Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Prophet and the Prophets - Appendix I

The following is an appendix to the below series of articles on Deuteronomy 18:

Do Not Be Afraid of Him - Part I
Do Not Be Afraid of Him - Part II

Appendix I: The Prophet and the Prophets

In its grammatical-historical context, Deuteronomy 18 doesn’t directly predict the coming of one specific individual, at least not in the way that many people surmise.

Whereas Deuteronomy 18 speaks of a “prophet”, singular, the grammatical-contextual usage, in full harmony with the exigencies of Israel’s historical situation, indicates that the word is being used in a collective or distributive rather than in a simple sense, and therefore points not to just one person but to many prophets or an entire order of prophets. In other words, the prophecy/promise of Deuteronomy 18 is about the prophetic office, and is, at least initially, as will be shown, fulfilled in the case of Joshua, Moses’ immediate successor, as well as the long train of Hebrew prophets that God would raise up after him, from Samuel to John the Baptist.


The rest of this article can be read here at Answering Islam. Comments on the article may be left in the comments section of this blog.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Help Get Sam Shamoun a Laptop

Please help get Sam a laptop for Christmas. For more information on this, go here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Silencing A Muslim Dawagandist

Here is another reply that just went up at Answering Islam, this one in response to an attack against the resurrection of the Lord Jesus by Sami Zaatari.
Anyone familiar with Zaatari's method of reasoning knows that his arguments against Christianity are often false just on their face (and for that reason have a face only someone like Zaatari could love), and thus any analysis expended on them is bound to be a case of overkill. What is generally true turns out to be no less the case when it comes to one of Zaatari’s latest reckless attacks on Christ and Christianity, which centers on Isaiah 53, a passage he believes refutes the Lord’s resurrection, a doctrine that is admittedly central and indispensable to the Christian faith. (Zaatari’s article can be found here.)
After reading the rest of this article, which can be found here, please return and leave your comments.

A Lie Upon God

I have a new article up at Answering Islam, which is a response to Ibn Anwar, a pronounced Muslim and anti-Trinitarian.
In a recycled article that now appears on the Muslim Responses website, a Muslim dawagandist named Ibn Anwar attempted to refute the Trinity and prove Islam’s peculiar brand of monotheism from the Holy Scriptures, specifically from a passage found in Mark’s account of the Gospel. This article constitutes a rebuttal.

In the opening paragraph Mr. Anwar provides the following explanation of his thesis:

“There are quite a number of verses and passages throughout the New Testament that teach and propagate the absolute Oneness of God the Creator and Jesus' subservience to Him as a servant and worshipper. We will not be scrutinising [sic] all those verses here. What we will do is focus on just one passage which to my understanding as I will prove in due course succinctly refutes the Trinity and shows Jesus' admission to absolute numerical monotheism. Before we proceed it is noteworthy that Muslim apologists in general like to quote Mark 12:29 in particular whenever arguing for Jesus' monotheistic belief, but, they almost never discuss the immediate verses that follow that would indeed strengthen their case further as we shall see…”
To read the rest of this article, go here. As always, you are invited to return here and leave your comments after reading the article.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Plural of Majesty: Allah is Neither Plural Nor Majestic; or, How Modern Muslims Have One-Upped Muhammad

Silence and Propaganda Are the Best Policy

In a lengthy paper entitled Let Us Make Man: A Trinitarian Interpretation of Genesis 1:26 (and Related Passages), I argued, in a long train of others before and since, on prima facie, exegetical, systematic and historical grounds that the plural pronouns used by Yahweh, the one true God, in places like Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8, are only properly understood in light of the rich Trinitarianism of Biblical revelation rather than in terms of any kind of impoverished or sterile unitarianism (not to mention polytheism). Space was also devoted in the paper to refuting some of the more popular alternative approaches, including the old canard that the phenomenon found in these passages are only instances of some kind of literary plural or figure of speech – such as the plural of majesty, the plural of respect, the plural of deliberation, and the editorial “we”.

