Peter D. Beaulieu, author of Beyond Secularism and Jihad?: A Triangular Inquiry into the Mosque, the Manger, and Modernity (University Press of America/Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), sent the following note in response to my Dec. 30th blog post, "Fr. Samir, SJ, on the positive and the problematic in Pope Francis' statements about Islam":
dialogue is blurred from before the start for at least two reasons.
First, Christianity is a faith as well as a religion, while Islam
remains a natural religion (with borrowed and remolded Jewish and
Christian trappings). “Faith is born of an encounter with the living
God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon
which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed
by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it
contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the
future opens before us” (Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis, The Light of Faith, 2013).
the two "religions" are therefore assymetrical in that the comparison
to be made is not between the two scriptures, but rather between the
Qur'an as the "word made book" and Christ as "the Word made flesh." The
Qur'an is Mohammed's own report on his own experiences, while the Bible
is witness testimony to the reality of an encounter with Christ, true
God and true Man. In a limited sense, we do worship the same God since
we profess monotheism, but it is this same God who has freely disclosed
his inner life as Triune and himself as infinite and gratuitously
In the early 20th century the Lebanese priest
Niles Gaegae proposed that Islam still is not heretical, technically,
precisely because Mohammed did not really hear orthodox teaching about
the nature of Christ, but instead heard and rejected what he perceived
as "tri-theism" which seemed not much different than the pagan
polytheism of Mecca which he eradicated. He rejected the ambient
heresies of the day (Nestorianism, Monophysitism, etc.) as well as
paganism, but proceeded no farther. (See Lawrence T. Fares, trans., Mary of the Koran, New York: Philosophical Library, 1925/1984).
any event, as a meager starting point, the interreligious (or rather,
intercultural) intersection to be explored might be at the level of
natural religion rather than real or alleged revelation--and hopefully
the universal natural law (however much distorted) which is discovered
directly within the individual witnesses to Christ and the individual
followers of Islam--apart from its confirmation and fulfillment in the
Incarnation as the "new life" or its conflation within an engulfing and
dictated "way of life" under the writings of Shari'a.
Food for thought! Dr.
Beaulieu, by the way, is a founding board member of the G. K. Chesterton
Society of Seattle and a member of the Society of Catholic Social