BBC&S becomes Summit University of Pennsylvania

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Jonathan Charles's picture

Don't like it.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Don't understand why they're dropping the Baptist name. This is a common complaint, and I know folks may disagree with me. If they're a Baptist institution, and they intend to retain that identity and mission, and they're not ashamed of their heritage, then why drop the "Baptist" name? 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Joel Shaffer's picture

Because the word Baptist to a very large segment within our country is associated with the worst of Fundamentalism (Fred Phelps). 

Jim's picture

  • LABC ---> The Masters College. Robust, going concern
  • Denver (DBBC) ----> folded & merged with Faith (Ankeny)
  • Spurgeon (was some place in Central Florida) ---> folded and merged into Piedmont
  • Grand Rapids: dropped "Baptist". Robust, going concern
  • Cedarville: Never had "Baptist" in its title. Robust, going concern
  • Faith Baptist in Ankeny: Robust, going concern

Others:

  • Pillsbury Baptist: folded / The Clearwater - Cedarholm personality battle brought about the formation of Maranatha Baptist which is a robust school
  • Northland Baptist Bible College. Recent history that is well known
Ron Bean's picture

Is having the name "Baptist" a Baptist distinctive? If a church holds to the Baptist distinctives and elects to not include Baptist in their name, are they still a Baptist church?

In addition, if a church has Baptist in their name and doesn't hold to all the distinctives, are they Baptist?

Who decides?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Mark_Smith's picture

what does "going concern" mean? I have no clue.

Mark_Smith's picture

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because we are in the infant stage of a church here. MOST (I almost say all) people who were not raised "baptist" have a negative reaction to the word. That is anecdotal to my area. It is amazing and shocking and disappointing. So, do you stick to your guns and constantly explain what it means to new people you meet (knowing that many go on by without even giving you a chance...but there is the leading of the Lord of course), or do you pick a name that has less negative connection. Of course, the opposite is true. Many "old timers" who love the name baptist are put off by the name not being in the title!

DLCreed's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because we are in the infant stage of a church here. MOST (I almost say all) people who were not raised "baptist" have a negative reaction to the word. That is anecdotal to my area. It is amazing and shocking and disappointing. So, do you stick to your guns and constantly explain what it means to new people you meet (knowing that many go on by without even giving you a chance...but there is the leading of the Lord of course), or do you pick a name that has less negative connection. Of course, the opposite is true. Many "old timers" who love the name baptist are put off by the name not being in the title!

I find that an individual's response to this conundrum is correlative to whether they are looking forward or backwards.  I offer this perspective as a "Baptist" "Fundamentalist" who no longer uses either word to identify himself.

Jim's picture

Defined: "A term for a company that has the resources needed in order to continue to operate indefinitely. If a company is not a going concern, it means the company has gone bankrupt"

In contrast to Pillsbury or Northland ... it those cases they were on the edge financially and it was generally obvious they would not be around for long. 

Jim's picture

My take on the "Baptist" name:

  • Still has meaning despite being sullied by Hyles / Schaap, Westboro, et al. 
  • I can see the value of a school branching out (by name change) to try to attract students from a broader audience (I've changed about this in the past few years)
  • For some, the name "Baptist" has some very negative, visceral connotations 
  • I'm a member, by choice, of a church with Baptist in its name
dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

TylerR wrote:

Don't understand why they're dropping the Baptist name. This is a common complaint, and I know folks may disagree with me. If they're a Baptist institution, and they intend to retain that identity and mission, and they're not ashamed of their heritage, then why drop the "Baptist" name? 

Because names change over time.  The disciples were first called "Christians" in Acts, not Baptists.  So why don't we just call our churches "Christian" churches?  I'm sure most would have some explanation that would say the name has been hijacked by non-Christian groups, the term can be misused (e.g "Christendom"), or other similar reasons.  I can imagine the arguments used by those considering a name change away from a Christian church to a Baptist church.  "What, you are ashamed of Christ, but would rather talk about doctrinal distinctives?!?!"  Exactly the same applies to "Baptist" in our day.  Within a 25-mile radius of our area you will find Baptist churches that range from Hyles-ish to reformed and Calvinistic, and from extreme KJVO churches to extremely liberal churches that will marry same-sex partners.  So if you are faced with this, along with what has already been expressed by others on this thread (i.e. those who don't have long association with the name "Baptist" generally see it negatively), a better question might be "Why be against changing the name from Baptist?" or in other cases "Why choose the name Baptist to start with?"

As an anecdote, my wife came to this country from Germany to attend high school and college.  When she was looking for a Christian college, BJU was actually high on her list because it *didn't* have the word "Baptist" in its name -- from what she had heard, such colleges were more "cultic."  You can write that off as a lack of understanding from those outside our culture, but that same lack of understanding of the term colors the perception of any outsiders.

As another anecdote, I was raised in a fundamental Methodist church (independent, of course, not associated with the United Methodists).  Further, the church had the term "Evangelical" in the name as well, which by the 1980's was already seen as a suspect term, even though it's not far removed from "Evangelistic" which was the original intent.  So you can imagine the reaction I received from your typical independent Baptist when I told them my church was Evangelical Methodist Church.  Even without knowing our church, the perception was immediately something my home church was not.  For this reason, I would also not consider naming a church Methodist today, even if I were in 100% agreement with everything John Wesley stood for.

Since our society is increasingly post-Christian, I'm glad we are rethinking some of our traditions, because we can no longer assume that the average person has any idea about them, even if he has ever read one word in a Bible, which is also increasingly rare.

Dave Barnhart

TylerR's picture

Editor

The "bad connotation and association" argument is a common one, but I think it's ultimately meaningless:

  • In our post-Christian culture, perhaps we should drop the name "Church" altogether? Should somebody just name their church "The Hangout" instead? Would this be easier to swallow?
  • Perhaps Christian universities should drop all reference to God in their documents, and substitute "Higher Power" for it, so as not to offend?

We can go round and round about this, and we probably will. I'm not saying this is a "compromise" or a sign of coming apostasy, or anything ridiculous like that. I just don't see the logic in dropping the Baptist label, if that is who you are. They'll read your documents and see you're Baptist anyway - so why not just claim it?  

I'm sure BBS will do well with their name change, and I bear them no ill-will. I just don't get why it's necessary to drop Baptist - although "Summit Baptist University" doesn't quite roll off your tongue . . .

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

TylerR wrote:

The "bad connotation and association" argument is a common one, but I think it's ultimately meaningless:

  • In our post-Christian culture, perhaps we should drop the name "Church" altogether? Should somebody just name their church "The Hangout" instead? Would this be easier to swallow?
  • Perhaps Christian universities should drop all reference to God in their documents, and substitute "Higher Power" for it, so as not to offend?

We can go round and round about this, and we probably will. I'm not saying this is a "compromise" or a sign of coming apostasy, or anything ridiculous like that. I just don't see the logic in dropping the Baptist label, if that is who you are. They'll read your documents and see you're Baptist anyway - so why not just claim it?  

I'm sure BBS will do well with their name change, and I bear them no ill-will. I just don't get why it's necessary to drop Baptist - although "Summit Baptist University" doesn't quite roll off your tongue . . .

I think I would question some of what you have written here.

First, even without going all emergent or relevant here, there are plenty of churches (even fundamental ones) that use other names than church (e.g. fellowship, assembly, even temple).

Second, dropping God is obviously in a completely different category -- again, "Baptist" was not something recorded in scripture as being used by early Christians.  Clearly, at least if we want to remain orthodox, we are not going to drop any part of scripture because it might be offensive.  However, I would prefer any offense I give to be because of what is in scripture, not because of something extra-scriptural I might be doing.  I'll never do that perfectly, but I'm open to change where compromising of God's word is not an issue.

Third, although older Christians or those familiar with all the doctrines and distinctives might be able to easily tell that a church is baptistic in doctrine (and they are the same people that would likely have a traditional attachment to the term Baptist), I would bet that most new Christians today wouldn't recognize that until they have had quite a bit of teaching.  And again, we are not talking about giving up doctrine we believe, just an ambiguous term.  If we used "Christian" it still might be ambiguous, but at least it would be biblical.  No term is perfect, even "Bible church," and it might not be *necessary* for Summit to drop "Baptist," but they might have found it very helpful.  Dropping that term is not, by itself, an indication of a slip in doctrine or practice.

 

Dave Barnhart

JohnBrian's picture

Jim wrote:

  • ​Spurgeon (was some place in Central Florida) ---> folded and merged into Piedmont

Mulberry, FL, south of Lakeland.

p.s. would have expected a school named after Spurgeon to be Calvinistic!

