Are Islam’s Allah and Christianity’s God the Same Deity? | University Abbey

My virtual friend Carson Clark discusses in tis post the tough question of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Here are just two comments on this matter:

  1. Until about a century ago, the unanimous answer of Christians was a resoundiong  ‘yes’. We need to ask ourselves what made us all to of a sudden doubt it.
  2. This question cannot be answered legitimately if we cannot also add to it the question if Christians and Jews worship the same God. If we answer yes to this question and no to the second, we are in a blatant contradiction.


Visit the post for more.

Source: Are Islam’s Allah and Christianity’s God the Same Deity? | University Abbey

Miroslav Volf – In Light of the Paris Attacks, is it Time to Eradicate Religion?

Miroslav Volf1

Paris is where a long trail of blood and tears, meandering through the centuries and from continent to continent, has now stopped — for a brief while.

The Islamic State has taken the responsibility for the 129 dead and more than 350 injured, almost 100 of them seriously. In Paris as in many other places, the hands that pulled the triggers of Kalashnikov rifles and pulled the fuses of bombs to kill the innocent people belonged to men and women in whose hearts burned the fires of religious zeal.

Religion, it would seem, breeds violence. Far from being great, God might be thought terrible.

In a globalized world, the terror of God’s crazy-eyed followers is threatening lives, peace and prosperity of everyone on the planet. We are tempted to conclude: The sooner that humanity either eradicates or quarantines off religion, the better our world will be. This conclusion would be too hasty, however. Continue reading “Miroslav Volf – In Light of the Paris Attacks, is it Time to Eradicate Religion?”

Executive Summary of 120 Islamic Scholars Addressed to Daesh

(RNS1-sept24) Nihad Awad, center, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, and more than 10 Muslim-American leaders Wednesday (Sept. 24) endorse a letter written by more than 100 Islamic scholars that denounces ISIS by relying on sacred Muslims texts. For use with RNS-MUSLIM-SCHOLARS, transmitted on September 24, 2014, Religion News Service photo by Lauren Markoe.
Religion News Service photo by Lauren Markoe

1. It is forbidden in Islam to issue fatwas without all the necessary learning requirements. Even then fatwas must follow Islamic legal theory as defined in the Classical texts. It is also forbidden to cite a portion of a verse from the Qur’an—or part of a verse—to derive a ruling without looking at everything that the Qur’an and Hadith teach related to that matter. In other words, there are strict subjective and objective prerequisites for fatwas, and one cannot ‘cherry-pick’ Qur’anic verses for legal arguments without considering the entire Qur’an and Hadith.

2. It is forbidden in Islam to issue legal rulings about anything without mastery of the Arabic language.

3. It is forbidden in Islam to oversimplify Shari’ah matters and ignore established Islamic sciences.

4. It is permissible in Islam [for scholars] to differ on any matter, except those fundamentals of religion that all Muslims must know.

5. It is forbidden in Islam to ignore the reality of contemporary times when deriving legal rulings. Continue reading “Executive Summary of 120 Islamic Scholars Addressed to Daesh”

Why Do People Become Islamic Extremists?

What makes someone become an Islamic extremist? Is it poverty? Lack of education? A search for meaning? Haroon Ullah, a senior State Department advisor and a foreign policy professor at Georgetown University, shares what he discovered while living in Pakistan.

These Men Tried To Kill Each Other. Now They’re United For Peace.

Source: These Men Tried To Kill Each Other. Now They’re United For Peace.


This is an amazing story of reconciliation between Muslims and Christians in NIgeria. I have written previously about this on my blog. You may find HERE a link tothe documentary.

Danut Manastireanu – Interviu pentru cotidianul Adevarul

Ramona Iacobute
Ramona Iacobute

In urma cu putin timp am avut deosebita placere a unei convorbiri prietenesti cu Ramona Iacobute, jurnalist in cadrul echipei din Iasi a ziarului Adevarul. Am discutat despre credinta, despre secularizare, despre islam si islamofobie, despre criza refugiatilor sirieni si multe altele. O parte a acestui dialog si-a gasit locul in interviul publicat astazi, 21 octombrie, 2015, de cotidianul Adevarul.

Redau mai jos prima parte a interviului.

