The scandal of the Evangelical college...

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Why bother continuing to warn souls against the betrayal of God by the profs and administrations of Evangelical colleges?

A quarter century ago, I bought a book that put some social science muscle behind what I had observed growing up in Wheaton and knowing Wheaton's profs, administrators, and their families firsthand. The book was Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation by University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter. Originally published in 1987, Hunter's work was based upon a careful survey of students at Evangelical colleges and seminaries, including Wheaton College, Gordon College, Westmont College, Seattle-Pacific University, Taylor University, Messiah College, Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Wheaton Graduate School, and Westminster Theological Seminary.

University of Chicago Press summarized Hunters' work..

Looking at what he calls "The Coming Generation" of Evangelical opinion leaders and elites . . . Hunter draws a nuanced and finely detailed portrait of young Evangelicals who, while certainly more conservative than the mainstream of American Protestants, are at least ambivalent about some important aspects of fundamentalism and at most ready to repudiate elements of fundamentalist faith, politics, and practice. . . .

For the Library Journal, Westminster's John Muether wrote:

Hunter explores the conflict between orthodox Protestantism and modern culture. By analyzing the literature, plus data from an extensive survey of students and faculty at 16 evangelical colleges and seminaries, Hunter succeeds in shattering certain stereotypes about the movement. He also demonstrates some startling shifts in attitude on theology, morality, the family, and politics. These shifts reveal a significant accommodation to modernity that threatens to erode the "symbolic boundaries" of the evangelical universe...

Yes, yes; "symbolic boundaries." This is how the Westminster intellectual describes the Church's fear of God and call to honor and obey His Word when he's "interpreting" God's followers to the world. Muether's summary is a perfect illustration of the scandal of the Evangelical mind housed in the body of a Westminster Seminary professor. But of course, Muether's only quoting Hunter, don't you know.

Hunter's study demonstrated that the more years a student spent studying under supposedly "Christian" and "Evangelical" professors, the more their Biblical convictions and morality declined—year after year, and across these highly regarded Evangelical institutions. Thus, Hunter concluded, despite the chattering class viewing Evangelicals as the bad-boys of the public square, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle had nothing to fear from the coming generation of Evangelicals. After all, they were all being educated by Evangelical intellectuals.

Who can argue, given the wholesale betrayal of Scripture's doctrine of sexuality by Evangelicals and their celebrities this past year? Evangelicals have presented not the slightest threat to the chattering class's declaration and ruling that, in all things sexual, Scripture's God is an enemy of the people.

Thirty years ago, Hunter's work told us how everything would fall these past few years. It should have produced a revolt among Wheaton and her sister institutions' alumni and trustees, but instead it met with a yawn. A couple things contributed to Hunter's work sinking without a trace.

First, Hunters' book was a scholarly work published by University of Chicago Press and Evangelicals don't read scholarly works. Second, decades earlier these schools had replaced pastors with rich men and women on their boards of trustees. Thus those boards were in captivity to what Jesus called "the deceitfulness of wealth." I could list the names of a number of these rich men at a number of these institutions. I could say, specifically and with personal knowledge, why the men and women on these boards have been and still are incapable of disciplining the faculty and administrations under them, and thus incapable of protecting the students under their authority. But for quite some time now, Evangelicalism has simply been a kingdom of this earth enslaved to its lust for status and money. Which is to say, we have chosen leaders who are rich men and celebrities because we love riches and fame, and the spiritual sickness and death of those under the authority of these rich men does not concern us.

So Evangelical parents continue to send their precious children off to Covenant, Gordon, Calvin, Bethel, Taylor, Westmont, Trinity, and Wheaton, and those children continue to be corrupted by their professors. Meanwhile, because hope springs eternal in this human pest, I continue to tell parents to send their children to secular schools where tuition won't support the hypocrisy of Evangelical scholars; where, instead, rank pagans honest about who they are and where they want to take your children do their work out there in public for all to see.

Did you get that?

The decision where to send your children for their higher education is really a decision whether you want your children attacked by honest men, or hypocrites. As Dad (who spent 25 years in campus ministry) used to say, "At Christian colleges, you don't know who the enemy is, but at secular universities, it's clear."

Send your son or daughter to Indiana University and tell them you require them to become members of Clearnote Church and that you will only continue to pay their tuition as long as they are faithfully attending church and taking at least one class each semester at Athanasius College—as a help to their faithful witness to Christ and His kingdom at IU.

The Jude Year at Athanasius College

Anyhow, despite my constant rebuke, everyone I know continues to spend the Lord's money sending their children to Wheaton and Taylor and Covenant. It makes the parents feel all warm and fuzzy to think of their kids singing praise songs in chapel every day and getting to marry some rich son or daughter of some of the endless rich men who, amazingly, all fit through the eye of the needle and keep the faith-destroying enterprise of Evangelical higher education afloat.

Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Calvin, Wheaton, Covenant...

And the band plays on. For thirty years, now, I've been saying the identifying mark of an Evangelical is hatred of discernment.

During the four-hour drive from Wheaton back to Bloomington last night, I listened to the end of the first half of Pilgrim's Progress. Had Bunyan been dreaming today, I wonder if he would not have added to the dangers faced by Christian and Hopeful during their pilgrimage to the Celestial City a dangerous Ivory Chasm presided over by Midgets of Nuance and filled with corpses?

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!