Can Your Christianity Be Disproven?

Are you open to the possibility of being wrong? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let me state it right at the start. I am not doubting Christianity. I am not writing from a position of doubt. I am convinced that God exists and that Jesus rose from the dead. Despite that, I should always be open to being wrong. This hit home again for me reading Zondervan’s Five Views On Biblical Inerrancy.

Al Mohler has the first chapter and in it, he pretty much equates inerrancy with the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, or CSBI. For Mohler, it seems difficult to imagine inerrancy that does not conform to this statement and if Jesus and Paul or anyone else is an inerrantist, then they would have signed on entirely with the CSBI. That is too much of an assumption I think to make, but a major problem came when I read his response to problem passages that Zondervan asked each person to write on.

In the Kindle version at location 772, I read the following:

Archaeologists will disagree among themselves. I am not an archaeologist, and I am not qualified to render any adequate archaeological argument. The point is that I do not allow any line of evidence from outside the Bible to nullify to the slightest degree the truthfulness of any text in all that the text asserts and claims. That statement may appear radical to some readers, but it is the only position that is fully true and trustworthy. Any theological or hermeneutical method that allows extrabiblical sources of knowledge to nullify the truthfulness of any biblical text assumes, a priori, that the Bible is something less than the oracular Word of God.

Well, yes. This position is very radical. Naturally, if the Bible is inerrant and is true in all it claims and teaches, then if it says X, then X is true. Yet at the same time, if God is the God of reality and has written two books as it were with nature and Scripture, then we should expect that nothing outside of Scripture will contradict Scripture.

The problem is that this is the very claim under question. How do we know the Bible is inerrant? Do we start with that as a presupposition or do we reach it as a conclusion? If we say the former, why do this with the Bible and not the Koran or the Book of Mormon?

Let’s picture Al Mohler in a discussion with a Mormon. This Mormon holds to the position on the Book of Mormon that Mohler holds to on the Bible. Mohler goes and points out many archaeological difficulties with the Book of Mormon. The Mormon does not change his position. Why? Because he says he won’t allow any line of evidence from outside the Book of Mormon to conflict with the Book of Mormon.

Now Mohler goes to a Muslim. The Muslim is convinced that the Koran says that Jesus did not get crucified or die on a cross. Mohler goes to several lines of evidence to show that Jesus was crucified, but the Muslim is unconvinced. After all, no line of evidence outside of the Koran is allowed to contradict the Koran.

Are the Muslim and Mormon being unreasonable here? Yep. The sad thing is, so is Mohler. What is being said is a way of saying the double-theory of truth is true. By this, something could be true in the world outside of the Bible and something else contradictory true in the Bible. May it never be!

This is also one reason why I don’t say something like “Show me the bones of Jesus and I’ll abandon Christianity.” If we were to hypothetically say that Jesus never rose from the dead, it seems strange to think that not only would His bones be here, but that we could tell they were His bones. I instead ask people to give me a better explanation for the rise of the early church than the one that the church itself gave that explains the data agreed to by critical scholars.

If we want to evangelize people, it is disingenuous for us to tell them that they must be ready to abandon their worldview and accept ours upon conflicting evidence, but we are not doing the same. Some might think that that is a risk. It is only a risk if you think that Christianity could be false. If you are convinced you are right, it is not a risk. Even if you turned out to be wrong, you should be thankful. After all, who wants to believe something that is false?

I cannot go with the position of Mohler. I am convinced it is a blind faith and it makes inerrancy the central doctrine when the resurrection is. I believe in the Bible because I believe in the resurrection. I do not believe in the resurrection because I believe in the Bible.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Strange Tales About Jesus

What do I think about Per Beskow’s book published by Fortress Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the benefits of reading books is usually you can get the clue to one of the next ones to read. When I read David Marshall’s Jesus Is No Myth, I saw him talk about Per Beskow’s book about strange ideas about Jesus like Him going to India. That is an area of interest to me so I decided to look it up at the local library.

Beskow’s book is quite short, but it says enough. There are a number of different myths in there. I was quite surprised to see him even being willing to take on the Book of Mormon. Others include the Gospel of Barnabas, the Gospel of Peace, leaflets from Heaven, and the idea that Jesus was a magician.

Beskow will go through each of these and give a brief historical account. Then he’ll give the reasons why he thinks that it is a forgery. He will also explain the impact that each of these works has had and who has used it as if it was an authoritative source.

If you have heard a bizarre claim about Jesus that was before the publication date of 1983, it could be in here. Some of them are put together. There is a chapter on whether Jesus went to India or not. At the end of that, Beskow gives a paragraph that along the same lines, there is a claim that Jesus went to Japan and married and had kids and died at the age of 106 and to this day, that is still celebrated annually by some in Japan.

Most of these were done by amateurs, but one possible exception is the Secret Gospel of Mark. The only person who has seen the manuscripts that describe the account is Morton Smith. Today, we have more information that leads some scholars to think not only is it a forgery, but one done by Smith himself.

Chances are, you will also find one that’s new to you. I had not heard of the Leaflets from Heaven for instance. It also shows us that our day and age is not really new. It’s nothing new that people are going around sharing ideas without checking their validity. The danger is that it’s now all the easier to do so.

Which leads us to a need for today. We need some more people like Per Beskow to deal with the even newer strange tales about Jesus. Keep in mind we’re not just talking about false beliefs about Jesus that are well within the field of scholarship. We’re talking about ideas that are sensational and depend on isolated “discoveries” that strangely never seem to get to be seen by anyone else. Many of our new age accounts of Jesus today would be included.

The book is a good short read. Each chapter could be read in a few minutes and if you just want to go to one claim in particular, that can be done. A work like this could help end a lot of the nonsense that one sees regularly shared on the internet.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/19/2015: Rob Bowman

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

It’s a nice Saturday morning and you’re sitting at home when you hear the doorbell ring. You go and open the door to find two men dressed in nice black pants and white shirts and with black name badges saying that they are elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Who are these people? They are awfully nice to most of us, but are they really Christians? They’re normally known as Mormons and much of their history has had an air of mystery all around it.

Some of that mystery has recently been unveiled. The Mormon church has released photos of the seer stone used by Joseph Smith in supposedly translating the Book of Mormon. What does this mean for Mormonism today? What do Christians need to know about it? What do Christians need to know about Mormons overall? While I have had an interest in Mormonism before, being in Charlotte and being regularly visited by them and debating them on TheologyWeb, it’s not the area I focus on, so why not bring on someone who knows more about Mormons? That someone is someone who was on the show early on and is coming back for his second visit. That is Rob Bowman.

So who is Rob Bowman?

Rob Bowman

And according to his bio:

Robert M. Bowman Jr. is the executive director at the Institute for Religious Research in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The organization’s website is IRR.org. Rob has lectured on biblical studies, religion, and apologetics at Biola University, Cornerstone University, and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of about over sixty articles and the author or co-author of thirteen books including Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ and Faith Has Its Reasons: Integrative Approaches to Defending the Christian Faith. He holds the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and South African Theological Seminary.

The story of the stone is really big news coming from the Mormon church and this gives us a good chance to discuss this movement. We will talk about the history of Mormonism from this point. We could get into discussions on the nature of the golden plates. After all, many critics of Christianity say that the golden plates were seen by eyewitnesses just like the risen Christ was said to do and these eyewitnesses supposedly did not recant their testimony. Is that accurate? What are the likely ramifications of the Mormon church for this? What do we see happening in the future of Mormonism and how can Christians best answer and prepare to answer the Mormons who come to their door?

I hope you’ll be tuning in to this episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast as we talk about Mormonism and what the latest news means for Christians and for Mormons alike. Rob Bowman is a highly diligent researcher in every topic he discusses and you won’t be disappointed hearing him.

In Christ,
Nick Peters