Book Plunge: The Unveiled Wife

What do I think of Jennifer Smith’s book published by Tyndale? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This book is the story of one woman who got married expecting to find a paradise of roses, but ending up having more thorns. Why? Picture a Christian couple who have saved themselves for marriage who then marry. Later on, the guys all want to ask the groom, “So did you enjoy your first time?”

Jennifer Smith’s husband would not be able to answer that.

In fact, he would not be able to answer that for four years. His wife had intense pain every time they attempted so that they couldn’t seal the deal as it were. This led to increased friction between the two and them. Smith shares the story from her perspective.

Wow. What can I say about this book? I have to say this is one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read. While we didn’t have the same problems, such as four years of a sexless marriage, I found some struggles that my own wife went through and thought “Wow. Other people went through this?” In fact, they went through it even more.

What makes the book so good is that Smith shares her own personal experience. She is truly unveiled as she lets the reader into the then dark places of her soul. She lets you know what she was thinking and feeling. The picture is not a pretty one. At the same time, the beauty is that it’s a real one.

In fact, one night after reading this on my Kindle, I went to the Facebook app and sent my own wife a message about how I wanted to be a better husband. I think I do good already, but there’s ALWAYS room for improvement. I wanted to let her know I’m here for any struggles that she has. The story in the book moves me that much.

Smith is a talented writer who gets you drawn into the story. Even though I knew going in what was the problem with the couple, it was nothing like getting to hear the story itself. When you get to the point where the trouble is resolved in the account, it is like reading a miracle account and you truly celebrate with them at that point.

Wives. This book will also show what a difference sex does play in a marriage. When a couple goes four years without, it places a huge strain on the relationship. A man feels inadequate because a deep need can’t be satisfied. A woman feels inadequate because the need of her husband isn’t being met.

The book is also written for discussion quite easily, though largely aimed at women. Each chapter is short and ends with questions that can easily foster discussion. That makes this an excellent book for women to read together.

I can easily say this is one of the most powerful accounts I have ever read. The story has left me with a greater desire to be a better husband to my wife. I have also learned to work on my own insecurities and get past some grievances with some people who have hurt my wife.

While much of this is geared towards women, I do think it would be great for husbands and wives to read together and discuss. A man reading this can get to hear what it’s like in the mind of a woman. He will walk away realizing the impact that his actions have on her.

Please do go and get this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What’s The Point?

Why are we living the Christian life? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I saw one of my Facebook friends had a status where she was told by someone else that her time in Bible College being educated in the Bible was a waste. After all, will that help you to go to Heaven? I hate to say it, but I have encountered this attitude many times before. It’s a dangerous problem for the church.

I could focus a lot on the point that the Bible doesn’t really talk so much about going to Heaven as it does about the resurrection and the Kingdom of God, but that’s another point. The problem is that our Christianity today has made the goal of life be to get to Heaven. Unfortunately, in our descriptions, getting to Heaven seems to be the goal and God is often kind of secondary there.

What is the relationship between God and Heaven? Few people seem to think about this. That’s because few of us seem to really think about God anymore. Well, that is aside from thinking about all the stuff He ought to be doing for us. Isn’t it strange we don’t think as much about all that we should be doing for Him? God is often seen as someone there just to meet our needs.

This also causes us to ignore this world. I still think back to what one lady said in a Bible Study I was at with a church we used to attend. “I’m saved and my children are saved so we’re just waiting for Jesus to come.” Apparently, their Bible said, “You’re saved, but if you want to you can go into all nations and spread the Gospel, or you can just wait until I return one day.” Yes. Jesus needs to return to relieve our suffering, but what are we going to do for the suffering of others meanwhile?

Sadly, an education is often seen as a threat. Couldn’t your learning get in the way of knowing God? I did write about this in an earlier post. To say that it is is like saying “I want to be married to my wife, I just don’t want to waste time on all that stupid stuff like getting to know her as a person. Oh yes. I want to make sure that she also has plenty of sex with me.” Of course, most any husband will want plenty of sex, but what would we think of the man who wanted it absent of really knowing who his wife is as a person? Such a person is essentially just using his wife to meet his own desires. Are we guilty of doing that with God?

