Giles Goddard

Shock horror, Muslims were allowed to say prayers in a Church of England church.

The church was St John’s Waterloo. The Daily Telegraph reported that ‘evangelical clerics were angered’. A flurry of activity followed, with official statements from the Diocese here and here, and the Vicar, Giles Goddard.

Surely the Telegraph must have been exaggerating? No: it’s all there in the comments under Ian Paul’s blog. If you read it, follow it up with Kelvin Holdsworth’s much saner response to regain your faith in humanity.

I read the comments under Ian Paul’s with growing astonishment. At a time of suicide bombers, the USA dropping what are understood as Christian bombs on Islamic communities, and the UK being a source of Muslim ‘radicalisation’, I can see why Giles’ offer of hospitality makes a lot of sense. Here are my questions about the issues.

1) The Vicar broke the Church of England’s rules by allowing Muslim prayers in his church. Clergy break all sorts of rules these days, especially in the words they use in services. Is it only the ones that gain the attention of the Daily Telegraph, or all of them, that should get a stern rebuke from the bishop?

2) Opponents object that Christian worship is Trinitarian. However Christians can, and often do, offer prayers and have services that don’t specifically remind God that God is a trinity. Will God reject our worship for that reason? Will God pass the phone to Allah and say ‘It’s for you’?

3) Muslims don’t believe in the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity was from the start based on the fact that we can’t understand God but can use different ways to think of God. I’ve often worshipped together with people who don’t believe in the Trinity, or aren’t sure of it, or can’t understand what it means. Should I have refused to? Or to put it the other way round: since I find the Trinity a mystery, should I worship together with Christians who don’t find it a mystery?

4) The Telegraph says the complaints are coming from Evangelicals, and my impression is that this is true.

How do you think the average British internet reader would feel about Christianity after reading about this spat?