does assurance equal certainty?

An old friend sent me this controversy brewing at Cedarville College. I went to seminary with David Hoffeditz, who was apparently dismissed last summer under mostly hushed tones. Details are slowly coming to light, as the Dayton Daily News reported several weeks ago, as — Secret recording suggests firings timed to avoid furor: A theological issue splits the conservative Baptist school and could pose a threat to future enrollment and Cedarville firings worry fundamentalists: School says theology had no role in firings of Bible profs; others not so sure::

Cedarville historically has been fundamentalist, or orthodox, since becoming a Baptist institution in 1953, and requires all its students to minor in Bible. But the new emergents’ views on truth and certainty had crept into the Bible department, according to students and faculty, creating a schism.

The fired professors, David Mappes and David Hoffeditz, were on the fundamentalist, conservative side of the divide. Their supporters believe they were fired because they openly challenged other faculty members’ more liberal interpretations of the Bible in the classroom.

Mappes and Hoffeditz were fired in July despite receiving new contracts just a few months beforehand.

I was in the same seminary dorm with David Hoffeditz for a couple years, delightfully joyful guy. Apparently he had more brainpower than he let on, seeing how now he’s a very capable professor. David himself has issued 3 public statements about his situation at, even as he & his wife expect their 1st child next week!

The website tracks a lot of the developing story, er, situation. Article # 3 describes the firings this way:

President Brown, in the presence of fourteen witnesses, said on December 17th of last year that the word “assurance” in the University’s Truth and Certainty statement means the same as “certainty.” The exact lines in The Truth and Certainty statement are thus:

“The Christian has the privilege of living with confidence made possible by God’s grace. Christians can be assured that their beliefs are warranted even if their understanding is not comprehensive or perfect in every instance. This certainty is to be held with humility and love.”

. . . Since Dr. Brown (authoritatively) equates “assured” with being “certain” there is a dramatic problem. Those faculty who signed the statement (the statement is incorporated in the Faculty Handbook which is then incorporated in the faculty contracts) without meaning certainty must face dismissal.

But what has happened is that the “certainty people,” Thigpen, Cragoe, Hoffeditz and Mappes have been dismissed.

Plus, 2 welterweight blogs do battle cage-match style in the blogosphere– Cedarville : Liver vs. Cedarville: Heart.

I feel badly for David and the other terminated profs. I’ve read a handful of paragraphs linked above, and it all seemed way too nuanced for me. I’m going to bed.

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