It’s easy for us to sit back and talk about all that God owes us. Let’s make it simple. What does He owe you? He only owes you that which He’s already promised He will give you. If He has not promised it, He does not owe it. He doesn’t owe you perfection this side of eternity. He doesn’t owe you feeling good about yourself every day. He doesn’t owe you money or fame or anything else? Now let’s reverse the question. What do you owe God? You owe Him everything you have and it’s the selfish tendency of you and me to want to hold on to things that we have no rights to as if our true happiness is found apart from God. Of course, God gives us many things that can help bring us some happiness, but none of these will bring us ultimate happiness. When we start treating them like they will, they become idols and they quickly become our masters. (This is called addiction in extreme cases.)

The sad part is a greater education could help with this. One of the greatest boosts of mine to Christian living is to know the things that I believe and why and what a difference they make. Christianity has something to say about every aspect of life. It speaks about money, leisure, sex, friends, family, etc. Nothing I do is untouched by Christianity, or at least it shouldn’t be.

When we fail in our evangelistic duties and start thinking about how Christianity can help us, we become increasingly self-centered. For all of us, our tendency is to look out for #1. Aren’t we all thankful Jesus didn’t do that? Had Jesus done that, the crucifixion would not have happened. Jesus chose willing suffering to bring about redemption and the glory of God. Many of us think we can reach the glory by bypassing the suffering. It just won’t happen. The Bible regularly connects suffering with righteousness. We often connect it with the idea that we’re not living Christianity right.

I applaud my friend for wanting to have a greater education in the Bible. I wish we all did. We have too many sermons and Bible studies where we skip straight to the question of “What does the text mean to my life and how do I apply it right now?” instead of asking what the text meant to them and about the situation when it was written. We will not properly understand the latter without having some understanding of the former. We also increase the likelihood of a self-centered Christianity.

It’s my sincere hope that we return to a faith that is lived out well but understood well in the mind as well. We won’t all be intellectuals, but whatever intellect we all have we should focus some of it to understanding Christianity and what a difference it makes. We can look forward to Heaven, but let us not ignore the world around us as if Heaven is plan B because God’s just given up on this world. Greater knowledge of what we believe will not hurt us. It is the ignorance of the knowledge and the defiance of it that will.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/3/2016: Hugh Ross

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It used to be said that we lived on a pale blue dot. In this vast universe of ours, we are one solitary spot on the map. To some, this makes us seem insignificant. Why should there be a vast universe and yet this one tiny little planet that has life? If there is a God, why would He do something like this? Isn’t that wasteful?

Besides, is there anything really unique about our planet having life? Surely there are others out there that have life. Why should we look at our planet and see it as an exception to the rule. Ironically with the skeptics, the claim has us losing both ways. If we alone have life, well that shows that we’re just a freak accident. If life is throughout the universe, that shows that there is no creator supposedly needed.

Is our planet unique? I’m not a scientist, so I can’t say, but I do know someone who is. He is returning to my show to talk about his book The Improbable Planet. He is someone I consider a friend and I have a high respect for him also with him being a fellow Aspie just like I am. My guest this Saturday is going to be once again, Dr. Hugh Ross.

hugh-ross-head-shot

Astronomer Hugh Ross is founder and president of Reasons to Believe, an organization dedicated to integrating scientific fact and biblical faith. His books include Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job. and Navigating Genesis.

We’ll be talking about his latest book and looking at the claims that he presents in it. Why is the universe the way that it is and why is it that we have all these planets out here? Is God just creating some pretty scenery for us to look at, or is something else going on? Is there a reason our solar system is the way it is?

Why did it take so long for life to show up on the Earth anyway? Couldn’t God have done things a lot faster? Look at how many extinction events we had and how many disasters we had on this planet before we showed up. Is there really a point to that?

Come to think of it, what is the point? Why is it that God did all of this? Why is it that he created dinosaurs that we would never see with our eyes and had all these events take place for billions of years when the time that we have spent on here is just a tiny portion of all of that? Is God really interested in this time that humanity has been alive so much that He will create a universe and a planet just for that?

Join me this Saturday as Hugh Ross and I discuss these topics. We are working on getting past shows up. We had a flaw with the audio on David Sorrell’s so we are going to be working on that again and then everything should flow as normal. Please go to ITunes also and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Craft of History and the Study of the New Testament

What do I think of Beth Sheppard’s book published by the Society of Biblical Literature? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

History is a fascinating field to study. How do you do it? How do you study history seriously? What about when it comes to the NT? After all, many people view these documents as sacred documents. Does that not change the way that we view these documents and treat them historically?

Beth Sheppard has written a book for students who are planning to study the New Testament so they can better learn how to study it. She deals with information that should be basic, but we all need to learn. It’s usually thought about why there are so many differences in the Bible on the same issue. Sheppard points out that all writers will approach the issue differently due to all of them having different mindsets and matters they want to put out there more and other such issues.

Many historians will approach the same evidence very differently. Some might see item A for a case and think it means very little. The next historian could look at that and make it the centerpiece. There’s also no doubt the biases of the historian that approaches the text. Let’s be realistic and admit that a historian that holds to a worldview that denies miracles, for instance, is just as much biased as a Christian approaching the text. All historians have to learn to work past their biases and really look at the evidence. People have biases, but arguments do not.

Sheppard also looks at the philosophy of history and the mistakes that historians sometimes make. Sometimes a historian can think way too broadly for instance and sometimes a historian can rely way too much on those who have gone before him and still keep their same errors in his thinking. All of this information will be helpful for those who seek to do history and handle the NT.

The reader will also get an education on how history was done in the ancient world and up to the modern era. What was the role of eyewitnesses? How were hearsay accounts treated? How did other historians handle differences in accounts? All of these are important questions and questions like them have been debated for as long as we have been doing history.

Sheppard also looks at other movements in history lately. Sure, postmodernist history has been a big flop, but did it do anything for us? Sometimes having a great error come forward can show you a greater truth that had been overlooked. What about psycho-history? Again, Young Man Luther was a disaster to many, but does that mean the whole is a problem? Some could be surprised that even imaginative history and speculative history can be helpful. How would the world be different if Charles Lindbergh had been elected president? What if Jerusalem hadn’t been destroyed in 70 A.D.? What if Arius had won at the Council of Nicea?

In fact, those of us who defend the resurrection can use this. If Jesus did rise, we can expect some effects to take place. If not, then we would need a better explanation that can fit the data but explains the effects. While not much has been done in this area, some work would be welcome.

She ends the book with some case studies. What can we learn about studying clothing in the ancient world that applies to the New Testament? Is the woman in John 4 really a loose woman? Is Paul using medical terminology when he talks about the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians?

Sheppard’s book is eye-opening and she keeps her own biases well-hidden. Skeptic and saint alike could benefit from reading this book. You won’t study much of the historical claims themselves, but you will learn about those claims come about.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Does God Hate Christmas Trees?

Is there a command in Scripture against Christmas Trees? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and fall out.

The most wonderful time of the year has come upon us. Here in America, the weather is getting colder and leaves are falling. Holiday shopping is going on. People are making plans to go and visit friends and family. And oh yes, Christians on the internet are wanting to tell everyone who dares to put up a Christmas tree that that is a great affront to Christ.

Yes indeed. All the signs of Christmas!

That last one doesn’t seem to fit. Some of you might be reading this and haven’t encountered these people on Facebook or anywhere else. Consider yourself fortunate. While there are some debates I don’t enter into on Facebook because others can and I’ve done it a thousand times before, this is an exception. I don’t put up with this because this kind of thinking is extremely harmful to baby Christians.

This is for those Christians really who are in your face with this stuff. I did have some friends once who wanted to ask me about the teachings of Jim Staley (You know, that guy that is in prison now on charges of fraud.) and what I thought about Christmas. They get the gentle side because I know they’re still seeking and wanting information. Too many today are quite fervent in their strides. (One this week telling me he had an anointing from God in this season of end-times revelation so I had better not disagree with him.) It’s the ones who are accusing the others that I have a problem with.

