Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Do I Respect Islam?
09/20/2006 - James WhiteThe Pope is making sure everyone knows he deeply respects Islam. Of course, his theology sort of demands such statements, since Rome teaches in her official documents that we "adore" the same God. Of course, I reject that statement outright. I do not adore the same God with those who reject the Incarnation, reject the cross, reject the resurrection, reject the Trinity. This is one of the great errors of modern Roman Catholicism. I no more adore and worship the same God that Muslims adore than I do any religion that defines itself first and foremost as a denial of the heart of my faith. This was a point I made when I spoke in California last month. When Surah 112, key to the self-definition of the pure definition of God in Islamic theology, includes as a full third of its words, "He begetteth not nor was begotten," in direct denial of Christian theology, how can I "respect" the denial of my faith? I believe we should be clearly explaining to anyone who will listen to us today: the demand on the part of Western culture that we give to every religious viewpoint equal respect is by nature a demand that we deny the Christian faith in the process. We say God has testified to the Son in the resurrection, and that the only way of approach to the Father is by the Son. To demand that I "respect" equally the denial of the uniqueness of Christ is an implicit demand that I abandon my faith.
The irony is that most Muslims already know this. Many have far more respect for a Christian who refuses to compromise than they do for those who try to appease them. They know there is no peaceful co-existence between two directly contradictory truth claims. And God does not function on the thesis/antithesis/synthesis model, either.
Now, please keep this in mind: we must respect the truth by accurately representing, to the best of our abilities, the views of those with whom we disagree. I seek to portray truthfully the views of Muslims, Mormons, Roman Catholics, etc., because of my commitment to truth as it is embodied in Christ, not because of some post-modern, feel-good "respect" for false religions. I see little evidence that the Old Testament prophets "respected" Baal or Molech, let alone the religions that prompted their worship.
So I would not join the Pope in saying "I respect Islam." That is a far cry from saying I do not respect certain Muslims, and, equally far from saying I cannot or will not treat a Muslim with respect. Sadly, people muddle these categories. Modern shallow thinkers assume that if you wish to show respect for a Muslim you must respect Islam. That is untrue. A Muslim is made in the image of God, and though he follows a false religion, he is still due respect due to the fact that he bears the image of God. Of course, some men are worthy of more respect than others. The wild-eyed terrorist who knows nothing but the hope of seventy virgins in heaven but who cannot give evidence of the slightest knowledge of the views of others does not deserve respect. The reasoned Muslim who seeks to portray accurately my beliefs and engage them in dialogue and debate is another case altogether. And of course, there is an entire spectrum between these two extremes.
The Amazing and Utterly Irrational Islamic Response to Benedict XVI
09/15/2006 - James WhiteIn an amazing display of utter hypocrisy leaders in the Islamic world are demanding an apology from Pope Benedict XVI. What did the Pontiff do? He dared read a quotation from a conversation that took place in the fourteenth century. And what was the horridly offensive statement? He quoted, not as his own words, but accurately, the words of Emperor Manuel Paleologos II speaking to a Persian scholar on the conflict between Christianity and Islam. The words were, "Show me just what Muhammad 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." That's it! He dared quote such a statement! It was in the context of eschewing violence in matters of religion, I might add.
Now, consider the response to this simple citation of a historical source:
Pakistan's legislature unanimously condemned the Pope. (I wonder if a single one of them had a clue what he said, or the context in which it was said? Probably not).
According to this story, the deputy leader of the ruling Islamic party, "said Benedict's remarks were either 'the result of pitiful ignorance' about Islam and its prophet or, worse, a deliberate distortion." He said, "He has a dark mentality that comes from the darkness of the Middle Ages. He is a poor thing that has not benefited from the spirit of reform in the Christian world. It looks like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades. Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks, is going down in history for his words. He is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini."
Protests broke out in Gaza City, and a Hamas spokesman said the Pope had offended Muslims everywhere.
Now, of course, every single one of these people know that in Islamic countries Imams regularly preach death to the West and death to Christianity. They well know the hatred expressed toward Jews on a daily basis. So it simply is not possible for them to not realize the gross hypocrisy in pretending outrage over the Pope quoting a conversation that took place hundreds of years ago. The few who have even read the comments and noted the context are guilty of knowing hypocrisy. But they are the minority. You can bet without question that the vast majority of these folks have only heard either a completely a-contextual version, like, "The Pope said Mohammad (pbuh!) was evil and inhuman! Take up arms!" or worse, as in the "cartoon" saga a few months ago, they have been given a full-blown lie and some other outrageous "quotation."
Now, I do not want anyone to faint upon reading what I am about to say, but for the sake of all that is good and right and just, I hope Benedict XVI refuses to apologize. Clarify the statement? Fine. Provide the context? Great. But do not apologize for claiming the freedom to quote a historical source! I could quote dozens and dozens of Islamic writers whose words I find deeply offensive. Would I be given the right to demand apologies from the entire Islamic world? Surely not!
Finally, one of the most amazing statements in the above linked news article was this one: "Many Muslims accused Benedict of seeking to promote Judeo-Christian dominance over Islam." Anyone with the slightest idea of what militant Islam is all about knows it seeks the establishment of Islamic law throughout the world. That is what the current world situation is all about: the consistent application of Islamic beliefs to the political systems of all nations. See the writings of Sayyid Qutb, who greatly influenced Bin Laden, for examples of this on almost every page. So when I read this kind of complaint, my hypocrisy meter pegs and starts smoking. But will almost anyone in the West point out this hypocrisy? No, because our ability to think, and speak, clearly has been seriously compromised by political correctness. Yes, Islam seeks world domination, by force and death and destruction. And therein lies another major difference between us: Christianity boldly proclaims that it, in fact, will someday see Jesus Christ enthroned as the King of kings, and He will rule over all the earth. But how does He rule and reign today? He does so by changing hearts and minds, not through the barrel of an AK-47. Those who bow the knee to Christ today to do because their natures have been changed. It is a supernatural conversion, not a violent one.