Wheaton College students protest the firing of Larycia Hawkins on the school’s campus west of Chicago. Photo courtesy of "Same God"

Controversy over Wheaton professor's hijab captures evangelical rift in new film

(RNS) — Larycia Hawkins never questioned what she should do.

It was days after the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, in which 14 people were killed at a center for people with developmental disabilities. Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump seized upon the religion of the two shooters and declared he’d ban all Muslims from entering the country, and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. encouraged students at his evangelical Christian school to get concealed-carry permits because "good people" with guns could “end those Muslims.”


RELATED: Filmmaker crowdfunding documentary about ‘Same God’ flap


Larycia Hawkins wears a hijab in a Facebook post. Photo courtesy of "Same God"

Hawkins wanted to send a different message.

So Hawkins — then a political science professor at Wheaton College, an evangelical school in the Chicago suburbs — posted a photo on Facebook of herself in a hijab and announced plans to wear it through the Christian season of Advent as an act of "embodied solidarity" with Muslim women.

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God,” she wrote.

The pushback was immediate. Within a few months, the first black, female tenured professor at Wheaton had lost her job.

Hawkins' story is detailed in "Same God," a documentary that premiered late last month at the LA Film Festival.

To filmmaker Linda Midgett, responses to the professor's act revealed the polarization within both evangelical Christianity and the country as a whole.

The documentary tells Hawkins’ story through interviews with student and faculty supporters who were at Wheaton at the time and with the interfaith leaders who rallied to her side. Several more screenings are planned, including showings this month in New Orleans and Chicago.

So far, audiences' reactions show the importance of Hawkins' story and its resonance beyond Wheaton, Midgett said.

“In some ways, I felt like she got her voice back," she said, "because she lost her voice when she lost her job and she just was kind of shuttled out of the evangelical community.”

What happened at Wheaton was the perfect storm, according to the filmmaker, touching on hot-button issues of theology, race, gender, academic freedom, religious freedom, Islamophobia. Some evangelicals thought that Hawkins was a heretic. Others believed she was doing the things Jesus had told his followers to do.

Promotional poster for “Same God” film. Image courtesy of "Same God"


 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

In February 2016, Hawkins and the college announced they’d reached a confidential agreement and would part ways. 

Initially, the filmmaker also wanted to include in the documentary voices that disagreed with Hawkins’ actions. But officials at Wheaton turned down her requests to participate, she said, and the only people Midgett found willing to talk came from outside the community. That didn't feel right, she said — she wanted to include people who knew and loved the school the same way she did as an alumna.

In a written statement, Wheaton College said it was aware of the film.

"Wheaton College sincerely appreciates Dr. Hawkins’ contributions to the College during her nine years of service," it said.


RELATED: Whither Wheaton? An evangelical college ponders its future


In addition to Hawkins, Michael Mangis, a former Wheaton psychology professor, is featured in the film. When the school began termination proceedings against Hawkins, Mangis wore his academic regalia to school along with other faculty in their own act of embodied solidarity for a fellow professor. He also released an email exchange with Wheaton Provost Stan Jones — in which the provost called Hawkins’ statement “innocuous.”

The following spring, Mangis' contract wasn’t renewed.

Mangis said it was important for him to stand in solidarity with Hawkins. Otherwise, he said, "I'm just complicit and essentially giving my approval to treating people badly because of being  female, being black, being Muslim."

The documentary "Same God" follows the story Larycia Hawkins, Wheaton College and polarization within the U.S. Photo courtesy of "Same God"


 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The film also travels to Oklahoma to interview Hawkins’ family and trace her journey of faith and upbringing in the black church where her grandfather was a minister.

Some detractors have claimed Hawkins isn’t Christian because of her actions and the belief she expressed that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. But Hawkins said she was motivated by her faith. 

“I think what I really want people to know is that — this sounds strange, but — I'm just a little black girl from Oklahoma City who loves Jesus," she told Religion News Service. 

Linda Midgett, left, and Larycia Hawkins on the red carpet at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Sept. 24, 2018. Photo courtesy of "Same God"


 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

After a yearlong fellowship at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, Hawkins now teaches seminars in the school's religious studies and politics departments.

At the film’s premiere in Los Angeles, the audience gave Hawkins a long and emotional standing ovation, according to the filmmaker. The moderator of a panel discussion that followed the screening described herself as a lapsed Christian and said Hawkins had reminded her of all the things she had loved about the church.

Muslim women wearing hijabs posed with the movie poster and expressed to Midgett they were glad this had happened so that they could have this important conversation.

Hawkins said she's been humbled by the response.

“It's just a joy to meet people who have walked alongside me and embodied solidarity with me from a distance in very poignant ways," she said. "So this is a love letter to them, as well: People who are Christian and Muslim and no faith." 

She drew on a familiar verse from the New Testament book of Hebrews, saying she feels she's been surrounded by "a great cloud of witnesses."

“The cloud of witnesses from Hebrews has taken on a different meaning to me because it's not just the hall of faith for Christians, it's a hall of embodied solidarity."

Comments

  1. Allahu’Akbar. Kyrie Eleison. Beresheet bara Elohim.

  2. “Some evangelicals thought that Hawkins was a heretic. Others believed she was doing the things Jesus had told his followers to do.”

    Amazing statement. And the real problem.

  3. Jesus! That’s whose teachings Christians follow. Prof Hawkins is a Christian. She was following the faith of Jesus taught to her by her grandfather, a Christian minister.

  4. That’s your best? No real answer so you zeroed in on what is obviously a typo!

    Fixed.

  5. I’ll delete the post. I have no idea what the question was, so an answer was out of the question.

  6. The day I point to a crucifix, ask a Muslim: “Is that the God you worship?”, and hear him say “Yes”, is the day I believe Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

  7. I wasn’t aware that “God” was crucified. I thought it was Jesus, Son of God within the Mystery of the Trinity, who was crucified by the Romans. Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the One True God, certain doctrinal differences notwithstanding.

  8. In his CATHOLICISM textbook, the late theologian Richard McBrien mentioned the phrase “canon within the canon” to describe how various Christians pick and choose their preferred scriptural texts to justify their preferred understanding of the Christian faith. For example (and I draw from blogging experience), some Christians rely on preferred passages that support their notion of a God of punishment and vengeance — while others point to those texts that point to God’s unconditional love. Even Catholics disagree among themselves in this area, a point about which you no doubt are aware even as a non-believer.

  9. “It is absurd to suggest that her ‘same god’ comment has no implication for evangelical faith—and in particular for a statement of faith like Wheaton’s.

    “For Christians, it matters in spades whether we recognize the triune God of the Bible and his Son Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners—all of which are denied by Islam. It also matters big-time, whether one recognizes Christ as the only way to be reconciled to God.”

    — theologian Denny Burk

  10. I’m glad Dr. Hawkins is no longer at Wheaton, but that doesn’t mean her problem has gone away. Not at all, as this new movie makes clear. There’s still a lot of folks out there who are tempted or influenced by this ‘same God’ stuff.

    But at the same time, this is a great opportunity to offer the clear truth to interested people. Neither the Bible nor Islam are fuzzy-wuzzy in their statements about Jesus, so let’s just offer people a quick one-page comparison of each side’s claims.

    https://www.arabicbible.com/for-christians/1316-jesus-christian-vs-islam.html?showall=1&start=0

  11. Last time I checked, the Nicene Creed proclaimed that Jesus was:

    “…true God of true God…”,

    while the Athanasian Creed says:

    “…the Son is God…”.

    So, yes, by virtue of the hypostatic union, Jesus may be called “God”, and Christians can say that the one crucified on the cross was indeed “God”. I have yet to hear of any Muslims who worship that God, only Christians.

    Further, to dismiss a core teaching of Christianity as merely “certain doctrinal differences” is breathtakingly presumptuous.

  12. I am indeed quite aware of that, thanks.

    I have often said how people read the Bible depends on the kind of people they are, and not the other way around. Your example certainly illustrates that.

    In this case, I was actually going for something almost the same, but slightly different. People reading the same book and coming to very different conclusions. It is amazing how radically unclear in intent is the author of the entire universe and everything in it, from the smallest sparrow falling to the largest galaxy spinning.

    One could either conclude there is no such author, or that his “intent” depends on who is listening. It does no good to say it’s all becuase of “fallen man”, because that “explanation” could just as easily tell us not to trust any of it.

  13. To dismiss the absolutely true beliefs of a billion muSlims, or a billion Hindus, or a billion Buddhists as being obviously, blatantly, and completely untrue is breathtakingly presumptuous as well.

  14. Stop lynching LGBTQ+ people for attention.

  15. Fake religion, fake people, fake news.

  16. The difference is that considering a core teaching of Christianity as a mere doctrinal difference is demonstrably false, and hence presumptuous to claim, whereas whether the beliefs of Muslims, hindus, etc., are true cannot be so demonstrated -and hence it would not be presumptuous to deny it, as it is not a given fact. It is simply an opinion, which may be true or false, rather than a presumptuous denial of a fact -such maintaining that the Deity of Christ is a minor doctrinal matter.

  17. And of course, the easy solution is the Great Kibosh. Tis mind boggling how much time we would all save!!

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  18. I can’t say I disagree. I suppose that’s why it’s called “faith”. My hope, of course, is that my faith is not only reasonable but also eventually fulfilling after I “bite the dust”.

  19. It’s one thing to say that “Jesus is God [i.e., within the mystery of the Trinity].” It’s another thing to say that “God is Jesus [period]” or that “God died on the cross [period].” (I added bracketed text for clarification.) Neither the Father nor the Spirit died on the cross. Only Jesus died on the cross; his divine nature did not die or end. God is not dead.

    The phrase “true God of true God” means simply that Jesus is divine (as well as human).

    While it’s true that Muslims do not worship Jesus as God, it is not true that Muslims do not worship the One True God. Just as Christianity grew out of Judaism, so Islam emerged from Christianity and Judaism. These three religions constitute the great monotheistic religions.

    According to the Second Vatican Council:

    + “[T]he plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place among these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Savior wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found among them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life” (LG-16).

    + “The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

    “Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Muslims, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom” (NA-3).

    Contrary to your viewpoint, I have not at all “dismiss[ed] a core teaching of Christianity.”

  20. I am not familiar with Dr. Denny Burk even though I live in Louisville, KY where he teaches at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, per http://www.boycecollege.com/academics/faculty/denny-burk/. Therefore, I must limit my reply to what you have shared here:

    A. “It is absurd to suggest that her ‘same god’ comment has no implication for evangelical faith—and in particular for a statement of faith like Wheaton’s.”

    Since I am not an evangelical Christian or an alumnus of Wheaton College, I can only reference a couple of items in this news report:

    + “Some evangelicals thought that Hawkins was a heretic. Others believed she was doing the things Jesus had told his followers to do.”

    + A psychology professor “released an email exchange with Wheaton Provost Stan Jones — in which the provost called Hawkins’ statement ‘innocuous.'”

    In Matthew 22, Jesus instructs us to love neighbor as well as God. He puts these two commandments on an equal plane and says, “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” One who doesn’t love one’s neighbor doesn’t love God. In Luke 10, Jesus tells us that one’s “neighbor” is not necessarily a member of one’s own religious group. In Matthew 25, Jesus instructs us to “welcome the stranger” and goes so far as to identify the “stranger” — as none other than Jesus himself!!! If Wheaton’s “faith” ignores this Gospel teaching of Jesus, I’ll go with Jesus, not with Wheaton. Dr. Hawkins is demonstrating Jesus’ teaching about the importance of reaching out to one’s neighbors/strangers without denying her own Christian faith.

    B. “For Christians, it matters in spades whether we recognize the triune God of the Bible and his Son Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners—all of which are denied by Islam. It also matters big-time, whether one recognizes Christ as the only way to be reconciled to God.”

    There is nothing in this report that shows Dr. Hawkins denying her Christian faith. If anything, she is *living* it in her solidarity with Muslims who, by definition, are the “neighbors” and “strangers” in Jesus’ teaching. They are “the other”, the unwelcomed in Donald Trump’s world. Muslims, whether they embrace Jesus’ example or not, are *Jesus in disguise*. We have Jesus’ word for it.

    Is Jesus “the only way to be reconciled to God”, as Dr. Burk claims? If God’s love is unconditional as I believe it is, the answer is “No”.

  21. “No one who denies the Son has the Father.” (I John 2:23)

    The Second Vatican Council is flat out wrong.

    I prefer to follow the authority of John, rather than that piffle you just quoted.

  22. Why are people still confused? Trying to find explanations?

    If everything has to be explained in order for you to believe or not, then it wouldn’t be called Faith…

    If God wanted to reveal more or make discoverable more proof, then He wouldn’t have endowed man with free will?
    2000 years and we still can’t come up with a silencing sentence.
    2000 years, and the teachings of Jesus, from a philosopher’s standpoint alone, is still so relevant that it tops other’s as the addiction breaking, marriage saving, life changing, humanitarian inspiring devotion of all time..

  23. Not so fast:

    Actually, Jesus was a bit “touched”. After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today’s world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J’s gospels being mostly fiction.

  24. Re Buddha (fat of thin?). No portrait painted during Columbus’s lifetime appears to have survived, but scores of later artists rendered their Columbuses, all different.

    Is it rational to conclude that Columbus didn’t exist or didn’t make the voyages ascribed to him?

  25. “Most contemporary NT experts…”

    A lie or way over exaggerated. There may be some who believe that, but I seriously doubt that most do.

  26. Jews first, Christians second and finally Muslims, all worship God, who is creator and ruler of the universe. And since God isn’t a person or being, but is the ground of all being, you can’t really nitpick and state, “I’m a Christian and Muslims don’t worship the God that I worship,” when in fact you both worship God, the creator and ruler of the universe.

  27. Most contemporary NT experts who have read outside the bible box.

  28. All New Testament experts read/study outside the Bible, from both ends of the theological spectrum, conservative to liberal. You’re just making up fake facts to prop up your false assertions.

  29. The lotus flower birth is right up there with Christianity’s virgin birth con .

  30. And then there is rigorous historic testing which concludes that only 10% of the NT is authenic.

  31. NT exegetes are valid only if their employment does not rely on bible thumping.

  32. You make all of this crap up. There is no such rigorous, historic testing that concludes anything about the NT being true or false. There are plenty of great Bible scholars who are devout Christians and even a few Jews, maybe a Muslim or two. Everything that you post here is your own biased opinion as the atheist you are. You have no power here, it’s time you moved on, before someone drops a house on you!

  33. No Christian — least of all “Yours truly” — is denying the divinity of Father, Son, and Spirit.

    “The Second Vatican Council is flat out wrong.”

    Thanks for revealing your ignorance.

  34. Any and all that is humanly good, whether inspired by religious belief or not, comes from God. Do you agree or disagree?

    Shame on you for misquoting me when I wrote, “Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the One True God, certain doctrinal differences notwithstanding.” How did I (your words) “dismiss a core teaching of Christianity”? Explain. How did my reference to “certain doctrinal differences notwithstanding” suddenly become “mere doctrinal differences” — emphasis on your introduction of the word “mere”? Explain.

    EDIT (7 hours later): Answer my challenges, or are you still trying to figure out what I wrote???

  35. Obviously, you have not the studies of Professor Crossan and also Professor Luedemann.

  36. I’m very familiar with the ideas of John Domonic Crassan, but not the German guy. However, Crassan co siders himself a Christian and the work two guys with different ideas doesn’t support the claim that, “Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J’s gospels being mostly fiction.”

  37. Of course you don’t. Are you playing dense, or does that just come naturally?

    My target in quoting that verse was Muslims, whom you claim worship the same God as Christians do. But John clearly teaches otherwise. Muslims deny that Jesus is the Son of God (Quran 17:111, and numerous other places), and therefore do not have the Father as their God either.

    As for Vat II, accepting their errors would more properly be a sign of ignorance – just as it would be with Vat I.

  38. Let me spell it out for you:

    + Muslims, Jews, and Christians worship the Father as God (for lack of a better way to put it and from a Christian perspective).

    + Christians, unlike Jews and Muslims, also worship the Son and the Spirit as God.

    + Christians embrace the Trinity; Jews and Muslims do not.

    + All three great monotheistic religions embrace the One True God in the Father (again, from a Christian perspective).

    For comparisons, see:

    + http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/globalconnections/mideast/themes/religion/index.html

    + http://www.religionfacts.com/charts/christianity-islam-judaism

    + http://christianityinview.com/xncomparison.html

    The above does not ignore doctrinal differences.

  39. Let me spell it out for you again. Read it very slowly, if it is to hard for you.

    “No one who denies the Son has the Father.” (I John 2:23)

    One verse simple verse blows away all your babbling.

    One. Simple. Verse.

    Ans yet you cannot grasp it.

  40. No, it is YOU who “cannot grasp it.”

    Context is important here:

    “The purpose of the letter is to combat certain false ideas, especially about Jesus, and to deepen the spiritual and social awareness of the Christian community (1 Jn 3:17). Some former members (1 Jn 2:19) of the community refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ (1 Jn 2:22) and denied that he was a true man (1 Jn 4:2). The specific heresy described in this letter cannot be identified exactly, but it is a form of docetism or gnosticism; the former doctrine denied the humanity of Christ to insure that his divinity was untainted, and the latter viewed the appearance of Christ as a mere stepping-stone to higher knowledge of God. These theological errors are rejected by an appeal to the reality and continuity of the apostolic witness to Jesus. The author affirms that authentic Christian love, ethics, and faith take place only within the historical revelation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ…[http://usccb.org/bible/1john/0].”

    “One. Simple. Verse.”

    That’s your problem: You fail to grasp context. You also dismiss the teaching of Jesus himself (!!!) in the Gospel, to wit (repeated, in part, from my reply above to a fellow blogger):

    “In Matthew 22, Jesus instructs us to love neighbor as well as God. He puts these two commandments on an equal plane and says, ‘The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’ One who doesn’t love one’s neighbor doesn’t love God. In Luke 10, Jesus tells us that one’s ‘neighbor’ is not necessarily a member of one’s own religious group. In Matthew 25, Jesus instructs us to ‘welcome the stranger’ and goes so far as to identify the ‘stranger’ — as none other than Jesus himself….. Muslims, whether they embrace Jesus’ example or not, are *Jesus in disguise*. We have Jesus’ word for it.”

  41. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of change. (James 1:17)

    Whatever good there may be in a man comes, not from himself, but from God.

    It is a core Christian teaching that Jesus is God. In the one person of Jesus, it can be said that the One who is God was crucified for us.

    Muslims will never accept that the One who is God was crucified for us. A crucified God is not the same as an uncrucified God. This elementary difference is swept aside by you when you maintain that, in spite of this massive difference, Muslims and Christians actually worship the same God. it is evident therefore that you hold this difference to be of little weight in determining whether or not Christians and Muslims worship the same God, hence my use of the term “mere”.

  42. Save your NT 101 lecture. I understand the context in which John was writing. What you fail to understand is that the principle enunciated in I John 2: 23 is equally relevant to Islam.

    Surely you don’t think that when Jesus teaches us to “love your neighbor” and to “welcome the stranger”, he means that we should love and welcome their false religions too. Or maybe you do.

  43. How familiar are you with Professor Crossan’s studies when you don’t even know how to spell his name?

  44. I can’t spell either, but I have read enough of Crossan to know that thee misrepresents his views.

  45. “No one who denies the Son has the Father.” (I John 2:23)
    We deny Jesus when we make ourselves judge of what is in other peoples hearts. God alone is Judge.

  46. Start with Professor Crossan’s book , Who Is Jesus , to see some of his conclusions. An easy read vs some of his other over 20 other books.

  47. I don’t have any problem with Crossan, just with those who misrepresent him.

  48. That is true. But we can ascertain the rightness or wrongness of one’s beliefs based on what they say. And in the case of Muslims, they will quote to you multiple places in the Quran supporting their belief that Jesus was not the Son of God. So yes, from their own mouths they will tell you that they deny the Son (and therefore neither do they have the Father as God).

  49. Rat Con over and over refers to Crossan as if he were some kind of divine oracle.

  50. Not a divine oracle but someone who has done the best job yet in determining the authenticity of the NT.

  51. I misspell a lot. English isn’t my first language.

    My spell checker doesn’t always catch everything.

    Do you call him Professor because you can’t remember his whole name? :p

  52. OK, but just because you like his personal beliefs doesn’t come close to supporting your claim about “most contemporary NT experts.”

    Go post your drivel, especially the boilerplate, somewhere where folks are dumb enough to believe it.

  53. Thank you for the quote from James 1:17 and for acknowledging thereby that “[w]hatever good there may be in a man comes, not from himself, but from God.” I say “Thank you” for two reasons:

    (1) Your agreement is consistent with James 1:17

    (2) You have contradicted a prior assertion, to wit, “…whether the beliefs of Muslims, hindus, etc., are true cannot be so demonstrated -and hence it would not be presumptuous to deny it, as it is not a given fact. It is simply an opinion, which may be true or false…”

    We accept James’ “opinion” as divinely inspired and true, yet you earlier claimed that “[t]he Second Vatican Council is flat out wrong” after I quoted relevant texts (below) from LG-16, especially the following: “Whatever good or truth is found among them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life.” In other words, whatever good there is in the world — even among non-believers — can only come from the One True God who is Love itself (1 John 4:7 — “… because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God”). Where there is love and good in the world, God is present in some way for those who do not embrace the Godhead. We speak of this divine presence as the influence of the Holy Spirit. From a Christian perspective, non-believers know God in a way foreign to Christian orthodoxy. They know this God because their lives are marked by love, good, and universal truths that — from a Christian perspective — can only come from the One True God, our Creator.

    Your final paragraph is sloppy in terms of the *communicatio idiomatum*, i.e., the “exchange of properties” in Christian theology between the human and divine natures of Christ. According to you, “the One who is God was crucified for us.” Is Jesus the “One who is God”? How about Father and Spirit? True, they were not crucified, but each is God, albeit without a human nature. Did “God” die on the cross? Again, confusing. It is sloppy to suggest as you do (“A crucified God is not the same as an uncrucified God”), that the triune Godhead was crucified. More confusion. The Son of God was crucified, but neither the Father nor the Spirit was crucified or taken down dead from the cross. As one writer has noted, “If God dies, everything dies with Him. Obviously, then, God could not have perished on the cross…..It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature, because the divine nature isn’t capable of experiencing death”(https://www.ligonier.org/blog/it-accurate-say-god-died-cross/).

    It is not a “mere” matter to hold that Muslims do not worship the One True God. If God is Love, and if Muslims demonstrate love of neighbors and strangers consistent with divine love demonstrated in Judeo-Christian scripture, then Muslims certainly *do* worship the same God (if not the triune Godhead) we worship. From a strictly Christian perspective, one can argue they — like the Jews — have an incomplete knowledge/understanding of God, but “incomplete” does not mean “ignorant”.

  54. Missed your comment initially.

    That’s a very slippery shifting of the goals posts on your part. Initially, I was saying that it is presumptuous to dismiss a core teaching of Christianity as a minor doctrinal difference, as it’s being a major core teaching is demonstrably true. I pointed out that this is very different than saying whether or not Islam, etc., is true or false, because their truth or falsity cannot be demonstrated -that is a matter of opinion – and hence no presumption inheres in either accepting or denying the truth/falsity of Islam, etc. To dismiss the importance a core teaching of Christianity, however, is presumptuous, insofar as its importance as a core doctrine is a recognized fact, not a matter of opinion.

    Note that in what I said -summarized above -I did not express any view on the actual truth/falsity of Islam, etc. I used it as an example of statements that would not be presumptuous, based as they would be on one’s opinion. You then proceed in (2) as I actually made an assertion as to their falsity.

    When I said that VC II “was flat out wrong”, I was referring -in the context of our discussion – to its teaching that Muslims worship “the One True God”. (I still hold to that. The one true God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not the Muslim monad Allah. “No one who denies the Son has the Father”. Muslims deny the Son, and therefor do not have the Father either.)

    But then you now launch into a long disquisition as If I denied that there was was anything at all truthful in Islam, etc. You have wasted a lot of ink to no purpose, as I said no such thing. It is only to be expected that one might find some grains of truth in Islam; plausible errors usually contain some truth. But it is like mixing wholesome wine with poison; the wine may be good, but its wholesomeness does not negate the poisonous nature of the mixture.

    If you had perceived why I carefully used the phrase “the One who is God was crucified for us” – you could have saved yourself some more ink. I had hoped to use a little shorthand here, but I guess I have to spell it out: “the One person of the incarnate Christ, who unites both the divine and the human natures without mingling or confusion in his single hypostasis, was crucified for us”. So yes, HE (referring to the person/hypostasis, not IT, referring to the natures) was crucified for us. And that is something no Muslim would ever accept.

  55. No Christian whom I know dismisses the “core teaching of Christianity” that Jesus is God within the mystery of the Trinity, nor do I dismiss this doctrine. My earlier mention of “certain doctrinal differences” does not mean “mere” or “minor” as you have inferred.

    As for Islam and other non-Christian faiths, I quoted 1 John 4:7, to wit: “… because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God”. Because God is both Love and the source of all love, it follows that any non-believer who demonstrates love of neighbor is thereby demonstrating love that can come only from God. If that individual. furthermore, believes in God known by Christians as “the Father” (Jews and Muslims fulfill this criterion), then that person knows God in some limited way (from a Christian perspective) even if s/he does not embrace Trinitarian belief. The Great Commandment is love of neighbor and of God; the two objects of love go together (Matthew 22:36-40). It can be said that even non-monotheistic believers who strive to live an upright life and demonstrate love of neighbor are revealing something of divine love since all “love is of God”. Vatican II’s “Lumen Gentium”, paragraph 16 is relevant here. We should rmember that God works in mysterious ways (Isaiah 40:28, 55:8-9; Romans 11:33).

    You write, “The one true God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not the Muslim monad Allah.” Your criticism also applies to Jews since they also deny the Trinitarian Godhead. Seeing as how Jesus lived a Jewish life (if not always in “orthodox” fashion) and died a Jew, I offer you “food for thought” here. At least Muslims regard Jesus as a “prophet” from God. Jews, on the other hand, see Jesus not as a prophet; their views of him vary in other respects as well, perhaps depending on particular Jewish theological perspective. Islam’s reference to “Allah” refers, like Jewish belief, to what Christians understand as “the Father”. In the Old Testament, Jews knew nothing of the Son or the Spirit. Arab Christians today refer to God as “Allah”. Muslims teach the (99?) attributes of Allah, most of which would raise little if any objections from Christians. Islam, of course, grew — in part — out of Judaism and Christianity, just as Christianity grew out of Judaism. Do Muslims “not have the Father”? If God’s love is unconditional, Muslims do have the Father. On this point, one is reminded of Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Again, LG-16 is pertinent here.

    Do I, like you, regard Islam as “poisonous”? Nope.

    Your need to “spell it out” regarding your earlier statement — “the One who is God was crucified for us” — proves my point, namely, that just as the shorter statement is sloppy, so your longer statement is sloppy. Theology’s “communicatio idiomatum” reminds us to be careful in our use of language. Thanks for demonstrating my criticism.

  56. My earlier condensed statement was not “sloppy”, it simply gave you too much credit in assuming I didn’t need to spell it all out for you.

    About Muslims we can affirm the same thing as Jesus said to the Jews who rejected Him: “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44).

  57. The “principle” in 1 John 2:23, contrary to your opinion, DOES NOT apply to Islam or to Judaism. The word ‘deny’ simply means, per online dictionary, “to state that something declared or believed to be true is not true:” You assume the denier is acting in bad faith. Never mind that Jesus says, “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son AND ANYONE TO WHOM THE SON WISHES TO REVEAL” (Matthew 11:27; caps for emphasis). Jews and Muslims know the Father (as understood by Christians). That they do not embrace the divinity of Son and Spirit is not acting in bad faith. Furthermore, the USCCB commentary provides some relevant background about the Gospel of John, to wit:

    “The fourth gospel is not simply history; the narrative has been organized and adapted to serve the evangelist’s theological purposes as well. Among them are the opposition to the synagogue of the day and to John the Baptist’s followers, who tried to exalt their master at Jesus’ expense, the desire to show that Jesus was the Messiah, and the desire to convince Christians that their religious belief and practice must be rooted in Jesus. Such theological purposes have impelled the evangelist to emphasize motifs that were not so clear in the synoptic account of Jesus’ ministry, e.g., the explicit emphasis on his divinity.

    “The polemic between synagogue and church produced bitter and harsh invective, especially regarding the hostility toward Jesus of the authorities—Pharisees and Sadducees—who are combined and referred to frequently as ‘the Jews’ (see note on Jn 1:19). These opponents are even described in Jn 8:44 as springing from their father the devil, whose conduct they imitate in opposing God by rejecting Jesus, whom God has sent. On the other hand, the author of this gospel seems to take pains to show that women are not inferior to men in the Christian community: the woman at the well in Samaria (Jn 4) is presented as a prototype of a missionary (Jn 4:4–42), and the first witness of the resurrection is a woman (Jn 20:11–18).

    “The final editing of the gospel and arrangement in its present form probably dates from between A.D. 90 and 100. Traditionally, Ephesus has been favored as the place of composition, though many support a location in Syria, perhaps the city of Antioch, while some have suggested other places, including Alexandria.”

    NOTE on John 1:19 — *The Jews*: throughout most of the gospel, the “Jews” does not refer to the Jewish people as such but to the hostile authorities, both Pharisees and Sadducees, particularly in Jerusalem, who refuse to believe in Jesus. The usage reflects the atmosphere, at the end of the first century, of polemics between church and synagogue, or possibly it refers to Jews as representative of a hostile world (Jn 1:10–11).

    You complain, “Surely you don’t think that when Jesus teaches us to ‘love your neighbor’ and to ‘welcome the stranger’, he means that we should love and welcome their false religions too. Or maybe you do.”

    No, I do not (so think). I do think, however, that learning can benefit not only from having a library card but also — more importantly — an open mind. You seem fixated. C’est la vie.

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