Fall Issue 6
My Response to the 9.5 Thesis
On Unity in Christ
by: "Martin Luther"
I have been allowed, by the permission of blessed St. Peter, to leave the bowls of purgatory to address an issue that has emerged from the halls of this great institution.
There is a distinct irony when someone pretends to write in the tradition of me, Martin Luther, and then publishes 9.5 Theses almost entirely void of Scripture, relying instead on the 10 hottest (and most divisive) political topics from Buzzfeed and Facebook. I admonish the students of Regent: do not put faith in the councils of social media and the tradition of identity politics, for they have contracted themselves.
The previous author has claimed that Regent has hired too many “white males.” I must say that the mindset behind this complaint deeply troubles me. We know that God “has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26). We all recall Paul’s admonition, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). It is a putrid lie from the bowels of hell to judge our professors simply because they are “white” or “male.” Putting our faith in the behemoth of identity politics will never unite us—its belly always remains famished. Even after we achieve an “equal outcome,” professors will remain quotas, hired because they have ticked a box that identifies them with a race or gender. One cannot end discrimination by discriminating. This not only violates Paul’s message that the gospel transcends tribal identity but even ignores the very imago dei that is the sole basis for all human value.
My friends, I do not mean to come across as one sided for there is indeed truth mentioned by the previous author. Discrimination is prevalent and the body of Christ must stand against it. However, the devil walks around like an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). He inserts a deception while alluding to the truth. As I have previously mentioned to my students, “The world is like a drunken peasant. If you lift him into the saddle on one side, he will fall off again on the other side.” We must not flee so fast from one error that we end up making an opposite mistake. I am sure that the previous author is offended by Christian institutions that defend the current Emperor (whose name starts with a T and rhymes with Drump). Verily, the previous author would ridicule such a blatant conformity of the political patterns of this world. I myself would agree. However, it is also wrong to take progressive left-wing politics, word-for-word, concept-by-concept, and then make Regent into a “left wing” college in order to combat “right wing” colleges. It is hypocritical to condemn the latter but seek to embrace the former. The Church must not conform to the patterns of this world (Rom. 12:2). Instead of finding a synthesis in an ‘otherly’ Christ-centered solution, the author would plunge Regent into the opposite end of the political dialectic thereby entering into disunity.
It was also suggested that Regent remove the blessed Lord’s Supper in order to satisfy those much beloved papists and High Churchmen among us. I must ask, however, what of those of the Low Church persuasion? Will they themselves not be offended at the removal of the Lord’s Supper? Moreover, it is common knowledge that there have been a small number of students who have had no persuasion that God exists. Should we also reorganize our liturgy so as to give no offense to them? Should we remove the cross and the word of God? Surely, it is impossible to appease everyone. Rather, I declare that so long as chapel is not mandatory, and even more so, so long as taking communion is up to personal choice, Regent remains faithful to its transdenominational identity.
Finally, please pardon any language that the reader may have found to be derogatory. Today speech is quite different from when I used to write, and as the saying goes, was Hänschen nicht lernt, lernt Hans nimmermehr. One would think that the fires of purgatory would have reformed my language habits by now, but alas, so few indulgences were purchased on my behalf that these vices still remain.
Anonymous Luther and his Reformation
by: Andrew Wilson
Anonymous Luther and his Reformation
Let me begin stating a quick disclaimer. I am a member of the RCSA, but I don’t represent them in this article. I am speaking for me. Last week, an anonymous student wrote an article called ‘9.5 Theses for Regent College’. It brought up particular issues that this student has with Regent. These matters include the lack of diversity in faculty, and making changes to the school’s curriculum to include teaching about the church’s horrific treatment of First Nations people. These, among other points that the theses raised, are important issues to be sure. I will not respond to the theses in this article but to the student’s decision to post anonymously. On one hand, I understand that the student may have decided not to post their name because of fear of reprisal. Also, the student may have been entirely dismissed if they were known as being outspoken about these issues. I would like to engage with the author of this article but I cannot engage with an anonymous student.
By writing this anonymously, the student bypassed a variety of people that they could have engaged in actual dialogue with. This student hurdled over these people and decided to take the easy route and write these theses instead. The 9.5 Theses represents a dissatisfaction with the state of things at Regent. I would like to take this opportunity to propose a model for this anonymous Luther on the basics of public discourse by looking at Martin Luther. In 1517, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg church, it was his proposed beginning of a discussion. It was also a last resort, not a first response. Luther engaged in public discourse regarding what he wrote in his Theses. This began an enormous project of reformation for the church. It was slow process, any change experienced in large institutions is slow.
On Tuesday, after chapel, Jeff Greenman stood up and welcomed students to talk with him about the diversity in faculty. So, I decided to take Jeff Greenman up on his offer. On Thursday I decided to drop by his office. A few thoughts were going on in my mind at the time. What if I don’t have anything intelligent to say? What if I get dismissed because I am barely into my third semester at Regent? On this particular Thursday, our college’s president was surprisingly free and receptive to my spur of the moment decision. He was gracious and kind, and said that he would be glad to provide the students with more information about faculty hiring decisions. I also found out that tomorrow, on November 8th, Jeff Greenman is hosting a Living Well Forum entitled "Civil Conversation: Listening and Speaking Well about Difficult Topics”, a forum that was planned quite some time ago. Our anonymous Luther, and many others, could learn a few things from attending this. I received a warm handshake from him and left his office feeling like my small third semester student voice had been heard. In the hallway, I stopped briefly and chatted with Ashley Moyse. He is a very likable person, but I must admit that I could be biased here because, like me, he hails from the long flat plains of Saskatchewan. He told me that the diversity discussion amongst faculty members has been going on for years. We chatted briefly about the 9.5 theses and about long time serving faculty. I have faith in the faculty’s character and their ability to give us a world class theological education. I have found them, so far, to be approachable and kind.
I hope that the Et Cetera continues to be a platform where students can speak about their convictions. By all appropriate means, let us continue to have conversation about difficult matters, but openly and honestly. The 9.5 theses do not represent the views of the entire student body, but of one student. One who has decided for various reasons to hide in a castle of anonymity. I hope that by reading this article that the anonymous Luther feels like they have the invitation to approach faculty with their concerns. At the very least, I hope they feel like they can approach me. I will be in the RCSA office, located downstairs right next to room eleven on Monday mornings and Tuesday afternoons. Or you can find me in the atrium. There is no need to worry, no papal bull of excommunication awaits you. Let’s talk about the important issues that were raised in your theses.
by:Jeff Greenman, Paul Spilsbury, and Claire Perini
Many of you will have read the anonymous article published in the Et Cetera last week, as have we.
At Regent, we value open and embodied dialogue about the issues that impact our shared communal life. We—Jeff, Paul, and Claire—always invite you to bring your concerns to us. Our role in administration is to sustain and improve the operations of the college. Our hope is that you, our students, will feel free to approach us directly with your concerns, allowing the possibility of open conversation, fact-checking, and mutual commitment to work toward solutions.
We affirm the importance of thoughtful critique in building a healthy institution, and we welcome our students’ feedback and constructive criticism. As you know, the purpose of the RCSA is to foster just such conversations, providing students with a voice and opportunity to participate in decision-making relating to curriculum development, student life, and college policies. Student representation is thereby embedded into the governance of the college.
In addition to working through RCSA channels, students are always welcome to approach any of us directly to engage in conversation around these critical issues. Since the article appeared, we have been working with the RCSA to determine whether there is a need for an additional forum for students to voice their concerns, contribute to important conversations, and work with us for the betterment of the college.
We, like you, recognize that our community is one in which many find both blessing and room for growth. We, like you, are daily dependent on God for the strength to meet the demands of our shared life in this place. We ask you to pray for us and for Regent as we continue to serve you and to seek God’s guidance and provision for us and for the college.
Yours in Christ,
Jeff Greenman, Paul Spilsbury, and Claire Perini
A Letter From the Editor
by: Ross Tuttle
Over the past week, in the many conversations and meetings, as terms like "identity politics" and platitudes like "constructive dialogue" were hamfistedly wielded to pummel my sweet head, as the virtues of anonymity were discussed and discounted ad nauseum, I had to ask myself, "Why in the world am I editing this paper?". The encouragement that I have received, especially from women and people of color, and even from those who disagree completely with the content of the '9.5 Theses' but appreciate the conversations it has sparked, has helped me answer that question which has gnawed at me during this, my passion week. So thank you to all who have commiserated with me or shared a kind word, you're all blessed angels. Besides thanking those who have been so helpful during this week I'd like to give a brief defense of my actions by answering a few questions:
Q1: Why publish such an inflammatory and critical article? A: I am currently under the possibly misguided assumption that the Et Cetera is place for honest thought from the student body. Barring hate-speech and vitriol, I think this paper should function as a open forum for critique and opinions, even opinions which I think are mistaken. Q2: Why publish an anonymous article? A: I believe the desire for anonymity from a student is indicative of some other issues. Besides the issue of personal privacy, I think a major issue is fear. I do not believe that there should be a "bar of courage" in place which students wishing to share their voice must pass in order to be published in this paper. As I have personally experienced a fair amount of attention and accosting by merely publishing this article, I can understand why a student would wish to address the student body without the fear of painting a target on their back. I know we wish to believe that this fear is unwarranted, that Regent College is a place for safe, open, and honest discussion and that we have no need for anonymity. But the reality of the situation might be less than our best wishes.The power dynamics, privilege, and personal histories at play in these situations should never be far from our minds. If someone is fearful and still wants to publicly share their thoughts, anonymity is a way to include their voice, which I believe is the paper's main goal.
Q3: Why in the world am I editing this paper? A: I'm editing this paper because I'm committed to conversations. Because I'm interested in being a part of creating a community of challenging discussion. Because I enjoy being a part of a paper which can amplify quiet voices and introduce new and alternative perspectives to a student body which deserves to prosper from the cultural, intellectual, and theological diversity in this small college. Because I welcome the hard and uncomfortable topics and believe that addressing them openly and boldly will prepare myself and my peers for a world and a church full of hard and uncomfortable topics. As long as this paper functions as an open,uncensored, diverse, challenging, and funny outlet for the precious voices of the precious students of Regent College, I will do my best to edit this weekly student publication. Thanks for hearing me out. All my love, your friend and sorry editor, Ross Joseph Tuttle