Friday, 27 December 2013

A Christmas to Remember



I started this blog last year in September to quench the fire of expression burning inside me. This is not my first experience of writing for the internet, especially in the religion and spirituality niche. But my previous blogs and social media profiles have long disintegrated into the lost archives of cyberspace.




Initially I thought I was doing good. During the Christmas season, I was uploading multiple blog posts every week, and I got some genuine recognition as well. I had many things to say, and I knew that my writing, reading, and research skills were improving with time.

But soon the reality of life sprang upon me. Even now I cannot call myself stable, either physically or spiritually, and this has been taking its toll on my writing. The struggle of not having the time and energy to come up with new material and the necessity of updating the blog regularly got the better of me, and so I loosened my editorial policies.

I have now started revamping the existing material, trying to find my voice once again. But this is not all that I have been doing during the Advent. I also entered a writing competition. Didn’t win, but it was good. You can read the entry here if you like.  

There is something else that has connected this blog with my life. Last year, I published a piece titled “Dead Children and Christmas” where I contemplated on the infancy narratives and the major child deaths in 2012. In retrospect, I was trying to write about something based on theoretical knowledge. Back then it was easy to say something like:

God’s sovereignty is prominent even when things go wrong, even when little children die

This year, however, I came to know what it actually feels like.

Half of my family has gone to Peshawar to attend a wedding and celebrate Christmas. This is the city where most of my relatives reside, and also the same place where the All Saints Church was bombed by terrorists.

You can imagine how emotionally loaded Christmas would be for them this year. But closer to home, we experienced the passing away of a child, a 9 year old girl who was physically unwell since birth. I didn’t even have the courage to stare at her face before she was buried. Watching the devastated family left me numb as well. I had nothing to say. I didn’t even attend church on the 25th.

As I tried to regain myself, my mind went back to the Christmas story. For the first time in my life, I saw suffering and happiness occurring simultaneously. Even our calendar displays this paradox, for 26th December is a public holiday for Christians while the 27th is the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. In Pakistan, we celebrate birth and death together.

And this is exactly what the Gospel narrates. As Rachel weeps for her children, Judah is consoled that he is not the least among rulers. It reminds me of a quote in ‘Shadowlands’, a movie showing the journey of C.S. Lewis’ ideological musings on suffering to the experience of watching his wife die from cancer:

Why love, if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore: only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I've been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal.”

At this point in my life, this is as clear as it gets.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Sunday, 3 November 2013

Asking for Rights



The only value left in this country is nuisance value”-Hassan Nisar

This blog should have been written in 2012, for it talks about events of last summer. But since nothing changes in Pakistan, the incident I am going to talk about has come afresh in my mind and now refuses to let go. What I have come to understand is this: Asking for the rights is the only right that people of Pakistan have, and they don't even realize it.



And by the people of Pakistan I don't just refer to the Sunni-Muslim majority, but all religious groups in this country, including our very own local ecclesia. It seems as if being Pakistan is a mental state, and no matter how diverse we are ethnically, linguistically, and dogmatically, all of us experience (or rather suffer ) from this way of thinking.

I have also complained earlier about how Christians living in Pakistan have not accustomed themselves to this country very well (at least in any positive way). It's good that we, on average, do not have the same anti-American sentiments like the majority, but then we also make it a point to defend the US foreign policy and the "legitimacy of Israel" whenever we are in dispute with our Muslim brethren. The writer himself has at multiple times spoken as if being pro-drone and pro-Israel is akin to sharing the Gospel.

In this respect, we share a different mentality than the rest, but when all is said and done, we are Pakistanis. Let’s get on with the story.

Last year in the month of Ramadan, I received a text message that read: "12 Christian nurses have been poisoned in X hospital. Please come for the protest"

Rumors were that this happened because the nurses were having food and drinks as usual in the Islamic month of fasting. I went home and told my parents that I would be joining the protest at the city's press club. We had guests over, Christian of course, who informed that the incident did took place, but some Muslim nurses were also poisoned. They had "inquired from the hospital directly". My mom discouraged me to go, saying that there was no reason for protest anymore. But I went anyways, in the pursuit of showing solidarity with my co-believers, and also to find out the truth.

In a matter of minutes, I was at the press club. None of the other people had arrived, though the organizer of the protest lived close by. Anyway, a reputed pastor arrived, and I went straight to him and asked what had happened at the hospital. "I don't know son" he replied "I just received a text message"

Here was a pastor who was said to be a church planter. And yet he didn't bother to verify the news. 

Soon, the whole party arrived. There was a friend of mine in the group as well, and I asked him about the incident. His reply was: "Yes, 8 nurses were poisoned". Confused, I asked: "But the text said 12, and I heard some were Muslims as well"

"No, no. Only 8 Christian nurses. I have seen them myself"    

I said nothing. I couldn't, because it was hard to understand why people so agitated by hate crimes against their community did not have a uniform story. But I still decided to stay. However, the placards destroyed any positive emotions I had. I stood there but did not join the sloganeering. What where their demands? “Stop the conspiracy against Christians “and so on.

“Conspiracy” is one of the most commonly (mis)used words in the Pakistani vernacular. Now read the official version of the story, and compare it with the news circulating on the field.

Once again, unless someone has been blinded with hatred, it cannot be denied that minorities are not protected in Pakistani. But what we as Christians have to realize is that we are not alone in this predicament.

Our Shia brothers have suffered more than we can possibly imagine. How many times have we been forced to leave the corpses of our loved ones out in cold weather to ask for justice? The time has come when the Christian leaders in Pakistan should start proposing serious solutions to these serious issues.

The story, however, doesn’t end here. From where I was standing, on my left was the persecuted minority. But guess what was happening on the other side. A leading religious outfit, “Tanzeemi-e-Islami” was standing there, protesting against the killing of Muslims in Burma! (See pictures and videos)

On a physical front, only a cemented pavement divided the two groups, but perhaps there was something more. The group on the left did not have the audacity to confront the Islamic organization as to why they were so concerned with Muslims in other countries, but not with minorities in their own.

Likewise, the group on the right did not even bother to saying in passing that they understand the problems of minorities in Pakistan.

You know what? I think that the two groups didn’t even know of each other’s presence. This is possible, especially if you have been addicted to clich├ęs propagated in your circles. Most people fail to grow beyond them.

One of the placards by Tanzeemi-E-Islami actually declared the killing of Burmese Muslims a “massacre”. Of course, the situation is dire. Here is the report from the same newspaper quoted above. But failing to recognize the plight of minorities in your own country and then declaring the death of 80 Muslims as “massacre” is sheer hypocrisy.

So, “stop conspiracy against Christians” and “stop the massacre of Muslims”. The question is, to whom are these demands being addressed?

The Pakistani government? For the Christians, they gave you a place to protest, and the print media highlighted it. In the case of Muslims, there is a little that the state could do to stop the crimes against Rohingyas in Burma. And if the Burmese government was the target, then why the heaven were you speaking in Urdu?

In the end, I think that both the protests were a waste of time and public space. Some reporters may have benefited by covering the event. This is not something that mature people with real jobs will do. But the religious are always exempt, especially in Pakistan.  

Note: I am toldthat the Christian protesters also raised their voice for the Rohingya Muslims a few days later. 

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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Why Christians Should be Writers

"In the Beginning was the Word"

Why did I choose this title? Well, fate/destiny/whatever had it that I end up writing content for online clients. That's what I have been doing for 2 years straight now. All through my school years I never realized that the only subjects I did well in were grammar and composition. And then I ended up writing for websites of the some local and foreign ministries. 

To tell you the truth, this  medium of communication has done wonders for me. But most importantly, it has helped me better to communicate the Gospel and my convictions with others. So today, I will be discussing why more and more Christians should take up this activity, whether as a profession or a hobby.
  

God Chose this Medium

God has revealed Himself to mankind in several ways. But when God finally chooses to have His Testaments recorded for eternity, He uses the written word. 

It is interesting also to note that when the Almighty was making provisions for these Holy Writings, He didn't merely dictate out words to stenos. Rather, He used the full spectrum of thought and expression that human authors utilize while composing literature. So you have Moses who starts out with a creation of the universe, goes on natural history, tell us about origin of the Hebrews, spells out the Levitical law in minutiae, and ends with his sermons to the children of Jacob as they are about to enter the Promised Land. 



He is then followed by those who chronicled the development of religion and politics in Israel, taking right us to the poetic wonders of King David and Solomon. This poetic effect rings up in the books of the prophets as well, especially the "fifth gospel", Isaiah. 



But the story doesn't end here, for you are taken right into the (theological) biography of Jesus of Nazareth, after which we find the history of the movement he inspired and how it spread during the time of Nero. But perhaps nothing reiterates my point of God using all literary genres imaginable to reveal His will when we find early the apostles writing letters to each other and to the believers across the Roman world. The story ends with the Book of Revelation. Now read as a powerful message from God, Revelation was initially outlawed as a political manifesto, literature written to invoke rebellion against the state. 

Yes my friends, God spoke. But He spoke in a way that humans would understand the message. 

Breaking away from Judaism

Jesus was a Jew, and so were the apostles. Make no mistake about it. They were Jews of the first rank, always going to synagogue on Sabbath. But the message of Jesus had these early followers at loggerheads with the Jewish establishment of the time, resulting in the birth of a separate movement that later became known as Christianity. 

Compare this with the fact that as Emperor worship became mandatory in the Roman Empire, Christians and Jews began to be seen as dissidents since they refused to call Caesar "Lord". Add these two together, and now you have a nascent community that has a lot of explaining to do; why do you call Jesus the Messiah, and why don't you bow down to the Emperor?  

So what did Christians do? They picked up the pen! 

Church fathers, who once sat in the feet of the Apostles now had the responsibility of instructing and encouraging believers, exposing heresies, and providing reasons for their faith to the world at large. Their letters and commentaries are a great addition to the treasury of Christian literature 

But the early believers also got their hands on something wonderful: the codex. This book-like structure invented by the Romans was used heavily by the Christians to make copies after copies of the New Testament, no matter how rough they were. As a result, the Christian message survived the persecutions that lasted for 3 centuries. Even today we have almost 6,000 copies of the New Testament in Greek alone! 

Codex Siniaticus


All Throughout the Ages

The writing habits of the faithful didn't cease throughout history. The most notable examples are the commentaries and translations of the 16th century Reformers, names like Calvin and Luther. On the more literary side, there are examples like the "Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan. Despite having puritan overtones, this book has managed to inspired millions of English-speaking since its publication.  


The Existing Need for Written Material

All the information present above culminate on the point that literature is our Christian heritage. God used it, the prophets used it, and so did the Church fathers and the most prominent Christians in history. Yes, it is good to read. Everyone should be a reader, for it is this habit that makes us better human beings. But a great many of us should be writers as well. Whether it is fiction, journalism, or theology, the medium of scribbling remains as effective today as it ever was. 

With digital tools at our disposal, we now have greater opportunities to share the message you once received to the world using the Biblical precedent of utilizing all genres imaginable. This blog has been a poor attempt at this.

Examples of Christian Writers 

Finally, here is a list of Christian writers who personify what I am trying to convey through is article:


Luke
We don't even know the guys full name. He wasn't even part of the original followers of Jesus. But look what he has left the Church with. "The Gospel according to St. Luke" presents the story of Jesus as the epitome of compassion and mercy. He heals people and mingles with poor and down-trodden. He is the "Light to the Gentiles" and the Shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep and goes to search the one that is lost. He is the one about whom the prophets of the old prophecy. 

Luke follows his Gospel with "Acts", which is the history of the early Christian movement. Sir William Ramsay comments:

""Luke is a historian of the first rank" and "should be placed along with the very greatest of historians" (The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament)

His secret to writing? Killer research (Luke 1:1-4)

William Barclay
William Barclay has become synonymous with New Testament commentary worldwide. His prolific writing career is highlighted with his magnum opus, the 17-volume commentary of the New Testament. Barclay became a legend in own lifestyle. While there are many distinct features of his commentaries, I personally admire his knowledge of the Greek language. As someone put it, Barclay was "perfectly at home with Aristotle, Thucydides, or Herodotus"




His secret to writing? Sleeping 5 hours a day, removing the hearing aid for maximum concentration, vigorous study, and possibly chain smoking!

John Stott
Expositor extraordinaire, Stott envisaged a time when literature from the third world Church would come forth and wake the Christian west out of it's materialism. Keeping his commentaries and writings on Church issues aside, he is best known for "Basic Christianity" which in my view is a must-read for the new believer or anyone interested in a simple, to-the-point presentation of this religion. Of course the "Cross of Christ" still remains perhaps the best treatment on the sacrifice of Christ. 

His secret to writing? Faithfulness to the Word, and some privacy.

C.S. Lewis
If you haven't heard about this man, you haven't read a lot, religious or otherwise.  Pope John Paul II commented: "C.S. Lewis knew what his apostolate was, and he did it!" Enough said.


Clives Staples Lewis studied and then taught at Oxford, after which he held the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge. His writing prowess is evident by his comfortable adaptation to a variety of genres like biography, apologetics, and children's fiction. 


The Chronicles of Narnia," has sold 100 million copies in more than 45 languages, and has also been turned into a movie series. His "Mere Christianity," published in 1952, was rated "best religious book of the 20th century" by the U.S. magazine Christianity Today.

His secret to writing? Ask the man himself




J. R. R. Tolkien
Lord of the Rings, anyone? On a side note, this Roman catholic was the man responsible for C.S. Lewis's conversion to Christianity with whom he formed a literary group, "The Inklings"

His secret to writing? Invent people, nations, maps, and languages. 


Philip Yancey
Yancy serves a continuing inspiration to aspiring writers like me. With the instinct of a journalist, he touches upon the deepest issues faced by believers in this world. "Where is God When it Hurts?" was my guiding light at a time when someone threw questions of mortality at me. 

Billy Graham comments:


"There is no writer in the evangelical world that I admire and appreciate more."


His secret to writing? He has let it all out!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Studying Jesus#2-Dating the Gospels

This is the second installment in the Studying Jesus series..

Even if we didn't considered the New Testament to be the inspired word of God, we still have to consult the 4 Gospels to study the life and teachings of Jesus. This is for the simple reason that these are the earliest books we have on the historical figure of Christ.



The Background

What's the issue of dating anyways? The point is that the time of writing, as many claim, largely influences what we believe about the text. Of course, (as the argument goes) there is no God, which logically follows that the supernatural doesn't exist. So things like virgin births and resurrections cannot be a part of the historical records. 

So if a piece of writing contains such events, then obviously it must be detached from the events it purports to narrate by a significant time frame. The conclusion: the 4 Gospels were not written centuries after Jesus. These are the ideas that form a background to our discussion. 

Things to Consider

Before moving on, we need to answer one important question: does a late dating harm the Christian position? While critics will say yes, it should not be forgotten that as far as Greco-roman history is concerned, we have precedents that late dates do not necessarily imply forgery or falsehood. 

For instance, the earliest written records about the life and conquests of Alexander the Great come 3-4 centuries after his death. But no one doubts the historical position of the Macedonian conqueror. So even if the Gospels are dated late, that still doesn't make them unreliable.

Dear Theophilus

Just the opening lines of Luke and the Book of Acts signify a common author, all other arguments kept aside. Since Acts mentions a "former book" (Acts 1:1), we naturally assume that The
Gospel narrative was the first to be written in Dr. Luke's two-volume set.

So, when was the book of Acts written? Acts, as we know, is the history of the early Church. It tells how the Christian Faith spread out like fire after the ascension of Jesus. It also introduces us to St.Paul, who would go on to become a historical figure in his own right.

The thing to be noted here is that a plain reading of the text gives you the impression that the heroes of the Church like Peter, James, and Paul are still living. But we know from non-Biblical sources that they were martyred during the 60s. 

But more importantly, Acts makes no reference to the destruction of the temple. This happened in 70 AD, when Titus laid siege to Jerusalem. Christians have over the ages held that Jesus prophesied this event when he said: "no stone will be left on another". Since Luke also records these words (21:5-7), it makes no sense that we wouldn't have mentioned the event when it happened, thus proving the fulfillment of prophecy. However, he simply couldn't write it down if the event hadn't taken place as yet.

This is good internal evidence to indicate that the Book of Acts was written prior to AD 70, even 60. This means that Luke would have been written much earlier. And Luke, in his preface, mentions other writings, which may possibly indicate other canonical Gospels. 

Destruction of the Temple-Continued

It is also worth nothing here that Matthew and Mark also record the prophecy of Jesus regarding the destruction of the temple (chapters 24 and 13 respectively). Matthew in particular was quite fond of fulfilled prophecy. If the event had already happened, Matthew would have definitely recorded it. But he didn't, which gives strength to a pre-70 AD dating. Thus, the proponents of the Markan priority have to push the dating of the 'first' Gospel even earlier. 

External Evidence

Here we present two lines of evidence to suggest that the Gospels were written in the first century. The first is the John Rylands fragment of the Gospel of John. Classified as P52, this credit card-sized fragment contains couple of verses from the 18th chapter of John, and it is generally considered the oldest written record of the Greek New Testament. P52 is dated between 117-138 AD.

Majority of the scholars argue that John was the last Gospel to be written. Since the fragment is dated early second century, we can be confident of a late first century date for the writing of this gospel. And naturally, the other 3 would have been written even earlier.

The other line of evidence is the early Christian writings. In a previous article, we saw that Irenaeus writing in the 2nd century hints at a common knowledge of the Gospels in the early Church. Couple this with the P52 argument, and we have a good case for a first century dating for all the 4 Gospels. 


What Does This Prove? 

It is generally held that Jesus left the earth about 33 AD. If the Gospels were written maximum by 100 AD, then we only have a gap of 70 years, or two generations, between the events and their recording. This, as we discussed, is good enough on historical grounds. The gap is not so extensive as to pave way for embellishment. 

But that is not all. We also have to take into account the Jewish oral culture. One example would suffice. The Babylonian Talmud was put on paper in 200 AD, yet the oral traditions behind it were from the exile period. This of course, it is a much greater time frame than we have for the New Testament.

Jesus was Jew, and so were his followers. He used several methods while teaching that would help his listeners to memorize what he said, e.g. repetition (Matthew 7:13-14 and 18-19), parable (Luke 15), and hyperbole (Matthew 5:29).

So if we combine the arguments given above with the oral tradition factor, we have powerful evidence on our hands that on historical grounds, the Gospels not not only the earliest written works on the life of Jesus, but they have also preserved His teachings with great credibility. 

(Next in this series: Studying Jesus #3)

Friday, 16 August 2013

Studying Jesus


After the Bible series, I have decided to start a more focused topic that revolves around the person and teachings of Jesus Christ at my Church. The aim is to look at the 4 Gospels as historical books, and see what the core message of Jesus really is, i.e. the message which divides the believer from the non-believer. 

Last Sunday, I took up the issue of the authorship of the Gospels. Who were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and how do we know that it was these guys who actually penned the 4 books we see at the beginning of our modern New Testaments?

Now we know who Matthew and John were. They were disciples of Jesus who later became great leaders of the Church. But who the heaven are Mark and Luke? We do not find them present during Jesus's life on earth, so how come they recorded His biography and teachings? 

A more serious question is, why did the Early Church accept the writings of these 2 "outsiders"? These are the questions which we will try to answer.



Luke and Mark

Although the Gospels do not mention Luke or Mark, we do find references to them in the Book of Acts and the Apostolic Epistles. For instance, Paul writes:

"11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry." 2 Timothy

Here the Apostle Paul lists Luke and Mark in intimate terms, as his ultimate ministry partners. We know Luke was Paul's "beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14) who accompanied him on his various missionary adventures in the Roman Empire. But who was Mark?

We find him an equally authoritative testimony of him in 1 Peter 5:21, where Peter Himself says:

"She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark."

Mark therefore was a close disciple of the Apostle, and there is no question about Peter's testimony.

So now we have come confidence that even though Mark and Luke were "outsiders", they were associates of the Apostles and known men in the early Church. 

But the questions still remains, how do we know that it was Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John who actually wrote these Gospels?


Witness of the Church

Testimony of the earliest Church fathers clearly indicates that they believed these 4 persons to be the writers of our New Testament Gospels. Here are some references:



"Matthew published his Gospel among the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the church in Rome. After their departure Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also transmitted to us in writing those things which Peter had preached; and Luke, the attendant of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel which Paul had declared. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also reclined on his bosom, published his Gospel, while staying at Ephesus in Asia."


St. Irenaeus (130-202 A.D) -Bishop of Lyons, In "Against Heresies" 3.1.1, and also quoted in Church History, Book V, Chapter 8 

Again, in the same books [the Hypotyposes], Clement gives the tradition of the earliest presbyters, as to the order of the Gospels, in the following manner:  "The Gospels containing the genealogies [i.e. Matthew and Luke], he says, were written first.  The Gospel according to MARK had this occasion. As Peter had preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had followed him for a long time and remembered his sayings, should write them out.  And having composed the Gospel he gave it to those who had requested it.  When Peter learned of this, he neither directly forbade nor encouraged it.  But, last of all, JOHN, perceiving that the external facts had been made plain in the Gospel, being urged by his friends, and inspired by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel."  This is the account of Clement.  

(Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.14.5-7).

So we see that the Church traditions coincide with the internal evidence of Scripture.

Some Logical Arguments

Mark and Luke were not even disciples of Jesus, and Matthew was a former tax-collector, an occupation hated by his contemporaries. 

If someone wanted to forge the Gospels, one would use more popular names like Peter, James or Mary. In fact, there is no reason to ascribe these names to the Gospel accounts if they did not write them.

Of course, John can be an exception to this since he was a regarded highly by the Church. But then again we see that the Book of Revelation, also ascribed to the same Apostle, was not so readily accepted by the Church.

Hence we see that an impressive a cumulative case can be made for the traditional authorship of the New Testament.

(Next up in this series: Studying Jesus #2)

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Authenticity of the Bible-The Internal Evidence

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to lead the Apologetics class that some Christians friends have started locally. Here is the outline of the presentation that I gave. The topic was the internal evidence for the truth of Scripture, which is the first installation in the month-long series on the authenticity of the Bible.

Outline:

-The objective is to study the claims the Bible makes for itself.


  • This doesn't prove anything, but if the Bible doesn't call itself the word of God, then why are we believing it?
  • Muslims make similar claims for the Holy Qur'an (15:9). Do we have something to match this in our own books?

-What is the meaning of Inspiration?


  • 2 Timothy 3:16 uses the word Theopneustos which means "God-breathed"
  • 2 Peter 1:21 says men were "carried along by the Holy Spirit", which in the New Testament means a storm leading a ship or a shepherd leading his flock.
  • Hence, the message comes from God through human authors. Not by dictation, but inspiration. The Bible has a dual-authorship.

-The Claims


  • "The word of the Lord came to.." and "thus says the Lord" are found throughout the prophetic writings of the OT (See Isa 1:1-2, Jer 1:1 &4, Ez 1:1-3, Mal 1:1-2). Same goes for the NT (1 Thes 2:13)

  • The Bible also shows how writer recognized each other's authority (See Dan 9:2, and Jude 4-18 quoted in 2 Peter 2:4-18 (or vice-versa?))

-The Claims of Jesus 

  • See Matthew 13:14, Matthew 22:43, and Matthew 24:15 where he recognizes OT prophets
  • Matthew 5:17-18 and 24:35 (bringing the OT and NT on equal footing)
  • The purpose of the Comforter was to remind the disciples what Jesus told them (Jn 14:26). Thus, Jesus made provision for the writing of the NT.

-Answering Some Objections

  • Who wrote the Torah? Moses didn't because his obituary is given in Deut 34:5.
Joshua did (see Joshua 23:6 and 24:26). In Josh 24:29 we find the obituary of Joshua himself, but we can confidently know that someone else wrote than under Joshua's name as he himself did for Moses. 
  • There was more than one Isaiah.
But NT writers use different sections of the book under one name "Isaiah" (see Matthew 13:14 and Luke 4:18-19).  

  • Peter couldn't have written 2 Peter since there are marked differences in writing with 1 Peter. 
1 Peter 5:12 hints at Peter's use of a secretary.

-Internal Consistency


-Prophetic Evidence


  • On these prophecies, Peter Stoner in his book "Science Speaks", states about the probability of one man fulfilling just 8 of these prophecies:


,‘we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 10^17. we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man. 

-The Canon Issue

  • Did the Church give the Bible or did the Bible form the Church?

This is an ever-spinning wheel that can't be solved. It is true that the NT came to use from Church councils. But in no case did the Church gave authority to the books of the Bible. This authority was inherent in them (See 1 Tim 5:18 and 2 Peter 3:15-16)
  • Jesus says that His sheep hear and recognize His voice (John 10:14-19). The Church recognized the voice of Jesus and the Canon was finalized.

More material will be updated soon.

(Next in these series: The Bible as History)

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