Further Responding to Jim Hall

How do we deal with common objections? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So do you remember Jim Hall? You don’t? Yeah. His work is pretty unforgettable, but he’s the guy who wrote a book which is not worth your time to read at all and I reviewed. I shared my review with him publicly on Facebook and he has yet to respond to it at all. Instead, he has told me I am intellectually dishonest. On what grounds? Well, none have been given. Recently on someone’s wall he made a list of claims that are common I figured I’d respond to here just because I can and I know again, he won’t respond.

Objection #1:There are over 60 gospels, only four were arbitrarily added to the Bible.

Yes. Arbitrarily added. Of course, Hall will never ever dare read a book like Charles Hill’s Who Chose The Gospels? Nope. That requires research. He won’t look and say “Hmmm. Who were the ones the earliest church fathers were pointing to?” We find extremely early on Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John being put out on display. Why is this? Because these were seen to be the most reliable by the church and connected to apostles.

As for arbitrarily chosen, by who? Perhaps Hall buys into the myth that these books were voted on at the Council of Nicea. Good luck finding evidence for that. It’s a common myth, but there is nothing that has been produced from the Council itself saying it. As Ehrman says:


Ehrman on the NT Canon and the Council of Nicea. Widespread Misconceptions about the Council of Nicea (For Members)

One of the reasons I’m excited about doing my new course for the Teaching Company (a.k.a. The Great Courses) is that I’ll be able to devote three lectures to the Arian Controversy, the Conversion of the emperor Constantine, and the Council of Nicea (in 325 CE). It seems to me that a lot more people know about the Council of Nicea today than 20 years ago – i.e., they know that there *was* such a thing – and at the same time they know so little about it. Or rather, what they think they know about it is WRONG.

I suppose we have no one more to blame for this than Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code, where, among other things, we are told that Constantine called the Council in order to “decide” on whether Jesus was divine or not, and that they took a vote on whether he was human or “the Son of God.” And, according to Dan Brown’s lead character (his expert on all things Christian), Lee Teabing, “it was a close vote at that.”

That is so wrong.

There are also a lot of people who think (I base this on the number of times I hear this or am asked about it) that it was at the Council of Nicea that the canon of the New Testament was decided. That is, this is when Christian leaders allegedly decided which books would be accepted into the New Testament and which ones would be left out.

That too is wrong.

So here’s the deal. First, the canon of the New Tesatment was not a topic of discussion at the Council of Nicea. It was not talked about. It was not debated. It was not decided. Period. The formation of the canon was a long drawn-out process, with different church leaders having different views about which books should be in and which should be out. I can devote some posts to the question if anyone is interested (I would need to look back to see if I’ve done that already!).

Short story: different church communities and Christian leaders preferred different books because they (the communities and leaders) had different understandings of what the faith was and should be – even within the orthodox community there were disagreements.

The *first* author ever to list *our* 27 books and claim that *these* (and no others) were “the” books of the New Testament was the bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius, in the year 367 (45 years *after* the council of Nicea!) in a letter that he wrote to the churches under his control to whom he was giving his annual episcopal advice. And even that did not decide the issue: different orthodox churches continued to think that some books should be in, for example, that didn’t make it in (e.g. 1 and 2 Clement; the Shepherd of Hermas; the Letter of Barnabas).

There never was a church council that decided the issue – until the (anti-Reformation, Roman Catholic) Council of Trent in the 16th century!

We can also point out that when we look at the earliest opponents of Christianity, such as Celsus, what do they respond to? Yep. The four Gospels.

Finally, let’s see what Bart Ehrman says about this:

If historians want to know what Jesus said and did they are more or less constrained to use the New Testament Gospels as their principal sources. Let me emphasize that this is not for religious or theological reasons–for instance, that these and these alone can be trusted. It is for historical reasons pure and simple. (Ehrman, The New Testament, page 215)

Objection #2: None of the Bible authors ever actually met Jesus face-to-face.

Again, no evidence is given of this. It’s an assertion. Could it be true? Perhaps. Does he respond to someone like, say, Richard Bauckham with his work Jesus and the Eyewitnesses? Nope. Not a bit. No historians are cited.

