I am Put Here for the Defense of the Gospel: Dr. Norman L. Geisler: A Festschrift in His Honor

IAPHFDOTG

I Am Put Here for the Defense of the Gospel: Dr. Norman L. Geisler:

A Festschrift in His Honor

Edited by Terry L. Miethe

Pickwick Publishers | 2016

480 pages

Order at Wipf&Stock and use “Geisler” as a 40% off coupon code!

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Contents

Preface by Ravi Zacharias · xi

Introduction by Terry L. Miethe · xiii

Tributes to Norman L. Geisler

Thanks for the Memories by William E. Nix · xxi

A Tribute to Norman L. Geisler by Patty Tunnicliffe · xxiii

A Personal Story by John Ankerberg · xxvii

Yesterday, Today, and Forever: Personal Reflections on a Favorite Professor

by Timothy Paul Erdel · xxix

A Tribute to Dr. Norman L. Geisler by Mark M. Hanna · xxxii

Personal Experience with Norm by Grant C. Richison · xxxiv

Biographical Reflections about Norm Geisler by Winfried Corduan · xxxv

Norma Turbulenta: “Stormin’ Norman” by Donald T. Williams · xxxvii

Apologetics

chapter 1: Using Apologetics in Contemporary Evangelism by David Geisler · 1

chapter 2: Distinctive Elements of a Judaeo-Christian Worldview by William E. Nix · 22

chapter 3: Our Faith Seeks Their Understanding: Evangelistic-Apologetics & Effective Communication by Ramesh Richard · 57

Biblical Studies

chapter 4: Beware the Impact of Historical Critical Ideologies on Current Evangelical New Testament Studies by F. David Farnell · 76

chapter 5: Building Babel: Genesis 11:1–9 by Thomas Howe · 99

chapter 6: The Task of Bible Exposition by Elliott Johnson · 122

chapter 7: God’s Ultimate Purpose for Creation by Grant C. Richison · 135

chapter 8: Text Versus Word: C. S. Lewis’s View of Inspiration and the Inerrancy of Scripture by Donald T. Williams · 152

Philosophy

chapter 9: Some Features of Finite Being in St. Thomas Aquinas by Winfried Corduan · 169

chapter 10: Unamuno and Quine: A Meta-Philosophical Parable Concerning Faith, Reason, and Truth by Timothy Paul Erdel · 192

chapter 11: Open Theism, Analogy, and Religious Language by Joseph M. Holden · 204

chapter 12: Defending the Handmaid: How Theology Needs Philosophy by Richard G. Howe · 233

chapter 13: Aristotle: God & The Life of Contemplation, or What is Philosophy & Why is it Important? by Terry L. Miethe · 257

chapter 14: The Enlightenment, John Locke & Scottish Common Sense Realism by Terry L. Miethe · 281

Ethics

chapter 15: Big Data, Big Brother, and Transhumanism by J. Kerby Anderson · 297

chapter 16: Using Expository Preaching to Address Ethical Issues in Our Day by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. · 307

chapter 17: Moral Absolutes and Moral Worth: A Proposal for Christian Ethics Inspired by Norman Geisler by Richard A. Knopp · 317

chapter 18: A Christian Response to Homosexuality by Patty Tunnicliffe · 346

Other Religions & Cults

chapter 19: Why They Blow Themselves Up: Understanding Islamic Suicide Bombers from a Christian Perspective by John Christian · 370

chapter 20: A Theological and Apologetical Assessment of Positive Confession Theology by Ron Rhodes · 382

Norman L. Geisler’s Impact

chapter 21: The Impact of Norman Geisler on Christian Higher Education by Wayne Detzler · 400

chapter 22: A Detroit Yankee in King Cotton’s Court: Love Expressed in the Thought and Writings of Norman Geisler by Paige Patterson · 417

Tabula Gratulatoria: Testimonials to Dr. Geisler’s Impact on our Time · 427

“Geislerisms” · 431

About Norman L. Geisler · 433

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Answering Islam: An Interview with Norman L. Geisler (1994)

Answering Islam: An Interview with Norman L. Geisler

by Ron Rhodes

1994

 

Norman L. Geisler is a theologian, teacher, and the dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has recently co-authored a book with Abdul Saleeb entitled “Answering Islam: The Crescent in the Light of the Cross” (Baker Books). In this issue of the “Newsletter”, Dr. Geisler is interviewed on a variety of issues related to this book.

Newsletter: Why do Christians need to be concerned about Islam?

Geisler: One out of every five persons on the face of the earth is a Muslim. One out of every five! In the United States Islam is growing at an astronomical rate. There are more Muslims than Methodists in the United States.

These are people who are diametrically opposed to Christianity’s most central belief — that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead. Historically and theologically, many Muslims have been committed to the annihilation of unbelievers — which includes us.

Muslims believe Christians have committed the unpardonable sin of attributing “partners” to Allah — namely, belief in the Trinity. In Saudi Arabia they recently cut somebody’s head off for blaspheming the prophet Muhammad, which, by definition, my co-author (Abdul Saleeb) and I do on practically every page of our new book. Islam is a serious threat to Christianity.

Newsletter: But this book is not written in a hostile fashion towards Islam, towards the Qur’an, towards Muhammad, is it?

Geisler: No, it’s not. We take an objective, dispassionate, scholarly approach in dealing with (1) what Muslim’s believe (and, by the way, we believe a Muslim could pick this book up and agree with how we’ve described Islamic beliefs); (2) a Christian response to Islamic beliefs; and (3) an apologetic defense of what we believe as Christians.

Newsletter: Muslims are monotheists, right?

Geisler: Yes. Monotheism is the belief that there is one God. Jews and Christians are monotheistic. But Muslims are the most rigid monotheists in the world. They believe there’s not only one God but that there’s only one person in God (i.e., God doesn’t have a son). They confuse unity and singularity. Any other persons associated with God is considered blasphemy. It’s the great sin. God has no partners, Muslims say.

Newsletter: So, to say that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and that He was equal with God would be considered anathema.

Geisler: You just lost your head in Saudi Arabia!

Newsletter: Muslims say Muhammad was a prophet. And Muhammad in the Qur’an said Jesus Christ was a prophet. Assuming that prophets do not speak error, wouldn’t this present a logical problem for Muslims? After all, according to John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So, Jesus the “prophet,” being one-hundred percent correct, refutes Muhammad and all of Islam, right?

Geisler: That’s correct. And that’s a good approach to use. But you need to keep one thing in mind here. What Muslims say to that line of reasoning is that while they believe in the Christian Gospels, which represent Christ, they’ve been corrupted down through the centuries. And so Christians must answer that allegation.

We do this in our book, Answering Islam, by showing that we have manuscripts of the New Testament that go back hundreds of years prior to the time of Muhammad. Now, keep in mind that Muhammad referred to the New Testament Gospels of his day — and indicated their reliability. After all, he said to Christians: “Go and look in your own Gospels.”

Well, if the Gospels of his day (A.D. 600) were accurate — and we’ve got manuscripts that go back even before that — then they’re in a pretty tough dilemma to explain why you shouldn’t follow the logic you suggested above: Jesus is a prophet; He always teaches the truth; and if He taught He was the only way to God, then how can Christianity not be true?

Newsletter: What specifically does the Qur’an teach about Jesus Christ?

Geisler: It’s strange that while Muslims think Jesus was only a man — a prophet superseded by Muhammad — at the same time the Qur’an teaches that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the Word of God, a speaker of truth, a sign unto men of mercy from God. It teaches that Jesus was virgin born, sinless, performed supernatural miracles (including raising people from the dead), and bodily ascended into heaven. All of this is affirmed of Jesus Christ in the Qur’an. The crucial thing Muslims don’t believe is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead.

One must emphasize to the Muslim that the Jesus of the New Testament claimed to be God, not just a prophet. We have a whole chapter in our book on the deity of Christ. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). In John 8:58 Jesus said to some Jews, “Before Abraham was, I am,” thereby claiming to be God (cf. Exod. 3:14). He received worship on many different occasions. One of His disciples bowed before Him and said, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28), acknowledging His full deity. Jesus forgave sins, which only God can do (Mark 2:5-7). Jesus resurrected people from the dead, which only God has the power to do (John 11:38-44). So Jesus in many different ways is shown to be God, not just a prophet. The Bible and the Qur’an are irreconcilable on these ideas.

Newsletter: Interestingly enough, the Qur’an does not claim Muhammad was a miracle worker, does it?

Geisler: You’re right! And that’s a very important apologetic point. Nowhere in the Qur’an does it record Muhammad performing any supernatural feats of nature. In fact, he disavowed such an ability. When asked, “Why don’t you perform miracles like the other prophets did?” he responded: “This is my miracle, the Qur’an.” The Qur’an is said to be the only miracle of Muhammad.

Newsletter: Speaking of the Qur’an, this book does not portray God as a heavenly Father, does it?

Geisler: No, it doesn’t. There are 99 names for God in Islam. We have them listed in our book. Out of the 99, there is no mention of “Father.” And the reason for that is that Muslims are rigid monotheists. They believe that being a Father implies that he has a son, and that is considered blasphemous. God has no partners.

Newsletter: What is the Islamic concept of God in terms of human beings relating to him?

Geisler: The Islamic God is very remote, very transcendent. He is not immanent; he’s not personally involved with his creatures. The main thing in Islam is not fellowship with God, but service and allegiance to God. There is no fatherly concept of God at all. It’s very different from the concept of God found in the Christian Bible. In Christianity, believers are adopted into God’s family (Eph. 1:5) and can personally address God as Father (Rom. 8:15). It’s a relationship of great intimacy. Not so in Islam.

Newsletter: Islam and Christianity, then, set forth clearly different views of God and Jesus Christ, among other things. Both systems cannot be true.

Geisler: Right! There’s a big difference between the two systems. The answer to the question of truth is of eternal importance. If there’s a substantial difference between the two systems — and if your eternal soul depends on a correct choice of one system or the other — then it behooves everyone to examine seriously all the evidence and make a truly informed decision.

We can’t just say, “Well, I believe it, I was taught it, I was reared that way.” The question is, Which one is true? If Islam is true, Christianity is false. If Christianity is true, Islam is false.

Remember what Jesus Christ said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). If Islam is right, then Jesus Christ was lying when He said that. Muslims say Jesus was a prophet, and prophets can’t lie. So they’re in a real dilemma here.

Newsletter: Any closing thoughts for Christians who want to become equipped for the work of apologetics?

Geisler: One of my teachers — a man who spent some twenty years in the Middle East, and made a great impression on my life — used to say that with regard to education and preparation for serving Christ, Get all you can! Can all you get! And sit on the lid! Then you’ll have everything you need to defend the faith as opportunities arise. Becoming equipped for the work of apologetics is an absolute necessity for Christians today.

 


 

End of document, CRN0072A.TXT (original CRI file name), “Answering Islam: An Interview with Norman L. Geisler” release A, July 31, 1994 R. Poll, CRI

An article from the Interview column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 7: Number 1, 1994.

The Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.

Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute.

COPYRIGHT/REPRODUCTION LIMITATIONS:
This data file is the sole property of the Christian Research Institute. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as “freeware,” without charge. All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice (i.e., “Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute”). This data file may not be used without the permission of the Christian Research Institute for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold. This includes all of its content with the exception of a few brief quotations not to exceed more than 500 words.

If you desire to reproduce less than 500 words of this data file for resale or the enhancement of any other product for resale, please give the following source credit: Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute, P.O. Box 7000, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688-7000.

 

The Story of Abdul Saleeb (Answering Islam)

The Story of Abdul Saleeb

My name [pseudonym] is “Abdul Saleeb.” I was born and raised in a Muslim country in the Middle East. Even though I lived in a very conservative Muslim society I grew up in a somewhat of a liberal Muslim family. Furthermore, my Muslim upbringing was unique due to my mother’s serious involvement in Islamic sufism. So I can honestly confess, that I have had first hand experience of every aspect of contemporary Islamic movements. I personally did not consider myself very religious. At one point I even turned to Marxist ideologies thinking that they could provide real solutions to my country’s social ills. However, throughout all this time I never doubted the fundamentals of my religious faith. I thought of Islam as a faith with such high ideals that I did not consider myself worthy of the name Muslim but I wholeheartedly believed that Islam was God’s last and most perfect religion for all mankind, based on God’s final revelation, the Qur’an, and the prophet Muhammad, God’s seal of prophethood. My view of other religions (especially Judaism and Christianity) was that although they were fundamentally the same since they had all been revealed by one God, they were all inferior to Islam because all of them had to various degrees corrupted the original message of their founding prophets, something that we as Muslims have not done.

