Sunday, 31 January 2016


Debate continues regarding the Wheaton College now-suspension of professor Dr. Larycia Hawkins and her comment about Muslims and Christians worshipping the same God. Various points of view have been put forward, ranging from "yes, you can say that" to "no you absolutely cannot say that", through "it really depends what you mean by worship" and still further twists in the debate. One point that has come up is the question of reference. If for a moment you could suspend the issue of what worship means, and substitute it for "refer to", then the "yes-you-can-say-that" party basically do gain ground. These referentials really get my head spinning... But what about fruit?

"Remember the fruit we ate yesterday, I just loved those apples, didn't you?"
"No! They weren't apples! They were pears!"

Same fruit?

Dale Tuggy (I think): Yes, they are the same fruit, but with serious differences in properties. One or both of these recollections has to be incorrect concerning the properties of this fruit.

If that analogy is applicable, then we assume that referring to God is a bit like referring to a category of item. But look what pops out the other end of the logic machine: The apple IS the pear! OK, no-one is saying that AN apple is A pear, for their properties verifiably and consistently differ. So the "apple" of person A is the "pear" of person B - this does indeed appear less ludicrous than initially appeared.

The case seems more obvious, until you look closer at the word WORSHIP. If this is understood as simply a mechanistic event, like singing, praying or bowing, then I think it can indeed be equated with the past event of eating the fruit. However, Dr Hawkins' statement is more in line with a more dynamic and experiential reality, which we could perhaps parallel in the fruit example with the word "savour". This then marks a point of departure from the static comparison, for the person savouring the pear and the person savouring the apple, regardless of the initial reality, are now indeed savouring different fruit, and not the same fruit.

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