Archive for Apologetics

The Mafia, God and Justice

It has been 8 months since I last posted anything on this blog, but in that time I wasn’t exactly idle. Not only was I busy changing diapers but I also managed to complete writing my first ever book called “The Mafia, God and Justice”, which I hope to publish as an e-book on Amazon before the end of this year. Not only that but I have already started writing a novel called “Letter from the grave” which I hope to complete by March next year. Check out this blog for more details.

Comments (1)

Jehovah Witnesses say hell is unreasonable

The below article is a continuation of this fiercely debated article between myself and Emeth, a Jehovah Witness.

 

To Jehovah Witnesses (JWs), hell is a symbolic place that should never be taken to be literal. In fact every verse in the bible that mentions hell, eternal torment, lake of fire, gnashing of teeth, worms never dies, eternal destruction, etc are all considered symbolic by Jehovah Witnesses, all of them. If you were to ask a Jehovah Witness which portion of the bible is symbolic and which is not symbolic they will tell you that all references to hell in the bible are symbolic, and the rest are not. Jehovah Witnesses will also tell you that the book of Revelations is symbolic, yet they have a booklet called “Armageddon – A catastrophic end” which is based on the book of Revelations but for some reason they don’t consider this to be symbolic. All mentions of hell in the Book of Revelations are considered symbolic by Jehovah Witnesses, yet not Armageddon because it doesn’t contradict their religion.

JWs claim that God won’t send people to hell because (1) it is unreasonable (2) it is repugnant to justice (3) it is contrary to the principle of love and (4) it is entirely unscriptural. Before we look at these objections, let’s look at the issue that JWs like to bring up in conversations about hell to confuse people. If you were to ask a JW what happens after a person dies then he would say nothing then quote you this verse: “The dead are conscious of nothing at all” (see Ecclesiastes 9:5), and will probably also quote from Psalm 146:3-4 to prove their point further that dead people are actually dead. In my conversations with JWs I always wonder what point they are trying to make by quoting these verses since nobody disagrees that dead people are actually dead. In their booklet called “Where Are The Dead”, they say “We are mortal and do not survive the death of our body. The life we enjoy is like the flame of a candle. When the flame is put out, it does not go anywhere. It is simply gone.” Do JWs believe in annihilationism – a belief that when people die they result in total destruction and they will never ever live again? No they don’t! You are probably confused because it seems like that’s exactly what they believe. JWs believe in the resurrection of the dead, just as the bible teaches. They say: “You see, Jehovah promises that the dead will live again. (Isaiah 26:19) They will be brought back to life. That is the hope of the resurrection…….During a period of a thousand years, the dead will be resurrected and given an opportunity to join the faithful humans on earth in serving Jehovah.

So when JWs say nothing happens after a person dies, they actually mean nothing happens until that particular person is resurrected, along with all humans who ever lived, and appear to God for judgement. (It’s important to also note that they believe there are people who were buried outside Jerusalem who would not be resurrected because they are not worthy of a resurrection). Let us make it clear that the bible teaches the resurrection of the dead, and people would only appear to God on Judgement Day after the resurrection. So there is no disagreement at this point, except on two points. (1) The bible is clear that all dead people will be resurrected, while JWs say people in Gehenna won’t be resurrected. Jesus said “ for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out-those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:28-29). JWs says Luke 12:5 confirm their argument that those in Gehenna won’t be resurrected, but there’s no such suggestion whatsoever otherwise we would be sitting with a major contradiction. You can read Luke 12:5 yourself and determine if there is such a suggestion. Point (2) of disagreement is that JWs believe Judgement Day to be nothing but a second opportunity for those who have done evil, while Jesus said “those who have done evil will rise to be condemned”. So judge for yourself if JWs are lying or Jesus is lying. Can “condemn” mean “second opportunity”? Let’s note that other English translations use the word “judgement” (including authorised JWs bible – NWT) instead of “condemn”. Synonyms of “judgement” or “condemn” are convict, sentence, doom, find guilty, censure, denounce, revile, slam, reprimand but not a single synonym close to “second opportunity”, yet JWs say those who did evil will be given “an opportunity to join the faithful humans on earth in serving Jehovah”. In summary, people die, get resurrected, and face judgement.  

