James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries just does not get it.

Have a look at this video featuring James White and a rapper:

The verse in context:

‘God has sealed them [the Jews] in their disbelief, so they believe only a little – and because they disbelieved and uttered a terrible slander against Mary, and said, ‘We have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of God.’ They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, though it was made to appear like that to them; those that disagreed about him are full of doubt, with no knowledge to follow, only supposition: they certainly did not kill him – God raised him up to Himself. God is almighty and wise.’

Surat An-Nisā’ 4:155-157. Translation by Abdel Haleem

This video is addressed to Muslims. But White just does not get it. The verse in question was not by Muhammad but was revealed by Almighty God who knows all things – yes, even the truth of events in the 1st century! The argument assumes that Islam is false, ie that the Quran expresses the limited understanding of a 7th century Arab. But from the Muslim perspective nothing could be further from the truth. White’s limited knowledge of the events surrounding the last days of Jesus’s life cannot compare with the perfect knowledge of White’s Creator, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. White assumes his unbelieving premise in his conclusion.

The whole presentation therefore misses the point, and is strangely circular. White will need to come up with arguments that actually engage the Muslim perspective rather than just assuming the truth of the Christian one.

The Islamic viewpoint is in fact impossible to refute, as one of the world’s greatest Christian philosophers candidly admitted:

‘Historically it is very difficult to dispute the qur’anic verse since presumably it would not be possible for observers at the time to tell the difference between Jesus being crucified and his only appearing to be crucified – unless what is suggested is that someone else was crucified in his place.’

Rev Professor John HickReligious Pluralism and Islam, lecture delivered to the Institute for Islamic Culture and Thought, Tehran, February 2005.

(The disputed historical question of the crucifixion of Jesus is really a very minor issue for Muslims as Jesus did not go around Galilee preaching that forgiveness of sins was made possible through his death but instead through simple repentance to God – without a mediator – which is what Islam teaches too, see Matthew 5-7 and passim).

For further discussion see my article The Crucifixion and the Qur’an

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Categories: Bible, Christianity, Islam, Quran

58 replies

  1. Yes, indeed James White seems to go often in circular thinking by first assuming what is conveniently desirous for him to assume.

    ‘Historically it is very difficult to dispute the qur’anic verse since presumably it would not be possible for observers at the time to tell the difference between Jesus being crucified and his only appearing to be crucified – unless what is suggested is that someone else was crucified in his place.’

    (Rev Professor John Hick, in his lecture on Religious Pluralism and Islam)

    Indeed, in the New Testament, did not Pontius Pilate actually think Jesus did not really die since it was so early but that he just looked like he might have died to the soldiers who in the New Testament took him down from the pole/stake?

    And is it not much harder for people to visualize what is really going on at around 33 AD rather than the modern instruments that allow close visualization and recording of events and so on?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve no idea why christians try to make a point about this subject.
    Our argument is very simple & very clear! The matter for us is a revelation from Allah. Allah (sw), the all Knowing and the all Seeing, the one who has told us this fact.
    For them, there’s no any eye witness for that incident except writings written by authors whom they don’t who they are even, and we know that there’s a big motive behind that writings, so “Say, “Each [of us] is waiting; so wait. For you will know who are the companions of the sound path and who is guided.” QT 20:135.
    Moreover, Quran explicitly states that there’s something happened, yet Jesus was not killed, nor was he crucified.
    Therefore, our argument is not impossible for historians, and it shouldn’t be for christians with more reasons.

    Christians emphasize in that incident because the belief that they have behind it. Their job to prove that belief if they can, but we know that they have been failing miserably.

    Just one more thing, the argument of ” a man coming after 600 years” is a big fat double standard, and James White must know this better than anyone else. Whatever! We are dealing with christian preachers , after all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Abdullah,

      How can you be certain that the verse under discussion came from Allah?

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    • Good!
      Your question means that our argument is very legitimate, and it does make sense once we say Quran is a pure revelation from Allah, and Allah is all Knowing and all Seeing. However, you cannot say Quran is wrong just because it denies that Jesus got killed! And that why I’m asking christians to not try to make any point about this matter, and let’s move to the next square.

      Quran has many features which make us believe in it as the word of Allah (sw) undoubtedly such as : its fulfilled prophecies, its language, its teachings, and the theme of challenge that Quran presents itself with. All of these factors paralyzed its opponents for more 1400 years while other books cannot meet these highly standards.

      “And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful.
      But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers” QT 2:23-24.

      Liked by 3 people

    • i didn’t ask that.. I asked you how you can be certain that this particular verse comes from Allah.

      So, how can you be certain?

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    • The verse is part of the Book of Allah. So your question is how can I be certain the Book is from God. Your question is mischievous.

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    • No my question was exactly that. I’m not asking you to assume the book is from Allah. That would be a totally different assumption.

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    • It’s the same text. Get with it dude.

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    • I’m with it. You clearly are not. You could believe this verse is from Allah but still not believe the whole of the Koran is. Happens all the time.

      Unanswered question: how can you be certain this verse is from Allah?

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    • I’m not interested in answering your silly question. Troll.

      Like

    • Paulus,
      I know already that you are just a troll.
      I’ll make sure to not give you my fully attention next time.

      “Unanswered question”
      So be it then.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Unable, no doubt, without removing the apologetic branch you are trying to cling to.

      NB: Muslims call anybody a troll when unable to answer questions

      Like

  3. Hopefully he can take this information on board.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Seems to be a clumsy, desperate and unneccessary, thus highly implausible, solution on Allah’s part when Isa had so many non-miraculous options at his disposal to avoid being crucified. He could have just walked to India and took his followers with him, just to give one example.

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  5. Why did Isa have nothing to say when he was beamed up? Rather rude and unfriendly just to vanish unnanounced without a few words of solace, don’t you think?

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  6. woow, I couldn’t be more surprised at that consistent double standard in that video since I keep on hearing that same argument at speakers corner.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. White didn’t sssume anything. At the beginning he mentions the historicity of the event from scholarship. It is indisputable.

    The assumption comes from you: “The verse in question was not by Muhammad but was revealed by Almighty God who knows all things – yes, even the truth of events in the 1st century”. You have assume that this stat if from Allah(1) and then assume it is correct against all other evidence (2).

    “White will need to come up with arguments that actually engage the Muslim perspective rather than just assuming the truth of the Christian one”

    Irony of ironies! There is no consensus on what this verse means, so which particular Muslim perspective do you want engaged? The fact that you assume it is correct because you assume Allah knows all things? And, again, White appealed to historians and scholarship- you appealed to…?

    Like

  8. “The Islamic viewpoint is in fact impossible to refute, as one of the world’s greatest Christian philosophers candidly admitted:”

    Which doesn’t make it true either.

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  9. Paul.

    John Hick is hardly a “voice” for orthodox Christians. He rejects almost all key Christian doctrines, so I’m not sure why you use him? Anyhow, I did notice that you cut short what he actually said- your citation was, shall we say, not so reflective of his true position

    “Historically it is very difficult to dispute the qur’anic verse since presumably it would not be possible for observers at the time to tell the difference between Jesus being crucified and his only appearing to be crucified – unless what is suggested is that someone else was crucified in his place. But any historical evidence that there is, both in the New Testament and also in non-Christian Roman references (Josephus and Tacitus), indicates that he was indeed executed by the Romans, who were very efficient executioners.”

    Are you not ashamed to misquote people? And just to rub it in, let me cite Erhman as well.

    “I do not think that the Qur’an has any particular insights about the historical Jesus that are to be taken as independent reports by historical scholars. Neither does any other historical scholar that I know (or anyone who works seriously on the historical Jesus).”- Bart Erhman

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  10. So why do Western historians not use the Quranic data in their research into the historical Jesus?

    There is the problem of miracles. Bart Erhman writes apropos the resurrection of Jesus,

    “But that is not why historians cannot show that miracles [including the miraculous deliverance of Jesus from crucifixion?], including the resurrection, happened. The reason instead has to do with the limits of historical knowledge. There cannot be historical evidence for a miracle. To understand why, we need to consider how historians engage in their craft. Historians work differently from the way natural scientists work. Scientists do repeated experimentation to demonstrate how things happen, changing one variable at a time. If the same experiment produces the same result time after time, you can establish a level of predictive probability: the same result will occur the next time you do the experiment….”

    Erhman continues,

    “Historians work differently. Historians are not trying to show what does or will happen, but what has happened. And with history, the experiment can never be repeated. Once something has happened, it is over and done with…..”

    “Did Lincoln write the Gettysburg address on an envelope? Did Jefferson have a long-term love affair with one of his slaves? …..Make up your own questions: there are billions.. There is nothing inherently improbable about any of these events; the question is whether they happened or not. Some are more probable than others. Historians more or less rank past events on the basis of the relative probability that they occurred. All that historians can do is show what probably happened in the past.”

    “That is the problem inherent in miracles. Miracles, by our very definition of the term, are virtually impossible events…..by their very nature, (they) are always the least probable explanation for what happened. This is true whether you are a believer or not. Of the six billion people in the world, not one of them can walk on top of lukewarm water filling a swimming pool. What would be the chances of any one person being able to do that? Less than one in six billion. Much less.”

    “….historians cannot establish that miracles have ever happened. This is true of the miracles of Mohammed, Hanina ben Dosa, Apollonius of Tyana – and Jesus.”

    “But what about the resurrection? I’m not saying that it didn’t happen. Some people believe it did, some believe it didn’t. But if you do believe it, it is not as a historian, even if you happen to be a professional historian, but as a believer. There can be no historical evidence for the resurrection because of the nature of historical evidence.”

    Erhman’s comments about historical method (in reality Western post-Enlightenment secular historiography) and the resurrection apply with equal force to the Quranic claim,

    ‘They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, though it was made to appear like that to them’.

    Liked by 5 people

    • No, the reason they don’t use the Koran is because…

      “I do not think that the Qur’an has any particular insights about the historical Jesus that are to be taken as independent reports by historical scholars. Neither does any other historical scholar that I know (or anyone who works seriously on the historical Jesus).”- Bart Erhman

      While miracles are one aspect, the prior discussion must include historical reports. The Koran doesn’t have any “insights about the historical Jesus” according to erhman or any other historical scholar. Face reality Paul.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. “‘They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, though it was made to appear like that to them’.”

    The trinity appears reasonable by comparison.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. “Believing in three divine beings is not reasonable. It contradicts the creed of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.”

    Indeed. And it contradicts common sense and logic.

    Face reality Paulus or Robert or whoever you are if you want to do what is good for yourself.

    If you don’t really care about your hereafter and do not sufficiently want to enter the abode of reward and bliss, then continue on your path to enter punishment.

    But we don’t want to go there. We want what is best for you but we cannot help if you want to continue to be stubborn.

    At least, don’t try to mislead others just because you are mislead.

    Peace

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The Bible…what is that? Is that the Tanakh? The Catholic Bible? The Protestant Bible? The Synoptic Gospels of the Gospel of John? The King James Bible or one on study of the large number of manuscripts which are different. The Gospel of Q? The scriptures of the Jewish Christians who followed the way of John the Baptist, Jesus, and James?

    Many who believed in scriptures of the the Bible attribute their acceptance of Islam because of the Bible such as Bishop David Benjamin Keldan.

    So you consider a sentence by Tacitus restating what the Pauline Christians of his day were saying about an interpretation of an event when he was not even born to be history?

    And that is supposed to be common sense?

    No, that is a flimsy approach to history.

    What on the contrary that is irrefutable that the Jews all the way back to Moses and indeed to Abraham would consider your assertions about God to be blasphemy.

    What is irrefutable history is that had Abraham and Moses and all the Hebrew Prophets been here, they would warn your stubborn blasphemy is playing with fire.

    But what is current fact that you don’t care what Abraham or Moses or James, etc. say or what logic says.

    You will do what you want come hell or high water.

    At least don’t try to mislead others to go that way to pain and suffering in the hereafter.

    Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, Paul of Tarsus, the Gospels, Tacitus, Josephus, the Talmud are all secondary/tertiary sources reporting HEARSAY, not testimony. Historians agree on the Crucifixion not because the sources are reliable, but because it is not unexpected for the Romans to execute a Jewish rebel claiming to be the Messiah.
      The Xtians keep forgetting that their religion depends on the factuality of the Resurrection, not the Crucifixion, and these same historians agree that no such event occurred, and that the last moment Jesus was seen alive was probably on the cross.
      Plus, the contention between Islam and Xtianity is the deification of Jesus. The whole Quranic rhetoric on xtianity deals with the deifying and worship of Jesus as God/Son of God.
      Ibn Hazm, a scholar from the 11th century, says that it would not have been blasphemous or improbable for early (Jewish) Christians to believe that Jesus was a righteous prophet unjustly killed by the Romans and Jews.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Classical Muslim scholars believe the Jesus events reached mutawatir status. You are using liberal western skepticism, not scholarship

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    • Ibn Awad,

      I’m curious, assuming what you say about the gospels not being eyewitnesses is true, how many eyewitnesses do we have regarding the life of Muhammad? The Hadith and Sirah are worthless in your eyes since they’re hearsay. The info that they carry has been narrated through long isnad chains 4 or 5 names long. Why believe them by your standards?

      Another question, why do you think that eyewitness evidence would prove something? You said: “For a Muslim, the Quran is God’s word”. Why would an eyewitness refute God’s word? You would trust a man over God’s word? A million eyewitnesses shouldn’t overturn God’s word if it truly came from God.

      Also, Eyewitnesses have often been wrong. In the early 1990’s Ivan Demjanjuk was condemned to death because 12 eyewitnesses identified him as the evil Treblinka camp guard “Ivan the Terrible”. His supporters found a document in the Soviet archives saying that Ivan the terrible was actually a man named Ivan Marchenko. This non-eyewitness piece of evidence was used by the Israeli courts to overturn the eyewitness testimony of 12 Israelis.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Paulus, Classical Muslim scholars also believed that the Gospels were really written by Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. Now we know better, that they all originally circulated anonymously and the authorship added later. Also, an event cannot be held as mutawatir if the “witnesses” provide contradictory details, to the point that each report is exclusive to the other.
      The mutawatir transmission that the Muslim scholars claimed is for the Gospels themselves, not the events they narrate. This is exactly what xtians claim to this day, that there are multiple manuscripts of varying ages.
      I find it amusing that when historians agree with the Crucifixion, you call it “scholarship”, when they refute the Resurrection, you call it “scepticism”.

      Like

    • Allan, the Isnad is a valid historical method based on chain transmission of testimonies or authorities. Therefore, it is not hearsay. If a hadith starts with something resembling hearsay, it is automatically regarded as inauthentic until proven otherwise. You seem to be lacking fundamental understanding of what constitutes Isnad, or an authentic hadith.

      On the other hand, the fact remains that the first mention of the authorship of the gospels is by Iranaeus c. 180 CE. Before that they circulated anonymously. The closest thing the xtians have to a tradition transmitted by Isnad is what Irenaeus reports from Papias from John the Evangelist, and xtians latch to this as if it were a gift from the Holy Spirit; though scholars nowadays regard John the Evangelist as someone other than the Apostle.

      If you throw out eyewitness testimony, then you’re appealing to sophistry, it makes your position no better. My initial argument remains as it is.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Plus, if you disregard the validity of eyewitness testimony, then Luke 1:2 & John 21:24 become meaningless and irrelevant.

      Like

    • Ibn Awad,

      The whole thing about Gospels being anonymous is being challenged. There is no manuscript that we have of any Gospels that doesn’t have a title with a name on it. If you want to prove me wrong, just name any Gospel manuscript in the world with no name. Any one will do. The whole anonymous theory is based on vague statements by one or two church fathers but they’re vague at best.

      The Hadith are by definition hearsay. The legal definition of hearsay implies that the source is known. For example: Dave said that Margaret went to the movies. That is a hearsay statement. You know that Margaret went to the movies because Dave said so, but you haven’t heard it directly from Margaret. If we found a letter from Abu Bakr from Medina in the 620’s talking about what he did with Muhammad that day, it is eyewitness testimony. If it’s passed on orally for 200 years before it’s finally compiled by Bukhari, then its triple or quadruple hearsay(even though we know the transmitters) and by your standards, we shouldn’t believe a word it says.

      I never said that eyewitness testimony is invalid or that it should be thrown out. I said it had problems. You’re the one who says that unless we have an eyewitness, we can’t believe. But as I said, if we believe that the Quran is God’s word, why would an eyewitness refute that? Who do we believe, God or some mere mortal sinner?

      If you apply your standards that you apply to Christianity to Islam, then you have no business believing any of it. That’s all that I’m saying.

      Like

    • Sir, the topic of the transmission of the Gospels and the Quran/Hadith is vast, and will divert our attention.
      The criteria of an authentic hadith is as follows: is it the transmission of an Upright (‘Adl) Person commiting to memory (Hifz) the specific tradition cited, from a similar person known for his fidelity and memory, and so on until it reaches the source of the tradition (e.g.: the Prophet).

      An authentic Hadith would be like: David told me that Margaret told him she went or is going to the movies, or, David told me he saw Margaret at the Movies, or, David learned of this from John who heard or saw Margaret at the movies. This is the testimony.
      The example you cited above is hearsay or rumor, because David does not cite his source. The two examples also elucidate the difference between the Hadith and Gospels.

      Secular scholars do not criticise the Hadith because of the theoretical framework of Isnad, but because of founded or unfounded scepticism towards religious literature and oral tradition.

      We can discuss this topic at another time.

      Like

    • Ibn Awad,

      I agree with you that this is worth discussing and can be done at another time. I just want to make my point clear.

      You noticed that I never said the Hadith were unreliable. I simply said that they were not eyewitnesses but hearsay(three or four times over). Hearsay can often be correct. You’re the one saying that hearsay is unreliable and only eyewitnesses should be accepted. I’m just saying that these standards that YOU(not me) apply to one faith disqualify your own sources such as the Hadith and Sirah.

