Tag Archives: CL Edwards

Sour Grapes: One Missionary’s Lesson in Futility

It’s been just over more than a year since I debated CL Edwards on the topic, “Jesus the Christ: Man, God or Both?“, however for my opponent it would seem as if the debate is fresh out of the oven – given his constant attempts at trying to right his wrongs during that debate. CL Edwards is at it again. The debate did not go well for him – in fact, if he’s willing to let me post what he said to me in private after the debate to me about his performance, it’d pretty much explain to the public why he has a fixation on constantly referring to our now more than a year old debate. The post I’m responding to was published last month – fortunately (?) it wasn’t brought to my attention until today, simply because no one I know, or no one in our community of inter-religious debate and dialogue frequents his website. So for this, I apologize for my late response. He says and I quote:

Also I think it is relevant since the person who helped Ahmad form his argument in the debate…

See, CL is still trying to find excuses for why my arguments caught him off guard, so his obvious theory is that someone helped me formulate my arguments for my debate with him. That however, is not the case. As the person who CL is attempting to appeal to, cc-2013-cledwardswould gladly agree that he did not help me formulate any of my arguments, he simply did a review after my debate with CL Edwards and assessed both of our performances. In fact, there is essentially no one who can lay credence to the claim that they have formulated any of my arguments for a debate for me. I do my own study, my own research and write my own arguments. I’ve actually made it a personal goal of mine to approach each debate without using another person’s methodology or approach. This is why, when persons view my debates from last year, especially between that of the one with Edwards and the other with Green, my scope of argumentation is vast in their disparity. I can’t speak for my opponent, yet from what I do recall of the debate with Edwards is that nothing he presented was new and he did not approach the topic as I did. In answering the question of whether Christ was man, God or both, he simply referred to New Testament verses to propagate his argument.

I chose a completely different route. My methodology involved using the socio-historical method while referencing contemporary cultural and exegetical approaches to the literature and events of that time period. Clearly one route is overdone, while the other is a great bit more advanced and objective, something my opponent did not know how to react to. So yes, I do understand why Edwards is so eager to imagine that someone decades younger than him, can approach a debate with a more academic foundation, as opposed to merely parroting arguments which are hundreds of years old. What is touching however, is his prayer for me:

we pray for Ijaz to be spiritually reborn and come to the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ like millions of other Muslims have.

It is my wish to express to Edwards a sincere thank you for his prayer. I’d like to inform him though, that because I have come to the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ, it is for that precise reason that I and those millions of other Muslims – knowingly and openly reject his Graeco-Roman Syncretic Jewish faith. He went on to pose a question to me:

Note about this debate: to this day Ijaz has never given an answer to the question I asked him in the Q&A part towards the end. That question was does he know of any earlier source for the life, and teachings of Jesus and his disciples from the first century that predates the NT Bible?

At this point, I’m gladly willing to entertain his question and respond to it. His question presumes that the New Testament Gospels (can’t be Pastorials or Epistles since they don’t recall the life of Christ) are first century documents. This however is wrong, the New Testament Gospels are empirically speaking, wholly second century. The oldest extant MS is that of P52 which is from 125 CE and is not radio-carbon dated, it is paleologically dated and it is because of this very reason that it can date anywhere from 125 CE to the latter period of the second century. Of course, I do not expect a first year seminary pupil to know the ins and outs of textual critic debates on paleological and philological dating disputes. It is therefore without a doubt, that I can safely respond to his question by saying that there are no currently known extant sources about Jesus’ life and teachings within the first century. He goes on to state:

I asked that because the bases of my argument was the New Testament accounts of Jesus are the earliest most attested sources on his life and doctrine from his own followers.

