Book Plunge: Roman Catholicism. Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us

What do I think of this multi-authored work published by Moody Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our story can begin from very different perspectives. We can look at Pope Boniface VIII who told us that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that the saved must be in submission to the Roman Pontiff. Later on, the Westminster Confession refers to the Pope with such great compliments as calling him the antichrist, Man of Sin, and Son of Perdition.

Can’t we all just get along?

Over time, we have indeed got along better. Still, we can wonder how this relationship works. How serious are our differences? Are the differences between a Protestant and a Catholic on the same level as those of a Methodist and a Baptist?

In this work, many evangelical Protestants state their opinion. Sometimes it can seem hard to get an overall idea. One side can seem to say we need to strive for unity. Another gets the impression that our differences are too radical and based on differences of the Gospel itself.

Many chapters deal with many different perspectives. I naturally found the chapters on history and such to be the most interesting. The chapter detailing conversions to Catholicism by people like Tom Howard and Scott Hahn were quite interesting. Sometimes, seeing people who I think should know better be concerned about supposed cracks in Protestantism, I just had to wonder. These seemed like pretty simple objections to me. It’s possible I’m missing something, but it’s also possible I’m not.

William Webster’s was the chapter I found the most appealing of all. This one involved a look at the doctrines historically, including how many of the church fathers interpreted a key passage like Matthew 16:18. Webster’s critique is one I think a Catholic should want to answer.

The question of unity is regularly raised. On the one hand, we want to be unified because there are opponents on the gate that want to get rid of both of us. On the other hand, shouldn’t a unity be built on truth? What if there are differences in how we see the Gospel? Do we brush those aside? Do both sides though want to return to a state where the other is the side of the devil?

There’s also concern over an increasing liberalism in Catholicism today, such that many other religions can be seen as being under salvation, and of course differences between the Council of Trent and Vatican II. While I have not heavily invested myself into these issues, they are quite concerning. I do know also that Pope Francis has been making a lot of waves.

So where do I stand from here? How about aiming for better-natured disagreements? I still cherish my Roman Catholic friends. I have no doubt many Roman Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ. I also don’t doubt that many are lost. The same I say about Baptists and Lutherans and Presbyterians and other denominations. I know many Catholics who I am convinced love Jesus more than I do and Thomas Aquinas is my favorite thinker outside the Bible.

But I do have things to think about. Can I discuss these with my Catholic friends? Absolutely. My main hope is that if we disagree, we will still part as that. Friends.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: An Outline of Orthodox Dogmatic Patristics

What do I think of Romanides’s work published by the Orthodox Research Institute? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A warning about this book. This one is deep. The average person will not understand it. If you want a book on Orthodoxy that is friendly to the average reader, this isn’t the one. This is not said in an insulting sense as such could be said about several Protestant and Catholic books. It’s just said because it’s true.

Yet going through, there was not much in theology that I had a problem with. It’s one reason I don’t understand it when people say they move to Catholicism or Orthodoxy because of the theology. The theology is still very much the same.

It’s when we get into more secondary issues that I start having problems as those secondary issues can often at times appear to be primary issues. This is something that makes this different from many other denominational issues. Orthodox and Catholics both set themselves up as the true church and everyone else is in some lesser position, although I have some reason to be concerned some Orthodox do see those on the outside as not even Christians.

Mainly, this happens when it comes to Scriptural interpretation. Romanides will tell us about a divine council that gives the interpretation of Scripture and one should not try to think they can interpret apart from that guidance. Unfortunately, no backing is given for this other than the assertion that this council comes from the apostles. How one can know this is unknown.

This is one of my problems when tradition is put on the same level as Scripture. Which tradition? How can we know? The Orthodox claim the wisdom of the apostles lies in this divine council. The Catholics claim it lies in the magisterium. Both of them claim this on the basis of tradition and both say the other is wrong on the basis of tradition. How could we choose which one?

