Baptist Christian Ethicist Glen Stassen died today after a battle with cancer. We only spoke once. The conversation occurred after I sent him the following email on September 5, 2009:
My name is Jeff Hood and I am a ThM student at The Candler School of Theology at Emory University studying Christian interaction with social movements. I am currently enrolled in a doctoral seminar entitled 20th Century Christian Social Ethic with Dr. Elizabeth Bounds. I am contacting you based on her advice. I am a recent graduate (Dec. 2008) of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. I had a very difficult time at the school and have had tremendous faith issues ever since. I have been through a number of personal tragedies and have struggled with the question of suffering in the face of a loving God. I became a pariah at Southern due to my questions and my disagreements. I have yet to find a faith home since leaving Southern. I am very confused and could use some advice on how to proceed forward processing my experiences. I was told a little about your background and have always respected Fuller so I decided to take Dr. Bounds advice to contact you. She seems to have much respect for you and your scholarship. I would be very grateful for the chance to speak with you on the phone about your experiences and how you moved forward following life at Southern. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. -Jeff Hood
Dr. Stassen graciously replied with his home phone number and talked to me on the phone for over an hour. When told of my interest in social ethics and activism, Dr. Stassen encouraged me to see myself as part of a long lineage of progressive Southern Baptist ethicists and activists. I remember this being the first time I ever heard the names of Henlee Barnette or David Gushee. Whether he intended to or not, Dr. Stassen bequeathed me a legacy and one of the reasons I still call myself a Southern Baptist to this day is because of him. A few months ago, I accepted the Fort Worth PFLAG Equality Award for LGBT Activism as a Southern Baptist minister and activist. Thank you Dr. Stassen.