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).
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.