Wednesday, February 15, 2012

James White, Islam, Central Baptist Seminary, and the MacDonald Lectures: Brief Reflections

Unlike the title, I hope that this will be brief.

I am a regular listener to Dr. White’s radio-ish program (I don’t think he’s on any actual radio stations, but it’s a radio talk-show type format), the Dividing Line and so I was very familiar with much of the content of Dr. White’s lectures. To be fair, of the four different times he spoke (a total of six sessions over three days), I was able to make it to the four sessions held on Monday and Tuesday morning. So if there was other content in the two evening sessions, I will be able to benefit from that when I can download and listen to them.

Because of my familiarity with Dr. White’s ministry, I was familiar with many of the individuals he cited or showed video of and so it was very easy for me to stick with him in his lecture. Even though much of his content wasn’t new to me, it was very beneficial to have it presented in the lecture format that it was because it was a streamlined presentation that allowed the hours of uninterrupted time to address one subject. And other than the many good reminders, re-enforcements, and encouragements that greatly blessed me, I was really struck with one illustration that Dr. White brought out.

One of the apologetic angles that he uses involves examining what the Qur’an says about Christianity – specifically the doctrines of the Trinity and the resurrection – and compares it to what Christians actually believe, both now and during the time when the Qur’an was written. His basic argument is that if the author of the Qur’an is God, then God should have no trouble correctly articulating and refuting what Christians actually believe. But since the Qur’an depicts the Christian doctrine of the Trinity as being composed of Allah, Jesus, and Mary, this shows that its author didn’t know what the doctrine of the Trinity is. And therefore, this should – at the very least – cause the contemplative Muslim to ask questions related to the inspiration of the Qur’an.

This part of the argument was not new, but again it was good to see and hear it in a fuller way. However, I’m not sure if this was an offhand reference or part of the normal presentation, but Dr. White made a comparison to a Biblical “here’s what they believe, but here’s why what we believe is better” argument. That is the argument found in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews is an argument for the supremecy of Jesus, His priesthood and His sacrifice, and a case for why Christians should not to revert back to the Jewish sacrificial system. Whether someone agrees with the conclusions that are found in Hebrews is not the point (at least right now in this article), the point is that the author of the book of Hebrews understood and accurately described the religious sacrificial and priestly system of Judaism. And if one holy book claiming to be from God can accurately represent a competing false religious system while another cannot. That makes the insufficient and inaccurate information about the Trinity that is found in the Qur’an more troubling for the thoughtful reader.

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