Monthly Archives: February 2013

What a Privilege

by LTC Randy Carey (ret.)

Adam Smith asked, “What can be added to the happiness of a man who is healthy, who is out of debt, and who has a clear conscience?”

I can think of at least another thing: the privilege of coming alongside someone and encouraging him on his journey through life. This will be my last opportunity to do that at Wheaton College in my current capacity, as I begin my fourth and final year serving as the College’s professor of military science for Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps–or ROTC. However, my wife, Beth, and I look forward to another year of meeting more Wheaton College students, engaged couples, and ROTC cadets experiencing God in their own unique ways.

The opportunity to mentor someone is one of the greatest privileges we have. Although I am often discouraged by my own sinfulness and feelings of inadequacy, I am energized by those who have a hunger to grow in the ways of the Lord and are eager for someone to encourage them along the way.

I relish the opportunity to explain to a young man or woman who is considering serving his or her country that the military is desperately in need of godly leaders. Students often do not consider the military as a mission field, so I tell them the Army is in need of leaders who can share the gospel of grace with their fellow officers and soldiers all over the world.

Beth and I have made some lasting memories with students who have befriended us. We try to encourage them as they prepare for an uncertain future. And although we may think we know the right answer for some dilemma, instead of telling them directly, we try to guide them through the process, letting them figure it out.

As Beth and I have opened our home to students, we have found that regardless of what we feed them, they are quite content just to be in a family environment. I say it is Beth’s gourmet cooking they enjoy, but she says it’s because they just want a home–cooked meal.

We have been blessed through our facilitating the engaged couples’ seminar alongside Dean of Students Rich Powers and his wife, Jennifer. It is so gratifying to see young people work out their plans to make a lifelong commitment to a future mate. Another opportunity for mentoring has come during the gatherings of Women Who Make a Difference, a group that meets twice a semester and allows women of all generations to come together with women students for fellowship.

This Puritan prayer has helped to guide me for many years, and I pray it will be the heart–cry of my students:

Thou hast given Thyself for me,
may I give myseif to Thee;
Thou has died for me,
may I live to Thee,
in every moment of my time,
in every movement of my mind,
in every pulse of my heart.
May I never daily with the world and its allurements,
but walk by Thy side,
listen to Thy voice,
be clothed with Thy graces,
and adorned with Thy righteousness.


Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles, titled “On My Mind”, in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Former Professor of Military Science, Randy Carey (who taught at Wheaton since 1996-1999) was featured in the Autumn 1999 issue.

The following statement was included at the time of publication:

Lieutenant Colonel Randy Carey has been Wheaton’s professor of military science since 1996. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University in business administration, an M.B.A. from the Florida Institute of Technology, and an M.A. in theology from Wheaton. He was commissioned in the artillery in March 1978 and was assigned to Germany. His last assignment before coming to Wheaton was in the Pentagon, working for the Chief of Staff of the Army. LTC Carey also was an assistant professor of military science at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. He and his wife, Beth, have three sons: Ryan (12), Tyler (10), and Max (4).

John A. Huffman, Minister-at-large

Dr. John A. Huffman Jr., pastor and author, recently published his memoir, A Most Amazing Call, chronicling the ups, downs and byways of his extraordinary life. Born in Boston, he earned his undergraduate degree at Wheaton College, his graduate degrees from Princeton Seminary. While studying at Princeton, he served as an assistant under Norman Vincent Peale, pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. “My life ever since,” Huffman writes, “has been so much richer for the opportunity of knowing him as both a friend and a mentor.”

After serving other pastorates, Huffman was called in 1978 to assume leadership at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California. Exploring wide-ranging interests involving the Christian life, he has published nine books, including The Family You Want and Forgive Us Our Prayers. He has served on the boards of several influential evangelical organizations, including Christianity Today, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, World Vision and the National Association of Evangelicals.

Away from his pulpit, Huffman has served several sports chaplaincies, including the Miami Dolphins (1969-73), the visiting NFL teams (1973-78) and the PGA Senior Golf Tour (1973-78).

Huffman attended both Wheaton Academy and Wheaton College. Reflecting on his schooling he writes:

There were also great professors who opened to me new horizons intellectually, politically and spiritually; too many to list in this space. They helped me integrate the world of ideas with my Christian faith….In particular, I will be forever grateful to the chairman of my history department, Earl Cairns, who shaped my philosophy of history…And I was exposed to many outstanding chapel speakers such as Vernon Grounds, Leighton Ford, Richard C. Halvorson, Robert Boyd Munger, Bill Bright, Harold Ockenga, V. Raymond Edman, Hudson T. Armerding and Billy Graham — all whose friendship and counsel I have valued through the years.

Retiring from St. Andrews in 2009, he considers his life of service:

As I have now concluded my first 70 years, I move into a new era. My title is “honorably retired.” My 47-year call to local church ministry is now complete. From now on I will simply endeavor to do whatever the Lord lays on my heart as literally “minister-at-large.” What I hope to do with the rest of my life is to continue to lead men, women and children to a personal saving faith in Jesus Christ…

Huffman and his wife, Anne, have three daughters.

Cheap Doubt

On February 8, 2013, Clayton Keenon spoke in the Wheaton College Chapel on the subject of doubt. Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles, titled “On My Mind”, in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Clyde S. Kilby Chair Professor of English Alan Jacobs (who has taught at Wheaton since 1984) was featured in the Summer 1996 issue and also wrote on the same subject of doubt.


Several years ago I came across a comment by Frederick Buechner that has stuck in my mind: “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”

When I first read those words, I thought–how reassuring! Times of spiritual struggle are a lot easier to get through when you believe that God is working, not just despite them, but through them. And of course, I still believe that God is not only present, but present with special power in every kind of suffering, including the suffering that comes from doubt. The Apostle Paul tells us to “work out [our] salvation in fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), which suggests that the attainment of a living faith will be painful.

But I have come to reconsider Buechner’s words. If you were to ask me today what I think about his comment, I would say it all depends on what you mean by “doubt.”

Donald Bloesch has written a book called Faith and Its Counterfeits in which he describes substitutes for genuine Christian faith, for instance, legalism or formalism. Doubt too has its counterfeits–that is, surrogates that lack the integrity and the potential productivity of the real thing. Few spiritual temptations are more dangerous, and more insidiously attractive, than “cheap doubt.”

What is cheap doubt, and how does it differ from productive doubt? In my experiences as a teacher, talking to Christian students in and out of the classroom, I’ve seen both kinds, and I think that I’ve learned to distinguish them.

One day my class on seventeenth-century English literature was considering Sir Thomas Browne, who in his book Religio Medici (“The Faith of a Physician”) considers how doubts may be overcome. Browne’s ideas are strange, but they created an interesting discussion. After a few people had commented, one student raised his hand and asked, “Why would we want to overcome our doubts? If you’re doubting, then you’re thinking; if you’re not doubting, then you’re probably dead, spiritually and intellectually. Surely that’s not what God wants us to be.” At once I remembered Buechner’s words, and I was quick to acknowledge the value of this comment. But I was also a bit bothered, though only later did I figure out why: it was the implication (probably unintentional) that it is appropriate to remain in a state of doubt.

That doubt can be productive doesn’t make it desirable in itself. Doubt can only be useful if we contend against it. Real doubt hurts. Yes, it can spur us to prayer and study of the Scriptures. But there is also a cheap doubt that tends to bring a certain pleasure to its possessor–the pleasure of self-satisfaction, of confident spiritual superiority.

It’s easy to see how tempting this can be. If we see another Christian praying with an intensity and concentration that we cannot match, isn’t there some comfort in believing that she can be so earnest because she has never seriously considered the logical conundrums posed by petitionary prayer to a sovereign God? We doubt, we tell ourselves, because we have thought through these problems, these theological puzzles, and she hasn’t. But if our thinking about these matters leads us to pass confident judgment on the spiritual and intellectual condition of our fellow Christians, we are in real danger.

And even if that earnest prayer warrior is intellectually lazy, it’s not clear that intellectual arrogance is a superior condition, In fact, the doubts in which we take pride may themselves result from laziness–an unwillingness to confront doubts with reflection, Bible study, and prayer. The person who accepts doubts without challenge may be just as lazy as the person who pushes them aside without consideration.

Real doubt will indeed, as Buechner says, keep our faith alive, by forcing us to confront our own frailty. When we cannot, by our own power, silence the inner questioner, then we may be reminded to seek God’s will and to trust in his strength and grace. But if we come to accept our state of doubt, we may be cutting ourselves off from God’s sufficiency.

A Christian liberal arts education does not shy away from tough questions and complex issues; it will therefore always tend to produce doubts. But that makes it all the more imperative that we teachers emphasize also the importance of overcoming doubt and growing in faith. We need to remember the tone of frustration in Jesus’ voice when he tells his disciples of the great things they could do if they had a mustard seed’s portion of faith. We need to remember his astonished joy when the Roman centurion tells him, “You need only say the word and my servant will be cured. Nowhere in Israel have I found such faith” (Mt. 8:8,10). Doubt is part of the road; but it’s not our destination.


The following statement was included at the time of publication:

Dr. Alan Jacobs, Associate Professor of English, is a staunch, true Southerner, having received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and his B A. from the University of Alabama. He has authored numerous essays and articles for academic and literary journals and magazines, including The American Scholar and First Things. Widely read and listened to, Dr. Jacobs is also a frequent contributor to Mars Hill, an audio cassette literary journal. Currently, he is completing a book on tile poet W. H. Auden, His interests and abilities are diverse, ranging from those of a well-informed scholar, to those of an aspiring basketball star, to those of a restaurant connoisseur. He and his wife, Teri, have one son, Wesley, age 4.