Guest: Dr Mark Durie, Anglican Minister in Melbourne, Australia.
In a feature article by Mark Durie in The Australian, Islam: Creed of the Sword, I was amazed to read the following:
At one point Christ says:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
This is sometimes cited as evidence for Jesus’ militancy, but the statement occurs in an extended passage where Jesus is advising his disciples on the inevitability of persecution.
The sword he refers to is the one that will be raised against them.
I had always assumed that Matthew 10:34 was an explicit endorsement by Jesus for using the sword – promoting religion through violence.
So I invited Mark Durie to come on the show to discuss this matter some more – along with other cases that I had always assumed proved that Christianity endorsed coercion of some sort.
Topics covered include …
The meaning of Matthew 10:34.
The meaning of Luke 22:36 – “He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.?? How does Dr.Durie account for this verse? What is the context of Jesus’ statement?
Reading the core texts of Islam: what picture of Mohammad do they draw?
The bad history of Christianity – the Crusades. How do they compare to and contrast with Islamic jihad? Were the Crusades primarily an aggressive or defensive war on the part of the Christians? How did the theology that developed during the Crusades lead to a departure from the Christian scriptures?
The influence of the pre-Christian Viking spirit and Norse religion on the Crusades. The difference between how Christians and Muslims draw on their religions in times of war.
Were Christians allowed to continue practicing Christianity in Islamic lands? What options were open to those conquered by Islamic warriors? How does Christianity respond to apostates? How does Islam respond?
The persecution of heretics under Christianity. Were the IRA Christian terrorists? The Pope’s speech regarding violence in Islam: what was the essence of it?
“Direct Action??. Today’s trend toward nihilism. A connection between the early Christians and the Greek tradition. When did Islam “lose its way??? The danger of stereotyping. The Islamic view of “peace”.
From my intro to this show:
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m still flying high on the Pope Benedict’s 9/12 speech.
5 years and one day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the Pope quoted 14th Century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, saying to an educated Muslim:
Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
Despite the many reports claiming the Pope had blundered, I believe he was right on target – at two levels.
First of all this speech was an invitation to the Islamosphere to renounce violence. But what did we see?
We saw the most ardent supporters of the “Religion of Peace” rioting and pledging to murder the Pope.
Second, and at least as important was how the Pope identified one of the most crucial issue of the 21st Century: That morality and violence are incompatible. Not just religion and violence, but morality and violence.
Read his speech carefully, and you’ll see that I’m right.
In fact the Pope went one step further. So let me add a third point. The Pope backed up his position by invoking the Greeks – the founders of democracy, debate, open discussion, and REASON.
Here’s a quote from Ayn Rand which I believe is relevant:
Aristotle may be regarded as the cultural barometer of Western history. Whenever his influence dominated the scene, it paved the way for one of history’s brilliant eras; whenever it fell, so did mankind.
And that’s why I believe that the Pope may well have done a “Thomas Aquinas”.
Thomas Aquinas, the man who reintroduced Aristotle to the West.
By invoking the Greeks, the Pope has raised Aristotle. By raising Aristotle, he has helped the world to get back on track and to rediscover reason, life, and liberty.
So, as an Atheist, let me just say: God Bless the Pope!