At first it seemed like Dr. Larycia Hawkins would clearly be reinstated. Her statement that Muslims and Christians were both “people of the book” and people who, along with Jews, worship the God of Abraham, has been supported by well-respected evangelical theologians. When asked for clarification of her views in comparison to Wheaton’s statement of faith, Dr. Hawkings has consistently complied in great detail– fully affirming Wheaton’s entire statement of faith. I’ve read her personal statement of faith myself, and it’s not some liberal manifesto– it’s solidly evangelical. I could see how her statement of faith would put her at odds with liberal colleges, but evangelical ones? Absolutely not.Yet, it seems that they are going about terminating her anyway. Why? Corey has some ideas:
Read the whole piece. I have read Dr. Hawkins' statement of faith and, while I accept that she wants to bring solidarity with Muslims into the mix by arguing that Muslims worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that makes a hash of many other aspects of Christianity. For starters, Muslims are staunchly unitarian, while one of the basic tenets of Christianity is the trinity. Secondly, and relatedly, they reject the divinity of Jesus—and that is a deal-breaker— and elevate the profit Mohammed to a level that makes the Catholic veneration of Mary look positively mild by comparison.Evangelicalism now is far closer to the fundamentalism they reacted against than perhaps anyone would have anticipated. Evangelicalism is the fundamentalism of our time. It’s fascinating from an anthropology standpoint, but tragic for the Kingdom Jesus came to establish. And this brings me to the real reason Dr. Hawkins is being terminated from Wheaton College:The glue that holds fundamentalism together is the agreement upon a common enemy to fight, and Dr. Hawkins has rejected the notion that Muslims are the common enemy.And this is a deal-breaker for Wheaton, whether they’ll have the courage (and self-awareness) to admit it or not. Even an informal student of culture can easily see that evangelicals in America, for the last several years, have consolidated around the agreement that Muslims are the great enemy of our time (Exhibit A: Franklin Graham’s Facebook page). For Dr. Hawkins to say she “stands in solidarity” with Muslims is a betrayal of one of their deepest held beliefs, and this (to them) makes her untrustworthy.
So, we have established that Islam is not Christianity. But what of Judaism? If Dr. Hawkins had worn a Sheitel instead and pledged solidarity with Jews everywhere by saying we worship the same God, would she have gotten the same reaction? Franklin Graham has recently argued that we need to support Israel because, in the final analysis it wasn't the Jews who nailed him to the cross, it was all of us. Although this is a historically myopic position, Graham received no rebukes for these statements. Consequently, I wonder if the primary reason for Dr. Hawkins' removal is not that she broke with received evangelicalism/fundamentalism, but that she supported, in at least some small way, Islam. After all, it is the self-same Graham that has recently also argued that Islam needs to be repelled at all cost and Mr. Graham is held in very high esteem (as he should be) by most evangelicals.
I would, therefore, suggest that, in the context of the current geopolitical climate with constant news stories of radical Islamic fundamentalist terrorism and the rise of ISIS, any support of Islam, however faint, is seen as conspiring with the Devil. The College Board of Directors, to preserve its role in the fight (and to make sure that donor dollars keep pouring in) may have felt they had no choice but to go through with the termination, even in the face of limited evidence that Dr. Hawkins really had gone off the rails.
I am not debating the merits of either Judaism or Islam in relation to Christianity. I am staunchly Christian and find much in Islam very troubling. Even moderate Islam seems deeply misogynistic and cruel by western and Christian standards. I am, however, suggesting that Dr. Hawkins is being served up as a scapegoat in the broader war that evangelicalism is waging against one of its “enemies.”