Saturday, January 23, 2016

Darrell Bock on the Wheaton controversy

Darrell Bock, a theology professor at Dallas Theological Seminary who sits on Wheaton’s 17-member board of trustees, said that Hawkins’s refusal to speak further about theological issues has made it “very, very difficult.” He declined to speak on the theological issues at stake, saying it had turned into a personnel matter.

“What really tied the school’s hands was she stopped talking,” Bock said. “It was unfortunate in many ways because I think they were in a process that could’ve made progress.”


  1. Gee, why would she stop talking?

    “I don’t want to be subjected to a theological inquisition.”

    Not a normal conversation, to put it mildly. She must've seen that further talking would just be a fishing expedition for them to find enough rope to hang her (if I can mix metaphors). (Ala Steve Hays, a few posts back, scraping to find something heretical in her meager statements, but finding only hints of opinions typical of an evangelical Democrat.)

    When they go into prosecutor mode, it makes perfect sense for her to go into defense mode.

    "Several Wheaton professors have openly questioned whether Hawkins should have to continue defending herself after submitting a theological statement.

    “I think there needs to be a point at which the college has to say, ‘Yes, your theological statement is approved,’ or ‘No, it isn’t and you’re fired,’” said anthropology professor Brian Howell. “There can’t be something like, ‘Say it another way.’ If tenure is something real, then there is a trust.”"

    Well said.

    1. Gee, why would a unitarian (Dale Tuggy) defend a woman who says unitarians (Muslims) worship the one true God?

    2. No, I didn't scrape to find something heretical in her public statements. Rather, attention has been given to a sentence or two. What I did was to put some of her statements in context by comparing them to other statements she made.

  2. I should say that her own statements in which she insinuates that her critics are "senators from Texas" and "bigots and fundamentalists" are sufficiently problematic and show that _she_ is the one dragging politics into the matter and setting herself in sneering opposition to the school.

    Not to mention the fact that it really casts doubt upon the laser sharpness of her thinking on this matter that she doesn't sound like she can keep straight the difference between some kind of common _humanity_ and worshiping the _same God_. After all, she shares a common _humanity_ with Satan worshipers and Wiccans as well. Her statements smack of shallow and fuzzy-headed thinking in terms of slogans like "solidarity," "sisters," "feeling safe," etc. If all of this makes people wonder if she should have been hired at Wheaton in the first place, this seems perfectly legitimate to me.

    1. It also doesn't help her situation when she holds these public rallies flanked by Jesse Jackson and representatives of CAIR. For a polisci prof., she's blind to the optics of the setting.

      Her concern for victims of "bigotry" is on the same level as the Bernstein's hosting the Black Panthers, classically lampooned by Tom Wolfe. All for show. Self-congratulatory gestures that help no one. Adopting a pet social mascot while ignoring real injustice. Not about doing good but looking good.

  3. "_she_ is the one dragging politics into the matter"

    In my view, politics were already a concern of the other side. But comments like that, and having your picture taken with Jesse Jackson - these are mere breaches of manners by a liberal Democrat working at a very Republican school.

    Most would agree that a Christian institution, as such, should have no *political* test for working there, and should tolerate different political views and activities - within obvious moral and theological boundaries, of course.

    Perhaps I'm just more sympathetic than the two of you, having worked for a long time as a non-Democrat in a place where being a liberal Democrat is just assumed as something that all good people agree on. It's easy for me to imagine the shoe being on the other foot.

    I enjoyed Lydia's recent piece on all of this - talking about it on the podcast later.

    God bless,

    1. You're more sympathetic to someone (Hawkins) who says nice things about the piety of unitarians (Muslims), being a unitarian yourself.

    2. Dale, the idea of a secular school is supposed to be that they're neutral. Now we may all know this is kind of a joke nowadays. They're not neutral.

      But the _idea_ is far different for a Christian school, which is _supposed_ to have a distinctive identity.

      Hawkins gives the strong impression of hating her school's identity, sneering at them, thinking she's better morally than they are.

      It's all very well for Mike Adams to take that kind of adversarial position toward the UNC administrators as a bunch of liberal totalitarians. Of course I enjoy watching him do that.

      It's quite a different matter when a professor is doing it toward a confessional school. That really gives the impression of (forgive the metaphor) giving the finger to the self-identity of a school that is self-consciously organized around its self-identity. It's more than bad manners. It's a legitimate ground for questioning the person's continued employability at that school.

      I suppose the nearest equivalent I can think of on the liberal side would be, I dunno, a Wiccan college or something. A Christian somehow slips in under the radar, gets hired there, and then starts mouthing off loudly about how this is a bunch of left-wing bigoted witches trying to get him fired. It just doesn't make sense. If you want to work there, then you don't do that kind of thing.

  4. Yes, a place like Wheaton is supposed to have a distinctive *religious* identity. Are you assuming that any real Christian is going to be firmly on the Right side in all or most culture wars?

    Re: the perceived hating, sense of superiority, etc. I don't know her, and don't know her real attitudes. But one would expect their odd and hostile treatment of her to elicit frustration at the very least. (e.g. the suggestion of undoing her tenure and putting her on a sort of probation - *for an ambiguous, un-evangelical-PC Facebook post!*) There was also a weird history there, e.g. her having to defend herself after a picture of her at a party, etc. I think it's a little over the top to suggest that she's riling them on purpose, because she doesn't want to be there. On the face of it, she tried to placate them, but then saw that just was not going to happen.

    Remember, at no time did she, or any Wheaton faculty, promise to not be a Democrat, or to have a generally lefty political outlook. I realize that, feeling persecuted, many have an instinct to turn around on the lefties the persecutions they so gladly hand out in secular institutions. I think it shouldn't be done, though.

    1. Dale, you know as well as I do that there is significant entanglement in our country between "culture war" issues and a school's religious identity. I know for a fact that Wheaton takes an explicit position against homosexual practice, for example. And in fact what you have referred to as an "inquisition" elsewhere against Hawkins has in part concerned reason to think she is opposed to the school's position on this very issue.

      It would be a little surprising to find someone "being a Democrat" (to use the phrase you keep using) and, in 2016, unequivocally affirming that homosexual practice is immoral and homosexual "marriage" wrong. That's a choice the Democratic party has made. You can talk to them about it. It isn't something made up by a bunch of witch-burning fundamentalists.

  5. It's worth asking when or where Dr. Hawkins has said a single thing that would indicate *theological* conservatism on her part, in keeping with the Wheaton institutional identity. Has she said, "I believe that it's very important to bring people to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior"? Has she ever said, "I believe salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone"? Has she ever said, "I wholeheartedly affirm that Jesus is God and that salvation is through his name"? Or anything like that.

    To the contrary, one gets the very distinct impression that a) Hawkins doesn't care much about theology and isn't very good at it and b) Hawkins virtually identifies the gospel with her own brand of left-wing politics.

    Why at this point the presumption should be that she is some kind of theological evangelical a la Wheaton and that there is a _separation_ between theology and politics in her thought is really quite beyond me.