Thursday, December 26, 2013

Caner vs. Driscoll - Another Comparison

In an apparently removed article (available at the moment, here), John B. Carpenter made a comparison between Mark Driscoll's alleged plagiarism and Ergun Caner's alleged autobiographical embellishment. I wonder what Dr. Carpenter would have done if he had seen the translation of Bin Ladin's 1998 fatwa provided the Federation of American Scientists (link) with the translation provided in the Caner brothers' papers and books:

  1. "The Doctrine of Jihad in the Islamic Hadith" presented at the Evangelical Theological Society on November 15, 2001 (link to pdf of paper)
  2. "The Doctrine of Jihad in the Islamic Hadith" published in the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (SBJT) Volume 8, Number 1 (Spring 2004)(link)
  3. "Unveiling Islam" published by Kregel Publications, (C) 2002, Chapter 13, pp. 181-84 (link to partial preview) (See note 1, p. 198, "Translation and emphasis by the authors of this book.")
  4. "Christian Jihad" published by Kregel Publications, (C) 2004, Appendix B, pp. 228-232 (link to partial preview)

The two texts are very similar. One difference is that in quotations from the Koran, the version uses KJV-style English - for example, the version states (emphasis added by me):
This is in addition to the words of Almighty Allah: "And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? -- women and children, whose cry is: 'Our Lord, rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will help!'"
Almighty Allah said: "O ye who believe, give your response to Allah and His Apostle, when He calleth you to that which will give you life. And know that Allah cometh between a man and his heart, and that it is He to whom ye shall all be gathered."

Almighty Allah also says: "O ye who believe, what is the matter with you, that when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling so heavily to the earth! Do ye prefer the life of this world to the hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the hereafter. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place; but Him ye would not harm in the least. For Allah hath power over all things."
By contrast the Caner brothers' version uses contemporary English in most cases. However, in two cases, the Caner brothers' version lapses into KJV-style English (emphasis again, is mine):
This is in addition to the words of Almighty Allah, “And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated and oppressed—women and children, whose cry is—‘Allah rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will help!’”
Almighty Allah said “O you who believe, give your response to Allah and His Apostle, when He calls you to that which will give you life. And know that Allah comes between a man and his heart, and that it is He to whom you shall all be gathered.”

Almighty Allah also says “O you who believe, what is the matter with you, that when you are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, you cling so heavily to the earth! Do you prefer the life of this world to the hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the hereafter. Unless you go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place; but Him you would not harm in the least. For Allah hath power over all things.”
You will notice a few other small differences, like "Our Lord" is replaced by "Allah," but the most frequent change in this section is between the KJV-style English and modern English, except those two words "thee" and "hath," which remain the same.  The reader can decide for himself how much weight to give to this evidence, but it's hard for me to think of any strong reason why a translator working from the Arabic would use "thee" and "hath" in those two places, without using any other KJV-style English.

Moreover, Ergun Caner is aware of the translation. In his e-mail correspondence "debate" with Nadir Ahmed in 2005-06, Dr. Caner referred to this very translation (link to "debate").

Furthermore, recall that according to Norman Geisler:
The Charge that He Could Speak Arabic When He Can’t.—He only claims to be able to speak Arabic the way most non-Arabic Muslims do. Although he was raised in Sweden by a Swedish mother, Ergun learned enough Arabic (as most Muslims do) to read the Qur’an and speak it in prayer.

Incidentally, in both the paper and in "Unveiling Islam," the Caners refer to the five men who signed the fatwa as "five Islamic caliphates."  The term "caliphate" refers to the thing ruled by a caliph -  much like "kingdom" is that which is ruled by a king.  Additionally, the five men weren't and aren't caliphs. If the authors didn't properly understand the term "caliphate," did they really translate the fatwa themselves and arrive at a version that is so similar to the version?  If so, it was quite a remarkable feat.

I wonder if any of Ergun Caner's supporters have further light to shed on this question of whether the translation in Caner's books and papers is actually his own, his brother's, or some combination thereof.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Some Responses to Steven Avery's and Chris Pinto/NOTR's Counterpoints

In the comment box on my previous post (link), Steven Avery has provided some counter-points to the points I raised regarding the debate between James White and Chris Pinto. Mr. Avery has also quoted some material that he attributes to Chris Pinto/ Noise of Thunder Radio.

Steven Avery said: "If he was to comment on one thing right now, I would be all ears as to his thoughts about the James White papyri blunder. Since that was, in real terms, the James White big chief argument." Actually, I disagree. The big chief argument was the fact that the codex was not the work of a single scribe, but of multiple distinguishable scribes. And the second was like unto it - there were numerous hands (from different centuries) that corrected manuscript. Either of these arguments alone would sink Mr. Pinto's ship.

However, let me respond to what Steven Avery (SA) and Chris Pinto/Noise of Thunder Radio (NOTR) has said (the NOTR material comes to me via SA, so I have hopefully correctly attributed the parts to NOTR that belong to him).

Me: 3) There are no known examplars that could have been the source for Codex Sinaiticus."
Chris Pinto is a documentarian, he raises the historical issues missed (essentially ignored by James White) and then hopes they get hashed out properly, and he will join in the studies. Chris did mention the ancient Syriac Codex, but he was still somewhat of a beginner on the details about the Vaticanus collations and the textual interrelationships, the question of alexandrian mss on Mt. Athos, and the complexities of what happened to the NT until it arose pristine in 1859.

Once you look at all the details, you see that the source question is interesting (the biggest question is the source for the unique Sinaiticus blunders) but not an especially strong point contra the idea of Sinaiticus not being an authentic 4th century ms. Sinaiticus has major problems in delivery whether 4th century 6th century (Hilgenfeld), 19th century or some combinations thereof, where the NT was especially subject to "care".
a) The debate over whether manuscript should be dated to the 6th century rather than the 4th century is a different debate. The issue of exemplars is totally irrelevant to the 4th/6th century debate.
b) Yes, Simonides/Chris mentioned an "ancient Syriac Codex," but they have not produced such a codex. So, as I said, there are no known exemplars.
That is, no examplars known by Dr. White. During the debate, White admitted that he has not examined the manuscripts that were in Simonides’ possession, and was not even fully aware of what they were. In his argument, he overlooked three of the MSS. entirely. He was also unaware that there are many manuscripts on Mt. Athos today that have never been catalogued. His assertion was mere speculation based on his own limited knowledge.
a) There are no examplars known to anyone - not to Chris Pinto, not to any living person.
b) Simonides' claim to have collated his primary text with three additional manuscripts only makes his story *less* credible. I'm not sure why NOTR has so much trouble understanding this point. Not only does trying to collate three manuscripts dramatically increase the time needed to produce the codex, it also makes it less likely that the exemplars would all be lost.
c) Likewise, identifying that Simonides claimed he had manuscripts is not equivalent to identifying what manuscripts he could have used.
d) NOTR's argument seems to be that there might possibly be an as-yet-unknown manuscript that could be the exemplar. That argument is simply wishful thinking.
SA: "This is true, and is largely the ignorance of James White, in the area that is supposed to be his bailiwick. And it is best combined with what I shared above, which takes the more affirmative sense of what could have been used."
I answer: Yes, every person who knows about NT manuscripts is going to be "ignorant" of manuscripts that do not exist. Calling that "the ignorance of James White" is a strange way of putting it - but yes, he's unaware of non-existent manuscripts.

Me: 6) The amount of time necessary for collating multiple manuscripts of the entire Bible (plus some apocrypha) would have been prohibitive in the timeline proposed by Simonides.
There is no collation problem, all of that is bogus. e.g. The Griesbach NT, as pointed out by James Snapp, was out and could easily be used as a starting point. Collation could be somewhat ad hoc as well. All of this collation timing point was based on an error of James White that what would be required was the type of Stephanus collation of multiple manuscripts with markings, etc. This was all a straw man complaint where James White fantasized a complex scenario of collation creation, and then complained that his own complex scenario might take too much time.

Beyond all that, the whole question of collation and creation is one area where Simonides and Kallinikos have to be studied with all parts together, including Tischendorf mutilating and tampering with the mss and the distinctions of the NT ms. Beyond that, we should allow that if the SImonides involvement was not all pristine, to make a gift to the tsar, if there were some shady elements involved, the creation story would be the fudgiest element. That should not surprise us much, Tischendorf was a bald-faced liar about the events of those years and Uspensky was considered, like Tischendorf, as one who purloined manuscripts. It was the best of time, it was the worst of times.
Actually, Simonides is the one who claimed he produced his manuscript by a process of collation. Of course, if you're throwing out Simonides' claims then we are in agreement.

While Dr. White raised the issue, he never defined the “timeline proposed by Simonides.” He simply claimed it was prohibitive, but gave no explanation as to why.
In reality, Simonides claimed that the work happened over a period of 20 months from 1839-1841. By comparison, Desiderius
Erasmus famously completed his first edition Greek New Testament in less than half that time. He wrote: “I have got through six years work in eight months.” The first edition of Erasmus is especially known for its remarkable number of errors. This is the same characteristic of Codex Sinaiticus. If the work was done hastily by Simonides and his uncle, this would at least partly explain why it has so many corrections.
As a footnote, the number of reported “corrections” in the manuscript have changed since it was first discovered. The first number given was 8,000 corrections in 1862. That number later jumped to 14,800, as reported by Tischendorf. Today, the British Library reports a total of some 23,000 corrections. To understand where the all corrections came from, it would need to be understood why they have so dramatically increased over the past 150 years.
a) Erasmus was one of the brightest minds of his generation. It's hardly reasonable to compare his speed with that of someone who was primarily known for his good penmanship.
b) Similarly, Erasmus was about 40 and seriously trained by that point. By contrast, Simonides was a teenager.
c) Moreover, Erasmus was focused on the New Testament only, whereas Codex Sinaiticus contains OT, OT Apocrypha, NT, and NT apocrypha.
d) Additionally, except where Erasmus back-translated from Latin, Erasmus was working from Greek manuscripts only. By contrast, Simonides claimed to be working from both Greek and Syriac.
e) The codex may have been composed in haste in the 4th century. However, the more that there is an appeal to haste, the less likely that the work can be a nuanced forgery. It's hard to simulate a 4th century scribe - it's harder yet to do so in haste (much less multiple distinguishable scribes).
f) Regarding the "footnote," all that has increased is the reported number. The reason for such an increase is most obviously the increased amount careful study of the manuscript over the years.

I would more bluntly say that the whole collation question as raised by James White was simply a red herring, where he simply assumed his own complex machinations. The corrections issue discussed by NOTR is interesting, and can be added to a long list of puzzling questions as to how this ms. has developed. Read the CSP discussions of ink and parchment for other puzzles.
This is answered above.

As for Mt. Athos mss. James White astutely pointed out that Codex Ψ Psi 044 (giving the three notations) is a Mt. Athos sourced Alexandrian ms. The idea that all mss on Mt. Athos were Byzantine was a James White fabrication as well.
Dr. White did not say (or if he did, he mispoke) that there are no manuscripts with Alexandrian readings in the Athos monestary libraries.

Codex Athous Lavrensis (aka Ψ/044) is a mixed text. Some portions are "Alexandrian," some are Byzantine (see much more detail here).
Codex Athous Dionysiou (Ω Omega 045, using your notation method) is also a codex from Athos, which has some Alexandrian readings.
Also, Codex Athous Pantokratoros (051) is a codex from Athous with an eclectic text.
Codex Coislinianus (H^p or 015) is a generally Alexandrian ms. on Athos.
Uncial 050 is also a mixed text on Athos.


Friday, December 20, 2013

"Rip the Roof Off" - Ergun Caner 2010

Some time in 2010, Dr. Caner preached a sermon titled "Rip the Roof Off," at Bell Shoals. One interesting thing about this sermon is that it appears to be more like the cleaned up testimony we will see in some of the post-2010 sermons, but the description posted with the video still reflects the pre-2010 testimony. The description currently states:
Raised as the son of a Muslim leader in Turkey, Ergun Caner became a Christian shortly before entering college. Today, he serves as president of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He has debated Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and other religious leaders in 13 countries and 35 states. Ergun lives in Lynchburg with his wife, Jill, and two sons.
We have searched hard but haven't found actual debates. Dr. Caner was raised, as far as we can tell, in Ohio, not Turkey.

(3:15) "Seven miles down the road, they called Steven Rummage. I've had the blessing of following him, of seeing God use him, and let me say it publicly - and you're recording - stealing every sermon he has ever preached. Unashamedly. I even use the illustrations and pretend they're mine."

I assume Caner was joking in the above, but it does seem a little troubling, in view of some of the illustrations we've considered in his sermons

(4:00) "I'm a Turkish, immigrant, and I discovered that I'm a Yankee - because that's what her daddy told me, with an adjective. Jill's daddy - neighboring county - his people are from Johnston County, NC, specifically he's from Possum Kill, NC. So, you can imagine how thrilled he was, when the towelhead showed up at the door to date his daughter. My full name is Ergun Mehmet Caner."

Caner has listed his "full name" a number of different ways, but "Michael" seems to be his legal middle name, based on what we've seen in official records.

(6:00) "I didn't get saved until later in life. I wasn't raised in church. I wasn't raised with AWANA, RAs, GAs, WMU - didn't know none of that. Didn't have Sunday school; didn't have vacation bible school. None of it. Didn't go to church camp until after my conversion. And so, I got saved in Columbus, OH. My family had moved to America, and from America to central Ohio, Gahanna specifically, where I graduated Gahanna Lincoln High School, 1984. I learned English, there. Couldn't find a college, because I got called to preach, lost my family, lost everyone, lost everything I had. Sent a letter to all these colleges, because I wanted to study the Bible. Didn't know that I was called to ministry, didn't quite understand that concept. All I knew, is that I wanted to study the Bible. And I wanted to go to Bible school, but I didn't have a cent to my name. Finally, found a school in Kentucky, Williamsburg, KY, that would have me. And so I found myself about a year, eight months, after my conversion, in Kentucky, where I had to re-learn English."

I suppose Caner did learn English here in America - considering he learned to talk in America.

Caner claims to have "lost my family, lost everyone, lost everything I had." On the other hand, it seems that perhaps Caner was simply disowned by his non-custodial father. That's a pretty big deal and very sad for Caner, but if that's all that happened, then that's not "everyone" and "everything."

(32:20) "You know the reason I'm here is because one kid was my warrior. I came to America as a Muslim, moved to Columbus, OH, as a Muslim, my father built mosques, until the day he died, as an architect. I'm the oldest of three sons. I should be doing what my father did. But one boy - one boy - for four years - one boy - one high school kid wouldn't shut up."

I have no idea why Caner is so insistent on making it "four years." He graduated (as he stated above) in 1984. He apparently professed faith some time in 1982 or so. Indeed, that 1982 date seems consistent with claim to be going off to college about one year and eight months later.

Also, saying he "came as a Muslim" seems a little strange, since most 2-3 year olds are too young even to say the Shahada, much less be meaningfully Muslim.

(33:00) "He nagged me, he begged me, he pleaded with me, he did everything he could until finally I decided I was going to give in. And I said, 'You know what? I'll go with you to church if you come with me to the mosque.' And he came. Who's got that kind of guts. Most of us, if we were trained in any way, we knock on the door, if they slam the door in our face, we go, 'Huh- he must not be elect.' And we mark him off our list."

Do people really do that? That looks like a caricature of Calvinists, but not like anyone I've ever run into.

(35:50) "In 1995, my grandmama got saved. Age of 93, at Wood Baptist Church in Wood, NC, where she is buried. This little woman, who never learned English, is buried around a bunch of people who can't speak it. But do you know why she's buried there? Because that's where she met her Lord. Because that's where somebody shared the gospel with her. That's where sweet old ladies would blow up versions of Scripture so she could read it in her tongue. Where they loved on her."

Interesting that Caner does not mention that her tongue was Swedish.

(all times are approximate)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mohler/Caner Panel at SBTS

Someone recently pointed me to audio from a panel at SBTS from several years ago - apparently November 14, 2003, where Mohler and Ergun Caner were speaking about Islam.

Unfortunately, it seems that some of the audio may be missing, as some of the files end a little abruptly. Here are the links: (part 1)(part 2)(part 3)(part 4)

In part 2, Caner speaks. His comments include:

"I was a Muslim for 20 years." (If he was converted in 1982, as he has said, he was either 15 or 16 when he became a Christian.)

"My father was an ulema - a scholar, a hadithic scholar, more particularly." (Elsewhere, he claims his father was an architect. Moreover, "ulema" is a plural noun.)

"Everywhere I lived, before we came to America, we were the majority. I come to America, and I have to explain to you, from the Islamic mindset, it is tough, moving to your culture. Because we go from being a majority to all of a sudden becoming a minority and you guys have some annoying commercials and annoying practices. Every time I turned on the television it was another Christmas commercial another thing - I constantly wondered, under this aegis of Christian communication, what did a rabbit have to do with Easter? and what did trees have to do with Christmas? ... " (According to the most recent press release, Caner was 2 or 3 years old when he came to America, having been born in Sweden.)

"I have never, ever - in 41 debates - ever heard one Muslim ever make this statement. As a matter of fact, at a debate at the University of North Texas, I was getting hammered - I was getting beat up like a husband at a Beth Moore conference or something, because question after question after question, coming at me, and the media was hammering me with this - about come back to this group hug kind of thing - and finally I turned to the imam who was with me and I said, 'Abi, may I ask you a question,' he said 'of course,' 'do you believe Allah and Jehovah are the same God,' he said, 'Oh, of course not, this is ridiculous.'" (We cannot find any record of this debate (or the 40 other alleged debates), despite the alleged presence of media. We cannot find this imam. Moreover, the Koran claims that Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same god.)

"It's not the same god, guys. In fact, any time I come to this moment in this debate where they say it is, I say 'great, so Allah is triune?'" (Which debate was this? We have been looking and have not found any such debate.)

In part 4, Caner speaks again. His comments include:

"Everything I learned about our country - everything I ever learned about America - I learned by American television, before I came here. For instance, Andy Griffith. I would watch everything on Andy Griffith - so I thought all of America was Mayberry. And I moved to Brooklyn, NY." (Again, remember that according to most recent press release, Caner came to America when he was 2-3 years old.)

"I don't wear my laundry on my head. We are not dark. My first job was not a convenience store."

"I believed you guys hated me."

"Shabir Ally, when he and I do debate, he will say, 'you will speak very kindly about Mohammed,' and I said, 'as long as you do so about Jesus. You attack Jesus, I'm going after Mohammed.' And so he said, that's what I did, and as soon as he did [some describes his gestures as "stone cold Steve Austin"]." (There is no record of Caner debating Shabir Ally, and when Dr. White asked Shabir about this, he is reported to have responded that he had not even met Caner.)

"We were taught as children that the Jews drank the blood of our little Palestinian children. I mean - we were told - we were raised with a tangible, visceral hatred for Israel."

"This idea of coexisting peacefully with Israel is a silly notion for anyone who knows Arabic. When Arafat in Arabic on Al-Jazeera, he will say '[apparently some faux Arabic gibberish] we will push them into the Mediterranean,' and then turns around in English and he says, 'We want peace.'" (I would be interested in any Arabic speakers confirming whether the apparent gibberish is really gibberish, or actually something in Arabic. It seems far too short to be the equivalent of "we will push them into the Mediterranean."

"As far as the translation of the Koran, they believe, and we were taught, that you must know Arabic to understand the Koran completely, however, they work against us by translating the Koran into every language. The one I use up here is by Yusuf Ali, which the Saudi Government paid for back in the 1940's and they still use it. It's like the Ryrie Study Bible, so to speak, because it comes with all these prodigious notes at the bottom." (It's interesting to see that Caner acknowledges relying on a translation of the Koran here.)

"You gather together, for the recitation of the first Surah of the Koran, five times a day. Either you have your prayer rug in your closet, or you have it in your locker at school, or in our case, you would go to the mosque if you lived close enough." (Interesting to see the locker story mentioned here.)

"The Imam gives a brief Tawhid, um Talib, the Talib is the sermon, but sometimes its just a basic lecture." (The name for the sermon at the mosque is the Khutbah, which is delivered by the khatib.

"He is usually trained somewhere else, in a madrassa, he has an ulema, umm - err - he has many ulema, uh ulim, he has a couple of muezzin who do the call to prayer ..." (As mentioned above, "ulema" is plural, and the singular of that is "alim.")

"I would venture to say that a large number of Muslims living in America were shocked by 9-11. I say that because we know the doctrines especially those of us that are first generation immigrants, but here in America that's precisely what they remained. Jihad - the concepts of Jihad - remained doctrine, theology, Khitab-ology, if you may use the term. For those of us from the other world, it's more than just doctrine, it's ethic. We learn to live with jihad. You see a bombing at 8 a.m. and by 2 p.m. you're back to work." (Caner was raised in America, as mentioned above.)

"I've spent the last 17 years of my life totally devoted to systematic theology and studying church history, but I would go around to churches and speak and talk about reaching Muslims with the gospel. And for the most part, churches were very gracious, very accepting. They would pat me on the head and send me out the door and say, 'isn't that interesting.' And then four planes fly, and then thousands of people get in the backs of pick up trucks and drive to Baghdad from Aman Jordan for the singular honor of dying in the cause against America. And people listen." (It is interesting to see what we can find about Caner's pre-9/11 testimony, which was discussed at this link.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chris Pinto vs. James White - Debate Summarized

The Chris Pinto vs. James White debate on whether Codex Sinaiticus is a modern forgery can be boiled down to a few considerations.

1) Constantine Simonides claimed that he wrote the document based on collating pre-existing manuscripts, and that his uncle corrected the document.

Both sides agree that he so claimed. Dr. White demonstrated that these claims are essentially impossible, as explained below.

2) The most sympathetic source for Simonides says that Simonides was not a truthful person.

Dr. White raised this point, and Pinto did not dispute it except to say that this source was not the only supportive source and that the source himself says Simonides did not always lie.

3) There are no known examplars that could have been the source for Codex Sinaiticus.

Dr. White raised this point, Pinto's response was to point out that the source(s) could be as-yet-unknown manuscripts on Mt. Athos.

4) Codex Sinaiticus was written by several different, distinguishable scribes (as evidenced by different handwriting, different style of abbreviations, and different accuracy of work).

Dr. White raised this point, Pinto did not respond to it.

5) Codex Sinaiticus has corrections by multiple different correctors.

Dr. White raised this point, Pinto did not respond to it except to say that two other men (a monk and a scribe) may have been involved in the corrections.

6) The amount of time necessary for collating multiple manuscripts of the entire Bible (plus some apocrypha) would have been prohibitive in the timeline proposed by Simonides.

Dr. White raised this point, and Pinto responded that possibly his uncle started on the project years before Simonides began.

Additional notes:

1. Regarding the Mt. Athos manuscripts, there is an on-going digitization project (link). At one point, Mr. Pinto alleges that the one way to resolve the mystery was to explore the Mt. Athos library for manuscripts corresponding to Simonides' claims. He won't be able to stand behind that argument from ignorance forever.

2. Simonides himself states that the collation began after Simonides himself joined the project, as demonstrated by Dr. White. So, although the uncle allegedly had corrected the other manuscripts in advance, the collation project had not been done in advance, according to the primary source for Mr. Pinto's theory.


The fact that the manuscript was written by several different scribes and was corrected by numerous additional hands makes it impossible for Simonides' story to be true. The necessary hypothesis would be that Simonides deliberately altered his handwriting several different times during the writing of the manuscript to give the impression of different scribes. Such a hypothesis is simply implausible - there is no reason for Simonides to do this for the purpose of creating a text for the Tsar (as he claimed).

The fact that collation of documents takes an enormous amount of time, especially when one of the documents is not in the base language (allegedly one of the manuscripts was a Syriac manuscript), also weighs against Simonides claim. While it might be conceivable that such a collation could take place, the necessary time and training for such a collation to be undertaken are simply not there.

The fact that the supposed exemplars of Sinaiticus do not produce the unique readings of Sinaiticus and the fact that some of these unique readings are found in later discovered papyri also weighs against Simonides' claim.

In view of these facts, it's hard to see how anyone could come to any other conclusion than that Simonides was not the scribe of Sinaiticus, whether or not Simonides actually did create a manuscript intended for the Tsar.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Evangelii Gaudium - the BBC Has Overstated the Pope's Liberal Leanings

BBC News has the headline: "Pope Francis calls for power to move away from Vatican" and the opening line: "Pope Francis has called for power in the Catholic Church to be devolved away from the Vatican, in the first major work he has written in the role."

The document in question, Evangelii Gaudium ("Gospel's Joy") purports to be an apostolic exhortation. The document does state, at section 32, "Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach." I cannot find anywhere in the document the idea of actually removing power from the Vatican. There are several favorably mentions of the Second Vatican Council, but nothing opposing ultramontanism even to the extent that the Second Vatican Council attempted.

There are some other interesting aspects to the document. For example, it was interesting to see Garry Wills' point about the power of the ministerial priesthood arising from the Eucharist. Section 104 states: "Its [the ministerial priesthood's] key and axis is not power understood as domination, but the power to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist; this is the origin of its authority, which is always a service to God’s people." Wills would, I think, respond that the power to administer the Eucharist naturally progresses into a power of domination, particularly when the power is discretionary.

Sections 147 and 148 are also interesting in terms of their relationship to exegesis:
147. First of all, we need to be sure that we understand the meaning of the words we read. I want to insist here on something which may seem obvious, but which is not always taken into account: the biblical text which we study is two or three thousand years old; its language is very different from that which we speak today. Even if we think we understand the words translated into our own language, this does not mean that we correctly understand what the sacred author wished to say. The different tools provided by literary analysis are well known: attention to words which are repeated or emphasized, recognition of the structure and specific movement of a text, consideration of the role played by the different characters, and so forth. But our own aim is not to understand every little detail of a text; our most important goal is to discover its principal message, the message which gives structure and unity to the text. If the preacher does not make this effort, his preaching will quite likely have neither unity nor order; what he has to say will be a mere accumulation of various disjointed ideas incapable of inspiring others. The central message is what the author primarily wanted to communicate; this calls for recognizing not only the author’s ideas but the effect which he wanted to produce. If a text was written to console, it should not be used to correct errors; if it was written as an exhortation, it should not be employed to teach doctrine; if it was written to teach something about God, it should not be used to expound various theological opinions; if it was written as a summons to praise or missionary outreach, let us not use it to talk about the latest news.

148. Certainly, to understand properly the meaning of the central message of a text we need to relate it to the teaching of the entire Bible as handed on by the Church. This is an important principle of biblical interpretation which recognizes that the Holy Spirit has inspired not just a part of the Bible, but the Bible as a whole, and that in some areas people have grown in their understanding of God’s will on the basis of their personal experience. It also prevents erroneous or partial interpretations which would contradict other teachings of the same Scriptures. But it does not mean that we can weaken the distinct and specific emphasis of a text which we are called to preach. One of the defects of a tedious and ineffectual preaching is precisely its inability to transmit the intrinsic power of the text which has been proclaimed.
It is interesting to hear Francis' comments. He seems to be acknowledging that literary analysis is legitimate for figuring out the meaning of the text in section 147. In section 148, Francis is careful to add the qualifier "as handed on by the Church" (presumably modifying "teaching" not "Bible"). Still, fundamentally Francis seems to be recognizing that while people can misunderstand the text, they can use literary analysis to figure out what it means. This means that even if a "church" is helpful in analyzing the text, it is not necessary -- the text has intrinsic power and self-demonstrating meaning.

Section 22 similarly acknowledges the superior power of the word to the church:
22. God’s word is unpredictable in its power. The Gospel speaks of a seed which, once sown, grows by itself, even as the farmer sleeps (Mk 4:26-29). The Church has to accept this unruly freedom of the word, which accomplishes what it wills in ways that surpass our calculations and ways of thinking.
It's great for Francis to make these concessions, and it helps to undermine the traditional error of Roman Catholicism in treating "the Church" as a necessary gatekeeper and mouthpiece for the Word.

The RC pope may not be as liberal as the BBC portrays him, but he expresses a position a lot closer to "Protestantism" than some of his predecessors.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Keep it Simple: STUPID

TULIP is a great acronym for the doctrines of grace. But it's not very American. Here's another that may be easier to recall, next time people tell you that election, predestination, or Calvinism is "stupid." You can respond, yes:

Sovereignty: God is in charge - we are not. All things happen according to his foreordinate counsel - from the death of Christ to the last hair on our heads.
Total depravity: In Adam we fell and our natures became corrupt, so that we do not obey the law of God and are not able to.
Unconditional election: God has chosen some of humanity for himself, based only on himself and his love - not based on us and our merit.
Perseverance of the saints: God will finish the work of salvation that he begins at justification, saving to the uttermost those who approach Him in faith.
Irresistible grace: God's grace acts directly to convert the heart, change the will, and make a new creature, who then responds. God's grace does not have to wait for the creature's will, in order to effect a change.
Definite atonement: Christ's death was particularly intended to bring about the salvation of the elect: his sheep - those that the Father gave him out of the world.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Elected for the Non-Elect

My friend, Dr. James White, recently reviewed a portion of a sermon by Eric Hankins, in which Pastor Hankins tried to argue that the elect were chosen for the non-elect. There is a certain intuitive appeal of that position: Christ is the Elect One, and Paul and Jeremiah were chosen for service. It doesn't do full justice to passages like Romans 9, though.

Was Jacob chosen for the benefit of Esau? Or was it written, "the elder [Esau] shall serve the younger [Jacob]"? Surely the latter.

Was Moses chosen for the benefit of Pharaoh? Or was it almost the reverse? Again, the latter seems to be the case.

Hankins tried to say that God never gives up on anyone. But is that really true? Did God never give up on Pharaoh or the Egyptians? What about the households of Ahab and Jeroboam? Or let's get more dramatic - what about the whole earth in the days of Noah? Did God ever give up on the rest of the world except the eight souls on the ark? The answer has to be "yes," since God sent the flood on them.

Hankins' rhetoric may sound nice, but it is wrong. The elect are chosen for the glory of God, first and foremost, and they are also chosen to serve one another:

2 Timothy 2:10
Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Waldron's Cascade Argument

Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Sam Waldron had a very cordial debate on the question, "Have the New Testament Charismatic Gifts Ceased?" Dr. Brown's rebuttal arguments did not appear to me to reflect an understanding of Dr. Waldron's primary argument, the so-called Cascade Argument.

I strongly believe that it is important to a dialog that both sides understand the other. Thus, my hope is that by spelling out this argument in writing, I can clarify the argument to Dr. Brown, to those who agree with him, and more broadly to those considering the question of the gifts.

The Cascade Argument can be summarized thus:

1) There are no apostles of Christ on earth today.
2) Because there are no apostles of Christ, there are no prophets.
3) Because there are no prophets, there are no tonguespeakers.
4) In view of 1-3, there are no miracle workers on earth today.

1. There are No Apostles of Christ on Earth Today

A) To be an Apostle of Christ was itself a gift to the church, and the foremost of the gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 Ephesians 4:8-11 - Christ gave gifts to men, among them apostles.

B) The term "apostles of Christ" is to be distinguished from missionaries, aka "apostles of the churches," which is a different office. Only "apostles of Christ" are no longer among us.

C) To be an apostle of Christ, there were three distinguishing marks:
i) Directly appointed by Christ (Mark 3, Luke 6, Acts 1:2, Acts 10:41, Galatians 1:1). That's why the lot was used.
ii) Physical eyewitnesses of the Resurrected Jesus (Acts 1:22, Acts 10:39, 1 Corinthians 9:1)
iii) They are able to confirm their apostlate by doing miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12).

D) The apostles of Christ spoke authoritatively for Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 14:37).

E) There are five reasons we know from Scripture that the Apostlate ceased:
i) Ephesians 2:20 The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, which alludes to Revelation 21:14. The analogy implies that the apostles and prophets were confined to the foundational period of church history.
ii) 1 Corinthians 15:8 Paul "last of all" was the last one to see the risen Christ. And since being a physical eyewitness to the risen Christ is one of the marks of an apostle, Paul is the last apostle.
iii) 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 14:1 indicate that Christians cannot seek the gift of Apostle of Christ - the greatest gift they could seek was prophecy, even though apostleship was identified as a gift.
iv) Galatians 2:7-9 Paul received the right hand of fellowship from the 12 apostles, but no one can today.
v) Ephesians 2:20 This passage describes the form of the New Testament as "apostles and prophets." If there were apostles and prophets today, the canon would be open, as those apostles/prophets continued to speak authoritatively. But Charismatics (nearly all) recognize that the canon is closed, therefore they ought to recognize that the apostlate is also closed.

F. Apostolic Gift is Linked to Impartation of Other Gifts (Acts 8)
This suggests the cessation of the miraculous gifts.

2. There are No Prophets Today
A) The cessation of the apostolate creates the presumption or at least possibility of cessation of other gifts.

B) NT Prophets like the Apostles were foundational to the New Testament church. (Ephesians 2:20)

C) Definition of Prophet in Deuteronomy 13 & 18 was never rescinded, and this requires infallibility.

D) Just as the OT's authority is summarized as "the prophetic word" (2 Peter 1:19-21) and its form is also described in about a dozen NT references to "the law and the prophets" or "Moses and the prophets", so also the NT's canon is summarized in Ephesians 2:20 as "apostles and prophets" (the prophets in question are NT prophets as seen in Ephesians 3:5; 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28).

3. There are No Tongue-Speakers Today because Tongues was a form of prophecy.
A) Acts 2 tongue speaking is explained by reference to Joel 2, where it is described as prophecy.

B) 1 Corinthians 14:5 asserts the equivalence of the two gifts, if tongues is interpreted.

C) In both tongues and prophecy, the speaker is uttering mysteries, which refers to prophetic revelation (1 Corinthians 13:2, Revelation 1:3, 1:20, and 10:7).

4. There are No Miracle-Workers Today
There may be miracles today, but there is a difference between miracles and miracle workers.

The Cascade Argument was augmented by a dilemma as to the first point: if they accept the point, then they are at least cessationists in some form, since the first and greatest gift no longer exists; whereas if charismatics want to assert that there are living apostles of Christ today, then they are denying a clear New Testament teaching. Additionally, if such apostles exist today, then they have the same authority/infallibility that the original apostles had.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Response to Michael Brown's "Be Careful"

Michael Brown's recent article (link) is a good reminder that we should be careful about how we identify "another gospel" as such. Nevertheless, Brown seems to take this proper caution to humility too far.

Brown writes:
So let’s put the theological bombast aside and be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:3-6).
The problem is, theology matters. It especially matters when people claim to speak with the authority of the Spirit. We can hardly have "unity of the Spirit" when we serve the Holy Spirit and they serve a deceiving spirit.

Brown writes:
Why then must we be so quick to go beyond the rule of Scripture and take it upon ourselves to damn to hell other professing believers if—to repeat—they hold to the fundamentals of the faith and have not denied the Lord in word or deed?
First of all, we are calling these people to repentance, not damning them to hell. Brown needs to control his emotions.
Second, Brown is begging the question. We don't agree with his position on the false prophets in the charismatic movement: rather we say that they do not hold to the fundamentals of the faith and that they deny the Lord by their words and deeds.

Brown states:
In other words, even though there are heretics, God knows those who are truly saved; as for us, if we claim to be His we must depart from iniquity.
God does know who are His. Nevertheless, God calls us to exercise discernment:

Romans 16:17
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.


Fossils in the Wrong Rock Layers?

Sometimes we are told that evolution could be falsified by finding fossils in the wrong rock layers. This just is not true. Consider the linked article (link). As the article points out:
Jim Fassett, author of the research of the US Geological Survey, said many would still doubt the discovery.
He said: "The great difficulty with this hypothesis – that these are the remains of dinosaurs that survived – is ruling out the possibility that the bones date from before the extinction.
"After being killed and deposited in sands and muds, it is possible for bones to be exhumed by rivers and then incorporated into younger rocks."
You see, there are already explanations for why the bones are in the "wrong" rock layers. And the bottom line is the same - evolution, or at least philosohpical naturalism, is a precommitment of atheistic scientific endeavors.


Monday, October 07, 2013

Response to JaclynGlenn's Response to Ray Comfort

JaclynGlenn attempts to respond to Ray Comfort (link - caution, profanity and blasphemy). Once you weed through the profanity, blasphemy, and assorted name-calling and insults, there is actually very little to JaclynGlenn's comments, aside from an unsubstantiated assertion that Mr. Comfort is somehow opposed to logic.

Let's address her points:

1) Alleged Evidence of Speciation

JaclynGlenn complains that birds and salamanders changing into other kinds of birds and salamanders is an example of speciation and consequently it should be accepted as evidence of Darwinian evolution. What JaclynGlenn seems to be missing is that if this is the best evidence for speciation, we're not very impressed. Part of that is because "species" lines tend to be drawn pretty fluidly, and these variations could easily be seen as variation within species, rather than generation of new species.

2) "Nothing Made Everything"

JaclynGlenn says she does not "believe" this, and she would change her mind if scientists told her something else. It's not really clear whether JaclynGlenn just doesn't understand that she's placing her trust in scientists, or whether she only uses "believe" pejoratively.

3) "Long Term Changes Not Observable"

JaclynGlenn's point is well taken - but it cuts the opposite of the way she thinks. It doesn't provide an excuse for scientists - it simply underscores the fact that Darwinian evolution is not scientific.

4) "Tiny Differences Between Humans and Chimps"

JaclynGlenn thinks Ray Comfort should have said "tens of millions of bases" instead of "hundreds of millions of bases" of differences. JaclynGlenn responds that this is still only a 1.5% (rounding up) difference. JaclynGlenn seems to think this is significant, suggesting that the genetic difference between humans and chimps is 10 times less than between a rat and a mouse.

Again, I'm not sure JaclynGlenn realizes the problem. The problem is not simply the magnitude of the differences as a percentage of the whole, but the magnitude of the differences in absolute terms.

Keep in mind also that genetics is still a young field. One frequently cited number says that about 98% of the human genome is "non-coding" or "junk" DNA. While the 1% number was previously used, other studies suggest 4% (see here). Moreover, it is sometimes unclear whether the 1% is as fraction of the whole genome or only of the coding part (i.e. the part thought to be functional). Finally, newer studies are casting doubt on the idea that the "non-coding" DNA is not functional.

5) "Fossil in the Wrong Geological/Geographical? Location"

JaclynGlenn refers to the possibility of evolution being proven wrong by a fossil being found in the wrong "geographical position" (I assume she means the wrong geological position in the rock layers). She claims this hasn't happened yet.

Apparently, JaclynGlenn is unaware of the coelacanths, which were thought to have been extinct for 65 million years based on the fossils, but were discovered to be still living today. Of course, for philosophical naturalists, this didn't blow evolution out of the water - and it won't for JaclynGlenn when she reads this, because she's committed to trying to explain everything without reference to the Creator.

Response to Jason Reed's Apostasy Story

Jason Reed recently joined Rome's communion. Because he's served as a seminary professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, his apostasy to Rome's communion has made waves in certain circles. Mike Schulte was kind enough to post a 56 minute video that includes a recent talk given by Jason, in which he explains his move.

No summary of Reed's story will be fully fair to all its nuances, but it appears Reed never could explain why Roman Catholicism is contrary to Scripture and enjoyed Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica when introduced to it as seminary student. Thus, when he was surrounded by Roman Catholic professors, intellectual Roman Catholic peers in grad school, and Roman Catholic family, he found justifications for making a move to Rome.

In more detail (all time stamps are approximate):

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Head Coverings - Some Exegetical Analysis of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

I've applied some chevrons to the text of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, to try to emphasize some of the structure:
> Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
>> But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
>>> Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
>>>> But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
>>>>> For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
>>> For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
>>>> For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
(Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.)
>> Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
>>> Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
>>> But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
> But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
Next, let me provide an outline of Paul's comments:
Follow the traditions we give you;
A) Headship explained:
i) Christ is the head of man,
ii) the husband is the head of the wife,
iii) God is the head of Christ;
B) Covering's Relationship to Honor/Glory
i) Male covering dishonors himself;
ii) Female uncovering dishonors herself (reductio from the fact that if she was shaved it would be obviously a disgrace);
iii) Male uncovering displays God's glory;
iv) Female covering displays the male's power to the angels;
(But in the Lord, men and women are equal as they create one another and all are created by God.)
C) Nature Illustrates the Principle of Covering
i) It is a shame for men to have long hair;
ii) It is a glory for women to have long hair;
iii) Hair is a natural covering of the head.
But if the argument from nature doesn't persuade you, suffice that headcovering (for women) and uncovering (for men) is the only custom we have; there is no other custom among the apostles or churches of God
Some general thoughts:

1) Men generally don't tend to have a big problem with obeying the commands of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. After all, this is one of the nicer aspects of being man - getting to typify the glory of God and the headship of Christ.
2) Men are prone to let this go to their heads. That's why the parenthetical about equality in the Lord is there: so we can remember that this headship men have is for this earth only and typifies the headship of God.
3) Men also should keep in mind that this headship comes with typing Christ in other words, such as providing for and sacrificing himself for his wife. (Ephesians 5:25; see also, 1 John 3:16 and Romans 16:4)
4) Women, in this age of feminism, have a problem obeying the commands.
5) Some women have a problem with this custom of showing male headship with an artificial covering, because they have a problem with male headship. This class of women should be encouraged by the parenthetical about equality in the Lord, but ought to endure male headship in this present age.
6) Some women have a problem with this custom of showing male headship with an artificial covering, because they think their natural covering is enough. This may arise from a misunderstanding of Paul's argument from nature. Paul argues that nature itself shows that long hair is bad for men but good for women. Paul is using this to demonstrate that men should not wear artificial coverings and women should. We know this because Paul first argues that if a woman is not covered, she might as well be shorn/shaven. But if he was only referring to natural covering, then his statement makes no sense. "If she does not have long hair, she might as well have short hair" would be a tautology, but Paul is employing a reductio.
7) Some women have a problem with this custom because they believe that the custom is a cultural one. Such a conclusion is not derivable from the text. Paul argues for the custom not based on Corinthian or Graeco-Roman cultural norms, but based on (a) universal apostolic tradition; (b) the principle of headship; (c) the testimony to the angels; and (b) the light of nature. None of these arguments are culturally limited. Moreover, Paul's admonition is not a general statement about life in the surrounding culture, but a specific statement about life in the church ("praying and prophesying").
8) Some women have a problem with this custom because they have heard that a shaved head in Corinth suggested that a woman was a prostitute and that long hair in Corinth suggested that a man was a homosexual. Thus, placed in that context Paul was just telling people not to look like prostitutes and homosexuals. The problems with this kind of argument are as follows:
i) The evidence for the premises about hair length and its significance in Corinth is rather tenuous. If someone wanted to debate this point with me, I would want to see what evidence they had found for the ideas that a shaved head in Corinth suggested that a woman was a prostitute and that long hair in Corinth suggested that a man was a homosexual. But let's assume for the sake of argument that such evidence exists.
ii) The argument from that evidence assumes that all Paul has in mind are natural coverings, not artificial coverings. But Paul has in mind artificial coverings, as explained above.
iii) Given that Paul has in mind artificial coverings, one would expect Paul to say that if a woman is shaven or shorn, she should cover her head artificially - but instead he phrases it the other way around. If she doesn't cover her head artificially, she might as well shave her head. The idea that this would mark her as a prostitute in Corinth would simply enhance Paul's reductio.
iv) The reference to praying/prophesying makes little sense if Paul's point is one about avoiding the appearance of sexual sin. In other words, women should never dress like prostitutes and men should not dress themselves in a way that suggests homosexuality. These are general principles of avoiding the appearance of sin, not anything specific to worship.
v) The discussion of headship seems completely out of place if Paul's point is about avoiding the appearance of sexual immorality.
vi) Conversely, the artificial covering is specifically described as "power on her head."
vii) And as hinted at in (iii), evidence that long hair was associated with homosexuality and shaved heads with prostitution would seem to play well into Paul's argument from the analogy of nature, but Paul does not exclusively rely on that argument, but rather on authoritative tradition.
9) Some women have a problem with this custom because they think it only applies to women in the pulpit, but they are not in the pulpit, so it does not apply to them. But even when there were women prophetesses, women were required to be silent in the church. So, the praying/prophesying is not a short-hand reference to women pastors, but rather broadly to religious worship.
10) Some women are persuaded that the Scriptures say that they should cover their head during public prayer, but are hesitant to do so because they are in the minority in their church. In fact, they might be the only such woman in their church. They fear either ridicule or judgment of their peers. This is a very understandable fear. A head covering does mark out a woman in that context. Still, such women should take encouragement from the fact that the angels observe her as well. By her head covering she is testifying to her submission to her head, and demonstrating to the angels her obedience to Christ our head and to God the the head of Christ. Moreover, she should consider that her testimony may encourage other wives to do the same - perhaps wives who have been reluctant for the same reason. Indeed, this is one visible way in which a woman can fulfill her teaching role as described in Titus 2:5.

In numbers 5-9 above, I've referred to women having a problem with the command. Obviously, a lot of their husbands either join with them or don't object to them. So, there are doubtless men who have a problem with this command as well. Men's issues with the command are less significant to me, because the command is not directed to them. Still, men are supposed to be the spiritual leaders of their household, and ought properly to instruct their wives on this issue. Husbands also ought to be understanding of the fact that their wives may feel themselves under peer pressure to conform to whatever the majority of other women in the church are doing - that this will not be easy, and that many Protestant women grew up in churches that had abandoned the this ordinance that Paul delivered to the Corinthians. Be patient, but don't neglect what Paul taught.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ergun Caner Testimony at "Free CD Tracts"

"Free CD Tracts" has posted Ergun Caner's testimony (here). There are links to audio (here) and video (one - two).

All times are approximate and refer to the audio file:
"For the average Muslim it takes seven years to come to faith in Jesus - for me, it was any number of years" (0:30)
If only he would stick to this!

"Finally, my senior year in high school" (1:00)
Was it his senior year or his junior year?

"In every debate that I've done, in every time I've debated Muslims, Sunni, Sufi, Alawite, Shia, every debate I've ever done, this question always comes up from the Muslim, 'what does one man's death have to do with me.'" (5:00)
I would love to see any evidence that Caner has ever debated Muslims from each of those sects.

"Isa bin Allah - Jesus is the son of God" (6:30)
This does not seem to be grammatically correct Arabic.

"In every debate, in every discussion, I have never met one Muslim - not one! - who believes that the Allah of the Koran and Jehovah intimate Adonai God of the Bible are the same god." (10:00)
Again, where are these debates? Moreover, the Koran does claim:
And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender.
Surah 29:46 (Pickthall translation)

What is sad about the videos is that they are clearly professionally done. There is even some nice Arabic or Farsi (someone who reads it better than me should be able to say) sub-titling. Moreover, a lot of what Caner has to say is important and valuable for Muslims to hear. If only the dross could be purged so that the testimony could be heard by those who need to hear it! I'd also like for the testimony to mention more about the need for repentance, but I suppose that Caner has not mentioned that, because he believes Muslims are already aware of that.


Monday, September 23, 2013

From Islam to Christianity - Part 1 - Ergun Caner - 2 November 2009

A transcript of a program titled, "From Islam to Christianity - Part 1" by Ergun Caner, dated November 2, 2009, can be found at this link (link). I would love to check the accuracy of the transcript, but it seems to be hard to find original audio of Ergun Caner's presentations these days. Here are some interesting comments attributed to Caner in the transcript:
And in Acts 16 Paul and Silas and Luke they set out on the second missionary journey. The first place they go is my country, Tyrus is on the western shores of Turkey. I'm an eastern Turk, toward the Kurdish regions.
Now, we know that Caner was born in Sweden and came to America as a young boy. But let's set this aside for a moment, to look at some other comments.
Somebody stuck around for me. I came here as a missionary to you. I didn't know Christians. I thought you hated me. Everything I ever learned about American Christianity I learned in the mosque from my imam or from my madrassa, my training center. And so every other place I'd ever lived I lived there as a majority person.
I always lived in a majority Islamic countries. Then I come to America. My father was a muezzin. I'm the oldest of three sons to his wife, this one wife. He had many wives. I came as a faithful and devout Muslim.
Every debate I've ever had with a Muslim, "Oh, you do not understand Islam. Oh, you need to understand the Arabic." What's next? That was my language before English. English is hard.
Notice the claims he makes:

  • that he came "as a missionary."
  • that he "always lived in majority Islamic countries."
  • that his father had "many wives."
  • that he has had enough debates with Muslims to describe them as "every debate."
  • that Arabic was his language before English.

Are any of these claims true? Recall that Caner's "statement" said:
As for the countless other volleys aimed at discrediting the work I do, I am unsure how to respond. If my pronunciation of Arabic phrases is not correct, then I apologize. The language of my lineage is Turkish, not Arabic. Even Arabic dialects differ regionally, such as Jordanian and Egyptian. Indeed, 80% of the Muslim world does not speak Arabic, so I doubt anyone will be fully satisfied at this juncture.
So at the end of your life you've got to be 51 percent righteous to make it into paradise. That's why I had a prayer rug in my locker in high school in Brooklyn, New York and then Columbus, Ohio. I would roll my rug out and five times a day, three times in the high school and then twice other times.
When did Caner go to high school in Brooklyn, NY?
I kept telling him no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Finally he invited me to a revival. And so I walked in to Stelzer Road Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio in full gear with a coat on.
What gear?
They didn't call me names. They didn't call me towel head, camel jockey or sand n*gger. See, I got called that other places.
Kids are mean, but why would they call him any of those names, given that he apparently dressed normally and wasn't an Arab?
I got to do two things as a new believer in Jesus. One, took my keffiyeh off and I told the waitress I was saved. And number two, I ordered every piece of ham - I went home and told my father. I said, "Abi, I am born again. I'm saved." It was November 4, 1982 and it was the last day I saw my father.
Why was Caner wearing keffiyeh? That's not typical for Turkish Muslims. Also, "abi" sounds more like Hebrew "Abba," than like a Turkish word for "father."
In 1991 my Mama got saved. In the baptistry took off her hijab.
Why would his mother have been wearing a hijab? (see discussion here)

This seems to have been something of a "canned" sermon by Dr. Caner. You can see very similar excerpts here (link), from a sermon with the same topic, but preached a few years earlier.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ergun Caner with Craig von Buseck

Ergun Caner was apparently interviewed some time ago by Craig von Buseck (interview available here).

Caner stated:
I was a Muslim for half my life, until I was almost twenty. The only thing I ever learned about Christianity I learned from my Imam and the scholars in the mosque. Then when I began to be trained in Madras we heard even more about Christians, that they are our enemies. I would guess that the key word that we would call the Americans was the Crusaders. Right after the bombing of 9/11, when the first bin Ladin tape was released, he called us Crusaders. The Fatwa that was signed February 23rd, 1998 referred to us as the Crusaders. This is because from our world mindset -- one side of my family is Wahabi, the other side is Sunni Orthodox -- this is fundamental to understanding how they view America.
a) Caner elsewhere claims to have come to Christ in 1982, which would have meant he was either 15 or 16.
b) This claim of being Sunni/Wahabi was similarly made here:
But another time it was claimed that Ergun's mother was Sufi:
But compare what Emir Caner said about his mother saying the Shahada at the time she married his dad, and subsequently becoming a universalist/hippy:
And finally remember that Geisler tried to claim on Caner's behalf that "Michael" was a name that Caner's mother "always wished to give him" (see here).
Caner state: "I do debates and in America it's becoming kind of like the gospel according to Jerry Springer -- you know, there's yelling and screaming."
Where are these debates?
- TurretinFan

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Period of Grace Makes the Death Penalty Irrelevant?

The Bible indicates that the civil government ought to have and enforce laws providing for capital punishment of male homosexual behavior. It is written: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." (Leviticus 20:13) It's not a law that is in force in many places in the world today, and consequently meets with some cultural/traditional resistance from lots of folks.  I should point out that the text applies to the government, not individuals.  We Christians are not called to take the law into our own hands.

Someone recently posed the following question to me: "How would you respond to people who try to refute your views by stating that Christ brought forth the period of grace, making the death penalty of that time irrelevant?"

My responses are as follows:

1) Where does the Bible say that the death penalty is irrelevant?
2) On the contrary, the Bible affirms that the civil magistrate is God's minister to administer punishment including death: "For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." (Romans 13:4) The sword/wrath reference is a reference to putting evil-doers to death.

In response to (1) my friend suggested that the people may appeal to the Pericope Adulterae, the story of Jesus saying that the person without sin should be the first to cast a stone at the woman caught in adultery.  I respond:

a) The person should keep in mind that the story of the woman taken in adultery is one that is not found in the earliest manuscripts of the Scripture.  One should be careful about trying to build one's argument primarily on a text that is a major variant.

b) Does Jesus, in the story, say that the death penalty is irrelevant?  
- If so, does that mean that the "period of grace" was already in place at that time? That's not usually what I hear from dispensationals.  If it was already in place, what were Jesus and the disciples doing celebrating Passover?
- If not, why conclude that the death penalty is irrelevant?

c) What is the point of Jesus saying, in the story, that the person without sin should cast the first stone?  Was it to convict them of the fact that this woman supposedly taken in the act was being brought without the man who allegedly was engaged in the act with her?  How is just to prosecute only the adulteress and not also the adulterer?  In other words, was the point that the prosecution was not being handled justly?  There were a lot of irregularities to her trial, if the trial is judged by the standard of 2nd temple Judaism or the Torah itself.

d) How would a point about ending the civil death penalty (either for adultery) fit within the context of John's gospel, where the story is currently found?  It doesn't have anything particularly to do with the context.

e) If the conclusion is "no death penalty" because all human judges themselves have sins, why wouldn't this apply also to crimes like murder, rape, and kidnapping?  Or perhaps these objectors would also say that the death penalty is forbidden in those cases as well.

f) But where is the justification for stopping at the death penalty?  How can such judges impose any penalty at all, if the standard for judgment is that they must be sinless to condemn her?

g) How does Jesus' own non-condemnation of the woman fit within this rubric?  He was sinless, yet he did not condemn the woman.  Why was it?  The lack of sufficient witnesses?  The lack of proper judicial process?  Or was Jesus' point instead about God's mercy to sinful men?

In short, this appeal to the story of the woman caught in adultery is ill-advised.  Not only is there the canonical question, but even assuming its canonicity it does not point at an end to the death penalty either for adultery or in general.  Yet, if it pointed to an end to the death penalty for adultery, its grounds of justification would logically apply to all punishment for any crime, since none of us are sinless.  That conclusion is absurd, demonstrating the absurdity of the underlying position whose logical conclusion it is.


Monday, September 09, 2013

A Couple Quick Comparisons between Dr. White and Dr. Caner

Ergun Caner said: "I got my doctorate in Global Apologetics because I'm curious." (source)
James White actually has earned degrees in apologetics:
  • Th.M. Apologetics, Faraston Seminary, 1995
  • Th.D., Apologetics, Columbia Evangelical Seminary, 1998
  • D.Min, Apologetics, Columbia Evangelical Seminary, 2002
Ergun Caner said that he debated Shabir Ally (source).
James White actually has debated Shabir Ally:
  • Is the New Testament We Possess Today Inspired? May, 2006, vs. Shabir Ally, Biola University
  • Did Jesus Offer Himself on the Cross as a Willing Sacrifice for the Sins of God's People?, October, 2007, vs. Shabir Ally, Seattle, WA
  • Is Jesus Prophesied in the OT? vs. Shabir Ally, November 17, 2008, London, England
  • Is Muhammad Prophesied in the Bible? vs. Shabir Ally, November 17, 2008, London England

Early Ninth Century Commentaries on the Pauline Epistles

Studying the patristic era authors is hard enough.  There is a wealth of writings, which nevertheless only represents a tiny fraction of the actual men of the era, much of which is not particularly accessible in English today.  The medieval period is even more of a challenge.  For example:
From the years 800-860, the Pauline epistles received more exegetical attention than any other scriptural texts. There are eleven extant works of either homiletic selections (2) or comprehensive commentaries (9) on the Pauline epistles. Six authors are responsible for the nine commentaries: Alcuin, Claudius of Turin, Rabanus Maurus, Haimo of Auxerre, four by Florus of Lyons, and the Collectaneum by Sedulius Scottus.
(Michael C. Sloan, The Harmonious Organ of Sedulius Scottus, p. 40)

I've previously mentioned the commentary by Claudius of Turin (here), and you may have heard of some of the other writers.  Nevertheless, it is hard to find English translations of these commentaries.  The same problem seems to hold true through to the Reformation, and even into the Reformation, with many Reformation-era Latin works remaining only available in Latin.  This makes the task of historical theology that much more difficult for English-speaking students.  It also effectively cuts off most English speaking Christians from the thoughts of the medieval authors.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Eaten Verse of the Quran - A Shia Fabrication?

I recently had an interesting exchange with a Muslim who insisted that the Quran has been perfectly preserved. I pointed out that according to at least one hadith, one verse of the Quran was eaten. The Muslim responded that I should not believe what he claimed was a Shia fabrication.

The relevant hadith can be found in one of the six major Sunni collections of Hadith:
It was narrated that 'Aishah said: “The Verse of stoning and of breastfeeding an adult ten times was revealed, and the paper was with me under my pillow. When the Messenger of Allah died, we were preoccupied with his death, and a tame sheep came in and ate it.”
Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 3, Book 9, Hadith 1944 (Arabic reference: Book 9, Hadith 2020). The copy of Ibn Majah I used has designated this as a "good" (Hasan) hadith (see here).

Essentially the same story can also be found cited this way:
[Narrated 'Aisha] "The verse of the stoning and of suckling an adult ten times were revealed, and they were (written) on a paper and kept under my bed. When the messenger of Allah expired and we were preoccupied with his death, a goat entered and ate away the paper."
Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal. vol. 6. p. 269; Sunan Ibn Majah, p. 626; Ibn Qutbah, Tawil Mukhtalafi 'l-Hadith (Cairo: Maktaba al-Kulliyat al-Azhariyya. 1966) p. 310; As-Suyuti, ad-Durru 'l-Manthur, vol. 2. p. 13
I found it cited that way, interestingly enough, in a web page that appears to be Shi'ite, criticizing the Sunnis for their adherence to ahadith. The page argues:
It needs no great intelligence to see that this theory of abrogation of recital cannot be of any use in such cases. If a surah or verse was recited in the life of the Prophet and then it was lost either because the reciters were killed in a battle, or because a goat devoured it or for any other reason, then the question arises: Who had the right to abrogate a Qur'anic verse after the Prophet's death? Had any other prophet come after Muhammad (peace be on him and his progeny)? That is why Sayyid al-Khu'i has said, "It is clear that the theory of abrogation of recital (naskhu 't-tilawah) is exactly the same as belief in alteration in and omission from the Qur'an."
Therefore we have to strictly adhere to the well established principle that any hadith going against the Qur'an must be discarded and 'thrown to the wall' - if it cannot be reinterpreted in an acceptable way.  

One downside of this particular Shi'ite approach to the hadith material is that the person will never be able to persuaded by the historical evidence that demonstrates that the Qur'an has not been perfectly preserved.

Moreover, the Shi'ite argument cited above presumes that the Qur'an was in a fixed form by the death of Mohammed.  That assumption, however, is open to question.  There are good reasons (such as the very hadith mentioned above) to believe that the Qur'an was not in an assembled form at least until Abu Bak'r recognized the danger arising from the fact that so many reciters of the Qur'an had died in battle during the battle of Yamama.  Moreover, there is reason to believe that the form of the Qur'an created by the first caliph (Abu Bak'r) is not necessarily the same form as that provided by Uthman (the third caliph).


Thursday, September 05, 2013

Dispassionately Covering Topics about which We're Passionate

When the government (any branch of it) makes decisions we don't like, it is natural for us to be impassioned in our response. We ought, however, to remember to try to set aside our emotions when we respond. I recently came across this link (link) to a fox news story, whose headline epitomizes the problem I'm describing. The headline is "the feds" have "forced" churches to get "baptism permits." Sounds more like 17th century Europe than 21st century USA. Once you dig into the article, though, you discover that all that is being required is that if churches want to use a river in a park to perform baptisms, they need to get permission in advance.

The story goes on to admit:
“As of today, the park’s policy has been clarified to state that no permit will be required for baptisms within the Riverways,” Supt. William Black wrote in a letter to the congressman. “I can assure you the National Park Service has no intention of limiting the number of baptisms performed within the park.”
The problem with such a headline becomes clear when you see the more disturbing news buried beneath that disclaimer:
In Olympia, Wash., a church was denied a permit to hold a baptism at Heritage Park a few weeks ago. Their request was rejected because the attorney general said the religious sacrament was a violation of the state constitution.
That one is far more disturbing, but the reader by now is disappointed to discover that the headline was just hype.

We could say much the same thing about the coverage of the New Mexico decision that says wedding photographers can't turn down clients simply because the clients are homosexuals. Some of the coverage basically made it sound like the NM state were going to be rounding up wedding photographers and forcing them to take good pictures of homosexuals pretending to marry. In fact, the disappointing decision was far more limited.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

"Watchmen on the Wall" 2013 - Ergun Caner

Ergun Caner at "Watchmen on the Wall" 2013 has been posted. He is introduced with the story about being disowned by his family, although no one seems to be able to find any evidence that he was ever disowned by anyone except his non-custodial father.

The supposed subject of the talk is "Radical Islam and its influence in America." Caner does not spend much time on this topic, for which I think we are all thankful. Moreover, his autobiographical comments are very limited. While his brief comments may give a wrong impression, particularly coupled with his various accents, they didn't include (as far as I could tell) the kinds of statements that led to such intense criticism of Caner when he was in charge at Liberty University. There is a moment of irony around 5:35 in the video when Caner alleges that "our culture is terrified of speaking truth."

- TurretinFan

Upstream Flooding?

Steve Hays quotes Noel Weeks thus:
[Noel Weeks] The prominent alternative explanation is that the text is referring to a local flood in the Tigris/Euphrates’ valley. However, in both the Mesopotamian flood accounts and the biblical narrative the ark ends up in the north. The problem is that floods always take things downstream. Floods never take objects upstream. If this was a normal flood in the Tigris/Euphrates’ region, the ark would have gone downstream. The fact that it landed in the north in a mountain range goes against any local flood theory.
In addition to what Steve says, I would add that a massive tsunami can push things a significant way upstream. The following illustrates that point graphically - around nine or ten minutes in, you can actually see a large structure headed upstream at what appears to be about 35 mph:
That said, neither a local flood nor even a local tsunami fully accounts for the ark being moved not just upstream but upstream to a significantly higher elevation. Notice how the tsunami pushes hard upstream within the existing riverbed and even over-flows the bounds of the river bed, yet a position less than 20 feet over the top over the bank of the river remains dry.

If the ark had merely been moved 5 miles upstream, a local flood could possibly account for the ark's movement. But movement upstream and up a significant elevation requires something more than a local flood, even one having the force of a major tsunami.

Given that the fountains of the deep were opened during the great flood, I'm sure that there were tsunami events taking place. It's quite possible that some of the ark's movement was due to a tsunami surge.

Of course, all of this seems rather unnecessary. The flood was world-wide and covered the tops of the mountains. Moreover, the whole reason for the ark was to preserve the life of humans and the air-breathing animals, something that would not have been necessary, had the flood only been local.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Response to Rachel Slick

By way of disclaimer, I happen to be a blogger on the team at CARM.  I didn't mention this post to Matt Slick, nor does it represent his position or the position of CARM (well, it may, if they happen to agree).

I won't address everything that Miss Slick said.  It is very sad to see a beautiful young woman departing from the faith, regardless of the reasons, because it means that she is giving up the world to come for the empty and fleeting pleasures of this world - demonstrating a lack of lasting spiritual beauty beneath the veneer, which will soon fade.

Let me address one point she made.  She stated:

This changed one day during a conversation with my friend Alex. I had a habit of bouncing theological questions off him, and one particular day, I asked him this: If God was absolutely moral, because morality was absolute, and if the nature of “right” and “wrong” surpassed space, time, and existence, and if it was as much a fundamental property of reality as math, then why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?
Alex had no answer — and I realized I didn’t either. 
The answer to the question is that some things are wrong because they contradict the nature of God, and some things are wrong simply because God has commanded otherwise.  An obvious example is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - one tree in the garden.  Is eating fruit something in itself evil?  No.  Rather, it was evil because God had forbidden Adam to eat of the fruit of the tree.

The same kinds of things apply to, for example, the ceremonial law.  Eating bacon-wrapped shrimp was not wrong absolutely, but only because God had commanded the Israelites to abstain from such food.

It's the classic distinction between things "malum in se" (evil in themselves - like murder or theft) or "malum prohibitum" (evil because prohibited - like driving after curfew).  I'm very surprised that neither Rachel nor Alex had that answer.

Moreover, this distinction should be obvious from the law itself.  To disobey God (in general) is clearly a contradiction of the nature of God.  Thus, it is also wrong to disobey particular commands of God, even if those commands have an only temporary purpose.  To make the matter easier to follow, consider the case of the command that we obey our parents.  This command may have its root in the nature of God, but the particular commands of our parents may not.  There is no eternal "eat your spaghetti" aspect of God's character, yet it is sinful for a child to disobey his parents' command to eat his spaghetti, because he is not obeying his parents.

I don't believe that this particular issue is really the reason that Rachel abandoned God's law.  Still, I would like to take this opportunity to help her see that her abandonment of God's law was irrational.  Perhaps God will use this to draw her back to the faith - or to the faith for the first time, if she never believed.


A Traditionalist Response to John Stott's (and others') Arguments for Annihilationism

The title of this blog post refers to an interesting article by Robert A. Peterson, who was (and I believe still is) professor of systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary.  (Here is a link to the article.)

The arguments answered include the following:
1. The "Vocabulary of Destruction" Argument
2. The Hell-Fire Imagery Argument
3. The Justice of God Argument
4. The "Universalist Passages" Argument
5. The Conditional Immortality Argument
One serious question I would have for my friends and acquaintances who hold to, are sympathetic to, or are considering the annihilationist position: does this exhaust the major divisions of the annihilationist arsenal?  I'm not asking whether you find Peterson's responses to be comprehensive and compelling, although I personally found many of them useful.  Rather, I'm asking whether he has identified the major points of dispute.  Is there some other major argument area that needs to be addressed?


Our Lord, YHWH, Our Lord, Jesus - Response to Sir Anthony

Sir Anthony Buzzard's "Second Response to James White" has lots of flaws. Several of those are involved in his argument from the phrase "our Lord Jesus Christ." He argues that this proves Jesus is not being referred to as Lord YHWH but as Lord Messiah. His main argument in support of this is that "our YHWH" is "a linguistic impossibility" or "an impossibility in language." He argues that when we see "our Lord" it is referring to the "Lord Messiah."

Sir Anthony seems to have overlooked an important counter-example:
Revelation 11:15
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ (τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ,); and he shall reign for ever and ever.
That's the one instance in the New Testament where "our Lord" might not be referring to Jesus.

Moreover, recall that this expression refers to the reversal of the former situation:
Acts 4:26
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ (κατὰ τοῦ κυρίου καὶ κατὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ).
Quoting from:
Psalm 2:2
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed (עַל־יְ֝הוָה וְעַל־מְשִׁיחֹֽו)(LXX: κατὰ τοῦ κυρίου καὶ κατὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ), saying,
Notice that Psalm 2:2 does use YHWH there.  It gets translated into Greek as Kurion (Lord) and then presented as "our Lord" in Revelation.

Likewise, the "he shall reign for ever and ever" is a reference back to the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets:
Exodus 15:18
The Lord (YHWH) shall reign for ever and ever.

Psalm 146:10
The Lord (YHWH) shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord (YHWH).

Micah 4:7
And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord (YHWH) shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.

Luke 1:33
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
So, if Sir Anthony wants to say that "our Lord" in Revelation 11:15 refers to the Son rather than to the Father, he is still stuck with the verse referring us back to prophecies about Jesus, prophecies that describe Jesus as YHWH.

While Sir Anthony may be correct in saying that we do not find "our YHWH" in the Old Testament, we do find examples where "our Lord" is used in reference to YHWH:
Nehemiah 8:10
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehemiah 10:29
They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;

Psalm 8:1
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Psalm 8:9
O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Psalm 135:5
For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.

Psalm 147:5
Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
In other words, if Sir Anthony is making the trivial point that one would say "Our Adonai" not "Our YWHW" and thus "Our Lord" in the NT should be understood as corresponding to "Our Adonai," then who cares? It is still an important title of God, but in the New Testament is primarily applied to Jesus.

Ultimately, I realize that some Unitarians will simply assert that Jesus is very exalted, that he reigns with God, or the like.  There are a number of significant challenges to those kinds of assertions, but perhaps one of the most troubling is that they eventually must find themselves in a position of bowing at the name of someone whom they believe to be a creature.
Philippians 2:10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
I realize that the trinity was not fully revealed in the Old Testament, but in hindsight there were some pretty glaring clues:
Proverbs 30:4Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell