This is the first of several audience reviews from the debate between Dr. Tony Costa and myself. The following review is from Abu Ilias (USA):
As a student of comparative theology, I am addicted to watching Christian/Muslim interfaith dialogues and debates. Different speakers have different oratory attributes, skills, knowledge, and of course deficiencies as well, and present their information in various ways. There are some who, to the discerning minds, seem to merely want to spout hate and animosity at the interlocutor’s person and faith conviction, not seriously interested in genuine dialogue or hoping to reach a fair and objective conclusion. And there are those that , bless them, seem to be very sincere and earnest but do not posses adequate knowledge in the scope of their debate endeavors and consequently end up creating straw men arguments, misrepresentations and false conclusions, albeit not intentionally.
This debate between Tony Costa and Ijaz Ahmed encapsulated the best of both worlds in my humble opinion. Ijaz was lucid, intelligent, respectful and up to date on the current landscape of Christian theological doctrine and textual criticism. He did not allow his Quranic or Islamic preconceptions to muddy the merit of his arguments nor did he allow the fever of religious debate to infiltrate and ruin the civility of the event (contrary to what others such as David Wood and Sam Shamoun frequently do on ABN). Tony Costa, is also one of the more respectable Christian personalities and apologists. He displayed a very professional level of dialogue and did not resort to some of the oft repeated bigoted slogans that ubiquitously occupy the lips of others who use the ABN platform. And while I believe some of Costa’s arguments to be weak or unfounded, I never found myself grinding my teeth or face palming at any time during his debate, which is a first for me as a listener of ABN’s material.
Ijaz (as well as some very intelligent Muslim questioners during the Q and A) did a terrific job using only christian and general biblical scholarship to support his claims on various topics and I learned much from his presentations as well as his style of delivery, in fact, I am shocked at his level of knowledge and wisdom at such a young age. I will definitely watch this debate numerous times in order to study the material he so eloquently presented and utilize it in the future! By my humble estimation, Ijaz clearly provided the more objective and faith-neutral arguments while Costa, although being respectful and polite, countered with little more than cliches that have long been discarded by modern studies in textual criticism and Christology. Examples include his continued claim that the Gospels were 1st century documents despite Ijaz’s elucidation of the fact that the oldest known manuscripts like P52 are dated by biblical scholars no earlier than the early second century and as late as the third century (even though Prof Dan Wallace claims to have been a part of the dating and discovery of a small late first century fragment of Mark back in 2012, it is now almost 2016 with still no verification.)
There are many more points, paramount ones, that can be expounded upon to show how Ijaz demonstrated the problematic nature of reconciling unitiarian passages in the NT with the trinity and the dual nature of Jesus peace be upon him, as well as how he academically clarified the dubious nature of the NT text as a whole, which in essence trumped anything Costa could have had to refute!
and Allah knows best.