It was a lively exchange and both men did an admiral job representing their respective positions. Dr. Wood argued as follows:
1. Jesus died
2. He was alive again later
3. Therefore, he rose from the dead
Dr. Ally began his opening statement conceding that the traditional Muslim response to the crucifixion (substitution theory) was incorrect. Then, he proceeded to argue that the gospels have evolved over time and that what "Christian scholars" are now discovering through scholarship is consistent with a Muslim position that Allah took Jesus up to himself before he died on the cross.
In response, Wood demonstrated that the best of modern scholarship demonstrates that Jesus died on the cross.
To be sure, Dr. Ally is certainly a gentlemen, but I was repeatedly frustrated by his historical methodology. During the debate, Dr. Ally repeatedly cherry-picked verses and quotes that suited his position. For example, at least two times during the debate, Dr. Ally quoted the gospels as if they were reliable sources after arguing that the gospels were unreliable sources! Moreover, I found it deceptive that Dr. Ally would quote liberal scholars such as Marcus Borg and Robert Price as if they represented mainstream Christian scholarship. This is simply not the case. Dr. Wood wisely pointed out the deceptive nature of this methodology, but I never heard a convincing response from Dr. Ally. He did attempt to argue that it was their arguments that mattered and not their positions, but throughout the evening he neglected to present their arguments in any clear or convincing way. Finally, during the Q and A, Dr. Ally left the realm of academic argument and entered into pure speculation. Dr. Ally seemed willing to consider any alternative explanation, no matter how outlandish, except for the scholarly consensus position- Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross under Pontius Pilate.
Finally, as Dr. Wood noted, Dr. Ally's case for the "evolution" of the gospels rested upon work done by Marcus Borg in his book "Evolution of the Word." But interestingly, Dr. Borg agrees with the central facts Dr. Wood used to make his case for the resurrection!
I am grateful to both men for a lively discussion, but in the end, Dr. Wood made the better case.
Who do you think won? Please share in the comments below!
Courage and Godspeed,