Critics of the Bible will often claim that the majority of biblical scholars are on their side when it comes to doubting Christian beliefs about Scripture. I recently heard atheist activist John Loftus claim, in a debate with apologist David Marshall, that most biblical scholars don’t believe any prophecies in the Old Testament refer to Jesus. New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman often claims the backing of the majority of scholars as well, but such claims overlook or diminish the large number of evangelical thinkers who argue for different conclusions. In their recent book Truth in a Culture of Doubt: Engaging Skeptical Challenges to the Bible, authors Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw illuminate the problems with this assertion.
Christians are sometimes afraid of claims of knowledge that come from sources outside of the Bible, especially if those claims are being made by non-Christians. It’s sometimes tempting to think that if a statement can’t be backed up by a Scriptural reference, or if the speaker or writer hasn’t been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, then whatever they say is suspect at best. Yet, there are vast areas of knowledge that Scripture doesn’t address and that other human beings–believer and non-believer alike–have expertise in, and from whom we can learn.
In their preface to the Christian Worldview Integration Series, J. P. Moreland and Francis Beckwith address this common but misguided attitude, and show its shortcomings from Christian history and Scripture. They begin by alluding to an address John Wesley gave to a group of clergy in 1756.* [Read more…]
We continue our discussion with Abdu Murray about his new book Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews (IVP, 2014). (Part 1 of discussion.) Murray is an attorney, a former Muslim, and an experienced apologist, and his book examines the critical questions of human existence in light of some of today’s major worldviews.
CAA: There are a number of Christian thinkers today who are critical of rational apologetics and who claim that this approach is wrongheaded in a postmodern period. Some hold that the best we can do is tell our personal story and live a visibly Christian life. Have you found in your travels that people are no longer interested in rational arguments for Christianity?
AM: Actually, I have found quite the opposite to be true. I speak at open forums to diverse audiences. Almost every engagement I have is followed by Q&A and almost every time the questions are about propositional truths and how they apply to our lives and ultimate realities. Christians and non-Christians alike are asking these questions. They want—actually need—rational answers to their rationally stated questions. I can recall quite vividly one incident after I spoke at a church about the foundation for the resurrection of Jesus as a historical fact. An older couple, both of whom said they followed Christ for years, told me that they had finally come back to church that day after a year’s absence. They stayed away so long because their son died a year before and while they “hoped” that they would see their son again in the resurrection of believers, they always feared that it was just a feeling. But after hearing the rational arguments in favor of Jesus’ resurrection, they were overjoyed with the confidence that they would see their son again. At our events, we’re seeing many non-Christians coming to faith because they finally find rational answers to the questions they’ve always had.
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Abdu Murray about his new book Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews (IVP, 2014). Murray is an attorney, a former Muslim, and an experienced apologist, and his book examines the critical questions of human existence in light of some of today’s major worldviews. This is part one of our interview.
CAA: For those who may not be familiar with your background, can you briefly share how you came to Christ and the ministry work you’re currently involved in?
AM: I grew up as a proud Muslim and I was eager to share Islam with the non-Muslims who surrounded me in the Detroit suburb where I grew up. In conversations with non-Muslim friends (especially nominal Christians, who I considered to be “low hanging fruit”), I frequently steered the discussion toward my favorite topics, God and theology. It was fairly easy to do because, as a Muslim in that context, I was “exotic,” which lead people to ask me about what I believed. I would then use those opportunities to talk about Islam and challenge Christianity. I would begin those conversations with a straightforward question that often caught Christians off-guard: “Why are you a Christian?” By far the most common response they gave was something like, “I was raised that way”, or “because my parents go to such and such a church.” I would then have a follow-up question: “Are you really going to trust your soul to a worldview just for tradition? Just because your parents believe it?” When those Christians would agree that tradition was not a good enough reason to believe something (and I still believe it’s not) I would then begin to challenge the Christian faith.
I typically began by challenging the Bible’s validity (if I could destroy a Christian’s confidence in the Bible, then I could more easily challenge the doctrines the Bible taught about God). Like most Muslims, I claimed that the Bible has been changed over the years, either intentionally or unintentionally, to include terrible blasphemies against God such as the incarnation of God in Christ, the atonement, and, of course, the Trinity. I would cite authorities like Bart Ehrman, claiming that even such “Christian scholars” (like a lot of Muslims, I considered anyone who was white and not a Jew to be a Christian) agree that the Bible has been changed. This argument would give me an avenue to talk about the Qur’an because, as a Muslim, I believed that the Gospel, the Torah, and the Psalms of David were once revealed by God, but became corrupted. And God revealed the Qur’an to humanity to correct all the corruptions of the previous scriptures and bring people back to true monotheism. To make that claim, I had to demonstrate that the Bible was in fact corrupted before the Qur’an’ advent in seventh century Arabia. [Read more…]