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We have quite a few Wheaton alumni in our church, and we seem to send one or two high school graduates off to Wheaton every year. Recently, I got an email from one of our students at Wheaton. The email had a number of good questions (he’s a very bright you man), all having to do with the current controversy over whether Muslims and Christians (and Jews) worship the same God. I thought it might be worthwhile, with is permission, to post my brief letter on my blog.

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Dear Mike [not his real name],

I was going to write you an even longer reply, but then I saw this article on The Gospel Coalition website. It does a great job explaining why we should not say Muslims and Christians worship the same God. It also gets into the question you asked about whether Jews and Christians worship the same God. In a redemptive historical sense, there is a way in which this is true (certainly more than is true with Islam). But on this side of the incarnation, we still have the same Trinitarian and Christological problems.

One of the reasons this controversy is so difficult is because the phrase “worship the same God” can mean different things and can be heard in vastly different ways.

Consider a few examples:

Do Muslims and Christians understand God in the same way? No. The differences are massive. Either God exists in three persons and Jesus of Nazareth was God in the flesh or these notions are blasphemous errors.

Do both Muslims and Christians worship God in ways that are pleasing to the one true God? No. As evangelical Christians, we must say that worship that is pleasing to God is worship centered on Christ. The central affirmation of our faith—Jesus Christ is Lord—is categorically rejected by Muslims. Their worship is an affront to God’s revelation in Christ. I imagine most Muslims would say our worship is an affront to Allah.

Do Muslims and Christians both find salvation in their worship of God? No. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). While inclusivists argue that we can be saved through Jesus Christ apart from explicit faith in him, almost all evangelicals throughout history have insisted that conscious faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. Even if inclusivists are right (and they’re not), there is quite a difference between ignorance of Christ and a conscious rejection of Jesus as the the Son of God. Moreover, I think many Muslims would find it insulting to their faith for Christians to say, “You’ll be saved because you believe in Christ without knowing it.”

Does the worship of Muslims and Christians reach the same God even though their theology about God is vastly different? Perhaps the object of worship ends up being the same, despite the fact that the worshiping subjects are thinking of very different Beings. This is the sophisticated argument some are trying to make. But I don’t think this argument works either. Since there is only one God, it is true that the one God—the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ–sees Muslims worshiping and, perhaps, we can even say that the prayers and alms of some Muslims “have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4) or that in one sense they are seeking after God and trying to feel their way toward him (Act 17:27). And yet, if this is what we mean to say, the language of “worshiping the same God” is bound to be confusing, for God does not “hear” the prayers of the Muslims (in the covenantal sense) and does not receive their “worship” as worship.

In other words, from a Christian understanding, the Muslim faith is not just a little off or incomplete, it is idolatrous, demonic, and false. It is hard to see how the language of “worshiping the same God”—despite whatever philosophical distinctions we may put in place—can stand alongside this theological evaluation.

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin


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Comments:


39 thoughts on “Once Again on Wheaton and Worshiping the Same God”

  1. WoundedEgo says:

    Muslims are strict monotheists (as are Jews) but Christians (and I use the term loosely) are tri-theists, though they obfuscate that fact, so they are different gods. The thornier question is, do Jews and Muslims worship the same god?

  2. a. says:

    thank you.
    keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place and to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21:36

  3. Neville Briggs says:

    There is an incident from the Gospels where Peter asks Jesus about the destiny of another disciple and Jesus says words to the effect ” Mind your own business, don’t worry about him, you just make sure that you are following me”
    Perhaps it is better for Christians to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus and let the Muslims sort out whether Islam is worshipping the true God. Isn’t it the work of the Holy Spirit to convict people of their wrong ways. Isn’t the critical issue, not who has their theological definitions worked out but where is the Holy Spirit engaged with people’s hearts and minds.

  4. Jeff Robinson says:

    Kevin, your words provide a nice summary of Larycia Hawkins’ position in her written theological statement to the Wheaton administration.

    “Perhaps the object of worship ends up being the same, despite the fact that the worshiping subjects are thinking of very different Beings….Since there is only one God, it is true that the one God—the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ–sees Muslims worshiping and, perhaps, we can even say that the prayers and alms of some Muslims “have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4) or that in one sense they are seeking after God and trying to feel their way toward him (Act 17:27).”

  5. Evan Parker says:

    Bob Priest and Harold Netland from TEDS, along with many others, give an alternative take from a missiological perspective here:

    https://www.emsweb.org/images/occasional-bulletin/special-editions/OB_SpecialEdition_2016.pdf

  6. James M. says:

    WE – “tri-theists”? This is a gross misrepresentation of Trinitarian understanding.

