Welcoming Muslims into church

islamic

There’s currently a bit of a fuss going on in London because a vicar invited a group to have Muslim prayers inside his church.

This is a fuss blown out of all proportion. What the Rev Giles Goddard, the vicar of St John’s Waterloo has done is unremarkable and the trouble seems to be coming from those who are also troubled by his offering to affirm gay couples, as much as anything to do with the Muslims.

It seems important to state that I’ve offered Muslims the opportunity to hold worship in St Mary’s.

A couple of years ago one of the local mosques was being refurbished and they needed somewhere to meet for Friday prayers for six weeks. A group from the mosque committee came to me to ask whether there was any possibility of them using St Mary’s Cathedral.

I met with them and did indeed offer our space to them.

In the end, they didn’t take up the offer as they were worried that we didn’t have enough floorspace for them. (Not the first time I’ve cursed the immovable pews).

The things worth noting here are these:

  • Every Christian I spoke to about this wanted it to go ahead as part of the basic hospitality that we think is part of our faith.
  • Every Muslim I spoke to at the time spoke to me about precedents from history when Christians had been offered sanctuary in mosques and protection from Muslim communities whilst they worshipped there.
  • There was never controversy over this at all.

Related to this is the fact that I’ve twice asked Islamic Scholars (one Shia and one Sunni) to give a reading from the Qur’an during our carol service here in St Mary’s. Being surrounded by members of different Islamic communities in this part of Glasgow, the diverse congregation gathered to celebrate Christ’s birth in St Mary’s seemed both delighted and entranced to discover that members of another faith held the birth of of Jesus to Mary in the highest honour. Again, on each occasion when this happened there was delight and joy all around and not the slightest hint of controversy. The most recent occasion involved a sung recitation from the Qur’an and then a translation.  The sound still rings in my ears when I see local Muslims in the street.

It is worth noting in passing that the Islamic group that Giles Goddard invited into St John’s was unusual in that it welcomes men and women to pray together – something a lot of good Anglicans might be inclined to say was a good idea.

And another thing. I’ve heard on the grapevine that a mixed group of young people, Muslim and Christian was present in Liverpool Cathedral one year on Ash Wednesday when Justin Welby was the Dean. To some surprise, the Muslim young people came forward to receive the ashes on their foreheads along with everyone else.

I believe that the quick thinking Dean (now the Archbishop of Canterbury) said something like: “May the God of Abraham which is both my God and yours bless you and keep you safe this day” and firmly put the ash on all their heads. Such things are the everyday stuff of ministry. Entirely uncontroversial and a delight and a parable of the way things should be, to all involved.

Anyone wanting to throw stones at Giles Goddard over this might find that they bounce off and hit the Archbishop of Canterbury instead.

And those who want to stir up trouble between faiths, motivated by latent homophobia, should look deep into their souls before they next try to look the God of love in the eye.

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Comments

  1. Heather Stanley says:

    My last Church gave a room to Muslims, for free to read the Qur’an.

  2. Chris Dyer says:

    Over 32 years ago a Derby church where I was on placement allowed the local Muslims to use their church room for prayers.It’s too long ago to recall the exact circumstances , and it was not without some painful discussion- but hospitality prevailed .’When I was a stranger you welcomed me’

  3. Bro David says:

    Not long ago there was a similar issue in the USA. The chapel at Duke University has allowed the campus muslim group to meet for prayers on Friday for a number of years. Duke also has recruited and pays the salary for the imam who leads the students and also id a professor of Islamic studies at Duke. But recently the Muslim students had requested that the call to prayer be allowed to be sung and amplified from the chapel’s bell tower. There was considerable opposition and the university reversed the decision to allow the students to broadcast the call from the tower. You can see the topic raised a lot of ire with some episcopalians/anglicans at The Lead;
    http://www.episcopalcafe.com/duke-university-reverses-decision-to-sound-islamic-call-to-prayer/

    • Yes – I remember that controversy, now that you mention it.

    • Katherine says:

      A broadcast call to prayer is highly intrusive, however, and unavoidable. You wouldn’t want a sung political party broadcast tannoyed five times a day in your location either – especially if it was from a party with whom you disagreed.

    • In the UK, Sutton v Bowden is the definitive precedent. Essentially, the church has no jurisdiction in deciding the use of a private or institutional chapel, even if done with the owner’s consent and in the proper legal form.
      Churches are an entirely different matter. Section 29 of the document entitled: ‘DIOCESE OF SOUTHWARK – Guidelines on civic services / events involving people of different faiths’ is relevant.

      29. No reading or other contribution from any participant should include any element hostile or contrary to the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it.
      30. It is not appropriate for somebody of another faith at a civic service in a Church of England church to lead the congregation in prayer.
      31. It is not generally appropriate for a representative of another faith to preach at a civic service in a Church of England church, though a person of another faith might be invited to offer reflections from a community perspective.
      Theologically, let’s see how that characteristic *welcome* of Christ was extended to a Samaritan woman to promote inter-faith dialogue during a discussion of their respective monotheistic beliefs:
      ‘Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. *You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.* Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21 – 24)
      Despite what Giles Goddard might have called their ‘shared heritage’, His welcome didn’t make Him reticent in declaring the relative ignorance of Samaritan worship. His welcome didn’t treat her as too fragile for truth.
      In a place consecrated to the worship of God through Christ, Giles Goddard’s public ministry should have endorsed Christ’s interfaith approach. Instead, he capitulated to a liturgical form that reverted to complete ignorance of Christ.

      He’s wrong, both ecclesiastically and theologically.

      • Bro David says:

        This wasn’t a civic service or event wherein members of other faiths had been invited to participate. So this section of the document that you quote is irrelevant. What you need to be quoting, to be relevant, would be a section that forbids a service of worship of another faith in the buildings of the Diocese of Southwark.

        It sounds to me that what Jesus said to the woman was that he was inaugurating an era where it didn’t matter where you worship; neither the place sacred to his own ancestors nor the place sacred to hers, because true worship was going to be be beyond physical locations. Which, in my mind, makes the concept you’re promoting of a physical place dedicated to the worship of God obsolete. Your emphatic pronunciation here moves you right back to the squabbles between the Samaritans and the Jews prior to the coming of the Christ, as if you didn’t understand at all what Jesus said.

        • David Shepherd says:

          Three points:

          1. In respect of consecrated church buildings, for civic services /events, the diocese has imposed explicit restrictions on the participation of other faiths. It’s a logical inference that these would be even greater for a service of worship of another faith. The reason for the restrictions is the same in both cases and therefore applicable to both.

