Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Apostles became fearless preachers’

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Published: Thursday, Nov. 17 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

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Salt Lake City, UT

A fairly historical and well written article, but shame on you for not listing the, obviously possible (oxymoron) answer. Just a matter of piquing interest?

John E
Provo, UT

Great article! I think everything Daniel Peterson writes is truly worth reading. He has a great mind, is a scholar and has a strong testimony of the Gospel, besides that he speaks and writes so interestingly! I am a fan!

West Haven, Utah

He is right. There is a very obvious, possible answer for the change of heart of the Apostles after the resurrection of our Savior and before his ascension 40 days later. Their state of mind, their faith, would not have only been strengthened, but would have been made 'sure.'

Hope I didn't give it away!

Phoenix, AZ

Pehaps, the obvious, possible answer is that it just did not happen.


Having recently had the opportunity to read many of the writings in the Hugh Nibley collection, I anticipate that Dr. Petersen's answer to the question will indeed be provided in an upcoming article, and that it will speculate that Christ taught the apostles of Temple Ordinances, Eternal Families, the Plan of Salvation - the gospel which was restored through Joseph Smith and other latter-day prophets but which did not originate with them. There is much documented evidence in newly discovered (during this century)pseudepigraphical(had to look that one up) writings of Temple ordinances among the early Christian Church. I look forward to Dr. Petersen's discussion, which will by necessity be far too brief, of this topic.

Port Alice, B.C.

Ah, the sceptics of the world are always with us. Just unhappy little people whose mommies made them go to church.

West Haven, Utah

Funny. Skeptic actually helps prove the point. His take is it really didn't happen. The Apostles had been taught by the Master for a period of three years during his mortal ministry. They had been taught the Plan of Salvation, yet they had to believe everything taught by the Master on faith alone (something Skeptic has lost), with periodic 'evidence' based on Christ's miracles. Much earlier, as children, they had been taught that, when the Messiah came, he would set things in order and would never die. It must have been a great trial of their faith when the Master told them that he would, indeed, die. They had seen him heal all that came to him. They had seen him raise the dead twice. They had seen him provide meals for thousands with just a couple of loaves of bread (and some small fishes). Now, the Master would die. Who wouldn't think that the miracles would die with him? Knowing that the Savior would die, is it any wonder that Peter lost faith? Is it any wonder that the rest of the Apostles scattered, unsure of their own survival?

West Haven, Utah

And then it happened! On the third day after the Crucifixion, Christ was resurrected! And not him only, but many of the righteous who had awaited the resurrection of the Messiah, as it was only after the resurrection of Jesus that the others could take back their bodies. This wasn't some random stories to the Apostles - they actually saw it occur! They met with him, talked with him, communed with him. How could they deny? Their faith in this thing was no longer faith, but was sure knowledge! After this experience, which of the Apostles would ever fear death? All now knew that there is, indeed, life after death. They now knew the teachings of the Plan of Salvation were all true as well! They joyfully taught others these truths - others who had not seen what they had seen. Others that would have to believe with faith the things the Apostles knew with certainty.

Before the crucifixion, the Apostles believed based on faith. After the resurrection, they had faith no more, but a sure knowledge of the things they were teaching. Death meant nothing to them. The good news (gospel) meant everything.

My apologies to Dr. Peterson.

Eugene, OR

The rather obvious answer as to what made them courageous afterwards is that Jesus really did appear to them over that 40-day, post-Easter period ....including His appearance to over 500 brethren at once in Galilee.
When the Holy Ghost fell upon them as promised, they were not filled with doubt about its reality. They were no longer, as they were at Passover, confused between what their society had always taught them about the coming of the Messiah and the actual events of Christ's arrest and death.

American man

skeptic,10:52 am, 11-17-11.

Do you have any evidencs that it did not happen?

Salt Lake City, UT

There is a part two to this, right?

sandy, ut

BobP - many people believe it did not happen. That doesn't make them little or unhappy as you claim. Just because you want to bad to make everybody believe or label them foolish does not mean that it is true. It may have happened, it may not have happened. Either way both sides have a right to comment and state their opinion. If you are the example of how believers treat non-believers when they don't believe then I am certain that I don't want to be a part of the believeing camp.

Clearfield, UT


Although I'm not skeptic I'm skeptical about the actual existence of Jesus as a divine or real person. Here's why:

No one has the slightest physical evidence to support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-written manuscripts. All documents about Jesus came well after the life of the alleged Jesus from either: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or from fraudulent, mythical or allegorical writings. All sources about Jesus derive from hearsay accounts. The Gospels did not come into the Bible as original and authoritative from the authors themselves, but rather from the influence of early church fathers. Non-Christian sources come from authors who lived after the alleged life of Jesus. What appears most revealing of all, comes not from what people later wrote about Jesus but what people did not write about him. Consider that not a single historian, philosopher, scribe or follower who lived before or during the alleged time of Jesus ever mentions him! Regardless of the position held by a scholar or believer, if they cannot support a hypothesis with good evidence then it can only remain_a_hypothesis. I have more I can present! Your evidence????

layton, UT

Re: The evidences for the resurrection.
The legal system provides some useful insights. For an example is there sufficient evidence for us to believe such claims within the N.T. are true? American jurisprudence provides two helpful standards of evidence that are used in most legal disputes. 1. Mere preponderance. 2. Reasonable doubt. John Warwick Montgomery argues that the evidence we possess for the resurrection of Christ actually exceeds the legal standard of reasonable doubt.
The evidential case for the resurrection of Christ is so formidable that one who rejects the resurrection is to do so on self-consciously irrational grounds. *Apostolic preachers were, in effect, cross examined every time they proclaimed the gospel.

But does the sheer weight of evidence, compelling beyond all reasonable doubt, force someone to become a Christian? No! This job is assigned to the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is to enable the heart of the sinful man to freely act upon the compelling evidences.
For God so loved the world that he gave his One and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV) The mini-Gospel.

Marine Corps Vet
Tempe, AZ

Jiggle @ 1:13 pm.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around your assertion; "consider that not a single histroian, philosopher, scribe or follower who lived before or doing the alleged time of Jesus ever mentions him".

With the singular exception of Luke, whose date of bith we cannot discern with absoulute authority, all other authors of the New Testament lived during the time of Jesus and all certainly qualified as being his "followers". In the second century A.D. there were over 90 well known written works that centered on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Many (most) of these "books" including the 27 books that became cannonized as the "testament" of Jesus Christ were authored by those who lived during the time of Christ and knew him well, including Mary Magdaline. That bit of factual trivia makes your statement, quoted above, baseless and factualy ignorant.

Provo, Ut

Sharrona -

If the evidence is that compelling, then perhaps you could provide just the most compelling evidence in your next comment. What say you?

Here is the best evidence - If Jesus needed to prove his divinity by appearing to other after his resurrection, then given that we are now some two thousand years after that event, and seeing as how we should have every rational reason to doubt a story that has passed through so many hands, perhaps Jesus ought to just show himself now. Until he does, I'll follow Peters example and work on my boat.

Clearfield, UT


You must have certain evidence Jesus existed before you can use "reasonable doubt" for his resurrection.

The evidence for the supposed events on which Christianity bases its truth is not based on direct evidence, but only indirect (circumstantial) evidence. There is nothing wrong with circumstantial evidence. However, since such evidence is based on drawing valid inferences from other, direct facts which have been proven, the inferences drawn must be examined carefully. Circumstantial evidence is sufficient...if the finding is reasonably probable (not merely possible) and more probable than any other alternative the inference sought from circumstantial evidence must outweigh all contrary inferences so as to amount to a preponderance of all inferences that might be drawn from the same circumstances. It is these inferences which must satisfy the test of comparable probability. For instance, is it more probable to believe that an executed man came back to life, or that his followers convinced themselves that such an event took place? Which is the more probable explanation? That is the fundamental problem with the Christian "evidence": it is not legally acceptable evidence, and there IS ample reasonable doubt. Sorry, but the premise you present can easily be disputed.

sandy, ut

Marine Corps Vet - You didn't ask me the question, but I will answer it according to my understanding. The gospel of Luke in the new testament, as we read it, has never been proven to have come from Luke. If you do just a little research you will find that most historians peg this gospel to Luke, but none can say for sure as the earliest manuscript they have is from 200's A.D. - clearly after Luke was dead. So while you may think the scriptures are accurate as Luke wrote them at the time, that is far from the truth. It is hard to tell 2,000 years after the fact what is real, what is fiction, and what is a little of both.

The gospel of Matthew, Mark, and John were written anonymously, most historians attribute them to those named in the new testament, but again none can be sure. So to me that isn't terribly reliable.

We have been told that these men wrote these gospels, and that is why we believe it without question. But factually we don't know and that is why religious history is so cloudy and unreliable.

Clearfield, UT

@Marine Corps Vet

I don't make assertions not based on facts....or at least on scholarly opinion_study, so it isn't factually ignorant. The consensus of many biblical historians put the dating of the earliest Gospel, that of Mark, at sometime after 70 C.E., and the last Gospel, John after 90 C.E. [Pagels, 1995; Helms]. This would make it some 40 years after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus that we have any Gospel writings that mention him. Elaine Pagels writes that "the first Christian gospel was probably written during the last year of the war, or the year it ended. Where it was written and by whom we do not know; the work is anonymous, although tradition attributes it to Mark..." [Pagels, 1995]
The traditional Church has portrayed the authors as the apostles Mark, Luke, Matthew, & John, but scholars know from critical textural research that there simply occurs no evidence that the gospel authors could have served as the apostles described in the Gospel stories. The stories themselves cannot serve as examples of eyewitness accounts since they came as products of the minds of the unknown authors, and not from the characters themselves.

Syracuse, UT

Excellent article! Those who doubt want all the evidence in front of them. I have no doubt that Christ has appeared to many people since his resurrection. Those who he appeared to were those who believed in him. Those who doubt will not be convinced because they doubt all things that are spiritual.

To study the lives of the original twelve and also the Apostle Paul is a pleasure and enlighting experience.

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