On Sexual Harassment

What are we to make of this modern outbreak? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Odds are that before the day is through, a new sexual harassment charge will be brought forward against Roy Moore, Al Franken, or someone else in a position of power. This leaves Christians wondering what is going on exactly. How is it that we respond to this? Why is this such an issue today?

The first thing to say about this is innocent until proven guilty. That’s the American system. If someone does apologize or agree to the charges, then yes, take that as an admission of guilt. I don’t care for the comedy of Louis CK, but when the charges were brought against him, I withheld judgment until he came forward and said that they were true.

Yet there is no doubt some of this happening today and the question is why. Why in our day and age do so many men seem to be accused of this? Please note that a woman can just as much sexually harass a man, but usually, men seem to be the main offenders. It could be because either a man doesn’t want to admit it, or because a man would not consider it harassment if a woman started really coming on to him and doing sexual things to him.

Some of this I think is due to modern feminism. It was this idea that men and women are absolutely equal. Reality check. They’re not. Men and women are vastly different. This does not mean that one is superior to the other. It does not mean that one is more human than the other. It just means that they are different from one another.

Feminism sought to make them all equal and one of the great ways to do this was abortion. After all, once a woman gets pregnant, it could really dampen her career and her sex life. Can’t have that! The oddity is that women who were promoting this were also allowing themselves to be used by men. After all, men have this desire for sex without consequences and if you can remove the consequences even if the woman gets pregnant, then hey, no worries! Sadly, many will happily kill their own children if it means they can get more sex.

I wish I was exaggerating on this point, but I am not. Consider how a few years ago when Texas was passing a bill to limit abortion. Here you have man-child Ben Sherman writing about why this bill should be opposed.

Your sex life is at stake. Can you think of anything that kills the vibe faster than a woman fearing a back-alley abortion? Making abortion essentially inaccessible in Texas will add an anxiety to sex that will drastically undercut its joys. And don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.

Note that part. Casual sex outside of relationships. After all, who cares about a relationship with the woman? That takes so much work and such. You might actually have to get to know her, spend time with her, invest in her, and learn to treat her with love and honor. Nah. It’s far easier to just “hit it and quit it.”

You see, if sex is the end and the women don’t matter for a relationship, then the women will be used. Sadly, it’s not because these people have a high view of sex. They actually have a low view of sex. They take one aspect of sex, the physical joy, and remove all the other aspects of it.

One of the great joys of sex in marriage is the bonding it gives with one’s spouse. That happens in relationship. Before I got married, a former pastoral counselor gave me a notecard with some pieces of advice for marriage. One statement on there I remember was “Sex is the thermometer that measures the temperature of the relationship.” That can apply to many men today. If you want to ask a man how his marriage is doing, he could very well base it off of what goes on in the bedroom.

Sex is indeed a physical act, but it is not just physical. It is spiritual. It is emotional. It is relational. If you take the physical, then you’re really just cheapening sex. Now, something that’s incredibly good and cheapened can still be incredibly good. A Corvette can be a great car even if it has a dent in it. It just won’t have the same value.

To get back then to what was being said, a man won’t value a woman as a woman, but see her as just a body. Often times, this will mean that he thinks the same thing that works on him should work on her. The woman should be that if you do X, then Y happens. Do this and you get sex back. Ask any married man and they will tell you the truth about this.

I often think part of the problem in marriages is that men expect women to think like men and vice-versa. It doesn’t work that way. The way men and women think about things is extremely different. The sad thing is many of those things we think should be appreciated. A man thinks his romantic physical gestures should be appreciated. A wife thinks her helpful tips on how to do the dishes should be appreciated.

To get back to harassment, what happens then is that men can make advances they think should be appreciated, but get turned into harassment. They can also treat women as if they were just bodies and nothing more than objects of pleasure for them. It’s quite interesting to think that Mike Pence got a lot of pushback for his rule about relationships with women other than his wife, but a lot of people today would be in a lot less trouble if they followed that rule.

What does it take to change this? It takes a higher view of sex and a higher view of people. Sex has to be more than just a physical activity, though certainly not less. It has to be a spiritual and emotional and relational connection to be saved for the sacred bonds of marriage. Men and women have to be seen as persons in their own right and their very beings are not just means to an end.

As for the current charges, we can discuss, but let us always remember innocent until proven guilty. See what evidence all sides have. I have not looked at any of the cases sufficiently in order to make a judgment, but it is easy to ruin someone over just a claim today and that is something we need to move past. This is not to excuse sexual harassment at all either. It’s a wrong that should not be done, but it does not mean that we decide on a case before the evidence comes forward.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Esther, An Honor-Shame Paraphrase

What do I think of Jayson Georges’s self-published book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Esther is actually my favorite book of the Bible. As a child, when I was going through the Bible for the first time, I got to Esther not having a clue what was in it and I just could not stop. It read like a modern adventure novel. When I saw that my friend Jayson Georges had a paraphrase of this book from an honor-shame perspective, I asked for a copy which he supplied.

I was not disappointed. I get to see my favorite book of Scripture through new eyes and eyes I have wanted to see the Bible through more and more, those of honor and shame in Jewish Mediterranean culture. Georges has read the best material he can on this and gone through Esther showing how honor and shame play a great part in it.

In our Western context, we only see things from that perspective for the most part. The great tragedy of being in our culture is that we think everyone thinks just like us and when there are missing pieces, as there always are, we fill them in with information from our own culture. After all, why should we think the rest of the world is different?

Looking at Esther shows a whole new world. The feast at the start is not just a feast. It is a way for the king of Susa to show how much honor he has and to receive honor from his associates. Men today might laugh at the idea that Vashti going against the wishes of the king would cause women all across the empire to disrespect their husbands and thus lead to chaos, but it was no joke. It’s not a sitcom being written. It’s maintaining the order of hierarchy that the society thrives on.

The constant back and forth between Mordecai and Haman fit into this as well. In this, you have the reversals of honor and shame. Haman is to be the most honored of all because he’s practically as close to the king as you can get without sitting on the throne yourself. Mordecai meanwhile is a nobody resident in the empire. That’s one more reason Haman is not content with just killing Mordecai. After all, he is the great Haman. He should go for something grander than that, so why not go and kill all of Mordecai’s people which would also fit in with Haman’s own heritage as an enemy of the Jews?

If there was something I didn’t like about the paraphrase, it’s that it talks about God. That sounds odd for a book of the Bible, but the wonder of Esther is that you know God is working behind the scenes, but He is never explicitly mentioned in the text. I was troubled then to see God mentioned in the text as that took away from me one of my favorite aspects of the book in that the reader is the one who has to work to see the hand of God at work and then we ask, could He be at work in our own lives in ways that we don’t know about?

Despite that, this is a wonderful idea Georges has had. So far, two books have been done from an honor-shame perspective. I look forward to the rest of them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Leadership Directions from Moses

What do I think of Olu Brown’s book published by Abingdon Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to thank Olu Brown for sending me a copy of this to see what I think. It’s also quite unusual sadly for a minister of a church to be sending a book and sending a book to an apologist at that. Normally, I get the impression that since we are the people who have to deal with false teachings and such, sending a book to us can be a great source of fear and it can be nervous to a pastor at a church.

This book is centered largely around Numbers 32. It is about how Moses had to deal with Reuben and Gad in wanting to stay on the other side of the Jordan since the land there was good. The other half-tribe of Manasseh also wanted to stay, but that part is not mentioned. The way Moses handled this is something that helps us with leadership today.

Certainly, this is something worth talking about. If we are many times to emulate biblical heroes, though certainly not in everything, then we should see how they did what they did. What kind of leader was Moses? Obviously, since he was forbidden from entering the land due to his striking the rock a second time, then not everything is an example, unless you want to say it is a negative example, but Moses did get the Israelites from A to as close to B as he could. He also had to deal with some of the most unruly people of all.

It’s also interesting to take a biblical story and try to shed greater light on it. What did it exactly mean? We can read the account and think that it’s a good story and move on. It’s only a chapter in the Bible after all. Many of these chapters have long-lasting impact that isn’t immediately seen in the text. The Israelites made a great mistake in Exodus 32 with the sin of the golden calf, but years later even in the time of Second Temple Judaism, that incident was being talked about.

Brown seeks to answer questions like how one handles challenges, what if people see things differently, how do you deal with confrontation and letting people go their own way at times? It’s also not just him. Brown has got in touch with pastors at other churches to write messages about what they have learned on leadership to finish each chapter. Chapters also have questions at the end to facilitate better learning.

If there was anything that concerned me, it is that too often when we seek to fill in the gaps in biblical stories, we too often read our own culture into it. Those who read my blog know I’m very skeptical of the idea of people hearing from God today on a regular basis and I don’t think Moses had a lot of introspection and such going on. It would have been interesting I think to state the case in the language of honor and shame that Moses would have been familiar with.

Still, this is a good and quick read. It’s less than 100 pages of content which can be gone through easily. It’s always interesting to me to get to see a story in the Bible in a new light and consider the deeper impact of what was going on. Perhaps we should all read Numbers 32 a bit more and consider it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/18/2017: Jeff Myers

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

Everyone has a worldview. Many of us don’t realize that we do have them. We all have a way of looking at the world and we all have some background ideas that influence the way we think about reality. Many times when we have debate with people of other positions, we’re not so much debating the evidence as we are the worldview that evaluates the evidence.

Christians should have a biblical worldview, but many of our Christians today believe things that outright contradict Scripture. I’m not talking about disagreements on secondary issues where we all have some wrong beliefs. We’re talking about things like Christians believing in reincarnation or that all religions are equally valid.

So when discussing worldviews, you need someone who does understand worldviews, and not just a Christian worldview, but other major contenders. You need someone who also has his awareness of what is going on especially with youth today who are struggling the most with this sort of question. How is it that they can build a biblical worldview and what can churches do to restore this vision? To do that, I decided to have come on Jeff Myers from Summit Ministries to talk about worldviews.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Dr. Jeff Myers is president of Summit Ministries, a highly respected worldview training program whose tens of thousands of graduates are making a difference in politics, law, academics, medicine, science, and business. In the last 20 years Dr. Myers has become one of America’s most respected authorities on youth leadership development. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson referred to him as “a very gifted and inspirational young leader.” Evangelist Josh McDowell called him “a man who is 100% sold out to preparing the next generation to reflect the character of Christ in the culture.” Through his appearances on Fox News and other media programs, Dr. Myers has become a fresh voice offering humor and insight from a Christian worldview. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree and teaches leadership courses through Lumerit and Belhaven University. Jeff and his family live in Colorado.

We’ll be talking about his book The Secret Battle of Ideas About God. We’ll look at other worldviews such as secular humanism, postmodernism, Marxism, new age, and Islam. We’ll be comparing how these worldviews line up with a Christian worldview. How do they answer the great questions that we have about life? What are some of the weaknesses? Why should anyone think that a Christian worldview is a superior worldview?

I hope you’ll be paying attention to this episode, especially if you have any interaction with youth today, so that you can better help prepare them, or if you are a youth so that you can better help prepare yourself. Please be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. If you haven’t done so yet, please also on on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

What Is The Foundation?

What is the centerpiece of the Gospel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post that was looking at a critique of the New Perspective on Paul. While I don’t sign on the dotted line yet on the NPP, I am certainly open to it and think it makes some cogent points. One reason I wrote it is also because of a claim I hear often that justification is the Gospel.

Of course, some people will immediately get defensive hearing that. Am I saying that justification is not important? Not at all. It is important that we are forgiven and that forgiveness is by grace through faith. What has to be asked though is if that is what our faith is built on?

When I go to bed at night, normally I read a short section of Scripture if I’m reading a narrative, like a Gospel, but if not, just a couple of verses to think about. Last night I did three to finish off Romans 4.  So what did I read?

The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Please note what is necessary for our justification. It was the resurrection of Jesus. Just dying on the cross was not enough. As Paul says, if Christ is not raised, you are still in your sins.

Part of the problem I have with the idea that justification is the Gospel is that justification is a result of something else happening. That something else is the primary thing. That is the message that changed the world. If that did not happen, we would not be able to talk about justification. That primary thing is the resurrection.

A secondary problem is that justification is important, but it also doesn’t go far enough. We can celebrate that we are forgiven, but God did much more than just forgive us. He could have forgiven us without offering us eternal life for instance, but He did do that. With every step, He could stop, but He doesn’t. As Luke 12:32 tells us, it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.

The kingdom is sadly lacking in our Gospel messages today. Jesus did not say as much about justification as He did about the Kingdom of God, but guess which one we spend the most time talking about today? Very few people have any idea of a doctrine of the kingdom. It’s sadly true that we often treat the Gospels as appetizers and the main course are the epistles of Paul. This is why it can often be asked if Jesus taught Paul’s Gospel. The more important question we should ask is if Paul taught Jesus’s Gospel, which he did of course.

If we want to see what’s further ahead, let’s see what Paul does say in 2 Cor. 5:19.

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

Sure. The forgiveness of sins is in there, but the reconciliation is with the world. The world is not as it should be and that is to be corrected. We can be forgiven, but even forgiven people will still die. Death is still the enemy to overcome. Is God going to let the world be a casualty? Did the evil one ruin the world so much that it cannot be redeemed and it will fall from the purposes God created for it?

Absolutely not. The resurrection is as it were uncreation working backwards. The path of destruction is stopped and the path of restoration begins. Let us celebrate justification, but we are not the end of it all. Everything is to be reconciled. This does not mean universalism as some people will not be reconciled due to their own will nor will demons or the devil, but all that submit to God will be.

Yet always remember, whatever your stance on justification, it’s not possible without the resurrection. The resurrection message is the Gospel. The king has come and He is taking His throne. That is the cause of everything else. Let’s not confuse the effect with the cause.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Remnant: Rescue of the Elect

What do I think of Book Two In Brian Godawa’s Chronicles of the Apocalypse Series? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Remnant is the second in the series continuing on the story of Tyrant: Rise of the Beast. The book works to explain the orthodox Preterist viewpoint in a novel form. This time, much of the intrigue is centered on Jerusalem and what is happening there as the main character try to get the Christians in Jerusalem to flee.

While there are characters that are certainly historically real, like Agrippa and Josephus, there are many who are fictional, which works just fine. There are also plenty of footnotes that show the historical sources for what is claimed. Again, this one also has the Watchers, demonic beings that act as the gods of the other countries, fighting against the angelic beings, although there really isn’t much of anything along the lines of Frank Peretti with his books of spiritual warfare.

Book one does need to be read first or else one won’t really understand what is going on. This book has the drama going on of trying to get Christians in Jerusalem to escape and uses that to also explain Johannine authorship of the book of Revelation and questions about the temple. The Essenes also make an appearance here.

There is drama as well between the characters, such as the arc of a love triangle taking place. As can be expected, there is much that cannot be said here due to the problem of spoilers. Still, much of what happened did relate especially to the way that I see many guys approaching romance and since this is the case of men that are single, I can certainly say it brought back my own thinking of what it was like.

There is some looking at what is going on in Rome. Nero has returned of course, but also there is a greater focus on Vespasian and Titus and then Domitian makes his appearance. Much is still left undone at the end of this book, which makes sense since there is another one coming.

As for the Watchers like I mentioned, you will see Allah show up this time which I’m sure would be odd to a Muslim audience, though I cannot anticipate them reading this. It’s still interesting to see a future religion showing up. Obviously, Allah will have to be active at the end of the series to some extent.

Still, while this was a good series, I didn’t find myself as intrigued as I was with the first book. I’m not really sure why. I wonder if it could be there didn’t seem to be as much of a clear villain here as Nero wasn’t as active as he was in the first one and no one else really seemed to be a main villain for this book, though Florus comes close. Apollyon also wasn’t as conniving it seemed in this one as he was in the first.

Still, it’s good to see the Preterist viewpoint being presented in this way. We need Christian writers who can write stories and stories that also don’t force the Gospel down one’s throat. Godawa also uses this volume to wrestle with questions of war and pacifism which are good for discussion. Hopefully we’ll see more Christians with vivid imaginations doing the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Roman, But Not Catholic

What do I think of Jerry Walls and Kenneth Collins’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For the most part, I have never got into the debate between Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox. As a good Protestant, I have my reasons, but it has never been a focus. Still, as a podcast host, I have been a fan of the work of Jerry Walls and when I heard about this book coming out, I thought it would be a good one to have a discussion over.

The thesis behind the book is that the Roman Catholic Church is indeed Roman, but it’s not Catholic, as it is not what is universally believed. While that is a charge, there is not anger in the book. It’s not an attempt to destroy Roman Catholicism. The writers have a great love for Catholics. Collins grew up with a Catholic education and Walls did some of his studies at the Catholic school of Notre Dame.

Despite that, they do think there is something at stake. There is a reason the Reformation matters. The writers then take us on a trip through church history and various theological issues such as questions of authority, looking at the Papacy, Marian devotion, etc.

They did point out that it looks like for many converts to Rome from Protestantism, it is an all-or-nothing game. As someone who loves history, this is of great interest to me. I meet many people who have the attitude that if there is one contradiction in the Bible, how can we know that any of it is true? This is a position I find frankly, ridiculous. I may not know how it is that Judas died for betraying Jesus exactly, but that would be a far cry from saying I can’t even know that Jesus existed.

It ultimately comes down to a question of authority. Suppose the Roman Catholic claims that I do not have an authoritative magisterium to interpret the text. Am I to really think that I have no reason whatsoever to think I don’t know what some particular texts mean unless someone else tells me? Sure, there are difficult passages, but there are passages that are not difficult. Even while simple passages have great underlying nuances to them many times that can amplify their meaning all the more, the basic context is the same.

Consider John 3:16. I can get the basic message. God loved the world and then gave His Son for that world so that none could perish but that all could have eternal life. Of course, a deeper understanding of Christianity will bring out more for me from that passage. I could ask questions about what it means to perish or whether in a Calvinistic context the world refers to everyone or just the elect? The basic message though of God loving and wanting to redeem humanity is still there.

What has to be asked is even if one thinks one has to have an authority, why this authority? Why should I think this one is right on everything in fact, including Marian positions I see zero support for in Scripture or church history? There are many groups that take the same approach with a ruling authority who says what the Scriptures mean. Why should I think the RCC has it all right?

The history of the Papacy I have found as a problem as well. There were no doubt many wicked Popes in the history of the church. This has to be taken seriously. If it is true then how can we say that God was guiding the church when wicked Popes were elected?

I should say in all of these concerns, I am pleased to see that many things I do not remember being brought up. For instance, there was no political gain made about the claims of pedophile priests, something I think is not really as accurate as it is made out to be and there are even worse cases in the public school system. Let’s be sure. One can disagree with Catholics without being anti-Catholic. I happen to have a great delight in my Catholic brothers and sisters and happily work with them in defending Christianity.

The book ends with a cry for unity. It would be great to see it happen, but we are not there yet. Pope Francis certainly is being a different Pope and rocking the boat a bit. Only time will tell what will happen to the RCC in the future.

