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Wheaton college professor headed to University of Virginia

Wheaton college professor headed to University of Virginia

RNS News:

(RNS) Larycia Hawkins, who left Wheaton College in the wake of controversy over her statement that Christians and Muslims worship one God, has a new gig: a fellowship named for a Muslim military hero.

The University of Virginia announced Thursday (March 3) that she will join its Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture as the “Abd el-Kader Visiting Faculty Fellow,” named for a 19th-century Algerian leader who was committed to intercultural dialogue.

More about Hawkins here from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. More about her colleagues at the Institute here.


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Paul Woodrum

So many different names suggests many different gods, not just different ways of worship. We may indeed claim Jews, Christians and Muslims worship one god, but is it the same one? With Leslie, I’m dubious.

Ariane Wolfe

Hi Paul (& Leslie),

I think… I understand… I believe… that God is God. “I Am That I Am”, “Allah”, “Abba”, “God”, “Jesus”, “Holy Spirit”, and even “Buddha”, “Kali” and a host of others… I believe that God is not this one, finite thing that we experience, or limited to the names we use and the characteristics we label God with… that is all due to our human limitation and lack of ability to comprehend something so far beyond our own experience. If we cite the Bible (which translation? In Old English, modern english, paraphrased… in Greek? They differ greatly…), and claim that a quoted sentence or paragraph (from a specific translation) is The Only Right Way of understanding God; or if we say that someone else does not believe in *our* God because they don’t use the same words we do, or they have different ways of understanding, describing or worshipping… we’re really discussing *how people see and relate to* God – not *Who and What God truly is*.

I think that God is so much more vast than we can see or conceive, that there may be as many ways of seeing/calling God as there are people who Seek… but it’s ALL God; and I have to think that using different names doesn’t change God’s own nature. Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Even if you were to call a rose, “cactus” or “gardenia”… it would still be a rose. If Jesus and the way the Bible describes Him are your barometer (as they are mine), good! That’s what brings you closest to the Divine and it’s a wonderful thing. AND… it doesn’t mean that if others access, call upon or speak about God by another name, they’re not talking about “the same God”. How many Gods do we believe there are?

As far as I understand it (and admittedly I’ll only be able to verify it when I die), there is only one: God is God.

David Allen

I think that it is a semantic difference in English grammar whether an author/reporter says “the same God” or says “one God.”

Allah = God in Arabic. Arab Christians call the God whom they worship Allah. So one might say that Allah in the Koran contradicts Allah in the Bible. Or that God in the Koran contradicts God in the Bible. I think that one could also point out where Allah in the Old Testament contradicts Allah in the New Testament.

Prof. Christopher Seitz

Allah = YHWH = Ha’El?

This is a position without any clear sense of 1) language, 2) history of religion, 3) history.

Allah is a south semitic word meaning ‘The God.’

The OT version of this might be ‘Elohim.

But ‘Elohim can mean ‘gods’ as well. ‘The God’ is YHWH’ YHWH alone’. So Jesus’ assertion in the synoptics.

christopher seitz

A linguist would find upside down the idea that the Arabic word Allah (definite article at the end, as with Aramaic) refers to YHWH, the God (ha-el) of the OT. That a modern translation of the OT in Arabic may choose to use the word Allah for the generic ‘god’ (gods, God) does not change the fact that *it is a translation* of a Hebrew text, in which the revealed name YHWH must be rendered with a similar work-around like “The LORD.” And that this work-around enables makes YHWH and kyrios to rhyme is at the heart of Christian Theology. The name above every name is the Tetragrammaton, not a generic word for ‘god’.

If you wish to say that ‘the God’ Muslims worship is the same God as ‘Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’ then you and others can make that claim, and then wrestle with what it means for ‘God’ to reside behind languages used to call on Him. That is what certain theologians want to claim. I find it difficult for it reduces language to the accidents of a (platonic) substance and tends to spiritualize/abstract the relational claims made by Jews and Christians when it comes to YHWH and the Triune God. These claims include the way the OT and NT talk about election and adoption, covenant and love. Father and Son, and so forth.

But introducing translational conventions into the discussion can only confuse matters.

I say this with all charity and wish you a blessed Lent.

David Allen

Sadly you failed to grasp that I wasn’t referring to the actual names of deity that appear in the various sacred texts. I was speaking in the general sense which most folks use today.

Lathe Snyder

A much better job at a much better place.

