Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Bankruptcy of Islamic Apologetics IV
01/31/2006 - James WhiteIn our last installment we quoted the source used (uncritically) by Islamic apologists, Bart Ehrman, regarding John 20:28. It needs to be understood (as evidently it is not by those citing him) that Ehrman is not foolish enough to try to argue that the original reading of John 20:28 is anything other than what we have in our texts today, i.e., that removing the article before the word "God" came from an early Christological controversy, i.e., the concern over modalism or Patripassionism. The original is what we have in our text. I don't get the feeling the Islamic apologists citing him understand this. Of course, given the "spin" in Ehrman's work, that's hardly surprising.
Let's work through the main points made in the paragraph found in Ehrman. First, Ehrman adopts a distinction made by some in the early church between the arthrous and anarthrous forms of theos,--between o` qeo,j and merely qeo,j. But this is not a New Testament distinction. In fact, it is one "violated" by John himself, in that he uses qeo,j with or without the article depending on context to refer to the true God. In fact, the very idea that the article can be so simplistically handled in Greek is convincing only to those who view the Greek article as if it is the parallel to the English article "the," and anyone who knows the language knows that is simply not the case. Greek articles are a world unto themselves. It is ironic to find Ehrman ignoring this basic fact. No serious discussion of the variant could possibly be offered without it.
Next, we need to recognize the textual data to which Ehrman makes reference. There is a single ancient manuscript to which he makes reference: Codex Bezae Catabrigiensis (D) from the fifth century. Ehrman's teacher in the field of textual criticism, Bruce Metzger, has written concerning this manuscript:
No known manuscript has so many and such remarkable variations from what is usually taken to be the normal New Testament text. Codex Bezae's special characteristic is the free addition (and occasional omission) of words, sentences, and even incidents. (Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 2nd ed., p. 50.)...
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The Bankruptcy of Islamic Apologetics (III)
01/27/2006 - James WhiteLet's briefly refute the assertions made by Deedat and Abdullah noted in the first post in this series. Note that Deedat repeated these errors ad nauseum: as far as I can tell, he never accepted correction on these issues, but repeated the same errors throughout his entire life.
1) "The context of the verse talks about an unbelieving Thomas being surprised when Jesus offers him evidence." False. There is nothing about "surprise" in the text. Deedat is begging the issue, inserting at the start what he ends up "finding" at the end. Circular argumentation.
2) "The exclamation, "My God," on his part was just astonishment. We use such exclamations everyday while talking to people. This doesn't mean that the person we are talking to is God." A common aspect of Deedat's presentation is this kind of fallacious argumentation. No one, of course, is arguing that because Thomas was allegedly surprised, this means Jesus is God. This kind of statement fills Deedat's lectures, yet, the only person influenced by such disjointed, illogical statements are weak minded individuals who cannot think through what is being presented. While we use exclamations every day, we are not in Thomas' position; further, the text says Thomas was addressing Jesus directly. Exclamations are not addressed to anyone; the text says Thomas' words are directly related to what Jesus said ("answered"); exclamations require no connection, thought wise, to what comes before. There is no foundation for Deedat's claims.
3) "For example, I see John cutting his wrist with a Rambo knife. I say: "My God, John what are you doing?" Do I mean that John is God? Of course not. Similar is the use of the expression by Thomas." Of course, a complete non sequitur for there is no parallel to the text in John 20:28. Jesus was not cutting Himself with a knife; Thomas had been told Jesus had risen; Jesus had invited Thomas to examine the proof of His risen body; Thomas responds not by saying "My God!" but "My Lord and my God," which is a completely different phrase; and Jesus then blesses the confession of faith on Thomas' part. Pure falsehood on Deedat's part.
4) "If you go into Jewish or Muslim societies even today, you'll hear people exclaim "My God, my Lord," at every situation which surprises them or causes them anguish or is astonishing." And I'm sure they are all standing before Saviors who have risen from the dead and provided then with proof of His resurrection. Sorry, but I have never heard such phraseology used by any Jew or Muslim.
5) "In the verse above Thomas says: "My God, my Lord." He was not claiming that Jesus was his (1) God and (2) Lord. If he did then the church and the disciples should have stamped him as a heretic right there and then. Because claiming that Jesus is Lord and God is a violation of Christian doctrine, which asserts that there is One God, the Father and One Lord, Jesus. Jesus can't be God and Lord." Pure ignorance or deception, depending. While qeo,j (theos) is normatively used of the Father, and ku,rioj (kurios) is used of Christ, there are exceptions. For this passage to violate the distinction between the Persons Thomas would have had to say, "You are the Father, the Son, and the Spirit!" or in some other way confound the divine Persons. Calling Jesus "my God and my Lord" does not identify Jesus as the Father. Hence, Deedat is shown to be in error once again. ...
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Islam's Apologetic Bankruptcy (II)
01/25/2006 - James WhiteLet's inject just a little truth into the discussion of John 20:28 before looking at the amazing claims of Islam's apologists and then trace them back to their source in Bart Ehrman.
The meaning of this text has been clearly understood from the start. Only a tremendous prejudice and bias could cause any person to miss the intention of John, and that is only more clearly seen when we take John's testimony as a whole. Indeed, when you read the text through the lens of the prologue, follow the argument through the I Am sayings, hear the testimony from Christ's lips concerning His relationship to the Father, you are truly not left in a position of being surprised when you come to Thomas' confession. That is why enemies of the faith have to cut John up, disconnect his own words, posit unproven and unprovable theories about redaction and a late date for the work, etc., to avoid its plain teaching. There is no question--none--that the author of the Gospel of John believed in the full deity of Christ and the full humanity of Christ, and that his faith was picked up by his disciples in the earliest generations of the church. Indeed, Ignatius of Antioch, who tradition says was directly acquainted with John the beloved disciple, called Jesus "God" frequently in his letters, and plainly confessed the dual nature of Christ. Note just a few citations:
For our God Jesus Christ, being in the Father, is more plainly seen. The work is not of persuasiveness, but Christianity is a thing of might, whenever it is hated by the world (Romans 3)
There is one physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate and ingenerate, God in man, true life in death, both from Mary and from God, first passible and then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Ephesians 7)
Any fair reading of the text leaves the suggestions of Deedat, Badawi, and the original suggestion of Abdullah, refuted. Thomas was not present when the risen Lord had first appeared to the disciples. When the Lord does appear, He gives Thomas instant indication of His supernatural knowledge, for He relates to Thomas the very challenge that Thomas in his unbelief had given to his fellow disciples. Now keep something in mind: Thomas was refusing to accept the testimony of eyewitnesses to the resurrection. Thomas knew these men. He knew their character, and yet his unbelief withstood their combined testimony. So when the Lord appears and invites Thomas to do exactly what he had claimed he would have to do to believe, he needs no further evidence. Indeed, there is no reason to believe that Thomas did, in fact, stretch forth his finger as invited. ...
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Da Vinci Code Level Nonsense in Islamic Apologetics
01/23/2006 - James WhiteJust a quick note about an amazing graphic I stumbled across in Misha'al ibn Abdullah's book, What Did Jesus Really Say? Here it is:
Let's look at the claims. First we are told that at the Council of Nicea "The Trinitarians gain the backing of the pagan Romans." I suppose that is the really accurate way of saying "The vast majority of the 300+ bishops, holding to the deity of Christ, are not opposed, but supported, by Constantine, at least at this point." Of course, when the Arians gained power in subsequent years, Constantine did not care. As long as he had political peace.
Next we read, "All conanical [sic] Gospels from before this period are destroyed." Yes, Conan was deeply involved in the canon process! What utter rubbish to claim that "canonical" gospels from prior to Nicea were "destroyed." This is pure fiction without a scintilla of historical support. All existing historical documentation witnesses against this pure falsehood and fabrication. But who knows, maybe this is where Dan Brown got his claims?
Next, "A new list of acceptable Gospels is drawn up." Really? By whom, Mr. Abdullah? When? Where? Try proving your point! Unlike Dan Brown, you can't hide behind the "fiction" label.
Next we have, "The Fourth century also sees the writing of the Codex Sinaiticus. Shortly after this, the Trinitarians finally agree on the final list of 'Truely inspired' books of the Bible."
Yes, a, Aleph, Sinaiticus, was originally copied around the time of Nicea, probably one of the fifty paid for and commissioned by Constantine in light of the Imperial destruction of the Christian Scriptures for decades before that. The summarization of the canon process in these words does not bode well for the depth of understanding of our Muslim apologist friends.
Next we read, "Nine different 'correctors' make over 14,800 changes to the Codex Sinaiticus over the next 14-15 centuries." ...
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Islam's Apologetic Bankruptcy
01/20/2006 - James WhiteI have been shocked over the past few weeks to realize that the best Mecca has to offer apologetically, particularly in reference to their attacks upon the Deity of Christ, fall far short of even that presented by our home-grown "Christian cults" like Jehovah's Witnesses. This has been particularly clearly demonstrated in the comments I have been hearing and reading regarding the Islamic explanation of John 20:28.
As I began working on what I thought would be a short little article, I began to realize that I had stumbled onto a subject that demonstrates, with more clarity than I had expected, the thesis I had in mind. That is, as I began following certain quotations and sources, I was able to see that everything I was finding had one of two sources, and one of those sources has become quite well known to all of us lately: none other than Bart Ehrman himself. The utterly uncritical acceptance shown by leading Islamic apologists for anything Ehrman has to say is amazing, especially given the fact that he would, if even slightly consistent, dismiss the Qur'an as a revelation from God just as he dismisses the New Testament, and for the same basic reasons. Be that as it may, I am still gathering some sources, but wanted to provide to you at least a start to this discussion of John 20:28
The text is well known. Note the context before and after the key words:
After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."...
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Nadir Ahmed Demonstrates Incapacity to Engage in Rational Dialogue
01/15/2006 - James WhiteFor every person who listened to my reviews of Shabir Ally's debates, which included a brief section demonstrating some rather...silly errors on the part of Nadir Ahmed, and who heard the brief comments I made regarding some of his followers and their "you are afraid" e-mails, and the fact that we have invited Nadir Ahmed to call and respond repeatedly, even playing his own comments and refuting them on the air, this link will demonstrate why he and his followers should not be taken seriously. It speaks for itself. Mr. Ahmed: the number is still 877-753-3341, and you will still have to be prepared to deal with the critical edition of the Greek New Testament. One of us is out in the open, one of us is hiding. Facts are facts.
Islam and the Forgiveness of Sins
01/12/2006 - James WhiteThe Associated Press is carrying the story of the death of over 300 pilgrims outside Mecca. Note the description of the hajj in this secular report:
Thousands of Muslim pilgrims rushing to complete a symbolic stoning ritual during the hajj tripped over luggage Thursday, causing a crush in which at least 345 people were killed, the Interior Ministry said.Pelting rocks with stones purges you of sin? And this from the religion that has spawned the modern generation of apologists who mock the cross? The article likewise notes that similar stampedes took place in 1990 (1,426 people dead) and 2004 (244 dead). Thousands dying in a mad rush to throw stones at the devil? The contrast again is tremendous: in Islam you throw stones at the devil; in Christianity the very Creator enters into His own creation and gives Himself as the sacrifice that brings forgiveness to all those who are vitally united to Him.
The stampede occurred as tens of thousands of pilgrims headed toward al-Jamarat, a series of three pillars representing the devil that the faithful pelt with stones to purge themselves of sin.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said 345 people were killed. More than 1,000 people were injured, said Dr. Abbasi with the Saudi Red Crescent.
Footage from the scene showed lines of bodies laid out on stretchers on the pavement and covered with sheets. Ahmed Mustafa, an Egyptian pilgrim, said he saw bodies taken away in refrigerator trucks.
I Find This...Really Odd
01/03/2006 - James WhiteSomone referred me to a feud between popular TV eschatologist Hal Lindsey (yes, I remember taking a standardized achievement test in my senior year in High School long ago and reading his Late Great Planet Earth between segments of the test) and TBN's Jan and Paul Crouch. Here's a letter from Lindsey to TBN, here's another story on it. Seems TBN doesn't want to say anything negative about Islam. Looks like they've bought into the "most Muslims are not like that" line and hence do not want to deal with the reality of Qur'anic-based Islamic religion. Not overly surprising, given the theology--or lack thereof--expressed on TBN, where tongues define orthodoxy but the Trinity doesn't. But it is still odd to see one person with a less than stellar theological resume leaving TBN because they want to censor statements about Islam. I suppose it can get stranger than this, but I really don't want it to.