Thanks to John Fea I now know about a graduate of Wheaton College, Aaron Griffith, who thinks that Dr. Larcyia Hawkins is simply doing what the institution’s founder, Charles Blanshard, would do (WWCBD?):
With this history in mind, Hawkins’s activism on behalf of Muslims begins to look a lot less like an aberration and more in keeping with the original vision of the college. The antebellum evangelical tradition Hawkins drew upon was one primarily concerned with upholding human dignity and advocating for those on the margins. Muslims facing discrimination and threats of violence in present-day American life surely fit that description.
In 1842, Jonathan Blanchard preached a sermon on slavery before a church synod in Cincinnati. Over eight pages, he presented forceful arguments against slaveholding Christians, pointing out flaws in their Biblical exegesis and showing how “the property-holding of men is the worst conceivable form, and the last possible degree of oppression.”
During his sermon, Blanchard spent two short paragraphs in the sermon talking about the doctrine of God, where he argued that “Whatever leads men to regard Jehovah as something different from what he is, prevents their acting towards him as they ought.” It was clear from these few lines that Blanchard saw theological precision as an important good.
But Blanchard was not especially worried about muddled theology in and of itself. Instead he argued that slavery corrupted “true religion.” Failure to love one’s neighbor or denounce oppression was the real theological problem.
Hawkins, with her stress on “embodied solidarity” with her Muslim neighbors, would have found herself in good company in 1842. She drew not on liberal theology, secularized notions of human rights or shared American identity, but on a robust evangelical tradition of the biblical call to advocate on behalf of people made in the image of God.
So what happened to Wheaton? According to Griffith who follows John Schmalzbauer, it’s fundamentalism’s fault:
In the early 20th century, dancing, card playing, and theater attendance replaced slavery and mistreatment of Indians as Wheaton’s moral bugaboos. Focus on the fundamentals unfortunately meant that social concerns were often swept aside, and, as religion scholar John Schmalzbauer has shown, fundamentalists tied to Wheaton propounded their own brands of Christian bigotry (in this case anti-Semitism).
Schmalzbauer alleged anti-Semitism was part of Wheaton’s past (even though the dots were pretty disconnected):
In 2010 I returned to campus to deal with some of these ghosts. In a lecture series commemorating Wheaton’s 150th anniversary, I lamented the history of Protestant bigotry in my native Twin Cities, focusing on two fundamentalist firebrands. Together, they led journalist Carey McWilliams to declare Minneapolis the “capital of anti-Semitism in the United States.” Welcoming the paramilitary Silver Shirts to the First Baptist Church (“Why Shiver at the Sight of a Shirt?”), William Bell Riley actively promoted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion throughout the Upper Midwest. Preaching a similar message, Luke Rader’s River-Lake Gospel Tabernacle was deemed “the worst place, barring none in the Twin Cities, as far as anti-Semitic vitriol.” Both men had ties to Wheaton College. While Riley preached the funeral sermon for Wheaton’s second President Charles Blanchard, Rader’s brother Paul was a college trustee.
But what do these Wheaton grads think Wheaton was back in the days of Jonathan Blanchard? Lena Dunham’s Oberlin? George Marsden’s reasons for including Wheaton’s founder and founder’s son in his history of — ahem — fundamentalism were sound, even common sensical:
These fights [against Masonry and Roman Catholicism] were simultaneously conservative and radical. Blannchard, who had by now been joined in his campaigns by his son Charles, believed that America was a “Christian nation” and worked for a Christian amendment to the Constitution. Their concepts of Christian ideals, however, showed little regard for prevailing middle-class stands. The 1874 platform of the National Christian Association included recognition of Christianity in the United States Constitution, Sabbath and prohibition laws, outlawing secret lodges, preservation of the “civil equality secured to all American citizens by articles 13th, 14th, and 15th of our amended Constitution,” international arbitration for peace, that “land and other monopolies be discountenance,” “justice to Indians,” abolition of the Electoral Colleges, and election of the President and Vice President by direct vote of the people….
