John on September 16, 2006 at 10:45 am
A few days ago the pope spoke at a University on the subject of faith and reason (something dear to our hearts at this blog). In this lecture he quotes a 14th century emporer on why violence is an unreasonable approach to spread the message of God:
“Show me just what Mohammed 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”. The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God”, he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.
Again, the thrust of his comment was about the reasonableness of violence in God’s name. He then, in the next paragraph, explains why Christianity and Islam may see this differently:
The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise idolatry.
These comments have created a firestorm among Muslims. This, of course, does not suggest the comments are not true. In fact, there is plenty of evidence historically and in the wake of these comments that they are true.
For instance, apparently unable to grasp the concept of irony angry Muslims are now burning Christian churches in protest. Michelle Malkin notes two chruch burnings yesterday. She also notes this image (copied from Michelle’s site) which is circulating on jihadist websites. The text in Arabic calls for beheading the pope.
More violent reaction and mention of a bestselling Turkish novel called “Attack on the Pope” can be found in this post (also MM).
The jihadists — who pride themselves on how closely they follow the Koran — are doing a pretty good job of proving the Pope’s point. Not surprisingly, the NY Times has already called for a “deep and persuasive” apology. Will they call for the same from the church bombers and those calling for the pope’s beheading? Of course not.