PopeWatch: Islam

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

In all the furor over the economic passages of Evangelii Gaudium, other sections of that lengthy document have received short shrift.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has the comments of Father Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian Jesuit, on these passages:

1. Muslims “together with us adore the One, merciful God” (No. 252)

I would advise caution here. It is true Muslims worship one and merciful God. However, this sentence suggests that the two conceptions of God are equal. Yet in Christianity God is the Trinity in its essence, plurality united by love: He is a bit more than just clemency and mercy. We have two quite different conceptions of the Divine One. Muslims characterize God as inaccessible. The Christian vision of the Oneness of the Trinity emphasizes that God is Love which is communicated: Father-Son-Spirit, or Lover-Beloved-Love, as St. Augustine suggested.

Moreover, what does the mercy of the God of Islam mean? He has mercy for whom he wants and not on those whom displease him. “Allah might admit to His mercy whom He willed” (Koran 48:25). These expressions are, almost literally, in the Old Testament (Exodus 33:19). But never arrive at saying that “God is love” (1 John 4:16), like St John.

Mercy in the case of Islam is that of the rich man who stoops over the poor and gives him something. But the Christian God is the one who lowers Himself to the level of the poor man in order to raise him up; He does not show his wealth to be respected (or feared) by the poor: he gives Himself in order the poor should live.

2. “The sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings” (No. 252)

This is true in a sense, but it is somewhat ambiguous. It is true that Muslims retain words or facts from the canonical gospels, such as the story of the Annunciation which is found almost literally in chapters 3 (The Family of Imr?n) and 19 (Mariam).

But more frequently the Koran is inspired by the pious tales of the apocryphal Gospels, and do not draw from them the theological sense they contain, and do not give these facts or words the meaning that they actually have, not out of malice, but because they do not contain the overall vision of the Christian message.

3. The figure of Christ in the Koran and the Gospel (No. 252)

The Koran refers to “Jesus and Mary [who] are the object of profound veneration”. To tell the truth, Jesus is not an object of veneration in the Muslim tradition. Instead, Mary is venerated, especially by Muslim women, who willingly go to the places of pilgrimage.

The lack of veneration for Jesus Christ is probably explained by the fact that, in the Koran, Jesus is a great prophet, famous for his miracles on behalf of a poor and sick humanity, but he is not the equal of Muhammad. Only mystics have a certain devotion to him, as the sol-called “Spirit of God”.

In fact, all that is said of Jesus in the Koran is the exact opposite of Christian teachings. He is not the Son of God, but a prophet and that’s it. He is not even the last of the prophets, because instead the “seal of the prophets” is Muhammad (Koran 33:40). Christian revelation is only seen as a step towards the ultimate revelation brought by Muhammad, i.e. Islam.

4. The Koran is opposed to all the fundamental Christian dogmas

The figure of Christ as the second person of the Trinity is condemned. In the Koran it says explicitly to Christians: ” O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not ‘Three’ – Cease! (it is) better for you! – Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that “(Koran 4:171). These verses against the Trinity are very clear and need no interpretation.

The Koran denies the divinity of Christ: “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?’” (Koran 5:116). And Jesus denies it!

Finally, the Koran negates Redemption. It even says that Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross, but it was a look-alike: “And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them” (Koran 4:157). In this way God saved Jesus from the wickedness of the Jews. But then Christ did not save the world!

In short, the Koran and Muslims deny the essential dogmas of Christianity: the Trinity, the Incarnation and Redemption. It should be added that this is their most absolute right! But you can not then say that “The sacred writings of Islam retain part of Christian teachings”. You simply must speak of the “Jesus of the Koran” which has nothing to do with the Jesus of the Gospels.

The Koran mentions Jesus because it aims to complete the revelation of Christ to exalt Muhammad. Besides, seeing what Jesus and Mary do in the Koran, we notice that it is no more than apply the prayers and fasting according to the Koran. Mary is certainly the most beautiful figure among all those presented in the Koran: she is the Virgin Mother, whom no man has ever touched. But she can not be the Theotokos; instead she is a good Muslim.

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch finds this commentary fascinating.  Too often popes in contemporary times have shaded the truth regarding Islam out of an honest fear for the repercussions to Christians in Muslim lands.  As understandable as this concern is, it is also a mistake.  No real dialogue can be based on hopes that have little basis in hard facts, and we do no favor to adherents of Islam if we willfully misinterpret what is being said by most of them in order to pretend that the relationship between Islam and Christianity is what we might wish it were, instead of what it is.  Bravo Father Samir.

46 Responses to PopeWatch: Islam

  • Exodus 33:19, “I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please Me,” that Fr Samir refers to is the key text for the Thomist doctrine of Predilection.

    St Thomas teaches that “Since the love of God is the cause of the goodness of things, no one would be better than another, if God did not will a greater good to one than to another.” [Ia, q. 20, a. 3]

    Obviously, the person who keeps the commandments is better than the one who is able to do so, but does not. Therefore, he who keeps the commandments is more beloved and assisted by God. In short, God loves that person, to whom He grants that he keep the commandments, more than another in whom He permits sin.

    This principle of predilection presupposes, according to St. Thomas, a decree of the divine will rendering our salutary acts intrinsically efficacious [Ia, q. 19, a. 8]. For, if they were efficacious on account of our foreseen consent, of two people equally loved and helped by God, one would be better in some respect. He would be better of himself alone and not on account of divine predilection.”

    This is why St Augustine says, “God has mercy on no man in vain. He calls the man on whom He has mercy in the way He knows will suit him, so that he will not refuse the call.”

    Traditionally, the Jesuits rejected the doctrine of Predilection and followed the teaching of Molina, whilst the Dominicans and the Later Augustinians followed St Thomas

  • It is good that some one with the “credentials” of being both Egyptian and a Jesuit will point out these important distinct differences. We have been talking about these points in our study group and wondered why some well published Catholic sources seem not to recognize them. I think maybe it is just wishful thinking.
    As far as the various approaches to the understanding of mercy pointed out by MPS- yes they are there, but they are well within the walls. Whereas Father Samir is discussing beliefs that are completely outside our understanding of God, Jesus and Mary.

  • Anzlyne

    I was merely pointing out that the doctrine of Predilection is not dissimilar to “Allah might admit to His mercy whom He willed” (Koran 48:25) Both stress the absolute sovereignty of God.

    Thus, St Augustine, “Who would dare to affirm that God has no method of calling whereby even Esau might have applied his mind and yoked his will to the faith in which Jacob was justified? … Who would dare to affirm that the Omnipotent lacked a method of persuading even Esau to believe?”

  • Thanks Michael PS. Yes I got that. I wanted to support the points made by the Egyptian Jesuit Father in general and make note that he was trying to point out the gulf between Islam and Christianity, because so many people think we worship the “same god”.
    Your point is also taken and appreciated.
    I didn’t want those finer distinctions to confuse some people. Augustine and Aquinas both admit the sovereign power of God, as does Mohammed. That doesn’t blur, though, the very distinct lines between the heresy of Islam and Christianity.

    On another note, of course the ultimate fate of Esau is very important consideration for all of us who love someone whose will and intellect are not “yoked to the faith in which Jacob was justified” Another tangent would lead me to “who am I to judge?” : ( but I wanted to stick to the point of the larger paradigm of Islam which is not largely about the personal relationship or inner workings of an individual conscience or, as you know, the immanence of God in the human heart.

  • Good point concerning #1. The conceptions of the one God are different. It certainly raises a question as to whether the SAME god is being worshiped. I would argue that the same god is not being worhsiped, unless a Muslim comes to udnerstand and connect with the one true God along the way.

  • In all the furor over the economic passages of Evangelii Gaudium, other sections of that lengthy document have received short shrift.
    Concur!
    Glad you posted the link to Samir Khalil Samir because his analysis seems well-balanced. I have not studied Islam to any great extent, so I depend on these types of discussions to learn about it. He points out theological imprecision of Pope Francis’ words without going overboard (as I’ve seen at other blogs).
    In addition to sections 252 and 253, section 247 troubles me:
    |
    “We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked. … As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God.”
    |
    If I were the type to over-react, I might think that Pope Francis believes Jews can be saved by following Mosaic Law and that we need not — indeed, we must not — evangelize to them to accept Jesus as their savior. Section 249 comes to the rescue (I think):
    |
    “God continues to work among the people of the Old Covenant and to bring forth treasures of wisdom which flow from their encounter with his word. For this reason, the Church also is enriched when she receives the values of Judaism. While it is true that certain Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism, and that the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah, there exists as well a rich complementarity which allows us to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another to mine the riches of God’s word.”
    |
    In the middle there he says “the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah”, but he does not say to who. He also caveats the sentence with “certain Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism”, whatever that means, so his desire for us to evangelize to Jews comes across as a bit muddled here. If you have some good analysis on this point (by which I mean serious without over-reacting), that would be helpful to me.

  • I find the lack of clarity disturbing. If Jesus is Lord and MEssiah of the world, and all people come to God by faith in the Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile, and this is good Pauline theology, then there really isn’t much sense in saying the rest. It sounds liek the Dispensationalist line that Jews can be saved on different terms because they remain in a rather separate category.

  • Excuse me for asking a very simple question here, however did Pope Francis truly state in his written document that we and Muslims worship the same God?

  • 252. Our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society. We must never forget that they “profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day”.[198] The sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings; Jesus and Mary receive profound veneration and it is admirable to see how Muslims both young and old, men and women, make time for daily prayer and faithfully take part in religious services. Many of them also have a deep conviction that their life, in its entirety, is from God and for God. They also acknowledge the need to respond to God with an ethical commitment and with mercy towards those most in need.
    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.html#Interreligious_dialogue

  • ruh roh its a direct quote from Lumen Gentium 16

    (126) But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.

  • Anzlyne

    Thank you for your citation of Lumen Gentium.

    Also, in Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council, declares that Muslims “adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, (cf Pope St Gregory VII’s letter XXI to Anzir (Nacir), King of Mauritania) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God.”

    Many arguments to the contrary strike me as implicitly Marcionite, in virtually denying the identity of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • But what about the Trinity? What about Jesus Son of God?

