“Here is the church, here is the steeple. Open up the door and here’s all the people.” That childhood rhyme, illustrated with both hands, clearly encapsulates the Biblical principle that the church, at its heart, is about the people. One might have a spectacular building, but without the people of God worshiping in that place, there simply is no church.
So, it is a sad day indeed that The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington — more familiarly known as The Washington National Cathedral — cannot be, at least in the way that Saint Peter and Saint Paul would recognize — a Christian Church.
Any place can call themselves a “church,” but unless that place is populated with people whose foundation is faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone, then they cannot, at least according to Jesus’ own words in Scripture, be considered one of His churches:
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:13-18)
The Church is built on Peter’s confession of faith (not Peter, himself) that Jesus IS the Christ — the Messiah — the Son of the Living God. Any church, whether in the First Century or the 21st Century, must, of necessity, be built upon this same foundation of faith. That The Washington National Cathedral (an Episcopal Church) would reject this foundation by their words and actions raises the question of whether or not they can be considered a true church.
While interfaith services (i.e., praying and worshiping other gods alongside the One, True God) have already been held in The Washington National Cathedral, the use of this building for an exclusively Muslim Prayer Service indicates that this historic “church” has abandoned any pretense of being a Biblical, Christian church:
“The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the cathedral, spoke of Saint Benedict, who he said believed equally in the importance of prayer and hospitality. Marveling at the sounds of Arabic prayers, which he called “a beautiful sacred language in a beautiful sacred space,” Hall said he hoped the service would serve as the start of more efforts to work together for good.” (“Washington Cathedral’s first Muslim prayer service interrupted by heckler”)
With all due respect to the Very Rev. Gary Hall, the Dean of the Cathedral, allowing non-Christians to use the Cathedral to offer prayers to a false god is not sacred. It is sacrilegious! I’m quite sure that the Old Testament prophet Elijah would not have felt the same way about the prophets of Baal offering prayers in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Of course, we have entered a day when many parts of Christendom have abandoned historic Biblical principles and replaced them with ecumenical “feel-goodism.” This Muslim prayer service inside what used to be a Christian church cannot be the “start of more efforts to work together for good.” Why? Because only God is good and His standards of good and evil, right and wrong have not changed.
More change — most of it not good — is coming to the “church” in America. Somehow I think that God might be heckling those who turn aside from the truth to lies. For those, like The Washington National Cathedral, heckling might be the least of their problems. God will not be mocked!