Tag Archives: Wheaton

Can Christians Support and Participate in War?

ploughshare In 2005, my senior year at Wheaton College, in my ‘Christian Thought’ class, I participated in a debate on the topic: “Christians can Support and Participate in War.”

I was on the CON side, in line with my still being formed beliefs on what a Christian stance regarding war should be. I like resurrecting old writings and so I figured I’d share my opening statements from this debate I had in my college class. I’m not sure if I would hold so strongly to some of my points any more, but as this was a debate amongst Christians who believe the Bible is authoritative, I think these are still decent opening statements. I figure, as this Stories of Nonviolence series continues, there will inevitably be questions regarding the topic and I want to put this post as sort of the discussion point for the topic. Here are my opening lines:

Christian men and women, we have entered the battlefield. The true test has come: Will you follow the instructions of your commanding officer or act on your own judgment of the situation? It could be that from your view in the trenches His commands will result in the terrible death of many and even the triumph of the enemy over you. Will you, instead, respond in the way you discern is most in line with what He would have commanded if placed in your situation?

This debate is not a debate of effectiveness. It is irrelevant whether one side or the other would have been more or less effective of a response, whether in Nazi Germany or Saddam in Iraq. We must rest solely in the faith that following the commands of our God, who has revealed himself in Scripture, will result ultimately in the greatest good.

We believe that the scripture is inerrant and infallible; it is here that our debate lies. Whether His Word calls for us to take up arms is what we are here to debate, not whether this human action or that will result in the loss of less lives.

As Christians we are not to waver our beliefs based on the most current events. It is not because of Christianity’s rationality, reasonability and logical that we hold it to be true; we follow Scripture because we confess Christ as Lord.

Our Discussion is to be based on the Bible. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc. 12:13)

We also are not advocating that we do nothing. Pacifism does not equal passiveness. The same God that has told us to “love our enemies” has also told us to “do justly.” We hold each of those commands to be true and relevant, but we do not think they come in conflict with one another. We are here to say that war is not an option open to Christians. What options are open is extremely important, but it is not the discussion we are to have here. In fact, my earnest hope is that you will see what I believe to be true in the scripture, that is, that war is not an option, and will begin to think about and discuss what options there are.

We are in the trenches, and are loyalty is being tested. Do you believe that your commanding officer, the Sovereign God of the universe has in mind the best interest of you, your ally and your enemy? You would do good to follow His commands.


“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” I Cor. 1:25

Why Wheaton’s Diversity Matters

wheaton(this is not an April Fools post. This is a rough rough draft of an article I’m working on to submit to the Wheaton Record, the student newspaper at my alma mater, Wheaton College. I could really, really use some feedback on it. Is it effective in keeping your attention and making the point? Should I cut anything out, clarify… I could really use your feedback, thanks)

Why Wheaton’s Diversity Matters

Wheaton College, as an academic institution and as a Christian community, recognizes the importance of diversity. I saw an indication of this when I received my acceptance letter in the spring of 2001. You see, when Wheaton, as well as many other colleges, looks at applicants for admission, they take into consideration additional factors beyond simple academic performance. Wheaton does so because it recognizes the importance of a diverse student body. For example, there is special consideration for student athletes because we recognize the benefit sports bring to a college community. And there was special consideration for me, and many of you when you enrolled at this fine institution, simply because you are a male.

It’s no secret women, and particularly Wheaton women, are smarter then men. Incoming Wheaton females have higher gpa’s then Wheaton males, and the reality is that if admission was on academic qualification alone, Wheaton’s student body would probably be around 70% female. Yet, Wheaton College, for the benefit of both sexes and the community, intentionally maintains around a 50/50 female-to-male ratio. Why is that? Because Wheaton College recognizes the importance of diversity.

As was announced recently, Wheaton’s current president, A. Duane Litfin, will be retiring in the summer of 2010 and a presidential selection committee has been formed to choose the new president. In putting together the concise “qualifications desired” for the next president, the selection committee also recognized the importance of diversity, including this statement under “Commitment”

  • To champion ethnic, economic, and gender diversity

In addition, the Selection Committee has been proactive in seeking out diverse candidates, including advertising the position in publications like Diversity in Higher Ed and Hispanic Educator.

Yet, despite a commitment to diversity, the selection committee contains only two women, out of ten positions, and one African American. It seems the importance of a gender balance in the student body, that I benefited from, does not carryover into areas such as selection committees, and highly unlikely it will carryover into consideration of presidential candidates.

Am I asking the selection committee to consider only female and minority candidates? If only I would be so bold. That would seem terribly unreasonable at this stage and so instead I ask this of the Selection Committee: Please take into careful consideration the depth of value the experiences of a female or minority candidate bring to the position of college president.

Wheaton College has had seven presidents in it’s 150 year history, Litfin’s tenure beginning in 1993. All seven of the past presidents have been white males and, if we are honest, we should acknowledge that our historical prejudices would not have allowed it otherwise. Compared to other academic institutions, Christian college presidents (in the CCCU) are far whiter and more male then their secular counterparts (no minority CCCU presidents and only 2% female, compared to 12.8% and 21.1% respectively in all national institutions).

If Wheaton College is as committed to diversity as we say we are, as the presidential qualifications acknowledge our commitment, and our admission consideration regarding gender acknowledges, then it behooves us to make diversity of primary importance in considering the next leader of this great academic institution.

(Ariah is currently collaborating with other alumni, faculty and current students on a collective statement to the Selection Committee regarding the importance of diversity to their selection of the next president. If you are interested in being a part of that statement or would be willing to help gather signatures, please email him)

The Yanomamo: not just a biculturalism case study

When I learned about the Yanomamo a few years back it was in an academic setting. We read a whole book on them and discussed their culture as a way to better understand society and people. Unfortunately, their current state of affairs and our role in that was not part of the conversation.


For a Yanomani, her land is much more than the soil she treads.
Help us to prevent her from being evicted from her land at www.survival.es.

Why I am was at Wheaton

Before I walked into my room on the sixth floor of Traber dorm at Wheaton College, I had taken the time to sit down and write a statement to myself about why I was going to be spending the next few years of my life in that place.  Writing out this mission statement was probably the most impacting and influencial step I took in making my time in college worthwhile. 
For those new and current students who come across this post, I strongly encourage you to write your own statement and post it in a prominent place in your room.  Because I was intentional about them, most of the statements below of proven true.


I believe God has called me here.
1.He got me in despite my shortcomings
2.He’s provided the finances to be here

I am at one of the best Christian academic schools in the world because God wants me here.

God has called me here to…
-Learn about him and his work in many areas.
-To interact and study under some of the smartest Christians in their particular field in the world, and learn to glorify God in that area.
-To be a part of a body of young people eager for God
-To get a degree (because I have been afforded this opportunity)
-To be a light of God’s truth to the people around me
-To root myself in the factual evidence of God’s truth that I may stand on that firm foundation of God’s word.

“…And we take Captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
–I Cor. 10:5

When I think about my time at Wheaton I undoubtedly think of the many wonderful friendships that I have built through my time there.  I also look back with few regrets about where my priorities were.  There are many who look back wishing they had went to more classes, read more of the books, visited with more of the professors.  No one I know wishes they had slept through more of their college years.  I say all this to encourage current Wheaton students and any other college students to be intentional about your time.  The parties will be forgotten. 

Soulforce and Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

This week Ariah and Zach come to you very clearly (maybe even from the same room). The topic conversations are on Soulforce and Socially Responsible Investing, to unrelated topics (though they both start with “S”) but a very interesting podcast nonetheless.

Please send your feedback and thoughts to ariahfine@gmail.com or call and leave an audio message at (615)349-1210 (and now you can even leave a reply message at Odeo).

or download here. (right click and choose Save link as…)

Some Brief Shownotes:

  • Zach and Ariah share why they sound so clear on this podcast
  • We talk about Soulforce.
  • Particularly about the Freedom Ride to Wheaton.
  • Why’s all this so important to Christianity and us Wheaton alum?
  • Live phone call from last podcast’s Friend of the week!
  • Zach shares the Myth of the Week (it’s about an egg).
  • A brief discussion about Socially Responsible Investing.
  • Are SRI’s better then making lot’s of money and giving it to good causes?
  • Friend of the Week: ____ _______ (You’ll have to listen to find out.

A Major Flaw of Wheaton College

A Major Flaw of Wheaton CollegeA friend of mine asked me to reflect on my time at Wheaton and expressed a little about what I have learned from my time there. Rather then bring up a number of unrelated things in one post I thought I would just post as the reasons and situations come to mind.
I had the great opportunity to met with the Chaplain at Wheaton for an exit interview in the spring of my senior year. At gave me a chance to reflect on the good and bad of my time and I came up with a handful of things that I thought where the most wide spread, not necessarily just specific to my personal experience. The one I had the hardest time explaining is the one I’ll start with: The lifestyle of Wheaton College instills underlying assumptions that keep us from following Christ fully.

When I first got to Wheaton I thoroughly enjoyed the nice big dorm rooms, the fancy Lego-like furniture; I loved the food at the cafeteria and the fact that people cleaned up after me everywhere I went. I enjoyed seeing the flowers planted around campus and the nice architecture. The Student Rec Center was state-of-the-art and the classrooms had all the technology needs you could imagine. I enjoyed all of these things, and I justified in my mind that during my time of diligent studies it was nice to be in a comfortable environment with everything taken care of. Sophomore year, a campaign to build a $20 million student center began, and I suddenly realized the great tragedy of having all we had at Wheaton.

You see, when you sit in a “Christian” Institution, listening to a “Christian” teacher, amongst “Christian” peers, you have an immediate assumption that the Lifestyle, the buildings, the spending being done in your community is therefore “Christian.” But that is not necessarily true.

When you sit in the coffee shop of an extravagant student center and read Jesus words about caring for the poor, it is hard to acknowledge that your fancy community might be in conflict with really carrying that out.

I fear too many students have left Wheaton with this assumption: I can buy a big house, an expensive car, fancy clothes and furniture, take exotic vacations, live the high society life, AND still follow Christ call to take up their cross and follow him.

Why I wanted to go to Wheaton College

It’s funny I have this weird feeling that after posting this there are going to be a number of searches that will land on my site from high school seniors googling, “How to get into Wheaton essays” and “Free Wheaton Application Essays online.” If that’s how you got here, just know the essay that your about to read is probably not what got me into Wheaton. I actually got in because of my personal interview where I presented a song and dance routine in the key of h# and directed an entire pantomime by a troupe of trained monkey’s (though I had to agree not to house them in my dorm room; something about a total sum of body hair between roommates restriction).

I figure now that I’ve graduated, and because a friend asked why I wanted to go to Wheaton, there is no harm in revealing this essay to the general public. This was one of three essays I submitted for the Wheaton Application my senior year of high school. (UNCUT: Director’s Edition)

How do you see yourself as a good match to Wheaton’s academic and spiritual environment?

Since I first heard of Wheaton I knew I wanted to attend college there. It was a bright orange T-shirt with a blue Ichthus on the front and “Wheaton Soccer” on the back that first attracted me. “I’d go to that college just to get that shirt!” I told my friend who was wearing the shirt. At the time I wasn’t serious, but as I’ve learned more about the school I’ve found many more important reasons to go to Wheaton then to get a T-shirt.

Compared to many other colleges, Wheaton has tough academic standards. That appeals to me. I’ve always liked to challenge myself in school, taking hard classes that really push you. I don’t like to just get by, that’s a waste of the thousands of hours I spend in school. I believe Wheaton is looking for students that want to get the most out of their academic experience, and I believe I’m that kind of student.

The best way I’ve found to really get a feel for a colleges spiritual environment, besides visiting it, is by the people I know who have attended or are attending there, and the ways they are changed by it. In talking with friends attending Wheaton I’ve heard only positive comments and seen great growth in their spiritual walk. Those adults at my church who have attended Wheaton are individuals I have great respect for. The Wheaton alumni and current students I have talked to are all people with whom I agree theologically in almost all respects.

Two great men who have greatly influenced my life have also graced the halls of Wheaton. John Piper’s sermons and the memoirs of Jim Elliot have never ceased to amaze me. I want to learn from a school that has helped John Piper gain an amazing insight into God’s word and Jim Elliot an incredible patience for God’s guidance. Yet more then anything, I want to go were God leads me to go.

Geez Magazine and art

Geez has the look and style that immediately makes me think I’m missing something. It’s that artsy, reflective sort of feel that I have in the past called pretensious. The first six pages feature large, simple pictures with reflective phrases placed across them.

I’m a pretty matter of fact kind of guy. When I was twelve my parents took us to the Chicago Art institute to see the Monet exhibit. I had no idea who Monet was, but I was quite irritated that we had to wait in line for two hours before we got into the exhibit. Needless to say, fifty plus paintings of a haystack where thoroughly unimpressive to me and I found a nice bench to nap on at the end of the exhibit just twenty minutes after stepping into Monet’s exhibit. I didn’t no Monet, and unless his work was uniquely “cool” all on it’s own, I didn’t care much about it either. This thoroughly disappointed my mother.

Years later I caught wind that Professor Jeffery Thompson’s Art 101 class was a must take (it was also a required Gen Ed.). Just one week into it I called my mother and gave her the exciting news, “I like art!” Sadly, I can’t remember now what it was he said or did to change my thinking, but I had grown a definite appreciation for art and artist, and I excitedly entered the Art Insititute at the end of the semester to enjoy my new found appreciation. (I’d pay someone to get a hold of some thorough class notes, or better yet, a recording of Thompson’s class).

What does all this have to do with Geez magazine? Geez is artistic, it is not a straight to the point publication. The publishers of Geez are not pretensitious. They are reflective, they are humble, the do philosophize, and think deeply. I’ve subscribed to their magazine this year because I support their mission, I believe in what they are doing and I’m excited about what they have to share with our faith community. Thanks Geez.

[Geez Magazine]

Newsweek huh?

Newsweek link

Okay, I’ll be honest the real reason I’m posting this is to see how Technorati works along with Newsweeks tracking of bloggers. Supposedly, When a blogger links to an article and writes about it there’ll be a link on the Newsweek site, so sorry if you had to hear that when your looking for my thoughts on the article!

So, Wheaton College gets the “Hottest Christian College” award. I mean, I went there and I felt I got a good education, so I don’t want to knock it too much. I guess maybe we are a lot better then some as far as Newsweeks standards go for a good college. I guess it just that as Christians I don’t think the world’s standards should be what we are focused on, but it seems like that is constantly what it is. We call ourselves the “Harvard of Christian Colleges,” we boast our #1 food service, we pride ourselves on being in the top tier of the US News and World Reports college listings, and every orientation is not complete till we hear the average GPA, SAT and ACT scores of the incoming freshman.

Okay, I’m done talking about Wheaton, I just wish our standards and our focus where on other then being prestigious in the world’s eyes.