The Choice

How do you respond to divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I heard the news that Allie wanted to file for divorce, I was devastated, as you can imagine. It happened when I was working at my job at Kroger at the time. Allie contacted me and I was sure I knew what it was about. I called her to just get it over with then and I only had an hour in my shift, but I talked to my manager and was still crying and said “I can stay at work, but please don’t put me in front of people.”

He was the only one then who knew what happened.

For my last day in Georgia, I had a friend who stopped by and I then realized I had misread a text from Allie and had to clear out. Thankfully, he was there as I couldn’t stop crying my eyes out. I didn’t really want to have this be happening. When my family came over the next day to pack up my stuff, I was so distraught I was of very little help.

Yet when I got back to my parents’ house, I knew I had to make a choice and I honestly don’t know when I realized it or how I did it, but I didn’t want to be constantly bawling in front of my parents for one thing. Sympathy from friends is one thing, but from parents, it’s another. At the same time, I can say as a man nearly 41 years old, I love my parents, but I do want to live on my own instead.

So I had to make a resolve. I could either be defeated, or I could win. As a gamer, I have a rule. When you play, you play to win. I decided I could either live my life in defeat or do nothing or choose to look in the face of adversity and take it on full throttle.

That doesn’t mean I do perfect. There are still times I can have hard days and hard nights where it is hard to sleep. There can still be times of intense depression. Overall though, that isn’t happening. If anything, I am just resolved.

I do still talk to the therapist I talked with in Georgia on the phone on a weekly basis. He is still guiding me. We talk about dealing with divorce, my work and living situation, and my plans to remarry. He even still recommends me marriage books and many times I still buy some and read them as remarriage is part of my plan for life.

Perhaps what you go through right now isn’t divorce, but there could be something. For me, it’s the power of choice. It’s kind of like how if two patients get a cancer diagnosis and one says “I’m going to beat this diagnosis and come out on the other end” and the other says “Woe is me”, the former is far more likely to survive based on the power of the will.

I have been given much advice on this and tried to follow it. My therapist said if I want to date again, I need to update my wardrobe, so I have already talked to my sister who is a beautician and asked for her help with this. Some have said I need to work on learning etiquette, so I am looking for resources on that too. I have got books on learning how to interact with women and read body language.

For example, as an Aspie, eye contact is extremely difficult, but I have read to just try to briefly glance into someone’s eyes. For this one, let it be both men and women. Get used to this. Then for women, when it is appropriate, smile at them. That doesn’t mean you ask them out or anything, but it does mean I work on building up my confidence there. It’s really fascinating to me how many smiles back I get.

I did say I share my Patreon more often. I really haven’t liked doing that, but I have to work to reach my own goals. I am also trying to build up my YouTube channel which can be found here, which means making videos and getting more subscribers. I work five days a week, so I try to make one on my day off.

My goal is first to move out. I either need to earn enough so that I can afford rent and everything else here, or else find a roommate, which is difficult since so many of the guys I know through DivorceCare also have kids which could make it difficult to have room for us to stay. They will also have to be someone who is friendly to cats since Shiro being with me is a non-negotiable.

Once I am out, that is when I really plan to start dating again. It is the therapy and the reading I am doing to work on my character and everything about me to make sure I am the husband I really am supposed to be someday. I also have a rule that I won’t be alone in a place I live with the girl or alone in the place she lives with her until marriage. I don’t want to risk temptation.

Also, I have plans to get my Master’s in Practical Apologetics at Colorado Christian University. I just have to pay off a class I took at Johnson University that I never finished paying for to get my transcripts. It’s going to be about $1,000. I plan to pay it by December if I have to so I can start my Master’s work. I can cover it now if I have to, but I’m still trying to save up money, especially since a financial advisor has plans for investing once I get to $10,000 in my account. After that Master’s though, I hope to get my PhD.

For fun meanwhile, I also have a friend who donates to me and part of the requirement is that some of that goes every month to cover a subscription to Final Fantasy XIV. Online gaming like this helps get my mind off of things going on and I play with many friends. If you are on there, I am Phoenix Skywing. A friend for my upcoming birthday this month also gifted me the latest expansion coming out in November.

Having these goals is important also because it means I have a plan to where I’m going. Even if I’m not sure how I will get there, I have some reason to get up every day and live my life. I want to embrace it as a gift. Attitude greatly matters.

Do I have hatred towards Allie in this? No. Sometimes, I do have anger, but I really do want the best for her. What good would it be to live with anger and hostility like that, which can be difficult sometimes? If I am seething with anger, for example, what is it doing to her? Nothing. What is it doing to me? It’s damaging me.

Instead, I try to live with the following rule in mind. The best revenge is a life well-lived. So I get divorced and it’s a horrible pain and I wish it hadn’t have happened this way. Sure. Yet if I just roll over and die and sulk in bed all day, I accomplish nothing. I might as well get up and continue the battle every day and in the end, I want to stand before God with a clear conscience.

