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Attack on the Historical Catholic Church and Other Kinds of Ignorance in the Calls for a Reformation of Islam | Omnia Vincit Veritas

I disagree with the premise of this article. The author condemns the idea that there is a parallel between what is happening within the Muslim world today (a civil war between the Sunni and Shia sects being waged by fundamentalists on either side) and what Christianity experienced during the period following the Reformation. His argument is essentially doctrinal (Christian reformed churches did not challenge the dogma of Christianity) but he fails to look at what we Christians went through on a process level. 

What brought an end to the religious wars that followed the Reformation was not a doctrinal resolution between the sects. That much is true. But the means by which we reorganized our society and the role that the various denominations played within them was the key to achieving peace in Europe. This is the lesson that Christianity can bring to the Islamic world. We learned how to undo 'Christendom' (the belief that Church and State are indivisible) via the development of the concept of the separation of Church and State. The philosophic framework that accomplished this end is what Muslims need to study and apply to end their own civil war. We can help them learn to apply the lessons we learned to help them to reframe their understanding of 'Ummah', the Islamic conceptual equivalent of 'Christendom'.




Attack on the Historical Catholic Church and Other Kinds of Ignorance in the Calls for a Reformation of Islam | Omnia Vincit Veritas

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  1. The development of secular society (church - state separation) was at best partial in the West. In the US which perhaps most exemplified this separation through it's first amendment, the connection between church and state is the greatest in practical terms of all Western countries. Meanwhile in England which has an official religion, religion has a greatly diminished role in society in all practical matters.

    In my opinion what changed the West was greater access to education for all. Also we can look to the example of Ireland, a land that suffered from sectarian strife for generations. What caused the shift was not just political negotiations and decreasing religiosity but the education of the public that this agony does not have to go on if they choose not to give into sectarian divisions but oppose them.

    We need this attitude in the Islamic world, as well as our own.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pwld86XndSY

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    1. Michael: I didn't claim that we've perfected it. But at least we made the jump to accepting the necessity of living in a secular society to free ourselves from the constricts of religious control leading to sectarian violence. I am certain that if we were standing back in the 16th century we would have thought such a change virtually impossible - much as folks are saying about the Islamic civil war today. But we succeeded to the greater part in getting there. With our help, Muslim intellectuals can perhaps assist their faith to make a similar leap in consciousness more quickly than we did ourselves.

      Fr. Tim

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    2. Let's hope. And it can be quick. We see the solidarity of France and Germany over these latest attacks. Who could have imagined such 70 years ago.

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    4. Wow, Fr. Tim. You completely missed the premise and primary points of my article (the "civil war" between Sunni and Shia has nothing to do with the basic tenets of Islam shared by both, so your entire claim here is not even close to being on the mark), plus you set up a variety of straw men that mischaracterize much of what I wrote. Most unfortunate and unjust, but such a flawed understanding of Church history and Islam that you have set forth is just one more example of the naiveté that afflicts many apologists of the "religion of peace" as well as their fellow travelers who ignorantly believe Islam can be reformed.

      Islam cannot ever be reformed because of its very nature and structure that forbid it (hone in on and learn to accept this reality instead of dreaming it can be something else), and the Protestant Rebellion was not enlightened, plus it did not ultimately help to bring about peace as you wrongly proclaim. Instead, it fomented more wars and the ongoing cracks in Christianity is not an enlightened result, especially in light of our Lord's desire "that they all may be one." He did not come to this earth to set up Christianity with a variety of "satellite churches," but He did come to establish His One True Church as all faithful Catholics understand and apply to wise ecumenical efforts to try to bring about reunion instead of false diversity.

      DB (Omnia Vincit Veritas)

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    5. DB: I am not saying that the Reformed churches brought peace. The years after the Reformation were filled with wars. It was in the settlement of those religious wars that the societal construct which we call the separation of church and state came into force, effectively ending the paradgym of Christendom. Now the Muslim world is engaged in a civil war to which they can see no end because they cannot see past their understanding of the concept of Ummah - an Islamic equivalent to the 16th century understanding of Christendom. So my point is that if we can help Islamic scholars and theologians to discover how to make a similar journey in changing their comprehension of the requirements of seeing faith and politics as one, they might be able to settle their differences quicker than we did. I am not under any illusions about Islam being a religion of peace or that we can all sing Kumbaya around the campfire together. It is going to be a very difficult and tough slog to get them to where we are now. But if we could do it, so can they.

      BTW, you should brush up on the documents of Vatican II before spouting off about your ecumenical proposition. We share quite a bit in common with churches that profess Christ as Lord and savior, believe that baptism is necessary for salvationm and that the bible is the inspired word of God, This was made quite clear by the council Fathers. The documents on religious freedom and ecumenism would be a good place to start, as would the document on our relationship to our Jewish elder siblings in faith.

      Fr. Tim

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    6. Well said Fr. Tim. If one contrasts Christianity of a few hundred years ago with Christianity of today there is a remarkable difference. It has changed, it has reformed, it has developed. And this is within the Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox traditions. As an example I would have suffered a terrible fate a few hundred years ago for expressing my non-belief in Christian Europe. Similarly until recently gays were routinely killed for their actions. Both of those actions still elicit a strong reaction in some Muslim countries but the people are changing, especially when exposed to Western tolerance.

      Can Islam be reformed. I think so. I know many moderate, tolerant, peaceful Muslims. Was Mohamed an ideal role model? No, but neither were many prophets people admire and follow today. Is the Koran a book with abhorrent teachings in it? Yes, but they can learn to ignore them just as followers of the Judeo-Christian tradition have learned to ignore their abhorrent parts of their scriptures.

      In 2010 in Toronto when Rob Ford ran against George Smitherman for mayor a number of Smitherman signs where defaced with anti-gay slurs (Smitherman was openly gay). A Muslim shop keeper whose store was next to the defaced signs was interviewed on the radio. He said while he didn't approve of homosexual actions he was appalled that someone would deface the signs. He said it seemed so "unCanadian". That gave me great hope for the ability of Muslims to fit into our Western values of tolerance and peaceful co-existence.

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  2. @DB. I read the article. I'd say, by throwing in the kind of snide remarks against the current US president Obama the 'affordable healthcare act" and the like in the last paragraph, the author completely invalidates whatever else she/he might have to say about Islam.

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    1. Brilliant observation, Anonymous. Stunning scholarship on your part to dismiss information about X because you are offended by sarcasm regarding Y. That's the way to ignore the truth because of offended sensibilities. :-)

      DB

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    2. No, but it puts if not the article in context, it certainly does the author.

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    3. @DB.
      Well, let me respond once more, but I will happily leave the last word to you afterwards.
      To be a bit more precise – but I did not take the time to go back to the article because I felt it is not worth it – you basically equated beliefs that people have or don't have about Islam with their support or lack thereof regarding President Obama and Obamacare. Speaking sarcastically of "stunning scholarship" and "brilliance", in my books that kind of conflating two completely unrelated things would probably qualify.
      One final point, while reasonable people can agree to disagree, be it on issues related to Islam or Obamacare or whatever, if someone claims the "truth" for him- or herself with respect to their political position, as you do in your post above, that's a reason for the reader to be VERY skeptical. to be sure, there is real truth, but it seems to me that you are mixing it with your opinion.

      Wish you all the best.
      HGS

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    4. In 2 parts to comply with website limitations:

      I will try one last time, Father. Firstly, I wish you would cease mischaracterizing what I have written in order to knock down straw men.

      Secondly, please try to hone in on this: The Muslim civil war is not about the primary basics of Islamic doctrine that all Muslims must accept upon pain of death if they reject the doctrine. For instance, all Muslims must accept the silly notion that Muhammad is God's prophet and the perfect representation of a man that all Muslims must emulate. This belief alone is irrational, but ALL MUSLIMS accept this nonsense. By the bye, do you have the personal courage to tell Muslims that this belief in Muhammad is irrational, or do you hide behind an "ecumenical spirit" of false tolerance and false understanding to avoid standing up for the truth?

      Next, to make the silly/false equivalence comparison of Ummah with Christendom is not only a joke, it's also offensive to the Church. Compare life lived by those who would be considered a part of 16th century Christendom (which you also disparage as if it was inherently a bad thing, which is not the case) with those who were and are a part of Ummah. Which people enjoyed more freedoms? Which people had more rights based on natural law principles? Which people got to share in the body and blood of Our Lord and Savior? Indeed, to compare Ummah with Christendom is like saying the former government of the Soviet Union was the equivalent to the American Democratic Republic government because they were both governments.

      So...it makes no difference if the Sunni and Shia reconcile their current battles. They have waged such for hundreds of years, but they are not based on a dispute in how to interpret the primary basics of Islam that they both agree upon, and which cannot ever be reformed. If you refuse to accept this, then you just don't want to accept the truth of the matter.

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    5. Part II:

      Also, it is flat out wrong to state that “if we could do it, so can they.” This is the nonsense of Jasser and fellow travelers who state that Islam can be reformed "like Christianity" even though the teachings prohibit this, and anybody who tries to do so is condemned to death. It is also the fallacy of wishful thinking since it is not based on reality. And of course, it is also doubling down on the false notion that the Catholic Church of the 16th century needed the Protestant Rebellion that you obviously favor based on an incorrect understanding of history that my article exposes despite your mischaracterization of it.

      Lastly, your final paragraph is yet another straw man mischaracterization of my position. Is it intentional on your part because you don't want to engage what I actually wrote? Very sad. In any case, my statement on true ecumenism is on sounder theological ground than the tired "check Vatican II documents" broadside you set forth. And what prompted you to bring up our Jewish elders, especially since I make no mention of them? True ecumenism requires clear statements of the Truth and an offering to people to come to the fullness of the Truth that can ONLY be found in the Catholic Church. If you don't preach this, then it is you who needs to brush up not only on the Decree of Ecumenism (of course, for a person who appreciates the entire history of the Church, Vatican II is not the final word on ecumenism or anything else for that matter), but also on our Lord's specific call for all to be one in His One True Church.

      Here's a fine quote for you from a person who likely understood Vatican II much better than you and I ever could hope to understand it: "The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth." (See subsection 18 of Ut Unum Sint, 1995)

      So while you are brushing up on the Decree of Ecumenism, be sure to add the encyclical Ut Unum Sint (the entirety of this document pertains to the commitment to ecumenism) of Pope St. John Paul II, which, of course, expresses the ultimate goal and focus of true ecumenism that I set forth at the end of my first response to your faulty critique of my article, but which you somehow felt compelled to disparage as if it lacked the true ecumenical spirit. Do you believe that Our Lord and St. John Paul II just weren’t as ecumenically wise as you? I sure hope not.

      DB

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    6. I would tone down the irrational epitaphs as irrationality can be subjective to many people, especially those who maintain they have the objective truth. Also Islam must be reformed. There is no alternative save genocide. Christianity managed to eradicated much of Native American spirituality through death and forced conversion but I don't think we want to go there. Christians tried through repeated crusades to eradicate Islam, at least in the Holy Land, with minimal success.

      As a person who has read all the documents of Vatican II, I found them refreshing and while they maintian the fullness of truth resides in the Catholic Church, it does maintain that there is truth in other religions/denominations. I would focus more on that then declaring Muslim beliefs as nonsense.

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