DAYTON, Tenn. – The president of a Christian college in Tennessee continues to defend his school’s recent affirmation of the biblical creation account, testifying in court this week that the Bible’s teachings are paramount.
As previously reported, Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, issued a clarification to its statement of belief earlier this year. The clarification simply articulated the evangelical Christian school’s commitment to the biblical creation account.
“We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve,” the clarification stated. “They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.”
The school’s affirmation of the Genesis creation account quickly generated an uproar from evolutionists who said the clarification was too closed-minded. Two of the most vocal critics of the clarification were Bryan College professors Dr. Stephen Barnett and Dr. Steve DeGeorge.
“These are decisions that did not have to be made at this time,” Barnett told Chattanooga’s Times Free Press in March. “This is, as I see it, the hallmark of this administration: making hasty decisions and regretting them. And if they don’t regret this decision, they just aren’t thinking.”
Barnett said the clarified statement of belief is unwise because it does not allow room for any alternative interpretations of the Bible’s creation account, such as deistic evolution.
“The [school] board was asking me to exclude, even as a possibility, any other way of understanding Genesis than their view of what they think the founders probably thought,” Barnett told reporters.
Earlier this year, both Barnett and DeGeorge refused to agree to Bryan College’s position on the biblical creation account, so the school leadership allowed their teaching contracts to expire in May. As a result, the two professors filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging that the school had no right to clarify the statement of belief.
The first court hearing for the lawsuit took place on Tuesday, according to reports. In a six hour-long testimony, DeGeorge, Barnett, and Bryan College’s president Dr. Stephen Livesay articulated their respective positions on the controversy.
“It would have been easier for me to go along to get along,” DeGeorge admitted in court, according to a report from the Times Free Press. “This is very painful for me to be involved in this process. But it’s because the statement of belief and the clarity and the lack of ambiguity in that statement that I have made this stand.”
In defense of the school’s uncompromising stand on the Genesis creation account, Livesay said the position is in line with Bryan College’s evangelical Christian history. Any fundamental changes to the school’s core beliefs would be rejected, he said.
“If the board had changed the statement of belief,” Livesay said, “I would be the first one in line to say, ‘I’m gone.’”
Bryan College’s top priority, Livesay testified in court, is to adhere to the Bible’s teachings.
“Otherwise, frankly, there’s no reason to have a college such as ours unless you hold to those beliefs,” he stated.