Palestine, The Pope & Honesty on Islam

We are, sadly, watching the latest round of aggression in the Middle East currently as Israel and Palestine exchange rockets night after night.

I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and the ease with which those in charge seem to fall into such destruction. Of course the roots of the conflict are as old as historical record can recall. However, here in the UK, the BBC take an overtly pro-Palestinian position which I find disturbing. Part of the reasoning appears to be that Israel has better weapons so it is unfair for them to retaliate when Hamas fire rockets at civilian targets in Israel. I wonder if France was bombing London they would be suggesting we only respond with little guns so we don't kill the aggressors too much? I don't suppose many of those commenting can imagine living in a place where your civilisation is surrounded by enemies determined to exterminate you completely. But when you think about it, they really should, following 9/11 and the War on Terror, we should really have a firm idea about the ideology which drives some people to such extremes of hatred.

These attitudes are fully on display in the UK right now:

This is a side of Islam which a lot of people seem utterly determined to ignore. Instead, Islam is portrayed as benign, peace loving, etc. In films like Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, the Muslims are portrayed as the civilised arbiters of justice, mercy and peace: a stark contrast to the brutish Christians who are stupid extremists bent on destruction. Practically a complete reversal of reality. And yet this is the way these ideas seep into the public psyche and become fact.

Pope Francis seems completely unaware of this. He has presented a very positive image of Islam from the outset of his papacy. For a good example, look at the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, where §253 states:

“In order to sustain dialogue with Islam, suitable training is essential for all involved, not only so that they can be solidly and joyfully grounded in their own identity, but so that they can also acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs. We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”

“the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” 

Has he read it????

Samuel Gregg notes in the National Review that Pope Francis’s fellow Jesuit Samir Khalil Samir (who is no knee-jerk anti-Muslim), writes in his 111 Questions on Islam (2002), Westerners who assert that groups like the Taliban are acting in a manner contrary to the spirit of Islam “usually know little about Islam.” In the Egyptian-born Jesuit’s view, 
“On the sociohistorical level, from the Qur’an onward, the ordinary meaning of jihad is unequivocal. [It] indicates the Muslim war in the name of God to defend Islam.” 
Later in the same book, Father Samir underscores that, alongside one tradition in Islam of somewhat limited tolerance towards Jews and Christians (polytheists and atheists aren’t extended the same consideration), there is an equally valid tradition that “prefers the verses” in the Koran and the sunna “that encourage violence.” Both, the Beirut-resident priest adds, are legitimate Muslim readings of Islam’s view of violence. Ergo, we — and Islam — have a problem.

The Pope seems to be trying to sell us some snake oil here. As with much of his thought, he appears to follow the majority leftist secular narrative that Western civilisation and culture — the culture built by Christianity — is somehow a bad thing. Western fear of Islam must be de-fanged with a narrative that portrays Muslims as purely peaceful.

This hatred for the West is what is currently tearing our society apart. We don't teach our achievements or history focusing on only our demons. Meanwhile, in the East, China & Russia's authoritarian culture and regimes grow with a unified strategy and social agenda.

If we want to have a hope of competing, we need to start by imbuing our youth with a sense of pride in our culture and what it has achieved. I don't think professors and intellectuals understand the real damage they are doing when they attack Christian belief and principles, national pride and the history of the West offering nothing to replace it.
As with much of the Pope's rhetoric, we have to be honest and say he is either disingenuous, ignorant or misinformed. Looking at evidence like his endorsement of human flourishing — whatever that is —you really could be forgiven for thinking he is trying to push the indifferentist agenda: we're all on the same faith journey. This may seem attractive on a simplistic level, but if God IS the God of eternal truth, He cannot be indifferent as to whether His people believe this particular creed or some other creed that contradicts it. Saying He does not care what we believe is like saying He doesn't care whether we believe what is true or what is false. 

If we are indifferent to Islam, are we, on some level, saying they are not worthy of the truth? Either we must be or we just don't believe enough in the truth!

I would encourage you to watch this video from Matt Fradd and David Wood which covers a lot of these issues (albeit not in the context of the papacy, but about whether we can accept Islam as a true religion and whether we should seek to evangelise our Muslim brothers and sisters) in some valuable depth.

The basic concept for me is best explained by thinking about what countries in the world you would want to live and bring up your family. Are they countries built on Islam (Saudi, Pakistan, etc) or countries built on Christianity? Don't we owe it to our Muslim brothers and sisters to help them to truth?


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