Deeper Waters Podcast 5/31/2014: Joseph Hinman

What’s coming up this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Okay. I generally have a bit of a skeptic in me, and today, that can be a good thing. With so many phonies on stations like TBN, one wants to make sure that they’re getting accurate information. Furthermore, there are groups like the Mormons out there that keep going on about how they had a burning in the bosom. Experience can often be a dangerous tool when used improperly.

So when I got Joseph Hinman’s book to review in the mail called “The Trace Of God”, I was skeptical. Why? Because Hinman’s argument is that religious experience presents a valid justification one can have for believing in God. It’s important to point out Hinman does not see this as a proof of God’s existence. He just sees it as giving the religious believer an epistemic justification for what they believe.

I will confess that I am not sold entirely yet, which could still be more of my skepticism based on the paragraph above. This despite the fact that I would say even my own wife has had a religious experience where earlier this year she was suddenly cured of the depression that she has lived with practically all her life and has a renewed interest in Christian matters.

So who is Joseph Hinman? His bio goes as follows:

Mr. Hinman did his undergraduate work in sociology and debate at the University of Texas at Arlington. He earned a Masters degree in Theological studies where he focused upon history of doctrine at Perkins school of Theology, Southern Methodist University. He was a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Ideas (Intellectual History) and studied at the doctoral level for several years at University of Texas at Dallas. He began work focusing upon Derrida and the postmodern understanding of the self. He then switched and spent five years studying history and philosophy of science, focusing upon Newton, Boyle and the Latitudinarians. In the process of completing his dissertation, he was forced to terminate his studies ABD (all but the dissertation) due to family tragedies. Mr. Hinman published the peer-reviewed academic journal, Negations: an interdisciplinary journal of social criticism. He now works as an independent scholar.

So we’ll be talking about all the facets of religious experience. What exactly is a religious experience? What about different worldviews? Don’t Hindus and others have religious experiences? Can you be an evangelical and affirm religious experiences? Are religious experiences meant to give you content about theology? Aren’t these kinds of things too subjective to use as a reason to believe in God’s existence?

There’s going to be a lot to discuss on a topic that many of us are not familiar with and I am pleased to say that Hinman has definitely done his homework. His book is filled with meticulous research from qualified researchers. Please be watching for it as I hope to have it up as soon as I can. Remember, we can return to live broadcasts whenever we get sufficient financial backing for it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus Wept

What do I think about Bruce Marchiano’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My wife’s an artistic person and likes images much more than I do. In our marriage, I like to tell people that I am the head and she is the heart. I’m a largely rationally driven person. She’s an emotionally driven person. We both have Asperger’s which makes it an interesting combination. We’re also both Christians and when she watched The Gospel According To Saint Matthew, she started looking up Bruce Marchiano who played Jesus in it, also known as “Smiling Jesus.”

When she found out that he had some books out, I was immediately going to the library web site and saw only one listed, Jesus Wept, which I decided to order to surprise her. I’m always encouraging her to read after all.

And she did. Only took a day.

She also wanted me to read it.

So I did.

First off, I’m thankful that someone like Marchiano is in the acting business who actually cares about serving Christ. If only we had more like that. I’m also thankful that Marchiano is out there wanting to make films for a Christian audience and in fact engaging tough issues, such as one coming out called Alison’s Choice about trying to counsel a young woman out of getting an abortion. One other movie, The Encounter, I was pleased to see even referred to the slaughter of the Canaanites as an issue for Christians to deal with.

Now to get to the review, I will say that being the rational-based person, I found myself not being affected the way my wife was, which was something that had me wondering for awhile. Marchiano writes with a lot of passion and writes with a lot of word pictures and such to get one to feel the situation that he is talking about. His book is meant to help us work through the problem of evil and find solace in times of suffering. Now personally, I’m terrible with empathy. If someone comes for counseling, I prefer to let them talk to my Mrs. as she is the much better listener.

Marchiano places an emphasis on September 11, which has become equated with evil in our culture, and who can blame him? If anyone wants an example of evil in our time that really grips us, it’s September 11. Most of us can remember that day. While I am not a person known for empathy, I do remember that day as well. I could tell you where I was when I first heard the news and remember being in Bible College watching on TV when the second tower fell.

The situation for me as I read a book that has anything to do with theology in any way is to go through and check and make sure the theology is right and make sure the historical claims are accurate and all the ducks are in a line. There is a place for that and it is needed. For the most part, I think it is for Marchiano. There are of course a few places that I would have liked to have seen something different said and something made more clear, but that’s okay.

The light didn’t really click until I got to the last chapter and something in there got me to think about how it would be to picture my own wife reading this book, thinking about what she has gone through recently in her life and the change that Christ has brought. Then I realized “Why yes, if someone is hurting and they are someone who accepts the Christian worldview, or if they want to have a greater appreciation for Jesus while already being a Christian, then this would be a good book for them.” As someone who emotionally connects in that way, I then realized why it is that she cared so much for this.

Same effect on me? No. That doesn’t say anything about Marchiano as a writer necessarily however. I think it says more about me. I get much more excited about the things of God if I read a good book on Christian apologetics or the historical Jesus or something of that sort instead. My spouse would not have her eyes light up to get an insight into the culture of Jesus through historical studies that I would. That’s okay.

Yet at the same time, it is important to not eliminate either side from the picture. Yes. I am the more logical thinker of the two of us with a stronger rational side, but it is important to realize that there are people from a more emotional bent and recognize that some works are written for them as well. I as the one with the rational bent can appreciate then on my wife’s level something she’d like and she in turns does recognize the importance of my emphasis on the life of the mind and learning about that as well.

So in the end, I think that a lot of people could be comforted by Marchiano’s book. For those who are just struggling with some suffering and want to know how Jesus can relate, I can recommend it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Does Virginity Matter?

Does virginity really mean anything in our society any more? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I have been on Unbelievable’s Facebook page in a debate about Tim McGrew vs. Peter Boghossian and saw another thread asking what the big deal is about virginity. The poster stated that he was on a bit of a “sex kick” (This is also translated as being a healthy male). This was a thread that I decided I should certainly play a part in.

Now to be sure, virginity is not to be valued for the sake of virginity itself. If one chooses to have a celibate lifestyle, one should choose that not because they value celibacy, but they should choose it because they value something else and are giving up sex throughout their lives for the sake of that something else. Celibacy should not be seen as a means to itself. It is sacrificing a good for what one thinks is an even greater good. One should also not practice chastity (Chastity being waiting until marriage instead of abstaining your whole life) for the sake of chastity. One practices chastity for a greater good.

For some, virginity is not that big a deal. Sex is just another biological activity. In fact, these think that you should sleep with the person you’re dating before you get married to them. After all, you need to make sure that you are sexually compatible. As you can imagine, I reject this view entirely.

Quite amusing also was to read that virginity is a way to control women.

Yes. Because if men wanted to control women, the best way they would do it would be to make sure that men had to wait until they married a woman until they could have sex with her. Because, hey, we all know that we men are notorious about setting up barriers to keep us from having sex.

Of course, no one would deny that sex is a biological function. It does fill a necessary gap in enabling the human species to reproduce. It also serves other purposes. One obvious purpose that we tend to think of immediately is pleasure. There is nothing like the joy that comes from the unity of the male and the female together in this way. While we can say we disagree with the sexual morality that we see on TV shows and movies today, we certainly can understand the pleasure aspect of it. If sex was not a lot of fun, there would not be so much of a drive to do it.

Sex also serves another role. It serves to unify and solidify the love between a husband and a wife. Let’s face it. If it wasn’t for sex, men would quite likely not get married and the human species would die out. A woman costs time, money, and effort. What benefit would the guy get for that? Well in sex we have an answer. Now does this mean a woman’s only good is sex? No. It just means that this is the initial draw between a man and a woman.

This draw in fact is to build up the love. When the man unites with the woman in this way, then he is put in a position where he will desire to please the woman because she has done so much to please him. The relationship builds more and more that way. The woman will also in turn grow to trust and to love the man. That will in turn lead to more sex which will in turn lead to more sex and the cycle grows and grows.

The reason that we guard the sexuality of ourselves is not because sex is dirty or sinful. May it never be! I’m a married man. Does anyone really think I’m going to say sex is sinful? Heck no! But it is because sex is something sacred. It is on its own terms something more powerful than any nuclear weapon. It is something that you’d better handle with care because if you go wrong with sex, the ramifications are deadly.

Sex is also the way a woman determines what she’s worth. Generally in a relationship, the woman makes the decision about when sex will be, although the man sure does try to let her know when he wants it. (Hint for women: Always.) So what is a woman worth? Is she worth dinner and a movie? Is she worth a week? Is she worth a month? Is she worth half a year? Engagement? Or is she worth a lifetime commitment? I have written about this elsewhere.

Now someone might say “Well would you buy a car without taking it for a test drive.” No, but here’s the point. People are not cars. The car will not care if you don’t like it and take it back to the lot. The car will not have hurt feelings. The car will not call up all of its friends and ask why it is that it was not found pleasing in your sight. People are not machines and they do not behave like cars.

When I think back to when I proposed to my wife, I can just imagine the reaction had I made a similar suggestion with her. “Well, I’d like to spend the rest of my life with you, but let’s have sex first and then I also plan on having sex with other women. After all, I want to make sure you’re the best fit for me. If you end up passing the test, then you and I can go on with marriage plans.”

She would have rightly rejected my proposal then and there and her parents would definitely make sure I never crossed her path again.

Now someone could ask that if you have zero experience, doesn’t that make things difficult possibly? Do you want to go to the honeymoon without experience?

But we all have to start doing things without experience. The first time you drive a car, you do not have experience. When you go to college for the first time, you do not have experience. When you become a parent for the first time, you may have experience with babysitting, but you do not have experience in directly taking care of your own children.

And that’s one of the joys of waiting until marriage. You and your spouse learn together. Sure you’re going to make mistakes and not be the best right at the start and will get better and better over time. That’s okay. You laugh and learn about the mistakes that you make and learn more and more about what pleases you and what pleases the other person. (And yes, it is not selfish to know what pleases you. How else can your spouse best love you unless you know what it is that brings you the most joy?)

My wife is not a test object. She is not an object period. She is the woman I pledge my life and love to until death do us part. She is not just someone I go to when I want to have my pleasure and then disregard the rest of the time. The desire for sex is not just a desire for a pleasurable sensation, but a desire for spousal unity and to be open entirely with the woman that I love and to give and receive love without walls between us.

Naturally, men and women have different attitudes with sex. For men, sex is usually seen as a necessary aspect of the love. For the women, love is seen as a necessary aspect of the sex. This is not to say men are opposed to love in sex. We know love should be a part of it in marriage as well. Women also know that sex is a part of love in marriage. It is just in the ranking. A man cannot really imagine a time of great love and affection with him and his wife that does not have sex. A woman could much more easily.

All of this much more easily flows in marriage. In marriage, there is a system whereby sex can happen and happen without risk. There is to be no fear of rejection. No person is being tested. You are to know that when you wake up the next day, the other person will still be there.

In our culture, we have treated sex like a common good. Sex is not cheap. It comes at the price of the totality of a human being being given to another. That is not cheap. Sex is sacred because people are sacred. People are sacred because they are created in the image of God, the most sacred one of all. Our sexuality should reflect the nature of God in how we behave. God made us sexual beings and made us to enjoy that gift, but He made it to be enjoyed on the right terms and when those terms are followed, the gift will be the best of all.

So is virginity something worthwhile? Yes. The person who holds their virginity for someone is making a claim about themselves and for a Christian, they are making a claim about God. We have had this strange idea that God is separate from many of the things that we do in our lives. In reality, God has something to do with everything in our lives and I agree with Peter Kreeft. We need more and more a theology of sex.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Trouble With Internet Debates

What’s so problematic about having debates on the internet? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I love debate. Okay. I can’t deny that. A good argument can get me really excited. I love the back and forth exchange of ideas. (Well supposedly the back and forth exchange.) Yet there’s something also irksome about it. In some ways, it can be like receiving a new gift at Christmas. It’s fun and exciting for a few days, but after awhile, the excitement just wears off.

What’s the problem with internet debates? Well very rarely do people talk about ideas that they really study. Instead, they talk about ideas that they have opinions on. Now opinions are fine and we all have them, but some opinions are to be more authoritative than others. I can have an opinion on evolution and cosmology. Don’t take it seriously. Why? Because I have not done the necessary reading on the topic. I am not an authority.

