Category Archives: News

#MyWheaton Days replace connection

By Micah McIntyre

04.25.19

For the second time this semester, prospective Wheaton students from across the country converged on campus on April 14-15 as a part of the new #mywheaton Days program.

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Wheaton faculty aim to fill gap in science education

By Melissa Schill

04.25.19

New textbook connects scientific theories with scriptural knowledge

Five Wheaton professors have co-authored a groundbreaking textbook that integrates a variety of academic disciplines to connect scientific theories of origin with scripture. The book, “Understanding Scientific Theories of Origin: Cosmology, Geology, and Biology in Christian Perspective,” is the first college-level resource to approach the topic in a comprehensive way, including mainstream scientific theories in fields such as astronomy, cosmology, chemistry, geology, biology, physical anthropology and genetics, as well as biblical and theological studies. It has been assigned as reading in several classes on campus this semester.

“The book to me has been a theologically saturated science textbook — something that, in my experience, has escaped my classroom until college,” senior Jacqui Felcan said in an email exchange with the Record. “The book thoroughly and robustly reintegrates theology and scientific inquiry, which a lot of us have learned to separate.” Felcan is reading the textbook for her Physics Senior Seminar.  

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Trump names Wheaton alum for diplomatic post

By Micah McIntyre

04.18.19

Morse H. Tan, who received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Wheaton, nominated for State Department post.

On April 5, the White House announced that President Trump nominated Wheaton College alumnus Morse H. Tan to be the next ambassador at large for global criminal justice.

The role of the Office of Global Criminal Justice is to advise the Secretary of State “on issues related to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. According to the State Department’s website, the office also crafts policy solutions to mass atrocities around the world.

Before practicing law, Tan received his undergraduate degree from Wheaton in 1997 and his master’s degree the following year. While here at Wheaton, he played tennis and wrote for the Record. Following his graduation, he attended the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and specialized in international law.

In addition to being an expert in international law, Tan is considered an expert on North Korea and consistently gives lectures about the subject. In the past he has advised ambassadors and state department officials and his work has been used by the US Assistant Secretary of State and the United Nations Commission of Inquiry. Tan’s faculty page, on Northern Illinois University (NIU) College of Law’s website, says that he is fluent in Korean and Spanish, and speaks some Chinese. Tan is currently a professor of law at NIU.

The Record contacted Tan for a quote. He refrained, saying that until his confirmation hearing, he has been advised by the White House to refrain from talking to the media.

In case you missed it: Black Hole

By Benjamin Hess

04.11.19

On April 10, the first ever image of a black hole was released by Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration (ETH), a group of over 200 scientists from across the globe who worked together to create a virtual Earth-sized telescope.  It might seem strange that scientists have only just now managed to achieve this feat, but it is surprisingly difficult to photograph something that is 500 million trillion kilometers away. Not to mention the black hole in question is three million times larger than Earth.

This monumental achievement resulted from eight telescopes positioned around the globe working in tandem. Scientists essentially created an Earth-sized telescope powerful enough to resolve a clear image of the black hole, a feat which could revolutionize our knowledge of astrophysics as it enables us to gather more precise images and data than ever before.

A black hole is an object in space that is so large and dense that nothing can escape its gravitational pull — not even light. The point at which light can no longer escape is called the event horizon, from which ETH takes its name.  

Far more than causing entertainment, the image confirms what theoretical models predicted  black holes would look like, including the strange, bright penumbra surrounding them. In addition, the electromagnetic waves that were captured to produce the image provides important information for future research as scientists try to answer questions about these powerful giants, such as how the bright rings form and what happens when something enters a black hole.

Center for Faith and Innovation launched as replacement for OPUS

By Melissa Schill

04.14.19

Wheaton College announced the Center for Faith and Innovation’s (CFI) opening in place of Opus; the Art of Work, in order to provide vocational training and resources to a wider scope of Christians, both at Wheaton and in the workplace with alumni.

CFI’s mission, according to the Center’s website, is to “help Christians pursue their work in the marketplace as an act of discipleship to Jesus Christ.”

