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My Muslim friends and acquaintances frequently tell me that The Bible is not a reliable document because the Family Names of the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are unknown. Because we don’t know their last names, their argument runs, it is impossible to know who these people were, hence their credibility is not established, hence their testimony to the life and teachings of Jesus is unreliable.

A Muslim teacher, Khalid Yasin, is shown making this argument here, along with a large number of very serious and obvious errors which I will detail at a later time.

My Muslim friends also say that it can be shown by internal evidence in The Bible that that neither Matthew, Mark, Luke or John were eyewitnesses to the life and teaching of Jesus, hence their testimony, and therefore The New Testament, is unreliable.

This post will demonstrate that the Gospels were written by  companions of Jesus who are eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus and compiled from eyewitness testimony, that the identity of the Gospel writers is known  and that their testimony is reliable.

Jews Did Not Use Family Names In First Century Israel

First, though, the simple reason that the Gospel writers did not use family names is that  Jewish societies of that time did not use Family Names at all. Jews typically identified by Patronymic or Matronymic names (Son Of or Daughter Of).

Jews only began to use Family Names when forced to by Gentile authorities in the nations to which they were dispersed after being evicted from Israel by invading armies. The use of surnames amongst Jews only began to appear in the 10th Century.

Consequently the assertion of Muslims that the identity of the Gospel writers is unknowable since they did not state their family name is based on ignorance of Jewish naming conventions

If Muslims wish to state that the lack of a Family Name makes a person’s testimony unreliable, they will have to take this argument to God who chose to deliver the Tawrat, Zaboor, Injeel (i.e.Torah, Psalms and New Testament) and all books of the Jewish prophets to people who did not have Family Names and yet wrote Holy Scripture.

While Jews were often named by Patronymics, they could be named in a variety of ways as this article describes. Jews could be named by Tribe, Occupation, Place Of Birth, Place Of Residence, by Reputation, by Title (e.g. Jesus Christ) or by a descriptive honorific. An example of the last is the Gospel writer John who with his brother James were called Boanerges (Sons Of Thunder) in description of their personality  or Richard, King of England named Richard Lionheart in honour of his courage.

Sometimes a new name, different to one’s birth name, could be bestowed on a person by a teacher or by their community, or taken upon oneself to indicate a change of destiny, circumstances or attitude. Furthermore a Jew in First-Century Israel might be known by two names, a Hebrew name given to them at birth and also a Greek name which was adopted by them to function more easily in the Roman-dominated society of that time and place.

These sorts of naming conventions were used all over the Ancient Middle East and in many places in ancient times. There was simply no need for Family Names in many societies and even where Family Names were used these many other ways of identifying a particular person could be used and functioned as unique identifiers i.e. names.

So the names of the Gospel writers are:

Matthew; Levi Son Of Alphaeus Mark 2:14 (New name adopted or bestowed)

Mark; John Mark Acts 15:37 (Jewish/Greek names combined)

Luke The Beloved Doctor Colossians 4:14 (Named by profession)

John Son Of Zebedee Matthew 4:21-22 (Patronymic)

But even these names are not required to identify the Gospel writers as they are known by the greatest honour of all, that of being the writers of the Gospel accounts and Companions of Jesus, or trusted servants and students of the Companions Of Jesus.

So it is when someone mentions, for example, Matthew in the context of The Bible, all people know that the reference is to the Matthew who was a Companion Of Jesus. This is how Matthew was identified amongst the earliest followers of Jesus from the very start. Matthew The Disciple and Companion Of Jesus is, fundamentally, the name of the Gospel writer, which identifies him uniquely amongst all other Matthews.

When someone mentions Matthew or Mark in the context of the Gospels. There is only one Matthew or Mark they can possibly mean: Matthew, Companion Of Jesus or Mark Companion of Peter, Companion of Jesus.

One name is sufficient because the context is so obvious.

This fact is proven by an unbroken chain of reliable testimony from the time of Jesus as we will see below in the section entitled The Identity Of The Gospel Writers Is Validated By Reliable Testimony.

In the Qu’ran, Mohammed is regularly mentioned without his family name. Would Muslims seriously say ‘Which Mohammed do you mean ?’

The Qu’ran Teaches That The Bible Is Reliable

Muslims are, in fact, faith-bound to accept that the New Testament is reliable because no less authority than the Qu’ran asserts that The New Testament (or Injeel as it is known to Muslims) is reliable.

Surah Yunus 10:94 instruct Muslims to verify the truth of the Qu’ran by checking it against the Injeel (i.e. New Testament) and the Tawrat (i.e. Torah or Holy Books given to Moses). Obviously if the Injeel were unreliable it would be impossible to verify the Qu’ran against the Injeel, yet this is what Muslims are told to do. Hence the Qu’ran teaches that the New Testament is reliable. Surah Yunus 10:94 says:

But if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who read the Book before you; certainly the truth has come to you from your Lord, therefore you should not be of the disputers.

Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:47 instructs Christians to live according to the New Testament. Of course this would not be possible if  the New Testament were unreliable. Yet this is what the Qu’ran commands Christians to do.  Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:47 says

Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are evil-livers.

A large number of further Ayahs (i.e. verses) from the Qu’ran could be adduced to this list to further show that the Qu’ran absolutely testifies to the reliability of Gospel writers and The Bible as a whole.

The Identity Of The Gospel Writers Is Validated By Reliable Testimony

This section relies heavily on the article Who Wrote the Gospels? Internal and External Arguments for Traditional Authorship by Keith Thompson.

The identity of the Gospel writers is given in The Bible and is validated by the testimony of early Christians of Jesus who knew Jesus and the twelve companions of Jesus (i.e. twelve disciples or twelve Apostles)  who were directly taught by Jesus.

This means that the authorship of the Gospel writers is attested by reliable testimony back to the original source in exactly the same way that Muslims state the the Hadith (i.e. Islamic Traditions) are attested. 

The identity of Matthew is given in the following Bible verses: Mark 2:14, Luke 5:27-29, Matthew 9:9 and 10:3. This authorship is attested by early followers such as Papias of Heirapolis, who said of Matthew

Matthew compiled the sayings [logia of Christ] in the Hebrew language

Papias of Heirapolis, who lived from approximately 70 AD to 163 AD goes on to say that he obtained his information by those who directly knew the Twelve Companions of Jesus

If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders — what Andrew or what Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say.

For I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice.

In short, Papias says that the Gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew, one of the Twelve Companions of Jesus, and that he got this information from people that directly knew Matthew and the Companions of Jesus, such persons including Aristion and John The Presbyter.

If the preceding two quotations from Papias were an Islamic Hadith it would read like this:

Papias said that Ariston said that Matthew was taught directly by Jesus. Papias also said that Ariston said that Matthew wrote down the teachings of Jesus in the Hebrew language.

I will leave it to the reader to consult the Thompson article to perform the same proof of validation of the authorship of the Gospel Of John who was the other gospel writer who was one of The Twelve Companions of Jesus, an eyewitness of his life, death and resurrection and directly taught by Jesus.

In short, the authorship of the Gospel writers is validated by an unbroken chain of reliable witnesses going back to the original source. Since this is the way that Muslims validate their own traditions, they must accept the same validation for Christian traditions.

And as we have shown above, the argument given by some Muslims that the Gospel writers are unreliable witnesses because they didn’t give their Family Names is based on ignorance since traditional Jewish society didn’t utilize Family Names, instead typically using Patronymics.

In any case The Qu’ran itself testifies to the reliability of the Injeel (New Testament) which makes acceptance of the reliability of The Bible mandatory for Muslims.

Mark and Luke Not Companions

Muslims are correct to state that the Gospels of Luke and Mark were not written by Companions Of Jesus. Nevertheless these Gospels have the same authority as the other Gospels as they were written under the supervision of Companions to Jesus who lived with Him and bring us the teaching of The Holy Injeel Of Jesus.

In addition, though Mark was not a Companion of Jesus, it is probable that Mark was a disciple of Jesus in his outer circle, lived in Jerusalem and was a eyewitness of Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. I detail this below.

The Gospel Of Mark was written by Mark under the teaching of Peter, who was one of the Twelve Companions of Jesus. Peter lived with Jesus and was taught directly by Jesus. Mark became an assistant to Peter and lived with Peter as Peter taught the message of The Injeel. John The Presbyter, who knew the Twelve Companions Of Jesus, told Papias that Mark had accurately written down the teaching of Peter, who himself had received them from Jesus

This also the presbyter said:Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ

If this were an Islamic Hadith it would say

Papias said that John The Presbyter said that many of the Twelve Companions said that Mark accurately wrote down the teachings of Peter who received them from Jesus.

So, the Gospel of Mark has reliable attestation to Jesus through Papias. Muslims are therefore obliged to accept the reliability of  The Gospel Of Mark because it is reliably attested to the original source in the same way that Islamic Hadith are attested.

Mark, Disciple and Eyewitness

As a further note, while Mark himself was not a Companion Of Jesus, it is probable that he was an eyewitness to certain important facts in the life of Jesus including his arrest, trial and crucifixion.  I make this claim based on the identification of Mark as the disciple who was seized by guards at Jesus’ arrest but who escaped and ran away.

Based on this identification, Mark lived in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ life and Jesus’ visits to Jerusalem and was able to personally  witness the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus as well, it is logical to presume, many other things that Jesus did.

As a resident of Jerusalem, Mark was also therefore personally knowledgeable about many things about the History of Jesus such as how the general public responded to Jesus teaching and claims and events in the city.

The Authority And Reliability Of The Gospel Of Luke

The authority and reliability of The Gospel Of Luke comes about because Luke was a student of Paul who was directly taught by Jesus.

Muslims assert that Paul  cannot be considered reliable because he didn’t know Jesus. In this they contradict God’s Holy Books.

The Injeel (New Testament) says that Paul did know Jesus and was directly taught by Jesus after Jesus’ ascension to Heaven.

Jesus did this by directly and personally appearing to Paul, teaching Paul by direct revelation. Paul later submitted his teaching to The Twelve Companions Of Jesus who verified that Paul’s teaching was correct, did come from Jesus and that Jesus should be regarded as a Companion (i.e. Apostle) of equal standing with them, qualified to teach the inspired and Holy Injeel. These events are recorded in The Bible in Galatians 1:13-2:9, Acts 9, 1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Peter 3:14-16.

Since The Twelve Companions Of Jesus accepted Paul as an Apostle and affirmed his teaching as being the teaching of The Holy Injeel to us and all God’s people, we therefore accept Paul’s teaching as reliable.

These statements expressed as an Islamic Hadith would be

Peter The Companions of Jesus, John The Companion Of Jesus and James The Companion Of Jesus said that Paul teaches the true and Holy Injeel of Jesus with the same authority as they themselves do.

The Bible teaches in many places that Luke was a student of Paul. Again I refer the reader to the Thompson article for confirmation.

As for the other Gospels, the Gospel Of Luke is attested by reliable testimony back to original sources. Iranaeus, for example, affirms the Gospel of Luke saying

Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.

Iranaeus was a student of Polycarp who himself was a student of John The Companion Of Jesus. Hence the previous quotation if put into the style of an Islamic Hadith would read

Iranaeus said that Polycarp said that John The Companion Of Jesus said that Luke the companion of Paul, who was the Companion Of Jesus, recorded the teachings of Jesus in a book.

Once again we see that the attestation of the Gospel of Luke is provided by reliable testimony back to the original sources by an unbroken chain of transmission. Since this is how Muslims authenticate and accept Hadith then Muslims must accept the same attestation when it applies to The Bible.

Summary

Muslims say that the Gospel writers are unreliable witnesses since they did not include their Family Names in their writings. This means, they go on to say, that their identity cannot be verified and hence they must be regarded as unreliable.

This argument, made by Muslims, is invalid and based on ignorance. In fact, Jews of the First Century did not use Family Names. They instead typically used Patronymics. If Muslims wish to state that the lack of a Family Name makes a person’s testimony unreliable, they will have to take this argument to God who chose to deliver the Tawrat, Zaboor, Injeel (i.e. Torah, Psalms and New Testament) and all books of the Jewish prophets to people who did not use Family Names and yet wrote Holy Scripture.

Muslims further state that the Gospel writers cannot be regarded as reliable as they were not eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and teaching. In fact two of the Gospels were indeed written by eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and the other two were written by students of those who were eyewitnesses, directly taught by Jesus and were His Companions.

The reliability of the Gospels is authenticated by an unbroken chain of testimony of reliable witnesses going back to the original sources. Since this is how Muslims authenticate and accept islamic Hadith then Muslims must accept the same attestation when it applies to The Bible.

Many people believe that in 1985-87, when Negative Gearing was abolished in Australia by the Hawke/Keating government, that rents rose, and rose dramatically.  This is certainly the assertion of the Turnbull government as part of its 2016 Federal Election campaign strategy in which the spectre of massive rent rises coupled with a  dramatic fall in housing prices is daily utilized as a scare campaign.

In fact, during that period 1985-1987, while rents did rise in Sydney and Perth as NG was abolished, they fell in Adelaide, Hobart and Brisbane and remained steady in Melbourne. In other words there was no relationship between the abolition of Negative Gearing (NG) and rental prices in that period.

The predominant reason that rents increased in Sydney and Perth during that time was tight rental vacancy rates. Sydney, in particular had very low vacancy rates (less than 1%).

If the abolition of Negative Gearing leads inevitably to rent increases it should have done so in all cities during 1985-1987.

It did not.

This alone is enough to disprove that abolition of Negative Gearing has a dramatic influence on rents.

Even the recent (March 2016) BIS Shrapnel report which modelled a particular set of assumptions about Negative Gearing and which has been used by the Turnbull Government to forecast general economic disaster should Negative Gearing be abolished, agrees that rents did not rise during 1985-1987. It says

neither rents nor dwelling prices displayed any notable change of behaviour or deviation from trend during 1985-87 [when negative gearing was abolished]

The CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, Ian Narev, whose bank owns a $400 Billion property portfolio says that Negative Gearing is only a minor influence on housing prices. He said:

I can tell you having a $400 billion home loan book – your assumptions on unemployment and what’s happening in global interest rates will dwarf whatever assumptions you’ve got on the modelling about the impact of negative gearing by a factor of…I can’t tell you the number but it’s a big number.

It would appear that the BIS Sharpnel model is drivel.

Macrobusiness characterises the BIS Sharpnel modelling outcome as hoplessly inconsistent on its own terms:

 [BIS Sharpnel say] restricting negative gearing to newly constructed dwellings would somehow crash dwelling construction, raise rents, and destroy employment, the Budget and the economy? Even in its own terms this makes no sense. How does a sagging economy and rising unemployment lead to a rental cost spike?

One should also note that the NG scenario that BIS modelled is significantly different from the actual policy that the ALP has proposed, though Prime Minister Turnbull and Treasurer Morrison used the BIS Sharpnel scenario to criticise the ALP’s NG proposals.