  • Credo in unum Deum. I believe in One God…. Whether we use Latin or English, we all begin our Creed with this confession each Lord’s Day (Sunday). I believe that it is extremely important for each of us and all of us to return to the Creed again and again, not to gain ammunition to debate those who disagree (whoever those who disagree are) but to deepen our own faith in One God in the Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is into this Mystery we literally were baptized, immersed, and we need to learn how to swim in it-in order to be able to dialogue with fellow Christians, with the Jews, Moslems, other world religions and with secularists and atheists. Listening to Saint Thomas Aquinas and not stop with learning, believing and reciting the doctrine, but go further and deeper into the Mystery the words represent.

    To go into a full analysis is both beyond my ability and the space and time given to me right now. However, we can say this: I/we believe in One God, the Father, the Almighty, the Creator. There is a progression of faith found in Revelation (look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is known as “God’s Pedagogy”. He reveals Himself fundamentally in creation as the Creator [remember the "star" of this Sunday-Epiphany]. There is a Covenant of the Gentiles based on the Covenant with Noah, maintaining God’s promise to the nations; on their part they must turn from their idolatry to the One true God and reject evil and do the good following the golden rule. Saint Paul, following Wisdom 13 , says all peoples can come to know the One true God, the Creator, to worship and to give Him thanks, and to do what they ought [Romans 1.18-23] This God is the God of creation, the Creator. He is and can be known by intellect seeking the truth. Is He not the same God Whom we worship? Yes -and yet, no-because this One God has further revealed Himself to Israel as God with us and for us, and now fully revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. Islam does not believe we worship the same God. this is why they don’t want Christians in Malaysia using the name “Allah” when they say, “God”. Is He the same God? Yes, since the One God is the Creator. However, after that, we differ. After all, He has revealed Himself to Israel (and no other nation), “salvation is from the Jews’ (John 4.22). Jesus Christ is the ultimate and full manifestation of God’s Self-revelation and His saving will. Islam is the only religion in the world which has as its doctrine, the denial of the Divinity of Christ [I am not saying Jews believe this, I am simply saying it is not a doctrine of theirs].

    Fr Samir’s article was excellent. I believe his ‘critique’ of Pope Francis’ comments are a necessary ‘corrective’ to a somewhat too positive and optimistic assessment that originated in Vatican II-specifically in response to a request of the Eastern Churches in the Middle East who felt that after our genuine and positive assessment/corrective of our vision of the Jews, something positive needed to be said about Islam. What Vatican II said was not wrong, it simply was too optimistic. Pope Francis is continuing that ‘optimism’ knowing full well that ‘the soul’ of Islam right now is at stake. This is Islam’s ‘hour of judgment’ in which they are being judged which aspect of their ambiguous religion they are going to choose: Islamicist fundamentalist fanaticism attempting to drive all Moslems and the world back to the seventh century, wars, persecutions and all, or an Islam that recognizes it needs to wrestle with its own writings, subject them to the “logos” [Logos] and enter into substantial dialogue with Judaism, the Church and the rest of the world. I simply am not as hopeful or optimistic about this outcome as Pope Francis-and neither is Fr Samir.

  • “Islam does not believe we worship the same God. this is why they don’t want Christians in Malaysia using the name “Allah” when they say, “God”.

    Honestly, I think I will take their word for it over Vatican II and Lumen Gentium (and Pope Francis). That fact that Islam has the doctrine that Jesus isn’t Divine suggests that, no, they don’t worship God, but someone else entirely, even if they don’t realize it.

    Folks, Jesus said to go out, preach the word, baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I don’t think He would have gone around preaching for 3 years and ultimately dying by crucifixion so that people could come up with their own religion or follow false ideas if they were just going to reach Heaven anyways.

  • Islam is a seventh century based heresy against the Catholic Church. Islam seeks to convert or destroy by the sword.

    Charles Martel, Queein Isabel, Don Juan of Austria and King John Sobieski didn’t need a Vatican II document to tell them what they were up against.

    Peace is best achieved with Islam by defeating it.

  • DJ Hesslius,

    I assume you were speaking tongue in cheek when you said that you will take Moslems’ word on God-whether the God they worship is the same as the God Whom we worship over that of The Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium) and Pope Francis. If it were not tongue in cheek to say that is quite a statement for a Catholic to make would be an understatement.

    Jesus came to reveal God fully: One God in Three Divine Persons; or as Saint John in his First Letter succinctly puts it in three words: “God is love” [that is a statement about God Himself, and not ‘merely’ that He is loving etc toward us.

    Whether one celebrates Epiphany on January 6th or today, the Mystery remains the same. God fundamentally reveals Himself as One and the Creator in all of His creation. This is the fundamental revelation of God, which any and every person can and ought to be able to ‘ascertain’ by their use of their intellect (reason). We have this in our tradition from Wisdom 13 to Romans 1 all the way to Vatican I and confirmed/affirmed in Vatican II. If any person comes to know that God is one and is the Creator to Whom worship and thanks are owed (see Romans 1.18-25) that God is the One God in Whom we profess our faith. This is straight, traditional Catholic teaching.

