Saturday, November 20, 2010

The road to Rome

Why do some Evangelicals convert (or revert) to Rome? Why are they deaf to the counterarguments?

In my observation, the most common reason is that converts are looking for something, and Rome offers them what they are looking for. (Or so it seems.)

They commence with a vague idea of what they want, then they shop around until they find it. And that’s why they are deaf to counterarguments. It doesn’t matter how solid the counterargument: if it’s not what they were looking for, it has no impact.

Converts to Rome flatter themselves into imagining that they have humbly submitted to God, but in reality they wind up in Rome because they find in Rome what they were searching for when they started out. Just like, if you have a hankering for ice cream, you will keep on driving until you “discover” a Baskin-Robbins. Your desire selects for your destination. The direction of the journey was a foregone conclusion. The quest ends right where it began. So the far-flung pilgrimage moves in a tight circle by stopping where it started. Their arrival is a grand anticlimax.

If you ask certain questions, then the type of question selects for the type of answer. Indeed, you only have ears for answers that answer your questions.

Of course, answers are only right answers to the right questions. Converts to Rome stop when they find the answers they sought. Unfortunately, they don’t stop to ask themselves if they were asking the right questions. They are easily satisfied with Rome’s answers because they are self-satisfied with their own questions. It’s not about finding the right answers; rather, it’s about finding answers that answer the questions of the questioner.

If your kitchen catches on fire, you can ask your wife when Lost comes on TV tonight, and she might give you the correct answer. Yet that’s not the most pertinent question to pose when your kitchen is on fire. A better question would be, “Where’s the fire extinguisher?”

Some Things Speak For Themselves

A special message for Nick:
Pope Benedict XVI says in a new book that the use of condoms can be justified in some cases, such as for male prostitutes seeking to prevent the spread of HIV.

Really, some things need no commentary.

Glorified tuna salad

According to papist Scott Windsor:

Where I may have used SOME secondary sources, it is in SUPPORT of primary source documentation.

And what passes for “primary source documentation” by Windsor’s yardstick? Here’s a revealing example:

I've supported the testimony of Early Church Fathers with modern scientific evidence. The Early Church testimony is that St. Peter was crucified in Rome, upside down - and the bones found, according to the scientific evidence I provided earlier, supports the testimony of those Fathers. Mr. Hays statement of this being mere legend is summarily dismissed.

Okay, let’s looks at the primary source documentation for that claim. To my knowledge, our earliest primary source of information for the tale of Peter’s upside down crucifixion comes from the apocryphal Acts of Peter. Here’s a sample:

And the brethren repented and entreated Peter to fight against Simon: (who said that he was the power of God, and lodged in the house of Marcellus a senator, whom he had convinced by his charms).

And without delay Peter went quickly out of the synagogue (assembly) and went unto the house of Marcellus, where Simon lodged: and much people followed him..And Peter seeing a great dog bound with a strong chain, went to him and loosed him, and when he was loosed the dog received a man's voice and said unto Peter: What dost thou bid me to do, thou servant of the unspeakable and living God? Peter said unto him: Go in and say unto Simon in the midst of his company: Peter saith unto thee, Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And immediately the dog ran and entered in, and rushed into the midst of them that were with Simon, and lifted up his forefeet and in a loud voice said: Thou Simon, Peter the servant of Christ who standeth at the door saith unto thee: Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou most wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And when Simon heard it, and beheld the incredible sight, he lost the words wherewith he was deceiving them that stood by, and all of them were amazed.

But Simon within the house said thus to the dog: Tell Peter that I am not within. Whom the dog answered in the presence of Marcellus: Thou exceeding wicked and shameless one, enemy of all that live and believe on Christ Jesus, here is a dumb animal sent unto thee which hath received a human voice to confound thee and show thee to be a deceiver and a liar. Hast thou taken thought so long, to say at last: 'Tell him that I am not within?' Art thou not ashamed to utter thy feeble and useless words against Peter the minister and apostle of Christ, as if thou couldst hide thee from him that hath commanded me to speak against thee to thy face: and that not for thy sake but for theirs whom thou wast deceiving and sending unto destruction? Cursed therefore shalt thou be, thou enemy and corrupter of the way of the truth of Christ, who shall prove by fire that dieth not and in outer darkness, thine iniquities that thou hast committed. And having thus said, the dog went forth and the people followed him, leaving Simon alone. And the dog came unto Peter as he sat with the multitude that was come to see Peter's face, and the dog related what he had done unto Simon. And thus spake the dog unto the angel and apostle of the true God: Peter, thou wilt have a great contest with the enemy of Christ and his servants, and many that have been deceived by him shalt thou turn unto the faith; wherefore thou shalt receive from God the reward of thy work. And when the dog had said this he fell down at the apostle Peter's feet and gave up the ghost.

And Peter turned and saw a herring (sardine) hung in a window, and took it and said to the people: If ye now see this swimming in the water like a fish, will ye be able to believe in him whom I preach? And they said with one voice: Verily we will believe thee. Then he said -now there was a bath for swimming at hand: In thy name, O Jesu Christ, forasmuch as hitherto it is not believed in, in the sight of all these live and swim like a fish. And he cast the herring into the bath, and it lived and began to swim. And all the people saw the fish swimming, and it did not so at that hour only, lest it should be said that it was a delusion (phantasm), but he made it to swim for a long time, so that they brought much people from all quarters and showed them the herring that was made a living fish, so that certain of the people even cast bread to it; and they saw that it was whole.

And when it was told Peter that Simon had said this, Peter sent unto him a woman which had a sucking child, saying to her: Go down quickly, and thou wilt find one that seeketh me. For thee there is no need that thou answer him at all, but keep silence and hear what the child whom thou holdest shall say unto him. The woman therefore went down. Now the child whom she suckled was seven months old; and it received a man's voice and said unto Simon: O thou abhorred of God and men, and destruction of truth, and evil seed of all corruption, O fruit by nature unprofitable! but only for a short and little season shalt thou be seen, and thereafter eternal punishment is laid up for thee. Thou son of a shameless father, that never puttest forth thy roots for good but for poison, faithless generation void of all hope! thou wast not confounded when a dog reproved thee; I a child am compelled of God to speak, and not even now art thou ashamed.

And already on the morrow a great multitude assembled at the Sacred Way to see him flying. And Peter came unto the place, having seen a vision (or, to see the sight), that he might convict him in this also; for when Simon entered into Rome, he amazed the multitudes by flying: but Peter that convicted him was then not yet living at Rome: which city he thus deceived by illusion, so that some were carried away by him (amazed at him).

And as he went forth of the city, he saw the Lord entering into Rome. And when he saw him, he said: Lord, whither goest thou thus (or here)? And the Lord said unto him: I go into Rome to be crucified. And Peter said unto him: Lord, art thou (being) crucified again? He said unto him: Yea, Peter, I am (being) crucified again. And Peter came to himself: and having beheld the Lord ascending up into heaven, he returned to Rome, rejoicing, and glorifying the Lord, for that he said: I am being crucified: the which was about to befall Peter.

I beseech you the executioners, crucify me thus, with the head downward and not otherwise: and the reason wherefore, I will tell unto them that hear. And when they had hanged him up after the manner he desired, he began again to say: Ye men unto whom it belongeth to hear, hearken to that which I shall declare unto you at this especial time as I hang here. Learn ye the mystery of all nature, and the beginning of all things, what it was. For the first man, whose race I bear in mine appearance (or, of the race of whom I bear the likeness), fell (was borne) head downwards, and showed forth a manner of birth such as was not heretofore: for it was dead, having no motion. He, then, being pulled down -who also cast his first state down upon the earth- established this whole disposition of all things, being hanged up an image of the creation (Gk. vocation) wherein he made the things of the right hand into left hand and the left hand into right hand, and changed about all the marks of their nature, so that he thought those things that were not fair to be fair, and those that were in truth evil, to be good. Concerning which the Lord saith in a mystery: Unless ye make the things of the right hand as those of the left, and those of the left as those of the right, and those that are above as those below, and those that are behind as those that are before, ye shall not have knowedge of the kingdom. This thought, therefore, have I declared unto you; and the figure wherein ye now see me hanging is the representation of that man that first came unto birth.

And Marcellus not asking leave of any, for it was not possible, when he saw that Peter had given up the ghost, took him down from the cross with his own hands and washed him in milk and wine: and cut fine seven minae of mastic, and of myrrh and aloes and indian leaf other fifty, and perfumed (embalmed) his body and filled a coffin of marble of great price with Attic honey and laid it in his own tomb.

This is the rock solid foundation on which Catholics like Windsor build their faith.

The Majority View Of 1 Corinthians 15:50

"A significant minority of today's commentators interpret 'flesh and blood' [in 1 Corinthians 15:50] as a synonym for 'physical.' However, most agree it is a figure of speech - and probably a Semitism - referring to humans as mortal beings...It resembles North American idioms that refer to a person as being cold-blooded, hot-blooded, or red-blooded. When referring to a 'red-blooded male,' North Americans are not contrasting him with one who is green-blooded. The color and temperature of one's blood are not relevant. The expression 'flesh and blood' appears fives times in the New Testament (three of which are in the Pauline corpus), appears twice in the LXX and is common in the rabbinic literature, all carrying the primary sense of mortality rather than physicality." (Michael Licona, The Resurrection Of Jesus [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2010], pp. 417-418)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pope La Bête

Scott Windsor:

I am referring to the Bishop of Rome, as I clearly stated. Who is this "Pope La Bête?" When was this alleged "inaugural pontiff?" How about answering a straight question with a straight answer?

Happy to oblige:

La Bible de Jérusalem

Apocalypse, chapitre 13

Ap 13:1- Alors je vis surgir de la mer une Bête ayant sept têtes et dix cornes, sur ses cornes dix diadèmes, et sur ses têtes des titres blasphématoires.
Ap 13:2- La Bête que je vis ressemblait à une panthère, avec les pattes comme celles d'un ours et la gueule comme une gueule de lion ; et le Dragon lui transmit sa puissance et son trône et un pouvoir immense.
Ap 13:3- L'une de ses têtes paraissait blessée à mort, mais sa plaie mortelle fut guérie ; alors émerveillée, la terre entière suivit la Bête.
Ap 13:4- On se prosterna devant le Dragon, parce qu'il avait remis le pouvoir à la Bête ; et l'on se prosterna devant la Bête en disant : " Qui égale la Bête, et qui peut lutter contre elle ? "
Ap 13:5- On lui donna de proférer des paroles d'orgueil et de blasphème ; on lui donna pouvoir d'agir durant quarante-deux mois ;
Ap 13:6- alors elle se mit à proférer des blasphèmes contre Dieu, à blasphémer son nom et sa demeure, ceux qui demeurent au ciel.
Ap 13:7- On lui donna de mener campagne contre les saints et de les vaincre ; on lui donna pouvoir sur toute race, peuple, langue ou nation.
Ap 13:8- Et ils l'adoreront, tous les habitants de la terre dont le nom ne se trouve pas écrit, dès l'origine du monde, dans le livre de vie de l'Agneau égorgé.
Ap 13:9- Celui qui a des oreilles, qu'il entende !
Ap 13:10- Les chaînes pour qui doit être enchaîné ; la mort par le glaive pour qui doit périr par le glaive ! Voilà qui fonde l'endurance et la confiance des saints.
Ap 13:11- Je vis ensuite surgir de la terre une autre Bête ; elle avait deux cornes comme un agneau, mais parlait comme un dragon.
Ap 13:12- Au service de la première Bête, elle en établit partout le pouvoir, amenant la terre et ses habitants à adorer cette première Bête dont la plaie mortelle fut guérie.
Ap 13:13- Elle accomplit des prodiges étonnants : jusqu'à faire descendre, aux yeux de tous, le feu du ciel sur la terre ;
Ap 13:14- et, par les prodiges qu'il lui a été donné d'accomplir au service de la Bête, elle fourvoie les habitants de la terre, leur disant de dresser une image en l'honneur de cette Bête qui, frappée du glaive, a repris vie.
Ap 13:15- On lui donna même d'animer l'image de la Bête pour la faire parler, et de faire en sorte que fussent mis à mort tous ceux qui n'adoreraient pas l'image de la Bête.
Ap 13:16- Par ses manœuvres, tous, petits et grands, riches ou pauvres, libres et esclaves, se feront marquer sur la main droite ou sur le front,
Ap 13:17- et nul ne pourra rien acheter ni vendre s'il n'est marqué au nom de la Bête ou au chiffre de son nom.
Ap 13:18- C'est ici qu'il faut de la finesse ! Que l'homme doué d'esprit calcule le chiffre de la Bête, c'est un chiffre d'homme : son chiffre, c'est 666

Two rights don't make a wrong


Is it possible that simply asking the question, "What if Jesus ran for public office?" actually does the Gospel more harm than good?

To the contrary, that’s a useful way of exposing their real opinion of Jesus.

By simply asking this question, I suggest you've inadvertently obscured the fullness of Jesus' good news. For instance, you downplay the physical needs of this world saying they are largely backloaded…

I didn’t say the physical needs of the world are backloaded. The physical needs are perennial.

…and awaiting fulfillment in the eschaton.

How does it obscure the gospel to state an incontrovertible fact of Biblical eschatology? Is everyone healed in the church age? No. Is everyone immortal in the church age? No. Does everyone have all his physical needs met during the church age? No.

However, Jesus' redemption of our souls is similarly backloaded in that we continue to struggle against the flesh and long for our deliverance. Paul uses the same sort of language to describe the groanings of a split soul as he does to describe all of creation as if in childbirth. Our justification and sealing by the Spirit are the promise of God to fully redeem us in the next life. Meanwhile, we wrestle in the fires of sanctification, sometimes in triumph, other times in defeat. How then is your claim that Jesus prioritized the saving of souls (implied in the phrase "you can only participate in the new Eden if you first come to Christ") an accurate representation of the fullness of his message?

Since you apparently admit that the ultimate satisfaction of both our physical and spiritual needs is backloaded, how is my representation inaccurate? You comparison extends my representation rather than refutes my representation.

You turn to statistics to make your point, saying Jesus healed only a small fraction of those alive at the time who were sick. And yet, is it not also true that at the conclusion of his ministry he had only amassed 120 devoted followers? This too is a tiny fraction of the overall population of souls in need of salvation.

Since you admit that my original statement was true, how does your introducionof another true statement negate the truth of my statement? Do two rights make a wrong?

As a Calvinist, one must at least believe in the possibility that Jesus could have elected all the people of the world during his lifetime, and yet chose not to, just as he chose not to heal all those with disease.

How is that relevant to the point of my post? It wasn’t a priority for him to save everyone or heal everyone. Therefore…what?

I hope you see value in my question.

Actually, I don’t.

I believe that by forcing Jesus into the American political peg-hole, you have had to round off certain portions of his Gospel in order to make him fit our context.

You have a problem following the argument. I was responding to many Catholics and some evangelicals on their own terms. Those who voted for Obama. Those who say Christians should vote for Democrats.

If you object, then you ought to direct your objection to them as well. But I don’t see you doing that.

No doubt he is pro-family values and pro-life, but he preached the redemption of the whole world - the physical as well as the spiritual - none of which is ultimately fulfilled until the Eschaton.

Once again, how does that refute the point of the post?

To prioritize spiritual redemption over physical redemption is, in my opinion, a form of gnosticism rather than orthodoxy.

Let’s see. I made the factual observation that Jesus didn’t heal everyone. I made the factual observation that Jesus didn’t enrich everyone. I made the factual observation that Jesus didn’t preach about carbon emissions, &c.

Is it “gnostic” to note the actual content of his message? Is it “gnostic” to note what he did or didn’t say?

As an example, it ignores the numerous calls in Scripture (both Old and New Testaments) to care for and protect the "widows and orphans," a group particularly vulnerable to social injustice in the ancient world.

Actually, I don’t see where the Bible says anything about “social injustice.” The Bible does have lots to say about “injustice” and “injustice,” so why do we need the adjective?

“Social justice” has become a code word for a liberal social agenda. What’s wrong with plain old “justice.”

Faithfully analogizing from these clear prescriptions must at least include some effort and concern to protect and care for the oppressed and vulnerable groups of our society and throughout the world.

Which misses the point of my post.

Thus, I suggest the pursuit of justice for the oppressed, the healing of disease, ecological stewardship, AND the conversion of souls are all priorities of the overall mission of God to undo the curse as he leads us through the process of the New Exodus, which will culminate one day in the ultimate Promised Land of the New Heavens and the New Earth.

i) I’m all for medical science–as well as medical missionaries. However, that’s not going to reverse the curse. Only the return of Christ will make us immortal and disease-free.

ii) As a practical matter, I don’t know how you propose to pursue global justice for the oppressed. Through the UN Commission on Human Rights? Through the International Court of Justice? Through wars of liberation?

iii) “Ecological stewardship” sounds like a euphemism for global warmists et al. What did you have in mind, exactly?

Perhaps the shortcoming is in our two-party system which forces the either-or mentality upon us. I believe that when Christians choose and then advocate political sides (whether liberal or conservative) in our American system we see Jesus' message co-opted, leaving the "other half" of the country with the perception that the Church is little more than a political advocacy group (think: irrelevant).

i) On the one hand you complain about “gnosticism.” On the other hand you complain about political activism. Seems schizophrenic.

ii) If the “other half” of the country has a misimpression of the Church, that’s a teaching moment. An opportunity to educate the “other half.”

iii) Why shouldn’t we take sides? If, say, one party supports abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia while the other party defends innocent life, why shouldn’t we take sides?

If one party supports honoring your father and mother, while the other party supports honoring “two mommies,” why shouldn’t we take sides?

If one party supports freedom of Christian expression while the other party supports laws to criminalize Christian expression as hate-speech, why shouldn’t we take sides?

See Bobby Grow

This popped up on the site meter:

Bobby Grow

I would like to steer you clear of the Triablogue crew. They are certainly intelligent sharp cookies, but they are roundly centered in the ‘kind of Calvinism’ that this blog severely opposes in orientation.

I’m not suggesting that Steve doesn’t argue forcefully and cogently, but it’s exactly that that in my mind does not substantiate his Calvinism (his logical/causal reasoning) — and he thinks it does.

A few quick comments:

1. It’s true that at a substantive level, my five-point Calvinism, with its supralapsarian theodicy and all, is probably the antithesis of Bobby’s Barthian/Amyraldian synthesis, filtered through Kendall/Torrance/Bloesch et al.

