Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Jeremiah 8:8: Abused and Misused
11/27/2005 - James White
"At that time, declares the LORD, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its officials, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be brought out of their tombs. 2 And they shall be spread before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and served, which they have gone after, and which they have sought and worshiped. And they shall not be gathered or buried. They shall be as dung on the surface of the ground. 3 Death shall be preferred to life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family in all the places where I have driven them, declares the LORD of hosts. 4 "You shall say to them, Thus says the LORD: When men fall, do they not rise again? If one turns away, does he not return? 5 Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return. 6 I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly; no man relents of his evil, saying, 'What have I done?' Everyone turns to his own course, like a horse plunging headlong into battle. 7 Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the LORD. 8 "How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. 9 The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them? 10 Therefore I will give their wives to others and their fields to conquerors, because from the least to the greatest everyone is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. 11 They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace. 12 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the LORD. 13 When I would gather them, declares the LORD, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them." 14 Why do we sit still? Gather together; let us go into the fortified cities and perish there, for the LORD our God has doomed us to perish and has given us poisoned water to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD.
This text is one of the most commonly cited by Islamic apologists---well, let me modify that. One verse is, specifically, verse 8, "How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.'" The assertion is that this is a plain, incontestable assertion in the Bible itself that its own text has been corrupted (and, by extension, that the Bible is not the Word of God). Is this what Jeremiah is saying?
One thing you can almost never accuse Islamic apologists of is taking into consideration the context of any biblical passage when citing from the Christian Scriptures. We saw that repeatedly in reviewing Shabir Ally's debate with Sam Shamoun, even to the point of his directly admitting he did not need to worry about interpreting the Bible in its own context. And though I have heard multiple Islamic apologists citing the text in debates and on websites, I have yet to hear one who shows any knowledge of the context of the text and its function in the prophecy of Jeremiah.
Let us first consider how utterly unlikely it is that the Islamic interpretation offered by certain apologists has any merit whatsoever. If Jeremiah were actually accusing the scribes of altering the actual text of the Torah, the Mosaic Law, so that it was no longer available or knowable, can we imagine him doing so in one verse, and them moving on? But surely that is not his purpose, for he continually assumes the possession of, and knowledge of, the law of Yahweh, holding those very people accountable to it. It is simply beyond the realm of logic to think Jeremiah himself believed that law had been corrupted and lost as well. Consider well that Jeremiah will later prophecy the writing of God's law upon the hearts of His people in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:33), but he says nothing about it having to be re-inspired or revealed again so as to be able to do so. And consider this passage as well: ...
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Another Shabir Ally Biblical Error
11/13/2005 - James WhiteThose who have listened to the Dividing Line of late know that I've been playing sections of debates featuring, mainly, Sam Shamoun. We played the entirety of his debate with Shabir Ally, and I've been listening to a number of Ally's other debates, mainly while riding medium distance runs on a bicycle (20 to 40 miles or so). Great time to listen/study. Anyway, I was flying down South Mountain (miss one of those corners and that would be a literal description) and I caught Shabir Ally doing an impersonation of Gerry Matatics. By that I mean he was doing the "throw out a statement with supporting citations so fast that only the best note-taker will even keep up with you and do it so that folks will be impressed (but hopefully won't question you about it later)" thing. Ally was trying to make yet another allegation of error in the Bible, this time on the basis of a citation from Hebrews 1:6, or at least that is all I can assume he was doing, since he didn't bother giving the reference. Instead, he referred to the passage in Hebrews 1 where "God said to the angels, 'Worship the Son.'" I can only assume he means Hebrews 1:6, "And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him." There are simply no other candidates for the passage to which he refers. He then says Paul was quoting from Deuteronomy 32:6, which reads, "Do you thus repay the LORD, you foolish and senseless people? Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?" No, I have no idea how that is connected at all. All of the citations in Hebrews 1 are from the Psalter. So, strike 1. But then Shabir Ally says that Paul did not quote from the "Hebrew original" but from an "inaccurate Septuagint version." And then, to make it worse, allegedly Paul misquotes even the LXX (Septuagint), because, we are assured by Shabir Ally, the Septuagint does not say "worship the Son" but "worship Jehovah." So let's add up the errors...it isn't Deuteronomy 32:6 that is cited, it is Psalm 97:7 (96:7 LXX) in Hebrews 1:6. The text does not say "the angels are to worship the Son" but "let all the angels of God worship Him" (the term "Son" is not found in Hebrews, so how Paul could misquote that is hard to know). Further, the LXX, despite the best attempts made by a few Jehovah's Witness apologists, does not make reference to Jehovah (Yahweh), but uses the Greek term kurios in place of the Tetragrammaton. So, though I would imagine Shabir Ally's presentation sounded real good to his followers, once again we are left in amazement at the simple lack of accuracy in his statements.
Finally, it is interesting to ponder Shabir Ally's implicit assertion that to cite the LXX is to automatically, it seems, disqualify the Bible from being the Word of God. This comes from the fact that in Islam, Arabic is the "pure" and "divine" language, and that the Qur'an truly only exists therein (all translations being inferior and mere approximations). The idea of using the language of others to spread the message of Scripture is foreign to much of modern Islam, which spreads its message most often by force of arms rather than convincing people through persuasion and appeal. Muslims see the spread of the Christian Scriptures by copying and translation (so as to bring the gospel to all men in their own language) a weakness, not a strength, and this goes back to a fundamental difference between Christianity and Islam: biblical Christians and Muslims both believe God shows His great power by bringing people into proper subjection to Himself; but Christians believe He does this by taking out a heart of stone and giving a heart of flesh, by changing the person inwardly, making His enemies His worshippers, not by the force of the sword, but by the power of the Spirit.