William (Bill) Paul

Well, I am glad things worked out for her. But comparing a small confessional Christian College with UVA, a major university, in a meaningful way is a bit more complex. If one allows that small confessional Christian schools are worth having (and I think they are) then Wheaton, for all its faults, including a rush to judgment it seems, by their own admission in this case, is a pretty remarkable place. Even in terms of the raw number of people who go on for PhD’s, and the percentage of the same as a proportion of the size of the student body, and the number of students who go to med school and become medical missionaries, and the number who go into development/relief work, the school is remarkable. Anybody who really knows it, will admit it’s narrow focus relative to other places, but will know also the healthy, wholesome atmosphere, the cheerfulness that percolates there year after year, and caring faculty. Andrew White, N.T. Wright, Madeleine L’Engle come quickly to mind as people who have been effusive in their praise for Wheaton–F. Beuchner, too.

I thought Wheaton over-reacted but, also, that Prof Hawkins was incautious in saying “we are all people of the Book” instead of just saying “I’m doing this as a matter of human solidarity.” That’s not the point I set out to make. I just wanted to respond to the two possibly snarky put downs of Wheaton here. (And, if life outside the classroom matters to this posters, I know that I would rather live again in a Wheaton dorm than a dorm, frat or sorority at UVa, having been fwiw, a dorm parent at a place similar to secular UVA for almost a decade.)

Mark Hunter

This whole issue took me by surprise. It had been my understanding from a young age that the big three western monotheists all point toward the same Godhead. Even in our Christian tradition we call God by different names. I’m pleased that Larycia has landed in a good place (even if it is in Charlottesville and not Blacksburg).

Leslie Marshall

Professor Hawkins didn’t say that Muslims and Christians/Jews worship one God. She said, they worship the ‘same’ God.

Allah teaches:
–there is no Son
–there is no Holy Spirit (except angel Gabriel)
–the bible is corrupt (except where it agrees with Koran)
–no original sin, man is not sinful by nature
–Judas died on the cross (not Jesus)
–Salvation depends on obeying Koran
–Salvation depends on good works
–Heaven is where ones desires are fulfilled
–Abraham offered Ishmael as a sacrifice (not Isaac).

Allah contradicts the God of the bible.

JC Fisher

“Allah teaches…”

Leslie, it really surprises me that you accept that Quran is the literal word of Allah (God).

Humans wrote BOTH sacred scriptures (Bible and Quran). The only question is how much fallible humanity, vs how much perfect inspiration, is to be found in both texts. God/Allah is ALWAYS mediated via human subjectivity. That’s just the way God/Allah designed it (Blessed be!).

Leslie Marshall

DS…thanks for your comments.

For me, the way to find out if a religion is true, is to hold it up against the Bible. One can make a chart, with things like: God, Creation, Prophets, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Resurrection, Eternal Life at the top, and just go down the list. What does Mormonism say about God? What does the (Jewish) Old Testament say about Jesus? What does Islam say about Heaven?

To me, if it matches up 100% with the bible, then it is true, there is no darkness in it.

The reason I say this is, Jesus (God) called himself The Truth and The Light. [If you believe a lie, perpetuate a lie, live a lie….then what good is it?]

Note: re Jews…the Old Testament is covered with Jesus’ fingerprints, even from Creation in Genesis. Everything points to Messiah. The Jewish Messiah came for the Jews first. They saw him. They rejected Him. The continuum from OT to NT…is merely one of faith. Who do you put your faith in? [Jesus said, ‘If you don’t know the Son, you don’t know the Father.’]. Which is a long way of saying…a Jewish believer accepts Jesus as Messiah, accepts Old Testament & New, and is expectantly waiting for Messiah’s return.

David Streever

I believe we already had this discussion, but I’ll ask again: do you say that Jewish people worship a different God? What about Mormons? What about Quakers? What about Roman Catholics? What about born-again Christians?

If a Christian doesn’t have a theologically robust understanding of original sin, do they still worship the same God?

I think you’re having a different conversation. No one is saying that Muslims worship God the same way we do; rather, people have been saying (For quite a long time) that Muslims come from the same tradition we come from, and that they too seek to worship the same God we seek to worship. If they do so ‘poorly’ by your standards, so be it; if they do so incorrectly by your standards, again, so be it. I think it’s rather hard though to prove, as you attempt, that they do not try to worship a God which is identified as the same God we try to worship.

Cynthia Katsarelis

UVA is way better. Major league. Good for her!

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