Sunday, September 24, 2006

Compare Christianity and Islam: a readers comment

A reader left this anonomously on the Chiesa post, below. I thought it was worth featuring.

The media often link religions and violence, coming up with the secularist, "they are all the same aren't they" arguement. But... Christianity (and Islam) is not primarily the practice of its adherents. It is the written revelation. In the Christian revelation there is NO sanction for violence or even the use of politics to extend the kingdom. ("Our warfare is not against flesh and blood etc"). When a Christian says that governments should do this or that he is at BEST applying a Christian mind to a worldly problem.In fact we are commanded to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God that which is His. So Christians are free to disagree with Pat Robertson and are likely to do so. However this is not the same in Islam. Many are the unrescinded references to the use of proactive force against unbelievers.


Anonymous said...

Islam is inhuman, and contrary to the rationality of God.
God according to Islam could create a stone that even he couldn't move.

Michael Petek said...

It is true that, in the Christian revelation there is no sanction for violence or the use of politics to extend the kingdom.

This is because the Kingdom of God is fully realised already in His necessarily absolute dominion over all things created, which is conferred on Christ as Man and vindicated by the Last Judgement.

Godf does not give the sword to the Christian in baptism, but only when he enlists in the armed forces or its political supervisory organs.

It is for the civil ruler to use the sword at his discretion under the law, which might disclose a just cause for war arising from genocide or crimes against humanity committed against Christians, or aggression in a Christian state, in furtherance of a false religion.

In Islam the sword is given to each believer, or at any rate to each male believer, on recitation of the shahada (profession of faith), for this religion commands its followers to seek worldly power and empire.

Anonymous said...

Civil leraders, Michael, Christians would hope would behave in a Christian way. Jesus' teaching is simple, and demonstrated at every confirmation service when the bishop strikes the cheek of the confirmandi.

Michael Petek said...

"Turn the other cheek", anonymous is sooo misunderstood, because of what is lost in translation. Here is the passage, with the gaps filled in:

"If a man strikes you on the right cheek (with the back of the hand, as one strikes a slave), offer him the other also (so he has no choice but to hit you with his fist, as one strikes an equal)."

"And if someone takes you to court for your cloak, give him your shirt also. (And walk out of the courthouse stark naked)."

And if one of the occupation troops forces you (as Roman law allows him to do) to carry his pack (the regulation limit of) one mile, go with him two miles. (The sergeant will never believe him when he says you insisted).

In other words, Jesus was counselling some harmless bloody-mindedness.

A while ago the Chaldean (Iraqi) Catholic Bishop said, while speaking of turning the other cheek, that if you do it too often you eventually run out of cheeks!

Finally, look at the context in which Jesus was speaking. He was a sacral King exhorting His subjects to keep the peace among themselves as any King would do.

Secondly, a sacred King will ideally take into his hands only sacred matters and will serve as the representative of heaven, conferring legitimacy on earthly government. He will not himself use the sword, but political governors will do so with his authority.

Jesus is a priest, as were the Emperors of Japan when they were considered divine, and the pre-Christian King of the Hungarians, the kende.

Political and military affairs belonged, in Japan, to the Shogun, and in pre-Christian Hungary by a kind of "junior" King known as the gyula.

Finally, one obvious reason why Jesus was Himself non-violent is that you don't need the strength of man's arm if you are God and can silence the wind and the waves, and make the forces of nature do whatever you want, with a word!

Philip Wroe said...

Michael, I do not know where you get your scripture quotations from. This is certainly not from any canonical Catholic text, nor is it with the Tradition of how we interpret scripture, or understand God.
Indeed it is a rather disgusting perversion of everything we believe.
I find it blasphemous!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Michael I feel forced to agree with Philip, this is gross distortion of Holy Scripture. Please be moderate in your comments, otherwise I will have to delete them.

Michael Petek said...

Father, what specifically are you objecting to? If it's the texts on "turn the other cheek", etc, I refer you to:

I have checked this, and I am certain that the ancients would strike an equal with the fist, and a slave with the back of the hand. An ancient law decreed that if you hit an equal with a fist you were fined four days's wages. But if you hit him with the back of your hand the fine was a hundred times that amount, for the insult.

It was laid down in the Code of Hammurabi: if an inferior dared hit a superior with the back of the hand, punishment was 60 public lashes with an ox whip.

All this is part of the context in which the ancients would have understood the scriptures which were, after all, written in the first instance for them. Another example is the parable of the Prodigal Son - we Westerners often miss the point that, for a young man to ask his father for his share of the inheritance was tantamount in that culture to wishing his father dead.

And when we read of the father running down the road to meet his returning son, we should remember that it was (and I think still is) considered undignified in the Middle east for a man older than forty to run.

If it's about the resemblance of Jesus to the sacral kings of pre-Christian antiquity, I would say that we should not be surprised at finding some remarkable points of resemblance which are, unfortunately, used by some anti-Catholics to accuse us of pagan practices.

In fact, it is paganism that mimics Christianity, firstly because Satan likes to ape God, secondly that as a master counterfeiter he will fashion an imitation as close as possible in resemblance to the genuine article, thirdly because pre-Christian paganism was (and still is) in large measure an expression of Man's futile attempt to find God in his own strength, and to meet his religious needs apart from Christ.

If you are objecting to the reason I give for Jesus' Personal non-violence, I would have thought it self-explanatory. Jesus chose to live the life of a private person, not as a soldier or public official, who alone has the power of the sword, which he must use only under law and therefore in accordance with right reason.

But since Jesus is God He has absolute control of the forces of nature which, as we know, can and do kill and destroy. If He causes them to do so, then that is His right, for He can give and take away life as He pleases.

In fine, I can assure you that my conscience is clear on this one.

Michael Petek said...

Pardon me, it seems the URL in my previous posting didn't come out right. Here it is again:

Michael Petek said...

Here's a cracking article by Dennis Prager: