What’s Wrong with the World

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The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

December 13, 2018

Evangelical college associations capitulate in return for exemptions

The boards of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the National Association of Evangelicals have endorsed federal laws explicitly enshrining sexual orientation and gender identity as specially protected classes, as long as such laws contain exemptions that they think will exempt their own explicitly Christian institutions.

Robert Gagnon's comments are apt:

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December 11, 2018

Phillip Zodhiates begins prison term

According to Lifesite, Phillip Zodhiates has begun serving a 36-month federal prison sentence for having helped Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella escape the country back in 2009. Presumably he will be eligible for parole some time sooner than that, as Kenneth Miller was, but one can't be sure. When I last updated on this story in March, 2017, Zodhiates had been released pending appeal. It would seem that his appeals have been unsuccessful. So, like Kenneth Miller before him, he will serve a prison sentence for helping a biological mother escape the country with her own child rather than turning the child over in full custody to the mother's former lesbian lover, no relation to the child.

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November 30, 2018

Transgender Blasphemy at the ETS

The Evangelical Theological Society meeting recently took place in Denver, CO. This is (as I'm sure most readers know) allegedly quite a conservative society. You have to affirm inerrancy to be a member, though I don't know for sure (you can tell me in the comments) whether you have to be a member to make a presentation.

One of the presenters was Andy Draycott, an associate professor at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. His institution trains a lot of apologists and has a lot of "blue sky" (and deservedly so) in the evangelical community. And a lot of good professors. Draycott (I say unequivocally after this dust-up) is not one of them, for multiple reasons.

Colin Smothers of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood posted on November 19, and Steve Hays at Triablogue posted the link on November 28, alerting people to the contents of Draycott's talk, which Smothers attended.

I have now received a transcript of Draycott's talk. I am assuming, but do not have time to check (I'm trying to devote as much time as possible to book writing), that it simply was transcribed from the audio, which is available to the public for download here. If a reader downloads the audio, feel free to tell me if there is some significant misunderstanding going on, but the contents of the complete transcript I have appear to be simply an attempt to transcribe what Draycott actually said, up to and including the places where he descends into incoherence. They are absolutely damning. I will include quotes below.

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November 26, 2018

President and Pope

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An innate interest in arguing over Lists appears present in most, and pronounced in many male members of our peculiar creature called man. Men will throw themselves into animated discourse over such matters as The Best NFL Quarterback (Elway), or The Greatest Basketball Player (LeBron), or Greatest English Prose Stylist (Wodehouse), laying out Top Threes and Top Fives and Top Tens with notable vigor and persistence. Frequently the females of the species can be observed on the fringes, bedecked with wry smiles or affecting harried cynicism.

Speaking for myself, I enjoy the mischief of the Top Three Presidents list: in particular, I like throwing Reagan in there with Lincoln and Washington, and then waiting, with amused anticipation, for the reactions.

The book under review here, an absorbing study composed by Prof. Paul Kengor of Grove City College, is part of the growing body of historical assessment which is making that mischief no longer effective as such. Because, it turns out, there surely is no mischief in adding to the list of the Greatest Presidents, our Republic’s greatest peacemaker. Lincoln and Washington both fought and won wars -- just wars, I think -- but still cruel and awful confrontations that left indelible scars, bitterness, and many other evils in their wake.

Reagan achieved victory without war; and having done so he prevented incalculable evils.

+++++

It is the burden of Prof. Kengor in this sizable but elegant volume, to demonstrate that few allies in this peaceful victory proved more valuable to Reagan than Pope Saint John Paul II.

Upon diving in, the reader of A Pope and a President will immediately find himself riding the splendid narrative currents of something extraordinary: A Catholic-Protestant alliance without historical parallel. Aspects of this tale have been related in many fine historical works over the past two decades; and we might say that the general lineaments of it are well known in a hazy kind of way.

Millennials who came of age after these men’s deaths -- at least those possessed of any sense -- do know that Reagan won the Cold War, that John Paul II was a great pope, and that both were lifelong and courageous anti-Communists. Most, likewise, understand dimly that all this implies considerable honor to both men, honor that is even granted, however grudgingly, by folks who admire them little in other matters.

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November 25, 2018

St. Augustine on Narrating dyschronologically vs. narrating achronologically

Repeatedly I remind those interested in the New Testament and in issues of historicity that there is a crucial distinction between an author's simply being non-specific about chronological order and his changing the chronology in his account so that it is contrary to fact.

Again and again (as I pointed out in this talk), literary device theorists fail to make this crucial distinction. They will say something vague like, "Ancient authors did not always narrate chronologically" or "Ancient readers did not always expect authors to narrate chronologically" and then use that to defend the conclusion that a Gospel author changed the chronology in a story, deliberately, to make it appear that events happened in a different order than they actually happened or took less time than they actually took. Narrating without indicating a specific chronology is what I call narrating achronologically--without a chronology. Changing chronology is what I call narrating dyschronologically.

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November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving: Not Weary in Well-Doing

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"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)

I don't know what it's like where my co-bloggers are located or where my readers are located, but here in lovely Michigan our normally lovely November went away early. Over the last few years I'd learned to count on golden-and-red-and-blue days of autumn and Indian summer in November. These help to compensate for the shock of the time change with the shift to very long, very dark evenings. But this year the leaves came down early and with them the cold, the snow, and the gloom came down early, too.

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November 15, 2018

Teaching from fiction and teaching from fact II

I've decided to add some further reflections on the topic of my last post.

It might be argued that a person of sufficient authority can teach something entirely new using fiction. If Jesus taught by way of a parable that the Gentiles are to be accepted into the people of God, while this would be a new teaching (hence, not recognized from our independent experience), we should accept it because of Jesus' teaching authority.

This is certainly true.

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November 3, 2018

Teaching from fiction and teaching from fact

I have argued, as have others, that the distinctive nature of Christianity (and for that matter Judaism) is that God teaches mankind through real, historical facts. God says to Moses that he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses knows that that refers to a God who has done certain things in the real world. Then, throughout Israel's history, God says that he is the Lord who has brought them up out of the land of Egypt. The nature of God is declared in what he really does in the world.

In God's revelation of himself in Jesus Christ, as well, God writes his message in the language of fact. Jesus is really born of a virgin in a particular place and time. His fulfillment of prophecy at multiple points occurs in reality, not in legend. And at last he really suffers under Pontius Pilate and really rises from the dead.

The God of the Judeo-Christian religion is a God who speaks in facts, who dips his pen in the material world and writes his message in providentially guided historical events, which would not have that same message if they did not really occur.

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October 30, 2018

Garcia Plays Dylan


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When Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead played a series of shows together in the late 80s, the whole thing barely rose to the level of fiasco. What a collection of knuckleheads. The results exemplify the endearing dilemma of the Dead: finding the sound was a process, never fully achieved.

That having been said, Garcia and company, over the years, regularly succeeded in performing Dylan tunes of notable artistry. Crusty old Bob himself probably acknowledges that some renditions of his songs by the Dead, or by the Jerry Garcia Band, are markedly better than Dylan’s own versions, live or recorded.

This affinity intrigues me. It should intrigue you. (Well, to be precise, I suppose it should if you like any Dylan or Dead tunes: a category, I venture, inclusive of all Americans.)

Think of it this way. Certain stylistic obstacles had to be surmounted before folks would embrace whole collections called, “Garcia Plays Dylan.”

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October 12, 2018

Let Ancient People Speak for Themselves: Round II

At the beginning of this year I put up a post called "Let Ancient People Speak for Themselves." Recently, in the course of doing research for the book I am currently writing (hence my slower blogging pace), I have been putting together a large number of additional ancient quotations on historical veracity.

The record is, in fact, quite impressive. When put up against claims that ancient people were interested not in boring facts but rather in "higher truth," such quotations are simply overwhelming.

Continue reading "Let Ancient People Speak for Themselves: Round II" »

October 5, 2018

Peter Hitchens and the Glory of Outrage

My thanks to the person who turned my attention to this glorious takedown of a pro-abortion opponent by Peter Hitchens on the Unbelievable show some time ago. Just watch it, and enjoy.

