Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Islam Needs a Pope, Not a Luther

Well, here’s a gutsy article by Jonah Goldberg in USA TODAY (!) that contains complicated and controversial historical, political, and theological claims, including the one found in my title. I’m sure every Starbucks in America is buzzing with animated theological-political (as the Spinozans and Straussians say) conversation this morning.

Discussions - 18 Comments

Islam already had its Luther...his name was Wahhab. Not necessarily a benign set of reforms, given the essential nature of Islam.

The main difficulty we face with Islam is one that is not sufficiently addressed within Goldberg’s piece. That problem is the inherently political nature of Islam. Unlike Christianity Islam is a religion of laws. The prophet was a bringer of law, a political founder, and general. I fail to see how the introduction of some Islamic Pope will solve this problem. In fact, one might argue that it could exacerbate the problem. The task it appears to me is to somehow to de-politicize Islam. That might be a terribly difficult thing to do, and one that does serious violence to the religion properly understood. While it is certainly true that Luther was not driving at religious toleration, the religious pluralism that resulted from the reformation, however uninteded, cannot be discounted as a major contributing factor in the future of religious toleration in the West. It may be the case that our own understanding and practice of religious toleration is also an act of violence on serious religious faith. Locke’s bowling league understanding of religion may be necessary to establish toleration but is a reduction of the place of faith in the life of the individual.

They’ve had their equivalent of the Pope, he was called the CALIPH....... And besides religious authority, he was able to marshal the vast resources of islam against the West. It was no coincidence that the ability of islam to inflict the most harm on the West occurred during the days of the Caliph.

What islam needs is either to be reconciled to modernity, or simply ended. Which is a modern paraphrase of the exact quote that President George Washington made about islam.

It should also be recalled that Luther unleashed a widespread blood bath in Europe. A blood bath of such scale that its like was not seen until the days of the trenches in the Great War. So if you’re asking for an islamic Luther, effectively you’re asking for the muslims to start devouring one another.

Part of the problem that we are experiencing today is precisely because the Protestants diverted attention away from islam, towards European affairs. If the West had been able to gather their strength, they would have crushed islam back into the Arabian deserts, restoring Christian control over North Africa and the Anatolian peninsula. Constantinople would have been retaken, and the forces of islam delivered a psychological blow from which they never would have recovered. The Protestants spared islam, though of course they did so inadvertently.

And Dain is dead right, the reform movement designed to capture the pure essence of earlier Mohammadism IS wahabism. So the Wahab fanaticism IS the spiritual equivalent of the Protestant attempt to ignore historical development, and recapture the true essence of mohammadism.

Mohammadism is the religion of the misogynist, the corsair, the arab and male supremacist. And it needs to be crushed. And that’s a sobering fact, a sombre thought, but it’s the truth. And all of us know it.

Yes, Anon, but (being a Protestant) I have a hard time agreeing that Luther unleashed this or that. Indeed, some would argue (e.g., Max Weber) that without the Reformation there would have been no Industrial Revolution, and thus there would have been no "pushing Islam back." I tend to agree with that...Protestantism, like any mass movement, has had both good and bad effects. We are economically and technologically stronger today as a result of Protestantism, but socially? I don’t know.

We might also note that a Catholic West failed to maintain the Crusader kingdoms and ransacked Constantinople, something it never recovered from. So, Anon, while I’m happy you agree with me about Mohammed al-Wahhab/Luther analogy, that doesn’t mean I think that that analogy is strong enough to condemn both versions of reform as necessarily bad. I just think they’ve already had their Luther, and it’s certainly bad for us!

If Protestant’s are eager, {as they have been} to take credit for secularism, the industrial revolution, the emergence of the United States, constitutional governance, as flowing from the Reformation, then they should also be eager to take a good look at some of the deleterious consequences that flowed from the weakening of the authority of the Church, the weakening and division that followed in the West, and the simultaneous enablement of the forces of islam.

Protestantism is a very mixed bag.

And as for ransacking Constantinople, if it wasn’t for the foolish, vain, proud, endlessly and foolishly disputatious Eastern Church, there never would have been born the very heresies from which the unholy Mohammadist creed was born.

Recall, islam is the heretical response to the vain Christological disputes that racked the East. And many of those disputes, {as we would see later too in the Protestant realms} were exacerbated by ego, by power plays, by political intrigues, and were not solely dealt with as a religious difference of opinion. When the Western crusaders sacked Constantinople, it was very much a display of utter frustration with the incompetence of the Eastern Orthodox powers.

They were literally begging for it, and the East still hasn’t gotten their act together.

