Thinking Out Loud

January 9, 2016

Can People of Other Faiths Be Worshiping the Same God?

Larycia Hawkins Press Conference

Yesterday I ran a review of a kids video. I did it because I think the problem when facing current events is that bloggers feel the need to rush-to-publish and sometimes there is some wisdom in waiting an extra 24 or 48 hours. Sometimes it’s better not to weigh in at all.

I’m referring to the case of Larycia Hawkins, a tenured professor at Wheaton College who was dismissed after demonstrating solidarity with her Muslim friends and especially for expressing the idea that we worship the same God.

In two short weeks she has raised a number of issues, and my personal take is that just as I waited a day or two to respond, I think that Wheaton College should have considered a more measured approach. While their action may appease conservative Evangelicals — many of whom form much of their donor base — I keep thinking this may come back to haunt them. As I did here, I wish they had not felt the rush-to-publish need to create the most drastic of all possible outcomes.

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? The knee-jerk reaction is to say, ‘Of course not.’ But an historical perspective yields different responses. Google the phrases “Three Faiths, One God” or “One God, Three Faiths” and you start to see the complexity of the issue.

But I want to ask a different question.

Do Jews and Christians worship the same God?

Again, the hard-line response of many is to say, ‘Of course not;’ after all, the God we worship is the God revealed in Jesus Christ, He who co-created the world with the Father, and sits at the Father’s right hand, and said, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (And he really said cometh, according to my KJO friends.)

But the God we serve and sing to at weekend services is the same “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” I really believe you have to answer this two-step question before trying to answer the three-step question that includes Islam.

I can hear some saying, ‘Well, that’s different, it doesn’t apply here.’ But again, there are three (major) Abrahamic faiths, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. There is some commonality.

And may I say, echoing Paul’s approach at Mars Hill, we certainly all seek the same God.

I wish Larycia Hawkins the best. She has left her mark on the ongoing, contemporary theological conversation.

 

 

 

 

3 Comments »

  1. All seek God Jew and Gentile. They are seeking Jesus if they know it or not. The person that believes in Jesus is saved.

    That is the way I see it.

    Comment by angie — January 9, 2016 @ 2:46 pm

  2. I think the easiest analogy is that of an extended family. Everyone in my family knows that “Paul” exists, but while my wife and children know me very well, my distant cousins may have quite erroneous ideas about me. Nevertheless, when they refer to Paul, it is still the same “Paul” they are referring to. In the same way, Jews, Christians and Muslims can all refer to the same God, and worship him, even though we know him in different ways, and perhaps have mistaken ideas about him.

    Comment by Paul Martin Waters — January 11, 2016 @ 2:58 am

    • I have to say that I’ve neither heard nor considered that analogy before, but it seems to work quite well. Thank you for your comment.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 11, 2016 @ 9:03 am


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