James White vs. Zakir Hussain on the Crucifixion

So here is what happened.  Dr. James White recently debated British Muslim apologist Zakir Hussain on whether or not Jesus was crucified.  Zakir Hussain clearly won this debate.  He didn’t win because his arguments were good, in fact, they were the exact opposite.  They were arguments that were on par with Matthew Vines arguments for the Biblical blessing of homosexual relationships.  They were that bad.

Dr. White got his lights punched out.  First of all, it didn’t look like he cared much.  I challenge anyone to watch the debate and try to see an enthusiastic James White.  He looked simply like he didn’t want to be there.  Obviously we all have off days but of all days, did he have to pick a debate day to do so?  I guess we can’t pick when we have them.

Several times during the debate, White had a chance to bury Hussain.  The best example is Mark 15.  Hussain has this ridiculous argument that it’s Simon of Cyrene who was actually crucified and if you look carefully at the text, it testifies to this.  James White’s prime objection was that if you read it in Greek it sounds like Jesus.  Seriously?  The English text is just as clear as the Greek.  He didn’t quote verse 39 which shreds this ridiculous theory that Hussain is promoting.  It’s even ironic that top notch Islamic apologist Shabir Ally disagrees with Hussain on this because Ally believes that Jesus was on the cross, but he just didn’t die.  It’s not only Christians that Hussain is up against regarding this.

White did make a few good points.  He exposed the inconsistency of quoting ultra-liberal scholars like Price, Ehrman, Bultmann, and others.  I actually wonder if a Muslim can go through a debate with a Christian and not say the word scholar.  Doubt it.

Zakir Hussain played the standard Islamic apologetics modus operandi.  The Bible is good enough to prove Islam but not good enough to falsify it.  Any verse quoted to support the crucifixion was simply dismissed; usually accompanied with a quote from an ultra-liberal scholar.  He even claimed that the Simon of Cyrene swap theory existed before the Gospel of John was written.  Naturally, no primary sources were quoted to support this, only quotes from “scholars”.

Overall I was disappointed.  Hussain did what I though he would do but White was a disappointment.  He’s done well in similar debates before.  Recently he did a debate with Yusuf Ismail on this topic and he did very well.  As I said earlier, it was probably an off day.  We all have them, it’s just that the timing was bad.  Maybe next time.

A debate that I would like to see is David Wood vs. Zakir Hussain on this same topic.  White is in the UK for “Reformation” issues as it is the 500th anniversary of that event in a couple of months.  He has his mind on other things.  Wood focuses solely on Islam and has actually debated Zakir Hussain before on a very interesting topic.  That’s what I would recommend.  Either way, Hussain got the win this time.  It’s probably the first time in the history of Islam that a Muslim has won a debate on this topic.  I guess there is a first for everything.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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14 thoughts on “James White vs. Zakir Hussain on the Crucifixion

  1. I didn’t care for the format of the debate. No cross-examination? Also, Zakir threw how many ultra-liberal arguments at the wall in 25 minutes and White only had 10 minutes to respond. Perhaps he didn’t respond as you think he should have for all points, but to say he was “clobbered” seems very subjective……not objective.

    You know what is weird about this debate review? It doesn’t sound like you wrote it. In fact, I find it odd that you would so be so interested in the White/Hussain debate while having no interest in the recent White/Peter Williams debate on the Marian Dogmas…..or maybe I just couldn’t find your review on your blog. (I did search for it)

    I hope both James White & David Wood will continue to debate apologists of Islam. I question the discernment of anyone who thinks the Kingdom is better served by James White sitting on the bench instead of challenging Islamic teaching.

    Lastly, you incorrectly stated that James White was in the UK for the 500th anniversary of the reformation. The reformation tour isn’t until September and it’s in Germany. http://sovereignexperiences.com/reftour/

    • Hi Mary,

      Thanks you for the interest on the blog. I agree with what you say on cross-examination. Many of Zakir’s arguments would fall under a thorough cross-examination.

      As for not going over the Williams debate, I must point out to you that I really have my hands full and can’t cover everything. I’m doing a lot of research now on a project and I’m really busy at work. I did watch it though. I wrote about the White vs Horn debate on eternal security though if you’re interested.

      Regarding what you said about White sitting on the bench, I agree. He’s a good debater but I honestly think that this was his worst debate against a Muslim and maybe even his worst debate.

      I actually don’t know why White is in England, I assumed it was for reformation stuff as England is a Protestant country and it’s close to the anniversary. I haven’t been keeping up with his podcast in the last month because like I said, very busy.

      God Bless you Mary.

  2. White did appear disengaged, perhaps even resigned, at the end of the debate. The debate was disconcerting – White appeared inept at handling secular scholarship. Just saying, “you are quoting liberal scholars…” is now meant to make one persuasive? Really? I dont care if devil’s scholarship was being used there – in debates ideas/arguments should wrestle, not simply the sources, IMO.

    Liberal or not, its the argument that matters. The assumptions under those arguments should be scrutinized and exposed. Quit crying foul every time a liberal is quoted. A professional debater (and a scholar like White) should deal with such arguments like how a D.A. Carson or a Craig Evans or even the late Fr. R. Brown would have engaged and scholarly dismissed it.

    Zakir looked far more updated on Biblical scholarship than White (I am saying “looked”) – and for a moment I thought I was on the wrong side (I’m a Christian) because I did not see persuasive rebuttals. I am curious to hear Dr. White’s take on this on his DL – but it was disappointing and fell short of the quality White is known to bring to the table.

    But I must say, it is sad that none of the major apologists actually engage with secular scholarship when it is brought up, except perhaps for Mike Licona. Problem is, Licona is more of a scholar than a debater.

  3. Here is the 1st part of my refutation of Zakir Hussain’s opening statement in his debate with James White: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSXP27KBWgI&t=246s
    I have to honestly say that the rebuttal will utterly humiliate and embarrass Hussain for shamelessly manhandling God’s Word, one that he will definitely not be fond of.

    In this 2nd part of my refutation of Zakir Hussain I turn Psalms 30 and 31 which he perverted against him to show how these very Psalms actually confirm the physical death and resurrection of Christ: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE7HaOGwLho

    In this part of the rebuttal, I take Zakir Hussain’s claim that the Hebrew name of the Messiah, Yeshua/Yehoshua, is found in the Psalms and use that to prove that the Hebrew Bible prophesies that Jehovah will actually become Jesus Christ. I also refute his false claim regarding the Messiah supposedly having physical seed according to Isaiah 53:10. Truly humiliating for Hussain:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9uW7WMhXio

    Watch these sessions let me know what you think.

    • I will definitely look into this. I’m going to do a response to Hebrews 5:7 in my next post. I’ll definitely give you some feedback on your responses though. It’s very unfortunate that none of the debates that Hussain has done have had cross-examination in them. A good debater would use that to expose his abuse of the Biblical text.

      I think David Wood needs to debate Zakir on this topic. If I ever go to the UK I would like to debate Zakir on this and maybe even another topic.

      One thing is for sure though. I think that Hussain has taken the torch from Shabir Ally in the quoting of ultra-liberal sources.

        • Thank you Sam. I’ve listed to 2 out of the 3 links that you sent me. It’s amazing how bad Hussain butchered these Psalms. You’ve shown that the plain reading is the exact opposite of what Hussain is arguing. It was disappointing how all Dr. White said was there was a higher fulfillment. You would have buried Hussain.

          I also really like what you said about the prayer of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane in the synoptic Gospels. It’s so clear. I’m going to do a response on Hebrews 5:7 using a very similar method. I will listen to yours as well.

          God Bless.

          • Thank you brother for your kind words. I would indeed bury him by God’s grace. That’s why these Muslims are afraid of debating me since they know I pull no punches and go for the jugular. So what they do to save face is claim I am not nice and very rude and mean. Well, what do you expect me to be like with those who persistently mock, ridicule, insult and blaspheme our Lord by butchering our Scriptures and disrespecting his people?

  4. Are you serious?

    You say “James White’s prime objection was that if you read it in Greek it sounds like Jesus.” That wasn’t what White said. He said that the Greek uses different pronouns to refer to Jesus and Simon of Cyrene, so there is no confusion. The Simon of Cyrene argument is ridiculous on multiple grounds. White’s argument buries that argument just as well as other arguments.

    Also, I see the usual White level of enthusiasm. I’ve seen plenty of his debates: that’s how he talks.

    On what possible basis did Hussain win? Because he talked faster?

    • Hussain “looked” more convincing to me, and more prepared I might add. While this might be a subjective assessment, I liked the way Hussain tossed White’s objection to liberal scholarship out of the window (as he should have) when Hussain said that White was free to use Oriental scholarship against Quran if he liked – it would not matter much. Regardless of whether thats true or not, Hussain came across as very, very well prepared with myriad of scholarly quotations – and sounded far more persuasive on the face of it to me.

      This was not among White’s best debates overall, IMO.

  5. Here is pt. 4 of my refutation of Zakir Hussain’s arguments that he raised in his debate with James White in their debate on the crucifixion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL0-IS7D47I&t=1s

    I address his appeal to the sign of Jonah and Jesus’ being entombed for three days and three nights, and his claim that Mark 15:21-25 shows that it was Simon of Cyrene who was crucified on the cross.

    Here is the fifth part of my response to Zakir Hussain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MVBWZGlAd8

    I address his assertion that Jesus was flogged with his clothes on, his argument that Jesus wouldn’t drink the fruit of the vine until he does so again in God’s kingdom and how this supposedly contradicts John’s Gospel which states that Jesus drank from the fruit of the vine while on the cross. I then briefly refuted his claim that Matthew removed a reference to John the Baptist’s baptism being for repentance from sins.