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Atlanta Episcopal Bishop Invited Muslim Guest Preacher at Holy Week Renewal of Vows

Atlanta Episcopal Bishop Invited Muslim Guest Preacher at Holy Week Renewal of Vows
The Bishop in part dedicated the Eucharist to Mohammed

David W. Virtue, DD
April 13, 2017

The Bishop of Atlanta, Robert C. Wright invited Soumaya Khalifa, the founder and executive director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, to preach at the Holy Week service at St David’s Episcopal Church, Roswell, this week.

The Atlanta Daily World reports that Bishop Wright said he chose Khalifa because of her ongoing efforts to bridge the gaps between religions.

“Soumaya provides a wonderful example for how to share the love of God; the same God worshiped by all the world’s Christians, Jews and Muslims,” Wright said. “It is an example that has never been more needed.”

A source who was present for the occasion told VOL that the Muslim woman gave the "sermon" from the pulpit, and in part quoted from the Bible. A reading from the Qur'an was used for the first lesson. Also, she was invited to the altar during the eucharist liturgy and consecration of the elements. The Bishop in part dedicated the Eucharist to Mohammed. Finally, the bishop wanted the Muslim call to prayer used but this did not happen.

A number of priests boycotted the "service".

This is not the first time this Episcopal service has featured a preacher from another religion. In 2015, Wright arranged to have the renewal service held at The Temple, a Reform synagogue on Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta. The preacher for that service was The Temple’s senior Rabbi, Peter S. Berg.

The event announcement on the diocesan website said that Soumaya Khalifa is an American of Egyptian origin. She launched the Islamic Speakers Bureau (ISB) of Atlanta in August 2001. The ISB strives to become the Islamic source for faith and civic collaboration promoting understanding and inclusion. They teach and collaborate in an open way to build a better tomorrow. The ISB has been active in the metro Atlanta area, and its volunteers have presented to thousands in metro Atlanta and surrounding areas about Islam and Muslims.

“Soumaya provides a wonderful example for how to share the love of God; the same God worshiped by all the world’s Christians, Jews and Muslims,” Wright said. “It is an example that has never been more needed.”

However, Wright is wrong about Jews, Christians and Muslims worshipping the same God. That is a complete fallacy.

The God of Christianity and the God of Islam are not the same. First off, the God of Christianity is a Trinity, where the God of Islam is not. The Trinity is the monotheistic teaching that God exists eternally as three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Islam, this is blatantly denied.

"And behold! Allah will say: "O 'Isa Ibn Maryam! Did you say to men, "Worship me and my mother as gods besides Allah?" He will say: "Glory to you! Never could I say what I had no right to say. Had I said such a thing, you would indeed have known it. You know what is in my heart, though I know not what is in yours. For you know in full all that is hidden," (Quran 5:116).
"O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him.”

So, believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, "Three"; desist - it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs," (Quran 4:171).

Furthermore, in Christianity the doctrine of the Trinity allows for the Incarnation of the Word. John 1:1, 14 which says that the Word was God and became flesh and dwelt among us and was crucified, dead and buried, and on the third day rose from the dead. (Matt. 26:2; 27:38). This is denied in Islam, which says that Jesus is only a prophet and was not crucified.

Jesus said, "Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet," (Quran 19:30).

"And [for] their saying, "Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah ." And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain," (Quran 4:157).

The God of Islam and the God of Christianity, therefore, are not the same.

Bishop Wright’s poor theological understanding of the nature of the Godhead and the Trinity, indicates further, the degeneration of the faith by Episcopal bishops as they attempt to push a false ecumenism in the name of diversity and inclusion. This kind of act will only add to the confusion for Episcopalians, who are slowly being led away from biblical faith and morals by unbelieving bishops.

The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta is the eighth largest of 109 dioceses in the Episcopal Church. Bishop Wright is the 10th bishop of the 110-year-old diocese with 114 parishes in middle and north Georgia.

The diocese has seen losses over the last 9 years. In 2005, the diocese had 52,318 baptized persons. By 2015 it had dropped 4.8% to nearly 50,000. Not as bad as some TEC dioceses.

Average Sunday Attendance in 2005 was 17,612. By 2015 it had plunged 17.3% to below 14,900.

The average age of its 147 priests is 55, below the national average.


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