I can also say that there have been times of wrestling with God and trying to understand what is going on, but I have nowhere else to really turn. I honestly think that if I didn’t have my knowledge of what I know through years of apologetics, I might not have made it through this or be making it through this. No doubt also, the great circle of friends I have is extremely supportive.

For all wondering also, I am on good terms with Allie’s family. I will be at ETS this year as I think I need to get myself out there and get recognized so that is a worthwhile financial investment and this year, I will be rooming with Mike. Of course, I made mistakes as any husband does. None of us are perfect spouses and as Lewis says, “We are all very hard to live with.” Still, my former in-laws know about the love that I had for Allie and that I did treat her well.

And oh yes, while I do take delight in being on the spectrum, like I said, I am working on things like eye contact more and more. I know some traits could be very annoying in a way I don’t want to a woman. Some could be hard to change and might need that female help. Allie did more to change my diet, for example, than anyone else ever had.

This is my battle and the cross I have to carry for now. It is not yours and even if you are going through a divorce, my divorce is different from yours still. However, I think my general outline of what I am doing can still apply to you whatever your cross is. Basically, it’s just choosing to live and overcome and work hard at it. It’s having some goals so that you have a reason to wake up in the morning and do something. It’s trying to say that your life is a gift and you want to live it and to enjoy the good things of this world. It’s still as a Christian embracing Jesus Christ and being faithful even when you can feel like you’re being given a raw deal.

I am not saying it is easy, but I am saying it is possible. It is your choice. I have made mine.

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

On Divorce

Why is divorce such an evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So Saturday, I had to break a lot of silence. There was something I had to say publicly that I never wanted to say. It really wasn’t because of my shame, though it is shameful, but because I was trying to protect Allie’s reputation. I did not want anyone speaking ill of her or mistreating her. I realize if you don’t really know me, you have no reason to believe me over her, but I hope you would be willing to hear both sides and ask good questions, but here goes.

Technically, I am now a divorced man.

It hurts to write that sentence.

Allie has claimed that I have abused her. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you want to hear who thinks otherwise, you can talk to her parents, her brother, the priest we saw together at the Orthodox Church Allie was visiting, a Catholic priest we both talked to on the phone regularly, the therapist we were both seeing, or any friend or family member who saw us both together regularly and some who would come to our place to see us.

I also have such a super-sensitive conscience that I would not bear the thought of hurting Allie. In my mind on the spectrum, I follow tightly a list of mental rules. I do not want to break those rules and one such rule is when you marry someone, you love them unconditionally. If you asked me if I still love Allie today, I would say absolutely. That does not mean I want to be with her now, but I do genuinely want the best for her and pray for her regularly.

However, this is the most painful experience I have gone through. I have gone through major back surgery and through a time in high school where I had a suicidal depression with regular panic attacks. The only thing that has cemented me so much now is all the studies I have done on the truth of Christianity.

By the way, with that last point, I want to make a request. I know that I have friends who are atheists and agnostics and people of other religions who read my blog. Please in comments or Facebook discussion, do not make this about the truth of Christianity. I am happy to debate that at other times, but this is about something else.

Going through this has shown me what an evil divorce is. I am not saying that divorce should never happen. Sometimes, I think it is necessary. I think a woman actually being abused by an unrepentant husband should divorce. Why is that an evil? The woman is not doing anything evil, but an evil takes place in that someone broke their vow before God and man to love and cherish and be exclusive. Divorce is not just an action against another human being. It is an action against God.

It is the person who is doing the action that requires the divorce who is doing the evil. If a woman is being really abused and files for divorce, she is not doing an evil. If a man has a wife who cheats on him and he files for divorce, he is not doing an evil. The evil has already been done. The person is in this case protecting themselves. The tragedy is that someone did break that promise that they made and chose to not really act in love.

So what is it going on on my end? Well, I have had to move back in with my parents. I love my parents, but no man who is about to turn 41 (On the 19th of this month) wants to live with his parents. I really want to be on my own again in an apartment. I am working a full-time job at Wal-Mart as the only one I can find now and trying to earn up all that I can and move up the company ladder as much as I can. I would love a full-time ministry job, but it’s not there yet.

I have a good friend who has been divorced and is now remarried and he told me to get into DivorceCare as soon as I got back. I have been doing that. I have a great group and our leader is very supportive of me. We did have a major rift of trust at one point and I did confront him on that and he realized how I was seeing things on the spectrum and we have improved greatly to have a relationship where I call him now with areas I am struggling with.

It’s a real struggle with rejection. If you asked my mother, she would tell you that all my life, what I have wanted so much is to have a woman in my life. My first crush was long before I hit puberty. All through elementary school, I had a great crush on the same girl.

