If Bill Smith thinks Michelle Higgins’ endorsement of Black Lives Matter at Urbana won’t end well for the PCA, imagine what will happen when the BLM folks figure out that a black professor may be about to lose her job at a white-dominated college. An African-American tenured professor!!!! HELLO! And students at Princeton think they need to be worried about “safe” spaces.
And if that happens, it is really too bad. I was almost persuaded by Dr. Hawkins’ theological explanation of her remarks. I am convinced that she is trying in thoughtful ways to maintain the College’s standards. When she said, “I understand that Islam (and Judaism) denies the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and leaves no room for the Cross and the Resurrection,” I was encouraged. She seemed to be ready to recognize the particularity of Christianity and the uniqueness of Christ.
But then she added, “my statement is not a statement on soteriology or trinitarian theology, but one of embodied piety. When I say that ‘we worship the same God,’ I am saying what Stackhouse points out, namely that ‘when pious Muslims pray, they are addressing the One True God, and that God is, simply, God.'”
Well, what about a piety that embodies soteriology or the Trinity? How can you have a Christian devotion that only embodies the first article of the Nicene Creed?
Hawkins continued by trying to justify her remarks on the basis of the doctrine of creation: “it is on the basis of our very statement of faith that ‘We believe that God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race; and that they were created in His own image, distinct from all other living creatures, and in a state of original righteousness,’ that I am compelled to address all human beings as my ‘brothers and sisters.'”
For nine years I have signed a statement of faith which avers that all human beings originate from the same parents and bear the unalterable imago Dei – though no specific reference is made in the statement as to the process of that historic, original creation. Yes, when we Christians speak of our unity in and as the body of Christ, of course our unity stems from our identification with Christ. But my statement is not a statement of ecclesiology or baptismal regeneration or identification with Christ. It is simply and clearly a statement on the imago Dei, and a reflection of my African-American cultural heritage. It should not be misconstrued as anything different.
So, yes, when I call “fellow humans who happen to be Muslims [or Jews or atheists] my brothers and sisters” I am standing in full agreement with the Wheaton College statement of faith, identifying each person as an image-bearer of God.
Why can’t the distinction between creation and redemption (think 2k) supply the way out here? Why can’t Hawkins recognize the unity of the human race in the ex nihilo creation of the world by the only living and true God? Why isn’t that enough to affirm the worth of Muslims? Why not even appeal to the status of Muslims as citizens of the United States?
But as is so often the case with those who don’t distinguish between the temporal and eternal, the affirmations of unity based on creational norms lose momentum for accomplishing something truly noteworthy. Hawkins wants to seem to say this unity with Muslims goes somewhere special, so the sphere of redemption comes to the rescue. But that is precisely the area — in Christ — where Christian unity excludes Muslims. The former worship on Sunday in a church. The latter on Friday in a mosque.
Why can’t they simply get along on all the other days? Hawkins is right to resist letting redemption separate Muslims and Christians in creation. What she doesn’t seem to recognize is that the unity of creation can’t make up for the antithesis that Christ introduced:
34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matt 10)
No matter what Black Lives Matter finds out about Hawkins, Christ’s words don’t encourage me to think this will end well.