The Pope has been joined by the Archbishop of Greece who condemned "Islamic fanaticism" especially in Africa. Article here from Africa News. Hat tip Jihadwatch.

Because of the continuing furor over the Pope's remarks, I copy now my earlier post.

Pope Benedict XVI recently gave a speech that has angered some Muslims. The Vatican now has put an English translation of his lecture online here. The title is "Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections"

The speech, overall, is a very strong argument for the place of a theological faculty within a university, for the intrinsic link between reason and faith, and a criticism of the modern restriction of reason to a scientific positivism. I heartily recommend a careful reading of this lecture.

This is the part that inflames Muslims (cont. below).

"I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between - as they were called - three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point - itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole - which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.
In the seventh conversation (*4V8,>4H - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (F×< 8`(T) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

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. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry."

The point being made by the pope is this (if I understand him correctly): Christianity, in contrast to Islam, has seen Reason as a constituent of God's nature and so of God's actions, furthermore, though God's Reason (Logos) exceeds our reason, yet our reason is a true analogy of Divine Reason. He uses Islam as his foil, in part, because Islam historically has defined God in terms of pure will, so that Allah's actions may or may not have any correlation with our reason because Reason is not part of Allah's most basic nature, which is Will.

In other words: Islam has traditionally held that Good is only good because Allah calls (will it to be) it good. If Allah were to call murder good, then it would be good. (By the way, this accounts for the strong tendency to a literalist reading of the Quran by devout Muslims--the faithful cannot infer principles behind the commands such that the specifics of the command could be left behind as culturally conditioned while the principle is observed. For example, modern conservative Christians usually preach the text "Slave obey your masters" in such a way that slavery can be left behind as a culturally conditioned reality of the New Testament period. The impetus in Muslim thought would not really allow this.)

Protestant Christians, rather than speaking of the analogy between Divine Reason (Logos) and our reason, are more apt to say that what God wills is conditioned by God's nature so that God's will is not absolutely arbitrary. God cannot call (will) good to be evil or evil to be good because that would violate God's holy nature.