Does It Matter If The Resurrection Is A Metaphor?

Does it matter if the resurrection was literal? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Wednesday night, I was at the debate between my father-in-law, Mike Licona, and John Dominic Crossan about who the historical Jesus was and how he saw himself. I hate to say it, but it really wasn’t much of a debate because I don’t think anyone really understood what Crossan was arguing. Crossan was putting practically everything into the world of metaphor and saying that the message was a metaphor and that he would die for a metaphor and if the resurrection is literal, what difference would it make? The real question is are we living resurrected lives.

When I got up to ask a question, I said my wife and I enjoy being married. Still, we wonder what will happen when our time comes. Will we be together forever? I replied that a literal resurrection can assure us that we will be. What hope can a metaphor give us?

The reply was something along the lines of how the message was not the resurrection of individuals but that the human race would overcome. The violence of Rome would be overthrown by non-violence. This is supposedly the good news of Jesus.

There are a number of things I wonder about this, such as how this Jesus got crucified. Despite that, there is one thing I want to focus on. The resurrection. Does it make a difference if it’s a metaphor or literal?

I’m not going to go into making a whole case for the resurrection. That has been done plenty of times elsewhere. I am going to be emphasizing the difference it makes and to be fair, it is easy to miss this many times.

One big difference is that we live in a world where death is a reality. We see it all around us. We know that when the game over comes for someone, it really is game over barring a miracle. It’s a sad reality. When we bury a loved one, they are dead, and the relationship is not the same.

Will it ever be? Is that it?

We live in a world of injustice. Recently here in Atlanta, we had a police officer shot who died from that and his killer was found within 48 hours and also died when he pulled out a weapon on police officers. There are many crimes that take place and sadly, the culprit is never found. Some people seem to go free.

Will there ever be justice?

Sometimes people die from disease. Our friend, Nabeel Qureshi, died from stomach cancer at an extremely young age. Just today in my Facebook memories I saw something about a friend who passed away last year. She was an older lady, but it’s still hard to see.

Will this ever be righted?

What about our universe itself? Some of you out there I am sure believe we are responsible for some climate change. We live in a world there does seem to be a lot of destruction. We want to colonize other planets, but even if we do, the universe is destined to die a cold death and take us with it.

Is there any point?

What about our bodies themselves? Do they matter? Are human beings just objects. Does it matter what I do with my body? Does it matter how I behave sexually or how my diet is?

What difference does it make?

This is why the resurrection matters? Will we live again and see each other again? Yes. Will evil be judged and good rewarded? Yes. Will lives be redeemed that died from tragic disease? Yes. Will the Earth and the universe be renewed and made eternal paradises? Yes. Do our bodies matter and how we treat them? Yes.

The resurrection matters.

It matters that it’s literal.

I think I’ll stick with the literal resurrection. That’s the good news that overcame the Earth. Christianity isn’t just a nice story. It’s a reality about the world and everything in it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Those interested in the debate can listen to it here.

Thoughts on the Mentionables Conference

What did I think of the conference? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This weekend, I got to speak in Greensboro, NC at the Mentionables Conference. This is a group of lesser known apologists but ones that are considered worth a mention. If a church cannot hire a big time name to come in, we can come in and speak at a church. Our core network consists of myself, Joel Furches, Adam Coleman, Chad Gross, and Tyler Vela. A guest joined us as well in Ben Watkins of the real atheology podcast as he was part of the debate.

If there was a downside to this event, it was turnout. There weren’t many people who showed up which told us that we need to advertise. As for the rest, I really can’t remember having this much fun at a conference. We were constantly getting to enjoy ourselves.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Ben’s company and his wife Allie and my wife Allie got along great. Ben looks to be an atheist that I could sit down and interact with and when we all went out for Italian Saturday night, we were all soon talking about other topics like movies and superheroes together. There was no hint of anyone being intellectually superior or anything like that.

Actually, Ben had a lot to say about a lot of internet atheists, a term he used as well. Many of them are just embarrassing and have no interest in doing real research and are quick to say that anyone who is a theist is irrational. There were also some strong words against the Jesus mythicist movement, which I was quite pleased.

During some question and answer time for us, we could also ask each other questions and what I wanted to push him on most was the resurrection of Jesus. I was pleased to see that he wasn’t going to just throw something out there to explain it, but he rather said he hadn’t looked at it as much as he should have. I am sure we will have a good discussion on this sometime.

I also enjoyed it when the time came that someone asked a question of what is the worst argument you have ever heard for your side. I immediately indicated that I wanted the microphone and said “Hands down, Ray Comfort’s banana argument.” I think it was quickly conceded that for theism, that was the trump card. No one was going to beat that.

Humor was abundant at the event. Many many times it was made clear that I do indeed affirm the virgin birth for example. We were all able to get together and chat freely and enjoy one another’s company. I do not think that I can say that I was getting bored at the conference at all.

I really look forward to the next one that we have and I’m already talking to some people to see if they would be interested. Come to think of it, there is one disappointment that I do have. Somehow it looks like Tyler Vela walked away in one piece. Obviously, something went wrong with my plan….

At any rate, this is a great group of guys I get to hang out with and I hope we do more together soon.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

An Open Challenge To David McAfee

Will the gauntlet be picked up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Not too long ago, upon seeing someone else talk about the book, I wrote a review of David McAfee’s Disproving Christianity. As you might expect, I found the book as sorely lacking in what it needed. The appearance I get is that David McAfee just looked up passages on Bible Gateway and read Wikipedia about them. There was no interaction with scholarly material. There was no bibliography. There was not an argument against the resurrection of Jesus at all. It pretty much boiled down to “If there are contradictions in the Bible, then Christianity is false.”

This has no basis in reality. Not even Bart Ehrman would totally buy this idea as he was a believer in Christianity for awhile even while thinking the Bible was not inerrant. There’s no reason to think the Bible is an all-or-nothing game, as if because we show that because the Bible supposedly contradicts on if man has seen God or not, that that means that Pontius Pilate never existed since the Bible records his existence. This is the way a fundamentalist thinks and this is why I say that McAfee is a fundamentalist as well. He applies the exact same standard the fundamentalist Christians he condemns does and does not engage with scholarship.

He has also written a book called The Belief Book which I plan on reviewing soon. It is designed for children. Remember Christian friends. It’s wrong for you to teach your own children to be Christians, but it’s perfectly okay for atheists to write books teaching atheism to children. Those who are telling you that you can’t teach your own children something are doing so because they have something else in mind that they want to teach your children. Yet in this book, others have told me that he really questions the existence of Jesus even, just as he does in Disproving Christianity. This would be enough to cue the laugh track anywhere else.

Yet it looks like McAfee has supplied himself with a bunch of yes men. These are not scholars, but simply his fan base who aren’t any more educated than he is. In my interactions, I have seen the same disdain for scholarship and the abundance of presuppositional atheism. Not a shock that the idea that Jesus never even existed is right at home there. For some reason, McAfee is treated as if he is an authority of some kind.

So right now, I am really making a public challenge. I have done so on his Facebook page, but I will do so right here. If David McAfee is sure he’s right, he’s free to face me on a debate on the resurrection of Jesus.

Why should he engage me? Well he already has to an extent.

mcafee responds

You see, this is part of the modus operandi of David McAfee. He will often put up a response without showing the other side as if what was said was automatically brilliant. Unfortunately, he didn’t bother to respond to my reply. McAfee says my response to the claim of 41,000 denominations was to simply ask “What’s a denomination?” This is not so. I in fact told what a denomination was. A denomination was a self-governing entity. McAfee posted up his response and while he linked to what I said earlier, but we know most people will never click the link. One thing McAfee might want to keep in mind is that if someone answers your response, it doesn’t bode well to put up your response and never return and answer them again, which of course, he never did.

I could also point out that I do happen to already have some scholarly endorsements. I am not saying all are scholars, but a number of them are. As readers of this blog know, I happen to have my own ministry and my own podcast and on my podcast, I have also interacted with the work of scholars. There are also several Ebooks of mine that are available. I have also appeared on shows like Atheist Analysis and had a debate with Ken Humphreys who runs the web site of Jesus Never Existed and one with Matthew Ferguson of Adversus Apologetica which you can download here on if Jesus rose from the dead and one on Unbelievable? where I answered the question of where was God in Haiti after the great 2010 earthquake. This in addition to being a speaker as well, such as at the New Orleans Defend The Faith 2015 Conference.

So if McAfee wants to think he has triumphed in a snippet over me, then he is welcome to come and face me in a debate. He might have an easy time surrounded by all his fans who will not give him a challenge to what he believes, but let’s see if he will be willing to face someone who does disagree with him.

The gauntlet has been cast down.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Reality of Jesus

Should it change you when you realize the reality of Jesus? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My debate with Ken Humphreys is complete and you can find a link to it here. I am very pleased with how the debate went. It is my continuing hope that mythicism will be soon seen as an embarrassing fad that will pass away. I do think as a Christian that the reality of atheists jumping on the mythicist bandwagon is only hurting their cause. They are missing out on far better scholarship in the NT, including from fellow atheists, and damaging their cause from an academic perspective by going with a fringe belief.

Last night I was thinking about it and how really overwhelming the evidence for Jesus is and it struck me as how incredible it is that this is a reality. Now of course the existence of Jesus does not demonstrate that He was the Son of God who did miracles and rose from the dead, and of course atheistic scholarship has their own reasons for thinking he didn’t as well as liberal scholarship that would even identify itself as Christian, but as one who has read much of this, I really consider the counter-arguments quite weak.

Which gets us to the idea that Jesus is a historical reality that everyone deals with and as has been said before, everyone seems to want Jesus on their side. Muslims have Him as a prophet and the messiah and there are many good attributes of Him given in the Koran that are not given to Muhammad. Buddhists and Hindus like him as an avatar figure. Every religion that has come after Jesus has had to say something about Jesus. Even Richard Dawkins has spoken about a movement that he would like called “Atheists for Jesus” to which he thinks Jesus in humility would prefer to say “Jesus for atheists.” In a sense, I think Jesus certainly is! Jesus is not against atheists as people after all.

But if we are Christians, we need to realize that one of the starting claims of our system is true. Jesus really did walk among us. If that’s enough to excite us, imagine how exciting it is to think about the reality that Jesus is the Son of God who died and rose again. As is said in 2 Peter, we are not following cleverly devised tales. We are following what Luke said is an account that he made sure of.

Christianity is a unique faith in that it deals with historical realities. It makes the claim that these events happened and they happened at a specific place and time. Studying the history and the culture can actually educate us on our faith. In fact, if we are Christians, we have to realize that study of reality period can tell us something about Christianity. Christianity has something to say about everything. There is no one area that is left uncovered.

When Jesus is seen as a historical reality, something must be done with Him, which could be why so many are trying to shortcut and just say there is no reality to Jesus period. I am convinced that it’s an enterprise doomed to failure. The question remains as it was said long ago. Who do you say the Son of Man is?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Debate Tomorrow

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

I want to let everyone know that tomorrow, I will be doing a debate on the podcast out of the U.K. called The Mind Renewed. My debate partner will be Ken Humphreys who runs the web site JesusNeverExisted.com. We will be debating the question of if Jesus was a historical figure or not. Obviously, you know that I will be debating the position that he was.

I do not know when the debate will be up though I have heard a possibility is that it will be up by Saturday. When it is, I plan to put a link up so anyone can listen to it. I do consider this an important debate as Christ mythicism is a position that while still ultimately found unpersuasive by scholars in the field, does rise up on the internet and especially in an age where everyone thinks that they’re an expert on historiography.

Still, I am honored to get to take part in this debate. I’m one of a few on the internet I think who has still insisted that these people need to be answered. I also take this as an example of how it is that we have to be doing better education in the church. It’s not enough to come and sing worship songs together, learn how to be good people, and then have a pizza party. We must educate. The data is out there. It can be understood by the layman. We just need to get it out.

We also need to teach some internet savvy. Unfortunately, in this day and age, anyone can set up a blog or a web site or make a YouTube video. Does that include me? Yep. That’s also why I have encouraged my readers to not take my word as gospel. By all means check me out with the best scholarship. If I make a mistake or you think I have made one, point it out. I have been in the business of refining my position.

Our people in the church need to know how to access information that they come across on the internet. Of course, the best way to do this is to go read the works of leading scholars. This is problematic in our day and age for a people who do not like to do such hard work. How can we expect them to. Do you not know what is on television this evening that we just simply have to watch? I am not opposed to having some entertainment as my wife and I watch several shows. I am opposed to living for entertainment without taking the time to study the issues that matter most.

To my fellow Christians, I simply ask that you pray for me. Pray that God will give me recall of the information that I have worked hard to learn and pray that this will be an edifying podcast that will draw people more and more to the true historical Jesus and of course, hopefully make them  be willing to research Him and in turn, come to find that He is the king of this universe and be willing to bend the knee to Him.

Thank you all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Debate Synopsis

How do I think last night went? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I had my debate last night with Matthew Ferguson. For those who want to listen to it, a link can be found here. It was certainly an interesting debate and a fast one.

I do think the numerous people who listened in and the many who have given good compliments and good ideas on how I can improve on a performance they already thought was well done. Such is an important aspect of doing any endeavor like this. There will be much time to study and review and look back.

I also will be writing when I get done with the current series that I am on more on the debate as there were several aspects that due to time restraints, I did not get to cover. As is the case with any debate, there are also aspects that need to be explained in a fuller sense and what better forum to do so than on my own personal blog?

In fact, it is one reason that I have not been doing much writing here on the front of the historical Jesus. I have not wanted to share any cards that I had, a number of which I can add the opportunity to use did not come up last night.

Overall, I am pleased with how I did. I really last night cannot think of any persuasive argument that I saw on the other side. As I am expecting, there will be people who will be supporting what I said and people who will be supporting what my opponent said. It is my hope that this will in fact inspire people on both sides to do further research into the subject matter.

