Larycia Hawkins has undoubtedly put Wheaton College in a politically delicate position.

As a conservative Christian College, who do you want to offend?

If you discipline your own professor for daring to suggest that Christians and Muslims might be worshiping the same God, you risk alienating a few students and a part of the Christian community who do not support your college anyway.

If you ignore Professor Hawkins, you risk running foul of Franklin Graham who commands a substantial financial base of support for Wheaton. Mr. Graham finds Larycia Hawkins comments shameful. Here is his rationale posted on Facebook (always the best place for carrying on serious theological discourse):

FranklinAs Miroslav Volf pointed out in the Washington Post (

Certainly the God of Judaism “doesn’t have a son.” And the God of Judaism did not send the son he doesn’t have “to earth to die in our place and save us from our sins.”

If Graham genuinely believes that Muslims and Christians do not “worship the same God”, he is bound to say the same about Christians and Jews. This would mean that Jesus as a Jew did not worship the same God Christians worship, which is a curious claim.

Mr. Graham, like the Muslims from whom he is so eager to distance himself, is a man of the book. The problem for Mr. Graham is that the book he honours defines God as “love” (I John 4:8). And shockingly, the book Mr. Graham reveres suggests that

everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (I John 4:7)

It is hard to imagine that this vision of God would not be vastly more upsetting to Mr. Graham than the version proposed by Larycia Hawkins.

According to John, to love is to know God because God, before anything else, is the power and presence of love.

Christians see this power of love embodied and active in the person of Jesus. There is no evidence whatsoever in Scripture that the power of love is entirely absent from the world apart from Jesus. To suggest such a preposterous proposal is to dismiss Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Ruth, and all the prophets, not to mention Mary the mother of Jesus as having had any knowledge of God.

Even Paul was willing to concede that the Athenians who had an altar to an “unknown god” were worshiping the same God as the God Paul found in Christ: Acts 17:23.

Mr. Graham seems intent on dividing the world. He wants to focus on things that separate the human community. He is interested in differences. He was no doubt raised on Sesame Streets – “One of these things is not like the other” – and is determined to navigate through life by identifying distinctions because distinctions help him know who is in and who is out, who is right and who is wrong.

The world in which I get to know who is in and who is out feels like a safer world. There is a certain security in the illusion that I am the only one who is right and that, unless you agree with me, you do not belong.

But the worldview that focuses primarily on distinction and difference leads to a sadly truncated view of life. It is a small god who cannot be even remotely known outside the narrow confines of Christian formulations.


this seems a worthwhile piece of wisdom Mr. Graham might want to heed: