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Today I was asked a question which I have been asked a good number of times. So, I thought I would give a simple answer here. A young man wrote and asked: “Can you please tell me whether the descendants of Ismael are Muslims?”

Because I have been asked this question a good number of times I thought I would answer it simply here.

downloadNo. The descendants of Ishmael are the Arabs but not all Arabs are Muslims. In the Middle East from 200-650 AD, most Arabs were Christians, not Muslims. Islam did not get started until the mid-7th century. Mohammad conquered Mecca in 629 and subsequently, the Muslims swept through Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa with their armies and conquered these once Christian lands.

So Arabs are descendants of Ismael (Gen 25:12-18). Mohammed was an Arab. He started a new religion called Islam but not all Arabs followed him. Not all Arabs are Muslims. The largest Muslim nation is Indonesia and they are not Arabs. In fact, the three largest Muslim countries are not Arab.

According to Wikipedia, “Around 62% of the world’s Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region (from Turkey to Indonesia), with over 1 billion adherents. The largest Muslim population in a country is in Indonesia, a nation home to 12.7% of the world’s Muslims, followed by Pakistan (11.0%), and India (10.9%).

Arab is ethnic, Muslim is a religion. Ishmael is not the father of the Muslims, only of the Arabs.

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Edward Pentin interviewed Professor John Rist as to why he signed the controversial letter along with 85 other prominent theologians and scholars. Frankly, I admire these men who stood up and spoke out. They may not have proven formal heresy (which is something I leave to experts and canon lawyers) but the silence in the face of the papal confusion and seemingly intentional ambiguity and silence from the Pope and the Vatican is frustrating and divisive and to hear voices decrying such is refreshing. Where are the bishops?

Professor-John-Rist-CUAOne of many questions in Pentin’s interview with Risk is this: “What other concerns do you have that prompted you to sign the letter?”

Rist replied: I am concerned above all else to expose double-talk, which is how the present Pope has been evading charges of heresy. Uttering ambiguous and/or contradictory remarks on important issues must ultimately be viewed as a planned attempt to change doctrine by stealth. Had such ambiguities/contradictions been occasional, they could be attributed — in accord with the canonical principle of benignity — to “mere” muddle. Prolonged ambiguity on this scale requires that a sadder conclusion be drawn: that there is a design to achieve by stealth what could not be achieved by openly and unambiguously un-Catholic decrees.

What do you say to the various criticisms of the letter: that it represents an “extreme” and “intemperate” approach which “overstates” the case — as some see it — and this makes further criticism of this pontificate harder?

Criticisms of intemperance, etc., whatever their intent, can only have the effect of diverting attention from the main concerns: that the Pope is deliberately using ambiguity to change doctrine and that the attitude he adopts over appointments indicates that he is out of sympathy (to put it mildly) with traditional Catholic teachings on a whole range of subjects. Fussing about “extremism,” etc. seems like fiddling while Rome burns; what it shows is that even many conservatives do not want to grasp the gravity of a situation where the Pope seems bent on turning the Church into a vaguely spiritually flavored NGO.

Another criticism is that the signatories are not in a position to accuse the Pope of heresy, that only bishops can hold him to account for such a charge, and that the letter would have been better just calling on bishops to investigate the alleged heresies rather than accusing the Pope of them. What is your response to this view? 

But calling on the bishops is precisely what the letter does! The signatories are not in a position to convict a pope of heresy; they are in a position to “prosecute” the charge, and we judged it was our duty to do so. The letter is primarily and immediately a challenge to the bishops to act rather than ignore or wring hands only.

What is your view of the critique that it’s not yet possible to accuse Pope Francis of specific formal heresy, but he can be accused of deliberate ambiguity and confusion, or “drift” toward heresy, and that that might have made a better critique?

See my answer above. I am not a canonist, nor (see above) a judge. What I am is someone who believes he can recognize intended heresy in word [and] also how the words are confirmed by the actions.

For the whole interview in National Catholic Register here.

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Former Legionaire Priest Fr. Jonathan Morris to leave priesthood

May 18, 2019

After watching him on Fox News a good number of times over the years, I can’t say I’m surprised. He was always disappointing on Fox News and I always thought they could get a better representative of the Catholic Faith. Too bad when the Church is already in a crisis period that we have a […]

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Great New Didache Bible from Ignatius Press

May 18, 2019

The Didache Bible Is Here, Article by Dr. Jeff Mirus [Steve’s Comment]: I posted this a while ago, but want to make sure new readers are aware of this excellent new Bible with the right footnotes, maps, etc. This is my choice. [Miras’ article]: This Bible uses the Second Edition of the Catholic Edition of […]

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7 Reasons to Study the Cultural Backgrounds of the Bible

May 17, 2019

7 Reasons to Study the Cultural Backgrounds of the Bible Posted by Cierra Klatt on 09/06/2017 in Olive Tree Blog 1. Understand the audience: Grasping the original audience’s perspective helps us understand the setting to which the inspired authors communicated their message. 2. Understand how the text communicates: A text is ideas linked by threads of writing. Each phrase and each […]

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Last Day Parts 1 & 2: Via Dolorosa, Calvary, Mass at Tomb, Dancing in Bethlehem, Farewells

May 17, 2019

Our last day here in Israel was packed with events including free time. The climax of our trip was the Via Dolorosa and touching the top of Calvary where the blood of Jesus flowed. After that we had a tour of the church of the Holy Sepulchre before we had Mass with the Franciscans at […]

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How We REALLY Got the Bible – the Facts Simply Presented (print this out, hand it out)

May 16, 2019

This is just one page of Bob Sullivan’s excellent little tri-fold handout to explain how we got the Bible. It is from the Catholic and historical perspective without all the Protestant biases and twisting of history. I think you enjoy the whole thing which you can see here. You can print this out, fold it […]

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Day 7: Mass at Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Upper Room, Mount Zion, Shroud Exhibit and more

May 15, 2019

In summary, today was surrounding the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion. We started with Mass at Gethsemane which for many people is the most moving site on the trip (homily here). Up to the Paternoster where Jesus taught his disciples to pray the Our Father and Ascended into Heaven. Upper Room and Church of […]

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Todd Meade Story: From Southern Baptist Liberty University to Catholic

May 15, 2019

    Every spiritual life is a journey. Mine began in Warner Robins, Georgia in 1971. I was born into a good Methodist family and had a strong Christian foundation laid for me in childhood. But unfortunately, as is all too common, during my teenage years I drifted away somewhat from this good foundation and was […]

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Day 6: Museum, Jericho, Jordan River, Qumran, Dead Sea and Camels

May 14, 2019

This is more of a fun day.  We had Mass to start the day at the Notre Dame chapel (homily here).  We visit the Israel museum to see the city of Jerusalem on a small scale from the time of Christ. We also see the Dead Sea Scrolls before descending down into the Judean wilderness […]

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What Happened to the Apostles after the New Testament?

May 14, 2019

 

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Day 5: Bethlehem all day AND Solemn Entry into Tomb

May 13, 2019

Today we spent the whole day in Bethlehem and had Mass in a cave. Again the homily was exceptional. We visited the Church of the Nativity to touch the Birthplace of Christ and spent time shopping and supporting the local Christians. We drove to the Promenade where I told my “Story of Salvation History from Adam […]

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Is there Evidence for Jesus outside the Bible?

May 13, 2019

Some people may think Jesus is a mythical figure like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Others think Jesus might be historical but only mentioned in the Bible is the only source of information on the existence of Jesus. They question whether Jesus really existed as a real historical figure. Is the Bible the only […]

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Day 4: Capernaum, Boat Ride, Eating St.Peters Fish, Visitation & Arrival in Jerusalem!

May 12, 2019

Today is the big transition from a Galilee to Jerusalem. We only move once during our pilgrimages for the convenience of the people. This morning was all about the Sea of Galilee where we had Mass at Capernaum where Jesus said “Eat My Flesh, Drink My Blood.” The readings were from John chapter 6 – […]

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The Eucharist: the Flesh Profits Nothing

May 12, 2019

Since we are in Capernaum today, I decided to share a few words related to the site. I was recently asked a related questions questionic Answers Live. Capernaum is where Jesus said “Eat My Flesh; Drink My Blood.” I thought it would be appropriate to answer an e-mail I received a while ago from a man named […]

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