A Primer for Wheaton College Constituents
This document serves Wheaton College trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other interested parties by summarizing our institutional commitments in one place.
Wheaton’s theological commitments are defined by our Statement of Faith—a concise evangelical, reformational doctrinal statement that expresses the personal convictions of our trustees, administrators, faculty, and staff. Although students do not sign the Statement of Faith, they are required to express their personal faith in Jesus Christ during the admissions process. Our goal is to teach every student biblical truth in ways that deepen their faith commitment to Jesus Christ and provide a foundation for a lifetime of service to the kingdom of God.
The College’s moral standards are defined by our Community Covenant—the set of promises that all students, faculty, and staff make to one another before God for how we will live out our Christian commitments in our residential campus community. The Community Covenant is more than a code of conduct. It states what we believe the Bible teaches about God-honoring conduct, specifies ethical standards that are non-negotiable for faithful Christians, and clarifies the commitments our community makes in areas of Christian liberty.
Wheaton’s unique educational mission is to build the church and benefit society worldwide through excellence in whole-person education. Especially as a liberal arts school, our unique calling has always been to teach our students how to think, not simply what to think. Our commitment to this form of education was expressed well in the College Catalog of 1877-78: “Free discussion is encouraged in all these studies, and students are not expected to adopt without question the views of either textbook or teacher, but to think for themselves.” This is how we state our “Educational Purpose” today: “Committed to the principle that truth is revealed by God through Christ ‘in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,’ Wheaton College seeks to relate Christian liberal arts education to the needs of contemporary society—to combine faith and learning to produce a biblical perspective needed to relate Christian experience to the demands of those needs.”
Wheaton’s general education curriculum – Christ at the Core – prepares students for a lifetime of discovering truth through the exploration, reflection, connection, and implementation of knowledge. Christ at the Core provides a framework of biblical and academic knowledge and intellectual skills across disciplines that prepares them to fulfill their full range of future callings within the kingdom of God. We invite students to learn from the full range of liberal arts disciplines as well as to go deeper in the academic major(s) they choose, all under the guidance of faculty who devote a lifetime to developing expertise in their field(s) of study in Christian perspective. The intellectual habits and moral virtues we cultivate are expressed clearly in our Vision Statement: knowledge and reason, Christian character, love, practical wisdom, and beloved community.
The Wheaton College Graduate School offers master’s and doctoral degree programs in the areas of psychology, education, ministry, leadership, Bible, and theology. Each program is designed to provide excellent training in theory and practice from a distinctly Christian perspective. The Graduate School’s mission is “to form servant scholars and leaders through exceptional graduate programs for Christ and His Kingdom,” with a vision of seeing God “transform the world through scholars and practitioners rooted in Christ and equipped for global leadership.”
As a required part of Wheaton’s undergraduate experience, the purpose of chapel worship is to promote authentic Christian discipleship through singing God’s praises, reading and teaching sacred Scripture, praying for the needs of our campus and the wider world, and sharing testimonies of God’s grace at work on our campus and through the global church. Unlike the classroom and the lecture hall, where students and faculty often engage contrary perspectives from the vantage point of evangelical orthodoxy, all internal and external chapel speakers are requested and directed to be fully in accordance with Wheaton’s Statement of Faith and Community Covenant. As much as possible, the content shared by student participants is vetted beforehand by the Chaplain’s Office.
The College hires faculty for its educational mission through a rigorous process that evaluates final candidates not only in their academic expertise, classroom instruction, and scholarly research, but also in their personal Christian testimony, understanding of the liberal arts, progress in the integration of faith and learning, understanding of kingdom diversity, and moral and theological commitments in areas such as Scripture, creation, atonement, evangelism, and human sexuality. The process includes a complete file review by the President, two days of on-campus interviews with the academic department, the Provost, and the Faculty Personnel Committee for missional fit, and final approval by the Board of Trustees on the basis of a complete review of each candidate’s file.
In its doctrine, ethics, and educational mission, Wheaton College represents the full breadth of evangelical orthodoxy. Members of our campus community come from many different evangelical traditions in the United States and around the world, and thus constantly encounter differing points of view—not simply in areas of theology where we agree to disagree, but also in relationship to the wider culture. We seek to cultivate a theologically balanced campus climate where differing viewpoints are heard and respected, where civil disagreement is welcomed and encouraged, where rigorous dialogue is part of the learning experience, and where all knowledge is tested according to the truth of Scripture.
With respect to electoral politics, Wheaton College is a deliberately non-partisan institution. This is both for missional purposes and legal reasons. Within the evangelical community—both domestically and internationally—we encompass a spectrum of political perspectives. The College’s moral commitments on the sanctity of life, human sexuality, ethnic diversity, racial unity, justice, poverty, and stewardship intersect with politics complexly, not simplistically, especially in a two-party system. We invite our campus community to examine diverse perspectives in the light of Scripture, to listen well to others, and to discuss political views with Christian charity.
The most important reference point for understanding Wheaton’s perspective on race, ethnicity, and the gospel is our Christ-Centered Diversity Commitment. This institutional commitment grounds each of its main points in relevant Scripture; expresses a kingdom perspective rather than a secular viewpoint; affirms our hopes as well as acknowledges our shortcomings; and places equal emphasis on diversity, inclusion, justice, and unity. Every member of our covenant community makes a personal commitment to pursue unity and embrace ethnic diversity as part of God’s design for humanity and to practice racial reconciliation as one of God’s redemptive purposes in Christ. This commitment calls us to listen well to others and to lean into challenging conversations rather than to avoid them.
The most important reference point for understanding Wheaton’s perspective on gender equality is Wheaton’s Gender Equity Vision Statement. This institutional statement provides a biblical framework for understanding gender in the body of Christ; affirms our hopes as well as acknowledges our shortcomings; allows latitude for different perspectives within the evangelical community; and clarifies our shared commitment to the full equality of men and women as image bearers of God and mutual partners in our kingdom mission.
An excellent reference point for understanding the College’s perspective on human sexuality is Wheaton College’s Convictions Regarding Human Sexuality. In addition, an administrative resource document entitled “A Biblical and Theological Perspective on Human Sexuality” (available upon request) expands on the moral commitments we make in our Community Covenant and provides a biblical and theological perspective for policies such as our “Gender Identity Policy” and for community groups such as Refuge.
For further information about how Wheaton addresses important topics in the classroom, see our divisional or institutional statements on “How We Approach the Bible” (available upon request), The Natural Sciences at Wheaton College, and Teaching About Gender Roles.
As in all human institutions, members of our campus community often fall short. The College is committed to faithfully maintaining its theological, moral, and educational standards and has effective and principled processes for hearing and addressing concerns about the words and conduct of its faculty, staff, students, and administrators, both inside and outside the classroom. Rather than talking to people outside the College about their concerns—which may spread inaccurate information or take facts out of context—concerned constituents are encouraged to speak directly with the appropriate department chair, dean, or director (contact information available upon request). Only in this way does the College have an opportunity to address a situation fairly and truthfully.
As an expression of Christian unity, we invite all alumni, parents, and other kingdom-minded Christians to support the mission of Wheaton College through their prayers, advocacy, and financial giving. As the situation dictates, we will defend the College and its members from false accusations or unfair attacks and encourage concerned constituents to see and support the good work that God continues to do for Christ and His Kingdom through Wheaton College. But we are always willing to hear thoughtful concerns, which we will seek to address in truth and love.
*Documents in quotes are available from the President’s Office upon request