Some of you are glad for the explanation, but others are wondering, “Where does the Bible condemn Christmas trees?”. How about we just jump straight to the text? It’s in Jeremiah 10:2-4.

Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.”

Yep. There it is. God hates Christmas trees. The anti-Christmas crowd now is ready to say “Case closed” but hang on. Let’s look at the text and see what’s really going on.

Part of the problem we have here in the West is that we think everything is about us. Of all the times in the world, God was just most interested in our time. Obviously, our time has to be the end times because, hey, this is all about us. I mean, sure we have to keep changing the rules for “This generation” with regard to 1948 and Israel being founded and the six-day war and everything else, but it has to be about us!

What we have to look at is what is the context of the passage? Is Jeremiah talking about Christmas trees? Obviously not. There was no celebration of the birth of the Messiah going on. What is he talking about? Idols. You would go out and cut down a tree and use it to make an idol that would be decorated with silver and gold.

The parallel here is not to avoid decorations of silver and gold. It’s not as if God would say “Yeah. That’s fine. Go cut down an idol. Just don’t decorate it.” It’s also not as if God would be fine if you just carved something out of stone and said, “This is my idol.”

“But look, you bend down to put gifts under a tree! That’s worship!” Unfortunately, this is no more worship than a plumber bending down to a sink to fix it is worship. Gifts just go under a tree. We obviously can’t put them on top of the tree or in the leaves.

There’s also this strange notion that you would accidentally worship a tree. How does someone do that? Worship is an intentional act of treating something as the greatest good in life. Now you could say we do worship many things in this life in putting them first, but I have never seen anyone get so fixated with a Christmas tree that they centered their lives around it.

Now, why would someone use a Christmas tree in the first place? Probably just to decorate the house in the past. In an age without heating and air conditioning, if you wanted a beautiful plant in the winter in your house, it would probably need to be an evergreen. Do people have a problem with beautifying your house? Has any of this crowd ever bought flowers at the store to decorate their house? Have they ever put a flower on a loved one before a prom or some event like that? What’s the problem?

There is also another great danger here. Many of you who are arguing that all this stuff was stolen from pagans are helping out another crowd. It’s not your fellow Christians. It’s your opponents. There are people who want to claim that Christians stole everything from the pagans, including the idea of a dying and rising god. Congratulations. In this argument, you give them further ammunition. Unfortunately, most people who make this argument have never bothered to look at any documentation or used any primary sources for their claims. It doesn’t help Christianity when Christians are making the exact same claims that our opponents do. (It also stretches credulity to think that pagans in the Reformation period looked back and copied a tradition from pagans well over a thousand years ago to use a Christmas tree.)

What to do this year then? If you want to, go out and get a Christmas tree. Celebrate Christmas. Don’t live in fear of those with anti-Christmas paranoia.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: The Day The Revolution Began

What do I think of N.T. Wright’s latest book published by HarperOne? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

N.T. Wright is one of my favorite authors to read. He is a deep thinker and he seems to have a vast knowledge of the Old and the New Testaments. There is also no isolation as he shows the interplay between the two very well. These are not facts just hanging in the air. These are part of a large and grand story. He makes me come to the Bible with fresh eyes seeing it incredibly different and leaves me with a greater love of the text.

This book is no exception. In it, he looks at the cross as the day the world changed. Of course, this wasn’t really known until the third day when Jesus rose, but the cross was something that changed the world. He also has a full-frontal attack on the idea that this is all just because Jesus died for our sins so we could be good people and go to Heaven. He does believe Jesus died for our sins. He does believe we should be good people. With Heaven, he holds, and I think rightfully, that God’s Kingdom is indeed to come on Earth and God is not going to destroy this world but rather to redeem it. The parts about dying for our sins and being good people is true, but it is missing a lot.

For Wright, the world was created and our vocation in it was to rule on behalf of God. When man failed, the task went to Israel to be a kingdom of priests for God to get all humanity back to where it needed to be. We know how that turned out. Israel needed to be rescued and redeemed often more than the people they were meant to rescue and redeem. God knew what to do. The Son, who has the very nature of God, came and died in order to redeem the world. Through death, He disarmed the power of sin and broke its hold over us. Through this, we were sent out then to be the people that we ought to be.

Wright then argues that our being good people in this world is not because we have a contract with God that He does something good for us and we do good back, but because our task now is to be those priests for a dying world. When we sin, it’s not just that we broke a rule that is out there. It is that we are violating our very being. We were meant to be holy and when we do something wrong, we give some power back to those powers that enslaved us and that Jesus came to break us free from.

We have too often read Paul and the Gospels with the idea that the Gospel is all about Jesus dying for our sins so we could go to Heaven. It can be as if this world doesn’t matter. It’s just an accident in the story. That’s also why so many of us having a hard time finding our place in this world. Yes. We’re meant to be good people, but to what end? We too often think “If we are good people, then others will ask us what makes us so different and then we tell them about Jesus so they can be good people too.” Unfortunately, this rarely happens, and second, it makes it so that we are the end result of all God does.

We are not the end of what God does. God is the end of what God does. His glory is supreme. When we live transformed lives and work to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth as it is in Heaven, then we are giving the glory to God. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we establish a theocracy. That is not ours to do. It does mean that we live like Kingdom people knowing that while in many things, we submit to our governments, that when our governments contradict with God, we hold to the higher authority.

Wright’s book is engaging and scholarly and it leaves one with a greater appreciation of the New Testament text as well as a greater appreciation of holiness. It’s wonderful to go through a book like this and say “Hey. This makes sense.” All the ideas start clicking and falling into place. Our New Testament faith is not just ideas hanging in the air unrelated to Israel. They are entirely connected to Israel. We cannot give a full Gospel presentation without mentioning Israel and yet so many of us skip that part.

I really recommend you go through Wright’s latest book. It will leave you with a new way of looking at the cross and at your own life. I eagerly look forward to the next book by N.T. Wright.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Dear Freethinkers

What do I have to say to those espousing freethinking? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Dear Freethinkers,

I want to write to you today because I’m frankly confused by what I see of you. You see, you claim to hold to no statements of faith. You claim that by being a skeptic, the only position you have to have is to not affirm the existence of God. You claim that there are no doctrines to your position. Despite all of this, most all of you seem to think remarkably exactly alike.

You all come right out of the gates often with one of your favorite mantras. “No evidence.” Are you really thinking this? Are you thinking that every theist and Christian in history has just never considered that they have no evidence for what they believe? Sure, you might meet a layman like that, but do you really think everyone is like that?

When it comes to talking about God, we are told there is no evidence. Is that really supposed to convince us? You see, some of us read these things called “books.” We don’t rely on Google, YouTube, and Wikipedia. We also read books that disagree with us. When we say we believe in God, we do so because we are convinced that that is where the arguments lead. In fact, while we agree on the conclusion, we can disagree on the arguments. Some people like the ontological argument. I don’t. I like the Thomistic arguments. Some don’t. Some people think scientific apologetics works well. I disagree. That’s okay.

In fact, this is what real thinking is all about. Real thinking is not just seeing if you find a conclusion that agrees with you. Real thinking is asking if the argument really does have evidence for it that leads to the conclusion. Just because I agree with the conclusion that God exists, it doesn’t mean I agree with the argument given for it. In fact, I daresay I have gone after more Christian apologists using bad arguments than many of you have.

Another favorite one of mine is when you say that there’s no evidence Jesus ever existed. Now perhaps in some cases, atheism could be understandable, such as with the problem of evil, though I do not see that as a defeater at all, but this one really takes the cake. You know what makes this even funnier? So many of you naturally agree among yourselves that creationism is nonsense and we need to listen to the consensus of modern science. Fair enough, but you do the exact opposite with history. You don’t listen to the consensus of modern historians and mock Christians for not listening to the consensus of modern scientists.

You see, your position is even more of a joke because I can find you a list of scientists who dissent from Darwin. Are they right? Beats me. I don’t argue that issue. If you want to find historians who dissent from the base existence of Jesus, you can count the number on two hands at the most. Note that by historians, I mean people with Ph.D.s in a field relevant to NT studies. I don’t mean just any Joe Blow you can find on the internet.

