Deeper Waters Podcast 2/4/2017: John Granger

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

Harry Potter has been called the boy who lived. His books came to America here in 1998 and the first movie came out in 2001. Since then, all of the books were best sellers and all of the movies were hits, the final book even having to be divided into two movies. He was either loved or hated, but Harry was the talk of the town.

That was, of course, several years ago. The craze then was Pottermania, and surely that was it. Harry Potter was fun for awhile, but then, like so many other fun things, the time comes to move on. His fame lasted for a time and it was no more and will be no more.

But the boy who lived still lived.

Last year, the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them came out as well as a book continuing the series twenty years in the future called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Based on sales, one would think that Pottermania had never died. The book was a bestseller and the movie was a box office hit. (I must confess, I have not seen the movie, but I did get the book for my birthday and read it in a couple of days.)

What’s the Christian apologetics community to do with this? Is this harmless fun? Is it actually a satanic plot that will get our children to fall into the clutches of satanism? Or could it actually be a story that is surprisingly Christian at the core? My guest, someone well read in the classics, goes with the last option. His name is John Granger. Who is he?

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Tagged “The Dean of Harry Potter Scholars” by TIME magazine’s Lev Grossman, John Granger has been the leading expert on the subject of the artistry and meaning of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels since the publication of his first book on the subject in 2002. The author or editor of eight books, ‘The Hogwarts Professor’ has been a Keynote and Featured Speaker at more than twenty academic and fan conferences, and spoken at twenty-five major universities and colleges. John has a Bachelor’s degree in Classics from the University of Chicago, a Master of Fine Arts ion Creative Writing, and is working on his PhD thesis at Swansea University (Wales). He blogs at HogwartsProfessor.com and podcasts at MuggleNet Academia.

What is it that has led Harry Potter to be such a phenomenon such that even years after the original series, the theaters and bookstores are filled with fans again wanting to see the latest on the boy wizard? What is it that actually makes Granger think that these are Christian classics? Are these not stories of witchcraft and wizardry which would be condemned by Scripture? Are there not many examples in the stories of Harry misbehaving in ways that we should not accept as Christians?

We’ll be discussing all of this and more so if you’re a fan of Harry, or you know someone who is, this will be a show for you. Please be looking for the latest episode. Also, please consider going on ITunes and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What I’m Learning From Final Fantasy XV

How can fantasy shape our approach to reality? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been a Final Fantasy fan from the very beginning. For those who don’t know, Final Fantasy is a highly popular RPG (Role-playing game) series that started with Nintendo and now has moved over to the Sony Playstation. It was called Final Fantasy because the company that made it, SquareSoft, was sure that that would be their last game so they just gave it all they had. It became so popular that it granted them a new life and now more and more sequels have been made.

Recently, The fifteenth main game, Final Fantasy XV, came out. I got a copy of it from my parents for Christmas. I have been going through it and quite enjoying it and Allie often sits with me and watches me play. We both keep remarking about how realistic everything looks. Of course, one knows that the fantasy creatures and such aren’t real, but everything does have a great look of realism to it. The description of the game is as follows on Amazon so I can avoid spoilers.

Get ready to be at the centre of the ultimate fantasy adventure. Enter the world of FINAL FANTASY XV, and experience epic action-packed battles along your journey of discovery. You are Noctis, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Lucis, and your quest is to reclaim your homeland from the clutches of the imperial army. Joined by your closest friends, you will take the wheel and experience a voyage like no other, travelling through the breath-taking world of Eos encountering larger-than-life beasts and unforgiving enemies. You will learn to master the skills of weaponry and magic, channelling the power of your ancestors allowing you to effortlessly warp through the air in thrilling combat. Fresh faces and long-time fans, fulfil your destiny and experience a brand new kind of fantasy.

The realism can also be seen with the theme of the game being by Florence and the Machine. It’s a rendition of the old song Stand By Me. The opening scene in fact involves the characters pushing a car they drive in throughout the game down the road because it has run out of gas. Most quests have involved walking or airships or something of the sort. Driving a car makes it all the more realistic still. Those interested in seeing scenes of the realism can see this video with the song in it.

Okay. But this is an apologetics blog. It’s not a blog about video games. Why on Earth am I spending time posting about Final Fantasy XV?

It’s because I believe fantasy is meant to make us approach reality with new eyes. The realism aspect is something I greatly appreciate. When you walk through a restaurant area, you actually overhear the people talking making comments you would hear at a restaurant. When you drive down the road, there are other drivers that you encounter. One early sidequest (A minor quest you can do in the story but not essential to the main story) where you have to catch a fish for a cat and then the cat won’t eat it until it’s properly cooked. As a cat owner, yes, this does describe a cat well. It’s also fitting because of the rule gamers know about sidequests.

cat-sidequest

The story also involves you, Prince Noctis, traveling with three friends who seem to be both bodyguards and friends. These guys talk like regular guys. When you’re out in the wild wandering around, you hear side chatter. When you get done with a battle, you hear chatter. When you go set up camp, you hear the same. It’s just guys being guys many times.

How does that realism make me look at reality differently? Because I try often to see my own life as an adventure. God has placed me in this world to do something and I want to strive to be the best at what I do. At the same time, while we don’t have giant creatures wandering around, we could all relate to the idea of hostile powers that be. Some of us will point to political threats. Some will point to moral threats. Some will point to spiritual threats. We all have some people we think wear white hats and some who are not on the side of the angels and some who are pretty much neutral.

So I picture not the heroes in this world, but the ordinary people I’m encountering. Here you have one empire declaring war suddenly on another and what are people doing? They talk about it some, to be sure, but how many are really doing something? Only a slight few, your party being the main ones that are doing something.

I go out into the world then after that. I see people going about their lives. I think we can all agree that the world isn’t the way it should be. What are these people doing? Do they really see the greater battles taking place? If so, do they care? If they care, are they doing anything? If not, why? Do they think that they being who they are, probably seeing themselves as simple ordinary folk, just cannot do anything significant?

I wonder about these people. How would God like to use them in the story? I think about my own life. My wife and I met across a great distance and our age is nearly ten years apart. What role are we to play together? Among men, my closest friend lives all the way in Missouri and was my roommate for awhile before Allie and I married. What role does he play and what role does our friendship play? The internet makes this all the more real. With Facebook, I have several friends I have never met. How are we all to interact together? None of us can do everything, but can’t we all do something? Even if we are all weak individually, can’t we join forces together?

As I drive in my own car, I think of the world that I see driving. There are billboards and tall buildings and such. I drive through Atlanta and I see the city and wonder “What is the adventure that is waiting for me here?” I can see the evil all around me in the world and think “Am I going to sit by and do nothing or am I at least going to try?”

