Thursday, December 27, 2001
Also in today's Washington Post (a wealth of information), is a piece by Kevin J. Hasson, president of the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, tackles the issue of truth.
In the continuing debate over Islam and pluralism, a growing number of observers are staking out a disturbing position. Face the facts, they say: The war against terrorism is only one part of a larger struggle, in which the forces of freedom are arrayed against all those who believe in an absolute truth.
Osama bin Laden couldn't agree more. And both he and they are wrong.
Former president Clinton teed up the point in a recent speech at Georgetown University. "This battle," he said, "fundamentally is about what you think of the nature of truth." So just what does Bill Clinton think of the nature of truth? That it can't be known with any certainty. "Nobody's got the truth," he says. Everybody is just "trying to get closer" to it. That's the big difference between us and them: "Because we don't believe you can have the whole truth, we think everybody counts and life is a journey. . . They believe because they have the truth you either share their truths or you don't. If you're not a Muslim, you're an infidel. If you are and you don't agree with them, you're a heretic and you're a legitimate target." Only uncertainty, in other words, can save us from the killing fields.
Andrew Sullivan warns, "in a world of absolute truth . . . there is no room for dissent." And the only way to reconcile Islam and pluralism, amens Thomas Friedman, is for Islam to affirm "that God speaks multiple languages and is not exhausted by just one faith." The only good religion is a relativist one.
Now, Clinton and company would no doubt be horrified to discover that they agree with the Taliban on anything so fundamental as the nature of truth and freedom, but they do. Both assume truth and freedom are irreconcilable opposites. The difference is that the Taliban happily sacrifices freedom for truth, while Clinton and the others obligingly sacrifice truth for freedom. Both agree, however, that you are either a truth-owning jihadi or a freedom-loving relativist. Choose your corner, and come out swinging.
Let me first say that I'm disappointed, but not surprised, by former president Bill Clinton's position on the truth. I can understand that he may be searching for the truth, heck, he's searching for the definition of the word "is." But as a Christian, I think Clinton knows what the truth is, and it's something he should be sure of. Yes, I believe that we'll see Bill in heaven. But I also think he, will get a little more of a tongue lashing when he gets there then most of the rest of us.
There is absolute truth in the world. I can believe that and not be forced intellectually into killing people who don't agree with me, despite what Clinton, Friedman and Sullivan claim. Islam doesn't need to say "that God speaks multiple languages and is not exhausted by just one faith." A majority of Christians would not agree with that statement. The difference between Christianity and Islam is that Christianity tells its adherents to go out into the world and share the good news of Jesus Christ. Islam tells its adherents to convert people to Islam, but if they won't convert, kill them.
Hasson has a solution to the radical Muslim fundamentalism that commands its adherents to kill "infidels."
Serious Muslim friends tell me that the Koran provides a basis for them to affirm the human dignity of every person, just as Genesis (all are made in the image and likeness of God) does for Jews and Christians.
If they are right, the solution to reconciling Islam with pluralism lies not in lecturing Muslims about the supposed virtues of relativism but in helping find within the Koran the absolute truth of human dignity.
It would be nice, but I don't think that this solution will work. There is too much in the Koran which calls for death. I believe that Jesus Christ IS God. According to the Koran, that makes me an infidel. All infidels, according to the Koran, are to be killed.
As much as I may wish it, I doubt there can ever be a reconciliation between Muslim fundamentalism and people of a different faith, whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. What Christians must do is reach out to Muslims and show them Christ's love. There is no other solution.