I’ll be on a panel of invited speakers at SBL in 2014, talking about Bart Ehrman’s latest book. In addition, I’ve had a paper accepted by the Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship consultation. Here’s the abstract:
Can University Walls Keep Out The Internet?
Statements can be found on the websites of many sectarian educational institutions, indicating that faculty and students are required to subscribe to a particular doctrinal statement. The rationale for this was presumably clear, once upon a time. By requiring such conformity, the school could attempt to keep (or when necessary, eject) outside its walls those whose dissenting viewpoints could potentially flourish and spread in the absence of such strictures. These statements stand at odds with generally accepted notions of academic freedom, not only for professors and administrators, but also students. The aim is presumably to enable the institution to pass on doctrines from faculty to students without distraction or disagreement.
This paper will explore whether, in an era of blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, and a variety of other websites and online sources, and a cacophony of scholars, apologists, and other voices calling out for attention, the rationale for the sectarian educational institution is fundamentally undermined. When wi-fi and 3G signals cannot be easily blocked, nor the URLs of all opposing viewpoints censored effectively, can any school offer to shield its students from liberalism and secular scholarship? And if not, then how might we expect the rationales and character of conservative Christian higher education to change in the coming years in response to this free flow of information online?
Jim Linville’s paper, “In Search of the Biblical Flintstones,” also looks good, and will be in the same consultation.
I’ll be interested to see if I can actually gather data concerning how many students at conservative institutions interact with people with other viewpoints on Reddit and in other forums. If you are a student at a school with a conservative religious affiliation and you read this blog, please do let me know!