Mission: Invincible...The Next Step

Pressing On to the Next Stage
James Patrick Holding

Around a year ago, Tekton Apologetics Ministries incorporated itself as a non-profit organization. I did this as a first step towards making it a full time venture. The time has now come to take further steps -- and there is a way you who read this can help.

In the same past year I have also found a highly-supportive church home with pastors who care deeply about apologetics and recognize the need for material like what is found on Tekton. We will be working with them on ways to fulfill the vision of Tekton as a fulltime ministry...but you who are regular readers can help as well, and it won't mean spending anything but a little time.

In an effort to encourage support for the ministry, I am collecting testimonies from those who have found Tekton useful or encouraging in their Christian walk. These need not be long or involved -- two paragraphs would be just fine, although if Tekton has been helpful in specific cases, that would be good to know as well. If you'd like to help us this way, just send what you compose to me via email (in the text of an e-mail is fine) at jphold@iexalt.net. These testimonies will be used as a "selling point" (if I may borrow a secular term) to those who may be able to support Tekton with funding. You may remain anonymous if you wish, but if you do, I would like to at least offer a geographical reference.

That's the summary. Now for the stumping and the hard sell. If you need proof that Tekton needs to be a fulltime venture, then read what follows.

There are many, many Christian apologetic sites on the Net, but few, VERY few, are taking things to the depth and range that Tekton has. Those that do also, that I know of, you will find linked on this page. But they are indeed a distinct minority.

Try this test as I did. Go to the Google search engine. Now type in the words "Mithraism" and "Christianity." You'll find a lot of neutral historical sites; you'll see our Tekton article on Mithraism (listed #11, last I checked) -- and you will find many, many articles by people claiming that Mithraism was a source for Christianity. These are all amateurs, and nuisances like Acharya S; they all use arguments that our article takes to pieces...but it remains that these outnumber us.

Now do the same for "Dionysus" and "Christianity" -- our Tekton article comes up #3, and there are many neutral articles, but there are also dozens that claim Dionysus as a source for Christianity.

Now, finally, insert the name "Farrell Till" -- you will see perhaps a dozen pages in response to Till, many of them from here. But you will find several dozen calling Till a genius, a scholar, etc. -- titles he does not deserve, but that is what they say.

Now put yourself for the moment in the place of a new or young believer, scouring the Internet for the first time. What do you suppose this would look like to someone searching for truth to buttress their faith?

In Tekton's history we have had many people write and tell us of their searches for material on Josh McDowell, who ended up on the Secular Web, reading their responses to McDowell, which gave their faith a tempestuous ride...until they found the Tekton response as well. This is all well and good, but what happens when it is a subject that I (or one of the other "detail apologists" I link to) haven't gotten to?

A few have been surprised to learn that Tekton is a venture pursued in my spare time from work, in wee hours of mornings, on occassional days or mornings off...it was assumed that this work is the result of a permanent position, 40 hours per week. It is not. I desperately want it to be. My heart aches as I see the work that needs to be done, the hearts that need to be mended, the deceivers who need to be corrected, the strongholds that need to be destroyed. They are many. We have every advantage needed to take them on, with the exception of time. 10-12 hours a week isn't going to be enough to do what needs to be done.

I can perhaps bring this home with a more concrete, real-life example. While searching for sites that linked to Tekton, I found an article in the mailbox of an atheistic website called "Positive Atheism." This site is, intellectually, a peanut-level venture -- the owner of this site is manifestly (as can be shown below) one of those sorts like Dennis McKinsey who uncritically accepts whatever suits his polemical purposes to be published on his site; he confuses quantity with quality, and professes to have run the gamut of beliefs in his lifetime, having clearly been unable to grasp any of his beliefs intellectually, and now, being tired of thinking, has settled into atheism in spite of its own intellectual problems as something he can let others defend for him. The letter he offers serves well as an example of how Tekton can affect lives, and if we may venture an opinion that is not to my glory but to that of our God, how impotent and helpless the critics have come to be in response.

A letter writer named "Randy" wrote to the editor of this site (named Cliff Walker) earlier this year. After preliminary greetings and compliments, and introducing himself as a relatively new atheist, Randy noted that he has spent a great deal of time on the web, looking at debates between freethinkers and Christians. He tells Cliff, "Several times I have read letters from christians and get the feeling that maybe I had made a mistake in giving up my faith, only to have my confidence rebuilt by your response." And then the letter becomes extremely interesting:

Well, I am in need of some confidence. I know it is not your responsibility to take care of needy atheists like my self, but if you could offer a few words of encouragement, they might go a long way.
For the past two hours I have been reading material on the web site: the editor, Mr. Holding, does a very good job at attacking many of the ideas and much of the literature that have been so instrumental in maintaining my confidence in atheism as a philosophy. After reading his rebuttals and critiques, I find my resolve weakening. I don't know if this fellow is just a smooth talker, or the scholar he appears to be. If you have ever visited his site, or are familiar with his work, I would appreciate your comments. He attacks the work of people like, Dan Barker, Dennis Mckinsey, Randall Helms, and Hyam Maccoby, with great skill. If you know of any scholarly work done specifically to refute Mr. Holdings claims, please pass on to me where I can find the information. Thank you.

I was quite astonished, to say the least, to read Randy's letter. Matters of faith (and politics as well!) are seldom decided by people changing horses due to argument. It happens, but it is very rare. But what is even more poignant is how Mr. Walker of the Positive Atheism site chose to respond.

He begins by making light of our statement of being a non-profit organization and soliciting donations. He calls this, "not an argument in favor of my viewpoint or against his -- only a clue as to his motive for doing his work versus my motive for doing mine."

But of course. Mr. Walker, who knows me and my motives intimately, is quite right. I am in this for the money; that is why I have set the goal of replacing my salary as a librarian (it's $28,000) in order to enter into fulltime ministry. That is why I spend almost all of my spare time off from work at a computer terminal; why I spend half to three-quarters of my lunch hour on a terminal in the public library where I work, answering e-mail; that is why I spend many weekdays off for hours at a seminary library; that is why I have just now invested $3500 of my own money to publish a book on Mormonism. I'm saving for an air-conditioned doghouse to live in, and if I don't eat and neither does my family, 28K can buy a LOT of doghouses! What does Walker expect those in the ministry to do, scrape lichen off of rocks to eat? If this is not an argument, then why does Mr. Walker make light of it? It is because he can't answer the arguments I present and needs something to hang his hat on! More proof? Let's watch as he gets into my article on secular references to Jesus. Walker quotes portions of the initial material, where I say the Christ myth is a sign of desperation, etc., and describes them in terms of logical fallacies -- which they would indeed be, if I had not gone on to actually deal with the data. But when it gets down to the part where I deal with the data of the records of Tacitus, Josephus, and others, something very odd happens -- Mr. Walker suddenly stops analyzing! Instead, he only says, "If you have any specific questions about what this guy is doing, I'd be glad to take them on." So glad was he to do so that he didn't even bother!

In response to my point that the Jesus myth is a new idea, he claims that the "idea is as old as the hills, dating back to Porphyry of Tyre (ca. 232-ca. 300 C.E.) and before" (no -- Porphyry never hypothesized that a person named Jesus did not exist at the required time and place, but did suggest things were added to this person -- not the same as the Christ-myth!); he responds to my claim that the Christ-myth is "popular" by saying that "the truly big money is in portraying Jesus as The One True God described in the Gospels" (there's that "money-grubbing evangelist" bit again! For someone who decries ad hominem, Mr. Walker engages in more than his fair share; even so my delimitation is that the theory is popular in disbeleiving circles!) and then throws a bale of confetti into the air, saying "The main point is that all we have to go on are admittedly and obviously biased Gospel accounts that were not published until decades after Jesus lived -- after the nation of those who allegedly knew Jesus was leveled by Roman armies, when there was nobody left to dispute any historical claims made in the Gospel accounts. While I find the 'Jesus-Myth' line quite credible, I must stick to the 'Jesus Agnosticism' of Robert M. Price because quite frankly, we don't know who's telling the truth. The Roman Catholic Church was in control of the manuscripts for almost two millennia, and we know the Church has a history of changing historical accounts to suit her needs (particularly, strengthening the credibility of the Jesus myth, which is her bread and butter)." I call this the technique hurling the elephant -- assembling a package of summary arguments, and throwing them wholesale together without any data backup anywhere, most often not even references, in order to make it look like there can be no reasonable response, because in order to respond, one must have a mastery of a wide variety of subjects and a corresponding detail-package of information. It is much easier, as I have noted, for a "freethinker" to complain in ignorance and sound like an authority than it is for them to actually research, deal with, and respond to the data. Every one of these charges (bias in the Gospels, length of time, witnesses, textual control) are dealt with in fine detail on this site or in links -- but you won't see the likes of Mr. Walker making an effort to refute them. They are over his head -- as his further response shows. After more non-data, non-refuting commentary, the next point that hit me was this -- regarding my comment that G. A. Wells was a German professor working out of field of specialty, Walker writes:

Genetic fallacy. Wells, for example, makes his living teaching German literature so he can support his hobby, biblical studies. He is an accomplished writer in the subject, and I have yet to hear a good response to the objections he raises. One need not be a "Biblical Scholar" in order to sort through the various arguments invoked in favor of the Gospel accounts: I saw through those as a teenager.

Fallacy it might be, IF I did not go on to prove the relevance of it -- which I have, both in that article and in responses to Earl Doherty (who uses the same sort of arguments about silence in the epistles that Wells does), which Walker knows nothing about. And that Walker thinks that he as a teenager was competent to make such evaluations only shows the immense egotism of the typical freethinker -- of those who are too incompetent to realize how incompetent they are. If this is not so, then why did Walker stop commenting prior to the hard data in the article? (He claims in a comment on this article that my arguments on Tacitus, etc., "have been more than adequately addressed by [G. A.] Wells and the others," apparently not noticing that a) it is Wells' own arguments, and that of "others" (who??) that are refuted in that article, and b) Wells himself has run from this page with his tail tucked between his legs. He describes the argument for Josephus as "overwhlemingly weak," but offers no details, and I think Jeff Lowder might have something to say about that, since I essentially agree with his presentation!)

I note that "relevant scholarly consensus is unanimous" that the Jesus-myth is incorrect. Walker accuses me of the "fallacy of the flat-out lie. The 'consensus' is not unanimous." It is indeed, among relevant scholars (historians, not professors of German and kidney specialists!), and Walker offers not a single name indicating the opposite. Walker then, yet again, pulls the money-grub argument: "...most biblical scholars get their paychecks from the church. More than a few biblical scholars have become atheists as the direct result of their studies, and have had to find new jobs because if it." The last I checked, Michael Grant's checks, and those of Robin Lane Fox, were not signed by the Pope or by any religious official. What is stopping them from adhering to the Jesus-myth? Inevitably, it will be a conspiracy of some sort otherwise unevidenced, or ignorance otherwise unverified. (Walker calls my replies of this sort "picking apart my words at the molecular level" and says he is trying "to make a basic point to inspire my fellow-atheists to do their own research." One smells here the same sort of tactic used by McKinsey in trying to excuse away his own errors' i.e., "I'm so busy," etc. -- well, if Mr. Walker can't handle the heat and construct a careful-enough argument then to imitate a direction on his own page, the exit is "that way".)

In response to my observation that the Jesus-myth is promulgated on a popular level as though absolutely proven, Walker has this comment:

It is not being "promulgated" on much of a level at all, but is rather obscure, compared to the fundamentalist Christian view that Jesus is who the Gospels say he is, and compared with the considerably less popular view that Jesus was a historical figure but never thought he was God. The "Jesus-Myth" viewpoint is not popular at all.

Mr. Walker continues to fail basic reading. I have said that it is popular in disbelieving circles; and it is promulgated on a popular level (i.e., in books sold in Books-a-Million, and on the Internet by skeptical hacks) -- not that it was "popular" in and of itself. But where reading fails, more hypocritical ad hominem will do; Walker says: "I'm tempted to suggest that this guy has his head up his [anatomical reference deleted - JPH], but I fear that he knows exactly what he's doing. I suspect that he's as scared of Wells's work as I would have been had I encountered it as a Christian." Once again it is interesting how many personal psychological insights must be assumed, if Walker truly has a handle on the evidence of the matter! Fear of Wells' work? My only fear is that a crate of Wells' books might fall on me and kill me! Walker then goes on to claim that "Nobody on the 'Jesus-Myth' side pretends that the 'Jesus-Myth' position is 'absolutely proven,' " which only proves that he has had limited encounters with Christ-mythers. Does he know Acharya S at all? And even if they say, that is, pay lip service by saying that they haven't "absolutely proven" their thesis, that is not the same as writing as though the thesis were proven.

And that, in sum, is it -- no dealing with my hard data of Tacitus, Josephus, et al.; rather, Walker issues this cop-out: "If you want to go along with him on matters that cannot be proven one way or another, be my guest. However, since he has shown himself to be less than honest in how he portrays testable matters -- what the major 'Jesus-Myth' proponents do and do not teach -- I feel I don't even have to pay attention to what he has to say about untestable matters and other dubious claims." No, of course not -- and now it's my turn to play psycho-historian. What we have in Cliff Walker is a skeptic manifestly unable to deal with the real data, who was incapable of understanding and defending what he believed on the most elementary level as a Christian (and is STILL incapable as an atheist!), who must resort to dealing only with summary statements, and even reading many of them incorrectly at that, in order to manufacture an excuse for avoiding the tough questions. I do agree on one thing: Randy is quite free to choose who he wishes to go with -- and who he does choose will reveal much about his own proclivities.

Walker adds: "Besides: So what if there was a Jesus? You still have a long way to go before you can show the Gospels to be telling the truth about him!" We've taken steps on that "long way" throughout the Tekton page and through links; the secular refs article was never intended to prove matters that far, but Walker, obviously insecure in his own place, clearly felt the need to make this comment just in case! But of course he never got past the articles linked on the first page of Tekton (much less to Helms, Barker, etc.) -- all he can do is say to his charge:

So why is it that you need an education as sophisticated as this fellow appears to have? (I've never seen footnotes written that way: must be how the ultra-scholars do it -- just so us neophytes will be impressed with their scholarliness.) Why must we be able to sort through all this fine stuff -- just to find God?

Of course you don't have to "sort through all this fine stuff" -- this "fine stuff" is produced as a response to those trying to escape the crystal-clear clarity, trying to get out of the blazing sunshine, by manufacturing excuses and arguments based on thin air. As noted, "freethinkers" have the unmatchable advantage of being able to throw any argument in the air without backup or investigation (just "common sense") and claiming implicitly to be an authority. Those of us who are disciplined in our scholarship don't have that option.

Walker closes with a comment on my article on baptism for the dead: "I haven't even read the article beyond his beginning to explain what I Corinthians 15:29 really means. If he can explain that one, he'll be the first..." Well, that's certainly the way to offer an answer! Don't you wish we could earn respect by keeping it this simple? He then recommends that Randy pick up Robert Price's Deconstructing Jesus (memo to Randy: check out my book review on that one). And last: "...I have better things to do than to take Jesus studies any more seriously than the entertainment value that they have provided me with for over twenty years, now." Twenty years, of doing what, precisely? Mulluguthering, playing the "money grub" card, misrepresenting ideological opponents, being a hypocrite, not answering the actual data, spouting profanities for emotional effect, passing the buck to others? There's only one big problem in this, and that is that indeed there are far too many people like Walker who have spent twenty years or more frightening and misleading people, especially the brethren. To Randy, I say this only: I hope you have seen through Mr. Walker's goulash, and will open a discussion with me; I welcome honest inquirers with the respect they deserve...and give the lash only to those who think they "know it all" before they even start. To my other readers, I close with this: We need Tekton full time. Mr. Walker's impotence and fish-flopping is plain evidence (only the latest!) of this ministry's effectiveness, of the Holy Spirit's movement through these pages. Please submit your testimony and help make full-time ministry a reality. Free my warrior side from its shackles, and let the destruction of strongholds begin in earnest. As a final encouragement, I will share with you my vision for Tekton's future.

Located here, you will find a template for a Tekton with unlimited potential -- as a multiple-point access, online apologetics encyclopedia. It will have the keyword search we now have (via PicoSearch, or perhaps another methods). On the left side, searches will be enabled by an alphabetical reference point, either by subject or by last name of a person. On the right, searches will be made according to Biblical cite. The entries below that are samples of how a typical encyclopedia "entry" would look, with links to articles and recommendations for reading, as appropriate. This encyclopedia will address all the topics you find here now, and more -- social issues like abortion and homosexuality, internal Christian matters like speaking in tongues -- but it cannot come to fruition as merely something done in spare time. On that schedule it would take 50 or more years to complete. On a fulltime schedule, it could be finished in less than 10 years -- less than that if the ministry grows even further.

The time to establish this legacy is now. I pray in earnest that all who read this will be a part of it.

I remain,

Your servant in Christ,

James Patrick Holding