It’s fair to say that up until now the main voices speaking up in Southwark about the Muslim Prayer Service held at St John’s Waterloo under the invitation of Canon Giles Goddard have been evangelicals of various flavours.

Today two prominent Anglo-Catholics, one of whom is a fellow honorary canon of the Cathedral alongside Goddard, have spoken out clearly and boldly,

As Catholic Christians in the Church of England we understand and know
Jesus Christ to be the unique and final revelation of God. Covering the
symbols of our salvation, in order not to offend or to allow others to
worship, is an act of sacrilege; that this should be done by a Priest
ordained in the Church of God and exercising ministry within the Church of
England is an affront and an act of reparation should now take place.

Rev Canon Andrew Stevens, St Nicholas, Plumstead

At a time when Christian men, women and children are being slaughtered in
Iraq, Syria, Libya, Nigeria and elsewhere for their belief in the unique
salvation delivered by Christ Crucified it is a scandal and an offence
that a clergyman of the Church of England should embrace an act of islamic
worship in a consecrated building dedicated to the glory of God, Father,
Son and Holy Spirit.

Fr Martin Hislop, St Luke’s, Kingston upon Thames

It’s now one week since Bishop Christopher Chessun met with Canon Giles Goddard to discuss these events. Apart from one brief statement the diocese has been silent. The growing voices speaking out may soon be wondering why the bishop has not got more to say.

Other figures in the diocese have observed to me that Goddard is an honourary canon of the Cathedral; an appointment that is the bishop’s gift. Goddard’s parish also has interesting patrons of the living; the Archbishop of Canterbury and the  evangelical Church Pastoral Aid Society. I wonder how long they are happy for this mess to carry on without being properly dealt with. As the clock ticks on, attention turns increasingly from the actions of Goddard to the inactivity of his bishop, Chessun.

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32 comments on “The Southwark Crisis Deepens

  1. And l have to say l agree with Andrew and Martin.

    As l understand it the fuss is to do with a combined Muslim/Christian service.

    If this is the right thing to do, should we also have combined Christian services with religions of other gods.

    I do believe reading that God is the Lord of lords (God of other gods) and also a jealous God.

    I do fear that we are being “sucked in” and have some suspicion that this combined service is a good piece of propoganda for those promoting radical Islam too.

    But, l ask, why “the Muslims” all the time??? It seems to me to be “muslim, muslim, muslim” all the time these days.

    Why havent the same services been conducted for Budhists or Hindus l ask.

    Can anyone answer that?

    And re the suggestion Jesus is Evangelical camps …….l don’t see the division.

    Am perplexed.

    • It wasn’t a “joint” service or an inter-faith event. It was a Muslim Jummah, an anti-Christian worship service.

      • Hi Peter
        How was it “an anti-Christian worship service”? I never got that impression from what David wrote or from the viseo. Also, there was a Psalm read from the OT scriptures by the in resident Christian priest. Doesn’t that make it a “joint” event?

        • Ralph,

          If I were to set up a Baal in your church, a whole bunch of people came and worshipped it and then right at the end I read from Psalm 139, would that make it Christian?

          David lays out very clearly the reason why this is “anti-Christian”. Key parts of the Jumauh liturgy are explicit denials of basic Christian theology and christology.

          • Peter,
            Baal is shown in the OT (1 Kings 18:18-40) to be a false god/concept of God. But Allah is not Baal. He is described in Surrah 112 (quoted by David) as “the One and Only! Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him.”

            Isaiah 45 makes it quite clear that Jehovah (the LORD) is the one God “and there is no other”. This can be seen as counter claims or that the one being (God/the divine) is being spoken of in both cases but with different names because seen slightly differently. (The Indian story of the blind men and the elephant demonstrate how there can be different views of the one reality). I don’t believe that Islam is a false religion because it accepts Jesus as a great prophet and much of it is sourced from the Jewish tradition (as is Christianity).

            I think a good question to ask would be, “How would Jesus view this supposed infraction by Canon Goddard?” An appeal to ‘canon law’ doesn’t cut it with me. Canon law is man-made law by church fathers of particular church organisations. It is not infallible or eternal.

            John 3:16-17 shows that God’s purpose is to save the whole world, not just one specific group of people. Much is made of the statement that those who do not believe in Jesus are condemned but belief in Jesus involves much more that an intellectual and verbal acknowledgement of the name.

            IMO, anyone who believes in the life principles that Jesus taught (even though they may have attained them indirectly/from a different source) and is endeavouring to put them into practice is believing in Jesus even though they may not connect the name.

          • “I think a good question to ask would be, “How would Jesus view this supposed infraction by Canon Goddard?””

            Precisely. That is why we read the bible, the teachings of Jesus given through his prophets and apostles. Jesus said, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” When Canon Goddard holds a service where the symbols of Christ’s atoning sacrifice whereby he saved us (such as the cross) are covered up, in order not to offend Muslim sensibilities, then that is something that Christians cannot agree with.

            “An appeal to ‘canon law’ doesn’t cut it with me.”

            That is your affair. But for Christians it does make a difference. Even though canon law is man-made, we try to obey it where it does not conflict with Christ’s teaching, as we do with all man-made laws (Acts 23:5, Romans 13:4).

            “John 3:16-17 shows that God’s purpose is to save the whole world, not just one specific group of people.”

            Which is exactly what Christians believe. God’s purpose is to save all, but not all will be saved.

            “IMO, anyone who believes in the life principles that Jesus taught (even though they may have attained them indirectly/from a different source) and is endeavouring to put them into practice is believing in Jesus even though they may not connect the name.”

            What is the relevance of this? None of the people at the service were ignorant of Jesus’ teaching, nor can they rely on such ignorance as an excuse for unbelief.

          • Michael, you have failed to recognise that I am a Christian. I’m a Christian because I believe in the teachings of Christ not because I adhere to a “canon law”. Canon law is merely the guidelines of certain organisations. It is not cast in stone and is always open to amendment as the understanding of Christ’s principles progresses.

            That’s why I suggested returning to the primary source (the four gospels) where Christ is teaching directly without a limited human intelligence intervening. I’m certainly not ashamed of what Jesus teaches but there are things within ‘canon law’ that I am ashamed of even though those who wrote it may have been doing their best at the time.

            As to the covering of “symbols”, There is no holiness in the symbols themselves. They are merely a reminder of the inner qualities of the mind that we should be focusing on. I think Micah 6:6-8 and 1 Samuel 15:22 of the OT illustrates what is actually important. Jesus was not that impressed with the symbolism and traditions of the church of his day that were being used to mask the real objective of worship – the loving and serving of others.

            Although the cross has it’s place in the Christian story, some Christians choose to focus on the end product, the purpose behind the crucifixion – the resurrection – when Jesus was fully glorified and had assumed all/full authority over heaven and earth. (Matthew 28:18)

          • Hi Ralph, I haven’t expressed an opinion on whether or not you are a Christian – I have just made no assumption that you are because I haven’t been given reason for it. But my opinion on that score is hardly relevant anyway. As for definition of “Christian”, mine is one who has put their faith in Jesus Christ to save them from their sins. Nothing whatsoever to do with your idea of “canon law” or any other kind of law.

            “That’s why I suggested returning to the primary source (the four gospels) where Christ is teaching directly without a limited human intelligence intervening.”

            That is simply not correct – Jesus’ words in the gospels are reported by his disciples who were limited human beings. The gospels are not a tape recorder magically transported from the 1st century AD where we can press a button and hear Christ speaking. The four gospels are no more or less a primary source than any other book of the Bible.

            “There is no holiness in the symbols themselves….”

            And since nobody remotely suggested there is, this is irrelevant.

            ” Although the cross has it’s place in the Christian story, some Christians choose to focus on the end product, the purpose behind the crucifixion – the resurrection …”

            I am sure that some people who call themselves Christian do. However, its not a luxury that Jesus allows us (Matt 16:21).

  2. Simple question. Is the Son begotten of the Father? Yes or No?

    If yes, then Surah 112 clearly suggests Allah is NOT YHWH. If no, then you are a Unitarian.

    Which one is it?

    P.S. “anyone who believes in the life principles that Jesus taught (even though they may have attained them indirectly/from a different source) and is endeavouring to put them into practice” – salvation by works then is it? “Endeavouring”.

    • “Simple question. Is the Son begotten of the Father? Yes or No?”

      Not such a simple question Peter because one needs to understand what is meant by “begotten”. The Bible does not essentially speak ‘naturally’ but spiritually. It is not speaking of a physical begetting (as you and I were begotten by our fathers). “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). As such He is not a physical being/person who could/would beget another physical being/person. IMO, “begetting” is an analogy to demonstrate what is going on spiritually.

      As Christians we believe that God manifested Himself through the body/person of Jesus/(God incarnate or God with us). As Paul said of Christ (Colossians 2:9) “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” One way to understand this is to see the soul of Jesus as Jehovah of the OT. As Jesus said to Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father …” (John 14:9 – see also verses 10 &11).

