Saturday, 14 June 2014

A Response to "DawahIsEasy" on the Deity of Christ (Part I)

I recently found this video, published by Islamic vlogger "DawahIsEasy". For those unclear, "dawah" is an Arabic word meaning roughly "preaching". The video shows a discussion on the deity of Jesus between a Muslim and a Christian. The video is well worth watching by any Christian interested in apologetics and evangelism.  I originally intended to write only a single post in response but realised that, some of the issues raised here, required a series. This first post, therefore, will cover a few minor and introductory points, the next post will (deo volente) delve into some deeper waters.

Let me first make a couple of minor points: The Muslim gentleman makes a couple of factual claims that are simple nonsense. For example, he claims that the English words "evangelise" and "evangelical" come from the Arabic word "Injil", the Arabic name for the Gospel. In fact he goes so far as to claim that "you can't disagree" that the Arabic name is the source of those English words. I'm sorry, but I can disagree. While I take it to be uncontroversial that the words are linked, the reason is not because  the English words are derived from the Arabic but because the Arabic and English words share a common root in the Greek "Evangelion."

Second he claims that "according to scholars" the gospels (he especially mentions St. John's Gospel) were originally in Aramaic and later translated into Greek. If he'd bother to do a simple Google search he'd learn what rubbish he was talking. In fact, while some scholars hold the St. Matthew's gospel was originally in Aramaic, they are a small minority. A majority of scholars agree St. Matthew was originally written in Greek and an effective consensus exists that the other three were written in Greek. The gentleman's claim that scholars generally believe St. John's Gospel to have originally been written in Aramaic is just ignorance.

Also, the Muslim claims that, on St. Paul the Apostle's tombstone, one will find the name "Saul", not Paul and that this calls into question whether Saul of Tarsus was ever really converted. Again, simply false. As this article notes, the sarcophagus commonly believed to have held the body of St. Paul clearly bears the words: Paulo Apostolo Matr". Paul Apostle and Martyr.

These are all minor points and I'm not suggesting that any of them, in and of themselves, invalidate his arguments. The fact of him repeatedly making errors like this is, in my mind, significant, however. The reason is that he frequently makes claims about "what I have read" or, more significantly, what scholars say and goes on to make a very basic error. These are not the sort of errors which it would require any deep research to discover, a quick Google search would have shown any of the three claims I noted above to be baseless. Given this, I think we must say that the gentleman making these claims is, at best, showing serious incompetence in his research and, at worst, simply dishonest.

Having said that, while the Muslim certainly asserted a great many factual errors, I don't think the Christian did a very good job of explaining Christianity. As a minor aside, our Christian friend declares that "there was discussion about the two natures of Jesus in the second century." Well, I'm not exactly certain what he means and I'm sure there has been discussion of Christ's nature in every century since His coming, but the major debates in which the Church's beliefs about Christ natures were defined were in the fifth and sixth century. Much more seriously, our Christian declares that Jesus "is not a man" but "He was both human and divine." No, this is not orthodox Christianity. The Declaration of Chalcedon, accepted by Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and the vast majority of Protestant Churches describes Our Lord as subsisting (present tense) in two natures.

More importantly, however, the Christian in the video is clearly not prepared to answer questions about the dual natures of Our Lord. He identifies himself as a theology student and street preacher. If you are going to be a street preacher in our contemporary situation you need to prepare yourself to answer the questions our Muslim friends will have. Generally speaking, these questions will involve the divine and human nature of Christ.

I will, (deo volente) in the next post of this series, lay out, in more detail what we believe and how Muslim criticisms misunderstand this belief.

P.S. A small point, but, as I philosopher, I can't let this go. The Christian in the video makes a couple of statements about Philosophy that show he has not the faintest clue what Philosophy is.

1 comment:

  1. I would have thought the fact of St Paul's martyrdom - not to mention his testimony in Corinthians of having been scourged, beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked etc - was sufficient evidence of the sincerity of his conversion.