Friday, September 28, 2012

Dear Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu

I listened with great interest to your recent speech at the United Nations.  There was much of it with which I agree.  I especially liked how you referred to King David who 3000 years ago led Israel militarily to regional dominance and how you seized on the promise given to Abraham that the land would belong to his descendants forever.

I also noticed that you made no explicit mention to the name of the God of Israel.  True, the name "Netanyahu" itself contains God's name and means "a gift from God."  Yet the name of God did not proceed from your lips and you did not acknowledge the land as a gift from Him.  Why is that?

Is not the God of the patriarchs more precious than the patriarchs?  Is not the Creator of the land more precious than the land?

Yet today, Mr. Netanyahu, the nations possess the God who was formerly the God of Israel.  That is why in your speech you could refer to David as well as to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and we knew who you were talking about.   Moreover, we posses as our king, the Son of David, the seed of Abraham.

Are you not even a little jealous of this?  Right now you are like a divorced woman whose husband has left her because of her unfaithfulness.  Yet you brag of the things your husband gave you before betrayed him, as though you and we both did not know that they came from him.

Why not return to your husband?

Have you not read what Moses wrote long before David was born?

Deuteronomy 32:21
They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.

Be provoked with jealousy over the fact that Yah is our God, not yours - and we are not even a nation! The King of Israel is not Israel's King. Turn to your King, the Son of David, the Promised Seed of Abraham. And receive from Him, the promised land of heaven, of which your Mediterranean acreage is but a meager shadow.


Pseudo-Kline Retranslates the Torah

The Pentateuch actually states:

Deuteronomy 4:6-8
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

However, if one adopts a Klinean "intrusion ethic" principle and if one therefore denies that Israel's civil laws are laws that reflect the natural law given to all nations, then one might expect a very different kind of reaction than that described in the above passage. One might expect something like the following:

[Klinean] Deuteronomy 4:6-8
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your [foolishness and barbarity] in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a [eschatologically overrealized] people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments [that would be so inappropriate, if not for the intrusion of the eschaton and the consequent conflation of the two kingdoms] as all this law, which I set before you this day?

I really do think that some of Kline's spiritual successors (even those who have never read Kline himself) do think that the OT civil laws are barbaric and that it would be totally inappropriate for a country today to have similar laws.  They don't view the OT civil laws as admirable and something to be imitated.

People who think that way have, it seems, drunk too deeply of the well of Enlightenment, Modern, and Post-Modern thought.  Their concept of what constitute good laws are therefore distorted.  Their judgment is faulty.

They ought to reconsider their position and recognize that the statutes and judgments that were righteous - statutes and judgments that had (to use the Confession's expression) general equity that has continuing relevance to all nations.

Kline never re-translated Deuteronomy to fit his misunderstanding of natural law (as far as I know), but his positions seem to imply this kind of view of the Torah.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Response to R. Scott Clark's "Parody or Serious Proposal" Post

R. Scott Clark (of whom I'm fond and whose blog I was very glad to see recently restored to life) asked for clarification regarding Larry Ball's statement: "Historically, the Church has defined the parameters of the civil magistrate and guaranteed its right to redistribute income."  I don't pretend to speak for Mr. Ball, but I assume that he means simply, the churches following Scripture have held that the government may tax (cf. Deuteronomy 17:14-20) and that the government has discretion regarding how that tax is used, under a "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" (Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; and cf. Romans 13) principle.

Prof. Clark wrote: "I’m also wondering where in history the church “defined the parameters of the civil magistrate….” There wasn’t much of that going on in the first 5 centuries and there hasn’t been much of it happening since the 16th century."

I think Prof. Clark is reading "defined" as "dictated."  The churches ought to follow Scripture in defining their teachings regarding the civil magistrate.  Nevertheless, the churches have rarely been in a position to dictate to the civil magistrate.  Again, I don't speak for Mr. Ball, but I assume he meant what he wrote.


Response to Jamin Hubner's Criticism of Hendryx's Review

J. W. Hendryx posted a review of "Kingdom Through Covenant," which focused on one particular issue that Hendryx has with the "Progressive Covenantalism" described in that book.  Jamin Hubner wrote a response to Hendryx's review.

Hubner's response was way off the mark, as evidenced by the following line from his response: "Perhaps we should let these heretical Baptists who believe the New Covenant is a regenerate community speak for themselves."

I answer:

a) Hendryx's objection to Progressive Covenantalism was an objection to the rejection of the visible/invisible distinction.

b) Hendryx specifically identified those Baptists who confess the London Baptist Confession of 1689 as being distinct from the Progressive Covenantalists:
Before we define what the visible/invisible church distinction is, it is important to note that, in stark contrast with Progressive Covenantalism, Classic Covenant Theology (as expressed in the Westminster Standards) and Classic Reformed Baptist Theology (as expressed in the Baptist Confession of 1689), both affirm the visible/invisible church distinction. Drawing on the Westminster Confession, the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 chapter 26 states:
"The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that fills all in all. 1.1 Heb. 12:23; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:10,22,23, 5:23,27,32 . All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted. ( 1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 11:26; Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:20-22 ) "
 emphasis mine.
(emphasis is Hendryx's) (I would also suggest reading LBCF, Chapter 26, for additional context)

c) Hendryx did not identify Progressive Covenantalists (much less LBCFers) as "heretical" or "heretics." Quite to the contrary, in a linked document, Hendryx repeats what he wrote previously:
Gentry and Wellum are extremely intelligent, fair, well-spoken men who love the Lord and committed to the Bible and Jesus Christ. They are dear brothers in the Lord.
Hubner goes on to try to drive a wedge between Hendryx and James White, but this wedge is misplaced. Hubner should instead realize that Hendryx is criticizing the Progressive Covenantalists, while maintaining the position held by White with respect to visible/invisible distinction.

Thus, White wrote (as quoted by Jamin):
Classically, credobaptists have seen the elect filling the New Covenant (due to its nature), and hence have recognized that the visible church is a mixed body, not to be seen as fully co-extensive with it. Apostasy, then, is viewed as apostasy from a profession of faith, not from membership in the New Covenant. The visible church contains true covenant members and false: but since the New Covenant is inherently soteriological in nature, and is made in the blood of Christ Himself, its members cannot apostatize anymore than Christ can lose His sheep (Jn. 10:27-30) or fail to do the Father’s will (Jn. 6:38-39). Apostasy then is not from the New Covenant, but from false profession of faith in Christ, which may include membership in the visible church.
But KtC wrote (pp. 691-692):
As Carson rightly notes, if this biblical and theological understanding of the church is basically right, "then the ancient contrast between the church visible and the church invisible, a contrast that has nurtured not a little ecclesiology, is either fundamentally mistaken, or at best of marginal importance." Why? Because the New Testament views the church as a heavenly community (i.e., tied to the age to come and the new creation, not "in Adam" but "in Christ") and a spiritual community (i.e., born of and empowered by the Spirit in faith union with Christ), living her life out now while she awaits the consumation, literally "the outcropping of the heavenly assembly gathered in the Jerusalem that is above."
And the New Testament is clear: to be "in Christ" and thus in the new covenant, a member of his gathered people (church), means that one is a regenerate believer. The New Testament knows nothing of one who is "in Christ" who is not regenerate, effectually called of the Father, born of the Spirit, justified, holy, and awaiting glorification.
How does covenant theology respond to this analysis, since they continue to affirm the "mixed" nature of both Israel and the church? Probably the most significant response is an appeal to the warning/apostasy passages of Scripture in order to demonstrate that the visible church is a "mixed" community, just like Israel of old (see, e.g., Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-39). Do not these text demonstrate that it is possible for some people to be members of the new covenant community but then, sadly, to depart from the faith, thus demonstrating that they were never regenerate, believing people even though they were externally members of the church? We can give only a brief reply to this assertion as we note three problems with this response.
(emphasis in original)

Thus, while Dr. White affirms the mixed nature of the church and the visible/invisible distinction, KtC does not.

Of course, that does not mean that White and Hendryx agree on everything.  I think an important difference between Hendryx and White would be that Hendryx would view the visible church as the New Covenant Community, in this life, and that White views the invisible church as the New Covenant Community in this life.  Naturally, a lot more nuance would be helpful, but what is unhelpful is suggesting that Hendryx thinks that either Progressive Covenantalists or LBCFers are "heretical," when Hendryx specifically distinguishes between them.


Response to Zakir Hussain regarding Song of Solomon's

The fourth and final prophecy that Zakir Hussain used in his recent debate with Dr. White is the fact (in the linked mp3, see 24:40 - 30:40) that there is a description of a beloved one in Song of Solomon.

Mr. Hussain quotes in part, but we will quote the whole description:
Song of Solomon 5:9-16
What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us? My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
Mr. Hussain argued that (a) one of the titles for Mohammed is "beloved;" (b) that Mohammed had white skin with redness in it; (c) that Mohammed had black, wavy hair; (d) that "raven" could also be translated "Arab"; and (e) that Mohammed was the leader of 10,000 men at the taking of Mecca.

First, Mr. Hussain is treating this description as though it were intended literally, although it is part of a large piece of poetry. In context, the passage is not intended to provide a physical description of any real person. It's simply describing a person who is very beautiful in the eyes of a united monarchy Jewish woman.

Second, Mr. Hussain has selectively quoted. While he claims that the description matches Mohammed "to a T," does it really? Were his eyes like the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters washed with milk? On the contrary, his eyes were black - not blue, blue-green, or green (any of the colors of rivers of water).

Were Mohammed's cheeks like spice beds and sweet flowers? Were his lips like lilies dropping perfumed oil? Were his hands like gold rings set with beryl? Was his belly like bright ivory overlaid with sapphires and were his legs like marble pillars set upon sockets of fine gold?

What Mr. Hussein has done is simply identify a few characteristics of the person described and compare those characteristics to Mohammmed.

Third, in context there is no obvious reason to view this passage as a prophecy of someone to come. In context, the poem is either love poetry for Solomon (written from the perspective of one of his wives) or by Solomon, and this love poetry stands as metaphor, parable, or typology of the relationship between Christ and the church.

Moreover, Mr. Hussain's claim about Mohammed's title that he was "the beloved of Allah" does not really fit the text very well at all, unless Allah is being portrayed as a woman in the text (something that would be extremely surprising to any of my Muslim friends, I think).

Furthermore, "black as a raven" is definitely "black as a raven," not "black as an Arab." While the words for Arab and raven use the same Hebrew letters (though not the same vowel points), it is not true that the term here can be translated "Arab" even if we ignore the vowel points.

Likewise, "black as an Arab" would be a rather odd description of an Arab, no? It's a simile, not an identity.

Mr. Hussain further argued that the term translated "altogether lovely" is actually the word "Mohamed." And the word may actually come from a cognate root. But the text does not say, "His name is [word]" but rather "he is [word]."

Mr. Hussain continued by suggesting that the passage in question should be continued past verse 16 of chapter 5 (the last verse of that chapter) into chapter 6.

The passage at the beginning of Chapter 6 states:
Song of Solomon 6:1-3
Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee. My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.
I'm not sure of a polite way of pointing this out to Mr. Hussain, but this discussion appears to be a sort of poetic way of describing a particular kind of physical intimacy that the woman receives. Hopefully no explanation is required, assuming Mr. Hussain is married.

Furthermore, even if we took this literally, while the "bed of spices" may be literally referring to a garden of balsam (an aromatic plant), the other of the items in this garden is the lily. As Dr. White pointed out during the debate, while Mecca may be known for Balsa, it is not known for lilies. So, again, we find Mr. Hussain simply selectively quoting.

- TurretinFan

N.B. It should go without saying, but this post should not be taken as in any way a criticism of Dr. White's response during the debate. I was able to spend an unlimited amount of time preparing my response, and I am not required to fit my responses to each of Mr. Hussain's arguments into a fixed amount of time or space. In a real debate, the debaters have to prioritize based on limited preparation time and limited response time.

And the Difference Between This and Simony is ...

The German bishops are demanding that German members of the Roman Catholic Church either pay a tax or forego the sacraments, including absolution - as explained at the linked report.  Naturally, the tax goes to the German churches.

(American) Roman Catholic, Jimmy Akin, has a variety of thoughts on the matter, but his defense to the charge of simony (which he recognizes) is awefully weak.  He states: "Telling the state that you're not a Catholic just so you can get out of paying some taxes is just another form of denying the faith before Caesar."

On the other hand the report itself says: "German taxpayers can opt out of paying the religious tax by formally leaving their church through a declaration on their tax forms, though it does not require a renunciation of their faith."

But even assuming Akin is correct, surely the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize "ticking a box on a tax form" (or even swearing on a stack of Bibles) as a legitimate way of leaving membership.  Doesn't baptism allegedly leave an indelible mark?  Aren't people just "lapsed Catholics" if they deny Rome?  And isn't absolution in confession the ordinary way to restore them?

If so, they ought to be able to receive absolution through confession and penance, not payment.  Whether ticking the box on the tax form is a mortal sin is a red herring. What the German bishops are doing is, in essence, putting a price on the sacraments.  It's this kind of nonsense that led an Augustinian monk named Luther to spark a Reformation in Germany in the 1500's.

Perhaps it will be God's good pleasure to use this situation as a fresh spark to rekindle the Reformation in Germany.


P.S. Mr. Akin notes that the tens of thousands of people who have taken advantage of the tax form option are less than 1% of the German Roman Catholics.  He suggested that this means that the RCC is losing less than 1% of her income from the taxes.  That assumes that the people who take advantage of this are randomly selected.  One suspects that those with higher incomes are more likely to be looking for ways to reduce their taxes than those with smaller incomes.  Moreover, in a progressively taxed society like Germany, a large amount of the tax revenue comes from a relatively small amount of people.  So, the numbers may be considerably more dramatic than Mr. Akin suggests.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pilgrimage Profiteers

I have previously criticized one Roman apologist for being a pilgrimage profiteer.  I did not, at that time, realize just how big the pilgrimage market is.  It's a multi-billion dollar industry, according to the linked article.  This only further sickens me, particularly given that many of the victims of pilgrimage profiteers are elderly people with limited assets and fixed incomes.


Jesus - The Prophet Like Moses - Response to Zakir Hussain

The third prophecy that Zakir Hussain used in his recent debate with Dr. White is the fact (in the linked mp3, see 13:19 - 24:40) that God promised to give another prophet like Moses. This was indeed a prophecy given first to Moses:
Deuteronomy 18:15 
The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
Deuteronomy 18:18
I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
However, the Scriptures confirm that this prophecy was fulfilled by Christ:
Acts 3:19-24
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.
And again:
Acts 7:37 & 52This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. ... Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
Thus, twice the New Testament confirms that Jesus is the one who was prophesied in this prophecy. Moreover, Acts is recording the words of the Apostle Peter and Proto-Deacon Stephen, the first martyr.

Moreover, "from the midst of thee, of thy brethren" and "from among their brethren" in context clearly means that the prophet will be an Israelite. Mohammed was not Jewish, therefore, the prophet like Moses could not possibly be Mohammed.

That meaning is confirmed by the usage in Deuteronomy 17:
Deuteronomy 17:15
Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
Furthermore, contrary to Mr. Hussain's suggestion that "put my words in his mouth" could not refer to the Son of God, Jesus himself claimed to speak what he received:
John 8:26
I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
John 8:28
Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
John 8:38
I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
John 12:50
And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
John 14:10
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
Moreover, this casts no doubt on Jesus' divinity, for the Spirit likewise is described as follows:
John 16:13
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Zakir specifically argued that Deuteronomy 34:10 states that there can be no prophet amongst the Israelites like Moses. In context, that passage states:
Deuteronomy 34:9-12
And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses. And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.
First, my inclination is to agree with the traditional view that these are the words of Moses, prophesying about what would come after him. Alternatively, these may be the words of a completer (such as Joshua), who completed the second giving of the law after Moses' death. I would not ascribe the extremely late date that some modern scholarship has ascribed to the book.

Second, I would see the "arose not" as a use of the prophetic past tense. Namely, it is describing something future as past, because it is certain to occur.

Third, I would note that there is a question of the time frame involved. In context, the discussion is about conquest of Canaan under Joshua. In that time, there was no prophet in Israel comparable to Moses, in the various ways that are mentioned. No one whose face glowed with the visible presence of God, or who brought plagues like the plagues of Egypt.

Fourth, indeed, while there were mighty prophets before the coming of Jesus, none had that face-to-face experience or brought plagues like those brought in Egypt.

Fifth, we could grant that Jesus also did not bring plagues like Moses and did not visibly glow with the presence of God [Fn1]. Yet, in other ways, he could still be like Moses. In other words, a prophet can be like Moses, as to Deuteronomy 18 and yet be unlike Moses as to Deuteronomy 34.

Sixth, Mohammed was not like Moses in terms of speaking to God face to face or in terms of working signs like the ten plagues. We all know that Mohammed claimed to receive revelation from Allah through an angel named Gabriel, not face-to-face.

The alleged miracles of Mohammed include Koran-attested things like splitting and repairing the moon (Surah 54:1-3) and flying by night to Jerusalem (Surah 17:1). Other Hadith-attested things include the weeping stump and endless water from an ablution vessel. But none (to my knowledge) of the alleged miracles of Mohammed, whether attested by the Koran or Ahadith, include any nation-destroying miracles like those wrote by Moses in Egypt.

Thus, even if Deuteronomy 34 could be used to prove that the Deuteronomy 18 prophet had to be a non-Israelite, it would still not prove that the prophet was Mohammed. On the contrary, it would contradict such a view.

Zakir also argued that in John 16, Jesus denied teaching his apostles everything he had received, but left that for someone else. The passage states:
John 16:12-15
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Does Zakir think that all the things that belong to God belong to Jesus and that Mohammed received Jesus' things to shew people? Specifically, does Zakir think that God is Jesus' Father? That would seem to contradict one of the fundamental tenets of Islam, that God does not beget.

However, to directly answer the point, the Deuteronomy text says that Jesus will say what God commands, not absolutely everything he knows. Moreover, it does not say how Jesus will reveal all in Deuteronomy, and Deuteronomy does not rule out the use of the Spirit. Furthermore, Jesus' revelation continued after his ascent in the work of Paul (who saw Jesus after his ascent) and through John (as recorded at great length in the book of Revelation).

Mr. Hussain argued that 1 Maccabees reflects an expectation of a prophet that would solve legal problems. It is not clear whether Mr. Hussain realizes that the book 1 Maccabees is not a book within the Hebrew or Christian canon, nor whether he realizes that it comes from the inter-testamental period - the time prior to Jesus.

In any event, it seems that the passage he must be thinking of is this one:
1 Maccabees 4:38-48
And when they saw the sanctuary desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burned up, and shrubs growing in the courts as in a forest, or in one of the mountains, yea, and the priests' chambers pulled down; they rent their clothes, and made great lamentation, and cast ashes upon their heads, and fell down flat to the ground upon their faces, and blew an alarm with the trumpets, and cried toward heaven.
Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place.
And when as they consulted what to do with the altar of burnt offerings, which was profaned; they thought it best to pull it down, lest it should be a reproach to them, because the heathen had defiled it: wherefore they pulled it down, and laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them.
Then they took whole stones according to the law, and built a new altar according to the former; and made up the sanctuary, and the things that were within the temple, and hallowed the courts.
It is also not clear whether Mr. Hussain is aware that this passage is not necessarily reflecting an expectation of any particular prophet, but of a prophet in general. At that time, during the intertestamental period, the people of Israel lacked any prophet (which is one reason that the book of Maccabees cannot be Scripture). 1 Maccabees itself records their plight:
1 Maccabees 9:25-31
Then Bacchides chose the wicked men, and made them lords of the country. And they made enquiry and search for Judas' friends, and brought them unto Bacchides, who took vengeance of them, and used them despitefully.
So was there a great affliction in Israel, the like whereof was not since the time that a prophet was not seen among them.
For this cause all Judas' friends came together, and said unto Jonathan, "Since thy brother Judas died, we have no man like him to go forth against our enemies, and Bacchides, and against them of our nation that are adversaries to us. Now therefore we have chosen thee this day to be our prince and captain in his stead, that thou mayest fight our battles." Upon this Jonathan took the governance upon him at that time, and rose up instead of his brother Judas.
A similar comment on the absence of any prophet is found later in the book:
1 Maccabees 14:35-47
The people therefore sang the acts of Simon, and unto what glory he thought to bring his nation, made him their governor and chief priest, because he had done all these things, and for the justice and faith which he kept to his nation, and for that he sought by all means to exalt his people. For in his time things prospered in his hands, so that the heathen were taken out of their country, and they also that were in the city of David in Jerusalem, who had made themselves a tower, out of which they issued, and polluted all about the sanctuary, and did much hurt in the holy place: but he placed Jews therein. and fortified it for the safety of the country and the city, and raised up the walls of Jerusalem.
King Demetrius also confirmed him in the high priesthood according to those things, and made him one of his friends, and honoured him with great honour. For he had heard say, that the Romans had called the Jews their friends and confederates and brethren; and that they had entertained the ambassadors of Simon honourably; also that the Jews and priests were well pleased that Simon should be their governor and high priest for ever, until there should arise a faithful prophet; moreover that he should be their captain, and should take charge of the sanctuary, to set them over their works, and over the country, and over the armour, and over the fortresses, that, I say, he should take charge of the sanctuary; beside this, that he should be obeyed of every man, and that all the writings in the country should be made in his name, and that he should be clothed in purple, and wear gold: also that it should be lawful for none of the people or priests to break any of these things, or to gainsay his words, or to gather an assembly in the country without him, or to be clothed in purple, or wear a buckle of gold; and whosoever should do otherwise, or break any of these things, he should be punished. Thus it liked all the people to deal with Simon, and to do as hath been said.
Then Simon accepted hereof, and was well pleased to be high priest, and captain and governor of the Jews and priests, and to defend them all.
Mr. Hussain goes on to argue that the Jews had an expectation of "that prophet" as distinct from the Messiah. That may well be the case. Surely you remember the dialog at the beginning of John's gospel between the John the Baptist and the Jewish leaders:
John 1:19-27
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who art thou?"
And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, "I am not the Christ."
And they asked him, "What then? Art thou Elias?"
And he saith, "I am not."
"Art thou that prophet?"
And he answered, "No."
Then said they unto him, "Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?"
He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as said the prophet Esaias."
And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, "Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?"
John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; he it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose."
So, we can readily concede that the Jewish leaders may well have been imagining three different men to fulfill the prophecies, rather than a single man. But their expectations are not our guide. Our guide is the self-revelation of Jesus Christ.

Recall that the passage that prophesied the coming of Elijah the prophet was this:
Micah 4:4-6
Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Whether known to John the Baptist or not, an angel had prophesied regarding his ministry, as follows:
Luke 1:17
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
So, while John the Baptist was not Elias, he was like Elias.  He was (at least) a preliminary fulfillment of the prophecy.  And indeed Elias himself came to testify of Jesus:
Luke 9:28-36
And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.
It is easy to forget that testimony of Moses and Elias to Jesus, because the very voice of God from heaven calling Jesus his beloved Son is so much more important. Nevertheless, Elias did come at that time.  Some have suggested that Elias may be one of the two witnesses prophesied in the Revelation of Jesus Christ:
Revelation 11:3-12
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
- TurretinFan

[Fn1] Jesus' face did not glow with the reflected presence of God's glory. That said, in the mount of transfiguration, Jesus' countenance was changed and as explained in the Matthew account of the transfiguration:
Matthew 17:1-2
And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
But that shining was a demonstration of Jesus' own divinity.  It was not merely a reflected shining.  Moses' face shone with the reflected glory, but Jesus shown with the glory that he had with the Father.
John 17:5
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
Notice also that unlike Moses, whose face shone, in the case of Jesus, his clothes were also shining white.  This is not the kind of glory that could be hidden by a veil, like Moses' reflected glory.

2 Corinthians 3:13-16
And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: but their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
Exodus 34:28-35
And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai. And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
Hopefully this clarifies what I meant above.

N.B. It should go without saying, but this post should not be taken as in any way a criticism of Dr. White's response during the debate. I was able to spend an unlimited amount of time preparing my response, and I am not required to fit my responses to each of Mr. Hussain's arguments into a fixed amount of time or space. In a real debate, the debaters have to prioritize based on limited preparation time and limited response time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Responding to Zakir Hussain's "Land of Canaan" Argument

The second prophecy that Zakir Hussain used in his recent debate with Dr. White is the fact (in the linked mp3, see 12:40 - 13:19) that God promised to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. This was indeed a prophecy given first to Abraham (then called Abram):

Genesis 15:18-21
In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Mr. Hussain argued that for the past 1000 years this land has been held by Muslims. First of all, this assertion is faulty. The crusaders established the kingdom of Jerusalem in 1099 and held land in the area for roughly 200 years. Moreover, at the present day there is a Jewish nation in the region.

More importantly, though, it was the Israelites under Joshua's leadership that drove out the peoples of the land.

Joshua 24:11
And you went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.

The expansion of Israel increased from the time of Joshua to that of David/Solomon. Thus, we read:

1 Kings 9:20-21
And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel, their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day.

1 Chronicles 18:3
And David smote Hadarezer king of Zobah unto Hamath, as he went to stablish his dominion by the river Euphrates.

2 Chronicles 7:8
Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt.

Of course, subsequently the area was controlled by others. For example:

2 Kings 24:6-7
So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead. And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.

And we may mention the fact that after the Babylonian, Chalean, and Persian empires both the Greek and Roman empires conquered the area. So the fact that Islamic forces likewise overran the area for a time (even for a long time) does not have particular significance.

It lacks particular significance because the boundaries of Euphrates to the Nile was never the boundary of any of the Islamic empire(s). Those empires that included that region (such as the Ottoman Empire) always included additional land on the other side of the Nile or on the other side of the Euphrates or both, like all the other empires that subsequently controlled the whole region.

It also lacks particular significance because it was the Israelites who actually drove out the Canaanite nations and took their land from them. Thus, the prophecy was in the immediate sense, clearly fulfilled in Israel, particularly in the height of the kingdom under David/Solomon.

Thus, there is no reason to apply this prophecy to Mohammed, whose successors conquered the area.

- TurretinFan

N.B. It should go without saying, but this post should not be taken as in any way a criticism of Dr. White's response during the debate. I was able to spend an unlimited amount of time preparing my response, and I am not required to fit my responses to each of Mr. Hussain's arguments into a fixed amount of time or space. In a real debate, the debaters have to prioritize based on limited preparation time and limited response time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Responding to Zakir Hussain's "Great Nation" Argument

The first prophecy that Zakir Hussain used in his recent debate with Dr. White is the fact (in the linked mp3, see 8:50 - 12:40) that God promised to make Ishmael into a great nation. This was indeed a prophecy given first to Abraham:
Genesis 17:20
And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
And later to Hagar:
Genesis 21:18
Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
Zakir argued that what makes a nation great is monotheism or specifically worshiping the one true God, and that consequently the Arabian conversion to Islam is the fulfillment of this prophecy, since prior to that time the Arabs were mostly polytheists. He seemed to appeal to this passage as though it defines greatness as he has argued:
Deuteronomy 4:6-8
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
But that passage is not defining what makes a nation great, it was what makes a great nation wise. It is comparing Israel to the great nations.

In the Scriptures, the term "great nation" refers to any large, populous, and/or mighty nation. For example:
Deuteronomy 4:38
To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.
Deuteronomy 7:1
When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
Deuteronomy 9:1
Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,
Deuteronomy 11:23
Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.
Joshua 23:9
For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.
Psalm 135:10
Who smote great nations, and slew mighty kings;
Jeremiah 50:9
For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.
In short, it is not necessary for the prophecy that the nation be a monotheist or YHWH-worshiping in order to be considered "great." That is because while in English these days the term "great" can mean "wonderful," the primary significance of the Hebrew word it is translating is one of large size, power, or importance (which used to be the primary meaning of the English word, "great," as well). A great nation is not necessarily one that is morally praiseworthy.

All this argues against the major premise of Mr. Hussain's argument. The minor argument is also in dispute, since Islam does not worship YHWH, nor does it have laws that are as righteous as those of Old Testament Israel. However, even if we assumed that the minor premise were correct, the major premise fails as discussed above. Accordingly, in this post I haven't provided a detailed argument about the minor premise.

Thus, as to the first prophecy, we have no reason to see Mohammed prophesied particularly in the Old Testament. The Ishmaelites were a great nation before Mohammed was born. For example, the Ishmaelites included the Midianites:
Judges 8:22-24
Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you. And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
Moreover, the prophecy regarding Ishmael was fulfilled in his own lifetime:
Genesis 25:12-18
Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham: and these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: these are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.
So, we know exactly who the twelve princes were, by name. Thus, there is no need to look for Mohammed as a fulfillment of this prophecy. There is a minor premise that is also in question, namely the question of whether the Arabians are actually the descendants of Ishmael. While I don't have any particular reason to doubt their claim, I'm unaware of any genealogy that actually demonstrates the connection.

- TurretinFan

N.B. It should go without saying, but this post should not be taken as in any way a criticism of Dr. White's response during the debate. I was able to spend an unlimited amount of time preparing my response, and I am not required to fit my responses to each of Mr. Hussain's arguments into a fixed amount of time or space. In a real debate, the debaters have to prioritize based on limited preparation time and limited response time.