By Sam Shamoun
On September 28, 2015 my colleague, noted Christian philosopher and apologist, David Wood debated Shabir Ally on the following two topics:
“Is Jesus the Son of God?"
"Is Jesus a Prophet of Islam?"
Both debates can be viewed here.
These were perhaps the most embarrassing debates that I have ever seen Ally engage in, since Wood was simply superb in refuting Ally’s arguments, especially as he highlighted Ally’s blatant inconsistencies, as well as doing such a masterful job of bringing out the quite damaging implications of Ally’s own claims and criteria upon Allah supposedly being a competent and trustworthy deity. In my opinion, Wood simply outclassed Ally in both debates and it seemed that the latter didn’t know what hit him.
With that said, I have often noted that Ally will shamelessly misquote and misrepresent scholars and sources in order to mislead his audience into thinking that the authorities that he appeals to basically agree with his assumptions and objections against the Christian faith. It is not surprising then to find him doing so again against Wood, such as misrepresenting what renowned NT scholar Robert Gundry stated concerning Matthew’s account of the risen Jesus’ commissioning his disciples to baptize all nations in the name of the Triune God. Ally basically claimed that Gundry denies that this text supports the Triune nature of God. Suffice it to say that is NOT what Gundry wrote or even insinuated, as anyone reading any of his commentaries on Matthew can easily verify.
When I called in during the Q&A segment of the debate so as to challenge Ally’s manhandling of Gundry, Ally sought to justify his deliberate misuse of this reputable exegete by claiming that he was referring to a different commentary on Matthew’s Gospel that Gundry wrote.
In light of Ally’s attempt to go into damage control mode, I am going to cite from two of Gundry’s commentaries on Matthew’s Gospel. The purpose in doing so is to establish the fact that Ally got caught red handed in a lie, and he knew it. And yet instead of owning up to his misrepresentation of this fine scholar, Ally decided to make the problem even worse for himself by compounding his lie further.
Pay close attention to what this noted NT scholar says regarding Matthew’s reference to Trinitarian baptism:
“For those who enter the school of Christ, baptism is the rite of initiation. Matthew describes this baptism as 'into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.' eis to onoma is a favorite phrase of his (3,2) and occurs nowhere else in the synoptics. Further Mattheanisms include patros (22,13), hyiou (27,16), and hagiou pneumatos (0,3). Matthew edited the story of Jesus' baptism so as TO EMPHASIZE THE TRINITY (see the comments on 3:16-17; cf. 12:28); yet only Jesus' name is associated with baptism in Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; 1 Cor. 1:13, 15 (cf. Rom 6:3; 1 Cor 6:11; 10:1-4). Therefore Matthew seems to be responsible for the present formula. But the formula does not imply utterance OF THE TRINITARIAN PHRASE at the time of baptism. Instead 'in the name of' means 'with fundamental reference to' and distinguishes Christian baptism, demanding allegiance TO THE TRIUNE GOD, from John's baptism, requiring only repentance.” (Robert Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church Under Persecution [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI; 2 edition,1995], p. 596; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Does this sound like Gundry didn’t believe that this specific verse could be used to support the Trinity?
Now compare the following:
“… Usually others approach Jesus. But because the disciples are kneeling on the ground in worship, he approaches them. His claim to have been given all authority in heaven as well as on earth contrasts with the Devil’s having offered to give him ‘all the kingdoms of the world and their glory’ if only he’d fall down and worship the Devil (4:8-9 [compare Daniel 7:14]). ‘Therefore’ makes this claim of universal authority the basis for the Great Commission. The passages 7:29; 9:8; 11:27; 21:23 show that Jesus has had this authority all along. But the present passage confirms that authority and lifts geographical restrictions on his exercise of it. ‘All nations’ corresponds to ‘all authority.’ No nation lies outside the sphere of Jesus’ authority, and therefore nobody is exempt from the obligations to follow his example of getting baptized (see 3:13-15 with comments) and to learn and keep his commands…
“Baptism is the rite of initiation into Jesus’ school. Baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit PUTS A TRINITARIAN CAST ON THIS BAPTISM, ESPECIALLY IN THAT ALL THREE ARE INCLUDED IN ‘THE NAME,’ AND THUS HIGHLIGHTS JESUS’ DEITY BY SANDWICHING ‘THE SON’ BETWEEN ‘THE FATHER’ AND ‘THE HOLY SPIRIT.’ ‘In the name of’ indicates acceptance that God is both Jesus’ and your Father, that Jesus is his Son in an unrivaled sense, and that the Holy Spirit (not Beelzebul [12:22-28]!) empowered Jesus. As a whole, THIS TRINITARIAN FORMULA distinguishes this baptism from John’s baptism, which had to do only with repentance in view of the soon coming of the kingdom of heaven (3:1-12). ‘All things … that I’ve commanded you’ links up with ‘as many as they are’ to underline the obligation of complete obedience (compare Exodus 7:2; Deuteronomy 1:3; 30:8; Joshua 1:7; Jeremiah 1:7). ‘Behold’ underscores Jesus’ presence with the disciples wherever they go throughout the inhabited earth in fulfilling their commission (compare 24:14). He won’t be physically present with them, as he has been heretofore, but he’ll be with them in the way the Lord was with his people to help them in the past (compare 18:20; Genesis 26:24; 28:15; Exodus 3:12; Joshua 1:5, 9; Judges 6:12, 16 and so on) and in this sense will continue to be ‘Immanuel … God [is] with us’ (1:23). (So as to not call such presence into question, Matthew omits an account of Jesus’ ascension to heaven, though the return from heaven in 10:23; 16:28; 24:30; 26:64 implies an ascension.) In line with the deity of Jesus, his ‘I’ in ‘I am with you’ replaces ‘God’ in the echo of ‘God [is] with us.’(So as to not call such presence into question, Matthew omits an account of Jesus’ ascension to heaven, though the return from heaven in 10:23; 16:28; 24:30; 26:64 implies an ascension.) In line with the deity of Jesus, his ‘I’ in ‘I am with you’ replaces ‘God’ in the echo of ‘God [is] with us.’ ‘All the days’ assures the disciples of Jesus’ uninterrupted presence and implies an extended period of time such as a worldwide making of disciples will take. ‘Till the consummation of the age’ assures the disciples of Jesus’ untruncated presence. They’ll need it especially throughout the time of unprecedented affliction just before the second coming (24:15-30).” (Gundry, “Matthew,” Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation [Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI 2010], pp. 135-136; bold and capital emphasis ours)
The exact same quotation above is found in his other commentary on Matthew as can be easily verified by simply clicking on the following link.
In light of the foregoing, could Gundry have been any clearer as to his position regarding Matthew 28:19 and its affirmation of the Triunity of God and Jesus’ essential Deity? And can it get any more obvious that Ally deliberately misrepresented what this scholar actually believes about this particular text?
More importantly, what greater proof does one need to confirm my assertion that Ally is notorious for misquoting and mishandling scholars and sources?
For that Ally needs to be exposed and put to shame, as opposed to being hailed as some alleged great Muslim scholar and debater.