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?

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Dan February 9, 2013 at 8:36 am

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

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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.

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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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