No. Jesus Was Not Predicting The Transfiguration

Is the Transfiguration a prophecy fulfillment? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The Transfiguration shows up in each of the Synoptic Gospels. Before each of them comes another passage.

Matthew 16:

27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Mark 9:

1: And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

Luke 9:

26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

27 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

It makes sense to a lot of people to say that this is predicting the transfiguration. Unfortunately, both internet atheists and Christians often have the same problem. This verse is read in a literal sense often due to modern dispensationalism, but does it really fit to say this event is the fulfillment?

No.

Okay. See you next time!

Oh?

You want more than that?

Okay.

Let’s start with the fact that this event takes place a week later in the Gospels. By that, it’s usually not a great prophecy to predict something happening a week from now. Let’s suppose even if we went with something like the 2024 presidential election which at this point is in the future. Make a prediction a week before it happens and all things being equal, you likely have a 50% chance of being right. Predict something no one thinks is even possible and you might be on to something.

Not only that, but it’s hard to see how this event is the Kingdom of God coming in power. I would have no problem saying that this is a hint of what is coming. I suspect that this is part of the reason these passages are closely tied together.

Another problem with this is saying “Some here will not taste death until they see this.” Not only is it hardly a prediction to say “Some people here will not die before a week passes”, but it’s also not really a lot of some if that some consists of just three people.

This passage is also not about the return of Christ. No one had any thought really of Jesus leaving let alone returning at this point. This is something internet atheists often think is being talked about, yet they never do show where that is in the passage. It’s read into it.

As an Orthodox Preterist, I think the Kingdom of God coming into power being demonstrated was at 70 A.D. with the destruction of the temple. That would make sense also with the prediction of some would not die. It is something to say some would still be alive around 40 years later, especially in an age where most people had short lifespans.

Christians need to realize Jesus is talking about something deeper than the Transfiguration and something that should have given His listeners, and us today, pause. Internet atheists need to realize this is apocalyptic language and not read it so woodenly. If someone thinks it’s about the return of Christ, it’s on them to show it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 3

Does God deserve to die? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I keep going through this book, Bradley often looks less and less like an academic and more and more like that little fundamentalist boy who is on a rant. He starts off this chapter with a reference from H.L. Mencken on gods who were omnipotent, omniscient, and immortal, and all are dead now. You can see the list here.

It’s important to note that he says that they are theoretically the attributes I listed. In reality, they were not. That’s a big difference. Many of these gods were limited to one people group and were part of a polytheistic system and thus NOT the omni-qualities. Of course, we could replace the idea of gods with scientific theories and I could say “Look how many theories were believed by so many people in the past and today, they’re dead!” Would that be accepted? No, nor should it. What we have to ask is why these deities “died” and why the deities of religions like the big three monotheisms and various polytheisms live.

Bradley goes on to tell us that supernaturalism is dead. Outside of religious belief, it lives only in those who believe in ghosts, poltergeists, and the like. He refers to these people as credulous. Nothing like poisoning the well is there? Supernaturalism isn’t defined to which I refer the reader to my article on that term.

We can at least be relieved to see that he says that atheism is a term used to describe someone who does not believe in a god, any god. Unfortunately, he goes on from there to use the argument of religious believers being atheists with many gods. He just goes one god further.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. You all believe there are many people in this courtroom who did not commit the murder. I just ask that you look at my client and go one person further!”

He also speaks of a god who tortures non-believers in the fires of Hell. Once again, this is a fundamentalist child on a rant. Most of us trying to take the text as it was intended do not speak of a fiery Hell but rather see that as language of judgment and of shame.

He does say naturalism can be shown to be false. What’s the way to do it? Picture a global apocalypse happening such as how Bradley sees the book of Revelation and that could be evidence. This tells us Bradley is not open to argument demonstrating that theism is true. He will only accept an experience, all the while giving a book of arguments hoping theists will change their mind. Isn’t it interesting? The theist is the one in Bradley’s world who is responsive to evidence and the atheist the one who is responsive to an experience. Who knew?

He asks that if a new problem shows up in the world such as a new virus, where do you put your money? Well, since that is a problem relating to matter specifically and the material world, yes, I look for a scientific solution. What about when it comes to the character of scientists and everyone else for that matter? I look for a theistic solution to that. I see no reason to think science itself has improved our moral character.

