At NRO be sure to take in every word of Samuel Gregg’s exceptional answers in a short interview on questions that have to be asked about Islam. Gregg brings us back in particular to Benedict XVI’s insightful Regensburg Address.
Here is a sample:
GREGG: Benedict’s lecture is ever relevant because one of its central arguments is that a religion’s understanding of God’s nature has immense implications for its capacity to live peacefully with those who do not share the same faith or, for that matter, have no religious faith. A religion that regards God as sheer Will, operating above and beyond reason, cannot ultimately object to the notion that such a God may command its adherents to do unreasonable things. For if God is ultimately unreasonable and the Creator of the universe, then so too are the people created in His image. Hence, if such an unreasonable God commands equally unreasonable humans to do something utterly irrational — such as slaughter cartoonists, fly planes into buildings, axe to death Jews praying peacefully in a synagogue, behead Christian children in the Middle East, kill Nigerian as Boko Haram has done, the list is endless — not only can we not object on grounds that such actions are unreasonable and intrinsically evil, but we must simply submit to the irrational Deity’s desire for blood. In other words, whether we like it or not, there is a theological and religious dimension to what happened in Paris — and what is happening in Syria and Iraq, what occurred on 9/11, and what Islamic jihadists keep doing all around the world — and we ignore this at our own peril. That’s another reason why it is so embarrassing and self-defeating for people like President Obama, President Hollande, and Prime Minister David Cameron to go on repeating, mantra-like, that Islamic jihadism has nothing to do with Islam. Of course it has something to do with Islam. That’s why it’s called Islamic jihadism. [If we don’t admit that what is going on is also a religious war, we won’t be able to deal with the challenges we face effectively.]
Q: Why was Regensburg so controversial at the time?
GREGG: It was controversial because in one relatively short address (one that I think will be remembered as one of the 21st century’s most important talks), Pope Benedict managed to upset a number of groups. First, by highlighting the central theological issue — Is the Islamic understanding of God that He is primarily or purely Voluntas? — that must be addressed if Islamic jihadism is to be countered, he annoyed not just some Muslims but also those liberal Westerners who want to treat Islamic jihadism as if theology and religion have nothing to do with it. Many professional interfaith dialoguers also didn’t like the Regensburg address because it highlighted just how much of their discussion was utterly peripheral to the main game and consisted in many instances of happy talk that avoided any serious conversation about the real differences that exist between many religions. It also annoyed those who believe that all religions are ultimately the same and of equal worth. That’s obviously not true, but saying such things in a relativistic world that is increasingly “uncomfortable” with reasoned argument (let alone logic) and more at ease with feelings talk is bound to make you plenty of enemies today.
Sam writes and speaks with great clarity. Go there and read the rest.
For more on the Regensburg Address…