Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saint Thomas' Doctrine of the Trinity

At the request of a brother seminarian, I'm going to try to put in concise terms my understanding of St. Thomas' teaching on the Trinity. I'm mostly posting this here to remind myself that I had set out to do this so that when I come across this months after forgetting this project, I may then resume. Yes, I think it may be a very long time before I finish, and I have great doubts that I will. I think the final project will be very short if it comes out and perhaps obscure due to my attention to things I find interesting rather than to what is most essential. May God bless my endeavors nonetheless! Saint Thomas, pray for us!

Here's the link (mostly for my sake):

Friday, July 11, 2014

Is Islam true?

I'm not inclined to think so. It almost seems obviously false. Muhammad is supposed in the line of prophets that include Moses, David and Jesus. And yet what he teaches falls in direct contradiction with the Gospels as we have them today (with respect to the divinity of Jesus and fullness of revelation as present in him). The claim is that the Gospels were corrupted and so what Christians actually read today are not the true Injil of Jesus. But does this claim have any weight? Muslims don't have to go very far to find historico-critical analyses of the New Testament written by either agnostics or Christians. Even with all the dispute involved here, there is universal agreement that Jesus did not write anything. The Gospel of Mark seems to be the most "authentic" Gospel to most researchers, and yet even a close study of this reveals who Christ is.

I wondered for some time the extent to which Islam excluded Christianity. I have no truck with Muhammad, but certainly there is much to like in a religion that worships only Allah (Syriac/Arabic for God)? Indeed the word "islam" means either wholeness and safety or voluntary submission to God and "muslim" is simply the participle of this word, someone who is whole through submission to God. Taking these words according to their origin, I could say with confidence that the worship of Allah, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, is the true islam and all who do so by grace are true muslims. As I looked through Islamic prayers, I was hoping to find a more general worship of the one God, but it is all surrounded by invocations of Muhammad as well as a ritual purity that reminds me of Judaism. In addition to these, there is praise of the Quran and the reading of the whole of it will occur as one continues to pray, and certain parts of the Quran are explicitly anti-Trinitarian, and therefore unable to touch the lips or heart of a Christian. lex orandi, lex credendi.

So now I want to learn more about Muhammad. Who is he? Why should so many in the world trust him and his ways? Is it out of fear or love? Conviction of his truth or simply habit? If he is false, and I think this is the case, is he at least in earnest? Did he think God really revealed the truth of islam to him? Or is evil and wicked, spreading a lie for his own advantage? Or perhaps, not so wickedly (but still wicked..), he exploits religious belief for the sake of his people and nation? Whatever his character, the most important question for the world is whether Muhammad is a true prophet or not. This is not a matter of "being right" and the other guy "being wrong". Almost one quarter of the world live their life as though this man is God's chief representative. If one has any care that truth reign in the hearts and minds of men, then this matter cannot be ignored. In so many of the conflicts in the Middle East, it is so difficult to pick a side: Ba'ath Syrian government or Al-Qaeda and their allies? Sunni Islamic State or Shia militant group? There never seems to be a very good option to pick. And what distinguishes all of these groups? How they understand and interpret Muhammad. So now I ask, why Muhammad?