Evil And The Burden of Proof

Who has the burden of proof when it comes to evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There’s often a debate about who has the burden of proof in a discussion. Many atheists will automatically assume that a theist has a burden of proof. This is really begging the question to argue that the theist has something additional to add to reality since it assumes reality is atheistic. My rule is much simpler. If anyone makes a claim, they have a burden to show it.

Thus, if I get into a debate about the existence of God and I say “God exists”, then I have the burden. If we are talking and you say “God doesn’t exist”, you have the burden. Note also it won’t work to say “Well demonstrate otherwise.” Even if I could not demonstrate the existence of God, it does not mean His non-existence has been demonstrated.

So when it comes to evil, evil is a claim that God does not exist. Some atheists will be more lenient and say it is probable that God doesn’t exist. Most internet atheists haven’t got the memo yet that the logical problem of evil isn’t used by academic philosophers anymore.

This will often come down to what is called gratuitous evil. This is evil that it is thought that no greater good can come out of this or no greater evil is prevented by this. I hope observant readers will notice that this is a very bold claim. How could someone know this? The problem for the claimant is that they need to back this.

Now you as at the person not supporting this argument, theist or not, do not have the burden here. I think you should answer, but never lose sight of the fact that you don’t have the burden. Let’s suppose that you don’t have a reason why God allowed a particular evil to occur. So what? Are you obligated to have personal insight into God and know why He does everything He does?

Now some might say that you need to show that God exists if you’re going to assert it’s possible for God to bring about a greater good or prevent a greater evil. This is false. Note that this is an argument against Christian theism or at least general theism. With that, you take God as He is in the system, which would include the omni qualities. The argument is meant to show if the existing of evil is compatible with the reality of God. If you want to say that God might not be powerful enough or know enough, then you’re dealing with a different concept of God.

This is one reason I really don’t find evil convincing. There is a huge burden of proof. One could go with an argument that says that it is improbable that God exists, but then if you’re a theist, you could have several arguments in waiting, like the Thomistic arguments I prefer. If you do, then you have prior justification for your theistic position.

For the arguments I have, they are deductive and lead to the conclusion with certainty. I also think the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is powerful enough. I will grant that evil is certainly emotionally appealing. When I am suffering, my head tells me the truth of Christian theism, but my heart says otherwise. It is not really the temptation of atheism that I face. It’s more what Lewis described. God is real and this is what He’s really like.

Remember again that you do not have to provide a reason why a particular evil has occurred. Your lack of such a reason does not mean that there is no reason. That is the claim your opponent must meet and you are not obligated to demonstrate his argument for him, which you can’t anyway. If he can’t meet it, then you have no obligation to be persuaded. In reality, neither does he.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Self-Contradictory Moral Relativists

How do moral relativists contradict themselves? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is not a blog against moral relativism so much as against moral relativists. I will in this blog accept that hypothetically moral relativism could be true. It could be true that there is nothing good or evil but thinking makes it so. It could be that good and evil are just subejctive ideas we have with no real grounding in reality.

I think that’s all nonsense, but I’m not arguing against that here.

What I am arguing against is the position of many people who espouse moral relativism. What I’m discussing happens on a regular basis and they never seem to see the contradiction. The people I know that espouse moral relativism the most often turn and post about all the evil things they think God does or God allows.

What will happen is you’ll have a thread on Facebook or some place like that and you will see someone say that the God of the Old Testament is an evil villain for putting people to death. Okay. They’re allowed to have that opinion. That’s a separate piece to argue against, but that is not the point here. Then in the replies to their claim, they will go and espouse moral relativism and say that there is no good or evil.

So let’s make this clear.

If you are a moral relativist, it is inconsistent to speak about something being good or evil and at the same time say that there is no good or evil. What you’re really saying ultimately is that God doesn’t exist because He does things you don’t like. In other words, the only God you’ll agree exists is one that agrees entirely with you. I would hope most of us would realize that if God exists, odds are we have a lot of claims wrong about reality and He knows better.

Now you could hypothetically say that if moral realism is true, then Christianity has a problem with the problem of evil. I don’t think we do, but at least you’re being consistent then and saying “On your view of moral realism, this is a problem.” Despite that, I wonder how it is that you can recognize the evil that you complain about anyway.

Let’s also be clear on something else. When we say that God is needed to know what the good is, that does not mean you need explicit knowledge of God in some way to know what goodness is. Goodness is part of general revelation and is there for everyone to know about. You need God to ground the good, but you do not need God to know the good.

If you want to be a moral relativist, that is your choice, but please do not be inconsistent and talk about the problem of evil or the evil things God does or anything like that. At the same time, be consistent and say that there is nothing truly good either. Good luck also living that worldview consistently. I don’t think it’s possible and every time I see a moral relativist complain about evil, I take it as further confirmation that it’s not tenable.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On Josh Harris

What do I think of Josh Harris’s “Deconstruction?” Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Back when I was in Bible College, I remember hearing a lot of talk about a book called I Kissed Dating Good-Bye. I never read it because frankly, dating and I had never even really got to say hello to one another. My apologetics books were much more interesting to me anyway. While I was unaffected, it turns out that many people were affected by this book.

While I am sure Harris had a lot of passion and good intentions, it looks like he did not have knowledge and experience. Still, his book had a major impact on the purity culture. The purity culture had a great desire for holiness, but they also had a number of huge problems. Purity should be emphasized, but often it sounds like sex destroys purity. If you have sex before marriage, which you shouldn’t, you’re just damaged goods.

I also know a lot of people who wanted the first kiss at the altar idea. I really can’t go along with this as there is supposed to be some physical involvement in dating. I think that as long as you’re not touching intimate areas, you’re fine.

But this isn’t about dating. This is about Josh Harris. It’s been known that he recently had a divorce from his wife. As it turns out, it’s not only dating and his wife that he kissed good-bye, but also….

“My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision.⁣⁣
I am learning that no group has the market cornered on grace. This week I’ve received grace from Christians, atheists, evangelicals, exvangelicals, straight people, LGBTQ people, and everyone in-between. Of course there have also been strong words of rebuke from religious people. While not always pleasant, I know they are seeking to love me. (There have also been spiteful, hateful comments that angered and hurt me.)⁣⁣
The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.⁣⁣
Martin Luther said that the entire life of believers should be repentance. There’s beauty in that sentiment regardless of your view of God. I have lived in repentance for the past several years—repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few. But I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.⁣⁣
To my Christians friends, I am grateful for your prayers. Don’t take it personally if I don’t immediately return calls. I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful. I believe with my sister Julian that, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” “

All of this is available on his Instagram.

So what are we to make of this? One step I can think immediately is to stop creating the celebrity culture, especially for Christians too young to know better. Harris was put in a spotlight, which is hard for anyone, but harder still when one doesn’t have the maturity needed for fame. Just consider young child celebrities we often see today.

Second, Harris has talked about growing up in a fundamentalist background. This often does lead to a kind of apostasy. You all know I am extremely conservative on sexual morals, but many times fundamentalism even goes beyond that. It’s as if any sexual thought whatsoever is dirty and wicked.

Third, we need more training on marriage. It did not escape notice that Harris has gone a full 180 and is now saying that he is supporting so-called marriage equality. If anything, this was something that really stood out to me and left me wondering why this was included.

Should we pray for Harris? Absolutely, yet at the same time, the fact that this is such a story does make me think that we have too much of a celebrity culture built up. Pray for his ex-wife too. Keep in mind that we don’t know why this happened and we will naturally speculate, but we can’t demonstrate anything yet. We’ll wait and see what happens.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

It’s Not Your Fault

What is the cause of your suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I are part of a group for Christians with Borderline Personality Disorder on Facebook. She has the condition. I don’t, but I am in there to be supportive. Yesterday, I saw a post by someone saying that they were being condemned by their church for having Borderline. They were supposedly making their Borderline an idol and they don’t have enough faith and they need to pray and read Scripture more and similar things. Naturally, if they truly had faith also, they would be healed.

Let’s be clear with some things at the start. We could all bear to pray more and read the Bible more. It also doesn’t hurt to examine ourselves and look for sinfulness in our own lives to work on.

Also, there are times where suffering is your own fault. If you drink alcohol and get in an accident because you were driving drunk, that is your fault. If you smoke all your life and get lung cancer, that is your fault. If you overeat and suffer the effects of obesity, that is your fault.

Yet some things you are born with or born with a predisposition to that are not your fault. A mental illness can be one of those things. While I am sure this is sometimes said to people with diabetes or people in wheelchairs, I am sure it is less often than it is for cases of mental illness, something the church just doesn’t really deal well with.

Mental illness has a stigma around it such that it is even thought to be connected with demonic activity. I do not doubt demons can influence us, but they cannot possess and control us and it’s too easy to blame our problems on a demon instead of realizing it could be something with us. If you have a mental illness, that is not your fault. What you do with the condition is your fault. I have Aspergers. I cannot control that. It is hard to look someone in the eye when I am talking to them, but that is something that I must actively work on.

In the same way, people with Borderline have powerful emotions that seem gripping and controlling. Can they be controlled? Yes. Is that easy? No. It can often require a combination of medication and therapy. It’s the same way with a phobia. One doesn’t just sit down and will through a phobia naturally. It takes concentrated work and effort to overcome it. I am terrified of water and when I get in a swimming pool, it takes a concentrated effort to move where I need to move. It is not bulldozed over.

The church doesn’t help with this when the church demands instant cures. Now, can an instant cure happen? Sure. God can do it if He wants to. I know people who come to Jesus who have addictions like alcohol and drugs and when they convert, they lose their addictions. That can happen. Sometimes, it does not happen. It is foolish and cruel to say the reason someone is suffering is that they don’t have enough faith.

It’s also just bad theology. Sometimes we do suffer for our own sins, as I said. Sometimes we suffer for the sins of others. Sometimes we suffer because this is a fallen world. It is a foolish person who thinks without divine revelation that he can tell you why a certain kind of suffering is taking place like that. We must be very careful whenever we make any sort of claim to speak for God.

What the sufferers often need most is not someone to fix their problems. We should have people who are ready to be good therapists and counselors and work with them, but if you’re not that, don’t try to be one. Here’s something you can be. You can be a listener. You can be a friend.

Try this for the person with mental illness that you know. Pick up a phone and call them. Send them a message on Facebook. Go to their place and visit them. Take them out to eat sometime. Show the other person you’re glad to have them around. Do not do anything to them that indicates that they are a bother. If you think having to deal with someone like that is a bother, it speaks more about you than it does about them.

Many people like this can struggle with thoughts of depression and suicide. How does it help someone like that to pile on to them? Don’t also tell them they’re being selfish or self-centered. In the moment, that is not helpful to them. It only gives them more reason to be depressed and/or suicidal.

Overall, be Jesus to these people. Jesus never turned away people who were truly suffering and in need. He always had the greatest of love for sinners. The people who thought they were alright were the people He had the most problems with. If people don’t think Jesus will accept them, maybe it’s because they’ve met too many people who claim to represent Jesus who haven’t.

I look forward to the day when the church treats mental illness in much the same way they treat physical illness. Of course, some churches are still horrible there, but I think it often gets worse for mental illness. Come alongside those who are suffering. Be a friend and confidant and really listen to them. If you reach out to someone you know with a condition, you never know how much hope that might give them.

You’ll truly be being Jesus to them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/27/2019

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

There are many things that bring me great joy in life. Two of them are getting to do Christian apologetics, and my beautiful wife Allie. What’s interesting is that for the most part, it seems the fairer sex and apologetics don’t normally go hand in hand. You have some exceptions like Holly Ordway, Mary Jo Sharp, Natasha Crain, and Nancy Pearcey. These are awesome to have, but it seems like for the most part, apologetics is a man’s world.

That could also include the home. In many cases, the man is the spiritual leader of the home even if he’s less advanced in Christianity. So when it comes to raising children, then shouldn’t it also be the man that teaches the child about Christianity and also how to defend it? Mothers are often so busy anyway. There’s taking care of the house, fixing meals, watching the kids, and everything else. Being a mother is often a sadly thankless job.

But could it be that part of this is wrong? Could a mother actually teach her child something about apologetics? How could she do so with a busy schedule as a mother? Is it possible to do something like that? Where could a mother go to learn this?

Fortunately, there has been a book that has come out aimed at mothers and their instinct as a mama bear. After all, a good mother will fight anyone with a fierceness if her children are in danger. Why not fight if the kid’s in spiritual danger? For that, we do need Mama Bears. These are bears that will roar like a mother.

