Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Ministry Report Today on the Dividing Line
09/27/2012 - James WhiteTook the time to go over my incredible journey through London and Berlin, including four debates, one at the East London Mosque, as well as the rest of the ministry opportunities I engaged in over the past two weeks. Took the time to consider the debates and offer some insights into why they were each different from each other. 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.
Calling the MSM---Anyone Home?
09/26/2012 - James WhiteDan Wallace just posted this:
“News flash: Harvard Theological Review has decided not to publish Karen King¹s paper on the Coptic papyrus fragment on the grounds that the fragment is probably a fake.” This from an email Dr. Craig Evans, the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia University and Divinity College, sent to me earlier today. He said that Helmut Koester (Harvard University), Bentley Layton (Yale University), Stephen Emmel (University of Münster), and Gesine Robinson (Claremont Graduate School)–all first-rate scholars in Coptic studies–have weighed in and have found the fragment wanting. No doubt Francis Watson’s comprehensive work showing the fragment’s dependence on the Gospel of Thomas was a contributing factor for this judgment, as well as the rather odd look of the Coptic that already raised several questions as to its authenticity.Now, that doesn't mean the saga is over for two reasons: 1) the fragment could be rehabilitated by the release of further relevant information concerning its provenance, and 2) the MSM is far more interested in posting stuff that is against Christianity than corrections and retractions.
Live stream of the New Testament Transmission and Qur'an Debate
09/24/2012 - Micah Burke
Live streaming of the Debate - Starting 11:30 PDT Today
Listen to the stream here: http://aomin.org/articles/webcast.html or here: http://stream.aomin.org:8000/dl.m3u
"I Believe," We Have No Need for Creeds.
09/24/2012 - Jeff DownsMany of us have heard a statement similar to this "we do not need creeds, we have the Bible." But the fact of the matter is, this statement commits intellectual suicide - it is a self-defeating. It similar to writing "I can not type a word in English" or "Don't trust anything I say." The fact of the matter is, I am now typing in English, and if you can't trust anything I say, should you trust the statement "Don't trust anything I say." The statement we do not need creeds, we have the Bible" is itself a creed, it is a statement of belief (credo = I believe")
The fact of the matter is, one can not get away from creeds and confessions. The biblical writers wrote and used them, the early church wrote and used them, creeds and confessions were written and used during the time of the Reformation, and as matter of (historical) fact, we still write and use them today.
We'll Carl Trueman has now provided for us a newly defense of the use of creeds and confessions. He writes in the closing of the first chapter "read the rest of this book and see whether creeds and confessions might not actually provide you with a better way of preserving precisely those aspects of biblical, Christian faith which are most valuable to you and which you passionately wish to communicate to your church." Trueman latest book is titled Creedal Imperative (Crossway, 2012). You can read the Introduction and first chapter here.
Of course, you could also check out Burk Parsons' booklet on this issue, titled Why Do We Have Creeds?" Sinclair Ferguson kindly says of this booklet, that it "deconstructs muddleheadedness and gives us a fresh appreciation of the necessity and usefulness of the church's historic creeds." Or, if you are looking for something ancient (well, at least from today's standards), you can check out Samuel Miller's The Utility and Importance of Creeds and Confessions.
I believe, that is all for now.
East London Mosque Debate, September 17, 2012
09/24/2012 - James WhiteWe hope to get our own version of this posted eventually, but here's the MDI version for your enjoyment and encouragement. Note to Ergun Caner: see? When you debate in a mosque, it really is not that difficult to get video recordings! (For those who don't get that, go back two years on the blog and you'll find all you could ever want to know about that issue).
This is the debate about which I wrote this article.
A Note to the Secular World: Do Your History
09/19/2012 - James WhiteAnd so another round of "the story of Jesus in the Bible is bunk, there were all these Christians back then who believed wildly different things" has begun. It will go for a few months, then fade away, only to be replaced by some new book, film, movie, etc., next year or the year after. For young folks who don't have enough perspective yet to start discerning the patterns, this may be a real big thing, so we cannot just roll our eyes and move on. But that does not mean that the modern day Gnostics have anything important or meaningful to say. They do not. But they sure insist upon repeating themselves. Repeatedly.
