If Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God, Can't the Forgiven and Unforgiven Too?

The latest from Wheaton College is that Larycia Hawkins and the College have agreed to part ways. In the leaks that led to this apparently amicable determination was an email from Wheaton’s provost, Stan Jones, who apologized for his handling of the incident. According to Alan Jacobs, Jones wrote:

I asked Dr. Hawkins for her forgiveness for the ways I contributed to the fracture of our relationship, and to the fracture of Dr. Hawkins’ relationship with the College…. I apologized for my lack of wisdom and collegiality as I initially approached Dr. Hawkins, and for imposing an administrative leave more precipitously than was necessary.

But according to some of Jones’ critics, this apology doesn’t go far enough, as Jacobs explains, “because it does not acknowledge Wheaton’s history (and present) of structural racism and sexism.”

Jacobs then asks:

What if, when a brother in Christ apologizes and asks for forgiveness, one were to grant that forgiveness — instead of immediately criticizing him for not having provided a fully adequate account of the reasons he went astray?

I’d follow up with another question: doesn’t the spirit of Dr. Hawkins’ show of solidarity with Muslims provide an analogy for how Jones’ critics might reach out to Wheaton’s provost? I mean, if you can overcome the division between Islam and Christianity by donning a hijab during Advent, can’t you go without a latte for the month of February to show solidarity with Wheaton’s administration?

Jacobs concludes:

So to those who say that Provost Jones’ apology is inadequate, my answer would be: of course it is inadequate. Every act of penitence, including yours and mine, is inadequate.

That could also be instructive for those who think Purgatory is going to take care of residual human guilt. Once humans sin — think one little bite of a piece of fruit — can you ever go back to being acceptable inherently?

No hope without alien righteousness.


34 thoughts on “If Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God, Can't the Forgiven and Unforgiven Too?

  1. Great post. If we must we can always dig, dig, dig for the lowest tip of the root of our brother’s sin but we will only find Adam. How many bodies do I have to dig up before my repentance is valid? I hope one body raised – the last Adam – is enough to cover it.


  2. II Corinthians 7:10 “For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.”

    Our repentance is not only inadequate but also sinful. I am thinking not only of the repentance which is only about moral change. Even repentance from the false gospel of Islam is inadequate and sinful.
    John 16:8 And when the Holy Spirit is come, he will convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on Me. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see Me no more. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

    The Holy Spirit convicts God’s elect “Of sin, because they believe not on Me.” The Holy Spirit convinces sinners that everything before faith in the true gospel, everything before hearing and believing the true Gospel, is sinful . Moral change without the gospel is dead works, fruit UNTO DEATH .

    God the Holy Spirit convinces God’s elect “Of righteousness, because I go to my Father.” Christ’s righteous act of obedience alone entitles those God justifies to all of the blessings of salvation.

    “Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” In Gospel repentance in that the Holy Spirit puts within every believer a new standard of judgment. Those who submit themselves to the righteousness revealed in the gospel know that their repentance is not that righteousness. In terms of God’s commandments, we sinners are still all sinners.

    Martin Luther—“To say that works without Christ are dead, but not mortal, appears to constitute a perilous surrender of the fear of God. Indeed, it is very difficult to see how a work can be dead and at the same time not a harmful and mortal sin.”


  3. To the SJW, an apology is a confession of guilt that proves that your accusations were justified. This is repeated on a weekly basis somewhere, and it is time for people to learn this.

    And why was he publicly apologizing for a personal offense? Does Hawkins need to apologize, too? Of course not. She was the one that was oppressed, as his public apology makes clear. It’s better to think in Marxist-Leninist terms when trying to understand the SJW. In their minds, she’s an oppressed minority that can only do right, and he’s from the oppressor class that can’t do anything right.


  4. If you want to ask how Hawkins’ bridging the gap should extend to accepting Jones’ apology, shouldn’t the answer be both “yes” and “no”? After all, this is what Hawkins wrote regarding whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God:

    I am guided by evangelical theologians like Timothy George, John Stackhouse, Scot McKnight, and Miroslav Volf, as well as the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic tradition, as expressed in both encyclical form (e.g. Nostra Aetate 3.1) and Pontifical writings (e.g. John Paul II, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope”). Like them I acknowledge that the statement “we worship the same God” is a simultaneous “yes” and “no” to the question of whether Christians and Muslims (as well as Jews) turn to the same object of worship, namely, the “God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”

    The above quote comes from her statement at http://www.christianpost.com/news/wheaton-college-larycia-hawkins-theological-statement-muslims-christians-worship-same-god-controversy-154375/

    So in one sense, Hawkins has bridged a gap between Muslims and Christians but not in another. So should bridging the gap between her and Jones be the same? Considering our need for an alien righteousness and how we should mirror how God has treated us to others, there can only be forgiveness. But just as the presence of forgiveness does not imply that we no longer have sins to work on, so it is true with Wheaton’s structural problems with racism and sexism as stated above.

    The real issue regarding Hawkins’ statements about Christians and Muslims worshiping and not worshiping the same God and being and not being brothers and sisters is whether there are multiple contexts in which these questions can be asked. Romans 11 gives two contexts that determines the relationship between Christians and Jews. In terms of the Gospel and evangelism, Paul stated that the Jews were enemies of Christians. However, in terms of election, they are loved by the Father.


  5. Curt, what does Wheaton’s racism and sexism have to do with the relationship between Christianity and Islam? What, Charles Blanshard was calling for the Crusades?

    For Hawkins the issue was Muslims and Christians (and no mention of the Nation of Islam). For Hawkins’ fans, the issue blossoms to sexism and racism. As if Islam is on record in favor of women’s rights?

    Social justice is the opiate of the self-righteous masses.


  6. I’ve read several evangelicals chime in on this now by citing the experience of several Muslim converts who say that they did not believe they were worshipping a different God after they converted. The problem to me is that yes, conceptually you may not have gone through the process of making new categories for deity, but nonetheless, you are worshipping a different god if you don’t worship Jesus. When someone goes from being an pelagian to a Calvinist their God actually is quite different but it’s not like you have the mental wherewithal to make a new category, like fruit is one category and meat is one category, the true God is definitely a category unto Himself, but our brain doesn’t necessarily need to assign one. Some people would do well though to realize that they have been worshipping a god (a derivative or something on par/within the created realm) and God, the source of all being. This confusion may create category distinctions for sure, but only after a person realizes that what they thought was God was god.


  7. Curt: Hawkins: the “God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”
    Curt: context
    DG: option: stingy brotherly forgiveness?

    In the context (of Eph 6:4),Paul is talking about the church. He means that God is the Father of all believers. He is over them in a personal sense as their Sovereign Lord. He is through all believers in the sense of working through them. He is in all in the sense of personally indwelling us. We are His dwelling place in the Spirit (Eph. 2:22; see, John 14:23).

    Paul’s fourfold use of “all” emphasizes the common unity that we share with all true believers.
    If God is the Father of all believers, we are brothers and sisters. If He is over all, then we all submit to Him as our Sovereign Lord. We hold His Word as the authority for faith and practice. If He is through all, I must trust that He is working through my brothers and sisters, as well as through me. I am not His only servant; He has many others. If He is in all, then I must respect my brother or sister’s experience with God and I must see God in them. When I serve them, I am serving Him. When I love them, I am loving Him. (S. Cole sermon extract)

    DG: option ? : stingy brotherly forgiveness?

    and: No hope without alien righteousness.


  8. I tend to agree with Jones’ critics here. Jones’ primary sin here is that he willingly perpetuated the structural sexism and racism that has long plagued evangelicalism. His apology means nothing if he fails to apologize for the sin hr actually committed. After all, his mishandling of certain issues was entirely consistent with certain institutionalized sins of the college. Moreover, what did this apology cost Jones? Nothing. He still has his job, and white male patriarchalists remain at the helm at Wheaton. Any apology that left the clownish duo of Ryken and Jones in their jobs is insufficient. It’s time for those two to take their metaphorical white robes and pointy hats somewhere else.


  9. Bobby,

    Jones’ primary sin here is that he willingly perpetuated the structural sexism and racism that has long plagued evangelicalism.

    Are you saying that if it was a white male tenured professor who decided to show His “solidarity with Muslims” publicly in some analogous way (how about praying toward Mecca on campus five times a day) or some other such thing, they would have done nothing? Why does everything have to be about “structural sexism and racism”?

    Maybe it’s just that the professor in question is really a loon but she nicely fuels the narrative that white conservative Protestants are inherently evil and to be blamed for all of the ills of society.


  10. Matt, I sure wish the Muslim affirmers would at least reckon with Paul — you know, the Bible?

    14 Do not be [j]bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with [k]Belial, or [l]what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; (2 Cor 6)


  11. Bobby, “he willingly perpetuated the structural sexism and racism that has long plagued evangelicalism.”

    Hello. Hawkins forgave Islam for its structural sexism — ahem — and racism. So why can’t you forgive Jones?

    Or is moisturizer preventing you from seeing the problem?


  12. Evangelicals and Roman Catholics together?

    The president of Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland on Monday fired two faculty members without any faculty review of his action or advance notice. One was a tenured professor who had recently criticized some of the president’s policies. The other was the adviser to the student newspaper that revealed the president recently told faculty members concerned about his retention plans that they needed to change the way they view struggling students. “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads,” the president said.

    Many believe a third faculty member may also be fired, as he also has criticized the president’s policies. Administrators were seen trying to find that faculty member today for an urgent meeting, which is how the two who were fired were dismissed. It is unclear whether they were able to locate the third faculty member.

    Monday’s firings follow the dismissal on Friday of Provost David Rehm, who also raised questions about President Simon Newman’s retention plans. (Rehm held on to his faculty position.)

    Newman’s letter firing the tenured professor — Thane M. Naberhaus of the philosophy department — accused him of disloyalty.


  13. I like how “structural racism” and “NOT NICE!” are now excuses for heresy and/or aberrant practice, as in the Michelle Higgins allayall-should-support-BLM case. As always the Trinity is hardest hit.


  14. Just going out on a limb, but I doubt Timothy George cared much for having his name attached to Comrade Hawkin’s jihad.


  15. D.G.,
    Don’t you mean what does racism and sexism have to do with Wheaton College and its actions toward a Black, female professor because of her expressions of solidarity with Muslims?


  16. Ali,
    But the relationship between God and people cannot be reduced to what is said in Ephesians 6:4 or the other Scriptures you mentioned. The same can be said of Christiians’ relationship to Jews about which Paul described in Romans 11.

    And because the relationship between God and people cannot be reduced to one context, the challenge for us Christians is to recognize the all of the contexts the Bible uses to describe our relationship. In addition, the relationship between God and people also carries implications for the replationships between people and people.

    So I ask, do not all people have Adam and Eve as our common ancestors? And isn’t Adam also called a son of God (Luke 3:38)? So what follows those biblical truths?


  17. Curt, that’s not how the black female professor framed the discussion. I’m deferring to the black female professor. You’re using your white male categories on her.

    For shame!


  18. Does anyone posting have a remote clue about the black church culture or the amount of of liberalism in pop African American theology? Hawkins hired as a political science prof, to boot… LOL, this was all so freakin’ predictable. At least Wheaton belatedly gets that #theologymatters, even if it still does not get that racial or cultural reconciliation as understood by liberal campus terms is completely incompatible… Chaplain Julie, call your former office!, or something like that.


  19. D.G.,
    Actually, what you said is wrong. Did you read her theological statement in response to the inquiry made by Wheaton College. The link is below if you haven’t:


    In the meantime, I’ve gone through some of her following reactions to Wheaton’s decision and have found no references to racism and sexism. So if you have some documentation, please share it.

    What prompted her actions was a concern for the safety of Muslims in the aftermath of terrorist attacks and some reactions by Americans. That is what prompted her actions in the first place. She wanted to give Christians reasons for not attacking Muslims. To show solidarity with Muslims, she started to wear a hijab. She went on to make general statements about the continuities that exist between Christianity and Islam. When Wheaton questioned those statements in a letter dated around Dec 15 (see http://drlaryciahawkins.org/2016/01/07/letter-from-wheaton-college-charges-of-apostasy-against-dr-hawkins/ ), she responded with the theological statement linked to above. Another statement was given to show the consistency of her statements with Wheaton’s standards for faith (see http://drlaryciahawkins.org/2016/02/04/a-defense-of-the-consistency-of-dr-larycia-hawkins-statements-concerning-christianity-and-islam-with-the-wheaton-college-statement-of-faith/ ).

    As for the racism and sexism, it was a faculty committee speaking in her defense that brought up the issues of discrimination (see http://time.com/4208102/wheaton-college-larycia-hawkins-discrimination/ ), not Hawkins.

    So unless you have some other documentation to show otherwise, I have seen no connections in her writings that compares Wheaton’s racism and sexism with Christianity and Islam.


  20. Curt, I did read it. And everything you’ve written confirms my point. This was about Christianity and Islam, not sexism and racism, though you tried to make it that by pointing out the way Wheaton was treating a black woman.


  21. D.G.,
    You have it backward. You were the one who brought up the issues of racism and sexism, not me. Please iidentify what it was in my first comment that ibrough in the issues of racism and sexism.


  22. Curt, you referred to Hawkins as a black woman, not as a Christian, and you said this in some sympathy with critics of Stan Jones who would not accept his apology.


  23. D.G.,
    Will add to my last comment that it was your article that first mentioned sexism and racism, And my first comment was a reaction to that. In addition, my comment on sexism and racism at Wheaton did not refer to the relationship between Muslims and Christians, but the relationship between Wheaton and its people.


  24. Curt Day: Ali,… But the relationship between God and people..implications for the replationships between people and people.

    yes, Curt, if we concentrate only on the One True God, the One Who says Who He is (not ones of man’s own making) ;concentrate on knowing that One, we will understand all relationship implication truth


  25. D.G.,
    My first comment never referred to either her gender or race.

    And I only referenced it in my first comment because of what your article said in quoting Jacobs:

    But according to some of Jones’ critics, this apology doesn’t go far enough, as Jacobs explains, “because it does not acknowledge Wheaton’s history (and present) of structural racism and sexism.”


  26. D.G.,
    It was your article that made the link, not me. I simply repeated what it said. But in no way did I link Hawkins’ race and sex to the problem. That is something that the Wheaton faculty questioned though.

    So your initial question for me was a result of my repeating what was written in your article.


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