You may not like it, but as soon as you start espousing mythicism, I immediately have no reason to take you seriously anymore.  I know I’m dealing with someone who doesn’t read the best material. I know this will be a shock, but outside his internet fanbase, Richard Carrier just isn’t taken seriously. You can guarantee you won’t be by hanging on his every word. In fact, as a Christian apologist, I thank God for Richard Carrier. He’s doing a great service by dumbing down his fellow atheists to accept the conspiracy theory of mythicism, and yes. That’s all it is. It ranks right up there with saying the moon landing is a hoax or that 9/11 was an inside job.

Since we briefly spoke about science, let’s go on with that topic. You all seem to think that if something cannot be demonstrated by science, then it is nonsense. It’s as if mankind had no knowledge whatsoever and never knew anything until science came along. This gets even funnier when you talk about miracles. “We know today that virgins don’t give birth, that people don’t walk on water, and that people don’t rise from the dead.” You really think people didn’t know that stuff back then? You think they were just ignorant? Sure, they weren’t doing experiments and such, but they knew basic facts that we wouldn’t disagree with. You don’t have to be a world-class scientist to know that when someone dies, you bury them, or that it takes sex to make a baby. They all knew this.

The fact is that we don’t really have a beef with science. We might disagree on what is scientific and what isn’t. There are Christians who have no problem with evolution. There are Christians who do. There are Christians who think the world is billions of years old. There are Christians who don’t. We debate this amongst ourselves. None of us though say that science is bunk and should be disregarded. Perhaps we are misinformed on what is and isn’t science, but we are not opposed to science.

In fact, you never seem to think about what you say about the scientific method. You never pause to ask if the claim that all truth must be shown by the scientific method is itself shown by the scientific method. You don’t even consider that science is an inductive field. Sure, some claims might have more certainty than others, but none of them are absolute claims proven.

I also find it so amusing when you talk about the Bible. You all have the hang-ups that fundamentalist Christians that you condemn do. You think that the Bible absolutely has to be inerrant. Many of us hold to inerrancy, but some of us actually do not, and we debate that. Still, even many of us who hold to inerrancy do not see it as an essential and think Christianity can be true and inerrancy false. For you, the Bible is an all-or-nothing game. Either everything in it is true or none of it is. This is remarkably similar to your position on Jesus where either He was the miracle-working God-man Messiah who rose from the dead or He never existed. Your positions are entirely black and white. There is no shade of gray.

You then throw out 101 Bible contradictions and expect us to keel over immediately. We don’t. Many of these, you’ve never even studied yourself. You’ve just gone to a web site, got a list, and then suddenly thought you were an authority. It never seems to occur to you that in thousands of years of studying the Bible no one has ever seen these before.

When it comes to interpretation, you have a big hang-up on literacy. You think that everything in the Bible has to be “literal” although you have not given any idea of what that means nor have you even bothered to tell us why that must be so. The Bible is a work of literature like many other books and it uses all manner of ways of speaking. It uses metaphor, simile, hyperbole, allegory, etc.

You also seem to think that the Bible has to be immediately understandable to 21st century Western English speakers. God should be clear. Well, why should He? It’s as if you think you are part of the only people who ever lived and God should have made things clear to you immediately without having to do any work whatsoever.

In all of this, you’re just like the fundamentalists you condemn. The difference isn’t your mindset. It’s only your loyalties. You think everything in the book is wrong. They think everything in it is right. None of you really give arguments. It’s just a personal testimony and faith.

And yes, you do have personal testimonies. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard “I used to be a Christian, but”. I mean, do you want me to break out a chorus of “Just As I Am” at that point? It’s like all you used in your Christian days was a personal testimony and today, that’s still all you have. All I normally see is you went from an uninformed Christian to an uninformed skeptic.

As for faith, you never seem to understand it. You’ve bought into all the new atheist gunk that says that faith is believing without evidence. You never bother to consult scholars of the Greek and Hebrew languages to see what the Bible means by the term. What we mean is a trust that is based on that which has shown itself to be reliable.