    What I have just said, has nothing to do with the supposed revelation Moslems receive by way of Mohammed in the Quran. I do not accept the Quran as revelation or scripture, not do I (or any Catholic) accept Mohammed as a prophet, never mind ‘the prophet’. What Father Samir states about what Moslems do say about Jesus is accurate, and shows that the ‘sources’ for Mohammed were gnostic gospels, various and sundry Christian heresies denying both the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery. Worse still is the claim that Christians worship a ‘trinity’ made up of God, Jesus and Mary!

    I am not sure who you meant when you were speaking about ‘people coming up with their own religion’. I will assume you were speaking of the followers of Mohammed. However you also mention the false ideas that everyone goes to heaven. That is obviously heresy. I also assure you that no text in Vatican II teaches that. Ralph Martin does an excellent job on exegeting the texts in question showing that that is not a teaching of VII, despite some misinterpreting it that way.

  • Penguins Fan,

    I agree that Islam is a seventh century Christian heresy. Saint John of Damascus (Damascene) stated this, living as he was in a city, Damascus, Syria, that already was conquered by Moslem forces and living only a century after Mohammed. I also am thankful for such figures as Charles Martel who led a defensive campaign against the Islamic forces pouring into what is now France from Spain. I am one, in the interest of transparency etc. who believes that the Crusades were a defensive and not an offensive campaign.

    While I am thankful for such figures, I am not at all convinced etc that ‘a call to arms’ is the best way to deal with 1 billion fellow human beings. I need to be clear here. I am speaking as a Catholic and speaking of a Catholic response, not what a country like America should or should not do. I am speaking from the Faith, the faith perspective. Jesus says, “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword”. While it is ‘common wisdom’ to ‘fight fire with fire’ when did Jesus Christ fight fire with fire? He He not our “norm”? Our ‘weapons’ are spiritual because as St Paul writes. “We do not fight against flesh and blood but against Principalities and Powers…”. Take another look at Ephesian 6, and our ‘spiritual warfare':

    1) Prayer, especially the Rosary. I do not believe it accidental the Mary appeared at Fatima, asking Catholics to pray the rosary for the conversion of Russia-while not canonizing Putin etc, anyone notice the turnaround that country is doing? Fatima is the name of Mohammed’s daughter, the wife of Ali who is revered by the Shiites. Do we really think this was all coincidence?

    2) Offering up our Masses (no matter what language they are in) for peace in the world, and the conversion of Moslems. This is a time of judgment for Islam. Can we not assist those who are indeed more moderate and open to reason and dialogue over the Islamicist fundamentalists with our greatest weapon, the Most Holy Eucharist?

    3)Dialogue means bringing both sides to a ‘situation’ we commonly call a table, and address issues with ‘reason’ [logos: the Logos]. The more we bring Moslems to ‘reason/logos’ the more open they will be to the Divine Logos made flesh, Jesus Christ. This will not take place with Islamicists-but it can and should with the more moderate forces (they do exist-at least right now). This is what Pope Francis is actually talking about.

    4)Evangelization through witness of life. This is the toughest of them all-always has been. It means for Christians not to leave Middle Eastern countries etc so that Moslems can come in contact with them on a daily basis. This is how we ‘conquered’ the Roman Empire in roughly 300 years-no armies, physicial weapons etc. but the gospel of Christ and the “Sword of the Spirit”. Now that means, sadly some will be martyred-the ultimate witness. Have we forgotten that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith”?

    Christ is constantly saying “Do not be afraid….The Spirit of the One within you is greater than the one in the world”. We really need to take Him at His word.

  • My post seems pretty clear to me: The Muslims (if the quote accurately states what they really do believe–I’m not an expert in Islam and I pulled that quote from you) say that don’t worship the same god as do we Catholics/Christians. And I’m willing to say the Church just might be wrong on Her instance that the deity the Muslims worship is, in fact, God (the real one that we Catholics worship.)
    .
    Do we worship a deity that condones sex slavery? Suicide bombing? Multiple wives? Female gentile mutilation. Stoning? Ethnic cleansing? In looking at the “fruits” of Islam, I have a very hard time seeing how they worship God (the real one that is.)

  • D, J. Hesslius

    It is important in speaking about any religion, even ours, to make the distinction between God and what His followers do. I would not want anyone to describe the Catholic Faith by pointing out the sins of Catholics (past or present), It also is important to recognize that there are many things that are ‘willed by God” or seem acceptable to Him in the Old Testament which I would dare say, we would not agree with or do-yet, we do worship the same God revealed in the Old Testament. We fundamentally recognize that Jesus Christ did not come to ‘destroy the Law and the Prophets’ but to fulfill them” and bring out their deeper meaning: “You have heard it said…But I say to you….”

    I am in no way offering any kind of apologia for Islam or its followers. Nor am I placing them alongside Judaism and Christianity. I do not believe they are a religion of ‘the book’ because they have not received revelation from God I am simply stating that their belief in the One God, the Creator (no matter how poorly understood, etc.), the result of the intellect’s ability to come to know the One God, the Creator, is the One God, “the Creator, the Maker of heaven and earth” in Whom we also believe.

  • I hear you DJ. They don’t want us Christians to call God Allah because they see the difference and think calling our Trinitarian God Allah is profane. I don’t know what to think of the statements of the pope and fro Lumen Gentium. Would somebody tell me if Lumen Gentium is considered infallible?

