Friday, July 10, 2020

Posted Without (Much) Comment

Phil Johnson gives his thoughts about Congregational Worship, Social Distancing, Submission to Caesar, and Obedience to God.

Hmm.  If only someone had warned about the inevitable nearly four months ago.

Oh well. C'est la vie. Que sera sera. Etwas auf Deutsch, also sieht es so aus, als hätte Luther es gesagt.

The mirror or the mask

Lydia McGrew has a new series responding to Mike Licona. It's expected to be a seven part series. So far there are two parts. Here's the first one:

Her new book The Mirror or the Mask is available to purchase too.

Do the Gospels contradict themselves?

"Do the Gospels Contradict Themselves?" (Peter Williams)

Ioannidis on COVID-19

"A Conversation with John Ioannidis"

Thursday, July 09, 2020

The Importance Of Your Testimony As A Miracle Witness

In the comments section following my recent tribute to Maurice Grosse, I had a discussion with a commenter, Anthony, about a subject I want to expand upon here. It's significant, and it has implications beyond Enfield. He commented on how we haven't been hearing much lately from some of the Enfield witnesses. I discussed how common that sort of thing is (in life in general, not just in paranormal contexts), and I went into some of the reasons why it may happen in a given situation.

In the course of the discussion, I mentioned some examples of Enfield witnesses who have remained active in discussing the case and their involvement in it (Graham Morris and David Robertson). Another example who came to mind, though I didn't mention him there, is John Rainbow. You can go here to read a post I put up in January of 2019 about what Rainbow experienced and his importance as a witness. Something that's significant about him in this context is the situation surrounding his death. When Melvyn Willin was putting together his recent book on Enfield, he contacted some of the people involved in the original events to get their thoughts on the case a few decades later. Concerning Rainbow, he wrote:

Mrs Rainbow - the wife of John Rainbow a local tradesman who had witnessed Janet levitating - replied that unfortunately her husband had died in July 2018, but she confirmed that he had continued to believe that what he had seen was a genuine levitation. She added, "…he also had a witness who also saw what was happening [an apparent reference to Hazel Short]." (The Enfield Poltergeist Tapes [United States: White Crow Books, 2019], 117)

Notice how much had to be in place to produce that section of Willin's book. Rainbow would have to have an ongoing willingness to discuss the issues with other people. He did it to such an extent that his wife had the impression described above, that he held the belief in question until his death. And he'd made the relevant contact information available. His wife not only read the letter sent by Willin, but even responded to it and provided so much significant information and allowed her response to be published.

By contrast, think of how many people never tell anybody about such an experience they've had, only mention it once, don't provide any means of contacting them again later if the need arises, etc. How many witnesses' spouses would be willing to read a letter like Willin's, respond to it in such a valuable way, and allow the response to be published? Many people would be so apathetic, lazy, angry, or whatever that they wouldn't even do half that much. What Rainbow and his wife did is commendable, and I wish more people would do it.

If you've witnessed a miracle of some sort (or had some other significant experience), have you left any record of it for other people? Have you provided the relevant details to relatives, your church, or other people who could pass the information on to others over time? Have you made yourself available for further contact in case more information is needed? We should ask ourselves questions like these and apply the same scrutiny to ourselves that we apply to other miracle witnesses.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Not Just 1 Peter 3:15

People often underestimate the Biblical support for apologetics, largely because 1 Peter 3:15 gets cited so inordinately. There's often a false impression that there isn't much or anything to bring up beyond that passage.

See here for an overview of the importance of apologetics, including a discussion of other relevant Biblical passages and some extrabiblical factors involved. In addition to taking that sort of broad approach, we can cite entire Biblical books or chapters rather than just verses. Proverbs says a lot about the value of knowledge, discernment, wisdom, and other relevant intellectual categories, for example. Acts has a large amount of material relevant to apologetics. Think of chapters 17-19, for example. My article linked above discusses the significance of 17:31. On the significance of 18:27-28, see here. Regarding 19:8, which refutes the notion that we "can't argue people into the kingdom", see here. I've also written about the importance of 1 Peter 1:7. Another passage that's useful, among many more that could be cited, is Jeremiah 3:15. Leaders who "feed you on knowledge and understanding" are "after [God's] own heart". The passage is significant on more than one level. It so explicitly associates relational and emotional aspects of life (going after somebody's heart, shepherding, feeding) with intellectual categories. Because of the shepherding theme, it's a good passage to use in leadership contexts. It's also useful in that it's a 3:15 passage, which makes it easier to remember in light of 1 Peter 3:15.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Principles For Evaluating Prophecy

Here are some examples of what we should take into account (and see here for more):

- In the abstract, how likely is it that the prediction would be fulfilled by normal means?

- How many examples are there of the prophecy being fulfilled historically? Let's consider the Servant Songs of Isaiah, for example. We could begin with the abstract question mentioned above. Before we consider named historical candidates for fulfillment, how likely does it seem upfront that any entity would fulfill the predictions in question, such as those in the Servant Songs? We could then move on to the historical question of whether any entity has fulfilled the prophecy and how many have done so. For example, "Christians claimed that the facts of Jesus' life were proclaimed beforehand in the Jewish prophecies, but [according to Celsus] in fact the 'prophecies could be applied to thousands of others far more plausibly than to Jesus' ([Origen's Against Celsus] 2.28)." (Robert Wilken, The Christians As The Romans Saw Them [New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1984], 115) Celsus' claim is absurd, and he never backed it up. But there's an element of truth in the underlying reasoning, namely that we should apply this historical test I'm referring to. If a skeptic is going to claim that there's nothing significant in how Jesus' life lines up with a prophecy or series of prophecies, yet he can't name anybody else whose life lines up comparably or better, that's significant. Critics like Celsus should be asked to name names and provide the relevant documentation.