Slavery and Marriage?

What do slavery and marriage have in common? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I know some of you think you already see the connection. You might even be thinking “There’s a difference between the two of them?”

No. That’s not what I’m getting at.

I have been looking at the Old Testament Law lately and seeing how it relates to us today. Does it stand for all time, or are there things in there that are actually less than perfect? The answer to the question is the latter. The law is good, but it was not meant to be something for all time. Keep in mind in Galatians 3 that the Law was meant to be a guide to us until the time of the fulfillment of the law, Jesus Christ, came.

Something we often see in the Bible in the Old Testament is polygamy. By the time we get to the NT, we don’t see this as much. Jesus affirms in the gospels that marriage is one man and woman. Polygamy was a differentiation from the ideal but it still had the foundation that Jesus affirmed of one man and one woman. Interestingly, Jesus starts off with asking the Pharisees what Moses said. Moses was of course the authority.

Jesus instead points them back to the higher authority of God who created marriage as one man and one woman. How did he override Moses? He stated that Moses granted a concession. He said that the hearts of people were hardened and so Moses granted the people that they would be able to divorce. Quite likely this was done to avoid an abuse to the system of marriage. There is a case where a law can tolerate a lesser evil in order to avoid a greater evil.

For instance, we do not prosecute people for adultery even though by and large, we consider it to be wrong. Why? Because we don’t want to spend every effort micromanaging everyone’s marriage. We do have a place for freedom to allow people to do evil so that there can be even more freedom to do good. Our laws should often seek to have the bare minimum for a functioning society to do good and to have laws that encourage goodness. We do have penalties for if a marriage is made void because we want to encourage marriage. The law is meant to make a statement about actions and encourage good behavior.

In other words, God took a system that was less than ideal and said “For the time being, I am going to work with this system and use it for good until we reach the point where it is not needed.” The goal would be to change the hearts of the people through the Law over time so that they would not want to divorce or to practice polygamy. It would seem there was some success with polygamy at least as there is not much mention of it after the exile when the Law started to be taken seriously.

What does that have to do with slavery?

Because slavery in the OT also showed less than the perfect will of God.

Now let’s be clear, we are not talking about slavery like it was in the Civil War time. The slavery done then was not a system set in place to exploit the poor. In fact, it was set in place so the poor could have a job. Keep in mind that there weren’t supermarkets and gas stations and Wal-Marts you could go and apply at. You did have to work for someone else and usually in a home setting.

This was also an age where a lot of people might not have their own home. Today, it seems natural, but homes cost money and time and resources, and not everyone has those. When you get a home, how will you put food on the table, or even get a table for that matter? How will you provide clothes for the family? One way to deal with this is to live with someone else and to the work for them. They provide room and board for you and your family and you work for them.

There were numerous problems with this system as it could easily lead to exploitation, but it was a way the world had to work in the infancy of humanity. The large market of jobs was not available in a society not as developed. The more economies were built by people, the more they had job opportunities. In our society, we can find that hard to think of with so many businesses that can offer places to work. We need to look outside of our own system and see the biblical system and how it was.

We can realize the law was good for the time, but it was not perfect, and we should not treat it as the way a perfect society was to be for all time. We have the fullness in Christ now. Some might be tempted to think things will be easier, but let’s remember when Jesus commented on the moral aspects of the Law, he always went even stronger than the Law did. Fortunately, he enables us to do that which we would not be able to do on our own as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

And Then They Came For Blomberg

Should we dispense with Craig Blomberg? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about Geisler’s crusade, but I believe the time has come again. Geisler went after my father-in-law, Mike Licona, claiming that he has denied Inerrancy. This despite the fact that Licona has regularly said that he believes in Inerrancy. Could it be that Geisler really knows the “authorial intent” of Licona in what he says so that he knows that in reality, Licona does deny Inerrancy?

Of course, we have seen ICBI brought into it, which has become a case of saying “ICBI has spoken. The case is closed.” This is why more are starting to question ICBI. A number of bloggers out there are suggesting that we avoid debates on Inerrancy, and it’s not because of Licona’s position but because of Geisler.

For my position, yes. I think we should. We are not going out there trying to win people to Inerrancy. We are trying to win them to Jesus. Now I do think it is important to realize how central the Bible is, but we do not need an Inerrant Bible to show Jesus rose from the dead. I have met Christians who are of the mindset that if there is one contradiction in the Bible, the whole thing is false.

Now I do in saying that believe the Bible is true in all it teaches, but if someone showed me something that they could demonstrate beyond all doubt was untrue, I would not throw out Christianity because of that. If you could demonstrate beyond all doubt that Jesus did not rise from the dead, then I would throw out Christianity.

The problem with Inerrancy debates is they become a “Stump the believer” game. Instead of discussing the real substance of the Bible, one just gets caught up in a discussion of who was high priest when David took the bread and how many angels were at the tomb on Easter Sunday instead of discussing real substance. An atheist thinks he has justification to disbelieve in the resurrection if he finds one contradiction in the Bible. I personally believe in granting the atheist as much as I can and still keep Christianity.

Geisler believes his crusade is essential and has gone after Licona. Now he has added Blomberg to his list. Blomberg is a highly decorated evangelical scholar. In fact, he is also quite charitable to those in need around him. Still, he supports Licona so he must go. Even worse, he has said Geisler and Mohler need to apologize. (SHOCK!) He is also right in that.

To start, let’s see how this was introduced on Geisler’s page.

“Licona supporters Craig Blomberg denies miracle story in the Gospel. With friend like this, who needs enemies? The truth is that many evangelical NT Scholars trained in Europe have less than an evangelical view of the inerrancy of Scripture. Criag Blomberg of Denver Seminary is a case in point. Read about it an article on our web site (”

Does Geisler watch what’s on his wall? No. That is not being changed any. That is a direct cut and piece job. Of course, now we’re being told to be skeptical of anyone who has education in Europe. Would that include William Lane Craig who has degrees from England and Germany? The same Craig who holds to a view just like Licona’s but has not been the target of the Inquisition? The same Craig who would not be allowed to speak at ISCA because of that stance?

That’s a good view for scholarship to have.

So now, let’s get to the work itself. Let’s start with this gem.

“So far, so good. However, contained in this very same treatise was a very troubling section regarding Matthew 27:51-53 of the resurrection of the saints at Jesus’ resurrection Licona applies dubious genre hermeneutics to Matthew’s gospel known as “apocalyptic” or “eschatological Jewish texts” whereby he arbitrarily dismisses the historicity of Matthew 27:51-53 (and its recording of the resurrection of saints) which results effectively in the complete evisceration and total negation of His strong defense of Jesus’ resurrection”

So many problems here. First off, this is not a very troubling section. Several NT scholars read it without trouble. Only Geisler was troubled by it and then sounded the alarms of the Inquisition. He considers it dubious to consider Matthew an eschatological text.

After all, the coming of the Messiah and the start of the fulfillment of the promises of God to Israel could not be eschatological at all. As for apocalyptic, the whole book is not apocalyptic, but some parts certainly are. Matthew 24 is definitely apocalyptic.

Also, there are no dubious genre hermeneutics. That Matthew is a Greco-Roman biography is largely agreed upon. Of course there is some dissent from that, but it would not be a position just cast aside in NT scholarship.

One major problem in here is that this is a decision that Licona has arbitrarily made. I suppose if you ignored that there were six pages in his book on this and he wrote a whole paper (One I have heard personally read) for EPS called “When The Saints Go Marching In” explaining why he has the stance that he has, then yeah. I guess you could say it’s arbitrary. You have to ignore all the data, but hey. So what? Why let data get in the way of a good argument?

It is indeed false to say that this totally eviscerates the case for the resurrection of Jesus. This assumes that the two miracles are on equal epistemic terms. Which do we have more evidence for? The raising of the son of the widow of Nain or the raising of Jesus? I have never heard a minimal facts approach for the first one. I have for the second. I have not heard the large sociological impact for the first. I have for the second. That does not mean there was never any evidence for the first nor was there no impact, but it was not at the level of the resurrection of Jesus. This assumes that if one resurrection did not literally happen, then no resurrection ever happened.

The reason Jesus’s resurrection is different is because of the epistemic foundation for it in the evidence and the sociological impact that it had which was much greater. It could even be that all the other resurrection stories in the gospels are false and Jesus’s resurrection is true. I do not believe that, but if it was the case we would not see the end of Christianity.

Geisler uses Dunn as an example. It would be interesting to find out if Geisler himself has ever read Dunn. Now I just recently read Dunn and I don’t remember him saying anything explicitly yea or nay on the resurrection, but I do remember this quote from him on page 101 of Jesus Remembered, the very source Geisler uses.

“A faith which regards all critical scrutiny of its historical roots as inimical to faith can never hold up its head or lift its voice in any public forum.” (Page 101)

Yes. That includes criticism from that bastion of evil that is Europe apparently. We Christians should look at what is going on and say “Bring it on.” If Christianity is true, we have no need to fear higher criticism or any other criticism. If it is shown that Christianity is not true, let us be grateful. Who wants to believe what isn’t true? If we are sure it is true, why fear the challenge? We win either way.

For Dunn’s idea, we need to examine it on its own merits. How conscious was Jesus of His own identity? What did He know about what it is He would do? How was his destiny and identity shaped by His growing up years and His personal study of the Tanakh?

Note that we do this because while we emphasize rightly the full deity of Christ, we can not eviscerate His humanity. We can make Jesus a superman instead who did not need to study and did not need to think through His worldview in coming to His identity. It is the question often asked in these times. What did He know and when did He know it?

How will we examine Dunn’s case? By the data. We won’t look and say “This disagrees with our conclusions, therefore it is false.” If our conclusions are true and Dunn disagrees with them, we can show that he is wrong by the data. The data cannot say one thing and the truth be another after all.

Does Geisler really think also that Jesus was totally aloof to the ideas of His time? Did the ideas of Jewish eschatology around Him play no role in the shaping of the culture He lived in? Could Jesus only function by believing in what was in the Tanakh?

Dunn is also just one person. Did Geisler consider any other NT scholars? Apparently not. Instead, you find one person whose position you think is problematic and from there get the idea that all of NT scholarship is problematic.

Next comes Licona’s treatment of Matthew 27. Geisler’s appeal here is to ICBI. It gives the impression that ICBI is just as infallible as the Scripture itself. Would it be possible that Geisler would like to update the canon and put the Chicago Statement in there as the last inspired book of the Bible?

What is absent? That’s right. A response to the opposition that Geisler has brought up. There is no response to arguments that NT scholarship would just not take seriously that Geisler brings up. JPH, myself, and Max Andrews have all addressed them as have others. That is ignored. Geisler hears no voice but his and those who agree with him.

In moving on to Blomberg, Geisler considers it startling that Blomberg called for apologies on the part of Geisler and Mohler and to all those who worked behind the scenes against Licona and his supporters.

Those of us who have been watching this and seeing the damage it is doing have not found this startling at all but a great act of bravery on the part of Blomberg. It seems impossible to Geisler to think that in his crusade he could be in the wrong and be doing more damage than he realizes. If Inerrancy dies in America, I believe it will be because of the way Geisler has treated it.

Blomberg is right. Geisler and Mohler do not know what they are speaking of in this issue in that they are treating all resurrections as equal. They are saying all passages are to be interpreted the same way. For instance, there has been much said about Geisler not interpreting the creation days as six literal 24-hour days.

Could not one say “Well Geisler has given us reason to doubt all of the Bible. After all, if you can change the days so that they are not literal days, then surely you can change the resurrection of Jesus so that it is not a literal resurrection.”

I do not think this is the case, but if it was brought up, would the charge fit?

If there is one part of the Bible that is not be interpreted literally, does that mean that none of it is to be taken that way? If one part of the Bible is apocalyptic, does that mean all of it is? If one part is not apocalyptic does that mean none of it is?

This all-or-nothing game is common in fundamentalist circles and a great threat to Christianity that causes one to dispense with the whole of the Bible if just one part is not interpreted the way one thinks.

We are told that Blomberg advocates a historical-critical/grammatical method of reading the Bible. What does this consist of? We’re not really told. I personally think we should let Blomberg make that case instead of just dismissing him for not agreeing with the beliefs of ICBI. If ICBI is correct, it will not be protected by simply dismissing all that disagrees with it. We condemn the Watchtower for not allowing any thinking contrary to the Watchtower to come in. Dare we do the same?

Geisler says that Blomberg ignored The Jesus Crisis, referring to the book by Farnell and Thomas. If he did, good for him. It should be ignored. The crisis described is one that would set the church back in America even more if it was heeded.

Now what are the great dangers of this approach? Let’s see. First is that the author of Matthew, not Jesus, created the Sermon on the Mount.

This depends on what is meant. If we are saying that Jesus spoke several messages and the main themes were compiled and put in one message, then what is the problem? If we mean Jesus never said anything like this and Matthew made it all up, that would be more problematic. Geisler doesn’t say which. For the Sermon on the Mount, if it was just that, many modern listeners would appreciate it. The Sermon on the Mount could be read in about fifteen minutes. If Jesus was a traveling teacher, he would have spoken much longer than that for a sermon. Consider how Paul in Acts spoke so long one of the listeners fell asleep. Historians often gave abbreviated accounts. (How many of us would love to give a message like Peter’s in Acts 2 that would last just two minutes and get 3,000 converts?)

Next is that the commissioning of the twelve is a compilation of messages. Why not? Let’s look at the evidence for the case. It would help explain such passages as the one saying you will not finish going through all the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. If this is the case and the ancients would have understood it, what’s the danger?

The same happens with the idea that Matthew 13 is a compilation of several different messages. Again, what’s the danger? Matthew likely arranged his message in a Mosaic format. He had action and then teaching in a fivefold format that would have been seen as fivefold like the Torah of Moses is. Jesus would be being presented to Matthew’s audience as one who was the new Moses and was in fact greater than Moses.

Jesus did not preach the Olivet Discourse in its entirety? This again depends. For instance, is it likely that Jesus in a talk to his apostles said “Let the reader understand.”? Would we lose out if Jesus had given a long talk and Matthew just gave a summation of it?

The scribes and Pharisees were good people who Matthew presented in a bad light.

By and large, it’s true, the scribes and Pharisees were good people. They were not evil masterminds plotting the destruction of Israel. They really believed they were doing something good. They were not actively seeking to undermine the worship of YHWH. The Pharisees were not condemned because they were Pharisees. Keep in mind that Paul was a Pharisee as well.

As for Matthew 2, J.P. Holding has dealt with that issue already.

Blomberg in the article states his problem with the Jesus Crisis. Geisler does not hear it. It is unbelievable to him that someone who loves God and embraces the Bible should go against The Jesus Crisis. Who needs the scholars? We have the Bible. If that’s the case, then we might as well say “Who needs PH.D.’s in philosophy to warn us about people who do not believe the Bible? We have the Bible. Who needs Geisler’s books on the Bible? We have the Bible itself. Who needs to attend some of Geisler’s Seminary courses? We have the Bible.”

We could go even further. If the Holy Spirit teaches us all things as Geisler has said, then we might as well say who needs Geisler’s philosophy courses even? Why if we are to know something, we will be taught it. We have the Holy Spirit! If the Holy Spirit thought it was important to study the laws of logic, he would have put the laws of logic in the Bible! If he thought we needed to know Plato or Aristotle, he would have put them in the Bible! He did not.

Blomberg’s criticism is correct. The church does not need to run from academia or seek to shut down academia. We need to be interacting with academia. Geisler says Blomberg is irenic and embracing with Mormons, but has great hostility to those who uphold the fundamentals of Scripture.

Well I for one did not read any great hostility in what Blomberg said, but rather the heart of someone concerned about the future of the church. Maybe Geisler thinks he knows the authorial intent of Blomberg. Oh wait. That can’t be known. As for what he said about Mormons, why not give people what they themselves give? I would have more respect for a well-informed Mormon than I would for an uninformed Christian.

Never mind it’s quite amusing to hear Geisler talking about someone having great hostility. I suppose it has been nothing but good-natured love that has caused someone to go after a scholar’s job and reputation, all the while conveniently ignoring the William Lane Craigs of the world that hold to the exact same position.

Geisler then talks about the dangers of people who hold to Blomberg’s hermeneutic starting with Griesbach and going all the way to Mike Licona. This assumes that these are dangerous positions. There would be no great danger to Christianity if Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source when they wrote their gospels. That does not mean that they did, but if they did, what is the great danger? If Geisler found out tomorrow that Mark was a source for Luke, and he could not deny it, would he be convinced Jesus did not rise from the dead? If so, then I have more concern for the faith of someone like Geisler than I think I ever could of Blomberg.

This is simply followed by more of the same. Instead of interacting with the points, we’re just told that the points are dangerous because of “liberalism.” It seems to be the reigning tactic that if you want to shut down the side of anyone in a biblical debate, you just accuse them of being liberal. Never mind whether the charge is true or not. It has a good way of sticking, even to those who hold to a conservative view of Scripture.

Of course, now we have Gundry brought up. Did 70% of ETS vote against Gundry? Well, not exactly. As Holding has said

“70% majority? Not quite. The vote was 116 to 41, with a far greater combined number abstaining. Geisler is not telling the whole truth here: It was only 70% of the voting group that he is referring to, not the whole membership of ETS.”

We are told that Blomberg denies the story of Peter catching a fish with a coin in his mouth. Well, no.

All he said was that it was not a miracle per se. It did not require divine intervention. Fish in that day regularly swallowed coins. It could be prophetic knowledge, but that itself is not a miracle. Also, Blomberg is right. We are not told that Peter went and did what Jesus said.

What about who wrote the epistles? Now I do believe that each epistle was written by its named author, but the way to respond to this is to show evidence for each case and not say “It disagrees with ICBI.” We are seeing more and more that for Geisler, ICBI is practically one of the early church councils!

And what about the idea of myths and legends being involved. I do not think there were, but what do we do again? It’s simple. We examine the claims on a case by case basis. It does not work to just retreat all the while stating that we are correct.

Blomberg is then gone after for demonizing his critics. (Oh the irony is so thick here!) Blomberg actually thinks the works of people like Lindsell and Thomas could be harmful to the faith. Well, yes. They could be. I happen to agree with him on Inerrancy and what he says. The way the case is made today makes it that if someone finds one contradiction in the Bible, then the whole thing is to be abandoned. Does Geisler really think there are no people out there like this?

I assure him that a basic internet search could find several people like this. Why is there such a quest by several to find contradictions in the Bible? How many people have given up Christianity because they’ve found a supposed contradiction in the Bible and figured from that that the whole thing was false? In fact, Bible contradictions are often a reason cited for why someone abandoned the Christian faith. Many people have a problem with literalism. This kind of thinking has done thorough damage to the church.

Geisler finds it scary that when Blomberg examines the gospels, he does not presuppose Inerrancy. I don’t. I find that good scholarship. If you are to approach the text seriously, you have to be willing to examine arguments against it seriously. Special Pleading will not help us in our battles against unbelief. If the gospels are true stories, then study will only reveal that. We do not need to presume Inerrancy in order to demonstrate the gospels are Inerrant.

In speaking about Bock also, Geisler says:

“In doing this, evangelicals of this approach, subject the Scripture to forms of historical criticism that will always place the Bible on the defensive in that it can never be shown to reflect historical trustworthiness.”

Is Geisler saying the Bible cannot be put on the defensive? If we examine the Bible critically, we can never determine that it is historically trustworthy?! What a crisis indeed the church is in if we think we have to run from historical examination of the Bible! I for one would be willing to say to the atheist “Bring your hard examination of our text. It will stand the test of time. You will find with an honest examination that Jesus rose from the dead! Go ahead and bring your toughest questions! We have answers!”

It is a shame that one who claims to defend the Bible like Geisler does not seem to believe the same about the Bible.

Geisler then tells us that Blomberg says we cannot demonstrate with certainty the truth of all of the Bible but we can demonstrate historical probability. He’s right. Historians do deal in probabilities. The idea of certainty is one that came from applying a view of history in that it should be treated like science. For science, you can do an experiment again and again. You cannot do that with history.

Blomberg also gives the hideous statement that if there were a few genuine contradictions, the rest of the text would not be jeopardized and the entire case for belief would not be called into question. This is one of those dangerous views of Scripture that says that if the Bible is not Inerrant, then Jesus did not rise. How far would it go? Would we say Jesus did not exist like some mythicists do if we find there are mistakes in the Bible? (Note there are some former Christians who have this position and their questioning of all the Bible started with a position like Geisler’s, you know, that view that doesn’t really damage the faith.)

Geisler also says probability is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps, but many times so is certainty. Geisler finds it certain that macroevolution is false. Some Christians disagree. How does one know? One examines the case. Some things are more likely than others. Not all events in the Bible can be backed the same way. Geisler’s all or nothing approach will indeed lead to more harm for the church.

Geisler cites Blomberg as saying:

“the Gospels must be subjected to the same type of historical scrutiny given to any other writings of antiquity but that they can stand up to such scrutiny admirably.”

Indeed they can, but Geisler says

“The naiveté of this latter position is breath-taking, since historical criticism has been shown to be replete with hostile philosophical underpinnings that apparently Blomberg is either unaware of or choosing to ignore.”

It’s a naive position to believe the Bible can stand up to scrutiny? Maybe Geisler and I are not talking about the same Bible. For his talk about it being the Word of God, he must think that Word is quite weak and cannot survive in the face of opposition. Geisler goes on to say that presuppositions always control the outcome. Why could this not be the same for Geisler? Could we say that he finds the Bible Inerrant because he presupposes that it is?

The ultimate question is can the text survive scrutiny? I contend that it can. Geisler seems to contend that it does not.

