Monday, March 26, 2007

Biola University Professor Craig Hazen defended by Brigham Young University Professor, Dr. Daniel Peterson

In an interesting twist, we now have Dr. Daniel C. Peterson, Mormon apologist extraordinaire and Professor at Brigham Young University arriving on my blog to lend his support to Dr. Craig Hazen, Christian apologist, Biola University. To clarify the identity of Dr. Peterson for all those who may say, "Dr. Who?" he is well known in the sparsely populated realm of Christian Apologetics for his ruthless verbal attacks on Christian defenders of the faith.

Until now. . . .

I don't think I even need to comment on this one.

Dr. Daniel Peterson:

"Wow. It's striking how hateful and unattractive evangelicalism can seem when articulated by the likes of Jill Rische.

Fortunately, though, many evangelicals manifest a truly Christian spirit in their lives and conversation."



Sticks and stones . . . . :) Your insults didn't bother me years ago and they don't bother me now.

Are you here to defend Craig Hazen? That would be an interesting twist; a Mormon defending a Christian apologist.

Dr. Daniel Peterson:

"Dismiss my comments as mere insult if you will.

I'm sure that I'm not the only onlooker who finds some of your comments profoundly unappealing and unattractive, even hateful.

Incidentally, I do think that Craig Hazen is a good man, despite our deep theological disagreements.

I hope and trust that the mere fact that a Latter-day Saint academic regards him as a decent fellow will not torpedo his candidacy for the leadership of Biola. I'm confident that we haven't yet reached that level of incivility and sectarianism. (This is America, after all -- not the Balkans, and not Iraq.)"

Okay, I guess I will say something. Your comments are not "mere" insults, Daniel. And I don't dismiss them . . . I think about them.

I never said Craig was not a good man, I said he participated in a Mormon/Christian worship service in a Tabernacle built for the god of Joseph Smith. He then endorsed a book written by a high profile Mormon on the nature of Jesus (destined for Christian bookstores) saying it was "a great service to all of us."

One year later, he tells a Christian radio host that "I actually believe that Mormonism is a tremendous achievement of the devil!” [1]

I simply printed the truth about the man being considered for the Presidency of Biola . . . in his own words.

I wouldn't worry too much about his chances at Biola being torpedoed, though . . . Frank Beckwith should be able to reassure you on that score. Who are we, after all? Just simple Christians defending the faith against compromise . . . like a few fishermen and a tax collector.

No one will listen to us . . . .

"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong...that no man should boast before God." 1 Cor 1:26-29

Your voice counts!

Contact Biola:

Stan Jantz
Board of Trustees
Chairman, Presidential Search Team

Gary MillerProvost and Senior Vice President
Phone: (562) 903-4703

Carol Taylor
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Phone: (562) 903-4713

[1] Emphasis added. Stand to Reason Radio Archives, December 19, 2004,; also posted as airing July 3, 2005, (accessed March 21, 2007).


Francis J. Beckwith said...

I was asked to post this by my friend, Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason (

One must see that evening in Salt Lake city in its totality to be able to understand the highly nuanced approach Craig Hazen was taking in his remarks, with Michael Card, Joseph Tkach, and Ravi Zacharias all playing a very precise role in the effort that night. Isolate Paul's opening remarks on Mars Hill from his later remarks in that address and you'll have the same problem that Jill Risch created in her post. This was a team effort from many of the guys who wrote the New Mormon Challenge, which was not a book written by men ready to genuflect before Joseph Smith.

Why is it when some Christians, appropriately zealous for the truth, consider events like the one in Salt Lake City, they immediately take the worst spin on it possible? It seems they would rather think that Craig Hazen, Frank Beckwith, Michael Card, Joseph Tkach, Greg Johnson, and Ravi Zacharias all turned on a dime and marched right off the doctrinal cliff without blinking than to think that possibly these wise, learned, astute, men of God with collective centuries of sacrificial service to the Gospel had found a clever entry into a fortress that was heretofore impregnable.

At the very most Jill Risch might charge these men with bad judgment, certainly not with blasphemy or abandoning the Gospel because of unwillingness to offend.

