Translation Canon Tony Dickinson
What is an idol? What is truth? What God are we talking about? A fraternal interfaith exchange about these questions must be possible and fruitful, says Gilles Castelnau.
The jihadists of Islamic State consider that a mosque built around a tomb is not a place of piety but of idolatry and must therefore be destroyed, and we ourselves sometimes describe as idolatry the attitude of praying (in front of) a statue or of venerating a consecrated host.
An idol is other people’s God. Moreover, the word “god” is often written in lower case to show clearly that it is not the real one.
But it would be pretentious to affirm that our God is the only real one and that everything that we affirm corresponds to an immovable reality inscribed in the heavens while the other gods (lower case) are only idols.
It is actually difficult to admit that an angel breathed into the Evangelists the Word of God which they had to write down in the way that Rembrandt painted it so well. We do not believe either that Allah would have dictated the Qur’an to Mohammed.
We do not throw in the face of others the decisive argument which the stories of the miraculous birth of Jesus, the coming of the magi with the star, the shepherds and the angels could be. We do not smile at the stories of the miraculous birth of the Buddha, whom his mother sent standing into the world, holding the branch of a tree in her right hand, while the gods (lower case?) Brahma and Indra took the child out of her side without her experiencing any pain. We do not challenge the Night Journey of Mohammed, rising with the angel Jibril from one heaven to another.
It is more natural to think that these sacred texts have emanated from people aware of the divine Presence, of which they have sought to give an account in the language, and according to the ideas, of their own age. It is man, indeed, who creates his God in his own image.
Tell me what is the God of your heart and I shall know what your values are.
Tell me what your character is, and your ideal, and I shall understand what your God is and will not call him an idol.
Then we will be able to have a real debate about these things and maybe even do that fraternally.
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