Manful try, Dr. Pipes
Reader comment on item: The Middle East Forum Debates Moderate Islam
Submitted by Kepha Hor (United States), Apr 8, 2014 at 17:56
Dr. Pipes, you argued manfully, but I think Raymond Ibrahim wins the debate--and I am very unhappy to say this.
As a Bible-oriented Christian myself, I agree with many others here who say that the Scriptures of various traditions can't be changed, and that someone will always come along to read them in a serious manner.
Mr. Ibrahim is a Copt, and knows what it is like to be a Dhimmi. I don't think this disqualifies him from speaking about Islam; but it does give him a perspective that a lot of the rest of us should heed (I'd say this of Mizrahi Jews as well).
Your choice of homosexuality as an example of how "religions change" is ill-advised. I, for one, will firmly believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, no matter how many donkeys in black robes with gavels in their strangely mutated front hooves say that two men or two women in a rare and unstable relationship are married. The Mainstream ex-Protestant churches, Unitarianism, and Reform Judaism are dwindling because their relativizing the Scriptures gives them no reason to tell anyone why he should become or remain a believer in their anti-tradition tradition. Vickie Gene Robinson is an example: his Episcopalian Church, now controlled by his doctrinal allies, is in quick decline, with schisms, hemorrhaging membership, plummeting giving, and is now highly dependent on litigation to keep dissident congregations from keeping church property. Where there is growth in denominations, it is almost always among groups that are more protective of their traditions.
In Christianity, we have New Testament teaching that calls on us to maintain peace with all men as much as it is up to us (Romans 12:18). This may be why we have a very carefully worked out doctrine of just war (that does not cover every conflict into which confessing Christian leaders get us) and are tempted by pacifism. The New Testament (to say nothing of the experience of exile which we inherited in the Old Testament--Jewish roots acknowledged) is the artifact of a community that did not wieid political power, and spread for more than a century through preaching rather than conquest. Hence, the political and social teaching of Christianity will differ radically from those of Islam, in which Muhammad was prophet, Caesar, lawgiver, and warlord rolled into one (and this is reflected in the Qur'anic passages which Mr. Ibrahim alluded to).
For these reasons, we Christians remain very cautious about resorting to political and social violence (although we can be pushed into it). It is not always the case that we are "cowardly" (as Muslims and some secularists accuse) and afraid we will lose, but because we also have to consider whether such a course of action would be pleasing to our God, who became man and spilled his blood in atonement for our sins that we might repent rather than perish.
And I would be very cautious about trying to police the Muslim's conscience from outside. I know I feel very resentful against the out-of-context and misunderstood quotes arrogant secular Leftists who haven't darkened a church door since they were pre-teens miht throw out in criticism of Christians; my guess is that when some arrogant liberal judge tells people like Joker Tsarnaev that they're not "real Muslims" or have "hijacked Islam", there are many Muslims--and not just the ones eager for jihad--who also feel offended.
Maybe Islam can become more peaceable through some inner movement of Muslims. This is something I am in no position to guess. For the meantime, my idea of a "Muslim Reformation" is the mass conversion of Muslims to the Messiah I find in the Old and New Testaments.
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