Letter 2: Is sincerity all that matters?

Dear Abdallah,


I knew I would be right in expecting your reply straight from the heart. Thank you!


I acknowledge your sentiments and do not doubt your sincerity for one minute. Sincerity must be the foundation of any conversation regarding God and our relationship with Him. However, it must be linked to established facts. We have to ask the question: Is what I sincerely believe really and factually true? A mother may sincerely believe in the innocence of her son that has just been convicted of a crime. But is he by that token innocent? Not our degree of sincerity will determine that, but an investigation. Sincerity cannot change error into truth.


The important thing, therefore, is not our sincerity as such, but the object of our sincerity. Please accept, therefore, that while I appreciate your sincerity, I query part of what you accept as fact. Let me explain.


You state that you have deeply rooted reservations about the trustworthiness of today’s version of the Bible. While I somehow expected this, it still surprises me! Let me try to respond to your suspicion. First of all, we will have to make a distinction between established facts and our interpretation of them. What Islam never permitted, happened to Christianity. For the last couple of centuries Bible critics, many of them theologians, took the liberty to table and propagate their critique, which was often based on very extravagant interpretations. These all too often reflect their expedient, personal convictions and opinions by which they interpret the Bible. However, there are and have been other critics, and one would need to listen to what they have to say.