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Reply to Iftekhar Hai: I'm not sure we other Abrahamites can help.

Reader comment on item: The Vatican Confronts Islam

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (United States), Jul 6, 2006 at 21:40

Speaking as a Christian, I do not think that we Christians can be of any help towads an extra-judicial reading of the Qu'ran--even though Iftekhar Hai sounds like a reasonable person who would probably make a good neighbor. He seems a man of good will, so I will be open and honest.

The biggest service we Christians can do for the Muslims is to show that Jesus the Messiah is the way, truth, and life rather than a club to be held over anyone's head. Our foundational texts of the Old and New Testaments have often been used to testify against us when we have launched crusades rather than humble and obedient witness to truth (which, alas, is often). The question that disturbs us greatly is not whether or not it is possible to live in proximity to Muslims (moot: we can and do); but whether the Qu'ran and Hadith can truly be dissociated from a propensity towards violence--and the jihad of the sword is very much in evidence today (especially if you are a non-Western Christian in a place like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, or the Arabian Peninsula).

Further, can we interpret the Qu'ran as anything more than a certain amount of biblical lore mixed with a good deal of error--even in the way its biblical lore is used? The Qu'ran tells us that Jesus did not die on the cross; but we read both Old and New Testaments as saying that Jesus is the suffering servant of the LORD whose death on the cross is the atonement that seals our pardon before God. The Qu'ran charges us of making a trinity of God, Jesus, and Mary; but we have confessed from the outset that we believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Qu'ran tells us that the Jews confess Ezra ('Uzair) the son of God as we confess Jesus; yet any Christian who has ever had any exposure to what traditional Judaism actually teaches should be shocked to read such a thing, since it is palpably untrue. Hence, we Evangelical Christians at least cannot help seeing mistakes and misrepresentations in a book that somehow claims to be the last word from God , who is truth.

As for Maimonides, he, like Thomas Aquinas in Christendom, argued that revelation and reason ultimately reconcile--against Ibn Rushd's positing a two-storey version of truth, with religion governed by revelation and all else by reason. Further, Maimonides was himself a refugee from Muslim perscution in the Spain of the Almohads (the more tolerant Ummayad era was gone in his day); and may even have been a forced convert to Isalm who reverted to Judaism once he landed in Egypt.

Again, the people doing da'wa in our midst tell us that the Old and New Testaments are corrupted. Yet they cannot tell us how Christians of various sects argue over the same twenty-seven New Testament books; or why we wrangle with the Jews over the same thirty-nine books of the Old Testament (and we do not charge the Jews with falsifying the text).

The New Testament tells us that the weapons of our warfare a spiritual rather than carnal. Hence, our Christian fundamentalism risks hypocrisy (perhaps losing its own soul as well) if it decides to answer bombing with bombing, suicide attack with suicide attack, and a slurry of calumnies with more false witness (I plead the Ninth Commandment!). Yet we have our obligation to bear witness to the truth, not compromise it. To any Muslims who are bothered by what is being done in the name of their religion, all this Christian can say is, "We are here; and our churches are open and public. Please refrain from donating or taking communion until after you've joined."

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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