Please, can you refute this video, I’d really appreciate it (considering Islam).


I cannot refute a video.  I can attempt to refute particular things said in a video.  What you ask I cannot do.  In fact, a number of the things said in this video are actually true.  I certainly cannot refute true statements.  However, I can address some of the claims in this video, and I will attempt to do it quite briefly here.

First of all, the video includes statements from two very different people who are making quite different points, although they sound similar at first listen.  The first is by Shabir Ally, who I happen to know personally, as we arranged a debate between him, Shmuley Boteach and Doug Jacoby (available at under the title Judaism, Christianity, Islam: Which is the True Legacy of Abraham?).  Ally is a relatively well-educated man, but his refutations of Christianity are not very well reasoned or informed.  The other person quoted is Bart Ehrman who is an atheist unbeliever.  Unlike Ally, he is an excellent scholar of the Christian texts who definitely knows what he is talking about.

Let me talk about Ally first.  He is Muslim and his agenda is VERY different from that of Ehrman.  His job is to get us to believe that the New Testament is corrupted to the point that virtually nothing said in the New Testament has any historical validity at all.  Here is why.  The Qur’an claims not only that Jesus is not God, but that he was not crucified.  In order for Ally to win the real argument (that the Qur’an is true and the Bible is a lie) he has to be able to claim that Jesus was not crucified.  Let us accept for the sake of argument that the New Testament texts were very slightly altered through the process of copying (which, by the way is in fact true).  Here is the problem for Ally.  He has to propose that the New Testament texts are so corrupted and the knowledge of the early church was so far off that we cannot even believe that Jesus was killed by crucifixion.  Of course this is absolutely absurd as multiple non-Christian authors agree he was crucified and it is literally impossible to explain the formation and growth of Christianity in the first century unless we accept the rather obvious fact that it was general knowledge that Jesus was crucified.  Be aware, please, that the Qur’an itself acknowledges the existence of the New Testament and Muslims are commanded to believe the “Injil” which is the Qur’an’s term for the New Testament.  The Qur’an says that Jesus was a prophet and the only one who was without sin.  Yet they say he never claimed to be God and that he was not crucified.  This is a rather tall order.

It is in the light of this impossible task (for him to prove that the New Testament was corrupted to the point hat we cannot really infer any actual historical information from it at all), let us look at his arguments.  These are truly weak arguments, but the problem is that they do NOTHING to move us toward this required conclusion, even if we accept them!

He claims that none of the gospels were written by disciples of Jesus–in other words none of the writers were actual companions of Jesus during his ministry.  His arguments are weak indeed, but let us look at them.  He says that Luke was not a disciple of Jesus but of Paul.  Let me tell you that Luke would be very offended to be told that he was not a disciple of Jesus, as he believed in Jesus, not Paul. The fact is, though, that Luke was not a companion of Jesus and that he was not a first hand eyewitness of the resurrection. However, what Ally does not show is that what Luke wrote is not true.  Whether he was an eye witness is pretty much irrelevant to whether what he recorded as an historian is in fact true.  Why does one have to have followed Jesus around in order to write an account of his life which is accurate?  Does Ally have any evidence that what Luke said about Jesus is not true?  Are all biographies written by authors who did not personally know the person complete falsities?  Really?  Given that Luke surely met dozens who did in fact know Jesus very well, could he not get reliable information from them?  Luke was a very careful and accurate historian who did his own careful research, as he tells us and as his book shows us.  The fact that Luke was not one of the apostles does nothing to undermine the reliability of what he wrote.  The book was written somewhere around 63 or 64 AD when most of the original witnesses to the crucifixion and resurrection were still alive.  Is it likely that I, who am 63, cannot remember accurately what happened thirty years ago?  So, his point does nothing to establish what Ally must establish, which is that Jesus never claimed to be God or that he was not crucified. Could Luke have been mistaken about so big a point?  Not likely.

Then Ally tries to undermine Mark by saying he was a disciple of Peter. Well, it is true that Mark worked with Peter.  Fine, but how does this make his gospel inaccurate?  Mark was an acquaintance of Jesus, Paul, Peter and many other of the earliest Christians, including many of the apostle who walked with Jesus.  Is it likely that he was mistaken about what Jesus said about himself and, more importantly, about whether or not Jesus was crucified?  Do we think that Peter lied to him about what Jesus said and did, given that he would die for what he believed?  The evidence points to this Mark being someone who knew Jesus.   He wrote his gospel in about 55 AD, plus or minus ten years.  Surely he is more likely to have correct information about Jesus than Muhammad, who wrote more than five hundred years later and who never met any of the original witnesses.  Is it really believable that Muhammad is right and that Mark who knew Jesus is wrong?  Really?

Then he presses on to Matthew, claiming that “it is widely recognized that Matthew did not write it because it is based on Mark.”  First of all, there is considerable debate who wrote first, Mark or Matthew, although the majority agree it was more likely Mark.  OK, but how does this prove that the writer of Matthew was not the apostle Matthew?  If I write about a friend of mine but someone else also writes about him before I did, does this mean that I never met my friend? His argument is so weak it is practically not even an argument.  It is the consensus of second century writers that the apostle Matthew wrote this gospel.  They are far more likely to be correct than a highly biased Muslim in the 21st century.  But let us concede that it is possible (although not likely) that it was not the apostle Matthew who wrote this gospel.  Does this mean that Jesus did not claim to be God or that he was not crucified?  The extremely weak argument of Ally does literally nothing to establish what he must establish, which is that the early church did not believe Jesus was God and that he was not crucified.  Given that we have four gospels, all four of which certainly were written in the first century (and Ally will concede this to be true if pressed), and all four of which agree that Jesus was God makes Ally’s argument so weak it really barely deserves any attention at all.

I will not bother to refute what he says about John, as what I have said about the other three gospels appears to me to be sufficient.  His conclusion is that “none of the four gospels were written by a disciple of Jesus.”  What he means (although he is using intellectually manipulative words so as to confuse his hearers) is that none was written by one of the apostles.  Even if he were correct, and he almost certainly is not, then his argument does nothing to establish what he must establish, which is that these accounts of first century writers (which establish that Jesus was believed to be God by his followers in the first century and that he was crucified) are so corrupted that we cannot conclude he was crucified or believed to be God in the first century, even though these were written in the first century.

I hope this sufficiently “refutes” Ally’s arguments.

The case with Ehrman is completely different.  He points out certain very minor changes which have come into the New Testament text over the centuries.  His information is generally relatively accurate, but the conclusions we can draw from that information are this:  There were a number of copying errors which occurred over the years of copying of the New Testament.  However, we have thousands of manuscripts, including many dozens from the second century (a fact he does not bother to mention), plus thousands of quotes from the New Testament by writers in the second century which establish this fact:  The Greek New Testament we have is an accurate representative of the original writing to somewhere between 99.9 and 99.5%.  The amount of doubt in out New Testaments is so small that no important doctrine or belief of Christians are in doubt.  For example, the fact that Jesus claimed to be God is not brought into the least bit of doubt by this very small amount of doubt about the text. That Jesus was crucified is as well established as virtually any fact of ancient history.  What Ehrman has to tell us does absolutely nothing to help Ally, although this Muslim scholar does not hesitate to use the words of an atheist to support his conclusions.  Muslims loudly proclaim that the Bible is corrupt.  What they do not do is support their own conclusion, which is that the Qur’an is right and the eyewitnesses of Jesus and those who knew them are wrong about what Jesus said and did.  In fact, the Muslim conclusion is truly ludicrous in light of the evidence.

John Oakes

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