Thursday, February 13, 2020

Are The Truth Claims Of Ex-Christian Mrs. Esther Dhanraj Valid? (Part 2)


            Sis. Esther Dhanraj’s allegations against Christianity are unbelievably primitive. Her so-called objections are archaic. They have been asked and answered. Answers to her questions are available on the internet.

            Given this situation, it would be legitimate to ask why Sis. Esther is positing the same old questions now. Does she not know that there are reasonable answers to her questions against Christianity? Did she not research well enough for answers? Or is she intentionally striving to mislead Christians?

            A few years ago, Da Vinci Code (the book) was published. It was authored by Dan Brown. One possible reason for Dan Brown to publish that book may have been to gain wealth and fame in the shortest time span. And he did!

            The Bible is the most read book on earth and Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Anyone who criticizes the Bible and Christianity would gain the attention of a huge number of Christians. This seems to be the most excellent technique to gain fame and wealth.

            Sis. Esther and Mr. Rajiv Malhotra allege that Christianity is a flawed product and that it fails scientifically, historically, logically and archaeologically.1 Is this assertion credible?

            Historic Christianity has been in existence for more than 2000 years. Since then, none of the objections against Christianity has prevailed. As Ravi Zacharias said, “The Word of God remains eternal. Those who have tried to bury it only find out that the Bible rises up to outlive its pallbearers.”2

            Interestingly, Sis. Esther has not posted any substantive videos in 2019. Her interview with Mr. Rajiv Malhotra was her only public post after her initial accusatory video in 2018. One wonders the reason for the delay.

            Whatever the case may be, it should suffice if we can reasonably answer a couple of Sis. Esther’s main objections. Every allegation proceeding from Sis. Esther has been answered already. A cursory internet search will fetch the answers. Moreover, apologists from Sakshi Apologetics Network have countered Sis. Esther Dhanraj and Mr. Rajiv Malhotra through their vlogs on YouTube. Please visit these channels: Sakshi Apologetics Network and Sakshi Christian Voice.3

            Sis. Esther alleges that all narratives about Jesus’ existence are nonsensical or a myth.4 On the contrary, every serious historian or theologian in the highest level of academics do not doubt the existence of historical Jesus.

            In the past, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev also made similar allegations against Christianity. Is this a pattern in the Hindu apologetics scheme?

            While Sis. Esther urges Indian Christians to think and question their faith in Christ does she not know that they will also question her objections against Christianity?

            The historical Jesus did exist:5

As to the existence of historical Jesus, there is no doubt whatsoever, not even an iota of doubt exists. Historians are convinced about the existence of the historical Jesus.
Here are a few testimonies of hostile witnesses about the existence of the historical Jesus:4
The testimony of a hostile witness is very powerful (cf. Criterion of Unsympathetic Sources). Dr. Bart Ehrman is one such hostile witness. He is a much acclaimed and widely respected scholar.
Bart Ehrman is a hostile witness since he does not believe in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. A hostile witness (in this context) has no bias or no need, whatsoever, to affirm in the existence of the Historical Jesus.
Bart Ehrman believes in the existence of the Historical Jesus. Significantly, Ehrman emphasizes that scholars who have genuinely studied the evidence pertaining to the existence of Historical Jesus believe that HE existed, “Mythicists have often gotten upset with me for pointing out that almost no one with any qualifications in the requisite fields of scholarship agrees with them.  I can see why that would be upsetting.  My sense is that some of them think that I’ve been rubbing their noses in it.  But that isn’t really my intent.  My intent is to point out to anyone who is interested – for example, someone who just doesn’t know what to think – that those who are qualified to speak knowledgeably on such subjects are virtually unified on one view (there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth) and opposed to the other (he is a complete myth).”4
This should do it!
If every serious scholar believes in the existence of the Historical Jesus, every claim that attempts to disregard the Historical Jesus are insincere and hypocritical. Therefore, these hypocritical claims ought to be disregarded.
Bart Ehrman is not the only secular scholar who believes in the existence of Historical Jesus. Here’s more from the website of Answers In Genesis:5
Here is what some scholars have written about the Jesus Myth (these statements are not just from conservative Christians—the first four are critical scholars who have rejected the miraculous elements of Christ’s life).
Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community. (Rudolf Bultmann)1
To doubt the historical existence of Jesus at all … was reserved for an unrestrained, tendentious criticism of modern times into which it is not worthwhile to enter here. (Günther Bornkamm)2
I am of the opinion (and it is an opinion shared by every serious historian) that the theory [“that Jesus never lived, that he was a purely mythical figure”] is historically untenable. (Willi Marxsen)3
To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has “again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars.” In recent years “no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus”—or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary. (Michael Grant)4
Contemporary New Testament scholars have typically viewed their [i.e., Jesus mythers] arguments as so weak or bizarre that they relegate them to footnotes, or often ignore them completely. (Robert Van Voorst)5
The total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus’ existence. (Paul L. Maier)6
On a side note, do remember that every claim of Jesus Mythers can be rejected by proving them to be incorrect. There’s an abundance of resources [on the internet] to help us achieve this.
Here’s an example: Jesus Mythers contend that Nazareth did not exist, hence Christ did not exist. But Bart Ehrman debunks this contention by ascertaining that [Palestinian] archaeologists believe that Nazareth existed because they have discovered evidence for its existence. He goes on to add that the existence of Nazareth is not even a point of debate among Palestinian archaeologists.6

            Sis. Esther also claims that the God of the Bible is not the God of the universe.6 She alleges that the God of the Bible is unfair.7 She substantiates this claim by referring to God’s massacre of the Canaanites.

            This allegation is not new to Christianity. The new atheists make similar allegations. These allegations have been reasonably answered:8

…a just God has morally sufficient reasons to kill people, so God is justified and none can fault God. What then is one morally sufficient and justifiable reason for God to kill people?
God Can Kill Wicked & Unrepentant People
            Deuteronomy 2:34, 3:6, 20:16-18, Exodus 23:23, Deuteronomy 7:1-2, Joshua 3:10, 9:24 and 1 Samuel 15:2-3 record God’s command to exterminate people. Take for instance the Canaanites, who were they?
            They were wicked. They practiced idolatry, witchcraft, soothsaying, sorcery, incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality and bestiality.1
            But wasn’t there a chance for these people to repent and be good? Yes. Genesis 15: 13-16 teaches that God refrained from his judgment upon the Canaanites for 400 years during which time God’s own people languished in slavery.
            If Canaanites did not repent in 400 years, common sense suggests that they would not have repented even if God had given them another 400 years. But God is omniscient (God possesses middle knowledge2 as well). Thus God knew precisely that Canaanites would not repent. Hence God judged them.
            What about children who were killed? Was God unjust in killing children? No!
            Death is either a gateway to heaven or hell. When children die, God in HIS grace takes them into HIS own presence (Cf. 2 Samuel 12: 23). So the death of children is in fact their salvation. Children who die will be with God in heaven.
            Just as how the owner of a building possesses all authority to demolish a building, God, the owner of every life, possesses all authority to create and to eliminate life. Instead of allowing the children to grow in the Canaanite practice, God in HIS mercy takes them away, and by doing so, favors the children from an eternal perspective.
            Having said this, let us engage some objections:
Objection #1: God Killed Millions But Satan Killed Only 60!
            Obviously this objection accuses God as the greater evil. Since the source of the data for this objection is the Bible, it’s only reasonable that we posit a response from the Bible.
            The Bible does not refer to Satan as a good being. Satan opposes God. The Bible terms Satan as an accuser (Revelation 12:10), tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5), and a deceiver (Genesis 3; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 20:3).
            If Satan opposes God, and if God is an evil killer (as proclaimed by the atheists), then Satan should be intrinsically good. But Satan is not good, instead Satan is purely evil. Therefore, the inverse condition is more reasonable i.e. since Satan, the evil being, opposes God, God should be intrinsically good.
            Significantly, those who raise this objection against God display a serious inadequacy of biblical comprehension. God is sovereign, whereas Satan is not. It is also evident from the Bible that Satan is not independent of God. Satan cannot kill anyone without God allowing him to. Therefore, attribute the 60 or whatever number that one wants to add to Satan’s credit into God’s account.
            Every single death by Satan can be reasonably explained. Consider Job’s family that was killed by Satan.
            God allowed it for a particular reason. While God commends Job’s righteousness, Satan accused Job of being godly and righteous for selfish reasons. If the godliness of a righteous man in whom God delights can be shown to be a terrible sin, then redemption is unimaginable, for the godliest of godly will be the most ungodly. More importantly, God’s judgment about Job’s righteousness would have been proven erroneous.
            Therefore, God allows Job’s travails, and true to God’s commendation, Job emerges as godly and righteous after that severe trial. Satan was proven to be a false accuser.
Objection #2: God Cannot Murder
            If you and I cannot murder, then God cannot murder as well.
            Because the universe in its creational intent is temporal, human life is also temporal. Therefore the creational intent is that death is inevitable for every human life - that which is born should die. As said before, only the creator God can eliminate life when HE determines the appropriate time and reason according to HIS perfect knowledge and justice. 
            God does not murder when HE eliminates life from this temporal world. God judges people for violating HIS laws. The consequence of God’s judgment is death initiated by God.
            A case in point is that a just human judge does not murder when he sentences a convict to death; instead the judge pronounces a judgment upon a law-offender. A judge has the authority to sentence a criminal to death, if the said criminal is a proven offender of the law.
Objection #3: If God Can Kill, So Can A Parent
            Life is created by God. A father and a mother do not create life. They merely provide the sperm and the egg, which is the creational design of God. Thus father and mother are a means to creation of life.
            Parents are created beings themselves. Parents are not creators of life. Therefore, parents are merely stewards of life created by God.
            Since parents are not creators, they are not owners of life, hence parents, as created beings themselves, do not have the authority to eliminate life. Only the creator God has the authority to eliminate life. No one else has this authority.
Objection #4: Why Did God Not Offer Sodom & Gomorrah 400 years To Repent?
            We posit God’s deferral of judgment upon Canaanites for 400 years as justification for the Canaanite massacre. But this act of God requires a greater understanding.
            God is omniscient – HE knows everything with respect to the past, present and the future. God possesses middle knowledge as well.
            To begin with, God would have known that even in 400 years the Canaanites would not repent. So to infer that God hoped for the Canaanites to repent and believe in HIM is incorrect.
            Why then did God wait for 400 years to judge Canaanites? On one hand, God waited for 400 years to judge the Canaanites but on the other hand, God punished Sodom & Gomorrah rather quickly. Why?
            Both Canaanites and the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of sins against God. Neither of them repented before God’s judgment. So it was morally sufficient and justifiable for God to judge them both for their sins.
            The Bible teaches us, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18: 25c, NIV). God, for reasons that are just, but best known to HIM, defers judgment upon people, according to HIS will.
            But the Bible does provide a clue about God’s judgment of Canaanites and Sodomites. In Genesis 15: 13-16, God says that “…the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” So God waited for their sins to reach its full measure to pronounce judgment upon the Amorites - a Canaanite clan. Similarly it is possible that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah had reached its full measure when judgment was pronounced (Cf. Genesis 19: 13).  
Conclusion
            We can go on and on reasonably dealing with every objection that are posited against God. When a mind compulsively argues against God, then it’s a given that that mind integrally refuses or does not innately desire to comprehend God. This is a mind that has rejected God. This mind, as long as it continues to integrally reject God, will not comprehend God, barring a divine intervention in the likeness of an intervention on the road to Damascus. 
            Then there are honest objections against God. These objections are from a mind that earnestly desires and seeks to comprehend God and HIS actions in this world. An infinite being’s actions in this world are not effortlessly comprehensible by finite minds, such as yours and mine.
            Therefore, our starting point is to earnestly seek God in all humility for all our doubts and confusions. May we, by the grace of God, endeavor to assimilate the humility that Christ practiced, and may the peace of God that transcends human comprehension fill our hearts and minds and guard us in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Endnotes:

1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNdgGttyvyA&t=1804s ; Time: 24:30 & 25:34

2https://twitter.com/ravizacharias/status/450107278432432128?lang=en

3https://www.youtube.com/user/SakshiApologetics & https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6uoWgBWqi4ZIcn3NXOYwdw

4https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihkMjrXtsfM; Time: 14:04
 
5http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.com/2019/09/debunking-sadhguru-jaggi-vasudevs-false.html

6Ibid, 20:35.

7https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nR3w9xNtgA&t=21s , Time: 3:42

8http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.com/2014/12/why-did-god-kill-25-million-people-in.html

Websites last accessed on 13th February 2020.

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