* * *

Ieşeanul doctor în Teologie ajuns în marile zone de conflict ale lumii: „Criza refugiaţilor e un turnesol pentru Europa. Arată lipsa de coerenţă, lipsa unui lider.”


Dănuţ Mănăstireanu (60 ani), cu o vastă experienţă în zonele de conflict şi la catedrele universităţilor care au cursuri de istoria religiilor, îşi expune punctul de vedere în privinţa crizei imigranţilor din Siria şi a evoluţiei religiilor în Europa. Continue reading “Danut Manastireanu – Interviu pentru cotidianul Adevarul”

He Named Me Malala – The Trailer

Take a first look at HE NAMED ME MALALA, a documentary about Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s life, story and personal journey as an education activist. Pledge to see the film only in theaters this October at

Directed by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for “Superman”), the film shows us how Malala, her father Zia and her family are committed to fighting for education worldwide.

The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained

Why is the refugee crisis all over the news? How is this related to Syria? Why should we care at all?

Mesajul unui pastor din Orientul Apropiat

Dragi pastori din Europa,

Salutări în Hristos,

Ne aflăm într-o perioadă de timp foarte critică în ceea ce privește refugiații care se îngrămădesc să intre în țările voastre. Aveți o oportunitate de aur. Fie o acceptați, fie o pierdeți și pierdeți și Europa pentru totdeauna.

Familiile care ajung pe țărmurile țărilor voastre sunt zdrobite, rănite și nevoiașe. Un bun venit călduros le-ar putea schimba perspectivele și convingerile numaidecât. Ei fug de tirania islamului și se află într-o luptă reală în ceea ce privește credințele lor. Ei au crescut cu mentalitatea că fac parte din cea mai bună națiune și religie creată vreodată pe pământ și creierele lor sunt spălate să creadă că toți ceilalți sunt pierduți. Nu li s-a permis niciodată să gândească sau să se îndoiască de aceste lucruri. Li s-a spus că vin de la Dumnezeu. Continue reading “Mesajul unui pastor din Orientul Apropiat”

Message of A Palestinian Christian to ‘Christians United for Israel’

My name is Elizabeth Daoud. I, like over a million Palestinians, am both Palestinian and Christian. I actually come from the Assyrian Orthodox Church, the first and original church of Christians in the Middle East. My parents were born in Palestine and have a long blood line from Jerusalem and Bayte Sahour. Many members of my family were first hand victims of the “nakbah” and had to flee their homeland after being expelled from their homes by Zionist militias, leaving them without the right to return to their land, even to this day. Today in Palestine, Christianity is experiencing what some believe is a crisis. The plight of Palestinian Christians, similar to what Palestinian Muslims are going through, is daily injustice at the hands of oppressive, doctoral and inhumane police forces of the Israeli government. This is occurring in both the West Bank and Gaza, where my Palestinian people live under a brutal and illegal military occupation, and also inside Israel itself, where Palestinians, Muslim and Christian, live as second-class citizens.

Palestinian Christians, like their Muslim brothers and sisters, have lived under Israeli policies of occupation and injustice while many living in the West deny this fact. Many Palestinian Christians feel betrayed by Christians living in North America and Europe who support the state of Israel and the oppression of the Palestinian people. We see them as hypocritical, standing by a state that has left us Palestinians, indiscriminately Christian and Muslim, without a state for over half a century.

Today, Palestinian Christians live under harsh, extreme oppression and apartheid policies. While Christian and Muslim Palestinians living in the West Bank under the heavy hand of martial law are not permitted to vote, undocumented Jewish settlers are subject to civil law and are allowed to vote in Israeli elections. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who fought to end Apartheid in South Africa, has even embraced the movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until they respect my people’s equal rights, an end to the occupation and the return to the homeland which Israel expelled them from, saying, “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces … Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.” Palestinian land continues to be confiscated and Palestinians continue to be humiliated by the Israelis for their religious beliefs. They were almost unable to celebrate Christmas in 2014 due to riots and street fights caused by the Israeli Police. They experience unemployment, poverty and illegal occupation. Moreover, they are routinely prohibited from visiting one of the most holy sites of Christianity: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem, the church that commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection from the dead.

