Christian and Muslim?


I have no problem holding two opposing theological views at the same time: God created the universe and millions of years of evolution produced every form of life in it. Government is God’s servant to us for good (Romans 13:1-7) and government is always ready to eat us alive (Revelation 13:1-7). The Bible is God’s word and the Bible is the word of people stuggling to know God.  Jesus of Nazareth was a man, born of a woman, who sweated, pooped, laughed, cried and begged God not to let him get nailed to a cross. A prophet, a rabbi, a miracle worker, but still a man. Yet somehow, Jesus of Nazareth is Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten, not made, of One Being with the Father (or Mother, if you prefer). 


And it’s that last contradiction that makes the curious case of Ann Holmes Redding so wrenching for me. Redding was defrocked as an Episcopal priest on Thursday after she refused to recant her beliefs in Islam. According to CNN:

Redding said her conversion to Islam was sparked by an interfaith gathering she attended three years ago. During the meeting, an imam demonstrated Muslim chants and meditation to the group. Redding said the beauty of the moment and the imam’s humbleness before God stuck with her.

“It was much more this overwhelming conviction that I needed to surrender to God and this was the form that my surrender needed to take,” she recalled. “It wasn’t just an episode but …. was a step that I wasn’t going to step back from.”

Ten days later Redding was saying the shahada — the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Mohammad as his prophet.

But Redding said she felt her new Muslim faith did not pose a contradiction to her staying a Christian and minister.

Redding maintains that she still believes in the God of Abraham and the God of Jesus, and that God is the One God of Islam. One cannot argue with the logic of that. Jews, Christians and Muslims share the Abrahamic insistence on monotheism. Their holy books all claim that they are worshipping the God worshipped by Abraham. But while one might argue that one can be true to Judaism (at least in its messianic form) and still be a Christian (after all, St. Paul regularly worshipped in synagogues), is it really possible to go a step further and say that one can be both a Christian and a Muslim? 

While I admire Redding’s willingness to stand firm in her new-found faith, she is obviously ignoring the absolutism of both Christianity and Islam. The claims of Jesus (especially in the fourth Gospel) don’t leave any room for mergers and acquisitions between church and mosque. And the Koran is pretty specific in saying that God has no son, and that Jesus is only the son of Mary (virgin born, no less–Surah 19).

That is not to say that faithfulness to Christ means that God did not work through the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) any more than it means that God did not work through the prophets of Israel. Though Christianity and Islam each require submission (islam) to God, Christianity insists that submission is mediated by Christ and Islam that it is done directly without a mediator. 

Respecting Muslims as fellow travelers on the road towards God is both faithful and scriptural. (If I actually had any readers, that sentence would engender hate mail, but I can type it knowing that no one will read it anyway.) Christians have much to learn from Muslims about faithfulness in prayer, devotion to God and justice for the poor. And Muslims have much to learn from Christians about forgiveness and grace. But attempting to syncretize the mediator/no mediator conundrum does an injustice towards both Christianity and Islam. I wish I could reconcile those two notions. But I can’t and neither can Redding.

Ann Holmes Redding is a faithful Muslim. Thanks be to God. 

But she is no longer a Christian. 

4 thoughts on “Christian and Muslim?

  1. Well, you’ve got one reader, but I’m busy hating on the banana cake someone brought for a birthday celebration (Bananas are icky!) Does that count as hate mail?

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  2. Asalamu Alaykom,Well, you knew I’d comment, right?I love reading you and I have no problem reading. You love God. I love God. And honestly? We love each other as followers of the same God.I heard about this struggling soul before: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003751274_redding17m.htmlAnd I find her revolutionary in her thinking. Why not? Why not admit what you need in order to be a whole person? I did that for my own life and I liken it to the quest of gays to find themselves. Yes, you do feel lost and at odds with what society wants from you. You come out first to yourself, when you look in the mirror and admit that “I am who I am.” For me? I am Muslim. Here is the difference between the two:http://www.soundvision.com/Info/Jesus/inIslam.asp I never was a very good Christian. I NEVER understood the trinity (most Christians don’t). I never believed Jesus (peace be upon him) was an actual offspring from The Creator, but rather another human creation. And while you find foregiveness an attribute of Christians, I do not. I find the atmosphere in a church to be nullifying and life-draining. Too much horizontal (among the people) and not enough vertical (upward to God). To be Muslim, all a person has to state is: There is no other God than God and Mohammed is a Messenger. That’s it! You state that with intention to be a follower and you are Muslim. If you think about it, many Christians, including my own parents, can state those words and have (though neither currently has the intention of being Muslim). I bet you can too say it—though your intention would only be known to you and to God. There is another minister I know who embraced Islam: Imam Sykes of Orlando, Floridahttp://www.americans4islam.com/pg_img/message_imam_pg.htmlFeel free to contact him.On the battlefied, a famous incident took place when an enemy soldier said the words of Muslim belief, “La illaha il Allah wa Mohammadar rasullulah,” meaning that he believed in the One God and that Mohammad was a Messenger. Yet, that man was killed by a Muslim soldier. The Muslim soldier didn’t believe the words; he thought it was only an empty ploy. Later, when Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) heard this, he reprimanded his comrade for being an unjust man. Mohamed (pbuh) said that only God looks into the hearts and weighs them. We are to believe whoever speaks the oath.So, you, as a truly dear man, are not to decide who this woman is. Can she be both? She thinks she can. Leave it to her. Leave it to God. It’s their relationship. If the church wants to kick her out, that’s there business. As for me? I will pray for her continued wisdom in a world often gone mad. The world would be a much better place if we left others to decide their relationships with God.

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