FORT WORTH (BP) — Southwestern Seminary provost Randy Stinson has issued a statement affirming the seminary’s commitment to biblical sexuality in response to former professor Robert Lopez’s claims he was dismissed from Southwestern for “his position on same-sex relationships and his advocacy for victims of same-sex abuse.”
Lopez stated through a public relations firm that he “was told not to continue to discuss homosexuality or sex abuse in any capacity while employed at the seminary.” He claims “the demands from the Seminary violated [his] conscience and would force [him] to disobey God.” When asked for clarification of the demands that caused him to violate his conscience, Lopez responded “What I have written, I have written.” Requests for further clarification on what exactly Lopez has written were not granted to Baptist Press.
In his statement (printed in full below), Stinson maintains the decision was based on “changing program needs” of Scarborough College, the undergraduate college of the seminary — an explanation that was confirmed by the seminary.
“Currently, we have two full-time professors of humanities — one senior professor of humanities and one professor of philosophy and humanities,” a Southwestern official told Baptist Press. “From last year to this year, the required humanities courses have been cut from eight to four. Michael Wilkinson, dean of the college, in consultation with Provost Stinson determined that we did not need a third full time professor of humanities.”
Lopez had been at the Scarborough College for three years after joining as professor of humanities in 2016.
Statement on Southwestern Seminary’s Commitment to Biblical Sexuality
It is our standard practice not to publicly discuss personnel matters. Yesterday, however, Dr. Robert Lopez, a faculty member in Scarborough College, made public allegations about Southwestern Seminary that require a public, unambiguous response.
Recently, it became necessary for the seminary to notify Dr. Lopez that his position is being eliminated due to changing program needs in our college. In response, Dr. Lopez has engaged the services of a public relations firm, which has distributed a press release that makes defamatory claims about Southwestern Seminary that are categorically false.
Let me be absolutely clear: no faculty member, including Dr. Lopez, has been told, or would be told, they cannot discuss homosexuality. Southwestern Seminary is a confessional institution, which joyfully affirms the Baptist Faith and Message (2000), including each and every assertion about biblical sexuality. As such, the administration faithfully requires all faculty members to teach in accordance with and not contrary to these truth claims. Our faculty — including our president — regularly teach on God’s design for the family and marriage and the biblical sexual ethic, which homosexuality is in rebellion against. Our faculty also teach that all sinners can be changed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, any contrary teaching at the seminary would not be tolerated. As Southern Baptists should expect of their seminaries, we are committed to a biblical view of marriage and sexual ethics. Any claim that Southwestern Seminary has wavered on these longstanding commitments is either misinformed or intentionally deceptive.
Further, Dr. Lopez’s claims about what I have personally said about these matters are demonstrably false. I have given my entire academic and ministry career of more than two decades to addressing these matters from a biblical worldview. In light of the growing cultural confusion on sexuality and growing pressure to force Christians to conform to prevailing opinions, my resolve on these matters is stronger today than ever. The biblical sexual ethic is God’s plan for human flourishing and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s plan for redeeming all sinners. On these matters, I and Southwestern Seminary refuse to compromise.
Finally, although Dr. Lopez’s position is being eliminated due to changing program needs of our college, our decision was undergirded by his own actions, which included his failure to comply with basic administrative policies, his being the subject of regular complaints from students and faculty colleagues, and, in the end, his refusal even to attend meetings with his supervisors. While it is unfortunate when any institutional position must be eliminated, I am confident this decision is in the best interests of the students we are educating for Gospel ministry and this institution.
Randy L. Stinson, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Administration
The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary