June 18, 2007

"I Am Both Muslim and Christian"

So says one Ann Holmes Redding of Seattle, a practicing Muslim of 15 months and an (you guessed it) Episcopal priest for 20 years.

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.

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.

There you have the basic belief of the Christian Left, one that permeates much of the senior clergy in the ECUSA and is spreading on a daily basis, boiled down into five short sentences. It is, in effect, agnostic universalism. Jesus was a Really Nice Person, so we all ought to try and be Really Nice People. Beyond that? Not much. Insert your own "vision" of the deity behind it all here. Small wonder, then, that when this Redding person became aware of the more, shall we say, rigorous spiritual demands of Islam, she was drawn to it. (Note the response of her diocesan bishop - "Hey, man, whatever floats your boat!")

Sigh. Must we go to the quote again?

“Its drowning all your old rationalism and scepticism, it’s coming in like a sea; and the name of it is superstition.” The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything: “And a dog is an omen and a cat is a mystery.”

- from The Laughing Prophet by Emile Cammaerts, the original source of the line erroneously attributed to G.K. Chesterton, "When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything." Here's a little explanation of the quote's history.

Yips! to Chef Mojo, who sought to spike Robbo's blood pressure with the link. Fortunately, what Tolkien called the shadow of parting has already fallen between me and the ECUSA, so stuff like this provokes nothing more than a sad shake of the Llama head.

Posted by Robert at June 18, 2007 09:57 AM | TrackBack

What's tragic is that the ECUSA is just the current denomination to be broadly and publicly embracing this travesty. If you look closely at some of what went on with the Southern Baptists this past week, there's a lot of pressure building to send them in the same direction.

Posted by: beth at June 18, 2007 11:10 AM

And thus the rolls of the Evangelical mega-churches continue to swell while the mainline churches continue to scratch their collective heads in bewilderment.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at June 18, 2007 12:21 PM

Slightly confused...are you indicating that the mega-churches are safe havens of good theology or pointing out that abandonment of theology and embracing the feel-good, self-empowered, watered-down, "can't we all just get along" mentality is what has made mega-churches so successful. Cause I can agree with the latter, but have never found the former to be true beyond small pockets within the mega-enterprise.

Posted by: beth at June 18, 2007 01:34 PM

Well, I certainly hold no brief for the "goodness" of mega-church theology. Rayther, I see them as filling a vacuum. It's been my observation that most of the folks I've known who've left the mainstream denominations and joined them have done so because they feel that the mega-church at least stands for SOMETHING from a theological point of view, and aren't simply devoted to group-hug feel-goodism. (I've a friend who left my own church some years ago for Lon Solomon. He routinely tries to get me to come out and give McLean Bible a try. I've plenty of respect for him, but it ain't. gonna. happen.)

Posted by: Robbo the LB at June 18, 2007 02:03 PM

How can this muslim priestess -- if such a thing is even possible, given how Islam views women -- remain in the Episcopal church? Are there really no rules? If you don't believe in the Nicene Creed, how on Earth can you even be a lay person in the Episcopal/Anglican church?

Posted by: The Colossus at June 18, 2007 07:57 PM

Good heavens -- maybe the Pope is playing his hand better than I'd thought.

So below is an extended quote from PJ O'Rourke. Substitute 'ECUSA' for 'Democrat':

"God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat.

"God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle-aged male, a stern fellow, patriachal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men strictly accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well-being of the disavantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful, and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God's heavenly country club.

"Santa Claus in another matter. He's cute. He's nonthreatening. He's always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who's been naughty and who's been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without thought of quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he's famously generous to the poor.

"Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus."

Posted by: tdp at June 19, 2007 10:26 AM

Wow, considering how screwed up the theology is in your flatline...er... "mainline" denomination, it seems pretty arrogant of you to so casually dismiss "mega-churches" (which I suppose by your definition is any church with X+ members who isn't from a "Prawpuh Lituhgical Denawmination"). It may shock you to know that the theology espoused in evangelical churches runs the gamut just as it does in older denominations, and many of them are VERY sound doctrinally (though I know Sola Scriptura gives most pseudo-Catholics hives). Sure, there are a few McChurches that water down the gospel, but to dismiss all Evangelical churches, especially large ones, out of hand like that....

Posted by: Boy Named Sous at June 19, 2007 05:37 PM

Now, now. I'm not arguing about the theology of Evangelical churches one way or the other here. I simply use "mega-church" in a shorthand sense while discussing the dynamic of Evangelical growth as opposed to Mainline decline. My apologies if I sound overly dismissive.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at June 20, 2007 08:40 AM

Apology accepted and returned. It wasn't just your comments that set me off, though. But I would challenge people on the liuturgical side of the fence to consider that even though an evangelical denomination isn't your style, it's still a viable option for many who love the gospel.

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