Reply to Stavro's latest comments:
First of all, Stavro, your post was not too long and your replies were excellent in their content and ideas. No, we are not going to agree on all of this but I would like to comment on some of your statements.
Even given the problematic origins of Islam, I still opine that at least some Moslems consider themselves to be Abraham's children and consider themselves to worship Abraham's God. They have essentially made their own self-fulfilling prophesy. Yes their worship is distorted . . . highly so. I have just started to read Serge Trifkovic's The Sword of the Prophet: Islam--History, theology, Imact on the World
which is published by Regina Orthodox Press. I am currently reading the first chapter on the origins of the Arabic peoples. The author states that "Mohammad was born into a pagan society but by the end of the 6th Century it was different from the paganism as commonly understood in its proto-monotheistic tendencies." The author also reports some of the information that you had posted earlier. He goes into the pagan origins of the name "Allah" or "al-ilah" the dominant deity--the moon god--among the pagan Arabs. So I do agree with you (I think?
) regarding the origin of much of Mohammad's thoughts about God and religion. But I perceive in the author's claims thus far in only an early reading of his book a more nuanced view of Islam than yours. And by nuanced I am not asserting that you are absolutely wrong on all counts! When I finish reading the book, perhaps I'll post a short review. I have skimmed other parts of Trifkovic's book. He is definitely NOT pro-Moslem! Thus far, the book seems to be very well written.
A few comments on selected portions of your latest post:
I still maintain that the Jews worship Yahweh as we do even though their knowledge of Yahweh, as Christianity has witnessed to Him, is incomplete or just plain wrong if you prefer.
Without opening another subject, muslims are also not saved. I believe that everybody gets the message and gets to hear the Gospel. being captive to one's environment or else is not an excuse.
If by this you mean that one must be born of water and the Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God, then I agree. I do not believe in any form of apocatastasis in its ancient understanding or in the understanding of modern day religious indifferentism. Regarding excuses or lack thereof, only God Himself will know the ultimate disposition of the individual Soul, not man, thankfully! Personally, I couldn't handle the knowledge of another one's fate. My spiritual struggle is all that I can handle as it is! Even this fails me without His unmerited Grace.
Many muslims, about 6 millions in Africa alone, according to AL-Jazeera network, are converting to christianity. Islam, when you get to read more about it, is a brutal, violent and unhuman religion, and anybody who really cares for the truth will reject it, and search for the real God. I am sure God will lead the way of this person seeking after Him to embrace christianity.
Yes, I read the post somewhere on OC.net about the 6 million. I agree with you about Islam's brutality. Christianity has been brutal too, although I recognize that this brutality did not come from Jesus--but from our history as being grafted onto the tree of Jesse (remember the semitic understanding of the God who gave them Caanan?) and due to our own fallen human natures. I sometime wonder how we all didn't end up believing in Calvinism when one examines human behavior over history.
I have not ever talked with an Imam, etc. about his belief in Allah; merely a couple of Moslem "laymen" who lived in the U.S. and spoke English. I must therefore defer to you on this.
Yes, it is a great gift. But, it is by far easy in the West, I would not call the life of christians in Islamic countries as easy, at all. You have to live in Turkey, Egypt,Iran or Yemen as a christian to know how difficult it is to be christian. It is the christianity in which the Cross is carried each and every day.
I was talking principally about the West though not exclusively. Furthermore I was not talking about the struggle to lead a Christian life, whether a life in the materialist, sex, and consumerism obsessed West or in the areas of the world where Christianity is suppressed, oppressed, and persecuted. This includes the Middle East but also China, Vietnam, Cuba, India, etc. By "easy" I was referring to the movement toward God as Christianity proclaims Him. The movement of a non-Christian to God is quite a different journey from the movement of a cradle Christian who is supposed at least to have some familiarity with and commitment to God. And Moslems have quite an arduous journey to make given their/our mutual histories, and the inhibitions of their culture.
-I am not advocating mistreatment of the unbelievers
No, of course not. I never thought that you were advocating this.
But if you imply that we should appease them, then I strongly disagree.
We are not in disagreement here. Irenicism and talking is NOT appeasement, at least not necessarily so. In fact, there is a publication recently released by the Vatican that strongly condemns the oppression of Christians in the Moslem world. So I don't think that the Pope is into appeasement. He is trying to deal with them and we can agree or disagree to varying extents regarding the success of this "management problem." If I can find the publication on the web again, I will post the link.
Away from the Pope's incident, would it not be easier if the martyrs did not die for the faith or offered incense to the idols, kissed their statues and confessed that they respect the Pagan worshippers faith ?
Love the unbelievers, but don't compromise the faith.
Again, I perceive that we are in agreement here. I would say one thing, however, is that one has to explain what "respect" means. In the U.S., for example, the ideology of freedom of religion is sacrosanct and necessary in our society. I would add to this is that I believe in "market principles" when it comes to evangelization in the U.S. So I guess that I have to "respect" Islam in America but I don't have to like it, approve of it, follow it, trust it, appease it, or support it. Futhermore, I would say that it is imcumbent then to evangelize for the Faith through apologetics, catechesis, social action, etc. As far as martyrdom, I would hope that one may at least attempt to avoid it unless absolutely necessary. The Moslems seem to encourage it among their believers with wild abandon. Something is wrong here!
My concern is more the other christians who don't study Islam and they just believe whatever is presented in the media. (I don't mean you specifically, this is in a general sense). The liberal media wants this big group hug, and we should refuse to do so.
Marvel of marvels! We agree again. That is why I try to read widely though hopefully not too superficially. If I had the time or temperament I would like to learn Arabic and Aramaic and study the semitic cultures of the Middle East in detail and up front. Speaking of Allah, the aforementioned book states that the word itself comes from the Aramaic. If we get started talking about the liberal media, our conversation will inevitably degenerate when I descend to "sailor language" and call the media those no good sons of $%^&*@#!
You don't have to take an oversimplistic view. Compare the circumstances, the orders and the reasons why the masacres were undertaken in both cases, and come to an educated conclusion.
Did Judaism spread with the sword ? Did christianity take the way of wars to spread christianity ? Never. Even the Crusades were not christian wars, they took the Cross as a cover.
In the Quran, it is a clear order to kill the christians, Jews and all other non-muslim wherever they are, unless they pay a tribute.
I'm not sure there is total agreement between us here. Then again I'm not sure there is that much disagreement either! Judaism never really spread except among itself--i.e., building babies. Yes, they did take "wives" among the pagan tribes, to God's displeasure because it led them into idolatry and child sacrifice. But Judaism has never been a proseltyzing religion. One also should recognize that the semitic tribes were very barbaric and violent whether they were Hebrews or Arabs. And all too frequently this is how they looked upon their God. I'm not a biblical scholar--I distrust much of modern bible scholarship even though I do not reject it out of hand--but I believe God talks to people in terms that they can understand just as a mom or a dad talks to a young son or daughter in child-like and child-understanding terms. Could Islam ever be tamed say in the U.S.? Frankly, I don't know one way or the other.
One thing that troubles me about our criticism of militant Islam, we are a people that brought the world the holocaust of WWII, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, etc. [pick your favorite issue]! And now 37+ million abortions in the U.S. alone! I am willing to oppose Islam for the sake of my faith and the sake of the West, but I get kinda uncomfortable when I reflect upon the violent history of the West! No, this is not a matter of guilt but of perspective.
Regarding the Crusades, that is another topic which we might disagree on or partially agree/disagree on. The Crusades' history is very complex and is currently subject to a great deal of revisionism, much of which I must admit that I might agree with. Another reading area to add to my list of "To be read." Sorry to annoy Bro. Max (where has he been lately?) but my knowledge of the Crusades pretty much comes from Will and Ariel Durant (and some other books). As you may know, I'm not a fan of the Durants.
We are told to live in peace with all unbelievers, but without compromising the faith. I didn;t mean to make any slanderous comments about Pope John Paul II or the catholic church. I just wanted to make sure that Islam is understood correctly.
I regretted making my statement almost immediately after I posted it. Thanks to our "overseers" who took away our edit capabilities I couldn't revise it subsequently. [Actually, thanks to those who abused the privilege of having an edit capability!] I did not intend to accuse you of slander, merely to ask you to clarify your statement. I agree with you that Islam is dangerous.
I do not really know one way or the other in the long term whether of not the West can live in peace with Islam. I don't intend to open up the subject of the Crusades again but I am (partially) convinced that the Crusades, as problematic as they were, kept Western Europe ultimately from going Moslem. No, I can't prove it. But the Western European incursion into the Middle East caused the Moslems kingdoms to lose a lot of energy otherwise available for conquest. The purposes were not totally aggressive even if the tactics were. Islam was becoming ascendent while the West was relatively backwards. And the Byzantine East was caught in the middle!
Ultimately, the Crusades were not successful as best as I can tell, at least for Byzantium and for Christians in the Middle East. Islam eventually took Constantinople which never really recovered from 1204. Even without 1204 I'm not all that sure that Constantinople would have prevailed anyway. No! I'm not justifying the 4th Crusade's sack of the city!!!!! Islam was on a steam roller for several centuries. I don't even think that a united West could have prevented the fall of Constantinople, but I can't prove this. I don't think the West at its stage of history could unite in the first place, even under the Papacy as a central unifying organization. This period of history did demonstrate, however, that Islam was very powerful & dangerous to the West and united as a result of the Crusades. And Islam at least in the terrorist sense is uniting again and may become very powerful in its own unique way in the 21st Century.
The timing is also becoming bad for the West. The West is rapidly de-Christianizing IMHO. You might recall that the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah rejected Yahweh and fell subsequently to the Assyrians and Babylonians respectively. There is a lesson in here "somewhere" for the West.
As I told you, I am not praticularly interested in this incident as much as in the dogmas of Pope Infallability, which would be exposed if he acted in a wrong way in any incident concerning the faith.
I don't want to open up another can of worms, but the dogma of Papal Infallibility really has nothing to do with Koran kissing! But perhaps we should leave this "issue" for a resounding cat fight to be fought on OC.net for another day. Meow!
It is now my turn to apologize for a long and prolix post. I must say again, however, that I have thoroughly enjoyed this discussion with you and even the discussion in the entire thread on this topic.
I wish you a holy and miserable Great Lent!