Atheists like Hall often make these statements of faith. How would they establish that? Again, Hall gives us no reason to believe that.

Objection #3: The gospels were written anonymously, at least 30 years after the crucifixion.

Let’s suppose they were anonymous, although Martin Hengel disagrees. So what? Many works from the ancient world were anonymous. That doesn’t mean we have no idea about who the author is. E.P. Sanders has a reason also why they were anonymous.

The authors probably wanted to eliminate interest in who wrote the story and to focus the reader on the subject. More important, the claim of an anonymous history was higher than that of a named work. In the ancient world an anonymous book, rather like an encyclopedia article today, implicitly claimed complete knowledge and reliability. It would have reduced the impact of the Gospel of Matthew had the author written ‘this is my version’ instead of ‘this is what Jesus said and did.’  – The Historical Figure of Jesus by E.P. Sanders page 66.

Furthermore, the Pastoral epistles are not anonymous and say they are by Paul. Does that mean that skeptics immediately jump on that and say “Hey! Paul wrote those!”? No. Why should I think a name on the Gospels would be any different?

Objection #4: Luke/Acts is widely agreed upon to have been written around 80CE.

Again, no evidence for this whatsoever. Hall gives no information to believe this claim. I also find it hard to believe that the author of Luke/Acts would say absolutely nothing about the death of Paul, Peter, or the destruction of Jerusalem. Now again, I could be mistaken in my belief, sure, but Hall doesn’t give me any evidence to go by.

Objection #5: If Harry Potter was the most-studied book in history, that still wouldn’t make it true.

I don’t know anyone who is saying the Bible is true because it is the most studied book in all of history. I have no idea what Hall is trying to establish with this claim. Let’s move on to the next.

Objection #6: There is no moral teaching in the Bible that cannot also be found in much older religions’ texts.

Reply: So what? The Bible is true because it contains some unique moral teaching? Morality is common knowledge that is meant for all men. You don’t need the Bible to know it.

Objection #7: “Positive impact on the world”? It has been cited for centuries to justify slavery and the subjugation of women.

Reply: Yes. The Bible has been misused. So what? Evil people misuse good things constantly. The Bible has also been used to end slavery repeatedly and to raise up women. That is never mentioned. Hall is free to find a nation untouched by the Bible at all where he would rather live if he thinks things are so awful in places the Bible has reached.

Again, I know Hall will not respond. He can claim I’m intellectually dishonest all he wants, but that will not work as well as just responding to the claims. Show I am wrong on something and I will accept it. We’ll see if that happens, but don’t hold your breath on it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/20/2019

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

Since the dawn of humanity, there have been two things that I think we can say have been readily apparent.

#1. Men and women need to come together or else the human race is doomed.

#2. Men and women have a really hard time knowing how to relate to one another.

Today we have the church and we know that in Christ there is supposed to be no male and female. Yet still, there are difficulties. There are so many passages that seem to put women in a lower place and at the same time, we don’t want to make sure the church isn’t just kowtowing to the culture.

How are we to do this? Don’t the Scriptures say that a woman is to submit to her husband? Don’t they say that she’s supposed to keep quiet in the church as in all the churches and learn from her husband at home? Isn’t it the case that a woman is not supposed to teach or have authority over a man?

Yet at the same time, we have these other passages. What about 1 Corinthians 7? Is it really the case that man is the head except in bed? How are we supposed to relate? If we say there is complete equality, could we open the door elsewhere? Could it be that there is no distinction between men and women, maybe we open the door for the approval of homosexual practice?

What about women pastoring a church? Can women even lead Bible studies? Is it acceptable for women to teach women but not men? But if a husband and wife wanted to teach together, say a marriage seminar, could that be done?

And if we go to the Bible, don’t we see women in places of teaching? Don’t we see Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos in the Bible? What about Phoebe in the letter to Romans? What about Junia? Didn’t the Lord Himself associate with women and let them be the first witnesses to His resurrection and teach them?

We’ll be discussing this debate on my podcast this week. To do that, I am bringing on a guest who is not a scholar in the field, but using legal examination tactics, has written a book engaging with the best scholarship out there. His work will definitely give both sides something to think about. The book is Men and Women in Christ and the author is Andrew Bartlett.

