On September 12, 2006 Pope Benedict XVI delivered to scientists at the University of Regensburg a speech which led to violent protests by many Muslims. The section of the speech which led to such consternation in the Muslim community follows:
“In the seventh conversation (διάλεξις - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to some of the experts, this is probably one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness that we find unacceptable, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "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.” The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...". The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.”
Other quotes from the speech follow:
"...The vision of Saint Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" (cf. Acts 16:6-10) - this vision can be
interpreted as a "distillation" of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry...The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an integral part
of Christian faith has been countered by the call for a dehellenization of Christianity - a call which has more and more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the modern
age... Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the postulates of the Reformation in the sixteenth century... In the light of our experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said
nowadays that the synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was a preliminary inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures. The latter are said to have the right to return
to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not only false; it is coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old Testament developed. True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself..."
This speech, as represented in the Pope’s quotes above, is really standard Romish fare, predicated on many errors.
First, we should reject that the Apostle Paul's vision should imply the necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry (i.e., philosophy). Rather, it implies the destitution of
Greek philosophy, and the need for its replacement with the true Biblical faith.
Second, Greek spirit had not come to maturity as the Old Testament developed. Instead, the Old Testament was mature as the Greek spirit developed.
Third, the Greek language in which the New Testament was written does not imply the Christian religion has "the imprint of the Greek spirit". Rather, it implies the Christian message is universal and
applicable beyond merely the Hebrews; it is for Jew and Greek (i.e., Gentile) alike.
Fourth, the Christian religion does not have the imprint of Greek spirit (ie, philosophy). Rather, the Christian religion exists independent of Greek philosophy.
Fifth, the Pope’s defense of a combination of
Biblical religion and Greek philosophy betrays how Romanism is a syncretizing
fusion of Biblical Christianity and (pagan) Greek philosophy.
On the other hand, we can quite agree with this statement from the Byzantine emperor as quoted by Pope Benedict: "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".
The religions of Rome and Mecca are both false and dangerous. That is the lesson we should come away with from this controversial speech.