Still, those who are considering crossing the Tiber and going to Rome should really consider the material in this book first. It does give a lot of food for thought. I also think many Catholics reading this book would not think they were being attacked, which is good. We need to be able to discuss our differences and discuss them in true words but loving words as well. We may not like what the other side has to say, but we should all hear what others have to say and be willing to consider their position. If we have to change ours, we change it. If we don’t yet, we at least have a better understanding of one another.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Theologygrams

What do I think of Rich Wyld’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’ve ever seen something from graphjam, you know how much fun pie charts and graphs can be. You go through and you look for that last piece of the chart that makes up the whole and it’s something humorous. Rich Wyld has done that kind of thing with theology. Not all of the images are pie charts, but many are graphs of some kind.

The book is a quick look at various topics. You can read it in less than an hour, but that’s because so much of it is illustrated. Many of them can be quite humorous and as I went through, I would pause from time to time and show my wife one of the charts that I would come across.

I honestly wish there had been more. As it stands, I think this is a great idea for people to use. Humor is often seen as something that we need not mix with the sacred, but if anything, we need more humor. If you want to know if God has a sense of humor, look in the mirror. You could also look at a duck-billed platypus, but many of us don’t have access to those.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy reading Michael Bird’s books so much. If I’m reading your average theology or apologetics book, it can often be dry. I enjoy the learning, but it would be good to have some spice in there. When I read Bird, I will normally come across something that will make the point in such a powerful way with Australian humor that I just can’t help but laugh at it.

Many of us know also that this helps us be more at ease with the topic and clear any tension that is in the room. It’s also good for those of us in the Christian community to be creative. Too many times when we do something, we’re really just copying what everyone else is doing in the sense of taking a slogan and Christianizing it. This has been called before the production of “Jesus Junk.” (No. Giving someone a Testamint does not count as evangelism.)

For this, Wyld has done us a favor. I really hope that more will do this kind of thing. We need Christian media that is both entertaining, informative, and not preachy. Too many of us have seen the Christian movies that think that they have to explicitly spell out the Gospel because, well, the audience is just too dense to know what it is and they have to hear it or else the point will be lost. Strange that Tolkien and Lewis never needed to do that.

If you want a quick little laugh or illustrations you can use for a talk you are giving, this can be a good one. There are many topics that are discussed here and the humor can be quite good. I do want to see more of this kind of work coming out as we Christians need to show that we like to enjoy ourselves too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/11/2017: Richard Bauckham.

 

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

Can we trust the Gospels? One of the questions that this comes down to often is the question of who their sources are. Were they written by eyewitnesses? Did they use eyewitnesses? Can we really trust anonymous sources like the Gospels? Did the Gospels even cite their sources?

Even if the Gospels are eyewitness testimonies, can we still trust them? Can’t eyewitnesses get things wrong? Why should we treat the Gospels as if they are serious historical works and their information is something that we can base our lives on?

In order to discuss this, I decided to have come on a second time a scholar who has done in-depth research on this. He has done so much that he has updated his great work on this topic. The work is Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and the author and scholar is none other than Richard Bauckham. So who is he?

I am a biblical scholar and theologian. My academic work and publications have ranged over many areas of these subjects, including the theology of Jürgen Moltmann, Christology (both New Testament and systematic), eschatology, the New Testament books of Revelation, James, 2 Peter and Jude, Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, the New Testament Apocrypha, the relatives of Jesus, the early Jerusalem church, the Bible and contemporary issues, and biblical and theological approaches to environmental issues. In recent years much of my work has focused on Jesus and the Gospels. Probably my best known books are Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (2006), God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament (1998), The Theology of the Book of Revelation (1993) and Bible and Ecology (2010). As well as technical scholarship and writing aimed at students and those with some theological background, I have also written accessible books for a wider readership, of which the best known is At the Cross: Meditations on People Who Were There (1999), which I wrote with Trevor Hart. A recent book is Jesus: A Very Short Introduction (2011), published in Oxford University Press’s Very Short Introduction series, and providing a historical account of Jesus for the general reader. Various of my books have appeared in translation in Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Farsi.

