Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-12-2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1.  The Catholic Newman University College Chapel in Birmingham, England is celebrating the birth of Mohammad.  Yes, that Mohammad who formalized Islam and spread it throughout the Arabian peninsula by forced conversions of Jews, Christians, and pagans.  What is even more outrageous is that Archbishop Nichols where this chapel is located is supporting this 100%.  And he’s considered orthodox.  You know what I think about these types of bishops.

For the article click here.

2.  Speaking of England rumors are that an announcement will be made today that the next primate of England and Wales, ie, Archbishop of Westminster, will be Bishop Bernard Longley.

For the article click here.

3.  Back to America where RNC Chairman Michael Steele continues to put his foot in his mouth by saying that women have the choice to have an abortion.  I don’t think Mr. Steele has been properly catechized on his faith.

For the article click here.

4.  The ‘Sleeping Giant‘ that is the Catholic Church turned out in numbers to protest a bill that would have  placed authority in the hands of layman and away from the bishops at each parish.  A rally of 5,000+, including Carl Anderson Supreme Knight of the KOC and the three bishops that reside in Connecticut, protested bill SB1098 by the two anti-Catholic bigots from Connecticut, Rep. Michael Lawlor and Sen. Andrew McDonald.  The bill was tabled yesterday after an avalanche of phone calls and email from Catholics across the state and around the country.

For the article click here.

5.  Radical feminists stormed a Mass being celebrated in Vienna.  They were parading during International Women’s Day when several costumed feminist extremists invaded the church Our Lady of Victories in Vienna Rudolfsheim-Fuenfhaus.  They yelled at parishoners and passed out flyers saying “Contempt for women. Compulsive norms of sexuality, homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial”.  The blog where I found this story had a comment that stated “Imagine what would have happened if a bunch of them had stormed a Mosque”.

Cowards.  If these liberals were brave, which they aren’t, they wouldn’t have come out alive of said mosque.

For the article click here.

6.  Don’t forget to do the Stations of the Cross this Friday!  This practice dates back to the 4th century.

For the article click here.

139 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-12-2009

  • Can you elaborate (intelligently) on the problem you have with item #1?

  • Syncretism.

    It will confuse the faithful as to why Muhammad is being celebrated in a Catholic chapel.

  • God forbid that the world’s major religions enter into associations that may lead to more understanding, peace and even eventual communion.

  • Mark,

    I’m all for ecumanism as is the next guy. I have many Jewish and Muslim friends and they agree that to celebrate the life of Mohammad in a Catholic chapel is inappropriate. A more secular setting would suffice, better yet, an Islamic Center or Mosque.

    Point take.

  • In today’s world where many in the west have a relativistic attitude towards religion–whatever works for you is okay–this sort of thing helps reinforce the thought that which religion you belong to–if any–doesn’t matter. I’d say that celebrating Muhammad is a scandal that strikes at the faith of believers. Ecumenical efforts are one thing, acting as though there is approval of Muhammad and Islam is something else.

    But then, this is always an ongoing debate, isn’t it? How much scandal does silence create? If we simply say nothing about some evil, how complicit are we with it? On the other hand, this is more than silence. Maybe we should ask the following question. Why is it even a good thing to celebrate, in a Catholic setting, the birth of a man who drew large numbers of people away from the message of Christ, either through siphoning off those who harbored some doubts, or through direct conquest? Why should we celebrate the man who birthed a world religion that is continually a threat to the Catholic Church?

    And no, before the typical response comes, I’m not suggesting that the Church will ever be wiped out by Islam or any other force, no matter how hard they try. But it is a real and visceral plight to the faithful everywhere, and it ill becomes us to grow complacent.

    And remember, the ultimate hope of ecumenism is not just to get everyone to play along nicely (though that’s a sub-goal, if the greater goal cannot be reached): it is draw everyone into the Church. And that means ultimately the hope that people will abandon the false aspects of their religions and embrace the truth of the Church.

  • Tito, what is “syncretistic” about it? Would you be opposed to celebrating a Presidents’ Day Mass in a Catholic chapel?

  • The proper way for Catholics to “celebrate” the birth of the man who made up Islam is to pray for the conversion of all Moslems to the True Faith. They, no less than the rest of sinful humanity, need the light of Christ.

  • Michael,

    Not to speak for Tito, but inasmuch as there have been presidents that have led people to the light of true faith, or who have defended the Catholic Church when they had no need to, then a Presidents’ Day Mass might be acceptable. In general, I personally feel uncomfortable with the idea.

  • Donald – Good thing most Catholics don’t hold the backward views that you do.

    Ryan – Are you suggesting that Islam cannot lead human beings to true faith? You might want to review what your Church teaches about other religions. As for Tito, I have a feeling his fear of “syncretism” does not apply to other, much more problematic, areas.

  • Catholic Anarchist, what part of “Go ye therefore and make ye disciples of all the nations” is beyond your reading comprehension?

  • Tito, what is “syncretistic” about it? Would you be opposed to celebrating a Presidents’ Day Mass in a Catholic chapel?

    It seems to me the big difference here is that the US Presidency is not generally seen as a religious office.

    Frankly, I don’t think that having a “Presidents’ Day” mass is appropriate, though if one wants to pray for wisdom for the current president or the repose of the souls of dead presidents during the Prayers of the Faithful of a mass which happens to be celebrated on Presidents Day (which is a stupid, made up holiday as it stands) I wouldn’t see a problem with that.

    I suppose to be sure if I objected to this event, I’d have to know more than that it consisted of “two talks of an interfaith nature” in the chapel, but in general it would seem to be inappropriate for a Catholic organization to actively celebrate Muhammad’s birthday, in that in that the prophet founded a false religion which has historically kept from and drawn people away from (sometimes by force) the True Faith.

  • For your further edification Catholic Anarchist you might attempt to get your brain around this section of the catechism:

    “849 The missionary mandate. “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men”:339 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.”340″

    Terrible that not only I have such “backward” views, but also Christ and the Church He founded. Maybe you should stick with Rock meditations.

  • Are you suggesting that Islam cannot lead human beings to true faith? You might want to review what your Church teaches about other religions.

    Sure it could. All true things can bring people to the True Faith. Reading Homer and Virgil could bring people to the True Faith. So could Bhuddist meditation.

    The thing is, that Islam would successfully guide people to the True Faith if through it someone realized that Islam is not in fact the full revelation of God and His will in the world, but rather an imperfect reflection thereof — and if that person therefore went and became Catholic.

    And, of course, many faithful Muslims do very much love God — though they suffer from the difficulty of belonging to a faith which lacks much truth, though it has some — and so may well instantly embrace God when they encounter him perfectly in the personal judgement.

    But this doesn’t change the fact that Islam is a faith which both contains some beliefs which we as Catholics believe to be actively false and also lacks much of what we believe to be the full truth.

  • Michael I.,

    My thinking of a presidential mass is along the lines of Ryan and Darwin. But I wouldn’t feel right at all for having Mass said for my favorite living president.

    As far as having a celebration of Muhammad at a Catholic chapel, Donald expresses my sympathies quite clearly.

    I too am backwards as is Jesus and the Church He established.

  • “These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.” – Chesterton

  • Catholic Anarchist, what part of “Go ye therefore and make ye disciples of all the nations” is beyond your reading comprehension?

    Not one word.

    It seems to me the big difference here is that the US Presidency is not generally seen as a religious office.

    That does not mean it is not, in reality, a religious office.

    in general it would seem to be inappropriate for a Catholic organization to actively celebrate Muhammad’s birthday, in that in that the prophet founded a false religion which has historically kept from and drawn people away from (sometimes by force) the True Faith.

    The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is holy and true in the world’s religions. The orthodox position is NOT that Islam is an entirely “false” religion.

    The thing is, that Islam would successfully guide people to the True Faith if through it someone realized that Islam is not in fact the full revelation of God and His will in the world, but rather an imperfect reflection thereof — and if that person therefore went and became Catholic.

    Well, of course. As a Catholic, I certainly believe that. But I also believe that in order for a Muslim to even feel the slightest desire to become Christian, he or she would actually have to encounter the Gospel, and with “American Catholic” type Catholics running around, it’s awfully hard to be exposed to the actual Gospel.

    But this doesn’t change the fact that Islam is a faith which both contains some beliefs which we as Catholics believe to be actively false and also lacks much of what we believe to be the full truth.

    Of course.

    Tito, as usual, will not speak for himself or defend his dangerous posts himself, but relies on others to do it for him.

  • Interfaith discussion–fine so long as it doesn’t devolve into “I’m ok, you’re ok.”

    Celebration of Mohammed’s birthday in a Catholic chapel? I’m surprised this is even necessary to discuss. The odds of exposing anyone to the Gospel in these circumstances are too low to be meanfully calculated–it’s a big “You’re OK!” statement. Full stop. And given what the Koran and authentic ahadith say about Christianity, conjoined with the radicalism of UK university Islamic chapters, it’s hairshirt/kick-me-sign ecumenism at its worst.

  • I wonder if there’s a masjid in Birmingham celebrating the birth of Christ?

  • If there is, he had best hope that he is not suspected of apostacy and that he is not subject to the traditional sanction under sharia for ceasing to be a muslim.

  • Expressing a certain generosity of spirit and respect for another’s faith is always welcome and something I find easy to practice most of the time. But my fear is that the upside of this kind of encounter with the Gospel is very small, and the downside is rather large. In other words: I doubt many Muslims are moved toward Christ by this gesture, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many Catholics received it as yet another datum telling them that theirs is just one religion among many, and not a particularly special one at that.

  • “It seems to me the big difference here is that the US Presidency is not generally seen as a religious office.”

    That does not mean it is not, in reality, a religious office.

    No, it does not — but in this case general perception is right: the office of President of the US is not a religious office. And as I’m sure you agree, those who imbue it with a religious authority do so at their peril.

    The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is holy and true in the world’s religions. The orthodox position is NOT that Islam is an entirely “false” religion.

    That is certainly true, and I did not deny it. I didn’t say that Islam is an “entirely false” religion. Come to that, even the worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not necessarily “entirely” false, even though it was knowingly fabricated, and Islam is certainly much more true than the FSM. However, saying that Islam is a “false religion” does not mean that it contains nothing that is true, but rather that it is not “the” true religion in the sense of providing in its doctrines both the fullness of truth and nothing false. Islam lacks the fullness of truth and asserts some things that are false.

    So while we should certainly celebrate those essential truths about God, salvation and the moral life which Islam does convey, we should also not muddy the waters by ignoring our differences.

    I also believe that in order for a Muslim to even feel the slightest desire to become Christian, he or she would actually have to encounter the Gospel, and with “American Catholic” type Catholics running around, it’s awfully hard to be exposed to the actual Gospel.

    Would you be interested in expanding on this?

    It is often hard to see the Gospels reflected in the words and deeds of fellow Christians whom we consistently find rude, shallow and abrasive. Is that basically what you’re trying to convey here? I know I’ve certainly experienced that reaction to some Catholics who seem to make it their business to be unpleasant in the online world. Indeed, the temptation to see others this way is one of the best motivations for trying not to be rude, shallow or abrasive.

  • After having read Henry’s link, and stumbling across these quotes:

    “It would be difficult to find a clearer instance of grace-filled, extra-Biblical, general revelation concretized in a specific, prophetic mission than in what God accomplished in Muhammad.”

    and

    “In the cases of both Jesus and Muhammad, God produced a grace-filled moment in the lives of their hearers with an invitation to faith. Those who accepted and believed the prophetic word made an act of faith, and only subsequently sought to comprehend the nature of God, read the facts of their personal and societal lives, and interpret the sweep of human history according to that faith.”

    that I will likely not find two religious propositions I disagree with more in 2009.

    In Islam, that “grace-filled moment” led to armies erupting from Arabia, bearing fire and sword from the Atlantic to the Hindu Kush, the Koran ringing in their ears all the while, with all that entailed for Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus and Chinese. If that’s grace, then less please, Lord.

    Missing in the writer’s assertion that Muhammad could be considered a “prophet” according to the Christian understanding of the term is the notion that the prophet emerges from God’s people and calls them back to fidelity and their charism/mission, in line with previous revelation. Muhammad’s revelation essentially dumps the previous revelation on its ear, calling it warped. Especially that little matter of the incarnation we are about to celebrate in a couple of weeks. No genuine prophet ever showed up with “You know, all that stuff before–nevermind.” Leaving aside the prophetic mission of Jesus, which is the ultimate exception.

    It’s a good-hearted effort, but he rides the Rahner train too far into speculation. Moreover, it doesn’t support the claim that we should be throwing parties for Islam’s prophet in our sanctuaries.

  • DP

    You don’t realize the paper and presentation goes back to a medieval Melkite Bishop, Paul of Antioch, who looked at Muhammad as a prophet? He didn’t have to; he was in a kingdom liberated by the Crusaders. But he understood a point which you didn’t see. The abuse of the message but subsequent people does not invalidate a prophet (look, for example, at the abuse done in the name of the Bible!). The question is a much deeper question, and one which even early Christians understood. Others saw Muhammad at least in the “path of the prophets” if not a prophet himself. I would recommend a much deeper grasp at Islam beyond a one-sided, distorted image which ignores the good within the message of Muhammad (Paul of course believed the Koran to be corrupted, and imo, I agree). I’ve even seen some consider Muhammad to be a prophet like unto Balaam — in other words, authentic, but self-serving nonetheless. This doesn’t take Rahner, this just takes traditional Christian modes of thought.

  • “It would be difficult to find a clearer instance of grace-filled, extra-Biblical, general revelation concretized in a specific, prophetic mission than in what God accomplished in Muhammad.”

    No, I think God had nothing to do with Muhammad’s mission. Islam is completely based upon Muhammad and his increasingly “convenient” revelations, which were obviously made up by him from a mish-mash of traditional religious concepts popular among the Arabs of his time, and what little he knew of Christian and Jewish beliefs. That Muhammad believed that what he plucked from his brain was from God is entirely possible. That a Christian would believe it is a subject for either pity or levity.

  • All revelation ended when the last apostle, St. John, passed away. Plus St. Paul warned us of new revelations from alleged angels:

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel– not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.
    –Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians 1:6-9

    This Jesuit is deluded to think that Mohammad is a prophet. Considering that if you ever read the Koran, there is not one instance of any prophecy that Muhammad revealed that Muslims could acknowledge.

  • Tito Edwards

    You conveniently ignore what is being said, and how far back this message goes. You also ignore the fact that prophecy has not ended, and prophets do continue to exist in the church; private revelation has not ceased, only public revelation. God continues to show us his glory, and to lead people to him. More importantly, your words show the ignorance of the Koran, how it was put together, and Paul of Antioch’s own words on the corruption of the Islamic message after the death of Muhammad. Moreover, it seems you not not understand the category of prophecy; but the Church, in her wisdom sees that Muhammad did provide the polytheists a guide to the monotheism of the God of Abraham. That itself must be seen as a prophetic act.

  • But this is on par with Tito; I doubt he even read the document, but just accepted texts out of context to damn the author discussing Paul of Antioch, just as he does with his other infamous condemnations (like Balthasar, or Cardinal Egan just this week!).

  • There was already a movement of monotheism, not Christianity nor Judaism, that mixed many pagan rituals with the forementioned. Muhammad was bright enough to lead this movement and raise it from obscurity. Several epileptic seizures he called ‘revelations’ from God inspired those around him to follow him. When most of the people didn’t follow him he had to resort to the sword by raiding traders to fund his holy war or jihad as he coined. He promised wealth if people joined his new religion.

    Like Donald said, it’s a mish-mash of Christianity and Judaism as well. Being influenced by a heretic Christian, Muhammad wrote in the Koran itself that the Holy Trinity consisted of God, Jesus, and Mary.

    There are so many instances of error in the Koran that I highly doubt that there is any influence by God Himself.

    It’s basic heresy that you would even peddle this Henry.

  • Uh oh. The heresy hunters are out again, [ed.-deleted for uncharitableness].

  • Henry,

    Your uncharitableness knows no bounds.

    You are a vindictive and trite human being.

    Balthasar has no bearing on this argument.

    I doubt you even practice what you know. How dare you call yourself a Catholic when you continue to hammer your fellow brothers in Christ with past mistakes.

    Shame on you.

  • “armed with their glaring ignorance.”

    Mr. DeFrancisis, since this is Tito’s thread I will not delete your last comment. I will merely state that if you wish to debate the history of Islam in this thread, I will be happy to accomodate you.

  • Clearly Titor continues to ignore what I said, and the one who calls people “heretics” and seeks to condemn that which he doesn’t understand is the one who lacks charity. Once more: the Koran isn’t the work of Muhammad. It was created after his death. This brings to question what is and is not authentically his within the Koran; early Christian responses to Islam brought that up, especially those who did see Muhammad as a prophet. So bringing out errors within the Koran is not dealing with what was addressed. Although I agree the Koran does have errors, I would also say much of what is interpreted to be error often end up not being so (those who have studied Islam know distorted images and interpretations of the Koran and Kalam as they are expressed by the orientalist from the West looking to denigrate Islam from outside).

    So what is uncharitable is the fact that people condemn without addressing the issues, and never once show an ounce of humility and try to discern what is even being said before making such declarations public.

  • Mark

    What is sad is when people are looking to be heresy hunters, and do so by ignoring what was said and instead make some strawmen to burn. And then talk about people who point out the error of doing such as being “uncharitable.” It’s quite clear where the lack of charity lies; no sense of humility as they brashly rush in, and cry foul when they are shown to be going the wrong direction.

  • Henry: As I said, I read it. Your presumptions as to my level of knowledge and good faith are grating and best put aside if you wish to continue. If not, well–it’s the ‘net. Let me give you a little of the background of my reading to cure your presumptiveness:

    http://dprice.blogspot.com/2008/04/religion-of.html

    Yes, so the writer finds one 12th century Christian thinker (contemptuously dismissed by his Muslim perhaps-interlocutor)…and Rahner. Not a lot upon which to base his claim for Muhammad’s prophethood.

    Furthermore, Christian principles of thinking also ask that we consider the impact and immediate fruit of the message. Sure, we have the Crusader era with the slaughter at Jerusalem. Eleven centuries after the founding of Christianity.

    But the eruption of Islam into the world isn’t a later distortion. This is the conquest and subjugation of the Christian Middle East and Zorastrian Persia within a generation of his death. If the early Muslims misunderstood his message, it ranks as the greatest warping of a religious leader’s thought–ever. And, again, there is the Koran itself, which is entirely dismissive of the incarnation and the passion. If that is a work of revelation and the Spirit, however defined, our God is Janus, not the Ancient of Days.

