~ Echoes of a Voice ~

~ I am reading a really interesting article, A Way Forward For Pastor-Apologists: Navigating The Apologetic Method Debate by Joshua D. Chatraw, which discusses four echoes of God’s voice that take us beyond our everyday mundane reality (or at least push in that direction).

Chatraw sources the ideas for these four echoes from the N.T. Wright book, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. Since I do not have that book, I cannot source the original discussion and so I am just going to take notes by doing a cut and paste from the Chatraw article which can be found online (pdf).

Simply Christian

Here is the excerpt which I find fascinating:

“N. T. Wright’s book Simply Christian serves as an example of what could be called soft experiential/narratival apologetics.36

Four basic human experiences,

the quest for spirituality,
a longing for justice,
a hunger for relationships,
and a delight in beauty

(which Wright describes as the “echoes of a voice”), function as the threads that run through this apologetic.37 Wright takes up each of these signposts one at a time, connecting Christian belief with common human experience.

For instance, in reference to the “echo” of a longing for justice, Wright asserts that “simply being human and living in the world” means we have an intuitive desire for justice.38 The Christian story offers an explanation, suggesting that obtaining justice “remains one of the great human goals and dreams” because we have all “heard, deep within [our]selves, the echo of a voice which calls us to live like that.” Moreover, the Christian story explains that the source of this voice, God himself, became human in the person of Jesus Christ and did what was necessary in order that justice could ultimately be done for all.39

Essentially, what Wright is saying is, “Just about everyone has this sense that things are just not right with the world? So, what story best explains this intuition and provides the resources for us to respond appropriately? In addition to a longing for justice, Wright does this with each of the four human experiences—commending the Christian story as the best account of the human experience.”

~ The following is a book that Dr. Chatraw has recently published along with Dr. Mark D. Allen which also discusses the above issue.

Apologetics At The Cross

~ I would take notes from there however, I currently have the book in audio format only, and not in print.


NABEEL QURESHI (1983- 2017) – Statement of Faith & Hope in Eternal Life

News is getting around the net. Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, M.D. passed away and went to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer back in August 2016 and battled it until recently.  It was tough watching some of his youtube vlogs as he chronicled his journey through cancer. But now its all over. Nabeel was only 34 however his was a life well lived! Here is a short 3-1/2 minute moving testimony from one of his last messages that he gave not too long ago.

Excerpt:  ” . . . but let’s say the worst should happen and let’s say God should take me through this disease – I had all these months to prepare for it. I had all this time to spend with my wife and my daughter. More memories to make loose ends to tie up – tell my parents I love them. Write more works. Write more things to tell the world.

This didn’t have to happen. God could have taken my life just like that. The end could have come just like that. It happens for people all around the world. So who am I to say that this is a tragedy of the worst order? It’s not.

There’s much worse that’s going on in the world today but no matter what is going on I cannot think of something worse than being crucified! And of all the reasons to be crucified I cannot think of anything worse than to be crucified because I love the people who are crucifying me. To save the very people who are crucifying me – that is the worst and I think about what Jesus went through for us on the Cross.”

~ Watch it! Don’t simply read the above!!!

Sorites & Hell (2)

~ Previously I mentioned the thought that when we think in terms of small numbers of people going to Hell, we think that God is loving still. However when we say that millions and millions are going to Hell, then we step back and say something like “How could a God of love do that? A loving Go would not send so many people to Hell.”

~ This line of thinking seems to me to point to a problem of vagueness. I mean where do we set the cut off line as to how many people God can send to Hell and still be loving. If God sends N people to Hell, He is still loving, but if he sends N+1, He is not?

One possible response is that we are concerned with types of people going to Hell. Its not so much the numerics. Surely we cannot say that the likes of Stalin, Pol Pot Atilla the Hun or Mao Tse Zong are in Heaven now? Of the masses of humanity that have exist and exist there are some notable types of people who have surfaced and who have committed unspeakable evil and had unspeakably evil characters.

Surely these types of people are going to Hell and not just your every day Joe or Jane? The masses of millions are not like these types of people. So its about types. Justifiation by faith/works issues aside, the issue here is that it seems to me that Sorites-like paradox crops up once again. Another question arises, viz.,

How many sins must a man commit before he gets sent to Hell?  N sins? N+1 sins? What is the cut-off line?

Aside: I also want to note that in some theological circles there is a doctrine called the Particular Redemption.  According to this doctrine, Jesus died for His Bride, the Church only. He did not die for everyone. There are at least two versions of this doctrine. One, which I called the Accountants Model of the Atonement states that Jesus died for N number of sins. Another version states that the exact number or quantity of sins is not whats important. He died for any number of sins that His people committed. There is more going on.  I am not !00% clear on the latter version as yet.

Anyway, the point is that the Accountant’s Model I think will slip into Sorites-like thinking. Here we sin and suffering are treated as debits and credits which are then tabulated on a T-account, i.e. the Cross.  The question once again arises: Did Jesus die for N number of sins of N+1?

{HOLD: My thinking is getting fuzzy here. Need to rethink this one. So I will stop here. CB2L8R}



Atheist Fiction Writers

~ I am trying to understand something…

Suppose I am an atheistic writer who is writing a fiction novel and I am doing so because I want to produce a literary apologetic for the atheist worldview. So I write. I write a story set in our contemporary times and in lets say the Western hemisphere, say modern day Los Angeles or Chicago or Stockholm, etc.

Here is the question: If once I have finished my writing, I have basically written a novel in which the protagonist experiences various miraculous phenomena, would it make sense? I mean miraculous phenomena that within the context of a fictional work is meant by authorial intent to be present an atheistic world – would it make sense?

No? Right? I mean given an atheistic worldview, i.e. given a materialistic worldview of nothing but rock, stick, bone and atom, how can miraculous phenomena take place? Moreover if I am seeking to build up a case for atheism, then am I not in fact weakening my case, if I am present a work of fiction based on realism that in fact employs miraculous happenings?

It does not make sense right?

So here is another question: Like so, can an atheist writer of fiction utilize symbolism, foreshadowing, certain forms of allegory or irony, i.e. various literary elements in his or her writing?

Do these elements not presuppose theism? Do they not presuppose a providential outworking of life?

Take for example in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In it the Mississippi River is supposed to be symbolic of freedom.

