Sean, you shouldn’t let Paul Cameron and Jeff Kent bait …

Comment on The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop by David Read.

Sean, you shouldn’t let Paul Cameron and Jeff Kent bait you into a philosophical debate that has been thoroughly mooted a dozen times or more on this site and other sites.

This thread should be about the atrocious treatment of Louie Bishop. And the atrocious treatment of Lee Greer, which is also discussed in detail in the above article. This sort of behavior should be beyond the pale regardless what side of the ideological/religious fence a person is on. This amounts to bullying of a student who has no power by an administration which has all the power. You can take the ideology out of it, and the behavior is still atrocious.

Same thing for Lee Greer, and in his case the ideology has been completely taken out of it, because Greer is a Darwinist. Yet he was fired for refusing to knuckle under to Wisbey’s tyranny.

In a crucial way, this story is a personal attack on Wisbey, but a richly deserved and justified attack. It shows that Wisbey is not personally fit to run La Sierra, even if he were a conservative. Even if he weren’t secularizing La Sierra as fast as he can manage, the fact would remain that he is a bad person. Good people don’t bully others who happen to be within their power, and they don’t fire their own ideological compatriots for being insufficiently obsequious and cowed. [edit]

David Read Also Commented

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop
@pauluc: So it was hubris that caused Louie Bishop to expect that an Adventist college would support Adventist beliefs, but it was not hubris for Randal Wisbey to think he could steal an Adventist college without anyone noticing or trying to stop him? This must be opposite day again. As Bill Murray said in Ground Hog Day, “It’s still only once a year, right?”

P.S. You get style points for using “madrassa” instead of “Bible College,” which has become so tiresome.

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop
@George Evans: I agree with you as to the substance of what you’re saying, George. What we’re both saying is that some at La Sierra use the term “creation” to mean something very different from what Seventh-day Adventists normally think of when they hear the term “creation.” It is a case of deception through vague, undefined, or esoterically defined terms, what Cliff Goldstein called the “anfractuosities of language.”

That’s a completely different issue from fideism.

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop
@George Evans: George, I’m not sure how I could have been clearer, but I’ll try again.

The Religion Department is not, repeat NOT, telling La Sierra students not to worry about what is taught by the biology faculty. To the contrary, the religion faculty is telling the students that the what the science faculty is teaching is right, true and correct; hence, the students must abandon belief in a literal creation.

Please read in the above article where Louie Bishop talks about what Dean Webster said in the seminar class. Dean Webster said that a literal approach to the Bible’s origins narrative was “not helpful” and that the Genesis narrative is best understood as something that those in the Ancient Near East believed, but not something we should believe. Webster is the dean of the school of religion.

So, again, the religion faculty and the science faculty are not in disagreement; they are cooperating hand in glove. To whatever extent either the religion faculty or the biology faculty promotes the idea of “creation,” they mean the term “creation” in a mystical, theistic evolution sense, not a recent creation in six literal days as per the Genesis narrative sense. Neither department tells the students they should take the Genesis narrative literally.

Again, sadly this is not about fideism. This is about an institution that is united from bowsprit to stern, from topgallant to keel, in its rejection of the Adventist origins narrative.

Recent Comments by David Read

La Sierra University gets 3-year AAA Accreditation
@Beatrice: Beatrice, I note that you have posted here a copy of your post at

It’s interesting that you say that John Perumal replaced Lee Grismer as department chairman “a long time ago,” but the first news of that change was your own comment at ADvindicate a couple of days ago. There was no public announcement, and no news from any of the usual sources: the Review, ANN, Spectrum, ADvindicate, or Educate Truth. When I was researching my story, there was nothing on La Sierria’s official website to indicate that the chairmanship had changed; the website was not updated to reflect the change in chairmanship until after my article was posted at ADvindicate on October 17. Am I “lazy” if I don’t telephone La Sierra every couple of months and ask if Wisbey has had a change of heart and demoted the hardened Darwinist that he promoted to department chair two years ago?? I cannot help but wonder why this change in departmental leadership was a closely held secret until AFTER my article started making the rounds and being read by Adventist opinion leaders, but some mysteries will likely remain mysterious.

