Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Today on a Special Edition of the Dividing Line
01/31/2012 - James WhiteToday I was joined by Ivey Conerly to discuss the release of our new video, Why I Love Jesus But Reject Islam, posted below. It was great to be able to have this brother and fellow laborer in the Lord on the program, and I can't wait to work with him in producing 40 Arabic Words, a Christian gospel presentation centered on the Qur'an's denial of the crucifixion at Surah 4:157.
We also moved on to discuss, briefly toward the end of the program, some of the developments over the weekend regarding TD Jakes and the Elephant Room. Even since this morning more has come out, and it is truly sad to see even the race card being played by those defending the redefinition of orthodoxy at the very core of the Christian faith. Here's the program.
Help Us Produce "40 Arabic Words," a Gospel Presentation for Muslims Around the World
01/31/2012 - James WhiteI have provided to Ivey Conerly my thoughts on how to present the gospel while dealing with one of the biggest hurdles Islam places before faith in Jesus, that being Surah 4:157:
That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
These 40 Arabic words stand in the way of forgiveness and eternal life for millions of people. We want to produce a high quality video like our recently released Why I Love Jesus But Reject Islam, featuring Ivey and the great video work of Marcus Pittman. These guys aren't trying to get rich and famous, they are in ministry, but high quality video still requires monetary outlay. We actually needed to cover a bit extra last time, so I am looking to raise $750.00 for this video. I know, in comparison to what most videos cost, that's a pittance, but for most of our listeners, I know that still involves sacrifice. Our sincere thanks to all who donated and gave us the funds to produce this video. Now please pray for guidance and insight as we do this work!
Why I Love Jesus But Reject Islam
01/31/2012 - James White
My sincere thanks to Ivey Conerly and Marcus Pittman and to all who made this project possible. Soli Deo Gloria!
Please send this video far and wide!
My Personal Response to the Islamic "I Love Jesus" Video
01/30/2012 - James WhiteOur professional response will appear shortly!
The "He Submitted Freely" t-shirt is available here.
The Discernment Gap: Showing a Lack of Passion for God's Honor and Glory
01/30/2012 - James WhiteI need to be brief, as I have many pressing duties.
Reading the commentary on the Elephant Room 2 events, and in particular, the alleged rehabilitation (repentance?) of TD Jakes has truly been brought me sadness. Sure, I know that very few Evangelicals, even scholars, have much experience with modalists and Oneness advocates, but still, the general ease with which many have been taken in by such a shallow and brief discussion does not speak well of the depth of understanding of many today. It also speaks loudly to the fact that many in Evangelicalism disconnect the honor and glory of God from the truth He has revealed about Himself. That is, they do not see that to worship and honor God demands from us our utmost effort to accurately hear and to follow what He has revealed about Himself, primarily in Jesus Christ, and the holy Scriptures. To take lightly God's self-revelation is an affront to the divine majesty, and would not be the action of a heart that is consumed with passion for its Lord. The true source of a passion for sound doctrine comes first and foremost from a heart that has singular attention to the glory and honor of the object of its passion. Those who "argue doctrine" simply for the sake of ego or self-gratification do so to their own destruction. Sound doctrine isn't about personalities or men, it is about truth that transcends our brief time on earth.
Let's remember some of Jakes' words from ER2. Keeping in mind his statement of faith, which continues to use the modalistic language of "manifestations," and keeping in mind that Jakes does not baptize in the Trinitarian formula (he baptizes in Jesus name only---something oddly ignored by the tribunal who seemed to grant to themselves the ability to proclaim Trinitarian orthodoxy at ER2), let's consider his words. When asked if God manifests Himself in three ways, or exists in three divine Persons, he said that "neither one of them totally get it for me." Now there is a ringing profession of Trinitarianism if I ever heard it. Please, why are so many quick to pass over this direct statement that the historic profession of faith just doesn't quite "totally get it" for Bishop Jakes? Does that really sound like someone who has seen the error of their ways and is ready to abjure error for a sound profession of faith in the truth? Or does it sound like someone who really thinks he is in a position to pick and choose what is comfortable for him given his goals and aims?
Ah, but Jakes went on to say, "I'm not crazy about the word 'person.'" Yes, another ringing word of repentance form his former modalism and a sound profession of his new Trinitarian faith, is it not? Is that why he has not changed his statement of faith for his church, because this new found Trinitarianism is not something he is really all that "crazy about"? Can you imagine talking to someone who had been a Mormon, and professed belief in many gods, and now he is seeking fellowship with you, and when you inquire as to his beliefs, he says, "Oh, I believe mainly like you, but, Trinitarianism just doesn't fully do it for me, and I'm not really crazy about the term 'monotheism.'" Will you be inviting that person to fill your pulpit to teach on the nature of God next Sunday, I wonder?
But the most amazing statement that has somehow failed to make it into the pages of Christianity Today and all the blogs celebrating Jakes' newfound Trinitarianism came right at the heart of the conversation. Driscoll asked him about the use of the term "manifestations" in his church's statement of faith. And he replied:
My doctrinal statement is no different from yours except the word" [Driscoll interrupts saying, "manifestations"] "Manifest instead of persons, which you describe as modalist and I describe as Pauline. When I read…let me show you what I’m talking about…when I read I Timothy 3:16 - I didn’t create this, Paul did: “And without controversy” which I think we have…we have been bickering about something which Paul describes as a mystery, and I don’t think we should do that. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness. For God was manifest in the flesh.” Now Paul is not a modalist, but he doesn’t think it is robbery to the divinity of God to think God was manifest in the flesh. And I think maybe it’s semantics, because [garbled], but Paul says this before this fight was started.”
Did you catch that? Can someone explain this to me? A prosperity preacher of a mega church has a statement of faith for years on end that is clearly modalistic in nature that says God eternally exists in "three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit." He continues to defend that language in these words. When the key issue is brought forward, the use of manifestations instead of persons, his response is to dispute the identification of "manifestations" as modalistic, but instead say it is "Pauline," i.e., it is in accordance with Biblical revelation. He then misuses 1 Timothy 3:16, as all modalists do, and as is prevalent in Oneness writings. And yet, despite these words, we are all somehow supposed to applaud Jakes' new position as a sound, orthodox Trinitarian?
Sadly, there was no follow up. Driscoll and the rest heard what they wanted to hear, fist-bumped and applauded, and all was well. It would have been so painfully simple to bring this entire question to a complete conclusion. I could have done so by pressing a single question until a clear answer was given. But that is why I was not invited to ER2 (and won't be invited to ER3, or 4, or…Lord help us!). ...
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In Light of the "Christian Press" Following Orders...
01/30/2012 - James White
For truth-loving folks, questions remain for TD Jakes, not just about his views on the Trinity.
By Which He Was Sanctified (Hebrews 10:29-31)
01/29/2012 - James White
If We Go On Sinning Willfully...Hebrews 10:26-29 (Part 1)
01/29/2012 - James White
OK, I am Confused...
01/29/2012 - James WhiteIsn't John MacArthur a cessationist? I thought he was, but if so, how is it that Phil Johnson is clearly a prophet? Listen to what he said to the Frielmeister about the (at that time) upcoming Elephant Room 2:
Forgot to Blog Radio Free Damascus!
01/28/2012 - James WhiteCan't believe I did this, since it turned out to be such an important program! My apologies. I continued my response to Wajdi Akkari on last Wednesday's jumbo edition of Radio Free Damascus. Very, very important material in this program about the gospel for Muslims. Don't miss it! Here's the program.
Of Middle Aged White Guys and Repentance
01/28/2012 - James WhiteThe Christian life is a life of repentance. Every day involves a consistently repentant attitude before God, trusting in the finished work of Christ. Despite the non-gospels so prevalent today where repentance is made an after-thought, or an option, there is no gospel without repentance.
So when someone tells me to repent, I want to know exactly what they are talking about, since it is a serious topic. Yesterday I was directed to an article. It was, ironically, an article about a blog article. To be honest, the original blog article was not quite as bad as the article about the blog article made it out to be (does that make sense?). Always good to go to the source. The blog article was written by Bryan Crawford Loritts. I confess, I had never heard the name before. I also confess I was ignorant that he was on the panel at the Elephant Room 2. So, two strikes against me, I guess. (Now I'm told he is the son of the fellow on the panel...OK, I have no earthly idea. The blog said he hung out with Jakes, so---in any case, I did not hear anyone other than Driscoll and MacDonald involved in the important part of the discussion with Jakes, so I don't see that it matters whichever it is.)