Unbelievers are seeing it. Even in the thread on his facebook page, there are unbelievers commenting and seeing that for Geisler, the Bible cannot stand the test of scrutiny. Now of course there is dishonest scrutiny, but can it face honest scrutiny with someone really seeking truth? I have no doubt.

It seems Geisler does.

Geisler ends with saying that we need to expose people like Blomberg. In his words,

“Further, the time has come to expose people like Blomberg who enjoy wide acceptance in certain evangelical circles but who denies the historic evangelical doctrine of inerrancy. This is not to say, Blomberg’s views on other essential doctrines could not be orthodox. They have not been examined here. It is simply to note that neither his defense of Licona, nor his own views on the origin and nature of Scripture meet the evangelical test of orthodoxy. ”

No. The time has come to expose a view of the Bible that should have never come forward. Not the view that it is Inerrant. That has been a part of our history. What should be exposed it the view of biblical literalism that goes against scholarship believing that one without any understanding of the context of Scripture can fully grasp its message. A faith that runs from academia cannot stand up and survive in academia. To quote Dunn again from Jesus Remembered,

“A faith which regards all critical scrutiny of its historical roots as inimical to faith can never hold up its head or lift its voice in any public forum.” (Page 101)

My faith can. Let’s see whose will stand the test of time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

(Unlike Geisler also, I do provide a link to critics. Geisler’s article can be found here)

It Won’t Hurt Your Marriage

Redefining marriage won’t hurt yours will it, so what’s the big deal? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

How many of us have heard this one? What’s the big deal about letting homosexuals marry? It won’t hurt your marriage.

This sounds like a powerful objection, but it’s simply empty rhetoric.

For a start, most of us are encouraged to look for the good of others. It’s interesting that those who make such statements as this usually also tell us that we should seek the happiness of others and give them what they want. On the one hand then, I am encouraged to do this because it meets my own interests. In the other case, I am not to look for my own interests. Which is it?

Still, let’s look also at the way the argument is. There is a hidden premise.

That which will not hurt you is that which you should not worry about.
Homosexuals marrying will not hurt you.
Homosexuals marrying is that which you should not worry about.

But how would this work in other situations?

The kids of the neighbor are being abused by their father. Well that hurts them certainly, but it does not hurt me or my children. Therefore, I should not worry about it.

There is a high frequency of female rape in your community. Supposing you are not married and not even interested in marrying and have no female relatives nearby, then it affects no one that I know, therefore I should not be worried about it.

Our country is going to war. I know no one in the military and I know no one we are fighting against. Therefore, I should not worry about it.

In being good citizens of society, we all know that we should have an active concern in seeking the good of our society regardless of if it affects us directly or not. Even if I am not homeless, I should go and help those who are. Even if I am not going hungry, I should be willing to go and help those who are. (Interestingly, these were the same people who also complained that Christians were going to Chick-Fil-A instead of going to the soup kitchens. Would it have been fair to say “Starving people don’t affect me so why should I go?”)

In fact, in all of this we have not yet answered the question of if it hurts us. I contend that the answer is yes.

Let’s use divorce as an example. Let’s suppose we live in a society where people are profoundly aware of no-fault divorce. They are aware due to a high divorce rate in their area. Say that a couple gets married. The man has no intention of divorcing the wife. The woman has no intention of divorcing the husband. Both can repeat this to each other but when a hard time hits, both could be tempted to think “I will not divorce my spouse, but I wonder if I’m starting to wear on them.”

Even supposing that it is true that divorce never enters the mind of either, when they are asked by each other and answer “I would never think about it!” it could be easy to say “They’re just saying that.” This leads to the breakdown of trust. Never mind the effect that something like this will have on children who need to grow in an environment of stability.

We were told divorce would not really hurt kids. We were wrong.

Now this time we are to believe that not having a mother or not having a father as the default position will not hurt kids. A study like Regnerus’s has come along to help dispel this myth. I have no doubt that ten to twenty years down the line, even more research will come in to support this. If marriage as an institution is lowered, all instances of that institution will be lowered.

Yes. What happens does hurt my marriage but even if it did not, I believe it hurts society so I cannot be silent.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response To The Resurrection Hoax

Does Kareem have a case? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

On a Facebook thread I’m in, someone presented the thesis that the resurrection is a hoax with a link by an Abdullah Kareen of Answering Christianity. I will include a link at the bottom of this post for all interested in reading. For now, just how strong is the case?

Well, not too strong.

“The resurrection of Jesus is a hoax because Mark, the earliest gospel, never contained the story.”

This is how it begins, in other words, with a train wreck. Kareem seems unaware that the case for the resurrection today does not rely on the gospels but rather relies on 1 Corinthians and Galatians. Still, does the book of Mark contain no resurrection? Well, not exactly. We agree with Kareem that the ending of Mark is most likely added on. We also see that as irrelevant to our case. Let’s look elsewhere in Mark.

For instance, Mark 9:9 says:

“As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”

Mark 14:28

“But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

Mark has hints throughout the book about what is happening towards the end. The book is very fast-paced as indicated by the use of “immediately” throughout. Mark has identified the book as good news at the beginning and identified Jesus as the Son of God. He would not end the story then having Jesus being dead in the tomb and not even vindicated. Instead, Mark 16 has Jesus being risen. The women leave in awe and this is typical of Mark. Mark is meant to grip awe into you with the wonder about what happened next. Readers have enough information to know. That this gospel is written and ends there is to say that the story of Jesus has not ended.

Even if we did not have the gospel of Mark, it would not show the resurrection is a hoax. In fact, even if we knew the resurrection was false, that would not show it to be a hoax. A hoax is a plot done by someone or some group of people with the intention to deceive. That does not follow from Mark being wrong if he was. For instance, suppose Crossan is right and Jesus’s body was thrown to dogs. There was no intent to deceive. Then the disciples get the idea of vindication and get so excited they delude themselves into thinking resurrection. Now this didn’t happen, but in any case, it would involve no hoax and it would still involve Mark being wrong.

Going back to Kareem.

“The “resurrection” passages were later added to Mark, and his gospel was changed by Matthew and Luke, the Gospel writers are anonymous. It was necessary for Matthew and Luke to change Mark according to their own understanding, they also relied upon the Q source. Regarding the Gospel of John, it’s completely different and draws upon ambiguous sources.”

Scholars today also know Matthew and Luke used other sources even if they did use Mark and even if they did use a Q source. For someone making a deal about there being no manuscript evidence of an ending to Mark at the time, there is ZERO manuscript evidence for Q. There has not been one Q document found. It is a hypothetical source. That does not mean it is false, but it means that Kareem is changing the standards in one paragraph.

Note also he has not shown that Matthew and Luke are false. Matthew and Luke when they do not copy Mark are seen to be independent sources. Kareem needs to deal with them on their own standards.

Furthermore, the point about the gospels being anonymous is a red herring. Many works in the ancient world were anonymous, but usually the deliverer of the work would know who wrote it, notably with something like a seal on the manuscript itself. Scholars who do not believe the gospels are by the people we normally say they are do not dispense of them as quickly as Kareem does and even still recognize much historically valid information. Those interested in a defense of the authorship of the gospels are recommended to check books on the New Testament or individual commentaries on the gospels.

