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Christian University President Apologizes Following Criticism for Referencing Gender Identity, Nashville Shooting in ‘Flippant’ and ‘Calloused’ Manner

Trinity International University President Nicholas Perrin Apologizes
A car exits the Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

A fundraising letter that was recently sent to donors and alumni of Trinity International University has become the center of controversy for the “flippant” and “calloused” manner in which it addressed gender identity, particularly with regard to last month’s mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The letter was signed by Dr. Nicholas Perrin, who serves as president of the university, as well as of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), the seminary affiliated with the university. Following a wave of criticism, Perrin sent a follow-up letter to apologize. 

Headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, Trinity International University is affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church of America but serves a student base that is broadly evangelical. 

“It says much about the state of our culture when people barely flinch at a man proudly and confidently claiming to be a woman (or whatever identity happens to be the trend of the month) simply because he declares it to be so,” the fundraising letter began. “As Western culture becomes increasingly antagonistic to the gospel it also, necessarily, becomes increasingly detached from reality.” 

The letter continued, “It is no coincidence that a generation which denies the existence of the Creator and His laws also denies all other fundamental truths. The tragic implications of our culture’s dominant worldview became even more evident after the devastating shooting in Tennessee.”

The assailant in the attack on the private Christian school in Nashville, which claimed the lives of three children and three school employees, identified as a trans man.

The letter went on to express gratitude to the university’s faculty for instilling “the gospel into each subject that they teach” and for the resources the school provides “to ethically, compassionately, and biblically address the issues facing our world today.” Perrin then invited recipients of the letter to consider making a financial contribution.

After receiving the letter, David C. Cramer, who is a pastor, author, and graduate of TEDS, expressed online that he was “aghast and ashamed.” 

“Regardless of one’s theological anthropology, this is not the way I was taught to interpret and engage culture when I was a student,” Cramer wrote. “This letter is flippant, calloused, and dangerous. It reads like a fundraising letter for a right-wing political action group instead of a place of theological education.”

Cramer added that he would “be donating to orgs that provide support and care for our trans neighbors who are created in the image of God and are beloved children of God.”

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Others chimed in with their disapproval of the letter, including Dr. Fellipe do Vale, who serves as a professor of systematic theology at TEDS.