Karen Swallow Prior, Research Professor of English and Christianity and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), announced today (March 20) on Twitter that she won’t be returning for fall semester due to differing visions for “carrying out the Great Commission.”
The 58-year-old former Liberty University professor (1999-2020) explained that while she adores her students and colleagues at SEBTS, “it has become clearer through heartfelt discussions with leadership and much self-reflection over the past few years that the institution and I do not share the same vision for carrying out the Great Commission.”
Prior, the first ever research professor at SEBTS in its 70-plus year history, said that it has “also become clear to me that I am simply not well-suited to the politics of institutional life in the SBC. Therefore, I have made the difficult decision not to return to SEBTS in the fall.”
“I don’t know what the Lord has next for me, but I’m excited to see how he directs my steps,” Prior concluded.
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Along with Prior’s work as professor at Liberty University and SEBTS, she is an accomplished writer whose columns appear regularly in Religion News Service. She has also written for The Washington Post, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, The Atlantic, Relevant, and Vox, to name a few.
Prior has also been known for her outspoken criticism regarding former President Donald Trump and the evangelicals that support him. She was quoted in a 2019 The New Yorker article titled “Conservative Evangelicals Attempt to Disentangle Their Faith From Trumpism” as saying, “We recognized that the real problem wasn’t Trump. It was the need to clean our own house.”
Last June, Prior joined Ed Stetzer on The Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast after the Supreme Court overturned 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which had constitutionally protected the right for a woman to receive an abortion across the nation.
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“We still need to have these Sanctity of Human Life Sundays,” the pro-life activist told Stetzer. “We still will need to have crisis pregnancy centers. We still will need to support women making these decisions. I think that there’s just so much more power and possibility in these opportunities, because we have the chance not only to save the lives immediately in front of us, but we also have the opportunity to change people’s minds and to enlarge their imaginations.”
That same month (June 2022), Prior was cleared by SEBTS president Danny Akin after being accused by SBC pastor Tom Buck of leaking a draft written by Buck’s wife, Jennifer, which included testimony detailing Jennifer’s experience of sexual abuse.