Response to Wheaton’s Decision to Fire Dr. Larycia Hawkins for Saying Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God.
January 10, 2016
I want to thank Dr. Larycia Hawkins for her courageous stance in solidarity with those she described as her “Muslims sisters.” It is sad that Wheaton College took the actions that it did against her beautiful act of support and solace. But, it is not burning her at the stake as a witch. So we are making progress. I do feel, however, as president of a religious liberal arts college similar to Wheaton, but devoted to Islam instead of Christianity, that it is important that we not demonize the college either. Religious colleges are under threat in the United States due to a very dangerous type of conformity called “political correctness.” While bigotry, when clearly bigotry, should always be attacked and identified as ignorance or worse stupidity, we live in a country founded on two of the most important freedoms we have: speech and religion. And sometimes, one person’s bigotry is another person’s religious devotion. People must feel free to worship and teach their faith as they see fit, and our colleges should be protected in their approaches to doing so. Wheaton College is an important institution, and this is an unfortunate blemish on its record given its inquisitorial feel, but it is a learning process they are going through navigating new waters, and we should pray for them to do the right thing. Jews and Muslims worship the same God, and thus if the God of the Jewish man, Jesus, who quotes the Old Testament many times, is not the God of Wheaton, then indeed, we have different gods. But, if the God of Abraham that spoke to Moses is the God of Wheaton, then despite their displeasure, we do have the same God. Indeed, while we have different understandings, we are all talking about the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the God of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus (as a created man, given the Baptist belief of his dual nature since they are not Monophysites), and finally, Muhammad, peace be upon all of them.
In the chapter entitled “Christianity and Mohammedanism, the Daughter-Religions of Judaism” in his book Jewish Theology, Dr. Kaufmann Kohler, who was president of Hebrew Union College, wrote the following:
“It shall come to pass on that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea…. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall the Lord be One, and His name one.” These prophetic words of Zechariah may be applied to the two great world-religions which emanated from Judaism and won fully half of the human race, as it exists at present, for the God of Abraham. Though they have incorporated many non-Jewish elements in their systems, they have spread the fundamental truths of the Jewish faith and Jewish ethics to every part of the earth. Christianity in the West and Islam in the East have aided in leading mankind ever nearer to the pure monotheistic truth. Consciously or unconsciously, both found their guiding motive in the Messianic hope of the prophets of Israel and based their moral systems on the ethics of the Hebrew Scriptures. The leading spirits of Judaism recognized this, declaring both the Christian and Mohammedan religions to be agencies of Divine Providence, intrusted with the historical mission of coöperating in the building up of the Messianic Kingdom, thus preparing for the ultimate triumph of pure monotheism in the hearts and lives of all men and nations of the world. These views, voiced by Jehuda ha Levi, Maimonides, and Nahmanides, were reiterated by many enlightened rabbis of later times. These point out that both the Christian and Mohammedan nations believe in the same God and His revelation to man, in the unity of the human race, and in the future life; that they have spread the knowledge of God by a sacred literature based upon our Scripture; that they have retained the divine commandments essentially as they are phrased in our Decalogue; and have practically taught men to fulfill the Noahitic laws of humanity. On account of the last fact the medieval Jewish authorities considered Christians to be half-proselytes, while the Mohammedans, being pure monotheists, were always still closer to Judaism. (Kaufmann Kohler, Jewish Theology: Systematically and Historically Considered, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1918, 426–427.)
Zech. XIV, 8–9.
Cuzari, IV, 23; Maim.: H. Melakim XI, 41; Responsa, 58; Nahmanides: Derashah, ed. Jellinek, 5; see Rashi and Tosafot to Ab. Z. 2a, 57b; Sanh. 63b.
Solomon ben Adret: Responsa, 302; Yore Deah CXLVIII, 12; Jacob Emden, Comm. to Abot. V, 17; comp. Chwolson: D. Blutanklage, 64–79.
Isaac ben Sheshet’s Responsa, 119.
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