Now, Mr. Loritts professes to be Reformed. Well, with a small "r" anyway (not sure what that means). And he did express disappointment that no one even whispered the phrase "prosperity gospel," let alone had the guts to raise the issue in the presence of Bishop Jakes. HIs exact words: "The topic of the prosperity gospel never comes up…disappointing."
But that was a small part of his blog. Sadly, the real issue---the fact that no one actually asked specifically clear enough questions to bring about a real conclusion to the controversy---was passed over in silence. Evidently, for Mr. Loritts, the case is closed, and the brief, let's be honest, shallow dialogue that took place was enough to mark it "case closed." Jakes, despite all his past modalistic statements and teachings, despite the continued use of "manifestations" in his statement of faith, despite his continued misuse of 1 Timothy 3:16 even in the comments he had just made, and despite the fact that he does not use a Trinitarian baptismal formula, but continues to baptize in the name of Jesus only, is, in fact, a Trinitarian, and that is just the end of that.
So, Mr. Loritts lets us know exactly what us Reformed, middle-aged white guys (his words, as you will see) need to do now: ...
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Wayback Machine will be down for at least the weekend
01/27/2012 - Rich PierceWe had a double hard drive failure today on the Wayback Machine. Looks like the boot records bit the dust. We are offloading the data files, which still seem to be usable, right now. In the meantime, no Wayback till we can get new drives installed and up.
A Mega-Friday DL on TD Jakes and Elephants in the Room
01/27/2012 - James WhiteOK, we've never crashed our servers before by going past the maximum number of connections, but, we did today. I guess there is really a great deal of interest, which, on one level, is very encouraging. In any case, I addressed the TD Jakes: is he a Trinitarian? issue head on during the first hour, and then took calls on the topic for a full hour after that. The callers were wide ranging, and while none defended the ER or Jakes, they did provide some good insights. Lots of positive feedback on Twitter and FaceBook. Hope it will be helpful! Here's the program.
And don't forget the WayBack Machine, streaming Dividing Lines from 1998 onward 24/7! You can listen on the Flash Player found here.
Early Morning Friday Dividing Line Tomorrow!
01/26/2012 - James WhiteOpen phones edition of the DL for an early (9am MST) edition. Going to discuss the Elephant Room and TD Jakes' comments. I've been told a number of scholars, including DA Carson, have accepted his statements as sufficiently "trinitarian." I think there's more to be said. We will open the phones, and if you would like to call and defend ER2, and folks like Mark Driscoll or James MacDonald, feel free. I'd like to hear it.
A Gold Mine of Islamic Citations
01/25/2012 - James WhiteDavid Wood just posted these over at Answering Muslims. It is great to hear someone whose origins are from "the other side" of the divide confirming what we have been saying repeatedly in reference to this vital issue (i.e., he knows the Islamic sources from the inside though he is a convert). A full and complimentary study would be found in Gordon Nickel's vital work from 2011, Narratives of Tampering in the Earliest Commentaries on the Qur'an (Brill). The brightest and best of our opponents in the Islamic world need to start realizing that walking the path charted by Ibn Khazem which leads you to walk next to agnostics and skeptics like Bart Ehrman leads inevitably to the destruction of your own faith and text. It is grossly inconsistent with not only your world-view, but with the Qur'an as well!
Do Muslims Have the Whole Koran?
01/24/2012 - Tur8infanThe punchline is this - "a goat ate it." In discussions regarding Qur'anic preservation, the following hadith is sure to come up:
Reported ‘Aisha (RA): ‘the verse of stoning and of suckling an adult ten times was revealed, and they were (written) on a paper and kept under my pillow. When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) expired and we were occupied by his death, a goat entered and ate away the paper.’ (Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadith 1944)
(See also, Musnad Ahmad 6/269 Hadith 26359, if you don't like the chain of narration in Sunan Ibn Majah)
Notice the following about that hadith.
1) Shortly after Mohamed's death, a goat came into Aisha's sleeping area and ate the paper that she had placed under her pillow.
2) The paper had "the verse" on it.
3) This verse was about (a) stoning and (b) suckling an adult ten times.
While the Koran that the Muslims have today mentions stoning, there is no verse regarding suckling an adult ten times, much less any verse about both together (both suckling and stoning).
Sometimes the authenticity of the above hadith is challenged. Perhaps more needs to be said about that, but it is not the only relevant hadith.
Here is another hadith that has more attestation (these three ahadith are related, as you will see):
'A'isha (Allah be pleased with, her) reported that it had been revealed in the Holy Qur'an that ten clear sucklings make the marriage unlawful, then it was abrogated (and substituted) by five sucklings and Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) died and it was before that time (found) in the Holy Qur'an (and recited by the Muslims). (Sahih Muslim, Book #008, Hadith #3421)
'Amra reported that she heard 'A'isha (Allah he pleased with her) discussing fosterage which (makes marriage) unlawful; and she ('A'isha) said: There was revealed in the Holy Qur'an ten clear sucklings, and then five clear (sucklings). (Sahih Muslim, Book #008, Hadith #3422)
Yahya related to me from Malik from Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr ibn Hazm from Amra bint Abd ar-Rahman that A'isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Amongst what was sent down of the Qur'an was 'ten known sucklings make haram' - then it was abrogated by 'five known sucklings'. When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, died, it was what is now recited of the Qur'an." Yahya said that Malik said, "One does not act on this." (Malik's Muwatta, Book #30, Hadith #30.3.17)
Notice that in these accounts, it is again stated that the "ten sucklings" were in the Qur'an. There is a claim that this was then abrogated in favor of five sucklings.
But there is more!
Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi that Salim ibn Abdullah ibn Umar informed him that A'isha umm al-muminin sent him away while he was being nursed to her sister Umm Kulthum bint Abi Bakr as-Siddiq and said, "suckle him ten times so that he can come in to see me." Salim said, "Umm Kulthum nursed me three times and then fell ill, so that she only nursed me three times. I could not go in to see A'isha because Umm Kulthum did not finish for me the ten times." (Malik's Muwatta, Book #30, Hadith #30.1.7)
Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi that Safiyya bint Abi Ubayd told him that Hafsa, umm al-muminin, sent Asim ibn Abdullah ibn Sad to her sister Fatima bint Umar ibn al-Khattab for her to suckle him ten times so that he could come in to see her. She did it, so he used to come in to see her. (Malik's Muwatta, Book #30, Hadith #30.1.8)
This seems to be an example of the application of the "ten sucklings" principle. Why would Aisha suggest that an adult go be suckled ten times? Doing so would, in her mind, make the person a foster relative. And a foster relative (while prohibited from marriage) would be permitted to see her unveiled.
It seems clear that all this testimony provided above regarding the missing verse of the Qur'an is linked back to Aisha. Was she lying or mistaken? Perhaps she was. If Muslims want to insist she was lying or mistaken, how can I prove she was telling the truth?
On the other hand, why assume Aisha was lying? From a historical standpoint, is there any record of anyone challenging Aisha's claim during her lifetime? She was one of Muhammad's wives. If she was lying, wouldn't one of Muhammad's companions be able to say so and have that testimony preserved amongst the ahadith?
In short, why isn't the above historical evidence - as such - credible? Do you accept that your Koran is short at least one verse, or do you reject that idea based on presuppositions that have nothing to do with history?
P.S. Incidentally, there is at least one attempted Muslim response to the issues above (example). That response relies on questioning the authenticity of the narration. However, the response is honest enough to admit that there is an alternate chain of narration that does not have the flaw above. Moreover, the response highlights the existence of other narrations with different words (presumably referring to some of the second category I identified above). These other narrations, however, just highlight the problem.
Secondly, the response suggests that Mohammed said that the verse about stoning couldn't be written. It's not clear what this is supposed to prove. It seems to further support the idea that the written Qur'an is not complete.
Thirdly, the response points out that in some of the narrations, the verse is described as abrogated. However, why should the abrogated verse be omitted from the Koran?
The response's conclusion is even more puzzlingly odd:
Moreover ‘Aisha (RA) lived through the whole period of Qur’an compilation during the time of Abu Bakr (RA) and Usman (RA) while she was unanimously considered an authority for herself so if she had any thought about some verses missing she would have brought it to attention of other Companions of the Prophet (PBUH). Infact we have evidence of Usman (RA) making special endeavor of consulting ‘Aisha (RA) and her records for verifying the official compilation. See Ibn Shabba’s Tarikh Al-Madina p.997. Despite all this she never raised the issue supporting our conclusion that no part of the Qur’an was lost even if the narration is considered reliable.
What is odd is that the respondent thinks this helps his case. Aisha is deemed by Usman as a reliable authority on the Qur'an during the period of compilation, yet her uncontested testimony is that part of the Qur'an was lost. To say she "never raised the issue" begs the question at best - more to the point there is a record of her raising the issue, and supporting evidence that she really believed it to have been revealed, or at least really claimed to believe it to have been revealed. Her testimony also explains why she couldn't hand over the verse to Usman during the period of compilation.
Today on a Mega Radio Free Geneva: John Samson and Emir Caner
01/24/2012 - James WhiteI bet John never expected to see himself mentioned quite like that before. But, we did have John Samson in studio today to talk about his new book from Monergism.com, Twelve What Abouts, which you can find here or here. We then went back to reviewing Emir Caner's sermon against Reformed theology, and then took calls on the topic for the last half hour. Here's the program.
And, if you would like to watch the first hour:
We Are Tolerant: Now Shut Up or We Punish You!
01/24/2012 - James WhiteThe anti-Christian left cares nothing about truth, or freedom of dialogue, or thought. It cares only that you agree and follow. Today's example. This one hits home with me, as my daughter faced similar anti-Christian cowardly bigotry in her community college.
Schedule Changes for the DL This Week
01/23/2012 - James WhiteWe will start off tomorrow with a Mega edition of Radio Free Geneva. Author and pastor John Samson will be joining me to talk about his new book, and then we will continue our examination of Emir Caner's sermon on Calvinism, which we began reviewing last week. Then we will have a Jumbo edition of Radio Free Damascus on WEDNESDAY (not Thursday) at the regular Tuesday AM time slot, continuing our response to Wajdi Akkari. We may be able to sneak in a Friday edition to get back to our review of Ehrman/Wallace, but we will need to see about that as things develop. Join us for these special programs live!
Why I Love Jesus and Keep His Commandments
01/21/2012 - Tur8infanI understand that my friend, Dr. James White, may be preparing a better response to "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus || Muslim Version," but I want to chime in now, while it is fresh on my mind (rather than waiting 24 years - just sayin'). I'll respond in chunks to the lyrics. The production quality was pretty good - though (in my opinion) not as impressive as the production quality of the original video. I've taken the liberty of spelling out words that are abbreviated in the rap, especially words ending in "ing."
Look, what if I told you there was something you were missing
What if I told you that Jesus doesn't really fit into your description
What if I told you that "follower of Christ" doesn't automatically mean "Christian"
And just because you believe in Faith doesn't mean Jesus didn't believe in submission and conviction
The brief answer is that a Christian does mean a follower of Christ. The term "Christian" was coined in the first century in Antioch to describe the disciples (followers) of Christ.
Acts 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
And this name caught on, so that even King Agrippa knew and used the term.
Acts 26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
Regarding submission and conviction, James (Jesus' brother) teaches us explicitly to "Submit yourselves therefore to God" (James 4:7). But submission doesn't mean Islam, even if Islam means submission (as some have suggested).
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Bart Ehrman on Writing on the Qur'an
01/21/2012 - James White
We have noted this before, and when the guys at Acts 17 reposted it just now, I thought I would comment again. There is something deeply disrespectful in Ehrman's comments here. Oh, I'm sure he was just trying to be funny, in a way. But remember when I asked him serious questions about his methodology and his conclusions as they would bear upon the Qur'an? He took serious offense! So isn't it odd that in this context he responds in such a light-hearted manner?
There is no question, of course, that if Ehrman were to be consistent, he would reject the Qur'an as a divine revelation. Its a-historical assertions (esp. regarding the crucifixion) and the presence of textual variation (which he indicates precludes the possibility of inspiration) would require him, if he is consistent, to reject the authority of the Qur'an just as he has the New Testament. And despite his claim to ignorance regarding the Qur'an, I somehow think Ehrman well knows that he would have to criticize the Muslim holy book.
And, clearly, he is unwilling to follow his own principles to their logical conclusion. But in the process it seems like he really shows disrespect for the Muslim community at large. Evidently he seems to know that the Christians are not going to bomb him or attack him for all he has said in opposition to the Bible and Christianity. But his comments show a fear of Islam. While there are surely Muslims who would condemn him if he ever spoke openly about his views of the Qur'an, they would represent a small minority of the entire Muslim population of the world. Doesn't he think the matter worth the danger for the sake of the millions of other Muslims who would be helped by coming to realize the Qur'an isn't what they thought it was? He surely seems to think it is worth all the time and effort to write popular level books like MisQuoting Jesus and Forged that, he assures us, are not attacks on Christianity as a whole, but only upon a particular type of Christianity (the type that actually believes the Bible to be a divine revelation). I wonder why he won't make the same kind of distinction amongst Muslims?
Remember, all Muslims who think Bart Ehrman is your friend and hero: his historical and scriptural hyper-skepticism is not only unwarranted, it would, of necessity, require you to abandon your belief in the Qur'an as well. Every time you flaunt his great scholarship and quote some anti-Christian conclusion, you are proving once again that you care nothing for the consistency of your arguments or sources. Think about it!
An Evangelistic/Apologetic Video Project. Can You Help?
01/20/2012 - James WhiteYou would have to be living under a rock somewhere not to have heard about the viral video produced by Jefferson Bethke called "Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus," found here. 15.5 million views so far. Others have commented on this video, so I will not. In any case, it has spawned many responses on YouTube. I saw a Roman Catholic one that is well worth responding to, as it is filled with canards and simple historical errors. But the main one I am focused upon is one from a young Muslim:
I have contacted Ivey Conerly, who is excited about working with me to produce a response to this video. I am writing the material, Ivey will take my less than poetical prose and apply his gifts and talents and produce the lyrical version and record a high quality video response. I will try to follow up with a full video discussion of each of the points raised (linked from the version Ivey will record), and, I've been told, TurretinFan is writing a point-by-point response as well. Ivey Conerly is a Christian artist who just released a new album featuring yours truly on a few tracks...don't panic! I'm just reading some scripture, mainly. You can check it out here.
So here's where you, our supporters and friends, come in. For Ivey to be able to produce the video there will need to be some travel involved. We need to put together around $500 to be safe to make sure everything is covered. Not a lot, but I would like to ask folks to partner with us so we can get this done right. I think Ivey has the skill to really bring the gospel to the young Muslims who would view this response. If you can be of assistance, please consider giving with a note "for video production." Here is the PayPal link where you can donate any amount you want toward this project.
Update: We have met the fundraising goal for this project. Thanks to all who donated. Now, to get things moving forward.
Today on Radio Free.....Damascus!
01/19/2012 - James WhiteYes, you read that right. Put together a theme song and everything (hoping for a graphic from Hacim, son of Ramallah, King of Graphics soon). It is our new feature for when we focus on specifically Islamic topics, just as Radio Free Geneva is for when we focus on specifically Reformed topics. But instead of broadcasting from our bunker under Liberty University (where no one would ever think to look), this time we broadcast from our bunker under the madrassa where Ergun Caner was taught jihad and Arabic, somewhere in Turkey, or Beirut, or Cairo, or...Ohio!
Today we finished our examination of Diaa Mohamed's comments, and moved into our direct and personal response to Abu Mussab Wajdi Akkari's presentation "Quoting Jesus." We will continue that examination in a future edition of Radio Free Damascus! Here's the program.
And don't forget the WayBack Machine, streaming Dividing Lines from 1998 onward 24/7! You can listen on the Flash Player found here.
Personal Item: What I Won't Do on a Bike
01/19/2012 - James WhiteOK, descending can be fun, sure. But once the speedometer passes about 40 mph (about 65km/hour for our non-US readers) I start getting nervous. I've hit 48 on a downhill (I-17 southbound into Black Canyon City, the famous "Five Mile Hill") back in the 90s, and I did tick up to 46.4 on the downhill into Tortilla Flat back in December, but that really isn't fast in comparison to what many hammer heads can do. I just like my skin in its current condition, thank you very much. Here is a video of the Tour professionals on a downhill in Le Tour de France, flying along on narrow roads at 100 km/h, i.e., 62 mph:
A Mega DL Starting an Hour Early on Thursday
01/18/2012 - James WhiteWe will launch a 2-hour Mega DL tomorrow an hour early. We will finish up our examination of Diaa Mohamed's claims, and then launch into Wajdi Akkari's comments here:
Don't forget, we will start an hour early. See you then!
Two Quick Notes
01/18/2012 - James WhiteLooks like Rich Pierce has emerged from the dungeon having finished his complete re-work of my FaceBook page. Thanks to all who cooperated with him in giving it a complete make over. Sorry to the few who can't post there anymore who were accustomed to doing so and making it look like I was supporting...whatever. Hopefully everyone will find it useful and, shall we say, accurate now. I am trying to remember to send my Tweets to the page as well. Trying is the key word.
Secondly, I have placed a number of new items on the Ministry Resource List that will help me expand the horizons and appeal of my current writing project. I have also put back on the list all those items that had been marked "purchased" but have never appeared (something I noted about six weeks ago). It is always a great encouragement to have folks help out with these items!
Today on a MEGA Radio Free Geneva!
01/17/2012 - James WhiteHad an unusually large number of live listeners today (most of our listeners use the pod-cast/download options) as we did a two hour mega edition Radio Free Geneva. We finished off our response to James McCarthy's sermon on Calvinism, examining his means of dealing with John 6 and its teaching. Then we moved to the sermon Dr. Emir Caner delivered at the Monclovia Baptist Church in Ohio in September of 2011. We are still trying to get all the smoke cleared out of the studio after putting out so many flaming straw men! Here's the program.
And don't forget the WayBack Machine, streaming Dividing Lines from 1998 onward 24/7! You can listen on the Flash Player found here.
Karl Keating Finds the Word of God and the Holy Spirit "Inadequate Reasons"
01/17/2012 - Tur8infanBack in 1987, at the Bayview Baptist Church, Karl Keating engaged in a debate against Peter Ruckman. Although Dr. White has had an open challenge to Keating since October of 1990 (see the discussion here), we have yet to see a debate between Karl Keating and James White. Perhaps this critique will prompt Keating to step up to the debating podium again, this time with a serious Reformed opponent. Even if it does not, it may be worthwhile critiquing his points, since Keating's points get repeated (in some form) by many folks who listen to "Catholic Answers."
After some pleasantries, Keating begins his presentation with an argument regarding inspiration. He asks the question: "How do you know that the Bible is inspired?" He then offers several options and tries to knock them down. He identifies the following as inadequate reasons:
1. Cultural Reasons
2. Family Tradition
3. Inspirational - It Moves Me
4. The Bible's Own Claim to Inspiration
5. The Holy Spirit Tells Me So
Before we get to Keating's proposed alternative to these allegedly inadequate reasons, let's consider his five "inadequate reasons." The first three reasons look a lot like straw men. Maybe someone somewhere thinks that the Bible is inspired because it is inspirational, or because their family told them so, or because society deems the Bible to be important. These, however, are hardly very serious arguments.
Exactly the opposite is the case for numbers 4 and 5. The ideas that the Bible proclaims its own inspiration (and indeed it does) and that the Holy Spirit confirms that inspiration to us (and He does) are actually the historic Reformed and "Protestant" position on the subject.
Keating claims that these are "inadequate." Consider the implication, though. The implication is that even if God himself tells you that the Bible is inspired, that's not a sufficient basis upon which to believe that the Bible is inspired. That implication borders on blasphemous. What could be more sufficient as a basis than that the Bible claims inspiration and that the Holy Spirit confirms it? Of course, there cannot be - but before we proclaim that dogmatically, let's see if Keating has located something better.
Keating's alternative is to provide his "spiral argument" (which I've previously critiqued here).
The steps he proposes are as follows:
1. Look at the Bible as though it were a non-inspired book.
2. Discover the Bible's historical reliability.
3. Discover that Jesus said he would found a church.
4. Conclude that the church must have the gift of infallibility.
5. Conclude that the church must have the look of the Roman church.
6. When Rome tells us that the Bible is inspired, we can know that it is inspired, because the church is infallible.
Keating calls this his spiral argument, but that may just be a distraction. In addition to the question of circularity, there are at least two other problems.
First, we can adopt his (1) and (2) and then discover that Paul was a true Apostle of Christ and explicitly taught the inspiration of Scripture. There's no need to go to (3), much less to the rest of the series.
Second, even if we go to (3), there's no teaching in the Scriptures that the church is or will be infallible, or even that "the church" will be in a position to speak as "the church." There's nothing about the church (as described by Jesus during his earthly ministry, or otherwise throughout Scripture) that requires the church to be infallible. Therefore, there is nothing to get us from (3) to (4).
To those two strong points, we could also add a weak third point, namely that (5) is likewise easily rejected. The Roman church doesn't look like the Apostolic church as described in the New Testament. It doesn't have a plurality of elders in every city. It has a limited priesthood where the New Testament church had a universal priesthood. Most significantly, it has a papacy, whereas the only head of the Apostolic church is Christ.
I call this point weak, because if you have already concluded that "the church" must be infallible, you've conceded a point that you should not. Indeed, on that hypothesis you would have nowhere to go - because there are no churches that look like the Apostolic church and also claim to be infallible (to my knowledge - at least).
Tomorrow on the Dividing Line: A Mega Radio Free Geneva!
01/16/2012 - James WhiteStarting at 11am we will go for two solid hours so we can finish off our review of James McCarthy's sermon (looking at how he attempts to deal with John 6) and then we will launch into a review of Dr. Emir Caner's sermon from September 18, 2011 at the Monclova Road Baptist Church in Ohio. So join us tomorrow for another Radio Free Geneva!
Deity of Christ
01/16/2012 - Jeff DownsI found a book on Archive.org that I'm sure our readers would like to check out as well. The file (book) I'm referring to his titled Is Jesus God: An Argument by Graduates of Princeton Seminary, originally published in 1912, with an introductory note by B. B. Warfield.
Table of Contents as follows:
"Does the Christian church teach the deity of Christ?" By R.B. Kuiper.
"Has the Christian church always taught the deity of Christ?" By D.S.B. Joubert.
"Do the New Testament writers teach the deity of Christ?" By H.H. Meeter.
"Do the Evangelists represent Christ as himself teaching his deity?" First essay by J.D. Roos; Second essay by F.M. Richardson.
"Did Jesus teach his own deity?" First essay by W.A. Motter; second essay by W. Nicol.
"Is Christ God?" First essay by G. Hoeksema; second essay by L.M. Bicknell.
Read the entire book by clicking here
Loving the Church
01/14/2012 - Jeff DownsToday, I was reminded of a recent article in Ministry & Leadership the magazine of Reformed Theological Seminary titled "Delighting in the Church?", by Guy Waters. You can read the article when you click here (PDF). The article is adapted from Waters' book How Jesus Runs the Church (P&R, 2011).
Here is a sample from the article:
According to Scripture, however, membership in the local church is not merely desirable, but necessary. In the New Testament, we see a recurring pattern: the Word is preached, people profess faith, and they gather locally into congregations ruled by Christ through a government He has appointed (Acts 2:47, 14:23; Titus 1:5). Believers are commanded to give due submission to the elders (1 Thessalonians 5:12,13), and the elders are charged with the oversight of believers’ souls (Hebrews 13:17). This set of commands assumes that believers and church leaders have an acknowledged relationship with one another. This relationship comes into existence when a believer commits to join the church. Therefore, when the Scripture calls Christians to delight in the church, it calls them to delight not only in the worldwide church, but also in the local church of which they are members.
Today on a Thursday Morning DL
01/12/2012 - James WhiteBasically focused on continuing our review of Diaa Mohamed's comments in his debate with Samuel Green, and then looked at some more of James McCarthy's comments against Calvinism. Next week we will hear his understanding of John 6:37-44. Here's the program.
And don't forget the WayBack Machine, streaming Dividing Lines from 1998 onward 24/7! You can listen on the Flash Player found here.
01/10/2012 - Jeff DownsAfter listening to today's Dividing Line and hearing Anthony from Colorado ask the question regarding the importance of church membership, I was reminded of one of the best lectures I've heard on this issue. The speaker is Dr. Mark Herzer, a Presbyterian pastor in Penn., and also an adjunct faculty at Greenville Seminary.
The Lecture is titled "The Church: The Covenant Community" and can be heard by clicking here. A PDF of the lecture is located here
Mark is a very good theologian. He is actually on campus this week. I was listening at the door for a few minutes to his lecture (on Old Testament Biblical Theology). At the time, he was pressing the point (as he was introducing himself) that he loves theology, loves reading systematics and biblical theology etc, but how important it is for these things to impact how we live our lives (he is speaking to future pastors). The example I heard, before walking away was how much of a blessing it is to be with the believers who are dying, holding their hand and comforting them as they enter into heaven.
I would highly recommed Mark's church, and work. Two additional lectures from Mark are the following:
Roman Catholicism - A View Into It's World and The Modern Roman Catholic View of Scripture.
Whenever I preach on 1 John 1, I stress the idea, because John does, of the importance of the fellowship between believers. "what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us...if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light we have fellowship with one another..." Fellowship with other believer is simply an outworking of a changed heart and ones union with Christ. If one claims to love God but not the brethren (i.e. include gathering together with them), he is not telling the truth. Let's state it as blunt as John "he is a liar."
Today on the First Dividing Line of 2012: E-mails, Ergun Caner, and Calls
01/10/2012 - James WhiteReplied to some interesting e-mails at the start of the program, commented briefly on the continuing Ergun Caner saga (and how many of his defenders have become silent in the face of his tacit admission that we were right all along) and then took calls on a variety of subjects. Good to be back for the DL! Here's the program.
Is Hebrews 11:35-37 a Proof for the Inclusion of the Apocrypha to the Canon?
01/05/2012 - James SwanI came across a Roman Catholic blogger referring to one of my articles and using it in support of including the Apocrypha in the canon of sacred Scripture. He set up a Protestant straw man argument that states, "The New Testament Never Alludes to the Deuterocanon." Then my article is cited as stating "Hebrews 11:35-37 appears to be a reference to 2 Maccabees 7." I found it fascinating that this Roman Catholic blogger (who identifies himself as "an attorney in D.C.") would reference my article and ignore the argumentation that led to my concluding remarks. Below is the entirety of my article.
Is Hebrews 11:35-37 a Proof for the Inclusion of the Apocrypha to the Canon?
The author of Hebrews states, "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). The certainty that God has spoken, and has done so in a fixed number of inspired books has swung open the doors to several confessions of faith. The London Confession of Baptist Faith opens by stating, "The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience." The Westminster Confession states that God committed His word to writing, "for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world." The confession adds, "those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased." This point, while seemingly innocuous and held to as a basic Christian presupposition, is a point of contention between historic Protestants and Roman Catholicism on the extent of the fixed canon of sacred Scripture. Roman Catholics since the sixteenth century Council of Trent are required by dogmatic decree to accept an additional set of books almost all exclusively written during the intertestamental period known as either the Apocrypha or Deuterocanon. While the argument over the inclusion or exclusion of these books generally takes place in the realm of historical analysis, certain internal biblical arguments for either inclusion or exclusion are likewise put forth. One such internal argument is based on Hebrews 11:35-37.
Hebrews 11:35-37 states, "(35) Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection. (36) and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. (37) They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated."
These verses, while intended to be a statement supporting the exposition and implication of biblical faith actually serve as a popular proof-text in the debate over the extent of the Hebrew canon. Those of Roman Catholic persuasion argue these verses are at least an allusion to 2 Maccabees 7:1, 13-14, if not a direct reference. These verses state,
"(1) It came to pass also, that seven brethren with their mother were taken, and compelled by the king against the law to taste swine's flesh, and were tormented with scourges and whips. (13) Now when this man was dead also, they tormented and mangled the fourth in like manner. (14) So when he was ready to die he said thus, It is good, being put to death by men, to look for hope from God to be raised up again by him: as for thee, thou shalt have no resurrection to life."
Is this parallel justified? Roman Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis argues that there are "over two dozen such allusions between the Deutero-canonicals and the New Testament" [Robert Sungenis, Not By Scripture Alone (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing), p.278]. He lists this passage along with many others. According to Roman Catholic apologists, the reason for such parallels are due to the fact that the Bible used by the New Testament writers was the Greek Septuagint. Roman Catholics hold this Bible translation contained the Deuterocanon, and the disputed books were treated implicitly as sacred scripture by the New Testament authors, as well as the early church. Recently, Roman Catholic apologists have had a boost of support from a recent book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger by Gary Michuta. Mr. Michuta has presented the first full-length defense of Apocrypha inclusion coming from a Roman Catholic perspective in quite a while.
Michuta argues that Hebrews 11:35 is indeed a reference to the Maccabean martyrs, and is so with "a high degree of certainty." First, there are no other examples presented in the Greek Old Testament of persons undergoing torture and not accepting deliverance for the hope of a better resurrection."[Gary Michuta, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Port Huron: Grotto Press, 2007), p. 37]. Second, 2 Maccabees twice explicitly refers to a "hope for a better resurrection" as does Hebrews 11:35. Third, Michuta finds linguistic similarities between the words rendered "tormented" (or "tortured") in Hebrews with Eleazar's martyrdom in Maccabees. Hebrew 11:36 mentions "mockings and scourgings" as does 2 Maccabees 7:7, "So when the first was dead after this number, they brought the second to make him a mocking stock: and when they had pulled off the skin of his head with the hair, they asked him, Wilt thou eat, before thou be punished throughout every member of thy body?" Michuta summarizes these points by stating, "Apart from dogmatic prejudice, this reference to 2 Maccabees is unquestionable, and both Catholic and Protestant scholars rightly acknowledge this point of contact between Hebrews and the Deuterocanonical book of 2 Maccabees."[Ibid., p. 37].
If it can be established that the New Testament writers quoted the Apocrypha as Scripture, it would follow that the Protestant Bible is missing inspired God-breathed books. Michuta concludes his book by stating, "The removal of the Deuterocanon is indeed a matter of supreme importance, since it affects the very Word of God Himself; and its effects can be shown to have been devastating in both theology and practice"[Ibid., p. 308]. Has Mr. Michuta and Roman Catholic apologetics proved their contention? Did the writer of Hebrews implicitly consider the Apocrypha as God inspired scripture, and quote it as such in Hebrews 11?
At stake in such a controversy is the very certainty of the word of God. If Rome is correct, the Old Testament that the author of Hebrews believed in is not the same Old Testament that that the Westminster divines believed in. When the author of Hebrews stated the word of God is living, active, with a piercing sharpness, have Protestants dulled the blade by leaving the Apocryphal books out? Can Protestants consistently and actually find comfort and exhortation in the testimonies of faith found in Hebrew 11 if they actually deny the Biblical books from which the author compiled his list of faith's heroes?
Before delving specifically into answering these questions, it is crucial to review the immediate context surrounding the passage in dispute. The writer of the book of Hebrews exhorts his readers to persevere amidst trials and persecution (Heb. 10:19-39). He reminds his readers that earlier they had earlier stood their ground "in a great contest in the face of suffering" (Heb, 10:32), even while being "publicly exposed to insult and persecution" (Heb. 10:33). They need to persevere (Heb. 10:36), because they are those who do not "shrink back" and are destroyed (Heb. 10:39).
