Friday, September 22, 2006


In a recent speech, the Pope focused on integral relationship God shares with the capacity to reason. Faith in the Christian God cannot exist outside of reason, as reason defines God's creative act: in the beginning, was the logos (John 1:1). Pointing to the translation of logos to mean both "word" and "reason," he spoke of the "intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry." To contextualize his point, the Pope referenced Manuel II, who argued, "Not to act "with logos" is contrary to God's nature." Benedict speech intented to broaden the Christian conceptualization of reason, so that reason and faith were once more aligned, reducing the chasm that opened between modern reason (read: science) and the dictums of faith during the Modern Era. In his words, "In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith." Only through an understanding of faith through the prism of reason can we attempt to create a "genuine dialogue of cultures and religions."

You may not recognize this speech, as you likely do not read the transcripts of the Pope's addresses. Let me give you a hint: towards the beginning of the speech, in order to contextualize his point, Pope Benedict quoted from a six-hundred year-old dialogue, in which two spiritual leaders discuss their respective religions. In their discussion, Manuel II, a Byzantine emperor, asserts that violence is an unreasonable way to spread faith and that only through reason can a faith be spread. The Pope uses this discussion to frame a distinction between the Hellenization of Christianity and the development of Islam outside of Hellenistic influences:

"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."”

In case you haven’t guessed, this speech is the flint that sparked the most recent firestorm of Islamic anger. Considering the tense world atmosphere, the Pope’s choice of words were not the brightest, but to call for his death? The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer penned a phenomenally written Op-Ed in response to this current catastrophe.

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