Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Murmurs of reason coming from the Netherlands?

I almost can't believe it. Could this be the beginning of a belated attempt to bring Europe back from the perilous process of Islamization? I'm not sure how much it will help, if they don't start having more kids it won't make a difference. I'm telling you, think Lebanon in the 80's, urban fighting, stuff like that.

Indeed, Ploumen says, "Integration calls on the greatest effort from the new Dutch. Let go of where you come from; choose the Netherlands unconditionally." Immigrants must "take responsibility for this country" and cherish and protect its Dutch essence.

Not clear enough? Ploumen insists, "The success of the integration process is hindered by the disproportionate number of non-natives involved in criminality and trouble-making, by men who refuse to shake hands with women, by burqas and separate courses for women on citizenship.

"We have to stop the existence of parallel societies within our society."

And the obligations of the native Dutch? Ploumen's answer is, "People who have their roots here have to offer space to traditions, religions and cultures which are new to Dutch society" - but without fear of expressing criticism. "Hurting feelings is allowed, and criticism of religion, too."

The whole article is at IHT. And this is coming from the Left--not some ultra conservatives.

Maybe the intercession of St Plechelm, patron of the Netherlands, is having some effect?

The Curious Case of the Married, Roman Catholic Bishop

Wow, we all know about married Roman Catholic priests (formerly Anglicans) but I didn't know about this at all. From VirtueOnline:

Married ex-Anglican bishops functioning as Roman Catholic bishops would not be unprecedented, however. In December 1959, Pope John XXIII received a married ex-Anglican priest, who had been consecrated as a bishop of the schismatic Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira, into the Roman Catholic Church.

Married with seven children, Bishop Salomão Barbosa Ferraz was not re-ordained upon his reception in the Catholic Church. Upon being named Titular Bishop of Eleutherna on May 10, 1963, he was not re-consecrated. Active at the Second Vatican Council, Bishop Ferraz appears to have been the only modern day married Roman Catholic bishop. Ferraz was ordained a priest and then a bishop by Bp. Duarte Costa who was validly ordained by Rome. "Rome simply does not accept the validity of Anglican orders so why would they accept Anglican Bishops, should they go over...married or not? Therefore the situation you cited would not be a precedent," Anthony said.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saudi Jeans on the Judicial System in KSA

Saudi Jeans is one of the most famous blogs in the the Arab blogosphere (AKA البلوغوسفير العربي) and he has some interesting comments on the state of the Saudi Judicial system. There are some hopeful stirrings. But hope in KSA is like water poured onto desert sand more often than not.

I mention the topic since there was so much discussion on the recent post about the eight year old girl and 47-year old man being married and then the little girl being denied a divorce requested by her mother.

Here is the whole post from Saudi Jeans:

Court of Embarrasment

Not so long ago, criticizing the judiciary was a taboo in this country. But with more people learning more about their rights and finding new outlets to express their dissatisfaction, they began to clearly show their impatience with the performance of the justice system. The system has become a battlefield between reformers who demanded change and conservatives who defended the judges fiercely, arguing that since their verdicts are based on Sharia then they should be unquestionable.

Luckily for the rest of us though, the complaints did not fall on deaf ears. In October 2007, King Abdullah announced a $2bn plan to overhaul the legal system. It is a large undertaking and it will certainly take a long time to see the effects of this plan. The resistance of the old guard in the system will only make this process slower and more difficult. But one of the good immediate effects of this plan is that it has placed the judges under increased scrutiny. The past two years have witnessed a number of high profile cases that attracted much attention from people and the media, not just in Saudi Arabia but around the world.

I think that last week’s case in Onaiza, where a court rejected a divorce petition filed by the mother of a an eight-year-old girl whose father married her to a 58-year-old man, should be seen in that context. Sure, the verdict is outrageous and unfair, but hey, this is the K of SA, a country where judges are not tied to written laws and justice is a subjective matter that pretty much depends on their whims. Does Sheikh Habib al-Habib know that his government has [signed] the international Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1996? I don’t think he does, and I think he does not care because such international laws are made by mere mortals while he probably believes that he is applying God’s laws.