    Sure, there are prophets and people doing prophetic work, even in our time. Dorothy Day comes to mind. It is impossible to square the life of Muhammad with that of a Christian prophet. I’m not going to insult Muslims with respect to how they feel about him, but I’m also not going to give the man a rhetorical tongue-bath in the name of dialogue. Some religious disputes cannot be resolved, as the Koran itself wisely notes in sura 109:

    [109:2] “I do not worship what you worship.

    [109:3] “Nor do you worship what I worship.

    [109:4] “Nor will I ever worship what you worship.

    [109:5] “Nor will you ever worship what I worship.

    [109:6] “To you is your religion, and to me is my religion.”

    Sometimes, it’s just as simple as that.

  • Henry,

    I didn’t condemn anyone. I quoted St. Paul. So in a sense you’re now judging the charity of St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians. That’s called the sin of pride. You’re arrogance is getting the best of you.

    As far as humility is concerned, if you had any, you wouldn’t be throwing around ad hominem statements like bringing up Balthasar.

    If you ever were capable of accepting correction, you would know what humility means.

  • Dale Price

    The paper itself is on a discussion of Paul of Antioch, which is why it only addresses Paul of Antioch. Do you seriously think this is the only early Christian witness to the idea that Muhammad could be a prophet? No, it wasn’t. But again, your response is to show “evil later came after Muhammad, therefore, he can’t be a prophet.” That is nonsense. As I pointed out, later abuse does not prove the initial error. After all, the Jews were the People of God, and yet, look to their horrible history.

  • As to the idea that Muhammad was a prophet, I would think that this portion of the Catechism would put “paid” to that particular notion:

    “66 “The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”28 Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

    67 Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

    Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations”.”

  • Henry,

    So I guess the question that spring up for me is: Are we actually doing ourselves or Islam any favors if our method of embracing Muhammad as a prophet involves assuming that the Koran not merely differs from what he himself actually said, but differs hugely and drastically. That is, needless to say, an insupportable if not offensive assumption to most Muslims.

    Now, since I don’t think God was at work in helping the compilers of the Koran get it right, I don’t doubt at all that there were errors in its collection (and I also don’t doubt that there were errors in what Muhammad himself said) but I don’t see how telling Muslims, “We think that Muhammad was a real prophet, but unfortunately you Muslims recorded his message all wrong,” gets us anywhere good in regards to interfaith dialogue. Just as I don’t see what raprochement can go on with non-Christians (Islamic or otherwise) saying to Catholics, “We think that Christ was a real prophet, but most of what you have there in the Bible is in error and Christ actually taught something pretty much like what we believe.”

    And more generally, while it’s true that private revelation continues, I’m not really sure why it makes any sense to assume that Muhammad really did receive revelations from God via an angel. Other than giving us the broad-minded a warm and fuzzy glow, it seems to make very little sense with the rest of what we know about salvation history.

  • Darwin

    There are many ways one could answer your question. The thing is, it is not about “warm and fuzzies.” It takes concrete work for the Christian to look for and find the rays of truth when outside of the normative domain of Christianity. Yet, once they are found, what good is it to find them? They become points of contact which open up room for dialogue. Does it make it easier? In some ways yes, in some ways no. In the fact that truth, wherever it is found, points to Christ, there is help. But the difficulty is to show, if that truth can be found, why all that is found isn’t necessarily a nugget of truth. Look to the work of St Thomas Aquinas with Aristotle to see both the difficulty — and yet the benefit — of such a practice. Or the patristics with Plato. Or the way even medieval hymns could see the Sibyls as prophets!

  • Darwin

    Beyond that, if this interests you, I suggest you get “Guidelines for Dialogue between Christians and Muslims.” From the Pontifical Council fir Interreligious Dialogue. It deals with your questions in great depth.

  • “The paper itself is on a discussion of Paul of Antioch, which is why it only addresses Paul of Antioch.”

    Way to move that goalpost! Odd that you’d make that claim, given that it devotes all of two of the 12 printed pages to Paul, spending much more time developing the notion of Muhammad as prophet generally, but no matter. Oh, and that quote at the beginning: “He breaks with the Christian polemical tradition by neither attacking Islam nor denying the prophethood of Muhammad…”

    Show your cards on these other early Christian writers–that would certainly move the dispute along.

    But again, your response is to show “evil later came after Muhammad, therefore, he can’t be a prophet.”

    The direct link between the message and the jihad sheds light on the nature of the message and thus, the messenger. It’s a matter of simple historiography, not to mention study of biblical texts. If you don’t care to wrestle with that inconvenient history and behavior, fine.

    Then there’s the matter of his personal behavior in life, which, while I recognize the argument that prophets aren’t sinless, certainly raises alarm bells.

    You, and the writer of the essay excerpt, are effectively arguing for a Muhammad only tenuously tethered to the Islamic tradition. Rather like a Muhammad Seminar, if you will. The burden on is on you to show why this should be so.

  • In Islam, that “grace-filled moment” led to armies erupting from Arabia, bearing fire and sword from the Atlantic to the Hindu Kush, the Koran ringing in their ears all the while, with all that entailed for Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus and Chinese. If that’s grace, then less please, Lord.

    What about Christian violence through the centuries? Oh, that’s right: our violence is okay. Theirs is not.

  • Michael I.,

    If you are unable to show respect to your fellow brothers in Christ then don’t comment at all.

    I deleted your last eight comments.

    You’re better than that. I know you’re capable of writing well-formed arguments because I’ve read them in the past.

    Hope you’re having a good Lent.

  • Dale

    Perhaps because it is a part of a bigger text?

  • What about Christian violence through the centuries? Oh, that’s right: our violence is okay. Theirs is not.

    And you derived that from my arguments just how, precisely? And tu quoque is fun, but my beautiful, bright four year old can do it, too.

  • Then give us the rest of it, Henry. And the other Christians, too. A firmer anchoring in the Tradition will be most useful for the discussion. Such as it is.

  • The thing is, it is not about “warm and fuzzies.” It takes concrete work for the Christian to look for and find the rays of truth when outside of the normative domain of Christianity. Yet, once they are found, what good is it to find them? They become points of contact which open up room for dialogue.

    I agree with that, but it seems to me that it’s necessary when dialoguing with Islam to accept Islam’s account of what it is — not create our own version which is offensive to orthodox Muslim sensibilities. (Which I’m pretty sure the claim that Muhammad was essentially a prophet in the Christian tradition whose followers totally screwed up his message when writing down the Koran would be.)

    From what I’ve read so far of your linked article, I think it offends both orthodox Catholic and Muslim interpretations of their respective faiths by suggesting that the Koran is an inaccurate (perhaps highly inaccurate) rendition of what Muhammad taught (offensive to Muslim belief) and that Islam was actually meant by God to be a parrallel faith for pagan Arabs, making neither faith a universal revelation of God to man (offensive to both Catholic and Muslim belief.)

    I just don’t see how this approach gets us to a good place as far as recognizing the real truths the two religions share — any more than a discussion between Catholics and Jews in which the Jews asserted that Christ was in fact a true prophet — but not the Son of God and all of the Bible is pius legend — would be productive. In order to recognize shared truths, we have first to recognize both religions as they truly understand themselves.

  • If you are unable to show respect to your fellow brothers in Christ then don’t comment at all.

    ??

    I see your sense of humor is as erratic as your ability to reason, so, I’ll say it directly and unambiguously, minus the attempt at humor:

    Many of the views expressed here are grounded not in the teaching of the Church and an awareness of the actual teaching of Islam, but in prejudice, ignorance, and at worst, utter hatred for Muslims.

    Have a good Lent.

  • Michael I.,

    I see your sense of humor is as erratic as your ability to reason, so, I’ll say it directly and unambiguously, minus the attempt at humor

    Thank you for that constructive and charitable analysis of me. Your charity and humility exemplify your every word.

    Sarcasm is fine and dandy, especially at my expense, but mocking people isn’t.

  • Many of the views expressed here are grounded not in the teaching of the Church and an awareness of the actual teaching of Islam, but in prejudice, ignorance, and at worst, utter hatred for Muslims.

    I can see why you’d want to think everyone here hates Islam and Muslims, but I see little evidence that it’s actually the case.

    Indeed, it would appear to be Henry who wants to redefine Muslims’ faith for them, a move which I would think would be far more offensive to most Muslims than suggesting that a Catholic chapel should probably not be actively celebrating Muhammad’s birthday.

  • Indeed, it would appear to be Henry who wants to redefine Muslims’ faith for them, a move which I would think would be far more offensive to most Muslims than suggesting that a Catholic chapel should probably not be actively celebrating Muhammad’s birthday.

    Well, it’s a huge mistake on your part to assume that all Muslims believe the same thing. Muslims THEMSELVES are redefining, and have been redefining all along, their faith. Just like us Christians.

  • Muslims THEMSELVES are redefining, and have been redefining all along, their faith. Just like us Christians.

    Maybe leftist Catholics are redefining their cafeteria Catholicism, but the Church herself is timeless and will always teach the unchanging Truth.

  • Tito – Church history. Look into it.