I do believe he meant “basis” and not bases, it should also go without saying that the basis of his argument is a presumption, an assumption. In order for his argument to be foundationally sound, he needs to first prove that these assumptions are valid. We know for a fact that the Gospel accounts are not the earliest sources on his life – the informal oral Jesus tradition is. We also know that they are not from his own followers, but from later authors. Again, his argument reads as if he’s opened up an Evangelical booklet positing century old assumptions and presenting them to be indisputable facts – the evidence completely disagrees. He continues:

Why would be discard it for the Qurans account of Jesus that came 600 plus years after the fact? If you take Ijaz’s argument in this debate and apply it to the Quran and hadith we wouldn’t accept what the Quran says about Jesus.

Given that the only complete extant MSS of the Gospels are during the 4th and 5th centuries, through the 4 great Uncial codices, if time is a factor, then the argument of time also gives us a reason to reject the testimony of the extant vorlage Gospel texts. I can even be a bit menacing and state that the New Testament of today was published only recently, an eclectic account based on conjectural emendation by Biblical societies – see the NA 28 and UBS 4, both from the 21st century and the likes of which are non-existent in any MS tradition from the time of the Qur’aan or before it. Given what I’ve stated , my argument doesn’t affect the accounts about Christ in the Muslim scripture and hadeeth collections.

In closing, it’s been one year later and despite Edwards attending a seminary – he’s still unable to discuss the topic of Jesus’ historicity in the Gospels in an educated and academic manner. Sure, his Evangelical reasoning may impress the feeble minded individuals he surrounds himself with, but here in the real world – his inability to grow out of that intellectually stunting mold is quite distasteful and most certainly worrying.

and God knows best.

 

What is CL Edwards doing?

CL Edwards is one odd Christian polemicist. He debated me in January of 2013 and thereafter seemed to fall into obscurity. His website lacked updates and he didn’t debate anyone else for a significant period of time. In fact, he was allegedly attending a seminary during this time. Eventually he popped back on to the radar again when he debated MDI’s Br. Shadid Lewis, a debate which left many wondering why would any organization give CL Edwards a stage – clearly whatever seminary training he was receiving was absent and not demonstrated during his debate.

cc-2013-cledwards

Shortly thereafter, I offered up a few challenges, Bob Siegel and Pastor Samuel Green took up those challenges but CL Edwards, possibly embarrassed after his debate with Br. Shadid, never even cared to respond. Eventually he changed his website’s theme, added an article every once in a while, nothing new, nothing scholarly, just copy pasted arguments from AI’s website, sometimes he’d post a video or two. Recently WordPress notified me that CallingChristians had received 1 or 2 views from CL’s website, I checked it out and I began to laugh.

It seems as if CL decided he was brave enough to ‘respond’ to a few articles of mines. As it turns out, he just copy pasted a few Facebook notes of some kid in India who tried to respond to my articles. This left me bewildered, a grown man who is attending a seminary and who didn’t even care to respond to my debate challenge  – whereas the likes of Pastor Green did, decided to copy paste a nobody’s Facebook notes to respond to me on his website. I’m not sure what’s going on, but CL, if you are reading this, maybe it’s time you step up and actually do your own work for a change? Actually try to face me? Or not, it doesn’t matter, you’re fading into obscurity again and no one really cares about your website, your articles or your ‘seminary training’.

If anyone wants to see just how much fun I had with this guy back in the day, do check out this list of rebuttals. Poor chap, I did consider removing the link to these rebuttals, as they essentially were responding to a nobody, but they were just so much fun to write, I felt it difficult to remove them.

Funny guy.

Pastor Samuel Concedes He Didn’t Respond to Me Well During Our Debate

I really didn’t expect this to be made public so quickly by Pastor Samuel, but here’s his comments on the debate amongst his Christian fans and supporters over at the Answering Muslims website:

Blogger  Answering Muslims - Post a Comment (2)

Much of what Pastor Samuel has conceded to is the truth. He didn’t answer close to 1/3 of the historical, theological of philosophical issues I presented with the incarnation theology well. I’m happy he made these statements, as it demonstrates quite a factual reality about our debate. As for his points, my responses are:

  1. Whether fast or slow, the quotes were put there and you had well over 10 minutes and then 5 minutes during the rebuttals period to see those quotes and use them against me.
  2. Not sure how you can call them gross exaggerations if according to the first point you didn’t see the quotes and you didn’t know anything about them (hence why you needed to atleast know something about them to answer them correctly) and thus couldn’t answer them correctly.

