Saturday, 4 April 2009

What's Going on Here Then?

Reader: A reading from the Quran

In the name of God most merciful most compassionate. Is he, then, who knows that what has been revealed to those from thy Lord is the truth, like one who is blind? But only those gifted with understanding will reflect. Those who fulfill God’s pact and break not the covenant. And those who join what God has commanded to be joined, and fear their Lord, and dread the evil reckoning. And those who persevere in seeking the favor of their Lord and observe prayer and spend out of that with which We have provided them secretly and openly, and repel evil with good. It is these who shall have the best reward of the final Abode. Amen

Reader: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Assembly: Thanks be to God.

The picture above shows Saint Augustine of Hippo challenging the Devil and thrusting him away, visually using the authority of scripture to do so. Good Episcopal behaviour, the likes of which AW is pleased to recommend to its mitred readership. The reading above is confusing, though, isn't it? A reading from the Koran, perfectly reasonable behaviour for Muslims, who will no doubt wish to hear their book read as we do the scriptures. But what is this at the end? 'Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church', odd, you may think, for Muslims are not generally given to referring to their faith as a 'Church', but have a more holistic approach to the integrity of faith in their lives and what is this 'Spirit', the Koran is held to be the work of the prophet Mohammad, not the Holy Spirit, obviously, these faiths, sharing an Abrahamic root, are radically different and I am no pluralist.

The sad truth of the matter is that this is part of a Sunday Eucharist at the Church of Bishop Elect Kevin Forrester's Church, from January this year. The New Testament reading was eschewed 'your words are a lamp to my feet' presumably being forgotten for this extract from the Koran. I am not decrying the search for God visible in the Islamic tradition, but I hold that we either believe in the primacy of scripture or we do not and if we do then we have a moral duty to read and expound upon it as though our lives depended on it, which they may well do. That a Bishop Elect of the Episcopal Church of the USA will decide not to have the revealed word of God read in his Church and replace it with a reading from another religious tradition is not only shameful, it is embarrassing to Christians and Muslims alike. Reading from the Koran in a Christian Eucharist and saying 'hear what the Spirit has to say to the Church' after the reading is not only damn lies, but it is insulting to those who hold the Koran as being the work of the prophet Mohammad, with whom we would live in peace.

I passed over Forresters decision to walk the Buddhist and Christian path because I felt he had an inadequate understanding of Buddhism to differentiate it from the hippy idealism of a million continually growing up teenagers on a gap year. That he has such a loose grasp of Islam is not surprising, but that his cherry picking approach to religious traditions can earn him election as a Bishop is - well for the first time I begin to understand the problems in ECUSA. 'God forgive him for he knows not what he does' is a fine prayer for most, but it is no excuse for a man who would be Bishop.