This also brings me to the idea of improving over time. At the start of any Final Fantasy, your characters are weak, and this one is no exception. While gaining experience has been a staple of Final Fantasy games, this one also has improvement in skill. Each of the main characters has a skill that you improve on over time. Those are fishing, cooking, survival, and photography. The lesson is simple. Start off where you are and you get better over time. Isn’t that what we should all do? There’s no other place you can start at other than where you are.

Noctis’s adventure is fantasy, but what about mine and yours? We live in a world where there is warfare going on. The warfare is the Kingdom of God versus the Kingdom of the devil. It can be tempted to see the giant airships of the enemy flying overhead and think “I can’t do anything about it. Might as well go about my day to day life.” Maybe we can do something. It could be a small something in your eyes, but God can take a small something and use it for a great something.

My goal then is to take the fantasy and look at reality differently. My life is a gift and adventure, and I hope to use the abilities I have, that I will improve in more and more and have as time has gone by, to face the forces out there that are in opposition to the Kingdom of God. How about you? Will you join me? Will you stand by me? Can we do more if we stand together?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Book Plunge: How Harry Cast His Spell

What do I think of John Granger’s book published by Tyndale Momentum? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last August, I went back to my hometown with my wife to visit my parents due to an illness of a friend who was dying. It was a month before my birthday and my parents asked me what I wanted. The first thing I thought of was the new Harry Potter book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. They got it for me early and I already had it read in a couple of days. I just could not put that one down. Just recently, we have also had the release of the movie based on the series, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. It’s been years since the last official Harry Potter book and movie, but let’s face it, Pottermania isn’t dead. Not only is it not dead, it’s alive not only among children but adults who love the series.

Why? Why are the adventures of the boy wizard so popular? What is it about them? How did Harry Potter enchant the world?

Enter John Granger to explain this. John Granger is known as Hogwart’s Professor. Rumor has it he’s the third cousin of Hermoine twice removed. He’s an unlikely figure to write on this seeing as being an expert in classics, when his daughter was given a copy of the first book, he read it first so he could explain to his daughter why garbage like that should not be read. Turns out he went and bought the next books that were out the next day and now he’s a leading spokesman on all things Harry Potter.

More than that, Granger is a devout Christian and is convinced that the Potter novels are woven in Christian imagery much like Lewis and Tolkien are. A lot of it comes with the symbolism of alchemy. This isn’t to justify the science of alchemy, but a way of pointing out that alchemy was seen as a way of achieving purification and holiness in the Middle Ages.

The books, Granger argues, answer the questions of our age and answer them in very Christian ways. The books are loaded with Christological imagery and no, the main power in the books is not magic. The main power in the books is love. Love has the power to overcome the darkest of all magics, even the magic of Lord Voldemort. Lord Voldemort is seen as the great tragic character because all his power comes from wanting to avoid death, even if that means murdering his own soul, instead of realizing as Dumbledore points out, that there are worse things in this world than death.

If you’re wanting to know about Christ imagery, consider that the first book was not said to have the Sorcerer’s Stone, but the Philosopher’s Stone. The Philosopher’s stone was an item sought in the past that was said to grant immortality, like Christ. Other Christ imagery includes hippogriffs, stags, unicorns, and phoenixes.

Is Harry a Christ figure? Not usually. More often than not, he represents everyman, which is why we can so often see ourselves in him. It’s also why we can accept the fact that many times Harry screws up. He’s a fallen man like we all are, but something in Harry consistently chooses to believe the right things and want to do the right things. You can see in the novels the way Harry will often mature from the start of the novel to the end of the novel.

Granger starts out the book with an introduction to his main thesis in several chapter. Then, he takes you through the books themselves and points out the symbolism and Christian lessons all throughout. To top it off, he ends it with an FAQ section of the questions he gets asked the most. (Want to know about Dumbledore being gay? Go look here.)

If Granger is right, and I think he is, this is a great time for Christians to be speaking of this imagery. Running from it could have the exact opposite effect. Granger’s book, even if you don’t agree with him, is certainly food for thought and should be considered by the fan and critic of Harry Potter alike.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

AWA 2016

What were some observations I made at AWA 2016? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last weekend, I was with my wife Allie at Anime Weekend Atlanta. Anime for those who don’t know is a style of Japanese cartoon, usually based on their form of comic books called Manga. At these conventions, you’ll find many people of all ages. Many of them are dressed in costumes as their favorite characters called Cosplay.

A lot of the Christian world looks down on this form of entertainment. To be sure, not all of it is good. There are pornographic animes and ones with heavy occult themes. That’s the same with our cartoons over here. I am not going to say everything in the anime world is good, but I am not going to say it’s all evil either.

What I will say is that there are plenty of people in this world who don’t care about the occult or anything like that, but just like to enjoy a good story of good vs evil and other such material. Since my wife likes it so much, we will often sit on the couch and pull up YouTube on the TV and watch an episode together. I prefer usually one episode at a time of a series. I really don’t care for binge watching.

I’m also thankful that there are Christians in the field. You can find an excellent interview with voice actor Vic Mignogna on this. (Incidentally, Allie and I enjoyed meeting him this week and I also enjoyed meeting Johnny Yong Bosch, the second black power ranger in the series and yes, he did say for me “It’s morphin time!”) Vic points out what it’s been like interacting with people at these conventions and he’ll even have worship services there. He also has defended them before street preachers, which you can see here.

There are of course non-Christians. One actor at an event told about getting started in the acting field by doing a job where they played as a gypsy giving fake readings at a business meeting for fun. Later on, she talks about getting into Tarot Cards and giving readings and about thanking the universe and how your thoughts attract things to you. I was trying to be respectful, but it sure was difficult sitting there hearing this and Allie and I just looked at each other and we knew what each other was thinking. If I could have asked something it would have been “What were the Jews thinking about that led to the holocaust?” Of course, I didn’t. I still admire their work, but not their worldview.

Something else revealing was a panel that we went to called Ask An Anime Character. There’s a screen upfront and listed on it are fifteen anime characters. Their voice actors are off to the side and you get to ask them questions and then they’ll be a lot of interaction after that. It’s quite humorous, but there was something that happened that showed me what was going on.

A lot of people, notably women, would ask a question like “Would you go to prom with me?” or “Would you tell me I’m beautiful?” or “Could you call me your Princess today?” I told Allie that I thought it was awfully sad, but at the same time I wonder if these girls are asking for this because they have been rejected by so many. They just want someone to publicly tell them they’re beautiful.

That’s something you see at these conventions. A lot of people are there who to others are rejected and not accepted. At an anime convention, they’re more free to be themselves. My own wife even was happier at the convention. I wonder why these people don’t feel as free and safe in a church? Now of course, the church should be a place where people who are living sinful lives won’t be coddled, but look at Jesus. How many times were sinners afraid to come to Him? He never coddled them either. He never said sin was no big deal. He spoke the strongest words against it of all, but He had the greatest love for the sinners. If Jesus visited AWA (And people knew it was Him and not a cosplay) would they be scared of Him or would they actually want to be around Him?

It’s my sincere hope the church will find ways to interact with people everywhere. If Paul can go to Mars Hill, can’t we reach people here? We should also celebrate Christians in the field and hope that they can reach many more people. People at these conventions are people who also need Jesus after all. Who will bring Him to them?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is Abortion A Religious Issue?

Is abortion an issue that is religious? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Like a lot of you, last night I watched the Vice-Presidential debate. As we got to the end, I wished I could have jumped in and batted for Pence, especially when abortion came up. I certainly would have loved to have seen a Francis Beckwith or Scott Klusendorf up on the stage. I think Pence did great there, but he could have gone in for the jugular a number of times.

After the debate, a mutual friend of Allie and myself was surprised to see me say on Facebook that the issue should not stay with religion but should go with metaphysics and science. She was surprised because Allie and I are so religious. This is a good issue to talk about. Does my bringing up another area show that I am not religious? Am I wrong to move to a different territory?

Keep in mind that in all of this, I plan to also cite the debate from last night. The transcript I am going with is here.

So let’s start. Now there is no one specific Bible verse on abortion to be sure, but there are passages that indicate that one should not take innocent human life. It’s hard to get more innocent than a child in the womb. This is why the early church also took the response they did to abortion. They sought to end it and in fact were pro-life everywhere else. They rescued baby girls that had been abandoned that would either be eaten by animals or taken by men and raised in the sex industry of the past.

Also, I want to say that the Bible does not present statements of morality as if they were new. There is no reason to think that Moses got the Ten Commandments and everyone said “Whoa! We gotta stop this murder thing!” Murder was known to be wrong by Cain when he murdered his brother. Moses himself hid after killing an Egyptian. Judah knew about adultery as well having done it with his daughter-in-law and Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife because of his moral stance on adultery.

The same happens with history. Why does the Bible say that Jesus was crucified. It says it not so it did happen, but because it happened. The writing of the crucifixion is not the cause of the crucifixion. The happening of the crucifixion is the cause of the writing. They wrote it down because it happened. The same with the resurrection I’d say as well. That’s a historical fact.

Now is there anything that history can’t ascertain about this? Yes. History cannot tell you that Jesus died so that man could be right with God and God’s Kingdom could come on Earth. It can tell you that that’s why Jesus and others believed He died, but the answer to the question is ultimately more theology than history. Of course, if Jesus didn’t die and rise, then all the theology won’t change that.

So do we have extra information with abortion? We do. We have the science of what goes on in the womb when the sperm and the egg unite. We can map out the whole process and for those wanting that, there are plenty of good books pro and con on abortion that can tell you that. We also have metaphysical arguments for what life is and why it’s good and sacred. These help build up the case against abortion.

It’s also important to point out that if your position is said to be religious, then that often gives it an automatic bias in the eyes of people as something they don’t need to take seriously. If science shows life begins at conception, that has implications for religion, but the position itself is not religious. It’s just a matter of fact.

Often when an idea is given and the person is said to be religious, the arguments for their position is discounted. However, arguments don’t have a religion. People do. Arguments stand or fall with the data and not the biases of the person that is held. For more on this, I recommend listening to my interview with Francis Beckwith on his book Taking Rites Seriously.

Now let’s look at some of what was said last night. Let’s start with the question itself. The moderator Elaine Quijano said the following.

All right. I’d like to turn to our next segment now. And in this, I’d like to focus on social issues. You have both been open about the role that faith has played in your lives. Can you discuss in detail a time when you struggled to balance your personal faith and a public policy position? Senator Kaine?

Of course, we have the opposition set in play right off. The idea is that faith must not be allowed in the public square at all. Unfortunately, that means that those who fear a theocracy (And if anyone can find these Christians pushing a theocracy, please tell them to stop. I’ve been told about this belief many times, but I know of very few Christians who have such plans.) in turn want to create a system where secularism is the religion of the state and no other claimants are allowed.

Now let’s start to look at Kaine’s answer.

Yeah, that’s an easy one for me, Elaine. It’s an easy one. I’m really fortunate. I grew up in a wonderful household with great Irish Catholic parents. My mom and dad are sitting right here. I was educated by Jesuits at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City. My 40th reunion is in 10 days.

And I worked with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, now nearly 35 years ago, and they were the heroes of my life. I try to practice my religion in a very devout way and follow the teachings of my church in my own personal life. But I don’t believe in this nation, a First Amendment nation, where we don’t raise any religion over the other, and we allow people to worship as they please, that the doctrines of any one religion should be mandated for everyone.

The question is if there is any religious doctrine being pressed? Is Kaine thinking that he is advocating that people be required to uphold the perpetual virginity of Mary? Is it being debated in his state Senate what the nature of the Eucharist is? If so, then why think the doctrines of a religion are being mandated? This is just an implicit assumption that a doctrine a religion holds cannot be based on any independent facts that only the people of that religion hold.

For me, the hardest struggle in my faith life was the Catholic Church is against the death penalty and so am I. But I was governor of a state, and the state law said that there was a death penalty for crimes if the jury determined them to be heinous. And so I had to grapple with that.

When I was running for governor, I was attacked pretty strongly because of my position on the death penalty. But I looked the voters of Virginia in the eye and said, look, this is my religion. I’m not going to change my religious practice to get one vote, but I know how to take an oath and uphold the law. And if you elect me, I will uphold the law.

And I was elected, and I did. It was very, very difficult to allow executions to go forward, but in circumstances where I didn’t feel like there was a case for clemency, I told Virginia voters I would uphold the law, and I did.

That was a real struggle. But I think it is really, really important that those of us who have deep faith lives don’t feel that we could just substitute our own views for everybody else in society, regardless of their views.

What I would want to know at this point is why Kaine is against the death penalty. Now if he says it could put an innocent life to death, then I have my own questions. (One large one is why is it that it is wrong for us to determine that a criminal should die, but it’s our moral right to determine that a baby in the womb should die whose only crime is existing?) Does Kaine hold his position just because his religion says so, or does he believe his religion is telling the truth about reality. If it isn’t, why should anyone, including him, believe it? If it is, why should he be willing to go against it at all? Does he fear the judgment of men more than God?

Now Pence was given the same question.

Well, it’s a wonderful question. And my Christian faith is at the very heart of who I am. I was also raised in a wonderful family of faith. It was a church on Sunday morning and grace before dinner.

