What’s Wrong with the World

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

« September 2017 | Main

October 2017 Archives

October 3, 2017

Response to Dr. Licona

Readers who follow my personal blog will have learned that there has been quite a back-and-forth between me and Dr. Michael Licona after I reported that Dr. Licona appeared to be speaking up in defense of Dr. Craig A. Evans's comments. Evans agreed with notorious skeptical scholar Bart Ehrman that Jesus never uttered the statements given in John in which Jesus clearly claims to be God. Evans's further idea is that these incidents are "'he is' confessions of the Johannine community" expounding and elaborating on some other teaching by Jesus of the doctrine. Evans also agreed with Ehrman that the historical facts in the gospel of John are "just nuggets," a status Evans contrasted with his own view of the (presumably more historical) synoptics. Dr. Licona has since distanced himself somewhat from Evans's position, while continuing to boost and even expand upon arguments for it and while insisting quite emphatically that "by no means" would it mean that John is historically unreliable even if it were true.

I decided to go ahead and put a lot of material into my most recent response to Licona, now up here, including some specific responses to Licona's theories about specific passages in the New Testament. At first I was going to keep my reply as short as possible, but I gradually changed my mind as I realized that more people may read this reply than other posts I have written on the subject. I plan tonight, if possible, to go ahead and create a "Licona" tag both here at W4 and at Extra Thoughts, and that will make my posts on this debate easier to find. Meanwhile, if interested, settle in and enjoy the current post.

October 6, 2017

On some examples in Plutarch


In this post I'd like to discuss some examples from Michael Licona's book Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? concerning Plutarch. These examples are supposed to be part of a cumulative case for the widespread existence in ancient putatively historical literature of "compositional devices" that permitted the author invisibly to change various factual matters for literary reasons such as to increase smoothness of presentation or to make a point of some kind. Licona begins with Plutarch and then repeatedly argues that these devices were accepted in the culture of the day and that the identification of the gospels as in a meaningful sense the same genre as Plutarch's Lives permits us to infer that the gospel authors are using these same devices when there are differences among gospel accounts. This argument has many different levels to it, including the inference that the gospel authors would have been as inclined as Plutarch might have been to alter the truth, which is questionable in itself. But I question the inference at every point, and in this post I want to show how dubious the complex hypothesis about socially accepted fictionalizing literary devices is even in Plutarch. Other possibilities are repeatedly being left out, and wooden reading is far too common. I have included one example from Tacitus as well.

Continue reading "On some examples in Plutarch" »

October 15, 2017

Correctio Ad Infinitum

A couple weeks ago, 62 scholars released a letter titled “Correctio Filialis”, a filial correction of errors relating to Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia (AL). (The initial signatories were 62, it is now over 200). It was a bit of a bombshell in Catholic circles.

Let’s do a quick run-down that led to this:

IN 2014 and 2015, Pope Francis held the Synod on the Family, in 2 parts. He didn’t like the way the first half went, so he revised the approach for the second half a little. He was not satisfied with the approved text statements for Part 2, so he changed the rules on the texts that get published – he included the ones that did not get the required 2/3 vote, but did get a majority. I predicted that any document issued to cap the Synod would be filled with ambiguity. I was right:

In March 2016 Francis published the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, with its controversial Chapter 8. Much of its controversy has to do with its ambiguity. Although the Pope characterized the point of it as “not changing the rules” on receiving communion, he has approved of follow-up implementations that do, in fact, change the practice of priests and dioceses on how / whether those who are not married with the Church’s blessing (but living like they are married) can receive communion.

In April 2016, Bishop Athanasius Schneider commented on how its ambiguities were already sowing disunity, with some clerics saying that it “opened the doors” to divorced and “remarried” Catholics receiving communion, others denying it.

Continue reading "Correctio Ad Infinitum" »

October 17, 2017

He who pays the piper, next chapter

Back in 2013 I wrote a post called "He Who Pays the Piper," about the dangers of accepting public money in Christian schools and "virtual charter" home schooling.

It might have been around that time (my timeline here is fuzzy) that something new came to my local area: The homeschool/public school partnerships.

First I'll tell you what I thought these were. Then I'll tell you what they really were. I thought that these partnership classes were avowedly, openly public school classes, mostly (at least) taught on public school property, but simply taught at unusual times and "geared" toward home schoolers. I thought that perhaps they removed content that home schoolers would find objectionable and/or chose teachers who were sympathetic to home schooling. But it never occurred to me that they were anything other than openly secular, public school classes.

The coming of "the partnership" to my local area was viewed with suspicion and alarm by many of my home schooling friends. They viewed it as the camel's nose in the tent to get home schoolers to secularize their programs and give up control of their own children's education.

I thought of myself as the voice of moderation, despite my usual rampaging conservatism. Asked, "What do you think of the Partnership?" I would usually say this: "Well, they're public school classes, and the most important thing is that the parents make sure that they are still legally considered to be home schooling their children. This means that they need to be sure that these are enrichment courses rather than core classes. The kids need to be getting more than half of their core education work from their parents. Other than that, parents should just monitor the classes each year to make sure they consider them worthwhile, that the content is appropriate, and that the kids aren't making friends they have a problem with or being influenced by values they disapprove of. If they want to send their kids to take an art class or something at a public school part time, it's their business, but they should keep an eye on it."

Sounds reasonable, right?

Well, I was wrong.

Continue reading "He who pays the piper, next chapter" »