In a recent tangent here I contrasted the very different paths taken by Oberlin and Wheaton colleges after their 19th-century founding by evangelical abolitionists, suggesting that Wheaton remains evangelical largely because it has “sloughed off every trace of Blanchardism except for his belief in temperance.”
Well, I’m happy to learn that’s not entirely true — at least not for the evangelical school’s students (as opposed to its anti-contraception, anti-human-biology president). Jonathan Blanchard would’ve been very proud to see this piece from the Wheaton Record in which students Nathan Heath and Ciera Horton respond to the recent Trump/Yosemite Sam sermon preached by Jerry Falwell Jr. at Liberty University, “Why we, Wheaton College students, are condemning Jerry Falwell Jr.’s remarks on guns and Muslims.”
Liberty University’s Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. made public statements on Dec. 4 urging students to protect the campus against possible terrorist threats. In his remarks, he called for students to arm themselves so that they could “end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them,” exhorting the students to “teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”
While these sorts of remarks epitomize the ever-growing fear and hostility directed toward Muslims, we as evangelical Christians hold that Christ calls us not to react with religious oppression or violence — instead, we have the responsibility to live out fearless love in order to pursue unity.
… The scriptures invoke a call to fearless love. As 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” In our country and in the evangelical community, fear has become a driving motivator which has led to stigmatization, acts of aggression, and a push for public policy that targets and alienates the Muslim population.
… Because we believe that perfect love drives out fear, we hope for a world in which religious communities object to discrimination, combat religious animosity, and stand for justice.
… Right now, there are two roads that we as evangelical Christians can take. The first is that which prioritizes our own comfort and security, following the reactionary attitudes that stem from divisive fear. This leads to anger and hatred of our neighbor, and to the societal exclusion of those who are not exactly like us. The second road is the one where we actively reject the postures of discrimination and exclusion.
Well done. 1 Timothy 4:12 and all that.
Somewhere, Jonathan Blanchard is smiling.