They are those who are to live by faith, and are themselves part of a great community of saints. Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1) described at length in Hebrews 11, they are those whose faith was authored and finished be their great high priest, Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:3). Hebrews 11 presents a substantial panoply of specific events in Biblical history, beginning at creation, and taking the reader on a rapid journey through Hebrew history. The writer mentions and expounds briefly on specific individuals: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab. All these mentioned have explicit Biblical references to substantiate their place among the heroes of faith. The writer of Hebrews also speaks of Israel collectively living by faith during the Exodus, and the claiming of the land promised to them by God.
Noting his limitation by time, toward the end of the chapter the writer ventures from the specific to general. He is unable to specifically expound with greater depth on others included in the great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 11:32). These though, are no less important: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets (Heb. 11:32). Similar to those presented in Hebrews 11:1-31, these names also find explicit mentioning in the Old Testament. These people would have been as familiar to the Hebrews as were those the writer did expound on. Hebrews 11:33-40 appears to be expounding on the names just mentioned:
"(33) Who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, (34) quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. (35)Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; (36) and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. (37) They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (38) (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. (39) And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, (40) because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect."
P. E. Hughes states this description is "spontaneous and unstudied" [William Lane, Hebrews 9-13 (WBC 47B) (Waco: Word, 1991), p. 385]. William Lane says these verses "presupposes a rather detailed knowledge of the OT and of Jewish history on the part of the writer and the congregation addressed" [Ibid., p. 385]. He further expounds on this section from Hebrews noting the section includes nine short clauses in vv 33-34. He speculates, "The first three appear to form a group prompted by the antecedent reference to those named in v 32b" [Ibid., p.385]. Verse 33 describes those "who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions." This verse clearly applies to those mentioned in Hebrews 11:32. Verse 33 first notes those "who by faith conquered kingdoms." As Albert Barnes noted long ago, "The meaning is, that some of them subdued kingdoms, others obtained promises, etc. Thus, Joshua subdued the nations of Canaan; Gideon the Midianites; Jephtha the Ammonites; David the Philistines, Amalekites, Jebusites, Edomites, etc." [Albert Barnes, Notes, on the Epistle to the Hebrews (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1876) pp. 293-294]. Here easily documented Biblical figures correspond to the description offered. These also "performed acts of righteousness." As John Gil described, these people "exercised vindictive justice, in taking vengeance on the enemies of God, and his people; civil righteousness, in the discharge of their offices; and moral righteousness, in their conversation before God and men" [John Gil , The Collected Works of John Gil (electronic edition) (Baptist Standard Bearer, 2002)]. These people also "obtained promises," promises from God to their posterity, specifically promises to be in God?s people, ruled by His Messiah.
Specific acts of courage and faith then follow. Some who lived by faith were able to "shut the mouths of lions." While some of the intended audience may have thought of Samson killing a lion in Judges 14:6, the reference was most likely to Daniel in the lion's den (Daniel 6). Daniel was also able to "quench the power of fire" as recorded in Daniel 3. Others "escaped the edge of the sword," perhaps an allusion to David as recorded in 2 Kings 6:16 in which David fled from Saul's deadly pursuit. Some "from weakness were made strong" may be an allusion to Samson who at times received increases in bodily strength, or David, who in times of weakness was refreshed by the Lord. Some "became mighty in war" and "put foreign armies to flight" could refer to most of those names mentioned in Hebrews 11:32. Recall how Gideon overthrew the camp of the Midianites.
From the preceding, it is obvious the writer to the Hebrews assumes his readers are quite familiar with the history of the Jewish people as recorded in the Bible. William Lane implies through his exposition of this section that the examples given in 11:32-40 not only show a deep familiarity with the biblical record, but possibly a correspondence to Jewish extra-biblical history as well. Lane points out that these two counts of divine deliverance reported in the book of Daniel are linked and mentioned together in Jewish tradition in 1 Maccabees 2:59-60; 3 Maccabees 6:6-7; 4 Maccabees 16:3, 21; 18: 12-13 [Lane, p.386]. He also states, "The reference to David is not surprising since he holds such a firm place in the exemplary tradition (e.g., Sir 45:25; 47:2-11; 1 Macc 2:15)" [Ibid., 384]. Lane see verse 34 as not only deeply biblical, but also "richly illustrated in the early Maccabean resistance to Seleucid repression at the time of Antiochus IV Epipihanes (cf. 1 Macc 3:17-25; 4:6-22, 34-36)" [Ibid., p. 387]. Despite Lane's appeal to Jewish tradition, one thing is most certain; the names and descriptions presented in Hebrews 11:32-34 are first and foremost biblical. Lane himself is most aware of this. Commenting on the overall structure of Hebrews 11, he states, "In brief, the introduction, first two examples, and conclusion of Heb 11:1-40 take the form of a list of attested exemplars who receive divine approval in the pages of Scripture" [Ibid., p.319]. It is to the controversial verses that we now turn. Does the writer to the Hebrews abandon the Biblical text, or does he have a different Old Testament than that used by Protestants?
Hebrews 11:35 states, "Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection." Some commentators see "Women received back their dead by resurrection" as an allusion to the widow at Zarephath of Sidon, who saw her dead son come back to life by the faith of Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24). Jamieson, Fausset and Brown point out the oldest manuscripts read, "They received women of aliens by raising their dead." They point out "1 Kings 17:24 shows that the raising of the widow's son by Elijah led her to the faith, so that he thus took her into fellowship, an alien though she was" [Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on Hebrews (ESword Electronic Edition, 2008)]. Other commentators see the verse alluding to the Shunamite in 2 Kings 4:36. William Lane argues the language in 35a parallels that used by the LXX in 2 Kings 4:37 which states, "The woman?received her son."
"Others were tortured" is the first glimpse of a possible Apocryphal allusion. Barnes notes, "The word which is used here - t?µpa???? tumpanizo - to 'tympanize,' refers to a form of severe torture" that also is described in 2 Maccabees 6:19-29 [Barnes, pp. 294-295]. Likewise, William Lane sees the word translated as "tortured" as the rack or stake to which people were tied to, as described in 2 Maccabees 6:19, 28. Calvin notes that some have translated the word as "imprisoned," but likewise agrees, "the simple meaning is, as I think, that they were stretched on a rack, as the skin of a drum, which is distended" [Calvin, The comprehensive John Calvin collection 2.0 (Ages Digital Library, 2002)].
Lane also sees "not accepting their release" as a statement "amply illustrated by the behavior of the ninety-year-old scribe, Eleazar, who refused the pretense of renouncing commitment to God so that he might 'be released from death' (2 Macc 6:22). He willingly chose the rack and endured a brutal beating" [Lane, p. 389]. In 2 Maccabees 6:30 Eleazar states, "But when he was ready to die with stripes, he groaned, and said, It is manifest unto the Lord, that hath the holy knowledge, that whereas I might have been delivered from death, I now endure sore pains in body by being beaten: but in soul am well content to suffer these things, because I fear him." Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, and John Gil, state a similar opinion. John Calvin comes close to locating the allusion away from the Apocrypha, but likewise states, "Now though they say that Jeremiah was stoned, that Isaiah was sawn asunder, and though sacred history relates that Elijah, Elisha, and other Prophets, wandered on mountains and in caves; yet I doubt not but he here points out those persecutions which Antiochus carried on against God's people, and those which afterwards followed" [Calvin, The comprehensive John Calvin collection 2.0 (Ages Digital Library, 2002)].
"So that they might obtain a better resurrection" is best understood as a contrast with those children restored to their mothers mentioned in verse 35. The "better resurrection" is one in which death does not return as it did to those sons given back those their mothers. Lane states, "The reference to the refusal of release and the enduring of torment in the context of a firm expectation of attaining the resurrection shows unmistakably that the allusion in v 35b is to 2 Macc 6:18-7:42, where the Jewish historian recounts the martyrdom of Eleazar and of a mother and her seven sons at the hands of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his officers. Specific reference is made to the hope of the resurrection in the account of the sufferings endured by three of the seven brothers, as well as in the encouragement offered to them by their mother (2 Macc 7:9, 11, 14, 22-23, 29)" [ Lane, p.389]. On this phrase, Albert Barnes comments that, "No particular instance of this kind is mentioned in the Old Testament; but amidst the multitude of cases of persecution to which good men were subjected, there is no improbability in supposing that this may have occurred. The case of Eleazer, recorded in 2 Macc. 6, so strongly resembles what the apostle says here, that it is very possible he may have had it in his eye" [Barnes, pp. 294-295].
The phrase, "and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment" can find support for the abusive persecution of the prophets documented in 2 Chronicles 36:23; Jeremiah 20:7-8; 37:15-16, 18-20; 38: 6-13. John Gill notes "As Samson by the Philistines; Elisha by the children, whom the bears devoured; Jeremiah by Pashur, and others; the Jews by Sanballat and Tobiah, when building the temple; the prophets, whom God sent to the Jews, as his messengers, and scourgings; or smitings, as Jeremiah and Micaiah, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment; as Joseph, Samson, and Jeremiah, Gen 39:20. Now of these things they had trial, or experience; their graces were tried by them, and they patiently endured them" [John Gil , The Collected Works of John Gil (electronic edition) (Baptist Standard Bearer, 2002)]. The abuse described does again find support from 2 Maccabees 7:1.
"They were stoned," finds mention of Biblical support from 2 Chronicles 24:20-21 in which the prophet Zechariah was killed in such a way. The New Testament though infers Jerusalem used this method against God's prophets often in the past (Matt 23:27; Luke 13:34). Jewish tradition gives various accounts of the stoning of the prophet Jeremiah in the Midrash Aggadah and 4 Baruch, a theme picked up on by the early church in The Lives of the Prophets, a work attributed to Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis (315-403 C.E.).
"They were sawn in two" could refer to the tradition about the death of Isaiah in which he was found hiding in a tree trunk, and thus killed by a saw for taking refuge in a tree. The Ascension of Isaiah was well known in the early church. It had wide circulation, with manuscripts extant in Ethiopic, Coptic, Slavonic, Latin and also, some segments of it can be found in Greek. The tradition concerning Isaiah's dreadful death by Manasseh was popular in Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic circles. John Gill reviews different versions of the story found in Jewish tradition, and then notes how widely accepted it was in the early church by Justin Martyr, Origen, Tertullian, Lactantius, Athanasius, Hilary, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nyssene, Jerome, Isidorus Pelusiota, Gregentius, Procopius Gazaeus, and others.
The phrase "they were tempted" could allude to many different biblical personages, like Job, tempted by Satan. John Gill sees Eleazar and the seven brethren with their mother tempted to deny the faith and renounce the worship of God in 2 Maccabees 6:7. Albert Barnes likewise locates one of the descriptions of those tempted in the Apocrypha: "Amidst the sorrows of martyrs, therefore, it was not improper to say that they were tempted, and to place this among their most aggravated woes. For instances of this nature, see 2 Macc. 6:21, 22; 7:17, 24" [Barnes, pp. 295-296].
"They were put to death with the sword" presents the opposite of those who, in verse 34, "escaped the edge of the sword." Eighty-five priests were slain by Doeg 1Sa_22:18. Lane points out, "Elijah escaped the wrath of Jezebel, but other prophets had not been so fortunate (1 Kgs 18:4, 13; 19:10). The prophet Uriah?was 'struck down by the sword'" [Lane ,p. 391]. Lane though adds, "The fate of being murdered by the sword was certainly not an isolated experience in the OT or in the post-biblical period (cf. 1 Macc 1:30; 2:9, 38; 5:13; 7:15-17, 19; 2 Macc 5:24-26)" [Ibid., p, 391].
Elijah and Elisha certainly "went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated." Zechariah 13:4 infers that this was the standard garb of a prophet. Within the early church, 1 Clement urged believers to imitate "those who went about in goatskins and sheepskins, heralding the coming of Christ; we mean Elijah and Elisha, and moreover Ezekiel, the prophets" (1 Clement 17:1).
1 Kings 18:4 records prophets hiding in caves. Certainly the biblical prophets fit the description "men of whom the world was not worthy." 2 Maccabees 10:6 records, "And they kept the eight days with gladness, as in the feast of the tabernacles, remembering that not long afore they had held the feast of the tabernacles, when as they wandered in the mountains and dens like beasts." Albert Barnes likewise finds Apocryphal allusion: "Compare 1 Macc. 1:53; 2 Macc. 5:27; 6:7. The instances mentioned in the books of Maccabees are so much in point, that there is no impropriety in supposing that Paul referred to some such cases, if not these very cases. As there is no doubt about their historic truth, there was no impropriety in referring to them, though they are not mentioned in the canonical books of Scripture. One of those cases may be referred to as strikingly illustrating what is here said. 'But Judas Maccabeus with nine others or thereabout, withdrew himself into the wilderness, and lived in the mountains after the manner of beasts, with his company, who fed on herbs continually lest they should be partakers of the pollution;' 2 Macc. 5:27" [Barnes, pp. 296-297].
It seems highly probable the writer to the Hebrews alluded to the Apocrypha in chapter 11. The parallels Roman Catholic apologists suggest particularly in verse 35 and 2 Maccabees seem likely. "Others were tortured," "not accepting their release" and "so that they might obtain a better resurrection" appear to be the closest points of contact with 2 Maccabees. As noted above, other vague points of contact could be inferred, but not with the same level of certitude of these three statements. Within the arena of rhetoric and polemics, the above study demonstrates that Protestant exegetes do not disagree with the possibility of Apocryphal allusions in Hebrews 11. Protestants are not hiding the fact that 2 Maccabees may be what the writer to the Hebrews has in mind.
Did the writer of Hebrews therefore implicitly consider the Apocrypha as God inspired scripture, and quote it as such in Hebrews 11? This does not necessarily follow. Other non-biblical books are quoted in scripture, but not treated as Scripture. Jude quotes from the Apocryphal Book of Enoch in Jude 14, and some see a possible allusion to the Assumption of Moses in Jude 1:9. Paul quotes pagan poets and philosophers on Mars Hill, and an allusion to the Penitence of Jannes and Jambres may be found in 2 Timothy 3:8.
Even within Hebrews, the writer may be alluding to spurious accounts concerning Jeremiah and Isaiah in 11:37. Sensing the weight of such a criticism, Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta states, "The reference to the noncanonical book, The Ascension of Isaiah, in Heb 11:37 does not negate my point. It is not my contention that Heb 11 used only information supplied by Scripture, but that it uses only biblical figures to illustrate supernatural faith. That is clear from the preceding context. The reference to those who were 'sawn in two' is an expansion on the biblical figure of the prophet Isaiah. One can find numerous expansions of biblical figures in the New Testament from apocryphal sources, but none introduces new biblical characters" [Michuta, 41]. Does such an explanation satisfy? No, for it is an invention of Roman Catholic apologetics to weave around an obvious flaw in argumentation. On what basis does one decide that expansion is an allowable method in the usage of non-biblical material for the inspired writers? It is a created distinction. There is nothing within the dogmatic statements from Rome noting this as an accepted method of biblical interpretation.
Roman Catholics argue that since the Septuagint contained Apocryphal books, they were considered scripture. This argument fails for a number of reasons. First, it is not certain that simply because an Apocryphal book was found in an LXX that the Jews considered it scripture. Like the early church, the books could have been included to be used for reading and edification but not considered inspired scripture. Second, the extant evidence shows different Apocryphal books are included in different early manuscripts. That is, no early manuscript contains all the Apocryphal books argued for by Rome. Some of the early manuscripts actually contain 3 and 4 Maccabees, writings not considered canonical by Rome.
Contrary to Roman Catholic claims, it does not follow that Protestant Bibles are missing inspired God-breathed books. Rather, the writer to the Hebrews included both heroes of faith from the Bible and Jewish tradition. For the writer of Hebrews, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. This did not mean for the writer that God's hand cannot be seen in extra-biblical history. As in our own day, the promises of Scripture are to be clung to as God's hand of providence directs history. Since each ounce of history is directed by God, the lives of his people both from the Bible and those outside the Bible, can be seen as examples of those who live by faith, and referred to for encouragement.
The Foundation of Our Religion is the Word
01/03/2012 - Tur8infanA poster using the handle "Gabriel Serafin" wrote:
Protestantism is a religion based on a book. But Jesus Christ did not hand out
Bibles, He established a Church and gave her authority to teach. God gave us the
Bible through His Church; thus the Catholic Church defined the Canon of
Scripture in the first place. "Bible-only Christians" who dismiss the teachings
of the Catholic Church are simply living in a state of ignorance and false
understanding of Christianity. James White is merely one voice among thousands
of voices spreading a cacophony of noise and confusion against the Church that
was established by Christ. Without the Catholic Church you have no Bible..
The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible. The fact that Jesus himself did not "hand out Bibles" is hardly a compelling point, given that he frequently quoted from the old testament Scriptures and commanded his theological opponents to "Search the Scriptures."
Moreover, the final book of Scripture is the Apocalypse, which describes itself as "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him ... ." (Revelation 1:1) Us folks who follow the Book know this, or at least we should. So, while it would be inaccurate to say Jesus "handed out Bibles" he certainly gave us the Bible, not only by virtue of being the Word made Flesh, and the capstone of the prophets ("God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son" Hebrews 1:1-2) but also by delivering this final Revelation to John by the hand of an angel ("... sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw." Revelation 1:1-2) just as also the Pentateuch was delivered ("it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator" Galatians 3:19).
You may say that Jesus established a church, and indeed Jesus did. But Jesus did not establish a church headed by some other man, but rather he is the head ("gave him to be the head over all things to the church" Ephesians 1:22; "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church" Ephesians 5:23; "he is the head of the body, the church" Colossians 1:18). Jesus did not tell us that the bishop of Rome is to be a second head - as though when a husband is bodily absent some other man can fulfill that husbandly role with his wife.
In fact, the apostolic writings provide us with zero documentation of any papacy. There wasn't one. Christ did establish his church, but modern Rome is not that church.
In fact, the implied conception of "the church" is foreign to the New Testament scriptures. The expression "the church" in Scripture can refer to various things, such as the local body of believers or to the entire category of all believers. It is faith that defines the church, though - not the other way 'round.
Christ built his church on himself, the Rock and our only Rock:
- "He is the Rock" Deuteronomy 32:4;
- "he forsook the God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation" Deuteronomy 32:14;
- "Of the rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee" Deuteronomy 32:18;
- "except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?" Deuteronomy 32:30;
- "There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God." 1 Samuel 2:2;
- "The LORD is my rock" 2 Samuel 22:2;
- "The God of my rock, in him will I trust" 2 Samuel 22:3;
- "who is a rock, save our God?" 2 Samuel 22:32;
- "the LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation." 2 Samuel 22:47;
- "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me," 2 Samuel 23:3;
- "The LORD is my rock" Psalm 18:2;
- "who is a rock save our God?" Psalm 18:31;
- "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted" Psalm 18:46;
- "O LORD my rock" Psalm 28:1;
- "be thou my strong rock" Psalm 31:2;
- "thou art my rock" Psalm 31:3;
- "I will say unto God my rock" Psalm 42:9;
- "He only is my rock and my salvation" Psalm 62:2;
- "He only is my rock and my salvation" Psalm 62:6;
- "In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God" Psalm 62:7
- "thou art my rock" Psalm 71:3;
- "they remembered that God was their rock" Psalm 78:35;
- "Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation" Psalm 89:26;
- "the LORD is upright: he is my rock" Psalm 92:15;
- "my God is the rock of my refuge" Psalm 94:22;
- "O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation" Psalm 95:1;
- "he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel" Isaiah 8:14;
- "thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength" Isaiah 17:10;
- "whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:" Matthew 7:24;
- "Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: he is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock" Luke 6:47-48;
- "This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner." Acts 4:11;
- "Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed" Romans 9:33;
- "for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:4;
- "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, " 1 Peter 2:4; and
- "Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed." 1 Peter 2:6-8.
Yet against that backdrop, you will foolishly assert that Peter is the Rock of Matthew 16:18? Why, because Peter's name means "rock"? Do you not know that Peter is called "Bar Jona" because of his relationship to his fleshly father Jona? If so, then why do you not understand that Peter is called Peter because of his faith in the Rock, namely in Christ.
The foundation stone is Christ, as it is written:
- "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." Isaiah 28:16
- "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 3:11
Yes, there is some secondary sense in which we are built on the apostles (all of them, together with the prophets): "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" (Ephesians 2:20) but notice who is the one rock on which everything else is built: it is Christ.
The Bible did not come from "the Catholic church" it was delivered to the prophets and the apostles. Most of the books were delivered in the Old Testament period, before "the Catholic church" even claims to have existed. The rest of the books were delivered by the apostles and the evangelists. The claim the Scriptures make about themselves is that they are God-breathed ("given by inspiration of God" 2 Timothy 3:16) not church-breathed.
When Paul wrote the epistle to the Galatians he expressed it this way: "Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)" (Galatians 1:1). Those are not the words of someone who needs to run it past the church, or even past some imaginary 1st century pope. Instead, Paul received divine revelation from Christ and was inspired to hand it on to us in writing.
God used many people, including unbelieving Jews, to preserve the text of the Bible for us. We are thankful for God's providence in that regard. Nevertheless, their role in preservation of the Scriptures is no endorsement of their theology.
Indeed, those in the English-speaking world ought rather to say that we received the Scriptures despite Rome, rather than because of Rome. Wycliffe's translation of the Bible (from the Vulgate!) was suppressed, as was Tyndale's translation from the Greek. To be a Bible translator in those days was to risk persecution, yet men did the work necessary to get God's word into the language of those in England.
The idea that "the Catholic Church defined the Canon of
Scripture in the first place" is laughable. Rome's first "infallible" definition of the canon of Scripture was at Trent - after Luther's death. That's hardly "in the first place." Moreover, even if one goes back all the way to the North African Councils that came the closest to the Tridentine canon, they weren't the first canons of Scripture to be provided. Athanasius managed to provide a canon of Scripture before the north Africans. Moreover, it is plain that others before him (such as Origen) had a canon of the Scripture.
Who is living in a state of ignorance about Christianity? Those who follow the teachings of Christ and the apostles, which are set forth in Scripture? Or those who instead following the teachings of Rome, whether or not they contradict what Scripture teaches?
James White is merely one voice among thousands
of voices, one witness amongst a great cloud of witnesses. Yet referring to his appeals to the authority of Scripture as "cacophony" suggests that the author of the comment has a confused idea about Scripture.
Would that "Gabriel Serafin" would cast aside his mistaken idea that Christ's church is founded upon Peter and instead recognize that Christ's church is founded upon Christ, the true Rock of our salvation.
The Continued Dishonesty of the CA Forums
01/01/2012 - James WhiteWe have noted recently the insular nature of the Catholic Answers Forums. We have also documented the libelous false accusation of one of their users, whose screen name is Ignatius, alleging that we have edited debate tapes, an accusation made not by a named individual with any direct evidence, but by a forum member who, evidently, is free to make any kind of false and libelous statement he wishes to make in those forums without consequences. This person has shown that he is not only willing to spread false information about others without providing any evidence, but he does not think well either. In the midst of a current thread filled with some of the most amazingly facile and silly statements about Reformed theology I have ever seen (by some fellow whose name is jmcrae, a "forum elder,") Ignatius has written,
The point is that Mr. White does not permit any disagreement or even comments on his blog. If he has a disagreement with what is said on CAF, I invite him to post a correction here. However he does not permit others to post corrections to his statements on his own site.
This blog is not a web forum. I do not invite every person, including those who are dishonest, like Ignatius, to participate in writing for this blog. This is not a place for debate. I do those fairly regularly. This is not the Dividing Line, where we provide a toll-free number to call. So there is no logical parallel between the CA Forums and this blog.
If Ignatius has the temerity to defend his libelous statements, he is free to call the Dividing Line and do so. Notice that while he is making the allegation of editing of debates, he puts the onus upon me to "correct" his own false allegation. This is the standard behavior of the dishonest individual.
Just like Guardian a few years ago, we expect Ignatius will move on to some other topic of discussion, and the libel will remain on the CA Forums, unchallenged. Then you will see it resurrected as a "fact" by some future participant. This is how myths and legends get started, and those who do not know, and love, the truth, relish such falsehoods.
Presenting God a Heart of Wisdom
01/01/2012 - James White