By Keith Call | March 25, 2013
Evidently, no one asked Malcolm Muggeridge what he would do were he suddenly elevated to the papal throne; nonetheless, the indomitable journalist, not even Catholic at the time, offers his fantasies on the prospect. “If I Were Pope…” appeared in The National Review, June 9, 1978, the so-called “year of three popes,” during which Pope Paul VI died, Pope John Paul I was elected and reigned for one month before dying, and Pope John Paul II was elected to an influential 27-year papacy. As Pope Francis begins his pontificate after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, perhaps it is appropriate to revive Muggeridge’s conservative ruminations on a few ecclesiastical matters.
Summarizing his points:
1) Locating a private, quiet retreat, perhaps Castel Gondolfo, Pope Malcolm would “…meditate upon the Church’s extraordinary survival through the twenty centuries of Christendom despite every sort of abomination committed by, or under the auspices of, my predecessors…”
2) Considering the ramifications of Vatican II, he would “…meditate upon the Church’s present circumstances, so full of confusion, strife and lunacy following Pope John’s Vatican Council and the amazing decision resulting therefrom to have another Reformation, just when the former one – Luther’s – seemed finally to have run into the sand.”
3) Not embracing complete isolation, he would “…have Mother Teresa and some of her Sisters of Charity with me at my retreat, her cooperation having been a precondition of my accepting the pontifical appointment in the first place…Her extraordinary influence and clarification are conveyed, not so much by words or exhortation, as by the love she radiates, shining out from her visibly, like light.”
4) Leaving the serenity of his retreat to address a troubled society, he would “…reissue Humanae Vitae in a greatly simplified form, reinforcing its essential point than any form of artificial contraception is inimical to the Christian life.”
5) Next, “…I should suspend the prohibition of the Tridentine Mass and the traditional Latin liturgy, which would henceforth be permissible whenever and wherever there was an appreciable demand for it. The disco-style vernacular worship, with its sadly banal words, which has come to take the place of the traditional liturgy would be allowed to go on, but I should secretly hope that, as fashions changed, it might wither away.”
6) Muggeridge would tighten the noose in other ways, as well. “Imagining myself sitting in the Vatican, or strolling up and down the Vatican garden, I feel sure I should be assailed by the temptation to do a bit of excommunication and anathema on my own account as and when the opportunity presented itself. Freedom-fighting prelates, liberated nuns, Marxist-dialoguing Jesuits, and other such ribald clerical phenomena of our time, along with the accompanying literature, would be, for me, tempting targets.”
7) Thus empowered, he would also “….prepare the way for an underground Church to go on functioning when the open one has been either forcibly disbanded, or so corrupted and disoriented from within that it can no longer fulfill its traditional role…What I have in mind would be a Christian maquis or clandestine Catacombs Order, whose superior and members would be chosen with the utmost care for their abiding faith, mystical insight and love for the Church and its orthodoxy.”
“That would be a papacy indeed!” he concludes. “Perhaps – who can tell? – some unexpected papabile is even now being divinely groomed to take it on.”
Muggeridge joined the Catholic Church in 1982. He died in 1990. His papers (SC-04), comprising manuscripts, correspondence, videos and memorabilia, are archived at Wheaton College Special Collections in Wheaton, IL.
By David Osielski | March 20, 2013
Our Lord has poured out his love in a dramatic way.
Throughout the history of Wheaton College, God has chosen to he present and active in this place. There have been times of spiritual awakening, and during the week of March 19-24, we received another special visitation of God.
It would be incorrect to say that it all began at 7:30 P.M. on Sunday, March 19, in Pierce Chapel at the weekly meeting of the World Christian Fellowship. There had been a significant stirring of the Spirit in the lives of individuals and in groups on campus several weeks before that, throughout the semester, and well before that.
But something unique and important happened on that Sunday evening when James Hahn and Brandi Maguire, students from Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, described a recent “revival” on their campus. Following their presentation, the microphones were open for students to share their burdens and confess their sins.
