Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Regensburg Address - Endnotes change nothing

The Vatican has added endnotes to the Pope's Regensburg Address. Note 3 gives the sources for the words of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II and adds

In the Muslim world, this quotation has unfortunately been taken as an expression of my personal position, thus arousing understandable indignation. I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Qur’an, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion. In quoting the text of the Emperor Manuel II, I intended solely to draw out the essential relationship between faith and reason. On this point I am in agreement with Manuel II, but without endorsing his polemic.
Obviously, as with his previous statements, he was sorry for the effect his words had had, not for the words themselves.

Note 5 is interesting.
It was purely for the sake of this statement that I quoted the dialogue between Manuel and his Persian interlocutor. In this statement the theme of my subsequent reflections emerges.
The sentence referred to is
The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature.
The rest of the paragraph reads
The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.[6] Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.[7]
Note 6 merely gives sources, but Note 7 refers us to later in the address, where he speaks of tendencies in late Medieval Christianity (Duns Scotus) towards the position of Ibn Hazm outlined above, tendencies not reflected in Church doctrine.
As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which - as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stated - unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language.... [T]he truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love, as Saint Paul says, "transcends" knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is Logos....Consequently, Christian worship is, again to quote Paul - "λογικη λατρεία", worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12:1).
There is no softening of his position at all and the contrast remains between the Christian belief in a God who does not contradict our reason and the quoted Islamic belief in a God that is completely transcendent, that has no necessary connection to our reason.

(via Dorothy King & Cronaca)

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