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

May 21, 2021

Social media censorship, social control, and penalizing success

As we think about things like Facebook censorship of particular views, done deliberately because of the content of those views, we should think in terms of the large social effects of such censorship. During the past ten years, social ostracism of people who utter certain views, and the idea that those views are just unacceptable and taboo, has increased greatly. An example would be the view that homosexual acts are both unnatural and seriously immoral. Some even of my friends who agree with that view may feel uncomfortable with my saying it. Some may openly think that I am somehow unkind for saying it or that it is the kind of thing one shouldn't say in public where others can hear you (in the broader sense of "hear"). Indeed, it is a paradox of social media that the platforms positively invite and encourage people to build up a following so as to communicate a message effectively to as wide an audience as possible, then selectively penalize those who do this with views that they oppose, especially those that I consider importantly true.

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May 16, 2021

The Small Vine: Life Over Death

Many-a year ago, I went on a sci-fi reading binge in my spare time. It was mostly a flop. Turns out I'm not really into reading sci-fi. One of the authors I tried unsuccessfully to enjoy was Fred Saberhagen. I read quite a number of short stories set in his Berserker universe. The Berserkers are demoniacally clever, life-destroying robots. They specialize in torture as a mode of forcing humans to do their will (they have no emotions) as they try to eradicate life from the galaxy. I'm a sensitive soul. This series wasn't for me. Plus, like so many sci-fi authors, Saberhagen just didn't seem to me to have the gift of making you see landscape or get really involved with characters. Everything was just plot sketches on board spaceships.

There was one short story, the title of which I don't remember. I'll just let some enterprising reader do the googling to try to find its title and perhaps correct my memory of its plot. But the plot, and the ending (spoilers coming) have always stuck with me for conceptual reasons, even though I can scarcely remember if the protagonist was male or female, let alone his name. I'm pretty sure it was a man. The Berserkers had taken over the spaceship. The main character was being left alive for a while because they had some nefarious use for him. The Berserkers would sometimes force humans to act as spies or lures for other humans. I remember that from other stories. So maybe that was it. Anyway, they were going to make some bad use of the spaceship as well. Meanwhile, they had to let the few humans they were keeping continue to grow food, so there was a garden on the ship.

The climax (and ending) of the story came when the protagonist realized that one of the melons or gourds in the garden had sent its vines (roots?) down into the side of the ship and pried apart a seam of some kind. This meant that he was going to die pretty soon. It would also destroy the ship. Normally a disaster. But now that the ship was taken over by the Berserkers, he perceived it as a triumph. The story ends with him ready to die happy when the ship is depressurized, realizing that now it can't be used by the Berserkers to destroy more life.

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May 10, 2021

La nouvelle radio

As readers are no doubt well aware, the last five or so years have seen an explosion in podcasting. Statistics on these matters (often self-reported), while lacking reliable precision, nonetheless supply valuable information as trends. So while less than a quarter of Americans in 2015 had listened to a podcast, today well over half have done so; approaching four in ten do so every month; and almost one quarter do so weekly.

An astonishing statistic, which this writer regards with particular skepticism, suggests that around 90% of listeners complete the entire episodes of the podcasts they listen to; given that many prominent ones exceed two hours in length, even adjusting for exaggeration by surveyed listeners, this suggests a remarkable follow-through rate.

Though some podcasters, like my friend Erick Erickson, structure theirs as an adjunct to a traditional radio show, most are standalone features, recorded, produced, and released for consumption some time later. So what we’re talking about here is the rise of what amounts to a new medium of communication. And the market for that medium consists of people who tend to be younger, wealthier, better-educated and more gainfully employed than Americans on average.

In fine, la nouvelle radio, while perhaps not killing the video star, is surely causing him some distress.

The chief merit of the podcast medium: multitasking. To listen to a sprawling conversation of three hours in length sure sounds daunting -- unless you’re a long-haul trucker or a man training for a half-marathon, alone with your higher mental processes while your lower ones are dominated by physically taxing activity. The demerits are real but minor: repetitiveness, reduced memory retention, the difficulty of moving around in the “text” for clarity, recollection, and cross-reference. A podcast cannot replace a book. On the other hand, I have yet to discover an effective method for reading a book while also washing dishes or mowing the lawn.

