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O’Neal, Early published in Baptist History & Heritage Society Journal

By Simon Baker, student news writer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky, – Dr. Mike O’Neal, associate professor of theology at Campbellsville University and Dr. Joseph Early, professor of theology at Campbellsville University, recently had articles published in the Baptist History & Society Journal.

O’Neal and Early’s journals in The Baptist History & Society Journal detail the history of religion and Christianity in America and the implications evolution had on people, faith, education and society.

O’Neal’s article is titled “Shoulder to Shoulder: Clyde Francisco, Genesis 1-3, and Modern Science.” O’Neal has served full-time at Campbellsville University since July 2017. He was an adjunct professor for Campbellsville College/University from 1995 to 2017.

Dr. Mike O’Neal

In his article, O’Neal wrote, “The distillation and application of Francisco’s Old Testament interpretation have shown its effectiveness in relating modern science and the Bible.”

Clyde Francisco was a professor of Old Testament Interpretation at Southern Seminary from 1947 to 1981.

O’Neal said, if Francisco’s interpretation of the Bible enabled him to “successfully navigate the fraught waters of modern science and its relationship to Genesis 1-3, surely the same interpretive framework will have value to contemporary Old Testament [interpreters].”

“An approach to the biblical creation accounts that is sympathetic to scientific inquiry seems to once again be under threat of extinction in Southern Baptist life,” O’Neal wrote.

According to O’Neal, the key to Francisco’s effectiveness in relating modern science and Genesis 1-3 was the application of his biblical interpretations.

“A commitment to interpreting the Old Testament as the enduring Word of God by respecting its literature, trusting its divine inspiration, and focusing on its message enabled Francisco to offer his students an approach to science and faith that saw them not as competitors or combatants but as companions,” O’Neal said.

Early’s article is titled “Tennessee Baptist and the Scopes Trial.”

“Following the conclusion of World War I, the evolution debate finally began to take shape in the United States,” Early said. “In the North, it was more acceptance than debate, as Darwin’s theories were not perceived as threatening to religion.”

Dr. Joe Early Jr.

In his article, Early said Harvard professor and scientist Asa Gray, a devoted Congregationalist, believed that the two issues did not conflict and supported a belief that God could have used evolution in the process of creation.

“The American South, however, proved to be a different story,” Early said. “Unlike religion in the North, the religious scene in the South was dominated by Protestant denominations.

“Religion was also much more personal in this region. Most southern Protestant church members believed in the supernatural revelation of the scriptures and the need to interpret them literally.”

Early wrote in his article, “At its most basic level, Southern Baptists believed that Darwinism was a serious threat to the Christian concept of divine sovereignty. Prior to Darwin, Southern Baptists maintained that religion and science were compatible and were working together to demonstrate God’s creative plan for humanity and the world.”

Early said scholarship is “very important.”

“It keeps a professor current in his or her field,” Early said. “By peer-review publishing, one can see how others view their theories in the field. If it is solid research and adds to the area, it will likely be published in a journal.”

He said that reviewers would not publish the article if it’s subpar.

“We are quite active in our fields,” he said. “Students want to study under professors who wrote the books and articles used in class at Campbellsville University and other universities. Solid, published, peer-reviewed scholarship attracts strong students and brings prestige to Campbellsville University.”

Early has had nine books and dozens of theological articles published. Early has served at Campbellsville University since August 2009.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with an enrollment of nearly 12,000 students. The university offers over 100 programs of study including doctoral, masters, bachelors, associate and certification programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.