Wheaton College suspends God for wearing human clothes

"Wheaton College Suspends God" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Wheaton College Suspends God” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

[GET THE ORIGINAL DRAWING OR A PRINT OF THIS CARTOON HERE!]

A significant, long-standing member of Wheaton College has been placed on administrative leave because he dressed like a human being.

God, the actual inspiration behind the private evangelical college in Chicago’s suburbs, announced long ago that he would come to this world as a human being to express his support for the human race. This included wearing our clothes.

“I stand in solidarity with human beings because, well, they are created in my image and I love them,” God said.

But his gesture concerns many people, including evangelical Christians, who see his actions as a conflation of human and divine.

“While God and people are both special and are somewhat related, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two, including the nature of God… that is, the holiness of God and the sinfulness of the human race; the nature of salvation… that is, people should be going up to God, not God coming down to us; and the nature of the spiritual life… that is, we need God, he doesn’t need us!”

“Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion, and theological clarity,” the college said in a statement. “As they participate in various causes, it is essential that they engage in and speak in such a way that faithfully represent the college’s evangelical Statement of Faith.

“God’s intentions were likely good. He probably just wanted to express his desire to identify with people in their struggles and show them that he loves them. But he went a little too far and actually dressed like us, talked like us, and even ate with hung out with… well… some pretty questionable characters. We can’t believe he would defile his holiness in such a vulgar way! It’s just not like him.”

They said it’s one thing to wear human clothes, but it’s the theological implication that’s most controversial and disturbing.

Some people, including many Wheaton College students, have expressed support for God’s actions. One person said she was dismayed to hear that some view God’s gesture as compromising to himself. “It’s disappointing that showing solidarity means that you are somehow sacrificing your own identity,” she said. “Just because he became a human being doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s no longer God. Does it? I mean, maybe what God did was to reveal that, in a way, human beings are kind of divine. Perhaps God was saying he was wholly God and wholly human, and that the adverse was now also true… that we are wholly human and wholly God. Could God’s incarnation as human be his way of saying we’re together, we’re united, we’re one?”

It’s been reported that God was baffled but not totally surprised by his dismissal. He said it’s happened many times before. His frequent expressions and gestures of solidarity with the human race have often been rejected. But he really didn’t expect it from his own people. He said it reminds him of a verse in the bible: “He came to his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).

For those who dismissed God’s incantational gesture, they are relieved. They think God is comfortably seated on his heavenly throne judging us for not being evangelical enough.

(I want to give credit to the Chicago Tribune’s article on Larycia Hawkins’ dismissal from Wheaton College, Wheaton College suspends Christian professor who wore a hijab, for providing me with the inspiration and an outline to write this satirical piece.)

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19 Responses

  1. Sabio Lantz says:

    Thanks for the link to the article.
    I am a graduate of Wheaton College — and was treated as an outsider while there because as I was not raised in a Jesus-Jesus-Jesus culture (evangelical or otherwise). Heck, I even had a Jesus appearance that was bothersome to many. (see my middle photo here)

    Interestingly, the article points out that the prof’s major sin was saying that “Muslims and Christians worship the same god.” Again, “God Talk” — talking about God correctly — geez, I wish everyone would give it up. I just read several blogs arguing about the word “tuhan” — the Malay word for God. Some protested its use instead of “Allah” because, agreeing with other Muslims that Muslims and Hindus don’t worship the same god — complicated discussions but same as the Christian bullshit. Religious folks all do the same nonsense and they think they are unique.

    My favorite professor at Wheaton (my theology prof) got in huge trouble for two things: (1) a divorce, (2) switching/converting from Baptist to Episcopal — and then teaching students the complexity. He has not passed a way — Robert Webber.

  2. Adam Julians says:

    Brilliantly satired with the cartoon and words David.

    I have a friend that believes that Muslims an Christians worship a different God so I get the “Evangelical ” point but to ban someone for showing solidarity with Muslims in the light of recent events is yes, I agree rejecting someone just as Jesus was rejected for identification with the marginalised.

  3. Planmeister says:

    See, at some point you have to ask hard questions about the MOST BASIC premise.

  4. Randy says:

    Wheaton alum here: It gets better. Now they are saying it’s because she had the audacity to say that Christians and Muslims worship the same God! It’s like the promise to Hagar and Ishmael doesn’t really count, because they didn’t accept Jesus as their Savior… When will the madness end?

  5. Shazza tha dazzla says:

    Great cartoon and blog David. You cut through it like a very sharp knife! The pompous distaste of sharing a god with another religion, and the shock of seeing “one of their own” wearing the “other’s” religious garb as well. The pious need to be the “rightest” of religions. How incredibly sad. But only to be expected I guess of a system that has a very narrow range of belief.

    I know an allumni of Wheaton College, and the pedantic way he picks me up on some words or phrases I use may not be indicative of the college, but it’s BLOODY annoying! 🙂

  6. Thanks guys for your comments and input!! Awesome.

  7. Andrew Kuder says:

    I am a recent graduate of Wheaton, and during my time there, without question, there were certainly things that faculty and students did that were more non-mainstream than wearing a hijab. Some students wore prayer scarves, students went barefoot and cloaked to celebrate St. Tolkein and his hobbits (obviously a joke please don’t take that part seriously, also check out Wheaton’s Wade Center, shameless plug), but seriously, knowing the administration of the school, and the general vibe on campus, there’s no question that wearing a hijab, or a prayer scarf, or a burka would have been fine, especially if done during advent and absolutely if helping express religious freedom under the first amendment, which Wheaton College has been fighting under the affordable care act for the past several years on theological and first amendment concerns.

    To call Dr. Hawkin’s temporary suspension an act of prejudice against garb, or a reflex move against anything but Christianity is to demean Wheaton College, one of the best evangelical and protestant institutions in the world, to nothing more than a high school drop out tea party protestor. It is clear, through repeated statements from the college, that Dr. Hawkin’s suspension is based on the very firm theological statement she made in saying Christians and Muslims worship the same God. It is absolutely fair for Wheaton to assess the theological implications of her statement, not only to assess their truth, but also to decide whether such an statement is an open handed or close handed issue for the college (such as baptism, etc.). For fellow Christians to implicate one of the beacons for Christian thought in the 21st century as a bigoted, senseless, reactionary institution, is equivalent to denying the ultimate conclusions and results of Wheaton’s work in the 21st century up until this point, which as a graduate living in a secular world, has been mostly of incredible benefit not only to our world, but the kingdom beyond.

    I’d ask that such a conversation, especially among Christians, be guided towards a peaceful discussion of the issues, instead of slandering an institution that has created some of the most influential christian leaders, famous or not, of the 20th and 21st century.

  8. Douglas says:

    I don’t understand how anyone in their right mind can claim that Christians, Jews and Muslims do not worship the same God. Christianity borrowed God from Judaism, and Islam borrowed God from Christianity and Judaism. They are known as the monotheistic religions for a reason. The prophet Muhammad, PBUH, was righting what he thought was the wrongs, perpetuated by Christianity and Judaism. However, this view presupposes the existence of God. Not all presuppose that God exists.

  9. Adam Julians says:

    Andrew,

    What I am hearing from you is describing Wheaton College as a “beacon” and “one of the best evangelical and protestant institutions in the world” and you implication is that David is a “fellow Christian” that is slandering the institution.

    I’m a graduate with an honours in theology and masters in biblical interpretation form the International Christian College in Glasgow, Scotland. I make claims about it as you have about Wheaton.

    As mentioned, my friend considers that Muslims and Christians worship a different God. He also is a graduate form the same college. I don’t have a problem with thinking of Muslims worshiping the same God as Christians, the God of Abraham, or with Muslim converts to Christianity calling God “Allah.” It is something that was a great issue for debate in the common room at college with those of us there coming to differing conclusions about that. The college I was at encouraged free thinking and did not prescribe what one shoulf conclude on this.

    I agree with you about having a “peaceful” discussion. In the light of that, I respectfully disagree with your conclusion about alleged slander. I think on this occasion Wheaton has made a mistake of suspending someone showing solidarity with Muslims. I think within Evangelicalism there can be an inclination (as with all human groups) to have hostility to those who think differently to prevailing thought and I think this is what has happened here. The principle of ICC Richard Tiplady has rightly commented “existing forms of Christian worship and community do not attract outsiders (and may even repel them). There should be no offence except the cross of Christ” Tiplady R, 2011 ‘The Pilgrim Church Needs a New Home’ p145 in R Dowsett (ed.) Global Mission Pasadena: William Carey Library

    Surely the strength of an institution or a theological standpoint is in it’s willingness to be as challenged as to offer a challenge. To those outside of Wheaton, I suggest the actions taken point to a decision made over a debatable theological position to the detriment of support for solidarity with ordinary Muslims in the face of a likely backlash from extremist Islamic terrorism. Some would conclude that the college has not got it’s priorities right on this occasion.

    Having said that, it sounds like your experience at college, like mine was a great one and I wish you every fulfillment in practicing what you have studied there.

  10. Gary says:

    It seems to me that the statement many have made that we all worship the same God is not really on point for the issue. Of course if there is a supreme being that reality is unchanged by our beliefs so I get what they are trying to say. But the question driving the issue here is specifically the beliefs involved. Christians of course worship Jesus as God and the embodiment and revelation of His nature. They also believe that to deny Him is to deny God (the Father) entirely. Muslims of course reject the deity of Jesus entirely and though identify Him as a prophet, place Him below Mohamed. I know this is basic religion 101 here. But it is pretty easy to see why a Christian University would take issue with such a claim.

  11. Sabio Lantz says:

    Religion is so much more than beliefs. It is allegiances, politics, nationalism and much more. It is flags, pride, identity and such.