Now I get rejected and it is tempting to wonder what was wrong with me that I was rejected. I don’t want to say everything going on yet, but I am convinced that it was not a deficiency in me in that major area, at least nothing worthy of a divorce. I’m not going to claim I was a perfect spouse. No one is. I will tell you that I strived to be the best that I could be and that was even when it was hard for me as numerous people told me many times I could legitimately file for divorce and I always refused. I never wanted to be a person who rejected Allie.

To go back now to the whole thing about where I am living and my work, this is one reason if you follow my Facebook you have seen me making appeals about my Patreon, the swag store to buy materials on the virgin birth, which I do affirm, and about my YouTube channel. I have to advertise myself and honestly, I hate it. I wish I didn’t think I had to do that, but I do. I will tell you also that I’m looking for someone who can be a YouTube editor to spice up my videos and in the future if I get to that place of independence, I would hope it would become something I could pay for. If you are interested, please let me know.

I have also tried to avoid acting spitefully towards Allie. I do say things in private conversations to people that I trust where I think Allie has done very wrong things, but they would also tell you in those conversations, I am clear that I want the best for her. Check my Facebook for the past several months when all of this was going on and I said nothing.

Why did I come out? Because last Saturday we thought she was in danger and I knew part of explaining that would sadly be sharing about the divorce. I did not want to do that. I will not be talking about that now though. Just please pray for her. She is in God’s hands either way.

While I have been doing a series on eschatology however, I do plan on doing a series on divorce now to to share what it is like, especially as I am going through it while the emotions are still fresh. I will talk about learning to rebuild my life and about also how yes, I am planning on remarrying someday.

The best thing I would tell you to do is honestly pray for Allie. I have had some of you come to me who have known and said you have to unfriend or ask if you can. If you think you need to, I will not stop you. That is your choice and I bear nothing against you.

For my friends who are happily married now, I hope to be where you are again someday soon. Please do enjoy it and take the time to cherish one another. You have a gift.

I appreciate prayers for me also in all of this and any concern that has been shown. Again, I never wanted to say this. I always strived to be the best husband I can be. As a gamer mindset, whenever I do something, I want to do the best at it and having a wife, I wanted to be the best I could be and love my wife with all that I had. Today, I have no hatred towards her and in all of this, I have tried to act without animosity and trust in God.

I also ask prayers for her family, her parents and brother. They are going through a hard time as well. I was told when they went to her neighborhood Saturday, they were looking around frantically doing anything they could to try to find her. Mothers out there I am sure can especially relate. If your baby was lost and you didn’t know where she was, no matter how old she is, you are going to be concerned.

A divorce series is one I never wanted to write, but now I will have to. I hope seriously it will be a service to someone else going through a divorce and hopefully even better, could stop some divorces and encourage people to work on their own marriages. I have nothing against marriage.

If anything, I am also trying to live my life by this dictum. The best revenge is a life well-lived. I do not want to be a victim. I want to go out and enjoy my life and that includes marriage again. I try to remember happiness is a choice and I am making it my resolve to succeed all the more. I don’t want my life to be a waste.

This experience will not be one also. I sincerely want to help others who are doing the same. My friend who is helping me was helped by someone else who had been there through his divorce, and hopefully, I will someday be helping someone else. Maybe I already am by this blog.

Thanks, everyone for your concern. Please do remember to pray for Allie. Also, I hate to say it as I said earlier, but if you do want to join me on the journey, you can subscribe to Deeper Waters Apologetics on YouTube and support through Patreon. I really hate doing that, but it is the hand that I have to deal with now.

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

Book Plunge: Raised on the Third Day

What do I think of Mike Licona and David Beck’s work published by Lexham Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Gary Habermas has done more in defending the resurrection of Jesus in scholarly work than anyone I can think of save going back to the apostle Paul. Not only that, he keeps doing more. Also, he has the character of one who is meant to be an apologist. He not only deals with the resurrection, but especially deals with doubters and will invest plenty of time on them and answers all of his own emails and phone calls.

This is a work dedicated to Gary Habermas with a range of scholars coming together, all of whom have been impacted in some way by Gary and his work. The book has some of everything. Some chapters I didn’t understand at first, such as Francis Beckwith’s chapter on legal issues involving the redefinition of marriage, until I found out that Gary has an interest in that area as well.

Want to know about substance dualism? J.P. Moreland delivers. What to know about the Shroud of Turin? Barry Schwortz is here. You can discuss the moral argument and purity in the Gospel of John in relation to the empty tomb.

Veterans and novices alike will find something in this book that can greatly help them. Those with legal challenges will find Francis Beckwith’s work fascinating. Those interested in the Shroud again will enjoy the chapter by Schwortz that discusses the history. Mike Licona’s chapter will be of interest to those who hear the argument about the authorship of the texts being in question with what he says about ancient historians.

The book also has personal looks at Gary Habermas. The two that are in this field are Alex McFarland and Frank Turek. I want to take some time to personally expound on this issue from my own personal position.

