Yesterday and today, Dr. Barry Corey has been at Biola meeting with various constituents and speaking in various arenas. Dr. Corey is the final candidate for President. I have heard him speak twice now, and have been quite impressed by his enthusiasm, his candor and his vision. His talk in chapel yesterday has been made available on Biola’s website, so you can be impressed too.
The major questions about Dr. Corey that I’ve read and heard (though they haven’t been very prominent at all!) are twofold: What did Dr. Corey mean in this interview with the Orlando Sentinel, in which Dr. Corey seems to blur the lines between evangelicals and all other Christians, and how can he be ordained by the Assemblies of God and still sign the Biola doctrinal statement (which explicitly contradicts the AG statement on the matter of the baptism of the Holy Spirit)?
Dr. Corey was asked about both issues in chapel today.
With respect to his position on ecumenicism, Dr. Corey pointed out that he is now “getting leery of giving interviews with reporters.” While they promote the University, they are a double-edged sword. He pointed out that in the context of his interview, he was talking about the fact that people in any Christian denomination can have a vibrant relationship with the Lord.
At the same time, he argued that as he has worked at one for years, he understands what it means to be a “Protestant evangelical institution” and that it must be different doctrinally than Orthodoxy and Catholicism. The last two days, it’s become clear that Dr. Corey is committed to preserving theological orthodoxy and to preserving the authority and inerrancy of Scripture.
Interestingly, he made an aside during chapel yesterday that he would not change the chapel requirement for undergraduate students (30 a semester), and said that he was a huge fan of the Bible requirement at Biola (30 units for all undergrads).
Dr. Corey’s answer to the second issue, however, was extremely interesting. He called the issue the “elephant in the room” and said he knew it was going to be a major issue. He has long wondered about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but has never devoted time to researching it in depth. He has never written an article about it, or preached a sermon about it. His father was an Assemblies of God minister, and so it seems Dr. Corey adopted the position by default, a very natural thing to do.
However, according to Dr. Corey, he sat down in January and February and studied every issue on the Biola doctrinal statement in depth, and focused on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He did this not to get a job, but as a matter of conscience. During that time, he came to the conclusion that there is NOT a second baptism, but that the Holy Spirit comes into our lives at the moment of regeneration, which put him in agreement with the Biola doctrinal statement.
Dr. Corey emphatically stated that he came to this conclusion as a matter of conscience, and named several prominent evangelical scholars who would vouch for his integrity on this issue. He claimed he didn’t know what his decision would mean for his Assemblies of God ordination, but that he knew he would “check the box” this next year claiming he has doctrinal disagreements with the denomination. In all, there is good reason to have a great deal of sympathy for Dr. Corey’s position, as giving up denominational distinctives of parents and our childhood is never an easy process.
He also addressed two other issues: he called himself a “mild complementarian,” and holds that women should not be senior pastors. Secondly, he has never been prompted to speak in tongues (though he is not a cessassionist).
In all, Dr. Corey seems sincere, honest and full of conviction about the truth of Christianity and the Word of God. He is young, and certainly has a very different demeanor than Dr. Clyde Cook (ironically, Dr. Cook strikes me as more of an “east coast” fellow, while Dr. Corey’s relaxed and casual style seemed suited for California). The only concern to be had, I think, is how he will act as the “voice of Biola.” If he is leery about giving interviews now, as President of Biola he will need to be much, much more guarded about what he communicates through the press and elsewhere.
Dr. Corey clearly has a passion for higher education, and a vision for how Christian higher education fits in with the Kingdom of God. He has spoken highly of numerous programs at Biola, including Torrey Honors, science, psychology, the Master’s of Apologetics program, and the Institute for Spiritual Formation. With his obvious fundraising and administrative abilities, and his commitment to the Word of God, Dr. Corey is going to make an excellent leader of Biola. I am excited to see what the Lord is going to do through Biola during his tenure, and hope to continue to participate in that work for as long as I am able.