We are slowly getting more information about the Larycia Hawkins case at Wheaton College. In this article at the website of Time, several more Wheaton professors speak out in defense of Hawkins.
Elizabeth Dias, the Time reporter on the story, and a Wheaton graduate (she doesn’t identify herself in this way in the byline), has obtained access to e-mails written by provost Stanton Jones to Hawkins and other faculty members.
Is it strange that we have yet to hear from Wheaton president Philip Ryken? This is not meant to be cynical. Jones seems to be taking all the heat. Wheaton College is getting skewered in the press and the blogopshere, but the Ryken has been silent. (Unless I am missing something–which could very well be the case).
I also wonder how this affair is influencing the recruitment of new faculty at Wheaton. We are in the midst of the academic job season. Interviews are being conducted. On-campus visits are being scheduled. What are these potential faculty members thinking as they go through this process?
And what about the students who are applying for admission? I am guessing that this whole affair will lead many evangelical high school students to feel even more confident about attending Wheaton College. But others may decided to go elsewhere. Whatever the case, today is the application deadline.
And if Hawkins does eventually get terminated, what would this say about the current state of American evangelicalism, and its future?
Here is a taste of Dias’s report, published about an hour ago:
The Wheaton College provost overseeing an expulsion trial against a tenured professor who said Christians and Muslims worship the same God wrote in a private email last month that her comments were “innocuous” but that they had created a public relations disaster for the Illinois college.
“Articles are already being written in a variety of news sources, and the media are pounding on our door asking for comments about our faculty who are endorsing Islam,” wrote Provost Stanton Jones, in a December 11 email obtained by TIME to Wheaton Psychology professor Michael Mangis. “We are being asked to defend why we have faculty openly rejecting with the institution stands for.”
The scandal, which has engulfed the evangelical college in Illinois, began a day earlier, when the school’s first-ever tenured black female professor, Larycia Hawkins, wrote a Facebook post declaring solidarity with Muslims following the San Bernardino terrorist attacks. “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” Hawkins wrote on Facebook. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”
Since then the campus has divided, as many fellow professors begin to defend her comments while the administration has begun a proceeding that could lead to her termination for reasons that include her Facebook post. In interviews this week with TIME, several of her fellow faculty spoke out against the administrative proceeding against her. “I have seen no theological argument from the college that would deem her commitments unacceptable,” Gary Burge, professor of New Testament, tells TIME. “[Hers] is a clear, compelling affirmation of what we believe in Wheaton’s Statement of Faith.”
Professors and students at Wheaton sign the school’s “Statement of Faith,” a doctrinal statement that draws on historic Christian creeds and summarizes biblical principles of evangelical Christianity. The statement does not define a relationship between evangelical Christianity and Islam, and there is longstanding division within the evangelical community about the variations of belief that should be allowed.
In the comment section under Hawkins’ original Facebook post, Mangis, the psychology professor, had written to defend Hawkins’ statement in early December. “If you get any grief at work give me a heads-up because I’ll be leading my spring psychology of religion class in Muslim prayers,” he wrote.
Read the rest here.