It is with great interest that i read Menj's recent posting, "Christian Test 1". By applying a passage in the Gospel of Matthew, he wanted to prove that since Europe and the general Western civilization is basically bankrupt and corrupt, that means that Christianity, through the "tree of Paul", is bad. Confusing i know, but if you read menj's original post, it does make a sort of logical sense.
Whether or nor menj's assertions are correct, is beyond me -- i'm no master of comparative religion and even if i were, there is wisdom in witholding judgement. But what i will comment on is the sort of "negative politics" menj has committed.
In a political campaign, and let's just assume for a moment that the religions of the world were all political parties, there is what you call "positive politics" and "negative politics". Positive politics involves talking about the merits of your political philosohpy -- how you're going to cut taxes, how you'll reduce the national budget deficit, how you will create more jobs, etc. Negative politics involves bashing the other party -- you're wrong because your economic policy sucks, Kerry will be a useless Commander in Chief because he's a sissy liberal tree-hugging democrat, etc. etc.
While there is a place in politics for such negativity, it doesn't belong in any inter-religious discussion because (1) by questioning the validity of another's faith, you're questioning the core of his soul and total system of beliefs -- people don't like that, and (2) it really serves no purpose. Let's expand a bit on this.
Let's assume for a moment that you logically prove (as menj was trying to do) that Christianity, as a results of Paul's "bad tree, therefore bad fruit", is wrong. Your logic is not going to matter to a single God-fearing Christian; you may be "right" but still be "wrong" to them. The only conclusive result, therefore, will be ill will and friction. And, really, who needs that in today's world when there is already more than enough ill will and friction to go around.
As a final note, perhaps i will throw my hat into the discussion menj has created: the "bad fruit" menj mentioned is not exclusive to any single religion. You've got some pretty nasty Muslims out there too. You've also got some very, very good Christians too. The colour of your faith does not determine your character, your actions or your morality. Its not religion that makes us good or bad; its what we choose to make religion do for us that does. At the end of the day, God judges us all, and He will judge us fairly.