Seven Years

Is today a special day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I was growing up, July 24th was a day like any other day. Nothing special today. One never thinks it will have any special significance at that point, but it’s amazing how time can change things. The one day that was nothing really special suddenly becomes extremely special.

It was seven years ago my wife did something absolutely insane. She gave herself to me in holy matrimony. She promised to be with me till death do us part. That is quite a big promise to make and an even harder one to follow, especially to a guy like me since marriage has really helped to show me what a sinful human being I really am.

These seven years have been full of ups and downs. We’ve had many many struggles, and yet we’ve still stayed together. I think it’s a great testimony to our love because I honestly think many couples might not have undergone all the changes that we have had to undergo as successfully. It’s not because we’re so special though, but because our marriage is rooted in Christ. We have had a Christian marriage from the beginning.

Loving a woman is something very special. Many guys think it consists of what you do on the dates such as showing up well-dressed and with cologne and a gift like flowers and chocolates and other such things. It is that, but it’s more. In marriage, it’s the day to day things. It’s things like being the official bug killer around the house. It’s things like managing a budget and compromising on what to watch on Netflix that evening. Sharing a bed means more than sex together, but it also means sharing a trust with each other and knowing you’re going to for the most part wake up next to each other the next day. (There are times of sickness where we sleep apart and of course, one of us is usually the first to get up the next day.)

And Princess, you have changed my life in so much. You have changed my diet and my confidence level. I couldn’t be doing what I am doing without you. I couldn’t be doing apologetics as well as I am without you. I wouldn’t be learning from the school of hard knocks what it means to be holy without you, because now that you’re here, I see the direct result of my actions.

If anything, I always wish I could do more for you. I shudder when I think about how imperfect my love for you is. As you know, whenever I do anything, I like to do the very best I can, and that includes loving you. It’s always a delight to me when someone compliments me on how much I love my wife. Anyone can study hard and be an academic, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but being a person of character and loving your wife is something different.

Princess. You are worth everything. I often think now that I have so much in life and it requires little to keep me busy. I have books coming in for my show and so that’s taken care of. The next thing I want in life is to keep you feeling loved and happy. I would love to someday take you to Japan like you want or get you all the art supplies that I can. Hopefully some day I will get to do these things.

Princess. I hope today I do more and more to amaze you and leave you feeling immensely loved. I want you to know what a treasure you are and everything I do I don’t think can adequately express the desire I have to please you immensely and show what you really mean to me. Aside from salvation in Jesus Christ, you are the greatest gift that I have ever been given. I love you immensely. Happy anniversary Princess.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

The Culture of Suicide

What impact do we have on the culture? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife informed me yesterday that Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the band Linkin Park, committed suicide by hanging himself. It could be drugs and/or alcohol were involved. It is also true I understand that he was sexually abused as a boy growing up. He was also greatly affected by Chris Cornell of the band Soundgarden doing the same thing.

Brian Head Welch is a Christian and was at one time in the band Korn. I don’t know if he still is or not, but he was angry about it. He did consider Chester a friend, but he wanted to know what he thought he was doing to his wife and children, not to mention numerous fans all over the world. Let me say at this point that I do not write about this as a fan. If it hadn’t been for my wife, I wouldn’t have known about this at all.

Our culture spends a lot of time talking about suicide. My wife and I heard on the news just Monday that so far this year in our state of Georgia that there have been twenty suicides. Some of them are because of a stupid internet thing called the Blue Whale Game. There is also the hideous Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. This is the series that had numerous professionals warn the producers of what not to do but hey, the producers were sure they knew better anyway.

We also can all remember when Robin Williams died. Unfortunately, so many people shared the meme from Aladdin with “Genie. You’re free.” No doubt, they meant well, but it sent a horrible message. It presents suicide as a freedom. It’s a way to escape the pain. In a sense, it is, but at a great cost.

Cyanide and Happiness can sometimes have crude comics, but sometimes they’re incredibly accurate. There was one that definitely fit the bill. It is one that I often think of when it comes to suicide.

Chesterton said years ago that when a thief steals diamonds, he is no doubt doing something wrong, but he at least honors the diamonds in a sense by saying they are worth stealing. An adulterer is doing wrong with illicit sex, but at least he thinks the sex is worth having. The suicide is the one that says nothing is worth having. Nothing is worth living for. It’s essentially giving the finger to all that is in existence. It is saying there is nothing out there good enough to make up for the pain in one’s own life.

