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Professor suspended for saying Muslims and Christians worship the same God

Professor suspended for saying Muslims and Christians worship the same God

It wasn’t the hijab that caused Wheaton College to suspend a tenured political science professor, it was her assertion that Muslims and Christians are not so different – “‘as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.'” Christianity Today reports:

A tenured Wheaton College political science professor who pledged to wear a hijab during Advent in support of her Muslim neighbors has been placed on administrative leave. Not for donning the Islamic head covering, but over “significant questions regarding the theological implications” of her explanation of why she was doing so.

“Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion, and theological clarity,” the college stated in announcing the decision. “As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”

That Statement of Faith can be found here. Associate Professor Larycia Alaine Hawkins, who has on the Wheaton faculty since 2007, posted a statement on her Facebook page, which included the following:

Whether or not you find this position, one held for centuries by countless Christians (church fathers, saints, and regular Christian folk like me), to be valid, I trust that we can peacefully disagree on theological points and affirm others like the Triune God (albeit there are differences here as well–Athanasian Creed, anyone?), the virgin birth (or Immaculate Conception depending on your persuasion), and the Resurrection. Let there be unity in our diversity of views about all of the above.

Hawkins cited “Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?” by Miroslav Volf in the Huffington Post, 2011, and a Christianity Today interview with Volf on the same topic, also in 2011.

Yesterday’s report also touches on controversies surrounding Jerry Falwell’s statement on guns and Wheaton’s response, and the decision of a Cordova, Tennessee church to open its doors to Muslims needing a worship space.

Hawkins, as a tenured faculty member, will go under review by the college.

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Gary Paul Gilbert

I am American but could easily have been Canadian if French Canadians had not migrated to New England in the 1930s. I speak both English and French and like Justin Trudeau. And I grew up with images of the Queen.

Gary Paul Gilbert

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Gary Paul Guilbert

Rod Gillis, yes, denominationalism used to be a problem. The question is can an identity be set up which doesn't put someone else down?

Gary Paul Gilbert

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Rod Gillis

I think so. For Example, I'm Canadian, but I have great regard for Americans, and for La France.

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Gary Paul Guilbert

This discussion reminds me of the days when the different denominations tried to unchurch each other. Now the target is more other religions or secularists. It would seem everyone wants God in their pocket. "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity."

In any case, the spirit blows where it wills and sometimes that is not within the walls of the institution.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Gary Paul Gilbert

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Rod Gillis

Good observation. Like many others, I grew up in a community divided along denominational lines. The religiously based divisiveness impacted every level of the community, civic politics, health care delivery, commerce, education, and most especially families. Waring denominations never saw a baptism, wedding or funeral they couldn't make dysfunctional.

The barriers in the world are formidable, based on money, ethnicity and religious faith, gender, geography. Religion ought to be about inter-faith dialogue and cross cultural communication.

Being an Anglican, for example, can make it very easy to live in a silo. Even a scholar like Dom Gregory Dix thought our own liturgy was something of side bar in the wider scheme of things. We ought to be more humble about our relatively small niche in the wider culture.

Those of us who are passionate about living in the Anglican tradition but are equally passionate about remediating in house injustice must speak up clearly and unequivocally against homophobia, Islamophobia,and other forms of discrimination in the church. It is the only way we can continue to belong with integrity.

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Rod Gillis

A friend of mine from Missouri once told me that, "small Christian colleges produce small Christians". How rich and vast by comparison is the witness to God by the three great Abrahamic faiths.

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Ann Fontaine

Diana Butler Bass when to a small Christian college. As did many who are wonderful witnesses for the diversity of faith now.

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Rod Gillis

That ought to read "self serving" not "self deserving" although perhaps there is a point to be made in the slip.

The God I worship, the God the Jewish kids in my child hood neighborhood worshiped (often disenfranchised by good Christian antisemitism) , the God the Iraqi refugees we sponsored worship, and who wanted to come to Holy Communion because they thought it the hospitable thing to do (refugees because of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq), its the same God. Blimey! Think big.

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Rod Gillis

As did I, but my point remains notwithstanding. Trying to disenfranchise Muslims as faithful reminds me of the evangelical efforts pre-Nixon to write off the entire nation of China because they were deemed to be "godless commies" .
Folks ought to read Islamic scholars and Sufi mystics, they would humble any Christian monotheist. We have to stand up to this myopic insular self -deserving untutored nonsense.

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Sally E.

To have future comments approved, please follow the comment policy of posting with your first & last names. - ed

Do Muslims believe that Allah sent his Son to redeem the world? I don't think so.

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David Streever

They don't. Nor do followers of Judaism.

Regardless, all three are "Abrahamic faiths", which means that they all believe they follow the God that Abraham followed. You and I may disagree with their ideas about that God, or the way they follow that God, but it's still the same God.

Some theologians have, in the past, claimed that followers of Judaism followed a different God, because they didn't recognize Jesus; those theologians are typically viewed as heretics. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a well-respected modern theologian who says that Christians, Muslims, and Jews aren't all Abrahamic.

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Prof Christopher Seitz

This is far too simplistic.

The NT insists everywhere that the God of Israel is the only God. That makes Jews and Christians unique partners. The Rule of Faith that the Church Fathers insisted on claimed that One God was the God of Two Testaments.

Islam is in a category of its own, and one must work out what this means on an altogether different canvas, as it emerged centuries later and for extremely different reasons -- reasons it insists are different and asymmetrical to NT claims.

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David Allen

No, they don't. But you miss the point. No one here has said that Jews, Christians and Muslims believe the same things about God. We have pointed out time and again that we don't. But we are stating that the thing we share is that we all believe in the God of Abraham, who is the creator of the universe.

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