BOLIVAR – Southwest Baptist University (SBU) is committed to its partnership with Missouri Baptists and to its confessional heritage, SBU trustee chairman Eddie Bumpers told The Pathway, March 2.
“The churches of our convention can be assured that the Board of Trustees and Southwest Baptist University are proud of the strong relationship that we have with our convention of churches,” Bumpers, who serves as senior pastor at Crossway Baptist Church, Springfield, said.
“SBU has always desired to be one of the leading Christian universities in our region, and the clarification of our statements of faith has greatly strengthened our efforts,” Bumpers said, referring to SBU’s adoption of revised governing documents last fall, which included an update to the school’s statement of faith.
“We are excited that future SBU students and parents can look at our governing documents and see exactly who we are,” he added. “We are a university strongly rooted in the Word of God, and this is clear by our adoption of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BFM2000) and the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy. Additionally, when the landscape of our culture offers graduating high school seniors greater and greater confusion on human sexuality and God’s design for men and women, we are not afraid to make clear our submission to the never changing truth of God’s Word by adopting the clear statements on these issues found in the BFM2000, (as well as the) Nashville and Danvers Statements.
Some people have recently misunderstood SBU’s commitment to a “confessional approach to education,” labeling it “indoctrination” instead, Bumpers noted.
“A confessional approach to education is not ‘indoctrination,’” he said. “It is genuine education. At SBU, we expect each student to have a rigorous education in every theory and concept within their discipline and also to be shown how the truth of Scripture addresses these concepts and our lives as believers in Christ. True education is to bring all theories to bear under the authority of The Truth giver Himself and His revealed word.”
According to a Jan. 21st report from SBU, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) received a complaint letter in August 2020, alleging concerns about SBU’s governance. The complaint was made to the accreditation agency as SBU’s board of trustees worked last fall to finalize its revisions to SBU’s governing documents. (Read more about the HLC complaint in Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director John Yeat’s column here.) An onsite visit with HLC representatives at the school has been scheduled for May.
Regarding the HLC complaint, Bumpers said, “We know that some individuals have sought to stir controversy and division within the life of SBU by false accusations and attempts to threaten our accreditation. However, we believe that the HLC will agree that the actions of the SBU board over the last few years have only strengthened her identity and have not violated any policies.
“All of our actions have been rooted in our biblical worldview and our Baptist identity, and we look forward to healthy and gracious meetings with HLC as we continue a strong relationship with this accrediting body. We are confident in the numerous examples of our sister educational institutions (namely, Hannibal-LaGrange University and Missouri Baptist University) who have made similar changes and have proceeded without disturbance within their accrediting relationship. We are not swayed by those who seek to attack and divide, rather we pray for their hearts to change.”
Expressing his gratitude for Missouri Baptist support, he asked that churches pray for and support SBU. “For those seeking a genuinely biblical worldview education, you can be certain that SBU is working hard to prepare students to be Christ-centered, caring, servant leaders in a global society,” he said. “Come join us!”