And could that be part of the problem? Suicide is getting trapped inside yourself majorly. It is a sort of idolization of self. It is putting your well-being in a supreme position. You are thinking about yourself. You will try to tell yourself that people will be better off, but they aren’t. How many of us can find cases where people did this and everyone was better off as a result? How many times have you heard someone say “My life has been so much better since my dad killed himself,” or something like that?

This is what we do with every sin in fact. “I know I shouldn’t cheat on my wife with this woman, but it’s not like she’s being responsive to me and I haven’t had sex in so long.” “I know I shouldn’t do this deal at work, but my family really needs the money and we’re struggling so bad.” It is always possible to find an excuse for a sin. In fact, we always think there is some good reason to do the wrong that we do, and no doubt there is, but that does not mean the wrong is the right thing to do. It never is.

Now someone like Chester has left a message for all his fans. Those who don’t know better will think that this is something acceptable to do. His wife will be wondering how she was inadequate in her love. His children will be wondering why Daddy wasn’t worth being around. Chester’s action was done and ended quickly. The results are going to last for a long long time into the future. It could be centuries. After all, how he did will affect his children which will affect their possible future parenting which will affect those children, etc.

I also don’t speak about this as someone detached. A little over two years ago my wife made the attempt. I normally keep the medicines locked up due to her tendencies, but I didn’t have my keys with me one day while doing the podcast and she used them to get into the safe. Don’t think I never second guess myself about everything with that day. I do. I easily call it the worst day of my life. There is no contest. Nothing else comes close.

We do indeed need to have sympathy, but we need to be firm that this is unacceptable behavior and certainly never glamorize suicide. Naturally, we need more and more people to be focusing on Jesus in their lives and really learning what a difference He makes. Too many of us Christians don’t really think about that. Jesus has become so familiar to us that He has become “a tame lion.” The therapeutic Jesus is not really therapeutic. He really can’t do much about our sin problem.

We especially need to do this for the youngest among us. These are sadly often the most impressionable. Believe it or not youth leaders, it will take more than pizza parties and laser tag to do this. You won’t get teenagers to embrace Christ just by fun things. I’m not opposed to fun, but the purpose of being a Christian is not to have a good time in itself. It’s to be like Jesus and spread the Kingdom of God.

Pray for the family of those left behind and reach out to those in your life. Some may be struggling with suicide and you don’t even know it. Take the time to appreciate them. Celebrate them. Send a message to someone and let them know you’re thinking of them. Tell someone that you’re grateful for the good they’ve done in your life. Love your spouse and your children. Do good to one another.

There’s no time like the present to be living.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

 

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/22/2017: Sam Andreades

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

Gender. What is it? Is it a social construct? Is it just this idea that culture has thrown onto us? Or could it be something that is an objective reality in each of us? Is there something really to being a man and something really to being a woman?

And what about our sexuality in response? Is homosexuality just another lifestyle, or does it point to a problem that a person has? If a homosexual man were to marry a woman, would he be living a lie? Does loving the homosexual mean that we don’t desire any change for them? Is that what acceptance is about?

I decided to bring on someone who really understands gender and sexuality. He also understands how this story plays out in the Bible. His book on the topic of gender and sexuality is one of the best I’ve read on the topic. His name is Sam Andreades and the book is Engendered.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

“Rev. Andreades is senior pastor of Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, serving a congregation in what he affectionately calls The Shire. His previous pastoral work put gender issues front and center. He was pastor for ten and a half years of the Village Church in Greenwich Village, New York City, and is the founder of Higher Ground (originally called G.A.M.E. [Gender Affirming Ministry Endeavor]), a New York City ministry of Christian discipleship serving men and women with unwanted same-sex attraction. He went on to do a doctoral dissertation on emotional intimacy in Christian marriage in light of gender distinction, a qualitative study of men with a history of same-sex attraction and unions who are now in long time marriages to Christian women. He has counseled scores of engaged and married couples as well as church members in their relationships with one another.

Dr. Andreades draws on an extensive formal education in his teaching. He holds a B.S. in Geology & Geophysics with a minor in Biblical Studies from Yale University (1984), where he was awarded the Yale Geological Hammer Award for Thesis Research in sonic wave measurement through granite. He earned an M.Div. in Pastoral Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary (2001), as well as an M.S. in Computer Science from New York University – Courant Institute (1997). Building on historical geography study at Jerusalem University College (2008, 2014) in Israel, he obtained a D.Min. in Urban Mission and Ministry at Covenant Theological Seminary (2013).  In 2015, he wrote a book, enGendered, to fill the need he saw to speak about gender as God’s gift. It is described on the “The Book” page of this website.  But most valuable is how he has brought this education to four decades of serious study of the Bible.

Sam grew up with three older sisters who have constantly challenged him in his understanding of what it means for him to be a boy. He has been married for twenty-six years to his wife, Mary K., whom he describes as the truest woman he knows, and without whom he says he could not do what he does. Together they have raised three sons and one daughter, and now have a daughter-in-law. Submission to the body of Christ has always been an important part of Sam’s Christian walk. As a member of a local church since becoming a Christian at seventeen years old, he has bonded to brothers and sisters in the family of God.

Being a Presbyterian pastor means ministering in relationship. It requires working closely with his session (the church’s board of elders), which affords Sam some of the most meaningful friendships of his life. Chairing the Shepherding Committee of his presbytery (a collective of local ministers and elders) in New York also afforded him important people-linking lessons. His favorite Bible verse is Luke 23:43, Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross. Sam hears through these words the Lord’s amazing forgiveness of Sam’s own sins.”

I hope you’ll be looking for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I’m looking forward to this interview in getting to talk about marriage, gender, and sexuality. Please also consider leaving a positive review on the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

5 Reasons Christians Should Celebrate Sex

Do we have a gift from God worth celebrating? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, my friend Sean McDowell wrote an excellent article on why our culture is so obsessed with sex. I have no dispute with it, but at the same time I thought it needed a contrast. After all, Chesterton said long ago that when a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he’s looking for God. The search for sex is often a search for transcendence. It’s amazing that in all the things we have made for pleasure since the dawn of civilization, that somehow God’s creation of sex is still our great obsession. We just can’t seem to beat that.

When we come to sex, there is a sense in which we are drawn out of ourselves. The most rational among us can become creatures of strong passion at that moment. Many men are willing to do most anything for sex. We could condemn this, or we could see it as a clue to reality.

Christians have a tendency to move in the opposite direction always of society and especially with sex. We’re the ones who often treat it as shameful and dirty. It’s instead sacred and beautiful. This is something God made. Let’s treat it that way. Thus, I have in contrast five reasons why we should celebrate sex.

#1, We should celebrate sex because we honor God.

Sex isn’t like a video game or a TV show we made up. It’s something that God created. It was His idea. He put all the joy into it for us. He designed it to be pleasurable. He designed it to unify a husband and wife in matrimony. Of course, He put barriers around it, but He did it not because it is dirty, but because it is sacred. If you have something like a safety-deposit box, you don’t put junk in it. You put valuables in it you want to keep safe. I often say sex is like nuclear energy. It works great if you handle it the right way and has wonderful effects. It’s powerfully explosive if you use it in the wrong way and has devastating effects.

God is not anti-sex. There’s a whole book of the Bible celebrating it, the Song of Songs. Christians don’t need to be either. We need to show the world that we are the ones who are doing it, pardon the pun, right. You won’t find joy in sex in just random encounters. The best way to find that joy is in a covenant relationship where the love grows and grows and grows.

#2. We believe in Immortality.

We believe that the body is a good thing. We believe that it is such a good thing, that God made it to last forever. God is going to recreate our bodies. We are not Gnostics. Our bodies are not shameful. They are gifts. They are temples. We need to treat them properly.

Thus, we have no need to exclude ourselves from the joys of the body necessarily. We can in the sense of a sacrifice, but not because we think they are wrong. I have a lifelong vow about drinking alcohol. I do not think it is wrong. If you drink a beer or wine in front of me, I do not think you are doing anything wrong. Of course, alcohol can be misused and abused and that is wrong, but it is no sin to drink and control your drinking. If you abstain from sex for reasons of focus and such, go ahead, but don’t look down on those who marry. After all, Paul said it is better to marry than to burn.

If we are going to be in our bodies forever, why not celebrate and rejoice in them? Sex is one way we do that. We honor the person with their bodies and soul. Some marriage traditions in other cultures have marriage vows that say “With my body, I thee worship.” The giving of the body is the giving of something sacred, and that sacredness of the body extends into eternity.

#3. We believe in the sacredness of sex.

This goes with the others. Sex is not just a pastime that we do together like playing video games, watching a movie, going to a concert, or playing a sport. We know this because many people will see something greater in having sex with someone else instead of going to the movies with someone else. Something about sex seems different. Sex does change everything in a relationship and even for couples who aren’t married, the idea is still that sex with anyone else is cheating.

Sex is holy and good because God made it for us. He wanted us to enjoy it. As I said, we have a whole book of the Bible for this. This is a lesson especially women need to hear. Too many women grow up being told that sex is just for men. It’s not. Bluntly speaking, God gave women a clitoris and as far as I know, the only purpose of this is so that you can enjoy sex.

