The trustee board of Anderson University has adopted a religious doctrinal statement of faith expressing the institution’s South Carolina Baptist identity, convictions, and its Christian belief system.
“Throughout the process, the [Faith Statement Development] team sought the Lord’s guidance and wisdom and has worked diligently to make certain that nothing in the statement is in conflict with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000,” said Ed Carney, team chairman, in recommending the statement for approval by the Board of Trust.
“The team believes the statement contains all the elements that are needed for a statement of this type, that it makes clear that Anderson is a conservative Christian university fostered by the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and that our religion is consistent with evangelical Christian values, with historic Christian creeds and with South Carolina Baptist distinctives,” the recommendation stated.
The adoption of a faith statement by Anderson’s trustees is significant in two ways, according to the university’s president, Evans Whitaker.
“First, it is in agreement with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, yet it is Anderson University’s very own articulation of the essential doctrines as well as denominational perspectives of our Christian faith,” he said, adding, “It is the standard by which we seek to live out our faith and values as a Christian academic community. It is the faith we recommend to our students and all those we love.
“Second, it is our rightful expression under the Constitution and Amendments of the United States of America of what the founders, trustees, and officers of the university have freely chosen by religious conviction to embody and practice as the University’s corporate/community faith,” Whitaker said.
“It joyfully tells the story of who and whose we are and intend to be,” he added.
A preamble to the faith statement reads, in part: “The university’s faculty and staff are confessing Christians who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and agree annually to respect and undergird the university’s faith statement as they carry out their university responsibilities.”
The preamble also states, “Anderson University’s family of faculty, staff, and students is diverse as its members come from different cultures and ethnicities, denominational and non-denominational perspectives. This statement guides the university’s governance, leadership, and culture, but it is not to be confused with or required as a personal faith statement of individuals for employment or student admission.”
Included in the faith statement are doctrinal beliefs about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, humanity, Satan, redemption, salvation by grace, conversion, Scripture and creeds, the church, Baptist distinctives, ordinances, gender, sexuality, marriage, the Lord’s return, and last things.
At their October 2020 meeting, Anderson’s trustees approved establishing a Faith Statement Development Team to propose a statement for the university. Chairman Don Harper appointed Ed Carney to chair the effort. The team was comprised of approximately half trustees and half members of the College of Christian Studies faculty.
The team met several times from October through January. President Whitaker then shared a working draft with Gary Hollingsworth, executive director-treasurer of the SCBC, who reviewed the statement to identify any content or language of concern. The final draft was shared with officers of the SCBC’s Executive Board in advance of consideration by Anderson’s trustees. A working draft was also shared with the university’s attorneys in Nashville for their review and recommendations.
The team met again on Feb. 2 and unanimously passed a motion to recommend the faith statement for full board approval.
In addition to Whitaker and Carney, team members included trustees Robert Winburn, Margaret Wooten, and Rod Elliott; James Noble, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion and assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry; Michael Duduit, dean of the College of Christian Studies and professor of Christian Ministry; Charles Fuller, associate professor of Christian Studies and Honors Program director; and Lucas Stamps, associate professor of Christian Studies.