WHEATON, Ill. — The faculty council at Wheaton College has unanimously agreed to ask administrators to withdraw its decision to begin proceedings to fire a controversial associate political science director who was placed on leave after she declared in a self-initiated campaign to fight “Islamophobia” that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
“Following recent discussions between faculty council, President Ryken and Provost Jones, Faculty Council unanimously recommended to administration that the administrative leave and the notification of termination ‘for cause’ of Dr. Larycia Hawkins be withdrawn due to grave concerns about the process,” Lynn Cohick, New Testament professor and chair of the council, wrote in an email to faculty.
As previously reported, Hawkins, a professing Christian, posted to Facebook two photos of herself wearing a hijab last month, and stated in a lengthy explanation that she planned to wear it everywhere during the Advent—including at the Christian college and to church. She outlined in her reasons for solidarity that she believes that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” Hawkins asserted. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”
In light of controversy over the matter, especially Hawkins’ “same God” assertion, the professor was placed on paid administrative leave by university officials while a review would be conducted.
“Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion, and theological clarity,” the college said in a statement. “As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”
Wheaton officials acknowledged late last month that talks had come to a standstill as Hawkins refused to continue discussions with members of administration about her “same God” beliefs following initial meetings. They soon issued Hawkins a “Notice of Recommendation to Initiate Termination-for-Cause Proceedings.”
A meeting was scheduled to be held with faculty Thursday afternoon, which included questions such as, “Does the college have a position on what can or cannot be said regarding the question: ‘Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?’” and “What is the process for determining acceptable interpretations of the Statement of Faith?”
Wheaton psychology professor Michael Mangis expressed disapproval of the outcome of the meeting.
“There was a lot of frustration,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “It was really us listening to them and their statements of how they hoped that their relationships and trust could be restored. But they didn’t choose to follow the faculty council’s admonition to reverse their decision.”
Wheaton released a statement on Thursday acknowledging the Faculty Council’s request, but noted that the proceedings will move forward.
“President Ryken and the Faculty Council have discussed a review of current policies and processes, with a view to addressing or clarifying areas of concern,” the statement said. “However, Dr. Ryken has also asked Faculty Council to understand that the Faculty Personnel Committee hearing is the method through which the particulars of Dr. Hawkins’ personnel matter will be addressed.”
A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 11.
“No, the God of Islam is not the same as the God of Christianity,” writes Matt Slick of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM). “In Christianity God is a Trinity, but in Islam God is not a Trinity. It is not possible to have God be a Trinity and also not a Trinity at the same time.”
“Also, in Islam Jesus is not God in flesh (Surah 4:172, 5:73, 9:30) where in Christianity He is (John 1:1, 14, Col. 2:9),” he explains. “Islam says that the Helper (paraclete in Greek) is Muhammed where the Bible says that the Helper is the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). So, the God of Islam and the God of Christianity are not the same.”