My approach is also a unique one and I plan to hammer it out further in my future in working on my Master’s at North West and then eventually a PH.D.. My argument has a minimal facts approach, but I much more prefer as well to look at the idea of Jesus from a social science perspective in the climate of an honor-shame society. (As we’ll see later, this is why a comparison to Mormonism really misses the mark.)

Many people spoke to me afterwards about how this by and large depended on Carrier’s arguments. Yes. That will be looked at as well as we move further along. My thanks does still extend to everyone who was a part of the endeavor as well. I also realize this could be the first debate of many. It might be that there will be a round two perhaps three or four years or so down the line. If we both continue on our studies, I do not doubt that our paths will cross again.

So when I get done with my series on sexual ethics, readers can expect that I will be coming back to this and devoting more time to subjects I’ve been wanting to write about for the past couple of months anyway. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Debate 9/9/2013

What’s coming up today on Deeper Waters? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

It’s not so much what’s coming up today, but what is coming up tonight? Tonight I have a teleconference debate with Matthew Ferguson of Adversus Apologetica. Ferguson is pretty popular amongst internet skeptics and definitely is highly impressed with Richard Carrier.

This makes the whole situation far more interesting in my opinion. Whereas I think Ferguson sees himself as following in the footsteps of Carrier, I see myself as following in the footsteps of Mike Licona. As those who keep up with debates will know, Carrier and Licona have had their debates as well so this is in a way a look at what those next in line could have to say.

The topic will be if it’s reasonable or not to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. (In case you’re keeping score at home, I will be arguing that yes, it is.) Ferguson and I did have some back and forth with blog posts, but I have declined to write more on the topic of what we were discussing because simply being one who grew up a good gamer, and still has proficiency in that area, (Something my wife laments every time we try to play a Mario game together) I prefer to not play all my cards at once.

The past couple of months have been time spent with much interacting with podcasts and reading the works of highly credentialed scholars. I believe that this research will be more than sufficient to help me establish a strong case tonight.

I ask that my readers of this blog be listening and praying for me as well. If you can’t listen for some reason now, there will be a way to listen later as it is being recorded. In either case, please do be in prayer. As far as I’m concerned, this is also about spreading the Kingdom of God and presenting the reasonableness of the Christian faith to those who might be open.

It is my hopes that at least one person would be open to consider the evidence and give it another look tonight. At the same time, I want them to take a good look before they sign on the dotted line. I have often said that I do not want to go out into the world and make converts. Jesus never told us to do that. I want to make disciples. Disciples will follow a Luke 14 pattern and count the cost first and decide if they think Jesus is worth a lifelong commitment or not.

Anyway, here is what you can find on the Facebook page for the debate.

“Is there historical evidence that Jesus was resurrected from the dead? Based on what is available to us, is there more reason to believe in the resurrection or to doubt it? Matthew will be affirming the position: “It is more reasonable to doubt that Jesus resurrected from the dead.” And Nick will be affirming the position: “It is more reasonable to believe that Jesus resurrected from the dead.”

The debate is being sponsored by the UCI Secular Student Alliance and the UCI Ratio Christi chapter. Neither club is endorsing a particular candidate’s position.

Listen live via teleconference: 1.559.546.1301 access code: 116676#

Matthew is a Ph.D. graduate student in Classics at the University of California, Irvine. His research interests include Greek and Latin historiography, ancient biography, and the Early Roman Empire. In addition to his graduate work, Matthew runs a blog named Celsus (located at the URL adversusapologetica.wordpress.com), where he writes about issues of philosophy and early Christianity from an atheist and naturalist perspective. Matthew has written several posts on Celsus about the resurrection of Jesus, which range in their content from the problem of miracles and the historical method, Jesus’ empty tomb, and natural explanations for the origins of Christianity.

Nick Peters is a graduate of Johnson University preparing to study at North West University in South Africa to earn his Master’s in NT. He runs the blog Deeper Waters, (located at the URL DeeperWaters.wordpress.com) and hosts the Deeper Waters Podcast through BlogTalkRadio. A diagnosed Aspie, he and his wife Allie, also an Aspie, reside in Corryton and have been married for over three years. They have one cat named Shiro.”

The debate starts at 7 PM EST and will last for two hours.

I thank everyone who has helped me in preparation for this debate. I also want to thank everyone who has supported me along the way too and took the time to answer questions that I’ve had through all my years of studying. I want to thank my family for their support to me and I definitely want to thank my loving wife Allie for being the encourager who is always my biggest cheerleader.

And last of all and most important, thanks to my God who has allowed me to serve in His Kingdom, something that is both honoring and humbling. May tonight’s performance glorify Him and not me.

The link to the Facebook page can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters