Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Response to Rachel Slick

By way of disclaimer, I happen to be a blogger on the team at CARM.  I didn't mention this post to Matt Slick, nor does it represent his position or the position of CARM (well, it may, if they happen to agree).

I won't address everything that Miss Slick said.  It is very sad to see a beautiful young woman departing from the faith, regardless of the reasons, because it means that she is giving up the world to come for the empty and fleeting pleasures of this world - demonstrating a lack of lasting spiritual beauty beneath the veneer, which will soon fade.

Let me address one point she made.  She stated:

This changed one day during a conversation with my friend Alex. I had a habit of bouncing theological questions off him, and one particular day, I asked him this: If God was absolutely moral, because morality was absolute, and if the nature of “right” and “wrong” surpassed space, time, and existence, and if it was as much a fundamental property of reality as math, then why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?
Alex had no answer — and I realized I didn’t either. 
The answer to the question is that some things are wrong because they contradict the nature of God, and some things are wrong simply because God has commanded otherwise.  An obvious example is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - one tree in the garden.  Is eating fruit something in itself evil?  No.  Rather, it was evil because God had forbidden Adam to eat of the fruit of the tree.

The same kinds of things apply to, for example, the ceremonial law.  Eating bacon-wrapped shrimp was not wrong absolutely, but only because God had commanded the Israelites to abstain from such food.

It's the classic distinction between things "malum in se" (evil in themselves - like murder or theft) or "malum prohibitum" (evil because prohibited - like driving after curfew).  I'm very surprised that neither Rachel nor Alex had that answer.

Moreover, this distinction should be obvious from the law itself.  To disobey God (in general) is clearly a contradiction of the nature of God.  Thus, it is also wrong to disobey particular commands of God, even if those commands have an only temporary purpose.  To make the matter easier to follow, consider the case of the command that we obey our parents.  This command may have its root in the nature of God, but the particular commands of our parents may not.  There is no eternal "eat your spaghetti" aspect of God's character, yet it is sinful for a child to disobey his parents' command to eat his spaghetti, because he is not obeying his parents.

I don't believe that this particular issue is really the reason that Rachel abandoned God's law.  Still, I would like to take this opportunity to help her see that her abandonment of God's law was irrational.  Perhaps God will use this to draw her back to the faith - or to the faith for the first time, if she never believed.


A Traditionalist Response to John Stott's (and others') Arguments for Annihilationism

The title of this blog post refers to an interesting article by Robert A. Peterson, who was (and I believe still is) professor of systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary.  (Here is a link to the article.)

The arguments answered include the following:
1. The "Vocabulary of Destruction" Argument
2. The Hell-Fire Imagery Argument
3. The Justice of God Argument
4. The "Universalist Passages" Argument
5. The Conditional Immortality Argument
One serious question I would have for my friends and acquaintances who hold to, are sympathetic to, or are considering the annihilationist position: does this exhaust the major divisions of the annihilationist arsenal?  I'm not asking whether you find Peterson's responses to be comprehensive and compelling, although I personally found many of them useful.  Rather, I'm asking whether he has identified the major points of dispute.  Is there some other major argument area that needs to be addressed?


Our Lord, YHWH, Our Lord, Jesus - Response to Sir Anthony

Sir Anthony Buzzard's "Second Response to James White" has lots of flaws. Several of those are involved in his argument from the phrase "our Lord Jesus Christ." He argues that this proves Jesus is not being referred to as Lord YHWH but as Lord Messiah. His main argument in support of this is that "our YHWH" is "a linguistic impossibility" or "an impossibility in language." He argues that when we see "our Lord" it is referring to the "Lord Messiah."

Sir Anthony seems to have overlooked an important counter-example:
Revelation 11:15
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ (τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ,); and he shall reign for ever and ever.
That's the one instance in the New Testament where "our Lord" might not be referring to Jesus.

Moreover, recall that this expression refers to the reversal of the former situation:
Acts 4:26
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ (κατὰ τοῦ κυρίου καὶ κατὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ).
Quoting from:
Psalm 2:2
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed (עַל־יְ֝הוָה וְעַל־מְשִׁיחֹֽו)(LXX: κατὰ τοῦ κυρίου καὶ κατὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ), saying,
Notice that Psalm 2:2 does use YHWH there.  It gets translated into Greek as Kurion (Lord) and then presented as "our Lord" in Revelation.

Likewise, the "he shall reign for ever and ever" is a reference back to the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets:
Exodus 15:18
The Lord (YHWH) shall reign for ever and ever.

Psalm 146:10
The Lord (YHWH) shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord (YHWH).

Micah 4:7
And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord (YHWH) shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.

Luke 1:33
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
So, if Sir Anthony wants to say that "our Lord" in Revelation 11:15 refers to the Son rather than to the Father, he is still stuck with the verse referring us back to prophecies about Jesus, prophecies that describe Jesus as YHWH.

While Sir Anthony may be correct in saying that we do not find "our YHWH" in the Old Testament, we do find examples where "our Lord" is used in reference to YHWH:
Nehemiah 8:10
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehemiah 10:29
They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;

Psalm 8:1
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Psalm 8:9
O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Psalm 135:5
For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.

Psalm 147:5
Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
In other words, if Sir Anthony is making the trivial point that one would say "Our Adonai" not "Our YWHW" and thus "Our Lord" in the NT should be understood as corresponding to "Our Adonai," then who cares? It is still an important title of God, but in the New Testament is primarily applied to Jesus.

Ultimately, I realize that some Unitarians will simply assert that Jesus is very exalted, that he reigns with God, or the like.  There are a number of significant challenges to those kinds of assertions, but perhaps one of the most troubling is that they eventually must find themselves in a position of bowing at the name of someone whom they believe to be a creature.
Philippians 2:10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
I realize that the trinity was not fully revealed in the Old Testament, but in hindsight there were some pretty glaring clues:
Proverbs 30:4Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell

Liberty University - Superconference 2005 - Ergun Caner

All times are approximate:

0:19 In introducing Caner, Jerry Fallwell says: "The dean of liberty theological seminary, Dr. Ergun Caner, is a converted Muslim. He's told you his own story. And God saved him and his brothers as young men growing up in America. They'd come from Turkey. ... "

24:30 Caner, discussing the story of Abraham's near sacrifice of his son states: "Islam teaches that it was Ishmael. Do you know how I felt when I got to Genesis and I found out the truth of the book. That 2200 years after Moses wrote it, 2700 years after it happened, Mohammed changed the story."

This is actually a widespread modern Islamic view, namely that Abraham nearly sacrificed Ishmael, not Isaac. Sam Shamoun points out, however, that the early Islamic literature actually supports the fact that it was Isaac. The idea that nearly sacrificed son was Ishmael is apparently a later Islamic development (see Sam's excellent discussion here). So, it's probably not accurate to say that Mohammed changed the story, but rather that his followers did.

24:50 "So, when I take the students under the Dome of the Rock, I tell them, 'this is what I'm gonna do. We're gonna do it in Arabic. You guys don't know Arabic, but what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna tell it, because there's six Muslims who are stationed here all the way along, who are listening to everything that's being said. And we're gonna tell the story the right way.' And they lose their mind, when they hear you say 'Abraham and Isaac.' [Some gibberish] 'Shut him up!'"

I would welcome any Arabic speakers to listen and tell me whether Caner's gibberish there is actually Arabic for "shut him up." In fact, I don't think there is any evidence we can find of Caner actually speaking Arabic, except for the Basmala and the Shahada. In other words, how could Caner tell a story in Arabic?

Liberty University Convocation - Ergun Caner

According to the Youtube description, this is a convocation from January 20, 2006:

Around 13 minutes into the presentation, Dr. Caner posts some pictures of himself apparently from his early years of seminary, in which he still had a mullet. This provides an interesting bridge between the picture of him in his third year of seminary (viewable here) and the picture of him in high school (viewable here).

The Age of the World, a Quick Historical Note

The British Cyclopaedia (1838), Volume 3, Literature, Geography, and History, in the epoch entry, includes the following among other things:
The Creation has been adopted as an epoch by Christian and Jewish writers, and would have been found very convenient, by doing away with the difficulty and ambiguity of counting before and after any particular date, as is necessary when the era begins at a later period. But, unfortunately, writers are not agreed as to the precise time of commencing. We consider the creation as taking place 4004 years B.C.; but there are about 140 different variations in this respect. The following are those that have been most generally used :—

The Era of Constantinople. In this era the creation is placed 5508 years B.C. It was used by the Russians until the time of Peter the Great, and is still used in the Greek church. The civil year begins the 1st of September, and the ecclesiastical towards the end of March; the day is not exactly determined. To reduce it to our era, subtract 5508 years from January to August, and 5509 from September to the end.
Era of Antioch, and Era of Alexandria. We place these together, because, although they differed at their formation by ten years, they afterwards coincided. They were both much in use by the early Christian writers attached to the churches of Antioch and Alexandria. In the computation of Alexandria, the creation was considered to be 5502 years before Christ, and, in consequence, the year 1 A.D. was equal to 5503. This computation continued to the year 284 A.D., which was called 5786. In the next year (285 A.D.), which should have been 5787, ten years were discarded, and the date became 5777. This is still used by the Abyssinians. The era of Antioch considered the creation to be 5492 years before Christ, and, therefore, the year 285 A.D. was 5777. As this was equal to the date of Alexandria, the two eras, from this time, were considered as one. Dates of the Alexandrian era are reduced to the Christian era by subtracting 5502 until the year 5786, and after that time by subtracting 5492. In the era of Antioch, 5492 are always subtracted.

The Abyssinian Era. The Abyssinians reckon their years from the creation, which they place in the 5493rd year before our era, on the 29th of August, old style; and their dates will consequently exceed ours by 5492 years, and 125 days; they have 12 months of 30 days each, and 5 days added to the end, called pagomen,from the Greek word παγωμενα(added). Another day is added at the end of every fourth year. To know which year is leap year, divide the date by 4, and if 3 remain, the year will be leap year. It always precedes the Julian leap year by 1 year and 4 months. To reduce Abyssinian time to the Julian year, subtract 5492 years and 125 days. The Abyssinians also use the era of Martyrs, or Diocletian, with the same months as in the above.

The Jewish Era. The Jews usually employed the era of the Seleucides, until the fifteenth century, when a new mode of computing was adopted by them. Some insist strongly on the antiquity of their present era; but it is generally believed not to be more ancient than the century above named. They date from the creation, which they consider to have been 3760 years and 3 months before the commencement of our era. Their year is luni-solari consisting either of 12 or 18 months each, and each month of 29 or 30 days. The civil year commences with or immediately after the new moon following the equinox of autumn. The average length of the year of 12 months is 354 days; but, by varying the length of the months Marchesvan and Chisleu, it may consist of 353 or 355 days also. In the same manner, the year of 13 months may contain 883, 384, or 885 days. In 19 years, 12 years have 12 months each, and 7 years 18 months.
One reason that this dating system is important to fans of textual criticism is that numerous medieval manuscripts can be dated by the above-described technique (see p. xiv here, for example).

That was long before Ken Ham (1951 - present) or Archbishop James Ussher (1581 – 1656) were ever a twinkle in their fathers' eyes. For those hopelessly stupid, deluded, or deceived (is there some other option?) people who insist that assigning a young age to the Earth was an invention of the Seventh Day Adventists, keep in mind that these manuscripts go back well before the SDA movement started in 1863 or Ellen G. White (1827 – 1915).


"My Conversion from Islam to Christianity" - Ergun Caner

All times are approximate:

10:05 "We came to America having lived in countries where we were always the majority and now I was the minority."

As far as we can tell, Caner lived only in Sweden prior to coming to America as a young child (too young for kindergarten).

10:10 "We dressed differently."

Caner's high school yearbook photos don't reflect this.

24:25 "I studied about ... 6 hours - it was a seven minute sermon - but I'm eternally blessed, because out of one corner came one guy, and out of the other corner came the other, and both my brothers got saved."

That's not how the Caners have described the brothers' conversion story elsewhere.

29:10 "My father's other wives ... they're still alive, they're still breathing."

We can find only one other wife, the woman that Caner's dad married after he was divorced from Caner's mom.

Fall Chapel 2010 - Ergun Caner

Around 19:50, Ergun Caner recounts his childhood experience skating and getting injured with his brother Emir.

This is mostly interesting by comparison to Ergun Caner's other comment about skating, as described in this earlier article (link), "I don't roller skate, there's not a lot of roller skating going on in the sand."

- TurretinFan

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"The Secret of Islam" Ergun Caner - 6 May 2011

All times below are approximate:

37:00 "Mohammed didn't believe we were worshiping the same god."

It seems, however, that Mohammed did think that. One of the most famous verses of the Quran for those who engage in apologetics with Muslims, is this:
Surah 29:46

Sahih International: And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, "We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him."

Pickthall: And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our Allah and your Allah is One, and unto Him we surrender.

Yusuf Ali: And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)."

38:35 "In Surah 61 of Quran, here's what it says, Jesus, supposedly speaking, I must go so that I will send you Achmed. Supposedly a word play on Comforter, it's also a shortened version of Mohammed."

Surah 61:6

Sahih International: And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, "O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad." But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, "This is obvious magic."

Pickthall: And when Jesus son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name is the Praised One. Yet when he hath come unto them with clear proofs, they say: This is mere magic.

Yusuf Ali: And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: "O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad." But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, "this is evident sorcery!"

Caner seems to be conflating the above with John's gospel:

John 16:7
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter (παράκλητος) will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Sometimes Muslims claim that the text of John 16:7 has been corrupted, so that "parakletos" (as written, meaning comforter) should be periklutos (περικλυτος, meaning "praised" or something similar). This would be similar in meaning, it is alleged, to the name Ahmed. The connection to Surah 61 is that Surah 61 claims that Jesus prophesied of the coming of Mohammed.

44:50 "Both of them say you can be good and he could capriciously just send you to hell because he feels like it. So do the hyper-Calvinists. You want to know why I war with them now. It sounds like their god seems a whole lot more hateful, sounds a whole lot more like Allah than like the God of the Bible who is willing that none should perish. I like a good Calvinist. A Calvinist likes to go door to door, just like I do. A hyper-calvinist makes fun of you for going door to door. "How dare you insult the sovereignty of God. Yeah, why go? They're going to be saved whether we tell them or not!" They don't have a problem with saying that God is the author of evil."

That's a useful distinction between hyper-Calvinists and Calvinists. But where on earth has Caner ever met a hyper-Calvinist, much less been at war with them?


James P. White Challenges Dr. Ergun Caner to Debate

I found this challenge from James P. White (not Dr. James R. White of Alpha and Omega Ministries) to be interesting. I doubt Caner will accept, as I haven't found any examples of Dr. Caner actually doing any live debate.


Monday, August 26, 2013

"Why I am Not a Muslim" Ergun Caner - 7 May 2011

All times below are approximate:

0:30 "I got my doctorate in Global Apologetics because I'm curious." Dr. Caner's doctorate from the University of South Africa is apparently a doctorate in theology. The title of his thesis was: "Bellum sacrum: the development of the Holy War of the first crusade in light of Augustine's Just War criteria" (see discussion here).

5:05 "You have your rites of passage. Those of you who came from Catholicism - in Catholicism you have confirmation, in Judaism you have bar mitzphah, bat mitzphah, in Islam it's called 'maşallah.' This was mine. And without going into any great detail it is our celebration of manhood and it involves circumcision without any medicines. And then they have a party."

That is not the name for circumcision in Islam. The term is Khitān or Khatna, sometimes Taharah. The term Mā šāʾ Allāh (ما شاء الله) is basically a term of joy and celebration (see here and here). While some Muslims may wait until as late as puberty to have circumcision done, that is not the norm.

(Compare with Caner's previous use of Masha'Allah here)

18:50 "You fall down, you bust your skull, you fall down you break your elbow, you're supposed to say "inshallah," Allah willed it."

Inshallah is a term that is used about prospective events, similar to the way that Christians say "Lord willing." (see here)

30:50 "Freshman year, Sophomore year, Junior year in high school. Going into my senior year, finally I said, 'why don't you stop,' but he wouldn't. ... I finally took him up on the challenge, just out of shear exhaustion. 'Yeah, fine, I'll go into your little church.'"

According to other accounts, Dr. Caner was converted in 1982, which would have corresponded to the first half of his Junior year.


UPDATE: A friend pointed out that Ergun claims (at 18:10): "we're repeating the first chapter of the Koran, six verses, Surah 1, over and over and over." In fact, the first Surah has seven verses.