Wednesday, 17 February 2016

South African Christian-Muslim Apologetics Review Yusuf Bux and Rudoplh Boshoff (Ad Lucem)

From a personal point of view, as somebody who is accustomed to internet debates this debate is really slow paced and far too long for a standard internet audience - which, ironically, I think I've mirrored in this debate review!

I have spoken to Yusuf Bux and he gave me a brief overview of the audience landscape in South Africa, thus I can understand why SA debates have such a structure. The debate has to be run longer and at a slower pace if folk are unfamiliar with apologetics and/or have English as a secondary language. The sad reality for folk in SA; this does impact on the interest they are able to generate on the internet.

One thing I liked about this debate is the fact the embrace and the gift-giving seemed genuine. NOT saying others aren't :) but this left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. I doubt both have been to acting school either. Well done gentlemen!

Sarting with Yusuf Bux

Yusuf Bux clearly has public speaking skills, he offered a clear presentation teaching pure Abrahamic monotheism (Tawhid) is the same basic concept as what the Shema teaches. Bux draws upon Mark 12 to get the message across that Jesus did not depart from Tawhid (thus did not teach a Trinity idea)

Mark 12:29 Jesus spoke these words of the Shema according to Mark:

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a]

To help explain Tawhid Bux references Surah Ikhlas and the Islamic declaration of faith. Yusuf Bux states the Trinity contradicts monotheism.

On Pastor Rudolph P Boshoff

I think he quotes Thabiti Anyabwile but labels him as a "she". Perhaps he was referencing somebody else with a similar sounding name. Pastor Rudolph should double-check that. You see, if this was one of those mean-spirited and/or pride-filled Protestant Christian apologists I would have made a bigger deal out of this. As it's Pastor Boshoff, who seems like a respectful and friendly individual, there's no need as he does not need his nose honked metaphorically (something for the obnoxious Protestant Christian apologists to learn - act like a brat and you may not be afforded the same grace as those who are more humble and respectful).

Rudolph Boshoff's opening salvo included the old love argument (arrrgggghhhh this is such an annoying and fallacious argument - I really wish Trinitarian Christian apologists would stop using it). Boshoff argues God needs the creation to be Loving as opposed to idea of God in the doctrine of the Trinity which posits a community in the 'Godhead'. Look, this is effectively a polytheistic argument which is oft-repeated in evangelical apologetics circles - I've rebuked Jonathan McLatchie and Ravi Zacharias for this argument before. Clearly this argument is in some old Christian missionary tome which many Triniatarian Christians are drawing from. Would love to know where this argument originally came from, was it CS Lewis?

For those who want to know why it's such a fallacious argument, here's the response to Ravi Zacharias when he used the argument:

Negative theology

Rudolph Boshoff accuses Yusuf Bux of negative theology. This is the act of describing God by mentioning what He is not. This is unfair as Bux gave positive descriptions and outlined attributes of God. In fact, all theologians from the Abrahamic faiths engage in some negative theology by mentioning what He is not. It just aids understanding - it's a teaching tool. Oh for the hardcore - the fancy word for this is 'apophatic theology'

Functional subordination

Rudolph Boshoff appeals to the idea of functional subordination within his Trinity theory. He believes each member of the Trinity concept has different tasks; the Father is the ultimate source and cause of the universe. Here are Boshoff's texts and assertions which he leans on to support the functional subordination theory:

But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life. [1 Cor 8:6]

[Revelation 4:11] "You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased."

-Son is the agent that does the working [see 1 Cor 8:6 above]

-Holy Spirit is the means by the which the Father creates and maintains the universe and delivers revelation.

-Difference in function does not mean a difference in nature.

Oddly, one of the texts which Boshoff appeals to actually refute the ideas of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus. 1 Cor 8:6 clearly states the Father is the only God. Related to this is John 17:3 which explicitly teaches Jesus is not the true God but rather was sent by God (i.e. was a Prophet). Incidentally, this is what Bart Ehrman believes Jesus taught.

A quick way to refute the idea of functional subordination is to mention the fact the New Testament teaches Jesus and the Holy Spirit did not know the Hour, only the Father knows the Hour according to Mark 13:32. Ijaz Ahmad of Calling Christians has pointed out to Pastor Boshoff on an FB discussion recently - knowledge is related to ontology more so than function and it's an attribute of God thus to appeal to the idea of 'functional subordination' to explain away Jesus' lack of knowledge is invalid. Here's a video to help you understand two different ways in which Trinitarian Christian apologists try to respond to Jesus' lack of knowledge of the Hour.

Old Testament and the Incarnation idea?

Pastor rattles off a few references which he states teach God will be coming down. This first one is obviously poetic language which is in the past tense so it militates against the Trinity theology

10“He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With thick darkness under His feet.

11“And He rode on a cherub and flew;
And He appeared on the wings of the wind.

12“And He made darkness canopies around Him,
A mass of waters, thick clouds of the sky. [2 Samuel 22:10]

Pastor Boshoff also cites

They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God. [Exodus 29:45-46].

Pastor Boshoff would do well to look at Henry's commentary on this and see it's not something taken literally:

That he would reside among them as God in covenant with them, and would give them sure and comfortable tokens of his peculiar favour to them, and his special presence with them (Exod. 29:45,46): I will dwell among the children of Israel. Note, Where God sets up the tabernacle of his ordinances he will himself dwell. Lo, I am with you always, Matt. 28:20. Those that abide in God’s house shall have God to abide with them. I will be their God, and they shall know that I am so. Note, Those are truly happy that have a covenant-interest in God as theirs and the comfortable evidence of that interest. If we have this, we have enough, and need no more to make us happy.

Prof. Larry Hurtado

Rudolph Boshoff appeals to Larry Hurtado in saying Jesus was worshipped by early Christians. Yes but this only came about AFTER Jesus' ministry. Larry Hurtado, as we have seen recently demonstrated in video format, does not believe Jesus taught he was God and nor did he ask others to worship him. says he was worshipped by early followers

Complexity and Simplicity

Chalk and cheese. Yusuf Bux was simple and understandable. Rudolph Boshoff was talking about complex theories which is part of the baggage of a Trinity idea. To be honest, I'm not too sure why Boshoff went into ideas such as functional subordination so early, not to mention his use of theological terminology. Admittedly, I don't know the make-up of the audience but for the regular bloke, a lot of Boshoff's presentation would have flown over his head.

What's more appealing to one's mind, Yusuf Bux's simplicity and clarity or Rudolph Boshoff's complex and confusing theories?

Arguments Against

Yusuf Bux uses Biblical text to oppose Boshoff's Trinity idea. He cites Deut 6:4 (the Shema) while adding it's also taught in Mark 12:29 and Matt 4:10 by Jesus thus showing Jesus' theology is in contradiction with the Trinity idea.

There'a brief focus on the word Echad which means one. Bux asserts it's similar to Ahad (Arabic) and that there's no 3 in 1 mentioned in the Shema. IIRC Boshoff mentioned the word Echad (f somebody knows the timeline let me know as I may make a video on it). I don't recall if Boshoff was making the same argument as Nabeel Qureshi which is refuted here, if he was he would be wise  to drop that line of argumentation.

Yusuf Bux made a lot of salient points, I have listed some of them:

-The problem the Trinitarian Christian faces, when they think about the Trinity belief they are always seeing 3 regardless of how hard they try no to. [Further showcasing the superiority of pure Abrahamic monotheism over Trinity beliefs - there's no cognitive dissonance]

-Jesus never mentioned nor taught it and John 18:20 ("in secret I have said nothing") [Excellent insight. For the thinker this is of vital importance and is related to the Trinity dilemma where we see the majority of Christians disbelieving in the Trinity or believing in the a 'heresy' of the Trinity. In fact, Rudolph Boshoff, IIRC, stated John Gilchrist is his mentor so I assume he is colleagues with Brian Marrian who also claims to be Gilchrist's mentee - Marrian espouses a Trinitarian heresy in this video clip - such is the difficulty behind this teaching and the lack of clarity in the Bible concerning this belief which perfectly illustrates the thrust of Yusuf Bux's arguments]

-The word, "Trinity" is not mentioned [This is not such an important point as theological terms such as omniscience and omnipotence are not present in the text either - the focus should be on the teaching - is that present?]

