Jesus in the Koran and Mohammed in the Bible

That was the title of a lecture I just attended in Ghent, given by professor Anton Wessels from Amsterdam. We regularly come together with a group of young Christians (catholics) and in this international week for unity among Christians and religions we went to this lecture for a change.

I was quite excited about the subject and hoped for a really interesting speech that would bring some new ideas in my mind. But it actually left me with a bit of a hungry feeling. The topics were touched but weren't quite satisfying. The professor surely gave us some food for thought and it was interesting to hear how moslims interpret and see some parts of the bible different than what we do. A bit confronting to hear your obvious interpretation of something challenged.

But the professors seemed to be on a mission to proof on all topics that in the end the bible, thora and koran were all the same. He did this with jumps in his logic that I could not keep track off, or he just waved by a point without truly explaining it. In the question session he irritatingly responded with long stories that made you wonder after 10 minutes in what way the explanation was in fact an answer to the question.

But I was also annoyed by fairly open reactions of some catholics surrounding me, disagreeing a bit too openly to points that were a new interpretation of our religion. I had the feeling that they were just a bit too defensive. (I must say in our discussion afterwards that they did see nuances though, but I still didn't like their grumbling and head shaking during the explanation).

Despite those irritations it was an interesting evening. I really enjoyed the fact that more than 100 people had showed up and that it was visibly a good mixture of young and old, catholics and protestants and moslims, ...
And afterwards we did have a good internal discussion. I am not sure if the professor truly wanted to suggest that we should almost just abandon in our traditions and prayers all contractory points and only keep the common shared points. I think difference should not need to be problematic and that keeping only the common factors might be a loss for both religions. It's in fact learning about the different point of views like we did tonight that can get us a more open mind and view our own religion with different eyes, without having to abondon our own specific views and traditions. The professor did not seemed to want to touch and acknowledge the fact that there are differences and it should indeed not be the main focus in a interreligious dialogue. Nevertheless we will always be different and that makes the cultural world mozaik more interesting, no? As long as we treasure these differences from both sides with respect and understanding.

So all in all, it was a good evening with good food for thought :)


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