Archive for October, 2011

Recent Email from a Friend’s Account

October 12, 2011

Someone claiming to be my friend and writing from my friend’s account wrote:

We’re writing this with tears.My family and i made a quick trip to Madrid Spain on a short vacation and we got mugged at the park of hotel where we stayed. Worse of it was that our bags, cash and credit cards were all stolen at GUNPOINT leaving us penniless right now.
It’s was a horrible experience for us and we need help flying back home,the authorities are not being 100%  supportive but the good thing is that we still have our passports. we need some cash to settle our bills and get on flight back home. please let us know if you can help.
We’re freaked out at the moment..
 

[name of victim and his wife]

Now, I know for a fact this friend is perfectly well and sitting at home on the other side of the world.  There’s no possible way this email is true.  It’s the work of someone resourceful attempting to trick my friend’s friends into sending money under false pretenses.  It’s fraud.  Very serious and disturbing fraud.

It’s not as bad fraud as claiming to be the earthly head of Christ’s church, but it’s fraud nonetheless.

Beware!

-TurretinFan

Why An Old-Looking Earth? Five Possible Answers

October 10, 2011

In a comment box at Triablogue, Alex B. wrote:

Care to actually answer the question as to why your god would create a universe that looked old if he know that it would lead people from him?

I answer:

Alex didn’t explain why he wants this question answered.  First, however, let’s consider a few possible answers:

1) God did so, because he wanted it to lead people from him.
2) God did so, despite the fact that it would lead people from him because of a greater good.
3) God did so, despite the fact that it would lead people from him because of an equal good.
4) God did not do so, the premise that it leads people from him is wrong.
5) God did not do so, the premise that the universe looked old when God created it is wrong.

Second, let’s place an important caveat on this discussion.  Alex’s question may not be directly answered by Scripture.  Not every question has an answer in Scripture, even if it is a question that vexes the mind of a person who does not want to believe that his Creator exists.

Third, let’s consider the options.

First, possibly God specifically made the world to look old so that many people would not believe in God.  This contradicts the unspoken premise that God’s main purpose in life is to win over as many people as possible.  Nevertheless, surely it is obvious that God isn’t trying to do that.  So, the contradiction of that unspoken premise is hardly of much significance.

Second, possibly God specifically made the world to look old for some greater good.  Perhaps an old-looking universe is more comfortable to live in than a new-looking universe.  After all, a new-looking universe would be extremely hot, using contemporary scientific models for what constitutes appearance of youth in universes.

Third, possibly God specifically made the world to look old for some equal good.  After all, God could have made people more heat resistant and still made the universe look younger.  But then again, perhaps in this scenario, the heat resistance would have led an equal number of people from God.  This is all just speculation, of course – but since the question calls for speculation, why not speculate?

Fourth, there isn’t really any evidence that what leads people away from God is the appearance of age of the universe.  After all, people turned away from God even before modern cosmologies began claiming that the world was 13 billion years old.  So, the apparent age of the Earth may simply be an excuse of contemporary atheists and agnostics rather than the actual reason.

Fifth, the idea that the world “looks” old is largely subjective.  It depends on the presuppositions that one brings to the table.  21st century naturalistic assumptions lead one to conclude 13 billion years or so as the age of the universe.  Yet God has not left us to make assumptions.  Genesis provides a cosmology.  Using that cosmology as one’s starting point, the world doesn’t “look” 13 billion years old.

-TurretinFan

By the way, Fred Butler has provided his own thoughts relevant to the question.

Matthew Lankford: "The Idolatry of John MacArthur"

October 10, 2011

My friend Matthew Lankford has posted a new video in which he addresses John MacArthur’s position on images.

One thing I like is that while Matthew responds firmly to MacArthur’s position, he also shows (quoting from MacArthur himself) that this should be a matter of consistency for MacArthur, rather than being a matter of a fundamental change.

-TurretinFan

Questions Steve Ray Thinks "Bible Chrisians" Can’t Answer – Answered

October 4, 2011

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?” 

Enjoy!

-TurretinFan

TurretinFan’s Criticism "May Be True" Per Hubner

October 4, 2011

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.

-Turretinfan

Supporting the Arabs with Unsound Arguments

October 1, 2011

Suppose someone argues this:

The first is McMahon-Hussein Correspondence, which promised that the Arabs would have their own state in Palestine. This promise was given in hopes of gaining Arab support for the British war efforts against Turkey. The British High Commissioner Sir Henry McMahon promised the following to the Arabs (Oct 24, 1915) in a letter to Hussein Ibn Ali, Sherif of Mecca: (quotation) So the British promised the Arabs an independent stable state – presumably the land/or within the land of Palestine.

Notice that I’ve omitted the quotation that was in the original. We’ll come to it in a second. If this use of sources is proper, what should the quotation show? It should show:

  • A promise.
  • To “the Arabs”
  • That they would have “their own state”
  • That it would be “in Palestine.”
  • That it would be “independent”
  • That it would be “stable”

After all, that is how this evidence is being sold: “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.”

What does the quotation actually say?

(1) Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognise and support the independence of the Arabs in all the regions within the limits demanded by the Sherif of Mecca.
(2) Great Britain will guarantee the Holy Places against all external aggression and will recognise their inviolability.
(3) When the situation admits, Great Britain will give to the Arabs her advice and will assist them to establish what may appear to be the most suitable forms of government in those various territories…
I am convinced that this declaration will assure you beyond all possible doubt of the sympathy of Great Britain towards the aspirations of her friends the Arabs and will result in a firm and lasting alliance, the immediate results of which will be the expulsion of the Turks from the Arab countries and the freeing of the Arab peoples from the Turkish yoke, which for so many years has pressed heavily upon them.

So, it actually promises the Arabs freedom from the Turks (one group of Muslims from another group of Muslims).  Does it promise to build any Arab states?  No.  What about anything Palestinian?  Palestine isn’t even mentioned as such.

It seems that that author of the argument is blissfully unaware of the reality of the massively powerful and expansive Ottoman Empire (based in Turkey, but expanded all over) and the perceived English need to have the Arabs fight the Turks during World War I.  Whether the author of the argument is unaware or not is hard to be sure, but his argument does not seem to recognize the difference between declaring that the Ottoman empire has to let a region go (what the cited McMahon-Hussein Correspondence was all about) and some kind of Arab nation-building (which wasn’t the topic of the correspondence).

The author of the article writes:

Of course, “Palestine” isn’t specifically mentioned. 22 years later the High Commissioner 22 would say he never technically promised a Palestinian Arab state with these words (see McMahon’s letter in London Times, 1937), even though that’s how the Arabs understood it.

But the letter he references actually states:

I feel it my duty to state, and I do so definitely and emphatically, that it was not intended by me in giving this pledge to King Hussein to include Palestine in the area in which Arab independence was promised. I also had every reason to believe at the time that the fact that Palestine was not included in my pledge was well understood by King Hussein.

So, the author of the letter didn’t say X, later says he didn’t mean X, and also claims that his correspondent understood that.

(original article to which this post responds)

-TurretinFan


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