Tish Harrison Warren is an egalitarian, a priest in the Anglican Church, and a supporter of progressive causes. None of that, however, was enough to keep Vanderbilt University from kicking her ministry off campus. She has a compelling reflection in CT on how everything came unraveled for InterVarsity at Vandy. In essence, Vanderbilt said that no organization could require adherence to a creed in order to limit membership or leadership in campus organizations. The result? The university began discriminating against Christians for holding to Christian beliefs. In Warren’s article, this bit was particularly clarifying. She writes,
The line between good and evil was drawn by two issues: creedal belief and sexual expression. If religious groups required set truths or limited sexual autonomy, they were bad—not just wrong but evil, narrow-minded, and too dangerous to be tolerated on campus.
It didn’t matter to them if we were politically or racially diverse, if we cared about the environment or built Habitat homes. It didn’t matter if our students were top in their fields and some of the kindest, most thoughtful, most compassionate leaders on campus. There was a line in the sand, and we fell on the wrong side of it…
And while we grieve rejection, we should not be shocked or ashamed by it. That probationary year unearthed a hidden assumption that I could be nuanced or articulate or culturally engaged or compassionate enough to make the gospel more acceptable to my neighbors. But that belief is prideful. From its earliest days, the gospel has been both a comfort and an offense.
This is so true. There is no amount of niceness or progressive sympathizing that will remove the reproach of the gospel. If you have even a whiff of Jesus on you, there will be no shortage of people whose nostrils fill with the stench of death (2 Cor. 2:15-16). That won’t be the only response, but sadly it will be the response of some.
Warren’s article is really thoughtful, and I highly recommend your reading the whole thing.
A friend of mine posted this on Facebook. I agree; extremely well written. If I could push back just one little bit: sentences like, “There is no amount of niceness or progressive sympathizing that will remove the reproach of the gospel,” make it sound as if being a winsome messenger of the Gospel is no benefit at all vs. being, say, Westboro Baptist.
While, ultimately, IVF was booted off the Vanderbilt campus, it still exists on many, many other campuses across the country. I daresay a Westboro student group (if such a thing existed; God forbid) would be booted virtually everywhere.
There’s a danger in the “they hate us because Jesus” mentality that tempts some Christians to ignore ways in which they’re being callous, unloving, or unnecessarily offensive and consequently earning non-believers’ hate for those things and not because of Jesus.
That’s quite an impressive creed to which you must adhere to be involved at Vanderbilt.
“We avoid spiritual clichés and buzzwords. We value authenticity, study, racial reconciliation, and social and environmental justice.”
May be a good piece overall, but these two sentences juxtaposed is kinda snicker.