-'The' Trinity belief is beyond reason, irrational and incompatible with the Oneness of God. And that it was developed after the deification of the Holy Ghost and Jesus.

-The terminology, Father and Son, indicates one pre-existed the other. [Food for thought]

-Jesus was not all knowing (Mark 13:32) [Trinitarian apologists struggle trying to reconcile this point within their theological framework]

Textual Criticism and Yusuf Bux

Bux lets the audience know 1 John 5:7 was an addition. I think this has a lot of shock value for lay Trinitarians but for people grounded in Christian apologetics it's not really a big problem apropos to 'the' Trinity belief when looking a the history of this addition (aka forgery). It was added into the text relatively recently by Erasmus, in 1522, so 'the' Trinity idea was not contingent on this Bible forgery. For Muslims, it would be better to ask why people were so insistent on this text to be added into the Bible even though there were no Greek manuscripts supporting this verse - could it have been because this group felt, without that verse, there would be even less material Trinitarians could cite to support the Trinity belief?

Bux asserts Matt 28:19 is a textual variant. This is an area that requires a lot of thought. Although there are no Bible manuscripts demonstrating this to be a textual variant the argument is patristic and is lent a bit more weight as it varies from Luke 24:47. Perhaps Christian apologists would appeal to the Didache to support the reading in Mark 28 but there is dispute around the Didache's authenticity too. Folk do appeal to patristic evidence to doubt the reading in Matt 28:19. It's a bit of a mess really!

 I believe they call this verse the Great Commission. We all need to initiate a great commission to start looking for more NT manuscripts. Rather than bombing the Middle East we should all put our pennies together and pay Arabs, Israelis, Palestinians and North Africans to dig around and hunt down more manuscripts to help ascertain further forgeries as per the find of Codex Sinaiticus. So all you Zionist Christians, stop and think. Do you want to find more manuscripts and possibly learn about more forgeries in the text? If yes, STOP your support of bombing and war in that region?!

Rudolph Boshoff's arguments against Abrahamic monotheism

Rudolph Boshoff used the standard Trinitarian Protestant argument from James White stating the doctrine of the Trinity was not understood. For the Mary in the Trinity argument, I'd advise Rudolph to watch this video response to Jonathan McLatchie

Monophysites and Nestorians in Arabia. Were there any other Christians in Arabia?

Sure we are in desperate need for more archeological evidenceto learn more about the Christians in Arabia in the 7th century - again folk should stop calling for bombing of the Middle East and call for  more research and archeological programs to be funded. My view is the Christian sects in Arabia at that time were variegated. The texts (Scripture) we read about are also different. Again showing the need for further study of the region (Russian and American Christians, stop dropping your bombs and start calling for peace in that region).

Seen a lot of this segment seems to be  similar to James White's fallacious and refuted arguments I'd like to point out one of the fallacies in White's argumentation against the Quran. In general, his argument is based on the premise the New Testament is considered to be the Injeel according to the Quran. It seems like White switches his mind off here. Where's his evidence for this claim? Here's one of the scholars who worked on the Study Quran denying that premise:

Sadly, James White has a huge pride problem and a problem in admitting he's wrong but perhaps he will relent. If you're willing enough to take his to him, go ahead.

And here's a video (I love a bit of video) of Shadid Lewis refuting Nabeel Qureshi on this point too.

Clearly Christians need to start looking into matters deeper in order to have a meaningful discussion with Muslim apologists.

Rudolph Boshoff's Philosophical arguments against Unitarian monotheism

-Impersonalism? This is a weird argument but a common argument within the evamgelical apologetics movement. It goes back to the Love argument which has already been dealt with above.

-Dependence on creation? Boshoff contends other beings must be created in order for God (according to the Unitarians) to manifest His Attributes. He's referencing love here again and speech. It's a bit of a polytheistic argument Boshoff presents as shown in the video to Ravi Zacharias. However, it's inconsistent too as God is the Forgiver, Creator and Sustainer according to Trinitarians too so what's Boshoff actully saying here? Think about it, does he believe the three persons of the trinity idea all sustained, created and forgave each other prior to creation? I doubt he would say that, thus he believes God's attributes of forgiveness, sustenance and creation only manifest when creation is in existence.

An inconsistent argument.

Some more of Rudolph Boshoff's philosophical arguments, I doubt many people understood what he was trying to say as they were quite complex

Determinism? Decisions are ultimately determined by a singular will (God). What God wills only comes to path. This is actually the same with Trinitarian theology. Boshoff ends up arguing against James White's Calvinism; the predetermined elect. Perhaps Boshoff will debate James White on this - I'd watch it!

Not to detract from the major point of Boshoff arguing against Calvinism's U in TULIP (Unconditional election) I  would also refer Bohsoff to James White's comments in discussion with Louis Ruggiero where he teaches rapes are decreed by God. I understand Boshoff is not a Calvinist but this is still material he needs to think about.

Look at it from our point of view, as Muslims, we see Christians making philosophical arguments and ultimately arguing against their co-religionists. How does that look to us? It does not impress us. It's saying the arguments aren't consistent. Inconsistency is a sign of a failed argument.

'Determinsim leads to contradictory acts': Boshoff uses the example of God guiding and God leading astray. This argument flies in the face of Biblical theology as God according to the Bible misguides people by making them love a lie (2:10-11), He has blinded the minds or people (2 Cor 4:4) and put a lying spirit in the mouths of some people (1 Kings 22:23).

Boshoff miunderstands guidance and misguidance in Islam. Here's a link on the topic:

Rudolph Boshoff continues to argue against Calvinsim

Boshoff argues there's a moral problem as beforehand all are determined as to who is saved and lost. However, he misses the concept of freewill and argues against Calvinism AGAIN. Here's some information on the concept of free will in Islam:

Some counters by Yusuf Bux

Bux Counters the old Trinitarian Love Argument by mentioning the Trinitarians are still talking about self-love (their argument is really a polytheistic argument as it is geared more towards people who believe in more than one being as God - Trinitarians don't believe in more than one Being but pure polytheists do - perhaps the argument originated from Hindu philosophy). He also talks about the Attributes of forgiveness and creating which puts the Trinitarian in a bind here and just shows the argument is contrived based on an emotional appeal to the Attribute of  Love while ignoring all other Attributes of God. The Trinitarian Love Argument is a bad argument and does not reflect well on the one espousing it.

In fact, Boshoff left the door open for Bux to make mention of Numbers 31:17-18, Hosea 13:16 and Samuel 15:3 and put an abrupt stop to this line of argument.

Bux counters the Mary-Trinity Argument. Bux understands this to be a condemnation of Maryolatry. Bux notes some examples of Maryolotry:

- Pope John Paul, called out to Mary when shot.

- Quotes James White's comments on Catholics; 'many worship her'.

-Mariamites: said the Trinity was Son, Father and Mary.

An old fallacious argument by Christians concerning Quran 18:27

I know I've missed a few of his arguments but I'd urge Boshoff to rethink his argument on Qur8:27.  Here's an excerpt from from  Aqil Onque:

“And recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no changer of His words, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge” (18:27).

Now, there are two points to note here. Firstly, in all of the above mentioned verses, the context shows that there is a promise that ALLAH’S Words cannot be changed. But, how do we reconcile this fact with the reality that the previous scriptures have been changed and distorted? As we will see, the relationship can be found in the very essence of God’s promise!

It is His very command or promise or threat that ALLAH is stating cannot be changed. In other words, the DECREE of ALLAH cannot be changed! Once ALLAH says that a thing will be like this, in the form of a promise, threat, or the like, that is what it is and none other than ALLAH can change that fact. If ALLAH stated that He will reward a people, give victory, forgive, or guide and so on, then none can alter what ALLAH has decreed therein. Likewise, if ALLAH stated that He will punish, deprive, send astray, or the like, then none can change what He decreed in the matter. In all of the verses above, we find this to be the case. Moreover, the word that is under discussion is a very particular word, as is found in the following hadith, or saying of the Prophet Muhammad (S), which further strengthens this point:

“Then there is sent to him the angel who blows his soul into him and who is commanded with four matters (decrees/words). 

This word that we are focusing on here is the word “kalimaat” (كَلِمَاتٍ) and it literally means words in a plural sense. But this word, as seen in all the examples above refers to a decreed word, not revelation, which takes us to our next point.

In all the cases in the Qur’an where ALLAH mentions His Revelation, meaning scripture, this word kalimaat is NEVER used! That is because this word is never associated with revelation or scripture. ALLAH uses words like kitab, wahi, tanzeel, thikr or the proper names of each respective revelation – i.e. Suhuf, Torah, Zabur, Injeel, Qur’an, or Ath Thikr – in reference to revelation.


It's difficult to comment on debates like this as it's not a Western audience it was geared towards a non-Western audience and perhaps an audience which has English as a secondary language. Either way, I think Yusuf Bux would ave resonated with the audience and Rudolph Boshoff would have lost the audience. In fact even folk who dabble in apologetics would have found Boshoff hard to follow.

Some of you may have realised the odd wording I use around the concept of the Trinity such as 'a Trinity idea' or 'the' Trinity idea. This is because there are more than one Trinity theories out there as Dale Tuggy teaches. This is an area where Muslim apologetics should really look into as it's a key to help the more staunch Trinitarian to leave that theology and move towards Abrahamic monotheism.

Bux, like all Muslim apologists focus heavily on Text (Bible and Quran) and reasoning  but one area which seems to be under-utilised and under-researched is the history around the Trinity idea. I'd like to see people go deeper into the councils and mention the absence of theologians in the first three centuries who had Trinitarian beliefs.

Pastor Rudolph Boshoff, I'd like you to become a Muslim. All the Prophets taught worshipping God alone. You aren't doing this if you believe Jesus is God. Why believe a man is God?

I know why you folks do it, it's because you're emotionally attached to the vicarious atonement idea. Look, God does not need to send anybody to die for your sins or anybody else's sins. Sure, we all have done horrible things that we would not even dare admit to our  colleagues, friends, wives and children...but God does not think like a human being. Whereas a human may hold some grudge against us and drag up something he/she said they had forgiven us for years after the event....God is not like that. He can forgive us no matter what we did and we remain forgiven...sincere repentance is required.

To believe God needs to have a 'son' to die for our sins is beyond a primitive understanding of God. It's a transgression. In fact, a rabbi I listen to likens it to the pagan practices of sacrificing virgins (who represented purity, innocence). Move beyond these ideas.

We must all strive to love God with all our might and heart. This cannot be achieved if one is dividing their love by wrongly loving a man as God.

Jesus never taught this idea. Rummaging around in the NT texts (which have no reliability to them) and playing games of chess with your theology and salvation is not the way any of us should behave. A quote comes into mind from a James Dunn book I've gone  through, he's quoting Philo who comments on the first commandment:

Let us, then, engrave deep in our hearts this as the first and most sacred commandments, to acknowledge and honour  one God who is above all, and let the idea that gods are many never even reach the ears of the man whose rule of life is to seek for the truth in purity and guilelessness.

Unitarian Christians and Muslims having dreams which show Jesus (p) not to be God

[QURAN MIRACLES] The Miracles of the Number 19 in Quran | Dr. Shabir Ally