But my Christian faith became real for me when I made a personal decision for Christ when I was a freshman in college. And I’ve tried to live that out however imperfectly every day of my life since. And with my wife at my side, we’ve followed a calling into public service, where we’ve — we’ve tried to — we’ve tried to keep faith with the values that we cherish.

And with regard to when I struggle, I appreciate, and — and — and — I have a great deal of respect for Senator Kaine’s sincere faith. I truly do.

But for me, I would tell you that for me the sanctity of life proceeds out of the belief that — that ancient principle that — where God says before you were formed in the womb, I knew you, and so for my first time in public life, I sought to stand with great compassion for the sanctity of life.

I think Pence did good here, but I think he could have gone better. For us, the Bible is authoritative, but if he’s talking to Kaine about the law of the land, he will want to base that on what everyone can more easily determine. Kaine has already said he won’t let his faith dictate the law, so why not point elsewhere? Instead of the Bible, he could say “I am firmly persuaded by all the evidence we have today that life begins at conception. That is also in line with my Christian principles on the sanctity of life. Senator Kaine. When do you think life begins?”

That would have answered the question and then put Kaine on the defensive. By his own personal views, he thinks life begins at conception. By his political views, he thinks we should allow people the freedom to end that life. For now, let’s go back to Pence.

The state of Indiana has also sought to make sure that we expand alternatives in health care counseling for women, non-abortion alternatives. I’m also very pleased at the fact we’re well on our way in Indiana to becoming the most pro-adoption state in America. I think if you’re going to be pro-life, you should — you should be pro- adoption.

This is a home run for Pence. He not only provided the side that says “no abortion.” He also strongly advocated what the alternative looks like. If his state is on the way to becoming the most pro-adoption state, then this only backs his case all the more and it shows that he can hold a position of faith and live it consistently. Kaine has shown he cannot do that already.

But what I can’t understand is with Hillary Clinton and now Senator Kaine at her side is to support a practice like partial-birth abortion. I mean, to hold to the view — and I know Senator Kaine, you hold pro-life views personally — but the very idea that a child that is almost born into the world could still have their life taken from them is just anathema to me.

Another excellent reply. Pence gave a statement that really should have put Kaine on the defensive. It would have been nice to have seen him give some sort of reply to this one.

And I cannot — I can’t conscience about — about a party that supports that. Or that — I know you’ve historically opposed taxpayer funding of abortion. But Hillary Clinton wants to — wants to repeal the longstanding provision in the law where we said we wouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion.

So for me, my faith informs my life. I try and spend a little time on my knees every day. But it all for me begins with cherishing the dignity, the worth, the value of every human life.

In fact, this is one of my biggest problems with the Democratic party. They are consistently pro-abortion. It’s amazing that this is one of the sacred cows of the party. Pence has the moral high ground here. What does Kaine say?

Elaine, this is a fundamental question, a fundamental question. Hillary and I are both people out of religious backgrounds, from Methodist church experience, which was really formative for her as a public servant.

But we really feel like you should live fully and with enthusiasm the commands of your faith. But it is not the role of the public servant to mandate that for everybody else.

Unfortuantely, as public servants, they will mandate something for everyone. Someone’s worldview will be pushed. Why not a true one? If it is true that life does not begin at conception and abortion doesn’t put to death an innocent human life, then what’s the big deal? If it is true, then it is a huge deal.

So let’s talk about abortion and choice. Let’s talk about them. We support Roe v. Wade. We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience, their own supportive partner, their own minister, but then make their own decision about pregnancy. That’s something we trust American women to do that.

And we don’t think that women should be punished, as Donald Trump said they should, for making the decision to have an abortion.

Of course, we can’t declare a new law and then make past occurrences of it a crime. That would be ridiculous, but I would want to ask this.

Senator Kaine. Do we punish a woman who kills intentionally her newborn baby?

How about her toddler?

How about her child who’s pre-teen?

How about her teenager?

If we do in all of those cases, what makes the child in the womb so different? If he says “That’s not a human life” then we ask if that can be established. If he says it is a human life but his faith can’t dictate, then we point out that it’s also a position in various religions that killing children is wrong and yet you’re willing to punish mothers who do that for children outside of the womb. Why the difference here?

Governor Pence wants to repeal Roe v. Wade. He said he wants to put it on the ash heap of history. And we have some young people in the audience who weren’t even born when Roe was decided. This is pretty important. Before Roe v. Wade, states could pass criminal laws to do just that, to punish women if they made the choice to terminate a pregnancy.

But this isn’t just a Christian position. An atheist can hold this position. Consider for instance Robert Price. He’s a mythicist, but he’s someone I entirely agree with on this end.

As for abortion, it is a crime against humanity. How can anyone claim the name “humanist” and be pro-abortion? Beats me. I’d love to see Roe v. Wade repealed. “Evidence-based policy” is the last thing Progressives really want.

Kaine treats this as if it’s automatically something we wouldn’t want. Why not make it more that something we automatically wouldn’t want is for women to terminate pregnancies and kill innocent children? And yes, I happen to think that if a woman kills a child, she should be punished for that.

I think you should live your moral values. But the last thing, the very last thing that government should do is have laws that would punish women who make reproductive choices. And that is the fundamental difference between a Clinton-Kaine ticket and a Trump- Pence ticket that wants to punish women who make that choice.

Once again, it comes down to what is the choice being made? If the choice is to kill an innocent child, then the question would be why should we oppose that? Are there cases where Kaine wants the killing of children to be legal? After this, we have a back and forth. It starts with Pence.

But here’s — there is a choice, and it is a choice on life. I couldn’t be more proud to be standing with Donald Trump, who’s standing for the right to life. It’s a principle that — Senator Kaine — and I’m very gentle about this, because I really do respect you — it’s a principle that you embrace.

And I have appreciated the fact that you’ve supported the Hyde amendment, which bans the use of taxpayer funding for abortion, in the past, but that’s not Hillary Clinton’s view. People need to understand, we can come together as a nation. We can create a culture of life. More and more young people today are embracing life because we know we are — we’re better for it. We can — like Mother Teresa said at that famous national prayer breakfast…

KAINE: This is important —

PENCE: … bring the — let’s welcome the children into our world. There are so many families around the country who can’t have children. We could improve adoption…

KAINE: But, Governor…

PENCE: … so that families that can’t have children can adopt more readily those children from crisis pregnancies.

It’s important to point out that Kaine had no trouble quoting Matthew to attack Trump, not realizing that the Bible apparently has something to say about killing innocent life. One of my own Catholic friends said it would have been great to have seen the Pope come on the stage and immediately excommunicate Kaine. Kaine seems quite selective when he wants to use the Bible.

But to get to what Pence has said, he’s made a great speech here. His viewpoint is one that is welcoming of children and doesn’t believe that they should be punished for existing. He is interested in creating a culture of life. This is quite important. Kaine then replies.