Here are some talking points for the conversations that may come up at work, school, even home:
1) "Funny how the media makes so much of tiny scraps from the fourth century but never tell anyone about the tiny scraps from the second century that substantiate the canonical, biblical testimony of Jesus, isn't it? Makes you wonder where the true journalists are anymore, doesn't it?"
2) "There are a small group of anti-Christian academics that the media just adores who do nothing but repeat the wild eyed fanciful theories that a small group of heretics dreamed up a hundred years and more after Jesus. They write books and make money recycling stuff the Christians wrote entire tomes debunking long, long ago. Do you ever hear the media pointing to the multi-volume refutations of these folks penned by men like Irenaeus as early as the end of the second century? Have you ever read those replies? In fact, have you ever read the Gnostic gospels yourself?"
3) "A fourth century Gnostic said Jesus was married? Shocking news...given that we have known all about such stories for hundreds of years! The stories the Gnostics made up starting in the second century only got wilder and wilder through the fourth century, when they started to die out. Just like our modern anti-Christian media to focus upon stories completely disconnected from the times of Jesus and based upon foundational beliefs directly contrary to those of the Jews of the first century, the people from whom Jesus came and amongst whom He ministered."
The problem, of course, is that sound bites are not how these things should be handled in the first place. It takes time to establish the provenance of such papyri finds, their meaning, context, relationship to other literature, etc., and normally such things take place outside the observation of the general public. What is more, the background material needed to make sense of much of that is far beyond your average religion reporter today. The result is that the bias of the media is simply unfiltered: if it can be spun to be in opposition to "traditional Christian belief," it will be hyped; if it is supportive of the same, it will not even get a mention.
All of this is all the more problematic because of the general acceptance---uncritical acceptance---of the "Bauer hypothesis," popularized today by Bart Ehrman, that the early church was a mish-mash of equally valid, equally apostolic, but mutually contradictory views. Combine that idea with every little scrap of gnostic nonsense and you have today's paradigm right in front of your eyes. [For one of the best currently published books debunking this viewpoint, you really need to click here.]
Finally, it is worthwhile to compare and contrast the response this story is getting with the worldwide Islamic rage against a vacuous, silly, absurd Internet video. Muslims are offended by its mockery of Muhammad. I am offended by the mainstream press propping up Gnostic absurdities and blasphemies about Jesus. We watch as Muslim Imams in Egypt tear up the Bible and then burn it in protest. We see death and burning and destruction as signs of an honor religion lashing out at a perceived denial of honor. And how do Christians respond to this attack upon our Savior? We seek to find ways to open dialogue so that we might speak the truth and dispel error. We consider the issues and point out deep and abiding world view issues and historical context errors. We respond with our minds, not with our fists. I truly doubt that Karen King has had to go into hiding due to the story about the papyri scrap. Christianity is not an honor religion. We leave judgment and vindication to the Last Day and we leave it in the hands of the Just Judge.
But one last word of irony: Muslims say they do not differentiate between one prophet and another. OK---so why are there no riots in Egypt about this papyri and its allegation that Jesus was married? The Qur'an does not say Jesus was married. The Qur'an says Jesus was virgin born, was a true man, etc. So why not be enraged about all the constant attacks upon Jesus? I have never heard about a single KFC being burned due to some denial of the virgin birth by a Western scholar, have you? But let someone draw a cartoon image of Muhammad, and the world erupts in flames. I am left once again asking, "Where's the consistency?"
A Few Notes and Corrections on Last Night's Debate
09/18/2012 - James WhiteA few corrections and notes on last night's debate. First, having quoted John 1:1 in Greek a few thousand times in my life, I think I ended up trying out for a spot on the TBN team at one point last night, but without an interpreter. My apologies. Secondly, I am really slowing down in my old age. OK, maybe it has nothing to do with age. But I like using my LiveScribe pen to take notes and to record the debate (in fact, the audio we just posted came from my pen, so you will hear me writing during Zakir's presentation). Anyway, debates are about the only time I write anymore. I could probably type a lot faster, and may need to do that in the future, not sure. We will see. Anyway, Zakir was talking at the speed of sound in the rebuttal period (as my notes show) and it was next to impossible to keep up with the references as they flew by. At one point he raised the issue of the Matthean reference to the prophecy (2:23) about the Nazarene. I did a quick search on my computer looking for the right reference and...got the wrong one in my haste. Oh, I got "branch" alright, but I wrote down the reference below what I wanted in the search list, Isaiah 14:19. My apologies. I didn't have time to read but a single line, saw "rejected branch," and scribbled it down. I was looking for Isaiah 11:1, a fact that can be verified easily by reference to my sermon on the Messiah in Isaiah 7 through 12 from last year's Psalm 119 Conference in, as I recall, Ohio, where I followed the references to the Messiah through that vital portion of Scripture. The term נֵ֖צֶר appears in both texts. Here is a screen shot of the search list. I will set up a donation fund for some prescription mid-range reading glasses:
Ironically, Zakir then, in the next section, read what seemed, in passing anyway, to be a decent note from, if I recall correctly, the NRSV Study Bible, or something like that (Oxford, possibly?), that laid out the exact verbal parallel I was attempting to reference when I got the wrong text. So, please make note of that correction.
Finally, I did not get into the issue of the wavy hair and light skin because, as anyone can see, that kind of description could have been applied to any number of the Muslims attending the debate that night, and even some of the Christians. Even this source admits the physical description could be of any Semitic man, and that the only real issue is whether the term machamad is actually the name of Muhammad. I obviously argue that such a connection is absurd. Utilizing verbal roots in this fashion can be used to prove anything, as I have noted already by finding both Shabir Ally and Zakir Hussain in the Old Testament using the same methodology. But I did want to note two things for the sake of accuracy once again. First, at least two people have mentioned to me that I was in error on an ABN show regarding the root H M D in either Arabic or Hebrew, and I may have been, I haven't taken the time to go back and try to find the comments. I do recall doing a program on a particular video on YouTube (well, we quoted material from it anyway) and if I recall correctly it was making the claim that the Hebrew read ה specifically, which it does not. Given two different people (one was not Muslim) thought I was saying the the roots varied by a letter, I must have given that impression. I thought I was trying to dispute the assertion of the video, but if I made an error or was unclear, again, I apologize. Discussing which Arabic letters can map to multiple Hebrew letters phonetically while reviewing a YouTube video live can present some challenges.
But another item I had wanted to point out, but did not have time, was the poetry of this text, something Zakir did not touch upon. Look at the text in Hebrew:
It is hard to explain this without vocalizing the Hebrew, but the two terms are clearly being used for their sound value, that is, their rhyme. mamthakkim is the parallel to machamad'dim. Both are abstract nouns functioning as descriptive adjectives used by a woman of her love. The idea that these poetic terms are to be applied to an Arabic prophet---one who showed not the slightest knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures themselves---over a thousand years later, all based upon the similarity of tri-literal roots, truly shows how desperate the Muslim position is. Ironically, Zakir then said, at one point, it wasn't about the roots! But if it isn't, then that means the מ preformative indicating an abstract noun form is somehow what "makes the difference." But that מ is actually a grammatical formation letter, not a part of the root! It is added to come up with "a desirable thing." No matter which way you turn, the Muslim position is untenable on any fair grounds. Of course, all of that would have been pretty hard to get across in a high speed rebuttal period anyway, and I am glad I actually chose to emphasize elements of the gospel instead! But for the sake of the record, I wanted to note these items.
Get Ready for A Wave of Gnostic Looniness Once Again
09/18/2012 - James WhiteRemember the Gospel of Judas a few years ago? Yeah, most people don't. It was one of the last "Look, the Gnostics were a bunch of heretics, let's call them Christians and say Christianity is silly" waves that was sponsored by a major institution with hundreds of thousands of dollars to burn in the never ending campaign to attack the Christian faith. Well, looks like the 2012 version has arrived courtesy of the Queen of Gnostic Looniness, Karen King.
