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September 14, 2013


Gary Burge Replies: Neither He Nor Wheaton Responsible for Anti-Semitic Poster

I received a reply yesterday from Dr. Gary Burge of Wheaton College to my previous post on the subject of the advertising being done at First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton, Illinois, of a speaking engagement he has there at the end of this month. As promised, here is his reply in its entirety:

David:

A few Anglican friends of mine pointed out your post on the Stand Firm website.  And I must say I found it discouraging.  For two reasons: it lacks honesty and it lack charity.  Let me explain.

First, honesty.  Wheaton College has nothing to do with this event.  So it should not even be mentioned.  I did not write the text of the poster you refer to.  This is something that is just over at the church.  I was invited to give a lecture on Christian Zionism.  That’s it.  So to imply that Wheaton or I have anything to do with the things you mention is not true.  Please repost the entry and remove Wheaton College from the title and the text.

Second, charity.  We all know that the web is a place where harsh words are published.  I expect that nowadays but generally this comes from those who do not claim to belong to Christ.  I assume you do.  It strikes me that we need as Christ-Followers to have a higher standard for ourselves.  To use words that edify and enlighten.  To use charity in our speech.  I have already had Anglicans write to me and apologize to me on behalf of Stand Firm that such a post would appear.  It remains to be seen if I’m “anti-Zioinist.”  I’d encourage anyone to come and listen to me at First Presbyterian/Wheaton to see for themselves. 

Matters about which we feel passionate are matters that can often lead us to mis-speak.  I’ve done it many times myself.  As a Christian brother I would ask you to have trusted, honest friends read your writing and reflect with you whether this reflects the charity of Christ in all things. 

Gary Burge

 


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23 comments

Interesting.  He states something we already believed.  That Wheaton College and he did not write the poster. And he doesn’t repudiate its content.

The rest is so much hectoring filler asserting that David’s post wasn’t honest or charitable—but six trusted honest friends—the rest of the SF blogging crew—think David’s post honest and charitable.  So seven of us differ with Gary Burge about the definitions of honest and charitable, not to mention “edify” and “enlighten.”  ; > )

Ah well.

[1] Posted by Sarah on 9-14-2013 at 02:22 PM · [top]

I think Professor Burge has a point with regard to charity.  It seems that the appropriate tack would have been to check with him first.  I would hardly call his response hectoring filler.  That comment seems pointless.  Perhaps he should have added “independent” to trusted.

[2] Posted by Nikolaus on 9-14-2013 at 02:56 PM · [top]

RE: “That comment seems pointless.”

Well had I ignored the bulk of the response that doesn’t address the content of David’s post, those who disagree with the seven SF bloggers on the definition of “charity” would have then wondered why I ignored it.  So responding with saying “look at that hectoring filler” isn’t precisely “pointless” as it communicates what I believe it to be, regardless of whether people agree with my assessment of it or not.  I could hardly have left the vast majority of his words completely un-noticed.

As far as adding the word “independent” to “trusted”—we’ve certainly heard the cry of “how dare you say what you believe to be so out loud on your blog or ask those questions” a thousand times before, and we won’t be getting outside reviewers to pre-moderate our blog posts any time soon.  I think seven bloggers, of Anglicans, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians—both Reformed and not—to be quite enough of an objective reviewing team.

At any rate, it’s a rather surprisingly vague boilerplate non-repudiating response from Gary Burge with rhetoric worthy of KJS, and I suspect that those who complained about David Fischler’s post recognize that quite well amongst themselves.

All of this makes me now wonder a few things.

First, I hope that David will develop some posts about Gary Burge’s ideas themselves rather than the dreadful anti-semitic poster—I’ve reviewed only one short essay and it was pretty darned bad but maybe it was just written for a populist audience who needed cardboard cut-outs and broad sweeping rhetorical gestures.

Second, I’m now very curious as to how many other professors with Gary Burge’s emphases and ideas are employed by Wheaton College.

[3] Posted by Sarah on 9-14-2013 at 03:22 PM · [top]

There is no need or requirement to go to someone privately when the question has to do with a public pronouncement.

[4] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-14-2013 at 03:56 PM · [top]

I agree that Professor Burge did not address the fact that the text on the left side of the horrible poster is a pack of lies, and that the text on the right side of the poster states the fact that he is giving a lecture, and that he is a professor at Wheaton College.  He *did* say that he didn’t write the text…and then proceeded to chide Mr. Fischler like an errant child, and yes, that was exactly his tone.

Where, sir, is the repudiation of the ideas stated in the poster?  Or, if no repudiation, then support of the stated ideas?  Can you address the meat of Mr. Fischler’s article, rather than stating your displeasure at the fact that it was revealed to the public?

I have confidence that the Stand Firm team are capable of self-policing, and have no trouble in offering each other checks and balances when necessary.  No, I don’t believe that Mr. Fischler’s post was un-Christian or uncharitable.  I do believe that the post put the good professor’s nose out of joint, and I expected a better response.  I could have scripted that on the back of a napkin, were I in a snarky mood.

[5] Posted by GillianC on 9-14-2013 at 04:54 PM · [top]

Second, charity.  We all know that the web is a place where harsh words are published.  I expect that nowadays but generally this comes from those who do not claim to belong to Christ.  I assume you do.  It strikes me that we need as Christ-Followers to have a higher standard for ourselves.  To use words that edify and enlighten.  To use charity in our speech.  I have already had Anglicans write to me and apologize to me on behalf of Stand Firm that such a post would appear.  It remains to be seen if I’m “anti-Zioinist.”  I’d encourage anyone to come and listen to me at First Presbyterian/Wheaton to see for themselves.

Charity?  higher standards?  Words that edify and enlighten? 

Seriously?

As I write this I am having to remind myself - charity first.

Well, let me be as charitable as possible.  Before you invest in the trip to Wheaton “to see” for yourself, why don’t you listen to what Mr. Burge considers words of charity that edify and enlighten.  But first - let me set the scene.  Dr. Burge is in Israel and choses to mock the beliefs and practices of Jews at the most sacred site on the planet.

So I had my camera in my hand and they thought it was a good moment to come over and teach me a lesson about why you shouldn’t take photos on the Sabbath. This sounded like fun, so after their sermon I asked them, well, what is really wrong theologically with using a camera on Sabbath? Honestly, debating details of Sabbath observance on the Sabbath sounded very biblical, especially one hundred yards from the Temple. So they argued that pushing the button on the shutter release was doing work. I told them climbing all these stairs all over Jerusalem was more work and on it went for about a half hour. This could have been a scene right out of the Gospel. I said I was celebrating the beauty of God’s creation by taking a picture, they said I was breaking the Law. I was having a great time.

  Here is the a video.    Warning:  There is a lot more of this particular brand of “charity, edification and enlightening” in the video.

If this is enligtenment and edification, I think I’ll pass.

[6] Posted by Jackie on 9-14-2013 at 05:31 PM · [top]

Thank you for posting the video, Jackie.

I can now see where David Fischler was coming from in posting the original article, with its questions.  And where the questions came from, and why they were phrased rhetorically.  Since anyone familiar with Burge (which I was not at all until reading the article) would know the answers.

It’s like asking if Tom Shaw would perform a gay wedding, if KGTF would commune the unbaptized or if KJS spent years at Nashotah studying the orthodox interpretation of the Pauline Epistles.  You really do know the answer before you ask.

Now, in what I hope will be taken as constructive criticism, I think that the article would have had more impact had it included more about Dr. Burge, his writings and lectures.  SF may have transitioned away from being an Anglican blog in order to cover broader social and political issues, but judging by comments, and who makes them, the core readership remains Anglican.  And so I suspect that Burge was unknown to a portion of that readership.

Back in the days before McCormick Theological Seminary closed its campus near DePaul in Chicago, I knew several of the professors there (when you are a preacher’s kid, you get to know all the other preacher’s kids dads).  Liberal Presbyterianism sure has changed a lot in 40 years.

[7] Posted by tjmcmahon on 9-14-2013 at 07:10 PM · [top]

Full disclosure: I received my BA in theology from Wheaton and studied with Dr Burge, so I confess to having more of a personal stake than one usually does when commenting on the internet. That being said, I’d like to offer a few thoughts.

[comment portion deleted—please recall that “should you have posted on this topic at all” comments or any version of “Matthew 18/private consultation guys” about blog posts is off-topic as it simply drags us into a well-trodden theological argument about why the SF bloggers do not grant that argument rather than the actual topic of the post]

2. Why did Dr. Burge not refute the offending content?

This is pure speculation, but If I were a betting man (which I’m not), I would imagine that Dr. Burge thought that given how the conversation had already been framed, it was unlikely that any extensive exchange would accomplish any better understanding. I’ve not known Dr. Burge to back down from long and difficult exchanges that have the potential to be productive. Again, this is speculation, but I can see how if Dr. Burge thought (correctly or not) that he would still be perceived roughly the same way whether he offered the response that he did or went through many exchanges that he would decide it might not be worth it to engage further.

For what it’s worth, I never once heard Dr. Burge teach anything remotely close to the offending content on the poster.

3. The Wheaton question: Why no statement? What does it say about the College/are there “others”?

Why hasn’t the administration responded? Frankly, I doubt the administration is even aware of the conversation going around in this corner of the internet (one of my favorite corners, don’t get me wrong!). If there was a big public stink, I’m sure the administration would respond.

Are there more like him at Wheaton? More what? Other than Jackie’s post of a video of Dr. Burge speaking, all we know is that Dr. Burge is giving a lecture at a local church where some folks make an offensive poster and rather than enter into a lengthy exchange, Dr. Burge chose to simply say that he didn’t write it and that the college has nothing to do with it.

This is the problem with the headline in the first post, which should be changed: it’s pure sensationalism. The headline reads like the College as a whole in some official, institutional way, is (or may be, since it’s a “question”) partnering up with the PCUSA to slander Israel. This headline is far larger than the truth: a Wheaton professor is giving a talk on the theology of Christian Zionism at a local PCUSA parish, and a group of people in that parish made a stupid and offensive poster without his consultation.

[8] Posted by Fr. David M. Faulkner on 9-14-2013 at 07:44 PM · [top]

[comment edited—please use private message to discuss commenting protocol; this particular one has been in place for more than a year] My point is about having sufficient information before making a public argument, regardless of how that information is gathered.

How’s this for a replacement #1?

While the issues at stake are worth discussing publicly, it is certainly worth making sure one has one’s ducks in a row and all of the necessary information before jumping from finding a person’s name being listed on a secondary source he did not approve, to labeling a person “anti-Zionist,” to a headline that questions whether a whole college is in on slandering Israel. These are grand logical leaps to make without all of the relevant information.

The poster in question raises important questions worthy of debate, but if there is to be any meaningful conversation, there needs to be room for people to respond and give clarification. We all know that certain accusations are very damning (racism, Antisemitism, sexism, etc.) from the get-go, whether they end up being true or not. We are all familiar with leading questions and “questions” that are really just assertions hiding behind a question mark. I think the tone of the original post treads awfully close to that line, which is not saying that the post shouldn’t exist or anything about Mt. 18.

[9] Posted by Fr. David M. Faulkner on 9-14-2013 at 10:31 PM · [top]

David Fischler had sufficient information to fisk successfully a flatly inaccurate poster and ask good questions.  That is all the information he needed in order to develop a solid, substantive post, one that gave good information to our readers.

Further, the church poster didn’t raise “important questions worthy of debate” at all [my that sounds *so* much like TEC bloviators, and not like David Faulkner at all!].  ; > )    The poster made idiotic claims which David then proceeded to blow apart, publicly, and which brought to mind rather striking questions, which David also asked, publicly.

People have responded.  The clarity is blinding as to where we all disagree on definitions of words, as well as on the poster, and we’ve been pleased at the result of David’s original post, which has led to a professor simply announcing that he and Wheaton didn’t write the poster without repudiating its content, and then some predictable huffy boilerplate using words with whose definitions we obviously do not agree.

You asked earlier in response to my question “Are there more like him at Wheaton? More what?”

But let’s be clear about about my question.  I asked “I’m now very curious as to how many other professors with Gary Burge’s emphases and ideas are employed by Wheaton College.”

Gary Burge’s “emphases and ideas” are fairly obvious, I should think, by now. Everybody can see the video.  Everybody can note the topic of the talk at the church, which is the problem with “Christian Zionism” [unless the claim now is that even the topic of “Christian Zionism” was entirely wrong.] And everybody can truck straight on over to Gary Burge’s Wheaton College bio and learn more: http://www.wheaton.edu/Academics/Faculty/B/Gary-Burge

So how many other professors at Wheaton with those emphases and ideas are employed by Wheaton College?  I’m genuinely curious, as an estimated percentage would give someone like me pretty good insight on the sheer *politics* of the faculty of that college [as never doubt that is much of what this is all about, rather than “theology” however much professors wish to knock down the strawman of “Zionism”]. I suspect that somebody or other will email us with some tidbits of information about that.

[10] Posted by Sarah on 9-15-2013 at 08:17 AM · [top]

Sarah, fear not, I’ve not suffered a fall! I’m not about to drone on about “living into the tension” and that sort of stuff. Name calling, and on the Lord’s Day! smile

Simple misunderstanding: I was rewording part of a comment that was deleted under the “don’t question why a post exists” canon, and so I was intending to say that I understand that in light of the poster, there are important questions worthy of debate (hence, I’m not saying the post shouldn’t exist), not that the poster says anything thoughtful or true. I have nothing nice to say about the poster! Sorry for the misunderstanding.

As to the Wheaton question: when I was there (8 years ago, now), Dr. Burge was the only faculty member I recall pressing us on issues of how to understand Israel. So, as far as I know, the answer is Dr. Burge is the professor with such emphases. Things could have changed since I left, but I’m unaware of some huge shift.

I still contend that the data available do not support the original post’s headline. A headline questioning whether an entire college is teaming up with the entire PCUSA to slander Israel is quite the leap from one Wheaton professor giving a talk at one PCUSA parish where someone made an offensive poster. I’ll admit “Wheaton Professor speaking at local PCUSA church that may be Antisemitic” isn’t nearly as sexy as “PCUSA and Wheaton College Join in Slandering Israel?” but it’s much, much closer to the truth.

[11] Posted by Fr. David M. Faulkner on 9-15-2013 at 12:58 PM · [top]

From Sarah:  “So how many other professors at Wheaton with those emphases and ideas are employed by Wheaton College?  I’m genuinely curious, as an estimated percentage would give someone like me pretty good insight on the sheer *politics* of the faculty of that college [as never doubt that is much of what this is all about, rather than “theology” however much professors wish to knock down the strawman of “Zionism”]. I suspect that somebody or other will email us with some tidbits of information about that.”

I am in fact a member of the Wheaton College faculty, in my thirtieth year of service to the institution.  I know Gary as a colleague, though not at all well, have heard him speak in chapel, and have doubtless read occasional articles of his in CT and elsewhere, though I have not read his books.  His is a distinctive faculty voice, whose opinions are far from universally shared either within his own department or beyond.  I do not believe him to be anti-semitic, nor do I believe that his ideas are beyond criticism.  Insofar as he tried to make people aware of the complexities of the Palestinian situation, and in particular has tried to highlight the peculiar plight of the Palestinian Christian community, he has done a service, helping people to at least consider realities beyond the black-and-white polarities of newspaper headlines.  If, in attempting to correct some errors, he has swung too far in another direction and made errors of his own, his work should be open to critique, just like anyone else’s.

I am tempted, perhaps mistakenly, to read into some of the commentary on this topic a general sense of suspicion about Wheaton College.  Going beyond Sarah’s immediate question about how many professors like Gary there might be, I want to share some of what I know very well about the institution and its faculty:

1.  Wheaton’s faculty are deeply committed to teaching that (to use two institutional clichés in the same sentence) profoundly integrates faith and learning, and regards all truth as God’s truth.  It’s an approach that, if done with integrity, cannot and will not separate theology from sheer politics or sheer anything else.  Individual faculty members may disagree about where theology may take them philosophically, politically, sociologically, or pedagogically, but the attempt to bring faith to bear on what is taught and how it is taught is genuine across the institution.

2.  There are among Wheaton’s faculty a fairly wide spectrum of political opinions, again informed by a sincere desire to think Christianly, although most of us are seriously concerned about the current drift of our national politics and culture.  (Speaking personally, I am sometimes shocked by how much more conservative I have become in three decades here;  I don’t know if it’s the result of living in this community, or if the leftward drift of TEC and the current administration in Washington just makes me appear more conservative than I once was.)  I think it safe to say that we all recognize that our allegiance must not be to a political party or ideology, but to the Lord Himself.

3.  Wheaton’s faculty is full of men and women whose commitment to students is deep, extending far beyond the classroom.  These professors are mentors and spiritual directors, willing to go the second mile in helping students grow in faith, learning and living.

4.  Wheaton’s faculty are committed to the local church and the church worldwide, and are people of prayer, who continually wrestle with their faith, and seek to grow in grace.  There are a fairly large number of Anglicans among us, some of whom have paid a personal and professional cost in standing for truth and faithfulness.  (I think of a close colleague whose husband — my current rector — was deposed by the TEC Diocese of Chicago, and of an administrator whose open stance on human sexuality has been the source of tremendous hostility towards him.) 

4.  Without exception, every single one of Wheaton’s faculty members are sinners in need of the saving power of Jesus.  We see this on a daily basis, and it creeps into our institutional politics just as it does elsewhere, causing us to fight amongst ourselves in ways we really oughtn’t.  (I think of the joke that’s not really a joke to the effect that the reason academic battles are so intense is because the stakes are so small.) 

I have been loved and supported and aggravated and disappointed and delighted and surprised and gratified by this community for going on thirty years.  I believe that God is still at work at Wheaton, working sometimes through my faculty colleagues, and sometimes in spite of us.  I and my colleagues need and covet continued support and prayer, that we may continue to be faithful, and not distracted from the tasks God has given us. 

I trust and hope that this is ultimately germane to the current discussion, and provides some needed and constructive perspective.

[12] Posted by DuPage Anglican on 9-15-2013 at 01:44 PM · [top]

It appears that Dr. Burge is following, knowingly or not, Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals. He wants Pastor Fischler to practice “charity”, which Dr. Burge seems to define as “Don’t associate me with organizations with which I associate”. He then, as noted by others, fails to disassociate himself from the contents of the poster.
Thought experiment: what if the lecture were being presented by the Holy Land Foundation, sponsored and promoted by Westboro Baptist?

[13] Posted by Ameryx on 9-16-2013 at 04:50 AM · [top]

I’ll weigh in (admittedly, as a Wheaton alumnus but one who never had a class with Dr. Burge) in support of Fr. David M. Faulkner’s criticism of the original headline.  Taking one outside group’s framing of a speaking engagement by a professor who teaches at Wheaton and imputing that framing to both the entire College and the entire PC(USA) is pure sensationalism.  It seems to me that would be akin to picking up a retweet of a blog post by an Episcopal priest and imputing it to the whole of TEC, Google (via its ownership of Blogger), and Twitter.  It’s perhaps even more egregious, given the traditional ideological leeway given tenured professors under the auspices of academic freedom.

The separate questions raised by Sarah and addressed by DuPage Anglican in the comments of whether Dr. Burge’s views on this question are typical among the Wheaton faculty or have in some way been endorsed or adopted by the College as a whole, or whether his presence on the faculty says anything about the state of the College, are good ones, but they’re wholly different questions from that suggested by the headline.

[14] Posted by Jeff in VA on 9-16-2013 at 11:46 AM · [top]

Taking one outside group’s framing of a speaking engagement by a professor who teaches at Wheaton and imputing that framing to both the entire College and the entire PC(USA) is pure sensationalism.

But the headline was a question, not an assertion. And the question is legitimate. At what point should Wheaton and the PCUSA disassociate themselves from certain groups and events? At what point is the group or event so egregious that merely participating suffices for others to infer approval of the group’s or event’s goals?

This does not require a vast network of Wheaton lawyers monitoring every poster that contains the name of the college. But there should be some groups that Wheaton knows require some attention, because they are more likely to be troublesome. Hence my thought experiment in comment [13].

[15] Posted by Ameryx on 9-16-2013 at 07:12 PM · [top]

RE: “I am tempted, perhaps mistakenly, to read into some of the commentary on this topic a general sense of suspicion about Wheaton College.”

Hi DuPage Anglican, thank you for your thoughtful and helpful comment.  I had been inclined to think very favorably of Wheaton College until running across this specific matter [keep in mind that we Episcopalians have to deal with the likes of General and various other fruitcake seminaries, though blessedly they are all dying and closing, under the guise of “other teaching modalities”].

Just to be clear, I don’t think Gary Burge is “anti-semitic”—I think that phrase is sometimes thrown around too much [unless someone is actually anti-semitic—see Fischler’s series on Facebook hate speech which provides clear examples of anti-semitism], just as I think the phrase “zionist” is thrown around too much to describe whole swathes of normal Reformed or even non-religious people who show diplomatic and foreign policy favor to the one sane and functional country in the Middle East—a democratic republic to boot.

On a more humorous note, in regard to being classified on the political and theological spectrum . . . on any scale *other than* the Episcopal one, I am considered a “kindly moderate” theologically by my Baptist, Presbyterian, and free-church friends—someone who may be a touch too soft-hearted and sometimes even a ghastly shade of “liberal”—though lovable.

I find that richly ironic since of course “who I am” over here in Episcopal-loony-tunes-asylum-land is The Meanest Most Awfullest Most Divisive Most Right-Wing Extremist EVER, Like Really You Guys.

[16] Posted by Sarah on 9-16-2013 at 07:36 PM · [top]

Ameryx, maybe this particular PCUSA congregation has a reputation as notorious as Westboro; I don’t recall hearing about it one way or the other during my time at Wheaton. If it were so, then perhaps you’d have a point there, and Wheaton would do well to pay special attention to interactions between its faculty and such a hotbed of intolerance and bile right around the corner.

My point is that there’s a significant (though not absolute) distance between a poster on a bulletin board or website and the official endorsement of Wheaton College or the PCUSA. This isn’t a chapel address or even an on-campus lecture sponsored by an outside group.

Of course, I’m mostly concerned about the imputation of the poster’s language to Wheaton. The PCUSA General Assembly might approve language that approaches this, given some of the positions they’ve taken lately on divestment, etc.  I don’t know.

But if every Christian college had to monitor outside groups’ characterizations of its professors’ political views, I think it would require that team of lawyers you mentioned.

[17] Posted by Jeff in VA on 9-16-2013 at 07:37 PM · [top]

In Wheaton’s defense, the only mention I saw on the poster was a reference to Dr. Burge’s position on their faculty, which is a statement of fact.  It is very difficult to prevent anyone from publishing a fact in any medium.  If it were, KJS’s lawyers would be all over Stand Firm every time they mentioned her name, and that she is PB of TEC

I think, however, that it is not out of the ballpark to question whether, when a professor makes a public speech in a field he teaches, he is representing the subject in that venue the same way he represents it in the classroom.  Does Dr. Burge disparage (in my opinion) Orthodox Jews in his classroom the same way he does on the video Jackie posted in #6?  Does he present his views of the State of Israel?  If so, are those views expressed in the video reflective of those of Wheaton College as a whole. or one professor, or perhaps an entire academic department?  Does Wheaton College allow this sort of thing, or does it impose a more rigorous academic standard than Dr. Burge encounters in his speaking engagements?

Why would anyone care?  Well, the reading audience here includes a whole lot of vestry members, rectors, pastors, bishops. And they all have an interest in what seminaries and religious colleges are teaching, because the graduates of those institutions are sending them resumes.  And of course we all know that bad schools sometimes turn out excellent students, and the best schools can have some terrible students (2 of the most revisionist of my acquaintances graduated Nashotah 30 years ago).

[18] Posted by tjmcmahon on 9-16-2013 at 07:48 PM · [top]

Adding to the point at [19], Rob Bell also went to Wheaton.

On a slightly personal note, there was a job opening recently at Wheaton that was in my field.  In the past, I might have applied for it.  I did not, primarily because of relocation and the fact that I simply was not looking for a professional move right now.  But an additional factor was an unease about where Wheaton may be heading as an institution - an unease that I did not have until this year.  I don’t want to be unfair to the college.  My perception changed when I realized that even solid Evangelical institutions are still human and fallible, a much more realistic view than I had previously.  But I would be looking very closely at the direction of the college had I chosen to apply.

[19] Posted by Reformed Wanderer on 9-17-2013 at 06:07 AM · [top]

Jeff, [17]

Then we are in agreement that there is a degree of egregiousness sufficient to require Dr. Burge, Wheaton, and PCUSA, to distance themselves from a particular organization or event. The question becomes: where is that demarcation line?

I return to my defense of the headline for the original article, which effectively asked that question in relation to a specific event/group. I consider it a question worth asking. Perhaps, perhaps, Wheaton and PCUSA will ask its employees, when speaking at outside functions, to make clear that the participation of the employee in no way constitutes endorsement by Wheaton or PCUSA. Perhaps Dr. Burge will decide to require groups where he appears to include a similar disclaimer on his behalf in their promotional material. We have all seen such disclaimers attached to articles in magazines and newspapers. Such disclaimers are routine in the corporate world.

This discussion would never have taken place had the initial question itself been forbidden; which is why I have no problem with the article or the headline.

[20] Posted by Ameryx on 9-17-2013 at 10:46 AM · [top]

Ameryx, after reading the article, I understood what the situation was, why questions were raised about what exactly this Wheaton professor was going to say, and whether Wheaton should take any action to monitor its employees’ speaking engagements. 

Before I read the article (but after reading the headline), I thought that perhaps Wheaton College and the PCUSA had issued a joint press release slandering Israel, or perhaps cosponsored an event at which infamous Israel-slanderers would appear and speak.

At most, even if the worst about Dr. Burge and this congregation proved true, the most that could possibly be said is that Wheaton College tolerates a member of its faculty with a habit of slandering Israel, and that the PCUSA tolerates one of its congregations hosting speakers who slander Israel.  In no way is either institution “joining” in slandering Israel.  The headline, even in question form, goes much further than the facts here.

I’ve conceded that there might be circumstances under which toleration might justify criticism of the parent organization, whether that’s an employer or a denomination.  But that criticism would be based on the toleration, not on the parent organization “joining” the employee’s or congregation’s action.

Wheaton has dismissed professors in the past when they’ve “gone off the reservation,” so to speak.  We can have a discussion about whether its standards for doing so are appropriately rigorous or not.  But that still doesn’t support the headline.  An accurate headline might have been “Does Wheaton College Know One of its Professors Is Slandering Israel?” or “Is Wheaton College Okay with Its Professors Slandering Israel?”  As David Faulkner said above (in [11]):

I still contend that the data available do not support the original post’s headline. A headline questioning whether an entire college is teaming up with the entire PCUSA to slander Israel is quite the leap from one Wheaton professor giving a talk at one PCUSA parish where someone made an offensive poster. I’ll admit “Wheaton Professor speaking at local PCUSA church that may be Antisemitic” isn’t nearly as sexy as “PCUSA and Wheaton College Join in Slandering Israel?” but it’s much, much closer to the truth.

[21] Posted by Jeff in VA on 9-17-2013 at 11:20 AM · [top]

And I should point out again that I have no problem with David Fischler’s fisking, or the questions he raises.  All of that seems entirely appropriate to me.  Here are his last two paragraphs:

This poster raises another disturbing question. The person whose speaking engagement at FPC-W it is meant to publicize, Gary Burge, is an evangelical anti-Zionist who teaches at Wheaton College. Does it represent his viewpoint? Does he traffic in the lies found in this poster? Does Wheaton College stand behind teaching like this?

The presence of blatant bigotry and out-and-out lies with regard to Israel is not new in the PCUSA. Gary Burge has normally at least a bit more circumspect in making his case against Israel. This poster, and the association of his name and Wheaton College with it, means that some folks have some ‘splainin’ to do.

All that’s fine.  But the “‘splainin’” is not about “joining” in the slandering, but rather in (potentially) tolerating it from a member of the faculty.

[22] Posted by Jeff in VA on 9-17-2013 at 11:24 AM · [top]

Hi, give Dr. Burge a rest.  While the Scripture teaches that the Jews will be saved in the end, (Rom 11,) they teach that right now Israel is still in rebellion against their Messiah and are still in the penalyty box and are Lo Ami.  Zionissim is a secular polital position, but a nation based on ethnic principles will always lead to ethnic cleansing as under Nazi Germany and many African countries.  Many of the Arabs in Israel are Christians.  Israel is against any Christian evangelism.  Bruge’s conflict with the students in Jerusalem remind me of the Lord dealing with the Pharases.  The two groups are very similar.  We should love the Jews and pray for their conversion and the peace of Jerusalem, but that doesn’t give them a pass in their dealings with others who hapen to be in Palestine. Now some dispensationalist fundamentalist will disagree with that.  IMHO

[23] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 9-19-2013 at 04:53 PM · [top]

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