Governor, why don’t you trust women to make this choice for themselves? We can encourage people to support life. Of course we can. But why don’t you trust women? Why doesn’t Donald Trump trust women to make this choice for themselves?

That’s what we ought to be doing in public life. Living our lives of faith or motivation with enthusiasm and excitement, convincing other, dialoguing with each other about important moral issues of the day…

Okay. Let’s go this way.

Senator Kaine. Do you trust women to make the decision to kill their infants on their own?

Their toddlers?

Their pre-teens?

Their teenagers?

At what point do you think a woman should be trusted with the choice to kill her children or have that choice removed? Why is Kaine personally against the death penalty? Does he think that people shouldn’t be trusted with when to kill criminals? Why is he personally pro-life? Does he think it kills an innocent human being? If so, then he is saying he personally thinks abortion kills an innocent human being, but he thinks women should have the freedom to choose that on their own.

PENCE: Because there are…

KAINE: … but on fundamental issues of morality, we should let women make their own decisions.

Seriously? Would you do this anywhere else? All laws deal with moral issues. (Perhaps we should ask Kaine if he doesn’t think Trump should make the decision on when he should pay taxes or release his tax returns.) Should we let women make the decision to kill children outside of the womb, or their husbands, or that annoying dog of the neighbor? Seriously?

PENCE: Because there is — a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable, the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn. I believe it with all my heart. And I couldn’t be more proud to be standing with a pro-life candidate in Donald Trump.

Whether you stand with Trump or not or think he’s pro-life or not, the first part of this is excellent. Pence is absolutely right. Not only can a society be judged that way, they should be. So should individuals. We could all consider how we’re treating those who are the most vulnerable.

The issue of life does have religious implications, but it itself is not dependent on any one particular religion. It can be grounded in traditional Natural Law thinking. I don’t fault Pence for not being a trained pro-life apologist, but I would have loved to have seen a Beckwith or Klusendorf on stage dealing with Kaine last night.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Destroyer of the Gods

What do I think of Larry Hurtado’s latest published by Baylor University Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

First off, my thanks to Baylor University Press for sending me an advanced copy. To be sure, this one is an uncorrected proof. While some matters might change before official publication, I suspect that the majority will not. Having said that, let’s dive into this book.

With a title like Destroyer of the Gods, you might be expecting some sci-fi adventure or a fantasy adventure with magic and swords clashing and explosions going off. Instead, you will get a book about the history of early Christianity. How does this fit? Because Christianity led to the death per se of the gods and goddesses of the time.

Often, we hear that Christianity is a religion just like any other. When the point is presented that James and Paul were skeptics and became believers as evidence for the resurrection we are told “People convert for many reasons.” It’s never usually seen as what a scandal it was that people converted to this religion and what that meant in this society.

For instance, religion wasn’t just a personal private choice that you made. It went through every facet of life. The average home in the Roman Empire that wasn’t Jewish or Christian had gods you were to pay homage to. Your workplace would have gods. Your social gatherings would have gods. Even if they weren’t your gods, you were expected to honor them if you were a guest.

Christians went against all of that. Christians said they could not and would not honor the other gods. By doing so, they made themselves social pariahs. They would be seen as misfits in the world and quite frankly, as threats. How will the gods respond after all when these people are not being honoring of them? How will the gods treat us if we allow these people to not honor these gods?

“But weren’t the Jews like that?!” Yes. The Jews were like that as well, but they had an ancient heritage that was based on their ethnicity. The Jews had their critics and people who admired them, but they were often more or less tolerated, largely because their beliefs were so old. When it became obvious that Christian was not an ethnicity and you had former Gentiles going all the way with Christianity, then that cover of protection on Christianity was removed and they were allowed to be targeted in a way that the Jews weren’t.

You see, if Christianity was a religion just like any other in the empire, then it would not be necessary to join. It was because it was radically different that Gentiles would completely abandon their own heritage. Note this isn’t about considering Jesus as one god among many. This is about seeing Him as God in some way. (Hurtado has written much elsewhere on the early high Christology of the Christian believers.)

On page 22, Hurtado also points out that writers like Tacitus saw Christianity as superstitious. This doesn’t mean in the sense of someone afraid of a black cat crossing their path. This means in the sense that the beliefs were repellent and monstrous. We often have this idea that the message would resonated with people because it was about justice and overcoming suffering and the equality of man. Yeah. Good luck finding evidence that the early critics of Christianity saw it that way.

To be sure, some new groups could be seen as troublesome at first, but this was often sporadic. Even at times when Jews were persecuted, they were eventually allowed to return. After awhile, the belief system of new people, like followers of the Egyptian goddess Isis, would be allowed back into the mainstream. Their deities would also be added to the pantheon of gods you could worship in Rome. Christians weren’t like this. Christians, until Constantine, never had a time of favor with the Roman Empire.

Some of you might wonder what the big deal is. “So Christians didn’t worship Roman gods. Why should they care?” Because there was no separation of church and state. To not honor the gods was to not honor Rome and to put Rome at risk. It was treason. Add to it that your crucified god was in fact seen as a traitor to Rome due to dying by crucifixion and now picture how Christians were seen. Christians were people who followed a traitor to Rome and lived lives in treason to Rome by refusing to honor the gods of Rome.

Now someone could say maybe it was just the riffraff that was doing this. Not so. Had that been the case, writers like Celsus would not have bothered responding. Christianity was gaining grounds in the upper reaches of society. I would in fact contend that that is the only way Paul could afford to write his letters and numerous copies of NT books could be made. Someone had to have had money.

Actually, this gets us into something else that was noteworthy about Christians that was unique. They were a bookish people. No doubt, this came also from their background in Judaism as well with what we call the Old Testament. Many times on the internet, you can hear people talk about what the writings of the Mithraic religion and others claim. Good luck finding those. They’re not there. What we know about many of these religions comes in fact from outsiders. Christianity is unique in that we can read the Christians themselves.

In fact, Hurtado points out that Christians popularized the format known as the codex. This is a close precursor to our modern day book. Interestingly, the books that were kept in the codex were those that were seen as Scripture. Those interested in learning about the writing styles of the early Christians will benefit greatly from this information.

Christianity also had a new kind of identity. In the ancient society, to know one member of an ethnic group was to know all of them. Stand up today and say “All Cretans are liars!” and you’ll be called out for political incorrectness. Stand up in the ancient world and say this and you’ll get hearty agreement. In fact, you could even get it from the Cretans themselves!

The Christianity identity however was a forsaking of all other identity markers. It was not rooted in your family. It was not rooted in your birthplace. It was instead rooted in a crucified Jewish Messiah in the backwaters of Israel. Now of course, if you believed His claims about Himself, that would be seen as something noble, but if you didn’t, it would be shameful. The only people this would then be impressive to were people who were already Christians themselves.

