Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Notes on a recent USA campus controversy: God, Christians and Moslems

Acts of Faith: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? College suspends professor who said yes.

"NOSTRA AETATE"  and "Just for Catholics."]

Wheaton College, a prominent evangelical school in Illinois, has placed a professor on administrative leave after she posted on Facebook that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God.”
The official school statement Tuesday about associate professor of political science Dr. Larycia Hawkins’s suspension said Wheaton professors should “engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the College’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”
Following a protest and sit-in of about 100 people Wednesday afternoon outside his office building, President Philip Ryken announced that he would not be lifting the suspension and said he had directed the issue to Provost Stanton Jones. It wasn’t immediately clear what would happen next. 
Protesters chanted “Reinstate Doc Hawk,” “We love Wheaton!” and some evangelical women wore hijabs in solidarity.
In her Dec. 10 Facebook post, Hawkins was also wearing a hijab, explaining she planned to do so through the entire Christian season of Advent to show “human solidarity” with Muslims. She didn’t state why in her piece and did not return requests for comment to The Washington Post, but this fall has seen anti-Islam rhetoric rise sharply in the public square, including by GOP presidential candidates. Hundreds of people liked her post and more praised her intensely in comments.
“I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind,” she wrote. “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book … But as I tell my students, theoretical solidarity is not solidarity at all. Thus, beginning tonight, my solidarity has become embodied solidarity.”
She linked to a Christianity Today interview with Yale theologian Miroslav Volf on the topic. In the piece, Volf said that “all Christians don’t worship the same God, and all Muslims don’t worship the same God. But I think that Muslims and Christians who embrace the normative traditions of their faith refer to the same object, to the same Being, when they pray, when they worship, when they talk about God. The reference is the same. The description of God is partly different.”
About 40 students had drafted a letter Tuesday night asking Ryken to reconsider the suspension.
The letter quotes a coalition of concerned students and alumni. “We believe that there is nothing in Larycia Hawkins’ public statements that goes against the belief in the power of God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit that the Statement of Faith deems as a necessary component to Wheaton’s affiliation,” it reads. It asks that she be reinstated.
It wasn’t clear how long her suspension was to last. The school’s communications office said Wednesday there would be no further comment.
Hawkins, according to students at the meeting, is the only tenured black female professor at Wheaton.
Students appeared split on Wednesday. At the protest it seemed half were chanting “Reinstate Doc Hawk!” while those who seemed to support the suspension chanted “We love Wheaton!”
Luke Nelessen, a sophomore, said, “The Christian faith is fundamentally different from Islamic faith and although it’s admirable what Prof. Hawkins said, I’m in no position to try to advocate for her.” Levi Soodsma, a senior, said, “I trust Ryken and what he decides to do. Student leaders don’t stand for all students.”
At the meeting Tuesday night, the focus was on concern for free speech and thought.
Sophomore Connor Jenkins said the professor “opened up a conversation and was shut down.”
Others expressed concern about what the suspension implied for future faculty expressions of opinion on social media.
A Wheaton staff member who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the suspension “sets a precedent for what professors can post on their Facebook page. If Dr. Hawkins is being used as a scapegoat, that will send a message to those of us who are employed full time.”
The suspension took place less than a week after Wheaton College student leaders published an open letter in their student newspaper denouncing recent controversial comments by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell. Speaking to thousands of students about terrorism, Falwell urged them to arm themselves, saying it would “end … those Muslims.” He later said he meant only violent radicals. 
The Wheaton administration later issued a statement praising that open letter, saying school leaders agree with students’ effort to “address our nation’s challenges through respecting the dignity of all people, rejecting religious discrimination, and pursuing the peace that triumphs over hostility.”
Kirkland An is editor-in-chief of the Wheaton Record at Wheaton College



The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.

3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom. ...

5. Cf St. Gregory VII, letter XXI to Anzir (Nacir), King of Mauritania (Pl. 148, col. 450f.) ...



[From:  "Just for Catholics" is an evangelical and evangelistic ministry - evangelical (or Protestant) because we uphold the Holy Scripture as our only infallible rule of faith, and because we believe in salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone; it's evangelistic because we want to share the evangel (the gospel, good news) with others, especially with Catholics whom we know and love dearly. This work is not authored by Roman Catholics, but it is intended especially for Catholics].

Catholicism and Islam are monotheistic religions, that is, both believe that there is but one God. However, that does not necessarily imply that they worship the same God. Two men may be married to one woman, but that does not mean that they are married to the same woman. So, the question is whether Catholics and Muslims worship the same one God.

The modern Catholic Church has defined her relations to non-Christian religions in a document entitled Nostra Aetate. The section on Islam begins thus:

The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men.

While it does not state explicitly that 'the one God' adored by the Muslims is the true and living God, this seems to be the natural implication. For why would Rome commend Muslims for this belief if their God was considered a false deity? Indeed, unlike their ancestors, many modern Catholics are convinced that they and Muslims worship the same God.

Is this true? Is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ the same as Allah? What does the Bible teach about God? What does the Quran say?

The True and Living God

Following the ordinance of our Lord, Christians are baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The baptismal formula of the initiation rite reflects the Christian doctrine of the holy Trinity. The disciples are baptized in the singular name of God (for God is one), and yet, three distinct persons are mentioned, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The biblical doctrine on the Trinity is correctly expressed in the Nicene and Athanasian creeds:

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father…We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life…

Now the catholic faith is that we worship One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is One, the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.

