A few years back I posted an article explaining the weak textual evidence of Luke 23:34a, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
This week is Good Friday and many sermons will be using this verse, so I think it is appropriate to bring awareness of its textual nature.
Whether you agree with me or not, pastors and Christians should still be aware of this textual issue and its larger theological implications, especially the important question of whether forgiveness is conditional or unconditional.
Long time no talk. We used to chat a lot, remember? Well, that was only a few months ago, so I am sure you do. I went looking for our conversation on Facebook a few weeks ago. It’s disappeared. I wonder how that happened? But you know what it was like. We were friends. Talked about a lot of things, but especially about needing to be passionate in our love of Christ, in our love for the lost, that kind of thing. Remember?
I think the last thing I saw from you was a link to an article you wrote about Abdullah Kunde. I didn’t look at it, nor did I comment on it, as far as I can recall. Someone told me you said I mistreated you about it, but I guess not commenting is “mistreating” you? In any case, we had been friends for years. Oh yes, I had to try to bring correction to you for your frequent outbursts and the fact that you often violate biblical standards of speech in your interactions with others, not only on PalTalk, but in your articles as well. I have often pointed out that no matter how much you know (and you know a great deal—which is why I have called you the Assyrian Encyclopedia!), unless you behave and speak in love, you ruin your witness, your testimony. Or, as Scripture put it long ago, you become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Cor. 13:1). Without that thing called love, “I am nothing” (13:2).
Yes, you have your defense, your “I’m doing it like the prophets did it” thing. I thought I had gotten through to the real Sam a few times when I directly asked you about your motives, your heart motives, in doing ministry to Muslims. Clearly I was wrong, but as you know, I did try.
Anyway, after November you went silent, and I started getting notes from others. “Did you see what Sam posted?” “Sam put up this article critical of you about this.” At first I thought you might just be “stirring the waters” as you had done so often in the past. “I’m such a stinker,” as you often say, right? But soon it became clear there was more to it, and I started hearing serious warnings from others. Of course, this coincided with the re-appearance of Robert Morey on the public scene, and we both know that had something to do with this. In any case, I had hoped that no matter what kind of public break was coming, I could just say, “Well, God bless Sam, and pray for him.” Of course, I had not expected the scorched earth policy you’ve adopted, nor the wild-eyed falsehoods, so that hoped for peaceful separation, for whatever reasons, was not possible. Soon your feed was little more than shots at me on a wide, wide variety of issues, and yet, as you know, I said nothing. Partly because I did not wish to fight with a friend, even if I was no longer such in his mind. Partly because I had a rough end-of-2016 health wise and even spent a period in the hospital.
Of course, once I had the dialogues with Dr. Yasir Qadhi, you decided it was time to go nuclear. You had your weapon and you were willing to use it. You did not even wait for the second video to be posted. Why would you? This wasn’t about a fair or honest or even-handed analysis of the event. You well know I haven’t changed one wit. I have been far, far more kind and respectful to my debate opponents than you ever have, Sam. Nothing you’ve dredged up of late is new, and you know it. You wrote all sorts of kind, glowing commendations of me and my ministry with everything you now call compromise and terrible right there in front of you. I had criticized Morey’s behavior in both his debates with Shabir and Dr. Badawi years and years ago, and you knew all about it. I have given gifts to my opponents in debate since 2006, and you well knew I had begun seeking to get to know these individuals by having lunch or dinner with them as well. Not a word of remonstrance until now, all of a sudden.
I note briefly that though I have been sent many screen shots of your personal attacks, insults, and yes, downright lies, about me, I have not had the desire to sit at my computer searching for your every comment, so I may have missed some invective-filled comment somewhere (indeed, I hope I have!). But I could not help but note that I have not seen any criticism of the second video, the one from the mosque itself. Did it cause you anguish to see me given the opportunity to explain the Trinity, the need for the death of the Lord Jesus, and so much more, in that context? I imagine the fact that Dr. Qadhi and I engaged in that discussion without the anger and malice that you demand must be part of all such encounters was next to impossible to bear, but was that counter-balanced by the realization that you will never, ever get to proclaim those truths in that context solely and only because you refuse to control your emotions and have the right attitude toward the task at hand? Did you hear about about doors opened afterward, the conversations between Christians and Muslims? That doesn’t happen after debates, but it happened then. I’ve just found it odd that your main explosion took place before that video of the next night was available. Spoke volumes to me, and we both know why.
