Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I suppose some Muslims might argue that Islam is a reformation of Christianity, but they would be wrong, of course. The main truth of Christianity is that God became a man. Islam rejects that truth, and so is a huge step backward. It is an extremely alienated religion.

I personally do not believe in a personal God, so following the Gnostic gospels, I believe that established Christianity doesn't get at the whole truth. I believe that Christ's real message is that God is in each of us, so that we do not need to look for anything else besides each other. When you add the idea that God is in nature as well, you come to the result that God is nothing but the whole that comprises us and nature. I believe this idea is the completion of Christianity.

This view is also more or less Spinoza's view. (It is also Hegel's) (I just read a piece in the NY Review of Books on Spinoza, unfortunately also not available online for free.) Since he was a Jew, and I am unaware of any Muslim of having embraced such a view, I suppose this undermines my claim that Christianity is no closer to Judaism than it is to Islam. Muslims are not allowed to speculate about the nature of God, because according to Islam, God is unknowable by humans. So maybe Pope Benedict is right after all. (As I noted above, this diary was prompted by reading a New Yorker piece about Benedict's views on Islam (not yet available online).)

All your other points are well taken. Obviously, my diary was polemical, being inspired by being tired of the way the term "Judeo-Christian" tradition or ethic is bandied about, and the demonization of Islam in the West. There is no such thing as the Judeo-Christian ethic, because Christ explicitly said that the ethic of the Old Testament is wrong. (The latter point comes up in a piece in the current issue of Time about whether the Bible should be taught in public schools. There was a diary about that which completely misunderstood the article, and I commented on it here.)

Despite your very good points, my intuition remains that to a Christian, both Islam and Judaism must seem about equally alien. The central idea of Christianity is that Christ was divine, and there is no getting around that. This is where I do not accept your argument. To a Christian, everything revolves around Christ's divinity. So the other four similarities I claimed to exist between Judaism and Islam are secondary; also the point that Islam "recognizes" Christ pales in comparison with the fact that it doesn't recognize his divinity. (I don't understand your response to my "No concept of the Trinity" point, by the way. You write "if Christ isn't divine..." But I was writing from a Christian point of view. A Christian does not admit the possibility that Christ isn't divine, by definition.) (My sense is that Christian fundamentalists really think of Christ as a person with very good connections as opposed to as God—you don't hear them thinking about the Trinity very much—and that is why they can feel a close connection with Judaism. Furthermore, they pay more attention to the Old Testament than the New, overlooking the fact that Christ said that the former's ethics are wrong.) I cannot imagine what it is like for a Jew or a Muslim to listen to The St. Matthew Passion. (If I were a Muslim or a Jew and I listened to the St. Matthew Passion, I would convert to Christianity.)

On the other hand, like I said, if you include Spinoza within the Jewish religious tradition, then Christianity and Judaism do line up on one side and Islam on the other. But that is only if you adopt my heterodox interpretation of Christianity.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Sat Mar 31st, 2007 at 10:13:34 PM EST
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