19th June 2007, 20:09
The Reverend Ann Holmes Redding, an Episcopal priest for 20 year, says she became a Muslim last year, but still considers herself a Christian as well.
Redding, who says she accepted Islam after being profoundly moved by Muslim prayers, is to begin teaching the New Testament at Seattle University this fall.
Until recently, she was director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral.
Western Washington Bishop Vincent Warner says he accepts Redding as both an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and finds the interfaith possibilities exciting.
The 55-year-old Redding says she doesn't feel that she has to resolve the differences between her two faiths -- especially over whether Jesus was God or just a prophet -- and hopes sharing her story can help ease religious tensions.
The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding attends the Sunday morning service at St. Clement's of Rome Episcopal Church in Seattle.
Redding has been an Episcopal priest for 20 years and a Muslim for 15 months.
Redding, at right, prays with other members of the Al-Islam Center recently at the Yesler Community Center.
The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, right, gets a hug from Ayesha Anderson at the end of a service recently with members of the Al-Islam Center in Seattle. Redding is a Christian who is also a practicing Muslim, and she worships with members of both faiths.
Redding talks with 4-year-old Celia Connor before the start of the service at St. Clement's of Rome Episcopal Church in Seattle.
On Sundays, Redding often prays at St. Clement's. On Fridays, she prays with the Al-Islam Center.
"I am both Muslim and Christian" (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/PrintStory.pl?document_id=2003751274&zsection_id=2002111777&slug=redding17m&date=20070617)
By Janet I. Tu|Seattle Times religion reporter
20th June 2007, 10:04
First came the irregular ordination of women to the priesthood, and then homosexual behavior was deemed acceptable including the ordination and consecration of an openly avowed homosexual to the episcopacy, concomitantly with same sex blessings for all. The elastic band of The Episcopal Church's theology has been stretched to its limit with the announcement that the Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding, an Episcopal priest and theologian in the Diocese of Olympia, has become a practicing Muslim.
Short of digging up a year old corpse in an Episcopal Church graveyard and marrying it to a liberal bishop of questionable beliefs while using the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer, have we now reached the final stage of public Episcopal blasphemy - the notion that one can be both a Christian and a Muslim at the same time? Has the elasticity of the Anglican Communion finally snapped?
In an interview with the Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding by Norah M. Joslyn, published in the Diocese of Olympia newspaper, Holmes told Joslyn, "The way I understand Jesus is compatible with Islam, and although there are Christians and Muslims who think I must convert from one to the other, the more I go down this path the more excited I am about both Christianity and Islam."
Redding credits her upbringing for early exposure to interfaith relationships. An African Methodist Episcopal minister baptized her but the only Sunday school she attended was Episcopalian. She attended a Unitarian youth group in high school when the Episcopal group disbanded. A cooperative community comprised of mostly Quakers, Unitarians and Jews near where she grew up influenced her.
Her father was a prominent civil rights lawyer whose work brought him and the family into contact with people of many faiths.
After an introduction to a Muslim prayer practice in early 2006, Redding knew she had been wrestling with a call to Islam. She approached a Muslim woman and told her so. The woman replied, "Christianity has been good to you and you to it, and you don't have to choose." That made all the difference in Redding's choice to practice Islam. "What Islam has done for me is shed this light on Christianity and shown for me anew what a glorious way Christianity is."
Said Ms. Redding, "When we say Jesus is the only begotten one, we are saying he's unique in some way. Islam says the same thing. He's the only human aside from Adam who is directly created by God, and he's different from Adam because he has a human mother. So there's agreement-this person is unique in his relationship to God. We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the 'only begotten son of God.' That's how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal," she continues, "I agree with both because I do want to say that Jesus is unique, and for me, Jesus is my spiritual master."
Redding says what Islam does is take Jesus out of the way of her relationship with God, "but it doesn't drop Jesus. I was following Jesus and he led me into Islam, and he didn't drop me off at the door. He's there, too." Islam and Christianity are complementary, she suggests, and that the Muslim profession of faith that there is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God, does not contradict anything in Christianity. Nor do the professions made at a Christian baptism contradict anything in Islam. "For me to become a human being means to identify solely with the will of God. Islam gives me the tools to do that," she explained.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. John H. Rodgers, AMiA bishop and interim Dean of Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA disagrees. In a note to VirtueOnline he said that when Redding says for her to become a human being means to identify solely with the will of God [and] Islam gives me the tools to do that... "One can't but help realize that this woman does not reflect the true fallen condition of humanity. No one but Jesus ever 'identified solely with the Will of God'. Having no grasp of the issue and problem of sin and God's justice and wrath there is no need for a savior who is both God and man and who has taken our place under the judgment of God on the Cross. In short this woman does not understand or at least does not represent apostolic Christianity. If we are talking mere moralism then perhaps that is compatible with Islam. Though from what I understand of Islam, the believer falls short of complete identification with the will of Allah and hopes to have at least a 51% batting average, when the final judgment comes to pass."
According to Redding the conflicts over the nature and person of Jesus between Christianity and Islam do not hinder profession of both faiths. "We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the only begotten son of God. That's how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal."
Rodgers disagrees. "Christians do mean that Jesus is the eternal Son and that no one else is. Yes the language is metaphorical but it is language chosen by God as giving us the clearest grasp of the reality of the case. Perhaps we might better put it that since we are made in the image of God and are made sons of God in Him and not visa versa that our sonship is metaphorical and His is the literal. It is clearly a contradiction of the revealed truth in Christ when Islam states '"God has no Son'". Statements by Dr. Redding of "how wonderful Jesus is" fall far short of the worship, which is His due as the eternal Son who became incarnate and died for us and for our salvation. This is a statement of Faith that is expressly contradicted by Islam. With the sort of thinking we find in Dr. Redding's comment we might see all religions as saying the same thing!"
Rodgers says that taken together these two items of contemporary Anglican thinking are prophetic. "When read together as revealing a common inclination or tendency, you can see where we are headed in the Anglican Communion unless something clear, faithful to Scripture and obligatory on the whole Anglican Communion is done.
"It is not without its significance that a recent meeting of Centro Global, [Global Centre], bishops meeting in San Jos, Costa Rica distanced themselves from the hard line approach taken by the American Church and its allies amongst the Global North and the opposing Global South coalition of dioceses in Asia, Africa and the Americas. They wrote: "This growing polarization between the non reconcilable truth claims of the Global North and Global South had placed the unity of the Communion at risk they said, noting in the midst of this painful controversy, we do not identify with either side, because they don't fully represent the spirit of our thoughts."
Ironically among the signatories to the letter were supporters of the progressive agenda including two of the consecrating bishops for V. Gene Robinson, El Salvador Bishop Martin Barahona and Central Ecuador Bishop Wilfredo Ramos, along with American bishops who strongly opposed his consecration namely Colombian Bishop Francisco Duque and Honduran Bishop Lloyd Allen.
The Centro Global bishops maintain that this plurality and diversity has been a rich source for growth, rather than a cause for division. Is it?
Echoing the call of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the Centro Global bishops affirmed their intention "to maintain Eucharistic fellowship across doctrinal and party boundaries and invited the bishops of the Anglican Communion to join together and to work for an effective reconciliation, interdependence and unity in the diversity of our family of faith and so preserve the valuable legacy of which we are guardians."
"One wonders then if the bishops of the Centro Global are really ready to agree with the Dr. Redding. The frightening thought is that they might be, given enough time, get used to the ever-increasing elasticity of the contemporary Anglican Communion.
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 hasn't caused much controversy yet, he said.
But Mahmoud Ayoub, professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion at Temple University in Philadelphia Said "the theological beliefs are irreconcilable." Islam holds that God is one, unique, indivisible. "For Muslims to say Jesus is God would be blasphemy."
Frank Spina, an Episcopal priest and also a professor of Old Testament and biblical theology at Seattle Pacific University, puts it bluntly. "I just do not think this sort of thing works," he said. "I think you have to give up what is essential to Christianity to make the moves that she has done.
"There are tenets of the faiths that are very, very different," said Kurt Fredrickson, director of the doctor of ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "The most basic would be: What do you do with Jesus?"
Said Rodgers, "What a shocking mess! It is not just TEC! God is humbling us. We have assumed a global Anglicanism that is true and good and turned a blind eye to its actual condition. We have been idolatrous about the Anglican Communion. The truth is that for us to be faithful Anglicans we can no longer be simply identified with the present Anglican Communion. It must be reformed or divided."
By David W. Virtue (http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=6180)|Welcome to VirtueOnline! (http://www.virtueonline.org)|3/21/2007
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