The Cross and the Falsification of Islam

By Samuel Inbaraja

Sura 4:156-159 states:

 

“Allah set a seal upon them owing to their unbelief, so they shall not believe except a few. And for their unbelief and for their having uttered against Marium a grievous calumny. And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa  son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and  they killed him not for sure. Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise. Andthere is not one of the followers of the Book but most certainly believes in this before his death, and on the day of  resurrection he (Isa) shall be a witness against them.”

The Quran claims that Jesus was not killed. It denies the death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary.

The Crucifixion of Jesus attested by both biblical and extra-biblical evidences.
Cross Islam

1.Biblical Evidence:

Eye-witnesses record

  • Sleepless night of trial in three places – High Priest to Pilate to Herod and Back to Pilate.
  • After being ordered to be executed Jesus was ‘scourged’ by Romans and exhausted by being sent to various places.
  • Carries the Cross to Golgotha – Unable – helped by Simon of Cyrene.
  • Crucified between two criminals  – Crucifixion  – Difficulty to breathing – Break legs – Cannot breath
  • Submits his Spirit to God – Breathes his last
  • Centurion finds he is dead –No respiration – so does not break his bones –Spear thrust into the sides– Water and blood gush out
  • Pilate asks to check if he is dead before handing over to Joseph of Arimathea. Ref:Mark 15:45
  • Death doubly confirmed in eye witness testimony in  the Gospel narratives
  • Earliest Traditions in the New Testament contained in 1 Corinthians 15, date back to early part of the third decade of the first century.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received,that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles (1 Corinthians 15: 3- 7)

Skeptical Scholar John Dominic Crossan says that the death of Jesus “is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”

2. Scientific Proof 

crucifixion

 “Jesus of Nazareth underwent Jewish and Roman trials, was flogged, and was sentenced to death by crucifixion. The scourging produced deep stripe like lacerations and appreciable blood loss, and it probably set the stage for hypovolemic shock, as evidenced by the fact that Jesus was too weakened to carry the crossbar (patibulum) to Golgotha. At the site of crucifixion, his wrists were nailed to the patibulum and, after the patibulum was lifted onto the upright post (stipes), his feet were nailed to the stipes. The major pathophysiologic effect of crucifixion was an interference with normal respirations. Accordingly, death resulted primarily from hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia. Jesus’ death was ensured by the thrust of a soldier’s spear into his side. Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross.”

—  Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 1986;255:1455-1463)

3. Extra – biblical Evidence

“All human efforts . . . of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus , and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.” – Tacitus

“after him whom they still worship—the man who was crucified in Palestine for  introducing this new cult into the world” – Lucian of Samosata

“In the third book of his Histories, Thallus calls this darkness a solar eclipse. In my opinion, this is nonsense because Jesus died at the time of a full moon, which necessitates a “wonderful sign,” or miracle, instead.” – Julius Africanus .

“What advantage did the Jews gain by executing their wise King? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished” –  Mara bar Serapon

“And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him;”  –  Josephus, Jewish Historian

“On (Sabbath eve and) the eve of Passover Jesus the Nazarene was hanged. And a herald wentforth before him 40 days (heralding): Jesus the Nazarene is going forth to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and instigated and seduced Israel (to idolatry). Whoever knows anything in his defense, may come and state it. But since they did not find anything in his defense, they hanged him on (Sabbath eve and) the eve of Passover.” – Babylonian Talmud

 

Conclusion

The Quran claims to be the perfect inerrant revelation of God.The Quran denies the death of Christ. History confirms the death of Christ. Therefore Quran is not inerrant; Quran is not the revelation of God. So Mohammed the messenger who delivered the message in the Quran and claimed to be a prophet from God is a False Prophet and Islam which claims to be the true way is proved to be false religion. Thus the death of Christ on the Cross falsifies the Quran and proves that Mohammed is a false prophet and disproves Islam as false cult.

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Resource for Greater Impact

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Allah or Jesus? Is God One? Interview with Nabeel Qureshi

Nabeel Qureshi is one of the leading apologists today on Islam. Raised in a devout Muslim home in the United States, Nabeel became a Christian in college. He records his faith journey in his first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (2014). His second book, Answering Jihad, was written as his response to the “why” behind the recent jihadist terrorist attacks. His latest book, No God but One: Allah or Jesus? A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam & Christianity, released in August 2016. It is an excellent book for Christians to better understand Islam and how to answer tough questions Muslims often raise, but also a great book to give to your Muslim friend.

Interview with Nabeel Qureshi

Along with his MD, Nabeel has three Master’s degrees, including an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University (where I teach). Coinciding with this latest book release, Nabeel was diagnosed with late stage stomach cancer. Nabeel answers a few questions related to his most recent book:

Q: Why did you write No God but One: Allah or Jesus?

A: My heart for this book really is to let the world know the reasons why we can be confident that the Christian faith is true, particularly to Muslims who might be seeking. Also, there are a lot of Christians who are considering Islam. They haven’t heard some of the things that are true about Islam. They’ve heard stories, they’ve heard notions, but they haven’t really studied the evidence or learned some of the darker issues. My book is designed to help people understand the strengths and weaknesses of Islam and Christianity. I believe my book shows that the Christian case is much stronger than the Muslim case.

Q: What is your hope for No God but One: Allah or Jesus?

A: My hope is ultimately that 100,000 Muslims would read No God but One and give their lives to the Lord. I know that’s quite a number, but that’s my prayer. There are millions of Muslims who are searching and considering whether or not Islam is true. Of course, what the Lord does with the book is ultimately what’s most important.

Q: How do you respond when a Muslim says there is nowhere in the Bible where Jesus claims to be God?

A. That’s one of the first questions Muslims very frequently ask. I would say you have to start with the Gospel of John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and then you can show how the Word became flesh and dwelt among us in John 1:14. Someone will probably respond and say, “This isn’t Jesus speaking; this is John speaking.” We can respond by explaining that John was Jesus’ disciple. This is why it’s so important to understand the evidence for Islam and Christianity in contrast, because if you just compare one without understanding the other, it can be problematic. Muslims are very ready to tell you what Muhammad said. The problem is, we don’t have Muhammad saying anything. We have other people recording what he said, in the same way that we have John recording what Jesus said, or John recording things about Jesus.

If we can trust anything we know about Muhammad, we can trust that John the disciple wrote John’s Gospel. It’s having similar standards across the board. Of course, I’ve spoken to many Muslims, and the objection still comes up, “But these aren’t Jesus’ words.” Then you can point throughout the rest of the Gospel of John, where Jesus says in John 5, for example, “Honor Me like you honor God.” Let’s examine that statement. Could a prophet ever say, “Honor Me like you honor God?” Jesus says that He is the king of His own kingdom. Jesus also says, “Pray in My name when I am gone, and whatever you ask, I will give it to you.” That’s fascinating. Jesus isn’t even going to be on Earth, and He can hear you when you pray, and He can give you what you ask for?

In John 20:28, Thomas calls Jesus, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus affirms his exclamation, saying in essence, “Finally. You have believed. Blessed are those who haven’t seen and have believed.” Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus is God. Another approach that I often take is with the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 14:62, Jesus’s words [about being the Son of Man and sitting at God’s right hand] are a claim to be God. So when Muslims say, “Where did Jesus say, ‘I’m God?'” My response to them is often, “Did Jesus speak English?” They’ll say, “No.” I’ll say, “What language did He speak?” They’ll usually say “Hebrew” or “Aramaic” or “Greek.” However they respond, I’ll say, “Okay, so we need to understand that He’s speaking in the idiom of that language.”

In his time and language, when you say you are the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father and coming with the clouds of heaven, as Jesus does in Mark 14:62, you’re claiming to be God. You can show that by turning to Daniel 7 and also Psalm 110:1. It’s important we know our Scriptures, and it’s important to be able to unpack for Muslims what Jesus is saying.

Q: How do you share the gospel with Muslim friends and neighbors without being too rude or insulting toward their faith?

A: Open your life to your Muslim friends, just like you would anyone else. Befriend them, and as you’re watching TV together or as you’re eating a meal together, or whatever things you would do with anybody else, be ready to talk about your faith. It’s not so much a matter of figuring out what to say, or having a script, as much as having the right attitude. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your Muslim neighbor as yourself. As you love your neighbor, love God. Let them see your love for God.

Let’s say you’re going through a difficult time or have heard some bad news, and you’re wrestling with that information. You can allow your neighbor to come into your life or knock on your neighbor’s door and say, “Hey, I just want to hang out.” Then, in the midst of your trouble, you can demonstrate your ongoing faith in Christ and what He has promised, that He will deliver, that He is our Savior, and that you trust in Him.

Let your Muslim neighbor, whom you love, see your love for God. If God has heard your prayers, then tell your Muslim neighbor that God has heard your prayers. In that, you witness to your neighbor through life. Of course, you might have some Muslim neighbors who are not from the same culture as you, and that can make interactions more complicated and tricky. I would learn as much as I could about how to welcome them from their own cultural idiom, so that you can be hospitable, so that you can host them, and in that context, love them.

Q: What should be our response to nominalism within American Christianity?

A: Nominal Christians are far more problematic than Islam. A lot of people ask, “Is atheism or Islam the most pressing concern we have as American Christians?” Neither. Apathetic Christians should be our most pressing concern.

Nominal Christianity gives the wrong message to most of the world. It makes people think Christianity is a faith that is lacking, a faith that produces lukewarm people. They don’t realize that Christianity infuses you with life. The gospel message allows you to truly live. It means living even though we die. We as Christians have to be lights. We have to be passionate for our God. We need to show the people around us—be they Christians, Muslims, or whoever—that the Christian faith is a passionate faith. It’s an all-or-nothing faith.

For example, look at Jesus’ teachings. He’s all in, and He says you can’t be halfway in. Take tithing, for example. In the Old Testament, tithing was clear; you give 10%. That’s a tithe. In the New Testament, are we told anywhere to give 10%? No. Some people may say, ” I don’t have to tithe as a Christian.” It’s the other way around. Jesus asks for absolutely everything, 100%. You don’t tithe as a Christian because you need give everything—your life, your clothes, your food. You trust Him with everything. That’s what it means to be a Christian. It’s all in. For the same reason, Jesus says not to worry about where you live, what you’ll eat, or what you’ll drink. You have to trust God. It’s 100% in.

Q: Is jihad a Quranic concept?

A: That’s very clear, yes. Surah 9 of the Quran is the best surah to reference because it’s the clearest on jihad. It’s also nearly the last surah written chronologically, almost like marching orders. Surah 9, verse 111 says very clearly that Allah has bought your persons and your property that you might slay in battle and be slain. Allah makes you a Muslim so you’ll fight in battle. That’s what surah 9, verse 111 of the Quran says.

Q: How do we respond to a Muslim who says Surah 9 does not apply to Muslims today?

A: That’s what my former sect of Islam used to say. They’d explain that surah 9 was contextual to a specific battle, and it doesn’t apply anymore.

The problem with that view is that it’s completely disconnected from the Islamic traditions. If you believe Muhammad is a prophet, you have to accept the Islamic traditions. There’s no other way to conclude Muhammad is a prophet, no historically consistent way to conclude it anyway, without following them. Within those very same traditions, surah 9 is the last major chapter of the Quran to be composed, and it was not limited to a specific context. It was the final marching orders for Muslims. To say that surah 9 doesn’t apply to Muslims anymore is an unhistorical or inconsistent way of interpreting the Islamic traditions.

Q: Do Muslims in general think critically about their faith, or is that a Western mindset?

A: There are two factors to consider. One would be West versus East, and the other would be educated versus non-educated. Critical thinking often comes with higher education. In the West, the focus on critical thinking seems to be a lot stronger than in the Middle East. I’m not saying Middle Easterners don’t think critically. Many do, and many are excellent critical thinkers, but the focus on authority in the Middle East is far stronger than the focus on truth in the West. In the West, we emphasize the individualism to arrive at truth however you arrive at it. Your truth is your truth. My truth is my truth. The relativism of truth has taken the matter a bit too far in the West. Whereas in the Middle East and in eastern areas of the world in general, honor comes from obeying authority or following lines of tradition, which means less critical thinking. It’s a natural outcome of following authority that questions are not as welcomed. You generally have to be either an educated Muslim or a Western Muslim to be a critical thinker about faith.

Q: In Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, you described your initial encounter with Christian music as negative. Have you found any worship music you like?

A: Early in my Christian walk, it was shocking to see people singing and leading music up front on a stage. It seemed very irreverent. I was not used to any music in a mosque. I was not used to women standing at the front in a mosque. Since then, I must say that I draw closest to God during corporate times of worship, and I am talking about worship music in particular—hymns and modern worship songs. The church I attended in Atlanta, Georgia, for example, was Passion City Church, where Chris Tomlin was the worship leader. He left to go to Nashville, and then David Crowder was often the worship leader. I love worshiping with contemporary music.

Q: Is it fair to say that while Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God, both faiths attempt to worship the same God, though obviously arriving at very different results?

A: In No God but One and also in Answering Jihad, I discuss that in one verse in the Quran, Muslims are told to say to Christians and Jews that we worship the same God as you do, yet throughout the rest of the Quran it’s very clear Islam rejects a Trinity. It rejects that Jesus is God and that God is a Father. If you believe Jesus is God, according to surah 5, verse 72, you will go to hell. How could it be that Muslims and Christians worship the same God if you will go to hell for worshiping the Christian God if you’re a Muslim? It goes further than that. The Christian God is triune, one being in three persons. The Muslim god is absolutely one, and there’s a doctrine within Islam called tawhid, which teaches not only is God absolutely one, but that his oneness is the most essential doctrine of Islam.

So Islam affirms as its most important doctrine an explicit rejection of the Trinity. This is not an incidental difference. It is intentionally antithetical, and that’s why I argue Muslims and Christians worship different gods.

Q: What is Islamophobia in your opinion?

A: There is a very real incidence of Islamophobia in the West. Some people see anything Muslim as dangerous or evil. At the same time, some things are called Islamophobia aren’t. For example, is discussing Muhammad’s violence Islamophobia? No. Is talking about the violence within Islam Islamophobia? No. Is saying that Islam misses the truth on some matters Islamophobia? No. In order to shut down conversation, people may say, “You’re being Islamophobic.” The word phobia can be used these days to shut down conversations. I don’t think that is an accurate use of the term “Islamophobia.”

Q: Do you think Muhammad knew or understood the Trinity? Did he receive wrong information about the Trinity?

A: In my honest opinion, I’m not sure we can know much of anything about Muhammad. All the Muslim records about Muhammad’s life are late, and they’re contradictory. They share information that is relatively unbelievable. They come from questionable sources. For example, if we try to corroborate some of the details we’re told in Islamic narratives, such as the simple fact that Muhammad was born in Mecca, there is no record of Mecca existing before the beginning of the eighth century. The Islamic narratives consistently claim he was born there, so the average Muslim will say, “Of course he was born in Mecca.” Yet there are no archaeological finds before the beginning of the eighth century within Mecca. According to the traditions, Mecca was a major trade city on multiple trade routes, yet merchants used to keep meticulous records of their trade routes, and Mecca isn’t found in any. How confident can we be that Muhammad was actually born in Mecca at the end of the sixth century? There’s no historical reason to be confident.

Or consider the term “Muslim” in the seventh century. According to Islamic narratives, Muslims conquered parts of Persia and Egypt, having been sent out by Muhammad’s teachings. Yet historically those Arabs who conquered Persia, Egypt, and Jerusalem never called themselves Muslims. They never used the term “Muslim.” They didn’t quote the Quran. Instead, they referred to themselves using other terms, “Sassinids,” for example. They’d also refer to themselves by their tribal names. All to say, when you attempt to corroborate early Islamic narratives with the hard evidence of archaeology, or numismatics, or trade routes, they don’t check out.

Getting back to the question, did Muhammad understand the Trinity? The Quran itself gets the Trinity wrong. The councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon had occurred hundreds of years before the Quran was composed, yet the Quran views the Trinity as Father, Son, and Wife. For instance, when Allah asks Jesus whether he told people to worship him and Mary alongside Allah, Jesus says no. That’s the Trinity the Quran assumes. Was there ever such a view of the Trinity? Sort of. The Barbelo Gnostics, from the end of the second century, are recorded to have worshiped Father, Son, and Mother, so Muhammad may have gotten some of his references about Christianity from Gnostics.

Q: In light of your health situation, do you have plans for another book?

A: I do. I’m working on my next book now. There are unknown factors that may affect when or how this book releases, but I’ve been working on it for some time. It’s entitled The Questions Muslims Ask and the Answers that Convert Them. It addresses 20 key questions, and it’s designed to help believers see the heart of Muslims and what captures their hearts as they’re coming to Christ. It should also be a good book to give to Muslim friends. I noticed with Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus that some Muslims disregarded my story because I grew up in a different sect than their one, assuming my story wouldn’t be relevant to them. This book will represent a vast array of Muslims, Shia, Sunni, Western, Eastern, nominal, and devout.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D.is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

Prayer Request: We humbly ask all of our readers to take time and pray for our brother Nabeel Qureshi as he battles with cancer. Thank you and God bless.


Resources for Greater Impact:

No God but One BOOK Review CLEAR

No God but One: Allah or Jesus?: A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity

Answering_Islam DVD

Answering Islam

[Mp4 Download]

[DVD]

[Mp3 Download]

Book Review: No God But One: Allah or Jesus? by Nabeel Qureshi

By Timothy Fox

Are Christianity and Islam different paths to the same God? Is Jesus really divine or just another prophet? Which is the true word of God, the Koran or the Bible? In No God But One: Allah or Jesus? (NGBO), Nabeel Qureshi explores many of the most common questions involving Islam and Christianity to show “the differences between Islam and Christianity have great implications, and that the evidence of history strongly supports the Christian claims” (11).

Nabeel Qureshi

But this book is not merely academic; it’s personal. Nabeel calls NGBO a “summary of fifteen years of research that wrenched my heart and transformed my life.” The content and tone will be familiar to anyone who read his first book,Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (SAFJ), which chronicles his journey from a devout Muslim to follower of Christ. While Nabeel says that book is “the heart of my story, detailing the relationships, emotions, and spiritual struggles in my search for God,” NGBO is “the mind of my story, examining the religions and their claims” (11).

Another similarity with SAFJ is the use of personal experiences to frame deep theological issues, making NGBO both engaging and easy to read. As I read his previous book, Answering Jihad (read my review here), I was amazed at how Nabeel approached such a difficult topic with great sensitivity, clarity, and brevity. The same goes for his latest. A lesser writer could have used four times the amount pages to convey the same information but Nabeel makes his points simply and with ease, moving briskly from one topic to the next while still providing a thorough response.

Content

NGBO is divided into two main sections, each framed around a key question. The first is “Are Islam and Christianity Really All That Different?” Nabeel discusses five points of contention between the religions: sharia vs. the gospel, Allah’s unity vs. the Trinity, Jesus vs. Muhammad, the Koran vs. the Bible, and Jihad vs. the Crusades. But again, this is not just scoring points in a religious sparring match; it’s the result of a lifetime of careful study: “A decade of experiences as a Christian contrasted with my first twenty-two years of life as a Muslim leaves me no alternative conclusion: Christianity is very different from Islam” (169).

After establishing the vast differences between the religions, the second question is “Can We Know Whether Islam or Christianity Is True?” The case for Christianity rests on three facts: Jesus’ death, resurrection, and deity. Nabeel states “If all three are true, we have good reason to accept the Christian message” (173). To establish the truthfulness of Islam, he focuses on its holy book and prophet: “If we can determine that the Koran is the word of God, or if we can determine that Muhammad is a messenger of God, then we have good reason to accept Islam” (175). Nabeel explores these five points by using the historical method and interacting with the works of leading scholars.

But what if you are already a committed Christian and have no interest in Islam? This book is still important for you as the objections to Christianity that Nabeel answers are not unique to Muslims. Many a skeptic has questioned the reliability of the New Testament or accused the concept of the Trinity of being incoherent. And don’t forget that Nabeel began as a critic of Christianity and raised all of these objections himself.

Conclusion

NBGO ends with a third, deeply personal question: “Is it worth sacrificing everything for the truth?” Because accepting the truth comes with a price. Here in America, we think changing religions is as simple as switching political parties. However, “Leaving Islam can cost you everything: family, friends, job, everything you have ever known and maybe even life itself” (349). Nabeel learned this firsthand, as did Fatima, a young Saudi woman whose courageous and heartbreaking story sets the tone for the entire book.

No, Christianity and Islam are not two paths to the same God. They present radically different views of God and salvation and only one can be true. So who is God, Allah or Jesus? Nabeel concludes:

“There is no God but one, and He is Father, Spirit, and Son. There is no God but one, and He is Jesus” (349).


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Islamic Terror, Homosexuality, & the Consequences of Ideas

By Tim Stratton

Sunday morning I awoke to horrific news on my Facebook feed: an Islamic terrorist brutally gunned down over fifty of our fellow human beings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This broke my heart and made me extremely angry! I cannot imagine the sorrow, pain, and anguish the friends and family members of the deceased victims are currently experiencing. This was an objectively evil act – it was wrong!

As soon as I read the headlines and processed the fact that evil has once again reared its ugly head, I told my wife what was going to happen next. Like clockwork, people were going to insist that “religion is the problem,” or that “guns are the problem.” The statements made on social media over the past few hours have validated my prediction. In this article I will examine both of these statements and offer a third option that must be considered if we are to extinguish terror, hate, and evil.

“Religion is the Problem!”

Since 9-11, many atheists have pontificated, “Religion is what’s wrong in the world today.” They conclude that since Muslims were behind the terror attacks on September the 11th, 2001, and Islam is a religion, then religion is to blame for the terror in the world today. This attempt at an argument can be written in the following syllogism:

1- Islam is responsible for the 9-11 terror attacks.
2- Islam is a religion.
3- Therefore, religion is responsible for the 9-11 terror attacks.

This argument fails as it commits the logical fallacy of composition. This error involves an assumption that what is true about one part of something must be applied to all, or other parts of it. In this case, the atheist assumes that since one particular religion affirms terror, then all religions affirm terror.

If one were to allow this argument to pass, then we could jump to all kinds of crazy conclusions. For example, according to several reports I read following the terror attack in Orlando, the terrorist was a registered Democrat. If one allows the above argument to pass, then the following argument would suffice as well:

1- The terrorist responsible for murdering homosexuals in the gay nightclub was a registered Democrat.
2- Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama are Democrats.
3- Therefore, Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama are responsible for the murders of homosexuals in the gay nightclub.

Obviously this is ridiculous and such reasoning is incoherent. Reasonable people will reject such “conclusions.” Thus, a reasonable person will reject the so-called “conclusion” that, “religion is the problem with the world today.” This is explicitly demonstrated when surveying other religions and world views.

Take the religion of Christianity, for example. A necessary condition for one to be a legitimate Christian is that they desire, and strive, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus are clearly contradictory to the teachings of Muhammad and Islam. Sure, the two religions share some overlapping beliefs: Christians and Muslims all agree, for example, that the universe began to exist and was caused and created by an enormously powerful Intelligent Designer, but they begin to part ways soon after. The final teachings from both of these religions are quite different with Muhammad commanding Muslims to kill all infidels (non-Muslims) in the Quran, and Jesus commanding his followers to love all people, from their neighbors (Mark 12:31) to their enemies (Matthew 5:44), in the Bible. Moreover, according to Islam, those in the LGB community are to be executed. According to Jesus, however, although homosexual acts go against God’s plan, the ones committing these homosexual acts are to be loved!

Let me repeat myself: According to the law of Christ found in the New Testament, homosexual acts are sinful, but homosexuals are to be LOVED! Click here for more!

“Guns are the Problem!”

Many others in America today see horrendous headlines of Islamic terror and immediately jump to the hasty conclusion that guns are the real problem. The error with this line of thinking is that it does not take into consideration all of the other means by which evil people can accomplish their evil plans. After all, the Nazis used poisonous gas to kill millions of Jews, the Ku Klux Klan used rope to hang African Americans, Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer to kill 168 people, and Islamic terrorists killed thousands of Americans on 9-11 without firing a single bullet.

If one thinks banning guns is going to stop hate crimes, then, to be consistent, they must also strive to ban all gas, rope, fertilizer, and airplanes too. This is obviously ridiculous as well, as the real problem does not lie within the tools that an evil man uses to accomplish his evil desires, but the desires of the evil man. If all guns, rope, fertilizer, and airplanes were banished from the face of the earth, these evil men would continue to find ways to accomplish their hateful plans. This is a much bigger problem.

Ideas are the Problem!

These evil desires typically stem from previously held ideas. The way one thinks directly leads to the way one acts, and the way one believes directly influences the way he behaves. You see, the problem is not all religions, all guns, all rope, all fertilizer, or all airplanes. The problem is ALLbeliefs, thoughts, and ideas that do not correspond to reality.

Ideas have consequences, and ideas that do not correspond to reality have painful consequences. These underlying ideas are referred to as one’s worldview. A worldview is a foundational set of beliefs that ultimately influence all other beliefs built upon this foundation.

Consider the worldview (or idea) of atheism. It is vitally important to understand what consistent atheism logically implies: If God does not exist, then there is nothing objectively good, bad, right, wrong, fair, or evil with anything! Watch this short video to understand exactly why this is true. It logically follows that if naturalistic atheism is true, then there is nothing really wrong with the Islamic terrorist shooting homosexuals at the gay nightclub in Orlando this past weekend. Moreover, if naturalistic atheism is true, this Muslim had no choice in the matter, as the laws of physics and chemistry forced this poor terrorist to believe and behave exactly as he did. It was simply not his fault.

To make matters worse for atheists, history is not on their side. This past century has provided evidence as to the consequences of following atheistic ideas, as the nations governed according to these ideals usually end in suffering and mass human slaughter. The atrocities committed in the name of atheism by Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and arguably Hitler being influenced by naturalism’s “survival of the fittest,” has caused devastating collisions with the reality of morality; human suffering and death followed on a massive scale.

If naturalistic atheism were true, then there would be nothing really wrong, bad, or evil with any action and there would be no ability to make moral choices. Couple that with the historical fact that communistic governments officially adopting atheism (or being influenced by it) make all murders under the umbrella of “religion” pale in comparison. Why would anyone want to hold to an incoherent worldview like atheism over the ideas of Jesus teaching all people to love all people? Can you imagine a world where everyone loves everyone? That sounds like heaven to me — maybe Jesus was on to something!

So, if you are keeping score, here is a quick recap: In regards to the terrorist attacks at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida this past weekend, here is what each worldview affirms; or rather, here are the consequences that follow from each set of ideas:

1- Consistent Islam: this attack was GOOD as Muhammad’s final commands were to kill the infidels (Take five minutes to understand by clicking here).

2- Consistent Atheism: there was NOTHING objectively WRONG with these attacks. In fact, on naturalistic atheism it is unavoidable. Terrorists are therefore not responsible for their actions.

3- Consistent Christianity: this attack was objectively WRONG and EVIL! According to the law of Christ, all humans are commanded to love all humans (even the ones we disagree with). According to Jesus, we are to love everyone from our neighbors to our enemies. Thus, one who consistently follows the teachings of Jesus will demonstrate love to all people (even the ones he disagrees with)!

Is there a best choice option? Yes there is. The one supported by all of the evidence and the same one commanding us to love!

Bottom line: If you agree that these Islamic terror attacks against homosexuals at the gay nightclub were objectively wrong and evil, then, to be logically consistent, you must reject atheism, Islam, or any other view that disagrees with the teachings of Jesus Christ. If you think terror and persecution against the homosexual community is objectively wrong, then you ought to be a Christ follower!

Stay reasonable (Philippians 4:5) and love one another (John 13:34-35),

Tim Stratton


Notes

To learn more about Islamic terror and Jihad, begin by reading this article by Timothy Fox reviewing the book of the former Muslim, Nabeel Qureshi, Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward.

Original article: http://freethinkingministries.com/islamic-terror-homosexuality-the-consequences-of-ideas/

Book Review: Answering Jihad by Nabeel Qureshi

By Timothy Fox

“There is a better way forward, a way that upholds both truth and compassion.”

Compassion is probably the last word you would expect to find in a book about jihad. But that’s exactly what Nabeel Qureshi desires for us to show Muslims in Answering Jihad. In this book, he does just what the title states: respond to various questions and misconceptions surrounding the role of jihad in Islam. But he does this with compassion and respect. He sets the tone for his book in the introduction (you can read an excerpthere) as he calls us to “understand our Muslim neighbors and show them the love and compassion that all people deserve, devoid of fear and distrust”, as well as “to treat Muslims with the utmost dignity” (20). So if you’re looking for fearmongering and a call to arms against radical Islam, this isn’t the book for you.

But contrary to what our culture leads us to believe, Nabeel thinks it is possible both to love Muslims and to criticize Islam. It is his gracious delivery that will hopefully cause readers to give his views a chance, no matter how contrary they may be to deep-seated prejudices and beliefs. More than once I found myself being challenged, all because of his charitable treatment and thoughtfulness about difficult topics.

Content

Answering Jihad is divided into three parts consisting of six questions each. Every chapter revolves around a question that Nabeel answers thoroughly and concisely. You’ll be amazed at how much information could be packed into such a short volume (173 pages including appendices and a preview of his next book).

Part 1 is a survey of Islam and jihad, exploring the history of the religion and its connection to violence. For example, Nabeel tackles the modern slogan that Islam is a “religion of peace,” arguing that “violence is writ large throughout the pages of Islamic history, including its foundations.” But he reminds us that “this does not mean our Muslim neighbors are violent” (33). What Islam teaches and what Muslims practice may be very different things, as there is a “great diversity of Islamic expression.” This is why he can state that “Islam is not Muslims, and one can criticize Islam while affirming and loving Muslims” (27). Again, Nabeel calls for understanding and compassion.

Part 2 explores modern jihad and radical Islam. Nabeel analyzes the factors that contribute to an individual becoming radicalized and while he desires love and understanding towards Muslims, he is also not afraid to speak the truth about Islam. He looks at groups such as Al-Quaida, ISIS, and Boko Haram to determine how much of their actions are rooted in the Islamic faith and boldly states “When leaders and media members insist that these groups are not Islamic, they are either speaking out of ignorance or intentionally engaging in propaganda” (88).

As a Christian apologist, I was most intrigued by part 3, which examines the connections between Christianity and Islam. I was especially interested to read Nabeel’s response to whether or not Muslims and Christians worship the same God (spoiler: no) and how jihad compares with the Crusades (spoiler: it doesn’t). Is there violence and warfare in the Old Testament? Yes, there is. But Nabeel carefully distinguishes between the roles such violence plays in the history of both religions and whether violence is acceptable for the Christ-follower today. Ultimately, “The final marching order of Islam is jihad. The final marching orders of Christians are grace and truth” (125).

Conclusion

If there’s anything even remotely negative at all to say about Answering Jihad it would probably be in regards to its short length. However, that was intentional. It is not meant to be a complete and final answer to the problem of jihad, just to concisely answer many of its most pressing questions. And in this, the book definitely succeeds. Plus, its short length only adds to its readability and accessibility.

Answering Jihad is an important, timely book and no matter who you are, it will challenge you. If you are a Muslim, you are encouraged to examine the life of Muhammed and what the Quran really teaches about violence. If you are a Christian, Nabeel reminds you of Jesus’ command to love your enemies, which “might perhaps be the most powerful answer to jihad at our disposal today”, even at the risk of our own lives (20). And everyone is challenged to befriend those who are different than us instead of fearing them. Nabeel concludes that the only way forward is through truth and love.


You can read more about Answering Jihad and find exclusive pre-order offers at www.answeringjihad.com.

And if you haven’t read Nabeel’s fantastic first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, which recounts his journey from Islam to Christianity, what are you waiting for?

Visit Timothy’s website: FreeThinkingMinistries.com

How Does Paul’s Relationship with the Jerusalem Church Present a Problem for Islam?

In a previous article, I offered a simple reason why the Qur’an cannot possibly be the word of God, since the proposition that the Qur’an is the word of God entails a necessary contradiction. Here, I am going to present an equally compelling reason to reject the Qur’an as the word of God.

As I alluded to in my previous post, the Qur’an contends that the disciples of Jesus were Muslims. According to Surah 3:52,

“…when Isa [Jesus] sensed disbelief in them, he said: “Who are my helpers in the way of Allah?” The disciples said: “We are helpers of Allah. We believe in Allah; so be our witness that we are Muslims.”“paul

So according to the Qur’an, there is no question that the apostles were Muslims, under Jesus. But what if we could establish that the teaching of the apostles differed starkly from the teachings of Muhammad and the Qur’an? Here’s an argument to ponder:

Premise 1: If the original disciples of Jesus rejected core Islamic teachings, Islam is false.

Premise 2: The original disciples of Jesus rejected core Islamic teachings.

Conclusion: Therefore, Islam is false.

In order for a Muslim to escape the conclusion, he or she has to reject one of these two premises. What possible escape routes might be available? One escape route might be to say that the disciples of Jesus were fooled or somehow mistaken – or perhaps they corrupted the true message of Jesus sometime after this. Or maybe even the 12 disciples of Jesus are not even who is in mind here. This escape route, however, is blocked by Surah 61:14,

“O you who believe, be supporters of (the religion of) Allah, just as Isa, son of Maryam, said to the Disciples, “Who are my supporters towards Allah?” The Disciples said, “We are the supporters of (the religion of) Allah.” So a group from the children of Isra’il believed, and another group disbelieved. Then we supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became victors.”

Thus, such speculation runs into the following problem: Jesus’s apostles were victors who rose to dominance because of Allah’s support for them, indicating their message was approved by Allah. This becomes clear also when we read Surah 3:55:

“When Allah said: “O ‘Isa, I am to take you in full and to raise you towards Myself, and to cleanse you of those who disbelieve, and to place those who follow you above those who disbelieve up to the Day of Resurrection.”

In syllogistic form, the argument can be summarized as follows:

Premise 1: There were victors rising to dominance who Allah supported (Surah 3:55; Surah 61:14).

Premise 2: The victors were either Jesus’s apostles or not Jesus’s apostles.

Premise 3: If they were not Jesus’s apostles, then we would see records of these non-apostle victors.

Premise 4: We do not see such records.

Premise 5: Therefore, it is false that the victors were non-apostles.

Conclusion: Therefore, the victors were Jesus’s apostles.

So, when we read Surah 3:52, we can be sure that it is referring to the disciples. Allah blessed these persons. It was the apostles who Allah brought to dominance and vindicated.

But now a Muslim might well ask, “How do you know the apostles rejected core Islamic teachings?”

It is to this question that I now turn my attention.

Consider Paul the apostle.

Now, I understand that the apostle Paul was not one of the original disciples of Jesus, but converted to Christianity following a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus in Acts 9. But I am going to argue that Paul was approved by the original disciples of Jesus. This strongly suggests that his view about the nature of God and identity and mission of Christ matched that of the disciples. In any case, even in the absence of the evidence I am about to present, if we take Surah 3:55 and Surah 61:14 seriously, then Paul’s teaching must have been consistent with the disciples, because the Christianity that prevailed is what Muslim polemicists would consider to be Pauline Christianity – and the Qur’an tells us that the true followers of Jesus were the ones who achieved dominance and became the victors.

Am I completely off-the-wall with this contention? No; In fact, I am in good company. Consider the following quotations from respected Quranic commentators:

Renowned thirteenth-century commentator Al-Qurtubi, says of Surah 61:14:

“It was said that this verse was revealed about the apostles of Jesus, may peace and blessing be upon him. Ibn Ishaq stated that of the apostles and disciples that Jesus sent (to preach) there were Peter and Paul who went to Rome; Andrew and Matthew who went to the land of the cannibals; Thomas who went to Babel in the eastern lands; Philip who went to Africa; John went to Dac-sos which is the tribe to whom the sleepers of the cave belonged; Jacob went to Jerusalem; Bartholomew went to the lands of Arabia, specifically Al-Hijaz; Simon who went to the Barbarians; Judas and Barthas who went to Alexandria and its surrounding regions.

Allah supported them (the apostles) with evidence so that they prevailed (thahirin) meaning they became the party with the upper hand. Just as it is said, “An object appeared on the wall” meaning it is clearly visible (alu-wat) on the wall. Allah, who is glorified and exalted, knows the truth better and to Him is the return and retreat.”

Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah (English translation, page 653), the earliest extant biography of Muhammad, says the following:

Those whom Jesus son of Mary sent, both disciples and those who came after them, in the land were: Peter the disciple and Paul with him, (Paul belonged to the followers and was not a disciple) to Rome. Andrew and Matthew to the land of the cannibals; Thomas to the land of Babel, which is in the land of the east; Philip to Carthage and Africa; John to Ephesus the city of the young men of the cave; James to Jerusalem which is Aelia the city of the sanctuary; Bartholomew to Arabia which is the land of Hijaz; Simon to the land of Berbers; Judah who was not one of the disciples was put in place of Judas.

Or consider Al Tabari’s History (Volume IV, p. 123):

“Among the apostles, and the followers who came after them were the Apostle Peter and Paul who was a follower and not an apostle; they went to Rome. Andrew and Matthew were sent to the country whose people are man-eaters, a land of blacks, we think; Thomas was sent to Babylonia in the east, Philip to Qayrawan (and) Carthage, that is, North Africa. John went to Ephesus, the city of the youths of the cave, and James to Jerusalem, that is, Aelia. Bartholomew was sent to Arabia, namely, the Hijaz; Simeon to the land of the Berbers in Africa. Judas was not then an apostle, so his place was taken by Ariobus. He filled in for Judas Iscariot after the latter had perpetrated his deed.”

Thus, Al-Qurturbi, Al Tabari, and Ibn Ishaq all are led to praise the apostle Paul as a direct consequence of these verses.

There are several independent historiographical reasons for thinking that Paul’s teaching was approved by the original disciples of Jesus. Among them are the following:

Reason 1: Individuals in the early church, who are likely to be associated with the apostles (Polycarp, Clement, and Ignatius) speak approvingly of his letters.

Reason 2: Never do the early church show knowledge of a fundamental dissension between Paul and Peter on matters pertinent to Christology and the nature of God, even though they often mention him alongside the apostle Peter.

Reason 3: Paul tells us in Galatians 2 that he went up to Jerusalem with Barnabus to confirm that the gospel he was preaching to the gentiles was the same as theirs. It is unlikely that he made this story up in order to support his own apostolic authority – because in the same chapter he also mentions the dispute that happened between Paul and Peter regarding circumcision when Peter came to Antioch.

Reason 4: Paul makes a disinterested comment about the Apostle James in Galatians 1:18-19:

“18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.”

Notice the disinterested off the cuff remark from Paul about James. If Paul was a false Apostle inventing stories we would not expect him to just mention James in passing without making a point. The fact that Paul merely mentions James in this off the cuff way persuades historians that Paul was recalling real events about his association with the early church and Apostles.

Reason 5: Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:9-11,

“9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”

Paul thus appears to endorse the other apostles and even goes so far as to say that he considers himself less than the least of them. Paul seems to assume that the Corinthian Christians also believed his message to be consistent with the other apostles. This strongly suggests that Paul and the other apostles were generally in agreement on the core matters of the faith.

Paul’s theology was radically at odds with core Islamic teaching, since Paul affirmed not only the deity of Christ, but also the crucifixion and resurrection (all of which are expressly rejected by Islam).

For the purposes of argument, I will only appeal to the non-disputed works of Paul, works that all Christian and non-Christian historians unanimously grant were written by him.

In Philippians 2:5-11, Paul quotes what is likely an early Christian hymn:

“5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The crucifixion of Jesus is already starkly at odds with Islamic theology (see Surah 4:157-158). Furthermore, there are at least three reasons why this text teaches the deity of Christ:

Reason 1: It says that Christ was “in the form of God” and then “took the form of a servant” – he is thus putting the two in the same category, since he uses the greek word morphé (meaning “form”) in both clauses.

Reason 2: The context of the passage instructs us to emulate the humility of Christ. But it is no act of humility on the part of a creature to not seek to be God.

Reason 3: Verses 10 and 11 link with Isaiah 45:23: “To me [i.e. Yahweh] every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.”

To take one further example, Paul appears to expand upon the shema (from Deuteronomy 6:4) in 1 Corinthians 8:6, identifying Jesus Christ as Lord of the shema:

“Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

This suggests, by extension, that the disciples of Jesus likewise affirmed the deity of Christ. It also seems unlikely that they would have reached such a radical conclusion had Jesus not himself identified Himself in this way, especially given (1) the Jewish Messianic expectations; (2) The Jewish concept of God; and (3) the connotations of crucifixion to a Jew.

To conclude, there is no reason to think that Jesus’ disciples were Muslims as the Qur’an contends and every reason to think otherwise. This presents yet another formidable challenge to the Islamic religion and gives even more rational warrant for its rejection.

Ijaz Ahmad Continues To Misrepresent Me

jonathandebatingA few days ago, I posted a response to a review of my recent debate with Dr. Shabir Ally on the doctrine of the Trinity vs. Tawhid, written by Muslim blogger Ijaz Ahmad. Not long after my article appeared, so did Ijaz’s response. I noted previously that Ijaz appears to have developed a peculiar habit of mishearing or misreading things that I say and write. I make it my policy to be charitable whenever possible, and so I am not going to at this point allege any malintention on the part of Ijaz. What we are talking about, however, is not merely one or two instances of misrepresentation of my statements, views and arguments — it is a habit that plagues much of his writing. At the very least, this does seem to impugn his competence in basic reading comprehension skills (that is the only alternative I can envision to the charge of dishonesty — which I would rather not consider). Even more unfortunate is that Ijaz often continues to defend his incorrect readings even after he has received correction.

Yesterday, a debate broke out on Ijaz’s “Calling Christians” Facebook page when he posted a statement claiming that Modus Ponens is circular reasoning, and that, since I had used this argument form, I was guilty of circular reasoning. Note that this comment appeared after I had already corrected him on this matter in my previous blog. In his blog post responding to my article, he even went so far as to say,

“Unfortunately, all he had to do was think about what he argued, or at the very least, read what he wrote and he’d realise why it was circular. I’ll try to help him in this case. If X, then Y. X, therefore Y.This is the exact form his argument takes, and this is known as circular reasoning. Ergo, Jonathan does not know what circular reasoning is, and was unable to break down his argument into syllogistic form to understand what he was saying in logical terms.”

I and some others took Ijaz to task on Facebook for this ridiculous claim, but Ijaz was adamant that he was right, and that I clearly did not understand logic. Finally, after much tooth pulling, Ijaz admitted to being in error on this point — but only after he had attempted to settle the matter by blocking myself and his other critics from commenting on his page and deleting our comments. He has since deleted the entire thread from his Facebook page. After having consulted his “resident scholar” and being told that I was right and he was wrong, he went into damage control mode. The above-quoted statement from his blog has now been replaced with the following:

“I incorrectly referred to this form of argumentation as circular because I viewed the first premise as entailing itself, “If Tawheed is inconsistent”, which is self-reliant and thus circular. In other words it entailed itself, despite being in the form of modus ponens. After discussing with our resident scholar, I (Br. Ijaz) am indeed wrong. Although the first premise is indeed invalid (it does not logically follow if Tawheed could be inconsistent, that the Trinity is true), and needs to be qualified, the form is valid, but the first premise needs to be proven. So the argument itself is invalid, but the form correct. Apologies to Jonathan for this error.”

Well, that’s all well and good. Ijaz exercised some humility in conceding and correcting his mistake. But notice that in his correction he still manages to misrepresent me. Again. When did I ever state that it logically follows that “if Tawheed could be inconsistent, that the Trinity is true”? I didn’t. He also asserts that “the argument itself is invalid” — which is a technical inaccuracy (I think he means to claim it is unsound). On his Facebook page he also seemed to confuse a circular argument with Agrippa’s Trilemma, which is something quite different. As one Christian apologist put it to me, “Ijaz is a perfect example of someone who tries to sound logical by looking up logic terms and posting them in his responses without having the slightest clue how to use them.”

So what other blunders did Ijaz make in his response to me at his blog? The first two paragraphs were nothing more than a personal attack on yours truly. He starts by saying,

“After finding no one from the Christian community willing to perform a review of his debate with Dr. Shabir Ally, Jonathan McLatchie has finally taken the onus upon himself to “review” my review of their debate.”

Firstly, so far as I know, Ijaz is the only person to write a review of the debate in toto. I know of no other reviews, whether from Muslims or Christians. Second, how does Ijaz come to the conclusion that no one from the Christian community are “willing” to write a review? Perhaps they are just busy. By the same token I could also argue that no one from the Muslim community, besides Ijaz, has been “willing” to write a review of the debate. He goes on:

“It is unfortunate that Jonathan believes that I “misheard” or “misread” him, as this is a common excuse he uses when confronted with any criticism.”

That’s not quite true. Most of my critics read and comprehend what I say and write just fine. It is only a small number who seem to have this problem. He continues:

“Last month it was brought to the inter-faith community’s attention that Jonathan had described Muslim communities in France as a virus and a cancer to European society. If one were to compare his “review” of his debate, with the excuses used when confronted with his xenophobic statements, we’d quickly realise that Jonathan is being perpetually misunderstood by everyone. At first he claimed he never made such a statement, everyone had simply lied about him! Then, it was a statement he made, but everyone simply misunderstood him! Then, it was a statement he made, but it was not referring to Muslims but a cultural structure of extremism, everyone simply hadn’t given him enough time to explain himself!”

Wrong again. As I explained here, I did not make the statement attributed to me at all. Although my word-choice was unquestionably unfortunate, I neither described Muslim communities nor any individuals as “cancer” or a “virus”. Ijaz, as he always does, simply represented what I said in the most uncharitable way conceivable. As far as I recall, I never claimed that anyone had “lied” about me. In fact, I have correspondence with those responsible for propagating these claims wherein I specifically said that I did not think they were being deliberately deceitful, but that they had simply misunderstood what I said. Given that I have now clarified what I said several times and the claim nonetheless continues to be made, I am frankly starting to wonder. He goes on:

“Then, he posts a video in which Muslims who practise Islam are compared to ISIS terrorists and we’re not supposed to be offended by that. The 19,000 people who viewed that article and the 3500 people that watched that video, all seem to have “misheard” and “misunderstood” him.”

Wrong again. I defy anyone to show me where “Muslims who practice Islam are compared to ISIS terrorists” in any video I have shared. He then claims that,

“As one Christian apologist put it, “Jonathan is simply oblivious to any form of self criticism”.”

I am doubtful of this, since I often seek criticism from other apologists of my arguments, presentations and writing. But we can be charitable and give him the benefit of the doubt. He goes on:

“When I announced news that a Christian had accepted Islam following the debate between Dr. Shabir and Jonathan, Jonathan found it impossible that anyone would disagree with his remarks in that debate, such to the extent their faith would be questioned. I remarked to him at that point, that it doesn’t matter what you think of your own arguments, it is up to the audience to decide that. He disagreed, that just could not be a possibility, his remarks were without fault.”

Wrong again. I never said this at all. Nothing I have ever written could be construed as having said that. The relevant thread was a while ago though, and so we can put it down to a failure on Ijaz’s part to accurately recall the conversation. What I did remark is that I was highly surprised that any Christian’s faith would be rocked by Shabir’s presentation at that particular debate. I said nothing, so far as I recall, about my own remarks in the debate. Ijaz continues:

“Jonathan lives in a world, where everyone who disagrees with him, either perpetually misunderstands him, or they misread him, or they mishear him. It’s almost never the case that he has said something wrong, or that he has made a mistake, and this is exactly what we find in his “review” of my review.”

That’s not true either. Shabir Ally, for example, is quite capable of interacting with what I say. Most of my critics are.

“What sort of debater, reviews someone’s review? I mean, there’s the occasional post-debate rejoinder, but I’ve never seen anyone who considers themselves to be a professional, review their own debate. That’s what the community does, that’s not what the debaters themselves do. Jonathan though, does not like to be criticized, and so when my review criticized him, he could not contain himself.”

Well, Shabir Ally has reviewed some of his own debates for example (see this one for instance). William Lane Craig often does as well. So does James White. So Ijaz is simply wrong about this. My response to Ijaz, however, was not really a review of the debate per se, but a response specifically to criticisms of my opening presentation raised by Ijaz. Furthermore, the fact that I respond to criticism in no way entails that I do not like to be criticized.

Ijaz Ahmad accuses me of deception because I stated that he failed to mention any of Shabir’s weaknesses in his opening statement, such as his misuse of Greek grammar in relation to John 1:1 (documented here). Ijaz says that I am dishonest because he did mention John 1:1 in his review of the debate. Here’s what he wrote:

At this point, Dr. Shabir began to speak on the language used in regard to Jesus in the Gospel ascribed to John. John 1:1c is problematic as the attribution of total deity to the Word (later identified as Jesus), is uncertain due to Colwell’s rule. Grammarians do dispute about the definiteness of attributing deity to the Word in this verse due to the absence of a defining article which the original author purposely left out, this opened the wording and subsequent understanding of the verse to dispute. If the author wanted to ascribe total deity to the Word, then they would not have intentionally left out the defining article and thus, total deity cannot be ascribed to Jesus the Christ given the author’s grammatical intentions.

But this is precisely the point. Ijaz simply repeated this poor argument, despite the fact that it has been refuted ad nauseum.

Ijaz then quotes one of my critiques of his review:

The first point to note here is that I never stated that “the Bible is a wholly Trinitarian text”. It is my view that one can demonstrate a multiplicity of divine persons from both the Old and New Testaments, while the doctrine of the Trinity reaches its fullest expression in the New Testament where we read of the incarnation of the Son of God.

He accuses me again of not correctly representing what he said. He claims that “Yet, this is exactly what he said.” He then directed his readers to a timestamp on the debate video where I had stated that “the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is thoroughly Trinitarian.” Ijaz further remarks,

If Jonathan believes that the words “thoroughly” and “wholly”, are different, then he must consult a dictionary. They mean the same thing. He should also note, that in my very review, I quoted him as saying, “thoroughly”, so on that basis, where exactly does he believe this was something he did not say? Strangely enough, he proceeded to argue that Dr. Shabir did not pre-empt his appeal to the Bible (read as “scripture”), but he did. One of Dr. Shabir’s most important points was “the texts of scripture”. So while Jonathan may disagree, it doesn’t make him right, to the contrary it makes him seem desperate to create points of imaginative disagreement.

The issue of contention, however, is not over the meaning of “thoroughly” and “wholly”, but over the difference between “the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” and “the Bible”. Those are not the same thing. I never claimed that Shabir did not argue that the Trinity was contrary to the Old Testament. He did claim that. I happen to think he is wrong in claiming that, but Ijaz contends that Shabir in claiming this pre-empted this statement from my opening remarks, which is simply not the case.

He then claims that he did not in fact misrepresent my syllogism regarding Tawhid, even accusing me of being “deceitful”. He simply reasserted what he had said before, however, and failed to interact with my criticism. I did not say “If Tawhid is true, then it must be consistent.” I said, “If Tawhid is true, then it must be consistent with the Qur’an.”

Ijaz then back peddles with his claim from his review that I had made the argument about the eternality of the Qur’an in my opening statement. He said “In my review, I did not claim that he made this argument, I specifically said that he referred to it.”

Really, Ijaz?

Let’s have a look at his original review. Here is what he wrote:

“In attempting to do this, Jonathan disappointed me greatly. All he did was refer (timestamp in video, he says “Those who saw Shabir’s debate with Nabeel Qureishi would’ve been exposed to the problems with reconciling the eternality of the Qur’an with the doctrine of Tawhid.”) to the argument that Nabeel used regarding the Qur’an being the eternal word of Allah, yet physical and created. I was disappointed because this is an argument copied from Jay Smith, which Samuel Green tried to use on me in my debate with him, which Nabeel later picked up and tried to use against Dr. Shabir. The problem here is that Dr. Shabir already addressed this argument, and so have I. Jonathan merely repeated Nabeel’s poor argument. He did not try to revamp the argument, he did not add anything to the argument, he did not articulate it differently, he did not try to incorporate Dr. Shabir’s response to Nabeel into the argument. He quite literally just repeated the argument, which was already responded to. Naturally, I would expect, that if he did his homework and decided to use an argument which was already refuted, that he’d adjust the argument in some way. He didn’t do that. He presented nothing new. It was at that point I wondered why he even offered to debate the same topic if he was merely going to repeat the same points from the previous debate of the same topic by offering nothing new.”

I will leave it to readers to judge for themselves.

He then goes on to say that “Reading comprehension is not difficult and it should not be this difficult for Jonathan.” Oh the irony.

He then claimed that,

“He then spent an inordinate amount of time attempting to validate his bad argument that the Spirit (of God) is the same as Allah. Yet, he does not validate his bad argument, he merely repeats it without meaningfully responding to the criticism leveled against it.”

I will allow my readers to go back to my previous article and determine for themselves whether or not I interacted with the criticism.

Ijaz points out that the Qur’an uses “Spirit” in different contexts. I am quite aware of this, but in the texts that I cited, the Spirit is an agent that is breathed out by Allah in order to create life. This same Spirit is also identified as a personal, conscious, entity in Surah 19. Ijaz also contends that, if I am consistent, I would have to say that the angel of death is a fourth member of the Trinity. But this is simply mistaken — there is no verse in the Bible to my knowledge where we are told that God alone actively brings about death, whereas there are many verses in the Qur’an that emphasise that Allah alone is the sole life-giver, and that Allah has no partners. If Allah had a partner in the creation of life, what might that look like? If one divine God, comprised of at least two divine persons, creates, then this conundrum is resolved.

The next portion of his response is the part we have already addressed regarding his false charges of circular reasoning, which he later had to retract.

He then comments on Surah 3:55 and 61:14. He writes,

“Where does it specify what form the dominance would take? It doesn’t. Which is what I mentioned in my review of the debate. Where does it specify in the Qur’an what form the dominance takes? He chose not to answer this question, even though claiming this is what he was doing, rather he chose to mention that some Tafseer commentators agreed with him. Perhaps he should mention that those commentators presuppose that belief, with first believing that Paul’s true teachings, like Christ’s, became corrupted by later Christians. I fully believe he did not do his research on this topic and at this point, he’s repeating himself without addressing my criticisms.”

I am giving the historical interpretation of this text. Is Ijaz really prepared to say that ibn Kathir, al-Tabari, al-Qurturbi and ibn Ishaq all got it wrong, and that we had to all wait for Ijaz to show up in order to give us the correct meaning of the text? The meaning of the text that I gave seems to me to be clearly the most plausible and the most clear-reading of the texts. Ijaz’s explanation seems rather ad hoc. In any case, even if Ijaz is completely correct about this, he still needs to address my argument that the disciples (whom the Qur’an purports to have been Muslims) were quite clearly not subscribers to Islamic doctrines such as Tawhid.

Ijaz then quoted my statement that,

“Ijaz offered no comment on the third argument I presented in the debate, namely that the Injeel (i.e. the gospel) is Trinitarian and that the Injeel is affirmed by the Qur’an.”

He then replies,

“I actually did offer a comment on it, from my review, I said:

“If we were to identify his main arguments, they would be easily recognizable by anyone who is familiar with Islamic and Christian inter-faith discourse,namely that the Qur’an validates the New Testament, that the disciples believed Jesus was God and that the Bible is historically accurate. He did not present any new arguments, nor any new research, nor did he seek to upgrade any of the arguments he copied from other Christian debaters.””

He may have mentioned it, but he certainly offered no comment by way of response to the argument.

With a large grain of irony, Ijaz concludes:

In conclusion, Jonathan’s review of my review, is a bad attempt at trying to defend his poor arguments used in his debate with Dr. Shabir. At the most, he merely repeated himself, and at the worst he claimed he was misheard. Unfortunately for him, I was able to quote him word for word, and cite numerous places from my review in which I did address the concerns outlined in this review of his. All in all, this comes down to a lack of professionalism. If the Christian community is unwilling to do a review of his debate, and he is left to respond personally to everyone who criticizes him, this says a lot about the community’s perception of his role as a Christian apologist.

I have to say that I am rather disappointed with Ijaz’s review and his interaction with my criticisms. I was even more disappointed to see Ijaz’s original tagging of his blog post (which he subsequently changed). Still, here is the screen shot:

naziracist

 

That’s right. He called me a “nazi” and a “racist”. I hope that, if Ijaz continues to further interact with my material, that he can exercise greater maturity in the future.

 

A Response to Ijaz Ahmad’s Review of My Debate With Shabir Ally

Ijaz Ahmad is a Muslim blogger wishabir debateth whom I have had some level of interaction. He runs a website called “Calling Christians.” It is unfortunate that Ijaz has developed a peculiar habit of mishearing, or misreading, things that I say and write. It was no different in his review of my debate in London from last month with Dr. Shabir Ally on Tawhid vs. the Trinity. Almost none of his comments pertaining to the argumentation I presented in the debate fairly represented what I had said. I have been quite busy over the last month, and so have not had as much opportunity as I would have liked to comment on the debate more fully. Here, I am going to offer a rebuttal to Ijaz’s critique of my opening statement from the debate.

Ijaz briefly summarises Shabir’s opening statement, curiously omitting any mention of the numerous problems with Shabir’s Biblical argumentation (such as his misuse of Greek grammar in regards to John 1:1). He then begins his critique of my opening statement:

He began by defining the doctrine of the Trinity was. This is something I strongly agree with, opening a debate by delimiting the scope of the discussion. As a proponent of socratic thinking, this was a pleasant and welcomed feature of his presentation. As previously mentioned, it was expected that Jonathan would base his arguments about the nature of God by mainly appealing to the Bible. He opened by declaring that the Bible was a wholly Trinitarian text (timestamp in video, he says, “The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is thoroughly Trinitarian.”), which unfortunately for him, was pre-empted by Dr. Shabir who demonstrated it was not, thus Jonathan’s first argument was already weakened by Dr. Shabir. Jonathan then presented three other arguments which he felt negated the validity of the doctrine of Tawhid.

The first point to note here is that I never stated that “the Bible is a wholly Trinitarian text”. It is my view that one can demonstrate a multiplicity of divine persons from both the Old and New Testaments, while the doctrine of the Trinity reaches its fullest expression in the New Testament where we read of the incarnation of the Son of God. Ijaz was thus not far off my position, but he is incorrect to claim that this statement had been pre-empted by Shabir, since it is simply not what I said in my opening statement. What I said is that “the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is thoroughly Trinitarian.” The “Gospel” is not synonymous with “the Bible.” Ijaz claims that this was my “first argument”, but it was not an argument at all. It was a part of my introduction to the doctrine of the Trinity, before I got to my three-tiered argument.

Ijaz goes on to list the three main arguments I presented in the debate:

  • Tawhid has its own internal problems.
  • The disciples were Trinitarian.
  • The Injeel is Trinitarian.

He then represents my first argument as follows:

Of his first argument, he stated:

P1 – If Tawhid is true, it must be consistent.
P2 – Tawhid is not consistent.
C  – Therefore Tawhid must not be true.

That’s not quite what I said. My first premise was that, from a Muslim perspective, “If Tawhid is true, it must be consistent with the Qur’an.” My second premise was that Tawhid is not consistent with the Qur’an.

Ijaz goes on:

“Technically, this (form of argument) is referred to as Modus Tollens. The problem here, is that you have to prove the premises before you can qualify and validate your conclusion which is expected to be a tautology.”

Yes, this is a Modus Tollens argument. I don’t know why Ijaz seems to think that the need to demonstrate the truth of the premises in order to support the conclusion is a problem with this manner of argumentation. Anyway, he goes on:

“In attempting to do this, Jonathan disappointed me greatly. All he did was refer (timestamp in video, he says “Those who saw Shabir’s debate with Nabeel Qureishi would’ve been exposed to the problems with reconciling the eternality of the Qur’an with the doctrine of Tawhid.”) to the argument that Nabeel used regarding the Qur’an being the eternal word of Allah, yet physical and created. I was disappointed because this is an argument copied from Jay Smith, which Samuel Green tried to use on me in my debate with him, which Nabeel later picked up and tried to use against Dr. Shabir. The problem here is that Dr. Shabir already addressed this argument, and so have I. Jonathan merely repeated Nabeel’s poor argument. He did not try to revamp the argument, he did not add anything to the argument, he did not articulate it differently, he did not try to incorporate Dr. Shabir’s response to Nabeel into the argument. He quite literally just repeated the argument, which was already responded to. Naturally, I would expect, that if he did his homework and decided to use an argument which was already refuted, that he’d adjust the argument in some way. He didn’t do that. He presented nothing new. It was at that point I wondered why he even offered to debate the same topic if he was merely going to repeat the same points from the previous debate of the same topic by offering nothing new.”

The only problem is that I did not make this argument in my opening statement at all. I noted that Nabeel had made this argument in his debate with Shabir, and that I was going to be making a different argument instead. I do happen to think that this argument has something going for it, but I think the argument I did present in the debate is stronger.

He goes on:

“At this point, he presented another argument, namely that there are other creators other than Allah. He did not seem to understand that what he presented was the fallacy of false equivalency, wherein the Qur’an mentioned numerous times that there were agents of God who had abilities attained by the “leave/ permission of Allah”, which are temporal and not absolute. Logically, this would mean their abilities are not inherent and eternal, but appropriated by God, thus his argument was non-sequitur from the get go. I firmly believe that he did not critically consider this argument beyond a cursory copy and paste from Answering Islam’s website. Ironically, he attempted to present this argument in syllogistic form, but the argument was inherently non-sequitur due to its format including the fallacy of false equivalency. How he did not realise this, was impossible to understand, if he is using logic, he should know what fallacies are and how they inhibit his premises. What’s troubling is that in the same sentence he declares that Allah has no partners, then states in the same breath that the Holy Spirit shares in the divinity of God. That’s a contradiction, so either it is his argument and conclusions were wrong, or he forced a false conclusion which he himself did not notice.”

Briefly, the argument I presented in the debate is as follows: According to various texts in the Qur’an (e.g. Surah 2:28; 22:6), Allah is the creator of life. Surah 15:23 tells us,

“It is indeed We, and only We, who give life and bring death, and We are the ultimate inheritor.”

Surah 2:228 tells us that Allah is the one who creates life in the womb.

We also read that Allah creates life by breathing his spirit.

Surah 21:91:

“And (remember) her who protected her private part. So, We blew in her through Our Spirit, and made her and her son a sign for all the worlds.”

Surah 66:12:

“And Maryam, daughter of ‘Imran who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her Our Spirit, and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and His books, and she was one of the devout.”

Surah 15:28-29 also tells us about the creation of Adam:

“Recall when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to create a human being from a ringing clay made of decayed mud. When I form him perfect, and blow in him of My spirit, then you must fall down before him in prostration.”

Surah 19:16-21 narrates the story of Allah’s Spirit appearing before Mary in the form of a perfect human being to announce the birth of Jesus and to tell her that he is going to give her a boy. This indicates that the Spirit is personal. Here is the text:

“And mention in the Book (the story of) Maryam, when she secluded herself from her people to a place towards East. Then she used a barrier to hide herself from them. Then We sent to her Our Spirit, and he took before her the form of a perfect human being. She said, “I seek refuge with the All Merciful (Allah) against you, if you are God-fearing.” He said “I am but a message-bearer of your Lord (sent) to give you a boy, purified.” She said, “How shall I have a boy while no human has ever touched me, nor have I ever been unchaste? He said, “So it is; your Lord said, ‘It is easy for Me, and (We will do this) so that We make it a sign for people and a mercy from Us, and this is a matter already destined.”

The Arabic word for “give” (Wahaba) means to give/grant/bestow/present etc.

Thus, the Holy Spirit also appears to have been the agent that created life in Mary’s womb and also brought life to Adam. In syllogistic form, I presented my argument as follows:

Premise 1: The Holy Spirit was who created life in Mary’s womb and brought Adam to life.

Premise 2: Allah also created life in Mary’s womb and brought Adam to life.

Premise 3: Therefore, one of three things is true: either the Holy Spirit is identical with Allah, or Allah has a separate co-creator, or one divine God creates life, and the Holy Spirit shares in that divinity.

Premise 4: Now of course, those first two options are not acceptable. The Spirit cannot be identical to Allah, since he describes himself as a message-bearer and also appears to be able to assume human form. Nor can the Spirit be a separate co-creator, since the Qur’an also affirms that God has no partners (Surah 4:116).

Conclusion: Therefore, the only option left is that the Holy Spirit shares in the Divinity, because only God creates.

I then showed that Surah 58:22 suggests that the Spirit has divine characteristics such as omnipresence:

“[Believers] are such that Allah has inscribed faith on their hearts, and has strengthened them with a spirit from Him.”

This text uses the same verb “to strengthen” as 2:87 and 5:110, in reference to the Spirit strengthening Jesus. If the Spirit strengthens all believers everywhere, I argued, does that not at least suggest that the Spirit is omnipresent and omnipotent – being present everywhere and being all powerful? Those are attributes that are thought to be uniquely associated with the divine. This portion of my argument was never addressed by Shabir in the debate.

Now, as to Ijaz’s comments on my argument, I am quite aware of the Qur’an speaking of agents of God who had abilities attained by the “leave/permission of Allah” which are temporal in nature — such as Jesus’ ability to perform miracles for instance. This is the point raised by Shabir in his rebuttal, which is a response that I had anticipated to be his most likely defence. In response, I had cited Surah 32:6-9:

“That One is the All-knower of the Unseen and the seen, the All-Mighty, the Very-Merciful, who made well whatever He created, and started the creation of man from clay. Then He made his progeny from a drop of semen, from despised water. Then He gave him a proportioned shape, and breathed into him of His spirit. And He granted you the (power of) hearing and the eyes and the hearts. Little you give thanks.”

Breathing of the divine Spirit thus appears to be the common mechanism by which Allah creates life. It is by breathing the divine Spirit that, according to Surah 66:12, Allah created life in Mary’s womb — and yet we know from Surah 19 that this same divine Spirit is a personal entity. Shabir accused me at this point of having misread the text of Surah 32, since verse 4 stresses that Allah alone is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all contained therein. But this was precisely my point. If Allah does not have a separate co-creator, then the Spirit must share in the divinity with Allah — in a similar way to the manner in which Christians believe that Yahweh alone is the creator of the heavens and the earth, whereas the Son and Spirit share in the divinity with the Father, three persons making up one divine being. I did not have time to do this in the debate, but let me at this time support my interpretation of Surah 32 by citing a respected Quranic commentator. Maulana Muhammad Ali notes in his comments on Surah 32:9 that,

“This verse shows that the spirit of God is breathed into every man. This points to a mystical relation between human nature and Divine nature. The word ruh does not here mean the animal soul, because the animal soul is common to man and the animal kingdom. It is something that distinguishes man from the animal world. It is due to the spirit Divine that he rules creation and its due to the same Divine spirit in him that he receives a new life after death – a life which he lives in God and with God – the meeting with God or liqa Allah, as it is called in v. 10.”

Continuing our analysis of Ijaz’s review, Ijaz goes on:

His second argument was that the disciples of Jesus were Trinitarian. Interestingly, I had a debate on this topic earlier in the year and demonstrated that according to the proto-orthodox Christian tradition, the disciples were definitely not Trinitarian. At this point he introduced a very strange argument.

P1 – If the Disciples of Jesus were Trinitarian then the Islamic concept of God is false.
P2 – The Disciples of Christ were Trinitarian.
C   – Therefore the Islamic concept of God is false.

Bizarrely, Ijaz goes on to accuse me of making a circular argument:

“Jonathan cannot make such an argument and believe that he is arguing logically. This is known as the fallacy of circular reasoning.”

There is no way in which the above argument can possibly be construed as circular. The Qur’an makes a prediction about what we should expect to find (namely, that the disciples believed Islamic doctrines such as Tawhid). I then set out to falsify this prediction, in my judgement successfully. Nothing circular about it. It seems to me that Ijaz needs to study some logic.

Ijaz continues:

“What is worse was his attempt at drawing out the logical routes. He presumed that Dr. Shabir could refute his argument in one of two ways, firstly that the disciples were later misled or secondly, that the disciples were overcome (by other groups). Jonathan posited that the second option was impossible as the Qur’an says they were victors. The problem therein with his reasoning is that the Qur’an does not say in what way they were victors. He assumes that it has to be in the promulgation of their beliefs, which the Qur’an does not state itself.

But the Qur’an does specify that Allah would “place those who follow [Jesus] above those who disbelieve up to the Day of Resurrection.” This strongly suggests a continuity of dominance, right from day one. It was the Christianity represented by Paul and the other apostles that achieved dominance. Furthermore, several early highly respected Quranic commentators were led to praise the apostle Paul as a direct result of these verses, as I pointed out in my first rebuttal. Among them are ibn Kathir, al-Tabari, al-Qurturbi, and ibn Ishaq. Since all of those respected commentators affirm my interpretation of these verses, I think that puts me in good company.

Ijaz goes on:

“It is alleged that the early Christians were persecuted and the religion did not become “accepted” until Constantine’s conversion. According to Jonathan’s appeal to the Qur’an, he alleged that the Qur’an mentioned the disciples of Christ were victorious. Yet the Church was not accepted or mainstream until 300 years after them, so in what way were the disciples victorious according to his reading of the Qur’an?”

I would disagree with this historical point, although it would take a while to demonstrate. Perhaps this is a topic for a future debate. I refer interested readers to The Heresy of Orthodoxy by Michael Kruger and Andreas Kostenberger, for a review of this view popularised by Walter Bauer and, more recently, Bart Ehrman.

Ijaz goes on to say,

“At this point, he began to appeal to the New Testament as a historical witness, but for those of you familiar with Dr. Shabir’s works and my own, we already know that the New Testament en toto is not historically viable nor accurate. I have explicitly explained this in great detail in my debate with Steven on the very topic of the beliefs of the disciples using palaeography, papyrology, form criticism, textual criticism and historical criticism.”

My appeals to the New Testament, however, were all prefaced with argumentation as to why we should take the documents I cited (namely, the non-disputed works of Paul, the gospel of Mark and the gospel of John) seriously. Ijaz did not interact with the material I presented (nor really did Shabir). I have argued extensively elsewhere for the general historical credibility of the New Testament, and so I need not reiterate myself here.

Ijaz continues,

“He began to close his argument by referring to hadith criticism’s use of the isnad or chain of transmission. Unfortunately, he merely referred to the use of the chain of transmission by Islamic scholarship, what he utterly failed to do was qualify the authority of these alleged chains of transmission by applying the methods of hadith criticism to the chains themselves. I myself did this in my debate with Steven, in fact this was one of the arguments I researched in great detail and whose historicity the early Church itself disputed. Thus, by both Christian historical traditions and the methodology of hadith criticism, the chains of transmission in regard to John used by Jonathan are known to have been falsified and are historically inaccurate. I do not believe that Jonathan spent more than a few minutes constructing this argument, nor do I believe he consulted any major works of Patristic criticism, especially due to the reason his sole academic source seemed to be Richard Bauckham, whom I also referenced in my debate. I do believe he rushed through this portion of his opening statement, and I do not believe he himself knew in any great detail the methodologies of hadith criticism, and so his appeal to this Christian isnad was mere buzz word dropping.”

I did not apply methods of hadith criticisms to the chains themselves largely due to the time constraints in my opening statement, and also because I was not challenged on it throughout the debate. If Ijaz really wants to do a debate with me on whether the gospels or the Sahih ahadith are better representatives of the sayings and deeds of Jesus and Muhammad respectively, I would be happy to do that.

Ijaz offered no comment on the third argument I presented in the debate, namely that the Injeel (i.e. the gospel) is Trinitarian and that the Injeel is affirmed by the Qur’an.

Ijaz finishes his review by claiming that I did not put much thought into my opening statement, that I did not present any new material, and that I did not present the Trinity. I would disagree with him strongly on all three of those points. As time permits, I will put out some further reviews of the argumentation covered in the debate.

On Shariah-Governed Enclaves in France: A Clarifying Note

Over the past week, I have been contacted concerning a comment I made in passing, in a recent lecture I delivered on Islam, concerning so-called no-go zones in France, governed by gang-imposed Sharia law. This was not an area of particular interest to me, and so I had regrettably not researched it with my usual care. It was not the focus of my lecture, and was only raised in response to a questioner in the Q&A concerning the effects of the increase of Islam in Europe. I had mentioned the fact that there are now Shariah courts in the UK, and had also briefly touched on so-called “no-go zones” in France. In what was regrettably a poor choice of wording on my part, I likened these Muslim enclaves in France to a cancer — my meaning of course was that such enclaves are a breeding ground for Islamic radicalism. It was not intended to refer to the individuals who live in these areas. By likening the enclaves to a cancer it was the ‘No Go Zone’ structure itself I was talking about, and not the Muslims living within such areas nor even the ones who were enforcing such a structure.

Unfortunately, my words have since been taken by several angry bloggers and made to sound like I was likening Muslim communities in general to a cancer. These bloggers then proceeded to label me a bigot, an Islamophobe, a hate-preacher and a racist (since when was Islam a race?). I have very strong relationships with Muslims across the UK and further afield, and so you can imagine why I found those comments to be rather offensive. I have never said, and never would say, anything negative about Muslim communities in general. Yes, I criticize Islamic radicalism (as I hope any moderate Muslim would join me in doing), but I always make a distinction between Islamic radicalism and the vast majority of Muslims in the west who are peace-loving. For sure, I do on occasion raise texts from the Quran and Hadith literature that I sincerely find to be troubling, but the appropriate response where such disagreement exists is to engage in reasoned dialogue and debate, not to call each other names.

Regarding the French no-go zones to which I referred, I have since taken the time to look more critically at my sources regarding this. I had previously been aware of Fox News’s apology and retraction of statements concerning these no-go zones, but my understanding is that they had dramatically overstated the case (claiming, ridiculously, for instance, that all of Birmingham in the UK was Muslim-only and implying that there were officially-designated Muslim-only zones). Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch (note: I do not endorse everything Spencer says) commented on Fox News’s retraction here:

No No-Go Zones? Really?

Since I have neither the time nor the interest to summarise and review all of the relevant information here, I will offer the following two additional articles that defend the existence of no-go zones in France and Britain:

European ‘No-Go’ Zones: Fact or Fiction? Part 1: France (Soeren Kern)

European ‘No-Go’ Zones: Fact or Fiction? Part 2: Britain (Soeren Kern)

At the time of writing, I have not researched this topic sufficiently thoroughly to come to a firm conclusion. I do, however, have some reason for skepticism. First, it is not entirely clear to me whether these regional problems are permanent or temporary in nature. Second, it is not clear to me to what extent Islamic radicalism has a part to play in what goes on in these poverty-stricken areas, which are reportedly plagued by “high-rise slums, drug-fueled crime, failing schools and poor, largely Muslim immigrants” (New Republic). I suspect that the case has been rather overblown.

To finish, then, it is regrettable to me that my words concerning these ‘no-go’ zones in a talk I delivered recently in England have been misunderstood and misrepresented. I did feel that it was necessary to clarify where I stand, both on my unfortunately worded comment and the existence of European “no-go” zones. I do not at this time intend to comment further on this matter.

Initial Reflections on My Recent Debate with Dr. Shabir Ally

Last Sunday (August 16th), I participated in my first formal public debate, with Muslim scholar Dr. Shabir Ally in London, England (video recording embedded above). It was a pleasure to meet such a distinguished scholar and debater, and an honour to share a platform with him. It was also a great honour to have internationally renowned Muslim scholar Dr. Jamal Badawi in the front row of the audience. The event was live-streamed online, and was also filmed by Muslim TV station, Iqra TV. Having read a number of comments from people who were at the event, or who saw the livestream or recording, I have identified a number of important lessons that I can take forward into my future debates. The general opinion seems to be that my arguments were solid but that the impact of a lot of my points was lost because they were not presented with sufficient clarity for a non-academic audience. I also ended up on the defensive for the majority of the debate, and the offence on my part could have been made stronger by reminding the audience of the positive arguments presented in my opening statement — many of which were not addressed. I do not think of such debates in terms of “winners” and “losers”. The goal is to understand one another and to ensure that the audience have two alternative views presented to them fairly. Such debates are starting points for further study, not ends in themselves. But if one wants to be convincing to an audience who are not yet persuaded of a position, I have now learned that presentation and rhetoric can be just as important factors as the strength of one’s argument content.

Over the course of several subsequent blog posts, I am going to provide my own analysis of the debate. The format of such debates is such that not every point that is raised can be addressed in one’s rebuttals (since the rebuttal periods get shorter and shorter as the debate progresses). In the blog posts to come, I am going to discuss my opening statement and examine how each respective point was or was not addressed by Shabir. We will then do the same with Shabir Ally’s opening statement. We will also at a later date discuss the Q&A and cross-examination.

Stay tuned.

Shabir Ally vs. Jonathan McLatchie (Tawhid vs. Trinity): Watch the Debate Live Online This Sunday

On Sunday 16th of August, at 5:15pm GMT (that’s 12:15pm Eastern Time; 11:15am Central Time; 9:15am Pacific Standard Time), I am going to be engaging in a public debate with Islamic scholar Dr. Shabir Ally in London, England, on the question of “What is God Like — Tawhid or Trinity?” The live-stream is embedded above. Be sure to tune in!

See my previous debate on this subject with Abdurraheem Green here. See Shabir Ally’s previous debate on this subject with Nabeel Qureshi here.

For anyone in the UK who might wish to attend this event in person, the details are found on the promotional poster below:

Ally-McLatchie poster

Sharing Your Faith With Muslims

Last weekend, at a church in Middlesbrough, England, I presented the above talk on sharing one’s Christian faith with Muslims in a winsome and persuasive way. Islam is a religion that accounts for well over a billion people worldwide, and self-professes to be the world’s fastest growing religion. It is a subject that we often hear about through the media, but few Christians have a deep understanding of the Muslim religion or are acquainted with what the Qur’an and other primary Islamic sources actually teach. This means that few are equipped to effectively bring the gospel to their Muslim friends, colleagues and acquaintances. In this presentation, I delve into the primary Islamic sources to investigate what Islam teaches about Jesus, the Trinity, and salvation. I explains how to graciously demonstrate the internal problems and inconsistencies inherent in the Islamic religion; as well as how to explain core Christian doctrines in a way that Muslims can relate to; and how to skilfully and persuasively share the gospel with your Muslim friends.

“What is God Like — Tawhid or Trinity?” Jonathan McLatchie vs. Abdurraheem Green

I recently did a debate on Unbelievable? on Premier Christian Radio, a show that airs every Saturday on British radio (also podcasted online), featuring debates between Christians and non-Christians. Last year on the show, I did a debate on whether Christianity is evidence-based, with British atheist Elliot George. The recording of that encounter can be found here. On Saturday 16th May, the show featured a conversation between myself and British Muslim apologist, Abdurraheem Green. Our topic was “What is God Like — Tawhid or Trinity?” I have embedded the debate as a YouTube video above. Enjoy!

 

Debating Christianity and Islam on Spice FM: A Conversation on the Deity of Christ

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn3s7Q63DyM&w=560&h=315]

I was recently invited to do a debate on a local radio station that airs in Tyneside, England, called Spice FM. Every Thursday, a Muslim program, called “Eye on the East”, run by Muslim activist Daniel Johnson of the Islamic Diversity Center airs. In the video above, I take on Daniel Johnson and Muslim apologist Majid Younus on the identity of Christ and the validity of the Triune concept of God. Enjoy! You can listen to two other recent radio interviews I have done on the subject of Islam here and here.

Two Recent Interviews on Islam

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As readers may have surmised, I was in the United States for a month on an apologetics tour, visiting North and South Carolina, California, and Texas. I returned to the U.K. on Saturday. During this time in the U.S., I was involved in four radio or TV discussions (two of which I have already written about). Two of these interviews were for an internet radio show called Theology Matters with the Pellews. It is an excellent show, which I recommend highly, and the hosts (Devin & Melissa Pellew) have a great lineup of guests. I had been on this show once previously to discuss popular objections to the Christian faith. This time, the topic of our conversation was Islam. The first show covered a lot of ground but not in as much depth as I would have liked, and so I suggested to Devin that we do a second follow-up show to discuss things at a little greater depth. He kindly agreed. You can listen to these shows at your leisure by following the links below — enjoy!

Show 1: Listen here.

Show 2: Listen here.

The Penalty For Apostasy According to Islam

Tariq Ramadan, an Islamic scholar and writer, wants us to believe that Islam does not demand a death penalty for apostasy. Although he concedes that the ahadith reports Muhammad to have said  “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him,” (Sahih Al-Bukhari volume 9, book 84, no. 57) and other words to similar effect, Ramadan argues that such a penalty was to be applied only in cases of hostile or subversive attacks against the Muslim community, where perhaps an apostate would join the enemies of Islam, thereby committing treason. Ramadan concedes that his view that a Muslim is free to change his religion has been rejected by the vast majority of Muslim scholars throughout Islamic history.

Ramadan also issues a challenge to provide an example of Muhammad ordering a person’s death as a consequence of apostasy. Providing such an example is not difficult. Read more

The Status of Women According to Islam

The status of women in Islam is a subject enshrouded in controversy. According to many Muslims, Muhammad was a champion of women’s rights, bestowing upon the women in his community privileges and rights that they did not have previously. The notion that women in pre-Islamic Arabia had no rights, however, is demonstrably untrue. Former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi lists some of the rights that women had in pre-Islamic Arabia, which included ease of divorce, the ability to marry multiple men, and become overlords. Women were even able to propose for marriage, as in fact was the case with respect to Khadija’s marriage to Muhammad. Read more

The Qur’an, Muhammad and Modern Science: Scientific Miracles or Blunders?

Anyone who has had even a mild exposure to Islamic apologetics will have encountered the argument for the Qur’an’s divine origin based on its purported scientific miracles — that is, scientific assertions contained within the Qur’an which have only been validated by modern science. Out of all of the arguments for the Islamic religion, this is the one which, in my judgment, comes closest to being a real argument. Indeed, this is probably the best they’ve got, and it is frequently a lead argument by Muslim polemicists. Nonetheless, the argument has always appeared very strange to me. If the Qur’an is unrivaled at anything, assuredly it is only in its ability to conceive of a Universe so wildly disconnected from reality.

One problem with the positive Islamic argument is that it can only be falsified if one allows both correct and incorrect scientific statements to potentially validate or refute the Qur’an’s divine origin. If correct scientific statements provide evidence for the Qur’an’s divine origin, then surely incorrect scientific statements provide support for the opposite conclusion. For the argument to work, therefore, one must demonstrate not only that the Qur’an contains specific scientific information that could not have been known by a seventh century Arab, but also that the Qur’an does not contain demonstrable scientific errors that we might expect from a seventh century Arab. Unfortunately, it is usually the case that only the passages that are believed by Muslims to comport with modern science are presented in Muslim polemical literature. Read more

A Simple Reason Why The Qur’an Cannot Be The Word of God

Qur'anThe Islamic religion claims that the Qur’an, revealed allegedly by the angel Gabriel to the prophet Muhammad beginning in 610 A.D., is the inspired and inerrant word of God. Such an assertion, however, is highly problematic, and many, many arguments could be given to convincingly refute it. In this article, I am going to offer one of those reasons, which I perceive to be the most damning. In future articles, we will consider some other serious difficulties with the idea that the Qur’an represents the revealed words of God. My argument here can be summarized in syllogistic form as follows:

Premise 1: Either the Bible is the Word of God or it is not.

Premise 2: If the Bible is the Word of God, the Qur’an is not.

Premise 3: If the Bible is not the Word of God, the Qur’an is not.

Conclusion: Therefore, the Qur’an is not the Word of God. Read more

Should Women Be Apologists? They Already Are!

In the past couple of decades or so there has been a renaissance of apologetics at the college and seminary level. There was a time when undergraduate and graduate degrees in Christian apologetics did not exist. Now there are a number of great schools and universities that offer degrees in Christian apologetics (i.e., Talbot School of Theology at Biola, Southern Evangelical Seminary, Denver Seminary and lately Houston Baptist University, just to name a few). I am not aware of any specific statistics, but with all of these schools whose graduates are now entering the world of work and/or ministry, the question of the role of women in apologetics was bound to come up.

I have given some thought to this, and as I see it, there are several issues that are really at the heart of this question.  The main question, however, that I wish to focus on is – Is apologetics for everyone in the church or just men only? Some might even ask, Why is this even a question worth considering? Women are already engaging in apologetics and making great strides for the Kingdom of God. One such organization is the International Society of Women in Apologetics which is managed by apologist Sarah Ankenman – to learn more go to – http://www.womeninapologetics.com. Then there are those in the church who believe that a woman’s place is to remain silent and not be involved in teaching in any way.

Perhaps a good place to begin to answer this question is at the very beginning of Christianity. In his excellent book, History of Apologetics, Cardina Avery Dulles makes a salient point in his chapter on ‘Apologetics in the New Testament.’ He writes:

“Before being an apologetic, Christianity was of course a message. It began as a conviction that Jesus was Messiah and Lord, and this conviction seems to have drawn its overpowering force from the event of the Resurrection. As the message concerning Jesus as risen Lord was proclaimed, it gave rise to certain questions and objections from inquirers and believers, and from adversaries. In answer to such objections, and possibly also in anticipation of foreseen objections, the Christian preachers spoke about the signs, and evidences that they found convincing. …To some degree, therefore, apologetics was intrinsic to the presentation of the kerygma [proclamation – Gospel].”[1]

Apologetics, therefore, was and is intrinsic to evangelism. Apologetics, of course, can also be used to strengthen and reinforce the faith of those within the Church. So from this standpoint, the question now is – Should women be involved in the proclamation of the Good News? The answer – I hope – is obvious! We know from the New Testament that women played a key role in bringing people (including men!) to the Jesus, the Savior. One shining example is the Samaritan woman (or the woman at the well in John 4:1-38). After His encounter with her, in verse 27, Jesus’ disciples asked Him an interesting question and His response was even more interesting (especially in light of the first-century Jewish culture!).  After Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman and revealed hidden things about herself that only God could know [evidence], she left Him to go tell others:

“…His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, ‘What do you seek?’ or ‘Why are You talking with her?’ The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a Man who told me all things I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ Then they [the men!] went out of the city and came to Him.” (Jn. 4:27-30)

This point is reinforced by a closer look at who (if we are truly honest) the world’s very first apologists were – the women at the empty tomb!  All four Gospels record the fact that it was women who were first to arrive at the empty tomb of the risen Christ and they were the very first to report (& proclaim) that Jesus is risen (Matt. 28:5-8; Mk. 16:2-8; Lk. 24:1-8 & Jn. 20:1).

One of but many examples of women in apologetics in today’s cultural context is the necessity of women evangelists/apologists to Islam – the fastest growing religion in the world. In light of Islamic culture (where it is inappropriate for men to build relationships to other women), it is crucial that Christian women engage Muslim women with the Gospel and with Truth. But women apologists are not only needed in to reach Muslim women – but also to reach those in modern Western culture – with its Post-modern, Post-Christian outlook  – women trained in apologetics – who know how to skillfully and gracefully defend the Faith once and for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 1:3). Basically, where there is a need for the Gospel to be proclaimed and defended (which is everywhere!) – then women apologists are needed. Exactly how various churches and ministries utilize apologetically trained & educated women, will certainly vary from place to place and from church to church.

Nancy Pearcy studied under noted Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer at L'Abri Fellowship. She is the author of "Total Truth"

Nancy Pearcey studied under noted Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri Fellowship. She is the author of “Total Truth”

I would encourage my fellow female apologists who are probably more highly trained & educated in apologetics than many of their pastors – to be faithful where God has planted you. Wherever and whoever your audience is – proclaim the resurrection of Christ and defend the Faith with gentleness & respect (1 Pet. 3:15). God will open doors of ministry and opportunity for you, in His good wisdom and in His perfect timing. This is not only good advice for female apologists – but (I believe) to guys as well.

Christianity never stopped being a Message which should be proclaimed (& defended). The Great Commission (Matt. 28: 18-20) was given to the Church (to both men & women).  The Church has been in the past, and certainly will be in the future, enriched by the effective witness of women who have found the Savior and who give a reasoned defense of His resurrection.


[1] Cardinal Avery Dulles, History of Apologetics (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), 1-2