A Mennonite Brethren seminary in the United States has "ousted" a Canadian pastor who was a regular lecturer over concerns raised by donors of his, and others', theology.
Bruxy Cavey, the pastor of the multi-site church the Meeting House in Ontario, along with two other well-known pastors, Greg Boy and Brian Zahnd, have been removed as guest lecturers from Fresno Pacific University's seminary (FPU), Fresno Pacific Bible Seminary (FPBS). The school's president, Terry Brensinger, was also demoted and will become a professor of pastoral education in January after a semester-long sabbatical.
The four men were part of the school's Master of Arts in Ministry, Leadership and Culture program.
The Mennonite World Review (MWR) reports that in an interview, Brensinger said his removal and the release of Boyd, Cavey and Zahnd were changes involving the university president and denominational leaders.
“These weren’t my choices or decisions,” he said. “The seminary president reports to the university president since the merger.” FPBS was known as Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary until that school merged with FPU in 2010.
In a press release, the university said that the move was made because of concerns from “a growing number of pastors and congregations” about the direction of the seminary and “some teaching positions of visiting lecturers.”
Brensinger told the MWR that constituents’ concerns centred on Boyd’s theology. Boyd is a pastor in Minnesota and is also the author of The Myth of a Christian Nation, and God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God.
God of the Possible holds a view of "open theism" which questions God's total knowledge of the future. Open theism is also known as "openness theology" and "free will theism."
Cavey holds similar views, and in 2010 he invited Boyd to share the pulpit at the Meeting House in Toronto. Cavey has also faced some opposition within the Church over his views on the Atonement.
Brensinger says that because of Boyd's book some donors threatened to withhold funding if the school allowed him to continue to teach.
“It wasn’t a disagreement so much about theological perspectives, but of the right and ability of a graduate school to talk about certain things,” he told the MWR. “. . . I think it was primarily associated with Greg. If this would have happened before social media, this probably wouldn’t have happened at all, but people check Greg Boyd and see he wrote this and this.”
Tim Sullivan is the chair of the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches Board of Faith and Life told MWR, “One of the biggest concerns was it felt as though the seminary was beginning to lose touch with where the bulk of the denomination is, in terms of what was being promoted and the visibility of those three visiting professors."