Think about it. These men are not soft. Each has a long history of being deeply committed to the cause of Christ in the face of cultic challenges and secular assaults of all kinds. Like Jill's father, they are veterans of many battles from spiritual conflicts all over the world and bear the "scars" for their faithfulness to the cross. Is it not more likely Jill Risch has misunderstood her noble brothers than that these old soldiers either faltered in a moment of collective foolishness or, worse yet, having stood their ground before much more hostile audiences, now abandoned the Gospel in the face of the most genial opposition, an audience of Mormons?

Gregory P. Koukl
Stand to Reason

10:59 AM  
Jeff said...

Opps, Greg needs, what John Morehead would call, a paradigm- shift in this thinking. He is throwback...continuing to use those offensive words such as "cult" in reference to the Latter-day Saints. (NOTE: My remarks here are tongue-in-cheek of course).

One issue Greg doesn't address (and he couldn't address everything for sure) is the issue of what now happens after the "show." Big named evangelicals gathering with LDS. Evangelicals writing Forewords and promotions of LDS books, "evangelical publishers" (although I don't know if Eerdmans would be considered this) publishing books by LDS apologists, etc.

Just How Wide is the Divide? Many of us...what to push the antithesis (which I think is the right thing to do) between Christian theology and LDS theology, while at the same time, loving the LDS. We need to set apart Christ in our hearts...and with gentleness and respect...offer the hope that is within. But, we also need to contend for the faith against theologies that oppose it.

12:34 PM  
John Willis said...

Why shouldn't "big name" evangelicals meet with LDS leadership? Where is the inpropriety? Where is the compromise?

I have attended (2) lectures by Dr. Hazen on mormonism and he pulls no punches when it comes to mormon theology. Does Jill know this man has been praying according to John 15:5 for the redemption of the LDS church for most of his Christian life?

As he stated in one of his lectures in reference to the Nov 2004 meeting..." I didn't know God would use me to accomplish the answer to this prayer!"

This just boils down to an irrational, unfair attack of a godly man. This is the ugly, bottom dwelling side to self professed "discernment ministries" that does nothing (as far as I can see) to advance His Kingdom.

Jill quotes 2 Cor 15 as a proof text repeatedly to justify her "unequally yoked" position, but what does this verse have to do with evangelism? I mean if we take that verse as the only verse in the bible then she's absolutely right!...but that isn't the only verse in the book.

An example of what is happening here.....Consider a ship is sinking in the ocean and another ship wants to rescue the passengers of the damaged ship. It has to sail up next to the sinking ship. In doing so, the "good" ship risks being damaged when the "bad" ship eventually goes down. Some of the passengers on the "good" ship are going to get nervous about this rescue attempt and will kick, holler and scream that we should stay away and keep steaming along towards shore. But that is not the moral thing to do. The moral thing is to risk the damage in the hopes that some of the passengers may be saved as a result of bringing the two ships side by side. It takes courage. But we trust the Captain to save who He will save.

Of course some people who do not know the strikingly fundamental differences in theology will take this rescue attempt out of context. And Jill as a professed Christian is only aiding in this confusion with her actions. That is why this is so disheartening. Consider that all of us were on a sinking ship at one point. If someone didn't have the courage to sail along side us so that we could board we'd be sunk too.

8:00 PM  
Jeff said...

Why shouldn't "big name" evangelicals meet with LDS leadership? Where is the inpropriety? Where is the compromise?

I'm not sure if you are asking me the question, I assume so. But, where did I say evangelicals shouldn't meet with LDS leadership. You are reading something into my comments, which are not there.

Perhaps this is due to the fact a conversation on these issues has been going on for some time, which perhaps you haven't been a part of. All I was saying is what are we to make of it, and what will the the Church (at large) and the LDS think of this. How will it be used by both parties, etc.

Giving the fact that the LDS Church has certainly wanted to look more mainstream over the years, should these type of things cause a concern? Probably yes and no. The yes, "might" outway the no on this one though.

I hope I made some sense in the above post. Even though it is generally early (10pm), I'm beat.

9:02 PM  
Dwayna Litz said...

Unlike my former surprised reaction to the comments by Francis Beckwith, Greg Koukl's musings come as no surprise to me.

Interesting that neither Greg or Francis seems to be basing anything on what the Bible teaches in their comments.

Is there a Scripture quoted anywhere that I have missed from this "team" in the last few days?

10:34 AM  
John Willis said...

