The theme for the March 31, 2010 Wednesday Forum was “Matthew’s Contradiction”? which was delivered by Ahmad Saber, an ICRS-Yogya student held again at Rm. 306 at the Graduate School Building. Dr. Robinson Rajagukguk acted as moderator.
In his presentation, the speaker, simply called Saber by friends and colleagues at ICRS and CRCS, discussed the various contradictions he and the Christian scholars found in the Bible, most especially in the New Testament.
Saber said that countless books have been published by Christian scholars on the topic of the various contradictions in the Bible. However, he said, most of these books have gone one of two different routes, either: reconcile every single discrepancy through abstraction and so forth, and when they are presented with two conflicting versions of one story in the Bible they simply choose the one they personally prefer and claim the other was a scribal error, or claim that Jesus was no more than a legend and a myth, and that the Bible, the apostles, and even Jesus himself were only figments of someone’s imagination. Saber, on the other hand, did not go with any of these routes. He, however, took a different route which is that Jesus was indeed a true prophet of God but that His message was corrupted by those who came after him for personal gain.
The aims of Saber’s presentation are as follows: to verify the affirmations of the Qurân with regard to mankind’s distortion of the Gospels, challenge the reliability of “the Gospel according to St. Matthew, explore and examine the contradictions of the Gospel of Matthew from different perspectives”, make the issue up to date and state what is being cleared from these contradictions and what is still, exhibit irrefutable tangible proof that mankind is guilty of tampering with the religion of Jesus after his departure, promote the idea that many things which people may have always taken for granted as being true, may not be necessarily so, deepen religious understanding and commitments in this inter-religious context, and fill a void which he saw in this field.
Saber cited a few things in the Bible he thinks are contradicting with one another especially the five gospels in the New Testament. He said that the versions of each gospel written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John contradict with each even up to the point of questioning the authenticity of the gospels.
He concluded his presentation saying that: Matthew is now recognized as not being the author of Matthew. John is also recognized as not being the author of John. Even now when Christians and their universities recognize this to be a scientific fact they still do not bother to tell the masses. Many contradictions can be found in the Bible Christian scholars have known, recognized, and documented for centuries now. It is only the masses who do not know this. That is why it has become necessary for the Church to demand â€œblind faithâ€? from the masses.
Christians attending the forum were few but his presentation raised a lot of eyebrows. If only the forum was not timed, Saber might have elicited a great deal of criticisms, questions and reactions from lecturers and students alike. Agus, an ICRS-Yogya student, expressed his sentiment that it doesn’t matter to a Christian whether the Bible has a lot of contradictions or not, he continued that it doesn’t affect a Christian if told that the Bible has many contradictions, he said that a Christian’s faith does not wither with contradictions claimed by Saber and the others in the Bible because what is important is his/her faith in Jesus Christ. Jimmy, a CRCS student, enquired what have Saber learned from his study about Christianity, is his conception of Christianity the same as before or did it change? Siti Syamsiyatun, the associate director of ICRS-Yogya, commented that Saber carried out a reductionist approach to his study. Robinson asked him if what he has studied is the end of his study or just a challenge to his conclusion because for Robinson, he did not see what is next. The forum ended at exactly 2:30 in the afternoon with a warm applause for Saber.
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