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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