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The 10 Most Liberal Baptist Colleges in America

By    |   Thursday, 07 May 2015 02:23 PM

The phrase "liberal Baptist college” may sound like a contradiction to some. Judging from the laments of conservative Baptists one finds sprinkled throughout the web, the phenomenon is by no means rare. Many colleges cite a Baptist tradition of intellectual inquiry and tolerance, and others have drifted away from their more theological roots. Indeed, some nominally Baptist colleges make no mention of religion or spirituality at all on their websites.

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This list is based on the premise that someone looking for a liberal Baptist college is still looking for an overtly Baptist college, just not one bound to a rigid theological position. The following 10 colleges and universities acknowledge and celebrate their Baptist belief, but also promote diversity, acceptance, tolerance, and critical thinking.

Georgetown College, Georgetown, Kentucky

Georgetown strives "to prepare students to engage in their life’s pursuits with thoughtfulness and skill by providing an exceptional educational experience in a vibrant Christian community." It emphasizes science and the liberal arts.

Bethel University, McKenzie, Tennessee

Bethel offers a "Christian environment" based on St. Ignatius' teaching that "the collegiate environment should facilitate knowledge and contemplation such that actions are based on unbiased reason and reasonable faith." This is a charming statement of openness that could well define classic liberal intention.

Oakland City University, Oakland City, Indiana

A little more theologically-oriented is this "Christian faith-based learning community dedicated to the enhancement of intellectual, spiritual, physical and social development for positive leadership."

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Arkansas Baptist College, Little Rock, Arkansas
Religion is present here as one element on a list including "academic scholarship, the liberal arts tradition, social responsibility, Christian development and preparation for employment in a global community."

William Carey University, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Although religion is mentioned in many of this university's "core values" list, it is tempered with a profound regard for "lifelong learning" within the model put forth by Dr. William Carey. This model "integrates faith and learning with living within the context of global concern," and challenges the student to "excel in scholarship, leadership, and service in a diverse global society."

American Baptist College, Nashville, Tennessee
According to the school’s website, it is "firmly rooted in its historic purpose to promote higher education through a Christ-centered vision of the world for under-served students.” The college is open to people from all backgrounds “regardless of their age, class, ethnicity, gender, or race in an environment that frees persons to be active learners, servant-leaders, and moral citizens of the world."

Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Oklahoma

The school's statement promotes kindness, respect, concern, critical thinking, individual freedom, and an awareness of one's obligations "within a diverse and interrelated society."

Gardner-Webb University, Boiling Springs, North Carolina
The mission statement of the school states that it values both intellectual freedom and faith. Gardner-Webb also “prepares its graduates to make significant contributions for God and humanity in an ever-changing global community."

Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama

Samford makes a more overtly Christian statement than most others on this list, but stresses that it "fosters academic, career, and ethical competency while encouraging social and civic responsibility and service to others."

Judson College, Marion, Alabama
According to the school’s mission statement, Judson College emphasizes, "the making of ethical choices based on the life of Christ, the teachings of the Bible, the well-being of others, and an informed conscience.”

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The phrase "liberal Baptist college” may sound like a contradiction to some. Judging from the laments of conservative Baptists one finds sprinkled throughout the web, the phenomenon is by no means rare.
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Thursday, 07 May 2015 02:23 PM
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