Book Plunge: Evidence Considered, Chapter 6

Does David Wood have a good argument against evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re continuing our look at the work of Glenton Jelbert and his book Evidence Considered, which looks at the 50 reasons for God in an edited book by Michael Licona and William Dembski. This time, we’re looking at the problem of evil again. David Wood has an essay here on responding to the argument from evil.

Jelbert rightly points out that the argument is a disproof of theism. In this case then, the burden of proof is on the atheist. The theist has the much easier task considering of just showing that something is possible. He does not bear the burden of proof.

He also rightly points out that good could mean something different to a theist than it does to an atheist. Indeed, I think many of the problems we have in the debate is we never really define our terms. Good is an idea that is left floating in the air, which is why I always prefer to ask someone what is meant when they say good.

In his response, Jelbert starts by saying that he notes four definitions of evil. I wonder if these are all definitions or rather different ways of viewing something. There is moral evil and natural evil for instance and both are talked about, but both are not the same.

Wood has gone also with the argument from design. With the problem of evil, the atheist says that it probably isn’t likely that there is a good reason for evil, so we shouldn’t accept that there is. When it comes to design, the problem is that it is not probable that life arose by purely naturalistic processes, so we shouldn’t think that it did. The situation is indeed reversed. Please note also I say this as someone who doesn’t use the design argument.

One difference I can see is that if theism is true, then we should expect that God’s knowledge will be vastly superior to ours. In any event that happens be it an atheistic or theistic universe, there is probably knowledge about most events that we cannot know because we do not know all things. Most of us have a hard time with truth about ourselves let alone truth about greater realities.

As I write this, it was not too long ago that we had a mass shooting take place here in Las Vegas in America. This was over a week ago, and we’re still picking together pieces of what happened. ISIS has claimed responsibility, but I have not seen anyone definitively say that ISIS is involved. Here we have numerous investigators working on something and we don’t have definitive answers and yet with much less investigation and skilled investigation at that, we expect to know about other kinds of suffering?

Jelbert says that if we cannot think of a moral justification for this suffering, then we should not quash our morality. The problem is that Jelbert then starts to just beg the question. Sure. I can’t think of a reason, but the burden of proof is on the atheist to show that there is no good reason. Unless this has been shown, then the argument has not reached its conclusion. If I throw in other arguments for theism, then the case is much more firmly stacked in my favor.

This also assumes that God is the efficient cause behind everything that happens. Even many Calvinists would not accept this. This would be akin to the idea that since God is the one behind the reproductive system, that He automatically guides every cell that goes into life. If it is the case that God is not the efficient cause, then God is not the one doing things directly.

Also, I think it’s just wrong anyway to apply moral categories to God. This assumes that God is an agent like any of us with responsibilities like any of us. He isn’t. God doesn’t owe us anything. God does not owe you or I a good life. If God wanted to just take my life right now, He could. He does not owe me anything.

If someone thinks God is wrong in taking a life, I want to ask on what grounds is it that God owes them life? The only thing God owes people is that which He’s promised to give them. No one can place an obligation on God that He has to give X to them.

Jelbert also has another argument that if God existed, He would help people develop virtues and seek God. Peopel do not do this, therefore God does not exist. Even if I granted the first premise, I can still say that this is true. God has done this. It’s called the incarnation. The life of Jesus has been the greatest impetus to virtue of all time. It has caused more and more people to seek God as well. To say God will help people will not mean that God is forcing people.

Jelbert also has an offhand remark about atrocities committed in the name of God from the previous chapter. Our look at that saw much of this lacking and don’t see why it should be expected that God will intervene every time. If Jelbert has a chapter later on on the Crusades or the Inquisition or anything like that, we will deal with it then.

Jelbert also says the argument of Wood is a call to distrust your moral judgment and senses and just trust God has it all worked out. I don’t see how. If one has prior grounds for believing that God exists, then one can indeed think justifiably He has it worked out. Furthermore, God has to remain in the paradigm in the objection and if there is such a God, then it is quite likely He knows more about the situation. The burden is squarely on the atheist. Jelbert even agrees that if there was good evidence for God, you would be forced to assume He has secret reasons for the evil we see. I would not say forced, but Jelbert here grants my point.

Yet how do I have to deny my senses? I can affirm that there is great suffering in the world. I can affirm that this is not the way the world is meant to be. I can affirm that there is something wrong here. In fact, Christianity demands that I affirm these. Jesus did not die because the world was perfect. He died because it is highly imperfect.

Jelbert says that this contradicts Copan’s chapter where our morality is a clue to God’s existence and here we are supposed to suppress our morality. Again, I still do not see how we are to do that. I can look at events and say that these are instances of evil, such as the Las Vegas shooting, or suffering that will be gone in the new Heaven and Earth, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. I don’t have to change my moral stance one iota.

Jelbert says that Wood says that humans are at war with God so that explains poor morality. Jelbert counters by saying that most of us do so purely out of selfishness. The problem here is, why not both? Wood’s definition works fine as does Jelbert. The difference is on Jelbert’s view, I don’t see why I shouldn’t be selfish. On Wood’s, I do.

Jelbert goes on to say that the problem of evil is a serious blow to the idea of God and any free-thinking person will acknowledge that. Sorry. I consider myself a free-thinking person. I don’t acknowledge that. I don’t find the problem of evil persuasive at all. In fact, this is largely seen as a Western problem. Go to other countries that aren’t as affluent as ours and you’ll find people rarely talk about the problem of evil.

I also note something else here I don’t think was said. Evil is a problem for everyone. How does Jelbert explain it and how does he hope to resolve it? For theism, we have not only an explanation for evil, but a hope that evil will be defeated ultimately based on the resurrection of Jesus. Can atheism give me anything comparable?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Me Too And The Failed Revolution

Has the sexual revolution ultimately failed women? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Have you seen the “Me Too” movement going around Facebook and other places? It’s because of people like Harvey Weinstein and letting women be able to share that they have suffered sexual abuse of some kind from people in their lives. It is quite surprising to me to see how many people are included in this and even in Hollywood we’re seeing women come out and admit that there is a problem and turning down time with a guy like Weinstein cost them in their acting careers as he would give a role to someone else then.

One of the things the sexual revolution was supposed to do was to make women equal. Now in a sense of course, women can never be equal to men and men can never be equal to women, but that is not because one is superior and one is inferior, but because both are different. Ask anyone who has been married for any length of time and they know that men and women are different.

For instance, in general, when a woman has a problem, she wants to talk about how she feels about it at first, while the guy wants to go and solve the problem immediately. A guy will often want sex just because and he needs to feel sex because that’s how he feels connected to his wife. The woman will want sex when she feels connected. A woman is much more relationship-oriented and a guy is often much work task-oriented. These are generalities of course as there are exceptions in every case, but one would have to be a fool to think that men and women are not different.

Yet where gender is irrelevant to some things, there is nothing wrong with striving for equality between men and women. In fact, with the movement of women’s suffrage prior, I think we were already moving there. One of the problems though was sex. Women wanted to have careers, but that problem of being a mother would creep up.

The problem was not the pill then, but it was more the desire behind it. Sometimes women came to see being a mother as a less than noble calling. Of course, some couples can’t have children for whatever reason and that’s fine, but then we went a step farther. While Christians can debate the pill back and forth, there is one issue that they should not have to debate within themselves, but they sadly do often, and that’s abortion.

Abortion has become such a law of the land that when we see a mass shooting take place in Las Vegas, we ask how such an evil could happen blind to the idea of how many babies we are killing every day in Planned Parenthood. If we have such a callous attitude towards life in its most innocent place, why should we expect it to be different elsewhere? With abortion, we are actually even worse than the people of the past who offered up their children in sacrifice. At least we could say they did it because they wanted a good harvest for their people. We sacrifice our children at the altar of convenience.