So who is he?

1973 BA in Law, Oxford University
1974 Called to the Bar of England and Wales. Practised until 2019.

1988 Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
1993 Appointed Queen’s Counsel
From 2001 Various part-time judicial positions in UK while continuing in practice as a barrister
2012 BA in Theology, University of Gloucestershire

Current work:
Mainly as an international arbitrator

Christian background:
Did not grow up in a Christian family. Became a Christian as a teenager.
I have served in various churches as an elder or churchwarden.

I hope you’ll be listening to this latest episode. I am still working on getting the latest ones uploaded. The website is having some problems, but I hope to have it fixed soon.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On Forgiveness

What is the big deal with forgiveness? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Forgiveness is always something we seem to struggle with. One of the most popular posts I have written concerns the issue of if someone’s murderer will be in heaven. Also, I have written about if Jeffrey Dahmer is in heaven or not. With skeptics, if God punishes sin, He’s in the wrong. If God forgives sin, He’s in the wrong.

When it comes to us, we always think there has to be a catch. No one just forgives. In reality, this is the Christian way. This is what we are all told to do. Why should we though?

To begin with, everyone of us who are Christians has been forgiven. We have been forgiven of divine treason. Whenever we have sinned, we have in essence been saying that we wish God was dead. We have denied something about Him to be true. We have called into question who He is.

That’s a serious charge.

Yet we are forgiven. Forgiveness was offered when we did not seek it. We definitely did not deserve it. We definitely did not earn it. There was no obligation to provide a way of forgiveness to us. God could have let us all go our own way and go to Hell and have it be He and His angels in eternity together and no one could have said, “You did wrong.”

Forgiveness cannot be earned. If it could, it’s not really forgiveness. Forgiveness, like love is a gift. What does it mean?

To forgive does not mean that there are no consequences to the action. There may be. There may not be. You can forgive someone who abused your kids. It doesn’t mean you’re going to hire them immediately to be your babysitter.

What it means is there is no personal debt they owe to you. The relationship may or may not return to normal. Sometimes it does, but it takes time, such as in cases of infidelity.

If we are hesitant to forgive though, it is because we do not realize what we have been forgiven of. We are the person in the parable of the unforgiving servant who refuse to show mercy despite the great mercy that has been shown to us.

If we put a catch on forgiveness, then we are not realizing what we have been forgiven of. Is that risky? Yes. Is it hard? Absolutely. Do we want to push against it? Yep. We have to let go of any desire for revenge or to teach someone a lesson.

As I said though, forgiveness does not mean no consequences. Someone can be in prison and come to Jesus for forgiveness, and they will still be in prison. Someone can forgive someone for murdering a loved one, but that doesn’t mean the state will drop charges. We can choose to forgive. We cannot choose the consequences.

Forgiveness is also freeing not just for the other person, but for the forgiver. It’s a way of ending the cycle of retaliation. It’s a way of letting bygones be bygones and work towards and restoration that can be of the relationship.

I also consider it important to wait for the other person to ask for forgiveness first. The gift of repentance is a great gift to give. That being said, one should always have the attitude of forgiveness. It is not always wise to approach someone you need to forgive. Sometimes, you might not be able to, such as if the person has died. Sometimes, it could be risky, such as if the person has hurt you in some serious way such as abuse. Have in your heart the mindset of forgiving them, but let them approach you before you pronounce forgiveness.

If someone says they forgive you also, try to forgive them, and if they bring it up again, let them know they gave forgiveness. Work on rebuilding the relationship if it is possible. It depends on how much the relationship is valued, but God is in the business of doing things like that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is Love Deserved?

Can someone earn love? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There is a thought I have been pondering lately about the love of God. When I hear someone complain about the God of the Old Testament and the claims of genocide and such, I always ask what God owes anyone. After all, does God anyone any moment of life whatsoever? God can take anyone’s life and be just in doing so.

What about us today in the times since the New Testament? What are we owed? Necessarily, nothing. The only thing God will have to give us is something that He has promised us, not because we deserve it, but rather because He is a covenant God who keeps His promises.