  7. Bruce Wallace says:

    Excellent letter. If Muslims are worshipping the same God as Judaism and Christianity then why is the message so different coming from one and the same Divine Being who is blessed forever ? Totally different message. It is true that Muslim and Judaism are staunch monotheists, but so is Christianity (DT.6;4, and Eph. 4;6). We differ as to Gods nature/person (unitarian vs.trinitarian) which results in letting the scriptures speak for themselves and follow that wherever it leads. ” Jesus as God” by Harris is a great place to start for the last comment. If CHristianity included all other ways to God it wouldn’t be Christian would it ? It would be what the early church fought called syncretism.

  8. Floyd says:

    Kevin, I believe you may have left out a very major difference. Islam’s god is unknowlable and therefore impersonal. Its god does not touch humanity. Allah is not immanent. Now Islam claims their god is merciful, yet in action they cannot point to any historical evidence of that mercy. In fact, Muslims cannot point to history at all in their Koran except from what it borrowed from the Bible. Islam has no basis in history while the Bible is all about historical record. Muslims simply hope that Allah will finally show mercy but it is not guaranteed. It is somewhat hopeless for them. Yet, they rely on a materialistic god, one who rewards with materialism (virgins in heaven, etc.).

  9. Curt Day says:

    But all that is written in the letter above describes contexts in which we can answer the question of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. And in most, if not all, of those contexts, the student would find agreement with Larycia Hawkins whose statement about Muslims and Christians worshipping the same God is the center of the controversy.

    But let’s apply that last paragraph of the letter to the question of whether we should treat Muslims and Christians as equals. How many would use that last paragrpah to justify persecuting and visiting injustice on Muslim neighbors or supporting unjust foreign policies on Muslim-majority nations?

  10. Taylor says:

    Seems like you don’t have any muslim friends, Kevin.

  11. Ron says:

    Pastor Kevin, Can you comment On Acts 17:23ff as it might relate to this discussion?

    [23] For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. [24] The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, [25] nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

    (Acts 17:23-25 ESV)

  12. Danny says:

    I find it amazing there are people who believe that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. In any context the Bible shows that belief to be false. Shame on the people still trying to muddy the waters.

  13. John S says:

    Christians worship Jesus as God. Muslims say he is merely a prophet. Christian believe the only way to God is through Jesus death on the cross, Muslims don’t even believe he died. Fairly straight forward to me that we are not worshiping the same God. Perhaps I am not smart enough to understand all the nuances, but I know whom I have believed and he is the crucified, risen God the Son. If you can find a Muslim who believes that I will agree that he and I worship the same God.

  14. Curt Day says:

    Danny,
    In the context of both religions being monotheistic and worshipping the Creator of all things, having Abraham and as an important figure, and sharing some documents, then we have Christians and Muslims worshipping the same God. That is not muddying the waters. Rather, it is listing what the two religions share and partially orient their beliefs in God around.

  15. Dean says:

    Similarities may hint at something being the same but the differences remain. Jesus makes that clear to the Samaritin woman. John 4:24. It is only in Christ that salvation is accomplished, everything else is sinking sand. Its not just what we say but what we do & only the Holy Spirit can lead us & Jesus prayer sustain us. The rest is just a mirage in the desert spiritually speaking.

  16. Floyd T says:

    Curt,

    The only reason the Islam share certain historical events in common with biblical faith is because it appropriated those events from Christian records. The Koran is not about a historical record but rather sayings and oracles. That is a huge contrast from claiming that both share the same commonality. Mormons claim the Bible as the word of God “as long as it is translated accurately.” Note the word “translated.” That condition has nothing to do with whether the Bible is truly the word of God. The same goes with Islam. Just because it claims Abraham as a common ancestor has nothing to do with faith in God and doctrine. It revises the historical record to conclude different doctrines and a very different god. Consequently, elements of a given philosophy or ideology does not give way to commonality, similarity, or faith. Rather, it reflects imitation just as Satan imitates light and deceives people by it.

  17. Curt Day says:

    Floyd,
    You are correct, the Koran is not about a historical record. However, the Bible is and Islam does carry a higher degree of respect for the Bible than other religions outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition. So the history that is recorded in the OT plays an important role in Islam despite the differences between how Islam, Christianity, and Judaism view that history. Each have their own set of interpretations of Old Testament history.

    Like it or not and despite the vast differences between Christianity and Islam, we have share some connections. And those connections are important especially when we consider how we should treat our Muslim neighbors in this country and how our nation should treat Muslim-majority nations in its foreign policies.

    Plus, please remember how Jesus regarded the religious leaders who rejected him.

    So how we compare Christianity and Islam is all about context.

  18. Floyd T says:

    Curt,
    History comprises a major part of truth. Truth cannot derive from fiction, otherwise it it fiction. Non-historical propositions have no basis in truth. Much like Islam, Buddhism and many of the other Eastern religions have no basis in history but are simply statements and oracles. That is the reason biblical faith is embedded in history. If Jesus Christ did not have a history but made up, He could not be or claim to be Truth (John 14:6). As I said in my prior post, Islam borrows (steals) from biblical faith for laying claim to some legitimacy. However, borrowing names without the history or by twisting the history does not make it true or the truth. Islam cherry-picks what it wants to claim from the Bible and then revises (not interpret it) to fit its philosophical bent. Therefore, all Islam is a philosophy with a bent toward imitation.

    Islam does not respect those who hold to biblical faith or the Bible. In fact, Islam excoriates Christians and claims that the Bible has been mangled over the centuries so that it no longer has its original record. This is false claim and proven false by the consistency of ancient documents of virtually all the books of the Bible so that we currently have what was originally written in our current biblical translations.

    Christians who hold to the what the authors wrote as their words and Islam do not simply differ in interpretation. That is simply untrue. Islam simply reject the biblical authors and cherry-pick the texts that align with their philosophical and ideological bent. That is not interpreting. That is twisting, rejecting, and taking out of context. I do not agree with anything you claim about Islam. They are simply untrue and do not hold up under scrutiny of the evidence.

  19. Christy says:

    Have you seen the Evangelical Missiological Society’s special bulletin response to the Wheaton controversy? https://www.emsweb.org/images/occasional-bulletin/special-editions/OB_SpecialEdition_2016.pdf
    Especially salient to me was the point that multiple people who have spent decades working in a Muslim context could not think of a single Muslim convert to Christianity who conceived of their conversion experience as “switching Gods.”
    It seems to me many of the theology-philes in the blogosphere as guilty as Wheaton admin of failing to consult missiologists and failing to take into consideration some of the practical missiological implications of insisting on a totally binary yes or no answer in this debate. This post doesn’t do a very good job budging me from my opinion that with you YRR types, being right is really the only important thing. How do you deal with the fact that it clearly wasn’t always the most important thing to Paul when he was preaching the gospel. There is a time to contextualize and build bridges and a time to draw lines and address heresy.

  20. Curt Day says:

    Floyd,
    Again, Muslims do have a respect for the scriptures and the history recanted there. Yes, they differ on some historical facts. But their holy book is similar in construction to the epistles in the NT in that there is little telling of history there.

    The concern here isn’t over whether we have enough in common so that we could consider each other as fellow believers, the concern is over whether we have anything in common so as to mitigate the desire of some to persecute those from the other religoin. And we do have some things in common, though not enough to regard each other as fellow believers. But we can work together on some joint issues. Taking care of the poor is one such issue. Muslims have raised money to help those whose churches have been burned because of racism. In addition, I have protested with Muslims on certain forighn policy issues. I don’t have to agree with Islam to join them on those ventures. But knowing that we do share some religious convictions helps people from both side work together.

  21. Gwilym Davies says:

    Christy, could I gently suggest that you read the collection of articles you posted a little more carefully? It’s true that the editorial suggests that Muslims don’t see themselves as having switched gods. But then the first of the articles actually written by a Muslim convert to Christianity, the one by Fred Farrokh, argues strongly that Muslims see Christians as worshipping Christ, that suggesting Muslims and Christians worship the same God is unhelpful, and implies that he might see himself as having made precisely the theological about turn that you’ve said no Muslim sees themselves as having made.

  22. Floyd T says:

    Christy, it is not a matter of being right or wrong but matters of whose authority we follow and being Scriptural. Missiologists are not the final authority for matter of who God is. They do not have the final word. The Scriptures are the final authority. If for some reason Muslims hear missionaries talk and walk away and still do not see the difference between the God of the Bible and Allah, then the message was not clear to them. Being Scriptural WAS he most important thing to Paul when sharing the gospel. He did not share one message to one group and another message to another group. Rather, he shared the same message to all people he encountered. He called people to believe the gospel, that the Triune God entered into His creation as god incarnate, showed Himself to humanity, and called on all to believe the gospel. What you are suggesting is inclusivism, the same thing that the Wheaton professor claimed – that it does not matter what kind of God we hold. That is a false gospel and misleads many. That is the reason Wheaton dismissed her. She taught inclusivism.

    You state, “There is a time to contextualize and build bridges and a time to draw lines and address heresy.”

    We can contextualize the gospel, but if we change the gospel by claiming that there is no difference between the different gods of other religions, we have changed the gospel. What you present in your statement is a false dichotomy (false choice). Contextualizing and drawing lines are categorically not the same.

  23. Floyd T says:

    Curt you stated, “Again, Muslims do have a respect for the scriptures and the history recanted there. Yes, they differ on some historical facts. But their holy book is similar in construction to the epistles in the NT in that there is little telling of history there.”

