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Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

Wheaton College President Pushes Back Against Fox News Op-Ed Calling the School ‘Woke’

By Liz Lykins
wheaton
Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. (Courrtesy image)

Philip Ryken, president of the evangelical flagship school, Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, is contesting a recent Fox News op-ed, claiming the school has gone “woke.”

While the Fox News article claims the college is straying from its “orthodox, Christian moorings,” Ryken said in a statement that the school remains fully committed “to biblical orthodoxy and Christ-centered education, including in matters of human sexuality, gender identity, and race relations.” 

Ryken also took aim at the author’s journalism, saying the “mischaracterizing post seems to be cobbled from out-of-context items found on the Internet. The author does not name any sources or give any citations for his many contentions.”

However, the author of the article, Tim Scheiderer defended himself on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“The Fox News Opinion team reviewed my sources and vetted them for accuracy,” Sheiderer wrote.  He added that Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, was one of his sources.

Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “What If Jesus Was Serious about the Church?” by Skye Jethani. To donate, click here.

wheaton woke
Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. (Video screengrab)

And in another post, Scheiderer stated: “Writing this article was not a pleasurable experience. When pointing out how a group or a person has veered from Christian orthodoxy, it is quite saddening. I care deeply about higher education and its impact on today’s young people and even more so when it is a Christian institution. Hence, it was an article I had to write.”

Has Wheaton gone ‘woke’?

Established in 1860 by Evangelical abolitionists, Wheaton College is known for its notable evangelical alumni, including Billy Graham, author and pastor John Piper, and apologist William Lane Craig. Currently, around 2,300 undergraduates and 600 graduate students attend the school, according to Wheaton’s website.

Scheiderer argued in his piece that Wheaton has become “woke” by “banning biblical words, teaching critical race theory, and psychologizing gender identity issues.”

Scheiderer claimed the school has done this in numerous ways, such as by holding ceremonies to recognize “graduating minority students sans White students.”

Scheiderer is referring to Wheaton’s Minority Senior Recognition Ceremony, which was created in 2021. According to the college’s website, the purpose of the ceremony is to “affirm God’s image in ethnic and cultural minority students and their families, to acknowledge their unique challenges at the College as well as to express appreciation for their commitment.”

brian howell
Brian Howell (Photo: Wheaton College)

Brian Howell, a Wheaton Professor of Anthropology, told The Roys Report (TRR) that this is an annual awards event that’s open to the public. He added that the ceremony recognizes people of every race.

While Scheiderer shared concerns that the school teaches critical race theory — a topic that has divided denominations and Christian high education institutions — Howell said Wheaton’s teaching doesn’t equate to advocating.

“To teach something is not to advocate it,” Howell said. “It’s to help students understand. It’s to bring it to their attention. It’s to read it and read about it.”

He added, “We don’t shield our students from what’s going on in the world. . . . We give them the tools to understand it from a Bible perspective.”

Scheiderer also expressed concern that the school is banning “biblical words that are key to the faith’s foundation.”

“In this year’s curriculum for freshmen, students are informed about opportunities to meet the needs of those less fortunate. This is commonly known as the act of service,” Scheiderer wrote.

“Wheaton, however, instructs the students not to use the word, ‘service.’ Instead, they are to use ‘sacrificial co-laboring.’ The reason given is service ‘may invoke power dynamics across socio-economic, racial, and cultural lines.’” 

Scheiderer argues the school has banned the use of the word “service.” But Howell said, “that’s just wrong.”

Howell explained the term service is used in many contexts at Wheaton. But in this instance, the term “’sacrificial co-laboring” is used to describe the situation more accurately. In the curriculum, freshmen join with other groups to learn about opportunities to help others.

Howell said overall he is disappointed that Fox News ran Scheiderer’s op-ed. Howell added that Wheaton isn’t woke, something he defined as promoting and defending a specific political agenda.

“Wheaton College doesn’t do that,” Howell said. “The school is absolutely committed to a Christian identity and a Christian worldview. But we don’t promote a specific political point of view.”

Is Wheaton Marxist?

