At evangelical liberal arts school Wheaton College, a professor was put on administrative leave last week for saying that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God”. The professor had also recently taken to social media to declare that she was going to wear a hijab in solidarity with Muslims facing bigotry in the America. Along with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, her biggest worry after an act of jihadi terrorism in America seems to be bigoted Americans.
That aside, her dismissal was not for the hijab stunt, but for her very distinct theological claim about Muslims and Christians supposedly worshipping the same God[note]And Wheaton has a great clarification and statement about it here[/note]. I have heard this claim a million times by people who have never read a theological work on any subject their entire lives, but since this story is being widely covered, it has been suggested that this is a legitimate conundrum in the theological world. For instance, here is an article from the Atlantic on the subject, which begins:
Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? It’s a question that has bedeviled theologians and everyday believers for centuries. And this week it may have cost a tenured professor her job.
It is a question that has bedeviled theologians for centuries?[note]Amazingly, this article was written by a former Wheaton student. [/note] Interesting. Can you provide one example? No. Because it hasn’t bedeviled any theologians, either Islamic or Christian. That is because both religions have their own very clear formulation or who and what God is, and they’re not compatible. This isn’t really a problem for serious students of either religion.
Now since you might be reading this and not have any interest in theological topics, I’ll just give you a brief overview. Christians believe God is a Trinity of Persons, sharing one common divine essence. One Lord, three Persons. This is the central dogmatic claim of Christianity. All theologians, church doctors and saints throughout the ages have proclaimed it. In addition, the Trinity has acted in history to achieve salvation by a very distinct method: the Incarnation. God himself became human. Jesus Christ is fully God. He is worshipped by Christians, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. If you disagree with any of these basic tenets of the Christian faith but still call yourself a Christian, you are outside of orthodox thought on the subject and the rest of Christendom and are therefore a heretic.
The contrast with the Islamic view of God couldn’t be more different. Islamic theology ceaselessly stresses that Allah is a total monad: one in every way, without any sort of qualification. Allah is one being, not three Persons sharing one essence. Furthermore, obviously Islamic theology doesn’t recognize the divinity of Christ (though they regard him as one of the greatest prophets of Allah).
Not only are these views of God irreconcilable in a purely abstract sense, but many implications follow from each idea. Each religion has a very different idea of what God wants from us.
So why the confusion about these things? Why don’t journalists and others commenting on the situation do a simple wikipedia search on the subject, if nothing else? Beats me. But a professor at a Christian college definitely has to know better.