    Please support your claim that Islam respects the Bible and at the same time vilify it by claiming it is corrupt. If they respected the Bible, they would believe it, but they do not believe it.

    In terms of the Koran and the NT being similar, nothing could be further from the truth. The gospels and Acts are all about historical narrative, something the Koran lacks completely unless they borrow. Paul, Peter, and James’ letters are all about historical content. They all gave the historical account of Jesus and explained it through propositional truths. All of them refer back to Old Testament history for their support. They all pinpoint historical accounts. They quote from the historical record of the Old Testament to build their case of God’s truth. You really need to read the New Testament.

  24. Christy says:

    @Floyd “It is not a matter of being right or wrong but matters of whose authority we follow and being Scriptural.” Are you going to argue that “being Scriptural” isn’t usually synonymous for “being right” around here? Because if there is a difference, I’ve missed it.

    “He did not share one message to one group and another message to another group. Rather, he shared the same message to all people he encountered.” This is demonstrably false with a fairly cursory perusal of Acts.

    “What you are suggesting is inclusivism, the same thing that the Wheaton professor claimed – that it does not matter what kind of God we hold.” Again demonstrably false, if you bothered to read Hawkin’s clarification, she specifically denies inclusivism and draws a distinction that many other Evangelical theologians have also drawn between soteriology and “embodied piety.”

    “Contextualizing and drawing lines are categorically not the same.” Duh. They are always in tension, which was the rhetorical point of my pairing of the two in what I originally said. It is not at all clear from what you write that you even know what contextualization is in a missiological sense.

    @Gwilym “Christy, could I gently suggest that you read the collection of articles you posted a little more carefully?”

    I read them and I am aware that different authors bring different perspectives to the questions and come down in different places on specifics. I think the theological questions raised are complex and nuanced and I I think they are all important to consider. However, unlike the attitude that is suggested by TGC and this post, I don’t think there is a definitive right way to answer that fits every conceivable context in which one might ask the question “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” I’m annoyed by all these blog posts by people who present themselves as serious students of theology who act like they can offer a definitive right answer in 500 words or less and have no issue with summarizing and dismissing “sophisticated arguments” in a paragraph without actually responding to any of the legitimate points they raise, as it seems to me that Kevin does.

  25. Floyd says:

    Christy, you did miss the point about the difference between being Scriptural and being right. You did miss the point I made concerning the matter of authority. One could be right in their opinion so that their opinion (or the opinion of others) is their authority. Therefore, the two propositions are not the same so that being Scriptural does not always equate to being right.

    If you claim that Paul did share a different message to one group than he did with another as your reply indicates, then you hold to two gospel messages and inclusivism. Just because you claim my statement is false does not make it so. You must support your claim, which you do not. You make the same unsupported claim about inclusivism and contextualizing versus drawing lines. Nowhere in Acts will you find Paul preaching two different messages. You make these claims without supporting them and showing my statements to be false. Just because you claim something is false does not make it so. You must explain why with a reasoned reply or your reply is invalid.

    If Hawkins believes that Islam and biblical faith share the same God, she contradicts herself when she denies she is an inclusivist, and she not only is an inclusivist but affirms syncretism.

    Besides, the article from Robert Priest has some very serious errors in it. First, he claims Paul in Athens did not use a foreign words for God, such as Elohim or Yahweh. Of course not. That is irrelevant since Paul spoke in Greek to Greek speaking people. Elohim and Yahweh are Hebrew words. The writer of Acts never intended to suggest Priest’s interpretation. Priest is guilty of reading into the text an intent not there and gives an erroneous interpretation. Besides, Jews spoke Greek and Hebrew and appropriated the Greek word for the biblical God to refer to the one true God and to no other. Priest commits a linguistic error by not recognizing that words cross languages and come to have the meaning that language gives them. There are numerous other problems with the articles I can address in a subsequent article. One thing I can say is that the articles tend toward inclusivism. I wrote a book on inclusivism you are welcome to read – Nothing But the Gospel.

    Unless you can do more than assert someone is false without supporting your claim, then I will not reply to any more of your claims.

  26. Floyd says:

    Christy>>>”I’m annoyed by all these blog posts by people who present themselves as serious students of theology who act like they can offer a definitive right answer in 500 words or less and have no issue with summarizing and dismissing “sophisticated arguments” in a paragraph without actually responding to any of the legitimate points they raise, as it seems to me that Kevin does.”

    The above is no more than a personal attack on a nebulous unidentified “people.” Personal attacks are not arguments.

  27. Curt Day says:

    Floyd,
    You can find the support you require by reading the Koran. In addition, I could point to personal conversations.

    And yes, the Koran is structured in a similar way to the epistles in the NT in that it is didactic. In fact, you previously mentioned how there was not a concern for history in the Koran.

  28. Floyd says:

    Curt, you are so wrong, because you have not read the Bible at all; and you have not read it in its original languages. You can speak of structure all you want, but until you can provide evidence of the structure of both books in the original language, you have not supported anything. Besides you changed the direction of your argument to divert from your false arguments. Whatever conversation you may have had is irrelevant and a non sequitur. Besides you do not reply to what I have said but rather go off on rabbit trails. I do not chase rabbit trails.

    You failed to acknowledge the gospels and Acts as historical narratives. You failed to refute that the epistles that followed the gospels were explanations of historical events and the truths these historical events conveyed about God and His interaction with humanity. Again, HISTORY, HISTORY, HISTORY is the bedrock of biblical faith. Islam stole from biblical Christianity and Judaism for its history. It not only stole from them but complete revised and cherry-picked what it stole to accommodate Islamic fiction.

    The Koran is NOT, get that, is NOT structured the same way. The Koran is not comprised of historical narratives and letters to specific people instructing them FROM history about redemption and God’s interaction in redemptive history. It does NOT depend on history for truth. It consists of sayings and oracles apart from history, making it based on the sayings of man and not on the word of God not matter how much Islam claims it is God’s word. God does not speak apart from history, because He created humanity in an historical context. The Koran is not about history. Its words do not arise from history and depend on it. Therefore, you cannot have truth arising from fiction or non-existence.

    The God of the Bible is a personal and relational God. Allah is not. Allah is unknowable and divorced from humanity. Allah does not interact with humanity. He dictates word for word on a book of sayings. That is mechanical and mindless on the part of one man. God gave men the freedom to write what God inspired. The Bible was written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. You failed to see this “structure.”

    All you claim is false and without any support. Now please do not go off on more rabbit trails. I will not answer them. Address arguments directly or not at all. All you present are unsupported false claims without understanding what you mean by the words you write, such as “structure.”

    Besides I never said there was not a concerned for history in the Koran. You falsely attribute to me something I never said.

  29. Neville Briggs says:

    The credo of Islam is that there is one God; Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.
    There is no Allah without Mohammed. Mohammed was the writer of the Koran.

    The attack on Charlie Hebdo was because of Mohammed, the warring in the Middle East is mainly of the factions of Sunnis and Shiites over Mohammed.

    So I conclude that if Mohammed is a true prophet, then Allah is true God, if Mohammed is a false prophet them Allah is not true God.

    With respect, I suggest that the Wheaton College Christians can find the answer to their question in the Bible which tells us what to do about prophets, to test them, the true prophet is to be listened to, the false prophet is to be discarded.

    I guess that if we wish to engage Muslims in evangelism we need to understand terms, but generally ( I could be wrong ) I think it is better to stay away from analyses of non biblical theology.

    I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant or presumptuous, it’s only the thoughts of a plain fellow.

  30. Matt says:

    Thought this post was very helpful and refreshing in this debate. Just from what I’ve read, Kevin is the only one who has directly said “it is idolatrous, demonic, and false.” I believe Scripture supports him here and I’ll say why. If we go way back to the origins of Islamic faith, we will see that Mohammed’s doctrines came not only from certain pieces of Jewish and Christian faith (though incomplete), but from, what he called, “angelic visions”. He says he received his first revelation in a cave on Mount Hira, near Mecca, from the archangel Gabriel, and from here he forms the Islamic faith (“What’s The Difference?” by Fritz Ridenour, pg. 77). Interestingly, on one occasion he said to his wife that he feared was being possessed by evil spirits during these revelations.

    I have no doubt that the Lord had this in mind when through Paul he tells us, “even if an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8, ESV.

    In short, whereas Judaism (thought greatly different from Christianity’s doctrine of the Trinity) is derived from God’s authentic special revelation, the Islamic faith, ULTIMATELY, is derived from deceptive demonic revelations. And so if that’s true, then we do not at all worship the same God, and Kevin is accurate in saying the difference is idolatrous, demonic, and false.

  31. mosessister says:

    I also, along with Christy, read all the essays in the Evangelical Missiological Society Special Bulletin on this topic. While there are varying opinions of the wisdom in making an assertion about “same God” that Dr. Hawkins did, the authors are nearly unanimous in the belief that Dr. Hawkins’ intent was missiological, not heretical, and therefore not cause for termination of tenure.

    It is an extremely complicated issue that is deserving of deeper reflection than is evident here. Instead of dismissing Christy out of hand, try interacting with some of the opinions of the group of extremely seasoned conservative missiologists that contributed. Dr. Priest and Dr. Netland are extremely well-respected faculty @TEDS. When you have people of that stature questioning the wisdom of firing Dr. Hawkins, that should give anyone pause to think it may not be as simple as it seems.

    I find it instructive that neither Kevin DeYoung, nor any TGC leader that I’ve seen, have stated publicly that Dr. Hawkins should be terminated. There is a clamor to correct her admittedly mis-guided statement about “same God,” rightfully so. But very few respected leaders actually showing support for termination.

    So I guess I’d ask Kevin DeYoung point blank: Supposing her initial statement is the only issue (Justin Taylor rightfully pointed out that the public is NOT privy to all the personnel facts and issues), you think Dr. Hawkins should be terminated for what she said, even after her clarifying written explanation? Do you have any comment on any of the issues raised in the EMS Special Bulletin?

    Let’s think a little harder about this, please.

  32. Floyd T says:

    The entire issue, again, is not who is right or wrong but what is the authority for determining the doctrine of God. Missiologists are not the final authority. They must submit to the authority of Scripture alone, because it is God’s word. Did Hawkins claim or not claim that Islam and Christians hold to the same God? If she did, then the judgment of the matter rests with the Scriptures alone. It would be instructive to read 1 John 4:1 on this. John is very clear on this.

  33. mosessister says:

    Floyd T, you are missing the point. Nobody is arguing that the Word of God lacks authority. What is in question is the meaning of the words of Dr. Hawkins.

    Words and phrases can have different meanings, based on context and the intent of the speaker. In the soteriological sense, the liturgical sense, and the theological/trinitarian sense, CLEARLY Muslims and Christians DO NOT worship the same God. However, the answer is less clear in the ontological, covenantal, missiological sense. Many respected conservative Christians agree that answer could be yes in the right context, IN THE MISSIOLOGICAL CONTEXT. Even Dr. Ryken himself has implicitly agreed that is an accepted and orthodox possibility.

    Dr. Hawkins’ initial assertion was ambiguous at best, misguided at worst. Wheaton was correct in asking for clarification because it’s such an important issue, and the internet is not the best medium to be spouting ambiguously about such important soteriological concepts.

    But when Dr. Hawkins’ clearly clarified her belief that Jesus IS the only way, and that her intent WAS missiological, that effectively removed cause for termination.

    Of course, as I stated above, there are no doubt other things going on to which we are not privy. But again, I have yet to see a respected evangelical leader publicly agree she ought to lose her tenure. That is telling…

    I strongly encourage interaction with the EMS Special Bulletin. There is a lot of food for thought that is worthy of our attention in all the essays. OF COURSE these writings of seasoned missiologists are not more authoritative than the Bible, but their experience can inform the context of the situation, that in turn can help us determine and understand Dr. Hawkins’ intent. And that is just as important to the conversation as the theological constructs, if we are to avoid false accusations.

  34. Floyd says:

    mosessister,

    Actually, I did not miss the point at all. In fact, I believe you missed the entire basis of authority to which I was referring. That authority depends on the biblical God and how the Scriptures reveal Him. I can see one of your problems, that is, making a bifurcation between theology and its dependencies of ontology, covenant, and missiology.

    Theology is the study of God and ontology is a subset of that framework, that is the study of God’s being and nature. Theology covers much more than ontology. To divide theology from ontology, covenant, and missiology is to remove the basis for these three things. Besides, ontology is categorically different from the other two. Covenant and missiology are out workings of theology and not independent of it. I am also unsure how you are applying covenant in your context since that is categorically different from ontology.

    Unless you base your theology on the authority of Scriptures, you cannot reach an accurate theological and consequent ontological understanding of God. The same goes with missions. Missions have their basis in the Scriptures and its message of the gospel. It clearly states that there is one God and there is no other. If one claims that the God of the Bible is the same as the god of Islam without comparing them, missiology is turned upside down, and one preaches inclusivism no matter how much one denies they do not.

    Missions cannot and should not change the doctrine of the theology of God to accommodate a culture or religious affiliation. That is, “missiological intent” should NOT be used as justification for accommodation. It does not matter who says you can, whether that person is a PhD, university president, or whatever. Such a change results in compromise. If missiological intent is the filter for the theology of God, then missiological intent becomes the authority rather than the Scriptures. It is not complex.

  35. mosessister says:

    I agree God and His Special Revelation in Christ and the written witness to Christ (the Bible) is the highest authority, the authority through which all other knowledge must be filtered to get at Truth. I was specifically referring to Trinitarian theology in my list of contexts in which the same God question is clearly no, sorry for that confusion. But the authority of Scripture doesn’t automatically negate other sources of God-knowledge. The ontological argument, for example, is a philosophical argument that has some merit, in my opinion, that also accords acceptably with the written record found in Genesis.

    I don’t agree that correct theology necessarily requires a negative answer to the same God question IN ALL CONTEXTS. We can agree to disagree, but the position is not unorthodox. Which is why so many respected, conservative academicians are not in support of Dr. Hawkins’ termination. Have you read any of the essays in the EMS Special Bulletin? I’d love to interact with some of the ideas found there. I feel it’s important to understand all the positions, even when one doesn’t agree, and I don’t feel like those militating against Dr. Hawkins are well-informed about the missiological issues.

