(Sixth in a series.)
Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend. (Proverbs 27:10)
Anthony Bradley for a couple decades now has been calling for brothers in the Evangelical and Reformed church to repent of racism. He’s earned the wrath of many within the Reformed church who refuse to admit racism is alive and well among us.
So let us turn to Wheaton College whose president and trustees responded to the charges of institutional racism made by some of their students by issuing a 122-page report pointing the finger at J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., who served as Wheaton’s president almost a century ago. Placating their angry students, a month or so ago the trustees published the report they’d paid for which declared J. Oliver Buswell Jr. to be the Enemy of the People.
Why bring Anthony Bradley up in connection with Wheaton’s shameless appeasement of the race-baiting mob?
Readers note our previous articles on Wheaton’s denunciation of President Buswell made the point that Buswell’s biological and spiritual sons were heroes in their strong and detailed public condemnations of racism. The two sons whose prophetic witness against racism we reproduced in full in two consecutive articles here and here at Warhorn were both clear in their condemnations of the very thing Ryken and his trustees accused their father of: segregation in educational institutions. Both sons could not have been clearer in condemning educational segregation.
These sons also condemned Southern white men’s violent sexual crimes against Black women. Also the hypocrisy of Fundamentalists who refused to associate with Blacks. They defended interracial marriage.
Yet Wheaton’s best and brightest could not bring themselves to admit what a profound witness against them these sons and their writings are.
Across their 122-pages of so-called “historical review,” Wheaton’s president and trustees refuse to admit any connection between the opposition to racism of President Buswell as documented by his sons’ same opposition.
Isn’t the saying “the acorn never falls far from the tree?” Didn’t Wheaton’s trustees hire Charles Blanchard as president because they trusted he shared the doctrinal and moral commitments of his father, Jonathan, who preceded him as Wheaton’s president? Didn’t Wheaton’s present trustees hire Phil Ryken as president because they trusted he shared the doctrinal and moral commitments of his own father, Leland Ryken, who just recently earned emeritus status after faithfully serving Wheaton over fifty years as an English professor.
Back to Anthony Bradley. One year before Wheaton’s trustees and president tried to appease their students by appointing their task force to denounce President Buswell, Bradley posted a series of tweets containing a number of exclamation marks. What excited him so much?
Here’s the first in the series, dated July 15, 2020 (over three years ago):
Bradley was terribly excited to have discovered a book published by Eerdmans. He reports the book is endorsed by “anti-racist” professors and is “the book college and seminary students need to read.”
What was this book?
Later the same day, Bradley kept up his tweet stream:
Bradley is going berserk calling the Evangelical world’s attention to J. Oliver Buswell, Jr.’s son, James Oliver Buswell III’s, 1964 writings opposing racism among Christian Fundamentalists and Evangelicals. He’s going out of his mind with excitement over discovering a faithful brother in Christ who was a prophetic witness against racism in the church way back in 1964, and he kept tweeting his excitement:
Let’s get this straight. Three years ago, Bradley called that “institution that interacted with the Buswell family” to “put this (book) at the center of evangelical race discussions.”
Close to three years after this series of tweets, Wheaton College—the very “institution that interacted with the Buswell family”—refused to put this book at the center of their “race discussion.” They mentioned Buswell the Son’s work, but only in passing while not acknowledging that Buswell the Son’s prophetic witness against racism had any slightest bearing on their verdict that his father was a racist.
Bradley is here commending the same writing of Buswell the Son we brought forward as a witness against President Ryken and his trustees.
He calls Buswell the Son’s writing “anti-racist white scholarship at Wheaton.” He’s excited Buswell the Son’s writing “is white conservative anti-racism before it was cool!!” He wonders why “we’re not talking about” it “right now.”
Good fathers are copied by their sons. God the Son gave this testimony concerning His Own Father:
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. (John 14:10)
“My father abiding in me.”
Daughters reveal their mothers just as sons reveal their fathers. So it is with the Apostle Paul and his spiritual sons:
To Timothy, my beloved son. …The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2Timothy 1:2; 2:2-3)
The convictions and commitments of President Buswell documented in the life work of his sons was a line of inquiry Wheaton’s president and trustees refused to admit or even hint at in their Report.
The book by Buswell the Son being commended by Anthony Bradley is simply an expansion of his article we reprinted.
Pastors are called to guard God’s sheep, and one of the most significant duties growing out of protecting His flock is guarding His truth written in His Word. This was the work of the Reformers five centuries ago and it remains the work of shepherds today.
God’s people have always needed shepherds protecting them from schismatics whose stock in trade is misrepresenting primary sources, starting with the Holy Scriptures. They lie about Scripture, so naturally they also lie about church fathers of past centuries and generations. They destroy church fathers’ character, smearing their reputations with lies. They misrepresent church fathers’ writings, deceiving the sheep about what their fathers actually wrote and said.
Some reading Ryken and his trustees’ Report have found themselves asking how scholars on the level of Darrell Bock could have fallen to this level of tendentious history? Didn’t their professors require them to learn the tools of the scholarly trade? Are guys with the terminal degree not taught to quote sources accurately, particularly where those sources run contrary to their thesis?
Speaking personally, my undergrad studies were at University of Wisconsin (Madison), focussing on medieval and Reformation history. It was a privilege to learn the Reformation from the eminent Calvin and Geneva scholar, Robert M. Kingdon, who maybe more than any other of my profs in undergrad and grad school, emphasized the necessity of scholarship returning to the archives and primary sources. UW(Madison) notes this in their published obituary for Kingdon:
Kingdon belonged to the first generation of American historians of the Reformation who went to the archives. That sense of history as grounded in and anchored to archival sources not only defined Kingdon’s own work, which changed the shape of the field, but also that of his students.
From his unparalleled knowledge of the archives of Geneva emerged one of the major projects of his life, the publication of the Registers of the Consistory, the disciplinary body Calvin helped to found, first in their original language and then translated into English.
I’ve spent decades reading and comparing primary sources produced by church fathers with secondary sources purporting to tell us what those primary sources and their authors said.
Here is Bradley’s final tweet in the stream:
Racism has always been an evil the Church has had to expose and fight against. Read Galatians. True prophets of God don’t fight it by hopping on some bandwagon of Wokesters. They fight it by condemning the racists face to face as the Apostle Paul did the Apostle Peter. They never stoop to shaming and denouncing dead men whose sons bear witness to their father’s prophetic witness which made them who they are.
(Sixth in a series.)