This is an interesting take on academic freedom. It is an interview that Christopher M. Hays did in promotion of his forthcoming book (co-edited with Christopher Ansberry) called Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism (SPCK). Let me cite some of the last statements Hays makes:
But in the final analysis the controversy shows, I think, that this book really needs to happen, because we've got to stop firing critical Christian scholars from their evangelical institutions, and we've got to stop telling keen and curious students that critical scholarship is simply a fad or a pagan self-delusion...because when the bright and inquiring student realizes that the critical scholars have a point, they wonder if their own faith was a sham.
Clearly, this strikes a chord with Anthony and me in light of the travesty at our former employer where those in decision-making positions dismissed Anthony (after looking him square in the eye and saying his position was safe, I should add). It's worth mentioning here, though, because of Hays's emphasis on the impact on students, which is often ignored in these controversies despite the fact that their voices are sometimes parroted by the angry party. (More than once I heard the ludicrous accusation that I was trying to destroy my students' faith. I wish the accusers had actually spoken to my students.) One of our admirable colleagues at that former institution once said that if you think we should not discuss critical issues in a context of theological education, you had best hope that those issues never catch the student later on, because you have left him or her completely unprepared for how to deal with them. I agree entirely and encourage readers of this blog who care about such matters to read the whole interview with Hays, as he discusses the anger that resulted from just such a lack of preparation. I think the pastoral responsibility of teachers toward students in this regard is often neglected in favor of talk that stokes the controversy.