Dwayna -

Both JWs and LDS missionaries knock on my door and use scripture incorrectly and out of context. The response to them is the same. Who wrote the book you're quoting from, what is the historical and textual context? etc, etc, etc? Why would I even presume that Mrs. Rische understands any of these things? What good reasons do you have to believe that Mrs. Rische has used scripture correctly?

In otherwords, what compelling reason does anyone who knows nothing about this situation or Mrs. Rische have to take this charge seriously? Why would anyone want to respond to what appears to be an exercise in proof-texting?


12:20 PM  
Dwayna Litz said...

Quoting Scripture is different from paraphrasing it. I remember the days when I was growing up and people in Christianity had so much more respect for the Bible, before all of the slang, casual translations came out. I remember how we would have Bible drills and memorize Bible verses, and we wanted to get every single word correct out of reverence for God. Now, people tend to paraphrase verses instead of quoting them, and they also often tell what the verse means to them as individuals instead of taking the verses in context with other verses.

We know that when we quote a Scripture, we have to take it in context with other Scriptures. We have to take 1 Cor. 9:19-20 and 1 Cor. 10:33 IN CONTEXT with 1 Cor. 10:21 which reads: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” How about verse 23: “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable…”

Here is another one of my favorites:

“…if anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15 and

1 John 3:13: “Do not be surprised brethren if the world hates you.”

We see here plainly that we are not called to befriend the world and win them to Christ by humanistic methodologies which place relationships over God’s Word, hurting the Holy Spirit in the process.

I prayed today for Francis Beckwith. It was a sweet prayer, and I also prayed for Greg Koukle. It helped me to pray for them and made me care for them sincerely as my brothers in Christ, even though we disagree. I prayed that God would draw them near, just like I prayed that for myself. I came from my prayer time very much impressed that there is a bewitching spirit at work, and I prayed more than anything for God to protect me from the bewitching spirit. work (Please, let’s not debate whether or not God leads us subjectively; He leads us by His Spirit individually and subjectively—see John 14:27-- and He leads us through the Bible and through circumstances; I am only stating the way I felt today after my time in prayer, realizing that I cannot trust in my “feelings” and must test everything accordingly). Still, I am just stating that I did feel that there is a counterfeit, seductive spirit at work in all of this to lead us AWAY from the power of the Holy Spirit to mistakenly trust in the intellect, without submitting that intellect to God. I’m praying that God will open our eyes to that spirit at work, and that the Church will not be deceived.

Someone asks how I know if I am taking a Scripture in context or how to interpret Bible verses. Well, my friend, it certainly does come as a gift from God with salvation, when God truly regerates the heart. Romans 3 is very clear when the Bible teaches that NO ONE understands. God gives us understanding. It is gift from the Lord and nothing that I can give to anyone in evangelism, and it is certainly nothing I could ever give to myself. The Lord, by His mercy alone, saved me, and He has given me great sermons by Walter Martin and John MacArthur in the last few years of my life to feed me and grow me, and He also gave me a Christian family, especially a mother, who prayed for me before I was ever born. My mother taught me how to pray before I could talk plainly and taught me to sing hymns before I could even talk plainly. I started singing in churches and revival meetings these hymns as a soloist at age three--I am VERY undeserving of such a testimony. When I think of God's mercy on me, it often brings me to tears, that He would LET me grow up singing songs of praise to Him. So to answer your question: ONLY BY GOD'S MERCY do we learn anything about such a Savior. I am a wretched sinner who would never want to sing His praises without His mercy on me. But, He continues to put within my heart a new song.

6:54 PM  
John Willis said...


Thank you for your reply. I also visited your blog. I think I have read just about everything you have published on this topic in the last few days. A few observations....

There is a tension here for you between what you believe God's word has to say and what you think Dr. Hazen's words and actions on Nov 14, 2004 actually mean. From your position they are in conflict and of course like any of us would, you side with your interpretation of the Word of God. If God is speaking clearly about this issue from His word then that settles it for me too. However,from what I've read on your blog and your comments here I think you are wrong about both. I think you are wrong about what God's word has to say and you are wrong about Dr. Hazen's tactics.

Mrs. Rische's charge against Craig Hazen is blasphemy. And she swings 2 Cor 14 like a sword as she charges "The biblical position on any alliance with Mormons is clear"...

Why Mrs Rische thinks it is an "alliance" and why she thinks the biblical position is clear remains an unanswered mystery of her mind that I hope she address shortly.

My particular concern with you is that in all of your recent comments you have failed to provide a public argument for why you support Jill's interpretation of 2 COR 14. In fact in response to my question - "how do you know Jill is using scripture in context correctly"? you replied with a generalization.....

You wrote: "Now, people tend to paraphrase verses instead of quoting them, and they also often tell what the verse means to them as individuals instead of taking the verses in context with other verses.

We know that when we quote a Scripture, we have to take it in context with other Scriptures.
(emphasis mine)

You then go on to quote favorite verses of yours from different chapters of John in support of each other. While I think these two verses of John compliment each other, your answer does not tell us anything about how you know Jill is interpreting 2 COR 14 correctly.

Further, I think you are conflating two very different hermeneutics here which may explain why a correct interpretation of Jill's chosen proof-text - 2 COR 14, is not presenting itself clearly for you.

Bible verses are read in textual context with the surrounding verses. We look to the surrounding words, the previous and subsequent paragraph, the chapter, and then the book or letter. The value in interpreting any written communication from a person (or Person) with this approach is relatively easy to see by attempting the opposite.

For example, I could take sentences of yours from other blog postings to construct a string of various Dwayna Litz sayings, putting them in such an order of my choosing that we would lose the emphasis and plain meaning you intended. We must not do the same with God's word, if we truly want to respect it as such.

The hermeneutic you've actually described is the process of using scripture to interpret other scripture. This is reasonably applied when one verse is not immediately clear given the surrounding textual context, or when we want to bring a fuller context to bear on what appears on it's face to be a contradiction. We might do this when we read Jesus tell us that "God is spirit", and we also read that God has hands. From the textual context we know Christ's words are plain, so there is no reason to invoke anything but a literal meaning. Therefore we know that the passages that talk about God having body parts are metaphorical.

Interestingly enough, if Mrs. Risch had used either one of these devices in interpreting 2 COR 14, I don't think she would've come to such a forcefully irrational conclusion.

You also wrote: "I prayed today for Francis Beckwith. It was a sweet prayer, and I also prayed for Greg Koukle. It helped me to pray for them and made me care for them sincerely as my brothers in Christ, even though we disagree."

Although I think prayer is always a good idea, and I can't speak for Mr. Beckwith or Mr. Koukl, please do not pray for me. I don't think anyone needs or wants this kind of condescending "you are so wrong about this-I can't believe I sat in traffic years ago to listen to you at Biola-I was so myopic to listen to you back then, it is sad to not even want to hear a CD from the same teachers I waited in stand still traffic to hear back then-please God change their hearts because you know I'm right" kind of prayer. I don't think the phrase "I'm praying for you" works well at the end of a witnessing session with an unbelieving friend where they got the best of you in argument and I don't think we can use that phrase in absence of sincere dialog with fellow Christians either! We may very well be praying for our enemies as God has commanded us, but it is condescending to support a blasphemy charge by lobbing 30 second sound bites over the fence like this grenade...." "Do the “leaders” realize the possibility of merely being used as “intellectual pawns” for the spiritually dark paradigm of monism?:..... and then when challenged retreating to...."I'm praying for you!"

We are deceiving ourselves if we say we love God and do not love other people. And we do not love other people by lobbing pithy insults over the blogosphere for the promotion of our "discernment ministry".

If there is any real Christian love for Craig Hazen there would be a sound argument attached to these charges. But there isn't - and that is deeply troubling. I would love to say I'm praying for you, but that would be condescending. Instead, I propose we discuss our theological and tactical differences as humble followers of Christ have for millenia - with reason and logic.

If you think I'm being harsh or taking your words out of context, consider your last paragraph Dwayna. Instead of telling us how you know Jill is interpreting scripture correctly you offerred us your testimony. This is a mormon tactic!..... "I know this is right because I prayed in my heart and I felt the burning in the bosom." I don't let the Mormon missionaries who knock on my door get away with this 'subjective out of bounds for rational inquiry response', and I'm not letting you get away with this either. As a brother in Christ that wouldn't be the loving thing to do.

In closing, I urge you to address the interpretation issue first. Then we can move on to considering whether Dr. Hazen is really "aligning" anything with our Mormon friends. What is your argument for supporting Jill's interpretation of 2 COR 14?


12:38 AM  
Jeff said...

Those at this blog maybe interested in an exchange (although brief at this point) on my blog with John Morehead on the issue of common ground.

4:47 AM  

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