It’s quite odd because this doesn’t empower women. It destroys women. Abortion is one of the most anti-women acts out there. Around 50% of its victims are women. It also results in a woman killing her own children legally, the very opposite of what a mother is to do. She can say she’s not ready to be a mother, but as soon as she is pregnant, she is a mother. The choice is if she wants to kill her own children or not.

Not only that, in all of this, men stayed men. From the dawn of humanity, men have been attracted to women. Women have been seen as the great mystery to men and the wonder that they cannot explain. If it wasn’t for sex, men would not get married because when they marry, they have an extra expense and they have to sacrifice their time and money for someone else. There has to be a good incentive for the man, at least at first, to compel him to enter this relationship. Sex is a good incentive.

This is also why I personally follow the Pence Rule. (Yes. I know it does not originate with him) Why should I risk myself with another woman? Is it because I don’t trust others? Not really. I don’t trust myself. The moment I say I am above temptation and cannot fall to it, I already have.

Last month, we had another man staying at our place here who was a refugee from Hurricane Irma. He’s a Christian who wanted to learn some apologetics, but I also wanted to teach him how a man is to love a woman and a husband is to treat a wife, and indeed he did learn a lot of good from that. One rule we consistently followed is that if I went anywhere, he came with me. It was a way of respect and avoiding temptation.

You see, even a man who is happily married can still look at other women and be tempted and wonder. It’s not because we don’t love our wives. It’s just that’s the way that a man is wired. I’m not saying that it is at all right, but that is the way it is. A man was made to look at the human female form and to admire it and to desire it.

Normally, a man who has wanted that has had to be serious about it because the action could always result in pregnancy. Now, that is much less of a factor and the men are still men and women too often have sadly let themselves be used in this way to get ahead in their minds. Some women have an idea that if they give the men in their lives sex, they will either love them or get what they want.

For love, often if a couple engages in sex too early, such as without being married, their emotional build-up in the commitment will halt and possibly not even grow at all beyond that. They don’t get to really see each other as they are because they see each other for sex first. Note also a man will lose respect for a woman. After all, if she gave herself to me this early, how many other men has she done this with? Many men say they want virgins, but they will happily sleep with a woman. It quite likely means they don’t see her as marriage material, but just there for a good time.

This is one reason I encourage women to let the man know how much you are worth. Don’t pay in advance as it were. If a man really wants you, he will be willing to make a lifetime commitment to you in marriage and have that commitment done before the deed is done. If he is not, then you have to ask if he really wants you or not. Why should you settle for less than a lifetime commitment?

Abortion made this too easy and as I said, the men have stayed the same. Very rarely do you have an explicit statement of this, but there is such a one. It is one written by a Ben Sherman years ago about the #HB2 bill in Texas. The bill would make it much more difficult to get an abortion. As Sherman says:

Your sex life is at stake. Can you think of anything that kills the vibe faster than a woman fearing a back-alley abortion? Making abortion essentially inaccessible in Texas will add an anxiety to sex that will drastically undercut its joys. And don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.

Those of us who are pro-life owe a thanks to Sherman for saying this. If having sex with a woman could actually mean that a man has to take responsibility for the action, he is much more prone to not do so. This is one reason I am so confused by so many “feminists” who want abortion and don’t seem to realize that that better enables men to just use them.

This is what happened with Weinstein. He came to see women as objects of pleasure and nothing more instead of valuable persons in themselves. Let’s be clear also that this is not to say that men and women should not both enjoy the gift of sexual intimacy together. It is a wonderful gift and meant to be embraced in a marriage commitment. There’s a claim also that before marriage, the devil will do anything to get a couple to have sex. Afterward, he will do anything to keep them from having sex.

In marriage, sex is not the reason for the marriage, but it is hard to have a good marriage without it. Sexuality becomes more than just pleasure, but it solidifies the covenant between the man and the woman. Every time it is the man and woman coming together and each of them giving their complete trust and love to the other in a sacrifice. It is an exclusive relationship shared with only those two people and way they know each other that no one else does.

Treating women as consumer goods destroys their sacred value. This is another reason that pornography is such a problem. Let’s be clear that men want to see a woman naked and there is indeed nothing wrong with that desire. God made women to be beautiful and He succeeded greatly and there is just something absolutely amazing and gripping about the human female form.

Unfortunately, porn makes it easy for a man to get the benefits supposedly of being with a woman without the real sacrifice of being with one. You know, things like pursuing a relationship, spending time and money, proposing, and making a lifetime commitment. The more a man does this, the easier it is for him to see women as objects. In fact, it damages their marriages later on. Many men have seen so many women in porn magazines that a real woman in front of them doesn’t arouse them for sex and they have to take viagra in their 20’s just to be able to have sex.

(By the way, this is not to deny that women can’t watch porn and women can’t just as much treat men as objects. That too is a problem that needs to be dealt with, but right now I’m really wanting to focus on the problem of the victimhood of women.)

When we make a mockery of sexual purity and virtue and treat sex like a consumer good, why are we surprised to have someone like Weinstein in our midst? I hear the news and I’m not shocked in the least by it. Despite the sexual revolution, women are far more prone to be treated as objects than they were in the past.

When we encourage virtue instead, we might be surprised what happens. Believe it or not men, it’s possible to still have a good sex life and be virtuous. Sure, you have sex with only one woman until death do you part, but that is not seen as a downside. It becomes an ever increasing joy as you come to learn how to love and delight in the woman more and more and you come to love each other more and things get better and better. It is one area where the Law of Diminishing Returns doesn’t apply. A game or an act can get old after awhile, but truly a person never does.

For women who are abused, we need to be there for them and loving them and comforting them and if abuse is affecting your marriage and other relationships today, please go and talk to a qualified counselor. It is possible to overcome the past and you don’t need to be a continued victim of the people who hurt you in the past. If you are abused, it can be scary to come forward, but please do come forward. Silence will never end abuse. You deserve better than that. You are not just an object. You are loved.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Your Dreams Are Not Authoritative

What should you pay attention to? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Just today, my wife pointed out to me a post in a Facebook group we belong to that someone made about being scared of end times predictions. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. In the crazy world of the internet, you have people making all kinds of predictions and getting an audience. If there’s any source that people point to, it’s dreams and experiences.

When my wife and I sit down to watch one of these just to see how bad they are, we inevitably hear the person talk about a dream that they had or an experience that they had. The problem with this is that you have no way of knowing that this comes directly from God. Instead, it is given the same divine authority that one would give to the Bible. That sets up a dangerous precedent.

It’s possible that the dream you have could be from God. It’s also possible that it could be you had too much pizza for dinner that evening and your brain did some funky things. If you answer that question wrongly, you’re risking having it be “God said” when God did no such thing. I keep thinking I want to see a Babylon Bee article with a headline of something like “Local woman fully submits Scripture to the authority of her dreams.”

The next step is always confirmation. This is the funniest one to me. If you can find some tie in with your theory in someone else’s life, then that is confirmation. If two people both happen to dream about end times events, then that’s confirmation. I mean, what are the odds that on a planet with six billion plus people and many of them Christians that someone could dream about an interpretation of Christian doctrine?

Recently, my wife and I heard a story about an asteroid coming close to the Earth. It won’t hit, but it will be within 26,000 miles of Earth. I’m waiting for a story with one of these YouTube prophets calling someone about a dream they had about this is a sign that Jesus is coming and when they called a friend about it, the friend was playing Asteroids on their computer. Confirmation!

No. It is not confirmation. It’s no more confirmation than Mormons having a burning in the bosom is confirmation. Unfortunately, this is something that baby Christians are set up for. Give them thinking like this and it won’t be long until a group like the Mormons comes along.

