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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.

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

The Initial Review of Biblerrors.com December 24, 2009

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Islam, Religion.
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 Some time ago, we stumbled upon Biblerrors.com through this blog, while exploring the blogosphere. The authors of the webpage do not try to mask what they do, it’s in the name. They also do not try and make themselves out to be more than what they are, as they give their bio’s in the “biblerrors team” section. So for this we can appreciate the honesty; however there are some initial issues I wish to hammer out with the website.

First, they aren’t really finding errors in the Bible per say; rather, they’re finding errors in a translation of the Bible (the KJV). This is in no way discounting the qualities of the KJV of the Bible nor are we skating away from the issues that do exist between texts. What we are trying to make clear, is that a lot has happened in the last 400years of Biblical scholarship that can account for many of the alleged “errors.” In order for this site to be accurate in its title (biblerrors.com), the authors must do one or both of the following (i) know ancient Hebrew, ancient Aramaic, and Koine Greek (other languages like Syriac and Coptic are highly recommended); all while having access to all the thousands of the various textual copies of the Bible.  (ii) Or have academic sources that deal with the various issues and differences found throughout the many manuscripts we possess of both the Old and New Testament. A wide range of scholars are recommended if route (ii) is followed, as you could probably find a “scholar” who’d say just about anything.  Not to mention, when one is properly going to critically analyze a particular subject, looking at both sides of the argument is always needed. If one reads Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” one should also read the counter books like, “Misquoting Truth” by Timothy Paul Jones. Of course we’re not trying to say the counter arguments for any issue will always be persuasive; but one should at least fully understand both sides of the arguments.

The second issue we wish to bring forth pertains to their willing to listen to the other side. Under a pseudonym, a member of The Confessors tried to open up a dialogue about the topic, but was stifled. He was given two options 1) call a Christian apologist he had never heard of a deceiver or 2) never try to contact this specific author of the website again. After failing to get around the ad hominine mudslinging required to even start a dialogue, he was put on their spam list for emails. The issue with this technique is quite clear, there is no concern with truth or even honest dialogue about the issues; rather, they’re right and everyone else is wrong and if you don’t adhere to what they think is true, you’re nothing less then a liar.

Finally, this leads point three, which is more questions than anything else. Are they willing to listen and correct any issues with their lists if there indeed is no error at all? What sort of proofs would be needed for this to occur? What type of scholarship would they accept if it went against their ideals?

In Christ,

The Confessors