Responding to WaPo on Moses’s existence

Did the great leader exist? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A reader sent me this old article from the Washington Post wanting my thoughts on it. Did Moses exist? Let’s say at the outset that while I think he did, the case is definitely not as clear as it is for someone like Jesus. I can understand Moses mythicism whereas Jesus mythicism is just a crackpot theory.

The article is by someone named Ishaan Tharoor and can be found here. Something I notice right at the start is that a similar argument is used against Moses as is used against Jesus. That is the argument from silence.

The reality is the record is not completely silent. One can say he’s not mentioned outside of the Jewish Scriptures of the time, but so what? Do we automatically throw out those Scriptures because they are Scriptures? If anyone would have a reason to write about Moses, it would be the Jews, and a writing does not suddenly deserve hyper-skepticism because it is considered holy by some specific faith.

Now who else would write about Moses? The Egyptians? Doubtful. What would the record say “So these ragtag Hebrews managed to escape after their God kicked our gods to the curb and we couldn’t overtake them when our soldiers drowned in the Red Sea.” Nah. Historians of the time would write about their victories, but they would not write about their defeats.

It is true that we don’t have the exact timeline on when things took place. The most common dates I hear for the Exodus are either 1446 BC or somewhere around 1290. A lot of it depends on the reference to 480 years in the book of Kings. The Pharaoh on the throne is not named, but this is also not a surprise. Pharaoh is not the main character and is a figure portrayed in a shameful light. Another great way to do that would be to not even name him.

What about the Red Sea? Again, there are people who say that what happened was a natural occurrence really, and they could be right. It could be the winds could make the sea part at times. In this case, the miracle would be that it happened when it happened. I do not know of any accuracy of reports of Egyptians and chariots being found at the bottom of the Red Sea, but sadly, even if that was true, it should not surprise us that a sea near Egypt would have dead Egyptians in it. It would be evidence for something, but it would not necessitate it.

I have seen the comparison to Sargon. My ministry partner has an article on that one so no need to reinvent the wheel. I was really amused to find a claim that this is a copy of Krishna. This is the same kind of thing that happens with Jesus Mythicism, as if the Israelites would have known about the story of Krishna and choose to use it, even if you go with a late date such as with the Welhausen JEPD hypothesis.

The author also says that:

Some researchers believe the “Hymn to the Aten,” inscribed on the walls of the ancient city of Amarna, prefigures Psalm 104 of the Hebrew Bible. Both are paeans to the power of one god. Here’s the hymn:

The earth comes into being by your hand, as you made it. When you dawn, they live. When you set, they die. You yourself are lifetime, one lives by you.

And an excerpt of Psalm 104:

You hide your face, they are troubled,
You take away your breath, they die,
And return to dust.
You send forth your breath, they are created,
And you renew the face of the earth.

As I look at this, it is extremely flimsy. The first one is describing the movement of the sun. The Psalm is not and both of these are statements that could easily apply to a supreme being.

Noteworthy also is no interaction with anyone who believes in the historicity of the accounts. Do you see any interaction with someone like James Hoffmeier? Nope. Not a bit. Of course, he could be entirely wrong, but if you give your audience only one side of the story, what a shock that most readers walk away thinking that one side is true.

Also, for Christians, one of the main evidences is that Jesus seemed to treat Moses like a historical figure. Now it could be the incarnation does not entail Jesus as a human has perfect knowledge, but many of us who are Christians tend to take Him a bit more seriously. If you’re a skeptic of the resurrection, that won’t mean anything to you. If you believe in it, it means a lot to you. I realize my point here then won’t convince skeptics, but it should give Christians something to think about.

In the end, I don’t think the article really delivers. The evidence is one-sided and arguments from silence. It doesn’t convince me with mythicism and it doesn’t do so here.

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

Thank You, SES

Why can’t we be friends? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of you know years ago I was a student at Southern Evangelical Seminary. It had been a dream of mine to graduate from there one day. Then while there, I heard about a girl, specifically, Allie Licona, the daughter of Mike and Debbie Licona. That was her name then at least. Today, it’s Allie Peters.

Shortly after we got married, Mike published his big book on the resurrection of Jesus. Mike was also at the time a visiting professor at SES. However, not too long after that book came out, Norman Geisler accused Mike of denying inerrancy for his position on the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27.

At that point, I made the decision that I had to step in and I did. Geisler had been a mentor of mine, but this was a ridiculous charge I thought and it was going after family. I decided to step into the ring and take on Geisler, which I hadn’t done before. My ministry partner, J.P. Holding, also joined in.

That meant for me leaving behind SES as well, which was very hard. Academically, I think everyone would agree I was an excellent student. However, since I took on Geisler, I was sure I would not be allowed to graduate anyway.

The inerrancy wars went on for some time but fortunately, I haven’t heard anything from them in awhile. Not too long ago, Geisler passed away also. I was not sure how this would affect the wars, but I knew something would be different. I do know SES still does the apologetics conference, but I haven’t been since the whole thing started.

So what a shock when Gary Habermas sends Mike and Debbie and I an email with announcements from SES. Gary told us to look at the sixth item listed. What do I see?

“Many of you know that Dr. Mike Licona and Dr. Geisler had their rather public disagreements over the nature of the inerrancy of Scripture. Dr. Licona has even debated our own Dr. Richard Howe about this important issue at our National Conference. Regardless of our differences, Dr. Licona is a dear brother in Christ whom we love. His lovely daughter is married to an SES alum, and they could really use our help to cover some very serious medical bills for some very serious and essential treatment. You can learn more about the need and how to give at the link below. Thank you.”

That link is also still up if you want to donate.

I messaged the person behind putting it up there since Mike told me who it was and I offered my thanks. I made a public post on Facebook and I want to make a more public one here. In our conversation, we both agreed that inerrancy is an important issue, something J.P. Holding and I both hold to, but that we should be willing to better discuss our disagreements.

I really hope that this will be the beginning of many conversations on how we can unite as Christians. I was pleased to see the above not only good words about Mike, but good words about me as an SES alum. Nothing was said about the disputes that we had. Not a thing. After all, if any event was worth putting aside our differences, something like this is.

As I was thinking about writing this, I thought about Peter and Paul in Galatians. Odds are, Peter wasn’t really too happy with Paul when Paul called him out to his face because he was sure Peter was in the wrong. Some scholars posit a major rift taking place between the two.

But if you read other epistles in the New Testament, like 2 Peter, it looks like things were worked out. Peter refers to Paul as a brother at that point. We may not know how they worked out the issue, and apparently that was a major issue, but they worked it out.

I am very grateful to SES for what I consider not just an act of charity, but a kind olive branch as well. This is the way that Christians are to interact with one another really. The inerrancy wars were not good for us, but hopefully the inerrancy peace that could come will be much better. Maybe in the end we still won’t agree, but we can still unite together and as Geisler once said in paraphrase, go after an anti-theist instead of a fellow Christian theist.

Thanks to SES for including us and getting the word out about Allie’s treatment.

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

Interpretation and the Principle of Charity

How should we read another text? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many people like to find contradictions in the Bible and point them out. They also seem to get upset when something is said to be “out of context.” Now if a Christian says out of context and doesn’t explain how, I think that’s appropriate to be upset about that. However, there are plenty of ways to take any text, ancient or modern, out of context and misinterpret it.

Consider how in Luke, Jesus says that if you do not hate your father and mother, you cannot be His disciple. No, internet atheist. Jesus is not telling us to hate our parents. There are a number of atheists that think this is exactly what Jesus is saying. He’s not. Jesus is making a hyperbolic statement. Your devotion to the Kingdom must make all other loyalties fall away if necessary. The Kingdom of Christ comes first.

Now if we are Christians and demanding that, we also need to do the same. Consider that one of the classical arguments against Islam is that Islam denies the crucifixion of Jesus. You go to the Koran and you see this yourself. Let’s look at the text.

“That they said [in boast], “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of  Allah,” but they killed him not, nor crucified him.  Only a likeness of that was shown to them.  And those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no [certain] knowledge.  But  only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not (Surat Al-Nisa 4:157).”

That looks convincing, but I remember reading a book about Islam from a Christian perspective that said no one early on in Islam denied the crucifixion. That came later. Now I haven’t got to research this entirely, but I do know this person is not trying to be liberal in his theology. He’s not a Muslim sympathizer or something like that.

So do I use the point now that the Koran denies the crucifixion of Jesus? No. Do some Muslims use that? Yes. Will I argue against that position? Yes. However, by the principle of charity, if I can interpret the text in such a way that it doesn’t say that, then I will go that way. If you are curious, the interpretation I read also was that the Jews were the ones who thought they killed Jesus, when really Allah is saying they didn’t have that power. The problem is more with the Jews claiming ownership of it.

Let’s suppose I’m reading the Book of Mormon and I see the book talking about something that existed in the ancient world supposedly. If I look it up and I find that yes, that really did exist, that doesn’t mean I believe the Book of Mormon, but it does mean by the principle of charity I don’t use that as an argument. This isn’t about being light. This is about being fair with a text like we want people to be with Scripture.

In the same way, it’s important for skeptics to consider how they are interpreting the text. If there is a way that can put the text in a better light and there is sufficient evidence for it or it’s plausible, should you not be open to that interpretation. If you are not, does that mean you want the text to be false more than you want your reading to be accurate?

Consider it especially if it’s likely the person you’re dealing with knows the text better than you do. I don’t debate Muslims regularly, so I am going to take it that a debater defending Islam knows the Koran better than I do. I will take it the Mormon missionaries know their Scriptures better than I do. Odds are also if you’re the regular internet atheist, that person who reads the Bible every day might know it better than you do. (And I mean a specific type of internet atheist of course. There are plenty of atheists that know the Bible well.)

C.S. Lewis once said years ago if you read something bad in the newspaper about someone you don’t like and think “That doesn’t surprise me” and then later on see a correction, is your tendency to be relieved that at least they weren’t that bad, or is to get upset something was taken from you. We could ask the same about a text. If you are given an explanation of a text that is still plausible even if you’re not familiar with it, are you open to that, or would you prefer the text to just be wrong?

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

Turn The Other Cheek?

Should we be pacifists? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we continue the Sermon on the Mount, the next section I will divide into two parts saving verse 42 for another blog post. This one raises the question of if we should be pacifists. Let’s take a look at chapter 5 of Matthew.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 

This was said to a people under Roman rule. Consider the last one. A Roman soldier could force a random Jew to carry his stuff for him for one mile. Jesus says at the end of that mile to go another one. Why is that?

Jesus is wanting to put to the end a vicious cycle. Rather than harbor hatred for your enemy, go out of your way to be kind to him. They want your shirt? Be super nice and give them your coat as well. However, if there is any part here that is really controversial, it’s the idea of turning the other cheek.

Some parents are scandalized, for instance, when they hear a child told that if anyone hits you on the playground, you hit him back hard. Doesn’t Jesus tell us to turn the other cheek? How could anyone encourage their child on the path of violence?

War is a reality in the Bible. It’s not just in the Old Testament. What do you think is going on in the book of Revelation? Jesus isn’t coming back to have a jolly good time with everyone on the Earth. He comes as the text says in righteousness to judge and to make war.

What is going on in the passage is a slap on the right cheek is not meant to be an aggravated assault. It’s not meant to start a fight. It’s meant to be an insult and it’s done privately. Jesus is saying in a private exchange, do not seek the path of retaliation. Be the bigger person.

This isn’t the case either in a public forum. This is why I don’t have a problem with people getting tough with opponents in a place like Facebook. Jesus did the same thing when He was publicly challenged. We often think Nicodemus a shameful figure because he went to Jesus at night. No. His going private showed him to be a better one. Asking questions in public was a way of challenging to shame the teacher. Going at night in private is a way of showing you want to learn.

Of course, if one uses self-defense, or defends another, one should not use disproportionate means. If you come to me and slap me on the face, I am not justified in pulling out a machine gun and blowing your head off. In a forceful exchange, one should use enough force to disable the opponent as much as needed. In some cases, that might mean that one has to take a life if absolutely necessary, but that should always be a last result.

