Book Plunge: Resurrecting The Trinity

What do I think of M. James Sawyer’s book published by Weaver Book Company? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The Trinity is something that many people do not really pay attention to in Christianity. Sawyer is certainly right that for many Christians today that if the Trinity was proven false, their church services and worship style would be little changed if any. We are often mere monotheists, confessing Trinitarians but practicing Arians.

Of course, we do lip service to the Trinity, but that’s where it usually ends. The only other time we open up the Trinity box is when Jehovah’s Witnesses come by so we can beat them up with it and win in a battle that we don’t often see the importance of and then the Trinity goes back on the shelf. Sawyer wants us to see the Trinity as a life-changing doctrine.

In our modern secular world, we can often view God through a scientific lens where He often plays no active role in our universe except for an occasional miracle. This is why deism is such a possibility for so many people. The universe can run on its own power with laws of nature being active. God is not really necessary. The universe is just a big machine.

Go back to the past and in fact to many other traditions today like the Orthodox church and the Trinity is a living reality to them. We can make many statements about God that would be easily agreed to by a Muslim or a Jew. To some extent, this is understandable. There is no philosophical argument that can prove the Trinity. If we have just reason alone, we can get so far, but the problem is we often act like reason alone has got us as far as we can go.

Instead, the Trinity is to show us what God is like mainly through Christ. Christ doesn’t appease an angry side of God. Christ shows us what the Father Himself is like. If we think the Father is eager to judge us, then we have to ask why Jesus doesn’t seem the same way. There is no dark side of God. What you see is what you get. When you look at Jesus, you see what God is like.

Sawyer also shows that we can have those false views of God such as the kind of name-it, claim-it God or the God who is eager to smite us all. To some extent, we all have these ideas of God at some time in our lives I suppose. It has been rightly said that whatever your idea of God is, it is inadequate. Still, we should strive for as truthful a view as possible.

Sawyer also says that this has often led to a certain moralizing in our walk. Holiness can become a burden when it needn’t be because we are trying to appease the angry God. There is no problem with being moral, but the issue is did Jesus really come to establish a new morality, or did He come to give us God? By all means, He showed us a better way, but did He not show God as well?

When we look at our theology, it is too easy to not have it really be informed by Jesus. The God of the philosophers is tempting to stick with, but the God revealed in Christ is a huge step forward. Too many of us are too tempted to stick with all the omni traits, which we should not deny, and just leave it at that instead of interacting with the whole theological picture.

There isn’t as much in defense of the Trinity here against objections, but that’s fine. There is some grounding of the idea and how it contrasts with Rabbinic thought and about what happened in the Arian controversy, but I think the whole of the work doesn’t seek to defend the Trinity as much as it seeks to show why the Trinity matters. This is indeed something that we need restored to the church today.

The only major area I think I’d disagree with is that Sawyer does seem to hold a higher view of The Shack than I would like. It’s quite interesting that one of the main reasons I didn’t like that book was because of the way it treated the Trinity. If you are like me, you can still get a lot out of this as it doesn’t play a major role in the book.

I hope a book like Sawyer’s is appreciated. The church needs to reclaim the revelation that has been given in Christ. Our doctrine has become largely about morality and such instead of really about a revelation of who God is so that He can often seem just as distant to us as He would have been before the revelation of Jesus. There is a better way.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Born This Way?

What do I think of J. Alan Branch’s book published by Weaver Book Company? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you debate any with people and homosexuality is brought up, you will find people saying that they are “born this way.” In the movie Religulous, Bill Maher interviews someone who is a Christian saying that there is no gay gene. In the middle, we get a cut to a scene of Maher asking Dean Hamer, “Have you found a gay gene?” “Yes.” That’s it. No context. Nothing more. It was settled.

Are homosexuals really born this way? J. Alan Branch takes us on a tour of psychology and science to see what can be found out. He starts off with looking at the minds that have fundamentally shaped the debate for us all. The first starting place is Freud and seeing what he said, which wasn’t really as much as one would think.

We get a lot more when we get to Kinsey. Today, Kinsey is seen as one of the greatest authorities, but in reality, his work was significantly flawed. In fact, it was so flawed that one could even see it got information from those who had to be guilty of child molestation. Kinsey accepted information from volunteers, interviewed people in prison, and other such problems. Kinsey himself was quite clear about his goals in doing away with Christian morality.

Finally, what happened with psychology and psychiatry in the 70’s? The truth is, not a lot of science but a whole lot of politics. This cleared the way for normalization and then for opposition. The movement already had an agenda in mind with the publication of After The Ball which they played perfectly.

From there, we move on to the possible scientific explanations for someone being born homosexual. This area is often dense in scientific thought so it can be hard to understand. That could be the unavoidable nature of the beast. Still, Branch is conversant with the literature and knows what those arguing the position are talking about.

One area he looks at that many people will be pleased to see is about animals. He does say that animals do sometimes engage in homosexual acts, but this is not a new discovery. Our ancestors knew about this long ago and the only reason it’s a shock to so many today is that we are far more cut off from nature. Branch points out that if we went by this, then we should also justify people eating their children since animals often devour their young in the wild.

After looking at all manner of studies, Branch then takes on a more pastoral position. How are we to help people in the church who legitimately struggle with same-sex attraction? They are indeed there. We don’t need to think they’re lying. We don’t need to treat them like a disease. One great way is that men need men who are friends with them and can say they love them, but not have it be sexual. Likewise, women need similar with women.

Branch concludes that homosexuality is likely caused by a multiplicity of factors and no one factor can settle the deal. This is also a predisposition to behave a certain way. It does not necessitate that one act on that impulse. One can choose to be celibate or one can choose to marry someone of the opposite sex and form a loving relationship with them.

Christians wanting to understand the debate will want to read this book. Branch is thorough and at the same time, more brief than you would think as the book has just a little over 150 pages of content. It will be a helpful addition to anyone’s library who cares about this issue.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: The Qur’an In Context

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

The Qur’an for many Christians is a very foreign book. Some people have tried to read it and yet have not made it past the second sura. The style of writing is different to most Christians and does not seem like an engaging work, but the reality is that Christians need to understand this work. Whatever you think of Islam, the Qur’an is the holy book of this faith and it has shaped the world greatly.

Anderson has written a book to help us in its text. Anderson urges us rightly to try to drop our preconceptions and approach the book seriously and seek to understand the way it was written, the why, and the historical context. Even if you don’t think it’s holy Scripture, the Qur’an still should be understood on its own terms. That requires work, just like understanding the Bible does. I have been a long opposition to people not bothering to study the historical context of the Bible and yet speaking on it. I say the same for the Qur’an.

Anderson goes through piece by piece and then compares what he finds to the Bible. There is no doubt on my part he wants to be as fair as he can to the Qur’an. He also addresses the question of if we worship the same God or not. I think we could say that we have that as our intention and I think that Anderson does argue that, but there can be no doubt the descriptions of Allah and YHWH are vastly different.

Anderson also wants us to study the world of 7th century Arabia. What was going on? What were Christians and Jews and pagans all saying? How did Muhammad approach this world?

Next comes a long look at the worldview of the Qur’an. What does it say about evil? What does it say about Adam? What must one do to be saved? All of these have marked differences and Anderson has many questions about whether the system in the Qur’an is really coherent or not.

Jesus is a big topic. The problem for the view of Jesus in the Qur’an is that it’s really downplaying. Very little is said about the ministry and teaching of Jesus. Much comes from non-canonical sources and its depiction of the Trinity is highly lacking. The Qur’an says Jesus is the Messiah, but divests this of any real meaning at all.

Amazingly, you can have many in-depth looks at the lives of other people in the Bible, but with Jesus, you get nothing like that. You don’t understand what His ministry was and why He came. It simply looks like Jesus is only there to point to Muhammad.

Ah yes, but what about the crucifixion? The Qur’an is clear on that and that’s that Jesus did not die on the cross. Anderson disputes that and I have to say he makes a highly highly compelling case. I have long thought that Islam denies that Jesus was crucified, and many Muslims do, but Anderson made a case that made me rethink if that’s what the original Qur’anic author intended and I dare say I will not be as strident until I find a better response to that claim. Anderson bases his claim on what he considers a better reading of that text in light of other texts he thinks are clearer. He contends that others are reading the clear texts in light of this one and changing those in ways that don’t fit.

Finally, he wraps things up by asking if we could say the Qur’an is the sequel to the Bible. The answer is decidedly, no. There are too many differences across the board. Still, we should strive to understand the Qur’an in its historical context to have better discussions with the Muslims we encounter.

Anderson’s book gives a lot of food for thought. He is kind and fair in his treatment and there is nothing here I can think of that would be seen as “Anti-Muslim” or dare I say it, Islamophobic. I look forward to even seeing what some Muslims think about the material in here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Engendered

What do I think of Sam Andreades’s book published by Weaver Book Company? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As a married man, reading about differences in gender is very interesting to me. How is it that husbands and wives are to relate together? What is it that makes us so different? What makes a man a man and what makes a woman a woman? As a Christian, I am thoroughly interested in a Biblical perspective, especially in an age where we often get the soundbite that gender is a social construct.

Andreades’s book is an excellent one. It was one I looked forward to reading every night. It’s hard for some to imagine that someone could take gender and make it interesting, but Andreades makes it fascinating. Andreades pulls you in and if you’re like me, inspires you to be a better man. (The counterpart being a better woman of course.)

Andreades also deals with current issues. He has done interviews with men who used to be in homosexual relationships and are now happily married to women. The interview involves a questionnaire that he calls the “Does She Matter?” quiz. His interviews show that change is indeed possible.

He also deals with false ideas of masculinity and femininity. Some men, for instance, thrive on love more than respect. Does that mean they’re less of men? One favorite part of mine is where he says that he in his life although being a man has never drunk a can of beer. Do you want to step outside and make something of it? As a man who never drinks alcohol, I can assure him I don’t, and I’m also the man who gets absolutely bored at football games.

The book is biblical entirely. One interesting aspect is he’ll tell a biblical story, but you won’t know it is one. These will often open chapters. Then I tried to always find out if I could identify the story. Fortunately, I could. It does make the stories show up in a whole new light. One particular aspect I liked is his look at women in the book of Judges. What is that? I guess you’ll have to get the book to find out.

Andreades also deals with thorny issues like submission in marriage and what role leadership plays. These are handled delicately and I think both sexes can find affirmation in what was said. Both are repeatedly called to live sacrificial lives.

What also makes something masculine? (Or feminine) In a favorite illustration, Andreades asks men to imagine going to the big Super Bowl, promised to be the best one of all. You sit down at the fifty-yard line right up front. Then you look to your left and see a woman. There’s one to your right as well. You look around and the stadium is largely full of women aside from some isolated men wondering what’s going on like yourself. Do you suddenly feel masculine? Could it be the masculinity is not in football, but the men you are with?

Interestingly, Andreades doesn’t really get into sex until the final section and not much is said about it, and I would very much like to hear his perspective on the role of sexuality in marriage. There’s also then something for the single people. If male and female relationships are what define us, can single people be male or female? Of course they can, but again, that’s for you to find out.

If I could recommend one book right now on this topic it would be this one. Andreades is an excellent writer and treats the text seriously. I look forward to any future writings he has.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Reincarnation, A Christian Appraisal

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

Reincarnation is one of the major afterdeath theories in the world today. Despite that, very little seems to be written on it aside from maybe including it in a larger topic. In my search for a good book, I decided to go with Albrecht’s. Despite it being over thirty years old, I am sure it’s still good today.

Albrecht is gentle in his approach yet at the same time he does ask the pointed questions. He has researched the other religions of the world where reincarnation is dominant and has interacted with popularizers of reincarnation theories, like Ian Stevenson. He brings forward the best cases that he can including ideas of past life recall where people seem to remember things from before they were born.

Albrecht also looks at Biblical arguments that are put forward for reincarnation which involves looking at some of the history of the church. Today, it’s not uncommon to hear that the early church did teach reincarnation and yet it was taken out of the text. Albrecht makes a compelling case that reincarnation is entirely foreign to the Biblical worldview and does not fit at all. He also does this by interacting with the best material put forward again by those in favor of reincarnation.

Another great help to this is the theology of reincarnation. What does reincarnation if true say about God? What does it also say about the problem of evil? While reincarnation is seen as a solution to the problem of people being judged eternally for just one life, does reincarnation solve the problem? What if instead reincarnation raises more questions than it answers?

Albrecht’s book instead gives a Biblical counter to the worldview of reincarnation and shows how the problem of evil is not solved by this but rather complicated. One ends up with a lower god as it were. Biblical Christianity instead has a God who directly enters into our suffering in the person of Jesus Christ and does seek to deliver us from suffering in this world, but not by having us do all the work of it over and over.

That means that going against reincarnation and embracing resurrection should instead help us to appreciate grace all the more. Forgiveness is what is needed to show the weakness of the cycle of karma and rebirth. We do not have to go through many many lives in order to fully realize our destiny of being united to God. We just have to trust in the way that He has provided for us.

Reincarnation is still an option to much of the world today and in our Hollywood culture will often be seen as a serious contender. Christians need to be equipped to address this and we need to see more works out there dealing with this way of thinking. Albrecht’s is still a good one after all this time, but I’m sure he’d agree that other Christians need to take up the charge.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Love By The Book

What do I think of Walter Kaiser’s book published by Weaver Book Company? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are some subjects that are often deemed too risque to talk about at church. One of those is sex. This is quite unusual since we have a whole book of the Bible dedicated to marriage and sex, which is, of course, the Song of Songs. Even in the past, it was considered something that you should be fully mature before you read the book. Some rabbis suggested waiting until you were thirty years old.

Kaiser thinks we need to look at this book again. We live in an age where the culture wants to redefine marriage and where sexual virtues are going out the window fast. The church needs to be living out what was meant by marriage. His contribution to this is to look at this beautiful love story in the Bible.

For many of us who read the Song of Songs, it can seem a bit disjointed. Who is saying what? What is going on? One of the first mistakes Kaiser wants us to move past is reading it as an allegory. Could we say in some ways it’s a story of the love of God and Israel or Christ and the church? Perhaps, but let’s not get so caught up in the allegory that we miss the non-allegorical reading, it’s a celebration of true marital love.

Kaiser also says the more historical interpretation has been to see it as a story. The story involves this beautiful little shepherd girl who Solomon sees one day as he’s touring his country and decides to take into his harem. He woos her with all the best that he has and the other ladies of the harem, the daughters of Jerusalem are all there. Everyone is stunned. This girl is not giving in to the king. Why? Because she is in love with her shepherd-boyfriend back home.

The story then becomes one of faithful devotion. The girl will turn down the allure of the king in order to be with the one that her heart truly desires. Nothing can destroy the passionate love that she feels for this man. In the end, Solomon decides to let her go. She is in essence “The one that got away.” He ends up writing this song, the greatest of songs, about this love of his who he failed to seize because she had sold her heart to a shepherd boy already.

Kaiser’s book is short. It could be read in an evening if one wanted to. It also is good for small groups as it has several discussion questions. The book is friendly enough that it could be read easily without causing much embarrassment. Each chapter has discussion questions that a group could discuss together. I think it would be optimal for a small group that consists of married couples to read this together and discuss the commitment that they have to their own marriage.

I have long been an advocate of the idea that if we are going to restore marriage truly to the church, we have to live it. A proper understanding of sex and marriage is something we really need for that. Kaiser’s book is something that is needed for such a time as this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: End Times Bible Prophecy. It’s Not What They Told You.

What do I think of Brian Godawa’s book published by Embedded Pictures Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Brian Godawa writes as someone who is a reluctant Orthodox Preterist. He writes about growing up in a futurist mindset and then when he first encountered the view that he’s currently defending of Orthodox Preterism, he was shocked. That has to be heresy! It has to be liberals not taking the Bible literally! It’s undermining the faith delivered once and for all to the saints!

His experience is not unusual. I remember being stunned the first time I heard about the Preterist viewpoint. How could anyone think this? I remember reading in an old study Bible about different views of Revelation and how some think it depicts events that happened in the first century and thinking “Wow. Some people really believed that all this stuff happened?” Of course, it was my mindset that was in the reading of “All this stuff must be fulfilled in a wooden literalistic sense.” It never occurred to me that the problem could be my viewpoint.

Like Brian, I had cracks show up in my thinking that were hard to answer. What about the statement of “This generation will not pass away?” I also started seeing that some ideas behind the view of the rapture were extremely difficult to hold. These were paths I did not want to take, but the evidence was too strong to avoid not taking those paths.

Abandoning the idea of the rapture was extremely hard, and yet I wasn’t done. As I met preterists, I started realizing that I was wrong about what they believed. It wasn’t the case that everything had happened in 70 A.D. I had just never really taken the time to look like I should have. It was a group discussion led by two preterists that got me to see what my problem was.

Brian’s book begins with his own story and then goes to hermeneutics. I think this is an excellent way to begin as Brian shows a different way to read Scripture that still strives to be faithful to the test and is not “liberal” or “denying Inerrancy.” Hermeneutics is one of the first areas of questions I have for futurists nowadays. It is asking them that even if their conclusion differs, and I’m thankful it does, how is their hermeneutic any different from the one that produced the four blood moons of John Hagee?

He then goes step by step through the Olivet Discourse. Brian is gentle and understands regularly how his readers could balk at this thinking. He takes a few diversions to look at questions like the antichrist and such. All the while, Brian wants to take someone’s hand and slowly walk them through this territory that could be unfamiliar to them.

Still, he has produced a convincing work. A few times I was reading and thinking “Brian. You could have a much better argument if you would include XYZ.” I would find a few paragraphs later that Brian does indeed know about XYZ and says something about it. Brian is also not at all dogmatic in what he says.

It’s also helpful that he has a part in here about the idea of Neohymenaeanism, whereby everything was said to take place in 70 A.D. No doubt, more could be said here, but he does refer to another work on this topic. He wants people to still know that Jesus will return and there will be a bodily resurrection.

Brian’s book is an excellent guide for someone wanting the ins and outs of this whole area. He also has a novel that can go with it called Tyrant: Rise of the Beast. I have not read it yet, but it is supposed to be a novel form of what he is talking about in his book if you prefer that way instead.

I recommend that anyone interested in the truth about “Bible prophecy” check out Brian’s book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Salvation By Allegiance Alone

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

Matthew Bates has written a book with a certainly interesting title. One can expect based on that that people on both sides will be tempted to go after him. (Cue James White having a twelve part series on his show about this.) That would be a shame if it happened because a lot that needs to be said is in this book.

Bates is not wanting to undermine grace, but he is wanting to get rid of a sort of system that is more centered on getting people to get saved instead of getting them to realize Jesus is their king, which would include salvation. We are at a point where we want to get people to sign on a proverbial dotted line and then lo and behold, our work is done. A church group will go out and witness in the streets and get one person to commit their life to Jesus, most likely to get his evangelists to shut up, come back to church shouting success, and that person will never ever darken the doors of a church. Discipleship is not a part of the process.

Bates starts with going after the term faith and that we really shouldn’t use it. I agree with him on this. Faith is a term that has been so misunderstood in our day and age that it leads to more problems. Bates looked at some bad definitions of faith. He wrote about Mormons who wanted someone to believe on faith based on the burning in the bosom. I would have liked to have seen in this section of bad usages of faith the fact that new atheist writers regularly describe faith falsely. People like Dawkins and Harris call it belief without evidence. Peter Boghossian called it pretending to know things you don’t know.

Another good one to look at would have been the Word of Faith movement. Bates looks at this some with saying some people think faith is positive thinking, but this is certainly that and going beyond in a more twisted way. This faith results in the death of children because, hey, you’re not supposed to go to a doctor. Have faith.

With this, it’s time to return to the full Gospel. The Gospel is not me-centered. It is Jesus-centered. It depends on what God has done in Jesus. He gives the Gospel eight parts. Not all have to be explicitly mentioned, but they are all part of the story. Jesus pre-existed with the Father, took on human flesh to fulfill the promises to David, died in accordance with what Scripture says, buried, raised on the third day again as prophesied, appeared to many, sits at the right hand of God as Lord, and will return to judge. This is indeed much more thought out than “Jesus died for my sins.”

It’s also important to realize Jesus taught this Gospel. Too many times when we want the Gospel, we jump straight to Paul. The Gospels pretty much tell us about how Jesus lived, but if you want to know about salvation, you really need to go to Paul. This is not to be anti-Paul or to say that Paul and Jesus contradict, but it is to say we should look at what Jesus said about the Gospel.

Bates then goes on to say that true salvation is allegiance. This is not to make people think of works salvation, as he gets into when he answers questions. We could say one does works not to earn salvation, but because one has sworn allegiance to Jesus as king.

Some of this part to me is still unclear. We do know that John wants us to know we have eternal life (1 John 5:13) and we don’t want to have people living in fear of their own salvation. At the same time, we don’t want to undermine obedience to Jesus. As someone in a ministry position, I do know for instance of many men who come to me and who want to be good Christians, and yet have the struggle of dealing with pornography. Bates does recognize we still have entangling sin and he himself has some sins he is struggling with, but I wonder how this would be handled in a pastoral situation, but more on that later.

The next major section is on new creation. Bates says we have too often made Heaven the goal of Christianity. I couldn’t agree more. Some of my biggest problems with funerals today has been the emphasis on Heaven. Don’t get me wrong. There is a glorious after-death waiting for us. The problem is that the grand coming of it is not until the resurrection and it’s not in a place far far away. It’s right here on Earth. God is going to recreate this world and it will be better than ever before.

Bates then says we need to restore the idol of God. Some people might wonder what he’s getting into with a chapter like this, but he’s entirely correct. Bates says that in ancient Hebrew terminology, we being in the image of God would mean we are the idol of God. We represent God. No piece of wood could ever do that. The main example of this is, of course, Jesus.

When we restore humanity to its rightful place, we will also treat one another better. Each of us is someone who bears the image of God. To treat your neighbor unjustly is to treat God unjustly. To love your neighbor rightly is to love God rightly.

The final chapters are much more theological and the systematic theologians will love it. This is looking at the ideas of righteousness and atonement. Those who are curious about the New Perspective on Paul will find an interesting look here at the material.

I would liked to have seen more on the pastoral side in the book as it is written for the lay audience. I could picture a mother reading this and saying “So does that mean when my son accepted Christ at a young age that it was illegitimate because allegiance was not sworn?” I do not think Bates would say this, but I think there needed to be something like that there. I do agree that we need allegiance brought in. We said the pledge of allegiance to the flag every day in school. Why not to our Lord every Sunday in church?

While there are points of clarification that will be brought out later, Bates book is full of good material that needs to be learned. It is a call to return to discipleship. It is a call to remember Jesus is indeed your friend and you have a relationship with Him, but He is your king and deserves no lesser treatment.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Breaking The Stronghold of Food.

What do I think of Michael and Nancy Brown’s book published by Siloam? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let me be clear right at the start. I do not have this struggle. If it were possible to have all my meals in a pill form suddenly with some futuristic technology and still get all the nutrients and avoid hunger, I would have no problem with it. In my more literalist days, I could not get excited about the end of the age because people would talk about the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and I figured I’d just sit in a corner somewhere waiting until the meal was done. You can tell this looking at me. I weigh about 120 pounds and I’m a 5’7″ guy.

My diet, however, does not consist of a lot of junk. I do eat seafood and if I snack, I prefer things like granola bars and crackers and such. If we go out to eat, I would prefer to go to Smoothie King or Subway over a pizza place. I do have a fondness for something with peanut butter, but I do not have a food addiction at all. Why would I read this book then?

Because my wife does and I think part of being a good husband is understanding your wife.

Dr. Brown and his wife both struggled with a food addiction and they had to make a radical change. Dr. Brown writes about how this is also a spiritual struggle and for many people, yes, a sin struggle. It is mistreating the temple that one has been given and cutting their life short and robbing their loved ones of time with them for the sake of food. Dr. Brown is sympathetic in the book as is his wife, but he also just tells it like it is.

He’s also not preaching from Sinai. He tells about how he was one who struggled with this problem immensely. For him and his wife, much of what they did revolved around food. By removing the addiction to food, their whole lives became immensely better.

It wasn’t an easy struggle. Dr. Brown before he became a Christian was a heroin addict and once he gave his life to Christ, he went cold turkey entirely and is free. For him, giving up chocolates was harder than giving up heroin. He had to learn to change his palate radically and could not allow himself to cheat at all. Exercise was a part of it, but the biggest change was the change of diet.

Dr. Brown walks through how we tolerate often overeating, but we treat it differently from any other wrong. Who of us would say a little bit of pornography is no big deal? Who would say that a little bit of cheating on your wife is nothing major and hey, we all do it? Yet when it comes to food, we let all that fly out the window. Most of us don’t eat because we’re hungry, but because we want something else and we even have our bodies tricking us into thinking we’re hungry when we’re really not.

It also taught me that I need to be praying for my own wife in this. Granted for me, this is a challenge. I can spend a lot of time doing study and such, but prayer is hard since that’s a more relational act. Still, the idea was gripping and I hope that one day, my Princess will be free of the stronghold. I think she will be immensely healthier and happier and it will be better for the two of us.

Throughout the book, Nancy throws in her own helpful tips. One particular funny one is about how Dr. Brown saw an infomercial about another miracle weight loss product and was so excited. He really wanted to order it the next day and lose all their pounds. Nancy’s comment there begins by pointing out that this man actually has a Ph.D.! Yes. Sometimes Ph.D. can stand for phenomenally dumb. Even smart people, and Dr. Brown is certainly one, can fall for gimmicks like this. For him, there is no gimmick and the same goes for Nancy. There are no shortcuts on the way to success and there is no quarter with the enemy.

I do not struggle with this. Still, if you do or know someone who does, go through this book to open you up. I could read all about doughnuts and pizza and ice cream, which I can enjoy, and sleep peacefully not worried about temptation. (My wife says that the old adage of the way to a man’s heart being through his stomach would never have worked for me.) Dr. Brown’s book is less about diet and exercise I think than a look at the spiritual struggle with questions at the end of each chapter to make you think about the struggle more.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Textual Criticism and Qur’an Manuscripts

What do I think of Keith Small’s book published by Lexington Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

At an event recently, I was involved in a debate with Muslims who brought up claims about differences in the Bible and how this isn’t a problem with the Qur’an. On its face, I considered this a ridiculous claim. After all, any manuscript copied by hand from the ancient and medieval world will undergo some change. Still, I didn’t have a real source for that. That led me to searching for a book on the topic. (Yes. It is possible to go to a source for information besides Wikipedia.)

Keith Small’s book was the one I saw that looked like the one to get. After reading it, I think my prediction was correct. One interesting aspect is after reading it, you can’t tell where Small stands in a debate. Is he a Christian? Is he a Muslim? You don’t know. That’s how even-handed he is.

It doesn’t take long for the common Muslim claim to be put to rest. There are documents of the Qur’an all over the world in different museums that have differences in them. To be fair, a lot of what Small says is hard to understand without knowing the Arabic, which I do not know. What can be understood is that there are differences.

Small also points out that this was acknowledged by early Muslim scholars and Christian apologists responding to Islam would also mention some of the differences. Small doesn’t get into any of the possible theology behind this nor does he say anything about any possible ramifications for Islam. This would be a much more serious problem I think for Islam than for Christianity since the Qur’an is also said to be eternal if my understanding is correct.

Also, much of Christianity began with the written document first and then that document was handed down so the document became primary. The Qur’an was stated as a tradition many many times beforehand and then that tradition was handed down, but often it would have many of the changes, albeit minor, that came with oral tradition. We might not be able to speak about the original Qur’an. Instead, we could need to speak about original Qur’ans.

Interestingly, there are some major differences. Some saw the second Sura, the Cow, as it’s own book. Some copies don’t include some Suras. Some have extra Suras. While we can say that Muslims will point to Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11, Muslims have their own problems. Unfortunately, many of them will not realize this. Just as Christians have often not really interacted with the evidence of their position too many times, so it is that many Muslims have not done the same.

While I am a critic of Islam obviously, I do think that for the most part, it has likely been handed down fairly well much like any other ancient document, but there can be no support for the common myth of no variants whatsoever. Anyone wanting to study this issue should take advantage of Small’s book. It is sure to be a staple in this field for some time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters