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)

Ignorance Is A Weak Excuse

Should you know what the other side says? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been going through Raymond Bradley’s book God’s Gravediggers and I plan to do a fuller look chapter by chapter, but I saw one quote that I wanted to highlight. It is about Christian philosophers who hold to inerrancy.

“”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.”
There’s one part in here worth highlighting.
“I simply don’t know what answers these notable theistic philosophers would give.”
Anyone should really know at this point to not take Bradley seriously.
Unfortunately, Bradley is not in the minority. Normally when I speak to atheists, I ask them if they have read such and such that disagrees with them and I am told that they have not. Most usually make some excuse and it really is presuppositional atheism. After all, everyone knows science is the only way to truth and anything that disagrees is automatically stupid. Why bother looking into a case for a miracle if it’s just so obvious they never happen?
Getting back to Bradley, he is talking about Old Testament questions. No one is saying that these questions shouldn’t be asked, but these are not new. The early church often debated passages that seemed to contradict and tried to work out apparent discrepancies.
The problem is that Bradley has no idea what would be said and this is too often something that can happen. A person can come up with what they think is an objection to a position and say to themselves, “I can’t think of any possible counter to this, therefore there isn’t one.” Consider what happens with the problem of evil. “Why would God allow this evil?” If no answer can be found immediately, well then there just obviously isn’t an answer. Right?
By the way, this is not to say that Christians don’t do the same thing. Christians absolutely do and that’s a travesty on our side. The mindset of Bradley is one that no one should really have.
Also, I would encourage Bradley to instead go to some Old Testament scholars instead of philosophers. Go to people like Walton or Longman or Christopher Wright or others. Go to a seminary and ask to see the library and read some commentaries on the passages in question.
When it comes to the age of the Earth, even the rabbis had been debating the interpretation of Genesis 1-2. Rudimentary forms of evolution were even discussed in those times. The information we can have is new, but the debates are really old. While it looks like Bradley grew up with young-Earth creationism, even the most ardent YEC would know other Christians have other interpretations and while they don’t agree, I hope they would say they understand these people are trying to be faithful to Scripture who disagree.
Something I often say about skeptics I encounter is they are not true skeptics. They believe what agrees with them 100%. They only question what disagrees with them. This also applies to politics also where it’s easy to go in with a bias and find something that supports your side and ignore the rejoinders to it.
Bradley is not a skeptic. He honors it with his lips, but his head is far from it. He has simply abandoned one loyalty to a position and replaced it with the same loyalty to another position.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Ancient Scripture, Ancient Views

How should we interpret an ancient document? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend of Deeper Waters and a personal friend as well sent me this video. I was surprised when I got to the end because I thought it had a lot of good stuff to see that it was also Mormon apologetics. Does that mean everything said is wrong? No. If a Mormon says 2 + 2 = 4, I’m going to agree with them. I just do want that disclaimer up there. Just because a group overall has wrong beliefs, it doesn’t mean that everything they say is wrong. (Thank you, Weird Al.)

What do we do when the Bible speaks about ancient science but says ideas that disagree with modern science. We realize that the Bible is not trying to teach us that science at that point. It is using language acceptable by people at the time. Some we still use today. A weatherman talks about sunrise and sunset even though we know that’s not what literally happens. Many a love song today can talk about loving someone with all their heart, even though we know the heart doesn’t do that.

Keep in mind I am not at all saying that the Bible has limited inerrancy where it errors in science but everything else is okay. What has to be asked is what is the Bible trying to each? When the Bible says to love the Lord your God with all your heart, God is not trying to give instructions of where love comes from, but to instead love the Lord with all you have.

The speaker in this video uses this I think accurately to critique the Flat Earth view. Fortunately for me, I haven’t really encountered people arguing this view yet. I know they’re out there, but I guess I have just been fortunate to not bother dealing with them.

Let’s make a brief statement about the whole statement about Latter-Day prophets that are cited in the end. Is everything the prophet of the Mormon Church says wrong? No, but we need to look at what they say in their own context as well and even then, there are still problems.

My biggest problem with the LDS movement is really the material they have that goes against the Bible and is also a problem with just good philosophy. Eternal progression, the idea that God was a man who eventually became God and good Mormons are to have the same experience is extremely problematic. There are a lot of problems in the Book of Mormon, but if you really want to see the esoteric doctrines, it’s in places like the Doctrines and Covenants.

Mormonism falls on other grounds. Many people have used the Book of Abraham as the ultimate Achilles’ Heel of Mormonism. However, I do think we also need to treat it the same way in that we look at the culture of the time and also with the Book of Mormon, we need to consider it in light of the claim that it is supposed to be an ancient document. Does it match ancient documents of the time and does it have claims that match them? (Materials used, for example.)

So in the end, I do ultimately agree with what was said. However, I do think this provides more problems for Mormonism as it doesn’t really mirror the ancient world that well. Mormonism falls on other grounds, but that’s for other blogs.

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

A Response to Ben The Amateur Exegete

Is Matthew an eyewitness account? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend of Deeper Waters a few weeks ago shared a video wanting my response to it. I just recently took the time to watch it. I found it interesting, and in some ways more informed than other skeptics, but also lacking. It was a response to J. Warner Wallace on eyewitness testimony and can be found here.

So let’s start with something minor. In the video, he shows Wallace saying he thought before his conversion that the Gospels were second century works. Ben, the person making the video response, says “Really?” and that’s it. I see no reason to think Wallace is lying on this point and if Ben thinks there is, he really needs to demonstrate that.

Ben does make a statement about how good something like Wallace sounds if you believe in inerrancy. I have no idea why inerrancy is made an issue here, other than the usual that it’s treated as an essential to Christianity and if you destroy it, you destroy Christianity. This is not at all the case and yet too many skeptics do have this kind of approach.

However, Ben chooses to look at Matthew. He has three points to what he says ultimately. I find all of them lacking. Let’s look at the first. The first is that the writers do not use a 1st-person in their work. You don’t see Matthew saying “Jesus said to me, follow me.” Jesus instead speaks in third person. Isn’t this unusual?

Sounds good, but really, this is an old objection. It goes all the way back to the time of Augustine even.

Contra Faustum 17.1


  1. Faustus said: You ask why we do not receive the law and the prophets, when Christ said that he came not to destroy them, but to fulfill them. Where do we learn that Jesus said this? From Matthew, who declares that he said it on the mount. In whose presence was it said? In the presence of Peter, Andrew, James, and John—only these four; for the rest, including Matthew himself, were not yet chosen. Is it not the case that one of these four—John, namely—wrote a Gospel? It is. Does he mention this saying of Jesus? No. How, then, does it happen that what is not recorded by John, who was on the mount, is recorded by Matthew, who became a follower of Christ long after He came down from the mount? In the first place, then, we must doubt whether Jesus ever said these words, since the proper witness is silent on the matter, and we have only the authority of a less trustworthy witness. But, besides this, we shall find that it is not Matthew that has imposed upon us, but some one else under his name, as is evident from the indirect style of the narrative. Thus we read: “As Jesus passed by, He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom, and called him; and he immediately rose up, and followed Him.” [Matthew 9:9] No one writing of himself would say, He saw a man, and called him; and he followed Him; but, He saw me, and called me, and I followed Him. Evidently this was written not by Matthew himself, but by some one else under his name. Since, then, the passage already quoted would not be true even if it had been written by Matthew, since he was not present when Jesus spoke on the mount; much more is its falsehood evident from the fact that the writer was not Matthew himself, but some one borrowing the names both of Jesus and of Matthew.


Augustine replied: What amazing folly, to disbelieve what Matthew records of Christ, while you believe Manichæus! If Matthew is not to be believed because he was not present when Christ said, “I came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill,” was Manichæus present, was he even born, when Christ appeared among men? According, then, to your rule, you should not believe anything that Manichæus says of Christ. On the other hand, we refuse to believe what Manichæus says of Christ; not because he was not present as a witness of Christ’s words and actions, but because he contradicts Christ’s disciples, and the Gospel which rests on their authority. The apostle, speaking in the Holy Spirit, tells us that such teachers would arise. With reference to such, he says to believers: “If any man preaches to you another gospel than that you have received, let him be accursed.” [Galatians 1:9] If no one can say what is true of Christ unless he has himself seen and heard Him, no one now can be trusted. But if believers can now say what is true of Christ because the truth has been handed down in word or writing by those who saw and heard, why might not Matthew have heard the truth from his fellow disciple John, if John was present and he himself was not, as from the writings of John both we who are born so long after and those who shall be born after us can learn the truth about Christ? In this way, the Gospels of Luke and Mark, who were companions of the disciples, as well as the Gospel of Matthew, have the same authority as that of John. Besides, the Lord Himself might have told Matthew what those called before him had already been witnesses of.

Your idea is, that John should have recorded this saying of the Lord, as he was present on the occasion. As if it might not happen that, since it was impossible to write all that be heard from the Lord, he set himself to write some, omitting this among others. Does he not say at the close of his Gospel: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written”? [John 21:25] This proves that he omitted many things intentionally. But if you choose John as an authority regarding the law and the prophets, I ask you only to believe his testimony to them. It is John who writes that Isaiah saw the glory of Christ. [John 12:41] It is in his Gospel we find the text already treated of: “If you believed Moses, you would also believe me; for he wrote of me.” [John 5:46] Your evasions are met on every side. You ought to say plainly that you do not believe the gospel of Christ. For to believe what you please, and not to believe what you please, is to believe yourselves, and not the gospel.

  1. Faustus thinks himself wonderfully clever in proving that Matthew was not the writer of this Gospel, because, when speaking of his own election, he says not, He saw me, and said to me, Follow me; but, He saw him, and said to him, Follow me. This must have been said either in ignorance or from a design to mislead. Faustus can hardly be so ignorant as not to have read or heard that narrators, when speaking of themselves, often use a construction as if speaking of another. It is more probable that Faustus wished to bewilder those more ignorant than himself, in the hope of getting hold on not a few unacquainted with these things. It is needless to resort to other writings to quote examples of this construction from profane authors for the information of our friends, and for the refutation of Faustus. We find examples in passages quoted above from Moses by Faustus himself, without any denial, or rather with the assertion, that they were written by Moses, only not written of Christ. When Moses, then, writes of himself, does he say, I said this, or I did that, and not rather, Moses said, and Moses did? Or does he say, The Lord called me, The Lord said to me, and not rather, The Lord called Moses, The Lord said to Moses, and so on? So Matthew, too, speaks of himself in the third person.

And John does the same; for towards the end of his book he says: “Peter, turning, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved, who also lay on His breast at supper, and who said to the Lord, Who is it that shall betray You?” Does he say, Peter, turning, saw me? Or will you argue from this that John did not write this Gospel? But he adds a little after: “This is the disciple that testifies of Jesus, and has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true.” [John 21:20-24] Does he say, I am the disciple who testify of Jesus, and who have written these things, and we know that my testimony is true? Evidently this style is common in writers of narratives. There are innumerable instances in which the Lord Himself uses it. “When the Son of man,” He says, “comes, shall He find faith on the earth?” [Luke 18:8] Not, When I come, shall I find? Again, “The Son of man came eating and drinking;” [Matthew 11:19] not, I came. Again, “The hour shall come, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live;” [John 5:25] not, My voice. And so in many other places. This may suffice to satisfy inquirers and to refute scoffers.

Xenophon does the same in Book 3, Chap. 1 of Anabasis.

“There was in the army a certain Xenophon, an Athenian, who accompanied the army neither as a general nor as a captain nor as a private soldier; but Proxenos, an old acquaintance, had sent for him.”

See also Anabasis 1.8.15; 2.5.40; 3.1.10, 47, etc.

Ben says that Thucydides refers to himself in the first person. Look at chapter 26 of Book 5.

I certainly remember that all along, when the war began and until it ended,
there were many who prophesied that it must last thrice nine years. I lived
through all of it when I was of an age to comprehend and had my mind
engaged, in order to know with some exactness; it also happened that I was
exiled from my city for twenty years after the command at Amphipolis
and, being present at the activities of both sides, especially the Peloponnesians, unoccupied because of my exile, I understood these all the more.
Accordingly, I will relate the disagreement after the ten years and violation
of the truce and how the war was fought from then on.

That sounds good. However, let’s look earlier in that section.

The same Thucydides, an Athenian, has recorded these events as
well, in the order that they occurred according to summers and winters,
up to the point when the Lacedaemonians and their allies overthrew the
empire of the Athenians and captured the long walls and the Peiraeus.

In the Jewish War account by Josephus in 2.20.4, he does the same thing.

4. They also chose other generals for Idumea; Jesus, the son of Sapphias, one of the high priests; and Eleazar, the son of Ananias, the high priest; they also enjoined Niger, the then governor of Idumea, who was of a family that belonged to Perea, beyond Jordan, and was thence called the Peraite, that he should be obedient to those fore-named commanders. Nor did they neglect the care of other parts of the country; but Joseph the son of Simon was sent as general to Jericho, as was Manasseh to Perea, and John, the Esscue, to the toparchy of Thamna; Lydda was also added to his portion, and Joppa, and Emmaus. But John, the son of Matthias, was made governor of the toparchies of Gophnitica and Acrabattene; as was Josephus, the son of Matthias, of both the Galilees. Gamala also, which was the strongest city in those parts, was put under his command.

And in book 7, chapter 1, of the Gallic Wars by Julius Caesar, we find the same thing.

When it was reported to Caesar that they were attempting to make their route through our Province he hastens to set out from the city, and, by as great marches as he can, proceeds to Further Gaul, and arrives at Geneva. He orders the whole Province [to furnish] as great a number of soldiers as possible, as there was in all only one legion in Further Gaul: he orders the bridge at Geneva to be broken down. When the Helvetii are apprized of his arrival they send to him, as embassadors, the most illustrious men of their state (in which embassy Numeius and Verudoctius held the chief place), to say “that it was their intention to march through the Province without doing any harm, because they had” [according to their own representations,] “no other route: that they requested, they might be allowed to do so with his consent.” Caesar, inasmuch as he kept in remembrance that Lucius Cassius, the consul, had been slain, and his army routed and made to pass under the yoke by the Helvetii, did not think that [their request] ought to be granted: nor was he of opinion that men of hostile disposition, if an opportunity of marching through the Province were given them, would abstain from outrage and mischief. Yet, in order that a period might intervene, until the soldiers whom he had ordered [to be furnished] should assemble, he replied to the ambassadors, that he would take time to deliberate; if they wanted any thing, they might return on the day before the ides of April [on April 12th].

(All of these are cut and paste and so I have not made any changes to the texts cited.)

E.P. Sanders is not wanting to give a defense of Christianity, but when writing about why a first person is not used in the Gospels says:

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.

Ben will need to tell why these other writers didn’t follow the same pattern or didn’t always. For now, let’s move on to the second crack supposedly. What about events for which Matthew was not an eyewitness.

Are we at best dealing with knowledge that is secondhand for those accounts? Yes.

And the problem is?

No one is claiming that Matthew was an eyewitness for everything in the Gospels by saying the Gospels are eyewitness accounts any more than Josephus could possibly be an eyewitness for everything in his account of the Jewish War or Thucydides and eyewitness for everything in the Peloponnesian War. This would be all-or-nothing thinking if done this way. Matthew certainly would not have been an eyewitness of the virgin birth, which I do affirm, but some examples Ben gives are odd. How would Matthew know what was said in the Sermon on the Mount?

For one, no one thinks the whole of the sermon is recorded in the account, save perhaps diehard fundamentalists. For another, if you are a speaker, you know you give a talk you know well more than once. Finally, this was a public event. There were numerous people who could corroborate. How did Matthew know about what happened with Judas giving the money to the priests or the account of the Sanhedrin trial? He could very well have relied on Joseph of Arimathea or any of the priests and Pharisees who we hear came to faith in Acts. Again, if you think everything Matthew reported had to be firsthand, then that is your problem. I do not share it.

Also, the evangelists never name themselves, but what of it? Plutarch doesn’t name himself either. Perhaps this was something done in Greco-Roman biography. It would be fascinating to see if any research has been done on that. However, that there is at least an exception in Plutarch should give us pause on making a big deal about this, as well as E.P. Sanders’s quote. Also, just because the author is not named in the body of the work does not mean he would not be named in some other way on a scroll being delivered to be read. (And keep in mind, Paul is named in several letters that skeptics insist he did not write.)

Finally, what about the relationship between the book of Matthew and Mark? The case for Marcan priority in Mark being the first Gospel is that most scholars hold to this. That is certainly a good point, but it is not by any means final. I myself have not really looked at the Synoptic Problem yet, but I do know enough to know that it is not a done deal. There are those who do hold to Matthean priority.  So what about similarities between Matthew and Mark?

What of it? Why should we think none of the Gospels ever used another Gospel. Why would Matthew use Mark if he did? Because Mark includes accounts from Peter that Matthew would not be present for and could use. Furthermore, why reinvent the wheel? If Matthew likes how Mark has phrased a matter, why change it? If the situation is reversed, the same applies. This really isn’t troubling.

Finally, Ben says if the edifice falls, everything falls, but most scholars do not build their case on inerrancy even if they focus on the Gospels and many use the epistles of Paul instead. The accounts are still safe.

I also find it disappointing that Ben nowhere interacts with Richard Bauckham’s work on this topic, a real scholar who has the most in-depth research on this. Another good read would be Keener’s Christobiography. I do appreciate he does give some citations, but I find the case again lacking.

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

Book Plunge Conclusion: Politely Rejecting The Bible

What are my concluding thoughts on Kapr’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So how do we end this? For starters, I will say this book is indeed true in the statement of politely rejecting in that the author is not nearly as antagonistic as most other authors who argue against Christianity are. I also appreciate that the accusations are not so simple as others. This is far better than say, David McAfee’s Disproving Christianity, which I have reviewed here, where the author simply throws out a bunch of contradictions with very little weight attached to them, thinks that he’s disproven Christianity, and then goes off triumphantly from there.

I am also pleased to see that Kapr has taken the time to at least interact with contrary thought. Too many skeptics tell me that there’s no evidence and then when I ask them what they’ve read on the other side, I get crickets. If you say there’s no evidence and yet you’re not looking, that’s hardly a surprise. One will not find what they are not looking for.

At the same time, it’s still lacking overall. Niceness does not equal an argument necessarily. Granted at times it can give a rhetorical push, it doesn’t work overall. I also would have liked to have seen more said about the resurrection of Jesus. There are still several Christians who do not hold to inerrancy but in many ways are conservative in their beliefs, say with regards to sexuality, and still hold to the resurrection of Jesus regardless.

Do I think Christians should interact with this and books like it? Yes. At the same time, I think this would be good for many skeptics to read to at least get somewhat of a higher class than the usual drivel that’s out there arguing against Christianity.

I also hope that this will get people interested in the second edition of Defining Inerrancy. Yes. It’s coming out soon. We have updated a few items adding information that wasn’t in the last one and I have included in it my tribute to Norman Geisler on his death.

We’ll see what next week brings!

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

Book Plunge Part 12: Politely Rejecting The Bible

Is God truthful? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In our household, April Fool’s Day is a big event and the major goal is to try to trick my mother. One of the best ones I ever pulled on her was to tell her I was going to be evicted when I lived in an apartment with a roommate. This year, we tricked her into thinking I had been accepted into a school in Romania and would have to move.

Every year she says she will not be tricked that day and lo and behold…

It reminds me of this:

It is also something that comes to mind when I read this objection from Kapr about God using lying spirits, most notably in 1 Kings 22. He does give a reference to Holding’s web site where this is said:

“The alleged problem: If God finds lying to be horrible, why does he put lying spirits into the mouths of prophets and delude people?

Where is the contradiction here? It appears that this objection is asserting that the fact that God does not like lying necessarily implies that He could not use this evil for His own ends as a judgment. This is hardly a valid syllogism. One’s feelings toward something don’t have any connection with whether it is possible to use that something towards one’s own ends.

The question is one for exegesis and theology, and it is a good question that is addressed in commentaries. But as we are dealing with allegations of contradiction here and not theology, this whole point is a non-issue from the standpoint of contradictions. As such, no further discussion is required on this point.”

Unfortunately, Kapr didn’t look too closely. This article was written by an Eric Vestrup. It was not by Holding.

However, for the most part, I agree with the assessment. God is going out of His way to tell Ahab, “Look! You’re being lied to!” If God had truly wanted to lie to Ahab, all of his prophets, including Micaiah, would have said the same thing. God gave Ahab a choice and even told what the outcomes would be depending on what Ahab chose.

The same is going on I think in 2 Thess. 2 with the people who are sent a strong delusion. What’s going on? Well, if you don’t believe the truth, what will you believe? By necessity, something else. If people reject the truth, then God just lets them go further their own way. They make the choice first.

Kapr also brings up Romans 3 and asks that we read the passage slow. No one seeks God? No one understands? I consider Romans 3 an extreme picture. It doesn’t mean that man is continuously evil and hopeless. Jews often spoke in hyperbolic terms. Let’s sum it up this way. Man is extremely wicked and fallen. Kapr sadly reads it in a very fundamentalist sense.

He also brings up 2 Kings 3 where Israel was told they would win a battle, but such great wrath comes against them that they are said to flee. In reality, the sacrifice of the child of the king of Moab indicated that a plague was coming on to his city. Israel would have seen this and known it was time to get out since the plague would end the battle. It is not that wrath came against Israel, but that there was indignation and strife among the camp upon hearing about this.

Next time we will conclude our look at the book as I give summarizing thoughts.

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.


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


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 5: Politely Rejecting the Bible

How do you find out what a text means? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we return to Kapr again, he is now asking about how you determine the meaning of a text. It’s important to note that while this focuses on the Bible, of course, this rule would apply to any text, which could in essence include unspoken texts. Think how many times women have complained that the men in their lives have missed “obvious cues” from them.

Again, there’s not really much in this chapter I object to if anything. He does talk at one point about his grandfather who is a KJV-onlyist so it’s not hard to see why he has a section on this in the book. He also does rightly point out that languages change over time so new translations are needed of any text over time.

If there’s a major point worth talking about, it’s at the end where he gives a case study and it is the story of the widow’s mite in Mark and Luke. In this story, a widow comes forward amidst all the people putting great amounts of money in the offering plate and puts in two small coins. Jesus says that the others gave out of abundance but she gave out of all she had to live on. Typically, we often see this as a story of sacrificial giving with Jesus praising the widow as an example of how we should live our lives.

Kapr contends that what is more likely is that these are people who are having to give to the temple in a sort of tax and says Jesus never praises the widow in the story. He simply points out what she did. If anything, Jesus is angry that this widow had to give everything she had while these rich people had plenty to spare.

I found this intriguing as a possibility, but I am not convinced. The text does speak of people coming and giving their gifts to the temple. Jesus might not outright praise the woman, but his drawing attention to her would not be to shame her I think, but to honor her as an example. Jesus elsewhere in the Gospels praises abundant giving, such as when he is anointed with perfume for his burial.

So again, thus far, things are rather bland. I can assure you all, that will not be the case for long.

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