An Interview with Dr. R. J. Gore: Regarding the “Statement on Scripture by Concerned Erskine Faculty Members”

 

EDITOR’S REMARKS: The interview below was conducted via telephone and e-mail. Dr. Gore was preparing to leave to conduct training programs for Army chaplains in Alaska and his answers are brief. He asked that the Editor emphasize that his responses are personal; he does not speak for the group.


ARPTalk: Why did you make this statement?

Dr. Gore: Well, that is a good question. My motivation is quite simple. The issue of Scripture, its inspiration and inerrancy continue to be matters of great interest in our denomination and at Erskine. Several of us have had ongoing discussions about the current controversy and concluded that it was a good time for those of us who believe in inerrancy to make a simple statement to that effect, noting what we affirm and what we find unacceptable. BTW, this is not the first thing I have said about inerrancy and the importance of the complete trustworthiness of Scripture. For example, I addressed this issue back in 1998 when I was appointed VP and Dean at the seminary. (See Vision Statement). Moreover, I have publicly posted my course notes on the doctrine of Scripture for a number of years. (See notes at this link). Of course, my colleague, Dr. Evans, has written a number of important documents on this controversy as well.

ARPTalk: Why release this statement at this time?

Dr. Gore: Of course, this weekend is an important one in the church year, but I suspect you are asking something else in this question. One of the factors that encouraged me to sign this document is this: the President of Erskine College and Seminary, Dr. David Norman, has recently published three articles on the nature of Scripture. I appreciate the fact that he has taken his responsibility to uphold the doctrinal standards for Erskine employment and has written those articles, among other reasons, to explain his understanding of Synod’s declaration on Scripture. While I would have framed the discussion a bit differently if I had written the articles (theologians and philosophers often disagree over who has the clearer vision!), I wanted to lend a voice of support to his affirmation. I know that some have taken him to task for his articles in the ARP Magazine and we (those who signed the statement) thought it wise to voice support sooner rather than later. It did take some time to craft this document, and committee work tends to be time consuming. Frankly, the timing just worked out for a Good Friday release.

ARPTalk: What do you expect the administration and the board to do?

Dr. Gore: Well, in the statement, we simply encourage them to move forward with due regard for the importance of this foundational issue of Scriptural authority. I don’t expect anyone to violate the faculty handbook or to do anything to vacate promises made, even when those promises were made to faculty who do not support the synod position on Scripture. What I hope the board will do is this: first, recognize that our President, who has affirmed Synod’s position on Scripture, is not alone. Indeed, there are a number of faculty voices who have joined with his voice to affirm the ARP Church’s doctrine of Scripture. Second, seek to hold administrators accountable to Synod’s definition of an evangelical Christian, including its statement on Scripture, as a baseline for employment at Erskine. Personally, I have great confidence in our seminary’s Acting Vice President, Dr. Steve Lowe. Steve has been a member of the Evangelical Theological Society (which affirms the inerrancy of Scripture in the original documents) longer than he has been a faculty member at Erskine.

ARPTalk: Not everyone on the faculty signed the statement. Can you address that?

Dr. Gore: Well, yes and no. It was not shared with all faculty members; the original editors gave it to some who signed and to some who decided not to sign. The decision to invite participation was subjective but not entirely arbitrary. We did not want the document released prematurely, and those who did not sign maintained the confidence we requested. I had hoped for another signature or two. However, each faculty member must speak for himself and his own conscience on this matter. For me to speak on behalf of those who chose not to sign would be inappropriate and would betray discussions that were conducted in confidence. I am certain that no one signed or declined to sign without giving the matter serious thought and prayer. I am not comfortable saying anything more about the matter. Well, one more thing. Dr. Evans tells me it is not a big deal to make adjustments to the file. Should any faculty colleague want to add his or her signature, such an addition would be welcomed.

ARPTalk: How do you expect this to be received by our Synod?

Dr. Gore: I would hope for two responses from our church, particularly from ARP ministers and elders. First, I would hope they are cheered by the fact that their college and seminary president, with the public support of some Erskine faculty members, has committed himself to support the Synod position on Scripture. Second, I would hope that our ministers and elders are encouraged by Dr. Norman’s leadership and this faculty statement to work towards a better relationship between Erskine and the ARP Church. There is much healing that must occur, and that healing will occur more quickly if there is clarity on the values that we share. No value is more foundational than what we believe about the Word of God.

