I doubt you have been oblivious to the story of Larycia Hawkins, a tenured Wheaton College (IL) political science professor who announced she would wear a hijab during the entire Advent season as an expression of solidarity with our Muslim neighbors. Hawkins’ avowed reasoning for undertaking this public demonstration was her assertion that Christians and Muslims are, after all, “people of the book.” Called upon by the Wheaton College administration to clarify her assertion relative to the college’s Evangelical Statement of Faith, Hawkins has steadfastly refused to equivocate.
Solidarity with our Muslim neighbors
So, what about professor Hawkins’ assertion that, Muslims are “people of the book”? As the leader of the Association for Biblical Higher Education, I feel compelled to consider the question. Notwithstanding the wide and well-documented range of differences between Islam and biblical Christianity do we nevertheless have in common that we are people of the book?
Muhammad’s exclusive claims
It is undeniable that Islam’s founder, Muhammad, strongly asserted the basic continuity of the Koranic revelation with that of the Bible, particularly the Jewish (Old Testament) scriptures and its patriarchal history. On the other hand, Muhammad insisted that he be recognized as the true and final prophet of the one true God, Allah. The confession, there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His prophet comprises the first article of the Muslim creed. According to the Qur’an (3:17; 4:47; 8:13), refusal of this confession represents grounds for ruthless slaughter. Enter Islamic fundamentalism. The implication is clear, Islamic faithfulness involves vehement, even visceral insistence that the revelation received through Muhammad and recorded in the Qur’an succeeds and supersedes the biblical canon.
Love and mercy
I am genuinely appalled and repulsed by much of the contemporary anti-Islamic bigotry and political bombast concerning our Muslim neighbors. Nevertheless, loving Muslims sincerely and well cannot involve the concession that, we are all people of the book. The Epistle to the Hebrews asserts, Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
As artist-theologian Michael Card puts it,
When the Father’s Wisdom wanted to communicate His love,
He spoke it in one final perfect Word.
God’s exclusively authorized and authenticated prophet and revelatory Word is none other than His divine Son, The Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone–Muhammad included–who claims authorship of a subsequent and superior revelation, is an impostor.
What is required of we “people of the book”
Those of us in biblical higher education are avowedly people of the book. That allegiance may be costly in the coming days, but abandonment of biblical exclusivity will be far more costly in the light of eternity.
Fresh gleanings to fuel your leadership awareness, reflection, and conversations …
In this December 31st Federalist essay, Breakpoint associate editor Shane Morris eloquently exposes the media’s hypocritical and ignorant pretension as arbiters and interpreters of Christian theology. People of the book indeed …
My Dad was a good friend of Jim Elliot in college, so the story of the five 1956 missionary martyrs in Ecuador has always occupied a tender place in my heart. Steve Saint, son of martyred pilot Nate Saint, takes time on the January 8, 2016 60th anniversary of that atrocity to reflect on the astonishing story God has been writing ever since. This short video offers a refreshing reminder that God is all about making people new.