Confessions were heard throughout the night. There were tears and there were smiles. There was crying and there was singing. People confessed their sins to God and to each other, and there was healing. It was biblical. It was Christian, It was orderly. It was sincere. It honored out Lord. Finally, at 6:00 A.M., we adjourned the meeting, with students still in line who had waited hours to speak.
We reconvened on Monday in Pierce Chapel with about 900 students and adjourned at 2:00 A.M. with 400 students listening to the last confession. Still, many were unable to reach the microphone. Tuesday’s meeting was held at the College Church, a larger facility which accommodated the 1,350 people who arrived at 9:30 P.M. Because lines still remained at the microphones at 2:00 AM., another meeting was set for 9:30 P.M. on Wednesday.
That night a capacity crowd of about 1,500 assembled. The program included worship and testimony along with some specific instruction and direction concerning the biblical method of dealing with temptation and sin. The group was addressed by President Duane Litfin, and Professors Lyle Dorsett and Tim Beougher. The confessional stage of the week’s meetings ended at 2:00 A.M.
The final plenary session was held on Thursday evening at 9:30 P.M. at the College Church, the largest assembly of the week with many faculty, staff, and members of the community attending. The theme of the evening was praise and testimony. It was a dynamic celebration.
The challenge was issued to move on to new levels of commitment to loving and serving God. The closing moments included an invitation for people who were sensing the call of God to Christian ministry to come forward for a prayer of dedication. Many knelt at the front of the sanctuary to commit themselves to bringing the gospel to the world.
Is this something that has been humanly contrived or manufactured? The personal sharing within the body of Christ here at Wheaton College has been spiritually sensitive and biblically grounded. The depth and breadth of the confession, repentance, and reconciliation point to a divine initiative. Every factor seems to confirm that we are experiencing an authentic work of the Sovereign Lord.
As President Litfin has said, “God has prompted a wonderful surge of conviction and confession sin, genuine repentance and forgiveness, and the restoration of broken hearts and relationships.
“Our challenge now is to see the results of this renewal tilled into the soil of our lives. Our desire is to move from this mountain top to a new plateau of obedience and fellowship with the Lord, and renewed relationships with one another.”
We trust that this incredible movement of God’s Spirit will continue on our campus and beyond. We believe that what we have seen here at Wheaton is only a small piece of what God is doing worldwide.
By David Osielski | March 18, 2013
by Dr. Zondra Lindblade ’55
The great blue heron is perfectly camouflaged against the lakeshore pines. The green caterpillar is protectively colored on the begonia leaf. Camouflaged treasures are everywhere, but experienced northwoods eyes see beyond the pines and begonias to recognize the disguised.
In many ways, a “sociological imagination” resembles northwoods eyes and wilderness expediency. The imagination first examines obvious features of how we live together in families, corporations, and in society, and then probes beneath the surface to “see” camouflaged functions and meanings. What is camouflaged often surprises and sometimes contradicts conventional wisdom.
The sociological imagination is a filter, a directional lens that focuses on the obvious and hidden human experiences. Once awakened to the reality of groups being more than the sum of individual parts, the filter questions and educates the illusive realities that question “what everyone knows.”
For some time the issues of social welfare reform have occupied our “imagination.” These stimuli have opened my eyes and heart to a particular phrase in Micah 6:8.The call to “do justice” in this verse is resounding for sociologists who study cause and effect of social stratification, stigmatized education, or inner-city miseries. These are vacuous academic activities if there is no heart cry for justice. God’s command in Micah 6 to do justice is daunting.
In the next phrase, God requires believers to actually love mercy. A desire for justice may overlook and camouflage God’s compelling love for mercy. Mercy is assistance given to those who do not deserve help–or who think they do not. Mercy is a reflection of God’s character (Ps. 69:16) and part of His plan for repentance (Rom. 2:4).
