Postmodernism taught to future preachers at SBTS

Dr. Russell Fuller detailed the teaching of postmodernism at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in a shocking new video interview. He cited the approach of Professor Jonathan Pennington to Biblical interpretation (also referred to as hermeneutics.) Pennington denies an objective hermeneutic is possible, Fuller said.

According to Fuller, Dr Pennington prefers a “productive reading” over the angst-ridden modernist attempts to “objectively verify the interpretation.” Fuller went on to allege, “He doesn’t really like authorial intent but prefers to talk about textual intent.” Fuller says Pennington prefers the “community” to determine the meaning of the text rather than allowing the text to speak for itself. However, Fuller rejects the community determining the meaning.

“This is very dangerous,” Dr. Fuller said. “We believe the Scriptures give us the Mind of Christ, the Mind of God and what we are believe about Him and how we are to live our lives.”

Fuller argued that the best way to interpret Scripture is to let Scripture interpret itself. He pointed to the way Paul teaches that Adam is the first historical person. So, this fact should help us in our exegesis of Genesis 1-3. To bolster this point Dr. Fuller quoted the Westminster Confession.

Fuller explained that the reason seminaries teach languages like Hebrew and Aramaic (both Fuller taught during his time as a professor) and Greek is to prepare interpreters to get at the meaning of the text.

“The whole purpose of teaching the languages is so people can really look at what the Bible says in the originals,” Fuller said. “To get the proper interpretation. (To see) what was Paul trying to tell us when he wrote this or even better what was God telling us when he wrote the Scripture.”

SBTS Professor denies Old Testament prophesied Messiah

Dr. Russell Fuller detailed how a New Testament Professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) denied that the Old Testament prophesied about Jesus. In a paper given to students on campus, Dr. Jonathan Pennington argued that Christians are “brainwashed” by reading the New Testament, Fuller said. Here is a link to paper Fuller discussed.

“He (Jonathan Pennington) is quoting from a guy but he’s agreeing with this this Crump fellow and he goes the you only get that because you’ve been brainwashed by reading the Apostles, and reading the early Church Fathers, and then later on people like Reformers. So, we as Christians have been conditioned. We’ve been brainwashed to read Messiah into the Old Testament,” Dr. Fuller said.

Fuller alleges that Pennington even teaches against a Messianic reading of Isaiah 53. Fuller made the shocking allegations in the second-part of a three-part conversation with Jon Harris.

“He (Pennington) is agreeing with Crump and what Crump says is it’s a self-induced illusion to believe that the Old Testament teaches some type of messianic paradigm that some Messiah would come years and years later and he’s going to you know heal the sick raise the dead forgive sins that he would die and ascend to heaven,” Fuller said. “All these things is a self-induced delusion… Pennington goes on to say and even key passages that the New Testament interpretation of the Old Testament even passages like Isaiah 53, you would be hard-pressed to see that as truly messianic. He (Pennington) is denying that the Isaiah 53 and many passages of Scripture teach anything about Messiah at all.”

Of course, Dr. Fuller denies such a reading of the Old Testament. He asserts that even Jewish scholars see Messiah throughout the Old Testament.

“The problem with that, as you know I went to a Jewish institution, I’ve studied the old rabbis and let me tell you: This is a scandal in and of itself,” Fuller said. “The old rabbis saw Messiah in the Old Testament more than most Old Testament evangelical professors I know. They saw Messiah everywhere in the Old Testament.”

SBTS President Albert Mohler says one thing and does another

Dr. Russell Fuller said Dr. Al Mohler, president of SBTS, said during a faculty meeting considering promotion of Dr. Pennington, “I don’t like his books and (Mohler) is talking especially about his book Reading the Gospels Wisely.”

However, Harris pointed to an article Mohler penned for The Gospel Coalition where Mohler recommended the book as one of: Mohler’s 10 Books Every Preacher Should Read

This is a problem repeatedly raised by people who meet with Mohler. He says one thing and has a history of doing another. For instance, some concerned about the rise of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality point out that Mohler publicly condemned the godless ideologies of Identity Politics. However, Mohler continues to employ Matthew Hall and Jarvis Williams—men shown on video promoting Identity Politics.

How do we reconcile Mohler’s professed conservative views with his inability to purge SBTS of these malign influences? And yet, Mohler and his administration specifically reprimanded Dr. Fuller for raising questions about Professor Pennington and Professor Dominick Hernandez.

We’ve previously suggested Mohler is comparable to a historical person Winston Churchill detailed—Mr. Speaker Harley. A man legendary for political maneuver, self-preservation and political dissembling.

Pennington forced to sign private document repudiating teachings on Isaiah 53

Dr. Fuller said the SBTS administration forced Pennington to sign a private document recanting his teaching against a Messianic paradigm in Isaiah 53. However, the document was not made public despite the very public nature of Pennington’s books.

“So finally he had to write a private document saying I do believe in Isaiah 53. I don’t believe in postmodernism. I do believe in authorial intent,” Dr. Fuller said. “I asked the administration, are we going to make this public? No? Why not well his book is public?”

Conservatives Professors who voted against Pennington fired

Dr. Fuller despite all the concerns, SBTS tried to promote Pennington more than once. However, many of the votes against Pennington were fired.

“My guess is next year they will try to promote him again,” Fuller said. “I tell you what it won’t be 50/50 this time because there’s no longer people like myself there.”

Fuller described that first vote with many conservative, older professors at the meeting.

“I wasn’t the only professor to speak out against the teachings of Jonathan Pennington when we voted for him a few years ago for promotion,” Dr. Fuller said. “We had almost a 50/50 split in the full professors meeting and that was about 30 of us and that we’re the oldest professors and the most conservative professors on campus it was basically a 50/50 split about him and so many in the faculty were very concerned about him.”

“The next vote it will be virtually unanimous for (Pennington’s promotion) because people like me and others who stood up against have been let go,” Fuller said.

For more on the SBTS Whistleblower interviews, see:

7 thoughts on “EXPOSED: SBTS Professor Teaches Postmodernism”

  1. This is insane slander/libel. Jonathan Pennington is one of my pastors. His love of the Word of God and his faithfulness to preach and teach it cannot be doubted. Go check out the Sojourn East YouTube channel for yourself.

    I sincerely sympathize about Dr. Fuller being “laid off,” and, I do not think SBTS should have ever removed tenure. But, slandering this brother because of differences in interpretation is insane. The idea of a conservative witch hunt at AL MOHLER’S school is bonkers.

  2. As someone who finished an MDiv at Southern in 2019, I can’t recall a single instance of any professor, including Dr. Pennington, who I took for NT 2, teaching anything that would be considered unorthodox. For reasons unimportant here, it took me from 2011 to 2019 to get the MDiv so I was around for quite a while. I still live in Louisville and interact regularly with Southern students and two current professors at Southern and one retired professor. I simply have not seen this dive off the ledge into liberalism alleged here and in other venues. Dr. Fuller is one, lone voice. This doesn’t mean he’s wrong, but my experience says otherwise.

  3. Just because you perceive that someone might be a shade less conservative that you are does not mean that person is liberal or progressive.

    I finished an MDiv at SBTS in Jan 2020, and I took Dr. Pennington for Greek Syntax. I spent three class periods a week with Dr. Pennington for an entire semester, in person. I interacted with him regularly on campus. I can say from strong experience that Dr. Pennington is neither liberal nor progressive, and that several things in this video interview have been either misunderstood, or worse – misrepresented. In addition, the greater conversation about SBTS moving in a liberal direction is ridiculous. I began the MDiv in 2014 as part-time student, moving to full-time in 2018. I lived on SBTS campus for almost two years. I had the blessing and privilege of taking courses from world-class theologians, some of whom have recognizable names and others who do not. All were exemplary men of God. SBTS is an extraordinarily unique example in history of an institution which was rescued from the deathbed of liberalism. To think that the same people who worked so hard to bring SBTS back to honor its own Abstract of Principles are now taking steps away from those conservative positions is, once again, ridiculous.

    When Paul felt the need to correct Peter for theological error, he went directly to Peter. Paul tells us in Galatians 2:11 that he opposed Peter “to his face.” That seems like a better template to follow in these types of matters than bringing charges against someone by publishing a public video on a blog which thrives on reporting salacious information in a TMZ-type format (“Death Star” audio at the beginning of a video titled “Downgrade at Southern Seminary” is more akin to clickbait than serious journalism). If you believe Dr. Pennington to be a brother in Christ, you should treat him like one.

  4. Just because you perceive that someone else might be a shade less conservative that you are does not mean that person is liberal or progressive.

    I finished an MDiv at SBTS in Jan 2020, and I took Dr. Pennington for Greek Syntax. I spent three class periods a week with Dr. Pennington for an entire semester, in person. I interacted with him regularly on campus. I can say from strong experience that Dr. Pennington is neither liberal nor progressive, and that several things in this video interview have been either misunderstood, or worse – misrepresented. In addition, the greater conversation about SBTS moving in a liberal direction is ridiculous. I began the MDiv in 2014 as part-time student, moving to full-time in 2018. I lived on SBTS campus for almost two years. I had the blessing and privilege of taking courses from world-class theologians, some of whom have recognizable names and others who do not. All were exemplary men of God. SBTS is an extraordinarily unique example in history of an institution which was rescued from the deathbed of liberalism. To think that the same people who worked so hard to bring SBTS back to honor its own Abstract of Principles are now taking steps away from those conservative positions is, once again, ridiculous.

    When Paul felt the need to correct Peter for theological error, he went directly to Peter. Paul tells us in Galatians 2:11 that he opposed Peter “to his face.” That seems like a better template to follow in these types of matters than bringing charges against someone by publishing a public video on a blog which thrives on reporting salacious information in a TMZ-type format (“Death Star” audio at the beginning of a video titled “Downgrade at Southern Seminary” is more akin to clickbait than serious journalism). If you believe that Dr. Pennington is a brother in Christ, then he deserves to be treated as such.

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