You likewise had seen my RTS presentation before. I just noticed that you are continuing your egregious falsehood (on FB) that I think Muhammad’s relationship with Aisha is just fine, part of your “White is an apologist for Islam” theme now (surely one of the most absurd themes anyone has ever come up with, and one that the Muslims observing this must surely find most humorous). Your misrepresentation of my comments, which I noted on the Dividing Line recently (as Morey had picked up the false accusation from you), only continues the destruction of your own credibility in the minds of all fair-minded individuals who would take the time to listen to what I actually said. I was asked about approaching Muslims, and yes, I think starting off, as you often do, with a broadside on the Aisha issue is about the single most effective way to make sure your words never find a hearing ear. This surely illustrates the chasm that exists between us relative to methodology and purpose in apologetics. If you wish to throw red meat to the already convinced and rev up your own supporters, well, you know how to do that. But you see, I wish to communicate to the other side. I want to open doors for the Gospel, not slam them tight, lock them, and nail them shut with hard-driven nails of insult and invective. This surely separates me from you, and from, it seems, a large number of people in the “ministry to Muslims” community (an odd use of the term “ministry” I might point out).
As the fair-minded Sam Shamoun knows (wherever he has gone, I do not know), I was making the exact same suggestion that I make in dealing with other groups: don’t go to John 1:1 with JW’s because they have their response memorized, go to more effective texts; don’t argue polygamy with Mormons, focus upon the key issues, etc. There is nothing new here for me, I’ve been doing this for decades, and again, you know it. What I said in the RTS video was not a defense of Muhammad, and anyone who says it was is simply dishonest, and offensively so, and will answer for their dishonesty before our Lord in the judgment. I said there is a far more effective direction you can go that is much less likely to raise barriers if you wish to address the topic of Muhammad’s character, and you know what the great irony is, Sam? I pointed to Zaynab bint Jash. And you know why that is ironic, don’t you? Yes, one of the times I have had you on my program was to talk about that very subject. Clearly, the Qur’an shows great embarrassment over the relationship with Zaynab, but shows none at all regarding Aisha. So since there is automatic resistance to any discussion of Aisha, why not be wise and use an approach that has deep Qur’anic significance and a much better opportunity of actually staying with the person to whom you are speaking? Oh, well, White is a vile person and an apostate for even suggesting it! Your words will be weighed by the One who knows the hearts, Sam.
I have addressed the sad reality of what happens when Muhammad is put in the position of providing the definition of the ideal man, given his deep rootage in the backward society of early seventh century Arabia. Child brides (and polygamy as a whole) are the result in some contexts, and whenever God’s way is replaced with human traditions (including religious ones), mankind suffers. But I truly have to ask you, Sam—have you forgotten the only remedy? The only power the church has been given that can change hearts, and even societies? It is not your prowess at tearing apart a Muslim on PalTalk, running him or her off with an overwhelming display of knowledge and opprobrium. It is called the gospel, and that gospel is not communicated with the Spirit’s blessing by those who dare handle it with malice and anger in their hearts. I know I have no malice or anger in mine, Sam. How about you?
Sometime over the past day or so you posted the following, and I quote:
In case folks are wondering why I referred to White’s defense of Islam and Shariah loving Muslims like his mentor Qadhi a Jihad for Islam, it is because of his nasty shot at me, labeling what I did in calling him out for his nasty, unchristlike behavior towards fellow Christians and his compromise with Islam a crusade!
Being a vile human being, White knows that the term crusade is a pejorative term among Muslims, since it evokes the memory of the Muslim wars with the Crusaders. White’s choice of words is deliberately calculated to get his Muslim fan base to run to his side seeing how he is supposedly adorning the gospel with grace and beauty for the purpose of reaching Muslims (which is a nice way of trying to justify his compromise with the truth of the Gospel and the example of the Lord Jesus and his blessed Apostles by his willingness to bend over backwards to appease his mentor and other Muslims), while vilifying me even further in the eyes of his Muslim mentor Qadhi and the others.