Click here for the story.
Karen King makes her money writing books attacking Christianity based upon digging up the same gnostic myths rejected and refuted long, long ago. Just do a quick look on her name on Amazon. Some of her real winners include The Gospel of Mary Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle (2003), What is Gnosticism? (2005), and Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity (2007) co-authored with the other Queen of Gnostic silliness, Elaine Pagels. As you can see, she makes her shoe fund money digging the gnostics out of their graves and propping up their inane stories. But, that's what the media craves, and so, here we go again. Get ready, and be prepared to explain that gnostics were not Christians, for anyone who thinks the God of Abraham was an evil deity or that Jesus did not have a physical body is not, was not, and never will be, a Christian. Period. Just a heads up.
Is Muhammed Prophesied in the Bible Audio Now Available
09/18/2012 - Rich Pierce
Dr. White's audio recording from his debate with Zakir Hussain, (Is Muhammed Prophesied in the Bible), is now available. We have decided to make this publicly available to be distributed for free. Share it with your friends and relatives. We only ask that you not change it or sell it. All fair use rules apply for criticism too.
Please note the article posted above for one correction of a reference noted in the debate as Isaiah 14:19; intended reference was Isaiah 11:1.
You can click here and play it or right click here and download it. All that we ask is that if you are edified by it please consider supporting this work on a regular basis.
Is Muhammed Prophesied in the Bible? recorded by James White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://www.aomin.org.
A Quick Report from London
09/17/2012 - James WhiteJust wanted to post a quick "thank you" to everyone who was praying for tonight's debate at the East London Mosque. We were informed upon arriving that it is the "largest mosque in Europe." Whether that is the case or not, I don't know, but it is surely an impressive facility! Everyone was very kind to us, and I am very thankful for the opportunity of debating there. In this picture you see the front of the mosque, but the large building behind it is also a part of the facility. In fact, we debated in a conference room directly between the minarets in this picture on the top floor of windows. You can see the view from up there in the lower picture. Unfortunately, the lift was not working, so everyone had to prove their aerobic fitness by climbing many flights of stairs to get to the room!
I would say the crowd was about 50/50 Muslim/Christian, which, given the location and the part of London the mosque is located in, very much surprised me. Good groups of fired-up young Christian men from the Met Tab and from Trinity Road Chapel and other churches made the trek to be there, for which I am very grateful. Peter Ould, David Ould's brother (David has been my big contact down in Sydney, and arranged the last debate I did with Abdullah Kunde) was there as well, and he and Douglas, aka, "LondonTruth" in our chat channel, "live tweeted" the debate.
Since I have to get up in the morning to catch a train to do the Unbelievable Radio program (we will be doing a show with some Muslim representatives on Muslim sensitivities regarding Muhammad, a timely topic!), and I still have work to do to be ready for the debate Wednesday night with Sami Zaatari, I will forego a full report on the arguments and the debate itself. I will simply say Zakir Hussain did a lot of preparation and defended his position to the best of his ability. But he is young, and inexperienced, and fell into the trap of doing the "fast talking machine gun/shot gun approach." Even he admitted he was "all over the place," and he was. He forgot that if the audience does not follow you, and does not think that you are attempting to bring them along, you will accomplish nothing. It is a lesson I learned myself only after doing a number of debates. He became quite aggressive in the rebuttal periods, and that is always a bad move. I am not good at many things in this life, but turning aggression from my opponent around and using it to the advantage of the truth is one skill I do possess, by grace. Ever since my first debate, when my opponent gets angry, I get all the more focused. It's just the way the Lord made me. And that came out tonight, to be sure.
We had some great conversations afterward, and again, everyone at the East London Mosque was gracious and kind to us. I hope to have the opportunity of debating there again in the future, to be sure!
