Tuesday, September 19, 2006

a reasonable faith?

I wish my lectures were as interesting as those of the Pope! Deliver a lecture one quiet Tuesday on a University Campus and suddenly the world is talking. A full (Vatican sanctioned) translated transcript is here.

Some thoughts:
– by quoting the work and words of Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, we realise that religious dialogue is not new.
– the Pope seems careful to note the trajectory in the Prophet Mohammed’s thought; from a religion that does not utilise compulsion, to Holy War.
– the Pope seems quite naive in his highlighting of a quote regarding Muslim violence, yet makes no reference to historical Christian violence. Why not make some attempt to disentangle violence from Christian history, especially given it was the Catholic church who spent so much energy in the Middle Ages “compelling” people come in?

However, the focus of the lecture is not the place of violence in Islam. Rather the Pope poses the question: In what ways might the discussion of faith be conducted? The Pope suggests that it be done on the basis of reason, which he defines as logos, as creative and self-communicative thought.

In doing so he not only runs the risk of drawing protest from Muslim quarters. In the lecture he critiques (Do any of these groups feel like a protest?)
– indigenous theology and contextualisation (because it falls outside what the Pope applauds as the historical fusion of Christianity and Hellenisation)
– a Protestant trajectory of sola scriptura (because to read Scripture you need to interpret Scripture) and
– a modernity that relies on a fact/value split (because to reason without considering “values” is a limited form of reason).

The lecture is thus a careful attempt to claim a “reasonable” faith, that if successful, allows faith (not as blind, but as “reasonable”) a place at the table of university dialogue.

Posted by steve at 12:17 PM


  1. Steve,

    Today’s Age newspaper had a great article covering this situation and it deals with the context very well. It is available online at http://www.theage.com.au


    Comment by Andrew — September 19, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

  2. thanks, this was very helpful. the news have not bothered to report the main thrust of his talk ….and left me wondering, This pope is naive or deliberately provocative.

    Comment by blogpastor — September 21, 2006 @ 6:36 am

  3. Just a theologian who needs to (quickly) realise that he is now Pope or he will keep getting his people killed and churches fire bombed!

    Comment by Andrew — September 21, 2006 @ 11:52 am

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