Book Plunge: The Triumph Of Christianity

What do I think of Bart Ehrman’s latest published by Simon and Schuster? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I first heard about The Triumph of Christianity coming out, I was quite excited. The survival and eventual triumph of Christianity is something I consider to be a great argument for the truth of Christianity, especially since Christianity did not spread through force and was spread in a society that would want to eliminate it and that it was a very shameful faith. I was quite looking forward to seeing if Ehrman would either add to that thesis or challenge it.

This book sadly was disappointing in that regard. As I go through, I don’t find many clear answers. I do thankfully find that Constantine is not the reason the faith succeeded, although he might have made it’s eventual triumph faster. Sadly, Ehrman doesn’t seem to have much of an idea why it did. You get a basic answer of people talked to one another and each time someone became a Christian, paganism lost. Pagans would still be pagans if they worshiped a different god. They wouldn’t be if they worshiped Christ.

Ehrman also has the positive of talking about the things that Christianity has done. The Roman Empire at the time of Jesus was one marked by dominance. Slavery was unquestioned. Men had to be the leaders. War and conquest seemed natural. (p. 5)

Christianity changed that. We all think it’s natural to want to care for the sick and the poor. That’s because of Christianity. Without Christianity, we might never have had the realities of health care that we have today. Ehrman says we have simply assumed that these are human values, but they’re not. (p. 6)

This I can support definitely. So many times when atheists argue today, they point to the claim that the Bible condones slavery supposedly. It is taken for granted that everyone knows that this is wrong because we’re all humans. Go back to the Roman Empire in the time of Jesus and it would more likely be the opposite. You would be the oddball not for approving slavery but for condemning it.

One of the first places Ehrman goes to is talking about Constantine. I find this quite odd seeing as Constantine is about 300 years later. It’s important to get to, but why go there so quickly? I want to know how Christianity even got to that point.

Ehrman does have some interesting points here. He is right that pagans were fine with you worshiping another god provided you were not excluding others with that. The Christians would not have really been a problem had Jesus been presented as one other deity in the pantheon to be worshiped. That is not what the Christians did. The Christians said God had revealed Himself in Jesus and that was the only way to worship Him. All other gods were false gods.

One author who has brought this out well is Larry Hurtado in his book Destroyer of the Gods. One would hope that Ehrman’s not interacting with that book is because it came out after the manuscript was done, but it’s hard to say since Ehrman can be good at giving the sound of one hand clapping and not interacting with the best of his critics.

Hurtado points out that by a gentile becoming a Christian, he was putting himself on the outs socially. It could be compared to someone leaving a cult today, and I mean a bona fide cult. If you have left the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Mormons, that would be such an example. A Gentile would go into the home of a friend and all of a sudden, he couldn’t honor the household gods. He couldn’t go to the meetings of the gods at work. He was on the outs with his society entirely. He was risking everything.

A Jew could be given a free pass because the Jewish beliefs were ancient and thus, they were seen as something that could have been a valid path to God. For the ancients, those that came before them were even closer to the gods and knew how to get there. A religious idea that was new was viewed with suspicion. Hence, one of the early apologetic works was called “Neither New Nor Strange.”

A great work on this is Robert Louis Wilkens’s The Christians as the Romans Saw Them (Yet another work that Ehrman never interacts with). One who became a Christian was embracing a religion that was shameful. Your entire reputation and even identity was being put on the line in the Roman world by becoming a Christian.

Speaking of being a shameful religion, this is something Ehrman also never interacts with. He never looks at how the ancient world was a world of honor and shame. This permeated everything. Having honor in the ancient world meant more to them than paying our bills means to us. You won’t get this reality one iota from Ehrman’s book. It never enters the equation when it should be central to the equation. This is a glaring problem to me in the book.

To get back to Constantine, Ehrman does admit that Constantine wasn’t a perfect Christian, but he was at least a Christian. He did take his conversion seriously. Much of this material will be troublesome to people who are of the mythicist variety and think that Constantine is the only reason Christianity survived. (Again, I still want to know how the religion survived until Constantine.) Also, speaking of sources never interacted with, there is no mention of Peter Leithart’s Defending Constantine in all of this.

Ehrman then goes back to Paul, who I think would have been a much better start for the book, and in here actually says that in the life of Jesus some people did believe He was the Messiah. I am quite thankful to see this said from Ehrman. It’s also stated that the resurrection is what confirmed that Jesus was the Messiah. (p. 48)

It’s important to note how that works. Jesus isn’t the Messiah because God raised Him from the dead. God raised Him from the dead because He is the Messiah. The resurrection confirmed what Jesus had already demonstrated with His life and teachings.

Ehrman also will irritate the mythicist crowd by pointing out that while Paul never mentions the message he gave to potential Christians in his letters, that’s because he doesn’t need to. That message was given in person. The letters were to deal with other matters.

Something else interesting about Ehrman’s thesis, and yet confusing from his perspective, is that Christianity spread because of the belief in real miracles. Ehrman even admits that Paul says at times in his letters, such as in Romans 15, and I would add in 2 Cor., that he did miracles himself before his audience. Something important about this is that it’s easy to make a claim like that to people who already believe you’re the apostle to the Gentiles. Try saying that to the church in 2 Corinthians who is questioning your status because of the super-apostles. Paul is trying to get his opponents to remember what was done. You don’t point to what your opponents will remember unless you’re sure they will remember it and not dispute it.

But Ehrman doesn’t believe in miracles! That’s right, but he does say people did believe they had seen miracles or that the stories were reliable about miracles somehow. He thinks most often it happened because the people heard about miracles.

As a Christian, I do believe miracles happened, but Ehrman never interacts with skeptical ideas at the time. What about Lucian who seemed to make a habit of exposing miracles? Ehrman seems to take it for granted that this was an age that believed in miracles very easily. Maybe it was, but I’m not so sure, and that is something that Ehrman should argue. Still, there’s something odd about someone who doesn’t believe in miracles arguing that belief in miracles was the reason that Christianity gained converts.

Absent is one other possible explanation. Maybe people investigated the claims and decided Jesus rose from the dead. How would this happen? A group of people or one high honor wealthy person would send an investigator or a number of investigators to Jerusalem and the surrounding area. These people would talk to eyewitnesses and gather facts and report them back. Note that someone with high honor would have the most to lose by joining Christianity and so they would want to make sure the facts were right. There had to be such people since 1 Cor. 1 says that not many were in an honorable position, which means some were. Also, the church had to have some financial backing for the extensive letter writing and Gospel writing that went on. Those were not cheap.

Ehrman never seems to consider this idea. For him, word of mouth is sufficient, but that is a lacking idea. People would join a movement without checking where they would put their entire identity on the line by identifying with a crucified man? I don’t think Ehrman really understands the social consequences of becoming a Christian in that world.

On a positive note on the other hand, Ehrman does say that Paul did not invent Christianity nor did he invent the idea that the death and resurrection of Jesus brought salvation. (p. 71) This is not original to Paul as it was part of the package he came to believe. Paul had to have known what he was persecuting and how to recognize a Christian.

Ehrman also will not be a friend to the mythicist crowd when he says Mithraism could not have overtaken the empire. (p. 81) Mithraism was not exclusive like Christianity was. Exclusivism made it risky to become a Christian.

Ehrman is also right that people did not believe in life after death. What is not right about this is that that would have made Christianity a plus. For many, it would be like returning to a prison again. The body was something that you wanted to escape. A spiritual resurrection would have been much easier to accept. Teaching a resurrection to a body of flesh would not have been.

For this, Ehrman often thinks that Heaven and Hell were great motivators, but why should this be? If you don’t believe the person who makes the threat, why take the threat seriously? People speaking about hell would have likely been seen as wild-eyed fanatics.

Ehrman is also right about how the Romans were generally tolerant, but that’s because other religions weren’t stepping on any toes. Saying you shouldn’t worship the gods of the state or worship the emperor was going against that. Another movement Ehrman says was attacked by Rome was the Bacchanalia movement due to licentious practices. Christianity would have been seen as treasonous due to their being no separation of church and state. To deny the Roman gods was to deny Rome itself and a Gentile could not get away with that because we all know Gentiles are not Jews.

Ehrman does have his statement about other Christianities being around, but there is no reason to think any of them were close to dominating. Ehrman regularly does this kind of thing sadly. He will speak of a church that used the Gospel of Peter, but it was only for a short time and it was one particular area. There is nothing about how Egypt was even the most heterodox area and yet when we look at what we find there, orthodox manuscripts of the Bible outweigh the heretical works greatly. This is in Charles Hill’s Who Chose The Gospels? (Another work that there is no interaction with)

On p. 143, Ehrman does say that many people believe in miracles today not because they have seen them, but because they’ve heard about them, and eventually they just believe that they are possible and then true. Why should we think that our society will mirror the ancient one? People would risk everything again just because they hard a story and didn’t bother to check it? It looks like Ehrman hopes his readers are just as gullible as he thinks the ancients were.

On p. 181, in writing about 1 Peter, Ehrman does say they were facing opposition for their faith, but we don’t know what it was. It wasn’t an empire wide persecution. What could it have been? It never enters Ehrman’s mind apparently that it was shaming from their society. This is again the glaring blind spot in the book. Ehrman does not interact with what the culture was truly like.

When we get to the end of the book, we find Ehrman going on a different track, and one that is very mistaken. This is talking about intolerance, and this largely in the context of later Christian emperors opposing paganism. Ehrman says that intolerance is “the principled rejection of other beliefs and practices as wrong, dangerous, or both.” p. 256.

It doesn’t take much thinking to see the problem here. By this definition, anyone who thinks they are right in anything is automatically intolerant because all contrary beliefs have to be false. If Ehrman doesn’t even think that what he is presenting in a book is right, why should I bother listening to him? Apparently, Ehrman thinks it’s intolerant for Christians to think they are right. Is Ehrman intolerant then if he goes out and argues for his case as he does in debates and tells his opponents why he thinks they are not right?

He also has a section on the death of Hypatia which he says was at the hands of a Christian mob. The reality is despite what he thinks, we are not most fully informed. Every side tries to claim Hypatia and use her as a weapon against the other. A good source on her is here.

Oh. All this intolerance? It started with Jesus Himself. Jesus was not tolerate of the beliefs of the Pharisees. (How dare Jesus disagree! Rabbis never ever did that with each other!) Ehrman plays the card again about the Jews being addressed in John 8, not realizing that doesn’t mean all Jews of all time but would refer to a specific group of people. A good look at that can be found here. It’s interesting that Jesus and Paul are the intolerant ones, when they were the ones being put to death by their opponents.

Ehrman also says Paul was intolerant with issuing a divine curse on anyone who preaches a different Gospel. Yes. Paul does that. The stakes are high for him. Note that he never says though that he is applying the curse himself or to go out and kill the people of a different persuasion.

Ehrman on p. 285 says that tolerance was encouraged and freedom of religion was embraced. This tolerance was lost with the triumph of Christianity. Note that Ehrman says this in a country founded on Christian principles where he’s allowed to freely write as an agnostic and publish books arguing against Christianity. Yes. That is truly an intolerant society.

Note also pagans reveled in diversity to a point. There was no reveling in the new Christian movement at all. The Christians did not have the freedom to worship. Now do I think it is wrong when Christians get the power to use it to force Christianity on the populace. Still, it is quite bizarre to say the pagans were tolerant. It’s easy to be tolerant when those who disagree with you only disagree on what you consider a minor point and aren’t a threat at all. At least Ehrman acknowledges again the positives he stated at the beginning such as caring for the poor and the sick, but this tirade on intolerance is not really fitting and Ehrman always says on the one hand he wants to be neutral as a historian, but when he says something like this, he is hardly neutral.

In the end, I find this book just lacking. It’s almost like Ehrman is writing a book just to write a book and get something out there. You can see him picking out a few favorite source repeatedly and relying on them. I know Christianity triumphed and I have some good ideas why, but I don’t see why Ehrman thinks it did.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Chapter 15

Has evolution dumbed us down? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s been awhile since we’ve looked at the work of Glenton Jelbert and his book Evidence Considered. We’re going to return today with looking at his chapter in reply to Nancy Pearcey. The theme is that evolution dumbs us down. Pearcey argues that Darwinism eventually leads to pragmatism and postmodernism since all our ideas are products of evolution. This is reminiscent of Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism. I have no wish to defend or critique the argument here.

Let’s get to what I do disagree with. Jelbert says that Pearcey gets wrong what atheism is. Atheism is not saying that there is no God. It is saying that a person does not believe there is a god. He goes on to say that this is important because it determines the burden of proof. One supposedly can’t prove that there is no God, just like you can’t prove there is no tooth fairy.

Well, these people disagree:

“Atheism is the position that affirms the non-existence of God. It proposes positive disbelief rather than mere suspension of belief.”

William Rowe The Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy p.62

“Atheism, as presented in this book, is a definite doctrine, and defending it requires one to engage with religious ideas. An atheist is one who denies the existence of a personal, transcendent creator of the universe, rather than one who simply lives life without reference to such a being.”

Robin Le Poidevin Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion p.xvii

Ultimately, I find this a dodge. The atheist is just saying that he doesn’t believe and the burden is automatically on the theist and if the theist doesn’t prove his claim sufficiently, the atheist is justified. Would the same be said to a person who is leaning towards a flat Earth and says “I’m not saying the world is flat. I’m just saying I don’t find sufficient reason to believe that it’s round.”? Would the same be said to the person who is arguing against evolution? Jelbert’s position should be considered more agnosticism, but then the burden needs to be placed on the atheist and the theist both. Whoever makes a claim has a burden.

It’s also a problem because let’s suppose that the claim “God exists” is true. In this case, theism is true, being the proposition that “God exists” is an accurate description of reality. On the other hand, let’s suppose that there are still atheists who say they lack God belief. In this universe, Theism could be true, in that God exists, and atheism could be true, in that people still lack God belief. This is something nonsensical though since atheism and theism are contradictories and contradictories cannot be be true. Theism is not making a statement about a subjective belief but about reality. If that is so, the denial of that statement is not making a statement about subjective belief, but reality.

And also, yes, God can hypothetically be disproven. One could show a necessary contradiction in the nature of God. That’s the way we disprove the idea of a square circle. That’s why there are such things also as the problem of evil that if they don’t disprove God, they at least try to show that God is highly unlikely.

Jelbert goes on to say that the big revolution of science was the freedom to say you don’t know something. Thus, you can try to find it out empirically. At this, one has to wonder if Jelbert has done any real looking into the medieval period. Empirical investigation was nothing new. It was being done. Scientists were trying to find natural explanations for most everything.

Jelbert then says that until God presents Himself for experimentation, we have no other recourse than naturalism, but why should I think that? This isn’t a scientific explanation but a theological one. If there is a God, then He would present Himself for scientific experimentation to us. Why should anyone think that?

“Doesn’t God want us to know He exists?” Why? What if God’s stance is sufficient evidence has already been given? What if He wants people to come to Him who want to know Him and not just treat Him like an object of trivia? What if He’s looking for people who are disciples?

But Jelbert has an example of this! Prayer experiments! Prayer experiments have not found prayer to be effective. Somehow, theists always have an excuse for God’s indolence!

Indolence?

That’s an odd way of putting it. The word refers to laziness or sloth. I’m sorry. We performed an experiment and God was obligated to play along? God is not like a machine where if you push A, B happens. There are no guarantees. Any married man should understand this. What your wife will like one time, she could find just annoying the next time.

Besides that, there are always too many variables. How do you know no one else is praying for a person in an experiment? How is the faith of each person involved in praying for a sick person? There is too much we don’t know, and from what we don’t know, we’re able to somehow make great leaps in logic. I’ve never been impressed by the idea of prayer experiments and having those tested. (Not to mention, there’s this little thing in the Bible about not putting God to the test.)

Pearcey goes on to say that each worldview gives an account of origins. Jelbert says that this is not correct. Scientists are fine with saying they don’t know and do not have undue concern for the origins of the universe. This must be news to Lawrence Krauss and Stephen Hawking. He also says theists had ages to preach their truth with fervor only to adjust their position because of science. With this, Jelbert is perpetuating the myth of the warfare between science and religion. Yes. The conflict hypothesis is a great myth. It is recommended that Jelbert look at resources like Newton’s Apple And Other Myths About Science.

Pearcey also says that morality is always derivative from one’s worldview. Jelbert says this seems to contradict chapter 2 where absolute morality could demonstrate that there is a God. Pearcey is, however, right. What one believes about morality involves their whole worldview. Also, I don’t think Copan is saying morality proves that there is a God, but rather it gives strong evidence and he thinks God is the best explanation.

In closing, I have to say that yes, this isn’t meant as a proof of God, but a part of a cumulative case. I do agree that if the science is that evolution is true, we have to accept that and not just look to the consequences, but i think many times in his response Jelbert has made a number of philosophical and historical errors. Largely, having so many chapters endorsing the conflict hypothesis doesn’t really help. (And in all fairness, scientific apologetics doesn’t really impress me anyway.)

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Walking Through Twilight

What do I think of Doug Groothuis’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This book is a sad book. It is a tragic book to read. It is a book that you should read, but it is not a book you will read because you enjoy reading it. If you do enjoy reading it, I think there is something wrong with you. There are some cute moments throughout you might smile at, but the tone throughout is very somber and depressing.

As it should be.

Groothuis’s book is an honest look at what happens when a Christian philosopher who is an apologist has a wife who has been a companion in every way throughout his marriage start to go through dementia. What happens when she can’t read anymore or use a phone anymore or do basic things? What happens when you know the person is going to get worse and worse until they eventually die from the disease? What happens when you go from being a husband to being a caregiver?

The book is entirely honest, which is what makes it so hard. Groothuis says some of the things that many of us going through suffering think but hesitate to say. Consider his talk about Misotheism. This is the idea that one knows that God exists and holds many orthodox beliefs about Him, but hates Him.

There are many times one can meet atheists who say people are Christians because it makes us feel really good about ourselves. I do not relate to those comments, but I think here we have the opposite. One wonders if at times Groothuis might wish he didn’t have the apologetics and philosophical knowledge that he has. Sure, God provides a great hope in times of suffering, but sometimes He does seem cruel.

A reader would understandably think of the idea of C.S. Lewis. Lewis wrote about how his great fear in suffering wasn’t that God didn’t exist. It was that God did exist and that this is what He is really like. The mask has come off. God has claimed to be a good God of love, but in the end, look at the suffering He allows His servants to go through!

Groothuis writes from that same perspective. He finds great comfort in the laments in the Bible and especially in the book of Ecclesiastes. He looks back longingly to happier times with his wife, Becky, and thinks that in the resurrection, things will be different, but for now, they are bad and they are not going to get better.

Groothuis won’t go into a prolonged argument as to why God allows evil. That doesn’t matter at this point and when one is suffering, it is actually rather hollow. Instead, Groothuis will just describe the suffering and point to passages of Scripture that give him hope. There is some light apologetics mixed in from time to time, but most of what we see is a man baring his soul to the world.

Some things I understood from my own experience. Groothuis talks about visiting his wife in a psychiatric hospital and wanting to kill a man who was talking too loudly on the phone. I know when my own wife has been hurt by others that I have had that kind of rage built up inside of me. I also have been there when my wife has had to be hospitalized and staying by her side. When he describes Becky being in a place where people feel like inmates and the prisoners are trying to escape, I understand it.

Groothuis tells about at times living in fear worried about what Becky would do. Normally in the past, her approach would have brought joy, but now it brings pain. What is it that is wrong? He admits that at times he gets frustrated and this must be a pain to live with as well. Perhaps at times he wants to get angry with her, but what would that do? She cannot help the way she is definitely. Then, one deals with the guilt of that afterward.

It’s hard to imagine that in all of this, he still goes out there wanting to defend Christianity. This is what it means to truly trust in Christ. It means that even when everything seems against you, you are still obeying. Lewis talked about a Christian who looked at the world that seemed to have no God there, who looks up to Heaven in response and asks why God is silent, and yet obeys anyway. These are the most dangerous Christians in the world to those on the side of evil because their Christianity is not controlled by momentary circumstances.

Ultimately, that is also the good news. Becky’s condition could last a few years, but in light of eternity, it is a momentary circumstance. It does not seem like it when one is in it, but that is what it really is.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean that we who are on the outside need to give stale sayings of peace that are meant to soothe. They don’t. Too often I think it’s like we think we’re on some TV show and we’ll say just the right magic words and the person will suddenly have an epiphany and feel better about everything. Real life isn’t like that. Real life isn’t scripted and the people we encounter are not actors acting in pain. They are real people in real pain.

It can be easier for those of us on the outside to diminish pain. For instance, people who know me very well know that I am extremely hydrophobic. It is a wonder I was able to get baptized by full immersion since I am terrified of going underwater. My own wife can get frustrated with me in the swimming pool at times, yet she knows that this is a real pain. This is an honest phobia. The last thing you need to tell me is that there’s really nothing to be afraid of. Even if you think it’s true and even if it is true, it doesn’t change the pain.

What is better is to come alongside of those who are suffering. Suffer with them if possible. Don’t just give words. Words can be good, but sometimes, they’re cheap. Of course, if all you can do is give a phone call or something, at least do that, but if possible, come over. Think of what you could do. Help clean the house. Bring over a meal. Get a gift card for them. Sometimes, just listening itself is enough.

We should all be praying for Dr. Groothuis in his time. His book is a poignant look at suffering. It is not an enjoyable book. It is a sad book. It is also a needed book. We need to read this to understand suffering from the inside. It’s easy to talk about the problem of evil when you’re an academic in a classroom and life is going well. It’s harder when you know the arguments, but you feel something else entirely as you’re going through the problem right there.

Get this book and read it and then be prepared to enter into suffering. Do what you can to help your fellow man out. Remember that people you meet are all either going through suffering, have come out of it, or are about to go into it. In each life a little rain must fall, but we can make the most of it if we live out what we believe are already principles of Christian living.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: The Path of Intimacy

What do I think of Scott Means’s book published by HMM Resources, LLC? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is a short book. You could conceivably read it in an evening. When the lights went out at a recent Super Bowl party, since I don’t care about the game except for the commercials, I spent a lot of time on my Kindle going through this book. Like I said, it is short, but short does not mean that it does not contain valid information. This is actually a very helpful book.

Looking at my notes, I find I have several notes which means there were several points I wanted to mention. There is no way I could mention all of them. The basis of the book is that every couple really wants intimacy. Now we have to be careful about that term. If we use it wrongly, a lot of people can misunderstand it. Guys, for instance, don’t often think as much in terms of emotions. They still want intimacy and it’s more than sex. They want to be wanted and desired by their wives and know that their wives see them as the man. Wives often want a place that is safe and secure and to be loved for who they are.

Means teaches us that we are all on the path to intimacy or separation every day by the actions that we do. Naturally, no one is going to bat 1,000 every day. Still, we should be on the watch for how we treat one another. Are we accepting or rejecting one another? Is it possible that many marriages consist of just excellent roommates?

The reality is the drift takes place naturally if we don’t do enough to sustain the relationship. If your husband seems to get angrier a whole lot easier and be more impatient for it, there’s a reason for it and you might need to look back at what you’re doing. If your wife is withdrawing from you and not wanting sexual intimacy as much, there’s a reason for it and you might need to look at yourself.

All of us should be doing that anyway, but these things don’t just happen out of nowhere. They come for a reason and sometimes, it’s the little things that we have been doing. A woman can reject her husband in ways that she might not even recognize. A husband can do the same with his wife. These are often called bids where the other person wants to know how they rank to the other and many times, the answer is “Not much.” Not that that’s intentionally said, but that is what happens.

Means tells us that intimacy is to be fully and completely loved. You are also to do this without each of you losing who you really are. The man is still to be fully a man. The woman is fully a woman. It is their differences that make them a good combination.

Intimacy when done right is what keeps us from being excellent roommates. Intimacy in marriage makes it unique from every other relationship you have. Marriage is not meant to be a so-so relationship where you just go through motions. It’s meant to be one of joy where the two of you are happy with each other and delight in each other.

Means tells us that we will have intimacy to the degree we’re willing to be transparent and vulnerable. Can we really share who we are? Sex is the ultimate physical expression of this as two people being naked and intimate don’t have much more that they can share with one another physically. It would be a mistake to limit it to that. You can have all the passion you want in the bedroom, but still not have total intimacy. Intimacy includes every aspect of your life. It is physical, emotional, sexual, and yes, spiritual.

