Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is Sharia Law Coming to Canada? The Battle for Free Speech




The Canadian Parliament will be voting either this Wednesday of Thursday on Motion 103 which seeks to condemn all forms of Islamophobia. The problem is, the term Islamophobia is never defined. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom already guarantees freedom of religion, as well as freedom of opinion, expression and so forth. The Criminal Code of Canada also protects various groups of people from hate crimes which includes Muslims, Christians, Jews, and all religious groups. So why do we need this Motion to give special status to Islam which in fact contravenes the Canadian Charter? Why not also include Judeophobia, Christophobia, and Hinduphobia? Why does Islam receive special rights? The 57 member state organization (all of which are Muslim countries) called the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also wanted to pass a resolution at the United Nations making Islamophobia an offence. For more information on the OIC and Islamophobia click here. A number of videos addressing this issue were put together with two of my colleagues Rev. Sule Prince, and Dr. Scott Masson, We would appreciate your prayers as Canada as a nation is entering a very dangerous point in our history, If you are a Canadian and would like to sign an online petition to stop Motion 103 please click here.



















Friday, February 3, 2017

Who Wrote the Pastoral Epistles? The Case for Pauline Authorship (Part 2)

In my previous article, I began to make a case for the traditional view concerning the authorship of the Pastoral epistles, namely, that they were in fact written by Paul the Apostle. My case is based primarily upon undesigned integrations between the Pastoral epistles and the book of Acts and/or undisputed letters of Paul. In this second installment, I continue that endeavor. In the previous article, the undesigned coincidences on which I hung my case were from the second epistle to Timothy. Here, I will present a couple more cases from 2 Timothy in order to clinch the case. I will then turn my attention to 1 Timothy and Titus.

Undesigned Coincidences (Continued from part 1)

Coincidence #3

In 2 Timothy 2:22, Paul instructs Timothy to "flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." This connects with 1 Timothy 4:12, in which Timothy is instructed to "Let no one despise you for your youth." It is thus fitting, given that Timothy was evidently a young man, that in the 2nd epistle Paul warns Timothy to flee from youthful lusts.

This also connects with what we read in 1 Corinthians 16:10-11:
"When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers."
The integration between those texts is only incidental. In his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul instructs the Corinthian Christians not to despise Timothy when he comes, "for he is doing the work of the Lord", just as Paul was doing. Paul gives no indication of why the Corinthian Christians might despise Timothy. It is only when we read 2 Timothy that we learn that it was because of his youth.

Coincidence #4

In 2 Timothy 3:10-11, we read,
"You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me."
 The Antioch here mentioned was not Antioch the capital of Syria but rather Antioch in Pisidia, to which, as we read in Acts 13, Paul was sent along with Barnabas. The book of Acts tells us (13:50-51),
"But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium."
 Acts 14:1-7 tells us what happened next:
"Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel."
In Acts 14:19-21, we read of what happened in Lystra:
"But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,"
It is thus evident that this account relates directly to the persecutions that Paul references in 2 Timothy 3:10-11, where he alludes specifically to his "persecutions and sufferings that happened to [him] at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra."

What, then, do we have so far? We have a conformity between Acts and 2 Timothy in terms of his persecutions in those three cities of Antioch, Iconium and Lystra. There is also conformity of the fact that he suffered these persecutions in immediate succession and in the order in which Paul mentions the cities in his letter to Timothy. Another point that bears mentioning is that, in Acts, Lystra and Derbe are frequently mentioned together, whereas in the quotation from 2 Timothy, Lystra is mentioned while Derbe is omitted. And sure enough, in the book of Acts, we do not read of Paul facing any persecutions in Derbe. Rather, we are told in Acts,
"But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch."
Thus, there is perfect correspondence not only between the enumeration of the cities in which he faced persecution, but also where that enumeration stops, and the accounts of his persecutions as given in Acts.

But it gets even cooler than that. Paul seems to imply that Timothy witnessed these persecutions that happened to him in these cities, or at the very least is very well acquainted with them and can bring them to mind. Could this provide to us another coincidence? Let's turn back to the book of Acts to find out.

According to Acts, Paul made a second missionary journey through the same country. The purpose for this trip is given in Acts 15:36:
"And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”"
Thus, we learn, that the purpose of the journey was to check on those who had been converted during the first journey to see how they were doing.

In Acts 16:1-2, we further learn,
"Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium."
We thus are informed that either Derbe or Lystra was Timothy's hometown. It is clear from the text that Timothy had already been converted by the time of this visit. And Paul himself refers to Timothy as "my true child in the faith" (1 Timothy 1:2) and "my beloved child" (2 Timothy 1:2). This indicates that Timothy was most likely Paul's own convert. It then follows that Timothy was almost certainly converted upon Paul's previous journey through these cities, at just the time when the apostle had undergone the persecutions alluded to in his letter to Timothy.

Conclusion

This concludes my positive case for the Pauline authorship of 2 Timothy. In what follows in future posts, I turn my attention to the authorship of 1 Timothy & Titus, two letters which are fairly unanimously agreed to come from the pen of the same author as one another. We will then turn to the popular objections and show why I find them to be unconvincing.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Who Wrote the Pastoral Epistles? The Case for Pauline Authorship (Part 1)

Image result for apostle paul
Among the New Testament letters, few have come under as immense fire as the pastoral epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus). Although they purport to be written by the Apostle Paul, many Biblical scholars today are convinced that the letters are pseudonymous and in fact written after Paul's death. It is generally thought, however, that at least 1 Timothy and Titus are written by the same author. Thus, these two letters may be taken as a unit. Evidence that one of these letters comes from the hand of Paul is also evidence that the other likewise comes from Paul's hand. In a series of articles, I am going to present the case that the traditional view -- namely, that the author of these three letters really was Paul the Apostle -- is correct. More than that, I will show that the denial of Pauline authorship of these epistles is very difficult to reconcile with the evidence. In future posts I will also examine some of the objections to Pauline authorship and assess how convincing they are.

Why Does It Matter Who Wrote the Pastorals?

Establishing the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals is significant for a few reasons. For one thing, the author of 1 Timothy regarded Luke's gospel as Scripture (1 Timothy 5:18). Thus, if 1 Timothy was written before Paul's death in the 60's A.D., Luke's gospel (probably the latest of the synoptic gospels to be written) must pre-date the writing of this epistle by long enough to be regarded as authoritative Scripture by the time of Paul's writing. This places the date of the gospels way back. Second, 1 Timothy 6:13 mentions Jesus bearing witness before Pontius Pilate, which provides testimony independent to that given in the gospels for that scene -- also refuting some of the Jesus Mythicists who maintain that Paul's view of Jesus did not entail Jesus actually living upon the earth. Thirdly, the Granville Sharp construction in Titus 2:13 ("our great God and Savior Jesus Christ") affirms the deity of Christ, adding to the body of evidence from the non-disputed Pauline letters for Paul's high Christology. 1 Timothy 3:16 also affirms the Deity of Christ, where Paul speaks of God being "manifest in the flesh".

Commonalities with Paul's Works

One interesting consideration is certain commonalities with the letters of Paul. For example, 1 Corinthians 6:9 contains the first utilization in Greek literature of the term ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai). This expression literally means man bedder, and is used by Paul to refer to homosexuals. It is derived from a conjunction of two Greek words found in the Septuagint translation of Leviticus 20:18. The exact same term is also used in 1 Timothy 1:9.

Another interesting similarity that is worth mentioning is that 1 Timothy 5:18 quotes from Deuteronomy 25:4 (“You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain”), which is exactly the same Scripture quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:9.

These similarities, however, are at best suggestive and certainly do not clinch for us Pauline authorship. How, then, can we demonstrate convincingly that the author of the Pastoral epistles was indeed Paul the Apostle?

Undesigned Coincidences


In previous articles, I have written on the subject of the principle of undesignedness. For those readers who are unfamiliar with the concept, I suggest reading my previous articles on the topic (here, here and here). An undesigned coincidence arises when one has two different historical accounts that interlock in a way that is unexpected it (a) the story is being made up out of wholecloth; (b) one account is borrowing from the other; (c) both documents are copying the story from a common source.

In addition to helping us to corroborate Biblical history (as shown in my previous articles), cases of undesignedness can also often help us to corroborate the authorship of a letter. This is the case with the epistles of Paul, which often dovetail with incidents which we read of in the book of Acts.

Coincidence #1

One simple example of where the pastorals dovetail with the book of Acts is the statement in 2 Timothy 3:14-15:
"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
We also read in 2 Timothy 1:5,
"I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well."
This means that either one, or both, of Timothy's parents must have been Jewish. When we flip over to the book of Acts, we read (16:1),
"Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek."
Sure enough, the verses from 2 Timothy fit like a hand in glove with what we read in Acts. Notice also that Acts makes mention of the mother alone being a believer. Acts suggests that the father was not a believer. Likewise, in the epistle, Paul praises Timothy's mother Eunice for her belief (even making mention of her name, which is not given in Acts). But he makes no mention of the father.

Coincidence #2

Another, somewhat more compelling, example of an undesigned coincidence can be found in 2 Timothy 4:20: "Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus." Paul here mentions his solitude, and urges Timothy, "Do your best to come before winter," (verse 21).

We know from the book of Acts 19:22 that Timothy and Erastus were "two of his helpers", which means Timothy and Erastus evidently knew each other well (hence it is fitting that Erastus should be mentioned in a letter to Timothy). It seems also a fair presumption that the city of Corinth was Erastus' home, hence why Paul mentions to Timothy that "Erastus remained at Corinth." It is fascinating, then, that when we turn to the epistle to the Romans (16:23), we read, "Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you." Now it turns out that Erastus was the city treasurer for the city from which Paul was writing his epistle to the Romans. If, then, we can establish a firm case, on completely independent grounds, that the epistle to the Romans was written in Corinth, this then would explain why Paul at the close of his letter specifically mentions Erastus' greeting of the Roman church -- and it would be a coincidence too subtle to be the product of design.

How, then, can we be sure that Paul was writing his epistle to the Romans from Corinth? In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, we read,
"Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me."
Here, we learn of a collection that was going on in the city and Paul wants the collection to be ready by the time he arrives in Corinth. In Romans 15:28, we read,
"When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you."
Paul mentions here that the collection is ready and that he intends to deliver it. This implies that he was in fact writing from Corinth. This then explains why he mentions in 2 Tmothy 4:20 that "Erastus remained in Corinth" and in Romans 16:23 mentioned Erastus as the city treasurer.

Notice that it is only by putting together the pieces from different sources that we can arrive at a coherent picture. These patterns are not at all what would be expected from a forgery.

Conclusion

As seen in the above examples, we have a powerful argument for Pauline authorship of the pastorals from undesigned coincidences found in them. In future posts, I will document other cases of undesigned coincidences supporting the Pauline authorship of the pastorals. Finally, I will refute some of the popular objections to the pastorals having been written by the Apostle Paul. The reason that I have decided to present the positive case first, and then answer popular objections is that I want to present first a context, lest we miss the forest for the trees.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Uniformity of Expressive Silence and Corrboration of Biblical History: The Case of Rebecca and Bethuel

In a previous article, I showed how the principle of undesignedness can be used to corroborate Biblical history, giving the specific example of its application to the story of David, Absalom and Ahithophel the Gilonite. For those unfamiliar with the principle of undesignedness, I suggest reading my earlier two articles on the subject (here and here) for a discussion of it.

Another sort of undesignedness can sometimes arise when we examine cases where information is assumed by the author although not explicitly spelled out -- this may be called the uniformity of expressive silence -- repeated omissions that have a meaning. Here, I give an example of this from the book of Genesis.

Genesis 24 narrates the story of Abraham's servant's journey to the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia in search of a wife for Isaac. He encounters "Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother", who "came out with her water jar on her shoulder." Abraham's servant requests a drink of water from the jar. Rebekah gives him some water and also some for his camels to drink. In verses 22-28, we read what happened next:
22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, 23 and said, “Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?” 24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25 She added, “We have plenty of both straw and fodder, and room to spend the night.” 26 The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord 27 and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master's kinsmen.” 28 Then the young woman ran and told her mother's household about these things.
The point to which I wish to draw attention is the consistent insignificance of Bethuel throughout the narrative. Bethuel was the father of Rebekah, and thus it is reasonable to expect that the terms of a marriage contract would be stipulated by him. Indeed, in the case of Laban in Genesis 29 in regards to his disposing of a daughter in marriage -- a daughter who, like Rebecca, had brothers (see Genesis 31:1) -- the active party throughout the account is the father, Laban.

Contrast this with the case of Bethuel in our current text in Genesis 24. Abraham's servant had asked her, “Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?” (verse 23). We are then told, however, that "the young woman ran and told her mother's household about these things," (Genesis 24:28). Notice we are not told that she ran to her father's household (as Rachel did in Genesis 29:12 after meeting Jacob), but rather she ran to her mother's household. Verse 29 further informs us, "Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban. Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring."

After having been invited in to the house by Laban, the servant explains the purpose of his visit (verses 34-49). In verse 50, we read,  "Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said,.." The mention of Bethuel constitutes the only proof that he was alive at the time of this incident. It is agreed that the servant may "take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master's son, as the Lord has spoken," (verse 51).

The servant then gives gifts, we are told, "to Rebekah" and "to her brother and to her mother," (verse 53). Curiously, no gifts are given to Bethuel, it would seem. In verse 55, we read, "Her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.”" It would seem expected that such a proposal would be made by her father. Instead, it is made by her mother and brother. After inquiring of Rebekah, it is decided that she would leave with the servant after all (verses 58-61).

Abraham's son Isaac marries Rebekah, and together they have a son called Jacob (Genesis 25:26). After Jacob deceives his father Isaac into blessing him rather than Esau, the eldest (Genesis 27), Rebekah counsels Jacob to flee because Esau planned to kill him,  Along his journey, he encounters some shepherds and asks them “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” (Genesis 29:5). This is strange, because Laban was the son of Bethuel and only the grandson of Nahor. Yet, again, we see Bethuel passed over as an individual considered of no importance among his own family. Bethuel's own son, therefore, is identified by the name of his grandfather rather than his father.

We can not state the specific circumstances surrounding Bethuel or explain exactly why he was a man considered of no note. Who knows? Perhaps he was considered incapable of managing his own affairs due to age or imbecility. Whatever the reason, Scripture does not tell us. However, the lack of concurrence in a positive fact but silent presumption of that same fact suggests that the author knew something more than we do about the circumstances than he discloses in his account thereof. It is the sort of pattern we expect in real history, but not the sort of pattern we should expect from works of fiction.

Did the Idea of Jesus' Deity Develop Over Time? A Conversation with Dr. Tony Costa



Here is the recording of this past Saturday's webinar of the Apologetics Academy (see complete schedule here for currently confirmed speaker lineup). Here, Dr. Tony Costa speaks about early church Christology and addresses the question of whether the earliest Christians believed that Jesus was God. Spoiler alert: It features a lively interaction with Muslim polemicist Paul Williams.

Be sure to subscribe to the Apologetics Academy YouTube channel to be kept up-do-date with webinar recordings as they are released.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Was the Earliest Christology the Highest Christology? A Conversation with Dr. Tony Costa


On Saturday January 28, 2017 we will be having a session with theologian Dr. Tony Costa who will talk to us regarding the high Christology found in the earliest Christianity. The meeting takes place at our usual time of 8pm GMT / 3pm Eastern / 2pm Central / 12noon Pacific.


Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://zoom.us/j/457736238

Or iPhone one-tap:  16465588656,457736238# or 14086380968,457736238#


Or Telephone:

Dial: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)
 
Webinar ID: 457 736 238


International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=5VaKUGtZgKph5g_86aiAKHSbBNyH70xj

For more information see here

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What Is Some Of The Greatest Evidence For The Resurrection? Jonathan McLatchie on the One Minute Apologist



Here is the eighth and final video clip from my recent series of interviews for the One Minute Apologist video podcast, recorded at Life Fellowship Church in North Carolina with Pastor Bobby Conway. Here, I discuss some of the greatest evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.

Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to be kept up-to-date with my latest video releases.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Biblical Typology and Prophecies About Muhammad: A Reply to Yahya Snow

Image result for messianic prophecyPreviously, I published an article on this site about the evidential value of Messianic prophecy in making the case for Christianity. Shortly thereafter, Yahya Snow, a notorious Muslim polemicist, published some comments regarding my article on the blog of Paul Williams, Blogging Theology. Normally, it is courtesy to link to an article that you are responding to. Yahya, however, doesn't do this.

