Pro-Evolution Theology Professor Fired from Nazarene University

Thomas Jay Oord
Thomas Jay Oord

School blames budget cuts, school’s president and professor clashed over theology.

A dispute over the firing of a popular Christian college professor has gone viral.

Theology professor Thomas Jay Oord, who has taught at Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) in Idaho, for over a decade, was laid off at the end of last month.

School officials say budget cuts prompted the move. Oord’s supporters say his theological views—including support for evolution and open theology—were targeted by NNU’s administration.

The professor’s firing, supporters say, is the latest example of the Nazarene Church’s ongoing debate over evolution.

Oord’s firing is a “low-level civil war” that often “plays itself out in hostilities between Nazarene pastors and college presidents,” said Karl Giberson, who formerly taught at Eastern Nazarene College and is the author of Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution.

“The denomination has long had tension between the leadership, publishing houses, and college academics, and for the most part, the laity, who tend to be from a rural, less-educated demographic,” he told CT.

In 2000, Darryl Falk, the founder of BioLogos and then-Point Loma Nazarene University dean was accused by pastors, parents, and alum James Dobson of “destroying the faith of [his] students,” the biologist told CT in 2012.

In 2009, biologist Richard Colling resigned from Olivet Nazarene University amid controversy over Random Designer, his 2004 book which was banned from Olivet classrooms for arguing that God is behind evolution.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra and Morgan Lee

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