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Wheaton College associate professor Larycia Hawkins Phd., center, is greeted with applause from supporters as she begins her remarks during a news conference Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Chicago. Hawkins, a Christian teaching political science at the private evangelical school west of Chicago, was put on leave Tuesday. In recent days, she began wearing a hijab, the headscarf worn by some Muslim women, to counter what she called the "vitriolic" rhetoric against Muslims in recent weeks. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Photo credit: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

If you’re an evangelical with an internet connection, you’ve probably heard about the Wheaton College professor suspended recently for saying that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

First, let me acknowledge the following.

  • The response by the Wheaton leadership—I would bet my bottom dollar—does not represent the views of all leadership and certainly not all faculty. I don’t want to assume that everyone there is necessarily happy about Wheaton’s response, even if there are likely many who support it vigorously. And when we say “Wheaton” did this and that, what we really mean is “Wheaton’s president” speaking on behalf of the college (which is his job description).
  • There is always more to a story than what outsiders see. Always. I don’t know what that story is, and whatever it is it’s none of my business, but there is a larger context here that we are missing and that might nuance our reactions one way or another.
  • I don’t want to assume that the affected faculty member, Larycia Hawkins, would not or has not put her public comments into a larger narrative of offering differences between Islam and Christianity. In other words, I don’t want to assume that these words represent her complete thoughts on the subject, and thus she should not be judged solely by them.

OK, so much for the standard (but important) caveats. Let me get to my point.

A friend of mine made a comment on my Facebook page that—unlike the cat videos I normally post—made me stop and think for a moment. I wanted to share that with you (with his permission) because I feel it would be helpful in thinking through not simply what is happening at Wheaton, but how Christians can live in a post-Christian western world.

What do we make of Acts 17:22-31, where Paul alludes to his God and the god the Athenians worshiped as the same God, “not far from each one of us,” though unknown to them, and then offers clarifying comments over differences?

If this is all we knew of Paul—if  he had posted this on Facebook with no other context—I wonder how we might react.

The New Interpreter’s Study Bible has this note to Acts 17:22-31: “The speech has a notable lack of elements of the gospel message or reference to Jesus.” The only distinctly Christian thing Paul refers to here is the resurrection (tacked on) at the end of his speech. Where is the atonement, the deity of Christ, the Trinity, etc.?

The Jewish Annotated New Testament: “Paul’s description of God as sole, self-sufficient creator not confined to any sanctuary was shared by Jews and others philosophically informed.” Not only does Paul continue his failure to offer a robust defense of core Christian doctrines at such a golden public opportunity, but he caves in to culture and his desire to be “relevant” by pitting himself against the “clear” OT  teaching on the centrality of the Temple.

You see my point.

Of course, I am not suggesting that Paul’s words support a can’t-we-all-get-along-because-all-religions-are-the-same-anyway vibe. (Paul does get to the resurrection as the core distinctive by which the Athenians would know this unknown god.) But I don’t think Hawkins is saying this either—at least that is not what I see.

And neither am I suggesting Paul’s speech to the Athenians is a prooftext that simply justifies Hawkins’s comments—though I’ve seen evangelical theology defended on flimsier grounds.

I am suggesting that perhaps Hawkins’s comments could be read in a more generous light, as a comment pertinent to a particular moment, as was Paul’s.

Hawkins’s comments might be seen as something like what Paul did in Athens: a follower of Jesus speaking publicly into a broader world that does not take for granted evangelical sensibilities.

True, Hawkins works for an evangelical college, and some might argue that is where her first loyalties lie. I get that.

But that then raises the question of where an evangelical institution’s first loyalties lie.

Is it to maintain an evangelical identity first and foremost, or does it have a more pressing responsibility to speak the gospel sympathetically and creatively (as Paul is doing) into the world around us? (I realize that is a complex issue and one size might not fit every situation.)

Like Paul, Hawkins’s comments and our responses—whether institutional or personal—have a context. In our current climate, where tensions with and hatred of Muslims by Christians abound in the public eye, might not Hawkins’s public comments be justified—even wise and necessary—on Christian grounds?

Even if Hawkins’s comments are not all that can be said, are they not at least something that needs to be said?

[Please be patient as your comment is in moderation. Comments are normally posted within 6 hours but may take as long as 24—longer if you’re annoying. Not at all if you’re just looking for a fight.]

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.

102 Comments

  • Lewis says:

    “Where do an evangelical institution’s first loyalties lie?”
    Exactly!
    What are some sections of Evangelism so terrified of and what are they defending?

    • Hill Roberts says:

      They are terrified of losing income from donors that have presummed expectations and little discernment, and they are defending their right to be just as, if not more, self-serving as any other secular institution. Not really sure things like “gospel” or “Jesus” enter into it for situations such as these. Certainly was not a factor in any of the “Christian College” situations I’ve encountered at my far corner of fundamentalist college squabbles.

      • Lewis says:

        Somethings never change!
        “Religious” “Authorities” doing what they do best!
        But still beggars belief.
        No wonder Jesus saved His scorn for this type of behavior.

    • ClaraB43 says:

      In the case of presidents of Evangelical colleges, they are terrified of losing donors who don’t do nuance. Follow the money.

      • Pete E. says:

        Although in this case, even if donors were not an issue, the current president would likely feel responsible to give a similar response.

        • Lewis says:

          What do you think the cause is then Pete?

          Lack of revelation and lack of love leading to a flat, rigid and fearful “reading” of scripture?

  • Lewis says:

    “Where do an evangelical institution’s first loyalties lie?”
    Exactly!
    What are some sections of Evangelism so terrified of and what are they defending?

    • Hill Roberts says:

      They are terrified of losing income from donors that have presummed expectations and little discernment, and they are defending their right to be just as, if not more, self-serving as any other secular institution. Not really sure things like “gospel” or “Jesus” enter into it for situations such as these. Certainly was not a factor in any of the “Christian College” situations I’ve encountered at my far corner of fundamentalist college squabbles.

      • Lewis says:

        Somethings never change!
        “Religious” “Authorities” doing what they do best!
        But still beggars belief.
        No wonder Jesus saved His scorn for this type of behavior.

    • ClaraB43 says:

      In the case of presidents of Evangelical colleges, they are terrified of losing donors who don’t do nuance. Follow the money.

      • Pete E. says:

        Although in this case, even if donors were not an issue, the current president would likely feel responsible to give a similar response.

        • Lewis says:

          What do you think the cause is then Pete?

          Lack of revelation and lack of love leading to a flat, rigid and fearful “reading” of scripture?

  • RustbeltRick says:

    I’m of the opinion that Wheaton over-reacted. From the few things I read, it seemed that Hawkins wanted to make a statement of solidarity with a population (Muslims) that is under an unusual amount of fire, most of it ignorant and some of it flat-out alarming (closing mosques, forbidding them to enter the US as immigrants, etc.). Somehow the statement of solidarity is being spun into Hawkins offering a full-on endorsement of Islam. Understanding what she’s doing requires the patience to look at nuance, and I think in this era there is little such patience, even among college presidents who ought to know better. Since I got my BA from a Christian college, I am very familiar with faculty member being removed when they don’t adhere to the party line, but I always find it a bit sad; I don’t know how religious schools can claim that they value a diversity of opinions when they liquidate those staff members who step outside the lines.

  • RustbeltRick says:

    I’m of the opinion that Wheaton over-reacted. From the few things I read, it seemed that Hawkins wanted to make a statement of solidarity with a population (Muslims) that is under an unusual amount of fire, most of it ignorant and some of it flat-out alarming (closing mosques, forbidding them to enter the US as immigrants, etc.). Somehow the statement of solidarity is being spun into Hawkins offering a full-on endorsement of Islam. Understanding what she’s doing requires the patience to look at nuance, and I think in this era there is little such patience, even among college presidents who ought to know better. Since I got my BA from a Christian college, I am very familiar with faculty member being removed when they don’t adhere to the party line, but I always find it a bit sad; I don’t know how religious schools can claim that they value a diversity of opinions when they liquidate those staff members who step outside the lines.

  • I have a post ready about this, but won’t let it go live until next week. Essentially, I think that while Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all in the Abrahamic tradition, they do not all describe the same deity. Christianity since at least Nicea worships (with a few notable exceptions) the Trinity. The nature of this god is well-defined in the creeds of the church. As I mentioned, there are exceptions, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses with their unitarian view of god, Oneness Pentescostals with a form of modalistic monarchianism, and Mormons with tritheism that they still call a trinity. Although YHWH and Allah could arguably be the same deity (and yes, I know Allah simply means ‘the god’), I don’t think the same can be said of the Trinity.

    That’s my theological position, as an atheist.

    🙂

    As for the administrative aspect of what happened, we certainly do not know the whole story. It seems the hijab (which I take to be a healthy form of prophetic protest against prevailing xenophobic ideas) was not cited as the real issue. It was her theology. It’s hard to say if that’s really the case unless more is made known.

    • RustbeltRick says:

      “It was her theology.” I think you’re right, but did she actually make extensive theological pronouncements? I suppose Wheaton would answer yes, and I’m thinking it’s pretty flimsy. If someone at a local ecumenical meeting of church leaders said “we all worship the same God,” it would be a very non-controversial thing to say, even among people with vastly different faith backgrounds. I suppose in the bubble of a Christian university, and in an environment of intense scrutiny of Islam, it’s more of a hot button expression.

      • I’ve been in the theological hothouse environment of a Christian university (Harding) and totally see how this can be a massive issue for them, while the rest of the world just yawns. Also, to be clear, if I thought that there were a god (and only one), I’d probably side with the position that Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same one (but someone is mistaken about him). Since that’s not my view, and given the distinct and well-established differences between the evangelical understanding (as rooted in the ecumenical creeds) and the understanding of the godhead in Judaism and Islam, I have to conclude that they are discussing different deities. My post is live now, by the way. http://adamgonnerman.net/post/135440899637/which-one-god-one-of-the-news-items-that-pinged

        • hoosier_bob says:

          Adam,

          I think you make a god point in the first paragraph of your piece. That is, that Hawkins’ motivation seems to spring from a genuine Christian desire to speak in an “embodied” way against the toxic anti-Muslim rhetoric that has unfortunately come to the fore in recent months. I doubt that she gave even a passing thought to the fact that anyone could reasonably interpret her views as going against Wheaton’s Statement of Faith.

          Even so, I wonder whether this isn’t really the rub. After all, the political candidates who are fanning the flames of this anti-Muslim rhetoric are, according to pollsters, the ones who attract the greatest support from white evangelicals. So, I do suspect that there’s a theological angle here. That angle, though, probably has little to do with whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Rather, it likely has more to do with the Christian propriety of anti-Muslim animus and the conviction Hawkins’ actions may have caused certain segments of Wheaton’s off-campus constituency.

          Bear in mind that, in the weeks preceding these events, a number of Wheaton students penned an open letter criticizing the statements of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. For reasons that are rather perplexing, the Wheaton administration felt the need to proffer its own take on its students’ letter. The administration’s responses to the student letter were hardly enthusiastic. In fact, the administration seemed to be taking great pains to avoid affirming what the students had done. It read more like a back-handed compliment, and fell short of calling out anti-Muslim animus as sinful.

          Ironically, I found my way to evangelicalism by way of Wheaton College, i.e., by Mark Noll’s writings, to be precise. As the mainline Christianity in which I was raised hurtled into theological chaos, I was impressed by the renewed efforts of evangelicals to move away from the fundamentalist past and take on a “Mere Christianity” kind of orthodoxy. I stuck with the movement for about 15 years until it became clear that the hopes that drew me to evangelicalism would never be fulfilled. The pettiness of Wheaton’s actions against Hawkins illustrate precisely why I returned to the Protestant mainline. Evangelicalism was increasingly becoming defined around the socio-political preferences of a particular subculture. It’s hard to believe that Hawkins was disciplined because she promoted theological error. Rather, she was likely disciplined because she gored the political oxen of Wheaton’s off-campus constituency. Incidentally, I was recently giving some thought to giving evangelicalism another chance. After all, there are things I miss about it. This event has led me to see what a silly exercise that would be on my part.

          • accelerator says:

            “Pettiness.” A shame you so quickly attribute the worst possible motives to people you do not know. Which such an already compromised assessment of integrity, the conversation dies in the water.

          • Pete E. says:

            No need to feel “shame.” Wheaton made public comments and people are free to express what they think–even you when you swoop in and correct them from your even higher vantage point.

          • Adam Shields says:

            Pettiness may be the wrong word. But it is hard to attribute good motives to an administration that places a tenured professor on suspension without directly speaking with her. (Which Provost Jones has said was the case here.)

    • Percival says:

      Presumably, as an atheist, you can say that we create the gods (or God). That is, that any presumed deity is a construct of the mind. Therefore, any agreement about what might constitute the same deity is up to interpretation and negotiation on the criteria we would use to categorize our pantheon. This, unfortunately, is the language that Christians adopt when they ask if Muslims worship the same god as they do. Congratulations. You have won the day. When we ask questions according to your presumptions that means the fight is over. You win.

  • I have a post ready about this tomorrow (Fiday, 12/18). Essentially, I think that while Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all in the Abrahamic tradition, they do not all describe the same deity. Christianity since at least Nicea worships (with a few notable exceptions) the Trinity. The nature of this god is well-defined in the creeds of the church. As I mentioned, there are exceptions, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses with their unitarian view of god, Oneness Pentescostals with a form of modalistic monarchianism, and Mormons with tritheism that they still call a trinity. Although YHWH and Allah could arguably be the same deity (and yes, I know Allah simply means ‘the god’), I don’t think the same can be said of the Trinity.

    That’s my theological position, as an atheist.

    🙂

    As for the administrative aspect of what happened, we certainly do not know the whole story. It seems the hijab (which I take to be a healthy form of prophetic protest against prevailing xenophobic ideas) was not cited as the real issue. It was her theology. It’s hard to say if that’s really the case unless more is made known.

    • RustbeltRick says:

      “It was her theology.” I think you’re right, but did she actually make extensive theological pronouncements? I suppose Wheaton would answer yes, and I’m thinking it’s pretty flimsy. If someone at a local ecumenical meeting of church leaders said “we all worship the same God,” it would be a very non-controversial thing to say, even among people with vastly different faith backgrounds. I suppose in the bubble of a Christian university, and in an environment of intense scrutiny of Islam, it’s more of a hot button expression.

    • Percival says:

      Presumably, as an atheist, you can say that we create the gods (or God). That is, that any presumed deity is a construct of the mind. Therefore, any agreement about what might constitute the same deity is up to interpretation and negotiation on the criteria we would use to categorize our pantheon. This, unfortunately, is the language that Christians adopt when they ask if Muslims worship the same god as they do. Congratulations. You have won the day. When we ask questions according to your presumptions that means the fight is over. You win.

  • AlanCK says:

    “Where do an evangelical institution’s first loyalties lie?” Easy, the gospel as interpreted by the board and the donor community.Evangelical apostolicity and the consequent exercise of authority and interpretation has always been a commodity of sorts that is purchasable. The bane of the independent Christian institution is that there is no bishop when you really, really need one–like in this instance.

  • AlanCK says:

    “Where do an evangelical institution’s first loyalties lie?” Easy, the gospel as interpreted by the board and the donor community.Evangelical apostolicity and the consequent exercise of authority and interpretation has always been a commodity of sorts that is purchasable. The bane of the independent Christian institution is that there is no bishop when you really, really need one–like in this instance.

  • Seán says:

    Although it is different, I do not believe it is a stretch to say that Wheaton is joining the ranks of Liberty in our current climate. It is disappointing and scary!

  • Seán says:

    Although it is different, I do not believe it is a stretch to say that Wheaton is joining the ranks of Liberty in our current climate. It is disappointing and scary!

  • Another facet of the analogy is that perhaps -we- expect Paul’s message to be about atonement and a high Christology and whatnot, so we’re surprised not to see it in Athens. It’s possible those things are just not that important to Paul’s core message, and his statement is not a strange presentation of the Gospel at all. It seems strange to us because of our expectations.

    There may be a parallel here in how evangelicalism at large is interpreting Hawkins’ comments. Maybe it says more about our expectations than what a Christian is required to say.

  • Phil Ledgerwood says:

    Another facet of the analogy is that perhaps -we- expect Paul’s message to be about atonement and a high Christology and whatnot, so we’re surprised not to see it in Athens. It’s possible those things are just not that important to Paul’s core message, and his statement is not a strange presentation of the Gospel at all. It seems strange to us because of our expectations.

    There may be a parallel here in how evangelicalism at large is interpreting Hawkins’ comments. Maybe it says more about our expectations than what a Christian is required to say.

  • Natalie Dormer says:

    In 2006, Wheaton fired a professor who converted to Catholicism.

    https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/01/12/faith

    Evangelicals and Catholics don’t always see eye to eye, but they both agree they worship the same God. Wheaton has a long and specific statement of faith. It’s not new, everyone at the college knows about it, and everyone signs it. I don’t know what this professor’s true angle is here, but I would bet she’ll need to dust off her resume sometime soon.

  • Natalie D. says:

    In 2006, Wheaton fired a professor who converted to Catholicism.

    https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/01/12/faith

    Evangelicals and Catholics don’t always see eye to eye, but they both agree they worship the same God. Wheaton has a long and specific statement of faith. It’s not new, everyone at the college knows about it, and everyone signs it. I don’t know what this professor’s true angle is here, but I would bet she’ll need to dust off her resume sometime soon.

  • John says:

    “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). While the context of this passage is much debated, I think the best reading goes something like this: (1) it’s fine to eat meat sacrificed to idols unknowingly because an idol is nothing, but (2) its not fine to eat meat sacrificed to idols if you are made aware of it. The second is true because we want to be careful who or what we give honor or credence to by the cultural associations of a given activity. I think Paul would say that wearing a Muslim scarf is a no, no.

    I would caution people who attempt to use Acts 17 as a declaration of the gospel as well. Paul had already preached the gospel to the Athenians in 17:18: “Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.” What follows is more of a defense than it is a gospel presentation.

  • John says:

    “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). While the context of this passage is much debated, I think the best reading goes something like this: (1) it’s fine to eat meat sacrificed to idols unknowingly because an idol is nothing, but (2) its not fine to eat meat sacrificed to idols if you are made aware of it. The second is true because we want to be careful who or what we give honor or credence to by the cultural associations of a given activity. I think Paul would say that wearing a Muslim scarf is a no, no.

    I would caution people who attempt to use Acts 17 as a declaration of the gospel as well. Paul had already preached the gospel to the Athenians in 17:18: “Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.” What follows is more of a defense than it is a gospel presentation.

  • Bryan says:

    It would also seem reasonable to add Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek. Abraham acknowledges El Elyon as the same God as Yahweh. What seems interesting here is that Abraham does not seem to make a paternal allusion, crediting Yahweh as the better version while Paul does use paternal language to demonstrate the superiority of Yahweh. I have long struggled with the question, “What gives Christianity the right to use paternal language when acknowledging Christianity as the superior religion?” Why not the converse for any other religion? A great example of this is Vatican II’s statement on acknowledging other religions as valid paths to God but ultimately everyone must come through Christianity. I think Hawkins’ statement is a much needed one in the classroom.

  • Bryan says:

    It would also seem reasonable to add Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek. Abraham acknowledges El Elyon as the same God as Yahweh. What seems interesting here is that Abraham does not seem to make a paternal allusion, crediting Yahweh as the better version while Paul does use paternal language to demonstrate the superiority of Yahweh. I have long struggled with the question, “What gives Christianity the right to use paternal language when acknowledging Christianity as the superior religion?” Why not the converse for any other religion? A great example of this is Vatican II’s statement on acknowledging other religions as valid paths to God but ultimately everyone must come through Christianity. I think Hawkins’ statement is a much needed one in the classroom.

  • Marshall says:

    There is only one God (tautologically, given philosoiphical monotheism), so to the extent anyone worships truly, we worship the same God. And to the extent we are mistaken, often we are mistaken differently.

  • Marshall says:

    There is only one God (tautologically, given philosoiphical monotheism), so to the extent anyone worships truly, we worship the same God. And to the extent we are mistaken, often we are mistaken differently.

  • Patrick Hare says:

    What would Wheaton’s position be if a professor claimed, horror of horrors, that Christians worship the same God as Jews?

  • Patrick Hare says:

    What would Wheaton’s position be if a professor claimed, horror of horrors, that Christians worship the same God as Jews?

  • misterAmuses says:

    I am far too simple minded to understand where the issue is if I understand the English language correctly. If I say the Jew, the Christian, the follower of Jesus, the Muslim or the Zoroastrian worship the same God then that has to be a true statement UNLESS I myself believe there are multiple gods that each one could worship. The statement does NOT say, “Jews, Christians, followers of Jesus and Muslims” all worship God in the same way. IF they are worshipping and acknowledging the God who is the creator of all things, visible and invisible, then THAT is the God who is receiving their Worship. ie. ONE GOD!
    When God commanded his people that they should not worship any other “gods” his reference is to “idols”. Carved structures (such as a golden calf) to whom they would be ascribing creative powers when they in fact were “Dumb” and ” powerless”. When He describes himself as a “jealous God” he is not insecure in his person and demanding adoration. He is jealous of his people and does not want the false prophets of the “false gods” “abusing” his people or taking advantage of them. The same “jealousy” that Hosea had for Gomer. The same jealously any husband would have for his wife’s affection. For her sake, not his. Whether it was the God of Abram, or Melchizedek, Moses or Jethro the priest of Midian, or the magi from the east, or the “unknown God” (the one of whom the Athenians were his “offspring” ie Zeus), or the one Apollos worshipped, there is NO OTHER GOD to receive their worship.
    Our very point of evangelism should be as Acts 18:26 says of Aquila and Priscilla in speaking to Apollos: “…they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God ‘more perfectly’.” (more completely.)
    Surely the only requirement from God’s perspective is that which Habakkuk gives us, Paul takes up and Luther makes the foundation of the Reformation:

    “The Just shall live by trusting.”
    The writer to the Hebrews reduces it to the simplest form and must surely apply to ALL theists around the world.
    “Without trusting, it is impossible to please GOD. He who comes to him must 1. Believe that he exists (no mention by what name he has to know him under) and 2. trust that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” PERIOD.

  • misterAmuses says:

    I am far too simple minded to understand where the issue is if I understand the English language correctly. If I say the Jew, the Christian, the follower of Jesus, the Muslim or the Zoroastrian worship the same God then that has to be a true statement UNLESS I myself believe there are multiple gods that each one could worship. The statement does NOT say, “Jews, Christians, followers of Jesus and Muslims” all worship God in the same way. IF they are worshipping and acknowledging the God who is the creator of all things, visible and invisible, then THAT is the God who is receiving their Worship. ie. ONE GOD!
    When God commanded his people that they should not worship any other “gods” his reference is to “idols”. Carved structures (such as a golden calf) to whom they would be ascribing creative powers when they in fact were “Dumb” and ” powerless”. When He describes himself as a “jealous God” he is not insecure in his person and demanding adoration. He is jealous of his people and does not want the false prophets of the “false gods” “abusing” his people or taking advantage of them. The same “jealousy” that Hosea had for Gomer. The same jealously any husband would have for his wife’s affection. For her sake, not his. Whether it was the God of Abram, or Melchizedek, Moses or Jethro the priest of Midian, or the magi from the east, or the “unknown God” (the one of whom the Athenians were his “offspring” ie Zeus), or the one Apollos worshipped, there is NO OTHER GOD to receive their worship.
    Our very point of evangelism should be as Acts 18:26 says of Aquila and Priscilla in speaking to Apollos: “…they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God ‘more perfectly’.” (more completely.)
    Surely the only requirement from God’s perspective is that which Habakkuk gives us, Paul takes up and Luther makes the foundation of the Reformation:

    “The Just shall live by trusting.”
    The writer to the Hebrews reduces it to the simplest form and must surely apply to ALL theists around the world.
    “Without trusting, it is impossible to please GOD. He who comes to him must 1. Believe that he exists (no mention by what name he has to know him under) and 2. trust that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” PERIOD.

  • Craig Anderson says:

    Was the WWPD reference in the title to your post meant to be cute? ironic? provocative? None of the first 16 commentors have mentioned it at all. Forgive me if this has become a meme of sorts; I’ve been away from your posts for a bit.

  • Craig Anderson says:

    Was the WWPD reference in the title to your post meant to be cute? ironic? provocative? None of the first 16 commentors have mentioned it at all. Forgive me if this has become a meme of sorts; I’ve been away from your posts for a bit.

  • Beau Quilter says:

    So much for the notion of academic freedom. So much for the rigor of accreditation.

    This is yet another example of why institutions requiring an a priori faith commitment, especially those that require a formal signed faith statement, should never earn accreditation in the first place. Wheaton is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which is clear in it’s requirement that:

    “The institution is committed to freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.”

    We read about actions such the ideologically-driven suspension of Larycia Hawkins at Christian colleges and universities every year, and it makes a mockery of the accreditation process.

    http://chronicle.com/article/The-Great-Accreditation-Farce/147425/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-conn/is-christian-college-an-o_b_5551355.html

  • Percival says:

    Maybe this is too obvious to say, but I think there is only one god.

    • Indeed, I’m sure that you’ll find wide agreement on that point. I’m confident that even those who aggressively argue that the Christian God and the Muslim God aren’t the same would agree with you that there’s only one god. It’s just that they’d quickly point out that the Muslim God doesn’t actually exist (or, to put another way, he’s *so* different from the Christian God as to refer to a non-entity).

      • Percival says:

        Mark, if that is the case, why do they use the language of polytheism? Wouldn’t it make more sense to say that the Muslims don’t actually worship God. Could it be that this “another god” talk is a way to hint that Muslims actually worship something satanic in origin? Isn’t it also a way of saying that God listens to us, but not to them? Or, that God does not respond to the prayers and worship of Muslims because they are not addressing him.

        There is absolutely no reason to use this language except as a way of making Muslims “other.” It splits the world into us and them. That’s why Jewish conceptions of God are ignored by this crowd. It is not so fashionable to exclude Jews from access to God.

        Of course, I don’t actually think these people are polytheists, but I believe they have not grasped the full ramifications of monotheism.

  • Beau Quilter says:

    So much for the notion of academic freedom. So much for the rigor of accreditation.

    This is yet another example of why institutions requiring an a priori faith commitment, especially those that require a formal signed faith statement, should never earn accreditation in the first place. Wheaton is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which is clear in it’s requirement that:

    “The institution is committed to freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.”

    We read about actions such the ideologically-driven suspension of Larycia Hawkins at Christian colleges and universities every year, and it makes a mockery of the accreditation process.

    http://chronicle.com/article/The-Great-Accreditation-Farce/147425/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-conn/is-christian-college-an-o_b_5551355.html

  • Percival says:

    Maybe this is too obvious to say, but I think there is only one god.

    • Indeed, I’m sure that you’ll find wide agreement on that point. I’m confident that even those who aggressively argue that the Christian God and the Muslim God aren’t the same would agree with you that there’s only one god. It’s just that they’d quickly point out that the Muslim God doesn’t actually exist (or, to put another way, he’s *so* different from the Christian God as to refer to a non-entity).

      • Percival says:

        Mark, if that is the case, why do they use the language of polytheism? Wouldn’t it make more sense to say that the Muslims don’t actually worship God. Could it be that this “another god” talk is a way to hint that Muslims actually worship something satanic in origin? Isn’t it also a way of saying that God listens to us, but not to them? Or, that God does not respond to the prayers and worship of Muslims because they are not addressing him.

        There is absolutely no reason to use this language except as a way of making Muslims “other.” It splits the world into us and them. That’s why Jewish conceptions of God are ignored by this crowd. It is not so fashionable to exclude Jews from access to God.

        Of course, I don’t actually think these people are polytheists, but I believe they have not grasped the full ramifications of monotheism.

  • Gary says:

    I think people often have difficulty comprehending the difference between something and their concept of something.

    • charlesburchfield says:

      yes! as a child growing up in the 1950’s I believed in the things I saw on tv. ‘now there’s a world of illusion and fantasy in the place where the real world belongs.’~JACKSON BROWNE

  • Gary says:

    I think people often have difficulty comprehending the difference between something and their concept of something.

  • hoosier_bob says:

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. There’s a growing divide within evangelicalism between what the movement will become. For some, the “evangelical identity,” which generally amounts to little more than fetishizing the 1950s, is the end of the road. For others of us, that identity is a means to an end, whose merits are judged on whether it facilitates our ability to preach Christ in a creative and winsome way to the world around us. There were a few decades during which Wheaton seemed to embracing the latter of those views of evangelical identity. But with the arrival of Phil Ryken, it’s fairly clear that Wheaton is poised to become the Liberty of the Midwest.

  • hoosier_bob says:

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. There’s a growing divide within evangelicalism between what the movement will become. For some, the “evangelical identity,” which generally amounts to little more than fetishizing the 1950s, is the end of the road. For others of us, that identity is a means to an end, whose merits are judged on whether it facilitates our ability to preach Christ in a creative and winsome way to the world around us. There were a few decades during which Wheaton seemed to embracing the latter of those views of evangelical identity. But with the arrival of Phil Ryken, it’s fairly clear that Wheaton is poised to become the Liberty of the Midwest.

  • Ken Anwari says:

    Just talk to former Muslims who now have committed their lives to Christ and ask if they are worshiping the same Deity. I have known hundreds in my work in Southeast Asia, and not a single one has ever said there is a difference. Certainly the Christian and Islamic ideas of God, while in some ways similar, are in others strikingly different. As an analogy ask a fervent Democrat and a Tea Party Republican what they think of Hilary Clinton and compare the answers. It would be difficult, at best, to tell they are talking about the same person, but yet they are. To claim that YHVH/Elohim/Theos/God and Allah (the name translated for God in the country where I served) are different entities is a harsh door-slammer for any attempt to bring Christ to the Muslims.

    • Percival says:

      Ken, you often get a different answer from Arab former Muslims, but that is all beside the point.
      The point is this. There is only one god, who is the god of all the earth and every creature in the universe. The same vs. different god language is either of Western psychology or polytheism. whether someone worships God in spirit and in truth is an entirely different matter.

  • Ken Anwari says:

    Just talk to former Muslims who now have committed their lives to Christ and ask if they are worshiping the same Deity. I have known hundreds in my work in Southeast Asia, and not a single one has ever said there is a difference. Certainly the Christian and Islamic ideas of God, while in some ways similar, are in others strikingly different. As an analogy ask a fervent Democrat and a Tea Party Republican what they think of Hilary Clinton and compare the answers. It would be difficult, at best, to tell they are talking about the same person, but yet they are. To claim that YHVH/Elohim/Theos/God and Allah (the name translated for God in the country where I served) are different entities is a harsh door-slammer for any attempt to bring Christ to the Muslims.

    • Percival says:

      Ken, you often get a different answer from Arab former Muslims, but that is all beside the point.
      The point is this. There is only one god, who is the god of all the earth and every creature in the universe. The same vs. different god language is either of Western psychology or polytheism. whether someone worships God in spirit and in truth is an entirely different matter.

  • Steve Hannula says:

    In her claim that we worship the same God, is she asserting or denying shahada?

  • Steve Hannula says:

    In her claim that we worship the same God, is she asserting or denying shahada?

  • Piet de Groot says:

    Sometimes it is not only thinking outside our own ‘box” that gets us into trouble.

  • ZG says:

    Acts 17 does not support the idea that worshiping the One true God of Israel is the same as worshiping a false god. In Athens the altar was to an “unknown god” so there is nothing there that is mutually exclusive with the God of Israel revealed in Jesus Christ. However, there are mutually exclusive claims when you compare the Christian God and the god of Muhammad.
    https://zgreport.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/wheaton-college-and-hawkins/

    • Pete E. says:

      I read your post. Looks like you’re boldly standing up for truth. Take me off the list, and you have a pretty impressive list of people who disagree with you. I would hope that would five you some pause, especially as an anonymous blogger whose background is hard to track.

  • Pete E. says:

    I read your post. Looks like you’re boldly standing up for truth. Take me odd the list, and you have a pretty impressive list of people who disagree with you. I would hope that would five you some pause, especially as an anonymous blogger whose background is hard to track.

  • guvner says:

    From a wishy-washy fence sitting ignorant seeker – and, because it’s a fun topic – Restricting the discussion chronologically from the time of Abraham to the time of Jesus, when did the offspring of Abraham begin to worship a different God? I get the Trinity argument post-Jesus. So, all of the God divergence is post-Jesus?

  • guvner says:

    From a wishy-washy fence sitting ignorant seeker – and, because it’s a fun topic – Restricting the discussion chronologically from the time of Abraham to the time of Jesus, when did the offspring of Abraham begin to worship a different God? I get the Trinity argument post-Jesus. So, all of the God divergence is post-Jesus?

  • Timmy Paleo says:

    It would be wrong to say Western Christians believe in the same God that Jesus believed in. These are two different gods. One god is glorious, almighty, and authoritarian in the Roman sense, actually not too different from Alah; the other God was just like Jesus nailed on a shameful cross.

  • Timmy Paleo says:

    It would be wrong to say Western Christians believe in the same God that Jesus believed in. These are two different gods. One god is glorious, almighty, and authoritarian in the Roman sense, actually not too different from Alah; the other God was just like Jesus nailed on a shameful cross.

  • accelerator says:

    “Pettiness.” A shame you so quickly attribute the worst possible motives to people you do not know. Which such an already compromised assessment of integrity, the conversation dies in the water.

    • Pete E. says:

      No need to feel “shame.” Wheaton made public comments and people are free to express what they think–even you when you swoop in and correct them from your even higher vantage point.

    • Adam Shields says:

      Pettiness may be the wrong word. But it is hard to attribute good motives to an administration that places a tenured professor on suspension without directly speaking with her. (Which Provost Jones has said was the case here.)

  • hoosier_bob says:

    In thinking a bit more about the whole “evangelical identity” thing, I really wonder whether this over-protection of that identity even works. As I was thinking back, I have 10 current and former colleagues who are alumni of Wheaton (with graduation years ranging from 2000 to 2008). From this group, 8 have walked away from evangelicalism: 2 are Roman Catholic, 2 are mainline Protestants, and 4 are agnostics who don’t attend church at all. Of the 2 who are still evangelical, they attend evangelical churches that are fairly progressive, and that are definitely more in line with the evangelicalism of Hawkins than that of Ryken and Jones.

    Instead of barring Hawkins from the classroom, perhaps the Wheaton administration should ask itself why the college’s graduates largely come to reject the very “evangelical identity” the school is trying so hard to protect. Might it have something to do with the ham-fisted way in which the administration goes about protecting it?

  • hoosier_bob says:

    In thinking a bit more about the whole “evangelical identity” thing, I really wonder whether this over-protection of that identity even works. As I was thinking back, I have 10 current and former colleagues who are alumni of Wheaton (with graduation years ranging from 2000 to 2008). From this group, 8 have walked away from evangelicalism: 2 are Roman Catholic, 2 are mainline Protestants, and 4 are agnostics who don’t attend church at all. Of the 2 who are still evangelical, they attend evangelical churches that are fairly progressive, and that are definitely more in line with the evangelicalism of Hawkins than that of Ryken and Jones.

    Instead of barring Hawkins from the classroom, perhaps the Wheaton administration should ask itself why the college’s graduates largely come to reject the very “evangelical identity” the school is trying so hard to protect. Might it have something to do with the ham-fisted way in which the administration goes about protecting it?

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