Another difference would be how these people lived. Many of us have heard the stories of people who become Christians. They describe their lives before Jesus came and after Jesus came and frankly, many times the before part sounds a lot better. “Yeah. I used to have tons of money and was extremely popular with everyone and I could have any woman I wanted and then, well, I met Jesus, and now I live a moderate lifestyle where I work 9-5, I get shunned by society, and I have said I will have sex with no one until I marry and then only with her.” Of course, I do not want to give an impression that people should not come to Jesus, but frankly, our testimonies could use some work.

Still, this is something that would have made the Christians stand out. They had a lifestyle like this on the issue of sex. If you turn on your television today, sex is often seen as just another hobby that we do together and no consequences to it. In fact, Roman society could be even more open in some ways than ours is. To become a Christian was to give up one of the great gods of the Roman empire (Or severely restrict it) and in fact one of the great gods of the modern West.

So let’s take a look. What have we learned about what it would mean to be a Christian? (And this is only an inkling of what’s in the book.)

First, it would mean that you were a social pariah. You were going against the gods and you would in fact be called impious in a culture where piety was valued. Second, it would mean that you were a person who was identifying with a traitor to Rome and engaging in treason to Rome as well. Third, it would mean you were a bookish sort of person in a culture where books were valued to be sure, but your sacred beliefs were usually not written down. Finally, it would mean that you would have extreme positions on how limited your sex life was to be by comparison.

Well obviously this is something people would flock to!

And yet, Christianity was the destroyer of the gods. When you meet an atheist today, for the most part, they say they don’t believe in God. They don’t usually say the gods. Christianity was a system that changed that. Our modern celebration of justice and equality and other virtues comes largely from the Christian story. Our idea of being able to tolerate different belief systems without agreeing or participating comes from Christianity. Christianity replaced one system with another, its own, and did so good a job that today we often don’t realize it.

If there were areas of improvement for this book, I would like to have seen some more talk about honor and shame. This is really all throughout the book, but very rarely explicitly stated as such. The honor-shame paradigm I think brings so much more of this to life.

Little was said about the belief in resurrection as well. I would have liked to have seen more on that since much of the ancient world saw resurrection as laughable. In fact, some of them would have seen it as abhorrent just as much. Despite this, Christianity made it the foundation of their belief system.

I also hope that the completed copy of this book will have a bibliography. The one I have does not have one, but again, I do have an uncorrected proof. Perhaps that will come in the end. It would be greatly helpful.

Still, this is an excellent book. I had to break out my highlighter again and use it plentifully. This is definitely an area worthy of further research.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Happy Fourth of July

Are you enjoying the 4th of July? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today we celebrate the fact that we are supposed to be a free people and this based on an event that happened 240 years ago. My wife and I will be celebrating by going to see her parents for a cookout. I’m also bringing Apples To Apples with us in case we want to have some gaming going on. Naturally, I’ll have my books with me as well because they tend to go everywhere with me.

Yet today, I wonder more and more if we’re not taking our freedoms for granted here. We’re living more and more in a society where businesses are being told how they must run their business and who they must sell their goods and services to. Whenever this happens, our freedoms die little by little.

I fear a world where we have way too much government inclusion. It’s what I call the nanny state. It’s too often looking like we are implicitly told that we are too stupid to know what’s good for us so we need the powers that be to come alongside of us and tell us what is good for us.

Many of us who are Christians are also worried about what we can do to stop the downward slide in our nation. There are some sadly who think that since Jesus will return soon, that this is what’s expected and this world is going to be done away with anyway so why bother? Sure, this doesn’t match everyone, but I have met too many with this mindset.

What is my advice in this situation? If we don’t like the way the country is going, then what are we to do? My advice is simple. The church has to be the church.

We are too often passive in what we want. We say “We’ll just live our lives and wait for people to ask us about what we believe.” They weren’t like that. Paul went into the synagogues, where he would be challenged by those who would have the most knowledge about what the Messiah would be, on a regular basis and spoke from the Scriptures about Jesus. He went to the Greek marketplace and Mars Hill and spoke about Jesus. Never do we read in Acts

“And Paul went into the city and he lived a good and pleasant life among the peoples and they came to him and asked ‘Why do you not live as we do?’ and from that point on, Paul spoke about how Jesus changed his life and gave him new desires. All the people in the city were impressed and decided to follow this Jesus. Paul won many converts then in that city and went on to the next.”

Paul was one wanting to bring the message wherever he could. Today, we’re living more in response mode. We don’t lead in the culture. We respond to the culture. This is also shown in our Christian bookstores selling what has been called “Jesus junk.” Just take a popular saying of the day, put Jesus in it, and then put it on a T-shirt.

Some of you might be wondering what it will take to get the church to be more aggressive. Now note I don’t mean violently aggressive. There is no place for picking up the sword to do evangelism. What I mean is we are to be pro-active. For that, we need to train our people in what it is they ought to believe and know about Christianity and how to show it and spread it. Our Christianity has often been reduced to moralizing, particularly on sexual issues. Of course we should speak on those, but that is not all that we are about.

If the church gets to be the church again, we can change our culture. If first century Rome can be changed, then who on Earth can 21st century America not be? Of course, this doesn’t just mean doing evangelism alone. Christians should take the lead in charity, and in many ways we do. Christians should take the lead in academia. The best scientists, engineers, lawyers, etc. should be Christians. We should strive for greatness in all that we do.

Christians should also be able to rely less and less on the government. I think one of the sad reasons that we have so much government dependency today is that the church let the government do that job. We are to be the ones to take care of our own. Why aren’t we doing that?

Even if you think this world is going to go away soon, that doesn’t negate your marching orders. Jesus gave the Great Commission to be done. There is no plan B. There is nothing that tells us what happens if we don’t do plan A. We are simply told to do it and if Jesus is our King, then we will do it.

Today, celebrate the fourth, but remember if you want to hold on to those freedoms, don’t look to others. You do what you can in your own power to preserve them. Freedom is worth it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

SNL and God’s Not Gay

What do I think of SNL’s parody? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We live in a society today that wants to talk about being kind and generous to everyone. We don’t want to offend anyone. We want to uphold the basic rights of every person that is out there. We want to celebrate our diversity and be tolerant towards everyone.

Except for those Christians. Yeah. We can mark them off.

You see, SNL has decided it’s time to have some fun at the expense of Christians and show just that they must be ridiculous because they oppose redefining marriage. Thus, they have made a little parody video called “God’s Not Gay” although it ends being called “God is a Boob Man.” It’s this idea that all Christians are doing nowadays is arguing against basic rights for homosexuals. It never seems to occur to people that we talk about this for the same reason a lot of people talk about Donald Trump. That’s the issue being talked about right now.

