The four pillars of the Oklahoma Wesleyan University mission statement are “the primacy of Christ, the priority of Scripture, the pursuit of Truth and the practice of Wisdom.” While the first three of these pillars are likely self-explanatory to most of you, the fourth may appear less so. What do we mean when we say this university is a “community of learners that works to promote healing and wholeness in a broken culture and hurting world by ‘practicing Wisdom?” What is the “brokenness” that we seek to make whole? What is the “hurt” we seek to “heal?” Why do we believe “practicing wisdom” makes our culture and our world any better?
A man with a strange name, who was an abolitionist in the mid-1800’s, may shed some light on this question. His name was Orange Scott. He was an Episcopal Methodist pastor and, later, the founder of what is now the Wesleyan Church.
In the midst of the national debate leading up to the Civil War, Orange Scott did not apologize for his passion for the primacy of Christ and the priority of Scripture. He, likewise, was relentless in his pursuit of truth. For Scott, it was self-evident: all human beings had dignity and the subjugation of a one human being to that of another was a national disgrace. Scott, likewise, challenged his church’s willful ignorance about the sin of slavery. Political and cultural disengagement was simply not acceptable. He believed it was clear: the Church had no option but to enter the town square and shine the light of truth on the darkest corners of our culture. “We must,” he said, “examine faithfully and critically the condition of the country…[calling] attention… to the wrongs and outrages suffered by the [its] wretched slaves … [Lighting] a torch… to the slumbering national mind [so that] it would be roused to see the evil and defilement of our land.”
By teaching our students to pursue truth and practice Wisdom, we at OKWU hope to, likewise, “light a torch to the slumbering national mind…” We hope to draw attention to the “defilement of our land;” to the “wrongs and outrages” suffered by the “wretched” victims of our time who are held in no less bondage than those slaves in the day of Orange Scott:
- The multitude of men and women who have bought the lie that they have no freedom to rise above their biology and have no choice but to be governed by their genetics.
- The millions of babies that are being slaughtered every year under the banner of “choice” and “family planning.”
- The masses of men, women and children who still experience the evil of slavery in the form sexual trafficking.
Orange Scott understood that Wisdom is something you don’t just think about. Wisdom is not just a noun. It is a verb. Wisdom speaks the truth. Wisdom takes action. Wisdom sets the captive free. Wisdom “arouses the slumbering national mind.” Wisdom works for “healing and wholeness in a broken culture and hurting world.”
At OKWU we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Bible is the Word of God, Truth is given by God and Practicing Wisdom is, indeed, demanded by God. At OKWU we have have no option: We Practice Wisdom!
Talking Points With President Piper is a weekly column featured in the Examiner-Enterprise newspaper. In addition to serving as the Oklahoma Wesleyan President, Dr. Everett Piper is also a frequent guest commentator on a variety of talk radio programs across the nation, as well as a published author and essayist.