    So when they say Muslims and Christians don’t worship the same God — they aren’t talking theology (though they may ostensibly say they do) — they simultaneous mean: our stories, our holidays, our worship, our customs, our songs, our politics and all that are very, very different. And they’d be right.

  12. I do understand why a Christian college would do this, but I think it’s being challenged to stretch its theological imagination here.

  13. Adam Julians says:

    Yes and I can see how it would struggle with that.

  14. Andrew Kuder says:

    Adam,

    I appreciate your perspective on the issue and respect your background which informs your opinion. I want to emphasize the second paragraph of my comment, but even more specifically, that the issue is theological, and that the college has not only taken time to assess whether they agree with Dr. Hawkins’ statement, but also taken time to assess whether or not this is an open handed or closed handed issue for the college (like baptism, etc.).

    I think the entire Christian community is benefited by the open discussion on this issue, not only for the purpose of reaching a conclusion, but also because of the instruction that it brings to people that may not be familiar with the issues through talking through something that may seem arbitrary (Dr. Hawkins comments). Quite frankly, I don’t know where I stand on Dr. Hawkins’ theological comments about Christians worshiping the same God. But I also know that it is quite possible that Wheaton College’s administration does not know officially where they stand either. It’s a bold question that hasn’t really hasn’t been a part of the public conversation in recent times in evangelical communities. Its equally possible that Dr. Hawkins will be reinstated as it is that she will not be allowed to teach any longer at this point, so I think it is premature to accuse the college of “suspending God” (even in the satirical fashion it was presented in here) when the college is assessing whether or not they believe Dr. Hawkins’ comments line up with a sound reading of scripture, which informs us of who God is.

    Furthermore, I want to emphasize that this article seems to inaccurately suggest that Dr. Hawkins was suspended for wearing a hijab. Quite frankly, and I emphasize graduating from Wheaton recently as part of my evidence for this, aside from a few students, no one would be offended or care if Dr. Hawkins wore a hijab, very much including the administration, even if it was for the rest of her life. It seems that the press has been emphasizing this, and it is unfortunate that a publication such as the naked pastor, which should know that Dr. Hawkins’ statement held significant theological weight, chooses to emphasize the non-factor in Wheaton’s decision.

    I don’t really feel that it is necessary to try to correct CNN or the New York Times for getting the story wrong, but among Christians, we should hold each other to a different standard as Paul made clear. I believe this is a standard which emphasizes truth and doesn’t belittle members of our community to common bigotry when it is clear that what occurred was absolutely nothing of the sort.

  15. Gary says:

    Well asking a Christian college to accept a view which is directly contrary to it’s most basic foundational premise, a belief which literally denies the very core of their faith, might be a bit more than simply stretching their theological imagination. 😉

  16. Adam Julians says:

    Andrew,

    I don’t doubt that what you are saying is true about the college’s position theologically and whether that is consistent with Dr.Hawkins or not. So then I would still suggest that this is debatable theologically. Didn’t the pope state a position similar to that of Dr. Hawkins. You rightly make a statement about Christians and a standard set by Paul about debatable issues.

    I hear your point about David and the cartoon appearing to portray this about suspension over an issue of dress and your concern over the phrase “suspending God”. However the nature of this site is that it is satirical primarily as you acknowledge and it is not surprise that hypoerbole be used in such context and did Jesus with religious authorities.

    One could argue metaphorically for a theological position by way of being “clothed in righteousness.” I think there is nothing wrong with solidarity with Muslims in worshiping the same God although there obvious differences epitomised by differing positions on Jesus. Therefore I think it wrong for her to be suspended although I respect the theological rigour by the college in coming to its decision on this and respect that there is a different theological position held by the college. Disagreeing isn’t always bad but never disagreeing is.

    As you brought Paul up, what I will mention is what he talked of with grace toward and reputation with outsiders. I would suggest therefore that although it it a clear struggle for the college, the wider Christian imperative might be best served with the college considering its position and as to whether the one it currently holds is the product of human tradition or not.

    Agree with you of the non-belittling nature of conversation and it is always my pleasure to wrestle with issues of a theological nature with mutual respect. I was just recently saying here that I miss those kind of conversations that were had in the common room at college!

  17. Peter says:

    This entire satire is based on a misunderstanding of the situation at Wheaton. The professor was not placed on paid leave because of wearing a hijab, but because of her statement that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. It is frustrating to see people drag Wheaton through the mud based on false premise.

  18. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ peter,
    I agree with part of what you said.
    I am a former Wheaton grad. I noticed too that this issue is theology, not garb.
    But dragging Wheaton through the mud for this ridiculous, hateful theology is a great thing to do.
    And I thought it was very creative the way David did this.

  19. Rachael says:

    So, it has been proposed that as a matter of fact Muslims and Christians worship the same deity. What is then meant by that? What are the practical and theological implications of that statement? Are we saying Christians shouldn’t share the gospel with Muslims? Are we saying Muslims will enter heaven upon death?

    Dr. Hawkins clearly believes her statement to be something other than a non sequitur. So what does she (and the author of this blog) mean?

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