Editors note: The Pillars for Freedom are essential to our Christian university and its ability to continue our work in higher education. These freedoms were chosen with intentionality to align with OKWU’s mission. As we dive into these freedoms, we though it important to discuss that mission which is summed up in four different “Pillars”. Thus, in this two-part series, Provost Dr. Gentry Sutton, explains the meaning and purpose of Oklahoma Wesleyan University’s affectionately-dubbed “Four P’s”.
The primacy of Christ. The priority of Scripture. The pursuit of Truth. The practice of wisdom.
These are what we at Oklahoma Wesleyan University call our “four pillars.” Every significant institutional discussion is driven by them. People who visit our campus encounter them at almost every turn. The four pillars are featured prominently in our buildings and on our sidewalks. Students encounter them multiple times before they enroll and probably a couple of hundred times during their four years on campus.
While I am certainly not ashamed to admit that this essay is promotional for OKWU, the reality is that I would be ecstatic if hundreds of other institutions would plagiarize from our four pillars. As I think about the world my children are inheriting, I find great comfort and hope in OKWU’s commitment to its four pillars—and I would find even more comfort if hundreds of other institutions also had such a commitment.
Of course, commitment to something is not necessarily a good thing: people and institutions can easily be committed to bad ideas and bad practices. The real beauty of OKWU’s commitment to its four pillars lies in the fact that the pillars comprise the absolute perfect formula for helping students navigate and fix a culture gone astray.
And the beauty of this formula has everything to do with the order in which OKWU presents its pillars in its literature: (1) the primacy of Christ, (2) the priority of Scripture, (3) the pursuit of Truth, and (4) the practice of wisdom. These pillars, always presented in the important order noted above, drive the educational formula that OKWU executes so well: we teach students to cut through the muck and confusion of today’s cultural chaos with the time-tested truths inherent in our four pillars.
A short history lesson underscores both the importance and the beauty of this simple formula.
Although the term Christian fundamentalist is generally used pejoratively in conversations about Christianity—often connoting those closed-minded, legalistic, chauvinistic, and intolerant people so predictably caricatured by today’s entertainment industry—the term originally meant nothing more than one who believed in classical Christian orthodoxy. The term came about because of an early–twentieth-century group of Christian scholars who published a set of essays defending the fundamentals of Christianity against the ideas of liberal theologians. Two of the main ideas at issue were (1) the deity of Christ and (2) the authority of the Bible.
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