Abdullah Al-Jutaili, the lawyer representing the girl’s divorced mother, said he was going to appeal the verdict. Let’s hope judges at the appeals court will be wiser than their colleague here when they deal with this case that not only exemplified the kind of injustices the people of this country have to go through when their [misfortune] leads them to a court, but also further tarnished the already distorted image of Saudi Arabia in the world.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Reasons for Demographic Superiority of Islam

How did Islam grow so quickly for so long?

Other methods have been employed by Mohammedans for propagating their faith, such as the purchase or forcible seizure of non-Moslem children in times of plague, famine, war and massacre, or even in times of no special disturbance, and rearing them in the Mohammedan faith. The Janissaries at Constantinople are a case in point. The children of Christians were taken regularly to replenish the ranks of this special body-guard of successive Sultans of Turkey. Another method employed to increase the number of Moslems was the plurality of wives and the use of captive women of non-Moslem races as concubines. These two methods of propagation were conspicuously employed[.]

--James Levy Barton

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ramon Llull (Raymond Lully) on the Incarnation

Appropriate during this season of Christmas:

But as you are the God man and since your physical humanity naturally participates with all physical creatures, all creatures find rest in you like things that are likened find rest in their likeness, for you as a human are their ultimate purpose and end.

De contemplatione Raymundi

New Link: Lullian Arts

Well, I have gained a good deal of experience finding obscure links and titles on the internet, and I wanted to share with you two of them:

First, Lullian Arts, which is a fine English-language site for downloading some of the main works of Blessed Raymond Lull. It lacks, however, his greatest apologetic work: The Book of the Three Wise Mean and the Gentile, which you can purchase from Amazon in the Bonner's Reader. You can also find it online in Latin I think, though I haven't looked for it.

Anyway, here you go for the site in English:

Lullian Arts

If you want to start out with something short (but difficult) try out his ars brevis.

Second, the complete text in Catalán of libre del gentil e los tres savis is HERE.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

CNN: Saudi Judge Refuses to annul marriage of girl, 8

Actually, if you read the legal aspects of the case everything is indeed according to shari'a as far as I can tell. The mother does not have a right to file this case, and as long as the little girl's husband agrees to wait until puberty to have sex with her then he has fulfilled his obligations. Also, the giving of a daughter in marriage to settle a debt is entirely permissible in Islamic law. The fact that the man is 47 and the girl is eight is not material at all. The girl is a minor and so she has no say in this matter. Her father is her guardian, and then her husband is after the marriage.

Anyway, read it all here:

CNN: Saudi Judge Refuses to annul marriage of girl, 8

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Clement of Alexandria on the Perpetual Generation of the Son

For when he says, "That which was from the beginning," he touches upon the generation without beginning of the Son, who is co-existent with the Father. There was[,] then, a Word importing an unbeginning eternity; as also the Word itself, that is, the Son of God, who being, by equality of substance, one with the Father, is eternal and uncreate.

St. Clement of Alexandria (d. circa 215)
Commentary on 1 John

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gregory of Nyssa on the Holy Trinity

Now the fact that there is no distinction in the operations we learn from the community of the attributes, but of the difference in respect of nature we find no clear proof, the identity of operations indicating rather, as we said, community of nature. If, then, Godhead is a name derived from operation, as we say that the operation of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one, so we say that the Godhead is one: or if, according to the view of the majority, Godhead is indicative of nature, since we cannot find any diversity in their nature, we not unreasonably define the Holy Trinity to be of one Godhead .

St Gregory of Nyssa
On the Holy Trinity

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Anglicans in N America evangelizing Muslims?

