Search Results for: Jeremy Evans

Welcome Jeremy Evans!

We are grateful to have Jeremy Evans join us as one of our blog contributors. Be looking for his future blog posts!

Jeremy is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He is married to his best friend Wendy, and together have two children (Avery and Kaely). His current writing projects range over the problem of evil, philosophical theology, and an edited volume on religion in the marketplace of ideas.

Jeremy was also recently elected as an Executive Committee member at the EPS.

Alvin Plantinga’s New Argument Against Materialism

The Summer 2012 issue of Philosophia Christi showcases a noteworthy discussion between Alvin Planting and Michael Tooley regarding Plantinga’s “new argument against materialism.” We are grateful for their contributions and for Jeremy Evans‘ (SEBTS) guest editor work. In fact, here’s how he introduces this discussion:

Materialism is the rage these days, so much so that some Christian thinkers are shifting away from long-standing traditions on the relationship of the mind and body (dualism of some sort) to provide a more scientific vision of mind-body interaction and personal identity. In order to move this discussion forward Philosophia Christi invited Alvin Plantinga to advance some of his arguments made in his famous essay “An Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism,” drawing to the front some of the problems that materialism must address. In this entry, Plantinga focuses on some problems inherent to materialism pertaining to theories of belief formation, intentionality, and the undertakings of agents. In essence, Plantinga argues that if materialism is true (whether it be of a reductive or nonreductive type) then the usual connection between beliefs and intentions do not provide the causal story that is needed to account for a person’s undertaking some endeavor. If neither beliefs nor intentions are causally relevant to an agent’s undertakings, then, as Plantinga argues, this provides a strong argument against materialism. We invite the reader to inspect Plantinga’s entry in order to piece together the argument.

We also invited Michael Tooley to provide a materialist response to Plantinga. Tooley seemed especially suited for this discussion given his previous exchange with Plantinga in their excellent book, The Knowledge of God (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008). In this entry, Tooley seeks to overcome what, he thinks, are misrepresentations of materialism by Plantinga—personal identity does not track bodily identity, or brain identity, or upper brain identity, so I am not identical with my body, or with my brain, or with my upper brain. After developing some necessary groundwork, Tooley argues that Plantinga’s new argument against materialism is unsound because it “fails to distinguish, first of all, between mere physical movement on the one hand, and genuine, intentional action on the other, and secondly, between the causation of mere physical movement on the one hand, and the explanation of genuine intentional action on the other. Subsequent to this argument Tooley then advances what is, in his opinion, the strongest form of materialism and why Plantinga’s argument does not address it. In his second article, Plantinga offers a response to this critique.

You can purchase the Summer 2012 issue or become a subscriber to the journal or a member of the EPS and receive this issue as part of your membership.

Fall 2011 EPS President’s Update

Greetings, EPS Members!

My school—Palm Beach Atlantic University—is eagerly anticipating Alvin Plantinga’s coming this Sunday! He’ll be here for several days of lectures and conversations with faculty and students here. I’m reminded of the splendid time we had with him at our EPS annual meeting and apologetics conference last year in Atlanta.  

We are blessed to live in these days, being able to stand on the shoulders of philosophical giants like Plantinga. I recently received the latest issue of Faith and Philosophy (though please do keep subscribing to Philosophia Christi!) Therein, Nicholas Wolterstorff reflects on Plantinga’s remarkable career, beginning with the time they were sophomores together at Calvin College some sixty years ago. Wolterstorff notes how the today’s landscape in the philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and epistemology—so utterly different from sixty years ago—clearly evidences Plantinga’s distinctive influence.  As Christian philosophers and apologists, we are the beneficiaries of the groundbreaking, bold ideas and writings of Plantinga and Wolterstorff—and we could add many more.

Annual Meeting

Next month we look forward to gathering again, this time in San Francisco. We’ll have another influential veteran philosopher as our plenary speaker, Dallas Willard. God has used him to train a generation of philosophers, help awaken the church to the life of the mind, and remind us of the importance of the spiritual disciplines to transform character. Also at our EPS annual meeting, we have another excellent lineup of papers, and we’re grateful to Jeremy Evans as program chair for managing this so ably.

