Wheaton Offers Scholarship Named for Former Professor Who Said Muslims, Christians Worship Same God

A new scholarship now being offered at a prominent evangelical college named after a former professor who infamously claimed that Christians and Muslims worship the same God is confusing some while being celebrated by others.

The Wheaton Record reported on April 5 that a scholarship in the name of former political science professor Larycia Hawkins was announced last month.

Wheaton College political science professor Larycia Hawkins posing in a hijab in a photo that was posted to Facebook on Dec. 10, 2015. | (Photo: Facebook/Larycia Hawkins)

The scholarship will be up to $1,000 and was created as part of a Feb. 2016 settlement with Hawkins, the first African American female to receive tenure at the school. Hawkins left Wheaton that month amid international controversy over a Dec. 2015 Facebook post in which she published a photo of herself wearing a hijab in solidarity with Muslims who had been antagonized following terror attacks at the time, and claimed that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. She was summarily put on administrative leave due to the “theological implications” behind those comments.

The Wheaton board of trustees admitted later that year that the school had made an “error in judgement” in handling the situation; a task force issued a report in October concluding that they could not decisively say whether or not Hawkins’ theological views aligned with the school’s doctrinal statement of faith.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISIAN POST 

This is not a trick question: Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

c3e32104069f16b6b2cc2688cbfdad88THE QUESTION:

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

This topic hit the news February 4 when Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayebb of Egypt’s influential Al-Azhar University issued a joint declaration “in the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity.” Did Francis, who was making history’s first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, thereby mean to say that the Christian God is the Muslim God?

Yes, he did, if properly understood, and this was no innovation on his part.

In 1965, Pope Paul VI and the world’s Catholic bishops at the Second Vatican Council approved Nostra Aetate, the declaration on relations with non-Christian religions. The decree’s denunciation of calumny against Jews gets most of the attention, but it also proclaimed this:

“The church also regards with esteem the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in himself, merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,” although “they do not acknowledge Jesus as God” and regard him as only a prophet. The subsequent Catechism of the Catholic Church likewise defines the belief that “together with us [Muslims] adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM GETRELIGION.ORG

Strangely Familiar

22249363465_1b3eec5fee_o‘God in the Qur’an’

In his 1966 book The Gates of the Forest, Elie Wiesel relates the Hasidic tale of the long line of rabbis who performed a miraculous ritual, averting catastrophe for their communities in times of crisis. They would go into the forest to meditate, light a fire, and recite a special prayer. They did so in imitation of the eighteenth-century master of all Hasidim, Israel ben Eliezer, usually known by the honorific title “the Baal Shem Tov,” the master of the Holy Name. The generations of rabbis who succeeded the Baal Shem Tov, Wiesel recounts, gradually forgot parts of the ritual. The fourth in that forgetful lineage, Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn, spoke plaintively to God of his predicament: “I am unable to light the fire and I do not know the prayer; I cannot even find the place in the forest. All I can do is to tell the story, and this must be sufficient.” And indeed, telling the story was sufficient to avert the catastrophe. Why? The Hasidic tale ends with a great tribute both to God and to humankind: “God made man because he loves stories.”

God made Jack Miles because God also loves someone who loves stories. In his 1996 Pulitzer-prizewinning God: A Biography, Miles approached the Hebrew Bible as one might approach a body of literary work produced by Yahweh-Elohim, the Lord God; in a follow-up 2001 book, Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God, he undertook the same task with the New Testament, focusing in particular on the four Gospels. Holder of a Harvard doctorate in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Miles left the Society of Jesus before undertaking formal theological studies; yet his Jesuit education, tracing back to his days in a Jesuit high school in Chicago, equipped him to  comprehend multiple languages and their literatures: English, Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, and Spanish; but also Hebrew, Aramaic and, last but not least, Ethiopic (Ge’ez), the ancient Semitic language of the Horn of Africa. He has enjoyed a long career as a Distinguished Professor of both English and Religious Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

Miles admits that he does not know Arabic very well, but his background in other Semitic languages and his careful comparative study of various English and other renderings of the Qur’an allows him to read it with notable sensitivity. Most of the stories told at some length in the Qur’an that have biblical resonances find their parallels in the Torah, especially Genesis and Exodus. Thus do Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, the family of Abraham, the patriarch Joseph, and Moses appear on stage again to play their parts in the Qur’an.

FULL ARTICLE FROM COMMONWEAL MAGAZINE 

Illuminating Islam’s Peaceful Origins

 

GOD IN THE QUR’AN

By Jack Miles
241 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $26.95.

MUHAMMAD
Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires
By Juan Cole
326 pp. Nation Books. $28.

Is Allah, the God of Muslims, a different deity from the one worshiped by Jews and Christians? Is he even perhaps a strange “moon god,” a relic from Arab paganism, as some anti-Islamic polemicists have argued?

What about Allah’s apostle, Muhammad? Was he a militant prophet who imposed his new religion by the sword, leaving a bellicose legacy that still drives today’s Muslim terrorists?

Two new books may help answer such questions, and also give a deeper understanding of Islam’s theology and history.

Jack Miles, a professor of religion at the University of California and the author of the Pulitzer-winning book “God: A Biography,” has written “God in the Qur’an.” It is a highly readable, unbiasedly comparative and elegantly insightful study of the Quran, in which he sets out to show that the three great monotheistic religions do indeed believe in the same deity — although they have “different emphases” when it comes to this God, which accounts for their divergent theologies.

To begin with, one should not doubt that Allah is Yahweh, the God of the Bible, because that is what he himself says. The Quran’s “divine speaker,” Miles writes, “does identify himself as the God whom Jews and Christians worship and the author of their Scriptures.” That is also why Allah reiterates, often with much less detail, many of the same stories we read in the Bible about Yahweh and his interventions in human history. The little nuances between these stories, however, are distinctions with major implications.

FULL REVIEW FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

New Documentary on Wheaton College’s ‘Same God’ Controversy to Be Shown at LA Film Festival

same-god-movie-posterA new documentary focusing on the departure of professor Larycia Hawkins from Wheaton College after she declared on Facebook that Christians and Muslims worship the same God will be screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival later this month.

The film, “Same God,” will be shown as part of the festival’s competition lineup on Sept. 24, and will focus on the political science professor’s experience with the Illinois-based evangelical higher education institution after she took to Facebook in December 2015 to declare that she was going to wear a hijab during advent.

But it wasn’t Hawkins’ vow to wear a hijab that drew the ire of Wheaton administrators. Her assertion in her Facebook post that Christians and Muslims worship the same God that led administrators to question if she had violated the school’s statement of faith.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN POST 

Chicago-area faith leaders weigh in on ‘worship the same God’ Facebook controversy

ct-ctl-ct-ecn-a-leaders-20180201Do Christians, Jews and Muslims worship the same God?

That question became the center of a Facebook-fueled controversy after Elgin-area U46 School Board member Jeanette Ward commented on social media when her daughter’s 6th-grade language arts class was assigned to read, “Despite differences, Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God.”

Ward called the article, written by Philip Almond, emeritus professor in the History of Religious Thought at the University of Queensland in Australia, “utterly incorrect and false on many levels.”

Local faith leaders have a variety of views on the matter, as well as concern with how discourse on the topic was conducted.

Agreeing with Daubert’s point were Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein of Congregation Kneseth Israel, Haroon Qureshi of the Islamic Center of Kane County and Pastor Katie Shaw Thompson of the Highland Church of the Brethren, who recently met with the Courier-News to talk about the question and the aftermath of the assignment.

Allah, the name used by Muslims for God, and El, one of the names for God in the Jewish faith, are similar in sound, have the same root and refer to the same entity, Klein and Qureshi said.

As but one commonality, Qureshi said that his faith’s word for God is Allah, while Klein noted El is one of the names used for God in the Jewish faith.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE 

I Want ‘Allahu Akbar’ Back

01wajWeb-master768Allahu akbar. It’s Arabic for “God is greatest.” Muslims, an eccentric tribe with over a billion members, say it several times in our five daily prayers. The phrase is also a convenient way to express just the right kind of gratitude in any situation.

I say “Allahu akbar” out loud more than 100 times a day. Yesterday, I uttered it several times during my late-evening Isha prayer. Earlier, during dinner, I said it with my mouth full after biting into my succulent halal chicken kebab. In the afternoon, I dropped it in a conference room at the State Department, where I’d been invited to address a packed room of government employees about the power of storytelling. Specifically, I expressed my continuing gratitude for the election of Barack Obama, whom, in a joking nod to the Islamophobic paranoia that surrounded him, I called “our first Muslim American president,” adding “Allahu akbar!”

People in the crowd laughed and applauded, the world continued to spin, no one had an aneurysm, and only a few people seemed to wonder with arched, Sarah Sanders-like eyebrows, “Wait, is he …?” I even confess to saying “Allahu akbar” two days ago in a restroom after losing the battle, but ultimately winning the war, against a nasty stomach virus.

I’m 37 years old. In all those years, I, like an overwhelming majority of Muslims, have never uttered “Allahu akbar” before or after committing a violent act. Unfortunately, terrorists like ISIS and Al Qaeda and their sympathizers, who represent a tiny fraction of Muslims, have. In the public imagination, this has given the phrase meaning that’s impossible to square with what it represents in my daily life.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES