Many around the country associated with Grace Theological Seminary and Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, refer to former seminary professor John Whitcomb as “Mr. Grace.” For over 38 years, Whitcomb taught at Grace, the seminary of the Grace Brethren fellowship of churches.

But in February, just a few months short of his scheduled retirement, Whitcomb was relieved of his teaching responsibilities. In a letter sent to seminary students, alumni, and pastors, Grace Seminary president John Davis stated that Whitcomb for some time “has been a source of division in the seminary and college resulting from off-campus and on-campus activities that have fallen well short of propriety and God-honoring sensitivity.”

Davis is a former student of Whitcomb’s; the two are long-time friends, colleagues, and coauthors. But they could not disagree more in their analyses of what is happening at the school. Their dispute illustrates the tension in Christian higher education between faith and learning (see previous article).

Breaking From Tradition?

Whitcomb maintains some faculty members hold theological and doctrinal views that seriously deviate from Grace’s traditional emphases, including biblical inerrancy, premillennialism, and biblical creationism. (The school officially maintains a young-earth, six 24-hour-day view of Creation.)

In various speaking engagements and in other contacts with those associated with Grace, Whitcomb has been candid in his analysis—out of concern, he says, for the seminary he considers home. In a letter responding to the Davis epistle, Whitcomb writes, “Do we angrily dismiss a surgeon who points to cancer cells within our body which we do not want to see?”

Davis charged in his letter that Whitcomb’s problems with ...

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