Scheiderer additionally claimed that in the 2000s, Wheaton’s education department commended the teachings of Marxists.

Wheaton did previously have a foundational document in its education department that embraced “leftist social justice,” according to a 2010 investigation by TRR founder Julie Roys.

Wheaton’s former document stated that the school develops teachers who are “agents of change” for social justice. The college defined justice by citing several radical leftist thinkers, such as Paulo Freire, a Brazilian Marxist thinker, and Bill Ayers, a former terrorist who bombed the Pentagon. 

However, after TRR’s report, President Ryken rewrote the document. “This correction is extremely important,” Roys wrote in 2013 article, adding that the revisions show a “heartening return to correct biblical thinking.”

Wheaton College’s Blanchard Hall (Photo Credit: Wheaton College Website)

In his op-ed, Scheiderer also cited other examples of “wokeness” at the school. He said that in 2016, 78 Wheaton faculty members voiced support for a fellow professor who stated Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Scheiderer is referring to the controversy surrounding Professor Larycia Hawkins. 

In 2016, the school’s student newspaper, The Wheaton Record, published a letter signed by 78 faculty members calling on the school’s provost to revoke the administrative leave of Hawkins.

The professor was subject to disciplinary action after stating online that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Ultimately she parted ways with the institution after reaching a confidential agreement with the institution.

Freelance journalist Liz Lykins writes for WORLD Magazine, Christianity Today, Ministry Watch, and other publications.

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58 Responses

  1. “Howell said Wheaton’s teaching doesn’t equate to advocating.”

    Actually, it does. Here is some information refuting Howell’s statement:

    “Nathan Luis Cartagena is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wheaton College. Dr. Cartagena has dedicated his career to teaching Christians critical race theory (CRT) and advocates for the Church to adopt it as standard, Christian doctrine.

    In the article, “Is Your Bible Anti-Black?,” he accuses the King James Version (KJV) of containing “anti-blackness.” Dr. Cartagena writes that as the Bible was translated into Western languages “white supremacy, anti-blackness,” and ”European Imperialism” were embedded into the KJVs. He recommends that diverse teams of ethnic, racial, and cultural scholars be formed to purge the “historic idolatry of whiteness” from the KJV and other biblical translations.

    In an article for Faithfully Magazine, Dr. Cartagena writes that CRT is necessary to understand that America is a “racialized society.” Lamenting that many preachers won’t adopt anti-racist practices, Cartagena describes this as the Church’s “betrayal” against the “racialized minority.”

    https://www.professorwatchlist.org/professor/nathanluiscartagena

    Dr. Cartagena does not teach CRT – He lives it, advocates for it, and exposes young people in his classes to his personal take on it every day.

    Wheaton College has strayed very far from its Biblical moorings.

    1. Dr Norbeck – CRT is old news to be outraged about. The new boogeyman is diversity, equity and inclusion or DE&I. You might want to get up to speed on this “new” concept to complain about.

      1. Jane, maybe you should get up to speed. Those are one and the same – one is the practice that grows out of the theory. One has not replaced the other. One is taught to our youth while we experience the other at our jobs.

        1. I could be wrong about this but, it sounds like diversity equity, and inclusion is just the new. “White whine.”

          1. Jane,

            What I find disappointing is that Christians on this forum seem to get more outaged at fellow Christians calling for racial tolerance and inclusion than they are over the sexual predators in our midst.

          2. Thanks for confirming what we already knew, Jane. You defend race essentialism by being a race essentialist. Well done.

    2. Dr. Norbeck, the Professor Watchlist is not a reliable site for information. It is a biased, partisan site with a political agenda. I know Dr. Cartagena. He is a deeply humble, gracious, Christ-loving person who gives tremendous love to each of his students. He is a graduate of Grove City College. Got his PhD at Baylor. Has worked with the US military on wartime ethics and does research on Aquinas and virtue ethics, as well as his writing on race. In no way is he advocating for CRT as a “standard Christian doctrine” any more than our faculty who teach Plato and Aristotle are advocating for paganism to become a standard Christian doctrine. In both cases, we are teaching that there are insights from these non-Christian ways of thinking that can inform our understanding of the world. All of these ways of thinking – Descartes, Locke, Hobbes, Plato, Marx, Bentham, de Bouvoire – should be studied by Christians and understood in the light of scripture. That is what Nathan is doing in his classes.