Instead, we often say women are pure and pristine creatures who will never think about sex, and guys are these dirty ravenous animals who only think about sex and are just a big bundle of hormones. Both of us have hormones. Both of us have desires. We may experience them in different ways and to different degrees, but they are there. They are not shameful. Like any desire, they must be controlled and used at the proper time, but there is no sin in enjoying sex.

#4. We are made in the image of God.

One of the fascinating things that is said in the Bible right after man and woman are made in the image of God is to go forth and fill the Earth. Be fruitful and multiply. In other words, for us at the beginning, sex was part of the divine mandate. (Doesn’t that sound like a great job guys? God commands us to have sex, not like we really need the motivation.)

Of course, couples decide when they want to have children, but we are not opposed to them. This is one way we in fact spread the Kingdom. It’s no secret that one of the reasons Islam grows is fertility rates. The same can happen with Christianity.

Since we are in the image of God, we can celebrate that part of that is that we are to fill the Earth and subdue it. Naturally, this doesn’t mean everyone does it. Someone who doesn’t marry is not being disobedient to God, but humanity as a whole is supposed to do this.

#5. Because we love pleasure.

Yes. Christians are to love pleasure. There is nothing wrong with fun. Fun is God’s idea. We often picture holiness as something boring. Do we want to say that God is boring? God who created a world of variety and wonder is boring? Perish the thought!

I’ve been a gamer all my life. I remember back when the Super Nintendo was coming out, that the ads said it would have 32,000 colors. That’s quite a lot, and all of them are a gift from God. God did not make a world of black and white. God made us to need food. He did not have to make it taste good. He made us to need drink. He did not need to make it refreshing. He made us to reproduce. He did not need to make it an awesome time.

Sex is not just something we do for fun. It’s something we do also to unify a commitment between husband and wife. Can I stress this to you wives especially? You can do EVERYTHING ELSE in the world for your husbands, but if you neglect this area, it won’t matter. This is the area that for your man will scream love the loudest. This is the area where you can highly highly empower your husband. In fact, Scripture commands husbands to delight in and find joy in their wives. It’s hard for them to do this if their wives say no. It’s also to be remembered that this goes both ways. We are not to withhold our bodies from one another. There’s an old joke where a man says he’s been given many reasons by his wife to not have sex. Prayer and fasting have never been one of them.

Sex is fun. It is sacred. It is good. It is a gift from God. It is a shame that our culture acts like they are the ones that know how to have a good time. Every act of sex should be a sacred act. It is ideally a mutual giving between a man and a woman in a covenant who give freely of themselves and hold nothing back from the other. Both should treat one another as sacred beings in the image of God.

I look forward to a day when our culture turns to us on the issue of sex. I hope we do not turn and run from the topic. Sex is God’s idea. It is not the enemy. It is the gift.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Seeing Through Christianity Part 6

Is there a problem with revelation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christianity is a revealed faith in that some things we know only because God has revealed them to us. In this section, we’ll look at Bill Zuersher try to take on revelation in his train wreck Seeing Through Christianity. If you’ve been with us this far, you know to not expect much.

The first thing he says is one person’s revelation is just as valid as another’s. At any time a new revelation can show up that will overturn the others. It would have been nice of course to see some substance to this claim. All he says is determining the truth is undeniably a political process. Perhaps he should engage in political processes more often then. 1 Thess. 5 in fact tell us to test everything and hold to what is true and it is done in the context of speaking about prophecy.

Zuersher also asks why God would allow competing revelations. Once again, apparently Zuersher is too lazy to bother examining the claims and wants to blame his laziness on God and say “You should have clearly answered me.” Obviously, something like binge watching The Walking Dead is of more importance, or at least taking time to write a book without bothering to understand the substance of what one writes about.

His other solution is God should have made His revelation overwhelmingly true if He wanted people to come freely. Had Zuersher bothered to look at the evidence, maybe he would have found that. If someone will not look for truth, then they cannot expect to find it.

He also says God could have come up with a better technique than books. Apparently, we’re back to the idea of a fairy on one’s shoulder constantly telling them the truth. This would destroy any real seeking of the truth and have one become a Christian just because God is a belligerent nag. Zuersher apparently lives in a world where intellectual assent is the most important thing.

