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Question 6:

Do Christians and Muslims and Jews worship the same God?
(and our perspective on the controversy at Wheaton College)

If you are unaware of this issue, let me direct you to this Christianity Today article. (I wouldn't recommend Christianity Today typically, but this is a place where I believe they are reporting accurately.)

There is plenty you can find in writing on this issue with a simple Google search. The article I referenced does a good job of explaining the situation and the things that have been said. Please be careful in what you read and by whom, and be critical of how honest it is in conveying the actual truth of the situation.

There is an appropriate response to this situation from a Biblical perspective, and it is important that we understand the appropriate Biblical response to an issue of this nature. Instead of my re-writing what others have already said, and they with much more insight than I could offer, let me give you two links that I believe are helpful in being clear where we as a church stand on this issue.

First, this one from The Gospel Coalition: The ‘Same God’ Debate Is Too Important to Leave to Philosophers. (This article is worth every word, even if a bit long.)

And then this one from The Gospel Coalition: Once Again On Wheaton And Worshiping The Same God. (Short and to the point.)

As a point worth noting, the elders of WEBC have followed this situation from the beginning, and we have spent time in our elder meetings discussing the significance of these issues and how they may affect our community. We hold to the doctrinal points that are made clear in the two above referenced articles, and are willing to communicate that in our teaching, as well as any possible communication we have with those of Wheaton College.

Finally, let me summarize this in quoting our Lord, when he said, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)

We must not forget that God says that the truth is the cornerstone of worship, and it is clear that when it comes to truth, we do not stand in any way with those of the Islamic faith.

Again, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Thank you to Grant for this important question.

Because of Christ,
Pastor Jayson

As a follow-up to the above answer, this is our perspective on the situation at Wheaton College, where a professor there, among other things, made the claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same god.

Wheaton College released a statement. An excerpt from that article is as follows:

Wheaton College and Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Larycia Hawkins announce they have come together and found a mutual place of resolution and reconciliation. The College and Dr. Hawkins have reached a confidential agreement under which they will part ways.

“Wheaton College sincerely appreciates Dr. Hawkins’ contributions to this institution over the last nine years,” says Wheaton College President Dr. Philip Graham Ryken. “We are grateful for her passionate teaching, scholarship, community service and mentorship of our students.”

One thing that is often asked of me is if we as a church hold a particular position on any given issue, or if we discuss these things among the leadership. The answer is that while we often discuss issues such as this within the elders, we have no position, per se, for the affairs of Wheaton College.

However, we do have a position with regard to the larger issue at stake in this whole controversy, which is the question of if Christians and Muslims worship the same god. I will point you to the first APJ article I wrote if you want to understand what we believe, as I answer that question there.

However, our position on that theological issue does relate to the current decision by Wheaton College, and we have discussed this as elders in recent days. We understand that each organization must operate under their own ideals and structure, and without attempting to put ourselves in the position of dictating what Wheaton College should do or should have done, we do feel strongly about the manner in which this entire situation has been handled, especially as it relates to the witness for Jesus Christ in this area.

As a means to demonstrate the godly wisdom within the conversation of our elder board, as well as make clear what we have discussed, I want to share with you an excerpt from an email exchanged within the elder group. This email was written by Jim Fuoss, and it expresses plainly the content and the conviction of the consensus opinion of the elder board of WEBC.

Jim wrote this:

Her December 10 statement is what started the controversy (“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”)
It is possible that her theology has drifted in the nine years since she was hired or that she concealed her heresy when she was hired and tenured, so Wheaton College might be excused for having hired or even tenuring her. But their response to her heretical December 10 statement is unacceptably weak. She stands in stiff-necked refusal to repent of her statement while the college is groveling and backing away from disciplinary action.

Jim expresses well what each elder has conveyed in our meetings and discussions. Our concern has not been the actions of the the professor, as much as the lack of clear biblical response by the college in opposition to the statements and the heretical teaching from which they come.

Parting ways is important in this situation, and that decision is the business of the college and its administration. However, we believe that speaking the biblical truth about this issue is a much more important action to take, and there has been no public proclamation from any official representative of the college to that end. If anything, the college has hidden themselves and instead sought a type of reconciliation that is actually biblically impossible.

JC Ryle, a great theologian, once wrote:

Peace without truth is a false peace;
it is the very peace of the devil.
Unity without the gospel is a worthless unity;
it is the very unity of hell.

I would like to exhort everyone to a few things regarding this situation:

  1. Prayer for the men and women who lead Wheaton College, that they would be bold in standing up for truth in this situation
  2. Boldness for us that we would be faithful to proclaim truth if we are found in conversation regarding this situation.
  3. A desire in each of us to see unity around the one, true gospel, that the church might be found faithful to the "faith once and for all handed down to the saints."

If you have questions you would like answered, or have a question or comment about this article, please don't hesitate to write to me.

Because of Christ,
Pastor Jayson

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