Wheaton Professors and Students Okay With Marxism?
Despite these disturbing revelations, the Faculty Council of Wheaton College last month unanimously recommended that the administration reinstate Professor Hawkins. Similarly, 78 current Wheaton College faculty signed a letter calling for Hawkins' reinstatement, and some posed in a video with signs supporting the embattled professor.
Perhaps following their professors' lead, a handful of Wheaton students also announced a 40-day fast to show solidarity with Dr. Hawkins. Clearly viewing the controversy through the lens of identity politics (another outgrowth of Marxism), they called on Wheaton and other evangelical institutions to repent of their "racism, sexism and Islamophobia." Flying in to help the students launch their fast was Rev. Peter Heltzel, a Wheaton College graduate and theology professor at New York Theological Seminary. Heltzel, who is an advocate of liberation theology, used Marxist language when praising Hawkins, saying she had "sown the seeds of revolution."
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Marxism has reared its head at Wheaton College. About six years ago, I reported that Wheaton College's education department was promoting Marxism and radical Leftist thinkers under the guise of "social justice." I was stunned to discover that the conceptual framework of the education department was based on the teachings of radicals like Bill Ayers, who bombed the Pentagon; Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire; and atheist philosopher Richard Rorty. I was even more surprised when the head of the education department said that these Leftists "have enlightened us" and that Marxism is "not necessarily" anti-biblical.
Thankfully, after President Phil Ryken assumed leadership of the college in 2010, he oversaw a complete overhaul of the department's conceptual framework. Instead of basing the framework on Marxist notions of "social justice," the new document was rooted in the biblical understanding of human flourishing. Yet, given the faculty's favorable response to Dr. Hawkins' recent show of Marxist social justice, I can't help but wonder if Marxism is still quite prevalent at Wheaton. What's even more confusing, the administration recently established an endowed scholarship in Dr. Hawkins' name. What does it communicate when the college publicly honors someone who openly espouses such error?
Repeatedly, the administration has framed the Hawkins controversy as an issue regarding the college's statement of faith. But what we see on Wheaton's campus — and quite honestly, on evangelical campuses around the country — is the illogical embrace of both Christian core beliefs and worldviews that completely contradict those beliefs. This is why we have "gay Christians" and the "evangelical Left" and now, advocates that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. What Wheaton and other evangelical schools need to do is not only maintain an orthodox statement of faith, but interpret and apply that faith across all disciplines. In short, the college needs to provide intellectually rigorous worldview training for its faculty, who then can pass on that training to their students.
Currently, though, the Wheaton administration seems reluctant to require anything of its faculty beyond mere adherence to its statement of faith.
In fact, in a recent letter by Provost Stanton Jones to the Wheaton faculty, Jones stated "the college has no explicit position on what can or cannot be said on the question of whether Christians or Muslims worship the same God." Then, in a shocking admission, Jones said, "Ontologically, I would say — and here I am just speaking for myself . . . it seems logical to me that there must be some referential overlap or similarity in the divine being that each is referring to in each of the monotheistic religions."
So, the provost of the college sees no trouble with the same God assertion? That's extremely alarming to those of us who see a serious problem with equating the God of the Bible with the false god of Islam, and initially thought Wheaton did too.
At President Ryken's request, Wheaton's Board of Trustees is conducting a thorough review of the many concerns raised by the Hawkins controversy, like academic freedom, due process and possible discrimination. But, definitely added to that list should be an examination of the worldviews held and espoused by Wheaton faculty. I understand the college may want to maintain a big tent. But, the tent should not be so large that it encompasses errant worldviews.