My religious views were radically challenged when I left my country because of its civil turmoil and went to Europe for the continuation of my studies. By the providence of God and because of various circumstances, I ended up enrolling in an International Christian School. My first “theological” question to one of my Christian teachers, was extremely childish but looking back at it now, the response of my teacher revolutionized my worldview. I asked my question after sitting in my first class about some of the teachings of the Bible. My question was, “How come Christians can drink wine but Muslims cannot? How come your word of God says one thing and our word of God says something different?” My teacher, not knowing much about Islam at all, gently asked, “How do you know the Qur’an is the word of God?” I was taken aback by that response. I had lived in a world in which everyone simply presupposed that the Qur’an was dictated word for word by God to the Prophet Muhammad and no one ever questioned that assumption. That brief encounter forced me to start on a journey, engage my Christian friends in hours of cordial discussion and debate about the truthfulness of the Christian faith.

Like almost any other Muslim, my original reaction to the claims of Christians about Jesus Christ was that of utter shock. These claims not only seemed like plain blasphemy but also quite nonsensical. How could any rational being believe such things about an honored prophet of God? Despite my fundamental theological differences with my friends, there was something about their life and faith that impressed me a great deal. There was a sincerity in their relationship with God and other people that I had not encountered among my own Muslim people. So I would often tell them that I did not want to deny their faith but I just wanted to find a compromise so that I could hold to the truth of Islam and they could continue to hold to their faith.

However, I was in no doubt that their belief about Jesus was based on statements that the prophet Jesus had never actually claimed for himself. My difficulty in understanding Christian belief was very much along the lines that have historically seperated Islam from Christianity.

First, there was the issue of the deity of Christ. How can anybody believe that a human being was actually God incarnate? How can that be logically possible?

The second obstacle was the doctrine of the Trinity, an issue closely related to the first problem. Again, this Christian belief seemed to me was a logical absurdity and grossly compromised the belief in the Oneness of God.

Finally, I did not grant in any way that the Bible, especially the New Testament documents, were reliable when it came to reporting the words of Christ. Anything in the Bible that disagreed with the Qur’an was automatically rejected as being a corrupt teaching in the Bible.

My spiritual journey went on for months. Oftentimes I did find comfort in the Qur’an, but I was encountering more questions in that book than answers. For example, the violent tone of many of the Qur’anic passages (especially against the unbelievers but also against the Jewish and Christian people) began to bother me, when compared with the emphasis on love in the New Testament. One particular passage that troubled me, especially in light of my good friendship with many Christians, was in Sura 5:51.

“O ye who believe! Take not Jews and Christians for your friends and protectors; they are but friends and protectors to eachother. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily God guideth not a people unjust.”

However, the most troubling section of the Qur’an had to do with the character of the prophet Muhammad himself. According to Sura 33:37, God sanctions Muhammad’s desire to marry the divorced wife of his own stepson, “in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them. And God’s command must be fulfilled.”

I vivdly remember the first time that I came across that verse in my study of the Qur’an. I began to sob with great sorrow and shame. All my life I had been told that Muhammad was the most perfect and ideal moral example for mankind and yet the Qur’an had a good number of examples of how the “revelations” could be so self-serving to the prophet himself!

I immediately wrote a letter to my mother back home with some of these troubling questions that I was encountering in the Qur’an. The response that I received to my letter from one of the most prominent religious leaders in my country was that I should just continue my secular studies and not focus too much on religion. On the other hand, as my understanding of the Bible was increasing many of my questions were beginning to get answered. Even as a Muslim I came to believe that the crucifixion of Christ was an undisputable historical fact that no honest person that deals with evidences of history could deny.

The character of Christ himself, as manifested for example in his beautiful Sermon on the Mount, was gradually making a great impression on me. But for me, the most impressive factor about Christ, were the multitudes of Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. Some of these prophecies were so specific and they were fulfilled in the life of Jesus to such a detail that it amazed me to see how God had taken hundreds of years of Jewish history to prepare the coming of the Messiah; prophecies ranging from Messiah’s ancestery, his manner and place of birth, his life and ministry to the circumstances surrounding his death by crucifixion. I was very attracted to Christ and yet I could not deny my own tradition and past. Becoming Christian seemed a definite betrayal of my own family and Islamic heritage. The tension in my life was so strong that I felt torn asunder between these two faiths.

