Thursday, December 17, 2015

One God

Regularly someone says to me, usually cheerfully, "well, there is only one God, right?" And regularly someone splutters about the only true and approved God, which of course is the one they claim to worship. I tend to wonder in both circumstances. In the former I wonder how much thought has been given to the reasons religions approach God differently. In the latter, it often seems that the speaker is revelling in the superiority of their notion of God. I am no longer surprised to discover that some of the "my God is better than your God" folk don't actually go to church or belong to a faith community. The statement is more tribal than relationally based.

This week a prof at an American Christian college was suspended because she said that there is only one God for all faiths and put on a headscarf as an aspect of her Advent devotion:

Larycia Alaine Hawkins, an associate professor who has taught at Wheaton since 2007, announced last week that she’d don the traditional headscarf as a sign of human, theological, and embodied solidarity. “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” she wrote in a Facebook post on December 10. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

Hawkins wasn't trying to be provocative, nor is she shallow. She is taking a stand in a moment of miserable Islamophobia, reminding all who might listen that we are called to common principles before God, despite our differences.

I strongly support what she is saying. Although I am Trinitarian in my personal theology and affirm Jesus as God incarnate, the living Christ, there is only one God. While I may disagree with brothers and sisters in some significant aspects of how they approach God, I benefit greatly from the conversation with Jews and Muslims and those devotees of other religions. In the same way I have learned humility (well, some!) in regard to other expressions of Christianity, I have travelled that road with other religions. We don't enter into this glibly, but with commitment.

I admire the courage of Hawkins in such a hostile climate. Her suspension probably has more to do with politics and fear than theology. I hope she is reinstated, and soon. I am pleased to hear that a number of faith leaders have stepped up to support her.


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