A word of warning at this point to my apologist friends out there and to other Christians. Reading the apologists on a topic does not make you an authority. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to read the scholars on the topic. You want to know what your opponents are arguing even better than they know it.

Now before atheists start thinking they’re not guilty of the same thing, they are. If you want to make an argument against the existence of God, don’t read someone like Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is just fine when talking about evolution, but he is not trained in the arguments for God’s existence.

Don’t go thinking that people like Jerry Coyne (Who Peter Boghossian refers to profusely) are authorities on Christianity. They’re not. When I go to his blog and see people arguing that Jesus never even existed, I know this is not something to take seriously. (And yes, no one who says Jesus never existed should be considered authoritative in the field. There are more PH.D.s in science who hold to YEC, a view I do not hold to at all, than there are PH.D.s in ancient history who say Jesus never existed.)

The new atheist movement has done this to atheism today. If you want to be a well-informed atheist, do not read the new atheists. Believe it or not, just because you are an atheist, it does not mean that you’re automatically a clear thinker. Christian and atheists both have fools and geniuses on their side.

Another problem both sides have is incredulity has become an argument. For an atheist, yeah. I get it. It seems incredible to you that a miracle occurred. Frankly, I don’t have any problem with you thinking it is incredible. It really is. I understand the skepticism. The problem is skepticism is not an argument. It is a position that one holds. Today, you will need to do more than quote David Hume. Have you read the critiques of Hume? Have you considered a work such as Miracles by Craig Keener?

It also won’t work to say “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence.” Why should your position be the one that determines what claim is and isn’t extraordinary? The term is just way too subjective. How do you even recognize extraordinary evidence? Does it have some property like glowing in the dark?


And once again, to turn to the Christians, your incredulity does not count as an argument. Okay. Many of you are skeptical of evolution. I get that. Yeah. Now I have no firm opinion on the matter, but your incredulity does not count as an argument. It also will not work to say “The Bible says X.” Yeah. You accept the Bible as an authority, but your opponent doesn’t. Why should he care?

Now if you want to argue against evolution by all means be my guest. Just make sure you make the case scientific. If evolution is to fall, it will fall because it happens to be bad science. If it is bad science, then it can be refuted scientifically. Being incredulous will not count as an argument.

The problem with both of these positions is both sides can remain incredibly fundamentalist in nature. Many Christians will say automatically that they must be right because they agree with the Bible and the Word of God cannot be wrong. Now it could be true the Bible is the Word of God and cannot be wrong. (And I do hold to Inerrancy in fact) That is not to be assumed. If you’re debating a Christian who holds to that position, then fine. Use the Bible all you want to as an authority. It won’t work outside of that. It has no more effect on an opponent than my hearing what the Koran says from a Muslim has on me despite him insisting he’s telling me the words of the creator.

For the atheist, too often there is an engagement in what I call “atheistic presuppositionalism.” This is where you start off with the assumption of atheism, but you also start with the idea that because you are an atheist, you are reasonable and anyone who does not accept atheism is just irrational.

Now of course, if atheism is true, it is irrational to not accept it, but none of us are purely rational in all our thinking. We all make mistakes. You can be rational in many areas and irrational in others for any number of reasons. There could be a lack of study, reading the wrong resources, pride, or emotional or volitional barriers. Atheists often warn us about bias. They’re right. We should all be seeking to have our biases checked, but that includes atheists as well. The best way is to go out and read people who disagree with you and really interact with them.

But for too many atheists, the position is that they are rational and therefore any comment that they make is rational. Want to say Jesus never existed? That’s rational because you’re an atheist! Have an opinion on any topic you’ve never studied? It’s rational because you’re an atheist!

This also leads to too often a lack of serious engagement with religious ideas for atheists. For most, it is just a Google search and Google while a valuable tool for those who use it well, is an aid also to the laziness of our day and age. Why go out and read a scholar of a position? Just go find something in a Google search.

Want to claim Jesus is a copycat Messiah and there were several dying and rising deities? No problem! Just do a Google search! Sure! The source might not quote any scholars whatsoever and would not be taken seriously in the scholarly world, which it isn’t, but hey! It’s found on Google!

Now of course, a Christian should want to have an answer to that objection, but the question needs to be asked why it should be taken seriously as an objection in the first place? Is finding it on a Google search a good enough reason? I can find evidence on Google right now that the moon landing never took place! I can find evidence that the holocaust never happened! Now it’s faulty evidence to be sure (You can have evidence for false opinions), but it is evidence! Who would like to see something put up saying the moon landing never happened and expect to have to give an answer for that?

In fact, the reality is that 99.9% of us would say that it happened I predict. I have no doubt it happened. The reality is that most of us at the same time could not give an argument for it. Most of us do not know the physics and such of the matter to give an answer. That does not mean we’re irrational for holding it. We hold it on other grounds. Most of us could not give an argument for heliocentrism. Does that mean if someone put forward a web page claiming geocentrism that you would want me to take it seriously?

On the internet, anyone can put forward an opinion and it doesn’t have to be examined by critical minds. If you wanted to, you could start a blog right now for free and put out your opinion on whatever you want. That does not mean you’re an authority. It means you have an opinion.

Some of you might be thinking “What about your blog?” What about it? If you want to be skeptical, go ahead. I do not claim to be a scholar yet, but I do claim to rely on the works of leading scholars. If you think my opinion carries merit, feel free to share it. If not, then ignore it and just go and read the people who have actually reached the level of scholar.

Google is a tool for too many people who want instant information but are not wanting to do a real study. So many people don’t want today to do the real research required in learning a topic. Instead, they just want you to lay everything out front instead of doing the basic groundwork for what you wish to say. That’s another problem with internet discussions. If you’ve read the scholars, it’s very irritating to talk to people who haven’t and have them think they’re an authority.

And this gets us into another area as well. When people are contested, they can turn nasty. Now I am not one who says all satire and sarcasm is wrong. In fact, I think in many cases it’s necessary. Sometimes you need to call a spade a spade. Some arguers on the internet are just bullies who have not studied and want to present themselves as authority. They do not respond to sound argumentation.

Yet if all you have is just sarcasm and satire and you cannot back it with arguments, then you do not have an argument. Mocking Christians for being Christians is not an argument. Mocking atheists for being atheists is not an argument. If you’re one who does not have a problem with mockery, and to be fair, the Bible has no problem with it in many cases, then be sure that you also have the arguments to back it. Mockery, sarcasm, and satire are not to be your arguments. They are meant to be used, if you use them, as tools of argumentation but not the data itself.

