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March 2007 CACE eJournal

A Healthy Debate

There is a debate brewing within the Christian household of faith. Although some in-house arguments should be kept under wraps, I believe that this important topic should be openly discussed. Two weeks ago some two dozen conservative Christian leaders, including Dr. James Dobson, sent a letter to the leadership of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) expressing concern about public comments by their Vice-President, Richard Cizik, and urging that Mr. Cizik reconsider his remarks or be compelled to resign from office. The authors of the letter believe that Cizik’s attention to the issue of creation care, especially global warming, is displacing proper attention to other, more pressing moral issues. Growing evangelical concern about the environment (and other issues such as fighting HIV/AIDS, poverty, the war in Iraq , immigration) is, according to the letter’s authors, distracting evangelical commitment to the more important moral issues of “the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children.” NAE leaders have responded that evangelical Christians should not limit themselves to these topics, but rather should be addressing a wide range of issues.

At an evangelical college like Wheaton we recognize that each of our academic disciplines (whether they are in the natural sciences, the humanities, the social sciences, the arts, etc.) poses specific ethical challenges for faithful followers of Jesus Christ. We strive to use our best thinking, resources, and energies to respond to these challenges. Nevertheless, certain questions remain. Should Christians concentrate on a few major issues or should we be concerned about a wide array of subjects? What are the most important moral issues of our day? How do we order and prioritize our multiple concerns about a broken world? What are the most effective ways to address these problems? I believe that we will be better disciples of Jesus if we intentionally respond to these questions through open dialogue.

Healthy debate, however, has some basic ground rules. Positions must not be misrepresented (constructing a “straw-man” distorted position of your opponent, then tearing it down, does not advance growth nor mutual respect); there appears to have been some overheated rhetoric on all sides of this recent debate. We should strive to find common ground where it can be found, but also defend our deepest convictions where we must. Each one of us needs to let go of our personal pride and to desire to see our God better represented by all Christians. As the Body of Christ, we should aim for our priorities to be shaped by the whole counsel of God in Scripture, aiming to have our concerns mirror God’s concerns. Most importantly, may all that we do and say be worthy of our Lord Jesus.

You are encouraged to participate in this debate by sending us your opinions. We will try to post many of them on our webpage. Email CACE at CACE@wheaton.edu.

Your brother in Christ,

Lindy Scott
Director of CACE

Upcoming Events:

Friday, March 16

Co-Sponsored with the Philosophy Department

"The Globe & The Icon: On the Possibilities of Biblical Cosmopolitanism in a Global Age." Joshua J. Yates, University of Virginia
Friday, March 16, 2007, 3:30 pm, Kresge Room, of Edman Chapel

All events are free and open to the public.