Fulfilling the Law

What did Jesus mean when He said He came to fulfill the Law? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is one of the most debated passages really. It leads to debates about the view of the Law in the Old Testament and its place in the life of Christians today. Let’s look at the verses. It’s Matthew 5:17-18.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

Okay. Well did Jesus abolish the Law for us? One thing to keep in mind is that Gentiles were NEVER under the Law to begin with. This was a debate in Acts 15 and yet these words of Jesus were never brought up.

Okay, but what about Jews? Jews were under the Law and yet Paul and Peter both apparently lived like Gentiles at times at least. Why would they do that?

This gets us to the idea of the fulfillment of the Law. Jesus is not doing away with the Law. He is fulfilling what God really wanted. God really wanted righteousness in His people. The Law could change their outward behavior and while that can change hearts eventually, that normally doesn’t last long term. What is needed is a heart change.

This is what Jesus came to bring about. What He is describing in His kingdom is what happens when that heart change takes place. When we see the Kingdom coming, we will see more than just outward motions. Jesus’s commands in the sermon constantly talk about the status of the heart over the actions.

Jesus fulfilled the Law in that He met its righteous requirements. That doesn’t mean the Law is useless to us today. We see the nature of God revealed in the Law and there are still moral principles in the Law most everyone holds to today. Most of us do agree that you should not steal or you should not murder, for example.

In future entries, we will look at the righteousness that is demanded in the Kingdom. It won’t be my favorite part to look at either. We all fall short.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Who Gives The Sermon on the Mount?

Who is it that is giving this sermon? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In looking at eschatology in the Gospels, one thing to establish is Jesus’s view of Himself as the king of Israel and yet also as the priest of Israel. I said last time that we would be looking at the Sermon on the Mount. Today, I am going to really start off by looking at that sermon.

Now the question of who gave it sounds like a no-brainer. Jesus gave it. If that’s all we’re really asking by the question, then this blog is pretty much done. The question though is more how did the person who gave it see Himself and also how is Matthew presenting Him?

Matthew constantly presents Jesus in a style that is very Jewish. His book is laid out in a fivefold format much like the Pentateuch would have been seen in. It’s split between teaching and acting. At the start, we have Jesus going to John the Baptist to be baptized going under the water. After going through the water, He enters the wilderness for 40 days and nights to be tempted.

Does this sound like any story a Jew would know? Definitely. It sounds like Israel passing through the waters of the Red Sea (In a miraculous way, of course) and then going into the wilderness where they were tempted for forty years. What comes in all of that? The giving of the Law. Lo and behold, what do we find in chapter five?

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

It might seem like a given to say He opened His mouth to teach them. What else is He going to do? Sign language? However, Matthew chose to point this out for a reason. What is that? To make us think about the Law coming from the mouth of YHWH in the Old Testament.

Jesus then gets up and He starts expounding the Law. He starts explaining what is meant by it. We can say this is consistent with Jesus because one thing historical Jesus scholars note about Him is that He never really pointed to anyone else’s authority aside from God Himself. Jesus did not need to address any other rabbis. If all you had was the Gospels, you wouldn’t even know other rabbis existed.

Jesus is treading on sacred ground. He is handling the Law and saying that He alone has the authority. He alone can go up on the mountain and deliver the law to the people. He is the new Moses leading His people. He is the new priest. He is the new king.

He will also speak as what He says has divine authority and if He really thinks that, then how does He see Himself? You could say that any prophet in the Old Testament would do the same, but Jesus never goes “Thus sayeth the Lord.” He says quite the opposite. He says “You have heard it was said…., but I say to you.” The prophets didn’t speak like that.

So as we go through the sermon, let’s remember this is the priest telling us how to live and this is the king looking at His subjects saying this is how my reign is going to be. What will it be like? Looking at the sermon in future installments will tell us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Torahism

What do I think of R.L. Solberg’s book published by Williamson College Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are many things that bring the Christmas season home to me and make the holiday so special. Getting to put up decorations, going out and looking for lights, getting together with friends and family and exchanging gifts, hearing Christians tell me that Christmas is pagan, good times. No holiday season ever seems complete without that last group showing up.

So it is that when R.L. Solberg had a friend say the same thing on Facebook, he engaged with the post and found himself caught up in something greater. As a result, he wrote Torahism asking if Christians are to keep the law of Moses? Torahism can often go beyond that as some people like this deny the Trinity and the deity of Christ and are definitely very anti-Catholic.

So looking at Solberg’s book, I’ll start with the things I liked about it and then suggest areas I’d like to see improved.

First, I’m glad that the book has been written. There are too many people who are Christians and not Torahists who also have questions about the Law of Moses. There are too many atheists that present the Law as if it was to be a perfect guide for all time and be the perfect moral system. Both need answers to their questions.

Second, the book is easy to understand. You don’t need to have a Seminary background to understand what is being said here. Solberg writes in simple language and does not use complex terminology.

Third, each chapter is stand alone so you can look at each section that is relevant to what you’re talking about and getting it from there. Of course, you could read straight through like I did, but it’s not necessary. The information is really easy to find.

So what we have is good, but there are some changes I would like to see Solberg make for future editions.

First, more engagement with the scholarship in the field, especially Old Testament scholars like John Walton, Tremper Longman, Michale Heiser, Walter Kaiser, and others. It would have been good to see what scholars in the field say about the Law. I am especially thinking about Walton’s book The Lost World of the Torah.

Second, in the section on the deity of Christ, I would have liked more answers on such questions like “How could Jesus die on the cross if God can’t die?” I would have liked to have seen more on the Trinity. With this, a work like How God Became Jesus would be great.

Third, one point I was surprised to not see mentioned was that of slavery. Would Torahists like to have some kind of system like this? Along those same lines, would Torahists be open to allowing a man to have more than one wife?

It is always good to see people filling a niche in the apologetics world. A group like the one called Torahism is one that needs some responding to. I am thankful Solberg took the time to answer them and I hope that there will be further expansion on this work.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/29/2019

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

One of the most talked about biblical movies of all time is the Ten Commandments. These ten laws have become enshrined in our culture. You can see them at the Supreme Court building and they are often seen to be the moral foundation of our civilization.

We want to say that, but then it gets confusing. Is the fourth commandment required in our society and if so, why do we observe it on Sunday instead of Saturday? What about other laws that are there? If your wife is having her period, is it wrong to have sex with her? Should we wear tattoos if we’re Christians? And geez, doesn’t the Old Testament allow for slavery?

The law is confusing.

What if we’re misunderstanding it? What if the Law, while often containing good moral principles for us, really isn’t even, well, Law? What if it is something different? What could we see about it if we compared it to other cultures in the Ancient Near East?

And if there’s any Old Testament scholar who knows how to do that, it’s my guest this Saturday. After all, this is the man who has had his hand in a continued series on this very topic. Book after book has come out opening readers to a new world in the Old Testament. Well, maybe a new world isn’t the best way to describe it. After all, every book in this series refers to a lost world. The author of this series is, of course, John Walton, and he returns once again this Saturday to talk about his book The Lost World of the Torah.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

John H. Walton (Ph.D. Hebrew Union College) is Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School where he has taught for almost twenty years. Dr. Walton has published nearly 30 books, among them commentaries, reference works, text books, scholarly monographs, and popular academic works. He was the Old Testament general editor for the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (NIV, NKJV, NRSV), and is perhaps most widely known for the “Lost World” books (including The Lost World of Genesis One,The Lost World of Adam and Eve, and The Lost World of the Flood). His areas of expertise include the importance of the ancient Near East for interpreting the Old Testament as well as the dialogue between science and faith.

I hope you’ll be listening as we discuss the Old Testament Law and how we are to understand it. What does it mean for us as Christians? Do we apply it across the board or not? If it’s not in effect, does that mean we can totally ignore it? What moral principles can we get if any from the Law?

I am working on getting the shows for this month updated. We are having some problems with the web site. Please be patient as I am working on things and in the meantime, you can check to see some of them on YouTube. Please also leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast on iTunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Lost World of the Torah

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

Several years ago, Weird Al came out with a song called “Everything You Know Is Wrong.” One could say that if the Waltons are right, everything you know about the Law is wrong. The Waltons come with a new way of reading the Torah that is not without controversy, but those who disagree will still have something to think about.