It’s hardly an excuse for wrecking the Adventist faith of those who take upper division biology courses at La Sierra that most students do not take upper division biology courses. But the information that has been provided by LSU students like Louie Bishop is that even a seminar science-faith course intended for a broad non-specialized student audience–specifically the one instituted in response to the 2009 controversy over the teaching of origins–was destructive of Adventist faith; LSU religion teachers, including John Webster who (at that time) was chairman of the religion department, told students that the Adventist hermeneutic was unhelpful, and that the Genesis narrative should not be taken literally as a description of the creation.

If AAA has witnessed a change of direction at La Sierra–and I very much doubt that–then it is up to them to say what they saw, and why they voted the way they did, in connection with their vote to extend Adventist accreditation for a further three years. There is a very public controversy about La Sierra’s blatant undermining of Adventist beliefs, and if AAA is, in the face of that controversy, going to certify that LSU is fulfilling its Adventist mission and upholding its Adventist identity, then AAA must publicly explain its vote, and justify it by outlining the changes that it observed.

You say that I “have not taken the approach Jesus advocated” and I assume that by that you are referring to Matthew 18. That passage does not apply. No one at La Sierra has wronged me personally; I have no personal stake whatsoever in the matter. The issue is that LSU is publicly undermining Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, and the response to that issue needs to be public. The relevant passage is 1 Tim. 5:20: “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” Please look at Testimonies, v. 2, pp. 14-16.

It is not my desire or goal to undermine unity in the church, but there can be no unity except on the basis of sound biblical truth. La Sierra has been sowing the seeds of a very profound disunity, as it has for a generation been training Adventist youth at an Adventist institution (AAA approved!) to lightly regard the word of God. It has been telling the Adventist youth entrusted to it that God’s claim to have created the world in six literal days and rested on the Sabbath day (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:11) is unsustainable nonsense. This can only lead to disunity on the most fundamental level, as one group, raised and educated in the SDA Church, has an entirely different conception of what the Bible teaches and God requires than another group also raised and educated in the church.

Lay people are under an obligation of conscience to see that those who live off the tithe uphold the religious mission of the church. One very highly placed Adventist official has instructed us to “hold them accountable,” and he is right. In the absence of a vigilant laity, the SDA Church will lapse into corruption as did the post-apostolic Christian Church.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Paul Giem: Paul I will pray that you are right that there has been a sea change. But it will take more than a (until recently, covert) change in the biology dept. chairmanship to convince me of that.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@gene fortner: That’s a good list, Gene, but do not forget Arthur Chadwick (Ph.D, U. of Miami, geology/sedimentology) and Lee Spencer (Ph.D, biology/paleontology, Loma Linda) and Kurt Wise (Ph.D, geology, Harvard) and Marcus Ross (Ph.D, paleontology, U.R.I.).

The first two are Seventh-day Adventists and very strong creationists; the second two are creationists. Kurt Wise is a good friend of Art Chadwick and has come to SDA-sponsored events before.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
It will be interesting to see how much power John Perumal will be given, and will exercise, in reshaping the biology department. He should have veto power over new hires, and he should be able to recommend whether contracts for untenured professors are renewed or not, and whether tenure is granted or not. Typically the academic dean or provost has some say over this as well, but the department chair’s power is considerable.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Paul Giem: Paul, your theory is indeed very reasonable, but I don’t think it is correct. First, I have argued that WASC’s concerns about autonomy were solicited by Randal Wisbey so that he could get bylaw changes that would give him greater autonomy from the church. One key item of evidence that has become public is that in 2011 one of Wisbey’s minions, then LSU board member Lenny Darnell, recorded himself saying that he planned to write WASC and demand that WASC recommend and insist on changes to the board structure that would dilute the power of the church officers on the board:

Second, the bylaw changes Wisbey wanted were approved by the constituency back in May, so WASC has no grounds to complain about the lack of institutional autonomy, and has indicated that it is pleased with what was done:

My theory as to why this change of department chairmen has been so hush hush is that, 1) Wisbey didn’t want his liberal base to know that he had thrown any sort of bone to AAA; he wanted them thinking he had gotten an unconditional surrender from AAA, and 2) Wisbey doesn’t want the wider SDA Church to know that AAA thought there was anything wrong at La Sierra that needed changing, much less that the chairman of the biology department needed changing.