Wheaton should get medieval on Larycia Hawkins

Print More
Capture of Jerusalem in the First Crusade

Public Domain

Capture of Jerusalem in the First Crusade

Capture of Jerusalem in the First Crusade

Capture of Jerusalem in the First Crusade

In the medieval West, Muslims were widely thought to be idolators, pagans who worshiped demons. Crusade propaganda like the Song of Roland emphasized that Christendom was in a struggle to capture territory from their demons in the name of the true God.

And so a story was told of Archbishop Thiemo of Salzburg, who went with Duke Welf of Bavaria to liberate Jerusalem in the First Crusade in 1098. Approaching the holy city, they are surrounded and defeated and taken into slavery. In due course Thiemo smashes a golden idol worshiped by the Muslim king, who accuses him of sacrilege. In return, the bishop tells the king that his idols are not gods but demons and that he should cease worshiping them — whereupon he is subjected to torture and a gruesome death.

Among those who read the story was Bishop Otto of Freising, a learned 12th-century prelate who knew at once it was nonsense. Not that Thiemo mightn’t have been martyred for his faith, but that the account of Muslim religious practice was unbelievable. “Because,” Otto explains in his book of world history,

it is a fact that Saracens are all worshipers of the one God [quia constat universitatem Sarracenorum unius Dei cultricem esse], and that they accept the Books of the Law and also circumcision, and do not even reject Christ and the apostles and the apostolic men; that they are far from salvation because of one thing alone — they deny that Jesus Christ, who brings salvation to the human race, is God or the Son of God, and hold in reverence and worship Muhammad as a great prophet of the supreme God.

By accepting Otto’s formulation, Wheaton College can gracefully permit political science professor Larycia Hawkins to keep her job while preserving its evangelical bona fides in suburban Chicago. Which is to say, her statement that Christians and Muslims worship the same God can be found neither to violate its statement of faith nor at odds with its conviction that Muslims’ inability to accept Jesus as their lord and savior keeps them from salvation.

The challenge is that too many of the college’s co-religionists are intent on playing the Crusader game. Such as former Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin, who a dozen years ago had this to say about a Somali warlord he’d captured: “He went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, ‘They’ll never get me because Allah will protect me. Allah will protect me.’ Well, you know what? I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”

Let us pray that Wheaton’s learned leaders are able to see the issue as clearly as Bishop Otto did 900 years ago.

  • Chaplain Martin

    I certainly agree with Bishop Otto and many other religious historians. I have to admit that I wonder if Larycia Hawkins had some motive anther than to simple make a statement. She knew she was working for a very conservative Christian College, did she not think of making her statement to her department heads first. Also why dress as a Muslin if she is not one? What would a Muslim think of that?

  • George Nixon Shuler

    Quoting Marsellus Wallace, now, Mark? While you make some excellent points in the context the title seems kind of racist given the race of both Marsellus and Doc Hawk.

  • Catherine Brown

    Chaplain Martin, there is a long history between Dr. Hawkins and the school Some of the university administration’s inconsistencies re: how they deal with “controversial” statements are mentioned in this article. The question is quickly becoming not simply “why did she do it?” but “why aren’t other faculty at the school disciplined” when they do something the administration doesn’t like? http://time.com/4174229/wheaton-college-larycia-hawkins-muslim-facebook/?xid=tcoshare

  • cken

    As a practical matter don’t we all idolize the God we worship by whatever name He/She is given.

  • Timothy R

    This sounds good until you read 1 John 2:23.

  • cken

    It is not about do we acknowledging the same Son, It is simply is it the same Father. In as much as we are all, all humans, sons and daughters of the same Father, I think the question remains. Plus I think you should read the whole chapter. Among other things it states if we keep His commandments we know Him and that we need to walk the walk. Pulling one verse out of context doesn’t carry the day.

  • Michael Skiendzielewski

    “…Let us pray that Wheaton’s learned leaders are able to see the issue as clearly as Bishop Otto did 900 years ago….”

    Mark, get your head out of the clouds. Your prayerful wish will happen at that religiously conservative educational when “hell freezes over.”

    Hold on, both sides of the religious debate do believe in a “hell”, don’t they?

    Praying that Wheaton’s leaders are able to see the issue clearly is as hopeless as expecting the leaders at St. George’s School in Rhode Island to hold its leadership and Board of Trustees responsible and accountable for years of student sexual abuse and horrific criminal conduct.

  • You’re too pessimistic, Michael. Yesterday, Wheaton’s Faculty Council voted unanimously for the administration to drop termination proceedings against Hawkins. That’s a shot across the bow that will be difficult to ignore.

  • Naksuthin

    Here’s what I think happened.
    When Professor Hawkins said on her Facebook page that she was going to put on a hajib….that raised the rankle of a lot of Evangelical donors.
    As you know, many evangelical leaders : Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson Jr., Jerry Fallwel (Jr and Sr), Jimmy Swaggart etc. have had a Trump sized anti Muslim chip on their shoulders
    When newspapers hit the stand showing Hawkins dressing up like a Muslim..big donors hit the fan and grabbed their phone to give Wheaton administration a “piece of their mind”
    The threat of loss of financial donations was enough to set the Administration on a course of publicly firing Professor Hawkins to appease the anti Muslim Evangelicals.

    and thats where we are now.

  • Naksuthin

    Not only the faculty but
    1. students at Wheaton and
    2. 800 alumni who signed a joint letter threatening to stop donating.
    are supporting Professor Hawkins
    The administration is finding itself more and more isolated.

  • fred gill

    What is Wheaton’s mission? Is it to disseminate whatever beliefs are currently fashionable in the larger society, especially among contemporary liberals, or is to be a Christian institution, affirming the timeless truths of Christianity? No one at Wheaton is demonizing Islam or any other religion but it is a Christian institution. Imagine if socialists had founded numerous colleges and universities one hundred years ago, all dedicated to providing a first rate education while nonetheless affirming a socialist, secularist vision of human society. What would be the response of those on the Left today if they suddenly looked up to discover that these schools, to which they and their families had given labor and money for generations, had been taken over by extreme right-wing, hard core fundamentalist Christians of the most dogmatic type. Would they be singing hymns of inclusivity then? If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t, put it on the other foot.

  • cken

    Isn’t one of the timeless truths of Christianity to try to establish common ground with non-believers to try to convert them?

  • wendel

    The amount of energy devoted to pointless issues is amazing. Imagine that instead of invading other lands, seeking converts or torturing those who disagree with us, we made the same effort to feed the hungry, comfort the sick and house the poor. I know, I know, this seems unfair and impractical when it is so much more important to show the “truth” of unprovable ideas and convert others to our beliefs…. Of course, if we turned to more practical pursuits a lot of religous leaders would need real jobs that produced real results.

  • Timothy R

    Since you’ve implied, albeit without support, that I may have taken the verse out of context, I’d invite you to observe that the immediately preceding verse, 22, says that a person who denies that Jesus is the Christ has also denied the Father. Verse 23 then stresses this point even further: “No one who denies the Son has the Father”.

    Now, certainly we were all created by the same God. No one is saying that’s not the case. Rather, it’s a question of whether or not both Christians and Muslims are worshipping the same Father, and the evidence from the NT carries a resounding “no.” I’m afraid that simply pointing out that 1 John 2 has other verses in it (“among other things it states if we keep His commandments we know Him and that we need to walk the walk”) doesn’t negate this reality in the slightest.

  • Pingback: Behind the Veil | Off the Page()