Apologetics Conference

We’ll be having our annual apologetics conference at the historic First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley. Our engaging plenary speakers include Dallas Willard, whose topic will be, “Jesus: The Smartest Man Who Ever Lived,” as well as J.P. Moreland, Craig Hazen, and Greg Koukl. We’ll have a lot of our “regulars” presenting at the breakout seminars—William Craig, Frank Beckwith, Doug Geivett. You’ll see some newer faces as well—such as Holly Ordway (a former atheist and author of Not God’s Type), the kiwi philosopher Matt Flannagan (a rising star in the sky of philosophical theology), Mike Licona (the author of a landmark book on The Resurrection of Jesus), Mike Horner (a veteran Canadian apologist), and I’Ching Thomas (an apologist who works with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Singapore). Register at We look forward to seeing you at these events—as well as at our reception on Wednesday night and business meeting on Thursday night (16 and 17 November).

AAR/SBL Meeting

And don’t forget: just following these events, the EPS will be hosting a session at AAR/SBL on Saturday, 19 November at 7:00 PM. J.P. Moreland, Angus Menuge, and Kevin Corcoran will be presenting on the matter (!) of “Prospects for Body/Soul Dualism Today.”  This should be an exciting, substantial exchange on an important topic.   Each November is a highlight in my academic year—hearing thought-provoking papers, talking philosophy into the wee hours, enjoying the fellowship of old friends, meeting new philosophical comrades-in-arms, poring over the newest (discounted!) books in philosophy, apologetics, theology, and biblical studies.   I pray this will be a time of intellectual challenge and spiritual revitalization for us all so that we may return to our places of learning, teaching, writing, and ministry to serve Christ and his kingdom more effectively.

Warmly in Christ,

Paul Copan

EPS President

A Journal Discussion on O’Connor’s Theism and Ultimate Explanation

The Winter 2010 issue of Philosophia Christi features a notable discussion about Tim O’Connor’s Theism and Ultimate Explanation. Our tremendous thanks to Jeremy Evans for his helpful coordination and guest editorial work on this featured presentation.
Below is a snapshot of the discussion. You can get your copy of the entire 12:2 (Winter 2010) issue by purchasing at our store.
“Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency”
Twentieth-century analytic philosophy was dominated by positivist antimetaphysics and neo-Humean deflationary metaphysics, and the nature of explanation was reconceived in order to fit these agendas. Unsurprisingly, the explanatory value of theism was widely discredited. I argue that the long-overdue revival of a modalized, broadly neo-Aristotelian metaphysics and an improved perspective on modal knowledge dramatically changes the landscape. In this enriched context, there is no sharp divide between physics and metaphysics, and the natural end of the theoretician’s quest for a unified explanation of the universe is God, an absolutely necessary, transcendent, and personal source of all contingent reality.
“On the Tenability of Brute Naturalism and the Implications of Brute Theism”
Timothy O’Connor’s book Theism and Ultimate Explanation offers a defense of a new version of the cosmological argument. In his discussion, O’Connor argues against the coherence of a brute fact “explanation” of the universe and for the claim that the God of theism cannot be logically contingent. In this paper, I take issue with both of these arguments. Regarding the former, I claim that contrary to what O’Connor asserts, we have no good reason to prefer an account according to which the universe is explained via a necessary being to that of a naturalist who thinks that the universe is contingent and ultimately unexplained. Regarding the latter, I argue that the possibility of a logically contingent God is fully consistent with traditional theism.
“The Shape of Causal Reality: A Naturalistic Adaptation of O’Connor’s Cosmological Argument”
In Theism and Ultimate Explanation, Tim O’Connor sets out and defends a cosmological argument from contingency. In my paper—which might have been titled “Naturalism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency”—I argue that, even if you grant O’Connor his various controversial assumptions about modality and causality, the argument that he sets out provides stronger support for naturalism than it does for theism. In particular, I claim that considerations about theoretical and ontological parsimony favour a naturalistic necessary shape for contingency over a theistic necessary shape for contingency.
“Modality and Sovereignty: On Theism and Ultimate Explanation
Two important aspects of O’Connor’s Theism and Ultimate Explanation are explored. The first is whether God’s existence should be considered ontologically necessary. I suggest that although existence is essential to God, it is not a matter of ontological necessity. The second is whether prior to creating God deliberates about what universe or universes to create. I argue that he does not, that to say he does is to mistake creation for a kind of manufacturing. Implications of these claims regarding divine sovereignty are briefly discussed.
“O’Connor’s Permissive Multiverse”
I distinguish restrictive and permissive multiverse solutions to the problems of evil and no best world. Restrictive multiverses do not admit a single instance of gratuitous evil and they are not improvable. I show that restrictive multiverses unacceptably entail that all modal distinctions collapse. I consider Timothy O’Connor’s permissive multiverse. I show that a perfect creator minimizes aggregative suffering in permissive multiverses only if the actual universe is not included in any actualizable multiverse. I conclude that permissive multiverses do not offer a credible solution to the problems of evil and no best world.
“Is God’s Necessity Necessary?”
Replies to Senor, Oppy, McCann, and Almeida
I briefly defend the following claims in response to my critics: (1) We cannot make a principled division between features of contingent reality that do and features that don’t “cry our for explanation.” (2) The physical data indicating fine-tuning provide confirmation of the hypothesis of a personal necessary cause of the universe over against an impersonal necessary cause, notwithstanding the fact that the probability of either hypothesis, if true, would be 1. (3) Theism that commits to God’s necessary existence makes more sense than theism that denies it. (4) God is likely to have created an infinity of universes, and this conclusion helps with (though does not solve) the many problems of evil.