What about a Protestant like myself? We go with the one source everyone agrees comes from the apostles, the Scripture. I don’t buy into any idea that I need this other group before I can understand the Scripture and I don’t accept such in Protestantism either. Anyone willing to do the work of study can have a good understanding of the text. Of course, this won’t be an infallible understanding, but it’s dangerous to really think one’s understanding cannot be wrong anyway.

This isn’t to say that I think the Orthodox are wrong on everything that is a secondary matter. Of course not. I am quite friendly to their idea of heaven and hell in the sense that God’s presence is a joy to believers and a torture to those who are not. I also am entirely open to the idea of the church not just being invisible but visible as well. I think that people should be able to look at us in all our traditions and see Jesus.

Again, while there are things I do like, when it comes to issues such as the treatment of Mary and the saints or the reliability of tradition, I am highly unpersuaded. In fairness, Romanides’s probably did not write this book for someone like myself but for those in the fold of Orthodoxy already. Still, if future reading doesn’t make better arguments, I will continue to be unconvinced and see such things as the traditions of men but not rooted in Christ or Scripture.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Sacred Beauty

What role does beauty play in our lives? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As an apologist, I have my own arguments for God’s existence. The ways of Thomas Aquinas work great to me. Despite that, there is one argument that I personally find extremely convincing. I do not think I use it in debate because it is a more intuitive argument than one that will hit the mind. I have used it on a friend dealing with doubt before.

That is beauty.

When you’re a single guy wanting to marry, you look around at the women in your world and think you’re beautiful. Then you marry and you realize that you were right. That woman that you have in your life is beautiful. My Princess is a sacred gift to me.

You see, I realize something that I didn’t really before. When a woman shares herself, she is sharing something sacred. I have exclusive rights to my wife that no other man does. My wife is a great treasure and no matter how many times I see her, it is still always new and amazing to me. I cannot even explain why it is that way. Before I was married, I did not understand why the human female form was so beautiful. I have now been married eight years and I still don’t really understand it. I just know that it is.

Sometimes, we will hear the horrendous lie that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It certainly is not. Beauty is real, and if we miss out on beauty being real, truth and goodness are not far behind. A drawing that a small child makes of a stick man will not be nearly as beautiful as the Mona Lisa.

And yet our world cheapens beauty. Sadly, many women do it themselves. They treat their bodies like common goods and give them away to anyone who meets minimal requirements. One of the best ways a woman tells how much she’s worth is by making a high price on her beauty, and that would be a lifelong covenant in marriage.

Pornography is a great way to devalue female beauty. I realize women watch porn and there is porn of men, but most of us, even most women, would agree that the woman is a whole lot more beautiful then the man is. I still look at my own body and wonder what the heck there is that my wife sees.

In the past, if a man wanted to see a naked woman and have sex, he had to be an honorable man and get married. That encouraged men to build up qualities that were fitting for a man to have. Not so today. Today, a man is encouraged to not be a man but really to be a user. If he wants to see a naked woman, he can just open up his browser and see one in seconds. If he wants to have sex with a woman, he could just go post on some internet site and have a hook-up that evening.

In doing this, we have lost the sacredness of beauty and sexuality. Sex is no longer a great good really in our society. It’s common. It’s just something people do together for fun. It’s not about building up a serious love commitment one has already made and that is exclusive and definitely not about having children one day.

We think our society knows a lot about beauty. Look at all the investment we have in make-up and supermodels and such. We don’t. We talk about it and display it and chase after it, but we don’t think about it. The same is true with sexuality. Our culture doesn’t think too much about sex. It thinks too little. It does everything else but think.

While we should think about it, one thing we can also do is live it out differently. Live our marriages like the other person is the most beautiful one in the world, because they are. Ladies. Hold out for the man who is worth it and guys, honor the women you are pursuing. Both sexes. Abandon any pornography now. Beauty and sex are sacred. Don’t put them on open display.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Part 24

Does agency prove a problem for materialism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this entry, we’re looking at what Glenton Jelbert has to say about what Angus Menuge says about the role of agency in science. What it is saying is any there any goal-oriented behavior in the sciences? If so, then this is a problem for materialism as who is behind these goals?

