An Open Letter to Harding Faculty and Staff: Two or three years ago, a Harding board member attacked me at a Harding faculty/staff presession. Several of you called or e-mailed to tell me. Thanks. I immediately called this board member. To say he was a bit surprised when I said, "Hello, this is Mike Cope" is an understatement. We had never talked before. It's funny, really, because I'm not that hard to reach. My phone number and the Highland Church number are both listed. But rather than call me ahead of time to make sure he was right, he just went on the attack. I told him that he was, of course, wrong. He had said that I don't believe in baptism any longer. I read to him the part about baptism in our church's "Foundations of Faith" statement. He said that that sounded good to him but I couldn't believe that because I believe there are Christians who don't understand scripture the same way. Ah. It's tough to live with that paradox: a high view of baptism and a belief that God has other followers who don't interpret the passages the same way. But the best of our tradition has always had that perspective. "Christians only, but not the only Christians." Christianity isn't about following us and our interpretation of scripture; it's about following Jesus. Just because they don't fall in line with us doesn't mean they aren't followers of his. It's what I was taught at Harding and Harding Grad. Of course, no apology came. That's fine. I've never met him before and probably won't in the future. But it bothered me that something false had been stated in front of you--especially since I'm an alumnus of the university and the graduate school. And since I preached for seven years at the College Church and care deeply about you and the school. So I wrote the board and the administration, asking for a chance to reply. After all, the public statement about me was made before all of you. I just asked for an opportunity to correct the misinformation. I got a letter from the man who was the chairman of the board at the time. This is an incredible guy; I've known him for a long time and have always liked him. But he said that it would be inappropriate for me to respond because this board member had spoken for himself and not for the board. But someone either invited him or approved his request to speak! Eventually I got a letter from an administrator, telling me that I should be grateful for men like this board member because he's given generously through the years and that money helped pay for my scholarship while I was a student at the graduate school. All right. So I can't come tell you the truth. But here it is. I have a higher view of baptism than I've ever had. Read the statement on Highland's site. Or check out what Jeff Childers wrote about baptism in UNVEILING GLORY (an incredible book all the way through). That's what I believe. But does someone have to agree with me on all the particulars of baptism in order to follow Jesus? No. For too long, we've thought of our salvation depending on getting everything right. But there are devoted Christ-followers who disagree on lots of important things. I appreciate so much what you're doing. My frustrations with my alma mater have nothing to do with your selfless service. Most of you are working for less than you could make at a state university. And you profs are teaching greater course loads (like they do at most other Christian universities) because you believe in the mission of equipping students for the service of Christ. I love knowing that a large number of students come out of Harding excited about mission work--whether that is mission work in Africa or mission work that is around them as they work in Memphis. My frustrations with my alma mater right now -- for example knowing that Ann Coulter can come speak while Jeff Walling (and many others) can't -- are not with you but with the administration. Thanks so much for your selfless work of ministry.