Recently, I wrote about revisionist theories of Islamic origins. Ironically, this weekend I started to read Bart Ehrman’s new book. I’m about halfway done so expect a review soon. Ehrman’s book got me thinking more about Islamic revisionist history. Why is that? Doesn’t Ehrman only attack the Christian faith? In the intro of the book, Ehrman talks about how Christians in the late fourth Century destroyed the Temple of Allat in Palmyra, which is in modern day Syria.
In the last five to ten years, revisionist theories about Islamic origins have trickled down to the popular level. They’ve usually only been in academia but now their scholarship can easily be found in books published by mainline publishers and not only by a particular University Press. The reason that these theories exist, is because of the huge gap between the life of Muhammad and the first Islamic details about him. Ibn Ishaq’s biography of Muhammad dates back to Ibn Hisham’s redaction, two centuries after Muhammad’s death. The canonical Hadith collections take another half century before they are put into circulation. In other words, sources about Islam are 200-300 years after Muhammad lived. These are extremely late sources.
As an apologist, one of my objectives is to deal with other apologists. I encounter the work of many people and groups. One group is a Jewish group called Jews for Judaism which is run by Rabbi Michael Skobac. They arose shortly after the founding of Jews for Jesus to counter their missionary efforts. At this point in time, I would say that their organization no longer serves a purpose.
In the debate that I previously reviewed, I explained how I thought Sean McDowell did a good job of sticking to the text and not going for the red herrings of Matthew Vines. I agreed with McDowell’s answers, though I would have had a slightly different answer to one of the challenges of Vines.
Any Christian apologist who deals with Islam will point out that Muslims engage in double standards regarding the use of anti-supernaturalist leftist Biblical “scholarship”. However, before Muslims started doing that, both at a popular and scholarly level, they actually shared quite a bit in common with the Liberals in how they viewed Jesus Christ.
I started studying apologetics in depth in 2008. Of course, I had been studying Scripture, Christianity, and Church history prior to that. The interesting thing is that I didn’t start my apologetics with Islam. I mainly dealt with non-Trinitarian cultic 19th century groups such as the Two by Two’s(Google them), Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eventually I got interested in Old Testament Prophecy so that led me to study the Jewish objections to Jesus. I encountered the work of people like Rabbi Tovia Singer, Jews for Judaism and others.
The Adnan Rashid vs James White debate resurfaced another popular trend in Islamic apologetics. Muslim apologists really seem to be playing on the whole supposed dichotomy between James and Paul. Of course, these apologists haven’t done an in depth study of Paul. In a dialogue it’s hard to go in depth into Pauline writings to show that there isn’t a contradiction between the two since it requires in depth exegesis of the text.
One interesting thing about the recent debate with Adnan Rashid and James White was the use of Psalm 91. A few months ago, Zakir Hussain used this argument against James White in a debate. Both times, James White didn’t have an answer. Seeing as how this has been used by more than one apologist, it seems to be a new apologetic tactic. Unfortunately White didn’t do his homework after the Hussain debate. The response isn’t a difficult one but it needs to be presented so here it goes.
Less than a week ago, Calvinist apologist James White debated Islamic apologist Adnan Rashid on a very important topic. The topic was: “Do we need the cross for salvation?” I have many thoughts on the debate and I want to share a few.
One thing that I’m good at is debating. It’s probably because I’ve done a lot of reading, have a great memory, and am really good at asking the right questions. In other words, I can really put my interlocutor on the spot. In terms of apologetics, this helps, but sometimes debating doesn’t get one anywhere. If someone loses an argument, it doesn’t mean they’re going to convert to your faith. It may contribute to it in the long run but it’s a stretch. It’s hard to get people out of their comfort zone. It’s a tactic one must use sparingly.