During its first 65 years, Wheaton College lacked a formal statement of faith. For the presidents, Jonathan and Charles Blanchard, and the trustees who governed during those days, a brief statement of purpose that committed the College to the orthodox Christian faith was sufficient.
During the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the 1920s, it became apparent that a statement of faith would help clarify the position of the College, especially as it responded to individual queries regarding Wheaton's adherence to the "fundamentals of the faith."
What became the basis of Wheaton’s Statement of Faith was first prepared for and adopted by the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association at its founding meeting in Philadelphia in 1919. Charles Blanchard had assisted the convention in the wording of this nine-point statement after a committee had come to an impasse. A few years later he suggested to the faculty and trustees that the College adopt a doctrinal statement. A statement that Blanchard crafted was circulated to faculty and trustees. This was later approved by the Executive Committee on July 14, 1924, and then adopted by the Board of Trustees on March 3, 1926, the same meeting in which J. Oliver Buswell was elected president of Wheaton College. (Charles Blanchard had died on December 20, 1925.)
The 1926 Statement made no mention of the Church, had only a passing comment regarding the creation of man, and committed the College for the first time to a premillennial position. Over the years the trustees added a footnote on creation, considered expanding the Statement to reflect the essential commitments of a Christian college, and discussed the wisdom of limiting the faculty to those who were pre-millennialists.
After heightened interest following the centennial of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species and publication of the American Scientific Affiliation's Evolution and Christian Thought Today, edited by Russell Mixter, Wheaton hosts a science symposium that eventually stirs up significant controversy for the college. Attendees from the community, particularly a local pastor, spread word that Wheaton was "countenancing evolution and theistic evolution." Once this was published in conservative journals president V. Raymond Edman received a deluge of concerned mail. Each letter was answered with several documents being sent as enclosures. All this led to a footnote being added to Wheaton's Statement of Faith that read: "Wheaton College is committed to the Biblical teaching that man was created by a direct act of God and not from previously existing forms of life; and that all men are descended from the historical Adam and Eve, first parents of the entire human race."
A later change to the statement of faith came in 1993. For many years the college's statement included a specific position on the timing of the return of Jesus Christ to rule and reign. All employees of Wheaton College were required to assent to the specificity of the stated pre-millennial position (Christ would return to institute a 1,000 year earthly reign). Over the decades not all Evangelicals subscribed to this position. In the early 1990s discussion increased on the appropriateness of this specific statement and the statement was edited to read:
In late 2002, roughly a decade after the last revision of Wheaton's Statement of Faith a student questioned the wording of the statement. After the significant "upgrading" of the statement in 1993 an inadvertent theological error was introduced. The 1993 revisions added "We believe that Jesus Christ was begotten by the Holy Spirit." The word, "begotten," was a source of great concern and was quickly changed in 2002 to "conceived." This helped bring Wheaton's statement into greater alignment with historical creeds and theology.