What is so great about this video is that Hitchens is unabashedly, unapologetically outraged about the evil of killing unborn children.

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September 28, 2018

Zippy Catholic: Requiescat in pace

It is with heavy hearts that we at What’s Wrong With the World write of the passing of our former blog colleague, Zippy. Zippy was a founding member of this blog and worked together with us for many years for the restoration of Christian culture in the West. He was recently killed in a tragic bicycle accident. We ask your prayers for his family. He leaves behind wife, children, siblings, parents, nieces, nephews, and many friends. We ourselves who knew him are still reeling from this news.

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September 13, 2018

Did the Gospel authors make composite discourses? It's complicated

About a month ago I mentioned briefly in a post that I'm open to the idea that the Sermon on the Mount might be, at least in part, a composite discourse, but that I lean slightly in the direction of thinking the material in it was all uttered on that occasion. No, this doesn't even mean I lean slightly in the direction of thinking it was "recorded verbatim." That straw man is getting very old and tattered. Jesus may have been speaking in Aramaic in any event, and moderate, normal, recognizable paraphrase is quite likely when writing down what someone said, either from notes, human or written sources, or one's own memory.

Speaking of that straw man, I posted recently on Facebook (public post) about the fact that Craig A. Evans was dragging out old Mr. Straw again in a recent interview. He even said this:

My critics, and there aren’t too many, but there are a few out there, they say, "If it’s not tape-recorded, word-for-word, what Jesus said, then John is being false. You’re saying John isn’t true. John is misrepresenting Jesus." And that’s the kind of, I don’t know if you want to call it fundamentalism, or rigidity, that’s the part that I find problematic.

My name came up a few minutes later, and I was the only "critic" discussed in the entire interview. I told Dr. Evans four times in my debate with him in April (see transcript here) that I was not asking him about nor advocating a "verbatim tape recording" version of Jesus' words in the Gospels. Nor are there any other "critics" that I know of who "say" such a thing. This was pure straw manning. But I guess it's a useful trope to portray anyone as a rigid fundamentalist who criticizes you in a way that might be deemed "from the right."

Anyway, I mention that to clarify that even when I said that I "am more inclined" toward the view that the Sermon on the Mount is not a composite discourse, that didn't mean that I was inclined toward the view that it has been recorded verbatim. Indeed, the nearest parallel for much of its material in Luke (the "Sermon on a Level Place" in Luke 6:17-49) does not have the material that it does include right next to each other as it appears in Matthew, and does not have all of the Beatitudes.

My overall approach, which one might say is the idea that the gospels are "reportage," also does not mean that a reliable, reporting author could not have combined material topically in a reported sermon, some of which Jesus in fact uttered at a different time. Dr. Evans also tried to imply in the debate that I must have a problem with this (a point he brought up out of the blue), even though I had already in that debate repeatedly said that I did not. I had to remind him of this.

What I would say is that, if an author consciously compiled, and if he was a reliable reporter, he was not consciously attempting to give the impression (even in the "story world" of his document) that Jesus uttered that material at that time. He would have had to expect readers to know to expect some degree of "composite-ness" or "gathered-ness" in sermons. What I shall call below a "knowingly composite" discourse is not necessarily a "fictionalized composite discourse," though every fictionalized composite discourse is, of course, knowingly composed. Moreover, if a reliable, reporting author gives some sort of recognizable setting for the discourse, there should have been some discourse given at that time containing some of the material related; otherwise the entire incident is ahistorical. Further constraints would depend upon other indicators or time stamps that might occur in the particular text. If there were questions recorded from the crowd, these should be historical. If a saying of Jesus is said to be in response to some particular incident that happened at that time, that should be historical, if the author is not fictionalizing.

Nor would a reliably reporting author have been inventing the material based merely upon general theological extrapolation from Jesus' other teaching--an idea sometimes misleadingly characterized as "paraphrase," which it emphatically is not. The author would have had to have good reason to believe that Jesus taught these very teachings in an historically recognizable fashion at some time.

So there are historical constraints created by the notion that the Gospels are historical reportage, but they are not the constraints envisaged by literary device theorists and placed upon their opponents. These nuances and distinctions are frequently elided, even aggressively pushed aside, by the "literary device" school of thought.

All that being said, the question does arise: Why, in a given case, should we think that a given discourse is a composite? What is the evidence? And if so, how much of a composite is it? The evidence shouldn't just be, "The vast majority of scholars believe that the discourses in Matthew's Gospel are composite." This should go without saying: Scholars are supposed to be using evidence, and they sometimes don't evaluate it correctly or with sufficient nuance. Other people can look at that evidence for themselves. Even the term "composite" admits of a whole range of possibilities, as I'll discuss below.

Continue reading "Did the Gospel authors make composite discourses? It's complicated" »

September 11, 2018

September 11th

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What happened on this day seventeen years ago may be stated simply: The Jihad delivered against America a most grievous and staggering blow. Conceived in blind bitter hatred, plotted in treachery and skulking malice, it remains a spiritually impotent blow. To achieve a great symbol of resistance to the power of the infidels, these heroic operatives made their emasculated war on the defenseless and unwitting. Honorable battle was not for them.

September 11 was not a blow delivered against the American fighting man. Against him the Jihad has generally withered or taken flight.

We demean the word by calling what happened on September 11th a battle. It was treachery against men and women the great majority of whom never had even a moment to contemplate self-defense. That some Americans — who we venerate today where their mortal remains lie, in the wide fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania — gave battle to these brigands, in the end conquered them by thwarting their conspiracy, shows indeed common American valor, but does not grant the murderers the honor of the title Soldier.

The crown of honor on that day was won above all by the police and firemen of New York City, whose losses were terrible; these men who more than self their country loved. O beautiful, for heroes proved in liberating strife!

The Towers fell; the Pentagon burned; Lower Manhattan became a crematorium. It was the Jihad in brutal summary. The guilt of its victims, according to ancient doctrine, was fixed by their unbelief. America stood as the citadel and champion of Infidelity. There could be no innocents here.

And so honor, innocence, charity, kindness, courage, nobility, valor — all must kneel at the feet of the obligation of the Jihad to make war on the powers of Infidelity. America is the greatest of those powers. Whatever our foreign policy, whatever the interventions of our military, whatever the skill of our diplomats, whatever the character of our statesmen - still we shall attract, at least for the time being, the boldest stratagems, the cleverest sedition, the cruelest bloodlust of the Jihad. Even now its agents and operatives are maneuvering against us. Even now they plot terror and mayhem and torture.

Our countrymen perished in the flames of this wicked system, this terrible institution of Jihad. Today we remember them, we honor them, we lift up those who mourn them in prayer; and we steel ourselves for the day when the Jihad will try again.

— THE EDITORS

September 8, 2018

Growing Deeper Roots

Those who follow me on Facebook have already been seeing advertisements for this conference repeatedly, but just in case I have some readers who would be interested who don't do Facebook...

In a little less than two weeks, September 21-22, there will be a conference right in gorgeous Kalamazoo, MI, called Growing Deeper Roots. Directed by my friend Mia Langford, taking place at The Lighthouse Church on 11th St., Growing Deeper Roots promises both apologetic fun and growth.

Featured plenary speakers include Tim McGrew, Frank Turek, Richard Howe, and yours truly. My plenary address will be called "A High-Resolution Jesus," and my breakout session will be called "Only One Jesus."

The conference begins on a Friday evening and goes through Saturday. Of course, if you can make it for only one of those, that's okay too. Registration includes a dessert reception Friday evening and breakfast, lunch, and snacks on Saturday. Come and bring your copy of Hidden in Plain View to get it signed. See the conference video trailer and all information here.

September 7, 2018

Truth

September 1, 2018

Answering the Messianic Secret argument against John

August 29, 2018

More on ur-source theories vs. undesigned coincidences

August 22, 2018

Minimal Facts and intermediate premises

August 20, 2018

The Myth of the Monologuing Jesus

 
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