Many of you know that I know Gary Habermas personally. If I send him an email, I can normally expect that within 24 hours, he will respond to that email. There have been times that I have called him on the phone and he said that he only had ten minutes he could give, but he ends up giving an hour.

Gary’s personal investment in taking the time to meet with people he doesn’t know and invest in them, even hardened skeptics, is a testament to his character. I was never a hardened skeptic, but he took the time to invest in me once and has helped me tremendously. With the trouble that is going on in my own marriage right now, Gary has been an invaluable help to me.

When I in the past had been caught in the throes of extreme depression over the situation, Gary was right there willing to help. I could call him feeling utterly miserable and hang up feeling good. As one can expect, I would not be filled with joy, but Gary is a good listener who knows the psychology of what he speaks and knows how to talk to people who are suffering. This is fitting for him since he himself went through that with the death of his first wife, Debbie.

That having been said then, that is about the only lack in this book is a chapter on dealing with doubt. This has been an emphasis of Gary Habermas for a long time and it is something that any great thinker will deal with. I know many skeptics reading this will say it as a smear that an apologist can have doubt, but if anyone who is a serious thinker doesn’t ever have doubts about their position, I consider them NOT taking that position seriously.

Thus, if I would have changed anything about the book, I would have included one chapter on the different kinds of doubt and how to deal with them. It would have included an emphasis on emotional doubt since that is the one most common on a personal level. Such a chapter would be a benefit to many apologists and to any seekers reading the book.

Still, this is a fine book to read. It is an excellent tribute to an excellent man. Gary Habermas is a gift to the Christian apologetics community and we can be thankful for what he has done.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
Support my Patreon here.

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)

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 39?

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

In this chapter, Jelbert takes on Mike Licona’s essay on Jesus being the only way. I do agree that this is not evidence for God, per se, but there are still matters to deal with here. So let’s get started and see what we have to say about what Jelbert said.

Jelbert again says that since Licona says the resurrection is the prize puzzle in an earlier chapter, that means that the resurrection is not yet established. If he means established to the satisfaction of everyone, sure, but on those grounds evolution is not yet established and even Intelligent Design is somewhat established. What I take Licona to mean is that this is the topic that is the hardest to tackle in historical Jesus scholarship.

Next, Jelbert says Jesus is saving us from Himself, though considering the horrid understanding he has of the Trinity, I suspect Jelbert really means the Father. Jelbert tells us that if an earthly father locked his daughter up unless she said she wasn’t better than Hitler, we would not regard that as generous salvation. If he went on to say that she needed to pay for her sins, but he was going to smash his hand with a hammer instead, the result would be horrification.

None of this is an accurate picture. For one thing, not all of us are children of God in the sense of part of the family yet. We all come from Him, but some of us are rebels. There’s also the idea on Jelbert’s part that the children are presumed innocent and the only problem is they don’t stroke God’s ego.

Also, forgiveness is really the paying of debts to some extent. In that case, it is entirely fair for someone else to pay the debt for someone else. This happens regularly today still.

Jelbert also says that he found a problem going through Evidence for God in that he would be told he has a conscience which is evidence of God, but when it comes to doctrines like Hell and Christian exclusivism, then we don’t listen to that conscience. Fortunately, I don’t use that argument. I realize we all have a sense of right and wrong, but that has been seared as it were and is not infallible. Our ideas are more impacted by culture than we realize.

Jelbert moves on to saying that if you do believe in hell, you are obliged to try to convert people. Licona says that anyone is free to say “No thanks.” Jelbert says this ignores plenty of times of forced conversion and such in church history. It also ignores Christianity trying to force its way into the public school system. Jelbert is making too much out of one statement. It is ridiculous to think that Licona is supposed to speak on behalf of all of Christian history. As for science education, I do not support ID, but I have no problem with them wanting to get their ideas into the public marketplace. Why not bring them in and discuss them? Are atheists afraid they cannot expose them?

Jelbert also brings up Deuteronomy 13:6-15 where people who try to convert Israelites are to be killed. That’s also because Israel was under a Suzerainty covenant where loyalty to the sovereign was to be expected and anything contrary would be rebellion and in a society where communal thinking was the norm, a little leaven would work through the whole dough. We are the weirdos in this regard. Our individualism is the outlier. To some extent, we still have this. When we have people who promote disorder in the society, we lock them up in prisons away from the general population.

Licona also says those who complain about exclusivism being intolerant are themselves being intolerant. Jelbert says that a person can be tolerated while their beliefs are not. This is true, but I suspect Licona is talking about a much more modern view of ideas where holding a disagreeing opinion is considered intolerant. Jelbert is right on a classical definition of tolerance. Licona is right if he is going with the modern notion, which I think he is.

