Book Plunge: Obsessed With Blood Part 5

Does Baker have a case with the New Testament? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is easily the worst chapter of the book. There’s really not much about blood in here. It reads more as a compendium of bad arguments against the New Testament. What am I talking about? Well….

Josephus never mentions anything about Jesus of Nazareth, Paul or the Acts of the Apostles in any of his historical records. In reading the gospels and the book of Acts, the events that occurred would surely have been known by everyone, including the historian Josephus. The known world was still a very small place and events of this magnitude would have definitely been noticed. Christians and non-Christians alike, would have recorded them. Yet not surprisingly these things are only recorded in Christian writings.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 87). Kindle Edition.

The first part is just wrong. Most scholars agree that while the Testimonium has some interpolations in it, there is a part of it there that is accurate and part of what Josephus wrote. The second reference is not nearly as debated at all. Both of these refer to the historical Jesus.

For the second one, he gives us no reason why anyone would write about these events. He just assumes it. I often present skeptics today with many claims of miracles taking place all over the world today. How many are investigated? None. The ancient Roman world was also not interested in claims they would deem bizarre coming from communities that were full of the ignorant. Some things never change.

Not only that, very few people could write in the ancient world and if they could, there were many other things they were interested in. What about Josephus? Josephus was interested in things relevant to Jerusalem and Judaism. Why would he care about saying anything about miracles going on in a sect that was deemed heretical by Jews at the time? As I have said before, in the ancient world, Jesus was not worth talking about.

It is very important to understand that not one of the New Testament writers actually witnessed the events they wrote about. In other words, they were writing hearsay. Secondhand accounts as told by supposed witnesses of the events recorded in the Gospels and Acts. Certainly, this cannot be considered as reliable information. The followers of any leader, religious or otherwise, most definitely exaggerate the character of the people they follow.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 87-88). Kindle Edition.

Unfortunately, not a single citation about this is given and if this was even true and Baker went with this consistently, he would have to throw out the majority of ancient history. However, there is no interaction with works like Redating the New Testament. There is no interaction with conservative arguments for early dates or even people like James Crossley, an agnostic who argues Mark was even written in the 40’s.

Fortunately for the writers of the New Testament, several of the Old Testament prophets spoke of a messiah, a savior who would put to death the enemies of God. So all the followers of Jesus had to do was start spreading the word that He was the prophesied messiah, the Son of God! Even though this was a slap in the face to many Jews, those desperate for change and freedom after years of oppression from the Roman Republic would easily follow such a belief. The early Christian church was still predominantly a Jewish sect that had simply added the belief Jesus was the prophesied messiah. Followers of this teaching were called “Jewish Christians.”

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 89-90). Kindle Edition.

Again, no citation is given for any of this. Why would they believe they could get freedom and oppression from Jesus? He was crucified by Rome. That was a dealbreaker. The only reason they would is they believed Jesus had already conquered by rising from the dead. Baker does not understand the social culture of the ancient world at all.

In the book of Acts we see Saul, a Roman and supposed persecutor of Christians, have an encounter with the long dead Jesus while travelling to his home in Damascus. Saul was convinced by a blinding apparition of light and a heavenly voice to take the message of Christ to the Gentiles. After a rather dubious miracle that restored his eyesight, he changed his name and became the Apostle Paul, writer of more than half the New Testament.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 90). Kindle Edition.

I am curious what he means by a supposed persecutor. I don’t know any scholar in the field really who doubts this. It is also unclear what is meant by a dubious miracle. I can understand saying “I don’t think the account is historical”, but I think if someone loses their eyesight and suddenly upon prayer has it back, it’s not dubious to think a miracle has taken place.

Although places like Ephesus, Philippi, Corinth and Athens looked magnificent, they were also home to tens of thousands of poor, desperate people who were the perfect audience for the Christian message of eternal life by faith, and not by works.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 91). Kindle Edition.

Look. I am fully Protestant apologist and I do believe in justification by faith definitely, but that was not the main message that would be preached, but rather the Kingdom of God and the resurrection of Jesus. Also, Jews at the time would actually think that they were not saved by works either. They were saved by being part of the covenant people. They would have to ask if they would truly be part of the covenant people if they became Christians. I actually recommend Baker read Paul Was Not A Christianwhich I have reviewed here. It is written by a non-Christian Jewish New Testament scholar and clarifies a number of points, even though I have a number of criticisms per my blog.

In much the same way, we have seen the prolific increase in the past century of religions such as the Latter Day Saints and Christian scientists. They have a basis in Christianity, yet their teachings differ, sometimes greatly, from the original. But still having recognizable themes interwoven throughout their theology makes them more readily acceptable. The one true God, that both Jews and gentiles alike were familiar with, began to evolve into something totally different.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 94). Kindle Edition.

