An update on the Rev’d Ann Holmes Redding

Bishop Geralyn Wolf has sent a letter to the House of Bishops with an update on the Rev’d Ann Holmes Redding. As you may recall, Mother Redding is an ordained priest (canonically resident in the Diocese of Rhode Island) who seeks to follow Islam and Christianity together.

When this story broke about a year ago, the usual suspects on the right used it as an example of ways in which the church has lost its way. And yet she was placed under discipline quite quickly. That kind of took the wind out of the naysayers’ sails. The Episcopal Church may seek to follow the Gospel call to welcome all, but there are boundaries. This reality is not convenient for those on the right, so they continue to use the “Muslim priest” in their mythology, despite the fact that she’s been under a Pastoral Direction since June 2007.

Most sensible people will agree that you cannot be both a Muslim and a Christian priest together. From either perspective, it would seem, these two traditions cannot coexist in one person. Bishop Wolf has dealt with this in a most gracious way, I think. She has respected Mother Redding’s dignity and authenticity, even as she has had to mete out discipline. It seems downright Christian.

I’ve reproduced the most recent letter, below the fold.

June 20, 2008

To: Members of the House of Bishops
From:  The Rt. Rev’d Geralyn Wolf
Re: The Rev’d Dr. Ann Holmes Redding

In June of 2007, I issued a Pastoral Direction to The Rev’d Dr. Ann Holmes Redding, a priest canonically resident in the Diocese of Rhode Island but living in Seattle. She claimed to be both a Muslim and a Christian. Among other things, she was suspended from all priestly duties for one year, at which time I would review the situation. If it became necessary to take further action the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Rhode Island would be engaged in early July, 2008.

I met with The Rev’d Dr. Ann Holmes Redding on May 22, 2008, and believe that she remains committed to her profession of both Christianity and Islam. As I am leaving for pre-Lambeth engagements on June 28, prior to the end of her suspension, I have extended the Pastoral Direction until September 15, 2008. I do not think that it is fair to make a decision of this nature from afar; without ready access to either Dr. Redding or the Standing Committee.

The decision for extension was not requested by Dr. Redding, nor does it indicate a change in my understanding of the theological conflicts inherent in professing both traditions.

Dr. Redding is a woman of utmost integrity and our conversations remain open and mutually gratifying. I have great respect for her and the process of exploration to which she is committed. I also remain devoted to our Christian faith and the ordination vows taken by those who have entered the sacred priesthood.

The media is requesting an update from me. Recalling the attention this attracted a year ago, I share this communiqué with you.

Looking forward to seeing you at Lambeth.

GW:ec

Cc: the Rev’d Dr. Ann Holmes Redding; Standing Committee; Diocesan Council;
Email: All Clergy; Ms. Neva Rae Fox; Ms. Janet Tu

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12 Responses

  1. Mark Parker says:

    Have you ever thought that the Christian/Islamic religions may have both originated with the same God? The difference I notice with Islam is the lack of priesthood. What if God raised up Muhammad to call a nation to repentance and gave him a simple message to set individuals on a strait course toward God, that may have been all God required, that they repent of their sins and be forgiven, being justified before God because of their righteous works and diligent adherence to his commandments. With true Christianity the exact same is required, plus ordinances and covenants which pertain to having priesthood. To those in Islam these seem unnecessary extras as is the additional information on how their sins could be forgiven. When Christ is clearly also identified as a God in the Bible in explanation of the Godhead, they think this defies the one true God teaching they have, so they then reconcile that by claiming the Bible has been corrupted. When this happens Christianity looks at them as anti Christ. This is part of a post I put on an Islamic site about this, it may be interesting for you.

    ‘Zechariah 12;
    10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
    Zechariah 13;
    6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

    These wounds identify the God of Israel, the same that testified:
    Ezekiel 37:12
    ‘Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves’
    Hosea 13;14
    ‘I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction’

    How will God ransom his people from the grave? What will that ransom be?
    Muhammad taught about the ressurection didn’t he?
    That there will be such, these Prophets are teaching upon what grounds that will take place, God does work according to just law.
    Muhammad taught that man could not be saved in his sins, that an individual must repent of and forsake all their sins, and God would then forgive that person. This is true, it is not contrary to what was taught by Christ and his apostles or any ancient or modern Prophets, it is the same.
    What the Bible also teaches is by what means that is done.
    Muhammad taught of one true God.
    Paul taught of one true God;
    1 Corinthians 8;
    6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

    But God has given us more information and more understanding.
    Why God didn’t seem to give Muhammad more of this information to teach we can only guess, did Muhammad restore priesthood? I don’t know, but if not then it would be meaningless to have baptism and other priesthood ordinances required of those he was sent to teach. What I can see of Muhammad’s teachings, (and I am limited in my knowledge of this,) was enough that if a man followed them he would be justified before God.

    The subject of Christ being refered to as God is something that gives us a better understanding of the nature of God and also of man’s divine potential and pre-existence. Christ is important to us, God the father has given to him authority and work, and this began before the foundation of the earth.’

  2. pyotr says:

    I’m curious of one thing. Actually of many things, but I’ll stick to just this one.

    On the Day of Judgment, when all come before Allah, and ‘line up’ to follow their prophet, will Mother Redding be lining up behind Mohammad, Jesus, Geralyn Wolf, or a leader to be determined at a future time?

  3. Jackie says:

    Scott,
    I apologize for the late response but I missed this when you first posted. Your statment, “And yet she was placed under discipline quite quickly. That kind of took the wind out of the naysayers’ sails. The Episcopal Church may seek to follow the Gospel call to welcome all, but there are boundaries.” This information implies that TEC acted in a unified fashion. Have you forgotten that the Diocese of Olympia was so impressed by this they devoted a large segment of their Diocesan newsletter to the announcement? Or the Bishop of Olympia’s joyful replies of how great this would be for ecumenical relations? Further the conservative blogs were the first to give thanks for Bishop Wolf and her decisive actions.

    We do not beat the drum to hear the noise but to alert those who still slumber and are unaware.

  4. The Pilgrim says:

    Have you ever thought that the Christian/Islamic religions may have both originated with the same God?
    But they are two separate and distinct Gods. We worship a triune God, and in this Trinity Jesus is the son of God; a fact that Muslims reject outright. And Jesus said “I am the way…No one comes to the Father except through me.”
    It would be nice and warm fuzzies to think that we all are “people of the Book” (Jews, Christians and Muslims) but that is a secular concept, not a theological one. Even the most superficial reading of the New Testament and the Q’uran will show that it absolutely is not so.

  5. Garrett says:

    I believe that both the bible and the quran are books inspired by the Creator, Almighty, Merciful and Gracious. The same Spirit which leads me to accept the Mercy of God through the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ for my salvation: He also interprets for me the so-called contradictions of the two Books. In the reconciliation of apparent contradictions we have grown in faith, character and knowledge of Yahweh. Therefore we shall proceed to organize a group of christian muslims who congregate to fellowship with the mission to serve the Creator, the needy, and the souls of men.

  6. Rev. Damaris says:

    In the course of my seminary training as an ordained Interfaith Minister I was required to study all the major religious traditions. I came to this training with primarily a Christian background but a innate curiosity and longing to know about other religions. In the course of this kind of study, one cannot help but begin to recognize what is referred to as the ‘essential spirituality’, the fundamental similarities within the original teachings all religious traditions. Every religion, without exception, teaches The Golden Rule. In essence, be good to one another. At this stage in our evolution, as beings and planetarily, the issue is not what we call God or how we worship, but the fact that we continue to let ourselves be divided by our fear of one another and our supposed differences. To continue to condemn and murder one another, and entire cultures, in the name of a right or wrong way to worship God is unfathomable. And, just as all religious traditions embody the teaching of The Golden Rule, all religions are flawed in their capacity for the misinterpretation that there is only one way to worship and only one true name for that which is beyond naming.
    In my seminary training I was not only required to book-study other traditions, I was also required to engage in the practices of these traditions. My experiences with Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, (which is refuted by some factions of Islam as not being truly Muslim)were profound. Sufis refer to themselves as Lovers of God. Certainly I am a lover of God. Islam literally means ‘submission’. My experience of bowing in surrender and submission to God, by whatever Name, has resulted in profoundly deepening my relationship with God. To this day, I continue to engage in Christian and Muslim practices. I am encouraged by and deeply grateful to Rev. Redding for her courage and commitment to following the path that God, by whatever Name, has layed before her. Light from one sun shining through many different windows is still light from the one sun.

  7. Ratchet says:

    Yes, but I am extremely confused. As someone who has studied religions in search of God, as someone who has developed a great respect for the Episcopal church, all that keeps me back is a confusion on the nature of Christ and God.

    I mean it is all so iffy and uncertain and so far my views on God are just a big blank spot. God exists, I know, but as to His exact nature I cannot say for I do not yet have enough evidence.

    Then people are saying despite this I can be Episcopalian? That, not only that, I can become a Priest? I mean I want to be Episcopalian but at the same time I cannot be sure yet on what or who God is. How can a person be a Christian without surrendering to Jesus? How can a person be a Priest? If I know my Christian theology, if I believe in God and follow that path, but I am uncertain on the exact nature of God, I can be a priest?

    I am so confused. I thought there were creeds and doctrines you had to follow to be a Christian?

  8. John D says:

    The woman appears to be confused.

  9. Extract from: “The Truth and the Light Regarding the Christian and Islam Faiths”, by Ivan Erickson, author of the spiritual novel, “Song of the Storm Winds”.

    I have in the past sent email attachments on this complete discourse, requesting a reply, to: Janet I. Tu – Seattle Times religious editor; the beloved Rev. Ann Holmes Redding; Pamela K. Taylor; the late Imam W. Deen Mohammed; and to Aman Amir Abdul-Matin, and I have not as yet received a reply regarding my premises. Deen Mohammed did not reply prior to his death, nor have any of the others listed, as of October 12, 2008. I can only conclude that these beloved people have found the words of the One True God to be irrefutable and/or too formidable – which they, in fact, are!

    The following is the second of six total premises from the above discourse, “The Truth and the Light Regarding the Christian and Islam Faiths”, of which the rational person will find irrefutable. Please know that I love all people of all faiths and ethnicities of whom God loves, and this is the reason why I continuously toil to bring the Truth and the Light to all those who are seeking:

    “The second premise to address is the Islam belief that Jesus Christ was only a prophet – that He was not deity or the only Son of God. In 1 John, 2:18-23 we read: “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number. But you have the anointing that comes from the holy one, and you all have knowledge. I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth. Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. No one who denies the Son has the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.”i In 1 John 4, 1-3 we read: “Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world.”ii

    Also, Jesus Christ professed in the Gospel that He is the Messiah, the only Son of God the Father. If the Islam faithful sincerely believes that Jesus is a prophet, how can they at the same time not believe that He was God’s Son? – For a prophet is one who speaks the Truth for God, you see”.

    Also, as many of you beloved souls of many faiths are confused as to whether or not the God of the beloved Christians is the same entity as the god of the beloved Islams, I can state emphatically that this is not possible. I invite you to view my entire discourse on my six premises regarding this subject on http://www.ivan-erickson.com – and thereafter to refute or comment on my premises based on God’s words!

    May the One True God Who Lives bless each of you and your loved ones, always.

  10. Bryan says:

    you CANNOT be both…

    1Co 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.

    she should be excommunicated until she repents

  11. Bryan says:

    Mt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…

  12. Scott Gunn says:

    Bryan,

    I’m 100% in agreement with the notion that one cannot be in Holy Orders as a Christian while also claiming to be a Muslim. However, I’m not sure I’d be so quick to declare that she should be excommunicated. Perhaps the nourishment of the sacrament is exactly what she needs?

    I’m also not quite so confident that Paul’s letter applies here. Your Matthew verse is apropos, though I think it also applies to plenty of churchgoing people who are more attached to possessions than to their Christian faith.

    My reluctance to fence the altar is concomitant with my sense that we are all sinners, and that we need God’s grace in the sacraments. The rubrics for excommunication in the prayer book have more to do with community scandal than with personal holiness/worthiness. That seems about right to me.

    Pax,
    Scott

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