In Defense of an Evangelical Christian Education

February 8, 2013 in Misc,Theology · 4 comments

Wheaton College

Lately there have been a few blog posts critiquing the notion of evangelical education and drawing attention to some of the problematic aspects — and even the potential futility — of such an undertaking.

I agree that this is an important issue and that so-called Christian Education faces a unique set of systemic challenges — but I’d like to respond to such critiques with my personal experience at Wheaton College. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive defense of evangelical education; nor am I claiming that my experience was typical. But my time at Wheaton certainly isn’t consistent with the head down, blinders on brainwashing that many seem to think necessarily takes place at Christian institutions of higher education. For example:

All of this isn’t meant to express an arbitrary allegiance to my alma mater. There are many troubling issues that continue to foment beneath the placid surface of “integrated faith and learning” at Wheaton. But, though Wheaton is far from being a bastion of liberalism — or even an outpost of progressivism — it nevertheless was, for me at least, an important waypoint in my development as a Christian and as a person.

4 comments… read them below or add one

Ford1968 February 9, 2013 at 4:32 am

Wes Craven? Really? Huh, ya learn something new everyday.

I’m curious, the Christian who is openly gay that you mentioned – was he or she a student? If so, how was s/he treated by the students and faculty?


Dan February 9, 2013 at 8:36 am

A student and, as far as I know, treated well.


Kathleen M Jackson April 17, 2013 at 5:18 am

I appreciate you point of view. As a professor, I am pleased you were at least nominally exposed some different points of view. The question remains: did you learn anything? Did you doubt? Did you wrestle intellectually? Or were all you questions soothed over by a few Bible verses (taken literally of course!)and being told how you should think? Real education allows you to stand upon your ability to think critically and independently.


Dan April 17, 2013 at 9:02 am

I hope I learned (and am learning) something. I have doubted and still constantly doubt. I am engaged in an on-going, never-ending intellectual wrestling match with the world — one in which I often feel like I’m losing. At Wheaton I was never placated by literal Bible verses or told what to think; I was constantly encouraged to think critically and independently. The extent to which I at times fail to live up to that ideal is entirely my failing and not the fault of a second-rate education.


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