To date, no Muslim has refuted the kind of positive evidence I (and others) have provided, apparently going with the motto that silence on this score is the best policy, and no Muslim has thought it meet to address the problems with the alternative views that I (and others) have enumerated, but for all that Muslim dawagandists have not stopped repeating the idea that a literary plural – specifically, the plural of majesty – is in view, a tactic that amounts to nothing more than propaganda.1 In light of this, it seems to me that it is high time to once again explain the problem this view has, and add to the list of problems certain considerations that show that this way of explaining the passages is illicit, given what Muslim sources themselves tell us, and incongruous, given the Islamic view of God.

To read the rest of this article, go here. As always, after finishing the article you may return here and leave your comments in the provided combox.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The True Shahada: Defended - Part III

This is the third installment of my response to an anonymous Muslim’s critique of my article, the True Shahada. Picking up Anonymous’ critique where I left off in part two, the following will show that John 17:3 supports the undiminished deity of Christ contrary to Mr. Anonymous’ self-styled rebuttal and contrary to Islam’s Shahada. Thus it will be demonstrated once again that this passage is of no help to Muslims no matter how anxious they are to establish some kind of revelatory precedent for their religion, one that goes back beyond a mottled version of seventh century paganism, sectarian, apocryphal, and Gnostic “Christianities”, and post-messianic Talmudic Judaism, to the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

To read the rest of this artice, please go here. As always, you may return to the comments section provided on this page and leave your remarks.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Do Not Be Afraid of Him - Part II

Yes, after retrieving an unfinished draft from my old broken laptop, I have finally finished the long promised article on Deuteronomy 18. Enjoy.
Having shown in Part One that the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18 was not and could not have been speaking of Muhammad, it remains only to show who the ultimate fulfillment of the passage really is. Although the previous article was dispatched in short order, focused as it was on Muhammad, about whom the passage has nothing positive to say, the present paper will naturally be somewhat longer since the focus is now on “…the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45)

The rest of this article can be read on Answering Islam at the following link: see Do Not Be Afraid of Him - Part II. As always, after reading the article you may return here and leave your comments and/or ask questions in the provided combox. May the Name of the Lord be praised.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rashad Khalifa's Killer Finally Found

The murderer of Rashad Khalifa has finally been found and apprehended. Not surprisingly Khalifah's murderer turned out to be a Muslim who didn't appreciate Khalifa claiming to be a prophet after Muhammad (not to mention a number of other things); after all, like all Muslims this murderer believes Muhammad was the greatest guy who ever lived, and since Muhammad's peerless example included killing people who didn't think as highly of him as he thought of himself, well....

Oh yeah, it so happens that it has been nineteen years since the dirty deed was perpetrated; no doubt the Submitters are all abuzz over this. (For those who aren't in the know, the number "19" was a basis for much speculation on Khalifah's part.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Open Blog Post To Sami Zaatari: On Genesis 1:26

Sami, your most recent article on Genesis 1:26, which you wrote to attack the Trinity, is so incredibly bad I am beside myself. I would write a response, but your article doesn't come close to tackling what I have already said on the matter here.

In fact, though there is nothing in your article I haven't already responded to in the paper linked above, I have been meaning to add something else to the section of that article dealing with the Muslim objection for quite some time. Thanks for stirring the pot; I will get right on it.
Update (8/24/09): Instead of adding to my original article, I decided to write an entirely different one dedicated to debunking the "Plural of Majesty" explanation. It includes specific material relevant to showing that such an explanation is not at all available to Muslims. That means it is back to the drawing board for dawagandists like Zaatari. It can be found through the following link: here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Logical Precision of the Qur'an: Not!

“And there are among them illiterates who know not the Book but only lies, and they do but conjecture.” (Shakir, S. 2:78)

This leads to problems like the following:

(1) If such people knew/know that 2+4+2=8, then according to the Qur’an it would be/is a lie, which is absurd. (This might help Muhammad and his followers out of a bind (q.v. Surah 41:9-12), but it would lead to an untold number of other problems.)

(2) If it is true that such people knew/know only lies, then they wouldn't have known/know that they existed/exist. If they did/do know that they existed/exist, then it would have been/is a “lie”, but if their existence was/is a lie, then how did/do they know it since non-existent persons can’t know anything?

(3) It is not possible to “know” only lies, for in the nature of the case a lie can be believed but it cannot be known.

