Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Lots of Calls on the Dividing Line Today
01/31/2006 - James WhiteThe phones kept me busy all day today on the DL. I did play the Daniel C. Peterson "any time, anywhere" clip again at the beginning, just for the fun of it, but other than that, we took lots of calls on a wide variety of subjects. Here's the program.
The Bankruptcy of Islamic Apologetics IV
01/31/2006 - James WhiteIn our last installment we quoted the source used (uncritically) by Islamic apologists, Bart Ehrman, regarding John 20:28. It needs to be understood (as evidently it is not by those citing him) that Ehrman is not foolish enough to try to argue that the original reading of John 20:28 is anything other than what we have in our texts today, i.e., that removing the article before the word "God" came from an early Christological controversy, i.e., the concern over modalism or Patripassionism. The original is what we have in our text. I don't get the feeling the Islamic apologists citing him understand this. Of course, given the "spin" in Ehrman's work, that's hardly surprising.
Let's work through the main points made in the paragraph found in Ehrman. First, Ehrman adopts a distinction made by some in the early church between the arthrous and anarthrous forms of theos,--between o` qeo,j and merely qeo,j. But this is not a New Testament distinction. In fact, it is one "violated" by John himself, in that he uses qeo,j with or without the article depending on context to refer to the true God. In fact, the very idea that the article can be so simplistically handled in Greek is convincing only to those who view the Greek article as if it is the parallel to the English article "the," and anyone who knows the language knows that is simply not the case. Greek articles are a world unto themselves. It is ironic to find Ehrman ignoring this basic fact. No serious discussion of the variant could possibly be offered without it.
Next, we need to recognize the textual data to which Ehrman makes reference. There is a single ancient manuscript to which he makes reference: Codex Bezae Catabrigiensis (D) from the fifth century. Ehrman's teacher in the field of textual criticism, Bruce Metzger, has written concerning this manuscript:
No known manuscript has so many and such remarkable variations from what is usually taken to be the normal New Testament text. Codex Bezae's special characteristic is the free addition (and occasional omission) of words, sentences, and even incidents. (Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 2nd ed., p. 50.)...
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A Vital Text to Know
01/30/2006 - James WhiteI have found this text to speak volumes in our day:
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. (1 Corithians 1:17, NASB)Briefly, please consider what Paul is saying concerning how we preach the gospel. It is possible to preach the gospel and thereby empty the cross of its power. I have already commented on this text back in June, here.
Da Vinci Code Blog Series
01/30/2006 - James WhiteWith a little help from MarieP, I've put all my Da Vinci blog articles into a single file, accessible here (note it is linked in the ad column as well). Please feel free to print out, format, distribute, memorize, yammer about, etc., freely. I will hopefully find a way to put up my PowerPoint presentation on the same topic in such a way as to thwart the inevitable lamers who try to crash your servers today as well.
The Bankruptcy of Islamic Apologetics (III)
01/27/2006 - James WhiteLet's briefly refute the assertions made by Deedat and Abdullah noted in the first post in this series. Note that Deedat repeated these errors ad nauseum: as far as I can tell, he never accepted correction on these issues, but repeated the same errors throughout his entire life.
1) "The context of the verse talks about an unbelieving Thomas being surprised when Jesus offers him evidence." False. There is nothing about "surprise" in the text. Deedat is begging the issue, inserting at the start what he ends up "finding" at the end. Circular argumentation.
2) "The exclamation, "My God," on his part was just astonishment. We use such exclamations everyday while talking to people. This doesn't mean that the person we are talking to is God." A common aspect of Deedat's presentation is this kind of fallacious argumentation. No one, of course, is arguing that because Thomas was allegedly surprised, this means Jesus is God. This kind of statement fills Deedat's lectures, yet, the only person influenced by such disjointed, illogical statements are weak minded individuals who cannot think through what is being presented. While we use exclamations every day, we are not in Thomas' position; further, the text says Thomas was addressing Jesus directly. Exclamations are not addressed to anyone; the text says Thomas' words are directly related to what Jesus said ("answered"); exclamations require no connection, thought wise, to what comes before. There is no foundation for Deedat's claims.
3) "For example, I see John cutting his wrist with a Rambo knife. I say: "My God, John what are you doing?" Do I mean that John is God? Of course not. Similar is the use of the expression by Thomas." Of course, a complete non sequitur for there is no parallel to the text in John 20:28. Jesus was not cutting Himself with a knife; Thomas had been told Jesus had risen; Jesus had invited Thomas to examine the proof of His risen body; Thomas responds not by saying "My God!" but "My Lord and my God," which is a completely different phrase; and Jesus then blesses the confession of faith on Thomas' part. Pure falsehood on Deedat's part.
4) "If you go into Jewish or Muslim societies even today, you'll hear people exclaim "My God, my Lord," at every situation which surprises them or causes them anguish or is astonishing." And I'm sure they are all standing before Saviors who have risen from the dead and provided then with proof of His resurrection. Sorry, but I have never heard such phraseology used by any Jew or Muslim.
5) "In the verse above Thomas says: "My God, my Lord." He was not claiming that Jesus was his (1) God and (2) Lord. If he did then the church and the disciples should have stamped him as a heretic right there and then. Because claiming that Jesus is Lord and God is a violation of Christian doctrine, which asserts that there is One God, the Father and One Lord, Jesus. Jesus can't be God and Lord." Pure ignorance or deception, depending. While qeo,j (theos) is normatively used of the Father, and ku,rioj (kurios) is used of Christ, there are exceptions. For this passage to violate the distinction between the Persons Thomas would have had to say, "You are the Father, the Son, and the Spirit!" or in some other way confound the divine Persons. Calling Jesus "my God and my Lord" does not identify Jesus as the Father. Hence, Deedat is shown to be in error once again. ...
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Today on the Dividing Line
01/26/2006 - James WhiteSingle topic on the DL today...finally got to the Bart Ehrman Issues Etc. interview, starting at the beginning. Got it almost completely covered during the program today. Here it is.
Neat New Stuff at Solid Ground
01/25/2006 - James WhiteAs soon as I saw Shamgar in channel saying the new e-mail from SGCB was giving him fits with book-envy, I knew I had to pop by and see what was up. I can see why! Two items that caught my eye immediately: Notes on Galatians by J. Gresham Machen should be most useful. It is coming soon. And From the Pulpit to the Palm Branch: A Memorial of C.H. Spurgeon would probably be a good thing for me to read before I speak at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in a few weeks! I also see that Mike Gaydosh and the folks at SGCB are really burning the midnight oil, since they are offering the complete works of Thomas Manton on pre-publication sale. Goodness, hide the Visa card! If you dare, take a look.
Islam's Apologetic Bankruptcy (II)
01/25/2006 - James WhiteLet's inject just a little truth into the discussion of John 20:28 before looking at the amazing claims of Islam's apologists and then trace them back to their source in Bart Ehrman.
The meaning of this text has been clearly understood from the start. Only a tremendous prejudice and bias could cause any person to miss the intention of John, and that is only more clearly seen when we take John's testimony as a whole. Indeed, when you read the text through the lens of the prologue, follow the argument through the I Am sayings, hear the testimony from Christ's lips concerning His relationship to the Father, you are truly not left in a position of being surprised when you come to Thomas' confession. That is why enemies of the faith have to cut John up, disconnect his own words, posit unproven and unprovable theories about redaction and a late date for the work, etc., to avoid its plain teaching. There is no question--none--that the author of the Gospel of John believed in the full deity of Christ and the full humanity of Christ, and that his faith was picked up by his disciples in the earliest generations of the church. Indeed, Ignatius of Antioch, who tradition says was directly acquainted with John the beloved disciple, called Jesus "God" frequently in his letters, and plainly confessed the dual nature of Christ. Note just a few citations:
For our God Jesus Christ, being in the Father, is more plainly seen. The work is not of persuasiveness, but Christianity is a thing of might, whenever it is hated by the world (Romans 3)
There is one physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate and ingenerate, God in man, true life in death, both from Mary and from God, first passible and then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Ephesians 7)
Any fair reading of the text leaves the suggestions of Deedat, Badawi, and the original suggestion of Abdullah, refuted. Thomas was not present when the risen Lord had first appeared to the disciples. When the Lord does appear, He gives Thomas instant indication of His supernatural knowledge, for He relates to Thomas the very challenge that Thomas in his unbelief had given to his fellow disciples. Now keep something in mind: Thomas was refusing to accept the testimony of eyewitnesses to the resurrection. Thomas knew these men. He knew their character, and yet his unbelief withstood their combined testimony. So when the Lord appears and invites Thomas to do exactly what he had claimed he would have to do to believe, he needs no further evidence. Indeed, there is no reason to believe that Thomas did, in fact, stretch forth his finger as invited. ...
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Today on the Dividing Line
01/24/2006 - James WhiteToday we began with the promised clip from Anthony Buzzard. When I asked for folks to respond, lo and behold our old friend Sam Shamoun called in, having heard this clip in its original context, and having written on the topic as well. Then we took calls on a wide variety of apologetic topics all the way to the end of the hour, which came pretty quickly! Here's the program.
A Fitting Memory Verse
01/24/2006 - James WhiteI apologize for having missed last week. I leave for the UK in two weeks and trying to get everything accomplished and ready--well, hey, even Pyromaniac has gone to the "team blog" approach (yeah, I've asked some of the guys who write stuff for this blog, but they all fear my red pen too much, so I muddle on alone!), so obviously time is at a premium. Anyway, in the mornings as I get caught up, a little, on what is going on in the world, and as I see the seething hatred of everything that is good and honorable and just on the part of major segments of our society, I cannot help but think of this verse. It's not the most popular, but goodness, it speaks so directly to our every day experience, I thought you might want to add it to your list:
And a little more fluid translation:
DL Time Change Today
01/24/2006 - James WhiteToday's DL will air at the normal Thursday time, that is, 4pm MST, 6pm EST, 3pm PST, and at 4:23:15 in Fargo.
I will be playing a clip from Anthony Buzzard where he provides his listeners with a "simple and effective" means of demonstrating that Jesus was not divine. Will you be prepared to point out his rather simple error? Be listening!
Da Vinci Code Level Nonsense in Islamic Apologetics
01/23/2006 - James WhiteJust a quick note about an amazing graphic I stumbled across in Misha'al ibn Abdullah's book, What Did Jesus Really Say? Here it is:
Let's look at the claims. First we are told that at the Council of Nicea "The Trinitarians gain the backing of the pagan Romans." I suppose that is the really accurate way of saying "The vast majority of the 300+ bishops, holding to the deity of Christ, are not opposed, but supported, by Constantine, at least at this point." Of course, when the Arians gained power in subsequent years, Constantine did not care. As long as he had political peace.
Next we read, "All conanical [sic] Gospels from before this period are destroyed." Yes, Conan was deeply involved in the canon process! What utter rubbish to claim that "canonical" gospels from prior to Nicea were "destroyed." This is pure fiction without a scintilla of historical support. All existing historical documentation witnesses against this pure falsehood and fabrication. But who knows, maybe this is where Dan Brown got his claims?
Next, "A new list of acceptable Gospels is drawn up." Really? By whom, Mr. Abdullah? When? Where? Try proving your point! Unlike Dan Brown, you can't hide behind the "fiction" label.
Next we have, "The Fourth century also sees the writing of the Codex Sinaiticus. Shortly after this, the Trinitarians finally agree on the final list of 'Truely inspired' books of the Bible."
Yes, a, Aleph, Sinaiticus, was originally copied around the time of Nicea, probably one of the fifty paid for and commissioned by Constantine in light of the Imperial destruction of the Christian Scriptures for decades before that. The summarization of the canon process in these words does not bode well for the depth of understanding of our Muslim apologist friends.
Next we read, "Nine different 'correctors' make over 14,800 changes to the Codex Sinaiticus over the next 14-15 centuries." ...
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Angelz on the Dangerz of Traditionz
01/23/2006 - James White
Some of you may remember a less than encouraging e-mail we received from a Dave Hunt fan last week. You remember...key phrases like "snide and arrogant" "mockery" "pompous contradictions" and the identification of yours truly as a "heretical wolf." Well, Angelz happened to be passing by the blog and saw the letter, and we all know what happens when you get Angelz upset!
01/23/2006 - James WhiteMemorization verses, John 20:28...it all gets to wait till I finish an article due today. Maybe tomorrow. Only so many hours in the day. Sorry!
Islam's Apologetic Bankruptcy
01/20/2006 - James WhiteI have been shocked over the past few weeks to realize that the best Mecca has to offer apologetically, particularly in reference to their attacks upon the Deity of Christ, fall far short of even that presented by our home-grown "Christian cults" like Jehovah's Witnesses. This has been particularly clearly demonstrated in the comments I have been hearing and reading regarding the Islamic explanation of John 20:28.
As I began working on what I thought would be a short little article, I began to realize that I had stumbled onto a subject that demonstrates, with more clarity than I had expected, the thesis I had in mind. That is, as I began following certain quotations and sources, I was able to see that everything I was finding had one of two sources, and one of those sources has become quite well known to all of us lately: none other than Bart Ehrman himself. The utterly uncritical acceptance shown by leading Islamic apologists for anything Ehrman has to say is amazing, especially given the fact that he would, if even slightly consistent, dismiss the Qur'an as a revelation from God just as he dismisses the New Testament, and for the same basic reasons. Be that as it may, I am still gathering some sources, but wanted to provide to you at least a start to this discussion of John 20:28
The text is well known. Note the context before and after the key words:
After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."...
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I Wonder How THIS Sermon Went Over?
01/20/2006 - James WhiteRead about it here.
Why I Haven't Blogged Today
01/20/2006 - James WhiteI intended to have a blog article up on the bankruptcy of Islamic apologetics with reference to John 20:28. However, as I have been chasing down references and URLs I have found some simply fascinating stuff, and with a major article for the CRI Journal due Monday, I may have to provide only the start of the series this weekend and put the rest off until I get the article finished. In any case, the study has once again brought me face to face with the wholesale, uncritical utilization of anything Bart Ehrman says by every enemy of the Christian faith, in this case, the Muslim citation of an almost laughable portion of Ehrman's main work regarding John 20:28. More as time allows. Stay tuned!
In looking into this subject, however, one of those wonderful folks in #prosapologian happened to notice on Ehrman's page at UNC that his anti-Christian crusade rolls on: coming in just a matter of weeks (March) from Oxford: The Transformation of Jesus: How a Jewish Prophet Became God. And the beat goes on. I'm sure we will get the best of his Jesus Seminar style presentation yet once again, and you will see it being mimicked by Islamic apologists all over the Internet. Sadly, it seems the "code of conduct" of "scholarship" keeps many sound Christian scholars from identifying Ehrman for what he is and openly exposing his giant leaps for the prostitution of sound scholarship they are. I guess that's why God has kept A&O nice and small and lean and mean: I have nothing to lose from those circles in speaking the truth. Of course, very few true believers in the "Academy" wander outside often enough to run into the real world of apologetics, so, they might be excused for not seeing the damage someone like Ehrman can do with the willing assistance of an unbelieving publishing industry, NPR, etc. I had better close this down now before I start preaching...
Today on the Dividing Line
01/19/2006 - James WhiteA bit of an odd DL today. I needed to use the first ten minutes or so to respond to some questions I had received about some comments I made on Isaiah 44:24 here. A JW apologist cited my comments, so I needed to provide a response.
After that I very quickly read the 14th chapter of Catholic Answers' new book on the "brothers of the Lord." As I noted earlier, I just can't understand how CA can continue to put out material that was dated in the late 1980s and has been refuted repeatedly since then as if none of us out here have been paying attention. Then, to provide a contrast, I played my opening statement on the same subject from my debate against Gerry Matatics in Salt Lake City a few years ago. Here's the program.
What Love is This?
01/18/2006 - James WhiteThough Debating Calvinism has been out for a while now, many of Dave Hunt's fans trust him so much they only rarely wander outside the realm of The Berean Call to see what others have to say. But when they do, the reactions can be quite interesting. Today we received this note from T.D. up in Wisconsin. Evidently it is in reference to the open letter I wrote in response to Dave when the first edition of What Love is This? came out (remember, Hunt has had to go through various editions now, each time "fixing" things without notice). This was the letter that prompted the writing of Debating Calvinism. If you have not read this letter, and are interested in the issues surrounding Dave Hunt's consistent, though oft-refuted, misrepresentations and attacks upon Reformed theology, I would recommend it to your reading. It is quite lengthy. The section on John 3:16ff has been useful to many. Another reason to read it is to get the background to the following e-mail sent to the ministry:
Dear Mr White, After reading your rebuttle to David Hunt's "What Love Is This?" publication, I found it odd that your website would be captioned with the words: "Our ambition... is to be pleasing to Him. 2 Cor. 5:9". I found your article to be snide and arrogant; and rather than promoting what you so vehemently claim to be truth by stating simple Scripture, you chose, instead, to allow sarcasm to make a mockery of the entire point you failed to make. The only point you concluded for any readers is that God's abounding love and grace (extended to ALL) will abide even through the ages and criticizings of heretical wolves like yourself. For the benefit of all, keep your pompous contradictions to yourself and save the world a whole lot of additional muck.
Thank you for your note. Of course, as I sit here looking at the many, many pages of biblical exegesis and argumentation, along with documentation of clear errors on Mr. Hunt's part in the article you claim to have read, I am left wondering what you are talking about. Over the years I have become accustomed to this kind of response, to be honest. In essence, I gored your traditional ox, and since you have no means of responding, the only thing left to do is to speak in vague generalities, engage in unsubstantiated ad-hominem argumentation, and hopefully, by the end, feel a bit better about it all. But does that really accomplish anything? If what I said in response to Mr. Hunt is true, and your highest call is to obey and follow the Word of God, you are now accountable to the truth you read in that article (if, in fact, you read all of it). What are you going to do about that? I know in our day and age the idea of being accountable to God for truth and for living in light of it is an odd idea. But what if I'm right? Think about it.
A Sad, Sobering Statistic
01/17/2006 - James WhiteJust a few days ago it was reported that for every 100 babies born in New York City, 74 babies died in abortions in 2004. There were 124,100 live births and 91,700 murders of helpless, unique human lives at the hands of "doctors" in NYC in 2004. Face it: Saddam Hussein didn't kill as many people in one place in one year. Their blood cries out.
Today on the DL
01/17/2006 - James WhiteToday on the DL I launched into Bart Ehrman's statement that if the Bible had truly been inspired, there would be no textual variants in manuscripts. Then we handled a few questions on...various subjects, then listened to a little John Shelby Spong. Here's the program.
By the way, who is this guy at the end of this promo clip? Odd looking fellow....
Oh, Scott Klusendorff was supposed to be on BAM today, but like all of us who seal ourselves in pressurized metalic cylinders miles above the earth's surface, he got sick, so Greg Koukl stepped in. Man I would love to see these guys get a chance to take on the leading pro-abortionists on Larry King or something. Scott and Greg rock! If you haven't availed yourself of their fine resources, here and here.
Craig and Ehrman to Debate
01/17/2006 - James WhiteJust saw Jason Engwer link this: a debate between William Lane Craig and Bart Ehrman on the resurrection. Now this fascinates me. Aside from the textual questions I would expect Ehrman to raise [btw, lest I forget: www.bible.org has a paper by Dan Wallace responding to Ehrman on John 1:18 that includes reference to a Master's thesis done in response to Ehrman's The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture by Stratton Ladewig that I need to order!], maybe, just maybe, getting Ehrman out of the strictly textual field will force him to reveal his Jesus Seminar like presuppositions with sufficient clarity to further document his bias in this field. Those in the area may wish to make plans to attend this one.
The Da Vinci Code XX: Finale
01/17/2006 - James WhiteThis past Lord's Day I once again had the opportunity of speaking to a congregation about The Da Vinci Code. At the end I made a point I want to make here at the end of this series of blog articles. We have two ways in which we can view the advent of Brown's novel, its deeply anti-Christian rhetoric and falsehoods, and the upcoming film. We can either wring our hands and mourn over the decline of our society, or, we can recognize that this is the context in which we have been called to witness and instead view this as an opportunity--a wide open door, in fact--to give testimony to our faith and the truthfulness of the Scriptures as the Word of God. Many will be talking about the film and accepting its unfounded, thoroughly false attacks upon the Christian faith and Scriptures: will we be ready to "step up to the plate" and give a meaningful response, using this as a platform from which to present the gospel? Or will we just close ourselves ever more off into our own enclave? This is the choice left to us.
Books like The Da Vinci Code thrive because we have become a society dependent upon external sources of information. We no longer learn things directly: we learn how to find out the data we need. Part of this is necessary: the body of human knowledge is now so much larger than it was in the past that there can no longer be a true "Renaissance man" who masters all fields of knowledge. While that is true, we have likewise become a people disconnected from history; we no longer are disciplined to learn, to memorize, to remember. And as we have ceased valuing honesty, integrity, accuracy, indeed, all aspects of truth, it is easy to understand how other values, like simple entertainment, have rushed in to fill the void. The result is not only sloppy thinking that cannot see two steps down a logical pathway (and hence identify errors in argumentation), but ignorance of history as well. The combination allows men like Dan Brown to amass millions of dollars on the basis of a pack of lies so inane, so silly, no person could possibly make a meaningful case for them in the face of cross-examination and rebuttal. Which is why, of course, he refuses to put himself in a position of being cross-examined by the very people who would expose his falsehoods without hesitation. ...
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An Important Quotation
01/16/2006 - James White"Every reading ever occurring in the New Testament textual tradition is stubbornly preserved, even if the result is nonsense...any reading ever occurring in the New Testament textual tradition, from the original reading onward, has been preserved in the tradition and needs only to be identified." (Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 296
Monday Morning Odds and Ends
01/16/2006 - James WhiteFor those in the great state of Georgia (and surrounding areas), you might be very interested in attending the Greer-Heard Forum February 3-4, 2006, featuring William Dembski and Michael Ruse on the topic of Intelligent Design. Here's the link.
