Debating Debate

Debate-PhotoIn my opinion Steve Camp is quite mistaken here in the stance he takes regarding debate with unbelievers. He wrote on his Facebook page:

ITS AN EFFORT IN FUTILITY TO DEBATE NONBELIEVERS, ESPECIALLY MUSLIMS, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” – 1 Cor 2:1-2. It’s the gospel … that any nonbeliever needs to hear (Mt 16:24-26; Acts 17:1-3, 17-39; Rom 10:9-10, 15:20-21; 2 Cor 4:5-6; Eph 2:8-9; 1 Pt 3:15). When witnessing of your faith in Jesus do not try and argue someone into believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, but give a reason for the hope that is in you. And do so with gentleness and respect. Amen?


Here is Dr. James White’s response:

Sorry, Steve, no amens from the man you are talking about. Not after I looked into the face of a young man after the debate at Kensington Temple in London Friday evening and heard him say, “Three years ago I was a Muslim, but through the instrumentality of your debates, I have come to faith in Jesus Christ, and your work continues to strengthen my faith.” Not after talking to Muslims afterward who said, “You are consistent—you clearly try to represent us accurately. You make me think.” Not after talking to many young people excited about their faith and emboldened to go out and proclaim the gospel as a result. No, you can have your quiet, far-away-from-the-frontlines amens, but I, and those others, won’t be joining the chorus.

I have no idea why you have changed your position so radically over the past decade or so, Steve. But I would like to challenge your biblical argumentation, as brief as it was.
First, you cite 1 Corinthians 2:14-16, as if this text indicates it is “futility to debate…Muslims” on essential Christian doctrine. Could you explain the relevance of the text? You well know, Steve, that I do not believe I can argue anyone into the kingdom of God. Unless the Spirit takes out the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh, there can be no salvation. So I suppose if you were talking about an Arminian debater pleading with a Muslim to “change their mind” or something of the sort, maybe I could see some kind of application. But most of the folks reading your words know who I am, and well know I do not believe that my arguments are going to somehow force anyone, including my Muslim debate opponent, into capitulation to the lordship of Christ.

But how do you come to the conclusion that it is “futility” to proclaim the gospel to Muslims? You have, in the past, intimated that the gospel is not central to our debates. Those who attend them, and listen to them, know differently. The gospel is always there, even when the topic is on another aspect of the Christian/Muslim conflict. So when I defend the Trinity, or the resurrection, or biblical reliability to Muslims—you do not think the Spirit of God can use this in drawing the elect to the Savior? There is no place for removing stumbling blocks in the life of those in whom the Spirit of God is working? Are you sure that is what Paul was addressing?

You boldly assert that these debates “do not further the kingdom of God nor can it bring someone to salvation.” I do not know what has caused you to turn against Christian apologetics, but it is hard not to come to the conclusion that you have. When believers are emboldened and encouraged, this does not further the kingdom of God? When the Lordship of Jesus Christ is proclaimed over all mankind, this does not further the kingdom of God? When falsehoods raised against the faith are refuted and shown to be empty, this does not further the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is only furthered in the singular repetition of the Four Spiritual Laws? Surely you do not believe such things.

Upon what basis do you decide to limit the actions of the Spirit of God as to how He can bring His elect to salvation? Since I know of many who have, in fact, experienced salvation for whom the means of debates was vital, I simply have to say your assertion flies in the face of reality. But more importantly, it flies in the face of apostolic example as well. When Paul went into the synagogue and ????????? ??? ????????????? (17:3), do you think there was no opposition, no interaction, just one-sided proclamation? Notice that ????? ?? ????? ??????????—but not all. Had Paul wasted his time with the others? Surely not. And have you ever pondered why Luke used the imperfect when he wrote, ??? ???????? ??????? ?? ????????? ??? ??????? (18:4)? And pray tell, Steve: would you have taken to Facebook to rebuke Apollos. You know the text:

And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts 18:27–28)

Evidently, Christians can be encouraged by a powerful refutation of error and opposition, even when there is no mention of a positive “gospel response” upon the part of those thusly refuted! Have you considered this in coming to your dogmatic conclusion that God simply cannot use apologetics to bring people to faith?

You finished your statement by refuting what you had said before—at least in the obvious context of taking a shot at me and the wonderful evening of testimony at Kensington Temple (or even the debate a few days earlier at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa). Everyone knows I do not believe I can argue anyone into the kingdom, and everyone knows I believe firmly in obeying the actual command of Peter in the key apologetics text, which is not the apologia part—it is the ?????? ?? ??? ??????? ???????? part. And my presentation in both places was in perfect harmony with that text. If you think otherwise, I invite you to provide examples from a careful review of either/both debates where I did not seek to fulfill that command. Until then, I invite you to reconsider your opposition to apologetic ministry to Muslims, and to realize that your insistence that the gospel is not being proclaimed in these events is, to put it quite bluntly, blatantly untrue, contradictory to the documented evidence, and irresponsible.

Are the Quran/Bible Books of Peace? (Debates)

Debate: Is the Quran a Book of Peace? Shabir Ally (Muslim) vs. David Wood (Christian)

Is the Quran a book of peace? Is Islam a religion of peace? Did Muhammad preach a message of peace and tolerance? In this debate, Shabir Ally (Muslim) and David Wood (Christian) scrutinize a variety of Quran verses to determine whether the Islam commands Muslims to live in peace with unbelievers.

Is the Bible a book of peace? Christians point to Jesus’ commands to “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” to prove that Christianity is a religion of peace. However, the Bible also contains reports of Joshua invading the land of Canaan, Saul fighting the Amalekites, etc. So what’s the Biblical position on peace and violence? In this debate, David Wood and Shabir Ally go through the text to get to the truth.