Through connecting liberal arts professionals, generating theology-based and business research, providing professional education for emerging and current business professionals and disseminating best practices through libraries, blogs, and other publications, CFI aims to equip business professionals to integrate their calling with their faith.

Associate Professor of Theology Keith Johnson and Associate Professor of Marketing Hannah Stolze will co-direct CFI together. Johnson’s role is to provide theological expertise and content for the program through strategic planning, writing and speaking. Stolze will cast a vision for how to move to an external-facing center that engages Christians in the marketplace, as opposed to those inside the Wheaton community. Ben Norquist, former assistant director of Opus, will be the managing director.

Opus, Wheaton’s faith and work institute, was founded in 2014 with a grant from the Kern Family Foundation in order to promote conversations about the theology of work and to provide training for faculty and staff to be vocational mentors for students. More than 160 lessons, lectures and activities have been created for Wheaton’s through the program.

In addition, faculty from 60 percent of the college’s departments received vocational training. However, Opus dealt solely with Wheaton faculty and staff, and did not provide vocational training or resources to students or Christians out in the marketplace.

“Opus created space at Wheaton to talk about vocation in new ways. Once we stood in that space, new opportunities became visible,” Johnson said.

“The transition to CFI is about seizing those opportunities for the benefit of our students.”

The primary way CFI plans to begin engaging with the student body is through the Innovation Lab, which will launch in the fall of 2020. Cross-disciplinary student teams will be created and trained in “design thinking,” a method to develop concepts and a common approach used in the workplace.

Companies will have the opportunity to bring problems to the Innovation Lab so students can put their liberal arts skills and creativity into practice, strategizing and coming up with solutions.

“I love how the Innovation Lab will give students studying the humanities or the arts or the social sciences an opportunity to translate what they are learning in their majors to a marketplace problem while learning how to collaborate on a team,” Assistant Professor of History and Dean of Curriculum and Advising Sarah Miglio said. Miglio’s role in CFI is to “advocate for the director’s team and find ways for CFI to collaborate with campus partners like [the] CVC.”

In addition to engaging with students, CFI hopes to continue working with faculty and staff at Wheaton. Several programs are in place to achieve this aim including CFI Scholars (a program that financially supports creating materials on vocation), the Vocation Seminar (a seminar designed to equip faculty and staff to mentor students in vocational development) and Lunch and Learn (an opportunity for vocational conversation over a meal). CFI also provides fellowships, conferences, and research grants to faculty members.

In an email to the WheatonCollege community, Provost Margaret Diddams said, “I look forward to the ways that our faculty and students will contribute to this renewed initiative to lead the national conversation on how Christian faith and theology should shape and inform our engagement with work and our vocational callings.”

BGC to become new headquarters for Global Diaspora Institute

04.14.19

By Micah McIntyre

On March 22, Wheaton College announced a partnership between the Billy Graham Center (BGC), the Global Diaspora Network (GDN) and Lausanne North America to form the Global Diaspora Institute, an organization committed to equipping the Global Church to engage with mass migration.

According to the World Migration Report, which was released at the end of 2018 by the International Organization for Migration, international migrants comprise about 3.3 percent of the world’s population. The number of displaced people also reached a record high in 2018 with about 40 million internally displaced peoples and over 22 million refugees.

The report’s findings figured prominently into the creation of the global Diaspora institute. BGC Executive Director Ed Stetzer believes that the Church should use this crisis to serve and interact with many unreached people groups across the world.

“We simply cannot deny the enormity of how God used the Diaspora to spread the work and message of the gospel. It’s at the front and center of our Christian history,” Stetzer said in a press release from Wheaton. “With hundreds of millions of people living and working outside their homeland today, many of them Christian, we have the opportunity to unveil creative ways to reach our world for Christ through those from many cultures and backgrounds.”

According to Wheaton’s press release, the Global Diaspora Institute will work to “equip, connect, resource and mobilize missional leaders in diaspora communities in North America and beyond and help churches in North America to engage with the diaspora and the Global Church.” Sam George, an accomplished missions worker, theologian and a Catalyst for Diasporas for the Lausanne Movement will be the program’s director. Through his work in regional and global diaspora consultations, his position as Catalyst for Diasporas facilitates more conversations around this topic.

Chairman of the Global Diaspora Network, T.V. Thomas told the Record that he believes Wheaton College and the BGC are a natural fit for the institute.

“Wheaton College is globally recognized for decades as one of the prominent citadels of evangelicalism I believe the BGC was established to highlight and reinforce the relationship of faith and practice in Christianity,” said Thomas. “Biblical orthodox convictions must undergird and promote the communication of the gospel to all people everywhere. This includes ‘the people on the move’ who are part of the unprecedented global migration from everywhere to everywhere.”

Junior Grace Gantz worked with refugees in Lesvos, Greece last summer. The community center she worked in was about five minutes away from a camp containing about 8,000 refugees. During the week refugee families were invited to play games, talk over tea and participate in Bible studies held for the various people groups that were represented. Gantz said that more than 70 people came to Christ by the time her program ended. She believes that American churches are not ministering to refugees as well as they could and that organizations like the GDI can play a huge role in preparing churches to reach immigrants.

“From what I have seen in America, individuals look at migrants as someone who is lesser than them because of their circumstances,” said Gantz. “There are so many vulnerable refugees in the area so I think if an organization like that did exist, there would be a lot of potential for the refugees to feel as if they belonged.”

Solidarity Cabinet Chair Jonathan Chen also believes that the Church needs to engage the migration crisis head on and hopes that organizations like the GDI can help churches to do so.

“Christians need to be informed about the migration crisis,” said Chen. “Obviously an organization devoted to supporting immigrants and refugees is extremely important because Christians are called to care for the migrant; it is a gospel priority.”

New faith and disability initiative partners with local schools, churches

By Melissa Schill

This week, the Ann Haskins Special Education Program at Wheaton College, an endowed program within the education department, launched The Faith and Disability Initiative. The initiative is a “disability discourse to empower disciple-making movements.” In a country where almost 20 percent of the population has a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, founder and Wheaton Professor of Special Education Thomas Boehm sees a pertinent need for increased exposure to and engagement with the disabled community.

The initiative’s overarching goal is twofold. First, “engaging the world through inclusive schooling and Biblical faith for the expanding of God’s family.” Second, “equipping the Church for inclusive ministry and schooling for the maturing of God’s family.” Whether at physical churches, Christian schools or Wheaton College, the initiative aims to provide support and resources that promote and enable engagement with disabled people in the community.

“It is the initiative’s function and mandate to collaboratively work institutionally,” Boehm said. The idea of founding an initiative like this came to Boehm while he was pursuing his doctorate in Special Education at Vanderbilt. After he was hired to teach at Wheaton in 2015, Boehm began working more seriously to make it happen.

The Faith and Disability Advisory Council was formed to serve as decentralized leadership for the initiative. The group will meet twice a year. It will include two Wheaton alumni who teach special education as well as three parents of individuals with disabilities. Over the next three years, Boehm hopes to grow the council to 15 members.

Through the council, Boehm hopes to make engagement with the disabled community easier. “I want to figure out how to serve, equip and empower existing infrastructure. I want to resource them,” Boehm said.

To launch the initiative, a private symposium was held March 27-29 for leaders working in fields involving faith and disability, including theologians, academics and practitioners.

The symposium provided materials that might equip attendees to better support disabled individuals. For example, 30 seven-minute lectures were filmed by the attendees. The lectures offer insight about the relevance of engaging the disabled community as well as practical means of doing so within specific fields of work. Boehm hopes to make the lectures accessible to faculty so that they can be used to educate students in a wide variety of disciplines.

Wheaton College currently offers an LBS1 Endorsement for education students through the Ann Haskins Special Education Program. Students in this program take 18 credit hours to get the endorsement which equips future educators with resources and strategies to serve all students.

Freshman Kiersten Anton decided to pursue her LBS1 Endorsement after being in class with special education students during high school. As an education major, she hopes to teach in a mixed classroom — a classroom in which disabled students and non-disabled students are taught together. “I am an advocate for mixed classrooms,” Anton said. “There is so much to learn from [individuals with disabilities].”

Freshman Audrey Irwin, another education major pursuing an LBS1 Endorsement, said that many schools and churches are making strides to a more mixed approach, “but there is still a lot of work to be done … It is so important for believers to engage with the special needs community because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and have so many incredible gifts,” Irwin said in an email exchange with the Record.

The Faith and Disability Initiative will serve to engage more students like Anton and Irwin in opportunities to work with disabled members of the local, national and international community.

“Wheaton invests a lot of time and energy and resources into building off ramps so students can go off campus to have all kinds of experiences … Any and every one of those experiences ought to have an opportunity where students can engage with individuals with disabilities,” Boehm said. “We should be cultivating partners where those kinds of experiences are normative.”

Alongside promoting social engagement for students, the initiative will also host informational engagement opportunities. “Engaging Autism — Honoring God,” a lecture by Dr. Grant Macaskill, Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and Director of the Centre for the Study of Autism and Christian Community, was held on March 26. It featured a piano performance from Judson student Daniel Bovell, an individual with autism, as well as a temporary art installment from the students at Clare Woods Academy, an organization committed to helping youth and adults with disabilities.

This event will be held annually to ensure that conversation on campus concerning engagement with individuals with disabilities continues.

Billy Graham Archives moving out of BGC

By Charles Hermesmann

On March 28, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) announced their request for Wheaton College to transfer Billy Graham’s papers and the BGEA organizational archives from the Billy Graham Center (BGC) Archives on Wheaton’s campus to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. Graham, a famous American evangelist and pastor who graduated from Wheaton in 1943, gave the college oral histories of the BGEA, crusade procedure books, news conferences, sermon transcripts, personal correspondences and other materials when the BGC was dedicated in 1980.

In a statement on their website, Graham’s son and president of the BGEA, Franklin Graham, said the decision was made to “continue consolidation in Billy Graham’s hometown.” According to the BGEA’s website, the papers were first given to Wheaton because a facility like the Billy Graham Library did not exist at the time. The transfer would be part of the BGEA’s efforts to centralize all archival information in one place.

Some Wheaton students were unhappy about the announcement. Freshman John Colson felt that Graham’s initial decision to entrust his papers to Wheaton College should not be overridden: “Dr. Graham … knew that we, as the institution that we are, would do the best job making these papers and materials accessible to anyone who might want to use them.”

Wheaton students and scholars from around the world have used the BGC Archives for research. Some are concerned that not being able to access the documents will hinder this work. “People enjoy his work and actually being able to access it firsthand,” said freshman Josh Denniston. “Not having those resources available … won’t maintain or cultivate the learning environment we have here at Wheaton.”

The Billy Graham Library, where the BGEA has requested to transfer the papers, was founded in 2007. On its website, the library is described as a ministry. At its dedication, Franklin Graham said, “It’s a tool for evangelism. And long after my father and mother are in heaven, people are going to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ because of the message they hear inside those doors.”

At the BGC’s dedication in Wheaton, Billy Graham said, “I hope and pray that the Billy Graham Center will be a world hub of inspiration, research and training that will glorify Christ and serve every church and organization in preaching and teaching the gospel to the world.” The BGEA helped fund the BGC’s initial construction.

In the BGEA’s statement regarding the transfer, Franklin Graham said, “We are grateful for the role Wheaton College played in my father’s life and for their ongoing commitment to the cause of evangelism — as well as for their partnership as these archives transition into a new era. We also thank Bob Shuster and Paul Ericksen for their professional care of the [BGC] Archives over several decades at Wheaton.” The BGEA declined to provide the Record with further comment.

Wheaton publicly responded to the announcement in an email confirming that, “college leaders are in communication with the BGEA regarding its planned consolidation.… Wheaton College affirms its longstanding respect for the BGEA and looks forward to continuing the positive relationship that the College and the BGEA have enjoyed for decades.”

