Monthly Archives: June 2013

At the Core

by Ivan J. Fahs ’54 Professor of Sociology

During our first year of marriage, Joyce was finishing her work at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and I was teaching high school in nearby Euclid. One of my responsibilities was to supervise a study hall in the school’s cafeteria where the students typically spread out around the spacious room, some of them taking up a whole table.

One kid drew my attention. He was at a table by himself and was moving books and notebooks around, scribbling a note here and there. I noticed he was smiling, and I thought I could hear him humming, too. Now, when a teacher observes a kid smiling in a high school study hall, there are several possibilities–Is this kid concealing a frog or snake in his shirt and is he is planning to let it loose to test out this new teacher’s skill at riot control? And that smile–was it a smirk or a impious grin? Trying to appear authoritative, I wandered over toward his table. He was underlining in a book and sure enough, he was humming a bouncy tune, When our eyes met, I said, “You’re Brian, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” he said, And you’re new here, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m new this year. Brian, you seem to be enjoying yourself this morning. You’re smiling a lot, and I heard you humming a song. What gives? Why do you look so happy?”

Brian’s response was instantaneous and genuine. “O, that? That’s just the Lord shining through.”

Obviously, Brian had not been admonished sternly enough to keep God out of his life as a public high school student. The spontaneity and brightness of his faith–what was inside him–showed on his face and was evident in his voice.

Often many of us portray a positive appearance that does not nicely dovetail with the “stuff” inside ourselves. Which means that sometimes we force an appearance, and we deliberately, some would say dishonestly, act in such a way to appear to he something we really aren’t.

What is in the core of our being? When anyone is “in Christ,” that person becomes a new creation. Christ profoundly changes our core. With that transformation we become capable of absorbing and transmitting the qualities of His Spirit–love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control.

This is the “good stuff” that presumably becomes integrated into the essence of who we are. If all that “good stuff” is an authentic part of me, then why doesn’t it bubble out more? Sometimes, I think it’s because we believe our Christian faith is a very private experience. But when we contemplate what Christ has done in us, how can we really keep it for ourselves? The “good stuff” is too good to be kept private. It is natural to spread the Good News everywhere. Another reason we don’t express what Christ has implanted in us is that we have not tended the garden inside adequately. Inside we are empty and sick and cannot bring ourselves to admit candidly how little of the “good stuff” we have. We need resuscitation, a new commitment to the Lord, or a refilling with His Spirit.

I struggle with dissonance between the realities of who I am and how I present myself. But I have learned from times like this that it’s okay, deeply okay, to let my core–even when my core is in a state of disrepair–to be revealed among caring people who love me in my brokenness; these people hold me up, and they send me on my way. That’s what Christian community life does for each of us who is needy. The personal and social toxins all around are minimized when caring people blow in spiritually pure air and offer us cool, refreshing cups of water. So even when we are less than the ideal, each of us has power to minister to one another with Christ’s Spirit and to overcome these toxins.

Because Jesus taught that every disciple when fully taught will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40), it is fair to ask who our teachers are. Cultural ways of doing things, religiously sanctioned beliefs, and focus on people’s physical appearances can distort the reality underneath. Our preconceptions about poorly clothed people, or someone illiterate or socially crude, can keep us from understanding the essence of who these children of God really are.

How well-rooted at our core are we in Christ-centered values? And does this “root system” function adequately when others need to see the authentic Jesus shining through? Does the Lord Jesus inside us make a difference in the way we appear to others? Does He come through spontaneously and joyously? Does He attract others to Himself?

I don’t know what is best for stirring us to deal with the incongruity of our inward reality with our outward behavior. Gentle persuasion and cogent argument work for some. A direct in-your-face approach works for others. It doesn’t matter. We must come to terms with a process of living before others in a way that draws upon the qualities God’s Spirit has imbedded in our inner core. Then we may be in the position where the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart (Luke 6:45).


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. Former Professor of Sociology Emeritus, Ivan Fahs ’54 (who taught at Wheaton from 1981-2001) was featured in the Autumn 1997 issue.

The Wheaton Anthology

During its early decades, the Wheaton College Record, the student newspaper, published verse written by faculty and students. However, as the editors, Raymond Horton and Charles Seidenspinner, observe in their introduction, “to publish a poem in a newspaper is to bury it.” Seeking to rectify this, they scoured thousands of pages, seeking “…the best representatives of the literary talent which has appeared on the Wheaton campus.” Compiling the best of the best, they collect their choices into a book called The Wheaton Anthology, published in 1932. Brief in pages, the anthology contains a number of interesting pieces, including a poem by Jonathan Blanchard, first president of Wheaton College. Also included are poems by Elliot Coleman, who later gained renown as a poet and professor at Johns Hopkins, and Royal T. Morgan, professor of natural sciences.

Children of Two Adams

by Laura Miguelez ’83

One of the most striking parallels the apostle Paul comments upon in Scripture is that of the First and Last Adam. The first Adam was to be the exemplar of all that is good in a humanity made in God’s image. Yet as Adam and Eve, who had only known good, chose to know evil in disobedience to their Creator, so follow we.

We, too, determine that God’s ways cannot be best and so choose to go our own ways. Nor do we see this condition as being problematic. When confronted with our failure to do good, we stand behind our first parents, claiming, “I’m only human”– claiming, that is, that we expect to fail in our quest to image a holy God.

Nor do we see how grievous this low expectation can be. We distance ourselves even more from our choices and speak of learning to “love the sinner” and “hate the sin” as though we were somehow capable of separating the two, not acknowledging that sin arises from the very inclination of our hearts. Sin is not ever disembodied “out there” somewhere, but exists in the context of the person committing it.

The only reality is that of the sinning sinner, and this is why Christ’s sacrifice is so pivotal: He died not for sin, but for sinners who could not keep themselves from sinning. We are children of the first Adam, a living being; children of dust. Yet we are called to be children of the last Adam, Jesus Christ, a life-giving spirit; children of heaven.

Jesus Christ–not Adam–is the one who defines for us what it means to be human. He chose to love the sinning sinner by dying on our behalf that we might know the love of God at work in our hearts by His cleansing Holy Spirit.

The basis of our being accepted before God does not change once we commit our lives to Him. We can come before God’s presence only because of what Christ has accomplished; we can remain in God’s presence only on the basis of the same.

And this is the great tension we feel in our earthly sojourn: that in God’s sight, as Martin Luther observed, we are at one and the same time both righteous–by Christ’s nature within us–and sinners–by our own nature. And although we continue to seek to
hide behind our human nature in explaining ourselves to ourselves, the reality is that Christ is the one to whom we should return. And this we will not do unless we understand ourselves to be sinning sinners.

Only we who are sick have need of a physician, and so we are told by Christ to “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:12-13).

And herein lies our hope: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).


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. Former Assistant Professor of Theology, Laura Miguelez ’83 (who has taught at Wheaton since 1998) was featured in the Autumn 2000 issue

First Ladies of Wheaton College

The presidents of Wheaton College are lauded for their leadership, guiding the institution through the decades, holding close its motto, “For Christ and His Kingdom.” But leadership is usually a partnership; and surely every man would respectfully defer to the invaluable contribution of his wife. Ruth Cording, former archivist at Wheaton College, composed a booklet, Romance, Roses and Responsibility, celebrating the lives of these faithful women. Cording profiles the following: 1. Mary Blanchard, wife of founder Jonathan Blanchard. 2. Margaret Ellen Milligan, first wife of second president Charles Blanchard, who died during her early motherhood. 3. Amanda Jane Carothers, second wife of Charles Blanchard, died from scarlet fever. 4. Frances Carothers, third wife of Charles Blanchard, who was a physician and wrote a biography of her husband. 5. Helen Spaulding Buswell, wife of J. Oliver Buswell, third president of Wheaton College. 6. Edith Olson, wife of V. Raymond Edman, fourth president. 7. Miriam Bailey, wife of Hudson Armerding, fifth president. 8. Mary Sutherland, wife of Richard Chase, sixth president. 9. Sherri Elizabeth, wife of Duane Litfin, seventh president.

Commenting on her use of the rose motif, Cording writes:

Mary Blanchard brought her roses from Cincinnati when she and her husband, Jonathan, Wheaton’s first president, came to Knox College in 1845. Those rose bushes were then transplanted to their home on South President Street when the Blanchards moved to Wheaton, In 1863 the bushes were moved to the college and planted in front of Blanchard Hall near the east door. Some of the bushes were also planted, at the request of Jonathan Blanchard’s granddaughter, Geraldine Kellogg Dresser, and when she died, former president V. Raymond Edman referred to the “heritage of roses,” stating that she “passed the Blanchard heritage to us with roses.” In 1984 I noticed that the roses in front of Blanchard Hall were just about ready to go into pink bloom, but that the remodeling of the front of Blanchard would threaten their blossoms. The college gardener was alerted and all the remaining bushes were moved to the front of Westgate, the current home of the Wheaton College Alumni Offices. They are now appropriately marked with plaques, showing that they were originally brought to Wheaton by Mary Bent Blanchard – 150 years ago!