A CatDog Faith<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out."
A few years ago there was a cartoon on Nickelodeon called "CatDog." The star of the show was a creature that was half-cat, half-dog. In case you aren't seeing it correctly in your mind, you might remember the Pushme-Pullyou from Dr. Doolittle, a llama-like creature that was essentially the fronts of two animals joined at the midsection. Now you might be getting the picture. CatDog had the head and body of the cat on one end, and the head and body of the dog on the other. The show was about how two seemingly diametrically-opposed types of creatures could co-exist as a single being, having to compromise in order to accomplish anything.
While everything is possible in the land of illustration, real life has limitations. Take, for example, the idea that during the cold war someone could have been loyal to both the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />USSR and the United States. One side demanded loyalty to the state above the rights and freedoms of the individual. The other side championed the rights and freedoms of the individual above all else (well, it was supposed to be that way, in a nutshell). How about sports? Is it possible to be a die-hard Cubs fan and a die-hard Cards fan? Being a Cubs fan, I can say without a doubt it is impossible.
So how could it be that someone would think it possible to be both a devout Christian and a devout Muslim? Wouldn't that be a CatDog, requiring constant compromise? I'm not talking about someone who dabbles in religion here, I'm talking about someone who is an ordained Reverend, or rather was ordained. In Seattle, the reverend (I use the lowercase "r" on purpose here because of, in my opinion, lack of reverence) Ann Holmes Redding of the Episcopal Church USA is losing her collar for a year so she can "reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and what I see as the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam" according to the Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island where Redding was sworn in 20 years ago. Rhode Island maintains disciplinary control over Redding. At this point I have to say, "Thank God for Reverend Wolf" since the Bishop in Seattle, the Right Reverend Vincent Warner of the Diocese of Olympia, has no problem with Redding being both Christian and Muslim.
One of the most basic tenets of Christianity is that Jesus is the Son of God, and God is "Abba, Father" to Jesus. Jesus is a part of the Holy Trinity, the triune God. God created man. He is the spiritual father of man. We, as Christians, believe we are "sons and daughters of God" because of our faith in Jesus, the Christ. Not so with Redding. She believes that Jesus was a man, not divine, and that she is equal to him. She thinks that he was a good role model. As reported in The Seattle Times, when asked about her opinion of the divinity of Jesus, she responded, "I believe that Jesus is divine in the same way in which all humans are related to God as children of God. Jesus is different in degree, not kind; that means that he shows me most fully what it means to be in total submission to and identification with God."
That pretty much says it all. Case closed. So much for the virgin birth. She thinks Jesus is not divine, different only in degree - He was just a better person than she is. Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet and teacher. Redding believes she is on an equal par with Jesus. I would say I hate to disagree with her, but that would be a lie. I'm proud to disagree with her. I'm happy to say that I don't think I'm as divine as Jesus. Redding doesn't believe Jesus is the Son of God, which means that she is not a Christian, but a pseudo-Christian Moralist at best.
Redding thinks that grace will save her when her day of reckoning comes. Personally, I'd like to be there when God asks why she thought it was okay to abandon His Son and start praying to Allah instead of Jehovah. I am, after all, the curious type, which is one of the reasons I became a journalist. In the interim, I would suggest she re-read John 14:6-7 and Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus told us He is the Son of God. Again, I'd like to be there when Redding tells Jesus that He is a liar. Of course, from what I've seen in recent years, she will be part of a large contingent of "preachers" with some "splainin' to do."
I fully admit that I haven't read the Qur'an cover-to-cover. Redding thinks it and the Bible teach the same message. True, there are similarities. In fact, some people think a good part of the Qur'an was simply a re-writing of the Old Testament. I would tend to agree with that to an extent. But Sharia law does not exist in Christianity. It is also completely against any form of logic or reason to believe that Islam's Allah is one and the same with our Judeo-Christian God when Islam teaches that Christians and Jews are infidels because we do not follow Allah and the five pillars of Islam. To which part of her CatDog god is Redding claiming obedience?
Jesus died to take away the sins of the world. He shed His blood as a final act of penance for all mankind. Redding said, "I don't think God said, 'Let me send this special person that I can kill him for the benefit of the rest of humanity.' That's not the kind of sacrifice I think that God desires." Isn't that pretty much another basis of the Christian faith that Redding is denying? She says that Jesus was not the unblemished Lamb of God who died for our sins. What further proof does anyone need to realize that she is not a Christian?
Kudos to the Episcopal Church, or at least the Right Reverend Wolf, for finally taking an action in defense of Christianity. I think it is unfortunate that Redding was not permanently stripped of her robes. She is not fit for the pulpit because she is not a Christian. The next step should be for the ECUSA Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schiroi to put Warner on a list of people only one step away from that one-year vacation. But I'm sure that's never going to happen. I bet Schiori cringed when she agreed to the Redding action, but Big Sister probably realizes by now that the Episcopal Church is like sand in her aluminum-foil fist, slipping out more quickly the more she tries to tighten her reformist (meaning anti-traditional at all costs, including the Church, itself) grip.
We've all questioned our faith at one time or another. The pulpit, however, is no place for anyone who claims that they are on par with Jesus, or that Jesus is somehow inferior or even equal to Muhammad. You can't serve two masters. You're a Christian or you aren't, and Redding "aren't." The trust, like Elvis, has left the building and it's never coming back. CatDog is imaginary, and so is Redding's bilateral loyalty. It cannot be reconciled, and it cannot be tolerated. Redding has personally chosen to replace her collar with a millstone. The Christian Church should not allow anyone in the pulpit who teaches that Jesus is not the way, truth and life, or that there is any way to the Father except through Him (are you hearing that Mr. Osteen?). Redding is a hand which must be cut off by the Church in order to save the body, lest she lead any others to sin by disclaiming the divinity of Je
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