These are just shoddy excuses to cover the fact that as the Pastor himself admits, and praise be to God he’s stated this, he didn’t respond to even 1/3 of my points during the debate, which led to a frustrating period for him during the cross fire period.

Addressing Two Hater Comments

One hater boasted that my only argument was the quote from Tertullian which says the belief in Christ’s incarnation was absurd and silly. If this Christian is willing to be honest, he’d have to then explain how in his 15 line quasi review he proudly declared I quoted many liberal scholars, James Dunn, James White and Athanasius. Your own words against me, are self contradictory.

This same hater boasted that I misused the fallacy of confirmation bias, to the contrary, as many viewers of the debate have indicated within the Paltalk room itself, my opening statement and argument was spot on, Samuel did not present any historical, philosophical or rational evidences for his position, he merely said this is what my God in the scripture I believe in said, therefore the incarnation is true. I call upon any Christian to demonstrate that Pastor Samuel did not do this.

One other hater, Anthony Rogers (who is known for threatening to rape me, and also known for getting exposed as a copy paster who claimed to research Arabic sources but instead literally stole the works of a Muslim brother who later called him out on it), claimed I was disrespectful and nasty throughout the debate. I do believe their was a moderator present and Pastor Samuel did not once complain to her, to make matters worse, no Christian during the Question and Answer period claimed the same, nor did any of them post comments to that effect. You seem to have taken issue with my quote of Tertullian, yet quoting your founding fathers of your faith doesn’t make me nasty, it makes them nasty. I understand your misdirected anger though, you obviously can’t attack a Church Father, so I guess I’ll take the hate for him. I also recognize that since our debate, you’ve pretty much been unable to stop me from walking over your ego by becoming more popular in the apologetics circles, I mean you’ve been asking people to ignore me, but since then I’ve – been featured by Dr. James White on his Dividing Line program, Dr. James White’s made videos about me, Sam Shamoun’s found himself arguing with me, your own co-workers at Answering Islam and Answering Muslims (Cl Edwards and Samuel Green) have debated me, you were embarrassed by the Bob Siegel saga which I made worse by publicising it and then to your dismay the guy actually put me on his show and gave me an audience in the week gone. Not only that, our website has exploded in views, doubling really and the Muslim Debate Initiative has made me an official speaker.

So I realised you really didn’t like my quoting of Tertullian, so I did you a little favour and reposted it to my Facebook page of 600, 000 + fans, just to piss you off:

The Message - Many Christians live in denial and cannot face the...

So now because of your silly attack on me, 28, 900+ 42, 400+ 51, 000+ Muslims have been exposed to the statements by Tertullian and I promise, the more stupid things you say, I’m merely going to make more people see how absurd the incarnation is.

Again, I’d like to thank the goodly Pastor for his honest concession and for Anthony who gave me the impetus to share Tertullian’s quote to over more than 28, 900+ 42, 400+ 51, 000+ individuals. More to come.

wa Allaahu ‘alam.

CL Edwards Runs Away From Muslim Challenge

CL Edwards who prides himself on being a Christian who ‘confronts Islam‘, has stuck his tale (yes, I meant tale and not tail, it’s a pun) between his legs and whimpered (hopefully the pun makes sense now) away from a challenge earlier issued by me, in calling him to pick up the pieces from his colleague’s (Bob Siegel) cc-2013-cledwardsdisastrous debate on the reliability of the Bible. It’s been almost a week and despite personally e-mailing him the challenge, he’s failed to live up to his hype of being a defender of his faith and instead has chosen to be a monk and remain in silence as the ashes from Bob Siegel’s firestorm continue to build.

I don’t blame CL, why would he want to debate me after I pulled the rug from underneath him in his first professional debate, and then embarrassed him with subsequent articles refuting his petulant arguments?  Perhaps he needs to reconsider his field of choice, as he’s suffered two debate losses in a row, can’t stand up to a challenge to defend the book he believes in, all the while failing to support his colleagues in their apologetic disasters, he does have my sympathies.

CL, why won’t you defend the reliability of your New Testament? We’d all love to know.

Sincerely, all the Muslims you pretend to confront.

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.

CL Edwards Insults and Attacks the Wrong Muslim

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

CL Edwards is known for his outrageous comments for the purpose of attention getting. Earlier this week he seems to have gotten a bit of ‘Ijaz – fever’ and has been making some weird and unusual posts about me, especially in places where I am most certainly not involved in the least. One such example is a post by Br. Qmark concerning Christianity and Tawhid al Asma wa Sifat. CL found issue with this post and decided to ‘refute’ it, yet for some reason the post is littered with references to me, Br. Ijaz, when in fact I am not the author of the article. This leads me to question CL’s motives, reasoning and literacy, on the same note it does allow me to believe that he created that post with the intention to berate and attack me. Here’s the post in question. Here’s Br. Qmark’s post. With the posts having been provided, let’s now see how many times CL’s obsessive rant mentions me by name and reference:

  1. Ijaz Ahmad(A Muslim youth who holds no ijazah/endorsement/ authorization/ordination in any Islamic science, nor has he had any formal education in Christian studies of any sort)
  2. There are more relevant verses he could have quoted.
  3. CC is known to be very sloppy when it comes to making implications from quotes.
  4. CC is also known for having no care for quoting the Bible…
  5. CC says, “No wonder to prove….
  6. He go’s on to cite a portion of a article…
  7. CC attempts to summarize…
  8. CC doesn’t believe Keith meant to say….
  9. CC believes Keith really meant to say….
  10. CC instead of addressing….
  11. CC then says the following….
  12. Ijaz then says “On the same reasoning….
  13. CC’s admin Ijaz does such things constantly….
  14. Ijaz then lists many things….
  15. ….doesn’t teach the humanization of God in the manner Ijaz accuses….
  16. CC further exposes his lack of knowledge….
  17. Again CC ignores the actual topic of the passage….
  18. ….nor what the verse he quoted is addressing….
  19. He then go’s on to quote….
  20. Ijaz then puts on his Dan Brown hat….
  21. Then laughably Ijaz proceeds to….
  22. Ijaz then says….
  23. He then says….
  24. Ijaz says “Trinitarians would easily….
  25. The real issue clearly is Ijaz’s psychological hang ups about the incarnation.

Come on CL, try to be a respectful adult, before you attack someone, I urge you to read properly. In respect to CL’s rant, Br. Qmark does have a reply which would be posted shortly.

wa Allaahu ‘Alam.

Review: Jesus the Christ, Man, God or Both? – Ijaz Ahmad vs CL Edwards

Note: This is a review done by Br. Paul Bilal Williams via his website, ‘Blogging Theology‘. Br. Paul is a well established orator and debater from the United Kingdom and has studied Christianity and Islam for several years.

Jesus the Christ, Man, God or Both? – Ijaz Ahmad vs CL Edwards

A Review of the Debate by Paul Williams 

Ahmad’s opening statement threw down the gauntlet:

‘If we are to be fair and objective in our study of who the Messiah was, then we can’t work backwards, that is to start with the bias we already have and then look at the previous scriptures to justify our claims and beliefs. This is a form of revisionism.‘

He has in mind here a favourite methodology adopted by Christians: that of reading into Jewish texts their own later beliefs about Jesus. Scholars call this practice ‘eisegesis’.

Though Ahmad did not mention well known Christian apologist Dr Craig in his opening presentation, he could have called him as a witness for his defense as Dr. William Lane Craig would agree with him! Though Craig’s comments focus on Jesus’ alleged death and resurrection, they perfectly demonstrate how Christians read back into the Jewish Bible beliefs that no Jew ever held about their Messiah.

