Tom Oden on the Theologically Marginalized

Which group is now the most oppressed and underrepresented in mainline theological education? Here’s Tom Oden’s answer from Requiem: A Lament in Three Movements:

A new form of oppression analysis is required in our stuffy cubbyhole of academia, to show that the most marginalized and oppressed group in Protestant theological education is currently least represented in its faculties: those who come from its evangelical and pietistic heartland. Those most maligned and humiliated and demeaned are believers who bear the unfair epithet of “fundamentalist,” like the Jews who wore the Star of David on their clothes in Nazi Germany.

Those who have the least-heard voice in the academic caucus game – far less than ethnic minorities or officially designated oppressed groups – are evangelical students from the neglected side of the exegetical tracks. I speak candidly of biblical believers who are assigned pariah roles in Scripture courses, those forced into a crisis of bad conscience by being required to conform in ideologically titled courses, who are given bad grades because they have read C. S. Lewis or Dorothy Sayers or taken Francis Turretin or have grown up loving the hymns of Fanny Crosby.

It is time for those who have patiently sat through repetitive courses in guilt to apply a specific social oppression analysis to the new oppressors: the tenured radicals in syncretistic faculties who replicate only themselves when new appointments are made, who are tolerant only of latitudinarians, who neither have nor seek any church constituency, who debunk the plain sense of Scripture, who never enter a room with a Bible unless armed with two dozen commentaries that enable them to hold all decisions in a state of permanent suspension, who lack peer review because they do not know any colleagues in the guild different from themselves (135).

These words are from Matt O’Reilly’s Orthodoxy for Everyone.

Tom Oden knows whereof he speaks. He is a long-term Methodist in the academy. For many years he found his home in the radical scholarship of Methodist liberalism until he morphed into the fan of “Paleo-Orthodoxy” for which he is now known and particularly appreciated. He seeks the wisdom of the church primarily in the first five centuries of the church, the host of the history-shaping DNA of the Christian faith. He is the editor of InterVarsity Press’ Ancient Commentary series which is rooted in the exegesis of the Church Fathers before the Christian family began its great divides, focusing not on the great Creeds but on those particulars over which we divide and continue to divide. He has remained a Protestant and a Methodist but speaks directly to that Protestantism which has drifted from its moorings.hese words are from Matt O’Reilly’s Orthodoxy for Everyone.

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