Shame is often the barrier to this. When we have shame, we hide part of ourselves from the other. Shame is a blocker to your spouse’s love and thus the enemy of intimacy. By all means, you are not perfect, but a loving spouse can love you and accept you even in your imperfection. Grace is the solution to this. Grace is a key to intimacy.

Which means guys, as Means says, grace is the love that you have to show if you really want that wife of yours to ‘get naked’ with you. It will be hard for her to bare her body to you if she doesn’t think she can trust you with what’s in her soul. A lot of guys want that passionate sexual relationship, but they don’t want to put forward the work to have it.

That also means spouses need to give each other the benefit of the doubt. What they do, they do out of love. A man hates to be nagged, but maybe sometimes he should try to see it as his wife wanting to love him so he can be the best he can be. A wife will often complain that sex is all her husband thinks about, but maybe she should see that that is how he best experiences love.

For the women with that, Means also wants you to know that sex is for you. Many a woman has been told that she should just act like she enjoys it and that it’s really something for the men. Women who think like that are cheating themselves and denying themselves a joy that is rightfully theirs. They are denying themselves the joy of their husband’s full love which is something that will also build him up and dare I say it, but the more a woman participates in sex with her husband, the more she will desire it.

Too many spouses make the move of withholding love in some way until their spouse changes. Now there are some rare exceptions I think this is justified. If your husband is watching pornography, then I can understand saying no to sex until he starts working on that problem. Most of us aren’t talking about those. We’re talking about withholding as a form of vengeance. Men can do this too. Not necessarily with sex, but often through other things their wives love. (Like I’m going to help you out around the house!) Both persons should seek to outgive the other. If the other person isn’t doing what they should be doing, that’s on them and for them to work out with God. You are not their Holy Spirit.

Doing this will also mean knowing how your spouse wishes to be loved. My wife’s love language is gifts. She often thus wants to buy me something as an expression of her love. It’s nice, but it doesn’t mean the same to me as when I buy her a gift. Meanwhile, my love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. If my wife wants to make me feel loved, a little touch can often be all that it takes to change my mood. Don’t love how you want to be loved. Love how they want it.

Also, don’t keep score. It makes it seem like you two are working on a contract instead of a covenant. I will do X when you’ve done Y. You should do this for me. You owe it after all that I’ve done for you!

Instead, we should just be striving to be the best spouse we can be. We can’t change our spouse. We can influence them and we will, but we should always be working on ourselves. How can we be better for that person we’ve promised our lives too? Is there any other person we should work on the relationship with more?

If any competition should take place aside from friendly competition if both of them like to play games, it’s the competition to outdo one another. If your husband wins, you win. If your wife wins, you win. Take joy in what brings them joy, provided it is something that is truly good for them. A wife should not take joy in her husband’s porn.

Try to view things also as privileges. You get the chance to serve one another. You get the chance to love one another. Love is not meant to be a duty. It is meant to be a privilege.

Keep in mind that I have highlighted just some of the points in this wonderful little book. I really recommend married couples get it and go through it together if possible. This is a short read again, but it will be a read that you benefit from.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: A Charlie Brown Religion

What do I think of Stephen J. Lind’s book published by the University of Mississippi Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As far back as I can remember, Peanuts has been a part of my life. As a small child, my sister had given me a Snoopy stuffed animal and I slept with that for many a night. The library was within walking distance of my home and I would often go down there and pick up the Peanuts books and read through them repeatedly. My Dad had his old collection of Peanuts books and they were passed on to me and I read them repeatedly. He and I can still regularly talk about various strips.

This isn’t even counting the animated specials. How many times did we watch A Charlie Brown Christmas together? For many years, this has been a family tradition. It’s amazing that Linus’s speech towards the end was so amazing for its time and growing up, I didn’t realize all the boundaries that Linus was breaking with that speech. There is hardly a more touching Christmas special than that one.

Those who read Schulz regularly also know about religion in the comic strips and particularly Christianity. Questions often arise about Charles Schulz. Was he a fundamentalist? Was he an atheist? I wanted to know and I went looking for a book. I came across this one in my search, but not knowing for sure, I checked the endorsements. When I saw endorsements from Schulz’s children, I knew this was the right one.

Lind takes on a tour of Schulz’s (Or Sparky’s) life growing up and how he came to know Christ at a Church of God. Schulz was a man very committed to the Scriptures and a number of times when he met someone famous, one of the first things he would do is ask them about their opinion of Jesus Christ. He had several commentaries and such and would read them trying to study the Bible. There is no reason to doubt his conversion to Christianity was a real one and there is no evidence that he ever retracted his faith.

This is not to say that his faith didn’t change. It did. Sparky held a number of positions that many of us would consider liberal. For instance, Sparky’s daughter Amy wound up joining the Mormon church and while Sparky thought Mormonism was a great hoax, he didn’t deny that his daughter was out there supporting the kingdom of God. It could also be asked if Sparky really held to Christian exclusivity. It might have just been that Sparky liked to discuss the Scriptures, but he didn’t want to debate them.

Sure, there are times Sparky described himself as a secular humanist, but odds are he didn’t really realize what that meant. He wanted to avoid saying Christian because people thought of denominations and such when he said that. What he had in mind was not a denial of God or Christianity, but an emphasis on the living out of Christian claims in caring for the poor and loving your fellow man and such.

As I said earlier with the Christmas special, Sparky was willing to push the envelope. He fought hard to get Linus’s speech into his special. A lot of people were backing off because you just didn’t talk about religion like that on TV, but Sparky had said to his team that if we don’t say this, who will. It was kept in and it made a different. Scores of letters came in from fans who praised the report and Coca-Cola who sponsored the special certainly benefited from it.

Sparky’s comic strips took a subject one was not supposed to talk about, and talked about it. Very rarely was there any direct preaching in the strip if ever. Instead, it was more meant to get people thinking about the topic. This could include even ideas like The Great Pumpkin or a butterfly landing on Peppermint Patty’s nose only to be told to her later by Marice that it turned into an angel and flew away while she was sleeping.

Sparky’s kids in the comic were children like no other. They were often engaged in deep conversations for their age. Linus was a great theologian walking around his town, and yet the one who always sucked his thumb and had a security blanket with him constantly. They were kids asking the questions of adults, but often they were still just being kids.

Sparky also wasn’t always a saint with his life. If one reads the book, they will find that he made many mistakes along the way, some of them very disappointing. As a parent, he was also quite absent. He loved his children, but he rarely talked with them about religion. They saw him reading his Bible, but discussion didn’t seem to be commonplace.

It has been a little over eighteen years since Sparky died. As I would go through the book, I would find myself from time to time going to the internet and looking at the last strip. In all honesty, I get emotional seeing it and have great sorrow thinking about what a gift Sparky was to the world. It seems almost like a divine plan that when that strip hit the paper announcing that Sparky was done drawing new comic strips and no one else would take over drawing comic strips, that Sparky had passed away in his his sleep the night before after losing a battle with colon cancer.

Sparky was willing to cross that envelope and many people might sadly never hear of the great apologists of the faith today, but perhaps many will be thinking more seriously about religion because they knew Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, and so many others. These kids are all easily recognizable and household names as are terms now like “security blanket” and “good grief” and others. Sparky left us a legacy and a challenge to go forward and spread the message of the Kingdom. We could ask the question about spreading it that Sparky said when asked about Linus’s speech in the Christmas special.

“If we don’t, who will?”

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Battle for the Bible

What do I think of Harold Lindsell’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

While this book is about 40 years old, it still has an impact today. Many inerrantists point to it to see the dangers of denying inerrancy. While I do see myself as an inerrantist, I do not hold the position dogmatically. I certainly don’t put all my eggs in that basket. If I am wrong on inerrancy, then I am wrong. It does not change Christianity.

The sad fact is that many inerrantists seeking to defend inerrancy are actually damaging inerrancy. Lindsell says in the book that he does not know of anyone abandoning their faith over inerrancy nor anyone who says that if there is one error in the Bible, we can’t trust any of it. Perhaps this was true in his day, but it no longer is. I see comments like this regularly from atheists. I meet many who think that if they refute inerrancy, they refute Christianity. Take David McAfee’s Disproving Christianity as an example. The whole book for the most part is just listing Bible contradictions as if this does the job. The resurrection of Jesus is nowhere dealt with.

This is not to say that you should not be an inerrantist. It’s to say that you need to have all your beliefs lined up properly so you know the foundation. Many would seem to want to argue that the Bible is inerrant and therefore Jesus rose from the dead. I would prefer to start with the foundation being that Jesus rose from the dead and then try to argue from His case if anything that the Bible is inerrant. The case won’t be reached with deductive certainty, but I find it a lot stronger.

Lindsell in the book goes through much of the history. This could be all valid. I do not know nor am I concerned about that. Lindsell does want to say that when one denies inerrancy, the other pillars of the faith come tumbling down. Unfortunately, it looks like future generations will have to establish that. Do some walk away? Yes. However, some can hold to inerrancy and still deny essentials of the faith. Jehovah’s Witnesses come to mind as an example. Do we think every heretic of the past was denying inerrancy?

There are times statements will show up in the book as if they are awful, and yet I want to see the greater context. Lindsell also seems to combine dispensationalism and/or futurism with inerrancy, which I find to be a problematic position and one reason I have a problem with ICBI as I see the deck stacked there in favor of dispensationalism.

There is also just the whole problem about replying to higher Biblical criticism and scholarship. If we can’t answer it, then maybe instead of just buckling our heels together and saying the text is inerrant, we need to do our own research. It’s almost as if people like Lindsell don’t think the Bible really can stand up to this scrutiny so we need to say that it’s inerrant. That won’t answer the questions. Hard questions need to be answered.

If we really believe the Bible, then we need to see that you can apply to it the same tests you’d apply to any other ancient document and see if it upholds. If inerrancy cannot stand up to scrutiny, then ditch it. Of course, I say this knowing that just because an immediate answer isn’t present doesn’t mean it never will be, but it would be fair to say of a claimed contradiction, “This is a tough problem and I guess we have to do more research.”

The problem for our age today is inerrancy has become a code word, a shibboleth of sorts that must be adhered to or else here come out the hounds of heresy. At the same time, many young people have married their faith to inerrancy. If there is one contradiction in the Bible, then throw it out. The same has happened with young-earth creationism. This isn’t to say that either of those positions is false, but it is to say we need to see what Christianity really relies on.

Also, Lindsell does sad at times dealing with the contradiction claims. Some of them are quite simplistic and they don’t require much, but the really problematic one is about how many times Peter denies Jesus before the cock crows. In the end, Lindsell has Peter denying Jesus six times. Fanciful interpretations like this do no service to inerrancy.

In conclusion, Lindsell does get a battle starting, but could this battle have far more casualties than intended? Instead of pointing to the dangers one sees if a position is denied, how about going more and more to show the best way to approach scholarship and how to do research? Such a work forty years ago would have done much more good than what we have here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Love Thy Body

What do I think of Nancy Pearcey’s book published by Baker Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Nancy Pearcey’s book is a must-read. It is a nuclear missile of sorts going into secularism and a powerful argument that needs to be dealt with. At the same time, it’s a simple argument. It starts with a basic premise that all of us can immediately see and goes from there.

That premise is your body is something that shows who you are. If you want to know how you look publicly to the world, all of it comes through your body. We might say we live in a world that values the body. After all, you can find fitness videos to no end at the video store and there are TV programs about weight loss and everything else related to the body.

It can still be that we don’t really value the body that much. We can idolize it without really understanding it. Do we really care about the body itself or about the image we portray with the body? Is the body something truly good in its own right?

Pearcey uses this claim to get to arguments about numerous areas. You will find the hook-up culture, living together before marriage, abortion, pornography, homosexuality, and transgenderism addressed in this. All of this leads to giving more power to the state. If only she had written about something that people are talking about today….

Pearcey says that in each of these items, we are making a false statement about the body. Sex is a powerful expression two people make with their bodies for one another. It is really giving all that you can to another person. We speak about it as a grand finale. We go all the way. We hit a home run. We score.

Instead, our culture often reduces sex to just a hobby. We have this idea that you can have sex with no strings attached, but you can’t. Your body knows what you’re doing and that’s why bonding chemicals are released during the act of sex, including chemicals for a man. Your body is forming a bond with this other person in the act of sex.

Porn does the same kind of thing training your body to respond to a lie. The body you see on the other end is not a real body, but it is more fake. It is the result of a lot of make-up and such made for just that occasion. The person on the other side of that camera doesn’t care about you. They don’t even know that you exist. You will not get the joy of undressing them before your eyes and getting to run your hands over their body yourself. There’s a reason why many men today are in their 20’s and having to take Viagra. A real woman can’t get them to respond any more because porn makes them need more and more.

Women struggle enough as it is with self-image in the area of physical beauty. It doesn’t help them that they now think they have to struggle with countless women seen in porn. I say this also realizing that women today will also watch porn and will face similar struggles though different in some ways I’m sure to the men.

Abortion shows this struggle as well. Abortion downplays the body in that science is not the decider of whether that is truly a human. An artificial category is made up so that something is human, but it is not a person. There is no scientific test for such a thing. It is an ad hoc claim made to justify the killing of the innocent human person in the womb.

Homosexuality is also such a case of lying with one’s body. It is saying that one has the body of a man or a woman, but they will deny this. They will instead treat their body like it is that of a woman or a man. Again, the problem is a downplaying of the body and it is because feelings take precedence. One feels a certain way so forget what the body says. It is overruled by the emotions.

Transgenderism really demonstrates this. One believes a lie so much that one is willing to have one’s own body mutilated rather than work on changing the feelings. We live in an age where one can deny the body so much that one will undergo surgery to make it subservient to the feelings.

All of this also gives more power to the state. The state has to step in and change things. Marriage is no longer about a physical union, but it is about the feelings the people have for one another. Under many a secular definition, two roommates living together can be married even though they have no romantic feelings towards one another and will never have sex together.

The state will step in and redefine terms and then it will have to defend those terms and those who resist are enemies of the state. The ultimate target is the family. The family is a threat to the government since the family does not depend on the government for its existence. It’s a pre-political reality. The charges are serious and the cause is serious.

Get Pearcey’s book. Read it. Learn it. Open your eyes to what is going on around you. Pearcey’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in debating in any of these areas.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Newton’s Apple And Other Myths About Science

What do I think of Ronald Numbers’s and Kostas Kampourakis’s book published by Harvard University Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is an excellent book looking at a number of claims that have been made about science throughout the centuries. Many of these claims are taught even in textbooks today, but they really don’t bear any semblance with reality. Some are complete nonsense. Others have a grain of truth, but they’re mixed in with a great deal of error.

I knew the book was going to start off well when it had the first myth being that Christianity held back the progress of science. To give an example of someone postulating the myth, they quote someone and I won’t say who he is, but I will say he’s a certain unemployed polyamorous prominent internet blogger who’s banned from Skepticon. At that point, I knew I was going to like this one.

The book also deals with other myths I found personally interesting such as that Columbus refuted the idea that the Earth is flat or that science and religion have always been at conflict. These are myths that have so permeated our society that it’s hard to find people who disagree with them and consider it something that all educated people know. Well, no. A lot of educated people know just the opposite.

Others that caught my attention were the idea that there really is no scientific method. So many people claim to go by one, but there are vast and different fields in the scientific enterprise and no one method works for all of them. Get in a room with ten scientists and ask them to describe the scientific method they use and you’ll likely get eleven different opinions.

Another one was that there is not a wide gap between science and pseudoscience. Many ideas have been popular in science history and are pseudoscience today. It’s hard to really set out a line on what constitutes real science and what doesn’t. Even if you have falsifiability as one, then many end-times speculations and faith healings and such could be considered real science. (I do believe that there are actual miraculous healings, but I think many of the so-called faith healers are frauds.)

Another interesting aspect was a chapter about Paley. Paley in his watch was pointing more to teleology than internal make-up. Darwin only mentioned Paley once in his massive work and even then it was favorable. Much of what we call ID today would not be at all what Paley had in mind.

Other readers will find many other aspects interesting, especially if they’re interested in the sciences, but if you’re not, those chapters can be confusing. Some are historically enlightening, such as that the launch of Sputnik did not create a battle cry to start upping our science education. I recommend those who are curious to just look at the book on Amazon and see what myths are covered in there and if that is something that is of interest to you.

It’s also amazing how many scientists fall for these myths. Many scientists are great at science, but they are not great at history and philosophy and they went through school likely being taught these myths and it wasn’t the main focus of their education and they saw no reason to question them. Unfortunately, now they are propogators of those myths and it’s up to the historians and those of us interested in science to set the record straight.

This is a very enjoyable read. I often enjoy reading not so much about science itself, but the philosophy and history behind it. Ronald Numbers has had his hand in a number of great books like this and I look forward to more coming.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Jesus Crisis

What do I think of David Farnell and Robert Thomas’s book published by Kregel Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In The Jesus Crisis, we have a look at a book oft-cited in the Inerrancy debates. I had heard a lot of negative statements about this book, but I decided to go in with an open mind. Some things starting off aren’t so bad. There is some serious questioning of the two-source hypothesis and since I’m skeptical of Q as a source, I have no problem with this. I do agree with the authors that when we look at the authorship and writing of the Gospels, we do need to take the church fathers seriously. Certainly, they’re not infallible, but we don’t need to ignore them.

I was also surprised to see David Farnell’s style of arguing in this. In many of his writings, he has often looked as one in a hysterical panic. This was a side that was much more reasonable and measured and the kind that I would have preferred to have seen more often.

Ultimately, insofar as we’re talking about the origins of the Gospels and looking at various forms of criticism, I could agree with some matters. I wonder what the editors would think of Richard Bauckham talking about the death of form criticism. That being said, the further one gets in the book, the more there are areas of concern.

The problem often is that Inerrancy is taken as the starting presupposition and while the writers make an effort to knock down historical methodologies of today, which is fine if they want to do that, they give nothing in the place of how history should be done. The only way seems to be with starting off with the idea that the Bible is the Word of God. Of course, while from a confessional statement I would agree with that, I do not start that way. After all, why start with that book instead of the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon?

There is also a fixation on what Michael Bird would call the American Inerrancy Tradition. (AIT) This goes with the perspicuity of Scripture in that everything should be plain. The question is why should we think this? Peter wrote in 2 Peter (If you think he wrote it) that there were many things in Paul’s letters which were hard to understand. This shouldn’t surprise us. Not everything in Scripture is clear.