“A central working hypothesis of this book and one of the most widely held findings in modem New Testament study is that Mark was the first canonical Gospel to be composed and that the authors of Matthew and Luke (and possibly John) used Mark’s Gospel as a written source. (Randal Helms, Gospel Fictions, p. 23)”

Randal Helms is not a figure that is taken seriously in scholarship by liberals or conservatives. Helms is an English Professor. He is not a bible scholar. I could find a number of scholars, liberal or conservative, Christian or non, who would give this evidence. Why go with Helms? This tells us much about Kareem’s methodology.

Kareem goes on.

“Mark was the first writer to record the crucifixion, yet he was NOT an eye-witness!

“The author of Mark, the earliest of the narrative gospels, was not an eyewitness: he is reporting information conveyed to him by a third person or persons, who themselves were quite possible not eye-witnesses” (Robert Walter Funk, The Jesus Seminar: The Acts of Jesus, p. 4)”

Yes. Mark was likely not an eyewitness. So what? That means you could only write history on events you had seen? If that is the case, there can be no valid Civil War histories today. We would have to eliminate all of Plutarch’s writings as well. It is interesting to see a Muslim say this since the first biographies of Muhammad came well after he had died. Kareem assumes that if you did not see it, you would have no way of gaining information about it.

This would simply be false. This would be an event everyone would know about and would be part of the oral tradition. This event is recorded by Tacitus as well even referring to Pilate as the one who crucified him. Someone like Crossan even says it is as sure a fact as any in history that Jesus was crucified. I am reading Dale Martin right now, a highly liberal New Testament scholar, who also agrees with this. In fact, on page 186 he says it seems to be historically accurate that he was executed because he said he was the King of the Jews or someone said that he was claiming that.

Also, there is no reason the writers would make up a story about crucifixion. Crucifixion equaled shame in the ancient world. If you could avoid the mention of it, you would. If a story was being made up, it would not be about crucifixion. No one would state that the Messiah had been crucified. He might suffer, but He would not die a shameful death. The Jews and Greeks would not accept that. Not only that, the crucifixion is mentioned in several independent sources and there is no counter-story. We have the crucifixion in all four gospels, in Paul numerous times, and in other NT epistles, as well as sources like Tacitus and others.

Kareem goes on:

“Here is what Christian scholar Mack Burton says:

“There is no reference to Jesus’ death as a crucifixion in the pre-Markan Jesus material” (Who Wrote the New Testament? p. 87)”

There is also no scholar named Mack Burton. There is one named Burton Mack. Such a mistake like this indicates that our reader is not doing much reading. If you are going to cite a source, at least get their name right. Anyway, Mack is correct if talking about Q. There is no resurrection in Q because if Q exists, it is a sayings gospel with no narrative. However, there is a crucifixion in Mark itself and no one I know of says the crucifixion was added into Mark.

We go on:

“This means the Gospel writers fabricated the resurrection story. The legend of Jesus’ “resurrection” developed over a period of time. This explains why Paul, the earliest Christian writer, never records the Gospel version. Paul only says Jesus was “crucified for the sins of mankind” and he “rose from the dead”, which does not explain anything.”

If anything, it would mean they fabricated the crucifixion story, to which there is no basis for thinking that they did so. Paul never records a gospel version of it because first, he is the earliest Christian writer. Second, there was no need to. This was part of the oral tradition that would have already been known and would be useless to share in a high-context society.

The writer has made an assertion and he needs to show it. For the Muslim, the crucifixion did not happen, which leads to the question of “What did?” The earliest Christian creed in 1 Cor. 15 includes the death of Jesus. Was everyone in the world simply wrong that Jesus had died? This stretches incredulity. If he died a non-crucifixion death, there is no motive to turn it into a crucifixion death. It would have only led to shame on the part of the disciples and lowered the gospel movement.

Kareem goes on:

“Paul asserts that Jesus was crucified, yet he fails to mention any details which would later be recorded in the gospels.

We must keep in mind that Paul knew nothing of an event called the ascension that was separate or different from Jesus’ resurrection. Paul’s writings contain no hint of the two-stage process that would develop later, where resurrection brought Jesus from the grave back to life and ascension then took Jesus from earth to heaven. Paul’s proclamation was that God had raised Jesus into God’s very life. That was Easter for Paul. For Paul there were no empty tombs, no disappearance from the grave of the physical body, no physical resurrection, no physical appearances of a Christ who would eat fish, offer his wounds for inspection, or rise physically into the sky after an appropriate length of time. None of these ideas can be found in reading Paul. For Paul the body of Jesus who died was perishable, weak, physical. The Jesus who was raised was clothed by the raising God with a body fit for God’s kingdom. It was imperishable, glorified, and spiritual. (John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality, p. 241) ”

Reply: This is simply false and again, bad sourcing. Spong is not a biblical scholar either. There are several scholars who would say such things, and Kareem should have checked some of those. At any rate, Paul does have Jesus being dead, buried, and raised. This would to a Jew imply an empty tomb since a resurrection that left a body in the tomb would have been nonsensical. To say Jesus was absorbed into God’s life would not explain the empty tomb nor would it explain the appearances to the disciples. Keep in mind this writer has not dealt with any positive evidence for the resurrection thus far. All we have is an argument from silence.

Still, it gets worse.

“The most striking feature of the early documents is that they do not set Jesus’ life in a specific historical situation. There is no Galilean ministry, and there are no parables, no miracles, no Passion in Jerusalem, no indication of time, place of attendant circumstances at all. The words Calvary, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Galilee never appear in the early epistles, and the word Jerusalem is never used there in connection with Jesus (Doherty, pp. 68, 73). Instead, Jesus figures as a basically supernatural personage who took the “likeness” of man, “emptied” then of his supernatural powers Phil 2:7. (G.A. Wells, Can We Trust the New Testament? p. 3) ”

Wells is a Christ-myther who I understand has now said it might be possible that someone named Jesus existed. The Christ-myth theory is not treated seriously by NT scholars, and this is from all sides of the field. Again, this is simply an argument from silence.

Kareem continues:

“Paul’s account of Jesus’ resurrection contradicts the Gospels:

The first thing we need to force into our minds is that when Paul wrote these words, there were no such things as written Gospels. This means that the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection so familiar to us, as told by these Gospel writers, were by and large unknown to Paul and to Paul’s readers (Resurrection: Myth or Reality?, p. 48)

For Paul there were no empty tombs, no disappearance from the grave of the physical body, no physical resurrection, no physical appearances of a Christ who would eat fish, offer his wounds for inspection, or rise physically into the sky after an appropriate length of time. None of these ideas can be found in reading Paul. For Paul the body of Jesus who died was perishable, weak, physical. The Jesus who was raised was clothed by the raising God with a body fit for God’s kingdom. It was imperishable, glorified, and spiritual. (ibid, p. 241)”

If they contradicted the gospels we would say, so what? We don’t need the gospels to demonstrate the resurrection. Also, inerrancy is not essential for demonstrating the resurrection. Paul does say the body raised is spiritual, but what does that mean? Paul also says the spiritual man judges all things, but that does not mean the immaterial man. This is simply a bad translation here. See Dale Martin on page 219 of “New Testament History and Literature.” He states:

“Paul is not making a distinction of material versus immaterial here, but one between a body that is “merely alive,” that is, in a normal, “natural” state, and a body that has been miraculously transformed into one entirely composed of the material of pneuma.”

My stance would be it gets its power from the pneuma, but the idea of the body being immaterial is not accepted even by Martin.

Kareem goes on:

“If Paul is the first writer, then he must be relaying the earliest tradition, yet the Gospels, written many decades later, record an entirely different story. This certainly proves that the resurrection was fabricated in the oral tradition, because there’s not a single reference to the resurrection by historians like Philo Judaeus, and the testimony of Josephus is wholly agreed to be a forgery.”

Kareem states the gospels are many decades earlier, but does not support them. What does many mean? Is three or four if that many? Also, why would the other writers mention a resurrection? Philo would not mention it since likely he was not in Judea at the time and if at a distance would have regarded it as a myth. Josephus does not mention it because he does not believe it. However, Kareem is simply wrong that Josephus’s passage is wholly agreed to be a forgery. It is wholly agreed that parts of it are forged, but this also means that it is wholly agreed that parts of it are not. You will have to search for a long time to find a scholar who says that it is a total forgery. The only ones who really think that are the Christ-mythers.

He then goes to the 1 Cor. 15:3-9 passage with a number of problems.

First, he says there is no third day prophecy in the Scripture. This however assumes a sort of chapter and verse approach. Paul does not have that. N.T. Wright has written that Paul would have been saying that the message that Christ would rise is that which is taught in the Scripture. It was the idea one would draw out based on an understanding of the Scripture before even if there is no chapter and verse. It is what we would call a systematic doctrine.

The second is that there is no evidence that 500 people saw Jesus.

Actually, there is. It’s this very creed. This was an oral tradition that was shared amongst the first Christians from early on. It is too early for legend to develop and would not have been sent around if this event did not have some backing. Furthermore, Paul even knows some of these as if to say “Go ahead. They will tell you.”

The next is that the account says Jesus first appeared to Peter when the gospels say he first appeared to women.

Actually, it doesn’t say that. It says he appeared to Peter. The word “first” is not in there. The word of women was not acceptable as testimony in the early world. It would have damaged the creed and was non-essential. Note also if the account contradicted the gospels, again, so what?

Next, Peter disbelieved that Jesus was alive. (Resurrected)

We are not told where this is or what difference it makes since until he saw Jesus alive, this is quite likely true. So what? He changed his mind upon evidence.

Next is that we are told that Judas did not hang himself.

No. The reference to the twelve is a placeholder as it were. It was a name used to signify the apostles of the hold. We can speak of the Big Ten conference today in football, but there are no longer ten teams. The twelve just became a generic reference to the apostles.

Finally, Paul is said to describe the body as spiritual when the gospels say it was physical. This has already been dealt with.

Kareem goes on:

“Mark does not have the resurrection:

All things considered, then, Mark does not begin his story of Jesus very satisfactorily. Indeed, within two or three decades of Mark’s completion, there were at least two, and perhaps three, different writers (or Christian groups) who felt the need to produce an expanded and corrected version. Viewed from their perspective, the Gospel of Mark has some major shortcomings: It contains no birth narrative; it implies that Jesus, a repentant sinner, became the Son of God only at his baptism; it recounts no resurrection appearances; and it ends with the very unsatisfactory notion that the women who found the Empty Tomb were too afraid to speak to anyone about it. (Randal Helms, Gospel Fictions, p. 34)”

Obviously, the women were not too afraid since the story spread somehow! In all of this, this is simply a critique of Mark’s style. It does not prove him false. Furthermore, once again, we do not need the gospels to make our case. Once again also, this is Helms speaking, not a Bible scholar.

But if his sourcing was bad before, it’s getting worse.

“Almost all contemporary New Testament textual critics have concluded that neither the longer or shorter endings were originally part of Mark’s Gospel, though the evidence of the early church fathers above shows that the longer ending had become accepted tradition. The United Bible Societies’ 4th edition of the Greek New Testament (1993) rates the omission of verses 9-20 from the original Markan manuscript as “certain.” For this reason, many modern Bibles decline to print the longer ending of Mark together with the rest of the gospel, but, because of its historical importance and prominence, it is often included as a footnote or an appendix alongside the shorter ending.”

His source?


I kid you not.

Nevertheless, this is stuff that is irrelevant to our discussion. Kareem seems to like to keep repeating this over and over as if he’s saying something. My response is “I agree. So what?”

We shall ignore other such references from now on.

He goes on:

“The Gospels are clear that no one witnessed Jesus’ resurrection. It was seen by NO ONE.

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. (Mark 16:14)

It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. (Luke 24:10-11)”

If he means no one saw the resurrection itself, we agree. However, it is agreed by scholars that the apostles did claim to see the risen Christ. It is difficult to find one who disagrees with this. Now if you see someone die, and then you see them alive again and the tomb being empty and we would add healed from a crucifixion that would rip the skin off of someone, then you can make the inference that a resurrection has taken place.

We are then told about a list of writers who never mentioned the resurrection. After each will be a comment, with my thanks to J.P. Holding of Tektonics who has done much looking at this list. A link will be at the end.


Philo has already been dealt with.


He wrote poetry and satire. He was not a historian and would not have a need to mention the resurrection.


He was second century. His focus was Alexander the Great. No need to mention Jesus.


He wrote about Roman armies. Why would he need to mention Jesus?

Theon of Smyrna

He was a mathematician and astronomer. Why should he mention Jesus?


He wrote one poem and some books about the tension between Pompey and Caesar. Why should he mention Jesus?

Aulus Gellius

He wrote on laws and antiquities. No need to mention Jesus.


Seneca could have mentioned him, but he was also a Roman who would not have held the Jews in high regard and likely would have dismissed the accounts of a resurrection as superstitious nonsense.


The same applies to Plutarch. The Jews were not looked on highly by him so he would not have wanted to highlight them. He was more interested in Greek and Roman lives.


Apollonius was a supposed second-century miracle worker. He did not write anything.


His sayings were written by another and while he could have mentioned Jesus, there would be no need to. It would not be relevant to Epictetus’s teachings.

Silius Italicus

He wrote a poem about the second Punic war. Why mention Jesus?


An astronomer. No need to mention Jesus.

Note listing the people who did not talk about something does not deal with those who did.

In all of this, Kareem does not deal with cases put forward by scholars today. You do not see interaction with a Habermas or Licona that presents their case and why they are wrong. There is no dealing with the appearances. There is no dealing with the conversion of James and Paul. In other words, Kareem never even deals with the evidence.

Furthermore, he gives no motive for a hoax. The apostles would have gained shame for their stance. There was no power or wealth to gain for them. In every Messiah movement, when the Messiah died, so did the movement. Somehow, it was different for Jesus. Why?

Kareem has a long way to go to answer such questions. He is free to come here and defend his thesis if he so wants. Of course, he can also go to and debate on the resurrection there in the Deeper Waters section with me.

In Christ,
Nick Peters.

Kareem’s article can be found here.

J.P. Holding’s look at the list can be found here.

Going Against The Flow

Is that flowchart accurate? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Several have already undertaken a look at the flowchart going around Facebook that starts with the question of if one thinks homosexuality is sinful. If someone doesn’t, then homosexuals should not be allowed to redefine marriage. So is it really sinful?

There’s a problem right at the start. We could say for the sake of argument that homosexuality is not immoral and it would not therefore follow that it would be good to redefine marriage. The other side needs to not just deal with arguments against, and this one is quite a straw man, but also present arguments for.

At any rate, let’s look at the arguments.

