Acts 20:29-30 – “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
This is apparently what the administration of Patrick Henry College is telling students about the Soulforce Equality Ride, as if hearing what these young people have to say is actually dangerous to them. Can they not be trusted to figure out for themselves what the truth is? It’s an interesting passage to choose, because it portrays the messengers as something other than human. Fellow human beings would require a loving response; “savage wolves” do not.
Here is Luke 19:1-6, as we suppose it would be reinterpreted by PHC:
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he closed his heart, and challenged Jesus to an intellectually rigorous debate at a neutral location.
Or maybe Matthew 25:31-36 is more to the point.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you told me I wasn’t really, I was thirsty and you said that drinking air was really better for me, I was a stranger and you taught me about private property, I needed clothes and you challenged me to a debate, I was sick and you said I deserved it, I was in prison and you told me that I put myself there.’
According to this comment by a student, “PHC offered to co-host an intellectually rigorous debate together with Soulforce off-site at a ‘neutral’ location. Soulforce backed away from any such thing, and said they wanted to come on-campus, at which PHC gave them a cease-and-desist order, since it is private property and Soulforce obviously isn’t interested in such a rigorous debate.”
Obviously – because what Soulforce is interested in is dialogue and reconciliation, not debate. This is not an intellectual exercise, in which teams rack up points and “win” something at the end. This is about exchanging stories and listening to each other. It’s called conversation. The problem seems to be that there isn’t much point in listening if you believe you already have all the answers.