Wheaton College is currently mired in a controversy of its own creation, beginning termination proceedings against a professor who said Muslims and Christians believe in the same God, potentially violating the Bible-based school’s Statement of Faith.
While many critics have sided with Professor Larycia Hawkins, Religion News Service’s Trevin Wax says that Wheaton deserves a lot of credit, too. Because they’re standing by their faith, and that’s really, really hard to do in our culture:
What happens when we recognize that it takes a lot of courage today for an institution to challenge a culture that has no patience for enforcing doctrinal guidelines?
What if it’s Wheaton College that dares to push against a culture that resists religious standards of accountability?
What if it’s not the embattled professor, but the college that is being true to its convictions, even to the point of being mocked by outsiders or accused of sacrificing “academic freedom”?
Make no mistake. Wheaton College is the “rebel” when it comes to enforcing its doctrinal standard, especially considering our society’s distaste for dogma.
Whatever happens next, it’s clear that Hawkins has shown courage in sticking to her beliefs, even if it results in her firing. But Wheaton College has also shown courage in seeking to more clearly articulate its foundational principles, even if it results in cultural shame and mockery.
In other words, Wax wants us to respect a college for stubbornly clinging to bad doctrine — even if that means firing a professor whose only crime was to say two Abrahamic religions worship the same God while showing solidarity with an oppressed group.
Are we also supposed to admire Wheaton for mandating that professors accept a literal Adam and Eve (even though it renders the entire science department useless)?
Are we supposed to revere a school that still treats homosexuality as a sin?
Bob Jones University, another Christian college, had a ban on interracial dating until the year 2000. Are we supposed to applaud the fact that they stuck by their racist convictions in the name of Jesus?
Of course not. Sticking by your awful beliefs just because you’re Christian doesn’t mean you get a free pass to act however you want as long as you can find biblical justification for it.
Keep in mind that Wheaton’s decision to terminate Hawkins probably has as much (if not more) to do with appeasing their donors than anything Bible-related.
They don’t deserve our respect. They deserve our pity.
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