JACKSON, Tenn. – Dec. 7, 2004 – Union University trustees on Dec. 3 adopted a process to handle questions and inquiries related to the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s doctrinal investigation of the three Baptist colleges in Tennessee.
The TBC study initially grew out of criticisms regarding the teaching at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City. Messengers to last month’s TBC in Sevierville approved a study into teachings at Carson-Newman, Belmont University and Union.
“Union University has had no charges leveled against it,” Union president David Dockery said. “Nevertheless, we recognize our responsibility and accountability to the churches of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. We will be glad to cooperate and participate in the study that was called for at this year’s convention. We believe our trustees will be happy to lead this process and as a result we should be a better institution with better relationships with the churches in days ahead.”
Union trustees approved a committee that will work with the TBC’s Education Committee in conducting the study. Jerry Tidwell, pastor of Ellendale Baptist Church in Bartlett and former TBC president, will serve as the committee’s chairman.
The action establishes Dockery and the Union trustees as the formal spokespeople for the university regarding the TBC study. Union faculty members who are questioned by the media about the study will defer to Tidwell and Dockery.
“The board went on record affirming the faculty, wanting to assure them that in the midst of the TBC study that no additional concerns or anxiety should develop,” Dockery said. “The board strongly supports the serious academic work in which they are involved.”
In addition, the trustee committee will prepare a report about the university’s doctrinal commitments to the TBC’s Executive Board. Tidwell said that report will likely begin with the evangelical doctrinal statement of faith the university has developed over the past year and that trustees unanimously approved at their recent meeting.
“There has not been a single question that I can find that has been raised relative to Union’s teachings,” Tidwell said. “We see this as an opportunity. We don’t see it as an inquisition. This just gives us a chance to share our further convictions and tell the people of the Tennessee Baptist Convention who Union is.”
The committee also includes two other former TBC presidents – Ray Newcomb and Kevin Shrum, along with seven other trustees representing the board officers, the academic committee and the church relations committee.
“They will respond regarding Union’s commitment to the authority of Scripture, to the uniqueness of the gospel, to the place of a Christian worldview in liberal arts education and to the importance of reclaiming the Christian intellectual tradition in a secular, postmodern culture,” Dockery said. “Union’s commitment to being historically Baptist, evangelical by conviction and Christ-centered provides the framework for carrying out the mission of the university.”