  • Tito – I suppose, then, you reject the “leftist” innovations of just war theory and the celibate priesthood?

  • Michael I.,

    I have, none of the teachings of the Church have changed.

    So you better not hold your breath that the ordination of women (sic) will occur at all.

  • I’m a Christian first, a conservative second.

    Any alleged innovations are not liberal nor conservative.

    Even you know better than that.

  • Michael,

    Muddying distinctions between the essentials of the faith (e.g. the divinity of Christ) and implications (just war) or even disciplines that have arisen after significant reflection is unhelpful here. Suggesting the Koran is inaccurate (as the writer does) is much more like explaining away the Resurrection, than instituting a discipline of clerical celibacy. It’s dishonest to pretend otherwise.

  • Well, it’s a huge mistake on your part to assume that all Muslims believe the same thing. Muslims THEMSELVES are redefining, and have been redefining all along, their faith. Just like us Christians.

    Certainly, Islam is much less centralized (and thus less consistant) in it’s doctrinal authority than Catholicism, and there are wide areas of disagreement. However, as a matter of definition, I think we can safely assume that the number of Muslims who believe that Muhammad was essentially a Christian prophet whose message was hopelessly garbled by his followers, and that all the doctrinal disagreements between Islam and Christianity are thus basically a mistake in transmission, is somewhere between “few” and “none”.

  • John – I am responding exclusively to Tito’s objection to my remark that Christianity has been, and continues to be, reinvented and his claim that Catholicism is unchanging (“none of the teachings of the Church have changed”). You and I know there are distinctions to be made between Tradition and traditions. It is Tito, not me, who muddies distinctions with his claims that the Church does not change.

  • Michael I.,

    Your the one throwing out the examples hence you’re the one confusing the distinctions.

    You can go take your straw and make a nice pile of it, throw a match and have a nice B-B-Q.

    Stop being dishonest in disingenuous. In other words, grow up.

  • Michael,

    Respectfully, I think your analogy muddied the waters. It suggested that positing the inaccuracy of the Koran was exactly the type of redefining that Christians do all the time (e.g. with clerical celibacy). The difficulty is that the accuracy of the Koran is much more similar to the divinity of Christ or the Resurrection; a central tenet of the religion. Contra your suggestion, Catholics are not really re-defining themselves in the same way as the above article suggests Muslims should.

  • John Henry,

    Respectfully, I made no reference to the Koran or to particular teachings of Islam that are being redefined.

    All I did was make the claim that Muslims have been redefining their faith since the beginning (with no particular redefinitions referenced) just like we Christians have been (with no particular redefinitions referenced).

    Tito responded, like the fearful Catholic fundie that he is, that the Church does not change. I replied with two examples of innovations that Tito surely accepts. He continues to claim that the Church does not change.

    It is Tito’s position, not mine, that is not able to grasp distinctions. “The Church does not change” betrays an utter denial of such distinctions.

  • I made no reference to the Koran or to particular teachings of Islam that are being redefined.

    But you did! The very point Darwin was making was that Henry’s article suggested a fundamental redefinition of Islam — and you dismissed it with “Muslims are redefining their faith all the time.” Not in that way, they aren’t. Who’s not grasping the distinctions here?

  • All I did was make the claim that Muslims have been redefining their faith since the beginning (with no particular redefinitions referenced) just like we Christians have been (with no particular redefinitions referenced).

    Then you may have misread the preceding comments, because otherwise your response was a non sequitur. The document under discussion characterized the Koran as inaccurate, which was why Darwin said it would probably be offensive to most Muslims.

  • “but in prejudice, ignorance, and at worst, utter hatred for Muslims.

    Have a good Lent.”

    Catholic Anarchist, you really do have a good future ahead of you as a humorist. Blasting people as prejudiced, ignorant and haters and then telling them to have a good Lent is pretty funny. I assume that Tito shares my sense of humor. I can think of no other reason why he tolerates your inane comments.

  • For the last time, to clarify: My concerns have been 1) Tito’s view that the Church “does not change” and 2) Darwin’s monolithic view of Islam that does not take into account its diversity and the fact that it’s never been standing still. The particulars of Darwin and Henry’s discussion were not a concern of mine.

    Have a good Lent.

  • Funny how some people are much more tolerant and willing to see the good in someone’s religion when the subject is Islam rather than, say, Sarah Palin’s church. Perhaps they think Islam more compatible with Catholicism than Protestantism; or perhaps they let their political biases decide whether they will say nice things about someone’s religion.

  • Darwin’s monolithic view of Islam that does not take into account its diversity and the fact that it’s never been standing still.

    It’s interesting that this is your concern, since I never claimed that Islam was either monolithic or unchanging. However, there are certain ideas which (especially at this current time in Islam’s history) we can be pretty confident perishingly few Muslim’s will agree with — and one of those is Henry’s supposedly ecumenical idea that Muhammad was actually an essentially Christian prophet who was merely misrepresented by his followers when they compiled the Koran.

    If you didn’t mean to suggest that many Muslims could very well accept the thesis which Henry was presenting, then why pop up and insist that Muslims are not monolithic in their beliefs?

    It’s as if I said, “Christians believe that Christ suffered and died for our sins and then rose from the dead on the third day,” and you suddenly replied, “Well, it’s a huge mistake on your part to assume that all Christians believe the same thing. Christians THEMSELVES are redefining, and have been redefining all along, their faith.”

    It is a comment which would be true in a certain context (and with “redefining” defined in a somewhat non-standard way — “developing” would be a much better word, which is why that’s the word the Church generally uses) but in the context of the statement that Christians believe in Christ’s death and resurrection, it would give the strong impression you were suggesting Christians had either made that belief up, or that it was something which a great many Christians had discarded. Either way, it would make no sense, because if one does not believe in Christ’s death and resurrection one is definitionally not a Christian.

  • DC,

    of course Michael is well aware of the distinctions between development of doctrine, which is orthodox, and reversal of doctrine which is heresy. He deliberately uses the terms “change” and “reinvent” to avoid a valid charge.

    Maybe someone should post an analysis of Pascendi, in regard to the current situation? I know that there is discussion on Fr. Z’s blog about bringing back the Anti-modernist oath. I’ll assent, what say you Michael?

    On another note… Michael, it is my belief, that, while Mohammedans may worship the same God as the Jews and Christians… that Islam is a false religion. Would you disagree?

    Wherever would you get the idea that priestly celibacy was EVER an innovation? Christ and St. Paul both recommended it, the only novelty was it’s codification by the Roman Church as a discipline, not exactly revolutionary given it’s near universal voluntary acceptance. Just war doctrine? Since Christians were not in position to make wars of any sort for a few hundred years, it was not much discussed until members of the Church were in political ascendancy. In any event there is no great leap in logic from the sound moral theology which had been applied to individual actions until that time, to the laws dictating the actions of the state. The Church (not individual Christians) will continue to develop her understanding of this and other doctrines, but will not “change” them. Therefore you can forget about women’s ordination and a reversal of the teaching on capital punishment, at least until the gates of hell prevail.

    Thanks,

    Matt

  • Here is the thing. DC’s comments are quite odd, as is the concern I see by many others here that what I said might “insult” Muslims. Why? Two reasons.

    They generally say things which might insult Muslims. Do they care? No. Only if someone suggests that perhaps Muhammad was a prophet, then they say “that might insult Muslims.” Second, how so? I’ve talked to Muslims about this. They are not insulted at all. This demonstrates, to me, people don’t really understand Muslims. They might think I interpret Islamic history wrong, and my view of Muhammad is different than theirs, but you know, when Muslims say Jesus is the Christ, I am not insulted, even if they don’t believe in the Incarnation. Indeed, because they believe Jesus is the messiah, and Mary was a perpetual virgin, both of those issues become good points of contact for dialogue.

    Moreover, even though Muslims do not agree with my interpretation of Islamic history, is the point of what I said for Muslims? No. It’s for Christians. Christians need to know what they think of Muhammad, or Plato, or Aristotle, or many other non-Christians. Coming to terms with their own views on these figures, internally, should affect how we dialogue with others.

    And Dale Price, you see the url? You can use it to get back to the whole text.

  • Thank you, Henry Karlson.

  • Perhaps they think Islam more compatible with Catholicism than Protestantism

    It’s entirely possible (and probable) that some forms of Islam ARE more compatible with Catholicism than some forms of Protestantism.

  • Henry K,

    Maybe the Dalai Lama is a misunderstood Christian prophet? What about Luther? Perhaps Ghandi? No. Not. The followers of these men may be mistaken about them, but the Church most certainly is not. If Muhammad was a Christian he would not have been slaughtering Christians to further his errors, and the Church would have seen him for what he was.

    It’s interesting here, that there is an attempt by liberals to rebrand Islam to be “Catholic” just as there have been attempts to rebrand protestantism as “Catholic”. Once we all maintain our errors but are rebranded by the liberals as Catholic, then the unity that Christ sought is achieved, everyone’s Catholic and hell can be empty? Wrong. THe unity Christ sought is filial, but is most especially DOCTRINAL. Never mind the Mohammedans, very many liberal Catholics are not in communion, though they claim to be.

  • On another note… Michael, it is my belief, that, while Mohammedans may worship the same God as the Jews and Christians… that Islam is a false religion. Would you disagree?

    Entirely false? No. Does it have access to the truth in an imperfect way? Yes.