What does it mean–to love mercy? Discussions of welfare reform usually ignore the priority God places on mercy. Do we consider mercy nalve, ill-informed, and shortsighted because mercy is offered before merit? Mercy does not consider independent responsibility as a first–order priority. Do we focus on eradicating dependency and setting the welfare mother on is both fulfilling to her and good for society? Are we occupied with making sure that sinful choices bring hard consequences? Are we slow to persevere when lessons experienced are not learned, when positive change is one step forward followed by four steps back?
Mercy may well invoke a “reckless advocacy” for the marginalized and undeserving. Mercy might offer help with no questions asked or answers expected. The example of the Savior is strong and convincing. He is a reckless advocate who “while we were yet sinners died for us.”
In my 34 years of teaching, occasionally there have been undeserving Wheaton students who have requested academic mercy from me. I have found that the students who received that mercy remember this help with greater appreciation than most of the assignments diligently pursued. And mercy remembered is often mercy later given.
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 Sociology Emerita, Zondra Gale Lindblade Swanson ’55 (who taught at Wheaton from 1964-1998) was featured in the Autumn 1998 issue. Dr. Lindblade was former department chair and retired in May 1998 after serving the College for more than 34 years.
By Keith Call | March 8, 2013
Dr. Charles Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the United States, died on February 25, 2013, at age 96. Sporting a crisp, double-breasted military uniform, Amish beard and stern aspect, he was an instantly recognizable father-figure during the 1980s, his expert eye continually examining the health trends of the nation. President Ronald Reagan, recognizing Koop’s extraordinary accomplishments in the field of pediatric medicine, appointed him as Surgeon General in 1982. Koop was affiliated with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
An outspoken Christian, Koop relates the circumstances of his 1948 conversion under the ministry of Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia:
The next Sunday…I finished grand rounds early, and found my feet taking me to Tenth Presbyterian Church, just a few blocks north of the hospital. I entered a back door and quietly slipped up to the balcony. I was just going to observe. I liked what I saw, and I was fascinated by what I heard….I heard teaching from one of the most learned men I ever knew, a true scholar who also possessed a gift of illustrating the complexity – and simplicity – of Christian doctrine by remarkable and incisive stories and similes….I understood that we are all sinners, unable to satisfy God’s standard of righteousness and justice, no matter how hard we try….The preaching from the pulpit made it all clear: that the essence of Christianity was not what we did, but what Christ had done for us. I understood the meaning of the crucifixion, I understood the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice, I understood the meaning of divine forgiveness…Most of all, I understood the love of God….This spiritual awakening had a profound effect on my life and influenced everything that happened thereafter.
Interestingly, Tenth Presbyterian was later pastored by Dr. Philip Ryken, who resigned from its pulpit in 2010 to assume the presidency of Wheaton College, an institution with which Koop enjoyed friendly relations.
As a prominent evangelical engaged in societal issues, Koop, staunchly pro-life, was invited to deliver the address for the 1973 Wheaton College Commencement, during which his daughter, Betsy, graduated. He warned his audience about the disastrous consequences of Roe vs. Wade, predicting that laws will be ridiculous. Soon, he said, teens requiring permission for ear piercing would not need permission for abortions, which will become increasingly common. Also, this legislation will accelerate moral laxity; of course, unknown at the time, it paved the way for the onslaught of AIDS in the 1980s.
Returning to Edman Chapel at Wheaton College for a public forum in 1990, Koop spoke on “Ethical Issues Arising from the AIDS Epidemic.” Discussing challenges and opportunities, he asked, “What better evangelical target than the sick, the homeless, the abandoned and the despised?” As always, he advocated abstinence and monogamy. Throughout the 1990s Koop occasionally appeared on the Wheaton campus, usually in conjunction with events sponsored by the Center for Applied Christian Ethics (CACE).
During a 1989 interview, Christianity Today asked Koop about his famous beard. He replied: “…I grew the beard as a lark when I went with my son Norman to Israel for two weeks. The night before we came home he shaved off his beard and kept his moustache; I shaved off my moustache and kept my beard. We did it just to shock our families. A few days later, when I looked at a picture of myself taken…before I started growing a beard, I realized I had three chins! And I didn’t have them with a beard.”
In 2002 he visited campus for “An Evening with C. Everett Koop,” conducted by Wendy Murray Zoba, heard here.
The papers of Dr. C. Everett Koop (SC-58), comprising manuscripts and correspondence, are housed at Wheaton College Special Collections, available to researchers.
By David Osielski | March 6, 2013
What earlier generations considered a noble evangelical endeavor–the integration of faith and learning–now easily deteriorates into an academic cliche that obscures essentials of the Christian view. Faith becomes a rubber word. It accommodates so many options that it readily invites the notion of faith in faith. It can embrace faith in Allah, faith in Buddha, or even faith in New Age, no less faith in Christ.
For some of its champions, integration need not involve an indispensably unique cognitive content but rather only an openness to reality that escapes rational exposition of the self- revealing God of the Bible. The emphasis on faith instead implies only the challenge of the transcendent, the necessity of religion, the advocacy of the nonrational, the priority of the paradoxical.
If faith is essentially a term of infinite nuances (and not necessarily of a fixed inherent meaning), the term “learning” similarly is laden with ambiguity. It is hardly a summary term for an unchanging body of knowledge, nor need Christians applaud it as the timeless wisdom of the ages. Moses was familiar with the learning of the Egyptians and Daniel with that of the Babylonians, but these biblical spokesmen hardly exalted this into universal truth to be “integrated” with the revelation of Yahweh.
Human learning is subject to ongoing revision and displacement. A science textbook only a decade old is now usually considered outdated, whereas the word of the Lord–so the inspired biblical writers insist–is fixed and final, and Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
Yet some contemporary religionists correlated Jesus Christ the God-man with faith and not with learning, and they internalize rather than objectify all specific religious claims.
The term “integration” raises an additional network of questions. Does it mean a correlation of data that is testable for logical consistency and validity, or simply an open-ended presentation of claims that can be reconciled only in some respects? Are logic and systematic consistency something alien to the Christian revelation? In recent years not a few professedly evangelical theologians have argued that one rationalizes and falsifies Christian truth if one aims to present it as a logically consistent world-life view.
Some mediating scholars emphasize that the Christian revelation must not be confused with the “eternal truths” affirmed by pantheistic and idealistic philosophers. That is assuredly the case. But when this is made to imply that Christian truth is not eternally true, one falls into costly error.
Even the fact that the gospel was temporally and historically revealed and was conveyed in a particular language does not imply that it is not eternally true. It is in fact true yesterday, today, and forever–eternally true–that Jesus’s crucifixion and third-day resurrection are integral to the divine redemption of sinners.
Some confusion over integration of faith and learning seems to have found its way even into Christian colleges and universities. As a consequence the very epistemological foundations of the Christian revelation are misstated or ignored. The unbroken authority of Scripture, that is, the inerrancy of the divinely inspired writings, is minimized or obscured.
Another example of this is the growing tendency to view the insistence of scriptural inerrancy as merely an evangelical distinctive instead of the bedrock of evangelical doctrine. Yet if the canon of Scripture includes erroneous teaching, the process of integration is frustrated since problematically unreliable Scripture cannot be logically correlated either with faith or learning.
Another consequence of affirming biblical errancy is that evangelical campuses are tempted to neglect, or even to avoid, formation of the Christian worldview; on the mistaken premise that this would involve an unjustifiable rationalization of the biblical revelation.
As a result Christian truth is formulated not alone in opposition to speculative philosophies, as is necessary, but regrettably also in opposition to an explicit evangelical world-life view predicated consistently on the teaching of Scripture. Sometimes this maneuver involves a substitution of natural law speculation for an explicitly biblical theology, the minimization of which has implications for the entirety of a revelatory system.