Please don’t think that the problem in my position here is people believing in futurism. It’s not. My own wife is a futurist. The problem is people claiming to be prophecy experts and they’re not. They’ll jump to any passage of Scripture and rip it out of its historical context and then say that this has confirmed their dream or experience.

The result is that like this Christian in the group today, many Christians will be living terrified. What happens after awhile when nothing happens? There’s always a possibility that not only will they stop believing YouTube prophets, which would be a good thing, but they will stop believing the Biblical prophets, including Jesus. Christianity gets married to the end times madness.

Another greater danger is our appearance to unbelievers. These kinds of people are the ones the media loves to point to as examples of Christian thinkers. They won’t go to any of the real intellectuals in Christian circles to hear their thoughts for the most part. Instead, it will be going to those who are sensational.

There’s a reason James says not many should be teachers. If you are a YouTube prophet type, please hesitate before you put that video up. If you are wrong, you are leading others astray. I’m not saying that God can’t speak through a dream or experience. He very well might have. I am saying to be very cautious before you treat it as an authority and before you encourage others to treat your own dreams and experiences as an authority.

It’s also why to an extent, I’ve taken with calling these people out on their videos on YouTube and more of us should. We do not need this representation of Christianity to the world and it is one that undermines our doctrines of Scripture. It’s especially important to be able to defend young Christians from teachings like this.

As I told this person in the group, I have been through several end of the world scenarios. I went through Y2K, Harold Camping twice, the four blood moons, 2012, Rosh Hashanah this year, everything. If I was a doctor and I never made the right diagnosis, would you listen to me? If I was a politician who never kept my word, would you vote for me? If I was a lawyer and I never won a case, would you want me to represent you in court?

Then why listen to end times prophecy experts who have the same record?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

A Response To Jim Walker of NoBeliefs On Mythicism

What happens when we again examine the historicity of Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The internet is a wonderful place where a skilled researcher can uncover treasures of knowledge and benefit greatly from it. The internet is also a dangerous place where someone unskilled can go and think they’re finding treasure when they really have fools’ gold. Such is the case of mythicism.

Mythicism is this theory that does not stand a chance in the academy and has died every time it has been presented, but on the internet, it’s seen as a serious theory among scholars, although this is by people who never read the scholars themselves. I refer to it as a conspiracy theory for atheists. The problem is most anyone on the internet can be seen as a scholar today just because they have a website or can make videos.

“Well you have a website and videos.”

Right you are! I’m also not a scholar! I’d say I have greater expertise, but I have no Ph.D. or peer-reviewed work. Look at my writings and go back to the real scholars who have that and compare.

Last night, someone sent me an article. The article is long and so I asked for select parts he wanted to be addressed. Note also that it comes from NoBeliefs which is one of the worst websites to go to for information on this topic. Still, let’s see what these parts are that are puzzling to this person.

The first is right at the start.

No one has the slightest physical evidence to support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-written manuscripts. All claims about Jesus derive from writings of other people. There occurs no contemporary Roman record that shows Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus. Devastating to historians, there occurs not a single contemporary writing that mentions Jesus. All documents about Jesus came well after the life of the alleged Jesus from either: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or from fraudulent, mythical or allegorical writings. Although one can argue that many of these writings come from fraud or interpolations, I will use the information and dates to show that even if these sources did not come from interpolations, they could still not serve as reliable evidence for a historical Jesus, simply because all sources about Jesus derive from hearsay accounts.

Hearsay means information derived from other people rather than on a witness’ own knowledge.

Courts of law do not generally allow hearsay as testimony, and nor does honest modern scholarship. Hearsay does not provide good evidence, and therefore, we should dismiss it.

With the first part, if this was our standard, we would have to say 99% of people in the ancient world never existed. Do we have this of Socrates for instance? What of other Jewish sages like Gamaliel, Hillel, and others? Most teachers did not do any writing themselves, but rather they left it to their students to pass on their teachings.

As for contemporary writings, this assumes that the Gospels and the epistles are not contemporary, but we have no contemporary writings of Alexander the Great. Our writings of him come from about 400 years later. We have no contemporaries of Queen Boudica, General Arminius, or Hannibal. These were people also who did, in the eyes of historians of the time, a lot more noteworthy accomplishments than did Jesus. For the ancients, Jesus was not worth talking about.

What about the claim that the Gospels did not come from eyewitnesses? This can also be contested. Nowhere do we see interaction with anything like Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. This statement is just thrown out with no backing at all. Are we to believe that a church in Ephesus one day received a scroll and had no idea who it came from and said “Well, this looks like a good Gospel. Let’s use it!”

The writer not being named in a work does not mean the authorship was unknown. Most writers would not do such. Interestingly, when we have that in some of the Pauline epistles, they’re still viewed as forgeries so I have no reason to think that a name on the Gospel of Matthew explicitly would convince such skeptics.

Still, has Jim looked at any cases for authorship? Has he looked at why the church said Matthew, Mark, and Luke especially? Matthew was a tax collector. Mark was a Mama’s boy who ran back home early and caused a split between the church’s first great missionaries. Luke was a gentile only named in some Pauline epistles. If the church was making up figures as authors, why make up these? I could go on with cases for each, but those who are interested in the evidence, which I am convinced Jim is not, can go and look for themselves at this point.

What about hearsay? Unlike Jim, I did something that I guess would be a bit taboo here. I actually talked to a lawyer about it. Jim first off assumes that this is hearsay and second, documents connected to the events would be allowed to be used in a court of law. Still, I would dispute that the Gospels especially are hearsay and the material in 1 Cor. 15 definitely goes back to the apostles, the eyewitnesses, themselves.

Let’s move to the next part.

Epistles of Paul: Paul’s biblical letters (epistles) serve as the oldest surviving Christian texts, written probably around 60 C.E. Most scholars have little reason to doubt that Paul wrote some of them himself. Of the thirteen epistles, bible scholars think he wrote only eight of them, and even here, there occurs interpolations. Not a single instance in any of Paul’s writings claims that he ever meets or sees an earthly Jesus, nor does Paul give any reference to Jesus’ life on earth (except for a few well known interpolations). Therefore, all accounts about a Jesus could only have come from other believers or his imagination. Hearsay.

Epistle to the Galatians: In this letter Paul describes a meeting with Peter and James, the Lord’s brother (Gal: 1:18-20). The problem here involves the meaning of “Lord’s brother.” Some scholars think this means the biological brother of the Lord while others think it means brother in a communal spiritual sense, as all Christians are the Lord’s brothers and sisters. Note, never does any epistle refer to the brother of Jesus. In all cases, Paul uses the word “Lord,” consistent with the spiritual sense. In any case, even if this phrase did mean a biological brother, Paul could not have known that James had a brother. At best he could only have believed it because his information could only have come from another person, most likely James himself. That makes this letter hearsay.

Epistle of James: Although the epistle identifies a James as the letter writer, but which James? Many claim him as the gospel disciple but the gospels mention several different James. Which one? Or maybe this James has nothing to do with any of the gospel James. Perhaps this writer comes from any one of innumerable James outside the gospels. James served as a common name in the first centuries and Biblical scholars simply have no way to tell who this James refers to. More to the point, the Epistle of James mentions Jesus only once as an introduction to his belief. Nowhere does the epistle reference a historical Jesus and this alone eliminates it from a historical account. [1]

Epistles of John: Scholars tell us the epistles of John, the Gospel of John, and Revelation appear so different in style and content that they could hardly have the same author. Some suggest that these writings of John come from the work of a group of scholars in Asia Minor who followed a “John” or they came from the work of church fathers who aimed to further the interests of the Church. Or they could have simply come from people also named John (a very common name). No one knows. Also note that nowhere in the body of the three epistles of “John” does it mention a John. In any case, the epistles of John say nothing about seeing an earthly Jesus. Not only do we not know who wrote these epistles, they can only serve as hearsay accounts. [2]

Epistles of Peter: Many scholars question the authorship of Peter of the epistles. Even within the first epistle, it says in 5:12 that Silvanus wrote it. Most scholars consider the second epistle as unreliable or an outright forgery (for some examples, see the introduction to 2 Peter in the full edition of The New Jerusalem Bible, 1985). The unknown authors of the epistles of Peter wrote long after the life of the traditional Peter. Moreover, Peter lived (if he ever lived at all) as an ignorant and illiterate peasant (even Acts 4:13 attests to this). In short, no one has any way of determining whether the epistles of Peter come from fraud, an author claiming himself to know what Peter said (hearsay), or from someone trying to further the aims of the Church. Encyclopedias usually describe a tradition that Saint Peter wrote them. However, whenever you see the word “tradition” it refers to a belief passed down within a society. In other words: hearsay. [3], [4]

Epistle of Jude: Even early Christians argued about its authenticity. It quotes an apocryphal book called Enoch as if it represented authorized Scripture. Biblical scholars do not think it possible for the alleged disciple Jude to have written it because whoever wrote it had to have written it during a period when the churches had long existed. Like the other alleged disciples, Jude would have lived as an illiterate peasant and unable to write (much less in Greek) but the author of Jude wrote in fluent high quality Greek.

So let’s go through one by one.

First off, the author has it wrong. Seven of the Pauline epistles are definitely seen as authentic. Second, some do think Paul could have met Jesus, which would make sense since Paul can reasonably go to Jerusalem for Passover and encounter Jesus. Still, if this is the standard that Jim wants, then we can throw out Hannibal and Queen Boudica and Arminius and others since we have no eyewitness testimony of them.

Second, I do not know of any scholars who see the claims about the historical Jesus to be interpolations. If Jim thinks so, he needs to produce them, and no, YouTube personalities do not count as scholars. Robert Price has argued that the 1 Cor. 15 creed is an interpolation, but the case has not convinced scholars and there is zero textual evidence of this. Furthermore, this is the material that would not be interpolated. No early opponent of Christianity was disputing the basic historicity of Jesus.

With Galatians, I would like to see these scholars who think this is someone other than the actual brother of Jesus. Even Catholics who would hold to perpetual virginity would not interpret the passage this way. It would also not be hearsay. It would be from Paul’s own eyewitness testimony himself of meeting James. As even Bart Ehrman has said, “If Jesus never existed, His brother would probably know it.” The only reason to view this with suspicion is you have a prior commitment you wish to show.

We can agree with James that it’s not meant to show a historical Jesus, but neither is it supposed to. Still, many scholars do in fact think that James is getting much of his information from the Sermon on the Mount. It is quite bizarre to think Matthew would make up a whole sermon later on just to agree with James’s epistle.

The Johannine epistles get pretty much the same treatment. Unfortunately, all of his sources are wikipedia or theopedia. (You know, the place where great scholars go for research.) Still, there’s no reason to think that these are written to tell us that Jesus existed, but that they showed up does show that a movement had started and what was it based on?

For Peter, Jim makes much out of saying that Silvanus wrote the letter. Yes, and Romans 16 points out that Paul used a scribe as well, but no one doubts Paul wrote Romans. Even a literate person back then used a scribe so this is not a problem. Also, Acts 4:13 does not mean that Jesus was illiterate and ignorant. It meant that he had not been formally schooled. Either Peter learned how to write Greek well after becoming an apostle, or else he used a scribe. Both of those still hold on to Petrine authorship.

The same can be said for Jude. It is a wonder why quoting Enoch means that Jude did not write it. No doubt then since Paul in authentic letters quoted pagan poets, he thought that those were Scripture too. Jude just took a point he thought was true and used it. Also, there is no reason the church needed to be around a long time. It would have been nice for Jim to engage with some scholars, but alas, he did not.

The next section is on lying for the church.

LYING FOR THE CHURCH

The editing and formation of the Bible came from members of the early Christian Church. Since the fathers of the Church possessed the scriptoria and determined what would appear in the Bible, there occurred plenty of opportunity and motive to change, modify, or create texts that might bolster the position of the Church or the members of the Church themselves.

The orthodox Church also fought against competing Christian cults. Irenaeus, who determined the inclusion of the four (now canonical) gospels, wrote his infamous book, “Against the Heresies.” According to Romer, “Irenaeus’ great book not only became the yardstick of major heresies and their refutations, the starting-point of later inquisitions, but simply by saying what Christianity was not it also, in a curious inverted way, became a definition of the orthodox faith.” [Romer] If a Jesus did exist, perhaps eyewitness writings got burnt along with them because of their heretical nature. We will never know.

In attempting to salvage the Bible the respected revisionist and scholar, Bruce Metzger has written extensively on the problems of the New Testament. In his book, “The Text of the New Testament– Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration, Metzger addresses: Errors arising from faulty eyesight; Errors arising from faulty hearing; Errors of the mind; Errors of judgment; Clearing up historical and geographical difficulties; and Alterations made because of doctrinal considerations. [Metzger]

The Church had such power over people, that to question the Church could result in death. Regardless of what the Church claimed, most people simply believed what their priests told them.

In letter LII To Nepotian, Jerome writes about his teacher, Gregory of Nazianzus when he asked him to explain a phrase in Luke, Nazianzus evaded his request by saying “I will tell you about it in church, and there, when all the people applaud me, you will be forced against your will to know what you do not know at all. For, if you alone remain silent, every one will put you down for a fool.” Jerome responds with, “There is nothing so easy as by sheer volubility to deceive a common crowd or an uneducated congregation.”

In the 5th century, John Chrysostom in his “Treatise on the Priesthood, Book 1,” wrote, “And often it is necessary to deceive, and to do the greatest benefits by means of this device, whereas he who has gone by a straight course has done great mischief to the person whom he has not deceived.”

Ignatius Loyola of the 16th century wrote in his Spiritual Exercises: “To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it.”

Martin Luther opined: “What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church … a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.”

With such admission to accepting lies, the burning of heretical texts, Bible errors and alterations, how could any honest scholar take any book from the New Testament as absolute, much less using extraneous texts that support a Church’s intransigent and biased position, as reliable evidence?

To begin with at the start, it would need to be shown that the text of the New Testament has been heavily edited and changed. Let’s go with a scholar of textual criticism on this. How about Bart Ehrman, who is definitely not a Christian? What does he say?

If the primary purpose of this discipline is to get back to the original text, we may as well admit either defeat or victory, depending on how one chooses to look at it, because we’re not going to get much closer to the original text than we already are.… At this stage, our work on the original amounts to little more than tinkering. There’s something about historical scholarship that refuses to concede that a major task has been accomplished, but there it is. Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior: An Evaluation: TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 1998, a revision of a paper presented at the Textual Criticism section of the 1997 Society of Biblical Literature in San Francisco. http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/vol03/Ehrman1998.html

In spite of these remarkable [textual] differences, scholars are convinced that we can reconstruct the original words of the New Testament with reasonable (although probably not 100 percent) accuracy. Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 481.

I’m also highly skeptical of this idea that the early Christians were killing those in their midst who disagreed. Perhaps Jim could give us some examples. Also, did some people just believe the priests? Sure. That’s still a problem today. It’s also just like some internet atheists write articles where they just believe what they read on Wikipedia.

Many of these quotes are also not what they seem. For instance, Chrysostom does not paint an absolute picture. One could compare what he did to telling the Nazis that there were no Jews underneath the floorboards of the house. The quote about Luther isn’t even listed in the source Jim gives. (This is another reason you don’t use Wikipedia boys and girls. It’s subject to change at any time. Go back to the original sources.)

What appears most revealing of all, comes not from what people later wrote about Jesus but what people did not write about him. Consider that not a single historian, philosopher, scribe or follower who lived before or during the alleged time of Jesus ever mentions him!

If, indeed, the Gospels portray a historical look at the life of Jesus, then the one feature that stands out prominently within the stories shows that people claimed to know Jesus far and wide, not only by a great multitude of followers but by the great priests, the Roman governor Pilate, and Herod who claims that he had heard “of the fame of Jesus” (Matt 14:1)”. One need only read Matt: 4:25 where it claims that “there followed him [Jesus] great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.” The gospels mention, countless times, the great multitude that followed Jesus and crowds of people who congregated to hear him. So crowded had some of these gatherings grown, that Luke 12:1 alleges that an “innumerable multitude of people… trode one upon another.” Luke 5:15 says that there grew “a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear…” The persecution of Jesus in Jerusalem drew so much attention that all the chief priests and scribes, including the high priest Caiaphas, not only knew about him but helped in his alleged crucifixion. (see Matt 21:15-23, 26:3, Luke 19:47, 23:13). The multitude of people thought of Jesus, not only as a teacher and a miracle healer, but a prophet (see Matt:14:5).

 

So here we have the gospels portraying Jesus as famous far and wide, a prophet and healer, with great multitudes of people who knew about him, including the greatest Jewish high priests and the Roman authorities of the area, and not one person records his existence during his lifetime? If the poor, the rich, the rulers, the highest priests, and the scribes knew about Jesus, who would not have heard of him?

For this, I refer the reader to my earlier article on how Jesus is not worth talking about. What amazes me is not how few people talked about Jesus, but that anyone really did at all.

Some apologists attempt to dig themselves out of this problem by claiming that there lived no capable historians during that period, or due to the lack of education of the people with a writing capacity, or even sillier, the scarcity of paper gave reason why no one recorded their “savior.” But the area in and surrounding Jerusalem served, in fact, as the center of education and record keeping for the Jewish people. The Romans, of course, also kept many records. Moreover, the gospels mention scribes many times, not only as followers of Jesus but the scribes connected with the high priests. And as for historians, there lived plenty at the time who had the capacity and capability to record, not only insignificant gossip, but significant events, especially from a religious sect who drew so much popular attention through an allegedly famous and infamous Jesus.

Take, for example, the works of Philo Judaeus (also known as Philo of Alexander) whose birth occurred in 20 B.C.E. and died 50 C.E. He lived as the greatest Jewish-Hellenistic philosopher and historian of the time and lived in the area of Jerusalem during the alleged life of Jesus. He wrote detailed accounts of the Jewish events that occurred in the surrounding area. Yet not once, in all of his volumes of writings, do we read a single account of a Jesus* “the Christ.” Nor do we find any mention of Jesus in Seneca’s (4? B.C.E. – 65 C.E.) writings, nor from the historian Pliny the Elder (23? – 79 C.E.).

* Note, Philo did write about a pre-Christian celestial “Jesus,” but this had nothing to do with the Christian Jesus (unless Christians “stole” Philo’s ideas). See Philo’s On the Confusion of Tongues (62-63, 146-147)

If, indeed, such a well known Jesus existed, as the gospels allege, does any reader here think it reasonable that, at the very least, the fame of Jesus would not have reached the ears of one of these men?

Amazingly, we have not one Jewish, Greek, or Roman writer, even those who lived in the Middle East, much less anywhere else on the earth, who ever mention him during his supposed life time. This appears quite extraordinary, and you will find few Christian apologists who dare mention this embarrassing fact.

To illustrate this extraordinary absence of Jesus Christ literature, just imagine going through nineteenth century literature looking for an Abraham Lincoln but unable to find a single mention of him in any writing on earth until the 20th century. Yet straight-faced Christian apologists and historians want you to buy a factual Jesus out of a dearth void of evidence, and rely on nothing but hearsay written well after his purported life. Considering that most Christians believe that Jesus lived as God on earth, the Almighty gives an embarrassing example for explaining his existence. You’d think a Creator might at least have the ability to bark up some good solid evidence.

Again, this is dealt with in my above article on how Jesus is not worth talking about. As for the confusion of tongues passage, I refer to an atheist on this one. Yes. Even atheists are rightly going after Carrier’s nonsense.

For example, in Matt 4:8, the author describes the devil taking Jesus into an exceedingly high mountain to show him all the kingdoms of the world. Since there exists no spot on the spheroid earth to view “all the kingdoms,” we know that the Bible errs here.

John 12:21 says, “The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee. . . .” Bethsaida resided in Gaulonitis (Golan region), east of the Jordan river, not Galilee, which resided west of the river.

John 3:23 says, “John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim. . . .” Critics agree that no such place as Aenon exists near Salim.

No one has evidence for a city named Nazareth at the time of the alleged Jesus. [Gauvin] Nazareth does not appear in the Old Testament, nor does it appear in the volumes of Josephus’s writings (even though he provides a list of cities in Galilee). Oddly, none of the New Testament epistle writers ever mentions Nazareth or a Jesus of Nazareth even though most of the epistles appeared before the gospels. In fact no one mentions Nazareth until the Gospels, where the first one didn’t come into existence until about 40 years after the alleged death of Jesus. If a city named Nazareth existed during the 1st century, then we need at least one contemporary piece of evidence for the name, otherwise we cannot refer to it as established history.  According to John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, “The only epigraphic evidence for Nazareth comes from a Jewish synagogue inscription, written in Hebrew.  A small dark gray marble fragment from a third, or fourth century C.E. synagogue plaque was discovered at Caesarea Maritima in 1962, containing the earliest occurrence of the name Nazareth in a non-Christian source. This fragment and two others unearthed with it preserve a list of the traditional locations where Jewish priests resettled after the Roman emperor Hadrian banned all Jews from Jerusalem in 135 C.E.” [Grossan, 2001] And given the past history of made up objects for Jesus, even this might turn out as a forgery.

Some historians do not agree with this of course. Some think Nazareth existed, some don’t think it existed, and some remain skeptical, but the fact that historians still debate it should tell you that that we should not use this as a certainty. Moreover, some scholars think it as a moot point because they believe “Nazareth” refers to a Christian movement, not a city. For one example, Acts 24:5 refers to a sect of the Nazarenes. The Gospel writers then might have confused the term to mean the city (which by the time they wrote the gospels, a city did exist with that name). We have a lot of educated guesses by scholars, but no certainty.

For Matthew 4, who else would have known not all the kingdoms of the world can be seen from the top of a mountain? No one but everyone. What’s going on? Jesus is being taken to a high position not for the sake of seeing things per se, but for the sake of experiencing being in an honorable position and the kingdoms would be shown in a visionary way.

For John 12, Bethsaida was in the region of Galilee. Pliny the Elder even says the same thing. Also, many places were named Bethsaida and John can easily say this to specify the one he has in mind.

For John 3, the place is not attested elsewhere. So what? Why should we think every city should be attested? There is no great mythology or reputation tied to the town. Why should it have been mentioned?

For Nazareth, again, even Bart Ehrman has dealt with this one. The main one arguing it didn’t exist is Rene Salm who has no experience in arhcaeology at all. It is mythicists who are pushing this. The case is not one seriously discussed in scholarship.

So again, we leave another mythicist article convinced mythicists don’t know how to do history. It is a conspiracy theory for atheists.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/14/2017: Clay Jones

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!

It’s something we often think about. It seems simple on the screen when we see the hero defeating the villains. We don’t worry so much about the problem. We know that our favorite superhero is going to deal with it. Even when we’re on the edge of our seats, we know that the hero will pull this off somehow.

When we look at the real world though, we wonder. Is there really a hero here? Why is all this evil being allowed in the world? It’s something we can accept in the media, but then it hits us. We have someone get abused. Someone gets raped. Murder takes place. Cancer strikes a family. A child dies in a natural disaster. Why?

If we were able to and being good people, we would stop this or do our best to stop it. God is supposed to be all-good and all-powerful. Right? If so, then it doesn’t make any sense does it? Why does God allow evil?

That’s a good question.

To discuss this question, I have decided to have on someone who has spent decades dealing with this. He has looked at evil regularly, including reading about some of the greatest evils that mankind has done in history just to understand the situation. His book is titled Why Does God Allow Evil? and his name is Clay Jones. He’ll be joining me this Saturday.

So who is he?

Clay Jones holds a doctor of ministry degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is an associate professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics Program at Biola University. Formerly, Clay hosted Contend for Truth, a nationally syndicated call-in, talk-radio program where he debated professors, radio talk show hosts, cultists, religious leaders, and representatives from animal rights, abortion rights, gay rights, and atheist organizations. Clay was the CEO of Simon Greenleaf University (now Trinity Law and Graduate Schools) and was on the pastoral staff of two large churches. Clay is the Chairman of the Board of the university apologetics ministry Ratio Christi, is a contributing writer for the Christian Research Journal and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil. You can read his blog at clayjones.net, find him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter at ClayBJones. Clay’s has authored Why Does God Allow Evil?: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions.

Dr. Jones has a great work on this as he writes with the head of an academic and the heart of a pastor. I also owe him greatly for his own helping me when I had some struggles in this area. Not only that, but his book will help you take a look at yourself and realize the problem of evil is not just something out there, but it is something within.

I hope you’ll be looking forward to the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Please consider going on ITunes and leaving a positive review of the show. Be ready next time when we talk about evil!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

My Great Gift

What is going on when treasuring takes place? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday on her blog, my wife wrote a very touching piece about me. I figure I should do the same. What we have goes both ways. It’s quite unique also because in many ways, we’re so very very different.

People who know me know that for the longest time, my great question in life is would I ever get married. When I first entered the Master’s program at Bible College, I was invited along with the other students to attend a dinner at the president’s houses. Others were told to bring their spouses. I couldn’t, so I asked if I could bring my parents, which was fine. When I got there one of the professors did ask me “Nick. How did you get through here without getting married?”

Yeah. You’re not the only one asking that question.

Then some of my friends around me started to marry. Okay. I tried to live with it, but I was often really hurting. It’s selfish, yes, but I was thinking about myself. When is it going to be my time? When I meet guys who are still wondering that, I totally get it.

Eventually, I moved to Charlotte. There I started getting in touch with several apologists and I did have a new circle of friends. Most of them weren’t married. Among the apologists I had got to meet was Gary Habermas and we emailed from time to time.

One day I was getting off of work from the Christian Research Institute and heading home. I remembered hearing Gary was going to be teaching a seminar at SES, my seminary then, on the historical Jesus. I thought I’d drop by and just say hi to him. While I’m there, he asks me if I know who Mike Licona is. I tell him I do. He had debated Bart Ehrman there and he co-wrote a book on the resurrection with Gary.

Gary tells me that he was talking with some others about Mike because he had a daughter who was going through a hard time. Frank Turek was among them and I think Alex McFarland might have been another. In the conversation, it came up that Mike’s daughter, Allie, has Aspergers. Frank said “Well, Nick Peters has Aspergers.” Gary asked me if I’d like to contact Allie and help her out.

I agreed to do this and so we emailed. I was nothing that Allie was expecting. You see, Allie was thinking apologists were all these high academic types and sharing similar interests would not be there. She was surprised. When she started talking about playing Pokemon, I was right there. I had played the games too and knew about them. We could talk about Final Fantasy as well. When she got silent one night during the conversation on AIM or Facebook, I started worrying she had done something. It might be a bit stalker like to some, but I didn’t want to take chances. I found her number on her Facebook and gave her a call. She didn’t know who it was, but it touched her when she saw how concerned I was for her.

Interestingly, she had been wanting to get back together with an ex when I came along and she just wanted me to be a friend. Besides, she saw my Facebook picture. It said nerd all over it to her. She did not want to be with a nerd, unless he was Asian.

Well, that was the plan at least.

More of the story can be found on Facebook, but let’s just say that when she told her mother we were dating, it was Labor Day. Gary and his wife Eileen were visiting the Liconas then. Eileen turned to Debbie, Mike’s wife, after Allie left and said “summer wedding.”

She was right. Within a year, we were married.

Her parents had seen us as a perfect fit, and they were right. Of course, I am nearly ten years older than Allie and normally, that would give suspicion, but they saw the character of the guy who was dating her. No matter what, I always wanted to do more and more to please Allie. Shortly after we got engaged, Debbie put up a status on Facebook about Mike building her a porch and how her husband spoils her. When I said something about her future son-in-law doing the same, she replied that Mr. Peters is the king of spoiling.

Hey. My wife’s love language is gifts. I like to get her things.

People don’t enter marriage intending to change, but they do. Both of us have changed, but I can speak firsthand about the changes with me, and people who know me have seen the change. I have a greater maturity that wasn’t there before. Am I still a tease and a prankster and everything else? Yes. At the same time, there is a deep deep commitment.

You see, I did something unusual. I trusted myself to a woman. Marriage involves the greatest trust between two human beings. To be fully intimate with your spouse means you have to be open. If you are not open, you do not get the full joy of loving and being loved. You are depriving marriage of all that it could be for you.

I found that trust was totally transforming. No earthly love has had the effect on me that Allie’s love has had. Nothing has made me strive to want to be a better man. I did this so much that I made my own Facebook group for Christian men who are married, engaged, dating, or hoping to date and marry to help us all learn how to be good husbands.

I found I was more confident in ministry as well. When Allie gives me trust and affirmation and lives it out, I am able to do most anything. There’s honestly nothing like it. I can walk with a lot more confidence in my own ministry because I have such great affirmation from her.

It’s totally transforming and I don’t understand it. I see myself as someone who is striving to be rational in all things and understanding all that I can. Still, I do not understand this love. I don’t think I ever will, but I think I will always try. I do not understand what it is about Allie that drives me crazy in such a good way. I have loved this woman so much, and I do not still understand really what it is.

In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest says at one point “I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is.” I disagree with that. Love is indeed a great mystery. It is something we grasp to understand, but I do not think we can say we have ever arrived. How could we? It is the nature of God after all.

In so many ways, I can say Allie gets me to let my guard down. Can I get hurt sometimes? Yes, but I let it down still because Allie’s love is worth it. Sure we have our disagreements and arguments, but they don’t last. We come back to our foundation every time of our love for one another. Allie is someone I don’t think I have to hide around.

One time we were in New Orleans. We had been invited to attend the Defend The Faith Conference and I gave a talk there on reaching youth. While at a table one night having dinner with other attendees, Gary Habermas was there as was Tim McGrew, who it was my great honor to meet there. In fact, Allie describes our relationship as a bromance. Someone at the table said something about B.B. Warfield going on his honeymoon and his wife getting struck by lightning and being paralyzed and he took care of her till death did them part. Gary just says “Huh. So Nicholas, would you do that if that happened to Allie?”

I wasn’t expecting to be called on so I still had some shock and then Tim said, “He absolutely would.” I was very pleased by this and I went up privately to Tim afterward and told him I wanted to thank him for the compliment.

“What compliment?”

“What you said about how I’d take care of Allie.”

“Nick. You absolutely adore Allie and everyone here can see it.”

My wife assures me I got several compliments on my intellect and apologetics ability there. Why does she assure me? Not because I’m doubting it, but because I don’t remember any of them. I remember that compliment. That one reigns supreme.

You see, the greatest compliment I can get now is to be told I’m a good husband to my wife. Anyone can really study hard and be smart and be a great apologist or thinker if they really want to be. To be a great spouse though is a lesson in virtue.

In fact, my wife has opened me up to a great spiritual side. In many ways, I’m jealous of her spiritual life. Allie does have profound spiritual experiences and gets far more excited about the love of God than I do. When God feels distant to her, it’s hard on her. She really is the deer panting for the water. I wonder then why it is that I am not like that. Perhaps it is just the way that I am wired, but I know often in a more devotional side, she does far better than I do. She is the one who remembers to pray for people and reminds me to.

This is another way we complement each other. I say I am the head and she is the heart. If you want sympathy and someone to care about what you’re going through, Allie is the person to talk to. If you want advice and to know how to deal with it, come to me.

It might sound superficial, but Allie has taught me about beauty as well. When we men are growing up and single, the human female is a mystery to us, especially if we wisely avoid pornography. What is it about that body that makes it so beautiful? Why do we find that so beautiful? I do not know why to this day, but I know that it is true. When I get to see my wife, I am reminded of what it means for something to be beautiful. If something does get me into praise, it is thinking about how beautiful my wife is. I just cannot conceive that God made something that looks that good.

It leaves me thankful. I have a woman I can kiss every day of the year. I can hold her close in an embrace. We can even have full intimacy if we want to. We sleep next to each other every night. It’s not just me in this world. It’s we. I am never truly alone. I have a companion in everything, and I think just the companion I need.

Princess. I love you deeply. Nothing I say could ever be sufficient to share your worth and value to me. If I kept going with this blog, it would be the longest ever and considering I have had blogs with over 10,000 words, that would be something. The past seven years have been amazing. I just can’t fathom what it was like beforehand and I know everyone else who knew me before has seen the change. It is a great honor when I have friends now getting married and they say they want to treat their wives like I treat you.

Love you, Princess. You are my gift.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Christian Hysteria And The Real Battle

Are we zealous in the wrong areas? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about what was going on on a well-known apologist’s page and how it was the same thing from a year ago with a meme that was entirely false. This was about Halloween. Sadly, too many Christians posting ignored multiple people asking hard questions about the authenticity of the claim and went on with either bad-mouthing the person in the meme as if he really said the claim or jumped straight into panic mode. More often, it was panic mode.

Of course, no one is going to deny that parents want to protect their children and should do so, but could the real threats be being ignored for the fake ones? In fact, for those wanting to avoid the snare of the devil, I would think that someone like the devil could certainly create a false threat in order to hide a real one, a sort of diversionary tactic. Halloween is just such an example.

Sadly, I saw people posting speaking about how this is how the antichrist is going to take over by making this stuff fun and innocent. I’m surprised I didn’t see anything this time about the Illuminati and the New World Order. Of course, we also saw more and more people saying that this is pagan and that Christmas and Easter are also pagan.

I honestly wonder what such people are going to do when they tell their children this and then they or their children see something like the claims of Zeitgeist where Christianity is said to be copied from pagan gods. If we apply the same methodology, why not?

I do want it to be known that I surely realize the occult is out there. I also realize many Christians buy into a sort of occult thinking without realizing it. My wife and I like to sometimes watch these videos where people talk about the rapture coming and such. We don’t believe in it, but it can be amusing. It’s amazing how many of these begin with “I had a dream and” or “I had an experience and”. Too many Christians read signs into everything that happens to them as if the universe is all about them, kind of mirroring the way pagans read the entrails of animals and the flights of birds and other such things.

So while acknowledging that the occult is out there and yes, children need to be ready to deal with it, I can assure you that I see no reason to think that having your child put on a costume and go door to door asking for candy means they’re being caught up in the occult. Dare I say it, but perhaps not opening your children up to imagination and wonder is getting them closer to atheism. Chesterton was the great advocate of the importance of fairyland after all.

Furthermore, I am wondering how many of you who are like this are preparing for other challenges? For instance, are you equipping your child to know how they can show that God exists, the Bible is reliable, and that Jesus rose from the dead, beyond their personal testimony? If so, is your child ready to engage with the atheism they will find on a college campus?

What about materialistic greed? Is your child thinking that they need to have every new IPhone and computer and toy out there? Is your child wanting everything they can get and not appreciating the good gifts that they have? I’m not saying never get your child gifts like this, but make sure their love for you and their happiness is not conditional on such things.

Or dare I say it, what about sexual temptation? This is something they will live with all their lives. Do your kids have more than a few verses from Paul? Do they have a whole foundation of sexual ethics that tells them what sex is and why it matters and why it should be saved for marriage? Your kid could run into someone who will want to lead them into the occult to be sure, but they are far more likely to run into someone who will want to lead them into a sexual relationship outside of marriage and without a proper foundation, they will want to be led!

If you think that sounds a bit over the top, then just do this. Go to your average man who is married or not and is a devout Christian and ask him if he wrestles with sexual temptation. It’s a real battle. Even those of us, like myself, who love our wives deeply have to face a daily battle with the flesh. Are your kids ready?

Hysteria will not convince your kids. If anything, it will lead to your worldview being mocked and ostracized. If your child is talking about candy, there’s no need to bring up the plot of the antichrist. It saddens me that we who are supposed to live the most without fear are often the most fearful of all. You would think that Jesus had not won the battle against the forces of evil. You would think that Jesus is not Lord of all, conquering daily.

By the way, if you want my opinion on Halloween, go and have fun. It’s a day for kids to relax and enjoy themselves and pretend. If you don’t have kids, don’t close your door on Halloween. Here you say you are a Christian and you shut the door on children coming to your house. Is that the Christianity you want to present? Be there, put a smile on the faces of the kids, and give out the best candy that you have.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Redemption Of The Pagan

Should we be concerned if something has a pagan origin? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s that time of year again. Halloween is going to be here in a few weeks and what’s being said about that? Pagan. Just yesterday a friend shared with me that a well-known Christian apologist is sharing a bogus meme from Anton Lavey that I wrote about last year. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence we’ve seen that the quote comes from LaVey, but oh well.

Before too long, it will be Christmas. What will people be saying about that in Christian circles? That’s right. Pagan.

You know, for people who seem to want to be wary of anything that has to do with magic, pagan is thrown around like it’s a magic word to get people to have nothing to do with whatever is in question.

A lot of people do this with the devil as well. Feeling tempted? There’s one reason. Satan! The devil is going after you! The problem with this is that it assumes unknowingly that if the devil was removed from the picture, that you would not have a sinful human nature that would be tempted. You would live your life sin-free if only the devil wasn’t constantly on your shoulder. It’s also interesting that it’s always the devil. It’s never a low-ranking demon or something like that. We practically treat the devil as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent when we do this.

Many of us know enough of our own nature. If we were absolutely convinced the devil or demons were not tempting us, we would still be tempted. If we want to know why we’re tempted to sin, the devil isn’t the problem. We are the problem. We have a sinful nature.

Let’s start talking though about this problem with paganism. One aspect of Christianity is that God did not come into this world to save sinners, although He certainly did that. He came into this world to save the world. He wanted to redeem everything. The world is His creation. He wants to save it and rule it all.

That includes every day of the calendar. That includes every culture. There is nothing in this world that God does not intend to rule. When we go into a pagan culture, we seek to redeem everything then. As the hymn says, this is our Father’s world.

In fact, if you think that you should avoid anything that has the taint of evil on it supposedly, then look in the mirror. Your origins Biblically aren’t the best. We were once slaves to sin and death reigned over us. Think you can get much better than that? We are now a new creation in Christ.

Redeeming a culture is child’s play to what it took to redeem us. It took the death of the Son of God. When we act like something is irredeemable because of its origins, then we have a hard time with ourselves. Ultimately, I don’t care what a pagan intended to do with XYZ. I care about why I do it.

Christians. Please stop living in fear. Just stop it. Christ came so that you could be victorious. There’s no need to be cowering. Don’t give the devil more power than he has. Christ defeated Him 2,000 years ago. Start living in victory today.

And once again, if you must share something, please check up on it. In fact, just now, my friend Jeff Harshbarger commented on this story. What he did was something odd. He actually sought out the source material himself. (Yeah. Bizarre thought. Who knew?) Here’s the result.

Re: Contact Form Submission from the Church of Satan Website

Administration <administration@churchofsatan.com>
To
far468@bellsouth.net
Today at 1:43 PM
No. Since Satanism is not devil worship, LaVey would not say such a thing.

On 10/8/17, 12:21 PM, “Church of Satan” <administration@churchofsatan.com> wrote:

Name: Jeff Harshbarger

Email: far468@bellsouth.net

Comments: Did Dr. LaVey actually make this statement? I’m glad that
Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one
night out of the year.

Please be living in truth people. Do that, and you have no need to fear. Yes. It’s something we all still have to work on. Check your history when making a historical claim and remember, if God can redeem you, who knows what else He can redeem.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/7/2017: Ross Clifford

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Did Jesus rise from the dead? This is the question upon which the Christian faith rests. Of course, to answer a question like this, you need evidence, and if there are a group of people that love evidence and arguing from it, it’s lawyers. So how would the resurrection stand up in a court of law? Could you make a legal case for the resurrection of Jesus?

To answer this, I have decided to bring on someone who does specialize in legal apologetics. He is someone trained in the area of law and decided to use his legal skills on the case for the resurrection of Jesus to see if it would hold up. It did, and in his book Leading Lawyers’ Case For The Resurrection, he looks at seven lawyers and one thought to be a lawyer who also made a case for the evidence surrounding the death and the resurrection of Jesus and came out believers. His name is Ross Clifford and he’ll be joining us.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Ross Clifford is Principal of Morling Theological College, Sydney.  Prior to entering the Baptist ministry he practised as a solicitor and barrister.  He was the pastor of two Sydney Baptist churches each of which grew dramatically.  He is the author of nine books including The Cross is Not Enough: Living as Witnesses to the Resurrection. He co-pioneered outreaches into Mind.Body.Spirit festivals.  He is a former President of the Baptist Union of Australia, former and current President of the NSW Council of Churches, President of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, recent Chair of the Australian Lausanne Committee, and is a Vice President of the Baptist World Alliance for 2010-2015.  In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2010 he was made a member of the Order of Australia (AM).  He is married to Beverley and they have two children.  His passions include legal crime novels, cricket and all brands of football.

What makes a legal case distinctive from a historical case? How strong is it? Could it really stand up in a court of law? After all, we supposedly have these accounts that wildly contradict and differ from one another. They are supposed to be late as the skeptics say. Isn’t that a problem?

And what about hearsay? Isn’t that all that the accounts are? If so, then how can they possibly be used in a court of law to make the claim that Jesus rose from the dead? We certainly can’t get Paul and the writers of the Gospels to take the stand and get to question them. How do we do it when all we have is pretty much ancient documents?

In looking at the legal cases provided, I found them quite fascinating and I hope you will as well. Please be watching your podcast feed for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. If you like the show also, please go on ITunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Sin in Sin City

What are we to think about mass murder in Las Vegas? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

America is still in shock over a mass murder that took place in Las Vegas earlier this week. It’s natural for us to mourn and to have some fear hanging over us, but this raises the specter of evil. There are Christians who I saw wondering how there could be a good God in charge of all of this.

That aspect is kind of surprising. The early church faced persecution of all sorts directly and did not say anything about how God isn’t good that I know of. If anything, their trust increased. Could it be part of our world in America is we’ve got so used to safety that we find it out of the ordinary when any kind of suffering comes?

I have also seen Muslims trying to say this was a Christian terrorist. There is no hard evidence I know of that shows that. The only criteria they seem to have for this is that he’s a white man and he’s not a Muslim. Color me skeptical. In fact, I’m skeptical of a lot of claims about who he was and why he did what he did until we have some hard evidence.

The evil about it is something we can talk about. How is it that someone could do something like this? All sides seem to agree that this was a great evil that took place and we just don’t understand it. Most of us have no desire to enter a hotel room and gun down a bunch of people that we don’t even know. At least, I hope a bunch of us don’t.

Yesterday I was driving and listening to my usual talk radio when I heard Trump speaking about the police officers that have been shot in this event. Now I don’t care what you think about Trump good or bad at this point, but he did say something about them. He said that many of them were good fathers and were loving husbands. I am sure he is right. Many people who died and were injured were and are good fathers and loving husbands or the appropriate terms for women who were shot.

Here’s the thing. You know who else is often a good father and a loving husband?

A serial killer.

Many times after something like this happens, neighbors are shocked. “We had no idea. He was such a good neighbor!” Many of the Nazi killers were in fact quite excellent at home in their family life. They just went to work and killed Jews instead.

It’s also easy to do what I saw done and say this is mental illness. Of course, it could be some people who do these things are mentally ill. Some people are just evil though. Blaming it all on mental illness sadly makes the entire community of people with mental illness potential time bombs and could ignore the real problem.

We all know in reality that it’s not the case that we live in a brave new world where if we just give people all the right medication, then we can banish evil from our midst. For most of us, we know this because we can look in the mirror. We can see the reality of evil before us.

One example of this is the Milgram Experiment. Two people would come in. One would be the teacher and the other the learner. The teacher would have to punish the learner for errors that were made. The learner would be hooked up to an electrical system that would supply shocks. An authority figure would tell the teacher to shock the learner and would keep telling the teacher to up the voltage. Some of these would be lethal voltages. The teacher would do this anyway and watch the learner feel the shock every time.

Except the learner wasn’t. The learner was a plant and an actor who was supposed to act shocked every time. The point of the experiment was that good people would go all the way up because an authority figure told them to do so. I seriously doubt that it’s the case that only people with mental illness did so.

So what’s it going to take to end these kinds of events? It’s not going to be more laws. Criminals already disobey laws and don’t care about them. It’s going to have to be a commitment to return to the goodness of virtue. We live so much by our feelings today that we don’t pay attention to virtue. More of the emphasis is helping us to feel good about ourselves instead of to be good. Much of what we talk about is dealing with negative feelings we have instead of negative vices that we have.

It will involve an education, but a moral education. There’s an old saying that if you catch a man stealing parts from a railroad and send him to college to be educated, at the end of his education, he will steal the whole railroad. If a person has an evil heart, knowledge devoid of moral substance will just enable him to be more evil.

And dare I say it, but maybe, just maybe, we need the Gospel. Maybe we need the good news of humans being in the image of God and this being the world that God is reclaiming for His own. Maybe we need Christians to really be Christians and really be the salt and light they’re supposed to be. Radical thought I’m sure, but maybe that is what we need.

Evil is indeed in our world, and one of the first places we need to start to look for it is within. It’s easy to want to go and fix our neighbor. It’s harder to know we need to go and get our own problems taken care of. While I am not going and shooting up a concert from a hotel room, am I in my own way making the world worse or better morally? Am I loving my neighbor as myself truly and loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? How can I improve in those two commands?

Pray for those involved in the shooting and be doing what you can to deal with evil where you find it, especially in your own heart.

In Christ,
Nick Peters