Tag Archives: Debates

Debate Review: Are the New Testament Gospels Based on Eyewitness Testimony?

On Saturday 20th October, Attorney Yusuf Ismail debated a UK-based Biologist, Jonathan McLatchie on the topic of, “Are the New Testament Gospels Based on Eyewitness Testimony?”. Presented here is an amended review of the initial review posted on our Facebook page.

Roughly one year ago, the same Christian, UK-based Biologist was called out by this website for plagiarizing during another debate with Attorney Yusuf Ismail. We initially published a video detailing one instance of plagiarism:

Consequently, the Christian speaker issued a statement indicating that this was a one-off occurrence that did not happen throughout the rest of that debate or any debate previously. Contrary to this, we then published another video detailing multiple instances of plagiarism:

What followed was a tale of abject dishonesty and personal hostility on the part of the Christian speaker who became incensed due to our expose, we ignored this behaviour. He eventually conceded that he had in fact, had his opening statement (presentation) for that debate, written by another Christian speaker. This was not surprising given the evidence we had published. This year we had hoped that he learned his lesson and would be professional at this event. This was not the case (information forthcoming), but for a large part, his opening statement this year was largely written by him and consisted of a lecture he had been delivering in various Churches on “undesigned coincidences” in the Gospel narratives.

Jonathan McLatchie’s main and only argument was that the Gospels corroborate each other in some minor details therefore they must be based on eyewitness testimony. This approach is problematic because the manuscript record actually shows that the gospel authors and editors had a tendency to harmonize details between the gospels to make their stories more coherent:

“Colwell and Royse both recognize a tendency to harmonize readings with remote parallels in other Gospels (Colwell, 112-114; Royse, 536-544).”

This is as stated by the conservative New Testament British textual critic, Timothy Mitchell citing:

  • Royse, James R., “Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri.” NTTSD 36. Leiden: Brill, 2008.
  • Colwell, Ernest C., “Method in Evaluating Scribal Habits: A Study of P45, P66, P75,” pages 106-124 in “Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament.” NTTS 9. Leiden: Brill, 1969.

This fundamentally undermines the Christian’s claims during the debate. In fact, I, myself lost count of the verses he quoted from the Gospel attributed to John where papyrus 66 (a manuscript of the gospel of John that is dated between 150 – 399), does not confirm what the modern English versions were saying. He was effectively quoting the gospel attributed to John where the initial author’s writing was changed by later correctors to match/ harmonize what the other gospels said by later editors. A simple review of basic textual critical resources would have easily indicated to him that this was both a bad line of reasoning and counter-evidential to his position.

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(Left) Attorney Yusuf Ismail, (Right) Jonathan McLatchie

At the start of the debate the Christian speaker claimed his beliefs in Christianity were based on evidence, however when challenged on his views on the dead rising in the gospel attributed to Matthew he claimed he believed in a literal rising miracle of the dead in Jerusalem (back to life) without any evidence, thus proving himself wrong. At this point he also became hostile and in a raised voice, demanded to know why such a question was relevant in the first place, it is possible that he had a memory lapse at this point or had become plainly aware of his earlier statement, thus his reaction was largely based on embarrassment.

He also conceded during a rebuttal period that several verses in the gospel attributed to John were written by anonymous authors and therefore they were not authored by eyewitnesses thus conceding the debate to Attorney Yusuf Ismail.

On the other hand, I was duly impressed by Attorney Yusuf Ismail who is currently pursuing theological studies. I found his presentation and citation of classical Christian authorities on the anonymity of the Gospels to both be stringently academic and quite diverse. Meaning then, that he did not isolate these statements from “liberal” scholarship, nor did he quote-mine. In fact, during their cross-examination section, Attorney Yusuf Ismail produced a brilliant quote by Richard Bauckham which justified his position on the Gospels being anonymous in authorship. In addition to this, it was his opponent that had cited Bauckham as an authority in the first place, thus adding to the strength of Attorney Yusuf Ismail’s position. When reminded of this, the Christian speaker decried the reference, stating that he did not agree with everything Bauckham said, while this is a reasonable position, the Christian speaker did not clarify on what well-researched basis he made this distinction of agreeing and disagreeing with the author.

Surprisingly, Yusuf Ismail did not end there, he was on a roll. McLatchie was asked if he accepted Matthaean Priority (that is, the view that Matthew was authored first, followed by Mark and Luke). McLatchie (the Christian speaker) acknowledged that this was the position he was leaning towards. This is where I believe Yusuf Ismail showed his brilliance, he asked McLatchie if he accepted Papias’ (an unreliable early Church Father, as per Eusebius) claim that the gospel attributed to Matthew was initially written in Hebrew (and then translated into Koine Greek). McLatchie confusingly stated he did not study this position on the gospel attributed to Matthew. It therefore is problematic that he in one instance claims that he can lean towards one view on the original authorship of the gospel and then in another state he had not studied it at all. If he had not studied the genesis of Matthew’s gospel, how then can he lean to its position in authorship? This effectively summarized what was an overall brilliant evening for Yusuf and a disaster for McLatchie.

