Can you be both Muslim and Christian?

Rev. Ann Holmes Redding believes you can and is spreading her version of the good news to the masses in Seattle. The Seattle Times did a story a couple of weeks ago about her and her newly adopted faith in Allah. The story attempts to address the some of the contradictory issues surrounding her dual religion.

“I am both Muslim and Christian”

Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill. On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest

Friends generally say they support her, while religious scholars are mixed: Some say that, depending on how one interprets the tenets of the two faiths, it is, indeed, possible to be both. Others consider the two faiths mutually exclusive.

Fundamental to Christianity is the belief that Christ is God. 100% God. 100% human. Not just a great teacher or prophet as Islam and other religions claim, but God. No if and or buts. So as a Christian I wonder how I could believe Christ is God and at the same time be Islamic and believe he is not. I don’t think it is possible and I was glad that the article touched on this.

“There are tenets of the faiths that are very, very different,” said Kurt Fredrickson, director of the doctor of ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. “The most basic would be: What do you do with Jesus?”

“I don’t think it’s possible” to be both, Fredrickson said, just like “you can’t be a Republican and a Democrat.”

Being both Muslim and Christian — “I don’t know how that works,” said Hisham Farajallah, president of the Islamic Center of Washington.

I’m a bit relieved that at least a couple of people beyond myself, especially learned people, don’t think it is possible to be both Muslim and Christian. But how does a woman of the book and a reverend no less reconcile the theological differences?

Redding doesn’t feel she has to resolve all the contradictions. People within one religion can’t even agree on all the details, she said. “So why would I spend time to try to reconcile all of Christian belief with all of Islam?

I guess her answer is that she doesn’t reconcile the theological differences. I do think she has a point about people agreeing on the details of their religion, but there is a bit more to religion than doctrinal details. Religions, especially Christianity, are about faith and choice. Do you believe in Christ’s teachings or don’t you? Christ believed himself to be God, do you believe Christ is God or don’t you?

I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
(John 10:30-33)

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
(John 20:27-29)

I’m in the Christian camp. I believe what Christ said, I believe He is God. Christianity is a religion of choice and Christian doctrine doesn’t say that there aren’t other spiritual beliefs. We have a few ale carte churches in this area who claim to be homes for spiritual people regardless of whether they are pagan, Christian, Islamic, Jewish, or even atheist. I can’t buy into mixing Christianity with any other religion. Christianity is a religion of choice and the rewards of the right choice are immense.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(John 3:14-16)

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
(John 8:12)

So I come back to her statement “I am both Muslim and Christian” and ask the question of whether or not she has chosen Christianity.

As much as she loves her church, she has always challenged it. She calls Christianity the “world religion of privilege.” She has never believed in original sin. And for years she struggled with the nature of Jesus’ divinity.

Pretty tough to call yourself a Christian let alone a reverend while you still struggle with your religions core tenets. So we don’t really have an answer to whether or not you can be both Christian and Muslim because, although I am not the Judge, I don’t think she qualifies as a Christian.

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22 Comments.

  1. Excellent post, Wally. Too many people fail to see the fallacies of trying to harmonize Christianity with another faith. Ultimately, it will fail.

    • i think it is very possible to be both muslim and christian, i have grown up in a christian church my grand father as the pastor, jesus says treat others as you want to be treated, no one fully understands the will of the almighty but i think there are several paths to our lord

      • Seth,

        Growing up in a Christian environment you must understand that Christ’s position as God is at the center of the Christian faith. Given that, how is it that you reconile that with Islam’s insistance that He was a prophet of God and not God Himself?

        I found your comment on treating “others as you want to be treated” and your statement about “several paths to our lord” quite puzzling. In Matthew 7, Christ tasks us with the Golden Rule as you paraphrased and He also warns us that only one path leads to Him and the wide path leads to distruction. Quite opposite of your claim.

        “Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets. “Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.
        (Matthew 7:12-14)

        My observation on understanding God’s will seems partially inline with your comment. We humans are not capable of fully understanding His will, but we can believe his words and as Christians we should strive to follow them.

        • But the old testiment laws are put away and a new commandment was given to Christians, that you love. Bottom line. If God is the all powerful, dont you think he would be able to figure out if your heart was in the right place? Faith is not by works. You say follow the words… I see that just about every Christian group cherry picks what they want to hear from the Bible. God gave us the Holy Spirit and I believe that even if we didnt have the Bible to teach us we would still be children of God if our heart longed for truth and peace and goodness.

