The Inspiration of New Testament

Examining More of Shabir Ally’s Inconsistencies

Sam Shamoun

Shabir Ally debated prominent Christian scholar and apologist Dr. James R. White on May 7, 2006 on the issue of whether the New Testament we possessed today is the inspired Word of God (1, 2). White did an excellent job of exposing Ally’s inconsistent approach to this question, and was able to demonstrate that Ally applies one set of criteria for the Bible and another for the Quran. White masterfully showed that Ally would basically be forced to abandon his belief in the Quran if he were to apply the same standards to it.

In the closing statements of the debate, Ally made the following comments regarding whether the NT claimed to be inspired or not:

Now James has mentioned 2 Peter and 2 Timothy but none of these say that the Bible, and especially the New Testament, is entirely the Word of God. And we do not have a presentation from James that to show that the Bible, according to the Bible itself, is entirely the Word of God; and specifically the New Testament. 2 Timothy 3:16 speaks about the Scriptures which Timothy knew from childhood. Those were the Old Testament Scriptures, particularly the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. The New Testament documents were not yet compiled in the lifetime of Paul. 2 Peter spoke about prophecies of old; again, he is referring of the Old Testament. In short, where in the New Testament does it say that the entire New Testament is the revealed Word of God, inspired Holy Scripture, absolutely and perfectly true the way James has put before us? In fact nothing of the New Testament says that. If we are to assume that we would be crediting to God and attributing to him statements that he didn’t inspire. So we should be careful about this, whether Muslims or Christians. We should not attribute to God something that he did not inspire, he did not reveal or he didn’t say. We can say that the New Testament contains revealed knowledge and inspiration from God, but it also contains the creative work of man.

The purpose of this paper is to examine Ally’s assertions in light of the teaching of the NT in order to see whether there is any substance to his accusations. We begin by analyzing 2 Timothy 3:16 in its immediate context:

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17

The first thing that needs to be noted is that Paul was not talking about the canon of Scripture per se, but about the origin and function of Scripture. Paul’s point is that Holy Scripture originates from God and is therefore able to accomplish God’s purpose of equipping the saints. In principle, this would apply to EVERY book that God inspires or breathes out, not just to the OT canon. This would, by necessity, include the books of the NT which God inspired the Apostles and their companions to compose.

Ally erroneously assumes that since Paul mentioned the Scriptures which Timothy had known from childhood that he must have therefore been referring to the OT revelation. It seems to not have dawned on Ally that Paul could have been referring to not only these Scriptures, but to all the NT books that had been written during the time of his writing 2 Timothy. In fact, Paul provides evidence that this is exactly what he meant since in his first epistle to Timothy he quotes from one of the books which eventually became part of the NT:

"For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’" 1 Timothy 5:18

Here, Paul groups two texts together as Scripture in order to establish his point that God has ordained that elders get paid for their services. The first reference is taken from Moses’ writings:

"You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain." Deuteronomy 25:4

Yet the second passage is not from the OT Scriptures but from the Gospel of Luke!

"And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house." Luke 10:7

Here is a transliteration of the original Greek of both texts so that the readers can clearly see for themselves that Paul was citing this Gospel as inspired Scripture:

Luke 10:7 - ... axios gar ho ergates tou misthou autou.

1 Timothy 5:18 - ... axios ho ergates tou misthou autou.

Thus, Paul placed Luke’s Gospel on the same level of Moses’ writings and expressly classified it as Scripture! This provides clear proof that Paul was not limiting inspiration to the OT Books.

One of Ally’s favorite commentaries, the Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary has this to say of 1 Timothy 5:18:

… The right of elders to an adequate wage is supported by an appeal to the OT (Deut. 25:4; I Cor. 9:9) and to Christian tradition (f. Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7; I Cor. 9:14.) It may be that the author thinks of his source for the 2nd saying as scripture also; since the EXACT WORDS appear in Luke 10:7 SOME INTERPRETERS BELIEVE THAT HE KNEW THAT GOSPEL AS SCRIPTURE. (Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary On The Bible Including The Apocrypha, With General Articles [Abingdon Press, 197], p. 887; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Ally compounds his errors by mistakenly assuming that Paul was referring to the inspiration of the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures, known as the Septuagint. But as anyone reading the text in question can see, Paul makes no mention of any version of the Hebrew Scriptures. He simply states that the Scriptures are God-breathed, irrespective of the translation or particular version being used.

In fact, the evidence from within the NT shows that the writers used several versions of the Hebrew Bible and were not limiting themselves strictly to the Greek Septuagint. As the late Evangelical scholar F.F. Bruce stated:

But there are some places in the New Testament where the Old Testament is quoted in a different form from the Septuagint as it has come down to us. For example, in Matthew 12:18-21 the announcement of the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 42:1-4 is quoted in what appears to be a non-Septuagintal version. The statement, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’ (from Deut. 32:35), is quoted in Romans 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30 in a form corresponding neither to the Hebrew text nor to the Septuagint, but to the Aramaic Targums on the Pentateuch. That renderings or paraphrases known to us only from the Targums were found also in Greek versions of the Old Testament in the first century AD is suggested also by such expressions as ‘lest they should … be forgiven’ (Mark 4:12) in a quotation from Isaiah 6:10 where the Hebrew and Septuagint read ‘lest they … be healed’; and ‘he gave gifts to men’ (Eph. 4:8) in a quotation from Psalm 68:18 (LXX 67:19) where the Hebrew and Septuagint read ‘… received gifts among men’.

There is a little evidence for forms of the Greek version which approximated to distinctive features of the Samaritan Bible. For example, Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 is based throughout on the Septuagint, but his statement in verse 4 that Abraham left Harran for Canaan ‘after his father died’ is supported neither by the Septuagint wording (as we have received it) nor by the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible; it is, however, consistent with the Samaritan text, which gives Terah’s age at death as 145, not 205 (Gen. 11:32). (Bruce, The Canon of Scripture [IVP Academia/Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL], pp. 53-54)

We now turn our attention to the text of 2 Peter, which says:

"knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:20-21

Ally mistakenly concludes that the reference to prophets limits this to the inspiration of the Hebrew Bible. He fails to see that what this text is establishing is that prophecy in general does not originate from the holy men who wrote it, but from God through his Spirit. This principle would therefore apply to ALL prophetic Scripture, not just the OT books, and especially the books penned by the Apostles and their companions.

After all, we are told that the ministers of the Gospel preached by the same Holy Spirit who spoke through the prophets of old:

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come." John 16:12-13

"Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.’" John 20:21-23

"And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God… And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, 13

"For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles -- assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed TO HIS HOLY APOSTLES and prophets BY THE SPIRIT. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." Ephesians 3:1-6

"By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you." 2 Timothy 1:14

"Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the Gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look." 1 Peter 1:10-12

Thus, if the proclaimers of the Gospel such as the Apostles preached by the same Holy Spirit who prophesied through the OT prophets then this means that the former were just as inspired as the latter. This explains Paul’s belief that he was not preaching man’s word but the very Word of God:

"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers." 1 Thessalonians 2:13

And accounts for why 2 Peter could classify Paul’s writings as Scripture:

"And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the OTHER Scriptures." 2 Peter 3:15-16

Peter affirms Paul’s letters as Scripture which he wrote with the wisdom given to him by God! The New American Bible, which happens to be the particular version that Ally recommends for Muslims to use in their outreach to Christians (here), has a note here which says:

12 [16] These things: the teachings of this letter find parallels in Paul, e.g., God's will to save (Romans 2:4; 9:22-23; 1 Cor 1:7-8), the coming of Christ (1 Thes 4:16-17; 1 Cor 15:23-52), and preparedness for the judgment (Col 1:22-23; Eph 1:4-14; 4:30; 5:5-14). Other scriptures: used to guide the faith and life of the Christian community. The letters of Paul are thus here placed on the same level as books of the Old Testament. Possibly other New Testament writings could also be included. 3, 17-18: To avoid the dangers of error and loss of was more pressing. But such doxostability, Christians are forewarned to be on guard and to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 1:2) of Christ. The doxology (2 Peter 3:18) recalls 1 Peter 4:11. Some manuscripts add Amen. (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Noted NT scholar and professor Douglas J. Moo helps to put Peter’s statements in perspective:

The implicit point Peter is making emerges from his claim that the false teachers distort Paul's letters ‘as they do the other Scriptures.’ The word ‘other’ (loipos) shows that Peter considers the letters of Paul to belong to the category of ‘Scripture.’ Some scholars think that this means no more than that Peter considered Paul's writings to be authoritative. But the word ‘Scriptures’ (graphai) ALWAYS REFERS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT TO THOSE WRITINGS CONSIDERED NOT ONLY AUTHORITATIVE BUT CANONICAL- in a word, it refers to the Old Testament… Peter therefore implies that the letters of Paul have a status EQUIVALENT to that of the canon of the Old Testament itself. (Moo, he NIV Application Commentary: 2 Peter, Jude [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI 1996], p. 212; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Moo goes on to say:

PETER'S SUGGESTION THAT Paul's letters belong in the category of ‘Scriptures’ cannot be properly understood without some understanding of the formation of the canon of the biblical books and of the significance of this formation.

The word ‘canon’ means a ‘measuring rod.’ Early Christians applied it to those books that they considered the authoritative ‘measuring rod’ by which one could determine what was orthodox and what was heretical. The matter is vigorously debated, but there is good evidence that by the time of Jesus, Jews were already operating with at least a de facto canon of authoritative books.

The New Testament uses the word, graphe, usually in the plural, graphai, to refer to these authoritative Jewish Scriptures. Used fifty times in the New Testament, the word ALWAYS refers to the authoritative writings that we call the Old Testament. The plural is the more usual, indicating the collection of books (e.g., Luke 24:27…). The singular usually denotes a single text from the Old Testament (e.g. James 2:8…) Some scholars claim that the word is also applied to passages not found in our Old Testament, but the claim cannot be substantiated. The New Testament authors' restriction of the word ‘Scripture’ to those books we now call the Old Testament suggests that they were operating with an implicit, closed canon.

Other evidence tends to confirm this conclusion. For instance, New Testament writers NEVER quote as an authoritative source any book that is not found in the Old Testament canon. To be sure, Jude does cite passages from the Pseudepigrapha (vv. 9 and 14-15). We will deal with this passage in the commentary below, but suffice to say here that it is not clear that Jude refers to either of these texts as authoritative, nor does he cite them as Scripture or with the kind of introduction we usually find when Scripture is quoted.

An incidental confirmation of the existence of a canon of Scriptures in Jesus' day that looked much like ours is Matthew 23:35: ‘And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.’ Abel is, of course, mentioned in the early chapters of Genesis. The martyrdom of Zechariah son of Berekiah, on the other hand, is described in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21. The point is this: In the Hebrew Bible, 2 Chronicles is the last book. The order in which Jesus cites these martyrs, therefore, suggests that he was familiar with a Bible in which Genesis comes first and 2 Chronicles last-exactly what we now have in our Old Testament.

It is against this background, then, that we must assess Peter's suggestion that Paul's letters also belong in the category of Scripture. The first thing to note is that Peter does not straightforwardly call Paul's letters Scripture. He is much less direct, associating Paul's letters with Scripture rather than identifying them as Scripture. We find the same kind of indirect association in 1 Timothy 5:18, the other relevant New Testament passageHere we also find a New Testament text (Luke 10:7) associated indirectly with an Old Testament passage (Deut. 25:4).

Such indirect allusion is just what we might expect at this point in time. As with most doctrines, the idea of the New Testament books as Scripture developed only over time, as these books were used and found to be profitable by the early Christians. In fact, it took a couple of centuries before the process of recognizing and accepting a New Testament canon was complete. Peter was certainly not at the point where he could formulate A FULL-BLOWN concept of the New Testament canon.

If, then, we had the opportunity to ask Peter to clarify and elaborate his point, what might he have said? Would he have argued that the letters of Paul should be added to the canon of authoritative books? This would have been difficult, for, as we have seen, New Testament evidence points to a ‘closed’ first-century canon of Scriptures. Perhaps, then, he would have had to suggest the creation of an additional canon alongside the existing one- in effect, an Old and New Testament. But the fact is that we do not know, and Peter himself had undoubtedly not thought through the matters to this extent. What is important is that he suggests that Paul's letters are like the Old Testament Scriptures.

For Peter, this would have meant two things. (1) Paul's letters ARE INSPIRED BY GOD. In this very letter, Peter enunciates this idea of inspiration (see our discussion of 1:20b-21). Paul's letters also, PETER INFERS, ARE THE PRODUCT OF GOD'S SPIRIT, CARRYING PAUL ALONG SO THAT HE WROTE WHAT GOD WANTED HIM TO WRITE. Paul likewise made clear that inspiration is an integral quality of Scripture… (2 Tim. 3:16).

