Monday, September 12, 2016

Is Islam Peaceful?

From Crisis:
In the radio debate and in an article responding to his statement, Robert Spencer does a fine job of dismantling Swetland’s arguments. For one thing, says Spencer, affirmations about the nature of Islam should not be a matter of Catholic faith and morals. In other words, it’s a serious overreach to contend that the “wrong” opinion on the nature of Islam or on the advisability of mass Muslim immigration may constitute dissent from Church teaching. In saying that it does, Swetland has just created a whole new class of Catholic dissenters—one that probably numbers in the tens of millions. Spencer also observes that what previous popes had to say about Islam contradicts what current popes have said. Which Roman Pontiff must Catholics agree with: “Pope Francis, who declared that ‘authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence,’ or Pope Callixtus III, who in 1455 vowed to ‘exalt the true Faith, and to extirpate the diabolical sect of the reprobate and faithless Mahomet in the East’?”

The linchpin of Swetland’s case is Nostra Aetate’s brief statement about the “Moslems.” But as Spencer, and I, and others have pointed out, there are numerous problems with Nostra Aetate. One question that arises is whether Nostra Aetate was ever intended to be a dogmatic statement. That’s more of a question for Church historians to debate, but let’s just say for now that the question is debatable. What is less debatable is that the section of Nostra Aetate that deals with the “Moslems” is highly problematic, highly selective, and poorly thought out. For instance, the document states (I’m using Swetland’s translation) that Muslims “venerate Jesus,” but to anyone familiar with the Muslim Jesus, it’s not at all clear that it’s the same Jesus. For one thing, the Muslim Jesus makes his appearance in the Koran for no other purpose than to refute everything that Jesus of Nazareth says about himself. Nostra Aetate goes on to say that “they [Muslims] await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead.” What the document fails to say is that on the day of judgment, according to Islamic teaching, all non-Muslims will be cast into hell. As to the “reward of God”? Well, let’s just say that it’s not the same reward that Catholics await. Here’s a typical description from the Koran:

As for the righteous, they shall surely triumph. Theirs shall be gardens and vineyards, and high-bosomed maidens for companions (78: 31-34).

(Read more.)

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