But why say that? I have seen pictures of this river and seen it on video and its just a river to me. A bunch of molecules. There is nothing in it that even remotely says anything about freedom.

Of take for example, Hemingway’s The Old Man & The Sea which I read years ago. According to many pundits, in it the sharks are supposedly symbolic of other fisherman and the connotations are negative.  However how can a shark be symbolic of anything? A shark is a shark is a shark and nothing else.


And just so, Hemingway pointed this out when speaking of the symbolism in said book:

“There isn’t any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is the old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The sharks are sharks, no better, no worse.”


Frenchman Guillaume Bignon – Atheist turned theologian and philosopher

~ I follow this chap on twitter and have been very interested in knowing how he became a Christian. Now I have finally found his story:

How God turns a French atheist into a Christian theologian – My conversion story.

Guillaume Bignon
Guillaume Bignon

Here is an excerpt:

“I grew up in a wonderfully loving family in France, near Paris. I was the second of 3 children. We were nominally Roman Catholic, and would regularly attend mass, but this religious expression seemed to be more out of tradition and maybe superstition than a true life conviction. I certainly didn’t believe any of this was true myself, nor did I sense that people around me took it all that seriously either, though it was an important part of their lives. As soon as I was old enough (13 or so) to tell my parents that I didn’t care for any of it, I stopped going to mass on Sundays, and my life as an atheist was hardly different. My basically atheistic beliefs and values remained, and all that changed was that I was no longer required to fight boredom for an hour or so on Sunday morning while going through the motions of religious rituals and meaningless recitations. Meanwhile I grew up to be a pretty happy young adult. My dad was a mathematician and computer scientist, and my mom “religiously” devoted herself to the well-being and education of her children, from which I benefited greatly on all fronts.  … ” 

His Twitter site where I borrowed the above pic is: https://twitter.com/theoloGUI    — @theoloGUI

And … here is a video that I have yet to look at:


The Resurrection & Islam & the Western Swoon Theory (4)

3. The Western Swoon Theory 

After Jesus faints and has remained unconscious for a good while, His body is taken down and encased in cloth sheets and also about 75 pounds (= 34 kgs) of spices.  During the entire encasing process Jesus remains unconscious and does not recover.  Even the strong odor from the spices and not to mention the noise, do not wake Him up.  After being encased, Jesus is put in the tomb and a massive stone (two tons weight possibly) is rolled in front of the tomb and Roman guards are stationed.

After being just unconscious – not dead – for three days and nights, Jesus wakes up. His fainting spell is now over.  Jesus then manages to muster up enough strength to break free from all the clothing encasing that is tightly bound to Him.

What then follows are some amazing, herculean feats on His part.  Jesus, in spite of not having eaten food or drank any water for three days and nights, and in spite of having fresh wounds from his beatings, the Crucifixion, the spear piercing, and in spite of having suffered much blood loss and in spite of the dehydration and weakness, and in spite of not having received any medication for his wounds – in spite of all of this, Jesus manages to roll away the two ton stone covering the entrance.  He does this from the inside and in the pitch darkness where He has to feel his way along the walls to find the entrance.

Once outside He then beats the living daylights out of all the armed Roman guards. Although they greatly outnumber Him and are fully armed with spears, swords, whips, clubs, etc., they are no match for Him.[1]  This is indeed a surprising turn of events for Jesus never in His life, even once lifted a finger of violence towards another and moreover towards the end of His life, He famously said that one who fights by the sword, will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52).

Once Jesus has escaped from the tomb, He manages to quickly wash up, find a change of clothes and make Himself look good.  He then goes and appears to all His disciples here and there. Physically, He looks to be in pretty good condition – however He does not have a glorious resurrected body.  It is just the same old body that He had before along with some scars.

Seeing that Jesus had only fainted and now is back, the disciples rejoice and now go around telling everyone that Jesus has been resurrected from death.  They know that what they are saying is a lie but they go ahead and say it anyway.  In the meantime they pray fervently to God that their lie will not be exposed because they and the church will be persecuted and killed if they are caught.  Strangely enough for the next forty days that Jesus spends time with them, He fails to rebuke them of this lie.  Although for over three years now He has modeled and enjoined upon them a life of honesty and integrity, now He quietly approves of this falsehood.  As life moves on Jesus disappears from the scene and the disciples continue to propagate the lie side by side with fervent prayers for its progress.

Unfortunately for them their prayers are not answered and they all die for this lie.  For example, the apostle Luke goes off to Greece to preach the risen Christ.  Here he becomes a martyr and is hanged.  Matthew goes off to Ethiopia preaching the risen Christ and is martyred at sword-point.  Peter gets martyred by being crucified upside down on a cross shaped as an X.  Ultimately it is not just the apostles who are martyred.   Many persecutions break out against the church.  Under the persecution that breaks out under the Roman Emperor Nero, many Christians are put to death in a most gruesome manner.  Nero, “the beast” makes human torches out of Christians by tying them to wooden poles and then during evenings and nights, setting them on fire to provide light.[2]

At no point do the Apostles breakdown and just admit that they lied – if not to save their own lives then to save the lives of many other innocent deceived Christians.  It is all very strange.  However as the Western Swoon theory would have it, this all results in the birth of Christianity and its subsequent success. As for Jesus who never went up to be with God the Father, since He never really died and was resurrected, He simply disappears from sight.[3]

[1] There would have been at least four Roman guards in addition to any temple guards whom the Pharisees and Sadducees would have posted. See Matthew 28:11 and John 19:23.

[2] See the famous painting, Nero’s Torches by Henryk Seimiraski (1843-1902): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Siemiradski_Fackeln.jpg

[3] Note: There is another objection to the Crucifixion that I have not discussed in here because it is very rare.  This objection states that nothing happened and that the crucifixion, the Gospels, etc. are all a legend or a myth.  The problem with this objection is that it takes time for legends to develop –sometimes centuries.  That is, it often takes 3 to 4 generations before myths start to develop.  What I mean is this: Let us suppose that I go around telling to everyone that the current PM of India went to the moon last year as an astronaut.  If I say this, then not only will many people disprove this, but the PM himself can get on TV and disprove it.  Now if suppose 4 generations from now – during the lifetime of PM’s great-great-grandson, this falsehood is propagated, then it becomes much harder to disprove.  Why? For one thing there may be no witnesses around.  Like so with the Gospel accounts.  The Gospel accounts were written by not to long after Jesus’ crucifixion.  If Jesus’ miracles and crucifixion were mere myths, then Jesus’ enemies would have immediately disproven them.   None of them however wrote competing accounts to disprove it.

The Resurrection & Islam (3)

2)  How the Islamic Swoon Theory would work if it were it true:

Jesus is blindfolded, mocked and severely beaten by the Roman soldiers.  He is then scourged severely by the whip and a crown of thorns is placed on His head.  Then Jesus is led out and a ~100 pound (45 kilogram) cross is placed on His back to carry.  Already being exhausted from His prior beating, He nevertheless carries the cross up until He at one point even collapses under its weight.

Once Golgotha (i.e. the place of the skull) has been reached just outside of Jerusalem, Jesus is crucified.  While on the cross, He is even pierced on the side with a spear by a Roman soldier. There is an issue of blood and water.  However this is not a big deal.  All that happens to Jesus is a non-life-threatening pleurisy.[1]

At some point the nails on the legs and hands, the crown of thorns, the spear wound, the wounds from the scourging, the blood loss, dehydration, the gasping for air and just simply the sheer exhaustion from it all take their toll on Jesus and it becomes just too much for Him to handle, so much so that He – well He faints.  No, He does not die, He just simply faints.  Seeing this, a Roman soldier comes by later on to break Jesus knees to speed up His death and instead gets fooled into thinking that Jesus has died already and so does not break them.  However, Jesus has only had a fainting spell.[2]

At some point, while Jesus is out cold, some of Jesus’ followers figure out that He has only fainted and has not died.  On the other hand all the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Roman soldiers, the crowds, the passerby’s, and even the Apostles do not figure this out.  They are totally fooled.  They think that He really died.  So they take Jesus down and place Him in a tomb.

Not too long after this, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea go to the cave and apply some miraculous ointment on Him which enables Jesus to heal over a period of 40 days.  This miraculous ointment is known as the Marham-i-Isa (i.e. the Ointment of Jesus).  The revived Jesus then goes out and meets up with his disciples and others.  They of course are surprised and think that He has been resurrected.  As a result, they go around proclaiming to everyone that Jesus has been resurrected.  This of course is not true.  They are mistaken.  Jesus however does not bother to correct them.  Even though He has been correcting and rebuking them of their sins and errors for the last three years, now for whatever reason, He does not bother to correct them of this egregious error.

A new chapter begins now in the life of Jesus.  As the church has started to grow and his followers increases in number, He decides to leave the area for He now has a new divine mission from God.  His new mission is to go to India and search for the lost tribes of Israel.  So He goes to Kashmir, India and settles down there.

What happens to Him then in Kashmir is a great mystery. Here, He basically disappears from history.  Even though He lives there till the age of 120, there are hardly any records of His further deeds and activities there.  While all kinds of ink has been spilled noting His life and deeds in Israel, nothing much is detailed about his ~84 years in India.  There is no record of healings, miracles, teachings, etc.  He basically leads an uneventful, un-impactful, forgotten existence.  It is quite a pathetic and anti-climactic end.

The Western Swoon Theory is far more eventful.  I am going to add that also.  We might as well take a quick look at that for completeness sake. A case can be made that Mirza Gulam Ahmad’s version is based on the Western version.

[1] Normally (i.e. unlike the Ahmadiyyan account) this would indicate that the lungs have collapsed, that asphyxiation has resulted and that there has been heart failure. See “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ” by William D. Edwards, MD, Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv, and Floyd E. Hosmer, MS, AMI in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 255(11):1455-1463, 1986  http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=403315

[2] Note: For the Roman soldiers ensuring that death took place was a very serious duty.  If a Roman soldier ever let a criminal escape or failed to execute someone on death row, it would be his life for the criminals.  So it was very important for them to see to it that Jesus did die. Take a look at Acts 16:22-35. Why do you think the jailer wanted to commit suicide?

The Resurrection & Islam (2)

1)  How the Substitute Theory would work if it were true:

As Jesus is being led to be crucified, Allah decides to save Jesus by deceiving the masses of people standing there.  He does this by substituting another person in the place of Jesus.  No one notices a difference.  Not Mary, nor Martha, neither the disciples, nor the Roman soldiers, not the Pharisees and Sadducees, nor any one from the crowds of people – no one. And Allah has done a really good job because while Jesus’ face has been marred beyond recognition from the beating that He has endured, the substitute still looks just like him.

After the substitution has taken place the Roman soldiers grab him and wrestle him down to the ground and place him on the cross.  The substitute blinks in disbelief and confusion as he suddenly finds himself being placed on the cross by the Roman soldiers in order to be crucified.[1]  He screams “Where am I? What is going on??? Who are you people? Someone help me!”  The people around him jeer at him, insult and mock him because they think he is Jesus. Realizing that they are mistaking him for someone else, the substitute starts screaming back “Wait! Wait! There has been a mistake! Why are you calling me Jesus? I am not Jesus. You have got the wrong person! Stop! Please stop! Somebody please save me!” No one however listens.  As he screams, protesting his innocence, the nails are driven through him and the cross is raised.

Mary, John and others who are standing there wailing and mourning now have their hearts crushed even further. They say to each other that this “Jesus” has now also lost his mind.  They think to themselves that due to the severe agony and shock that He was in, He is now also becoming delusional.  Their grief only becomes all the more heavy.  The substitute in agony continues to scream “No! No!!! I am not Jesus! I am not him! Have mercy please! You have got the wrong man!”  Unfortunately no one listens.  Allah’s deception is perfect.  Though it may seem like a cruel trick to play on Mary, Jesus’ family and his other disciples – at least Jesus’ honor has been spared by not allowing Him to die on the cross.  As time passes the substitute’s body slumps forward in weakness and exhaustion and he dies a slow, painful and agonizing death.  Jesus in the meantime has ascended to be with Allah in Paradise.

Subsequently the disciples continue on in the belief that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross and they go around spreading this message.  To this same message however they tack on a very strange and really stupid lie and it is this: “Jesus was also resurrected.”[2]

It is an extremely stupid lie because at no point does it occur to the disciples that their enemies could very easily march down to the tomb, roll away the stone at the entrance and verify if Jesus’ body lay there or not.  So as soon as they start going around Israel publicly preaching this lie, the Pharisees, Romans and other enemies of Jesus go immediately to the tomb and roll away the stone and inspect the body to see if it is Jesus’ body.  Allah however continues to maintain the clever deception and the substitute’s body still looks like that of Jesus.  So seeing Jesus’ body in the tomb, the Pharisees & Roman officials are filled with anger and wrath.  They promptly have the disciples arrested and put in jail.  They also have Mary, Martha, Salome, Nicodemus, Zacchaeus, the widow of Nain, her son whom Jesus resurrected and many others arrested and put in jail.

It is too late however.  The lie that Jesus has been resurrected explodes on the scene.  In fact it results in the formation of a new “false” world religion, namely Christianity.[3]  The fact that this lie spreads rapidly and Allah does not do anything to stop it is a mystery. Why? One must consider that if the Crucifixion was regarded as dishonorable to Jesus, so much so that Allah had to intervene with a deception to prevent it, then for the disciples to tell people that Jesus was crucified and resurrected also continues to dishonor Jesus. So why would Allah not stop this lie from spreading? This is a mystery.  Moreover it almost seems like one could say that Allah caused this “false” religion to form with its billions of followers.  Why does Allah not do anything to stop it?

Actually Allah does do something.  After about 600 years have passed, Allah decides that the Christian Crucifixion lie has spread too far and too wide and that it is time to do something.  So Allah raises up Muhammad and dictates the Koran to him.  In the Koran, Allah devotes two whole ayas (i.e. verses) to combat the Crucifixion lie.  These are Sura 4:157-158.  This is all Allah inspires to be written out to combat the Crucifixion lie that has been spreading for 600 years.  No more.  No less.  Why only two ayas?  This is another mystery.  For whatever reason, Allah deemed that this was enough to combat this miserable 600 year old falsehood.  This becomes all the more strange, when one considers that there are other ayas in the Koran that would seem to teach that Jesus in fact died.  See Surah 5:117, Surah 3:55, Surah 2:87 and Surah 19:33-34.

That Jesus died makes sense because both Jesus and Muhammad are considered by Muslims to be the greatest prophets of Allah and Muhammad the greater of the two.  Now Muhammad died in 632 A.D. and is buried in Medina.  If Jesus however did not die but was taken up to Paradise, then we must ask, why the lesser prophet has gone up to be with Allah, whereas the greater prophet is buried in the ground. So it makes sense to say that Jesus died.

~ This in a nutshell is my take on how things generally would have been, had the Substitute theory been true.  Now we take a look at the Swoon theory.

[1] Some say that the substitute was a volunteer.  In this view, Jesus asked for a volunteer to take His place on the cross.  The problem with this view is that (1) it makes Jesus a coward, (2) it involves Jesus in the Allah’s hoax and (3) it would mean that all of the disciples knew that the person on the cross was not really Jesus.  If so then we need to ask why they then went around telling everyone that Jesus was crucified.  This would make them liars. We also need to ask why Allah did not stop this lie from spreading for 600 years, until the publication of the Koran and the formation of a major “false” world religion – Christianity.  The Bible of course teaches that Jesus was the Volunteer par excellent.  “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:18).     

[2] Some commentators say that after Allah made the substitution and took up Jesus, Jesus did return and told Mary and the other disciples what happened.  This takes us back to the problems mentioned in footnote #1.

[3] Keep in mind that quotes (“”) are often used to convey sarcasm.  Muslims do consider Christianity to be a false world religion however.

The Resurrection & Islam (1)

~ Since Easter is almost ending I want to quickly put up a post on Resurrection. Here I am concerned to point out some problems with the Islamic view of Jesus’ non-resurrection.  I pursue a style of writing that is story like in character.

Islamic and the Crucifixion

Muslims deny the Crucifixion and have two major explanations for what took place on the cross.

1)     The Substitution Theory:  According to this theory, Allah made someone look just like Jesus in appearance and this person was then crucified in Jesus’ place.  This means that Jesus did not really die on the cross.  Someone else did.  Who might this be?  Muslim commentators have proposed several candidates: Judas, Peter, the Roman soldier Titawus, Simon of Cyrene, Titanus – a supposed guardian of Jesus, and so on.

2)     The Ahmadiyyan Swoon Theory: This is a lesser known view that has been growing in popularity of late.  This theory was proposed by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908), the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam.  Ahmad apparently came under the influence of Western forms of the Swoon Theory and then concocted his own version.  In Ahmad’s account, Jesus did not actually die on the cross.  Instead He just swooned (i.e. fainted) while He was hanging the cross.  Then upon swooning, Jesus’ disciples took him down from the cross and helped to revive him.  Jesus then moved to Kashmir on a mission to the lost tribes of Israel, where He settled down and died a natural death at the age of 120.

*Note: The Sunni Muslim scholars Ahmad Deedat and Shabir Ally also hold to this.

In this paper I plan on examining the above two theories in a narratival (i.e. story like) format.  Basically I will be asking how Jesus death, crucifixion, and resurrection story would have gone, had either of the above two theories been the truthful account.  I will begin by first discussing the Substitute Theory and then second, the Ahmadiyyan Swoon Theory. In my examination of the latter theory, I will also take an extra minute to examine the Western version of the Swoon theory since it is purported to have influenced the Ahmadiyyan version.

The Apologetic Process

On Apologetic Systems…

There is

(1) What I believe – I believe things that you do not.

(2) What we believe – There are things that we believe together or hold to in common.

(3) What you believe – There are things that you believe that I do not.

~ I believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate and that He died for peoples sins and rose from the dead. You may not believe that.

~ We both may believe that chocolate ice cream is the best. We both may believe that the earth is round not flat.

~ You may believe that global warming is a dangerous reality. I may not.  You may believe that God created the world and then left it (=Deism). I do not.

The presuppositionalist starts with (1) and then goes to (3) – critiquing it. Then he or she tries to get back to (1) and then a spiral from (3) to (1) ensues.

The non-presuppositionalist (e.g. evidentialst) starts with (2) and then tries to get to (1). A spiral between (1) and (2) ensues.

Think through and work on this later…

Continuing on … {tentative thoughts…} finish later

I commented on this post at Apologetics315.com~~~> Why Telling Your Story is Not the Best Way to Share The Gospel by Leslie Keeney – The Ruthless Monk (her website) -who is up in the G-school at Liberty U. Great place.. I was up there recently to drop off a friend of mine.

Here I am processing further what I said in a comment in the above post:

.. cut …All methods are less than best or the worst way provided they … cut…

I think that’s why it says “He who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). This person knows how to match method to context. He understands context context context on a macro and micro level. How you go at it in Mali may be quite different than how you go at it in Mongolia.  How you go at it with John may be quite different from how you go at it with Jane.

Now this may cause some folks to despair. They may say “I cant be expected to know how to act and talk in every culture out there. I can be expected to know how to respond to every John or Jane or Jairam out there. There are as many contexts as there are people. What do I do? I want to be a soul winner, not a soul loser.”

In the end remember – its the Holy Spirit who converts – not you. You do the best that you can do, getting the Gospel faithfully out there in your presentation and you also pray real hard. You do your best also to handle whatever questions arise.  Grace will abound. If grace abounds when sin is present, then how much more when mistakes and error are present.  The Holy Spirit will work with what you have said. In the end it is His work – not ours. God bears the primary and heavy duty burden in Evangelism, not us.

Scratch-work Evangelism…

I heard someone say that going door to door was a bad way to do evangelism.  I also heard someone else say that all ways or methods were good. It was all good. So what gives…

(1) All methods/ways work if they are used in a context appropriate to the method and if the Holy Spirit blesses the encounter.

(2) All methods/ways work if they are used in a context inappropriate to the method and if the Holy Spirit blesses the encounter.

(3) All methods/ways fail if they are used in a context appropriate to the method and if the Holy Spirit does not blesses the encounter.

(4) All methods/ways fail if they are used in a context inappropriate to the method and if the Holy Spirit does not blesses the encounter.

~ Think through later…

~ parts/whole fallacy…

Wasn’t Hitler A Christian? ~ Quick Note

I am reading a blog post by Pastor Matt titled “Wasn’t Hitler A Christian?” and I want to make a quick comment on something he said.

“Hitler also mocked Christianity for its opposition to Darwinism. Indeed, many of his closest colleagues, Goebbles, Himmler, Heydrich and Bormann, were outspoken atheists and materialists also some were intrigued by the occult.”

My quick comment is this: It is interesting to note that that Heinrich Himmler carried a Bhagavad Geeta everywhere he went. Himmler was really interested in Hinduism. I will have to do more research on this one day… but not now.

Himmler visiting the Dachau concentration camp.
Himmler visiting the Dachau concentration camp.

Notes from Jay Smith Transcript – Polemics vs. Apologetics (3)

My 2 Cents Worth:

~ I think Jay Smith makes a very important point. Every Christian is called to do Apologetics at some level.  If someone goes around saying that Jesus was a great guru who taught transcendental meditation, you cannot sit idly by.  Even if you are not good on your feet, you can still get a book or a website link out to that person for their reading.

However not everyone is called to Polemics and if you are not, then it is better for you to just keep quiet in some situations.  I think of how many years ago, Rev. Jerry Falwell on national TV called Muhammaed a terrorist.  This resulted in there being riots and such where people were killed.  That’s an example of Polemics done improperly.  One of the reasons why early missions to India did not do so well were because missionaries engaged in Polemics first, and teaching everything else about the Bible second.

“You mean to tell me that you actually worship that piece of rock? You mean that you actually think that that rock carving is a god? Are you kidding me?”

– No. Unless you are really skillful and know your subject matter in and out and so also the people you are dealing with, unless a lot is in place, you are better off not engaging in Polemics.

Notes from Jay Smith Transcript – Polemics vs. Apologetics (2)

Jay Smith Interview
Jay Smith

My notes from Brian Auten’s interview of Jay Smith continues below:

Brian Auten: …CUT …  It brings to mind a question that I have in regards to how Christians should use that sort of information. For instance, many people would bring to light Muhammad’s very young wives, and they would try to bring that to light in their interactions with Muslims. I’m wondering if that’s wise or appropriate in their interactions.

Jay Smith: No, and I think this gets back to the question of apologetics and polemics. Polemics is going on the offense and that’s when you confront the traditions, you confront the Koran, you confront the prophet’s example. There are very few of us that should ever get into that battle. That is not for the people out there, and I hope the listeners are really listening to me on this.

Please do not use polemics unless you’re trained to! Unless you have had the training, you’ve had the background, ‘coz once you start using polemics, you’re gonna do two things. First of all, you’re gonna lose your audience, more than likely and you’re gonna enrage the Muslims. They get angry when you use polemics. If you have any doubt, just go up on YouTube and look and see what happens when I use polemics every Sunday, and I do it all the time ‘coz that is my job. That is what I’m gifted for. That is what I’ve been trained to do. I’ve had lots of experience. I’ve been doing this, I’ve been working with Islam for 29 years, almost 30 now, coming up on my third decade. Those of us who are trained to do it, let us do it. That’s not your job.

Every Christian—every Christian is given the responsibility to defend their faith and that’s why I hope the listeners really get this. Apologetics is all you’re called to do, and apologetics basically is to take the questions they’re throwing at you and respond to them. And there’s myriads of questions that are coming from their end, that’s why I love Muslims, because they’re the first to throw questions at me and at you.

Notes from Jay Smith Transcript – Polemics vs. Apologetics (1)

Jay Smith

Jay Smith is a Christian Apologist/Biblical scholar who in particular works in the area of Islam. Much of his ministry work is carried on out in the UK in various capacities, one of his most interesting ones being his public debates at the Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park.  In listening to the audio of his interview at Apologetics315.com I found some wise words from him that are worth heeding. This has to do with the distinction between Apologetics and Polemics:

Jay Smith: Now, Brian, I assume your listeners would know what we mean by apologetics and polemics. Would they?

Brian Auten: Probably most, but I don’t mind if you go ahead and elaborate on that.

Jay Smith: Let me just go ahead and do that, because I find when I go to churches, when I meet new people, they know apologetics. I don’t think anybody has a difficulty with that because we do it. Certainly, there’s lots of schools that teach it. Most schools would either have a course on it.

Apologetics is defending the faith and is much like a football team. You have your defense. You need your defense, so others don’t score against you, and that’s your apologetics and missiology or Christian work, but you don’t win games just with defense. You also need your offense,

… CUT …

Now in missiology or evangelistic terms, your offense would be your polemics.

And so apologetics is to defend. Polemics is to go on the offense, and it’s that that we don’t teach anywhere. There’s no school in the world that teaches it,

… CUT …

Paul is a great apologist. He’s also a great polemicist.

Introduction To My Lex Talionis Page

On this page, I collect links to various posts that I have written on Justice.  The idea I explore goes something along these lines…

If God does not exist then injustice is god.

What I am basically saying is that, it seems to me that in the atheist’s world, injustice is sovereign.

Why? Because the fact of the matter is that there are innumerable people who have had power, wealth, fame, status, mansions, excellent health, land, expensive cars, private jets, wine, women and song and so on, AND …

AND . . .

They have also lied, deceived, adultered, killed, robbed, slandered, brutalized, deceived, raped, oppressed, lusted, stolen, plundered, back-stabbed, caroused, coveted AND …

AND . . .

They have gotten away with it permanently.

And to top it all off they lived good loooong lives.  They went to their graves with smiles on their faces, buried in peace.  They got everything they wanted in life and more.

If our standard for justice is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, then these people not only exacted a million eyes and a million teeth from a million oppressed souls, but in return they did not give even a single eye or a single tooth.  They won! . . . No?

So if this is how justice works in this world then we must conclude the following:  In this world of ours, injustice is triumphant and crime does pay handsomely.

Or is there something that I am missing?

Because it seems to me that one could (and many do) easily reason from “This life is all we have – there is nothing beyond the grave”, to “I better live for myself and enjoy it while it lasts – even if it is at other people’s expense.” Put it another way : Suppose Pradeep has two options on how he can live his life. He can

1. have a really bad life (= e.g. chronic unemployment,  poor academic record) while still being just


2. have a really good life (= e.g. affluence, poetry readings at coffee shops, reading Plato on Caribbean beaches) while being unjust

Which would Pradeep choose? Which would you choose?

Self-Stultifying Arguments – Cataloguing

My uncle often used to say:

“There are no absolutes.”

At the time I never corrected him, however he no longer says it. The problem with the statement is obvious. I could have asked him “Is what you say absolutely true?” I.e. Is his statement an absolute? Because if it is…

Here I just want to collect some other like statements.

1) “There is no such thing as truth.”

2) “You can never know anything for sure.”

3) “God is unknowable.” Other variants: God is indescribable. Human language cannot describe God.

4) “Everything is illusion.”

5) “You can’t be certain of anything.”

6) “It is wrong to judge.”


~ Self-Defeating Statements by Apologetic Junkie

~ Self-Refuting Statements @ Cults.co.nz

~ Self-Stultifying Arguments (Unfinished) @ Glenn Miller’s Christian Thinktank

Richard Sibbes on Defense in Divine Meditations

RichardSibbes44. It is the duty of those that are God’s children when they have just occasion to take the defense of others upon them.

Thus did the blind man (John 9:30), he defended Christ against the Pharisees, and Jonathan spoke to his father in behalf of David, though he was called a rebel, yet he knew that he owed this unto the truth. God has a cause in the world that must be owned, and therefore when the cause of religion is brought upon the stage, God seems to say as Jehu did,

“Who is on my side,”


God commends His cause and His children to us.

“Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty” (Judges 5: 23).

So a curse lies upon those that when the truth suffers have not even a word to defend it.

~ Richard Sibbes was a Puritan who lived from 1577–1635. He was known as “the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes” because apparently a lot of people found comfort in his writings and sermons.  You can read a short biography here.  You can also read his Divine Meditations here.

Religious Pluralism (2)

The dialogue between Connie the conservative & Libby the liberal continues…

(1) Libby: I am a very open-minded person. I am a religious pluralist who teaches that all religious views lead to salvation.
Connie: My religion teaches that it only provides salvation. Can you accept that?
Libby: No. I cannot.
Connie: Then you reject my view in which case you are not really a religious pluralist or somewhat surprisingly, religious pluralism is exclusivistic.

(2) Libby: One religious view is no better than the other. All views are equally good.

Connie: (1) My view is that not all views are equally good which is affirmed by your “All views” view. (2) If all views are equally good, then you should not go around trying to convince others of your “All views” view because it is no better than any other. (3) If all views are equally good then I am consigned not to adhere to any religious view because I cannot decide which one to go with. I am doomed to live like an atheist, no?

(3) Libby: You should not try to convert others to your view.

Connie: What are you doing right now?

(4) Libby: It is arrogant to claim that your religion is superior to another.

Connie: The claim you just made is arrogant for the same reasons.

(5) Libby: All religions teach the same thing.

Connie: Its hard to dignify this assertion with an answer. The only possible way for someone to assert this is by being extremely ignorant of what every world religion teaches.

Shourie on Jesus’ Last Words

A short whiles back I more or less read Arun Shourie’s book, Harvesting Our Souls. The book was filled with numerous errors – not just about the Bible but many other things. I think the publisher failed to ensure a proper proofreading.

Anyway, Shourie made a claim in this book that Jesus’ last words as given in the 4 different Gospel account are hopelessly contradictory. I decided to check it out and put the relevant passages in an Excel table to see what I get. What I found was that Jesus’ words as given in the 4 different accounts mesh quite well, one with the other.

I thought I would blog my findings but am not able to post the excel table here due to the width constraints of this blog. So I opened up a divshare account and uploaded it. The file can be accessed here:
The Last Words of Jesus


Keep two things in mind w.r.t. the relevant passages:
1) There are somethings that Jesus says loudly (i.e. He cries out) and some things softly (i.e. much less loudly). Only those who are at the base of the cross can hear the things that he says softly. John is one of them (John 19:250
2) Jesus cries out two times.

w.r.t = with respect to

Intriguing Kenneth Boa Quote

In a online lecture @ the C.S. Lewis Institute given by Kenneth Boa, I heard something very interesting to think about so I wrote it down. My notes are below in blue and if you want to – you can get to Dr. Boa’s website by clicking on his photo below.

“The evidence continues to grow – at the same time however there is still going to be the capacity that people have to turn away from that.”

“I believe that God has apportioned the evidence in such a way that there is always enough evidence to satisfy the heart and mind of a person who would receive the truth but also just enough ambiguity to justify a person’s rejection of the truth. I believe He does this because He so treasures our capacity as people in the image of God to make true decision and moral decisions that are not coerced.”

“What I find interesting however is that as skepticism increases, so does the evidence. So that God continues to keep up that balance. . . . As skepticism increases, God bumps up the ante of evidence.”

Saintly People

People ask:
~ If X was so good, how could a good God reject him? Because after all there is something wrong in rejecting the good. If you reject the good, you must be bad.

I ask:
~ If Christ was so good, how could a good X reject Him? Because after all there is something wrong in rejecting the good. If you reject the good, you must be bad.

Why would a good person reject Christ?

Why would a good person reject what is good?

Quick Note from Comparative Secularism in a Global Age.

The following is a jot from T.N. Madan in the chapter titled Indian Secularism: A Religio-Secular Ideal.

“What makes this demographic datum potentially dangerous to the civil society and the polity is the very uneven distribution of religious identities: approximately
82 percent Hindus,
13 percent Muslim, and
2 percent each Christians and Sikhs.
The remaining
1 percent accounts for dozens of communities, including Buddhists, Jains, Jews, and Zoroastrians.

… I will not go into the internal heterogeneity of Hindus and Muslims beyond mentioning that a considerable number of politically mobilized, traditionally oppressed, lower caste communities do not consider themselves Hindus any more, nor is it right to regard all tribal religions as Hindu in some sense.

[~The structuring of the paragraph is done by me to make for easier reading.]
~ I am surprised that Buddhism is just like 1%.
~ And that there are still Jews in India? Go figure.

Socrates & Ignorance – CB2 L8R and think this through…

The following are excerpts from Anthony Kenny’s book, Ancient Philosophy.

pg. 42
“For according to Socrates virtue and moral knowledge were the same thing: no one who really knew what was the best thing to do could do otherwise, and all wrongdoing was the result of ignorance.”

~ Basically Socrates is claiming that no one voluntarily does evil, and that vice was basically ignorance.

~ Doesn’t sound right does it?

Jesus’ Last Words – Notes

Matthew 27:46-50 (KJV)

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI? that is to say, MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?
47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
50 Jesus, when he had CRIED AGAIN WITH A LOUD VOICE, yielded up the ghost.

What we are told here:

~~~> We are told that Jesus cries out loudly, two times. Once in v.46 and then again in v.50. So Matthew gives us two loud cries of which he does not specify the contents of the second cry.

Mark 15:33-37 (KJV)

33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI? which is, being interpreted, MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?
35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.
36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.
37 And Jesus CRIED WITH A LOUD VOICE, and gave up the ghost.

Mark repeats what Matthew said.

Luke 23:44-46 (King James Version)

44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
46 And when Jesus had CRIED OUT WITH A LOUD VOICE, he said, FATHER, INTO THY HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

What we are told here:

~~~> We are told in v.46 that Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit.”

This likely corresponds to the second loud cry mentioned by Matthew.

John 19:25-30 (KJV)

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, WOMAN, BEHOLD THY SON!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, BEHOLD THY MOTHER! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I THIRST.
29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, IT IS FINISHED: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

John unlike the other three evangelists, records what takes place near the cross.  At the cross, Jesus speaks to those nearby and here there is no need for loud cries. The three however record what is seen and heard from a distance. They would not have heard his conversation with Mary, John and his statement “It is finished.”

Some Notes on Genealogies (Yawn… Right?)

Notes from Michael J. Wilkins’ The NIV Application Commentary, pgs. 57+

Apparently during the OT times, genealogies were kept not simply so that the folks could trace their way back to certain ancestors and stuff but also served in practical and legal capacity to “establish a person’s heritage, inheritance, legitimacy, and rights. Knowledge of one’s descent was especially necessary, if a dispute occurred, to ensure that property went to the right person.”

Ok. So genealogies served varied purposes. They were not just about showing who was a great-grandfather.

Wilkins points out the fact that the records of many political and priestly families were kept in the temple in Jerusalem. These official extrabiblical genealogies were lost when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in AD 70. So what was left were private genealogies owned by some people.

Why is this fact important? Well. It seems to me that this means that it is very difficult for us to do comparative research on genealogies, where we try to compare the genealogies in Matthew and Luke with extra-biblical genealogies.

Ok. Some differences between the genealogies in Luke and Matthew:

1. Matthew’s genealogy is descending, Luke’s ascending.

2. Matthew’s genealogy has more of an emphasis on Israel. Luke’s encompasses all of humanity.

(Note that Matthew uses the term Messiah to describe Jesus. A Jew would understand this term immediately whereas a gentile would need to be become familiarized with it. Similarly so with Matthew’s mentioning the Babylonian Exile, his pointing out the fact that David was a King.)

3. Luke and Matthew follow their lines through different people and additionally Matthew omits several names found in Luke’s genealogy.

Right off the bat, this should signal something about the purposes of Matthew and Luke in writing these genealogies. Their purposes were different. Matthew deliberately omits names and follows a different line from Luke because he is not interested in giving us a biological genealogy. And doing this sort of a thing when writing genealogies was common during their days. Omission were not just a feature of Biblical genealogies, but so also extra-Biblical genealogies. (Another reason for the omission according to Wilkins was that this made them easier to memorize.)

4. Having said that their purposes were different we can also say that Matthew’s purpose was to give a Royal or Kingly genealogy. (In another commentary, R.T. France suggests as much.) Notice that Matthew trace goes through Solomon who was a King whereas Luke’s goes through Nathan, another son of Solomon who was not a king.

Wilkins states “… it does seem clear that Matthew intends to demonstrate Jesus’ legal claim to the throne of David. David’s greater Son, the anticipated Davidic messianic king, has arrived with the birth of Jesus.”

(Note: Yet there is something ironic about Matthew’s genealogy being a royal genealogy. His genealogy contains a list of a number of women who are gentiles and who are tainted with sexual immorality if not in actuality then at least in terms of appearances (Ruth (see Deut. 23:3), Mary, Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba). The God of the Bible is a God who makes the outcaste, an incaste.

One last thing to think about. We often tend to think of genealogies as only tracing out ancestry or descent. There are other kinds of genealogies however. Take for example, the intellectual genealogy. Here you could trace out the birth and progress of an idea by way of persons. So, X could conceive of a philosophical idea such as X-ism. Then Y, who may be X’s student may get taken by X-ism and propagate it. Z might then subsequently do the same. In this sort of genealogy, we may metaphorically say that X is the father or Y, however we do not mean it literally.

Arun Shourie, 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 & Circular Reasoning? (Part 2)

In a previous post, I mentioned that I came across something in Arun Shourie’s book, Harvesting Our Souls: Missionaries, Their Design, Their Claims that just did not make sense. He charged Paul with circular reasoning in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19.

In my previous post, I analyzed the passage to the best of my ability and could not find any circular reasoning in it. So, in this post, I am going to take a look at Arun Shourie’s “reasoning” on the matter. Perhaps he is able to see something that I am not able to.

On page 153 of Harvesting Our Souls, Shourie quotes 1 Cor. 15:12, saying that Paul has asked a question. Then Shourie goes on to quote v.12-19, saying that this is Paul’s answer to the question. Regarding this, Shourie then says:

“A textbook example of circular ‘proof’! Jesus must have risen. For if he did not rise, we, the Apostles, have been spreading falsehood; and you – that is, those who believe what we have taught you to believe – continue in sin; those who have died believing that he rose are imperiled; and we are deprived of any ground of hope beyond this life. As it cannot be that we are false, as it must not be that your faith has been misplaced, as those who have already died must not be left to perish, as the reason for hoping beyond this life must somehow be sustained, Jesus did rise! QED”

Ok. So let us take a look at some of this. Lets dissect the above and clean it up a little (e.g. get rid of any extraneous comments) so that we can see the argument clearly.

Jesus must have risen.
For if he did not rise,
we, the Apostles, have been spreading falsehood;
and you – that is, those who believe what we have taught you to believe – continue in sin;
those who have died believing that he rose are imperiled;
and we are deprived of any ground of hope beyond this life.

As it cannot be that we are false,
as it must not be that your faith has been misplaced,
as those who have already died must not be left to perish,
as the reason for hoping beyond this life must somehow be sustained,

Jesus did rise! QED”

In Shourie’s argument there is a conditional (i.e. if-then statement) whose consequent (the then part) is not stated explicitly. For purposes of clarity, I will make it explicit. I will also add some labels (c1, c2, etc.) for the listed consequences. Ok. Here it is…


[X] Jesus must have risen.
[1] For IF he did not rise,
[THEN] (c1) we, the Apostles, have been spreading falsehood AND (c2) you – that is, those who believe what we have taught you to believe – continue in sin [AND] (c3) those who have died believing that he rose are imperiled AND (c4) we are deprived of any ground of hope beyond this life.
As it cannot be that we are false,
as it must not be that your faith has been misplaced,
as those who have already died must not be left to perish,
as the reason for hoping beyond this life must somehow be sustained,
[3] Jesus did rise! QED”

Ok. Two comments:
a) C is the conclusion. It is not a premise! Note that Shourie’s next statement begins with a “For”
b) Shourie means for [2] to contain a set of contraries matching up with the consequences in [1]. He has not written this out very well but for his argument to work that has to be the case. Otherwise things get even worse for him.

I know that this is a bit laborious but lets do another cleaner rewrite and use logical notation for the AND.

[X] Jesus must have risen.
[1] For IF Jesus did not rise, THEN ((c1) ∧ (c2) ∧ (c3) ∧ (c4)).
[2] As it cannot be that ((c1) ∧ (c2) ∧ (c3) ∧ (c4))
[3] It must be that, [X]! QED

A final go again and let us use ‘C’ to stand for c1, c2, etc.

[X] Jesus must have risen.
[1] ~X → C
[2] ~C
[3] [X]. QED!

Now… If anything, what we have up above is not a “A textbook example of circular ‘proof’!”. No. What we have is rather, a textbook example of a reductio ad absurdum! This is a form of argument wherein you assume the negation of a conclusion and then demonstrate that what follows is absurdity.

Jesus must have risen, for if He had not risen, then … these consequences follow. But we know that that cannot be the case. Reductio…

Arun Shourie, 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 & Circular Reasoning? (Part 1)

My area is not Biblical Studies or exegesis and especially not Philosophy, but I came across something in a book that I am reading that just did not sound right. The author said that in 1 Cor. 15:12-19, Paul commits circular reasoning while trying to prove that Jesus rose from the dead. Is this so?

Well let me say that first off in the passage under discussion, Paul is not even trying to prove the resurrection! And second off, as far as I can tell there is no circular reasoning. Lets take a look. The passage and my analysis are down below.

BTW, the book that I am reading is titled Harvesting Our Souls and it is by Arun Shourie. The book is rife with erroneous reasoning and much of its commentary on biblical passages and on the scholarly sources (liberal btw) that he consults belie an inattentive and careless reading. It is surprising to see such writing from Arun Shourie because, he is a noted journalist in India and also holds a doctorate from Syracuse University.

Anyway… Here is the passage. It is a set of conditionals (if-then statements). I have colored some of its parts, made some of it bold and supplied some implicit “then”‘s.

12. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, [then] how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
14. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
15. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
16. For if the dead are not raised, [then] not even Christ has been raised.
17. And if Christ has not been raised, [then] your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
18. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
19. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, [then] we are of all people most to be pitied.

Ok. Now I am going to shorten the above in the following manner.
a) I will remove 16 since it is more or less the same as 13.
b) I’ll remove 15, 17-19 also since they are just listing out various consequences that follow if Christ has not been raised.
c) I’ll change the word “preaching” in v.14 to “proclamation” since they mean almost the same thing.

We get:
12. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, then how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13′. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
14′. And if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain and your faith is in vain.

a) I’ll put 13′ and 14′ together since P=>Q, Q=>R gives P=>R.
b) I’ll remove the consequence “your faith is in vain” for the purpose of clarity. (I am trying to understand how this guy arrives at the charge of circularity.)

I get ~~~~~>
12. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, then how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13”. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then our proclamation is in vain.

And . . . as far as I can tell . . . there is no circularity.

Question: How do we know that the Holocaust took place? It is proclaimed by survivors by print and also visual media.

12”. Now if the Auschwitz is proclaimed as having occurred, then how can some people say that the Holocaust never took place?
13”’. Because if the Holocaust never took place, then all these reports about Auschwitz are false.

So its like saying – while there is evidence for the Holocaust having taken place and yet there is in particular incredible evidence for the Auschwitz having taken place. So if we know that Auschwitz took place then how can some people say that the Holocaust never took place?

And folks, if the Holocaust never took place then what are we to do then with all this evidence for Auschwitz?

The key is the first verse cited above.