Would you sign this expression of empathy with people who are not citizens of the United States? Here is how it begins:
The United States has experienced a contentious election and post-election season marked by fear, polarization, and violence. The current political climate reveals longstanding national sins of racism, misogyny, nativism, and great economic disparity. As faculty members of Christian institutions of higher education who represent varying degrees of privilege and power (but who are not representing those institutions in this document), we, the undersigned, join our voices with those who are most vulnerable.
We affirm the dignity of every human being as created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). We submit to the sovereignty of Christ who humbled himself unto death. As members of his body, we strive to consider others above ourselves (Phil. 2:2–8); to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15); to serve one another in humility (Matt. 20:26–28); and to honor and steward God’s good creation (Gen. 1:28). As one body, if one member suffers, all suffer (1 Cor. 12:26); if one weeps, the body laments with them (Rom. 12:15); even creation groans in bondage to decay (Rom. 8:19-23).
I wonder if these Christian faculty would be inclined to sign a man-made creed, say like the Westminster Confession or the Book of Concord? I thought evangelicals were supposed to be anti-creedal.
Here‘s why Chris Gehrz signed (even though he admits he hesitated):
Indeed, I think most Christians would affirm them, whatever their theological, political, or other differences. While hardly an exhaustive list of Christian beliefs, these convictions are nevertheless foundational to Christian faith, community, and mission. And, as the statement goes on to explain, such commitments need to be restated and acted upon in a time when there is “falsehood that seeks to undermine truth and any propaganda intended to obscure it,” when a “large portion of our communities is weeping” and there is genuine anxiety and fear among many of our neighbors.
A concern for truth is obviously important for academics, whatever their religious beliefs and doubts. Why our role as Christian educators would compel us to acknowledge “pain and woundedness” and then “entreat Christian communities to seek healing, reconciliation, and justice” may be less evident.
Here‘s why his colleague, Ray VanArragon (what a Dutch-American name), wouldn’t sign:
First, the petition is unduly expansive, covering a range of topics that include racism, economic disparity, the environment, and our lack of neighborliness. At the same time it does not offer any recommendations for concrete responsive action.
Second, it employs language that tends to put off people who live outside of academic circles. It speaks vaguely about “structural injustice” and “degrees of privilege and power,” without explaining what those terms mean. It slyly suggests that Christians ought to share the priorities of the political left – a suggestion reinforced by the fact that, expansive as it is, it makes no mention of abortion. Right-of-center Christians, even well-meaning ones, may be inclined to dismiss the petition as pompous, disingenuous, and one-sided.
Here’s why I’m not.
The current political climate reveals longstanding national sins of racism, misogyny, nativism, and great economic disparity.
Does not go with this statement:
we affirm our deep resolve to pursue truth, to reason carefully, and to rely on sound evidence.
Outrage is easy. So is moral posturing. Thinking carefully so that you don’t exhibit moral overreach is a challenge. I’d have thought educators would know this.