Craig writes:

‘Early Christians were convinced that Jesus’ resurrection, like his crucifixion, was, in the words of the old tradition quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. 3-5, “in accordance with the Scriptures.” In Luke’s story of Jesus’ appearance on the road to Emmaus, the risen Jesus chastises the two travelers: ” ‘Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24. 26-27).

The difficulty is that when we ask, “What Scriptures are they thinking of?”, we come up with sparse results. Hosea 6.2 ‘ “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” – has been suggested because it mentions the “third day” motif found in the old formula cited by Paul.

But Hosea 6.2 is never explicitly cited by any New Testament author, much less applied to Jesus’ resurrection. In the apostolic sermons in the Acts of the Apostles, we find Psalm 16.10 interpreted in terms of Jesus’ resurrection: “For thou dost not give me up to Sheol, or let thy godly one see the Pit.” But if we look at the principal Old Testament passage cited in the Gospels with respect to Jesus’ resurrection, we find the story of Jonah and the whale. “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12.40).

Now the problem for the theory in question is that nobody, especially a first century Jew, reading the story of Jonah and the whale would think that this has anything whatsoever to do with Jesus’ burial and resurrection! Similarly for Psalm 16.10; this has to do with David’s confidence that God will not allow him to see defeat and death. And as for Hosea 6.2, this has nothing to do with resurrection of the dead but with the restoration of the national fortunes of Israel.

The point is that no one who did not already have a belief in Jesus’ resurrection would find in these Scriptures any impetus to think that Jesus had been raised from the dead. To this we may add the fact that in Jewish belief the resurrection of the dead was always an event at the end of the world involving all the people, an event which obviously had not yet taken place.

Once the disciples came to believe in Jesus’ resurrection, then they could go to the Scriptures looking for verses to validate their belief and experience, and passages like Jonah and the whale and Psalm 16.10 could be re-interpreted in light of Jesus’ resurrection. But to think that the belief in Jesus’ resurrection was derived from the Old Testament is to put the cart before the horse; it gets things exactly backwards.’

***

What a stunning admission by Craig! At a stroke all those much vaunted “prophesies” in the OT about Jesus the Messiah turn out to be entirely absent from the Jewish Bible and can only be ‘discovered’ there if you artificially graft Christian beliefs onto the texts, in disregard of the original context and original meaning of the passages. But this is the standard ‘orthodox’ way Christians use the Bible to justify their beliefs.

Ahmad convincingly demonstrates that the Jewish Messiah was never considered to be divine or God at any time but was always expected to be only a man like other mortals.

Therefore the Christian belief in a Divine Messiah is unJewish and alien to the Torah. The final Prophet to mankind Muhammad (pbuh) was sent to correct these blasphemous excesses by Christians. Today 1.6 billion of his followers have learnt this lesson well.

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A few comments on the opening statement by CL Edwards

Edwards boldly states:

After seriously studying the first century evidences concerning Christ, while being logically consistent, I had to change my position, and I now hold to the hypostatic union i.e the belief  Jesus had two natures. There is no historical proof anyone during this time held Jesus to be just a man.

He might need change his position once more as scholars have long realized that the earliest Christians did not believe Jesus was divine. Read Peter’s sermons in Acts and ask yourself did he consider Jesus to be God (see Acts 2:22 & 2:36 for example)? Read Mark’s gospel: Jesus prays to God; is ignorant about various matters; denies he is ”good”;  feels abandoned by God on the cross. Does such a man seem like God in the flesh to you?

Much of Edwards presentation is simply a list of proof texts culled from the Bible. He does not show any critical awareness of how Christology developed in the New Testament, and just how radically different Mark’s gospel is from John’s gospel in its portrayal of Jesus.

As every undergraduate in Bible studies knows, it is clear that there has been a development in the way Jesus is presented in the pages of the New Testament. Look at the earliest gospel to be written, that of Mark.