I'm reviewing a manuscript for an upcoming book so that I can write an endorsement for it (more when it comes out of course), and ran across a tremendous section demonstrating the kind of work the Jesus Seminar fellows put out. To make a long story short, the Seminar fellow who is starting to become the new "face" of the group, Dr. Price, is documented in this new book to have utterly melted down on an alleged textual variant at Luke 1:34. He calls the text into question (and hence the virgin birth) based upon a single, yes I said single, Latin manuscript; further, he gets the manuscript wrong, and forgets to mention that the reason the manuscript doesn't have the verse is because it is a fragmentary manuscript that begins at Luke 1:64!!! So, based on a single manuscript in Latin (that is one of 10,000) that doesn't even start until thirty verses later, he brings into question the entirety of the Greek manuscript tradition and hence the virgin birth of Christ! The sad thing is, of course, that in our day, he is a "credentialed scholar," and hence his word is beyond question in the minds of most. Time to start making "credentialed scholar" mean "has demonstrated a consistent ability to handle the material in his specialty" rather than "went to the right school." The Jesus Seminar is a very good argument for the de-mythologizing of scholarship. Anyway, I'll let you know about this new book when it comes off the presses. Well worth the read.
Got a call from London this morning. Spoke with Dr. Peter Masters of the Metropolitan Tabernacle and arranged the topics of my talks there in February. I will be doing two sessions on assurance, two on the canon of Scripture, and one on John 6. I am truly looking forward to this opportunity!
Nadir Ahmed Demonstrates Incapacity to Engage in Rational Dialogue
01/15/2006 - James WhiteFor every person who listened to my reviews of Shabir Ally's debates, which included a brief section demonstrating some rather...silly errors on the part of Nadir Ahmed, and who heard the brief comments I made regarding some of his followers and their "you are afraid" e-mails, and the fact that we have invited Nadir Ahmed to call and respond repeatedly, even playing his own comments and refuting them on the air, this link will demonstrate why he and his followers should not be taken seriously. It speaks for itself. Mr. Ahmed: the number is still 877-753-3341, and you will still have to be prepared to deal with the critical edition of the Greek New Testament. One of us is out in the open, one of us is hiding. Facts are facts.
Let There Be...A Doorway!
01/14/2006 - James WhiteI am so glad Rich Pierce knows how to do... every- thing. He's Tim Taylor without quite the same frequency of 1) disaster, and 2) trips to the emergency room (though I did have to take him once). Here Rich (crouching down), Larry, and Casey frame in a new door they just created in a wall in the new offices. If you look past them through the far door (which was cut in a few weeks ago), that's my office. I'm standing in what will be the print shop/order area; the door they are making will lead into a hallway; to the left will be a storage room (I intend to put Warren Smith's name on the door, no matter what we put in the room, just to make him feel loved) and to the right will be the "studio" for doing The Dividing Line. Behind me is another room the same size as the one in the picture. Didn't have nearly as many folks on hand today as we had hoped, but much was accomplished anyway. The process begins...and a long process it will be!
Quick Odds and Ends on a Saturday Morning
01/14/2006 - James WhiteWell, I need to keep this short, as I want to run past the new office and see how things are going. Before moving we have walls to build, ceilings to install, network stuff to run...all that fun stuff. But the process has begun. It will be a long one.
I'm behind the curve, obviously, but you do have to wonder what Rick Warren was thinking when he said recently, ""Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism -- they're all motivated by fear. Fear of each other." Hey that's brilliant, Rick. Nothing like doing your history studies at CNN and playing right into the hands of those who refuse to properly define beliefs and movements and actions based upon worldviews.
Pyromaniac has opened a real can of worms with just the opening portion of his discussion of spiritual gifts. And as is to be expected, the vast majority of commentators missed his point. Hence the danger of comments sections. Pooled ignorance is a glorious thing.
Steve Camp has great taste in fractal art, and that reminds me I have not made any new fractals in about six months. Hard to make fractals when you are on the road cranking along around 19 mph and listening to a Muslim apologist or John Shelby Spong or someone like that.
For all of you who rushed to Eric Nielsen's blog to see what all the excitement was about, you have probably discovered what we all feared: given that it took him from March 24, 2004, till December 26, 2005, to recover from his initial blogging explosion, it was to be expected that, like a brilliant heavenly display, he would burn out quickly. It has been ten days since the last example of what it means to be blog-o-rific, and if history is any guide, you can't expect anything to appear on Eric's blog until...September 24, 2007. Patience is a virtue.
If I can scratch out the time I would like to post a few of the "tough questions" Catholic Answers pretends to address in their new book, and point out, for the few of their followers who actually venture out here to test out their "answers," what really tough questions look like. I have had "reply to Jimmy Akin's series on the priesthood" on my "future blog series" list for months. I need to grab that debate and listen to it, having debated Fr. Mitch Pacwa on the same topic.
May you all have a blessed Lord's Day!
Catholic Answers Just Survives
01/13/2006 - James WhiteI just received my copy of Catholic Answer's newest publication, The Essential Catholic Survival Guide authored by "The Staff at Catholic Answers." I think that basically translates to, "Various articles from This Rock magazine put into a big book." I do find it interesting that most of CA's materials are couched in the "rescue/survival" mode, not the "demonstration of the truth" mode. Anyway, the subtitle is, "Answers to Tough Questions About the Faith." That is what attracted me. Tough questions. Good, maybe something substantive? Something beyond the Catholicism and Fundamentalism level? Well, of course, I was disappointed.
I would imagine this work will seem quite impressive to the lay Catholic. It contains 533 pages of text, and hence seems very "beefy" at first sight, but in fact it is very lightly referenced, and its level of argumentation at times is even below Catholicism and Fundamentalism. If you are looking for any interaction with all of the material produced in books, articles, and debates, since Keating began and CA became prominent, you will be disappointed. As far as the folks in San Diego are concerned, it seems Jimmy Swaggart and Boettner's book on Catholicism (which you hardly even see anymore) are still the great threats to be handled. I have only looked at some key sections, but it seems the idea is, "Don't worry about all the responses to our light, fluffy apologetic work: let's not let our audience know about White or Webster or Svendsen or King or Engwer, the literally thousands of pages of published works let alone the debates...well, others have done (since we generally avoid that these days) that cut the legs out from under all our positions. Our readers will never run into that stuff anyway." It would be like me putting together a 500 page book on the faith and never getting any deeper in the deity of Christ section than saying, "John 1:1, John 10:30, and Colossians 2:9 is all you need to know."
My history with Catholic Answers is rather long, as a brief review of the older articles in our apologetics section will bear out. And what continues to amaze me over the years is the utter lack of development of deeper apologetic responses that marks the major Catholic organizations. It isn't just that they keep saying the "same things." I considered it a compliment when Van Hale, years ago, after doing a radio program on KTKK in Salt Lake City, said to Rich Pierce and I, "You all are saying the same things you said ten years ago." That's good. We preached the solitariness, unity, and sovereignty of God back then, and we still were ten years later. That's consistency. What I mean about CA is that they don't seem to take any note of the responses their arguments receive. Their apologetic development started, and ended, in 1985 or so. It's like they sit over there in El Cajon while their arguments are exploded, repeatedly, with their fingers in their ears, whistling happy tunes to themselves, like, "Don't Worry, Be Catholic." Their arguments were simplistic (and inaccurate) then, and now they are just old and crusty and still simplistic and inaccurate and, since they've been refuted so often, just a tad bit less than honest. How can any Roman Catholic apologist trot out the same old arguments for the Papacy that have been shredded over and over and over again? How can they talk about the "unanimous" interpretation of the early church on...almost anything, but specifically, as in this book, about John 6, without mentioning how few addressed the text, and beyond that, Augustine's comments on the passage? It is hard to respect someone who is refuted repeatedly but who just refuses to hear, to listen, or to improve his arguments in light of their failures. But, evidently, given a particular audience, you don't have to worry about that. They want pablum, pablum sells.
Sorry, No Program Today
01/12/2006 - James WhiteSorry, we were unable to connect to the Real Audio server today. Don't know if the server is down, or if our utterly unreliable ISP is to blame (yes, we are changing ISPs when we move the office), but I was not in the frame of mind, after losing a good bit of sleep after surprising and scaring away a group of criminals who were trying to steal my wife's car at 1:30am (and the resultant waiting for the police, losing time today getting the window they smashed out repaired, etc.) to do a "deadcast" (i.e., one that is simply recorded with no live interaction). With a bunch of moving issues this weekend, we really can't think about rescheduling tomorrow or Monday, hence, Tuesday will be the next opportunity. I was all set up to review Bart Ehrman's "if it was inspired it would not have textual variants" viewpoint (i.e., God could not give us any divine revelation until the computer age), but we will just have to wait till Tuesday for that excursion into the wild and wacky world of naturalistic materialism.
Please remember to pray for us over the course of the next months. Not only am I up to my eyeballs in written projects, debates, and the like, but the move to our new offices will be a real challenge, time wise, financially, etc. I just picked up a single box of cable for setting up our little internal network and just about fainted when the cashier rang it up! Your support is greatly appreciated.
Islam and the Forgiveness of Sins
01/12/2006 - James WhiteThe Associated Press is carrying the story of the death of over 300 pilgrims outside Mecca. Note the description of the hajj in this secular report:
Thousands of Muslim pilgrims rushing to complete a symbolic stoning ritual during the hajj tripped over luggage Thursday, causing a crush in which at least 345 people were killed, the Interior Ministry said.Pelting rocks with stones purges you of sin? And this from the religion that has spawned the modern generation of apologists who mock the cross? The article likewise notes that similar stampedes took place in 1990 (1,426 people dead) and 2004 (244 dead). Thousands dying in a mad rush to throw stones at the devil? The contrast again is tremendous: in Islam you throw stones at the devil; in Christianity the very Creator enters into His own creation and gives Himself as the sacrifice that brings forgiveness to all those who are vitally united to Him.
The stampede occurred as tens of thousands of pilgrims headed toward al-Jamarat, a series of three pillars representing the devil that the faithful pelt with stones to purge themselves of sin.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said 345 people were killed. More than 1,000 people were injured, said Dr. Abbasi with the Saudi Red Crescent.
Footage from the scene showed lines of bodies laid out on stretchers on the pavement and covered with sheets. Ahmed Mustafa, an Egyptian pilgrim, said he saw bodies taken away in refrigerator trucks.
Wednesday Morning Odds and Ends
01/11/2006 - James WhiteThe mp3s of yesterday's Issues Etc. program are now up here. Ehrman's responses will start us off tomorrow evening on the DL.
Chris Jenkins sent me the Wall Street Journal article on Wheaton's firing of assistant professor Joshua Hochschild. Hochschild converted to Roman Catholicism. Wheaton stuck to its own rules and dismissed him because they have a statement of faith. While at first that may make us go, "Well done," I'm afraid it isn't as positive as all that. Two problems immediately struck me as I read the article. First, it is one thing to dismiss the gentleman: and quite properly. But there was a reason why Wheaton established that rule long ago. Evidently, the President of Wheaton sorta forgot that reason:
Wheaton, like many evangelical colleges, requires full-time faculty members to be Protestants and sign a statement of belief in "biblical doctrine that is consonant with evangelical Christianity." In a letter notifying Mr. Hochschild of the college's decision, Wheaton's president said his "personal desire" to retain "a gifted brother in Christ" was outweighed by his duty to employ "faculty who embody the institution's evangelical Protestant convictions."Well, there you go---why not just completely evicerate the heart of why the rule was made? The point once was that one would desire to evangelize a Roman Catholic: now that Roman Catholic is a "gifted brother in Christ." There was once a fundamental issue in having someone you believe to be deceived and in need of coming to know the truth teaching your students. Now--what's the reason for the rule, if, in fact, this newly minted Roman Catholic is a "brother in Christ"? Answer: there is none. Of course, this was a mistake on Wheaton's part from the start, for later in the article we read, ...
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Ehrman Proves His Bias
01/10/2006 - James WhiteI am so very thankful that in the interview on Issues Etc., Todd Wilken asked the perfect question of Bart Ehrman. I will be playing it on Thursday's Dividing Line, but briefly, Wilken asked him what kind of conditions would have to prevail for him to believe the Bible was inspired and inerrant. This was similar to a question I asked Dr. Crossan last August, specifically, what would it take to prove to him that a miracle had taken place in the past, and he admitted nothing could convince him of that. Ehrman's answer shed a tremendous amount of light upon why he says the things he says and why he abandoned the faith: he actually said that if God inspired Scripture, He would make sure there would be no textual variants in the transmission of the text over time! What an incredible statement! Think about that for a moment. That is his way of saying that, by definition, God could not give the Scripture in such a fashion as to match the spread of the Christian faith in the first century. Evidently, God could only give the Scriptures on specially engraved plates delivered by angelic messenger from heaven. Basically, revelation could not come until Gutenberg created a printing press...well, no, you have errors there, too. And realize as well, this incredible standard would mean that if a scribe began to get sleepy and was about to make an error in transcription, God would have to...freeze him in his tracks, or, maybe, kill him before an error could be made in a copy of Scripture! Would that mean that God would likewise have to make sure groups like Jehovah's Witnesses never arise, never produce travesties like The New World Translation? Or would He just have to blow up the printing presses before they could produce the first copy? The utter irrationality of Ehrman's criteria for inspiration is painfully obvious.
Let's face it. For Bart Ehrman, there can be no divine revelation by definition. This is not the result of in-depth study on his part. His naturalistic, anti-supernatural worldview came out in glowing colors, as we will see.
By the way, for all those Muslims who have been touting Ehrman's materials, realize that every time you quote him, you are quoting someone who would likewise say your Qur'an is just as much a human document as he says the New Testament is. So every time you promote his works, realize you are promoting someone who is just as opposed to your position as to ours. That's called hypocrisy.
An Encouraging Note
01/10/2006 - James WhiteI received an e-mail from BB in which he mentioned a conversation that took place recently. An acquaintance piped up and said, "...tell lies at church? That's what they do all the time. Ever read the Da Vinci Code? You should, great book." We live in a society that wants to disbelieve. We can't stop people providing them with excuses, but we can be ready to be used in God's time to strip them of their objections--and to edify the brethren as well.
Issues Etc. Has Ehrman as Guest Today
01/10/2006 - James WhiteHeads up! Bart Ehrman will be on Issues Etc. today at 3:05pm. Here is the link. Watch for differences between the light, breezy confidence found in his statements on the NPR interviews and today's program. He surely knows he is in a different context than the ultra-liberal context of NPR. Update: OK, sorry, the website said 3:05, but now it appears that it will only be a pre-recorded interview, no interaction, and that in the second hour. How disappointing. Oh well. I'll be listening anyway, but it doesn't sound like there will be a lot of give and take.
Today on the DL
01/10/2006 - James WhiteToday I replied to a series of e-mails sent to me regarding the response to Ehrman, took two calls, one on presuppositional apologetics, and then spent a little time on Deedat and John 20:28. Here's the program.
The Da Vinci Code XIX
01/10/2006 - James WhiteIn our last segment we read Brown's assertions about secret documents that somehow he knows a lot about (but, since they are secret, doesn't have to prove). His last claim was an inaccurate comment on the Q source. We continue,
"Writings by Christ Himself?"Here we see one of those areas where Brown's thesis is wildly removed from that of more notorious critics of Christ such as the Jesus Seminar. How so? Because the Jesus Seminar theories would preclude any meaningful recording of anything about the life of Christ during his life itself. Jesus was barely a local "splash," let alone one who had thousands of devoted followers, as Brown has already intimated. And as those who have listened to my debate with John Dominic Crossan from last August know, Crossan believes Christ would have to have been illiterate, incapable of reading or writing anything at all. So the idea that Jesus wrote a chronicle of His own ministry is not only a theory without a scintilla of historical evidence, it is not the viewpoint of any portion of scholarship at all. In the same way, the fanciful Magdalene Diaries once again cause us to wonder how anyone can know anything about secret documents that are so...secret. But we entered into the arena of the utterly a-historical a very long time ago, so we should not be overly surprised at almost anything by this point. ...
"Of course," Teabing said. "Why wouldn't Jesus have kept a chronicle of His ministry? Most people did in those days. Another explosive document believed to be in the treasure is a manuscript called The Magdalene Diaries---Mary Magdalene's personal account of her relationship with Christ, His crucifixion, and her time in France." (255-256)
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A Bit More On Dawkins
01/09/2006 - James WhiteAfter posting the link below Pastor Roger Brazier over in the UK (London, specifically--my host for my upcoming UK tour) dropped me this link to a series Dawkins is doing on channel 4 in England, and Jason from the UK came in channel and talked about it as well. Isn't interesting how biologists become experts on religion and history? Dawkins is the perfect example of a fundamentalist atheist, spouting such contradictory and silly statements as, "Faith, by definition, defies evidence: it is untested and unshakeable, and is therefore in direct contradiction with science." As I noted below, it must take a lot of energy for Dawkins to suppress the knowledge of God on a daily basis, and evidently, he's getting angry about having to do it all the time, so he lashes out in this fashion. Believe me, folks like this would love to see the faith suppressed by governmental intervention "for the good of human kind."
The Religion of Man
01/09/2006 - James WhiteMany of us were simply disgusted with the judge who recently sentenced a child rapist to 60 days in jail so that he could go into "rehabilitation" on time, saying he (the judge) no longer believed in punishment. But, if we were thinking clearly about how our society is disintegrating and "slouching toward Sodom," as it has been put, we would not be surprised. Punishment is only for humans created in the image of God. Punishment is only relevant when man bears the image of God and is something more than a dog or a tree. Once that foundational belief is lost, as it has been in Western society, law, justice, and an ordered society, becomes irrelevant.
Want a glowing example? A.D. (hat tip) sent me this URL this morning. It's Richard Dawkins, one of the leading proponents of evolutionary theory, discussing the same issue. If his words send a chill up your spine, they should. This is the black hole of meaninglessness and anti-theism that inevitably flows from his worldview. Thankfully, few people have the stick-to-itiveness that Dawkins has: the amount of energy he must expend daily to suppress the knowledge of God burned into his very being must be prodigious!
Scripture Memorization Verse for 1/9/06
01/09/2006 - James WhiteSo far we have taken to memory a wonderful promise of the perfection of the work of the promised Messiah; we have also helped to prepare ourselves for almost every apologetic encounter by familiarizing ourselves with one of the key passages where the Word testifies to its own nature as God-breathed revelation. Next I thought we would consider a passage that is not directly apologetic in flavor, but is still vitally important in today's situation:
"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)Once again the context makes all the difference: Paul has called the elders (please note the plural) of the church at Ephesus to him as he is traveling to Jerusalem. He had spent a great deal of time planting their church and undoubtedly in training them as a body. He is going to warn them of their upcoming trials and challenges (20:28ff) and that he will never see them again. And in the midst of this vital passage, we find these words. I have chosen this verse because it speaks to an attitude toward the Christian ministry and life that is so rare today, yet so important. Paul has not embraced Christianity to meet his "felt needs." He sees himself as one to whom a "course" and "ministry" have been entrusted, as precious gifts, gifts given to one uttelry unworthy of them. The Lord Jesus is the one who gave these to him. What is involved? "To testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." If you missed the "entertain lost folks with stories about Jesus" in there, so did I. One testifies solemnly. One realizes the importance of the subject matter, the dignity of the topic, the weight of the substance of one's proclamation. It is the gospel of the grace of God, not the gospel of man's sovereignty, the gospel of the frustrated Trinity, the gospel of self-esteem and human fulfillment. To conflate one statement from Steve Camp with one from John Dominic Crossan (now there's a mixture for you!), "It's about God, dummy."
So let's put Paul's words to memory this week...Acts 20:24.
Dembski and the Book of Daniel
01/07/2006 - James WhiteWilliam Dembski posted this parody on his blog. I found it very fitting on the morning after seeing the second hour of The Book of Daniel last night. I had not intended to watch it, though I had heard all about the furor over it. I simply do not watch a lot of television. But someone in channel mentioned that the Suns were tromping all over the Heat, so I turned it on, and it happened to be on NBC, so, since I was doing the "Please, please, let me get this Bluetooth stuff installed" thing anyway, I kept it on. It was pretty much what I expected. Though I refuse to poison my mind with the graphic scenes in Brokeback Mountain, in reading in-depth reviews I gather Hollywood has invested its best in creating a focused apologetic for homosexuality--one that keeps your attention tightly centered on the emotional hot-buttons they are using to keep you from either seeing the big picture or thinking clearly about all the other relationships being destroyed by the perverted selfishness of two individuals. So I was hardly surprised to find Daniel well written, well paced, and witty. Of course, the Jesus figure in the show is simply laughable, but accurately portrays the 1960s style hippy Jesus the left can be comfortble with: nothing divine, nothing sovereign, nothing challenging about this bearded, effeminate figure standing across the room practicing his golf swing (yes, that's what they had him doing in one scene). But the rest of the cast is perfectly suited to the task of promoting an empty-headed religiosity to a postmodern culture. Immorality runs rampant with every form of homosexuality, adultery and fornication, theft, dishonesty---it's just your regular ol' American story, or so someone wants us to believe. The male homosexual character is soon to graduate as a doctor--he isn't the kind of homosexual you see in gay pride marches dancing down the road in a thong. No, Hollywood knows better than that.
Just one glaring example of the "overwhelm the emotions, end critical thinking, create lasting (if irrational) impact in muddled postmodern minds" methodology against which most are utterly without defense these days: the minister's father, a bishop, is blissfully unaware that his grandson has chosen to be a homosexual. The bishop's wife has Alzheimers. With the best of the videographer's skills, you are drawn into the tragedy of Alzheimers as you see her for a moment knowing who he is, and the next slapping him for touching her. If you are human, you are drawn into his pain. Then...a few moments later...he is putting on his shirt after committing adultery with a woman from the leadership of the church---and they stand there talking about how tragic her condition is, and how he should not feel guilty. You feel for him---so, right as that emotion sets in, *smack* show him committing adultery and excusing himself in the process. See, it isn't that bad! Covenants mean nothing! Gotta get your gratification you know, even in your mid sixties! He has needs! Those needs obviously outweigh solemn vows! I mean, it is obvious his whole church mocks the idea of marriage to begin with--it is just a convenience, so why worry about it? Probably one of the saddest things about the presentation is that it is so accurate to so much of modern Episcopalianism.
And so returning to the parody Dembski posted above...the man is saying, "I need a belief system that serves my needs right away." Bingo. Exactly. Man-centered religion. A Jesus without power, authority, purpose, or truth. That's The Book of Daniel and that is the face of the modern "mainstream" denominations that continue to morph into whatever a God-hating society wants them to be. Thankfully, God is still in the business of changing hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, opening blind eyes, and drawing His people unto Himself. And so we press on, seeking to be faithful.
Let Us Pray
01/06/2006 - James WhiteRich and I and our families and all involved with Alpha and Omega Ministries join with all the rest of the broader Christian community in praying for a man who has blessed us all mightily, pastor John Piper of the Bethlehem Baptist Church. His ministry has announced his diagnosis with cancer, and his upcoming surgery here. May God be glorified, His church edified, the people of Bethlehem Baptist sanctified, and Pastor Piper comforted, at this time.
Today on the Dividing Line
01/05/2006 - James WhiteSorry I had all my times messed upon on the program today. Not sure how I managed that (though I have a theory as to how Adobe Audition might have thrown me a curve), but in any case, we continued responding to Ehrman on textual critical issues, looking this time at the very, very minor variant found in a very limited number of witnesses (most notably D, which is notorious for its--eccentricities) at Mark 1:41 and whether Jesus was "angry" with the leper or had compassion on him, and how you can, by major spin, make it look like such things are major impediments to biblical authority. Then we took a call on the tests of a prophet, then back to Deedat very briefly, where I once again asked if any Muslims could tell me who had been honest enough back in the 80s and 90s to oppose Deedat's horrific abuse of truth. Didn't get any calls on that, but sure hope I will hear tomorrow from folks pointing me to those Islamic apologists and scholars who did the right thing back then. We will see. Here's the program.
Various Odds and Ends
01/05/2006 - James WhiteI thought I'd provide the uber-cool graphic centuri0n created for his Wooden Nickel Awards for 2005, but it is in various parts, and my 1993 vintage blog format can't handle high class stuff like that, so this is all I can mange. I got the one for being the meanest Calvinist on the net. I'm honored. While folks like Pyromaniac earned their blogosphere royalty, I'm still wondering what centuri0n did to get his exalted position. He used to be a regular in our channel, and I don't recall him doing anything then worthy of this level of...royalty. Oh well, I must have missed it. Maybe I should ask iMonk...no, no, scratch that.
We had a few interesting replies to my noting the shooting of the young LDS missionary. One Mormon took great exception to the post, which did not surprise me a lot. How dare I pray God would glorify Himself by drawing near and revealing Himself in truth to someone! See, Mormonism, given its inherent subjectivism, is next to defenseless against post-modernism. Old-time Mormons who actually believed something objective would have had a basis upon which to understand my statements. They could have understood, "Since he believes us to be in error and deceived, he is wishing the best thing he could conceive," but modern Mormons, deeply infected, as most of our society, with postmodern thought, have a hard time stretching that far.
Now another LDS response we got was quite humorous. Maybe it is because we have articles on Mormonism on our site. Maybe it was the mere mention of "LDS" in yesterday's blog article. I don't know, but we got what could only be an automated e-mail this morning from a LDS dating website asking us to post their banner ad on our website, which likewise said we have a "great site." And we could get $20 for every LDS single who signs up! Hey, we had never considered such a means of funding our work! What a thought.
In other news that would be as humorous if it wasn't so sad, the current edition of The Berean Call contains a basically incoherent, rambling commentary on John Piper's Desiring God that is just simply ridiculous. I do not know who wrote it, but whoever it was has not read more than a paragraph or two of Piper's work, and at that, without a scintilla of understanding. Just reprehensible. Is it TBC's intention to utterly and completely destroy every single last shred of integtrity it has ever possessed? One truly has to wonder.
Then, in the "hell froze over today" category, Eric Nielsen, after holding the resources of his blogging ISP hostage for about twenty months, has begun blogging again. Here's the link. He even got a wooden nickel like I did--just for something...else. This is one of the most monumentous events in blogging history, which, admittedly, isn't that big a deal anyway, but I thought I would mention it. It's big to some of us anyway.
Finally, I have a question for our few Muslim readers (and I know we have some since I have been commentining on Shabir Ally, Ahmed Deedat, etc., of late): Is there any Islamic apologist or scholar out there who has had the integrity to openly and publicly reject the absurd forms of gross misrepresentation and simple untruths used regularly by Ahmed Deedat in his popular talks and debates? I would really like to know. There has to be someone with a sufficiently high view of truth who had, during the 1980s and 90s, the guts to stand up and say, "Excuse me, but this man is using fallacious arguments in defense of my faith, and I object." Is there anyone? Could someone drop me a note with links to those Muslim scholars and apologists who did that back then? And how about today? Are there any of the currently active Islamic apologists who will admit Deedat's central arguments were grossly inaccurate? Let me know.
A Note Regarding Steve Camp
01/05/2006 - James WhiteI assume most of my readers also read Steve Camp's blog, so most of you are aware that Steve's older brother passed away recently. But in case you didn't, Steve wanted folks to know about his brother and his life of service and ministry. So here's the link. May Steve find God to be his ever present strength and the God of all comfort at this time.
The Da Vinci Code XVIII
01/04/2006 - James WhiteWe have been examining the biblically relevant claims of Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code. We are currently examining his claims regarding the alleged documents contained in four trunks, hidden together with the sarcophagus of Mary Magdalene, and what they allegedly contain. We are dealing with pure fiction here, of course---despite Brown's claim that the references to historical documents in his book are based upon serious research. In the immediate preceding section we saw Brown once again excusing the utter lack of historical basis for his assertions on the idea that the "other side won" and got rid of all the documents...except the ones he won't show us, but somehow knows something about anyway. We continue,
"The Sangreal documents simply tell the other side of the Christ story. In the end, which side of the story you believe becomes a matter of faith and personal exploration, but at least the information has survived. The Sangreal documents include tens of thousands of pages of information. Eyewitness accounts of the Sangreal treasure describe it as being carried in four enormous trunks. In those trunks are reputed to be the Purist Documents---thousands of pages of unaltered, pre-Constantine documents, written by the early followers of Jesus, revering Him as a wholly human teacher and prophet. Also rumored to be part of the treasure is the legendary "Q" Document---a manuscript that even the Vatican admits they believe exists. Allegedly, it is a book of Jesus' teachings, possibly written in His own hand."...
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LDS Missionary Shot in Chesapeake, Virginia
01/03/2006 - James WhiteA twenty one year old LDS missionary from Bountiful, Utah, was shot and killed, and his companion wounded, by an as yet unidentified assailant Monday evening. Here's the Salt Lake Tribune story. The article seems to suggest that the missionaries had witnessed a shooting and were themselves shot as a result. In any case, it's such a shame to hear about something like this. I hope many of our readers take the time to share with the LDS missionaries when they have the opportunity. I will never forget meeting with a young RM (returned missionary) years ago at someone's home. After over two hours of discussion of the gospel, he made a terribly sad statement: "This is the first time anyone has explained to me the differences between what you believe (i.e., non-Mormon evangelicals) and what we believe." Sadly, he had served his two year mission right here in the United States. I had no reason to doubt his sincerity. I had defined grace for him in a way he had never heard--which just shouldn't be, but often is. Never assume these young men have heard the truth: in fact, coming from Bountiful Utah, the chances are very, very high the young man shot in Virginia had never heard a compelling, biblical presentation of the truth of the gospel of Christ. May the Lord give us all a heart of compassion for those who have been led astray from the simplicity of the gospel, and may the Lord use even this tragedy to glorify Himself, honor His gospel, and draw His elect unto Himself. May He draw near to this family and graciously bring them to a knowledge of Himself.
I Find This...Really Odd
01/03/2006 - James WhiteSomone referred me to a feud between popular TV eschatologist Hal Lindsey (yes, I remember taking a standardized achievement test in my senior year in High School long ago and reading his Late Great Planet Earth between segments of the test) and TBN's Jan and Paul Crouch. Here's a letter from Lindsey to TBN, here's another story on it. Seems TBN doesn't want to say anything negative about Islam. Looks like they've bought into the "most Muslims are not like that" line and hence do not want to deal with the reality of Qur'anic-based Islamic religion. Not overly surprising, given the theology--or lack thereof--expressed on TBN, where tongues define orthodoxy but the Trinity doesn't. But it is still odd to see one person with a less than stellar theological resume leaving TBN because they want to censor statements about Islam. I suppose it can get stranger than this, but I really don't want it to.
On Tuesday's Dividing Line...
01/03/2006 - James WhiteStarted off reading parts of this article, commented on the King of the Blogosphere, centuri0n, giving me a Wooden Nickel Award for being the Meanest Calvinist on the Net, then continued working on the Ehrman NPR materials and more of Ahmed Deedat, this time from his debate with Shorrosh. One call included questions on dichotomy vs. trichotomy and who should sing in the church choir! Here's the program.
God-Breathed; Breathed Out By God; theopneustos
01/03/2006 - James WhiteIn our working on the key text in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we wish to add in this second week the Greek term qeo,pneustoj (theopneustos, thay-AH-noo-stos, or, if you are really picky and like spitting on folks, thay-AHP-noo-stos). I highly recommend memorizing the term so that you can explain why it does not, in fact, mean "inspired" in the common usage of that term. Here is what I mean.
"Inspired" comes from a Latin term that means "to breathe into." This is specifically not what Paul is talking about. He is not saying that the Scriptures are human words into which God has "breathed" something special, something "beyond" the norm. Neither is he saying that God did something special to the writers of Scripture, though this is a common usage of the term today as well. We all have slipped once in a while and said, "Paul was inspired to write..." or something like that. While all of that is true (holy men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Spirit, 2 Pet. 1:21), that is not the meaning of the term here. As the NIV and ESV rightly handle the term, it means "God breathed" or "breathed out by God." As Warfield concluded in the article I linked last week:
The traditional translation of the word by the Latin inspiratus a Deo is no doubt also discredited, it we are to take it at the foot of the letter. It does not express a breathing into the Scriptures by God. But the ordinary conception attached to it, whether among the Fathers or the Dognaticians, is in general vindicated. What it affirms is that the Scriptures owe their origin to an activity of God the Holy Ghost and are in the highest and truest sense His creation. It is on this foundation of Divine origin that all the high attributes of Scripture are built.And this is why I have so strongly emphasized this passage, for every single apologetic concern I have ever engaged has, in its final analysis, come down to this issue: has God spoken, and has He spoken with clarity? The number of those who continue to believe what Paul said here without qualification is relatively small, as far as I can tell, today. He is right, however, to say that "all the high attributes of Scripture are built" upon this divine truth, one reflected in the views of Jesus and His apostles. How odd it is that so many who claim to be following "apostolic authority" do not follow the Apostles' example in their view of Scripture; further, so many who claim to follow Christ seem to think they know better than He when it comes to the nature of the Word. How very odd indeed.
So I would suggest presenting this information in this fashion; upon citing the passage, you quickly add, "Now, it is common for folks to misunderstand what Paul is saying here, as if he is simply saying that the Scriptures exist on a slightly higher plane than the 'normal' words of men; that is not what he taught. He used the Greek term theopneustos, which means 'God-breathed' or 'breathed out by God,' and this tells us that the very Scriptures themselves are the creation of God, reflecting His very breath, His very speaking."
The Da Vinci Code XVII
01/02/2006 - James WhiteWe are nearing the end of our examination of the biblically relevant claims of Dan Brown's best-selling novel, soon to be a major motion picture (here's the trailer), The Da Vinci Code. We have thus far seen that Brown's "fiction based upon fact" presentation is purely fiction, even when it pretends to present facts. The number of simple, gross errors paraded before the reader thus far regarding Jesus, Constantine, the Bible, etc., has destroyed every bit of possible credibility Brown might claim for himself and his "research." We have entered into the final portions of this presentation, which, since they are based upon all the falsehoods that have come before, only grow the more fantastic and outrageous. Teabing, Langdon, and the ever innocent Sophie, are still in Teabing's home, and Teabing and Langdon are busy informing her about the Grail legend. We read,
"According to the Priory," Teabing continued, "Mary Magdalene was pregnant at the time of the crucifixion. For the safety of Christ's unborn child, she had no choice but to flee the Holy Land. With the help of Jesus' trusted uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene secretly traveled to France, then known as Gaul. There she found safe refuge in the Jewish community. It was here in France that she gave birth to a daughter. Her name was Sarah."...
Sophie glanced up. "They actually know the child's name?"
"Far more than that. Magdalene's and Sarah's lives were scrutinously chronicled by their Jewish protectors. Remember that Magdalene's child belonged to the lineage of Jewish kings---David and Solomon. For this reason, the Jews in France considered Magdalene sacred royalty and revered her as the progenitor of the royal line of kings. Countless scholars of that era chronicled Mary Magdalene's days in France, including the birth of Sarah and the subsequent family tree." (255)
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Christian Resolutions for 2006
01/01/2006 - James WhiteIt is that time of year again--everyone is making resolutions for the new year. But, for Christians, what kind of resolutions should we be making, and then trusting the Spirit of God to bring to fruition in our lives? Well, there are many that we as followers of Christ could make that would be similar to those made by the men and women of the world. For example, I lost the most weight I've ever lost in one concerted effort in 2005, and have a renewed appreciation for health and fitness. And those kinds of resolutions are fine. But there are certain things that the world cannot possibly understand that we should desire. To what do I refer?
When you reflect over the year 2006, will you be able to say that you increased in your knowledge of God? Do you desire to continue to grow in your knowledge of God's revelation of Himself, through His Word, and, experientially, through the application of those truths in your life by the Spirit's work? Apathy in such an area can be deadly, so how high on the priority list is this kind of growth? As Peter expressed it,
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him [be] the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2Peter 3:18)Another worthy goal has to do with the Lordship of Christ. How extensive is your experience of Christ's Lordship in your life? It should be our daily desire to ever more subject to His will in our lives. Through the daily experience of the application of Scriptural truth through the ministry of the Spirit we can live ever more fully under Christ's Lordship, and experience the joy that comes from dying to self and living to Christ.
I spoke on these subjects at the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church today. Once our faithful deacon Jim Broyles places them on line, they will be here.