Monthly Archives: June 2012

Ray Bradbury: Prophet of Joy

Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2012, stirred deep wells of wonder among his readers for over seventy years, writing poetry, novels and short stories. Titles such as Dandelion Wine and Fahrenheit 451 continue to inspire and provoke. His influence is enormous, extending from literature to film and television, as he occasionally functioned as creative consultant to such entertainment pioneers as Walt Disney and Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone. From time to time Bradbury’s cosmic reach extended to the world of Evangelicalism, Wheaton College in particular.

Muriel Fuller, author, prominent editor and 1925 Wheaton grad, corresponded with Bradbury in 1950. In his reply, archived at Wheaton College Special Collections (SC-87), Bradbury thanks Fuller for her positive feedback regarding his short stories and encouragement that he should consider collecting them, which he had already recently done with The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man.

A notable Christian commentator on Bradbury’s themes is Calvin Miller (SC-24), former pastor, current Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry at Beeson Divinity School, poet and author of several fantasy novels, whose papers are archived at Wheaton College. Miller argues that Bradbury, claiming no specific beliefs, nonetheless stimulates intuitive feelings that allow for the development of a rich, expansive faith. The following excerpts are derived from Miller’s essay, “Ray Bradbury: Hope in a Doubtful Age,” included in Reality and the Vision: 18 Contemporary Writers Tell Who They Read and Why (1990):

Sometime in seminary Bradbury first fell into my world (or perhaps I fell into his). The scholarly tedium of learning how to be “truly spiritual” can coat all things bright and beautiful with dullness, and somewhere between hermeneutics and apologetics I needed something to wake my imagination to wonder…And Bradbury, while not often explicit about the content of his faith, professes a glorious, self-declaring confidence in God. I have scarcely heard Pentecostals be more rapturous than was Bradbury’s exuberant declaration on that tenth anniversary of the Apollo landing…My own concept of God can never remain static after coming into contact with the fictional output of a man driven by such near-spiritual forces, a writer with such a dynamic view of the God who leads man toward scientific maturity. Bradbury, at his best, is not only a prophet for a depressed people; he is a kind of deliverer, awakening our sensibilities…But hope is the real stuff of Bradbury. A Christian positivism pervades his works and that quality, more than anything, marks his work as distinctively Christian in tone. In the glorious finale to Something Wicked This Way Comes, Jim Nightshade is brought back to life by a father and son dancing and singing “Camptown Races.” Joy is the only cure for every monstrous evil work…We never “get to” the future — it beckons us, never to receive us. But it is always there and it is a place of hope! Such is the insight we need in order to get up in the morning. This insight, which I sucked from the very marrow of Bradbury’s bones, is also the ultimate promise of Christ. Christ is alive — His Living Being is the transforming Easter news! But Jerusalem — made new — is descending: this living vision is the hope that guarantees our future.

In 2007, staff from Wheaton College conducted a phone interview with Bradbury from his home in Los Angeles, inquiring about a possible connection between him and C. S. Lewis, whose papers are archived at the Wade Center. Both men wrote about the planet Mars, publishing in American pulp magazines of the 1940s and ’50s. In one book and two unpublished letters, Lewis commends Bradbury as “the real thing” as opposed to less gifted pulp hacks, speaking highly of his “poetic” style. However, Bradbury, stating that he “took Lewis’s Screwtape Letters everywhere I go,” had not read any of the Oxford professor’s other books, nor had he met or corresponded with him.

The papers of Calvin Miller and Muriel Fuller, located in the Special Collections on the third floor of the Billy Graham Center, are available to researchers.

The president meets the presidents

Charles Blanchard, second president of Wheaton College, recalls in his autobiography (1915) crossing paths with two Presidents of the United States and other notables.

I have never known any of them in an intimate way. They were either before my time or had homes in distant parts of our country, but I have had the privilege of seeing a number of them and I count this also among the privileges of my life. The great Lincoln I saw when I was a boy of ten years. I heard him at that time in the Lincoln-Douglas debate. It has never passed from my mind. I do not suppose it ever will. The tall, angular loose-jointed, benevolent man, rather inexpensively clothed, the short, well-dressed, polished-looking opponent, the seething crowds, the bands of music and the storm of flags! As I remember there were twenty music organizations in the procession that day at Galesburg. The number may have been greater or less, I do not pretend to know. Twenty is the number which remains within my mind. The evident appeal to conscience and humanity in the speeches of the great President and the deft, cunning, clever twisting and turning of his opponent, these came to me even as a child and remained. After he had passed away I met in the White House at a reception General President Grant, who also was a great man of totally different type but one of the real men of our nation and time. I have always thought better of him since I read the story of his own life. He was injured by his friends. He was too loyal to his friends, that is, his loyalty made him true to them when he ought to have placed the country before them. In purpose no doubt he did; he was of Scotch parentage and it is hard for a Scotchman to give up his friend.

The Teaching Life

Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles, titled “On My Mind”, in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Professor of Old Testament Paul House (who worked at Wheaton from 2001-2004) was featured in the Summer 2002 issue.

When I was a senior in college, I once sat in my favorite professor’s office and thought that it must be a wonderful thing to be a teacher. Like most kids from rural Missouri, I never met a college professor while growing up. Thus, it never occurred to me to think about Christian higher education as a vocation.

By the time I had finished my B.A. at Southwest Baptist College, however, my teachers had instilled in me a sense of the importance of the ministry of instructing others for, as we say at Wheaton, Christ and His Kingdom. Since I entered the teaching life I have not wanted to do anything else, at least not in place of it. Teaching students, writing books, and learning from colleagues continue to confirm what I thought as an undergraduate–the teaching life is a wonderful calling. I think this is especially true because I get to teach the Bible, God’s inerrant written Word.

Teaching the Bible to today’s students is an interesting, sometimes frustrating, task. They often know little beyond the basic Bible stories they learned as children, since biblical content is often left out of youth-group meetings. So students know that they should wait to have sex and should tell others about Jesus, but often little else. The result can be a dangerous division between worship on Sunday or in chapel and decisions made during the rest of the week. Thus, my task is to help them learn the Bible’s contents so they can have some chance of applying the whole of Scripture to their increasingly complex lives. As they learn, many of them grow rapidly. Their Christian worldview blossoms as they apply the Bible to life.

Writing books is one way to teach the Bible to people I will never meet in person. I am not alone in this conviction. Think of how many readers Scott Hafemann, John Walton, Andrew Hill, and my other colleagues have helped understand the Bible. For that matter, consider how many people beyond the Wheaton College community have learned about history from Mark Noll, Kathryn Long, and Edith Blumhofer. Or how many readers know more about literature because of Leland Ryken’s books. Writing is teaching; it is not just a way of getting promoted or becoming famous, or infamous for that matter.

Learning from colleagues is a great benefit of the teaching life. Through the years I have not only learned more about the Bible from other teachers, I have also absorbed knowledge about literature, history, current events, music, and athletics. Sadly, I fear that no matter how hard anyone tries, my brain rejects scientific knowledge. Despite my deficiencies, being taught by other teachers is a marvelous experience that helps me integrate the Bible more fully into the lives of my students.

I recommend the teaching life to young people all the time. I also recommend that donors and prayer warriors do all they can to support it. The teaching life is one committed to helping people learn what matters and how to act accordingly. More importantly, at Wheaton it is a life committed to the Lord, the sufficiency of His Word, and the growth of His people.


Paul R. House is a graduate of Southwest Baptist College (B.A.), the University of Missouri (M.A.), and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. and Ph.D.). He has been a professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School since 2004 and served for six years as associate dean. Previously, he taught at Taylor University, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, and Wheaton College. Dr. House is the author or editor of 15 books, including The Unity of the Twelve, Old Testament Survey, Old Testament Theology, and Lamentations. He has been pastor of churches in Missouri, Indiana and Kentucky. He and his wife, Heather, have one adult daughter.

