Joshua Evans: Ex-Christian Pt. I
This is the first in what I hope to be a series of Christian responses to our critics. I choose to focus on Joshua Evans’ lecture entitled “How the Bible led me to Islam” (which can be found here). Joshua himself is an ex-Methodist who used to be a youth minister and then subsequently left Christianity at age 17 (?). The previous link leads to a different video in which Joshua gives a brief explanation of his journey to Islam and his misgivings with Christianity. Not that I wish to focus on this video too much but I should mention that he is presented as an expert on Christianity so it does come off as a great surprise that he does not know what it is that Methodists actually believe. He claims that Methodists do not believe Jesus to be God incarnate nor actually part of the Holy Trinity. He repeats this claim more than once in the first seven minutes of the video. Given that Methodists have held to an orthodox understanding of the person of Jesus Christ and of the Trinity since the inception of Methodism in the 18th century, I can’t help but question his credibility (not to mention that he makes a faulty exegesis of Matt. 15:9 which, if true, would lead to Jesus claiming to be God in that particular verse—a point that as a Muslim he should be denying and not affirming).
But I digress, let’s move on to the actual video in question.
1. Noah was an Alcoholic:
Joshua begins his diatribe quite aptly enough with Genesis and specifically, with the person of Noah. He claims that according to the bible, Noah was a drunkard and infers that Noah had been a heavy drinker for the majority of his life. He explicitly questions how Noah could have built the ark given the fact that he was drunk almost constantly. He reiterates this claim that according to the bible Noah was addicted to alcohol—this, to the shock of his Muslim audience. Now it is true that after the flood, there was an incident in which Noah had become inebriated. Let me say that again, “it is true that after the flood, there was an incident in which Noah had become inebriated“. You will notice that the bible simply records one incident where Noah became inebriated (long after he had completed the ark).
Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. — Genesis 9:20-21 NIV
Notice that the text, does not mention any excessive drinking prior to this nor after this and it certainly doesn’t call him a drunkard. Perhaps Joshua simply doesn’t possess an adequate enough mastery of the English language to have been aware that drunk and drunkard aren’t always interchangeable?
drunk: being in a temporary state in which one’s physical and mental faculties are impaired by an excess of alcoholic drink
drunkard: a person who is habitually or frequently drunk.
The bible does not mince words and is not afraid of stating things as they are and if Noah truly were an alcoholic, we can be sure that it would mention this fact. Yet Joshua didn’t wish to attack the bible by what it claimed but rather chose to attack a caricature of the man it presented. He misrepresented the bible in claiming that it spoke of Noah as having been a drunkard for the majority of his life, and him having been drunk while constructing the ark. It’s quite telling that he’d rather misinform and even lie to his fellow Muslims, than to attack Christianity on its own merits—telling indeed.
2. The Cardinal Sin in Christianity is to ask Questions:
Joshua again makes a claim that I found quite astounding. He claimed that the cardinal sin in Christianity is to ask questions. I would like to know which verses from the bible he would cite to support such a belief. The bible itself is against such a claim:
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. — Acts 17:11 NIV (emphasis mine)
The above shows us that a Christian is not supposed to accept the Christian doctrine on the authority of a Preacher but that he/she is called to search the scriptures themselves and see if what is being preached is indeed true. Contrary to this, Islam in fact tells it’s adherents to avoid those hard questions:
“O ye who believe! Ask not questions about things which if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith.” (Surah 5:101-102).
“The Holy Prophet himself forbade people to ask questions …so do not try to probe into such things.” (The Meaning of the Qur’an, Maududi, vol. III, pgs. 76-77)
“The prophet was asked about things which he did not like, and when the questioner insisted, the Prophet got angry. (vol. 1, no. 92) The Prophet got angry and his cheeks or his face became red. (vol. 1, no. 91) “Allah has hated you…[for] asking too many questions.” (vol. 2, no. 555; and vol. 3, no. 591, Bukhari’s Hadith commenting on Muhammad’s reaction to hostile questioners.)
Islam is terrified of truth. It would rather that it’s adherents blindly believe than that they earnestly ask questions. Notice the words of Muhammad/Allah, “Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith.” Islam is terrified of being probed hence this admonition to the would-be-truth-seekers. Where Islam commands its believers to remain in the deepest gloom, Christianity welcomes questions and would-be-seekers. It delights in this thirst for truth and says, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Where Islam commands darkness, the “Sun of Righteousness” commands there to be light. Just as in the beginning.
3. Jesus is not God:
Perhaps the only good thing that Joshua Evans has mentioned so far is the fact that God is one. He goes on to say that from reading the Old Testament he learned that the God of Israel is one God and that he is so in a unique fashion. He then says that Jesus did not say that he was God and although there are some implicit statements that can be “twisted around” to say that Jesus claimed divinity as his own, “an implicit statement cannot override an explicit one”. I have one question. Where in the bible does Jesus explicitly say that he is not God. Can he provide all of us with the chapter and verse where Jesus says, “I am not God”. I ask this because Mr. Evans claims that an implicit statement cannot override an explicit statement—meaning that an explicit statement is to be found somewhere in scripture and as such I simply ask him for the chapter and verse where Jesus explicitly states not to be God. Now if this is not the case, why then would Mr. Evans mislead his audience into believing that there was?
On that note, if Mr. Evans needs for Jesus to have said the exact words, “I am God, worship me” in order to acknowledge that the bible teaches the divinity of Jesus (of course let’s not mention the verses where Jesus is equated to God, 1 Corinthians 2:8; called the creator of all things, John 1:3; worshiped, Luke 24:51-52; threatened to be stoned for making himself equal to God, John 10:33; demands to be honoured in the exact manner in which the Father is honoured, John 5:23; claims to have existed before his human birth, John 3:13; claims to have existed before Abraham, John 8:58-59; claims to have existed before the creation of the world, John 17:5; is described as indwelling God himself, John 1:18; claims that to have seen him is to have seen the Father, John 10:30; claims to share the exact same glory as the Father, John 17:5; claims to be able to do whatever the Father does, John 5:19; claims to have all authority in heaven and on earth, Matthew 28:18; etc.) then why does he believe that Jesus is the Messiah or the word of Allah given that in the Qur’an, Jesus never speaks the words, “I am the Messiah, follow me” or “I am the word of Allah, listen to me”? If Mr. Evans were an honest individual he would have to admit that, given his very argument, he cannot agree with the teachings of Islam on these matters seeing as Jesus never explicitly makes these statements in the entire Qur’an. Yet this was never about honesty in the first place—Mr. Evans does not possess a shred of honesty.
Furthermore Joshua Evans cites John 17:3 (“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent”) as proof that Jesus was not claiming divinity yet if one were to read just a bit further down they would find verses such as:
And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. — John 17:5 NIV
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. — John 17:20-23 ESV
It would be plain to see that Jesus quite clearly claimed to exist before the world began. Even more shocking is the fact that the Father and him shared the same glory. Can any human ever utter this? Can a prophet of God claim to have existed before the world was created and have shared in the glory of God? Or what about the fact that Jesus claims that he is in the Father, and that the Father is in him, and that they will be within each true Christian. Notice the special relationship Jesus shares with the Father. He is in the Father and the Father is within him—something that is not true of any other believer. The only way believers share in this relationship is by having them live within the believer and not the believer within them. It is ironic that Mr. Evans claims that when not considering the context of the text, one can get away with the belief that Jesus claimed divinity when actually the divinity of Jesus is proved by truly studying the text fairly. Even more telling is the fact that Joshua Evans didn’t even pretend to give a context to his quoting of scripture (nor proper chapter and verses) but then had no qualms in warning his Muslim audience to the effect that Christians do this very thing. The hypocrisy is almost nauseating.