Episcopal Priest Suspended Over Muslim-Christian Identity

A priest who claimed last month to be both Muslim and Christian has been suspended for a year, according to reports.

The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, the Episcopalian who made headlines after she told the Seattle Times that she was ''100 percent'' Muslim and Christian, must now take a year from her position at Seattle's St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral after 23 years of priesthood.

Redding told the Times that she was "deeply saddened" by the decision, but would abide by the ruling of her bishop, the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf.

Many believe "the last thing the church needs to deal with at this time is this type of doctrinal dispute," she said, possibly referring to the current clash within The Episcopal Church over homosexuality and the authority of Scripture.

"I wish it could've been at a more convenient time, but as far as I know I am responding to God's will and God's timing," she added.

In a front-page article last month in the Times, Redding said she had been a practicing Muslim for 15 months after being profoundly moved by an introduction to Islamic prayer.

She told the newspaper that since entering Islam, "I have been, by my own estimation, a better teacher, a better preacher and a better Christian."

Many, however, strongly disagreed with her claims, including the bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island who made the recent ruling.

Redding should "reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and what I see as the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam," Wolf wrote in an e-mail to church leaders, according to the Associated Press. Because Redding was ordained by a former bishop of Rhode Island, she remains subject to discipline by that diocese.

As a number of highly-respected theologians have pointed out following last month's coverage on Redding, the Christian belief in the divine being and savior Jesus Christ is incompatible with Islamic teaching of Jesus as a prophet.

Christianity's foundation is built on the understanding of Jesus Christ as the son of God who is fully human and yet fully divine, explained the Rev. Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and one of America's pre-eminent Evangelical leaders.

The Christian faith also points to Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection as the only way for mankind's salvation, he added. Islam, on the other hand, "explicitly denies" that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that He died on the cross and resurrected from the dead, acknowledging only Jesus as a great prophet, His virgin birth, and His future role in judgment.

"These are merely the most obvious foundational contradictions between Christianity and Islam," Mohler wrote on his blog. "Furthermore, these most obvious contradictions are affirmed by all major Christian denominations and both historic branches of Islam."

Dr. Emir Caner, dean of The College at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, described Redding's faith conviction as "an extraordinary illustration of what has become Postmodern Christianity in America."

Postmodernists are characterized for criticizing the conventional and embracing contradictions.

"It is a logical impossibility for someone to be both a Muslim and Christian since they stand in direct opposition to each other on such crucial theological issues as the cross, resurrection, and salvation," Caner, a former devout Muslim, said to The Christian Post.

And Chuck Colson, founder of the Christian ministry Prison Fellowship, commented that "there's so much wrong here that I scarcely know where to begin," in response to Redding's dual faith.

Colson pointed out that religion is not only about "feelings," but being Christian is about believing in undeniable truths such as original sin, the Trinity and the divinity of Christ.

"Redding is simply an extreme example in the Episcopal Church," concluded Colson in a commentary last month.

Currently, The Episcopal Church is experiencing a number of divisions within the American church body and facing a possible split with the worldwide Anglican Communion over its pro-gay stance, which the majority of Anglican leaders have called a departure from Anglican tradition and a violation of Scripture.

The Anglican body in the United States has been given until Sept. 30 to unequivocally pledge not to consecrate another openly gay bishop or authorize official prayers for same-sex couples. If Episcopalians fail to agree to the demands, they risk losing their full membership in the communion.

Christian Post reporter Michelle Vu in Washington contributed to this report.