Hopefully on both sides we can learn better argumentation. I have this strange dream that someday we’ll have debates where we only talk about topics that we’ve really seriously studied in debate. Unfortunately, as long as we think we are authorities because we have opinions, this will not happen. Yet I expect this most from the Christian community. I expect that we most of all will be fulfilling the life of the mind and engaging in areas where we have done our homework. It is no honor to our Lord to come to the debate not having done at least basic research. God is not obligated to give us knowledge because we have not done our part. That would in fact be encouraging laziness.

I also expect that too many people on both sides will hear this kind of advice on internet debates and ignore it entirely. This again is part of our modern problem as we consider ourselves exceptions to every rule out there.

If you want to honor Christ, be a student. Be a disciple. Be learning. Be reading both sides of the positions that you hold and love God with your mind. Sloppy thinking is no honor for the Christian to have.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Tim McGrew vs. Peter Boghossian

What did I think of the debate on Unbelievable? Let’s talk about it on the Deeper Waters Podcast.

Recently on the Unbelievable podcast hosted by Justin Brierley, there was a debate between Tim McGrew and Peter Boghossian. The subject was Boghossian’s book “A Manual For Creating Atheists” which I have reviewed here. It was my high hopes that Tim McGrew, a real professor of epistemology, would be the one to expose Boghossian before a listening world.

Request granted.

Boghossian could not reply to a single source that Tim McGrew had on the meaning of faith. Boghossian defined it as “belief without evidence” or “pretending to know things you don’t know.” McGrew defined it as “trust in evidence.” All Boghossian was able to use was his “personal experience” of talking to Christians. McGrew said his experience was different. Now of course, when two people get together who have different personal experiences, then they need to look for something outside of their personal experience. McGrew went to the Oxford English Dictionary and how it shows that faith is best to be understood as trust. Boghossian could not counter this nor did he ever even attempt to. For Boghossian, he was just repeating the same refrain again and again about what he encountered.

Now I don’t doubt that there are many Christians who have a false view of faith, but is that really the way to say you’re going to go around creating atheists? Boghossian says atheism is a result of criticalthinking. Of course, if atheism is true, critical thinkers should be atheists, but that is the very premise in question. Is atheism true and you don’t say “I’m an atheist, therefore I’m a critical thinker” or “X is a Christian, therefore X isn’t practicing critical thinking” nor could the reverse apply.

McGrew points out at the end that he could not define atheists as people are ignorant about reality because they deny God exists. Now of course, if God does exist, then atheists are ignorant about reality, but that would be a terrible way to define an atheist before the debate even gets started and every atheist should rightly call McGrew on that if he does that, as McGrew himself agreed.

Boghossian also asked McGrew if he had read the Koran which no doubt gave the shocking reply of “Yes.” He went on to name other holy books that he has read. I am quite confident in my position that McGrew has read far more scholarly works that he disagrees with than Boghossian has.

Boghossian also wanted to know if the Muslims believe without evidence that Muhammad flew on a horse. McGrew rightly answered that they do not. They point to what they think is the beauty and elegance of the Koran and conclude it is a divine work and then trust it. Is that conclusion right? Of course, McGrew and Boghossian and myself don’t think so, but that does not mean that Muslims lack a reason or what they think is evidence for their claims.

This is an important distinction McGrew kept coming back to. What matters most is what one counts as evidence and what is considered reliable. One could even agree with the conclusion and disagree with the evidence presented. Suppose I meet someone who is a Christian and says they are because the Holy Spirit just told them that Jesus rose from the dead. I would really want them to have something more than that, but I cannot deny that they have reached the right conclusion.

Boghossian wanted to know about the difference between faith and hope. McGrew pointed out that faith is when you’re willing to act in a way where you’re venturing something. You can’t absolutely 100% prove something but you’re going by evidence. This is a mistake I think Boghossian doesn’t realize. He had said you needed to examine every religious worldview before you could choose one. No. You just need sufficient evidence to choose one.

For instance, if that is the case, Boghossian no doubt considers himself a macroevolutionist, yet he has said he is not an evolutionary biologist. Before siding on his worldview, is he going to go out and examine every claim of say, young-earth creationism, before he’s willing to sign on the line of evolutionary biologist? He has said he is now studying the Koran. Does that mean he chose a position on God, namely that He does not exist, before studying all the evidence?

If the only way we can reach any decision is by studying all the evidence, no one will ever conclude anything. There are always books that are going to be unread. There will be arguments unheard and in fact, arguments unanswered. What one has to say is “On the whole, which explanation best explains all the evidence.”

To get back to faith and hope again, McGrew used the illustration of sky diving with the statistic that over 99% of people who jump out of a plane while skydiving land safely. The person who jumps is still venturing something. He needs more than just “I hope my instructor packed the parachute properly.” He needs to have good reason to think it was done that way. Then he acts and that act is referred to as faith. Boghossian is right one point. Faith is not an epistemology. He’s wrong on the point that he always treats it that way and unfortunately, his whole book is built on this false premise.

Also noteworthy is Boghossian’s view on how people of faith should be treated. Faith for Boghossian should be classified as a mental disorder and a virus of the mind and the person who is trying to reason someone out of their worldview is doing an intervention. It is hard to see how Boghossian is not just outright dehumanizing his opponents. For all the talk Boghossian has about practicing doxastic openness, it looks like he needs to learn some.

This means Boghossian is a bully and in fact, one of the worst kinds of bullies. He thinks those of us who are Christians are wrong. Okay. I get that. That is not being a bully. I have several friends who think the same way. What’s next is that he thinks that we automatically have a mental illness. This is when we start getting into bigotry. If that was where it stayed, that would be bad enough, but it is not. In his own book he says to treat faith as a public health crisis. He says that there are things we cannot do obviously due to freedoms we have here, like the freedom of speech, but it is scary to think about what Boghossian would do if he had power in a country like a Muslim country or in a place like Russia where those little restrictions didn’t get in the way.

Even worse is that Boghossian is not basing this on evidence. If his interventionist strategy works so well, why did it not work here? The simple reason is Boghossian is just highly uninformed and has unfortunately convinced himself that he is right. He is engaging in what I call atheistic presuppositionalism.

