Yesterday, I got back from two debates in California. James White and I both debated Muslim scholar Jalal Abualrub. Jalal was a pleasure to work with, and he even generously gave me copies of his books after our debate. Of course, these debates can become quite heated; nevertheless, I see no reason for this to strain relations between Christians and Muslims dedicated to weighing and examining evidence.
During our debate, Jalal mentioned that he didn't have enough time to present all of the information he wanted to share. I sympathize completely. "Is Muhammad a Prophet?" is a very broad topic, and a two-hour debate barely allows us to scratch the surface. Jalal's comment made me realize that such a broad topic requires a lengthier debate. With this in mind, I make the following proposal.
I understand that Arabic Christian Perspective would like to host two debates in San Diego in July. Both debates have to do with salvation. The first debate could be called something like "Can We Be Saved Through Islam?" The second debate would have to do with salvation in Christianity. Since Jalal challenged the historical evidence for Christianity during our debate, I would suggest something like "Did Jesus Die by Crucifixion?" The second debate is fairly narrow, so a standard debate would suffice. However, the debate on Islam is going to be quite broad, which means that Jalal will most likely want a longer format. I see no reason why the debate couldn't be broken up into three parts that will take place over an afternoon and an evening, giving both debaters ample time to present our material. The format could run as follows:
PART ONE--1:30 P.M.
JALAL: One-Hour Opening Statement
DAVID: One-Hour Opening Statement
BREAK UNTIL 4:30 P.M.
PART TWO--4:30 P.M.
JALAL: Twenty-Minute First Rebuttal
DAVID: Twenty-Minute First Rebuttal
JALAL: Twenty-Minute Second Rebuttal
DAVID: Twenty-Minute Second Rebuttal
BREAK UNTIL 7:00 P.M.
PART THREE--7:00 P.M.
Thirty-Minute Crossfire on the Evidence for Islam
Thirty-Minute Crossfire on the Evidence against Islam
JALAL: Ten-Minute Conclusion
DAVID: Ten-Minute Conclusion
Forty Minutes Q&A
This will certainly take far more patience and dedication from the viewers than a standard two-hour debate. However, the rewards would be tremendous. The debate would be far more thorough, and loose ends will be tied up.
I have one further thought. Jalal told me in an email before our last debate that he would rather speak second. Arabic Christian Perspective insisted that he go first, since it is standard debate procedure for the affirmative position to go first. However, if Jalal would rather go second, I will ask Arabic Christian Perspective to give him this opportunity. Though I understand why the affirmative position is supposed to go first, I also understand why a Muslim would want to get the last word on a topic so close to his heart. I have no objections to giving Jalal this opportunity.
I am notifying Jalal of this debate proposal, and I hope to post his response soon.