Thursday, August 16, 2007

God? Double Dipping

The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding said in a recent Christian Century article titled "Episcopal Priest who embraced islam suspended for a year" that she is both Muslim and Christian. "I'm both an American of African descent and a woman. I'm 100 percent both. At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That's all I need." Redding told her story to the Seattle times in June.

Her Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf, suspended her for a year to "reflect on the doctrines of Christian faith and her vocation as a priest." Wolf states that he sees "the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam."

Our Peregrini discussion divided the conversation into several parts.

First, no one thought any bishop would take such an action against a lay person. Some of our group doubted that some bishops would even take a similar action against some priests that they suspicion might have similar leaning, or at least embrace another religion like Buddhism.

Second, there was some serious conversation given to the idea that the priest, as an employee of the church and having taken vows of holy orders has an obligation to be one who "proclaims the gospel." However, it was pointed out that it would be hard to find any priest that weren't in violation of such canons. Who would be the keeper of the "orthodoxy?" Would we be heading to more inquistions?

Third, some made the point, "who really cares?" Until religion can get over itself and begin understanding itself as all a part of One Holy God and not holy apostolic and catholic Church, it will be at the root of conflict and even war. Because we may not be able to accommodate The Rev. Redding, we probably are driving others who are eclectic in faith, away from the church as a whole. Just another form of fundamentalism? What do you think?


Martin said...

I do have concerns about this, because my understanding of Islam is that it doesn't have an understanding of Jesus as the Son of God - which is an orthodox Christian understanding.

And if priests say that they believe the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, and to contain all things necessary for salvation, and because we are a creedal church, I think there are some requirements placed on that.

Of course, I'm inconsistent because I don't think that people who question or reinterpret traditional dogmas (Bishop Spong, Matthew Fox, and several priests I know spring to mind) should be kicked out of the church.

I think there are boundaries and there are mechanisms in place to judge where those boundaries lie. If anything, I think this was the mechanism working as it is intended to work - regardless of whether or not this is how it *should* work.

4peregrini said...


Your point is well taken and one held by some others in the conversation. For priests who give ascent to the requirments of Holy Orders it does seem to cross the line of that commitment to which you correctly point out. I would ask, does the conversation swing differently for those persons not ordained and bound by a statement of faith?

Eρικ said...

First, I applaud Bishop Wolf for his actions. I do not think anyone should be "kicked out of the Church," but offering her a year of contemplation seems more than reasonable.

Second, orthodoxy is NOT fundamentalism.

In reality, orthodox Christianity asks for very few requirements placed on beliefs, among them:

-Belief in the Trinity
-Belief in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ
-Belief in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
-Belief that humanity is somehow reconciled to God through the person of Jesus Christ
-Belief that the Old and New Testaments contain "all things necessary for salvation"

That's about it.

Outside of that, you can believe anything you want, so long as it doesn't conflict with those core beliefs. (Because without those core beliefs, Christianity as any kind of cohesive world view/religion, will crumble into nonsense.)

I find orthodoxy very liberating - one is free to embrace (almost) any belief.

Ann Redding, however, chose to embrace a belief system which at its most basic level is, in fact, in direct conflict with the Trinitarian understanding of God, the Divine nature of Christ, the saving mission of Christ, the Resurrection of Christ, etc...

Third - With all due respect father, the comparison of the One Holy God and the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is a false dichotomy. Of course we should never replace our worship and reverence for God with worship of the Church.

Now, if we ask, "Who really cares? All religions are all the same, anyway," then we have arrived at the viewpoint of the Unitarian Universalist Assocation, not The Episcopal Church.

If we did accommodate Ann Redding, what message are we sending as a Church? How many more people seeking Christ, not Mohamed, would we alienate from the Church?

To wrap this up...

I wholeheartedly believe that Jesus said, and meant, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father, except by me."

Is Jesus the Truth? Yes.
Do other religions teach Truth? Yes.

It's not as if you have [Jesus]<-------------- over here, and -------------->[Truth] over here. It is an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic church that many who never heard the name Christ are following him unawares - that their faith is known to God alone.

So, why don't we just live and let live?

Well, that's precisely the point.

We have committed ourselves to the religion called Christianity. Therefore, that is what we practice and that is what we believe. We simply cannot afford to re-define it out of existence.

Likewise, we must respect those who have committed themselves to the religion called Islam. Or Judaism. Or Buddhism. Or Atheism. Should we demand that Muslims accept a believer of the Trinity as both Christian and Muslim?

Okay, last point here: By the way that Christianity has defined itself for the past 2,000 years, and by the way Islam has defined itself for the past 1,400 years - you simply CANNOT be both.

Redding says she is [...]both an American of African descent and a woman. I'm 100 percent both. Well, of course she is. But she's comparing race and gender, not race and race. You can't be both male and female, both 100% white and 100% black.

So, Redding is, say, 50% Christian and 50% Muslim?

50% is far more than enough for me to welcome her to pray with me on Sunday. 50% is far less than enough for me to call her "Reverend."