Both of these groups also arose in America which has very different ways of handling movements like these than the Roman Empire did. In the Roman Empire, not embracing the Roman gods in any way was treason. Jews being an ancient sect were granted leniency so long as they at least sacrificed for and prayed for the emperor. This has not been the case in America.

It is also true the Mormons had some persecution, but they also had soldiers known as Danites who were willing to fight for them. Not only that, they could easily pick up and move somewhere else. Eventually, they moved all the way out west to Utah. As for Christian Science, it was never really a movement that presented the problems that Mormons did so it was live and let live.

The ancient world was not like this.

Now, let’s talk about the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

I recently read a popular Christian rebuttal for this fact, and in the interest of fairness; I thought I would share it with you:

“This sort of objection [Paul not mentioning the virgin birth] demonstrates a lack of realization that there is NO relevance for the virgin birth in the places where it is lacking mention. Remember, the NT materials were written to people who ALREADY believed the Gospel. By the time they were reading this stuff, they had already accepted all of the basic tenets, and already had all the basic information.”

This would be a good defense except the Bible is supposed to be inspired for instruction and teaching – Surely God would want believers who were not around at the time of Paul’s writing, to also learn about this important point concerning His Son! If these believers already knew all the basic teachings, why did Paul say he could not write to them as spiritually mature but as mere infants in Christ?

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 97-98). Kindle Edition.

Baker might not realize it, but he isn’t even touching the argument. It is as if the audience of Paul can only believe what they read in a letter from him, which is Scripture, and get absolutely nothing from oral tradition. So, if the virgin birth is part of background knowledge, Paul would not have needed to mention it. Baker is assuming though that it wasn’t and then saying “Paul didn’t mention it so it couldn’t have been part of their knowledge.” He is essentially using circular reasoning.

Finally, why could Paul say they were not being spiritually mature? Simple. Maturity is not about having a lot of knowledge. Fans of a show like The Big Bang Theory can easily say Sheldon Cooper has a lot of knowledge. Does he have a lot of maturity? Not at first definitely. Fans of the series like myself see him growing throughout the series. Knowledge does not equal maturity.

During this translation from Hebrew to Greek it appears the translator made a mistake. Erroneously translating the Hebrew word almah into the Greek word parthenos which means virgin. Almah actually means, a young women or maid. There is even one case where the word almah is used to refer to an adulteress.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 99). Kindle Edition.

There is no citation here from Baker and I cannot find where the word Almah is used to refer to an adulteress. The only possible reference could be the way of a man with a maid in Proverbs 30 not being understood, but that does not mean an adulteress. Men do crazy things around women they’re just attracted to.

So we have no reason for thinking this is a mistranslation then.

The writer of Matthew, familiar only with the erroneous Greek translation jumped to the crazy conclusion that Jesus, being the prophesied messiah, had to be born of a virgin. His understanding of Greek Mythology, which had several gods born of virgins, may have added to this delusion.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 99). Kindle Edition.

Baker then assumes that Matthew made this up since this had to be the case for the Messiah, but no reason is given why he would do this. This would automatically be admitting Jesus was born out of wedlock. It would be a mark of shame to skeptics and would only be accepted by people who were believers, that is, those who already believed in the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

Finally, we have this:

If Jesus really was the messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, don’t you think that the Jewish people would have accepted him as such? The Jews had been living and studying the prophecies regarding their messiah for the previous 700 years or so – surely they would have been in the best position to verify this claim. They didn’t. They never have.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 103-104). Kindle Edition.

Well, no. I don’t. Jews sadly have a history of rejecting YHWH and His prophets. Why think when the greatest one of all who was YHWH Himself that things would be any different? Baker gives us no reason. He just assumes that they would be right about who the Messiah was.

By the way, this is also someone who claims to be a freethinker but apparently wants those people who had “bronze age beliefs” to determine what he should think.

Amusing in a sense.

We shall continue next time.

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










God Came Down

Merry Christmas.

What does Christmas mean?

Christmas is about the time that God entered into our world in the most personal sense, that of a human being. This wasn’t just a temporary appearance. This was beginning as a zygote and then naturally going through a gestation process and coming out of the birth canal of Mary and living life as a baby. This would be a baby who would need to have his diaper changed and be cradled and everything else.

At this point, I also want to clarify what I mean when I say that God came down. A lot of people who are anti-Trinitarians assume that if you say God, you mean a being who is unipersonal and if you say Jesus is God, you’re either saying Jesus is the Father or that Jesus is the Trinity. What is meant is that a person who fully possesses the nature of God became a man. It’s just a lot easier to say “Jesus is God” every time.

This is something unthinkable to Muslims. You mean God pooped? Yes. God fully took on the human experience. He had to eat and drink and sleep. He got His feet sore walking on the streets. He worked up a sweat and got callouses on His hands and had body odor.