2. But in another respect I find his comment a bit odd. From what I can tell, one of his primary targets is the Confessional Calvinism espoused by Scott Clark. However, Triablogue is a very different beast from Heidelblog.

3. Apropos (2), methodologically speaking, Bobby’s blog shares an ironic degree of affinity with Heidelblog.

Like Scott Clark (as well as Richard Muller), Bobby’s penchant is to cast the major issues in terms of historical theology rather than exegetical theology. He has an essentially Hegelian methodology. The history of ideas–in their dialectical refraction.

By contrast, I’ve offered far more exegetical support for my theology than I see Bobby doing on his blog. His master’s thesis has an exegetical orientation, but that’s hardly front and center on his blog.

4. It’s true that I sometimes argue on purely “logical” grounds, but that’s chiefly when I’m fielding “logical” objections to Calvinism by Arminians.

Cats & dogs


In fairness, Jesus' ministry was not political. If it had been, he would presumably have done a great deal differently. A spiritual ministry will tend to spiritual needs; necessarily at the detriment of the kinds of short-term needs which are the domain of politics. A political ministry would presumably tend to those short-term needs, at the expense of long-term spiritual needs. So I'm not sure how much we can infer from the gospels about Jesus' stance as a hypothetical political candidate.

Except that my post was directed at evangelicals who presume to take a WWJD approach to justify their views on universal healthcare, amnesty, environmentalism, foreign aid, &c. If you want to say that we can’t extrapolate from the example of Jesus, then that undercuts their religious appeal.

I'd also add that, as a non-American, the US political system strikes me as a truly bizarre monstrosity. Americans seem to think that Democrat or Republican are basically the only two political views a man can take; and never the twain shall meet. And I'm no political expert, but from where I'm standing in a country with a spectrum of political parties ranging from strong socialist to the other extreme, Democrats and Republicans look pretty similar. Both right wing. One just slightly further left than the other.

Several problems:

i) To my knowledge, New Zealand is a parliamentary democracy, and in parliamentary systems, from what I’ve read, a candidate can’t run directly for the top office (prime minister), unlike a presidential system, where anyone can run for president (or national or statewide office). Rather, the prime minister is “elected” by the ruling party. In that respect, candidates are even more beholden to the party line (pun intended) in parliamentary systems than they are in presidential systems. But perhaps New Zealand is different.

ii) From what I’ve read, New Zealand has a national population about half the size of NYC, and less than half the size of LA county.

Obviously, in a continental nation the size of the US, political movements must affiliate around large voting blocs to compete on a national stage. It’s a blunt instrument. So the dominant political players aren’t going to mirror the finely-shaded ideological continuum of a country with a fraction of the total population.

iii) In a presidential system like ours, just about anyone of any political stripe (from far right to far left) can run as a Democrat or Republican in the primaries (for mayor, governor, senator, congressman, president, state attorney general). It’s not the two-party system that’s weeding out ideological diversity, but primary voters. They have a roster of candidates to choose from, even among Democrats and Republicans. And they can also vote for third-party candidates.

iv) I don’t see how you can rationally treat the Democrat party and Republican party as near equivalents. Just consider the types of voters who comprise their respective constituencies:

The Republican party caters to hawks, businessmen, libertarians, gun-owners, prolifers, conservative Christians, law-and-order types, &c.

By contrast, the Democrat party caters to deviants, peaceniks, sob sisters, global warmists, abortionists, atheists, euthanasiasts, public-sector employees, selected minorities, &c.

Vicarious baptism

Mormons notoriously practice proxy baptism. They cite the cryptic verse in 1 Cor 15:29 as their prooftexts. For now I’m not going to discuss the correct interpretation of that passage. Ciampa/Rosner have a thorough and sensible explanation in their newly published commentary.

I’m going to make a different point. There’s an inner logic to the Mormon position given the premise, and their premise is a premise which liturgical churches share. If you believe that baptism is necessary for salvation, then there's an undeniable logic to proxy baptism given your operating assumption. After all, if someone dies before he was baptized, then the only way to save him would be through some retroactive, postmortem transaction involving a second party.

And liturgical traditions generally agree with Mormonism on the necessity of baptism. They like to quote those Scriptural passages which verbally link baptism to salvation, or other attendant blessings. They prooftext baptismal regeneration and/or baptismal justification.

But if, for the sake of argument, we accept that connection, then what about those who never had an opportunity to be saved?

Of course, you have churches which accept the premise, but then have to fudge on their governing principle, like the ad hoc, Tridentine escape-clauses involving baptism by desire or baptism by martyrdom. But in that respect, Mormonism is more consistent with the faulty premise than Catholicism.

It’s easy to attack the Mormon position, and rightly so. After all, Mormonism is a thoroughgoing cult. But when you think about it, liturgical churches operate within the same framework. They are simply less consistent. Vicarious baptism represents the reductio ad absurdum of a premise widely held by many theological traditions.

A Non-Physical Body In 1 Corinthians 15:44?

Does 1 Corinthians 15:44 contrast a physical body against one that's spiritual, thus suggesting that the resurrection body is non-physical? Here's a summary of Michael Licona's findings in his study of the passage:

"Moreover, it is worth observing that had Paul desired to communicate this sort of contrast [between the physical and the non-physical], he had better words at his disposal, one of which he had employed just a few chapters earlier [in 1 Corinthians 9:11] while using a seed analogy similar to that of 1 Corinthians 15....if he had desired to communicate that our resurrection body would not be physical but rather immaterial in nature, why use the former term in a sense not employed earlier in his letter or for that matter anywhere else in the Pauline corpus, the New Testament or by any known author from the eighth century B.C. through the third century A.D., while ignoring a clearer term used just a few chapters earlier in a similar seed analogy?...I located 846 occurrences of the former [the term 'natural' in 1 Corinthians 15:44] from the eighth-century B.C. through the third-century A.D. and could not locate a single occurrence of the term that meant 'physical' or 'material.' This discovery in itself eliminates any interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:44 that has Paul asserting physical corpses are buried while resurrection bodies will be immaterial (a la Wedderburn, RSV/NRSV et al.)." (The Resurrection Of Jesus [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2010], pp. 414-415, 618)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

William Lane Craig Debates Richard Dawkins

From a supplement to William Lane Craig's November newsletter:

At the reception, Professor Roemer shocked me by telling me that Michio Kaku didn’t want to be part of our debate (he later described himself to me as “a waffler”), and so Richard Dawkins was on the panel instead! I could scarcely believe my ears! It just seemed unbelievable that Dawkins and I were going to finally cross swords in a public forum.

We were then taken by bus to a second reception back at the hotel. As I stood there, talking with other conference presenters, I saw Richard Dawkins come in. When he drew near, I extended my hand and introduced myself. I remarked, “I’m surprised to see that you’re on the panel.”

“And why not?” he replied.

“Well,” I said, “You’ve always refused to debate me.”

His tone suddenly became icy cold. “I don’t consider this to be a debate with you. The Mexicans invited me to participate, and I accepted.” At that, he turned away.

“Well, I hope we have a good discussion,” I said.

“I very much doubt it,” he retorted and walked off.

So my first encounter with Richard Dawkins was a pretty chilly one!...

The day before the debate Richard Dawkins delivered a hateful screed against religion, denouncing “the evil of faith.” About 40% of the audience gave him a standing ovation. I was glad that most people had the courage to stay seated. The audience, at least, was not as secularized as the conference presenters....

Apart from our debate, no one even questioned this unspoken scientism. So when Dawkins claimed that we should not believe anything except on the basis of (scientific) evidence, no one seemed to notice that his position was self-defeating, since the claim that we should believe only what can be scientifically proven cannot itself be scientifically proven! At this conference, as in Hawking and Mlodinow’s The Grand Design, scientists were taken to be “the torchbearers of discovery in our quest for knowledge.”...

With this steady stream of unthinking naturalism, scientism, and utopianism, you can imagine how refreshed I was by my colleague Doug Geivett’s arrival on Saturday morning! Over breakfast I filled him in on the conference and the unexpected change of Dawkins’ participation. We then traveled to the conference venue, where we met David Wolpe. A coin flip determined that the atheist side would go first. Talking with David, we agreed that I should lead off to lay the groundwork for the debate, David would extend our case, and Doug would be anchor man. As it turned out, this worked really well. Professor Roemer had bought an actual regulation boxing ring which he had set up on stage with a podium in the front! Prior to the debate the theme from “Rocky” was playing over the PA system. Each of us had to climb into the ring to deliver his speech. It was the most unusual venue I’ve ever debated in!

The speeches were only 6 minutes, 3 minutes, and 1 1/2 minutes long, so it was really a fast-paced debate. We defended two contentions: (1) If God does not exist, the universe has no purpose, and (2) If God does exist, the universe does have a purpose. At first the atheist debaters seemed to agree with out first contention but then switched to saying that we can create purpose for our lives, not noticing the difference between objective purpose and the subjective illusion of purpose. They never disputed the second contention or addressed specifically our arguments for theism. The two arguments for atheism disappeared from the debate as soon as they were answered. So we felt really great about how the debate went. While Doug and I dismantled the atheists’ arguments philosophically, David really connected with the audience emotionally, so our styles beautifully complemented each other....

Soon the English version should be up on You Tube; the Spanish translated version is up already.

If you're signed up for Craig's web site, you can get access to a photo of him standing in the boxing ring he refers to, along with Richard Dawkins, here.

If Jesus ran for public office

There are professing Christians who vote for Obama and other Democrats because they think Christians ought to be equally concerned with world poverty, healthcare, ecology, &c. For instance, if you mouse over to the USCCB website, and scroll down the “Social Justice Issues” section, it largely mirrors the party platform of the Democrat party.

We find the same emphasis among representatives of the Evangelical left, like Ron Sider, Jim Wallis, and Tony Campolo. But in what seems to be a more recent development, we’ve also had mainstream Evangelicals like Craig Blomberg and Darrell Bock telling us they voted for Obama. Likewise, in a faculty survey at Covenant College, 16 profs. identified themselves as Obama voters.

This raises an interesting question: if Jesus ran for public office, would these Evangelicals and Catholic bishops vote for Jesus, or for the Democrat candidate?

There’s a sense in which Jesus has some concern for healthcare. He healed many sick people and exorcised many demoniacs. Yet one can’t say that was his priority. After all, when you consider all the sick people who were alive at the time of Jesus’ public ministry, he only healed a tiny fraction of the totality. The number he healed was statistically insignificant in relation to the worldwide population of sick people.

And this is despite the fact that Jesus could have cured every single sick man, woman, and child with a mere thought.

Likewise, it lay within his power to make every poor person instantly and unimaginably rich. But he didn’t. Indeed, he himself was a manual laborer for most of his earthly life.

He also neglected ecology. For instance, he did nothing to eliminate solid waste dumps. Or the deforestation of Palestine. Or air pollution from wood stoves. To take a few examples.

On the other hand, he was strong on “family values” like traditional marriage and children. Not to mention true worship.

This is not to say that Jesus doesn’t care about the physical wellbeing of man, or the ecosystem. Yet that is largely backloaded. It awaits the Eschaton. And you can only participate in the new Eden if you first come to Christ.

We also need to distinguish between what the Bible permits and what it prescribes. It is certainly permissible to attend to our immediate necessities. Still, it’s striking to compare the agenda of some professing believers with the priorities of Christ.

Naturalistic Delusions

I've said that Michael Licona's The Resurrection Of Jesus (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2010) has the best treatment I've seen of hallucination theories against Jesus' resurrection. There's far too much material on that subject in the book for me to quote all of it. But here's some of what Licona writes:

[quoting psychologist Gary Sibcy] I have surveyed the professional literature (peer-reviewed journal articles and books) written by psychologists, psychiatrists, and other relevant healthcare professionals during the past two decades and have yet to find a single documented case of a group hallucination, that is, an event for which more than one person purportedly shared in a visual or other sensory perception where there was clearly no external referent. [end of quote]

In order to avoid the implausibility of a group hallucination, Goulder would have to suggest that the appearance to the Twelve, which is perhaps the most strongly attested of Jesus' postresurrection appearances, involved each disciple experiencing an individual hallucination at the same time....the Twelve were males who probably belonged to various age groups and almost certainly possessed different personality types. Far more punishing to such a proposal [group hallucinations], however, is the requirement of mind-boggling coincidences. Despite the fact that hallucinations are experienced by roughly 15 percent of the general population and a much larger 50 percent of recently bereaved senior adults (only 14 percent of which are visual in nature), an incredible 100 percent of the Twelve would have experienced a hallucination, of Jesus (rather than something else such as guards), simultaneously, in the same mode (visual) and perhaps in multiple modes. It would be an understatement to claim that such a proposal has only a meager possibility of reflecting what actually occurred. Embracing it would require an extraordinary amount of faith....

And it is appropriate to remind ourselves that credulity is not unique to believers and can be present in the historical work of skeptical scholars who uncritically accept poorly supported natural hypotheses that are terribly ad hoc....

Ludemann also equates the postresurrection appearances of Jesus to Marian apparitions, and we have already addressed this assertion previously with Goulder. Like Goulder, Ludemann does not bother to argue that Marian apparitions are necessarily natural and solely psychological events....

we must observe that there is not even a hint that Jesus' disciples performed any of these actions [to enter into an altered state of consciousness] in order to see Jesus. In fact, there is nothing in the texts that suggests they were even trying to enter into an ASC [altered state of consciousness]. Moreover, it is important to observe that neither Craffert nor Pilch provide any documented reports from the social sciences of a group of individuals who were all convinced they were simultaneously engaged in mutually interactive activities (e.g., speaking with, eating with, walking with, or touching) with an individual who was not actually there in an ontologically objective sense....

In reply to Pilch, Wiebe examined more than thirty reports of ASC experiences he received from those who had experienced them. He compares them with OSC [ordinary state of consciousness] experiences, listing ten qualities that are typically, though not always, absent in an ASC....

This [evidence] suggests that the disciples' encounters with the risen Jesus were understood as OSCs. Wiebe concludes that ASCs may appropriately describe other kinds of experiences reported in the New Testament, but they are inadequate for assisting us in understanding the disciples' encounters with the risen Jesus....

Apparitions [of the dead] are not usually observed by groups (2-12 percent), are not usually observed by enemies (less than 1 percent), are not usually touched (2.7 [two-point-seven] percent) and are not usually accompanied by belief that the person has been raised bodily from the dead (less than 1 percent).

While these qualities are not always absent in apparitions, they are very rare. And it would be much rarer to see an apparition containing all of them; approximately 1:3,800,000. In fact, there are no cases in the literature of such an apparition (which means that any hypothesis proposing that the postresurrection appearances of Jesus were no different than standard experiences of apparitions of the dead lacks plausibility)....

This figure [of less than 1 percent of apparitions being seen by an enemy, like Saul of Tarsus] is based on only one reference to an enemy of Christianity who was a Hindu and who converted after he had an experience in which he believed Jesus had appeared to him....

In terms of an empty tomb, I agree with Habermas and Allison that this is a major difference [between what the New Testament reports about Jesus' resurrection and apparitions]. When we add the unanimous reports of the bodily resurrection of Jesus in the earliest narratives and in Acts 2 and Acts 13, the differences between these reports and what we find in the apparitions literature become marked.

(pp. 484-486, 491, 509, 574-576, 635, n. 65 on p. 635, 637)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chick alors!


"I am not alone, nor did I make up this information about Babylon being a code name for Rome for St. Peter":

there is only one city on the earth which, in both historical and contemporary perspectives, passes every test John gives, including its identification as Mystery Babylon. That city is Rome.

It's not every day you see a Catholic epologist vouch for Jack Chick scholarship. Since he regards the Jack Chick website as a reliable source of information, I look forward to seeing Scott Windsor on the street corner, passing out Jack Chick tracts and comic books on the church of Rome.

Living and dying

What does a human death signify in atheism? Imagine a man (or woman) who keeps a diary. He jots down every important event in his life. From time to time he rereads portions of his diary so that he won’t forget the precious memories, like growing up, or raising a child of his own. Evolving friendships.

All the little things that make a life add up to something. That layer a life with sentimental insights and attachments.

Then imagine burning the diary, one page at a time. Start on the very first page. Light the lower right-hand corner, then watch the flame move up the page, consuming every word, sentence, and dated entry. One by one, the flame unwrites everything the diarist wrote. It steadily overtakes the record of his life, from boyhood to old age. The pages smoke and curl into ash, then crumble into dust at the merest breath. His entire life reduced, in a matter of minutes, to a heap of smoldering ash.

But suppose, you say, that’s not all. For he still lives on in the hearts and minds of his children.

Yet the same flame will repeat the same process in the entries of their own lives as well. A series of ash heaps, scattered by the wind.

"The big war is not between evolution and creationism, but between naturalism and supernaturalism"

According to Richard Dawkins, "The big war is not between evolution and creationism, but between naturalism and supernaturalism."

This admission is revealing for two reasons:

i) For years on end, Phillip Johnson has been telling us that the debate between naturalistic evolution and intelligent design is ultimately presuppositional rather than evidentiary. The naturalistic evolutionary biologist has a precommitment to naturalism or materialism. I've read critics of Johnson say he's evading the empirical evidence, but Dawkins is confirming Johnson's diagnosis.

ii) Atheists often try to place the burden of proof on the Christian. But as Dawkins' candid admission implies, these are symmetrical claims. In this "war," both sides are staking out metaphysical ground on the nature of the world.

Links To A Review Of Michael Licona's The Resurrection Of Jesus

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Modern Miracles, The Significance Of Groups, Hostile Corroboration
Part 3: Suffering And Martyrdom, Clement Of Rome
Part 4: Papias
Part 5: Polycarp, Justin Martyr
Part 6: The Unusual Phenomena At The Time Of Jesus' Death, The Conversion Of Jesus' Brothers

A Review Of Michael Licona's The Resurrection Of Jesus (Part 6)

The Unusual Phenomena At The Time Of Jesus' Death

Critics of the resurrection often cite the alleged non-historicity of some of the phenomena associated with Jesus' death (the darkness at the time of Jesus' crucifixion, the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27:52-53, etc.). They ask why we should believe in the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus if such events reported in the nearby context don't seem to be historical. Licona argues for a metaphorical interpretation of such passages while maintaining that the resurrection passages can't be placed in the same category. He acknowledges that there's some evidence for a historical reading of the phenomena in question, such as the apparent corroboration of the darkness at Jesus' crucifixion offered by Thallus. But he concludes that a metaphorical reading of the New Testament passages makes more sense overall. I think Licona makes some good points, but I lean toward a historical reading of the passages.

Licona is right to point out that the widespread early understanding of the resurrection as a historical event is evidence that the New Testament accounts were meant to be taken as historical narratives. But the same point can be made about the other phenomena in question, like the darkness at the time of the crucifixion. Yet, I think we have better and more widespread evidence for a historical reading of the resurrection accounts than the accounts of the other phenomena, so there is some difference between the two. There's some merit to Licona's argument. It's not as though we find patristic sources affirming the historicity of the darkness at Jesus' crucifixion nearly as often as we find them affirming the historicity of the resurrection. Affirmations of the latter are far more plentiful than affirmations of the former. Still, Licona needs to address the affirmations of the former that do exist.

He only mentions corroboration of the darkness by Thallus, but even that one source tells us that a historical understanding of the darkness existed early on. And Tertullian and Jerome tell us that other non-Christian sources corroborated the darkness. Thallus wasn't the only one who did so. Furthermore, the manner in which men like Tertullian, Julius Africanus, and Jerome respond to critics of the darkness suggests that a historical interpretation was widespread among Christians. See here.

I've discussed Matthew 27:52-53 elsewhere at this blog, such as here. Licona asks why the resurrected saints would have remained in their tombs until after Jesus' resurrection if they had been raised at the time of Jesus' death. The answer depends on which of multiple potential readings of the passage we adopt. Perhaps the opening of the tombs occurred at the time of Jesus' death, but the raising of the saints didn't occur until later. Or maybe they did leave their tombs at the time of Jesus' death, but didn't enter Jerusalem until after Jesus' resurrection.

Like I said, I think there are some significant points that can be made in favor of Licona's position. But the evidence for the alternative I'm proposing is weightier. Licona's position of rejecting the historicity of phenomena like the darkness while accepting the historicity of the resurrection is better than the critic's position of rejecting both. Pointing to the alleged lack of evidence for, or alleged evidence against, something like the darkness at the time of the crucifixion isn't sufficient to overcome the evidence for the resurrection. Licona's position is preferable, but not the best option.

The Conversion Of Jesus' Brothers

Licona's focus is on James, for whom we have an early report of his seeing the risen Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:7). But one or more of Jesus' other brothers may have seen the risen Christ as well. We don't know. Licona makes many good points about the brothers of Jesus, and James in particular, but he stops short of articulating some conclusions that he should have included in his argument for the resurrection. He sometimes seems to imply some of the conclusions I have in mind, but it's often unclear just what he's saying.

Before I explain what I'm referring to, though, I want to mention a good resource on the skepticism of Jesus' family prior to His resurrection: Eric Svendsen's Who Is My Mother? (Amityville, New York: Calvary Press, 2001). Licona makes a lot of the same points Svendsen does, but Svendsen's book covers the issue more broadly and deeply.

Licona writes:

"Habermas asserts that the majority of critical scholars writing on the subject grant the conversion of James as a result of what he perceived was a postresurrection appearance of Jesus to him." (p. 460)

He then lists some of Habermas' sources for that conclusion and adds some sources of his own. Licona thinks that James' conversion upon seeing the risen Christ is "plausible" (p. 459). He thinks that James' belief in the resurrection is "the best explanation" of his conversion (p. 461). But he also makes comments like the following:

"However, with Allison, I am open to the possibility that James and his brothers had heard from their mother or others of Jesus' postresurrection appearances and, having noted their sincere conviction that Jesus had appeared, it seems plausible that James and his brothers converted based on their conviction that Jesus had appeared to others and that Jesus appeared to James sometime after his conversion, either prior to or after Pentecost." (pp. 459-460)

Licona makes a lot of comments about James at different points in the book. I could be overlooking something he said. But I don't remember any place in the book where he attempts to distinguish between the likelihood of the scenario he describes above (James' conversion prior to Jesus' resurrection appearance to him) and the alternative (James' conversion upon seeing the risen Jesus). But it seems to me that the latter has more explanatory power and is less ad hoc. I wish Licona had addressed this subject in his book. He should have pressed the issue further rather than leaving it so unsettled. We should admit ignorance where we are ignorant, but I think Licona could have gone further than he did.

There's another significant point that Licona hints at, but doesn't express as clearly as he should have. The skepticism of Jesus' family has evidential significance for the resurrection regardless of whether any of them converted upon seeing the risen Jesus. Let's grant, for the sake of argument, the scenario suggested by Licona in my quote from pp. 459-460 above. Still, for skeptics like James and one or more of his brothers to convert based on the testimony of Mary or others would require that their testimony was highly credible. As Licona notes elsewhere in his book:

"Regarding Ludemann's proposal that the brothers of Jesus were caught up in the 'mass ecstasy' behind the experience of Pentecost, it seems more likely that Jesus' unbelieving brothers, especially James who was apparently quite pious about his Jewish faith, would have regarded their dead brother as a heretic rather than rush to Jerusalem and be caught up in such group ecstasy, as Ludemann would have us seems more likely that Jesus' execution as a criminal and blasphemer would have supported their continued unbelief rather than their conversion to a faith that the especially pious James would have regarded as apostasy." (p. 517)

Whatever convinced James and one or more of his brothers to convert, it probably was something more than an ancient equivalent of a Benny Hinn rally. 1 Corinthians 15:7 is the best explanation for James' conversion. But if it was some lesser reason that persuaded him, such as the credibility of other resurrection witnesses, that lesser reason still has some evidential significance. Jesus' brothers can't be dismissed as the sort of gullible believers that men like Peter and John are often made out to have been.

Other Disagreements

I've spent a few days now discussing some of my disagreements with Licona's book. But as I said in my introduction to this review, I think the book is great. It covers some subjects better than any other source I've seen. I want to move on to discuss more of my agreements with the book. In the coming days, I'll be quoting some portions of the book that I found helpful.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Geoplanar oceanography

According to Ed Bozinski, Bible writers and ancient Near Easterners generally were rubes and hicks who all thought the earth was flat because they didn’t have access to satellite photography. They had to go by appearances, and to all appearances the earth was flat. (Or so goes the argument.)

Well, let’s consider a simple counterexample. Anyone living on the coast is in a position to register a correlation between the lunar cycle and the tidal cycle. Indeed, if you were, let us say, an ancient sailor or fisherman, you’d have a practical incentive to take note of that correlation.

As we all know, tidal action involves a complex set of motions which include a spinning spherical earth in relation to the sun and moon–as well as other variables.

But just imagine trying to create a geoplanar model of the tides, where the dry land is swimming in a saucer. It wouldn’t take a knowledge of satellite photography to realize that this is not a terribly realistic model of tidal action.

Although ancient observers would lack the detailed information to know what, exactly, is the correct theory of tidal action, they already had enough information to know that a flat-earth or triple-decker universe could not account for tidal action.

There’s a difference between knowing that something is wrong, and knowing the correct alternative. We can often know that something is wrong before we know the right answer. Indeed, knowing that something is wrong is frequently the spur to exploring alternative explanations.

Incidentally, although I haven’t studied the subject, I assume the Nile river is a tidal river near the coast.

If you don’t believe in God or man, you will despair

Freud famously attempted to reduce religious faith to wishful thinking. But, ironically, it's the secular humanist who indulges in wishful thinking. As Dennis Prager recently pointed out:

The notion that people are basically good is a modern, post-Enlightenment one that is neither Jewish nor rational. As regards Judaism, from the Torah through rabbinic Judaism, I am unaware of a single mainstream Jewish text that posits that people are basically good. The Torah cites God Himself as declaring that the “will of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8.21). As regards reason, the empirical evidence against the belief that people are basically good is simply overwhelming.

Well, then, if Judaism doesn’t teach it, and reason and human experience refute it, why do so many Jews believe that people are basically good?

People who do not believe in God almost have to believe in man. Life is just too dark if one cannot believe in either God or humanity. Most people who do not believe in God cannot face the bleakness that not having a belief in man would lead to. It is much easier for those who believe in God not to believe in humanity.

A Review Of Michael Licona's The Resurrection Of Jesus (Part 5)


Licona writes:

"If Irenaeus was being truthful [in what he said about Polycarp], similar to Clement of Rome, Polycarp's writings become very important, since he personally knew and followed one of Jesus' closest disciples who was one of the three major leaders of the Jerusalem Church: John. However, without an ability to know and with only Irenaeus linking Polycarp to John, we may only assign Polycarp a rating of possible, in terms of preserving apostolic teachings pertaining to the resurrection of Jesus." (p. 256)

Let's begin with Irenaeus, since he's the only source Licona cites. Is there any reason to distrust him on the issue of Polycarp's relationship with John? Not that I'm aware of. I've read everything Irenaeus wrote. I've studied his writings in various contexts for years. I've read many scholars' comments about him. What I've read about Irenaeus' character in Eric Osborn's Irenaeus Of Lyons (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), for example, suggests to me that he was sufficiently honest and careful to warrant our trusting what he reported about Polycarp. Osborn writes:

"Eusebius' claim that Irenaeus was a peacemaker in name and nature (H.E. 5.24.18) is not simply a play on words but a fact borne out by Irenaeus' life and work (H.E. 5.23-5). His irenic approach shows that his objection to heresies on matters of faith had little to do with a struggle for power....Even on matters of faith, elsewhere he prays for his adversaries whom he loves more than they love themselves (3.25.7)....Irenaeus follows Justin as a lover of truth....As a ruthless empiricist, he constantly appeals to evidence and demands respect for facts....The evidence of facts must be accepted without argument, whether these facts are proclaimed by scripture or observed in the world....Irenaeus would not raise harmful rumour for the sake of scoring a point against his opponents." (pp. 5, 18, 203, n. 13 on p. 240)

Think about some of the characteristics of Irenaeus' comments about Polycarp. He mentions Polycarp's relationship with John on multiple occasions, in a wide variety of contexts. He cites the connection between Polycarp and John when arguing against heretics (Against Heresies, 3:3:4), in his letter against Florinus (Fragments, 2), and in his letter against Victor (Fragments, 3). In every one of those instances, he's appealing to Polycarp against his opponents. That would be a risky move if he was lying. And the apparent failure of any of his opponents to expose the lie in any way that's extant in our historical record would be hard to explain. Many people, and not just Irenaeus' opponents, would have had an interest in stating and popularizing the fact that Polycarp wasn't actually a disciple of the apostles, if in fact he wasn't.

In the first two passages mentioned above, Irenaeus adds some comments about how his assessment of Polycarp can be verified. He notes that "To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time" (Against Heresies, 3:3:4). It doesn't sound like Irenaeus was the only one claiming that Polycarp was a disciple of John. It sounds like other sources, including Polycarp's own church and his own successors in the bishopric, were saying the same thing. In his letter to Florinus, Irenaeus is addressing a childhood acquaintance. He appeals to the fact that Florinus also knew Polycarp when he and Irenaeus were in their youth. Why would Irenaeus not only lie and not only use that lie in a public dispute with somebody who was in a position to easily expose the lie, but even explicitly and repeatedly remind that individual about how he's in a position to refute the falsehood? In his letter to Florinus, Irenaeus reminds him that he had known Polycarp as well and repeatedly mentions Polycarp's status as a disciple of the apostles.

And it wouldn't make sense to argue that Irenaeus was honestly mistaken. Read what he says about the nature of his memories of Polycarp, especially in his letter to Florinus. He mentions many details, and he comments on how Polycarp would often discuss his relationship with the apostles. The idea that Irenaeus so frequently misunderstood Polycarp or misremembered what he said is unlikely. Did he also misunderstand or misremember the testimony of the Asian churches and Polycarp's successors, who, according to Irenaeus, were also testifying to the fact that Polycarp was a disciple of the apostles?

I see no reason to doubt Irenaeus' testimony about Polycarp's status as one of the apostles' disciples. I see much reason to trust his testimony.

And Licona seems to have overlooked some other sources we have.

Tertullian not only refers to Polycarp as a disciple of John, but even says that the claim can be verified in the records of the church of Smyrna (The Prescription Against Heretics, 32).

Eusebius, who had access to many documents no longer extant, refers to Polycarp's status as a disciple of the apostles as if it's accepted by him and as if he doesn't expect to have to defend the claim against any challenges (Church History, 3:36). He was willing to dispute Irenaeus' claim that Papias was a disciple of John (Church History, 3:39), but he accepts Polycarp's status as a disciple of the apostles.

Jerome likewise affirms Polycarp's relationship with the apostles and says nothing of any dispute on the matter (Lives Of Illustrious Men, 17). I'm not aware of any ancient source who disputed what Irenaeus reported about Polycarp.

Justin Martyr

I only noticed one reference to Justin Martyr in Licona's book, a brief reference in a footnote (n. 7 on p. 469). In the second part of this review, I discussed some of my reasons for thinking that Licona should have given more attention to Justin's material. I want to expand on that point now.

One of the most significant passages in Justin relevant to Jesus' resurrection is cited by Licona in the footnote I've referred to above. But Licona doesn't say much about the passage.

It's seldom noted that Matthew's claim that the Jewish leaders accused Jesus' disciples of stealing His body from its tomb is corroborated by a passage in Justin in which he seems to quote from a Jewish source on the subject. In section 108 of his Dialogue With Trypho, Justin seems to cite a Jewish document or tradition, in which Jesus is referred to as a "deceiver" and reference is made to Jesus as Him "whom we crucified", apparently speaking from the perspective of non-Christian Jews ("we"). This passage in Justin contains multiple details not found in Matthew's gospel. For example, Michael Slusser's edition of Justin has him referring to how the Jews "chose certain men by vote and sent them throughout the whole civilized world" in order to argue against Christianity, including by accusing the disciples of stealing the body (Dialogue With Trypho [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University Of America Press, 2003], p. 162). It's not as though people would have been dependent solely on Matthew for information on such subjects. Justin had more than Matthew's account to go by. And he seems to be quoting some sort of Jewish document or tradition.

Justin addresses a lot of issues that Licona discusses in his book. We find in Justin many indications of early Jewish familiarity with the gospels (Dialogue With Trypho, 10) and early Jewish belief about issues like Jesus' crucifixion (32) and His performance of miracles (69). Both Justin and his Jewish opponents argue on the basis of a historical reading of the gospels, which tells us how both early Christians and early Jews viewed the genre of those documents.

How significant is Justin's Dialogue With Trypho as a response to Jewish argumentation? How likely is it that Jewish arguments are actually reflected in what he writes? Justin is familiar with many Jewish responses to Christianity, as his interactions with their scripture interpretations, for example, demonstrate. He "shows acquaintance with rabbinical discussions" (Michael Slusser, ed., Dialogue With Trypho [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University Of America Press, 2003], n. 9 on p. 33). Bruce Chilton writes that Justin "appears to adapt motifs of Judaism", and Rebecca Lyman comments that Justin "is aware of Samaritan customs as well as some patterns of rabbinic exegesis" (in Sara Parvis and Paul Foster, edd., Justin Martyr And His Worlds [Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 2007], pp. 83, 163). Passages like the ones I've discussed above in Justin's Dialogue With Trypho demonstrate that he wasn't just repeating what he read in the New Testament documents. He's aware of Jewish arguments outside of those reflected in the New Testament, and he's aware of post-apostolic developments in Judaism. His willingness to compose a work as lengthy as his Dialogue With Trypho tells us something about his interest in Jewish arguments against Christianity.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Little pansy

On the one hand

Avalos says,

As an atheist, I don‘t deny that I am a moral relativist (TCD 232).

On the other hand

Avalos says:

RE: Triablogue. Here again, Parsival shows non-expertise. On August 6, 2010, Paul Manata of Triablogue tried to supposedly expose my non-expertise in epistemology and metaethics. But Triablogue had to take the post down due to flagrant ethical violations brought to their attention by the persons they were quoting in the post. Did Parsival not hear about that? So how much of an expertise in metaethics was shown by the operators of Triablogue if they themselves had to delete a post due to ethical problems?

i) How can Avalos ascribe “flagrant ethical violations” to a post when he’s a moral relativist?

ii) It wasn’t taken down due to ethical problems. It was taken down because Avalos, acting like a little pansy, contacted some of the individuals who panned his incompetent argument as a pressure tactic to censure Manata’s post.

I think Hector’s basic problem is that he suffers from a social inferiority complex. He’s ashamed of his humble origins. Ashamed of his lowly background as a poor Mexican preacher-boy. Ashamed of the lower class Pentecostalism he used to espouse. When you’re trying to impress the faculty at Harvard Divinity School, that’s not the sort of thing you want to be reminded of.

(Of course, from a Christian standpoint, poverty is nothing to be ashamed of. Joseph and Mary were poor. Jesus was poor.)


In 2113, the world was drug free. No more junkies. No more dope dealers and drug lords.

Unfortunately, what took the place of drug addiction was a new addiction. An addictive new technology.

In 2102, Dr. Maroue founded SynesthesiaWorks. SynWorks was a biotech entertainment corporation. Dr. Maroue discovered a way for clients to experience the sensible world in the same way various animals perceive the world. In one program, the client could experience the olfactory sensation of a bloodhound. In another program, the client could experience the auditory sensation of moth (up to 240,000Hz.). In another program, the client could experience the gustatory sensation of a rabbit, which has twice the taste buds of human beings. In another program, the client could experience the optical sensation of a bee, or an ostrich, or an owl. And so on and so forth.

Each synesthetic enhancement was like discovering a new world. Some clients, knows as Cruisers, would sample different synesthetic enhancements. They purchased lightweight headgear that enabled them to enjoy as much or as little synesthetic recreation as they wanted to every day or every week.

But many other clients found the technology positively compulsive. They had neuroimplants which enabled them enjoy the synesthetic enhancement 24/7. They burrowed ever deeper into the alien world of an animal sensation.

Different clients tapped into different animal sensations. It wasn’t long before they formed their own communities, such as Avians, Moths, Rabbits, Canines, and so forth.

Clients would only relate to other clients with the same synesthetic enhancement. This, in turn, quickly spawned various subcultures. The Rabbits started their own restaurants, with menus catering to their rabbity taste buds. Canines developed their own line of perfumes. Moths composed their own music, and held their own concerts. Bees made their own movies, especially adapted to their unique visual acuities.

Then there were clients, known as Alters, who ceased to relate to human beings at all. Instead, they bonded exclusively with the nonhuman animals whose sensory aptitude they shared. Some lost the ability to communicate in human language. They could only communicate with members of their adopted species. Instead of condominiums, they lived in aviaries, insectariums, herpetariums, serpentariums, paludariums, and the like.

Many clients became sociopathic. Perceiving the world from the viewpoint of an animal, they ceased to have empathy for human beings. They lose their native sense of kinship. Some of them came to view human beings as a prey species. Cannibalism became the leading form of homicide.

Civil libertarians defended them on the grounds that cannibalism lacks the element of criminal intent when the “human” predator no longer perceives the human prey as a member of his own species.

There were futile efforts to outlaw the technology. However, it was too popular to ban. Too many judges, lawmakers, policemen, juries, or members of their family, were hooked.

Civilization came to resemble a human zoo, with different factions vying to play the game warden.

A Review Of Michael Licona's The Resurrection Of Jesus (Part 4)


Licona writes:

"Although these short fragments [of Papias] preserved in the writings of others contain numerous references that identify Papias as a companion of the apostle John, they make no mention of the death or resurrection of Jesus and thus are of no value in our investigation." (p. 249)

I disagree. Here's what Papias wrote about the origins of Mark's gospel, for example:

"This also the presbyter said: Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord's discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely." (cited in Eusebius, Church History, 3:39)

I want to note a translation issue that will be significant in our consideration of this passage. The term "presbyter" can be rendered as "elder", and that's how some translations of Papias have it. I'd prefer the use of elder rather than presbyter, for reasons I'll explain below. I'm using the presbyter translation for two reasons. For one thing, the online translations I normally use when writing on my computer render the passage that way. And addressing the translation issue might be helpful to people who would come across the presbyter rendering at some future point and wonder how it affects my argument.

The term elder can have more than one meaning. It can refer to an older person. It can refer to a church office. It can refer to both. Whatever the nuances involved in Papias' use of the term, it's likely that this source he's appealing to is somebody with a higher standing and longer history in the church than Papias had. That's why Papias would cite this person as a source of information about the past, the origins of Mark's gospel in this case.

At a minimum, we have a source who goes back even further than Papias who's saying that Mark's gospel reflects the testimony of Peter. And that testimony is framed in a historical genre. Papias' source is referring to Mark's mediation of what was remembered of Jesus' actions and words by a historical witness who had contact with Jesus. He's discussing the historical memory of witnesses. Richard Bauckham discusses this passage and other material in Papias at length in his book Jesus And The Eyewitnesses (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2006), pp. 12-38, 202-239. As he documents, Papias uses terminology that was part of the historiographical language of his day. In other words, not only does Papias' source (the elder) say that the gospel of Mark reflects what Peter taught, but he also places Peter's testimony and Mark's gospel in a historical genre. It follows that Mark's references to an empty tomb and the promised appearances of the risen Jesus (Mark 14:28, 16:7), for example, are what the historical Peter taught about the historical Jesus. Thus, we have a source (the elder) who probably dates even earlier than Papias who's saying that Peter taught a historical empty tomb and the historical appearance of the risen Jesus to His disciples. That's a significant piece of evidence for the resurrection. It's not only evidence that Peter believed in the resurrection and his own experience of seeing the risen Christ, but also is evidence of how Peter defined the nature of that resurrection. Peter affirmed the empty tomb, which wouldn't be produced by a non-physical resurrection or one that involved being given some second body other than the one that died.

If we were to stop here, I think we'd have good reason to disagree with Licona's assessment of Papias. But we can go even further.

Who is Papias' source, the elder? Most likely the apostle John. If I'm right about that, then this passage in Papias becomes even more significant, and in more than one context. If I'm right, then we have John adding his affirmation of a historical empty tomb, a historical resurrection appearance, etc. to Peter's affirmation of those things. We would also have John affirming a traditional view of Mark's gospel in general, not just the parts about the resurrection. And John was in a good position to give us historical information about Peter. They were contemporaries. They knew each other. There's widespread early testimony that they had a close relationship. They frequently appear together in all of the gospels and in Acts, and they appear together in Galatians 2:9. When all four of the gospels, Acts, and Paul agree about something, that's significant. And there's no contrary evidence I'm aware of. What reason do we have to doubt that John and Peter had a close relationship? If Papias is giving us John's testimony, then not only is John a highly significant source himself, but he also was in a good position to give us information about Peter.

But is Papias' elder actually John? I've discussed the evidence in past threads (see here, for example), and I'll summarize it here.

Just before his quotation of Papias cited above, Eusebius writes the following:

"Papias gives also in his own work other accounts of the words of the Lord on the authority of Aristion who was mentioned above, and traditions as handed down by the presbyter John; to which we refer those who are fond of learning." (3:39)

Eusebius tells us that an elder named John was one of Papias' sources. Earlier in the same passage in Eusebius, he gives us another quotation from Papias:

"If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders— what Andrew or what Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say."

Notice two contrasts. For one thing, Papias distinguishes between what the first group said (in the past) and what the second group says (in the present). Apparently, Aristion and John were still alive. Notice, too, that the term elder is applied to John, but not to Aristion. And that same term had been applied to the apostles earlier. Thus, John seems to be part of the initial group, whereas Aristion isn't. (Perhaps John is being distinguished as one of the Twelve, whereas Aristion was only one of the seventy of Luke 10:1 or some other broader group.) But John is distinguished from the initial group in that he's still alive. Men like Matthew and Peter were dead, but John was still living.

So, Eusebius repeatedly refers to an elder named John who was one of Papias' sources. But in the passage on Mark's gospel, Papias doesn't just refer to an elder. He refers to the elder. Does that term sound familiar? It should. It's a term the author of 2 John and 3 John applies to himself (2 John 1, 3 John 1). And most early Christians attributed those two documents to the apostle John, the son of Zebedee. They also said he was the author of two other documents that use similar language (the gospel of John and 1 John). It's unlikely that they were wrong about all four authorship attributions. When an early source, like Papias, makes an unqualified reference to "the elder", the best explanation of that term is that he's referring to the apostle John.

Several ancient sources who had access to Papias' writings tell us that he was a disciple of John. See the collection of Papias fragments here. Eusebius argues that Papias' John is somebody other than the apostle, but the reasons he gives for holding that view are weak, and he's widely contradicted by other sources.

Furthermore, there are some reflections of John's writings in the fragments of Papias, which makes sense if Papias was highly influenced by John as one of his disciples. I've already noted Papias' use of "the elder", a term that John applied to himself. In most lists of the apostles, Peter's name appears first. But in Papias' list, Andrew comes before Peter, followed by Philip. That order (Andrew, Peter, Philip) is identical to the order in which Jesus calls the disciples in John's gospel (John 1:40-41, 1:43). The same passage in Papias uses the phrase "truth itself" (3 John 12), which is somewhat unusual. These characteristics of Papias' writings aren't conclusive in themselves, but they do add weight to the testimony of the many sources who refer to Papias as a disciple of John. Papias does seem to have been familiar with and to have been significantly influenced by the Johannine documents.

It can be added that referring to the apostle John as "the elder" would make even more sense in light of John's likely old age at the time when Papias was alive. Multiple ancient sources independently tell us that the apostle John lived to an old age. See here. The reign of the emperor Trajan is sometimes specified, which is close to the time when Papias would have been involved in church leadership. John was old and died close to the time when Papias would have been around to refer to him as "the elder".

Do we have any significant reason to reject Papias' status as a disciple of John? Not that I'm aware of. There's significant evidence for his relationship with John, but not against it.

As I documented above, Papias refers to a man named John as one of his sources, he places that John in the same category as the apostles, and he refers to that John as "elder" while refraining from applying that term to Aristion. When Papias makes an unqualified reference to "the elder" in his passage on Mark's gospel, he's probably referring to the apostle John.

Sometimes people will argue that there was some other John with whom the apostle was sometimes confused. Often, though, the people who make such an argument (Martin Hengel, Richard Bauckham, etc.) maintain that the second John was also a disciple of Jesus. Thus, the historical testimony of such a second John would have significance similar to that of the son of Zebedee. But the second John theory is dubious, for reasons I explain here and here. The New Testament scholar Donald Guthrie had a great line on this subject. He's discussing Dionysius of Alexandria, a third-century source who speculated about a second John:

"In this Dionysius foreshadowed, as a man born before his due time, those modern schools of criticism which have peopled early Christian history with a whole army of unknown writers, whose works attained as great a prominence as their authors obtained obscurity." (The Logos Library System: Deluxe Collection [Oak Harbor, Washington: Logos Research Systems, 1997], New Testament Introduction)

An appeal to a second John is a double failure in this context. If a second John had the sort of status that Papias' elder had, then the historical significance of his testimony isn't much different than what we would attribute to the testimony of the son of Zebedee. Besides, the evidence weighs against the second John theory.

But remember something I pointed out early on in this article. Even if Papias' elder wasn't the apostle John, the passage I've cited from Papias would be significant evidence related to Jesus' resurrection. Identifying the elder as the apostle John increases the significance of the passage, but the passage is significant regardless. Papias doesn't address the resurrection directly, but he does address it indirectly in a highly significant way in his passage on Mark's gospel.

Before concluding my comments on this passage about the gospel of Mark, I want to address one other potential objection. What if Papias' source, the apostle John, was only saying that some of Mark's gospel was derived from Peter, but not the portions about the resurrection? I don't think that objection holds up, for more than one reason. For one thing, it's an ad hoc restriction on a passage that's more naturally interpreted in a broader sense. Nothing in Papias' passage suggests that resurrection material should be excluded. It's more natural to take the passage as referring to the gospel of Mark in general. Eusebius introduces his quote of Papias by saying that it addresses "Mark, the author of the Gospel". Quoting what Papias said about the gospel in general would be more relevant than quoting what he said only about non-resurrection material within the gospel. Secondly, it seems unlikely that Papias' source, John, would provide such a positive assessment of Mark's gospel if that gospel excluded the resurrection or included a view of the resurrection significantly different than John's (and, by implication, Peter's). And John tells us that Mark recorded "whatsoever" Peter remembered about Jesus' words and deeds. He says that Mark didn't omit anything. How likely is it that Peter either didn't say anything about the resurrection or that Mark happened to be absent every time he did? Given what 1 Corinthians 15 and other early sources say about the prominence of the resurrection in early Christianity, both scenarios are highly unlikely. Furthermore, resurrection material is deeply interwoven into Mark's gospel (Jesus' predictions of His resurrection, the empty tomb account, etc.). The whole gospel leads up to it, which is true of the other gospels as well. Removing the resurrection material would require a major restructuring of Mark's gospel. That fact makes it even more unlikely that Peter taught some sort of Christian message that didn't involve the resurrection or that defined the resurrection in some significantly different way than Mark's gospel does. The idea that Papias' passage on Mark's gospel is only referring to non-resurrection material is dubious.

And I don't think the Mark passage in Papias is all that's relevant to Licona's assessment. Other material in Papias could be cited as well. Eusebius writes the following concerning Papias' premillennialism:

"To these belong his statement that there will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth." (Church History, 3:39)

Presumably, such a "material" view of eschatology involves a physical resurrection. That tells us something about how this disciple of the apostles viewed the nature of the believer's resurrection and, by implication, the resurrection of Jesus.

John Piper books

A collection of John Piper's books is on sale here. Just in time for the holidays.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fictive evil

The so-called problem of evil is probably the most popular objection to theism generally, and Christian theism in particular. The problem of evil is customarily subdivided into the logical problem of evil and the evidential problem of evil.

However, I’d like to redirect the discussion to the fictive problem of evil. By the fictive problem of evil I mean depictions of evil in fiction, such as films, plays, short stories, TV shows, and novels.

Unlike the real world, a novelist, screenwriter, or director has complete control over what happens in the fictive world he creates. Nothing happens that he doesn’t intend to happen. If he doesn’t want something to happen in his fictive world, he can prevent that event by not including it in the plot.

Yet very few moviemakers or novelists choose to make a perfect world. It lies within their power to completely eradicate evil from their fictive universe, to preempt the appearance of evil, yet the utopian genre is pretty rare.

Indeed, even most fictional utopias are disguised dystopias. For instance, a favorite theme in the SF genre is the futuristic utopia of social engineers. Only there’s a catch. In their efforts to make a better world, to eliminate what’s wrong with the world, they also eliminate certain things which make life worthwhile. They create a bland, predictable, antiseptic world. A world that’s too safe, too painless, to be satisfying. A world with tradeoffs, where the cost of a physically and emotionally risk-free existence is a boring existence. Emotionally repressed. Stultified.

For the moment part, moviemakers and novelists richly furnish their fictive worlds with a wide variety of evils. Indeed, they often focus on the sordid features of life. Or horrendous evil.

But even when they don’t accentuate extreme depravity or suffering, they may focus on all the little irritants and disappointments that characterize life in a fallen world. The minor daily frustrations. Indeed, that’s the stuff of comedy. Barking dogs. The obnoxious boss. Traffic jams. Meter maids. Officious in-laws. Petty bureaucrats. And so on and so forth.

So while philosophers and militant atheists gleefully catalogue, and duly deplore, the evils of a fallen world, creative artists are strikingly disinclined to improve on the world set before them. Apparently, an ideal existence is not their ideal.

A Review Of Michael Licona's The Resurrection Of Jesus (Part 3)

Suffering And Martyrdom

Licona makes many good points about the suffering and martyrdom of the resurrection witnesses. I don't have much to add, but I do have a couple of items.

One thing I didn't notice Licona mentioning anywhere is a passage in Ignatius. Here's how the Ignatian scholar Allen Brent renders chapter 12 of Ignatius' letter to the Ephesians:

"You are on the passing of the ways for those slaughtered to attain God, fellow-initiates with Paul who has been sanctified, who has been martyred." (Ignatius Of Antioch [New York, New York: T & T Clark International, 2009], p. 72)

A third-century critic of Christianity, Porphyry, wrote:

"And yet no sooner was he [Paul] seized in Rome than this fine fellow, who said that we should judge angels, had his head cut off. And Peter again, who received authority to feed the lambs, was nailed to a cross and impaled on it. And countless others, who held opinions like theirs, were either burnt, or put to death by receiving some kind of punishment or maltreatment. This is not worthy of the will of God, nor even of a godly man, that a multitude of men should be cruelly punished through their relation to His own grace and faith, while the expected resurrection and coming remains unknown." (The Fragments, 36)

Porphyry is somewhat late, but his testimony has value as coming from a non-Christian source and as a reflection of what was commonly believed by the Christians he was interacting with in his day.

Clement Of Rome

Licona has a section in his book in which he evaluates some of the historical sources relevant to early Christianity, to judge how valuable they are in an investigation of Jesus' resurrection. I disagree with some of his material in that section of the book, partly for reasons I explained earlier in this review. What I want to do now is say more about some of the historical sources he does and doesn't address in that portion of the book. I'll begin with Clement of Rome today, then move on to some other sources tomorrow.

The evidence that Clement of Rome wrote First Clement and was a disciple of the apostles is better than Licona suggests. He writes:

"However, he [Eusebius of Caesarea] does not make a connection between him [Clement of Rome] and the author of 1 Clement." (p. 249)

Actually, Eusebius does make the connection. He refers to Clement as a disciple of the apostles and the author of First Clement:

"In the twelfth year of the same reign Clement succeeded Anencletus after the latter had been bishop of the church of Rome for twelve years. The apostle in his Epistle to the Philippians informs us that this Clement was his fellow-worker. His words are as follows: 'With Clement and the rest of my fellow-laborers whose names are in the book of life'. [Philippians 4:3] There is extant an epistle of this Clement which is acknowledged to be genuine and is of considerable length and of remarkable merit. He wrote it in the name of the church of Rome to the church of Corinth, when a sedition had arisen in the latter church. We know that this epistle also has been publicly used in a great many churches both in former times and in our own." (Church History, 3:15-16)

And elsewhere Eusebius refers to First Clement as "accepted by all" (Church History, 3:38). He acknowledges disputes over other documents, including Biblical documents, so he probably would have acknowledged the existence of disputes over First Clement if he had been aware of any.

Everett Kalin explains that, in the context of the canon of scripture, Eusebius was concerned about "genuine authorship", not just the orthodoxy or usefulness of a document, for example (in Lee McDonald and James Sanders, edd., The Canon Debate [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002], p. 391). In section 3:25 of his church history, Eusebius comments that canonical books must be "true and genuine and commonly accepted". Genuine, as distinguished from true and commonly accepted, seems to be a reference to accurate authorship attribution. He criticizes heretics for publishing works under the name of an apostle, and he notes that the works of heretics can be detected, in part, by the fact that their writing style differs from that of the apostle they're impersonating. He was concerned that the documents not be falsely attributed.

Eusebius makes some comments in his discussion of First Clement that are reminiscent of what he says about the canonical literature. When he refers to the document as "accepted by all", he's probably saying that authorship by Clement is part of what's commonly accepted.

Licona goes on to mention some other sources who refer to Clement as a disciple of the apostles and/or refer to him as the author of First Clement. Licona writes:

"Tertullian (ca. A.D. 160-220) wrote of a Clement ordained by Peter for the church in Rome, but makes no mention of 1 Clement." (p. 249)

In the passage in question (The Prescription Against Heretics, 32), Tertullian is addressing church leadership, so we wouldn't have any reason to expect him to discuss documents that were written by those church leaders. He was identifying church leaders, not identifying their writings.

There's a significant aspect of the passage that Licona doesn't mention. Tertullian attributes his information about Peter and Clement to the records of the Roman church.

Licona mentions that Irenaeus both associates First Clement with Clement of Rome and identifies Clement as a disciple of the apostles. That's a significant piece of evidence. He also cites some other sources: Dionysius of Corinth, Clement of Alexandria, and pseudo-Ignatius.

But there are some he doesn't mention. Origen attributes First Clement to Clement of Rome and refers to him as a disciple of the apostles (Commentary On The Gospel Of John, 6:36). So does Jerome (Lives Of Illustrious Men, 15). Epiphanius refers to Clement as a disciple of the apostles (Panarion, 27:6), and it should be noted that he might be getting his information from Hegesippus, a second-century source. There's some significant evidence that he used some of Hegesippus' material in the passage in question. But we don't know whether his information on Clement in particular is derived from Hegesippus. See here.

There are other patristic sources who make similar comments. I'm not attempting to document all of the relevant passages. These are some representative examples.

First Clement would be a significant document even if Clement didn't write it or he wrote it, but wasn't a disciple of the apostles. It's a first-century document written by one apostolic church to another apostolic church. But if Clement did write the document, and he was a disciple of the apostles, then it becomes even more significant, as Licona rightly notes (p. 255). There is no reason to reject Clement's relationship with the apostles or his authorship of First Clement. And the evidence for those conclusions is early, widespread, and includes some testimony from Roman and Corinthian sources.