Is God a Moral Monster? An Interview with Paul Copan

We recently interviewed Paul Copan, President of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, about his new book, Is God a Moral Monster: Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Baker, 2010). The book has already been heralded by both Old Testament scholars, theologians and philosophers as a leading title in this important discussion. Paul has also written on this topic in Philosophia Christi, which can be read here and then here.

How did you become interested in thinking and writing about Old Testament ethics? In a nutshell, what are you trying to accomplish with this book?

A lot of atheists say that Christians don’t read the whole Bible, and at least in North America (where even professing Christians are increasingly biblically illiterate), this often seems to be the case.  In an era when pastors like to “go topical” in their sermons to try to make the Scriptures “practical,” what often gets lost is the equipping of Christians to think deeply about the whole of Scripture.  So, many of them are ill-equipped to respond when skeptics challenge them to interpret some of the strange-sounding levitical laws or seemingly bizarre ancient Near Eastern themes.  Again, pastors and Christian leaders contribute to the problem by avoiding such texts and preaching on the more straightforward or comfortable-sounding texts.

As I began (in high school) the habit of through the Bible starting in high school, I myself found a number of Old Testament passages that were difficult to understand.  They seemed to present a somewhat baffling and even troubling worldview with its purity laws and taboos, its harshness, its “patriarchy”—let alone servitude (“slavery”) and warfare.

Over the years I have sought to better understand this slice of the ancient Near Eastern world and context out of which the Messiah would come.  As I have spoken on university campuses, students have increasingly raised questions regarding troubling Old Testament passages, and I found that accessible resources for a lay audience on this theme were glaringly absent.  As one trained in both philosophy and biblical and theological studies, I thought I had something to contribute to the discussion I started to write about these themes in books like That’s Just Your Interpretation, How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong? and When God Goes to Starbucks (all with Baker Books)—not to mention journal articles in Philosophia Christi.  This eventually led to a full-blown treatment of key Old Testament themes in the book Is God a Moral Monster?  Given the strong commendations from Old Testament scholars like Christopher Wright, Gordon Wenham, and Tremper Longman, I find my thinking confirmed that this book has a special niche to fill.

As I have indicated, I wanted to make the available scholarly research on difficult (or obscure or misunderstood) Old Testament ethical topics accessible to a lay audience.  And I don’t want to shy away from the troubling passages that critics—especially New Atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens—routinely accuse Christians of doing.

How do the various parts of your book achieve your thesis?