These problems don’t go away even if one tries to restrict the lies “known” by Scriptural illiterates to that which regards “the book”, for once again, it is not possible to know any lies, whether they are about the book or something other than the book. Lies cannot be known. Period. The tenacity of this point also doesn’t go away if one resorts to other translations, for they all yield a similar set of problems.

****Many thanks to PM for alerting me to this****

Monday, May 11, 2009

The World is a Great Big Orphanage; At least According to the Religion of Islam

Muslims consider themselves to be part of one great big "brotherhood". All those who believe in Allah and in Muhammad as Allah's last and final messenger are regarded as brothers and sisters to one another.

However, Muslims deny the Fatherhood of their god, Allah. So the million dollar question is: "If all Muslims are brothers, then who is their father?"

In response, either Muslims must reckon themselves to be orphans in a lonely world, or own up to the fact that they are sons and daughters of someone else. As the old saying goes, this means they are stuck between the Devil and the deep (lonely) blue sea.

James White, PhD in Islamic Studies

In the following, Dr. White expresses his intention to pursue a Ph.D. in Islamic studies.

The irony is that men like Sami, Osama, and other Muslims are the ones who need such an education; Dr. White does quite well debunking them without it. Nevertheless, it is a worthy goal, and I will certainly pray for his studies and most of all the good use he will make of them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The True Shahada: Defended - Part I & 2


In an article entitled “The True Shahada”, I provided a comparison and contrast between John 17:3, a verse Muslims often see as supportive of their brand of unitarianism, and Islam’s Shahada, which Christians see as a blasphemous denial of the Father and the Son. A Muslim, who prefers to remain nameless – which would otherwise be fine except that in this case it seems calculated to save him (her?) from embarrassment once his underhanded tactics and criminal mishandling of my article was exposed – has provided a “response” to it called “The True Shahada Indeed”, and the reader is encouraged to read both my original article and the purported reply before continuing.

The rest of this article can be read at Answering Islam, at the following link: See Here. For Part Two, See Here. As Always, if you have any thoughts, you may leave them here in the combox.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Craig vs. Hitchens: Debate Review Link

Douglas Geivett has provided a good review of the recent debate between Hitchens and Craig. It can be found here.

Update (4/17/09): By now there are many reviews of the debate besides that provided by Geivett. His was just one of the first since he was at the debate. No need to link to the others, they are easy to find in a search engine.

If you really want to know how it went, check out the following atheist sites.

See John Loftus' post here.

Or you might read this one.
Here is a snippet from the last link for those who are lazy and just want to get to the point:

"Craig was flawless and unstoppable. Hitchens was rambling and incoherent, with the occasional rhetorical jab. Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Good Friday: A Reply to Zaatari

Sami Zaatari, not one to miss an opportunity, or keep his foot out of his mouth, took a pot shot the other day on what many Christians celebrate as Good Friday, the day that Christ, the Good Shepherd, is widely believed to have laid down His life for His sheep. According to Sami, there is nothing good about this scenario, and the view of many Muslims that Jesus was simply taken up to heaven, allowing one of his disciples to be crucified in his place, and leaving the rest of the disciples behind to fend for themselves, is far better. Christ's words expose Sami's reasoning for what it is:

"11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep." (John 10)

Sami's article teaches us an important lesson: Christianity is a religion of the Good Shepherd; Islam is a religion of the "Good" Hireling.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

TurretinFan and Zawadi

Over on the Alpha and Omega blog, TurretinFan (aka Tur8infan) has provided a response to Bassam Zawadi regarding the fact that "Mohamed did not know of the currently prevalent Muslim view that the Bible is corrupt." The link is below. Enjoy.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Easter Links

Since Easter is coming up and this is when skeptics like to take their yearly shower, put on their good clothes, and appear on TV attacking the Faith, here is a post over at Triablogue that has a great list of Resources For Easter. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Carrier on the Historicity of Christ

As many know, Carrier recently debated William Lane Craig on the resurrection of Christ. The reports coming in from all sides - atheist and theist (Christian and non-Christian) - say that Craig thoroughly routed him. Indeed, Carrier himself said: "I didn't win the debate", although he goes on to do damage control. (see here)