Please continue to pray for the work here in London, and this weekend in Germany, as it has just begun. Pray I remain healthy and focused! One down, three more to go!
Tomorrow Evening's Debate Time Change
09/16/2012 - James White
"Extreme Makeover" New Website Project Underway
09/14/2012 - Rich PierceLast December we asked for your help to purchase a new server for aomin.org and you made that happen. Now comes phase two: A complete rework of the entire site. New blog, new design and new shopping cart. We will be abandoning our old "vintage" site and incorporating that information into a new, easy to follow and highly searchable environment. As we are starting off this project we are finding that we are already in need of training. The immediate need is for a training class that our volunteer web designer "Hacim, King of Graphics" has volunteered to take. But the cost is $1,800.00 and we need your help. I have setup a special account in PayPal to cover this, as well as future costs that we will surely face, (see the link below). Please take a moment and consider supporting this new endeavor.
My Response to Sam Gipp's Kind Gift
09/14/2012 - James White
Today on the Last Live Dividing Line Until September 27
09/13/2012 - James WhiteStarted off talking about the creeping dhimmitude in the US, then looked at some Christian grandparents being punished by the secularist elite government in Scotland, then mentioned the Steve Ray's inconsistency in his comments on the Protevangelium of James, then talked about a package I received from Dr. Sam Gipp today (you really need to listen to that one). Then we took calls on common grace vs. prevenient grace, Jerusalem, predestination, and the inconsistency of pro-homosexual arguments. Quite a range of topics once again! Here's the program.
Steve Ray vs. Thomas Aquinas on the Protoevangelium of James
09/13/2012 - Tur8infanIn a recent post, Steve Ray describes the "Protoevangelium of James" in this way: "This document was written in the early 2nd century and known and loved by the first Christians." On the other hand, Thomas Aquinas described this same work as "apocryphal ravings." (see also the Decree attributed to Pope Gelasius)
Even the famous mariologist, Luigi Gambero, admits that "Its author must have been a non-Jew or, at most, a Jew who lived outside of Palestine, since he seems to possess a limited knowledge of Palestinian geography and Jewish customs." (Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, p. 35) In short, it is a work of lies.
Whether those are pious lies or just apocryphal ravings, as Aquinas judged, one wonders what motivates Rome's apologists to try to prop up Rome's dogma with such works?
I would be remiss to omit Jerome's comment in his commentary on Matthew, at Matthew 23:35-36, regarding the slain Zecharias that Jesus mentions: "Others want this Zechariah to be understood as the father of John. They approve of certain daydreams from apocryphal writings that say he was killed because he had predicted the Savior's advent. Since this view does not have the authority of the Scriptures, it is rejected with the same facility with which it is approved." (St. Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, Thomas P. Scheck trans., Fathers of the Church series, vol. 117, p. 266)
A Tired But Thankful DL Today
09/11/2012 - James WhiteSo...isn't it ironic that I finally finished writing What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur'an on 9/11? That wasn't my plan, but it turned out that way. Anyhow, by the time I got to the DL I had been working all day to finish a 34 page chapter with at least seven pages of endnotes (maybe nine, I can't remember) so my brain was mush. Thankfully, after talking a bit about the book, and emphasizing that no, I do not know when it will be out, but hope it will be sooner than later, we started taking a bunch of calls on a wide, wide variety of topics, from a Lutheran studying presuppositionalism to our friend from St. Kitts with a question about Esau and Jacob, and a fellow who called in and asked about the claims of his lesbian sister. Made the hour go by fast, no matter how tired I was! 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.
In the Homestretch...Update
09/08/2012 - James WhiteLast major chapter (not including conclusion)...six days left to get done and to do a read through before London, Berlin, and possibly Dublin (pray that works out). Busiest schedule I've ever planned for myself while away, too. But I have found I need the hard copy of a source I have in my notes for this last chapter. I have placed Suyuti's work on the Ministry Resource List. Always appreciate those who make this kind of research and writing possible!