I actually also disagree with the take of Menuge, but that doesn’t mean that I agree with Jelbert. Menuge is quick to jump to the Intelligent Design community. At this point I want to remind Christians that it was possible to make empirical arguments for the existence of God based on the observance of nature before Intelligent Design ever became a thing.

I have a great concern that too many of us are putting all of our eggs into the Intelligent Design basket and if that basket ever falls, well what then? As a Christian, I do believe there is an intelligent designer, but that doesn’t mean that I uphold the ideology behind Intelligent Design. I think it rests way too much on modern science that could be subject to change.

Why not go back in the past and see how people argued for God then and see if that includes agency? Two ideas come to mind. It won’t be a shock to readers of my work that both of them come from Aquinas.

The first relies on two kinds of causes in Aristotelian-Thomistic thought. The first one is known as the efficient cause and the second as the instrumental cause. Suppose you are building a house. You are the efficient cause of that house. You are the one behind it making it. Now what do you use to make it? Tools, cement, wood, brick, etc. Those are the instrumental causes. That through which you make something is an instrumental cause.

The problem is instrumental causes do not act on their own. There is someone that is behind them or something that is behind them. To say an instrumental cause can be its own cause is like saying a paintbrush can paint the picture itself if the handle is really long. A secondary cause works with the help of a primary cause.

Another way for Aquinas would be the fifth way. This one can be readily misunderstood. Some people think it is Intelligent Design, but it is not. All you need is a connection between A and B. If an iceberg floats through water and makes water around it consistently colder, you have this at work.

Why does this consistently happen? Acorns become oak trees and not puppy dogs. If you pull the bow back to fire the arrow, the arrow does not fly backwards. Planets do not go chaotic in their orbits but maintain a consistent pattern. These patterns are so consistent we can measure them accurately and predict major events with pinpoint accuracy. When we had the solar eclipse last year, everyone knew when it would be.

Aquinas reasons that it is because an eternal mind has put this into nature. The argument is much deeper than this. I recommend the work of Edward Feser on this. If you can’t afford his book Aquinas then you can go to his blogspot and read up on it.

Again, I find Glenton’s work lacking. The case for theism is still there and even if I don’t agree with one approach, there is still another that works.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/28/2018: Brian Godawa

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

Around the year 70 A.D. an event happened that forever shaped the spread of Christianity. Before this, it had been seen as a sect of Judaism by some. Now, it could not be. The event was the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the city itself by the Romans. It’s also a tragedy that few Christians today seem to know anything about this event.

It also wasn’t just an instant of destruction, like dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. It was a long and drawn out event where the city would also be starved out. People would do anything to get some food to eat. This would often include cannibalism. To be specific, parents would often wind up eating their own children.

The Christians had already known about what was coming. They were ready when Rome showed up, not to fight, but to flee. They knew what Jesus was talking about in passages such as Matthew 24. Israel chose to fight Rome thinking that God would vindicate them in this hour much like other great miracles in their own past. Instead, as the Christians knew, this generation had rejected their Messiah and thus God had rejected them.

My guest has written the third in a series describing the events here. It is a work of historical fiction combining the rise of the beast and the destruction of the temple with the idea of Watchers as well from the Old Testament. It is a series with political intrigue and spiritual action as well. His name is Brian Godawa. So who is he?

According to his bio:

Brian Godawa is an award-winning Hollywood screenwriter (To End All Wars), a controversial movie and culture blogger (www.Godawa.com), an internationally known teacher on faith, worldviews and storytelling (Hollywood Worldviews), an Amazon best-selling author of Biblical fiction (Chronicles of the Nephilim), and provocative theology (God Against the gods). His obsession with God, movies and worldviews, results in theological storytelling that blows your mind while inspiring your soul. And he’s not exaggerating.

We’ll be talking about what it would mean to be a Christian in the time of Jerusalem putting up its resistance to Rome, especially since the book is called Resistant. We’ll discuss the conditions there and what that means to Christians today. We’ll discuss the way prophecy was seen by the people. We could look at how all the factions worked together and against each other including Qumran and Jerusalem and all the people involved there. It’s hard to believe, but even while the Romans were coming against the people of Jerusalem, the people of Jerusalem were still actively fighting against one another.

I hope you’ll be listening for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. We’re working on making the show better and better for you. It would also mean a lot to me if you would go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s always good to see how much you guys like the show and to hear what you would like to see done on the show and any possible guests you’d like to have on.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Journeys of Faith

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

Journeys of Faith is about prominent Christians going to a different faith tradition within the Christian community. Each one tells their story and then there is someone who gives a rejoinder followed by a response from the original writer. The four views presented are Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Evangelicalism, and Anglicanism.

In terms of debate style, I thought the most convincing essays were done by Francis Beckwith for Catholicism and Chris Castaldo for evangelicalism. I thought Wilbur Ellsworth glossed over many of the doctrines of Orthodoxy that I have a problem with. Lyle Dorsett for Anglicanism did give a great piece about it, but I just found it odd that Anglicanism was included and there wasn’t really much to argue with. Still, when talking about transformative stories, his is probably the most incredible.

As for responses, those often weren’t as good. I thought Gregg Allison responding to Catholicism and Brad S. Gregory responding to evangelicalism were both weak responses. Allison seemed to have a prepared statement for Catholicism. While I thought the information was good, it did not interact with Beckwith’s points well. I don’t think Allison even mentioned Beckwith by name once.

In Castaldo’s piece, he had talked about how a problem he had with Catholicism was shown by Peter Kreeft. Kreeft talked about students who come to Boston College. He asks them why they should get to go to Heaven someday. Most of them say something about how they are doing their best and trying to be a good person. He said nine out of ten of them don’t mention Jesus Christ at all. The lack of hearing the gospel is something Castaldo is concerned about.

Yet you get to Gregory’s reply and Castaldo is only mentioned once by name from what I recall. A point like this was not interacted with. If you are a Catholic writing a response to an evangelical, you want to hit at the areas of concern for evangelicals. Hearing the gospel is a big concern for evangelicals.

Instead, Gregory gave what seemed also like a prepared statement and went on about how you need an infallible interpreter. I find this an incredibly weak position since it treats the Scriptures like a postmodern document that no one can understand. Second, there is not given any reason why it has to be the Roman magisterium that is this interpreter. Why not Orthodoxy or Mormonism or the Watchtower? All of them claim to have the word from God on the Scriptures.

Fortunately, all the participants in the discussion did get along. There was no claiming that XYZ was a heretic or anything like that. This is a true discussion in ecumenicism. It is the way it should be done. We need to be able to come together and discuss our differences.

A format like this is also incredibly helpful because if you get a book on Catholicism or Orthodoxy or Evangelicalism or any other position, well, of course, it could sound convincing! It’s always convincing if you only get one side of the argument. A work like this gives you both sides of the argument. This is the kind of approach that is needed.

I encourage those looking into these questions to read material like this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Resistant

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

Brian Godawa has the next book in his series on the apocalypse with this one focusing on the start of the destruction of Jerusalem. He still has Apollyon and the Watchers at work behind the scenes battling the angels of God seeking to overthrow YHWH. Many of the characters from the earlier books are still there and we get to experience what is going on in their lives.

Honestly, the second book hadn’t seemed as exciting to me, but this one did bring it back. There is intrigue with watching things play out. I find it amazing to see that Brian has taken history and woven it well into a fictional narrative all the while striving to do justice to the history and I think succeeding as well.

He also takes several different themes and weaves them together. You have what’s going on at Qumran and what’s going on with the Watchers and everything else. Brian takes these all and puts them all together and the story fits well cohesively.

In it, you will also find wrestling with great moral issues. Is it ever proper to do the wrong thing because of what is seen as a necessary good? Why would judgment come that would affect children as well? If one repents of a wrong, should they not be redeemed from the suffering of that wrong?

This is all built around the start of the destruction of Jerusalem which is an event that people need to know more about. Very few Christians really know what happened to the temple that was there at the time of Jesus. They don’t know about what a destruction it was for the people involved. They don’t know about cannibalism taking place and political intrigue and even in-fighting among the Jews themselves. Yes. Even while their country and holy city were being destroyed, the Jews were still fighting among themselves.

If there was something I would like more looking at it, it is honor and shame in the Biblical world since so many of the characters seem to be introspective and not as much is said about honor in the Biblical sense. I think this would take this excellent series and make it even better.

Also, if you are someone like me who is skeptical of the idea of Watchers and things of that sort, that doesn’t detract from the novel. I am not convinced, but I can have a sort of suspended disbelief and be intrigued by what the villain Apollyon is doing and enjoy seeing the references to other gods and such as one who grew up enjoying Greek mythology in particular.

Christians need to have a better understanding of Biblical prophecy in relation to the “end-times” and this book series is an excellent way to bring it about. I find the story to be gripping so that I stayed up a little bit later than normal last night working to finish it and see what happened. I highly recommend it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Orthodox Way

What do I think of Bishop Kallistos Ware’s book published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife has been looking into the Eastern Orthodox Church. While at the church once, I asked the priest if he had any book in the church library he would recommend to help me understand Eastern Orthodoxy. He recommended I get The Orthodox Way by Kallistos Ware.

So I went and got it. I came home and went through it over the next few days. I have to say in many ways I was….disappointed. I was expecting to find a lot that set apart the Orthodox as unique in comparison to Protestants and Catholics. I really didn’t. I found a whole lot of theology, but it was theology I could say for the most part I agreed with.

Something that I think honestly happens with many people, not all but many, is they move from a Protestantism that is shallow and find an Orthodoxy that is deeper, without realizing that much of the theology is still a theology that is common to all traditions. It is rooted in Scripture and in natural theology. For me, at a book study with men of the Orthodox Church Wednesday night, I found myself talking about how with most people, I will keep my talk simple about God, but when I’m with my theological friends, I will talk about simplicity, impassibility, and the hypostatic union. I don’t think many there knew what I was talking about either. One said so explicitly and no one disagreed. Could it be the problem is more how deep someone is willing to go and this is a problem in all traditions? If we acknowledge it’s the same God in all traditions, no one can really lay claim to a deeper theology.

I had hoped to find more on history and how the Orthodox came to be, but that was lacking. Like I said, most of the theology I found no problem with. Some things I would have phrased differently. Ware does rely on the Fathers a lot more than I would as well.

I would have also liked to have seen more on some of my bigger contentions. I have a problem with the way that I see Mary and the saints treated in most non-Protestant traditions. I’m convinced the best way to honor the saints is not to pray to them, but to learn from their lives and seek to live like them as they live like Christ. I honestly think Mary would be aghast at the way she’s treated today. She would say that she’s just a servant and doesn’t deserve this kind of attention.

I also would like if we talk about the traditions to see the historical basis for them. When did they first show up? On what Scripture are they based? If I refuse to accept hadiths about Muhammad that come from 200 years later and even have names behind them, am I not inconsistent if I treat Christian traditions different?

Yet there were some points I did disagree with. On p. 46, Ware says that we as Christians affirm panentheism. He says God is in all things yet above and beyond all things. I understand what Ware is trying to say, but I would not say panentheism because that’s a different animal where often the world is seen as God’s body and God needs the world in some sense. God is in all things in the sense that He’s the sustaining cause of all things and all things are held together by His power (See passages like Hebrews 1:3 for example.), but He is not dependent on the world in any sense. I realize Ware would likely not disagree with that, but I think his phrasing here is quite bad.

On p. 110 he speaks about the Bible. He says that the Orthodox appreciate all the research and study into the Bible, such as redaction criticism and things of that sort, but we cannot accept it wholesale. Who does? Especially since scholars of all persuasions disagree.

Ware here deals with the idea of just a private reading of the Bible. To an extent, we would all discourage this. Even the Reformers wanted Scriptural interpretation to stay within the rule of faith. Sola Scriptura is often confused with Solo Scriptura. The Reformers did not oppose tradition as tradition. Tradition is not a bad thing, but tradition needs to be checked by Scripture.

An example can be the authorship of the Gospels. Some Catholics I have seen say that the names aren’t on the Gospels so you have to get that from tradition which means Sola Scriptura isn’t true. Let’s grant the premise for the sake of argument that the originals didn’t have names on them, although some scholars have questioned this. The difference is we do have these Gospels and we know someone or some people wrote them. We can freely accept the opinions of the church fathers and compare it with internal evidence for authorship. In other words, we have something that already needs to be explained. We didn’t make up the Gospels out of thin air.

Ware then goes on to say that the final criterion for Biblical interpretation is the mind of the church. Here, we run into a problem. I could just ask “By what criteria is the mind of the church the authority?” After all, Catholics would say you need the magisterium. Both groups claim you need someone or something outside of the Bible like that to help you understand the Bible, but upon what grounds is that someone or something chosen that is not question-begging? Both of them claim apostolic succession after all.

As a Protestant, I respond that the Bible is written in a way that much of it can be readily understood. Some is difficult and requires work, but to say that you can’t interpret it strikes me as incredibly postmodern, as if the words themselves don’t contain meaning that we can understand. Much of what I know about Biblical interpretation did not originate with these groups either, such as ideas about Genesis from John Walton or the honor-shame perspective of the Context Group of scholarship.

This is not to say I have a problem with going to the Fathers to understand the Bible. I don’t. Their words are important, but they are not infallible. For instance, I have at my house A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs. Recently, I had a discussion with someone asking if abortion was known in the ancient world. I said it was pointing to the Hippocratic Oath. I then decided to see what the church fathers said about sexuality and in the book looked up the section. The church fathers seemed to speak consistently that sex was seen as practically a necessary evil and to be used only for the purpose of procreation.

I find it unlikely that most devout Orthodox and Catholics would agree with this. Even Catholics have Natural Family Planning for families that want to avoid contraception, but want to avoid having children for whatever reason and still enjoy the gift of sex. I have also been told that the Fathers are premillennial as well, yet I am not that at all with an Orthodox Preterist interpretation.

I have no problem with saying that our reading should seek to get us to Christ and this is a danger of historical study at times that one can get to that position of proving something happened without showing why it happened. C.S. Lewis said years ago that some theologians work so hard to show that God exists that it would seem like He has nothing better to do than to exist.

In the end, I was wondering what about this was so much the Orthodox Way. Much of it could have just been called the Christian Way since much of the theology as I said I have no problem with. I have a problem with shallow thinking no matter what the tradition is. I think a lot of people can find a new tradition and think they’ve found something totally new lacking in their original tradition, without pausing to see if such a thing exists in their tradition. I have no problem with things like liturgy and such. I do have a problem when I see doctrines that I can’t find in Scripture and I have no way of verifying a tradition.

My research continues hoping to find more historical. I encourage people in whatever tradition they are in to go deeper. We met with a Catholic priest once on this journey who told my wife she will find what she is seeking if she just goes deeper in Jesus. With that, I think all three traditions of Christianity would agree. All of us need to go deeper in Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/14/2018: Abdu Murray

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

If we went back a few decades, we would find many debates still, though not as common likely, and all of those debates would still have each side thinking there is an objective truth and it is worth knowing even if we can’t know it for whatever reason. Today, it’s not the same. We live in a world where truth is seen as just a matter of personal opinion. Feelings determine what you believe more and more.

Go on social media and you will often see people sharing stories. These stories are not even checked for accuracy. Many of them have been hoaxes. Some of our government officials have even shared such stories before thinking that they were true. People have had to ask if the Onion or the Babylon Bee can be fact-checked.

This has also come over into the realm of sexuality. Sex has been reduced to something that is more feeling-oriented instead of having a real purpose in society. We have reached the stage where people think they can mutilate their bodies and do whatever to them to match the true identity that they feel.

I don’t know how many times I have seen the story of a person who is married with kids and then leaves it all and proclaims himself a homosexual. Stories suddenly come about saying that this person has found their true self. It’s strange that those stories never work in the reverse when a person goes from homosexuality to heterosexuality.

How do we handle this? To discuss this, I’m having on Abdu Murray. He has written a book recently called Saving Truth. He will be my guest as we discuss it and what can be done to restore the concept of truth.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Abdu is the North American Director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and is the author of three books, including his latest book, the bestseller, Saving Truth – Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth World.  For most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim who studied the Qur’an and Islam.  After a nine year investigation into the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions and views, Abdu discovered that the historic Christian faith alone can answer the questions of the mind and the longings of the heart.

Abdu has spoken to diverse international audiences and has participated in debates and dialogues across the globe.  He has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and televisions programs all over the world and hosts the podcast Embrace The Truth with Abdu Murray.

Abdu holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School.  As an attorney, Abdu was named several times in Best Lawyers in America and Michigan Super Lawyer.  Abdu is the Scholar in Residence of Christian Thought and Apologetics at the Josh McDowell Institute of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.  

Abdu lives in the Detroit, Michigan area with his wife and their three children.

I hope you’ll be listening for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Please also consider going on iTunes and leaving a positive review. I really enjoy seeing them! Thanks for being fans of the Deeper Waters Podcast!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sharing The Good News With Mormons

What do I think of Eric Johnson and Sean McDowell’s book published by Harvest House? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are many books about Mormonism that explain the problems with the historicity and the theology. There are not many books that explain something simple. How to share the information that you do have. What is the right approach? Do you have Mormons in and beat them down with facts about the Book of Mormon? Do you just sit around and lead a good life and hope that the Mormon will ask you the questions? Both of these approaches have problems. The first can create atheists and agnostics more often. The second puts you in a position of hoping the Mormons will see you as different and then hoping they’ll ask and then hoping they’ll listen.

Johnson and McDowell want to give other approaches. They have a large number of them and these aren’t even all the approaches that they are. This is just meant to be a good start in helping you find innovative ways of communicating the good news of Jesus with Mormons.

The book also starts with sections on the existence of God and Biblical reliability. Why have that in a book about Mormons? Don’t they agree to both of those? Many would, but many are using arguments from the new atheists and many Mormons have been told that if the church is not true, then nothing is, and they leave Mormonism and go to atheism or agnosticism. This gives them a fallback position.

From there, we look at a number of ways of communicating. Some will work for you. Some won’t. You could start a chapter and say, “This isn’t for me.” That’s okay. Just go to the next one and see if you think you could do that. For example, open-air evangelism is one technique. This is essentially street preaching done right. This would not work for me because I am terrible at initiating conversations like that and there aren’t enough Mormons in my area to find a place to do this. If you are an outgoing person who lives in an area like Nauvoo or Salt Lake City, you could be in a different situation. However, I am skilled at internet evangelism and I can totally do that route.

There are also other interesting ways to approach Mormons. One suggestion is to print out something like a brochure or newspaper and hand them out for free. These can be kept at someone’s home and they can investigate claims on their own then. Amusingly, when this was done outside of a temple, temple authorities would try to seize the papers which made people only want them more. That practice didn’t last long.

Johnson contributes to a chapter where he hands out free copies of The Miracle of Forgiveness to Mormons in Utah. This is a book by later president of the Mormon Church Spencer Kimball. The message of the book really could be that if it is true, it would be a miracle if anyone was ever forgiven. It helps illustrate the impossible gospel of Mormonism.

Another technique involves holding up a sign with a website on it for Mormons. Note that if you do this, make sure you have such a website and that it has content to it that is helpful. One example of such a website was called Josephlied.com. This has a provocative name also that will stick in someone’s mind.

In my interview with Johnson, he talked also about other techniques that didn’t make it but were effective for such people, such as a guy who set up a ping-pong table and talked to Mormons who came by to play during the game. Another involved someone who drew pictures of the temple and used those to communicate. The main message is do what you are good at and what can spread the gospel without being immoral.

This is a great book to have for conversations with Mormons. We could go with a Greg Koukl reference and call it Tactics for Reaching Mormons. If you have the knowledge, you have one piece of the puzzle. Now you can get the delivery system.

In Christ,
Nick Peters