So Why, Then, Was Negative Gearing Restored In 1987 ?

We are thus left to answer the question: So if Negative Gearing has a negligible effect on housing prices and rents, why then did the Hawke/Keating government resume Negative Gearing in 1987 ? My assessment is that they caved in to political pressure, possibly due to the upcoming NSW State Election being fought in a climate of rental stress and declining construction activity.

The Cabinet Submission prepared by Keating in 1987 said, in general agreement with Ian Narev above, that

Evidence suggests local factors rather than tax measures dominate in metropolitan rental markets

But the submission nevertheless stated an expectation that Negative Gearing would re-stimulate the construction sector, which had dropped off over the prior 18 months, during the time that Neg Gearing had been abolished. Keating’s submission said

restoring negative gearing could be expected to provide some stimulus to construction in the medium term

This ‘expectation’ of Keating’s is nowhere backed by evidence in his submission.

As we have already noted, the actual available evidence (listed in detail in the submission) points to ‘local factors’ driving rents. Not Negative Gearing..

My contention is that Keating was feeling political heat and just wanted to be seen to be doing something to assist the Building Construction sector and ease rents. But he knew re-establishing Negative Gearing wouldn’t help much, if at all.

The failure of Negative Gearing In Australia to provide its stated aims of stimulating Housing Construction and reducing rents is well-established by the prominent Australian economist Saul Eslake.

An Expensive And Failed Policy

In 2013 Eslake noted that 92% of housing investors buy established dwellings, so NG has not significantly improved housing supply. All it does is assist investors to buy established homes, this bidding up prices on the existing housing stock.

Eslake also notes that in the decade 2001-2011 Australian Housing Stock grew at a rate less than the population growth. Negative Gearing has simply been ineffective at increasing housing supply to any significant extent, if at all.

In fact, by rewarding speculative investment in Housing,  The National Housing Supply Council, of which Eslake is a member calculates that NG has assisted in the suppression of  investment in new housing during 2001 and 2011, such that the national housing stock was 228,000 dwellings less than would otherwise have been under historical rates of housing formation.

In summary then

  • Abolition of Negative Gearing did not increase rents between 1985 and 1987
  • Negative Gearing does not stimulate housing construction
  • Negative Gearing is a very minor factor in housing prices
  • Negative Gearing does not reduce rents
  • The March 2016 BIS Sharpnel report is based on a faulty and self-contradictory model of Negative Gearing effects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving through Northern NSW today, I switched on the radio, surfed the AM band looking for the ABC and chanced upon the unmistakable cadence of John Laws. I was amazed he was still on the radio. Here’s how it went:

The Ignominious Lalal Tax

Laws: Rolf. What’s on your mind ?
Rolf: John, Islam specifically states that anyone who is not Islam is an infidel and should be beheaded.
Me: Awesome start!
Laws: Yes, I know. But look Rolf, The Bible has beheadings in it too. An eye for an eye and all that.

Within seconds the conversation had entered the realm of hyper-reality. The Koran does not say that infidels should be beheaded. That punishment is reserved for Apostates and for opposing forces during Jihad. And The Bible has no beheadings anywhere. Rolf and John were like two galaxies of ignorance locked in mutual inspiralling orbit. Fascinated and aghast I wondered what horrible energy would be emitted when they finally collided. I dialled up the volume a little more.

Rolf: And Islams have put a Lalal Tax on our food. How can they do that ? Can we take them to the High Court ?
Laws: Eh ?
Me: Stalemate. Laws found Rolf incomprehensible.
Rolf. Lalal. How can Islams do it to us ?
Laws: Oh. Ha. You mean Halal. Rolf, Halal.
Rolf: Yes, Lalal. Halal.
Laws: Well the Tax Officials have decided there can be such a Tax. It’s no different to the Heart Foundation Tick Of Approval. I think we’ve demolished your arguments, Rolf.

Wow. Does Laws really think the ATO have permitted Muslims to levy a tax on Australian food ? This was fantastic. I settled in behind the wheel and dialled up the volume a little more.

Rolf: Are you an Islam, John ?
Me: !!!!!
Laws: Er… No.
Rolf: Then you have to be…
Laws: Beheaded. I know. Thanks for your call, Rolf. [Dumps Rolf]
Laws: Heh, heh. Rolf is a good old bloke, but Lalal !? What can you say heh heh.

I had overestimated the energies of Rolf. Laws had simply consumed Rolf whole and regurgitated him as a mockable titbit.

Pauline Hanson

Laws: Next caller is Anthony. What’s on your mind, Anthony ?
Anthony: Aw, G’day John. I saw Pauline Hanson speak at The Commercial Hotel in Inverell last night. She’s tidy.
Me:  Pauline Hanson! I had hit the Mother Lode !
Laws: Oh yes! She’s a great bird! What did Pauline talk about ?
Anthony: Oh. Er…like…er…cutting immigration and common-sense things like that…and…er…lots of things. I bought her a VB.
Me:  Could this get any better ???
Laws: Oh well. Pauline is a great bird, but she’s a bit extreme on some things you know.
Anthony: She’s got the body of a twenty year-old.
Laws: YES! YES! I KNOW !! SHE’S A GREAT BIRD !!!
Me: Now screaming with laughter I narrowly avoided a head-on with a 26-wheeler Semi. I punched the station co-ordinates into permanent memory.
Laws: [Panting Softly] …but a bit extreme at times. Thanks, Anthony.

Rolf Reprise. Frank Cops A Blast.

Laws: Got a text here from Geoff of Glenn Innes ‘Just went to the supermarket and asked for Lalal Food. [pause] They said they didn’t have any so I informed them I would take their supermarket to the High Court.’
[pause] Heheh Rolf What have you started ? Lalal. Hehehe.

Laws: Now, Frank, stop texting me will you ? You’re just a nark. Malcolm Turnbull’s tax havens and the Panama Papers are COMPLETELY UNRELATED.
[Laws then played a sudden one-second highly amplified blast from his show’s theme music. It cut like a buzz-saw. The effect was curiously psychedelic.]

Laws: Besides which Michael Pascoe from The Australian, a good man, was just with me yesterday saying Malcolm has done NOTHING ILLEGAL.
[Another psychedelic blast]

Me: Confirmation Bias (CB) is the sine qua non of Talkback Radio epistemology as Laws brilliantly demonstrates in just two sentences above. Note how CB also bonds Laws with his audience as they absorb the legitimacy of understanding truth through pre-existing bias and also discover just who can be trusted [The Australian and News Ltd] and who should not be trusted [Frank and other critics of the LNP / Malcolm Turnbull]. This is how Talkback hosts train their audiences how (not) to think. And thus also why Scott Morrison thought that being The Minister for 2GB was worth bragging rights in the LNP Party Room.

Laws: Keep your texts coming 1300-654-813. Steve says ‘Shorten should get out of Canberra, do a pub crawl with Barnaby Joyce and meet some real people for a change. Then maybe he’d have some idea on how to run the country’. That’s good advice, Steve.

Me: My mind reeled at the thought of what kind of manifesto for Australia would emerge from the collective unconscious of the drunken, sexist racists strewn across Joyce’s rural electorate...

Laws: And keep sending the emails to me at THE.FORTRESS@LAWS.COM.AU

Me: …not a particularly welcoming one apparently.

Laws: But always the best way is the phone. Yes, Barry. What’s on your mind ?

Barry: Fruit Bats. They bloody stink. The Quirindi Bicentennial Park is full of them. They foul the ground and strip the trees. They’re just flaming Flying Rats !

Laws: And they’re protected! Yes I know. Look you can’t kill them. But how about blasting off a few shells from a 12-gauge ? The sound should disperse them.
Barry: Yeah, well, I can smell them from the car.
Laws: I recommend a box of 12-gauge. Always worked at our place.

Me: Barry then told a good joke about an Irish bag-snatcher. He’s in the line-up with six other guys, jumps forward and says ‘Yes. That’s her!’🙂

Laws: Imagine if you said that about a Muslim ! Thanks Barry. That’s a beauty ! Enjoy your day and get somewhere away from the smell.

Me: Would the Midday News report the apprehension of some maniac in Quirindi Bicentennial Park blasting into the air with a gross of shotgun cartridges ? Crying children ? A SWAT team ?

Local Warming

But I was warming to Laws. The program was a community. They understood and liked each other. They told jokes. It was kind of…nice. And Laws was able to hold nuanced views on Muslims and Immigration. I was feeling reasonably at home in the asylum.

Laws: Jasper. What’s on your mind ?
Jasper: (Lisping heavily) Hewwo John. I have two suggestions for you.
Laws: [Suspicious Pause] Are these suggestions I would enjoy, Jasper ?
Jasper: [Sounding like Christopher Pyne]. Oh yes! I think so !
Laws: [Understandably Cautious] Go on.
Jasper: I am still cowwecting all your Solo Vocal Albums and could you pwease pway more of your own songs on your pwogram pwease ?
Laws: [Brightening Considerably] Oh yes. Sure !
Jasper: And you should visit the Slim Dusty Museum in Kwempsey. I have just been two times. Do you wike it ?
Laws: SLIM. A Great Australian. Do we have anything, Commander-In-Chief ??

With cyborg-like speed, Laws’s producer locates and cues a Slim Dusty track which appears to be entitled G’Day G’Day. In a career spanning seventy years and ninety-seven albums this Slim Dusty Classic is lyrically and musically identical to the first song Dusty penned as a four-year old. Laws can be heard singing and humming along off-mike.

Dusty: …G’Day G’Day G’Day G’Day Ten to one an Aussie will say G’Day G’Day.G’Day G’Day G’Day G’Day Ten to one an Aussie will say G’Day.
Laws: Ah. I’ve always said that song should be our National Anthem.
Me: At least the words will be easy to remember
Laws: It just makes you feel good, doesn’t it !?
Me: I have to agree. It does🙂

You know what ? I think John Laws broadcasting in rural Australia is a force for good. He is more educated than his audience but relates to them very well. His views on Muslims and Immigration are more nuanced than his listeners and he can thus act as a brake on their more reactionary and bigoted tendencies. He’s a bridge to reason.

But for now, as Paul Kelly said in his [OK maybe not] classic Australian track, Bradman,

Now shadows grow longer and there’s so much more yet to be told
But we’re not getting any younger, so let the part tell the whole

John Laws – I was glad I was there.

You made my morning.

This post critiques the aspect of Islamic Monotheim (Tawheed ) known as The Uniqueness And Oneness Of God In His Names And Attributes  – in Arabic Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat.

I will argue that Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat prevents humanity from being able to meaningfully describe God or indeed any single attribute of God and, more importantly, prevents humanity from knowing what is Truth. Thus Islam, by its own standards and teachings, is incoherent as a spiritual belief system since transmission of Truth is the basic objective of any revelatory faith.

My Muslim acquaintances frequently tell me that because the Christian Trinity is impossible to explain then belief in the Trinity is unreasonable and should be rejected in favour of Islamic Monotheism (Tawheed).

‘If you cannot describe what you believe in’, they say, ‘then you should admit that your beliefs have no foundation in reason’. 

Unfortunately for Muslims, it is Islamic Monotheism  which requires belief in an unexplainable Deity and insists upon acquiesence to truth claims which are not examinable by reason.

Islamic scholars describe Allah as an undifferentiated and indivisible monad. Yet this monad has a number of attributes. These attributes, such as wisdom and power, are possessed by Allah in a manner completely unique to him and have no equivalents elsewhere in creation.

As the Islamic site Al-Masjid explains in its article Monotheism

 Many of God’s names and attributes seem to have equivalents on the human level, but this is only a reflection of human language. God’s attributes, like God Himself, are unlike anything in our experience.

For instance, God has divine knowledge. Man has knowledge. God’s knowledge however, is nothing at all like the knowledge of human beings. God’s knowledge is unlimited (omniscient, The All Knowing). It is neither learned nor acquired. God’s knowledge encompasses all things without experiencing increase or decrease. Human knowledge, on the other hand, is acquired and limited. It is constantly changing, increasing and decreasing, and subject to forgetfulness and error.

Note that Muslims are able to abstractly describe Allah’s attributes, in this case his knowledge,  but they are not able to make any comparison or link between Allah’s knowledge and human knowledge. Allah’s knowledge is of a completely different type , not merely degree, than human knowledge. Mankind is therefore completely unable to understand what is true knowledge i.e. knowledge as God  possesses it.

Moreover, not only are Allah’s attributes unlike anything in our experience and hence beyond our understanding , but so Allah himself is completely unknowable and indescribable.

Since Muslims are incapable of understanding even a single attribute of Allah such as his knowledge and cannot know or understand Allah himself, it is unreasonable for Muslims to demand Christians to abandon belief in Trinity for supposedly being unable to understand that.

However, there is a much more serious problem for Muslims embedded in their theology of Allah’s inscrutable attributes, and that is that it leaves them incapable of knowing what is Truth.

Truth, (Al-Haqq), is an attribute of Allah. By definition, Allah possesses and knows real truth. But since Truth, as Allah has it, is not possessed in any way by humankind, nor does it exist anywhere else in creation.

It follows that humankind, according to Islam, does not know what is real Truth, cannot understand real Truth, and is incapable of recognising real Truth, as real Truth is the possession of Allah only and is not shared with creation.

How could created beings, incapable of sharing in the attribute of Divine Truth, recognise or respond to Divine Truth when we encounter it ? Divine Truth doesn’t look or sound like human truth. Its a completely different thing, not different merely in degree. So says Islam.

As Al-Masjid puts it: God’s truth is nothing at all like the truth of human beings.

Since Allah’s Truth is unlike truth as humans conceive it, any attempt by Allah to explain Truth to humanity is futile. By definition then, Islam is incoherent as a revelatory system. By definition Islamic revelation cannot succeed in its aims of revelation. Humanity is simply unable to understand the Truth possessedby Allah.

Tawfeed (Only Allah Knows)

The Islamic site, Islam Q & A, is explicit that only Allah understands His own attributes such as Truth. This is formally stated in the doctrine of Tawfeed  (Only Allah Knows What Is Meant)

[Tawfeed] is affirming the wording and the meaning to which it points, then leaving knowledge of how it is to Allah. So we affirm the beautiful names and sublime attributes of Allah, and we acknowledge and believe in their meanings, but we do not know how they are.

So, Muslims believe it proper to state that humanity cannot know the nature of Allah expressed in his attributes, as only Allah understands them, but yet insist that Christians must be able to fully know and explain the nature of God expressed by His Trinity.

Such an insistence by Muslims appears, to my mind, to be a clear double-standard.

Bi-la Kaifa (Without Knowing or Discussing How)

A related Islamic principle to ‘Only Allah Knows’ is ‘Without Knowing How’ (Bi-la Kaifa).

This principle was developed specifically in order to silence intra-Islamic theological disputes about the nature of God. As Wikipedia states 

Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari (ca. 873-936) originated the use of the term in his development of the orthodox Ash’ari school against some of the paradoxes in the rationalist Mu’tazilah school of thought. Instead of explaining that God has a literal face (which would anthropomorphize God) he explained that the earliest Muslims simply accepted the verses as they stand, without asking how or why.[5] This view was held by the vast majority of Sunni Muslims from the first generations of Islam.

In other words, early Islamic thinkers,  the Mu’tazilites, were using their rationality to probe Qu’ranic data about the nature of Allah and uncovered discovered a series of irreconcilable contradictions. Traditionalist scholars then simply shut down rational inquiry by inventing the priciple of Bi-la Kaifa (Believing without knowing or discussing how).

Islam Q&A regularly cites this principle of belief without inquiry. Here is an example:

Correct belief should be based on what is proven in the Qur’an and Sunnah, as understood by the early generations (salaf) of this ummah, namely the Sahaabah, Taabi‘een and leading scholars. They were unanimously agreed that the divine attributes mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah are to be affirmed without discussing how

So, Muslims believe it proper to state that humanity cannot know the nature of Allah expressed in his attributes, as only Allah understands them, and also accept Qu’ranic propositions without rational inquiry, but yet insist that Christians must be able to fully know and explain the nature of God expressed by His Trinity.

Such an insistence by Muslims appears, to my mind, to be a clear double-standard. I would personally find it impossible to give allegiance to any organisation which enshrines belief without discussion as a fundamental principle of operation.

 

Why Did The USA Sign The Nuclear Deal With Iran ?

The USA has allowed an Iranian nuclear program to continue and will allow $100bn in embargoed oil revenues to return once compliance is established (approx. 1 year).

So what does the USA get ?

Normally I would follow the money, but US corporations and trade do not benefit under this deal. Most, if not all, trade and commercial relations with Iran by US interests and subsidiaries are still prohibited.

But the deal is still about preserving US/Israeli regional hegemony. Iran, however, held the upper hand and so got the lions share of the short-term benefit.

In short, Iran has successfully developed a semi-clandestine nuclear program to the point where it could start producing a nuclear weapons within three months if it rushed to production.

The deal stipulates the decommissioning of 2/3rds of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, the export (and therefore loss to Iran) of 98% of Iran’s enriched uranium and places a cap on the level to which Iran may enrich Uranium in the future.

In other words, the deal is designed to prevent Iran producing nuclear weapons in the short and medium term.

The deal has a sunset of 15 years. After that time all nuclear sanctions and limitations are lifted.

The USA is just trying to buy some time.

In the meantime the deal preserves Israel as the only nuclear state in the Middle East, thus preserving US/Israeli hegemony.

Just on ‘buying time’, the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program only increase the difficulty in making a nuclear weapon by a small quantum.

Under pre-deal conditions Iran could rush to weaponisation in three months. Under post-deal conditions it will still take only one year. The US hasn’t bought much time for its $100bn – but OTOH it may be sufficient time.

Also, US satellite coverage of Iran is complete. If Iran attempted to even move a nuclear warhead to a missile base, that action would be detected instantly and the entire country destroyed within 60 seconds.

Some say that the $100bn in returned oil revenue and lifting of economic embargo buys the US military support for Iran against ISIS.

My view is that the USA actually supports ISIS in Syria as it wants to evict the Russia and their proxy Assad (whereas Iran is opposed to ISIS in Syria)

But the USA is truly opposed to ISIS in Iraq, as is Iran.

I think the USA is actually playing dead in Syria with limited bombing campaigns as a public relations exercise. It is hoping that ISIS/Turkey can evict Russia/Assad/Iran from Syria. The determination of Russia to hold Syria has been a game-changer and put ISIS on the back foot.

On a personal note it is interesting to note that the alliances in Syria are aligning extremely well with the scenario described in the Gog and Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38 as a precursor to Biblical End Times.

So the USA will oppose Iran in Syria, but support it in Iraq, where their interests are aligned.

I think it likely that the Nuclear Deal has been brokered partly on this shared geo-political basis.

So, if the USA-Iran Nuclear deal supports US/Israeli hegemony, why do The Republican Party and Israel oppose it ?

My guess is that probably The Republicans simply reject diplomacy a priori as a political strategy, They wish to entrench Military Bombardment as the single and only US posture in International Relations, seeing this as a more secure long-term guarantor of hegemony.

Possibly Israel has a similar view of itself vis-a-vis Middle Eastern relations.

To put it in a nutshell, Iran had the USA by the throat in regard to the strength of its negotiation position. Iran was on the very threshold of producing nuclear weapons: literally a matter of weeks. The USA had no choice but to offer Iran gigantic bribes to unplug its nuclear weapons program.

I suspect though that the deal will not prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons. Look, they basically managed to do it already under full embargo. I don’t think they will abandon the regional power that comes from being a nuclear power.

I would say that Obama is already dudded.

Further Reading

Here’s a good analysis of the relative risks of options open to the USA in relation to Iran’s Nuclear program: Do Nothing, Bomb, Return To Sanctions or Diplomatic Compromise (as recently concluded by Obama in this deal).

From the perspective of Liberal Party donors, could Abbott’s Prime Ministership actually be seen as a colossal success ?

He destroyed the Motor Vehicle and associated Components Industries which has eliminated thousands of unionists and crippled a major Union.

He also destroyed the Submarine Industry, eliminating even more unionists.

He has made Carbon Pricing politically impossible for at least two Federal Election cycles – until 2020 at the earliest.

He destabilised the Renewable Energy sector. Some repair now in progress by Malcolm Turnbull.

His Royal Commission Into Trade Unions (TURC) has full potential to make both Unionism and the ALP synonymous with crime in the public mind.

He has pushed de-Federalisation of Public Education and Public Health into a live Federal issue. The next budget may well make this a centrepiece of the LNP policy platform, masked by an election campaign based on TURC smear, thus sneaking defunding of public education and health through as a ‘mandate’ while the election is fought on other issues

This will kill two more Unions and eliminate all Federal spending on Health and Education. Hey Presto – Budget surplus and LNP proven again to be great economic managers.

Passed legislation to conceal earnings of company board members, CEOs and the like. Prevents questions arising about stratospheric and ridiculous salaries self-awarded by board members who are mostly LNP voters, members and donors and also dampens calls arising for higher income taxes to be levied on the super-wealthy. Remember most board members are members and CEOs on multiple boards.

Declined to give the iconic Australian company and important regional employer SPC (Shepparton Preserving Company) Federal funds to maintain operations. This almost killed off more unionised jobs, but regrettably for LNP donors the Victorian State government provided emergency funds and kept SPC trading. SPC used the funds for strategic capital investment and now look set to continue profitable operations, an outcome which unhapplly for LNP donors has maintained some unionists in employment.

So there is the list of achievements: Tony Abbott – greatest and most effective LNP Prime Minister of all time as seen from the perspective of LNP donors.

This Christmas just past, my sister and I vocalised some truths about our extended family that were not pleasant. They were real things that we knew and which happened to us. It made Christmas lunch a little bit uncomfortable, a bit tense. But the things we said were true and everyone knew they were true.

When we were children we didn’t say anything because kids don’t get a say much. As younger adults we still didn’t say anything because power still lay with others present and we felt obliged and constrained to keep the status quo out of respect for the unspoken myths and rules of conduct of our family. We knew that what we wanted to say would not be welcomed.

Besides which, there was plenty we enjoyed and loved about our family

Finally as fully-fledged adults in our own right, decades later, we felt like we wanted to say those things that were true, which we knew, which happened to us. We didn’t feel like we wanted to keep on hearing the same myths repeated over and again and we didn’t want to keep some other very important things left eternally unsaid just to satisfy the emotional needs of others.

So we said what we knew to be true. What everyone knew to be true.

It was a bit uncomfortable. A somewhat awkward Christmas lunch.

That’s how Australia Day feels to me. I feel a bit awkward and tense when the Aboriginal people tell confronting truths about my family. I don’t like it. But I know its true.

They’ve had enough. They can’t stomach sitting quietly listening to those same old myths any more. Sitting quietly when everyone knows different anyway. Just listening to those half-truths, so everyone else can feel better and forget about what they really did.

I don’t blame them. When you grow up you have a right to be heard. To take your place at the table. Its not as if Australia is unaware of our atrocities anyway. We should let them speak to us and acknowledge what is true. This very small respect should be granted.

Even if we have to revise our family history.

Did you see the First Dog cartoon ?
Absolutely searing.

Top job, First Dog !

Yeah, so that’s why Australia Day feels like an uncomfortable family Christmas to me.

Abraham is a hero of Judaism and Christianity, admired by Jews and Christians alike for his faith and obedience to God. God’s own opinion of Abraham is totally complimentary, saying of him in Genesis 26:5 Abraham obeyed me keeping, my commands, my decrees and instructions.

But a reading of the Abrahamic narratives shows that Abraham made morally hazardous decisions as he learned and refined his outstanding faith. In this post I want to explore the moral decisions of Abraham and God’s reactions to them. A question that may be asked is Did Abraham Sin ? And if the answer to that question is Yes, Abraham sinned then on what basis is God justified in his opinion of Abraham that Abraham obeyed me, keeping my commands, my decrees and instructions.

Abram Fails To Acknowledge Sarai As His Wife In Egypt

The Abrahamic narratives get properly underway in Genesis 12 where in the first verses of that chapter God’s promises of covenental blessing, manifold descendants and a promised land are made. But quite soon after Abraham’s arrival in Canaan a famine besets the land and Abraham decides to take refuge in Egypt.

Before entering Egypt, Abram instructs Sarai to conceal their marriage relationship and to acknowledge only that she is his sister. This is a half-truth. Sarai is indeed Abram’s half-sister, but Abram instructs Sarai to conceal the full truth of their relationship, which is that they are also married. The motivation for Abraham’s instruction is that his life will be spared and that he will be treated well if Pharoah can be kept unaware that he is Sarai’s husband, since otherwise Pharoah will kill Sarai in order to take her as his own wife due to Sarai’s beauty. The record of this event is in Genesis 12:10-19

Abram conceals the true nature of his relationship with Sarai. Is this a sin ?

Pharoah duly hears about Sarai and his agents deliver Sarai to Pharoah who pays Abram an impressively Pharoah-sized bride price. God then punishes Pharoah afflicting his household house with serious diseases. (v.17) Abram on the other hand becomes massively enriched with Pharoah’s sheep, cattle, male and female donkeys and camels as well as being given numbers of male and female servants.

But why didn’t Abram get into trouble with God ? Did he actually do anything wrong by concealing the full truth about Sarai. If Abram did sin, why didn’t God say or do anything about it ? Does the Lord actually validate Abram’s deceitfulness  ?

Abram Fails To Acknowledge Sarai As His Wife Again. 

Some time after this, Abraham again fails to acknowledge the full truth of his relationship with Sarai, this time when dwelling in the region of Gerar, ruled by King Abimelek (See Genesis 20:6-18). Abram again comes out again massively enriched and the Pagan King again rebuked by God and his nation beset with diseases and infertility amongst the women.

Justifying Abraham

Since God blesses Abram and rebukes the pagan kings one might be led to  assume that Abram’s deceptiveness is morally acceptable to God. How then can we justify Abram ?

First, some have said that Abram’s lack of candour with Pharoah and Abimelek is a justifiable Survival Strategy. After all, to protect oneself against powerful despotic rulers such as Pharoah requires unusual lines of defence, even lying. This argumentsdoes not stand up to inspection. Abram reveals to Abimelek that he (Abram) devised this self-protective line of defence of having Sarai conceal their marriage well in advance of entering Egypt or even Canaan (Gen. 20:13) well before any theat from despotic kings emerged. In any case, Abram admits it was not just King Abimelek he was scared of, but the entire nation of Gerar, which he perceived as dangerous and godless (Gen. 20:11).

Secondly, some say that Abram was using a Righteous Lie which is to say, a lie which serves a greater truth, such as the lie that Rahab the prostitute employed to protect the lives of Moses’ spies against the police force of Jericho.

Thirdly some note that under the then ruling cultural system of Fratriarchy (same as  Laban, Rebekah’s Brother Gen 24:15, 28) the brother was recognised as head of family and so was empowered to negotiate a bride price. Perhaps Abram was justified in utilising a strategy of using bride-price negotiations as a mechanism so as to try and stall Abimelek and Pharoah and so buy time to make a get away ?  In this view Abram was just unlucky that Pharoah and Abimelek were determined to acquire Sarai and would not accept a protracted bride-price negotation.

Fourth, some note that Abram responsible for a household  of people, not just himself and Sarai. Abram had a whole household of people acquired in Harran en-route to Canaan. This household depended on Abram for survival, thus Abram was justified in using practically any means possible to keep himself alive and in a position to defend them, including deception.

Fifth, some note that God instructed Abimelek to ask Abram to pray (intercede) for the healing of Abimelek’s household and so assert that this proves that Abimelek had sinned and that therefore Abram had done nothing wrong.

Despite these apologetics for Abram, I think the Bible shows us that Abram sinned. To discover this, lets look at the record of Abram and the King Of Gerar, as this passage provides the most detail of the two Abram Abandons Sarai passages

Proof That Abram Sinned

Abram’s rationale for his deception of Abimelek, that he, Abram, was amongst a godless people is not supported by the text.  On the contrary, both Pharoah and Abimelech act honourably, displaying knowledge of right and wrong

In Genesis 20:9-10 Abimelek tells God that he is ‘innocent’ and  has a ‘clear conscience’. The Lord agrees with Abimelek, and tells Abimelek that he, the Lord, has acted in mercy to prevent Abimelek from sinning, this mercy taking the form of illness and fertility blighting his household in order to alert  Abimelek to  a situation in his household of whih the Lord disapproved. Abimelek tells Abram to his face that ‘You (Abram) have done things to me that should never be done’

Abram does not dispute Abimelek’s assessment. He just tries to rationalize his behavior.

Abram displays Blameshifting in recounting his rationale to Abimelek, implying its all God’s fault, apparently, that this has happened, not Abram’s: ‘God caused me to wander from my Father’s house’; 20:13

On releasing Sarai to Abram, Abimelech is drily scathing. He says  I have given your brother 1000 pieces of silver.i.e as compensation for wronging him and you. Pharoah was likewise blunt, dismissive and contemptuous of Abram. He is certain that he has been wronged and that Abram is at fault.

What Is The Real Point Of Abram and His Abandonment Of Sarai ?

Actually, Abraham’s sin or lack of it is not central to the narrative.

In fact, the most important person in these narrative is Sarai, not Abram at all. God has promised that He will make Abram into a great nation. But God is going to do that in a way that maximizes His own glory by doing it through miraculous birth. That’s why Sarai is the more important than Abram in the Abandonment narratives. Notice that Abram wants his life to be spared for Sarai’s sake 12:13, Pharaoh treats Abram well for Sarai’s sake 12:16; The Lord afflicts Pharoah for Sarai’s sake 12:17)

The barrenness of Sarai is linked to Messianic promises regarding the Messiah coming from the ‘Seed Of a Woman’, the promise of which God gave to Eve in Genesis 3:15 : The unusual phrase ‘seed of woman’ is a pointer to the miraculous Virgin Birth. Seed is usually associated with men, not women.

Sarai is barren. She is a type of Mary. The Son Of Promise comes through a miraculous birth.

More exactly, Abram and Sarai are the chosen vessels through whom the Messianic line will be propogated. God will insist on doing this miraculously through the barren Sarai. Abram is important only because God has chosen Him. This choice is not in any way because of any intrinsic qualities of Abram. God has simply chosen to love and bless Abram and has promised this blessing unconditionally. Therefore Abram and Sarai, no other couple, will produce the progeny.

Therefore God can allow no doubt as to the parentage of Sarai’s child. It cannot come through Pharoah or Gerar. The promised child must come through Sarai and by Abram so that God’s promises are proven to be fulfilled by God. This is a matter of God’s character and faithfulness. Not Abram’s.

Hence Sarai must be returned to Abram. This is what God engineers, protects, instigates and maintains.

Covenental Promises Made To Abraham

The actions of God in these Sarai Abandoned narratives demonstrate His faithfulness to those promises, not His validation of any supposed sinlessness of Abram

God promised Abraham that I will Bless You (12:2) and Your name will be great (12:3)

In Genesis 20:7 God tells Abimelek that Abraham will pray for you and you will live for he is a prophet.  That intercession is not due to any sin of Abimelek, but is the action of God uplifting Abraham in the sight of the Kings of the region, naming him as a Prophet and so making Abram’s name great. God defends Abram, effectively  telling the Kings of the region. You don’t mess with Abram. He is my man, my chosen instrument. Wealth, military might and skill,  spiritual power, The Hand Of God is on Abram.

Most importantly these Sarai Abandonment narratives show that the fulfillment of God’s promises does not depend on man’s effort or skill  or goodness, but solely on God’s Goodness, Faithfulness and Character.

Whether or not Abram has commits any sin is not germane to the success of God’s mission or to validate his choice of this or that person to bring about His plans. God chooses to be personally faithful in bringing His own promises to pass.

Harmony With Other Patriarchal Narratives

God sovereignly and providentially acts through misguided, ethically perilous acts of humanity even in His chosen family to realize His promises. We see this repeatedly in the Patriarchal narratives. Isaac,  Jacob and Judah all provide examples of how God works his will through tragically flawed and imperfect human vessels.

God makes His promises, His people imperil them, but the Lord rescues them and us.

Even the great Abraham is imperfect.

God is the hero of every story in scripture and of all our own personal stories.

My Personal Favourite Is Isaac

Isaac ignored what He knew to be God’s will to pass the Covenental Blessings of Yahwah to Jacob. Isaac planned to pass those blessings to Esau in defiance of the prophecy given to Rebekah regarding Jacob when he was born ‘the older will serve the younger’ (Gen 26:23).

Jacob lies to Isaac and says ‘I am Esau your firstborn’ (Genesis 27:19), Isaac delivers the blessing saying  ‘Be Lord over your brothers’ and then to his great shock the real Esau comes into his tent. The Hebrew charad means to shudder with terror’. Scripture says Isaac trembled violently ‘Who was that, then ?’ .

God was in that very room living and active and Isaac was caught red-handed trying to monkey around with the Lord’s promises. The Lord had personally acted to defend his covenant.

As for Judah, well he breaks his vow to Tamar, and has no compunction about sleeping with shrine prostitutes and plotting murder, and yet the line of the Messiah goes through him.

In view of the above, Does the Lord tolerate sin: No – Moses (Would have killed him), Jacob, Judah

Finally, not that it matters since The Koran is not among the true Holy Books of God, I would like to note that even The Koran acknowledges that Abraham sinned.

See Bukhari 4:55:578 and 4:55:591 – Doubt about Allah giving life to Dead. Also Koran 21:51 and 26:82 where Abraham’s history as a polytheist who worshipped the Sun, Moon and Stars is recorded.

Shia Muslims are fond of claiming that Jesus did not die on the cross, but rather that a Look-Alike was substituted into Jesus place by God and it was this Look-Alike who actually died on the cross. By this means, Shia reject the basic message of Biblical Salvation Jesus Died On The Cross For Your Sins.

Shia go as far as to say that the Look-Alike substitution theory is taught in The Bible. This article will refute that claim.

  1. The Look Alike Of Jesus

The website of the Shia sect ‘Ansar’  has an article called The Look Alike Of Jesus.

The Ansar hold to orthodox Shia teaching with the important exception that they believe the  Shia saviour, The Mehdi, has already returned to earth to commence the events leading to Armageddon. For this reason the Ansar are rejected as heretic by orthodox Shia. But in all other respects the Ansar hold to Orthodox Shia teaching. Hence i will use the Ansar article, linked above, as representative of Shia teaching on The Look-Alike of Jesus.

The Ansar article says that a young man replaced Jesus on the cross and that this young man is a vice-regent (Caliph) from the family of Mohammed whose appearance was changed so that he looked like Jesus.

The twelfth man who came, or say descended from heavens, is the vicegerent from the family of Muhammad (PBUT), who was crucified and killed, after he was made to look like Jesus (PBUH)

The Ansar article contradicts the Bible.

The Bible says that Jesus died on the cross and does not menton any Look alike. According to the Bible, Jesus himself was crucified and later resurrected. According to the Bible Jesus appeared to many hundreds of his followers after being raised from the dead and was recognsied by his friends and companions.John 21:14 is a representative scripture. This scripture says:

 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

  1. Ansar Details Of Events Completely Different To Bible

The Ansar article says the twelve were meeting in a house at the time Jesus was arrested.

The Bible says the twelve were not meeting in a house, they were meeting in a garden (John 18:1)

The Ansar article says that Jesus had water dripping from his hair when he spoke to the others

The Bible says that Jesus was sweating drops of blood, not merely dripping water from his hair. (Luke 22:44)

The Ansar article gives an incorrect translation of Jesus’s words on the cross  Eli, Eli, lema sabachtani, saying they are a call to Imam Ali.

Jesus was calling out to God using his first language which is Aramaic. They are correctly translated in the Bible as ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me ?’ (Matthew 27:46).

Question: It does not make sense that God would allow an incorrect translation of Jesus’ words in His Holy Book. Therefore the translation in the Injeel is correct.

  1. Jesus Asks For A Volunteer

 The Ansar article says Jesus asked for a volunteer to replace him on the cross

 ‘then [Jesus] said, verily Allah is raising me to him this hour, and He is my purifier from the Jews, so who among you is to have my ghost thrown upon him that he may be killed and crucified and be with me in my status/level? So a young man from them said, I am, O spirit of Allah, so he said, so you are he”.

The Bible says that Jesus Himself went to the cross and never asked for a volunteer to replace Him. There is no record of any conversation with a Look Alike

Question: If Disciples knew of the Look Alike, why didn’t they tell everybody about it instead of transmitting an untrue story that Jesus had been crucified ?

  1. The Reason For The Crucifixion

The Ansar article says that the Look Alike was killed for various reasons relation to the Mahdi including  for the resurrection of Imam Al Mahdi.

The Bible says that Jesus was crucified as a sacrifice of payment to pay for the sins of mankind. (Matthew 26:28; Matthew 20:28)

  1. King Of The Jews

The Ansar article says that Jesus was evasive when asked ‘Are you King Of The Jews’, answering ‘You say that I am’. The Ansar article explains this evasion by stating that the Look Alike gave this evasive answer to avoid stating clearly that he was not Jesus.

The explanation of Jesus’s words given by the Ansar article is not correct. When Jesus says ‘You Have Said So’ he means ‘Yes’.

For example in Luke 22:70 The High Priest asks Jesus ‘Are You The Son Of God’, Jesus answers ‘You say that I am’ The Priests say ‘We have heard it from His own lips’

This can be further seen from other passages where the same expression is used:

“‘The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.’ Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, ‘Surely it is not I, Rabbi?’ He answered, ‘You have said so.’” Matthew 26:24-25 NAB

It is obvious that Jesus was not denying that Judas was his betrayer, but was rather confirming that Judas had answered his own question.

“Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charge against him, saying, ‘We found this man misleading our people; he opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king.’ Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ He said to him in reply, ‘You say so.’” Luke 23:1-3 NAB

That Jesus’ reply was taken as an affirmation can be seen in the charges posted above his cross:

“Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, ‘If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription that read, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’” Luke 23:37-38 NAB

In fact, Christ’s enemies started mocking him for claiming to be God’s Son obviously due to his confession before the Sanhedrin:

“And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said“I am the Son of God.”’” Matthew 27:39-43 RSV

From the above discussion we can plainly see that when we read the full context of scripture that Jesus’ answer to the question about Him being King Of The Jews is plainly ‘Yes, I am’.

Finally, look at Jesus answer to The High Priest in Mark 14. The High Priest asks Jesus “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”. Jesus answered him ‘I am’ (Mark 14:61-62)

In Mark 14, Jesus answer is very direct. This is because Mark has translated the meaning of Jesus’ answer, whereas Matthew and Luke record Jesus’ exact words.

Question: Why does the Ansar website use Jesus words from Luke 22 and Matthew 26 and not from Mark 14 ?

  1. Descended From Heaven

The Ansar article says that the Look Alike came from Heaven. It quotes John 18:37 as Jesus saying that he came into the world from heaven and ascribes this to the Look Alike.

The Bible tells us that Jesus said many times that Jesus came from Heaven. There are many scriptures which say this before the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.

For example in John 6:38 Jesus says “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”

In John 3:13 Jesus says of Himself

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.

Jesus said He came from Heaven. This is a true statement made many times by Him. And Jesus said this many times before His trial and crucifixion, which means he said it before the Ansar claim there was a Look Alike.

7. Jesus Asked The Father That He Should Not Go To The Cross

The Ansar article quotes Matthew 26:42-43 to say that Jesus prayed that he would not go to the cross and that therefore Allah answered this prayer so that Jesus was not crucified.

And pay attention that Jesus is a sent prophet and he had asked from Allah swt to be healed and to push the crucifixion and the torture and the killing away from him, and Allah swt does not return back a du’a of a sent prophet.

The Ansar article is incorrect in its understanding of Jesus prayer and The Father’s response. Jesus does say that he would wish there was an alternative path for Him other than the cross  but Jesus also knows that it is The Father’s will for Jesus to endure the cross and be killed there. Jesus knows there is no other way for Him. So he submits to the father’s will. He says ‘not my will, but yours be done’ (Matt. 26:39).

There is no mention of a Look Alike in this conversation between Jesus and the Father. In fact the text makes it plain that there is no other way for Jesus than to submit to the Father’s will and die on the cross. Jesus willingly allows Himself to be captured and stops Peter from trying to defend him (Matt 26:52). Jesus knows that the cross is necessary to fulfil prophecy of scripture and the Will of God (Matt 26:52-54).

Question: If The Father sent a look alike for Jesus, why is it not mentioned in the Injeel. ?

  1. Silent Before The Shearers

The Ansar website says that Jesus went to the cross without opening his mouth, without teaching, reproving or correcting his listeners. The reason the Shia assert this is to assert that they wish to say that because the LookAlike assumed Jesus identity in the Garden Of Gethsemane then Jesus’ teaching came to an end at this point, so the LookAlike renained silent.

In fact Jesus taught continuously while he was on the cross and while he was on his way to the cross (supposedly the time when the Look Alike had taken over His appearance and identity) Here are some examples:

Mark 14:47 – Teaches that the cross is predicted by the Holy Books

Mark 14:60 – Teaches High Priest that he is Messiah and Son Of God.

Matthew 27:46 – On the cross Jesus quotes from Psalm 22 teaching everyone that His death is predicted by the Holy Books

Luke 22:45 – Teaches that prayer prevents temptation

Luke 22:51 – Heals a man and prevents violence teaching violence is not the straight path

Luke 22:61 – Teaches Peter that cowardice is wrong.

Luke 22:68-70 – Teaches Jewish scholars that He is Son Of God

Luke 23:28-31 – Teaches that disaster will soon come to Jerusalem

Luke 23:33 – Teaches forgiveness

Luke 23:43 – Teaches about paradise

Jesus stayed silent only before his accusers. The reason that Jesus stayed silent before His accusers was to fulfil prediction of scripture. In Isaiah 53:7 it is written

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)

So, Jesus stays silent to fulfil the prediction that he will be silent before his death in the face of the oppressors. He will behave like a lamb. As Yahyia said, Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29), who by His sacrifice, brings peace between God and man by the forgiveness of sins.

8. Fulfillment Of Prophecy

The Tawrat, Injeel and Zaboor all teach us that al-Masih will be crucified as a ransom for the sins of mankind.

This means it is impossible that anyone should replace Jesus on the cross, because it is the mission of Jesus Messiah to go to the cross. No-one else is qualified to take His place.

The earliest prophecy of Al_Masih being crucified is in Tawrat Genesis 3:15 and 21.

The most magnificent prophecy of Al-Masih being crucified is in Tawrat Genesis 22 where Hazrat Ibrihim offers his loved son for sacrifice, but the son is replaced by a ram.

Moses, Daoud and all prophets sacrificed. Why  is sacrifice so important ?

Yahyia said Al-Masih is The Lamb Of God

Jesus said His purpose was to give his life as a ransom for many, Matthew 20:28. See also Surah as-Saffat 37:107 where the Allah provides a Ram as a ransom for Ismail.

Jesus says he is the fulfillment of prophecy of the sacrificial lamb. So He is the one sacrificed. There is no replacement for Him

See Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53

“The Book Of Love”
(originally by The Magnetic Fields)

The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It’s full of charts and facts, some figures and instructions for dancing

But I,
I love it when you read to me.
And you,
You can read me anything.

The book of love has music in it,
In fact that’s where music comes from.
Some of it is just transcendental,
Some of it is just really dumb.

But I,
I love it when you sing to me.
And you,
You can sing me anything.

The book of love is long and boring,
And written very long ago.
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes,
And things we’re all too young to know.

But I,
I love it when you give me things.
And you,
You ought to give me wedding rings.

And I,
I love it when you give me things.
And you,
You ought to give me wedding rings.
You ought to give me wedding rings.

===

To hear this beautiful song:

Peter Gabriel
Tracey Thorn
Magnetic Fields (Original Artists)

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