Thanks Abdullah. It was a pleasure to meet you and consider your points.
Here are my post debate comments for what I was not able to cover during the debate. They are brief and not in any particular order.
1. Dialects of the Qur'an. Abdullah raised the point that the Qur'an was revealed in various dialects, however the hadith on this has Umar bin Al-Khattab and Hisham bin Hakim arguing over how to recite the Qur'an and these men were from the same tribe and therefore had the same dialect.
Narrated Umar bin Al-Khattab: I heard Hisham bin Hakim reciting Surat Al-Furqan during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle and I listened to his recitation and noticed that he recited in several different ways which Allah's Apostle had not taught me. I was about to jump over him during his prayer, but I controlled my temper and when he had completed his prayer, I put his upper garment around his neck and seized him by it and said, "Who taught you this Surat which I heard you reciting ?" He replied, "Allah's Apostle taught it to me". I said, "You have told a lie, for Allah's Apostle taught it to me in a different way from yours". So I dragged him to Allah's Apostle and said, "I heard this person reciting Surat Al-Furqan in a way which you haven't taught me!". On that Allah's Apostle said, "Release him (Umar) recite, O Hisham!" Then he recited in the same way I heard him reciting. Then Allah's Apostle said, "It was revealed in this way", and added, "Recite, O Umar", I recited it as he had taught me. Allah's Apostle then said, "It was revealed in this way. This Qur'an has been revealed to be recited in seven different ways, so recite of it whichever is easier for you." (Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 514, Khan)The seven ahruf are not dialects.
2. Logos a Greek Idea? It is true that Greek philosophy has the concept of the logos or word, but so too does the Torah, Prophets and Psalms where the word of God is often spoken about as the means by which God interacts with his creation. The Qur'an also has this idea. John 1 sources itself to the Genesis 1 concept of the word.
3. Forgiveness in the Torah? Abdullah referred to a few verses (eg. Ezekiel 18:20-22) to show that repentance is all that is required for forgiveness. This is not correct because these verses are not part of the Qur'an; their context is the Torah which says that repentance must be accompanied by a sacrifice. You cannot impose a Qur'anic context on these verses.
4. Who is the servant of Isaiah 53?
1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?Abdullah said that the nation Israel is the servant of this chapter not an individual. Here is why I disagree: Firstly, throughout the chapter the individual is contrasted to the nation, eg. "He" the servant, "Us" the people (see v. 4, 5, 7, 11) "for the transgression of my people he was stricken." Secondly, this servant is innocent (v. 9 & 11) and the book of Isaiah is quite clear that the nation of Israel is guilty. This servant does not suffer for his own sins but the sins of others. If the servant was national sinful Israel then they would be suffering for their own sins. Thirdly, Isaiah 49:1-6 shows that this servant is the true sinless Israel, the one who fulfills the destiny of Israel. Just as Israel was originally one man who became a nation so now this one man will represent and fulfill the nation.
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53, NIV)
Regarding "his offspring" (v. 10) the context indicates that these are not normal offspring because they come from a man who dies (v. 9) and is raised to life again (v. 11). This is resurrection offspring. And it is the same with "divide the spoils" this is simply showing that what the servant does he does for others.
5. Regarding Isaiah 9, it was said that because it refers to the "Everlasting Father" it cannot refer to Jesus. However, the concept of the king of Israel being called father of the city is in 22:20-21 and so this is another title for the Messiah.
6. Is the Bible just the work of man's hands? Abdullah referred to these examples to show the Bible is simply the work of men:
Firstly, Deuteronomy 34:5-12 records Moses death therefore Moses could not have written it therefore Moses did not write all of the Torah in the Bible. This is a straw man argument because the Bible does not say that only Moses wrote the Torah. The Torah ends with Joshua being commissioned as a prophet and we read that he was involved in the production of the Torah:
And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. (Joshua 24:26, NIV)It is the same with the Gospel. When Christians say the Gospel of Jesus we are not saying that he wrote it.
Secondly, Abdullah referred to where Luke says:
Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, (Luke 1:3, NIV)Abdullah suggested that since it was Luke's idea to write it is not the word of God. However, the same is true of the Qur'an:
... Therefore I (Umar) suggest, you (Abu Bakr) order that the Qur'an be collected." I said to 'Umar, "How can you do something which Allah's Apostle did not do?" 'Umar said, "By Allah, that is a good project. " ... (Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 509, Khan)The Qur'an was collected from its sources because of a human "suggestion" not a divine word. All books have a human history. If they did not they would not be part of this world.
To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. (1 Corinthians 7:12, NIV)Abdullah suggested that this is not the word of God but only Paul. This is not true because Paul is an apostle. When he says "I, not the Lord" he is giving a new word from God for a context that Jesus did not address.
7. God is not the God of confusion. One of Abdullah's criteria for truth was that it must not be confusing, but this is a highly selective method. Things I thought were not confusing he thought were. Theology requires a lot of thinking. How do you explain God's transcendence and his immanence? How do you explain God's sovereignty over all events and human responsibility? Both Christians and Muslims have a range of answers to these truths yet we still hold on to them. It takes effort to understand many aspects of God. This is not confusion but learning.
8. In the question time a man asked about Psalm 110 and David saying "Yahweh said to my Lord" and asked who this David's lord is? The answer was that it is a "grammatical shift" and it is referring to David himself. The other examples of this were given as Psalm 72 and 2 Samuel 22:51. However in neither of these verses does David say "My Lord"; he simply speaks of the king, therefore the verses to do support the point. As the questioner pointed out the rest of the Psalm makes it clear that David's lord is not David.
9. God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Number 23:19, also 1 Samuel 15:29, Hosea 11:9)
These verses were referred to to show that God cannot be a man, however, these verses are contrasting the lying aspect of man to the truthful nature of God. They are not discussing the topic we were considering but a different topic.
10. In question time a Muslim gentleman asked me about prophecies of a prophet to come from the book of Enoch. After the debate we spoke and I read the reference. It was actually a reference in Enoch to the book of Daniel about the "little horn" and so was not about a coming prophet.