Wow, this is cool. The new Anglican province in N America will, it appears, have Islam and evangelism as a main topic of its forthcoming synod in 2009. And the nice thing is that these Anglicans have intimate ties with those in Africa who know Islam in a very, uh, realistic sort of way, ie, my house and cathedral church were burned down by a mob of angry Muslims.

This is very encouraging. I write this as I hear the call of the minaret wafting over the hills and of my city here. Either the West will be laregly Christian with freedom for all, or largely Islamic with freedom for none. Thus saith the Lord. Quote me on that.

Task forces on prayer book and common worship, ecumenical relations, evangelisation and Islam, as well as committees on education and on mission are carried over from Common Cause days.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lesslie Newbigin Prophecies: the failure of the secular model

Thus spake the prophet of the Lord, Lesslie Newbigin, in 1996 in Brazil:

The secular model has claimed to provide freedom but it cannot sustain that claim. It has been successful only insofar as it has been sustained by the remaining power of the Christian tradition; and as that tradition weakens, the secular society is unable to defend itself either against the rising religious fundamentalisms or against dissent [sic] into moral anarchy and hopelessness.

(p. 120, delivered in Dec. 1996)

Newbigin, Lesslie. 2003. Signs amid the Rubble: The Purposes of God in Human History. ed. Geoffrey Wainwright. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Organic Churches, the NT, Constantine, and the Bishops

The article that provoked this is here: The Assembling of the Church. Read it and chime in with your thoughts. It's an interview.

I have recently been returning to the question of the formation of the NT canon, which seems to be a disastrous weakness in the common evangelical mind. Without bishops (or some form of making regional and inter-regional decisions) and a theology to back them up, I don't see how you can come out with a NT canon. Indeed, the alternative is to leave that tradition (what is in and out of the NT) up to each congregation. I can't see why a congregationally-oriented church (and such are the organic churches, simple churches, and home churches) would opt to adopt the judgment of the archaic Synod of Rome in 382--a synod which took place after bishops had been given corrupting power by the infamous (among evangelicals) Constantine.

Why in the world would a congregational evangelical trust these men, who met under the leadership of Pope Damasus, and had been according senatorial power as bishops by Constantine? To give you an idea of the changes that had taken place I quote Nathan Howard:

Constantine wanted to effect a more efficient government with the help of the church after he emerged the sole emperor in 324. By assigning to the bishops juridical power and by diverting to them patronage resources, the emperor unwittingly allowed them to establish political networks that rivaled the local elites and the emperor himself. The inevitable result was that the bishops now commanded the emperor's deference, much as the senators once had. Churchmen soon became active players in formulating the emperor's religious policies, thus placing them in a position through which they might later suppress vestiges of pagan culture.

And evangelicals have opted to follow these men in their judgment regarding the inspiration of the many texts in use as the 4th C. was closing?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Nativity of Jesus according to Muhammad

The following oral tradition has been handed down from the Prince of the Prophets, the blessed Muhammad Mustafa:

"Whenever a human being is born, Satan prods the baby with his finger. But the devil could find no way of doing this to Mary's miraculous son. Allah protected Jesus from this distorting touch."

Ozak Al-Jerrahi, Muzaffer. 1991. Blessed Virgin Mary trans. by Muhtar Holland (Pir Press) p. 40

The Mumbai Atrocities

From HERE:

[...] But if the lack of outrage over the Islamic terrorist assault on Mumbai, India last month was any indication, everything has changed back.

The obfuscation that characterized much of the early reporting on Mumbai is partially to blame. Watching a number of television reporters go through visible pains not to use the word "terrorist" to describe a four-day reign of terror that would eventually kill more than 170 people and injure hundreds was a surreal spectacle. Initial articles described "militants," "gunmen," and "extremists," but rarely terrorists, and rarer still, Islamic terrorists. So-called experts prattled on vaguely about the perpetrators' motivations, as if the ideology fueling a group called the Deccan Mujahedeen was a complete and utter mystery. [...]