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Mark_Smith's picture

He was the pastor of North Park Street Chapel (later Metropolitan Tabernacle). Notice the word "baptist" is missing from the title. Is anyonw here going to accuse Spurgeon of not being a real baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

Agreed completely with those who point out that regrettably, Baptist institutions are getting rid of that name because too many have smeared that name by their actions.  I remember that from my childhood, really, and I only became a Baptist as an adult.  Love Baptist distinctives, love true fundamentalism, but I can get that at an Evangelical Free church, too.  Just sayin'.

And along those lines, hopefully Summit U. is doing this with a view as to why the name Baptist has become a liability, and correct that.  Getting rid of "Baptist" is really a superficial, temporary fix to a very big problem.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

RE:

... perhaps we should drop the name "Church" altogether?

  • I like the word "church". Of course it has its own connotations of "the building" instead of "the people gathered"
  • I never got Baptist "Tabernacle" but if you Google it it is frequent. Is there an Ark in there? Behind the Holiest?!
  • "Chapel" seems to be used in rural areas. Seems to connote small and quaint. For me it brings to mind a song from the '60's
  • "Fellowship" is also used by some
  • Probably what goes on on the inside is the more important thing
Rob Fall's picture

As I understand the situation, chapel is (as in New Park Street Chapel) used in England as the word "church" is (or was) legally reserved for the CoE and the RCC.  So, Dissenting and Non-Conformist assemblies use "chapel" to designate their buildings.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Ron Bean's picture

I can recall Baptist mission boards being reluctant to accept young people from Baptist churches for summer mission teams because their home church, while distinctly and doctrinally Baptist did not have Baptist in their church's name.

BTW, Jim Peet, those Baptist Tabernacles do have altars in them.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jonathan Charles's picture

BBC was a Bible college.  Is that what they still are, or are they offering more necessitating a name change from a name that identifies them as a Bible college?

Lee's picture

Names are identifiers, plain and simple.  Name changes are changes of identity.  Plenty of examples around that illustrate that:  Marriage; Jacob becomes Israel; Daniel to Belteshazzar (attempted at least); business name changes, which happen all the time (Kentucky Fried Chicken morphs simply to KFC, for instance); etc. 

In a business model it often involves a greater inclusivity that the old name failed to represent (for example: Joe's Pool Sales becomes Eastside Pool and Patio or similar) .  Likely that is the case here.

The question is what is their new identity identifying with/as.  I suppose that is yet to be seen. 

Lee

Joel Shaffer's picture

 Not only do they offer bible and ministry degrees, but they also offer business and education degrees. So that is one of the reasons why they changed their name.  One of my staff is an alumni from BBC, and he told me that their enrollment is 4 times less than it was since 2000.   Offering additional degrees stemmed the tide from losing the school all together.  Bible colleges cannot compete with liberal arts colleges and universities which offer a much more marketable degree in todays economy and social climate.    

Jay's picture

Jim wrote:

  • Northland Baptist Bible College. Recent history that is well known

What's going on with Northland?  Did I miss something?

 

/ducks

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Donn R Arms's picture

Jim wrote:

  • LABC ---> The Masters College. Robust, going concern
  • Denver (DBBC) ----> folded & merged with Faith (Ankeny)
  • Spurgeon (was some place in Central Florida) ---> folded and merged into Piedmont
  • Grand Rapids: dropped "Baptist". Robust, going concern
  • Cedarville: Never had "Baptist" in its title. Robust, going concern
  • Faith Baptist in Ankeny: Robust, going concern

You missed some Jim. Western Baptist Bible College became Corban (whatever that means) University. Northwest Baptist Seminary (my alma mater) was given to Corban which immediately sold the property and promised to establish a graduate school in the Seattle area with the money. A year later they reneged and formed a partnership with Mars Hill (which will probably die). Corban has proven to be ethically challenged in the whole affair.

Cedarville was organized as Cedarville Baptist College and there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth when they dropped the name Baptist. As a compromise they became Cedarville College, A Baptist College of Arts and Sciences. When they became a university the dropped the pretense.

Donn R Arms

Jay's picture

Donn R Arms wrote:

You missed some Jim. Western Baptist Bible College became Corban (whatever that means) University. Northwest Baptist Seminary (my alma mater) was given to Corban which immediately sold the property and promised to establish a graduate school in the Seattle area with the money. A year later they reneged and formed a partnership with Mars Hill (which will probably die). Corban has proven to be ethically challenged in the whole affair.

Every time I see that name (Corban Unversity), I'm reminded of Jesus' admonition:

But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) —then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

It's probably meant to indicate that the university is 'given to God', but what I remember is the invalidation of the Word of God by tradition.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells