Response to James White’s Dividing Line Program 28-08-2012
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,
Once again, I’ve rattled the hornet’s nest of Evangelical extremism. This isn’t something I’m unfamiliar with, but this week’s Dividing Line program had me in stitches, allow me to explain why. James White found my article located here, to be ‘condescending‘, ‘insulting‘ and alluded to my writing as being ‘extremist‘. The problem therein is that James White has no problem with the language, the insults, the wild accusations that his friends over at Answering Islam or ABN Tv use (see here and here). In fact, it’s quite well known that James is a friend and ally, even a student and sometimes a teacher of one, a Mr. Sam Shamoun. Those who are familiar with Sam know that he is far removed from any level of dignity. Therefore, it is in that light that I am calling James White out on his hypocrisy. If he does not condemn Sam for the language he and his co-missionaries use, on what grounds of intellectual responsibility does he stand? Nay, on what grounds as a Christian (as he claims himself to be), can he be silent on the acts of his own brothers in faith, but attack Muslims when they use the same form of argumentation? It should also be noted, that I found James to be fond of using the term, ‘double standard’, yet in his rant, he was often more than inconsistent, falling prey to his own double standards.
I’d like to make it clear, that my article was simple:
- To identify a criteria to determine who God was according to the Old Testament.
- This criteria had to be unique, solely to YHWH.
- Demonstrate said quality of YHWH that identifies YHWH solely as God.
- Compare aforementioned quality to Jesus of the New Testament to see if the same unique quality can be equated.
- Comment on the findings.
This is all my article did. Based on that, James did not answer my question, in fact he demonstrated his inability to properly respond to basic theological analysis. The premise was simple, if YHWH is God, does He do something only God can declare? This is exactly what YHWH did, He declared himself to be God in no uncertain terms. The same cannot be said of Jesus, although James did try by referencing Titus 2:13 which reads:
“while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,”
Which isn’t what I asked for. I asked, where did Jesus declared Himself to be God, as YHWH did in the Old Testament. No one says YHWH is God because Abraham, David or Moses call Him God. We know YHWH is the God of the Old Testament because He says so Himself, because He identifies Himself as God almighty. The same cannot be said of Jesus, because at no point does He ever mimic the behaviour of YHWH as a proud God. For hundreds of years, nay, thousands of years, YHWH continuously declared Himself to be Hashem Adonai, Elohiym, etc. Yet the point remains, that despite thousands of years of doing so, he was unable in the person of Jesus to do so once. If they were the same God, why does Jesus not have the same proud, boastful, magnificent, powerful declarations of YHWH? You can find a more expansive study of that argument, with relevant verses here.
Now James did try to counter my questions by referring to quite pathetic straw men. Today, I’m going to analyse some of his straw men and ask him why it is that he could not present a counter question, relevant to mines. You can find his rabid diatribe here, his rant against my article begins at the 48th minute mark.
- Is every single Surah of the Qur’an the same? No.
I don’t see what Chapters (Surahs) have to do with fundamental alterations to God’s persona. I did not question James on what Matthew says, as compared to that of Luke, I asked James why YHWH had one persona for thousands of years, and suddenly in the space of 33, could not continue this persona. This has nothing to do with chapters, verses, books, scripture, it’s a question about His deity. Therefore not only is this question irrelevant, it’s a poor attempt at diverting from the issue at hand. Perhaps it was an emotional argument, but nonetheless, it can only give nothing but credence to his weak scholarship.
- If you read the Qur’an, in a contextual and chronological fashion you will see a development, the first portions of the Qur’an barely emphasizing tawheed. That specific term does not appear in the Qur’an. The oneness of Allah against polytheists, at that time Muhammad [saws] is a minority Prophet, and he’s calling the Quraysh and Meccans to true worship.
I’m not sure if James White was at any point intoxicated during this radio program, or if he intentionally was being deceptive. The very first verse to be revealed (see Ahmed Von Deffer’s, “Ulum al Qur’an” for the Chronology of the verses revealed), refers to Allaah as being Lord (singular, i.e. Tawheed):
Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists), – Qur’an 96:1.
Not only is Allaah defined as Lord (Rabb), He is also defined as the Creator, and that’s in the very first verse. It gets worse, the second set of verses to be revealed enforce this message once more:
Tawheed refers to the oneness of our Lord (Rabb) and I am pretty sure that any functionally literate human sees the singular word, ‘Lord’ and not ‘Lords’. If referring to God as a ‘Lord’, that is: singular, does not emphasize the oneness of God, then James is sacrificing his intellectual integrity for an argument a child would be able to refute. To rub some salt into his intellectual wounds, the next two Surahs which were revealed speak specifically about Tawheed (some say Surah 73 came second and then Surah 74, quoted above):
Lord of the East and Lord of the West – there is no God except Him, therefore make Him your sole Trustee of affairs. – Qur’an 73:9.
Tawheed is pretty clear, protruding, extant, explicit, in the verse above, even if that does not satisfy him, the very next (forth) revealed Surah mentions it in even more detail:
In the name of Allah, most benevolent, ever-merciful. ALL PRAISE BE to Allah, Lord of all the worlds, Most beneficent, ever-merciful, King of the Day of Judgement. You alone we worship, and to You alone turn for help. Guide us (O Lord) to the path that is straight, The path of those You have blessed, Not of those who have earned Your anger, nor those who have gone astray. – Qur’an 1:1-7.
Here’s a bit of advice James, if you have to lie, atleast make a smart lie, something with some level of ambiguity, something that I may not have knowledge about, but out of all things, do not lie about the Qur’an or early Islam. We have endless access to vast amounts of information that make it almost impossible for you to qualify your deceitful statements.
- I mean some Surahs say one thing and another Surah does not contain the exact same thing as another one, that must mean there is some change. Must be a different God.
This is another poorly constructed straw man. My argument was not nor has it ever been differing contents from one chapter to a next, my argument has and will always be, why the change in persona from a boastful, prideful God, to a mute that would not dare declare his deity, as opposed to thousands of years of magnificent declarations?
- When jesus comes, there are prophecies, those prophecies identify him as El Gibbor and Father God, Father Eternity. John comes to make straight the way for YHWH. The original followers of Jesus identify him as YHWh and cite texts from the OT and apply them to Jesus.
The problem arises once more, these are not the proud, bold, extant, explicit statements of YHWH, Jesus does not make these statements, nor does he interpret such statements to be about him. The epistles which do so, and the gospels which are written about him, are not the same as his interpretations, or his points of view. Taking post hoc eisegesis by unknown scribes as evidence of a man’s deity is not only lazy scholarship but grasping for straws at the least. It is also quite abhorrent to identify the original followers of Jesus as being those from whom Tanach prophecies were applied, as we have no proper definition of who a ‘real’ Christians was until 325 AD when a vote decided that. It’s merely wishful thinking to assume that a decision of who a real Christian was, some 290 years after the man’s ministry, somehow transforms him into a God.
- So is your argument, really that Jesus should have just popped into existence.
After roughly 10 minutes of ranting, James finally asks an intelligent question. He wants to know what my argument is. See, this makes sense, all the previous questions he has asked are unintelligible and not related to what I asked in my article. I applaud James for conceding that he has faulty argumentation and for not knowing what my argument actually was. My argument is not that Jesus should have just popped into existence, my argument is why does he never say he is God, like YHWH does in the 12 verses I gave (not to mention the vast amounts of others I am willing to provide)?
- Is he just supposed to pop out with a big sign and say I am God, worship me? That’s the only way God can do these things. I am God, worship me. Is that the only way God can really do this thing? It is not possible, that the God man can come and actually come to veil his glory.