The book starts the usual way with the idea that Torah is an ancient document. This seems like something so simple and obvious, but it is easily missed. Too many times, we take the text and then thrust it into our modern context and assume the writers of the Old Testament were writing from the same cultural context that we are.

What is important in understanding any ancient work is not just what is said, but the world in which it is said. The background knowledge of the text makes all the difference. There are some things my wife and I can say to each other that will make each of us laugh that you are not likely to understand as an outsider. The reason is the simple word or words bring out memories that are funny based on our background knowledge.

Getting into the meat of the matter, the first major section is that the law codes are not legislation. If we took just one law in America in all of its fullness, it could very well be longer than the Torah itself. We cover every possible rule and scenario we can think of. Not so in the ancient world. It was more guidelines there. It could be seen as wisdom literature. One scenario I was surprised was not mentioned at this point was Solomon. Solomon wanted to know how to rule over the people. He never figured, “I have the Law so I have everything that I need.” No. He asked for wisdom and in his famous scenario of the two prostitutes and the baby, that wisdom won the day.

The next is that other cultures had rituals serving to meet the needs of the gods. The gods needed food and everything else and man was meant to supply them in exchange for blessings from the gods. Not so with YHWH who needed nothing. Israel was chosen for entirely different reasons.

Instead, Israel was chosen and rituals were done to maintain covenant order, which is the next major point. We should read the Law as a covenant. In this, the recipients of the covenant would swear loyalty to the sovereign and in exchange, the sovereign would give them blessings. Covenant is so huge in understanding the Law that we will go wrong if we do not see it that way. If we see it as just a random set of rules to be followed, we miss the point.

From there, we get to the ongoing usage. For one thing, the New Testament quotations of the Law do not show how it was necessarily understood by its first recipients. The purpose of the Law was also not to provide salvation. It also should not be divided into different kinds of law such as ceremonial and cultic. Most challenging today perhaps is that we should not go and get prooftexts to settle moral disputes today. We should read it as it was written.

There is also a very helpful section at the end dealing with the Ten Commandments. It’s a quite thorough look that can actually deal with many atheistic statements about the Ten Commandments one encounters today. The Waltons show how the Ten Commandments fit into a covenant system.

I thought it would have been helpful to have more examples of how the Torah should be read. Perhaps take a section and show how we read it today and then give an explanation from there on how they would have understood it. There is much in the book that will be debated and I can’t say I’m entirely sold on it yet, but there is certainly a lot of food for thought to consider.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Irresistible.

What do I think of Andy Stanley’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Andy Stanley has in the past made himself a controversial figure. It’s understandable why that is. He knows in his newest book that he’s putting himself in a risky position. The whole idea behind the book is how to make the faith irresistible and reclaiming what Jesus launched into the world.

At that start, I even wonder. Can we ever say that Christianity was truly irresistible? It seems like a lot of people did a pretty good job resisting it. So much so that Paul required a personal experience to stop murdering Christians and the Romans didn’t really hesitate to persecute them.

Stanley has been put under fire for statements he has made about the Old Testament and inerrancy. I do understand both. I have a lot more sympathy with the trouble he got into on the latter. My father-in-law, Mike Licona, got caught up in inerrancy debates just because he dared to interpret one passage differently and then a host of others were brought out. I think a lot of people got turned off on the topic of inerrancy because of that.

The Old Testament, I am a bit more cautious on. I think Stanley does make it right more towards the end. He shows that when people come to believe in Jesus in the New Testament, they do come to embrace and study the Old Testament more. Well and good. Still, I wonder if he thinks that Old Testament apologetics is all a waste.

I don’t think he does, but one can get that impression sometimes. I think there are many great and precious truths in the Old Testament. My wife came to know Jesus because of a passage in the Old Testament. Many of us know it. It’s Psalm 139 where God says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. The Old Testament tells us we are in the image of God and begins the story of sacred space that God seeks to create. I am fully convinced that without understanding the Old Testament, your understanding of the New will be woefully inadequate. Sometimes, I do wonder if many doctrines I disagree with in the church fathers came up because none of them, as far as I know, were Jewish.

I think sometimes Stanley’s language of the Old Testament can be over the top. Yes. The book of Hebrews refers to the old covenant as obsolete. That does not mean the Old Testament is obsolete. The Testament contains the covenant, but it is more than the covenant.

