The German Interior Minister was recently interviewed by Spiegel. It begins with a nice example of the “authenticity” error (i.e., my understanding of the tradition is correct and any other is false):
Interior Minister: But we also have to realize that the abuse of Islam by Islamist extremists has contributed to this.
Spiegel: Anders Breivik claims to have acted in the name of Christendom. In doing so, is he misusing Christianity in a way that’s similar to how Osama bin Laden misused Islam?
Interior Minister: Someone who disregards individuals’ life and limb, and their dignity as human beings, cannot invoke Christianity.
Islamists “abusing Islam”? Breivek “misusing Christianity”? Islamists can and do invoke Islam to support their views and actions, just as Breivek invoked Christianity to support his views and actions. It is textual and historical nonsense to assert there is only one way (i.e., the Minister’s neutered and progressive one) to understand Islam and Christianity.
While the Minister’s authenticity error is common enough and mildly risible, the interview shortly takes a turn for the bizarre:
Spiegel: On your first day in office as German interior minister, you famously said that the idea that Islam is part of Germany is something “that cannot be proved by history.”
Minister: I was talking about the issue of Germany’s identity. This identity is shaped by Christianity and the Enlightenment, not by Islam. I don’t have to qualify that.
Is he talking about the identity that resulted in the horrors of a world war and genocide? Onward, Enlightened German Christian soldiers.