In accordance with Scripture and our Reformed faith we base this upon the following:
We believe that it is not possible to “…celebrate religious holidays together…” or set aside “days of worship…”. Common worship among these faiths is not compatible, nor do common aims exist to undertake this endeavor since the one triune God, revealed through Jesus Christ is the only true object of Christian worship (Minutes, 2008, Part I, p. 507).
We further affirm the uniqueness of Christian worship which is centered in Jesus Christ alone as affirmed by the revelation of God in Holy Scripture and attested to in our Book of Order and The Book of Confessions, that:
Jesus said, “‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (Jn. 14:6). See also the following passages of Scripture: Jn. 4:23, Rom. 10:14, Acts 4:12, Jn. 10:1–9, 1Tim. 2:5.
“c. Jesus Christ is the living God present in common life. The One who is proclaimed in the witness of faith is:
“(1) the Word of God spoken at creation,
“(2) the Word of God promising and commanding throughout covenant history,
“(3) the Word of God
“(a) who became flesh and dwelt among us,
“(b) who was crucified and raised in power,
“(c) who shall return in triumph to judge and reign” (Book of Order, W-1.1003c).
“… In Christian worship the people of God
“(1) hear the Word [Jesus] proclaimed,
“(2) receive the Word [Jesus] enacted in Sacrament,
“(3) discover the Word [Jesus] in the world, and
“(4) are sent to follow the Word [Jesus] into the world” (Book of Order, W-1.1004).
“… In the name of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Christian community worships and serves God”(Book of Order, W-1.1005b).
“And those who are such in the Church have one faith and one spirit; and therefore they worship but one God, and him alone they worship in spirit and in truth, loving him alone with all their hearts and with all their strength, praying unto him alone through Jesus Christ, the only Mediator and Intercessor; and they do not seek righteousness and life outside Christ and faith in him. Because they acknowledge Christ the only head and foundation of the Church, and, resting on him, daily renew themselves by repentance, and patiently bear the cross laid upon them …” (The Book of Confessions, Second Helvetic Confession, 5.135).
See also The Book of Confessions: 3.16, 5.023–.025, and 5.134.
We believe that Jesus is not merely one of several viable understandings of how God has been revealed and how humankind can approach God in worship. As the Theological Declaration of Barmen states: “Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death” (The Book of Confessions, The Theological Declaration of Barmen, 8.11).
“He is the image of the invisible God … For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:15a, 19–20).
“He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being …” (Heb.1:3).
Worship is a central expression of faith and shapes the identity of each religious community. The mode and meaning of worship for each faith, respectively, are determined by each faith’s foundational beliefs, which are not consistent among Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
As Christians we believe:
• that true worship of God is worship in and through Jesus Christ alone (Jn. 14:6);
• the everyday practice of praying “in the name of Jesus” is the foundation of Christian worship;
• it is the exaltation of Jesus Christ as Lord of all and the One through whom we have access to God the Father that launched the early church into the discussions that grew into the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds, the standard-bearers for Christian belief;
• that the identity and centrality of Jesus Christ as God incarnate and the only Savior in worship are core beliefs, and these beliefs have distinguished Christianity from both Judaism and Islam.
The encouragement for Christians to worship together with Muslims is particularly troubling because, as a faith tradition, Islam:
• is very self-conscious regarding its beliefs about the person of Jesus;
• through the Qur’an, makes it clear that Jesus, while a prophet, is not and could not have been the eternal Son of God (Allah);
• through the Qur’an, clearly rejects Christian worship (through Jesus) as dishonoring to God (Allah), and is even a form of unbelief.;
Given these foundational differences in our faiths, over the last fourteen centuries, since the emergence of Islam, Christianity and Islam have not been able to affirm common worship, because we hold very different beliefs about the nature and identity of God, the means of salvation, and what kind of worship honors God.
Nevertheless, in this action, the General Assembly has encouraged Presbyterians and Muslims to worship together. Such worship could only be accomplished by seriously compromising the Essential Tenets of Reformed Faith. It would require removing the centrality of our affirmation of the triune nature of God and the uniqueness and centrality of Jesus Christ as the only true Lord and Savior of humankind. Such worship would be contrary to our faith.
While we affirm the value of seeking “… new opportunities for conversation and understanding with non-Christian religious bodies in order that interests and concerns may be shared and common action undertaken where compatible means and aims exist” (Book of Order, G-15.0104, emphasis added).