Tag Archives: Theocracy

Paul Copan interviewed on the hard passages of the Old Testament

How would you respond to all of the troubling stories in the Old Testament, (conquest, slavery, etc.), and the characterizations of God as jealous and angry and vengeful? Paul Copan has written a new book on those topics and more.

From the Evangelical Philosophical Society blog. (H/T Mary)

What surprising thing did he learn while researching the book?

Surprising—and yet not surprising—is the fact that the more deeply I dug into understanding the ancient Near East, the more the biblical text made sense and the more favorable it looked in comparison to other relevant texts in the ancient Near East.  For example, the strong bravado and exaggeration typical of ancient Near East war texts (“leaving alive nothing that breathed”) was used even when lots of the enemy were left standing and breathing!  What’s more, Israel’s warfare—directed at non-combatants in citadels or fortresses (“cities”)—is tame in comparison to other ancient Near Eastern accounts of, say, the Assyrians.
As far as servitude (“slavery”) goes, this was voluntary and contractual rather than forced (unless Israel was dealing with, say, hostile foreign POWs who might be pressed into service to cut wood and carry water).  Yet Israel’s laws prohibited (a) kidnapping, (b) returning runaway (foreign) slaves to their masters, and (c) injuring servants.  If these three Mosaic regulations were observed during by Western colonial powers, slavery would not have emerged and the nineteenth-century history of the United States would have looked much different.

What kinds of questions will people who read the book be able to answer?

While I can’t cover all the territory I would like in this book, I try to address the range of topics that are most pressing and most frequently raised by the critics.  Part I deals with the phenomenon of the New Atheists and their arguments—and their case against the “Old Testament God.”  In fact, as you can see in the table of contents below, I use their quotations as my chapter headings!  In Part II, I deal with issues related to the nature of God: Is God narcissistic?  Why should God get jealous?  How could God command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

Part III looks at life in the ancient Near East and how Israel’s laws look in comparison to those of other ancient Near Eastern cultures.  I maintain, first, that while many of Israel’s laws are not ideal (human hard-heartedness is part of the problem, as Matthew 19:8 indicates), they are generally a significant humanizing improvement over other ancient Near Eastern cultures.  God meets his people where they are—with their embedded, fallen moral and social patterns—but he challenges them to greater moral and spiritual heights.  Then I go on to address topics like Israel’s kosher and purity laws, its civil laws and punishments, the treatment of women in Israel, slavery (or better “servitude”) in Israel (and I extend the discussion to include the New Testament), then finally the question of Canaanite “genocide” (which it most certainly is not!) and of whether “religion” produces violence.

In Part IV, I argue that the biblical God serves as the basis for objective moral values and that atheists borrow the metaphysical grounding for human dignity and rights from a theistic worldview in which God makes human beings in his image. Finally, I refer to the role of Jesus Christ as the fulfiller of the Old Testament, who illuminates the Old Testament and puts it into proper perspective.  Moreover, his followers, when living consistently with his teachings, have actually made a remarkable moral impact on the world which scholars in both the East and the West, both Christian and non-Christian, acknowledge.

If some of you are following my debates on Facebook, then you know that I am using this argument against one of the atheists I am currently debating on the topic of spanking. Never, ever let an atheist get away with making moral statements. Moral statements are meaningless in an atheistic universe.

Paul Copan’s new book might be worth picking up because I don’t have anything on that topic. Not many people ask me questions like that, but maybe that’s God’s grace since I would not be able to answer them well anyway. Usually when I read something, he sometimes gives me that question from someone the very same week. It’s very interesting when this happens. But that’s what I mean when I say relationship with God. I mean we work together.

By the way, if you are looking for some good apologetics books for Christmas, take a look at this list at Apologetics 315.

Pakistan woman sentenced to death for defending her faith against Muslims

A story from CNS News about a very brave Christian woman from Pakistan.

Excerpt:

A Pakistani Christian woman is facing death following a conviction under the nation’s Blasphemy Law, after she defended her  faith against a group of Muslims who insulted her for her Christian beliefs.

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old farmworker and mother of three, was working in the fields of her small town of Itan Wali in the Punjab region of Pakistan in 2009 when her hand touched the water that the workers were to drink.  The Muslim women working with her then refused to drink the water, saying that it had been contaminated by the touch of a Christian.  Some reports indicate that the group had been pressuring Asia to abandon Christianity for some time.

In the argument that followed, Asia reportedly defended her faith, although there are two versions of the exact nature of her statements. The Muslim women claim that she insulted Mohammed, claiming that he had died “with worms in his mouth.”  However, Asia’s defenders say that she never made any insults, but rather defended her faith in Christ, affirming that he had died for the sins of mankind and risen from the dead, while Mohammed had not.

After the women complained to a local imam, Quari Salim, the cleric filed charges against Asia for “blasphemy,” and she was sent to prison to face trial.  Fifteen months later, on November 7, she was sentenced to hang for her “crime,” and to pay a fine equivalent to two-and-a half years’ salary for an unskilled worker.

A group of townspeople in Itan Wali told CNN that they all support the death sentence against Asia, and Quari told the news agency that her death sentence was “one of the happiest moments of his life,” according to the interviewer.

“Tears of joy poured from my eyes,” said the imam during the videotaped interview.

[…]It has been reported that, in recent years, over 30 people who were accused of violating Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law were either murdered in prison or killed following their acquittal and release.

Meanwhile, here’s the Democrat Hillary Clinton defending the religious freedom OF MUSLIMS.

Excerpt:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Wednesday the state of religious freedom in Europe, as Washington highlighted policies and attitudes toward Muslim veils and Islam as a whole.

“Several European countries have placed harsh restrictions on religious expression,” Clinton said, without elaborating as she unveiled the State Department’s report on international religious freedom for the last year.

Her assistant secretary for human rights, Michael Posner, cited France’s ban on wearing the niqab and other face coverings in public places and a Swiss motion passed last year that bans building new minarets.

[…]France’s law banning veils — passed last month — was considered an especially controversial move in a country with Europe’s biggest Muslim population, estimated at nearly six million. The Netherlands is expected to follow suit.

If you expect the Democrats to do something about Christians being persecuted by Muslims, you’re going to be waiting an awfully long time.

Also, why isn’t the secular-leftist mainstream media reporting this story as much as they report stories like the Matthew Sheppard story and the Abu Ghraib story? Do Christian women not count as victims to the mainstream media, if the perpetrators are Muslim?

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Mixed results for the Dearborn Four

Here’s the story on Answering Muslims. (H/T Confident Christianity)

Excerpt:

Flags were at half-mast in Dearborn today when four out of five charges against the Dearborn Four were dropped. Defendants Qureshi, Wood, Rezkalla and Mayel were all found not guilty of their “Breach of Peace” charges, but defendant Mayel was found guilty of the charge “Willfully Disobeying the Lawful Order of a Police Officer.” She was sentenced to one day of jail, which had already been served in June. The credit was applied, and all four were free to go. The judge sent them on their way saying “You are welcome in Dearborn.” Clearly.

Even though the person who complained against Negeen, Roger Williams, was effectively shown to be a compulsive liar, and even though the police officer who arrested her admitted that she had done nothing illegal before he detained her for questioning, she was still found guilty. Is there no justice in Dearborn?

The trial process has been tasking in many ways. We’ve spent a week away from work, school, and our families. We’ve had a grueling week of preparing for court day after day, without break or diversion. And emotionally we are spent. But we’ve got so much to be thankful for.

But check this out:

To our friends who flew to Dearborn to testify on our behalf, especially those who waited for a week in the hotel only to be told by the court that their testimony would not be allowed: we cannot thank you enough for your show of support and willingness to sacrifice for us. We only hope we can express our sincere gratitude as wonderfully as you have expressed your love.

To those who supported us financially: we could not have done it without you! When we came to Dearborn a week ago, we had hoped to be done with the trial by Wednesday. By Thursday morning, the prosecution was still not done presenting its case, and so the defense still hadn’t started! Our expenditures skyrocketed because we had to unexpectedly extend our rental car, hotel rooms, and rearrange our flights. Your support has sustained us financially, and the love of Christ shines through your self-sacrificial attitudes. We cannot thank you enough!

Also, a million thanks go out to the Thomas More Law Center, without whom we would have been unable to defend ourselves from the persecution of the City of Dearborn. Robert Muise was not only our attorney and counsel, but he was fully invested in this issue with us, sharing our emotional burden and investing more time into the issue than even us. The way he approached the case, he might as well have been handcuffed and in jail with us 3 months ago. Truly our brother in Christ, we would have had to take pleas of guilty had it not been for him and his diligence.

And more details about Negeen are now out here.

This is why I tell young people to think ahead and build a savings account for situations like this. Everything costs money, and often your ability to take these bold stands are conditional on the size of your savings account. It reminds me of the Human Rights Commissions in Canada, and their war against free speech. They can put you on trial for several years and drain you of tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees if you fight them in court, like they did with pastor Stephen Boissoin. In a very real and practical way, your ability to be faithful under fire may rest on the degrees you have earned in school, and the money you earn and save while working.

An army marches on its stomach – and an army has to guard its supply lines. Similarly, Christians can only take bold stands on a full wallet. Nabeel, for example, is trained as a medical doctor. That is a field that would allow him to pay for loads of lawyers so he can get into as much legal trouble as he wants for speaking out about what he believes. If he chooses to continue his medical career, he would be well-supplied with funding, and able to mix it up with the other side. He would be able to back up his tough talk in the court room.

I am reminded of how the poor financial decisions made by the anti-intellectual fundamentalist Dan Barker cost him his faith. Do not test God by getting into more trouble than you can handle, and hoping that he will magically bail you out. Christianity is dangerous. People get hurt. Some even get killed. We are getting creamed in the courts, in the news and on campus every day. Do not waste your life having fun in your youth like the non-Christians do – prepare for your trials now. You cannot spend all your time dancing and singing and drinking and then still expect to be able to stand against powerful enemies who will have no mercy on you in the court room. Make wise choices. Learn everything you can. Work hard. Save your money.

Acts 17 video shows apologists were peacefully engaged before arrests

The Dearborn police have returned the video cameras to Nabeel Qureshi, David Wood and the rest of the Acts 17 team.

The video clearly shows that the Acts 17 guys were just engaged in peaceful discussions with Muslims – they were in fact responding to questions and challenges from the Muslims at the exact moment when they were arrested. There was no disturbing the peace. No one was even yelling.

Here’s another video of a different apologist being arrested.

Here is the video giving an update about what happened at the arraignment and the police report.

Isn’t it amazing that this was presented to the public as Christians inciting violence? Nabeel was talking to people, and he was arrested. Negeen was arrested for filming. Is filming in public now a crime? Is answering people’s questions now a crime? It is in Dearborn, Michigan.

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Should Iran really be on the UN Commission on the Status of Women?

Here’s a story from MKHammer in the Weekly Standard. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a 42-year-old mother of two, confessed to the crime of adultery in 2006 after being subjected to 99 lashes. She later recanted her statement, but was found guilty despite the fact that there were no witnesses to her adultery, as is supposed to be required in the Iranian justice system. Her conviction was upheld through all levels of the courts, which value a woman’s testimony at only a fraction of a man’s. Ashtiani will be put to death by stoning. She will be buried to her chest in the ground, at which point stones “large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately” will be hurled at her head. The public will not be allowed to see the execution for fear of a backlash against leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran was named to a four-year seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women in April. In its capacity there, Iran will be part of the “principal global policy-making body” on women’s rights. According to the UN, “the Commission also makes recommendations to the Council on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women’s rights.”

I’m for capital punishment when it’s warranted, but this is just ridiculous!

Look what the Independent Women’s Forum says:

“Article 74 of the Iranian penal code requires at least four witnesses — four men or three men and two women — for an adulterer to receive a stoning sentence, said Mina Ahadi, coordinator for the International Committee Against Stoning. But there were no witnesses in Ashtiani’s case. Often, said Ahadi, husbands turn wives in to get out of a marriage.”

I don’t know why we as a nation don’t denounce Iran when they treat women like this – and especially protest their appointment to this UN Commission on the Status of Women, even though the UN is an evil organization. The Iranian court gave this woman 99 lashes and forced her to confess to a crime she didn’t even commit! That’s coercion! Iran doesn’t treat women fairly at all – look at those two Iranian Christian women they imprisoned just for being Christians. Imprisoning people just for their religion? That’s not fair!

Check out this Conservative MP from Canada, Pierre Poilievre. He’s talking about Coptic Christians being persecuted.

Here’s another Conservative MP from Canada, Jason Kenney. He’s talking about victims of communist regimes.

Why can’t we do that? We’re the United States of America! Everyone expects us to be the good guys.