The Cat Among the Pigeons

The Cat Among the Pidgeons
by pragerfan

Ed. Note - October 15, 2023: In light of Hamas' religiously-motivated attack on Israel, some of the following may have to be re-considered. Islam commands its adherents to murder Jews and has demonstrated its capacity for abject evil. Civilizations that wish to survive can no longer afford to be so gracious.

October 25, 2019

When I used to be on Twitter, a follower and I got into a conversation as follows.

I wrote:
The problem is Islamic *values* (rooted in its theology), not individual Muslims. The values of Islam are incompatible with the US Constitution & Western Civilization. However there are some individual Muslims who reject these values and embrace Western Civ, like @Imamofpeace.
She answered back:
Sure. But they are few and far between. If you condemn sharia law that's great... but most wont. Oh and their founder was a pedo so I'm very uncomfortable with that too. Oh and I love you imam of peace but you need to come out of the beast. It is nothing but a dead religion. I say the same thing for Catholics. Come to the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved by His true not follow a charlatan.
To which I replied:
Not to put the cat among the pigeons, but how do we know that Jesus doesn't operate in the hearts of Catholic followers, or that Roman Catholics are not saved by Him? Doesn't Christ save whom He will in the way that He wishes? Can we humans set limits on His saving power?
And she wrote back in two tweets:
Amen. I get what your saying and I used to be a Muslim apologist also. I have learned waaaay to much about the religion of "peace" to support it anymore. Not everything is ok if its westernized. We dont want a religion written by a mad man to be ok. Its not.

Muslims came out of the catholic your homework...the clerics and priests robes are interchangeable. Many Catholics are saved but to still meet with the catholic church amongst all the relics and pagan imagery...I dont understand that.
A response to this deserves more justice than a tweet or two on Twitter. So let's see if we can unpack this.

I get what you're saying and I used to be a Muslim apologist also.

Islam has serious moral and theological problems, and its notion of submission ("Islam" means submission) is quite problematic. I do not apologize for Muslims and I do not make an "apology" for Islam in the classical sense of "apologia," or defense.

As Dennis Prager wrote years ago:
Muslims need what most Christians and Jews have experienced — separation of church and state; interaction with other faiths and with modernity; and reform. Islam needs to compete with secularism, not outlaw it, and to allow competing ideologies within Islam. In religion, as in politics, when there is no competition, there is corruption and intolerance.
As I noted above there are Muslims who embrace ethical monotheism and are crying for reform. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Muslim, is one of them. @Imamofpeace is another. There can be good individual Muslims even though the religion is seriously flawed and needs to be reformed.

If you condemn sharia law that's great ... but most won't.

@Imamofpeace does. As does Ali. As do a few others. So yes, while it's true most won't, some do. Credit should be given where it is due. I have no issue with the theology of sharia law because I generally do not judge theology. But behavior can be morally assessed and for that reason sharia law is incompatible with Western Civilization.

Not everything is ok if its westernized. We dont want a religion written by a mad man to be ok. Its not.

But what specific theological tenets of the religion is she referring to here? If someone invented a religion in which the earth was held up on the back of a turtle, and that turtle held up on the back of another turtle, and so on, ad infinitum, he might be mad, but we can't conclude that there is anything fundamentally morally wrong with the religion provided that its adherents do good. So more precision is needed. Again, this is one of the problems on Twitter, and why I decided to write a separate response and post it here.

She makes the comment that Mohammed was a pedophile. Perhaps he was. I don't know enough about the history of Islam to say one way or another. While I'm not saying she's wrong, I do know we have to be careful about superimposing the values of modernity on the past. But even if Mohammed were a pedophile 1400 years ago, what does that have to do with today?. Rather, are the adherents of this religion doing good today? Or are they doing evil? There are pedophiles of all faiths and no faith. Many Jews in the Old Testament were quite far from perfect (King David himself had someone murdered), but that does not invalidate Judaism.

If contemporary Islam teaches pedophilia is normative, then this teaching needs to be dealt with in the religion's reformation.

She goes on to say:

Muslims came out of the catholic your homework

Islam arose in the 6th or 7th century AD. However, the Catholic Church was not recognized as such until after the Great Schism of 1054. Prior to the Schism, the Christian Church wasn't known as the Roman Catholic Church. It was known as the Christian Church. Yes, Christians dwelled in lands that were controlled by Islam (mainly as second-class citizens); however, to assert that "Muslims came out of the catholic church" is historically putting the cart before the horse. There wasn't a Catholic Church for the Muslim religion to spring out from. Islam borrowed some elements from Christian antiquity (such as the visitation of Gabriel) but it was from first to last an independent development. Muslims did not "come out" of Christianity in the same way that say, Christianity "came out" of Judaism.

I say the same thing for Catholics. Come to the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved by His true not follow a charlatan.

So it was at this point I put the cat among the pidgeons. How does my follower know for certain that Jesus doesn't live in the hearts of Roman Catholics? It's impossible to prove that He doesn't — or that He does. The Roman Catholic Church has existed for at least 1,000 years. It has significant — though not absolute — claim to Apostolic succession which the Protestant churches lack. While the Pope today is Leftist who has done great damage to the Catholic Church, his office isn't that of a charlatan, and he is still considered to be by 1.6 billion Catholics the Supreme Pontiff, the head of the Christian Church on Earth.

Therefore, For Catholic Christians, he possesses great authority. The Eastern Orthodox Church regards the Pope as Bishop of the Western Church and Rome as the "prima inter pares" (first among equals) of the patriarchates of Christian antiquity (Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinope, Antioch). The office of the Pope and the man who occupies the Papal chair are important but distinct, regardless of the extent to which we may disagree concerning his moral authority or ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

the clerics and priests robes are interchangeable

I am assuming here she means the imams' and priests' robes are interchangeable. But the vestments of the Roman Catholic Church derive from the vestments of the Orthodox Church, and the vestments of the Orthodox Church are loaded with symbolism regarding the salvific work of Christ, St. Paul's "Armor of God," and so forth. It is impossible to equate these vestments with those of a Muslim imam. Now, in dismissing the vestments perhaps she is dismissing the entire notion of hierarchical religion, but this runs into problems as Dennis Prager explains here.

Many Catholics are saved but to still meet with the catholic church amongst all the relics and pagan imagery

What specific "relics" and which specific "pagan imagery" are found in a Catholic Church? I've been to many beautiful Cathedrals both in the United States and in France, and I've not seen "pagan imagery." In some medieval cathedrals one might find images of gargoyles or demons or even the Devil, which exist to remind people of the presence of evil in the world. "Many Catholics are saved" seems to be a backtrack because my objection that we cannot set limits on God's divine power to save people is simply unanswerable. A "relic" is, properly defined, the earthly remains of a great saint. Some believe that relics do have miracle-working power. To attribute this miracle-working power to the Devil or to paganism seems incongruent with the history of relics in the Christian Church. And I say that as someone who is somewhat skeptical regarding the power of relics themselves.

This person seems to have a lack of fundamental grounding in the history of pre-Schism and post-Schism Christianity. If I had to guess, she comes from a Evangelical church, probably fundamentalist, in which any authority above its local pastor is viewed with a jaundiced eye. I spent 20 years in such churches — and God bless them by the way. I have no issue with Evangelicals. They are some of the finest, most devout Christians one will ever meet. But one can be fine and devout, and still have an incorrect or incomplete grasp of Christian history.

Protestants don't generally accept the principle of Apostolic succession, so they can't know whether their understanding of history and Scripture is correct according to what was believed "in every time, everwhere, and by all." Protestantism is essentially D.I.Y. theology, but many people — including myself — find it difficult to "be your own theologian." That is why we rely on Apostolic succession, Church history, the Liturgical texts, the prayers of the church, and so on. These are of course not equal to Scripture, but they are given to us by the Holy Spirit, can illuminate Scripture, and can help to place Christian truth in its correct context — the context of its time.