Wheaton College’s disgraceful suspension of professor for controversial comment

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Wheaton College campus sign. Photo by Stevan Sheets via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevan/85832975/

Wheaton College campus sign. Photo by Stevan Sheets via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevan/85832975/

Last week, Wheaton College political science professor Larycia Hawkins posted a picture of herself on Facebook. Hawkins was wearing a hijab in solidarity with Muslims. Wheaton, which requires professors to sign a statement of faith, placed Hawkins on administrative leave because her post included the comment that Christians and Muslims “worship the same God.” She will remain on leave while the college investigates the tenured professor.

Wheaton College campus sign. Photo by Stevan Sheets via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevan/85832975/

Wheaton College campus sign. Photo by Stevan Sheets via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevan/85832975/

The news of Wheaton’s decision is shameful. I say this as an alumnus of the college, someone who has even taught a course at Wheaton, and someone who knows Hawkins and the rest of the political science faculty. Put bluntly: I know and love Wheaton and its students. And it’s from this position that I am profoundly disappointed in how Hawkins has been treated.

Wheaton holds a unique place among evangelicals. It seeks to excel academically while maintaining a distinctive evangelical identity.

So, I’m not surprised that Wheaton made a public statement responding to the controversy. The college, as an institution, often needs to make clear its positions on theological matters.

But the college erred by putting Hawkins on leave and making this decision public. Correction: it was not an error. It was a disgrace.

Wheaton overreached. Faculty at Wheaton teach there because they support the mission of the college. They sign both a statement of faith and “community covenant” that they hold certain beliefs and will behave in accordance with those beliefs. A tenured professor has spent years teaching at the institution and has been thoroughly vetted as being the type of professor Wheaton wants to compose its faculty.

If any faculty member makes a statement that appears to run counter to the statement of faith, the most likely reason is that he or she does not view it as contradictory. This is, after all, an academic institution where nuance and differences are encouraged.

In its statement on Hawkins suspension, the college stated

Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion and theological clarity. 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.

Did Hawkins make a statement that failed to “faithfully represent” the statement of faith? No. The statement of faith makes no mention of Islam. And to my knowledge, the college had not taken a position on whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God until yesterday. The trustees and others on campus may have assumed that this was unnecessary to state such a position, but they never bothered to make that position clear.

As Hawkins notes, prominent Christians have said that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Indeed, her comment referenced Pope Francis’ recent statement on this. The phrase is often invoked during inter-faith dialogue. It is a pastoral statement, not a statement on the ontology of God.

In 2011, Yale theologian Miroslav Volf made the claim in his book Allah:A Christian Response. It was an argument many evangelicals took seriously. Evangelicalism’s flagship magazine Christianity Today interviewed Volf on the question, and more importantly, Wheaton invited Volf to campus to speak on the topic of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Wheaton gave Volf a stage to make his case and answer questions from students.

Wheaton does not endorse every speaker who comes to campus, but one could excuse a professor who borrows a phrase spoken from a theologian Wheaton brought to campus to speak on how Christians should interact with Muslims.

Wheaton has the right to update its statement on beliefs, but at the time Hawkins made her statement, the college was silent on the issue, there were prominent Christian voices who made the same statement, and Wheaton welcomed the most noteworthy proponent to campus. At worst, Hawkins made Wheaton realize that it had failed to make its position clear.

In reaction, Wheaton went beyond stating its beliefs on Islam. It put Hawkins on administrative leave. This is an extraordinary step by the college.

The only other recent case of Wheaton College putting a tenured professor on administrative leave was a professor arrested for (and eventually convicted of) child pornography. That’s right: Hawkins is being treated the same as a child pornographer.

Hawkins is not a threat to students. There is no reason to pull her from her classes. She simply made a statement that the college has quickly interpreted as violating its statement of faith. But she’s on leave until she can be given “due process.”

The damage is done. Her reputation among evangelical higher education has been publicly diminished by the college. Wheaton chose to make Hawkins an example of its commitment to orthodoxy, albeit an orthodoxy that Wheaton did not feel important enough to include in any statement until now.

What Wheaton should have done is update its statement of faith to make it clear. Wheaton has a right to state its beliefs and require professors to adhere to those beliefs. What it cannot do is punish (publicly, to boot) a professor for violating a previously unstated belief that she, nor any other professor, were asked to support.

Wheaton has put itself in a difficult position that will be difficult to maneuver out of. This is made worse that Hawkins is one of the few women of color at Wheaton. If Wheaton has, in the past, treated other professors with a different process, then it could be facing accusations of violating Hawkins civil rights. If there is a record of treating white, male professors with confidentiality and due process but publicly shaming or inventing new punishments for one of the few women of color on the faculty, then this controversy could take a legal turn that the college could not escape.

For now, my thoughts and prayers are with the students and faculty at Wheaton, especially Hawkins. My hope is that Wheaton College administrators and trustees will reverse course. It’s time to treat Hawkins the way that they would want to be treated.

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  • Stuart Mitchell

    Come on Tobin, Wheaton is a bastion of backward thinking in the 21st century. The college can not embrace modernity or the material nature of our world and as such, can not be expected to understand the multicultural nature of the very metropolitan area they inhabit. The hard work of refoming the stultified minds that run that place will not be helped by prayer but by open education without a “statement of faith”.

  • Spencer Graf

    Firstly Stuart, I don’t appreciate you knocking the school I attend, it’s a fantastic school that challenges what you think/believe and makes you determine if that is true or valid in all areas of academia. But that’s ok, we all can say what we want. But I’m mainly replying to your comment because Wheaton did not suspend her for wearing a hijab as most news outlets/articles/and statuses are saying. I find it somewhat ironic that this is literally the second sentence in this article, “Hawkins was wearing a hijab in solidarity with Muslims.” Yes that is true but that is not the reason she was put on paid leave. She wrote something in that post that directly conflicted with what the school stands for, “We worship the same God”. Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Our God is Jehovah, Jesus Christ, the Triune God. Theirs is Allah. It is because of this that she was placed on leave. Not for her fashion decisions. It is not shameful or disgraceful either Tobin.

  • Katie

    Not at all disgraceful, nor a disappointment. When you look at it for what it is at its core is a policy violation. She signed a statement of faith. She violated that according to the institution. She was fully aware of this and chose to go against it.

  • david

    I think the case that this is out of proportion because this bit of ‘nuance’ was not in the statement of faith is an overstatement. Evangelicals are clear on their regard for the Second Person of the Trinity, and for the purposes of Wheaton, any God that does not include said Person would be de facto an different God and need not have been spelled out.

    This is not to justify the college’s action – but only to point out that American Evangelicalism would be inherently clear on this topic, and the professor would have been aware of it.

  • The Rev Dr William Weisenbach

    What a stupid response. Jehovah is a made up name (do your Biblical homework). Use Yahwah if you must. Never be so arrogant as to presume that God’s truth is limited by your ability to understand it. The tragic truth about people like you is the conviction that for you to be right everyone else as to be wrong. Do we worship the same “One God” with Islam. Now that is worth a lifetime of serious conversation.

  • Nathanael Bunge

    Christians absolutely do not worship the same God as Muslims. Regardless of whether the college made the right decision or not, or whether they should’ve clarified their statement of faith or not, the point must be made clear.

  • Doug Truitt

    So David, you would maintain that Jews do not worship the same God as Evangelicals?

  • Spencer Graf

    Really? I’m surprised that a “Reverend Dr. ” had such a harsh response to something so trivial. Ask any Christian in church if we could also call God Yahweh. I’m almost 100% sure that they would agree. There’s many names for our God, the Alpha and Omega, so on and so on. But I disagree with you about being right and wrong. When it comes to theology, there is a right and wrong one. Allah is not God….. Sooooo I don’t understand why you consider it wrong for me to say so. You could use a little more tact in responding to things like this “Reverend Dr.”

  • Larry

    Your school is fundamentalist finishing school. They teach a half-baked version of biology to placate the creationist donors and keep the school’s life science department from being entirely one colossal joke.
    Hawkins was censured for deigning to acknowledge the existence of a religion other than evangelical Christianity and noting similar beliefs and common origins. In your self-enforced ignorance, you fail to realize that Allah is simply Arabic for an unnamable God. Since the Koran is written in poetic Arabic it is natural the word is used. Middle Eastern Christians use the word Allah for God. (But since those sects are seldom evangelical types, its not like that would be acknowledged by the school)

  • I would think most Jews would say yes, but avoid doing so to be diplomatic to Christians. Like Islam’s relationship to Christianity, they refer to the same texts, but interpret them very differently and add their own new ones to the mix. Common origins but enough divergence to consider them separate beliefs entirely. “Judeo-Christian” has always been a nonsense term.

  • Neon Genesis

    While I agree that Wheaton was stupid for overreacting in the way that they did and they shouldn’t have punished Hawkins, I think the argument that Hawkins was unaware that the school would react in this way is a bit of a stretch, especially given how radically Islamophobic the recent GOP presidential debate has become in the past year. Evangelical Christians have a long tradition of claiming their religion is the one true way and all other religions are to be condemned so I’m not sure why anyone would be surprised Wheaton, being an evangelical school, would respond in this way. All this is an argument not for the school to clarify its statement of faith but why statement of faiths by their very nature are inherently incompatible with higher learning.

  • Doug Truitt

    I don’t know what most Jews would think about the question. I simply posed it wondering if David had thought through the implications of his post. Perhaps on reflection he might acknowledge that the issue is more nuanced than he first allowed. Then again, maybe he wouldn’t.


    I think logic would hold that all monotheistic religions worship the same God, by definition. The worst you could say is that some worship Him wrongly, or have a mistaken view of His attributes. As though any religion could have the correct view, or be the sole authority regarding the correct means of worship.

  • Jeff Henderson

    Belief in one God does not necessitate believing in the same God another religion proclaims. If I were to found a religion proclaiming myself God and had followers that viewed me as the only God, would that then mean I am the same God as the God of Christians or Jews? Of course not. Allah was the God of the Quraish – a tribal deity in Arabia. Would you claim Baal was the God of the Jews? Even though many share etymology (al-lah, el-ohim, ba-al) that does not mean they are viewed or believed to be the same.

  • Veronica

    LOL @ “I don’t like your article because it’s critical of my alma mater.” ALSO – allah is the word god in arabic. Christians and Muslims do in fact worship the same god.

  • A Professor

    When a tenured professor at a notable evangelical institution states that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, the institution must say something, right? Didn’t Dr. Hawkins bring this on her own head?

    Must Wheaton really “clarify” that the Triune God of biblical Christianity (blasphemy to Muslims) is not the same as Allah? You call this “a previously unstated belief.” I respectfully disagree. Both the statement on God himself & on Christ would be blasphemous to a Muslim, and any tenured professor would not need that clarified.

    Miroslav Volf is not a tenured professor; and not a signatory to the Statement of Faith… a different issue and not a defense.

    When I bow my knee in prayer, I pray to a God who has a divine/human son named Jesus. No Muslim bows to the same God.

    Whether or not the school followed protocol for tenured faculty is the primary issue at stake. The fact of irreconcilable differences between Muslim/Christian theology is, in my opinion, beyond…

  • Daniel

    Muslims don’t worship the same god. Islam is a twisted view of the Abrahamic faith. Hope they fire this woman. All of the comments to me after this will probably not agree with me, but I don’t care what any of you have to say. Christian’s and Jews worship the One TRUE GOD.

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  • Ben in oakland

    Linguistically, historically, Mythically.archaeologically– in fact, in just about every way possible EXCEPT theologically– we do indeed worship the same God. Well, I don’t, but I am an atheist.

    Yahweh is simply a corruption of that which cannot be pronounced into something that is being pronounced. Jehovah is a corruption of Yaweh, making it corrupt as a Lousiana politician. Yahweh. eLohim, and Allah are all descended from the Midianite Storm God Formerly Known as El, who shows up in Micha-el, Emmanu-el, Rafa-el, Nathani-el, et al, or el.

    So the far more interesting question is why you have three distinct versions of the same God, one of whom is three distinct persons himself. Because either none of them is true, one of them is true, or all three are true. Unfortunately, there is no way to answer the question objectively except with faith, which also produces no objective answer.

    As lawyer Frazier said, that IS a complication.

  • Glenn Hawkins

    From the comments I read here, all of you are missing the main thing: Jesus’ comments about the nature of the one true God. First, does God have a Son? A Muslim will say no. The Q’ran says it is blasphemy to assert that God has a son. Ask a true Christian the same question and they will say yes. They say God has a Son because Jesus claimed it. Second. Did Jesus die on the cross? A Muslim will say no. Ask a true Christian the same question and they will say yes. They say Jesus died on the cross because of the eyewitness accounts of the New Testament. Third. Is Jesus Christ to be worshiped, as in given the same honor as the Father? A Muslim will say no. Ask a true Christian and they will say yes–John 5:22–24 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. So how can it be that Muslims and Christians worship the same God?

  • Glenn Hawkins

    And let’s not forget that Dr. Hawkins has been at Wheaton for about 8 years. She is not the new kid on the block. She obviously knows better.

  • Glenn Hawkins

    I also think it’s curious that Dr. Hawkins referred to Jesus as the prophet Jesus, but listed Him after the prophet Muhammad. Second, she referred to states who enacted legislation to prevent Sharia as Islamophobic.

  • Fran

    Out of curiosity, what does a Muslim claim Jesus died on, and whom does the Muslim claim should be worshiped?

  • Doc Anthony

    Wheaton did the right thing in an emergency situation. But I do agree that, moving forward, Wheaton needs to update its mission statement to start making things real clear.

    People, times have changed….for the worse. You’ve got folks who can label themselve “evangelical” or even “Christian” all day long, but such labels per se, do NOT mean much of anything anymore.

    You need to find out what faculty or speakers REALLY believe (and really DOESN’T believe), before you allow them to do preaching and teaching and experimenting on your students.

    And even after you’re hired them, you need a way to REALLY keep tabs on them, because with today’s pressures and temptations (and the PC police), what a professor said they believed five years ago may NOT be what he or she really believes today.

    These are hard times for Christian colleges and universities, especially for those that still try to believe what the Bible says. You gotta take a stand, like Wheaton !!

  • Michael Pickel

    One question. What name do Arab Christians use fir God? If you attend an Orthodox Christian service in (what’s left of the historic homeland of Christianity) Syria, Jerdan, Palestine, Lebanon or Egypt, what Arabic word for the name of God do you hear? “Allah.”

  • Fran


    On what basis do you claim that Jesus is a Triune God? Jehovah God referred to Jesus only as his beloved son in his voice from the heavens when Jesus was baptized with holy spirit and became the Messiah (Matthew 3:17). The apostle Paul said that the head of the Christ is God (1 Corinth. 11:3), showing his submission to his Father, Jehovah. The apostle John referred to Jesus as the beginning of creation by God (Revelation 3:14), showing that Jesus had a start. The psalmist stated that Jehovah is the Most High over all the earth (Psalm 83:18), not Jesus. The apostle Paul also mentioned that even though Jehovah has subjected all things to Jesus, King of God’s kingdom (who is higher only than angels and men), Jesus will eventually give back full rulership to Jehovah at the end of his rule (1 Corinth. 15:24-28) so that Jehovah may be all things to everyone. Thus, we must only worship Jehovah God, but be footstep followers of his son, Jesus (Matthew 9:9).

  • SeattleAl

    How is this not clear? From the Wheaton statement of faith: “WE BELIEVE in one sovereign God, eternally existing in three persons: the everlasting Father, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, the giver of life; and we believe that God created the Heavens and the earth out of nothing by His spoken word, and for His own glory.”

    If you know anything at all about Islam a Muslim would never describe God in this manner. “Say, “He is Allah, [who is] One. Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” (Qur`an 112, 1-4) .
    How can anyone say both faiths worship the same God or that this is somehow unclear?

  • Greg

    Tobin, you are asking Wheaton to write out something approaching the tax code in a bid to explicitly identify every possible doctrinal permutation that it sees as heresy, when it’s theological progressives who keep redrawing the lines. Volf is a quasi-Universalist and it’s strange for Hawkins to think Wheaton would take his views as within the acceptable range for Wheaton’s own faculty to publicly profess. They invited him probably the same reason Liberty invited Bernie Sanders – because it’s good to be exposed to different views, if for no other reason than to sharpen your own arguments. I’m not convinced that Hawkins was not trying to make herself a celebrity of the evangelical left – a Rachel Held Evans, Donald Miller or Rob Bell figure – but that she thought the hijab would do it, rather than the “same God.” It does seems obvious Wheaton has let her stray for years.

  • ‘Til Tuesday

    Maybe she’s a heretic, or worse, a witch. A dunking stool on the Chicago River would be in order to determine the truth. It could be broadcast and streamed, and people could vote on her guilt or innocence. (h/t Monty Python)

    Seriously, if she were to be dismissed by Wheaton, that could be a good thing. She would be free to pursue a job at a real academic University that upholds and respects academic freedom.

    I’ve never understood why a good academic would want to teach at a school that doesn’t tolerate questioning or dissent, which are fundamental elements of a good education.

    Not to mention the 1970’s social life that students are required to live under. It’s amazing to me that legal adults are told what clothes to wear, regs on makeup and hair, limits on what music you can listen to and what movies you can see. They treat their students like 10-year old children, not grown adults.

  • Glenn Hawkins

    Please explain why on at least two occasions Jesus’ hearers took up stones to stone Him. In John 8:58 Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM”. In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” And in John 5, several references to Jesus calling God HIS Father, “making Himself equal with God.” Moreover, Jesus said in John 5:22-24 that whoever does not honor Him to the same degree as the Father does not honor the Father. There are, according to theologians’ best efforts to explain it, the ontological view of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit have the same essence) and the economic view (there is a “hierarchy” and subordination within the Godhead). You are emphasizing those verses which stress the economic view and I am emphasizing those verses which stress the ontological view–both are vital and we have to keep both in tension as we seek to understand the One true and living God. Cheers.

  • Glenn Hawkins

    I was a chaplain in the military stationed in Turkey. I had an opportunity to talk to Turkish officers about exactly that issue. They told me that it was Judas who was crucified and not Jesus. Indeed, the Q’ran says that Jesus didn’t die on the cross but only appeared to be so. Second, only Allah is to be worshiped, not Mohammad, and certainly not Jesus; according to Islam Mohammad is the last and greatest prophet. Hope this helps.

  • Glenn Hawkins

    Doc, good word. Liberty University (of which I was in a teaching position for a couple of years) does not have tenured status for any faculty member for exactly the reasons you mentioned. And every faculty member has to sign their doctrinal statement every year. Perhaps Wheaton can revamp their policies to reflect this as well.

  • Glenn Hawkins

    Do you have children in college? One of my sons walked away from his faith in Jesus at a secular school, while my other two kids went to Christian universities and came out the other side with their faith in Christ still intact. I realize I am only one parent. But has it occurred to you that parents, and often the student themselves, desire what you call a 70’s throwback culture, just so that possibly they, too could maintain their faith in Christ when they finish their education at a regionally accredited institution of higher learning? Wheaton has to pass the same accreditation standards as every other institution. Every student has been trained to standard. The difference is that Wheaton, and other private Christian schools are trying to help their people increase in their knowledge of Christ while getting a quality education.

  • Glenn Hawkins

    Messianic Jews would hold to a Trinitarian position. The glaring difference between the Jews’ view and the Muslims’ view of God is that for the Jews, even now, they hold to the Messiah being sent by God. The Muslims deny the notion of any Messiah. And let’s not forget, the gospel the Jewish followers of the Jewish Messiah preached, and even the Messiah Himself was from the Torah, the Psalms and the writings. So, the message Christians believe is in an unbroken chain of truth that the Jews believe. Just because the non Messianic Jews refuse to see Trinity in their view of God does not necessarily make their view true. There are too many Messianic Jews and born again Christians who all see Trinity in the Hebrew Bible.

  • Glenn Hawkins

    Obviously you don’t take the words of Jesus very seriously. Jesus Himself claimed that His Father (and even in this designation, He was equating Himself with deity–see John 5) was the One True God. Moreover, Jesus declared that the one who spoke to Moses in the burning bush was Him (See John 7). In short, true Christians are exclusive because Jesus was exclusive. True Christians don’t have the authority to proclaim anything other than the deity of Christ, the nature of God according to Jesus’ interpretation, and the exclusivity of salvation found only in Christ. Why? precisely because of Jesus’ claims. Everything hinges on how Jesus understood the Scripture, which, of course was what we call the Old Testament. Sir, it would seem the arrogant one in this discussion is you–you fail to submit yourself to the Lordship of Christ.

  • larry

    Pretty much all of the evangelicals chiming in have not thought through the implications of their postings. Self-reflection and irony tend to be absent in most of their stuff. I understand your point clearly.

    The evangelical screed that Christians and Muslims don’t worship the same god applies also to Jews and Christians. The subsequent religions claim that they respect the prophets and patriarchs of the prior religion, but their leader/founder was an improvement. ‘

    It is utterly foolish to deny common origins, commonalities in belief, and even commonalities in practice. But that is ultimately what Wheaton College and evangelicals are trying to do. Never letting facts or abstract ideas get in the way of dogma and policy.

  • But Messianic Judaism is not accepted by the mainstream of the faith. It is a Christian sect by and large. Using them as an example is like claiming voodoo is a form of Christianity. Judaism rejects trinitarian positions at its core. They also reject the notion that a Messiah has arrived yet. Christians acknowledge the Torah but make efforts to distance themselves from it. They have common ancestry but believe far different things. I

    Christian teaching holds Jewish beliefs with the same regard as Islam holds Christian ones. Half-hearted acknowledgment of the prior faith but makes claims that theirs supercedes it. The new prophet being an “improvement”. f you are going to claim Islam is fundamentally different from Christianity, You must do the same between Christianity and Judaism.

  • After all colleges which enforce a specific religious and political view must ensure the correctness of its staff. Academic inquiry and discussion must be supplanted by rigid adherence to doctrine. After all what is higher learning other than rote recitation of doctrine and apologia? /sarcasm

    This is why “Christian colleges” are never going to be considered more than wingnut finishing schools.

  • Nathanael Bunge

    No, it’s most definitely a different God. Simply sharing a name means nothing. You have a house and I have a house, it’s not the same house by namesake. I know a John, you may know a John, but not the same John, etc.

  • Nathanael Bunge

    Yes. The Muslim God is a false interpretation of Mohammed’s suicidal thoughts. The Christians and Jews worship the same God, the only thing they disagree on is Jesus’ status. May the True God of the Bible help people to realize this!

  • Doug Truitt

    Glen, would you say Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob understood the concept of the Trinity? While the Ante-Nicene Fathers did hold Christ to be divine, it was a few hundred years before the early Church started to arrive at a consensus of a coherent doctrine of the Trinity. And if by Messianic Jews you mean only those who believe Christ is the Messiah you are leaving out much of Judaism that believes in a coming Messiah who will be an anointed ruler like King David, not a divine savior. Do those Jews worship a different God? These are all great topics for conversation and debate, and it seems a Christian academic institution should be open to these discussions.

  • smelephantix

    As a fellow alum, I stand behind the school’s position.

  • Greg

    A “Messianic Jew” is simply a Christian and they should be proud of their real religious identity.

  • Sharon Shohfi

    Allah is simply the Arabic word for God, not the name of some foreign deity. If you would attend any Arabic speaking Christian Church anywhere in the world you will hear it in the reading of scripture, prayers & sermons. My Syrian Christian in-laws used it all the time in Arabic sayings for blessings, thankfulness, greetings & the expression for “God willing” which they always included when making plans! We lived in Jerusalem for a year & attended St. George’s Anglican Cathedral where we often attended combined worship services of the ex-pat & Palestinian congregations so I know what I’m talking about.

  • Larry


    “Some Christians unthinkingly say ‘Allah is not God.’ This is the ultimate blasphemy to Muslims, and furthermore, it is difficult to understand. Allah is the primary Arabic word for God. It means ‘The God.’ There are some minor exceptions. For example, the Bible in some Muslim lands uses a word for God other than Allah (Farsi and Urdu are examples). But for more than five hundred years before Muhammad, the vast majority of Jews and Christians in Arabia called God by the name Allah…”
    -From Christiananswers.net

  • Ben in oaland

    But how can that be? the Jews do not believe that God ever had a son, let alone believe that “believing” in that son, whatever that may mean, saves you from burning in hell for eternity, whatever THAT means, because they also don’t believe in hell.

    The same logic you apply to Muslims and Christians must also apply to Christians and Jews…

    Whatever THAT means.

  • Larry

    Thank you for acknowledging “Christian colleges” exist primarily to ensure indoctrination of children in the faith of their parents.

    Who needs higher learning and academic integrity when you can ensure they will believe as you do?

  • Garson Abuita

    Somehow I sensed that “Well Messianic Jews…” would be the key to the evangelicals’ answer to “Do Jews and Christians worship the same god?.” “If only you understood your religion correctly, you’d understand that the god of the Torah is Jesus.” blarf.
    Jews in the past, being separated from their Christian neighbors in a way that was inconceivable by the 20th century, had much less of a problem stating that Christianity worshipped a different god. Even today there are some who hold Christianity to be pagan, idolatrous and polytheistic. Judaism, of course, has no such problem with Islam.

  • I, too, am a Wheatie – with two degrees from the institution. I love the school, but the faculty is always obnoxiously different in opinion and attitude than the student population or the faculty. The best word to describe the administration is “reactionary”, especially in this case. I bet that, if polled, a decent percentage of the BITH faculty would make similar statements about worshiping “the same God” (our historical link with Islam is undeniable) and know that it can be said without diminishing the message of Jesus.

    EVEN if Dr. Hawkins was theologically wrong, the point is simply not worthy of a summary administrative leave ruling. Would a white male have been treated differently? I think so.

  • Nathanael Bunge

    Allah MEANS God, but does not REFER to the Christian God. Linguistically they’re the same, but literally, they’re very different.

  • Circular argument: Christianity is true because the Bible says it is. The bible is true because Christians say it is.

    Grow up. Billions of brain cells need a better job than casuistry.

  • I meant “administration” not faculty in the first part….

  • Nathanael Bunge

    It’s not a circular argument since it can be backed up. Jesus was a real man, who claimed to be God and proved it. He backed up the Bible, and as an infallible person He proved it to be true.

  • Maybe you’d understand religions better if you studied evolutionary psychology and sociobiology instead of pretty parsing of Bronze age myth texts.

  • I suppose the only real solution to this is for God to say something. She likely won’t, being a mythical figure.

    But you can be sure that the primates will all have an opinion, because religious belief is untestable and undetectable. Religious behavior, the bad part, is the problem. Always will be.

  • It took her awhile, but she’s on the path to a real life now. I hope she does well.

  • Ben in oakland

    And sin. And hell. And the trinity. And eternal torture. And the Virgin birth. And choirs of angels. And original sin. And and and and and and and

  • Ben in oakland

    Well, I guess if you ask only the true Christians, and ignore all of the false ones, who by definition are not the true ones, then there is only one answer to all of those questions.

    Now we just have to figure out who are the true Christians, and who are the false ones. It’s what we atheists refer to as a theological merry-go-round.

  • Sharia is a vey bad system of governance embedded in Islam. If you fear bad governance, Islamaphobia is a rational choice. Read Naipaul. Or Hirsan Ali. They actually know Islam from Inside.

  • Ben in oakland

    That’s what fundamentalist religion of any stripe does. It treats the adherents like children, who must be guided.

    For a small fee, of course.

  • Harsh, but it rings of truth. Like the current crop of Republicans, increasing waves of fear are herding religious schools into a closed and ever-tightening circle of fear.

    They’re the Thor-worshippers of today.

  • I suspect Volf won’t be coming back, as Wheaton circles the Casuistry Wagons.

    Maybe a move to a serious school would be the next best step.

  • Don’t feel bad. One of your kids escaped. Cherish them. With luck, you’ll be taught to question your own security blanket.

  • Good dog. Woof woof.

  • Nathanael Bunge

    Sorry, but I don’t really follow what you said.

  • Nathanael Bunge

    God is easily verifiable. Use simple logic and you can determine many aspects of Him, as well as his infallible existence.

  • ben in oakland

    please do so. First, prove there is a god. second, prove that it is the Jewish god. Third prove that the jewish god had a son. You can do it with simple logic.

  • ben in oakland

    You said the only difference is the status of jesus. I pointed out a few others.

  • Larry

    Take it up with Ecumenialists. Many of them in your own Christian faith. Although not technically true, it is diplomatic to point out points with religions with a degree of shared ancestry. Christians do not worship the same God as Jews, Muslims do not worship in the same god as Christians or Jews. But they all have much in common and are monotheistic. (Maybe this discussion will finally put the myth of “Judeo-Christian” to rest)

    Hawkins was being censured for being polite and respectful to a faith besides her own with a little bit of acknowledgment of commonalities between them.

    Evangelical Christians have an aversion to show respect for faiths or even Christian sects besides their own. The suspension is not unexpected from a school whose purpose is to indoctrinate students into ultra-conservative Christianity. However, it does rankle at the school’s pretension of aspirations of higher education.

  • Nathanael Bunge

    Ah, yes. I was referring to the closeness of the two religions, as Christianity does stem from Judaism.

  • Neon Genesis

    You could make the same argument about Mormons and Catholics. Mormons and Catholics all believe in Jesus the same as evangelicals but Mormons and Catholics also have radically different views about the bible and both Mormons and Catholics have additional beliefs that contradict evangelical Christians. But other than the most extremist evangelicals, I doubt most Christians would make a huge deal if Dr. Hawkins said Mormons and Catholics worship the same god as evangelicals even though their beliefs and doctrines are as radically different from evangelicals as the Muslims.

  • Neon Genesis

    So you’re basically calling for a modern day Inquisition for all Christians and only the Christians who agree with Doc as the final authority are let in?

  • ben in oakland


    Or am I being Catholic now?

  • ben in oakland

    THE PC police? Are you being ironic, or is this what is funny in doc world.

    Do you mean evangelicals, fundamentalists, and similar radically conservative Christians?

    because they’re the only ones telling the rest of us who is a true Christian and who is not, who has the proper belief in god and who does not.

  • Mark

    That’s a slanderous statement toward Wheaton cause you don’t agree with THEIR values.

  • Bud

    If needing to be sheltered and limited in that many ways in order to retain said faith, then is it really that strong to begin with? Also, shutting out the real world while in school will do them no favors once they’re out in it, as they’ll most likely need to stay in the “system”, shunning the secular world, which, in the end, is what schools like this ultimately want; not faith, but a robot they can control.

    Questioning my beliefs and world view has always made me stronger and more true to who I am at my core.

  • So,having said all that,Ms.Shohfi,here’s my question: Who is Jesus Christ to the Syrian/Arabic-speaking Christians of whom you speak? I noticed that you made NO mention of Him,so…? I await your reply. (Or whoever can give me a Biblical answer to this question.)—Thanks,and peace in Christ, always.

  • Be Brave

    Christians and Muslims DO NOT “worship the same God.”

    Ms. Hawkins should have resigned. But the mighty paycheck is more important than conviction I see.

    She can apply at a Universalist Unitarian organization or one of dozens of liberal theological groups that have no problem at all disavowing Jesus to worship the idol of political correctness. That wholesale tyrannical ideology will not make Wheaton fall at its feet.

    Hawkins did what was wrong.

    Wheaton leadership did what was right.

  • Thank you,Mr.Hawkins! You reiterated EXACTLY the primary differences between Islam and the Christian Faith,so that begs the question: It what theological world can it be said the the two faith’s concept of God is even remotely the same, since obviously they both cannot be right? Seriously,people; get a grip! Sure it can be conceded that perhaps Wheaton’s reaction to the professor’s statement was a tad overreacting,but if this professor was well aware of Wheaton’s ” Statement of Faith”, then she brought the censure upon herself,and should have been censured.One can either deny the established tenets of the Christian Faith,or hold to them; if you don’t adhere to what your faith teaches,then don’t pretend that you do,or try to tweak and parse Christian doctrines to make them say what you wished they would say.

  • Daniel Chase

    The author might be a Wheaton grad, but like the suspended professor, he is completely clueless about basic Christian theology. I’m not sure how it is he got to be an editor of a journal regarding religion at all given the inherent nonsensical position he asserts.

    The Christian God is the triune God, eternally existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Ask any Muslim if that is the same God as Allah, and you will find that there is a distinct difference.

    But don’t stop there. Also ask a Jew. Jews tend to take exception to the idea that Jesus is God.

    The ultimate logical problem with the idea that all religions worship the same god is that it makes them all wrong. From a Christian perspective, it is grossly offensive because it makes Jesus out to be a moron. Why did he need to die if everybody already worships the same God?

    Claiming that all religions worship the same god defies sound thinking

  • Ed Gallagher

    Please, when you speak of Wheaton College and its religious tests for faculty membership, be sure to identify that institution as Wheaton College in Illinois. The intolerance you describe did NOT take place at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, a liberal arts college that respects the academic freedom of all its faculty.

  • Doug Truitt

    So are you saying you believe there is more than one God?

  • Nathanael Bunge

    No. I’m saying they do not believe in the God of the Bible. They believe in a God in their minds.

  • Jared

    Nice one!

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  • Ben in Oakland

    “The ultimate logical problem with the idea that all religions worship the same god is that it makes them all wrong.”

    On the one hand, that is what I have saying. On the other hand, it just goes to show that atheism isn’t a statement about God. iT’s a statement about religion.

    We may all indeed have only one God. But then, what we have is a bunch of religions that are simply the by-products of humanity.

    “From a Christian perspective, it is grossly offensive because it makes Jesus out to be a moron. Why did he need to die if everybody already worships the same God?”

    Why indeed? Why the cosmic melodrama? It’s a standard atheist question. Are we really so awful that we made God want to kill himself?

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  • Stuart Mitchell

    As do you.

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  • Nathanael Bunge

    Obviously, no. What makes you think so?

  • Daniel Chase

    Yes. We are that bad.

  • Ben in oakland

    You may well be. I don’t know you, but if you are bad enough to make god kill himself, then you are perhaps someone I have no wish to know.

    I’m not. I’m just not perfect. But I can look at my life, and the life of just about everyone I have ever known, and the worst I can say about any of it is, “well, we’re just not perfect.”

    But none of this addresses my question, does it? God created the world, people, and everything in it. He created sin, no matter how much you try to put the blame on free will. He knew what eve and Adam would do, else he is not omniscient. He could have prevented all of it, including his own suicide, else he is not omnipotent. And there was NO OTHER MEANS for him to address the flaws in his own character, other than this cosmic melodrama. He could have fixed the problem at the flood, but somehow, left all of that sin just sitting there.

    And this is the Fount of Reason and Morality? Sounds like a big ol’ drama queen to me.

  • eric

    If you need a statement added to Wheatons Statement of Faith to “clarify” that Allah and Yahweh are NOT the same God then you simply dont know the god of the Koran, or the God of the Bible, or both. No statement should be needed for something so patently obvious. Is the Allah a trinity in the Koran? Is Jesus presented as God in the Koran? NO? then you have 2 very different beings. The Trinity and the Deity of Jesus are inconsequential, they are required for Christian orthodoxy.

  • eric

    *correction: “The Trinity and the Deity of Jesus are NOT inconsequential, they are required for Christian orthodoxy”

  • Bud

    Have you ever stopped to consider what was created as religion was just primitive man’s attempt to explain this huge world that contains so many unexplainable things, helping to get his head around them?

    Also, what if you were born in Iraq? You’d most likely be Muslim.

    What if you were born in Japan, you’d most likely be Taoist or Buddhist.

    Does that ever make you wonder about religion in general, how much of it is based on where you were born? Being born into those other religions you’d think you believed in the “right” one too.

  • ben in oakland

    No, you don’t have two different beings. You have two different religions.

    world of difference.

    All you are doing is arguing that your orthodoxy is false, according to every other orthodoxy in the world.

  • Charles Bobis

    Tobin: In an article that mostly seeks to clarify the basis for Prof. Hawkins suspension, published in the Atlantic on line on Dec. 17, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/christian-college-suspend-professor/421029/
    another Wheaton Alum Ruth Graham references a different controversial firing of a Wheaton faculty member in Jan. 2006, reported in the Wall Street Journal.


    The reason for the firing? The faculty member converted to Catholicism. What is one to make of this? Is there anything in the Wheaton Statement of Faith that conflicts with Catholicism?

  • Stuart Mitchell

    Nathanael, considering there is more evidence for the life of Mohammad than the life of Moses or Jesus, you will have a difficult time proving anything. Remember, third and forth hand accounts do not count as evidence. All of the crucial aspects of all revealed religions are untestable and unverifiable. This is why it is called faith. If you could prove your claims it would be called science.

  • alison

    Seriously? Have you read this woman’s entire statement. It would have been disgraceful if Wheaton had done nothing.

  • Ben in oakland

    @ Stuart.

    It might also be called history. But the gospels contain enough contradictions, both historical and theological, that they must be considered a-historic. And quite probably, a-theological as well.

    I highly recommend “The English Life of Jesus”. It really goes into these inconsistencies, both theological and historical.

  • Tom Snyder

    Jehovah is just an English version of Yahweh. It’s a perfect;y okay word, though I don’t use it. Of course, as Jesus notes in John 8:58, Jesus is actual the Great I Am, Jesus IS the Yahweh of Exodus!

    Tobin is off base here. The woman professor is nutty. How did she ever get tenure????

  • Stephen Shields

    With respect, I disagree. I do not see how you can maintain your position in the light of the fact that the Statement of Faith clearly presents a Trinitarian God, in which Islam does not believe.

  • Fran

    The Jewish religious leaders accused Jesus of blasphemy because he said that sins of certain persons were forgiven (Mt. 9:2,3; Mr. 2:5-7; Lu. 5:20,21). They tried to stone him as a blasphemer because he declared himself to be the son of God (John 10:33-36), and not God. At John 8:58, of course Jesus could say before Abraham came into existence, he was also existing. Jesus had a pre-human existence with Jehovah since Jesus was the beginning of creation by Jehovah. This was confirmed by Paul at Colossians 1:15-16, referring to Jesus as the first-born of all creation. Jesus is not equal to Jehovah, as only Jehovah knows when the end of this wicked era will come, not even the Angels or Jesus (Mark 13:32). Jesus said he was going to his Father, and the Father was greater than him (John 14:28). Jesus, in prayer to God, acknowledged Jehovah to be the only true God (John 17:3). It was Jehovah who spoke to Moses and who also saved the Israelites at the Red Sea.

  • Christian Philosopher

    Saying that Muslims and Christians worship the same God does not mean that Muslims and Christians agree about God. It simply acknowledges that there is a common referent to Muslim and Christian beliefs.

    If I say “My pet is a cat” and you say “No, my pet is a dog” there is no disagreement because there is no common referent. But if I were to point and say “this is a cat” and you say “no, it is a dog” then we really do disagree because of the common referent.

    Denying that Christians and Muslims worship the same God means that there must be at least two distinct referents. This leads to some really strange paradoxes. The simple and common sense solution is to say that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, but that they have different beliefs about God. Most theologians understand it this way.

    Thus Grant is entirely correct to say that if Wheaton really wants to deny this common view, they need to make it explicit in their Statement of Faith.

  • Ben in oakland

    This is exactly what I said. This isn’t a dispute about God, it’s a dispute about religion, with both sides proving that neither knows what it is talking about.

  • Christian Philosopher

    I don’t understand your reply. What are the “both sides” you refer to?

    My comment presumed classic monotheism to be true. This makes sense because this discussion is a dispute between Christians (Hawkins, Volf, Wheaton Admin).

    Think of it this way, IF monotheism is true, THEN it makes most sense to say that Muslims and Christians refer to the same God, but have different beliefs about that God. Of course, IF atheism is true, you need explain this differently (but this is hardly relevant here).

    If I am right, most Christian theologians frame this issue clearly and productively (including Hawkins). The ones who seem confused are those that argue that the Christian God is a different God than the Muslim God due to distinctively Christian beliefs. When they argue this way, they seem not to understand the position they are arguing against: confusing the beliefs with the referent.

  • Ben in oakland

    Religion a vs. religion b. Both sides claim they have the truth. Monotheism isn’t the issue, the truth of each religion is the issue.

  • Christian Philosopher

    Respectfully, I don’t see how what you are saying is related to the issue being discussed here. (Except tangentially, of course.) If you were a student in one of my classes, I’d be willing to probe a bit more to understand what you are saying and why — but I doubt that would be productive in this forum. The internet is a big place. Maybe you could find a place to discuss the issues you are interested in. I’m sure you can make many interesting contributions. Good luck.

  • Don Broesamle

    Thank you, Spencer Graf. It IS really quite simple. Congratulation, Wheaton, for getting it right and swiftly so. Either we believe what God ( not Wheaton ) has said, and honor Him, or we don’t. Wheaton – 1. “Professor” – 0. Stuart Mitchell >0.

  • Stuart Mitchell

    The question is: How do you or anyone know what god “said”? The authors of the New Testament are unknown, un-named, or Paul. The Old Testament authors are unknown and historically inacurate. Who says you are right and Muslims are wrong? Muslims feel you are wrong and they are right. How does anyone adjudicate such a dispute? Why is your opinion superior to theirs? Both Cannons contain license for slavery and murdering adulterers and homosexuals. You may disregard these passages and this would be to your credit. But how do you arrive at this disregard for scripture? Wheaton is hypocritical when it decides to censure a professor but not stone to death adulterers. If you want to be serious about your bible, be so, but if you want to play games then continue to do so.

  • Stuart Mitchell
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  • Wayne & Nancy Lowe

    Wheaton grads are all over the world as missionaries, teachers, writers, politicians, professors, doctors, nurses, lawyers, businesspersons, theologians, and most of all parents, grandparents, etc. Wheaton has “Kept the Faith” for almost 156 years and will continue to do so after this is over. Look it up. Every continent bears the positive influences of Wheaton College and every culture has been influenced for the good by Wheaton grads. You are the one with your head in the sand.

  • Stuart Mitchell

    The fact that many people have graduated from Wheaton and gone on to do some good works does not address my criticism of their attitudes towards modernity or the sciences. Evolutionary Biology is a touchy subject that can not be addressed in any serious way at Wheaton along with a young non-white tenured professor speaking her mind. Wheaton is an instituion that is being quickly religated to the backwaters of society. It no longer matters.

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