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A Christian-Muslim: Is It Possible?

The concept of dual faith revolves around exercising beliefs and practices drawn from different faiths. You could say that a Christian-Muslim dual faith system is unheard of. This would be true in as far as the tenets of both religious bodies are concerned. So for Ann Holmes Redding she cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim. She can only be one at a particular instance or she may just be exploring the middle ground in as far as these two religions are concerned.

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Ann Holmes Redding who was until April 2010 an Episcopal priest in Seattle and who had formerly served as a director of faith in the same church was defrocked of her priesthood following her Christian – Muslim dual faith. The defrocking decision was reached upon by Geralyn Wolf, an Episcopal Bishop who is superior to Ann and who had spent about two years with her. Describing Ann as a woman of integrity and their conversations as open, honest and respectful, Wolf however, is of the belief that one can either be a Christian or a Muslim and not both ( Tu: 2010, 1 ).

Wolf’s decision is reinforced further by the Episcopal Church’s view that Islam is a religion that is not in communion with it( Tu: 2010, 1 ). Ann who dismisses some of the contradictions that exist between Islam and Christianity says that to her the two are compatible at a basic level( Tu: 2010, 1 ).

Ann had made public her belief system back in the year 2007 and remained adamant about it ever since. According to Ann, she doubled up as a Muslim when an introduction to Muslim prayers profoundly moved her. Ann who is co-writing a book titled “Out of Darkness into Light: Guidance in the Quran with Reflections from Jewish and Christian Sources” and a PhD holder in New Testament, is being regarded as a dual faith symbol to some groups.

Indeed Christianity and Islam differ in tenets of the two religions posing a huge challenge (on a number of issues) to a person who practices or claims to be a follower of both. Christianity in itself is divided into denominations split along the manner in which prayers, communion, baptism and so on are to be carried out. Christianity is popularly known to center about the bible and Islam is known to center about the Quran. A typical church and Mosque session would reveal clear distinctions in terms of how worship is done. These distinctions arise even in the mode of dressing e.g. Muslims would wear white robes while Christians except for the clergy in most cases would dress normally.

Also, Muslims congregate at the mosque on Fridays whereas most Christians congregate at the church on Sundays. Another notable distinction is the manner in which a sheikh and a priest lead the ceremonies. Distinctions do not only arise in as far as worship is concerned but even in the lifestyles led by both Christians and Muslims. Teachings from these religions address issues regarding marriage, leadership dressing etc. thus it easy for a contradiction to arise in one or more of these issues.

To address the congregational challenges that may result from contradictions on these issues she has to appeal and emphasize for tolerance and patience (virtues taught in both religions) form both religions. By doing this Ann may at the very end show that indeed there exists to a certain degree a level of compatibility in both religions that makes it possible to be both. Webb express similar view that Christianity and Muslim religions do have some common beliefs (Tu: 2010, 2).

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Islam as opposed to Christianity terms a belief in the trinity as polytheism which to Islam amounts to serious blasphemy (Robinson: 2007, 2-3). Owing to these facts form two gentlemen well versed in matters regarding to both religions it is clear that a dual existence in both of these worlds is unheard of (Robinson: 2007, 3). Ann points out clearly that she is not trying to reconcile the differences in both religions but rather feels called to both religions.

She can only exist in these two worlds temporarily as a means to one end, that is, either convert fully to Muslim or stick to Christianity. For Ann to maintain a dual identity as an ordained priest and as a lay Muslim she has to publicly belong to Christianity and work out her belief in Islam on a low profile. This of course owing to the fact that she has a Christian background and that Islam is fairly new religion to her. This in itself would achieve two goals.

First, by publicly declaring she is a Christian and not both, she will avoid public debate over her faith system which would have a negative impact on her position or identity as an Episcopal priest. Secondly, by keeping a low profile as a lay Muslim, she can have a humble time to build her understanding and passion of Islam and in the very end when her soul searching is over make the vital transition to the religion.

It is a way of life that is gradually on the increase. In Anna’s case it is important that both Islam and Christianity do not turn a blind eye to her situation but rather exercise the virtues they are known to preach. The two religions can take a less strict position on Ann’s case a sentiment that is shared by Michael, a non- theologian, who believes that based on Ann’s own understanding of the two religions she might have come up with a middle ground and it is from this middle ground that Ann claims to be both Christian and Islam (Robinson: 2007, 3).

Also as Webb points out these two religions are not mutually exclusive (Robinson: 2007, 3).So, both religions could point out to there followers and the public that such middle grounds do exist and probably could be hosting Ann’s bizarre faith system.

Based on how strong the disparity between the faiths out does their harmony thus interfaith is then challenged (Tu: 2009, 1). Features of the occurrence of interpretations in both the Holy Bible and Quran that resemble such as The Lords prayer and Surah Fateha prayers, respectively; a common identity to existence one supreme God and convergence from Abraham as a common spiritual father (Gaudet: 2007, 4) sets parallel similarities for both. And this is further stressed by individual claims of a divine calling to engage in interfaith practice. An example is a Christian claim of a divine calling to embrace Islam in a symbolic surrender to God (Robinson, 2010, 1).

Neither of the Holy Books permits on strict literal grounds the interfaith practice (Tu: 2009, 3), this is squarely placed on the individual to interpret and apply their contents thereof (Robinson, 2010, 2). This could be a partly reason for the mixed reactions in among the religious scholarly disciplines and faith followers on the subject interfaith (Tu: 2009, 1 & Conger: 2009, 1).

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Quran is regarded as relatively more holistic doctrine (Kung, 2010, 32). Notwithstanding reactions generated on the subject, there are significant departures between the Islam and Christian religions. To what extend the doctrines of both faiths can be reconciled and mutually practiced remains highly debatable. In Christianity Jesus inspired the founding of the church and is also part of the God in trinity form while, in the Islamic context Mohamed is the founder, Jesus is among the prophet and the trinity is alien and blasphemous (Robinson: 2010, 3; Vaughns: 2010, 3; Conger: 2009, 1 & Gaudet: 2010, 5).

In the Christian faith judgment day is reserved for those who will be alive then, while those who die before judgment day are judged soon after they die; in the Islamic faith judgment day is reserved for the living and those who die long before the day (Gaudet: 2010, 6).

Every Muslim is born innocent and will accountable for individual misdeeds, they believe; while, in Christianity the original sin by Adam and Eve sin makes them sinners even prior to birth and the sacrament of baptism cleanses (Gaudet: 2010, 7). The Bible, especially the Gospel scriptures, it is acknowledged that Godly presence (inspiration) influence the men who wrote their accounts; but Muslims believe the Quran is Gods speaking direct not a divine inspiration on Mohamed (Gaudet: 2010, 7). Both seek converts; mutually exclusive (Vaughns: 2010, 4).

The partiality (blend) in interfaith practice means perceived inadequacies in one faith are rather better made-up in the other. But the fundamental aspects that contradict in either faith become compounding factors. For example Islam insists on strict following to God’s true Prophet Mohammad, adopt Quran and the Hadiths; this will lead to life in paradise (Dutko: 2010, 1).

While on the Christianity side, Jesus was God incarnate, exemplified true love for humanity by his death on the cross as the savior and promised life eternity for those who believe in him (Dutko, 2010, 1). With due respects and observing the clear distinctions made by both contexts-begs the question of who has the moral authority from above? Inter alia. The end result is conflicts between the two faiths that override any bases for compatibility. For example of the two Faiths which one is wrong (Dutko: 2010, 1)? This undermines spirituality, especially for those faithful in the mainstreams or are staunch followers. This ultimately drives along the censure path of interfaith as misleading, considering those at the mainstream constitute larger of the believers and desire to reject them and defend their stands (Robinson: 2010, 4&5).

The clear departure from the Islamic context, in that Bible scriptures are eyewitness accounts by the writers and the works of Jesus on earth are above common human abilities (that is, God working through Jesus) gives Christianity an upper hand (Kung: 1986, 14 &Dutko: 2010, 2). A section of Meccans questioned Muhammad of his ability; he responds to critics to distinguish the message and the messenger (Kung: 2010, 13).

The paradigm shift from an identity crisis and complimenting issues to central issues of mutual coexistence across faith divide and religious tolerance form important talking points. For instance the revelation to Muhammad in the Quran rather passed through him than transform (Kung: 1986, 13). This enhances Christians and Muslims to live with love and side-by-side without changing to new identities or undermining the primary identities in any way; In Muhammad’s day’s tolerance was practiced (Kung: 1986, 34). In its doctrines the Christian Church pursues peace, love and Justice (Conger: 2009, 1 &

Guilbert: 2010, 855). Such as address emerging questions of the two which is better? The dialogues should centre on strategies that detect, identify and prevent issues that may cause fallout in a harmonious Christian-Muslim Society rather defining their differences. Historical differences between Christianity and Muslim are far reaching and finding an ideal marriage of the two may be counterproductive. In the Islamic faith Mohammad was a prophet of God as clearly enshrined in the Quran (Kung: 2010, 30).