    I’m curious, what, if any issues you have with Dr. Hawkins’ clarifying theological statement? She stated quite clearly that she believes Jesus is the only Way….???? That all goes to inform intent, does it not?

    As for my reference to the covenantal aspect, do you affirm that the Adamic, Noahic, and at least some part of the Abrahamic covenant is a covenant with all peoples? Panta ta ethne? Imago Dei?

  36. Floyd says:

    Mosessister,

    It seems you are not addressing the issue of Hawkins’ statement and you muddy the waters with unrelated issues, such as covenant and “other sources of God-knowledge.” First, “covenant” is irrelevant to the issue. Second, “other sources of God-knowledge” you do not make clear and is unrelated to the primary issue about the being and nature of God from the authority of the Bible. You do not define what you mean by “other sources of God-knowledge.” The knowledge of God comes to us in only two ways according to the Bible:

    a. General revelation for holding humanity accountable for the knowledge of God. This revelation is not redemptive but judgmental
    b. Special revelation for how one becomes reconciled to God. Special revelation is revelation of Jesus as the incarnate Son of God and God Himself come in the flesh, died for our sins, and rose from the dead to defeat death and sin

    By raising “other sources of God-knowledge” leads me to question your understanding of revelation and the knowledge of God. You need to return to the primary issue. The main issue for Wheaton is has Hawkins recanted her statement that Christians (my understanding of Christian is nothing less than biblical faith) and Islam sharing the same God? From my readings, she has not. She has also declined any further dialog with Wheaton on the matter. These two items speak volumes.

    You are also changing the subject concerning ontology from no definition and no context for it to an argument and thereby taking a detour without acknowledging my statements on ontology. In fact, you do not address my reply about ontology. Your changing of the subject muddies the water by changing the discussion and taking a rabbit trail. You also muddy the waters about theology by even introducing the word “ontology.” I do not address rabbit trails. I was not speaking of any sort of ontological argument. Rather I was speaking of ontology itself to show how you create a bifurcation between theology and ontology when ontology is a subset discussion of the theology of God. You take a rabbit trail I am not willing to follow.

    You stated that you do not agree that correct theology requires a negative answer to the same God question “in all context.” If you do not agree that the theology of God matters in all contexts, then you make God out to be of the material order dependent on context. That is the beginning point of idolatry as Kevin DeYoung clearly stated in his article, because it makes God dependent on the creature (contextualization of culture or other humanly defined order). DeYoung clearly understood the issue and the repercussions of such thinking. I do not believe you have thought your statements through to their logical conclusions to grasp their gravity in terms of making God into something He is not, that is, something of the created order and not distinct from it.

    Such thinking is not only not biblical (my preference to “orthodox”), but also unscriptural. All other gods, including Islam’s, are of the created order (the imaginations of men) and thereby materialist by nature. Islam’s god is wholly transcendent, impersonal, and unknowable. He is not immanent so that Muslims can know this god. The biblical God is immanent, because He is “God with us” and is knowable as Jesus informed Philip, “If you have known Me, you have known the Father” (John 14:7). We can know God because of Jesus. Islam cannot know their god, for such a non-trinitarian god that they worship does not exists. Therefore, Islam’s non-existent god cannot in any way be anything like the biblical God. Hawkins does not seem to understand this in her un-recanted affirmation that the God of Christianity is the same as the god of Islam (contextualization or not). Context is a humanly defined mechanism for raising the possibility of gods (idolatry) other than the only true God of the Bible. DeYoung recognized this very clearly.

  37. mosessister says:

    Floyd,

    Floyd,

    Other sources of God-knowledge = general revelation, although I don’t agree with how you’ve defined it. I supposed it’s heresy to refer to John Wesley here, but I think his Quadrilateral of sources of God-knowledge is useful, in order of priority: Bible (Special Revelation), Tradition-Reason-Experience (General Revelation). The basis for this is Psalm 19:1-4. You will need to deal with those verses if you wish to further defend your definition. Additionally, Eph 4 makes it clear that Jesus gave teachers (missiologists) as gifts to His church for the purpose of edification. Again, while we must always filter what teachers say with the Bible, it is an insult to God to completely disregard what other Christian scholars have to say.

    It is true that Dr. Hawkins has not “recanted” her initial statement, but she has adequately clarified her intent. It is not entirely accurate to say she has refused further discussions with the Wheaton administration. She recently disclosed that she met with the president as recently as last week, the provost on Jan 16, and that she is open to further dialog.

    I agree that ontology is the study of God’s nature and being. When I introduced the subject of ontology, it was in the context of the ontological argument being used to defend Dr. Hawkins’ initial statement. I believe it is a philosophical argument that has some merit. Beyond that, I’m not clear on what your point is about ontology. I think we agree what it is, but disagree in its use to defend the “same God” argument???

    I believe that the theology of God matters in all contexts. You have misunderstood me. When I say that I do not think correct theology requires a negative answer to the “same God” question in all contexts, I mean that in some contexts, it can be correct theology to answer in the affirmative. I understand that you don’t agree with me, but please do not misinterpret what I am saying. Again, to be clear, I agree that the Bible as the primary and final source of revelation is authoritative in all contexts. It’s also not clear to me how you feel justified in accusing me of holding beliefs that logically conclude in making God a created being….????

    I totally agree with everything that Kevin DeYoung said in this article. Dr. Hawkins even agrees with everything that he said. He himself admits to the difficulties of answering the question at the beginning of his article. I note that nowhere has he, or anyone else at TGC, for that matter, said that Dr. Hawkins should be terminated. She was wrong to say what she did, for many reasons. But her intent was missiological, not soteriological, and therefore does not provide an heretical cause for termination.

    I appreciate the interaction, and your lengthy response, Floyd, but I think we are talking at cross-purposes, and I do not think further dialog will be productive. I am interested in interacting with the ideas presented in the essays in the EMS Special Bulletin, nothing more. So, I ask again a question you have repeatedly ignored, have you read any of those essays?

  38. Floyd says:

    Mosessister,

    >>> “Other sources of God-knowledge = general revelation, although I don’t agree with how you’ve defined it. I supposed it’s heresy to refer to John Wesley here, but I think his Quadrilateral of sources of God-knowledge is useful, in order of priority: Bible (Special Revelation), Tradition-Reason-Experience (General Revelation). The basis for this is Psalm 19:1-4. You will need to deal with those verses if you wish to further defend your definition.”

    You really need to read the Bible more closely. As far as your citation of Psalm 19:1-4 supporting tradition, reason, and experience, that is a non-starter. Those are Roman Catholic’s unbiblical claims, and are very slippery and dangerous paths. You are reading into the text what is not there. That psalm does not support tradition, reason, or experience, and no amount of exegesis will make it read that way. It begins by pointing to the heavens and continues to point to the heavens. There is no mention of experience, tradition, or reason.

    Paul also states, “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20). You are incorrect in your handling of Scriptures.

    Again, you are going on a rabbit trail I mentioned I would not travel. Stick to the topic or what you claim will be ignored. It is not me who must support a clear biblical claim. You need to show how this psalm, through proper exegesis supports your claim. It does not. Besides, you do not understand Wesley’s quadrilateral. He never referred to revelation but to theological conclusions. Another point you missed and misunderstood about Wesley. Wesley did not give the name. Rather, Albert Outler coined it later on based on his opinion. You are wrong and unbiblical.

    >>> “When I introduced the subject of ontology, it was in the context of the ontological argument being used to defend Dr. Hawkins’ initial statement.”

    No you did not. You just mentioned it without explaining what you mean. That is called the logical fallacy of hasty generalization, and you make such generalizations quite frequently. Here is your statement:

    “However, the answer is less clear in the ontological, covenantal, missiological sense. Many respected conservative Christians agree that answer could be yes in the right context, IN THE MISSIOLOGICAL CONTEXT. Even Dr. Ryken himself has implicitly agreed that is an accepted and orthodox possibility.”

    You say nothing about ontological argument at this point. Also, your point about conservative Christians agreeing is just flat wrong. Again, I do not rely on men’s authority for the doctrine of God. Your “implicit” claim about Ryken is simply reading into what he says as you read into Scripture.

    No, we are not talking at “cross purposes” whatever you mean by that (Again, you muddy the waters with still more undefined terms). You are not clear in your writing, and you continue to revise what you claim, making a different unsupported claim while going off on rabbit trails, which I said I would not follow. It is not useful for you to continue to make unsupported claims, to generalize, and go off on rabbit trails. Unfortunately, you continue to takes these actions, making it difficult to carry on a discussion. I am not willing to engage in theological discussions with you, since you are unclear in your writing and continue to revise your claims. Goodbye.

  39. Maurice Mondengo says:

    Pastor Kevin,
    You are an extraordinary man! Did you say all of this from a Christian understanding or from your own understanding of the Muslim faith? I think you’re wrong to say that this is from a Christian understanding.
    I am a Christian like you but I am deeply chocked by your conclusion here. How did you get there? Did you listen to Holy Spirit before writing this article? How many times did you pray before putting down these lines?
    I beg you to take a course on Islam/ the Muslim faith and you will find out that( right there in Islam) there are some good things as well.
    Remember: bad people with wrong beliefs are everywhere. In the Christian faith as well.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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