What’s Wrong with the World

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


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

January 15, 2018

Let Ancient People Speak for Themselves

As I've noted before, New Testament scholarship seems to give rise to sweeping statements about "ancient people" and how vastly differently they thought about the matter of truth than do "modern people." The implication is usually that "ancient people" thought nothing of an author's changing boring, literal facts, even in the case of authors of putatively historical works, because the ancients thought that "higher truth" was more important.

In an earlier post I quoted several explicit statements in the New Testament that have as their prima facie meaning that the apostles and the Gospel authors were very concerned about literal truthfulness. These include 1 John 1:1-3, Acts 4:19-20, 2 Peter 1:16, and John 21:24, and John 19:35.

Continue reading "Let Ancient People Speak for Themselves" »

January 8, 2018

Don't murder me


Dire Wolf. Original composition: mixed medium. Cella, 2017, [age 5].

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"Six Bad Habits of NT Scholars and How to Avoid Them" on Youtube

My webinar called "Six Bad Habits of New Testament Scholars and How to Avoid Them" is now available on Youtube. Have fun watching!

Interestingly, my host for the webinar, Jonathan McLatchie, has taken some flak for giving me this forum to dispute the ideas of some NT scholars. He posted this comment along with the Youtube link to Facebook and has given me permission to post that comment to my blogs.

Here is the recording of Saturday's Apologetics Academy webinar featuring analytic philosopher Dr. Lydia McGrew. Her subject was "Six Bad Habits of New Testament Scholars (and how to avoid them)". I regret that some people seem to be rather upset that I have sided with Lydia in regards to this topic over Michael Licona, Craig Evans, et al. I have even lost Facebook friends as a result. May I emphasize that this is scholarship and there is no ill-intent towards any of the people whose views I and Lydia depart from. If you put scholarly argumentation into the public realm, then you need to learn not to take it personally when others disagree and publicly voice their dissent. I invite you to watch the webinar for yourself and make up your own mind.

Kudos to Jonathan for taking this attitude. Indeed, the attitude deserves commendation even if someone doesn't agree with me about my conclusions. Surely it's at least worth airing the arguments, as the stakes are pretty high.

January 3, 2018

Ecce Homo: Only one Jesus

I've referred before to a 19th-century book on the Gospel of John by Stanley Leathes and, in particular, to a section of that book laying out similarities between Jesus as seen in John and Jesus as seen in the synoptics.

We need a catchy name for the argument that Jesus is the same man in all four of the Gospels, with the same personality, modus operandi, and even tricks of speech, and that he can be seen to be the same man very strikingly by attending to the texts. This was an argument known to those old 18th and 19th-century guys. J. J. Blunt discusses it. (Undesigned Coincidences, pp. 287-289.) William Paley has a section on it (Evidences of Christianity, Part II, Chapter IV "Identity of Christ's Character"). And as I say, Leathes shows it as well. And C.S. Lewis repeatedly talks about the Boswellian nature of the Gospels as memoirs of Jesus and the sense that one has met a very particular and vivid Person through these accounts.

I propose that this be called the Ecce Homo argument. Behold the man. When we look at Jesus in one Gospel and then in another, we see the same man, over and over again. "Critical scholarship," in its typical myopic fashion, obscures this fact by talking ad nauseum about the "Jesus of" Matthew, the "Jesus of" Luke, the "Jesus of" John, but in fact, an unprejudiced and attentive reader will come to see that there is really just one Jesus in the Gospels.

Continue reading "Ecce Homo: Only one Jesus" »

December 31, 2017

Webinar on What's Wrong With NT Scholarship

Readers of What's Wrong With the World will be interested, I presume, in a webinar on what's wrong with New Testament scholarship! And one is available for free on Epiphany, January 6, at 3 p.m. Eastern Time at this link. That will take you to a Zoom Room, where you can do a very easy sign-up and join the group to listen. The title is "Six Bad Habits of New Testament Scholars and How to Avoid Them."

Apologetics Academy webinars are often rather lengthy, with Q & A going for a while. My talk itself will probably go somewhat over an hour, followed by Q & A. I have a lot of material and am gearing the talk to those who are interested in apologetics and its intersection with evangelical New Testament scholarship. Those who have read my recent Licona series will recognize a lot of the material, but some of it may be new to you.

My thanks to Jonathan McLatchie for the opportunity to give this presentation.

December 24, 2017

Christmas: The day as an icon

Nativity%204.jpg As secularists and neo-Puritans alike delight in pointing out, there is no strong reason to believe that Jesus was born "in the cold midwinter." Those silly traditional Christians, celebrating a holy day that is nowhere commanded to be celebrated in the Bible, probably has been attached by mere human convention to the historically incorrect time of year, and wasn't even recognized by the early church until, what?, 200 to 300 years after the time of Christ.

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December 15, 2017

Licona wrap-up

This post will wrap up my current series on Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? by Michael Licona. There will doubtless be other posts in which I discuss Licona's work, and there are also posts from 2016 in which I discussed his on-line lectures. For those interested in these topics, both the New Testament tag and the Licona tag are relevant and contain posts from 2016 and 2017. The New Testament and Licona tags at my personal blog have some non-overlapping material, and sometimes stub posts from W4 refer to longer posts at Extra Thoughts (the personal blog) and vice versa.

I'll begin this wrap-up by discussing a portion of an e-interview from this past summer that Bible Gateway did with Dr. Licona.

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December 5, 2017

Undesigned coincidence: A sword shall pierce through thine own soul also

As we have discussed several times in threads here at W4, the infancy narratives in Luke and Matthew come in for a lot of unnecessary doubt from New Testament scholars. Michael Licona has even suggested that whatever is not overlapping in Luke and Matthew might be a "midrash" (aka made up), an embellishment on the far more minimal facts that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of a virgin named Mary espoused to Joseph. The many other facts reported in both Gospels may have been added, he suggests, to "create a more interesting narrative."

At the same time, the Gospel of John is also treated as some kind of a "problem child" for the historicity of the Gospels, because Jesus allegedly "sounds so different" in John and in the synoptic Gospels. But the difference between the presentation of Jesus in John and in the synoptic Gospels is overestimated by critical scholars.

Recently, Esteemed Husband was reading some passages to me from one of those neglected old books: Stanley Leathes, The Witness of St. John to Christ (1870). There are about twenty pages in this book (pp. 300ff) showing parallels between Jesus' manner, his methods, his ways of speaking, his personality, etc., in John and in the synoptic Gospels. It should be required reading for all seminarians, apologetics students, and others interested in New Testament studies. Some of the things Leathes mentions are also discussed in a useful blog post by NT scholar Rob Bowman, here, but Leathes has much more.

Continue reading "Undesigned coincidence: A sword shall pierce through thine own soul also" »

December 2, 2017

Will Ken Miller be home for Christmas?

I haven't posted an update here recently about Ken Miller. Here is the tag for my posts about this case.

Those who've followed it will recall that Pastor Ken Miller is the only one so far who has served a lengthy prison sentence in the U.S., though Timo Miller (no relation) languished in a Nicaraguan dungeon (literally) for over a month when the U.S. insisted on extraditing him and the Nicaraguans, for some unknown reason, cooperated. Thus far, Timo Miller has been sentenced to time served, and Philip Zodhiates was convicted but has his case on appeal. Pastor Ken Miller has been in federal prison for "kidnaping" for nearly two years. He is, I say in all seriousness, America's political prisoner.

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November 30, 2017

Laying Bare the Thought Behind the Defense

Most people paying attention to the Catholic world talking about the Pope’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL) have heard that a document was published recently billing itself as a “correction”: the Correctio Filialis (CF), on which I commented earlier. This was put out by a number of lay persons, mostly theology types, and some priests. The list of signers has grown, at last count it was at over 200.

I would not like to get into the thick of all the complex points made in the Correctio, I want to charge in a different direction. Francis clearly had a ghost-writer helping him with AL, (which is standard, all popes get assistance in writing their major docs), a priest he elevated, Archbishop Victor Fernandez. Fernandez has now issued a defense of AL, here,
that in my opinion has the clearest and most distinctly problematic statement of the thought behind AL – or, of the thought behind erroneous ways of interpreting it. By coming from Fernandez, who both holds Francis’s ear and helped write the document, it confirms that those who found the ambiguous passages of AL troubling were not just making it up: the passages were written in such a way because they can be used to support an underlying position that is wrong.

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November 28, 2017

Licona gospel examples V: Making things complicated

A common theme among the examples I've examined from Michael Licona's Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? is that New Testament scholars tend to go for more complicated theories over simpler theories. This problem is endemic to the discipline and seems almost impossible to eradicate. Licona is not the worst example of over-complicating theories that I have seen lately, but his examples are fairly typical. What makes the habit of overcomplicating so hard to root out is the fact that authors are often unaware that they are doing it. The few examples I discuss in this post, in addition to many in past posts, illustrate the tendency.

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November 17, 2017

Licona gospel examples IV: More over-reading

In this post I'll discuss more examples from Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? in which Licona's approach creates unnecessary tensions between the gospel accounts by over-reading. Here, as elsewhere, Licona opts for the interpretation of the text that creates an alleged contradiction and then (in all cases but one) "explains" it by fictionalization on the part of one or the other author. In the remaining case I will discuss, Licona explains the discrepancy created by over-reading by an interesting reference to use of contradictory sources which, in turn, is tacitly at odds with the traditional authorship of two of the gospels in question. Moreover, he adds fictionalization theories on top of the contradictory source theories.

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November 15, 2017

Death for the New Natural Lawyers

Our friend and erstwhile contributor, Professor Edward Feser, has with a colleague Joe Bessette written a most important book about the death penalty and about Catholic doctrine, By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment. The most important feature (from my point of view) is the extremely strong argument that the moral licitness of capital punishment enjoys the immemorial, perennial magisterial support of the Church, from the Apostles to Benedict, as well as explicit endorsement in the Bible.

As frequent readers here would expect, I have defended their theses with my own arguments in numerous online places, including in about 5 different posts in Ed’s blog. I won’t give a repeat of that support, you can look them up just fine.

Chris Tollefsen, a proponent of the New Natural Law (NNL), has often disagreed with Ed’s support of the moral licitness of DP. He did so again yesterday, at Public Discourse, which I aim to address here.

Tollefsen's thesis rests on this theoretical claim from the New Natural Law:

Here is the basic argument: (A) human life is a basic, and not merely an instrumental, good for human persons; (B) no instance of a basic good should ever be destroyed as an end or a means;

Tollefsen, and NNL generally, are wrong here. They are wrong in a very fundamental sense.

Human life is not “a basic good,” not in the sense that it is always wrong to destroy it.

Continue reading "Death for the New Natural Lawyers" »

November 12, 2017

American Affairs

A new quarterly called American Affairs earned some surprisingly good press when it first appeared. I would not have expected a magazine of scholarly Trumpism, unveiled a month after his nomination, to walk away with warm and whimsical write-ups in the The New York Times and the New Yorker; but then again a lot of things happen that I don’t expect.

The bad press came a bit later, when, driven by an entirely foreseeable trajectory of events, the journal’s Editor publicly repudiated his vote of a year ago for the aforementioned Trump. (But even then, the Times gave him prominent space for the mea culpa.)

However they voted, I’ll grant that the editors and writers of American Affairs have indeed produced some interesting and provocative copy.

[edited for some embarrassing typos]

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November 8, 2017

Fake points don't make points

We pause in our series of detailed discussions of Dr. Licona's examples for a broader theological reflection.

It is all-too-common in New Testament circles, and certainly not unique to Dr. Licona's work, to hold that a Gospel author changed some historical fact in order to make a theological point. If anything, Licona concentrates on literary motivations (such as making a story run smoothly, telling a story more briefly, and the like) more often than on theological motivations. But he does at times accept or hypothesize a theological motivation for an alleged change. Sometimes Licona borrows these theological hypotheses from other scholars.

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November 6, 2017

Licona gospel examples III: Over-reading

November 3, 2017

Licona gospel examples, Part II: Fictions Only Need Apply

October 31, 2017

Licona gospel examples, Part I: Utterly Unforced Errors

October 29, 2017

Did the Founders Build Better or Worse Than They Knew?

October 27, 2017

On Giving to God What is God’s

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