Until 2007 I was Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. I retired early in order to concentrate on research and writing, and moved to Cambridge. For more information about me, see my Short CV. On this site, you will find complete lists of my publications. You can find out about my forthcoming books. You can read unpublished papers, lectures and sermons. You can find out about the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha project (directed by myself and James Davila).

You can also read some of my poetry, and two story books written for children (adults also enjoy them) about the MacBears of Bearloch.

I hope you’ll be watching for this episode. We’re going to get a good in-depth look at this important book that every student of the New Testament needs to know about. Please be watching for this one and go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Chapter 8

Does the universe present a problem for atheism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We return now to Evidence Considered by Glenton Jelbert. We’re now entering into the more scientific aspects here. Now I’m someone who does not really get into scientific apologetics. I don’t speak the language of science and I think it’s too often a mistake to think that science is either the final or ultimate arbiter on questions of theism, miracles, etc.

The first chapter will be the response to Robert Kaita. I do not plan on arguing against much of the science in this and other chapters, but I do plan on dealing with philosophical and historical claims that rise up. I gather this time the question is about why the universe is comprehensible. Kaita says this is a question scientists have not been able to answer.

In reality, they shouldn’t be able to, at least not as scientists. John Polkinghorne has used this kind of example. Suppose my wife goes into the kitchen and notices a saucepan of water boiling on the stove and asks “Why is the water boiling?” I explain, “My Princess, when water gets heated, the molecules in it break apart and go from a liquid state to a gas state.” Would that be a true answer? Absolutely. It would not be the main answer and that is an answer science cannot get at because it points to intentions of the will. It would be “I am wanting to make a glass of tea.”

I consider the question about why the universe is comprehensible to be not a question of science but of philosophy. Science provides the data, but many times scientists like to go beyond the data and make pronouncements on what the data means. All worldviews do this. This is fair to an extent, but it should be recognized the person is not speaking from their field.

Another question raised is the sustaining of the universe. This is an important question, and yet, it’s a secondary one. The universe can be seen as part of something else. It can be seen as part of existence. The universe does not have to be. One day, it will not be. It will die in a cold death. Existence though has to be. Existence cannot not exist. I want to know why anything exists at all. What keeps existence itself going?

Kaita does speak about how we’re ungrateful for the gifts of God that we have. This is certainly true and we’re all guilty to an extent, but it doesn’t answer the scientific questions. Of course, it shouldn’t. It really surprised me how much meant to be scientific here was not scientific really.

Jelbert starts by saying this argument is fascinating for showing the state of mind of the intelligent Christian. I find this quite a fascinating statement in itself. You take one writing from an intelligent Christian and that shows the state of mind of the intelligent Christian? I consider myself an intelligent Christian and my state of mind is quite different here.

Jelbert also says that Kaita has divided the world into the good and the chaotic and focuses on the good. I could not help but think about this passage from Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday describing the meeting of the man Sunday.

“Have you noticed an odd thing,” he said, “about all your descriptions? Each man of you finds Sunday quite different, yet each man of you can only find one thing to compare him to — the universe itself. Bull finds him like the earth in spring, Gogol like the sun at noonday. The Secretary is reminded of the shapeless protoplasm, and the Inspector of the carelessness of virgin forests. The Professor says he is like a changing landscape. This is queer, but it is queerer still that I also have had my odd notion about the President, and I also find that I think of Sunday as I think of the whole world.”

“Get on a little faster, Syme,” said Bull; “never mind the balloon.”

“When I first saw Sunday,” said Syme slowly, “I only saw his back; and when I saw his back, I knew he was the worst man in the world. His neck and shoulders were brutal, like those of some apish god. His head had a stoop that was hardly human, like the stoop of an ox. In fact, I had at once the revolting fancy that this was not a man at all, but a beast dressed up in men’s clothes.”

“Get on,” said Dr. Bull.

“And then the queer thing happened. I had seen his back from the street, as he sat in the balcony. Then I entered the hotel, and coming round the other side of him, saw his face in the sunlight. His face frightened me, as it did everyone; but not because it was brutal, not because it was evil. On the contrary, it frightened me because it was so beautiful, because it was so good.”

“Syme,” exclaimed the Secretary, “are you ill?”

“It was like the face of some ancient archangel, judging justly after heroic wars. There was laughter in the eyes, and in the mouth honour and sorrow. There was the same white hair, the same great, grey-clad shoulders that I had seen from behind. But when I saw him from behind I was certain he was an animal, and when I saw him in front I knew he was a god.”

“Pan,” said the Professor dreamily, “was a god and an animal.”

“Then, and again and always,” went on Syme like a man talking to himself, “that has been for me the mystery of Sunday, and it is also the mystery of the world. When I see the horrible back, I am sure the noble face is but a mask. When I see the face but for an instant, I know the back is only a jest. Bad is so bad, that we cannot but think good an accident; good is so good, that we feel certain that evil could be explained. But the whole came to a kind of crest yesterday when I raced Sunday for the cab, and was just behind him all the way.”

You see, everyone has to explain the same data and it depends on how we do see it. One can say this world is mostly good and evil is the exception, or mostly evil and good is the exception, or it is evenly divided. Now based on Jelbert’s writing on morality, I have no idea where he comes from, although as I have said goodness is a lot more than just morality. I do say that he has to explain the data that we have. Christianity I don’t think has any problem with it. In fact, evil is an essential part of our worldview. If there were no evil, there would be no point in the death of the Son of God, or a death of the Son of God for that matter!

Jelbert responds to the idea that it takes as much faith to be an atheist as it does a theist. Jelbert says it takes no faith to say you don’t know. Perhaps, but is that what an atheist is saying? Is atheism not a claim about the way the world really is? I know a lot of atheists say it is just describing a lack of God belief, but I frankly consider this silly. Atheism then becomes nothing more than a statement of personal psychology and nothing about the way the world is. If atheism makes no claims about objective reality, it should not be treated as a serious worldview.

Jelbert also says you can’t take the scientific data, put a few Bible verses in, and say your worldview alone explains it. I agree. However, in the book of Licona and Dembski, I am sure Kaita is well aware there are other people handling those questions and is just saying how this works for him as a Christian. It does not mean that I agree with his exegesis, but it does mean that I think leeway can be granted.

Jelbert says there is no reason the laws and constraints of physics would change with time. Perhaps. There is also no reason that they wouldn’t. I am eager to see if when we get to the question of miracles if he uses Hume’s objection since that assumes that everything works the same way always when Hume himself said that if you drop a rock 1,000 times, that will not prove it will fall when you drop it the 1,001st time. Past experience for Hume could be a good indicator, but not an iron-clad proof. The point is though that your average physicist will not do an experiment every day to see if lead still sinks when placed in water. They will take it for granted and they are justified provided they believe in a universe of order. On atheism, I have no reason to believe that is the case.

Jelbert concludes that this isn’t evidence for God since we have to split the universe, but I really don’t see this as a problem. I don’t think anyone who thinks this world is perfect. Those who think there is nothing worthwhile in this universe end up with suicide. Most of us are not like that. The question is which side are we on? Then, how do we explain that side.

It is also true that this cannot point to any one world religion, and I agree, but it can start to point away from atheism. The fact that there is order can lead one to think there is something beyond the order, and note that is not scientific. That is metaphysical. Why is there order and sustenance at all? I know as a Christian I have an answer, but I see none for atheism.

In Christ,
Nick Peters