  • Michael I,

    Entirely false? No. Does it have access to the truth in an imperfect way? Yes.

    That’s what I thought. Perhaps the Mohammedans believe the sky is blue, and therefore, Michael I. can’t bring himself to believe it’s a FALSE religion, which it clearly is.

  • Enough of this liberal claptrap… let’s talk about the pope’s gift to the Church this past week!

    from Fr. Z.

    But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

    Wow! Powerful pill for the liberals to swallow.

  • Matt McDonald continues to show how clueless he is to the whole discussion and the Christian tradition.

  • HK,

    wow! stunning and indepth insight.

    Are you going to mosque today to tell the Mohammedans they are wrong about Mohammad? I doubt it.

    After battling Islam for 700 years both theologically, and literally, you claim it’s founder is a prophet, and I am the one breaking from Christian tradition? Don’t you see the lunacy of your situation? You wish to embrace and make concessions to the infidels and spout bile to the Catholics who oppose such actions? Mohammad may have been a Christian, but Matt and Tito are not, right?

  • Henry – I don’t think Matt is clueless about what the Roman Catholic Church teaches about the world’s religions. He just does not accept it, instead preferring the approach of evangelical Protestantism.

    I wasn’t aware, Henry, that you have been battling Islam for 700 years, as he says in his last comment. Are you as old as Yoda? Older?

  • Matt,

    With all due respect (and wrongheaded though Henry is being in this discussion) your current approach is unhelpful in its tone.

    Also, as a side note, the term “Mohammedans” is really not the best ones to use. Although “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet,” is the Islamic credo, they do not consider Muhammad a savior and object of worship in the way that as Christians we consider Christ to be. “Islam” and “Muslims” would be the best terms.

    Henry,

    Well, I’m certainly glad to hear the Muslims you’ve shared your view on the the Prophet with have not been offended. Most reasonable people do indeed know there are far too many silly views out there to bother getting offended at everything that is offensive to one’s beliefs. Thus, for instance, while the activities of the Jesus Seminar are certainly offensive from a Christian point of view, actually getting emotionally offended by their antics is a waste of time and energy.

    However, I think you’ve perhaps misunderstood the basic thrust of my comments, which is not that individual Muslims may find your views personally insulting, but that your ecumenical approach here is deeply problematic because it attempts to turn Islam into something other than what it says it is. You’re priding yourself in your broadmindedness in regards to considering Muhammad a prophet, while failing to take into account that your views are in contravention to Islam, and make little sense in the context of Christianity.

    Now you say:

    [I]s the point of what I said for Muslims? No. It’s for Christians. Christians need to know what they think of Muhammad, or Plato, or Aristotle, or many other non-Christians. Coming to terms with their own views on these figures, internally, should affect how we dialogue with others.

    I’m not sure that I agree with you here. Christians need to know what they think about Muhammad’s teachings, Plato’s teachings and Aristotle’s teachings. Given that they were speaking in a more general philosophic context, I’d say the latter two have rather more to offer us than the former, but it is definitely worth understanding those ways in which each of the three illuminates the truth.

    However, I’m not at all sure that as Christians we need or ought to come to a conclusion as to Muhammad, Plato and Aristotle themselves, and most specifically as to their relationships with God. Did Plato and/or Aristotle receive some sort of a limited revelation from God which allowed them to achieve such philosophical insights, or was it merely their human intelligence (modeled on God’s reason) working on the natural order of the world (created by God) which led them to their insights? Did Muhammad receive some sort of revelation from God which he and/or his followers completely garbled, or was he mad, or did he make it up, or did he receive what seemed to him revelations from some source other than one of God’s angels? Frankly, I don’t think it’s necessarily our place as Catholics to hold strong opinions as to which of these (or perhaps some other that haven’t thought of) is true. Such a conclusion can certainly do nothing to bring us closer to Muslims, and if we’re to pursue ecumenical dialogue I think we’re much better off focusing on those doctrinal and philosophical beliefs which we share.

    Though of all the explanations for Muhammad and his actions which one might advance, the one you’re putting forward strikes me as by far the least likely.

  • Darwin

    Several things.

    First, it is not ecumenical dialogue. It is inter-religious dialogue. Learn the difference. Ecumenical is intra-Christian, inter-religious is extra-Christian.

    Second, Christians, when they dialogue with others, need to be able to do several things, including 1) they need to know their position of the other in relation to how they understand them before the dialogue 2) they need to be able to be open to learn how the other sees itself and not assume what the other believes of its own position but 3) they also need to be able to modify their position of the other in relation to the dialogue itself. #1 is important because a part of the dialogue is relate your own understanding, and if you cannot have some understanding before the dialogue, there is nothing to relate.

    Nonetheless, you are looking at this solely as inter-religious. I am not. I am looking at this also in relation to how we understand the other, because again, without that understanding, we can’t have a basis for dialogue itself.

    While you are right in saying teachings are important, we must realize that the personalism of Christianity also takes to heart the people involved as well. That there is a consistent dialogue within the Christian tradition itself of people such as Plato, Aristotle, Siddhartha, Muhammad, et. al., points very well, there is something within the Christian tradition itself that requires us to look into this. It has to do with a theology of religion, which is not an easy task.

    But what I myself have said in relation to Islam is exactly how the Church looks at the matter, too, according to the book I previously suggested anyone interested in this matter should get. “Instead of these negative judgments which came out of former concern for polemics and apologetics, Christians should assess in an objective way, and in consonsance with their faith, exactly what the inspiration, the sincerity and the faithfulness of the Prophet Muhammad, making their judgment within the framework, first, of their personal response to the commands of God, and then, on a wider scale, that of the working of providence in world history.” Guidelines for Dialogue Between Christians and Muslims, 57. It goes further, even to describe how Muhammad was seen by Patriarch Timothy of Baghdad, another early witness of Christian dialogue with Islam, to be one who traversed the path of the prophets… again, what I say is not “modern” nor is it contrary or odd to anyone who deals with inter-religious dialogue.

  • First, it is not ecumenical dialogue. It is inter-religious dialogue. Learn the difference. Ecumenical is intra-Christian, inter-religious is extra-Christian.

    You’re correct. I was using “ecumenical” in the casual sense in which it so often is used. I think we’re both pretty much aware of what was meant, though, so we can probably move past that.

    Second, Christians, when they dialogue with others, need to be able to do several things, including 1) they need to know their position of the other in relation to how they understand them before the dialogue 2) they need to be able to be open to learn how the other sees itself and not assume what the other believes of its own position but 3) they also need to be able to modify their position of the other in relation to the dialogue itself. #1 is important because a part of the dialogue is relate your own understanding, and if you cannot have some understanding before the dialogue, there is nothing to relate.

    The above is a bit difficult to parse since you’re referring to both disputants (dialogers?) by general terms and after a while you go into pronoun overload. If I follow you correctly, I believe you’re saying:

    1) The Christian must go into the conversation with an understanding of what the non-Christian’s beliefs are and Christianity’s position as to the truth and falsity of those beliefs.

    2) The Christian must be open to changing his understanding of what the non-Christian actually believes during the course of the dialogue, and thus actively listening to understand what it is that the non-Christian is really saying. (This can be especially difficult because we often use the same words to mean different things. One wants to avoid false disagreements – and false agreements.)

    3) Christian and non-Christian both need to be ready to alter their positions on the truth and falsity of each others beliefs as they come to understand more clearly what those beliefs actually are.

    Taking these to be your meanings, I agree with all your points as to how religious dialogue ought to go on — it’s just that I think your analysis of Muhammad is wrong from either a Christian or Muslim perspective.

    While you are right in saying teachings are important, we must realize that the personalism of Christianity also takes to heart the people involved as well. That there is a consistent dialogue within the Christian tradition itself of people such as Plato, Aristotle, Siddhartha, Muhammad, et. al., points very well, there is something within the Christian tradition itself that requires us to look into this. It has to do with a theology of religion, which is not an easy task.

    Here I don’t think I agree with you. I don’t think it’s necessary for us to come to a firm conclusion, as Catholics, as to what the real nature of Muhammad’s religious experience was — or how accurately the Koran in fact portrays his teachings. We need to be able to understand how Muslim scholars understand these topics, and we need to understand to what extent their beliefs do and do not reflect truth as we understand it. But there’s no call, so far as I can see, for us to come up with our version of “what really happened” with regard to Muhammad. In part because while Christian revelation and Tradition allow us to understand in what senses Islam is true and false, we are not given any particular insight into what Muhammad’s real experiences were.

    So while I think we’re definitely called to encounter the teachings of the people you list, I really don’t see that we’re required to produce our own just-so stories of how they came to teach what they taught.

    “Instead of these negative judgments which came out of former concern for polemics and apologetics, Christians should assess in an objective way, and in consonsance with their faith, exactly what the inspiration, the sincerity and the faithfulness of the Prophet Muhammad, making their judgment within the framework, first, of their personal response to the commands of God, and then, on a wider scale, that of the working of providence in world history.”

    I agree with those guidelines that this is how we should go about addressing Islam, it’s just that I strongly disagree with you that it is a reasonable theory, based on the working of providence in world history, that Muhammad was a real prophet in the Judeo-Christian tradition. And while I agree that there are a small minority of Christian thinkers throughout the last 1300 years who have seen him as having been such, it’s equally clear that they have historically been in the minority. And with good reason. I don’t think that idea makes any sense.