  • Botolph,

    The good people I mentioned needed to resort to arms. I am advocating no such thing at the moment. Islam is waging a stealth war against a weak and wimpy West.
    All that is needed for success in opposing Islam is for the West to grow a backbone – that and the USA being energy self sufficient.

  • Anzlyne,

    Lumen Gentium, [Light of the Nations] has as its ‘title’, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. At the end of the document an appendage was added to assist people in understanding both its content an level of authority. It states:
    “Taking into account conciliar custom and the pastoral aim of the present Council, this holy synod defines as binding on the Church only those matters of faith and morals which it openly declares to be such.”

    Vatican II and Lumen Gentium define no new dogma. That was not the purpose of the Council. The Council was not assembled to define some dogma against misunderstandings or vicious heresy. It was called as a “Pastoral Council”. Now some would hear that and say, “so it means nothing, or next to nothing”, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Council in general was a reorientation of the Church’s self-understanding from Tradition toward mission, the mission of word [kerygma], Liturgy [eucharistia] and service [diakonia]

    Blessed John Paul, in one of his catecheses at the Angelus said this “It is the great merit of Lumen Gentium to have forcefully reminded us that if we want to have a satisfactory understanding of the Church’s identity without neglecting the institutional aspects, it is necessary to begin with her Mystery. The Church is a mystery because she is grafted on to Christ and rooted in the Trinitiarian life. Jesus, the Word, is the Light that shines out visibly from the Church. He has brought ancient Israel’s expectations to fulfillment, inaugurating the arrival of God’s Kingdom. Thus He has gathered all the nations into a new People of God, uniting them to Himself as His Body and His Bride, in the power of the Holy Spirit. A sublime mystery, which binds the baptized together and spurs them to continual conversion, to the very heights of holiness. So this is the Church: a People journeying through history, its gaze fixed on the goal of Christ’s Second Coming.

    This conciliar vision of the Church, faithful to the Word of God, and to the most ancient tradition, was meant to give the Christian community a new pulse of vitality, a renewed spirit of communion and participation

    Pope Benedict, while still Cardinal stated in a symposium on Vatican II in 2000
    “Right now, I want to state my basic thesis: the Second Vatican Council clearly wanted to speak of the Church within the discourse on God, to subordinate the discourse on the Church to the discourse on God and to offer an ecclesiology that would be theo-logical in the true sense….As the rule of Saint Benedict states, “Let nothing be placed before the work of God [opus Dei], the Divine Office. As the second text of the Council, the Constitution on the Church should be seen as inwardly connected with the text on the Liturgy. The CHurch is guided by prayer, by the mission of glorifying God. By its nature ecclesiology is connected with the Liturgy. It is therefore logical that the third Constitution should speak of the Word of God that convokes the Church and renews her in every age. The fourth Constitution shows how the glorification of God is realized in the active life, since the light received from God is carried into the world and only in this way becomes fully the glorification of God…..”

    Anzlyne, I hope this helped. As to the actual statement concerning Islam in Lumen Gentium there are two core aspects, IMHO, to what the Council is saying. Relying on Sacred Tradition but most especially Vatican I, with its wonderful teaching on the ability of the human intellect rising to the knowledge of the truth of One God, the Creator, it is saying that we do share this: we both worship the One God, the Creator. Because of this we have a ‘relationship’ with Islam. That’s basically all it says. The rest is an attempt to place Islam in as positive light as possible-for example the statement about reverencing Jesus and Mary. In no way does the Council say that this is sufficient etc for the salvation of Moslems etc. While mentioning their claim to acknowledge the God and faith of Abraham, that is all it says: it is their claim. Of course there is that aspect of Islam that we cannot just overlook. However many peoples were descended from Abraham, such as the Midianites, or related to Abraham: the Ammonites and Moabites (through Lot and his daughters) but that basically got them nowhere. John the Baptist and Jesus Himself claim that physical descent is not enough for salvation, nor is circumcision, etc.

    Bottom line, the teaching in Lumen gentium concerning Islam is, as part of Lumen gentium authoritative but not an infallible teaching. It is attempting to show the ‘fragile’ relationship between Islam and the Church of Jesus Christ which subsists in the Catholic Church. That relationship is primarily the knowledge of and worship of the One God, the Creator
    Hope this has helped

  • Penguins Fan,

    Ahhh you are speaking about what America/the West needs to do. That backbone of which you speak is what we commonly refer to as Judaeo-Christianity. The West, as the West is built on the synthesis of Judaeo-Christianity and Graeco-Roman culture. The West cannot and does not exist without both foundations. However, the West since the late 60’s has taken up the radical Enlightenment’s mantra attempting to extirpate every last vestige of Judaeo-Christiantity from the Public Square and relegate us back into the ‘catacombs’ of ‘the private life’, reconstructing a ‘city’ without God [think of the last Democratic Convention: the shocking debate about the deletion of two words: "God" and "Jerusalem". Although originally from different contexts, that was no accidental coincidence]. The ‘elites’ building this new city might as well give the ‘keys of the city’ to the Islamicists, because they do believe in something, the builders/the elite believe in nothing.

    Given the direction of the mainline Protestant churches and denominations, the Catholic Church and Evangelicals and orthodox and conservative Jews, are the ones maintaining this Judaeo-Christian sythesis. However, we are under tremendous pressure to ‘give in’ and ‘to bow before the golden statue’ of the hegemony of the progressive nanny state.

  • This is a fantastic discussion! I clearly see that the god of Islam is analogus to the Christian God in that Islam is monotheistic, Muslims believe their god is the creator & sustainer of all things, & they claim Abraham as their father–but it seems the relationship ends there.

    Judaism has the same analogous relationship with Christianity in that the God of Abraham is also the creator & sustainer of all things, Judaism claims a monotheistic God, & Judaism claims the God of Abraham as their God.

    Both Judaism & Islam fail to recognize Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God-although both religions acknowledge Jesus in another manner.

    I have recently had an IN DEPTH discussion, with someone who professes to be a Christian, who does not recognize the Trinitarian God of the Bible as being 3 Persons in One. She claims vehemently that I believe in polytheism ( which of course is preposterous!) However, my point is that Muslims may view the Christian as being polytheistic & as worshipping 3 gods instead of one. Thinking that Christians are polytheistic would result in Muslims refusing to allow a Christian to call the Islamic god “Allah.”

    Please note: my reference to Judaism is strictly a referral to Orthodox Judaism. We have a Reform Temple here in my area where you are allowed you be a member as long as you do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God & have not been baptized in a Christian church. Otherwise, you can be an Atheist or hold any other beliefs & still be accepted into their membership.

  • I think Penguin’s Fan is rather close to the truth when he says that Islam is a seventh century heresy. Of course it depends exactly on how we define heresy.

  • Barbara Gordon,

    I would say that our relationship with the Jews is much much closer than that which we have with Islam. If I could use an analogy (recognizing that all analogies ultimately limp somewhat):
    The Church is the Bride of the Bridegroom. Israel is engaged to the One Who will be her Bridegroom, loves Him but has not experienced the fullness of His Love-she is not yet ready. Islam happens to know He exists but hardly knows Him.

  • Interestingly enough, the professing Christian who accused me of being a polytheist because of my acceptance of the Catholic Trinity was trying to claim that Catholics are worshipping 3 separate gods when we name the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit (vs the false polytheism that anzlyne referenced above that includes Mary as part of the Trinity.) My accuser, who is writing a book about this topic, at one point argued that our Christian God is eternally the same & therefore because in the natural world, 1 + 1+ 1= 3, that the Trinity is equivalent to 3 separate gods. I shared with her that spiritual reality & natural reality are not equivalent in all senses–that spiritually, if God says that 3 persons are 1, then 3 persons are 1 whether it makes physical sense to us or not. My line of argument seemed to infuriate her further as she claimed that polytheists like myself ( her words) always start spiritualizing things when we cannot explain them. Thankfully, my undergraduate degree is in mathematics, & I was required to take 2 semesters of Abstract Algebra before graduating. I shared with her that, by using various definitions and number systems, that it is indeed possible to use logic to show that 1+ 1 does not equal 2. Therefore based upon the given number system & definitions that it could be possible to show that 1+ 1+ 1 = 1 in the natural world in which we live. My accuser promptly took up another line of reasoning. Lol Unfortunately the liberals who author our public school text books have written into them the 5 pillars of Islam & detailed explanations about Muhammad. That means that most of the children in my state will graduate knowing more about the fundamentals of Islam than those students know about Christianity which is briefly mentioned in the same texts. It is those students about whom I was concerned when I asked above if Pope Francis had truly said that Christians & Muslims worship the same God. I am very concerned that many professing Christians do not even understand the basic Gospel of the death, burial, & resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some of them are sure to be confused by such statements re: Islam from the religious hierarchy.

    Thank you all for this information. I have 2 ordained Protestant ministers in the family with whom I am going to share all of it! One of them writes the youth Sunday School literature for an entire Protestant denomination. :-D

  • God is Love and the three Persons in the Trinity love. God is existence and God exists. God is Justice and the three Persons in God keep the Co-mandments. The Supreme Sovereign Being is three Persons in One God, the Trinity of Persons in One Supreme Sovereign Being.

  • That God is triune makes perfect sense. I could not imagine God if he were not a dynamic, triune being. How can a static and lifeless god be eternal and creative, for example? The doctrine of the Trinity is quite believable, though not altogether comprehensible.

  • “The doctrine of the Trinity is quite believable,” God is love, therefore, God needs someone to love. God the Father’s love for His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Holy Spirit, infinite love. God’s love becomes another Person WHO proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    ” though not altogether comprehensible.” The child on the beach had dug a hole in the sand and was running back and forth to the ocean, filling his hole with the water. St. Augustine came by and asked the child what he was doing. The child answered that he was putting the ocean into his hole. St. Augustine said that it is impossible. The angel in the form of a child said “That is how it is impossible for man to comprehend God.”

  • 1. Muslims “together with us adore the One, merciful God” (No. 252)

    What?!?!?
    Islam may be the only religion that does not teach the Golden Rule (Qur’an 48:29). It teaches violence and hatred against non-Muslims, specifically Jews and Christians (50:5).
    Qur’an 4:46, says Allah has cursed the Jews for their disbelief.
    Twenty-six Qur’an chapters cover jihad. All able-bodied believers must join the fight (Surah 2:216). The Quran orders Muslim murderers to “instill terror into the hearts of the unbeliever” and to “smite above their necks” (8:12).
    The test of faith is Allah is not found in good works, but in martyrdom while trying to murder unbelievers (47:4). Murdering unbelievers is the only way to salvation in Islam (4:47; 9:111).
    Murdering unbelievers is the means of obtaining forgiveness of sins for the mohammedan (4:96).
    The reward for murdering unbelievers is sexual delights with virgins and other carnal joys (38:51; 55:56; 55:76; 56:22). St. Alphonsus declared: “The Mohammedan Paradise is only fit for beasts; for filthy sensual pleasure is all the believer has to expect there.”
    Mohammedans are required to give aid and advance the murderers (8:74).
    Mohammedanism requires global conquest and domination (9:29).
    2. “The sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings” (No. 252)
    4. The Koran is opposed to all the fundamental Christian dogmas
    Mohammed managed to summarize in one teaching almost every doctrine that was condemned by the Church, with the exceptions of Monophysitism and Monotheletism. We worship the same God; they worship wrongly.
    Geert Wilders Berlin speech, excerpts:
    [T]he renowned Oxford historian J.M. Roberts wrote in 1985: “Although we carelessly speak of Islam as a ‘religion'; that word carries many overtones of the special history of western Europe. The Muslim is primarily a member of a community, the follower of a certain way, an adherent to a system of law, rather than someone holding particular theological views.” The Flemish Professor Urbain Vermeulen, the former president of the European Union of Arabists and Islamicists, too, points out that “Islam is primarily a legal system, a law,” rather than a religion. …
    These are not just statements by opponents of Islam. Islamic scholars say the same thing. … Abul Ala Maududi, the influential 20th century Pakistani Islamic thinker, wrote – I quote, emphasizing that these are not my words but those of a leading Islamic scholar – “Islam is not merely a religious creed [but] a revolutionary ideology and jihad refers to that revolutionary struggle … to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth, which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam.” …

  • I found a article about a book The Medjugorje Deception. Would like your opinion.
    Let me start by saying that I down to earth, was business man, professional and understand a bit of what it takes to run small enterprise, but never could even image what it takes and the politics behind running something like the Vatican which is the other side that most people want to turn a blind eye to it, simply put, they do not what to know because they believe that it is going to diminish their spiritual growth, to me is simply a matter of survival. No money no church, no Magisterium to keep me inform, no sacrament because there would be no priest, etc…. but the true, what it is the true, this is another question and that is why I am asking my question.

  • I know nothing about Medjugorje and questions about it are not germane to this thread in any case.

  • MPS, You write: “…This is why St Augustine says, “God has mercy on no man in vain. He calls the man on whom He has mercy in the way He knows will suit him, so that he will not refuse the call.”

    But does man’s Free Will allow him to resist efficacious grace or God’s call? The Calvinists following Augustine claim that Grace is irresistable.

  • Botolph: “I would not want anyone to describe the Catholic Faith by pointing out the sins of Catholics. ” Nor do I, but while we see multiple wives and slavery as sin, the Muslims don’t. Or at least a lot of them do not. We have a Magisterium we can point to and say “this thing is Catholic” and “that thing is not Catholic.” Even Planned Parenthood knows that the Church doesn’t approve of birth control and abortion.
    .
    I am given to understand that in Islam there is no Magisterium; if true, then one comes into the situation such as exists in Protestantism–one denomination can say homosexual behavior is wrong (Evangelicals), and then the Episcopalians can ordain Gene Robinson to the rank of bishop (yes, I know Episcopal and Anglican “Holy Orders” are void.) Since the Muslims can’t totally figure out what they believe, how can the Vatican say for certain “they adore and worship the one God”?

  • I saw this article some weeks back on First Things concerning the Christian Origins of Islam. It is interesting.

    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2012/12/the-christian-origins-of-islam

  • DJ Hesselius, Protestantism is merely a vague term. No magisterium is needed because each church decides its own doctrine. Evangelical Protestants and denominations reflecting protestant evanglicalism believe the Bible is inspired, so that they follow its beliefs. Other Protestant groups may not believe in divine inspiration or may not believe we are obligated to follow the Bible. They decide that within their denomination. The Episcopal Church in America did that, and of course we know Gene Robinson was elected, as was the presiding bishop Schori who condones homosexual practice.

  • D J Hesselius,

    First let me say, in reference to the link from First Things and the Christian origins of Islam, Dante knew his ‘stuff’ when showing Mohammed as one who divided Christianity and not the founder of a new religion. Saint John of Damascus [Damascene] writing from Islamic Damascus only a century after the rise of Islam, stated that Mohammedism is a Christian heresy. BTW I find it fascinating that Islam rose just as Arianism was disappearing. Coincidence? As a further example I had a fascinating conversation with a very friendly and knowledgible Moslem lay person. First thing out of his mouth was that there are only two ‘realities’ the created and the Uncreated. God (He said “Allah” is uncreated-everything else is created. That’s almost a word for word quote from Arius-who was attempting to conform the Catholic Faith to Greek Philosophical categories

    Now in regards to your post/response: it is true that Islam allows/encourages polygamy. They have some very tough laws concerning adultery, stealing etc—–very Middle Eastern. In no way am I excusing any of this, or offering an apologia for Islam in any of its forms. If you read my original post in this series you will see that I am completely in agreement with Father Samir. I have his book on Islam. I keep it close by when discussing Islam. He knows his stuff.

    You are correct that Islam as a whole does not have a Magisterium. No world religion does. Certainly other Christians do not even accept our Magisterium. Only Catholics recognize the “trinity” of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and Magisterium [Pope and bishops].

    There are is a major division between Sunni and Shiite Moslems however. I have seen it explained in this way. What would have happened if the Protestant Reformation took place right after Jesus Christ ‘died”? This is what happened in Islam. A huge portion was swept up in the Sunni movement which had each local iman and mosque as its own center of faith. Each iman can interpret the Quran as he thinks best. etc On the other hand the Shiites, who gathered around the ‘martyred’ [by the other side] son-in-law have an organized religious institution. They have both “overseers”: ayatollahs and imans. The Sunnis look to a Caliph to run things for them, while the Sunni look to their ayatollahs.

    As to your comment that we don’t know what the Moslems believe because there is no magisterium, I do not agree. The one thing we do know: they believe that Allah exists, He is One, and that He is the Creator-and that Mohammed is His prophet. The word “Allah” is related to El/Elohim in Semitic languages. El/Elohim is the ‘original Name” for the Creator in the Old Testament. He is the God of the Patriarchs. In our Scriptures, when “El” or “Elohim” is used we say, “God” or “the Almighty”. “The Almighty” actually comes from “El Shaddai” which literally means “God of the Mountain”. In the Exodus, Israel came to realize that the God [El/Elohim} of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob is “The Lord” [Adonai-YHWH] Now in and through Christ we have come to recognize “the Name” as “the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” and confess in our Creed that we believe in One God Who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit [One God in Three Divine Persons]

    Moslems know the One God, the Creator Whom we worship, but do not have His Self-revelation in event and word in the history of Israel as “the Lord”, and certainly do not know, and in fact deny His Full Revelation in and through Jesus Christ, the Son Who reveals Father, Son and Spirit, in and through His Incarnation, His Life, Ministry, words but most especially in and through His Paschal Mystery.

  • “Since the Muslims can’t totally figure out what they believe, how can the Vatican say for certain “they adore and worship the one God”?
    Excellent insight.

  • It was obviously an error to say they (Muslims) worship the same God as Christians. Then again, perhaps it is an example of purposeful obfiscation for the purpose of ecumenical dialogue or conciliatory relations.

  • “Peace is best achieved with Islam by defeating it.”
    Unfortunately that seems to be very true today.

    But things used to be very different.
    I know that, being myself a Lebanese Christian, before the emergence of fundamentalist Islam in the latter part of the 20th century, Muslims and Christians had alot in common when referring to God in every day interactions. For example there is various sayings in Arabic common to both- translated into English-
    – “God have mercy” “Allah yerham” (when a family member died)
    – “Gods-will be done”- “3aniyet Allah” (when referring to planning of ones day)
    – “God forgive me” (when one is in error)
    – “smallah” from “Essem Allah” meaning “In the name of God”- a blessing.
    – “Goodbye” is actually “Allah ma3koun”. To both Christians and Muslims.

    Infact, moderate Muslims and Christians still talk in this manner to each other in everyday conversation. My parents Muslims friends do anyway.

    “Allah” is in fact the Arabic word for God to both Christians and Muslims. I say Allah when talking Arabic to my family. I am a Catholic Arab.

    But other expressions that a Christian would NOT say around a Muslim would be “in the name of the cross” “esmes Salib” (very common in conversations), and “Christ is with you” “el Masih Ma3koon”. You definitely don’t say these to a Muslim! A good one, wouldn’t care, but the strict ones would take offense.

    Anyway, from one perspective, I get what Fr Samir is saying. But before Islamic Fundamentalism, God was God to both. He is understood to be the same Creator, to the everyday person of both religions. He just is God!

  • Slainté asks, “does man’s Free Will allow him to resist efficacious grace or God’s call?”

    Of course, just as free will allows a doting mother, if she chooses, to watch her toddler drown in a paddling pool, without going to its aid. Free will consists in doing what we choose to do. Grace does not, and has no need, to interfere with our power of choice; rather, it affects what we want to do – In other words, it is the delectatio coelestis victrix of St Augustine.

  • As far as human free will goes, Islam does not recognize it beyond doing Allah’s will or not. There is a very strong predestination streak in Islam. In a sense, all Muslims are “slaves of Allah”

    Also, Allah may be the Creator, but it is a different Creator than the Christian God. In Christianity God does not commit evil. In Islam a God who refrains from evil cannot be God, since God cannot be self-limiting. Allah MUST be capable of evil, and MUST be capable of doing two diametrically opposite things at the same time, or he would not be God.

  • thanks Botolph – ah yes I remember I did know that – swiss cheese brain sometimes
    I appreciate all the great input on this post- good for us to air our ideas and concerns and share information. Thankfully on TAC there are so many erudite teachers. I especially like learning (and teaching) by asking questions – thanks everyone

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