In this episode, Kurt talks with Chris Date about the authenticity of some of the epistles in the Bible. Did Paul write the Pastoral letters?
Listen to “Episode 149: The Disputed Pauline Letters” on Spreaker.
Kurt: Well, a good day to you. And thanks for joining us here on another episode of veracity hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. Despite what Chris might say, spring is here, Chris, as you may know, for those devoted followers, Chris is a big fan of winter time. And spring has kind of you know, given us a, I don’t know, a scare, it’s been cool. It was hot for a couple days and was cold. And then we had a hit crazy hailstorm a couple nights ago, woke up my whole family at any rate. The weather today is beautiful here in downtown West Chicago, where you may hear people chatting about having fun, it’s blooming Fest in West Chicago, the town’s festival. And so it’s actually going to be ending in a couple hours. So you might hear a little kids screaming as they’re going by. But I think I think I can promise no fire trucks on today’s episode. Of course, these are sort of just like Easter eggs for some of our hardcore followers. On today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about some of the disputed Paul line letters. But first, before we jump into our discussion today, I have a couple of announcements. First, defenders media is hiring. We are looking to hire a communications and administrative assistant. Chris here has this up. You can see I’m logged into WordPress, we make WordPress sites here but here’s the description. If you live in the Chicagoland area and you want to join our team, please check out defenders media.com/jobs. Some of the duties for this position include helping out Veracity Hill on a regular basis with scheduling guests and coming up with the bio and things like that just saves us a little bit of time. But also some social media work it’d be great to have someone help build this program out with us and build other ministries as well with defenders media. So we’d love to have you apply if you’re interested in local. I have considered letting the job be remote, some of the tasks that would have to change. So if you’re interested in helping out defenders on a regular basis 10 to 20 hours a week. It’s flexible. I want to see if we can find someone who’s really good at what they want to do here for us. So we’d love to have you all right last week. We were unable to get to one of the listener questions that came in so without further ado. Oh that sound that jingle man. I love that jingle. If you want me to play that jingle more frequently on the show, would you consider sending in a question there a couple of ways you can do that. Just email me Kurt at veracity hill.com. You can also join our texting plan text word veracity to 555888. And you’ll join our list from time to time I send a text message out letting folks know what the guest upcoming guest is or quick reminder to tune into our program. And so yeah, totally free for you. But if you want to, you know, send a question and I can receive that this way. So here’s the question this week, it deals with the realm of ethics. It’s a bit more of a technical question, but it shouldn’t be too far from our understanding. So the question is about how moral truths can exist. So I’m loading up the question here. If I can pull it up from Billy, Gambone or Gamboni. I’m not sure how to pronounce your last name, Billy, but thank you for your question. Here it is. He said. He asks, How would you respond to a non theist who claims that objective moral facts and obligations are just axiomatically brute facts? So well, he continues that have no need for explanation. I was just curious since your well written ethics, I want to see your point of view. Thank you, Billy.
Kurt: All right. Some technical terms here axiomatically brute facts. Basically, what he’s saying is, what happens if an atheist comes up to you and says, Well, objective morals just exist? They just are. So I think there are some things that are brute facts, but what I would be concerned about with regard to morality is what? What binds these alleged brute facts to our actions. Maybe hypothetically, they exist out there in the ethos somewhere, I mean, moral facts are immaterial, so it’s not like you can discover them by performing a science experiment. But what binds these alleged ethical, objective, ethical truths to the way we behave today? There doesn’t seem to be anything that would do that. And so I, I would certainly think there’s a better explanation for how objective morality exists. And that’s because it, they exist in the nature and what we receive as through the commands of God. So I hold to sort of a modified divine command theory approach to ethics. But I believe, I think that’s the way I would respond and say, What would bind these alleged brute facts? There’s nothing that actually brings that connection between these propositional truths and US forming our behavior to fit with them. There’s nothing there. There’s no obligation that actually exists there. So a good question. Of course, there’s all sorts of literature on that, and there are philosophers debating it. If you want to follow up, I’d be happy to give you some further resources. All right.
Kurt: So before getting into our discussion today, I do want to say this if you are interested in learning more from Christian thinkers on what they have to say, about ethics and morality, well, there’s a great book out there right now recently came out by Kenneth samples. Many of us pick up Christian theology and history in a piecemeal way, making it difficult to understand its significance. But in his new book, classic Christian thinkers, philosopher and theologian, Kenneth samples offers a masterful summary of the lives of Christianity’s greatest defenders. The history of these nine timeless truth seekers, overflows from the pages of the Bible into history itself, take a step toward a richer faith by visiting reasons.org/veracity and order your copy of classic Christian thinkers today. So again, reasons.org/veracity. And you can pick up samples, Ken samples recent book, and if it hadn’t had the chance yet, it was probably about a month or so ago. Now. We had him on the program to talk about that book. So I want to encourage you to go and listen to that and hear about the great guys that are out there in, in Christian history, many people we can learn from. Alright, so without further ado, our guest today is is this is his third time on the program. And he is a prolific debater. He is a well read, he does theology and community. And that’s one thing I appreciate about him. And well, I don’t just don’t agree with him on many things. He and I are spiritual brothers, certainly in Christ and spiritual brothers of the ecumenical sort. And I have said it publicly that he has spanked a number of people on the *unintelligible*, Chris date. Thank you for joining us on the program today.
Chris Date: As usual, it’s my honor. And pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Kurt: Yes. Let me also say this. While I say there are many things we disagree on, there are, of course, more things we do. I don’t want to give the picture there. But I could think of two main things we presently disagree on it would it would be your reformed and also your view on the doctrine of hell. But I think those are probably the two biggest things.
Chris Date: I’ll add one more that’s relevant, since you just read an advert from Reasons to Believe. I’m also not an old earth creationist. Yeah, I’m a young earth creationist, so there’s that one.