He also says the Bible hardly seems like a stellar book. He says it should be equally accessible to every culture. While I hold to understanding the original culture, without that understanding, one can still grasp the basic message of the Bible. He says the meaning should be unambiguous. Why? Who knows? He says it should remain unchanged over time. Perhaps some looking at textual criticism would have helped him out. As Bart Ehrman says (And no, it is not Barton Ehrman as Zuersher consistently says):

In spite of these remarkable [textual] differences, scholars are convinced that we can reconstruct the original words of the New Testament with reasonable (although probably not 100 percent) accuracy. Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 481.

He also says we would expect consistency. I would argue we do have consistency. The same story is told throughout the Bible of the Kingdom of God coming on Earth based on the ministry of Jesus. He also says it would possess the highest moral and scientific content. While I would say the Bible contains many moral teachings, it also does so starting out from a specific point. A book like Slaves, Women, Homosexuals would have helped Zuersher out. (Unfortunately, research is something he’s not interested in.)

As for scientific truth, why? Seriously. Why? Are we to think Scripture is concerned with turning us into scientists? Zuersher just takes what he thinks is the most important truth and makes it central.

Of course, his favorite way to demonstrate the latter is to point to the fact that the Bible says the Earth is 6,000 years old. Naturally, he will acknowledge there are Old-Earth creationists, but he won’t bother to look at their arguments. It all comes down to “You’re not taking the Bible literally.” It’s amusing to me where we have this idea that because the Bible is Scripture, it’s to be “literal.” What we most often mean is literalistic. No one does that. Like any other literature, the Bible contains metaphor, simile, allegory, hyperbole, satire, sarcasm, figures of speech, irony, etc. We can also be sure that Zuersher won’t bother with the fine work of John Walton on Genesis 1 nor consider scholarship on the genealogies from which he makes his case.

And of course, Zuersher still says the problem is the deity didn’t make Himself clear. I would have to ask again clear to who? There are many cultures and times that we know of. Somehow, something was supposed to be clear to every single person ever? This is quite a stretch.

Naturally, Zuersher has a whole problem with what he calls the supernatural realm. Readers of this blog know I don’t use that term. Zuersher says that if God wanted to make His presence known, He would be successful. He actually says “If such a deity wanted me to know something, I would know it. Period.”

Translation: Since I’m not bothering to do the research and study of a claim, I’m just going to blame my lack of belief on God.

How does Zuersher know this about God? How does he know that God’s great goal is to get people to give him intellectual assent? From whence does he get this knowledge?

As we can expect, Zuersher says that if there were sufficient evidence, we would not need faith. I have written on this in another post. Zuersher will go after faith in another chapter so we will save that for then. He also says the fact is that the God of the Bible does not make himself known to billions of sincere seekers.

I had no idea that atheists were mind readers. This is quite astounding. Somehow, Zuersher knows all these people out there are sincere seekers? People might think they are, but Zuersher is not. Zuersher is one that is demanding that God show Himself on Zuersher’s terms. A sincere seeker will move Heaven and Earth to find the truth and will be willing to sacrifice anything he holds dear for it. In fact, few of us who are Christians would qualify at this point as we all still have little idols in our own hearts.

Still, Zuersher uses this in the end to make his formal argument. If the Christian God existed, He would make Himself known to sincere seekers. He has not done this. Therefore, He does not exist. Doubtless, Zuersher will discount any who say they were sincere seekers and found Christianity to be true. Zuersher looks to be one who blames his own unbelief on anyone else he can, except the person he sees in the mirror.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Seeing Through Christianity Part 5.

Does Zuersher present a good argument against the Afterdeath? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In the sixth chapter, Zuersher argues against the afterlife. I prefer to call it the afterdeath because after all, one is still alive in the “afterlife.” At any rate, let’s go and examine what he says to see if any of it is convincing.

At the start, he tells us that the true heart of Christianity, like most religions, is that humans are terrified of death. It would be nice to know how he backs this claim. Does he think some Jews who already had a religion were still terrified of death and decided to make a second one on top of that? These people didn’t live in fear of death if anything. We do. They saw death around them every day.

If Zuersher provides no data, then we have nothing to refute. In fact, we could just as well make our own baseless assertion. “The basis of atheism, as we all know, is to avoid having to serve a holy God.” Do I think that’s a ridiculous argument to use? Yes. This is the kind of argument Zuersher gives us.

He tells us that Christians hold to a two-part existence with the body and a magical soul thing. He also says only humans have this soul. I’m not sure where he gets that because many of us if not most of us with a dualist perspective hold that many of the higher animals that are relational to us have souls as well. Again, no one is cited on this whatsoever.