But all the above was just an excuse to bring up the following, which I thought I would direct people to, where an atheist wrote a very interesting blog entry on a talk that Carrier gave on the historicity of Christ. Do take a gander, it should prove enlightening. Do Not Be Quickly Persuaded

Point of Clarification (3/29/09): In case my promotional remarks above might be misunderstood, I should be up front and say I don't subscribe to all aspects of Craig's apologetic method (nor do I agree with his Social Trinitarianism (as opposed to Latin Trinitarianism) or his Molinism or his view that God became temporal at the creation of the world or a number of other things I could mention), but Craig can still be quite fun to watch, and I haven't seen any unbeliever who has been able to get the best of him in a debate.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Muslim Logic: Is Sami Zaatari Satan?

Over at Muslim Responses, Sami Zaatari has tried his hand at the commit-as-many-fallacies-as-you-can-in-a-syllogism challenge (this is an unexpressed challenge that many Muslims seem to be aware of, at least if we may judge by their actions). His attempt goes like this:

(1) -A Christian lies
(2) -The Christian clams to have the Holy Spirit
(3) -The Christian claims that the Holy Spirit works through him/her
(4) -The Christian claims that the Holy Spirit guides him/her
(5) -Therefore the Holy Spirit causes the Christian to lie
(6) -The Bible states that satan is a liar and is the father of lies
(7) -The Holy Spirit is satan

[The words are Zaatari's; the numbering is mine - SP]

This argument has two parts. The first part, where (5) is concluded on the basis of (1-4), and the second part, where (7) is concluded on the basis of (5-6).

I won't bother listing all the errors...indeed, that would take away all the fun from others who may want to find some errors on their own, but I will note here that neither (5) nor (7) follow in any wise, even if we grant that all of the premises Zaatari has supplied are true.

The conclusion that the Holy Spirit causes the Christian to lie (5) doesn't follow from the claim that a person has the Holy Spirit who guides and works through him (2-4), at least not on any normal meaning of the relevant terms.

And the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is Satan (7) doesn't follow even if we pretend that Zaatari has established that the Spirit causes a person to lie (5) when taken together with the fact that Satan is the father of lies (6), for just becase Satan is the originator and approver of all lies, doesn't mean that he is the only one who can or does lie.

Simply put: at both stages of his argument Zaatari is guilty of a non-sequitur, asserting something in his conclusion that does not at all follow from his premises.

And by the way, when a person asserts something on the basis of demonstrably faulty reasoning, it is either due to a mistake, or it is intentionally designed to deceive. If the above is chalked up to a mistake in reasoning on Zaatari's part, then it is an egregious one that not even a freshman should make (and surely Zaatari considers himself a step above freshman status); if it is a case of willful deception, then shall we conclude that Zaatari is Satan? Zaatari's reasoning suggests that we should.

Putting all this together would mean that Zaatari is "the Holy Spirit" who in turn is Satan (on Zaatari's reasoning, of course). [And wouldn't this also mean, if we grant the Muslim claim that the angel Gabriel is the Holy Spirit, that Zaatari (i.e. Satan) is the one who brought the "revelation" to Muhammad? Certainly it would.]

Monday, March 9, 2009

Allah, the Great Abstraction

Muslims are fond of pretending that they believe in "pure" monotheism. According to them this means that Allah is absolutely one, not two, not three, not anything beyond the most simple unity. Here is an example of a Muslim source that defines "oneness" or "unity" or "tawheed" in this very way:

"(3) His being is not merely One (wahid but ahad, in which there is no tinge of plurality in any way: He is not a compound being, which may be analysable or divisible. which may have a form and shape, which may be residing somewhere, or may contain or include something, which may have a colour, which may have some limbs, which may have a direction, and which may be variable or changeable in any way. Free from every kind of plurality He alone is a Being Who is Ahad in every aspect. (Here, one should fully understand that the word wahid is used in Arabic just like the word "one" in English. A collection consisting of great pluralities is collectively called wahid or one, as one man, one nation, one country, one world, even one universe, and every separate part of a collection is also called one. But the word Ahad is not used for anyone except Allah. That is why wherever in the Qur'an the word wahid has been used for Allah, He has been called Itah wahid (one Deity), or Allah-ulWahid-al-Qahhar. (One Allah Who is Omnipotent), and nowhere just wahid, for this word is also used for the things which contain pluralities of different kinds in their being. On the contrary, for Allah and only for Allah the word Ahad has been used absolutely, for He alone is the Being Who exists without any plurality in any way, Whose Oneness is perfect in every way. (Tafheemul-Quran)" (source; emphasis mine)

It is on this basis that Muslims strenuously object to the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one in essence but still personally distinct. However, if Muslims were consistent with their own definition of "pure monotheism", then they would not go on to speak of Allah having 99 beautiful names and many attributes, for this is to assert a kind of pluarlity in unity that is contrary to their proferred definition.

