CWA Responds to Wheaton College Statement
Recently, Concerned Women for America (CWA) posted an audio interview in which I spoke with Peter LaBarbera, President of Americans for Truth, and Dr. Michael Brown, Director of The Coalition of Conscience. We discussed Wheaton College’s recent decision to invite controversial religious leftist Jim Wallis to lecture on campus and to promote his new book, The Great Awakening.
CWA has received inquiries relative to a statement/form letter Wheaton’s Provost, Dr. Stanton Jones, has apparently been sending to those who inquire about the Wallis controversy. Some have been confused by this statement and have contacted CWA for clarification.
We have been informed by a Wheaton College representative that Jones’ statement was intended to address an article written by Peter LaBarbera and not CWA’s interview. However, because some have misinterpreted Wheaton’s statement to apply to CWA, we have responded to relevant segments of that statement below:
Dr. Jones: “The concern over Wheaton College’s invitation to Jim Wallis of Sojourners has been fed by a mistaken impression that Wallis was invited to campus to promote the moral acceptance of homosexual conduct. … Wallis was not invited to campus to speak on the topic of homosexuality, but rather as a part of a series of speakers on the general theme of ‘Christian moral engagement in the world particularly in relation to political involvement and the upcoming election.’”
CWA: CWA never suggested that Wallis was “invited to campus to speak on the topic of homosexuality,” nor did we feed “a mistaken impression that Wallis was invited to campus to promote the moral acceptance of homosexual conduct.” In fact, during our interview, we expressly indicated that Wallis was not invited to Wheaton to discuss homosexuality.
Wheaton shared a concern with us that the title of our interview, “Wheaton College Hosts Pro-Homosexual Speakers,” might give some the mistaken impression that Wallis was invited to discuss homosexuality. In the event that even one person might be confused by our title, and as an act of good faith, we changed the title to “Wheaton College Hosts Controversial Speakers” and added a line in the narrative introducing the interview which made clear that Wallace was not invited to discuss homosexuality.
It is important to note that Wallis is, in fact, openly “pro-homosexual.” He supports “civil unions,” which are simply “same-sex marriages” by another name, and has said that it is appropriate for churches to offer homosexual couples “spiritual blessings.” This, of course, is an affront to both the Old and New Testaments’ express and unequivocal condemnation of homosexual sin.
What CWA did do was merely to question Wheaton’s judgment in providing advocates of homosexual sin, such as Wallis and Harry Knox — a previous speaker who is an openly homosexual spokesman for the vociferously anti-Christian “Human Rights Campaign” (HRC) — an open and unchallenged platform from which to make their sales pitch to Wheaton students. This may not have been Wheaton’s intention, but it was — at least in part — the end result.
Wheaton also assisted Wallis in promoting his book, The Great Awakening, wherein he calls support for “civil unions” and “spiritual blessings for gay couples” a “justice issue” and advocates a non-Biblical position on homosexuality. But it goes much deeper. Wallis is a well-known supporter of communism who supported the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War and advocates many principles in his book which run entirely counter to clear Scripture.
CWA’s concern was that since Wallis went unopposed during his lecture, and since, for better or for worse, Wheaton was at least apparently promoting Wallis and his book, students might determine that Wheaton, therefore, endorsed Wallis’ Biblical revisionism and non-Scriptural positions on a wide range of issues. After all, Wheaton did promote his appearance and his book prior to his lecture and even held a book signing for him afterward.
Dr. Jones: “One website that is critical of us for inviting Wallis chides us for not inviting speakers to campus who represent the traditional Christian sexual ethic, but displays ignorance of the fact that one of the very experts on which the critic relies, Dr. A. J. Robert Gagnon, is a friend of Wheaton College who has been to campus twice in recent years to defend the traditional Christian view of sexual ethics. Further, our campus has hosted such speakers as former homosexual Mike Haley of Focus on the Family. We have also taken on directly and forcefully the argument of gay advocates; see the rebuttal written by Provost Stanton Jones available at http://www.wheaton.edu/CACE/resources/booklets/StanJonesResponsetoMelWhite.pdf, the Wheaton College Center for Applied Christian Ethics website.”
