Intolerant Theological Liberals

Dr. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins, a Fuller Seminary graduate, who earned a PhD in Biblical Studies from the University of Manchester (United Kingdom) and who has distinguished himself in his research, writing and lecturing on the Dead Sea Scrolls, was summarily fired from his faculty position at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta. The administrative action came after he filed a grievance according to school policy upon learning that some of his students’ grades were changed by the administration. He had discovered that eight students with low grades were specifically chosen and interviewed by the administration about his teaching methods and style. They then changed Ds and Fs to Cs, with one F student receiving an A-.  Dr. Hopkins was the target of Rev. Margaret Aymer, ITC’s chair of the Bible Department and a high profile Presbyterian Church (USA) leader known for bellicose orations touting “justice,” “human rights,” “inclusivism,” and “academic freedom.” 

Aymer succeeded in having her colleague fired because she disliked his evangelical positions and more specifically because he was in a room where a student was given a book of which she did not approve. The controversial book was one of a number of books brought into a Bible study gathering of Dr. Hopkins by his guest speaker, Dr. Alice Brown-Collins, a regional director of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship’s Black Campus Ministries. She encouraged the students to take, free of charge, any of the materials that they might find useful to them. The book that Aymer particularly detested was The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics by scholar Robert A.J. Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She charged that the book is “homophobic literature” and that her colleague, Associate Professor Hopkins, tacitly approved of the book by being present when another person in the room shared it with one of his students.

Aymer, the darling of the PCUSA establishment was the keynote speaker at the national convention of the liberal Covenant Network of Presbyterians. In her speech she claimed with vigorous rhetoric that the New Testament had little to say on the subject of sex and sexuality. Interestingly enough and contrary to Aymer’s polemic, Gagnon’s book demonstrates that the New Testaments does speak to these issues. Aymer was also a member of the PCUSA General Assembly’s special committee on marriage that recommended to the 2011 Assembly to redefine marriage to encompass more inclusive pairing.

Aymer objected not only to Gagnon’s book, but to the presence of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship on ITC’s campus. She disagrees with evangelicals and has no fondness for Intervarsity, a campus group she has detested since she was a student because the organization takes stands contrary to her principles, which are now evidently the ethics of ITC. Aymer’s theological liberalism and intolerance to conservative theology is indicative of the drift of the PCUSA denomination. No longer does the Bible play a preeminent part in their teaching, counseling, and exhortation. Rather, cultural issues and personal rhetoric are more important than the question, “What does God say?” Polemical diatribe is now more important that proclamation of truth. This is what happens when men exchange truth for a lie (Romans 1:25) and redefine the old immorality as the new morality. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,  who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isa. 5:20 ESV