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On September 13, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI addressed an audience at the University of Regensburgon the topic of “Faith, Reason, and the University.” While his message focused on the necessity of maintaining a religious faith based upon and commensurate with Reason, a quotation early in the speech from the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus (1350-1425) produced a highly negative reaction from Muslims around the world. In a discussion with a Persian scholar on the subject of Christianity’s relationship to Islam, the emperor had challenged his Muslim colleague to “show … just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” The citation was meant to be nothing more than a preface to a plea for rational discussion regarding religion, but many Muslims were incensed, considering the quotation to be further evidence of Christianity’s continuing “crusader mentality.”


Originally published as:

Poston, Larry. “’A Common Word?’ Reflections on Christian-Muslim Dialogue,” in Global Missiology 3 (April 2008).