It will be past 2am EDT when I finish this, but I wanted to get a quick report up on the blog before I vegetate for, I hope, at least 7.5 hours.
I started the day at the Berean Baptist Church, doing the early and late services, and the Bible Study in between. I spoke on the reliability of the NT documents in the services, and on the deity of Christ during the Bible Study. Everyone was very kind and encouraging. Thanks to Dan Knapp for arranging this, and to pastor McIntosh and the rest of the elders for having me. I enjoyed watching a baptism of a young man from Germany as well, and his testimony was very encouraging. Great to see the Lord at work in that wonderful fellowship.
Managed to catch a little rest and then head to the debate site where I caught the very end of the debate between Sheikh Awal and Tony Costa. I really enjoyed getting to spend time with Tony again, this time with both of us engaging in the apologetic work at the same time. He and I were on ABN last night and it was a pleasure to watch him finishing up his debate with Sheikh Awal. I appreciate his participation in this weekend’s events here in Detroit.
Then we got into the debate with Sheikh Awal. The topic was, “Is the Bible We Possess Today the Word of God?” I laid out the necessary parameters for a fair, truthful, honest, and scholarly discussion, insisting that we must differentiate between questions of textual corruption, translational issue, historical issues, and theological issues. I went through the testimony to the text of the NT, its breadth and antiquity, and pointed out that the Qur’an likewise has a textual history, and contains textual variants (a fact Sheikh Awal never even tried to refute).
As soon as Sheikh Awal stood up—he began the process of confusing all of those categories. His basic presentation was that the Bible says things about prophets that should not be said (David and Bathsheba, for example), and therefore, this just can’t be the Word of God. He repeated many of his standard errors, claiming that the canon was determined by the Council of Nicea, for example (a common myth that has no historical foundation).
I was able to refute each and every one of his opening arguments in my twelve minute rebuttal, and even had time to give him a gift (an NET/NA27 diglot). I almost got through all the points he raised in his own rebuttal in the five minute rebuttal that followed that.
The cross-examination was very difficult. My opponent refused to engage the topic meaningfully, often answering a question other than the one I asked, for completely failing to provide any meaningful response at all. It was a clear illustration of the maxim, “Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument.” If anything was proven clearly, it was that Sheikh Awal uses one standard for Christianity, and a completely different standard for Islam. By the end of the evening, everyone in the audience could see that very, very clearly.
While I do not believe Sheikh Awal managed to provide a single compelling argument against the veracity of the Bible, I still look forward to tomorrow night and the debate on the topic of the deity of Christ. It will be a second opportunity to contrast meaningful, fair exegesis against the a-contextual, cut/paste/eisegete tactics that are often used to attack Christian truth.
I wasn’t able to stick around long after the debate, as I had to drive quite a distance to the ABN studios and appear on the 11pm to 1am edition of “Jesus or Muhammad” with Pastor Joseph and Sam Shamoun. I was pretty tuckered out by the time we finished, but it was still a most enjoyable time.
I hope to post the video from Saturday evening on ABN, and from tonight, tomorrow. Be watching, and please pray for the debate tomorrow evening!