Sunday, July 23, 2006

I Don't Believe It

Perhaps many people who know me would assume this, but coming to this conclusion was no simple formality. I am, I believe by temperment, a person who hesistates at putting firm stakes in the ground. In most matters I get pulled in by the validity and limitations of various positions regarding the same issue and at the best of times can act as mediator between opposing sides. At the worst of times this can lead to a general sense of ambivalence. This can be frustrating for myself and others (eh, rudy).
Developing the character of Isaakii in August 1914, Alexander Solzhenitsyn writes,

He was confused by the plethora of contending truths and agonized at the fact that each of them seemed so convincing. [At university] he was given Lavrov and Mikhailovsky to read and - how true they seemed to be. Then he read Plekhanov, and there was truth again - and so beutifully consistent. Kropotkin also went straight to his heart and was no less true. And when he came to read Vekhi, he shuddered - it was the complete reverse of all he had read before, yet true, piercingly true!

For better or worse this is how I have responded to many varied and diverse texts and ideas.
In reading the Quran I carried much of this thinking with me. I found in the Quran many expressions which, as a Christian, I could offer full assent to. However, I came to a section which drove home the point about recognizing or denying God's revelation (see the section entitled "The Heights").

Who is more wicked than the man who invents falsehoods about God or denies his revelations?

However, as I mentioned in my old blog ( the Quran places firm restrictions on how I can understand the revelation of who Jesus is. I don't know enough about Islam to know the extent to which such texts can be and are interpreted however I feel that without denying those aspects which accord with the Christian Bible I must reject the Quran as authoritative revelation. Again, it may be that for many Christians this would seem a matter of course. And I must re-iterate that much in the Quran resonates with what I recognize as truth. However, I believe that in rejecting the Quran as a whole as divine revelation I hope that I am given it the respect that it is due. The question I would ask to anyone who may be reading this is whether I would be respecting the message of the Quran by saying that God is Three-in-One and that Allah is One and Muhammed is his prophet? I'd love some feedback.


Anonymous said...

I would say that your first statement regarding your feelings about the Qur'an negates the later statements. How can you respect something that you are rejecting, claiming as fundmentally false? It seems kind of like that 'I love you...BUT...' statement that everyone loves. The fact that you are seeking outward affirmation regarding your feelings toward the Qur'an suggests that on some level you do not really want to respect it and want someone to tell you this is okay.

How would you feel if someone said to you that they respect Christianity...BUT, thought that Jesus was not the son of God, he was only a guy with some big bright ideas.

How do you think Muslims would feel hearing that? Respected or patronized?

Unknown said...

Well perhaps in the end I can't respect the Quran, but I certainly do not view it that way right now. I can and have rejected many ideas from family and friends while holding the highest respect for them.
How I might feel? Well essentially this is what I heard the Quran saying to me. Jesus was a prophet of God, but was not God. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Sometimes in the face of such comments I have felt anger, sometimes ambivalence, sometimes condecension, sometimes insecurity.
I am just concerned that I am not respecting another person's belief by downplaying the differences between them. And also from my own belief, respecting my God.

hineini said...

Without getting into a huge discussion about universalism I like to remember Jesus' response to the Samaritan woman when asked about "who is right". Not theological allies to say the least, Jews and Samaritans it could be argued, were cast as opponents. Jesus spoke about the Samaritan, being the other to the New Testiment Jewish consciousness, in terms of demands of unlimited responsibilty for Samaritans (Levinas) from the listeners of Jesus. Jesus avoided theological clarification with the woman. What he was trying to communicate, I still find a bit ambiguous but it seems to me to not be a perpetuation of exclusion and emphasis on differences but instead, in my opinion, a move towards conciliation or even solidarity.

Unknown said...

there is a good chance that i tried to extend myself too far in this post. i suppose the move i tried to make was that any hope hope of understanding and solidarity should come through a thoroughgoing acknowledgement of differences.

thanks for picking this back up. i would add more (and post more) but just too tired these days.

Anonymous said...

Some Muslims view Christians, etc. as Muslims also, because they consider the teachings of all the prophets who came before Muhummud to be part of Islam. They, not all of course, view the succession of prophets as an evolution and building in divine or spiritual developement or knowledge. However one wishes to define this somewhat ethereal term.