As a Palestinian Christian, it is truly upsetting and disappointing to see Christians United for Israel justify the oppression of Palestinian Christians under the banner of Christian values. Palestinian Christians don’t have the smallest right to visit even the holiest of sites that started Christianity because of Israeli policies. How can Christians United for Israel be in support of this when indigenous Christians are being prevented from exercising Christianity in the very place that Jesus walked. I end this by calling upon CUFI to please stop justifying oppression, persecution and repression of my people in the name of the message of the Bible and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Elizabeth Daoud is a Rutgers Business School senior double majoring in finance and management information systems.

(Source, HERE)

The Peacemaking Palestinian Evangelicals of Israel

AS Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded cantankerous negotiations to finalise his right-wing cabinet, Palestinian-Israeli evangelicals were hoping for something better.

Alienated by campaign rhetoric stigmatising Arab citizens as an electoral threat, they turned in response to the source they know best: the Gospel.

In doing so, they seek to reverse a disturbing trend of isolation from society as a whole, and in particular their Jewish neighbors.

‘Are we not asked to be the salt and light of the earth?’ asked Revd Azar Ajaj, president of Nazareth Evangelical College, in an open letter shortly after the Israeli elections.‘How important, then, to show love to those who have been styled as our “enemies”. In fact we are asked to be peacemakers.’

And from April 16-18, he gathered 60 local and international leaders to discuss how. Continue reading “The Peacemaking Palestinian Evangelicals of Israel”

Bishop Angaelos reflects on Ethiopian victims of Daesh | Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative

Bishop Angaelos reflects on Ethiopian victims of Daesh | Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative.

Pastoral Letter to Ethiopians

Pastoral Letter to Ethiopians.

Dr. Girma Bekele, a former Ethiopian colleague from London School of Theology, now teaching at Wycliffe College in Toronto, writes this important prophetic open letter addressed to Ethiopian Christians, at a time when the Church in that country is reckoning with the brutal killing of some of its members at the hands of Daesh militants in Libya..

It is worth reading, as many of the matters Girma addresses in this letter are also relevant in other parts of the church.

Here is just a short quote:

‘We need to pray and do our part for national visitation: healing for our fractured spirituality, national unity, politics and economy- the very reasons why so many risk their own lives as migrants and refugees. We can do justice and honour the blood of those who have been killed, if we truly live as a nation where God’s righteousness reigns! That means an intentional and purposeful national effort for a more just, peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia.’

Pan-Armenian Declaration on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide

The State Commission on the Coordination of Events Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in consultation with its regional committees in the Diaspora,
– expressing the united will of the Armenian people,
– based on the Declaration of Independence of Armenia of 23 August 1990 and the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia,
– recalling the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948, whereby recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
– guided by the respective principles and provisions of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 96(1) of 11 December 1946, the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide  of 9 December 1948,  the United Nations Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity of 26 November 1968, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966 as well as all the other international documents on human rights,
– taking into consideration that while adopting the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the United Nations specifically underlined the importance of international cooperation in the struggle against that criminal offence,
– emphasizing the inadmissibility of impunity of the constituent elements of the crime of genocide and the non-applicability of statutory limitation thereto,
– condemning the genocidal acts against the Armenian people, planned and continuously  perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and various regimes of Turkey in 1894-1923, dispossession of the homeland, the massacres and ethnic cleansing aimed at the extermination of the Armenian population, the destruction of the Armenian heritage, as well as the denial of the Genocide, all attempts to avoid responsibility, to consign to oblivion the committed crimes and their consequences or to justify them, as a continuation of this crime and  encouragement  to commit new genocides,
– also considering the 1919-1921 verdicts of the courts-martial of the Ottoman Empire on that grave crime perpetrated “against the law and humanity’’ as a legal assessment of the fact,
– appreciating the joint declaration of the Allied Powers on May 24, 1915, for the first time in history defining the most heinous crime perpetrated against the Armenian people as a “crime against humanity and civilization” and emphasizing the necessity of holding Ottoman authorities responsible, as well as the role and significance of the Sevres Peace Treaty of 10 August 1920 and US President Woodrow Wilson’s Arbitral Award of 22 November 1920 in overcoming the consequences of the Armenian Genocide: Continue reading “Pan-Armenian Declaration on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide”

Sat 7 – The Bishop of the Poor, Justin Welby – An Interview

The interview begins at minute 4.55. It is interspersed with other short statements and video presentations on the Christians in the Middle East, with commentaries unfortunately only in Arabic.

Statement on the Murder of Ethiopian Christians in Libya

Islamic State militants stand behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians along a beach in Wilayat Barqa, in this still image from an undated video made available on April 19, 2015.

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, following the murder of Ethiopian Christians in Libya

20 April 2015

The confirmation of the murder of Ethiopian Christians by Daesh (IS) in Libya has been received with deep sadness. These executions that unnecessarily and unjustifiably claim the lives of innocent people, wholly undeserving of this brutality, have unfortunately become far too familiar. Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their Faith.

The Christians of Egypt and Ethiopia have had a shared heritage for centuries. Being predominantly Orthodox Christian communities with a mutual understanding of life and witness, and a common origin in the Coptic Orthodox Church, they now also share an even greater connection through the blood of these contemporary martyrs.

This sad news came on the day that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury visited His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Egypt to personally express his condolences following the similar brutal murder of 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians in Libya by Daesh in February of this year.  Continue reading “Statement on the Murder of Ethiopian Christians in Libya”

Lebanon’s Christian and Muslim Leaders Affirm Christianity’s ‘Essential Role’ in Middle East

Inter-faith Summit in Bkerke
Inter-faith Summit in Bkerke

Lebanon’s Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim religious leaders affirmed the “essential role” of the Christian presence in the Middle East and called for terrorism in the region to be confronted “culturally, educationally and politically.”

In a joint statement issued March 30 at the conclusion of an inter-faith summit in Bkerke, the seat of the Maronite Catholic Church north of Beirut, the religious leaders emphasised that the Christian presence “plays an essential role” in the identity of the region “and predates Islam by several centuries”.

Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite Catholic patriarch, presided at the summit and the leaders agreed to continue meeting quarterly to continue their discussions.

Terrorism, the religious leaders said, “must be fought through unifying the ranks of moderation” and “modernising the religious rhetoric” with an emphasis on “reconciliation, tolerance and co-existence.” Continue reading “Lebanon’s Christian and Muslim Leaders Affirm Christianity’s ‘Essential Role’ in Middle East”

WEA-RLC – Let’s Eradicate Terrorism in Response to Killing of Christian Students in Kenya


We condemn the cowardly, senseless, inhuman, targeted killing of innocent Christian students at Kenya’s Garissa University College by masked gunmen from the Al-Shabaab terror group this week. But let’s not stop there, and see this attack as the last straw.

We were at a loss of words as we heard the news of attackers with explosives and AK-47s targeting a campus site where Christians had gone to pray on Thursday. This deep sorrow should now impel us to defeat terrorism in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere.

“We cannot look at terrorism in isolation, be it Kenya or Somalia or Iraq or Syria,” WEA-RLC Executive Director Godfrey Yogarajah said. “Al-Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the shameless killing, as well as groups like al-Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIS) and Boko Haram are transnational terror groups or aspire to become one, and appear to be either cooperating or competing with each other in revealing their evil intent.” Continue reading “WEA-RLC – Let’s Eradicate Terrorism in Response to Killing of Christian Students in Kenya”

Islam, ISIS și violența religioasă | Chibzuieli

Islam, ISIS și violența religioasă | Chibzuieli.

De citit, fara ura si partinire, cum se cuvine unor urmasi ai lui Cristos.

Matthew Kapstein – Another Take on “After ‘Charlie Hebdo,’ Islam Must Critique Itself”

Sightings logo

Despite my agreement with my esteemed colleagues Professors Bruce Lincoln and Anthony Yu in most aspects of their response in last week’s Sightings to an earlier  Sightings piece, “After the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Massacre: Islam Must Open Itself To Critique,” by a third distinguished colleague, Professor Jean-Luc Marion, their conclusions strike me as ignoring important dimensions of the issues at hand.

