Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Questions Steve Ray Thinks "Bible Chrisians" Can't Answer - Answered

Steve Ray seems to think that there are questions that we Bible Christians cannot answer. (Link to his post)

Not only can we answer them, we have answered them. For the most part, they are a bunch of loaded questions that are actually not that hard to unload and answer. The answers I provided below may not even be the only or best answers. Nevertheless, so as to bring to Mr. Ray's attention the answers that were provided over a year ago, the following provides an easy index of the responses.

Just click on the question for the answer. 
  1. "Where did Jesus give instructions that the Christian faith should be based exclusively on a book?" 
  2. "Other than the specific command to John to pen the Revelation, where did Jesus tell His apostles to write anything down and compile it into an authoritative book?" 
  3. "Where in the New Testament do the apostles tell future generations that the Christian faith will be based solely on a book?" 
  4. "some Protestants claim that Jesus condemned all oral tradition (e.g., Matt 15:3, 6; Mark 7:813). If so, why does He bind His listeners to oral tradition by telling them to obey the scribes and Pharisees when they “sit on Moses’ seat” (Matt 23:2)?" 
  5. "Some Protestants claim that St. Paul condemned all oral tradition (Col 2:8). If so, why does he tell the Thessalonians to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thes 2:15) and praises the Corinthians because they “hold firmly to the traditions” (1 Cor 11:2)? (And why does the Protestant NIV change the word “tradition” to “teaching”?)" 
  6. "If the authors of the New Testament believed in sola Scriptura, why did they sometimes draw on oral Tradition as authoritative and as God’s Word (Matt 2:23; 23:2; 1 Cor 10:4; 1 Pet 3:19; Jude 9, 14 15)?" 
  7. "Where in the Bible is God’s Word restricted only to what is written down?" 
  8. "How do we know who wrote the books that we call Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Hebrews, and 1, 2, and 3 John?" 
  9. "On what authority, or on what principle, would we accept as Scripture books that we know were not written by one of the twelve apostles?" 
  10. "Where in the Bible do we find an inspired and infallible list of books that should belong in the Bible? (e.g., Is the Bible’s Table of Contents inspired?)" 
  11. "How do we know, from the Bible alone, that the individual books of the New Testament are inspired, even when they make no claim to be inspired?" 
  12. "How do we know, from the Bible alone, that the letters of St. Paul, who wrote to first-century congregations and individuals, are meant to be read by us as Scripture 2000 years later?" 
  13. "Where does the Bible claim to be the sole authority for Christians in matters of faith and morals?" 
  14. "Most of the books of the New Testament were written to address very specific problems in the early Church, and none of them are a systematic presentation of Christian faith and theology. On what biblical basis do Protestants think that everything that the apostles taught is captured in the New Testament writings?" 
  15. "If the books of the New Testament are “self-authenticating” through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to each individual, then why was there confusion in the early Church over which books were inspired, with some books being rejected by the majority?" 
  16. "If the meaning of the Bible is so clear—so easily interpreted—and if the Holy Spirit leads every Christian to interpret it for themselves, then why are there over 33,000 Protestant denominations, and millions of individual Protestants, all interpreting the Bible differently?" 
  17. "Who may authoritatively arbitrate between Christians who claim to be led by the Holy Spirit into mutually contradictory interpretations of the Bible?" 
  18. "Since each Protestant must admit that his or her interpretation is fallible, how can any Protestant in good conscience call anything heresy or bind another Christian to a particular belief?" 
  19. "Protestants usually claim that they all agree “on the important things.” Who is able to decide authoritatively what is important in the Christian faith and what is not?" 
  20. "How did the early Church evangelize and overthrow the Roman Empire, survive and prosper almost 350 years, without knowing for sure which books belong in the canon of Scripture?" 
  21. "Who in the Church had the authority to determine which books belonged in the New Testament canon and to make this decision binding on all Christians? If nobody has this authority, then can I remove or add books to the canon on my own authority?" 
  22. "Why do Protestant scholars recognize the early Church councils at Hippo and Carthage as the first instances in which the New Testament canon was officially ratified, but ignore the fact that those same councils ratified the Old Testament canon used by the Catholic Church today but abandoned by Protestants at the Reformation?" 
