Saturday, January 09, 2016

Theology as Logos...

The American eangelical school Wheaton College has apparently decided to fire one of their professors, Dr. Larycia Hawkins for stating that Christians and Muslims pray to the same G-d. Wheaton claims that this statement violates their profession of faith, which the institution requires all staff and students to assent to. The institution has come in for criticism: some strong, and some balanced between support and criticism. Some of the support they have received makes specific reference to the need for institutions of learning committed to a specific viewpoint to ensure all the scholars adhere to that viewpoint; to, as Rod Dreher's comments put it, "police their theological boundaries". Whatever the value of setting limits to enquiry in a religious school, doing so carries a risk: that the school may end up enforcing an logically contradictory position. You can't alter a logical conclusion by firing someone for following it.

Start with an element of basic Christian theology: G-d as universal, the Creator of all things. We know (and can prove) that by its very Nature language does not and cannot encompass the universal (Gödel's proof). Therefore, as Paul (1 Corinthians 13:12) says: we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
It therefore follows that if we pray to G-d simply as we conceive G-d to be, we necessarily pray to an incomplete idea of G-d. As  C. S. Lewis put it, we must, logically, pray to G-d as G-d knows G-d's self to be. If we do this in humility, acknowledging our inadequacy to fully conceive of G-d but directing our worship to the great "I am" (Exodus 3:14), and if Muslims do the same, then they and we necessarily pray to the same G-d. And if we do not, if we pray to our conception of G-d, then we can only hope in humility for G-d to bridge the inevitable gap between the limited concepts in our minds and the transcendent reality. And if Muslims do the same, do we dare ask that G-d not grant them the same mercy?