How not to do it; AbdulHaq’s “Before Nicea”

I’ve come across a Moslem pamphlet rubbishing Christian origins.  It’s available as an eBook here.  The authors are not orientals, but Britons who have converted to Islam and taken Arabic names.  As such they have no access to Eastern literature and have had to make use of whatever anti-Christian literature they could find.

I find it hard to read 99 pages online, but the general approach is to heap up quotations by western writers, whoever they may be, rubbishing the bible, the fathers, and so on.  The quotations are plainly taken from atheist literature, quoting such elderly “authorities” as Gibbon and Toland (1718)!  Some of the quotations look extremely suspect — F. G. Kenyon is quoted in a sense opposite to every work of his that I have ever read.

But AbdulHaq goes further.  He wants to claim that the people he quotes were all Christians, that what is said here by anti-Christian polemicists is what Christians say about themselves.  He states:

During conversations whilst compiling this work, it was noted that many evangelical Christians would argue that the Christian scholars quoted in this work for example are ‘not really Christian.’

To this he responds as might be expected.

Unfortunately AbdulHaq has defeated himself before he began.   The argument he has borrowed is the old 19th century atheist jeer “Who are you to say who is a Christian and who is not?”  Logically that is nonsense, unless the word “Christian” has no meaning.  It’s merely a gibe intended to weaken the appeal to the name of Christian, so that people who live by convenience but claim the name of Christian may evade the plain teaching of Christianity. 

To assist this process, the establishment — hardly eager to have their lives examined! — has always appointed people to bishoprics who have publicly made clear that Christianity was not true, or were men of immoral life, or both.  These men act as cuckoos in the nest, pushing out the real nestlings and in the confusion allowing the vicious to continue as before.  A former bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, publicly said that he did not believe in Jesus’ Resurrection. When Christian evangelist David Watson was running university missions calling students to repentance and conversion, he used to run counter-missions to encourage them to remain drunken fornicators as before.  Such activity qualified him, in the view of the church appointments committee, for high ecclesiastical office.

We all know that there is a pool of hyopcrites and liars around, and atheists make use of them as the establishment intends, to divert the argument from “Is Christianity true” to “Is this revolting person lying when he claims to be a Christian, and who is to say?”  Atheists need confusion, in order that their lifestyle of convenience may be hidden in the smoke.

But none of this helps AbdulHaq.  He needs clarity.  He needs to attack what Christianity is, not what it is not.  Confusion merely obstructs him from coming to grips with the enemy. 

If I wrote against Islam, it would be very silly for me to find some depraved soul who drank and never prayed and didn’t believe in the Koran, yet still claimed the name of Moslem, and use his ‘views’ as evidence of what Moslems believed.  I would need, for my argument, to make sure that those I quoted were accepted, by Moslems, as Moslems.

AbdulHaq could compile endless quotes from enemies of the church.   But it would show nothing except that Christianity attracts the enmity of people who live immoral lives and want to claim the name of Christian!   Well, I think we all knew that!  

For his polemic to work, he must attack Christians.  It does him no manner of good to confuse into his argument people who Christians don’t accept as believers.   This element of his book simply fails.

If his argument is that many scholars reject Christianity, it must be observed that this must be a rather dangerous argument for him to make.  Do those same scholars accept Islam?  Or do they merely repeat what is the fashionable religious consensus of their age?  If the latter, their testimony again does not help him.

6 Responses to “How not to do it; AbdulHaq’s “Before Nicea””


  1. KKairos

    Yo!

    After reading this article I thought I would make note of two things:

    (a) You, sir, are awesome.
    (b) Your last paragraph reminded me of this, from Chesterton’s Orthodoxy: “It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own.”, and it’s probably tangential, but still cool.

  2. Roger Pearse

    Many thanks for your kind words. I think most of us benefit from reading Heretics and Orthodoxy. Indeed I read many volumes of GKC’s essays as well, and became familiar with his way of thinking. It has been invaluable, and he has many interesting things to say.

  3. Dioscorus Boles

    While acknowledging that their attacks against Christianity are baseless; I would respond by a counterattack on Islam, which is a religion suitable only for the Beast and its lower instincts. Since 9 11 we have learned what Islam is and is not; a matter which Oriental Christians who have come under the sway of Islam, and its oppressive soul, have long known for over 1400 years.

    I do not doubt that there are good Muslims, but those who are good in Islam are not good because of Islam – they are good despite Islam.

  4. Roger Pearse

    Well, we see how the low moral standards of Islam were a problem for copts in the apocalypse of Simon of Kalamoun (or was it the one of Daniel? I can’t recall).

    In this case, tho, I was just giving a hasty glance at the book and saw an evident logical error.

  5. 3 wheeler buggy

    You can not believe how long ive been googling for something like this. Scrolled through 9 pages of Yahoo results couldn’t find diddly squat. Quick search on Bing. There you are!… Gotta start using this more often

  6. Roger Pearse

    Glad it helped!