Islam and the Pope

Eric Twist posts a thought-provoking article on Islam and the Pope’s statements. [HT: Pontifications]

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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6 Responses to Islam and the Pope

  1. Q says:

    The text quoted by Pope Benedict is simply indefensible. No one, the Pope included, ought to defend the proposition that Islam is only evil and inhuman. This speech has closed the door to Pope Benedict playing a constructive role in the struggle against Islamic terrorism.

  2. Al says:

    The Pope has no intention whatsoever of defending such a tendentious claim. He has made this very clear. However, I think that it is important that we pay heed to such historical claims. Even if they represent something less than the complete truth, they seem to be making points that we are inclined to forget, in our concern to turn a blind eye to those aspects of history that might prove politically unhelpful. We should not deny the great and numerous injustices perpetrated by Islam throughout its history in order to smooth over relationship with Islam. It is high time that we had an open and public conversation about this.

    Muslims have not been reluctant to accuse Christians of many sins in the past. Men like Pope Benedict’s predecessor have made official declarations on the subject, speaking truthfully about the wrong that has been done in the name of Christ. It is now the turn of Islam. We should not hush up the voices of our Christian forefathers who suffered greatly at the hands of violent Islam. The Islamic world simply has not had the sort of genuine soul-searching about its historical crimes as the Christian world has.

    Whilst it would be convenient if moderate Islam were the true voice of that faith, we have to recognize that violently expansive, aggressive and culturally bankrupt Islam is not some recent historical anomaly. Sometimes we just have to admit that the truth is inconvenient and politically incorrect.

  3. Q says:

    I understand that much violence and evil have been perpetrated in the name of Islam (as in the name of Christianity, or in the name of God). It is my heartfelt conviction that Islam desperately needs to reform.

    But Pope Benedict ought not to have quoted this particular text. It isn’t just “inconvenient” or “politically incorrect”. It is gratuitiously offensive; it feeds the impression among Muslims that this is a struggle for religious supremacy (Christianity vs. Islam); it strengthens support for radical Muslims; and it destroys any chance Pope Benedict has of being “heard” by a Muslim audience.

    The historical context in which the saying was originally uttered is irrelevant.

  4. Al says:

    I agree that the use of the particular historical quote was deeply regrettable. My point was that we should be extremely careful about censoring such historical voices, even when the positions that they express are politically incorrect. Those who suffered at the hands of militant Islam need to have their voices heard. Their voices have often been silenced in order not to damage fragile relationships with Islam. I am not convinced that this is the best way to proceed and am encouraged that Pope Benedict is not unwilling to bring the grievances of Christians of previous ages to the discussion table.

    All of that said, the Pope should have known better. From the lips of a Roman Catholic theologian such a quotation would not have been such a big issue. However, the Pope is a public figure and not just a theologian within the Church. He has to be especially careful to avoid producing reactions like this.

  5. Byron says:

    Ben Witherington has recently included an interesting post with a slightly different angle here. Thanks for your reference.

  6. Ubaier says:

    Luke 19:27 “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay [them] before me. “

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