Kenneth Starr plans to join Baptist church
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Bobby Ross Jr. | Christian Chronicle
After his 2004 hiring as dean of the law school at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Kenneth Starr voiced his thankfulness “to be worshiping again in the Churches of Christ.”
But after his recent appointment as president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Starr expressed his “great sense of kinship and fellowship” with Baptists and said he intends to join a Baptist church.
Starr, 63, the former independent counsel best known for his investigations into the administration and conduct of former President Bill Clinton, will begin his tenure as Baylor’s 14th president June 1.
“Judge Starr is familiar with Baylor’s Baptist history and tradition and offered to join a Baptist church if he accepted the position,” said Lori Fogleman, a Baylor spokeswoman.
Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist university with 14,000 students, created a stir in Baptist circles when it tapped a new president with Church of Christ roots.
“It’s at least ironic,” wrote David Wilkinson, executive director for Associated Baptist Press. “Out of 105 million Baptists worldwide, Baylor’s presidential-search committee and board of regents could not find a solitary soul deemed worthy of occupying the executive’s office in Waco.”
Starr, a regular weekly attendee of the University Church of Christ while at Pepperdine, grew up the son of a Church of Christ minister in Texas and Oklahoma. His father, Willie, studied for two years at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn. The younger Starr began his college career at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., before transferring to George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
While at George Washington, Starr worshiped with the 16th and Decatur Church of Christ and taught the high school Sunday class, he told The Christian Chronicle in a 2004 interview.
“As the years went on, I moved into evangelical Christianity,” Starr told the Chronicle. “I worshiped for many years at the McLean, Va., Bible church. Now, we are worshiping at the University church on Pepperdine’s campus, which we love. I am thankful to be worshiping again in the Churches of Christ.”
But in an interview with The Baptist Standard after accepting the Baylor job, Starr said he began having questions about age 18 about certain Church of Christ practices, including the lack of instrumental music. He said the McLean Bible Church, where he was active from 1978 to 2004, continued to capture his attention and remained his “home congregation” after he left Washington.
“I’m comfortable with the articulation of Baptist distinctives — including the role of baptism,” Starr told the Standard, which noted that Churches of Christ, unlike Baptists, teach that baptism is essential for salvation. Starr also told the Baptist paper, “I feel a great sense of kinship and fellowship with the Baptist community.”
Andrew K. Benton, Pepperdine’s president, thanked Starr for his service to the law school and university and congratulated him on his Baylor appointment.
“Ken has had a tremendous impact on our students, the law school and the Pepperdine community at large,” Benton said in a statement. “His leadership, his love of scholarship and his devotion to our students helped raise the national stature of our school.”
Benton said a national search for Starr’s replacement will begin soon.
Provost Darryl Tippens said Pepperdine’s reputation among law schools has risen in recent years.
“From working closely with our faculty and mentoring our students to hosting luminaries on campus and arguing prominent cases, Dean Starr’s energy and enthusiasm have been inspiring,” Tippens said.
  • Feedback
    It\'s sad to see another soul turn their heads from the body of Christ. I hope that Mr. Kenneth Star will repent from his sin and return to the body of Christ before it\'s too late. Faith only doesn\'t work. Faith is important, however faith is just the start. I\'ll pray for him to return to the body of Christ soon.
    Darrell Mc Neill
    Eureka Heights Church of Christ
    Taylor, Michigan
    U.S.A.
    April, 6 2010
    Coming from a long line of Baptists and several Baptist preachers and deacons I know they are very flexible in the ordinances they use just as they are flexible in the application of truth in their doctrine.
    I do know it is the practice of most Baptist churches to require one to be baptized into their fellowship rather than into Christ.
    Mr. Starr is the consummate politician, speaks equally well from either side of his mouth.
    However,coming from Pepperdine to Baylor won't be much of a change in scriptual doctrine!
    Myke Britt
    Goodlettsville, Tn
    Hendersonville, Tn
    USA
    March, 28 2010
    It is a sad situation when a man has no more doctrinal roots than to be like children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine. Eph 4:14
    Jerry Coffey
    Bridgewood
    Hurst, Texas
    USA
    March, 19 2010
    Southern Baptist Convention\'s official view on Baptism:
    Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer\'s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer\'s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord\'s Supper.
    Seth
    church of christ
    Monterey, texas
    u.s.
    March, 6 2010
    Ken Starr places a high-profile face on what has happened for decades and increases to happen as the generations age. His transfer of church membership makes a splash and provokes a defensive reaction. The continuing departure of yet another generation barely causes a ripple and those who keep defending the denominational identity seem glad to see them go.
    Tim Alexander
    Smith Springs
    Antioch, TN
    USA
    March, 5 2010
    One can not help but notice how closely Starr's comfort with Baptist "distinctives" ("doctrine would have been a less comfortable term; lawyers are careful in such matters)tracked his selection as president of Baylor. Would he have become "comfortable with the articulation of Mormon distinctives" had he been lured to the presidency of Brigham Young University?
    John Crowder
    Chisholm Hills
    Florence, Alabama
    USA
    March, 5 2010
    In interesting choice both by Baylor University and Kenneth Starr. One question that comes to mind is whether Starr will be baptized into the Baptist Church -- i.e. are there Baptist congregations in the Waco area that will allow him to join without being baptized?
    Greg Fleming
    North A Church of Christ
    Midland, Texas
    U.S.
    March, 4 2010
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