Recently Larycia Hawkins, a professor at a Christian college in Chicago, was placed on administrative leave after stating that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. She believes the administrators of Wheaton College were wrongful in their actions and has butted heads with them a number of times; the school said that “Hawkins has stated clearly her unwillingness to participate in such further clarifying conversations.”
Hawkins’ statements on Facebook supported that she “stands in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book…. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”
She’ll soon be going before the college’s Faculty Personnel Committee to resolve recommendations on her employment at Wheaton.
You can see how this would become something so controversial today as the number of stories of persecution and “fighting for your rights” circulate headlines weekly, even beyond the Christian community. It’s an age-old battle. It may be controversial, but it’s not complicated, and here are three reasons why:
1. If her belief system is inconsistent with the faith-based institution whose doctrinal statement is clearly spelled out and integrated in its teaching system, then it’s up to her to either support the school’s mission or find a place elsewhere that aligns with what she believes. It’s really that simple. Wheaton College’s Statement of Faith and Educational Purpose, originally written in 1924, is as clear as day on their website. As you can read for yourself, these are doctrinal statements most central to the Christian faith that contradict what the Muslim faith claims about who Jesus is as a prophet and essentially in relation to God, which I’ll cover in my last point. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Hawkins had been asked to affirm the college’s statement of faith four times since she started teaching at Wheaton College nine years ago.” Larycia Hawkins has the freedom to her own beliefs, but it’s her responsibility to be aware of and respectful to the missional statement she’s subjected herself to; otherwise, she has the freedom to go elsewhere.
Disclaimer: My following points are directed to those who consider themselves to be of the Christian faith in accordance with biblical doctrine. Moving on….
2. It is totally possible to connect with the world around us in all its diversity without compromising the foundations of our faith. We’re called to love and respect all people no matter the race, gender, background or religion. I even believe that just in our human journey we can relate to each other when it comes to life experiences and many times believing in a divinity beyond ourselves. But we are certainly not called to reject or deny the truth of the gospel or who Jesus is in order to relate to those around us (read more about this). In psychological terms, that would be called a courtesy bias. This is when you lie about what you believe so that it’s better received in favor of the other person. Yes, we’re called to be bold. Yes, there is a way we can communicate the faith in love without being pushy, as you can read in a relevant Project Inspired article here. But no, you cannot call yourself a follower of Christ while simultaneously denying who He says He is in scripture. Which brings me to my next point….
3. Allah and the God of the Bible are not defined as the same God according to each faith’s very own definition of who He is. You don’t have to be a worldview expert or apologist to see the contradicting differences. For one, the Christian faith is central to the Biblical fact that Jesus is God in the flesh, while the Muslim faith would consider it blasphemy to state that Jesus was simply an inspired prophet.
- “I and the Father are one.” —Jesus (John 10:30)
- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”… “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14)
- “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (1 Colossians 15-17)
- Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
To make a very long theological story short, you cannot separate the divinity of Christ nor His resurrection from God. Essentially, when you deny who Christ is, you deny who God is because they are One. This is why we cannot make the general statement that Muslims and Christians worship the same God without denying the faith when we have two very different definitions of who God is and who Jesus is, no matter how likable we may want to be or relatable we may want to sound.
“WE BELIEVE that God has revealed Himself and His truth in the created order, in the Scriptures, and supremely in Jesus Christ…”
Judging by this sentence, Wheaton’s second statement of faith, we can say the school attests to this standard along with those educational purposes as a Christian college, and although it may seem controversial to some, it simply isn’t complicated.
[Source: Fox News]
What do you think? Was Wheaton College wrong or right in its decision regarding Hawkins, and why or why not? Comment below!