as statements of faith tend to be, the one at Prairie Bible Institute (PBI) in Three Hills, Alta., is unequivocal. Like many Christian belief statements, it affirms the Bible
as divinely inspired. It states that Satan
continues to threaten and that the
physical return of Jesus is imminent. The
school also understands Adam and Eve as
real people, rooted in time and place.
While the postsecondary institution
does allow “for some variation in theological perspective or position,” their
statement says it is only where the variance “is warranted” by Scripture itself.
So there was little wiggle room last sum-
mer for Anthony Siegrist, an associate pro-
fessor of Christian theology at Prairie, who
believes the historical existence of Adam
and Eve cannot be known for certain – and
that this belief is not theologically central
anyway. Because of this, Siegrist’s contract
was not renewed after June 30, 2015.
“Professors have the freedom to present
various views in the classroom,” PBI said
in a public statement – an announcement
which affirmed Siegrist’s character and
gifts as a professor – “but in the end they
are asked to believe and teach the positions that are in line with Prairie’s Statement of Faith.” That statement was approved by both Siegrist and Prairie as they
worked through what it meant to part
ways. Mark L. Maxwell is president of
Prairie: “We hoped to demonstrate for
our various communities, especially our
students, how to take positions on a biblical basis as well as how to implement
the ramifications (letting a professor go)
in a healthy Christian way,” he says.
The Prairie Christian Academy, a five-
minute walk away from PBI, made head-
lines last spring when it received $7 million
from Alberta’s Conservative government
to modernize and expand their facilities.
Opposition politicians cried foul when it
was discovered that public money was
being used to fund a school where teachers
must agree to abstain from homosexual
relations (as well as adultery).
What’s a Christian organization to do?
WE lIkE To pu T THINgs
Across the spectrum of Christian expression, there is a long tradition of clearly
laying out standards for belief and behaviour. And often for good reason, says
Bruce J. Clemenger, president of The
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC).
“Agreed-upon statements of faith bring
people together on common ground and
sometimes, of course, show how people are
apart in what they believe,” says Clemenger.
As an umbrella organization for Christian
organizations, schools, denominations and
Bold ly St ated
Why codes of conduct and statements of faith
matter to Christian organizations
Organizational codes of conduct and statements of faith can be guiding
documents – and provoke controversy. Here’s why By Ron Csillag