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  3. well i see it possible to be both because i am muslim(ishmaelism),christian(church of england)and hindu(hare krishna).

  4. I see it possible. No one can determine or predict how God works or his methods to accomplish his will. Not all things can be or are meant to be explained. God is in control and that is all we need to know. Put full trust and faith in him always. All glory and praise be to God, forever and ever. Amen

    • It is indeed comforting to believe that all roads lead to salvation, whether it be Islam, Christianity, etc, etc, or just plain human spirituality. I once believed this myself.  Churches and whole denominations have risen that encompass all manner of spirituality as equal. In those churches and among those who shy away from church, there are throngs of genuinely wonderful people, some calling themselves Christian, and some making no claims of faith at all, who do not understand that Christ describes himself as the only way to salvation.

      For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

      For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

      He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

      (John 3:16-18)

      So no matter how comforting it is to believe that all good people of any, all or no faith are following the path to salvation, according to Christ, it simply is not so.

      Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12) 

      As I said earlier, I once believed that all roads led to salvation, but a further deeper study of those religions helped me to find my way.  Belief in all faiths may bring comfort in this life; belief in Christ alone is the way to bring comfort in the next. 

  5. If Christianity believes there is only one God – their God – then how can you reconcile that Allah is not that God? So one who puts her faith in God, and calls Him God one day, and Christ one day, and Allah one day — in her mind, is she not simply worshipping God? Albeit in different ways?

    I simply ask because, as a non-Christian who’s often denounced for being unAmerican or non-Conservative because I don’t rally ’round Christian causes, I’m trying to open my mind more and understand people of all faiths.

    • You’ve pegged it; Christians, Jews and Muslims, as well as other religions all believe there is only one God. But what people most readily fail to understand is that what we believe does not change who God is. Nor does our belief in a certain “god” magically will that “god” into existence. I was once introduced to a guy who worshiped a rock, granted, a very nice looking rock, but still a rock and I would venture that no matter how strongly he believed in his rock, it would always be just a rock.

      So you’re right calling God, Christ or Allah does not change who God is, but what Christians believe regarding Christ’s directives and values versus what Muslims believe regarding Allah’s directives and values does present a problem for us in this world.

      Islam demands that all must submit to Islam while Christianity asks that we make a choice. Christian going out into the world asking others to choose Christ is a lot different than Muslims going around the world demanding that others submit to the authority of Islam.

      I am both strongly Christian and strongly American, yet I don’t know anyone who believes that someone has to be a Christian to be an American. I do however believe the freedom of religion that we enjoy in our nation founded on predominantly Christian values would not be duplicated in a predominantly Muslim nation; try being a Christian in Iran or Saudi Arabia.

      By all means, keep an open mind to all faiths, but please keep in mind also to keep an open mind to Christianity.

  6. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all share the same origins.

    Judaism arrived first, then Christianity split off from Judaism, then Islam also split off from Judaism. The three religion believe in the same God, the same theology, the same everything (apart from a few key differences) – Christians and Muslims could find out more about their own religions by reading from the Judain scriptures.

    The key difference between Judaism and Christianity is that Christianity teaches that Jesus was God and the son of God, whereas Judaism teaches that he was merely a prophet.

    The key difference between Judaism and Islam is that Islam teaches that Muhammad was a prophet, whereas Judaism teaches that he was not.

    Surely we could have people who are both Christian and Muslim by having them simply believe that Jesus was the Christ AND that muhammad was a prophet, could we not?

    • Muslims believe Christ is not God. Fundamental to Christianity, is the belief that Christ is God. Is it possible to believe something you don’t believe?

  7. I am part Christian and part muslim. Since I was about 13 I was very interested in different cultures. When I was fourteen I became a Christian. Within the last year I have started wearing the hijab on occassions and I am studyng the Quran. I get a lot of grief from people over this, but I look at it as my personal jihad; my spiritual struggle that I have to go through to reach a better place in my relationship with God.
    It is not about religion, but rather faith. Its all about your relationship with God. No one in one religion can agree on everything. I believe in the Trinity, whereas Muslims dont. I believe in one God, but I think of the Trinity as three personalities. God is one. And will always be. It is up to each of us within our own spirits to search out the Truth. For me, the truth happens to be in both christiaity and islam.

    • I’m always glad to hear of another who has thoughtfully become a Christian. I believe that those who constantly examine their faith have the potential to become the strongest followers of Christ.

      It’s easy to mingle Christianity, Judaism and Islam as we all share a certain ancestral kinship of sorts. We certainly all have historical skeletons in our closets. But even so, there is much to learn and respect from each religion. I think the faith of Messianic Jews is fascinating and I’ve got to really stand up and take notice of the complete trust in Christ that a person must have to convert from Islam to Christianity, double so when this step is taken in an Islamic nation.

      I do pray for the Holy Spirits guidance, as I hope you do, when exploring others faiths. Without God’s help we mere humans can be so easily swayed.

  8. Courtney Singleton

    @ one of Wally’s previous posts:
    Only extremists demand you convert to islam. However the Qur’an gives you a choice. According to the Qur’an, true believers will enter into paradise while non-believers will be eternally doomed. Notice I said believers and non-believers instead of muslims and non-muslims. The Qur’an does not go against Jews and Christians. we are considered believers and I think the term is “People of the Book”. Alongside the Bible… believers will go to heaven and non believers will go to hell.
    I have many pen pals all over the world who accept me as a christian. Iran, saudi arabia, etc. is a poor use of trying to make your point. Entire muslim countries dont hate christians. Only conservative/fanatical/radical/extremists (some-not all) muslims hate christians. They turn the words of the Qur’an into their own interpretations just like some christians do with the Bible. Everything is just a terrible misunderstanding.
    As to your latest post… yes, definitely keep an open mind to christianity. I still believe that belief in Jesus and the cross are the only way to heaven…

  9. Can a person be both Christian and Muslim?
    Sure,
    Christian is what you believe and Muslim is the way you act.
    Jesus never gave a free pass to any man for their beliefs but rather insisted that no man comes to God except through the emulation of Christ’s life.
    The justification for remaining ‘of the world’ is a disease Christians use to make their lives comfortable – culturally – and certainly not Christlike.
    It is Typical of very weak men to dilute the message of god-ness actions in life to allow for the wafting cloud of nebulousness called ‘beliefs’.
    Beliefs anyone,
    at any time,
    can profess deeply without any responsibility for their action.

    • the fact that you said,
      “Christian is what you believe and Muslim is the way you act.”
      has steered my decision in a totally different direction, but what you dou call your self when people ask ?

  10. i honestly do think you can be both a Christian and a muslim. WHO SAYS YOU CANT?? i believe in christ; he died on the cross for our sins and to have eternal life we must believe in him. you can believe in christ and still pray 5x times a day like a muslim, wear a hijaab (women) etc…no one can tell you what to believe in…i personally was struggling with this too, i believed in christ and wanted to be muslim. i personally dont see it has a bad thing. now i dont really consider myself as religious. i belive in christ and respect fellow muslims, christians, hindus..etc..you believe in christ in your heart and live like a muslim. *****jihad= personal struggle between oneself and God***
    ups to “citizen”!

  11. so influenced by what some people have posted, you can believe what christ tells you to and live the way islam tells you to ?
    And this wont change that there is one god ?

  12. I have read the Koran and the Bible.In the Koran. We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers (Jews and Christians). They serve other Gods for whom no sanction has been revealed. Hell shall be their home; dismal indeed is the dwelling place of the evil-doers. (Koran 3:149. Remember 9-11.In the Bible.John 10:1…0 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. KJV

    • You should read again People of The Book chapter in the Holly Coran. Don’t you see how great it would be if all Christians believed in Islam like Muslims believe in Jesus? If Christianity relies on Jesus’s resurrection, did He ever teach this? If you’re an American you at least understands why you could be a Christian Muslim (the reverse being impossible). Be blessed.

  13. As a christian, i have never believed Jesus was 100% God. Now that i have embraced Islam, i truly believe i was right. Jesus himself didn’t say he replaced God The Father! So why would I be confused and continue racking my brain with the issue? I think the Reverend will continue to read and get to understand Islam more and more. And if she continues attending Sunday Services, i really don’t mind. So long as she’s still convinced God is One and Issa/ Jesus and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them) are both God Messengers.

    May God bless you all

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