      There are many hit pieces on Nathan out there. Virtually none of them reach out to him to understand what he’s saying in his publications. He has long stopped worrying about people who are out to prove he’s “woke,” so he doesn’t respond to it all. But Dr. Ryken and everyone else here at Wheaton knows Nathan and what he’s about. He is trusted and loved as a brother in Christ who is committed to the gospel as we all are on the faculty. Anything that suggests otherwise is misrepresenting who he is and what he does.

      1. Hello Brian,

        Sadly CRT and Wokeness have become the new boogeymen in conservativetopia much like what happened in the 1950s under Joe McCarthy.

        I hope you will receive a reasoned reply from the good doctor but I doubt it.

        1. As a former graduate of Wheaton College with a dozen family members who attended it before me, including my parents, I am disgusted by Wheaton’s decision to embrace the woke agenda, especially seeing how the report went out of its way to make my great-uncle, Dr. Merrill Tenney, a scapegoat for why Dr. Edman didn’t embrace a 1960 report by the Sociology Department on racial matters that was never issued. Coming on the heels of the decision to rewrite history by changing the memorial plaque to the victims of the Acua massacre to whitewash the nature of the atrocity, I had my name removed from Wheaton’s mailing list permanently and I will never give them a nickel of my money as an Alumni member.

      2. Brian Howell:

        All truth is God’s truth, regardless of its source.

        The information about Dr. Cartagena can be found elsewhere, as you well know. Regardless of his personality attributes, regardless of his service to humanity, regardless of your opinion of his character, the facts I quote from his own publications speak for themselves.

        “When I was first teaching on CRT, I was very explicit about when something was a CRT essay or quote. Now, one of the things I do is I present CRT literature without telling students that it’s CRT literature. Then I ask them what they think about it. The overwhelming response from the students is: “Wow, this essay is so rigorously researched, so clear, and so well-argued. Even if I don’t agree with every claim, I learned so much,” etc. Then, after they’ve sung a little praise song, [laughs] I tell them they’ve read a piece by a critical race theorist. You can see a look of disillusionment set in — this part gets really hard, if I’m honest. On the one hand, it’s a healthy destabilization. You’ve gotta remember that a lot of my students are racialized white folks. If they’re not now going to say that everything they just said was false, how do they reckon with believing there are things to learn from critical race theorists while knowing that the stakes, in some of these communities they’ve been a part of, are so high that to say such is to find themselves ostracized?”

        Dr. Nathan L. Cartagena
        https://sojo.net/articles/why-nathan-cartagena-teaches-critical-race-theory-evangelicals

        1. It seems that you’re taking issue with the fact that he’s presenting students with information in a way that doesn’t bias them against it so they can learn to evaluate it critically? That’s seems like EXACTLY what a college professor should do. And if all truth IS God’s truth, why are you (and other’s) so afraid of discovering God’s truth in critical race theory?

        2. The passage you chose actually makes my point. He is not trying to make students into CRT disciples and take them out of their faith. Rather, he’s showing them that when they read something without prejudice – when they don’t get hung up on the label CRT – they can realize there are valuable points being made and insights that can be helpful for understanding the world. What Nathan is destabilizing in his teaching is our young students’ overconfidence in their understanding of things like CRT (and lots of other things!) Once they realize they don’t have to be scared of reading such works, they become aware that, as Christians, we can learn from anyone anywhere without fear. As Nathan knows very well, and his students come to learn, God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control (2 Tim. 1:17).

          1. Brian Howell,

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you’re advocating for the deception of students at Wheaton College in order to enlighten them.

            Do you (and Dr. Cartagena) actually believe it’s okay to use deception as a pedagogical tool so that students attain enlightenment? So that they can become “destabilized”?

            Your comments prove my point. Indeed, in my opinion, your comments actually expose the rot hidden within Wheaton College. I believe that any professor who deceives his/her students in order to get his/her points across should find another profession.

            Since Dr. Cartagena appears to believe (based on his writings) that Christianity and CRT are not incompatible, why should he feel the need to hide CRT authors from his students? If the content resonates with students, it is likely they will say so regardless of who wrote the pieces.

          2. Brian Howell:

            One other point: What makes you claim students are afraid of reading CRT works? Because students may believe CRT does not support their Christian beliefs does NOT mean they are “scared of reading such works” (your words). The word “phobia” has often been overused by progressives to describe anyone who disagrees with their position.

            Perhaps viewing students with greater respect is in order, don’t you think? Particularly when you realize they are paying a great deal of money to attend a “Christian” institution.

            BTW:

            2 Timothy 1:17: “On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.” I think you were referring to 2 Timothy 1:7.

        3. Cynthia, that quote from Dr. Cartagena is a description of good teaching. Seems to me that he is teaching his students to think critically. And he demonstrates his own growth as a teacher when he describes that he used to tell them something was from a CRT source, but now he allows his students to form their own judgements first.

          1. Dr. Norbeck,

            In my Cultural Anthropology course, I use an article entitled Body Ritual of the Nacirema, by Horace Miner. Written in 1956, it’s a classic article that makes a point through satire. Nacirema is American spelled backwards. It’s an article that conceals the identity of Americans, portraying our typical routines of personal hygiene and health as exotic rituals and magical rites. Yes, I let students go along for a bit (some figure out the “trick” and we conspiratorially keep the secret) and then make the reveal part way through class. It’s actually a very effective pedagogical tool, and helps to make precisely the point the article is trying to make.

            I see Dr. Cartegena’s point similarly. Some folks (not all) are likely to prejudge something labeled “CRT” as “incompatible with Christianity” (as you say.) But just because something is not Christian does not mean it is without value. As I said, we still read pagans like Plato and gain wisdom, even though paganism is incompatible with Christianity. Nathan’s technique of (temporarily) hiding the identity of an author is, IMO, effective and helpful. If he were never correcting students’ views, or if he were saying CRT and Christianity are the same, that would be bad. But he doesn’t. Ever.

            I’m sorry you see Wheaton as containing “rot.” I am proud of the work we do here, and believe God is glorified in our Bible-centered, gospel-focused, yet certainly imperfect, efforts. May the Lord bless you. Please keep us in prayer.

          2. Dr. Norbeck,
            Students, particularly Christian students, often come to college with fears. Fears they won’t make friends. Fears their faith won’t hold up. Fear their faculty will undermine their faith. Those are all reasonable fears. But at Wheaton, the last one is not true, because all faculty here have given our professional lives to burnish and support our students’ faith. It is our own faith. But nevertheless they’ve heard stories about “liberals” who want to shake them. CRT is often, as several folks here have noted, the boogyman du jour. So, yes, some are afraid of reading things that they’ve been told are dangerous.

            Part of my mission (and I would say Dr. Cartagena as well) is to help students overcome their fears, place their confidence in the Lord, and walk boldly as His children into any area of inquiry with humility, curiosity, and confidence. You’re quite right; the “phobia” term has been overused and abused, and I don’t mean to be quite so dramatic here. But noting their fears is not borne of disrespect for my students. It is, rather, from 20+ years of experience, including with my own children, knowing the pressures, influences, and, yes, fears they often face in this world.

            My own hope is never that students leave class in lock step with me. My hope is that they leave more confident in God’s power to uphold them as they explore any and every idea humans have ever dreamed up. And, yes, you’re quite right: 2 Tim 1:17 was a typo. 2 Tim 1:7. That’s the one. Thank you. :-)

        4. “Doctor,”

          You do agree the the conservative church in America as late as the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s did need to “get woke” regarding racism,right?

          In other words, you admit that the conservative Christian church in America was systematically racist for hundreds of years, and needed to wake themselves out of their sin of racism.

          Right?

