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It is difficult for a non-Christian to appreciate how difficult it was — and remains — for many Christians to face these realities. Over the years the Catholic Church and other Christian churches have recognized the role our theologies played in the persecution of Jews. Non-scriptural texts that were deemed offensive were dropped, explanations were added to difficult scriptural texts; and guidelines were issued for preachers on how to deal with these texts. This is not by any means to claim that Christians have totally put this history behind us. But it is an example of how a religion can be faithful to its God and scripture while undergoing what can be a searing examination of conscience.

Each of the world’s religions arose and developed in relative isolation. Each of the world’s religions achieved cultural and political hegemony at one time or another. However, in the modern world of globalization, religious isolation is impossible and religiously inspired violence can threaten the survival of the entire planet. We no longer live in a world of isolated religions but rather in a community of religions. This is something unprecedented in human history.

Islam is faced with a serious challenge in the modern world. Can it face the challenge of that incredibly powerful verse of the Quran that reads “Oh you who believe, be strict in observing justice and be witnesses for God even though it be against yourselves, your parents and your relatives” (4:136)?

One can hope that the experience of Christians and Jews may provide help and support in this.

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Rev. Elias Mallon is a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement and CNEWA’s external affairs officer.



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