Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Islam as Christian Heresy?

In a fascinating essay, Peter Leithart makes a case that the idea of Islam as a Christian heresy isn't far-fetched. Leithart argues that "for the Church, Islam cannot be considered another variation on a universal religious impulse but
must be understood theologically, and addressed as both a theological and practical challenge." After all, he notes, "the practical problem is obvious. Over a millennium ago, the Middle East and North Africa were Islamicized and Arabicized, and, though medieval Christians withstood Islam̢۪s advance into Europe, Christianity has made scant progress in the Islamic world."

Leithart is convinced that understanding Islam in the way the medieval church understood Islam, as "a Christian heresy or as an apostasy from Christendom", helps answer the question as to *how* Christianity can best address Islam theologically or redemptive-historically. At the very least, this essay helps explain *why* Christ has a place within Islam's own history as well as its monotheism.

Defiant educators: West defames Islam

CNN.com - A wary eye on Pakistan's religious schools - Jul 19, 2005
Question: If the London attacks of 7/7 had nothing to do with religion, why do we feel it necessary to investigate the madrassas? Tony Blair, who shortly after the attacks said "Fanaticism is not a state of religion but a state of mind," now says the threat is an "evil ideology" that must be confronted in a battle of ideas, hearts, and minds".

As Robert Spencer aptly put it: "Islamic terrorism is."

The Supernatural Self-Disclosure of God

John the Apostle "Back of the formation of the Scriptures as a whole, back of the writing of the single books of Scripture, lies the great process of the supernatural self-disclosure of God in history by word and act. Surely it cannot be superfluous to ascertain its laws, to observe its methods, to trace the mutual adjustment of its various stages, to watch the ripening of its purposes—in a word, to investigate its philosophy, so far as this is possible to the human mind. But this is precisely what Biblical theology sets out to do. Whatever may be thought of the manner in which the task has been hitherto performed, the legitimacy of the undertaking will not he denied by any one who is a firm believer in the supernatural." Geerhardus Vos, The Nature and Aims of Biblical Theology, http://www.biblicaltheology.org/nabt.pdf

It's the presuppositions, man!

It's one thing to suggest that all Truth begins with Christ. It's quite another to subject history to the calculator. Apparently, an Oxford intellectual thinks he can reduce the resurrection to an equation: Apologia puts faith in lap of the odds - National - smh.com.au.
Richard Swinburne told a crowd at the Australian Catholic University that "probability calculus" could increase the certainty of Christ's resurrection to 97%. Does this mean our faith must "bridge" the remaining 3%?

Leave it to an agnostic to wax Van Tillian. Colin Sutherland isn't ready to commit to Swinburne's claims saying, ""The conclusions you reach in this kind of discussion often simply reflect the assumptions that you put in at the beginning." Of course, Van Til would go a step further. Not only do the presuppositions determine the outcomes, there is only one certainty: Christianity is true and all other philosophies, or "worldviews", are false. In an essay in which Van Til posits Christ himself as THE self-attesting presupposition, Van Til says: "The Christian, as did Tertullian, must contest the very principles of his opponent's position. The only 'proof' of the Christian position is that unless its truth is presupposed there is no possibility of "proving" anything at all. " Why? Because, "the Christian offers the self-attesting Christ to the world as the only foundation upon which a man must stand in order to give any "reasons" for anything at all." -- Cornelius Van Til, "Jerusalem and Athens", "My Credo"

For Van Til and us, 97% may prove certainty in fallen man's world, but without 100% certainty it ultimately proves nothing. Even then, if it does not begin and end with Christ, the equation that "proves" 100% certainty is meaningless.