  23. "Why do Protestants follow postapostolic Jewish decisions on the boundaries of the Old Testament canon, rather than the decision of the Church founded by Jesus Christ?" 
  24. "How were the bishops at Hippo and Carthage able to determine the correct canon of Scripture, in spite of the fact that they believed all the distinctively Catholic doctrines such as the apostolic succession of bishops, the sacrifice of the Mass, Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, baptismal regeneration, etc?" 
  25. "If Christianity is a “book religion,” how did it flourish during the first 1500 years of Church history when the vast majority of people were illiterate?" 
  26. "How could the Apostle Thomas establish the church in India that survives to this day (and is now in communion with the Catholic Church) without leaving them with one word of New Testament Scripture?" 
  27. "If sola Scriptura is so solid and biblically based, why has there never been a full treatise written in its defense since the phrase was coined in the Reformation?" 
  28. "If Jesus intended for Christianity to be exclusively a “religion of the book,” why did He wait 1400 years before showing somebody how to build a printing press?" 
  29. "If the early Church believed in sola Scriptura, why do the creeds of the early Church always say “we believe in the Holy Catholic Church,” and not “we believe in Holy Scripture”?" 
  30. "If the Bible is as clear as Martin Luther claimed, why was he the first one to interpret it the way he did and why was he frustrated at the end of his life that “there are now as many doctrines as there are heads”?" 
  31. "The time interval between the Resurrection and the establishment of the New Testament canon in AD 382 is roughly the same as the interval between the arrival of the Mayflower in America and the present day. Therefore, since the early Christians had no defined New Testament for almost four hundred years, how did they practice sola Scriptura?" 
  32. "If the Bible is the only foundation and basis of Christian truth, why does the Bible itself say that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim. 3:15)?" 
  33. "Jesus said that the unity of Christians would be objective evidence to the world that He had been sent by God (John 17:20-23). How can the world see an invisible "unity" that exists only in the hearts of believers?" 
  34. "If the unity of Christians was meant to convince the world that Jesus was sent by God, what does the ever-increasing fragmentation of Protestantism say to the world?" 
  35. "Hebrews 13:17 says, "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." What is the expiration date of this verse? When did it become okay not only to disobey the Church's leaders, but to rebel against them and set up rival churches?" 
  36. "The Koran explicitly claims divine inspiration, but the New Testament books do not. How do you know that the New Testament books are nevertheless inspired, but the Koran is not?" 
  37. "How does a Protestant know for sure what God thinks about moral issues such as abortion, masturbation, contraceptives, eugenics, euthanasia, etc.?" 
  38. "What is one to believe when one Protestant says infants should be baptized (e.g., Luther and Calvin) and another says it is wrong and unbiblical (e.g., Baptists and Evangelicals)?" 
  39. "Where does the Bible say God created the world/universe out of nothing?" 
  40. "Where does the Bible say salvation is attainable through faith alone?" 
  41. "Where does the Bible tell us how we know that the revelation of Jesus Christ ended with the death of the last Apostle?" 
  42. "Where does the Bible provide a list of the canonical books of the Old Testament?" 
  43. "Where does the Bible provide a list of the canonical books of the New Testament?" 
  44. "Where does the Bible explain the doctrine of the Trinity, or even use the word “Trinity”?" 
  45. "Where does the Bible tell us the name of the “beloved disciple”?" 
  46. "Where does the Bible inform us of the names of the authors of the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John?" 
  47. "Where does the Bible [tell us] who wrote the Book of Acts?" 
  48. "Where does the Bible tell us the Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons of the Trinity?" 
  49. "Where does the Bible tell us Jesus Christ was both fully God and fully man from the moment of conception (e.g. how do we know His Divinity wasn't infused later in His life?) and/or tells us Jesus Christ is One Person with two complete natures, human and Divine and not some other combination of the two natures (i.e., one or both being less than complete)?" 
  50. "Where does the Bible that the church should, or someday would be divided into competing and disagreeing denominations?" 
  51. "Where does the Bible that Protestants can have an invisible unity when Jesus expected a visible unity to be seen by the world (see John 17)?" 
  52. "Where does the Bible tell us Jesus Christ is of the same substance of Divinity as God the Father?" 



TurretinFan's Criticism "May Be True" Per Hubner

Jamin Hubner has posted a response to my post that criticized his unsound argument

His post is something of a goulash of various points, from which I've extracted the parts seemingly related to my post.

He writes:
The last few posts on this blog have generated a flurry of responses. But unfortunately, very little is directed at the central concerns I have raised. Virtually none are written out of an interest in seeking the truth with love, nor from an understanding of what I myself even believe regarding Middle-Eastern conflict (Israel, Palestinians, etc.) as a whole, nor from a perspective that is even close to what a common man would say is “fair” or “balanced.” Middle-Eastern history can be a complex subject and I have much to learn. But it is unfortunate that in attempts to publicly untangle even small portions of history and draw a handful of conclusions, some usually fair-minded readers are hasty to generalize in ways that I think are very misleading (blog titles of “Supporting Arabs,” and such statements as “Hubner…is just a dupe for jihadists,” etc.), or just hasty to criticize in general.

That’s why I left a short annotated bibliography in the last post – so that if you’re truly interested in the truth, and not in the latest blogosphere drama, you can read some good books and draw your own conclusions. I don’t live on the internet folks. I hardly have time to read, let alone respond to those who critique my work. And this blog is but a small part of this ministry. That’s something to keep in mind as I make the following observations.
For one reason or another, Turretinfan (an able mind on Roman Catholicism and Reformed scholasticism) joined the discussion and believes I am making unsound arguments “supporting Arabs.” Of course, the title itself is loaded (“Supporting the Arabs with unsound arguments”). In principle, I do not support “Arabs” today or yesterday any more or any less than “Asians,” “Africans,” or “Germans.” I support whatever party is in the right/not in the wrong in any given context, and condemn the party that is in the wrong in any given context, regardless of ethnicity (shouldn’t we all?). Even, so, I don’t see my material “supporting Arabs” inasmuch as it tries to do history with more balance than the average Zionist/pro-Israel Christian. Turretin says that the McMahon correspondence didn’t actually promise the Arabs a state. This may be true, depending on what is meant by “assist them to establish what may appear to be the most suitable forms of government in those various territories,” and what is being asserted by the British in general during this period. Perhaps the Commissioner never intended to promise an Arab state, and Sykes (British diplomatic advisor) in the Sykes-Picot agreement (which undoubtedly did promote an Arab state) wasn’t really in step with the opinion of British Commissioner McMahon. Turretin can make that argument and it would lead to some interesting conclusions, though I’m presently not persuaded that the assertions in/behind the two documents are that different. Turretin says I am “blissfully unaware” of “the perceived English need to have the Arabs fight the Turks during World War I.” That’s odd, because Tur just quoted me a few paragraphs earlier where I said, “This promise was given in hopes of gaining Arab support for the British war efforts against Turkey.” Not sure if Tur was just sleeping at the wheel on that one, or misunderstood me, or what.

Time does not allow for a further response. I’d like to finish my response to Feldman but I fear that in this environment, it honestly wouldn’t be helpful to many (send me an email if you wish). And given how much energy has been invested in the blogosphere to not merely criticizing my material, but trying to cast a shadow on my integrity, character, etc., let it simply be said that if you have any serious doubts about my character, please, stop guessing and do the obvious: call my pastor, my parents, my siblings and cousins, my employer, my landlord, my current and former professors, my friends; go to RealApologetics.org and listen to my public lectures, debates, podcasts, and sermons; read my published books and essays; watch the youtube videos…and after all that, read my public profile, my blog, my google+ updates and then draw your own conclusions. I might be a Calvinist and I might believe the state of Israel has no religious significance today. But I can assure you, I don’t hate or favor any particular ethnicity over others, I don’t desire the destruction of present day Israel, and I don’t eat babies or Dispensationalists for breakfast. Go serve God and love your neighbor.
As to the actual issue I raised in my response, namely that Hubner's salesmanship of the evidence "promised that the Arabs would have their own state in Palestine" and "promised the Arabs an independent stable state – presumably the land/or within the land of Palestine," does not match the facts, Hubner's central response seems to be:

1. This may be true.
2. It depends on what a particular expression means.
3. Maybe Sykes was not in step with McMahon.
4. I (TurretinFan) "can make that argument and it would lead to some interesting conclusions.
5. He is not persuaded that the assertions "in/behind the two documents are that different."

I don't see how any of this is supposed to serve as a rebuttal to the argument that I did already make in my post. His response appears to amount to saying that maybe I'm right, but he's not convinced. This hardly seems blog-worthy. There's no counter-argument that he's offered that I need to refute.  My original post stands.

As to the remainder of his post, what value is it?  He impugns his critics' motives and character and waxes on and on about himself.  Many of his accusations are vague, but I'll address one of the trifling points he raises that seems clearly directed at me:
... some usually fair-minded readers are hasty to generalize in ways that I think are very misleading (blog titles of “Supporting Arabs,” ...
Of course, the title itself is loaded (“Supporting the Arabs with unsound arguments”). In principle, I do not support “Arabs” today or yesterday any more or any less than “Asians,” “Africans,” or “Germans.” I support whatever party is in the right/not in the wrong in any given context, and condemn the party that is in the wrong in any given context, regardless of ethnicity (shouldn’t we all?). Even, so, I don’t see my material “supporting Arabs” inasmuch as it tries to do history with more balance than the average Zionist/pro-Israel Christian.
The only one generalizing here is Hubner.  The arguments I addressed were those supportive of the Arabs and their claim that Britain promised them a Palestinian state.  That title does not indicate Hubner supports Arabs in general or that he supports them more or less than Asians, Africans, or Germans.  It doesn't indicate that he has ethnic prejudice.  Finally, won't a balanced treatment sometimes support one side and sometimes another?  If so, then there is no conflict between the title of the post and Jamin's claim to balance.  After all the title of my post didn't say that Hubner always supports the Arab position against the Jewish people.

In short, Hubner's complaint over the title of the post was unfounded and guilty of the very thing he accused me of - generalization.  I note that Hubner indicated that he hardly has time to read those who critique his work and that "Time does not allow for a further response."  Perhaps if he squandered less of it attacking the motives and character of his critics, he'd have more time for considering the arguments and revising his position.