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Patrick Henry College: Looking For An Historian Holier Than Jesus

November 14, 2007

Patrick Henry College has been an object of two prior posts here.

The first came almost exactly one year ago. In that piece I questioned the bona fides of PHC’s liberal arts curriculum and the school’s self-proclaimed connection to America’s Founding Fathers. I concluded that the school was not on solid grounds with either claim.

The second occurred this past April. The Guardian Unlimited instigated me to think further about the school’s accreditation status. PHC’s restrictions on debate and faculty turnover lessen its status as a higher education institution. At the end of that post I tried to put myself in their shoes.

Today I’m compelled to think more about PHC after seeing their most recent job posting. Here it is—as relayed via HigherEdJobs.com:

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Faculty – History
Institution: Patrick Henry College
Location: Purcellville, VA
Category: Faculty – Liberal Arts – History

Posted: 11/13/2007
Application Due: Open Until Filled
Type: Full Time

Patrick Henry College is seeking candidates for a full-time position in history beginning in Fall 2008. Field of specialization is open. Teaching load is 12 hours per semester. Qualifications include a Ph.D. in history, a display of sound scholarship, evidence of superior teaching ability, and an unwavering commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and the inspired Word of God. Review of applications will begin immediately.

PHC is a private, nondenominational, and accredited institution located near Washington, D.C., in Purcellville, Virginia. The classical Christian liberal arts – wed to a strong biblical foundation – is at the heart of the College’s educational philosophy. This approach is evidenced by the College’s unique seventy-five credit-hour core curriculum. Candidates should be evangelical Christians, in hearty agreement with the College’s Biblical Foundations Statement, and familiar with the college’s Mission and Vision statements.

The College offers a competitive salary and a comprehensive benefits program. See http://www.phc.edu for details. Send cover letter, resume, personal statement of faith, and list of three references (one pastoral) to the Provost, etc., etc.

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I wonder how many applicants PHC will get. And, among those applicants, how many can meet this requirement: “An unwavering commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and the inspired Word of God.”

This is ridiculous—even on Christian grounds. Depending on how “unwavering” is defined, the Gospels of the Bible’s New Testament reveal that Jesus—himself a member of the Blessed Trinity—did not exhibit an unwavering commitment to God (or himself, depending on how one looks at these things).

How? In the garden of Gethsemane, as recorded in Mark 14:36 (NIV version), it is written that Jesus says: ” ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ ”

Here’s the Catholic version (NAB) if you’re into these distinctions: “He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.’ ”

Theological niceties aside, is it not clear from this passage that Jesus wavered?

Here is another example, taken from Mark 15:34 (NAB) when Jesus was crucified: “And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ ”

And the NIV version: “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ “

Again, is it not abundantly clear that Jesus, in his human body, wavered?

So I ask: Does it not appear to you that PHC is looking for an historian who is holier than Jesus?

Good luck with that. – TL

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PS: And what college with aspirations, like PHC, advertises for “a historian” with no geographic specialization? What sane professional would take a job like this? I mean, with this kind of vagueness, it seems—for instance—that an historian of the U.S. might be asked to teach about Australian aboriginals, the ancient Middle East, and the inhabitants of Machu Picchu. – TL

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2 Comments
  1. Well, they are definitely looking for a historian who is not gay, or a woman who expects to walk her own path ratehr than ten steps behind people who are cast more in the image of our Lord.

    But I would imagine — in the vein you suggest — that an unwavering commitment to Jesus would narrow the candidates considerably, so you would have to open up the specialization a bit.

    TR

  2. Matt permalink

    Is there a Cliopatria Award for “Most Hilarious Post Title?” If so, this wins–hands down.

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