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When the ‘Harvard of Christian Schools’ goes woke

Wheaton College is often called the “Harvard of Christian Schools” due to its academic rigor being relatively comparable to the Ivy League titan. Its graduates of note range from Billy Graham to Dan Coates, former Director of National Intelligence and U.S. senator. 

But recently, the school in the leafy suburb west of Chicago has begun to mimic Harvard’s wokeness. Banning biblical words, teaching critical race theory, and psychologizing gender identity issues may not seem extreme in modern academia. But for a school which houses the works of Rev. Graham, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, it is adrift from its orthodox, Christian moorings. But this isn’t a recent drift.

In the 2000s, the education department commended the teachings of Marxists. In 2016, 78 faculty members voiced support for a fellow professor who stated Christians and Muslims worship the same God. And five years later, the school held its first ceremony recognizing graduating minority students sans White students. And currently, Wheaton permits its professors to teach critical race theory. 

Marxism, religious syncretism and segregation are incompatible with Christian teaching. 

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But its most blatant offense against Christianity is banning certain biblical words that are key to the faith’s foundation. In this year’s curriculum for freshman, students are informed about opportunities to meet the needs of those less fortunate. This is commonly known as the act of service. 

Wheaton, however, instructs the students not to use the word, “service.” Instead, they are to use “sacrificial co-laboring.” The reason given is service “may invoke power dynamics across socio-economic, racial, and cultural lines.” 

Why would Wheaton sideline a word (or its derivatives) used throughout the Bible and by Jesus himself? For those in the Christian faith and outside of it, the existence of an unbalanced power dynamic is the very reason for service. Furthermore, the crux of Jesus’ ministry on earth was serving. And his service erased the superficial lines dividing people and united them around himself. 

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Another word found in numerous Bible translations is also out: mankind. Seeing this word is prohibited, it’s not surprising the very definition of man and woman is on shaky ground. 

According to biblical anthropology, a person’s sex is known by what is seen, not by what one feels. An endowed chair in Wheaton’s psychology program believes this is the ideal way for humans to exist: men identifying as men and women as women.

But, he says, in an imperfect world riddled with weakness, this may not always be the case. Hence, going against one’s God-given sex “is not a moral choice.” It is a result of weakness. Therefore, he tries to “help [people] manage [their] gender dysphoria (dissatisfaction).”  

The historic Christian faith has always upheld the goodness of the created order and any action against it is a violation against God. The purpose of God’s teachings is to sustain and promote the flourishing of all life. And acting against them brings harmful disruption into one’s life. When these actions are permitted or celebrated, everyone suffers. 

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From the horror in public schools to the disenfranchisement in women’s sports to irreparable damage to people’s bodies, it is evident there is nothing to laud as beautiful or exemplary regarding transgenderism’s impact. Categorizing this reality as a non-moral choice or a situation to manage is less than wise, not to mention unbiblical.

Also, if one considers transgenderism’s roots, the harms of the movement become clearer. The transgender movement is powered by queer theory, which descends from postmodernism. In short, postmodernism is about making historical pillars of society (truth, beauty and goodness) subjective. 

Consequently, truth is now personal, “my truth.” Beauty is defined by the beholder, not by standards. And goodness is whatever is socially acceptable.

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Queer theory is the application of postmodernism to sex, gender and sexuality. And its main goal is to liberate these three from their historic, religious foundations. 

Regarding gender specifically, there is no truth about what is a man or a woman. A person mutilating his or her own healthy body is labeled beautiful. And it is considered good that gender no longer dictates who can participate in men’s and women’s sports.  

This is where the transgender movement comes from. Might this be where Wheaton College or its psychology professor is headed, teaching aspects of queer theory? It is uncertain, but not implausible. It is certain the college is permitting the professor to advance his views about identity that have roots in an anti-God philosophy. And it is also supporting an on-campus gender identity institute led by the professor, which students have access to.

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In light of these shifts away from the Bible, would Billy Graham, the most influential 20th-century evangelical, endorse his alma mater?

In the 19th century, Harvard was slowly, and permanently, transformed from a Christian university into a secular one. Belief in a trinitarian God was eventually toppled by in vogue philosophies. At Wheaton, the biblical belief in only two sexes is being tainted. With this and the other shifts mentioned, it may seem like a slow drift. But a gentle tide can carry a boat far from its dock.

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