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On strict literal ground, neither of Muslim and Christian supports interfaith practice. Jesus is the head of the Christian church (Guilbert: 2007, 854) thus, the gateway to Christian life. The trinity is one in three and ruling out one from the other two contradicts the Godly nature in the Christian believe, that is, Jesus in his Godly status is the perfect of God (Guilbert: 2007, 849). In Christian believe, it clarifies Jesus’ the authority as the one to deliver judgment for both the living and dead (Guilbert: 2007, 862) that is, he is God and can’t be equated or his integrity be belittled. Furthermore, the ministry of the lay person rather contradicting Jesus should witness him to the world to their capacity (Guilbert: 2007, 855).

Though in different context, the Christian practice of prayer and worship are symbolic surrender to God; rather in literal description (Hastings: 1999, 7). The principal kinds of prayer and corporate worship exemplify this fact (Guilbert: 2007, 856). Whether in theory Muhammad intended to spread his doctrines beyond the local Arabia is unclear (Kung: 2010, 37). While in the Christian arena Jesus obligates his followers to be his witnesses as their ministry, wherever they may be (Guilbert: 2007, 855).

The Bible has much in common in the Old Testament with Quran; this allows for parallelism but in the New Testament there is a clear departure to strict adherents and cardinals for the disciples in the Christian believe. Thus, locks out further inter-complimentary practices, resulting to a distinct Christian from a Muslim faithful. This does not mean intolerance or stringency by Christianity but as a focused guide with clarity that will instill difference between the Christian and Muslim faiths.

The Church is recognized as the community of the new covenant (Guilbert: 2007, 854). The Bible is discreet and does not put Islam into context as well as account for any of the Muhammad’s work. However, Quran recognizes the existence of Christians, Jews and Jesus although, not within a clear perspective as in the Biblical context. Notwithstanding, the Bible has serialized works of other prophets such as Hosea, Isaiah Jeremiah and Amos in the Books of the Old Testament (Kung: 1986, 26).

In the Christian believe Jesus offers forgivingness and salvation for those who believe in him (Conger: 2009, 1). This cannot be paralleled with the Islamic context. The main central issues in the Bible revolve around Jesus establishing the Church for God people; throughout his birth, works, crucifixion, death and resurrection-this is well serialized in the Apostles Creed (Guilbert: 2007, 66). Jesus though God incarnate, came in human form so that human are adopted to be children of God bearing in mind the original sin emanating from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

The climax of the Jesus’ human ministry is marked by resurrection and ascension and that He: And that he is deemed to come in future and pass judgment for the living the dead, as believed in Christian realms (Guilbert: 2007, 66). Moreover, Jesus exemplified a righteous life on earth and through the human conception and judgment they rather crucified him on the cross (Guilbert: 2007, 66). This led to forgiveness of humankinds sins thereafter (Guilbert: 2007, 67).

On strict literal ground neither of the faiths fit in exactly on the other although based on interpretations overlaps occur (Tippett: 2008, 122). This can be achieved when analysis are made beyond the doctrines into mainstream practices. In Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hindu and Buddhism have place worship and holy book. However, Christianity and Judaism are in relative closer and in parallel, as compared to the cases of Buddhism and Christianity or Christianity and Islam.

Christianity and Judaism differ in use of Bible other than Torah, respectively; worship in church than go to synagogues; lay more emphasis to Jesus unlike to Moses and Abraham (but recognizes them any); seek converts; recognize original sin by Adam and Eve at the Garden of Eden; does not approve use of alcohol; recognize the devil and calls for equality than recognizing chosen individuals (Vaughn: 2010, 2).

Reference List

Conger George. “Muslim Priest and Buddhist bishop elect are raising questions about syncretism.” Christianity today (2009): 1-10.

Dutko, Robert “Topten Proofs Christianity is the only true religion.”. (2010). Web.

Gaudet, James A. “Islam and Christianity.” Web.

Guilbert Charles (Custodian). The Book of Common Prayer. New York: the Church Hymnal Corporation, 2007.

Harris Dan. ”Former Episcopalian Priests lives both as a Christian and a Muslim.” ABC World News, 2009, World News Section.

Hastings Adrian “A World History of Christianity.” United Kingdom: Cassell, 1999.

Kung Hans “Christianity and world religions paths of dialogue with Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.” Garden City New York: Doubleday, 1986.

Redding, Ann Holmes. Out of darkness into light: spiritual guidance with reflections from Jewish and Christian sources. Harrisberg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2009.

Robinson B.A. 2010 “Can a person belong to two religions.”, Religious Tolerance. Web.

Tippett Krista. “Speaking of faith: why religion matters—and how to talk about it.” USA: Penguin Books, 2008.

Tu, Janit I. 2010 “Episcopal Priest Ann Holmes Redding has been Defrocked.” The Seattle Times. Web.

Tu, Janit L. “I am Both Christian and a Muslim,” the Seattle Times, 2007, Local News Section.

Vaughns Summaries. “Summary of the Major religions.” Web.

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