So which is it, do Muslims believe in the "names" and "attributes" of Allah, or is Allah an undefinable blank, a mere abstraction?

Either choice spells trouble for the followers of Muhammad.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Say Not Three Gods: A Reply to Sami Zaatari And His Counterfeit Trinity

In an article found here, which the reader is encouraged to look at before continuing with this paper, Muslim apologist Sami Zaatari thinks he has demonstrated that Christians are polytheists rather than monotheists. (Presumably that means it is open season on Christians, and the wonderful blessing of Dhimmi status may be dutifully denied to Christian’s in Muslim lands).

Whatever Zaatari thinks he has shown, I must confess at the outset,....

This article has been moved to the Answering Islam website. To read the rest of it, go
here. The comments section will remain open on this blog. Do come back and leave your thoughts.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Shiloh At One Year

Since our old camera broke, it has been a while since I have provided any updated pictures of our dog as I said I would, especially for those who are interested. Well, we just got a new camera so here are some new pictures. I will try and add more as I get better ones. She is now a year old and approx 120lbs. (That is one of my daughters in the first picture, but she doesn't like me giving out any of her personal info, so I will leave it at that.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Yusuf Ali's Two Faces

I hardly think the following words of Yusuf Ali in his commentary on the Qur'an require much comment, so I will refrain except for the following: notice just how close these two notes are to each other. It is bad enough to contradict yourself, but to do it in such a close proximity is even worse.

#4581 "....But this active righting of wrongs, whether by physical or by moral or spiritual means, which are commended as better, is an antithesis to the monkish doctrine, when you are smitten on one cheek, to turn the other also. This would not suppress, but encourage wrongdoing. It is practised by none but poltroons, and is preached only by hypocrites, or men who want to make slaves or [sic, of?] others by depriving them of the power of self-defence. It occurs in two of the four canonical Gospels (Matt. 5:39, and Luke 6:29), but we need not therefore assume that it was preached by Jesus.

#4586 "It is harder to be patient and forgive, and yet to get wrongs righted, as was done by the Holy Prophet than to bluster about and "punish the guilty" or "teach them lessons". It may look like futility or lack of purpose but in reality it is the highest and noblest form of courage and resolution. And it may carry out the purpose of reform and the suppression of evil even better than stern punishment. The gentleness of innocence often "persuades where stronger measures fail." But of course circumstances alter cases, and there is some allowance also to be made for the personal equation of the men you have to deal with: in some cases severity may be called for, but it should be from a strict judicial motive, and not merely from personal anger or spite or lower motive in disguise."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Christian Apologetics: The Broad Strokes of A Biblical Defense of the Faith

[Somehow the notes to this article are missing. I will add them as the occasion presents itself. AR]

The Living God

According to the Scriptures: the Triune God, Jehovah, “ the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King (Jer. 10:10).” It was this God who created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1), and everything in them. All created reality - whether material or immaterial, animate or inanimate, personal or impersonal - all of these things, and whatever else exists, were created by His power and for His glory: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created by Him and for Him.” (Col. 1:16)

Furthermore, the Scriptures tell us that it is because of (or by) His providence that all created things are upheld and disposed, directed or governed. He upholds all things by the Word of His power and works all things after the counsel of His own will (q.v., Heb. 1: 3; Eph. 1:11).

“While the earth remaineth seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Gen. 8: 22)

“Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the LORD of hosts is his name.” (Jer. 31:35)

Of all the objects of God’s creative activity, man alone was made in His image, in true knowledge, righteousness and holiness. “In the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Gen. 1:27).” It is put this way in Psalm 139:

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mothers womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (vss. 13-16)

Likewise, of all the works of His continuing care man stands out as the special object of His providence.

“If [God] should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.” (Job 34:14)

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Mt. 10:29)

God Has Revealed Himself

Through all of these things - creation, providence and the image of God in man - God has revealed Himself. To put it another way, God has disclosed the truth of His existence through what He has done (i.e., creating the heavens and the earth), what He continues to do (i.e., upholding and governing the world day by day), and through the consciences of men who bear His likeness (which conscience accuses men when they do wrong and excuses them when they do right). In this way, God has and does reveal His eternal power, His supreme wisdom, and His righteous standards of conduct.

King David of ancient Israel poetically expressed the revelational character of the created order in the following way:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Ps. 19:1-4)

“The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory.” (Ps 97:6)

Not only is the whole of the created order full of the glory of the Lord of Hosts, as we are told in the book of Psalms (q.v., also Is. 6), but the entire course of history - God’s continuing providence, whereby, as we have seen, He upholds and governs the world - constantly bears witness to Him.

“...the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them,...did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15,17)

God, being the sovereign Lord and ruler of all, works all things after the counsel of His own will. He is the Lord of history who is everywhere present in all of His glory with all events. There is, therefore, no place where we could go to flee from His presence or the revelation He has given of Himself. God is the unavoidable atmosphere of our lives. This is what the apostle Paul declared to the philosophers of ancient Athens:

“He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:26, 28)

There is no corner of the universe that God did not create and does not uphold and govern, hence, there is no place of escape from the revelation of God.

“…God has never left Himself without a witness to men. He witnessed to them through every fact of the universe from the beginning of time. No rational creature can escape this witness. It is the witness of the triune God whose face is before men everywhere and all the time.” 1

Even if men were able to escape the whole of created reality, and all the motions of God’s providence, they would still be unable to escape the knowledge that God has given of Himself. This is so because men have within themselves (as image bearers), an ineradicable knowledge of their creator.

“There is within the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, an awareness of divinity. This we take to be beyond controversy...God Himself has implanted in all men a certain understanding of His divine majesty."2 This is why David said in Psalm 139, marveling over God’s creation of Himself, “My soul knows very well.” This knowledge has been indelibly written on the heart and consciences of all men.” (Rom 2:15)

“God made man a rational-moral creature. He will always be that. As such he is always confronted by God. He is addressed by God. He exists in the relationship of covenant interaction. He is a covenant being. To not know God man would have to destroy himself. He cannot do this. There is no non-being into which man can slip in order to escape God’s face and voice. The mountains will not cover him; Hades will not hide him. Nothing can prevent his being confronted 'with him with whom we have to do.' Whenever he sees himself, he sees himself confronted with God.”3

The totality of this self-disclosure on the part of God is so perspicuous, so persuasive, and so pervasive that it has come to and gotten through to all men. This knowledge is all around us and within us; it is declared by everything (from all the stars in the heavens to every grain of sand on the seashore), and to everyone (from the learned fool with a Ph.D. in philosophy to the unlearned wise man in the jungle). It would be no more clearly revealed or made known than if everything had “made by God” stamped on it. All men know this truth.

All Knowledge Depends Upon God and His Revelation

All of the foregoing should make it obvious that there is a grand difference between God and us. God is the creator; however, we and everything else are His creatures. God knows us altogether; if we are to know Him He must reveal Himself. God depends upon nothing and yet causes all to depend upon Him. This includes not only life and breath, but also wisdom and knowledge.

Accordingly, all knowledge depends upon the knowledge that God has given of Himself. In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, it is written that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge...(1:7).” In addition, in the New Testament we are told that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are deposited in Christ (Col. 2:3).” All knowledge depends upon the existence and revelation of God. Only in fear and submission to the God who has come to expression in the incarnation of Jesus Christ can the fruitful pursuit of knowledge take place. To repeat the words of the apostle, “In Him [God] we live and move and have our being.” He is, so to speak, the intellectual atmosphere of our lives. “He is the intellectual atmosphere that all of us breathe whenever we attempt to be rational or logical, whenever any of us attempt to make human experience intelligible.”4