It’s not a shock that he brings up the myth of 38,000 denominations in Christianity. Unfortunately, he never really has studied the source for this. Even a Catholic apologist recognizes the problem with it as can be seen here. Bradley is still a fundamentalist who now blindly believes from the other side parallel claims he used to blindly believe as a Christian.

He also says the Bible is supposed to be God’s autobiography. I have no idea where that came from. Was this what he was actually taught?

He naturally talks about literalism and asks that if a passage was meant to be interpreted figuratively, why not put them in an innocuous allegory form in the first place. Yes. It would be absolutely awful to think you have to study the book and actually learn about it. These are the same people that accuse us of wanting easy answers and being anti-intellectual.

He tries to show that the stele referring to David is not what it is thought to be since there are no vowels in the Hebrew script so it might not refer to David, which is very much grasping at straws, and some archaeologists think it’s a forgery. If this is true, he does not tell us who they are. Of course, things get even better when we move to Jesus.

We have the usual questions. Why don’t we know exact dates of events of his life? (Despite us having very good ideas about those claims like we do for many people in the ancient world and of course, it’s ludicrous to think historians of the time would treat a supposedly failed Messiah the way they did the emperor on the throne.) Why didn’t anyone else mention the slaughter of the infants like Josephus? (Why should we think Josephus tells us everything Herod did and a slaughter of a dozen or so infants would be par for the course for Herod.) Why were tales of His life told decades after His death? (Like they were for most everyone else in the ancient world.) Why didn’t He write His own autobiography? (Which hardly anyone did. Most great teachers didn’t even write down their teachings but left it to their students.) Why didn’t any historians of the time write about this God-man? (See my article on why Jesus is not worth talking about here.) Why is He based on so many pagan myths of dying and rising gods? (Because He isn’t as even Bart Ehrman shows in his book Did Jesus Exist?)

He then says he has asked this to several and never got a satisfactory answer. Considering how Bradley acts though, I am not surprised. I consider Jesus Himself could come down from Heaven, smack Bradley in the face, tell him the answers, and Bradley would write it off as a delusion.

He assures us that he is not being eclectic in raising these questions. He then points to his supposed long line of mythicists. I am sure Strauss would be surprised to find himself in that company. He then refers to the prolific D.M. Armstrong Aka Acharya.

Seriously?

Then it ends with a long list of the supposed moral crimes of God in the Bible. If anyone goes through this, just search this blog and you can find many of these addressed. I am more convinced that Bradley does not spend any time really interacting with biblical scholarship. This is a problem. While points Bradley makes in other areas could be valid, I hesitate to trust him because of how shoddy his argumentation is with accepting the great myths of atheism. It should always be remembered that if you want to convince someone, you have to use evidence they will find persuasive and understand that they think their worldview is true. Failing to learn and understand it will only hurt your approach.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

How To Play A Game?

How do you win in a game? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As long as I can remember, I have been playing games. I am now 41 years old and I am still an avid gamer. If you are playing a game against someone else, and I don’t care what it is, there is a rule to follow. You could play a board game like Monopoly, Chess, or Connect Four. You could play a card game like Uno or Poker. You could play a sporting event like baseball or football. You could play a video game as simple as Pong or more like Halo or Smash Brothers. How can one rule apply to all of these? It can easily.

Be aware of how your opponent can respond to you.

It’s really that simple. This would even work in a real-life dangerous situation. Before the military goes in somewhere, I guarantee you they prepare for any counter-responses that could happen. The police are prepared for as many contingencies they can think of before approaching the suspect’s residence.

So now let’s talk about Raymond Bradley, author of God’s Gravediggers. One saying he has in chapter 3 is about Christian philosophers who hold to inerrancy. I do plan on reviewing the whole chapter, but this one quote is worthwhile.

“Are these guys serious? What would be their line when confronted by 2 Chronicles 4:2, which gives a false value for the mathematical constant pi (the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter)? What would they say about countless inconsistencies the Bible contains? For example, between 2 Samuel 24:1, which says the Lord commanded King David to “number the people of Israel”, and 1 Chronicles 21:1, which says it was Satan, not the Lord, who issued the command. What account would they give of scientific absurdities such as that of a six-day creation, the fixity of species, and the world-wide flood, an event that some biblical genealogists calculate as occurring on the 27 February 2267 BCE, an event that, as Australian geologist Ian Plimer points out, was “spitefully” ignored by the Egyptians of the time? I simply don’t know what answers these notable theistic philosophers would give. They proclaim inerrancy as a general doctrine without considering its specific applications. They preach it from their pulpits yet ignore it in their philosophical writings. Yet where inconsistencies abound, so does falsity; for at least one of each inconsistent pair must be false.”