The terrible events of January 7-9 in Paris were not, as they aver, the symptoms of social and economic disadvantage, or similar factors. Symptoms of such problems manifest themselves in France, as in many other countries, in increased petty crime, gang activity, drug use, elevated unemployment, occasional car-jackings, arson and riot, and the like.

Among these symptoms, I do not see fit to include targeted, cold-blooded murder, which is what took place in Paris. Continue reading “Matthew Kapstein – Another Take on “After ‘Charlie Hebdo,’ Islam Must Critique Itself””

Chawkat Moucarry – A Christian View of Islam

This lecture was delivered by my World Vision colleague Dr. Chawkat Moucarry, on Thursday 19 February 2015, at the Patriarch Ilia II Foundation in Tbilisi, Georgia, as part of its intellectual and spiritual development programme for youth. Over sixty young people participate in this lecture, which ended with a question – answer session and a little reception.

Christian de Chergé – The Testament of A Beheaded Christian

Christian de Chergé
Christian de Chergé

If it should happen one day — and it could be today — that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to encompass all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to this country. I ask them to accept that the One Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure. I ask them to pray for me: for how could I be found worthy of such an offering? I ask them to be able to associate such a death with the many other deaths that were just as violent, but forgotten through indifference and anonymity.

My life has no more value than any other. Nor any less value. In any case, it has not the innocence of childhood. I have lived long enough to know that I share in the evil which seems, alas, to prevail in the world, even in that which would strike me blindly. I should like, when the time comes, to have a clear space which would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of all my fellow human beings, and at the same time to forgive with all my heart the one who would strike me down. Continue reading “Christian de Chergé – The Testament of A Beheaded Christian”

A Government Mouthpiece Reports on a Missionary Movement | ChinaSource

A Government Mouthpiece Reports on a Missionary Movement | ChinaSource.

This is quite remarkable. An official Chinese journal comments of the dangerous missionary endeavours of Chinese Christians in Muslim countries.

Cei 21 de martiri din Libia au fost înscrişi în Sinaxarul Bisericii Copte


Sanctitatea Sa Patriarhul Tawadros al II-lea a anunțat includerea celor 21 de Noi Martiri Copţi din Libia în Sinaxarul al Bisericii Ortodoxe Copte ieri, 21 februarie 2015. În fiecare an pomenirea lor se va face la data de 8 Amshir în calendarul copt, ceea ce corespunde zilei de 15 februarie în calendarul Gregorian şi celei de 2 februarie în calendarul iulian. Tot în aceeași zi, Biserica Coptă – care are mulţi credincioşi mai cu seamă în Egipt şi Etiopia –  sărbătoreşte Întâmpinarea la Templu a Domnului nostru Isus Christos.

Includerea Noilor Martiri în Sinaxarul Bisericii Copte este recunoaşterea sfinţeniei martirajului lor, echivalentul canonizării în celelalte Biserici.

Numele noilor martiri, aşa cum au fost anunţate de Episcopul Bisericii Copte Anba Ermia, sunt:

1. Milad Makeen Zaky
2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
6. Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
7. Somaily Astafanus Kamel
8. Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
9.Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
11. Mina Fayez Aziz
12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
14. Samuel Alham Wilson
15. Muncitor din localitatea Awr
16. Ezat Bishri Naseef
17. Loqa Nagaty
18. Gaber Munir Adly
19. Esam Badir Samir
20. Malak Farag Abram
21. Sameh Salah Faruq

Papa Francisc a spus cu referire la aceşti 21 de creştini martirizaţi: “Au fost asasinaţi doar pentru că erau creştini. Sângele fraţilor noştri creştini este o mărturie care îşi înalţă glasul. Fie că sunt catolici, ortodocşi, copţi sau luterani, nu contează: sunt creştini! Sângele este acelaşi. Sângele dă mărturie pentru Cristos. Amintindu-i pe aceşti fraţi care au murit doar pentru faptul de a-l fi mărturisit pe Cristos, vă cer să ne încurajăm unii pe alţii să mergem înainte pe calea ecumenismului, pe care o încurajează ecumenismul sângelui. Martirii sunt ai tuturor creştinilor”.

(Sursa, AICI)

Pierre Berthoud – Are There Any Limits to Freedom of Speech and Caricature?

After the tragic events in Paris on the 7th of January, the director of a major weekly magazine declared that democracy gives the right to blasphemy. Such a radical statement of freedom of speech may seem shocking, but is a long-standing practice within the French culture going back to the Enlightenment, Voltaire being the emblematic figure. Tolerated under the Ancien Regime, it was adopted as a principle in the Declaration of human rights and became effective with the abolition of the blasphemy law in 1830; it was confirmed in 1905 in the legislation on the separation of Church and State.

Of course we are all in favour of freedom of conscience (thus freedom of religion) and of speech, whether in words or caricatures. Minorities in France such as Jews and Protestants have paid a very heavy tribute because of its absence. Though double-edged, satire even with regards to religious matters can be healthy and thought-provoking! But ‘one cannot scoff at everything and deride what is left’ without measuring the consequences of one’s action. Contempt, scorn and disrespect towards someone and their belief or world and life view is to be regarded as irresponsible behaviour and reveals a total lack of consideration for one’s neighbour. This of course doesn’t imply that we should avoid challenging one another nor should we shy away from a healthy debate. Ideas matter and are of paramount importance. We are what we think. But the principle of the love and respect of one’s neighbour implies that we consider carefully both the content and the form of our speech and caricature.

In fact, French law establishes limits to freedom of speech. One can for example be sued for abuse and slander, for discrimination and racism as well as anti-Semitism and revisionism. Why then such complacency in French culture and legislation towards offences against religious belief? Since the Enlightenment, divine transcendence has gradually been excluded from the public sphere. A contemporary thinker recently said that one of the major differences between the American and French Revolutions was that the latter lacked any reference to God. Conceived on a purely horizontal level, it was an expression of humanism. As a consequence, religious belief is incompatible with a man-centred world and life view and its present resurgence creates perplexity and hostility among many of our contemporaries. Since the sense of sacredness is considered as unreal at best, as a speech event and as fiction it should have disappeared from the cultural and social environment by now! Apparently humanism doesn’t account for an essential aspect of reality, the invisible world with God as its apex. The freedom of blasphemy can thus be seen as an illusory attempt to negate and even to eradicate it!

That’s why beyond the question of freedom of conscience and of speech (however important they may be) the real issue at hand is related to what constitutes the foundation of a civilization. As André Malraux said prophetically many years ago: ‘The nature of a civilization is made up of the sum of what is brought together by a religion. Our civilization is unable to build either temple or tomb. It has the obligation to find an ultimate value or to decline and fall into decadence.’ If we are to meet the challenge of the Islamic religious world and life view and its drifts towards violence and terror, humanism with its rejection of the supernatural reality, so well illustrated in the ideology underlying CHARLIE HEBDO, will not suffice. It is thus of paramount importance for the French and European cultures to rediscover their Judeo-Christian roots and to place the infinite and personal God who has not kept silent at the centre of its value system, including the key notion of the separation of religious communities and State.

Pierre Berthoud

Pierre Berthoud
Professor Emeritus, Faculté Jean Calvin
Chair of the Fellowship of European Evangelical Theologians

(Source, HERE)




Frank Wolf’s Plan for Securing A Place for Christians in Iraq

Frank Wolf

Former American congressman Frank Wolf, who ‘recently co-founded the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and accepted an appointment to a newly endowed chair for religious freedom at Baylor University’, has suggested, together with his colleagues in the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative a six points plan for the preservation of Christians in Iraq. Here they are, as presented in a recent article in Christianity Today:

  • Create the Nineveh Plains province in Iraq to shelter Christians and other minorities.
  • Establish the Nineveh Protection Unit, a defensive National Guard. (This is already in formation.)
  • Allow faith-based relief and development groups to operate openly in the region.
  • Require the return of property, especially churches and monasteries, confiscated by the Islamic State.
  • Require the Kurdistan regional government to insure religious freedom for all groups.
  • Prosecute terrorists for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and if needed, for genocide.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide – This Week’s Prayer Diary: Focus on Iran

Despite so many positive words coming from the Iranian leadership over the last 18 months, and despite Iran being increasingly embraced by the international community, the situation for Christians and other religious minorities remains extremely alarming. There has been an ongoing spike in executions under the Rouhani presidency, as well as a continuation of Iran’s campaign against Persian Christians.This week, please:

  • Thank God for the positive rhetoric coming from the Iranian leadership, but ask him to turn words into actions;
  • Pray for Pastor Behnam Irani whose health has deteriorated significantly in the last few years while in prison;
  • Thank God that two other imprisoned Iranian church leaders were released in December 2014;
  • Pray for an end to the bringing of capital charges, such as moharebeh, or ‘enmity against God’ which have been increasingly used to target religious minorities;
  • Ask God to comfort the family and friends of all those imprisoned unjustly in Iran because of their faith;
  • Pray for access to justice for those facing trial on religious grounds, that their lawyers would be allowed access to their clients ahead of their hearings;
  • Thank God that he is a God of justice, and pray that the Iranian Church would continue to grow and give him glory even in the midst of persecution.

Theologian: Religious extremists like ISIS carve a bloody path through history – On Faith & Culture

Theologian: Religious extremists like ISIS carve a bloody path through history – On Faith & Culture.

This is a MUST READ interview with Yale theologian Miroslav Volf on religious violence in our world today.

A Reply to Jean-Luc Marion’s “After Charlie Hebdo, Islam Must Critique Itself”

Sightings logo


Our University of Chicago colleague, Jean-Luc Marion, Andrew Thomas Greely and Grace McNichols Greeley Professor of Catholic Studies, wrote a passionate response to the horrific attacks in Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris this past January (see Sightings in References below). The final toll: 16 dead and 22 injuries.

Marion’s outrage and grief are not only understandable but also shared by countless individuals and communities around the world. We are grateful that in face of such repugnant atrocities, our colleague throughout his brief essay has emphasized setting aside “the emotion of the moment,” “to not confuse or stigmatize,” and that “our fellow citizens of Muslim faith . . . suffer from a terrible situation.”

Despite deep sympathy for our esteemed colleague and the French people at large, we also feel compelled to address some troubling aspects of Marion’s statements concerning religion, because our common profession is defined by its attempted study and understanding.

Announcing clearly from the beginning that “France is at war,” Marion’s essay proceeds to define the homicides committed by three militants, all of whom were French citizens, as an act of war, followed by a second point that such an act will more closely unite the nation to resist with greater courage and resolve.

Marion’s prediction that the homicides would “unite the nation” was largely fulfilled as subsequent events have unfolded, although one must note the young Muslims who refused a moment of silence for the victims. Even so, construing the situation as “war”—something usually understood as armed hostility between nation states—is dangerous hyperbole or, worse yet, a self-fulfilling act of performative speech that initially misconstrues, then dramatically expands both the problem and conflict.

Such hyperbole is also evident in Marion’s assertion that “the danger posed by Islam is not new—it is familiar to France since the Seventeenth-Century… The recent history of Europe confirms democracies eventually vanquish totalitarianism and fascism.” We wonder what evidence there is for so characterizing the entire faith of Islam as one endangering France for so long.

The implied equation of Islam with totalitarianism and fascism is even more inflammatory and disturbing. Western civilization, after all, owes an immense debt to Islam and to Arabic communities for helping to preserve and transmit the priceless intellectual legacy of antiquity, without which the modern West would have been immeasurably impoverished. There would have been no Descartes without Plato’s and Aristotle’s works, which were recovered and translated by medieval Arabic philosophers. The Arabic bequest not only benefitted Westerners, but, for example, Chinese and other Asian people also, who profited (in mathematics, astronomy, and medical knowledge, to name three forms coming to mind) from contact with Islam.

We do not disagree entirely with Marion’s earnest plea for Muslims to engage in “self-critique,” but he seems to be unfamiliar with the cogent essays Talal Asad has addressed to this issue, demonstrating that “Islam” (if one must, for the sake of convenience, reduce a complex and diverse tradition to a simple monad), constantly reflects on itself, cultivates internal debate and critique, and identifies problems and shortcomings, which it then struggles to address.

Once this is recognized, Marion’s point becomes more problematic, for he is urging “Islam” to engage in the same kind of self-examination and revision that “Christianity” experienced during the Reformation and Enlightenment. What was an internal critique for one tradition thus becomes an imperative that one tradition would impose on another, something the latter experiences as alien to its own history, precepts, and sense of integrity; something it associates, moreover, with European claims of cultural superiority and a history of colonial aggression.

Even if “Islam” were to follow Marion’s prescription, we wonder what criteria he would recommend that “they” follow to “test their religious validity?” Does a secular state have the final say in defining what is “religious validity,” much as the People’s Republic of China avers in its constitution that only those who practice “normal religion” will be tolerated by the state?  The question of how to make all religions equally acceptable to a secular Republic of the French sort is not identical to—nor easily reconciled with—the question of how to create a society fully tolerant of religious difference.

Marion justly urges us to avoid “a facile rallying to the banner of ‘culture wars,’ or lack of integration, or discrimination.” Noble as that counsel may be, one needs to say more about the social and cultural ground for breeding hatred and violence, i.e. the sharply disadvantaged situation of Muslims in France (and not just France) with regard to employment, education, housing, protection under law, and simple dignity.

It is one thing for Charlie Hebdo to mock the Pope, and quite another to mock Muhammad. To poke fun at the icons revered by the powerful is a courageous act of iconoclasm; to ridicule those of the weak is cheap bullying, as it subjects people who already suffer abuse of multiple sorts to public humiliation, making sport of their (perceived) inability to defend the things they hold sacred.

We understand the need to rally in defense of liberté and we also understand that free speech includes forms of critical speech that may be cruel and offensive, such as iconoclasm, blasphemy, ridicule and derision. But one also has to realize that when those who enjoy the full benefits of citizenship use their liberté to mock others to whom basic rights are abridged or denied, something has gone badly amiss.

The most important front on which France needs to wage a sustained struggle today is precisely the one Marion ignores: the struggle to extend égalité and fraternité to its Muslim population.  Here, progress depends on understanding the criminal events in Paris not as salvos that open a new front or new phase in a long-running war, but as symptoms that follow on—and point to—sustained failures of socio-cultural integration, socioeconomic equity, moral sensibility, political accountability, and human understanding.

France may be the flashpoint of the moment, but the issues extend far beyond.


Marion, Jean-Luc. “After the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Massacre, Islam Must Open Itself to Critique.” Sightings, January 29, 2015.

Asad, Talal. “The Limits of Religious Criticism in the Middle East: Notes on Islamic Public Argument.” Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.
Image: Torsten Rowekamp / flickr creative commons.
To read previous issues of Sightings, visit

Author, Bruce Lincoln, (Ph.D. University of Chicago) is Caroline E. Haskell Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, Middle Eastern Studies and Medieval Studies. He is also Associate Faculty in the Departments of Anthropology and Classics. Lincoln emphasizes critical approaches to the study of religion and is particularly interested in issues of discourse, practice, power, conflict, and the violent reconstruction of social borders. His research includes the religions of pre-Christian Europe and pre-Islamic Iran. His two most recent books (2014) are Between History and Myth: Stories of Harald Fairhair and The Founding of the State, and Construction of Society: Comparative Studies of Myth, Ritual, and Classification, 2nd edition.

Author, Anthony C. Yu, (Ph.D. University of Chicago) is Carl Darling Buck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and Professor Emeritus of Religion and Literature, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, English Language and Literature, and the Committee on Social Thought. Yu’s research focuses on the comparative study of both literary and religious traditions. He also reinterprets classical Chinese narratives and poetry in light of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. His publications include comparisons of Chinese and Western texts, literary and religious histories, and issues of theory and criticism. In 2012, he published revised editions, with new Notes, of all four volumes of his translation of The Journey to the West. To comment, email the Editor, Myriam Renaud, at



Christian Solidarity International – This week’s Prayer Diary: Nigeria

Nigeria map

Religiously-related violence continues to tear apart northern Nigeria. Last year thousands of lives were lost, hundreds were abducted and tens of thousands of people were displaced by both the Islamist terror organisation Boko Haram and well-armed Fulani herders. With elections taking place this week, there are concerns of a recurrence of the deadly sectarian violence that broke out in the north following the 2011 presidential elections. Continue reading “Christian Solidarity International – This week’s Prayer Diary: Nigeria”