On the 25th of July, James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries spent several minutes on his Dividing Line program (minutes 34 to 41) discussing my article concerning the Christian mandate to believe in the New Testament as a scripture. In the entire 7 minutes that I listened to his criticisms leveled against what I wrote – I found him to be very inconsistent in his logic, allow me to explain. He began his response to me, by appealing to the genetic fallacy, he began by assuming that my article was based on an Islamic theological perspective (of which I made no such claim), rather than understanding it to be a historical critique of the development of the New Testament into a scripture – based on Christian theological beliefs which I have outlined further below.
Assuming you’ve read the article, James agreed with points 1 – 2, but then threw a wrench into the mix. He inferred that I believed (if I were to be consistent that is) in the Jewish Testament (Tanach) to be true and that Christ validated it. To the contrary, I was referring to the Christian belief in my critique of Christian beliefs that this is what you, Mr. White and the majority of Christendom holds to. I find it quite strange that you find it wholly impossible that I can’t critique Christianity for what it is, for what Christians themselves claim of it – without believing in it myself. To be consistent, in using your logic, wouldn’t you then have to believe in Islam to criticize it or can’t you simply criticize it for what it says about itself? This therefore, was my line of reasoning – taking Christianity by its tenets and logically critiquing it thereon.
Interestingly, Mr. White found it strange that I mentioned my points were maxims, i.e. extant facts that needed no evidence, indeed I wrote my article assuming some study of the New Testament textual history was done by the Christians who visit this page. The point however, is that in your very response to me, you also assumed your points to be axioms, hence why yourself didn’t prove (cite, or even reference) any of the arguments’ evidences you made against my points – mere lip service does not cut it, that is if we are to be consistent. Just to ensure we’re on the same page, it is true that:
- Christians adhere to the Old Testament of the Jews (I am not specifying which sect of Judaism or of quasi-Judaism).
- Christians believe Christ adhered to, and preached according to the Old Testament.
These are the two foundational premises (axioms mind you), which my article was based upon. These points being what James and Christians generally must believe. The points of mine, which he vehemently disagreed with are as follows:
The only scripture which existed after Christ’s time during the time of the disciples was the Jewish (Old) Testament.
If we are to be honest, and I assume this is the case of Mr. White, then he should concede to the fact that there was no New Testament during the time directly at, or following Christ’s ascension – at the very earliest, we assume that Paul would have mentioned them (47 CE – 65 CE) in his epistles. Since he did not, then they were not written until atleast 65 CE (the time of his death). Therefore during Christ’s time, there was no (synoptical) Gospel being written.
The only scripture which existed after Christ’s time during the time of the presbyters was the Jewish (Old) Testament.
The only scripture which existed after Christ’s time during the time of the patristics was the Jewish (Old) Testament.
His response to these particular points (that the writings did exist during this period), foregoes one key phrase mentioned in my statement, that is the phrase, ‘only scripture‘. The majority of Christendom, given the 10’s of sects which existed at this period in time (see the Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis), did not all have consensus on what was scripture beyond the Jewish Old Testament – each group had their own apostles, their own Christologies, their own gospels and narratives, etc. Sure, to say that one or two groups took these writings at that time as authoritative, would be accurate. However, to say Christendom as a whole, compared to the Christian world at the time of the New Testament’s canonization (393 & 397 CE), accepted it on the same identical levels – that would be abject dishonesty. Now, if you define scripture as what a few groups believed in, as opposed to what is scripture contemporarily, then the writings of the other heretical sects must also be considered scripture by you – that is, if you are to be consistent. Concerning the final point:
At no point in the above time periods, was it ever mandatory to believe in a Gospel to be a believer in the Messiah.
James claimed that this was wrong, but he provided no evidence to the contrary. Now, it is quite obvious to all that I’m speaking of the Gospel textually, the Gospel which are the writings of others to whom we cannot trace to Christ himself, but to decades after his mission. My points therefore, are logically and historically accurate. The litmus test is clear – if the disciples and the generation of believers directly following them had no need for a ‘New Testament‘ to be considered ‘true believers of Christ‘, why does that mandate exist today? Perhaps James would love to explain why he’s following the decision of the Roman Catholic Church post both the Carthaginian (393 & 397 CE) councils? I had hoped that as one who argues against the relics of the Church’s beliefs, that he would be able to justify his beliefs about a book made necessary to be believed in by those very persons which he opposes – that is assuming he is to be consistent.
- To AO Min: My pen name is Ijaz Ahmad and not Ijaz Muhammad as your blog incorrectly cited me.