Also, the writers insist that we have to have the exact words of Jesus. Why should we? It’s possible that Jesus spoke Greek, but it could be less likely that the common populace spoke Greek and if they did, then one wonders why Matthew would write out a form of Matthew in Aramaic. If he wrote a Gospel in Aramaic and one in Greek, he obviously had to translate some words. One could say some things could have been said on multiple occasions. It is doubtful that Jesus only gave a great parable one time.

However, some things were only said one time. What did Jesus say when He was on trial and when He was on the cross? How many times did Jesus give the Great Commission? If Matthew wrote a Gospel with both of these, one text at best would have the exact words. The other would have a translation. Also, paraphrase would not be a problem since even in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 5 gives a paraphrase of the Ten Commandments which were said to be written by the finger of God.

The writers may think it puts us in a panic state to not have Jesus’s exact words, but it really doesn’t. I also don’t think historical scholarship is in fact destroying the testimony of Scripture. I would contend the more we are doing good historiography, the more we are affirming Scripture. If one is scared to put sound historical methodology to use for Scripture, could it be one is scared of the outcome?

The saying has been that you treat Scripture like every other book to show that it is like no other book. I am not scared of applying the methodology of history to Scripture. If one wants to show a method is invalid, they need to show it and do so without question begging.

Ultimately, had we just had something like say the first half, this book could have been fine, but the more one gets into the text, the more one sees the panic button being pushed. What if? What if? What if? If one is worried that research of some kind could disprove Scripture, it says little about the Scriptures. It says a lot about them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Chapter 14

Can we learn anything from the Scopes Monkey Trial? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We return again to the work of Glenton Jelbert in Evidence Considered. The next response is to Edward Sisson on the Scopes Monkey Trial. Like Jelbert, I consider the trial itself irrelevant. Evolution does not stand or fall on it. (And if that is the case, then in fairness, ID doesn’t stand or fall on the Dover trial.) However, there is a sort of Inherit The Wind mentality about the ignorance of the Christian side as opposed to the calm rationality of the agnostic side.

The trial arose because someone thought the teaching of evolution was undermining belief in the Bible and another person decided to take advantage of that politically to help his career. At the start, I consider this a mistake. If a teaching is problematic for the Bible and that teaching is true, then we dare not propose a double-theory of truth. We need to be consistent. There are a number of steps that could have been taken.

One could have taught evolution for instance and yet pointed out problems with the theory. How would it not explain scientific data well in its time? What were the best critiques of the theory? What were the best evidences proponents of the theory used?

You could also go back and look at your interpretation of Scripture. This was a mistake in the Middle Ages to think that some texts were meant to be read scientifically. Maybe the same is happening here. Maybe these texts aren’t really scientific texts but instead are teaching something else.

Or, you could say right now we just don’t know, but we do have other grounds for believing in Christianity. You could then go to the classical theistic arguments (Which I have yet to see Jelbert touch) and then to the historical arguments for the resurrection of Jesus. There is often this strange idea we have that we must be able to answer every question and know how every piece of data fits into our worldview to be coherent. This is simply false. We are not omniscient like that.

Jelbert points out that Sisson said the law the trial was over merely barred teaching Darwinian evolution.” I agree with Jelbert that saying merely barred is not a good idea if the youth were to be up on current science. What would be said of saying “The Dover trial merely barred the teaching of Intelligent Design.”? Of course, it could be now that Jelbert would have been saying in Scopes, “Teach the controversy”, but not so much here.

Jelbert goes on to say that the Intelligent Design movement is trying to put Christianity on a firmer scientific footing. I agree with Jelbert that this can be a bad move. In fact, it’s a bad move for atheists. If you hold to atheism for modern scientific reasons, I think that’s a bad idea. The science of today can often be the junk of tomorrow. Certainly much has stood the test of time, but much hasn’t.

This is one reason I don’t really do scientific apologetics. It’s too easy to base your worldview on the science of the day so much so that the Biblical accounts have to be read as scientific accounts. It’s the old mistake of Concordism. When it comes to Scripture and theism, science is not the final decider.

At the same time, I think in this day and age, Jelbert is too highly optimistic when he speaks about education getting a student to think and read for themselves. That is just not happening. Too many young people out there are believing stupid things because of what they read on the internet. They are uninformed in never learning anything and their hobbies dominate their lives. If they want an informed opinion, they use wikipedia or they google and believe the first thing they read.

I am a gameshow junkie. On New Year’s Eve, my wife and I were watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and it was a college week. A student came out and was asked as a question where the Middle East was. I think his choices were southwest Asia, southeast Asia, Southwest Europe, or Southeast Africa. The student had to ask the audience. The most popular answer was the right one, but over 60% got it wrong, and these are the same students who are going to be voting for leaders based on what goes on in the Middle East.

Later, this same student had to have someone come down and help him with a question, and it was his uncle. The question was stating that two presidents had resigned in office during their terms and the second took place in the 1970’s. Which president was this? Yes. This student needed help to know about Richard Nixon.

Excuse me then if I don’t share Jelbert’s optimism about students informing themselves and giving theories a fair hearing.

Jelbert also says that scientists love to tear down an existing paradigm and replace it with one of their own. That may be so, but other scientists aren’t so crazy about others doing it. This is what Kuhn said in his book on The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. New data is taken and put into the old paradigm as much as possible until it just can’t take it any more and then a new paradigm must be found, but that new paradigm is hard to come by. Other scientists are resistant to it, much as many Christians are resistant to doing new things in church. (But we’ve always done it that way!)

Sisson does say that since eugenics was taught, it shows that we should not let those teaching be slavishly bound to what is popular science today. I’m not sure that this is saying the government should handle it as Jelbert says, but I would have a problem here as well because while eugenics is evil, could it have helped if differing opinions on it had been taught? Why not confront the idea rather than hoping it will just go away? Of course, the movement was evil and wrong, but it was still there and it needed to be dealt with.

Something interesting about Jelbert’s response is a sort of postscript at the end. He says Sisson was questioning the moral character of Darwinists and Jelbert realized he was doing the same with Sisson. Sisson is just as interested in truth. Jelbert says he had reacted emotionally to a perceived attack on his children’s well-being. Sisson could very well say the same as could many Christians today concerned about evolution. I definitely agree with Jelbert that an idea stands or falls on the data and not the people who hold to it.

We’ll continue another time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters