Catholic-Islamic Dialogue

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Muslim representatives and Vatican officials begin talks this week that they hope will lead to an unprecedented Catholic-Islamic meeting.

So, once they get the logistics worked out and everyone is in the same room together, I imagine the dialogue to go something like this:

Muslim: We agree that there is one God, right?

Catholic: Right, one God in three Persons.

Muslim: Um, no. Just one God who is not a “person” like we are people. Agreed?

Catholic: Agreed: one God, the Father who is not a person like we are, one God, the Son who is a person like we are and one God, the Holy Spirit who is also not a person like we are. Exactly right.

Muslim:Ok, let’s come back to that one later on.  Mohammed is the final prophet sent from God.

Catholic:Mohammed claimed to be a prophet of God, yes.

Muslim: Sorry, not just “claimed to be” but “truthfully claimed to be” and not just “a prophet”. He’s the final prophet. God did not send any others after him. Only the revelation Mohammed received matters now. Any others have been ditched. Agreed?

Catholic: (silence….blink, blink.)

Muslim: Um…okay. Jesus! He was a prophet, right?

Catholic: Right! Jesus was a prophet….and a priest…and King.

Muslim: No, not a priest. We don’t have priests. And not a King. He had no caliphate, er I mean kingdom.

Catholic: Yes he did. It’s called “the Church”. The Church is his kingdom. We are his subjects. God made him King because Jesus is His son. His mother Mary was a virgin you know.

Muslim: Yes, we know. Mariam was indeed a virgin, but just because God made her pregnant does not mean that Jesus is God’s son. God doesn’t have any sons, so Jesus can’t be one…or “THE ONE”. God doesn’t have anyone ruling the universe on his behalf either. He takes care of everything himself.

Catholic: Right, God takes care of everything, including taking away sins through the blood of Jesus. Did you know he died on a cross to take away sin? The best part though is that God raised him back to life three days later. The Bible says so.

Muslim: Ah, right. The Bible. The Book of the Christians. You do know that it’s been corrupted, right?

Catholic: How’s that?

Muslim: It’s been corrupted. The devil has added lies to the Bible to trick you. The Qu’ran says so.

Catholic:That’s your “Holy Book” is it, the Qu’ran?

Muslim: Yes. God has kept it from being corrupted like your book. Your book has been corrupted by the devil. You really can’t trust anything it says.

Catholic:Really? None of it?

Muslim: Well, I suppose you could trust those bits which are also in the Qu’ran, but the rest of it is rubbish.

Catholic:Right…anything in the Qu’ran about the resurrection of Jesus?

Muslim:Not really. You see, Jesus wasn’t actually crucified. It was Judas, made to look like Jesus. So since Jesus didn’t die, he couldn’t have been resurrected now could he?

Catholic:That’s in your Qu’ran?

Muslim: Yep.

(long silence…)

Muslim:So, let’s sum up then. God is numerically one; not three.

Catholic: There is only one Triune God.

Muslim: Mohammed is the final prophet from God.

Catholic: Mohammed said that he was a prophet from God.

Muslim: Jesus was a prophet, born of a virgin but not a priest and certainly not a king and he most definitely was not God’s son.

Catholic: Jesus, born of the virgin Mary, is the only begotten Son of the Father who has made him the Head of the Church and appointed him to mediate between God and man.

Muslim: The Christian Bible is corrupt while the Qu’ran revealed to Mohammed is the perfectly preserved final revelation to all men from God.

Catholic: The Bible is the Word of God. The Qu’ran is…your “holy book”.

Muslim: Isn’t it time we took a break for lunch?

Catholic:Absolutely! Since you’re our guests here in the Vatican, The Pope thought it would be a good idea to serve a traditional German meal of bratwurst, saurkraut and beer.  Dig in!

Apart from the patently offensive offering of pork and alcohol to the Muslims, this is precisely the kind of conversation that ought to take place, provided that all parties remain loyal to their beliefs. The essence of Islam is belief in the (cardinal number) one God and the prophethood of Mohammed. It is impossible for there to be a trinitarian Muslim who believes that Jesus wields greater spiritual authority than Mohammed. Conversely, the essence of Christianity is the belief in the (ordinal number) one God and the sovereignty of His Only Begotten Son Jesus. It is impossible for there to be a Christian who does not believe in the primacy of Jesus, which is His by virtue of being the uniquely divine Son of God.

As long as the two parties hold on to these core beliefs, any conversations between them ought to be similarly brief, and perhaps equally productive.

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