Update Less than Five Minutes After Posting: Thank you! :-)
Today on the Dividing Line: Basically, a Sermon
09/06/2012 - James WhiteDidn't really intend to spend pretty much the entire hour on this, but, as I often say, it's definitely live webcasting. Started off reflecting on the statements in support of the murder of unborn children and the profanation of marriage that are found in the DNC platform document, and then turned to Isaiah 5:8ff for thoughts on what happens when a culture or a nation turns so thoroughly against the light. Pretty much took up the entire hour! Here's the program.
One of the Most Amazingly Absurd Examples of "Don't Confuse Me with the Truth" Mindset Found Amongst the Worst Islamic Apologists
09/05/2012 - James WhiteIt is truly hard not to laugh out loud at this one. Someone on Twitter sent me this link this morning. I have become accustomed to the "we can't argue with you, we are clueless about history and logic, but we can make outrageous claims and get our fellow jihadis to think we are brave" attitude of certain Muslims on YouTube. I pointed out yesterday on the Dividing Line an example posted by MuslimByChoice where he claims I "ADMIT" that Mark 16:9-20 is "A FORGERY!!!" This is all these folks can do---they cannot deal with the issues themselves, and, sadly, probably do not even understand the issues, but truthfulness and accuracy is not a part of their game plan. They have an audience that, likewise, is not concerned about such things. Frustrated by their inability to engage meaningful apologetic argumentation from the Christian perspective, they are looking only for symbolic victories, no matter how shallow or empty they may be in reality. Their audience is made up of people who are already deeply prejudiced, who have no interest or time to invest in actually thinking about the real issues at hand. While MuslimByChoice's materials are bad, the video I saw this morning currently stands as "the worst example of absurdity by a Muslim apologist" I've seen to date. At least when it comes to their attempts to provide a response to me.
On March 21, 2008 I tried, anyway, to debate Nadir Ahmed. Nadir had shown up at my church to challenge me to debate him. Here is the full debate:
Now, let me simply state that the Muslims in the audience were clearly angry with Nadir Ahmed's infantile behavior and performance. He used only seven minutes of his twenty minute opening statement since, quite simply, he had nothing of meaning to say. He behaved like a child, and everyone in the audience knew it. It was embarrassing to even be on the same stage with a man who is so clearly disabled in his reasoning and behavior. Nadir would have been disqualified in any formal debate setting for any number of violations of the rules. In fact, if there had been a panel of judges, the encounter would have been called after the opening statements. I, and every other honest adult in the room, Christian, Muslim, or other, was simply disgusted by the time we got to the portion of the debate that has now been posted on the Internet.
So what happens when you put in such an embarrassing performance, one so bad that even the Muslims are yelling at you by the end of the evening? Well, you let a few years pass, then you post a video where the other guy isn't even speaking, where Nadir, ignoring the topic of the debate, is now throwing out a challenge to debate some other topic, a sad and pathetic means of propping up his own standing as an apologist. No one in that room, and I mean no one, would have expected me to debate Nadir ever again after his childish behavior that evening. If the Muslims had any control over their apologists they would have retired Nadir that night. But clearly, no such control exists, and Nadir just keeps soldiering on. So, here's the video I was directed to this morning:
So there you go. Clear evidence that I "RAN AWAY" from "clear" evidence for Islam! In the context of the actual debate, this is one of the most pathetic attempts at face-saving I've ever seen. But Nadir will get away with it for a particular group, the only group he cares about: those who have no interest in truthfulness, no interest in facts, no interest in logic. Just, "give me a reason to keep believing!" An amazing example of how many, many Muslims simply do not really believe the Qur'an itself:
Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided. (Surah 16:125)
Yesterday on the Dividing Line
09/05/2012 - James WhiteStarted off with an analysis of a portion of the Dan Savage "Dinner Table Debate," illustrating how the redefinition of marriage means the destruction of marriage. Talked a bit about the most absurd ruling by a "federal judge" ever and then talked briefly about this example of how much of the most popular Islamic dawa material on the Internet is simply lacking in honesty and integrity. Then we went to phone calls and really covered a wide variety of topics. 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.