    The traditional view has been to see Muhammad as either a heretic or a heathen. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of my favorite writers are heathens or heretics — and as the Church clearly teaches: there is much real truth with can be found in their writings.

  • Darwin

    1) We do not go in knowing what the other’s position is, though we probably go in with some background, but it should be one which is able to be modified through the dialogue. The point, once again, is we go in with our own religious understanding of the other, of the placement of the other in our own theology of religions (different religions, and different thinkers within a given faith might come in with different answers here).

    2) There is no “the traditional view” there are many different views in tradition, including the ones of Eastern Patriarchs like Timothy of Baghdad or Paul of Antioch. In this way, I am bringing to the discussion the wider tradition, which you ignore. And this is also included in the work which I referenced. “Christians are inclined to perceive that Muhammad was a great literary, political and religious genius, and that he possessed particular qualities which enabled him to lead multitudes to the worship of the true God. But, at the same time, they find in him evidence of certain mistakes and important misapprehensions. They also discern in him marks of prophethood.” (p.58). Once again, this is not “my view,” this is what you find in documents of those who engage Islam for the Church, who employ the Church’s long history and tradition to do so. That there are some who see Muhammad as a monster, a devil, a heretic, a heathen, etc — I have not denied; but I am pointing out that this is not the only possible position. And, as from the quote I gave before this, the call has been stated for us to discern who he is.

    I truly suggest people read the book I am quoting from. It serves as a sound basis for a Catholic understanding of Islam. Fr Garvey in his inter-religious dialogue text for Orthodox says the same thing; it is, therefore, not just a contemporary Catholic position either. Indeed, you will find a recent Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria (non-Coptic) also calling Muhammad a prophet. There is a Western polemical tradition which some focus on, but again, the Church has also called us to abandon that — and to learn from the greater tradition. This is what I encourage you to do.

  • Henry K,

    can you give a SIGNIFICANT concrete example in history where a non-Christian religious group was approached with the perspective that their founder might have been a Christian prophet? You say this is a “traditional” Christian approach, surely if there’s an example we could all see the orthodoxy of your proposal. Obscure, unauthoritative snippets, possibly taken out of context are not compelling in the face of overwhelming evidence that such ideas are unorthodox. It is not unnussual to refer to religious leaders by the titles they claim for themselves regardless of their authenticity. I can appreciate Bishop Desmond Tutu, while in no way acknowledging that he is a bishop as such.

    As to the question of whether your hypothesis is offensive to Mohammedans, I am quite certain that they are not so different from us. I am much less offended when an atheist denies Christ’s divinity than when one denies He CLAIMED DIVINITY, even worse when one claiming to be Christian does so.

    I completely concur with DC that the Church engages dialogue on a reasoned and philosophical level, it does not flirt with the idea that theologies of false religions are some sort of “alternate” version of the One True Faith, or that they can, in any way be true where they disagree with same.

    Michael I,

    you may not have been at war with Islam (which means obedience, it is not obedient to God, therefore I try and avoid the term, sorry if such frank dialogue is distasteful), but I as a member of the Body of Christ have. I’m sure most people here had no problem recognizing that it is the Church, and Christian Tradition which has been at war with Islam.

    Those so open to the idea of canonizing Mohammed should carefully consider the Holy Father’s recent declaration which I have posted above, but bears repeating:

    be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

  • you may not have been at war with Islam (which means obedience, it is not obedient to God, therefore I try and avoid the term, sorry if such frank dialogue is distasteful), but I as a member of the Body of Christ have. I’m sure most people here had no problem recognizing that it is the Church, and Christian Tradition which has been at war with Islam.

    Give me a statement from the post-Vatican II Church that states that the Body of Christ is “at war” with Islam.

    Those so open to the idea of canonizing Mohammed should carefully consider…

    Who said anything about canonizing Muhammad?

  • “you may not have been at war with Islam (which means obedience, it is not obedient to God, therefore I try and avoid the term, sorry if such frank dialogue is distasteful), but I as a member of the Body of Christ have. I’m sure most people here had no problem recognizing that it is the Church, and Christian Tradition which has been at war with Islam.”

    Who else do you think we are at war with, Matt?

  • Michael I,

    Give me a statement from the post-Vatican II Church that states that the Body of Christ is “at war” with Islam.

    I’ll repeat it for your benefit:

    be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

    As St. Pius V said after the defeat of the Muslim fleet at Lepanto:
    “A truce to business; our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which He has just given the Christian army”

    Mark D.,

    we are at war with all that is evil. Lies are evil, satan is the father of lies. Christ is truth, He is at war and so are we.

    Matthew 10:34 Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword

  • How did Christ fight the war, Matt?

  • Mark D.,

    He lived, He died.

  • He resurrected….surely you know this much?

  • On a related note:

    ROME (CNS) — Christians must distance themselves from anyone or anything that insults Islam’s prophet Mohammed and should come to a greater appreciation of his role in bringing millions of people to recognize the one God, said a German Jesuit scholar.

    But Christians cannot share Muslims’ recognition of Mohammed as the last and greatest prophet, said Father Christian Troll, a professor of Islam and of Muslim-Christian relations at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany.

    Writing in La Civilta Cattolica (Catholic Civilization), a Jesuit magazine reviewed by the Vatican prior to publication, Father Troll was responding to a question asked by many Muslims: “We Muslims recognize Jesus as a prophet and we venerate him. Why don’t you Christians accept Mohammed as a prophet in the same way?”

  • We cannot recognize him as a prophet period in other words.

  • Christopher

    Which does not say they can’t recognize him as a prophet; saying we cannot believe him to be the “last and greatest prophet” is entirely correct. He isn’t.

  • Christopher:

    I suspect the CNS article has problems, look how it says this, “For Christians, Jesus was not a prophet, but the word of God made flesh, he said.”

    I am sure he said “prophet according to Muslim standards” because Christians MUST view Jesus as a prophet (and not just a prophet, but a prophet nonetheless). But again, it is nice, isn’t it, to take articles, and quote words which don’t engage the discussion, and leave it there. You would have done well if you did some exegesis of the text itself, so I know what it is you were trying to say.

  • Tito

    If you could read, it does not say that. It says we can’t look at Muhammad and understand him the say way as the Muslims do. We don’t see Muhammad is the last, greatest prophet. That’s basic. It is also basic that we don’t have the same understanding of prophethood as Muslims (which would explain the quote I gave above). But that does not answer, can Muhammad be seen as a prophet, according to Christian standards. Not as the “last, greatest” one, but as one nonetheless.

  • Matt – You’re a nut case!
    .
    .
    .
    Tito
    If you could read,

    Wow. Let me ask: Do you think this is a strategically sound way to win people over to your arguments?

  • J. christian

    Have you seen THEIR comments? Interesting to see what you take out of that whole conversation.

  • Yes, and whatever the strengths or weaknesses of their remarks, I don’t recall them engaging in ad hominem attacks against anyone here. So again: Do you think you’re winning converts?

  • J. Christian

    You don’t “recall”? Go back up there and read. But I suspect you will ignore all the insults. Fine. Talk about “do you think you are winning converts,” do you think you are going to convince me you are right by saying I engage them in ad hominens (which I did not do)?

  • Henry, It’s late and this is a long thread. I see that the personal attacks have gone both ways, and I stand corrected. Yet…

    You don’t “recall”? Go back up there and read. But I suspect you will ignore all the insults. Fine.

    …now you’re casting aspersions on my motives. I wasn’t intentionally ignoring some insults over others; I made an honest mistake based on a few cutting remarks in the last several posts.

  • j. christian

    Perhaps then you should have said nothing.

  • No, I wanted to call you on it. Because until that point, I was interested in what you had to say.

  • j. christian

    How could you be interested in what I had to say, if you didn’t read the conversation and therefore, didn’t read what I said? See, getting in at the end and just ridiculing certain people, ignoring the context, says much about you. Sorry. No go. And you talk about me casting aspersions!

  • j. christian

    In other words, the one who just engaged an ad homimen is you. Classical one. “You are rude, therefore, what you have to say is of no value.” Typical. Very typical.

  • Henry, I did read what you said. I honestly didn’t recall the whole episode about 50 posts up. I wasn’t trying to ridicule you; I was genuinely bothered by the fact that you’d made that remark about Tito when otherwise (as I remembered it) you were presenting an interesting case. I did not “ignore the context” — in fact, I thought it was rather out of context. That’s why my comment was directed to the strategy of your word choice, and not to you personally.

  • I can call Mohammad a prophet. I can call Joseph Smith a prophet. I can call David Koresh a prophet. They believed they were prophets (presumably), and other believed they were, so in conversation with some one who believes them to be prophets I have no issue with saying, “the prophet Mohamed”, i.e. asking “Well what did the prophet Mohamed say about x?” However, I don’t believe for a moment any of those were truly prophets of God; that as Catholics we should not consider them prophets in the sense that God used them to speak to us.

    I’m a little confused by Henry’s comments. At times I think he’s essentially stating what I said, other times it seems like he’s stating that as Catholics we should accept Mohamed as a prophet – as someone who was indeed sent by God to teach us something (i.e. Isiah, John the Baptist, St Bernard, etc.) . If the latter, I disagree.

    Henry, are you willing to assign your thoughts to one or the other broad categories?

  • It’s spelled “ad homineM.”

  • Henry, are you willing to assign your thoughts to one or the other broad categories?

    “Either/or” alert.

    Wow. Let me ask: Do you think this is a strategically sound way to win people over to your arguments?

    Having dealt with Matt’s nonsense for a while now, I am not optimistic about the possibility of “winning him over.” If he refuses to listen to the Church’s teaching, he sure as hell ain’t going to listen to me.

  • In other words, the one who just engaged an ad homimen is you. Classical one. “You are rude, therefore, what you have to say is of no value.” Typical. Very typical.

    One of the things it actually might help you to consider, Henry, would be not assuming so quickly that people are “the enemy” and lashing out against them. Also, it helps to watch the subtext of how one chooses phrase things. If your subtext is almost always, “I’m smarter and more educated than you are,” you’ll tend to come off poorly with people.

    All other things being equal, one generally does better in online conversation (as in person) if one attempts to be _more_ polite and reasonable than one’s opponents.

    Back on the original topic of conversation:

    Would you say that Muhammad is, to your mind, unique as a real prophet (as in, actually receiving revelations from God) who was not a Christian (and presented a non Christian message) or are them other examples you would name. Perhaps other examples would help people see what you’re trying to get at here.

    Also, even while understanding that this is an attempt at a Christian theology of religions, which the Christian would then bring into inter-religious dialogue, I’m still confused as to the utility (and the reasonableness) of this theory. The two things that strike me are:

    1) If we can only justify the claim that Muhammad was a real (though perhaps at times self serving or misguided) prophet by theorizing that a great deal of what was recorded in the Koran was not in fact an accurate representation of Muhammad’s teaching — do we really have any way of knowing what Muhammad’s teaching was, or are we simply creating an area of doubt into which we can read whatever we like.

    2) Doesn’t this actually give us a more difficult inter-religious dialogue situation than simply remaining agnostic to where Muhammad’s revelation came from (or holding it to have been madness or fabrication) in that we’re essentially attacking Muslims’ faith on two fronts: First asserting truths other than those traditionally asserted by Islam, and secondly claiming that the Koran does not in fact even represent the real teachings of Muhammad.

    If one takes the more traditional path of accepting that the Koran is an accurate record of Muhammad’s teachings, exploring and affirming those truths which we hold in common, and explaining and arguing for those truths which Islam lacks, we have a relatively simply situation. If we say, “Muhammad was basically a real prophet, but he may have added some things for self serving reasons and then his followers went off the tracks and recorded everything wrong so the suras you know so well probably aren’t really Muhammad’s teaching anyway” then it seems to me that you make any real dialogue nearly impossible, and instead put your Muslim dialog partner into apologetics mode.

    The only sense in which I can see this working is if one then goes on to take the untenable (from an orthodox Catholic point of view) that Islam represents some sort of “separate but equal” revelation and thus Muslims _ought_ to remain Muslim while Christians remain Christian. I can see why it would be a good defensive measure for Christians in certain places and times in history to have reached such a view, but it does not seem to be at all compatible with our understanding of the commission Christ gave to His Church.

  • Michael I,

    <u<Michael J. Iafrate Says:
    Sunday, March 15, 2009 A.D. at 12:51 pm

    Henry, are you willing to assign your thoughts to one or the other broad categories?

    “Either/or” alert.

    Wow. Let me ask: Do you think this is a strategically sound way to win people over to your arguments?

    Having dealt with Matt’s nonsense for a while now, I am not optimistic about the possibility of “winning him over.” If he refuses to listen to the Church’s teaching, he sure as hell ain’t going to listen to me.M.

    Calumnythe unjust damaging of the good name of another by imputing to him a crime or fault of which he is not guilty. The sin thus committed is in a general sense mortal, just as is detraction. It is hardly necessary, however, to observe that as in other breaches of the law the sin may be venial, either because of the trivial character of the subject-matter involved or because of insufficient deliberation in the making of the accusation. Objectively, a calumny is a mortal sin when it is calculated to do serious harm to the person so traduced. Just as in the instance of wrongful damage to person or estate, so the calumniator is bound to adequate reparation for the injury perpetrated by the blackening of another’s good name. He is obliged (1) to retract his false statements, and that even though his own reputation may necessarily as a consequence suffer. (2) He must also make good whatever other losses have been sustained by the innocent party as a result of his libellous utterances, provided these same have been in some measure (in confuso) foreseen by him.

  • Matt,

    Your views of Christianity’s relation to Islam ARE at odds with Catholic understanding and teaching of/on the matter.

  • Mark D.,

    Your views of Christianity’s relation to Islam ARE at odds with Catholic understanding and teaching of/on the matter.

    cite an AUTHORITATIVE document and my statement which is contradiction to it, or refer to the above post on calumny.

    This is typical liberal behavior. They cry “ad hominem” when someone demonstrates their view is in error, and then promptly make unfounded accusations.

  • Matt,

    Cite me an official Church document ( and not a saying of a centuries ago pope) that declares that we are at war with Islam. If you find one, square it with VII statements.

  • I’ll not do your research for you, but I’m sure you are aware of the crusades, the battles of Lepanto, Vienna (1 & 2), Tours, the Reconquista of Spain, sacking of Rome by the Mohammedans… etc. etc. These are military examples. The theological ones are numerous as well. Read any pope from 8th until the 20th century and you’ll see.

    In fact my statement is not even doctrinal, it is simply an assessment of reality. My tone may be out of step with current rhetoric from the Vatican, but that is not a matter of “faith and morals”.

  • Mark,

    Cite me an official Church document ( and not a saying of a centuries ago pope)

    oops. Missed that one, so you only consider post-Vatican II popes and documents authoritative? That sir, is clearly not in line with Church teaching (or Vatican II itself), you may not have read all of the above posts, so I’ll repeat it for you:

    be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

  • Just a friendly reminder, in case some of us forgot, the Church did not begin after A.D. 1962.

  • Matt,

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that Christianity has been at war with Islam from the beginning. Though it is the case that majority Christian countries have often been at war with majority Islamic countries/populations from 800-1700.

    On the Christian side of things, there is not really a Christian “holy war” tradition at all. The Crusades and similar wars over the course of Christian history were essentially cases where Church leadership said that a particular war was just (under just war theory as it existed at the time) and that soldiers who participated with the right intentions and spirit could expiate sins through the act of fighting injustice via that war.

    So Christianity is certainly not necessarily “at war with Islam”. However, Christianity does clearly lay out the right (and sometimes the responsibility) to respond with defense force against aggression — and so during those periods of history in which Islamic leaders have drawn on the Muslim understanding of Jihad to attack Christians, Christians have certainly fought back. (And similarly, in examples like the reconquesta, Christian rulers have sought to regaint territory which had been taken from them during earlier religious wars.)

    All of which is to say: I don’t think we should say “Christianity is at war with Islam” because from a Christian perspective we have no need to be at war with Muslims unless they attack us. And since I don’t think that the Muslim doctrine of Jihad (which has been subject to a wide variety of understandings and emphases in different places and times by different Muslims) is actually true, I certainly don’t think that they _need_ to be at war with us.

  • DarwinCatholic,
    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that Christianity has been at war with Islam from the beginning. Though it is the case that majority Christian countries have often been at war with majority Islamic countries/populations from 800-1700.

    You’ll note that I said military and theological. So by definition, as soon as that lie was told the Church fought it. I don’t think it’s fair to distinguish between Islamic countries and Islam itself, the Mohammedans don’t, why should we? We need to examine the distinction between Christianity and Christian nations in the case of Islamic invasions, when the key demand is to submit to Islamic rule, I think it’s fair to say it is Christianity itself which is at war.

    On the Christian side of things, there is not really a Christian “holy war” tradition at all. The Crusades and similar wars over the course of Christian history were essentially cases where Church leadership said that a particular war was just (under just war theory as it existed at the time) and that soldiers who participated with the right intentions and spirit could expiate sins through the act of fighting injustice via that war.

    I never said “holy war”, so don’t apply it to my statement. I think you are under representing the EXHORTATION to fight in the crusades, and the organizing of Crusades by the Church.

    So Christianity is certainly not necessarily “at war with Islam”. However, Christianity does clearly lay out the right (and sometimes the responsibility) to respond with defense force against aggression — and so during those periods of history in which Islamic leaders have drawn on the Muslim understanding of Jihad to attack Christians, Christians have certainly fought back. (And similarly, in examples like the reconquesta, Christian rulers have sought to regaint territory which had been taken from them during earlier religious wars.)

    All of which is to say: I don’t think we should say “Christianity is at war with Islam” because from a Christian perspective we have no need to be at war with Muslims unless they attack us. And since I don’t think that the Muslim doctrine of Jihad (which has been subject to a wide variety of understandings and emphases in different places and times by different Muslims) is actually true, I certainly don’t think that they _need_ to be at war with us.

    You’re completely ignoring the theological aspect of my point. We have not always been in military conflict with Islam, there are times when it stepped back to regroup before it attacked again, when relative peace existed (aside from individual Christians living in muslim lands who have been harassed always). Theologically, we have never stopped fighting Islam, nor can we.

    You’re also making it sound as if the muslim invasions and Christian responses were about the kings territory, this is just not the real situation. Christianity depended on the physical protection of a Christian king to prevent Islam from violently forcing conversion or submission.

  • Matt,

    You are a nut case.

  • Mark D.,

    Matt:
    I’ll not do your research for you, but I’m sure you are aware of the crusades, the battles of Lepanto, Vienna (1 & 2), Tours, the Reconquista of Spain, sacking of Rome by the Mohammedans… etc. etc. These are military examples. The theological ones are numerous as well. Read any pope from 8th until the 20th century and you’ll see.

    In fact my statement is not even doctrinal, it is simply an assessment of reality. My tone may be out of step with current rhetoric from the Vatican, but that is not a matter of “faith and morals”.

    Mark:
    Cite me an official Church document ( and not a saying of a centuries ago pope)

    Matt
    oops. Missed that one, so you only consider post-Vatican II popes and documents authoritative? That sir, is clearly not in line with Church teaching (or Vatican II itself), you may not have read all of the above posts, so I’ll repeat it for you:

    Holy Father:
    be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

    so you disagree with myself and the Holy Father to the extent that you consider us nutcases? Please be specific, which of the Holy Father’s statements do you find nutty?

    I know, you’re being scriptural (1 Cor 1:18-25):
    For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent I will reject. 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

    21 For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world, by wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believe. 22 For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness: 24 But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

  • Darwin – I’m happy to see you distance yourself from the disgusting, unChristian views of Matt and Tito. If only more of the American Catholic bloggers would do the same.

  • Leverating what I say to turn around and insult them is not a way to encourage me to do that, Michael.

    If I want to call someone “disgusting” or “unChristian” I’ll do so — but I’d rather not have people invoke me to do so.

    As it stands, I think we’d all be better off without using that kind of terminology so often. More heat than light and all that.

  • if only more of the American Catholic bloggers would do the same.

    That’s just silly; sometimes we have time to comment, sometimes we don’t. Matt no more speaks for me than you do. While on this issue I agree with you, I think you’re both unnecessarily rude. That in itself is a reason not to wade into your back-and-forth.

  • Michael I,

    so you think it’s a Christian action to call me unChristian for acknowledging that we have engaged in theological and/or military war with Islam since it’s inception? Do you consider St. Pius V “unChristian”? What about St. Pius X? Leo XII?

    Note that we have only 2 canonized popes since the 1500′s… Pius V and Pius X… both used strong language in dealing with those who attack the Church.

  • I meant to say Leo XIII, I’m sure Leo XII is a good pope, just not that familiar with him.

  • so you think it’s a Christian action to call me unChristian for acknowledging that we have engaged in theological and/or military war with Islam since it’s inception?

    I think calling what is unChristian by name is one of the most Christian things we can do sometimes. What you said was that the Church is at war with Islam. That is what I take issue with.

  • Michael,

    When you make statements which other Catholics believe to be clearly and obviously wrong, I doubt that you appreciate it if they simply announce that you’re being unChristian. What makes civility work is erring on the side of it even when you feel it’s not deserved.

    Matt,

    I agree with you that the Church very strongly exhorted Catholics to go on crusade (and I didn’t mean to imply you had asserted a principle of “holy war”, I was just pointing out what I saw as the distinction between Catholicism and Islam on the topic.) However at the same time I think it’s important to recall that although this was based strongly on religious feeling, it was also made possible by the fact that the papacy and the Church in general were a strong secular power as well a religious power at that time. Byzantium appealed to the pope as both a secular and a spiritual power to come to its aid with military force.

    I don’t think it would be accurate to say that “we have engaged in theological and/or military war with Islam since it’s inception”. We’ve asserted that Islam is false since it’s inception, and we have fought against Islamic forces as necessary over the centuries when their teaching of Jihad has caused them to invade Christian lands or oppress Christian populations. But I don’t think that Catholicism is necessarily in a state of theological (or military) war with Islam any more so than with any other world religion.

    Also worth keeping in mind, I think, is the nature is the nature of the doctrine of Jihad. Jihad means struggle, and traditionally Muslims have talked about the greater jihad (greater struggle) which is one’s inner striving for virtue and obedience to God, and the lesser jihad, which is the attempt to protect and spread Islam by military means.

    Since Islam has no central doctrinal authority (and since in my opinion as a Christian it isn’t true, and thus need not be one way rather than another) some Muslims have at some times and places very heavily emphasized the lesser jihad (modern Mujahideen often go so far as to claim that the greater jihad is impossible except when you’re actively engaged in the lesser jihad) and in other times and places practically ignored it. It seems to me that if Muslims are willing to ignore the lesser jihad, then the Church’s only quarrel with them is that, like other non-Christians, they do not have the fullness of Christ’s saving message.

  • Rick

    At the start of my discussion, I pointed out a document. It would help answer your question if you read it. At least it would help put us on the same page in this discussion itself.

    But I will make some brief statements here now. Prophecy: pro + phesi. To speak for/in behalf of/in front of/etc. A prophet is one who does pro + phesi for God.

    Now many Christians through the centuries, when looking at Muhammad (such as Paul of Antioch, who I have mentioned, and who was under consideration in the document I gave a link to), saw that he brought a sense of justice and also the monotheism of the God of Abraham to them. They see that because he spoek of and for God to them, and got them to believe in the true God, he was a prophet. They also think his mission was to bring the Arabs together, and if his mission was not subverted, it would have brought them to the Gospel (either in Muhammad’s lifetime, or soon after); so they saw Muhammad a prophet preparing for the Gospel.

    Now, even if one says that is a failure, they would point out that many prophets have had failed missions. But partial success, and the longevity of the movement itself, says something about its origins (just like Christians were shown to be of God in the Acts of the Apostles).

    Now even if one acknowledges this, as many Christians did and do, there are still questions. Does this mean Muhammad was holy? Not necessarily at all; many (not all) think he would have been a prophet like unto Balaam. Now Balaam truly spoke for God, but look to how self-serving he was in his life? Now of course, Muslims would not like this, but again, the question is from the Christian perspective and how we understand him. And this is an example to show the extremes we find, even in the normative tradition, of how prophets can act. Which is why, as the links above again show, Christians and Muslims have a different notion of what it means to be a prophet.

    I’m not saying an individual has to believe he is, but all I am saying is it is within the Christian tradition to allow for this perspective. And even by saying it, it does not answer all the questions as people assume.

    And we can and do see Christians looking to various figures as prophets which might seem surprising, from the Sibyl and Vergil (his glorification of Caesar was read Christologically by many), to Zoroaster, etc. Things are not as neat as people might realize.

  • Michael I.,

    There’s no need for those ad hominems towards Matt and I.

    Debate the points with charity.

  • Thanks Henry. I think you clarified your position well – at least to my mind. For me this is one subject I don’t care to try to divine the truth in all it’s nuances, so I didn’t ask as a means of being argumentative. I just saw what I thought was an argument going on that may have been averted if there were more clarity. Contra the dismissive remark but another commenter I wasn’t trying to trip you up or squeeze you into a neat little box.

  • Michael I,


    I think calling what is unChristian by name is one of the most Christian things we can do sometimes. What you said was that the Church is at war with Islam. That is what I take issue with.

    Then respond to it with reason and evidence.

  • And we can and do see Christians looking to various figures as prophets which might seem surprising, from the Sibyl and Vergil (his glorification of Caesar was read Christologically by many), to Zoroaster, etc. Things are not as neat as people might realize.

    Please don’t take this as merely cynical, because I am of course very sympathetic to the Medieval ideas about Virgil and other pagan figures having been in some sense prophetic. However I think there are two reasons why seeing those figures as occasionally prophetic from a Christian point of view sat better with people:

    1) The argument was made in the context of their religious traditions already having “lost” or during the course of an overwhelming push to convert the remaining pagans who recognized them as authorities. So one might either tell pagans, “Christ is the savior sent to all of us, look even the Sibyl prophesied his coming.” Or you might, in retrospect, look at Virgil’s 4th Eclogue and reflect that he had prophesied Christ’s coming, as a way of reflecting on how all of creation (even the non-Jews) had been in anticipation of Christ’s coming. What we do not see, however, is exchanges along the lines of:

    “Paganism is false, and pagans must convert and be baptised.”
    “Well, it’s not entirely false, and many consider the Sibyl to have been a real prophet. We should not be so harsh in our judgement.”

    I think it’s safe to say that pagan figures were only pointed to as prophets from within an understanding that paganism was a false and soon-to-be-vanished religion.

    2) Virtually all the examples I can think of were explicitly pre-incarnation. The only exceptions I can think of (and I can’t think of a specific example right now but I’m sure I’ve seen this) are when you have stories about the conversion of pagan peoples in which some sort of prophecy of a new god coming who will overthrow all the other gods is received by a priest or oracle shortly before Christian missionaries show up.

    Either way, Muhammad as prophet doesn’t really seem to fit the mold. I guess it’s possible, according to the description of what you mean by prophet, but I don’t find it a very compelling explanation.

  • I’m happy to see you distance yourself from the disgusting, unChristian views of Matt and Tito. If only more of the American Catholic bloggers would do the same.

    After the Gerald Campbell incident, after any number of VN comments from folks like digby, etc., you’re not exactly in a position to demand that bloggers have an obligation to write up a disagreement with every inaccurate thing that appears on their blog.

  • Then respond to it with reason and evidence.

    No one here is defending your statement that Christians are “at war with Islam,” so it must be self-evident.

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