This is a review and commentary on a Muslim –Christian dialogue video which I saw online. The Muslim is Hashim (a popular speaker for Islam at Speakers Corner) and the Christian, Elizabeth Schofield of St Nicholas Church, Tooting.
Dusters and uneven scales
Lizzie Schofield begins by throwing dust in the air. She makes a big deal about nothing. In her view it’s a contradiction if one believes in works/good deeds alongside the belief that you’ll only go into Paradise through Allah’s (God’s) mercy.
This is one of the traits I don’t like about Lizzie. She goes into simplistic and shallow thinking when talking about Islam just to make room for a polemic to attack Islam.
Good deeds are the product of sincere faith. Sincere faith and good deeds are due to the mercy of God. It is due to God’s mercy that He rewards good deeds. Ultimately, every blessing is due to the mercy of God; the decision to forgive somebody and permit them in heaven is due to God’s mercy when all things are said and done.
There is no contradiction.
Lizzie will jump through hoops to support ideas such as the dying god-man or the trinity in an effort to justify these church beliefs as non-contradictory yet she will not even go beyond surface-level thought when talking about Islam. There’s a reason for this, she will not have any polemics left (and will ultimately have to consider Islam seriously).
A Catholic would understand this so perhaps Lizzie’s limitation in this regard is just simply born out of her denomination and the crowd she’s involved with.
Paul (not Williams, of Tarsus) talks about God giving eternal life as a reward in some sense in Romans 2:
6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
Would Lizzie says this contradicts Romans 3:24 which talks about justification by grace
24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Catholics would say our good works are a product of God’s grace and mercy. Catholics would argue the “reward” for the good works in Romans 2 is ultimately due to God’s grace.
Is this a contradiction the Bible? I don’t think so.
You’ve heard of James the Just, meet Hashim the Just
Hashim then argues against the Christian view of blood atonement. Is this not unjust?
This is a good argument: the moral issue of an innocent person suffering for somebody else. You know, if Lizzie’s church did not believe in this vicarious atonement idea, she’d be arguing exactly like Hashim against people who believe suchlike.
Hashim mentions the wrath of God being poured out on Jesus in the Church’s beliefs.
God’s anger toward sin has been satisfied in Christ because His wrath was poured out on Him, at Calvary. [Robert L Deffinbaugh]
24 eHe himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we fmight die to sin and glive to righteousness. hBy his wounds you have been healed. [1 Peter 2:24]
Lizzie does try to address this point by appealing to John 10:18, discussed later in this commentary.
Penal Substitutionary Atonement
We’re talking about a penal substitutionary atonement. If Lizzie and her church believe their sins were put on/in Jesus on the tree then are they saying Jesus suffered for every sin they do/did?
Are they saying the sin of a Christian bloke viewing porn was put on Jesus? How about the sin of lying? Every time Lizzie Schofield (or any Christian lie) or behave rudely, does that mean this sin was put on Jesus for him to suffer more pain?
If you truly believe this, the idea that every one of your sins (including being intellectually dishonest, lying about Islam, lying about Muslims, heckling Muslims, being rude and abusive towards Muslims, misrepresenting Islam etc.) means/meant Jesus felt more pain then; then why do we continually see so much sin in the church and amongst Christians?
How about the sin of a rapist? Are you saying the sin of rape was put on Jesus and he suffered for it? The sin of every rapist who became Christian and/or was a Christian?
Is that fair? Why should Jesus be punished for rape, bestiality, murder, racism, hypocrisy and other sins he did not commit?
This is a splinter of what Hashim is driving at here. Is this just?
Hashim also mentioned a verse in Ezekiel which seems to contradict the idea of somebody else suffering for your sins
I think he was referring to Ezekiel 18:20
The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.
Lizzie was willing to consider Islam and doubted Christianity? [#3.40]
Lizzie, now goes on to talk about how she had some doubts in faith after her last debate with Hashim. Apparently, if she’s not bending truth for effect (and having made Jesus feel even more pain according to her beliefs?), Lizzie was moved to think about what Hashim said in the last debate and began to think she could be wrong about her beliefs and Islam may be right. If the plain meaning of what she said is taken as true, then I applaud Lizzie for thinking about what the Muslim said. That is very, very encouraging.
However, I don’t agree with Lizzie Schofield’s thinking here. She says Hashim said to her if she comes to Islam she will be saved (this is of course is true – saved from being cut off from the presence of God, saved from the wrath of God, saved from Hell). What I don’t agree with is Lizzie being moved by a promise of salvation. A bloke could turn up at the park next week and make up a religion, Selfianity, and promise everybody Heaven as long as they believed and done what they wanted.
Would you consider that faith?
We should not be moved like this based on fluffy promises, regardless of how satisfied and good they could potentially make us feel. This is emotionalism. I always get the feeling, when listening to Lizzie, and to be honest, many Christians, that they are involved in the church because of this type of emotionalism, and/or support network that the church offers.
It’s clear that every faith offers salvation and promises salvation. But we must look into the theology of that faith rather than being moved by promises which may make us feel good.
Is the Bible clear on Faith/Works Salvation?
At ~ 5 mins Lizzie says the Bible teaches, “clearly”, our works will not lead us to salvation and it’s the grace of God which will save us.
This statement is not true for Lizzie (if Lizzie is consistent).The Bible is not clear on this issue, why else are evangelicals arguing with the biggest and the older church (Catholics) on this very topic? There’s a grey area here which should give us pause. The verse I showed above mentions a reward for works (Romans 2)
IF Lizzie is consistent, she would say the Bible is contradictory. But of course, she’s adopted a hermeneutic of friendship for her church tradition but for Islam it’s a polemical hermeneutical approach; if she’s doing it knowingly, that is intellectual dishonesty (which is a sin, something which Jesus suffers further pain for on her behalf according to her faith?)
Would Martin Luther agree with Lizzie Schofield?
I’d like to quickly show that even for Martin Luther, this idea was not terribly clear. Bart Erhman summarises this:
Since the Reformation, but especially since the 19th century, scholars of the Bible have noted that there are theological differences, sometimes big differences, among the books that made it into the New Testament. Martin Luther himself recognized this. When he made his famous German translation of the New Testament – which in German Protestantism carried the same kind of reverential awe and respect as the King James Version did in English-speaking Protestantism – he, as is well known, did indeed (of course) translate all 27 books. But rather than following their traditional, canonical order, he put four of the books in an “appendix” at the end: Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation.
The reason: he wasn’t really sure about the revelatory character of these books. His best known complaints were about James. The letter of James is quite explicit that a person is NOT “justified” (that is, put into a restored relationship with God) “by faith alone” but “by works.” For James, “faith without works is dead. Indeed, Scripture itself teaches that a person is justified by works through the example of Abraham. James quotes Genesis 15:6 to prove it. “And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” For James, this faith in God justified Abraham because of what he did: he willingly offered up his son Isaac on the altar to God as a sacrifice. And so it was not simply by believing God that he was justified, it was by doing something about it. (See James 2:14-26)
Luther considered this view to stand in flat contradiction to the gospel proclaimed by Paul, who was equally explicit. For Paul, a person is “justified by faith, not by the works of the law, for by works of the law will no one be justified” (See Romans 3 and Galatians 2). Paul backs up this view by appealing to Scripture – specifically to Abraham, precisely also the person named by James! What is more striking, he quotes exactly the same verse, Genesis 15:6, to prove it. For Paul, Abraham was justified (in Gen. 15) BEFORE he “did” anything (e.g., before he circumcised his son Isaac in Gen.17). And so justification comes before, not because of, works. [https://ehrmanblog.org/taming-the-diversity-of-the-new-testament/]
Personally, I don’t really care for this topic right now, it’s drifting away from the debate but it’s certainly something which I’d encourage Christians to think about – including Lizzie Schofield.
Hashim: Christians are not certain of their salvation
Hashim goes on to tackle this idea amongst certain Christians that they will certainly go to Heaven. The bulk of this is captured in this video. I would recommend you watch this short video and learn that in reality, Christians who have imbibed emotionalism, and strut about claiming they will certainly go to paradise. are not consistent with their texts. Hashim does a good job in bringing up important and relevant verses which are overlooked by this type of Christian in their dopamine fuelled proclamations.
Lizzie was deceived by a anti-Islam missionary website/missionary about a Hadith?
Lizzie tries to nullify Hashim’s philosophical criticism of vicarious atonement as being unjust with a tu quoque fallacy. The idea that you have this concept as well…
She tries to build this on old refuted internet polemics from the usual websites by misrespresenting a Hadith and stating that in Islam, Muslims will go to Paradise and be saved from Hell because a Jew/Christian will suffer in their place.
No. No. No. This Hadith has already been explained. I don’t understand why nobody in the anti-Islam Christian camp is relaying this response to other Christians so they don’t end up further propagating distortions of somebody’ else’s faith (which would be a sin, if done knowingly – meaning Jesus suffered more pain on the cross according to the church?).
The Hadith in question does not teach penal substititutionary atonement. Muslims don’t view it literally. It’s explained here.
You’ve got to represent our beliefs accurately, folks. Even if it means you have drop the polemics some older missionary/polemicist handed to you.
So, will somebody get the message across to those polemicists because I’ve seen this misleading polemic bandied about before.
The idea that God dies by his own creation…
The Muslim speaker, Hashim, raised up the issue around the blood atonement: God dying by his own creation. Lizzie did not pick up on this point and expand this talking point. That may just be because she was pushed for time or forgot. This is a very important discussion as the set Christian response based on orthodox Christian theology leads Christians, in my view, into a few different theological conundrums which I would like to see explored – this topic is of paramount importance. I think a properly conducted dialogue on this topic will help a Christian to see Christian beliefs to be contradictory and unravelled upon deeper thought.
Lizzie’s admission on hell implicates her in double standards (sin?)
Hashim got Lizzie Schofield to admit she believes the Bible teaches that non Christians (unbelievers) will be put in Hell forever. This was an notable admission because, previously, Lizzie (and Hatun Tash) had been attacking Islam for the belief that unbelievers go to Hell.
This video highlights this inconsistency on their part.
Like I say, if this was deliberate, it means Lizzie and Hatun were sinning (and having caused Jesus to suffer more pain according to their faith?) when attacking Islam because they were being intellectually dishonest. If it was not deliberate, then it begs the question, why are they preaching “Christianity” and what did Jay Smith, CJ Davis and Beth Grove teach them if they did not know this about their own faith a few months ago?
It’s a valid point for consideration.
Lizzie partially quotes John 10:18 to Hashim
Lizie (~13 mins) did try and address the issue of injustice (an innocent person suffering for somebody else) by arguing Jesus laid down his life willingly. Lizzie appealed to John 10:18 selectively. Crucially she did not cite the full verse, she omitted the last sentence of the verse – a sentence which could conflict with her interpretation. This issues was addressed here in more detail alongside Matthew 26:39 where Jesus is said to be praying to the Father to save him (Jesus) from death (Lizzie, if consistent, would claim this verse contradicts her interpretation of John 10:18)
She quickly moved on in an effort to use this verse to support the idea that he was God. Unconvincing.
Two points of consideration on this:
- I’d imagine Unitarians would simply argue that Jesus was given power by the Father thus the ability to raise yourself from death is not a proof of divinity – think about the proclamation in Acts 2:22 where it says miracles were worked by God through Jesus. I *think* this is how Hashim would have responded if he had had time to pick this up.
- For me, folks should be awfully wary when somebody quotes anything from John purported to be from the mouth of Jesus. We know scholars believe John changes things for theological reasons (for instance the day of the crucifixion) and we know scholars believe the sayings such as the I AM sayings are untrustworthy. Let’s be mindful of these things so we can have a healthier approach to John’s gospel. Remember, it’s John who introduced the spear thrust into the narrative. Let’s be wary, if one or more of the authors of John lie (or introduce spurious material into the story about Jesus unknowingly), then what’s there to say other parts of this gospel are not of the same spurious nature?
For more on John see here for the following two videos Craig Evans: Some Sayings in John Weren’t Said By Jesus and the video Is John’s Gospel Reliable
View at Medium.com
Lizzie’s mistake on 1 John 2 Corrected by Hashim
Lizzie was teaching the idea that Jews and anybody else who does not believe Jesus is the messiah (christ) is an antichrist. I think this verse would not fit in with today’s society I point this out as many anti-Islam Christians use today’s societal norms as judge, jury and executioner on what is true and what is not true religion.
Lizzie’s mistake was to assert this verse refers to Prophet Muhammad. She was unaware that the Quran teaches Muslims that Jesus is indeed the messiah. Hashim, did a splendid job in recalling this and bringing it to the attention of the audience – Lizzie included. A very important intervention by Hashim, a much needed one. The last thing we need is more misconceptions about Islam and Muslims. This debate was well worth the listen just for this part.
You catch this bit here
Overall, this was one of the more coherent and cordial Muslim-Christian dialogues at Speakers Corner. To give Lizzie Schofield her due, her behaviour has improved markedly since a concerted effort online to highlight unbecoming and unloving behaviour from anti-Islam types at SC. Hashim praised her for more controlled behaviour in this dialogue at the end of the debate; opening up the possibility for further dialogue. I’ve always believed this, even back when Lizzie was behaving erratic in videos, she’s the more reasonable out of the Jay Smith/DCCI Ministries crew. This is actually one of the reasons why she receives more opprobrium than the others – deep down she knows and is better than many of the things she’s said/done.
I would personally advise her to ditch the young guys who flank her and heckle for her. You’re a grown-up person, you really don’t need immature cheerleaders or supporters yelling and heckling for you from the margins whilst serious discussion is trying to take place – those young guys look uncontrolled and unsophisticated. There’s a bit of that in this discussion with Hashim – thankfully Hashim was experienced enough to not allow it to detract from the dialogue.
The fact remains, the paranoia and the “us vs them” mentality that Beth Grove and Smith injected into Speakers Corner is being overcome, slowly but surely. I also applaud Lizzie for thinking about what Hashim said, if she indeed did think Islam may be the truth. Hashim should try to engage with her more at the park, perhaps off camera as pride and cheerleaders should not influence important discussions and decisions concerning God.