Monday, April 12, 2010

The Angel of the LORD vs. Yahya Snow - Part Three

When I held out the illusory hope that Yahya would have the courage of his convictions to debate this subject, I anticipated him making several strategic mistakes, not the least of which is errantly assuming that certain canned objections made against the New Testament witness to the Trinity would have any relevance to the Old Testament. Although he decided not to follow through with the debate, his attempted rebuttal of Sam's teaching on the appearances of God in the Old Testament as the Angel of the LORD show that he would not have disappointed me in this regard.

When Muslims argue against the New Testament witness to the deity of Christ, they often point out that Jesus nowhwere claimed to be God. Although this claim is false and flawed for many reasons, the fact is it is easily demonstrated to be false when it comes to the Angel of the LORD in the Old Testament. In fact, it is largely because Muslims like Yahya are ignorant of what the Old Testament says that they can say with a straight face that Jesus never claimed to be God.

More than once in his post Yahya registers this objection along the following lines, "If God were the Angel, God would be guilty of secretly showing up, for he never claimed to be the Angel" (my paraphrase). Now it is far from clear, to grossly understate the matter, why God is not aloud to stop by without giving advanced notice, as if he is some kind of uninvited house guest or felonious intruder; or why, once He does draw near, He needs to make sure He first checks in with the local authorities so they know He is in town. But as I said, it really isn't necessary to explain to Yahya why that is - though one would have assumed that Yahya knew that God can appear when, where, and how He pleases, and that He doesn't even need to leave His calling card - for there are occasions when the Angel openly and directly identifies Himself as the LORD.

For example, in Genesis 28 it is written:

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying...I am with you and will watch over you whereever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his had and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel [House of God], though the city used to be called Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, the LORD will be my God and this stone I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth." (Genesis 28)
Clearly in the passage above the person speaking declares Himself to be LORD and God. The significance of this appears by comparing it to Genesis 31, verses 10-13, where Jacob recounts a dream he later had in Paddan Aram:

"In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. The angel of God said to me in the dream, 'Jacob.' I answered, 'Here I am.' And he said, 'Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.'"
No doubt it is because the Angel of the LORD declared Himself to be a divine theophany, that Jacob blessed Joseph in the name of the Angel:

"Then he blessed Joseph and said,

'May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,

the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,

the Angel who has delivered me from all harm — may he bless these boys.

May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth.'" (Genesis 48:15-16)

Another passage from the Old Testament of which Yahya is apparently ignorant, is the account of God's appearance to Moses in the burning bush - Exodus 3. Most people who read the account quickly grasp that it is God who is talking to Moses and never even notice that there is more to the story than that.

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up." When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' " God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation."
As much as Yahya may not like it, the Angel, without beating around the bush, declares Himself to be Yahweh and not an ordinary angel.

Another closely related claim made by Yahya is that no prophet ever declared the Angel of the LORD to be God. All of the instances we've already seen prove the opposite, since they are recorded in the prophetic writings. So far we have seen in the writings of Moses that the Angel was recognized as God by Hagar, a testimony of such a nature as would not likely be included if Moses did not agree and was not seeking to convey that very point, and we've also seen it in the cases just mentioned, where the Angel is recorded as identifying Himself as such to both Jacob and later to Moses. These testimonies ought to be sufficient to disabuse Yahya of yet another false assumption, but occasion will arise to point out other examples in future posts, Lord willing.


minoria said...

You are right,I had never noticed that in EXOD 3 the messenger of YHWH and YHWH are the same.Thanks,put it in my notebook.In the forum that's from Spain in which I participate things are going well.One Muslim is trying to convince us Jesus died in Kashmir.There's a Christian called Xisca who knows alot and we give info.My writing still is shorter now,to cram in as much info as possible.
In avraidire I have added articles that I try to make interesting,trying to save others what it took me years to find out,they can find out in a few months or weeks.

minoria said...