What about love? We live in a society where love is often conditional, which makes sense since we are fallen human beings. This is a world where too often marriages fall apart. We often have a hard time thinking that there is love that is unconditonal.

There is. This does not mean some sort of universalism where everyone gets accepted into heaven in the end then because God loves everyone. God loves them and respects their choice to want nothing to do with Him in this life and be excluded from the blessings of the covenant. God being loving does not mean a warm sentimentality where everyone gets to feel good about themselves in the end.

This also puts us in a strange position since we are used to earning love. Today, we have to win someone’s heart for their affections. In a sense, this is understandable. After all, you don’t give your heart to just anyone. There are degrees of trust in relationship and love never means putting up with abuse.

With God, it’s vastly different. The love is unconditional. This doesn’t mean we get special privileges for being a Christian either. We can spend ages in the presence of God and we still will not deserve the love of God. After all, that would mean that at some point God owes us His love. He won’t. He doesn’t.

Love from God is always a gift. It is based more on who He is. The idea of Scripture is while we were enemies, God still loved us and gave His Son for us. We can never make up for it. We can never do enough good that it is owed. Love is not ever going to be a debt just as grace and forgiveness aren’t debts.

How this works out on a horizontal level is more difficult, but it is the kind of love that we should strive for. We can often put conditions on love that are needless to make sure that we are protected. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to hurt, but we can be so protective we also cut off love.

But when you pray, please keep in mind that love is not earned. God’s love for you is always a gift. You will never just be so awesome and special that you will deserve the love of God. After all the ages, you will still not deserve the love of God. God will always be giving you a gift in the gift of Himself.

Keep in mind you also never lose the love. The love is always a gift. A gift is not earned. It is freely given. Enjoy the gift.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts On Comic-Con

What can be learned at a place like Comic-Con? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This past weekend, my wife and I went to Comic-Con together. If you don’t know, it’s a convention where people who like comics, anime, sci-fi, video games, those kinds of things, all get together. Some people come in costumes dressed as popular characters known as cosplaying.

For me, my big honor was getting to meet David Yost who played the original blue power ranger on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Allie got to meet Sean Schemmel who does the voice of Goku on Dragonball. Goku was a hero of hers growing up which was a major honor.

We did meet one person who had a stall set up with a comic series he has that is Christian-based and chatted with him briefly. Other than that, I didn’t really see much in the terms of religious reference there. However, while religion isn’t explicitly there, let’s mention that many of these people are fans of series that do not kowtow to a materialistic view of the universe. These are universes where magical beings roam. Sure, it may not be God, but there is an openness.

There is also the reality that bullying really doesn’t go on at these conventions. Now, of course, I haven’t been to every convention, but when I have, people are really friendly and open to each other. People don’t hesitate to speak with one another.

These people are at a place where in many instances, they are free to be themselves. There is a great openness there. It kind of makes me wonder what it would be like if that could happen in a church. What if we could come to a church and share what is really going on in our lives and do so without fear of judgment? I’m not saying at ComicCon people gather together and spill their guts, but we all unite around our common interests there. We share a common passion and it’s easy to speak to people when you share that common interest.

Now supposedly at a church, we’re all supposed to share a common interest, and that is the interest of following Christ. We are all supposed to be chasing after God and pursuing holiness together. Yet for some reason, there doesn’t often seem to be that same kind of togetherness there.

As I said, there was one guy doing Christian comics, but what if we did have more of a Christian presence at places like anime conventions and comic cons and places like Dragon Con and others? These people need to hear the gospel as well. Thankfully, there are some people like Vic Mignogna, a popular voice actor, at these places sharing a Christian light, but they are the exception.

The harvest is ripe. Your neighbor is right next door to you. He might be dressed up as Deadpool, but he is still your neighbor.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Can We Trust The Gospels?

What do I think of Peter J. Williams’s book published by Crossway? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This book is a short read on the reliability of the Gospels. Don’t be deceived by its size. It is small, but it puts forward a succinctly powerful argument. Williams has written a book that is useful for the layman and yet incredibly scholarly at the same time.

It starts with just looking at bare facts about Christianity from outside of the New Testament. The information about Tacitus, Josephus, and Pliny the Younger, with an emphasis on Tacitus, is extremely helpful. Williams doesn’t spend time arguing with the idea that Jesus never existed, but he could have it in his sights.

Don’t think that means the information is light. It’s quite good and Williams still deals with popular objections, such as the spelling of the reference of Christ when it comes to the writings of Tacitus. Tacitus is probably the best extra-Biblical source we have on the base existence of Jesus and it’s quite helpful.

He then moves to an overview of the Gospels. This discusses what they are, why they are, and when they were written. Each of these chapters is short enough to read on its own, though reading the book as a whole will be more rewarding.

Then we move into Gospel reliability. In this, Williams leans heavily on Bauckham, and for good reason. This is the longest chapter, but it also contains a number of charts to help catalog the information. Williams looks at details like names, geography, finances, and even botany, to show that the Gospel authors did not make things up and were not writing from a standpoint where they were unfamiliar with the area.

Williams also looks at the idea of undesigned coincidences, made especially famous by the recent work of Lydia McGrew. This is not an extensive look, but it is a sufficient look. You could say this chapter is meant to pique your interest and if it succeeds, you could look into the research of McGrew on this.

From there, we get more into if we have the words of Jesus and if the text has been changed. Again, these chapters are short, but they contain a lot of really good information on the subject. I really encourage you to consider reading this even if you are knowledgeable on the subject. Williams has material that you won’t find in your regular apologetics book.

There is a brief chapter on contradictions and then one asking why this stuff would be made up. This last one ends with a powerful appeal to consider really recognizing who Jesus is and taking Him seriously. Naturally, that includes an argument for His resurrection.

This book is a gift to the church and one that skeptics will also need to take seriously. The layman will greatly appreciate how helpful and scholarly it is. The experienced apologist will appreciate having a brief guide to several key facts on the Gospels. Bottom line is to get this book and read it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Should You Live Together Before Marriage?

Don’t you need to see if you will work out? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Go back a few decades in time and it would have been taboo to be pregnant before you were married. There was just this idea that if you are pregnant out of wedlock, you have done something wrong. That doesn’t mean that the treatment of such a person was always right, but we did recognize the wrong.

In a couple of decades, things have changed. Now not only is it entirely acceptable to many, but many couples are also living together before they get married. This includes nowadays people who are Christians and get divorced and then do so before they remarry, or people who are Christians and haven’t been divorced, but they are sleeping together without marriage. You can hear a news story about a woman and her boyfriend living together spoken of so casually.

Yes. It is a big deal. Something we have lost sight of is that Christianity entails a certain sexual ethic. One such rule is that sexual intercourse is to be reserved only for marriage. Some might say we’re going to live together, but we’re not going to have sex. Yeah. Just keep fooling yourself. You’ll sleep in the same house together and shower in the same house together and all that, but nope, sex will never happen.

Some people will say marriage is a big deal, of which they are right. They will say that one should not make the decision lightly, which is again right. Then comes forward the analogy that they use. You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive would you?

The question has to be asked who is the driver and who is the car? In each case, the person is asking if the other person is capable of meeting their needs. Marriage is much more about meeting the needs of the other person instead of getting your own needs met. If both parties work at that, they all get their needs met.

If the driver decides they don’t want the car, the car won’t tell. A person will care. A person will care if they have been rejected as they are while giving all that they have. This is one reason why it’s so especially devastating on girls when a guy they love will sleep with them and then dump them the very next day.

Sexuality is something too beautiful and too sacred to treat as a test or to treat as no big deal. There is something awesome and magical going on when a person gives someone else so much trust with their whole body. When a person is giving sex, it is a way of saying they are giving themselves entirely. Women especially need to realize this since they usually set the standards.

There are exceptions of course, but normally the men are the pursuers and unless they’re willing to rape, they take no for no, although they could beg and plead some before finally accepting. Women are normally the determiners then of if sex will happen and when a woman says yes before marriage, she has said what has to be done to get all of her. What is she worth? Dinner? Three dates? A month? A year? Engagement? Perhaps instead, full marriage?

When you live together, you are not upholding the Christian sexual ethic and as Paul said in 1 Cor. 6, sexual sin is in a different category. He who sins sexually sins against his own body. It is essentially testing each person and treating the relationship as a contract instead of a covenant.

Ladies. You’re the big losers here. Guys who move in with you get what they want, the sex, without the cost that they want, the commitment. They can pack up and go at any time and you are the ones who are living most often in fear of that. Guys don’t have to worry about being stuck with alimony and get their fun in at the same time. You’re not giving them incentive to commit. You’re removing incentive. Want to give them incentive? They only get to have their fun if they make that commitment to you.

This is also why sexual refusal is so painful in marriage. For a guy, it is them getting a message that they are still not good enough. This is not to say a woman can never say no, but there’s a reason Paul encourages couples to make the withholding something mutual and only for a short time. Paul knew what he was talking about.

Also, I really don’t think that anyone who is living together with someone of the opposite sex without marriage should be in a position of Christian leadership at all. We are often rightly fighting the marriage battle for marriage being a man and a woman. It does not help us if our own leadership is living like marriage is no big deal. They either get married or one of them moves out. Save sex for the marriage bed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Stranger Things And Christianity

Does Stranger Things have anything to teach us about the world we live in?

(Possible spoilers in the post and comments)

My wife is a major fan of the Netflix series Stranger Things. We had to use a free trial this time around to watch the season that came out on Independence Day, but we did watch it and we weren’t disappointed. Season 2 had honestly been a let down to us. Season 3 made up for it.

Old Testament scholar Michael Heiser has a book coming out in October about Christianity and Stranger Things. One of the things I think that will be in that book based on the description is the openness of the world of the show to what we would call the paranormal. In this world, you have a number of science nerds who come together and fight a being from another side of reality.

If you don’t know, the series takes place in the 80’s and involves a group of boys that somehow have one of their members get trapped in a world called the Upside-Down where strange creatures live that are starting to make a move onto our world. The boys have to work together normally with their siblings and select adults in the community. They also work with one character who essentially has super powers such as telekinesis and a sort of projection of themselves into other places.

I do like the show being set in the 80’s since I was born in 1980 and grew up in that time. It’s also good to know the heroes at the start are a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons nerds who find themselves going on a real adventure against a real monster. There are also other aspects that I think are interesting.

A few years ago, I wrote a post on Final Fantasy XV here. In it, I talked about how some heroes go about saving the world they live in while many people are living their lives oblivious to what is going on. The same happens in Stranger Things. There is one difference in the people who do come together to confront the evil.

In the seasons, normally, you see different story arcs taking place. They seem unrelated at first, but in the end, everything comes together. There is normally one final confrontation with the evil and of course, the good guys win. Keep in mind also that in many ways, most of these are ordinary people. They don’t dream of doing anything super heroic, but when the time comes, they fight and win.

It’s also people from all walks and ages. You have at first the younger children who are now just really entering puberty. Their older siblings also eventually get involved. The parents also play a part in what happens, and then various people in the community. About the only one who might expect to do something heroic in the party is the police chief.

Aside from the one superpowered character who goes by the name Eleven, there is nothing specifically amazing about these characters. Despite that, they are not stopped whether it be facing Russian spies or Upside Down monsters. They all do what they have to do because evil has to be stopped.

There is certainly a reason this is a hit series and I look forward to Heiser’s book coming out. Until then, perhaps like was discussed with Final Fantasy XV, we should consider we have been put on this Earth also to help deal with evil here as well and we don’t have to have super powers to do it. Everyone of us has a role we can play.

Play yours.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Men and Women In Christ

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

This book is about the different viewpoints of complementarians and egalitarians. I will state upfront that I consider myself to be much more of a soft complementarian. I do believe in men leading, but at the same time, when it comes to the household, if a man is the king of his castle, his wife gets treated like a queen.

Bartlett approaches the question not wanting to take either side and using a more judicial approach to looking at the issues. This is really a very interesting read where you will think you have a good argument for a position and Bartlett has a way of slicing right through it. Practically every issue in the debate is covered.

Bartlett has also done his homework well. He knows the views of some of the fathers, such as Chrysostom. He has also looked at the writings on this issue from the leading scholars today. He takes shots at both sides throughout the work.

No one can also say that this work is not thorough. There are several chapter devoted to many of the passages in the New Testament. 1 Cor. 14 and 1 Tim. 2? Got them covered. Bartlett tends to start from a position of seeing if we have brought any unspoken assumptions to the text that might be working against us.

He’s also got a problem with people taking some implications from Scripture as if they were the main message itself. This is often done by taking old creation and assuming that this is the way it is supposed to be in the new creation. There is an interesting turn around in the book where Bartlett takes the verses that we often cite to be seen as keeping women down, and actually pictures them in a world where women are in charge and that each of them actually argues the case for female leadership. It’s a really ingenious approach.

I will freely grant that this is one issue I have not read much on, although I do try to read on marriage issues very regularly. On those lines, Bartlett points out that many complementarians seem to sadly avoid 1 Cor. 7. In that passage, when it comes to sexual relations in marriage, Paul says both husband and wife are to give to one another without denying one another except by mutual consent and even then for only a short time. He shared a humorous saying that apparently exists about differences in marriage of “Man is head except in bed.” That’s one that will stick with you.

I think it could be interesting to see how complementarians and egalitarians both respond to this work. Both of them will have something to reply to. Bartlett ultimately hopes we drop those labels entirely and I gather he thinks there’s some truths that each side has.

One other thing he advises also is not making this a gospel issue, as if one side just isn’t taking the Scripture seriously and the other is. Unless we have information to the contrary, let us try to assume that our fellow Christians are trying to take Scripture seriously. If you think Scripture teaches one side, you should hold to that side.

Those interested in this debate should not pass up this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

God On Video Camera?

Would it matter if God showed up today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes, we’re asked why is it that God came in a time supposedly when there was no technology like today. Why not show up in a day and age where we have video cameras and everyone has one on their phone as well and we can all see these things happening? This seems like a simple explanation, but it just doesn’t work.

Many of us have seen those commercials on television that is supposed to demonstrate how well a product works. Do we all rush out and buy that product immediately? No. Many of us are skeptical when it comes to advertising. We know that those can be faked.

How about those commercials with people talking about a certain car and this line appears at the bottom of the screen saying “Real people, not actors.” I guess that settles it doesn’t it? Obviously, these were all real people who were being recorded and not people meant to read a script and they all just spontaneously praised the car. Naturally, there’s never anyone that says anything negative.

We can see movies today with realistic special effects as well. Someone who doesn’t know about those could conclude that something in them is real. Many of us can see a horror film and get scared about it because it just seems so realistic.

Yet supposedly, if God showed up today, everyone would just believe that it was Him. If you had video tape of these kinds of events, they would be questioned just as much. Internet atheists would be trying to find every way they can to look at the recording and show that it was faked.

Even if we know something is faked and we don’t know how it was done, we don’t conclude that it was a miracle of some kind. My wife and I used to watch Penn and Teller’s show “Fool Us,” where people would try to trick the famous magicians for a chance to be in their magic act. There were numerous people that did fool Penn and Teller, yet Penn at least I know is still an atheist to this day. It is never thought that someone actually did a miracle.

New Testament scholar Craig Keener has catalogued several miracles in his two-volume work Miracles. Most people who are skeptics will never bother to investigate these miracles since obviously they are not real. Even if they have medical documentation, it doesn’t matter.

If anything, God doing it when He did makes the most sense. After all, this was a day and age where you could not fake something of that sort that easily. Sure, there were some people who did fake acts like that to try to show others as charlatans, but it was a lot more difficult to pull off, especially events in public that involve sudden change in healing.

Today, it would be much easier to fake these kinds of events. Not only that, but it would not convince some of God. If someone doesn’t want to believe, they can find another explanation. In an event where Peter Boghossian interviewed Richard Dawkins, Dawkins said he had become convinced that anything said to be done by God could just as easily be done by aliens.In that way, nothing could convince him of God. At least he’s honest.

As I said also in an earlier post, God doesn’t do this either because He is not a trivia question. He doesn’t show up just to address our curiosity. He seeks people who really seek Him for Him. Be one of those.

In Christ,
Nick Peters