A local Christian minister and a nationally-known Muslim apologist will hold two debates to discuss the differences – and, in some cases, the striking similarities – between Christianity and Islam in Kansas City, Kan., this weekend.

The debates, between Dr. James O. Maxwell, minister emeritus of the Roswell Church of Christ, and Nadir Ahmed, who calls himself an apologist for Orthodox Islam, will be held at the church, located at 2900 Roswell Avenue in KCK. They will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, March 2, and 5 p.m. Saturday, March 3.

Maxwell said Christianity and Islam are a lot more closely related than people may think – in fact, Muslims and Christians believe in many of the same principles.

“The main difference between Islam and New Testament Christianity is that we believe Christ is the last and final prophet for all time, and that he’s the savior,” Maxwell said. “In Islam, they believe in Christ, and they believe he was a good man. In fact, Orthodox Muslims accept the virgin birth of Christ, and also that he was sinless and performed miracles.”

But Muslims believe that the prophet Muhammed is actually the final prophet.

“They believed Muhammed received a revelation from the Angel Gabriel that he was to be the final prophet of all time,” Maxwell said, “that he was to succeed Christ. They believe he is the Second Coming.”

Maxwell believes spectators at the debate will find the two faiths’ similarities significant.

“They will be stunned, because a lot of people don’t know how close we are,” he said.

Because of those similarities, Ahmed said the debates, like dozens of others he’s participated in, should be cordial.

“It’s never been heated,” he told the Kansan on Wednesday. “We’re really not attacking each other’s religion; we’re just attacking what we believe is bad evidence. I make sure that what I say doesn’t offend people, but at the same time I do try to press my issues.”

Ahmed, a 35-year-old who currently lives in Peoria, Ill., runs the Web site www.examinethetruth.com, which outlines his debates in favor of the Islamic faith.

Whenever he talks to members of the media, Ahmed said he always brings up the topic of terrorism. He said many Christian evangelicals blame terrorism on Islam, but they never step forward to debate the issue.

“It’s really amazing that we haven’t had a single debate with their theories being challenged,” Ahmed said. “People say that Islam is a violent religion, and I’d love to debate that.”

Ahmed said terrorism is specifically addressed – and condemned – in the Qur’an.


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