It also doesn’t work to just say something is magical. It’s like atheists live in this world so often where the word magic is magical and if you use it, you automatically refute the notion of whatever it is you’re talking about. Has Zuersher looked at the philosophical arguments of dualists? Has he examined the evidence of such events as near-death experiences?

He also holds to a rather literalist view of the resurrection saying that if an atom belonged to multiple people in a lifetime, who gets it in the end? This assumes that God has to use the exact same atoms. Why think that? This was something the early church wrestled with, but we don’t so much today. We just figure God is able to recreate the body.

He asks why not issue a new body? He tells us it is because of Jesus. Of course, our resurrection is to be like that of Jesus, but the new refers to quality. There is continuation, and I’d say the soul is the basis of this, but there are similarities as well. 2 Cor. talks about us being a new creation. The newness is in quality. We don’t become a Christian and then God literally kills us and makes us a new creation.

After this, Zuersher does attempt to argue against souls by pointing to consciousness. He says that the problem is that if you damage the brain, then the functions of the mind are damaged. It never occurs to him apparently that dualists do have their response to this. Mainly, it’s that the body is the instrument the soul works through and if the body is damaged, the instrumentality of it by the soul is as well. If a body loses two arms, the soul is not able to magically to reach out and grab something because the tools it would use don’t work as well. Similarly with the mind and the brain.

I leave much more of this to those who have studied in this area. Books like Machuga’s In Defense of the Soul or Habermas and Morleand’s Beyond Death (also called Immortality) are also recommended. As we can expect, Zuersher has just done armchair philosophy without really looking at the issues and yet still thinks he’s knowledgeable enough to write on them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Seeing Through Christianity Part 4

What do we do with the atonement? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we continue through Zuersher’s work, we come to a chapter on atonement. Now I’ll state this upright. I have not spent much time looking at a lot of theories of the atonement. I have read Wright’s recent work on the cross. I think it’s an excellent work. Still, I cannot speak as an authority on the atonement, but that could be in some ways an advantage here.

You see, the reason I don’t see this as a defeater here is this is my situation. I have enough evidence to convince me that God exists. I have enough evidence to convince me of the full deity of Jesus. I have enough evidence to convince me that Jesus rose from the dead physically. I have enough evidence to convince me that Scripture is reliable. Does it make any sense to anyone to say “I’m not fully clear on how atonement works, so therefore I should doubt that Christianity is true.”?

Of course not. Any area of study will always have some unanswered questions. Consider for instance in science, when we see creatures that seem incredibly advanced. Does this mean every evolutionist will just throw in the towel and abandon the theory wholesale? Not at all, nor would I expect them to. One looks at the primary data they have for a position even if secondary details aren’t exactly clear.

Zuersher says first that there is disagreement means that this is being made up as we go along. He says that this means we do not have some privileged path to the divine. If by that He means that God is not obligated to answer all of our questions for us, that is entirely correct. If He means that we do not have the way to God in Christ, that would be wrong, but believing we do doesn’t mean we have perfect atonement knowledge.

The next part is one that Zuersher gets so close to the truth of matters, but then He rejects it for theological reasons. Zuersher says that satisfaction says that God’s honor must be restored, but if that’s true, then God has personality traits unworthy of a morally perfect being. It’s truly tragic how close Zuersher gets to good theology but then allows his cultural prejudices and lack of understanding of honor to get in the way.

To begin with, I don’t think it’s right to speak of God as a morally perfect being. A morally perfect being is one that does that which they ought to do always. God has no ought. He does not owe anyone anything. God is instead a good being. He is perfect and lacking nothing in Himself.

So how could God be lacking honor? It’s not a lack in Himself. It’s rather how God is perceived. There were two kinds of honor in the ancient world. One was one had based on who they were and their lineage and such. God’s honor is untouched here. The other is their reputation. How are they perceived in the eyes of others? Here, God’s reputation is tied to how He is seen in the eyes of humanity and how we treat Him. We can live lives that honor God or not. Zuersher rejects this without bothering to understand the culture or the theology.

Third, he says that God could just forgive. After all, we do it. Sure, but we are not the ones that are perfectly good and holy. If God just lets it go, He is saying that our well-being is of greater importance than His goodness. In other words, the good of man outranks the good of God. God is treating sin as no big deal, when every sin is really an act of divine treason.

He next says that if Jesus had a fully human nature, then what happened on the cross was murder since it was a human sacrifice. Well, he is right that it is murder. Jesus submitted to the ruling authorities. This is also not the same as suicide. The authorities did not realize what they were doing, but many holy men in Judaism dying would see themselves as dying for the sins of the people.