To get back to the public exchanges, this was also known as challenge-riposte. In Jesus’s day, if someone challenged you in public, you had to defend your honor with a riposte. If you didn’t, you were shamed and the opponents were honored. Jesus was a master at winning. (The only one who ever bested Him was the Syro-Phoenician woman) He was so good His opponents went to crucifixion of Him, the ultimate public shaming. Bad news for them. His resurrection outdid that one as well. Thus, in a public forum, do not be afraid to challenge someone right back who challenges the gospel. It is for the honor of Christ that you contend.

In King Jesus’s world, the citizens don’t seek to retaliate for the sake of personal glory. However, that doesn’t mean they are doormats also. Servants of the king don’t let people walk on them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Pulling Back The Green Curtain Part 7

What more is there in Jim Hall’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the first new facts of Hall’s is about the incident in 1 Samuel with 50,070 people dying for looking in the Ark. He pictures people lining up and all dying when they look or an event like a football stadium and everyone dying at once. Funny. I picture someone who doesn’t bother reading scholarship and now agrees that the text should more accurately read 70. Of course, Hall has never been one for reading contrary thought. He has to avoid that cognitive dissonance after all.

There is something in there about an iron axe head floating. Again, this is called a miracle. I really don’t understand this technique of atheists. “Look! Your account contains miracles!” Yeah. It does. That’s only ipso facto stupid if it is shown there is no God, which is really what is the question under dispute. This makes as much sense as me going to atheists and saying “Look! Your account requires naturalistic evolution!”

He then goes to Jesus’s command that if you look at a woman with lust, you’ve already done it in your heart and since adultery is punishable by death, everyone should die multiple times over. First off, yes. Everyone deserves judgment for their sins. Second, Jesus is telling to stop the problem in the heart, but there is definitely a difference between real adultery and desire to commit adultery. One cannot be punished for a thought like that in the court of man at least.

He then looks at the Exodus. First off, he says the population would be about 2,000,000 Hebrews not counting women and children. On this, he’s unaware that even that is disputed in evangelical scholarship where it’s asked if it means that many people or a large number of chiefs. He says there is nothing recording the death of the firstborn in Egypt, but why would there be? Most cultures didn’t record what could be perceived as failures of their gods.

As for lack of evidence of slaves wandering the area in the wilderness, the Scythians were a large group and wandered much longer. What did we find of them? The tombs of their kings. In other words, we only found the stuff that they built to last. The Hebrews didn’t build any such things to last in the wilderness.

He then goes to a list of ways to identify a false religion.

● Its deity never appears in person ● Its claims are unverifiable ● No documented physical evidence ● Praying to its deity has no measurable real-world effect ● Rewards are promised for belief; punishments are threatened for unbelief ● Regular group-think meetings are held to reinforce the belief ● Believers never ask critical questions

Let’s go through this list.

Yes. Our deity did appear in person. He was crucified.

Our claims can be verified using philosophical methodology for the question of God and as verifiable as you can get using historical methodology.

We have plenty of archaeological and documentary evidence for Biblical events.

Hall will not interacted with the research of Craig Keener on mracles of Candy Gunther Brown on prayer studies.

People are not punished for unbelief. People are punished for their sins. Trust in Jesus is not just mere intellectual assent. It’s a lifetime of treating Jesus as Lord.

Church is not meant to be a group-think situation but a time to worship. All people to some extent tend to like to hang out with like-minded people. I have no problem with atheists coming together to meet.

And Hall, I have no problem with critical questions. If you don’t, then by all means maybe you should respond to my review of your past book or this current review. Could it be you don’t like being challenged?

He wonders why Mary was confused by Jesus being in the temple when He was 12 years old. Mary likely still had in mind the traditional views in Judaism of the Messiah. The plan was not spelled out for her.

He says the Israelites used to be polytheists. Wow. Really? I mean, don’t we know in the Old Testament that they were perfect holders of monotheism who never ever once deviated in worship from YHWH?

Hey everyone! Cool scientific fact! This morning, the sun rose in the East.

He has also the usual God doesn’t heal amputees and says this never happens. How does he know? There was controversy on the Unbelievable? page a few years ago when someone contacted the radio show about praying for someone and they had an eye regrow back. Now Hall can say that this never happens, but it will become circular.

“Prayer never causes an eye to grow back.”

“But this person says it happened.”

“It didn’t happen.”

“How do you know?”

“Because that never happens!”

He then says it was common knowledge to the early Christians that Jesus was a copy and paste job from other deities. After all, Justin Martyr said to the emperor that the Christians didn’t believe anything different from their pagan neighbors. Here’s the problem. Justin is trying to show that Christianity is not shameful and if Christianity is persecuted, then other beliefs should be persecuted. It is not saying the Christians copied. This is an idea that has been dropped by scholarship for about a century.

He points to Romulus as a copy. He says he was a son of God, preached to followers on a hill, corpse went missing, returned from the dead in an immortal body, witnesses were frightened, appeared to one follower in a spiritual form in a bright light on a road into the city.

Not a single source is given for any of this. I challenge Hall to find the source and demonstrate his claims. I also want to know how close the claims are to the original events. I think Hall will be disappointed, but he won’t look. Hall can’t take the cognitive dissonance.

He also says if you have enough faith, you can literally move a mountain. Hall doesn’t realize ancient Israelites spoke in topographical language about political events. Of course, God could move a mountain, but rearranging topography is not in mind. More likely, Herod is in mind.

He also says,

“Philosophical arguments don’t win debates; evidence wins debates. Moreover, gods who exist don’t leave their existence open to debate.”

Unfortunately, there is nothing in here that is evidential and it is really philosophical. He also says gods who exist don’t leave their existence open to debate. Does he have any evidence for this? It will have to be philosophical argumentation, but for him, that doesn’t count as evidence, so he has a belief without evidence.

Lesson for you Hall. Any time you disparage philosophy, you will wind up hoisting yourself on your own petard.

He also has something about Attis who was supposedly around in 1250 BC. He was born on December 25th (Which by the way, is nowhere in the New Testament about Jesus), had names like the only begotten son, savior of mankind, most high god, and the logos. He was the son and the father, crucified on a Friday and rose from the dead three days later, and eaten as bread by his followers.

Again, I defy Hall to come here and source any of these claims from primary sources.

He tells about the story of the woman caught in adultery and says this isn’t found in the original manuscripts. The same with the ending of Mark. Well, yes. This has been known even in the times of the Church Fathers. Hall then wants to know what more could be suspect. How about we see what Bart Ehrman says?

If the primary purpose of this discipline is to get back to the original text, we may as well admit either defeat or victory, depending on how one chooses to look at it, because we’re not going to get much closer to the original text than we already are.… At this stage, our work on the original amounts to little more than tinkering. There’s something about historical scholarship that refuses to concede that a major task has been accomplished, but there it is. Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior: An Evaluation: TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 1998, a revision of a paper presented at the Textual Criticism section of the 1997 Society of Biblical Literature in San Francisco.

In spite of these remarkable [textual] differences, scholars are convinced that we can reconstruct the original words of the New Testament with reasonable (although probably not 100 percent) accuracy. Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 481.

“The manuscripts of the New Testament do indeed have large numbers of variations in them: alternative ways of reading a verse in a passage; omissions of words or sentences; additional insertions of words and sentences here and there. But the problem is not of such a scope as to make it impossible to have any idea what these ancient Christian authors wrote. If we had no clue what was originally in the writings of Paul or in the Gospels, this objection might carry more weight. But there is not a textual critic on the planet who thinks this, since not a shred of evidence leads in this direction. And I don’t know even of any mythicist who is willing to make this claim. As a result, in the vast majority of cases, the wording of these authors is not in dispute. And where it is, it rarely has anything at all to do with the question of whether Jesus existed.” -Did Jesus Exist, p. 181

Again, I’m not covering everything, but there is more than enough evidence thus far even that Hall doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We’ll continue perhaps more next week.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Pulling Back The Green Curtain Part 6

What more is in Hall’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Hall has Jesus appearing to the twelve disciples, but thankfully, Hall is there to point out an error no one noticed. There weren’t twelve! Judas had already killed himself! We should all appreciate Hall is here to give us his brilliant wisdom and point out something no one has ever noticed or written about.

The restaurant Five Guys was originally based on a husband and his four sons (His wife was there, but the guys were given prominence). A couple of years after that, a fifth son was born. Did anyone note the name being changed to Six Guys? Nope. If two of them died, would it be Four Guys? The name is still the same, just like the Big Ten Conference no longer has ten. The name, the Twelve, just came to refer to the circle of Jesus’s own direct apostles.

Hall also tells us that civilizations have been around for 14,000 years. Granting that, how is it that they thrived without Moses telling them murder was wrong? If that wasn’t the point, why the Ten Commandments?

Yes. This is apparently where popular atheistic thinking is today.

The Ten Commandments did not reveal new moral principles. They were already known. They were just founding wisdom for guiding a people, not necessarily on moral issues, though that would be included. These were a sort of agreement the people would live by. It wasn’t that the morality was new and even in the New Testament, such as in Romans 2, it’s known that you don’t need the Law to know right from wrong.

He uses Zechariah 14:12 to say any nation that attacks Jerusalem will face drought and its people will become zombies. It’s certainly a bizarre interpretation, but it doesn’t fit. It’s an apocalyptic message using rich symbolic imagery and it refers to a specific people at a specific time in a specific situation and not for all time.

He then has something to say about substitutionary atonement. This is the most immoral and wicked doctrine to think that someone else can pay for the sins of another. It’s more than just paying sins, but taking on the shame and facing the shame. It strikes me that if God did nothing, He would be condemned for not dealing with the problem. Now He deals with the problem, but it’s just not liked how He did it. How horrible that someone takes on a punishment for us so we don’t have to! Wicked!

Also, it’s said that God shouldn’t have waited 200,000 years. Apparently, Hall has this idea that the atonement only applies to people afterward. Again, this is how little Hall has really studied Christianity.

Hall also looks at the story in Ezekiel 23 of the two sisters. He knows it’s an allegory, but he thinks it’s a pretty disgusting story. Okay. And? Is the Bible supposed to meet Hall’s personal sensitivities? Saying you’re offended by a passage says nothing about if that passage should be there or not.

He says Lot’s daughters got him drunk so they could rape him and have sons. Yes. They did. And? The Bible records how depraved they were and how two of Israel’s future opponents came about. The point?

Hall says that miracles also ceased once the camera came around and yet they became more common when photoshop came about. No data is given to support this. No interaction is given with Keener’s work, especially since his miracles take place in areas where cameras and photoshop aren’t as common.

He asks if you could stop someone from raping someone, would you? If so, you are more moral than God. This is just the problem of evil. Does Hall want Jesus to be Johnny on the Spot stopping every single instance of evil whatsoever? Don’t expect Hall to again heed any philosophy on the problem of evil.

He says Rome did not allow the bodies of the crucified to be removed. This is true, except in Palestine. Why? Romans were sensitive to Jewish purity laws and that would include the treatment of the dead, even the crucified dead. He says only one crucified corpse has been found. Granted that, lo and behold, it was in the Palestine area. When peacetime was going on between Rome and Jerusalem, Jerusalem was allowed to observe its laws.

Hall tells us that Mark was the first one written and the others copied Mark after that and the resurrection was hearsay and the last twelve verses were added a century later. Again, Hall does not read scholarship. He only needed to consult the agnostic Bart Ehrman on this one. This is from Jesus Before The Gospels. Ehrman says this in the endnotes on 280, but the link is to p. 226.

It is sometimes said that Mark does not have a resurrection narrative since the final twelve verses (16:9–20) are lacking in our best and earliest manuscripts. It is true that Mark appears to have ended his Gospel with what is now 16:8, but that does not mean that he lacks an account of Jesus’s resurrection. Jesus is indeed raised from the dead in Mark’s Gospel, as the women visiting the tomb learn. What Mark lacks is any account of Jesus appearing to his disciples afterward; in this, it is quite different from the other three canonical Gospels.

He also says Jesus said He came to bring fire to the Earth in Luke 12 and how He wishes it was kindle. No doubt, Hall reads this as a literalist thinking Jesus wanted to have an actual flamethrower or nuke the planet. This is more likely speaking in terms of revolution and bringing about the Kingdom of God. There’s no reason to really think it’s about torching the planet.

He has a question about how many of the Biblical writers met Jesus face to face. The options are zero, 4, at least 12, or at least 40. His answer is in the notes to that question.

(A) Zero. Remember that cognitive dissonance I was talking about? Yeah, you’re probably feeling it right now. Time to fact-check me.

Yeah. It is, because Hall provides no source whatsoever for that one. How about talking to Richard Bauckham of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses? I personally went to Emory University once looking through commentaries on Mark. Most scholars agree that Mark is the testimony of Peter who, check me if I’m wrong, but I think Peter knew Jesus face to face. The author of John also likely was an eyewitness or used an eyewitness. Perhaps we could also ask how many people Plutarch wrote about did he meet face to face?

It’s interesting that the next item he gives is about how the writers were anonymous. So were the writings of Plutarch. The point? As E.P. Sanders says about it,

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.

Don’t expect Hall to acknowledge this. It would have required he actually research something. He says the vast majority of scholars say Mark did not write Mark. My personal research disagreed. I would like very much to see what scholars he consulted since so far, his work indicates the number is likely zero.

He also gives a personal favorite of mine saying Jesus would return within a lifetime and He didn’t. The citation is in Matthew 24 with the this generation passage. Sorry Hall, but Jesus said nothing about a return. He was talking about His coming and He referenced Daniel. Daniel has the Son of Man approaching the Ancient of Days. He’s going up, not down. This is about Jesus’s coming meaning His coming to take His throne. The disciples would not have asked about His return since they had no concept of that. They didn’t think He was going to die in Jerusalem let alone rise again, leave, and then return. Jesus’s prophecy, which included the destruction of the temple, happened exactly as He said it would.

His next objection is

Religion is based on supernatural phenomena, beings, forces and miracles. The supernatural cannot be scientifically scrutinized because if science could detect it, it would cease to be supernatural and instead become natural. Unfortunately for science, religion can never be verified. Fortunately for theists, religion can never be falsified.

This is really an odd paragraph. For one thing, supernatural is never defined, which is another reason it’s a term I don’t use. He also has an implicit scientism here that unless something is scientific, it cannot be shown to be verifiable. This isn’t the case at all. Scientific truth is reached inductively. It goes by probabilities and the science we have today could be junk tomorrow. Some things are much more likely than others. One could say science can’t be falsified because for many claims, there are variables one could cite that explain why this just isn’t so.

Next he quotes Bart Ehrman to say Jesus is not mentioned in any Roman or Greek Non-Biblical source (I wasn’t aware there were Greek and Roman Biblical sources) until 80 years after His death.

“In the entire first Christian century, Jesus is not mentioned by a single Greek or Roman historian, religion scholar, politician, philosopher or poet. His name never occurs in a single inscription. It is never found in a single piece of private correspondence. Zero, Zip references.”

You really wish these guys would go to the original source. Prior to that, he tells us that there’s no doubt the historical Jesus is the most important person in the history of western civilization. There is no doubt of that at all in his opinion. Why does Hall leave this out?

He gives us Justin Martyr’s idea of diabolical mimicry wanting the reader to ask if the devil reading the prophecies about Jesus and attempting to fulfill them in false religions is a reliable argument. No. It’s not. The irony though is that Justin is not trying to explain away similarities. He’s doing the opposite! He’s trying to point them out and say to his audience, “We don’t believe shameful things because you believe similar.” Why are they similar? Because of the attempt by the devil to mimic. Again, not persuasive, but it’s not said for the reasons Hall thinks.

He then tells us about how vast the universe is and asks “Do you really think it was done with your insignificant self in mind?” Well, no. I think it was done with the glory of God in mind. We still needed a place to live in it. Whether it’s necessary or not scientifically, I leave that to the scientists. Again though, I suspect we have a case where Hall would claim victory in anything. If we had a universe teeming with life, the argument would be “See? There’s life everywhere. We’re not special.” Since we have the opposite as far as we know it is “See? We’re it. That argues against theism.” It’s a bad argument when you could make a case either way for you to win.

He brings up Jesus saying His disciples didn’t wash their hands. Couldn’t Jesus have mentioned basic sanitation? Um, Hall, The water likely back then wasn’t really pure and pristine. They didn’t have our soap and dishwashing detergent like we do today. Why should Jesus bring up something like this that would only apply thousands of years in the future?

He cites 2 John 9-11 to say you are not allowed to invite atheists into your house. Again, Hall does no study. The passage then is about a house church and how you shouldn’t allow a non-believer to be given a teaching position in your house church. It says nothing about having friends come over who are non-believers.

He cites Leviticus 21 saying handicapped people aren’t allowed in the assembly of the Lord. This is about the temple. Also, no non-Levites were allowed to enter and only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and only once a year. Why? Because this was supposed to image Jesus, the perfect lamb of God. Those with disabilities could freely eat of the offerings given though. This means they, like all others, can partake of the blessings of God.

He goes to Deuteronomy 22:23-29 about a woman marrying her rapist. Even another atheist has taken this one to task. Again, don’t expect Hall to have studied the text. That requires too much work. Outrage works so much better.

We’ll continue another time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Pulling Back The Green Curtain Part 5

What else can we find in Jim Hall’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We return again to Hall’s treasury of comedy, for lack of a better word, to see what arguments he has. Getting back into the matters, one of the first is the problem of evil. This is about how 25,000 children are dying everyday in fear, pain, and hunger. We are to remember this when we win some money in a scratch-off lottery ticket and give thanks or on Thanksgiving dinner.

We could just as easily ask Hall what great atheist organizations are doing to help combat the evil. Christians are normally right there on the front lines whenever disaster strikes and we are the ones that run the organizations helping children in need. Not all of it is Christian, but a large portion of it is.

Hall has nothing here on interacting with any scholarship on the problem of evil. Nothing about Clay Jones or Peter Kreeft or Alvin Plantinga or anyone like that. It’s simply the emotional appeal. While one would hope there is genuine concern for children, it looks more often like these children are trotted out to score personal points against theism.

He also says God violently drowned the world because they were too violent. This is supposed to be irony. What’s ironic is I went to Biblehub to do a search of the main passage, Genesis 6:5, and not one of them mentioned violence. Instead, it referred to man having a continual inclination towards evil. That could include violence, but it would not be limited to it.

Furthermore, God is the judge and ower of life and has the right to end the life He created. We do not have such a right. Hall just has a bad case of theistic personalism going on here. He views God as a big man just like the rest of us and under the same moral rules. God is good, but He is not a moral agent since there is nothing that He ought to do.

While I’m not Catholic, I find it amazing to hear him say Catholics practice cannibalism with transubstantiation. Hall is going back to older claims about eating the body and blood of Christ that Christianity’s first opponents used. Some arguments just never die.

He asks about how many pairs of animals Noah brought onto the ark. Was it two or seven? It’s amazing such a weak challenge is taken seriously. The clean animals would be extra for sacrifice and the number refers to how they were to enter the ark.

He quotes Matthew 6 to say Jesus was against public prayer. No. Jesus was against prayer to be seen. Pharisees would let it be known to everyone that they were praying so they could get the honor for it. Jesus Himself prayed in public, such as at the tomb of Lazarus.

He has that a 90 year-old woman gave birth. News flash to Hall, but everyone at the time also knew that this was generally impossible even without knowing why. That’s why it was called a miracle. I still do not understand how it is supposed to disprove a claim to someone that believes miracles are possible to show that a miracle occurred.

He also says one man circumcised 300 of his slaves in a day. As if to say that because the text says Abraham did this, he had to do it all directly. You might as well say that when John 19:1 says Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged, that Pilate did it directly. What is it with fundamentalist atheists and literalism?

He tells us the oldest bit of text we have from the New Testament is P52 and it is about the size of a credit card and dated to about 225 CE. Not sure where he’s getting the date at. Most sources I read say mid-second century. Furthermore, there is really no reason to call the text of the NT into question. We don’t have any original manuscripts of any ancient work and the NT is far and above better with dating and manuscript number than any other ancient work. Hall cites no scholars for his claim. For my position on the NT text, I will.

If the primary purpose of this discipline is to get back to the original text, we may as well admit either defeat or victory, depending on how one chooses to look at it, because we’re not going to get much closer to the original text than we already are.… At this stage, our work on the original amounts to little more than tinkering. There’s something about historical scholarship that refuses to concede that a major task has been accomplished, but there it is. Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior: An Evaluation: TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 1998, a revision of a paper presented at the Textual Criticism section of the 1997 Society of Biblical Literature in San Francisco.

In spite of these remarkable [textual] differences, scholars are convinced that we can reconstruct the original words of the New Testament with reasonable (although probably not 100 percent) accuracy. Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 481.

“The manuscripts of the New Testament do indeed have large numbers of variations in them: alternative ways of reading a verse in a passage; omissions of words or sentences; additional insertions of words and sentences here and there. But the problem is not of such a scope as to make it impossible to have any idea what these ancient Christian authors wrote. If we had no clue what was originally in the writings of Paul or in the Gospels, this objection might carry more weight. But there is not a textual critic on the planet who thinks this, since not a shred of evidence leads in this direction. And I don’t know even of any mythicist who is willing to make this claim. As a result, in the vast majority of cases, the wording of these authors is not in dispute. And where it is, it rarely has anything at all to do with the question of whether Jesus existed.” -Did Jesus Exist, p. 181

He also says that insects have four legs according to Leviticus. Keep in mind these were people who regularly hate these insects and knew how to count. What’s going on? Simple. The back legs are not counted as regular legs like the others.

He says that God cursed humanity with multiple languages for trying to build a tower to Heaven. Why isn’t NASA judged yet? Because the tower was built after the flood when mankind was supposed to disperse throughout the Earth and instead they were acting in pride to build a tower to keep themselves safe in defiance of the flood in their recent history.

“The gospels were not written by simple, illiterate, Aramaic-speaking fishermen and peasants who knew Jesus, but were written decades later by literate, educated writers who wrote in Greek and were, incidentally, rather hazy about the Jewish landscape” – Kenneth Humphreys

Yep. Ken Humphreys, owner of Jesus Never Existed. We are getting into some first-rate scholarship here, folks. First off, in the ancient world, most works of history were written decades later. Actually, that’s not really accurate. Many times it was at least a century later. Hall and Humphreys obviously hope their audience is as ignorant as they are.

Second, most everyone who could write back then even used a secretary when writing. That the apostles might have still been illiterate is irrelevant. Literate people used secretaries.

As for errors in the Jewish landscape, none are given. I guess Hall just wants us to take it on faith.

Hall lists a variety of seafood that you are forbidden to eat citing Leviticus 11. Well, maybe if you’re observant of Jewish law and kosher practice, but not necessarily if you’re a New Testament Christian who is not under the Law. Again, Hall takes a simplistic approach to a complex topic. It’s alright. We wouldn’t want him to actually work and study a topic.

He shares the story of Jacob working seven years to get Rachel and not noticing that he got Leah instead and how he worked another seven years. What’s the problem here? For one thing, how could he not notice? A number of reasons. One is he could have been likely drunk which would happen at weddings. Another is the woman wore a veil often and he might not have even seen her face until the next day and keep in mind, no lighting really at night unless you used a candle or something of that sort.

There are some accounts in the New Testament that Hall questions how the writer could have known about them. The first is the voice of Heaven at Jesus’s baptism. Yes. It’s a wonder how the author could have access to a public declaration done at the baptism of Jesus. Some such events are conversations with the priests and what they were thinking. Considering Acts 6 says some priests became followers of Jesus, it’s not too hard to figure out how that could have come about. What about Jesus praying alone? The word indicates that Jesus was a short distance away. This could have been easily heard. Pilate and Jesus’s private conversation. Doubtful that when it says they talked together, they were alone. A governor would not be without his aides especially when interviewing someone thought to be a criminal. Another humorous one is Joseph of Arimathea asking for Jesus’s corpse. Well, since Joseph was a follower of Jesus, maybe, and I realize this is stretching, but maybe he told other followers of Jesus what happened.

Could be.

He says that denying a gay customer a wedding cake because of your religious beliefs is the same as a Catholic refusing to sell condoms, a Muslim refusing to sell bacon, someone refusing to sell you cookies because you’re on a diet, someone refusing you a fishing license because they became vegan, and a Jew refusing to sell Christmas cookies.