I participate in Paul William's Blogging Theology and a Muslim had asked for links to the Ebionites.The post was rejected so I left another one saying to come here.I hope that post gets approved.In case it does,here is the info he asked:

"Hello Maratsafin:
They had a number of writings,even accepting a modified form of MATTHEW.Here is a skeptical article(very thorough),they lasted for centuries,all the info we have of them comes from the Christians.
We dont have any of their writings,they were destroyed by the Christians or simply neglected and fell into dust.The article even claims the original LUKE said explicitely Jesus had Joseph as a father(so no virgin birth).
Then there is the CARMEN CHRISTI,a hymn-creed that says Jesus died on the cross,using both words.It’s from 45-50 AD.It’s considered independent by skeptical scholars.

Here is a Christian article that has quotations from,for example EHRMAN’s LC(Lost Christianities)about the Ebionites,the last part is “Historical Sources Used for the Scriptures of the Ebionites”,it quotes from scholars,like Ehrman.

An excerpt from the radical NT JEWISH scholar HYAM MACCOBY,who did NOT believe Paul was Jewish,a view rejected by all scholars(in his “The Mythmaker:Paul and the Invention of Christianity)and who believed the Ebionites were the real thing,and that they rejected the virgin birth.

Scholars accept the Christian statements the Ebionites believed in the RESURRECTION based on the HISTORICAL METHOD CRITERIA called ENEMY ATTESTATION and MULTIPLE ATTESTATION(in this case of various anti-Ebionites).Another reason is if they HAD denied the resurrection it would have been pointed out by their enemies."

Royal Son said...

"We dont have any of their writings,they were destroyed by the Christians or simply neglected and fell into dust.The article even claims the original LUKE said explicitely Jesus had Joseph as a father(so no virgin birth)."

No virgin birth would make the Qur'an false. Why Muslims can't see these things is beyond me.

minoria said...

Royal Son:
Obviously you're right.But a Muslim would say the true infoof the Virgin Birth(like that of Jesus being rescued from the cross)got lost,why Allah would allow it,not known.

minoria said...

I'm sure the claim the original Luke,it's earliest copy(claim of the article)that it said Jesus had Joseph as his father is false.EHRMAN would have announced it in his MISQUOTING JESUS.Since he didn't it's not true.

Nakdimon said...

Hi Minoria,

I wanted to comment on the piece of Paul Williams. First of all, I really cannot believe how Muslims can live with the fact that Islam offers them no evidence for their claims whatsoever. What do I mean by that? Paul makes the following comment:

“We dont have any of their writings,they were destroyed by the Christians or simply neglected and fell into dust.”

And that is the entire story of Islam, really. Every piece of evidence that is supposed to either disprove Christianity or prove Islam is lost or has disappeared somehow. It sounds like a two kids arguing over something that one of the kids brag about being able to do and then says “I really can do it, but I won’t do it right now” and thus ends up looking like a fool.

There is supposed to be an original Torah – All proof for that is lost.
There is supposed to be an original Gospel – All proof for that is lost.
There is supposed to be an original Zabur – All proof for that is lost.
All the prophets were supposedly Muslims – All proof for that is lost.
Jews used to call to Allah as their God – All proof for that is lost.
Jews used to worship Ezra – All proof for that is lost.
Girls in 7th century Arabia matured more rapidly (in the case of Aisha) – All proof for that is lost.

And the list goes on and on. Everything these people claim cannot be backed up. Here is another of their claims, as made by Paul Williams:

“…even accepting a modified form of MATTHEW. Here is a skeptical article(very thorough),they lasted for centuries,all the info we have of them comes from the Christians.”


“The article even claims the original LUKE said explicitely Jesus had Joseph as a father(so no virgin birth).”

Not only are we to believe that these heretics lasted for CENTURIES accepting the modified Matthew, but we are also to believe that none of their material exists and that it all was either destroyed or vanished into thin air. How is it possible that so many writings of small heretical groups, that lasted a couple of decades or that were often local groups, managed to have been found, yet the material of these groups that lasted “FOR CENTURIES” and were likely to have been scattered all over the place didn’t mention to reach any of us? Not even a scrap!

Not to mention the (you guessed it) non-existent “original Luke”. We are to assume that the Luke we have is a fraud and that the original is… lost! Upon what basis? None! All these theories are quite nice and all, but in the meantime we are stuck with this Gospel of Luke that explicitly mentions the virgin birth of the Messiah and this document goes all the way back to the first century.


aussie christian said...

Nakdimon, you are absolutly correct, muslims do love to shout about all the "lost" proof they have.

They do love to say, we had the proof for centuries but you nasty Christians destroyed it all.

well all I can say is if you have no proof you can not claim it as fact, if you have proof bring it forward or stop going on about it.

minoria said...

Hi Nakdimon:
The parts you quoted were by me,not Paul Williams.Simply repeating what the articles in the links said,not endorsing them 100%.
All the same the post written directing Maratsafin to come here to get the links he asked for(on the Ebionites)is still in Paul Williams' blog,so Maratsafin already knows.

The value of the Ebionites is:
1.They show that dissident group from Palestine believed in the DEATH and RESURRECTION of Jesus,and accepted him as MESSIAH.

2.There is no proof ANYBODY in Jerusalem/Palestine in the 1st century AD and LATER for hundreds of years ever thought Jesus did NOT die.

2.It confirms INDEPENDANTLY St.Paul's assertion on the DEATH-RESURRECTION belief in PALESTINE(and nothing else).

Sepher Shalom said...

Where is Yahya? He's able to post his complaint in another thread that a bus ad campaign is advertising protection for apostates from Islam, but he is absolutely silent on the "Angel of the LORD" series.

Traeh said...

I wonder if any other religion has referred to God as "I Am."

Somewhere, the Protestant theologian Peter Berger suggests that Western individualization occurred in part as a kind of polar response to God's complete Otherness as experienced through the Jewish faith. In other words, self and other necessarily come into being together. The Jews experienced God as so transcendant, so Other, that they developed a correspondingly strong sense of selfhood, individuality. This individuality, though in a new form, was then transmitted to the whole world through Jesus. Plus consider: when the ancient Jews silently uttered the divine name, "I Am," or heard it silently echoing within them, how must that have gradually awakened them to their own sense of "I-hood"? We take individuality so for granted today, but as you look back in history, the farther back you go, the more peoples seem to lack individual egos. Just as Piaget tried to illuminate the development over time of specific inner structures of thought and self in the child, so also in history, arguably, one can see the development over time of various layers and stages of soul and mind, and the relatively late evolution of conscious individual ego. According to Ortega y Gasset, the ancient Greeks, with their questioning and skepticism, carved a sort of hole in the plenum of consciousness, thus setting the stage for a sense of inwardness that human beings had not possessed before, or not in the same way. The Greeks developed over time the beginnings of a sort of inner emptiness where the gods no longer imposed their voices. One could in a way stop the imperious flow of overwhelming existence, withdraw somewhat inwardly, and think. But this, as Ortega describes it, was an empty space, a hole that skepticism had carved out of the plenum of primitive consciousness. Christianity, he said, began to fill that hole with a positive force. I understand that as the divine "I Am," Yahweh incarnating slowly into the evolution of consciousness. The human ego first appears in full form through Christ. Julian Jaynes, in his Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind said that Christianity was the first religion for conscious men. Rudolf Steiner held that Jesus Christ was the pivot of all earthly and cosmic evolution, and that Christ had brought a certain climax to the evolution of consciousness by bringing the individual ego to human beings. That ego, the divine "I Am", had been descending toward the earthly realm for eons, and only really "landed" on Jesus at the moment of the baptism in the Jordan by John. It was then, when God's voice is heard saying, "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased," -- it was at that moment that Jesus became God, when the dove descended on him in the Jordan. Before that time, he had been only the most spiritual man who ever lived, a conflux of all the best spiritual streams of humankind. But in the Jordan, God descended on him and he became God in an utterly unique sense.