--Cinnamon Stillwell

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pentecostalism: the fastest expanding religious movement in the world...ever

This is from an excellent and short article over at the inexhaustible IBMR:

By the end of the twentieth century, Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity in all its diversity had expanded into almost every country on earth. It had become an extremely significant movement within global Christianity affecting Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants, evangelicals, and especially the independent churches in China, India, Africa, and Latin America. It is probably the fastest expanding religious movement in the world ever, certainly the fastest within Christianity.

Anderson, Allan. 'Spreading Fires: The Globalization of Pentecostalism in the Twentieth Century' in IBMR, Vol. 31:1, Jan. 2007, p. 9.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The deceitful use of language in the Episcopal Church

I ran across this comment and found it so eloquent that I wanted to quote it. While the example refers specifically to the Episcopal Church (TEC) which is primarily located in the USA, it also holds for a number of the main (declining) denominations in the West. There is no common language anymore. And yes, I am Anglican and I have good relations with a number of Episcopal churches back in the US, which is why I am more critical of it than other churches. From HERE:

This is an infuriating speech, precisely because its piety is manipulative, and dishonest. This is not mere name calling on my part. The evidence is stacked in rank on rank. At every turn, TEC has used language to manipulate, they have altered denotation and connotation, they tortured standard speech to create special distinctions that satisfy their own agenda. And now, we are to believe that TEC wishes to reform itself in Christ’s image and ways. But buried therein, we meet the word “diversity” and we realize what the speaker’s purpose is, to etiolate and attenuate opposition by using the language of peace to assert a soft domination.

This speech is a counter-attack, a form of suffocation with sweetness, as if he were spreading a toxic marshmallow Fluff on peanut butter. I have read many a TEC verbal gambit here, but this is monstrous in its audacity. As many another has asked, why would any Episcopalian wish to stay in the same church as such pusillanimity? Larry

One good friend of mine was studying to be an Episcopal priest and half-way through seminary he and his wife and their kids became Roman Catholic. I have two other good friends in seminary, they will both be ministering in the US but neither of them will be with TEC. These are young guys (late 20's and early 30's) who are dynamic and very talented and I don't know of any priests in TEC like them.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Advent Verses: Halcyon Days

Bend an ear:
the soft knock of opportunity is hard to hear
above the din of progress' regress
and what appears in the wreckage
of what was hoped for, waited for, and love's labors lost.

Click your heels:
approaching heaven lessens sin's appeal
let the presence of purpose proportion the spin of your wheels.

God need only speak to calm the waters
halcyon days are coming back again;
God need only speak to calm the waters
for the halcyon days.

From 'Halcyon Days', by Jeremy Post

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Former Episcopalian new top dog in Orthodox Church of America

Gotta love this guy! Just read this interview. Here are the last two questions:

Q: Orthodox churches are getting a significant number of converts from Western Christian traditions. Is that a reflection on Orthodoxy, on Western churches, or both?

A: To a great extent, many of the other churches are falling apart. The mainline Protestants, the Methodists, the Presbyterians. The Episcopalians have lost half their membership. The Baptists, even. The evangelical movement is already coming to an end. It's only about 100 years old in American culture, and it's kind of come to the fulfillment of its potential. The Orthodox Church is the fullness of the apostolic faith and the apostolic tradition. People find in it what they always thought Christianity should be.

Q: Given that situation, how can Orthodoxy go about raising its profile?

A: We very much believe in free will. You can't drag people kicking and screaming into the kingdom of heaven, as much as you might want to try. While we have not had, for the most part, an aggressive outreach, I think we need to look at different ways in which to reach out to the general population. Truly as it's said in many circles, Orthodoxy is America's best kept secret, and it's our fault.

[Abu Daoud says: do you think the evangelical movement in the US is really coming to an end? Or is he perhaps being too hasty?]

Yemen, the poorest Arab country

Yep, even a lower per capita GDP than Mauritania or Djibouti. Ouch.

SANA'A, Dec. 10 (Saba) – Yemen ranked last among Arab states in terms of the Gross Domestic Product per capita with $ 901, a report has said.

The report of the Arab Economic Unit Council, released on Sunday said Yemen recorded the lowest per capita income behind Mauritania whose GDP per capita reached $ 909.

Djibouti came ahead of the two states with GDP per capita of $977.

However, Qatar came in first place with $ 72.376, Emirates was in second place with $ 42.273, Kuwait third with $ 33.646, Bahrain fourth with $ 24.151, Saudi Arabia $ 15.158.

While the per capita GDP in Libya is $ 8903, in Lebanon $ 6243, in Algeria $ 3976, in Tunisia $ 3423, in Jordan and Iraq $ 2343, in Morocco $ 2290, in Syria $ 2136, in Egypt $ 1759 and in Sudan $ 1543.

The report said average per capita income in Arab states for the current prices raised to $ 4661 in 2007, up from $ 4188 in 2006, at a growth rate of 11.3 percent.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Official Rock Group of Islam and Christianity: Black Eyed Sceva/Model Engine

Well, I've been writing this blog for a couple years now and I feel entitled to recognize excellence in certain areas. For one, sweet, excellent, Catholic rock. Yes, there is such a thing.

The group is, as far as I know, no longer around, but it went by the name Black Eyed Sceva in its earlier days, and Model Engine in its later days--which is what I am listening to as I write this. The front man was Jeremy Post.

This group is great because, let's be honest, who else writes songs about martyrdom, pornography, and the sacrament of Confirmation and the evolution-creationism debate? The answer: no one. Who else writes of CS Lewis in song lyrics but calls him Clive Staples?

The lyrics are intelligent, the music is driven by the edgy guitar and accomplished drum-work. While their three albums were critically acclaimed they did not sell that well, which means you can get them used for cheap.

Years go by and questions are raised: just who is that God you praise?
You see the line ain't so fine between going to church and being saved.
This is my Confirmation day.

--Confirmation Day, from 5 Years, 50,000 Miles Davis

Now I'm drawing lines to form fish in the sand
If they find you out, they'll hang you upside-down
With sharpened spikes to form-fit through your hand
Twisted thorns for a crown.

--Hang you Upside Down, from The Lean Years Tradition

The lyrics of The Lean Years Tradition can all be found HERE.

Great Missionaries to the Muslim World: Temple Gairdner

Temple Gairdner (1873-1928) was an Anglican priest, born in Scotland and educated in Oxford. He was a real trail blazer during his ministry in Cairo, which was then the center of culture and life in the entire Arab world. He produced plays about Biblical figures (like Joseph) and invited Muslims to watch, he also wrote the first grammar of colloquial Egyptian Arabic (that is, not Classical Arabic but the actual language spoken in daily life on the streets of Cairo). The teaching of colloquial dialects would later go on to influence figures like George Kelsey who worked in Jordan. Gairdner was also quite explicit in his focus on evangelizing Muslims rather than simply assimilating Othodox Christians into the fledgling Anglican churches of his time.

A good quote on his approach to ministry:

He was one who saw the need to fuse the evangelistic zeal for the people of the earth with loyalty to the historical catholic heritage. Resisting the shibboleths of the ultra-evangelical and Anglo-Catholic sectors of the church, Gairdner sought to reconcil [sic] and relate his energizing experience to the full life within the church.

Christian Mission to Muslims
Lyle L. Vander Werff, p. 189
William Carey Library 1977

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Return of Jesus (Issa) son of Mary in Islam

Hadith - Sahih Bukhari 4.657, Narrated Abu Huraira, r.a.

Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non-Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it." Abu Huraira added "If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): 'And there is none Of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) Before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness Against them."

Abu Daoud says: that there will be no jizya means that there will be no more Christians or Jews. In other words the return of Jesus will result in the destruction of some of the Ahl al Kitaab and the conversion of the others to Islam.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The sword and the "the clumsiness of Muhammed's miracles"

Had the people been more civilized, the clumsiness of Muhammed’s miracles [the verses of the Qur’an] must in themselves have frustrated his purpose. But […] the angel Gabriel most most providentially forbade discussion or controversy, and the swords of his associates effected the rest. He knew that his religion was weak in spiritual strength, and he called upon his people to defend it with the strength of their arms.

Thomas Wright, p. 166
Early Christianity in Arabia
London 1855

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Who's who in Early Church History?

Take the test, it's short and fun. I scored eight out of ten. And you?


The Created Quran and the Mu'tazilites

The Mu'tazilites were the early Muslim rationalists (well, kind of), and they held that the Quran was created. They lost out in the long run, but the Mu'tazilite Controversy was formative for all subsequent Islam (like the Arian Controversy for Christians). The Arian controversy originated in Alexandria and the Mu'tazilite controversy in Basra.

...the Mu‘tazilites concluded that the Qur’an had been created (makhluq). The argument may be reconstructed as follows: if the Qur’an is God’s speech, then it is either coeternal with God, and thus uncreated, or it is not coeternal with God. To maintain pure monotheism one must concede that it is created. On this inference, if the Qur’an is coeternal with God, then in order to eschew plurality in the divine
oneness, one has to say that the scripture, as God’s speech, is one with
God. To avoid affirming contraries (unity and multiplicity), a Mu‘tazilite
would assert that it is not coeternal with God and must therefore be
created. This argument is seconded by qur’anic proof-texts that point to
the descent of revelation in the Arabic tongue that is constrained by
place and time, as to its accessibility to finite human apprehension.

The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, Ch. 6

Friday, December 05, 2008

Islamic Philosophy is Islamic heresy

Much is made of the great age of Islamic philosophy and these figures (al Kindi, Avicenna, Farabi) are often held up to demonstrate the intellectual fruitfulness of Islam. But we must remember that these individuals are, by contemporary standards, heretics. In the end there was never an ability to reconcile revelation and reason and Islamic orthodoxy committed itself to revelation over reason from then on. Here is a short section on Farabi:

[...] Al-Farabi [flourished] in the tenth century. He argued that philosophers become aware of the truth through logical demonstrations and their own insight. Non-philosophers know truth and reality by symbols. Thus, philosophy is the highest form of knowledge. Since revealed truth is manifest through symbols, he concluded that one religion could not be suitable for all people and in any case is subordinate to philosophy. He linked the neoplatonist concept of the one with Aristotle's first cause as a self-thinking intellect or mind as well as with Allah. He claimed, in his commentaries on Plato's Republic, that the ideal ruler would be both a philosopher and a prophet. But he maintained that since no such Caliph was likely the philosopher and the politician should work closely together.

There is something outrageous in a culture that is not committed to the idea of a rational universe turning to Aristotle for an answer to the problem of truth.
But the Faylasufs [Muslim philosophers] were a temporary phenomena of the ninth and tenth centuries. They began their deliberations with the idea that the world was a rational creation of Allah, and that did not require a rational God. If what he created was rational then reasoning was an avenue to its understanding.

William H. Provost, Ch. 5
God Science and Reason

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Peter Pikkert on The Great Experiment

This is also from the most recent issue of St Francis Magazine, which has some tantalizing articles. The Great Experiment was the primary missionary effort to the Muslim world for over two centuries and in this book review its main idea is outlined. I have read the book and it is quite good. If you don't feel like reading the entire book at least check out the book review over at SFM.

Anyway, a quote from Miller's review of Pikkert's book "Protestant Missionaries in the Middle East":

His main target is the so-called Great Experiment. When Protestant missionaries arrived in the area in the early 1800’s they soon decided that direct evangelization of local Muslims was too dangerous and difficult; thus was born the Great Experiment, whereby missionaries would revive what they saw as the moribund churches of the land—whether Maronite, Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Coptic, or what have you. These churches would be resurrected in the image of Western Protestant evangelicalism with all its iconoclastic and individualistic trappings. In other words, they were largely ambassadors of their culture—even to the other Christians. So schools, orphanages, clinics, printing presses and hospitals were all established, mostly with the aim of reviving the Christian communities. Pikkert argues that this behavior was suspicious to the local rulers, making their communities highly visible when they had managed to survive over the centuries largely by not being auspicious. Consequentially the various genocides and mass emigrations from the Middle East and Asia Minor over the centuries can be attributed, at least in part, to this misguided Great Experiment.

Not only that, the Great Experiment quite clearly did not work. While it did result eventually in the founding of Protestant churches composed mostly of OBP’s (Orthodox-background Protestants), it should not be surprising to anyone that even these Westernized Christians had little interest after centuries of mistrust and isolation in suddenly flinging wide the gates of the churches to Turkish and Arab Muslims converts.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Abu Daoud: Mission and Sacrament II (section)

[This is part of the text of an article I wrote for St. Francis Magazine which can be found HERE. Part I can be found HERE.--AD]

[...]Take a look at the pillars of Islam. While Muslims do not use the language of sacrament, they certainly have the concept, though in an incomplete manner. (For ultimately the fullness of the sacramentality of Creation cannot be grasped without the incarnation). Because the sacramental principle is distorted but present in Islam, one ends up with the rather crude and instrumentalist language regarding forgiveness of sins: that if one does this or that then certain sins will be forgiven. Forgiveness in Islam is not the reconciliation of mercy and justice as it is in Christianity: it tends more towards a sort of randomness and, some might say, capriciousness on the part of Allah. The two are related of course. Because there is no reconciliation of justice and mercy in a body—a human body which is “sacrificed for us” and “takes away the sins of the world”—there can be nothing higher than capriciousness which oscillates between mercy and justice without really dealing with either of them in a concrete way.

Nevertheless Islam is filled with rituals and there can be no doubt that through these concrete rituals—and much attention is given to form—mercy and forgives can be earned, though one is seldom assured that they have been imparted. To bring a person from Islam into Christianity is to bring them from one set of signs and symbols into another. This is true even if we are using the phraseology of the Kingdom of God and Islamic vocabulary. Islam already has a ritual washing which is performed by devout Muslims quite frequently. Baptism is an alternate ritual washing, performed once.

The community of the Kingdom of God has a ritual meal which is celebrated on a regular basis by those who have made the required confession of faith (in baptism). It is not a sacrifice of a living animal, as is the Islamic ritual sacrifice-meal (Eid al Adha); also, it is performed more often (in Acts daily, and until the 16th C. weekly). The Islamic sacrificial meal is a memorial of a grand sacrifice provided by Allah whereby Abraham’s son was spared: it and the meal celebrate and recall filial obedience. The ritual sacrifice-meal among the subjects of the Kingdom is similar, but not identical. For one, it is always a participation, a going-back-to and a reliving of one sacrifice that was made at a specific point in time (under Pontius Pilate) in a specific way (he was crucified, dead, and buried) on a given hill near Zion. There too is a theme of filial obedience. In the Quran the son of Abraham knows ahead of time that his father will kill him, unlike in the Genesis narrative. Yet he goes with him to meet this fate. In a more dramatic and lengthier narrative we have a similar story in the Gospels. But the ultimate end of the sacrifice is not only obedience for the sake of obedience, but obedience for the sake of reconciling all Creation to God. Another way to put it is this: to preserve the justice and mercy of God through the sacrament of Jesus’ body. [...]

Abu Daoud. 'Mission and Sacrament, Part II' in Saint Francis Magazine 4:3, Dec. 2008