This is not an April Fool’s joke: The Episcopal Church has defrocked a Seattle priest who refused to recant her statement that she was both Christian and Muslim.
The Rev. Kendall Harmon, the canon theologian with the Diocese of South Carolina who also runs the traditionalist blog TitusOneNine, said Redding should be commended, on one level, for having the integrity to be upfront about what she believes.
But what’s at stake is central to the church, he said. “To be a Christian is to be a Trinitarian and worship Jesus. If we’re not clear on that, we have nothing to offer in our witness.”
Though Muslims regard Jesus as a great prophet, they do not see him as divine and do not consider him the Son of God.
Redding does not believe that God and Jesus are the same, but rather that God is more than Jesus. And she believes that 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.
Harmon points to the contrast between the Rhode Island bishop’s discipline of Redding, and the position held by the former, now retired bishop of the Olympia Diocese in Western Washington who said he regarded Redding’s dual faith as exciting in its interfaith possibilities.
“We are internally incoherent on a massive scale,” Harmon said. “What does it say about a church that you can be in Rhode Island and have that treatment, and be in Olympia and have another treatment, if it has to do with something this central?”
In any case, Redding is moving on.
She’s co-written a book, just published, called “Out of Darkness Into Light: Spiritual Guidance in the Quran with Reflections from Christian and Jewish Sources.”
More than 200 friends showed up at Town Hall Seattle last week to mark the book’s publication, the 25th anniversary of her ordination as an Episcopal priest, and to celebrate “her movement into the next phase of ministry as both Christian and Muslim.”
Redding is starting to write her memoirs and hopes to get a contract.
And she’s working to establish Abrahamic Reunion West, a nonprofit institute to bring together the Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
And the rest of it?
“As frightening as it is,” she said, “I’m willing to let God be in charge of this path of mine.”