          2. It’s ironic that you split hairs over the applicability of the guidelines to how worship might be conducted in each case, only to highlight that Christ ushered in an era in which how God is to be worshipped is incredibly important.
          3. Despite worship transcending location, it does not transcend doctrine. Christ still highlights the distinction that you’ve belittled. He declared to the woman at the well: ‘You worship you know not what’. That shows His forthrightness about the historic distinction that the Samaritans (and Muslims) would not acknowledge: ‘salvation is of the Jews’ revealed in his own Messiahship as the Son of David.

          • I can’t see any reason why guidelines on civic services should be seen as implying anything to do with inviting a group from another faith to pray in a building. The two circumstances are entirely different.

          • David Shepherd says:

            Kelvin,

            Whatever authority instigated his apology, Giles Goddard has stated on the Thinking Anglicans blog: ‘But it appears that Canons F15 and F16 may be deemed to apply, and the undertaking that I have given refers implicitly to those Canons.’ Of course, you’ll see the two circumstances as entirely different, but the document that I quoted delivers its guidance as implications of the same canon, F16.

            That said, I can’t see any further purpose in debating this matter. Let’s all move on.

  4. frdougal says:

    Even in the relatively conservative Diocese of Aberdeen this is “old hat” back in 2013 St John’s Crown Terrace hosted Muslim prayers daily http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-21953899

  5. Daniel Berry, NYC says:

    y’know, I have no objection, in principle, to the sounding of the profoundly moving Islamic call to prayer. Problem is that so many places (including the Masjid in my neighborhood) use horrible analog recordings of the Adhan on outdated amplification equipment so that they sound even worse than the overhead announcements on the subway. If they’d just invest in some good digital equipment,they could use one of the superb recordings available on YouTube.

    • When I did some teaching at an Islamic school one of the older students sang the call to prayer each time. it would be great if they could arrange to stream the call via the internet from places like that school to those Mosques who don’t have anyone suitably confident or skilled.

  6. When I worked in prison chaplaincy, the room designated as the Chapel was the only room big enough to hold Muslim Friday prayers, so that’s where we held them. The Imam was very happy with the arrangement and so were the Christian ministers, but the local bishop told me that this couldn’t really carry on.

    However, since the Chapel was never consecrated as a Christian space, it did continue, and I never felt any bad effects from it.

    Indeed, many prison managers sought to have meetings in our Chapel as they said it was ‘so peaceful’, despite the pounding bass notes from the music in the gym directly beneath.

    I did have a temporary struggle with myself about whether Muslim prayers could make a place ‘peaceful’ – but then realised that’s entirely up to God.

    It seems to me that hospitality is at the roots of Christianity so offering hospitality to Muslims who need space is not really a huge thing – unless we are scared of Islam.

    • Geoff McLarney says:

      I cannot imagine where else in a state prison a prayer service would take place but in its chapel, or what business the leadership of any one denomination that uses it would have interfering with any other. In Canadian prisons, I’m not even sure you can leave religiously-specific iconography (like a cross for example) in the chapel between services.

  7. Philippa Segrave says:

    A previous church where I was incumbent had a community of Ishmaeli Muslims praying every Friday and Saturday in the church hall. If the church community wanted the hall they used the church. This has been going on since the 1980’s!

    • Daniel Berry, NYC says:

      …and for the life of me, I can’t see why that should be a problem. Apparently for many people it never would have been a problem. However, the very ugly reactions by a relatively small group of Muslims to a long period of exploitative use of their countries and their resources has turned the entire discourse into an argument about whether or not Islam is evil. Almost boggles the mind. I doubt very much if Christian bishops would feel it necessary to investigate the sharing of a Christian worship space with a Hebrew congregation.

  8. So what’s going on in the head of the bishop of Southwark?

    http://www.southwark.anglican.org/news/pr/pr.php?id=3577
    A statement concerning recent events at St John’s Waterloo
    13 Mar 2015

    A spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwark said,

    “The Bishop of Southwark takes very seriously his responsibility to uphold the teaching of the Church and to work within its framework of legislation and guidance. It is quite clear that Islamic prayer should not take place in a consecrated building.

    This is why he has asked the Bishop of Kingston to investigate fully what happened. It is inappropriate to seek to make further public comments on this matter until this has happened.”

    Ends.

  9. Interestingly, there is even a negative response from this end of the world – by Mr.David Ould, a minister in the Sydney diocese who writes for the oddly-named ‘Stand Firm’. This site is also homophobic, sexist and xenophobic.

  10. @Geoff McLarney (re prisons) – it wasn’t his business, of course, it was a multi faith chaplaincy but the largest room in in had been designated the ‘Chapel’ long before I arrived. Common sense dictated that the largest room should be used for large meetings of any description! Everything in it was movable and adaptable, to the extent that we held 2 Good Friday meditations either side of Friday prayers, all in the same room.

    This argument has been going on for years in one form or another – I think there are still churches who won’t let their rooms out for yoga groups because yoga encapsulates a non-Christian philosophy. For me, the ethos of hospitality and fair sharing of resources overrode any other consideration. To be honest, I was uneasy to start with working in a ‘multi faith’ setting because I didn’t know a lot about non-Christian faiths, but it greatly enriched my own faith learning from others about theirs.

    • Whit Johnstone says:

      The decidedly conservative Methodist church I grew up in in Texas hosts yoga classes.

  11. James Little says:

    We did this 30 years ago in the college chapel at Queen’s, Birmingham, quite openly and with no controversy.

  12. It all seems to be a storm in a teacup. I see no reason why Islamic Prayer shouldn’t be hosted in a Church or other designated premises. At a time, when we’re seeking to build inter-faith relationships, this seems a sensible idea.

    And, I would have no issue with praying in a mosque either. That is another Holy Space, dedicated to the God of Abraham in the same was as our churches.

  13. Dharma CUTHBERT says:

    I go to a prayer service in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, and Muslims use the chapel as a place to worship. As far as I know nobody’s ever complained about this. I think that this is the way forward. As I believe Jesus would have done, welcoming all with open arms. Then hopefully we all will get too know what others think of themselves.

    • Daniel Berry, NYC says:

      To me that seems a no-brainer. and apparently many others feel and live that way. Why would we change that? Are our so-called “religious observances” more important than how we treat our neighbor? Jesus seemed not to think so.

  14. Much to consider here. I feel this deserves an extended reply, from a different perspective:

    “I believe that the quick thinking Dean (now the Archbishop of Canterbury) said something like: “May the God of Abraham which is both my God and yours bless you and keep you safe this day” and firmly put the ash on all their heads. Such things are the everyday stuff of ministry. Entirely uncontroversial and a delight and a parable of the way things should be, to all involved.”

    Um, no. It would be ‘entirely’ uncontroversial in certain circles but very much taken as evidence that this ABC has some basic principles wrong in others. am a born-again pro-ACNA/Gafcon Anglican from Liverpool where that event took place in the Cathedral (generally a wonderful place of Christian worship, I may add) and I have young friends- late teens and twenty somethings- who got saved out of secular or nominal-Christian families while growing up and go to conservative Evangelical or Charismatic churches.