You would be greatly benefited by going to a library sometime. You see, if all you read are the new atheists, you’re not going to make a dent. You might get some of what is called low-hanging fruit, in that people as uninformed as you are will be convinced, but not people who actually do study this kind of stuff seriously. You think that Google is enough to show you know everything. It isn’t. You don’t know how to sift through information and evaluate it. All you do is look and see if it agrees with you. If it makes Christians or Christianity look stupid, it has to be 100% true.

You should also know this doesn’t describe all atheists and skeptics out there. There are atheists and skeptics that do actually read scholarly works that disagree with them. I can have discussions with them. We can talk about the issues. They can agree easily that Jesus existed without thinking they have to commit ritual suicide at that point. They can have no problem discussing scholarly works. Many of these would even say that while they disagree with Christians, that a Christian can have justification for his belief and is not necessarily an idiot for being a Christian. You could learn a lot from them. Be like them. Don’ live in the bubble of just reading what agrees with you and buying everything you read on the internet. Study and learn.

Until you do this, freethinkers remind me of a slogan someone used years ago that I have taken. It’s not original to me, but I like it. With freethinking, you get what you pay for. Why not pay the price of being an informed thinker by reading and studying. You’re not hurting us by your actions. You’re only hurting yourself and your fellow skeptics.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/26/2016: Matthew Dickerson

What’s coming up Saturday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Fairy tales. Many of us think about these stories that we read as children and have no relevance to us today, but could it be deeper than that? Could fairy tales be some of the most shaping tells of reality? Even more amazing, could they tell us something about Christianity? Our atheist friends like to say that Christianity is a fairy tale, but while that claim is false, can we better understand our Christianity by reading fairy tales?

The fact that we have so many Christian classics like Narnia and The Lord of the Rings should show us that Christians can make use of this genre, but what about even non-Christian fairy tales? Could we learn something from His Dark Materials for instance? Do we include Harry Potter in the list and if so, what can we learn from that series?

To discuss this, I have a guest on who co-wrote a book on the genre of fairy tales. It’s called From Homer To Harry Potter. His name is Matthew Dickerson and he’ll be here to answer questions about fairy tales. Who is he?

matthewdickerson

Matthew Dickerson is a professor of Computer Science at MIddlebury College in Vermont. He holds a PhD from Cornell University.  He is the author of several works of fiction and non-fiction in a variety of genres. This fall he published both a new fantasy novel titled The Betrayed and a new work of Christian apologetics titled The Mind and the Machine: what it means to be human and why it matters. His other recent creative works include: a medieval historical novel titled The Rood and the Torc a three-volume fantasy novel beginning with The Giftedand a pair narrative non-fiction books on nature, ecology, trout, and fly-fishing titled Trout in the Desert: on Fly Fishing Human Habits, and the Cold Waters of the Arid Southwest and Downstream: Reflections on Brook Trout, Fly Fishing, and the Waters of Appalachia (co-authored with David O’Hara.) Dickerson is also an well-known scholar of fantasy literature.  He is the author or co-author of several books, chapters, and essays on the writings of J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis and the co-author of From Homer to Harry Potter: a Handbook of Myth and Fantasy.  You can learn more about Matthew Dickerson and his writing at www.matthewdickerson.net and  www.facebook.com/MatthewDickersonBooks

(Matthew Dickerson also wants you to know about his new book that can be found here.)

We’ll be talking about fairy tales? How should Christians handle the realm of fantasy? What about the idea of magic in a story? Is magic truly opposed to Christianity? What are some of the great classics to read beyond Lord of the Rings and Narnia?

We’ve been getting to update the show a lot more lately so hopefully we’ll be right in schedule soon. I hope you’ve been enjoying the Deeper Waters Podcast and will continue to do so. Please go on ITunes as well and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Improbable Planet

What do I think of Hugh Ross’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I like Hugh Ross a lot. It could be because he and I both have Aspergers. I was thrilled then to hear from him and be offered a review copy of his book. As you can see, the title is The Improbable Planet and it’s a history of Earth from a Christian old-earth creationist perspective that is not evolutionary.

Readers of my blog know I don’t answer yes or no on science questions. When it comes to evolution, I tend to keep silent, though I am open to the idea. Therefore, as I go through this work, I am going to avoid speaking specifically on many science issues, which might seem odd, but there is more than just science.

If I grant much of what is in Ross’s book, and it is not to me to decide if it is true or not but more to the scientists, then I would say the main point of the book is to learn about providence. There are plenty of interesting concepts that one can learn about going through. For instance, I had never once heard of the Boring Billion before I read this book. This is supposed to be a time in Earth’s history when it doesn’t seem like much is going on.

Reading about matters involving the planets is always fascinating. While reading about the New Testament and apologetics is my main love in learning, there’s something intriguing about space. If I pull up an article about strange phenomena that can be seen in space, I can stay there for quite awhile looking at it. I find it mind-blowing to think of a massive mountain on Mars or an underground ocean on Europa. There is so much activity taking place in our universe as I write this right now.

Ross’s book does go into that. It goes into why there were so many billions of years spent before we showed up on the scene. Why is our solar system the way it is? How did we get the moon? Why are there so many big planets known as gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn? (One criticism is that at one point he does speak about the eight planets of our solar system. Say what you will, but I will always consider Pluto a planet.)

In fact, the portions that talk about life are brief and I would have liked to have seen more detail on that. One particular area would be dinosaurs, which most every student growing up is fascinated with. Still, there is something and reading about how powerful the asteroid was that hit that was believed to lead to the death of the dinosaurs was quite incredible.

It’s my understanding that Hugh Ross is a dispensationalist, which would make sense because there are a lot of charts and graphs in the book. Thankfully, they’re not on eschatology. Still, I do think this viewpoint of his actually leads to a disappointing ending. The whole of the book is good, but when I got to the end, I did feel a bit let down by that part.

If you’re someone who is curious about the history of Earth, this would be an interesting read. As I said, I cannot comment on the science yes or no. If anything, the main message I think to get from this book is providence. We are not an accident. God made our world the way that He made it for a reason. (This is one area where I think design arguments could work better.) If we can trust God who put so much into making this place for us, what can we not trust Him with?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Are Theology and Doctrine A Bad Thing?

Can having theology or doctrine get in the way of your walk with God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently while I was doing the book plunge through Why There Is No God, a friend got in touch with me asking about a minister he talked with regularly. This was a person who said he just used the Bible. He didn’t need any of this theology or doctrine. It got in the way.

For some people, this sounds noble, but really, it’s a train wreck. Just as a start, unless this pastor knows Greek or Hebrew, he is relying on others and not the Bible only. He’s relying on good translators to tell him what the words of the Bible should be translated as.

I also want to know what God He’s talking about. How does He know this God has revealed Himself in the Bible? How can He tell that to his congregation? What will happen when his young people come to him and ask him why they should believe because of all these videos they see on YouTube and such? What’s going to be said?

One of the biggest problems with this is that ultimately, theology and doctrine is just about knowing God and who He is. It’s saying that you believe specific things about God. How does it get in the way of a relationship with God to know specific things about Him and have beliefs about Him?

Imagine if I came to you and said “I want to have a great marriage. I don’t need any of these facts about my wife or anything like that. I just have her and all this information about her will get in the way of my relationship with her.” You would think that was crazy and rightfully so. If you’re in a marriage with someone, don’t you want to know as much about them as you can? Why would you want otherwise?

If that applies to your marriage, how much more does it apply to the most important person in your life, the person of God? Why would you not want to know about Him? Why would you not want truths about Him? Your walk with God can be further improved if you know some truths about who God is and what He is like. (Now the problem is can we often move past that point of knowing the truths and start living the truths.)

Ultimately, this really comes down I think too often to a case of pride. It’s this idea that I alone in the Bible have all that I need. There have been many people in the past who have thought about the Bible. For instance, unless you came up with the doctrine of the Trinity on your own, you are relying on those who went before you. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and you are not a lone ranger teacher. You need to learn from the people who came before you and hear what they have to say. Remember, there is nothing wrong with knowing who it is you jump into bed with. Just ask Jacob.

In Christ,
Nick Peters