Tuesday, September 12, 2006

B-16 on Muslim/Christian Theological Difference(s)

Well, there's only one outlined here, but it IS significant:

The Byzantine [Manuel II Paleologus] points out the surah which says, "There is no compulsion in religion" and asks the Persian to justify jihad in light of it. The Persian's [Muslim] response is that God is beyond everything and is not bound by anything:

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.

At this point, B-16 poses the question:

As far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?

Here's his thought:

I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the 'logos'". This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts with “logos.” “Logos” means both reason and word – a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the “logos,” and the “logos” is God, says the Evangelist.


From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act "with 'logos'" is contrary to God’s nature.

...the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as “logos” and, as “logos,” has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf.

God cannot act against His nature, the nature "Logos," (also identified by John as Christ.)

You may have to read this twice--or more. I certainly did.

HT: Amy


Fidei Defensor said...

It's good to see somone talking about the Byzantines. Europeans need only look at Constantinople/Istanbul and the Haggia Sophia (now a mosque) to see what their future may hold if they keep this demographic decline up.

Terrence Berres said...

With sufficient compulsion, will there be faith at all? At some point there might be only outward submission to threats and sanctions and no inward submission to the will of God.

Dad29 said...

There is no such thing as "compulsory faith."

That's why it's listed as a virtue.