These definitions were forged in the furnace of great controversies in the early church. Heretics troubled the church with false doctrines about God, especially Arius, who denied the Deity of Christ. In response, the orthodox Fathers laboured in the Scriptures to formulate the true doctrine of God. They understood the fundamental importance of this doctrine, and rightly warned that: 'This is the catholic faith, which except a man shall have believed faithfully and firmly he cannot be in a state of salvation.'

The importance of the doctrine of the Deity of Christ cannot be overstated. Unless the Son is truly God and 'one with the Father', Christians would be idolaters, for we regard Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and gladly worship him. If Jesus were not God, we would be found trusting in a creature for our salvation. But we confess that Jesus is not merely another prophet, but the Son of God. The Jews in hid day understood well what he meant by that title: 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God' (John 10:33). They did not believe his claim to Deity and condemned him to death for blasphemy. But Christians understand his claim and believe him; we trust and worship the Son of God; we live and die for our Lord. For in Christ we know God in truth:

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:20, 21).

The Son is the true God; any other god is an idol.

The Quran

Islam vehemently rejects the doctrine of God as revealed in Holy Scriptures.

Islam denies the Trinity:

Certainly they disbelieve those who say: Surely Allah is the third (person) of the three; and there is no god but the one God, and if they desist not from what they say, a painful chastisement shall befall those among them who disbelieve (Sura 5:73).

O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not 'Three' - Cease! (it is) better for you! - Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son (Sura 4:171).

Islam denies the Father and the Son:

The Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them (Sura 9:29-30).

It does not befit GOD that He begets a son, be He glorified (Sura 19:35).

Islam denies the Deity of Christ:

The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle (Sura 4).

They do blaspheme who say: Allah is Christ the son of Mary (Sura 5:72).

And when Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? he saith: Be glorified! It was not mine to utter that to which I had no right (Sura 5:116).

In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary (Sura 5:17).

Clearly then, the Quran denies:

1. The Trinity;
2. The Sonship of Christ;
3. The Deity of Christ.

The conclusion is inevitable: the god of Islam is not the same God of the Holy Scriptures. Christians do not adore the same God as Muslims. Muslims are not merely ignorant of the Triune nature of God and the Deity of the Son: the Quran explicitly negates the doctrine of Christ as taught in the Bible. Rather than adoring God with us, Muslims pray to their god that he might destroy us because of our faith in Christ, the Son of God. 'The Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them' (Sura 9:29-30).

The Catholic Position

The Roman Catholic Church upholds the doctrine of the Trinity (Catechism paragraphs 261-267). It is therefore astounding that the Catechism contradicts everything the Catholic Church has taught about God and states that Catholics and Muslims worship the same God:

The Church’s relationship with Muslims. The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 841, quoting Lumen Gentium 16, November 21, 1964).

According to the Catechism, 'together with us (Catholics) they (Muslims) adore the one, merciful God.' Pope John Paul II repeats this statement even more clearly. Addressing Muslim youths, the Pope said: 'We believe in the same God, the one and only God, the living God, the God who creates worlds and brings creatures to their perfection' (What Dialogue Means for Catholics and Muslims, US Conference of Catholic Bishops,

How could Catholics and Muslims worship the same God since Muslims deny the Trinity, the Sonship and the Deity of our Lord? Quite frankly, the statement that Catholics and Muslims adore the same God is false. I will not speculate on the motives of the modern Catholic hierarchy for making this false assertion. However, it should be evident to every Catholic who has complete confidence in the infallibility and unchangeableness of the Roman magisterium, that in fact the Vatican's teaching on this matter has changed and that it is both fallible and mistaken.

Dr Robert Reymond comments on the odd stand of Roman Catholicism on Islam:

I should note in passing that Islam’s doctrinal hostility to Biblical Christianity apparently does not bother the Roman Catholic Church, for Rome declared in its 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 841) that Muslims are included within God’s plan of salvation because they 'acknowledge the Creator,...profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with [Christians]...adore the one merciful God [Muslims and Christians hardly 'adore' the same 'one merciful God'].' Never mind that Islam’s Allah is not the triune God of the Old and New Testaments; never mind that Muslims think our Trinity is made up of God, a human Jesus, and Mary his mother, the last two of whom we blasphemously worship along with God; never mind that they deny that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God and that he died on a cross a sacrificial death for his people’s sin and rose again because of their justification; never mind that Muslims believe that Christians are idolaters because we worship Christ who they contend was simply a human Messiah and a human prophet; never mind that they see no need for Christ’s substitutionary atonement or for that matter any substitutionary atonement at all. According to Rome’s teaching, in spite of their unbelief, Muslims are still salvifically related to the People of God and may go to Heaven as Muslims, all of which shows how serious is Roman Catholicism’s departure from Christianity (Reymond, R. What’s Wrong with Islam?).

Christian Response

The Christian response to Muslims should be twofold. Firstly, we must separate ourselves from Islam and clearly state that it is a false religion. 'Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds' (2 John 9-11). Christians do not have any ecumenical relationship with Muslims. We cannot participate in their idolatry by saying that we worship the same God. On the contrary, we must warn them that since they do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, they do not have God.

Secondly, we have an evangelistic responsibility towards Muslims. They have been indoctrinated against the Son of God. We must proclaim Jesus, the Son of God, the Lord from Heaven, the Saviour of the World. We must proclaim that he died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. This is our message to Muslims, and to the rest of the world, 'He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him' (John 3:36).

© Dr Joseph Mizzi. Permission is given to reproduce and distribute this article in any format provided that the wording is not altered and that no fee is charged. Please include the following statement on distributed copies:
© Dr Joseph Mizzi. Website: Used by permission.

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