In the first place, I found it quite interesting that Yahya spoke so glowingly of my writing style but wanted to make sure that this was not mistaken as an endorsement of the truth of what I say vis-à-vis Christianity and Islam.
As far as my writing goes, I praise the Lord for the extent to which it may be "something to behold", recognizing that I have no gifts or graces that I have not received, and that every good and perfect gift comes down from above, from God in whom there is neither variableness nor shadow cast by turning.
As for the observation that my “beautiful speech”, if I may be permitted to call it such, is not proof that what I say is true, I couldn’t agree more. Solomon said, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver,” but it is also possible, as Yahya is implying, to beautifully communicate falsehood. It is sort of like an ugly woman in nice clothes. Or a Surah that says Allah is God. A beautiful package does not necessarily imply contents that are commensurately beautiful or true. Fortunately, the debate I have proposed will have the benefit of letting people look at both sides and see who is speaking the truth. At this point, even before the debate, we can all rejoice that Yahya has already taken a major step forward. Surely it is not insignificant to find a Muslim, who, for all intents and purposes, agrees with Paul (1 Corinthians 2:1ff.) over Muhammad (Surah 2:23-24).
I also found his rather parochial remark that Christians have recently taken up an interest in debating focal issues such as the Trinity to be somewhat interesting. Not only have I never known a day since my conversion when I was not interested in proclaiming the glory of God’s triune nature to guilt-ridden sinners, whether Muslims or atheists or Satanists and whoever else, but Christians have been pressing this great truth in their conversations with Muslims from the present day all the way back to the Christians of Najran. I think Yahya has been living too sheltered a life in the Ummah if he thinks Christians have been reticent to speak to this issue. He also may be laboring under the assumption that the doctrine of the Trinity is beset with logical problems that make it undesirable for a Christian to get into it. I can assure Yahya, the present writer labors under no such notion. Not only do I believe the doctrine of the Trinity to be logically defensible; I believe without faith in the Triune God as the creator and redeemer of the world, that logic itself collapses as arbitrary, just like things such as love and personality collapse on Yahya’s unitarian assumptions.
This brings me to the fact that Yahya says he would be interested in debating the Trinity with me, but, besides the fact that he is a little snowed in at the moment with other issues that he has to address first – and he is right, many of us are still waiting for his response to the issue of John 1:19ff, which is already a long time coming – he has some concerns about the specific debates I have in mind. Yahya says,
“I must add my slight concern regarding the topics Anthony suggested, surely a more encompassing topic should be chosen rather than limiting a discussion on the Trinity to a certain section of the Bible. I would suggest:In the name of having a more “encompassing” topic for debate, Yahya suggests we restrict the topic to whether or not Jesus taught the Trinity, which means narrowing our focus to the four Gospels and the book of Revelation, the latter of which also contains the words of Christ, rather than looking at the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. Of course I am more than willing to debate that topic, and I would even be willing to have an even more “encompassing” debate, such as whether or not the book of Jude, which is the equivalent of a single chapter in most other books of the Bible, teaches the deity of Christ, but I think I should at least be humored first with a debate on the less encompassing teaching of the Old Testament, even though it only consists of 39 books rather than four or five, and only covers the writings of prophets that span a millennia of time rather than a handful of years.
Did Jesus teach the Trinity?
This topic should not be limited to a certain Book; logic should be allowed to come into play as well as other sources.
Is Anthony up for this particular dialogue?”
The fact is, in addition to the reasons that are discernible from my tongue-in-cheek remarks tucked away above, there are several good reasons for beginning our discussion on the Trinity with the Old Testament:
In the first place, God gave the Old Testament before the New Testament. I don’t presume, and I would like to think the same goes for Yahya, to have a better pedagogy than the all-wise God.
In the second place, our discussion is on the Trinity and not on the deity of Christ. During the Old Testament period, Jesus, according to the Christian position, was divine and not, as in the New Testament, both divine and human. There are of course many Old Testament anticipations of the incarnation, such as the many theophanies involving the Malakh Yahweh, i.e. the Messenger or Word of Yahweh, but nothing that would involve us in a discussion of the incarnation proper, complete with the state of affairs it brought about and that Muslims like to bring up in an effort to get others to share in their confusion.
Finally, it was mainly with respect to the debate between Sam and Farhan, which in Yahya’s editorial and censorious hands became a monologue, that I was stirred to issue this challenge. That debate was on the Trinity in the Old Testament. Our debate would rectify this little inequity of Yahya’s as it would require Yahya to link to my response. In fact, by refusing to debate this issue Yahya would be conceding my point that he edited that debate because he does not really believe such a position as was maintained by Farhan can successfully withstand refutation.
As for the other debates Yahya proposes, I would be more than happy to do those as well. I am prepared to meet Yahya at whatever level he wishes. First things first, however. Before graduating to a discussion of the Trinity in the New Testament, Yahya first has to go to the school of the prophets, those who prepared the way for the coming of Jesus, God’s Word made flesh. If Yahya does not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will He believe such things if He hears them directly from the Lord Jesus Himself.
I pray that the Lord Jesus will help those, like Yahya, who are slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. May our debate be a means to that end. I am looking forward to it.