Wheaton, Allah and Tests of Orthodoxy

A major controversy in recent days has centred on the words and actions of Wheaton professor, Larycia Hawkins. First she announced she would wear a hijab during advent and then made a statement about Muslims and Christians believing in the same God, that Allah and God are the same.

It was this second point that led to Hawkins being suspended. Wheaton, desiring to stay true to their doctrinal positions, felt that such a statement was crossing the line.

My question is, does the identification of Allah and the Christian God warrant such action?

There are doctrines that I believe cannot be crossed. If she had denied the incarnation, the atonement or the resurrection of Jesus, strong steps should be taken. But what about God and Allah?

There are devout and intelligent Christians who believe that they are the same. This does not mean that these Christians consider Islam as a religion that saves. Rather they believe in God but are missing the needed piece for a relationship with him, that is faith in Jesus.

Where is the line where one goes from false beliefs about the true God to belief in a false god?

With all of the different Christian traditions, most of us have some false ideas about God. Augustus Toplady, in speaking of Arminians, said this: “Is their god the Bible-God? Certainly not.” I’m sure there have been Arminians who have said similar things about the Calvinist understanding of God.

An example I give is that of Barack Obama. Some people are convinced that Obama is a Muslim who was born outside the United States. Others think he is a Christian who was born in the United States. Are people talking about two different Barack Obamas or does one group have incorrect beliefs about the real Barack Obama?

I’m not trying to argue that Muslims and Christians do believe in the same God. What I’m trying to do is to suggest that such an idea could be reasonable and be within orthodox Christian beliefs. Hawkins may indeed be wrong in her statement but I’m not convinced that it warrants her suspension.

What about the other Christian professors, pastors and missionaries who see Muslims as having wrong ideas about the true God? Should each of these lose their positions as well?

I would recommend that you read this excellent post by John Stackhouse. Also, if you are open to being stretched, I would recommend you read Miroslav Volf’s Allah. You may not agree with everything he says but the book is thought provoking.

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