On Friday the Baylor Board of Regents announced a change to its bylaws that now allows 25 percent of the board to be composed of non-Baptist Christians.
The change dictates that those regents who are actively involved with Baptist churches will be the sole voters on actions by the board that apply to theological matters of Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
The Baptist members’ exclusive right to vote on the theological questions of the school’s seminary is not only fair, but necessary to avoid major conflict when deciding on details, often ritualistic in nature, that create fissures through the body of Christ.
Only the Baptist regents get full voting rights on the affiliation qualifications of future regents — meaning any future changes to the board’s composition are in the hands of the Baptist members alone.
In the coming years, there are sure to be divisive arguments between the wholly Baptist members of the board and the remaining non-Baptist members. We wonder how the future board will affect decision-making. Adding diversity on the board means more voices. It also means more debate and possibly slowing down the progress of the university. However, it could mean changes that better represent the Baylor community as a whole.
While we have a clear Baptist heritage, the university has been a major center of higher education for other Christian denominations, too. Baylor Institutional Research and Testing reported that as of fall 2010, the Baylor undergraduate population was 35 percent Baptist. A close race for second highest affiliations were Catholic and non-denominational — each making up nearly 15 percent of the population.
Ultimately, the move will benefit the university in that it begins to further incorporate Christians of different denominations in its mission. Baylor’s mission is this: To educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.
As regents seek to mold our university, it is safe to say that the various rituals non-Baptists may differ on will not have a bearing on the one truth that we all agree on — that Christ is our savior.
We strive to be academically excellent and committed to Christianity. In these times many think that impossible. But we are not a community of little faith. Our God will provide — the one God we all believe in with full faith. In our academic endeavors, He will provide. In our missional efforts, His hand will move. In this time of transition it is easy for people to misunderstand the intentions and subvert the truth of the Gospel by blatant ignorance for its truth.
Respected and influential Christian author C.S. Lewis wrote in “Mere Christianity” of the life we all — as Christians — come to share.
“Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life, which was begotten, not made, which always existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has — by what I call ‘good infection.’ Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”
As a private Christian university founded at the tail end of the days of the Republic of Texas, we have much heritage to preserve. The move to include other Christian denominations on our governing board shows progress and commitment to our Christian foundation.
How we handle the disputes that are sure to arise will illustrate how much faith we have in our Provider. The change allows those members of other denominations that have received much from Baylor to give back in a small way.
More progress can be made, and in years to come this move will be seen as the first step toward a journey of unifying a body of believers looking to honor the one true God in academia and community.