For that, we need an organization like Mama Bear Apologetics. We also need a book like Mama Bear Apologetics. We also need someone who will be a spokeswoman for that movement, and that woman is Hillary Ferrer and she’ll be my guest this Saturday.

So who is she?

According to her bio:

Hillary Morgan Ferrer, founder of Mama Bear Apologetics, has a burden for providing accessible apologetics resources for busy moms. She has a master’s in biology and her specialties are scientific apologetics, dealing with doubt, and identifying causes and solutions for youth leaving the church. Currently, she serves as vice president of Women in Apologetics, a Christian non-profit organization dedicated to equipping, encouraging, and educating women in apologetics.

We’ll be talking about apologetics for mothers. How can a mother devote her life to being a wife and mother and at the same time do Christian apologetics? Ferrer has gathered a team of mothers around her who are interested in apologetics to work on this project together and help other mothers roar like a mother.

We are working on getting past shows on the web. I have seen that I have received an updated way to do that due to a web issue. Please be watching for the next episode and leave a positive review on iTunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


What’s there to celebrate? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So for many people, it’s their typical Wednesday. They get up and go to work and come home and see their families and go to bed. For some, it will be different, but for many, today is a day like any other day. I can’t blame them for that. For some people though, there can be something special about a day that to us seems absolutely normal.

For myself and my wife, that day is today. Today, we celebrate nine years of marriage together. On this date nine years ago, we stood at an altar and promised exclusive lifelong commitment to one another. That commitment has been tried and tested a few times, but it is still there.

Marriage is something incredible because by a divine speech-act as it were, something is called into being that wasn’t there before. Allie entered a church one day as Allie Licona and left that church as Allie Peters. I entered the church technically still a bachelor and left a husband.

Over time, love has grown. Now does that mean that the same feelings and excitement are always there like they were at the start? No. Of course not. There is instead something deeper. There is a love that is not dependent on my emotional state. It can lead to strong emotional states at times, but it goes beyond them.

Some people are surprised to hear that marriage is work. How can it be work to love someone? That’s pretty easy to say when the two of you are dating and you’re putting your best foot forward. It’s not as easy when you have to make a budget together, work out who will do the chores, and realize the other person snores and has morning breath sometimes.

In this, I find it helpful to remember that I am also very hard to love. We all are. There are things about us that drive other people around us crazy. (Okay. Sometimes on my end it is intentional.) Allie has to put up with a number of my mannerisms that seem normal to me but can drive her batty. Sometimes, those same idiosyncracies you thought were so cute when you were dating become major annoyances later on.

Yes. Marriage is hard work. Still, it is worthwhile hard work. There is nothing like having someone I can wake up to every morning and when we hit the road to go on another adventure together, and every trip is just that, she is by my side. There is the gift of getting to share your love together which in marriage includes the gift of sexuality and I am constantly amazed when I see my wife that her beauty never gets tiring. Despite her being nine years older, though since I married her young that means right now just 28, she has kept getting more and more beautiful in my eyes.

Everyday, my Princess is to be loved, but today is a day to especially celebrate that love. No. I am not telling what our plans are for the day as I have surprises in store that she does not know about, but that’s okay also because they’re not for you. They’re for my one and only, the lady who still brings a smile to my face.

Happy anniversary Allie! I love you so much!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Does Christianity Violate Logic?

Are any laws of logic violated by the story of Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have a saying about many skeptics that I meet that they honor reason with their lips but their heads are far from it. One such rule is the idea of logic. For many, being logical doesn’t mean following the laws of logic. It means just not believing in God and miracles because those violate logic because, well, they just do because that’s not logical.

To be fair, some skeptics will try to point out some logical contradictions in the nature of God, and this is entirely valid. If there is a logical contradiction in the nature of God, then God does not exist in the way we have conceived Him. If that is what is being done, that is not what this post is about. This post is about the claim that something like the resurrection of Jesus violates logic.

Let’s start by saying what laws of logic are. They are simple. The Law of Identity is A = A. What you are talking about is what you are talking about. Something is itself. The Law of Excluded Middle says that A is either B or non-B but nowhere in between. Something has to fall on the spectrum somewhere as either true or false. The Law of Noncontradiction says that A cannot both B and non-B in the same time and in the same sense. Contradictions can’t be true.

From here, consider a story like Cinderella. This is one that we all know is meant to be a fairy tale and not a historical reality. We can say all we want that the events in Cinderella never happened, but that does not mean that they violate logic. In the story, a fairy godmother turns a pumpkin into a coach and mice into horses.

Has any law of logic been violated? Not a one. What would be a violation is for mice to not be mice while being mice or for them to become horses and not become horses in the same time and in the same sense. It would also be the case that either the mice became horses or they did not.

Even the staunchest atheist can conceive of a story where a pumpkin becomes a coach. It doesn’t mean he thinks it would ever happen, but he can have a suspended disbelief of sorts where he watches the movie with a daughter, for example, and goes with the story as is. What he cannot conceive is a story where Cinderella has two pumpkins and the fairy godmother gives her two more and she has five pumpkins. You can conceive of a world of magic. You cannot conceive of one where 2 + 2 = 5.

So let’s look at the resurrection of Jesus. The event is the resurrection of Jesus and not anything else. It either happened or it didn’t even if it’s the case that we can’t know if it happened or not. There are no contradictions involved. A dead body coming back to life does not violate logic. You could try to argue it violates science or materialism, but not logic.

This is the case with most miracle claims out there. Whether they are true or not is another matter. Now if they violated logic, they could not be true, but in the same sense, just because they do not violate logic does not mean that they are true. Cinderella doesn’t violate logic, but that does not make it true. The truthfulness of the claim will be determined on other grounds, namely historical grounds.

In dialogue with skeptics, remember that logic refers to something very specific. Skeptics will often act like if you are logical you don’t believe in God or miracles or something of that sort. That needs to be backed. That kind of reasoning on their part is not illogical, but it is certainly not rational.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


What can we learn from this unknown man in the Bible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In my nightly Bible reading, I have been reading 3 John. This is a really short book so I read one verse a night and just think about it. The book opens with a greeting to the recipient, Gaius, who the author, who we will refer to as John be it the elder or apostle, prays that Gaius may be as well in body as he is in soul. This man must have a very good soul.

In the middle of the letter, we read about a man named Diotrephes. John writes that Diotrephes does not welcome him and those with him and spreads malicious nonsense anyway. When John comes, he will call attention to what is being done. After that, he tells Gaius to not imitate what is evil because those who do what is evil have not seen God. This I take to certainly be pointing back to Diotrephes.

Yet something else is said about Diotrephes.

He likes to be first.

So let’s consider the irony here. Gaius is as far as we know a quite humble individual. John speaks glowingly of him. Diotrephes is apparently a leader of the church since he has authority and his goal has been to be first. He wants to be the big man.

In his time, he could have been that. Yet here is the problem. His pride was keeping the good teaching out of the church because he wanted to be the one in power. He wanted to get the attention that would hold him up in honor.

What makes this even more ironic is that Diotrephes because of his pride wanted this number one position. He wanted to be known as the leader and no doubt, to be remembered as the leader. He took all these steps to insure that he was number one.

Yet today, we see Gaius being the recipient of this letter and him being the one spoken of in glowing terms. Meanwhile, everyone who has ever read this letter knows that Diotrephes is the bad guy. He wanted to be number one, but now he’s being seen as the villain that he is.

Because of his pride, Diotrephes did not become the first. In his eager dash for honor, he is now a person of shame. Not only that, he is that for all time. Anyone who reads the Bible will want to be more like Gaius than they will Diotrephes.

C.S. Lewis said that pride was the greatest of the sins, and indeed it is. It is because of the pride of Diotrephes that he is not remembered well in church history. Diotrephes had his own small community that he wanted to be number one at. Instead, not only did John publicly call him out, but all churches everywhere know that Diotrephes is someone you should not be like. Diotrephes’s pride led to a greater fall so that here, nearly 2,000 years later, he is still remembered as the villain of the letter.

Pride has no place in the church today at all still. When we are tempted, let’s remember Diotrephes and the impact he had on the church. We won’t appear in the Scriptures, to be sure, but eternity will remember what we do and the effects of our actions will carry over there. Make sure it’s something good for you. If you are a church leader definitely, do all you can to avoid pride.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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