The Seattle Times has a story today that demonstrates unequivocally that the Rev. Anne Holmes Redding, the Episcopal priest who is also a practicing Muslim, is in fact simply a Christian apostate. The amazing thing is that her bishop supports her in her apostasy:
Redding’s situation is highly unusual. Officials at the national Episcopal Church headquarters said they are not aware of any other instance in which a priest has also been a believer in another faith. They said it’s up to the local bishop to decide whether such a priest could continue in that role.
Redding’s bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting. Her announcement, first made through a story in her diocese’s newspaper, hasn’t caused much controversy yet, he said.
So let me get this straight: In the Episcopal Church, a priest can embrace a religion that rejects Christ’s death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead, His atonement for sin, His divine/human nature, and get a pat on the back from her bishop for creating “interfaith possibilities”?
Well, why not? After all, there’s at least one Episcopal bishop who has done the same thing.
The article goes on to offer more insights into Redding’s made-up religion:
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.
These are the reporter’s words, not Redding’s. If they reflect her thinking, then she’s not only “Christian” and “Muslim,” she’s New Age as well. The idea that “all human are divine–because God dwells in all humans” is an idea that neither Christianity nor Islam would accept.
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.
This is what do-it-yourself religion is about: a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and not a bit of respect for anything. How she can claim that Mohammad is God’s prophet, and yet reject some of the central claims of the prophet’s book, is beyond me, just as I’m sure it’s beyond most Muslims. As far as I know, there’s no equivalent to “cafeteria Christianity” in Islam. While there are a lot of differences in interpretations of difficult passages of the Koran, the rejection of Christian claims about Jesus–that He was crucified to death, resurrected, atoned for sin, was divine–is unequivocal, and rather significant to Islam’s self-definition vis-a-vis Christianity. Only a liberal Christian could become this kind of Muslim. (Though I also want to make clear that I think lots of liberal Christians would find what Redding is attempting to be untenable, too.)
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.
According to Islam, of course, Jesus can’t be her savior, because He didn’t save anyone. That was the purpose of Mohammad’s message.
That’s not to say she couldn’t develop as deep a relationship with Mohammed. “I’m still getting to know him,” she said.
She’s getting to know about him. She can’t be getting to know him, because he’s, well, uh…dead.
Redding knows there are many Christians and Muslims who will not accept her as both.
“I don’t care,” she says. “They can’t take away my baptism.” And as she understands it, once she’s made her profession of faith to become a Muslim, no one can say she isn’t that, either.
This kind of mindset is what happens when one turns baptism into a magic talisman. For this Episcopal priest, baptism gives her permission to do pretty much anything she wants, including repudiating the truth of the gospel. She might just as well say, “no one can take away my rabbit’s foot,” or “no one can take away my chicken entrails.”
As for Muslims, I would beg to differ. There certainly are people–usually called Islamists or jihadis or fundamentalists–who wouldn’t hesitate to say she’s made a mockery of her shahada (Muslim profession of faith) by continuing to hold to selected Christian beliefs, and to make her pay a steep price for that mockery. My suspicion is that if she ever makes the haj to Mecca, she won’t be advertising to the Wahhabis who run Saudi Arabia that she has come to kiss the kaaba while refusing to believe parts of the Koran. Might be hazardous to her health.