15.09.2006. / 16:50

Autor: Marin Medić


Bezrazložan bijes: Papin govor

Dok bijes islamskog svijeta raste sa sve žešćim reakcijama na račun Vatikana, Nacional donosi sporni dio Papinog govora, iz kojeg je razvidno da je riječ zaista bila o filozofskom izlaganju i povijesnoj analizi, koja je ipak uspijela pogoditi osjećaje islamske publike.

Dok bijes islamskog svijeta raste sa sve žešćim reakcijama na račun Vatikana, Nacional donosi sporni dio Papinog govora, iz kojeg je razvidno da je riječ zaista bila o filozofskom izlaganju i povijesnoj analizi, koja je ipak uspijela pogoditi osjećaje islamske publike.

Sporni dio Papinog govora glasi:

"U sedmom razgovoru, uređenom od profesora Khourya, car se dotiče teme svetoga rata. Car je morao znati da sura 2,256 glasi: "Ne postoji prisila u religiji." Prema stručnjacima, ovo je jedna od ranih sura, kada je Muhamed još bio nemoćan i pod prijetnjom. No, naravno da je car također znao za uputu, razvijenu kasnije u Kuranu, u vezi sa svetim ratom. Bez ulaženja u detalje, poput razlike u odnošenju s onima koji imaju "Knjigu" i "nevjernicima", od se obraća prekršitelju sa zapanjujućom otresitošću na središnje pitanje između religije i nasilja općenito, govoreći: "Pokažite mi što je novoga Muhamed donio, i tamo ćete naći samo zlo i neljudsko, poput njegove zapovjedi o širenju religije mačem vjere koju je propovjedao." Car, nakon što se izrazio tako snažno, nastavlja detaljno objašnjavati razloge zašto je širenje vjere nasiljem neprihvatljivo. Nasilje je nekompatibilno s prirodom Bog i prirodom duše. "Bog", govori car, "ne voli krv - a postupati nerazumno je protiv Božje prirode. Vjera se rađa u duši, a ne tijelu. Tko god bi priveo nekoga vjeri treba sposobnost govora i razume, bez nasilja i prijetnji... Za uvjeriti razumnu dušu, ne treba jaka ruka, ili bilo kakvo oružje, ili bilo kakav drugi način prijetnje smrću..." završava car"

U nastavku možete pročitati govor u cijelini (na engleskom jeziku).

(SEPTEMBER 9-14, 2006)
Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg
Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Faith, Reason and the University
Memories and Reflections

Your Eminences, Your Magnificences, Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a moving experience for me to be back again in the university and to be able once
again to give a lecture at this podium. I think back to those years when, after a
pleasant period at the Freisinger Hochschule, I began teaching at the University of
Bonn. That was in 1959, in the days of the old university made up of ordinary
professors. The various chairs had neither assistants nor secretaries, but in
recompense there was much direct contact with students and in particular among the
professors themselves. We would meet before and after lessons in the rooms of the
teaching staff. There was a lively exchange with historians, philosophers, philologists
and, naturally, between the two theological faculties. Once a semester there was a dies
academicus, when professors from every faculty appeared before the students of the
entire university, making possible a genuine experience of universitas - something
that you too, Magnificent Rector, just mentioned - the experience, in other words, of
the fact that despite our specializations which at times make it difficult to
communicate with each other, we made up a whole, working in everything on the
basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the
right use of reason - this reality became a lived experience. The university was also
very proud of its two theological faculties. It was clear that, by inquiring about the
reasonableness of faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of the
"whole" of the universitas scientiarum, even if not everyone could share the faith
which theologians seek to correlate with reason as a whole. This profound sense of
coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once
reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: it
had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face
of such radical scepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of
God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the
Christian faith: this, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.
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.

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion
is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting
unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and
intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what
is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God.
Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the
8`(@H". This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, F×< 8`(T, with logos.
Logos means both reason and word - a reason which is creative and capable of self-
communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical
concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical
faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the
logos is God, says the Evangelist. The encounter between the Biblical message and
Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint Paul, who saw the roads
to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: "Come over to
Macedonia and help us!" (cf. Acts 16:6-10) - this vision can be interpreted as a
"distillation" of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and
Greek inquiry.

In point of fact, this rapprochement had been going on for some time. The mysterious
name of God, revealed from the burning bush, a name which separates this God from
all other divinities with their many names and simply declares "I am", already
presents a challenge to the notion of myth, to which Socrates' attempt to vanquish and
transcend myth stands in close analogy. Within the Old Testament, the process which
started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the
God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the
God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words
uttered at the burning bush: "I am". This new understanding of God is accompanied
by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who
are merely the work of human hands (cf. Ps 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with
those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and
idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the
best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident
especially in the later wisdom literature. Today we know that the Greek translation of
the Old Testament produced at Alexandria - the Septuagint - is more than a simple
(and in that sense really less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an
independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of
revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the
birth and spread of Christianity. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking
place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very
heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to
faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act "with logos" is contrary to God's nature.

In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we find trends in
theology which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian
spirit. In contrast with the so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there
arose with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which, in its later developments, led to the
claim that we can only know God's voluntas ordinata. Beyond this is the realm of
God's freedom, in virtue of which he could have done the opposite of everything he
has actually done. This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn
Hazn and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is not even bound to
truth and goodness. God's transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason,
our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose
deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his actual
decisions. As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between
God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which - as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stated - unlikeness
remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and
its language. God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a
sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has
revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our
behalf. Certainly, love, as Saint Paul says, "transcends" knowledge and is thereby
capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it continues
to be love of the God who is Logos. Consequently, Christian worship is, again to
quote Paul - "8@(46¬ 8"JD,\"", worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with
our reason (cf. Rom 12:1).

This inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was
an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of
religions, but also from that of world history - it is an event which concerns us even
today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins
and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive
character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: this convergence,
with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the
foundation of what can rightly be called Europe.

The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an integral part of Christian
faith has been countered by the call for a dehellenization of Christianity - a call which
has more and more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the
modern age. Viewed more closely, three stages can be observed in the programme of
dehellenization: although interconnected, they are clearly distinct from one another in
their motivations and objectives.

Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the postulates of the Reformation in
the sixteenth century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers
thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy,
that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a
result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an
overarching philosophical system. The principle of sola scriptura, on the other hand,
sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word.
Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had
to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he
needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this
programme forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen.
He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a

The liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ushered in a second
stage in the process of dehellenization, with Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding
representative. When I was a student, and in the early years of my teaching, this
programme was highly influential in Catholic theology too. It took as its point of
departure Pascal's distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In my inaugural lecture at Bonn in 1959, I tried to address
the issue, and I do not intend to repeat here what I said on that occasion, but I would
like to describe at least briefly what was new about this second stage of
dehellenization. Harnack's central idea was to return simply to the man Jesus and to
his simple message, underneath the accretions of theology and indeed of
hellenization: this simple message was seen as the culmination of the religious
development of humanity. Jesus was said to have put an end to worship in favour of
morality. In the end he was presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message.
Fundamentally, Harnack's goal was to bring Christianity back into harmony with
modern reason, liberating it, that is to say, from seemingly philosophical and
theological elements, such as faith in Christ's divinity and the triune God. In this
sense, historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament, as he saw it, restored to
theology its place within the university: theology, for Harnack, is something
essentially historical and therefore strictly scientific. What it is able to say critically
about Jesus is, so to speak, an expression of practical reason and consequently it can
take its rightful place within the university. Behind this thinking lies the modern self-
limitation of reason, classically expressed in Kant's "Critiques", but in the meantime
further radicalized by the impact of the natural sciences. This modern concept of
reason is based, to put it briefly, on a synthesis between Platonism (Cartesianism) and
empiricism, a synthesis confirmed by the success of technology. On the one hand it
presupposes the mathematical structure of matter, its intrinsic rationality, which
makes it possible to understand how matter works and use it efficiently: this basic
premise is, so to speak, the Platonic element in the modern understanding of nature.
On the other hand, there is nature's capacity to be exploited for our purposes, and here
only the possibility of verification or falsification through experimentation can yield
ultimate certainty. The weight between the two poles can, depending on the
circumstances, shift from one side to the other. As strongly positivistic a thinker as J.
Monod has declared himself a convinced Platonist/Cartesian.

This gives rise to two principles which are crucial for the issue we have raised. First,
only the kind of certainty resulting from the interplay of mathematical and empirical
elements can be considered scientific. Anything that would claim to be science must
be measured against this criterion. Hence the human sciences, such as history,
psychology, sociology and philosophy, attempt to conform themselves to this canon
of scientificity. A second point, which is important for our reflections, is that by its
very nature this method excludes the question of God, making it appear an
unscientific or pre-scientific question. Consequently, we are faced with a reduction of
the radius of science and reason, one which needs to be questioned.

I will return to this problem later. In the meantime, it must be observed that from this
standpoint any attempt to maintain theology's claim to be "scientific" would end up
reducing Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self. But we must say more: if
science as a whole is this and this alone, then it is man himself who ends up being
reduced, for the specifically human questions about our origin and destiny, the
questions raised by religion and ethics, then have no place within the purview of
collective reason as defined by "science", so understood, and must thus be relegated
to the realm of the subjective. The subject then decides, on the basis of his
experiences, what he considers tenable in matters of religion, and the subjective
"conscience" becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical. In this way, though, ethics
and religion lose their power to create a community and become a completely
personal matter. This is a dangerous state of affairs for humanity, as we see from the
disturbing pathologies of religion and reason which necessarily erupt when reason is
so reduced that questions of religion and ethics no longer concern it. Attempts to construct an ethic from the rules of evolution or from psychology and sociology, end
up being simply inadequate.

Before I draw the conclusions to which all this has been leading, I must briefly refer
to the third stage of dehellenization, which is now in progress. In the light of our
experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with
Hellenism achieved in the early Church was a preliminary inculturation which ought
not to be binding on other cultures. The latter are said to have the right to return to the
simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to
inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not only false; it is
coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears
the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old
Testament developed. True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church
which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental
decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are
part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.

And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a
critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back
to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The
positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: we are all
grateful for the marvellous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the
progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos, moreover, is -
as you yourself mentioned, Magnificent Rector - the will to be obedient to the truth,
and, as such, it embodies an attitude which belongs to the essential decisions of the
Christian spirit. The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism,
but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the
new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these
possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed
in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the
self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more
disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and
within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and
one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of

Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so
urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic
reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's
profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of
reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the
divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of
entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show,
modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a
question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology.
Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter
and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of
nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why
this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural
sciences to other modes and planes of thought - to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great
experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the
Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an
unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded of
something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false
philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: "It would be easily
understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the
rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being - but in this way he would
be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss". The West has long
been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and
can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of
reason, and not the denial of its grandeur - this is the programme with which a
theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. "Not to act
reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God", said Manuel II,
according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian
interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our
partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the

The Holy Father intends to supply a subsequent version of this text, complete with
footnotes. The present text must therefore be considered provisional.

© Copyright 2006 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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