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A Second Look at Unveiling Christianity March 11, 2010

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Bible, Biblical Studies, Christianity, God, Islam, Muhammad, Religion, Textual Criticism, Uncategorized.
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In this second preliminary article, we will be examining the methodology that Unveiling Christianity uses when writing and posting their historical critiques. To anyone familiar to the field of  history or logical argumentation, whether through academic studies or a passing glance of works in historical methodology, it becomes all too apparent that there is a mishandling of sources.

In the articles posted on Unveiling Christianity’s website, one will notice a pattern of sources that Ibn Anwar uses; those who support his position. Obviously an author is supposed to use scholars that support their position in writing persuasive styles of writing, so with that there is nothing wrong. However, the strength of an argument is seen in one’s ability to formulate good reasons for a position, as well as the ability to tear down an opposing view, all while strengthening one’s own position; and not just by quoting scholars who support one’s position. We’ve noticed roughly three things in Mr. Anwar’s work, that lead to certain fallacies: (i) ignoring a huge group of scholars who disagree with the scholars he has chosen to quote, (ii) the philosophical presumptions and dispositions of the scholars he has chosen, and (iii) formulations of good reasons to take the position he has chosen.

(i) One who is trying to establish historical certainties cannot ignore a huge portion of top academics who do not share his position. Ignoring them does no justice to the beauty of historical narratives, nor does it breed honest academic work. Anyone can write like that and anyone can beef up their own positions on quite possibly any position no matter how absurd the opinion is. (ii) The philosophical positions of those quoted need to be taken into account Mr. Anwar. The majority of scholars we have seen you use do not believe the supernatural can be taken into account historically, and thus they rule out miraculous events found in the Bible, which allow you to take the positions you do.  The opinions you are taken in, are completely naturalistic positions, and unless you apply the same naturalistic standards to the Qur’an, you are committing academic hypocrisy. (iii) Formulating a good position paper requires more than just a list of scholars who somewhat support a position you’re taking. Good reasons are needed, as even the best and brightest scholars may have lack good reasons for taking a particular claim. If one just quote’s scholars, the fallacy of appealing to authority births, along with it, a fallacy of cherry picking one’s sources, and accordingly, the formation of a bad position paper peaks its ugly head, as well as a illusion of a poor grasp of the subject.  So we urge Unveiling Christianity to use a well balanced list of sources, examine the philosophies of the scholar’s quoted, and offer up good reasons, rather than the mere conclusions of academics who may or may not have good reasons for their position.

More to follow up in critiquing Unveiling Christianity.

In Christ,

The Confessors


Liar, Lunatic, or Lord? March 4, 2010

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Atheism, Bible, Biblical Studies, Christianity, God, Islam, Muhammad, Religion.
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(1) Jesus claimed to be divine; at least indirectly.

(2) Jesus’ claim is either true or false.

(3) If it is false, then Jesus either knew it was false or he did not know.

(4) If Jesus knew his claim to divinity was false, then he was a liar

(5) If Jesus did not know, then he was a lunatic.

(6) Jesus was neither a liar nor a lunatic.

(7) Therefore Jesus must have been telling the truth.

(8) Therefore Jesus was Lord and thus divine.

This argument in various forms has appeared in apologetic writings for quite some time. As far as we know, it was first made famous by C.S. Lewis. It is a good, solid, logical argument, and is cannot be so easily dismissed. Enjoy!