Representatives from the BGC Archives declined to comment on the decision and instead pointed to the college’s statement. President Philip Ryken told the Record, “Billy Graham was a gift to the world, but he was also a gift to Wheaton College.… We remain committed to the ministry of evangelism synonymous with Billy Graham’s name, and also to providing world-class archives for the study of global outreach.”

The BGEA has not yet determined which papers will be available for public use upon their retention by the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. While in the BGC Archives’ possession, the papers were either open or closed depending on the date of their production. In Mar. 2018, the BGC Archives opened two of Graham’s collections that had been previously closed by the BGEA until his death, according to The Gospel Coalition. The collections include documents, such as letters to presidents, that will not be available for public access until 30 years after their production. Some are not to be opened until 75 years after the youngest document in the collection was produced.

In taking control of the documents, the BGEA would be able to regulate who accesses Billy Graham’s papers, letters and other materials and when they would be able to access them. The shift in control has raised some concerns elsewhere in academia

In a Religion News Service article, Messiah College professor of history John Fea said, “By taking the papers away from Wheaton, where access is open, Franklin Graham and the BGEA can… control the narrative of his father’s life in terms of who gets to read them. Evangelicals must come face to face with both the good side and the bad side of their history by taking an honest look at people like Billy Graham. I am not sure this will happen in Charlotte. The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte is not a library.”

In the college’s statement, Ryken assured the Wheaton community that even if the materials are consolidated, the BGC Archives will continue to house information on evangelism both in the U.S. and worldwide.

It is unclear exactly when the move will happen. For now, Billy Graham’s archives remain open to students and visiting scholars in the BGC until June 1 when the documents will begin preparation for transfer.

Annual Theology Conference brings authors, speakers to Wheaton

By Micah McIntyre

Today, Apr. 4, biblical scholars and theologians from around the world converge on the Billy Graham Center (BGC) for Wheaton’s 28th annual Theology Conference.

The conference is titled “Who Do You Say That I Am?’Why the Humanity of Jesus Matters.” The goal of the conference is to better define the relationship between Jesus’ humanity and saving faith. According to the description of the conference on Wheaton’s website, 12 speakers will each explore “how the reality of the Incarnation challenges and redeems our broken social structures, including racial and ethnic divisions, economic systems and sexuality.”

Last year’s conference brought in the second most attendees in the conference’s history when Marilynne Robinson came to discuss her book, “Gilead.” This year, Office Administrator and Conference Coordinator Krista Sanchez expects there to be about 75 registered attendees from outside of campus and a couple hundred members in total when combined with Wheaton faculty and students.

Fleming Rutledge, one of the first women ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church, is a keynote speaker this year. Student workers and conference committee members expect her lecture to draw in the most people.  

“I am especially looking forward to hearing [her] give a lecture on Thursday evening and preach in Friday’s chapel,” said Caroline Lauber, one of the student coordinators for the conference. “She has been one of the most important and influential preachers in the U.S. in the last four decades. We are fortunate to have her on campus to speak to students, faculty and the greater Wheaton community.”

Not only is Rutledge a premier preacher in the United States, she is also recognized around Canada and the UK as an accomplished teacher and Old Testament scholar. She has published numerous books that deal with the intersection of theology and modern culture. The faculty and administration believe that her contributions to the conference will aid in communicating a message that they feel needs to be shared.

Dean of Biblical and Theological Studies and the Conference Committee Chair, David Capes, proposed the theme to the administration because he and his colleagues feel that the humanity of Jesus is overlooked in the church today.

“There are a lot of evangelicals that have a sense of the divinity of Jesus that trumps his humanity,” said Capes. “A part of what we wanted to do was to address that failure or fault I think that a lot evangelicals have.”

Capes feels that the subject of Jesus’ humanity has many implications for the way Christians live out their faith and confront major issues. To help evangelicals better understand the incarnation, he and the other faculty chair of the Conference Committee and Professor of Theology, George Kalantzis, brought in speakers with different areas of expertise. There are a number of New Testament scholars, as well as scholars in Christian art, who will explore various aspects of Jesus’ humanity. There will also be speakers who focus more on culturally relevant applications of the topic.

“We have two scholars coming from South America who are working on a project … dealing with migration patterns and displaced people. [We want to ask,] what does the humanity of Jesus say to displaced people,” explained Capes. “We’re going to have a variety of people coming in and addressing various issues. It could be endless — what does the humanity of Jesus say about how we treat our planet? We could add chapter after chapter … dealing with contemporary issues.”

Student workers who have been involved in promotion and advertising are excited to explore a topic that they feel is relevant.

“If we neglect the humanity of Jesus, we have a diminished view of the the salvation that he achieves,” said Lauber. “This conference is a wonderful opportunity to explore and emphasize this topic.”

But for Lauber and Capes, this conference is not only for scholars and theologians.

“We do this for the students,” said Case. “People will come in from the community to hear Fleming Rutledge and Ryan Daley and some of the other speakers, but we primarily do this to enrich the lives of our students.”

“I want to encourage students to attend because they will hear outstanding theologians and biblical scholars on these topics,” said Provost Margaret Diddams. “I would like students to take advantage of all the opportunities that they can for biblical and theological literacy while they are here at Wheaton.”

Lauber believes that students need to take advantage of the opportunity to attend such timely lectures and hear nationally recognized speakers.

“We are not only able to hear some of our own professors, we are also able to hear people who are leaders in the academy and the church,” said Lauber. When else will you have another opportunity to listen to amazing theologians speak on the humanity of Jesus for free?”

Wheaton establishes new chair of world religions

By Melissa Schill

To better equip students to engage with the world’s diverse array of religions, Wheaton College has established an Endowed Chair of World Religions. Funded by the gift of an anonymous donor, the position will be housed in the Bible and Theology department.

“The funding of this chair will allow us to bring in an internationally known scholar into this position, which will allow Wheaton to be at the forefront of the conversation of understanding world religions, and especially from our position of an evangelical understanding,” Provost Margaret Diddams said.

Once the position is filled, Biblical and Theological Studies majors will be required to take two to four credit hours in either world religions or archaeology. Other majors will also have the opportunity to take classes in world religions.

“We offer electives now in world religions … but I think the fact that now we have someone dedicated to world religions is going to mean that we can offer more of those courses and make them a higher profile for our students,” Dean of Biblical and Theological Studies David Capes said. “As Wheaton students think about the world they’re stepping into, where all these religions are present, they need to have some sort of working intelligent knowledge of them.”

Wheaton once offered a major in world religions. Anthropology professor Brian Howell, who began teaching at Wheaton in 2001 when the program was offered, said it was a difficult program to support in isolation. “I’m very hopeful that this time we can be more intentional about supporting [the study of world religion] from places like anthropology so that there is more of a well coordinated support [system],” Howell said.

Regardless of whether a student’s major directly corresponds to world religion studies or not, Capes and Howell agree that understanding religious traditions around the globe is pertinent for every student in our day and age.

“The world is more integrated than ever,” Howell said. “Being able to speak well with people of different theological backgrounds but also having the intercultural competence to understand how religion and culture are intersecting is going to be very important for Wheaton students and for everybody as they live in this increasingly complex world.”

Sophomore Anna Cole pursues her interest in religiosity through participation in the informal campus group, Benedictine-Wheaton Interfaith Conversations. A group of students meets with Muslim students from Benedictine University to “build friendships, learn about each others’ faiths and practice authentic Christian witness,” according to Cole.

“Jesus very clearly calls us to love our neighbor,” Cole said in an email exchange with the Record. “This is very difficult to do if we don’t know anything about our neighbor.”

A committee will be formed later this spring and the official search for candidates will begin in the fall of 2019 for the new endowed chair. According to Capes, the committee is looking for a candidate well known in the field of world religions studies who has made contributions to publications and can represent other religions fairly. Capes hopes to have the position filled by fall of 2020.

“We’re looking for a scholar for whom [world religions] is their interest, but for whom their own faith commitment — evangelical protestant commitment — is deeply held,” Diddams said. “That will make this position unique compared to where you see this at other institutions.”