Muslims are desperate to find prophecies about Muhammad in the Bible. They are desperate because the Qur'an, in Surah 7:157 and 61:6, tells us that Christians and Jews can read of Muhammad in the Torah and Injil. Therefore, if Muhammad cannot be found in the Torah and Injil, Islam is false. Muslims have had 14 centuries since then. They have searched high and low to find cases of Muhammad in the Bible. To-date, all of the argued cases they have come up with have turned out to be completely empty -- in most cases to the point of being laughable. For further in-depth discussion of this topic, here are two of my appearances on ABN where I discuss this topic -- here and here.

Over at Blogging Theology, Yahya Snow couldn't contain his excitement as he read my article. If Christians could use a typological hermeneutic in interpreting Messianic prophecy, why couldn't Muslim do the same thing for Muhammad?

Is the Trinity Biblical? Jonathan McLatchie on the One Minute Apologist



Here is the seventh video in my recent series of interviews for the One Minute Apologist video podcast with Pastor Bobby Conway in North Carolina. Here, I discuss the subject "Is the Trinity Biblical?" Enjoy! :)

How Can the Principle of Undesignedness Help Us To Corrborate Biblical History? The Case of David, Absalom and Ahithophel the Gilonite

Image result for jigsaw puzzleThe principle of undesignedness was first identified by the famed Christian philosopher William Paley (1743-1805), in his book Horae Paulinae. Therein, he highlighted example after example of undesigned integrations between the epistles of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles -- that is, cases where two or more of those sources dovetail with each other in a manner that cannot be attributed to the design of the author. In 1850, J.J. Blunt published his book Undesigned Scriptural Coincidences, in which he took Paley's argument further, documenting examples in the Old Testament, as well as between the gospels, and between the gospels, Acts, and Josephus. I have previously discussed several examples of undesigned coincidences between the gospels in this article.

The principle of undesignedness is a forgotten but brilliant argument which can be used to corroborate Biblical history. In this article, I will give an example of how it can be used.

2 Samuel 15 details the story of King David's son Absalom conspiring against his own Father. In verses 7-12, we read,
"And at the end of four years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. For your servant vowed a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to the Lord.’” The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron. But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’” With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing."
In verse 12, Absalom sends for Ahithophel, David's counselor. Who is this man, Ahithophel? According to 2 Samuel 16:23,
"Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the word of God; so was all the counsel of Ahithophel esteemed, both by David and by Absalom."
Ahithophel, then, was the most trusted adviser to King David. Why, then, did Absalom count on Ahithophel to join him in conspiring against the King?

In 2 Samuel 23, in a completely unrelated part of the text, we have an important clue. Verses 24-39 list the thirty-seven body guards of King David. In verse 39, we have a familiar name -- Uriah the Hittite, the husband of Bathsheba. Another individual mentioned is Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite (verse 34). This means that Ahithophel's son was a colleague of Uriah the Hittite.

It gets even more interesting when we look over at 2 Samuel 11, in which we read of David's adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite. Here is what we read in verses 2-3:
"It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"
Thus, it appears that Bathsheba was the the granddaughter of Ahithophel, David's counselor, and her father Eliam himself was among the King's body guards along with Bathsheba's husband Uriah. This then explains why Absalom in chapter 15 expected Ahithophel to be ready to conspire against King David and why Ahithophel joined Absalom's rebellion. He wanted revenge on David for what he had done to Bathsheba and Uriah.

But it gets even more interesting. Flip over to chapter 16 and verses 20-22:
"Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give your counsel. What shall we do?” Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father's concubines, whom he has left to keep the house, and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.” So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof. And Absalom went in to his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel."
Why do they pitch a tent for Absalom on the roof so that he can sleep with his father's concubines? It was on the roof that David's eye first caught Bathsheba bathing, resulting in his adulterous affair and his murder of her husband Uriah. Her grandfather Ahithophel then seeks revenge, and so encourages Absalom to sleep with his father's concubines on the roof of the palace.

Now, note that it was only by putting together different, seemingly unrelated, parts of the text that we were able to arrive at these explanations. Nowhere in Scripture is it explicitly spelled out that Ahithophel was the grandfather of Bathsheba. Rather, one has to do detective work in order to see beneath the surface what exactly is going on here.

This is not the sort of pattern that one might expect in stories of myth and legend. Rather, it is the hallmark of truth. In future blog posts, I will look at other similar neat examples of how we can use the principle of undesignedness to corroborate Biblical history.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

What Is The Moral Arena Evidence For God's Existence? Jonathan McLatchie on the One Minute Apologist



Here is my latest video on the One Minute Apologist video podcast, in which I discuss the "moral arena evidence" for the existence of God. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

What is an Example of Irreducible Complexity? Jonathan McLatchie on the One Minute Apologist



Again, somewhat off-topic for the usual content of this blog but might be of interest to some readers. He is the fifth in my recent series of One Minute Apologist interviews with Pastor Bobby Conway at Life Fellowship Church in North Carolina. Here, I talk about an example of irreducible complexity and how it poses a challenge to evolution. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What is the Waiting Time Problem in Evolutionary Biology? Jonathan McLatchie on the One Minute Apologist



Somewhat off-topic for the normal content of this blog, but I thought it might be of interest to some readers. This is my latest appearance on the One Minute Apologist video podcast. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to be kept up-to-date with my latest video releases.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Who Did the Earliest Followers of Jesus Believe Him To Be? Jonathan McLatchie on the One Minute Apologist





Here is the third video in my recent series of interviews for the One Minute Apologist video podcast, in which I discuss with Pastor Bobby Conway the beliefs of the earliest followers of Jesus concerning His identity. Enjoy! 

Please subscribe to my channel to be kept up-to-date with my latest video releases.
:)

Monday, January 9, 2017

What is the Apologetics Academy? -- Jonathan McLatchie on the One Minute Apologist





Here is the second in my recent series of videos which I recorded with Pastor Bobby Conway at Life Fellowship Church for the One Minute Apologist video podcast. Here, I talk about the ministry I founded last February called the Apologetics Academy. 

If you have benefited from the work of the Apologetics Academy and would like to help this work continue, please consider making a donation via the website.
:)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Evidential Value of Messianic Prophecy

Image result for hebrew scripturesOne of the great lynch pins among the evidences for the truth of Christianity is the argument from Messianic prophecies -- that is, the fulfillment, climax and culmination of Old Testament Scripture in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. We read in the gospel that, following the resurrection, Jesus appeared to two Jewish men on the road to Emmaus, "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself," (Luke 24:27). Along with the resurrection, the argument from Messianic prophecy was the central apologetic of the early church. For example, it is said of Apollos that he, while in Ephesus, "powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus," (Acts 18:28).

Unfortunately, Messianic prophecy has been frequently misunderstood by many a contemporary apologist. When studying Messianic prophecy, one must bear in mind the distinction between a Greco-Roman conception of prophecy and a Hebrew understanding of prophecy. For the Greco-Roman world, a prophecy consists of a one-to-one correspondence of prediction and fulfillment. On the other hand, the Hebrew concept of prophecy was rather broader than that. While it is undeniable that there are Messianic prophecies of this category in the Hebrew Scriptures (e.g. Isaiah 52:13-53:12), more often prophecies consist of foreshadows and typologies. It is, therefore, a misguided approach to attempt to quantify the number of Messianic prophecies (I have seen some estimates of more than 300!) and mathematically compute the probability of all of those prophecies being fulfilled in one man.

To illustrate the fallacy of this approach, let's consider an example of how prophecy is used by Matthew. In Matthew 2:13-15,
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
The Old Testament text being quoted here is taken from Hosea 11:1. An inspection of the first two verses of Hosea 11, however, reveals that the context is not Messianic at all! Here's what we read:
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 2 But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
The context, therefore, concerns God having called the nation of Israel out of Egypt during the Exodus. It is not a prophecy about Jesus in the sense that we would normally use that word. Nor was it ever understood to be by the Jews before the time of Christ.

What is going on here, one might ask? Is Matthew attempting to pull the wool over our eyes and dupe us into thinking that this is a prediction of the Messiah, earnestly hoping that his readers will not take the trouble to look up the text for themselves? Of course not. Rather, Matthew takes this text to be fulfilled typologically. For Matthew, Jesus is the perfect Israelite, or the greater Israel, if you will.

Matthew similarly portrays Jesus as the greater David. There is nothing, for instance, in the immediate context of Psalm 22 which would lead us to conclude it is Messianic. Indeed, it would only be interpreted as Messianic through the lens of the New Testament. Yet it is intimately weaved into the fabric of Matthew's passion narrative, including the soldiers casting lots for his clothing (Matthew 27:35; Psalm 22:18); people wagging their heads at him (Matthew 27:39; Psalm 22:7); people mocking saying "He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him," (Matthew 27:43; Psalm 22:8); and Jesus' cry from the cross, "my God, my God why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1).

What, then, for us as Christian apologists, is the evidential value of Messianic prophecy? Surely, you might think, to rely on a Messianic prophecy, which can only be understood as such through the lens of the New Testament, is an exercise in circular reasoning.

The first point to recognize is the numerous 'coincidences' surrounding the ministry and passion of our Lord, as reported by the gospels. Jesus, according to all four gospels, is slain at the time of Passover, an annual Jewish commemorative feast when the people of Israel would remember the final plague upon the Egyptians (the slaying of the firstborn son of each household), and the deliverance of all those households who smeared the blood of a slaughtered lamb on their doorpost (see my blog post here for more info). Another coincidence is that mount Calvary, where Jesus was reportedly crucified, just so happens to be one of the mountains in the region of Moriah where Abraham was instructed to offer up his son Isaac in Genesis 22 (see my blog post here for more info). We know this because 2 Chronicles 3:1 informs us that Solomon built his temple in the Moriah region.

I will not give further examples of such 'coincidences' here. Suffice it to say that there are many more which could be given. My purpose here is rather to outline what is, in my opinion, the best and most effective way of framing the argument based on them.

The second point that we need to note is that there are three hypotheses for the origins of Christianity. These are:

(1) The gospel authors deliberately set out to deceive and mislead people into believing their accounts to be recalling real history.

(2) The gospel authors were themselves honestly mistaken.

(3) Christianity is true, and the gospels report genuine history concerning the life of Jesus.

The numerous typological 'coincidences', of which but a few examples are briefly described above, militates strongly against hypothesis (2). The occurrence of so many correspondences between Jesus' life as reported by the gospels and the Hebrew Scriptures surely can only either be the product of divine orchestration, or human design in the telling of the stories.

Once option 2 is removed from our consideration, one only has to provide evidence for the sincerity of the gospel authors -- i.e. that they were not deliberately setting out to deceive, and genuinely believed their accounts to be recalling real history. Multiple lines of evidence can be drawn on to support this conclusion. One could also show that the gospel accounts exhibit certain patterns which are unlikely to be the work of a forger -- such as the criterion of undesignedness, the criterion of embarrassment, the frequency of names relative to external contemporary sources, etc etc.

To conclude, then, what may we say is the evidential value of Messianic prophecy? In my opinion, the strongest way to present the argument is to use Messianic prophecy to undermine the hypothesis that the gospel authors were honestly mistaken. One's focus may then be directed toward the task of eliminating hypothesis (1) -- namely, that the gospel authors deliberately set out to deceive. Having refuted both competing hypotheses, one is left with yet another powerful argument in support of the truth of the Christian worldview.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Apologetics and Uber?: Jonathan McLatchie on the One Minute Apologist


I was recently in North Carolina. Pastor Bobby Conway of Life Fellowship Church was kind enough to record a new batch of interviews for his video podcast, One Minute Apologist. The first one just got released, in which I talk about a recent encounter with a Muslim Uber car driver. Enjoy!

Please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel to be kept up-to-date with further video releases.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Can Muslims Trust the Hadith Any Longer?




In Islam, the two main sources of authority are the Qur'an and the Hadith. The Sira or Life of Muhammad is another importance source which is considered the earliest biography of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq even though it was written about 150 years after Muhammad. This biography was then again edited much later by Ibn Hisham. Islamic scholars and schools of jurisprudence have reiterated the importance of the Hadith as an invaluable source of for the Sunnah, the model and way of Muhammad that is to be imitated by Muslims. In many places the Qur'an points to Muhammad as the model and exemplar to be followed as we see in this passage, "Verily in the messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembereth Allah much" (Qur'an 33:21; Pickthall). If one does not know what Muhammad said and did in any given situation, how can a Muslim fulfill this passage of the Qur'an?

The Qur'an however only mentions Muhammad by name only 4 times, a strange oddity considering the fact that he is considered the seal of the prophets and the model to be emulated by humanity. Since the Qur'an says next to very little about Muhammad, his birth, his parentage, his early life before the call in A.D. 610, the events of the first call in the cave, the Heijra or migration to Medina in A.D. 622, and his untimely death in A.D. 632 among other things, how can Muslims understand Muhammad and his life? An Islamic website says the following about the Hadith [or Ahadith; plural]:

Therefore, the Ahadith of the Messenger of Allah certainly form the second source for the Sacred Islamic Law - the Shari’ah, as these are the one and only means of gaining information as regards the Messenger of Allah; his commands; his sayings; his actions; his explanations and commentaries on the verses of the Holy Qur’an, all of which are necessary for us to know in order for us to understand the Holy Qur’an. 
Now, we quote a few of the many verses from the Holy Qur’an, in which on innumerable occasions we have been commanded to follow in the footsteps of the Messenger of Allah. Thus, making it obligatory upon us to follow his teachings. [source; bold italics mine]


The Hadith as we can see is indispensable to Islam. Although the Qur'an claims to be clear, "A Book whose verses are set clear, and then distinguished, from One All-wise, All-aware" (Qur'an 11:1; Arberry; bold lettering mine), "And We have sent down on thee the Book making clear everything, and as a guidance and a mercy, and as good tidings to those who surrender" (Qur'an 16:89; Arberry; bold lettering mine), most of the Qur'an is in fact, very unclear. Thus the need for the Hadith. The Qur'an by itself is a closed and cryptic book. It needs to be deciphered and interpreted and the Hadith fulfills this function. It is in light of these considerations that I am finding it strange indeed that there is a move to dispense with certain Hadith, particularly those ones which portray an unfavorable picture of Muhammad. 

In the video clip above which is taken from a debate I had with Dr. Shabir Ally a few months ago, I make reference to some embarrassing details regarding Muhammad's call in the cave, how he was aggressively grasped by a spirit being, how he thought he had been possessed by one of the jinn, and how this caused him to have suicidal thoughts to the point that he was going to cast himself from a cliff. This account is recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari 9.111 and also Ibn Ishaq, Sira, p, 106 and in Al-Tabari, Ta’rikh al-Rusul wa’l-Muluk, Vol. VI, p. 68. The "Sahih" reference indicates that this narration is "sound". I commented on the fact that we have no parallels to this with the biblical prophets. Dr. Ally then made an interesting statement when he noted a number of "academic scholars" do not take the Hadith collections as being authentic even though traditional Muslims do. Dr. Ally explains that one should take a "balanced" view. But what is the criteria to determine a "balanced view" or the middle position? 

It seems that the criteria rather, is that when the Hadith casts a bad light on Muhammad it is unauthentic, and when it casts a positive light, it is authentic. Is this an objective and consistent methodology? Or it is an arbitrary, subjective, and ad hoc approach? If the Hadith can be dispensed in this way, what does this say about the Ijma, the consensus of Muslim scholars regarding the Hadith? Is it possible all the Hadith are wrong? If so, can the Qur'an be properly understood? Should Muslims follow Quranism, a movement which holds to the Qur'an only (the Islamic version of sola scriptura) and rejects all the Hadith as late and unreliable forgeries? The move to arbitrarily dispense with the Hadith , even the ones classified as "sahih" (!) should cause many Muslims to pause and consider the consequences.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

#BoycottDelta??? Adam Saleh's Latest Plane Prank Exposed

Youtube sensation Adam Saleh claims that he and his friend Slim Albaher were kicked off a Delta Airlines flight for speaking Arabic, and the complaint on Twitter has launched the #BoycottDelta campaign. But can we trust Adam Saleh when we know that he has fabricated discrimination stories in the past? In this video, I go through Adam Saleh's previous plane pranks to see if his account can be trusted.