Let’s now look at the objections. Is hell unreasonable, repugnant to justice, and not consistent with the principle of love? (We’ll look at the scriptural basis of hell afterwards). These objections are interlinked, so it’s important to answer them concurrently. In my conversation with a Jehovah Witness called Kerry, she said that we can’t compare God to a judge because God should not be a judge to begin with, but rather a God of love and forgiveness. This is one of the primary arguments of Jehovah Witnesses to try and lessen the parallels between how God’s justice works compared to how our civil justice system works. But what does the bible really say? The bible says “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy” (James 4:12). For the benefit of JWs this is not the only scriptural reference, we are told that “The Lord is a God of justice” (Isaiah 30:18), “For I, the Lord, love justice” (Isaiah 61:8), and that God commands people to “maintain justice in the courts” (Amos 5:15), amongst hundreds of scriptures that refer to God as a Judge.   

How is it possible that God could give us the Law, just as every country has a Law (Constitution), yet God doesn’t expect us to obey that Law? How could God expect people to obey His Law just as every country expects its citizens to obey the Law, yet God doesn’t put measures in place for those who break His law when countries have those measures? How could God not have his place of punishment when countries have their own place of punishment – jail? How could God call Himself a Judge when He is not willing to do the judging, but He’s expected to substitute justice for love? People who suggest that God can’t be the same as civil judges forget that it was God who appointed civil judges for children of Israel (see the book of Judges). I put it to you that our justice system is based on God’s justice system, although this world’s justice system is not as perfect as God’s justice system is.   

Since we have jail for lawbreakers, then it’s very reasonable that God should have a place of punishment for all who break His Law. If people are not expected to obey the Law and suffer consequences when they don’t, then the Law should not be given at all. So to suggest that hell is unreasonable is to suggest that God was unreasonable to give us the Law in the first place. Doesn’t the bible say God’s Law is perfect (see Psalm 19:7) and wonderful (see Psalm 119:18), so how could we even suggest that it was unnecessary? Didn’t the same God say we should live by this Law, and “carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 26:16). Didn’t the same God say “you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23), or was it was just an idle threat that will never be fulfilled?

To suggest that hell is unreasonable is to suggest that no country should have jail for criminals, but rather they should be given “second opportunity” in life. I wonder what prosecutors, police officers, judges and the society at large will think of a person who says jail is unreasonable but rather all criminals should be released immediately. They’ll probably think that person is mentally handicapped, or hasn’t been in this world for a considerable time to realise the consequences of crime. If you were to go to Germany and say Nazis didn’t deserve jail or death then you’ll probably be the one who is jailed immediately, because Germans know just how wicked Nazis were. Reality is that JWs are not aware of how offensive sin is to God, that’s why they think sin deserves a slap in the wrist rather eternal punishment in hell. Do they understand how offensive was Sodom and Gomorrah to God? Do they understand what Canaanites used to do to children in their worship of Baal? For your info, Canaanites used to throw their children into fire alive so they can please their idol god called Baal. Do you think that kind of behaviour deserves a second opportunity?

JWs also say that God’s love is not compatible with the existence of hell, so we can’t expect a loving God to even think of sending people to hell. Firstly, we know that God is love, and has proved His love to us through Jesus’ DEATH on the cross. Yes, God proved His love by killing Jesus. This is what JWs believe, that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us, yet they claim God’s love is not compatible with justice. It is God’s justice that killed Jesus on the cross, because Jesus carried our sins. Secondly, are JWs suggesting that all these judges who send people to jail and death row are unloving? Are they suggesting that a person can’t be lovingly and be a lawyer, police officer, judge, or soldier because he might have to apply justice? If that’s the case then all these professions are only for hateful people, but JWs won’t admit to that because some of them are holding these professions. Love is not suspension of justice, but rather fulfilment of it. That is exactly what God showed with Jesus. He loved Jesus and He loved us, which meant He had to apply His justice on the cross.

JWs will say hell is too much a punishment hence it’s a repugnant to justice. But we know that hell is not an unjust punishment. The punishment a person gets in a court of Law is based on the number of charges he has been convicted of and the severity of them. If a person is charged with 100 similar crimes and each of them carries 1 year in prison, then we don’t expect him to get less than 100 years in prison. This is why it’s possible for a person to get 5 life sentences even though he’s only expected to live once, because he may have committed crimes that carry a life sentence each. Reality is that people sin at least 10 times a day against God, as each sin is the same as having broken all of them. This can total to more than 100 000 sins in a lifetime, in fact lying alone can get close to that number. If a person were to be convicted of 100 000 crimes in a court of law then we don’t expect that person to get 1 year in jail, but rather a life sentence at the least. God gave us His sentence in His Law, He said “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), not just death but also their part in their lake of fire (see Revelations 21:8). So 100 000 sins carries with them 100 000 death sentences. We know that this is the true measure of God’s justice because He has already proved it. For instance, He killed a couple for lying (see Acts 5), killed Sodom and Gomorrah for homosexuality and immorality (see Genesis 19), killed Nadab and Abihu for unauthorised incense (see Leviticus 10), and had a man stoned for blasphemy (Leviticus 24). So it’s of no use to debate if God is capable of punishing sinners when he has already done it before.

We are told by JWs that hell is entirely unscriptural, but there are so many scriptural references for hell which JWs consider symbolic, but for the sake of argument let us use this one story by Jesus. We are given a glimpse of a man in Hades by Jesus. In the story of the “Rich Man and Lazarus”, Jesus tell us that the rich man died, was buried and he went to Hades where he was in torment, anguish and in blazing fire (see Luke 6:19-31). In this story it is clear that the man is in Hades (translated as hell in English), because he was in torment, anguish and in blazing fire (as translated by NWT). We are told that Lazarus was not in that place. If Hades in this case is nothing but a place for dead people, then Ecclesiastes 9:5 tells that dead people don’t have consciousness, yet this man is crying out for mercy and asking for water, and in his own words he is in “anguish in this blazing fire” (NWT). So how is it possible for a dead person who is not supposed to be conscious of anything to even speak, never mind feel pain? We are told that the man was in agony, so is Hades (which is a place for dead people according to JWs) a place where people are subjected to agony, torment, anguish and blazing fire? This is a major contradiction for a JW, but we know that Jesus was referring to what we know as hell. If Hades can’t be translated as hell in English then that is not a problem. But we do know that there is a place called Hades where people are subjected to agony, torment, anguish and blazing fire, and that is a place that I’m warning you about. But since I’m not writing this in Greek, and Hades is Greek, can I call it hell – the English translation?

Comments (1)

A prophet like Moses: Jesus or Muhammad – Part 2

Muslims also claim that Muhammad is the prophet that Moses prophesied about, but we find no prophetic parallels between Moses and Muhammad, but rather we have natural parallels which are normal amongst humans. Typical parallels that Muslims bring up are that: 1) Both had normal births. 2) Both had normal deaths. 3) Both led armies. 4) Both were political leaders. 5) Both were rejected by their people but later became their accepted leaders. 6) Both brought new laws to their people. 7) Both emigrated before ultimately obtaining power. 8) Both had successors that conquered Palestine. But we know that many people had these parallels with Moses, except for number 8, and these parallels are in no way suggesting that a person is a prophet. Examples of people who had similar parallels are Pol Pot, Mao Tse-tung, Fidel Castro, and even biblical Jeroboam (see 1 Kings 11-15).

Even though the claimed parallels that Muslims claim exist between Moses and Muhammad don’t prove that Muhammad was that prophet, they also don’t exactly dismiss him either. But there are very good reasons to conclude that Muhammad couldn’t have been that prophet Moses referred to; or a prophet altogether. For instance, Moses performed miraculous signs, Muhammad didn’t: “Why are not (signs) sent to him, like those which were sent to Moses?” (Surah 28:48). Moses spoke directly with God, Muhammad didn’t: “And to Moses Allah spoke directly” (Surah 4:164). “It is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a messenger” (Surah 42:51). Moses never thought he was demon-possessed, Muhammad did (see Ibn Ishaq’s “Sirat Rasul Allah,” The Life of Muhammad translated by A. Guillaume, p. 106). Moses never tried to commit suicide, Muhammad did (See History of Tabari [1155], vol. 6, p. 76). Moses was clear-minded to the end, but Muhammad became delirious and mentally confused: (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Number 471). Moses never uttered verses from Satan but Muhammad had the Satanic Verses. (History of Tabari [1192-1193], vol. 6, p. 111). Muhammad admitted speaking presumptuously in the name of Allah, Al-at, Al-Uzza, and Manat, failing to meet the criteria given in Deut. 18:20. Moses was never bewitched, but Muhammad was (see Al-Bukhari, vol. VII, no. 658). Moses didn’t abrogate his own revelations, Muhammad did. Surah 2:106 (Pickthall) “Nothing of our revelation (even a single verse) do we abrogate or cause be forgotten, but we bring (in place) one better or the like thereof. Knowest thou not that Allah is Able to do all things?” And most importantly, Muhammad married his son’s wife, while Moses warned against doing such a thing (see Leviticus 20:12). (124).  

It is these dissimilarities between Muhammad and Moses that make us know for certain that Muhammad couldn’t have the prophet that Moses referred to, or a prophet from God altogether. Muhammad contradicted Moses in teachings and also in deeds, as such we know that he was not similar to Moses, however this gives us reasons to question if he was a prophet or not, and the answer is that he couldn’t have been a prophet. Muhammad admitted to lying in his prophecies, which makes him a false prophet and disqualifies him from being a true prophet of God, never mind being the prophet that Moses referred to. Jesus on the hand had many prophetic similarities with Moses, and He didn’t contradict Moses in both His lifestyle and teachings.   

 

Note: This article has been adapted from Cornelius’ article found here (http://answering-islam.org/authors/cornelius/like_moses.html)

 

Leave a Comment

A prophet like Moses: Jesus or Muhammad – Part 1

Muslims always insist that Muhammad is mentioned in the bible, and they quote Deuteronomy 18:18 to suggest that Moses referred to Muhammad. Deuteronomy 18:18 says “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” So is it possible that Moses referred to Muhammad? No, because the requirement was that this prophet would be like Moses: “a prophet like you”. So for Muhammad to be this prophet he would have to be like Moses, but we know that Muhammad was nothing like Moses, and they have no unambigious similarities whatsoever.   

Christians also insist that Moses referred to Jesus, but is there truth in this? As we have showed, for Jesus to qualify as this prophet He would have to have similarities with Moses that are not unambigious. You’ll be surprised to know that unlike with Muhammad, Jesus and Moses have more than 50 similarities that prove beyond doubt that Jesus was the prophet that Moses referred to:

  • During Moses’ birth, Pharaoh commanded all Hebrew male infants to be killed (see Exodus 1:23). During Jesus’ birth, Herod commanded all Hebrew male infants to be killed (Matthew 2:16)
  • Moses fasted for 40 days and 40 nights when he received the Torah (Exodus 34:28). Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-2)
  • Moses’ face shone with the glory of God (Exodus 34:29). Jesus’ face shone with the glory of God (Matthew 17:1-12)
  • Moses fed children of Israel with a supernatural manna (Exodus 16:15). Jesus fed multitudes of more than 5000 people with five loaves and two fishes (Matthew 14:19-21)
  • Moses pleaded with God to forgive the sins of his people (Numbers 14:19). Jesus pleaded with God to forgive the sins of those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34)
  • God revealed his healing power through Moses (Exodus 15:26). God healed his healing power through Jesus (Matthew 4:23).
  • Moses received the law in Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:3). Jesus fulfilled the law in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5).
  • God came to Moses in a thick cloud (Exodus 19:9, 24:16). God came to Jesus in a thick cloud on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:7)
  • God gave Moses new Commandments to teach his people (Exodus 24:12). God gave Jesus new Commandments to teach His people (John 13:34)
  • Moses chose 12 men, 1 of each tribe of Israel and sent them out to scout an area (Deuteronomy 1:23). Jesus sent out 12 men and sent them out to an evangelistic mission (Matthew 10:1)

Comments (1)

Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact #5

Jesus had at least four brothers: James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon (see Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55-56). That Jesus had a brother called James is a fact supported by archaeology and non-biblical historian Josephus. An ancient bone box dating to the first century was found with the inscription: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”. As it is well known, Josephus also mentioned James, he said “the brother of Jesus who was also called the Christ, whose name was James”. As such the historical existence of James is well-attested.

Even though James was the brother of Jesus, there is no evidence that suggests that he was a follower of Jesus before the crucifixion, or believed that Jesus was who He claimed to be. In fact we have evidence that proves that James, like his brothers, thought Jesus was a mad man. In Mark, Jesus’ family (probably including James) says about Jesus: “He is out of his mind” (3:21). In John we are told that “even his brothers did not believe in him” (6:7). One important thing to notice about James is that he was a faithful believer in Judaism, as attested by Paul, a fellow believer in Judaism at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion (see Galatians 2:12). So there is no doubt that James didn’t believe in Jesus before He was crucified.

We know that James wasn’t a believer in Jesus’ before the crucifixion, but we have evidence that James became a leader in the Christian church after the claimed resurrection of Jesus. In Paul’s visit to Jerusalem, we are told that he met the elders of the church which included James (Acts 15:12-21, Galatians 1:19). Hegesippus, an early second century historian, says “James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles”. The explanation for James’ conversion to Christianity and ascendency to the leadership of the church is because of the claim that he had an experience of the risen Jesus. Paul says Jesus “appeared to James” (1 Corinthians 15:7). We also know that James went on to be a martyr for his belief in Jesus, whom he believed was resurrected from the dead.

Comments (1)

Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact #4

Paul, a devout believer in Judaism, who persecuted believers in Jesus, tells of how he had an experience with the risen Jesus, which probably caused his radical belief in Jesus as God. In his letters to Corinth (1 Corinthians 15-9-10), Galatia (Galatians 1:13-24) and Philippi (Philippians 3:6), Paul tells of how he used to persecute believers in Jesus and how firm his faith in Judaism was, yet he went on to become a believer in the same Jesus that He used to persecute people over. Describing Jesus appearance to him, Paul said “and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (1 Corinthians 15:8).

Paul’s belief that he had an experience with the resurrected Jesus is crucial in the historicity of Jesus, as Paul was an enemy of Jesus and His disciples. A case can be made that Jesus’ disciples wanted to believe in Jesus’ resurrection because of the embarrassment and curse the death of Jesus brought to them. Think about it, Jesus’ disciples had left their employments and family so they can follow Jesus everywhere because they believed He will conquer His enemies and rule with them just as it’s prophesied by their prophets, and all of a sudden He was crucified and cursed by God. The only thing that would have saved the disciples from shame was the miraculous resurrection of Jesus, and it can’t be put past them that they could have invented the story that Jesus was resurrected and appeared to them. It can be safely concluded that the disciples were biased, and had hoped for the resurrection of Jesus for their own selfish reasons, but there’s no suggestion whatsoever that Paul had hoped for the resurrection of Jesus.

Paul was happy that Jesus was crucified, and he had intended to crucify as many of Jesus’ followers as possible. We are told by Luke in his Book of Acts how Paul was approving the stoning of a Jesus’ follower called Stephen, and how he went on a man-hunt to persecute and arrest Jesus’ follower. So we have no suggestion whatsoever that Paul would have hoped to see Jesus resurrected. As such Paul’s account of the risen Jesus is the most important piece in this puzzle as he was a foe of Jesus, and he couldn’t have invented this story as he had nothing to gain from it. Bart D Ehrman said “There is no doubt that [Paul] believed that he saw Jesus’ real but glorified body raised from the dead”.

Comments (2)

Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact #3

The Apostle Creed, dated to within 3 years of Jesus’ death, as quoted by Paul (see 1 Corinthians 15:5:6) says Jesus appeared alive to Peter, then to the Twelve, and then to the more than 500 followers of Jesus. The appearances to the disciples are multiply attested in all the four Gospels, plus 7 ancient sources which includes Polycarp who was a disciple of John and Clement of Rome who was a disciple of Peter. That the disciples believed that Jesus appeared to them alive is also seen in their sermons as recorded by Luke in the Book of Acts. For instance, Peter (a leader of the disciples) in his first recorded sermon said of Jesus: “God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death” (Acts 2:24). The disciples also understood the resurrection not to be spiritual but physical, and they understood that the appearance of Jesus to them was in bodily form.

Disciples’ belief in the resurrection of Jesus transformed their lives. They went from being doubters of Jesus’ messianic claims to being bold proclaimers of His resurrection. Peter, who had denied knowledge of Jesus and any association with Him (see Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:54-62 and John 18), was now a bold proclaimer of Jesus’ resurrection even when threatened with death (see Acts 2:14-41, Acts 4:1-21). If the disciples were fabricating the resurrection of Jesus, then they would have given up the lie when persecution broke out against them, yet we know that most of the disciples were killed for their belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Peter himself is said to have been crucified by Romans for his faith, while James the brother of John was killed with the sword. Although people’s willingness to die for their beliefs doesn’t mean their claims are true, what it does though is prove that they are sincere in their beliefs. Like Mike Licona usually say: “liars make poor martyrs”, as such there’s no evidence that the disciples were lying about Jesus’ apparent appearance to them.  

Bart D Ehrman confirmed this fact, he said “Why, then, did some of the disciples claim to see Jesus alive after his crucifixion? I don’t doubt at all that some disciples claimed this. We don’t have any of their written testimony, but Paul, writing about twenty-five years later, indicates that this is what they claimed, and I don’t think he is making it up. And he knew are least a couple of them, whom he met just three years after the event (Galatians 1:18-19)”.

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »