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.
Muslims usually word this supposed dichotomy of James vs Paul as “Original disciple of Christ” vs “Later convert to Christianity who is suspect due to his earlier persecution of the Church”. The Muslim will throw the ball in your court with these words and place the burden of proof on you. Expect some liberals to be quoted as well if they’re well read.
The solution to this problem is very simple. James and Paul are already in this equation but we need to insert our third player. The apostle Peter. Once you inject Peter into the conversation, you throw the burden of proof back on the Muslim. After all, Peter was an earthly disciple just like James. We also have quite a bit of information about him; certainly much more than we do of James. We have two epistles of Peter and his preaching in the early chapters of Acts. The Muslim might appeal to liberal scholarship and say that one or both of the Petrine epistles are forgeries. The counter to this is that this is double standards since those same scholars don’t believe that James wrote the epistle attributed to him either.
Either way, it’s good to have a few verses memorized from the early chapter of Acts from the lips of Peter. Here are some verses that I like to use.
“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
– Acts 2: 22 – 24
This affirms the death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead according to the plan of God, contrary to Islamic beliefs.
You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
– Acts 3: 15
This one verse shows the death, resurrection, and deity of Christ. All three of them are denied by Islam.
For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’
– Acts 3: 22 – 23
This last verse shows that Peter believed that Deuteronomy 18 referred to Jesus Christ, and not Muhammad as the prophet like Moses.
With these few verses we can show that Peter thought that Jesus was divine, died on the cross, rose from the dead according to God’s plan, and was the Prophet from Deuteronomy 18. Not very Islamic sounding from this earthly disciple of Christ.
With Peter in the equation everything changes. He’s an earthly disciple just like James but we know way more about him, in contrast to the far smaller amount that we know about James. The whole earthly disciple vs Johnny come lately dichotomy is destroyed.
This is also a good argument to use against liberals as well. After all, like 95% of the arguments that Muslims use against Christianity, where do you think the Muslims got this?