It came as a bit of a shock when I read that Dr. Sallee, president of William Jewell College (WJC), said that WJC is no longer advertising itself as a Christian college. The Hilltop Monitor, the student newspaper, included that information in an article published in its September 24 edition. Dr. Sallee is quoted as saying that the expression “Christian college” has taken on a different meaning than it used to have.
He made no reference to it, but Dr. Sallee’s point is forcefully made in the title of a new book, Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites—and Other Lies You’ve been Told. The author is Bradley R. Entner Wright, a sociologist. Although Dr. Wright seeks to show that there is not sufficient evidence to indicate that the majority of Christians are, in fact, “hate-filled hypocrites,” it is nonetheless true that there are many people who do think that.
June and I transferred to WJC in August after we were married, following our graduation from Southwest Baptist College, which was then a junior college. In the years since, all four of our children graduated from WJC, each after having attended four years there. And I have taught several courses there through the years, the first in 1976 and the last in 2009.
June and I chose to attend WJC because it was a Christian college, and that was one of the main reasons that our children went there and that I have taught there from time to time. So, we naturally find it sad that WJC has concluded that it can no longer identify itself as a Christian college. When did Christian become a dirty word?
The change at WJC, and in the larger society, is largely linked to the move toward fundamentalism in this country and in the Southern Baptist Convention in particular. That was one of my main reasons for writing Fed Up with Fundamentalism (FuF). With the steady move to the right over the past thirty years, Southern Baptists and many other “evangelical” groups have come increasingly to be seen as obscurantists (as I wrote about in FuF), and, as another example, the anti-gay rhetoric of not only Fred Phelps but others who are much more "mainstream" has caused many people to think negatively about anything labeled Christian.
In his challenging new book, The Myth of a Christian Religion (2009), Gregory A. Boyd says that Jesus “was known for the scandalous way he loved.” By contrast, “instead of being known as outrageous lovers, Christians [today] are largely viewed as self-righteous judgers” (pp. 64-65).
[The last two paragraphs of the original posting have been removed.]