A letter: On the Craig/Ismail debate (Identifying Jesus: Is He Man, or Both Man and God?)

Dear Udo,

I want to compliment you and your Church in putting up a very good program on the 8. 5. 2010 at the Jubilee. The topic is an important one for Christian Muslims and I compliment you for it.

I took a few friends [muslim and Christians] with me to the debate. The atmosphere and the organising was up to mark. However i want to say the following with respect and constructive criticism.

1.    The speakers spoke well, but the content between both speakers was substantially in favour of Mr. Ismail. Let me explain why I say this. Dr. Craig, with all his degrees was no match for his opponent as he gave nothing in facts to back up what he set out to prove. When one disects his speech, one finds that it was bland, totally general, and no real meat behind the proof that he had to present. On the other hand, Mr. Ismail was really quoting facts from the Bible, showing evidence and proving what he was saying. That is what wins debates. Not generalisations.

2.  Dr. Craig was the better in talking (accent and style) than Mr. Ismail, but when one analysis why, one can see that Mr. Ismail had so much to say that he was pressed for time and wanted to give out as much as possible in that space of time. Also he gave an excellent account of himself in the Q & A, where again Dr Craig lagged behind. I was very disappointed in his replies as well.

3.   Again I have to say that for Dr. Craig, as a professional debater he was BLATANTLY RUDE to the muslim audience by repremanding them, when both sides were clapping and applauding their respective candidate. My feeling is that he knew that he had given a poor presentation and his opponent had beaten him with his arguements and responses. Even the MC was impressed with Mr. Ismail, as he ought to have because he is/was a judge and could see the evidence of the arguements.

4.  In my humble opinion, this was a disaster for Dr. Craig, for his reputation as well as his presentation.  We need someone much much better to debate with Mr. Ismail.

Kind regards


Dear M

Thank you for your letter and compliments, I really appreciate it. I do, however, disagree with every single aspect of your assessment of the debate itself. The nature of a debate is very limited and it would be unfortunate to think that a debater has won a debate because he tried to bombard his opponent with information or because his opponent didn’t respond to all he has said in minute detail. But, of course, you are entitled to your opinion as I am to mine.

Again, thank you for your attendance and your feedback!




I just read the opinions of ‘M’, and have to agree with you to disagree with his every single assessment.  I find his experience of the debate quite surprising (for want of a better word), as it was actually Mr Ismail who seemed to have very little substance on offer in his arguments.  Dr Craig, on the other hand, gave a very well reasoned defense of the topic at hand, and often gave solid facts to back up his arguments.  He even went out of his way to use only those passages which even hard-core skeptics believe to be early in origin and spoken by the authentic Jesus.  Mr Ismail, on the other hand, displayed fuzzy logic and more often than not went outside the boundaries of the actual debating point.

Let’s take one of Mr Ismail’s arguments – why did Jesus not once tell the Jews that He was God, and that they were supposed to worship Him.  Hmm…very interesting question, not so?  Especially given that the NT tells us that Jesus deliberately chose to speak mostly in parables.  (And even His parables point to Him being the Son of God, as Dr Craig eloquently pointed out!) He hardly even told His Jewish audience that He was even as much as Messiah!  By Mr Ismail’s logic, then, Jesus could not have been Messiah…yet His identity as Al-Masih (Messiah) is something every Muslim in the world will gladly affirm.  Curiously, Jesus told His contemporaries that He was the Son of the Blessed One.  He accepted worship.  Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’, and Jesus did not reproach him, but implicitly affirmed it by answering:  “Do you believe because you have seen Me, Thomas?”

The fact of the matter is that Jesus was very careful about revealing His identity to anyone.  Demons shouted that he was the Son of God, and He commanded them to be still.  It was not yet the appointed time.  He knew that if people believed Him to be Messiah, they would want to make Him king by political force.  And if He went around telling people He was God, how could they understand this?  They had to come to this profound conviction gradually, as piece by piece of the jigsaw puzzle began to fall in place.  Much more could be said on this important topic, but at this point it is simply important to grasp that there was much more to it than Muslims would care to think.

To me, the most important point is this:  The early church fathers were unanimous in their belief that Jesus was the Son of God, and even very God of very God.  If Jesus was merely a man, why did He say such amazing things about Himself?  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.”  “I am the bread of life.”  “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in Me will never die.”  “Before Abraham was born, I AM.”  Muslims would like to believe we don’t have the original words of Jesus, yet the Quran tells us in no uncertain terms that the Injil (New Testament) is a light and a guidance unto men, and was inspired by Allah.  Any Muslims who had questions about it could simply ask the People of the Book (the Christians).  It is not once alluded that the Injil had become corrupted, but (at most) a charge is made that some had twisted its meaning with their tongues.  It is simple, then…any Muslim who would like to know what Allah had revealed in the Injil can just pick up a New Testament, and see for himself.  After all, as the Quran says, ‘Who can change the words of Allah?’  Certainly not any man.

All in all, Dr Craig absolutely destroyed Mr Ismail’s arguments.  The Muslims in the crowd were not just clapping hands, as M would have us believe, but were very vocal, and had to be silenced for order to remain.  I would say this if the Christians in the crowd had behaved similarly, too.

Can’t write much longer, just had to share my opinion.  The name of Jesus be praised forevermore!


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