Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A professor at an evangelical Christian college who was suspended for saying Christians, Muslims Share A God

A professor suspended for saying Christians, Muslims Share A God

A professor at an evangelical Christian college who was suspended for saying Christians and Muslims worship the same God will no longer be teaching at the school.

As we've reported, Larycia Hawkins, an associate political science professor who had tenure at Wheaton College in Illinois, was suspended from her job in December.

She was put on paid administrative leave after vowing to wear a hijab for Advent in solidarity with Muslims — not because of the headscarf, but because of a Facebook post about her decision where she wrote about the relationship between Islam and Christianity and said, "as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.

Wheaton administrators said they were concerned that post contradicted the school's statement of faith.

Hawkins faced the possibility of being terminated from her job. But before her scheduled hearing, she and the school announced they had agreed to part ways — and wish the best for one another.

In an interview with NPR's Michel Martin last month, Hawkins stood by her statement, saying, first of all, it was primarily an expression of solidarity — not an attempt to challenge any theology.

But she also said that saying Christians and Muslims are people of the book, with a shared God, doesn't contradict evangelical faith.

She was never denying differences between the two faiths, she says.

"They're two different religions. And we diverge on questions of salvation, soteriology — how do you get to God? — and also on questions of Christology — who is Christ?" Hawkins said.

"I can't intuit ... how they deem me inconsistent with the statement of faith. ... when Wheaton College's president and provost and an adjunct faculty member in 2007 signed a statements saying exactly what I said — that Muslims and Christians are people of the book, we worship the God of Abraham."

(As NPR's Tom Gjelten reported in December, the Catholic Church and most mainstream Muslims agree that Christians and Muslims share the same God. But evangelicals are divided on the question.)

In her interview with Michel Martin, Hawkins said she wanted to remain at Wheaton.

"I have spent most of my adult career committed to being a professor, a scholar and doing so in a Christian context, where I can live out my beliefs but continue to push my students towards rigorous scholarship in this evangelical environment," Hawkins told Martin. "And so I'm known on campus for challenging people to think outside of the box, and presumably that's why Wheaton wanted me."

She was originally scheduled for a hearing late next week to determine if she would be terminated.

Instead, on Saturday night the professor and the college released a joint statement saying they have "found a mutual place of resolution and reconciliation" and "reached a confidential agreement under which they will part ways."