BY PNW STAFF JANUARY 31, 2017
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The Christmas service in Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church in Glasgow, Scotland was the cause of no small of controversy when it included a reading of Quranic verses that deny the deity of Christ.
Lest you think that these were read by the Very Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth for their historical or comparative value, video of the service shows the verses being recited in Arabic by a Muslim woman as if she were leading a worship service of Allah in a Mosque (a privilege denied to Muslim women, ironically).
Conducting theological discussions on points of comparative religion can improve understanding of other religions, but that is not what happened here.
Interfaith dialog can be quite positive and lead to better community relations and greater respect, while acknowledging sincere differences of belief.
But that was also not what took place this Christmas in the Cathedral of Glasgow.
In this case, an explicitly anti-Christian message was incorporated into one of the most important celebrations of the year, and Jesus was denied from the pulpit as the congregation sat and looked on.
The church was bombarded with more than 10,000 emails and social media posts condemning the inclusion of Islamic verses within the service.
The verses were used as if they were part of or compatible with the Church’s message rather than in direct contradiction to it. The messages expressed outrage but also threatened violence against the Very Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth to the extent that he feared for his safety enough to contact the police.
The controversy did not end with the public outcry against the Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth, however.
The Rev. Canon Gavin Ashenden, one of the Queens official 33 chaplains, expressed publicly his disapproval with the Quranic reading and, as a result, found himself on the receiving end of a royal reprimand.
Reverend Canon Gavin Ashenden resigned his position as one of the crown’s 33 chaplains so that he may be at liberty to “speak out on behalf of the faith”, after receiving his reprimand from Buckingham Palace.
In defending the faith, as he saw his actions, he was viewed as involving the Queen. Tradition dictates that the Queen must remain above politics and controversy.
After he found himself unable to voice his protest of Quranic verses that tell the stories of Jesus’s birth while claiming that Jesus should not be worshipped as the Son of God, Rev. Ashenden decided that he would be unable to continue to defend the Church in his position and resigned his post with the statement,
“Because I think it a higher and more compelling duty to speak out on behalf of the faith, than to retain a public honour which precludes me doing so at this time, I resigned my post.”
This was not the first time he had spoken out against the Quran as he had pointed out in a 2015 radio show that the Quran contains more than 100 verses urging Muslims to violence.
The Church is in a sorry state indeed when the deity of Christ can be denied and the beliefs of another faith espoused from the pulpit of a Christian church.
The Queen, as the realm’s defender of the faith, recuses herself from any hint of controversy and the chaplain who stands up for Jesus finds himself forced to resign!
Is there no one left with the courage to stand up for Christ in the face of Islam’s advance?