Letter to ‘Answering Christianity’

Hello everybody!  Sarah here.  When I was gathering references for my article on the Trinity, I came across this little gem of a site: Answering Christianity.  Although I initially thought that it was a Christian site, it didn’t take long to find that no, it was run by a Palestinian Muslim named Osama Abdallah.  I was reading his arguments, and found his use of scripture so confusing, I had to write a Very Long Letter.  I apologize to you for the schizophrenic organization, and will be inserting notes, explanations, and links through out in italics.  If a response is received, I will post it here as well.

Dear Osama Abdallah,

My name is Sarah.  I’m a Christian, and I stumbled upon your site while looking for some information on the Trinity.  When I realized that your site was not an endorsement of Christian beliefs, I continued to surf around it, interested in what you had to say.  While I respect the effort you clearly put into this site, many of the Scriptural verses you site in support of your ideas shocked me in the mind-bogglinginaccuracy with which you used them.  I am going to simply go through a few sections of your website, and comment on any inaccuracies I see.  I hope you will respond to my claims- I’d like to know what you have to say.

 

On your page “The New Testament confirms that only Peter witnessed the crucifixion”

(http://www.answering-christianity.com/nt_confirms_apocalypse_of_peter.htm) you site verses from Matthew 26 in support of your statement.  The problem is, Jesus wasn’t crucified in Matthew 26.  He hadn’t even been tried yet!  In Matt 27:32-55, the crucifixion and death is outlined.  Nowhere is Peter mentioned.  The 3 women who later discovered the empty tomb are listed as being there, a man called Simon of Cyrene is there, but Peter wasn’t.  In fact, the verses you site are confusing, and don’t make sense in trying to prove your point.  After Jesus was captured, Peter was hiding for fear of being caught too, and denied knowing him.  This happened the night before Jesus’ trial.  I’m not sure how you thought that this was the crucifixion, but it isn’t.

 

Also on that page, you say that since the Gospel’s are narrated in the 3rd person, they are not very reliable.  Now, while it is true that modern scholarship places doubts on Matthew’s authorship of his Gospel, just because they were written in the 3rd person does not make them any less reliable!  The Gospel’s are basically a biography of Jesus.  They are not so much testimonies of what the disciples saw, as they are a record of what they said they saw.

 

Also (and I cannot stress this enough), John is a common name.  There are 2 important Johns in the NT- John the Baptist and John the Apostle.  They are not the same people.  John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, and was beheaded by King Herod, and was the John whom you cite as an example of 3rd person narration.  This is not the case.  The man

who wrote the Gospel of John was John the Apostle, a disciple of Jesus.  We know that John wrote the Gospel which bore his name, because he is never mentioned by name in it (he is referred to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”), despite being prominent in the early church.  This would be hard to explain if he didn’t write it, but it makes sense if he did.  It also linguistically matches the other letters we have attributed to him.

He addresses this explanation later on on his website, but never adequetly explains this- he just shows some verses relating to John the Baptist and says that the Bible was written by Constatine in 300 AD.

 

I have an NIV study bible, with study notes, and your claim that it admits “that the Bible is corrupt and the original manuscripts had been lost” is not true.  Also, assuming your assertation is correct, and the NT was written by Constantine around 300 AD, what’s the point in quoting Jeremiah, a book written 900 years before then, to prove that it is corrupt?  Wouldn’t they both be corrupt and meaningless?  Jeremiah 8:8 is one of many references to the hypocrisy of those practising Jewish law, twisting the words of God around to suit their own purposes.  That’s why believe that redemption through Christ was necessary. 

 

The ‘fiction’ which carm.org references is the Apocrypha, the 14 books of what is essentially Jewish myth found in the Catholic Bible.  These books were rejected in the Reformation for not having enough historical fact in them to be included.
Referring to this page 

 

While we admit that, due to the fact that part of our book has been kicking around since 1446 BC, there has been a little percolation in the wording.  Even in the NT, whose earliest writings date from around 40-60 AD, have a few differences in the various copies.  This is partly do to the fact many of the copies had to be made from memory.  Christians were persecuted for about 300 years, and many early copies of the holy books were burned or otherwise destroyed during this time period.  However, in comparing the various copies to the other copies, what’s really amazing are how few ‘errors’ there are in the texts.  Almost without exception, the ‘errors’ people admit to are the addition or altering of a few words which do not change the overall meaning of a specific verse, and could be expected with a book being transmitted orally and translated back and forth from Aramaic to Greek for several hundred years.  The exception to which I speak are the last 11 verses of Mark and John 7:53-8:11, which do not appear in some of the earliest manuscripts.  That’s it.

Scroll down to section 8 to see the section this is talking about.

 

You also say that there are no hard claims in the Bible that Jesus is the creator.  I beg to differ.  In the very 1st chapter of John, verse 1:3, it says “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

This is not the exact page I was referencing here, but I couldn’t find it again.  It’s hard to navigate.  In my search for the right page, I found he discussed John 1 here and here.  Peruse them at your pleasure.

 

Also, as for the scandals concerning Christian ministers, we as Christians are deeply

ashamed of them and recognize our own Bible verse warning us of being taken in by false prophets, and those telling us that the devil’s followers will come disguised as righteous men as in 2 Cor 11:14-15.  But then we look at the other religions track records, and see they are just as shameful as we sometimes are.  Do we really want to get into whose

religious leaders are ‘more evil’?  Really?

Here is the page this refrences. It also fails statistics FOREVER, but I didn’t want to quibble the numbers…I probably should have.  I just couldn’t be bothered because by this point I was getting a bit burned out.

 

Now, when we say that the Gospel wasn’t recorded until 150-300 years after Jesus, what we mean is, the earliest copy of the whole book we are talking about cannot be found until 150-300 after Jesus’ life.  Remember the part where our religion was being persecuted within that timeline and many original documents were destroyed? 

 

Now, the reason why we don’t believe the ‘gnostic’ Gospels that you put so much faith in is because they 1) Don’t agree with each other, nor with the traditional Gospels 2) Frequently weren’t gospels, and were instead collections of sayings, and 3) Contained mythical elements not found in the other gospels.

Many of the articles on their website cite gnostic or uncanonical texts, or the banning of said documents, as evidence that the Bible (and therefore Christianity) is corrupt, incorrect, and just plain wrong.

 

In Hebrews 5:7, Jesus’ prayer to be delivered from death was granted in the form of the Resurrection.  How could he have been ‘made perfect’ if he did not first have to be re-made?

Here.  A nice read, if you have the time to stare at it in utter bewilderment.

 

In http://www.answering-christianity.com/authors_gospels.htm, under the heading The Book of Acts, you contradict yourself.  Either Peter witnessed the crucifixion or none of the disciples did- which is it?  Actually, you’re wrong on both counts- the apostle John saw the events, as detailed in John 19:26 (remember, since the apostle John wrote the Gospel of John, he is referred to as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’.  Why John chose this manner of referring to himself we can’t be sure of, but we can be sure that the saying refers to John.)

 

Jesus did not only bow down to God when he was desperate- he is seen many times in the Gospels going off by himself or with his disciples to pray, and giving thanks to God.

Here, about half way down.  Interestingly, does not address the fact that Jesus did teach his disciples to pray and humble themselves before God, often with physical symbols such as lowering their head, or beating their chest, nor does it establish what’s so important about formally bowing down.

 

Without getting into Isaiah 53 right now, since you have clearly heard that before, I’ll mention some other verses regarding the resurrection.  In Psalm 16:10, it is prophesied, “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”  It was an ancient Jewish belief that a person’s soul only hung around there body for 3 days

after death; after that, they were really dead.  This is why Lazarus’ resurrection was so shocking to those who saw it- he had been dead for 4 days, and had begun to decay.

I’m not certain this was the page I originally read, but it seems close enough.

 

Reading your section on the Gospel of John, I realize that there is nothing more I can really add to this except for the fact that the John in the verses you quote IS NOT John the Apostle, the apostle of Jesus, but John the Baptist.  That is a really important fact.  Your entire argument falls apart because of it.  Even a child with only the most rudimentary of Christian theology could tell you your argument is completely flawed.
As of this writing, the link to this section is broken.

 

The word gospel does not simply mean a book in the Bible- it means ‘good news’ and refers to a specific style of book in the Bible.  The “Gospel of 1 John” is NOT a Gospel, but a letter, written by the apostle John to the early church.  We assume that John wrote the letter because the style matches that of the Gospel of John, both in language and in

theology.  We also have to trust tradition a bit more then you do because our religion is 1)600 years older then yours and 2)Many of our early documents were destroyed, so the memories of the early church members supply some of the details such as authorship.

 

The Apocalypse of Peter could not have been written by the actual apostle Peter, because in Chapter 3 it references the “4 Esdras”, which was written at about 100 AD.

 

In 1 Corinthians 7:10-15, what Paul means is that since divorce is expressly forbidden by Jesus, if one partner in a marriage converts, and the other doesn’t, they still must remain married.  Since they are still married, even if the wife doesn’t believe herself, she will still participate, to a certain extent, in her husband’s sanctification, and thus become, to a certain extent, sanctified herself.  The same logic applies to their children.  And, as verse 16 outlines, since you can’t know when some one will be saved, you can do the best good in trying to save your spouse by remaining married and being a light to them, showing them the value of salvation, after which, if they convert, they will be fully sanctified as well.

This page.

 

Paul’s letters WERE NOT direct revelations from God Almight in their entirety- that is NOT what inspired means.  They were communications with the early church, and written sermons extrapolating some of the finer details of Christian life which Jesus had not hammered out during his 3 year ministry.  It is not surprising he would tell the leaders and members of the church certain favors he might need of them, or to tell them who he was

sending to see them.  He was evangelizing from Arabia, through Asia Minor and what is now Turkey, all the way to Italy.  He was one of THE driving forces behind the early church’s spread, and it is partly because he was able to get people (such as Mark) to come help evangelize with him.  He had a remarkable network of contacts, and new how to get the job done.  So, while the theological portions of Paul’s letters are especially inspired by God, there are parts which, while also valuable and inspired by God, are also Paul “doing his job”, and calling in favors of church members. 

He has alot of pages on Paul being an uninspired conman, but this is the one that I reference here.

 

Now, you will point to this being a contradiction of 2 Tim 3:16- it isn’t.  The Scripture referred to in this passage is primarily the OT, since portions of the NT had yet to be written.  What the point of that passage is, is that you can’t just pick and chose parts of the OT as inspired, and leave behind the minor prophets as crack pots, for example.  And

although there may be nothing theologically significant in Paul asking for someone to find his cloak for him, it was still the will of God that this happen, and he was still doing and writing things in the spirit of God.  You could consider Paul’s asides useful in teaching about obedience, or even just about the history of the early church.  Therefore, 2 Tim 3:16 is not contradicted by Paul’s little non-theogical requests.

Mr. Abdullah talks about 2 Tim 3:16 here, which is why I specifically brought it up.

 

Jesus himself preached to the sinners and gentiles, and called them more righteous then the hypocritical Pharisees and Jews, who kept the letter of God’s laws but did not keep the spirit.  It is established throughout the Gospels that Jesus came “first to the Jew”, and then to the gentile, so that everyone could worship the same God who ruled over them.

I apologize profusely, but I can’t quite remember nor find the page which I am referencing here.  It was basically saying that Paul was a hypocrite for preaching to sinners by taking a Jesus quote out of context.  Again, I’m sorry I can’t find the exact reference.

 

I know I have only covered a fraction of the writings on your website, but I don’t want to take up too much space.  I apologize for the slightly schizophrenic topic jumps through out this letter- I was writing rebuttals as I read and navigated through the materials on your site.  I’ll write a longer letter regarding the Trinity later- this was just about your use of Scripture.  If you don’t know the difference between John the Baptist and John the Apostle (I’m sorry, but that was what bothered me so much it prompted me to write this letter) no Christian will ever listen to a word you have to say.

 

Sincerly yours,
Sarah

 

I’ll keep you updated on any responses to this letter.  Until then!

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Letter to ‘Answering Christianity’

  1. Payton

    FANTASTIC. You could be a bit clearer on the poin that the verse that he cites does not describe the Crucifixion of Jesus. Osama Abdallah doesn’t strike me as the type who can glean even the foggiest meaning from any given writing (AHEM!), so you would have to use small words and be extra clear. Our readers are probably just fine understanding your case, though.

  2. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  3. Payton

    Well, I’m certainly glad to see you’re happy! I’ll do my best to keep posting regularly now that I know we have a following 😛

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