  2. In 1982 Wheaton named Dr. Chase president . Dr. Chase was under pressure as BIOLA’s president as he allowed the hiring of professors who taught Form, Source and Redaction Criticism. Dr. Chase would have been better suited going to a school such as University of Southern California.

  3. I’ve lived in Wheaton for 28 years and have come to believe some of these challenges as do other Christian leaders. I no longer recommend Wheaton as a first choice, but remain hopeful that these “wokeful” policies may be confessed and changed. It does remain in many lives possibly to still be recommended.

  4. Wheaton has a highly respected, award-winning ROTC program; it has mandatory chapel (at which students worship the Lord with fervor and gladness of heart); it’s largest major is Business, and it also offers degrees in Evangelism, in Outdoor and Adventure Leadership, and in Biblical Archaeology; every year the football team uses Spring Break to go on a short-term mission trip together; many students are in discipleship small groups; one could go on and on in this way.

    1. Tim:

      Nothing you said refutes the truth of my comments: Wheaton College is going the way of all Christian institutions that replace the gospel message with woke ideology. Recently, the name “Buswell” was removed from their library because of his LONG past sins, the ones Jesus forgave and Wheaton College brought back from the dead. By doing this, they quite literally and publicly spat on the gospel message.

      Satan always finds his way into places where the shepherds are sleeping.

      1. Considering that Wheaton was founded by abolitionists, and Buswell during his tenure as president refused to admit any black students, it would be a tad bit hypocritical to have his name for the library. Buswell suggested that black should go to their own schools. But then don’t the facts get into way of things. Buswell is forgiven, but does than mean he gets to keep whatever honors he was awarded. This no different than military medals being revoked as they were improperly awarded in the first place.

        1. Charles:

          Using your logic, Wheaton College will need to remove Blanchard’s name from Blanchard Hall.

          1. Nice try. Blanchard was was an abolilitionist. Buswell was born in 1895 long after slavery ended, and lived through the years of Jim Crow.

            There is no evidence of his repentence to those things. Try not to let the facts get in the way of your flawed argument.

        2. How is removing Buswell’s name from the library “spitting on the gospel?” You could argue that removing his name is spitting on his memory. But what does that have to do with the gospel?

          1. Sadly for many Evangelicals the term ‘gospel’ means a lot more than its very basic meaning that is the good news about what Christ accomplished on the cross for us and for his resurrection. It becomes a loaded term that encompasses a vast number of theological, ideological, moral and political ideas.

          2. Jane King:

            Kathleen Buswell, Dr. Buswell’s granddaughter, has answered your question most eloquently:

            “My family and I are grateful for Grandpa B’s legacy of faith, imperfect as it was. He was a godly man used by God to grow and strengthen Wheaton College and other Christian institutions. He fought for the Scriptures at a time when many basic tenets of the faith were being rejected, especially in universities and mainline denominations. He loved and served the Lord Jesus, to the end, in his family and the church throughout the world. When the leaders of Wheaton College canceled his name, they dishonored a sinful saint and denied God’s gracious blessing on their heritage of faith—and they taught a whole community of young people that it is good and right to do so.”

            https://wng.org/opinions/dont-deny-our-fallenness-1695352701

          3. There was over a year-long consultation process. The taskforce pro-actively reached out to the descendants of Dr Buswell. In response, 30 of his grandchildren and great grandchildren (11 of whom are Wheaton grads) wrote a long, public letter giving their reasons for declaring that “if a decision is made to rename the library, then none of us intends to object to that decision.” It would have been more helpful if Kathleen Buswell had also expressed her views during the deliberative process, rather than only after the decision was made.

      2. In the years I have lived in the town of Wheaton, a whole series of churches have changed their names: Wheaton Evangelical Free is now Compass, First Baptist is now High Point, etc. It would be quite unfair to say that by dropping the word “evangelical” Compass is spitting on the Gospel, etc. Billy Graham dropped a word very much associated with his ministry, “Crusade.” He did not do that to be “woke.” He did it so that a word that was not essential to the Gospel would not be a barrier between his ministry and the people God had called him to reach and serve.

          1. Again, even if you disagree with the decision, how is any of it “spitting on the gospel,” as you claim.

    2. “it has mandatory chapel (at which students worship the Lord with fervor and gladness of heart)”

      Requiring students to attend chapel, does not prove the students are worshiping at the level you are claiming. It only points to the fact that students are forced into attending chapel.

      1. Yes, of course, the one does not automatically follow from the other. I was reporting that this in fact the case having attending Wheaton College chapel in person innumerable times. Come join us for worship sometime and experience it for yourselves – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10:40. I have not watched the streaming / recorded version, but I suspect you can readily discern the love and zeal for the Lord the students have on it as well.

        1. Mr. Larsen,

          Thank you for the invitation, but I have had my fill of mandatory chapel, from 15 years attending private Christian schools. Otherwise, I might have taken you up on your offer.

          God bless,
          AT

  5. I remember that I was in Wheaton long time ago, as an Upward Bound Student from Chicago. I was part of the Project FAME Upward Bound Program from Chicago, and I spend some of my summers in Wheaton.

  6. Christian ministries, schools, colleges, charities and the like usually require signoff on a statement of faith/belief/practice from staff members. However, it’s not unusual for some number of staff to exercise “mental reservation” when they signoff. If all the signees were pressed on specific questions, different answers would likely be given. When asked if Jesus is the only way to God, nearly 70% of born-again Christians said “no”. Do you think that number is different for staff? The question about Jews/Christians/Muslims worshipping the same God is another way of asking the question. Asked a different way, are there other paths to heaven or eternal life or paradise besides faith in Jesus? For many it has turned into a real don’t ask, don’t tell. They’re afraid the brain and talent drain would decimate their ranks. For the record, https://www.christianpost.com/news/nearly-70-percent-of-born-again-christians-dont-see-jesus-as-only-way.html

    1. I can assure you there is no “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy at Wheaton. We have regular faculty review, teaching evaluations, committee review, administrative review, and trustee review. We affirm the Community Covenant every year. We have regular opportunities to study theology as faculty throughout our careers. Our theological development and consistence is serious, rigorous, and regular.

  7. Daniel:

    The Bible is crystal clear about the question you raise:

    John 14:6:

    “Jesus said: I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

    If faculty at Wheaton College no longer believe this, I would submit, as I did above, that Wheaton College has strayed very far from its Biblical moorings.

    1. To quote John 14:6 is to claim that Jesus is the only way to God. Where can you prove that many of the faculty at Wheaton no longer teach this? Teaching CRT is not evidence of this and to claim that it does is to engage is very creative if not faulty Biblical exegesis.

    2. Cynthia: you missed my point. I’m not part of the 70% who throw Jesus under the bus. Some cynically refer to John 14: 6; Acts 4:11, 12; and Philippians 2:9-11 as “One Way” theology and try to soften its tone. The ranks of Christian colleges, schools, ministries, charities and even missionaries are full of people who believe there is a Plan B. Yet they have signed off on belief statements saying otherwise. Sometimes they get exposed like former Professor Hawkins.

  8. Charles:

    “The college still sits on Native American land, literally grounded in native soil that American Indians continue to see as their homeland. Years later, Jonathan Blanchard would lament the American military’s poor treatment of Native Americans, but, like most white men of his time, Blanchard nonetheless thought removal was necessary and, in line with the federal government’s policy by the late 19th century, believed Native Americans needed to be “civilized,” which meant eliminating their native cultures. Many Native Americans today view this position as promoting cultural genocide.”

    Karen Johnson, Wheaton College Professor, 2018
    https://christianscholars.com/remembering-our-racial-past-using-institutional-lament-to-shape-affections/e

    Charles:

    Nice try. Using your logic, Wheaton College will need to remove Blanchard’s name from Blanchard Hall.

  9. So Fox news is saying Wheaton College is woke… what a joke..

    Is this the same Fox News that got hit with a 800 million dollar judgement because they settled to avoid exposing how the network promoted lies about the 2020 presidential election.