While I can’t cover all the territory I would like in this book, I try to address the range of topics that are most pressing and most frequently raised by the critics.  Part I deals with the phenomenon of the New Atheists and their arguments—and their case against the “Old Testament God.”  In fact, as you can see in the table of contents below, I use their quotations as my chapter headings!  In Part II, I deal with issues related to the nature of God: Is God narcissistic?  Why should God get jealous?  How could God command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

Part III looks at life in the ancient Near East and how Israel’s laws look in comparison to those of other ancient Near Eastern cultures.  I maintain, first, that while many of Israel’s laws are not ideal (human hard-heartedness is part of the problem, as Matthew 19:8 indicates), they are generally a significant humanizing improvement over other ancient Near Eastern cultures.  God meets his people where they are—with their embedded, fallen moral and social patterns—but he challenges them to greater moral and spiritual heights.  Then I go on to address topics like Israel’s kosher and purity laws, its civil laws and punishments, the treatment of women in Israel, slavery (or better “servitude”) in Israel (and I extend the discussion to include the New Testament), then finally the question of Canaanite “genocide” (which it most certainly is not!) and of whether “religion” produces violence.

In Part IV, I argue that the biblical God serves as the basis for objective moral values and that atheists borrow the metaphysical grounding for human dignity and rights from a theistic worldview in which God makes human beings in his image.  Finally, I refer to the role of Jesus Christ as the fulfiller of the Old Testament, who illuminates the Old Testament and puts it into proper perspective.  Moreover, his followers, when living consistently with his teachings, have actually made a remarkable moral impact on the world which scholars in both the East and the West, both Christian and non-Christian, acknowledge.

What was the most surprising find that you discovered in your extensive research for this book?

Surprising—and yet not surprising—is the fact that the more deeply I dug into understanding the ancient Near East, the more the biblical text made sense and the more favorable it looked in comparison to other relevant texts in the ancient Near East.  For example, the strong bravado and exaggeration typical of ancient Near East war texts (“leaving alive nothing that breathed”) was used even when lots of the enemy were left standing and breathing!  What’s more, Israel’s warfare—directed at non-combatants in citadels or fortresses (“cities”)—is tame in comparison to other ancient Near Eastern accounts of, say, the Assyrians.
As far as servitude (“slavery”) goes, this was voluntary and contractual rather than forced (unless Israel was dealing with, say, hostile foreign POWs who might be pressed into service to cut wood and carry water).  Yet Israel’s laws prohibited (a) kidnapping, (b) returning runaway (foreign) slaves to their masters, and (c) injuring servants.  If these three Mosaic regulations were observed during by Western colonial powers, slavery would not have emerged and the nineteenth-century history of the United States would have looked much different.

How does your book’s thesis and contribution relate and differ from your other work? I see new and long-standing “Copan themes” being woven together in this book. Can you elaborate?

Yes, that’s right.  I pick up on themes sketched out in previous work I’ve done.  I expand on previously-discussed topics of the Law of Moses being a more humanizing law code than those of the surrounding nations, but still less-than-ideal. While I add much more material on the Canaanite question and address the topic of religion and violence, I much more fully develop my discussion of servitude in Israel, kosher/purity laws, and Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac.  In previous writings, I didn’t explore patriarchy and the treatment of women or polygamy and concubinage.  What’s more, I take pains to unpack specific “troubling texts” and discuss them in light of their linguistic and cultural contexts.  I think that, thanks to many biblical scholars, I have landed on some helpful responses to a number of perplexing texts.

To what extent does a theology/philosophy of human wickedness factor into this discussion? For example, if someone thinks that human beings (whether ancient or contemporary) are not prone toward acting wickedly how would that affect their understanding of divine justice and goodness?

In the West, we are particularly jaded when it comes to sexual sin; so Yahweh’s condemnation of temple prostitution (religiously-sanctioned adultery), incest, or bestiality are commonly shrugged off as insignificant and even petty.  Many critics fail to see the corrupt influence of Canaanite religion, which encouraged incest, bestiality, and adultery—after all, these deities engaged in such acts themselves!  Not surprisingly, the moral apple doesn’t fall far from the theological tree.  I argue that God was not concerned with destroying Canaanites—just Canaanite religion.  In my discussion of divine jealousy, I point out how Richard Dawkins dismisses God’s jealousy as petty.  Yet he ignores the profound marital language bound up with God’s covenant with Israel and the true pain God feels when his people run after other deities and/or put their trust in political alliances with other nations (idolatry).  Don’t look to the New Atheists to give an accurate portrayal of divine justice and goodness—or of human wickedness.

