Sunday, March 26, 2017

Shara Law and Apostasy: An Interview with Sandra Solomon



Here is the fourth and final interview that I and my friend Pastor Sule Prince had with Sandra Solomon on the subject of sharia law and apostasy.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Theresa May Calls London Terror Attack "Perversion of a Great Faith"

On March 22, 2017, Muslim convert Khalid Masood launched a terrorist attack that began on Westminster Bridge and ended in Parliament Square. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack. In response, British Prime Minister Theresa May insisted that the London terror attack was a "perversion of a great faith."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Psychology of Islam, Part 2: Muhammad's Rebellion

In Part 1 of this series, we learned that the Defective Father Hypothesis (DFH) leads to certain expectations, given Muhammad's childhood experiences. In brief, based on DFH, we would expect Muhammad to rebel against authority and tradition; we would expect him to have a problem with father figures, and especially with viewing God as a heavenly father; and we would expect him to have some difficulty forming normal relationships with other people. In this video, we examine the historical evidence to see if our first expectation is confirmed. Along the way, we help Sheikh Yasir Qadhi understand Allah better.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Is Sharia Law Compatible with Western Democracy? Interview with Former Muslim



Here is the third video where I and my friend Pastor Sule Prince interview Sandra Solomon, a former Muslim, on the incompatibility of sharia law (Islamic law) with Western democracy.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Psychology of Islam, Part 1: The Defective Father Hypothesis

The only way to understand Islam is to understand the neuroses and psychoses of Muhammad. In this series, we explore the impact of Muhammad's abnormal childhood development on his later life and teachings. As we will see, Islamic theology flows directly from Muhammad's childhood traumas, via the "psychology of the defective father." In Part One, we explore the "projection theory of belief in God" proposed by Ludwig Feuerbach and Sigmund Freud, along with the "defective father hypothesis" of Paul Vitz.

Using the Principle of Undesignedness to Corroborate Biblical History: The Rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram

In previous articles, I have been using the principle of undesignedness to corroborate aspects of Biblical history, both in the Old and New Testaments. For my previous posts on this subject, I refer readers to my articles here, here, here, here and here. I recommend reading my previous articles if you are unfamiliar with the principle of undesignedness. You may also want to consider purchasing and reading Dr. Lydia McGrew's recently-published book, Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts (available from Amazon).

Here, I want to discuss a particularly neat example from the book of Numbers.

Numbers 16 tells us of a rebellion which took place against Moses. In verses 1-3, we read,
Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. 2 And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. 3 They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
The principle parties responsible for this conspiracy against Moses, we are told, were Korah of the family of Kohath and Dathan, Abiram and On, of the family of Reuban.

Here is the cool part. No fewer than thirteen chapters before this, in Numbers 3:29, it is mentioned in a completely different context and totally incidentally that,
The clans of the sons of Kohath were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle.
In the chapter previous to this one (Numbers 2:10), we are also told incidentally, and in a manner totally unconnected to the verse I just quoted from the following chapter, that,
On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben by their companies, the chief of the people of Reuben being Elizur the son of Shedeur,
It turns out, then, that the family of Kohath and the family of Reuben were camped on the same side of the Tabernacle, thus making them conveniently placed for taking secret counsel together against Moses!

Such a harmony between texts that are scattered around the book of Numbers might easily escape the notice of the reader. Indeed, this pattern is only detectable by putting together the various unconnected passages. It is this pattern which makes this example exhibit the property of undesignedness.

What was the fate of those rebels against Moses? Their fate is given in Numbers 16:31-34:
31 And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. 32 And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. 33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. 34 And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up!”
This gives rise to yet another undesigned coincidence. Compare this with what we read 10 chapters later, in Numbers 26:9-11:
9 The sons of Eliab: Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. These are the Dathan and Abiram, chosen from the congregation, who contended against Moses and Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the Lord 10 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, and they became a warning. 11 But the sons of Korah did not die.
Wait a minute. The sons of Korah did not die? We just read in Numbers 16 that "all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods" were swallowed up by the ground. Do we here have a Bible contradiction?

Take a closer look at Numbers 16:25-27:
25 Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.” 27 So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones.
Mention is made here of the wives, sons and little ones belonging to Dathan and Abiram (who were about to be the victims of the approaching calamity) standing at the door of their tents. No mention is made, however, of the sons of Korah.

How can we account for this? Korah was a Levite, and we know that the Levites pitched their camp closer to the Tabernacle than the other tribes. The Levites formed three sides of the inner square, whereas the other tribes would form the four sides of the outer square. Thus, the dwelling-tent of Korah would be a considerable distance from those of Dathan and Abiram, who were of the tribe of Reuben. This makes it plausible that the sons of Korah were a considerable distance from the catastrophe that befell the others -- a disaster that we know was of limited extent given that the congregation of Israel is instructed by Moses to "Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins" (Numbers 16:26).

In conclusion, then, in this one event of the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram against Moses we have seen there to be two independent cases of coincidence without design. The first was based on two independent and incidental mentions of the dwelling place of the family of Kohath and the family of Reuben (whom we are told dwelt on the same side of the Tabernacle), placing them conveniently for taking secret counsel against Moses. The second coincidence was based on the incidental mention in Numbers 26 of the survival of Korah's sons, the implicit omission in Numbers 16:27 of Korah's sons being present at the place of destruction, and our independent knowledge of where Korah's tent would have been relative to those of Dathan and Abiram.

As one continues to document case after case in the Scriptures of coincidence without design, we unearth more and more evidence for the substantial historical veracity of Scripture. In future posts, we will continue to document yet further cases, using the principle of undesignedness to yet further corroborate Biblical history.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Testimony of a Former Muslim: Sandra Solomon


Here is the second video where I and my friend Pastor Sule Prince interview Sandra Solomon and how she came to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"To sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant": A Response to Mustafa Ahmed



Muslim polemicist Mustafa Ahmed made a short video issuing a couple of proof-texts in an attempt to challenge my position that Jesus is God. These were Matthew 20:20-23 and John 20:17. Had Mustafa done a bit more careful research, he might have discovered that I have already written a whole article on John 20:17, which you can find here. I refer Mustafa and others to my comments in that article regarding John 20:17. Here, I want to make some comments in regards to Matthew 20:20-23. Here is the text to which Mustafa wishes to draw our attention:
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
Thus, Mustafa argues, this text plainly teaches that Jesus is not God, since he says that "to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Palestinian Ex-Muslim Sandra Solomon Warns Canada Against Sharia Law Women Abuse


I had the pleasure of joining with my friend Pastor Sule Prince in interviewing Sandra Solomon who is a former Muslim and now a Christian. We did a series of videos. This one deals with Sandra's experience living under sharia in Saudi Arabia and her challenges in leaving Islam. Please share with others.




Saturday, March 11, 2017

Reza Aslan Eats Human Brain on CNN's "Believer with Reza Aslan"

Reza Aslan, a professor of creative writing who masquerades as a scholar of world religions, recently ate a portion of a human brain on his CNN program "Believer with Reza Aslan." As part of his interactions with the cannibal Aghori sect of Hinduism, Aslan had his face powdered with cremated human remains and drank alcohol from a human skull before consuming the human brain.

Monday, February 27, 2017

I love Muhammad (p.) because I am Baha'i.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to some Baha'is and spent some time reading their literature. I found the way they promoted their religion to Muslims quite interesting. Here is a summary:

  • There is only one God.
  • Baha'i is one of the Abrahamic religions.
  • Baha'is worship the same God as Muslims but have a later more complete revelation which explains everything.
  • You cannot be a Baha'i if you do not love Muhammad and all the prophets.
  • The Qur’an foretells the coming of Baha'u'llah.

Islam does not accept these Baha'i claims. It says that the Baha'i religion does not take Muhammad and his teaching seriously, and instead imposes a Baha'i interpretation upon his life and the Qur’an. I agree, but what I find interesting is that Muslims use these same claims to promote Islam to Christians.

And for the same reasons why Muslims do not accept the Baha'i claims, so too Christians do not accept the Muslim claims: Islam does not take Jesus and his teaching seriously, and instead imposes an Islamic interpretation upon Jesus’ life and the Bible.

Muslims love Jesus the same way Baha'i love Muhammad.

If you love Muhammad you will read the Qur’an and Hadith. If you love Jesus you will read the Bible.

Further reading

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?