Tag Archives: death

Debate Review: “Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?” – Dr. Shabir Ally & Mr. John Tors

About a week ago I attended a debate between Dr. Shabir Ally and Mr. John Tors on the topic of, “Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?” (click the link to see the debate).

To begin with, I need to say that the church which hosted the event did an amazing job. The congregation at the North York Chinese Baptist Church were helpful, accommodating and very pleasant. The event was well-managed and I think all attendees would agree with me on this.

The topic itself is a little unusual (which is a good thing) as to debate if Jesus rose from the dead, one has to first grant the argument that he did die. In other words, we can’t debate this specific topic if we say he never died. This point seems to have been missed by both Muslim and Christian debate enthusiasts, it should also be noted that granting an argument for the sake of the argument, is not the same as accepting that argument. One may well wonder why a Muslim debater would put themselves in such a contentious position in the first place. The answer for this question was provided in the debate itself in which the question was asked, “what does it mean for Jesus to have died?” Christians answer this question differently and so the “type” of “death” was a focus of this debate. An easier way to have framed the debate would have been to make a minor change to the title to emphasise that the topic was about death:

Did Jesus Rise From “The Dead”?

Before the debate I read through most of the relevant articles on Mr. Tors’ website and while at the debate, I found myself a bit confused after his opening statement. Practically his entire opening statement is what I had read the night before and it can be found on his website in the form of two articles:

  • THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER AND THE EVANGELICAL BETRAYAL OF THE BIBLE: Exposing the Major Weapons Levied Against the Trustworthiness of the Bible
  • THE RESURRECTION ACCOUNTS: “Incompatible Contradictions” or Coherent History?

In fact, during the debate I was sharing these articles with both Christians and Muslims, most of whom expressed surprise at what seemed to be general confusion as to why Mr. Tors would prepare in such a way for a debate. That is to say that he largely used articles from 2015 and 2018 with no new research being presented or accounted for. The attendees had no need for Mr. Tors’ opening statement, just granting us 10 minutes to do some quick reading would’ve sufficed. Mr. Tors began the debate with two important points:

  1. We shouldn’t base our views on assumptions,
  2. We shouldn’t base our views on presuppositions.

Rather, he argued, we should look at the evidence itself first and if needed, then at works of scholarship. The problem he quickly found himself in was then ironic, as he seemingly argued that he had evidence that Jesus died and was resurrected. This evidence turned out to be Mr. Tors just quoting the Bible. It was then I realised that had he believed in what he said at the start of the debate then he wouldn’t have assumed that the Bible was true or presupposed it as being factual. Indeed, it’s a tall order to hold him to his own words, but if someone lays out a specific methodology at the start of a debate then I largely hope that they would at the very least be superficially consistent but even this was not afforded to us (the audience).

This point did not seem to strike Mr. Tors at all and it left me completely bewildered at what he had hoped to achieve. Muslims don’t accept the Bible as a valid source for theology, and Christians don’t accept the Qur’an as a valid source for their theology, so what is achieved in ministering to Muslims in using a text we don’t accept? Dr. Ally at least attempted to reference both the Bible and the Qur’an throughout the debate. Mr. Tors or someone who works for his ministry later argued in the comments section (of the re-upload) of the debate video on YouTube that while the New Testament is a historical work, the Qur’an was not (in regards to Jesus) and so he did not consider any appeals to it as sufficient for the topic. This is despite the fact that he himself holds to a form of the New Testament text which is not wholly extant in any manuscript before the mid-medieval period (roughly from the 10th to 15th century CE). He holds to the Byzantine Priority position, a minority view in the world of Christendom.

Edit: 22.01.2020, Mr. Tors mentioned to me that he does not hold to the Byzantine Priority position but rather a Majority Text position. The difference is negligible but I thought it best to use the phrase he uses to describe his beliefs.

Oddly enough, Mr. Tors later argued that it didn’t matter what date the earliest extant (still surviving) manuscripts of the crucifixion and resurrection accounts came from. At that point in the debate I lost any hope in Mr. Tors advancing any form of a consistent argument. Either it is the dates do matter or they don’t, either it is the gospel narratives do have contradictions because the gospel authors focused on different elements of the story by design or there are no contradictions and they give the exact same narratives, either it is he is arguing for the New Testament to be a theologically preserved version of the best witness testimony or he is willing to apply historical standards to the gospels. It just seemed like he was willing to flip-flop on his positions without care for consistency, reasonableness or intellectual humility.

As a Muslim who is invested in these kinds of debates, I look forward to them with a great deal of anticipation. Some times that anticipation pays off in the form of the robust debates between Dr. Shabir Ally and Dr. James White and some times they clearly don’t, as in this case. Mr. Tors’ primary (and seemingly only) argument for this debate therefore can be summarised as, “the Bible teaches that Jesus died and was resurrected, and this is true because the Bible teaches it”. While that may strike a chord with Christians, it doesn’t with the Muslims and it’s such an obvious point that I wonder if Mr. Tors cared for Muslims to even attend this debate in the first place. If one were to watch his opening statement, you would find him preaching directly to the Christians in the audience, word after word of caution about not allowing scholars and liberals to change their beliefs, to change how Christians should understand the Bible. Yet, I struggled to find an instance where he addresses the crowd as if there were Muslims in it, people who plainly do not accept the Bible as scripture. After all, he gave no reasons as to why Muslims should begin believing in the Bible, rather his focus seemed to be on keeping Christians Christian.

That is where a marked difference can be seen between Dr. Ally and Mr. Tors. Dr. Ally spent a few minutes at the start of his opening statement engaging with the crowd directly, he explained why he was there, what he hoped to achieve, what Muslims, Christians and those from other faiths can gain by being at the debate event. His words acknowledged the presence of other faiths in the audience, it provided a reason for us to pay more attention to what he said. Another point of note was the difference in composure and demeanour. While Dr. Ally was generally congenial and jovial, Mr. Tors at times appeared dismayed, upset or aggravated. This led to the second half of the debate being more contentious (which is not in itself a negative thing), giving rise to many instances of riposte between the speakers.

I’ve sat through classes by Dr. Licona and Dr. Habermas, evangelical scholars who are well renowned for their arguments regarding the positive evidence for the crucifixion and the resurrection. I’m writing a book myself on the topic of the resurrection, so I attended this debate to gain some knowledge that I could have hoped to engage with on multiple levels, but I left the debate event empty handed, there simply was not much presented on the Christian side of the topic that would allow me to analyze or engage with Mr. Tors’ arguments. In the end I had hoped for more substance but it was nonetheless a good event otherwise. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Tors in person, he was kind, shook my hands and engaged in brief but meaningful conversation, and for that I sincerely thank him.

and Allah knows best.

Wasted Blood

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

Question # 1:

“Jesus died for your sins, why do you still try to do works to gain heaven when he has made the ultimate sacrifice for you?”

Answer:

This is often a question that missionaries and lay Christian alike post to the Muslim population. It’s quite the offer to resist. God has made a sacrifice for your eternal forgiveness, why would someone possibly forsake eternal forgiveness for eternal perdition? The Christian narrative would usually base the fault upon either Satan or the lack of having the Holy Spirit guide us.

However, this is not the case, we Muslims reject the sacrifice, or rather alleged sacrifice based upon a number of glaring theological loopholes that essentially render this “ultimate sacrifice” to be nothing more than a figment of romanticised pre-Monotheistic passion narratives. I’ll frame the answer to this question within two primary arguments:

(1) Historical Blunders.
(2) Theological Circular Reasoning.

Historical Blunders:

Early Christianity had to deal with the problem of Jesus being the ultimate sacrifice to justify the forgiveness of all their sins. What exactly does the object of sacrifice need to be to fulfill or warrant such a price as forgiveness? The answer is perfect. Jesus has to be perfect, that is without error, without flaw, without sin. However as John 1:1 and John 1:14 would indicate to us, Jesus was of the flesh and the flesh, whenever brought into this world, was sinful, that is, all born of women folk have inherited the sin of Adam. Some cite Genesis 3:16 and Psalms 51:5 as evidence for that.

In any case, the problem supposes itself. How can Jesus be the ultimate sacrifice if he has a sin on his record? That being the original [inherited] sin. The solution was to remove that sin from upon Jesus, by placing the onus on his mother, Mary. This is where the topic of the Immaculate Conception comes up. The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary and not Jesus. Essentially, Mary was specially chosen by God to deliver God on earth, and in doing so, God made her sinless. The problem here though, is that no Biblical evidence supports or promotes this belief. There is none. The only sources for this belief comes from the writings of men, who were attributing divinity to Mary, in almost the same light the Collyridians [Mary worshippers] were doing:

The salutation of the angel Gabriel — chaire kecharitomene, Hail, full of grace (Luke 1:28) indicates a unique abundance of grace, a supernatural, godlike state of soul, which finds its explanation only in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. But the term kecharitomene (full of grace) serves only as an illustration, not as a proof of the dogma.

she was created in a condition more sublime and glorious than all other natures.

To St. Ephraem she was as innocent as Eve before her fall, a virgin most estranged from every stain of sin, more holy than the Seraphim, the sealed fountain of the Holy Ghost, the pure seed of God, ever in body and in mind intact and immaculate.[1]

These quotes speak for themselves. Really, these men were ascribing beliefs about Mary to justify their beliefs of God having to die for their errors. So, to summarize this point:

Jesus died for our sins.
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Because he was the perfect sacrifice.
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Perfect because his mother delivered him without the original sin.
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She didn’t deliver him with the original sin because God made her soul god-like in purity.
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He made her so, according to the writings not in scripture, but in those of men wondering why or how Jesus was born sinless.

Since their is no scriptural basis for the Immaculate Conception and the only source of such beliefs are from men ascribing god-like attributes to her, I am left to reject her god-like state, as she is not god-like in anyway, shape or form just as the earliest Christians condemned and rejected that same belief as held by the Collyridians.

As a side note, what makes this original sin even worse is the fact that babies get to burn in hell for simply, being born:

Babies Burn in Hell in Christianity

Theological Circular Thinking:

What is more frustrating is the apparent lack of reasoning that befalls this theological concept of someone having died, for all of my sins. To begin with, all humans are sinners and this is supported by the Biblical text Job 15:14. With that in mind, let us say I am a sinner. Jesus, according to Christian belief has suffered, been tortured, abused and died for me and my inequities. However Jesus’ death is redundant. This romanticized, sacrifice is useless in relation to my existence, to be extant, Jesus died for nothing.

Now, why would I say something so harsh? Well, I’d like you or rather, I’d like to invite you to reality. I don’t believe in the Christian concept of God, I don’t believe that God killed himself to rescue me from a punishment he created for me. So seeing as I don’t accept this sacrifice, his dying for me, is useless since I pretty much go to hell, even though he has already paid for my sins, see Mark 9:43 – 49.

One must understand, that since I am a disbeliever in his death (and as understood, the religion of Christianity) and you are sure he died for me, then quite clearly in your theological framework, he paid for sins and I am still going to be punished for them. So his death didn’t save me, his death did not benefit me in the least. So what exactly is my point?

My point is, if Jesus paid for my sins, why I am still going to be punished for them?

If the Christian concept of God, allows Jesus to be all knowing, then wouldn’t he have known I would not believe in Christianity and thus not died for me? Wasted blood, no?

wa Allaahu Alam.

[1] – https://1islam.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/the-quraans-claim-against-christianity-true/

Refutation: Pulling the cloak off the self appointed Da’ee [Part 1]

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

He’s at it again, Mr. Edwards is back at it. After several back and forth arguments over Facebook, Website comments and Article posts, his mind has finally cracked. There is no other logical explanation, save that he may be drunk off of communion wine, but I always try to find the best in my opponents, so I shall regard his latest post as a blunder for which he will develop a grand learning experience from. I do sympathize with his meager post, sure it lacks consistency and really is just an attack on me, but that’s expected when you’re old and slow and can’t keep up with a new, significantly younger generation of enthusiastic Muslims. I do not hold him responsible for his dishonesty or for his ironed fisted tactics, after all he is a Christian, but then that would mean doing as he does and the truth is, as a Muslim it is irresponsible for me to generalize groups of people. Therefore I accept that Mr. Edwards does not represent a significant part of the Christian community, nor of the rest of the human population and that honestly makes me feel better. The world suddenly looks just a tad bit brighter. So, what’s our favourite comedian (sorry, I meant “educated theologian”) up to today?

Well he’s decided to be hypocritical, from his post, he calls me out demanding to know why his comments on my website (this one) are now being censored:

Hijaz of callingchristians has made a big fuss over me implementing moderation on comments …oh the hypocrisy!!! You see in the screen shot below he is holding one of my comments up for moderation, yet posts a comment to a earlier comment of mines!!

At this point, I’m not sure if he’s realised what he’s written but he simply has gotten himself in a bit of a fancy. Yes, I did make a post about him moderating my comments on his “blog”, which you can read here. As one can see,  I was honest and kind enough to update the post when he did let a few of my comments through:

However, since he continued to moderate my comments on his website, I made it clear to him that in reciprocation I would do the same to him, in fact I informed him of this on both my website and his “blog”, that comment, still isn’t available for viewing on his blog, but it is on mines:

He was clearly told, if he continued to cry wolf, his comments would be removed. Subsequently, when he refused to allow our comments to be displayed on his website, we decided to moderate his. You see, he’s like a child, he doesn’t like when he’s being given a taste of his own medicine. He’s fine with prohibiting us from commenting on his “blog”, but he isn’t man enough to have his own comments moderated on our website. If he does have a problem with us following his lead, then please take it up with the Bible:

Do to others as you would have them do to you. – Bible : Luke (6) : 31.

It’s simple, if you can’t hold yourself to your own standards (however lowly they may be), don’t expect us to satiate your petulant needs, we aren’t your parents, don’t expect us to forgo your own inequities, for we’ll with a surety wage them against you. Also, we do ask, if anyone can help Mr. Edwards (which you can see I’ve always addressed him as), he seems to have a disability, he is currently unable to write my name correctly. In fact I’m beginning to think this explains quite clearly why he’s such an angry little man, perhaps his literacy issue has driven him to always attack others. We can offer him help, but in the meantime we do request that he does learn to spell my name correctly, there’s no “H” in Ijaz.

wa Allaahu Alam.
[and God knows best.]