    We would see Welby’s view of telling Muslims ‘the God of Abraham is both my God and yours’ as the false, unitarian/universalist, Islamic (‘people of the Book’) or modern Jewish or apostate post-Vatican-Two Roman line on other faiths, and would prefer to take the historic Protestant line i.e. he who hath not the SON hath not the Father; it’s no good to ‘honor’ the Risen Lord JESUS Christ with second greatest prophet status or as a mortal who rocked the world as a stirring teacher of the love-and-compassion ethic, you must ‘have’ Him and be ‘in Him’ born again recognizing Him as God Incarnate or you ‘hath not the Father’ i.e. you’re NOT worshiping the God of Abraham in spirit nor in truth because Christ is the fulfillment of Genesis 12 prophesy concerning Abraham’s SEED*- the self-same seed described as ‘crushing the serpent seed’ in Gen.3 which is a foretaste of Christ being described as destroying the works of Satan in the NT.

    Thus we would not see mosques as holy spaces, let alone on par with churches- what fellowship hath Christ with Belial? We are not wishing to single out any group of people for prejudice; God is no respecter of persons and hatred is a sinful work of the flesh cf Gal 5:19-21. While taking seriously the command to be hospitable to all, we and the churches most of us attend instead draw a clear distinction backed up by Scripture, church tradition and common sense between I) our ‘horizontal’ duty to show hospitality to all and not discriminate based upon religion (or lack thereof) in our work/student, family and social lives where we embrace multiculturalism and II) our ‘vertical’ duty to a Holy God to maintain his churches alongside other holy places (private Christian schools, etc.) separated *from* sin and *unto* the Gospel; these respectively reflect Christ’s command to neighbor-love as second greatest commandment and wholehearted worship of the true God as the greatest one of all.

    The latter duty entails being different from wider society and not scheduling speakers on topics of eternal import nor organized prayer alongside Christian worship on an equal footing from any group that would deny Christ’s Deity or His full humanity, the physical death and third-day Resurrection of Our Lord, salvation by grace through faith or other great essential doctrines of the Faith. Of course we welcome all as visitors and to find out more about the Christian message but in these circles we do not go by the majority opinions of 21st century Britain or feel-good ideas of unlimited equality and diversity, seeing them as a cheapening of the wondrous Faith once handed down unto the Saints and the costly blood sacrifice of the sinless Lamb who was slain because of God’s almighty love for an undeserving, sin-haunted world.

    This sort of thing is EXACTLY why most of my fellow born-again youth (probably 80% of the hundreds in Uni of Liverpool’s Christian Union for example, which is quite sharply separate from Catholic and ‘mainline Protestant’ thought) reject the Established Church and I can hardly blame them. In fact most of them disagree with such an idea in the first place, given that we ARE- as progressives say- a multifaith and increasingly secular society (the difference is we don’t view that as a positive) they feel it wrong or even blasphemous we have an officially government sanctioned Church in a land where: marriage has been redefined away from the New Testament tradition, heterosexuals are tending to marry later and later with no end in sight, Sunday church attendance figures declining annually is only eclipsed in depressing hyper-probability by dumbed-down GCSE and A-Level pass rates being “record” while Islam and militant New Atheism are the growth stocks in worldview, most of our leading educationalists believe children should be exposed to a wide array of moral stances and explicit sexual material and ‘clarify their own values’ to ‘make their own responsible choices’ while parents who support teaching Christian absolutes are mocked as intolerant and outdated, abortion is not only legal and forcibly funded by all and sundry via taxation but viewed by many socially respected people as a sacred right for women’s erotic ‘freedom’ and personal convenience, ’50 Shades of Grey’ attracts droves of what was once the more modest gender to mainstream cinemas for a S&M-palooza, the chart comedy section of your local DVD shop is monopolized by dirty-joke comedians like obstreperous atheists Ricky Gervais, Roy Chubby Brown, Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr and Brendon Burns while clean-jokes comedy is restricted to the Christian subcultural ghetto or old daytime telly re-runs, teens and adults alike continue to puff on the potent homegrown hydroponic ‘dro’ which was mostly a California thing just one generation ago while high street shops legally supply the seeds, growing equipment, scales and sniffer dog-proof baggies, Boots and supermarkets have vibrators on open display, street preacher Michael Overd can be dragged through the courts just because a fellow Christian of a much more liberal stripe was personally offended by his preaching against sodomy while those who fully approve sodomy get to offer sex-ed to teens in State schools, suggesting super strength condoms like “Durex Extra-Safe” for the much higher risk activity of buggery rather than avoidance of the behavior. That doesn’t sound like a Christian Nation to me and so it logically shouldn’t have an official Established Church.

    This is a good time to add a caveat, for the rabidly interfaithful who may take the Karen Armstrong/Michael Moore route of equating Christians who believe in a pure, exclusionary faith with fascism, crusade, inquisition, dictatorship, pharisees, the dark ages, mullahs, ayatollahs and even Talibani terrorists- the latest such wicked term of disdain being ‘Christian ISIS’. I believe God’s people ‘entering in the narrow way’ (Mt 7:14-15) will always be a minority so should not seek theocratic/Dominionist political control. God’s Word never promises to heal whole nations *other than* ancient Israel in the dispensation of the Mosaic Law; the Church can and ought to act as a social witness but its primary function is to evangelize individual sinners, edify individual saints, and exalt the Saviour. Placing the State’s sword in ecclesiastical hands has proven to be a source of deadly conflicts and highly un-Christ-like brutality by Christians down the ages, while in some parts of the world (sub-Saharan Africa most notably) this continues with efforts to impose inhumane sentencing right up to execution for homosexual activity and girl children punished of ‘witchcraft’; more widely known is the barbarity Islamic leaders of numerous nations dole out to Christians, Jews, Muslims they view as insufficiently pious, women and gays who resist repression and others based on their interpretation of Shari’ah law.

    So to prevent such things happening my preferred solution would be the American one, a country which remains far more discernibly Christian in its dominant culture than many over here in the Old World; erecting walls of separation between church (or mosque, temple &c.) and state while guaranteeing robust religious liberty for all citizens… a right *granted* by God, Who asks us to accept Jesus’ glorious salvific offer without hinting at forced conversion or pressure from the politically powerful, but which must be *recognized* by the powers that be (cf Romans 13:3-4) I will follow the command of Christ by rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s (e.g. accepting that if I were to run a business catering for weddings open to the general public, going into the legal UK market as a law-abiding citizen of our country I would have to treat same-sex couples equally and this implies no approbation for the relationship of any couple I served, man/woman or otherwise) but not rendering to Caesar what is God’s (e.g. the redefinition of the legal contract called marriage in our land provides not one iota of grounds for even *considering* redefining a churchly sacrament by that name to match the State’s and secular society’s vision of what constitutes a morally appropriate family.)

    *Seed is singular, not plural which is a problem for those who say this verse relates to all Jews for all time rather than the Mashiach from the Abrahamic/Davidic bloodline… Again an increasingly unpopular interpretation as ‘respectable’ mainline Christians sadly opted to alter their theology in ‘light’ of the Holocaust; fat lot of good that has done, if we are to judge decisions on spiritual things by their fruits. Now Christians have lost their confidence in proclaiming the exclusivity of salvation, Jews think they are heaven-bound rejecting Jesus as their Messiah, while atheists, pagans and radical leftists carry on shrieking about how ‘hitler was a christian’ and Shoah was ‘christian mass murder’ and deliberately demonize dissenters with incessant insolent ignorant appeals to the ‘no true Scotsman’ logical fallacy.)

    • Ender's Shadow says:

      Much as I agree with your theology, you approach is flawed because it fails to emphasis the purpose of the confronting the false beliefs of Islam; because their way is so much worse than that of the God of Israel revealed in Jesus, and because we love them, we can’t pretend what they are doing is OK. We must challenge the universalists on this very clearly; they are claiming the moral high ground by appealing to the modern desire for everyone to get along regardless of their beliefs. Yet if the exclusive claims of Jesus are true, then they are leading others to the Pit, and showing no real love in that.

    • For all your use of the shift key, you appear to suffer from a god diminished by partisanship.

    • Geoff McLarney says:

      Whatever are you talking about? Saying that “the God of Abraham” is worshipped by Jews, Christians, and Muslims (and Baha’is!) isn’t revisionism or “Unitarian Universalism,” just historical fact. Why do you think they are called “Abrahamic religions”?

  15. Ender's Shadow says:

    Ultimately the debate comes down to one of theology: is Allah the same god as the one revealed in the Bible? And is the prophet of Islam deeply wrong in what he offers in Qu’ran?

    Nabeel’s Qureshi’s testimony of how he found Jesus to be very different from the god he’d been taught about within Islam is ‘Seeking Allah, finding Jesus’ Zondervan 2014. It is his experience of being disillusioned about Islam as he does his own research into the life of the prophet, how he lived and what he commanded.

    A particular challenge to Islam is offered in chapter 43. In this Qureshi offers 3 verses from the Qu’ran that assure believers that they may rape women ‘whom their right hand posseses’ – i.e who are captured in battle even if they are married. (4:24, 23:6, 70:30).

    Of course these elements in Islam are largely ignored in polite company, and most Muslims are unaware of them, living peaceful and worthy lives. But this is the attitude of their prophet – who also denies fundamental Christian doctrine.

    We have a choice; we can pretend that all roads lead to God. Or we can show true love. It’s because we care about them that we shouldn’t allow them to hear, by our actions, that we believe that their god is the God of Israel who bought Jesus back from the dead.

    Qureshi’s book is a remarkable testimony, and I highly recommend it. And unless you’ve engaged with the questions that it raises, you’re assuming the best without justification.

    • God is love. Jesus said so. It is enough.

      • Daniel Berry, NYC says:

        Not for nothing, but Jesus as portrayed in the gospels seems to express almost no concern about religious observances or even about religious orthodoxy; but one verse in three in the synoptic gospels are concerned with our duty to our neighbor. The story of the good Samaritan ought, I think, to take the wind out of our arguments over who’s teaching right doctrine. I go with Kelvin–God is Love is enough–although the good Provost knows very well the quotation comes from the First Epistle of John, which, to my thinking, encapsulates the best possible digest of what Christians ought to believe and practice.

        As to criticizing the Qu’ran for its reflection of the styles of war-making in the Levant in the time the Qu’ranic tradition developed, plenty can be found in the Hebrew scriptures that is at least as rank and bloodthirsty. If you’re not convinced, a solid read-through of Numbers, Deutronomy, the books of the Judges, The Samuels and the Kings ought to settle that argument for you. Don’t deceive yourself into believing that the people of Israel were above rape in war – including rape of other men: traces of such things abound in the literatures, along with the carrying off of women with everything else that could be stolen. I feel quite certain that the same is true about the “christian” armies that sacked Constantinople and many other places going forward from the Crusades. Nothing is to be gained by pursuing that line of argument. The reality is that none of us have any high moral ground upon which to perch our traditions. Kelvin’s repairing to I John is the best possible response to any and all arguments – is, in fact, the only response possible for Christians. It’s worth mentioning, btw, that (apparently like Jesus) the Qu’ran is famously opposed to compulsion in religious matters.

        • Ender's Shadow says:

          Mr Berry is missing the point that Muslims regard their prophet as the ‘most moral of men’ and the instructions of the Qu’ran as having universal applicability in a way that noone within the Christian tradition regards the Hebrew bible as being authoritative.It was being faced with the implication of the quote from the Qu’ran:

          And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess.
          http://quran.com/4/24
          with the explanation from the Hadith that this was given when some women married to polytheistic husbands had been captured. (Salih Muslim 8:3432)

          Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (Allaah her pleased with him) reported that at the Battle of Hanain Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) sent an army to Autas and encountered the enemy and fought with them. Having overcome them and taken them captives, the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (may peace te upon him) seemed to refrain from having intercourse with captive women because of their husbands being polytheists. Then Allaah, Most High, sent down regarding that:” And women already married, except those whom your right hands possess (iv. 24)” (i. e. they were lawful for them when their ‘Idda period came to an end).

          see http://sahihmuslim.com/sps/smm/sahihmuslim.cfm?scn=dspchaptersfull&BookID=8&ChapterID=568

          i.e. the prophet is encouraging his followers to ignore their marriage status, whereas they had been respecting it. Respecting it seems to be the norm of the day…

          • Daniel Berry, NYC says:

            I’m sorry–this treating either the Qu’ran or tbe bible as magic-books does not suit my manner of believing or of religious sharing. I find that conservatives of the type posting here often find ways of using text as weapon that doesn’t become the Gospel Those who disagree with my perspective may, perhaps, find themselves quite at home in GAFCON and such like. i’m not so led and will abstain from argument with those who are. It’s the same reason that I am not an evangelical protestant or a Roman catholic or a Mormon. They’re welcome to think and believe as they do, but I’m far too inclined than is well for me to resent the patronizing tone I and others are being subject to here to participate further.

      • Ender's Shadow says:

        Actually it was John’s epistle that said that – the same author who says:

        7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist! 8 Be on your guard, so that you do not lose what we[b] have worked for, but may receive a full reward. 9 Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God; whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; 11 for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person. [2 Jn]

  16. I think we have now had enough posts suggesting that all Muslims are going to hell.

    I also think we’ve had enough posts suggesting that the Qur’an supports obnoxious behaviour whilst the Bible does not, which seem to me to fly in the face of even the most basic reading of the bible.

    I’ll not be allowing any more on this thread.

    Those who wish to write this kind of thing are encouraged to go and set up their own webspace to do so. Or, alternatively, to sit down and have a nice cup of tea.

  17. I’ve also revised the commenting policy and put a link to it up on the top menu.

  18. Rosemary Hannah says:

    The Christian view is that there is only one God, and all who worship with love and respect worship him. Of course I believe the Christian way is the best and the truest – that does not mean I think Muslims are worshiping another God.

  19. Robert McLean says:

    While I agree that hospitality is a good thing, I think there’s a vast difference between inviting a Muslim congregation to use a hall or perhaps a church if there is a pressing reason to do so (e.g. if a mosque is flooded) and inviting them for no particular reason (e.g. as the National Cathedral in Washington seemingly did recently, though perhaps there was a reason). I wonder if such ‘hospitality’ is in fact undertaken to make the Christians feel rather good about themselves.

    I also wonder what it says to the Christian refugees in own countries who have faced persecution – not the ‘George Carey kind’, but actual persecution – in places like Iraq. Were I an Assyrian Christian living in or near Washington DC I imagine I could easily feel that the National Cathedral’s message was a resounding f%#k you aimed at me and my community. Were I a Copt I might well feel the same.

    I think that there are many creative interfaith partnerships we could have – particularly in the social justice area – that don’t involve the all-too-fraught area of interfaith worship. Forging good interfaith partnerships would require a lot more effort than just unlocking the doors to the hall/church. However, they could be one way of building up trust between Western Christians, Muslim communities in the West and the displaced Eastern Christians amongst us.

    That I think is what’s needed, rather than gestures that could be regarded as being designed to help us give ourselves a pat on the back, all the while thinking how wondrously progressive and tolerant we are.

    • There are people from persecuted communities who worship in St Mary’s regularly.

      I’ve never heard any of those from the Middle East want anything other than a situation where Muslims and Christians have relations which do not result in them killing one another. Gestures seem to me to be rather important.

      • Robert McLean says:

        Sure, I’m not trying to be unduly vexatious, gestures are important and cathedrals are often good places to make such gestures. But I think that what gestures say unspoken is important to consider. My Middle Eastern friends also want a situation where Muslims and Christians have relations which do not result in them killing one another. I’m just not sure that e.g. the National Cathedral’s actions do anything to actually further that laudable goal.

        • Daniel Berry, NYC says:

          I think something big gestures at cathedrals and such like have the power to do is change the trajectory of the conversation so that when someone says “All Muslims this” or “All Christians that,” something concrete and be pointed at that indicates that broadbrushed statements are liable to be fallacious. VERY import for people who aren’t equipped to examine complicated religious and political issues. And besides, would it be better, then, for “grand gestures” to be omitted? I sorta’ doubt it.

    • Bro David says:

      Robert M, what you are doing in this post is classic concern trolling. You come here and put yourself in what you imagine is the mindset of a local expat religious minority and how they feel with regard to the actions of a different majority religious group. But if you aren’t a member of that expat group, you can’t possibly know what their feelings are or that they even noticed what occurred.

      And you forget/ignore that the powder keg situations in the Middle East are based around issues with radical extremists, when in fact millions of Muslims and Christians live as neighbors in peace in many other parts of the world.

      • Robert McLean says:

        Sorry, Br David, that’s not what I’ve done at all. I’ve talked about this at some length with a very close friend who is an Assyrian refugee. He fled with his family from Iraq, spent two years as an asylum seeker then refugee in Turkey and who was then granted residency in Australia. Those of his family who are left in Baghdad are regularly harassed by IS sympathisers. So it isn’t ‘concern trolling’. Even if it were, I don’t think that there’s anything necessarily wrong with trying to put yourself in another person’s shoes.

        My friend has worshipped at my parish church a few times and I have worshipped at his cathedral here. When asked by me what he would think if my parish invited Muslims to worship in our church his response was pretty visceral – ‘I think you’d have become insane. I wouldn’t worship there again’. I have no reason to think that any of his family here or in Iraq, or any of the thousand or so people who attend his cathedral each Sunday would think any differently.

        You’re right to point out that millions of Muslims and Christians live as neighbours in peace in many other parts of the world. But there are thousands of Assyrians in my own city, and other Eastern Christians who have been traumatised both physically and mentally by people who call themselves Muslim and I think we need to respect that and support them.

        I’d be interested to know, for example, what the National Cathedral has done for their Assyrian/Chaldean/Coptic etc brothers and sisters both in the US and in the Middle East since they were hardly publicity shy when it came to promoting what they were doing for their Muslim neighbours.

        So, in summary, I think that it’s right and proper that (a) cathedrals make gestures; (b) we Anglicans/Episcopalians work to promote harmony on an interfaith level (with the caveat that I think interfaith worship is on the whole too fraught to achieve this); (c) we Western Christians support the traumatised Christian communities – our sisters and brothers – in the Middle East and those now among us.

        • Bro David says:

          Conversation(s) that you have had with one Assyrian Christian, who has allowed his horrendous experience with militant radical Muslims, who have been condemned by other Muslims around the world, to color his opinion of all the Muslims in the world, is supposed to influence all of the rest of the Christians in the world to reign in their relationships with their Muslim neighbors.

          I think that there are Christians all over the world, but also specifically in the west, who are concerned and are respecting and supporting persecuted and traumatized Christians from the Middle East in myriads of ways, while at the same time, still reaching out with respect to their Muslim neighbors as well.

          • Robert McLean says:

            Bro David, I really don’t think it’s helpful to dismiss the experience of large numbers within various Christian communities in the Middle East as if that experience was confined to one person. Belittling what they’ve had to deal with doesn’t do anyone a favour.

            I really would like to think that you’re right that there are Christians all over the world who are supporting our traumatised brothers and sisters in Christ, but, to be honest, I don’t see terribly much evidence – at least in this part of the world.

            Moreover, I’m yet to read on the internet about what a single Anglican/Episcopal church or cathedral has done for any of them, whereas I’ve read a number of reports about churches/cathedrals inviting Muslim congregations to use their buildings for Muslim prayers without any pressing issue of hospitality (e.g. a flooded mosque). I don’t think I’ve seen any reports of mosques being used for Christian worship without any pressing issue of hospitality (e.g. a flooded church) either for that matter – but maybe there have been reports in the Islamic press.

            I am not saying that the Church’s reaching out with respect to our Muslim neighbours isn’t important, rather I think it’s crucial, if done for the right motives. However, if such reaching out means that we do nothing to help the traumatised, then I believe that the Church needs to reassess its priorities. But perhaps that’s just little old me.

          • Bro David says:

            Robert, since I know first hand from posting here for a number of years that Father Kelvin grows weary of threads which become long and boring, this will be my departing post to you. BTW, am I correct in discerning from your comments that you live in Australia?

            English is my 2nd language, but I am certain that I have nowhere in this thread belittled the experience of any Christians anywhere in the world at the hands of those who adhere to other faiths. In fact I pray for them daily, and through the various ministries of my local congregation, I participate in out reach to less privileged Christians around the world. And it is for this reason I have responded to you, because your posts here, however mildly phrased in concern troll fashion, are very judgmental of your fellow Christians with regard to their response to their Christian and non-Christian neighbors. And you base this on a conversation with one of your Christian neighbors in your patch of earth, and upon what you do and don’t read posted on the internet about what Christians in other parts of the world may be or may not be doing.

            Judge not that you be not judged with your own method of judging.

            Take the grit from your own eye before trying to remove grit from the eyes of others.

            Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.

            Religion which is pure and blameless…

            Lord when did we see you…

  20. Nadine Daniel says:

    Re: the Ash Wednesday service at Liverpool Cathedral. Some background. The group of young Muslims had not just wandered in on a guided tour. They had travelled from Northern Nigeria with young Christians. They were accompanied by Archbishop Josiah Fearon,memo had brought them to Coventry Cathedral, where he had worked with Archbishop Justin when he was in charge of their Reconcilliation ministry.
    The point of their visit was that there had been communal violence between Christians and Muslims for many years (and there still is). On one occasion the Dean of Jos used his sermon to demonstrate how to strip down and clean an AK47. It was not good.
    Archbishop Fearon and a very senior Muslim, had spent many years reconciling the two communities, with some considerable success. It was felt that taking the young people right out of the area so they could learn more about each other in a neutral space, would help the whole community in the long run.
    Now here’s the thing.mthe trip had been organised with Justin Welby before he left Coventry to become Dean of Liverpool, but when the group turned up in Coventry, let’s just say things had changed. A phone call was made (I know because I was there) and the whole group put on the next available train to Liverpool.
    All the young people were welcomed. They were shown around the Cathedral. It was explained to them that it was a very Holy Day in the Christian Church and that we had a number of services. The group then went off to explore Liverpool. We were not expecting them to return for the Sung Eucharist, we really had no idea. The young Christains in the group decided that they wanted to attend, and their by now, firm friends who were Muslim decided that they should all return.
    We were totally taken by surprise, but made them welcome, gave them service sheets etc. the last thing any of us expected was for the young Muslims to join their Christian friends at the altar rail.
    Would it have been Christian to ask them to leave? To ignore them? To show them that all they had achieved counted for nothing?
    It is worth noting that as a Diocese, Liverpool is quite Evangelical, yet not one person present at that service complained. In total there were two “green ink” emails, both from people who had heard from someone else what someone else had said had happened.
    We continue Justin Welby’s insistence on Welcome. At the last Service to mark the startbofnthe legal year, HHJ Clement Goldstone QC the Jewish Recorder of Liverpool read from the Torah, and Adam Kelwick the Muslim Cahplain to the High Sheriff read from the Quran. Our roof is still intact, and nobody died.
    Today I will run a pantry session for Hope+ a community outreach programme run by both the Anglican and Roman Cathloic Cathedrals, and supported by all the faith communities in Liverpool. We will run the session in a beautiful RC (Pugin) Church….it is very much a church. Our volunteers will look after our guests who will come from all the various ethnicities you get in Liverpool, and a large number of newly arrived asylum seekers. Our volunteers will include an Elderly Irish nun, a Scottish Presbryterian pathologist, a Baptist member of the Jesus Army, two Sunni Muslims, one Shi’a Muslim, one Iranian Christian convert,mand a Hindu Tamil. Before we start, we shall do what we do before every session, we shall pray together…to God.
    On a Theological point: all three Abrahamic faith acknowledge one God and one God only. So if their is only one God as we all believe, how can there be more than One God? Therefore the One God that all Jews, Christians and Muslims worship is one and the same.

    • Daniel Berry, NYC says:

      I live in New York City and love it but you’re making me wish I lived in Liverpool. Thanks for a wonderful posting. How I wish I had been there on Ash Wednesday!

    • Isn’t this just wonderful? (The Ash Wednesday service)

      And regarding your last comment . . .
      On a Theological point: all three Abrahamic faith
      acknowledge one God and one God only.
      It is sad when we try and limit God (whatever you conceive that word to mean) to our particular culture, or language. I am sure that God is not so limited . . . and fundamentalists of all religious kinds so often think that only they understand the will of God . . . perhaps even better than God?

      I have come to the point where I believe that inter-faith (while maintaining our own traditions) is the way of the future . . . we cannot keep clinging on to past fossilised understandings as the only possible truth there is — with the assumed proviso that “this is what God prefers.” What arrogance! How can we know?

      And as for the bishop who is having an investigation of Muslim prayers taking place in a consecrated building. What can one say but, “Get a life, bishop!”

      I go back to where I started, having read about the Ash Wednesday Eucharist in Liverpool Cathedral . . . isn’t this wonderful? Human beings (all of whom are children of God) are being brought together and included.

      We Christians, sadly, have a long history of excluding people for petty matters of belief or custom. It is time we got over this.

      • Daniel Berry, NYC says:

        I’ve long felt that many of us love our religions far more than we seek to love our neighbors as ourselves. This probably accounts for how many use the bible or the Qu’ran.

        The principal teachings of Islam, Judaism and Christianity are techniques for submission, surrender to the love and will of God. I don’t know what else there is or can be. But it seems that topic ought to be where our conversations with each other ought to focus.

    • That’s a great story…but what’s the relevance? Muslims attending a Christian service by choice. Great. But this story is about an Anglican incumbent worshipping Allah.

      How does one shed light on the other?

      • According to some of the Arabic speaking Christians I know, we all worship Allah.

        • That’s a bit like saying we believe the same as anyone who uses the word ‘god’. Christians use Allah to refer to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Muslims do not.

          • Daniel Berry, NYC says:

            Christians use the word to refer to the God of Jesus, a/k/a the God of Abraham. So to Muslims.

          • Well, we believe there is only one God. I can understand a Christian taking the view that Muslims do not worship properly or that Muslims don’t understand the God they worship in ways that are compatible with Christianity. I can even understand people trying to convert Muslims to Christianity though I think that acts of love are probably going to be the most effective ways of doing so.

            To deny that Muslims worship the same God as Christians does seem to me to be bizarre. If Paul could recognise those worshipping “an unknown god” as people who were worshipping the same God as he was and then use that recognition to go on to share his experience of God with them, then it doesn’t seem to me to be that difficult for us to presume that the Muslims are worshipping the same God as we are worshipping.

          • Rosemary Hannah says:

            We do not ‘believe the same’ as Muslims. Come to that I do not believe the same as you in all respects, whoever ‘you’ is. But we worship the same God. No all our ideas are not the same, yes the same God. Allah, as understood by Muslims, is not some evil and capricious deity – he is merciful and compassionate. There is only one God like that, and he is the God, the only God. That is not to smudge the areas where we disagree, but to emphasise those where we do. There is a time and a place to talk about heartfelt disagreements. There is a time to acknowledge common ground.

      • Daniel Berry, NYC says:

        Al-lah is an Arabic word which means “God.” Something wrong with that? Are you aware of the fighting in Malaysia because bibles used by Christians in that country call God, “Al-lah”?

        What word would you suggest Arabic-speaking believers use? “god”?

      • Rosemary Hannah says:

        There is only one God – Greek speakers are not worshipping another God because they call the Lord Kyrios. It is just different languages.

        • Daniel Berry, NYC says:

          I’m with Ms Hannah. According the Paul, the vocation of the church is the “ministry of reconciliation.” Hateful rhetoric toward those whose belief system doesn’t match our own does little to advance that ministry–and certainly isn’t going to make the world safer for anyone. I for one have heard enough from people who find it necessary to demonize those of traditions that vary from their own. And we see it not just among different religious groups, but even within them–Christians, Muslims and Jews whose hate for one another over differences of believing and practice are a scandal to their own communities. Nothing is to be gained from continuing down that road, but much can be gained by turning from it.

          • Daniel, what is ‘hateful’ about being honest about difference, and objecting to a ‘fudge’?

        • Rosemary, I really don’t know what you mean by ‘the same God.’ Christians, in essence, believe that Jesus is the full revelation of God in human form. Muslims believe that even to suggest this is an insult to God’s transcendence and majesty, and that Christians are, in this central regard, seriously and heretically misguided.

          So what, exactly, do you mean?

          • Ian are you aware that you sound as though you are arguing your way out of monotheism?

          • I think I am only doing what Paul did, since I am borrowing his language. I would hope that means I am arguing my way *into* Trinitarianism.

          • Sounds very much as though you believe different communities have their own gods.

          • Rosemary Hannah says:

            Kelvin says it for me. Ian, you sound as if you think there IS more than one God. Of course Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the second Person of the Trinity, who is one God in three Persons. Of course Muslims think this is heresy. Of course we disagree. But we do agree there is One God, and we all acknowledge that the God of Abraham is God. That God is truly God.

          • Dr Hannah

            I think the question of whether there ‘is’ more than one deity, and whether the Christian Scirptures say there are no gods beside God, or God is great above all gods, is an interesting discussion. The texts, including Paul’s in 1 Cor 8-10, point at times both ways.

            But they are consistently clear that whatever these gods are, they are not the same. To worship Islam’s Allah is clearly to deny Christ and reject Trinitarian belief.

            Dr Paul

          • Bro David says:

            To worship Allah according to Islam’s understanding of Allah would be to accept Christ as a prophet and reject a trinitarian concept of Allah. To worship Allah according to Christianity’s understanding of Allah would be to reject Mohammad as a prophet. I see that as two discordant understandings of Allah, but still the belief in the One God, the God of Abraham, not a belief in two Gods.

            David Allen, Lic en Psy, MTh*
            *This is no longer just a pissing contest of whose God is better, but who has what shingles on their wall. I submit to having less than others here. 😀

  21. John B. Chilton says:

    Over at Episcopal Café we welcome your comments on this development:

    http://www.episcopalcafe.com/no-more-muslim-prayer-services-in-coe-church/

  22. Rosemary Hannah says:

    (For the avoidance of doubt, as our Scottish lawyers say, it is actually Dr Hannah, both my degrees being from theology departments. That neither improves nor weakens my arguments.)

  23. Rosemary Hannah says:

    You see, Ian, I don’t think there is more than one God. I am mildly astonished that you do, and I can see that this does give you problems. In fact I suppose it changes the whole ball game. For those who believe there is only one God, then all our worship is directed to God. I am happy to worship along side others, as long as they understand what (in broad terms) my ideas of God are, and that I do not agree with them upon everything. I think one can take it that Muslims understand that Christians believe that Jesus is fully a man, and fully God, even as they disagree with us. We are not disavowing our beliefs if we worship along side them. and let me try one last time. Allah is a word for God. To call God ‘Allah’ no more means one accepts all the ideas of Islam than calling God ‘Deus’ means accepting all the ideas of Rome about Jove. If there were genuine misunderstanding then it might be different. But there quite plainly is no misunderstanding.

    • Rosemary, I find it odd that you are ‘mildly astonished.’ All I am doing, at one level, is picking up Paul’s exploration of this question (in a not dissimilar context) from 1 Cor 8: 4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so–called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

      It is interesting here that, in the context of dispute about whether other gods are ‘real’, Paul returns to the Shema of Deut 6.4, and then folds the identity of Jesus into this (Prof Larry Hurtado describes this as ‘dyadic’). But it is also interesting that Paul leaves open the question of whether the other gods are ‘real’.

      This in turn leads to the philosophical question of whether Christian belief is monotheistic in the strict sense (‘There is only one God’) or actually henotheistic (‘There is only one God who is worthy of our worship’).

      But at another level, I am just making a common sense observation. If we are all (perhaps inadequately) worshipping the same one God, who should we include in that? You propose Muslims, but what about Sikhs or Hindus? Or Buddhists, who are not sure they are worshipping a god at all? Or animists, who worship the life force in all creation? What about people who worship the forces that direct psychics, or the movements of planets? What about Satanists—is the Satan that they worship really God in disguise? And what about those who worship mammon, or sex in our culture?

      When is a god not a god? And when a god is a god, in what sense is it a representation of the one true God? Where do you draw the line, and on what grounds?

      • So, who or what do you think the Muslims in St John’s Waterloo were in fact worshipping Ian?

        And are you saying that you yourself lean towards a henotheistic view rather than monotheism?

      • Rosemary Hannah says:

        Such is the complexity of this thread and such is the business of my day, I’ve only just found this. Ian, one thing you can be perfectly sure Muslims are not doing is worshipping idols. Nor indeed do the believe in a multiplicity of gods. I do not think I understand your point.

  24. Rosemary Hannah says:

    David I put my title because I don’t much like Ms – I am usually Rosemary, but I use my academic title and not Miss, Mrs or Ms. I was Very careful to say I do not think it makes any difference to my arguments. But it does happen to be my correct title.

    • Bro David says:

      Never fear Dr Hannah, I love to add levity to seriousness. Father K has allowed me to do it twice in this thread. I like to think that it’s something that Jesus would do!

  25. “Allah” just means “God” in Arabic: Arabic-speaking Christians use it All.The.Time.

    Are we THAT wed, idolatrously, to the word “G – O – D”? If not, unless these Muslims said something specifically *against* the Christian proclamation (“Jesus is Not the Son of God!” “Cursed be he who does not acknowledge Muhammad as greater than Jesus!”), what’s the problem?

    As Jesus held up the Good Samaritan as model (of hospitality to the outsider), I’m SO glad we could offer hospitality to Inclusive Muslims. Jesus smiled. 🙂

  26. Father David says:

    Quick thinking indeed from Dean Welby in Liverpool cathedral in the unusual choice of words that he used but did he mark our Muslim brothers and sisters with the Christian Cross or the Muslim Cresent?
    It is heartening to read that the Dean of Glasgow is being so protective towards the ABC when he has been so critical of Justin Welby in previous blog entries.

    • Thank you – I’ve been critical of things that Justin Welby has said and done, not of Justin Welby. That’s a fine distinction but not one that is widely understood.

      I’m not the Dean of Glasgow though.

  27. Barry says:

    Dear Kelvin, I always read your blog with interest, and usually with hearty agreement, so I find it disquieting to be in disagreement with you and some other contributors to this discussion. Let me say that I am no scriptural literalist, I am strongly pro-gay, and I try to be alert to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches. If I have to stick a label on myself – though I dislike labels – I am a liberal minded Catholic Anglican.

    It seems to me that much of what has been said in this discussion reveals the perennial weakness of mere liberalism, which is that it ends by reducing itself to a benevolent individualism where each can choose what s/he will believe. As Christians, however, we are baptised into one Body, and that involves us in adherence to the creeds of the Church. I am not free to believe what I like on the central doctrines of the faith, and at the heart of them stands Jesus Christ, “the only-begotten Son of God.” If we are not going to adhere to that teaching and proclaim it – along with the Trinitarian faith of which it is part – then it is time for us to shut up shop.

    Talk about belief in one God is misleading. Nobody, I imagine, is seriously disputing that God is one. It matters a great deal, however, what we believe about that God, and once again the creeds of the Church have to be our foundation. For that reason, and with no desire to be hostile, I do not think it is appropriate to invite those who do not adhere to the Christian creeds to make their formal prayers in our churches. (For that matter, I would consider that I was showing disrespect were I to make my Christian prayers in a synagogue or mosque.) By all means let us strive to live in peace and mutual good will with those of other faiths, but not at the price of playing down the core beliefs of our own faith. We have no business removing the scandal of the Incarnation and the Cross.

    • I’m unsure as to how inviting Muslims to a Carol Service is in any way removing the scandal of the incarnation.

      I’d have thought it was quite good way of sharing our delight in the God who has come amongst us.

      As I’ve said before, I say the Creed without crossing my fingers.

    • Rosemary Hannah says:

      I don’t see it works like that. Let me put it another way – sometimes, at Christmas or Easter, one of my children will come to church. None of them are Christians, though the degree to which they do not believe varies. Do I feel that their being there somehow makes MY acts of faith invalid? No. In fact I welcome them being there, I enjoy it.

      Years ago at school, I was in a minority in believing. Looking back, the headmistress who took the services had no faith at all (and the way that I as Scripture Monitor put mine into action irritated her weekly). But the services where I collaborated with her over what was (in those days) an avowedly Christian act of worship were not, I think, either less or more valid because of her participation.

      It is a matter of fact that I share more common belief in God with Muslims than I do with my children, and a great deal more than I did with the headmistress of my school. Why does sharing what we CAN share in any way involve compromising what we cannot?

      The Muslims who worship along side us know what we believe, they do not expect us to disavow it, or expect us to ask them to disavow what they believe. We share what we can. What we cannot share, we respect in each other.

      The whole upset in London seems to be based on the idea that undertaking worship with others can only be done when identical beliefs are present – and given how varied beliefs are in the average congregation on a Sunday that must make for some difficulties.

  28. Weird, isn’t it – Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Boston, Mass can have a full Jewish expression of faith within it for years and no comment from the usual suspects, but when a gay man invites a group of Muslims to say some prayers led by a woman in a church in London all hell breaks loose.

    http://www.emmanuelboston.org/commun…/central-reform-temple/

  29. Father David says:

    Dear Not the Dean of Glasgow, You obviously do things differently North of the Border than we do here in England as, for example, the Dean of Durham is definitely the Dean of Durham! A very fine distinction indeed between what a person says and the person themselves which is not at all easy to differentiate, separate or divorce.
    However, there is a world of difference at the Imposition of Ashes between saying “May the God of Abraham, which us both my God and yours bless you and keep you safe this day” and “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.” The latter reminds us of our mortality and is also highly evangelistic in nature, including, as it does, the need for repentance.
    Congratulations, Dean Kelvin for coming up with the most novel reason for the removal of pews i.e. to enable Moslems to worship with greater ease in a Christian fane. I wonder what the DAC would make of that?
    By the way, may I congratulate you on your fascinating, entertaining, stimulating and controversial Blog. Since I discovered it I have become a regular viewer, often disagreeing with what you write but at the same time finding your words to be both thought provoking and challenging. Thank you.

  30. Father David says:

    My apologies in erroneously referring to you as Dean, Mr. Provost. I should have read your title page with greater care. In England Provosts were abolished some time ago and all English cathedrals now have Deans.

  31. Mark Bratton says:

    With a nod to Roy Bhashar:

    Christians and Muslims believe transitively in the intransitive God – a monotheistic rather than henotheistic position admittedly!

  32. Daniel Berry, NYC says:

    I have one thing further to say about this thread: nobody is meaner to Christians than other Christians. The lock-step stuff about what you have to believe the words you must express it in, the uniformity of doctrinal expression that must be observed are about as un-Anglican as anything I can imagine. I see a lot of idolatry around words and even around doctrines that aren’t needed and don’t help dialogue. I can’t help wondering of this kind of stuff comes about as a result of making Jesus a religion instead of a path of discipleship that leads to eternal life. You know–kinda like the Way, the Truth and the Life? Jesus’ way is the way to the Father, but the Jesus of the Gospels, preoccupied as he seems to have been with how we treat one another (without bothering to distinguish between those with and without doctrinal purity) seems to have very little interest in religious observances or ideas of “orthodoxy” that have, over and over again, made is argue, fight and even kill one another. It really doesn’t help anything. We need to get a grip: our duty to love our neighbor as hourselves includes our Muslim neighbors. And the Gospel says nothing about examining them for appropriate credal formulas. If you think having your Muslim neighbors praying inside your church buildings is a bad thing then something is very, very wrong. And now I have done. Full Stop.

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