 

Share This:
Facebook Twitter Email Plusone Linkedin Pintrest

Filed Under: Newsletter

Tags:

RSSComments (8)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Vaughn Hathaway says:

    Applause for the signers of the Statement and for Dr. Gore’s apologetic.

     
  2. Daniel Wells says:

    Interesting interview. I appreciate Dr. Gore’s clarification on this issue. I found it intriguing that on the Alums for Erskine FB group there were a couple of people upset with the denial of tenure to Jay Hering, but then one of those supporters would make a “proposal” a few days later saying that the Alumni Association should take the college and the ARP Church would get the seminary.

    All this to say, I wonder how many alumni really care about the seminary.

     
  3. Brian Smith says:

    Just thinking about this on my lunch break: If you are an ARP minister, how could you not sign this statement? Is it just that the ARP ministers who teach at ETS have just enough academic integrity to admit that they cannot fully affirm the denomination’s standards? Once again, Rev. Wilson, I’m a little confused by what you’re trying to say between the lines with these posts.

    BTW Dr Evans and Dr. Gore and the other signers have made a BOLD statement and stand for truth, hats off to them.

     
  4. Dear Brian Smith,

    Thank you for your comments.

    How did you get so observant?

    One does wonder why the signatures of Drs. Robby Bell, Jay Hering, Mark Ross, and George Schwab are so noticeably absent. They are ministers in the ARP Church!

    Perhaps they were some of those who were not originally contacted. Perhaps they will add their signatures. I have sent an e-mail to all ARP and PCA (3 non-signers) faculty members who did not sign and asked if they were going to sign. At this time, I’m waiting on replies to my e-mails.

    Once again, thank you for your comments.

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    Editor, ARPTalk

     
    • Max Rogland says:

      Dear Rev. Wilson,

      When you say in your last comment that you are “waiting on replies to your e-mails”, it gives the unmistakable impression that no one has responded to you. But as you know, you and I exchanged emails on this topic over a week ago, well before the date that you wrote this comment. Additionally, I know that at least one of the faculty members whom you name wrote to you last week explaining his actions. I would greatly appreciate that clarification being made.

      Cordially in Christ,

      Max Rogland
      PCA Teaching Elder

       
  5. Dear Dr. Rogland,

    Thank you for your comments.

    Indeed, you did reply – and you replied immediately. Thank you!

    You also informed me of your affirmation of inerrancy and stated your reasons for not signing the inerrancy document of the six EC and ETS faculty members. Since you had asked me not to use your e-mail in a “public forum,” I wrote: “I’m waiting on replies to my e-mails.” At that time, I was being a bit vague and buying time for others to respond. The operative word in my comments was “replies.” In another article, I was going to write that I had received an affirmation from a member of the ETS faculty who wished to remain anonymous. Thank you for removing the veil of anonymity.

    I believe a sufficient amount of time has passed for responses. I can now write that you and Chaplain Paul Patrick are the only ones who have responded to my inquiry.

    I thank you for both your comments and your affirmation of inerrancy.

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    Editor, ARPTalk

     
  6. Dear Dr. Rogland,

    My apologies to you! I just re-read your comments. I failed to respond to an important statement that you wrote: “I know that at least one of the faculty members whom you name wrote to you last week explaining his actions.”

    You have information I don’t have. As I wrote earlier, I have only received two replies to my inquiries – your reply and Chaplain Paul Patrick’s reply. At this time (May 4, 2011, 3:45 PM), I HAVE NOT RECEIVED ANY OTHER REPLIES from the ETS faculty via e-mail, mail, or phone.

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    Editor, ARPTalk

     
  7. Dear Readers,

    For the record, I have now received a reply from Dr. Mark Ross. His comment was “No comment.”

    Regards to all,

    Chuck Wilson
    Editor, ARPTalk

     

Leave a Reply (Please note: Anonynomous Comments Are Not Posted)