Showing posts from January, 2007

Did Lazarus of Bethany Write the Gospel of John?

At the SBL Conference last year, Ben Witherington gave a discussion arguing that the author of the Gospel of John was not John Zebedee (one of the Twelve), or even John the Elder, but was in fact, Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus. Witherington posits that Lazarus is the source of most of the Gospel of John, with John the Elder acting as the final compiler and editor, as suggested by John 21. Even those who were not convinced found the presentation memorable. Thankfully, Prof. Witherington has posted the presentation on his blog, here.

Witherington begins by discussing what he perceives to be the problems with the traditional ascription to John Zebedee. He concludes that the external evidence is rather late, that John Zebedee is not featured in the Gospel, and that the Judean provence and character of the Gospel of John suggests authorship by a Jerusalem-based rather than Galilean disciple.

The latter point is one made by Witherington in his book, John's Wisdom.…

Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound, That Set a People Free

While writing my recent post about Martin Luther King, I was considering doing a series on the Good Caused by Religion. Possible topics included Harriet Beecher Stowe or William Lloyd Garrison. But my most likely next blog in the series would have been about William Wilberforce, who may have done more than any other man to end slavery in the West. But it appears that Bristol Bay Productions may have saved me the trouble. They are releasing Amazing Grace on February 23, 2007, a film about Wilberforce and his abolotionist activities, which resulted first in the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807, and culminated in the freeing of all slaves in the British Empire one month after Wilberforce's death in 1833.

The title is from the song, Amazing Grace, which was written by John Newton. Newton was a slave trader for much of his life, but eventually left the trade, became a minister and an abolitionist. Newton's sermons were a source of inspiration to Wil…

The Spiritual Body of 1 Corinthians 15

One of our favorite Internet gadflies, Steven Carr, made a comment to a post by Layman a few months ago that I thought deserved a moment of attention. He wrote:

Paul said that the 'last Adam' became a 'life-giving spirit', implying that we too shall become spirits when we are resurrected.

Paul seems to be quite silent about the idea that Jesus did not become a spirit when he was resurrected, doesn't he? How much more silent can you be about the idea of Jesus not becoming a spirit can you get than saying that Jesus became a spirit?
I read this several times and still don't think it makes much sense as written. But regardless of his intended meaning, I think that the reference (which is to 1 Corinthians 15:45 which reads "So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL" The last Adam became a life-giving spirit") is actually pretty easy to understand by picking up the Bible and reading all of 1 Corinthians 15 in context.

First, I…

So Just What Do Classical Historians Make of the New Testament Documents?

Sometimes disputes about the historical nature of the New Testament documents seems to be a fight between theologians of differing perspectives or between skeptical and apologetic laypersons. While it is true that some of the theologians are also fine historians, you will occasionally see use made of quotes or comments by classicists as kind of trump cards. I myself have relied on conslusions and analysis by leading classical historians Michael Grant, A.N. Sherwin-White and Robin L. Fox.

This interest in what learned historians from a related speciality might make of the New Testament documents caused a recent article to catch my eye. Published in the Tyndale Bulletin, it "looks at some of the ways in which ancient historians ... use Acts and other parts of the New Testament as historical sources, in the same way that they use other ancient sources such as Herodotus, Thucydides, and Tacitus." "What Do Ancient Historians Make of the New Testament," by Alanna N…

Richard Carrier and The Supernatural


I think this is a very neglected topic, and the misunderstanding of which is respsonsible for a lot of problems faced by Christian apologists.

Richard Carrier (of Secular Web fame) has written a pretty good article on the supernatural. I say it's "pretty good" since he obviously put a lot into it, but it brings me back to one of my old soap boxes. Its not really about the supernatural. It's not Carrier's fault, I think the concept itself has been degraded. He takes science and law to task for imposing their own definitions upon the term "supernatural," terms which do not regard the metaphysical. Since "supernatural" is a metaphysical term we should have a metaphysical definition. He also argues that such definitions should take account of the way people use such terms. He presents a plethora of pop culture and science fiction icons, everything from Arthur C. Clark to Harry Potter, everything but Christian theology. He does not touch an…

When Was Jesus Born? -- Questions and Answers

In an earlier post, I blogged about Prof. Jack Kinneer, Adjunct Professor of New Testament Studies, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, concerning a short article that he had written answering some of the commonly held myths of Christmas. I noted my disappointment that Prof. Kinneer had not given more details in support of his propositions.

Well, I spoke too soon. It turns out that the article I cited previously was only a summary of some of the arguments he made as to why certain stories about Christmas are actually a myth. (Let me clarify, he is not saying that the Christmas stories as found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are myths. Rather, he is saying that there are certain myths that have grown up around those accounts that are myths. For example, one such myth is that the magi showed up in Bethlehem when Jesus was two or three years old. Another myth is that Jesus stayed in Egypt for a couple of years before returning to Israel.) He has actually written a much longer …

Is The Fetus Merely A Potential Life?

During this Pro-life week, I taught a class that emphasized the pro-life position. I present the position in favor of the embryo being seen as a living human being in this way. First, I note that the factual question "What is it?" is the first that must be answered. Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason and Scott Klusendorf of Prolife Training give the same illustration as a way of presenting the importance of this question:

Suppose that you are standing at your sink washing dishes when your five year old son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter comes behind you and asks "Can I kill this?" What is the first question you should ask? Of course, the first and most important question is "what is it?" If it's a cockroach, kill it! In fact, if you find anymore cockroaches, kill them, too. If it's a puppy he found in the street, then I doubt anyone would be in favor of allowing the child to kill it. What if "it" is the little boy who lives down the str…

Putting ID in Religion Classes -- Not Only Not Clever, It's Just Plain Wrong

From Britain boosts intelligent-design debate:

British teenagers may soon be debating creationism and intelligent design in religion classes that give equal time to the Darwinists and atheists who reject these views of the world's origins.

Newly published school guidelines reflect the growing influence of a bitter battle over evolution being waged on the other side of the Atlantic, by conservative American Christians who want to put God back into the secular state school system.

The guidelines, issued by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, place the issue firmly in religious education class, rather than the science classes where American intelligent-design proponents want it to be handled.

By placing creationist views with those of their critics in religion classes, the curriculum authority could head off the divisive debates that have pitted religion against science in the United States.

"This is a clever way of defusing the issue," Clifford Longley, a religious aff…

New Additions to CADRE site

I have recently added two new resources to the CADRE site. The first is a link to a new group known as the C.S. Lewis Society which has been linked under the Prominent Christian Spokespersons portion of the CADRE Public Square Page. The group describes itself as such:

The Society is an educational and cultural organization of people interested in events, publications, and other developments that advance deeper understanding of the life, works, and ideas of C. S. Lewis and others who are addressing the enduring philosophical, cultural, historical, literary, theological, social, and economic issues of mankind.
It has an excellent page of linked articles about the man and many of his thoughts.

The second link recently added is a page that has been added to our Hitler Christian? page. It is a detailed response to Jim Walker's "Hitler's Christianity" website which is one of the sites on the Internet that attempts (contrary to all reason) to connect Hitler with Christianity.

One-Way Skepticism -- The Skeptic's Society Shows That it Is Not

When you form a "Skeptic's Society" and publish a magazine called "Skeptic," you better be sure your skepticism has an equal opportunity viewing lens. Lead by Michael Shermer, the Skeptic's Society purports to engage "in scientific investigation and journalistic research to investigate claims made by scientists, historians, and controversial figures on a wide range of subjects." But apparently the investigation and research does not apply about claims that reinforce the Society's prejudices.

The Skeptic Society asserted, based on nothing more than a press release issued by a leftist anti-Bush activist group, that "Bush administration appointees will not allow rangers at Grand Canyon National Park to mention that the earth is more than a few thousand years old." The Skeptic Society admits that it did not call the liberal activist group to ask about its sources. It received no confirmation or supporting information. It did not ev…

The Good Caused by Religion--The Example of Reverend Martin L. King and the Civil Rights Movement

We often hear of all the evil done in the name of the religion, but rarely about all the good done in the name of religion. That was one reason I wrote articles describing how the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman empire resulted in the discouragement and criminalization of infanticide and the encouragement and institutionalization of charity.

A more recent example is the American Civil Rights Movement. Many if not the majority of its leadership were pastors and reverends. Most notable of these is the Rev. Martin Luther King (who the atheistic "Rational Responders" recently proclaimed to have been mentally ill). The fact that these leaders were also clergy was not a coincidence. Their Christian faith infused and motivated not only their vision but also the courage to work for that vision. There is no atheistic moral justification for demanding equal treatment. There is no atheistic moral justification for anything, such as charity, equality, liberty, or aga…

A Failed Criticism of William Lane Craig's Opposition to the Hallucination Hypothesis

In an e-mail exchange with a Christian, I was asked to give my opinion about a blog entry by an ex-apologist who goes by the name of Exapologist entitled William Lane Craig on the Origin of the Belief in Jesus' Resurrection. Exapologist claims to have found a flaw in William Lane Craig's argument counter to the idea that the resurrection appearances weren't hallucinations.

According to Exapologist, Craig's argument can be put into the following syllogism which, subject to a correction of the context of Dr. Craig's argument I make below, I will accept as accurate for purposes of this post:

1. If belief in Jesus' resurrection was due to something other than experiences as of Jesus risen from the dead, then the belief was derived from either Christian influences or Jewish influences.
2. If it was derived from Christian influences, then Christianity existed prior to itself.
3. Christianity didn't exist prior to itself.
4. Therefore, it wasn't derived from Chris…

Martin Luther King, Jr., Was Mentally Ill?

A foolish consistencey is the hobgoblin of little minds. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Atheism Sucks (a blog which I wish would change its name since I think it can distract from the content) has published an interesting piece on an e-mail exchange with Brian Sapient of the Rational Responders which seemed of interest to people on this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. According to the piece:

According to the atheist group Rational Response Squad, yes! Leader Brian Sapient says that Christians ought to be committed to mental hospitals and even suggested that his own mother be put in one. I asked him through e-mail correspodence if he would agree that Martin Luther King, Jr. suffered from mental disorder. Brian Sapient answered "Yes"!

* * *

Aside from that, RRS member, Chris Benard, admitted,

Remember, the paranoid schizophrenic thinks it's perfectly "logical" and "rational" to speak to themselves and have MPD. Christianity does a lot more harm than paranoid schizop…

A Sound Proof for God's Existence?

Reformed Apologist makes a very interesting point in one of his recent posts. He makes the claim that a sound proof for God's existence is actually very simple. Here is his proof.

Since the premises in the following argument are true and the form of the argument is valid, the conclusion is reliable and true.

P1. If God has revealed himself, then God exists
P2. God has revealed himself
C. Therefore, God exists

So Christian, please never say again that one cannot prove the existence of God.

The issue is not about proof. Proving God's existence is simple, as was just shown. The issue is over the justification of premises and what people will accept as authoritative. For instance, if one believes that his senses can justify premises, then one might choose to prove that there are crackers in the pantry in the following manner:

P1. If I see crackers in the pantry, then there are crackers in the pantry
P2. I see crackers in the pantry
C. Therefore, there are crackers in the pantry

The deducti…