Mennonite Seminary in California Demotes President, Ousts Three Megachurch Pastors from Serving as Lecturers

Fresno Pacific University has demoted the president of its Bible seminary and let go of three Anabaptist megachurch pastors who served as visiting lecturers in a move to protect the seminary’s relationship with the Mennonite Brethren Church.

The California-based university announced before the start of the new school year that Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary President Terry Brensinger will leave his administrative role and take a month-long sabbatical before returning as professor of pastoral education.

Additionally, lecturers Greg Boyd, Bruxy Cavey and Brian Zahnd — pastors who drew concerns from denominational leaders over theological differences — are no longer affiliated with the seminary’s graduate-level Master of Arts in Ministry, Leadership & Culture program.

Boyd is pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, while Cavey is pastor of Canada’s multi-campus The Meeting House and Zahnd is lead pastor of the Word of Life Church in Missouri.

The men were affiliated with M.A. program that began in 2016 and blended online courses and short residencies to help educate pastors and anyone serving at least 10 hours per week in a church ministry.

An FPU statement explained that the staffing decisions come as “a growing number of pastors and congregations” within the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches have “voiced concern with some teaching positions of the visiting lecturers and, over a longer period, the direction of the seminary.”

“The Mennonite Brethren community is called to peacemaking and reconciliation,” FPU President Joseph Jones said in a statement. “Even in times when we fall short, we attempt to teach, model and practice this in our communities. Affirming these values does not prevent disagreement but provides a foundation to build trust in working relationships.”

The seminary was formerly known as the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary before it merged with FPU in 2010. It continues to serve as a denominational seminary of the United States and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches and describes itself as “evangelical, ecumenical and Anabaptist.” Brensinger had been president of the seminary since 2013.

Brensinger told Mennonite World Review that the staffing decisions were changes made by the university president and leaders of the denomination. He added that “these weren’t my choices or decisions” since the university president has authority over the seminary president.

Brensinger suggested that there was some concern about Boyd and his 2000 book God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God, which advocates “open theism” and questions the “classical doctrine on God’s foreknowledge of the future.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith