Recently, Wheaton College Professor Dr. Larycia Hawkins gained national attention when she was placed on administrative leave by Provost Stan Jones. It has been reported that Dr. Hawkins troubles began when she decided to wear a hijab, a garment associated with religious Muslim women, to show her solidarity with Muslim women, a class of persons whom she felt were being marginalized and ridiculed within American society, in particularly because of recent terrorist attacks within the United States, said to have been inspired by ISIS.
Dr. Hawkins explained her actions in her Facebook POST as follows:
“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 further stated:
"As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws (read: unconstitutional and Islamophobic), and at church."
In her recent press conference on this issue, (see video at the end of this article) she stated:
"Our love for Jesus compels us to make no peace with oppression because Christianity is political or it is not Christianity. That drove my solidarity with women in the hijab, particularly Muslims in the hijab—because you know, Jesus’ mother Mary wore a hijab too."
She went on to state:
"Throughout my years of service at Wheaton College, I have never waivered from my commitment to the Christian doctrines elucidated in the Statement of Faith."
Distinguishing & Differentiating Issues
I would be the first to say that I do not know anything about Dr. Hawkins employment
agreement with Wheaton College or about any reason or right that her employer may have had to monitor Dr. Hawkins' Facebook account. While I would support Dr. Hawkins' right to free speech and to privacy, I must point out that it also seems appropriate that Dr. Hawkins, if she has agreed to a statement of faith, or to certain Christian centered doctrines and teachings, that she be faithful to those teachings even in her private life. This is especially important as she is not only a representative of the college, but more importantly of Christ.
The media has focused its attention on the Dr.'s freedom and right of expression. However, the primary issue, as I have examined this case and the statements, are clearly her assertion that Muslims (who she sought to encourage) and Christians, worship "the same God". To be fair, Dr. Hawkins was not asserting these ideas independently. Her statements echo those of Pope Francis' who also recently affirmed that both Christians and Muslims worship "the same God".
The issues seem to have been convoluted or intertwined, until the person casually associated with religious doctrines and tenets of faith, assume that the only issue is the wearing of the hijab. In fact in Dr. Hawkins' statement and press conference, this is the primary and initial point of focus. Her theological assertion is downplayed, but I believe that her theological position is the primary, if not the only issue at hand, as you will see in this post.
Defining Pertinent Terms:
In understanding this issue, please allow me to define some terms which I believe will be helpful as we seek truth:
- Ecumenism: The principle or aim of promoting unity among the world's Christian churches.
- Syncretism: The amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, values, and or schools of thought.
- Synthesis: In philosophical terms it is the attempt to articulate a common theory or rationale for the practice and observance of several different practices or theories.
- Eclecticism: The action of forming ethical and moral standards by picking and choosing practices from various religions or religious concepts.
- Interfaith Alliance: A group of individuals or organizations with multiple and sometimes contrary religious beliefs and practices, who unify and avail themselves for cause.
- Liberalism: A political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality.
- Pluralism: a condition or system in which two or more states, groups, principles, sources of authority, etc., coexist.
- Evangelicalism: aka Evangelical Christianity, or Evangelical Protestantism [a] is a worldwide, transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity maintaining that the essence of the gospel consists in the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ's atonement.
- Catholicism: a Christian belief system, claiming to have arisen in direct succession from the Apostles, in which complete authority resides in a single person known as the Pope or "Vicar Of Christ" and one in which scripture and church tradition are on equal footing in establishing doctrine and practice.
- Allah: The Arabic translation of the title referring to God.
- Islam: An all encompassing monotheistic religious, social, political and moral belief system allegedly delivered to Prophet Muhammad by Gabriel the Arch Angel who was given the direct or express words of Allah in approximately 610 AD. The words of Allah are said to have been recited by Muhammad to his scribes while in a trance. the scribes, under Muhammad's direction then bound those words in a book called The Holy Quran. Every adherent to Islam is bound to adhere to the words of the Quran as they are considered the direct, infallible, and uncorrupted words of Allah. Islam as a religion is said to not have officially started until 1000 AD.
I will not go into detail on all of these terms, but I will apply or refer to certain terms as they pertain to this issue.
A Rose By Any Other Name
Dr. Hawkins is a board member of a interfaith alliance group known as ARISE Chicago. A humanitarian and liberal group ARISE says this about their work on their website:
"Drawing from sacred scriptures, Arise Chicago upholds the belief that every person is created in the image of God and therefore deserving of dignity and respect, including in the workplace. Arise Chicago was founded in 1991 by a diverse group of religious leaders who created a model to combat some of poverty’s root causes (workers being paid improperly, workers receiving less than a living wage, etc.) by bringing the moral voice to both non-union and union workplace struggles."
Please note that this group's foundation is one of eclecticism and their political views are steeped in liberalism. As a board member of the group, Dr. Hawkins' primary aim would be to preserve the mission and constituency of the group. I am making no value judgments in this, certainly non negative, I am simply attempting to provide context of Dr. Hawkins' position and asserting that Dr. Hawkins must certainly agree with the goals and aspirations of ARISE or she would not be a part of the group in a professional capacity.
This leads us to the heart of the issue. It seems that this group has taken the path of syncretism. I say that in part because the first word that I have drawn from their website above they say, "Drawing from sacred scriptures" ARISE does not solely restrict itself to the enlightenment of the Holy Bible. It is beholden to the best values associated with multiple and as stated a "diverse" set of religious beliefs.
It would also seem that this group recognizes the difference between the concepts of "God" as found in various religions, that it does not emphasize those differences. So as in most interfaith alliance groups, when the word or title of "God" is invoked, one automatically and internally turn to what "God" means to themselves individually. Because there is or would be no "doctrine" or teaching established or affirmed within the group as a focal point, or point of reference, there may be situations in which belief prevails that everyone has a common understanding or that everyone is talking about the same thing.
Once again, these instances are not exclusive to ARISE. Many of you have groups within your neighborhoods and communities which have the same or similar method of operation.
At this point, I do not wish to focus on ARISE or any of the work that it does or is doing. I simply set the stage because Dr. Hawkins found her support and certainly her affirmation within the group and I believe that was because of all the reasons I have expounded upon in this writing.
The REAL Issue...Do Christians And Muslims Worship The Same God?
I believe that there is only one issue that really got Dr. Hawkins in trouble with Wheaton College. I believe that issue was her statement that Christians and Muslims worship the "same" God.
First, Dr. Hawkins stood on the shoulders of the Roman Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis who had invoked the same thought only days earlier. The problem is that Wheaton College is not a Catholic or Roman Catholic institution. It is a liberal evangelical Christian organization. It is a protestant organization and as such does not receive its instruction nor has adopted the statement of faith of the Roman Catholic church. In other words, Wheaton College, like most evangelical Christian organizations wold not adhere to Papal declarations, nor would they view such declarations on an equivalent basis of scripture or Christian practice.
Dr. Hawkins however, appears to view all religions statements in and with an equivalency. In other words, the Pope's statements were just as valid or just as true as any that are given to the promotion of liberalism and equity and human unity in the world.
The question of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God is not new. On a Huffington Post blog author of 'Allah: A Christian Response' (HarperOne; February 2011), ULTRA LIBERAL Miroslav Volf, the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, and the Founding Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, states:
"The fact of the matter is this: fearful people bent on domination have created the contest for supremacy between Yahweh, the God of the Bible, and Allah, the God of the Quran. The two are one God, albeit differently understood. Arab Christians have for centuries worshiped God under the name "Allah."
At the press conference (below) Rev. Jessie Jackson even stated:
"...we are one people, serving one God from different angles and different approaches"
As you can see, liberal theologians assert that Allah and Yahweh are the SAME, however we (the people) understand him differently and approach him differently or in various manners.
I believe THIS was the basis and root of Dr. Hawkins' statement. The practice of her attire was not an issue. The affirmation of a truth proposition was. In fact this truth proposition, that All ah and Yahweh are the "SAME" is a proposition of vital importance to both Islam and Christianity and one that I could not simply overlook.
I have taken the issue up on my Facebook site "In Defense Of The Faith" with and extensive dialogue pointing out the flaws in liberal theological circles regarding this issue. I felt that the topic was vitally important enough to delineate here in no uncertain manner that Yahweh and Allah are NOT one in the same, neither are they the same God.
Islamic & Christian Roots
The first thing that anyone seeking truth must point out is that in order to get to the truth, one must check emotions at the door and realize that love has very little to do with "comfort" or social acceptance. I believe the effort to make it appear as if Allah and Yahweh are the same is rooted in humanistic ventures of politics, and efforts of religious syncretism, and eclecticism rather than examination of the scriptures themselves. It is an assumption that seeks to avoid argument or confrontation and an effort to make all religious belief compatible.
Most individuals point to the fact that Abraham is the father of both the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faith. This is an assumption that most if not all people make. This thought goes virtually unchallenged in modern eclectic circles. There is a kind of synthesis around the issue that seems to go along with an interfaith relationship and efforts of pluralism.
There are some problems however that can be centered around 2 basic principles:
I- Teaching & Interpretive Bias
I- Teaching & Interpretive Bias:
A- Within Islam, Biblical narratives are only affirmed in as much as they agree with the Quran. In other words, in the mind of a Muslim faithful to his/her faith, the Quran takes precedence over the Bible or over the Torah (Law Of Moses) when there are conflicts or information contrary to the Quran or Islamic teachings.
B- Islam teaches that the Bible is corrupt because it has endured translation which may or may not be correct, and claims that it has undergone altercations by scribes.
C- Similar to Christianity, Islam holds that all scriptures are infallible, given directly or expressly by God and are without error.
A- The message of salvation and the purpose of God in the Bible is different from the message of salvation and the purpose of God within the Quran. In fact in many places these messages conflict and or contradict one another.
B- Within the Quran salvation cannot be guaranteed, it can only be granted in light of Allah being "just" and upon the abundance of good works that one does. There is a high reward or more assurance given towards salvation for those who yield or give their life in sacrifice for Alla's purpose. This model seems to be based on the willing and proposed sacrifice of Ishmael to God by Abraham his father. (I will elaborate upon this further)
C- Isaac & Ishmael:
It seems that the heart of the way to identify if Allah and Yahweh are the same, is in the promise of succession of Abraham's seed. Judaism, Christianity & Islam agree on the following regarding this:
It seems that the heart of the way to identify if Allah and Yahweh are the same, is in the promise of succession of Abraham's seed. Judaism, Christianity & Islam agree on the following regarding this:
1- Abraham was called by God and is the father of faith.
2- Abraham had 2 sons, the older Ishmael and the younger Isaac.
3- Both Isaac and Ishmael were the "seed of Abraham".
Remember, in both the Quran, Torah and the Christian Bible, adherents believe that all words were inspired by God, without error, and that the content has been preserved by God and is true.
The Quran teaches that even though Ismael was the son of Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, that he was the promised son of Abraham. (Sura 37:100-104) The teaching is that Ishmael was the legitimate successor and seed of Abraham. Hadith (the equivalent to a clerics or official commentary on the Quran) 4:583 Abraham personally delivers delivers Ishmael and Hagar to Mecca and further that Isaac came about only AFTER Abraham was challenged by God to sacrifice Ishmael. Abraham delivers Ishmael and Hagar to Mecca, the place where Kaaba would eventually be built. To show how important this is, traveling to Mecca and worship at the Kaaba is one of the 5 Pillars Of Islam.
So it is clear that the narrative here is that Ishmael is delivered as the seed of Abraham and an essential if not necessary part of Islamic faith.
Within Christianity and Judaism, Isaac is the "seed of promise" :
This concept begins with God in which he promises Abraham that his seed would bless the earth. (Genesis 12:3, 6-7). After some time, Abraham felt as if there may have been a abbreviation or some sort of addition onto what God had promised him. He initially felt as if Eliezer, a long time servant, would be his heir because evidently Eliezer had been born while associated with the house of Abraham. (Gen 15:2-3). God however spoke and corrected Abraham's thoughts on the issue:
Genesis 15:4 ~ And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
The problem occurred in Genesis 16. Sarah, Abraham's wife, thought that since it was taking too long for this "child" to come, that they could be better served to look at Hagar, Sarah's handmaid, and offer her to Abraham so that he could father a child by her and that child would be the "seed" that God promised.
After some conflict between the women (as Hagar's opinion of Sarah changed after she conceived) an angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and told her to submit to Sarah for instruction and promised that her "seed" would be multiplied "exceedingly" so much that it would not be numbered. (Gen. 16:10). The angel of the Lord told her to name the child Ishmael because God had heard her affliction. (Gen. 16:11)
God again addresses Abraham regarding the promise of the greatness of his seed:
Genesis 17:7 ~ And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
After Abraham wrestles with God asking him to allow Ishmael to be the "promised seed" (Gen. 17:18) , God rejects Abraham's plan or request and specifically determines to make it known that it will be through Sarah's womb that the child of promise would come. Here is what the bible records:
Genesis 17:19- 22 ~ 19-And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
God addresses Abraham's concern for Ishmael promising that he will be great also:
20-And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
However, God reaffirms in no uncertain terms that the "covenant child" would be the child which would come through Sarah's womb.
21-But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
In Genesis 18, Abraham is visited by 3 individuals who stop to bless Sarah on their way to oversee the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, bless Sarah and rehearse the promise of God that the fruit of her womb would be the child of promise(Gen.18:10)
Scholars generally agree that at least one of these visitors was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. ie: a Theophany. From a theological standpoint this is telling. Here we have God, not only speaking to Abraham, but also to Sarah directly and expediently regarding the fruit of her womb and the significance of her son in the earth.
Genesis 21:9-20 deals with occurrences after Isaac was born. It seems that Ishmael mocked Isaac, similar to how Hagar had "despised" Sarah after she became pregnant with Abraham's child some years earlier. Due to this, Sarah was grieved and demanded that Hagar and her son leave.
This account says that Hagar and Ishmael dwelt in the "wilderness of Paran" (aka: Faran) Islamic scholars, and historiographers,claim that this region is more accurately named Al-Hijaz and is part of the region of Mecca. however, whether this is part of Mecca or not, the Biblical account does not infer in any way that Abraham either took Hagar and Ishmael to or established anything in Ishmael's name in the area or region. In fact the account is one where Abraham send Hagar and the child out with water and bread and from there God takes over. If Abraham did more than this, the Bible certainly does not record it.
All of this was of great concern to Abraham. God comforts Abraham regarding Hagar and Ishmael, demands that he humble himself to the wishes of Sarah, and says something that would continue to reverberate in the New Testament.
Genesis 21:21 ~ And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
God specifically tells Abraham not to worry either about the promise or the welfare of the individuals by stating that "in Isaac shall they seed be called". ie: That Abraham's seed or children of promise would be as a result of Isaac as opposed to Ishmael.
Was The Old Testament Account Accurate?
Remember, both Islamists and those who believe in the veracity of the Bible believe that the accounts contained within their records are 100% true, accurate and inspired by God. As stated earlier, Islam only agrees with Judaism and Christianity in as much as accounts of the latter agree with the Quran.
So how do we establish that the Old Testament account is true?
First, we recognize that the Quran is the newest writing. The Quran did not appear until well after events of the New Testament era and that is much further removed from the events of the Old Testament. While age of the account does not guarantee the veracity or accuracy of the account, this unique relationship cannot be overstated.
There are a few things that we can observe to find out if the accounts were accurate. I will point to one of them.
The New Testament & the views of the New Testament authors regarding the Old Testament.
The authors of the New Testament held that the Old Testament was delivered and inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16) Studies have shown that over one-third of the Old Testament is quoted within the gospels. At no point does any gospel author or apostolic writer correct, minimize or devalue any Old Testament scripture. Within the New Testament gospels, Jesus challenges all readers of the Old Testament to search the scriptures and further declares that all of them testify of him and who he is. (John 5:39) I have said this to establish that the New Testament authors have a high view of Old Testament scriptures and prophecies.
Surprisingly, New Testament authors deal specifically with the issue of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael, using the situation as a double entendre and as a contrast in order to make the point that the "seed of Promise" of Abraham is upon those who have received Jesus as savior and Lord.
Paul uses the issue examining the sovereign nature of God, referring specifically to Genesis 21:21 as cited above:
Romans 9:6- 9 ~ 6-Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7-Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8-That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. 9-For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.
Paul appears to take the view that being the "seed" of Abraham does not make one a "child" of Abraham. Paul's view is that only the seed of Abraham in Issac, are those called or set aside by God.
It seems that the long before the Quran was ever penned, or that Allah appeared to Muhammad, the NT authors gave no credence to any thought that Ishmael was equivalent in promise.
The writer of Hebrews also clarifies that it was certainly Isaac that was prepared to be offered as opposed to Ishmael, and further that Genesis 21:21 is authentic by stating the following:
Heb., 11:17-18 ~ 17-By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18-Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
The New Testament authors seem to address issues prior to there ever being an issue raised. In other words, New testament authors affirm the veracity of the Old Testament and by doing so, confirm the Old Testament accounts. Out of the 20 times that Issac is mentioned in the New Testament, 8 of the references are from the gospels themselves, and most of them refer to the succession of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The name Ishmael is mentioned some 48 times within the Bible, but is not mentioned at all in the New Testament. When Ishmael is referred to it is as a "son of the flesh" and not one in whom there is spiritual blessings.
Examining The Evidence
So far we have determined the following:
1- Jesus himself affirms the veracity of the Old Testament by demanding that all men search the scriptures for truth.
2- Though both the Bible and the Quran claim to be delivered by God however, there are stark differences in the most essential doctrines and teachings that cannot be reconciled. These differences are not simply "preferences" they are literal differences many of which cannot be overcome.
3- The New Testament verifies and affirms that the Torah contained certain facts which were not in dispute by the Christian church. Those facts are that Isaac was the "promised" seed of Abraham according to Gen. 21:21. In understanding this, we can confidently affirm that it was through Issac that the promise of God to bless the earth was and would be fulfilled, as opposed to Ishmael.
4- The New Testament affirms that it was Issac, not Ishmael who Abraham took up to sacrifice but whom God provided a ram.
5- New Testament authors affirm that the seed of Abraham through Issac is considered to be after the promise of God, while the seed of Abraham through Ishmael is figuratively associated with "the flesh" and further works of the flesh and unrighteousness.
6- The bible does not give Ishmael any significant role in its quest to outline how salvation has come into the world.
7- Neither the words of the Pope of doctrines of the Catholic church are positions of churches or protestant organizations such as Wheaton College. To assume that a protestant organization is bound by the declarations of a Catholic Pope is unreasonable.
Is Allah of the Quran and Yahweh of the Bible the SAME GOD?
Based upon an examination of the evidence we can strongly and confidently answer NO! To say that the God of the bible and the God of the Quran aka: Allah, are the same being, is an assertion which cannot be supported by evidence.
Are we (Muslims & Christians), as Jessie Jackson says, worshiping the same God, just using different approaches and methods?
Based upon the examination of the evidence, ABSOLUTELY NOT! In both books, "God" has outlined and made certain truth claims. Those claims and methods are not up for debate. Either one affirms Islam by denying Christianity, or affirms Christianity by denying alternate gods and methods of salvation which do not affirm Jesus as God.
If God cannot lie...which he can't...If God is not confused...which he is not...then we are compelled to believe what he has said and cling to it, as opposed to making up our own path of righteousness to follow.
God simply CANNOT say two things! One can be right, but both cannot!
In Islam, Allah has spoken one set of alleged truths that are not based upon opinions. It either is or it is not. Further, Muhammad claims that Allah, cannot lie. Yet Allah has delivered whole truths totally contrary and even at odds with basic tenets of truth that we find delivered by Yahweh within the Torah and within the Bible.
Other Alleged Truths Outlined By Allah In The Quran:
~ Jesus is not God, he is only a man
~ Jesus did not die upon the cross. The Quran teaches that Judas was crucified.
~ Jesus was not resurrected
~ Jesus will return and judge all non-Muslims and deliver all people to the Mahdi
~ those who believe in Jesus as savior are called infidels and are worthy of death
~ God does not deliver a method to overcome sin
~ Salvation is based upon works and is unstable. Muhammad himself when asked about his own salvation could only respond, "Only God Knows"
Just to clarify this further, the scripture is clear on what this is and what the Muslims believe:
1 John 2:22-23 ~ 22-Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23-Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also
Islam denies that Jesus is the Christ, or the Messiah. In doing so, GOD declares that those who hold such views do not have the Father. If they do not have the father because of their denial of Jesus as the Christ, and if they are liars in their assertions of these spiritual truths, and the Quran, delivered by Allah affirms their beliefs, then ALLAH CANNOT POSSIBLY be the same God as outlined in the Bible. For God DOES NOT lie!
As far as the other aspects of Dr. Hawkins' struggle, as I have stated, I am uncertain of the motives of her employer. However, I can firmly and assuredly say that there is no Christian, that is solid and knowledgeable of their faith that would attempt to de-legitimize the God of the Bible by confusing him with Allah of the Quran. That is not Christianity. That is social LIBERALISM!
America is the place of freedom and everyone is certainly free to believe what they wish. Muslims are not to be condemned by Christians for believing in error. However, they are not to simply be placated as if they are believing the truth either. We are commanded by God to walk honestly before all men.
Can we work together on community projects? CERTAINLY and we should continue to fight for justice and righteousness. Do we have to agree on doctrine to undertake community work? NO, but it certainly helps to have a congruent moral base and set of unchangeable principles and truths from which to work.
Hopefully this helps illuminate the real issues of concern of Dr. Hawkins' statements and allows individuals who want to know, much more information from which to examine this case.
FULL VIDEO OF DR. HAWKINS & ARISE CHICAGO PRESS CONFERENCE: