II. Methodological And Doctrinal Distortions
A. Jesus’ Interiorization of Law
In part 1/3, I highlighted some problems with Faruqi’s methodology as its premises give a distorted reading of Christianity and skew the evidence in favor of Islam. The distortions become evident when Faruqi seeks to rewrite the history of the mission and ministry of Jesus through the lens of his metareligion. Faruqi, like all Muslims, maintains a respectful attitude towards Jesus. At the same time he is persuaded that the “real” Jesus is not that of historic Christianity. For Faruqi, the real Jesus should be based on results of German historical critical method and Quranic sources. One cannot help but notice the irony when Faruqi (and other Muslim apologists) unreservedly appropriates the skeptical results of the historical critical method to critique the bible while at the same time eschewing any application of the same critical method in the study of the Quran.
Faruqi has taken considerable effort to familiarize himself with the works of critics like Joseph Klausner and C. H. Dodd. Unfortunately, his appropriation of historical research is selective and subordinated to an overriding and debatable presupposition that Jesus’ pristine religion was solely aimed at effecting an internal correction of the Jewish legalistic religion. This presupposition allows Faruqi to dismiss any Biblical teaching which he finds personally unpalatable to the corrupting influence of Jewish racialism. Jewish racialism was undeniably a harsh reality in Faruqi’s personal experience. After all, he had to abandon his role as governor of a Palestinian district when the Jews won their War of Independence in 1948. But one wonders if Faruqi has in this matter allowed his unfortunate experience to color his judgment when he analyzes the Bible. Continue reading “A Critique of Ismail Faruqi’s Metareligion and Ethical Analysis of Christianity. Part 2/3”
Ismail Faruqi (1921-1986) is regarded as one of the most trenchant scholarly critics of Christianity in recent times. This estimation is attested by his post-doctoral project on Christian Ethics: A Historical and Systematic Analysis of Its Dominant Ideas (1967). Its 333 pages indicate detailed familiarity with Christian thinkers ranging from Augustine to Barth and Reinhold Neibuhr. His later books on Divine Transcendence and Its Expression (1983), Al Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life (1982), Islam and Other Faiths (1998) and Selected Essays (2018) demonstrate that he is well-versed in matters of Western philosophy and they are replete with sharp criticisms of Christianity. Undoubtedly, his sustained engagement with Christianity is a product of his life experiences, as a Palestinian Arab in Lebanon and subsequently as an American scholar in Harvard University and McGill University. Perhaps he also felt compelled to respond to the vigorous intellectual enterprise among Christian missionary scholars in his time. We shall analyze critically Faruqi’s work as it provides a rare opportunity for Christians to respond to Islamic misunderstanding of Christianity at the level of sophisticated scholarship. Continue reading “A Critique of Ismail Faruqi’s Metareligion and Ethical Analysis of Christianity. Part 1/3”
Modern Philosophy Part 1: From Descartes to Hegel
Lecturer: Dr. Ng Kam Weng
The scientific revolution in the 16th -18th century created a radically new conception of the world which challenged the traditional worldview based on Aristotelian philosophy and medieval Christian thought. This seminar examines how European philosophers represented by Rene Descartes, David Hume, Kant and Hegel reformulated philosophy in response to the increasingly dominant scientific worldview of their times.
Class Schedule – 27/05; 24/06; 29/07; 26/08; 30/09; 28/10 (bonus week, to be confirmed).
The seminar will be conducted every last Saturday of the month from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon. Class begins from 27 May 2023, if the minimum number of registered students is satisfied.
Kairos Research Centre, 19B, Jalan SS 22/19, Petaling Jaya 47300. [Revised on 27 Jan 2023]. Continue reading “Kairos Seminar on Modern Philosophy and Christian Thought. Part 1”
Reading Voltaire’s satire Candide as an impressionable young man led me to think lowly of Gottfried Leibniz as a philosopher. In this satire, Voltaire mercilessly ridiculed Leibniz’s philosophy of optimism embodied by Pangloss, the mentor of the protagonist of the tale, Candide. Pangloss’ mindless muttering of the mantra, “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds,” is plainly absurd when against the backdrop of an unrelenting series of gross injustices, cataclysmic natural disasters like the Lisbon earthquake (1755) and overwhelming personal tragedies that befall the naïve Candide and his love interest Cunegonde.
In Candide, Voltaire was reiterating an objection to theism which was first formulated as a trilemma by the ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus, which goes as follow:
1) “If God is willing to prevent evil but is unable to do so, then he is not omnipotent.”
2) “If God is able to prevent evil but unwilling to do so, then he is not perfectly good.”
3) “If God is both willing and able to prevent evil, then why is there evil in the world?” Continue reading “Leibniz On The Problem of Evil and the Best of all Possible Worlds”
Bonhoeffer’s emphasis on the cross as evidence of the love of God which engages with the suffering of the world head-on provides a decisive answer to the Buddhist allegation that Christianity is a world-negating religion. Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki claims that the cruelty surrounding the crucifixion of Christ negates the simple realities of this life and does not compare well with the Buddhist sense of peaceful transition from this life to the next.
Christian symbolism has much to do with the suffering of man. The crucifixion is the climax of all suffering. Buddhists also speak much about suffering and its climax of all suffering is the Buddha serenely sitting under the Bodhi tree by the river Niranjana. Christ carries his suffering to the end of his earthly life whereas Buddha puts an end to it while living and goes on preaching the gospel of enlightenment until he quietly passes away under the twin Sala tree… when Buddha attained his supreme enlightenment, he was in his sitting posture; he was neither attached to nor detached from the earth; he was one with it, he grew out of it, and yet he was not crushed by it./1/ Continue reading “Buddhist (D.T. Suzuki) Critique of the Cross”
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ recorded in the four Gospels is supported by impeccable testimonies of multiple eyewitnesses. The historical factuality of the cross is further attested by reports found in authoritative non-Christian historical sources like Josephus and Tacitus. The Christian witness to the crucifixion is plausible since it is inconceivable why Christians should invent the crucifixion which declares that their founder died an accursed death under divine judgment on the Cross. As such, an outright denial of the crucifixion would amount to a willful blindness to historical reality. Some Muslim critics therefore grudgingly acknowledge that historically a crucifixion did occur. However, they suggest that someone other than Jesus was crucified. They argue that Christians have misunderstood the significance of the Cross because they are victims of an illusion. God, they claim, replaced Jesus with someone that bore his likeness.
Muslim scholars bypass the historical record with an appeal to the Quranic revelation: Continue reading “Islamic Rejection of the Crucified Messiah”
B.B. Warfield has been accused of being influenced by the rationalism of the Enlightenment, mediated by the Scottish Common Sense of Philosophy. It is further claimed that Warfield’s apologetics is premised on a person-neutral view of reason and criteria of truth. This accusation is incorrect. Warfield stresses that evidence by itself is not sufficient to bring a person to faith in Christ. Nevertheless, the presentation of objective evidence and argument is necessary precisely because the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing saving understanding and saving faith includes opening the eyes of the blind to information which is conducive towards faith.
The passages given below confirm that Warfield’s apologetics is cognizant of the noetic effects of sin and as such, saving faith is the gift of God through the Holy Spirit. Warfield’s dialectical balance between evidence and the necessity of the Holy Spirit in bringing faith should give pause to critics who claim that his apologetics is rationalistic.