But I still could not bring myself to accept that Jesus was anything more than a human being. Since he had never explicitly said, “I am God and you must worship me,” the Christian claim about Jesus was based on speculation and historically unreliable Gospels. Surely the incredible statements attributed to Jesus were invented by later church and put in the mouth of Jesus.

In the midst of all this anxiety of thought, I woke up one morning and was suddenly struck by the meaning of a verse written by the prophet Isaiah in his ninth chapter. I had read this verse several weeks prior to that morning, but I had never understood its meaning. In Isa.7:14, we read,

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Isaiah then goes on to write in chapter 9,

“[…] in the future he (God) will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan the people walking in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned […] For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne […] from that time on and forever.”

I could not believe it! The fact that the Messiah was not going to be just a prophet but Mighty God himself, was therefore a truth that had been prophesied seven hundred years before Christ in the Old Testament, and not something that had been made up by Christians many years or centuries after Christ! It was God’s own promise that he will come in flesh (Immanuel = God with us) and will establish a kingdom that will last forever.

I came to trust in Christ, the next day on January 20, 1985. I cried uncontrollably as I was praying and turning to Christ in faith. I did not know why, and though I had never felt much burden of guilt, I was feeling a great sense of peace and relief from the burden of my sins. A greater satisfaction was the sense of rest in finally finding the truth about God and His revelation of love to mankind in Jesus Christ. A book that helped me (and several other Muslim friends of mine who became Christians around the same time that I did) tremendously in answering many of my questions about the deity of Christ and the reliability of the New Testament documents was Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands A Verdict.” I highly recommend it.

Soon after my own conversion, I decided to dedicate my entire life to promoting the Good News of Christ among Muslims and especially the people of my own country. I later came to the United States and received my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biblical and Theological Studies. I also co-authored a book with Norman Geisler, a prominent Christian philosopher, with the title “Answering Islam: The Crescent in the Light of the Cross.”

Abdul Saleeb,

Ramadan of 1996


 

I sincerely welcome any interaction that Muslim friends might have with my testimony. Since both Muslims and Christians believe that our eternal destinies depend on our right relationship to God here on earth, therefore, it is of utmost importance to seriously consider not only the Qur’anic claims but also the claims of Jesus Christ. If the Socratic dictum is true that “the unexamined life is not worth living”, it is even more true that “the unexamined faith is not worth believing.”

If you would like to contact me, send an email to Abdul-at-integrity-dot-org.

(This offer was open in 1996 but probably not open any longer.)

 

Primitive Monotheism

Primitive Monotheism

by Norman L. Geisler, Ph.D

Copyright © 1998, 2013 Norman L. Geisler – All rights reserved

THE PROBLEM OF EARLY MONOTHEISM

The Bible teaches that monotheism was the earliest conception of God. The very first verse of Genesis is monotheistic: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). All the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, reflect an early monotheism (Gen. 12-50). This reveals one God who created the world and who, therefore, is prior to, more than, and different from the world. These are the essential elements of theism or monotheism.

Likewise, long before Moses, Joseph clearly believed in a moral monotheism. His refusal to commit adultery was because it would be a sin against God. While resisting the temptation of Potiphar’s wife he declared: “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9).

The other book in the Bible that reflects an ancient pre-Mosaic period, Job, clearly has a monotheistic view of God. There is good evidence that the book of Job was set in pre-Mosaic patriarchal times (see below). It speaks of an “almighty” (see 5:17; 6:14; 8:3, etc.) personal God (cf. 1:7-8) who created the world (38:4) who is sovereign over it (42:1-2).

What is more, Romans 1 affirms that monotheism preceded animism and polytheism, affirming that “what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised” (Rom. 1:19-25).

FRAZER’S THESIS OF A LATE MONOTHEISM

The early monotheism thesis was championed by W. Schmidt in his High Gods in North

America (1933).[1] However, James Frazer’s The Golden Bough (1912)[2] has dominated the history of religion for the past few generations. His hypothesis is that religions evolved from animism through polytheism to henotheism and finally monotheism. In spite of its selective and anecdotal use of sources that are outdated by subsequent research, the ideas from the book are still widely believed. Frazer’s contention that a monotheistic conception of God evolved late is without foundation for many reasons.

 

ARGUMENTS FOR AN EARLY MONOTHEISM

There are many arguments in favor of primitive monotheism. Many come from the records and traditions we have of early civilization. These include Genesis, Job, the Ebla Tablets, and the study of preliterate tribes.

The Historicity of Genesis

There is no doubt that the book of Genesis represents a monotheistic God. Likewise, it is clear that the book of Genesis purports to be a record of the history of the human race back to the first human beings. Hence, what argues for the historicity of the first chapters of Genesis also argues in favor of an early monotheism. Noted archaeologist, William F. Albright, has demonstrated that the Genesis record of the patriarchs (12-50) is historical. He wrote, “Thanks to modern research we now recognize its [the Bible’s] substantial historicity. The narratives of the patriarchs, of Moses and the exodus, of the conquest of Canaan, of the judges, the monarchy, exile and restoration, have all been confirmed and illustrated to an extent that I should have thought impossible forty years ago.”[3] He added, “Aside from a few die-hards among older scholars, there is scarcely a single biblical historian who has not been impressed by the rapid accumulation of data supporting the substantial historicity of patriarchal tradition.”[4] However, Genesis is a literary and genealogical unity, being tied together by a listing of family descendants (Gen. 5, 10) and the literary phrase “this is the history of” (Gen. 2:4 NKJV) or the “account of” (NIV). The phrase is used throughout the book of Genesis (2:4; 5:1; 6:9: 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2). What is more, events from every one of the disputed first 11 chapters of Genesis are referred to by Jesus and New Testament writers as historical, including Adam and Eve (Matt. 19:4-5); their temptation (1 Tim. 2:14); their fall (Rom. 5:12); the sacrifice of Cain and Abel (Heb. 11:4); the murder of Abel by Cain (1 Jn. 3:12); the birth of Seth (Luke 3:38); the translating of Enoch (Heb. 11:5); marriage before the flood (Lk. 17:27); the flood and destruction of man (Mt. 24:39); preservation of Noah and his family (2 Peter 2:5); the genealogy of Shem (Lk. 3:35-36), and the birth of Abraham (Luke 3:34). So, if one were to question the historicity of Genesis, then he would also have to question the authority of Christ and many other Scriptures which refer to Genesis.

There is strong evidence for the historicity of the Genesis record about Adam and Eve in particular. Yet this record reveals that the very first parents of the race were monotheists (see Gen. 1:1, 27; 2:16-17; 4:26; 5:1, 2). 1) Genesis 1-2 presents them as actual persons and even narrates the important events in their lives (=history). 2) They gave birth to literal children who did the same (Gen. 4:1, 25; 5:1f.). 3) The same phrase (“this is the history of”), used to record later history in Genesis (6:9; 9:12; 10:1, 32; 11:10, 27; 17:7, 9), is used of the creation account (2:4) and of Adam and Eve and their descendants (Gen. 5:1). 4) Later Old Testament chronologies place Adam at the top of the list (1 Chron. 1:1). 5) The New Testament places Adam at the beginning of Jesus’ literal ancestors (Luke 3:38). 6) Jesus referred to Adam and Eve as the first literal “male and female,” making their physical union the basis of marriage (Matt. 19:4). 7) The book of Romans declares that literal death was brought into the world by a literal “Adam” (Rom. 5:14). 8) The comparison of Adam (the “first Adam”) with Christ (the “last Adam”) in 1 Corinthians 15:45 manifests that Adam was understood as a literal, historical person. 9) Paul’s declaration that “Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13-14) reveals that he speaks of a real person. 10) Logically there had to be a first real set of human beings, male and female, or else the race would have had no way to get going. The Bible calls this literal couple “Adam and Eve,” and there is no reason to doubt their real existence. And what argues for their historicity also supports an early monotheism.

The Evidence from the Book of Job

Other than Genesis, Job is possibly the oldest book in the Old Testament. At the least the story is set in pre-Mosaic patriarchal times. Yet it too reveals a monotheistic view of God. God is the personal (see Job 1:6, 21), moral (1:1; 8:3-4) yet sovereign (42:1-2), and Almighty (5:17; 6:14; 8:3; 13:3, etc.) Creator (4:17; 9:8-9; 26:7; 38:6-7). The early setting of Job is evidenced by: 1) the pre-Mosaic family clan organization; 2) the lack of any reference to the Mosaic Law; 3) the use of the characteristic patriarchal name for God, “the Almighty” (Job 5:17; 6:4; 8:3 cf. Gen. 17:1; 28:3, etc.) 4) the comparative rarity of the name “LORD” (Yahweh) (cf. Ex. 6:3); 5) the offering of sacrifices by the head of a family rather than by a levitical priest; 6) the mention of early coinage (Job 42:11 cf. Gen. 33:19); 7) use of the phrase “sons of God” (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7) found elsewhere only in Genesis 6:2-4); and 8) the longevity of Job who lived 140 years after his family was grown (42:16) fits a patriarchal period. But Job speaks of One God who created the world (Job 38:4) and is sovereign over all things in it (cf. 42:2), including Satan (see Job. 1:1, 6, 21 etc.). But all of these are characteristics of a monotheistic God. Thus, the early time of Job reveals that monotheism was not a late development.

Evidence from the Ebla Tablets

Outside the Bible, the oldest records come from Ebla in Syria. And they reveal a clear monotheism declaring: “Lord of heaven and earth: the earth was not, you created it, the light of day was not, you created it, the morning light you had not [yet] made exist.”[5] This lucid statement of monotheism from such early tablets is an evident sign of early monotheism. It alone should lay to rest the idea of an evolved and late monotheism.

Primitive Religions are Monotheistic

Contrary to popular belief, the primitive religions of Africa unanimously reveal an explicit monotheism. The noted authority on African religions, John S. Mbiti wrote of the 300 traditional religions, “In all these societies, without a single exception, people have a notion of God as the Supreme Being.”[6] This is true of other primitive religions as well, many of which have a High God or Sky God which reflects a basic monotheism.

The Influence of Evolution

The idea that monotheism evolved is itself late, gaining popularity in the wake of Charles Darwin’s theory of biological evolution (On The Origin of

Species, 1859) and even stated by Darwin later in his Descent of Man (1896). He wrote:

Belief in God — Religion. — There is no evidence that man was aboriginally endowed with the ennobling belief in the existence of an Omnipotent God.” On the contrary, Darwin believed that human “mental faculties . . . led man to believe in unseen spiritual agencies, then to fetishism, polytheism, and ultimately monotheism . . . .[7]

Frazer’s evolutionary idea in religion is based on several unproven assumptions. One, it assumes biological evolution is true when it fact it seriously lacks support. But this has been seriously challenged by noted scientists.[8] Second, even if biological evolution were true on a biological level, there is no reason to believe evolution is true in the religious realm. It is a methodological category mistake to assume that what is true in one discipline is also true in another. Social Darwinism is another case in point. Few Darwinians would agree with Hitler in Mein Kampf that we should weed out the inferior races since evolution has been doing this for centuries! He wrote: “If nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”[9] But if evolution should not be applied to human social development, then there is no reason to apply it to religion either.

Anecdotal Evidence

Frazer’s evolution of monotheism thesis is based on fragmentary and anecdotal evidence, not a serious historical and chronological search for the origins of monotheism. Like the so-called evolution of the horse once used by evolutionists, alleged examples of the hypothesis are taken out of order and without due regard for their proper ancestors. In short, Frazer’s evolution of monotheism assumes an evolutionary thesis and then finds bits and pieces of evidence to fit it.

A BETTER EXPLANATION

The origins of polytheism can be explained as well, if not better, as a degeneration from original monotheism just as Rom. 1:19f. declare. That is, paganism is a falling away from the primitive monotheism. This is evident in the fact that most pre-literate religions have a latent monotheism in their view of the Sky God or High God (see Mbiti). William F. Albright likewise acknowledges that the “high gods may be all-powerful and they may be credited with creation of the world; they are generally cosmic deities who often, perhaps usually, reside in heaven.”[10] This clearly runs counter to the animistic and polytheistic conceptions of deity.

CONCLUSION

There is no real reason to deny the biblical account of an early monotheism. On the contrary, there is every evidence to believe that monotheism was the first religion from which others devolved just as Romans 1:19f. declare. Indeed, this fits better with the strong evidence for the existence of a monotheistic[11] God and the proven tendency of human beings to distort the truth God reveals to them (cf. Rom. 1:18f). In short, man’s view of God has devolved, not evolved, over the centuries. God made man in His image, but man has returned the compliment.


 

[1] See W. Schmidt, High Gods in North America (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), The Origin and Growth of Religion: Facts and Theories (London, Methuen, 1931), Primitive Revelation (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder, 1939).

[2] James G. Frazer, The Golden Bough (London: Macmillan, 1890).

[3] William F. Albright, From Stone Age to Christianity (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957), 1329.

[4] William F. Albright, The Biblical Period (New York: Harper, 1955), 1.

[5] Cited by Eugene Merrill, “Ebla and Biblical Historical Inerrancy,” Bibliotheca Sacra (Oct.Dec., 1983).

[6] See John S. Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1969); Concepts of God in Africa (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970).

[7] Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (New York: Appleton and Company, 1896), 302, 303.

[8] See Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, MD: Adler and Adler, 1985) and Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box (New York: The Free Press, 1996).

[9] Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf (London: Gurst and Blackett Ltds, Publishers, 1939), 239-242.

[10] Albright, From Stone Age to Christianity, 170.

[11] See William Lane Craig, The Kalam Cosmological Argument (London: The MacMillan Press, 1979); Norman L. Geisler, Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976), chapter 13; Fred Heeren, Show Me God: What the Message from Space Is Telling Us About God (Wheeling, IL: Searchlight Publications, 1995); Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God. Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1993.


Further Reading

Winfried Corduan wrote In the Beginning God: A Fresh Look at the Case for Original Monotheism

ISBN: 9780805447781 | BHPublishingGroup | 2013

Christians believe that religion began when God created human beings and revealed himself to them. But is there scholarly evidence for this belief? In the nineteenth century academic world a stormy debate took shape over the origin of religion. Scholars explored the ancient languages of mythology and then considered evolutionary anthropology. A dominant view emerged that religion began with animism — the reverent honoring of spirits — and from there evolved into higher forms, from polytheism on to monotheism. However, scholars Andrew Lang and Wilhem Schmidt contended there were cultures throughout the world — pygmy people in Africa and Asia, certain Australian Aboriginal groups and Native American tribes — that originated as monotheistic, acknowledging the existence of one supreme God who created the world and holds people accountable for living morally upright lives. The debate wore on, and Schmidt, a member of the Catholic order and a priest, was accused (without evidence) of letting his faith interpret the facts. By the mid-twentieth century a silent consensus formed among scholars not to discuss the origin and evolution of religion any further. The discoveries of Lang and Schmidt have since been largely ignored. However, the evidence on which these scholars based their conclusion of monotheism is still out there. In the Beginning God attempts to educate Christians about the debate on this topic, the facts that were accepted and those that were ignored, and the use to which Christians can put all of this material in making a case for the truth of Christianity.

I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

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I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

Crossway Books, 2004

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Translations available:  Dutch, Korean, Portuguese and Romanian

Translation in Brazillian Portugese: Não tenho fé suficiente para ser ateu

Não tenho fé suficiente para ser ateu

Norman Geisler

Editora Vida

Idéias com o objetivo de destruir a fé cristã sempre bombardeiam os alunos do ensino médio e das universidades. Este livro serve como um antídoto excepcionalmente bom para refutar tais premissas falsas. Ele traz informações consistentes para combater os ataques violentos das ideologias seculares que afirmam que a ciência, a filosofia e os estudos bíblicos são inimigos da fé cristã.

Antes de tocar a questão da verdade do cristianismo, essa obra aborda a questão da própria verdade, provando a existência da verdade absoluta. Os autores desmontam as afirmações do relativismo moral e da pós-modernidade, resultando em uma valiosa contribuição aos escritos contemporâneos da apologética cristã.

Geisler e Turek prepararam uma grande matriz de perguntas difíceis e responderam a todas com habilidade. Uma defesa lógica, racional e intelectual da fé cristã.

from http://www.apologia.com.br/?p=33