No doubt I was not the only one left with his mouth gaping open when I read that the archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the worldwide Anglican Church, proclaimed, "Christian doctrine is offense to Muslims."
It's hard to know where to begin to assess such a statement, when one considers the source. Officially, the archbishop of Canterbury is the chief bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury, the Holy See that churches must be in communion with in order to be a part of the Anglican Communion.
So, this is not the proclamation of the Grand Poobah of the Fraternal Order of Water Buffalo, or the rantings of a self-appointed leader of some lunatic fringe cult.
The archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual head of one of the oldest mainstream Christian denominations of the Reformation and as such, a defender of the faith.
Except, evidently, where it offends Muslims.
According to Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, that is, the concept of one God in Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is "difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims." For the record, the Islamic doctrine that the Crucifixion was a lie is offensive to Christians. So is the Islamic doctrine that Mary was not a virgin, and the Islamic doctrine that Jesus is not the Son of God.
These doctrines are hugely offensive to Christians, since they deny the very foundations upon which Christianity rests. However, it is doubtful that most Muslims know, or care, which of their doctrines are offensive to Christians. Why should they?
Not only did the archbishop apologize to Islam for Christianity, he turned history on its head in the same document, accusing Christianity of "being promoted at the point of a sword."
I found this to be the most profoundly disturbing comment of all. Surely, the archbishop of Canterbury, of all people, knows that is impossible.
Christianity is not a political system. It isn't a church denomination. Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, independent of any church membership.
One cannot be forced at the point of a sword to enter into a relationship of faith. To argue that it is not only possible, but part of the heritage of the Church of Jesus Christ reveals a stunning lack of understanding of what Christianity is.
You cannot make someone believe – either at the point of a sword or in exchange for a kingdom.
The Apostle Paul predicted that, just before the time of the end, a great apostasy would come upon Christendom. "But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:1-2 ASV).
Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul warned that, before the revelation of the man of sin to a waiting world, there must first come a great falling away (apostasia) from the true faith.
When someone to can rise to the post as head of one of the largest denominations in Christianity without understanding the most basic elements of salvation, one can truly say that the apostasia has arrived.