Sam Shamoun and Lying
By Shabir Ally
published (with permission) September 30, 2015
During my debate with David Wood on ABNSAT, Sam Shamoun called in to challenge one of my statements. According to my statement, Robert Gundry said that the formula in Matthew 28 does not imply that the three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share the same name. Rather, the formula means that baptism should be done with fundamental reference to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sam claimed that Gundry wrote no such thing, and he had Gundry’s books to prove it. I pointed out that I was referring to another book by Gundry.
But Sam was not convinced by my plea. Rather, he was convinced that I was lying. Hence he wrote to that effect here:
In that document, Sam cites two books of Gundry, and links to a third, all to prove that Gundry did not voice the view I attributed to him.
However, in each case he is referring to a book other than the one I was referring to. As I am away from my hometown at the moment, I cannot check the reference at the moment, but here is something I found on my laptop that I had written elsewhere complete with a reference to the book I was referring to.
As for the apparent Trinitarian formula of Matthew 28:19, Robert H. Gundry writes that “Matthew seems to be responsible for the present formula.”
As will be immediately clear, this is not the same as any of the three books Sam cited or referred to in his above linked article. It should also be clear that Gundry is saying that Matthew is responsible for the saying whereas we would expect Christians to think that Jesus actually said this.
Sam apparently assumed that the books he came across are the only books that Gundry wrote on the subject. Instead of hastily composing an article claiming that I was lying, he should have asked me for the reference to the specific book I was citing, and then check the reference in that book. As it turns out, people these days are too quick to assume the worst about other people but the best about themselves.
Even if it turns out that the book I was referring to does not contain the material I cited, does this necessitate a charge of lying? Or, could it be a case of citing from memory and recalling incorrectly as humans sometimes do?
During the debate itself, I cited many other books, some of which I had on the desk before me. These too I cited from memory, as is my usual style in debates. I do not claim that my memory is impeccable.
However, in how many cases did Sam find a significant discrepancy between my citations and my named sources? If it is just this one, does that require such a serious charge? Is Sam here exhibiting the usual charitableness of Christians? If we go about slinging such uncharitable accusations against each other will that lead to better dialogue and mutual understanding?
When I get back to Toronto, I will check again to see if my memory serves me correctly, and thus that Gundry said what I cited him to say. Otherwise, I will issue a public retraction. But if what I cited is correct, will Sam retract his article and issue an apology for his false accusation?
Meanwhile, it is interesting to know that after Gundry published this critical commentary in 1982, some evangelical scholars called for his resignation from the Evangelical Theological Society. He resigned in 1983.
Does that sound like Gundry was saying in this book what Sam wants to hear?