The premise starts off with a baker who refuses to bake a cake for a homosexual couple. Well, you know, it’s kind of good to see that there’s complaints about people refusing to do business with those who have views they disagree with. Naturally, this means that we can expect to soon see an SNL parody of the stance of Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Cirque Du Soleil, a porn site that blocked traffic to NC, and of course, Michael Moore who is withholding his latest film from NC. (Experts predict that he could have a loss of two tickets being sold.)

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Now here’s the thing. I happen to think that freedom is a wonderful thing and if these people don’t want to do business in NC, that’s their right. In fact, you could say that what they did is in fact a greater violation than what bakers are doing because these people made a contract that they agreed to and then backed out of it. Sure, people’s money for tickets will be reimbursed to them, but what about travel costs, arranging trips, making hotel stays, etc.? Still, no one has a right to the goods and services of these people. They are not obligated to perform for anyone. That’s freedom.

Most of us just want bakers and florists and photographers to get the same basic right. They produce a good or a service and they have the right to do what they want with that good and service. If they find it morally objectionable for them to do something involving a homosexual ceremony, that is their right. There are numerous other bakers and florists and photographers who will do this. Of course, as I say this, I realize that this is where the great virtue of tolerance we heard so much about goes right out the window.

“Well what if this baker wanted to deny making cases to people who are over 6 feet tall? What would you say then?”

I’d say it’s her business and she can do that if she wants. Do I think that would be a foolish decision? Yep. Do I think it would cost her the business? Sure do. Still, it is her business and she can do that if she wants. If she wants to serve only homosexuals and deny cakes for heterosexual couples, that is also her right. It doesn’t make any sense to say we celebrate freedom of everyone but if you disagree with what we want you to do, we will force the law on you.

In the parody, the lady refuses to do this and instead of having it be about an issue, such as what is the thought of God on homosexual practice, it becomes “Is God gay?” Yes. I understand they want to make a parody, but it’s one that doesn’t even make sense. Of course, SNL will never raise those deeper metaphysical questions and sadly, neither will a lot of people and that includes people on both sides of the debate. Some people will just go with “The Bible says X. I believe it. That settles it.” The other side will just be proclaiming love and tolerance (Until you disagree with them) and automatically paint their side as the positive. (Marriage equality. After all, who wants to oppose equality, although it is never asked if the relationships are really equal or not)

There is a scene also with discussion about problems facing our country including obesity and then this baker comes in and says she wants to deny basic rights to gay people. The man in charge says that that is the #1 priority. Again, the reason Christians are talking about this issue is because this is the issue being talked about. We could just as well ask that if these other causes are so much more important, why is everyone else so caught up in debates over homosexuality?

The film ends with a proclamation from the woman that “God is a boob man.” Yeah. This really makes sense. It’s as if God opposes homosexuality because God is a really big man in the sky who likes the ladies. This is not held to seriously by any Christian theologian but hey, why bother interacting with what your opposition thinks when you can get a laugh instead?

Now if SNL really wants to proclaim themselves as champions of equality and tolerance, I hope they keep going. I really do. After all, there are viewpoints out there that take a far tougher stance on homosexual practice than Christians do. I look forward to SNL making parodies about them. Therefore, I look forward to seeing them do a parody called Allah’s Not Gay or Allah Is A Boob Man. After all, in Muslim countries being a practicing homosexual can get you killed. We are sure that SNL will want to speak out against that intolerance and bigotry soon.

Or is it only Christians who you speak out against because you know Christians will not drop walls on you? Christians will actually give you the freedom to disagree. Do note this. I think SNL’s parody is highly offensive, but I do not think it’s right to go to the law and censor them for it. They have the right to make any parody that they want. I also have the right to respond to it and to do so with what I think is a reasoned argument. Now you can think my argument is a bad argument all you want, but it is an argument still.

In fact, I have not taken a hard line here to say homosexual practice is wrong. You can search on my blog here for other writings I’ve done on homosexual practice. I’m simply wanting to say that I see an inconsistency with Christians being called intolerant for not wanting to give the goods and services they own to someone else while Springsteen, Starr, and others get to do exactly that and they get celebrated as heroes.

Christians are often accused of being hypocrites. No doubt we are to some extent, but those who want to go after hypocrisy need to watch their own. Freedom is a wonderful thing and it works both ways.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is Technology Killing Christianity?

Because we live in a technical world, does that mean we can see religion is a scam? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, my wife was browsing YouTube on our TV and we came across a video with someone making the claim that as technology has increased and we have the internet, that this means religion is going away. (Of course, we’ve heard claims about religion dying many times before.) The belief was that the internet is allowing people to become more educated. As they become more educated, they are starting to see that they believed something obviously foolish and abandoning it because they are finding out information they never found out before.

There is some truth to that.

People are finding out things they never found out before. People are also finding out things about secret Illuminati cover-ups or how NASA faked the moon landing or how 9-11 was an inside job or how Reptilians are secretly living among us. Yes. These claims are all out there and they are largely popular because of the internet. We could say the same about Jesus mythicism. If you stuck to reading scholarly books for instance no matter what worldview, you would not likely walk away being a mythicist. If you stuck to internet research, you could.

Technology can be a wonderful tool for spreading truth and education. Unfortunately, it can also be a wonderful tool for spreading falsehood and destroying education. Google can bring up results to a question you may have, but it will not be able to tell you how you should access the information that you see. How will you evaluate it and weigh it out?

Let’s suppose I wanted to argue something that I don’t argue, and that is that evolution is a myth. I make no claims on this one yes or no, but I know many Christians who do say that it is not true at all. So I go to Google like I just now did and type in “evolution is a myth.” What do I come up with first?

The first thing I see is Yahoo Answers. I see a long post that starts with this

No, it’s not a creation myth. Darwinian evolution is a theory, it has never been proven, and thanks to modern science it is now being disproven. It takes far more faith to believe in Darwinian evolution than it does to believe in creation and intelligent design. There is a lot more evidence for creation and intelligent design than there is for Darwinian evolution. A lot of people believe in the theory of Darwinian evolution because they were (and are still being) taught this theory in school. This theory should no longer be taught in school now that modern science is continueously finding more evidence against it. At the time Darwin came up with the theory science was not able to disprove it. Darwin’s theory of evolution has not been proven. Only 9% of the population now believes in Darwinian evolution.

Scientific evidence casts serious doubts on the theory of evolution, for example:

From there, the person goes on to link to several articles. Now if you’re not someone who does not know how to evaluate scientific information, this will all seem very impressive. The next thing I see is a site from a Matthew McGee arguing that evolution is a myth and the Earth is young. Again, that can look very impressive if you’ve never really thought about the claims before.

