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Franklin Graham ‘Disappointed’ Wheaton College Faculty Council Urging Reinstatement of Professor Who Compared Islam, Christianity

( [email protected] ) Jan 25, 2016 11:20 AM EST
The Rev. Franklin Graham has said he is "surprised and disappointed" amid reports that Wheaton College may be reconsidering its move to terminate the professor who suggested that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins made headlines after being placed on administrative leave following her assertion that Muslims and Christians worship the "same God". Stacey Wescott/AP

The Rev. Franklin Graham has said he is "surprised and disappointed" amid reports that Wheaton College may be reconsidering its move to terminate the professor who suggested that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

"Both my father Billy Graham and my mother attended Wheaton College in Illinois - in fact that'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 in December," Graham, who is the president of both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday.

"This is no minor issue that should be debated. Islam denies that God has a Son. They deny that Jesus is God," he added.

"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."

As reported by the Gospel Herald, Larycia Hawkins, a tenured political science professor at the Evangelical institution, took to Facebook on Dec. 10, 2015, to announce that she was going to wear a hijab throughout the Advent to show solidarity with Muslims.

While Wheaton does not have a specific position on headscarves, the professor was placed on paid administrative leave after stating that Muslims and Christians worship the same God -- a claim which contradicts the Evangelical institution's statement of faith.

After Wheaton College Provost Stanton Jones recommended termination proceedings, a number of Wheaton alumni signed a leader declaring that they would cease their financial support for the institution unless it reconsiders its stance.

In turn, Wheaton's faculty council unanimously voted to recommend that the college's leadership reverse its decision to have Hawkins fired.

Hawkins has since attempted to explain her theological argument by submitting a four-page statement to Jones, the Christian Post notes.

"I understand that Islam (and Judaism) denies the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and leaves no room for the Cross and the Resurrection, but my statement is not a statement on soteriology or trinitarian theology, but one of embodied piety," she wrote in her argument.

"When I say that 'we worship the same God,' I am saying what Stackhouse points out, namely that 'when pious Muslims pray, they are addressing the One True God, and that God is, simply, God.'"

She later rebuked those who have criticized Wheaton's administration for its handling of the matter, writing, "Recall, I donned the hijab out of solidarity. In the spirit of embodied solidarity, those of you who are inclined to wish ‪#‎WheatonCollege‬ and its associated members ill should shower Wheaton College and its students, staff, faculty, and administration with thoughts and prayers and actions that emanate love, grace, peace, and if necessary, forgiveness."

Graham also criticized Hawkins last month, saying she "obviously doesn't know her Bible or Islam."

"The God of the Bible sent His Son to Earth to die in our place and save us from our sins. The god of Islam requires you to die for him to be sure that you're going to Heaven. That's a huge difference - and there are many more examples," the evangelist wrote.

At the time, Graham applauded Wheaton for putting Hawkins on administrative leave, referring to the college as one of the "the premier evangelical universities in this country."