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Powerful papal challenge
to Islam, secularism

[COMMENT:  I could never be a Roman Catholic because of disagreements I have with their form of church government, and some of their beliefs, but they consistently come up with some of the best apologetics, public statements, and theology.   This piece below is a good, if brief, example.  He is the first major Christian leader which I am aware of taking on Islam directly.  We MUST press these issues, raise a flag that people can gather around in the name of Judeo-Christian sanity. 

The Pope's address is a classic in Christian apologetics, and among the very best I have seen addressing the Islamic issue.  I have interlarded my commentary in the text of the address.  

Click for a piece on a threat of attack against the Pope

For Muslims who routinely threaten other religions with extinction to belly ache about the remarks of the Pope is the pinnacle of absurdity.  It shows their immaturity as adults, as persons capable of engaging in adult discourse, or rightfully participating in public policy decisions.  There is nothing slanderous in the Pope's remarks, nor even in the remarks of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, whom the Pope was quoting.  Constantinople, the Emperor's city, may have been under siege by those peaceful Muslims, but he was trying to engage the Muslims in honest debate.  His remarks were pointed, but they were very appropriate, and deserve an honest response from Muslims, not whining and belly aching and feeling sorry for themselves. 

They are infantile in their intellectual, moral, and spiritual maturity, walking around with adult bodies, which is a very dangerous situation.   They need to be continually confronted with these charges, and forced to face the public on these matters. 

European leaders have supported the Pope, but timidly, for the most part.  We must take the offensive -- which is quite different from "being offensive", i.e., rude, untruthful, or ungraceful.  We must take the offensive by forcing Muslims to respond to reason and grace, by illustrating both of those in our lives.  That means honest descriptions of their life style and behavior levels.  Westerners have pretty much lost that capacity, but God may be pushing the Muslims in our face to make us grow up as well. 

We should make it very clear that Muslims are welcome in our lands -- but only on the condition of accepting the terms of local law, and only if they accept the terms of honest dialogue about matters concerning our lives together. 

Muslims, and anyone else, should be admitted to immigration and/or citizenship in nations espousing honest freedom only on the condition that they publicly renounce all secret political or spiritual allegiance and loyalty, and renounce all loyalty to powers or authorities which contradict the principles of honest pluralism

If they refuse and continue in their present course, they should know that the proper authorities will indeed seek them out and apprehend or kill them.  That is the way God approaches the human race -- with grace and truth, but no quarter given to lies, dishonesty, rebellion, or subversion of truth.  Our battle is not with flesh and blood, it is with principalities and powers of darkness.  But if someone clings to his sin, he puts himself in the line of fire. 

But we can make that threat if and only if we ourselves are wedded to the notions of honest dialogue committed to truth, not to winning our case.  It is not at all clear that Western Civilization retains much of that commitment. 

Those conditions should be made absolutely non-negotiable -- beginning with ourselves.  Tough love.          E. Fox]


Powerful papal challenge to Islam, secularism
Sep. 12, 2006 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI issued direct challenges both to the Islamic world and to secular rationalism, in a powerful lecture delivered on September 12 at the University of Regensburg.

Speaking to an audience of scientists and scholars, at the university where he himself once taught theology, the Holy Father argued that Christianity welcomes intellectual inquiry and always reveres the truth. The academic world, he said, should not be bound by a fear of addressing in turn that question raised by faith.

The Pope opened his lecture by quoting a scholarly work of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, writing late in the 14th century, about the difference between the Christian and Islamic understanding of God. Tracing the emperor's argument on the use of force and the concept of "holy war," the Pope pointedly quoted from the Qu'ran (surah 2, 256): "There is no compulsion in religion."

Pope Benedict then quoted the emperor's challenge to his scholarly interlocutor:
Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

>From the Christian perspective, the Pontiff continued, any attempt to use religious faith as justification for violent attacks is impossible. "Violence is is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul," he said.

Attempting to convert someone by the use of violence is also an absurdity to Christians, the Pope continued, because the use of violence is an attempt to compel someone, rather than reason with him, and that approach is foreign to the God of the Bible. The Pope noted that "not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature."

In fact, the Christian conception of God is summarized by St. John, who refers to "the Word," using the Greek term logos. The Pope observed: "Logos means both reason and word-- a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason."

For centuries, theologians sought to follow reason in the study of God's Word, the Pope told his academic audience. In recent times there has been a reaction against that effort, and an effort to convert theology into a "scientific" endeavor, governed by the same rules as mathematics and the experimental sciences. The Pope continued with a critique of the modern project, insisting that faith and reason should not be viewed as opposing forces. The modern approach to theology also carries a serious risk, he said, because "any attempt to maintain theology's claim to be 'scientific' would end up reducing Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self."

Pope Benedict emphasized that he did not intend to suggest that all modern thought is misguided. "The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly," he said. But a constructive critique of modern secularism can surely be undertaken, he said, without worrying that the effort means "cutting insights of the modern age."

The fundamental challenge that the Pope issued to the modern academic world was simple and direct: Are scholars prepared to speak rationally about the intellectual claims posed by religious believers? He said: "A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures."


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See  the text of the Pope's address.  

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