Wednesday, February 27, 2008

N.T Wright on Rowan Williams and Sharia

Tom Wright has offered a response to the hoo-haa about Rowan William's lecture on Law and Religion in Britain. I liked this quote from Tom's short piece:

For 200 years it has been assumed that these operated in separate spheres: the law regulates my public life, faith or religion operate in private. This was always a dangerous half-truth, since many of the great world faiths, including Christianity itself, actually claim that all of life is included within religious obedience. As some of us used to be taught, if Jesus is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all. In recent years various governments, including our own, have pushed the other way, to suggest that the secular state is itself master of all of life, including religious conviction. That's why we've seen an airline worker sacked for wearing a cross, while in France the government has tried similarly to ban Muslim women from wearing their traditional head-covering. Because we haven't had to address these issues before, our society has tended to slide round them by emphasizing words like 'multiculturalism', which often doesn't actually mean that we celebrate our different cultures but rather that we subordinate them all to whatever the secular state wants. That is as much a problem for Catholic adoption agencies, as we saw last year, as it is for Muslims who want to follow their traditional teaching about (for instance) the prohibition of interest on loans while living within a society where the mortgage system is endemic. Rowan was going to the roots of these problems and coming up not only with fresh analysis but fresh solutions, particularly what he calls 'interactive pluralism'. The question of how we live together as a civil and wise society while cherishing different faiths is a deep and serious one and can't be pushed away just because people take fright at certain misunderstandings. His point was precisely that neither the secular state nor any particular religion can 'monopolize'.


Geoff Hudson said...

Let Muslim states accept Rowan's philosophy, and then may be the British might be more accommodating. There is undoubtedly a massive groundswell of distrust in Rowan. The state gives Rowan the freedom to express his views. But there are many countries of the world where he would not have such freedom, and it is to those countries that he should be directing his views.

We have already seen what can happen in this country to someone like Salmon Rushdie. Here anyone can write, say and act more or less what they like about Jesus. But try the same about Mohammed.

And Wright is completely wrong. Folk have always expected those with claims to faith to live a moral life.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Because of globalization, I have been thinking along these lines. If there is a need for a one world government, what type of government would that be? A secular state? If so, would the state determine the religious freedom a person would have? And how would the state determine who would have religious freedom? Would the form of government be represented by church AND state with two branches....I aqree with Geoff that some religious traditions are not tolerant and would not allow freedom of religion. That is the problem.