Truth can be a painful thing. Recall the one Eastern ruler who said: "Better the turban of the Sultan, than the Tiara of the Pope." What became of that foolish ruler? He watched his teenage boys, {who were reputedly handsome} sodomized by that Sultan, and then after homosexually raped, {yes, islam has that particular problem too...} they were killed, right in front of the eyes of that incredibly brain dead man.

The East screwed up big time, and that’s a fact. It’s a disgusting record, and you really need someone to paint it in all its horror and stupidity. And much of it flowed from sheer vanity, pride, overweening pride.

who knew?

Apparently Anon knows, that’s who. Nobody in the East ever knew anything, nor any Protestant, nor anyone who suggested that the Church was not made by geostrategic crusading. And thus our Anon has the authority to excuse the rape of Constantinople and to call for the "crushing" of Islam.

The Emperor that Benedict quoted, now there was a truly manly Christian, who non-anonymously dialogued with and fought Islam. Of course, Pope Benedict offers a more Christian, more incisive, and thus even braver model by his own words.

Anon: You say Protestantism is "a very mixed bag." True, like of course all religion is. Man will always mix in certain evils and problems with anything, even the pure nature of God.

Your claims that Luther unleashed a bloodbath are incomplete. Of course religious war followed and many innocents died. But when seen in light of the centuries of abuse and enslavement by many Popes and Catholic leaders, perhaps I might venture that it was worth it. Of course one could say that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson unleashed a bloodbath with the Declaration of Independence too.

The Protestants spared islam, though of course they did so inadvertently. This is simply false. Although the Pope indicates something close to this in his recent lecture, it is not historically accurate. Protestantism separated the church from the state, whereas in Catholicism and Islam the Church and state were one. This secularism is not easy and it has drawbacks with its advantages, yet unless one prefers the Middle ages over modern society, you should not wish that the Reformation be rescinded from history.

Well, I wonder where Anon gets this (rather odd) version of history. My history books are chock-full of Catholic Venetians screwing Catholic Franks, of Papal Schisms, of Crusades that go off the rails (sometimes over there, in Greek lands, and sometimes over here, in Southern France), of massive corruption of church offices, etc. Religion is a very mixed bag, and that’s because it involves homo sapiens.

I do think Protestants can take credit for the de-mythologizing of the world. Radical individualism must be laid at our feet, as well as the whole silly notion of political and civil rights, the liberal nation-state, and constitutional government. And all those things are gonna suck because, again, they involve homo sapiens. No society has ever found the proper balance between the individual and the collective, and none ever will because each one of us is a bundle of contradictory motivations.

First off, the guy that Benedict quoted spent his entire life in actual combat against islam, either in war, or in spirit. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Pope selected a ruler who was battling for his life, the life of his city and civilization. That too was part of the overall message. Just as his recent visit to a church titled "Our Lady of Ransom." Who was getting ransomed? Christians held by muslims. Why were they being held? To extort gold and silver from Christians. How were they taken? By muslim raiding parties or larger war parties. In short, the usual. His appearance at such a church, with such a name, is but another statement, expanding and elaborating upon his speech at Regensburg.

Sure I called for the crushing of islam, centuries ago. Which of us would have suggested that the world, {and the fate of GENERATIONS of present day muslims} would not have been better off if islam had been thrown up on the ash heap with all the rest of the totalitarian ideologies. It’s a "religion" that justifies all manner of evil done against the other, rape, theft, deceit, killing, assassination, poison, caste system, the dhimma contract. That’s the essence of islam, and it spans all minor and trivial differences between the various schools of islamic jurisprudence. If you have any doubt, review the history of Alexandria, Hippo, Damascus, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Tyre, Sidon, et al. Review their history after muslim domination. It doesn’t make for pleasant reading. Go read, or better yet, just peruse Andrew Bostom’s book on the history of jihad. That too will turn your stomach. It makes for horrific reading.

As for Protestantism, there’s a historical record there too. The relativism introduced WITHIN Christian doctrine inexorably overflowed to poison the intrinsic integrity of truth, which has led to a society profoundly marred by relativism. That’s a rather mild statement. Just as the rebellion against the authority of Rome led to rebellion and IMMEDIATE splintering within the ranks of Protestantism itself. Luther HIMSELF was lamenting the splintering going on all around him. And this splintering within Christian doctrine has led to a diminishment in the saliency of the Christian message world wide. These types of doubts, heresies, disputations, and let’s be blunt, naked intrigues, haven’t presented an overall attractive image of overall Christianity. Just the same can be said of Orthodoxy. And much of what predicated the "theological" dispute between Rome and Constantinople was pride, pride of place, privilege, position, status. It’s as I said in the earlier post, when I quoted a former ruler of Constantinople as saying "Better the turban of the Sultan than the Tiara of the Pope." THAT is a matter of the historical record. And that pride, seen long after the schism, was present as well in its inception.

I mean, what gives. If you’re going to review the deeds of one denomination, review them all.

Clint tries to defend the historical doings of the Protestants while the muslims were rampaging all over the place. Why? Can you name a single battle when Europe was embattled, fighting for their lives, for their homes, their civilization, their faith, where the Protestants showed up. Can any one name a single battle where the Protestants drove back the muslim hordes? I can name several where the Orthodox showed up to bat, everybody knows what the Poles did, they saved Eastern Europe, the French, cagey, intriguing constantly, nonetheless showed up at Tours, and the Spaniards spent CENTURIES driving and thrusting back the conquering scimitars of the muslims. But where were the Protestants during all this?

We know what the answer is, though many might like to dodge it, the Protestant powers and princes were AWOL. What’s the big deal? This doesn’t implicate Protestants of today. Many of whom are in the ranks today, along the far flung frontiers of civilization, along the Khyber Pass, along the NWFP, along the Iraq/Syrian border. They’re making up for the historical delinquency of their predecessors.

You know Henry V, he of "once more into the breech dear friends, once more." You know what he was trying to do after he settled affairs between himself and the French. You know what that Catholic King was intending, to launch a new Crusade. But his life was cut short, before his vision could be executed.

And Clint, to be sure, war is a blood bath. But I don’t think you truly know the NUMBERS unleashed in the blood bath to which I refer. So let me give one, about a third of a million Germans died just in the years 1524 to 1527, {according to William Manchester, in his book A World lit only by Fire}. To put that number in some perspective, and recall, those numbers refer only to Germany, throughout the length and breadth of the Spanish inquisition, that number exceeds by a ratio of 60 to 1, the numbers killed during the first ten years of the Spanish Inquisition, which were by far the worst and most deadly. There’s a record here people.

Now as Americans, we’ve put this type of denominational focus behind us, but only recently behind us.

It’s well to recall, that when Luther began ripping and tearing at the body of Christ on earth, the Church was separated from rampaging islam only by the very narrow Adriatic Sea to the East, and only by the swords and courage of Austria and Poland to the Northeast. The muslims were THAT close, and they had sacked and ransacked Rome many a time.

And Carl, cut off the feigned outrage. It’s very post-modern. We’re in the midst of a civilizational and generational struggle with an ideological force that has lunged REPEATEDLY for the throat of Rome, and the West. And that’s a fact. Our enemy has a track record steeped in blood, the blood of MILLIONS of Christians. And MILLIONS MORE of Hindus. The only people they’ve killed more than Christians, have been those living in India. As bad as they were in lands they ripped from Christianity, it’s nothing to what they did in India. Do you know the name the Hindu Kush? It refers to a mountain range. Do you know the name means? Let me tell ya. It means the slaughter place, or slaughterer of Hindus. You see Muslims led their vast hindu slave trains over the mountain range. Well naturally, many didn’t complete the journey. I’ve seen Indian scholars estimate that 2,000,000 Hindus died in the passes of the Hindu Kush. Just ponder for a moment, the type of travail, of enormous human suffering, for such a VAST geological feature of the earth to be re-designated by a people, and have that re-designation stick, in their linguistic history. Just think about that. God only knows the number of Christian women raped by muslims, and that number is probably far exceeded by the number of Hindu women raped. But sadly, rape isn’t simply a matter of the historical past, for those rapes occur today in Egypt, in Pakistan, and sadly, in Scandinavia as well. A girl was trailed in Australia by a car full of muslim males, and she was gang raped, she was a virgin, she wasn’t even thirteen. And that was in Australia, just a couple of weeks ago. So save some of your outrage Carl.

And Dain made some good points, again, but corruption no more disproves the claims and authority of the Catholic Church than the flood disproves the claims for the Ark. In fact, it’s the very corruption that you identify that stands as another proof for the need of the Church. For that corruption of morals to which you refer, is not the only type of corruption that can occur. There is a far worse corruption, and that is a corruption within the doctrine of the Church, a tarnishment within the depositum de Fidei, a marring within the priceless heirloom of all Christians, and that’s the deposit of Faith, left to us by the Fathers of the Church. So just as the Church needs to guard itself against the corruptions you refer to, it also stands need to guard against the heresies that will NATURALLY accrue in her journey through time, and her voyage across the centuries. The Church battled many a heresy before Luther. The Holy Spirit was not wanting then, so why should we assume that the counterarguments made against Luther and his progeny would be unavailing. There were many a German prince who backed Luther not for doctrine, but for lust for Church property. And that’s a fact. The Church has met many a heresy. The Arians for instance, the many Christological disputes occurring, again, IN THE EAST. Christ anticipated the need for a sole teaching authority, for doctrine necessarily grows through time. Doctrine is the result of the Church being jostled in her voyage, and by her interaction with error, an error that is always to be found in the World. The Creeds for instance were formulated so that believers would not fall prey to error, and that a certain corpus of Faith would be known to all. Paul himself had to battle against error already present during his lifetime, when he said that he didn’t want to hear anymore of people saying some are of him, or that others are of Peter. He said that he wanted to hear all proclaim they were of Christ, and him crucified.

Protestantism unleashed a war against the doctrinal nature of the hierarchical Church. But it is that very doctrine AND hierarchy which has allowed the Church to successfully war against the many errors of our time, and times past. And that Protestant scorn of doctrine, all in some search for a somewhat mythical and primitive purity of the early Church, has marked Protestantism badly, and left it vulnerable to endless splintering. I saw an article that said a new Protestant denomination, a splinter, forms every seven days. Now I ask you, honestly, and in good faith, can that possibly be the will of the Almighty, that his Church, should be so riven with theological disputation. That it should present to a world, a world so freighted with falsehood that it is inimical to an understanding of the truth, that the Church should present an image of chaos, confusion, and doctrinal disarray. It can’t possibly be the case. It’s as the Hapsburg Emperor Charles V said of Luther, "It is PREPOSTEROUS that a single monk should be right in his opinion and that the whole of CHRISTIANITY should be in ERROR OVER a thousand years or more." For Luther to be right, it means effectively that the Holy Spirit must have withdrawn it’s guiding influence over the course of the Church. A Church, you recall, EXPRESSLY DELIVERED OVER TO THE CARE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, by Christ himself, at the Pentecost. Within history we see the action of the Trinity, before Christ, we see the action of the Father, during the incarnation, we see the action of the Son. BUT AFTER his Ascension, we see the action of the Holy Spirit. So for Luther to be right, not simply in his quibbles with corruption, but in his challenge to the authority of Rome, we have to conclude that the Holy Spirit was somewhat somnolent for over a thousand years of Church history and doctrinal development.

Such a thought is beyond unlikely, it’s mildly blasphemous. Ultimately, Protestantism rests upon its challenge to Rome. And all Protestants have an obligation to delve deeply into the reasons for that challenge, AND settle for themselves, {which is a very Protestant thing to do...?} the validity of the continual separation from Rome. It’s one thing for Luther to have broken away, what of all those today, what of them. If Luther can challenge authority, perhaps it’s time for less splintering among and between Protestants, and perhaps it’s time to take a good look at men like Wojtlya, Ratzinger. Men of broad and deep intellectual power. Where does any Protestant find their like today?

Sure corruption exists, it’s the nature of the Fall. But the Church wasn’t scandalized by Judas, nor by Peter. Nor was Christ. He came to call sinners, not the righteous. So it seems a bit bizarre for Luther to be scandalized by a corruption that is almost endemic to any human institution. Even the Church.

Luther made many good points, to be sure. But when he challenged Rome, he swerved deep into error. And we can see some of the long term consequences of that today.

Anon, could it possibly be the will of the Almighty that His Church, the Church of Other-worldly salavation, should invent theology from whole cloth, should gild itself with earthly riches, should sell Its soul for earthly power? I think not...even the Franciscans agreed that the Church was seeped in corruption. I would also remind you that we all started out good Catholics, but disgust with the whole mess drove some of us away.

Compromise for the sake of worldly power isn’t Christ’s message. He didn’t say, "Well, getting myself croaked isn’t gonna cut it. I’ll stick around, cut a deal with Ciaphas & Pilate...spread the Word through official channels." Nope, He died to make a point...integrity above utility. And that’s what the Protestants have done.

AS for this nonsense about the Protestants sitting out the wars against Islam, come on. First, those fights (with the Ottomans) were on the opposite side of Europe...I sincerely doubt that the Hapburgs would say "come on down" to people who they have just (bitterly) fought for 30 years. And earlier, at Lepanto, the Protestant movement hadn’t even gelled yet, and the Protestants were facing persecution in much of Europe at the time.

And, you know, I think the Prots are doing a pretty good job today...they haven’t "cut and run" like the Spanish and Italians. They didn’t run from Gallipoli either.

How to respond? Thats really just a long rant that I’m tired of reading. It’s really unecessary to lecture about the evils of Islam as no one refutes that.

You have goofily blamed all the problems of the world on Protestants. One of your examples in which you imply Protestants dropped the ball was the battle of Tours--a good 700 years before the Reformation. But gee i’m sure it was Luther’s fault somehow.

I would love to know who the hell Anon is.


This has been some thread! Because I’m using my real name, I’m not going to touch much of what’s been said.

So use a fake name! How about Pierre Knawler? This has been too good to let die.

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