Again, a simplistic approach to matters. To begin with, I think anyone who has a good or service has a right to refuse that since you do not have a right to anyone else’s goods or services. Second, to supply actual artwork for an event as is often asked is to be forcing someone to endorse that event since their artistic labors are part of their free speech. Would Hall be fine with forcing Jewish bakers to paint a pro-Nazi cake?

He says bats are birds and not mammals. This is going by modern taxonomy. In the Biblical case, the word for bird referred not to a taxonomy class, but a winged creature. Last I checked, bats have wings.

He says Judas refers to a Jew and thus the betrayal of Jesus is obvious fiction since Judah in the Old Testament sold his brother for 20 pieces of silver and Judas in the New Testament sells Jesus for 30. Never mind that Richard Bauckham points out that Judas was the fourth most popular name for Jewish boys in Palestine. Could it be that maybe Judas was the name because that was a common name and not because of some conspiracy theory? We’ll wait to see if Hall takes off his tin foil hat for this one.

We’ll continue another time. Only so much nonsense in a day after all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Pulling Back The Green Curtain Part 3

What more shall we find in Jim Hall’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we return, it’s not a shock that one of the passages I come across is Judges 1:19 and how God can’t drive out the people because they have iron chariots. Naturally, a God who conquered Egypt and parted the Red Sea would obviously have a problem with iron chariots? Right? The reference to he is not to YHWH. It is to Judah. Judah was not being fully faithful and chose to not take on iron chariots. After all, later in chapter 4, there is an army with 900 iron chariots that is defeated.

Hall also has a list of words known to Bible scholars but not to men in the pews. This is a shame. The people in the pews do need to be better educated. These terms include gloss, mimesis, and pseudepigrapha. There are some assertions here such as Moses is deutero which Hall says is another writing of a book but not by the same author. Deuteronomy really means Second Law and is a summation of all that happens before the Promised Land.

He also says Nazareth does not show up anywhere in the ancient world. Why should it? It was a small little podunk hardly worth mentioning. Rene Salm popularized the whole idea of the myth of Nazareth. It has never caught on among archaeologists. Bart Ehrman has even written on this arguing that Nazareth was a real place.

He has the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman as well. This is one I have already written about. Again, Hall is banking on his readers being just as ignorant as he is and getting an emotional reaction out of them. It would be awful for him to consult any commentaries and actually encounter contrary thought.

He has the story about Lot and the two angels. Yeah. Not Lot’s finest moment. What is this supposed to show? YHWH never approved of Lot’s behavior. He still spared him not because of his sinfulness but in spite of it.

He says that Peter and Paul supposedly died around 65, but if that’s the case, then Peter would not refer to Paul’s writings as Scripture because, well, reasons. None are given. He also says Paul’s letters weren’t discovered and circulated until 150 A.D. I would love to know where he got this little piece of fiction from since Polycarp and Clement both wrote of Paul. Third, he says Peter was illiterate so he couldn’t write so obviously, this letter is a forgery. The problem here is Peter would have used a secretary, just like people who could write used.

He has God making light on day 1 but nothing that produces light until day 4. It is a shame he has never availed himself of the cosmic temple view of creation that John Walton has. In this, it’s not that the matter is being created, but that the function of it is being named.

He says the RCC has finally accepted evolution, but they still accept Adam and Eve which is the epitome of cognitive dissonance. I am not aware if they have made a formal statement on Adam and Eve or not, but how is it cognitive dissonance? One can have evolution and still have two distinct human beings. Furthermore, I don’t think the RCC was really that opposed to evolution from the beginning.

He says wearing a polyester-cotton blend T-shirt is a sin based on Leviticus. The first problem is missing the role of the law and the relation of it to the Christian. The second is that this is about ritual purity and it is not about sin.

He says Jesus was illegitimate since Mary and Joseph had not yet married when he was born. The whole point of the story is that Jesus was not conceived through illegitimacy but had a virgin birth, which I do affirm. Exactly how little does Hall think his audience knows about the Bible?

Hall says there’s only one reason to believe something and that’s you know it to be true. That’s not accurate. One could just have good reason to believe it to be true. Proof isn’t always easy. Some reasons he says to not believe something are that it gives you comfort or hope, everyone around you believes it, or social reasons like losing job or reputation, or because you fear death. Sure. I agree with those. And?

He also says it took the Israelites 40 years to walk 250 miles. Indeed. Purposefully too, because they disobeyed and they had to wander in the wilderness until the wicked generation died. This is basic knowledge every Christian should know about the Old Testament.

He also has a list of later beliefs Christians had that aren’t in the Bible. One is the Trinity since 1 John 5:7-8 is a forgery. What of it? To say that is the basis of the doctrine of the Trinity is to be entirely ignorant of New Testament studies.

He finally says that if the only reason you don’t do wicked evils is because of religious morality, you are a dangerous psychopath. Japan has one of the lowest rape rates in the world but is one of the most atheistic country in the world. Where does he get this from? He says the Pew Research Center, but color me skeptical since Japan is highly religious with Shintoism and Buddhism both playing major roles. Also, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates as well.

Furthermore, what reason does Hall have to not be that psychopath? Who makes these moral rules? What is their foundation? Why should I care?

We shall continue another time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On The Passing of Norman Geisler

What do we see when the time comes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For those who don’t know, Norman Geisler passed away today. I heard the news probably within the last hour. It is official as it is on his own Facebook page and has been confirmed numerous times.

Many of you know that Dr. Geisler and I weren’t on the best of terms. Being the son-in-law of Michael Licona, I didn’t really care for when he went after my family and made charges against my father-in-law. That being said, some of you could be surprised to see me writing something about him.

It’s easy to write about those who love us and those who appreciate us. It’s not the best way though. When my wife and I heard about him having bleeding in the brain late at night due to a tweet from Bill Roach, we prayed for him. We had already prayed for the night, but we did so again for him. I saw last night about him being in a coma and checked this morning thinking it would happen any day now. I wasn’t really surprised when I saw it today.

Many of you know my wife is exploring Eastern Orthodoxy and is going down that path. I am not going down that road, but I do think there is some wisdom there. I do know that when we’re in a service, at one point the priest says “For those who love us and those who hate us.”

I am not saying Geisler hated us. I doubt that at all. But I am saying that those people sometimes who we seem to have something against or seem to have something against us or both are still made in the image of God. They make mistakes. We all do. Do I think Geisler treated my family right? Nope. Have I always treated everyone else right? Heck, no. Should I not show the grace that has been shown to me?

I also do appreciate the contributions Geisler made to the field in his early days. Many people got their start in apologetics because Geisler carried the ball and passed it on to us. When I went to SES, it was because of Geisler and he did treat me well for the time being there, but then the event happened with Mike and things went sour.

While things weren’t the best, if anything has been being shown to me lately, it’s that any anger towards someone else like that really doesn’t do any good. I can be angry with my fellow man all day and he’ll be just fine, provided I don’t act out on him in my anger. Who will be hurt the most? It will be me. It will also be those closest to me who have to put up with my attitude.

So as we come to this time, I choose to look back on the good. Honestly, when my time comes, there will be enough bad things I have done in my life that are shameful. I would hope people would not remember me for those. As the priest told us all in a service once, we should not refer to the apostle as Doubting Thomas because if we all took a snapshot of ourselves at the lowest point of our lives, we’d all look bad. This doubter most likely died a martyr for Jesus in India. Let’s remember that.

Geisler did much good for the kingdom and most apologists today owe some debt to him. While there were disagreements, there is coming a kingdom where all of us will embrace. Every argument we had down here will seem petty by comparison.

Maybe we should start treating them that way right now.

RIP Norman Geisler.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Chapter 38

Is Jesus superior? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this chapter, Glenton Jelbert responds to Tal Davis on if Jesus is superior to all other religious leaders. I really have no interest in prooftexting from the Bible and such. If the Biblical view of Jesus is true, such as Him being fully God and fully man, I think He is ipso facto superior to all other religious leaders. None of the rest of them could claim such a thing. What I am interested in are the ways that Jelbert gets Jesus wrong.

Jelbert wants to know the evidence that Jesus is perfect and sinless. Of course, as a Christian, I point to the resurrection as the validation of His specific claims about Himself. Jelbert doesn’t accept that. If one does not accept Christianity as true, they will not accept Jesus as sinless. They will definitely not accept the resurrection.

From here, Jelbert goes into the idea that if Jesus does anything as a perfect person, it must be good. This is so. It doesn’t mean that it is for us. It is just fine for Jesus to stand up and proclaim Himself as God. It would be blasphemy and/or idiocy for me to do the same thing.

Jelbert brings up supposed genocides in the Old Testament as another example of this. The difference I see here is that not only does God command war in the Old Testament, but the Israelites had abundant evidence to think it was God doing it. After all, they had seen Egypt destroyed by plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, manna falling from Heaven, Mount Sinai burning with the presence of God, and numerous other miracles. If you want to claim God has told you to do something that seems contrary, you’d better have just as good evidence.

Jelbert also says that going with revealed truth requires suppressing intelligence, rationality, and one’s moral compass. No argument is given for this statement. I see no reason to accept it and think it just implies Jelbert is saying that Christianity requires checking ones’ brains at the door. No doubt, some Christians do, but it is not a requirement.

Jelbert also writes about the atonement. He has a series of questions.

Why does God need to kill Himself/Jesus because of our sins?
What is the mechanism by which this works?
If Jesus and God are one, how did Jesus die and God not?
What does death even mean when applied to an infinite being?
Why would God be satisfied by this?

Jelbert says that none of these questions have meaningful answers and the produced doctrines just assert that no contradiction exists. Well, thus far, no contradiction has been presented. Asking questions is not the same as presenting contradictions.

Also noteworthy is that Jelbert does not interact with ANY theories on the atonement. There are multiple ones. Jelbert just accepts that none of them work. This is hardly the way to do research.

But hey, let’s look at these questions.

First off, God doesn’t kill Himself at all. Jesus gives Himself because our sins put a barrier up between us and God. Sin has to be taken seriously and sin is rebellion against a good and holy God. For God to ignore sin is to put creation above Himself. That would be treating us as greater than God. Meanwhile, we could not pay such a price. It’s not so much guilt as it is a debt.

What is the mechanism by which this works? There are many different ways, but let’s suppose I just said, “I don’t know.” Meanwhile, I do know that Jesus rose from the dead and is God’s chosen king. Am I to reject Jesus just because I don’t know how atonement works?

If Jesus and God are one, how did Jesus die and God didn’t? Jelbert assumes that Jesus and the Father are one person. They are not. The Son experienced death in that He was separated from His body on the cross, which wouldn’t apply to the Father since the Father has no body.

What does death mean when applied to an infinite being? For Jesus, it means the separation of His soul from His body. That doesn’t have anything to do with infinity.

Why would God be satisfied by this? See the second answer.

With this, I have answered Jelbert’s questions. Perhaps my answers aren’t all right. Okay. However, they are answers. Others will have different answers. Even if one can’t be proven, they can still be seen as coherent.

Jelbert then goes on to list some problems with Jesus. One is that Jesus was wrong about the time of His coming, which we saw earlier was actually false. He also says this led to unwise advice such as not worrying about tomorrow since it will take care of itself. How this is unwise is not stated. Jesus also could not have been talking about saving up since most people were day-wage earners and had nothing to save up. He was just telling such people to trust in God for tomorrow.

Of course, there’s something on eternal punishment. Jelbert apparently takes a one size fits all approach to hell and heaven. Some people in each place will be better off and worse than others. If Jelbert is aware of this, he shows no knowledge of it.

He points to calling the Canaanite woman a dog in Matthew 15. He says he doesn’t find it funny, but the key is the woman herself was not offended by it and saw it as a challenge from Jesus to rise up. Jesus was not joking, but offering the lady a chance to show herself. I think He was also speaking the way His apostles would speak and then letting the woman show herself even better than they were, and in turn, He did heal her daughter.

He speaks about the pigs being slaughtered and how the owners weren’t compensated, but in this kind of area, pigs would not have been a herd that should have been there. As for the fig tree, I just think we’re getting into bizarre areas when people are concerned over a fig tree. God as the Lord of Life can restore or kill a fig tree whenever He wants.

In the end, I find Jelbert’s arguments again weak. Maybe he’ll do better next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters