A recent article in the Seattle Times yielded an interesting and unique proclamation by the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, an Episcopal priest in the Seattle area. The title of the story, “I am both Muslim and Christian,” speaks for itself. In the article, Rev. Redding confesses to be both an Episcopal priest and a practicing Muslim. She states that her conversion as a Muslim has given her insights into Christianity. In essence her claim is that becoming a Muslim has made her a stronger Christian. Redding says, “At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That’s all I need.”
There are many issues concerning Rev. Redding’s confession of faith. Contrary to her belief, Christianity and Islam are not compatible. It is true that they share a few historical figures in Abraham and Jesus. According to Islam, Jesus is merely a prophet, not the Son of God who was sacrificed for the sins of humanity. To a Muslim, Jesus is not the only way to God the Father. For Christians, Jesus is God in the flesh. He came down and sacrificed himself to bear our punishment for sin and reconcile humanity to God. He is the only way to God the Father. This fundamental difference cannot be reconciled between the two belief systems. The very core of their identity puts them at odds with one another. Leaders in both religions have spoken out in the same manner.
“There are tenets of the faiths that are very, very different,” said Kurt Fredrickson, director of the doctor of ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. “The most basic would be: What do you do with Jesus?”
“The theological beliefs are irreconcilable,” said Mahmoud Ayoub, professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion at Temple University in Philadelphia. Islam holds that God is one, unique, indivisible. “For Muslims to say Jesus is God would be blasphemy.”
This profession by Rev. Redding is not a great work of logic, reason, or reconciliation between two opposing belief systems and worldviews. Redding admits this herself. “It wasn’t about intellect,” she said. “All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be.” How can you be two things that cannot coexist? Naturally there is always something behind a statement of this sort. Something has to give. That something is often the person of Jesus, the character of God, or the view of God’s Word. As the article reports:
She believes the Trinity is an idea about God and cannot be taken literally.
She does not believe Jesus and God are the same, but rather that God is more than Jesus.
She believes Jesus is the son of God insofar as all humans are the children of God, and that Jesus is divine, just as all humans are divine — because God dwells in all humans.
To make matters worse, Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner (Redding’s bishop) says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting. There is nothing exciting about her profession. It does reveal many things. It makes clear the state of the Episcopal church in America. It is a sign of the culture and world we live in today. It also reveals the anti-intellectual attitude that some people take in regards to Christian faith (as if you can separate the head from the heart). It also shows disregard for the Word of God.