SBL’s Plans to Bar IVPAcademic From the Annual Meeting

Earlier today Mike Bird tweeted


Having made enquiry, I’ve gotten a copy of SBL’s letter on the matter to IVP, which begins

I am writing this letter to register concern regarding IVCF’s recent publication of its “Theological Summary of Human Sexuality.” While we recognize the right of an employer, church, or ministry to set expectations for its members or staff, the matter that concerns SBL involves the hosting of InterVarsity Press in the joint Exhibit Hall at the SBL-AAR Annual Meetings.

SBL seeks to foster biblical scholarship through broad and open discussion from a variety of critical perspectives and in conformity with its core values, including collegiality, respect for critical inquiry, inclusivity, openness to change, respect for diversity, scholarly integrity, and tolerance.

After some irrelevancies it gets to the point-

The Council of the Society of Biblical Literature will meet on October 29-30, and I will raise these concerns at that time. I will also discuss my concerns with the American Academy of Religion to determine whether InterVarsity Press will be allowed to exhibit at future Annual Meetings, beginning in 2017. Further, I will request a temporary suspension of IVP’s booth registration for the 2017 Annual Meeting while we take this matter under advisement.

By what right?  And how is their barring IVP any manifestation of the much vaunted ‘tolerance’ of which they boast?  This really is outrageous and utterly inappropriate.  Is this the business of an academic association?  Is their intrusion into IVP’s inner workings fitting at any level?  Will they also bar Catholic Presses in the future since they, by and large, adhere to essential Catholic teaching?  Will the powers that be at SBL decide next year that Broadman-Holman’s views are outside the pale and thus they are no longer welcome to exhibit at the annual meeting?

Now that the door has been opened by SBL to interfere with independent, individual publishers will they next ban presenters from conservative schools?  Will Liberty University presenters be banned?  Where will the witch hunt end?  Who’s next?  And by what right?

If an LGBTQ publisher were banned would colleagues in the society be silent?  I can’t imagine that they would and I would even suggest that they shouldn’t.  Nor should they now.

SBL is in the business of promoting scholarship, not censorship nor the meddling with or in the internal affairs of other institutions.  SBL has stepped outside of its boundaries.  It needs to step back.

UPDATE: Here’s Mike Bird’s take.

3 thoughts on “SBL’s Plans to Bar IVPAcademic From the Annual Meeting

  1. ejoelwatts 18/10/2016 at 7:52 pm Reply

    this is messed up.


  2. Tim 19/10/2016 at 10:32 am Reply

    My concern is threefold…

    First, there are several groups who have exhibits at the conference and have similar views/practices as IVP – will they too be banned? If not, why not? What is the distinction?

    Second, and this is to echo what you said, the natural progression of SBL’s logic is that those who present papers or even attend the conference will need to adhere to a particular view on any given social/moral issue. If it is unacceptable for an exhibitor to participate because of its moral views, then should not the same standards apply to other conference participants?

    Third, why is homosexuality singled out as necessitating this type of ban? What about, say, abortion? Abortion is legal, yet many religious organizations oppose it in the strongest terms. Should they, too, be banned for failing to “toe the party line”?


  3. GeoffSmith 19/10/2016 at 2:49 pm Reply

    SBL needs to die. How many more millions of pages of “Buddhist Barthian Interpretations of John Chrysostom’s Reading of 2 Peter in Dialogue with Queer Theory” do we need?


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