Patrick Lang weigns in on Benedict

This from Patrick Lang on Benedict. A very different take than Juan Cole's, equally intriguing.

"Faith, Reason and the University" Benedict XVI

Constantinexidragases "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 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. 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." Benedict XVI


Gripping stuff isn't it? Not for most of us. For a theologian it must be like catnip. I reproduce below the entirety of Benedict's address to the University of Regensburg (where he was once vice-chancellor). I do that so that those who are fascinated by his quotation from the dialog of Manuel Paleologus and the Persian scholar may see the quotation in its proper context rather than in the sensationalized and irresponsible isolation that the mass media placed it in.

0006b5d2f79a1265be3780bfb6fa0000 In fact, Benedict quoted Manuel not to make points about Islam, but, rather to make points about Manuel and the intellectual tradition of Hellenistic thought in which Manuel resided. This pope is engaged in a defense of the rigor of theological discourse within the Christian world. He is certainly one of the leaders of Christendom. He believes that we Christians have become slovenly and confused thinkers and he seeks to restore the clarity of our ideas. I would say that this should not be surprising considering that he is a German university professor by "trade." In other words, this talk was not about Islam at all, and the Byzantine/Persian dialog quotation was incidental to the argument. If that was so, then why have we seen such a fierce and heated response from so many (not all) Muslims?

Read more:

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

Also by this author
51st: Latest News

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Must Reads