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The conversion of Saul to St. Paul, and the question of Islam

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Prior to the converting Light on the road to Damascus, Saul was a 'type' of terrorist we see today. He received religious endorsement, and went on a campaign to persecute and imprison Christians, ultimately to destroy Christianity. He truly believed he was doing the Will of God. In an instant, however, the Light of Christ converted this man from an anti-Christian par excellence, to the Apostle to the Gentiles, with equal splendor.

Yet, is it rational to equate Saul to an Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorist?

Is it within Christian understanding to hope for a Saul-like conversion in the heart and mind of the Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorist?

For, isn't there a God/faith link in Saul which moves him to faith in Christ, which is Trinitarian, that is lacking in Islam?

Surely, 'nothing is impossible with God,' and non-fundamentalist (non-terrorist) Moslems are a different subject entirely. But we must remember, when considering not only dialogue with moderate, peaceful Moslems, but in speculating on Radical Fundamentalist Moslems, our God is the Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit--defined, definitively, through the Cross as Love--and their understanding of God is a oneness of spirit--void of Trinity--defined, definitively, as the Omnipotent Will to do what He Wills.

There is also the problem of a completely different Jesus...

“Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:1-20

For the Christian, Jesus is the Christ. He is 'the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' Jesus is One with the Father, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father--'God from God, Light from Light,' One in being with the Father. Jesus is the One Mediator between fallen man and the Transcendent Lord. Jesus' death on the Cross is the One saving act; His Resurrection the Way to heaven. And though He is a prophet, priest, and King, first and foremost He is God.

Yet, for the Moslem, moderate and radical, Jesus is just a prophet. For them, Jesus was just a man. Though he may now reside in the Moslem understanding of paradise, he does nothing more than worship Allah. Jesus, moreover, is subordinate to the Prophet Mohammed. The Moslem, moreover, has every natural right to believe this. And, concerning moderate and peaceful Moslems, we must respect their religious freedom.

But, from the lack of the Trinity, and the lack of the Christ, let alone from the lack of God as defined solely as Love, can we rationally expect a Saul-like conversion from them? In Jesus, Yahweh remained the Father, the ineffable source of Life. In Jesus, the Law and the Prophets were fulfilled. In Jesus, all of Saul's recollections of religious sacrifices were summed up in the Perfect Sacrifice of Jesus on His Cross.

Is there any likewise correlating spiritual link between Islam and Christianity?

"Praise the LORD, all you nations; glorify him, all you peoples!" Psalm 117:1-2

Just the same, we are called to evangelize Jesus Christ to all peoples, to include the Moslem population. Though this can make us vulnerable to attack in parts of the world, we must witness nonetheless. A common starting point for dialogue, however, exists. The understanding of One God.

Though we cannot expect a Saul-like conversion, we can proceed together as peoples of faith.

And proceeding as 'dialoging' peoples, the Eucharist holds the key of hope.

“'How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?' Jesus said to them, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.'" John 6:52-59

In the Eucharist, Christians are reminded that we are a faith of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Unlike our Moslem brother and sister (siblings in God's Creation), who have no Incarnate understanding of God, we must witness to Jesus Christ through acts and words which transmit, powerfully, the Truth of God's Love in the long-suffering, the virtue, and the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

From the Body and Blood of Christ, we must be Christ to the Moslem world. Even if it leads us to the Cross. For it is the only hope we have for the joyful Resurrection of all of our Creation siblings.

Thoughts? tranz4mation@comcast.net

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