Tag Archive | "Indiana Wesleyan University"

What do Wesleyans believe about creation?

The recent controversy over a Gungor performance may have put the conflict over creation on the front page, but the conversation has been going on for much longer at Indiana Wesleyan University and in evangelical Christian circles.

In fact, the Office of the Dean of the Chapel asked IWU science faculty months ago to lead a week-long chapel series on creation, beginning Oct. 20.

A view of God's creation from the mountains of Golden, Colo. // Photo taken by Hannah Whelchel

A view of God’s creation from the mountains of Golden, Colo. // Photo taken by Hannah Whelchel

While many Wesleyans would profess a six-day creation, it is not necessary for acceptance into the Wesleyan Church.

Wesley Seminary Dean Dr. Ken Schenck said Wesleyan theology accepts a variety of stances on creation.

“It’s important to believe that the Bible is inspired; the Bible is not a mistake. It’s important to believe that God directed, however it happened, but the Wesleyan Church doesn’t have an official statement saying you can’t believe in theistic evolution or you have to believe these were 24-hour days,” Schenck said.

“We believe the Bible is inspired, the text is not an error, but we allow for some spectrum of interpretations of Genesis,” he said.

The Articles of Religion for the Wesleyan Church states that God is “Creator and Preserver of all things” as well as “the Source of all that exists, whether of matter or spirit.”

The absence of a definite Wesleyan theology on the “how” of creation allows students the freedom and comfort of retaining the views of their specific denomination, while unifying the church in the truths they hold as foundational.

“Indiana Wesleyan is a place that is very friendly to literal six-day creationists. In fact, most of our students would agree with them,” Schenck said. “But we aren’t going to kick out anyone for believing otherwise.”

The Sojourn conducted a poll of 150 students at McConn and Baldwin, asking if students believed in a literal, six-day creation, a different method of creation or if they were undecided.

Fifty-one percent of those polled stated that they believe in a literal reading of the beginning of Genesis — six, 24-hour days of creation and one day of rest.

“I believe in a Young Earth creation because when you look at scientific evidence on both sides of the issue, there is no ‘proof’ of evolution that has not been refuted properly and sufficiently,” John Mason (fr) said. “The Old Earth perspective and the theistic evolutionist perspective stretches Biblical Hebrew much too far for my comfort.”

Of the remaining students, 19 percent do not believe in a literal reading of Genesis and 30 percent chose the third option – that they are still pondering the question or have decided that the specifics of creation aren’t as important to their personal faith as the truth that God created everything.

While not all of the students at IWU are Wesleyan, the freedom that the church doctrine allows can present a challenge for Bible and Natural Science professors when teaching Genesis and creation.

Professor of Biblical Studies Dr. Stephen Lennox aims to unite his students, showing them that neither a six-day creationist view or a theistic evolution view is unchristian or impossible to be supported biblically.

“My main goal is to try to say, ‘Where do we draw the line?’ in terms of what’s an acceptable and an unacceptable view,” Lennox said, “then to help students understand that the argument is really a family argument.”

According to Lennox, by showing his students the metaphorical nature of books like Psalms and encouraging them to read the text in its ancient cultural context, he hopes to show them “people who don’t hold a highly literal view aren’t denying the authority of Scripture, and there may be other ways to embrace the authority of Scripture other than taking a highly literal view of it.”

This disagreement between denominations is something IWU faculty have also encountered.

“We have some professors who would believe in a very literal Genesis [creation], and we have some professors who would believe that God directed the process of evolution,” Schenck said.

Other colleges, such as Cedarville or Liberty University, have their faculty sign a doctrine of faith or hold a statement professing a belief in a six-day creation. Bryan College recently lost nine faculty members over enforcing a more literal doctrine.

According to Lennox, IWU has a more cooperative approach to the diversity held in creation beliefs.

“I think what [professors] share in common is not to dismiss–not to dechristianize each other–because they all believe in the Bible,” he said.

In the book “Common Ground,” written by Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy Keith Drury, he emphasizes what Christians must believe about creation.

“Christians insist on rejecting any theory of creation that leaves God out, but we are open to discussing any theory that confesses God as Creator,” writes Drury.  “How he created is interesting but is not relevant to our core faith.”

Stephen Conrad, Associate Professor of Biology, uses similar methods to Lennox as he teaches about creation. He brings up many different theories, all rooted in the creator, such as Literal Creation, Progressive Creation, Theistic Evolution, and Historical Creationism.

“We talk about what the different views say, the big proponents of each one, what you’ll have to reconcile with each one, and whether or not they are compatible with naturalistic science,” Conrad said.

While he presents a wide range of ideas, he maintains that none of them are completely secular.

“None of them are compatible with naturalistic science. Because naturalistic science says there’s no God. And we’re starting with a God,” Conrad said.

He hopes through the presentation of multiple theories, instead of one concrete answer, his students are challenged to develop their own faith.

“This is definitely something that everybody needs to wrestle with. Everybody needs to come up with an answer on their own,” Conrad said. “I think that’s the way to do this discussion is to make sure that students know that it is a bit controversial and it is something that you need to figure out on your own.”

However, like Drury, he recognizes that this is not the most important question.

“Ultimately how I leave it is: it’s great to think about, it’s great to debate, but the real question you want to get right is not, ‘How did God create the earth?’ but ‘Who is Jesus and what did he do for you?” Conrad said.

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Michael W. Smith Homecoming Concert Photos

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Wildcats erupt for 5-goal win against Marian

Fans bundled up in coats and blankets as they cheered the Indiana Wesleyan University men’s soccer team to a 5-0 victory against the Marian University Knights.

Tyrone Martin gets tangled up with a Marian player.

Tyrone Martin (sr) gets tangled up with a Marian player.

The first ten minutes of the game consisted of several shots on goal by the Wildcats, leading to a goal by Keaton Albert (jr).

The Wildcats poured it on with two more goals in the first half, one by Seth Kintigh (jr) with an assist from Evan Young (so). The third goal of the half was scored by Corey Lopez (jr), who has scored in each game he has played against Marian in his career.

“[Lopez and Tyrone Martin (sr)] were really dangerous in the first half,” said Head Coach Mark Castro.

About 15 minutes into the second half, a foul was called on Marian within the goalie box. Goalkeeper Josh Goepper (jr) ran all the way across the field to attempt the penalty kick and scored his first collegiate goal.

A few minutes later, Caleb Denlinger (so) scored the final goal of the game.

Corey Lopez (jr) scored his 7th goal of the year against Marian.

Corey Lopez (jr) scored his 7th goal of the year against Marian.

“Going into the game, we got the stat report on Marian so we knew what their system was,” said Castro. “So we created our system to counteract and we knew where their weaknesses were.”

Because of the huge lead towards the end of the game, Castro was able to put in his bench players who usually do not get very much playing time.

“I was pretty happy with the guys coming off the bench,” Castro said. “I thought that their quality really shined.”

The Wildcats improved to 10-1 and have won eight straight games. Their next game is Wednesday Oct. 8 against rival Taylor University.


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“An Evening with Luther Lee”: the biggest thing since Chick-fil-A

IWU's Globe Theatre, where Bence will portray Wesleyan co-founder, Luther Lee. // Photo by Hannah Whelchel

IWU’s Globe Theatre, where Bence will portray Wesleyan co-founder, Luther Lee. // Photo by Hannah Whelchel

“Why Luther Lee? He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page,” Dr. Rusty Hawkins, associate professor of humanities and history, prompted. “Why this ‘Evening with Luther Lee’?”

“An Evening with Luther Lee” is an event occurring 7-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, in the Globe Theatre, in order to introduce the Luther Lee Lecture Series. The series starts this spring and will continue “from here until eternity,” according to Hawkins.

The John Wesley Honors College and Global Engagement Office partnered together to make this lecture series possible, Hawkins said. While naming the series, it occurred to them that “no one knows who Luther Lee is.”

Hence, “An Evening with Luther Lee” — a dramatic performance by Dr. Bud Bence, emeritus professor of church history at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Lee was a 19th century abolitionist, radical women’s feminist and one of the founders of the Wesleyan denomination. He preached the ordination sermon for the first female pastor in the United States, Hawkins said, and he also helped out with the Underground Railroad. He was committed to the idea of social equality across class.

“Luther Lee is this perfect kind of figure for talking about ideas of race, class and gender,” Hawkins said.

Bence will be portraying Lee for the first half of the performance, talking about Lee’s life and times, and then taking questions from the audience for the second half. This will be the third time Bence has performed as Lee.

His first performance as a historical character was 25 years ago in a class he taught. He played the apostle Paul.

“It had quite a reputation,” Bence said, “because I walked in dressed as I am now, and removed some of my clothing, enough that the students were getting worried, and then switched to my apostle Paul costume. … I taught it at 7:50 in the morning, and I had to wake them up one way or another.”

Through his dialogue on Luther Lee, Bence plans on raising questions, such as, “Is there some higher law than the laws of government? Or the laws of society? Are there places to use the words in the Bible, ‘We must obey God rather than humans’?”

Bence sees Lee as a great way of introducing students to the issues of today, like human trafficking and women’s rights.

“That’s what I hope this evening will be,” Bence said. “It’s not just a story. … [It asks the question of what] it means to be a pioneer, to be an advocate for justice, and how do you go about doing that?”

“I’m hoping that [the lecture series] will give the idea that a Christian college can be at the cutting edge of issues of social justice, where typically Christians are conservative,” Bence said. “I’d like to see students who could be a little bit radical where they see injustice.”

The purpose of the Luther Lee series in the spring “is to bring in an outside expert who can talk about race, class, gender, and the Christian faith,” Hawkins said. “It’s a lecture series that’s really based on trying to bring reconciliation to our community, and so we’re actually going to focus on lines in which we’re divided, so race, class, gender, and then talk about how Christianity calls us to overcome those lines.”

This spring’s speaker will be Christena Cleveland, a social psychologist at Bethel University in Minnesota. She will speak in chapel and have a lecture that same evening.

In the future, Hawkins hopes to record Bence’s performance and play it over a 3-minute documentary on Lee’s life. Students can watch this documentary before the Luther Lee lectures in chapel so that they understand why the series is named after him.

“Everyone is cordially invited to this event, [‘An Evening with Luther Lee’],” Hawkins said, “but you want to get there early, because there are only 200 seats in Globe Theatre and this is going to be huge. This might be the biggest deal on campus since, really since Chick-fil-A came to town.”

The Board of Trustees plans to attend, Hawkins said. Announcements of this event have also been sent to the Wesleyan headquarters and all 106 Wesleyan pastors in the district, who have been telling their congregations.

“I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it was a packed house that night,” Hawkins said.

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