Paul vs James: Insert New Variable Here

Exposing the Islamic Misuse

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?

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

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5 thoughts on “Paul vs James: Insert New Variable Here

  1. I’ve always considered putting St. James against St. Paul to be one of the weakest arguments of Muslim apologists. Not only the alleged dichotomy has been refuted like a hundred times already, but claiming its existence actually backfires quite badly on Islam.
    First, it means they admit that this epistle is actually genuine, as a content and as an assigned authorship. That means that the early Christians were not the vile deceivers and forgers of Jesus’ original message, at least not as the Muslims would like to have it. But what about their precious Bart Ehrman, who claims in his books ”Forged” and “Forgery and Counterforgery” that this epistle was not penned by Jesus’ brother, but by some other James, since Jesus’ brother was just “an illiterate Aramaic peasant”? Oh, I forgot, Ehrman’s opinion matters only when it benefits Islam. I guess he is simply going under the bus in this case.
    Second, what about St. James calling God “Father” and Christ “Our Lord of Glory”? What about the blessed Apostle saying that it was Isaac (Muslims believe it was Ishmael) who was offered by St. Abraham as a sacrifice? I guess we’re supposed to pretend that these don’t exist.
    Third, if we assume that St. James actually is telling us to continue the observance of Mosaic law, isn’t this another needle in Muhammad’s throat, since Muslims want to convince us that their prophet was preaching the distortion of the text of the Old Testament, including the Torah? St. James probably wrote his epistle around 50-60 AD, and we know for sure that the only Torah during that time was the one we have today. Why was he urging his readers to follow corrupt law? Didn’t he know what he was talking about?
    Fourth, what about the myriad of authors that elaborated on the reconciliation of the writings of the two Apostles? I’ve never seen a Muslim refutation of these Christian responses, and I read a lot of Islamic apologetic material. As far as I can tell, Muslims simply pretend that the Christian explanations don’t exist. Among the authors who dealt with the alleged discrepancy are Dr. James White in his book “Scripture Alone” and Dr. Craig Evans in his book “Getting Jesus Right: How Muslims get Jesus and Islam Wrong” (coauthored by James Beverley). I want to make clear that I don’t embrace everything the authors say (they’re Protestants, I’m not). These are just some of the explanations that are out there, and definitely not the best ones. But Muslims still seem to be unaware of them.
    I hope this clears up the issue. God bless.

    • Hi OrangeHunter,

      Thanks for commenting. You provide good responses and show how Muslim apologists want it both ways. Another post I’m going to write is something that you touched on. The corrupted Torah? The epistle of James clearly affirms the authority of the original Torah.

      Also, Muslims like to say they’re pro-law just like James, even when Muslims don’t follow Torah but a law they made up. But one has no other choice to resort to this when you follow an ahistorical religion. This issue about law might actually be my next post.

      That’s why I like to throw in Peter since it destroys the grounding of this argument. Peter should believe the same thing as James since he was also an earthly disciple. But your argument doesn’t contradict mine, it simply takes another path.

      I take it you’re pretty new to this blog? You mention that you’re not Protestant. I assume you’re Catholic?

      Happy Sunday and God Bless.

      • Thanks for replying, Allan (if I may). No, I’m not Catholic, I’m an Eastern Orthodox Christian and yes, one could say that I’m new here, at least as a commenter on your articles. I’ve been following your site for like half a year now, I found it while searching for Christian reviews of the White-Hussain debate on the Crucifixion. Just like you, I felt disappointed by James White’s performance, he failed to expose and refute many of Zakir’s atrocious arguments. Your blog touches on many topics that I find interesting, including counter-Islamic polemics, which I find _especially_ interesting. Keep up the good work and God bless.

        • Hello OrangeHunter,

          I’m glad that you enjoy the blog. I’m actually a student of the Russian language and have a lot of Russain speaking Eastern Orthodox friends. Mainly from Ukraine and Belarus.

          Islam is the main focus of my blog but I do deal a lot with Protestantism, Liberalism, Atheism and other movements. I try to give a lot of information on apologetics and general dialoguing techniques. I’m glad that you’ve found some of it useful.

          God Bless,

  2. Muslim polemics against the Old and New Testaments always seem to be cherry picking and self-contradictory – in one breath deriding Paul as a fake apostle, in the next citing a passage from one of his letters to argue for Mohammad.

    Their stance is even justified as ‘parts of the Bible (i.e. only those parts which we dislike or disagree with) were corrupted’.

    It always strikes me as logically inconsistent to say that Paul was at odds with the original Twelve, but also that he wrote earlier than the Gospels – wouldn’t the four Gospels then have at least some mention of the Pharisaic interloper and Trinitarian blasphemer Paul?