Tuesday, May 17, 2016

On Apples and Hand Grenades, or the Virtue of Religious Conquest

Some people - among whom are folks I respect - are getting their panties in a twist over an admittedly tasteless parallel recently drawn by Pope Francis between Mohammed's commandment to wage war on the infidels (Al-Baqarah 191-3) and Christ's commandment to go out and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20):
La Croix: The fear of accepting migrants is partly based on a fear of Islam. In your view, is the fear that this religion sparks in Europe justified? 
Pope Francis: Today, I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew's Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.
As far as Modernist 'coexist' agitprop goes, this is pretty standard fare: 'Don't condemn the Koran just because it can be interpreted as enjoining religious conquest. The same thing can be said of the Bible, you know.' At which point, the listener is supposed to say: 'Gee, I guess you're right. How could I have been so hypocritical?' While mind-numbingly facile, this argument actually works more often than not. Go figure.

Much of the outrage has been directed towards the parallel itself, which the editor-in-chief of one respectable Catholic blog rejected as "non-existent." And I get the point: a command issued by a murderous pedophile to enslave, rape and murder non-Muslims can't really be compared to Christ's command to teach and make disciples. A case of apples and hand grenades painted to look like oranges.

While I sympathize, I think this criticism misses the mark. The truly disturbing aspect of the Pope's statement is the unspoken rejection of all forms of religious conquest inherent in it.

As I've said before, the problem with Muslim fundamentalists is not their fundamentalism, but rather their devotion to an evil creed. Similarly, the problem with jihad is not that it is religious conquest, but that it uses deception, violence and terror to spread that evil creed. Religious fundamentalism is a virtue, provided that it is in the service of divine truth. Religious conquest is a noble undertaking, provided that it uses legitimate means for the spreading of God's Kingdom.

If your take away from each news item reporting yet another act of Islamic terrorism is that it was caused by religious fundamentalism, you've bought into the lie of relativism.

Religious fundamentalism is not the problem. The problem is Islam.

1 comment:

  1. I like your take on this papal statement. Here's a quote from your later post about the martyrs of Lyons:

    "In 177, this popular agitation, for some unknown reason, was suddenly turned against the Christians. The Christians were publicly insulted. In the streets, on the country roads, in the public places, they were attacked, stones were thrown at them."

    This is what will come to us too. Poor Francis helps precipitate this with his foolish comments, and soon paraphrasing: "they will kill us thinking they please God (or Satan…)"



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