Wheaton College prof fired for converting

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by Charles, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. Charles

    Charles New Member

    Interesting article, first because Bill Dayson recently pondered a very similar hypothetical situation. This, in my opinion, is not any version of burning heretics.

    Also, the article includes commentary from Freerepublic.com.

  2. Tim D

    Tim D Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2006
  3. Absurd...

    I like this line from the article....

    "Faculty members at the west suburban evangelical Protestant college must sign a faith statement that the Bible is the final authority. Catholics follow the authority of Scripture and the pope."

    What utter absurdity! What place does this kind of belief system have in higher education???

    I'd like to start up a college where "faculty members must sign a faith statement that the complete set of Greek and Roman mythology (Penguin Books) is the final authority." Let's leave this up to Zeus and Hermes!

    The premise is equally absurd.... if you all stop to really think about it. Why are we ruining people's careers in the early 21st century over whether one guy's ancient book of dreams is better than the other guy's, which just so happens to be accompanied by another living white guy in a robe and weird death-cult ornamentation based out of Rome?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2006
  4. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Re: Absurd...

    "We" aren't doing anything. The guy signed an employment contract that included a clause on his continuing religious beliefs. He was unable to continue fulfilling the contract, and as a result his employment was terminated.

    Freedom means being able to do things that others find ridiculous....

  5. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    If we change 'burn' to 'fire', that's exactly what it is.

    In the words of the college president: "There is nothing exclusionary about this".

    I guess that at Wheaton, removing disagreement isn't the same thing as excluding it.

    That's a pretty fine distinction.
  6. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Re: Re: Absurd...

    The Wall Street Journal ran a much longer story about this issue, which unfortunately is probably not available online without a subscription. Based on the WSJ story, the situation is not as simple as you suggest.

    Apparently the contract clause in question (the Wheaton "faith statement") does not specifically ban Catholics or demand Protestants. It does require belief in the inerrancy of the Bible. The individual in question says that he can, in good conscience, accept this "faith statement". He did so in the past as a Protestant, and believes that he can do so as a Catholic as well.

    So it's not clear that the individual has failed to fulfill the contract. He is required to sign a "faith statement"; so he signed as required, the university accepted his signature, and he claims that he would sign it again. Seems fair enough.

    It is arguably the university that has reneged on the contract. They initially accepted the individual's signature on the "faith statement" as fulfillment of the contract; but now they refuse to accept the same signature on the same statement. Seems less fair.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2006
  7. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Re: Re: Re: Absurd...


    Okay, I see your point. Either way, I still see it as an employment contract issue rather than as a Death Eater issue, or however Carl described it.

  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Re: Absurd...

    What place does any belief system have in higher education--whether a belief system based on the Bible or one where the learner/professor/discipline assume the role of truth? There will always be a belief system of some kind within higher education.........
  9. Re: Re: Absurd...


    A belief system based on the scientific method and inquiry is quite different than one based on mythology and fantasy.....

    One is appropriate for higher education, and worthy of the name.

    The other is not.

    One leads to higher knowledge, and eventually a greater truth.

    The other leads to intolerance, narrowmindedness, and repression of other human beings who do not share the same "enlightened" views.....
  10. 3$bill

    3$bill New Member

    But belief systems are a fact of life in academic appointments and tenure, if not dismissal.

    Sometimes it's a question of orthodoxy. I once went to a school with a behaviorist psych department where a cognitivist would have had as much chance getting hired as you or I would at Wheaton.

    Sometimes, though, it's a question of diversity--hiring a phenomenologist to round out the philosophy department.
  11. I'm not disputing your point. My point is that the belief system should at least be based on FACT not FICTION.
  12. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    While employment contract issues might be critical in any court case brought over this, I think that they are kind of irrelevant to the broader issue.

    That's the idea of higher education in which the scope and results of intellectual inquiry are preordained as a condition of employment.

    And it's social institutions that proudly exclude those who don't share their chosen faith commitment. I have no real objection to churches requiring faith commitments from their clergy. It even makes sense for seminaries to do the same, since they are in the business of clergy-formation. But when the exclusionary practices spread out into more secular activities performed by "faith-based" organizations, then I start to see problems.

    That's probably the basis for my argument with Charles. Perhaps I'm misreading him, but he seems to champion the view that the United States is a Christian nation and that it should embody Christian principles in all of its institutions. In other words, the religious right ideal seems to be reshaping the entire nation so that it becomes a "faith based" institution.

    But if fundamental institutions such as the courts ever start behaving even remotely like Wheaton College does, then non-conforming individuals like myself are going to be in very big trouble.
  13. Charles

    Charles New Member


    Yes, you are misunderstanding me. I’ve neither suggested that the United States is a nation of Christians only nor that our institutions must be based on Christian principles. However, I do argue that Christians, as individuals, should enjoy the same influence on society as any other individuals.

    A review of Wheaton College President, Duane Litfin’s, Conceiving the Christian College summarizes his reasoning for exclusive hiring at a Christian college:


    You and others seem to suggest that the very thought of teaching the arts and sciences from a Christian worldview is somehow problematic. That is the argument with which I vigorously disagree.
  14. 3$bill

    3$bill New Member

    (I realize I'm taking this into the periphery.)

    But often belief systems in academia differ on such matters as "what constitutes a fact?" Even in mathematics, for example, Platonists maintain that the statement "The expansion of pi contains a sequence of 100 consecutive sevens" is a factual one, whether true or false, we don't know. Constructivists maintain it's no such thing, because there's no procedure you can specify to find out.

    In the humanities and the social um sciences it's more systematically problematical:

    Search Committee Prof1:"Well, I guess it comes down to a choice between the Platonist and the existentialist."
    Search Committee Prof2:"That's a no-brainer. Does existence precede essence or is it the other way around?"
    Search Committee Prof1:"You know, I never could keep that straight. Reach me the almanac, would you?"

    I dunno, maybe neither one should get the job and the two profs should lose theirs, and their libraries to boot, per Hume:
    Put a lot of people out of work, though.
  15. So.... what exactly is a "Christian worldview"?

    I'd love to hear your answer....
  16. Charles

    Charles New Member


    Please allow me to recommend a book, James Sire’s The Universe Next Door - A Basic Worldview Catalog

    Sire goes on to say that the answers to seven questions will reveal one’s worldview.

    1. What is prime reality?
    2. What is the nature of external reality?
    3. What is a human being?
    4. What happens to a person at death?
    5. Why is it possible to know anything at all?
    6. How do we know what is right and wrong?
    7. What is the meaning of human history?

    Sire goes into much more detail in the book, but the answers below are the basic framework of a Christian worldview.

    1. God is infinite and personal (triune), transcendent and immanent, omniscient, sovereign and good.

    2. God created the cosmos ex nihilo to operate with a uniformity of cause and effect in an open system.

    3. Human beings are created in the image of God and thus posses personality, self-transcendence, intelligence, morality, gregariousness and creativity.

    4. For each person death is either the gate to life with God and his people or the gate to eternal separation from the only thing that will ultimately fulfill human aspirations.

    5. Human beings can know both the world around them and God himself because God has built into them the capacity to do so and because he takes an active role in communicating with them.

    6. Human beings were created good, but through the Fall the image of God became defaced, though not so ruined as to not be capable of restoration; through the work of Christ, God redeemed humanity and began the process of restoring people to goodness, though any given person may choose to reject that redemption.

    7. History is linear, a meaningful sequence of events leading to fulfillment of God’s purposes for humanity.
  17. Thank you Charles.

    And.... what exactly is "the Fall"? Is this Adam and Eve making one bad choice in the Garden of Eden? Do you literally believe that story? How can a God be truly "good" if he only permits his newly created creatures (i.e., man) one mistake and then immediately determines that his image has become "defaced"?
  18. Charles

    Charles New Member


    Thank you for being civil. You asked a question and I answered it. I have no desire to begin practicing apologetics in this forum. You are free to believe or not believe anything you wish. If you want to research the issue, Sire's book is as good a starting place as any. It's not overly complicated, but he does refer to enough other works so that you may delve into it as deep as you want.

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