Friday, August 24, 2007

Engaging Pluralism at APU

APU's Newman Chair of Catholic Theology is planning to host a series dedicated to fostering an understanding of and dialog with muslims. While that is an admirable goal, it dismisses some serious differences between Islam and Christianity in the interest of Pluralism. Anyone who is aware of what is happening in the world today will be mystified at the language of Pluralism and the idea that we should all just sit around the campfire and sing kumbaya.

First lecture is Sunday Aug. 26 Please consider attending to ask questions.

See APU's website for full information

I add my editorial comments at several of these points in the following justification for the series.

Engaging Muslims: Religion, Cultures, Politics
Why is it appropriate for the Cardinal Newman Chair of Catholic Theology to use
grant money to teach about Islam?

*The two single largest faith traditions in world are the Catholic Church and Islam, about 1 billion each.

*Benedict XVI has declared (in Cologne, August 20, 2005) that dialogue between Catholics and Muslims "cannot be reduced to an optional extra" and that such dialogue is "a vital necessity on which in large measure our future depends."

*The bishops of the Catholic Church, meeting at the Second Vatican Council in 1965, pleaded "with all to forget the past," and urged "that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values." (The Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions [Nostra Aetate] 3)

*Speaking to the tiny Catholic community of Ankara, Turkey, in 1979, John Paul II suggested: "My brothers, when I think of this spiritual heritage (Islam) and the value it has for man and for society, its capacity of offering, particularly in the young, guidance for life, filing the gap left by materialism, and giving a reliable foundation to social and juridical organization, I wonder if it is not urgent, precisely today when Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history, to recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us, in order to preserve and promote together for the benefit of all men, 'peace, liberty, social justice and moral values' as the Council calls upon us to do (Nostra Aetate 3)."

snowman ...

What spiritual bonds unite us? Mo has instructed his followers that Christians and Jews are monkeys and pigs, that they should be converted, subjugated or killed. Christianity teaches we should love our enemies and pray for them.

Current events underscore that many devoted Muslims take Mohammed at his word and seek to destroy non-muslim cultures and subjugate or kill all infidels. Not just rantings from bellicose mullahs on Fridays but actions that fill our newspapers daily. On what basis is that a spiritual bond?

*Benedict XVI reiterated this in his 2006 (November 28) visit to Turkey, on the eve of the 29th anniversary of John Paul II's speech in Turkey: "For my own part, I also wish to highlight the qualities of the Turkish population. Here I make my own the words of my immediate predecessor, Pope John Paul II of blessed memory, who said on the occasion of his visit in 1979: 'I wonder if it is not urgent, precisely today when Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history, to recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us, in order to preserve and promote together, for the benefit of all men, "peace, liberty, social justice and moral values"' (Address to the Catholic Community in Ankara, 28 November 1979).

*Benedict XVI continued in his 2006 address in Turkey to give the contemporary reason for Christians and Muslims to know one another better: "We are called to work together, so as to help society to open itself to the transcendent, giving Almighty God his rightful place. The best way forward is via authentic dialogue between Christians and Muslims, based on truth and inspired by a sincere wish to know one another better, respecting differences and recognizing what we have in common."


Mohammed did not instruct his followers to engage in dialog, unless it was to deceive or bide time until a position of strength was achieved. And what is it that we have in common? We don't believe in the same God, we don't believe in the same world view regarding science, philosophy or free will, we don't agree on basic human dignity.

After the Danish cartoon rage episode, Pope Benedict XVI quoted a 14th century document about Mohammed's legacy being one of evil and inhumanity in order to spark a 'dialog' about the need for reason. What he got were death threats for insulting the 'prophet'.

*The two scriptures among all religions that most closely fit our Christian understanding of Scripture are: the Bible and the Qur'an.

How is it that the quran fits the Christian understanding of scriptures? The quran is the opposite of the Bible...Muslims say it has been corrupted (but still point to verses they claim support islam). How can one possibly make the assertion that there is anything remotely similar? The quran has at least 1000 references to war with and subjugation of infidels, it counsels muslims to convert by force, or murder infidels and apostates. The Bible tells us to turn the other cheek, to walk the extra mile and to pray for our enemies. The Bible was written by God's spirit moving in men...66 books 40 authors following understandable themes. the quran was apparently given to one man by a spirit being that exists in a hash of unorganized statements. The hadith are required to even make sense of it. Yahweh is a God of reason, logic, and consistency.
He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Allah is capricious, illogical, unreasonable and inconstant. Again, where is the similarity?

*It is impossible to understand the development of the Catholic civilization of Europe in all its artistic, intellectual, theological, spiritual and literary aspects without understanding the encounter between Christianity and Islam. The Thomistic synthesis of the high Middle Ages that determined the direction of Catholic intellectual life to the 20th century is incomprehensible apart from the influence of Islam. Franciscan spirituality was forged in the encounter with Muslims. The Islamic elements in Iberian, Middle Eastern, Balkan and East European cultures are essential to understanding those cultures and the Christian traditions within those cultures.

*Speaking to a crowd of 50,000 young Muslims in Morocco (1985), John Paul II pointed out to them: "Christians and Muslims, in general we have badly understood each other, and sometimes, in the past, we have opposed and often exhausted each other in polemics and in wars. . . I believe that today, God
invites us to change our old practices. We must respect each other, and we must stimulate each other in good works on the path of God."

*This was after John Paul II had already told the young Muslims: "Christians and Muslims have many things in common, as believers and as human beings. We live in the same world, marked by many signs of hope, but also by multiple signs of anguish. For us, Abraham is a model of faith in God, of submission to his will and of confidence in his goodness. We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection."

The same God? Please clear up the following:

1.Allah is not mentioned one time in the Bible, even in early Arabic translations of the Bible.
2.Our God has a personal name, Yahweh....not Allah.
3.The Quran often contradicts the Bible. For example, it denies that Jesus was God incarnate or that he died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.
4.The Christian God never contraticts himself in the Bible, the Quran is full of contradictions.
5.Yahweh is knowable, personal, spiritual and full of grace. Allah has none of these attributes.
6.Yahweh is constrained by his unchanging nature. Allah exists outside of reason and logic and cannot be trusted for anything.

Jesus Christ preached a gospel of peace and reconciliation and rejected the use
of armed force.

Muhammad and Allah have nothing to do with Christianity or the one true God of
the Bible.

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