James Crossley brought to my attention the Christianity Today article about the whole Sheffield fiasco, highlighting some rather strange remarks by Ben Witherington. The article is really poorly written, with a number of gross inaccuracies, so let us hope that BW3's remarks were also taken completely out of context.
Just to offer some examples: the article insinuates that "evangelically minded" faculty were purposely replaced with non "evangelically minded" scholars. I have no idea what this might look like in real life. My understanding of how the policies work, and I this is sheer conjecture, but when a NT scholar leaves who specializes in Paul, a faculty member with roughly the same specialization is sought. Andrew Lincoln left the department some time ago, and was replaced with another Pauline scholar, and Loveday who left rather recently (2008) and she was not replaced at all. Here is the CT quote:
"Evangelically minded faculty, including Andrew Lincoln and Loveday Alexander, were not replaced with scholars who held similar views."
Now to the BW3 quote:
"Other faculty were "bent on the deconstruction of the Bible, and indeed of their students' faith," according to Ben Witherington, a New Testament scholar at Asbury Theological Seminary."
This is a very strange statement that I can't even begin to understand, but let me take a shot at it...so first "evangelically minded" faculty were replaced with "bad" non evangelically minded scholars, then "other" faculty, even worse than the "bad" non evangelical scholars were present who dabbled in the dark arts of deconstruction. Hmm, I am surprised a tornado didn't hit the 11th floor of the Arts tower. The BW3 quote starts with the word bent, which is presumably a pejorative in this context (especially for evangelicals, hence not straight) and then dives into the postmodern word of "deconstruction". Deconstruction is a nice, and less violent, way of saying destroy, so these "other" faculty wanted to destroy the very thing they were employed to study and ultimately their students faith. So the Bibs department is really just another Hogwarts, with faculty dressed in black (I have noticed that James favours the darker hues when it comes to wardrobe) bent on destroying the thing that ought never be named...FAITH.
Oh, I guess I can kind of piece this whole thing together after all.
Or perhaps BW3 was just talking about Stephen Moore's earlier project and the CT writer just assumed that it was a pejorative? I guess then the same thing could be said of Jamey Smith's work on Derrida down at Calvin College in Grand Rapids.
Very strange article indeed.