He also says that a willing death does not excuse the executioners. Of course not. Whoever said that it did? They were fully convinced they were doing right. My statement about this has been that either Jesus was the wickedest man who ever lived and the crucifixion was the most just and righteous act of all to stop Him, or He was the most righteous man who ever lived and the crucifixion was the most wicked act of all time.

He then goes into the claims of how Jesus was an invalid sacrifice. I recommend the works of Michael Brown here on answering Jewish objections to Jesus. Brown has looked at this a lot more than I have.

Next, he argues that this was not a real sacrifice since Jesus did not stay dead. One wonders how this is so. Once the offering is given to God, God can do with it what He wants. If He wants to resurrect Jesus, then He can resurrect Jesus. This would be God’s vindication on the life and claims of Jesus.

He also argues that the theory is immoral since it undermines individual responsibility by having someone accept Jesus’s sacrifice. On the contrary, it upholds it. When presented with the claims of Christ, one must accept their responsibility for the sins that got Him there.

Finally, Zuersher ends with saying that educated men and women hold to atonement thinking today should require no further comment. I instead think that someone can bother to write a book responding to a view without interacting with the best scholarship on it should require no further comment. Sadly, Zuersher does this consistently.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Water Podcast 7/15/2017: Hugh Ross

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

This year at Rosh Hashanah, many Jews will be celebrating that a new year has come. There will also this year be many Christians waiting for this event. After all, this is the day that the rapture is being predicted to take place.

What was that?

Yes. A few months ago a friend of mine emailed me about some people at his church talking about Rosh Hashanah and their hope that the rapture will take place. This is supposed to be based on certain astronomical signs. I immediately thought back to the whole blood moons fiasco (Anyone heard that apology from John Hagee yet) and decided I’d talk to a specialist about this.

So I sent an email to get in touch with the person I know who knows astronomy best. I got more than I bargained for. He has agreed to come on the show and talk about the signs that are being said to be shown and we’ll look and see if they are of any real significance. I am of course referring to none other than Hugh Ross from Reasons To Believe.

So who is Hugh Ross?

Astronomer and best-selling author Hugh Ross travels the globe speaking on the compatibility of advancing scientific discoveries with the timeless truths of Christianity. His organization, Reasons to Believe, is dedicated to demonstrating, via a variety of resources and events, that science and biblical faith are allies, not enemies.

For those worried about the deck being stacked, it is also my understanding that Dr. Ross has in the past held to a futurist/dispensationalist understanding of eschatology. I do not know if that is still the case, but his main point here is to come as an astronomer. Are there really some signs that we are supposed to be looking out for, or is this going to be another case like that of the blood moons where there will be embarrassment in the eyes of unbelievers once again?

How ought Christians approach this phenomena anyway? If we don’t understand astronomy well, could we be saying things without knowledge? Even if one does want to defend a futurist/dispensationalist viewpoint, do we need to be extremely careful about setting dates for certain events?

If I am correct about my prediction that this is much ado about nothing, what will it take for Christians to learn? What more do we need to be paying attention to? How should the church handle it when there are claims that get national attention that prove to be wrong, such as the four blood moons or Harold Camping?

Some might think this is an in-house issue for Christians, but I’m not convinced. How we present ourselves to the world matters a great deal and if we can be shown to embrace something wrong so many times so easily, then how is it that we can expect anyone to believe us when we claim Jesus rose from the dead? I hope you’ll be listening for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast and that you’ll leave a positive review on ITunes to let me know what you think of the show.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Leading Lawyers’ Case For The Resurrection

What do I think of Ross Clifford’s book published by 1517 Legacy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Lawyers are people who specialize in evidence and making the best case they can. They’re meant to examine their side and the other side and be prepared for the best objections. They stake their reputation on presenting the best argument and being able to best their opponents with evidence and argumentation.

So what about a case like the resurrection? Could legal argumentation be used to back that case? Would any lawyer really take on the case that Jesus rose from the dead and argue in a court of law that that is what happened and expect that a rational jury would conclude that they were correct?

Apparently, Clifford has found seven who would. The eighth, Morrison, with his book Who Moved The Stone? is not a lawyer, but used many of the same techniques. He used them so well he is often thought of as being a lawyer. Clifford takes each of these lawyers on a cumulative case step by step to establish the verdict that Jesus rose from the dead.

Clifford is a lawyer as well and so he knows how to examine the case and see that there’s no funny business being pulled. He has brought together a quick resource that can be read easily and doesn’t use a lot of legal terminology that would confuse the layman. It’s also a short work. You can read it in a day or two, quite possibly a date if you really work at it.

He also has not found slouches in the field. All of the men here were recognized in their own time including if that time is our present. Clifford includes an introduction to their life and their legal practice. He then goes through each one and gives a brief summary of the case that they especially argued for.

Also useful will be the appendices in the back. One particular one involved a claim that is often heard today and that was dealing with the charge that the Gospels would be seen as hearsay evidence. Clifford shows that this is not the case and then points to a resource that can be used to show other cases that were solved on similar grounds. One difference he gives is that the cases that do not allow hearsay are more about a particular individual and not a particular truth claim. An individual would get to face his accuser in court after all.

Clifford’s book left me impressed with the legal case and thinking that legal apologetics is something I need to take a lot more seriously. If anything, I would have liked Clifford to have added in his own case. A brief chapter would be good on how Clifford would have gone forward in making a case that Jesus rose from the dead. Perhaps sometime in the future Clifford could write out a dialogue of sorts where he would describe a court case and the case for the resurrection being made to show how this would be done.

Those interested in defending the resurrection owe it to themselves to get this book. It is a good and small introduction and will point you to other leading lawyers who can make a case. The defense of Christ is helped by having the best from all fields after all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God

What do I think about C.J. Mahaney’s book published by Crossway publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many men are already looking at this title and seeing the connection. For us, sex is a form of romance in itself and certainly shows the glory of God. As Stephen and Judith Schwambach say in For Lovers Only, if an atheist ever asks you to prove the existence of God, just say one word. Sex. (It is an argument I’ve been tempted to use.)

Women might not see it as fast. Some do, but not all. Fortunately, Carolyn Mahaney has something at the end for Christian wives, but this book is mainly for the husbands. What does a Christian husband need to know?

If a guy picks up this book wanting a new technique in the bedroom or a new position to try, he’s going to be disappointed. Nothing like that is in here at all. Could it be that it’s simply not needed? Maybe instead of looking at new techniques and new positions, we need to look at new ways to love our wives and let great sex come from that.

If there is one main emphasis I think should be got from the book, it’s something that Mahaney says regularly. Before you touch your wife’s body, you must first touch her heart and mind. While there are high-drive wives, many are not. (And in the words of Mark Gungor, if any man is married to one, then I speak on behalf of all men when I say, we hate you.) A man can wonder endlessly what it can take to get his wife in the mood except forgetting the simplest way of all. Just be a good and loving husband.

That’s why Mahaney recommends some time seriously studying your wife. Oh sure. We men have no problem studying the physical nature of our wives, but find out what makes them tick. What is it that they love? What are they scared of? What do they have great passion for? What size clothing do they wear? What is their favorite color?

For instance, from time to time I like to buy Allie flowers and if I do, I know I cannot go wrong with one thing. I will always try to find flowers that are orange because I know that orange is her favorite color. My Allie also knows to be very careful about saying some small thing that she wants around me. Odds are I will remember it and try to get it as soon as possible.

Does this take work? Yep. Will you screw up from time to time? Yep. Of course, there are other tips to help with that. Regular date nights are encouraged even if you live on a budget. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or even any money in order to have a date night.

The book ends with a section from Mahaney’s wife Carolyn that is a note to Christian wives. It hilariously begins with her at a women’s conference and the question being asked, “What’s the one thing you can do for your husband that encourages him the most.” She knew the answer and yet apparently no one had said it. (Either they were incredibly dense or incredibly shy.) Finally, she just said, “Make love to him.” There were several laughs and then knowing nods.

Carolyn does write about how important this is to a man above all else. A man will settle for a less than immaculate house and a gourmet dinner if it means that he gets that time of passion from his wife. While husbands need to learn about their wives, the reverse is true. Instead of just looking at him as a sex maniac, why not ask why your husband is this way? What does this mean to him? What does it mean when it’s not given? Can you make your husband feel rejected? How will he be encouraged?

I follow a number of Christian marriage blogs and I regularly see men saying they just don’t ask any more. They’ve been told no so many times that they don’t bother. This is really a shame, especially when Paul tells us about not withholding ourselves from one another and both of us belonging to the other. I often tell wives that if they want a major attitude improvement in their husband and see him be more willing to help around the house, do this. Seduce him for two weeks. See what happens.

The Mahaneys have given us a book that is simple, but the advice is very good. Men need to learn again to touch their wife’s heart before touching their body. Perhaps the lesson to the women would be the way to touch his heart IS to touch his body. Now if only both of you can do your part….

In Christ,
Nick Peters