(By Mateen Elass, originally posted on his personal blog.) The Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Anglican Communion in Great Britain seem locked in a neck and neck race to see which denomination can best debase the gospel message by bowing in submission before Islam.
You may recall that at the opening worship service of the most recent General Assembly meeting of the PCUSA (June 2016, in Portland, OR), that denomination’s top leaders decided to invite a local Muslim to help lead in worship. Prior to his scripted prayer (which drew from verses in the Qur’an), Mr. Wajdi Said began by chanting in Arabic (for which no translation was given): “I seek refuge with Allah from Satan the accursed.” He followed this with a recitation of the Fatiha, the opening Sura of the Qur’an, which contains a prayer asking Allah to guide those praying to the “straight path” (i.e., Islam), not the path of those who have incurred Allah’s wrath (i.e., the Jews), nor the path of those who have gone astray (i.e, the Christians). After this unscripted beginning, Mr. Said turned to his assigned liturgy. The Presbyterian leadership saw nothing wrong with this travesty, believing apparently that they were contributing to “interfaith dialogue” (although they labeled it “ecumenical dialogue at the time). Of course, there is nothing wrong with true interfaith dialogue, but to make it part and parcel of a service purporting to worship the Trinitarian God of the Bible is at the very least dimwitted and at worst blasphemous. (For detailed analysis of this event, check out “Wide Is the [Straight] Path…”.) Only when subsequent objections became too loud and numerous did then Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons issue a weak and whispered apology to any who “might have been offended” (See Gradye Parsons and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Apology.) Apparently the message of the gospel, which Christians down through the ages have suffered martyrdom for (not least at the hands of Muslims), can be swept aside in order to bow and scrape before the world of Islam.
Earlier this month, the Anglican Church mounted its own double-barreled offensive to outdo the PCUSA. The first occurred during a worship service at St. Mary’s Cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway for the Scottish Episcopal Church.
On Jan. 6, the Feast of Epiphany, the church held a worship service in celebration of that holy day. “Epiphany” comes from a Greek word meaning “manifestation,” and its aim is to celebrate the manifestation of “…the majesty and divinity of the newborn Savior,” Jesus Christ. So it would make perfect sense, wouldn’t it, in the midst of Christian worship celebrating the majesty and divinity of the newborn Savior of the world, that the Cathedral officials would invite a Muslim to chant a passage from the Qur’an which intentionally denies this conviction?
The text in question is from Sura Mariam (19), verses 16-36, the majority of which presents a fanciful narrative (inspired in large measure by the apocryphal Syriac Infancy Gospel dated to the 5th-6th C. AD) of the young virgin Mary’s experience from annunciation to the birth of Jesus and his infant proclamation to the crowd that he indeed is the servant of Allah and a true prophet, thereby exonerating his mother of even the hint of sin. However, it is the punchline of this text that flies in the face of the core Christian teaching that Jesus is the divine Son of God. Here is the English translation of Sura 19:35-36 (Hilali-Khan trans., parenthetical comments are those of the translators):
It befits not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son [this refers to the slander of Christians against Allah, by saying that ‘Iesa (Jesus) is the son of Allah]. Glorified (and Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him). When He decrees a thing, He only says to it, “Be!” and it is. [‘Iesa (Jesus) said]: “And verily Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him (Alone). That is the Straight Path. (Allah’s Religion of Islamic Monotheism which He did ordain for all of His Prophets).”
The Cathedral provided an English translation of the Qur’anic recitation up through verse 33, either unwittingly or intentionally omitting these offensive teachings from view for all except those who know Arabic. Nonetheless, they were proclaimed in a cathedral in the midst of worship directed ostensibly to the Triune God. The message they enshrine is that Jesus is not the Son of God, that he is not divine (only Allah is worthy of majesty), and that Jesus himself claimed he was on the same level as all other human beings when it came to relationship with God. This is the “straight path,” according to the Qur’an. Obviously, that means the gospel is a crooked path, and will lead one to hell.