Yesterday, embattled Professor Larycia Hawkins held a rally in response to Wheaton College administration’s intent to terminate her. If you haven’t been keeping up with this story, I encourage you to read Joe Carter’s explainer here. You can watch the entire rally above, including a statement from Professor Hawkins herself (which begins at 28:30).
While Wheaton College can signify that employees sign a statement of faith—that’s within their right—and adhere to it (and I do), they did not give me Jesus. And they cannot take him away from me.
Wheaton College cannot hold me to a different standard—in fact a higher standard—than they hold every other employee to at the university.
Wheaton College cannot scare me into walking away from the truth that all humans—Muslims, the vulnerable, the oppressed of any ilk—are all my sisters and brothers. I am called by Jesus to walk with them in their oppression.
Wheaton College cannot intimidate me into cowering in fear of the enemy of the month as defined by real estate moguls, senators from Texas, Christians from this country, bigots, and fundamentalists of all stripes.
Wheaton College will never induce me to kowtow to their doublespeak concerning the statement of faith so as to appease an imaginary constituency that clearly knows little about what academic freedom or Christian love mean or to placate platinum donors to their coffers.
Wheaton College will never hear me disavow my religious family tree. That would be the height of academic dishonesty, the nadir of historical revisionism, and a repudiation of the Christian narrative where the central figure is a Hebrew from Nazareth who was despised and rejected from Podunk Nazareth, who nevertheless set captives free and is still doing so today.
Wheaton College cannot place me in a theological corner or a trumped-up statement-of-faith corner. The last time I was put in a corner was in the fourth grade, and that was undeserved too. I won’t ever be put in a corner again.
Students, colleagues, friends, you inspire me to embody the love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self. This is the sum of the law and the prophets. I can do no less than live Jesus-politics. Friends far and near, let’s continue to walk in the truth of our common humanity. I believe that Jesus is justice. And I will continue to walk in justice for all people. Thank you.
For the full context of these remarks, I encourage you to watch the video above. You will note that in answering questions from reporters near the end of the video, Hawkins says that she would never say anything negative about Wheaton. Readers can decide for themselves whether she has achieved that.
Hawkins says that the theological concerns raised by her Facebook post are “trumped-up” and that the administration has engaged in “doublespeak concerning the statement of faith.” While I would leave questions about Hawkins’s employment status to Wheaton, I would nevertheless contend that the issues raised by her statement are irreducibly theological and should concern every Christian, not just those at Wheaton.
It is absurd to suggest that her “same god” comment has no implication for evangelical faith—and in particular for a statement of faith like Wheaton’s. For Christians, it matters in spades whether we recognize the triune God of the Bible and his Son Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners—all of which are denied by Islam. It also matters big time whether one recognizes Christ as the only way to be reconciled to God.
To be unclear about those things is to be unclear about the main things—indeed about the ultimate thing. And that is the issue.
UPDATE: Here is the theological statement that Professor Hawkins provided to the Wheaton administration on December 17, 2015. I am not going to give a full analysis of it, but I will say that it seems to raise almost as many questions as it answers.