The fact that even the most fluid podcasters speak at a pace well below average reading pace seems like a wash compared to the emotional vitality of natural human conversation. The loss of rapidity in absorbing information is offset by the gain of dramatic power. After all, I can read the St. Crispin’s Day speech faster than Kenneth Branagh can deliver it.

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April 16, 2021

The racial Hatfields and McCoys

Here is something that I recently posted on Facebook apropos of the kind of weak-sauce semi-condemnations of racial rioting and looting. Such statements as I have in mind come with lengthy rationalizations and pleas for walking in the shoes of the rioters (would those be the looted Nikes or the shoes they were previously wearing, one wonders?) on the grounds that they feel so oppressed by [fill in here whatever recent event sparked the current round of looting].

I find all of this frankly shocking when it comes from people that I otherwise like or think well of. The acts in question are so obviously wicked, greedy, and evil, and the downplaying comments are so obviously irrelevant. Indeed, things are usually even worse than what is portrayed in my alternative scenario below, because in many cases the event in question could be seen by a reasonable man as an accident (as recently when an officer accidentally shot someone while believing that she was using a taser). But even if there were real bad acts involved (as sometimes there are), that would be utterly irrelevant to the legitimacy of looting and breaking the property of people totally unrelated to the event! It is a savagely stunted moral judgement that suggests otherwise, a moral judgement that gives us undying feuds in which, "He did that to some of my people, so we're going to hurt some of his people" is followed by the exact same statement on the other side.

Here is what I wrote.

Something to ponder: Suppose that we imagine politically non-favored group A. Suppose that members of group A have, indeed, suffered injustice because of their membership in group A. Suppose that that injustice has seriously harmed them or those whom they love--"their people." Suppose that members of group A go on a spree targeting admittedly completely innocent members of politically favored group B, destroying their property and their livelihoods, with the implicit threat of harming them if they get in the way. Suppose that members of group A make it clear that they are doing so because of their anger due to the perceived injustices and harms done to members of their own group, "their people."

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April 11, 2021

Building the wall [Updated]

You remember Pastor Coates in Canada? This guy.

Well, now this is happening. He was released from jail pending his trial. His church continued to meet. The RCMP has now built a big chainlink fence around GraceLife Church. Protesters gathered outside the fence today, though GraceLife itself says that its own members were not being encouraged to join those protestors.

I hope myself that Pastor Coates quietly gathered GraceLife's own congregation somewhere else just to hold a church service out in the prairie or on private property, but I haven't been able to get any information about that. Update: They did! Here is a video. It carefully just shows Pastor Coates and doesn't say where it was recorded. Bless 'em! I bet the police are carefully analyzing the video at this very moment to identify that gray brick wall and figure out where this dangerous, illegal activity is taking place. Click to watch the underground church in Canada meet and pray.

If you're a committed Christian and this barricading of GraceLife and fixation on the part of the Alberta Health Department doesn't bother you, it should.

April 4, 2021

Easter 2021


St. Ignatius of Antioch, a Christian pastor of the immediate post-apostolic generation, was martyred in Rome around the turn of the 2nd century. References in his own works point to death by wild animals for public entertainment. Reliable, if not definitive, historical evidence links him to both St. Peter and St. John the Apostle. Less reliable evidence puts him among those blessed urchins regarding whom Our Lord declared, “suffer the little children to come to me”; and presents him, much later in life, courageously defying Emperor Trajan in person prior to his imprisonment. His journey in chains from Syria to Italy supplied opportunity and inspiration for a series of epistles whose richness of doctrine and eloquence of language mark them as among the early treasures of post-Scriptural Christian literature. The following excerpt comes from his Letter to the Smyrnans, which is noteworthy for its emphatic defense of the bodily, physical, very much real, life, passion, death and resurrection of the Nazarene.

Alleluia, He is Risen!

* * * * *

I glorify God, even Jesus Christ, who has given you such wisdom. For I have observed that you are perfected in an immovable faith, as if you were nailed to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in the flesh and in the spirit, and are established in love through the blood of Christ, being fully persuaded with respect to our Lord, that He was truly of the seed of David according to the flesh, and the Son of God according to the will and power of God; that He was truly born of a virgin, was baptized by John, in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him; and was truly, under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch, nailed to the cross for us in His flesh. Of this fruit we are by His divinely-blessed passion, that He might set up a standard for all ages, through His resurrection, to all His holy and faithful followers, whether among Jews or Gentiles, in the one body of His Church.

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April 2, 2021

Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Sermon 68, Leo the Great

I. Christ's Godhead never forsook Him in His Passion

The last discourse, dearly-beloved, of which we desire now to give the promised portion, had reached that point in the argument where we were speaking of that cry which the crucified Lord uttered to the Father: we bade the simple and unthinking hearer not take the words "My God, etc.," in a sense as if, when Jesus was fixed upon the wood of the cross, the Omnipotence of the Father's Deity had gone away from Him; seeing that God's and Man's Nature were so completely joined in Him that the union could not be destroyed by punishment nor by death. For while each substance retained its own properties, God neither held aloof from the suffering of His body nor was made passible by the flesh, because the Godhead which was in the Sufferer did not actually suffer. And hence, in accordance with the Nature of the Word made Man, He Who was made in the midst of all is the same as He through Whom all things were made. He Who is arrested by the hands of wicked men is the same as He Who is bound by no limits. He Who is pierced with nails is the same as He Whom no wound can affect. Finally, He Who underwent death is the same as He Who never ceased to be eternal, so that both facts are established by indubitable signs, namely, the truth of the humiliation in Christ and the truth of the majesty; because Divine power joined itself to human frailty to this end, that God, while making what was ours His, might at the same time make what was His ours. The Son, therefore, was not separated from the Father, nor the Father from the Son; and the unchangeable Godhead and the inseparable Trinity did not admit of any division. For although the task of undergoing Incarnation belonged peculiarly to the Only-begotten Son of God, yet the Father was not separated from the Son any more than the flesh was separated from the Word.

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March 22, 2021

Philip Zodhiates' last letter from prison (hopefully)

Via the 419Fund e-mail list (the blog here seems to contain all of the ones I have), I just received this last (hopefully) letter from Philip Zodhiates in prison. He will be (sort of) let out on March 26 but must report to somewhere else, where they could order him to stay or let him go to "home detention" until June 24. I'm intrigued by what he said about the difference it seems to have made to the civil suit that Isabella has made a legal motion (via her lawyer) making it absolutely clear that she is no party to the civil lawsuit against her mother and those who helped them. Philip doesn't know if this is why depositions have been once more suspended in the civil case and conjectures this may be why. I wonder if the reason, rather, is that there will now be another criminal trial (Lisa's). Previously, the judge kept delaying the civil case while the various criminal trials were going forward. Here is Philip's letter, dated March 14:

Janet Stasulli at 419Fund.com wanted me to write an update specifically for those who have followed my case on her website and graciously prayed for Kathie, my family and me as well as contributed toward my legal expenses. My family and I would like to thank especially Janet Stasulli, whom I did not even know previously, for being such a blessing and coming alongside of us – – especially Kathie – – during these past 2 1/2 years.

And thank YOU, for your prayers, letters, cards, and financial support. Thank Michael Erkel for your weekly and now daily letters I can always count on, and those of you who have written monthly. Thank you lifesitenews.com, Lamplighter Publications, and Lighthouse Trails Publishing for the publicity you have provided, which has resulted in many encouraging letters.

Kathie, William, and Josiah have been so faithful and held together the home front filing taxes, enduring and beating an IRS audit, paying bills, keeping Response Unlimited going and dealing with tragedies (such as my mom‘s death), and emergencies without me by their side. Kathie especially, who has been amazingly enduring for one who hates to be alone.

It seems that next week in less than 7 days (March 26, to be exact), I’ll be walking out the front door where I self-surrendered at 2:00 PM on December 5, 2018. Kathie, William and Josiah will be picking me up and driving me to Lebanon Community Correctional Center in Lebanon, Virginia where I must check in by 2:00 PM. It will be up to those there whether I will stay, or whether I will go to home detention. Please pray!! My sentence ends completely on June 24, 2021, and then I will still be on “probation” for 1 year.

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March 5, 2021

The disjunctions of risk in an old-fashioned world

In a recent Facebook post set to public, Bret Laird, a pastor here in the Kalamazoo area, makes an excellent point: All the talk about the alleged Christian duty to curtail our meetings due to Covid ignores the very nature of risk in the world in which Christianity was born and spread--the whole world, in fact, up to the early 1900s at least. Pastor Laird uses the discovery of penicillin and antibiotics early in the 20th century as a starting point for his discussion.

I would like to jump off from Pastor Laird's comments and make similar comments of my own, without using his specific numbers. Just to be "generous", let's take this piece's estimate from September of about 1% infection fatality rate for Covid, noting that this is in an article that is trying to debunk an overly rosy view of the virus's harmfulness. As the piece notes, some estimates of IFR have been lower, but let's take the higher one. Of course, that rate varies greatly from one group to another. Well and good. The case fatality ratio (which involves only detected cases and hence will be higher, since it involves more symptomatic people) has been wildly differently estimated from one country to another. The WHO more or less throws up its hands and suggests trying to avoid one's biases, noting that estimates of this ratio have ranged from .1 to 25%!

Now, let's consider a world with no antibiotics and no vaccines. The world, in fact, in which Christianity came into existence. The world in which the Jewish people came into existence. The world in which God commanded multiple feasts per year (in the Old Testament) and many sacrifices, which had to be carried out in Jerusalem once Solomon built the Temple. The world in which Christians were commanded not to forsake the assembling of themselves together. The world in which 3,000 people were baptized into the new Christian faith on the day of Pentecost. The world of pilgrimages, evangelistic meetings, huge numbers receiving Communion together, the world of "greet one another with a holy kiss."

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March 4, 2021

Updates on Lisa Miller and Philip Zodhiates

Philip Zodhiates' release date is supposed to be March 26, 2021. It looks like the civil suit against him and all the others will get going full-bore in June. I wonder whether Lisa Miller's criminal case will delay this at all.

I get updates on some of these things because I get e-mails from the 419 Fund. I'm not exactly sure how one gets on their e-mail list, though I'm happy that I got on it somehow, but here is their contact form. Otherwise it can be hard to learn much. Sometimes additional entries that (I think) should be posted on Philip's prison blog are posted to the 419 Fund blog. This happened recently. Check out the February 12 entry, here. (There doesn't seem to be a way to link individual entries.)

On Lisa Miller, besides on the 419 Fund, one can find updates on this blog that I found called Ain't Complicated, here. After voluntarily turning herself in, she has been arraigned on charges of conspiracy and international parental kidnapping. She is currently in Buffalo, New York.

Her daughter, Isabella (now going on 19 years old), apparently remains in Nicaragua and has emphatically stated that she has no intention of testifying against Lisa or any of those who helped them. As an adult Isabella is hopefully safe from being forcibly (at least legally forcibly) brought to the United States. She has apparently successfully petitioned to have her name removed from the lawsuit against her mother by stating emphatically that anyone purporting to represent her in that suit is acting against her wishes.

Meanwhile, Janet Jenkins has issued the following utterly creepy and ridiculous statement via her lawyer:

The Jenkins family wants Isabella to know that they have always kept prayer lists going for her, and she has never been out of their thoughts. The family longs for Isabella’s safe return and want her to know that they still celebrate her birthday and that her childhood bedroom is ready and waiting for her.

What? I mean, come on! The couple separated when Isabella was eighteen months old. She was only back there to visit Jenkins for occasional times thereafter until she was about seven years old and has lived in Nicaragua ever since. She is now eighteen years old. Why in the world would anyone mention her "childhood bedroom" in such a message? Even if one believes that Jenkins is in the right in this whole vendetta, you'd have to know that Isabella has not the remotest interest in her "childhood bedroom" back in Vermont. Such a sympathizer (with Jenkins) would doubtless say that Isabella has been brainwashed. But even on that premise, there can be no possible point to sending her a message that her childhood bedroom is waiting for her! That is bound to disgust her and make her feel stalked. What is wrong with you people? Obviously this statement was issued for the sympathizers who are so blindly partisan that they will think it is touching. Good grief.

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The Eye of the Beholder is now out!

I've been working like a beaver recently on the release of The Eye of the Beholder: The Gospel of John as Historical Reportage. That is to say, I've been doing interviews and posting about it, trying to find out if it's available in Australia and the UK (it wasn't for a couple of days when I expected it to be), sharing content about it to social media, making videos, and so forth, while keeping life going otherwise.

I owe a lot to What's Wrong With the World for the space to publish a lot of related material in an earlier form. Here is the Gospel of John tag, if you want to read some of this for free in its beta version, as it were.

The Eye of the Beholder was released on March 1, 2021, just this past Monday. For those of you who get info. about this from this blog and/or aren't on Facebook, here are some relevant links, with apologies for making this post mostly a link dump. But believe me: There's tons of content at the links. First, how can you get the book itself? Here's the link at Amazon and here it is at Barnes & Noble. It makes no difference to my royalties or to my publisher's profits which site you buy it from. If you are in the UK, you can search Amazon, UK, for it, and the same (now) in both Australia and Canada. This is fitting, since I have endorsements from prominent scholars in all of those countries!

Of course, high-profile endorsers don't have to mean that I'm right, but at least they should mean that the book is worth a place at the table. I'm really humbly grateful to the Lord, and the endorsers, and my publisher, Nathan Ward, for the star-studded roster we got this time, including Stanley Porter, Thomas Schreiner, philosopher Bob Larmer, Paul N. Anderson, Alan Thompson, and more. Here are the endorsements in PDF. This should lay to rest various claims to the effect that my work is unworthy of attention due to my lack of such-and-such specific credentials. Nathan went out and asked for endorsements from Johannine and New Testament scholars whom I did not think of, or whom I would have expected to ignore the request due to their eminence or busyness, and he got them. (This reminds me of a collect about those things which for our unworthiness we dare not and for our blindness we cannot ask.) Some scholars also contacted me spontaneously after the publication of The Mirror or the Mask expressing interest in supporting my work. And in a couple of cases scholars' names were suggested to me by their former students: "You should contact professor so-and-so. I think he might be interested in your work."

One thing that we can't seem to get to work for love or money at Amazon is the "see inside" function. (At least not until it comes out in Kindle, perhaps in a year, at which point you will be able to see inside the Kindle version.) Perhaps one has to have a rich uncle who is good friends with Bezos to get See Inside The Book to work, but that's okay, because I anticipated that, and I have free samples, with publisher permission, available elsewhere. Here is Chapter I. Here is the Conclusion. Here is the Table of contents.

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February 21, 2021

We must obey God rather than men

I don't know who has or has not heard about this already, but Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is in jail for holding church meetings contrary to the current Covid regulations there. Here is just one MSM story about it. Here is a story about the shocking fact that the church met again this morning in defiance of the orders and in support of its jailed pastor. Good for them!

Pastor Coates will not be released pending trial because he isn't willing to agree to the extreme restrictions. More on just how extreme in a moment. Also, because he has been "caught" (by Mounties attending his suspicious church to check up on them several Sundays in a row), he himself wouldn't be allowed to go to the church at all until his trial, even if he were to grovel and submit, which he won't do. I'm going to link several Tweets here showing screen-capped statements by his wife, Erin Coates, about the nature of the restrictions and the conditions put upon him for release. Here, here, here, here, and here.

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February 15, 2021

Ignatius and the Star of Bethlehem (Guest post by John C. Evans)

(The post below has been provided by my on-line friend, Roman Catholic theology student John C. Evans of Book and Spade. It was first published there. The ideas in it are John's. I provided only some light editing. In fact, I have given John pushback on some of the theories therein, but I am happy to provide him with a wider forum to share his interesting thoughts on the subject. LM)

The letter to the Ephesians attributed to early second-century martyr Ignatius of Antioch conspicuously stands out from the six other epistles generally believed by mainstream scholars to be authentic. This is largely due to a famous or infamous passage toward the end of the letter, comprising chapters 18 and 19, in which Ignatius, on his way to execution in Rome, seemingly diverges from the flow of his discourse to expound the events surrounding the passion and nativity of Christ.