This is the idea that right at the start, he is right and a critical thinker by virtue of being an atheist. If anyone else disagrees, they are obviously not engaging in critical thinking and there must be some reason why they don’t see the light. Perhaps they are “Suppressing the truth in faithfulness” or “Their eyes are blinded by a bias they do not see and they need the scales removed from their eyes.” Either way, Boghossian knows he cannot be wrong because of his personal experience with walking his life of atheism for years and because of the inner testimony of his “voice of reason.”

In fact, it’s the same for some of Boghossian’s biggest fans who just can’t bring themselves to admit that Boghossian got, as one skeptic put it, his chickens slaughtered by McGrew. A sad example of such a fan who cannot seem to accept this reality can be seen here and you can see my comments to him on the blog.

Boghossian has strangely enough said he’s interested in a round two. We would like to see it, but it is certainly clear that Boghossian is going to have to improve his game dramatically before he steps into the ring again with McGrew. Perhaps it would help if Boghossian practiced more doxastic openness and avoided his idea of “Avoid facts.” For now, all he has his personal testimony while McGrew and those like him have data from scholarly sources. Therefore, by Boghossian’s own standards, Boghossian should be sitting at the kid’s table until he can bring forward some facts.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

New Resource: Defining Inerrancy

What’s the latest resource available from Deeper Waters? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters!

As readers of this blog know, I’ve been on the forefront of Norman Geisler’s attacks on my father-in-law, Mike Licona. I’ve been constantly at work showing that the criticisms don’t work and that in fact, Geisler’s approach as well as that of his followers will severely cripple the ability of the church to engage the culture. If anything will produce more Bart Ehrmans, it is the approach of Geisler.

Today, my ministry partner, J.P. Holding, and I have unveiled our latest work in this area bringing this out beyond just the blogs and YouTube. Now you can hold much of the information we’ve written as well as some new content in your hands, well, provided those hands have a Kindle or a tool that can read a Kindle.

May I introduce to you Defining Inerrancy!

This book is equipped to help you realize that not only do we hold to inerrancy, but that it can be defended without it having to be the style that Geisler and his company insist on. There is inerrancy that can stand proud recognizing the truths discovered through years of work and scholarship in the Gospels rather than one that will shun the academy and lead to a rigid fundamentalism.

Not only do we have excellent content in here, but we have a great foreword by Craig Blomberg himself. Blomberg in his foreword lays out the importance of the Ebook that we’ve written and why it is that he thinks that this battle matters as well.

The question in all of this has never really been about inerrancy, though some want to make it about inerrancy. It’s been more about how it is that the Bible is to be handled in this time. Geisler’s approach leads to a rigid literalism and disregards the work of the academy on grounds that no serious NT scholar will take seriously. You can be sure that the students who are taking Geisler’s work and embracing it might be able to intellectually somehow convince themselves that Ehrman is wrong, but they will not be able to convince others.

For a Christian to be able to defend the NT today, he’s going to need to be able to interact with modern NT scholarship and show from the viewpoint of scholarship when a case is wrong. Is there such a thing as bad NT scholarship out there? Just as much as there is bad theology and bad philosophy! What’s the antidote to this? It’s not to eliminate all NT scholarship any more than it is to eliminate all philosophy and theology. The antidote is good and sound scholarship. If your case is true, there will be evidence for that case.

I urge everyone to please go out today and pick up a copy of Defining Inerrancy and tell your friends about it as well. I hope that this volume will equip you to be able to go out and defend the truth of Scripture to a new generation and for that new generation.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 5/24/2014: Peter Davids

What’s coming up this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

For many of us, the meat of the NT is usually thought to be found in Paul, which is a shame since we usually avoid the Gospels in that way. We will then when we want our dose of information about the end times turn to the book of Revelation. In between are these epistles not nearly discussed so much called the Catholic Epistles.

Fortunately, that group doesn’t include the Deeper Waters Podcast.

That’s why I’m proud to bring on another person from Houston Baptist University. Davids serves there as the visiting professor of Theology.


In his own words….

“Born in 1947 in Syracuse, New York, of English extraction Peter Davids later moved with his family to Lynchburg, Virginia, where he graduated from E. C. Glass High School. He later went on the study at Wheaton College (BA in Psychology), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.Div.), and the University of Manchester (Ph.D., 1974). His first teaching position was in Germany. After being confirmed in the Anglican communion in 1976, he was founding faculty of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry near Pittsburgh, PA, where he was ordained in the Episcopal Church in 1979. It was while teaching there that his first book (James in the NIGTC) was published. He subsequently taught and ministered in Canada (1983 – 1996), Austria (1996 – 2002), Houston, Texas (2002 – 2006, 2011 – present) and again in Canada (2006 – 2010). He is currently Visiting Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University. He is the author or editor of more than 10 books, most of them covering the Catholic Epistles. He is also committed to church ministry, having been preaching since he was 15. While at Wheaton College, he married the former Judith Lee Bouchillon of Houston Texas, who is a pastoral counselor and spiritual director. Together they have had 4 children, three of them living, and now have 8, almost 9 grandchildren, all of whom live in Canada.”

And yes, almost 9 grandchildren because the latest one is due to come on May 30th? Will he cooperate and be born then? We don’t know, but congrats to the mother and father and to Davids as a proud grandparent.

Naturally, with eight epistles, we’ll only be scratching the surface, but I hope that we will say enough that it will inspire you to read the epistles yourself a bit more closely and come to realize that these parts of the Bible are just as much Scripture as the rest and be thankful that God put them in there for us to benefit from.

Now I’d like to be able to tell you that there’s a link you can go to directly to listen to the show and I’d like to tell you what the call-in number is, but this time, I do not know how. Somehow I am going to have to record this using a Skype recorder and then leave it to that to get up on ITunes or a place like that.

This has to be done because sadly, we do not have the donations coming in to do this. If anyone was interested, we can get a position on blogtalkradio for $40 a month or $400 a year. This is definitely what I would prefer as it is much easier and efficient, particularly for someone not technologically skilled like myself. If anyone wants to make that possible, please hit the donate button and let me know or go to, the ministry of Mike Licona and say you want to keep the Deeper Waters Podcast going as is. (Note that all donations to Risen Jesus have the benefit that we get every penny.)

Until that happens or I find the funding on my own to get the show up, that’s the way it’s going to have to be.

But I will be recording the show at the same time as always and let’s hope that I do it right! I hope that whenever it does go up, you’ll be listening as well!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Apostles’ Creed: The Third Day

Why does the text talk about the third day? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Christians have long held that Jesus died and rose again and when He rose again, He rose on the third day. What exactly does this mean? Why does the text phrase it this way? Note how 1 Cor. 15:4 phrases it.

“that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”

According to the Scriptures.

Now this has often been followed by our modern prooftexting idea where we will go and find the one text that Paul has in mind and see what we can get. Many people think they’ve found it in Hosea 6:1-2.

“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.”

Except that this refers to Israel in a different context. Now of course, this could apply in a dual-fulfillment later on to Jesus as the true Israel, but I am doubtful that Hosea had Jesus in mind when he wrote this passage. So what is it that is really being referred to by Paul?

The best explanation I know of is to go and do a search like I did through a tool like Bible Gateway. My results can be found here. I looked for the exact phrase, third day. Now some times it could mean purely chronology, like the third day of the creation week, but it’s interesting how often the third day is referred to in the Bible.

Now another objection can be raised that Jesus said He would be in the belly of the earth for three days and three nights. Evan Fales, an atheist, in fact in “Debating Christian Theism” writes an essay on the passage and goes into a long long piece explaining his opinion on the matter missing one simple piece that never occurs to him throughout his whole work.

This is a common idiom in the Middle East.

It does not require that Jesus be buried on Wednesday night. All it requires is one understand the social context. In fact, look at the references to the third day in the Scripture and see how many of them have three days and three nights and then talk about what happened on the third day. The Pharisees say the same thing about guarding the tomb of Jesus in the end of the Gospel of Matthew itself.

So what do we conclude? This is not classical prooftexting going on that we do today such as finding a chapter and verse. This is looking at a general theme that takes place in the Scriptures and saying that Jesus fits into the paradigm. What the ancients saw was an entire tapestry of Scripture of themes that could be readily reproduced and reenacted as it were. Perhaps we should learn something about much of our modern hermeneutics today because of this?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Apostles’ Creed: He Descended Into Hell

Why does the creed say that Christ descended into Hell? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

If there’s one part of the Apostles’ Creed that’s really problematic and the subject of debate, it’s this one. Some versions of the creed are said to not even include this part of it. Yet since it is in the one that I am using, I will be making some comments on it.

First, if I take Hell in the traditional sense, no. I do not think that Christ went there. Of course, many readers know that I have a different view on the nature of Heaven and Hell than most people do. It would not make sense for me to say Christ descended into Hell.

Yet I do hold to an intermediate state. I think there are several passages of Scripture that show this to be true. Paul talked about desiring to die and be with Christ and about being naked apart from the body. The thief on the cross was told about how that very day, He would be with Jesus in Paradise. (Yet another reason to think Christ did not literally go to Hell unless somehow Hell has become Paradise.)

Also, I think events like near-death experiences have shown that there is something more to man than just his body. These experiences cannot give us the furniture of Heaven or Hell, but I think they do pose a problem for a more naturalistic worldview.

Now there are many views on what happened to Christ. Some theologians have said that He did indeed descend into Hell and this way to release those who were there or else to proclaim his victory to those who were there, which could be two sides of the same coin.

Most of this comes from the passage found in 1 Peter 3:18-22 which is an extremely difficult passage to interpret and some commentaries even have an appendix in the back just meant to deal with this passage. Let’s make sure to keep in mind that while we hold that the Scripture is infallible in what it says, the creeds, as important as they are, are not necessarily. Yet even if we lost this phrase in the creed, it would be up to us to explain this passage of Scripture.

Some meanwhile think that the idea of descending into Hell is just a way of saying that he suffered death. This would be a parallel to the idea of death even if it is mentioned before burial. I really do not find this one persuasive however.

So what is my view? It’s important to keep in mind that we don’t want to do something like read Dante’s Inferno into the Creed. There’s no need to think about Jesus going into Hell to battle the devil one-on-one for instance.

What I would think of it as saying is simply that Jesus went to the realm of the dead, which was often described by the term “Sheol” in the Old Testament. I would be just fine with Him going to where the OT saints were and announcing the victory to lead them then into Paradise where He would be with the thief on the cross.

I am also not firmly settled on any of this as this is a difficult passage of the creed to interpret and there are many facets about this in-between time of Christ’s death and resurrection that we do not know about. Like other blogs, this is one I definitely welcome discussion on if you have your own theory.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response to Joseph Mattera

Is “God’s Not Dead” built on a faulty foundation? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Now it’s not a secret that I did like the movie “God’s Not Dead.” In fact, I wrote a positive review of it that can be found here. Does that mean the movie was perfect? Absolutely not! Does it mean it uses the arguments that I would use? Absolutely not! If I had been the one doing the writing, I would have used different approaches and arguments. For instance, I would not use science but I would use metaphysics and I would make the emphasis also be on the resurrection of Christ.

Still, as I said in my review, I am thankful that the conversation got started. Some people have critiqued the movie, but one critique that really points to a problem not in the movie but in some of the apologetics community is that of Joseph Mattera, the overseeing bishop of resurrection church in Brooklyn. His review can be found here.

Let’s go through and see what is said.

“The problem with this movie is that it bases the defense of Christianity on the false modern (Enlightenment) assumption that human reason is the final and highest arbiter of truth, thus setting it above God’s revelation of Himself in the Scriptures. Hence, this movie illustrates how the basic assumption of contemporary apologetics is faulty, because if our faith is upheld and proven by human reason, then unlearned Christian students attempting to use the arguments in this movie are also vulnerable in the future to an atheistic professor who could easily take advantage of their scientific and philosophical ignorance and poke holes through these basic arguments.”

Already, I hope many readers are realizing that there is a presuppositional bent here that is going to be more strongly seen as we go through this piece. So how does it start? It is the claim that human reason is the final arbiter of truth.

This is false. To begin with, what is meant by human reason? There is simply reasoning. Now someone might say “but God says that His thoughts are not ours nor are His ways our ways.” Yes. Do you know what that passage is about? It is about how God does forgive the wicked and love them, which is not the way that we do. It’s contrasting moral behavior. It’s not making a claim about knowledge.

I know a number of things that God knows. So do you. I know 2 + 2 = 4. So does God. I know that the world exists. So does God. I know that Jesus rose from the dead. So does God. I know that God exists. So does God. If God does not know these things, then we certainly cannot say that they are true for if they are not true in the mind of God, they are not true period. Truth seeking is ultimately just thinking God’s thoughts after Him.

Note also the irony here. The whole piece is in fact then saying “Your human reason cannot be the arbiter of truth and I am going to make a case that I want you to examine with your reasoning to see if it is true.” Now of course, there will be Scriptures presented, but how does one study the Scriptures? Does one study them reasonably or unreasonably? You cannot escape reason under any circumstances! Reason is not the enemy! Bad reasoning is the enemy!

Furthermore, we are not the arbiter of truth. If I reach the conclusion “God does not exist”, that does not mean that I have made it the case that God does not exist. It means I have made it the case that as far as I’m concerned, God does not exist. I do not determine truth, but I do determine what I will believe to be true.

Now could an atheistic professor poke holes through some philosophical and scientific arguments. Sure. Yet notice this. Any argument that is true cannot truly have a hole poked through it. A bad argument for that position could, but not a true argument. It could be of course that the person cannot defend the argument well or does not understand it, but the problem is not with the argument, but it is with the presenter and the critic of the argument.

What does that mean then? That we give up on arguments? Not at all! It means that we better study our arguments and that means that yes, we critique our own arguments. We who are apologists need to point out arguments that do not work. I don’t want to send someone out into the evangelism field with an argument that I think is faulty. That embarrasses the Gospel. I want to send them with an argument I think works.

“However, even more troubling is that even if a Christian wins a debate in apologetics, they really lost in the realm of ultimate truth, since they placed the foundation of the Bible upon modern empirical science, which means their presuppositions are actually the same as atheistic humanists. Christians who try to prove their faith by human reason have fallen into the false modern assumption that ultimate truth can be proven empirically by the five senses. Can you picture Jesus, the apostle Paul or the Old Testament prophets trying to bring conversions about by making a case for God based on contemporary human reason and science?”

Well actually, yes. Yes I can. Mattera’s inability to do so I think only shows a lack of imagination on his part. Jesus used parables and the events of the weather to talk about His generation and convey truths to them. He used truths they understood to explain truths they didn’t understand. Paul used the illustration of a seed in the ground to explain the resurrection. Rudimentary science of the day to be sure, but science nonetheless.

In fact, we can go further with Paul. Paul says the existence of God is made clear and how is that so? By the things that are seen. How do you get the knowledge of things that are seen? That’s done empirically, meaning with your five senses. One of the big mistakes of our age is assuming that empirical means scientific. All scientific thinking is empirical, but not all empirical thinking is scientific.

I also do think some ultimate truths can be known through the five senses. I think the existence of God can be known that way, such as through the five ways of Aquinas. Yet even Aquinas himself said that if it were not for special revelation, few would reach this knowledge and even then they would have it mixed with many errors. Practically the only one who got really close was Aristotle.

Yet Aquinas was an empiricist in the same tradition as Aristotle. He believed human reason could reach these truths, but he did not for a second discount the role of special revelation. His first section in the Summa is in fact on sacred science. Now Mattera is free to say he does not find the five ways convincing. He is also free to try to give a reason why and I am free to respond.

However, there are things that Aquinas would also agree could not be known through human reason and I would agree with him. Aquinas said human reason alone could not tell you that the universe had a beginning. While I might be iffy on that one, we would both agree that human reason could not tell you that God is a Trinity or that Jesus died for you. I may look historically and know Jesus died on the cross. History alone cannot tell me He died on that cross for my sins. I need God to say that to me.

It is part of Mattera’s mistaken dichotomy to think all knowledge of God comes through human reason or it comes through special revelation. I think the case of Paul in Romans 1 and 2 clearly rule out the latter position. Some knowledge comes through both places.

As for our presuppositions, my presupposition is that there is a world outside of my mind that exists and that human reason is generally reliable. If you doubt any of these, there is no other place to go for escape. You can never establish the material world exists if you start with being doubtful that it does. You can try to claim special revelation to say that it does, but why choose one revelation over another? If you deny reason right at the start, then you have no means by which to examine any case whatsoever. These must be granted or there can be no discussion. These are the same truths that are made clear to an atheistic thinker as much as a theist thinker.

“The innate and creational evidence for God is so great that the Bible never even attempts to prove His existence but starts the Scriptures by saying “In the beginning, God …” Psalm 14 says that the fool has said in his heart there is no God. Romans 1:21 teaches us that all professed unbelievers are really secret believers. The prophets of the Old Testament, along with the New Testament apostles, were able to spread faith due to the incredible power they had with God, due to earnestly seeking His face and speaking to people with prophetic power and conviction (1 Thess. 1:4-5). When Paul spoke at the Areopagus in Acts 17, he didn’t bother debating with his audience on their own philosophical grounds but assumed the biblical worldview, preached the risen Christ, and disparaged their prevailing polytheistic assumptions. Even when he quoted their poets, he quoted them in the context of the vortex of the biblical story without subsuming the biblical story to Greek philosophy!”

Much of this is true, but what if Paul had encountered a Richard Dawkins in his day. Are we to assume he would have just got out the Bible and preached to him from it? I suspect Paul would do what he did at Mars Hill. He would speak the language of Dawkins. Paul in speaking at the Areopagus never claims his audience is in denial. He instead makes a case based on evidence that they could see (Empirical) and leaves it to them to decide. (Human reason.)

Yes. The Bible never makes an argument for God’s existence, but technically, it never makes an argument for the resurrection, which is the central doctrine of Christianity. The Gospels are written to record that which was already known about Jesus for the church to have. They were meant to provide further certainty and not new information. 1 Cor. 15 starts off with the resurrection not to convince the Corinthians who already believed Jesus was risen, but rather to start off with the common ground in authorities that were trusted.

Nowhere in Paul do we find that people are suppressing the truth about the resurrection of Christ. That is not part of common knowledge and it would be bizarre to say the ancient Amalekites were suppressing the truth that Christ would rise from the dead.

“Furthermore, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:21 that the world through its own wisdom cannot know God. When we, as Christians, try to borrow from modernity and science to prove our faith, we actually lose the ultimate debate even if we win the temporary debate! At the end of the day, apologetics and science are OK as long as they are limited in their scope and their purpose is to understand the language of Babylon and inform our bridge-building conversations with humanists and atheists.”

Mattera unfortunately is unaware that Paul is using rhetoric very well in this passage to counter the claims of his opponents. What where those claims? They were the claims that a true Messiah would not be crucified and a true king would not be crucified. This is foolishness, but Paul says God uses what is foolish to instead shame the world and says Jesus is the Wisdom of God. (Which is quite a bit more since Jesus would be seen in Paul’s theology as the figure in Proverbs 8.)

Note also that I do not see the text as saying the world through its wisdom cannot know God but rather does not know God. It is not claiming knowledge of the existence of God can be known, but knowledge of the plan of God. With this, there would be no disagreement. If all you had was reason, you would not know God’s plan. That requires special revelation. Mattera is mistakenly thinking this passage is talking about the existence of God.

It’s nice to know that Mattera says apologetics and science are okay, but only as bridge builders. Now in part, I would say science cannot by itself get to the ultimate truth about God, because God is a metaphysical claim and not a physical one. Science can provide information, but the final gap is bridged by metaphysics. Apologetics can help get you there and that would be philosophical apologetics in this case. Yet keep in mind with the resurrection, apologetics is in fact defending what it is that God has already revealed. No historical apologist would say that by history alone, you could know the plan of God. You would need information from God’s side as well.

“If our faith rests upon ungodly Enlightenment presuppositions, we could be robbed of our prophetic power and could end up losing our faith since we are framing our beliefs on human reason, which assumes that logic has more weight than divine revelation. This also perpetuates human autonomy, which is the antithesis of both our faith and the biblical worldview.”

It presupposes nothing of the sort. With my metaphysical backing, I realize that my very existing lies in the hands of God. I cannot exist apart from Him. Without Him, I am nothing. In saying this, I am not saying logic has more weight than divine revelation. I am saying that divine revelation is logical and that if we use logic properly, we can understand it better. Note that logic by itself cannot get you truth. Logic can point out what is false, but it does not determine what is true. You need knowledge from the senses for logic to act on.

Mattera also says we could be in danger of losing our faith. If we do things wrongly, yes. If we also assume a presuppositional stance, we could be in just as much danger. Why not be a presuppositional Mormon? Why not be a presuppositional Muslim? Both groups would point to their Scriptures and could use analogous arguments.

“Lest anyone think I am promoting a form of fideism (faith without reason), I believe Christianity has a worldview that is the most logical and rational of all other worldviews. (Even an atheist has to assume theism when attempting to prove atheism since they have to borrow from the Christian worldview to function and even to debate, which is why some atheists admit they are “cultural Christians.”) One of the greatest proofs of the Bible is the impossibility of the contrary—that is to say, biblical Christianity makes the most sense in this world because it comports the closest to reality.”

And as anyone in the field knows, impossibility of the contrary is a code term that indicates a presuppositional approach. The problem is how many contraries are there? There is a potentially infinite number. He also says Christianity makes more sense because it comports the closest to reality. To this, I agree, but why should the atheist? The atheist obviously holds his view because he thinks it comports closer to reality. Doesn’t everyone? Who holds a worldview and would say “Yes. I am a Christian, but I do think the Koran has a better explanation of reality.” That would be bizarre.

But the question is, why should the atheist think this? The impossibility of the contrary? The atheist sees several several contraries and all of them have religion in common so hey, why not just chuck religion and go and be an atheist?

Furthermore, how does Mattera know this? He knows it by looking at reality and comparing it to the Bible, which is using reason and an empirical approach. How does he know his Bible is accurate? Using reason and textual criticism. How does he answer the objections the Bible is inaccurate? Using reason and historical criticism. In the end, I would say that Mattera actually uses my approach far more than he realizes.

Do I also agree the atheist has to borrow from the Christian worldview? Absolutely. Do I think that they do so knowingly? That would be nonsense. Contrary to what might be though, presuppositions do play a part in thinking. We must always watch ours. The problem with the presuppositional approach is it makes this central. Presuppositions are changed by evidence, which is why I take a more evidence-based approach.

“In spite of this, at the end of the day, all of our logic is circular since human reasoning is finite and subjective. (Only God is absolutely objective.) Thus, no one can prove or disprove the existence of God; the best a Christian can do is show probabilities. (God cannot be proved empirically. However the arguments for design and the supernatural make Christianity’s teachings the most likely to be true of all competing religions and humanistic beliefs.)”

And with this, Mattera shoots himself in the foot big time. If all our logic is circular, then his whole argument is circular and why should I care about it? Of course, this is also presuppositionalism at work. I do not at all hold that logic is circular. You are not using logic to prove logic. You are starting with logic because that is where we all must start.

And by the way, I do not think all a Christian can do is show probabilities. The five ways of Aquinas, for instance, are deductive arguments that if the premises are followed through will end in certainty. Historically, the arguments are probable, but if Christianity is true, the best research will end with Christian cases being far more likely.

“At the end of the day, if a person can be talked into becoming a Christian by clever logic-based apologetics, then someone else (e.g., an atheist) with more knowledge and skill in logic could come along and talk the new Christian out of their faith. This is why, according to John 3:3-5 and John 6:44, all humans need a personal/experiential encounter with the risen Lord Jesus in order to be truly converted!”

Yes. That is a danger. What is the solution? To abandon logical arguments? No. The solution is the Scriptural command to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. The solution is serious discipleship. If Christianity is true, a true look at evidence will support that. If someone reasons me out of it because it is false, I owe them my thanks and gratitude.

Ultimately also, Mattera’s position rests on something I cannot provide for myself. I cannot make Jesus act in an encounter with me. I cannot make myself have a grand experience with Jesus. I can however reason to the conclusion. I can assure Mattera there was a day and time I did confess to Christ my need for forgiveness and ask Him to be my savior. My certainty of that encounter however was greatly enriched by my study of philosophy and history. Could someone have talked me out of it in that time? Perhaps, and I can show him many ex-Christians who have been talked out of it. (And I consider it a cop-out that all of those Christians were conveniently never Christian to begin with. By that standard, I don’t think any of us could know we’re Christians today.)

I conclude that the problem with Mattera lies in his approach that is really contrary to Scripture and would be fine at convincing people who agree with him, but will not work outside of that. I find that presuppositionalism too often spends more time defending itself than Christianity. I certainly hope one day Mattera realizes this and goes for a more classical approach that has served the church well for centuries.

In Christ,
Nick Peters