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Article: Pope Benedict XVI and Islam: Allah the Irrational

June 23, 2007

Scott Richert / Taki’s Top Drawer (tip to Tea at Trianon):

Many sympathetic commentators, who didn’t bother to read the speech, concluded that the main point of Benedict’s address was to denounce the use of violence in the service of religion. That is certainly a good secondary lesson to take from his remarks, but the full text makes it very clear that Benedict, like the emperor, was using the example of violence simply to introduce his broader point: that “not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature.” And this draws into focus a nearly insurmountable problem for any dialogue between Christianity and Islam because, as Benedict continued, in Islam, Allah’s “will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.” (By “categories,” he means philosophical categories of Western thought.)

For a dialogue to take place, three conditions are necessary:

First, both sides must be interested in pursuing the truth, which requires acknowledging that there is such a thing as truth and that it can be known (or at least approached) through reason.

Second, both sides must represent their own positions truthfully (which also requires that those positions be expressed rationally), and without any intent to deceive. And

Third, each side must be able to take the other’s claims at face value, as truly representing the other’s position.

On each of these points, the Islamic conception of Allah presents a stumbling block.


Is there, then, any hope for a true dialogue between Christianity and Islam? Yes, and it lies in the fact that, in one sense (and perhaps in this sense alone), all men are created equal: God, in His love and mercy, has written His Law on their hearts. Muslims, like all men, no matter what they believe dogmatically, do not live each day as if Allah is capricious, as if the world could be remade at any moment and what was wrong will become right, and what is right will become wrong. Their recognition of this law may be veiled, as St. Paul, in Second Corinthians, declared of the children of Israel: “12 Having therefore such hope, we use much confidence: 13 And not as Moses put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel might not steadfastly look on the face of that which is made void. 14 But their senses were made dull. For, until this present day, the selfsame veil, in the reading of the old testament, remaineth not taken away (because in Christ it is made void). 15 But even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. 16 But when they shall be converted to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.”

Pope Benedict understands that this inescapable fact of human nature gives us hope. At Regensburg, he invited not only Muslims but all of us to take the first step in revealing the law of God written on our hearts by awakening ourselves to the harmony of faith and reason—not the modern, narrow, abstract reason of the post-Christian West which has so much in common with the rejection of reason in Islam, but the reason of classical Greece and Rome and medieval Christendom. “It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason,” Pope Benedict declared, “that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures.”

What he did not say, but which he clearly knows, is that, if our Muslim interlocutors do embrace this reason and reject their own voluntaristic conception of Allah, the dialogue not only can start but will be well under way: because, to return to the early paragraphs of Benedict’s speech, that reason is the Logos, and the Logos is with God, and the Logos is God. Entered into with the intention of seeking the truth, this dialogue ends only in conversion to Christ, the eternal Logos, the unity of Reason and Word.

Full article here.

Related Posts:
Article: Papal transformation – Benedict’s softer touch with Islam
Article: Church-Islam dialogue: the path starts from Regenberg’s Pope
Debate: The Question of Dialogue


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