Critiquing Unveiling Christianity Pt. 1 January 31, 2010

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Bible, Biblical Studies, Christianity, God, Islam, Muhammad, Religion, Textual Criticism.
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Over the past several months, although there was a long break in between due to personal engagements on both ends, a member of The Confessors (under the pseudo name Polycarp) and Ibn Anwar of Unveiling Christianity, engaged in a series of web-debates over several articles found on the Unveiling Christianity website. The articles were entitled “Matthew 28:19,” “Did Paul really meet Jesus,” and “Unveiling Polycarp.” The discussions that occured under “Did Paul really meet Jesus” and “Unveiling Polycarp” were a continuing dialogue on the subject of Paul meeting Jesus. Before we proceed further with the critique, we do want to express an appreciation towards Ibn Anwar and his work; as he is probably the first amateur Muslim da’i that we’ve ran across that puts forth some meaningful material. On the flip side of this, there is a heavy appeal to authority in Ibn Anwar’s work; where names are thrown out as arguments, rather than an examination of the arguments; where cherry picking is the method of choice for quotations; and where minority positions are exploited when it’s the Christian, but when it’s the Muslim, well…, it’s because the Muslim has the correct position there. Unfortunately, appeals to authority, cherry picking, and assumption based arguments, don’t win the day. Over the next few posts we’ll examine these articles and the debates they created, sort of give our critique of everything, and hopefully bring clarity to the various statements and arguments.

Is John 16:7-14 Referencing the Holy Spirit or Muhammad Part Two? January 23, 2010

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Bible, Biblical Studies, Christianity, God, Islam, Muhammad, Religion.
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Anyone who’s been on the page in the last few weeks has probably read the ongoing debate between Shajahan and us. Shajahan has written a new post that sort of counters our position in this debate process; expounding on what he believes to be the problem with our logic. However, anyone looking at this from a neutral and logical perspective should see that the logical error does indeed fall with Shajahan. An outline of his argument appears as so: (1) The Comforter is more fitting if it were Muhammad (2) 1 John shows that spirits are the same as prophets (3) The Holy Spirit is already here by quoting Luke 1, so it makes no sense to send him (4) The Holy Spirit does not fit as a “guide” as John says The Comforter will be (5) Muhammad is clearly a more affective guide by receiving and teaching the Qur’an and its rules for living (6) Therefore Muhammad is The Comforter.

Right off the bat one should be able to spot the fallacy of “begging the question” in his argument, by assuming that Muhammad is the only one fitting of the title of The Comforter and guide. In premise (5) he states that, “the Qur’an is enough evidence to support this statement,” well no it’s not for two reasons: (i) If one doesn’t believe in the Qur’an, they don’t just accept it because Shajahan says so and (ii) this begs the question and would require support to back up the claim as to why we should take the Qur’an at its word; option (ii) obviously turns this deliberation into an even longer one. (iii) Since others can fit a title of guide there’s no reason to jump to the conclusion that its Muhammad, i.e. Martin L. King Jr. guided the civil rights movement and inspired millions, Billy Graham has inspired millions to turn to God, the Dali Lama guides millions of his followers, and the list of “guides” could go on and on. For obvious reasons one needs to turn to the text to determine the characteristics of the guide. So to assume Muhammad here simply commits fallacy that needs to be resolved.

Premise (2), under his interpretation, indicates that prophets and spirits are one in the same. Well certainly in some ways because under Christian thought, prophets get their powers by one of two sources: if they’re false prophets, they’re saturated by a false spirit(s) and if they’re a true prophet of God, they get their revelations by the Spirit of God (as seen in the prophets of God in the Old Testament). We’re willing to grant him this because it’s a matter of Christian theology and semantics; it also doesn’t do much towards the conclusion, but raise the possibility that when it says “Spirit of Truth” in John, it could possibly be a prophet.

Premise (3) falls apart once the text is examined. For in John 14:17 it is already acknowledged that The Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, which is later identified as the Holy Spirit in John 14:26, is present and known by the disciples. It seems clear that in John 14:17b, that the Holy Spirit will have a change of presence.

On his latest blog, which this is mostly a response to, he makes the point that he shouldn’t have to prove the Scriptures because The Confessors are Christian and thus should accept this, Amen brother! So we do accept this, which is why to counter all his points, we quote John 14: 26; this identifies The Comforter as the Holy Spirit. This would also mean the Spirit of Truth (which is a term only used by John as so) is the Holy Spirit as well. Now here’s where the logic problem comes in, if he continues to assume, for the sake of the argument, that he does not have to prove the Bible because it is accepted as is by Christians, he must abandon his position, as John 14:26 identifies The Comforter as the Holy Spirit. With this verse so specific he has only three positions he can take, (i) he cannot maintain his position that The Comforter = Muhammad because we see clearly that it isn’t as the author states. (ii) The only honest conclusion he could make is that John (or the Bible) is too untrustworthy to make any sort of conclusions, in which this isn’t the debate, although we could debate on the Bibles cohesion later. (iii) He no longer for the sake of the argument assumes we can take the Bible as so, but then needs to prove why we should take the verses he uses to quote to back up his position, yet why we should not take those that hinder his position, like John 14.