Jelbert also says the Christian beliefs aren’t much comfort in general in times of pain. Perhaps sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are awful. So what? Sometimes, they are a help. I could just as well ask what help is an atheist belief in time of pain? This is just the way reality is? Get used to it? Life is a pain and then you die and it never mattered anyway? The hope of the resurrection for me, as a Christian, is a very real hope.

Jelbert also tells us a lot about himself in that when he realized he didn’t believe in God, he first thought of hell and what if he was wrong. Then he says that if God wants him to believe, God will convince him. Yes. After all, it’s God’s job to do the work. I have written about this before in God being treated like a trivia question.

In closing, I would like to explain why Jesus is the only way. Jesus is the only way because He is the only one who did anything about the problem, which is sin. He is the only one who comes from the only true God and can represent us. No other religious figure did anything about the problem. Hence, Jesus is the only way.

Some might be wondering about those who never heard. That will be dealt with later on. When it comes up, we will deal with it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Chapter 36

Were the resurrection appearances hallucinations? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s been awhile since we looked at Glenton Jelbert’s work. Let’s get back into that. This time, we’re looking at his response to Michael Licona’s chapter on the appearances. Thankfully, there is no denial that the appearances happened. The difference is still based on what they are.

Jelbert quotes Licona who quotes Dale Allison saying that the topic of the historicity of the resurrection is the prize puzzle of New Testament scholarship. Jelbert tells us that this sentence succinctly concedes atheism and shows the presuppositional nature of the research. The quote shows that even conservative scholars agree more evidence is needed.

I have looked over this time and time again and wondered how Jelbert has arrived at this conclusion. Jelbert seems to have this tendency to make grand leaps without showing he’s really understood what has been said and is assuming a conclusion thinking everyone else will see how obvious it will. No. We won’t.

All Allison is saying is that the question of Jesus is the great topic of controversy in New Testament Studies. A number of New Testament scholars on both sides don’t even touch it. I still have no idea how Jelbert arrived at the conclusion that he did, but even if he does arrive at that conclusion, he should tell his readers how he arrived at it.

Jelbert quotes Licona speaking about the possibility of one person saying “I see Jesus here” and then another saying something else and hysteria developing. There is a great problem with this. I say this as a man married to a woman who has hallucinations. Normally, these hallucinations are all realized quickly. The only exception would be an extreme case of schizophrenia like that in A Beautiful Mind.

Of course, for this to follow, this must mean that of all the people Jesus chose to be His disciples, all of them had to have this kind of schizophrenia or something similar. After all, normally once a hallucination is done, while there can be some fear associated with it, it is realized to be a hallucination and one moves on. For the disciples, there is no indication that they moved on. They were convinced this was real.

Licona then quotes Gary Sibcy who says that there is no record in the peer-reviewed journal of a documented case of a group hallucination. Jelbert responds that the apparitions of Mary, including the famous example of appearances to six children in 1981 in Medjugorje suggest otherwise.

Yet here, Jelbert is assuming what he needs to prove. Let’s consider some points. First off, it could be the children are playing and that they are the only ones claiming to see something, but if playing, this is not a mass hallucination and if all we have are children seeing this while doing this and adults there claiming to believe them, that is a mass delusion and not a mass hallucination. I am not saying this is what happened. I am saying this is a possibility.

Second possibility, it could be the Catholics are right and this is an appearance of Mary. Again, as a non-Catholic, I am skeptical, but it would explain the data. If so, then this is not a hallucination.

Third, it could be that there was something there, but that this was a demon posing as the Virgin Mary. Again, I am not saying this is what happened but presenting all possibilities. Again, if there really was something there, then this is not a mass hallucination.

What Jelbert needs to do is demonstrate that there was no external referent. Since I doubt he was at the event, I don’t think he can do this. Further, the only way to establish there was no such referent is if he says there was no referent because such appearances by demons or the Virgin Mary do not happen and we know this because these things don’t exist. In this case, he is the one arguing in a circle.

When we get to Paul, Jelbert says Paul watched Stephen get stoned and heard Stephen talking about heaven opening and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. He says it’s not hard to imagine such an emotional and traumatic experience impressing even an “enemy.” Well, yes, if you want to do psycho-history and assume people in the ancient world thought just like we do. There’s no indication that Saul had any guilt whatsoever in what he was doing and was still going through it. This is just an account given to explain data away without any real support. This seems to be a common ploy in atheist critiques of events.

  1. Take an event hard to explain.
  2. Give a story that you think explains the situation without any hard data to back it.
  3. Assume the problem is dealt with.

He also tells us that the appearances traditions contradict. If we just go with the ones in 1 Cor. 15, which are sufficient, we don’t have a problem. Still, Jelbert’s work is sloppy here. He says that Luke has the ascension at the end of his first book and then forty days later. Let’s start with a basic assumption. Luke is not an idiot. He knows what he’s doing. He is just condensing a large portion of material into a small space.

He also says John 21 is plainly the same story as Luke 5. It’s just moved to the end. Again, why should I think that? Could not Jesus have done this again to remind the disciples of a past event where He showed who He was?

Jelbert also says that Ehrman points out doubt in the appearances. One verse is in Matthew 28:17, but I don’t think this is doubt about Jesus’s resurrection, but doubt about if they should worship Him or not. That Jesus gave many proofs isn’t a problem either. We don’t know for sure what He was doing, but apparently Ehrman is sure He knows why. Could He not be showing them the wonders of the resurrected body that they will have some day?

He also looks at Luke 23:43. He sees a problem in Jesus saying that the robber would be with Him in paradise today. Why? Jesus goes to a waiting intermediate state before His resurrection with the robber. That’s not a problem. Yet Jelbert says that maybe the comma is in the wrong place and it’s Jesus just saying that He’s saying this today.

First off, what’s the point of saying He’s saying it today? When else will He tell it? This explanation doesn’t fit.

Second, most Greek experts think the placement of the comma is just fine. What evidence does Jelbert have otherwise? Let’s see. The United Church of God. The UCG is not considered an orthodox Christian demonination at all. Why not go to a New Testament scholar instead?

Jelbert also says that shifts in doctrine could occur easily at the start where oral tradition was the main way of communicating. There are problems here of course. The first is that the best place for evidence is 1 Cor. 15 and that’s at the start of the oral tradition. Second is that oral tradition is really a great way of communicating information and Jelbert has done no research into how it is done or at least hasn’t shown it.

In the end, I find Jelbert’s case extremely lacking. If he would rather believe in a mass hallucination that we have no data for, then it reminds me that once again, an atheist will often choose to believe anything rather than to believe the resurrection happened. Any port in a storm will do.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Does It Matter If The Resurrection Is A Metaphor?

Does it matter if the resurrection was literal? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Wednesday night, I was at the debate between my father-in-law, Mike Licona, and John Dominic Crossan about who the historical Jesus was and how he saw himself. I hate to say it, but it really wasn’t much of a debate because I don’t think anyone really understood what Crossan was arguing. Crossan was putting practically everything into the world of metaphor and saying that the message was a metaphor and that he would die for a metaphor and if the resurrection is literal, what difference would it make? The real question is are we living resurrected lives.

When I got up to ask a question, I said my wife and I enjoy being married. Still, we wonder what will happen when our time comes. Will we be together forever? I replied that a literal resurrection can assure us that we will be. What hope can a metaphor give us?

The reply was something along the lines of how the message was not the resurrection of individuals but that the human race would overcome. The violence of Rome would be overthrown by non-violence. This is supposedly the good news of Jesus.

There are a number of things I wonder about this, such as how this Jesus got crucified. Despite that, there is one thing I want to focus on. The resurrection. Does it make a difference if it’s a metaphor or literal?

I’m not going to go into making a whole case for the resurrection. That has been done plenty of times elsewhere. I am going to be emphasizing the difference it makes and to be fair, it is easy to miss this many times.

One big difference is that we live in a world where death is a reality. We see it all around us. We know that when the game over comes for someone, it really is game over barring a miracle. It’s a sad reality. When we bury a loved one, they are dead, and the relationship is not the same.

Will it ever be? Is that it?

We live in a world of injustice. Recently here in Atlanta, we had a police officer shot who died from that and his killer was found within 48 hours and also died when he pulled out a weapon on police officers. There are many crimes that take place and sadly, the culprit is never found. Some people seem to go free.

Will there ever be justice?

Sometimes people die from disease. Our friend, Nabeel Qureshi, died from stomach cancer at an extremely young age. Just today in my Facebook memories I saw something about a friend who passed away last year. She was an older lady, but it’s still hard to see.

Will this ever be righted?

What about our universe itself? Some of you out there I am sure believe we are responsible for some climate change. We live in a world there does seem to be a lot of destruction. We want to colonize other planets, but even if we do, the universe is destined to die a cold death and take us with it.

Is there any point?

What about our bodies themselves? Do they matter? Are human beings just objects. Does it matter what I do with my body? Does it matter how I behave sexually or how my diet is?

What difference does it make?

This is why the resurrection matters? Will we live again and see each other again? Yes. Will evil be judged and good rewarded? Yes. Will lives be redeemed that died from tragic disease? Yes. Will the Earth and the universe be renewed and made eternal paradises? Yes. Do our bodies matter and how we treat them? Yes.

The resurrection matters.

It matters that it’s literal.

I think I’ll stick with the literal resurrection. That’s the good news that overcame the Earth. Christianity isn’t just a nice story. It’s a reality about the world and everything in it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Those interested in the debate can listen to it here.

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Chapter 30

What do we make of Jesus being said to be the Son of God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We continue our look at Glenton Jelbert’s work with him taking on the first part of Ben Witherington’s work on Jesus. In this chapter, it is about Jesus being the Son of God. Son of God did not equate to divinity in Judaism. For the pagans, it would have done that, but it certainly would not be in a monotheistic sense.

Witherington does say that Mark quotes “You are my Son” and leaves out “Today I have become your Father” to show that this is not adoptionism. It is recognition of who Jesus is by the Father. Witherington also argues that Jesus did have a unique relationship to God in praying to Him as abba, a term of endearment. Jesus also saw Himself as central to a relationship with YHWH for those estranged from Him.

Witherington also looks at the Johannine thunderbolt. This is Matthew 11:27. In this, Jesus sees Himself as the unique conduit of knowledge between God and man. The only way to know God is through Jesus.

Witherington also offers the parables. In the parable of the tenants, Jesus makes a strong implication to being the Son of God. Jesus understood that in some way, He had a unique connection to God.

Jelbert responds that looking at the argument, it’s clear these were not strong divinity claims. I disagree. Jelbert doesn’t say anything beyond his claim so one could say I don’t have to say anything more.

I will say more. I will say that Jesus approached God in a unique way not seen by any other teacher of His day. Jesus’s statements would be blasphemous on the lips of anyone else. These were the kinds of statements that led to His being crucified and also to nearly being stoned several times.

Jelbert says that in the last essay we were to look at the unquoted context about the Son of Man and assume it applies to Jesus. Here, we are to ignore it and assume it does. I am puzzled as to what is meant by unquoted context. Context of a passage normally isn’t quoted period. It’s just assumed.

Jelbert says that a plain reading shows terms weren’t linked to divinity. Witherington has quoted 1 Timothy 2:5 about one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Jelbert tells us the verse specifically cited says Jesus is a man.

I am sure Witherington would be extremely grateful for this. No doubt, in all of his reading of the text, he had never noticed that. We can expect a strong retraction of his usage of this verse any moment now.

Except Jesus being a man has always been a part of Christian theology. What would we say? The God Christ Jesus? That would lead to something like polytheism.

Jelbert also says we can’t be sure that Jesus said these things because it was written down later while the theology was evolving. Naturally, there is no interaction with scholars like Hurtado, Bauckham, Bird, Tilling, etc. who make up the early high Christology club. Jelbert also lives in a strange world where apparently before a scholar quotes any text he has to make a strong case for it going back to Jesus.

On a side note, Jelbert also talks about Jesus referring to the Canaanite woman as a dog in Matthew 15. In this case, I think Jesus is playing along and showing the disciples where their own hostility towards outsiders led them. Sadly, the text cannot convey tone of voice or anything like that. There was something in Jesus’s statement to the woman that indicated that she should press harder, and she did. Jesus does end up healing her daughter.

Jelbert goes on to talk about the evolution of the person of Jesus. Paul and the early Gospels do not see Jesus as God. It would be good to see some backing of this claim. Philippians 2 and Romans 9:5 and other such passages come to mind in Paul. There’s also the Christianization of the Shema in 1 Cor. 8:4-6.

For Mark, I think it’s all throughout. Jesus, in the beginning, is given a divine title compared to Caesar and then John the Baptist shows up preparing the way of the Lord and lo and behold, there’s Jesus. In the next chapter, Jesus claims to be able to forgive in the name of God and to be the Lord of the Sabbath and such. Perhaps Jelbert lives in a world where you have to come out and explicitly say “I am God” to be seen as making such a claim.

Jelbert says that this also shows a move from monotheism to the Trinity. Absent is any notion that even in Jewish monotheism, there was a question about the possibility of plurality in the person of God. One could see the work of How God Became Jesus for examples. It also ignores that the Trinity is monotheistic.

Jelbert then says that in the words of the immortal Alan Bennett, “Three in one, one in three, perfectly straightforward. Any doubts about that see your maths master.” It took awhile to find who it was, but apparently Bennett is a playwright who wrote a play called Forty Years On. Well, that’s a great place to go to get your scholarship!

Jelbert says that Witherington’s essay shows that Jesus did not teach the Trinity. Of course, it would have been relevant if Witherington had argued any such thing. We might as well say Jesus didn’t teach the Pythagorean Theorem. I don’t think Jesus would have had much success teaching the Trinity to the local people in Israel and it would have only led to confusion. He planted the seeds instead in His own person.

John 10:30, I and the Father are one, merely defines a special relationship. Well, unless you ignore that Jesus said that no one can snatch believers out of the Father’s hand and out of His own hand just before this and you ignore that the people picked up stones saying Jesus claimed to be God. No doubt, Jelbert understands things better than the immediate listeners did.

Jelbert says that it’s unlikely Jesus said the Great Commission since Jesus’s followers didn’t go to Gentiles immediately. Yet why think this? Could they not have thought to go into all nations telling all the Jews in the diaspora about Jesus? Jelbert also draws a distinction between baptizing in Jesus’s name and the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but Jesus is not giving a baptismal formula here that must be followed. Peter says Jesus’s name in Acts 2 due to Jesus needing to be the new one to recognize as Lord.

Jelbert will also try to explain the rise of Christianity. He brings up Mormonism and scientology as counter-examples. Never mind that these were based in modern individualistic cultures with a more tolerant live and let live attitude. Never mind that these were cultures that more readily accepted new ideas. Never mind that these built on, especially in the case of Mormonism, previously successful ideas.

So what does Jelbert say made the religion successful? For one, it upheld church authority and gave them control, which would be absolutely worthless as a matter of appeal. All religious people had that authority in a culture that didn’t have separation of church and state. This would also only appeal to people who wanted to be in control and then, why be in control of such a small movement that would be opposed to Rome?

He also says it undermines self-worth making us question our own senses and reasoning abilities. No examples of this are given. Could it be Jelbert is revealing something more about his own psychology than Christianity itself?

It also promoted wishful thinking with ideas of eternal life and eventual justice. Unfortunately, this kind of thing is only appealing if you believe the promises can be delivered on. If you don’t, then it doesn’t appeal. It’s a nice story. Also, it’s worth noting that our emphasis on Heaven and such is absent in much of the New Testament, such as the Pauline epistles.

Finally, it exhorts its members to proselytize, which is surely a great draw! Go out and tell your neighbor who could report you to Rome about your new faith! One wonders why Jelbert thinks this way.

Jelbert then says it’s easy to imagine that a religion with these characteristics would be successful. Of course, it’s hard to imagine a religion with a crucified Messiah, a belief seen as new, radical exclusivity, and a bodily resurrection that would be seen as shameful being successful, but hey, details. Who needs them?

Thankfully, Jelbert doesn’t say that this speculation is accurate. It’s a good thing, but apparently it’s a good just-so story to justify atheism. Could it be Jelbert is engaging in his own wishful thinking?

Jelbert also says on a side note that the burden of proof is on the one making the claim. If the claim is unpersuasive, then atheism is justified. Well, that’s only if atheism is seen as the lack of belief which I do dispute, but what about the problem of who decides if something is unpersuasive? I find the arguments persuasive. Jelbert doesn’t. Why should his view be the rational one? Maybe he’s the irrational one and doesn’t know how to recognize a persuasive argument. Maybe I am. How could we know?

Next time we’ll look at a second essay by Witherington on Jesus as God.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Evidence Considered: Part 25

Is ID qualifying as a science? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s been awhile since we’ve looked at Jelbert’s book, but now it’s time to do so again. In this chapter, we’re looking at his response to Bruce Gordon. Gordon has contributed a chapter on the scientific status of inferences to design.

I am not a supporter of the ID movement, but at the same time, I wish to try to remain fair. Are some criticisms of it invalid? As we will go through this chapter, I will demonstrate that I think that while ID hasn’t made its case, neither has Jelbert with his criticism.

One big problem is Jelbert is talking about methodological naturalism, but this is never defined. What is meant by this? The term can be difficult to talk about. Also, we don’t want to confuse methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism. If we say that absolutely nothing miraculous can happen in history, then we are begging the question. This doesn’t mean that we just throw in a miracle every now and then when we can’t explain something. It does mean that we remain open.

Jelbert also says that some sciences do look for an agent, but these are not agencies in the abstract. I don’t think this follows. We can find in anthropological studies an artifact and know it was designed. Perhaps and most likely it was designed by humans, but maybe, though I am skeptical, it was designed by an extraterrestrial agent. This is a pure hypothetical, but either way, we could tell it was designed.

Furthermore, would Jelbert says it was suddenly valid if I said the agent I was looking for was the Trinity of Christianity? Doubtful. All ID is saying is to look for signs of design. Even if we don’t know who the designer is, we can know that there is design.

At the end, Jelbert says that Gordon has not shown anything and his argument about who designed the designer and such leads to some problems with ID I have. If you make science king, you will never answer the God question yea or nay. You have to go to metaphysics so why not just start with metaphysics?

If we ask about who designed the designer, it first assumes the designer is complex, whereas if you talk about the God of Christianity, universally it has been held that ontologically God is simple, in that He has no parts. If that is the case, then He needs no designer.

Second, if complex things need a designer, then we can say the universe is complex so it needs a designer. If Jelbert wants to then say complex things don’t need one, then we could say if God is complex, which He is not, then He doesn’t need a designer. Jelbert can’t have it both ways.

This is also why I find Jelbert’s closing arguments weak. When I follow a good Thomistic metaphysic, I get to an eternal being who doesn’t change and so asking if He died at one point doesn’t work. It also does get past the problem of the infinite regress. I would really recommend Jelbert read some of the writings of Edward Feser at this point.

So I don’t agree with ID, but I can’t say Jelbert has provided a killing blow to it either.

In Christ,
Nick Peters