Yesterday’s protest didn’t make a huge splash on campus, although people are talking about it. Today the college president, who was scheduled to speak on chapel, yielded his time to archbishop Akinola. The president’s introduction of Akinola was very affectionate, which was to be expected as President Litfin is extremely conservative: he thinks Wheaton should be churning out more missionaries and does not think the church should accommodate homosexuality at all. So Litfin waxed eloquent about how we should learn from Akinola, and then Akinola waxed eloquent about what a wonderful institution Wheaton is and how lucky we are to be surrounded by Christians.
Akinola’s main message was this: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). He had the audience recite this passage aloud several times. You don’t know what’s out there in the world, he said. “Thank God we are all Christians” here on this campus. When you leave to go into the world you will encounter “the evil, the wicked”. It will be so horrible you won’t know what to do… I can’t remember the conclusion of his message because I tuned out at this point.
What I read between the lines was Akinola trying to justify his stance on homosexuality and other issues. He would regard gays as “bad company” and say Christians shouldn’t associate with them because they will be tainted by their evilness. (This supports the report of Akinola jumping back in disgust the one time he shook a gay person’s hand.)
In a broader context, Akinola is espousing the Christian view that draws a very deep line between “Christian” and “other”. I’d say that many people at Wheaton have been trying to get rid of that attitude, which has occasionally been comforting. But it is a deeply held view among conservatives that Christians should not be part of secular society, and even progressive individuals here believe firmly that a Christian can’t have a deep friendship with a non-Christian, for example. The Christian who is willing to approach non-Christians as their equal instead of as a target of evangelism is very rare indeed.
Finally, Akinola said that our task as students here is to become “deeply rooted in the love of Jesus Christ,” so that we can be equipped to deal with the evils of the world. Such blatant hypocrisy just boggles the mind, but no doubt in Akinola’s twisted logic, refusing to engage with unbelievers and gays is showing the love of Jesus.