Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Registration Needed for Biola Event
04/16/2006 - James WhiteI just checked and there is a nominal registration fee (barely a gallon of gas anymore in California!) for attendance. Here is the link. I hope to see at least some of my friends from Southern California at this debate against Shabir Ally, though I know that the fact that it is a Sunday evening will preclude most of those who would come out from doing so. It will, of course, be audio and video recorded, and if you all send in "please, Rich, before 2010" donations, it might be out...in time for Christmas, maybe? :-)
Shabir Ally's "Contradictions"
04/14/2006 - James WhiteShabir Ally, the Muslim apologist I will be debating at Biola on Sunday evening, May 7th, on the inspiration of the New Testament, has published a little pamphlet containing 101 alleged contradictions in the Bible. He may even give me a copy during the debate (he has done so in previous debates). In any case, he has listed the same material on his website, and as time allows I would like to use this list as an excellent example of the kind of material that we all run into being presented by atheists, Muslims, Mormons, and others who have a vested interest in destroying the internal credibility and coherence of God's Word. Over and over again we will see the same themes in our replies: the need to examine context, the need to allow ancient writers to speak as ancient writers, etc. and etc. There is not a lot of order to the examples Shabir Ally gives, so I hardly feel any need to go in order. So, let's look at #36:
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on how many animals?
(a) One - a colt (Mark 11:7; cf. Luke 19:35).
And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it.”
(b) Two - a colt and an ass (Matthew 21:7).
They brought the ass and the colt and put their garments on them and he sat thereon.”
Now, immediately, most folks cock their head to one side and go, "Uh, wait...you think Jesus was riding on two animals?" Believe it or not, I've heard, as I recall, Ahmed Deedat, say exactly that (in a mocking tone no less). But yes, it seems rather obvious to the clear thinking person that Jesus rode on the colt in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, which reads, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout [in triumph], O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey." The prophetic fulfillment involved riding the colt, the foal of a donkey. Matthew simply informs us of the presence of the colt's mother, which again, makes perfect sense, since this was the first time the animal had been ridden. Anyone knows the younger animal would be more comfortable (especially in the context of a large and noisy crowd) with its mother going ahead. And so we see a very, very common element of the alleged "contradictions" presented to us by atheists, Muslims, Mormons, and others: assuming the giving of additional information is tantamount to a contradiction. We will see this coming up again and again. "Well, why didn't writer X tell us what writer Y does?" To which one must respond, "Why does writer X have to do so? Your reasoning would require that every account of any historical event must be 1) exhaustive in all detail, and 2) all accounts would then have to be word-for-word identical to avoid being held to be a contradiction!"
Tom Wright: You Can Love Jesus Even if You Reject His Resurrection
04/12/2006 - James WhiteWhen I was in the UK recently I was struck by the vast difference between the view taken of Tom Wright there, and that found in the States. In general everyone I spoke to there chuckled at the idea Wright is in any way "conservative." And the more he speaks, the more it is clear his countrymen know him better than the colonials do.
The Australian today carried an article on comments Wright made while speaking there recently. His words speak for themselves, at least for any person with a biblically-based faith:
Attesting to this is one of the Church of England's heaviest hitters, the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, who was in Australia recently on a lecture tour. An eminent theologian, an expert on the historical and biblical Jesus and a staunch believer in the resurrection, he baulks at denouncing those who are not.
"I have friends who I am quite sure are Christians who do not believe in the bodily resurrection," he says carefully, citing another eminent scholar, American theologian Marcus Borg, co-author with Wright of The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions.
"But the view I take of them - and they know this - is that they are very, very muddled. They would probably return the compliment.
"Marcus Borg really does not believe Jesus Christ was bodily raised from the dead. But I know Marcus well: he loves Jesus and believes in him passionately. The philosophical and cultural world he has lived in has made it very, very difficult for him to believe in the bodily resurrection.
"I actually think that's a major problem and it affects most of whatever else he does, and I think that it means he has all sorts of flaws as a teacher, but I don't want to say he isn't a Christian.
As is always the case with Wright, his wild statements are normally juxtaposed with sound, sober statements (later in the article he very accurately rips The Da Vinci Code apart, for example), once again illustrating the Magic of Anglicanism, the result of the Via Media. For some reason, Americans only "hear" the conservative statements, and seem to gloss over the rest. In any case, I think an ancient writer saw it much more clearly than Wright does: "and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain" (1 Cor. 15:14).
Read it For Yourself
04/08/2006 - James WhiteOne of the best ways to see how utterly without grounds the media frenzy over The Gospel of Judas really is involves reading the silly thing. Most folks with a modicum of common sense will go, "Oh, well, that sure is odd...and disjointed...and poorly written...and irrelevant" upon doing so. Here's where you can read the whole thing.
The Gospel of Judas: Nothing New Under the Sun (Updated)
04/07/2006 - James WhiteIt is all over the news today, as predicted (and, obviously, planned, given the date). "The Gospel of Judas Contradicts Christian Belief!" "Judas was Doing Jesus' Will!" "Christianity Shaken!" Blah, blah, blah. When you get your historical and theological information from Katie Couric on the Today Show, well, you'll buy anything.
When I was responding to Bart Ehrman's media blitz on his book, Misquoting Jesus, I repeatedly emphasized the need for every-day Christians to start studying these sources so as to be able to provide a meaningful response in an ever more anti-Christian context in Western Society. Well, here's another example. For those who have already realized Bart Ehrman's "if they said Jesus once, they were Christians" mythology makes no sense, this is another second century gnostic writing, like Thomas or Mary. Judas was one of the favorites of the gnostics; this gospel is gnostic to its core; gnosticism is utterly incompatible with anything that can seriously be called "Christian." End of story. Explain to the guy on the bus who just saw the Today interview (which had zero meaningful content). Go on with your daily service to Christ.
But, of course, not only are most Christians completely and utterly unaware of gnosticism, Nag Hammadi, aeons, dualism, etc., but they are likewise easily troubled by the culture's invocation of the holy and authoritative phrase, "scholars." Bart Ehrman is having to guzzle Starbucks to survive all the interviews he is doing today, all the while promoting his key argument: early Christianity was a mass of self-contradiction, and what we have today was just one small sliver that somehow managed to survive to predominance. And hence, due to lack of discipline and foundation, many are left wondering about the very foundations of their "faith."
Let's set the record straight right off the bat.
First, this isn't news. Not really, anyway. Word has been out on this for quite a while. For example, see here.
Second, this work of fiction has nothing to do with the historical Judas. Even folks like Bart Ehrman admit that.
Third, this is a gnostic work. It is soaked in the terminology and worldview of gnosticism. That is, it is dualistic in its views. Note the citations in the above cited source and the appearance of the term "aeon." Note as well this source holds to the gnostic distinction between the Creator and the Ultimate God. Since gnosticism was dualistic, believing matter to be evil, spirit to be good, the Creator was a demi-urge, an evil divine power, not the Ultimate and Good God. Hence, according to this work of gnostic fiction from the middle of the second century, Jesus was the son not of the Creator, Yahweh, but of the Ultimate and Good God. Further (and this even came out, however briefly, in the Today interview I saw), the gnostic body/spirit dualism, the very concept that caused the Greeks to begin mocking Paul when he mentioned the resurrection in Athens (Acts 17:32), is found in this fictional work, where Jesus is aided by Judas in ridding himself of his "earthly frame." You might as well say a work written by a Buddhist or a Muslim is relevant to the definition of the Christian faith, for nothing is more definitional of Christian belief than the consistent monotheism taken without interruption from the Hebrew Scriptures, and nothing more central to the gospel than true resurrection.
Fourth, if the same kind of strident skepticism was applied to this work that is regularly aimed at the Gospel of John, it wouldn't have made the "books received" notices in a minor theological journal somewhere. The double-standard of modern liberal "theology" is glaring, and, of course, the MSM (main stream media) is more than happy to put anything that could possibly cause disbelief in Christianity at the top of its front page or the first hour of its morning show. Of course, find a pre-Uthmanian manuscript of the Qur'an that truly does utterly shake the foundations of Islam and you wouldn't hear a word out of these same brave journalists.
So should someone come up to you at work going, "Hey, Bob, I know you are a Christian, but how about that Gospel of Judas! Sure throws your Bible into a tailspin, doesn't it?" just smile and respond, "Hey, I heard about that. I've been wondering all morning how a work of fiction written more than a century after the fact by a writer seeking to promote a completely different religion than that of Christ and the Apostles that doesn't have a shred of historical foundation to stand on could possibly get so much major air time. You think they'd give the same amount of attention to something that reflected badly on Mohammed? Nah, probably not. So, did you hear anyone actually talking about the vast differences between the real gospels and this work of fiction this morning?" ...
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