I have intentionally not commented on the uproar currently swirling around Wheaton College. Probably most of you are at least vaguely aware of the heart-wrenching controversy that has been unfolding since Wheaton faculty member Dr. Larycia Hawkins made statements interpreted by some as effectively equating Christianity and Islam.
My purpose now is not to defend either Dr. Hawkins or the Wheaton College administration. Frankly, I don’t think I know nearly enough to speak confidently about the matter (and I am mystified by the cacophony of voices from across the country who claim to know exactly what’s going on and why).
What I do know is that I love Wheaton College, and I grieve for both Dr. Hawkins and for our president and provost, all of whom have been subjected to vicious abuse online and in print. The faculty met this morning to pray that God would bring a glorious resolution to this crisis, and I would love for you to join with us. We are fallen individuals laboring in a fallen institution and acutely aware of our need for God’s wisdom and grace.
In closing, let me recommend a recent piece by Bethel University’s Chris Gehrz who tries to think about the controversy in a broad historical context. Even more than Professor Gehrz’s thoughtful assessment, I was impressed by his even-handedness and touched by his closing exhortation. “Please try to show grace and empathy towards fellow evangelicals,” Gehrz urges.
. . . While I continue to think that Hawkins is being treated unfairly and unwisely by at least some of Wheaton’s administrators, I want to trust that what they’ve done is motivated not by anti-Muslim bigotry but by their commitment to take theology seriously, understanding that what we believe has implications for what we do.
Conversely, I hope that those who fervently support Wheaton in this matter are willing to entertain the possibility that Hawkins is being entirely truthful when she describes herself as an evangelical and professes her continuing affection for Wheaton and her commitment to the project of Christian higher ed. (As are those of us who support her.)
Grace and peace to you all.