The next I see is a link to an Amazon book. Again, this looks impressive, but someone who doesn’t know better will not realize the book is self-published and I see no information about the author. Could his case be true? That’s not for me to decide. What I am saying is that we live in an age that it’s easier to self-publish. There is some good stuff out there, but just because someone has a book does not mean that they are an authority.

I could go on from here, but I hope you see the point. Right now, I don’t care what side you take on the evolution discussion. You can see that if someone just typed in what they wanted to know, they could easily find plenty to support it. Now I’ll do a search for something I do know something about. How about “Jesus is a myth.”

The first one I come to is here. Now again, if you don’t know how to evaluate historical claims and you’re not familiar with leading scholars, this is all very impressive. The person who has never encountered this information will likely be flummoxed. This is why movies like Zeitgeist get so much popularity.

Interestingly, you will find some dissent as there is a Gotquestions article that shows up in the search early on and there are more here. Now what is the danger here? You might walk away concluding Jesus existed, but you would also walk away likely thinking that this is a debate in the academy. It’s not. I prefer to go with what Jonathan Bernier has said.

As I wrote the paper I returned to Meyer’s scathing book review of John Dominic Crossan’s The Historical Jesus. Here I will quote a passage that comes near the end of the view.

Historical inquiry, with its connotations of a personal wrestling with evidence, is not to be found. There are no recalcitrant data, no agonizing reappraisals. All is aseptic, the data having been freeze-dried, prepackaged, and labelled with literary flair. Instead of an inquiry, what we have here is simply the proposal of a bright idea. But, as Bernard Lonergan used to say, bright ideas are a dime a dozen—establishing which of them are true is what separates the men from the boys.

As I reread this passage, which I quote in the paper discussed above, it occurs to me that this describes well what we see in mythicism. It’s always good form to critique the best version of a position, and for mythicism that is surely Richard Carrier’s work. It’s well-written, an exemplar of rhetoric and of making one’s historiography appear like a hard science. But that’s all smoke and mirrors. Carrier’s got a bright idea, but that’s all. That bright is that there is a 2 in 3 chance that Jesus did not exist. That doesn’t tell me that Jesus did not exist. In fact, “Did Jesus exist?” is not even Carrier’s question but rather “Is there a conceivable world in which Jesus did not exist?” And the answer to that is “Yes.” But that’s not enough. One must further ask “Is that world the one that best accounts for the totality of the relevant data?” Does it account for the most data whilst adopting the fewest suppositions? Does it resolve problems throughout the field of study, or does it in fact create new ones? And on those matters Carrier fails, as has been shown repeatedly by various NT scholars, professional and amateur, here on the interwebs (which, one should note, is just about the only place that this “debate” is taking place. It’s certainly not taking place in the academy. Kinda like what fundamentalist Christians euphemistically call the evolution “debate”; the debate, it turns out, exists primarily in their heads). (bold parts highlighted by myself.)

In this case then, Google is helping to spread misinformation because people do not know how to evaluate the data. Many of us can remember this commercial from State Farm years ago.

We often laugh, but what are we saying when we say the internet gives us more knowledge than ever before and then play this? We play it because we all know there’s a lot of bogus information on the net. Unfortunately, if you do not know how to evaluate claims, you will just believe whatever you find either most aligns with what you already believe or whatever you just don’t answer.

By the way, this is also why education of Christians in the church is so essential. It used to be our students would have to go off to university before they’d encounter a challenge to their faith. No more. Today, all you have to do is go to the internet. You can listen to a favorite Christian song on YouTube and see a link on the side of something like “Ten Questions Christians Can’t Answer.” That’s all it takes. Then they go to a pastor who says “Well you just have to have faith.”

Please church. Never hire a pastor who answers a question like that. Our youth are too valuable. A lot of people are ignorant and don’t know how to debate and take on opponents they can’t handle and then they become atheists who don’t know how to debate either and remain just as ignorant but think that because they’ve “seen through the lies” now that they’re somehow enlightened.

Keep in mind in all of this, I am not saying the internet is the root of all evil. There is a lot of good information on the internet. The problem is there is no way you have apart from your own study of being able to evaluate the claims you find on the internet. Unfortunately, most people, when it comes to an area they have never studied, have no way of doing that. (How many doctors have told you to never diagnose yourself using the internet?)

So can the internet spread knowledge? Yep. Sure can. Can it spread ignorance? Yep. Sure can. That’s why when I hear people say “We have the internet so now we know better”, I do not take it seriously. Google is a great tool, but it is a terrible teacher.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/12/2016: Matthew Peeples

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

Okay. Looks like the Deeper Waters Podcast is about to return again full throttle. We missed the 20th due to our moving and on the 27th, Allie’s grandmother and aunt were in town so I decided to focus on that special time with family. Then last week, I was about to do an interview, but I was in too much pain with a toothache. (Bad news on my part, I need three root canals.) This Saturday I count on things being different. Earlier this week, I recorded and interview with Pastor Matthew Peeples. Who’s that?

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Rev. Matt Peeples is the Lead/Founding Pastor of The Point in Knoxville, TN. He is passionate about connecting the disconnected, training the next generation of church planters, and preaching the gospel. He routinely does national speaking engagements on the following topics: outreach, technology, and social media.

Many of you have heard me speak about the church Allie and I attended in Knoxville. It was indeed an awesome church and I only use the past tense because we’re not getting to experience it and not because the awesomeness has changed. In fact, the biggest thing holding us back in Knoxville for the longest time was The Point.

I’d been wanting to have my pastor come on for awhile to talk about his experience and how it relates to apologetics. You see, at The Point, apologetics was not really formally mentioned from the pulpit, but it was regularly done. In fact, it was done every service. The pastor (We had interns who would speak some also) would regularly give a Bible-focused message and people were encouraged to text in their questions during their service and at the end the speaker would come out and address them. That still goes on to this day. In fact, it is often my favorite part of the service.

We also ask why we should even be planting churches. Even here in Atlanta you drive down a little ways and you can see a church. It’s almost like churches are breeding like rabbits. Why do we need to be planting more?

Pastor Matt also talks about the places that he has gone to in order to share the Gospel. He talks about how church services have been held at a bar numerous times before and how The Point will often have a presence at events like Brewfest, where people gather to drink and celebrate beer. (Doesn’t hurt that the Point is a Lutheran church and for many Lutherans, beer is practically a sacrament.)

Pastor Matt is the kind of pastor that I wish more pastors were like. I found myself edified by being at The Point and even today people from The Point are still regularly checking on us and seeing how we’re doing. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to do this interview and I hope that many pastors out there will listen and realize that there is a way you can draw people into the church and use apologetics at the same time and still have a message for everyone in the audience. Be listening to the next episode!

In Christ,
Nick Peters