Can Islam be Reformed?

We believe the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, but it wasn’t dictated by the Holy Spirit. The authors of Sacred Scripture wrote in their own words and concepts and from their own historical situation and context. The specifics are fluid while the concepts and teachings are firm.  This is why we are happy to have variant readings of certain passages, don’t mind having  the Bible translated  (to really study the Koran you’re supposed to learn Arabic) and allow for varied interpretations among scholars and believers.

To be sure, some fundamentalist Protestants take a literal and uncompromising Islamic-like view of Scripture, and they are often as relentless as most Muslims in their approach to religion.

The problem for a religion of the book is therefore that it is very difficult to entertain the idea of reform or change in any way. As the fundamentalist preacher I grew up with used to say, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.”

Instead of a religion of the book, Catholics have a religion of a person, and that person is Jesus Christ. The Bible is the church’s witness to Jesus Christ. It is the record and reflection of his life and the Old Testament is the history of the world leading up to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. The Koran, on the other hand, is a rule book.

Because Catholicism is a religion of  person, not a religion of a book the whole religion is therefore based on the dignity of persons and their destiny.

Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” In other words the laws, the rules, the disciplines and devotions are all there to serve the salvation of the human person.

The human person is not to be enslaved by the rules, but liberated by them.

Islam, it seems to me, too often has it just the other way around.

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