While Combox Warriors Occupy Themselves Explaining Why the Church is Wrong…

While Combox Warriors Occupy Themselves Explaining Why the Church is Wrong… July 10, 2013

to say that Christians and Muslims both worship the God of Abraham, Pope Francis sends Ramadan greetings to Muslims.


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  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    And I’ll bet the martyred Christians of Syria, Iraq, Egypt and so on (have you heard of the most recent Muslim conquest, the Central African Republic?) are laughing their heads off. Well, something is removing their heads, anyway.

    • This is a spiritual battle. I prefer to view all this as a choice of weaponry. Do you prefer stand-off weapons or the more intimate forms? Do you want to blast the muslims about their failings to be true to God, or do you want to get close, get their permission to have a conversation as a friend, and then clearly explain why Jesus is better thought of as the Messiah than as a prophet?

      Both courses can be legitimately taken, though each course must conform to the truth or any actions taken will be useless. And both courses can be done badly, can be betrayals of the vulnerable.

      We are not required to entirely adopt one course or another. I am glad that I was baptized into the Catholic Church. Had the latin rite hierarchy followed their byzantine brothers into a hard form of resistance to communism in Romania, I might very well have been baptized Orthodox, because those would have been the only priests and churches available for the task (though I never did ask my dad what he would have done in those circumstances). So which was right in post WW II Romania, the byzantines or the latins? Or perhaps moving the left hand and the right hand in two different directions when confronting an opponent can both be right as part of a larger strategy.

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        Excuse me, do you envisage that conversation before or after your throat has been cut? You see, Muslims don’t believe in spiritual struggle.

        • wlinden

          Gee, I had better fly across the pond and shoot my cousin the dervish before he carries out his nefarious intention to cut my throat, which you have just revealed. Or maybe he just does not know what he “really” believes, since you have not told him.
          (We are a very diverse family. From before “Thou shalt love di-ver-si-tee” was declared the eleventh commandment.)

          You are a jerk and a bigot.

        • Huh, that’s funny. I’ve had a couple of Muslim friends, and many more acquaintances and colleagues, and yet somehow my throat is still intact. Clearly something is wrong here …

          • In defense of Fabio, his hyperbole seems quite obvious to me. While the spiritual fight is real and, I believe, ultimately decisive, we neglect the physical plane at our peril which seems to be Fabio’s focus.

            The plain facts are that these killings are generally not started by the street thugs who ultimately hack off christian heads in Pakistan or London, but by learned scholars of the muslim faith who sit in religious (sharia) courts and pronounce sentence of death with the judgment to be carried out by any adult male muslim who agrees with the judgment. This is extremely toxic stuff that has no limiting concept of jurisdiction. It is also unfair to the muslims who are perfectly sensible and would never be violent because by the sharia courts’ standards, they are automatically the court’s bailiffs and enforcers if they will just be faithful and do their duty, executing those judgments on you.

            The thugs do end up disproportionately answering the call as it gives meaning to their dead end lives. But we err in concentrating on the thugs and leave the ones who issue the call alone.

            In short, this is a complicated situation.

            • wlinden

              Sorry, “hyperbole” does not cover blanket assertions about what “Muslims” do or not not believe, which moreover bears a striking resemblance to the sort of blanket assertions I get from Christian-baiters.

              • We are going to have to agree to disagree on the definition of hyperbole. “Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally” is exactly what I am reading in the original. Or do you think that Swift really meant to eat the Irish?

                Charity is sometimes a tough thing to carry out.

                A clarifying question might be “do you really believe that amongst the billion muslims there is not one reasonable one who will not slit your throat amongst them?” at which point I would expect Pablo to elaborate on the nature of his statement, claiming hyperbole or not. That’s up to him. The fact that two commenters disagree on whether he was using hyperbole is a pretty good bit of evidence that asking the question is appropriate.

                • wlinden

                  Swift did not, if I remember correctly, say that Protestants are cannibals. And I certainly do not see “Hyperbole” in Fabio’s statements or in many others by armchair experts on Islam.

                  Would you dismiss “Jews have no concept of integrity” as harmless hyperbole?

                  • Why do you think hyperbole says anything about whether it is harmless or not? It is a rhetorical device which says nothing about the harm of the underlying intended message. Elsewhere on this thread, I am also critical of Fabio’s statements. He is not a perfect advocate for his position. It is my personal opinion that he is not even a very good one. What he is, again in my opinion, is a pot stirrer and a gadfly. That’s a role that has a good and bad side to it.

                    For the record, I could construct both harmless and harmful versions of “Jews have no concept of integrity”. The plain statement is on its face harmful if put in as a stand alone sentence. The sentence “if Israel abandons its heretofore even handed treatment of religious sites, such a betrayal would show that the Jews have no concept of integrity” would be hyperbole but not racist or particularly harmful in context. The sentence would work just as well for the muslims or ourselves, were there a muslim or christian authority that had been heretofore even handed and was considering abandoning that. It would be dumb because people would immediately pull it out of context but that is a different problem.

                    My larger point is that we are all too ready to abandon charity and seek out the worst and not best interpretations to put on words. This is a weakness of the Internet as it is currently constructed. The facial expressions and mitigating gestures and tones that give rich meaning to face to face communications are lacking at present.

                • wlinden

                  “A clarifying question might be “do you really believe that amongst the
                  billion muslims there is not one reasonable one who will not slit your
                  throat amongst them?”‘

                  Well, when I respond to “Christians all advocate X!” by pointing out that I am a Christian and I do not fit their stereotype, Christian-baiters proceed to explain it away by telling me that I am not a “real” Christian.

                  • Did Fabio do that? I might have missed it but I didn’t see him do that. To project the faults of one opponent in one topic on another opponent on a different topic says nothing at all about the second opponent, but much more about you.

                    Let Fabio answer for his own sins, not the sins of others.

          • wlinden

            Who are we going to believe, him or our lying throats?

            • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

              Your brains are made to welcome lies, evidently. To you, there have never been slaughtered Christians in Syria or elsewhere. Why bother arguing with you?

          • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

            I’ve a bunch of Fascist friends. And guess what? I am a foe of Fascism, always have been, and regard tyranny as hateful. What interaction you may have with a person or two proves considerably less than nothing in the face of history.

            • And the face of history is considerably more complex than you are acknowledging. I prefer to address people and situations on a case-by-case basis, rather than assuming millions of people have the exact same attitudes and opinions.

        • I don’t have data on recent attitudes so I will refrain from shooting my mouth off where I don’t have knowledge. The question, however, is not whether they believe in spiritual struggle but whether we do. Catholics generally do.

          So how do you express that in the real world? Or is Catholic belief in christian witness a sham in your opinion?

          The plain facts of military forces in 2013 is that we are physically capable of genocide of a billion muslims. If the battle were only on the physical plane, we could win and relatively quickly.

          But that isn’t the war we’re actually fighting, is it?

          • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

            Who’s “we”? The US government? What do they have to do with the Catholic Church?

            • “We” in this case would be the non-muslims facing Islam’s bloody borders. It would include the entirety of the West along with non-muslim, non-christian military powers like India. The Catholic Church is not alone facing the consequences of sharia courts gone inexcusably harsh and broad. It is that wider potential coalition that needs activation in order to solve this problem.

              I generally understand your call for more muscular action and agree that adjustments should be made to current policy in a broad number of organizations, including the Church. I just think that your presentation leaves you shooting yourself in the foot and confusing a lot of people in the mushy middle on this issue that you would need to win over for what you want to happen. I suspect that your own thoughts might need some refinement as well, based on some good arguments for your position that you yourself are not making.

  • wlinden

    Yeah, how dare he demand a Kumbaya moment. Whatever that is.

  • Barbara Fryman

    I learned this before I knew what a Muslim was. Why is this so hard?

    • Dan C

      Because many who profess Catholicism really are cafeteria Catholics, as Mary Karr notes. For many, it is not moral matters from which they base their cafetria behavior, but it is the choices they make for who their God is. These folks have in their minds that God is Love if one defines love as a really full of anger and retribution and disdain. Or a God of mercy and compassion, if one defines mercy and compassion in very warped ways. Their image of Christ and Father speaks volumes about them.

      What would the martyrs noted in a comment below desire? We can easily presume they, like Christ, love their persecutors and desire for them conversion and, in the eleventh hour, a place at the Heavenly Banquet. They would not be seeking Karma-type retributions on their persecutors, which many of those Catholics wistfully reading Genesis wishing for a return of the God of Old Tedtament retributions desire.

      It is a form of cafetria Catholicism.

  • Joe Carter

    The God of Abraham is Jesus. Muslims deny Jesus is God. How then does the Catholic Church reconcile those facts? Does the pope think that Muslims can worship the Trinitarian God (the only God that exists, of course) and deny him at the same time? (Jesus would say they can’t.)

    • ivan_the_mad

      By that logic, Jews didn’t and don’t worship the God of Abraham either; not even Abraham worshiped the God of Abraham.

      Did the ancient Greeks look upon a completely different moon than we do today, because they thought it was Selene in her chariot rather than a large rock spinning around the earth?

      • Joe Carter

        No, that’s not the logic at all. Muslims do not worship the “God of Abraham” because the God of Abraham is a Trinitarian being. The test is whether the people who worshipped God before the incarnation would recognize Jesus as God. Abraham certainly would.

        ***Did the ancient Greeks look upon a completely different moon than we do today, because they thought it was Selene in her chariot rather than a large rock spinning around the earth?***

        That analogy doesn’t work. Let me give you one that does. Imagine that someone says they honor the pope — a lesbian Episcopalian Wiccan named Gertrude who lives in Des Moines. You say, “That’s not the pope. The pope is named Francis and lives in Rome.” If they said, “We’re talking about the same person, we just have a different understanding” you’d think they were insane.

        God is not an abstract concept that can be applied to whatever people worship. He is a distinct being and was revealed on earth in a distinct person — Jesus. If you do not worship Jesus you are not worshipping God.

        • wlinden

          By your logic, (rabbinic) Jews are not worshiping God. It is its own reductio ad absurdum.

        • ivan_the_mad

          So Jews today don’t worship the God of Abraham?

        • ivan_the_mad

          No, the analogy that is best is two people with a mutual friend. They both know the same person, but they may not know the same things about him, they may not each know him to the same degree. One may even know the mutual friend little enough to assert something false about that person or to deny something that is true. That does not mean they stopped knowing or never knew the mutual friend, only that their knowledge is imperfect.

          “The test is whether the people who worshipped God before the incarnation would recognize Jesus as God. Abraham certainly would.” Really? What did your fool self do to learn this? Call Abraham and all the other Jews who died before the Incarnation on a Magic Phone to Heaven given you by a salamander, along with Magic Spectacles to read The Heavenly Phone Book? I love gratuitous assumptions about what people long dead would do.

          What’s also amusing are your constant references to the Trinitarian God coupled with the assertion that only if you worship Jesus do you worship the God of Abraham. What shit theology you have, and what blithe avoidance of the fact that revelation unfolded throughout time. Then you try to disingenuously try to cover yourself by asserting, without any ability to prove your stupid assertion, that the Jews of the OT would recognize Jesus because NEWSFLASH, some of them didn’t. They even crucified them. Or were they Fake Jews who didn’t actually worship the God of Abraham because of your magical line in the sand, that at the moment of the Incarnation all Jews everywhere didn’t immediately recognize Jesus for who He was and become Christians?

          I’m embarrassed for you.

    • Rosemarie


      As I said in the previous thread, Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “You worship what
      you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the
      Jews.” (St. John 4:22) Now, the Samaritan religion is derived from Judaism and very close to it, arguably closer than Islam is to Judaism (one of the religions from which it is derived). Yet they “did not know” the God that they worshiped as the Jews did. Jesus did not deny that Jews and Samaritans
      worship the same God, but He said that the Samaritans “didn’t know” Him. It is apparently possible to worship a God that you do not know, that you may even have mistaken notions about.

      Similarly,Muslims believe in and worship the one Creator of all things, but without full knowledge of Him and with some mistaken notions. That doesn’t prevent them from worshiping the one true God anymore than the Samaritans were prevented by their relative ignorance. Yet they should still learn and embrace the fullness of truth in Christian revelation.

      • Joe Carter

        ***It is apparently possible to worship a God that you do not know, that you may even have mistaken notions about.***

        I don’t deny that is a possibility. What I do deny is that is it logically possible to worship and deny God at the same time. That is what Muslims do.

        ***Similarly,Muslims believe in and worship the one Creator of all things, but without full knowledge of Him and with some mistaken notions.***

        It’s not similar at all. Denying Christ is not a “mistaken notion.” Muslims are fully aware of the Christian revelation — they just deny it is true. I understand the motivation by saying that we all worship the “same God.” But in reality is is insulting to Muslims. It is essentially saying that they are too dumb to understand that they are really worshipping Jesus no matter how much they want to claim otherwise.

        • ivan_the_mad

          You fail to distinguish between denying God and denying part of the knowledge about God. The latter is what the Muslims do.

          But since you are clearly an irrational bigot, I do not expect you to make such a distinction.

          • Dan C

            I would not suggest irrational bigotry for Mr. Carter’s insistence that Muslims do not worship our God. I suspect this is Mr. Carter’s Evangelicalism and the practical application of this theology.

            As such, with this and so so many other matters, I keep a lot of political and faith “space” between myself and Evangelical Christians. I am not conservative, so I share very few touch points with this brand of Christianity.

            • ivan_the_mad

              Very well. I admit the possibility that it is his fool, illogical theology that is incapable of admitting gradations of knowledge or imperfect knowledge of the same objective reality more perfectly known by others.

              • Dan C

                Should Mr. Carter come back, he can defend himself. However, this explained an aspect of Evangelicalism to me:

                “Evangelicals have a bred-in-the-bone sense that, “If you can’t verbalize your faith, then there’s some doubt as to whether you really know what it is.” ”


                • Dan C

                  If all one has is The Word, and faith through deeds is suspiciously viewed, then the words one uses becomes ultimately important.

        • Rosemarie


          I’m not so sure Muslims are fully aware of Christian doctrines. For instance, many of them think we believe that the Trinity is God, Jesus and Mary, based on a certain Quran verse. To whatever extent they’ve been taught Christian beliefs, it was not always accurate and accompanied by Muslim deconstructions (which basically amounts to knocking down a straw man).

          Is it also insulting to Jews to say that they worship the same God as we do? That they are really worshiping Jesus but are too dumb to realize it?

    • Dan C

      Muslims worship God, but know Him not completely. Many Muslims I know are better Christians than many Christians. So maybe they know more than they are given credit.

      In a brief few years ago for the history of Catholcism, one would claim that there was no salvation outside the Church, and that my Depression era raised parents clearly prayed for pagan babies but learned to disdain Protestantism, especially Evangelical Protestantism.

      Your critique and judgement of Islam and Muslims is the same critique my parents were taught of Evangelical Christianity. I think that was as grave an error as the one you hold toward Islam.

      • Joe Carter

        ***Muslims worship God, but know Him not completely. ***

        So you are saying that Muslims worship Jesus and deny him at the same time? How does that work?

        Also, should we say that anyone who uses the word “god” for the entity they worship (Allah, Baal, themselves, etc.) are also worshipping God, but not completely?

        ***Many Muslims I know are better Christians than many

        No, they’re not. You can’t be a “better Christian” and deny Christ. That’s not even a logical possibility.

        • Dan C

          And here is where we split. It seems that Evangelism requires and relies on the enunciation of certain beliefs. This is not required to the same degree in Catholicism.

          Within Catholicism, multiple avenues to Baptism are available.

          From our Catechism:

          “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.”63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.”

          This is gone into further detail by many theologians. This is not new, either, some liberal concoction for the express purpose of a back door Universalism. And…we do believe that works are tied to faith and grace and intricately entwined, a desperate imperative for our faith actually.
          Finally, ignorant denunciation of Christ is not a matter of subjective moral culpability. Such an individual is open to this Baptism be Desire.

        • Dan C

          Catholicism posits that Christ is present in many ways. As such we know Him in these ways. We can know Him as the Real Presence-the Eucharist, as the Body of Christ-the Church, as in the priests, and as in the poor. Christ is really and truly present in the poor.
          So, Christ can be served in the poor and not be known completely. I suspect this is the most common way.

        • Rosemarie


          >>>Also, should we say that anyone who uses the word “god” for the entity they worship (Allah, Baal, themselves, etc.) are also worshipping God, but not completely?

          No, only those who seek to worship the one supreme Creator above all creatures. Polytheistic “gods” like Baal would be finite beings (if they existed) and so are nothing like the true God. Oneself is definitely a finite being so that doesn’t cut it, either..

  • John Schaefer

    It’s no wonder there have been so many wars because of religious beliefs. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? My God or your God? Are they the same God? Is it the interpretation of the message?

    Who knows! Not even all Christians believe the same things. F1 is correct in offering Ramadan greetings to Muslims. It is respect for others beliefs. We may not agree, but we should respect. F1 understands that.

  • bob

    Does the president of the mormon church get a greeting on Joseph Smith’s birthday? Are there greetings to Jehovah’s Witnesses (not that they commemorate anything)? Is it simply size of a cult that determines whether or not a greeting card
    is in order?

    • I think you might want to hit google before you guess about things like this.


      I think that the authentic Catholic position is an open door and an invitation for all to come through it. The Church is for everybody and while a particular group or movement may be very far from God at present, the Church never gives in to the idea that people are beyond salvation.