Sam, did you have to work up the rage and anger that fills these words, or does it just come naturally now? I mean, I guess I could have used “jihad” instead of “crusade,” or maybe just “campaign,” but I doubt it would have made any difference, for you are intent upon reading every word in the worst possible way, attributing to me motivations that you are projecting upon me out of a blind anger that you cannot even seem to see (or, you can, and are working very hard at ignoring the conviction in your heart for the dishonesty it entails).
First, I think it is time for you to drop the pretense that you have simply “called me out” for allegedly being “nasty” to fellow believers. It has become a joke given your behavior. Every rational person knows you have treated me a thousand times worse than anyone I have ever criticized, so it would be good for you to put that broken banjo aside and admit it was always a cover anyway.
Second, if you wish to pretend a tweet to a non-muslim was somehow a coded insult because I used the term “crusade,” I can’t stop you, but it is silly out here in the world where the rest of us do not live our days in a wild-eyed fit of anger. All the ludicrous theories you have produced about my being an apologist for Islam, cravenly seeking Yasir Qadhi’s approval, etc., are only evidence of how far, and how fast, you have fallen into gross personal deception, nothing more.
Third, you are quite correct, Sam. I am a vile human being. So are you. That’s one of the most basic tenets of the gospel. But I will go beyond that (knowing your intent was not theological, but again, the venting of an anger utterly inappropriate for any person involved in ministry): I need to apologize to you. I was a poor friend. I far too easily overlooked your “I’m such a stinker” comments when you had just engaged in some kind of dishonest behavior, chumming the waters, so to speak, or had indulged your regular penchant for insult and opprobrium in writing an article. I accepted, to some extent anyway, your “I’m an Assyrian, it is our way” excuse. That was wrong of me, and I apologize. I should have held you to a Christian standard of conduct, Assyrian or not, Sam or not, especially in the realm of ministry. I gave in to the “us vs. them” mentality far too easily, and I failed you in that way. I should have called you to repentance far more often than I did. I should have pressed you on church membership and having elders looking at what you were doing in ministry. The lack of that much needed control has been devastating to you. So, yes, I’m a vile human being, just not for the reasons you are now promoting in your attempt to destroy this ministry and my work.
Finally, I wish to provide a contrast between the real world and the world you have created in your mind over the past few weeks. You accuse me of compromising the gospel. That’s a very serious charge. I wonder how you would defend this accusation? I think a very useful conclusion to this letter would be to compare your allegation, which was made without any citational evidence, with a portion of the dialogue in the mosque. Here I am asked a direct question and am given unfettered opportunity to explain the gospel to the Muslims. Compromise? Only in your mind these days, Sam, and given the clarity of this discussion, that says a lot to anyone considering our words.
I close by saying that I will continue to pray for you, Sam. Despite your betrayal of our friendship, despite the vituperation and vilification, I pray that God will bless you with repentance and a recovering of your balance. You have much to offer, so I pray God will convict you of the need to have first and foremost a true care and concern for the lost, and would provide you with a proper restraint upon your emotions and your tongue. You know I did nothing to trigger your turning on me. Only you know your real reasons. But I gladly lay all of that before the Lord, who knows so well both of our hearts.
90 minute program today with some thoughts from 2 Peter to start off the New Year, then a lengthy discussion of God’s decree, followed by a few items related to Islam and the Ecclesiastical Text folks.
Started off announcing tomorrow’s show with Jeff Durbin, and playing a few clips reminding folks that yes, in fact, the “meme” over the past few weeks has in fact been, “Hey, those Apologia guys held a beer and tattoo fund raiser, and that’s foolishness.” Then I moved over to the David Wood response to Seth Dunn regarding Nabeel Qureshi. I interacted with the video while at the same time illustrating that, yes, believe it or not, Christians can disagree and remain Christians. Hopefully useful!
Here is the YouTube link:
PRBC Prayer Meeting
PRBC Prayer Meeting
Starts: 10:00 pm
Ends: May 24, 2017 - 11:30 pm
Location: Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church 3805 N. 12th St Phoenix AZ 85014
James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books, a professor, an accomplished debater, and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.