Over thirty-five years ago, my wife and I lived in the northern suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota while I attended law school at the University. We toured the greater neighborhood aboard our ten-speed bicycles. We sometimes pedaled through the arched gate to Northwestern College in the wooded hills of Roseville, which we learned was a small evangelical Christian college. I have since learned that evangelist Billy Graham served as the president of the college from 1947-53.
But there’s trouble afoot. Are the end times near?
An article appearing in the Minneapolis Star Tribune recounts the internecine fight between the administration and a group led by 1997 graduate Dallas Jenkins, the son of Jerry B. Jenkins the author of the “Left Behind” series of novels that promote the idea of end times rapture. From the Left Behind Website:
Are you ready for the moment of truth?
- Political crisis
- Economic crisis
- Worldwide epidemics
- Environmental catastrophe
- Mass disappearances
- Military apocalypse
And that’s just the beginning . . . of the end of the world. It’s happening now.
Seems Jenkins and his cronies are claiming the college is tilting away from its conservative roots, allowing an undesirable secular influence to creep in. College President Alan Cureton is their foil. From the Strib article:
Several former trustees said in a letter that they had seen the college’s culture changing and hoped it “might, by God’s gracious intervention, be spared the fate of so many other institutions that have witnessed the dying of the light. …”
Last January, the student government sent a letter expressing a vote of “no confidence” in Cureton and asking for his resignation or removal. The letter said that Cureton had committed “grievous sin, lies, slander, and unethical actions” –including lying about his reasons for demoting two faculty members and falsely accused another employee of viewing pornography.
In response, the board of trustees appointed a three person task force (including the president of the Evangelical Free Church of America) to investigate whether the charges of doctrinal drift were warranted. They concluded they were not, but the sniping continues even though the website of the dissidents has been closed to the public by requiring password entry. The college website openly acknowledges the controversy and attempts to put it in the past.
For regular readers of this blog, a familiar character made a cameo appearance in the Strib article. Dr. Robert Benne, a member of the Lutheran CORE advisory council and author of several CORE articles that have been critiqued here and here, was consulted by the Strib apparently because he wrote a book about secular drift in religious colleges.