Yes. The God of the Old Testament is seen as violent at times, but what about the God of the book of Revelation? Yes. The God of the Old Testament said things about slaves, but what about the fact that Jesus and Paul never told people to release their slaves en masse? The God of the Old Testament condemned homosexuality and so did Paul, but you know, Jesus didn’t say anything about it so maybe it’s okay.

I should clarify I think Jesus didn’t speak about it because in ancient Israel, it wasn’t an issue. It was just condemned and if anything, Jesus’s silence on the matter should be seen as tacit agreement with the principle. He didn’t hesitate to speak out in other places where he thought the law was not right, such as divorce.

This isn’t to say that I disagree with everything Stanley says in this book. Some material I think is quite helpful. I think it’s important to realize that a contradictin in the Bible does not spell the end of Christianity. I think it’s important to realize that we don’t have to answer every question about the Old Testament, or even the New for that matter. I think it’s important to realize that we can know moral truths apart from the Law.

I also think it’s a great point to say that we meet many people who say they want to get as close to that fine line without crossing over it as they can, which is a self-emphasis. On the other hand, there are many people who want to be full of God and the Holy Spirit and have a passion in prayer and such. Unfortunately, that can also still be just an emphasis on self. You want to have these things sometimes because you want to be sure you are in the right.

I think it’s a good insight to say that the love of God must not be just vertical, but it must be horizontal as well. I think though that Stanley can neglect the vertical in some cases. What about passages like Matthew 6 where you go into your prayer closet alone and don’t show people that you’re praying? Your Father who sees in secret rewards you.

Of course, if we do something just for a reward, that’s not good, but sometimes God tells us to do things and we will be blessed. The verse in question is one such case. Let’s face it. When a man starts dating a girl, you can say all you want the nobility of love and such, and many good men somewhere do, but yeah, he’s also thinking about the privilege of having sex with her.

I think it’s a great question to ask what love would require of us. What is the most loving thing we can do? It’s a good principle to look at if we want to study how it is a Christian should walk. It’s also noteworthy that the apostles repeatedly pointed to the example of Christ and walking like Jesus.

I also did enjoy the bit on eschatology and the destruction of the temple. I have been an orthodox Preterist for years and it’s good to see someone well-known like Stanley presenting this viewpoint. I hope more Christians will come to embrace it.

In the end, I have mixed feelings. I understand the motivation behind the book and why it is that way and for that, I agree, but I still fear we can be too dismissive. I wondered at times about how Stanley would answer if someone asked who was skeptical about Jesus, “Is the God of the Old Testament the Father of Jesus?” I don’t doubt that Stanley thinks such, but I just wondered.

But if Stanley wanted controversy, he’s certainly produced a work that will bring it about. If Stanley has overstated his case, then it could just be that this leads to the work that can bring about the necessary corrective that will be the balance without going to the extreme that the inerrancy witch hunt has gone. I am also thankful for excellent work in New Testament scholarship, but I hope we will see more in Old Testament as well, like Walton and Longman.

If you pick up this book and read it, you might agree with most of it, you might disagree. Either way, you will have an opinion. Most everyone who reads this will have something to think about.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Old Testament Theology For Christians

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

Sometimes I have a suspicion that if many Christians were honest about their Bibles, you would find Genesis 1-3 in them and then the very next words would be the opening of the Gospel of Matthew. Many of us treat the Old Testament almost as if its apocryphal literature. We can get some moral precepts from it every now and then and it has some good stories, but if we want to know who God is, we have to go to the New Testament.

There can be no doubt that Christ is the greatest revelation we have of God, but there should also be no doubt that the Old Testament is authoritative revelation. The Old Testament is, as Philip Yancey would say, the Bible Jesus read. We ignore it to our own peril.

Yet while we say we don’t ignore it, when we go there, we are often just looking to see if we can find Jesus in every passage. We’re not often looking to see what the Old Testament says about God. We also take our ideas from the New Testament and while they are true, we assume that they must be what the Old Testament authors had in mind.

I have encouraged Christians for some time that when they read the Old Testament, they cease to be Christians. Instead, try to read it as if you lived at the time that it was written. Be a Jew then and picture how you would hear it. Then you can think of how you would read it as a 1st century Christian in the light of Christ and then how you would read it today.

Fortunately, we now have John Walton’s work with us. Walton is an Old Testament scholar par excellence. He has a devotion to Christ and a passion for the Old Testament. Those do not contradict. All Christians should have a great love for the Old Testament.

Walton’s book takes us through a journey of the culture of the Old Testament. We explore issues that we talk about in Christianity today. How did monotheism play out in ancient Israel and how did Israel relate to its God in a way that was similar to the way the pagans did with their deities? How was it different? What role did a deity play in creation?

What is the theme of the Old Testament? What was the yearning in the heart of the average Israelite? How did this theme play out in the Old Testament and what does it say about the New Testament?

On and on Walton takes us through the world of the cosmos to the meaning of the promise of land to Israel to understanding the Law. He also has a final section dealing with how many Christians and skeptics today read the Old Testament. If there seems to be any overarching message, it’s to really try to wrestle with and understand the Old Testament as a revelation of God meant to reveal who He is and not just details that will be fleshed out in the New Testament.

Going through the book will give you several insights. One such one that comes to mind for me is why is it Israel was seen as wrong in 1 Samuel for wanting a king when God had already made allowances for a king in the Law and was planning on making David king as well. Walton points out the problem was not wanting a king but wanting a king to be like the other nations and to do so thinking that would mean the favor of God.

I really recommend getting this book if you want to study the Old Testament and know it better. If you don’t want to, then you already have a major problem you need to deal with. The Old Testament is a revelation of God and we need it to understand God. It also does indeed provide us greater understanding of the New Testament to know what came before it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Old Testament Law For Christians

What do I think of Roy Gane’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The Old Testament Law can be very challenging for Christians. Many of us skip over those sections thinking that they have no relevance to our lives. That was the old covenant. We are in the new covenant. Why should we go back there? Let’s skip to all the stuff about Jesus!

However, the Old Testament is just as much a part of our Bible as is the New and the law is just as much a part of our Bible as are the epistles. We need to understand this part of our Bibles to see what God has to say for us today. Unfortunately, many of us are so caught up in our own culture that we can’t imagine stepping outside and seeing what life in another culture could be like, let alone another time or place.

The past is a strange place. They do things differently there. So do they also with the world of the Old Testament. Many of us pick it up and read it like it’s a modern law code. Many of us pick it up and read it like it’s supposed to be the best of the best laws and that if we followed these, we would have a utopia on Earth. Many of us read these as if they have zero relevance to us today. All of these approaches are wrong.

All of these kinds of approaches Gane takes on looking at the way many Christians view the relationship between the two covenants. As someone who criticizes dispensationalism often as a system, I found myself wishing many of them that I interact with online would read something like this. On the other end, people who hold to a more theonomist perspective are also interacted with.

Gane points out in addition that the laws are not to be read in a sort of sense where the same penalty had to be applied. They were more of a guideline for the judges and the judges could use their own discretion if evidence came forward that they thought required it. The judge had a lot more power than was thought and did not have to punish to the full extent of the law, but the law did set a limit.

Gane also deals with many of our more controversial issues today. One of these no doubt today is homosexuality. Gane does indeed say that the restrictions on homosexuality are still applicable for today. The way we handle it is different since we’re not a theocracy, but this is still something God forbids.

The laws are also not meant to lead us to Utopia, but they are meant to make us think about loving our neighbor more. If you are to care for your enemy’s animal, should you not also care for your enemy? This was supposed to instill in the Israelites a new ethic that would better prepare them for the new covenant.

If there was any major disagreement I have with Gane, it comes with the food laws and such. Gane thinks that these are in place and still apply to Christians. I really cannot see any basis for that in the New Testament and Gentiles were never placed under the Law of Moses so I don’t see how we ever could be.

Despite that, the rest of it would be something interesting especially for many of the skeptics we encounter in our journeys on the world of the internet. Those who complain about the Old Testament Law will never likely pick up a tome like this. It is at their loss that they do not learn about this world. It is a loss that we Christians often don’t learn about it either and miss some of God’s message for us today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/7/2017: Ross Clifford

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

Did Jesus rise from the dead? This is the question upon which the Christian faith rests. Of course, to answer a question like this, you need evidence, and if there are a group of people that love evidence and arguing from it, it’s lawyers. So how would the resurrection stand up in a court of law? Could you make a legal case for the resurrection of Jesus?

To answer this, I have decided to bring on someone who does specialize in legal apologetics. He is someone trained in the area of law and decided to use his legal skills on the case for the resurrection of Jesus to see if it would hold up. It did, and in his book Leading Lawyers’ Case For The Resurrection, he looks at seven lawyers and one thought to be a lawyer who also made a case for the evidence surrounding the death and the resurrection of Jesus and came out believers. His name is Ross Clifford and he’ll be joining us.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Ross Clifford is Principal of Morling Theological College, Sydney.  Prior to entering the Baptist ministry he practised as a solicitor and barrister.  He was the pastor of two Sydney Baptist churches each of which grew dramatically.  He is the author of nine books including The Cross is Not Enough: Living as Witnesses to the Resurrection. He co-pioneered outreaches into Mind.Body.Spirit festivals.  He is a former President of the Baptist Union of Australia, former and current President of the NSW Council of Churches, President of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, recent Chair of the Australian Lausanne Committee, and is a Vice President of the Baptist World Alliance for 2010-2015.  In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2010 he was made a member of the Order of Australia (AM).  He is married to Beverley and they have two children.  His passions include legal crime novels, cricket and all brands of football.

What makes a legal case distinctive from a historical case? How strong is it? Could it really stand up in a court of law? After all, we supposedly have these accounts that wildly contradict and differ from one another. They are supposed to be late as the skeptics say. Isn’t that a problem?

And what about hearsay? Isn’t that all that the accounts are? If so, then how can they possibly be used in a court of law to make the claim that Jesus rose from the dead? We certainly can’t get Paul and the writers of the Gospels to take the stand and get to question them. How do we do it when all we have is pretty much ancient documents?

In looking at the legal cases provided, I found them quite fascinating and I hope you will as well. Please be watching your podcast feed for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. If you like the show also, please go on ITunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Leading Lawyers’ Case For The Resurrection

What do I think of Ross Clifford’s book published by 1517 Legacy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Lawyers are people who specialize in evidence and making the best case they can. They’re meant to examine their side and the other side and be prepared for the best objections. They stake their reputation on presenting the best argument and being able to best their opponents with evidence and argumentation.

So what about a case like the resurrection? Could legal argumentation be used to back that case? Would any lawyer really take on the case that Jesus rose from the dead and argue in a court of law that that is what happened and expect that a rational jury would conclude that they were correct?

Apparently, Clifford has found seven who would. The eighth, Morrison, with his book Who Moved The Stone? is not a lawyer, but used many of the same techniques. He used them so well he is often thought of as being a lawyer. Clifford takes each of these lawyers on a cumulative case step by step to establish the verdict that Jesus rose from the dead.

Clifford is a lawyer as well and so he knows how to examine the case and see that there’s no funny business being pulled. He has brought together a quick resource that can be read easily and doesn’t use a lot of legal terminology that would confuse the layman. It’s also a short work. You can read it in a day or two, quite possibly a date if you really work at it.

He also has not found slouches in the field. All of the men here were recognized in their own time including if that time is our present. Clifford includes an introduction to their life and their legal practice. He then goes through each one and gives a brief summary of the case that they especially argued for.

Also useful will be the appendices in the back. One particular one involved a claim that is often heard today and that was dealing with the charge that the Gospels would be seen as hearsay evidence. Clifford shows that this is not the case and then points to a resource that can be used to show other cases that were solved on similar grounds. One difference he gives is that the cases that do not allow hearsay are more about a particular individual and not a particular truth claim. An individual would get to face his accuser in court after all.

Clifford’s book left me impressed with the legal case and thinking that legal apologetics is something I need to take a lot more seriously. If anything, I would have liked Clifford to have added in his own case. A brief chapter would be good on how Clifford would have gone forward in making a case that Jesus rose from the dead. Perhaps sometime in the future Clifford could write out a dialogue of sorts where he would describe a court case and the case for the resurrection being made to show how this would be done.

Those interested in defending the resurrection owe it to themselves to get this book. It is a good and small introduction and will point you to other leading lawyers who can make a case. The defense of Christ is helped by having the best from all fields after all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters