Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Omar Qayum and the Charge of "Misogyny"
07/25/2012 - James WhiteOmar Qayum is a volunteer at the North American Muslim Foundation (NAMF). Today he posted an article on the MDI blog taking issue with various events in Canada. I read through the article over lunch, and just about choked on my pasta when I ran across this section in response to Roman Catholic Michael Coren:
I challenge Michael to refute the following blatantly misogynistic passages in the New Testament as they are precisely why Catholic women are forbidden from becoming ordained priests:I included that last line because of the great irony it represents. I won't get into the Taliban blowing up schools for women, or how many women I see on the net who have had acid thrown in their faces, or the young woman run down by her dad in a car in a post office parking lot here in the Phoenix area a few years ago (an "honor killing"). That's too easy. What I wanted to do was point out the absurdity of identifying any of these NT passages as "misogynistic." Talk about redefining language! And what is more...I thought Islam maintained that there are definitely gender specific roles that are part of God's ordained order? So how do any of these texts engender hatred of women? How is having order in the home indicative of hatred of women, or how is order in the church, or a recognition of the normal calling of God for women to nurture children and care for the family, indicative of hatred of women? And finally, how can a Muslim make this kind of argument?
►men are the heads of women, 1 Corinthians 11:2-10
►women are to be submissive to their husbands, Ephesians 5:21-24
►women are to remain silent in church, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
►women are not to have authority over men, 1 Timothy 11:15
►women are to be domestic, Titus 2:4-9
It is sad to see how we have degenerated into a society of extremes and ignorance.
Of course, the answer probably lies in failed sarcasm, at least, I hope so. I hope our writer was simply being sarcastic and, well, just didn't do a good job making that clear. Unfortunately, given my experience with many Muslims and their general attitude toward the Christian Scriptures, it is truly hard to say.
Paul Williams And the Charge of "Extreme Fundamentalism"
07/22/2012 - James WhiteI am truly disappointed by this, but I am accustomed to it. I hope that it speaks loudly to the Muslims who know better, and know that we have provided a critique that must be answered by the current Islamic apologists. After confirming that he has left the Muslim Debate Initiative (I have no knowledge of why, though I find it ironic that it comes so closely after his debate with Chris Green in which he made a number of easily refutable arguments) he writes,
I will not be debating James White. He is an extreme fundamentalist with no credibility in the wider academic community. Muslims who continue to debate him give him a spurious credibility he does not merit.
Let's examine this for a moment. To my knowledge, Paul Bilal Williams is not a published author. I am unaware of any books he wrote as a Christian, and I am unaware of any books he has written as a Muslim, hence, I don't think he has any of his works used as textbooks in English speaking schools. During his period as a "Christian," to my knowledge, he did not teach any graduate or undergraduate level theology classes, Church history classes, or classes in the introduction of, and exegesis of, the original languages of the Bible. And though he has done a few debates, they have been on a limited variety of topics, as far as I know.
Now, over the years we have seen a long, long line of folks avoid debate challenges from me in this very fashion. And as we have examined the presentations of those folks, we have seen the real reason why they will not put their arguments to the test of public debate. Karl Keating and other Roman Catholic apologists have likewise thrown out the "fundamentalist" card, though, of course, in this case, the term is being used by a man who was once a part of a Baptist Church in London (I have debated there) but who seems to have adopted a new perspective, one that enshrines liberals as the definition of "serious" Christianity. Of course, this, coming from a man who believes Muhammad rode a winged steed to Jerusalem only shows, once again, the fact that Islam's defenders live in two different worlds. They simply do not see how they are utterly inconsistent on these matters.
What does it mean to be a "radical fundamentalist" I wonder? I know what the Fundamentals were, a century ago, and outside of the eschatological aspects specifically attached to a premillenial view of the end times, I guess I am a Fundamentalist. I believe in God, in revelation, in the Bible, in the Incarnation, in the Virgin Birth, in the resurrection of Christ, and in His promised return to earth. So Paul Williams won't debate...Christians? I think Chris Green believes all those things, too. Why did he debate him, I wonder? And doesn't Paul Williams believe in God, revelation, the Qur'an, the Virgin Birth, and Muhammad as the final prophet? In fact, doesn't he believe Jesus formed birds from clay and breathed on them and turned them into living birds, an extra-biblical story found in gnostic writings that ended up in the Qur'an? Does that make him a "fundamentalist" as well, I wonder? Would any of the "critical scholars" he likes to quote believe Jesus did that? There's that nasty double standard again!
The fact is, Paul Williams knows---he well knows---that the arguments I am making, both in defense of my faith, and in criticism of Islam, are beyond his capacity to answer. He cannot exegete the original languages, and his knowledge of Church History is scant at best. As I will demonstrate, both on the Dividing Line, and in public presentation in London, the arguments he presented against Chris Green are fallacious to the core, and rather easily refuted as well. They illustrate clearly that Paul Williams, when professing to be a "Christian," had a very shallow knowledge of the faith he professed, or, he is dishonestly misrepresenting the faith he once professed and actually knew. I will allow the reader, and the listener, to decide that particular issue. But in any case, I am sorry the folks in London will not get to hear Paul Williams' responses to my criticisms. Evidently, he doesn't think they are worth his time. When we post the material on the Internet, we will see how many others agree.
Reference Materials for the Dividing Line ...
07/17/2012 - Tur8infanFor those following along with the current Dividing Line, the following link provides the reference materials (link).
The Great Scandal of Christianity? A Counter Proposal
07/17/2012 - James WhiteThis morning I had the privilege of listening to the debate that took place between Chris Green and Paul Bilal Williams. I will be addressing the debate on the Dividing Line, for I was truly amazed at what I heard. Chris Green did a fine job, for a Brit! I do believe my British brethren need to have a little more strength to their assertions, to be honest, but that is often not the "British way." In any case, I was disappointed in the debate for a more basic reason: I had read glowing reports from Muslims who attended, but what I heard was little more than the "same ol' same ol'," the utter and total reliance upon liberal attacks upon the Bible and New Testament in general while rejecting the consistent application of the worldview of such scholars to the Qur'an and Islam. Absolute fulfillment of, "Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument," but now that it seems "Inconsistency is the sign of Islamic dawah as practiced by MDI." Of course, I don't think there is any way out of it for them: their ultimate authority makes a claim that is unsustainable logically or historically, hence, both logic and history, and hence consistency, has to be sacrificed to hold the system together. But it seems the majority of Islamic apologists have abandoned even the semblance of "equal weights," and enjoy revving up their base with frequent quotations of "conservatives" like E.P. Sanders (yes, seriously, it was suggested by Williams in this debate that E.P. Sanders is a conservative).
In any case, toward the end of the debate (time index starting 1:32:50), Williams spoke about the "great scandal of Christianity." He repeats the standard lines about how "all scholars" (echoing Bart Ehrman, who limits all "critical scholarship" to those who embrace a naturalistic approach to Scripture and reject, out of hand, any concept of inspiration or therefore harmonization, taking as the default "contradiction" rather than "consistency") view the gospels in a particular way, how "all scholars" see John as a-historical and late and hence unreliable, etc. and etc. Oh, and anyone who disagrees? Just a "fundamentalist" (the irony of someone who believes the Qur'an to be the very Word of God, unchanged, without historical development, and such things as the Isra, Mi'raj, and the existence of the Buraq, the Jinn, etc., calling someone else a "fundamentalist" as a pejorative is rich indeed). But having concluded that no one with a brain who has done the first bit of study would ever still hold to historic orthodox Christian views of theology or history, and having concluded that everyone except the Fundies are on his side, he claims, "I'm just sharing with you what most Christians are not told about their own Bibles by their own scholars. That's the scandal of the Christian church, where these things are not communicated. I often find that Muslims are better educated about the Bible than Christians are, not because they have the Qur'an, but because they have looked into this."
I have yet to meet a Muslim apologist who has invested a quarter of the time I and other Christians have to attempt to understand the other side's Scriptures. Williams' attempts at exegesis were, with all due respect, sophomoric. He pounded away at "Jesus was ignorant of who touched Him" and "Jesus did not know when the season of figs was." Both of these arguments are so ridiculous, so shallow, and so a-contextual, as to boggle the mind, but they were part and parcel of his constant presentation. While many Christians may be tempted to use bad arguments against the Qur'an, the fact is that as I seek to engage that text, I seek to be consistent in the application of my worldview, something that Williams, and the MDI men in general, simply do not do.
Further, while there are, indeed, many churches where people go on blissfully ignorant of their Bibles, the history of their Bibles, and all sorts of other issues, I would like to suggest that the situation is far worse for Muslims as a whole. Ignorance of the Qur'an and its history is epidemic amongst Muslims. Is this "the great scandal of Islam" I wonder? Or is the utter suppression of serious critical thought about the origins of Islam, and of the Qur'an, in most Islamic countries an even greater scandal? It is hard to say. But I would simply point to my own church as a standing, documented refutation of Williams' erroneous claim. I have been teaching through the Synoptic gospels, using a parallel harmony, for almost a decade. We have tackled synoptic parallel issues repeatedly during that study, including discussing background issues, alleged contradictions, you name it. The people of my church are fully aware of the entire range of scholarly disputes, and anyone with a computer and access to SermonAudio.com knows it. So much for the "great scandal."
I would like to suggest in response to Paul Williams the Great Scandal of Islam: that the founder of Islam was more ignorant of the Bible than the average Bible believing Christian is today. How is that for a great scandal? But it is the scandal that causes someone like Williams to proudly repeat the words of unbelievers like Bart Ehrman while ignoring the reality of the application of that very worldview that gives rise to his conclusions to Williams' own religious faith. The glaring inconsistency is born out of the ignorance of the writer of the Qur'an regarding the Torah and the Injeel, and it is an inconsistency that the Muslim simply cannot escape without rejection of Muhammad's authority or the Qur'an as divine Scripture.
James on the Divinity of The Lord Jesus
07/16/2012 - Tur8infanDuring the Dividing Line of July 13, 2012, Dr. White mentioned an Islamic argument alleging that James (the author of the book of James) did not believe that Jesus is God and that the church of Jerusalem (which he seemingly associates with James) was somehow in opposition to the church of Paul.
But James does make it clear that he holds to Jesus' divinity.
(1) James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (2) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (3) knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (5) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (6) But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (7) For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
In verse 1, James identifies Jesus as both God and the Lord. But if you will dispute this point, note that James clearly identifies Jesus as the Lord. Moreover, after suggesting that people can ask things from God, he immediately switches to the designation "Lord" in verse 7. James' interchangeable use of God and Lord demonstrates that he held Jesus to be divine.
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
Here James explicitly calls Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, which is a divine title. It's the same title that Paul uses for Jesus:
1 Corinthians 2:8
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Moreover, James is explicitly teaching people to place their faith in Jesus, which would be very strange if James thought that Jesus was merely a man.
It would be especially strange given that just a little later in the chapter, describing faith, James states (James 2:18-19):
(18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Notice that James views faith as faith in God, and holds that there is only one God, yet it is the "faith of our Lord Jesus Christ," as we saw above. Thus, for James, Jesus is God.
And again, this is the same as the teaching of Paul.
1 Corinthians 8:6
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
We see James equating Jesus and God again in the fourth chapter.
(8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (9) Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. (10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
This is yet another example of James using "God" and "Lord" interchangeably.
Perhaps the most obvious example for a Muslim will come when James provides the Christian precursor to Islam's "Insha'Allah":
(13) Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: (14) whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (15) For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
What Muslim would say, "If Mohamed will"? Surely the determination of what the future holds is something that is firmly the will of God - not the will of mere prophet or messenger, yet James assigns the future to the will that to the Lord, whom he has explicitly identified as Jesus Christ. Thus, James held Jesus to be divine.
But James doesn't stop there. He describes the future return of Jesus to the world (James 5:7-11)
(7) Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. (8) Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. (9) Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. (10) Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. (11) Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
Notice that here James identifies this same coming Lord, namely Jesus Christ, with the Lord in whose names the prophets spoke, and particularly the Lord referenced in the book of Job, which is undoubtedly God. You will recall that after all Job's sufferings, the Lord gave him better than he had before.
Another example is found in James 5:14-15
(14) Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (15) And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Notice here that prayer in the name of Jesus is commended, and it is alleged that Jesus will raise up the person. While this may be less explicit than the other cases, the very fact that the prayer is in Jesus' name indicates Jesus' divinity.
Thus, not only does James fail to deny the divinity of Christ (James affirmation of monotheism is no contradiction to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity), but James repeatedly treats Jesus as divine from the very first verse of the epistle.