Chiseled in stone above the doors to the main building of a premier university are these words: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” What might this statement mean to the thousands of daily passersby? Is it a call toward worthwhile academic pursuits, an inspirational goal, or just a sentiment to live by? Or would passersby know that these were Jesus’ words, as he spoke promises to those who believed in him and continued in his word (John 8:32)?
Chiseled in the cornerstone of Blanchard Hall, Wheaton’s main building, are the words “For Christ and His Kingdom.” Passersby who know something about Wheaton likely recognize this as the expression of the College’s ongoing mission, vision, and identity.
Every Wheaton magazine demonstrates this commitment to the integration of faith and learning. In this issue is an article (p. 6) about an on-campus exhibit displaying original letters written by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the noted philosopher-theologian and prominent figure of the Great Awakening.1 Edwards had a brilliant mind, entering Yale in 1716 when he was not yet thirteen and graduating four years later as valedictorian. For a short while before his death, he was president of Princeton University. “Truth, in the general,” he wrote, “may be defined after the most strict and metaphysical manner: ‘the consistency and agreement of our ideas with the ideas of God.’”2
Moving from the topic of truth in the 18th century to that in the 21st, read a Chapel address by Wheaton alumnus Todd Komarnicki ’87, an acclaimed novelist, producer, and director of film and television (pp. 58-59):
Remember [God’s] promises. They’ve outlived every generation and they still clap out like thunder with their truth. . . .
If we dare to believe Romans 8:28, “All things lead together for good to those that love God”;
1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect
love drives out fear”;
and Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?—then we are free.
Passersby might look at what has been revealed yet not see it—or even reject it. “What is truth?” Pilate asked when Truth incarnate stood before him. Judging and dismissing Jesus, he passed him by, in the end choosing bondage over freedom.
Whether emblazoned across the façade of a building or etched into our hearts and minds, ultimate truth cannot be known apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, through the work of the Spirit and the Word in our lives. Trusting in his promises frees us to serve. And serving Christ and his kingdom is not for mere passersby.
Georgia I. Douglass '70, M.A. '94
1Editor’s note: Find information on Jonathan Edwards’ thought and ministry in the several books written or coedited by Wheaton alumnus Douglas A. Sweeney ’87, chair and professor of church history and the history of Christian thought, and director of the Jonathan Edwards Center, at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Forthcoming from Oxford University Press is another of his books that deals with Edwards’ view of the relationship between
reason and revelation: Edwards the Exegete: Biblical Interpretation and Anglo-Protestant Culture on the Edge of the Enlightenment.
2Jonathan Edwards, “The Mind,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 6, Scientific and Philosophical Writings, ed. Wallace E. Anderson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980, 341-42).