Stop the presses: Christianity and Islam have serious theological differences! Then, the 60,000-pound question is: What is each side to do? Are reciprocal goodwill and mutual defense of religious freedom guaranteed? Not under Sharia law, which Williams has been amenable to seeing introduced in the British Isles.
Williams will probably be seen in some circles as very bold for “admitting” that Christian doctrine “offends” (why not just “conflicts with,” or “disagrees with?”) Islam. What if he worded it the other way around, and said Islamic doctrine is offensive to Christians? Most likely, people would be offended. Certain parties in particular.
Worst of all, however, Williams’ choice of words — the admission of an “offense” — could be seen as setting the stage for an apology. And indeed, much of Williams’ remarks focuses on Christianity’s past sins — real and imagined. And he fails to make clear that there must never be any apology for the right to believe freely — without discrimination or penalty — and there must never be any apology for the values that have been the bedrock of Western civilization.
Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims, the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday.
Dr Rowan Williams also criticised Christianity’s history for its violence, its use of harsh punishments and its betrayal of its peaceful principles.
Key words: Peaceful principles. Williams seems to continue to labor under the notion that Islam has an identical trust of peaceful principles to return to.
His comments came in a highly conciliatory letter to Islamic leaders calling for an alliance between the two faiths for ‘the common good’.
But it risked fresh controversy for the Archbishop in the wake of his pronouncement earlier this year that a place should be found for Islamic sharia law in the British legal system. […]
The Archbishop’s letter is a reply to feelers to Christians put out by Islamic leaders from 43 countries last autumn.
In it, Dr Williams said violence is incompatible with the beliefs of either faith and that, once that principle is accepted, both can work together against poverty and prejudice and to help the environment.
He also said the Christian belief in the Trinity – that God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost at the same time – ‘is difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims’.
Trinitarian doctrine conflicts with the Islamic view that there is just one all-powerful God.
That’s simply false. The trinitarian view maintains that there is only one God. Note to the Daily Mail: You don’t have to believe it to report it correctly.
Dr Williams added: ‘It is all the more important for the sake of open and careful dialogue that we try to clarify what we do and do not mean by it, and so I trust that what follows will be read in this spirit.’
More moral equivalence and staggering ignorance below:
He told Muslim leaders that faith has no connection with political power or force, and that Christians have in the past betrayed this idea.
‘Christianity has been promoted at the point of the sword and legally supported by extreme sanctions,’ Dr Williams said.
Islam, he continued, has been supported in the same way and ‘there is no religious tradition whose history is exempt from such temptation and such failure.’ […]
Surely, we’ll be getting an apology in kind from the Islamic community forthwith.
‘If we are in the habit of defending each other, we ought to be able to learn to defend other groups and communities as well,’ he said.
‘We can together speak for those who have no voice or leverage in society – for the poorest, the most despised, the least powerful, for women and children, for migrants and minorities; and even to speak together for the great encompassing reality that has no
voice of its own, our injured and abused material environment.’