To begin with, it is assumed that if you don’t think homosexuality is a sin, then you are part of civilized society. This is just more of the love and tolerance we’ve come to expect. Either you agree with us or you are just not civilized. Why should this be the case? Why should those who support redefining marriage be the ones who get to determine what in society exactly will qualify as civilized?

The first statement on the left is that Jesus said so. Well Jesus never said a thing about homosexuality. That’s true. He never said anything about rape or child sacrifice or bestiality or incest either. Silence does not equal approval. However, there is a bigger flaw with this.

Jesus lived in a society where the Torah was seen as divinely revealed. Now you can say that the Torah was wrong, but Jesus did not. In fact, if anything, with the moral pronouncements of the Torah, Jesus raised the bar extremely. Now if he had thought the message on homosexuality was wrong, he could have said that. He said nothing. In that society, that would imply an implicit agreement with the Torah. When he thought something was wrong, he was quick to say so. That he said nothing about homosexuality being okay should lead us to think Jesus would go the other way.

Next we go to the Old Testament. Well the Old Testament also says it’s sinful to eat shellfish, wear mixed fabrics, and eat pork.

It also says murder, adultery, and theft are sinful. Shall we call these into question?

The problem is such an approach does not differentiate between the ceremonial and civic law and between the moral law in the Bible. Now once again, the Bible could be wrong on the moral law, but let us be sure that we are not being wrong in what it teaches. The context determines what kind of abomination something is. It does not always mean something wicked, but it can. What is the context of the condemnation of homosexuality? It’s in a list of sexual sins and right between bestiality and child sacrifice.

Somehow, I don’t think the Bible ever approves of child sacrifice nor does YHWH in the Bible ever treat it as something you need divine revelation to know is wrong.

Why are pork and shellfish not to be eat? Most likely, it’s because these mix two different spheres in some area. For instance, shellfish can be like land creatures but they are water-dwellers, unlike fish that are pure water creatures. We might think this is silly, but to the ancients, purity was huge. We have that in our own way. We sell hand sanitizer profusely and anywhere you go you can find something to clean your hands.

Another example is mixed fabrics. Why? Every aspect of the life of the Israelite was to remind them that God was pure and that went to the clothes that they wore. Note that these laws were for Israel alone. No other nation was ever punished for not living according to the law of Torah. They were punished for not living morally.

What about the rest of the NT? Well the word refers to molestation and prostitution and not to committed homosexual relationships. A number of problems. First off, we are told no Greek scholars that say this. Before we believe this, we need to see it. I know of no Greek scholar that says that about passages like Romans 1 or 1 Cor. 6.

Second, with committed homosexual relationships, in our own day and age, purely monogamous relationships that are same-sex and sexual are incredibly rare, especially among men. Furthermore, Paul would not have known what would be meant by someone being homosexual. Homosexuality was not seen as an identity but as just a behavior. A person engaged in same-sex behavior but they were not described as a homosexual.

Also, Paul said women should be silent and not hold authority over a man. Many scholars think that 1 Cor. 14 could have Paul stating what the Corinthians were saying and then responding. Note that earlier in the letter he talked about a woman prophesying. Paul may be wrong on some things, but he’s not an idiot. He’s not going to talk about women leading worship and then say the women should be quiet.

For the part about not having authority, one wonders if the writer looked at any commentaries on the passage whatsoever. It’s quite likely Paul was dealing with a certain teaching at the time and saying that insofar as leadership went, a woman was not to lead over a man. In fact, in our own day and age, there are some women who would agree with this on that level saying that there is a reason for male headship. This is not to be used to lower women. That there is a difference in position does not mean a difference in humanity or value. I’ll say for the reader, my position is not set in stone yet.

The next part is that God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

Correct, and Jesus himself affirmed this as the design of marriage and there is no change. In the Old Testament itself, it’s said a man will leave a father and mother and be united to his wife. God could have easily created several men from scratch and several women, but he chose one family at the start and when it comes after the flood, we see no change in that.

The Bible does not define marriage as one man and one woman.

I leave that to my friend J.P. Holding here.

The last one is because it disgusts me.

Well sorry, but I don’t see that one being argued. Again, my personal tastes should not be the standard for anyone, but then neither should that of the left.

That’s my take on this poor argument. Another great look can be found by my friend here.

Don’t be a conformist. Go against the flow.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


Must you make it right? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

In our look at the Old testament Law, we come to Exodus 22:3b-6 which reads as follows.

“Anyone who steals must certainly make restitution, but if they have nothing, they must be sold to pay for their theft. 4 If the stolen animal is found alive in their possession —whether ox or donkey or sheep—they must pay back double.

5 “If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in someone else’s field, the offender must make restitution from the best of their own field or vineyard.

6 “If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.”

In each of these, we have the eye for an eye principle. Thievery is taken seriously, but notice that it is not punishable by the death penalty. This is immediately after an account about someone breaking into your house. While in some societies, someone could be killed or even mutilated for stealing, it was not the same in the Israelite society. Possessions are to be treated as possessions and not as people.

For the first, why should a thief pay back double if the animal is live? For one thing, the thief would have the benefits of the animal and then he would have no cost after that. He got an ox let’s say and got the ox to do some work for him and maybe even do some mating for him and then he had to give the oxen back to its owner. It becomes a kind of borrowing that is done without permission and the thief still gets the benefit. If he has to pay back double, then he does lose. He may have some benefit that is not known about, but there is no doubt that he has a loss. Without this, there would be nothing to stop a thief from deciding to steal.

The next cases do not involve intentional thievery but damage to property. Note that the repayment must come from the best. You could not go and give rotten fruit to someone when their good fruit had been eaten. You had taken someone’s livelihood from them and you must give of your own to make sure that that person had enough. Such a practice would help to make sure that you did your part to take care of your animals.

What about a fire? This would point to carelessness. If you are careless, you pay the price. We could prosecute someone for starting a forest fire even if unintentional today. If you do, you must make restitution and in this case, this could mean making restitution to several different people depending on how powerful the fire is.

What does all this mean for us today? Many of us would by and large I suppose not have a problem with laws such as these. Today in our system of justice, we believe in such repayment. It can often be done in the form of community service or something of that sort since many of us do not have livestock in that way or garden the same way.

We can also appreciate that the biblical writers were concerned for the justice of each person in the Israelite society and making sure that any loss would be taken care of.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Supporting Marriage In Your Area

What can you do to support marriage where you live? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Sunday, I listened to a podcast from the Ruth Institute that really inspired me. It had someone named Tom Peters (No relation) speaking on what anyone can do to support marriage and one idea was to use social media. Now I use social media quite often but decided that come Monday, since I avoid Facebook on Sundays, that I would start up a group to support marriage in my area. Living in Tennessee, I created the group Tennesseans For Marriage.

If you live in Tennessee, I invite you to join the group and help us support marriage. If you don’t, here’s my recommendation. Start one up in your own state. If the whole state seems to ambitious for you, at least go for your city or community. There are several people out there who support marriage, as we have seen in states where this has been put to a vote. The reason you don’t hear from them could be that they are scared to speak thinking they are in a minority. A group is a great way to get people together, especially since all they have to do is like a page. They may not be able to debate, but they can see those who can and get information and support when they face the “love and tolerance” from those who disagree.

Keep in mind also that you are not anti-gay. No Christian should be. We are to love those who have same-sex attractions. What you are is pro-family. You support the right of a child to be attached to their biological mother and father. Note also then that in your groups, you should be seeking to build up marriage. What is it that is required to live a life of love with your spouse? How can husbands be better husbands? How can wives be better wives? One argument often given to us that we must admit has credibility is that the church has not done the best job of honoring marriage. While I do think the 50% divorce rate is not accurate, I think most anyone would agree in the church that it is still too prevalent and this has only damaged marriage.

Your group is also not just a Christian group. In my group, I welcome all people from all political persuasions and from all religious beliefs. I would not have a problem with an atheist joining even if they agreed that marriage is a man and a woman. This is a belief that transcends religions. It is also one that transcends politics and so once again, make sure that if you start a group, that it is open to anyone who wants to join. Be sure to support those who are out there fighting for marriage, even if they are not with the party that you normally side with.

The reality is that the facts are on our side and we can win the battle for marriage. What it will require is simply that we act. This might be a small way to start to act, but it is something, and it does not require much of you. Take your stand and support marriage today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Israelite Anti-Theft

Can you shoot the intruder? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently there have been a number of shootings in our country that have sparked talk about gun control. What does it mean to really be able to protect one’s self? As we are going through the Old Testament, we find that our passage today is discussing just such an incident. What happens when someone breaks into your home and what makes the difference? The passage is Exodus 22:2-3.

“2 “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; 3 but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.”

Okay. What makes the difference here? Is there one time of the day when it’s acceptable to kill someone and a time of the day when it is not? Not really. This is another instance of a case when it is important to know about the context of the ancient world and really begin to think about how different it is.

Tonight, when I go to bed, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can get a small flashlight near our side of the bed if I need to get up during the night and easily find my way anywhere if need be. If we heard an intruder coming into our house, we could turn on the light to expose them and call the police or deal with them in any way that is necessary.

If you lived in the ancient world, you could not turn on a flashlight or flip a lightswitch. Instead, you would have to light a lamp of some kind and that would require producing a flame first. It would not be as easy to produce light. Now it’s the middle of the night and you hear someone breaking in. You go and engage the intruder in combat. You don’t know if he has a sword or club or some other weapon, but you know your family is in danger. During the melee, you kill him. In the morning, you look and you find out that he is unarmed. He is dead, but you are safe.

A thief breaks into your house during the day. He comes in unarmed and you pick up your sword and run him straight through. Now you are guilty of bloodshed.

This is an example of the principle of eye for an eye. Thievery is a crime, but it is not one that is to be punishable by death. Now supposing the thief tried to kill you during the day when he broke in, that would of course change the situation. Please keep in mind the laws were not necessary ironclad in the sense that they always had to be followed to the letter. Mitigating factors were taken into consideration.

The principle is the same kind that we are dealing with still today. How is it that one can defend themselves? Generally, we can usually speak of sufficient force today. A punishment must fit a crime as well. Our look at the text today shows that these are not new. You could not have vigilante justice. You had to make sure you used only force necessary to protect yourself. Also, contrary to some today, you were allowed to kill in self-defense if you thought your own life was in danger.

We may not live in the Old Testament times, but as we can see, there is still much we can learn from the Old Testament Law.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters on Theopologetics

I don’t have a full post this time. I just wanted to let everyone know that you can listen to Allie and I on the Theopologetics Podcast. The link can be found here.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Shut Up!

Can’t you be more tolerant? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

In the debates over marriage today, we are often told as Christians that we are haters, we are bigots, we are homophobes, and we are intolerant. Now keep in mind I don’t mind someone having a different opinion on homosexuality than I do. What I do mind is this kind of behavior that does not deal with the arguments but rather deals with the attitudes of the person. Arguments like this distract us from the data.

Keep in mind there were people who were screaming for us to be open for years for people to live the way they wanted to individually. If they wanted to be homosexual, let them be homosexual. Let them love the person they want to and let us stay out of it. Now I think that their behavior is immoral, but fair enough. I don’t want to legislate against it. One aspect of Natural Law thinking is that you are willing to allow some lesser evils for the greater good of human freedom.

Now today we are the ones telling the homosexual community and their supporters to do what we have really been doing. That is to allow us the right to live the way we do and practice our religion that way. We believe homosexual behavior is sinful. Now you are free to believe all you want that it’s a sexual behavior with no moral ramifications. The point is that we do not think so. We think that whole debate is still open and to not listen to that debate is to treat our opinion like it doesn’t matter, not really tolerant is it?

You may not think homosexual behavior is wrong. Fine. We as Christians do think it is and if we really think that, which we do, it is the most loving thing that we can do to state it. Now of course, that does not mean that it is always said in a loving way or said out of love period. The reality is that when it’s done in an immoral way we condemn it even if it is true. While we hold that homosexual behavior is immoral, that does not mean we support a group like Westboro Baptist. I think bullying is wrong on all fronts and the only people I get tough with are those who are trying to bully others.

And yes, that is happening. There are people being hurt by the homosexual community and their supporters by this title of “haters.” Consider the case of Adam Smith who drove through the drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A and told the girl running the drive-thru that their company was a hate company. This man did not have the guts to park his car, get out, and go into the store and talk to the manager who would have some authority. This lady is just doing her job and got bullied. Now the guy got fired, but what happened to that girl for the rest of the day?

What about the store that had spray-painted on it “Tastes Like Hate.” Anyone working there could think that if a person is willing to vandalize, what else could they be willing to do? Look. We understand that you want to get your viewpoint out there but the best way to do that is not to try to win by using these kinds of tactics. If you want to discuss the issues, discuss the issues. (Note also I do realize not all homosexuals and not all people who agree with SSM are like this)

What is this doing when someone is told that they are a hater? Here is what the person who is being called a hater is being told. “SHUT UP!”

What you are saying is that your mind is made up, and there is nothing wrong with having a conviction mind you, but you do not even think the other side deserves a hearing. You are telling them that you will not listen to them at all. Their opinion is not worth it. This all the while telling them they should be tolerant of the other side. Excuse me if we don’t hear it when this kind of event happens.

This keeps you from discussing why the person holds the opinion that they hold. Why do that? Because in telling them they’re a homophobe or a bigot, you’re just saying “I don’t care why you think what you think. I’m going to tell you to be quiet or you will not be accepted.” If you’re sure your opinion is the correct one, the reality is that you should not be afraid to hear the other side. Why should anyone treat your opinion seriously when you automatically refuse to listen to someone else’s?

As one who is in the area of apologetics, I find that I love to hear what the other side says. I am sure I am right. I realize I could be wrong, but I have my opinion after years of study. It is enjoyable to enter into the debate and think you can win simply by pointing to the facts on your side and the bad reasoning and lack of facts or information that is not true but is claimed to be factual that the opponent presents.

What is happening is meant to end dialogue and not encourage it and quite frankly is simply emotional reasoning. You cannot determine whether homosexual practice is right or wrong based on how you feel. What if someone else feels differently? Why should your feelings trump everyone else’s? You also cannot command someone to just feel differently. IF that were the case, most of us would command ourselves to feel happy. We’d like to, but we don’t. Ever had one of those nights where you want to try to sleep but you’re up worrying? Telling yourself to feel calm doesn’t really end the matter.

How about we come and actually discuss the data and not use emotional reasoning. Let’s discuss homosexuality. Let’s discuss marriage itself. Let’s discuss morality. Let’s talk about the data. I don’t come to this debate to talk about you or me. I come to talk about the data. Let’s do that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters