A week ago, I gained a significant insight into the mind of James White – the Christian speaker. He had a discussion with himself on the Qur’aan and its understanding of the Jews and Christians. You can listen to the program here. How the Qur’aan approaches the beliefs of the Jews and Christians, the corruption of their scripture and several other matters were discussed, but it’s something that James mentioned that really enlightened to me to his approach towards apologetics in relations to Islam. Click here and listen for the next two minutes of James’ dialogue. James is reading aloud a response I sent to a group email in which he was involved. To summarize James’ belief:
- The author of the Qur’aan is ignorant about Christian beliefs because the author says wrong things about Christian beliefs.
Let’s take for example the claim that the Qur’aan gets the Trinity wrong, 5:116 says:
And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?'”
This is one of his common claims, but we must ask ourselves something that he doesn’t. Does the Qur’aan state that this is the Christian Trinity? It doesn’t. There are only two things that this verse states: (1) Christians took Jesus to be a God, (2) Christians took Mary to be a God. So how exactly does the Qur’aan misrepresent the Trinity in this verse? It’s obvious that James begins his argument by assuming what this verse says, isolating it, and then reading into it what he wants to claim, and then he “bravely” argues against this claim – his own claim. Let’s take another example, he says the Qur’aan again misrepresents the Trinitarian formula in the following verse, 5:73 which says:
They have certainly disbelieved who say, “Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God.
His argument is that Christians do not believe that God is one of Three, therefore the Qur’aan errs in regard to common Christian belief. However, the Qur’aan here – without dispute, gets the Trinity correct. God – the Father (Allaah), is one of three. We must then ask, how could the Qur’aan get it wrong, if it gets it right? The Qur’aan can only be “wrong“, if Christians did not believe that each person of the Godhead was a God, is James saying that he believes otherwise? He repeats this argument in a debate he had in South Africa with Br. Bux, and that concerned me because he claims to let scripture speak for itself, when his own actions demonstrate otherwise.
Now, these are minor examples of his ineptitude and dishonesty, but in reference to my email – he’s indicated something far more insidious than I could have known. See, I made the claim that the Qur’aan doesn’t only speak about one specific set of Christians. James’ position/ angle when claiming that the Qur’aan gets Christian beliefs wrong is based on the fact that he expects the Qur’aan to mention one type of Christian beliefs only – his own. So that would be Trinitarian – Calvinist – Baptist -Christian theology. That means the Qur’aan must only speak about one sect and that it can only speak about one sect of Christianity, his sect. I challenged this by saying that this was a silly claim, why does the Qur’aan have to speak about one sect’s beliefs only?
His response to that was to ask, “Hmmm……Ummm…..(that particular work well known in early Church history), are you really going to try to defend the idea that the Qur’aan accurately represents a catalogue of variant Christian beliefs?” That statement is golden, he’s essentially type casting the Qur’aan’s approach to Christianity and that it should only represent his version of Orthodox Christianity and it should not speak about the beliefs of the Christian world.
In response to James’ question, I ask, are you really going to try and defend that idea that the Qur’aan is supposed to only speak about one type of Christianity? For academic sake, the Qur’aan mentions that some Christians took Mary to be a deity, there are two prominent sects of Christianity that did this, the Collyridians and the Roman Catholics. If James is fair and objective, honest – he should concede that the Qur’aan is referencing the beliefs of more than one Christian sect from this claim about Mary alone. From this, when I heard James’ skepticism to my claim that the Qur’aan mentions the belief of the Christian world and not the beliefs of one sect – the one he happens to belong to, I then realised just how myopic and misguided his approach was, it’s merely polemical. I call upon James to demonstrate why the Qur’aan should only speak or mention the beliefs of one sect of the hundreds of Christian sects that exist. What makes Trinitarian Calvinist Baptist Christian beliefs so special, that a book from God can only focus on one heresy and not other heresies which defile a Prophet of God and his mother?
It’s now inescapable that every time I hear James applaud his level of study, that the image above (unedited in anyway) comes to my mind. The very fact that he approaches the statements of the Qur’aan by using eisegesis and cherry picking, demonstrates for me, his great ineptitude at being a formal scholar, an erudite, a consistent man.
and God knows best.