On November 1st at the Lenasia Civic Centre, an historic event took place, which witnessed a public debate between Yusuf Ismail of the Islamic Propagation Centre International and Piet Strydom, a self-styled ‘student on the verification of Biblical Authority’. The debate was well attended and both speakers ventured into a discussion on several technical and interesting issues surrounding the authenticity of both the Qur’an and the Bible and their relevancy in the 21st century.
One of the highlights of the programme was the unrolling of the ‘genealogies of Jesus’, where both the Gospel of Matthew and Luke’s contradictory accounts were presented on massive scrolls leaving many bewildered with astonishment.Strydom commenced the debate, spending a large portion of his time, venturing into a discussion of the ‘mistakes’ and ‘tactics’ engaged in by Muslim apologists when discussing the Bible. All these arguments were effectively neutralized by Ismail during his session and he had the audience in tatters when he commenced his discussion with a recent caricature of Thabo Mbeki. Offering Strydom a copy of the Qur’an together with a personal gift, Yusuf Ismail gave a scintillating analysis on the origins of the Bible, introducing the audience to the most latest discoveries and themes in contemporary Biblical scholarship and taking the traditional Deedat critique on Christology to another level.
In a power-point presentation, the audience witnessed on big-screen, manuscripts such as the Codex Sinaiticus, presently the oldest Bible in the world and the San’a manuscripts of the Qur’an, discovered in the early 70’s in Yemen dating to the 1st century of the Hijra. Ismail’s expose’ on the Qur’an proved beyond all measure of doubt, in it being the veritable Word from the realm of the Divine. In the debate Strydom was even forced to concede that the present Biblical canon was filled with mistakes, adding that he still required ‘time to analyse and find solutions to the Biblical difficulties’. One of the highlights of the programme was the unrolling of the ‘genealogies of Jesus’, where both the Gospel of Matthew and Luke’s contradictory accounts were presented on massive scrolls leaving many bewildered with astonishment. The debate was followed by an incisive and penetrating question and answers session from the floor which was answered by measured and sturdy responses from the Muslim ‘side’ in contrast to the evasive answering from the Christian ‘side’. In the Q&A session, Ismail also informed the audience that the recent findings of Biblical scholarship are much closer to the Islamic view of Jesus, and that the attribution of divinity to Christ had serious consequences for non-Christian cultures. The riddle of the trinity and the sonship of Jesus was also dabbled into, with Piet Strydom failing to provide any substantial justification for such belief. However both speakers left the debate on a tone of mutual friendship and respect with Strydom offering to have further engagements with Ismail on ‘other issues’.
Positive comments flowed after the debate with many Christians also coming forward and expressing their appreciation for such a novel presentation and mutual friendship between the speakers despite the discussion on a sensitive topic. The IPCI has taken up the challenging task in the past few months of attempting to deal with and create a level of engagement on all contemporaneous issues affecting society on the political and religious level. Numerous research has shown that missionary work conducted by groups such Wycliffe Bible Translation, with active branches in over 40 countries, also open up the way for multinational prospectors and CIA infiltration, and have often themselves through subsidiaries such as the Summer Institute of Linguistics carried out forced sterilization on tribal communities. IPCI intends exposing this undercurrent, whilst at the same time harness a joint Christian-Muslim co-operation in seeking a collateral understanding of the will of God and attempting to shape the human world and human history in accordance with that will. The task will be to relate the common ethical paradigm to the ongoing structures of this world.
DVD’s of the Lenasia Debate will be available soon and readers are urged to email firstname.lastname@example.org
for early orders.