The debate can be viewed here on Facebook:

and Allah knows best.

 

Quick Responses to Claims About the Eternal Word of God

I’ve been busy the past few days and had not noticed that Br. Yahya Snow published an article and created a video about me. The article can be read here and concerns debate challenges and the glib behaviour of some missionaries.Br. Yahya states:

Now I must say, it’s curious to see Jonathan angle for a debate with Yusuf Bux after he intimated Yusuf’s arguments are dated and weak. Admittedly, I do have reservations about some of the arguments that do come out of SA. Nevertheless, the point here is why would Jonathan decide to target Yusuf for a debate while Jonathan continually avoids Ijaz Ahmad’s debate challenges. Ijaz is a hardened apologist and debater who chooses to involve himself in technical discussions about Christian theology – it’s what he specialises in.

You see, Jonathan has come off really poorly in his interactions with experienced Muslim apologists. He struggled in his debate with Shabir Ally and struggled in his debate with Yusuf Ismail. Ijaz Ahmad and myself have corrected him and refuted him on many points over the last few months – at times on some very basic stuff highlighting his inability in dialogue with Muslims who are more experienced and aware apologetically.

We’ve corrected Jonathan McLatchie a number of times, here are some examples:

  1. Jonathan rejected the belief that God in the Bible literally inscribed revelation.
  2. Jonathan argued that Br. Khalid Yasin was a white man.
  3. Jonathan claimed that nowhere in the Qur’an does Allah say: I am God Worship me.
  4. Jonathan forgot how debates work.

I actually have quite a couple more screenshots of never before released mistakes by Jonathan. However, they will not be posted. There’s a difference between correcting a public figure and caricaturing someone, and I do not want to cross that line. On the other hand, Br. Yahya also produced a video with me responding to some missionary claims regarding the speech of God, the preservation of the Qur’an and of Jesus’s nature:

I’m not particularly fond of seeing my name and face mentioned this much. While I am thankful for the efforts many brothers have made, it’s still a bit unsettling to see my face and name everywhere. In this case though, it is a video debate and so there’s no choice but to show my face. I am appreciative of Br. Yahya’s comments regarding me and for the video he’s made. I pray that many can benefit from the work that our little community of Muslim apologists, bloggers and du’at do.

and Allah knows best.

 

Upcoming Debates – April & May 2016

There are two major debates happening soon, details are provided below.

Topic: “What Is the Qur’an’s View of the Christian “Scriptures”?”
Featuring: Dr. Shabir Ally and Mr. David Wood
Location: Bethel Church (USA).
Date: April 26th, 2016.
Time: 6 PM.

shabir debate

Considerations for a livestream are ongoing, however the debate will be recorded. Links to the video or possible livestream will be posted when they become available. Sam Shamoun has asked that we do not mention the terms “hammer” or “father” in our interactions with Mr. Wood given his ongoing mental issues. Women are also asked not to wear clothing that may attract Mr. Wood’s attention due to his gender proclivities.



Topic: “The Doctrine of the Trinity: Man Made or Divinely Stipulated?””

Featuring: Br. Adnan Rashid and Dr. James White
Location: Kensington, London (UK).
Date: May 13th, 2016.

The debate will be livestreamed, we will be sharing the link when it becomes available. Details about the event’s location and time will be provided when they also become available.

and God knows best.

Jonathan McLatchie Flops in South Africa

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Embarrassing. This is the term being used by Christians in response to erratic, untruthful and dishonest claims made by Jonathan McLatchie about his South African events. Despite having the support of his close friend and teacher Sam Shamoun, Jonathan’s events in South Africa have had appallingly small crowds (?) attending those events. One South African speaker, Br. Yusuf Bux, decided to question Jonathan about the size of attendance at his events:

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Jonathan replied with a large figure, 200 people! However, Br. Yusuf Bux responded with a picture that clearly showed roughly 20 people in attendance or less. In questioning Jonathan’s integrity, Br. Yusuf Bux replied as follows:

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Jonathan insisted that the photos were taken at a bad time, however these are photos from two different debates, both showing less than 100 people at either event. Instead of responding with photographic evidence to the contrary, Jonathan insisted that “someone did a headcount”. Unfortunately for Jonathan, the pictures were taken by attendees who confirmed that such numbers from Jonathan are not only imagined, Jonathan was simply lying. Another person who attended the event also replied and confirmed that Jonathan’s numbers were simply made up:

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According to the above eyewitness, the testimonies of both Christians and Muslims, and the photographs of the events, Jonathan is simply making up attendance numbers at will. In fact, Br. Yusuf Ismail has mentioned that there were 40 people at the first event and 70 at the second. No where near the large figures that Jonathan claimed:

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Not only have the events themselves failed to draw in any crowds, attendees from both Islamic and Christian backgrounds have complained that Jonathan’s arguments were not only poor, but he was significantly repetitive, leading to crowds leaving while he was speaking. As seen in this photo below, the room is practically empty while Jonathan is speaking:

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In another event, there are 4-5 more people, but the seats are simply empty while Jonathan is speaking:

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There’s no need to make up numbers Jonathan, the pictures speak for themselves. If anyone would like to submit further pictures of the crowds, send us an email or post them to our Facebook Page.

and Allah knows best.

 

Post-Debate Remarks: What is the True Faith of Jesus’ Disciples

My friend and EAM Associate Apologist, Luis sent these books with Steven. Thanks Louie!

My friend and EAM Associate Apologist, Luis sent these books with Steven. Thanks Louie!

I’ve taken some time to think about the debate I had on Friday past with Reverend Steven Martins. Before, I speak on the debate itself I’d like to thank Br. Asad – the event’s host, Br. Haseeb – the videographer, MYTT – the organizers, and Pastor Kris – first time debate moderator and local host of Reverend Stevens. The event was well attended, some 200 – 300 persons, although we got off to a late start ~30 minutes, by the time the opening statements began we had a sizable crowd which grew steadily throughout our presentations. Due to our late start, we also had a late conclusion to the event, close to midnight according to our host and organizers. I however, having just come out of surgery, left 30 minutes after the debate. Reverend Steven’s timing wasn’t the best, but having just come out of surgery two weeks prior to the event, I was skeptical as to how I’d be able to manage a first time stage debate in front of such a large crowd. Thankfully, I was able to hold down my own and go through with the event.

The crowd seemed very well pleased with both presentations, occasionally I’d glance at the crowd and see quite a number of smiling faces, as well as a swelling crowd of guests. I have to admit that I was completely thrown aback by both Reverend Stevens and Pastor Kris’s (on the ‘s, see William Strunk Jr. and EB White’s, “The Elements of Style”) kind words. Pastor Kris’s introduction of, “I’ve only met Ijaz a few minutes now, but I must say he is a handsome young man”, was an excellent start to the night’s proceedings. No doubt, I do agree with the Pastor (why yes, I am being cheeky). Reverend Stevens is a very good orator and I must applaud him for speaking clearly, consistently and loudly enough. Myself on the other hand, had the mic adjusted a few minutes into the debate but the audio recording was not affected (the audience may have been affected, but that was a minor issue as far as I was told). Unfortunately, the Christian videographer had issues with his recording and thus despite having two cameras present, only one actually recorded the event.

Beyond that hiccup, the event proceeded smoothly. I have been told by persons who were at the event that the one on one between myself and the Reverend during our crossfire section was extremely thrilling and quite the spectacle to have watched. The question and answer following the main debate was quite interesting. Unfortunately there was one belligerent (Christian?) man who found my comments in relation to 2 Corinthians 12:6-7 to be somewhat offensive. Although my memory could be wrong, I have conferred with several others and they have agreed that my recounting of the events is indeed accurate (if I’m wrong, shoot me an email or place a comment, I’ll gladly correct myself), it proceeded as follows:

Questioner: Why are you using your intellect in reading scripture? The message of the cross is foolish to those who think they are wise! (He then proceeds to ask me a series of loosely related questions).

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re asking, can you please clarify?

Questioner: (Expressing his ire with my not understanding him proceeds to ask several more questions and shout after the mic has been taken from him; both Christian and Muslim sides agreed this would be done in the event someone wanted to start their own debate.)

 

I do fear that my reaction may have gone over his head. I have been told that some of my comments were too witty for certain sections of the crowd (I’m not sure how to respond to that), but essentially, if I turned off my intellect as the man was demanding I do, then it’s quite clear I wouldn’t be able to understand what he was asking. I will excuse him though, his anger and emotions may have gotten the better of him. Although the irony is difficult to escape, there was a deeper level of irony that occurred to me then but alas there was no time to mention it (time limit of 2 minutes had rushed quickly by!), here is a man who reads his scripture without using intellect, while those who constructed his scripture (textual critics) are required to use their intellects in their discipline! I seem to have angered the man with my being unable to understand him, but perhaps if he used his – intellect – it may have helped. Nonetheless, that was the only odd event for the evening and we proceeded to finish line shortly thereafter.

Following the event, I’ve received great feedback from both sides on the presentations for the debate. Fortunately, the questions the audience asked were directly relevant to the next topic, “What is the True Path of Salvation: Islam or Christianity?”, which sets a great stage for the next debate. I’m concerned that the Christian side which is arranging the recording may not be able to follow through on those arrangements for the next debate. I’d be quite disappointed if that is the case, but I do hope and pray that this next event goes as smoothly if not more smoothly than the first. Reverend Stevens and myself do certainly approach these topics quite differently, and I think the audience benefits greatly from our differences. I do look forward to our second and last event for his Trinidad Mission’s Trip. Please keep us in your prayers.

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