You seemingly have chosen to serve Mammon above your faith and academic integrity. As academics, we search for the facts, the truth – which Professor Rollston presented in his article – and debate the interpretations and/or implications, something he did not do. By censuring Professor Rollston not for factual error, academic misrepresentation or scientific dishonesty but for presenting truths uncomfortable for some, especially those upon whom you apparently have made yourself dependent, you have severely compromised your integrity. It is the truth after all which shall set us free – and the biblically inspired historical strive for equality, whether it be social, racial, gender, sexual or whatever is one of the proud legacies of Christianity: we are all God’s children and equal before him. Your censure implies that discrimination against half of humanity is to not just be condoned, but mandated by biblical teaching. I again ask how you differ from the Taliban. Has history not taught us whither such ignorant proclamations lead?

I ask you as a Christian and academic to rescind your reprimand of Professor Rollston. I nonetheless shall until then continue to publicize your deplorable actions and let it be known among the broader public and scholarly community that you and your institution publicly advocate biblically inspired sexual discrimination whilst putting ideology ahead of academic freedom and truth. Our world needs education and not indoctrination.

Yours most sincerely,

Robert M. Kerr
BA, BPhil, MA, MA, Dphil.

P.S. I will also send a paper copy and furthermore reserve the right to publish this letter should I deem it necessary.

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