Friday, 28 April 2017

A Few Thoughts on Jonathan McLatchie's Arguments for the Holy Spirit

Jonathan McLatchie claims the evidence for the Holy Spirit is the continuous sanctification of the believer, causing him or her to grow in holiness. 

But this is at loggerheads with what we observe within Christian communities. If Jonathan truly believes the Holy Spirit works within Christians then how can he explain why Christians are often surpassed by other faith groups in self-discipline (avoiding sins) or the fact 75% of Christians are mired with struggle with pornography?

Christian men view Internet porn more than once a month, with a further 20% admitting that they succumb to temptation every so often. That’s 75% of Christian men engaging with pornography on, let’s say, a monthly basis. [Martin Saunders]

If, as Jonathan believes, the Holy Spirit is working on these people and leading them to become holier then why can’t they break free from their struggles with pornography? Now, other men of other faiths can manage to resist the temptation of pornography, Jonathan McLatchie presumably believes this is done without the Holy Spirit. So is this not proof enough to suggest Jon’s argument for the Holy Spirit being within Christians is spurious at the very least. Surely, Jon as a fundamentalist Christian, would not want to suggest non-Christians are capable of greater moral feats than those led by the Holy Spirit?

Sourced from Ed Atkinson's FB comments

To throw another problem at Jon’s reasoning, what of those Christians who have been in the church for decades promoting and defending church doctrines and then leave the church because they apostatize? Doesn’t that not throw a spanner in the works for Jon’s claims of the Holy Spirit working within Christians and causing them to grow in [Christian] holiness. If this is the case why are we seeing older Christians leaving Christianity, surely if this was the case no decades-old Christian would leave the faith?

The Bible Answer Man, Hank Haanegraaff, is thought to have left Biblical Christianity, in some quarters, recently despite his long term service for Jonathan’s beliefs. I’m sure Jon, I and others can find other such examples.

Paul of Tarsus in Galatians 5 lists what he believes is the fruit of the Spirit:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Notice, this is stuff you can observe in a Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh, Jew or even dare I say an Atheist. But also notice the words peace, gentleness and meekness – our Christian friends may be a little surprised to see a couple of rabbis suggesting Christians are arguably the most violent people in history. How is this if Christians have the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit leads to peace and gentleness? How can other groups (Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims etc.) be seen as more peaceful and gentle than Christians?

So what exactly do Christians believe the Holy Spirit gives them that others cannot achieve in character and moral standing? Should Christians not rethink their beliefs about the Holy Spirit?

Jonathan McLatchie also cites radical transformations in lives as evidence for the Holy Spirit. But hold on, non-Christians have radical transformations in their lives too.

Lastly, Jon claims Jesus was resurrected and thus believes everything ascribed to Jesus in the Bible. This is circular reasoning. He gets the view that Jesus was resurrected from the Bible. Jon then uses this as a premise to accept everything else ascribed to Jesus in the Bible. Circular.

Actor Riz Ahmed Abused by Islamophobes

Actor Riz Ahmed, who plays Bhodi Rook in the Star Wars movie Rogue One, has not escaped the abuse of online Islamophobes/racists.

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Image may contain: 1 person, text

Christians having dreams and converting to Islam

Learn about Islam


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Justin Brierley, do you Believe Jay Smith's "Hyperbole" Excuse?

Also uploaded here and here

Jay Smith of Pfander Centre for Apologetics  made the claim of Muslims banning ham in Harrow. Harrow is an area in London of 200,000 people.

Jay Smith got caught out on this. He got mocked online and was confronted in person over his claims to the amusement of his colleague Lizzie Schofield. I think Justin Brierley of Premier Christian radio was notified about hamgate too.

Jay Smith, being the man of self-preservation he is, jamp on camera and claimed to have been using “hyperbole”. Guess he must have thought Christians will just believe him by accepting his words uncritically. Jay Smith, there are smart Christians out there who will feel uneasy with your “hyperbole” explanation. Remember, you’re not only talking to people who are part of your group and presumably receive wages from your organisation or asylum seekers who have converted to (or pretended to convert to) Christianity to help with their asylum stay in Europe who presumably don’t have a clue what Harrow is or are worried they will get sent back to Iraq to be bombed by other Iraqis or by Christian nations like America.

I hope those other Christians do have a word with you.

As for his “hyperbole” claims, they don’t compute with what he actually said. Smith made the claim he cannot get ham anymore in Jarrow because Muslims/Islam banned it.

He’s now back-tracked claiming he was only talking about a local Subway. Hmmm, OK, why didn’t you just say it was one store near you in the first place (if that was the actual case)?!

But having said that, if you search Subway's store-finder you’ll see there are Subway outlets in that area search which do serve ham (i.e. they are not halal). I did call a few of the branches that came up after searching for “Harrow”. Some did sell ham and others didn’t . You can see from the search results which are halal and which are not halal.

Not only this, the biggest claim of them all is that which breeds resentment amongst the far-right and fires bigots up to even attack Muslims. It’s the claim that Muslims have banned ham.

This again, is just not true. Smith has a habit of making statements that just aren’t true.

A spokesperson for Subway said the halal-only stores reflect the diversity of Subway customers.
[Plymouth Herald]

Subway are on record indicating they choose which stores are halal-only based on the demographic:

“We put a programme into place in 2007 to ensure that the population demographic is taken into account when new store openings are considered in order that we meet consumer demand in each location.
[Plymouth Herald]

As the Plymouth Herald points out none of the branches in Plymouth are going to become halal because there are only about 2000 Muslims in Plymouth according to the 2011 census.

It’s business sense from Subway. Subway aren’t being forced by Muslims to do this. Subway has simply targeted Muslim custom by making some branches in areas populated with more Muslims halal-only. The hate preacher Jay Smith can surely see this or is he so self-radicalised that he cannot see how wild-eyed he comes off as?

Let me get this straight, Jay Smith, if not lying (or perhaps in his vernacular using “hyperbole”), has a local Subway which is halal-only. He’s upset about this. What do you want that Subway to do? They are probably competing with a load of halal takeaways and other food outlets etc. in an area packed with Muslims. Do you want them to not try and get their custom and thus probably fold (meaning people lose their jobs!) or do you want them to try and get Muslim custom?

And why in the world are you, a bloke who “expects” to be killed by Muslims someday, living amongst so many Muslims? Perhaps you’re just lying about your locality and you don't actually live in a highly Muslim area where there is a halal-only Subway – I wouldn’t rule that out. Lizzie Schofield, Sarah Foster or Beth Grove can you help us out?

Does your Bible* not teach double minded men are unstable in all their ways? See James 1:8

Oh Jay would you like to go on record and claim you were using “hyperbole” when you claimed a crowd of Muslims (40/50) told you they will kill you at Hyde Park Speakers Corner? And how about that nutty Petra conspiracy theory stuff you come out with, is that “hyperbole” too?

*In case you’re wondering what the Bible is Jay, it’s the book you lost confidence in a looong time ago, I suspect you used have confidence in it being inerrant in your early years. Perhaps this is behind your antagonism and resentment towards Islam and Muslims, your dialogue with Muslims made you see your fundamentalist Christian views were false. Am I reading you like a book, Jay?

James White's Comments Rebuke Arguments of Jay Smith and David Wood

How Jay Smith, Beth Grove, Usama Dakdok and David Wood contribute to the apostasy of Christians

Pfander Films Questioned Over Conversion Figures. Speakers Corner

A few comments from James McGrath on Resurrection and Claims of History

A few comments from Prof. James McGrath I want to share pertaining to the historical method and the way Christian apologists try to argue for the resurrection story historically.

Since historical study deals only in probability, if Christians’ affirmation of Jesus’ resurrection is about the historical question of what happened to his body after being placed in the tomb, then the most Christians can affirm is that the body of Jesus had almost certainly vanished from the tomb. They could presumably further assert, without transgressing the limits of historical inquiry, that it is not impossible that Jesus rose from the grave. Clearly such language will seem a poor and inadequate expression of Christian faith. Even if it were possible to have more confidence about the matter using historical tools, it would still only allow one to say that Jesus probably rose from the dead – a statement that would still be judged a far cry from a Gospel that one can proclaim!

The problem is not with either history or faith at this point. The problem is that Christians often wish to make historical claims without having sufficient historical evidence, as well as at times confusing theological affirmations with historical ones. The question will need to be asked therefore whether resurrection faith is really supposed to be about history at all, whether it is an affirmation about the whereabouts of a corpse. To many Christians, resurrection faith seems to be an affirmation of a different sort altogether.

I am grateful to Kris Komarnitsky for sending me a copy of his book
Doubting Jesus’ Resurrection: What Happened in the Black Box? For some, the title may seem appealing, while to others it may be disturbing, but when it comes to historical study, the simple fact is that there is no way for a historian not to doubt the resurrection – or to put it more precisely, a historian cannot but raise questions about the historical factuality of the early narratives that tell the resurrection story. To paraphrase Bart Ehrman (the actual quote is here), there are any number of improbable historical scenarios for which there is no evidence whatsoever, but which are nevertheless inherently more likely than that an individual who had been dead entered into the resurrection life of the age to come. In addition to legitimate skepticism about unparalleled claims, a historian is trained to ask about cultural-historical dynamics and other forms of explanation on a human level.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Solas CPC Rebuked by Muslim

This was a testament to the inconsistent way in which minimalists in the apologetics community argue, specifically minimalists who rely on Dr Mike Licona.

Dr Andy Bannister shared his Solas video on the resurrection story on a FB group:

Did Jesus really rise from the dead? The story of Jesus’ resurrection is central to Christianity but few people are aware that there are powerful historical reasons for believing in it. This Easter, perhaps the choice isn’t lazy skepticism or blind faith, but faith in the Jesus of history. This latest SHORT/ANSWERS episode will help you see Easter in a fresh light

My response to Dr Bannister was to probe his views on the biggest resurrection story in the Gospels (that of the many saints in Matthew):

Wonder if Dr Bannister believes in the biggest resurrection story in the Gospels. That's the one of the many saints in Matthew. Clearly folks at that time were making up resurrection stories - Matthew clearly did make up the biggest resurrection story. So if they could make up the biggest story about resurrection what of the story about Jesus? Hmm

Dr Andy Bannister’s response was polite enough but he did fall in to obvious inconsistency by picking on my use of Prof Geza Vermes and describing it as inconsistent as I don’t agree with all of the late Prof. Vermes’views.

Thanks, Yahya. In return, perhaps I should ask if you agree with Muslim scholar Tarif Khalidi that the Qur'an's presentation of Jesus is "non-historical" and "not historical, but an argument" — see Khalidi's excellent little book "The Muslim Jesus". On the issue above, have a read of Mike Licona's massive — it covers the issues you raise among others. (I'm intrigued to find you recommending Geza Vermes, given the implications of what he argues for the Islamic view of things ... you wouldn't be cherry-picking, now, would you? :-)

Now, this notion that anybody you cite must agree with everything you believe is a fallacy. Nobody holds to this notion – it’s simply an apologetics stick to try and beat one’s opponent with. Even Christians like Dr Bannister don’t hold to it when they quote their Bible: Jesus and Paul didn’t believe in the Trinity so I guess Dr Bannister will not be quoting any purported words of such men. However, Dr Bannister cites Dr Mike Licona which puts Dr Bannister’s position in hot water as Dr Mike Licona has some very interesting views which I’d love to hear whether Dr Bannister agrees with Dr Licona:

Dr Bannister, it seems you're guilty of what you're accusing me of. Cherry picking :)

I assume you agree with everything Khalidi believes? In that case you wouldn't be a Christian...

I find it fascinating you cite Dr Licona and also talk about using scholars who agree with all of one's worldview. OK guess you will follow Dr Licona in believing the Gospel attributed to Matthew may have been changed and heavily edited

Whilst we are at it, I assume you also believe the NT could change in the future with the addition of another book

And you also believe Mark (who traditionalists believe was inspired by God) was confused

Guess you also agree with Mike on the 4th century doctrine of the Trinity - you don't know whether it is something a Christian has to believe

And how about the fact Paul of Tarsus thought Jesus was going to return in his own lifetime before he began to have second thoughts..

Look, we can all play cute games of oh if you quote such and such guy then you must believe everything he says. Life doesn't work like that.

At the end of the day we need to start looking at the theology of Christians and start asking whether it conforms to the theology of Jesus. Jesus didn't believe in the Trinity, so why do you believe in it? Jesus didn't believe in blood sacrifice, why do you believe in it?

Theology matters. Let's discourage folks from being bound by the religion of their friends of family because of some sort of indentitarianism - let's encourage truth seeking. Ask yourself about the Trinity. If the doctrine of the Trinity is refuted it shows Christianity to be a false ideology. It has been refuted. Nobody in the first century had any knowledge of this ideology. This is so important for Christians to see, associating partners with God is a departure from the 1st commandment. Please look into this. I say this because I care. I say it with a loving heart.

Analysing Richard Lucas' Heretical Understanding of Trinity

Solas' Andy Bannister Presenting Intellectually Dishonest Arguments on New Testament Reliability

Christian Missionaries and Pakistan's Valentines Day Ban

A Muslim's Thoughts on Solas CPC's + Other Christian Campagins Against Same Sex Marriage in the UK

Did Ignatius Teach the Trinity?

Thoughts on the Hamza Myatt, Liz Mooney, Chris Claus and Jonathan McLatchie Exchanges

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Lizzie Schofield Ignoring Facts and Reasoning - Child Brides

Lizzie Schofield of Pfander Films really tries her best to shoehorn religion (well, Islam) into the factors behind child marriage although the ICRW, who know much more than her about the topic, don’t put it down to any religion. But hey, Lizzie has an anti-Islam agenda and even has the effrontery to claim she's doing such (i.e. her propaganda)for the sake of the child brides:

What are the contributory factors in child marriage? According to Girls Not Brides, poverty, lack of education, cultural practices and gender inequality are the problem. What about religion? Girls Not Brides doesn’t mention it, though there are (coded?) references to “patriarchal values.” The ICRW states “no one religious affiliation is associated with child marriage. Rather, a variety of religions are associated with child marriage in countries throughout the world.” Hang on: isn’t that a bit vague? Don’t we owe child brides something a bit more specific than this? Especially when the rest of their website crackles with statistics.

“If present trends continue, 150 million girls will be married before their 18th birthday over the next decade. That’s an average of 15 million girls each year.”

For the sake of 150 million girls, shouldn’t we also do the neglected work of scrutinising the religious reasons that might also contribute to this practice? Or are we too afraid to?

I'm on the same ICRW page as Lizzie. She either overlooked an important point or two or just didn't read it fully. Along with the ICRW stating no religion is to blame, which to her credit she acknowledges, the ICRW mentions countries/regions of various majority religions which have high child marriage rates or which have seen a decline based on educational initiatives.

Countries with the highest prevalence of child marriages are concentrated in West and Sub Saharan Africa according to the ICRW. Liberia (85% Christian), Uganda (85% Christian) and Cameroon (70% Christian) are all in Unicef's top 6 for women aged 20-24 who had their first birth before the age of 18.

Notice, all these countries are CHRISTIAN majority nations!

It kind of stops Lizzie in her tracks! But she's doing it "for the sake of" all these girls, right? Wrong, she appears to be circumnavigating the facts and the experts on the ground in an effort to spread propaganda for the sake of her agenda – an anti-Islam agenda. Sad.

Clearly it's poverty which is directly proportional to higher prevalence of child marriage. Lizzie would have accepted this if she chose to simply take the ICWR at face value rather than entertaining a wild Jay Smith-esque conspiracy theory of the researchers being afraid to list Islam as a factor!

Folks like those at Lizzie's Pfander Centre for Apologetics are residing in bubbles of Western liberalism and seem to equate British laws with Christianity. Yeah, like gambling, sex-before-marriage, adultery, divorce and gay marriage are all Biblical! And to shove the proverbial pin into Pfander Ministries's bubble, I’ll tell Lizzie that Britain’s age of consent of 16 is not Biblical – the Bible allows sex before the age of 16. Are you shocked and horrified? If you are then you’ve been living in that bubble, welcome to a world of clarity. Biblical age of consent is puberty.

Something else which Lizzie has not factored into her views:

Girls living in poor households are almost twice as likely to marry before 18 than girls in higher income households. More than half of the girls in Bangladesh, Mali, Mozambique and Niger are married before age 18. In these same countries, more than 75 percent of people live on less than $2 a day. [ICWR]

In her attempt to shoehorn Islam in as a factor, Lizzie (predictably) goes on to talk about the marriage to Aisha. She then gets to her crescendo where she suggests Christianity as a "solution" to child marriage.

Well this imaginary solution hasn't worked for the Christians in Uganda, Liberia and Cameroon. Clearly Christianity isn't taking anybody out of poverty so they can have the luxury of marrying their daughters off at more advanced ages.

Here's the thing, not everybody lives in a region of the world where we are free from poverty and have educational programs for males and females so they aren't left with the sole option of marrying daughters off early.

To be truly loving and thoughtful one needs to look at the context and recognise female infanticide and infanticide in general is more prevalent in poverty stricken regions as a "means" of restricting poverty in one's family.

Typically, in many cultures this would mean the male child is favoured over the female (as the male is more likely to be employable). Child brides are part of this poverty restricting option. If one imposes a Western standard on other regions which enjoy diametrically opposed socio-economic climates is in effect pushing people to infanticide (especially female infanticide) as the prospect of feeding and clothing daughters until 16, 18 or whichever arbitrary age the West impose on the said country is seen as bleak if not impossible for many.

This is why child marriage happens, let's be brutally honest. For many it’s literally a choice between child marriage or child (female) infanticide.

A faith which restricts marriage to a certain age (16 or 18) as Lizzie's Westernised form of Christianity seems to be doing (although Biblical Christianity does not) is pushing poorer people further towards female infanticide. Such a religion cannot be considered to be relevant to every culture and region. In fact, it can be argued that it is cruel to try an enforce those liberal values on to poor people in West and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Christianity in an earlier form (before the invention of Westernised/liberal Christianity) never had such a restriction. In fact its consent age is similar to that of Islam and Judaism

Here's a piece on Prophet Muhammad's marriage to Aisha. 

Lizzie and others who operate as "evangelists" would be better advised to spend their energy in helping to reduce poverty around the world rather than abusing the plight of these people through  obnoxious propaganda tactics.

Christian Evangelical Propagandizes Distortion of Bill in Turkey

A Christian lady called Lizzie Schofield decided to add an evangelistic tilt to a proposed bill in Turkey.

Lizzie's opening gambit betrays a simplistic and even misleading understanding of this bill, she writes, "A new law is being proposed in Turkey that will let men off assaulting underage girls if they agree to marry their victims"
No, Lizzie, you're misleading your readers here. – it is not about “assaulting” anybody. The bill specifically excludes those who used force:

The act cannot have been committed with “force, threat, or any other restriction on consent” to qualify for the pardon. [Source]

The Turkish PM was not targeting assaults but rather was focussing on couples. In Turkey when a couple have an "unofficial union" if the female happens to be under-age at the time of childbirth (presumably 18 as this is the age of consent in Turkey) her partner is sentenced to prison. This separates the father from his partner and new born. Not only this, it places an increased economic burden on the mother:

Yet the justice minister claimed campaigners were “distorting” the issue and denied the bill would legitimise rape.

“What we do is to find a solution to an ongoing problem, it is not to protect rape nor protect rapists,” he told state-owned news agency Anadolu. Instead, he argued the bill would help couples who have consensual sex when they are underage and want to marry.

“When a child is then born from this non-official union, the doctor warns the prosecutor and the man is sent to prison, putting the child and mother into financial difficulties,” he told the AFP news agency. Although the legal age of consent is 18 in Turkey, child marriage is widespread, particularly in the southeast.

So from my understanding, it seems a 20 year old male can be separated from his 16 year old partner and placed in prison based on a blanket age-of consent law (18) albeit it being a consensual relationship. This is the type of situation Erdogan's AKP political party seem to view as problematic, especially in rural regions where it is common for females to marry under the age of 18. There are various age permutations but the thrust of this bill was to ensure consensual relationships in rural areas were allowed to continue.

To even suggest the Turkish democratically elected party is going to let men off for "assaulting underage girls” is to effectively distort the bill - as the justice minister mentions. This extends way beyond distasteful propaganda narratives such as those which Lizzie is wading in. There's a lot more to it, let's try to understand a bit more rather than attempting to propagandize it for our own agendas.

The irony is, there are parallels with Lizzie's distorted take on the bill and Deut 22:28-29, which evangelicals believe is from Jesus (as the 2nd person of the Trinity doctrine). Here, it seems to be teaching a rapist is to marriage his rape victim and never divorce. Lizzie, read the NIV translation of Deuteronomy 22:28-29:

If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.
I’m not entirely sure why Lizzie Schofield of Pfander Ministries is not criticising her Bible rather than trying to "evangelise" based on a distorted view of a now scrapped bill in Turkish politics. I would also urge evangelicals like Lizzie to be responsible, if you write stuff that could make a particular nationality, ethnicity or religious group appear to be condoning rape of underage girls then you're involved in demonization of the said group - knowingly or unknowingly.