Islam, Violence, and the Nature of God | Dr. R. Jared Staudt | CWR
Although the topic of violence in Islam is a controversial one, Benedict XVI placed it at the center of his treatment of our knowledge of God within his often misunderstood and misrepresented Regensburg Lecture, given eight years ago, on September 12, 2006. Put simply, false views of God’s nature can lead to religiously motivated actions, such as terrorism and violent persecution, which are contrary to the nature and will of God. This discussion is all the more timely and important as the United States marks the anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001, as radical Islamist groups such as ISIS persecute Christians in Iraq and other countries, and as Catholics seek ways to move forward in authentic and meaningful dialogue with Muslims.
Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? A number of prominent Catholic apologists and bloggers have addressed this question recently. This essay will briefly summarize and comment on each of their arguments. It will then present some further thoughts arguing that the question requires assistance from philosophy: how do we know God correctly, or more precisely, how do we get knowledge of God wrong?
The first piece addressing this question is Tim Staples’ “Do Muslims Worship the Same God Catholics Do?” Staples attempts to strike the right balance on what Islam gets right and wrong. He quotes two of the key magisterial statements on the topic, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Nostra Aetate, which seems, at first glance, to seal the argument: “The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men.” Staples acknowledges that Muslims get much wrong about God and his will for men, and therefore, sets forth the following compromise on Islam: