Eye-witness testimony in the Bible and Hadith

 

Lizzie and Paul Williams discuss eyewitness testimony in the Bible and Hadith. Paul brings up Matthew 27:52 which he says Christian scholars claim is legendarised; Lizzie brings up the fact no-one witnessed Muhammad’s revelations at all.

Matthew 27:51-52

“51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.”

The Hadith of Gabriel:

Umar ibn al-Khattab said: One day when we were with God’s messenger, a man with very white clothing and very black hair came up to us. No mark of travel was visible on him, and none of us recognized him. Sitting down before the Prophet, leaning his knees against his, and placing his hands on his thighs, he said, “Tell me, Muhammad, about submission.” He replied, ‘Submission means that you should bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is God’s messenger, that you should perform the ritual prayer, pay the alms tax, fast during Ramadan, and make the pilgrimage to the House if you are able to go there.” The man said, “You have spoken the truth.” We were surprised at his questioning him and then declaring that he had spoken the truth. He said “Now tell me about faith.” He replied, “Faith means that you have faith in God, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and that you have faith in the measuring out, both its good and its evil.” Remarking that he had spoken the truth, he then said, “Now tell me about doing what is beautiful.” He replied, “Doing what is beautiful means that you should worship God as if you see Him, for even if you do not see Him, He sees you.” Then the man said, “Tell me about the Hour” The Prophet replied, “About that he who is questioned knows no more than the questioner.” The man said, “Then tell me about its marks.” He said, “The slave girl will give birth to her mistress, and you will see the barefoot, the naked, the destitute, and the shepherds vying with each other in building.” Then the man went away. After I had waited for a long time, the Prophet said to me, “Do you know who the questioner was, ‘Umar?” I replied, “God and His messenger know best. “He said, “He was Gabriel. He came to teach you your religion. ”

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The evidential basis for the Book of Acts

The evidential basis for the Book of Acts

Jonathan McLatchie shows how the book of Acts is historically reliable and how it gives credibility to the claim that Jesus really died and rose again.

For further reading on this topic:

Colin Hemer, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History

John Saul Howson, The Evidential Value of the Acts of the Apostles

Craig Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary

Stanley Leathes, The Religion of the Christ, Lecture 6

Lydia McGrew, Hidden in Plain View

William Paley, Horae Paulinae

James Smith, The Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul

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Objection 1: Jesus never said “I am God, worship me”

Jesus on the Cross
By Zarateman

Alongside our series ‘Why Muhammad is not a prophet’, we thought we’d answer the top ten common Muslim objections to the deity of Christ. This first objection, popularised by Ahmed Deedat, is way the most common and often the first one a Muslim will raise.  So here’s a quick rebuttal, which we hope you find helpful.

Objection 1 – Jesus never said ‘I am God, worship me.’

  1. This is the ‘exact words’ fallacy.

Just because Jesus doesn’t use these exact words doesn’t mean it can’t be true. Just because the Queen is not on record saying exactly “I am a woman and monarch of the United Kingdom” doesn’t mean she isn’t. The  Qur’an never says “tawhid [Islamic monotheism] is God’s truth, you must follow tawhid” – does this mean the Qur’an doesn’t teach tawhid? No, the Qur’an does teach tawhid. Besides, who are ordinary Muslims to tell Jesus, who they revere as a prophet, what He should or shouldn’t have said?  Why not look at His actual words? This leads us to our next point.

2. Why use an argument from silence instead of going to Scripture?

The Qur’an tells Muslims to believe in that which was sent down to us, Jews and Christians, as well as what was sent to them  (Sura 4:136). Allah says he doesn’t make a distinction between the Qur’an and the previous Scriptures (Sura 2:136), that the previous Scriptures are a guidance for mankind (Sura 3:3-4).  Why are Muslims preferring the words of human beings like Ahmed Deedat over Allah’s words?

3. Jesus does claim to be God in John 8:58 and Mark 14:62

How does Jesus identify himself in John 8:58?  Verses 48-58 give the context.

4The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honour my Father and you dishonour me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”

52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58 Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS BORN, I AM!” (Greek ‘ego eimi’)59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”

Who does “ego eimi”  (“I am”) refer to in the Old Testament? Isaiah 43:9-13  from the Septuagint (Greek version of OT):

‘All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of them foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, ‘It is true. You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord (Greek kyrios, Hebrew YHWH) ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I AM HE (ego eimi). Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no saviour. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘that I am God. Yes, AND FROM ANCIENT DAYS I AM HE. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?’ Isaiah 43:9-13.

“I am” refers to YHWH, the personal name for God as revealed to Moses. YHWH is from ancient days, YHWH is the only Saviour, out of whose hand no-one can deliver.  Jesus is from ancient times (John 8:58, Micah 5:2), Jesus is the only Saviour (Luke 2:11), and no one can deliver out of his hand (John 10:27)! Therefore Jesus is YHWH.

What’s more, the Jews understood perfectly what Jesus meant, hence why they tried to stone him for blasphemy. And it would be blasphemy if Jesus were just a prophet, but Jesus’ claim to be God must be true because Jesus was sinless and not a liar – as the Qur’an also affirms.

27 Jesus’ claim to divinity is even more explicit in Mark 14: 61-64, during his trial before the Sanhedrin:

‘Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 I am,” (ego eimi) said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death.

In Jesus’ answer, note the parallels with the Divine Son of Man in Daniel 7:13 who is worshipped by all nations and peoples as God!

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,[a]coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language WORSHIPPED him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Why is the ‘son of man’ in Daniel  worshipped if He isn’t God Almighty himself? Jesus is claiming to be this very Person! Now turn let’s turn this objection into a question for Muslims:

4. So if Allah tells you to believe in the previous Scriptures (Sura 4:136), and that Jesus was sinless and not a liar (Sura 19:19)  why don’t you worship Him when He claims to be God?

Lord Jesus open Muslims’ eyes to see you for the glorious God and Saviour that You are.

For more in-depth analysis, read this article by Sam Shamoun

 

 

 

 

 

Polygamy in the Bible

Elkanah, Peninah and Hannah

Last week we had some lively discussions at Speaker’s Corner about whether Muhammad treated his wives fairly. The response was: there is polygamy all over the Old Testament, and God didn’t have a problem with it. How do we answer that objection?

God approves?

“For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.” (1 Kings 15:5)

This was the verse that one of our Muslim friends gave us to justify polygamy as an acceptable Biblical practice. His argument went: if God praises David for doing everything right in the sight of the Lord, that means He must have approved, tacitly if not explicitly, of the fact David had multiple wives and concubines.

Not necessarily. Firstly, are we to infer from the phrase “David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord,” that David only, ever, exclusively did what was right in God’s sight, apart from the Uriah episode? The phrase doesn’t make that claim, nor is it borne out in David’s life. Take his census of the fighting men (1 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21), which brings God’s judgement against him. “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing” he says (1 Samuel 24:10). Obviously, this was not right in the eyes of the Lord. So is the Scripture contradicting itself? No, just making a valid generalisation rather than an exhaustive claim about all David’s actions. In fact, if we look at verse 3, and is confirmed in other verses, e.g., 1 Kings 9:4, we see that David is being praised for his integrity of heart, rather than his actions:

“He [Abijah] committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been.” (1 Kings 15:3)

God himself makes this same generalisation to Solomon about David: “as for you, if you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did..” (1 Kings 9:4)

Nor did he fail to keep any of the LORD’s commands, according to 1 Kings 15:5. Was David commanded to marry multiple wives? No, this a straw man argument. Having said that, it’s still a fact that David took multiple wives and concubines, as did others before him – men of God like Moses, Abraham and Jacob. Polygamy was the rule rather than the exception. And while God doesn’t explicitly approve it, he doesn’t condemn it either. So where did Christians get this idea of monogamous marriage from?  Let’s go back to the beginning.