    I read the Fox article several times , what a poorly written piece. The guy is building a case on how certain words like “Service” is used…? Really?

    The real issue is that currently only 4% of Americans now hold to a biblical world-view. That means 80-90% of people attending a local evangelical church do NOT have a biblical worldview.

    My question, how can so many people who sit in a church pew for 10, 20 or 30 years not have a biblical worldview???

    Probably because they are listening all day to all the fake conspiracies coming from Fox news… and Franklin Graham…

  10. So yet again, the term “woke” is a blanket term applied to anything regarding race.
    Mentioning racism in a classroom = woke!
    Reading Black authors = woke!
    Honoring Black history month = woke!
    While Christians should be the FIRST to be woke according to the actual definition (which is, to be aware of injustice), it’s embarrassing we are the first to be upset about it, and misappropriating the term to anything we don’t like about race.
    It’s like crying wolf. I now no longer believe any accusations of anyone or anything being “woke.”

    1. You are absolutely right woke is used so ridiculously broadly that it has become almost meaningless. Or to put it another way, it’s the “boy who cried woke.” Enough already!

      1. How about neo Marxist. It is both new and old, and should satisfy your meaningfulness criterion, yes?

  11. Brian Howell,

    Your kind responses are duly noted and appreciated. As a Christian, I recognize the importance of approaching these difficult questions with grace. You have been more than gracious in your replies. Thank you.

    Unfortunately, you have not touched on the fundamental question raised in Scheiderer’s Op-ed: Is Wheaton College moving off course due to an infiltration of ideology that does not support Biblical truth? Is Wheaton College becoming a “woke” (apologies, Marin. I agree with you, but I haven’t got a replacement term yet) institution?

    All evidence points to the conclusion that, yes, Wheaton College has indeed drifted off course.
    Perhaps that is why it is losing financial support from long-time donors. Perhaps that is why many alumni (my husband and I included) are embarrassed to admit Wheaton College is our alma mater.

    My take on it at the moment is there seems to be a heavy infiltration of Liberation Theology with a dose of Social Gospel making the rounds on campus. Seeking and saving the lost has been replaced by handing out blankets and food. It has also been replaced by an emphasis on attaining campus diversity.

    What do you think? As an anthropologist, I imagine you have some good ideas.

    1. Dear Dr Norbeck – I am deeply encouraged by this cordial interaction with Dr Howell. I realize that you are probably speaking passionately rather than literally, but I hope you can see how unfair it is to say that _all_ of the evidence leads to that conclusion. Wheaton has been in the news in recent years because students successfully sued for the right to evangelize in Millennium Park. There is an organized group committed to evangelism which is very strong. I spoke to them on how to share Christ over Christmas break and, although, it was during final’s week when they would have a strong urge to be studying, the room was packed (with faculty members there as well as students). I know the faculty very well, and I do not know a single one who is committed to Liberation Theology. Our senior theologian is Daniel Treier. Read his new book, _Lord Jesus Christ_, Zondervan, 2023. Or look up our most recent hire, John Dickson, who has dedicated his career to commending the Gospel to skeptics and unbelievers. He has literally reached millions of people with his podcast.

      1. Dr. Larsen,

        Yes, you are correct. Not ALL of the evidence leads to the conclusion that Wheaton College is “woke” (so sorry, Marin. We need another term ASAP) , but I would suggest that it may not be long before it does. It’s good to know there are students who consider reaching the lost in this world more important than earthly values and it’s good to know Wheaton College is trying to hire professors who love and respect the Bible.

        Wheaton College must shine or its light will vanish. It cannot become more and more like the culture in which it finds itself. I think that is what many of us see happening, and it makes us very sad indeed.

        Thanks for your insights here. May God bless you and may God heal Wheaton College.

    2. Cynthia Norbeck, Thank you for your engagement and questions. I appreciate your spirit here.

      I understand why some perceive Wheaton has changed. I think there are many reasons having to do with political polarization, social media, generational gaps, language shifts, perceptions of the past, and more. It’s more complicated than I can get through in 300 words! :-)

      But as Dr. Larsen says so well, there is so much evidence that Wheaton is as on-mission as it has ever been! The gospel is preached. The Lord is worshipped. Our commitment to Christ and His Kingdom is unchanged since 1860.

      My small piece of evidence might be Missions in Focus next week. One of the key student leaders is an anthropology major, my student, who is pouring her heart and soul into bringing mission representatives and missionaries to campus to ignite a passion for mission in the student body. I’ve had many former students go into full time mission, living a radical faith throughout the world. Majors from the supposedly “liberal” major of anthropology!

      I’m sure you’ve seen many things that make you doubt all this. There have been articles written about me, personally, calling me “woke,” liberal, non-Christian. But in none of those cases did the authors ever reach out to me to ask about these things they saw on Facebook or the poster on which they saw my name. If they had, I could explain their misunderstanding of me and my work. I don’t always get it right, but I, and all my colleagues, are committed to Christ, and want *all* our students to graduate with a clearer, deeper, stronger connection to him and him only.

  12. I want to go on record saying I appreciate Brian Howell’s comments and his willingness to address concerns spoken here. I don’t pay much attention to Fox News and their bombastic click-bait commentaries. Colleges that want their students to have a well-rounded education must expose students to ideas out of their comfort zone.

    1. “Colleges that want their students to have a well-rounded education must expose students to ideas out of their comfort zone.”
      THIS. A lot of the fear and reaction I see from parents is that their children are coming home exposed to ideas they disagree with. (Example: While I agreed with parts of Bill Ackman’s grievance with Harvard, I noted that he said it started when he disagreed with what his daughter came home believing.) If you want your children to come home having only studied the things you like/approve of, how does that make you any better than the very institutions you claim are “brainwashing” your child?
      We should want our children to be well informed about what’s out there AND to be able to critically think so that they come to their OWN convictions about it. It’s ones own convictions that stick. Not “well my parents said we don’t agree with that.”

    2. DB,

      Agreed, as long as the ideas are presented fully, with all sides being represented, without exclusion of counter discussion/beliefs, and the data to backup each claim, or idea being taught.

      Not hand picked data that only provides one point of view. Much like a pastor that will hand pick the scripture that backs up their teaching, but ignores, or refuses to discuss opposing scripture that refutes what they are teaching.

  13. My name is Eric Paddon, class of 1991. My parents attended Wheaton, as did my brother, my sister, my uncle, my aunt and many cousins. My great-uncle was Dr. Merrill Tennedy, dean of the Graduate school for many years and an acclaimed Biblical scholar. I taught at Wheaton as a replacement instructor for one year and a second year as an adjunct. My ties to this school are deep. But Wheaton’s decision to embrace cancel culture in their recent report removing Dr. Buswell’s name left me with no choice but to sever my ties to this school as an Alumni member. It was the fact that in that same report, my great-uncle Dr. Tenney was made the scapegoat for the reason why a 1960 report on race relations was never adopted and was depicted as a racist with no regard for his decades of Christian service as a Biblical scholar that made it impossible for me to justify maintaining any connection to the school whatsoever.

    1. I would like to add this. Wheaton’s report was a collective slander on multiple generations of people who went there and taught there and who made a meaningful impact in the history of Evangelicalism whose failure was that they didn’t measure up to standards of Enlightenment that we would find lacking in most parts of our society in that era. There was no discovery of something horrific like say, holding secret KKK meetings, nor was there something sordid about say, sexual misconduct of a vile nature (indeed. I would note that if this latter standard regarding historical figures were ever given serious attention, there’d need to be a come to Jesus reckoning on the matter of one Martin Luther King, Jr, whose private life conduct was hardly in keeping with what an ordained minister of the Gospel is supposed to follow in his life). No, what we’ve simply discovered is that these people whose lives were otherwise quite exempelry, didn’t live up to standards imposed by a later generation who believe they are without sin and entitled to cast stones at them from their lofty position of hindsight, which is about as un-Biblical and yes, un-Christian an attitude as I can think of.

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