This shows us a very human figure. Here are 7 examples:

1) Jesus is a man who prays to God (1:35)

2) Jesus is unable to work miracles in his own town (6:5) – but see Matthew’s redaction of Mark in 13:57-58.

3) Jesus confesses his ignorance about the date of the End of the world (13:32).

4) Jesus did not know the identity of a woman who touched him and had to ask his   disciples for help (Mark 5:30) – but see Matthew’s redaction in 9:20-21.

5) Jesus was so irritated by the absence of figs he cursed a fig tree even though it was not the season for figs (Mark 11:14) – but see Matthew’s redaction in 21:18-22.

6) Jesus even denies that he is perfectly good (Mark 10) – but see Matthew’s redaction of Mark in 19:17.

7) Mark portrays Jesus despairing of God’s help at the crucifixion as he cries: ‘My God my God why have you abandoned me?’ (15:34) – Luke and John both omit this.

So it seems clear that in the earliest gospel Jesus does not exhibit any of the attributes of God that Jews, Christians and Muslims commonly accept: unlike God, Jesus is not all knowing; he is not omnipotent; he is not perfectly good; he is not eternal; he is notimmortal; he is not unchanging. Therefore it seems obvious that he cannot be God.

If we read the last of the four gospels to be written, the gospel of John, we move into a different world. Here Jesus seems to move effortlessly through his ministry, he is clearly portrayed as a divine figure, indeed as “God” himself.

Instead of Jesus saying in Mark’s gospel “Why do you call me good – no-one is good but God alone”, John has Jesus say: ‘Before Abraham was I am’.

In the very first chapter of the gospel according to John, the Prophet John the Baptist proclaims Jesus to be ‘The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ when he first meets him.  But in the earlier synoptic gospels, John the Baptist not only does not say this but half way through Jesus’ ministry sends messengers to Jesus asking “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (Matthew 11:2)

So even this brief survey has shown the enormous evolution of the story of Jesus which occurred in less than two generations after Jesus was taken up by God.

Unlike in the earlier gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, in John Jesus speaks with a clear awareness of his divine existence with God from before his time on earth (5.19ff and 8.12ff make this clear). But the question cannot be ducked: whether the Jesus of the fourth gospel was intended to be historical, whether Jesus of Nazareth actually spoke in the terms used by John. Were the claims about Jesus in John’s gospel already in place from the beginning of Christianity? It seems hardly likely.

Few scholars today would regard John as a source for information regarding Jesus’ life and ministry in any degree comparable to the Synoptics gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is worth noting briefly the reasons why scholars think this:

One is the very different picture of Jesus’ ministry, both in the order and the significance of events and the location of Jesus’ ministry. For example, the cleansing of the temple happens at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in John but occurs at the end of Jesus’ ministry in the synoptic gospels. A clear contradiction.

Another is the striking difference in Jesus’ style of speaking – much more discursive and theological in John, in contrast to the aphoristic and parabolic style of the Synoptic gospels. Jesus’ way of speaking is the same, whether Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, or to the woman at the well, or to his disciples, and very similar to the style of John the Baptist, and indeed very similar to the 1st Letter of John. The conclusion is unavoidable that the style is that of the author of the gospel of John rather than that of Jesus himself.  

Probably most important of all, in the synoptic gospels Jesus’ main message is the Kingdom of God and he rarely speaks of himself, whereas in John the Kingdom of God hardly features and the discourses are largely about Jesus’ own self-consciousness andself proclamation. To put it simply, in the earlier gospels Jesus does not preach about himself but God and his kingdom. In John, Jesus speaks about himself and his Father. Had the striking ‘I am’ claims of John been remembered as spoken by Jesus, how could any gospel writer have ignored them so completely as the Synoptics gospels do?

In conclusionEdwards could benefit from an introductory course in New Testament studies to bring him up to speed with what his own scholars are teaching!

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