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Hijab-Wearing Wheaton Professor Defends 'Same God' Argument in Theological Statement

Hijab-Wearing Wheaton Professor Defends 'Same God' Argument in Theological Statement

Wheaton College students protesting the school's decision to suspend tenured professor Larycia Hawkins on December 16, 2015. | (Photo: Screengrab/ABC 7)

Hawkins argued that the answer to the question of whether Christians and Muslims turn to the same object of worship should be answered with a "simultaneous 'yes' and 'no.'"

She explained that her argument is guided by theologians such as Timothy George, Scot McKnight, Miroslav Volf and John Stackhouse. Even though she is employed by an Evangelical institution, she added that her argument is also guided by "the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic tradition" and "Pontifical writings," such as John Paul II's Crossing the Threshold of Hope.

"Like them I acknowledge that the statement 'we worship the same God' is a simultaneous 'yes' and 'no' to the question of whether Christians and Muslims (as well as Jews) turn to the same object of worship, namely, the 'God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all' (Eph. 4:6)," Hawkins wrote.

"On the 'yes' side, both Christians and Muslims (as well as Jews) confess that God is One (Deut. 6:4). So, yes, Christians and Muslims (and Jews) affirm fully that 'that God is the Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,'" Hawkins added. "But — borrowing from Stackhouse — 'if we insist, as many are insisting in this furore, that God must be understood in terms of the Trinity, with a focus especially on Jesus, or else one really doesn't know God, I respectfully want to ask such Bible believers what they make of Abraham (who is held up as a paradigm of faith in the New Testament) and the list of Old Testament saints (who are held up as paradigms of faith to Christians in Hebrews 11), precisely none of whom can be seriously understood as holding trinitarian views and some proleptic vision of the identity and career of Jesus Christ."

Although Hawkins believes that Muslims, Christians and Jews worship the Father of Abraham, she asserts that the answer could also be "no" because Christians believe in the oneness of God as being "a tri-Personal, perichoretic unity."

"I understand that Islam (and Judaism) denies the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and leaves no room for the Cross and the Resurrection, but my statement is not a statement on soteriology or trinitarian theology, but one of embodied piety," the statement reads. "When I say that 'we worship the same God,' I am saying what Stackhouse points out, namely that 'when pious Muslims pray, they are addressing the One True God, and that God is, simply, God.'"

Hawkins also addressed how the Wheaton statement of faith states that "We believe that God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race; and that they were created in His own image."

"So, yes, when I call 'fellow humans who happen to be Muslims [or Jews or atheists] my brothers and sisters' I am standing in full agreement with the Wheaton College statement of faith, identifying each person as an image-bearer of God," Hawkins contends.

Since being placed on administrative leave, Hawkins, who has been asked to reaffirm the college's statement of faith four times since she began teaching there in 2007 for various reasons, has received the support of the faith-based labor advocacy group Arise Chicago, to which she is a board member.

The group has taken on the media relations for Hawkins and has helped organized press conferences for her to issue statements regarding the actions Wheaton has taken against her.

An online donation page and petition have been launched to help support Hawkins through the ordeal. Over 83,000 people have signed the petition calling for Wheaton College to reinstate the professor.

After Jones recommended that the school begin the termination-for-cause proceedings, Hawkins will, within a month, have to appear for a hearing before an elected committee of nine tenured faculty members, who will hear arguments from both sides and then have make a recommendation to Wheaton President Philip Ryken on what action the school should take regarding Hawkins' tenure.

Ryken will then have to weigh the recommendations by Jones and the committee then issue his own recommendation to the college's board of trustees, which is responsible for making the final decision regarding Hawkins' employment.

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