Bezae by Air Mail

On the last day of March 1977 Jerry Hawthorne wrote from Cambridge, England to his colleague Gil Bilezikian. Hawthorne was abroad studying and wanted to alert him to a book by Howard Kee he had just finished reading. He wanted to be sure that Bilezikian was aware if he needed to include it in the book he was writing, later published as The liberated Gospel : a comparison of the Gospel of Mark and Greek tragedy. Hawthorne noted that Kee surveyed the literary antecedents of Mark, notably “Mark as ‘Greek Tregedy,’ Mark as ‘Comedy,’ etc.”

What is most notable about this brief postcard is Hawthorne’s description of Cambridge, which he said “is a wonderful place to retreat for quiet study–reading + research.” He spoke of going “into the bowels of the University library” and being taken beyond vaulted doors to be shown Codex D, the Bezae codex. He wrote to Bilezikian that seeing this 5th century vellum codex was “Priceless.” That postcard, shown here, is of the “famous reading from Luke 6:5 about the man working on the Sabbath.” He finished with an affectionate closing, “Love to you + all at Wheaton.”

Little did Hawthorne know in 1977 that a home near Tyndale College, Cambridge would bear his name. In 1994 the warden of Tyndale House notified the college of the availability of a home within walking distance to Tyndale. It became clear to the college leaders that Tyndale desired Wheaton to acquire the home. Donors were approached and Wheaton purchased the home. President Duane Liftin recounted at the time that “a lot of people said, ‘I think this is a great idea.” The donor wished to express his affection for Hawthorne and name the four-bedroom house after Dr. Gerald Hawthorne, professor of Greek at Wheaton for over 40 years. Through this gift Wheaton’s faculty members on sabbatical can travel to Cambridge and have full access to the facilities of Tyndale House and the libraries of Cambridge University. Having used Tyndale’s library as an Oxford student, Litfin recalled that “there’s nothing like it. It’s the crossroads of the whole world when it comes to studies.”

Living in “The Attic” at 712 Howard

712 Howard St, Wheaton, IL“The Attic” was one of the many off-campus housing options in which students resided during their years at Wheaton College. From the beginning of Wheaton and into the 1940s, the majority of students at Wheaton College and the Academy rented rooms in private homes.

712 Howard was such a home. Known as “The Attic,” this home was owned by the Hansen family from 1940 to 1943. Built in 1931 the home served as the residence for Billy Graham during his junior and senior years (1941-1943). During this time he lived with Lloyd and Albert Fesmire, Don Brown, and the Hansen’s son, Ken. Hansen later went on to be the chairman and chief executive officer of the ServiceMaster company, a company that grew to over $500 million in revenues under his leadership. He also served as a trustee of Wheaton College.

Though living quarters were likely more cramped, living within the nature setting of a home likely had its benefits. However, whether students stayed in College-owned or private homes, they were under the same regulations. Consultation with the Deans was a prerequisite for engaging any rooms. It was a system of the College being “in place of the parents,” while in school at Wheaton.

Mission Opinion

Guest posting by Special Collections staff member

Mission Opinion was a controversial publication edited and published by Kenneth and Margaret Landon in 1934 and 1935, from their missionary post at Trang, Siam. It was a strictly in-house magazine for the missionaries of the Presbyterian Mission, with which the Landons served at the time. Its aim was to facilitate “expressions of opinion by members of the Siam Mission on matters relating to the policies and practices of the Mission.”

The impetus for the magazine was a perceived lack of adequate communication among members of the Mission. The Landons took initiative in starting the publication and financed the printing of Mission Opinion out of their personal funds. They duplicated it in Trang on a mimeograph machine Kenneth had procured from Bangkok. From the outset it was understood that they would publish for “a trial period of twelve months.” A total of 10 issues were produced over the year running from May 1934 to April 1935, ranging in length from 30 to 60 pages.

The Mission leadership may not have been ready for the open exchange of views made possible by such a publication. They are not likely to have welcomed even honest questioning of their policies and discussions concerning the overall direction of the Mission. Mission Opinion included frank discussion of what should be cut from the budget given the decline in the Mission’s financial and human resources in the midst of the Great Depression. The term ‘mission station’ is a throwback to a bygone era whose approach appears to twenty-first century eyes hopelessly entangled with colonialism; yet, a major challenge faced by the Presbyterian Mission in the Landons’ time concerned precisely whether to continue staffing their existing stations, whether to close some, or whether additional ones ought to be established.

Margaret said, “Let’s put out a little magazine of our own.”

Another burning question, to which the bulk of two issues was devoted, was ‘intensive’ vs. ‘extensive’ evangelism. Could they simply nurture those who had made some kind of profession, relying on biological growth as the faith was transmitted from parent to child? Or was it rather necessary to deliberately and incessantly push beyond the boundaries of the fledgling Thai church to the ninety-nine percent of the population who remained outside? Rev. Paul Eakin, the Mission’s executive director, gives his opinion concerning the evangelism controversy in the January/February 1935 issue. He believed that shoring up earlier gains ought to take priority over concerted proclamation in broad swaths of the country which remained virtually untouched by the gospel. History, however, seems to have vindicated the Landons and others who favored a more aggressive outward thrust.


The Margaret and Kenneth P. Landon Papers are housed in the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections and are available for research.

In His Time

Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles, titled “On My Mind”, in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Professor Emeritus of Bible and Theology Walter Elwell (who worked at Wheaton from 1975-2003) was featured in the Winter 2003 issue.

As an undergraduate student at Wheaton more than 40 years ago, I felt something of a call to the mission field—first as a medical missionary and then as a Wycliffe translator. Neither of these materialized, and instead I pursued an academic career in New Testament studies.

I was never sure why the Lord led me in another direction rather than to the mission field, where I felt the need was so great and the laborers so few. I prayed about that over the years, but nothing seemed to take any particular shape in my mind.

Then, in 1989 to 1991, the Soviet Union fell and that part of the world opened up to missionary work from the West. By that time, urgent stirrings had arisen in my heart, and in a wonderful moment it all became clear—Eastern Europe was in desperate need of guidance and help at the academic level to train people for the next generation of leadership. More than two generations had been lost and there was no time to lose; cults and charlatans were trying to take advantage of the surging spiritual hunger in that part of the world.

God then answered my prayer of 40 years earlier, directing me to a ministry of training young Europeans academically for leadership in the church and the preaching of the Gospel.

Almost immediately after the fall of Communism, the Graduate School inaugurated a program of on-and off-campus training for these East Europeans. Other Wheaton professors and I made numerous trips to all parts of the former Soviet Union to teach in seminaries, help establish M.A. and Ph.D. programs, visit refugee camps, and sometimes (literally) walk through mine fields to reach the schools and churches where we were speaking.

Since these East Europeans also needed relief from their often oppressive situations, the Graduate School also established a six-week tutorial for scholars and educators from the former satellite nations. We bring anywhere from 15 to 25 participants (free of cost to them) for intensive personalized training in an area of study they have selected. While here, they are assigned a faculty mentor, make field trips to view local ministries, attend seminars, hear a series of speakers, and also work in their chosen area of interest.

In the last eight years, more than 90 scholars from 13 different countries have participated in the program. As a result, over 15 books have been written, eight Ph.D. degrees have been earned, and numerous other goals have been accomplished—from establishing children’s ministries to running a school. All this has been a great blessing to us, and we solicit your prayers on our behalf.

How could anyone have guessed at the height of the Cold War that someday the Iron Curtain would be removed and teacher/administrators would be needed to rebuild what had been torn down, seemingly for all time? But God knew. And in His time, he directed me, and others, to prepare for it.

What a blessing to follow the Lord, even when the way is unclear. For as William Cowper said, “He will make it plain.” It is testimony to the grace of God and the mystery of His ways that this door has opened and Wheaton has been enabled to step into the gap.


Walter A. Elwell, born 1937 in Florida, is an evangelical theologian and noted editor of several evangelical standard reference works. He is professor emeritus of Bible and Theology at Wheaton College where he taught from 1975 to 2003. Elwell earned his B.A. ’59 and M.A. ’61 from Wheaton College. He then attended the University of Chicago and University of Tubingen before earning his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh. He has been a consultant to both the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association and the Evangelical Book Club, and a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, Institute for Biblical Research, Evangelical Theological Society, and Chicago Society of Biblical Research.