Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

That Ever So Subtle Slide

Last week I was reading one of my weekly periodicals that I go to–to stretch my intellect and deepen my faith—Sport’s Illustrated. And I came across a disturbing article entitled—“The End of the Baylor Moment.”

Baylor is the largest Baptist university in the world, founded by a core of godly men in the mid 1800’s. So many of our academic institutions in America were started this way. There were these aspirations to develop tomorrow’s leaders into godly giants. One thinks of schools like Harvard or Yale, whose present mission statements no longer reflect their godly heritage. Nowhere does one find a reference to God. Hard to believe Harvard’s original motto was “Truth for Christ and the Church.”

The SI article prompted me to go back to Baylor’s aim: “The mission of Baylor University is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.” God is still in the language.

This has been its passion for over two hundred years—to be a first class academic institution, an athletic force, and a symbol of faith. A school committed to glorify God in everything it does. Hence, Baylor has been referred to by sports publications as “the most outwardly religious school to field a Power 5 football team.” But its practice no longer supports its mission, for it has become a school with a volume of hypocrisy that, as one other article noted, “should make all of us sick.”

Baylor has a recent history of being put on probation for numerous recruiting violations. It is currently dealing with sexual-assault victims, whose pleas for help were reportedly ignored and whose lives will be forever scarred. All of this has led to the recent firing of a brilliant football coach and the stripping of a President of his post. This week, he resigned. As the article notes, these events have humiliated alums and faculty and students.

It’s not that Baylor is unique. To its credit, it has retained its god-ly mission, and there are voices calling for a reassessment of its path. But athletics and money and greed and professors with no regard for God have led to its diminishment, as they have done to so many colleges and universities today.

None of this is new, I know, but every time I read a story like this, it gives me pause. Going off the rails is usually dramatic (if it is a train), but it so subtle (when it is us). I see it when I slide a bit in my spiritual disciplines, rushing through prayer or reading Scripture without stopping to really listen to God. I see it in church behavior, where I fear more and more congregants are okay with coming to church 1-2 times a month (and believing this is rather commendable). I’m reminded of one of my professors who once wrote on the board—“There is no such thing as a spiritual blow-out. Flatness is the result of slow leaks.”

Slowly, subtly, we are becoming absorbed in ourselves and our technologies, inter-texting rather than inter-facing.  If we are not careful to be watchful, vigilant, someone might write about the end of our moment. 

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