Book Plunge: Seeing Through Christianity Part 8

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

The next chapter of Zuersher’s book is about the judgment. Zuersher starts by saying that few people will make it into Heaven and more will go into Hell. For this, he cites Matthew 7:14 with the gate being small that leads to eternal life and only few will find it.

In the interest of fairness, it’s understandable that people go here, but I don’t think it makes the case. There are some going back, and I think this even includes B.B. Warfield, who contended that this was a response to Christ’s immediate teaching. Few of the Jewish people living in Israel would respond positively to the message.

He also goes to John 14:6 with Jesus saying no man comes to the Father but through me. Again, this is a true text, but I wonder about the interpretation. All that is said here is that in essence, Jesus is the doorkeeper. If we compared it to a bar, Jesus is the bouncer and no man gets in unless He gives the okay.

Does that mean that one has to explicitly know the name of Jesus to be saved? No. Consider if we went to the text that says whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. What that means is that if you call on the name of the Lord, that is sufficient for you to be saved. What it does not say is that only those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. While I do hold that God could admit many who have never explicitly heard of Jesus in the pagan world today based on what they do with the light they have, we know of many people already saved who did not know the name of Jesus. They are Old Testament saints.

Zuersher says that even if we accept the existence of an afterlife, an eternity where few will be saved and most won’t be is unfair. I question that that is what will happen, but even if it was, what is unfair about it? Does God somehow owe certain people an eternal bliss? If so, on what basis?

Zuersher also says that if his argument is true, those who lived before Jesus and those who live in places where they cannot know of Him and places where other religions dominate are all automatically lost. The problem is as I have shown, one can hold to the truth of the text and still think Zuersher is wrong. Zuersher again shows the case of not doing any study to realize there are multiple viewpoints.

Zuersher also regularly acts like people who are consigned to Hell do so through on fault of their own. Why should anyone think this is true? Romans 1 and 2 both tell us that there is sufficient reason to know that God exists and to know right from wrong. Someone will be judged not because of what they didn’t know about Jesus, but because of what they didn’t do right in their lives. A Christian like myself just says God will give everyone what is right. God does not owe anyone anything, but He is also going to be just and righteous in His judgments even if I do not understand how that works out and no one will be able to say “It wasn’t fair.”

Zuersher replies to this point and says that it is actually reasonable. (Of course, it brings me great joy beyond expression to know that Zuersher thinks the argument is reasonable) What Zuersher wants to know is why can’t God judge everyone on this basis? If knowledge of Jesus is not needed, then Jesus died for nothing.

That last part doesn’t follow. Just because one might not need to explicitly know about Jesus doesn’t mean Jesus’s death did nothing. Jesus’s death is what made it possible for people to have their sins atoned for. Having someone make a huge donation to a college makes it possible for people who do not know the person to go to that college, but that going would not be possible had it not been for the donation.

I also don’t think Zuersher would really want the idea of judging everyone based on their actions. This is the case in much of Islam and it can lead to living in a state of fear. It’s also rather arbitrary. Suppose each good action had a point system and gave so many plus points and each evil one took away so many points. Would that not be a totally arbitrary system? Instead, God has the same standard for everyone, perfection, and yet has provided a way to meet that standard.

We conclude again that Zuersher doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. He has only taken a surface level look at the claims and not gone any deeper than that. Sadly, this seems to be common in many circles, both atheist and Christian, and it leads to people arguing cases they think they understand, but that they really don’t.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Jesus In America

What happens to Jesus in America? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I love America. I live here and I think it’s the greatest nation on Earth. Unfortunately, we do have many flaws here. One of the big ones is how individualized everything has become. While I am a capitalist, I do think greed is often a problem and we have Christianized everything and not in the Biblical way. Jesus has been used to turn slogans around to different Jesus messages and you can go and buy Testamints at your Christian bookstore. (Because, you know, giving someone a mint like that is a great way to witness.) This has happened so often that we have what has been called Jesus Junk.