Jonathan Blanchard’s son Charles, thought deeply dedicated to preserving his father’s views, completed Wheaton’s transition into the new evangelical and eventually fundamentalist outlook. The alliance with the Moody forces was clearly the crucial step…. By the end of his career, Charles was a significant figure in the fundamentalist movement. In 1919 he drafted the doctrinal statement of the Word’s Christian Fundamentals Association and in 1926 arch-fundamentalist William Bell Riley delivered the eulogy at his funeral…. Among [Blanchard’s] favorite texts, recalled from his anti-Masonic forays, were “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” and “Come out from among them and be separate. (Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, 29, 31)
We don’t need selective history to justify cherry-picked theology.
Yes, it’s a shame if Dr. Hawkins loses her position over her remarks. Yes, it’s tough for administrators to protect faculty privileges while also maintaining institutional identity (not to mention satisfying alumni and donors).
But we don’t need to make up theology or history to justify our own rooting interests. The idea that the Blanchards would have been on the side of Muslims is risible, almost as funny as thinking that anyone would want to justify an institutional policy or personal conviction today by appealing to — wait for it — Jonathan and Charles Blanchard. Those guys would chew any contemporary Protestant up and spit us out. If they’d do that to Protestants dot dot dot
46 thoughts on “Wheaton College: For Christ, His Kingdom, and Islam?”
Darryl – You’re right about the Blanchards themselves. But is it not possible that folks like Hawkins are their intellectual heirs? That they followed the Blanchards social gospel trajectory? Look at their political program:
The 1874 platform of the National Christian Association included recognition of Christianity in the United States Constitution, Sabbath and prohibition laws, outlawing secret lodges, preservation of the “civil equality secured to all American citizens by articles 13th, 14th, and 15th of our amended Constitution,” international arbitration for peace, that “land and other monopolies be discountenance,” “justice to Indians,” abolition of the Electoral Colleges, and election of the President and Vice President by direct vote of the people…
These guys were Progressives. Their platform reads like Woodrow Wilson’s. The only thing they left out was the income tax and direct election of Senators – though I’m sure they would have supported both (and maybe did). And eventually the social gospel always crowds out the Gospel of Christ.
I can’t see any substantive difference between what Hawkins has said and what Billy Graham said on the same topic. Mind you, Billy Graham has a building named after him sitting on the Wheaton campus and is still an emeritus trustee. Also, Stan Jones signed (and later unsigned) an interfaith statement a few years ago that recited much the same averment. So, is the only issue that Hawkins is not a white male in a Refirmed evangelical world that places a lot of value on being white and male?
Evangelicals always demand to know why a degree from Wheaton or Westminster isn’t respected in the same way as one from Amherst or Yale Divinity School. Well, you can look no further than Pete Enns and Largcia Hawkins. Oddly enough, the same creepy* dude was involved in both of these highly questionable dismissals.
*I met Ryken on one occasion. He struck me as creepy. I left wondering how this guy hosts swanky fundraisers for college alumni. I can’t see myself paying $1000/plate to hear this guy talk.
Donald Dayton— “For Christ and His Kingdom,” is best understood as a social statement flowing out of this evangelical reform impulse, what John the Baptist and the Savior meant when they preached the ‘kingdom of God’ was ‘a perfect state of society.”
Did Jesus die in order to make each and every Muslim an offer to accept or reject?
Mark Jones–Nonetheless, I find some comfort in John Owen’s words: “Men may be really saved by that grace which doctrinally they do deny… The better versions of hypothetical universalism – which differ from the views of Amyraut or Cameron – are practically indistinguishable from certain versions of particular redemption. John Owen was actually the novel theologian when he wrote The Death of Death
Leithart—-Crisp refutes the notion that hypothetical universalism reduces to Arminianism. The fact that the two positions overlap in language and content doesn’t mean they are equivalent, and they aren’t: “Whereas the hypothetical universalists claimed that God effectually applies the work of Christ only to those whom God has eternally elected according to God’s good pleasure and will, the Arminian’s claim that God elects those ‘individuals who through the established means of his prevenient grace come to faith and believe’ and persevere in the faith….The hypothetical universalist scheme claims that God elects independent of any knowledge God has concerning foreseen faith” .
Bobby – “creepy” is the last adjective I’d use to describe Ryken. He is a very family-oriented gentleman who often humbles himself to sit with the youngest one during hymn singing in order to help her read and follow the lyrics. And he is a most excellent preacher, IMO. Don’t forget, as has been previously pointed out, that he’s under pressure in current position to strongly take into consideration the opinions of the board of trustees as well as “significant” alumni donors. It’s not an easy calling. I often wonder if he sometimes wishes he would have stayed in Philly.
Oberlin? Here’s a PCA staffer-activist-pastor’s daughter who would fit right in. Between 7:45-8:45 she says evangelicals are straight-up white supremacists.
Publius, so how do you account for progressives who wind up fundamentalist? I actually think you can, but the “scholars” out there say that’s impossible. You are one of the other.
Bobby, but you are confused sexually. Maybe that’s what happened when you met Phil.
Darryl – I don’t think it’s that hard – and it sounds like you don’t either. The fundamentalist urge and the progressive urge are largely the same. They both have utopian dreams and both think they can improve on human nature through a large and rigidly enforced set of rules.
Ryken creepy? But calling him such seems a little so. As for Evangelicals complaining that a degree from Wheaton or Westminster isn’t respected in the same way as one from Amherst or Yale Divinity School…huh? On what planet, dude? Most I know are more than happy that Wheaton remains very distinct from the others. As for Enns dismissal being questionable, hardly.
I kept typing wild quotes that that “PCA staffer-activist-pastor’s daughter” said, but each time I was about to click post, I heard a better one.
Okay just one: “Black Lives Matter is a movement on mission in the truth of God… Black Lives Matter is a foretaste of victory. Faith is the substance of things (come on y’all) hoped for.”
Peter Enns was fired for wearing a hijab?
I attended an event where he was answering questions about Wheaton’s contraception-mandate lawsuit. Ryken’s demeanor toward students struck me as fairly paternalistic. He seemed to carry himself more like a middle school principal than a college president. It was also clear that he expected his audience to be entirely friendly. He misquoted the First Amendment, misstated the nature of the arguments that Wheaton had made before the Court, and failed to articulate any basis for why Wheaton would suffer irreparable harm if its request for injunctive relief were denied. But there were several attorneys in the audience who asked him about these issues. He did not handle it well when his casuistry caught up with him. He seemed offended that anyone would have the gall to point out his missteps. At that point, I concluded that the man was nothing but a charlatan. He just operates in a hierarchical world where charlatans often aren’t held accountable. I sincerely hope that Hawkins takes that clown to the cleaners. Several of my closest buddies in law school were Wheaton graduates. They’re all utterly embarrassed by Ryken’s spoliation of their alma mater.
As for Enns, I think Westminster was a better school with him there. But it seemed like the powers at WTS are content to turn it into an East Coast version of Mohler Mart. Pete didn’t fit the TGC image. Of course, when a seminary lends its President to serve as a keynote speaker for Vision Forum events, it’s pretty clear where things are headed. I’ll take Pete Enns over Doug Phillips any day.
Publius, but practically every Progressive things they are the opposite of fundamentalist. Talk about utopian.
Dave C., ding.
Bobby, “He just operates in a hierarchical world where charlatans often aren’t held accountable.”
Like you in the PCUSA?
I don’t deny the existence of charlatans within the PCUSA. Even so, I fail to see how the existence of charlatans in the PCUSA justifies Ryken’s casuistry. Besides, I generally attend an evangelical mega-church these days.
Bobby, “I generally attend an evangelical mega-church these days.”
And you lecture other people about creepy?
So far, it’s like only your opinion man about Phil. You didn’t supply any evidence.
Bobby The word creepy is meaningless because it can be applied to any one of us at any time. Stick to the argument. I sat under Phil’s preaching for more than a year at 10th and was greatly edified. It’s serious business to publicly disparage the character of a brother in Christ. It’s hard to hear dishonoring words directed against individual I have been called to honor. It tempts me to judge and return the sin. I don’t want to come off self righteous but for me a line has been crossed.
It was the paternalism that I found to be creepy. If students at Wheaton were 14 years old, it would make sense. But they’re not. That’s what was creepy.
He also seemed to carry himself in a way that made him seem 15 years older than he was. By contrast, I tend to try to look 15 years younger than I am. There are few business contexts these days where being older is an advantage. If Wheaton is such a place, it further suggests that Wheaton is out of touch with world it serves and needs to right itself ASAP.
I’m looking for a Christianity that reflects the model/style of Silicon Valley–a commitment to Nicene orthodoxy, but a concomitant commitment to Schumpeterian creative destruction and the principles of spontaneous order.
