Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Wheaton College: Which God Do We Serve?

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Founded in 1860 as a Christian liberal arts college "in the evangelical Protestant tradition," Wheaton College is now embroiled in a debate over which god do we serve?

Tenured Wheaton Professor Larycia Hawkins has said publicly that Christians and Muslims serve the same god.

Because the school took issue with her belief, an elected 6 member faculty committee has now taken issue with the school saying she has been singled out and discrimination has taken place "on the basis of race, gender, and to a lessor extent, marital status."

Franklin Graham, whose parents Billy and Ruth met at Wheaton while both were students, says, "This is no minor issue that should be debated."

Wheaton has made their decision. It will be announced at a press conference tomorrow.

Hawkins, who is the school's first black female tenured professor, set off a firestorm last December for declaring on Facebook: "As Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God," following the terror attacks in San Bernardino, CA.

In her post on Facebook, she also posted a picture of herself wearing a hijab in support of Muslims.

This issue became highly publicized when a copy of the 9-page memo from the 6 elected members of the Diversity Committee of Faculty Governance, intended for internal purposes only, was leaked to Time Magazine.

The Wheaton provost, Stanton Jones, then recommended professor Hawkins be fired.

About 815 alumni signed a letter to the college saying they will withdraw their financial support if the school does not reconsider their stance and not fire her.

The Washington Post then jumped into the story, calling Wheaton the "evangelical Harvard," reporting that late last week, Wheaton's faculty council unanimously voted to recommend the college's leadership reverse its decision to have Hawkins fired.

Franklin Graham said, " Both my father Billy Graham and my mother attended Wheaton College---in fact, it's where they met. I'm surprised and disappointed that the faculty council there is now recommending the college drop their plans to terminate a professor who published that she believed Islam and Christianity worship the same God."

He said of Islam, "They do not believe in a Triune God---the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I can tell you---Islam and Christianity clearly do not worship the same God. How the faculty council can now support this professor being allowed to teach students is deeply concerning."

Wheaton has now put out a joint statement saying they and the professor have come together and found a mutual place of resolution and reconciliation. The statement says the college and professor Hawkins will hold a joint press meeting at the Chicago Temple First United Methodist Church on Wednesday (tomorrow) and announce that the college and the professor have reached a confidential agreement under which they will part ways.

Identifying the God of the Bible is not a new problem related only to our current confused progressive culture.

After the miraculous way in which God led His people into the Promised Land, Joshua still found it necessary to call the people together and challenge them as to whether they would continue to serve the Lord or "the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River" (Joshua 24:15).

Following the fall of Jerusalem, at the beginning of the Babylonian captivity, Elijah appealed to the confused.

Standing alone against 450 prophets of Baal, he challenged the undecided, "How long will you halt between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him; if Baal, then follow him" ( I Kings 18:21). And he was speaking to people who supposedly knew the true God.

It is generally known that Thomas Jefferson was one of the least religious of our American Founding Fathers.

Although he was a strong advocate of religious freedom, promising the Danbury Baptists that they were protected from the government by a wall of separation, he himself was spiritually confused.

In 2010, PBS ran a 6 hour series titled, "God in America."

In promoting the series, the New York Times noted that Marilyn Mellowes, writing script for the series, had included in the narrative a bit about what is now called the Jefferson Bible.

Thomas Jefferson, taking his Bible and a razor blade, cut from the biblical teachings of Jesus the verses he felt were appropriate---that he believed---producing his own Bible, his own god, and his own Jesus.

He cut out all the miracles and signs or declarations of Jesus' divinity.

Marilyn Mellowes, writing for PBS, summarized it like this: "Jefferson discovered a Jesus who was a great teacher of Common Sense. His message was the morality of absolute love and service. Its authenticity was not dependent upon the dogma of the Trinity or even the claim that Jesus was uniquely inspired by God."

Mellowes says Jefferson, in his own words, saw Jesus as "a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, and an enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions of divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition by being gibbeted according to the Roman law."

"In short," she says, "Mr. Jefferson's Jesus, molded on the ideals of the Enlightenment thinkers of his day, bore a striking resemblance to Jefferson himself."

Jefferson had created a Jesus in his own image.

The culture of the secular progressive is, rather than denying God, always evolving, constantly making God into the image of a God of their liking, rather than the God who is.

The pop culture would conform Jesus to its own image---after its own likeness.

It is not surprising that today's secularists and the Religious Left agree that Jesus would now approve of same-sex marriage, abortion and a host of other destructive practices that God has never condoned.

It would be convenient to conclude that the God of the Bible is the same god of Islam. And it would be more politically correct and inclusive---more unifying to believe we all worship the same god.

Then we could successfully "Coexist."

The words of Joshua must sound across the land today: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Be Faithful. Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.