Our sermons aren’t much better. We go to a church service and it’s not about serving. It’s all about getting ahead. What can we do to be more moral people? How can we better handle the problems in our lives? Nothing against being moral people and handling the problems in our lives, but there’s more to Christianity than that. My favorite part is at the end hearing an altar call where you can hear absolutely nothing about the Kingdom of God and the resurrection of Jesus, but you sure hear how you can go to Heaven when you die.

In this kind of culture, Jesus becomes a sort of glorified Dr. Phil. Jesus is there to be a self-help guru for you and to help you feel better about yourself. Is it any wonder that the prosperity gospel does so well here? Again, there’s nothing wrong with advancing ahead and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having wealth, but what did Jesus really come for?

Go to most churches today in America and the idea that you get is that Jesus died for me. Well, yes. That’s true. He did die for you, but He died for a lot more than just you. He died for God. He died to bring about God’s Kingdom. He died to bring about God’s will on Earth. He died in service to the Father to reconcile God and man together. It’s not that God needs us, but that God wants to share His blessings on us. Thinking God needs us is just more of our self-centeredness.

This is why we don’t think much about service like we should in the churches. Most pastors would be thrilled if people would be able to give even just the 10%. There are many Christians who indeed are in need in our churches, and the churches are often the last place that they will go to to meet those needs. The churches don’t just give and support. Again, most of us are looking out for ourselves and Jesus is a convenient help to that.

We have lost sight of the idea that Jesus is the king. It could be because we have grown up in a country where our leaders are elected and we have a president and the idea of a monarchy seems like a quaint thing from olden times that we no longer need any more. Perhaps in a merely human sense, it is, but we are talking about the divine king. This is not an ordinary king who will make mistakes and raise our taxes and such, but make no mistake, this is a king who will call us to come and die.

Perhaps that’s the part we don’t want to hear. We want Jesus to give us more of what we want. Money, power, fame, sex, whatever it is. Jesus is a means to an end rather than the end in Himself. Most of us don’t really think about Jesus, unless we think about the things that He gives for us even if it’s just the feelings that we get with Him.

Today in America, for many of us, if we want food, we can go to a restaurant and get served quickly. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. If you want to, you can even get fast food. Today, we treat Jesus like that. If we’re hungry, we go to the restaurant. If we need to fill better about ourselves, we go to Jesus.

Of course, if this is all Jesus does, then there’s no need for unbelievers to really come to Jesus. If you need to feel good about yourself, there are several self-help books that can do that or you can go get Xanax or something like that. You sure don’t need Jesus for that. Now if you want something else, like divine forgiveness, or the Kingdom of God on Earth, you will need Jesus.

Jesus is not just a commodity on the market. He’s not just another self-help guru. He isn’t just giving us a message of peace and love, because messages like that don’t get people crucified. He is a real historical figure who walked and died among us and rose again. This isn’t a fairy tale or a story that takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. This is real history. This has serious ramifications for us and things much more important than feeling good about ourselves.

It is my sincere hope that the American church will realize that while Jesus can make us good people and that can lead to good feelings, there is so much more. There is a real historical reality here. There are real ramifications for all of us. I’ve had enough of Jesus Junk. Let’s see how much better the real deal can do influencing our culture.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/12/2017: Michael Bird

What’s going to be on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night I recorded the latest episode of the podcast and on it, I discussed the adoptionist position with a leading scholar. Why record last night? Because my guest is all the way in Australia and due to time differences, we had to handle things differently.

Adoptionism is the idea that Jesus hasn’t always been the Son of God. He was adopted at one point in His lifetime be it at His birth, baptism, or resurrection. My guest has taken a look at the arguments scholars put forward for this and has put forward a brief but powerful book on the topic. His name is Michael Bird.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Michael grew up in Brisbane before joining the Army and serving as a paratrooper, intelligence operator, and then chaplains assistant. It was during his time in the military that he came to faith from a non-Christian background and soon after felt a call to ministry. He graduated with a B.Min from Malyon College (2001) and Honours and Ph.D from the University of Queensland (2002, 2005). Michael taught New Testament at the Highland Theological College in Scotland (2005-9) before joining Brisbane School of Theology as lecturer in Theology (2010-12). He joined the faculty at Ridley as lecturer in Theology in 2013.

Michael describes himself as a “biblical theologian” who endeavours to bring together biblical studies and systematic theology. He believes that the purpose of the church is to “gospelize,” that is to preach, promote, and practice the Gospel-story of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remembered by students for his mix of outlandish humour and intellectual rigor, he makes theology both entertaining and challenging.

As an industrious researcher, Michael has written and edited over thirty books in the fields of Septuagint, Historical Jesus, Gospels, St. Paul, Biblical Theology, and Systematic Theology. His book Evangelical Theology is an attempt to develop a truly gospel-based theology that promotes the advance of the gospel in Christian life and thought. He is the co-editor of the New Covenant Commentary Series, an associate editor for Zondervan’s The Story of God Bible Commentary, and an elected member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (the international society of New Testament scholars).  He speaks often at conferences in the Australia, the UK, and USA and is currently working on a New Testament Introduction co-authored with N.T. Wright. He also runs a popular blog called Euangelion.

Michael is married to Naomi and they have four children.

We talk in this show about the Jewish context of the Gospel accounts and how Jesus fits into them. We look at passages like Romans 1, Acts 2:36, Philippians 2, and the baptism of Jesus in Mark 1. We also cover the importance of the understanding of the Old Testament and look at ideas such as Jesus being based more off of Greco-Roman imagery instead of Jewish thought.

The show was only an hour long, so that leaves plenty more for those interested in getting the book. I hope you’ll be looking forward to this episode. Please also consider going on ITunes and leaving a positive review for the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Party of Reason

Does any side own reason? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I was listening to Unbelievable? and one of the guests was from a British Humanist Association. I noticed how it was said by the guest something alone the lines of the belief in reason and that they are advocates for reason. Every time I hear something like this, I always get amazed that so many atheists and such out there want to advocate reason as if it was some new discovery that they made and the rest of the world doesn’t know about it.

Part of that has been that in our day and age, many atheists, especially on the internet, like to claim that they are the people of reason. This is usually in contrast to the theists who are the people of faith. Naturally, this is not an accurate understanding of faith, but a faith that is looked at as blind belief. If any internet atheist wants to think that this is what Christians have always believed, I just urge them to go and read the most educated Christians of today and the past.

This doesn’t mean that you will agree with the conclusion that the Christian makes. It would be great if you would, but I doubt it will happen immediately, but at least see that the people are using reason. They are presenting arguments and giving evidence and asking you to follow that evidence. You can disagree, but it is still the position of using reason.

Is this to say that all Christians are like this? Of course, but this would be like saying that all atheistic philosophers are like the ones that you encounter on the internet. There are too many Christians that are very anti-reason and do say there’s no evidence and you just have to have faith. There are too many atheists as well who claim reason but will believe many of the most unreasonable positions because they argue against Christianity, such as the nonsense idea that Jesus never even existed.

The problem also is that if one thinks they have reason and the other side doesn’t, then anything the other side says is discounted automatically. When I was engaged to Allie, a friend and I went to an event in Charlotte where Gary Habermas was speaking and in the Q&A an atheist tried to stump him at the microphone. Gary answered all of the questions and as the questioner was walking to his seat, my friend tells me he said, “At least I have logic on my side.”

Say all you want about logic, but there is nothing in logic that says God does not exist or that miracles cannot occur. No law of logic excludes those. Unfortunately, someone like this will just think that they are ipso facto a man of reason and they automatically are because, well, they’re an atheist and they’re the party of reason and so anything the opponent says must be false. Obviously, they’re a person of faith and they’re using reason after the fact. Even if that were so, that in itself does not discount the arguments.

Reason is a great tool and everyone should use it more and more and there are people who are people of faith on both sides. When I meet an atheist who makes a statement about how much they are the people of reason, I find it hard to take seriously. If you use reason, I certainly applaud you, but you are not different from the other people who are serious debaters in this field. In fact, the constant misunderstanding of faith from a Christian perspective means I just don’t take you seriously at all.

Reason is great, but it has been used by Christians for ages. It’s nothing new. Today too many atheists act like teenagers who have been given keys to the car and think that no one else has discovered driving. Sorry, but you’re not the only ones on this highway.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Happy Birthday Princess

How do I celebrate the birthday of my Princess? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out!

One of the benefits of having my own blog, while an apologetics blog, is that I can write about what I want. Today, my Princess happens to be turning 27 so I’d like to write about her. I think this is something all apologists can relate to as Chesterton said each of us is a great might-not-have-been. That my wife is is something that I can celebrate.

Princess. I am so happy to see you working to bring about better life changes. I don’t always understand the choices, but I know you want to be the best you can be. I am also thankful for the changes you’ve been making with me and your desire to be an even better wife than you already are.

I’m thankful when I’m sharing the Gospel with people, you can be by my side and can support me so well in it. Everything I do in this world is easier because you’re right there supporting me in it. I tell people that I think my ministry started going better and better once you came along. You inspire such great confidence in me and motivate me so much.

There are so many men in this world you could have been chasing after, but for some reason, you chose to chase after this nerdy little apologist. I don’t understand that. As we often joke about, I was not the type that you wanted at the beginning. Somehow, I found my way into your heart and for that I am grateful.

It is your birthday, but it looks like I am getting the gift. The gift is that I get to be with you. I get to love you and celebrate you. I get to be with you throughout this whole day. One of my greatest joys in life is getting to bring you joy. I want very little for myself these days. What I want is to get to be the best that I can be for you.

Please never take yourself for granted. I don’t care what the rest of the world says about you. You are my Princess. You are my gift. You are the one that I cherish and celebrate.

I am thankful to be your knight in shining armor, your Superman. If anyone messes with you, I am right there. No matter how close that person may be to you, I am there to protect you. I think many people have seen on Facebook that the unwritten rule is that if you insult Allie, you’d better be on your guard because her husband will have no mercy on you.

I don’t know what all else is in store for you today, but today I definitely want you to have a happy birthday. I am happy just getting to be with you and getting the honor of being the man in your life. It’s amazing to think that you’re 27 and I’ve been there through 8 years of your life and been your husband for 7 of them.

I love you, Princess. Happy birthday!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Seeing Through Christianity. Part 7

What does it mean to have faith? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done Zuersher’s book, which is mainly because having to review stuff like this after awhile feels like pulling teeth, but I think we need to get into it again. Today, we’re going to be looking at one of the favorite topics. Faith. This is one new atheists and internet atheists always get wrong. It won’t be a shock that that happens again.

We’re not disappointed. Right at the start Hebrews 11:1 is quoted and then we’re told that this is a substitute for evidence and admittance to Heaven. This is interesting because first off, heaven isn’t even mentioned in Hebrews 11:1. One could say the rest of the chapter does speak about looking for a heavenly city and such, but the notion is not equivalent to our whole going to Heaven when you die idea. Second, I faith is not seen as opposed to evidence and this is something I have written more about elsewhere.

Zuersher says the definition above means accepting something as true despite their being insufficient grounds. Of course, Zuersher could have bothered doing some actual research on the topic, but alas, that is too difficult. It’s better to just place faith in the new atheist mantra.

For Zuersher, this means faith is arbitrary. A person can have faith in anything and no one person’s would be better than another’s. Of course, this only happens to work if the claim is true about what faith is. It is not. One wonders that if this was what faith is, why do we even have the New Testament at all?

When asked what determines faith, Zuersher points to where we’re born. There’s no doubt that if you’re born in Iran, you’re more likely to be a Muslim or if you’re born in India, you’re more likely to be a Hindu, but there are also noted exceptions. Many people do convert even at the threat of death. Do they do so with no reason whatsoever?

What about what we believe scientifically? If you are born in a third world jungle that is pre-scientific, you might think the sun goes around the Earth and that evolution is bogus. You’re much less likely to think that if you are born in America. If you are born in Alaska as an Eskimo, you’re much more likely to think that blubber of sea animals is part of a healthy diet. We could go on and on.

We have the quote of Tertullian on how it is to be believed because it is absurd, but it is bizarre to think that Tertullian was opposed to evidence. His claim was rather that this is believed because no one would make up something this ridiculous. It was a turnaround on Marcion thinking that the claim was ridiculous.

Zuersher also says that according to John, Jesus was with the disciples for three years and yet needed better evidence to believe in the resurrection and asks “Do we not deserve equally compelling evidence?” Well, no. Why should you? What is so special about Zuersher that he deserves a personal appearance from the Almighty? (One is sure he’d chalk it up as a hallucination anyway.) Zuersher instead discounts the account as hearsay, despite the claim being from an eyewitness in John 21, something Bauckham makes a compelling case for in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. (Don’t expect Zuersher to go look for counter-evidence. It’ll challenge his faith too much.)

Zuersher also says faith is a problem because it elevates belief over conduct. As long as you believe, that’s all that matters. Has he never read the book of James?! Has he never read the condemnations of wicked practice in Paul, the one who would be seen as the great apostle of faith? In fact, Zuersher in this very section quotes James and yet ignores what he says about works and faith together. Zuersher paints apologists as saying that no one is good enough, which is true, but then that means that good and bad conduct don’t really matter. Where is the apologist that is arguing this please Zuersher? Please show him to me.

Zuersher then says that to turn belief into a salvific credential while denying a person’s conduct is morally repugnant. I agree. Would he please point me to the apologist who is saying otherwise? I know hundreds if not thousands of them. I don’t know a single one who would disagree.

Naturally, Zuersher does not understand Pascal’s Wager which he goes after. Pascal is not presenting this to the person as a reason to believe without evidence. He’s talking about the person who’s sitting on the fence and could go either way and just isn’t sure. Pascal says if you’re just not sure and think there’s evidence on both sides, go with Christianity! At least you have a gain there. We see he does not understand this because the wager does not tell you which god or goddess to believe in. It’s not supposed to. It’s for a specific kind of individual in a specific situation. I may not really agree with the wager, but I can easily wager that Zuersher has never read Pascal.

Sometime soon we will return to Zuersher. As one can see, it is difficult to read someone like this who actually thinks he’s informed enough to write a book on the topic.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Does Jesus Make A Difference?

Why should anyone trust Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As readers know, I’m all about here establishing the truth of Jesus’s resurrection and Christianity. That is important and needs to be done. My concern today is that we are too often not showing any reason for anyone to even bother to take Christianity seriously. Many Christians are indistinguishable from their non-Christian neighbors, which should be disappointing if Scripture tells us we are a peculiar people and about how we are to live among the pagans. While we don’t have many pagans today, though there are a few, we do still have people who we can say are unbelievers.

For too many Christians, the reason that this is so is that they just don’t really know much about Christianity. Why should they? Too many churches have it just as if Christianity is self-help that gives good advice to help you in your life, instead of about the radical announcement that God is reclaiming this world and building His Kingdom. If we were really to go to church in appropriate dress, it would be combat fatigues realizing we are on a mission to reclaim the world.

Too many Christians are what I call regurgitating Christians. They go to church and hear what their pastor says and when the time comes, they just puke it right back out again. They may have the right answers to the questions, but they don’t know why those answers are true. Your pastor could very well be a great guy, but he is not infallible. Scripture is, but his interpretation is not. Check out what is said.

We also have a view in our lives that the purpose of Christianity is that we can go to Heaven when we die. You can hear an altar call that doesn’t say a single thing about the resurrection of Jesus, serving God for life, or the Kingdom of God, but it will sure mention going to heaven when you die. Yes. The very purpose of Jesus coming to Earth and defeating sins was just so you could be happy for all of eternity. Surely God would not expect something bizarre from us, such as lifelong service.

Christianity is not just a get out of hell free card. Christianity is a worldview that is supposed to encompass everything you believe. It’s great that many of us have the right answers, but do we really understand them. Are we just being students who study before an exam so we can know the right answers without bothering to figure out how someone can know those are the right answers and what difference they make?

So Jesus rose from the dead. Why? Was God just showing off what He could do with Jesus, or could it be He was actually showing that Jesus has conquered death? Could it be that He was showing the divine claims of Jesus were actually true and Jesus is the rightful king of this world?

What about our ethics? Too many Christians are doing what everyone else does. They will go along with the politically correct crowd. This is especially the case with sexual ethics. There are too many Christians that see no real problem with sex before marriage or even living together before marriage. Does Christianity have anything to say about sex?

If you look at your neighbor and the only difference you and your non-Christian neighbor have is that you answer the Jesus questions right and they don’t, then you have a problem. I’m not questioning your salvation here, but I am saying that you seem to have it but it makes no difference. Imagine winning the big powerball lottery and having access to all the money, but going home and living your life with your budget the exact same way and having the money just sit there. That’s what many of us are doing with Jesus.

In all of this we look at the world and ask “What has gone wrong?” It’s good to ask that, but if you want to know what went wrong, it’s us. We went wrong. We did not heed the Great Commission. We have not made Jesus the central passion of our lives. Many of us know more about our favorite TV show or sports team than we do about Jesus. I’m not at all saying don’t have any other interests and hobbies, but do prioritize.

Look at everything in your life. If people can look at how you handle things in your life and look at how the non-Christian handles things and see absolutely no difference, why should they think Jesus makes any difference to you? If they don’t think Jesus makes any difference, why on Earth would they really bother investigating?

Keep in mind, I’m not saying their skepticism is justified. Sure, the church is full of hypocrites and such, but that doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. That’s established on its own. It’s my contention here that we could at times be placing an extra hurdle in front of people who could otherwise come to Jesus. Not only are we keeping them away, we are really missing out on a full Christian life that we could be having.

How do you do this? Go and get some good books on basic Christianity or go and listen to some Christian podcasts on the topic. Do more than just a couple of hours on Sunday. Christianity is not just a system of ethics for being a good person and then getting to go to heaven when you die. It’s a worldview that is meant to encompass and touch everything in your life. Many of us are sitting on a gold mine and living like paupers. There is far more for us if we will just take it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

In Defense of Shaunti Feldhahn

Does Shaunti Feldhahn encourage men to use pornography? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, Christian author Shaunti Feldhahn posted on her Facebook page about how her and Craig Gross have negative reviews for Through A Man’s Eyes, and how apparently Shaunti is saying that it’s okay for men to watch porn and women need to accept that this is how men are. Of course, most every book will get some negative reviews and points will be misunderstood. This is one point I think there is no way someone could misunderstand her on.

My first entry into Shaunti’s books was to read For Women Only. A woman actually recommended I read it to understand my relationships with women better and this was long before my wife Allie came into my life. The next after that was For Men Only and at this point, I was not married yet so I laughed some at the thought of men reading it to get more sex, but not as much as I do now. (Wait a second. That is what it said isn’t it? Maybe I should see if I can find my copy around here somewhere….) Finally, I read Through A Man’s Eyes and thought that the book was practically a biography of my own walk.

If anything I suspect is behind this, it is that many women don’t really want to accept what was said in that last book. They don’t like the thought that most husbands out there struggle with lust. They don’t like realizing that most husbands out there really do think about sex that much. Feminism has come around with an effort to try to tame masculinity. Men are hideous and shameful just because they are men.

The story starts with a man who goes off to work and in the morning, he’s thinking about the love making he and his wife had last night. As he goes throughout the day, he is surrounded by advertisements of beautiful women and real beautiful women at the office. He works to avoid temptation all day long. Then he gets home to the one woman he can delight in and lo and behold, she wants to hide herself from him as if it would be just awful if he saw her body.

If a woman thinks this is something far from the truth, then she is just wrong. I have written about this on a post about a man’s world. I urge women to think about being on a diet and then passing through the ice cream or the candy or cookies section of the grocery store. That is the only thing I can think of comparable to what we men go through.

Why do we go through it? We go through it because we love God and we love the women in our lives. This includes those of us who are single. The only female body I delight in is my wife’s. One cannot say other women are not beautiful, but their beauty is not for me. Why would I chase after and wonder about another woman’s body? My wife’s body is blessing enough for me.

Despite saying that, I realize that is a battle I face every day. Shaunti was quite right when she spoke about it being hard on a pastor even in a church when a lady in the front row is wearing a top that is more revealing than she probably realizes. This isn’t saying women need to go around wearing burkas or something of the sort, but there does need to be a mutual understanding. Men are very visual and they need to be aware of that.

Are men for the most part visual? Yes. Does that justify it? No. As someone with Aspergers married to someone with Aspergers, I have a saying about why we do what we do because of our Aspergers. It is an explanation, but it is not a justification. Why are men tempted with porn and looking at other women? Because we are visual. Is that an explanation? Yes. Does that justify it? Not on your life.

Many men watch porn because their sexuality is so much of who they are. It is where they find their identity. If they can feel like a man and feel appealing to a woman, then they are the man. That’s the bad news. It is a constant battle. Here is the good news. Their wives can know how to best reach them. Don’t let an unknown woman on a screen have a love affair with your husband. You do it.

Nowhere in Shaunti’s writings does she endorse or approve of porn. Nowhere. It is unequivocally wrong. What is realized is why men do it, and that is part of the solution. One of the steps to knowing how to deal with it is to know why men do it to begin with.

If you are a woman condemning what you read about, try and talk to your husband and ask him if the description in the book is accurate. Of course, some men are vastly different. Sometimes it is the woman with the higher drive in a relationship. Their wives just can’t get enough of it. (And as Mark Gungor says, if you are one of those men, then I think I speak on behalf of all men when I say “We hate you.”) Many men are like this and keep in mind, Shaunti wrote this with someone who is a man who runs a ministry to help people stop using pornography.

Some of you may have critiques of Shaunti on other grounds such as her methodology and such. I cannot speak to that. Those are issues I am sure Shaunti takes seriously. This is one area there should be no misunderstanding on. I find the notion that Shaunti is fine with pornography use completely groundless. I instead happily recommend her material and think many marriages would be better if we would learn from it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Problem of Boredom

Is it a problem that we live in a bored society? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I wrote a blog post about finishing Clay Jones’s book on the problem of evil. One topic he talked about in that book was Heaven and how many people, not just skeptics, have a fear that they will be bored in Heaven. To be fair, if Heaven was like the way it is depicted in popular media, it would be boring. Sadly, if it was also the way it is often described in many churches, it would be boring.

As I thought about this, I considered that what if boredom isn’t just a problem with Heaven, but also with this life? Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the purpose of our life is to be entertained, but isn’t joy listed as a fruit of the Spirit? Are Christians supposed to be bored?

When I was single and living in an apartment in Knoxville, I had two friends I hung out with regularly. One wasn’t a Christian at the time. One was. The three of us would regularly go out together and stop at bookstores. I would buy one or two apologetics books. My non-Christian friend would buy several fun things from there, sometimes books, and I don’t really remember what the other would get.

Inevitably, I’d be sitting alone in my apartment on the internet with either a book or watching TV or playing a video game and I’d get a call from my non-Christian friend saying he was bored. This would be just after going to the store a few days ago. It always amazed me that I got far fewer things and things that weren’t designed for fun, but the problem of boredom never struck me.

Today, we live in a society where one can pick up the remote and go through all the channels, normally over 200 of them, and say “There’s nothing on.” We can then go through Netflix and just say “Nah. I don’t want to watch that.” We look at our library of video games and think “No. I don’t want to do that one now.” No matter what it is, it’s like we don’t really find interest in anything.

Even more, we don’t find interest in God. Sadly, I can understand it. When we start to think about God, it’s hard to know what to think about. One of the reasons I think God gets boring to us is because unlike Aslan, we have made God a tame lion. We have these neatly defined ideas of what God is, and yet we don’t expect God to rock the boat. We don’t expect God to do much. He kind of just sits on His throne being God. We can think about all of His attributes and such, but it doesn’t seem to move us.

This is also a problem because boredom is really showing a lack of appreciation. Romans 1 says that part of the problem of the rebellion of mankind was that man was not thankful. When we are too easily bored and not interested in the things that have been made, we are insulting them and in turn, insulting their maker. We are saying there is not enough good in them to captivate us.

One exception to this that a skeptic in Jones’s book mentioned was the subject of sex. I think this person is on to something. Sexuality is something that does not lead to a law of diminishing returns but rather a law of increasing returns. I want to stress that this is in the case of marriage.

Outside of marriage, sex becomes more about just fun instead of really bonding. No doubt, there is fun involved, but for people who are married, the joy is getting to be bonded to that person. If you make it just about fun, you will wind up viewing the other person as an object to be used for pleasure and wondering if a different body can bring you more pleasure.

Sex doesn’t seem to lose its interest because that’s about a person, and persons are interesting. Couples who have been married for 50+ years wind up still learning new things about one another. The more one is intimate with the same person, the more one comes to enjoy and appreciate that person as even your own bodies learn how to work better together.

The more we get interested in the person of God, the more we will delight in Him. If we think of God in too abstract a way, it could be that He ceases to be a person of wonder to us. This is something that I will freely admit I still struggle with. The same has happened with the Bible. We’ve heard the stories so much that they no longer have a shock value to us. We read “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” and think nothing about it. Any reader in the ancient world would have dropped the scroll in absolute shock. If we pictured John writing the words, he must have had an exceedingly difficult time writing that sentence as it seemed to be too unbelievable.

We really need to return wonder. Our society being so bored is a problem in that we don’t see the good and we don’t see what living is all about. In fact, I think this has something to do with our culture of suicide. It’s all too easy to decide that there’s nothing in the world worth living for.

There is indeed. Every day of your life is filled with wonder if you will look. Everything in your life that is good might not have been. Every good thing is a gift. You are owed nothing. That means all that is yours is a gift so accept it with joy. This includes the reality of God.

Go out and enjoy your life. Christians need not be bored. We have a wonderful world God gave us to enjoy.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/5/2017: Bryan Sands

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

If you love a movie series, when the new movie series comes out, if you have the money and you have the time, you go. Why wait? It’s not that big a deal. If you love a video game series, when the new one comes out, you go and buy it. Why wait? It’s not that big a deal. If you love a book series, when the next installment comes out, you go out and buy it and read it. Why wait? It’s not that big a deal.

So what happens if you love sex?

You don’t wait for all these other things and if you really want to have sex, doesn’t it seem odd to wait until you’re married? Why would anyone want to do that? Is this really a big deal? Don’t we know that it’s just sex? We’ve moved past these regressive views of the past haven’t we that think sex is just for marriage. Right?

My guest this Saturday says the question of why someone should wait is a good one. There’s no question that people enjoy sex, so what is the big deal? Could it be for your own best interests to actually save sex for marriage? His name is Bryan Sands as someone who has been a youth minister, he understands what the struggle of our youth are with sex and we’ll see what he has to say.

So who is he?

Bryan Sands served in youth ministry for thirteen years. For the past six years, he’s been the director of campus ministries at Hope International University in Fullerton, CA. He now has a regular blog up at everyonelovessex.org. He and his wife Caz live with their two daughters Abigail and Lily Rose in Orange County, CA.

So if we are people who love sex and think it’s wonderful, then why on Earth would we tell someone that they have to wait? We don’t do that for movies and video games and books generally, so why would we do that for sex? What makes sex so different?

What damage can be done when sex is misused? If sex is so good, then how is it that it can lead to the destruction of so many lives? What is this great power of sex that it can bind a husband and wife closer together and yet it can also lead to the destruction of so many lives? How can someone who is sexually broken find healing?

What about pornography? Usually thought of as a man’s problem, many more women are getting caught in pornography as well. Not only that, those who are not, such as daughters dating young men, suffer the effects of pornography due to what’s happened in the minds of the men that they’re dating. Porn has changed the sexual landscape.

And we could also talk about human trafficking. This is a very real problem and a lot of it comes from the pornography industry. What can we do about this problem?

We’ll be talking about these kinds of questions this Saturday. I hope you’ll be looking for the newest episode. I hope also it will fill you with a deep respect and admiration of the gift of sex that God created. If you’re unmarried, I hope you’ll renew your commitment to wait until marriage and if you are married, you’ll remember the importance of sex in your marriage.

Please be looking for the new episode and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast!

In Christ,
Nick Peters