Anxious Debate and a Thinking Response

ImageWhen I was a student at Wheaton College I, and all other students, were subject to “thePledge.” That is, we had to agree to follow the “Fundamentalist Five,” which were no drinking alcoholic beverages, no smoking tobacco (that there were other things one could smoke was just starting to dawn on the evangelical world), no use of playing cards, no going to the theater, including motion pictures, and no dancing. Neither my wife (whom I met there) nor I had problems with “the Pledge,” for that in general had been our lifestyle before Wheaton, the difference being that my family had seen those rules as culturally relative and thus not as absolute (we had, for example, made an abortive attempt to see The Ten Commandments in a drive-in theater, abortive because we left part of the way through due to torrential rain; my father would drink wine in France while on business trips, since teetotalism was not part of the Christian culture there), and Judy’s had seen them as absolutes. But in the view of our churches those who did those things were probably “not Christians,” including many mainline followers of Jesus. While never said officially in so many words, this atmosphere pervaded Wheaton, These were the boundary markers of “the faith.” However, even then there were signs of some breakdown: no less a fundamentalist than Bob Jones (I am not sure whether Sr. or Jr.) reportedly said of C. S. Lewis, “That man drinks liquor, and smokes tobaccah [so pronounced], but I do believe that he is saved.” Continue reading

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