CWA: CWA never “[chided Wheaton] for not inviting speakers to campus who represent the traditional Christian sexual ethic.” In fact, we pointed out time and again during our interview that Wheaton College has a “rich history of standing for Biblical Truth” and that Wheaton often has speakers who bolster that tradition. Our concern was, as previously stated, that Wallis and Knox were given a platform from which to spread, without rebuttal, political and “spiritual” philosophies which are decidedly non-Christian. Again, this can, and may, at worst have given some Wheaton students the idea that Wheaton officially endorses those philosophies or deems them worthy of serious consideration at best.
It is CWA’s opinion that an academic institution that stands for Biblical Truth, such as Wheaton College, need not provide a point/counterpoint when a lecturer is known for espousing, and in fact does espouse, philosophies which are in keeping with clear Scripture. However, it is CWA’s further opinion that it is only fitting to counter-balance a lecturer (such as Wallis or Knox) who promotes philosophies which run entirely counter to Scripture with a speaker of equal skill, knowledge and intelligence who can provide a Biblically sound rebuttal.
It is CWA’s opinion that it may have been appropriate to invite Wallis to share a stage in a debate with an advocate of Biblical Truth, as long as students were made aware, before the fact, that many of Wallis’ philosophies are both non-Biblical and politically controversial.
CWA fails to see how promoting Wallis and his book, allowing him to sell his book and conduct a book signing, or permitting him to give a one-sided lecture without rebuttal furthers either academic freedom, Biblical Truth or the Kingdom of God. Academic freedom and the free flow of ideas are not diminished by providing both sides of an argument, they are only enhanced.
Dr. Jones: “In the excerpts from his recent book quoted on critical websites, Wallis does not contradict the traditional Christian judgment that homosexual conduct is sinful, but does argue that matters like housing and employment rights are not solved simply by reference to our moral judgment.”
CWA: We hope and pray that Dr. Jones and Wheaton College will reconsider the following statement: “Wallis does not contradict the traditional Christian judgment that homosexual conduct is sinful.” In his book, Wallis states the following: “Many Christians, and I include myself, prefer the solution of ‘civil unions’ from the state, and even spiritual ‘blessings’ for gay couples.”
It is impossible, by any measure, to reconcile this statement with any honest reading of Scripture. As previously mentioned, so-called “civil unions” are merely “gay marriages” by another name. Any Christian who supports “civil unions” supports state-sanctioned immorality. Objectively disordered and immoral conduct does not become any less disordered or immoral simply because it has the government’s stamp of approval.
But more problematic, from a Scriptural standpoint, is Wallis’ promotion of “spiritual ‘blessings’ for gay couples.” How does one provide a “spiritual blessing” for that which God expressly condemns in Scripture as sin … as an “abomination”? The answer, of course, is that one cannot do so with even a modicum of Biblical integrity. It is impossible. Simply replace “gay couples” with any other sexual sin and see if it makes Biblical sense: “Spiritual blessings for ‘incestuous couples,’ Spiritual blessings for ‘polygamous couples,’ Spiritual blessings for ‘adulterous couples.’” You get the point.
Dr. Jones: “At the broader level, as an educational institution — not a church — we often have people presenting a variety of views on campus, including those with whom we do not agree. Students often read the works of those with whom we disagree.”
CWA: As previously stated, CWA agrees that academic freedom and the free flow of ideas are important to any academic institution. However, any academic institution that purports to recognize the infallibility of Scripture has, in our opinion, a duty to warn students when a prospective speaker promotes philosophies which run directly counter to Scripture and educate those students as to which philosophies are in question.
Furthermore, that institution has an obligation, in our opinion, to counter-balance that speaker and his philosophies — at the time they are espoused — by providing Biblically sound direction from a Christian speaker/educator who can supply students with the Scripturally accurate prospective.
It is CWA’s great hope and prayer that our learned brothers and sisters in Christ who are charged with overseeing the education and spiritual growth of Wheaton’s bright young student body will 1) publicly acknowledge that there were mistakes made in how the Knox and Wallis presentations were planned, promoted and carried out, 2) take overt steps to educate the Wheaton student body as to which philosophies espoused by Knox and Wallis (specifically within Wallis’ book, which was sold and signed at Wheaton) fly in the face of Biblical Truth, and 3) take appropriate steps to insure that, in the future, controversial figures invited to lecture at Wheaton who purport to be Christian, but promote anti-Christian beliefs, will be forcefully and publicly challenged on those beliefs at the time of their appearance.
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