Contend Earnestly: James White vs Shabir Ally Debate

Saturday, October 20, 2007

James White vs Shabir Ally Debate

This last Friday night I had the pleasure of going to an intellectual, yet faithful and passionate debate on the topic of, "Was Jesus Christ Crucified as a Willing Sacrifice For the Sins of God's People?" The participants were James White presenting the affirmative and Shabir Ally the negative.

As we came to the debate the first thing that struck me was the fact that it was like going to the airport where we could not have bags, my wife had to take her purse back to the car and we also had to check our coats at the door. What Dr. White and the crew forgot is where they were...Seattle. No one really cares (except for a few) up here what is going on, so no one's life was going to be in danger. I had heard that Mr. Ally was a "big shot" in the Muslim circles so I was thinking that we would have a pretty big turn out from the Islamic faith to hear this man demean everything that the Christian faith is all about, but the opposite came about as only 5, from my count, were devout Muslims in the crowd.

I really didn't know what to expect from this debate or from Shabir Ally. I guess I have to be honest, I expected a more forceful and angry Muslim than we got from Mr. Ally, and for that I commend this gentleman. He was very calm, presented his arguments with care, and never once showed that he was irritated in any way.

I knew that coming into the debate that I was going to be writing a post on the subject so I tried to come in with an open mind about things, even though we know that my Christian presuppositions will always take over.

Dr. White presented, as usual, very good evidence from the New Testament, early Christian writings and then the historical record of the truth of affirming the statement that indeed, Christ died willingly as a sacrifice. Not only did White purport the evidence in the opening but also tried to debunk some arguments that he knew his opponent would try and bring into play in his opening. Very well done in my view.

What we then found from Shabir Ally was more of an attack using other heretics, such as some open theists, for the arguments in the opposition when it came to the negative viewpoint of the atonement and sacrifice. This actually came to me as a surprise. It seemed as though Shabir was very unprepared for the debate and this really started to show during the cross examination.

Dr. White pleaded with Mr. Ally to use the same examination with the New Testament that he would with the Koran. Because the arguments that were presented by Mr. Ally were no more than unevolved, undocumented theories and fictions against the New Testament, instead of trying to just simply prove or exegete the Scriptures differently than Dr. White was presenting.

Mr. Ally sure knew his stuff when it came to the Koran and the historical ramifications of the Bible, but knew very little (this is no understatement) about the atonement of Christ and its portrayal when dealing with the Old Testament affirmations of the crucifixion to come.

So, instead of crossing Dr. White about the topic at hand, he started to bring up old topics from their past debates. He tried to bring suspicion to the biblical record by trying to accuse it of different supposed contradictions, but Dr. White showed each one to be found wanting. Dr. White even exclaimed at one point: I don't know what this has to do with the topic at hand.

In the end, the debate was very one sided and the side presented by Mr. Ally continued to be very circular in reasoning and doubt, and was pointed out so by Dr. White numerous times without a clear response. Mr. Ally continued put up smoke screens by long dissertations on the Koran so the original question would be lost.

For me, this wasn't a debate on the topic at hand. Very little time was spent on what I found to be the key of the debate and that was, "Did Christ WILLINGLY die?" Dr. White was so busy chasing the trails that Mr. Ally threw him down, he didn't get to spend a whole lot of time on this intricate part of the debate. I didn't feel as though this was Dr. White's fault but was in actuality the goal of Mr. Ally. The strongest parts of the debate came when Dr. White presented his two prepared statements as they were on target and on topic.

The climax, in my mind, happened in the end, when Dr. White was having to defend Paul as a true disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. It came about when Dr. White was bringing forth his concluding argument and quoted this verse:

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me

Galatians 2:20

I don't know if Dr. White knows this, but in my view this is when the Spirit spoke. His voice inflection was perfect, his countenance seemed to be in the presence of the Holy One, and it seemed with a tear in his eye, spoke with authority and followed up with: this was the very personal reflection of a true disciple of Christ, not a tyrant. (very loose quote)

I am happy to say that Dr. White is one that I continue to enjoy listening to and learning from. He seemed to have the right heart for this debate. It was not an empty attempt to bring forth wisdom, but true strife to say as Paul did:

Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.
For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.
Romans 10:1,2


Anonymous said...

Hey man-- hope all is well with you-- I was just over at alpha and omega, reading White's summary of the debate before I came over here, not even knowing that you attended--

I would love to attend one of his debates sometime-

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report. It seems that White did well and Ally didn't sting like a bee but droned on and on instead.

Anonymous said...

I am very disturbed for I found Shabir Ally's arguments more reasonable ...may our faith be right

Seth McBee said...

Sorry you found his arguments to be more reasonable. Ally's arguments were actually off target and pretty shallow. This doesn't prove that Islam is wrong, although it is, but Ally's strong point is not debating on the point presented.

And when you say, "may our faith be right" both of us can't be of is right and one of us is wrong. Period.

I think you know which one I believe is right...:)

Anonymous said...

Hi.. I watched d debate few times already and it seem to me the way of Dr. White debating other people is kind of childish eventhough he is full of knowledge.They r debating about Jesus and the bible of course but Dr.White when he have no other point left, he started to attack Quran, Uthman and stuff..wayyy off topic.and he repeat d same thing for a few times.and answering it is a waste of time for Shabir..imagine,u and i are arguing about Is Eating Pork Unhealthy?..i say its not good, and blabla and finally u have no other point left and say,well ur grandfather ate pork also..??? its related but off topic and its childish.((."He seems to have an arrogance that shows that he is himself to be infallible, while opponents are just not with it. In order to distract attention from the errors that he is shown, he will often go on an ad-hominem attack mode, divert attention, and thus belittle his opponents.")).this is the attitude of Dr.James white..I quote this from "James White's Errors and Misrepresentations on Sola Scriptura" article...and sorry for my english.i hope u understand it.

Seth McBee said...

Thank you so much for your comment. I wrote this over 2 years ago and would agree with your comment completely...

If you would like to dialogue any, please don't hesitate to email me at smcbee at mcbeeadvisors dot com

I hope you are well.


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