Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Professor Hawkins Controversy: On Why Wheaton College Has No Business Telling Muslims What They Believe

Written by David Fitch
on January 12, 2016

It’s always dangerous to comment (or make judgments) on conflicts internal to a particular community. You don’t have inside information. You have no access to the relational dynamics internal to the matter. So much of what is going on has little or nothing to do with what is actually being said publically. This is why I prefer to not speak as an outsider on who’s wrong or right in the Wheaton College conflict over the suspension and potential firing of Prof. Larycia Hawkins. Instead I’d like to comment on two specific parts of the controversy: the wearing of a hijab by a Christian, and the statement “Christians and Muslims worship the same God” which professor Hawkins declared on FB. And then I’d like to make a general recommendation to Wheaton as an alumnus of that esteemed institution.

On wearing a hijab, I believe this reflects a posture of being “with” those among us who are under duress, even persecution, for their beliefs and identity. And I believe this is a commitment to which all Christians are called. Be with, inhabit the space, of the other. Be present. Connect. Before you say anything, before you assume anything, before you presume anything, go and identify with the other person. It is only from this place of presence that the gospel can be proclaimed.

Call it missiology 101. It runs deep in texts like Luke ch. 10 or Matt 25. It is one of the central meanings of the incarnation itself. And so I think this is so foundational to the Christian life that we should all be able to affirm this, teach this and be this. To my knowledge, I don’t think Wheaton had any problem with prof. Hawkins wearing a hijab and I applaud her for wearing the hijab in solidarity with her Muslim sisters. I think all institutions self-identifying as Christian, including Wheaton College, should affirm this.

On saying “Muslims and Christians worship the same God,” I believe there are ways to say Muslims and Christians do refer to the same God. We all know those arguments. But there is also a grammar to the way Christians worship God, that is different than the way Muslims worship God. I understand the missiological posture of looking for places where the two faiths can meet and dialogue. So this statement seems at first glance to be a grace filled attempt to engage. But I contend there are issues with the posture of a Christian, and or Christian institution, that make a public statement like “Christians and Muslims worship the same God” an unhelpful posture for mission. I argue it is bad for three reasons.

1.)  It is Presumptive.

Read more at http://www.missioalliance.org/professor-hawkins-controversy-wheaton-college-no-business-telling-muslims-believe/?utm_content=buffer37819&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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