The Islam debate: Josh McDowell vs. Ahmed Deedat (Rebuttals and closing statements)

In the previous section of the great Islam debate, Ahmed Deedat, once an authoritative speaker in the eyes of many Muslims worldwide, had produced an array of arguments which were supposed to demonstrate how utterly unreliable the early biographies of Jesus are in terms of their historic truthfulness. For example, one such argument goes by way of Mark, chapter 14, verse 50, in which we’re told with regards to the twelve disciples “Then everyone deserted him and fled.” therefore, Ahmed Deedat insisted, nobody of Jesus’ inner circle could have witnessed the supposed crucifixion happen in real time, rather the early followers of Jesus had gone by “hearsay and conjecture”, as the Muslim Qur’an writes. Here’s an important lesson for my Muslim friends, atheists and Christians alike, read on, simply read on, when somebody makes a claim about Scripture, especially Christian material, read for yourself the surrounding material. Honestly, it’s not difficult, even just reading the immediate context ordinarily allows for proper interpretation, with which, let’s examine Mark chapter fourteen in context:

Then everyone deserted him and fled. A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind. They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

Are people in general so disinterested in honest discussion as to not read a mere four verses onward (apparently yes), nonetheless, their dishonesty makes for an excellent teaching opportunity. Moreover, as it’s written, it’s the gentle answer which turns away wrath, while harsh words make for tempers to flare. Due to which I’d simply advise my Muslim and atheist friends this: try harder, examine yourselves, don’t assume you’re going to misquote Scripture and nobody’s going to expose your glaring disinterest in proper discussion. Be concerned that you’re finding really bad arguments compelling evidence, because ideas of yours, ideas which appear reasonable when unquestioned, become totally ridiculous for just an ounce of scrutiny. Nevertheless, in light of the poor quality of much of Ahmed Deedat’s opening arguments, I’m interested to read and hear how their later material fares (Their rebuttal begins at around 1:36:20).

― T. C. M

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Ahmed Deedat

Mr. Chairman, and ladies and gentlemen of the jury. The crux of the problem — the clear-cut statement by Jesus Christ, is the mistake that the disciples were making in thinking that He had come back from the dead. By assuring them that “a spirit has no flesh and bones, as you see Me have.” This is King’s English, basic English. And one does not need a dictionary or a lawyer to explain to you what it implies.

Throughout the length and breadth of the 27 books of the New Testament, there is not a single statement made by Jesus Christ that “I was dead, and I have come back from the dead.” The Christian has been belaboring the word resurrection. Again and again, by repetition, it is conveyed that it is proving a fact. You keep on seeing the man, the man’s eating food, as though He was resurrected. He appears in the upper room — He was resurrected. Jesus Christ never uttered that word that “I have come back from the dead,” in the 27 books of the New Testament, not once.

He was there with them for 40 days. And He never uttered that statement. He is proving again and again that He was that same Jesus, the one who had escaped death, so to say, by the skin of His teeth. Because He was ever in disguise. He never showed Himself openly to the Jews. He had given them a sign. “No sign shall be given unto it except the sign of Jonah.” No sign, but this. And He never went back to them to the temple of Jerusalem, to tell them. “Here I am.” Not once. He was ever in hiding. Now, we will not belabor the things that have passed.

The points were, that Jesus was not reluctant to die. He had actually come for this purpose. Now, my reading of the Scriptures tells me that not only was He reluctant, but He was preparing for a show-down with the Jews. You see, at the Last Supper, He raises the problem of defense, telling His disciples, “As you remember, when I sent you out on your mission of preaching and healing, I told you that you were not to carry anything with you. No purse, no sticks. No staff. Did you lack anything?”

And they said “No, we lacked nothing.” But now, I tell you, He tells them, “Those of you who have no swords must sell their garments and buy them.” You must sell your garments and buy swords. I’m asking you,

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what do you do with swords? You peel apples? Or you cut people’s throats? What do you do with swords? So one of them said, “Master, we have two already.” And He said, “That is enough.”

And He takes His disciples — 11 of them. Judas had already gone to betray him. Eleven disciples and Himself, and they walk to Gethsemane. And at Gethsemane — read the book, read your gospels — and it’ll tell you that Jesus put eight men at the gate. I’m asking you, why should He go to Gethsemane in the first place? And why put eight at the gate, telling them, “Tarry ye here, and watch with Me.”

He means, stop here, and keep guard. Guarding what? What was there to guard in Gethsemane? A courtyard, olive press, empty place. What were they, the disciples, to guard five miles out of town at Gethsemane? Then He takes with Him, Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee. At least two of them had swords. And He makes an inner line of defense and He tells them, “Tarry ye here, sit ye here, and watch with Me. While I go and pray yonder . . . I alone go and pray beyond.” I’m asking you, why did He go to Gethsemane? Why did He go there — to pray? Couldn’t He have prayed in that upper room, while there at the Last Supper? Couldn’t He have gone to the temple of Jerusalem, a stone’s throw from where they were? Why go five miles out of town? And why put eight at the gate? And why make an inner line of defense?

OSC: Briefly inserting myself into the conversation, though not to steal focus, rather simply to edify. The above statement, which McDowell doesn’t address, was to me really extraordinary, just an amazing misreading of the material. There’s no quotation by Deedat in the above, about which I’m unsurprised, since to simply quote the next verse would undo the sort of portrait of Jesus they were attempting to sketch. Deedat attempted to paint a Jesus who was fortifying his defences, even a violent fighter who expected some kind of “show-down” with the Jews, although that’s one of the grossest lies I’ve listened to in many years. Let’s review our material by use of Luke chapter twenty-two, verse thirty-six:

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.

It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied.

“And He was numbered with the transgressors,” The famous words of Isaiah the fifty-third chapter, moreover, it’s in the very same chapter of Luke alluded to in the above, sadly the late Mr. Deedat didn’t want to inform their Muslim listeners of the above quotation. So, could Jesus have been fortifying, of course not, were They readying for an epic battle with the Jews by the use of only two swords, swords which in Luke 22:51 Jesus even forbade His followers from using? Muslim speakers insult your intelligence when they attempt to answer yes.

Luke had the book of Isaiah in mind while writing the above, the same prophet Isaiah who wrote (again chapter fifty-three) how Jesus would be murdered “though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” Even going so far as to write “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 its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”


Obviously, in light of the immediate context, the greater literary context, the cultural context, Jesus was teaching His followers how merely two swords were enough to have Him “numbered with the transgressors,” as it’s written. Moreover, having been crucified between two thieves upon Their cross, Jesus certainly was counted as if He were a criminal. And what was Jesus’ crime? Perhaps “INRJ” was how best the enemies of Christ could describe their charges against the Prince of Peace, albeit lacking, Jesus died being blamed for love.

And He goes a little farther, and falls on His face, and He prays to God. “Oh, my Father . . . if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” Meaning, remove the difficulty from Me, but not as I will, but as Thou wilt. In the end, I leave it to You. But I want to save Me. And, being in agony, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was as if it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Is this how one man, a person goes to commit suicide? Is this how the person who is ordained from the foundation of the earth, for the sacrifice, is this how He behaves, I ask you?

That He is sweating, it says, being in an agony, He prays more earnestly, and His sweat was as if it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And the Lord of Mercy sends His angel, says the Bible. An angel came to strengthen Him, I say, in what? In the belief that God was going to save Him. What does the angel come to strengthen Him in? To save Him. And in everything that happened from there onward, you can see God planning His rescue. Look. The fact was that the prophecy He had made was that He would be like Jonah — and we are told that He was

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unlike Jonah. He didn’t fulfill. Jonah is alive, Jesus is dead. Then, Pontius Pilate — he marveled when he was told that Jesus was dead because in his knowledge, he knew no man can die within three hours on the cross. Because this crucifixion was to be a slow, lingering death. This was the real purpose of crucifixion. It was not getting rid of an anti-social character, like a firing squad, or hanging, or impaling a person. It was a slow, lingering death.

And the bones were not broken — says the Bible. It was a fulfillment of prophecy. Now, the bones of an individual — of a dead person — whether you break them or not, is of the least consequence. If the bones were not broken, the only time it can help anybody, is if the person was alive. So you see, for 2,000 years now, it’s a programming, a continuous programming. And Paul has put the whole gamut of religion on one point: on this death and resurrection, because he tells us, 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 14, that “if Christ is not risen from the dead, our preaching is in vain; our faith is in vain.” Useless! You haven’t got a thing!

So now, like drowning men clutching at straws, the Christian must, by hook or by crook, prove that somehow crucifixion killed the man, so we can earn salvation. Now, we would like you, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, to read this book once more, and the testimony, word for word. If you examine the prophecies — what Jesus says, and the way He behaves — they are conclusive proof that Christ had not been crucified.

Josh McDowell

I’m not sure that I heard, but did you say, “Nowhere in the 27 books of the New Testament did Jesus ever say He was ‘dead and now alive’ “? May I read to you from the book of Revelation, chapter 1, verse 18? He said, “I am the living one. I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.” Also, Mr. Deedat, He appeared to the Jews. The whole New Testament Church was started with Jews. He appeared to the Jewish antagonist, the apostle Paul, when he was Saul of Tarsus.

But men and women, the greatest thrill to me, when it comes to the resurrection and Christ as my Life and Savior, is that God Yahweh has promised, when a man enters into that relationship through asking Christ

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to forgive him, who died for our sins, was buried and raised again on the third day, that God, the Holy Spirit, enters that person and changes them. And one of the greatest evidences is my own life. After I came to the point where I acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, surrendered my will up to Him, and trusted Him, men and women, in about six months to a year, or a year and a half, the major areas of my life were changed.

First, I developed a desire to live a holy and godly life. Second, I started to experience a peace and genuine joy — it wasn’t because I don’t have conflict — it’s in spite of conflict, the peace that God gives through Jesus Christ. Third, I gained control over my temper. I almost killed a young man my first year in a university. I was constantly losing my temper. After I trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord, I would catch myself arising to the crisis of losing my temper, and it was gone!

Not only my friends noticed it, but my enemies did a lot sooner. And only once now, in 22 years that I have had a personal relationship with God Yahweh, the Father, through His Eternal Word, the Son, only once have I lost my temper. He has given me a supernatural strength over it.

The greatest area, men and women, that I’m thankful I can share here, is the very love of God. In this sense: My Father was the town alcoholic. I hardly ever knew my father when he was not drunk. My friends in school would make jokes about my father making a fool of himself. I lived on a farm and I’d go out to the barn and see my mother lying in the gutter in the manure — the bathroom of the cows — beaten so badly by my father, my mother couldn’t get up and walk.

We would have friends over. I’d take my father, tie him up in the barn, and park the car up around the side, and tell my friends he had to go on an important business trip, so I wouldn’t be embarrassed. I’d take him into the barn where the cows would have their little calves. I’d put his arms through the boards and tie them; I’d put a rope around his head and pull his head all the way over the backboard, and tie it around the feet, so if he shuffled his feet, he would kill himself.

One evening, two months before I graduated from high school. I came home from a date. When I went into the house, I heard my mother crying profusely. And I said, “What’s wrong?” She said, “Your father has broken my heart. All I want to do is live until you graduate, then I just want to die.”

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Do you know, two months later, I graduated. And the next Friday, the 13th, my mother died. Don’t tell me that you can’t die of a broken heart. My mother did, and my father broke it. There was no one I could have hated more. But men and women, when I came into this relationship with God Yahweh, through his Eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, after a short period of time, the love of God took control of my life, and He took that hatred and turned it upside down.

So much so, I was able to look my father square in the eyes and say: “Dad, I love you.” And the neatest thing is, I really meant it! I began attending a university. I was in a serious car accident with my legs, arm and neck in traction. I was taken home. My father came into my room. He was very sober because he thought I was almost dead. He asked me this question: “How can you love a father such as I?” I said, “Dad, six months ago, I despised you. I hated you.” Then I shared with him how I’d come to the conclusion seen so clearly, that God Yahweh, the Father, had manifested Himself to us, humanity through the Eternal Word, His Son. And then He had died for our sins, that’s the anguish He went through, Mr. Deedat.

If you could imagine all the sins in the world — just your sins and my sins would be enough. But all the sins in the world are upon the Son. The anguish that was involved. And I said, “Dad, I asked Christ to forgive me. I asked Him to come into my life as Savior and Lord.” I said, “Dad, as the result of that, I have found the capacity to love and accept not only you, but other people just the way they are.”

I can look at you, Mr. Deedat, and say, “I honestly love you. . .God has given me a love for you. . . I love you so much, I would love to have you come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.” And my father finally just said, “Son, if your God can do in my life what I have seen Him do in your life, then I want to know Him personally.”

Right there, my father just prayed something like this: “God, if You’re God, and Christ is the Eternal Word, Your Son, if You can forgive me and come into my life and change me, then I want to know You personally.”

Men and women, my life was basically changed in six months to a year, to a year and a half. And there are still many areas for God to change. But then, take my father. His life was changed right before my eyes. Mr. Deedat, it was like somebody reached out and turned on a light bulb. Do you know, he only touched whiskey once after that. He got it to his lips,

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and that was it. He didn’t need it anymore. Fourteen months later, he died. Because, three-fourths of his stomach had to be removed, as a result of 40-some years of drinking. But do you know, ladies and gentlemen, in that 14-month period, scores of businessmen in my home town and the surrounding area committed their lives to the living God, through the Eternal Word, Jesus Christ, because of the changed life of one of the town’s drunks.

My wife, Dottie, put it this way. She says, “Honey, because Christ was raised from the dead, He lives. And because He lives, He has the infinite capacity through the Holy Spirit to enter a man or woman’s life, and change them from the inside out.” That is why the resurrected, living Christ said in one of the 27 books of the New Testament, “I was dead, now I am alive.” He can say, “I stand at the door of your life and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in.”


Ahmed Deedat

Mr. Chairman and ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Man is coward by nature. From the beginning of Adam, you remember, passing the buck. It’s not me, it’s the woman; and the woman, it’s not me, it’s the serpent. Man is coward by nature. And we want somebody else to carry the burden for us. We want somebody else to take the medicine when we are sick. We want somebody else’s appendix to be removed, when ours is rotten. This is man in general.

But this is not what Jesus Christ said. He wanted you to take up your own cross — get yourself crucified. Listen! He says, “He is not of Me who does not take his cross and follow Me.” Take up your cross and follow Me. In other words, get yourself crucified. No, no, no, No, He didn’t mean that. What He meant was, that as I carry My responsibility, you carry yours. As I pray, you pray. As I fast, you fast; as I’m circumcised, you be circumcised; what I do, you do. You carry your own responsibility.

This is what He meant. Now, that is the Islamic system! This is what Islam teaches. You see, the system that saves you after years of alcoholism, after years of pinching 10 cents from the collection plate, you

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read it here, in Josh’s book. He says every Sunday, the only thing he got out of church was he was putting in 25 cents and taking out 35 for milkshakes. And then, later on in life, if you study, we find the same thing is being done on a very high level of intellectualism. But we haven’t got the time to go into that.

Let me end with the message of Jesus: He says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the pharisees, you shall by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” There’s no heaven for you. This is what He says; these are His words. And what is happening is, you are not contradicting His words. This is Islam! Unless you are better than the Jews, there is no heaven for you.

He didn’t say it’s blood, but your righteousness. You must be better than the Jews. You must fast, as the Jews fasted, but on a higher level; you must pray, as the Jews prayed, but on a higher level; you must give charity, as the Jews gave, but on a higher level. And that is Islam.

So, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I say that this resurrection, as has been addressed by Josh in America, under the heading, “Hoax or History,” I will conclude that here are one thousand million people being taken for a ride on a cross. In Durban, every week, we have horses taking thousands of people for a ride — every horse. But here, you are being taken for a ride on the cross.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

Josh McDowell

Mr. Deedat, nowhere in the Christian Bible revealed by God is a Christian ever commanded to be crucified. We are told to acknowledge that we are already crucified in Jesus Christ.

In Romans 8:32, God, speaking from eternity into time, says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up. . .up for us all.” In my country, a young lady, who was picked up for speeding, was brought before the judge. The judge said, “Guilty or not guilty?” and she said, “Guilty.” He brought down the gavel, and the judge fined her $100 or 10 days. Then, an amazing thing took place. The judge stood up, took off his robe, placed it over the back of the chair, went down in front, and paid

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the fine. He was a just judge. His daughter had broken the law. No matter how much he loved daughter, he had to say $100 or 10 days. But he loved her enough, he was willing to go down, and take the penalty upon himself, and pay it. This is a clear illustration of what God Yahweh has revealed through His Holy Word. God loves us. Christ died for us. The Bible very clearly points out the wages of sin is death. So, God had to bring down the gavel.

But, men and women, He loved us so much, He was able to set aside His judicial robe, and come down in the form of the man Jesus Christ. And go to the cross and pay the price for us. And now, He can say, “I stand at the door of your life and knock. And if anyone hears My voice, and opens the door, I will come in.”

Yes, Mr. Deedat, one billion Christians are riding the cross. We are being taken for a ride. I believe God has provided the cross as the chariot to heaven, through the shed blood of His divine Son.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for giving me the privilege, as a person from another country, to come here, and Mr. Deedat, I am greatly indebted to you for this opportunity. And if you come to my country, we’ll have dinner together. Thank you.


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