Sunday, July 08, 2007

Episcopal Priest suspended because she's also a Muslim

The Episcopal priest who called herself "both a practicing Muslim and an Episcopal priest" has been suspended for a year. Originally her bishop had accepted her dual faith but it turns out that he isn't her bishop. Her actual bishop isn't so open minded:

The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, a local Episcopal priest who announced she is both Muslim and Christian, will not be able to serve as a priest for a year, according to her bishop.

During that year, Redding is expected to "reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and what I see as the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam," the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf, bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island, wrote in an e-mail to Episcopal Church leaders.

Redding was ordained more than 20 years ago by the then-bishop of Rhode Island, and it is that diocese that has disciplinary authority over her.

During the next year, Redding "is not to exercise any of the responsibilities and privileges of an Episcopal priest or deacon," Wolf wrote in her e-mail. Wolf could not be reached for immediate comment.


Some wonder how a Christian can also be a Muslim when the two faiths are so diametrically opposed. Christians worship the Son of God and believe that while God is one, he is also triune. They believe that Jesus is God incarnate (in the flesh) and that Christ died and was raised again and is seated on the right hand of God the Father and he shall return to judge the living and the dead. Muslims believe that Christ was a prophet and not the Son of God, that he isn't God incarnate and that God is one. How can two different views of God be reconciled so that someone can think they are a believer of both?

It's easy for liberals like Redding, who don't believe in the historic doctrines of the Christian faith and don't believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible:
Redding's views, even before she embraced Islam, were more interpretive than literal.

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.

What makes Jesus unique, she believes, is that out of all humans, he most embodied being filled with God and identifying completely with God's will.

She does believe that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected, and acknowledges those beliefs conflict with the teachings of the Quran. "That's something I'll find a challenge the rest of my life," she said.

She considers Jesus her savior. At times of despair, because she knows Jesus suffered and overcame suffering, "he has connected me with God," she said.

That's not to say she couldn't develop as deep a relationship with Mohammed. "I'm still getting to know him," she said.
If you do not take the Bible literally, then you can create any kind of Christ you want, even a Muslim Christ. Ignore the things that Christ said about himself, ignore what Paul said about him as well. Also, ignore what is said about Christians in the Koran and only focus on what feels good. Then you can reconcile Christianity and Islam.

When we base what we believe is true on our feelings, then we leave ourselves open to whatever strikes our whim at the time. Muslim, Christian what does it matter if it makes us happy, if it makes us feel like we've had a religious experience and has drawn us closer to God?


  1. Debbie said...
    Good news. I posted on this priest and it's just crazy. You cannot be Christian AND Muslim, no way. I know the Episcopals have gone liberal, but surely not THAT liberal.
    chief in charge of blogging said...

    I did a search on creating hyperlinks and came across your blog. I find it very interesting and look forward to reading more from you!
    michele said...
    Welcome and thanks!
    Moonshadow said...
    Commonweal's blog picked this story up (not from you ...).

    And, while the comment thread gets highjacked as so often happens by breaking news, one of the reader's reaction is, well, witty:

    "...a good way to have a timeout."

    Sounds like the disciplinary procedures in the Episcopal Church are modelled after those in pre-school.

    Maybe Redding's next punishment will be to write one hundred times on the board, "I will not be a Muslim and a Christian."
    Frances said...
    New reader to your blog - and COMPLETELY agree with you. I don't see how anyone can be both. It just doesn't make any sense in the slightest.

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