      You said an authentic hadith would say: “David learned of this from John who heard or saw Margaret at the movies”

      This is hearsay. It doesn’t matter that the source is known. John is the eyewitness of Margaret being at the movies, not Dave who is making this statement.

      If this was a legal matter, the court would subpoena John to testify. If John for example died in a car crash the night before and couldn’t testify, they would only have to go with Dave’s hearsay and this evidence would be thrown out. However, this does not mean it’s false, only not accepted by a court as evidence. Court’s aren’t 100% accurate.

      I don’t deny the authenticity of some hadith but they are not eyewitnesses. You have set the bar so high that by your standard they must be rejected, not my standard.

      Like

    • Indeed, you are correct in that in a court of law David’s statement is inadmissible and would be considered hearsay, John would need to testify for himself. I did not clarify that I wasn’t using the legal use of “hearsay”. Dictionaries like Oxford and Merrian-Webster give two definitions of hearsay: one generic and the other legal.
      The general definition is: “Information received from other people which cannot be substantiated; RUMOR”.
      In court “you can only provide information of which you have direct knowledge.”

      I did not elevate the standard willy-nilly, I merely stated that if the Quran is to be the defendant, then the evidence opposing it should be testimony, EVEN IF IT WAS TRANSMITTED IN CHAIN FORM, LIKE ISNAD, and not hearsay/rumor, meaning that the source of this information is at hand, for e.g: Irenaeus reports from Papias from John the Apostle who witnessed these events.

      Another quick point: any authentic Isnad would require evidence of direct contact with the source, for e.g: I heard, I saw, I read his own handwriting. The gospels and the pagan and jewish material offer no such evidence, they do not cite their sources.

      There are ancient and modern works which deal with the epistemology of testimony and the validity of second-hand knowledge I myself have a limited scope of reading, as I am only familiar with Greek and Muslim works on epistemology.

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    • Ibn Awad,

      I just want to say that the reason that I used the legal definition is that you said down below: “To prove it being an “indisputable fact” and that the Quran is false, you need eye-witness testimony as any historical method would require. Hearsay is not accepted in any court of law.”

      You mentioned the law court and so I assumed the legal meaning.

      That’s all I wanted to point out.

      Thanks for the discussion.

      Like

  14. I just saw this thread to I’ll comment.

    Many Christians think that the crucifixion is the silver bullet against Islam and like to use it. I, on the other hand, don’t use this argument to discredit the Quran but to expose the inconsistency in Islamic apologists.

    In other words when the try to bring in the Shabir Ally method of “most scholars” argument I simply show them that the view of most scholars is worthless to them unless it agrees with the Quran. This is the example that I use.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t used that argument. How can you ‘discredit’ the Quran then?

      If God tells us that it appeared to the Jews that Jesus had been crucified how would history report any differently?

      Like

    • First of all, this argument can be used to discredit the Quran, I just use it for other purposes. Many apologists I know use it and use it effectively.

      I have about 3 or 4 arguments that I use to discredit the Quran. I will be blogging about one of them very soon and how to use it properly. I don’t want to get into them here. I’ll just say one thing – No Muslim(or very few) will give up Islam for a single historical error in the Quran – ie the crucifixion. One needs to go deeper. We need to find what works.

      “If God tells us that it appeared to the Jews that Jesus had been crucified hoe would history report any differently?”

      I address this here.

      http://allanruhl.com/james-white-and-evaluating-arguments/#more-633

      Like

    • Would you like to put forward your best arguments in a guest article on Blogging Theology?

      Like

    • Could I maybe do it on my blog then you can copy and past the article?

      Like

    • Sir, you fail to prove that that the Crucifixion of Jesus is an “indisputable fact”. If you look at my previous comment, it was already stated that the Christian, Jewish and Pagan Sources are all secondary/tertiary sources reporting hearsay, not testimony. Muslims do not dispute that the Crucifixion could have been widely-held belief among early christians, and that historians agree with it because it is highly likely.

      To prove it being an “indisputable fact” and that the Quran is false, you need eye-witness testimony as any historical method would require. Hearsay is not accepted in any court of law. Otherwise it remains a likely event.
      To a non-Muslim, the Quranic rhetoric of Jesus escaping death on the cross is not implausible, and would be considered highly likely by secular historians if there were verified sightings of Jesus post-crucifixion. For a Muslim, the Quran is God’s word, and the quality of evidence opposing it is dismal.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Here’s what I’ll do, I’ll put up the blog post of Thursday of Friday. You can either link to it, copy and past it or leave it if you desire. It’s up to you.

      Like

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