Monday, September 18, 2006

The Pope and Islam

The Pope recently delivered a speech which was principally about the relationship of faith and reason. It was a learned discourse on how Christians have appropriated (or renounced) Greek philosophy in their understanding of biblical revelation. The speech made fairly brief mention of a medieval treatise that compared a Christian view of these matters to the Muslim view. This text judged the Muslim view to unreasonable given their penchant for conversion through intimidation and not reason.

Because of this, Muslim are now engaging in violence against Catholics (including murder) and the Pope himself has apologized. This new round of Muslim violence and angry demands, in fact, proves the Pope's point--despite his apology. Islam typically brooks no criticism and appeals to force and threats more often than to argument to establish itself. For example, Oriana Fallaci's criticism of Islam in her last two books generated numerous death threats against her and a tract calling for her beheading. This attitude embedded deeply in the very structure of the religion.

Simply look at its history. A study of Islamic history by the Egyptian scholar Mark Gabriel is what led him out of Islam--even before he heard the gospel. He discovered this in his study as a professor of Islamic history at the most prestigious Islamic university on the planet. When he announced his conversion to Christ to his own father, the man produced a gun and started shooting. By God's grace, Gabriel (who has changed his name to protect his Muslim family in Egypt) escaped and is now an eloquent writer on Islam and Christianity. See his books, Jesus and Mohammad, and Islam and Terrorism.

Perhaps the Pope should read--and heed--these books. You should.


Dan said...

Here's my satirical take on the whole issue: Buddhist Violence Continues For Fourth Straight Day.

:mic said...

Thank you for saying it!

Our culture's entire notion of Islam being 'nonviolent' seems to be continually proved otherwise - by the Muslim community. I have been following this wild hypocrisy since the Pope's remarks came out - I wish he would continue without apology - and have been wondering if anyone else has caught on. . .most of the talking heads seemed to have missed it.

Douglas Groothuis said...

Pray for those who speak out against Islam, but who want Muslims to find freedom in Jesus Christ. They need it.

Fletcher said...

My boss's son-in-law and their family moved to Jordan as Christian missionaries last year. Of course, Christian missionaries aren't allowed in Jordan so they are "posing" as students. We just recieved word from them two days ago that they are very discouraged so far. They've developed several friendships with educated, articulate, thoughtful Muslims and only when they begin to "test the waters" by discussing Christianity v. Islam, truth claims, apologetics, etc. do their Muslims friends throw their normally thoughtful minds out the window. When it comes to scrutiny of Islam, they shut down intellectually and get emotional and angry. It is as if it is engrained in Islamic culture that you cannot even concieve of a critical discussion of Islam.

However, these very same people are critical and analytical towards all other major areas of life (their choice of accountant, surgeon, doctor, dentist, etc.) - just not their religion. Muslims usually do not "choose" to be Muslims, they just "are" Muslims and that's that.

Why can't we have a rational discussion about our religious differences?

Could it be that Muslims will not consider intellectual accountability for their worldview/religion because there is no rational defense for Islam... so the default answer becomes "Blasphemy! Infidel!"

Another big problem is that if they do leave Islam, they risk losing their families, friends, businesses, and even lives. So the root cause of these reactions may very well be FEAR.

Douglas Groothuis said...


Islam grow principally through:

1. High birth rates globally.
2. Enculturation
3. Intimidation
4. Indoctrination.

Not through:

5. Rational persuasion
6. Signs and wonders confirming their religion. Mohammad performed no miracles, according to the Koran. The Koran is taken to be the only miracle.

We as Christians have (5) and (6) to draw on by God's grace and mercy. We refuse, of course, (3) and (4). We should do better on (1)! We should try to be more evident and prevalent in our cultures as well (2).

Douglas_Coombs said...

The pope didn't really issue much of an apology. What he said was that he was sorry for the reactions of people to what he said. He never admitted to giving them a valid reason to react (even with words).

Though he was fair to the secularists in acknowledging the difficulty of academics in dealing with some Muslims, since they view God to be above reason, his main point was directed at secularist western society, "In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures."

I probably will not have time to pick up the books on Islam recommended, but I do wonder what the profound points are in the book which the pope should heed.