      Another way of looking at it is to say that the soul of God is Love/Goodness which ‘begets’ Wisdom/Truth which is why Jesus was equated with the truth (John 14:6) and the Word of God (divine/absolute Truth) (John 1:14).

      The revelation to Mohamed was made some centuries after ‘Christianity’ had adopted the confusing concept of a tri-personal God. The statement of Allah ‘not begetting’ could have been made to try to ally that confusion. The people that Islam was aimed at were not spiritually ready to accept Jesus as God but at least the concept of ‘one God’ was made quite clear.

      Islam does not reject Jesus; it just does not fully realise his importance. I see no reason why we should not put aside minor, technical differences to befriend and interact with Muslims as Canon Goddard has done. Provided we are all looking towards the common good, it can only make for a better world.

      • The revelation to Mohamed was made some centuries after ‘Christianity’ had adopted the confusing concept of a tri-personal God.

        Well, I agree that Mohamed was confused about the doctrine of the Trinity. But the Church was not confused, hence the very clear statements in the Nicene Creed specifically on this issue, despite the gnostic stuff you’ve written above.

        The Church has always been clear, not confused – Jesus is begotten, not made. He is of one substance with the Father. He is true God from true God. If you remain confused (as you clearly are) it is because the clear teaching of the Scriptures, affirmed by the church, has once again run up against and contradicted the framework you keep insisting upon.

        The Bible is clear, the church is clear.

        And Islam explicitly denies what the Bible and the church are clear on.

        • David, you say, “But the Church was not confused (about the doctrine of the Trinity), hence the very clear statements in the Nicene Creed …”.

          I don’t find the statements on this topic “clear”. Michael Servetus didn’t. Muslim scholars certainly don’t. It basically says that there are three gods that we call one God. Not confusing? The traditional trinity doctrine is usually termed a paradox or a mystery. Occam (of razor fame) called it a contradiction.

          I think it’s quite clear from the Biblical narrative that there is a Divine Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit but there is nothing that ‘clearly states’ that there are three separate/distinct persons. Indeed the only time in the gospels when Father, Son and Spirit are spoken of as being present together (at the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist – Mark 1:9-11) there is only one person – Jesus – plus a voice – plus something descending like a dove. It’s merely an assumption that there are three persons.

          Most Christians grow up being taught a trinity of persons without realising that it is not Biblical but comes from a man-made Creed. It becomes an ‘article of faith’ which one is not supposed to question but, of course, some do.

          I find the idea seriously illogical and believe it can be a strong contributing factor (especially in those of a scientific bent) that leads to a rejection of religion/Christianity. Through the centuries it has been a source of friction between Christians and Muslims.

          As I said in my previous post, there is a much simpler explanation that gels with the idea that we are made in the image of God i.e. the trinity of soul, body and spirit/mind – that which goes forth from the interaction of soul and body. There is much Biblical evidence for this view, most specifically John 10:30 (“I and my Father are one.”) and John 14:10 where Jesus tells Phillip that the Father dwells within him.

          Looking to messianic prophecy Psalm 18 explains how ‘the LORD/Jehovah “… bowed the heavens and came down …”. The famous Isaiah 9:6 prophecy (used in Handel’s ‘Messiah’) says that the name of the child/son to be born was “…, Everlasting Father, …”

          I don’t expect you to agree with my ideas but it would be nice if you could acknowledge that I have valid reasons for believing as I do. I can’t imagine why you have called what I have written “gnostic stuff” – it has nothing in common with Gnosticism.

          • Well you may find it illogical, as Servetus did, but the history of the Church is that we have been perfectly able to understand and describe this key doctrine. That’s why Servetus was pronounced a heretic by both Rome and Geneva.

            It doesn’t “come from” a Creed, it’s described and defended in the Creed. It comes from the Scriptures and the Creed goes so far as to cite from those Scriptures in defence of it’s assertions.

            So you can have your “simpler explanation”. It’s an explanation that the entire church (West, Rome and East) has rejected and found lacking and not valid. By all means argue here that it’s your own personal belief. It’s just not Christianity, in fact it’s an open denial of it.

      • Hi Ralph,
        I might ask …..who revealed themselves to Mohammed?……it certainly wasn’t God.

        And in my delvings into Islam so far, all l see is a book called the Koran which, with the contradictions and confusion contained therein has no inspiration from God at all.

        And, when you bring this up to Islamic “scholars”, especially the hate bits, you are continually told “that it wasn’t meant in that context”. Well, as l see it, no-one has told or taught the Jihadists this.

        One of the most astounding beliefs muslims have is Mohammed flew to Jerusalem on a donkey (seems like a case of anything Jesus can do l can do better) and, would you believe it, the only witness was the donkey. Now contrast this with Jesus and the many witnesses !

        Conversely, our God is as clear as day is day in the Bible, and teaches “love your enemy” for a start.

        As l see it we have two directly opposing religions i.e. Islamic hate versus Christian love which cannot co-exist, let alone have a corporate get together in a Christian place of worship.

        This said though, yes, anyone of any spiritual persuasion and/or sexual orientation is always welcome in any Christian Church on a personal basis, but in my mind NEVER to preach their beliefs to the congregation.

        • Nigel, I think the story goes that it was the angel Gabriel (angels are messengers – in this case a messenger from God – as occurs many times in the Bible) who brought the revelation to Mohamed.

          If one attends only to the literal sense, there are also contradictions in the Bible. One could also see “hate bits” in the Bible (especially in the OT) if one does not realise that there is a spiritual message within the outward stories. There are people (like for example Fred Phelps) who believe that the Bible teaches hate.

          I hadn’t heard about the “flying donkey” but once again there would be an analogy involved – some sort of vision similar in nature to what occurred to John on the Isle of Patmos.

          According to this http://muslimdebate.org/theological-arguments/islam/69-samiz Muslims have an equivalent to ‘loving your enemy’.

          If Islam and Christianity were “directly oppos(ed) Islam would not accept Jesus as a great prophet.

          As I understand it the event was a ‘prayer meeting’ not a doctrinal discourse. I don’t think there was any hidden agenda to “preach … beliefs”. I didn’t get the impression that there was a Christian congregation present. I’m sure some curious ones were but the object was prayer to God. IMO, God is not tradition specific. There is no Christian god and Muslim god as such. They are different ways of seeing the one true God.

          What binds people together is not so much beliefs as loves. If a Muslims beliefs lead them to live a good life (worshipping God and loving and being of service to their fellow man) they have much in common with a Christian whose beliefs lead them to the same thing.

          • There is no Christian god and Muslim god as such. They are different ways of seeing the one true God.

            They are mutually exclusive ways of describing God.

            Same question for you Ralph, that you ignored last time.

            Is Jesus divine? Is He true God? Did He die on a cross?

          • Hi Ralph,
            Do I detect a hint that we can be right with God and be accepted into His family by any other means except through Jesus? In which case there are several questions to answer…….

            1. How does a muslim (or anyone else) get to heaven?
            2. Do you believe Jesus’ words “no one can get to the Father except through me”?
            3. Why is Jesus described as the lamb of God?
            4. What was the point of Jesus’ crucifixion and sacrifice on the cross?
            5. Do you believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus?
            6. Do you believe in the Gods requirement that we need to be born again i.e. Born again from Satans family into Gods family?
            7. Do you believe John 3v16?
            8. Jesus’ statements “if you have seen me you have seen the father” and “the father and l are one”

            Unless l have the wrong end of the stick or not understanding, I’m just sort of a bit scared that you might not agree with 2-8 and the deity of Jesus.

            Are you by chance also saying the Koran is holy and also inspired by God?

            If so, what is the point of the Bible? And if so where is the message of salvation in the Koran? And if so why have the muslims and jihadists got it so wrong in not being able to assimilate?

            Nope, not having a shot at you Ralph, am just trying to understand the angle you are coming from.

            I could be right off track, and if so, offer my apologies, but in the meantime, in simple terms and am just trying to understand.

          • And, Ralph, l am just wondering that if we can be saved from Gods wrath by any other means except Jesus’ atoning death on the cross……..
            1. Should we recall all our Christian overseas missionaries?
            2. Were our Christian forefathers wrong?

            Sorry for the additions but the wheels of my head are turning, ha!

          • No reply button David. I’m replying to your March 22, 2015 at 9:13 pm comment.

            “Is Jesus divine?”

            Yes. Jesus directly claimed to be God/divine when he said to the Jews, “…, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58) and also when he said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:33). He also claimed to be the ‘Son of God’ but ‘Son of God’ can be seen to be a name or title for a particular aspect of God rather than a separate being. Jesus actually means, ‘Jehovah/Yahweh is salvation’ so one could assume that he is Yahweh in the role of Saviour.

            “Is He true God?”

            Yes. The one true God – there can be only one true God. The attributes of God, (e.g. omnipotence and omnipresence) cannot be divided or they lose their meaning.

            “Did He die on a cross?”
            Yes. Certainly, as to the natural, physical body he did but, of course, he was subsequently resurrected.

            I’m not sure when I “ignored’ any of those questions.

    • “salvation by works then is it?”

      Not really. I believe salvation is brought about by a combination of faith and (good) works – works that are done from God where the inspiration, motivation and power to act is acknowledged to be from God and no merit is claimed for self. Faith is not real/genuine unless it is striving to and actually does go forth into act where the opportunity presents itself.

      Every act is a work – either a good work or a bad/evil work. Evil works are those where self and worldly prominence/satisfaction/fulfilment are the primary motivation. Good works are those where the primary motivation is serving God and our fellow man.

      I know some people say that they believe that faith alone saves but that idea becomes a real problem when people claim to have faith yet act in evil ways (for example pedophile priests who abuse children). Without repentance and amendment of life (made possible to all people by virtue of God’s gifts of rationality and free-will in spiritual things) there can be no salvation because faith is not being placed in God but in the delusive allurement of evil.

      • “I know some people say that they believe that faith alone saves but that idea becomes a real problem when people claim to have faith yet act in evil ways…”

        Why? Anyone can *claim* to have faith, whether or not they actually do. If David had said, “Claiming to have faith saves” then you might have a point, but he didn’t say anything like that.

  3. From what l can ascertain “Allah” as described in the Koran contracticts himself and confuses the reader. As well, Allah does not have a rock solid plan of redemption, and as well Allah promotes killing and says the direct opposite of our Christian God. Therefore, Allah and our Christian God are totally different and are not the same, so in my mind l think there needs to be more study in this area rather than say “Allah” and “Jehova God” are one and the same.

    I guess Baal, and the God of the Hindus and Buddhists would say the same thing too, along with Satan, but it doesn’t make it true.

    As well, what an offence to the one and only true God to say or suggest such.

  4. Hi Ralph,
    Just curious about this long heavy debate on the trinity.
    As a matter of fact it was only recently that I was giving the trinity a fair bit of thought even before David and yourself got into this debate.
    As l see it l just put it down to one of the mysteries of God that us three dimensional thought beings are not capable of fully understanding and that there is more to it than we see.
    So, l am curious on what it matters on how we comprehend the trinity.
    In my mind too, recently l have thought there is also a common link somewhere in “voice” and “saying” and ” hearing” trinity wise as these seem to me to be key words when God and Jesus are speaking, as well as from the beginning when the world was created.
    But, all in all l just put the trinity down to something that l believe in through scripture and faith.
    And, I wonder, who cares if Mohammed couldn’t grasp it. As christians l think none of us fully grasp it.
    Just my bottom ended Christian truck driver thoughts.

    • Nigel, it matters because the Incarnation is at stake. Either Jesus is, or He is not, the Son of God. If He is then He can perfectly reveal the Father and be our mediator. If He is not then He can neither reveal nor properly mediate (1Tim 2:4). So it’s absolutely crucial, every pun intended.

      • Ok, thanks David. I sort of understand. However, personally, l just “plain believe unquestionably” in the trinity, along with the fact that Jesus is the son of God…..just because the Bible says so, even though how we have the “three in one” is a bit of a comprehensible mystery.
        Always amazes me how we get into deep heavy argument on so many things that sometimes we should just plain simply accept, the same way we do as a newly saved Christian who has gone ahead accepting salvation through plain simple faith.

        I sometimes wonder the value of theological punch ups between saved people when the real job is to save the unsaved.

        Sometimes I think, as it says in scripture, we have to move on and allow people to think what they want to think, be it eating or not eating meat or whatever. The important thing being that those saved people who might be at odds on something don’t hinder each other in the work to save the unsaved.

        Anyway, just my thoughts from the heart and l don’t mean any offence and I always welcome correction if l am erring, and l do enjoy your blog, so be encouraged.

    • And……while l think about it (have just had a shower), I also think of the parallel of marraige being “you two are one”, another similar mystery. Re “voice” and “speaking” I think there is something spiritual in these actions, therefore l have also started thinking along these lines marraige wise, being when we are one, we are of one voice, even though we still have the pecking order in the relationship, as too in the God the Father, God the Son.

      • Hi Nigel,

        I think those are good parallels and I would add another:

        “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” [Gen 1:26-27]

        We see the three persons of the Godhead communing among themselves in relation to the creation of man in their own image, and then we see that they create man, who is one being; yet also two, male and female.

        • Hi Michael, yep, like it.

          And you would deduce then that you really are only “one” person if you are a cohesively married male/female couple.

          Another reason that male/male or female/female “marriages” ain’t gonna work …….they don’t have, and will never have Gods “you two are one” blessing/dimension.

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