So to summarize, first some of his premises beg the question to start with, and thus are enough to drop the argument. Second, he only has three possible conclusions that can be drawn from this: (i) The Bible declares who The Comforter is, thus his position is false from the start. (ii) The Bible is corrupt, thus there’s no reason to take any conclusions from the Bible; thus his original position is also false. (iii) His original assumption that the Bible is uncorrupted is dropped, and then he must prove why we can take what he quotes as trustworthy and what he rejects (John 14) as false. Until he identifies which route he chooses to go, there is no reason to consider his argument as it is invalid.

How Old is the Old Testament? January 9, 2010

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Atheism, Bible, Biblical Studies, Christianity, God, Islam, Religion.
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One of our members was surfing the world wide web and stumbled across an interesting read. Professor Gershon Galil, from the University of Haifa, dated and translated a piece of pottery that seems to contain an inscription from the Bible. This would push back the commonly held belief that the Bible was written in the 6th century B.C., to around the reign of King David in the 10th century B.C.. Hopefully they’ll continue to update the findings as the research progresses.

In Christ,

The Confessors

Read First Before Using Bart Ehrman January 2, 2010

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Atheism, Bible, Christianity, God, Islam, Religion, Textual Criticism.
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We recommend reading this interview with Bart Ehrman from the Evangelical Textual Criticism blogspot. This will benefit all who are remotely interested in textual criticism; but it’ll especially benefit those who mostly use Bart Erhman’s works against the Bible. Although it doesn’t deal specifically with Bart Ehrman’s claims found in his book “Misquoting Jesus,” it does provide his take on how his book should be taken and used.

Is John 16:7-14 Referencing the Holy Spirit or Muhammad? December 31, 2009

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, God, Islam, Muhammad, Religion, Uncategorized.
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While blogsurfing the wordpress world, we came across an interesting blog that provides arguments to a somewhat common Muslim claim that is thrown out there.  The entry claims that the Comforter in John 16:7-14 is actually a prophecy regarding Muhammad and not the Holy Spirit like Christians believe. It’s always fascinating to see Islam turn to the Bible, despite their unrelenting attacks against it, to provide “proof” for their beliefs. We attempted to start up a dialogue with its author, but after the second round of going back and fourth all the comments were deleted for unknown reasons. So keeping with the purposes of this blog in mind, we’ll present his arguments and then offer up a response.

His arguments revolve around these four points: (1) A spirit and a prophet can be the same thing (basing this off of his interpretation of 1 John 4) (2) The Holy Spirit has come prior to Jesus (Luke 1:41), rendering this a false statement if applied to the Holy Spirit (3) The Holy Spirit hasn’t guided believers like Muhammad has and (4) once the Qur’an is studied, we will see The Comforter as Muhammad because of the Qur’an’s evidence.

Before we even have to deal with his arguments the whole conclusion runs aground. In John 14:25, it specifically states that the Comforter is the Holy Spirit, contrary to what he argues: “The intention of this writing is to prove to that this prophesy is not referring to the Holy Ghost, rather it is referring to the last and final Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).” This leaves him with one of these three options, (1) conceed that John 16:7-14 is referencing the Holy Spirit, (2) provide good reasons to reject John 14:25’s claim, or (3) provide another string of arguments that can show Muhammad is specifically the Holy Spirit. Since his conclusion is false from the start, the premises are also false and thus can be rejected without even dealing with them; if the he reads this we welcome a response to this.

In Christ,

The Confessors

Round Two of the Use of Jeremiah 10:2-4 December 31, 2009

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Christmas, Islam, Religion, Uncategorized.
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Apparently the blogger took notice at our response to the usage and more specifically his usage of Jeremiah 10:2-4 in anti-Christmas tree and anti-Christmas celebration blogs and emails. However, he completely misses the point of the entry, which was more against the proof-texting and manipulating of the Scripture verse to make it appear as if it was specifically addressing Christmas festivities. In this response he tries to make it appear as if he was originally looking at the spiritual message behind the verse; however all one has to do is look at the post to see that if this was his original intention, it wasn’t very clear.

In this new entry he expands the purpose of the original blog, showing that we have to look at the deeper meaning of the verse, worship isn’t just a specific act but could go much deeper in the Islamic view; which any Christian could agree with. He left a comment in his response to another reader, saying: “You see, when the Christian puts up a tree in defiance of God he is worshipping something other than God. It might be the tree, giving it an undo right to be in the house, decorating it beautifully, gathering around it, staring at it for extended periods of time.”  A few things must be stated here (i) While trees in the past have been worshiped, even evergreen trees, Christians started the Christmas tree tradition as a symbol for Christ as a light to the world (hence the lights on the tree).  If we avoided everything that Pagan’s or others have used in their worship rites or worship in the methods talked about above, no one could do anything without invoking Pagan connotations, not even the worship of God in buildings. (ii) Where does God say never put up a tree that isn’t going to be used in religious ceremonies, since we’ve established that Christians don’t use trees in any sort of religious worship or for Pagan tradition? (iii) The statements above would label nearly everything as idol worship, even writing a blog (depending on what is defined as “looking at something for an extended period of time). This definition provided would lable things as decorating ones house as idol house worship, house plants could possibly idol worship, and depending on what could be defined as “decoration,” one dressing up could be doing idol worship. Now, to a Christian, these could indeed become idols if they become something that is placed infront of God, or hinders your relationship with God. Is one spending more time watching tv then with God or is someone more fascinated with the Christmas tree then the birth of Christ? In summery, if the author of the entry would have expanded his commentary on Jeremiah 10:2-4 to explain what he did in the rebuttal to my response, we probably would not of even wrote an entry dealing with the original fallacious usage of the verese.

Some Questions For Muslims December 30, 2009

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Islam, Religion, Uncategorized.
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To the Muslim we must ask:  how did the Bible become corrupt when the Qur’an declares the Bible as the “Word of God,” “the Book of God,” “a decision for all matters,” and the list goes on; when according to Surahs 6:34 and 10:64 the Words of God cannot be altered?  Did the Bible become corrupt before, after or during Muhammad’s life, because in Surah 5:47-50 Christians are told to turn to their own Gospel and we are asked to test the truthfulness of Muhammad’s message with the previous message (the Bible) from God, like in Surah 10:94?

A Review of “Misquoting Jesus” December 27, 2009

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Atheism, Bible, Christianity, Islam, Religion, Uncategorized.
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 Bart Ehrman’sMisquoting Jesus was promised (and lives up to that promise) to be the first in  textual criticism that any layperson could pick up and understand (pg.15). Ben Witherington also echoes similar words on his BlogSpot review of the book,” this is material I could happily assign to seminary students wanting to understand the basics of text criticism.” The material, for the most part, was a great read and easy to follow. Anyone who truly wants to understand the basics of textual criticism and New Testament manuscript history, without the intensity and length of scholarly textbooks, would do well to read the first four chapters of this book. After those initial four chapters, the book’s point becomes more apparent (not that it was completely hidden from the get go).

Who He Is:

Dr. Bart Ehrman is a scholar in the field of Biblical Studies, chairing the department of religious studies at the University of North Carolina. He is also the author of numerous books on the subject of Biblical Studies. He studied at some of the nation’s best known Christian schools, Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College, finishing up his studies under Bruce Metzger at Princeton Theological Seminary. As his introduction reveals, it was these studies that enlightened him to the errors that filled the manuscripts of the Bible, thus in his mind, rendering them uninspired by God. Later he rejected Christianity, becoming an agnostic, after wrestling with the problems of suffering.

The Commentary:

In the introduction of the book, one gets a detailed life story of Bart Ehrman. The reader also will find out the sort of angle he is approaching his studies from. The approach is the typical “guilty until proven innocent” slant. Dr. Erhman clearly reveals that because the manuscripts are error ridden, we should not accept the Bible as an inspired book. On the other hand, he seems to shoot himself in the foot, “Most of the differences [between the textual manuscripts] are completely immaterial and insignificant” (pg.10). He highlights some brief examples of the changes and tells the readers there are approximately 400,000 differences between the textual manuscripts and that some of these differences are intentional changes, although not necessarily for the bad. Seeming to forget what he wrote on page ten, he starts to paint a drab outlook for anyone who puts faith in the Bible.

According to Dr. Craig Blomberg the, “substantial majority of this book provides information already well-known and well-accessible in other sources.” So the issues are not some brand new discovery, nor have they been kept hidden. They are now just more accessible to the public in an easier to read format. Dr. Blomberg believes that Dr. Ehrman spins the data by focusing on the more drastic issues concerning the text. Thus, making it as if there are even greater or many more issues like the ones he points out in his book found throughout the various texts. Despite making it seem like this (which he indeed does), he concedes on page sixty-nine that the other textual differences are in no way the magnitude of the others in the book. Dr.Blomberg also takes issue with Ehrman’s hypothesis, that the scribes of the 2nd and 3rd century did not do as vigilant of a job that the “professional” scribes  did after Emperor Constantine. Submiting that not only is it unprovable that the scribes after Constantine were all professional, but also Erhman’s proposition that the scribes after Constantine where more careful in copying than those before hand, because we simply don’t have the amount of manuscripts from the 2nd and 3rd centuries that we have from the later centuries; stating, “Not only are both of these postulates unprovable (though certainly possible), the actual textual evidence of the second and third centuries, though notably sparser than for later centuries, does not demonstrate the sufficiently greater fluidity in the textual tradition that would be necessary to actually support the hypothesis that we cannot reconstruct the most likely originals with an exceedingly high probability of accuracy, even if that probability remains in the high 90s rather than at 100 %” (Dr.Blomberg).   Dr. Erhman also writes as if the Doctrine of the Trinity leans on the “Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7-8).” When in reality there are other verses located throughout the Bible that support the Trinity (note: we at The Confessors have never used 1 John 5:7-8 as a verse to support the Trinity, nor have we seen anyone else use it; most Bibles today do not contain the Johannine Comma).

Dr. Bart Ehrman also never gives any supporting arguments to back up his claim that these errors suggest that the Bible itself can’t possibly be inspired by God. The evidence seems to point the other way, “No central tenet of Christianity hangs on any textually uncertain passage” (Dr. Craig Blomberg). Dan Wallace in his review quotes what Bruce Metzger once taught him, “over 90% of the NT is rather well established in regard to its original text, and none of the remaining 10% provides us with data that could lead to any shocking revisions of the Christian credo or doctrine” (Dan Wallace). Norman Geisler and Willam Nix conclude in their book, “A General Introduction to the Bible”, as quoted by Bruce Metzger in “The Case for Christ”, that the text is “a form that is 99.5% pure.” If Dr. Bart Ehrman’s own mentor and “Doctor-Father,” Bruce Metzger, came to the conclusion that the text is 99.5% pure, we should take the conclusion in “Misquoting Jesus” with a grain of salt (Acknowledgments, Misquoting Jesus).

In Conclusion:

“Misquoting Jesus” is a good read and provides a basic understanding of the field of textual criticism in the first four chapters. The Introduction and chapters five through the conclusion reveal he has an ax to grind. Many of his claims are spun out of historical context and un-provable.

For the links to the reviews used above:

Dr.Craig Blomberg’s Review

Dr.Ben Witherington’s Review, with Dan Wallace

Evangelical Textual Criticism’s Review

We also recommend “Misquoting Truth” by Timothy Paul Jones

In Christ,

The Confessors