The controversy over statements made by Larycia Hawkins took on a life of its own. The philosophical debates regarding theories of reference are important in their own respect, but shouldn't be used to exegete her comments one way or another. The question is what she meant, and the underlying theology or ideology that informs her position. I'll comment on a few of her public statements, beginning with her initial Facebook post:
I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind--a cave in Sterkfontein, South Africa that I had the privilege to descend into to plumb the depths of our common humanity in 2014.
Although this hasn't gotten much attention (that I'm aware of), she apparently subscribes to theistic evolution. If so, that contradicts Wheaton's statement of faith, that affirms the special creation of Adam and Eve:
WE BELIEVE that God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race; and that they were created in His own image, distinct from all other living creatures, and in a state of original righteousness.
She also said:
I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.
Since Wheaton is a confessional evangelical college, appealing to the Pope is an illicit argument from authority.
Moving on to a later statement:
I am guided by evangelical theologians like Timothy George, John Stackhouse, Scot McKnight, and Miroslav Volf, as well as the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic tradition, as expressed in both encyclical form (e.g. Nostra Aetate 3.1) and Pontifical writings (e.g. John Paul II, "Crossing the Threshold of Hope").
i) Once again, the illicit appeal to Catholic authorities.
ii) Apropos (i), her syncretistic theology, in which she blends elements of evangelical theology with Catholic modernism. That's inconsistent with Wheaton's identity as a confessional evangelical institution. Ten years ago, Wheaton terminated a professor who converted to Catholicism:
There would, of course, be nothing wrong with her affirming elements of Roman Catholic theology that traditionally overlap elements of classic Protestant theology, but that's not what she's doing. Obviously, Catholics can say things we agree with, but she act as if quoting the pope or Vatican II gives her cover. But that has no cachet in Protestant though.
iii) By the same token, citing Volf is counterproductive inasmuch as Wheaton is supposed to be to the right of Yale Divinity school on the theological spectrum.
Finally, her appeal to John Stackhouse and Scot McKnight is ironic inasmuch as they disagree with her position:
Turning to a later statement.
We are Christians and Muslims and Jews and atheists who aver that all religions believe in justice.
But all religions don't believe in justice. That's another indication of her pluralistic outlook.
Wheaton College cannot scare me into walking away from the truth that all humans, Muslims, the vulnerable, the oppressed, are all my sisters and brothers.
Wheaton College cannot intimidate me into cowering in fear of the enemy of the month as defined by real estate moguls, Senators from Texas, Christians from this country, bigots, and fundamentalists of all stripes.
It’s striking to see how she divvies up the world between good guys and bad guys. On the one hand she talks about “all humans” as her “sisters and brothers.”
On the other hand, in the very next paragraph, she talks about “real estate moguls, senators from Texas, Christians from this country, bigots, and fundamentalists of all stripes.”
That’s the enemy. So her actual outlook is highly polarized rather than inclusive. She's ironically oblivious go her own visceral intolerance.
Wheaton College will never induce me to kowtow to their doublespeak concerning the Statement of Faith, so as to appease an imaginary constituency that clearly knows little about what academic freedom or Christian love mean; or to placate platinum donors to their coffers.
Notice the arrogant ingratitude. Where does she think the money comes to pay for her salary? To my knowledge, tuition isn't nearly enough to fund a college. It requires generous donors to make up the difference.