The fact that you may see Willow Creek says more about you than it does about Willow Creek. It didn’t become the most influential Christian church in the US by being creepy, I assure you. Then again, I think the OPC’s most famous minister, Kevin Swanson, is a bit creepy too. But maybe it’s just me.
Not that I would know but maybe creepy.
“Schumpeter claimed that he had set himself three goals in life: to be the greatest economist in the world, to be the best horseman in all of Austria and the greatest lover in all of Vienna
He became known for his heavy teaching load and his personal and painstaking interest in his students”
Maybe Ryken is just like one of the fathers of your nirvana.
Kevin Swanson is the poltergeist preacher.
Bobby, what if it turns out your the creepy one?
The fact that you may see Willow Creek says more about you than it does about Willow Creek. It didn’t become the most influential Christian church in the US by being creepy, I assure you.
It’s a pretty big error to say “influence=correct.” You aren’t saying that outright, but a comment like that certainly leans in that direction.
Evangelicals always demand to know why a degree from Wheaton or Westminster isn’t respected in the same way as one from Amherst or Yale Divinity School. Well, you can look no further than Pete Enns and Largcia Hawkins.
Wheaton and Westminster were hated by the cultural elite long before Enns or Hawkins graced their doors.
Bobby, “I’m looking for a Christianity that reflects the model/style of Silicon Valley–a commitment to Nicene orthodoxy, but a concomitant commitment to Schumpeterian creative destruction and the principles of spontaneous order.”
Trying to be cool isn’t. Willow Creek? That’s so 80s. You’re sounding as old as Phil Ryken.
BTW, listen to the exchange between Friedersdorf and Teehan and tell me that university or college students — especially the agitated ones — are mature.
Got it. People have to become “mature” before they’re good enough to hear the Gospel in TR churches.
The so-called “cultural elite” bear no hatred toward Wheaton or Westminster, as long as their graduates are equally competent as the graduates of the schools against which Wheaton and Westminster seek to be compared.
I have several close friends who teach at Wheaton. They’re always comparing Wheaton to Amherst, Williams, Davidson, Pomona, etc., and are striving to move Wheaton to the point in which people think of it in the same category of those schools. Wheaton took a huge step back from that effort over the past couple of weeks. Moreover, it doesn’t even appear that she said or did anything that necessarily violated the school’s Statement o Faith. It’s looking more and more like Ryken simply stirred up all of this mess to settle a personal score against a faculty member against whom he had a personal dislike. In the process, the school has burned through an amazing amount of cultural capital to do nothing other than take a petty stand on a question of minimal theological merit. On top of that, Ryken has pursued a spurious lawsuit against the federal government–a lawsuit in which the school got shredded in oral arguments before the Seventh Circuit because it couldn’t even articulate a reasoned basis of its objection to the contraception mandate.
I have several close friends from law school and my former firm who are Wheaton alumni. They were already livid over the school’s contraception-mandate lawsuit, fearing that these kinds of petty political stands risk devaluing the degree for which they paid. This incident is just icing on the cake. Perhaps Ryken’s actions have helped to placate the concerns of a few Trump-supporting donors. But he’s simultaneously hacked off thousands of Wheaton alumni, who must now make their way in a professional world with a college name on their resume that’s become synonymous with racism and sexism.
Wheaton is perfectly entitled to demit from its course of seeking to be the evangelical Amherst, and instead seek to become the Midwestern version of Liberty or Bob Jones. It seems like that’s what Ryken is seeking to do. Even so, such a decision should be socialized a bit more with relevant stakeholders than it’s been. In that sense, Ryken has been something of a “Manchurian candidate”–brought in under the guise of leading the college down a continues path of academic openness within a broad “mere Christianity” kind of evangelicalism, but seeking instead to return the school to the Charles Blanchard days when it was little more than a training center for fundamentalism and a hotbed for anti-Semitism.
It was the paternalism that I found to be creepy. If students at Wheaton were 14 years old, it would make sense. But they’re not. That’s what was creepy.>>>>>
A huge number of women in the world are forced to wear a hajib against their will. So, couldn’t the American academic female – no matter what school she works for – have found another way to express her solidarity with the Muslims of America?
You say it makes Wheaton look bad to fire her – if that is what happened. I say she has made herself look bad by identifying with oppressors.
I say it was a creepy thing for her to do. Sure. Many women wear the hajib freely and proudly. Fine. What about Christian women who are forced against their will to wear one in countries where they are in the minority?
So, let the lady academic show sympathy for Muslims in America. There have to be other ways than donning what huge numbers of women see as a symbol of oppression.
You find Ryken to be creepy. So what? I find women being forced to don the hajib against their will to be beyond creepy. It is life threatening, even, in many places of this world we live in.
It seems that this American academic would be more sensitive to that fact.
Dolce & Gabbana just launched a new line of hijabs. Does that make it less creepy for you?
Bobby, I wear shemaghs.
I believe you were the one to introduce “creepy” to this.
The so-called “cultural elite” bear no hatred toward Wheaton or Westminster, as long as their graduates are equally competent as the graduates of the schools against which Wheaton and Westminster seek to be compared.
And kowtow to the current correct view of LGBT issues, you mean.
How many anti-gay marriage lawyers of impeccable credentials or pick your industry are welcome to speak their mind no matter how kind and open they are to the LGBT community for crying out loud. Brandon Eich? When was the last time Hollywood painted opposition to something like gay marriage as anything less than hateful bigotry?
Ariel, chilax. The problem isn’t the worn hajib, it’s the stated doctrine. But if Francis can enjoin all faiths to find their common doctrine and endeavor together (dude), maybe you can dial down the hajib-as-a-symbol-of-oppression jazz?
Posted January 10, 2016 at 3:01 am | Permalink
Dolce & Gabbana just launched a new line of hijabs. Does that make it less creepy for you?>>>>
Well, then. Now you know what to get for your wife for Valentine’s Day.
How American cosmopolitanism looks provincial outside the U.S.:
Bobby, maybe this will encourage you to moisturize:
DGH, in the year or so since I first encountered Proto-Protestant through a link on OL, I have developed an infallible rule: the more sense he makes, the more a situation is f****d up. Here, he gets mega dings.
The above got posted before I finished.
But, once you are committed to a kinder, gentler neo-evangelical face to the world, how dare you do anything that looks Fundy. Having hired this lady, you can only get rid of her after a lot of process, at the conclusion of which no one will be looking anymore.
Dan, Proto-Prot used to traffic these parts but I think he found OL tepid. He’s still worth follwing.
February 6, 2016 Wheaton College and Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Larycia Hawkins announce they have come together and found a mutual place of resolution and reconciliation. The College and Dr. Hawkins have reached a confidential agreement under which they will part ways.
Tim Keller— “We are an interfaith gathering today, and I freely acknowledge that every faith has
great resources for dealing with suffering and injustice in the world. …Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s Son, divinity became vulnerable to andinvolved in suffering and death. He didn’t come as a general or emperor; he came as a carpenter…..True, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the cross is an incredibly empowering hint. It’s only a hint, but F U grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength. ”
Click to access service_of_remembrance.pdf
When asked if they personally know a Muslim, 43 percent of white evangelicals and 58 percent of black Protestants said yes, while 56 percent of white evangelicals and 42 percent of black Protestants said no.
Hawkins’s Advent activism drew the ire of Franklin Graham who has also been “surprised and disappointed” by her defenders at Wheaton. “How the faculty council can now support this professor being allowed to teach students is deeply concerning,” he wrote on Facebook
DGH, OL tepid? Well, maybe in a passive aggressive way. ☺
Ton of stuff at Proto-Protestant’s blog. Is this guy a Reformed Landmarker? (That might not be all bad.☺).
quote: seek to synthesize Christian beliefs with the world system?
only two options: 1) Christian-worldview; 2) non-Christian worldview
only one option in anything: 1) will love one master/will hate all others
only one option: testing
only two options in that: proved/disproved
The Turks weigh in:
“Sanders took issue with a piece Vought wrote in January 2016 about a fight at the nominee’s alma mater, Wheaton College. The Christian school had fired a political-science professor, Larycia Hawkins, for a Facebook post intended to express solidarity with Muslims. Vought disagreed with Hawkins’s post and defended the school in an article for the conservative website The Resurgent.”
Since holding a public office in Satan’s kingdom has nothing to do with what Jesus ever said one way or the other, isn it necessary to keep asking the next John Kennedy if he agrees or disagrees with the pope about the possibility of universalism?