Dr. Timothy McGrew's Sermon Response To Me About Prophecy

In my recent debate with Abdu Murray I had said:
Where’s the Prophetic Evidence?

There is none! I defy someone to come up with one statement in the Old Testament that is specifically fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that can legitimately be understood as a prophecy and singularly points to Jesus as the Messiah using today’s historical-grammatical hermeneutical method. It cannot be done. An expressed hope for a future savior is not to be considered a prediction, unless along with that hope are specific details whereby we can check to see if it was fulfilled in a specific person.
Looks like people were asking how I could say that, which in turn promoted Timothy McGrew to respond. It's long. One thing though. He did not deal with my arguments in chapter 17 of Why I Became an Atheist. McGrew said he has my book (1st edition I presume) but he shows no awareness of it, and he doesn't deal with the force of my arguments.



Throughout this "sermon" of his (really, this is not a lecture where students can ask questions!) he repeatedly says that I disagree with something, or that I say something different. I do yes. But I'm sure as sure can be he's special pleading based on the mother of all cognitive biases, confirmation bias. Surely as an outsider he would not treat any other holy book containing alleged prophecies this way. No, siree bob!


The Psalms are a certain type of literature, that of prayer, praise, thanksgiving and the destruction of enemies (i.e., imprecatory Psalms). There is nothing about any of the Psalms that are remotely prophetic, when read contextually according to their genre.

Isaiah 49:1-3 tells us the nation of Israel is the suffering servant in Isaiah 53.
Isaiah 49:1-3
1 Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.

2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.

3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
I find it strangely interesting McGrew can see that "Wisdom" in Proverbs 8 is not about a person (or does he?), while refusing to see the same personification taking place in Isaiah 53.

His main argument (based on 9:30 onward), is that the prophecies were uttered such that only in the face of their fulfillment in Jesus could they be seen for what they really were, real prophecies. So let me get this straight, okay? Something that was originally not a prophecy, or a prophecy that strictly applied to the day it was uttered, or a prophecy about someone else (or a group of people) can legitimately be applied to Jesus as evidence he was the Messiah, simply because it looks like a good fit? Can something uttered in the past legitimately be used as evidence of a fulfillment in Jesus even though it's used illegitimately out of context? Reasonable people don't think like this, people who are trying to figure out whether Jesus is in fact the Messiah, as opposed to people who already believe and are looking for confirmation of their faith.

So based on Timothy MeGrew, think what that means. It means we should throw out attempts to reason to God, since reasoning based on the actual contextual evidence in this case does not matter. Reasoning demands a proper reading of the Bible. Doing otherwise is illegitimate. So it also means Yahweh is duplicitous, since we're told he wants us to reason with him. [Isaiah 1:18: "Come now, and let us reason together..." Consider also the two greatest commandments of Jesus. It also means a reasonable God is counting on believers to depend on confirmation bias when looking at his scared book, He's counting on them to be unreasonable, where they seek to read the Bible as others read their horoscopes. Now that may indeed be what a God could have done, but that means no reasonable person could accept this "evidence" to believe.

Think also what it means for the Jews who were originally given these so-called prophecies:
Take for example the Jews of Jesus’ day. They believed in Yahweh, that he performed miracles, and they knew their Old Testament prophecies. Yet the overwhelming majority of them did not believe Jesus was raised from the dead by Yahweh. Since these Jews were there and didn’t believe, why should we? No, really. Why should we? Why should anyone? The usual answer is that these Jews didn’t want to believe because Jesus was not their kind of Messiah, a king who would throw off Roman rule. But then, where did they get that idea in the first place? They got it from their own scriptures. And who supposedly penned them? Yahweh. Christians will also claim God needed the Jews to crucify Jesus to atone for our sins, just as he needed Judas to betray him. So God needed to mislead them about the nature of the Messiah too. But look at the result. Because he did this, Christians have also been given a reason to persecute, torture, and kill Jews throughout the centuries for their alleged crime (the Romans are actually the guilty ones). Not only this, but the overwhelming majority of Jews will go to hell (however conceived), where Judas is right now. Does this sound fair for a righteous, omniscient judge? It smells exactly like entrapment, pure and simple. [From How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist, p. 250.]
The fact is, OT writings were used to create some of the events in the life of Jesus, not that Jesus fulfilled any of them. John Dominic Crossan, biblical scholar and former president of the Society of Biblical Literature, considers them to be nothing more that historicized prophecy. For an example with regard to the crucifixion of Jesus see here.

What McGrew says does not need further rebuttal. It's amazing he thinks he has answered me. Let this be another exhibit that all apologetics is special pleading, as I argued in chapter 7 of my book
How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist.

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