Let’s even go through these.

How about pi? Hint: If you can find something answered on a google search, don’t use it. I have no reason to think Purple Math is a Christian site, but even if it is, this is still an answer to this kind of question. Just take a look.

In the case of Chronicles and Samuel, I actually don’t think Satan refers to the being, but rather the word means an adversary. In both cases, God used an adversary to rise against David such that he wanted to count his army to prepare for battle. You may not think that is true, but it is an answer and even a potential answer is enough to refute the idea that something is a contradiction.

The Genesis information all assumes that everyone holds to a YEC worldwide flood account. I don’t. I would hope many YECs would even accept that there are Christians who disagree and are simply trying to be faithful to what they think the text and other data indicates.

The only complex one is the Exodus. Well first off, nations would have a tendency to not want to report their slaves getting the best of them. There is also material available like here.

Now here’s the thing. If Bradley were debating me and he says “I have no idea how he would answer these” and I pull up these responses, Bradley has to come up with something on the fly. Odds are, it will not be convincing. Why? Because he doesn’t know what I really think.

That is the main issue here. I could be wrong in everything I said, which I don’t think, but even if I am, I at least do have a response. I would also need to anticipate what he could say in response to this.

However, if Bradley has no idea how anyone would reply, he really shouldn’t be arguing. Not only that, it tells me he hasn’t really looked at the material. These objections are not new. They have been debated back and forth for centuries. Even the rabbis and early church, for example, debated how to read Genesis.

If you are a skeptic of Christianity then, you need to read Christian books to argue against Christians. “Well, I think all that stuff is stupid!” Okay. You might think the material is stupid and no rational person could believe it. Your opponent thinks otherwise and not only that, the people who agree with him think so and if they can tell you don’t know what they believe well, they won’t take you seriously. When I encounter someone who espouses Jesus mythicism or the pagan copycat thesis, I know to not take them seriously. (That includes Bradley.)

You see, Bradley does have a doctorate, but I notice when he argues against what I believe, he treats mythicism like a serious contender. Since I have studied this and know that that’s nonsense, I am less inclined to take his argument seriously in other areas because I have to wonder about the research he did. This is shown further to me when the first time he gives the cosmological argument, he first phrases it claiming that everything that exists has a cause. No serious defender of the argument has ever treated it that way.

I have hammered the skeptics today, but Christians do the same thing. Many of you are incredibly skeptical of evolution for example, which is fine, but I am sure that the staunchest YEC scholar would agree with me on this. If you argue against evolution without studying it to someone who has studied it, you will make embarrassing mistakes and they won’t take you seriously. Why should they?

This is also why you should be careful sharing information online that you haven’t checked on. Imagine you share a story about a political event that your opponent can see is a hoax with just a couple of minutes of research. Then you tell them that you believe God raised someone from the dead 2,000 years ago? They can’t answer that in a couple of minutes, but if they saw you false on the simple matter, why spend all the time on the deeper one?

Don’t be like that.

If Bradley then is in a debate sometime and pulls out weak objections and gets tough replies back, only two words need be said.

Game over.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge Part 11: Revenge on the Amalekites

What do I think of Kapr’s treatment of the Amalekites? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I can’t say I was surprised to find this one come up in Kapr’s book. This one I don’t think is really a contradiction so much as saying it sounds like a horrible thing for God to do. One part that is thought to be contradictory is that doesn’t Ezekiel 18 indicate that no one will die for the sins of their parents?

Indeed, it does, which is not necessarily good news. It means that if you face judgment, you have no one to blame but yourself. You can’t point to what Daddy did. You can’t say “I’m suffering because my Dad was a jerk.” Now this doesn’t mean that no child ever suffers from a parent’s sins. We all know about abusive and/or addicted parents and how the children suffer.

So what about the Amalekites. In 1 Samuel 15, Saul goes to war with them for how they treated the Israelites when they left Egypt. Isn’t this punishing children for what their ancestors did centuries ago? It’s understandable to think that way, provided, you know, you ignore the rest of Scripture.

Practically every time the Amalekites show up in Scripture, they’re attacking Israel. The grand example of this is in the book of Esther where Haman is a descendant of these people and decides to use royal authority granted by the king to kill all the Jews. Kapr lives in a modern society where the present time is the most important. In Eastern thinking, the past is still very much with us.

So what about 1 Samuel 15. Not mentioned is that these cities where the Amalekites were were most likely fortresses of sorts where the military bases would be. This also wasn’t necessarily a sneak attack. This means that any women and children would have plenty of time to flee. This isn’t as hard as you might think in the ancient world as war and famine could come at any time and you’d have to pick up and move out.

So what about the morality issue? I saw Kapr deal with many kinds of objections to this, but never to mine. My stance is that the category of morality does not apply to God. After all, morality is doing what you ought to do and there is no “ought” for God. God does not have any moral law above Him that He is obligated to follow.

However, I do contend that what God does is good. God does all that He does for His good and for the good of His creation. It’s a much longer post to talk about what is good, though I would recommend Edward Feser’s Aquinas to look at this question. There are plenty of good things you can do that you have no moral obligation to do.

I then ask people about this about who it is that God has an obligation to grant life to? Who can we look at and say “God has no right to take their life from them!” That includes me and the people that I especially love. It also includes the Amalekites and as we will see later in the Old Testament, the Israelites.

Arguments like Kapr’s can easily pull rhetorical and emotional heartstrings. Unfortunately, they are only persuasive in that regard. Move away from that and they lose a lot.

Once again then, I find nothing convincing here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge Part 10: Politely Rejecting The Bible

What about the name of God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The next big contradiction is with the name of God in Exodus 6. Was the name of God known? In this chapter, I really see no interaction with what is meant by a name. For example, it would not make sense to say that Moses is to say to the Israelites “YHWH has sent me to save you” if they’re going to be left asking “Who is that?”

But how was God’s name known in a unique way by the Israelites in Egypt? Surely, God had been known to provide salvation, as Jacob himself thought when God delivered him from Laban and from his brother Esau. Also, God had done miracles already in the case of the miraculous birth of Isaac and of the provision of sheep for Jacob. We can’t rule out judgment as the flood had come, the languages had been confused at Babel, and Sodom and Gomorrah had been destroyed.

So what is new? It is that all of these are now combined together and God is acting on another nation in a salvific way to fulfill the covenant promise that had been made to Abraham centuries ago. God wasn’t just working for the good of certain individuals. God was using His power now to rescue a whole people that had never experienced God in this way. Most other gods were thought to be limited to the nations they were in, but now God would prove Himself to be sovereign over even the gods of Egypt.

What about saying the name would now be fully known. This does not mean that they would have a full and complete knowledge of God. We got a far deeper knowledge of God in the incarnation, but even after that, no one will ever have a full knowledge of God. Even in eternity, we will never be able to know God exhaustively for if we could do that, He wouldn’t really be God.

What I take this to mean is a sort of way of saying “Now I’m going to show that I’m the real deal and make my power truly known to them.” It wouldn’t make sense for the writer of the work, or as Kapr would think, an editor, to say that they had perfect theology as it doesn’t take long in the narrative of Exodus before we find the Israelites grumbling and complaining, hardly fitting for a people who have a perfect theology.

So once again, while I appreciate that Kapr does seem to spend a lot of time on certain contradictions instead of just doing the usual activity that many skeptics do which is to present a whole list of 101 Bible contradictions without any digging into them whatsoever, I still do not think Kapr’s case is sufficient. Even if it was, the most that would be needed would be to change a doctrine of inerrancy. Christianity would still be safe entirely as Jesus would have still risen from the dead.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge Part 9: Politely Rejecting The Bible

How did the Field of Blood get its name? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This objection is from the field of blood. How did it get its name? In the book of Matthew, we are told that the field was bought using money that was used to betray Jesus. In the book of Acts, we are told that it was called that because of how Judas died there when he fell on a field and his body burst open.

Seeing as he references an article by J.P. Holding on this, I figured it was fair to email JPH and let him say something about this.

First, he summarizes Kapr’s position:

Duh, but if this is right, “then we should be able to omit the clause about Judas’ bloody death without destroying the inner logic of the passage. But when we do this, the result is very odd: Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness. . . . This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood. Suddenly the mention of blood comes out of nowhere.”

