What Happens When Evangelicals Attract the Best and the Brightest? The Test Case of My Alma Mater, Lincoln Christian University

President Dr. Keith Ray is a friend of mine. We were students together under Dr. James Strauss. I know Keith wants to attract the best and the brightest scholars to teach at LCU. And it looks like he has done that. He attracted Chris Keith and Anthony Le Donne. But these two scholars have caused quite a stir among the constituents of LCU. Who are they?
Chris Keith is Assistant Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Lincoln Christian University. Dr. Keith completed his PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2008. He is the author of The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John, and the Literacy of Jesus (a winner of the 2010 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise) and Jesus' Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee. He is also the co-editor of Jesus among Friends and Enemeis: A Historical and Literary Introduction to Jesus in the Gospels. He has published academic essays in journals such as Zeitschrift fur die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, New Testament Studies, Novum Testamentum, and Biblica. Dr. Keith was recently named a 2012 Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholar, and is a member of the Memoria Romana project, which applies memory theory to various aspects of ancient Roman history.
Anthony Le Donne is Assistant Professor of New Testament and Second Temple Judaism at Lincoln Christian University. He completed his PhD at Durham University (England) in 2007. His research interests include historical Jesus, philosophy of history, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. His books include The Historiographical Jesus: Memory, Typology, and the Son of David (2009) and Historical Jesus: What Can We Know and How Can We Know It? (2011). He is the co-editor of The Fourth Gospel in First Century Media Culture (2011). Dr. Le Donne’s forthcoming books include topics in religious violence and Jewish-Christian dialogue.
What have they done? They did what scholars do. They interacted with present day scholarship. So they edited a scholarly book. It includes chapters by Dale Allison Jr., and Mark Goodacre. Of the book we read:
In the past five to ten years, historical Jesus research has taken a turn away from the traditional “authenticity criteria”. In previous decades, criteria such as Dissimilarity, Embarrassment, Multiple Attestation, Semitic Influence, Coherence, Multiple Forms, et cetera enjoyed a prominent place in Jesus studies. But what were once staples of the so called “Quest for the Historical Jesus” have fallen toward obscurity. Not only have several key studies in the field openly abandoned their use, those who include these criteria now do so with heavy qualification. The authors of this book target several criteria and show them to be in utter disrepair.

What makes this book most timely is that it undermines the foundation upon which much of historical Jesus study stands. The guiding thesis of this book is that the Quest for an “authentic” Jesus - one who is isolated and disconnected from the narrative representations of him - was launched with the presuppositions of historical positivism and the notion that an uninterpreted past can be recovered. Very few critical historians now think that facts from the past can be distilled from the packaging of human perception, bias, memory, and identity-invested reflection.

Many of the authors of this book argue that historical Jesus study will continue to be important for future generations. As such, it is high time that historians part ways with the pitfalls of historical positivism. All of the authors of this book will take issue with these assumptions and argue either (a) that one or more of these criteria are broken, or (b) that the assumptions that led to the prominence of these criteria must be abandoned. Link.
Shame on them. President Ray, what did you expect them to do? You wanted the best and the brightest, right?

What's more they have put together a conference about the book set to take place on the campus of LCU. Well guess what? Dr. Anthony Le Donne was dismissed from teaching at Lincoln Christian University. The story and links can be found here. I don't know what's up with Chris Keith, but for now it looks like he escaped the hatchet man. That is, unless he goes through with his promise to move the conference after the firing of Le Donne. LCU won't take kindly to that. In the link above Chris wrote:
As Anthony Le Donne’s colleague, co-editor, and co-organizer for the conference, let me say that I’m as destroyed as anyone at the unexpected dismissal of him. One of the first things we decided, however, was that the conference would no longer be on LCU’s campus. We are currently seeking an alternative host site.
I haven't paid much attention to what's going on in my former (non)denomination but there are trends toward liberalism as their colleges seek out the best scholars to teach for them. Take the Evangelical Christian Seminary, a sister seminary to LCU. Look at the credentials of it's faculty, especially Jason Bembry and Christopher A. Rollston. This was the seminary Thom Stark attended who wrote a wonderful critique of evangelical Christianity titled, The Human Faces of God, which I recommend very highly. It should be read by every evangelical.

This is the trend folks, toward liberalism. IT DOES NOT WORK IN REVERSE. You never see a liberal college gradually become a conservative one. It only happens by firings or by starting new colleges. The gradual trend over time is toward liberalism, which takes place naturally as scholars interact with other scholars. Kick against the goads all you want to. It's the trend. The only way to stay conservative is to cut yourselves off from the wider scholarship at large. But then you'll just be talking to yourselves and be ignored by others. Scholars cannot allow themselves to do this and still be recognized as scholars. They must interact with the wider scholarly community. So the choice is to either have scholars and risk upsetting your constituents thereby being forced to fire them, or basically be culturally irrelevant as a University. But what University worthy of the name can stand for that? None should.