Tuesday, March 23, 2010

At Long Last: a reply to the HP in re Prophet

It has been too long, since I appeared in these pages, if I do say so myself.

A good deal of water has passed under the bridge in that time, and I have much to say about it all, especially about the health care reform legislation that just passed, about the debate over it, and the consequences of it.

Before I get to those things, however, I owe a reply to the HP, who has kept the hearth admirably in my absence.

The issue is one of closed versus open witness, articulated in two separate posts (part 1 & part 2).

Specifically, the question is whether the description of Mohammad as "the prophet" in journalistic pieces is a violation of the neutrality that ought to attend the practice of that profession.

I tend to think it is, generally.

Coupled with journalists' and editors' naked references to Jesus, i.e. to Jesus sic et simpliciter, rather than as, "Christ", the appellation, "the prophet", is definitely inappropriate when attached to the founder of Islam.

The reason for this is that the two claims are basically incompatible: if Jesus is the Anointed One of the Lord, in the sense His followers claim He is, then the founder of Islam is a false prophet. Conversely: if Mohammad is a prophet in even the loosest possible interpretation of the sense he claims to be, then the claim of Jesus' followers, i.e. their participation in the confessio petri, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," is utterly vacant and completely false.

So, to call Mohammad a prophet is to violate the spirit of journalistic neutrality.

I would propose referring to Jesus as Jesus, and to Mohammad as either Mohammad, or as the founder of Islam.

As the HP points out, to call Him by name is not to deny His nature.


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