I. No one is in danger of believing that “the evidences” can produce “faith”: but neither can the presentation of Christ in the gospel produce “faith.” “Faith” is the gift of God. But it does not follow that the “faith” that God gives is not grounded in “the evidences.” Of course it is only the prepared heart that can fitly respond to the force of the “evidences,” or “ receive ” the proclamation : just as it is only the eye that can see, as Dr. Bavinck explains, to which the sun can reveal itself. But this faith that the prepared heart yields,—is it yielded blindly and without reason, or is it yielded rationally and on the ground of sufficient reason? Does God the Holy Spirit work a blind and ungrounded faith in the heart? What is supplied by the Holy Spirit in working faith in the heart surely is not a ready-made faith, rooted in nothing and clinging without reason to its object; nor yet new grounds of belief in the object presented; but just a new power to the heart to respond to the grounds of faith, sufficient in themselves, already present to the mind. Our Reformed fathers did not overlook this: they always posited the presence, in the production of faith, of the “argumentum, propter quod credo” [the argument for what I believe], as well as the “principium seu causa efficiens a quo ad credendum adducor” [the principle or efficient cause by which I am led to believe]. From this point of view, the presence to the mind of the “grounds” of faith is just as essential as the creative operation of the Giver of faith itself. Continue reading “B.B. Warfield: Use of Evidence in Apologetics Not Necessarily Rationalistic”
James Orr, in The Christian View of God and the World, maintains that the Christian worldview is compelling because it provides a coherent and unified view of life. Christianity as an integrated worldview embraces all disciplines of knowledge and provides stability of thought and directions to Christians seeking to navigate through new intellectual challenges posed by advancement of knowledge in the modern world.
Christian integration of faith and knowledge is based on the following premises: Continue reading “Integrating Faith and Knowledge”
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This course will help students formulate a rational basis for believing in Christian theism expressed as a coherent worldview, followed by a comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of competing worldviews such as Naturalism, Islam and Buddhism.
Next, the course shall explore some of the crucial issues in the debate between Christians and non-Christians: the existence of God, the deity of Jesus Christ, evidence for the truth of the Bible in relation to history and science, the uniqueness of Christ and his salvation in the context of religious pluralism.
Course Outline: 3 hours each topic. Continue reading “Worldview Apologetics in a Multi-Religious Society”
This post should not be construed as an attempt to cast doubts on William Lane Craig’s (WLC) commitment to evangelical orthodoxy or to minimize his immense contribution to the intellectual defence of Christian faith. It only seeks to demonstrate how the tension between WLC’s apologetic impulse and theological formulation of doctrine may cause confusion for his readers, based on an analysis of his recent article published in First Things, “The Historical Adam.”
On the one hand, WLC’s categorization of the Genesis 1-11 as “mytho-history” raises questions about the existence of the historical Adam:
1) Regarding the book of Genesis
– “The primaeval history of Genesis 1–11, including the stories of Adam and Eve, functions as Israel’s foundational myth, laying the basis of Israel’s worldview…Rather, the claim is that the primaeval narratives belong to the genre of myth principally on the basis of their sharing common mythic themes and their effort to anchor present realities in the deep past.”
“In terms of genre, Genesis 1–11 has key characteristics of myth…On the basis of comparative studies of Sumerian literature, the eminent Assyriologist Thorkild Jacobsen proposed that we recognize a unique genre of literature, which he dubbed “mytho-history…If Genesis 1–11 functions as mytho-history, then these chapters need not be read literally. The accounts of the origin and Fall of man are clearly metaphorical or figurative in nature, featuring as they do an anthropomorphic deity incompatible with the transcendent God of the creation account…Then there is the infamous snake in the Garden.” /1/
“Since the Pentateuchal author [is the use of the singular evidence of WLC’s evangelical commitment?] has an interest in history, he intends for his narrative to be at some level historical, to concern people who actually lived and events that really occurred. But those persons and events have been clothed in the metaphorical and figurative language of myth. If the stories are not meant to be read literally, what central truths do they convey?
After listing ten central truths conveyed by the Pentateuchal author on the nature of God, man and sin, WLC concludes, “Such truths do not depend upon reading the primaeval narratives literalistically.” Continue reading “William Craig on the Historical Adam. Apologetics Impulse vs Doctrinal Formulation”