Marriage – the template

In Genesis 2:21-24, we’re told “no suitable helper was found” for Adam:

“So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Note the singular form: man (not men), woman (not women), ONE flesh. And this is before the Fall, when everything was as God intended. Hence we can conclude that monogamy was God’s original plan.

The Law

One of the many consequences of Fall was human beings rejection of God’s pattern for marriage; in the 13th-century BC Near East, polygamy was its replacement. But the Mosaic law gave the practice some measure of regulation. Deuteronomy 21:15-17 (ESV):

“If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his.

This passage enshrines the rights of the offspring of an unloved wife. It doesn’t mean God approves of the practice of polygamy. If anything, the implication is that it’s preferable to have one wife and therefore no conflict of interest. God also gives specific instructions to Israel’s King, that he should not

acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:17, ESV.)

God’s warning, that polygamy is a step on the road to idolatry, violating the first commandment of God, should have been salutary enough to make people avoid the practice. But they didn’t listen.

Polygamy in the Old Testament

Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. Jacob, Leah and Rachel. Elkanah, Hannah and Peninnah. David, Abigail, Michal, Bathsheba, plus concubines. Solomon and his seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. In short – it never works out. Each scenario has its own pain and misery: Sarah’s mistreatment of Hagar, Jacob’s lack of love for Leah, Peninah’s provocation of Hannah for her inability to conceive; Michal’s husband’s tears as she is given to David. And of course, Solomon, whose heart was indeed led astray from true worship of YHWH by his wives:

For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

Loving multiple wives – loving multiple gods. Loving one wife – faithfulness to one God. This link between marriage and faithfulness to the one true God is developed in the New Testament.

Marriage in the New Testament

Muslims tell us prophets were sinless. But this is not what the Bible teaches. So we don’t take Abraham or David or Solomon as out moral examples. We go to Jesus, the only sinless man that ever lived – something which Islam also affirms. What did He teach about marriage? Matthew 19:

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Although the context of the discussion is divorce, Jesus’ answer is also applicable to polygamy. Jesus quotes Genesis again – one male, one female, the TWO shall become ONE flesh. Note the sexual analogy – a man and women joined together in sexual union, makes one. The physical analogy doesn’t work with three or four women at the same time. And it’s a spiritual union, not just physical- “what therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Paul also uses the sexual analogy to illustrate the believers’ relationship with Christ himself – united to Him, to the exclusion of others. Paul’s response to sexual immorality in the Corinthian church was:

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:15-17)

In other words, if you sleep with “prostitutes” (used figuaratively here for sexual activity with anyone who is not your one and only spouse), you are making a mockery of the marriage union where two become one: if you say you love Jesus while continuing to follow other gods at the same time, you are making a mockery of your exclusive union with Christ.

Marriage between Christ and His Church

Jesus is the Bridegroom and the church is His bride. This analogy is used by Jesus himself (Mark 2:19, Matthew 25:1-13), the Apostle Paul and John in Revelation. In fact, notice how closely Paul uses the analogy of Christ and his Church in his teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5: 21-32:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church30 for we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

The Bridegroom, the bride. Jesus was faithful to His bride by coming to earth and laying down His life for her. He will never share his love for us with another. His church is made acceptable to Him through His blood shed for her on the Cross. His church is to love Him with the same exclusive faithfulness that He loves us, not dividing our affection between Him and other gods – just as we wouldn’t divide our affection between multiple spouses.

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Revelation 21:2. Come, Lord Jesus.

Next up: Polygamy in the Qur’an.

Did Allah protect his Word?

Did Allah protect his Word?

Daniel talks to Muslims on the reliability of Christian Scripture. The Muslim in this video asserts that Allah didn’t preserve the Torah, but Sura 3:3 and 18:27 say otherwise.

Sura 3:3 He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel.

Sura 18:27 And recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no changer of His words, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge.

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“Jesus sinned” says Muslim. Allah disagrees!

Godwin and Daniel discuss with “John Rambo” – an aggressive member of the Islamic da’wah team – over whether Jesus was a sinner. John Rambo says yes – Islamic teaching says NO.

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