To many, this seems unthinkable, and let’s face it. There’s a point to that. It is incredible to think of God doing something like this. Not only to do all of the above, but to end with dying on a cross in the greatest act of shame at the time. He was abandoned and rejected by those closest to Him.

It sounds odd to think of humility on the part of God, but that is what we have. We see it in the great hymn of Philippians 2. We see Jesus not clinging to glory, but taking on the form of a slave. We see God going to the greatest lengths to bring about salvation to man.

Revelation 12 actually depicts the incarnation taking place. We think of Christmas as a happy time, and it is, but the original wasn’t. In the original story, Herod goes and has children killed to make sure that he has no competition. It wasn’t a happy time.

Christmas is when the battle became personal. Christmas is when God entered into the world directly. In a war, the last thing the enemy would expect is for the ultimate head of the army to march out on the battlefield and engage the enemy himself. However, this is exactly what happens in the Christmas story.

It is always amusing to see the people who are so adamant about how evil it is to celebrate Christmas because of alleged pagan origins. Even if that argument was true, so what? No one today is doing this to celebrate a pagan deity, but to celebrate Jesus. If you can’t celebrate Messiah coming into the world, what can you celebrate? That’s what I celebrate today. I celebrate the virgin birth, which I do affirm. I celebrate the incarnation.

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


A Brief Defense of the Virgin Birth (Which I do affirm)

What can be said to defend the virgin birth? (Which I do affirm) Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There seems to be an inevitability that when atheists bring forth accounts meant to embarrass Christianity, one of them is the virgin birth. (Which I do affirm.) It is acted as if we now know better that it takes sex to make a baby, despite that if you read the whole Old Testament, it looks like they discovered the correlation pretty quickly. When I meet people like this who like to point out that “We know better”, I ask them when it was that we discovered that it takes sex to make babies.

Technically, we no longer even have to have it that way thanks to IVF procedures. As Catholic thinker Jennifer Roback Morse said once, we wanted to have sex without babies, and now we are having babies without sex, which she is sure is not as much fun as the traditional way. That’s just a fun aside.

So first off atheists out there, please learn that when you say something is nonsense, you are assuming that on your worldview it is. If atheism was true, then yes, miracles would be nonsense, but to start out with that assumption is begging the question. If you want to disprove miracles, you might actually have to, gasp, disprove miracles.

So let’s look at some specific data on the virgin birth, which I do affirm, accounts.

First, it needs to be addressed why this is not mentioned by Paul, which that question is the whole origin of my repeated emphasis on the virgin birth, which I do affirm. Paul would not need to mention this since he was not writing a biography of Jesus. In a high-context society, this would be background knowledge.

So now let’s look at the Gospels. I don’t think Mark would mention it because his account is the account of Peter which would include everything Peter was able to witness. Peter was not there at the virgin birth, which I do affirm. However, Mark 6 speaks of Jesus as the son of Mary and not Joseph, which could be a veiled reference.

As for John, there is a possibility that when John 1 speaks of someone being born not of natural descent, human decision, or a husband’s will, it could be referring to the virgin birth. (Which I do affirm.) John is more emphasizing the full deity of Christ. He wants to jump straight to the life of Jesus to demonstrate that.

But don’t the accounts of Matthew and Luke contradict? Even if we granted that, that’s hardly the best way to have a virgin birth (Which I do affirm) account. It would have been easier for the church to just reject one Gospel or go with the Diatessaron which was an attempt by Tatian to combine all the Gospels into one.

It also seems strange that both writers would go to what are thought to be extreme conditions to get the child born in Bethlehem when they could have just avoided that altogether. They did, putting themselves open for attack. Also, if both of them were practically identical, we would have heard collusion instead.

So what about something like Luke’s census? The reality is that there are numerous responses to this. Luke is highly accurate in many areas so it seems strange he would invent a whole census across the Roman Empire no one heard of for a story. There are numerous suggestions such as that the census was the one that took place before the time of Quirinius. It is possible that there was a census that took place in various shifts. I don’t have a firm hypothesis I go with, but that there is one shows this is not unsurmountable.

Didn’t pagans have virgin births? Not really. Usually, there’s something else going on that makes it clear that a god is getting his business on with a lady. One lady has a golden shower falling over here. Alexander the Great’s mother had a dream involving a thunderbolt hitting her womb and we can question if Philip was one who wanted to avoid pre-marital sex. As for Mithras, well, technically I suppose it was a virgin birth. That rock that he popped out of fully grown quite likely never had sex.

Not only this, but the early church was extremely resistant to paganism. In examining garbage in ancient Jerusalem, it is noticed that it is after 70 AD that we find pigs’ bones showing up. It’s also highly unlikely that Matthew in wanting to explain the birth of Jesus would want to risk implicating YHWH Himself in the affair. It would not do a favor to Jesus to give an account of His birth that could seem remotely pagan.

Keep in mind that they could have done what Mark and John did and just avoided it. If anything, by addressing it, they were implicitly acknowledging that Jesus was viewed as illegitimate, hardly a good trait for a Messiah. For some reason, they did face it.

Also, consider what is said in Luke 1. Jesus will be given the throne of His father David and will reign over His kingdom forever and it will have no end. Many skeptics date Luke to after 70 AD so let’s go with that for the sake of argument. Any Jewish reader at the time who wasn’t a Christian would say “That never happened! Jerusalem was destroyed! He wasn’t given a kingdom!”

Yet that is what Luke said, which is hardly something he would say if he thought it could be easily disproven. Now a Christian will understand how that was fulfilled and before 70 AD, it would be a lot easier to make that claim. So either it’s more likely that Luke was early or that Luke included material that could be seen as embarrassing.

All of this is something brief. I really recommend those wanting more go and read the classical defenses, especially J. Gresham Machen. It was a long time ago, but it’s still really good.

Merry Christmas everyone! Let’s celebrate the virgin birth, which I do affirm, of our Lord.

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


Book Plunge: Conceived by the Holy Spirit

What do I think of Rhyne Putman’s book on the virgin birth (Which I do affirm)? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Rhyne Putman is a good friend of mine and he was fine with sending me a review copy of his book on the virgin birth (Which I do affirm). If you want to read it, you will be waiting awhile as it comes out next year. Still, I wanted to write on it while it was fresh in my mind.

This book covers most every area of the Gospel narratives on the virgin birth (Which I do affirm) and not just defending the doctrine, which needs to be done, but even more important after that, showing what difference it makes. Is it just a nice add-on to the story but if we lose it, no big deal? Not at all, says Putman. We need to look at the difference it makes to know that Jesus was virgin born. (Which I do affirm.)

Also, if you’re reading this and you’re a layman thinking “Great. Another academic work that will go over my head” then you are also mistaken. This is written for you. This is easily approachable and Putman explains his terms well. Not only that, but it’s perfect Christmas reading seeing as there are 25 chapters in this. Gather the family around and read one chapter a day and you can go through December 1-25 celebrating the virgin birth. (Which I do affirm.)

The first section of the book deals with the birth of the virgin-born king (Which I do affirm) in the narratives. Each part is looked at in detail and also specifies which objections are being answered. Want to look at something on the Lucan census? Go straight there! Want to see if the incarnation goes against pre-existence? You can find it! Want to just look at one particular part of the narratives, say if you’re a minister preparing a sermon? Not a problem! Go to it!

Part two then goes beyond this looking at the practice of the doctrine. Putman will take you through the church fathers to see what they say. (Also, Protestants like myself really do need to read the church fathers. The Reformers pointed to them regularly and it’s a shame that many in our churches don’t even know who they were.) He then goes through church history seeing what so many people said about how the doctrine applies to them. There is definitely a heavy Christmas theme here as many of the chapter headings refer to Christmas carols. Again, you can also go through and see objections that need to be answered, even the one that says Mary should have aborted.

Finally, he does have an appendix for those who are interested, on the Marian dogmas, particularly perpetual virginity. Putman walks a fine line here as he wants to make sure he is charitable to scholars who are of a different persuasion than he is whom he has learned much from. I hope that those who read through such a section, like Roman Catholics and Orthodox, will walk away saying that their position was treated fairly and even though they don’t agree with Putman, that he made his case and respected theirs.

Putman’s book is a delightful tour through the Gospels and through church history. If you want to bless your Christmas celebrations, get this book. Go through it. If children are old enough to understand the terms about virginity and other such ideas, have them join in. If you want to establish a new Christmas tradition, then let it be this one.

And on a side note, Putman is also definitely right about one other thing. Die Hard is indeed a Christmas movie.

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


Book Plunge: Why Christians Are Wrong About Jesus — Virgin Birth

Are we right about the virgin birth? (Which I do affirm) Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sit back boys and girls. It’s time for some fun. We’re now going to look at the topic of the virgin birth. (Which I do affirm) At the start of this section, it’s not a shock that Campbell jumps straight to “The Hebrew word is Almah.” Yes. Everyone and their mother knows that. Does it necessarily mean virgin? No. Can it refer to a virgin? Yes. How did the translators of the LXX understand it? They understood it to be a virgin, hence they used the word Parthenos.

Of course, Campbell does not hold to traditional authorship, so the author of Matthew may have in using the Greek translation thought the original Hebrew had the same meaning and just says that it didn’t. Well, call me crazy if you will, but I think I’ll side with the Hebrew scholars of the time who translated the text into the Greek that Matthew used. They were under the impression that Isaiah was talking about a virgin.

Campbell also says it’s clear that Isaiah was referring to his own wife and child in the immediate context. It’s true he could have been referring to that, but that is far from clear. After all, there are a number of people who think the child spoken of is Hezekiah, and I’m pretty sure the king was not the son of Isaiah.

As for context, Campbell nowhere attempts to interact with the scholarship on the New Testament usages of the Old Testament. Do a search for Longenecker and you will come up empty-handed. There is no attempt to look at how a group such as the Dead Sea Scrolls interpreted the Old Testament to see if they used similar methodology.

It wouldn’t be a complete look at the virgin birth (Which I do affirm) without bringing up the pagan copycat theory. He says that a virgin birth (Which I do affirm in the case of Jesus) was a common feature of pagan gods at the time.  Miraculous births I can grant, and even then those are by their reading far and away from what we see in the New Testament. He also says this would raise Jesus in the eyes of the pagans Paul was reaching. Nothing about how that would be dropped down radically by a crucifixion.

Here is a list of those “virgin births”.

Alexander the Great, Romulus, Augustus, Zoroaster, Horus, Mithra, Perseus, Hercules, Apollo)

This is what Plutarch says of Alexander:

It is agreed on by all hands, that on the father’s side, Alexander descended from Hercules by Caranus, and from Aeacus by Neoptolemus on the mother’s side. His father Philip, being in Samothrace, when he was quite young, fell in love there with Olympias, in company with whom he was initiated in the religious ceremonies of the country, and her father and mother being both dead, soon after, with the consent of her brother, Arymbas, he married her. The night before the consummation of their marriage, she dreamed that a thunderbolt fell upon her body, which kindled a great fire, whose divided flames dispersed themselves all about, and then were extinguished. And Philip, some time after he was married, dreamt that he sealed up his wife’s body with a seal, whose impression, as be fancied, was the figure of a lion. Some of the diviners interpreted this as a warning to Philip to look narrowly to his wife; but Aristander of Telmessus, considering how unusual it was to seal up anything that was empty, assured him the meaning of his dream was that the queen was with child of a boy, who would one day prove as stout and courageous as a lion. Once, moreover, a serpent was found lying by Olympias as she slept, which more than anything else, it is said, abated Philip’s passion for her; and whether he feared her as an enchantress, or thought she had commerce with some god, and so looked on himself as excluded, he was ever after less fond of her conversation. Others say, that the women of this country having always been extremely addicted to the enthusiastic Orphic rites, and the wild worship of Bacchus (upon which account they were called Clodones, and Mimallones), imitated in many things the practices of the Edonian and Thracian women about Mount Haemus, from whom the word threskeuein seems to have been derived, as a special term for superfluous and over-curious forms of adoration; and that Olympias, zealously, affecting these fanatical and enthusiastic inspirations, to perform them with more barbaric dread, was wont in the dances proper to these ceremonies to have great tame serpents about her, which sometimes creeping out of the ivy in the mystic fans, sometimes winding themselves about the sacred spears, and the women’s chaplets, made a spectacle which men could not look upon without terror.

At best we have a miraculous birth. Nothing indicates a virgin here. Even if that is granted, this is hardly comparable to the accounts in the New Testament and is also written AFTER those accounts. (Keep in mind that if it’s contested that this was oral and was handed down reliably, it’s strange that a tradition like this can be handed down for about 500 years, but the New Testament can’t last one generation.)

For Romulus, we have the following from again, Plutarch:

Some again say that Roma, from whom this city was so called, was daughter of Italus and Leucaria; or, by another account, of Telaphus, Hercules’s son, and that she was married to Aeneas, or, according to others again, to Ascanius, Aeneas’s son. Some tell us that Romanus, the son of Ulysses and Circe, built it; some, Romus, the son of Emathion, Diomede having sent him from Troy; and others, Romus, king of the Latins, after driving out the Tyrrhenians, who had come from Thessaly into Lydia, and from thence into Italy. Those very authors, too, who, in accordance with the safest account, make Romulus give the name of the city, yet differ concerning his birth and family. For some say, he was son to Aeneas and Dexithea, daughter of Phorbas, and was, with his brother Remus, in their infancy, carried into Italy, and being on the river when the waters came down in a flood, all the vessels were cast away except only that where the young children were, which being gently landed on a level bank of the river, they were both unexpectedly saved, and from them the place was called Rome. Some say, Roma, daughter of the Trojan lady above mentioned, was married to Latinus, Telemachus’s son, and became mother to Romulus; others that Aemilia, daughter of Aeneas and Lavinia, had him by the god Mars; and others give you mere fables of his origin. For to Tarchetius, they say, king of Alba, who was a most wicked and cruel man, there appeared in his own house a strange vision, a male figure that rose out of a hearth, and stayed there for many days. There was an oracle of Tethys in Tuscany which Tarchetius consulted, and received an answer that a virgin should give herself to the apparition, and that a son should be born of her, highly renowned, eminent for valour, good fortune, and strength of body. Tarchetius told the prophecy to one of his own daughters, and commanded her to do this thing; which she avoiding as an indignity, sent her handmaid. Tarchetius, hearing this, in great anger imprisoned them both, purposing to put them to death, but being deterred from murder by the goddess Vesta in a dream, enjoined them for their punishment the working a web of cloth, in their chains as they were, which when they finished, they should be suffered to marry; but whatever they worked by day, Tarchetius commanded others to unravel in the night.

I have tried to find accounts of the miraculous birth of Augustus. So far, that is not being successful, and it is worth noting that Suetonius has nothing like that.

For Zoroaster, the best I can find is that he was said to have come out of the womb laughing and even that was on a wiki on miraculous births that says a citation is needed.

For Horus, there is much confusion and a number of myths. If, however, Horus is the son of Osiris and Isis, that is hardly a virgin birth.

Mithra was born out of a rock wearing a cap and carrying a knife. Well, to be fair, that rock was probably a virgin.

Perseus was born when Zeus had sex with his mother in the form of a shower of gold. Miraculous? Yes. Virgin? No.

Hercules’s mother was the wife of a king. (Willing to bet she wasn’t a virgin then) Zeus came to her once disguised as her husband and had sex with her. Again, not a virgin birth.

Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto. Notice again, two people there having sex. Not a virgin birth.

Of course, if you’re an internet atheist, you’ll eat up this stuff.

If you bother to look it up, it’s hardly convincing.

And I do affirm the virgin birth.

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





Book Plunge: Why Christians Are Wrong About Jesus

How shall we begin this one? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Rather than continue going through the 101 reasons book, we’ll go through this one seeing as it seems a bit meatier. As I started reading through, I was pleased to see the topic seemed to be taken seriously. It’s sad that I was relieved that nothing was said about Jesus existing at the start of the work. Too many atheists out there think that is some hot debate in the academic world. (Spoiler alert. It isn’t.)

The book is by a guy named John Campbell who I think says he is a lawyer, which got me thinking this could probably be a bit more rigorous. In some ways, it is. In others, I do find myself being disappointed again.

Today, we’re just going to look at the introduction. First, one noteworthy point is that he says Christians have their view of Jesus too colored by Paul. In some ways, there can be a sense in which we ignore the Gospels and go to the epistles where we think the doctrine is. However, the main point to establish is that Campbell says never met Jesus or heard His teachings.

To begin with, this is just an argument from silence. We don’t have any record of Paul encountering Jesus, to be sure, but that is a far cry from saying it never happened. Arguments from silence like this are just weak. Not only that, we have Paul’s work in Galatians that no one disputes that says that he met with the disciples for a prolonged period and as has been said, we can be sure that they weren’t talking about the weather. Paul would have known the teachings of Jesus.

Not only that, Clement of Rome was the disciple of Peter and Polycarp that of John. Both of them praised Paul. Hard to think they would praise someone who got the teachings of Jesus that their main mentors had taught them wrong.

Of course, there is a statement against miracles.

This is the primary reason historians reject miracle claims–miracles have no demonstrable analogy in the present. They don’t reflect the way we currently understand the world to work. They violate natural laws for which scientists have never demonstrated a violation. Because historians work in probabilities, the principle of analogy requires that miracle claims be assigned very low probabilities.

To begin with, this book came out this year. Keener’s work has been out for some time on miracles and yet, there is no interaction with either of his books on the topic. Second, one can say they don’t reflect the way we understand the world to work. I shall blow Campbell’s mind and say they don’t reflect the way ancient people knew the world to work either. They recognized miracles as exceptions for a reason.

Finally, it is question-begging to say we have never observed a violation of natural laws. If anyone does say they have seen a miracle, their testimony is discounted. Why? We know that’s not how the world works. How do we know that? Because it’s never been seen. One would think that Hume would be evoked so at least he wasn’t. It’s not a shock that Earman’s work on Hume was not referenced either.

We are also told Jesus did not write anything down. Indeed! Most great teachers didn’t as Sandy and Walton show in The Lost World of Scripture. Then we are told that the writings in the Gospels are anonymous, despite the church fathers practically agreeing universally on who wrote them. As to why they are anonymous, E.P. Sanders wrote that

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.

He also says the Gospels contain fiction since even Gary Habermas, Mike Licona, and Bill Craig all say the resurrection of the saints didn’t happen in Matthew 27. That doesn’t mean first that those people are interpreting it as if it was a fictional account made up. They all say there is a reason for it being there. However, even more concerning is that Gary Habermas has never said it’s a fiction at all. I even emailed him to ask him if he had ever said that and received a reply of no, he had never said the resurrection of the saints is a fiction.

He does say that after Jesus’s crucifixion, Jesus’s brother James took up the movement. There is no interaction with N.T. Wright pointing out that James was never said to be the Messiah, which would be an easy claim to make if one Messiah figure falls. Perhaps that is addressed later, but here, it is not. He does go further though and say that James established a movement called the Nazarites, or the Way, or the Ebionites. No evidence is given for any of this.

He says Mark presents Jesus as entirely human. No effort to interact with the scholarship that disagrees. After all, there are plenty of ways for Jesus to show His deity besides getting up on a mountain and saying “Hi, everyone! I’m Jesus, but you may also know me as God!”

He also says Jesus’s family being shocked at what He was doing doesn’t make sense in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke since they mention a virgin birth (Which I do affirm), but he gives no reason for this. Was the family to have perfect theology and know entirely the plan of the Messiah from the get-go? The oldest son anyway was to provide for the family and Jesus wasn’t doing that. He also wasn’t acting the way the Messiah was supposed to act.

He does say that we can be sure Jesus taught the Kingdom of God since it would be embarrassing to put it in since that Kingdom didn’t come. As an orthodox Preterist, I contend that that Kingdom did come. Jesus is king right now. We will see if this is dealt with any more when we get deeper into the book.

Again, this book is better than most, but considering the most, that might not be saying a lot. We shall see more as we go on through and see how it holds up in the end.

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

Response to Spiritual Deception in the Highest Part 2

Do we have more corrupted verses? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So as we continue our look at KJV-onlyism, we’re responding to this work. I plan to respond to more than one question today. First, let’s start with one that deals with the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

The answer, of course, is that God was Jesus’ father. Let’s look in a ‘modern’ version of the Bible, at Luke 2:33.

Starting in Luke 2:27 Simeon has gone into the temple to see the baby Jesus (who is with Joseph and Mary). Again, depending on the particular ‘modern’ version, in verse 33, it will say something similar to:

” … and his FATHER and mother were amazed at the things which were spoken of him” [i.e. of Jesus].

What do you mean “… and his father …” was amazed at the things which were spoken of him?! Jesus’ father was NOT Joseph! Jesus’ father was God!

Now, let’s look in the Authorized King James Bible. The KJV has the correct reading; in Luke 2:33 it says:

And JOSEPH and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him“.

For a ‘modern’ version ( NIV, NASV, RSV etc.) to say Joseph was Jesus’ father is blasphemy! Think about the doctrinal implications: If Jesus had only an earthly father and mother, then he is just any man. If he is just any man, then we are still in our sins. If we are still in our sins, then we are not saved! If we are not saved, then we have a big problem!

Here! Here! Indeed! How can we indicate in any way that Joseph is the father of Jesus?! Of course, God is His Father! Absolutely! To the flames then with any translation, or should I say transgression, that says that Joseph is the Father of Jesus!

Oh wait…..

Look at Luke 2:48.

And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

And that is in the KJV!

How dare they! Surely Mary who had the virgin birth, which I do affirm, would know who the father of Jesus is! How dare she not say Joseph! That would mean Jesus is just an ordinary man and we are still in our sins! We have a big problem!

How dare the KJV deny the virgin birth! (Which I do affirm)

Now let’s go to a common type of objection.

Turn to Matthew 18:11. You may have a hard time finding this verse. In many new, ‘modern’, versions this verse is missing! The verses are numbered 10 then 12, 13, 14! Or you may find verse 11 is in brackets, casting doubt as to whether it is scriptural.

Let’s see what the Authorized King James says:

For the Son of man is come TO SAVE THAT WHICH WAS LOST.”

This one verse, which summarizes Jesus’ entire mission to earth, is either ignored in ‘new’ versions; or it is put in brackets casting doubt on it! This verse contains a KEY piece of Christian doctrine.

People have to know they are lost, i.e. that they have a problem, to know they need a saviour.

This is a common problem with KJV-Onlyists. They look at the KJV as the perfect and then if there is any difference between the KJV and a modern translation, well the problem is the modern translation because they removed that verse. How do we know the verse was in the original? Because it’s in the KJV and that’s the perfect version!

Never mind that this passage is paralleled in Luke 19:10 which does have the Son of Man coming to seek and to save that which was lost. If this was a conspiracy of some sort, you would think that one would also be removed. So why would this not be in a manuscript?

Odds are that many a scribe could copy from memory, perhaps from hearing a verse read in the worship service, and when he copies Matthew, he automatically fills in that part. Another possibility is sometimes sidenotes would be written and this could be one and sometimes that would be included in later copies. How do we know what the original most likely said? Because we have enough copies that we can cross-reference them. If you want a good reference book on textual criticism, I recommend this one.

Thus far, two questions answered. Nothing convincing. Just shoddy research on the part of KJV-Onlyists.

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

The Influence of Christian Parents

How important is a Christian education to a child? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I recently read J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity in Conflict. This is being read for school and if I read something for school, I don’t really want to do a book plunge on it for the most part. Machen in his day was one of the most influential New Testament scholars and was revolutionary here in America.

Machen wrote about the virgin birth, which I do affirm, especially and so much that even a 100 years later, we’re still talking about what he wrote. He was a man of great learning and one of the great Princeton Theologians. He also went and studied abroad in Germany.

The book is largely an autobiography of his and he does touch lightly on the education he got in the secular schools growing up, but if there’s one aspect of his life that was influential on him remaining a strong Christian, it was his parents. His parents were devout Christians and also very learned Christians. His father was a lawyer who in his 80’s started learning Italian and reading Italian authors just for the fun of it. I don’t think as much was said about his mother, but her character shone through and through.

Both of them encouraged Machen to read and learn and both of them encouraged him to ask questions. They were not people who shied away from doubts and Machen did often times have doubts. However, as time goes by, he gets more and more help in getting a higher education, but one can see throughout his life, the great influence his parents had.

When he studied abroad in Germany, he was not in a conservative environment at all. He was in one where he was challenged every day and yet, he held on and argued his case well and read all he could of his opponents. What really helped him so much? The preparation he had at the feet of his parents.

Christian parents. This is for you. Please never lose sight of the influence that you can have on your children. For all you know, you could have another Machen growing up in your household.

That means that you do take them to church regularly, but don’t just do that. Educate them in your home. Make Christianity something you live seven days a week and not just on church days. Do not be afraid of your kids having questions and if you don’t know the answer, go and find it.

I am sure some atheist readers could say something about indoctrination, but the reality is I expect most parents will somehow raise their children up with their values. I suspect Muslim parents, Mormon parents, Jewish parents, and atheist parents all do this. You don’t really want to force your kids, but if what you believe about ultimate reality really matters to you, you will pass that on to your children.

If you’re wondering some on how to do that, I have a resource for you. I recommend you check my friend Elizabeth Urbanowics’s program Foundation WorldviewHer work is aimed to help extremely young children start to learn about the Bible and how to think and about what it means to be a Christian.

Raise your children well. Welcome their doubts and questions. Be there to support them. Our world is not a safe place and you will have more influence than anyone else.

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

Abstinence and the Virgin Birth (Which I do affirm)

Is there a problem with holding to abstinence and the virgin birth (Which I do affirm)? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This one has been going around Facebook a bit and as the main virgin birth guy (Which I do affirm), I figure I should be the one to address it. Looking at this, I do wonder what the main contention is. As is the problem with memes, it’s rarely clear.

So let’s consider if it’s a moral objection. Can you believe in the virgin birth, which I do affirm, and still believe in practicing abstinence? Yes. You recognize that this is a miracle that has taken place and that Mary herself did nothing wrong in this case.

By the way, along those lines, all Christians know that there are other forms of birth control. What we do know also is that when practiced, abstinence is the only one that is 100% effective. For most of the world today, it’s just incredible to think of a person going through life without having sex. The premise of a movie like the 40 Year-Old Virgin is meant to be obvious.

So let’s go the more likely route. It’s meant to poke fun at us for believing in something that is unscientific. After all, this involves a miracle and don’t we know that those never happen.

At this, I think even the most hardened skeptic would not want to try to take on the burden that there has never been a miracle in history and have to demonstrate this. How could you even begin to do that? What is more likely to be argued is that we do not have sufficient evidence to believe that a miracle has taken place in history.

Thus, we get to the first problem. There is really no way to establish that a miracle has never taken place in history so why should it be treated with incredulity that a miracle has taken place. I actually call this the argument from incredulity. The problem is it only works if you accept a worldview at the start that says miracles never happen.

Imagine if I made a similar argument.

Christians: We know Christianity is true.

Atheist: How?

Christian: Because Jesus rose from the dead.

Atheist: And how do we know that?

Christian: Because Christianity is true.

If you take at the start that a naturalistic philosophy is true and a miracle has never taken place, then obviously, a virgin birth, which I do affirm, has never taken place. However, that is the very claim under question. Has a miracle ever taken place?

If you affirm the existing of God and have reasons for believing in such, then you have a basis for believing that a miracle has taken place or at least could take place. If someone wants to mock that because atheism is true or some version of metaphysics that denies miracles, then they need to establish that. Whatever your worldview, it does not work to go to the other side and say “Your position is laughable because it disagrees with my position.”

In the end, I see no reason you cannot both affirm the virgin birth, which I do affirm, and consistently practice abstinence. Issues about birth control can be debated among ourselves. This is just more of the type of argument from incredulity that works on those with the mindset already of materialism, but not much of anyone else. It has strong rhetorical pull, but nothing logical behind it.

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

Virgin Birth (Which I do affirm) debate

How did the debate go? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Not a lot of reading today, but some viewing. Check out a debate I did with John Richards on the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

You can watch it here.

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