Monthly Archives: May 2011

On My Mind – Gerald Hawthorne

Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Professor of Greek Emeritus Gerald Hawthorne (who taught at Wheaton from 1953-1995) was featured in the June/July 1991 issue.

Gerald Hawthorne1951. Years ago, now. More than half the span of my life ago, to be exact. Certainly a very long time for one single idea to have been on my mind. But that is the case, nonetheless.

In the fall of 1951 a seed-thought dropped into the furrows of my mind. It germinated quickly, and sprouted somewhat prematurely in the form of my master’s thesis, “The Significance of the Holy Spirit in the Life of Christ,” submitted in 1954.

But my interest in this topic did not end when I handed my thesis over to the librarian, nor did it diminish with the passing of the years. Quite the contrary, its sturdy roots burrowed deep within my thinking; so that while I was busy doing other things, it was always there, taking shape as the years passed. My spare time for reading was taken up with books that focused on this topic. When I was not thinking about more immediate, more pressing matters, my mind turned without prompting to concentrate on this idea, striving to understand ever more fully why it was that the Spirit of God played such an important role in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

The idea that has now come to full term, was at first frightening to me, and then exhilarating. Frightening, because it seemed foreign and “unorthodox.” Even the teaching of my church seemed to so emphasize the divinity of Jesus that it was difficult for me to think of him as genuinely human. Exhilarating, because I discovered a new understanding of and appreciation for the person of our Lord, as well as an ever-deepening gratitude to him. The New Testament writers, while never surrendering the truth of the divinity of Jesus, nevertheless championed the reality of his humanity. Thus, whatever else one may say about Jesus (that he was divine, the eternal Son, God incarnate), it is also necessary for that person to say that Jesus was a human being in the fullest sense of this term, lacking nothing that makes a person human, with the exception of sin.

But how can this be? How can one he God and human simultaneously–fully God and fully human? The answer I have been driven to by the force of the New Testament evidence is this: without giving up any attribute of divinity, the eternal Son, before time began, in obedience to the Father, made a conscious decision to completely “encapsulate” his divinity within the confines of humanity. With his birth in Bethlehem, he began life precisely as any other human being begins life.

I now see that–although Jesus was indeed unique, extraordinary, God become human–in the incarnation he did not know what he knew, think what he thought, teach what he taught, say what he said, or do what he did by virtue of his own inherent divinity. Rather, he did so as a genuine human being, one filled unstintingly with and empowered by the Holy Spirit to think and speak and act as he did. The Spirit, the wonderful gift of the Father, was at work in every phase of the life of Jesus–creating his body from the substance of Mary, giving him gifts and graces that protected him and provided for him in the years of his boyhood and youth, enlightening his mind so that he might understand his unique relationship with the Father and his special mission in life, filling him at his baptism, leading him into the arena of conflict with the devil and assisting him in overcoming that adversary, guiding him throughout his life, enabling him to preach and teach with authority, infusing him with the power to do his mighty works, strengthening him to face and accept his own mortality, being powerfully present with him in his death, and working mightily in raising him from the dead.

Now if this is so, then Jesus is not only our Savior, our Lord to be worshiped and adored; he is also our example to be followed. The penultimate (if not the ultimate) significance of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus was to demonstrate clearly what God is able to do through a human being wholly yielded to his Spirit. The Spirit that Jesus depended on throughout his entire life to enable him to burst the boundaries of his human limitations, the Spirit that helped Jesus to overcome temptations, that strengthened him in weakness, that aided him in the hard job of taking on himself the hurts of the hurting, that infused him with a power to accomplish the impossible, that brought him through death and into resurrected life, is the very same Spirit that Jesus now freely shares with those who in faith and love choose to follow him today (John 20:22; Acts 1:8; Rom. 8:9-11).

This idea has revolutionized my too-limited way of thinking about Jesus. It has also been a life-changing idea, showing me that the Holy Spirit is present and active today, not to make life rich and comfortable for me, hut to equip me so that I might fulfill God’s mission for me in the world–a mission of helping, serving, healing, restoring, giving, and loving. A mission of binding up the broken, of being just and striving for justice, of proclaiming the good news that God is King, and that he has acted to save and transform people in and through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.


Dr. Gerald F. Hawthorne was a professor of Greek at Wheaton College for 42 years. Having received his bachelor’s degree in Greek and his master’s degree in theology from Wheaton, he earned his doctorate from the Department of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the University of Chicago in 1969. He and his wife Jane Elliot Hawthorne ’53 have three children, all of whom are Wheaton graduates. He is the author of or contributor to several books, including Philippians, in the Word Biblical Commentary Series; Current Issues in Biblical and Patristic Interpretation: Studies in Honor of Merrill C. Tenney; and The Presence and the Power: The Significance of the Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus (Word, 1991). Gerald Hawthorne died on August 4, 2010.

Judgment Day

Evidence from Scripture / William MillerIt is said that tomorrow, May 21, 2011 is Judgment Day. Billboards around America have declared that the end is near and that Christ will return. Over the course of the subsequent five months the earth will be destroyed. In the history of American religion this is not a new tale or theology. It has been here before, even for the contemporary prognosticator (who once before predicted the end to happen in September 1994).

In the middle of the nineteenth-century William Miller also believed that the return of Christ would occur. He announced that through his study of the bible he determined that the Second Coming of Christ would occur “about the year 1843″ — give or take a year or two. He eventually stated more clearly that “Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, cleanse, purify, and take possession of the same, with all the saints, sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844.”

A farmer, Miller was also a lay leader in the Baptist church in New York, near what was known as the “burned-over” district that produced other religious movements like Mormonism. Miller began publicly announcing his views in the early 1830s. He published “Evidence from Scripture and history of the second coming of Christ about the year 1843 : exhibited in a course of lectures” and by the early 1840s it began to gain national attention as others took hold of his ideas and publicized them. One such figure was Joshua Vaughan Himes, pastor of Chardon Street Chapel in Boston, who published a newspaper, Signs of the Times. “Millerite” papers began to spring up around the country in cities like New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland. In the early months of 1843 over a half million publications had been printed and distributed.

Miller’s day passed with great disappointment. It is quite likely that on May 22, 2011 the sun will rise as it had the day before reinforcing that no one knows the day or the hour, except the Father.

“God’s Own Party” published from work in the Special Collections

Daniel WilliamsThough many may see the rise of the Religious Right and the engagement of evangelicals in the political sphere as a recent happening, Daniel Williams’ assiduously-researched book, God’s Own Party: the making of the Christian Right, published by Oxford University Press, reveals that its roots go back to the 1920s and 1930s. Williams, assistant professor of history at the University of West Georgia, tells the story of how fundamentalists and evangelicals moved into positions of political power and influence as soul-winning was replaced with social-crusading. Though rooted in the early decades of the twentieth century in a fight against communism a decisive shift occurred mid-century and following as groups like the God's Own PartyNational Association of Evangelicals (whose records were used for this book) and individuals like Billy Graham grew in popularity and influence. By the 1960s Graham was becoming known as the President’s pastor and took on celebrity status. This popularity became a tool for shrewd politicians. By the 1970s litmus-test issues emerged as social controveries abounded like the Equal Rights Amendment, Roe v. Wade, Birth Control and homosexuality. In more recent years, as Williams’ research shows, younger evangelicals expressed concern for environmental and social-justice issues. Williams’ book serves as an essential resource for understanding the current and historical relationship between American evangelical religion and politics.

What Wheaton College Did for Me: Raymond H. Crawford

Raymond H. CrawfordThis installment of “What Wheaton College Did for Me” by Raymond H. Crawford ’40 appeared in the June, 1966, Wheaton Alumni magazine. He was pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Netcong, NJ, and edited a weekly newspaper.

Naturally I want to say it all; obviously I cannot. Some day I may. The long and remarkable shadow of Wheaton College on my life is delineated by an all-embracing phrase, “the constraining love of Christ.” This held me, molded me, directed and disciplined me during the formative years as well as these fabulous years of living “For Christ and His Kingdom.” It all started in Grand Central Station, New York, back in the fall of 1935. Orphaned as a small child, I was a veteran at making decisions; here I made a decision that altered the course of my life. I wanted to go to Ft. Worth but was advised to go to Wheaton. At the ticket window I was still undecided and heard myself saying, “Chicago.” The ride out was a torment of indecision. Somehow, but not triumphantly, I arrived at Wheaton.

That night I stayed with Clarence Hale’s father. And that night I discovered Christian love and concern which, for me, has always expressed the spirit of Wheaton College. My fears were dispelled and my indecision checked. Suddenly I “belonged,” and this extended to the whole Wheaton family. I wanted to be a journalist; God wanted me to be a minister. He used John Ballbach the following February to lead me to Christ. Scores of others nourished this new Christian. Among them were Dr. and Mrs. Tiffany, Mother Winsor and Alice Winsor, Dr. Darien Straw and Dr. Marion Downey. Among the students were Bob Evans, Warren Schuh, Carl F.H. Henry, Dick Seume and many more. Perhaps more than any other Dr. Edman, as pastor of the Gospel Tabernacle and later President of the College, “restored to me the years that the locust has eaten.”

As the final act of love and dedication of Wheaton’s family, Dr. Edman tied the knot with a lovely co-ed on her graduation day. He also provided my wedding suit and shoes! To the question, “How can I ever repay all these Christian tangibles and intangibles?” the answer came, “Pass it on.” I found at Wheaton a seriousness of purpose, dedicated scholarship, ethics and ideals I hardly knew existed. My teachers stimulated me and drilled me in the mental and spiritual disciplines that have followed me through the years. At Wheaton I learned to study. But I learned something more; the quality of heart that gives meaning to our message in a day of false values. After 23 years in one church, 40 miles west of Grand Central Station, we find it necessary to build a new one. In all, five of our church family have gone to Wheaton. My son is a Wheaton grad, married a Wheaton girl and is a minister in Canada. My daughter attended Wheaton and Nyack and is married to a minister serving in West Virginia. That yen for journalism has found a rich place in my ministry. For 15 years – on and off – I have edited the area weekly News-Leader, whenever one of our boys took off for new pastures. This has proved an amazing adjunct to our work. “Friend Wife” teaches in the local high school.

I didn’t know much about God’s leading in 1935, but there are no doubts in 1966. Can you wonder why I have a misty affection for that drafty sanctuary in New York where God spoke and Wheaton answered?

On My Mind – Bruce Howard

Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Professor of Business and Economics Bruce Howard was featured in the Summer 1993 issue.

Depending on who you listen to, the U.S. economy is poised for recovery, recession, significant expansion, or disaster. No one really knows what the economic future will hold, but what we do know is that definite economic challenges face our society today.

One challenge is in the area of productivity. Productivity gains enable a society to increase its standard of living. In 1990, U.S. workers produced, on average, $46,000 worth of goods and services per worker, 25% more than the average Japanese worker and 35% more than the average German worker.

Our growth in productivity, however, has slowed considerably. Over the 35 years from 1937 to 1973, productivity increased by an average of 3% each year. But during the 15-year period from 1973 to 1989, productivity only increased, on average, by .9% a year.

One little-known factor that explains this slowdown in productivity growth is the literacy of our work force. Many estimates show that one in five American adults is functionally illiterate. At least 40 developed nations today have higher functional literacy rates than the United States.

To be illiterate is to be economically disenfranchised. Consider the following: in the decade of the 1980s, college graduates experienced a 16% increase in their real wages. High school graduates saw their real wages fall by 1% and high school dropouts experienced a 12% decline in their real wages. In 1980, a college graduate 10 years into his career was earning 31% more than a contemporary with only a high school diploma. But by 1990, that differential had soared to 86%. This disparity in income is reflected in income taxes. In 1991, Americans with incomes that put them in the highest 5% paid 44.2% of federal income taxes. The top 20% by income paid 72.3% of the federal income tax. The lower 40% by income paid only 1.7% of the federal income tax, mainly because they are generating so little personal income.

We are moving from a manufacturing economy to a “mental” economy. Most of the value that is added to products today is the result of people using their intellect rather than their craftsmanship. Decades ago, people began leaving the farms and moving to factories because that was where the high-paying, value creating jobs were. We had become so good at farming that we just didn’t need as many people to produce all the food we needed.

I was recently in a factory where I watched men and women take plastic caps out of a box and place them on a conveyor belt. They performed this task eight hours a day for a wage of $17.00 an hour. Ten feet away, a million-dollar robot intricately wove and soldered hair-thin wires into a computer for electronic ignitions. What will the future hold for these men and women in a free-trading global economy where billions of others would gladly do the same job for a fraction of their $17.00 wage?

To cope with the changing economic horizon, we need to recognize and deal with the challenge of economically empowering the people in our society so they can participate in the value-creating activities of the next century. One tangible thing that we can do is help people learn to read and develop other basic skills so that they can be full participants in the economy.

Societies today need to focus on the economics of change. In 1960, 25% of the people in France lived or worked on a farm. Today, that number has decreased to less than 6% and continues to fall, Think as well of the enormous changes in the political economies around the world. As people in the world today try to cope with the pace and scope of change, they search for something that is stable, trustworthy, and utterly dependable.

What an opportunity for the Gospel! Christianity offers the glue that can keep a life and world from falling apart. The hope of Christians is based on that which is eternal and unchanging. It is a message for our time; it is a message for all time.

Bruce Howard is Professor of Business and Economics. Prior to joining Wheaton’s faculty in 1980, he was senior auditor for the Northern Trust Company in Chicago. He received his B.A. from Wheaton and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University. Dr. Howard’s current research explores the impact of interest rates on consumer behavior with respect to the use of debt to fund purchases of consumer durables and housing. He has an interest on the impact of taxation at the state and local level. For the last several years he has been studying the historical underpinnings of societal values as they relate to ordering of economic activity. In conjunction with his teaching career, Dr. Howard maintains an active professional association with Tyndale House Publishers in matters of accounting, taxation and employee benefits. He also has work experience in health care administration and banking. In recent years, Dr. Howard has traveled to Kazakhstan to teach and present papers at Kazak-American Free University and University of Kazakhstan.

“Hearts Beating for Liberty” helps tell the story of Mary Blanchard

Mary Avery Bent BlanchardThe influence and story of Mary Bent Blanchard’s life is, unfortunately, left largely untold. However, Stacey Robertson’s recent book “Hearts Beating for Liberty: women abolitionists in the Old Northwest” helps place Mary’s life into context with other activist women of her day. Robertson’s book challenges many of the traditional histories of abolition that often portray the story of the work to abolish slavery as a solely Eastern cause. She shifts the focus to region known then as the Northwest and shows how the women of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin helped build a vibrant antislavery movement. Hearts Beating for LibertyOther writers have sought to do the same for the history of the Underground Railroad. Robertson, Oglesby Professor of American Heritage at Bradley University, argues that the Old Northwest had a complicated history of slavery and racism, but its abolitionist citizens created a uniquely collaborative and flexible approach to abolitionism. These “western” women helped build a local focus through unusual activities that crossed the boundaries of cultural propriety as they plunged into Liberty Party politics, boycotts of goods from slave-states and illegally helped fugitives. The work of these women was done right alongside male co-believers, unlike their Eastern counterparts. Robertson tells the pragmatic work of female antislavery societies as they sought to eliminate racist laws, aid fugitive slaves, and build schools for blacks. These women exemplified the capacity to work together to accomplish significant goals.