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    August 27th, 2013 @ 8:34 am by Kevin

    Some of you may know that I was slated to teach a class on documentary filmmaking this fall at Trinity Western University, a Christian liberal arts college in Langley, BC. I’ve had an ongoing relationship with Trinity over the years, serving as a guest speaker in their film classes, judging their student short film contest on numerous occasions and even staging a Q&A screening of Hellbound? there this past January, where we played to a packed house.

    I’ve always viewed Trinity as a somewhat conservative institution, but like most conservative Christian organizations, you’ll always find a minority within who are open to new ideas and willing to challenge the status quo. And you’ll usually find those people working within the arts, such as filmmaking and music.

    So I was surprised and delighted last spring to receive an invitation to teach at the college, where I would be filling in for a friend who was taking a sabbatical. I went through the typical interview process and was given the green light to prepare my syllabus. Over the summer, I spent time researching and preparing my lectures and assignments. In fact, this very morning I was putting the finishing touches on my first Powerpoint lecture, which I was to deliver Sept. 7.

    Then at 7am I received an email from the Provost saying he had reviewed my clarification on point 10 of their statement of faith, which had to do with the eternal fate of those who do not accept Christ in this life. Their official position is eternal torment. I was aware of this going in, but I was told by those who recruited me that all I had to do was write a clarifying note–as many professors apparently do–outlining how my position deviated from theirs, and everything would be okay.

    Lo and behold, he was wrong. The Provost consulted with the President and concluded that my views, which I framed as a form of hopeful Universalism, fell too far outside their allowable tolerance. So just like that, I’m out–less than two weeks before I’m slated to begin teaching.

    I probably shouldn’t be surprised by this decision, but I am surprised–and terribly disappointed. Not only that I won’t be able to teach, but also by the way things were handled. In my view, the one place where a diversity of views should not only be tolerated but encouraged is at a university. I realize that, as a faith-based institution, Trinity has to establish some sort of boundaries in order to maintain a consistent identity, donor base, etc. But as I endeavored to demonstrate in Hellbound?, the Church has always maintained (and at times, even welcomed) a wide diversity of views on hell and all sorts of other theological issues. So why this college would slam the door in my face on what is essentially a peripheral issue–especially when I’m teaching filmmaking, not theology–is beyond me.

    For what it’s worth, here is article 10 of Trinity Western University’s statement of faith:

    God’s gospel requires a response that has eternal consequences. We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.

    And here is my clarifying statement re: that article that got me disqualified from teaching:

    Based on a number of theological arguments, as well as Bible passages, such as Romans 11:32, “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all,” 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive,” Romans 5:18-19, “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous,” and others, I hold out the hope that all people will ultimately be reconciled to God. This does not negate the notion of divine justice or accountability. However, it sees divine justice as a means to an end—reconciliation—rather than an end in itself. A fuller clarification of my position can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oY18Ba48RFc

leave a comment on this post (3 Comments)

  1. So sorry to hear about that, Kevin. I couldn’t agree with your surprise and disappointment more. I volunteered as band leader/orchestra director at a church in Northern Michigan, kind of the “happening place” in the relatively small town we were in. The music director knew going in about my views on Ultimate Restoration. However, a year and a half later, the pastoral staff got wind of my views on the nature of God’s judgment being restorative, not punitive, and, after a “grilling” before several of them, told me I could not talk about this belief (Paul’s evangel itself..) or my family and I must leave. We left! The spirit of judgment, intolerance, and narrow-mindedness was just too great.

  2. You sound quite immature. If you had a problem with this than why didn’t you just ask to talk to the President instead of being dramatic???

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