The minimalist scholar will inevitably hold to the conviction that these references constitute merely one layer in a series of “ecclesiastical traditions” of dubious origin, with little to no foundation in the person of the historical Jesus. Such a conviction, however, is founded on the presupposition that either the apostolic memory died before Ignatius gave his life in Rome toward the very dawn of the second century or that the successors to the Apostles had little concern for historicity as we would conceive of it. However, such a presupposition ignores two steady streams of evidence branching from a wealth of patristic sources.

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January 30, 2021

Philip Zodhiates is still in prison [Updated]

I have been wanting to say something about Philip Zodhiates for some time, because he is still in federal prison, a true prisoner of conscience, and because I now have more readers of my work who are probably completely unaware of the case. People are often shocked when I describe it.

Check out the tag, here, for more posts. But briefly, here is a summary:

More than eighteen years ago, Lisa Miller entered into a civil union with Janet Jenkins in Vermont. (Please remember this story next time someone advocates civil unions as not as "bad" from a conservative p.o.v. as gay "marriage." They're legally identical.)

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January 21, 2021

An irony of minimalism in defending the resurrection

For some time I've been writing and speaking about the problems with a certain minimalistic approach to arguing for Christianity that has become popular in evangelical circles in the last several decades. (See, e.g., here, here, and here.) Sometimes it goes by the name of the "minimal facts" approach. But not always. The apologetics giant William Lane Craig refers to the facts in question as "core facts" rather than "minimal facts" and includes the empty tomb among them, whereas the father of the minimal facts approach, Gary Habermas, does not include the empty tomb among his set of minimal facts. But as I have pointed out, the difference there is far more terminological than substantive, since in both cases the core fact or minimal fact that the disciples had appearance experiences is kept vague in order to be able to rope in a lot of scholars and say that they accept it. This causes a lot of epistemic trouble when one tries to argue for the physical resurrection of Jesus, since it's precisely the physical details that give us reason to think that Jesus was physically raised. It shouldn't need saying, but the reason Christians think he was physically raised is because we think he appeared physically to his disciples. (Obviously.) The mainstream scholar Wolfhart Pannenberg, who thought the resurrection accounts in the Gospels were heavily embellished, apparently thought that Jesus' body really disappeared and that in that sense he was "physically raised," but that he went immediately to heaven and that the appearances to the disciples were visions sent by God to the disciples and bore little resemblance to the appearances recounted in the Gospels. I'd say that at that point the meaning of "physically raised" has been changed almost beyond recognition and also that the epistemic support for believing in anything objective at all is gravely undermined.

This point was brought home to me recently by watching a series of video discussions between Michael Licona and Dale Allison. (Videos here, here, here, and here.) Allison is a little hard to characterize. He speaks of himself as a Christian (PCUSA), and Licona calls him a "fellow believer." He talks in the interviews about his prayer practices, which involve a yoga mat and icons. He's obviously a theist of some sort. That much I think can be said definitely. But Allison is and always has been profoundly ambivalent about the physical resurrection of Jesus and treats it very much as up in the air, and he obviously thinks it quite plausible that the resurrection narratives in the Gospels are highly embellished and that the details of those narratives, such as Jesus' eating with his disciples, were added for apologetic purposes. Licona is a strong advocate of the minimal approach and tries to do everything "through Paul," and in the interaction with Allison, it cuts no ice. Mind you, Allison is a naturally somewhat skeptical fellow. As he rather charmingly explains, there are four of him inwardly. They all get along with one another, though they disagree. What is interesting to notice is that none of these four "Dale Allisons" believes that robust, orthodox Christianity, including fully physical appearances, is historically justified by the objective evidence. So it is entirely plausible as a sociological and psychological matter that a discussion with someone who takes a more maximal approach to the resurrection would also cut no ice with Allison. But I consider Licona's attempts to counter him, most of them going "through Paul" (e.g., trying to treat Paul as our main or or even only eyewitness of the resurrection whose account has come down to us) to be objectively far weaker than the available arguments really are and hence consider it somewhat understandable that Allison bats them aside.

In reflecting on their interaction, I thought of an irony concerning the minimalist approach and the way that it bills itself, and I posted this on Facebook.

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January 7, 2021

Pain is the price of patriotism

January 5, 2021

COVID Vaccines and Moral Evaluation

December 29, 2020

Opposite indignations

December 23, 2020

The weary world rejoices

December 5, 2020

Youtube series on the Virgin Birth