(2) Paul's letters are authoritative. Authority is the byproduct of inspiration. Precisely because God, by his Spirit, speaks in them, Paul's letters are to be heeded as if they were the words of God himself. It is this important and practical point that Peter is most interested in. He has been trying to convince his readers to accept the truth about Christ's Parousia and so to devote themselves to a holy life. And he wants them to know that Paul supports his own view of things, not that of false teachers (as the false teachers were perhaps claiming). Associating Paul's letters with Scripture gives them an authority that his readers should recognize and obey.

Ultimately, of course, Peter writes with the same kind of authority as does ‘our dear brother Paul.' How he viewed his own writing, whether he had begun to entertain any notion that it, too, was Scripture, is impossible to know. But this does seem to be the implication of what Peter says here about the letters of his fellow apostle Paul. (Moo, pp. 215-217; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, another Ally favorite, says of 2 Peter 3:15:

2 Pet 3:15 indicates that a group of Pauline letters were being read ON THE SAME LEVEL as "the other Scriptures"; but 2 Pet is notoriously hard to date. (Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Roland E. Murphy, ed., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary [Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990; Nihil Obstat. Imprimatur: Reverend William J. Kane. Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Washington, Nov. 15 1988], p. 1046; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Interestingly, Ally in the debate mentioned Bart Ehrman’s recent book Misquoting Jesus, which implies that he read it. He, therefore, must have been aware of this liberal scholar’s comments regarding the NT’s view of its own inspiration:

In any event, Jesus's teachings were soon seen to be as authoritative as the pronouncements of Moses - that is, those of the Torah itself. This becomes even more clear later in the New Testament period, in the book of I Timothy, allegedly by Paul but frequently taken by scholars to have been written in his name by a later follower. In I Tim. 5:18 the author is urging his readers to pay those who minister among them, and supports his exhortation by quoting "the scripture." What is interesting is that he then quotes two passages, one found in the Torah ("Do not muzzle an ox that is treading," Deut. 25:4) and the other found on the lips of Jesus ("A workman is worthy of his hire"; see Luke 10:7). It appears that for this author, Jesus's words are already on a par with scripture.

Nor was it just Jesus's teachings that were being considered scriptural by the second- or third-generation Christians. So too were the writings of his apostles. Evidence comes in the final book of the New Testament to be written, 2 Peter, a book that most critical scholars believe was not actually written by Peter but by one of his followers, pseudonymously. In 2 Peter 3 the author makes reference to false teachers who twist the meaning of Paul's letter to make them say what they want them to say, "just as they do with the rest of the scriptures" (2 Pet. 3:16). It appears that Paul's letters are here being understood as scripture.

Soon after the New Testament period, certain Christian writings were being quoted as authoritative texts for the life and beliefs of the church. An outstanding example is a letter written by Polycarp, the previously mentioned bishop of Smyrna, in the early second century. Polycarp was asked by the church at Philippi to advise them, particularly with respect to a case involving one of the leaders who had evidently engaged in some form of financial mismanagement within the church (possibly embezzling church funds). Polycarp's letter to the Philippians, which still survives, is intriguing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its propensity to quote earlier writings of the Christians. In just fourteen brief chapters, Polycarp quotes more than a hundred passages from these earlier writings, asserting their authority for the situation the Philippians were facing (in contrast to just a dozen quotations from the Jewish scriptures); in one place he appears to call Paul's letter to the Ephesians scripture. More commonly, he simply quotes or alludes to earlier writings, assuming their authoritative status for the community. (Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Who Changed the Bible and Why [HarperSanFrancisco, 2005], pp. 31-32)

Despite his comments regarding the alleged pseudonymity of 1 Timothy and 2 Peter, even Ehrman admits that these books, along with Polycarp, affirm the inspiration and authority of specific writings which eventually became part of the NT canon. In fact, here is Polycarp in his own words:

I am writing you these comments about righteousness, brothers, not on my own initiative but because you invited me to do so. For neither I nor anyone like me CAN KEEP PACE WITH THE WISDOM OF THE BLESSED AND GLORIOUS PAUL, who, when he was among you in the presence of the men of the time, ACCURATELY AND RELIABLY TAUGHT THE WORD CONCERNING THE TRUTH. And when he was absent he wrote you letters; if you study them carefully, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO BUILD YOURSELVES UP IN THE FAITH that has been given you, "which is the mother of us all [Galatians 4:26]," while hope follows and love for God and Christ and for our neighbor leads the way…

"But the love of money is the beginning of al, trouble [1 Timothy 6:10]." Knowing, therefore, that "we brought nothing into, nor can we take anything out [1 Timothy 6:7]," let us arm ourselves with "the weapons of righteousness [2 Corinthians 6:7; Romans 6:13]" and let us first teach ourselves to follow the commandment of the Lord…

Knowing therefore, that "God is not mocked [Galatians 6:7]," we out to live in a manner that is worthy of his commandment and glory. Similarly, deacons must be blameless in the presence of his righteousness, as deacons of God and Christ and not of men: not slanderers, not insincere, not lovers of money, self-controlled in every respect, compassionate, diligent, acting in accordance with the truth of the Lord, who became a "a servant of all [1 Timothy 3:8-13; Mark 9:35]." If we please him in this present world, we will receive the world to come as well, inasmuch as he promised to raise us from the dead and that if we prove to be citizens worthy of him, "we will also reign with him [2 Timothy 2:12]"- if, that is, we continue to believe. (The Letter Polycarp to the Philippians, 3.1-5:1; The Apostolic Fathers- Greek Texts and English Translations [Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 1999], edited and revised by Michael W. Holmes, pp. 209, 211; bold and capital emphasis ours)

He wasn’t the only Apostolic father (a contemporary of the Apostles who wrote in the generation that immediately succeeded theirs) who affirmed the Divine authority given to the apostolic band. There were others such as Clement of Rome writing in AD 96:

Take up THE EPISTLE of the BLESSED PAUL the apostle. What did he first write you in the "beginning of the gospel"? Truly HE WROTE to you IN THE SPIRIT about himself and Cephas and Apollos, because even then you had split into factions… (The Letter of the Romans to the Corinthians Commonly Known as First Clement, # 47; Holmes, p. 83)

Ignatius of Antioch, writing approximately 107-112 AD, said regarding Peter and Paul that:

I know who I am and to whom I am writing. I am a convict, you have received mercy; I am in danger, you are secure. You are the highway of those who are being killed for God's sake; you are fellow initiates of Paul, who was sanctified, who was approved, who is deservedly blessed - may I be found in his footsteps when I reach God! - who in every letter remembers you in Christ Jesus. (The Letter of Ignatius to the Ephesians, 12:1; Holmes, p. 145; bold emphasis ours)

I do not give you orders LIKE PETER AND PAUL: THEY WERE APOSTLES, I am a convict; they were free, but I am even now still a slave… (The Letters of Ignatius to the Romans, 4:1; Holmes, p. 171; bold and capital emphasis ours)

This leads us to our next point. Ally shares the view of liberal critical scholarship that 2 Timothy and 2 Peter were not written by either Paul or Peter, but by pseudonymous scribes. The estimated date range given by many of these scholars for 2 Timothy is anywhere between 80-130 AD, whereas 2 Peter is dated at roughly AD 150. The reason why these dates are significant is because they place the composition of these letters at a time when most of the NT was already written and accepted by the large bulk of Christians as canonical. This means that if the critics are correct regarding the pseudonymous nature and dating of these writings then the authors of these epistles would more than likely have classified as Scripture those very NT books which their respective communities accepted as canonical. As the Intepreter’s One-Volume Commentary states:

… The Sacred Writings certainly mean the OT but may also embrace the letters of Paul. In II Pet. 3:15-16 Paul's letters are considered as scripture, and it is unlikely that so ardent a Paulinist as the author of the Pastorals would consider them less authoritative… (Ibid., commentary on 2 Tim. 3:15, pp. 890-891; underline emphasis mine)

The late liberal NT scholar Raymond E. Brown, who happens to be Ally’s darling, wrote regarding 2 Peter 3:15-16:

… At one end of the spectrum, II Pet was certainly in existence by AD 200, since the text is preserved in the 3d-century Bodmer P72 and it was known by Origen. At the other end, a number of ‘after’ point to a date no earlier than ca. 100. e.g: after the apostolic generation was dead and expectations of the second coming during their lifetime had been disappointed (II Pet 3:4-thus after 80); after I Pet (II Pet 3:1) which may have been composed in the 80s; after Jude which may have been composed ca.90; after there was a collection of Pauline letters (II Pet 3:15-16) which probably did not take place much before 100; after THOSE LETTERS WERE SEEMINGLY RECKONED AS SCRIPTURE (II Pet 3:16: ‘as they do the other writings of Scriptures’)-a development attested for Christian writings in the early 2d century… (Brown, Introduction To The New Testament, Doubleday, p. 767; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Commenting on 2 Timothy 3:16 Brown noted that:

