The judge in the Klouda case has ruled, granting Dr. Patterson's (and that of SWBTS) summary judgment and tossing the case. A few observations:
1) This is probably an outcome all Christians should rejoice at - on constitutional grounds. The courts decided that they should not interfere in the internal workings of a religious institution. When they start interfering, we are all going to be in trouble. So, on a theoretical basis, this was a good outcome for religious freedom and ecclesiastical independence.
2) The judge's decision does not justify the actions of Dr. Patterson. Just because he had the RIGHT to terminate her professorship, that does not mean it was the right thing to do. That is a decision that I believe the convention will have to make. My point all along has been that things should not be run on the basis of one man's opinions, but on the basis of our shared statement of doctrine and practice.
The convention should decide issues like this, not individuals.
3) Dr. Klouda was an innocent victim in all this. Some say that she should not have filed a lawsuit, based on Paul's instructions to the Corinthians, and I am somewhat in agreement. However, she was a woman in full agreement with and practicing the BF&M 2000. She taught Hebrew (very well, as I understand it) and was not preaching in pulpits or anything like that. She was no feminist firebrand trying to change the seminary's point-of-view.
She got fired because there was a new president. One conservative president hired her and another terminated her teaching position. She did nothing wrong to deserve what happened to her.
4) The big point of debate in recent days has been the "fired/resigned" controversy. Each side called the other side liars (or pinheads) because of their viewpoints. Did Dr. Klouda resign from her position or was she terminated. After reading the judge's decision, I can answer that. Yes!
*She was "terminated" as a tenure-track professor of Hebrew. She was told that she would no longer be allowed to teach in the School of Theology. So, from that perspective, she was terminated. She was told in 2004 that she should find employment elsewhere, and would be given a reasonable time to do so. that can reasonably be called a termination.
*However, the judge was convinced that some sort of offer was made to her to continue at the seminary without a reduction in pay or benefits, but with a new job in the library, directing something called the "Writing Center." The judgment did not elaborate on what that meant. So, she was given an indefinite offer to continue employment at the seminary, but not in a teaching position.
*In 2006, she received a job at Taylor University (remember, she was told to seek employment elsewhere) and she took it. She resigned, but it could hardly be called a voluntary resignation. She was told to get another job and she did.
Did she resign? Yes. Was she terminated? Yes. I don't think this was an either/or.
5) The seminary and Dr. Patterson have been given the right to seek attorney's fees from Dr. Klouda. I hope they will choose not to do that.
6) There is a lot of anger and bitterness over this, among those who supported Dr. Klouda. There have been a few supporters of Dr. Patterson who have been unkind in their gloating. But there is much disappointment, distress, even anger among those who supported her. the anger and tension level now reminds me of the days of the conservative resurgence in the 80's.
7) So, I believe this may be a seminal moment in SBC history. In 1960, a professor at Midwestern wrote a commentary on Genesis, that once and for all proved that liberalism did, in fact, exist at our seminaries. Even though it took nearly 20 years, that was one of the seminal moments in the Conservative movement.
This may be a seminal moment in another split in the SBC, over women's issues. Is ministry restricted to men? Are men in leadership positions in their homes? Is teaching theology in a seminary something women are allowed to do according to scripture?
In the next 10 years, the SBC is going to have to refine its position, and if we stick with the complementarian, male headship viewpoint (which I believe is biblical) there will be a major (How major? I don't know) exodus of churches from the denomination.
8) This is a time for prayer for Dr. Klouda and graciousness toward those with whom we have disagreed.