Again James, your inability to answer my question and to divert by promoting a straw man, leads me to further understand why Paul Williams refuses to share a stage with you. Such a low level of academia should not be entertained. I will quote myself:
I asked for where Jesus declared Himself to be God, as YHWH did in the Old Testament. No one says YHWH is God because Abraham, David or Moses call Him God. We know YHWH is the God of the Old Testament because He says so Himself, because He identifies Himself as God almighty. The same cannot be said of Jesus, because at no point does He ever mimic the behaviour of YHWH as a proud God. For hundreds of years, nay, thousands of years, YHWH continuously declared Himself to be Hashem Adonai, Elohiym, etc. Yet the point remains, that despite thousands of years of doing so, he was unable in the person of Jesus to do so once. If they were the same God, why does Jesus not have the same proud, boastful, magnificent, powerful declarations of YHWH?
What is worse is that James mentions that God may have wanted to ‘veil‘ His glory. Veil here means to ‘cover‘, so God who is Eternally Majestic, would like to ‘hide’ His majesty? Logically speaking, to be Eternal is a constant, i.e. never ending and to ‘hide’ is to alter this constancy and thus be rendered as non-eternal. Therefore James provides another reason why YHWH is not Jesus, YHWH declares Himself to be eternal:
Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. – Genesis 21:33.
While Jesus is not eternal in His attributes, but veiled and hidden, atleast according to James White.
- Is it possible, just slightly possible, Ijaz, that God doesn’t want to present his son in this fashion? That maybe the idea of faith, is to be something other than just simply accepting some massively overpowering display.
So James at one point, hit a note of desperation and decided to throw an emotional argument into the mix. Yet the Bible refutes James once more, it says:
Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? – Exodus 15:11.
YHWH is defined as an eternal God, eternally Majestic, Eternal in Glory, yet James’ version of YHWH is timid and veiled, not overpowering, which is different from the powerful and magnificent YHWH:
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. – Deuteronomy 10:17.
- When your quran says your prophet came with no other miracle than the qur’an, now narrations came up with all sorts of stuff that he allegedly did but that was later on. That’s odd isn’t it….Why isn’t there any glowing massive demonstration that Muhammad is the final prophet outside of well, just the Qur’an, which I just read and don’t find all that impressive?
I’m not sure what YHWH being God and Jesus not declaring himself as such, has to do with miracles of the Prophets. Doing miracles does not make one a Prophet, even the Bible attests to this:
They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. – Revelation 16:14.
Similarly, your argument that the ahadith came later on, is not only ignorant of the early transmission of the Sunnah, but ignorant of the fact that the argument backfires against you. Another one of your ‘double standards‘, recall that the stories of Jesus’ life were produced decades after his ‘worldly ministry’, since you lay claim to the notion that time affects validity, then your claim to miracles being a criteria can be equally as dismissed through dated record by scribes about your New Testament.
- Marcionite was not an actual Christian. We should hold all those little Muslim sects and cults to be Muslims as well. The great double standard.
Marcion was a Christian, the formal declaration of a Christian which you now hold to was only decided at the Council of Nicea. The same Catholic Church which you refer to as apostate and following the devil, is the same Church’s definition you use to define who a true Christian was, before 325 AD. The same Catholic patristics you demonise are the ones who opposed Marcion. Yet Marcion had vast amounts of followers and was the first man to codify as scripture, the New Testament you use today. Clearly if you want to talk about double standards, you must question yourself first.
In closing the question that sparked this article and a radio show, remains unanswered. Why is it that the YHWH of the Tanach is able for thousands of years to declare Himself as an Eternal, Majestic, Mighty, Powerful, Jealous, Vengeful God, with explicit, extant and clear statements, but Jesus, in 33 years, is unable to do so, not even once? James did indicate he may continue his ‘response’ to me on Thursday, if that is the case, is he planning to actually answer the crux of the argument then, or would I have to seep through his straw men to find it?
wa Allaahu Alam,
and God knows best.