Culture At Large

Sherri Klouda, The SBTS and 1 Timothy

Chris Salzman

In 2006, Professor Klouda's contract was not renewed (which is a polite way of firing someone in academia) with the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She was a Hebrew teacher, and the official position for her dismissal was because she's a woman.

No other official position has been stated to my knowledge. Although I really hope there were other reasons that will come to light.

The Wittenburg Door has a write-up about this situation. Here are the main excerpts:

Sheri Klouda’s lawsuit against Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth was dismissed by a federal judge on Friday, and the news coverage made it sound like she was a disgruntled ex-employee filing a nuisance suit. The facts are a little bit more inconvenient for the seminary and for Dr. Paige Patterson, the president, and they’ve been extensively parsed on the blogosphere over the past year so that there’s little doubt about what happened:

In 2002 Dr. Klouda, a graduate of Criswell Bible College in Dallas, was hired to teach Hebrew in the Department of Theology. She was told this was a tenure-track position.

In 2003 Dr. Patterson became president. She went to him to ask him whether she should be worried about his well known opposition to women in the ministry. He said she had “nothing to worry about.” She pointed out that she had freely signed all Baptist faith statements, including the parts about women, and that she didn’t regard this teaching position as a pastorate—did he? He said no, he did not.

In 2005 it was time for her to be considered for tenure. The administration wouldn’t allow any tenure review to take place.

In 2006 her teaching contract was not renewed. The reason given was that they interpreted a verse in 1 Timothy to mean that no woman can be in any position of authority over a man, and therefore there’s no way for a woman to teach in the Department of Theology because almost all of the students are male.

In 2007 she suffered a series of financial setbacks related to her having to move herself, her invalid husband and their three children to a small college in Indiana while being unable to sell their house in Fort Worth.

(As a side note, I attended that "small college in Indiana") The Door continues with a response to Dr. Patterson:

1 Timothy 2:12 says that a woman should not “usurp authority over a man.” This is the scripture you’ve used to deny this woman a place in the lecture halls of the seminary. But let’s go to the complete passage:

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”

...

And as to usurping authority over the man: A teacher is a servant, Paige. She puts herself at the service of all those theology students. You would see this better if you would observe a first-grade class, but I can assure you the principle is the same at the graduate level. Sheri Klouda was usurping no authority by her tutelage.

Our typical Wittenburg Door disclaimer applies here: they're a primarily a satire magazine so anticipate a healthy dose of snarkiness.

Thoughts on this? Any SBCers want to weigh in?

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, The Church