Criticism of CL Edwards’ Debate Methodology versus Br. Shadid Lewis


Br. Shadid Lewis and CL Edwards recently had a debate entitled, “Can We Trust the Islamic Jesus“, this is not a review of the debate (the review shall be published soon), but this is a criticism of CL Edward’s methodology of which he employed during the debate. I base my informed criticism about CL, on my experience as a debater who has also previously engaged with him in a recorded debate and on my past rebuttals to him.

The Scope and Delimitations of the Debate

It’s all in the title. When two debaters sit down to discuss a topic, they are agreeing to leave off all other discussions and to focus on what the subject of the debate is. So for example, if I sit down with an opponent, and we agree to debate oranges, we are agreeing to discuss nothing but oranges, we will not discuss any other fruit such as an apple, or a banana. This therefore is what we refer to as the scope (depth) and the delimitations (boundaries of the debate). The scope of the debate, is that we have agreed to discuss everything about oranges, as much as we can. The delimitations (or boundaries) of the debate, mean that we limit ourselves to the discussion of oranges. CL would have to explain if he did not agree to debate this topic, to atleast release himself from the criticism against him.

What’s in the Title?

The title of the debate was and up to the start of the debate, declared to be, “Can We Trust the Islamic Jesus“. Let’s break the title up to understand what the scope and delimitations of the debate was:

  • Can we trust
  • the Islamic Jesus

Who is being referred to as, ‘we‘, here? Well, let the evidence show that the we, includes solely Christians and Muslims. Why do I say this? Well for one, the organization which CL Edwards represented was a Christian organization, the Center for Religious Debate. The audience was a Christian audience. The debate was held inside of a Church and the debate began and ended with Christian prayers.

Secondly, they were debating the Islamic Jesus, not the sources of the Islamic Jesus, but whether or not Christians, can trust the Islamic Jesus, not the Islamic faith, the Islamic scriptures, the Islamic Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), but the Islamic Jesus.

What was Shadid’s Methodology?

Since this was a Christian opponent, and a Christian audience and given the scope and delimitations of the debate title, Br. Shadid’s methodology was quite simple. It can be demonstrated in set notation:

Let Set M represent the attributes of Islamic Jesus:

  • Set M = {Man, Prophet, Sent by God, Did Miracles, Virgin Birth, Messiah}.

Let Set C represent the attributes of the Christian Jesus:

  • Set C = {Man, Prophet, Sent by God, Did Miracles, Virgin Birth, Messiah, God}.

Set C represents what Christians trust about Jesus, therefore, Shadid’s methodology is to demonstrate the intersection of Islamic beliefs and Christians beliefs about Jesus, imply that they already believe what Muslims believe, and since they already trust their own beliefs about Christ, they then already trust the Islamic beliefs about Christ.

Let M ^ C be the intersection or what is commonly trusted among the beliefs of Muslims and Christians about Christ:

  • Set M ^ C = {Man, Prophet, Sent by God, Did Miracles, Virgin Birth, Messiah}.

The Muslim beliefs about Christ, are therefore declared to be a subset of the beliefs which Christians have about Jesus Christ. I’m using set logic, or set notation, since this is the easiest way to explain Br. Shadid’s methodology. I’m also using this form of explanation, since CL Edwards claims to have studied logic, or atleast attempted to explain (without reason), the definition of several logical fallacies during the debate. It is therefore the case, that CL clearly is an inane ignoramus, a sophomore (bookful blockhead), who although being a claimant of utilizing logic, he clearly did not understand the clear and consistent logic as used by Br. Shadid. My criticism against CL shows that he either intentionally misled himself into thinking he was a logician, or he fooled his audience by claiming to understand Br. Shadid’s methodology.

What was CL’s Methodology?

CL Edwards focused his argument on the following points:

  • The Qur’aan is not from the first century, thus it is not a reliable witness to the personhood of Christ.
  • The Qur’aan does not contain first person eyewitness reports, thus it cannot be trusted as to what it says about Christ.
  • The Qur’aan’s claim that Jesus had a scripture which has never been seen or proven to exist, proves that the Islamic Jesus cannot be trusted.

His methodology however, fails to live up to the scope and delimitations of the debate title, for which both speakers agreed upon. Let’s look at the first argument. The debate is not about the reliability of the Qur’aan, therefore the first argument of CL is outside the scope and delimitations of the debate, not to mention it contradicts his own beliefs as the New Testament itself is outside of the first century via empirical evidence (P52 dated to 125 CE), theoretically though it is dated to have existed in some form during the 70 – 80 CE, however there is no physical manuscript (for which CL argued for) which proves this.

His second argument, once again falls outside of the scope and delimitations of the title. The debate is not about the reliability of eyewitness reports. Br. Shadid during the debate also successfully demonstrated that the New Testament was written decades after Christ, by persons unknown to Christ, the names of the Gospels are mere attributions as handed down by tradition and not by fact.

Lastly, his final point, the existence of the Injeel also fails to be relevant to the title. The debate is not about whether the Injeel existed or not, or what the evidence for the Injeel is, therefore this argument of CL is highly irrelevant and clearly outside the scope and delimitations of the agreed debate title.

A Change of Scope and Delimitations

At some point during the debate, CL realised that if he were to argue against trusting the Islamic Jesus, he’d have to argue against what Christians already believe about Christ – since the Muslim beliefs about Christ are a subset of what Christians already do believe (this was demonstrated above). CL, realising this, decided to alter the scope of the debate, by asking Br. Shadid to assume he was an atheist, and therefore from this angle, challenged him to prove that the Islamic Jesus existed.

Once again, this only goes to demonstrate that CL is not a professional debater, nor is he educated. To begin with, if we are to discuss the topic that CL proposed, then we’d be discussing the origins of Christ, since atheists do not agree that Christ may have even existed at all. This is outside the scope of the debate, as the title does not indicate that either speaker was to prove Christ existed, but rather to show that Christians who already believed in a Jesus Christ, can also believe or trust in the Islamic Christ.

A Hypocrite of Unforeseen Proportions

During the debate CL Edwards found himself claiming several fallacies of Br. Shadid, to which he himself is victim of:

  1. Confirmation bias.
  2. Straw man argumentation.
  3. Cherry picking.

CL’s confirmation bias, was demonstrated when he declared that the Bible came from eyewitnesses during the first century. This is clearly a false notion and none of the NT texts have been transmitted as first person verbatim.

By pretending to be an atheist and asking Br. Shadid to prove that Christ existed at all and then condemning him when he chose not to – and to instead stick to the debate, this is in itself a straw man argument.

Lastly, Br. Shadid, practised the Christian methodology of typology, in which they read from their own text/ scripture (the New Testament) about the Christ and then they return to the Old Testament to demonstrate that he was mentioned there, or that the Old Testament offers proofs about him. Br. Shadid applied this same methodology to the New Testament, he declared the Christ of the Qur’aan to be trustworthy and then using typology, demonstrated the Qur’aanic Christ from the New Testament. One of the strangest arguments from CL is that he asked, how could Br. Shadid seek for evidences of an Islamic Christ in a book he himself believe to be corrupted, when CL himself and many Christians believe that Jews corrupted the Torah to hide the truth about the Christ’s prophecies within them. He lowly can he go?

Very Low

In a last ditch attempt to salvage a debate in which the methodology of Br. Shadid flew over his head, in a debate to which he could not commit himself to be relevant, and to a crowd who was anxious – waiting for him to make a single valid point, CL went to the lowest low. He began to insult and use derogatory terms. How are these questions relevant to the trustworthiness of the Islamic Christ?

  • Does your God have a penis?
  • Your Prophet had sex with a child.

These have nothing to do with the debate, but rather these were low blows in attacking the faith of Br. Shadid, in order to escape the reality that CL cannot stand up and defend his faith, so he rather cast insults to make himself feel better. In contrast, doesn’t CL believe in a deity who is a man, and therefore does have genitals? We also pray that CL has taken a biology class or two, but again, his level of intelligence is yet to be established, therefore it is no wonder he has labelled a young adult as a child, he does not know that at the age of sexual maturation, a child can no longer be labeled as such.

The Reality of the Debate

If CL had to argue that the Islamic Jesus was not trustworthy, seeing as the Islamic beliefs about Christ, are a subset of Christian beliefs about Christ, he’d be relegated to arguing against his own religion. Therefore, for a majority of the debate, he focused on things outside of the scope and delimitation of the topic – the existence of the Injeel, the Qur’aanic claims about Christ, the eyewitnesses, God’s genitals, explaining the meanings of some logical fallacies, etc. CL did not have the courage to discuss the topic directly and therefore found himself fiddling around with largely irrelevant arguments, pretending to be atheist and mocking his opponent.

I’ve always held that the debate with Bob Siegel was the worst of the series, but to me, CL took the cake for this title. Bob was uninformed, inexperienced, but we cannot offer the same excuses for CL. He’s debated before, this is his field of interest, he’s a seminary student, he claims to be an ex-Muslim, he has no excuse for his lackluster performance, his shameful behaviour and his lack of mental fortitude to cope with the methodology and logic of Br. Shadid.

CL Can’t Change

I experienced the same with CL during my debate with him. Like any other dud, he tried to explain that Christ was God from evidences in the Bible, the debate however was titled, “Is Jesus God, man or both”?, it never asked according to the Qur’aan or Bible! I caught him out, demonstrated that his evidences and opening were useless, I used the secular historical method, never once quoting the New Testament or the Qur’aan. I’d presented an argument, with a methodology that he hadn’t prepared for, so his counter arguments were nuanced, he couldn’t salvage the debate because he didn’t prepare for it in the way I did.

Similarly, he wrongly assumed the arguments Br. Shadid would offer, so when Br. Shadid offered something logical, and clear, something CL didn’t think of – he had to go all out to not lose a second debate in a row. CL lost one debate, perhaps we could excuse him as it was his first, but to lose a second in a row because he was unprepared to deal with his opponent’s arguments – demonstrates that he is not a debater, he cannot hold his own and when he’s put to defend his religion, he can’t.

The Challenge

I know CL cannot debate me, I know that he’d try to mock me or insult my religion or cast aspersions about my character. Regardless of these things, he cannot hold his own in a debate, so here I am, challenging CL to debate me, let’s debate the topic Bob failed to impress on, “Is the NT Reliable“? Can you defend your religion against a person who’s not only significantly younger than you, but who’s unfazed by your theatrics? The challenge has been issued, all we need now is to see if CL can stand up and hold his own…? I’ve issued an email challenge to him, this is the message verbatim:

Good day Mr. Edwards,

Please see the following article assessing your performance, and also see the challenge towards the end:

https://callingchristians.com/2013/09/13/criticism-of-cl-edwards-debate-methodology-versus-br-shadid-lewis/

Can you hold your own?

Let’s see what his next move is.

and Allaah knows best.

8 comments

  • The reality is that we cannot know about the islamic jesus unless we look at the islamic sources. It is entirely valid in my opinion to then question those sources to see if we can trust them and therefore trust the jesus described therein.

    If the very sources of information for the topic are off limits, then why bother debating? Seems very strange that you bring this up as a complaint

  • Wrong, you’re confusing two issues. The debate topic is not, “Can we trust the Islamic sources about Jesus”, the topic is can we trust the Islamic Jesus. Do not conflate the two issues, your incessant need of having to appeal to the Islamic sources shows that Christians really are not good at understanding how to analyze statements/ questions – go take a class in critical thinking or academic writing or communication studies, it’ll help a lot.

    You can, because you already believe in all of the attributes of the Islamic Jesus, as is stated in your own scripture(s). If you find it strange, or the logic escapes you, then it’s most likely that you’re either too young to grasp how logic works or you’re not experienced at understanding how to analyze topics.

  • Pingback: Criticism of CL Edwards’ Debate Methodology versus Br. Shadid Lewis | ChristianBookBarn.com

  • Pingback: CL Edwards Runs Away From Muslim Challenge | Calling Christians

  • Ijaz,

    I am aghast at the ignorance coming from someone (you) who purports to understand critical thinking. If something is in question, you can’t use that thing to verify its truth. You MUST use outside sources to do so. You are the one in need of an education.

  • Hi Tim,

    Was the topic of the debate meant to question the reliability of the New Testament, or was it to examine the trustworthiness of the Islamic Jesus?

    By your own criteria, you’ve proven me right, isn’t the Bible an outside source to the Qur’aan?

  • Hi Ijaz
    I was just wondering why my responses have not been moderated as yet, its. It that difficult a task is it?

  • Hi DC,

    It’s not a difficult task, but I’m busy with real world activities and will not be able to facilitate the website for a few weeks.

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