Okay. So what does Holding say in response?

This is the objection of Dan Kapr, and it is just the sort of thing we’d expect from a fundamenatalist who is also a comedian. In case Kapr forgot, Matthew relates the origins of the “field of blood” name without any reference to Judas’ guts blowing out. Matthew gets the etymology from the payment to Judas being “blood money” — a payment for turning Jesus over. And Luke relates that episode in his own gospel. So no, the reference to blood doesn’t “come out of nowhere” at all; it alludes to the prior account Luke provided of Judas being paid for his treachery, Kapr’s inability to make sense of the writings of a culture removed from him by time and priority notwithstanding.

Kapr finds it “strange” that I wouldn’t connect Judas’ death in Luke with a lot of blood, but that is his problem, not mine. Luke himself didn’t mention blood gushing from Judas, and he didn’t say it became known as the “Field of Spilled Intestines.” In other words, it is clear enough that it wasn’t the blood that caught his attention. Kapr needs to break out of his fundamentalist notions that only what he thinks the text “clearly says” is what matters.

I can agree with this, but I would like to add something else. The name is the same. Could it not be for both reasons? I say this because the Jews happen to like puns a lot. (It’s worthwhile to note that people who have a great sense of humor really appreciate puns. Just saying.)

Could they not say, “Oh. Isn’t this ironic? This traitor who bought a field with blood money ended up spilling his own blood on that field?” This would be seen as a fitting judgment from God on someone like this. If anyone asked why the field had its name, the Jew could just tell them about the traitor who betrayed His own rabbi and then paid for it in his own blood.

These chapter reviews might seem short, but really Kapr spends a lot of time arguing one point and if you just address that one point, then not everything else matters. Again, it’s still often fundamentalist, but not as bad as many other authors thankfully.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge Part 8: Politely Rejecting The Bible

What of Jude’s use of Enoch? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In the next few chapters, we will look at the biggest objections that Kapr has to the doctrine of inerrancy. This is in the book of Jude when the author, presumably Jude and we will assume him for the sake of this article, gives a prophecy that comes from Enoch. It’s not the prophecy that is being called into question but that Jude references Enoch as the source of this prophecy.

There are a few points to consider.

First, Kapr considers it difficult to think that an oral tradition would last this long and be referenced just around the time when 1 Enoch itself shows up and then starts being quoted, but is this really that unthinkable? Oral tradition lasts a long time in the ancient world and it could be that this was an oral tradition and it was written down around this time. I’m not saying it was and I don’t see how you could make a case, but it would be interesting to have done. Either way, just saying you don’t find it plausible does not mean it is implausible.

Second, we don’t really know what Jude believed about the book. We do know that he certainly found the prophecy useful. I don’t even think we could say he certainly agreed with the prophecy, but he found it worthwhile to quote. Now why would he do this?

It could be that the opponents he is dealing with in this book do think Enoch came from Enoch and do view it as authoritative and do use it. Thus, Jude could be saying “So you know, Enoch, the seventh from Adam Enoch, yeah. That one. The one that you read and cite regularly? He himself condemned what is going on and the people who are doing what is going on.”

If so, then this is kind of like Paul on Mars Hill quoting various poets and saying “See? Even your guys accept my viewpoint.” Enoch could have agreed with what Enoch said. He could have thought the author of Enoch was smoking mushrooms. Either way, he found the quote useful.

In reality, we don’t know enough about what Jude believed about Enoch. The same could be said about the Assumption of Moses? Did Jude believe the story? Maybe. Maybe not. He could again be using material his audience accepts to make the point. All we have is one quote of each of these and we don’t know enough based on that.

Some might think not enough has been said here to solidly answer the charge, but keep in mind as the one in the defensive position in this as Kapr is making the charges, I just have to show a possible solution to a problem. Again, the reality is we don’t know in this case and that’s okay to say. Maybe we will learn more in future research. Maybe we won’t. Either way, I do not see a hard defeater here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge Part 7: Politely Rejecting the Bible

What about canonicity and other such matters? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we get to this chapter, Kapr finally has some matters of substance as far as criticism. He talks some about canonicity. Fortunately, he says nothing about Constantine and the Council of Nicea forming the canon so I’m going to say hopefully, based on what I’ve read so far, he rejects that one.

While there are different canons, as a classical Protestant, I plan to stick to the traditional 66 books. I also know that the book is rejecting inerrancy and I am replying to that, but I do not hang my faith on inerrancy either. Kapr also spends much time throughout the book on inspiration. I sit back and wonder “And the point is?” After all, suppose a statement in the book is true. How does it aid us to say “It is true and inspired.”?

I also freely accept that there was some editing of books. Do I think Moses wrote the last chapter of Deuteronomy that described his death? No. I suspect that was added by an editor of his work after, such as Joshua, to give a fitting close to the book. There were other editing jobs done such as changing location names to names more familiar to the audience of the time, such as how the city of Dan shows up in early Genesis even though it didn’t come until centuries later.

Kapr does say that some of the books are anonymous and that the arguments for traditional authorship do not need to go unchallenged. I agree that we shouldn’t just blindly accept what the Fathers say about authorship, but I don’t think the reasons given for rejection are convincing enough. However, let’s say something briefly about a book being anonymous.

This is really more of a canard. We have a number of Pauline epistles that say they are by Paul and that isn’t enough for a number of skeptics, and some Christians as well. Are we to think the Gospels would be treated seriously if every text explicitly said, for example, “By Matthew”? If you think so, I have some oceanfront property in Montana to sell you.

One argument that is brought forward against traditional authorship is the case of the information from Papias and how he supposedly got wrong the death of Judas. This is just more of Kapr reading an account in a literal fashion instead of considering that Papias is instead trash talking Judas. Also, Papias is just one reason given for traditional authorship on some of the Gospels.

He also says it’s unusual that different quotes from different Gospels were blended together. It might sound unusual to a modern man. It doesn’t sound unusual to an ancient where blended quotations were not uncommon even in non-Christian literature. Thus, there is nothing strange about it whatsoever.

As for Mark, Kapr writes that Mark could be chosen since the tradition says Mark wrote what was said, but not in order, and thus the early church didn’t want to attribute that to an apostle. So it looks like you have a case where the church says we don’t want to embarrass a reputation of an apostle by this, but we do think it’s good enough to include in the canon?

He also assumes there’s a reason such a thing would be an embarrassment. Why? There is no interaction also with the idea that Mark is a very unlikely figure. Mark was a person not mentioned explicitly at least in the Gospels and in Acts, is seen as causing a split between the first two great missionaries of the church because he was a Mama’s Boy who wanted to run back home in the middle of a journey. Odd source to attribute an authoritative work to.

Kapr also says that a test was the books had to be line with orthodox teachings about Jesus and says this is comparing the Bible with the Bible, but this ignores that most of what was known about Jesus at first would be through oral tradition and the books at the time would need to align with the tradition at the time. It’s not as if after the Easter event, be it a resurrection or not, that Jesus would be untalked about at all until some epistles and Gospels were written.

Kapr also says some have argued that the books were accepted without much controversy. The Holy Spirit guided the people of the church so they accepted the books that they did. Kapr argues no evangelical apologist would accept the testimony of community in another religion for their seeing their Scriptures as authoritative.

Okay. I consider myself an evangelical and I freely accept Mormons and Muslims determining what is authoritative in their communities. Note I said authoritative, not true. I really don’t see that being disputed among evangelicals either. Who else should determine what is authoritative for any community except that community?

There is also talk about inspiration outside the canon. Again, I don’t care about inspiration but truth, but I do share Kapr’s concerns about people claiming God is speaking through them or through someone else. My own pastor did a sermon about this just last Sunday. I even get concerned when someone says “When I was reading the Bible today, God showed me that….” Automatically then, if God showed it to you, it had better be authoritatively true. You’re giving your idea the backing of God. Better hope you’re right.

Thus, Kapr can go on and on about inspiration and how you could know a book was inspired and I really don’t care. What I care about is truth. I also don’t hang my doctrine of inerrancy on inspiration. I hang it instead on studying the text for years and even then, it’s not a dealbreaker for me.

Still, while I don’t find the arguments here convincing, they are at least not on the same level as many other fundamentalist atheist arguments, though I do think there is a great deal of that still in Kapr. Next time, we will get to part 2 where we examine some specific claims.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge Part 6: Can Inerrancy Be Falsified?

Can you show this doctrine is false? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yes.

Okay. That was fun. I look forward to writing Monday morning and….

Wait….

You mean you wanted more?

You wanted to hear what Kapr had to say and what I think about it?

Okay. We’ll take a look.

Kapr does say that CSBI says that problems that have not yet been resolved do not undo the truth claims of inerrancy. Kapr thinks this means that the claim is not based on evidence as nothing can change the mind of the one giving it. For some, that could be true. However, for others, it does mean “Yes. There are still unanswered questions at times, but we have seen many supposed problems work out so we will give the benefit of the doubt to inerrancy.” This is not unreasonable. The remaking of a scientific paradigm starts with contrary data which at first is not accepted in the old paradigm, but no one wants to throw out a whole paradigm just because of few points. Wait it out and see what happens. The new paradigm becomes dominant when there is a strong excess of such points.

Please also don’t go to one of these web sites with 1,001 Bible contradictions. The overwhelming majority have been looked at already. I no longer waste time with those and have better usages of time.

Another point Kapr looks at as a reason evangelicals give often for believing in inerrancy is the witness of the Holy Spirit. I, also, am glad to see this position dealt with as I do not accept it either. I often wish Craig in his debates would change his last point because the subjective point is always the weakest one. Not everyone has the same emotional experiences either. I don’t deny many people do have strong experiences, but they don’t show the truth of Christianity any more than the burning in the bosom of Mormons, which I don’t deny happens, shows the truth of the Book of Mormon.

Kapr also does say that the method of determining who is following the Spirit and who isn’t when Christians disagree leads to a sort of blind faith. I would have phrased it somewhat differently, but I agree. Our Christianity has too much subjectivism in it and we’ve called it spirituality.

There are other arguments brought forward such as that we can’t trust the judgments of sinful men. The problem here is obvious. All of us are sinful men and women. No judgments could be trusted.

For me, inerrancy is not a presupposition, but a conclusion. I have studied the Bible for decades and have found that it holds up well. I think I am justified in giving it the benefit of the doubt. Is inerrancy a hill that I’m going to die on? Not a bit. My faith in Christianity is built on the death and resurrection of Jesus regardless of if the manuscripts that tell me about that are inerrant or not.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge Part 3: Politely Rejecting the Bible

What about ICBI? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s not a shock that we got here so soon. Kapr is now talking about ICBI (International Council on Biblical Inerrancy) and the CSBI. (Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.) At the same time, it is apparent that Kapr knows what’s going on, but at the same time, quite pleasing to see the language he used is the language I used in an ebook I co-authored with J.P. Holding called Defining Inerrancy.

For all interested, by the way, we are coming out with the second edition of that book.

While only referring to our work one time explicitly in this chapter, Kapr does use the language of contextualizers and traditionalists. He does focus in on the debate concerning my former father-in-law, though still a father in many ways to me, Mike Licona, and the passage about the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27. For the traditionalists, it had to be literal no matter what or you were defining inerrancy. For the contextualists like myself, it didn’t matter what it was. All inerrancy said is that whatever it was, it was true. Holding, for instance, does not think Licona has the strongest case there, but he still thinks his view does not violate inerrancy.

So this chapter was mainly about how inerrancy is, well, defined, and the idea is that the doctrine can seem to die the death of a thousand qualifications as it can become hard to falsify. I get that position, but at the same time, contextualists like myself look to authorial intent. Now if the case can be made strongly that the author intended to teach X and the truth is non-X, then that would be a problem for inerrancy. Contextualization doesn’t mean you can change the text to mean anything and it will be true. You still have to study the text to see what it is saying.

Unfortunately, Kapr does show that the traditionalist mode of handling inerrancy is very easy to attack. Contextualization requires a lot more work and study of the text. This will be expounded on more in the next chapter, but traditionalism is often married closely to literalism. Contextualists don’t deny that some passages are literal, but we don’t jump to that as always being the best interpretation of the passage.

For instance, when read about Jesus going into Samaria and sitting down by the well there, we generally take it to mean that that is what Jesus did. However, when Jesus starts talking about living water, we don’t take it to mean He is talking about actual water that can be drawn from the well. We take Him to be making a statement about the true life that is found in God and comparing it to an ordinary substance like water.

I do appreciate that Kapr chose to interact with our book to some degree anyway. (It’s a bit amusing to be reading a book and then see your work cited.) I do hope that he does interact with us more in the book. (Sneak peek. There is at least some of that in chapter four.) We will see what else lies in wait for us but thus far, the adventure has been pretty tame.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)