Saturday, January 23, 2016

Nabeel Qureshi and the Gospels

Unbelievers as well as liberals cite differences between the Gospels to disprove the inerrancy and historicity of the Gospels. They account for these differences on the grounds that, at best, the writers rely on hearsay information. Conflicting traditions. Because the Gospel writers were not eyewitnesses, and because they had no contact with eyewitnesses, we end up with discrepant accounts of what was said and done. They never knew Jesus. They never knew anyone who knew Jesus. They weren't where it happened or when it happened. They write at a time and place that's too far removed from events to be in touch with the facts. So goes the argument.

Let's consider a frame of reference. Nabeel Qureshi is the kind of guy whose career depends on his conversion testimony. That's how he introduces himself. That's the launchpad for his career. As a result, he often talks his background and conversion experience. Here are four examples: 

Now when you compare these four testimonies, there are differences. They are most dissimilar in terms of wording. Even when they describe the same events, they rarely use the same phrasing. 

In addition, the details vary. One account will mention something that's omitted in another account, and vice versa.

Yet all four accounts are firsthand accounts. What is more, all four accounts are from the same source. The same witness. 

Compare that to a political candidate's stump speech. Because he gives the same speech so often, even if he's not using a teleprompter, he will often use the same phrases and sentences. Likewise with prepared answers. Because it begins with a text rather than experience, there's great verbal similarity from one presentation to another.

By contrast, when you are recounting an incident from your own life, the wording may vary greatly because each time you are verbalizing what you remember. It doesn't begin with a script, but a memory. The wording wont be stereotyped. There are lots of different ways you can express what you remember. Different synonyms and sentences. Different words in different combinations. So long as you remember what happened, so long as you are fairly articulate, you don't need to consult a script or outline or cue cards to talk about your past. Your benchmark is not a text, but a memory. Not remembering what you said, but saying what you remember. 

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