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What Has Wheaton College to Do with Justice?

On Oct. 13, 2023, just six days after Hamas terrorists attacked, tortured, kidnapped, raped, and murdered innocent Israelis of all ages from infants to the elderly, a professor at an American college posted this on X:

Observing privileged white Christian men lecture the world on how just war works is an ongoing reminder of how much we have empowered white gaze and made it prevalent.

This awkwardly worded, jargon-filled, virtue signal comes from a privileged white Christian man—Joey Cochran—who teaches history at Wheaton College—yes, that Wheaton College—the one formerly known as the evangelical flagship whose president Philip Ryken recently gave a presentation in which he extolled the preeminent virtue of unity.

Ryken presides over an increasingly—to use the shorthand term— “woke” faculty, who are doing their damndest to inculcate their students with leftist Critical Race Theory. CRT devotees promote an unbiblical view of race, ethnicity, and sin that privileges classes of people who are considered “of color.” “Palestinians” are people of "color," while Jews are “white”—and, therefore, oppressors and colonizers.

No matter that the disputed land has belonged to Jews—forever. No matter that Jews exited Gaza almost two decades ago. No matter that Jews don’t send rockets unprovoked into Gaza or behead babies or rape Muslim women. No matter that Israel provided free water and electricity to Gaza while Hamas retrofitted water pipes into missiles and uses their own women and children as human shields. No matter that Israel sends messages, roof knock bombs, and leaflets into Gaza to warn Palestinians before a military offfensive, while Hamas prevents them from leaving. In the occluded eyes of leftists, Israelis are the oppressors.

While in the ghastly aftermath of the Hamas-inflicted bloodbath, privileged white male assistant professor Cochran turned his gimlet gaze on white gaze, as of this writing, President Ryken has said--nothing. The relentless effort by Muslim terrorists to exterminate Jews could not rouse Ryken to respond. His indefensible silence cannot be attributed to reluctance to address matters of political or cultural import. In 2021, Wheaton announced the school would be removing a plaque honoring Wheaton alumni and missionaries Jim Elliot and Ed McCully because it described as “savage” the indigenous Ecuadorian tribe that brutally and without cause speared Elliot, McCully, and three other missionaries to death in 1956. The plaque, which was donated 64 years ago by Wheaton classmates of Elliot and McCully, read:

For generations all strangers were killed by these savage Indians. After many days of patient preparation and devout prayer, the missionaries made the first friendly contact known to history with the Aucas. [“Auca” is the Quechua word for “savage” and was the name used at the time by indigenous people to refer to the Waorani tribe.]

At the time, Ryken said,

Recently, students, faculty, and staff have expressed concern about language on the plaque that is now recognized as offensive. … The word “savage” is regarded as pejorative and has been used historically to dehumanize and mistreat Indigenous peoples around the world. … Any descriptions on our campus of people or people groups should reflect the full dignity of human beings made in the image of God.”

As I wrote in response,

I guess no more calling people sinners with deceitful and desperately sick hearts on the Wheaton campus.
[Ryken] errs by acquiescing to the woke mob who seek to dishonestly use Christianity as a weapon to silence all condemnation of sin. In so doing, he has inadvertently caved to relativism. Does President Ryken believe that Christians should refrain from using any and all terms that the world now views as “offensive”?

In 2016, Ryken released this statement on yet another matter of political and cultural import:

Dear Campus Community,
We all are witnesses to the egregious and senseless violence that recently claimed the lives of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. Their deaths speak to the enduring presence of systemic and institutional racism within our society. As a community, we are deeply distressed by violent acts that have persisted in our country for more than four centuries.
As Christ followers, we denounce systemic racism and police brutality against any racial or ethnic group. Today especially our hearts are filled with pain for the inhumane treatment of our brothers and sisters in the African American community. …
To the members of our community belonging to the African diaspora, please know that you have our love, support, and concern. We pray for God’s grace and protection on you and your families during this difficult time in our nation’s history.

While Ryken has made no public statement about the egregious and senseless violence committed against Jews in Israel and celebrated in cities around the world, he recently announced in a splashy virtue-signaling statement the release of Wheaton’s 100+ page document detailing its historical failings regarding racial injustice. Word to Ryken: The Wheaton administration is committing the same kind of failures now for which it will have to apologize later.

I have been warning about Wheaton College’s transition into poisonous unbiblical “progressivism” for years. As the mother of two Wheaton graduates and mother-in-law of two, this gives me no pleasure. Neither does it give me pleasure to say that unless the Wheaton trajectory changes, I do not want any of my grandchildren to attend Wheaton College.

In 2010, I wrote about the Wheaton College Education Department's "Conceptual Framework under the leadership of former department chair Jill Lederhouse:

What is notable about this “Conceptual Framework” is the sheer number of leftist scholars who are uncritically cited. … Very few parents and virtually no prospective students would be troubled by the document because they would be unfamiliar with the names and the jargon that may alert those who are familiar with “social justice theory.”
The troubling scholars cited include unapologetic former Weather Underground domestic terrorist Bill Ayers; socialist and proponent of black liberation theology Cornel West; feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan; and Brazilian Marxist and godfather of the “social justice” movement Paulo Freire. The jargon that raises red flags is the term “agent of change,” that appears sixteen times in the Conceptual Framework and which is straight out of the Freire playbook. Christians should be concerned about justice and should seek to effect positive change, but what justice and positive change look like to disciples of Paulo Freire and Bill Ayers is likely very different from what justice and positive change look like to many disciples of Christ.

Now Lederhouse’s daughter—a Wheaton College graduate—works at Christianity Today about which Daily Wire just wrote,

Between 2015 and 2022, nine Christianity Today employees made 73 political donations. All of them went to Democrats. … This tally includes President and CEO Timothy Dalrymple. … Dalrymple was not the only member of the magazine’s executive ranks to donate to Democrats. Natalie Lederhouse, Vice President of Advertising and Partnerships, contributed $50 to the 2020 Biden Victory Fund. The Federal Election Commission has no records of any Christianity Today executive giving to the GOP since 1991.

Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, has urged people not to look away from the carnage in Israel. He knows that when—not if—but when we look away, we allow evil to spread. We must not look away.

Hannah Arendt wrote, “Evil thrives in apathy and cannot survive without it.”

Albert Einstein wrote, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.

Elie Wiesel wrote, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”

The unhealthy person is not the person who fixes their gaze on evil and refuses to look away. Unhealthy people are those who glance at evil and then turns their eyes to more anodyne images, because looking at evil is “too painful.” You know who can’t look away? The Jews in Israel.

There is much that can and should be done. Money donated and prayers offered are two ways. But there are other ways.

Fix your gaze on the carnage in Israel. If or when you find your righteous anger diminishing, look at those images again.

Use your voice to speak truth. In conversations and on social media, speak truth.

Don’t send your children to colleges or universities that employ professors who support Hamas, Hezbollah, or any other terrorist organization.

Don’t be deceived by lies about Israel propagated by antisemites. Israel is not a colonizer, and this battle is not a geopolitical conflict over “Palestinian” land. What Hamas has done both to Israelis and their own people in Gaza is motivated by hatred of Jews and a desire, not merely to wipe Israel off the map but also to exterminate Jews everywhere.

Finally, if there are protests in cities, show up to stand beside Jews. Last Friday, just days after Hamas committed inhuman acts of barbarism against Jews, college campuses and city streets were filled with Hamas supporters/genocide-deniers. Supporters of Israel were far fewer. Journalists have reported that Jews are afraid. Young Jews have been reporting for years that the cancer of antisemitism has been growing on college campuses, and their warnings have been ignored. Now is the time non-Jews need to come alongside Jews in every city and on every college campus where pro-Hamas protests take place. No Jew anywhere should fear what Israelis fear.

Satan comes disguised as an angel of light. He disguises his vulpine essence in the soft wool of a gentle sheep. And he conceals his pernicious lies in soothing sophistry, rhetoric redolent of faux-righteousness, and bald-faced lies that deceive the ignorant and gullible. Don’t fall for his lies—again.

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