Answering Missionaries

May 26, 2006

Rambo III – Liberating Butler

Filed under: Dialogue/Debates,James White — answeringmissionaries @ 10:15 pm


Mr. Fred Butler, to whom I replied a day ago, has hit back with another response.

He starts off his “response” by telling a lie. Mr. Butler refers to me as a (emphasis added) Self-proclaimed “expert” on NT textual criticism, early Christian history…” Now, where and when precisely did I claim to be a self-proclaimed expert” on “NT textual criticism, early Christian history…”, or any other field for that matter? When did I make such type of a self-proclamation? NO WHERE. In desperation, Mr. Butler could no nothing more than utter a lie. To set the record straight, I am not an “expert” on any field of study and I never made any highflying claims pertaining to myself in this regard. I only regard myself as a student, who attempts to read as many books and articles as possible to understand the different perspectives.

Moreover, he starts off by presenting conclusions upfront instead of making his case through the presentation of the data. He says that “Rambo, has got himself a blog site and is feverishly attempting to rescue Shabir Ally’s woefully inconsistent arguments against James White.” Now where precisely has Mr. Butler demonstrated that Shabir Ally allegedly made “woefully inconsistent arguments”? No where. I personally believe that James White made woefully inconsistent arguments, but making such comments by themselves amount to nothing. Anyone can play this game and make such claims. What is important is whether or not we have arguments to offer to defend our position. In the case of Mr. Butler, he has nothing more than proclamations to make. We have already seen that his arguments really aren’t very impressive. As for my assertion that James White made woefully inadequate argument, then I will attempt to demonstrate that in the near future in a detailed debate review.

Also, I don’t really understand why Mr. Butler makes a lot of noise over the fact that I set up a blog and am trying to address some of the arguments put forth by Christians such as himself? Afterall, he set up his blog long before me and commented on Shabir Ally as well. Perhaps Mr. Butler is angry at the fact that some Muslims have dared to challenge some of his assertions and speak in defence of their religion?

Furthermore, he commits another distortion when he writes:

    “You may recall that during the first week of May, James White debated Shabir Ally at BIOLA over whether or not the NT as it exists in our modern day is truly the inspired Word of God. I posted my review of the debate on the following day.

    Immediately, an Islamist who went by the name of “Rambo” began posting his criticisms of my review of a debate he never attended.”

I don’t know what he means by the term “Islamist” (I am a follower of Islam and am thus a Muslim not an “Islamist”), nonetheless, I made it quite clear in my very first reply to Mr. Butler’s review that I was only attempting to respond to some of the things he had said regarding Shabir Ally. I was not commenting upon the debate itself since I had not viewed it at the time. Instead, I was only responding to some of the things said by Mr. Butler, which did not require me to view the debate. So I don’t understand what the fuss is all about.

Mr. Butler then goes on to state that my “primary annoyance” with him was his description of Muslims hassling James White during break time. Well, my “primary annoyance” was Mr. Butler’s exaggeration, and I tried to show how he was exaggerating. I am glad Mr. Butler did not dispute this point. Moreover, in my previous paper, I did say rather clearly that what these Muslim individuals (3 to 5 individuals perhaps) did was a disgrace. Nonetheless, besides this “primary annoyance”, I also engaged with some of Mr. Butler’s comments pertaining to Marcan priority and had a brief discussion on Q and also discussed certain other issues as the status of Prof. Bart Ehrman. Of course, most of what I said was conveniently ignored by Mr. Butler.

Mr. Butler says:

    “Rambo pretty much gave up posting comments and claimed to be waiting for the debate to be released on MP3 so he could “judge for himself.” I later wrote out a separate post interacting with some of Rambo’s charges.”

If readers go to the comments section of Mr. Butler’s review, they will see that my posting was the last one there and I did successfully interact with all the issues that came up between us and, more recently here.

Notice the hilarious comment he makes next:

    “Well, Rambo, who supposed real name is Assalam Alaikum, has gotten himself a hold of a blog page he calls, Answering Missionaries. I guess I am suppose to be one of the missionary he is answering.”

Our self-proclaimed “expert” on cultures and Muslims in general still does not know what “Assalam Alaikum” means after spending so many years meeting different Muslims and becoming friends with many. “Assalam Alaikum” is a greeting, which translates: peace be upon you. Mr. Butler thought this was my name! Even ignorant Westerners in general, ignorant in the sense that they do not know much about Islam, know that “Assalam Alaikum” is a Muslim greeting. Mr. Butler foolishly thinks that my name is “Assalam Alaikum” because of this page on my blog! Need I say any more about this guys utter ignorance of Islam and Muslims? So much for his boasts about “knowing a lot” about different cultures, particularly the Arab culture!

Also, as the original purpose of this blog was to respond to the polemics against Islam raised by Christian missionaries such as Robert Morey and the like. However, now I will post on this blog dialogues and discussions with other Christians as well, both polemicists and non-polemicists, and even plan to put up movie reviews therein. So, it will contain a variety of papers on diverse issues.

Mr. Butler proceeds:

    “Anyhow, he has downloaded the debate and has posted a long, tedious review of his own titled, Tackling the Butler and White Team.”

Please note again his mistake. That’s not my debate review and I never presented it as such; I am still working on it. So it’s just baffling to see how Mr. Butler makes one silly mistake after another. The above paper was my response to a paper posted by Mr. Butler here. I clearly claimed to be responding to this paper by Mr. Butler. In fact, within the paper itself I said:

“My next aim is to write a detailed review of the debate, examine both sides in detail and then offer my conclusion. In this detailed review I will also engage with the claims made in a number of Christian reviews.”

How could Butler “miss” this?

[deleting some stuff by Mr. Butler where he describes White as his teacher and favourite writer etc.]

Now, I think I understand the reason why Mr. Butler may have made some glaring mistakes noted above. He says:

    “At any rate, I have only given Mr. Rambo’s article a cursory glance, so I cannot speak to everything he has written. In fact, it is not a high priority of mine to really respond to him, so I may or may not come back to it. I will see.”

Well, that’s perfectly alright. But if you must reply, then at least make an effort to read carefully, else you make glaring mistakes as we saw above. Also, I never intended for there to be a boxing match type of confrontation with individuals such as Mr. Butler. Instead, I was hoping to have civil discussion where we try to understand the opposing point of view. If Mr. Butler does not wish to respond to what I’ve said, then no problem.

Mr. Butler then refers to Mr. Steve Hays latest reply to me. Those who have followed the discussion will note that Mr. Hays has again produced a rather superficial “response” barely engaging with my arguments. Nonetheless, I will reply to him in the coming days Inshallah.

Mr. Butler writes:

    “As to his team Butler-White post, however, I will venture some predictive guesses as to what Rambo did write:”

But I wonder why on earth is he writing anything if he hasn’t even bothered to read what I said? Whats the point making “guesses”? Well, lets deal with them anyway:

    “He declares Shabir Ally the hands down winner over James White.”

Is that a sin? Only you can declare White a “winner” but, God forbid, it is absolutely horrendous for anyone to dare disagree with your view? Nonetheless, we also have a Christian who declares Shabir the winner.

    “He attempts to defend Bart Ehrman as the worlds greatest NT scholar ever to live on the planet, and his criticisms of the NT should be taken without question as if infallible and coming from God almighty Himself.”

More distortion of my position. That’s what you do when you open your mouth without thinking and even bothering to know what the other fellow has actually said. Here is what I said regarding Prof. Ehrman in response to Mr. Butler’s ad hominem.

    “He will ball baby and call me mean spirited and hateful because of my “Arab culture” comments.”

Read what I’ve said and then reply.

Please note that I can also make these types of “predictive guesses” with regards to any future “response” by Butler. For example, he will likely slander Prof. Ehrman again and attempt to again desperately argue that Ehrman is a “no one” in textual criticism; that Q is a myth; perhaps a denial of Marcan priority; insist that White “won” the debate; and insist that he (Butler) did not make racist statements.

And now, having not even properly read what I had written, Butler decides to “hit” each one of my points “quickly in turn.” Truly hilarious. Let’s analyse his reaction:

    “1) James clearly demonstrated that Shabir has a surface knowledge of textual criticism, and even that knowledge is inadequate because a) he doesn’t know the original languages as James poignantly revealed during cross examination, and b) he is ignorantly dependent upon crank scholars like Ehrman as his go to authority. Ehrman is working from a bias. He is not some neutral critic who had to sadly come to the conclusions he did as Rambo would have us believe. He has theological hang ups with the authority of God’s Word upon his life, and I would venture a guess and say there are some personal moral issues at stake, even though I admit speculation on my part. People running from God don’t tend to like what God has to say about them running away. In a word, he is more akin to Salmon Ruskie.”

Notice that he imagines a scenario in his mind, convinces himself that it is true and that I said something when he didn’t even read what I said, and then proceeds to “respond” to his concoctions. Let me deal briefly with his imaginations: the topic of the debate was “Is the New Testament as it is today the inspired word of God?” Those who saw the debate, excluding of course individuals such as Mr. Butler, know that James White largely ignored the topic and, instead, largely attacked the textual integrity of the Quran. And oh, James White does not speak a word of Arabic! But, of course, Mr. Butler might argue that even though White does not speak Arabic, he relies upon scholarly sources (no he does not, I am just saying this for arguments sake) and merely relates what they say. Similarly, Shabir Ally does not speak Greek, but he uses competent scholarship, such as that of Prof. Metzger, and relates what these scholars have to say. In other words, Shabir Ally is not “making it up”; he is informing us what textual critics, all of whom speak Greek, have said about the textual integrity of the New Testament writings. Also note that Butler is simply wrong to assert that during the debate White supposedly “showed” Shabir’s allegedly “inadequate” grasp of textual criticism. Furthermore, as for Whites so-called “correction” of Shabir Ally, then I invite the readers to read Shabir Ally’s detailed reply here. Moreover, Shabir Ally did not solely rely upon Ehrman, he referred to Metzger quite a few times in the debate. Second, Butler says that Ehrman is a “crank,” but not so according to Daniel Wallace, who says that Ehrman is a leading authority on textual criticism in North America. Perhaps Butler will inform us why Daniel Wallace lied? Moreover, as I noted before, everyone who dares disagree with evangelists has “presuppositions” and “biases” but no, hell no, not Butler, White and other evangelists. People such as Butler have no presuppositions and biases whatsoever, they just study the data for what it truly is and reach honest conclusions! I am sorry to burst Butler’s bubble, but I do not buy this line of argument. Finally, “Salmon Ruskie”?! Come again? Well, need I say anything more :)?

Butler proceeds:

    “2) Please. I am sick of people throwing out the name of Bart Ehrman as if he is the end all of NT textual scholarship. He is not. What exactly makes Ehrman the world’s greatest textual scholar in people’s minds any ways? Because he went to Princeton? Because he is pandered to by the fawning liberal media who are always on the look out for those “scholars” who will say all the bad things about Jesus they want to hear? Dan Phillips has a fun and truthful rant about the popularity of Mr. Bart, by the way. “

Ask Wallace, who describes Ehrman as: “…one of North America’s leading textual critics…”

What is even more absurd is when Butler compares the likes of Ehrman, a competent and authoritative mainstream scholar, to the down trodden non-representative Irshad Manji, a lesbian who has no qualifications in Islamic and Biblical studies!

Well, that’s all I have to say about Butler. I thought he would make an attempt to read what I said and then offer a meaningful counter argument. But no, not only did he not make any effort to read what I said, he still went ahead and wrote a rather silly “reply,” making some hilarious errors therein, not to mention avoiding much that I had to say.


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