In any event, the epistemological foundations of Christian faith are endangered when Scripture teaching is neglected or considered problematical. In the biblical view; only if one begins with the knowledge of the self-revealing God does one become wise in the knowledge of life.
“The beginning of wisdom is connected with the fear of the Lord” (Prov. 9:10).
The following statement was included at the time of publication in the Alumni Magazine (Autumn 1999):
Dr. Carl F.H. Henry was a Long Island newspaperman when he became a Christian in 1933. He is recognized as a foremost author, educator, lecturer, and theologian. He taught or lectured on college campuses throughout the United States and in countries on every continent. He has written 43 books, some translated into Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Romanian, and Russian.
By David Osielski | February 26, 2013
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).
By Keith Call | February 20, 2013
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.
By David Osielski | February 11, 2013
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.
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.
By David Osielski | January 30, 2013
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 Education Jeanette Lowe Hsieh (who taught at Wheaton from 1990-1996) was featured in the Spring 1995 issue.
One of my most vivid memories as I was growing up in San Diego, California, was Mrs. Buck, my fourth grade public school teacher. She was about 4’9″ with snowy white hair, and she carried a yardstick that appeared to me, as a ten-year-old, to be an extension of her arm. As a former Catholic nun she ran our class with an “iron fist.” Our daily classroom routine was to kneel and say three “Hail Marys” and four “Lord’s Prayers.” If I needed a few extra points on an assignment, all I needed to do was to carefully inscribe “JMJ,” meaning “Jesus, Mary, Joseph,” on the top of my paper and to write out a few “Lord’s Prayers” at the end of the page.
Obviously, what we did as fourth graders in that San Diego public school is not tolerated in the public arena today, but Mrs. Buck planted a seed in my mind and heart that heightened a sensitivity to spiritual things. As a result, when Mrs. Higgins, a local public school principal, asked if she could drive my siblings and me to the local Southern Baptist Church for Sunday school, I was amenable. One by one, my sister, brother, and I made a personal commitment to the Lord, and eventually our parents were compelled to join us.
Both of these strategically placed public school educators were instrumental in my spiritual pilgrimage, underscoring for me the critical need for Christians to remain as teachers, parents, and students in the public arena to serve as salt and light. I cringe when I hear calls for believers to withdraw from the public school classrooms. Yes, Christian schools or home schools are a viable and appropriate alternative for many concerned evangelicals. But other Christians are called to remain in the public arena to provide a moral compass for the millions of public school children who will live in one nation representing many peoples and faiths.
There is a need for us to remain in society to shape ideas, reconstruct culture, and to ensure that the Christian distinctive is a clear choice, The New Testament emphasizes the importance of the Christian’s transforming work in the public marketplace. Without that Christian presence in my fourth grade, how would those spiritual seeds have been planted in my heart?
But how can we stay in the public arena when someone else’s worldview collides with ours? Different assumptions for understanding the world can cause conflict even among people who agree they want the best for children. I’d like to suggest that significant disagreements among educators, parents, and members of the community are inevitable and even healthy in a pluralistic society.
Faced with these differences, how should we conduct ourselves as we struggle to impact American education? We can either fight or communicate. For several years now, we have tried the confrontational approach, and the result is a great deal of tension characterized by fear and suspicion. The public schools are the bitter battleground of political skirmishes over controversial issues. We watch as groups with different worldviews belligerently confront each other with menacing strategies and inflammatory language resulting in greater bipolarization and ineffective dialogue.
I’d like to urge another approach—partnership. We need to build respectful relationships with the educational community to find common ground for mutual understanding. In my relationships with public school personnel I find little evidence that they grasp what we are saying, or why we are concerned. We must establish thoughtful dialogue so that they comprehend that the ideology of pluralism poses some vexing problems for Christian teachers and parents who believe in the exclusive claims of Christ and absolutes for belief and practice.
Christians cannot endorse everything others say, do, or believe. Galatians 5:16-23 calls for a boldness in taking a stand while at the same time cultivating patience, gentleness, and kindness in relating to others. The application to disagreements in public education is clear. Our priority as we genuinely listen, learn, and clarify is to develop out of our differences a shared partnership to promote an educated citizenry for a thriving democracy.
The following statement was included at the time of publication:
Jeanette Lowe Hsieh M.A.’66 — Associate Professor of Education, Chair of the Education Department, Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Teaching Program. Dr. Hsieh received a bachelor’s degree from Westmont College, a master’s from Wheaton College, and a doctorate from Northern Illinois University. Her husband, Ted, teaches psychology and is chair of the Social Science Division at Judson College. They have two sons, Matthew ’93, a student at Northwestern University Medical School, and Benjamin, a senior at Larkin High School who plans to attend Wheaton in the fall. Dr. Hsieh is president of the Illinois Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
By Keith Call | January 23, 2013
Robert Siegel, poet, professor and novelist, died on December 20, 2012. He was 73. Prolific and versatile, he received awards and prizes from Poetry magazine, Prairie Schooner, Bread Loaf, America and the National Endowments for the Arts. Born and raised in Chicago, Siegel attended Wheaton College, receiving his M.A. from Johns Hopkins, his Ph.D from Harvard and taught for seven years at Dartmouth. He lived with his wife, Ann, near the cost of Maine. He wrote young adult novels, such as Alpha Centauri (1980) and The Kingdom of Wundle (1982). He published several collections of poetry, such as In a Pig’s Eye (1985), The Waters Under the Earth (2005), and A Pentecost of Finches (2006). Siegel was also renowned for his environmental fantasy trilogy comprising Whalesong, White Whale and The Ice at the End of the World, about Hralenkena, a humpback whale confronting the dangers, mysteries and incomparable wonders of the ocean. “I want people to identify with the mystery and intelligence of the whale, the spirituality of the ocean,” he said, “as well as have a sense of what it’s like to be a marine animal facing oil spills.”
Siegel was a student and close friend of Dr. Clyde Kilby, Wheaton College professor of English who founded the Marion E. Wade Center, containing the manuscripts of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and five other British writers. At Harvard, Siegel studied under poet Robert Lowell, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Aside from the world of letters, Siegel was also a naturalist, laboring for land preservation. In 1989 he published an article in the Atlantic Monthly, drawing attention to the imminent razing of Henry Thoreau’s property for a housing development. His effort was successful.
Siegel’s poetry and fiction garners praise from diverse quarters:
Of Robert Siegel’s talents there can be no doubt. “Brilliant” is a term too casually applied today, and it does not begin to define the remarkable range of subjects delineated and the technical mastery demonstrated…His poems are a power. ~ Joseph Parisi, Poetry magazine
The poet’s extraordinary gift for metaphor allows him to reveal a range of emotions and attitudes that is rare among contemporary poets. ~ Booklist
Siegel’s imagination is excited by the nonhuman world, and he writes about plants and animals with surprising immediacy…A compassionate observer…he looks at them as mysterious and wonderful signs of a greater order. ~ Dana Gioia, in Poetry magazine
A masterful work combining mythology, philosophy and poetry in a story that is exciting and convincing. ~ Richard Eberhart on the Whalesong trilogy
It is all here — everything your imagination longs for when it travels back beyond our sad and gritty history to the high and noble ages of which we mortals get only fleeting and heartbreaking glimpses in the tales we now call myths. Siegel is a bard, and that is a genius almost as rare nowadays as the centaurs. ~ Thomas Howard on Alpha Centauri
Robert Siegel composed and read the inaugural poem, “In My Beginning is My End,” at the 2010 installation ceremony of Dr. Philip Ryken, eighth president of Wheaton College. His papers (SC-11), comprising correspondence and manuscripts, are housed in the Wheaton College Special Collections, are available to researchers.
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