Bishop McGrattan, along with Imam Taha Syed, will be speaking at Baitan Nur Mosque, on the theme of Forgiveness, Punishment and Justice on September 9. Please see the Diocesan Dates listing on page 20 for all the details.
Our city has a wonderful relationship with the Muslim communities. The Diocese was one of the founders of the Muslim-Christian Dialogue in 2001. Bishop Henry was very friendly with the community, and attended several events, or spoke at Muslim-Christian dialogue groups. The Diocese has chaired the Muslim-Christian Dialogue for many years, and is continuing its role by co-chairing the Education Committee of the Calgary Interfaith Council, which won first prize in 2017 for Interfaith Dialogue excellence from His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Early Islamic Philosophy and Christian Scholasticism had interesting dialogue in the Middle Ages. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Contra Gentiles, mentions Islamic philosophers in some of his monologues. He appears to agree with Muslim philosophers in some cases, but also to disagree with them in others. Some scholars (such as James Windrow Sweetman) go on to say that many of the scholars of the time exchanged thoughts and religious ideas when understanding Monotheism (the belief in One God) and ethics.
One theological idea with which both Islamic and Christian philosophers struggled was God’s determining of human destiny. Islamic philosophy emphasized determinism: the belief that God has determined all human destiny. Christian philosophy, while not wholly answering the paradox of God’s ultimate power and omnipotence, emphasized the importance of the human will in determining and working out justice in the world. Come see the interaction of these ideas in the dialogue between Christianity and Islam in Forgiveness, Punishment and Justice.
Bishop McGrattan will be speaking at Baitan Nur Mosque (4353 54 Ave. NE, Calgary), on the theme of “Forgiveness, Punishment and Justice” along with Islamic Imam Taha Syed on Sept. 9, 2017 from 4:30-6:00pm with a free dinner provided.
Please RSVP by Sept. 8th to: 1-866-628-5435.
On April 9, I attended the Interfaith Conference featuring a panel including Bishop Henry and Deacon Adrian Martens of our Diocese, and missionaries, Maulana Taha Syed, and Maulana Shaurch Abid, who shared about their respective perspectives on the Noble Life of Jesus. This was my first visit to a mosque. Most noteworthy, is the hospitality of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community as they welcomed us, their Christian visitors, so warmly. A meal was served to the 1000+ in attendance!
Deacon Adrian explained that, “The evening was important because the speakers identified areas where we agree, but also the areas that are importantly different; and touched on the essential differences between Islam and Christianity.” Each of the 15- minute talks was very well presented. The Muslims shared the story of Jesus, a prophet, who fulfilled his mission in life; and also a significant discrepancy about the Jesus’ death and why they do not believe that Jesus is God.
Bishop Henry balanced the differing talks with his personal witness of Jesus in his life. He shared the Apostle’s Creed as an introduction to our beliefs pertaining to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; and then boldly concluded his talk with a quote from C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, that tells us that we must make a choice: “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate which translates as In Our Time. The document is likely the most important contribution to the understandings of non-Christians since the Catholic and Protestant Reformations. The document, through the Council Fathers, sensitively explained that the Church’s message, in some areas, lacked a key approach that marked the people of God throughout the ages. The Council Fathers acknowledged that while the Church was clear in her message that non-Christian religions missed or misconstrued the person of Christ (and this is a grievous error), they sometimes failed to acknowledge the elements of truth in these religions. This was not meant to pave a new way for the modernism’s idea that analytic and scientific reasoning made religion into a mere symbol and thus a good way to live, or post-modern’s idea that religion is relativistic and everyone can choose to their path to follow God. Nostra Aetate, comparatively, followed in the Christian tradition that while everyone is called into a relationship with Christ and the Church, the “prevenient grace of God” could be at work in unexpected areas [Trent VI, LG 16].
Nostra Aetate can therefore be said to revive this Christian idea in our time: an idea that has always been a part of the theology of the Church. One of the documents that In Our Time quotes is a letter from Pope St. Gregory the VII to Nacir the Muslim King of Mauritania [1040-1085? AD]: “we believe in and confess one God, admittedly, in a different way, and daily praise and venerate him, the creator of the world and ruler of this world.” Pope St. Gregory is not being relativistic or condescending, following the recent popes of our time he is saying that “as Christians and Muslims, we encounter one another in faith in the one God” [St. John Paul II, address to representatives of the Muslims of Belgium, May 19, 1985]. It is important to nuance this with the fact that Christianity alone has the fullness of the understanding of God in Trinity [DI 5-6]. Pope St. Gregory was not alone in his approach, Catholic theology of the late nineteenth century picked up on this theme with Pope Pius X in his catechism acknowledging that Muslims were separate from pagans and “though admitting one true God, they do not believe in the Messiah, neither as already come in the Person of Jesus Christ.”
Bishop Henry and Ahmadiyyan Muslim scholars will be involved in a discussion on the nature and life of Jesus at the Baitun Nur Mosque. Join us for a free supper, dessert and a talk by Bishop Henry and other Christian and Ahmadiyyan Muslim scholars on Saturday, April 9. See the display ad on the facing page for more information.
The Ahmadiyyan Muslims are a community known for their Islamic background. They are unique in their belief that a man named Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the end times prophet, and that Jesus survived the crucifixion and spent the rest of his life in India. Join us as we seek to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” [1 Pet. 3:15] and to create a world where we “live in peace with all people,” [Rm. 12:18]