Friday, September 15, 2006

The Pope Stirs It Up

I read where the Pope made comments recently in a speech in Germany that has really made Muslims around the world angry. The Pope's comments were quoted from a book about the 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II, recounting comments the emperor made about Islam in a 14th century conversation with an educated Persian Muslim man.

The offending snippet from the Pope's speech is as follows:

"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war. He (the emperor) said (to the Persian man), I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'"

Now, from my admittedly limited understanding of Islam (although I have read a bit and studied the commentary of many scholars on just what Islam does teach), I honestly don't see where the Pope was wrong.

Mind you, I'm no fan of the Pope or the catholic church in general. I'm a protestant, evangelical Christian who believes Jesus died for my sins, and I need no moderator between God and myself other than Jesus Christ. No amount of good works or Hail Mary's will cleanse my soul, or set me right. Grace through faith in Jesus, and forgiveness of sins through repentance in my heart is the only saving grace given by God.

The Pope does not speak for me, nor does he for the world's millions of protestant Christians. But he does, often, speak for the cause of Christ in this world, and is a positive force for good, which I believe should be defended and supported when the need arises.

To this point, though, let's look at the reaction to the Pope's comments in the Muslim world, and contrast that with the Christian response to similar instances when Christ and the Christian faith is attacked, and let you judge for yourself the attitude and heart of Islam.

Salih Kapusuz, a deputy leader in the Turkish Prime Minister's political party says, " (Pope) Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks, is going down in history for his words. He is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as (Adolf) Hitler and (Benito) Mussolini."

The same category as Hitler and Mussolini? Hmmmm...


Pakistan's parliament unanimously adopting a resolution condemning the pope for making what it called "derogatory" comments about Islam, and seeking an apology from him. "Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.

Hmmm... Describing Islam as intolerant encourages violence? Why would tolerant Muslims be violent? If Islam is a tolerant religion, shouldn't Muslims me... uhm... tolerant? Sounds like a bit of a paradox to me.


Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Aslam continued, saying Muslims had a long history of tolerance, adding that when the Catholic kingdom of Spain expelled its Jewish population in 1492 they were welcomed by Muslim nations such as the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

Too bad Islam isn't as tolerant of the Jews today. Iranian President Ahmadinejad believes Israel should be "wiped off the map". Since he does not say anything, or speak without the approval of Iran's ruling mullah's, there is at the highest levels of Shiite Islam at least tacit approval of Ahmadinejad's comments, if not downright support.

In Egypt, Muhammad Mahdi Akif, the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, said the Pope's comments "pour oil on the fire and ignite the wrath of the whole Islamic world to prove the claims of enmity of politicians and religious men in the West to whatever is Islamic".

Ignite wrath? That sounds awfully tolerant. Very peaceful. Non-threatening.


I could go on and on and on.

For example, Muslim reaction to the cartoons of Muhammad last year in European newspapers was what?

Riots, demonstrations, and threats of homicide to those that continued to publish the cartoons. I believe an embassy or two was attacked, and I know there were some fires set in some cities. Very tolerant.

What was Muslim reaction to 9/11 and the destruction of the WTC?

In many parts of the Muslim world, Palestine, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran especially, there was dancing in the streets!. People were overjoyed and elated that America, the Christian America, had been given a mighty blow by the forces of Allah. Make no mistake about it.

What about the Ayatollah Khomeini'’s fatwa (death sentence) against Salman Rushdie, encouragingMuslimss to kill him and claim a multi-million dollar reward so many years ago, just for writing a book critical of Kohmahni and the Quran?

Tolerance? Doesn'’t look that way to me.

Anyway, let's look at the Christian response to similar instances.

Let's see.... Pope John Paul II was shot in the 1980's by Muslim man.

The Pope's response? John Paul forgave the man, and the assassin later apologized and tearfully thanked the Pope from his prison cell for that forgiveness.

What about mischaractarizations of the Christianan faith, cartoons lampooning Jesus, books decrying the false-hood and fallacy of Christianity, of which there are literally too many to count?

How many Christians rioted in the streets, burned businesses, threatened to burn embassies, or promised to overthrow governments? Hmmmm.... lemme think.... zero!

See, both sides, Muslim and Christian, can claim tolerance and compassion, but one has to put tolerance into action, and see the results in life, if one is to be believed.

Islam claims to be a tolerant, peace-loving religion, but I just don't see the evidence.

The basic tenant of Islam is that Allah is all powerful, and Allah demands to be worshipped by all people. On this point there is no argument from Muslims. You don't have a choice. Allah must be worshipped. And yes, the Quran DOES INDEED teach that use of the sword, to fight and kill those who physically oppose Islam, is not only right but demanded as obedience to Allah.

In the Quran, Allah demands that the the muslim do all that he or she can to bring others to belief in Allah, and to establish Allah's word as LAW in the land where they live. This is the concept of sharia, where the Quran is the law of the land. It is a condition of Islam, and the way of life in most of the Islamic world. The religion is the government, and the government is the religion.

That is why so many Muslims around the world have a difficult time understanding that the USA, although it's citizens claim to be predominantly Christian, is not a "Christian nation", and why so many Muslims simply hate George Bush, because they see him as an outspoken "Christian" leader. I believe GWB is Christian in his heart, but he is the secular leader of a nation, as well. The Muslim can not separate those two things in his mind. They are inseparable to him.

On the other hand, the Christian God, Jehovah, does not demand all people worship Him. Each of us are freely given a choice to believe or not. No Christian will demand that, either you believe or you must be killed as an infidel. In fact, Jesus himself didn't chase after anyone, demanding they believe in him. He simply stated the facts, and let people think what they wanted. Some followed, others didn't. Jesus told his disciple Peter to put his sword away, when Peter lashed out and cut off the ear of one of the guards who were coming to arrest Jesus. Jesus demonstrated that physical resistance, the sword, is simply not the Christian way.

Ok, go ahead, bring up the Crusades. I'll say in once, and once only - the Crusades were NOT Christian. Christ would not have headed up any Crusade. They were power struggles fueled by evil, greedy men, fighting for land, power, and influence in the world. The Crusades had NOTHING to do with Jesus, his mission to preach the Good News to the world, or anything even resembling Jesus' ministry here on earth. They were evil, and NO WHERE in the Bible do you find justification for them.


That being said, both religions do believe in the final judgment of mankind, after we die, but again, there are differences, with compassion coming down hard on the side of Jehovah. To the Christian, Jesus died, giving his own life freely, then rose from the grave to new life, so that anyone who wants to have faith in Christ can have eternal life -– entrance into Heaven, or as the Muslim thinks of it, Paradise.

Jehovah gives the promise to the Christian that, by faith, we can enter Heaven when we die, because our sins have been forgiven. The Quran teaches that Allah judges as he will, and does not promise the Muslim any entrance into heaven, no matter how hard he works. The Muslim has to hope that his good deeds outweigh his bad deeds in life; thus the Islamic emphasis on good deeds. Even then, the Muslim is promised nothing by Allah.

In fact, the ONLY promised way in Islam to get into paradise is by dying in jihad - holy war. What is holy war? The literal war to bring the Islamic faith to the entire world. Hence, suicide or homicide bombers, giving their lives in a cause, thinking they are going to Paradise.

Does that sound like compassion and tolerance to you? Literally killing those that don't believe as you do, as commanded by your God? Blowing yourself up in a marketplace, killing innocent people, in the name of your God - does that sound like compassion? Like peace?

So, I ask you, where is the Pope wrong?

I don'’t believe he is. As some very few scholars have done, I tend to give the Pope respect for speaking the hard truth. I hope he sticks to his principles and stands hard by the faith he professes.

Oh, by the way, did you catch Rosie O'Donnell on The View, with her take on Christianity and Islam?

ABC's Rosie O'Donnell told a nationwide audience this week that "radical Christians" are the same as radical Muslims who piloted hijacked jetliners into New York's Twin Towers, who chop off the heads of individuals and who bomb innocent children in suicide attacks. O'Donnell made her comments as host of ABC's "The View."

"Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state," O'Donnell said. She had been saying that America was attacked "not by a nation." She continued: "And as a result of the attack and the killing of 3,000 innocent people, we invaded two countries and killed innocent people."

Oy-vey. She sounds like a Muslim, unable to distinguish between Christians in America, and the US government. We have a separation of church of state in the USA. Christian pastors and priests do not make government policy, as the Ayatollahs and mullahs do in Muslim nations.

And, again, I implore you: in order to see the HUGE differences between the two faiths, watch the Christian reaction to Rosie's comments.

They will certainly protest, and even ask for an apology (as is right), but there will be no riots; no burnings; no mass protests with threats to kill infidels. Rosie is free to say what she wants, without fear of anything other than a few unkind words.

See if she could pull that off Muslim muslim world.

I think not.

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