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.
I was very impressed with Adnan Rashid in this debate. White did okay as well, but Rashid looked to me as someone who was asking serious questions. It seems that Rashid wasn’t trying to score cheap points in the debate but he wanted to legitimately offer up serious questions and objections about points of ambiguity where Muslims differ with Christians.
One thing that really stuck out was White’s inability to reconcile James and Paul. Rashid threw out the Paul vs James card and mentioned how Luther thought the two were irreconcilable. They went deep into the text. I think it’s unfortunate that Rashid and other apologists don’t encounter the Catholic tradition. Most apologists against Islam are Calvinists who accept Luther’s doctrine of Sola Fide which comes from a misrepresentation of St. Paul’s writings.
For 1500 years, there was no problem believing that James and Paul were consistent with each other. Enter Martin Luther who twists Paul’s writings and makes a doctrine that Paul never taught. White threw out the old: I’ve written 24 pages on this! Adnan Rashid hadn’t read that book. Although I do think The God Who Justifies is a good book, the portion on James 2 is rather weak.
Martin Luther is the reason that Muslims and some liberals see this dichotomy between Paul and James. As a Catholic, this problem doesn’t exist. Luther believed that Paul and James were irreconcilable, but as a Catholic, I stand with my Church who condemned his theology and excommunicated him. He’s a heretic according to Catholics.
This debate showed that Rashid needs to be exposed to the writings of Dr. Robert Sungenis. Dr. Sungenis debated White on the issue of Justification and Paul’s letters and James 2 both came up.
To my knowledge, Rashid has never debated a Catholic with the exception of Robert Spencer and that was on the existence of Muhammad, not Christian theology. I can’t blame Rashid on this because Calvinists seem to have a monopoly on the apologetics against Islam. I don’t blame Calvinists for this. In fact, good on them for being proactive and shame on the Catholics for not stepping up.
I was a bit disappointed with James White in the cross-examination. Rashid brought up some material that White should have been prepared for. Rashid brought up how Isaiah 53 brought up “offspring” and that Jesus didn’t have children. Dr. Michael Brown has an amazing response to this and it’s a bit disappointing that White didn’t use it seeing as how he is a personal friend of Brown and knows about his books on Jewish apologetics.
Rashid also brought up Psalm 91 and how it hints that Jesus didn’t die. I could understand how White was not prepared for this against Zakir Hussain but he didn’t have an excuse this time. I know that White is no longer friends with Sam Shamoun, but Shamoun did a great job posting responses to Hussain on how he butchered these Psalms and their true meaning. White should have at least listened to Shamoun’s responses to Hussain.
White’s strongest point of the debate was when he refuted Rashid on how he took some Pauline passages out of context. The best example of this being 1 Corinthians 6. The Acts 15 discussion was interesting as well.
What I took away from this debate is that Rashid is genuinely interested in truth. At least more than other Islamic apologists who just try to score cheap points. Rashid also needs to be exposed to Catholic teaching where no Paul vs James dichotomy exists. He needs to be exposed to the Fathers and Doctors of the Church as well as the teachings of the Council of Trent where Luther’s heresy of Sola Fide was anathematized. Rashid is not far off and he needs our prayers.
Every Christian and Muslim needs to watch this debate. They also need to watch the debate between Dr. Sungenis and Dr. James White where St. Paul’s writings are properly evaluated.