… There is no doubt that "Scripture" designates all or most of the books we call the OT; only by later church teaching can it be applied to the NT, which in its full form (as now accepted in Western Christianity) did not come to general acceptance for another two hundred or more years ... The texts in II Tim and II Pet are very important in the development of a Christian belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures (OT AND NT)… (Brown, Introduction, pp. 678-679; bold and capital emphasis mine)

What the foregoing shows is that Shabir does not accept or follow the conclusions of his own hypercritical and liberal sources if they happen to support the Christian position. He only accepts them when they serve his purpose of undermining the NT documents. Thus, not only is he not consistent in applying the same unbelieving, critical scholarship to the Quran, he doesn’t even have a consistent pattern of embracing the assertions of his own sources since he is all too willing to set them aside when they happen to contradict him! Ally doesn’t bother providing a valid reason why he rejects his own authorities when they end up disagreeing with him.

The problem with Ally’s unscholarly handling of materials is that if these sources are credible enough to prove his points then they are also reliable enough to refute him.

Finally, and more importantly, 2 Timothy 3 and 2 Peter 3 are not isolated texts. There are plenty of other references where specific NT writers claimed to be speaking with Divine authority, that their instructions had to be followed since they came from the Lord Christ himself:

"since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you… For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down." 2 Corinthians 13:3, 10

"But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter." 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15

"Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us." 2 Thessalonians 3:6

"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near." Revelation 1:1-3

"I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, ‘Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.’ Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.’" Revelation 1:9-19

"And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’" Revelation 14:13

"And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’" Revelation 19:9-10

"And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said,Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.’" Revelation 21:5-7

2 Peter itself makes this very assertion:

"This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 2 Peter 3:1-2

This passage, although not as explicit, provides additional attestation that the authors believed they were inspired:

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Paul says that his instructions regarding Christ’s second coming was based on a word he received from the Lord, which is simply another way of saying that he got this as a result of a revelation. He says essentially the same thing regarding the Gospel he preached:

"For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus." Galatians 1:11-17

Paul uses language that is reminiscent of the way the OT prophets spoke of their Divine commission:

"Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’ But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, "I am only a youth"; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.’ Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.’" Jeremiah 1:4-10

This helps explain why certain authors warned their hearers not to ignore or distort their instructions:

"If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized." 1 Corinthians 14:37-38

"For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus… Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you." 1 Thessalonians 4:2, 8

"If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed." 2 Thessalonians 3:14

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." Revelation 22:18-19

The foregoing clearly shows that most, if not all, of the NT writers truly believed that they were recording the very inspired Words of God. Now whether they were correct is a discussion for another paper, since the purpose of this article was to refute Ally’s assertion that the NT does not claim inspiration for itself.

Our Challenge to Shabir Ally

Dr. White mentioned to Ally that when individuals do not apply their criticisms against their own beliefs this shows that they are being inconsistent, and such inconsistency is a sign of a failed argument.

Our desire here is to help Ally remain consistent by applying his own standards to the Quran. Therefore, we invite Ally to show us the following from the Quran:

Now Shabir may mention isolated texts which speak of Allah revealing the Quran, but none of these expressly say what the entire Quran actually is, i.e. how many chapters does it consist of, how many verses each chapter contains etc. The fact is that Shabir cannot show that the Quran claims that it is entirely the Word of God.

After all, how does he know that those Suras that do not explicitly claim to be from Allah were truly revealed by Allah? How can he show from the Quran that Sura Al-Fatiha (Chapter 1) is revelation from Allah when it is a prayer which is offered to Allah? How does he prove from the Quran that Allah gave Sura 111, which is a curse on someone named Abu Lahab and his wife, to Muhammad? The answer is that he has no way of proving this.

We close with the words of Dr. White who said, "Inconsistency is a mark of a failed argument." In light of his blatant inconsistency, Ally has failed as an apologist and polemicist.

Further articles by Sam Shamoun
Responses to Shabir Ally
Answering Islam Home Page