The 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.

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