How and why is the question, “Is God a Moral Monster?” an apropos question for New Atheists? How is this question situated in their arguments against God’s existence? How does it contribute to their often-repeated claim that “religion causes evil?”

Well, one of the New Atheists, Richard Dawkins, did come up with the “moral monster” portion of my book title!  Richard Dawkins himself narrated a BBC documentary on religion as “the root of all evil.”  With insufficient biblical insight, he cites passages from the Old Testament to make God appear tyrannical.  The New Atheists routinely assume that by quoting such biblical texts, this is a slam-dunk proof for God’s non-existence.

Ironically, Dawkins’s own book River Out of Eden affirms that in a universe of selfish genes and electrons, there is no good or evil—just blind, pitiless indifference.  How can he make such a metaphysical jump to damn “religion”?  He can only criticize God by appropriating the moral resources available within theism rather than naturalism.

One of the points I make in the book is that the New Atheists will readily criticize “religion” (how vague is that term?!) as the wellspring of evil (e.g., Crusades, Inquisition).  Of course, who says this is consistent with the spirit of Jesus?  Yet these New Atheists typically turn a blind eye to the horrific atrocities committed in the name of atheism (think Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot—100 million murders represented right there).  Daniel Dennett has even tried to explain away Stalin as a “religious-like” figure!

Your book is detailed with issues of biblical theology, exegesis, ancient Near Eastern laws, ancient Israel’s laws, in addition to a broader philosophical-theological argument that you make in defense of “the Old Testament God.” Philosophy colleagues working on the problem of evil may wonder why all the attention with so many historical-cultural particulars? Can’t this question, Is God a Moral Monster? be sufficiently handled by some sort of neat, philosophical discussion?

As someone who has written extensively on the moral argument, I find that increasingly naturalistic moral realists like Louise Antony, David Brink, or Walter Sinnott-Armstrong will incorporate these Old Testament “problem passages” into their arguments against God as the source of objective moral values and human dignity and rights.  This can be a kind of monkey wrench thrown into the “engine” of the moral argument for God’s existence, and I don’t think that theists can ignore these emotionally-laden criticisms.

You spend three important chapters dealing with the OT account about the divine command to kill the Canaanites. Tell us about how that killing figures into the claim that God is a “moral monster.” What are some of the common mistakes/myths that readers of this account sometimes make when dealing with this incident? What is often under-appreciated or under-recognized in this discussion?

Critics use loaded language—“genocide” or “ethnic cleansing”—when referring to the Canaanites.  This is far from the truth.  Intermarrying with the Canaanites isn’t a problem (cp. Rahab, who married into Israel); it’s idolatry.  Moreover, I follow Richard Hess, who makes a strong case that non-combatants were not targeted and that one should not take the sweeping language of the ancient Near East (“man and woman, young and old”) to suggest this.  I can’t go into details here, but one could use this kind of language, even if women and children were absent.

Note too the heavy emphasis on “driving out” or “dispossessing” the Canaanites; this is different from destroying; this gets little attention by the critics.  I also mentioned earlier that the “cities” like Jericho or Ai were military installations to protect the civilian populations in the hill country; non-combatants typically didn’t live there.  You might have a tavern-keeper like Rahab, but that was atypical.  I’ve already addressed the hyperbolic bravado in the ancient Near East; leaving alive nothing that breathed doesn’t mean leaving alive nothing that breathed!

So those are a few of the topics I try to address.

I am trying to think of the last time that I’ve seen so many biblical scholars – let alone Old Testament biblical scholars – endorse a book by a Christian philosopher.  Your topic and thesis have been welcomed by high-profile members of that community of scholars. What might this suggest to you about the need and importance for doing (where possible) interdisciplinary work as a philosopher?  What might that look like? What are some areas that could benefit from such interdisciplinary support?

Yes, I’m very pleased to have so many strong endorsements from such a line-up of reputable Old Testament scholars.  (I have chuckled at some critics who have asserted that I am not qualified to write in these areas of biblical studies and related areas—yet I’ve gotten such resounding recommendations from experts in these fields!)  This book serves as a good reminder of the need for ongoing engagement between philosophy and biblical studies or theology.  I have appreciated Christian philosophers such as Alvin Plantinga, Eleonore Stump, Peter van Inwagen, (the late) William Alston, Stephen Evans, and Stephen Davis who have brought their philosophical expertise to bear on biblical texts and theological themes—whether we’re dealing with miracles and divine action, evolution and design, the problem of evil, or the historical Jesus.

Alvin Plantinga has encouraged Christian philosophers to bring their resources to bear on the life of the church; we must share the wealth with our brothers and sisters in the pew so that they can benefit from our research and reflection.  Is God a Moral Monster? is one such resource that I pray God will use to build up the church and to offer a reasoned defense to the critic.

Among theist and non-theist philosophers of religion, the question, “Is God a Moral Monster?” has received increased academic attention in places like Philosophia Christi or the recent conference at Notre Dame. What do you make of this attention? Is it directed by, or an extension of, particular assumptions, conditions or patterns of thought? Where would you like the academic discussion to go given the contribution of your work?

I’m so pleased that the topic of Old Testament ethical issues is receiving such high-profile attention!   This is all the more important given the times in which we live.  The era of the presumed dominance of a biblical worldview is past, and this means we can’t simply count on a high view of Scripture generally held in today’s culture; we must increasingly and more rigorously defend biblical authority in the marketplace of ideas with skill and insight.

I myself am co-editing (with Jeremy Evans and Heath Thomas) a forthcoming book on Old Testament holy war from an interdisciplinary perspective—philosophers, biblical scholars, theologians, and ethicists.  I’m teaming up with Kiwi philosopher/theologian Matthew Flannagan on a couple of essays on Canaanite warfare; Matt has done excellent philosophical work on divine commands and the Old Testament text.  He and I were on a dynamic panel discussion recently at the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta entitled, “Is Yahweh a Moral Monster?”

I do hope that my new book will inspire Christians to delve more deeply into the Old Testament text.  The more I have done so, the more enriched my faith has been and greater has been my appreciation for the message of the Old Testament.

Dr. Paul Copan is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida. You can learn more about Paul by visiting his website.

2009 EPS Annual Meeting

Thanks to all of you that submitted your paper proposals for this year’s annual meeting of the EPS (New Orleans).

A final list of presenters has been chosen.

In due course, we will announce the details of the program for the annual meeting.

Tremendous thanks to Jeremy Evans for his outstanding job as program chairperson!

President’s 2008 Year-end Recap

Dear EPS friends,

It was a joy to see many of you at our
EPS annual meeting in
Providence last month.  Each year I eagerly anticipate making
that pre-Thanksgiving pilgrimage to EPS for the stimulating papers
and conversation, the Christian fellowship, and the opportunity to
serve together with many of you at our annual

We have many reasons for rejoicing in what God is doing within
the EPS.  Let me mention a few of them.

  • At this time last year,
    Philosophia Christi
    were down considerably due to an outdated, inefficient website.
     As many of you know, back in 2005 I had begun discussions to
    spearhead a plan to completely upgrade our website. Chad
    Meister, Scott Smith, Joe Gorra, Craig Hazen, and others worked
    long and hard on this project alongside our new webmaster Lenny
    Esposito.  Finally, in October 2007, our sharp-looking,
    efficiently-working, cutting-edge website was launched.  In one
    year, we have received over 500 new subscriptions (now over
    1,570) – with fifty more were added at our recent apologetics
    conference.  What a marvelous difference this year has
  • Earnestly Contending, our sixth annual
    , took place in Smithfield, RI in conjunction with the
    EPS’s annual meeting. This conference drew nearly 800
    attendees�an excellent showing for New England. During that
    weekend, forty pastors were expected to attend a luncheon to
    receive encouragement and practical training in promoting the
    role of apologetics in local churches.  Well, over 110 showed
    up! In fact, the pastors’ response was so positive that we’re
    planning on hosting these luncheons every year.  And how
    encouraging that over 100 attended the various youth sessions. 
    Bill Craig, who takes the lead in organizing the conference each
    year called Earnestly Contending "among the top three
    conferences we’ve held so far!"  The host church pastor,
    Rev. Steve Boyce, said that all the initial reports he’s
    received "have been just rave reviews!"  Thanks to Bill and to
    Pastor Steve and his volunteers at the Worship Center for
    helping to bring all of this together.
  • After the
    apologetics conference, Bill Craig, Gary Habermas,
    Jim Sinclair, and I were able to sit down for over two hours
    with a couple of atheists who had crashed the party.  It
    was an excellent time of discussion and building relationships
    with them. One of them wrote a note to me afterwards, mentioning
    that the conference was "excellent" and that, despite our
    philosophical differences, "there is just something irresistible
    and winsome about Christian friendship."
  • Chad Meister has helped coordinate another international outreach
    effort scheduled for next fall at Hokkaido University in Japan. 
    For health reasons, though, Chad is stepping down as EPS vice
    president and as international outreach coordinator, but I want to
    thank him heartily for his energy, resourcefulness, wisdom, and
    graciousness. Please pray for him as well as this upcoming venture.

While we’re on the topic, I’d like to say thanks to Stewart
Kelly, Bob Stewart, Rich Davis, and Bob Larmer for their service on
the EPS executive committee, and we welcome four new members to our
EC: Jeremy Evans, Craig Mitchell, Bill Dembski, and Bruce Little.

Again, as I recently wrote, I would ask you to support the EPS
with your prayers and financial gifts.  Indeed, God is at work
in and through the EPS!  May we remain faithful co-laborers
with him in a remarkable movement that he has wrought!
Advent blessings to you all!

Paul Copan,
EPS President

Evangelical Philosophical Society Special Event: "The Textual Reliability of the New Testament"

In conjunction with the 2008 Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum
April 3-4, 2008
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, LA

Call for Papers

Paper proposals are encouraged on issues related to the relationship between
philosophy and biblical studies but proposals are welcome on any topic related
to the philosophy of religion and/or ethics.  Paper sessions will be 50
minutes in length.  Presenters should plan to allow for approximately 10
minutes of question and answer following the presentation of their papers. 
All proposals must be received by March 1, 2008.

Paper submissions must include the following:

  1. Personal information:
    a. Your name
    b. The institution with which you are affiliated . . . If none, provide city
    and state
    c. Contact information: Email address, mailing address, and phone number

    ** Including your email address is important.  You will be notified
    whether you paper has been accepted or rejected via email

  2.  Time constraints / preferences:
    a. Days and times you CANNOT read the paper
    b. Days and times you would PREFER to read the paper
    ** While we will do our best to accommodate your preferences, inflexibility
    with regard to possible reading times may make the paper more difficult to

  3. The title of your proposed paper
  4. A 100-200 word abstract of the paper you would like to read

Send EPS paper proposals via email to: 

Jeremy Evans, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Ethics

Copy EPS paper proposals via email to:
Robert B. Stewart Associate Professor of Philosophy and Theology (504) 282-4455 ext.

Presenters must register for the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum. 
For more information see

Christianity Not a Source of Violence

In the wake of the recent killings in Oslo, Norway, there has been a flurry of debate over whether the accused mass-murderer, Anders Breivik, is in fact a Christian. The New York Times described Breivik as a “Christian extremist,” William Saletan at Slate has used the phrase “Christian terrorism,” and numerous other journalists and bloggers continue to use similar terms (despite the fact that the media have typically repudiated the use of such terminology regarding Islam).

Two of the strongest assertions have come from Chicago Theological Seminary professor Susan Brooks Thislethwaite in the Washington Post and University of Chicago Divinity School professor Margaret Mitchell in Sightings, the latter of which declares that “Breivik is deeply and significantly a Christian.” This is especially disappointing, since as scholars in theology and New Testament studies, respectively, Thislethwaite and Mitchell should know better. In no reasonable sense of the term can Breivik be called a Christian. As Jordan Sekulow said in a rejoinder to Thislethwaite in another Washington Post piece, “To label Breivik a ‘Christian’ requires a depraved understand[ing] of what it means to be a Christian.”

Those sympathetic with these accusations apparently reject the distinction between genuine Christians and those who merely claim to be Christians. We recognize this distinction in every other context, and so should we here. Being a Christian is not simply a matter of affirming certain propositions, as is clear from many biblical passages (e.g., Mt. 25:31-46; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; and Gal. 5:19-21). Even if Anders Breivik did affirm the deity and resurrection of Jesus (which, in fact, he denies), this would not by itself make him any more Christian than the devil himself (who presumably would affirm these truths).

Even more disturbing is the contention by Thislethwaite that there are “elements of Christianity” that actually inspire violence. Thislethwaite neglects to specify what those elements are, beyond pointing to certain problematic “interpretations” of Scripture.

Some might be tempted to justify this view by pointing to certain Old Testament passages where God commanded the killing of the Canaanites. But these are not uniquely Christian texts. Jews and Muslims also regard the Old Testament books as scripture. To properly assess a true Christian ethic of violence we must focus on Christianity’s distinguishing person, Jesus Christ, and Christianity’s distinguishing text, the New Testament. And when we do so, what do we find? A consistent ethic of non-violence. Consider the following:

    The Example of Christ – Jesus’ entire life was characterized by peace and reconciliation, earning him the moniker “Prince of Peace.”Even in the face of extreme injustice and merciless torture, he did not resist his abusers. Jesus even rebuked a disciple for resorting to violence to defend him (Mt. 26:52).

    The Ministry of Christ – Jesus consistently worked for peace and reconciliation. He declared, “blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt. 5:9) and instructed people to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-28). Jesus explicitly taught an ethic of personal non-violence, saying, “Do not [violently] resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Mt. 5:39).

    Other New Testament Teachings – The Apostle Paul taught fellow Christians to live peacefully with others, saying, “so far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18).He makes the same admonition repeatedly (see I Cor. 7:15; 1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Cor. 13:11; and 1 Thess. 5:13). Paul and Peter also expressly reject rebellion against government authorities (Rom. 13:1-3; 1 Pet. 2:13-17).

The influence of these teachings in the history of the church is well-known, including:1) significant pacifist theological traditions (e.g., the Quakers and Mennonites), 2) Christian non-violent social movements (e.g. anti-war organizations, anti-death penalty groups, and Martin Luther King’s work in the civil rights movement), and 3) Christian martyrdom, as thousands of believers have been, and continue to be, tortured and killed rather than to violently defend themselves against oppressors.

These are the facts that have been overlooked or ignored by those such as Thislethwaite who suggest Christianity inspires violence. Perhaps what Thislethwaite really wants to highlight is the fact that some madmen, most recently Anders Breivik, have warped or twisted Christian ideas to their own use in attempting to justify their violence. Well, of course this is true—and it is so obvious it is hardly worth stating. But this is a far cry from the notion that Christianity itself, as defined above inspires violence or that there could be such a thing as a “Christian terrorist.” We are deeply saddened by such a gross distortion of the moral essence of our faith—a misrepresentation so severe that it amounts to theological slander.

Rather than cast blame where it does not belong, let us instead pray for the survivors and families of the victims of the Oslo shootings and even for Anders Breivik. Let us renew our efforts to sow harmony and reconciliation instead of violence and discord in all contexts, public and private. And let us promote the New Testament ethic of peaceful living and self-giving love. In short, let us follow the example and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we work for redemption in all things.

Paul Copan, Ph.D.

President of the Evangelical Philosophical Society

Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics

Palm Beach Atlantic University

James S. Spiegel. Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy and religion

Taylor University (Indiana)


J.P. Moreland, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy

Talbot School of Theology

Craig J. Hazen, Ph.D.

Professor of Comparative Religion

Biola Univeristy


William A. Dembski, Ph.D.

Research Professor in Philosophy

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary


Angus Menuge, Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy

Concordia University (Wisconsin)


Jeremy Evans, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary


Gary R. Habermas, Ph.D

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Theology

Liberty University


Bruce A. Little, Ph.D.

Director of the L. Russ Bush Center For Faith and Culture

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary


Timothy Paul Erdel, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy

Bethel College, Indiana


Robert B. Stewart, Ph.D.

Associated Professor of Philosophy and Theology

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary


Robert Larmer, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair

Department of Philosophy

University of New Brunswick


Gregory E Ganssle, Ph.D.

Senior Fellow

Rivendell Institute


Mary Jo Sharp

President, Confident Christianity


Lenny Esposito

President, Come Reason Ministries