Mankind Denies the Existence of God

Even as Scripture speaks of the existence of the true God, it also speaks of the universal denial of this truth on the part of unregenerate humanity (all people by nature since the fall). Men say, in an attempt to cast His cords from off them, the Triune God who speaks in Scripture does not exist. This denial, which can be called the non-Christian philosophy of life, expresses itself in various ways. It comes to expression in Atheism on the one hand, Islam on the other, and everything in between (whether they are recognized as other religions or are referred to as competing philosophies). Scripture, history and everyday experience are replete with examples of this denial. This denial is essentially a violation of the first commandment, which negatively prohibits idolatry and positively commands that men recognize and worship the true God. All denials of God are united in their attempt to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. All denials of God are a failure to recognize God as ultimate (instead of the human mind, human experience, etc.), and that we are utterly dependent on Him for all things (whether it is for truth regarding religious matters, “secular” matters, morality or salvation).

Mankind Suppresses the Knowledge of God

In mentally rejecting and verbally denying the existence of the true God, or at least denying any cognitive factual knowledge of His existence, mankind not only calls into question the truth of the above proposition - “The Triune God of Scripture lives” - but, as could be expected, they deny or call into question whether He has revealed Himself. The reason for this, according to the Scriptures, is not because God does not exist and has not revealed Himself, neither is it because His revelation is unclear. We have already seen that the Bible emphatically declares God does exist, He has revealed Himself, and His revelation is manifest to all. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness,...(Jn. 1:4).” In other words, God has lit up the world of human experience with the knowledge of Himself. The reason for the above denial is to be found in men, not in some supposed defect in God’s revelation. For even though “...the light has come into the world” and is plain to everyone, “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed (Jn. 3:19).” Men fight against this revelation, but they have not and cannot overcome it. Mankind’s love of darkness has not extinguished the light, rather, it leaves them condemned for their wicked response to God’s truth.

Mankind is Robbed of Knowledge

In spiritually suppressing and verbally rejecting this clearly revealed knowledge of God - upon which depends all knowledge whatsoever - the unbeliever unwittingly becomes a fool who is robbed of the possibility of justifying his truth claims. All philosophy which does not begin in the fear of Jehovah and is not controlled by His revelation, but rather begins in autonomous reasoning and is controlled by the basic principles (or presuppositions) of this world, are hollow and deceptive according to the Scriptures (Col. 2:8-9). This is one of the reasons why the term “fool” is consistently applied to the unregenerate man throughout the wisdom literature of the Old Testament (Ps. 14:1, 53:1; Pr. 1:7, and the phrase “vanity of vanities” is applied to his autonomous way of thinking and philosophy of life (q.v., the book of Ecclesiastes). In fact, this is why the apostle said that unbelievers “...walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart...(Eph. 4:17-18).” Simply put:

"In God’s light we are able to see light (cf. Psalm 36:9). To turn away from intellectual dependence upon the light of God, the truth about and from God, is to turn away from knowledge to the darkness of ignorance."5

Self Deception

As we have seen, Scripture says that God exists and yet men deny Him. Scripture says that God has revealed Himself and yet men reject any awareness of this revelation. Scripture says that all knowledge depends upon knowing God, and yet men claim to know many things independently of Him and the revelation He has given of Himself. Is it true, then, that men do not truly believe in God, are not aware of His revelation, and do still genuinely know many things? The answer is “yes” and “no.” The Scriptures themselves declare that men both believe in (or know) God, and that they do not believe in (or know) God; they declare that men are aware of His revelation and yet are ignorant of it; they declare that they do know things and yet do not truly know anything. How could this be? The answer: men are self-deceived. They believe one thing about God, His revelation, and knowledge and they believe another thing about themselves and their relationship to these truths. They are walking contradictions. They live in opposition, not only to God and the world He has made but to themselves as well. As the Scripture says, they “oppose themselves”. Men believe about God, in their heart of hearts, that He exists. Yet, they believe something else about themselves; namely, they believe that they do not believe in His existence. They have received His revelation and yet they suppress it in unrighteousness. They do know things to the extent that they rely on the knowledge of God that they have; they do not know things to the extent that they rely on that by which they suppress the knowledge of God. It is this concept of self-deception that is in view in Romans when the apostle Paul declares that men know God, and that they exchange the truth of God for a lie.

"According to Romans 1:18-21, unbelievers actually know God in their heart of hearts (v. 21). Indeed, that which is known of God is evident within them so that they are without excuse for their professed unbelief (vv. 19-20). Since He is not far from any of us, even pagan philosophers cannot escape knowing Him (cf. Acts 17:27-28). What unbelievers do is “suppress the truth in un-righteousness” (Rom 1:18). They are guilty of self-deception. Although in one sense they very sincerely deny knowing God or being persuaded by His revelation, they nevertheless are mistaken in this denial. In fact, they do know God, they are persuaded by His revelation of Himself, and they now are doing whatever they can to keep that truth from sight and to keep from dealing honestly with their maker and judge. Rationalization and any number of intellectual games will be enlisted to convince themselves and others that God’s revelation of Himself is not to be believed. In this way unbelievers, who genuinely know God (in condemnation), work hard - even if habitually (and in that sense unconsciously) - to deceive themselves into believing that they do not believe in God or the revealed truth about Him."6

It is this radical self deception that makes it possible for the unbeliever to know God (because He has revealed Himself), and thus know other things (since all knowledge depends on knowing Him), and yet not truly know God (because they suppress the truth in unrighteousness), and thus be ignorant of everything (since His is existence is the precondition of intelligibility). As long as the unbeliever is inconsistent with His denial of God and God’s revelation, then knowledge is possible; conversely, as long as, and to the extent that the unbeliever is consistent with his denial of God and God’s revelation, then knowledge is impossible.

Summary and Conclusion

All of the ideas that are presented above can be seen as an extended look at what the apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans. The apostle tells us:

"The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all un-godliness and un-righteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools,...Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness,...For this reason God gave them up to vile passions...And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind,..." (Rom 1:18-22, 24, 26, 29).

In this one place, the apostle Paul gathers together all the essential points that have already been sketched above. God exists and has “revealed,” “manifested,” and “shown” His “invisible attributes,” “eternal power,” and “divine nature” to men. This knowledge has gotten through to and is known by everyone; it is something that has been “clearly seen” and “understood” so as to leave everyone “without excuse.” Mankind is said to have dealt unthankfully and ungratefully with this revelation of the power and goodness of God their Creator. They are said to have “refused to retain God in their knowledge,” and to have “suppressed the truth” about Him. The result of all this is said to be that God’s wrath rests upon such wickedness and is already being executed in this life. A couple of the ways in which this is seen is in his giving them over to the depravity of their own rebellious hearts and the futility of their apostate and autonomous thinking. In rebelling against God and rejecting His revelation, men and women are under the wrath of God and have unwittingly become fools. They have destroyed themselves, not just personally but epistemically as well.

It is the task of the Christian apologist, then, to show the non-believer that his unbelieving worldview would - in principle, if held to consistently - destroy the possibility of knowing anything, even the possibility of knowing that we could not know anything. It is further our task to show that the only hope of salvation from the sinful foolishness of unbelief, a foolishness that attends every form of the non-Christian philosophy of life, rests in a change of mind towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only in the God who has come to expression in Jesus Christ can one find not only righteousness, sanctification, and redemption but wisdom as well.b

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hear, O Muslims!


A number of Muslims point to the Shema – originally found in Deuteronomy 6:4 and quoted by Jesus in the New Testament accounts of the Gospel (Mark 12:29-30; and Lk. 10:27) – as evidence for the antiquity and universality of Islam as well as for its continuity with prior revelation.[1] In the view of these Muslims, the Shema corresponds to and confirms, even as it is thought to be confirmed by, their confession of faith, the Shahada, as well as other teachings of the Qur’an that are held to explicate this confession. No doubt the motivation for this stems in part from Muhammad’s claim that the Qur’an is a confirmation of what came before it in the Torah and the Gospel (e.g. S. 3:3).

Notwithstanding the above, the Shema found in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and the Shahada which Muslims splice together from contextually unrelated verses of the Qur’an (and/or from post-Quranic traditions), stand in total contrast to one another, putting those who look to the Shema as proof for their contentions on the horns of a dilemma.

To read the rest of this article, please go to the Answering Islam website found here. After reading it in full, come back and leave your comment.