Can a person belong to two religions?
Harmonizing Christianity & Islam
How one might harmonize Christianity and Islam:
Most faith groups require their adherents to follow a specific
group of beliefs. Comparing beliefs between two faith groups within the
same religion, or between two religions will often produce conflicts. However, it is possible
for some to harmonize liberal/progressive
Christianity with the basic tenets of Islam. It remains impossible to
harmonize Islam with Christian fundamentalist and other evangelical
For example, most conservative and mainline Christian
denominations expect their followers to believe in
certain cardinal beliefs, such as:
Most conservative Christian faith groups also include:
However, many liberal Christians and
Progressive Christians believe that the Bible contains God's Word but
is not God's word in its entirety. They may point to passages in the
Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) that condoned and regulated human slavery,
forced rape victims to marry their rapist, forced widows to marry their brother
in law, that described God ordering genocide, etc. They believe that God did not
inspire the Bible's authors in the sense that he
preserved them from including any errors in
their writing. Rather, the
authors wrote of their concepts of God, humanity, and the rest of the universe
from within the limitations provided by their own culture and minimal scientific
Many liberal and progressive Christians reject the concept of
the Trinity and the deity of Christ, and believe as the original Christians did.
During the early fourth decade CE, before the arrival of
Paul, Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were the only known Christian movement. Their group was composed of
reform Jews, and was founded by the followers of Jesus. They were
led by James the brother of Jesus, and by Peter. They regarded Jesus as a great
prophet, but as a human and not as a deity. They believed that God was single and indivisible.
They engaged in animal sacrifices in the Temple, observed the Jewish holy days,
followed kosher dietary laws and circumcised their male infants. By adopting the
beliefs of these earliest Christians, rather than modern-day believers, it is
much easier to harmonize Islam and Christianity. Two of the main beliefs of Islam:
That God is single and
That Jesus was a fully human, not divine, prophet,
shared both by Muslims and by these original Christians.
Potentially major stumbling blocks while harmonizing the two
faiths involve the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, as well as
criteria for individual
Christians, throughout history, have believed that the Roman
Army crucified Jesus, that he died, was
resurrected, and ascended to heaven. Most
believe in the atonement -- that Jesus death gave some or all humans a path to salvation.
Muslims believe, and the Qur'an teaches, that another person
was crucified in Jesus' place. They believe that God would never have allowed his greatest
prophet up to that time to be executed. They do not believe that Jesus was
resurrected. They do believe that Jesus ascended bodily to Heaven, but at a later time
than Christians believe.
Many liberal and progressive Christians either reject or
reinterpret the resurrection, ascension, salvation and atonement.
On the positive side, most Christians and all or essentially all
Muslims believe in Jesus' virgin birth and anticipate his second coming.
Rev. Redding's harmonization of Islam and Christianity:
As noted elsewhere, Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, 55,
was ordained as an priest of the Episcopal Church, USA in 1984. She has since
accepted Islam and regards herself as following both religions.
She realizes that there are many Christians and
Muslims who will not accept her decision. She says: "I don't care. They can't
take away my baptism." Also, once she has said the shahada she became
a Muslim. It would take a decision by a Muslim court to rule
that she is not a Muslim.
She told the Diocese of Olympia’s Episcopal Voice newsletter that:
"... the way I understand Jesus is compatible with Islam [While some
Christians and Muslims] think I must convert from one to the other, the more
I go down this path the more excited I am about both Christianity and Islam.
... I was following Jesus and he led me into Islam, and he didn’t drop me
off at the door. He's there too."
"For me to become a human being means to identify solely with the will of
God. Islam gives me the tools to do that."
"We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus
and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the 'only begotten son of
God.' That's how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal."
"When we say Jesus is the only begotten one, we are saying he’s unique in
some way. Islam says the same thing. He’s the only human aside from Adam who
is directly created by God, and he’s different from Adam because he has a
human mother. So there’s agreement—this person is unique in his relationship
"I agree with both because I do want to say that Jesus is unique, and for
me, Jesus is my spiritual master." 4
She said that every day: "I pray not to cause
scandal or bring shame upon either of my traditions."
She doesn't feel that she has to resolve all of the contradictions between
the two faiths. She notes that people within a single religion often disagree on
the details of belief. She adds:
"So why would I spend time to try to reconcile all of
Christian belief with all of Islam? At the most basic level, I understand the two
religions to be compatible. That's all I need."
According to the Associated Press, Redding believes that:
The Trinity is a concept of God that is not to be taken
She does not believe that Jesus and God are part of the same
She regards Jesus as the son of God, in the sense that all humans are
the children of God.
She believes that Jesus is divine in the sense that all humans
are divine and that God dwells within all of us.
She does believe that the crucifixion and resurrection of
Jesus were historical events. She recognizes that these beliefs conflict with
the Qur'an. She said: "That's something I'll find
a challenge the rest of my life."
She regards Jesus as her savior. She said that: "He has
connected me with God." 1
In adopting beliefs that conflict with
traditional Christian concepts, she has almost certainly deviated from
the doctrines of the Episcopal church. A case can be made that she has
violated her vows taken at her ordination, and that she could be charged with
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Janit I. Tu, "Reverend drawn to
Muslim faith," The Columbian, WA, 2007-JUN-17, at:
"Islam and Christianity; Common grounds," Reading Islam,
mOok, "The Theological Toilet," mOokblog, 2007-JUN-08, at:
George Conger, "US Priest says Islam Christianity are united,"
As of 2007-JUN-18, A Google search for
redding islam christianity
returned about 2,800 hits; within two days, this had risen to 3,300.
Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2007-JUN-18
Latest update: 2007-JUN-20
Author: B.A. Robinson