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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Responding to Speaker's Corner Encounters 2: Hamza Myatt vs. Northern Irish Girls

Here is the latest video I made along with my friends Vladimir Šušić and Chris Claus responding to encounters at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park. Here, we interact once again with the argumentation of Muslim polemicist Hamza Myatt that he levels against Christianity in a recent dialogue he had with some Northern Irish girls. Enjoy!

Be sure to also subscribe to my YouTube channel to keep up-to-date with my latest video releases.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Open-Floor Apologetics Q&A, with Jonathan McLatchie (Rock Hill, South Carolina)

I recently did an open-floor apologetics Q&A for students in Rock Hill, South Carolina. We covered Islam, science & faith issues, intelligent design, arguments for God, and more -- the video is embedded above. Be sure to subscribe to my channel to be kept up-to-date with my latest video releases.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Responding to Speaker's Corner Encounters 1: Hamza Myatt vs. Liz

I recently put together a series of four videos responding to some very muddled argumentation presented by Muslim polemicist Hamza Myatt of Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park, in an encounter with a Christian friend of mine, Liz Mooney. I was joined by my friends Vladimir Susic (from Montenegro) and Chris Claus (from Canada). I have embedded the videos below -- enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

I hope you find these videos helpful and edifying. Please consider subscribing to my channel on YouTube, to keep up-to-date with further videos as they are released.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Upcoming Debate: Was Mary a Sinner Saved by Grace or the Sinless Queen of Heaven? Parallels with Islam?

For those of you in the Carlisle, Pennsylvania area, I will be debating Robert Sungenis on the topic of Mary, the blessed mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. Was she a sinner saved by grace, or the sinless queen of heaven? You may be wondering what this has to do with Islam? Much in every way. The Hadith seem to insinuate that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was sinless from birth. Let us examine what the evidence shows

In the Hadith collection, both Jesus and His mother Mary appear to have been sinless, an apparent precursor to the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary which was declared a dogma to be received by the faithful on December 8, 1854 by Pope Pius IX. We find the following Hadith statements [bold letters mine]:

 “Abu Huraira said, ‘I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘There is none born among the offspring of Adam, but Satan touches it. A child therefore, cries loudly at the time of birth because of the touch of Satan, EXCEPT MARY AND HER CHILD.’” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 641; see also Volume 4, Book 54, Number 506).

 “Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: No child is born but he is pricked by the satan and he begins to weep because of the pricking of the satan EXCEPT THE SON OF MARY AND HIS MOTHER…The newborn child is touched by the satan (when he comes in the world) and he starts crying because of the touch of satan.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 030, Number 5837).

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The satan touches every son of Adam on the day when his mother gives birth to him WITH THE EXCEPTION OF MARY AND HER SON. (Sahih Muslim, Book 030, Number 5838; see also Book 033, Number 6429).

If Jesus was not touched by Satan when he was born, and he was blessed and sinless, and Mary was not touched by Satan when she was born, this would seem to imply that Mary was also blessed and sinless. This of course is not what the Bible teaches. All have sinned and come short of God's glory (Romans 3:23), including Mary. Mary recognized her need for a Savior when she exclaimed, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (Luke 1:46-47). Sinners need a Savior. That is why Jesus came, to seek and save the lost.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Three Quran Verses Every Jew Should Know

The Quran has quite a bit to say about a number of groups, especially Jews. In this video, I present three Quran verses every Jew should know.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Licking Muhammad's Fingers

In Islam's most trusted sources, Muhammad told his follower that, when they eat, they must either lick their own fingers, or have other people lick their fingers for them. Why the strange ruling? Muhammad explains:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Crazy-Talk with Zakir Naik

According to the Quran (4:34), Muslim men can beat their wives into submission. Muslim apologist Zakir Naik claims that the beating is only symbolic, done with a toothbrush or a handkerchief. But if the beating is only symbolic, how can we understand passages in the Hadith about Muhammad beating Aisha or a woman being beaten until her skin turned green? Anthony Rogers discusses the problem.