Thursday, June 21, 2007


Every now and then, a smug Episcopalian will make a statement that gives me cold chills. They will say something like, "I love being an Episcopalian, because I can believe anything I want." This statement is a gross misunderstanding of the doctrinal flexibility built into our Church. The point is that on certain issues, like the nature of Christ's presence in Eucharist and other sacramental matters, a range of nuanced positions are possible. Unfortunately, some misapprehend the latitude offered within Anglicanism as license for disbelief.

There is an individual in Seattle claiming to be both Episcopal priest and Muslim. She is the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding. She has appeared in various publications, some even celebrating her potential as a leader in dialogue.

Now, I am a very flexible sort, after all, I am an Anglican, but this is too much for me. I am no Islam expert, but I have read some of the Koran, and I have studied the basic tenets of the Islamic faith. It seems impossible to reconcile the radical monotheism of Islam with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Reducing the Person of Jesus to a prophet and good guy, as Islam does, is antithetical to the Christian claim of the divinity of Jesus. The point: You cannot be a Christian and a Muslim.

I think Redding's assertions belittle both religions. To claim to connect the two, means you don't really take seriously the demands and faith of either. Although, as a seeker, she is certainly within her rights to search as she sees fit. However, I have a hard time reconciling her ordination vows and status to her assertions. I wish her the best, and would be happy to see her in the pews of any Episcopal parish, just not up front.

The Gospel for this Sunday is Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ. It seems to me to be central to the Gospel. The teaching of Jesus is accepted and followed, because we know him to be the Christ. We listen to the shepherd, because we know his voice. We hear and know the voice through grace, and are called to faith. We are called to faith in the self-authenticating, self-offering love as revealed in the God-Man. Without that, I am not sure what you have left.

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