Kurt: That’s right. That is another one. That’s right. Yeah, you remember that? Good. Yeah. So that’s three things. So but of course, there are many more things we do agree upon. Right. Amen. Yes. And so like I said, I mean, you have a look. And I say, I say this because I, it happened to me. So when I was in college, this guy, Nick, you know, Nick, Nick quit. Yeah, he Yeah. He emailed me saying, hey, Kurt, would you put a blog post together explaining it was something vague, like, explain the doctrine of hell? Or you know, and I thought, okay, he’s just, you know, I’m thinking popular audience something like this. He said, uh, yeah, I’m gonna get some other blog posts together. And like, I feel and I’ve told this today, I feel like I’ve been set I was set up I mean, so I just got a rightful spanking because I just didn’t come prepared. Now, that said, there are people in the theological community who are are aware of what they’re getting into as in like, a formal debate with you. And and I’m happy to say this, you just come very prepared and many folks on the traditionalist side. I’m not sure if you’d like that label. I forget what you mean.
Chris: I think traditionalist is fine, because I don’t we conditionalists don’t use that word to mean that believers in eternal torment only believe in and defend it because it’s traditional. We’re just saying it is the traditional view. That’s all
Kurt: Right, right. Yeah. So traditionalists go in and they’re just for whatever reason, they just aren’t aren’t prepared. So like, you know, if ever, I get around to debating you, I know I’m gonna have to listen to any material you’ve got out there. Read material and just come ready. Because Chris is an avid debater I mean, he packs in 20 minutes of material in 10 minutes is very fast speaker. So, but on today’s program, hopefully we’re just going to be shooting the breeze here talking about the disputed Pauline letters, and specifically, we’ll probably get into the pastorals. But so let me first ask this, Chris, when we talk about the disputed Pauline letters, what does that mean? What does that refer to?
Chris Date: Yeah, so of the 13 letters in the New Testament that are attributed to Paul, scholars sort of categorize them into two. Well, two categories. One is the undisputed Pauline letters, these are the letters that all scholars or virtually all scholars agree were written by Paul, both on conservative ends of the spectrum and on the liberal end of the spectrum. And there are seven of the 13. So we’re talking Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians Galatians, Philippians, 1st Thessalonians, and Philemon or Philemon, or however you wanna pronounce. The other six, however, we’re talking Ephesians, Colossians, and 2nd Thessalonians, as well as the three pastoral. First and second, Timothy and Titus. Those are called disputed because some percentage or another of the biblical scholarship disputes that they are, in fact, Pauline, and within those six disputed letters, there’s still a further sub categorization. There are two of them, that the scholarship is kind of evenly divided over whether they’re authentic or not. So about 50% of scholars think that Colossians and Second Thessalonians are, are truly Pauline, whereas 50% think otherwise. But when it comes to Ephesians, and the pastoral is something like 80%, or more of biblical scholarship, would say that those are not truly not truly appalling.
Kurt: Okay, and so, before even getting into the arguments, specifically, what would be a general overview of why they think it’s not written by Paul himself?
Chris Date: Yeah, so there are a number of features that the disputed letters exhibit that critics claim suggest. They claim, suggest that the letters don’t, aren’t actually Pauline. So for example, one of the things and this is particularly the case with the past orals is it’s it’s argued that the chronology of certain events referred to in the pastorals doesn’t line up with the chronology in Act, or in the undisputed letters, vocabulary of the disputed letters is sometimes alleged to be markedly different from the vocabulary that Paul uses in the letters acknowledged to be truly Pauline. And the content, the theology, the instructions, things like that of the disputed Pauline letters are argued to be in certain significant ways different from the content of other books, you know, the meanings of words, the theological concepts, things like that. So these are kind of the three biggest reasons I’ve found. There are probably others, but these I think, are the three most common.
Kurt: Okay, yeah. So you get folks like Bart Ehrman, who would say that, you know, these things are not authentic to Paul, and correct me if I’m wrong, but one of the things would be like vocabulary, word choice, even analyzing that, between if we’re looking at just the past sterols from within this group. So what what is it about vocabulary words? Because they think Paul doesn’t have certain words in his vocabulary and can’t, you know, write letters later in his life about that? What’s the thinking there?
Chris Date: Yeah, well, so to give you a specific example, there’s something like 850 individual words used in the pastorals, and of those 850, over a third of them don’t appear anywhere else in Paul’s letters. And what’s more, there’s a higher concentration in the pastorals of hapax legomenon, the words that only appear once in the New Testament, there’s a higher concentration of those in the past worlds than there is in the other Pauline letters. So that’s so that’s one aspect that the language is just argued to be so unique, so different from instead, apart from the language that Paul uses elsewhere. And I don’t think that they would say, Paul couldn’t use different language, from congregation to congregation, but they would use they would cite this as one, one part of the category of vocabulary that points to they’re being synonymous or super full.
Kurt: Yeah. So when you say that these letters have 1/3 of the words don’t appear in any of the letters and that it’s a higher concentration. So what you’re saying is like, let’s take first Corinthians which vast majority of scholars say is Paul line, or you know what percentage of the words there are not used anywhere else and I mean, I don’t like you probably don’t know off the top of your head, but is, you know, ballpark like 10% As opposed to 33%?
Chris Date: Yeah, I don’t even have that ballpark. But here’s what I do have something of the 2500 distinct words attributed to Paul throughout the New Testament? Around half of them appear in just one letter or another. Yeah, right. Right. So so this is, this is much ado about nothing. The evidence, I think, suggests that Paul simply enjoys using a variety of vocabulary at different times and for different recipients. And look, I’ve been writing now for something like 10 years, or maybe five years, depending upon whether you want to go back to before I started my higher education. And just in that five year span of time, you’re gonna see a quite a change and a development in the vocabulary I use, not only because of changing conditions and changing audiences, but just also because I’m growing and learning and maturing. And no doubt Paul continued to learn and grow and develop his understanding of Christian doctrine and stuff and pass it on. And so you would expect that his he would choose different language for different audiences?
Kurt: Yeah. One of the thoughts out there is for why it’s a it’s a late letter, it’s super powerful, is because you see some of the Church Fathers using that language. And so some scholars think, you know, oh, well, you know, that means it was probably written in the second century. But of course, that’s, that’s a non sequitur, right. That doesn’t follow it very well could be the case that the Church Fathers had read the pestle orals, and so then apply the same vocabulary words.
Chris Date: Yeah, that’s right. And what’s more of the, the vocabulary of the pastoral is, although it is more popular in the second century, which as you pointed out, would be expected. Nevertheless, over 90% of that vocabulary can be found in extra biblical writings dating to before 50 ad. So there’s nothing in the pastorals in terms of vocabulary that doesn’t fit well within a first century context.
Kurt: So some people might think we’re just jumping right into this, here. Let me let me let me ask you, you know, why is this important for average churchgoers to be aware of the authenticity of the letter?
Chris Date: Well, I suppose it depends on what the individual person whether or not the typical person has a problem accepting as canonical and as authoritative. A letter attributed to Paul wasn’t actually written by Paul, some, and I don’t think this is as much true of lay Christians as much as it is of scholars, but Scott, but at least scholars, many of them are willing to treat. letters that are attributed to Paul but aren’t really they don’t think are written by Paul as authoritative because they’re canonical, they were deemed authoritative by the early church, even if the early church was wrong about who wrote them. But I think that for most lay Christians, the idea that a document meant to exhort and instruct Christians could truly be authentic, authentic and Holy Spirit inspired, you know, God breathed 2nd Timothy 316. I don’t think I think a lot of us have trouble believing that Christian scripture could actually lie, in the sense that it is, it is purported to be written by somebody who it’s not actually written by. So my concern with this issue, the issue of the Pauline authorship of the letters of the New Testament is that I think a lot of Christians are going to have their faith shaken. If they are convinced that the evidence is good for disbelieving in the authenticity of certain Pauline letters.
Kurt: You said that a lot of people would feel uncomfortable. But what do we have to be? What do we have to feel uncomfortable if, say, 2nd Timothy weren’t actually written by Paul?
Chris Date: You know, being somebody who believes Paul did write Second Timothy, I’m not so sure I can answer that question effectively. I, I suppose a persuasive philosophical case could be made that an archeological case could be made that no, we don’t have to, in order to treat it as as authoritative. But I’m not as concerned with what we must or mustn’t do. I’m more concerned with the effect it’s going to have on the church at large.
Kurt: Well, so let’s take the book of Hebrews. No one knows the author. Now, that’s maybe that’s a little different, because it’s different than saying, you know, Paul to Timothy. So one is just sort of anonymous, whereas the other one claims to be written by a person. So maybe that’s where that differences but But nonetheless, I mean, even an anonymous text still has spiritual value we can see it’s clearly written by someone who is a Christian in you know, we would say the first century and within you know, one degree of the apostles so that that it would qualify to remain in the canon seems like a good candidate.
Chris Date: Yeah, but like you said, I think the big difference between Hebrews and the disputed Pauline letters is that there’s an ethical concern here. Are we comfortable with the notion that an author who’s writing is meant to exhort and instruct Christians, Christians who, who above almost all else elevate truth, you know, to the level of importance that such a writing could pretend to be written by somebody it’s not. There seems to be an ethical concern there that simply anonymous letter doesn’t face.
Kurt: Yeah, yeah. Good. All right. So give me the arguments again, against Pauline. I want to make notes here, and then we’ll cover the reasons why looking in depth at this stuff.
Chris Date: Well, and maybe it makes maybe it would behoove us to mention why it is that maybe we’re focusing a little more on the past orals and the other disputed epistles because, you know, I mentioned that 80% of scholars reject the Pauline authorship of the past orals and of Ephesians. But, but what’s interesting is that the scholars argue that the past orals are more obviously super powerful than any of the other disputed letters. So if it can be shown that the evidence against the Pauline authorship of the past orals is not very good, and that the evidence for their Pauline authorship is good, then that would give us reasons to you know, all the more reasons to accept the Pauline authorship of the other disputed letters, because presumably, the evidence against their authorship wouldn’t be as good as for the as against the the pestle orals. So that’s kind of why I focused on the pastoral roles in my undergraduate in the article that I pointed you to. And here’s another argument that is offered against the Pauline authorship of the pastoral as I mentioned chronology. And I’ll give you a specific example. In First Timothy one, three, the author claims to have left Timothy behind at Ephesus while he himself left for Macedonia. Okay, but if you go, but if you go look at Acts 19:22. It’s Paul who stays in Ephesus, and since Timothy with Erastus, to Macedonia, so it seems or it’s argued that the pastoral epistle gets the historical detail here exactly wrong. And also, the author of Titus speaks have a mission to Crete and of themselves staying at Nicopolis, and Acts makes no mention of these things. So the argument here is that not only are there events mentioned in the past orals that don’t appear anywhere else in the New Testament, but also when events are mentioned. They’re often not just in conflict, but the exact opposite of what is said elsewhere in authentic letters.
Kurt: So, for the chronology, I mean, I wouldn’t have a problem with that Titus reference, right? Just because Luke doesn’t mention something in Acts doesn’t mean Paul didn’t do it. No problem there. It seems like there may be a larger concern, though there with 1st Timothy, if there’s a reference. So how would you square that?
Chris Date: I would just simply point out, there’s no reason at least that I can think of for assuming that if an event in Acts and an event mentioned in 1st Timothy, just because they share some of the same names and historical places and stuff doesn’t mean that they’re actually talking about the same event. You know, I’ve been to London, for example, something like three times now. So if I were to write about those three things, you’re gonna see me refer to plane flights to London, and you’re gonna see me mentioned, I’ve stayed at the same hotel each time I’ve gone to London, you’re gonna see a lot of similarities. But, but if I mentioned some details in each of the three that seem to conflict with one another, you might think maybe he’s not contradicting himself. Maybe he’s just talking about three different events. So I don’t see why it couldn’t be the case that x records a case where Paul does indeed send Timothy and Erasmus off to Macedonia while he remains an ethicist, whereas Paul speaks in first Timothy about something like the opposite, where Paul is the one who goes to Ephesus or to Macedonia, while leaving Timothy behind at Ephesus.
Kurt: Yeah, so just two different occasions here. Yeah, I don’t see what the problem with that is. Yeah, it’s certainly logically compatible. Yeah, sure. Yep. All right. Nice. Okay, so we’ve got chronology. We talked a little bit about the vocabulary. Bit, Did we miss anything there?
Chris Date: Well, so I think the one thing we missed is that there are some words in the past orals that are argued by people like airman to have theological meanings that are not the same meanings they have another letter, so I’ll give you one example. Airman argues that in the genuine Pauline letters, the Greek word pistis, meaning faith, refers to a saving trust in Jesus right one saving faith in Christ. But he argues that in the past Durrells, the Greek word pistis means something like a body of teaching, the body of Christian teaching the faith, so not once faith, but the faith. So you do have this argument where the meaning of the vocabulary is different as well.
Kurt: Because apparently, we can’t have multiple definitions for the same word.
Chris: Right? It’s absurd. I mean, all all Greek words, just like words in other languages have a semantic range and there’s no reason to think that that would be a problem. But but, but it goes beyond that. Pistis does in fact, refer to a body of Christian doctrine in the Pauline corps.. corpus in places like First Corinthians 16:13, Second Corinthians 13:5, Galatians 1:23 and others. And that same is true of the other words in the past orals that people like Ehrman argue means something different. You can find cases where they’re used in the same way in the in the undisputed Pauline corpus.
Kurt: Good, good. All right. Why don’t we head to our break here? We’ve got to take a break, Chris. But when we come back, we’ll continue looking at the reasons for disputing the polling letters and why those reasons seem insufficient. I’m learning quite a bit myself on today’s program. And if you’re tuning in with us, I hope you are too. We’re joined by Chris state, today of rethinking hell and an avid debater and a friend of mine. And he’s talking to us about the disputed Pauline letters. Stick with us through this short break from our sponsors.
Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. If you want to learn how you can become a sponsor, you can go to our website veracity hill.com and click on that patron tab. And sponsors are folks that well, folks like Chris here with rethinking hell, they’ve been supporting the program for a long time now. And we play air the advertisement for them lots of great resources at their website rethinking hell.com great articles and the podcast there. I mean, you’ve got like 100 Plus episodes devoted to that subject matter. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, it was sort of in the project that you and Glenn Peoples sort of just undertook. And it sort of took off on its own, hasn’t it?
Chris Date: Well, Glen and I were both invited to be a part of rethinking hell when it began, but I wouldn’t characterize it as sort of our project. There are others. There’s a guy named Joey Deer, that’s a good friend of mine who actually was instrumental in my becoming convinced of it. Another friend of mine, Ronnie Demler, periodically is involved. Peter Grice. Greg Stump. There’s a lot of people involved. Yeah. Yeah, by the way. And by the way, now, your listeners know why I’m on your show for a third time now. You have to because we’re paying you to…
Kurt: Yeah, right, no. We’ve had a number of multi appearance guests. But certainly I enjoy having you on. And, you know, it’s, it’s always great. I feel like sometimes I drink from a fire hydrant when listening to you. Not just during the show as well. But sometimes when I tune into some of the other things you’re doing,
Chris Date: which I know, I’m known for speaking probably more quickly than I ought to. Yeah.
Kurt: But hey, as long as people can process the information. I mean, that’s, you know,
Chris Date: but that’s the question, right? I don’t know, oftentimes, they might not be able to, I guess I just sort of assumed that in today’s technological, technological age. If I’m, if it’s being recorded, they can just To turn down the speed and listen, but I really do that is an area of growth I need to undergo, I need to learn how to speak a little bit more clearly and slowly.
Kurt: Well, I mean, to me, you’re so clear, it’s not like you’re mumbling over your words. It’s just really fast.
Chris Date: Yeah, well, you’re probably on the higher end of the, you know, reading or listening comprehension and IQ scale than perhaps others. I don’t know. So could be,
Kurt: could be. Yeah, it does depend on your audience. But in your formal debates, it seems like a great tactic is just being able to fit in more within the time.
Chris Date: Maybe I think it’s a double edged sword, you do get more evidence in but at the same time, many of your hearers are going to digest what you say less than they would have if you had said less. So it’s always a double edged sword, you’ve got to kind of strike the right balance. It’s not easy.
Kurt: True, true. Before the end of the program today, I want to get into your debate with… there’s some car horn. How about that?
Chris Date: Yeah, you were just telling me about that.
Kurt: I want to ask you about a debate you recently had with Leighton flowers on the unbelievable program. But I want to say that towards the end. Let me ask you this, though, about your debates. I mean, how long have you been debating? What got you interested in that?
Chris Date: Well, my very first debate was when I was almost 100%, convinced of conditional ism, and I guess this would have been back, I don’t know something like five years ago, my memory is a little fuzzy. And most of my debates since then have been on the topic of hell. And there have been a number of them both informal and formal. So I’ve had like, for example, an in person formal debate with a fellow apologist named Phil Fernandez, who’s just an awesome guy. But then I’ve also had informal debates on unbelievable with people like Al Mohler. On the topic of traditionalism. Sorry, not five years ago, more like, sorry, I was like, I’m looking at my graduation sign above my monitors, which says 2017, but I forgot. Oh, wait, it’s 2019. Now, so anyway, more like seven years. But but not long ago, a few years ago, I started dipping my debate toes into other waters, as you mentioned, with Layton flowers on the topic of Calvinism. And then I’ve got an upcoming debate here, just actually in less than two weeks in Minneapolis with a Unitarian named Dale tuggy. We’re going to be debating the deity of Christ, I’ll be affirming it, he’ll be denying it. And yeah, I would love for people to come and visit that. So anyway, yeah, I’ve just I’m trying to debate an increasing number of topics because I don’t I guess I guess I don’t want to be seen as a one trick pony. And I want people to see that. Conditional lists are just as committed to the essentials of the faith and to conservative doctrines and things. As as you know, our traditionalist brothers and sisters in Christ.
Kurt: Now you are a computer programmer by trade. I know. But this is like seems like your bread and butter stuff. What’s your plan here in the future?
Chris: It’s all depends on what the Lord is willing to do. I know, I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to one day, if possible transition from software to teaching, I’d like to teach at the university or seminary level. And to that end, I started my undergraduate in religion at Liberty University in 2014. In 2017, I began my master’s in theology at Fuller, which is where I’m at now. And I’m a few, just a few quarters away from graduating, at which point I hope to go on to a PhD program in the Old Testament at a UK school and then hopefully, thereafter, eventually, get a teaching job. But teaching is a very competitive field. And I don’t anticipate getting a job…
Kurt: It doesn’t pay as well as the computer program, I’m sure.
Chris Date: Nowhere near as well as software does. But you know, that’s I don’t care about the money. I want to do the teaching. But the market is difficult. And so the challenge that’s going to that I’m going to face is I intend to continue doing full time software all throughout my PhD so that when I come out the other end of it, I’ve still got a job.
Chris Date: And then I can just sort of sit back and relax and let the teaching opportunities…
Kurt: …up. And boom, yeah. Nice. Great. Great. All right. Let’s see here. Oh, before we jump back into the discussion, let me ask you about the Rethinking hell conferences that you’ve been putting on?
Chris Date: Yeah, thanks for that. Yeah, we’ve been putting on conferences. Since I think 2014. We began in Houston. And then we went to, oh, gosh, Pasadena at Fuller Seminary. And then the next year, we went to London, and then the following year, we went to Auckland, New Zealand. Last year we went to,…
Kurt: if you want to pay my way to go to Auckland, I’d be happy to take you up on that.
Chris Date: Well, I since your specialty isn’t hell, we probably won’t be paying your way to be a plenary speaker, but that’s true. Yeah. And then we last year, we were in Dallas Fort Worth this year, and this is coming up in just a few months, August 16th and 17th. We’re gonna be going to Oklahoma. And we’re going to be talking about hell and the gospel. So we’re going to be discussing things like how central to the gospel is one particular view of hell over another you know, However the what’s the relationship between the gospel and hell, things like that. And besides me, we’re also going to have somebody you’re well acquainted with Jonathan Pritchett of Trinity College and
Kurt: Pritchett Prime.
Chris Date: That’s right prime. Yeah, he’s gonna be one of the one of the plenary speakers. There’s also going to be Marvin Jones, assistant professor of theology and church history at Louisiana college. And then another guy, you’re familiar with our probably our mutual friend, Lindsey Brooks, who was on the apologetics.com radio show, he’s gonna be one of the plenary speakers as well. So we’re gonna have an interesting mix of traditionalists in the case of doctors Jones and Lindsey Brooks, conditional lists in my case, and then someone who’s sort of on the fence in the in the form of Jonathan Pritchett, and then we’ll have a few interesting breakout sessions as well, including Dr. James Spiegel, a philosopher, who is Yeah, who just recently published a book on hell and philosophy. So that’ll be interesting as well.
Kurt: So you said that was August? What are the dates,
Chris Date: August 16, and 17. And it’s in Enid, Oklahoma. And if people want to get more details and purchase tickets and things they can go to rethinking hell conference.com
Kurt: Got it. Great. Well, I’m glad I followed up about the date and location there because James is tuning in, was asking about where in Oklahoma, he lives on the borders. Hopefully, James Dorsey is able to come to that event. So Well, I hope
Chris Date: to see you there, James. I don’t know how far Enid is from from wherever he is. I think it’s something like an hour or so drive away from like, you know, Oklahoma City, so it might be a little bit out of the way for some people. Hopefully people are willing to put up with the drive though.
Kurt: Yes, yes. All right. Well, let’s jump back into our discussion on the disputed I say Pauline but you say Pauline,
Chris Date: Potato, potato, Augustine Augustine.
Kurt: We have that debate just with Ken samples.
Chris Date: Obviously Agugustine.
Kurt: see I go closer to the Latin …it’s really augustinus. But at any rate Samples I think had a reply to even my my position I hadn’t heard of before. I forget what it is. I’ll have to go back. I’m stubborn, it’s…
Chris Date: You’re not that stubborn. I am I’m well known for being stubborn.
Kurt: Okay, so we’ve talked about the chronological aspects, the vocabulary to the disputed Pauline letters. What about the content, though? What is it about the content that makes some scholars go? Probably not written by Paul?
Chris Date: Yeah. So there are kind of two issues here. One has to do with the the ecclesiology of the pastorals and mentions Presbyterians and deacons and things like that. And the argument is that hierarchy that church structure is a later development and it’s not something that features in in the first century. That’s not something I covered a lot in my article, but I don’t think it’s a persuasive argument. The one that I interacted more with is the claim that the the false teachings that Paul appears to be trying to combat and encouraging Timothy and Titus to combat it. It’s argued that it reflects a Gnosticism that isn’t popular until the second century. And so if what Paul is disputing in these letters isn’t a view that exists until the next century. Well, then, quite obviously, it couldn’t be original Paul.
Kurt: Again, though, that seems like I mean, why couldn’t there be development in his lifetime? Within a few years? I mean, even let’s see, where do folks stand on Galatians?
Chris Date: Galatians is one of the undisputed Pauline apostle epistles,
Kurt: right, okay. Now in Galatians, chapter one, he says, If I or anyone else brings a message other than what I delivered to you, let them be an anathema. So Paul is fully aware here of teachings contrary to what he has taught. So there are sort of, you know,
Chris Date: yeah, but to be fair to play the disputants advocate. The issue isn’t just that Paul is dealing with issues that he doesn’t discuss elsewhere in the epistles, it’s that he’s dealing with issues that it has argued, don’t even exist.
Kurt: Oh, right.
Chris Date: Until the second century.
Kurt: Yeah. So I mean to that, though, I’d say, Well, what if these are sort of the first signs of early development of that view?
Chris: That’s exactly right. Yeah, that’s the thing that the pastoral is do not detail these false teachings in such a way that we can be confident they’re talking about second century Gnosticism. There are shared elements, but what is talked about in these pastoral epistles is, if anything, sort of a nascent, or a nascent cost Gnosticism are a precursor to Gnosticism that share some of the same elements but isn’t as yet developed. So that seems perfectly consistent with the first century Paul.
Kurt: Yeah, yeah. Okay, so we’ve got the chronology, vocabulary and content. And while we’ve sort of addressed why these arguments aren’t that good, maybe we should look at some of the arguments in favor of Pauline authorship. So for example, you know, one of the things a historian might look at is, you know, or li add an attestation. I mean, you’ve got the document itself. But what about outside the document? Are there folks? And how close are these folks to the first century? Who say, “Yeah, 2nd Timothy was written by Paul.
Chris Date: Yeah. So for example, Polycarp. He’s what first or second century and he affirms the Pauline authorship of at least one or more of the apostle of the epistle, the pastoral epistles. ihren, as of Leo, who’s late second century, I think he also does so as well. So yeah, you have very early attestation, that, that attributes Pauline authorship to these letters. And it’s interesting, by the way, in the case of Polly Polycarp. And Aaron as because if what the author of the pastoral epistles is combating is a later second century developed Gnosticism Why are early second century authors like Polycarp, attributing the these letters to Paul, that just doesn’t make any sense?
Kurt: Yeah, yeah, that’s…
Chris Date: so yeah, no, go ahead.
Kurt: I was gonna say it’s a weird workaround. And maybe all of a sudden, you’d have to have in order to be consistent, you’d have some scholars scheme, saying, well, Polycarp and you say your and as their their later actually, or maybe they’re disputed. So all sudden, everything’s just disputed?
Chris Date: Yeah, it’s there’s no consistency in this argumentation. And I don’t mean that as an insult. I’m just saying, it seems to me that these kinds of arguments against the Pauline authorship are just, they’re real, they’re really reaching. And they’re not consistent with one another.
Kurt: So what other reasons might we have for thinking that Paul did in fact write it?
Chris Date: Well, so besides the early Christian witness, which obviously stretches beyond just polycarbonate, and as there’s also the stated recipients of the pastoral letters, and here’s what I mean by that. And this is something that Richard Bauckham talks about in his treatment of the past orals, if the past orals were written by a second century author, to people, but as if it was Paul, who was writing to a first century recipient, then there would be there would need to be something in the letters to sort of bridge the gap. In other words, in order to make what Paul is purportedly talking to his first century audience about to bridge the gap between that and what the real author intends his real recipients to get from it, right? If there, it would be totally irrelevant to the second century context. If all, Paul, if all the author’s doing is talking about things that were relevant to a first century audience. So there needs to be some, but at the same time, if it’s totally irrelevant to the first century, nobody’s gonna buy that it’s actually Paul. So there needs to be something in the text that sort of bridges that gap. And the problem is, there’s no such thing that the passwords just don’t contain enough detail to bridge that gap. But on the other hand, if the passwords are truly from Paul to Timothy, as I think they were, Paul doesn’t need to go into a lot of details about the issues at hand, because Timothy is already familiar with them. So all Paul needs to do is make passing incidental references to them. Timothy is good to know is going to know what Paul’s talking about. So it makes it perfectly applicable applicable there. But it lacks this Bridging the Gap mechanism that would make it applicable to a second century audience.
Kurt: Yeah, that’s an interesting point. Yeah, that bridge between the two different time periods, there’s gotta be a reason for it. Yeah, yeah.
Chris Date: Another one we could turn to and for here, I’m going to turn to somebody that you’ve kind of bumped heads with a little bit is Lydia McGrew. And, you know, I’m not going to touch dispute between you guys with a 10 foot pool. She does do good work, I think on undesigned coincidences between various of the Gospels and Epistles and acts. And and I think there are a number of these undesigned coincidences in the past orals. And the reason this is important is because if super powerful writings, they by the very nature of trying to pretend to be an author, they’re not they need to make obvious similarities in their writings on similarities to the real ones, right? It’s a way of giving the letters verisimilitude, and making them appear to be real. But there are a number of similarities between the past orals and other writings that are not obvious. They’re just incidental. They appear to be completely unintentional, by the author. And I’ll give you one example of that. Let’s take a few Yeah. Oh, yeah, sure, we can discuss a few of them. So the author of Second Timothy writes that his recipient has been taught the Scriptures from childhood This isn’t Second Timothy 314 of 15, by his grandmother and mother. And this the Greek phrase here is sacred writings, and it’s how Greek speaking Jews refer to the Old Testament. And it’s, and it’s not used anywhere else in the New Testament, this way of referring referring to the to the sacred writings. And this seems to point to the recipients Jewish background. Now this fits really well together with the details recorded in Acts chapter 16, where Timothy is said to be the son of a believing Jewish woman, and a Greek man would To explain why in Second Timothy, the author indicates that his recipient is familiar with the Torah since he was a child, and mentions his grandmother, because his grandmother would have been Jewish but and mother but not his father. So here’s an example where there’s no real point, you know, there’s no, it’s clear that the author doesn’t intend to recall Acts Chapter 16, when mentioning these details, but yet the details correlate so well together, that it seems to be evidence that it is in fact genuine.
Kurt: Yeah. So let me if I can try to push back a little,
Chris Date: Please, yeah.
Kurt: So let’s say let me play the disputants advocate here. Sure. So I won’t just push back as someone who also thinks it’s Paul line, I’ll push back as a disputants. Advocate. Let’s suppose you live in the second century, and you’re trying to come up with material that you think would be beneficial for the faith community, and you’re surveying the relevant New Testament documents. And you see here that, you know, Timothy is, you know, the son of a Jewish woman. So you you decide to now write in this, you know, fake letter about his mother and grandmother raising him in the sacred writings. So with that, with that sort of, you know, it seems like that might be a defeater. And then you just get into probabilities, you know,
Chris Date: right. And that is the thing with this, this particular argument in the overall case is it’s all about probabilities, what is the likelihood that these seemingly incidental because again, these are not emphatic that, you know, real clear parallels, they don’t just jump off the page, you have to sort of deduce. Okay, he’s using language that that that points implicitly back to a Jewish background. And, and he mentions only the grandmother and mother but not the father. That doesn’t jump off the page as a connection to Acts chapter 16. It’s sort of it takes a little bit of unpacking, you don’t I mean, it does, yeah. And then Moreover, there are other examples of this, too, that, you know, if you want to maybe include a link to the show notes, to my article, they can see other examples of these undesigned coincidences. And so you’ve got to, it’s an overall cumulative case, that’s got to be challenged. And I don’t think that what you’ve just offered suffices to do that,
Kurt: Right, Yeah, you’d have to buy into sort of other background evidence to get into Bayesian probability theory. So it would require believing in you know, that the situation arose differently.
So what and again, you’ve got to ask yourself, are the readers who this second century author is trying to fool into thinking he’s Paul, are they really going to be piecing apart language so carefully that they would detect this similarity to act 16 and other similar similarities? I don’t think it’s likely they would.
Kurt: All right. Before closing off this topic. What about I mean, how does the How did the pastorals compared to other disputed Pauline letters?
Chris Date: Yeah, this I think, is really powerful evidence. And I’m just gonna read a short paragraph from this is Douglas Tenny, and Silva. Moises Silva is the only one whose first name I’m reminded of right there. But this is a paragraph that they summarize, they used to summarize the similarities between the past orals and the other apostles. The three pastoral roles picture the same kind of person reflected in the others, one who is deeply interested in those whom he addresses ascribing to God’s sovereign grace whatever is good in himself and or in the addressees and showing wonderful tact and counseling. Again, they were written by a person who is fond of litotes, I don’t even know what litotes are, I’ve forgotten or understatements. And he gives the example of Second Timothy 1:8 do not be ashamed and he cross references Romans 1:16. He’s fond of enumerations you know lists of things, as in 1 Timothy 3:1 to 12 cross reference Romans 1:29 to 32. He’s comfortable and enjoys plays on words. So you see this in like puns. You see this in First Timothy 6:17. And you can compare that to Philemon, 10 and 11. He’s fond of oppositional phrases. You can see this in 1 Timothy 1:17. And you compare that to Romans 12:1. He’s fond of expressions of personal unworthiness in 1 Timothy 1:13, and 15. And you can cross reference that with 1 Corinthians 15:19. And he’s fond of doxologies. And you see that in First Timothy 1:17, cross referenced Romans 11:36. So this is just a sampling of some of the many ways in which the language the structure, the character of Paul that is exhibited by these past orals is extremely similar to the other, the other undisputed letters.
Kurt: Yeah, well, I was getting the debate form of Chris Date there when he’s reading.
Chris Date: Sure,
Kurt: but what’s really amazing is when you were reading there a paragraph written by someone else, but when you’re giving your presentation, I mean, you’ve got those references just down and even if you listed the cross references, you’ve got those down. So that’s, you know, like I said, you go in prepared and that’s it’s good.
Chris Date: Well, you have to That’s something and this is this isn’t just on the topic of hell. This is in tons of debates, you see people going in attacking a straw man, and you really need to do your homework.
Kurt: Yep, yep. And to interpret others charitably. Yeah, and striving to understand them. I just did a short veracity short video. For the first time yesterday, it was out came out on the Alabama abortion bill, and how there are just a number of misconceptions. And I even pointed to misconceptions on both sides. People just have not read the bill. So if you go read the bill, if you strive for truth, go read the bill, then you can speak accurately about what it’s about. So
Chris Date: Right.
Kurt: Yeah. Chris, let me thank you for enlightening us here about the disputed Paul and letters, especially the the pastorals. Certainly, I’ve learned some here today. And so thanks for doing that. But before I let you go for the next few minutes here, I want to pick your brain about the Leighton flowers debate. And that’s because for those maybe who don’t know, I’m a bit sympathetic to Leightons view. But I want to say this I’ve held to this view for a long time longer than I think Layton has even been not a Calvinist he’s sort of tailors his ministry as a former Calvinist professor, something like that. I think you’re right. So you had the chance to go on. Brierley’s unbelievable. Podcast and radio program there in London and throughout England. To discuss it was on was it on election specifically?
Chris Date: No, it was on meticulous Providence specifically.
Kurt: Okay, meticulous Providence. And so what were the two, two views here then?
Chris Date: Well, so I represented the view that everything that takes place in time is for ordained by God. Another way to think of it is God doesn’t know the future because he has big because he’s able to see what you know, in the future, what’s going to happen down the corridors of time. Yeah, to use to use Dr. James White’s language. No, I rather He knows what the future is because he’s planned it out. You know, so the unfolding of history reflects God’s preordained plan of how history should unfold. And the way it unfolds is through the actions of of agents, human beings and others. Okay, and then late and represented the view that No, God doesn’t for ordain all to take place in time he does for ordained some of it, but at the very least, he doesn’t for ordain all of it. Yeah.
Kurt: Yeah. Yeah. And so what were the types of arguments you guys were bringing forward? I mean, what did you get into certain Bible passages?
Chris Date: Well, yeah, we did. In fact, that was the the way we structured it, Justin gave me three texts to present my positive case, and then Layton, three texts to present his and two of mine were very common ones. Genesis 50, where Joseph says, what you intended for evil, God intended for good, and in Acts 4 where the, where the church praises God for sovereignly for ordaining everything, parent, so forth. And then, but the one that I went in, wanting to discuss the most, and this is something that I’ve been interested I’ve been considering doing in my PhD, there seem to be a number of Old Testament historical narratives that don’t explicitly attribute this kind of Providence to God, but seem to imply it. So I discussed the issue of Abraham servant at the well of Neha, where he finds a wife for Abraham’s son. And just the the servants prayer at the well is answered at precisely the time and in precisely the way that he prayed it in such a way that I don’t think can be explained apart from all of the 1000s of human decisions and actions that would have had to have taken place in precisely the way they did in the time they did in order to make that prayer happen.
Kurt: You know, let me ask you this. And let me say to, you know, I would be honored to, you know, have a dialogue or even a formal debate with you on this Sunday,
Chris Date: You’d probably kick my butt.
Kurt: But so Okay, so you talked about the prayer there with Abraham. So, but would that mean that God is meticulously determining what someone’s doing halfway across the world?
Chris: That particular case, maybe not, although, you know, there is this sort of concept of the butterfly effect, right, that if something happens somewhere around the world, it’s going to the effects of it are going to ripple outward? And I think it’s at least conceivable that there are even beyond de hor actions and decisions that would have had to have taken place in the way they did for what happened there to happen. But even if not, I’m only saying this is one example of myriad examples of in the Old Testament, where this couldn’t just this couldn’t play out the way it did, unless everything happened in exactly the way that it did.
Kurt: So is your argument, sort of accumulative case? Like looking at these different Bible verses? Or do you Would you say it’s more deductive approach?
Chris Date: It’s certainly not deductive, right? I mean, deductive is a very, has a very specific meaning in argumentation. I would say it’s, I would say it’s inductive. It’s an inference to the best explanation. You see these, these events taking place in the Old Testament that I think seem to indicate that God has for ordained 1000s of human decisions and actions in order to make it happen, then you’ve got a number of passages in which God seems to, to say, you know, like, I direct the heart of the king wherever I wish or, you know, …
Kurt: The proverb about a man, you know, the Lord directs his steps or something like that.
Chris: Yeah, although I think that one’s a little bit more ambiguous.
Chris Date: Exactly. So I mean, it’s a cumulative case of the first thing I mentioned, of specific statements about God lifting up kings and taking them down. And it just seems that when you put all these pieces together, along with explicit statements like Genesis 50, and Acts 4 and others, it just seems like the overall picture is one in which the biblical authors do in fact, think that history is completely for ordained. And however, we understand that in relationship to freedom and responsibility and stuff, I think we need to work that out. But I’m not comfortable sort of working out the philosophy and then if and then foisting that upon the Bible, which is, I think what I mean, it’s what I think people who don’t hold the Calvinism inevitably do. That doesn’t mean I’m trying to be insulting toward you. But,…
Kurt: Hey, it’s a two way street. I think that’s what’s happening with the other camp. Yeah, it goes both ways. Good. Well, I’ll have to I haven’t had the chance yet. Just had an extremely busy year for me, but I’ll have to go back and listen to that discussion. On meticulous Providence,
Chris Date: I’m sure I’m sure you’ll side with with Layton. But you know, the good thing about conversations like the one you and I are having right now, the one that Layton and I have is that and the ones that like James White has with Dr. Michael Brown, it demonstrates that we as Calvinists, and as non Calvinists, we can have these kinds of conversations in a loving and respectful and friendly way. And, and we don’t need to, you know, cut at each other’s throats and claw at each other the way that often some people on both sides of the debate seem to do
Kurt: Yep. So yeah, it’s a shame when that happens. You know, people can get passionate about this stuff. But you know, they, you have to keep that passion in check. When realizing that you’re dealing with people. This is about relationships. And I was just giving a presentation at a to I think they were sixth and seventh graders, I was invited by a local school, private Christian school. And I was talking about, oh, Paul’s demolishing arguments. 2 Corinthians 10:5, and the, the illustration I was using was a marvel, the Hulk Smash. So you want to you want to Hulk Smash arguments, but you don’t want to Hulk Smash people. So there is a difference there. So…
Chris Date: well, and you know, we need to remember that what Jesus said, “How we’ll tell the world that we are truly His is that we love one another.” So if we’re not showing love to one another in the way that we discuss our differences, we’re telling the world that we’re not really Christ followers.
Kurt: Yep, actions are important. That’s right. Chris, thank you so much great to speak with you. We’ll have to schedule another time in the future, you can come on and chat with us about whatever you’d like. This is so fun. I like learning from you. And, you know, it’s really a pleasure to have you on.
Chris Date: I always enjoy talking with you as well. I have the utmost of respect for you. And you know, maybe one of these days, we’ll get to see each other in person for once.
Kurt: Yeah, yeah, keep me posted. You know, I tried to go to the annual ETS EPS conference. I don’t know if you try to get over that way.
Chris Date:It’s a little too far that when the day comes where they have the topic of hell and make me a plenary speaker, then maybe I’ll go.
Kurt: There you go. All right. God bless ya, Chris. We’ll be in touch
Chris Date: You as well. Thanks, Kurt. Bye. Bye.
Kurt: Bye, bye. All right. Well, that does it for the program today. On next week’s episode, I believe we have scheduled Neil Shenvi. Who’s going to be talking about critical theory. I’ll have to double check our schedule, though, on that. But that should be an exciting topic, getting a little bit more into political philosophy and, you know, looking at social issues. And if you did watch the VH short that we put out yesterday, hopefully there’s more of that coming. And if you want to see more of those to make those feasible to be producing on a regular basis, I’d like to see if you’d consider supporting our program, you can do so by visiting veracity. hill.com. And clicking on that patron tab. Defenders media is doing a new donor drive, and we as part of the organization are participating in that. So I’m looking to have new folks come and join our grassroots army of donors. So even if it’s five or $10 a month, we would love to have you as part of our support base for our ministry work. So please, thank you for your thoughtful consideration. Okay, well, I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons and the partnerships that we have with our sponsors. They are defenders media consult Kevin, the sky floor, rethinking Hill, the Illinois Family Institute, Fox restoration and now reasons to believe which I forgot to add to the image but we’ll do that for sure for next week. Thank you for all of those organizations, the partnerships that they’ve had with us and I Happy to promote their work and think highly of them as well. I think they all do great work. So thank you to the technical producer Chris, for his fine work week in, week out. Thank you, Chris, and to our guest Chris date. Again an avid debater, a thoughtful gentleman, and a kind Christian brother. And last but not least, I want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.
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