A response to

Matthew 28:19 (In the name of..)

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" Matthew 28:19

Mr. Al-Kadhi comments:

Al-Kadhi goes down the usual alley of setting up a strawman that he thinks he can handle instead of answering to the actual Christian teaching. God is spirit (John 4:24). No Christian believes that the Trinity is a physical entity.

But let us examine his example in more detail. These three countries can speak "in one name" or with one voice because they have united for this very purpose. If Saddam would talk back with mockery to one of them is would be defiance against them all. It is appropriate to list them in one group in unity, because each of them is a major military power. Surely, Al-Kadhi has seen some of these questions (often found in I.Q. tests) where four or five items are given and the task is to identify the one item that does not belong in the list. If Mr. Al-Kadhi were to deliver a message "in the name of the United States, the Soviet Union and Misha'al Al-Kadhi" then nobody would have the slightest doubt which item does not belong in the group. In fact, Al-Kadhi would probably cause more amusement than concern for the recipient of the message. The listener would immediately discern that something is not right in the formulation and therefore dismiss the message itself as probably a bad joke.

The real question the reader has to face is this: How dare Jesus inserting himself (the Son) between the Father and the Holy Spirit in this liturgical formula if he is not of the same essential nature?

Unless Al-Kadhi wants to dismiss it as a tasteless joke - and that kind of joke is certainly not befitting a prophet of God - he needs to seriously grapple with its meaning.

The meaning of this formula and its authenticity are two different questions. Seemingly, he sees no way to effectively deal with the first. The fact that in this section Al-Kadhi spends most of his energy to attack the authenticity of the statement shows that he does indeed understand the force of the argument. If it were only an easily to explain misunderstanding of the meaning, then a clarification would be enough. But since he cannot escape the force of the baptismal formula, he urgently needs to declare it a fraud.

He does so in a badly illogical twist:

Al-Kadhi forgot that he argues in chapter two, section 2.1.10 that Mark 16:9-20 is not authentic but added later because these verses are not found in the oldest manuscripts. Obviously, one cannot use a text that is to be dismissed as inauthentic in order to confront another text and the differences between the two as evidence that the latter is not correct. (One cannot say "A" is false, and also use "A" as authority and basis to dismiss "B" because of differences between "A" and "B".) The author should really think about his arguments more deeply to avoid such glaring logical blunders. Given the discussion about the ending of Mark, this would actually strengthen the case for authenticity in regard to Matthew 28:19.

In regard to Matthew 28:19, he claims that the formula "the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" are added later, but fact is that there are no variant readings and all the earliest manuscripts that we have of this passage say exactly the same thing. If we use the same standards consistently then we would have to acknowledge that this is the original wording as written by the author of the Gospel.

The fact that Mr. Al-Kadhi can quote some other writers (among those the authoritative source of a journalist) who also have a problem with this verse and want to argue it away does not strengthen his case, since truth is not established by finding others that hold to the same opinion. Mr. Al-Kadhi forgot to bring valid factual arguments for his case.

Side remark, I have been a student of the Bible for many years and read a large number of theological books. The first time I read about Peake's Commentary was in Al-Kadhi's book. It hardly is "the standard reference" for any area of theology or Biblical studies. It is the old tactic of praising the source of your quotation order to increase the weight of your own argument. The risk is low. Hardly any of the Muslim readers will question the statement, but on the contrary gladly embrace it.

We will just remark that Mr. Strauss wrote his book in the 1830ies and the academic discussion has progressed much since that day. His works are no longer taken serious among contemporary theologians. They have been vigorously debated, his arguments are superseded and the discussion has moved on. Al-Kadhi is stuck in the last century and was seemingly not willing to research the later discussion regarding the arguments by Mr. Strauss. I certainly know of no department of religious studies that still has his book on the recommended reading list. If Al-Kadhi wants to substitute the effort of working with the Biblical text himself by quoting from other authors, he would be much more credible if he were to refer to more recent scholarly literature and show himself proficient in the current debate and scholarly writings.

So far part one. The discussion will continue when I have time to write more, in particular on the meaning and implications of (baptizing) "in the name of Jesus". There is much more to be said. When Al-Kadhi thinks that baptizing only in the name of Jesus is orginal, would he be willing to be baptised in the name of Jesus? Something to ponder about.

The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
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