Why Christians Should Care About A Snowflake Culture

Do snowflakes indicate that Christians in the West have some concerns? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Much of the news today concerns snowflakes. No. I don’t mean a story about global warming. I mean a story about especially people in high school who can’t seem to stand the thought of anything contrary to their opinion and have to have safe places where they will not be challenged in anything.

I don’t know what to call these people besides snowflakes. I know that chronologically, kids doesn’t fit, but what do you call people who for all intents and purposes are adults and yet need to be in a place where their opinions aren’t challenged and this in college where you SHOULD be having your opinions challenged? What do you say about children who need therapy dogs and coloring books not because of some serious major hardship, but because their candidate lost an election?

Unfortunately, the snowflakes didn’t just come out of nowhere. There came a time in our history when arguments mattered less and less and how one felt about the arguments mattered the most. In this day and age, someone can think they can refute the Old Testament by pointing to a commandment, saying “I don’t like it” and moving on from there. Never mind that you might actually want to attempt to understand the culture and see what was going on, but for many people, that’s not necessary. Being offended is enough to show that it’s wrong.

I have been engaging on Brent Landau’s post that I wrote about last week. It has been amusing to be accused of abuse when as far as I know, the worst crime I have done is telling people they’re spreading nonsense and don’t know what they’re talking about. What kind of nonsense? Oh, Raphael Lataster, David Fitzgerald, and Richard Carrier. Jesus mythicism is alive and well for internet atheists. What it tells me is these are people who care so little about the truth of historical Jesus scholarship, but when they’re called out on it, rather than defend the arguments, they try to take the moral high ground and play the victim. It’s a way to avoid “Okay. I don’t know how to answer this point,” and turn it into “You’re a mean person for arguing with me!” The subject becomes the objector then instead of the data itself.

Sadly, we Christians aren’t innocent in this. Why? Because we have bought into gentle Jesus meek and mild. Make no mistake about it that when it came to sinners seeking forgiveness and coming to Jesus in hope, he was meek and mild. Look at the Pharisees by contrast. Jesus was not meek and mild towards them. A meek and mild Jesus does not make a whip in the temple and clean it up. Jesus had a problem with these people and took them to task because their behavior and the claims they were making were hurting the people who were wanting to enter the Kingdom. Jesus was also sarcastic with them believe it or not. Consider when His disciples were picking grain on the sabbath. When confronted, Jesus said, “Have you not read about…..” We could get into the whole discussion of if Abiathar was the high priest at the time, but notice that Jesus went to the scholars of the Old Testament in His day and said, “Have you not read this?” It was a great insult. “Hey, guys. You’re supposed to know this stuff. Have you ever even read this passage?”

It’s been in more recent times that we’ve started to think contrarily. Now don’t get me wrong on this. There’s no need to unnecessarily offend someone. There are times where it will be necessary. In fact, if you give the Gospel, you will have to offend people. Seriously. You think people like being told they’re sinners living in rebellion against the King and that they will be judged if they don’t change? That’s a great insult to them, but it’s also true. My policy is if stepping on someone’s toes is the only way to get someone to move towards Christ, then watch out because I plan to stomp hard!

If people say they want to go the more peaceful route, I just like to ask them how that has worked for the homosexual crowd. We thought we could just have peace and give an inch. Now what has happened? The shoe is on the other foot and tolerance is no longer the big deal it was. When the homosexuals did not have the majority opinion behind them, they shouted out for tolerance. When they did have it, Memories Pizzeria was targeted and received death threats and had to have a GoFundMe in order to survive. Florists now lose their livelihood just because they’re trying to live by their Christian principles. How did that work out?

Now does that mean we should have been absolute jerks to the homosexual community? No. It does mean that sentiment is not always the best way. Love is sometimes tough and it is tough because it seeks the best for the other person. Love is not giving that alcoholic an extra drink even though he’s crying on the couch begging for one to end the pain. If you love someone, you will often see them go through hardships and hold back on giving them what they want.

With the snowflake culture now, it is harder and harder to get contrary thought into the minds of others. After all, who are you to dare to suggest that someone is wrong? If politically we can’t even get a conservative speaker to show up on campuses, how much harder will it be to get a minister of the Gospel to show up on these campuses?

I wish I knew a good solution to this, but many might be too far into it. The best I can think of is to teach our own children now not to be snowed by these arguments. Remember that the data is primary. Look at an argument. Ask what the claims are. What are the reasons for believing those claims? How good is the data for them? Does the conclusion follow? Teach them how to do good research.

Remember, walking like Jesus does mean being delicate to those who are sinners and are seeking a place of forgiveness and grace. It also means guarding them with a rod and protecting them from those who wish them harm. If you have only a hammer, everything does look like a nail, but if you have only a hug, everything looks like a kitten, even if it’s really a destructive tiger. A good shepherd knows how to use a rod to deal with wolves and a staff to lead the sheep both.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 2/18/2017: Peter Leithart

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

History throughout time has presented a share of villains for us. Right now, we’re seeing several political statements indicating that Trump is Hitler, and there’s even a law on the internet that the first one to bring up Hitler in a debate loses. For many of us, if you want to say someone is a wicked individual, Hitler is the go-to person to compare them to.

Church history also has a villain. That is Constantine. Constantine was the Roman Emperor who supposedly became a Christian and made Christianity legal, but he’s said to have dominated the Council of Nicea, controlled the process, put together the NT by his arbitrary command, and murdered his family. In many cases, when people talk about matters going wrong in church history. It’s Constantine. He’s even accused of inventing the deity of Christ from the pagan religions and forcing it to be the belief at Nicea.

Perhaps we are looking back from too far ahead. Maybe Constantine wasn’t the villain that he seems to be portrayed as. That’s not to say that we are going to go around and start talking about Saint Constantine, but could we have got Constantine wrong in history? Could it be the king while flawed, wasn’t the villain that we make him out to be?

My guest says that is indeed the case. He is so sure about it, he wrote a book in defense of Constantine. That book is aptly titled Defending Constantine. The author’s name is Peter Leithart. Who is he?

Peter Leithart

According to his bio:

Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, a study center and leadership training institute in Birmingham, Alabama. An ordained minister, he serves as Teacher at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Birmingham. He is the author of several books, including Defending Constantine and, most recently, the End of Protestantism. He and his wife Noel have ten children and nine grandchildren.

We’ll be talking about who Constantine was. He didn’t exist in a vacuum. What was going on in his time? How did he come to power and what was the Roman world like before him?

What impact did Constantine have on Christianity? Did he radically change everything? Is there reason to believe that he was a Christian himself or was this something that he did that we could say was just somehow politically advantageous?

Then, what about the charges against him. Did Constantine really murder his own family? Was he really involved in the worship of Sol Invictus? What really did happen at the Council of Nicea. There is so much to cover in looking at this figure in ancient Christian history that we need to understand.

I hope you’ll be looking forward to listening to this new episode. There are a lot of myths built up around Constantine and hopefully we can clear away some of the cobwebs that have come about over his history. Please also consider going to ITunes and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I love to see them!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice

What do I think of Philip Jenkins’s book published by Oxford Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am not a Catholic. That having been said, why would I read a book about a problem of anti-Catholicism? It’s simply because this kind of prejudice does affect all Christians. If Catholics can be targeted, anyone else is not too far behind. Plus, there are a lot of rumors that one hears and that really you want to know how good the claims are behind them.

It’s not a secret that you can watch many a movie or a TV show and the church is a villain. One of my favorite gaming series is Final Fantasy, but unfortunately one knows that even though not specified as Roman Catholic, if the church shows up in a game, you can be sure it will be evil. Since this book came out, we have of course seen works like The Da Vinci Code, which only further the idea that there is a conspiracy cover-up by the evil Vatican.

Jenkins’s book is a hard look at many of the ways of thinking. Most anything can be connected with the Roman Catholic Church and it is thus automatically branded as evil. Of course, sadly a lot of Protestants haven’t helped with conspiracy theories about the Pope being the antichrist or the False Prophet. Of course, this prejudice Jenkins points out doesn’t mean one can’t disagree with Catholicism, but it means that one takes that beyond just disagreement with doctrine to the idea that Catholicism is an evil system.

One great chapter in this book will be the chapter on the claims of pedophilia and the priesthood. Jenkins has the hard numbers on this to show that while any case is certainly a problem to be dealt with, there was much that was overstated by the media with hyped up numbers. He points out that every denomination and religion and such has people that do these kinds of things and in other systems, it’s a problem of the individual, but in the RCC, it’s seen as a problem of the system. It would also be good to have more official comparisons to other people guilty of such transgressions, say teachers in the public school system. (Of course, it must be made clear that pedophilia doesn’t exactly include teenagers and others in both cases.)

There’s also a section on the history of the church and supposed great crimes. It’s usually taken for granted that the church was a wicked institution when it came to things like the Crusades or the Inquisition or claims of anti-Semitism. Jenkins looks at all of these. In all of this, he doesn’t say that the church is without fault in everything, but he does try to be fair and show that there is a double standard often and the church can be held to be guilty on much less evidence than other bodies would be.

I found this to be an eye-opening read and leaves me once again not trusting anything I see in the media about Catholicism. We do need to have open debates and discussions between Catholics and Protestants and Orthodox and others, but let us not make this an issue of prejudice. Let us discuss the issues that we disagree instead of thinking the worst of the people.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/19/2016: David Sorrell

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

There have been some ideas that have come up that many people have scratched their heads at wondering what is going on with them. One such idea is that of transgenderism. We have seen that Target has had it that now anyone can use the restroom that they identify with. In fact, this was even talked about in the election earlier this month with the way North Carolina was voting. How did it become such a political issue? Are Christians just bigots because they don’t go along with the party line?

To discuss this, I wanted to bring someone on who I think has their finger on the pulse of social issues today. I wanted someone who has in fact done extensive reading on this topic and knows it well. I also needed someone who had experience with things that I thought were really unusual and out of the ordinary. In fact, I know this person has done all of that.

This Saturday, I’m going to be interviewing David Sorrell. He is someone who is always watching what is going on in the political and social scene which has led to him and I having some great discussions. He has done much reading on the transgender movement, even getting to be published in the Federalist. As for the last part, he is definitely someone who has experience in dealing with the unusual and out of the ordinary. I know this because he happened to be my roommate for a few years in seminary, at least until we realized we didn’t have a marriage clause in our unwritten “roommate agreement” and I decided I wanted to tie the knot with Allie. When that came, there was no question also that David would be the best man at my wedding. Today, among men, I have no better friend in this world than David and I’m honored to get to host him on my show.

So who is he?

davidsorrell

David Sorrell is a student at Southern Evangelical Bible College, and writes about contemporary ethics and Christian apologetics issues. He lives in rural southeastern Missouri. He’s on Twitter @Rayado2011

We’ll be talking about what can be said about the transgender movement. Is there really such a thing truly as a transgender person? Can someone really be born the wrong sex as it were? What about unusual cases with babies being born with physical problems where it can be hard to tell? As a Thomist, which I am as well, does Thomistic philosophy have anything to say about this?

We’ll also talk about the political ramifications. What is a Christian to do with the Target issue? How can we respond when we are called bigots? Is there anything a Christian can say when this is such a complex issue?

I hope you’ll be looking forward to the next episode. We have been working on getting them uploaded so you should be seeing them in your podcast feed. Please leave a positive review on ITunes and keep listening to the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Christians Can Learn From The 2016 Election

What are the lessons we can learn from last night? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s not a secret to many of you that I do vote Republican and conservative consistently. This past election was no exception. Like many of you, I was skeptical. I was thinking it looked like Hillary would win. So was most everyone else. The reality is that we were in fact, wrong.

As I watched the results rolling in last night and thinking there could be a chance that Trump could pull this off, I wondered what I could learn from this. Eventually, we got to the point where it was no longer asking “What does Trump have to do to win?” and instead had switched to “What does Hillary have to do to win?” No doubt, for the Democrats, this was an upset.

I went to bed shortly before the announcement came since I had heard Pennsylvania might not be called until the morning. I got up to go to the restroom during the night and checked my emails to see if there was anything new. One of my friends emailed me and said that Hillary had indeed conceded.

Some of you are pleased. Some of you are disappointed. Some of you don’t know. Still, I hope that the lessons I give here will be ones that you can use whether you agree with President-Elect Trump or not. I think there are several things he did right that we Christians can learn from.

First, if you believe something is true, be willing to say it. Something that I think people found refreshing in Trump is that he blew apart political correctness and yes, I think that does need to die. It got us to be more individualistic and centered on ourselves and our feelings and make those dominant. This is also one reason I think a TV show like House was so popular. A TV Guide cover I saw once about it said “People say they want House to change but they don’t. You watch it because he’s a jerk.” House’s being straight-forward was refreshing to a lot of people.

Second, along with those lines, don’t be afraid of offending people. There’s no need to offend needlessly, but at the same time, we’ve reached a point where we’re afraid to say anyone to anything that will offend them. If we give the Gospel, we will offend people. It will be offensive to people to tell them they’re sinners. It will be offensive to them to tell them Jesus is King and they are not. If you are afraid of offending people, you will not be able to do evangelism well.

Third, be able to accept criticism. Remember the basket of deplorables remark? Many people were described with slurs of racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamophobic. If you speak out against Islam, well you won’t make it anywhere. You had better get in line with the culture also on homosexuality as well.

The slurs didn’t stop the President-Elect at all. Too many Christians when they get told that they’re a homophobe or Islamophobe or something similar (And I am not saying that Trump is right in line with us on the issue of homosexuality) shut down immediately. They think the label might be true. All it takes then is to have your opponents put a label on you and you stop.

Fourth, we can win in the face of opposition. Trump did it. Naturally, the Republican candidate had the Democrats against him, but also many in his own party and the media. We Christians in the face of opposition often fall back and don’t do anything. What could happen if we push forward?

Finally, what led to his win? Because there were plenty of people who were staying silent, but were supporting him. Most every poll was wrong. There were a lot of people who were shy about their support of Trump and didn’t want to tell a pollster, but they were willing to show up and vote. So now we have to wonder. How many people out there could be silent but do agree with us on issues like abortion, homosexuality, etc.?

Ideological battles can be won. The problem isn’t that the church can’t win battles. The problem is that the church rarely shows up to fight the battle. We assume often that we are a lone voice like Elijah, but there could still be 7,000 that have not bowed their knees to Baal we don’t know about.

Maybe you’re disappointed after last night. Maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re not sure. Either way, wherever you are, this should be a learning time regardless. I often like to listen to Herman Cain and he ends each show with saying “I hope you learned something.”

I hope we all did.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Our Marching Orders

What do we do depending on how today goes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our country right now is in political turmoil. Assuming the election does end tonight, one side is going to go to bed tonight very very unhappy. As for me, I’m a conservative who has voted Republican all my life and I have kept that up and frankly, today terrifies me. Many of you might not agree, but I do think a Hillary election would be the worst thing to happen to America. Instead of being NeverTrump, I was and am definitely NeverHillary.

Maybe you don’t share my sentiments, but either way, I hope you can understand my own fears. They are fears that have made it difficult for me to sleep at night and left me worrying about the future. We already struggle here economically as it is. Will our situation get worse? This is especially important for those of us, like myself, who are in the non-profit industry. We rely on donations. What happens if those do not come in because people do not have it anymore?

Never mind also that there is a lot of political unrest that I see. Many people, whether they are NeverTrump or not, are angry about the FBI probe and think that we can’t count on the government to look out for us anymore. Add in other concerns like putting justices who will defend abortion on the Supreme Court and the second amendment and our fear of ISIS and there is even greater fear.

What happens if things go negatively? I am fearful that we have reached a boiling point here in America. There is so much unrest that if that one spark comes to light the fuse, I don’t know what will happen to the powder keg that is our country. This election has sadly brought out the worst in us and people on all sides have called into question each other’s Christianity and conservatism.

Yet as I ponder this fear, I try to think back. The early church faced a far worse scene. They had the Roman Empire to deal with and there was no internet they could use to connect to each other, no special advocates for Christianity, and no generations of study on Christianity. They were day-wage earners who for the most part would not have any savings stored up and could often find themselves the target of prison, death, and just outright shaming simply for their religious stance, which was also a direct challenge to Caesar.

Now here’s the sad part.

They probably trusted God far more than you and I do today.

Let’s consider Paul. Paul is in a prison cell and he’s writing letters and what is he writing? He’s writing on how to have joy. Yep. I find it hard enough to do outside of the prison cell. I find it hard to do in a society where I can have pretty much everything that I want. Paul honestly shames me in this regard.

Why is it that Paul could have this attitude? He knew what a difference Jesus made to everything. He saw the world was no longer the same place and the Roman Empire was just a bump on the road to the glory of Jesus. Does that mean he foresaw a day where Constantine, the ruler of the empire, would become a Christian? We cannot know, but we can be sure he was convinced the church of Jesus Christ could never be stomped out. God would not be thwarted.

Why do I not have faith like Paul’s? If I must be honest, and of course that is a requirement for a Christian, I believe it is because I do not really see the difference that Jesus makes. Jesus brought a radical transformation into this world.

Consider what the new atheists often say about morality. If we ask if it’s right for one man to own another as a slave, the new atheists answer the question is obvious. Everyone knows that. The people at the time of Jesus would agree. It’s a simple answer. Certainly, slavery is okay. Our world is built on it. They would be shocked at the new atheists today. Don’t we all know that we have to have this institution?

Why do we accept the idea as obvious today that slavery is wrong? Because we grew up with that Christian background. Many of our moral stances are what we have inherited so long from so many past generations that now we don’t even think about it. Unfortunately, we are seeing this start to come undone. This is especially so in the area of sexual morality with the whole redefining of marriage and the allowance of abortion.

Christianity grew up in a world where slavery, abortion, and homosexual practice were all accepted. Christianity changed it all. If you want to talk about a situation that was hopeless, look at Christianity. If an alien from another planet was watching the world in the first century and was wondering who would be in charge in 300 years, either this ragtag group called Christians or the Roman Empire, they would put their money on the Roman Empire.

They would be wrong.

What did it take for this to happen? The church was the church. Several months ago I was talking with someone who was asking me about where our country was going. What will it take to stop a continual downfall? I gave the answer I always give. The church has to be the church.

What does that mean? We have to literally be Jesus to the world. Now some of you are probably thinking “That means we walk with love and kindness and be good people.” Of course, we should do that, but it is much more than that. We must say Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not and it does not matter who the Caesar is.

The early church worked together in unison and sought to take care of their own and build one another up. We have far more resources to do this today. We have far greater means to do this today. We just don’t have the willpower to do so unfortunately. Too many of us have seen Christianity as an all-about-me scenario.

Despite this, if we are to be the church, we cannot say we will be the church in order to change our country. Christianity is not a means to an end. If we are being Christian and truly living it, the country will change on its own. Why is it that in our country Christianity can be shut down? Because they know that Christians will take it. They won’t dare say the same thing about Radical Islam.

That doesn’t mean we take the Muslim route of using physical violence. Absolutely not. It does mean that we do learn to stand up for ourselves where we can. We don’t be scared to step on toes if we have to. The early church wasn’t. Jesus Himself wasn’t.

Just yesterday, I was dialoguing with someone who I would say is a seeker with questions about Christianity. We talked about the crucifixion of Jesus and the emphasis given was on his teachings, which I think would be his moral teachings. The problem I said is this. Jesus was crucified. If Jesus was just a good moral teacher teaching these feel-good sayings, he would have been at worst a nuisance. He would not be someone that would be worth crucifying.

Yet he was crucified.

Jesus was crucified because He did rock the boat. He was seen as a threat to those in power and He must have done something to earn that attention. He not only was a threat, He went to the direct center of Judaism at the time, Jerusalem, and did it right at the time where He would know He was walking into a death trap. He did it anyway.

If you want to talk about a revolutionary position, Jesus was indeed a revolutionary. He didn’t do it with weapons like a zealot would. He did it by the offering of Himself to fulfill the role of Israel.

Jesus wasn’t afraid to rock a boat. Today, we hesitate to say anything because we are afraid we might “offend someone” or “hurt their feelings.” I do not picture Jesus having this fear at all. I am not at all saying to needlessly offend people, but if you tell the Gospel and tell people they are not in line with Jesus who is the king of this world, then you will offend them.

If we want to see our truly transformed society, it really wouldn’t depend on who got into the White House. It might make it easier for us. It might not. Our marching orders will be the same. We have to be the church.

If Trump wins, what our marching orders? The church has to be the church.

If Clinton wins, what are our marching orders? The church has to be the church.

No matter what happens, the church has to be the church. The Gospel does not need America to flourish, but America needs the Gospel to flourish. Again, we don’t do this because we want our country to flourish if we are Americans, although we certainly should much as the Israelites were even to pray for the well-being of Babylon while in captivity, but we do it because we are Christians. If you are not in America, these are your marching orders wherever you are.

So what will I do tonight? I will strive to be the church. I won’t deny it’s hard. I struggle with my own worry and anxiety and fear, but I have to look at the reality of who God is. He is on the throne. I have to trust and of course, it isn’t easy, but the early church did it with Rome. Why can I not do it here? The problem isn’t with God and it isn’t with Christianity and it isn’t with the government. It is with me.

Today and tomorrow and from now on, be the church. Those are your marching orders.

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

 

ISIS. We Don’t Hate You

What do we say to our enemies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometime in our day and age, it’s hard to be able to show love to your enemies. Many of us remember well 9/11. We remember the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil. We see in our minds the image of people on the upper stories leaping out of the windows. We remember watching those towers come down.

We remember also people coming on the news afterwards trying to tell us that Islam is a religion of peace, and so they have told us. They have told us after every single terrorist attack that has happened. It’s really hard to think that it is and we wonder how we as individuals, not as the political entity of a nation, are to respond to ISIS.

ISIS in their magazine recently put out and article called “Why We Hate You And Why We Fight You.” It’s a real article and you can see it here. A commenter on Mike Licona’s Facebook page said when shared that it would be awesome if someone wrote from a Christian perspective to counter about why we don’t hate them.

Well why not?

First, “We hate you first and foremost, because you are disbelievers, you reject the oneness of Allah.”

Naturally, this is about the Trinity. Of course, we could respond and say that Muslims deny the full deity of the Son of God which would also be blasphemous. Many of them have an idea that Jesus was conceived of some sexual union between God and Mary. Not at all. Still, it’s important to note we wish to honor God properly and to honor the Son as we honor the Father per John 5:23. This will get us into apologetics arguments for why we believe the NT is reliable and why we believe in the highest Christology that we can.

The main difference between us is we think God is best to give out the final judgment rather than us. We like you would rather see you converted than see you dead. That is so much for us that as individuals, we are willing to wait it out and pray for our enemies and bless those who persecute us, per Jesus’s instructions in the Sermon on the Mount.

Second, “We hate you because your secular, liberal societies permit the very things that Allah has prohibited while banning many of the things He has permitted”

Some of these things we’ll agree on actually. We don’t care for the way the homosexual lobby has transformed America. Still, the difference is we don’t want to win over our enemy with the sword. It ultimately won’t convince him. It’s also not allowed in the way of Jesus.

As for separation of church and state, we seek to give a place where everyone can worship freely. That may seem risky to you, but to us, ideally it’s supposed to allow everyone to live in freedom. Here for instance, I disagree thoroughly with your religion of Islam, but I would surely defend the rights of Muslims to build a mosque and worship as they see fit.

Next, we also remember that according to Romans, we were all once enemies of God and living our own lives putting ourselves at the center. Okay. Some of us still struggle with that. We also remember that while we were His enemies, God sent His Son to save us. Our fellow Americans and such who disagree with us are in the same boat. Anyone of them could also follow in the footsteps of Paul for all we know.

Third, “In the case of the atheist fringe, we hate you and wage are against you because you disbelieve in the existence of your Lord and Creator.”

And again, we agree. We don’t care for atheism. The difference is we don’t hate atheists. It’s atheism that is the problem. We also think it’s foolish to deny the reality of a creator and yes, we could all bear to think about our final judgment a lot more. Still, as with the second, we prefer to use the methods of Christ and besides, we’d rather show the idea is just wrong instead of killing those who hold it.

Fourth, “We hate you for your crimes against Islam and wage war against you to punish you for your transgressions against our religion.”

We have seen plenty of this towards us as well. In fact, our own military has burnt Bibles sent to our soldiers. Yet still, this all falls under the second theme. We would rather show that the religion is wrong instead of going the path of warfare.

Fifth, “We hate you for your crimes against Muslims; your drones and fighter jets bombs, kill, and maim our people around the world.”

Based on what came first, I’m quite sure that even if this stopped immediately, you’d still have the same attitude. This goes to what we do as a nation. If we look at nations that have been attacked by Muslims, we take that seriously. If an innocent nation was being attacked, we would also take that seriously. Many of us were living in peace when 9/11 took place. That kind of matter is taken by our government as an act of war and like you, we want to defend our women and children as well.

Sixth, “We hate you for invading our lands and fight you to repel you and drive you out.”

In the West, there is no real desire to build an empire. With our nuclear capabilities, we could have done so easily if we wanted to. We have no desire to wipe you off of the map. We would prefer to see people living in freedom. Still, once again, we are not to hate our enemies. We are to love them.

“What’s important to understand here is that although some might argue that your foreign policies are the extent of what drives our hatred, this particular reason for hating you is secondary, hence the reason we addressed it at the end of the above list. The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam…As much as some liberal journalist would like you to believe that we do what we do because we’re simply monsters with no logic behind our course of action, the fact is that we continue to wage—and escalate—a calculated war that the west thought it had ended several years ago. So you can continue to believe that those ‘despicable terrorists’ hate you because of your lattes and your Timberlands, or you can accept reality and recognize that we will never stop hating you until you embrace Islam.”

And here is where we are different. Your reason for hating us is we don’t embrace Islam. Our reason for loving you is God. God loves you and He loved us even while we were enemies. In fact, His love for us never changed. We didn’t earn it at all. We don’t become Christians so He will love us. We become Christians because He loves us.

And what is that love? It is not sentimental warm fuzzies. It is not what you would see in some Disney movie. It is the active sacrificing of your good for the good of the other. For instance, many of us who are husbands frequently put our own desires on the line for the other. You also know this in saying that you want to protect your women and children. You would be willing to die for your women and children. So are we.

What our nation does as a nation we cannot say. What happens if we are attacked directly could lead into that self-defense, especially with our wives and children at stake. It is nothing we take delight over. It has been said that all good soldiers should hate war but sometimes it is a necessity.

An ultimate difference between us is Jesus is our supreme example whereas yours is Muhammad. Jesus has been our greatest incentive to holiness and a life of true love and sacrifice for one another. No doubt, we fail miserably at times, but we all still seek to try.

Of course, if you want to keep going after us, you’re going to do so and that will just perpetuate the cycle. We would prefer you take the way of Christ. Perhaps you should look into the case for Christianity. What have you to lose? If Islam is true, there is no reason to fear. Start by reading the New Testament. At this, you might ask me if I’ve read the Koran. Indeed I have. I hope to someday soon read some of the hadiths as well. I think it’s part of being informed.

Unfortunately, we suspect you will likely keep going down the same path, but we Christians in America should make it a point to pray for you. Our opponents are not flesh and blood but principalities. It is the ideologies that are our ultimate enemy, not the people who hold them. We hope you’ll see things the same way.

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

 

Royce Mann. I’m Sorry.

Do we need to apologize? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sunday while heading home, my wife and I heard a story on the radio. It involved a 14 year-old who won a prize for best poem. When I heard what he was saying, I was aghast. It was so horrifying to think that someone was already living with this kind of idea. You can read about the story here.

I will quote what the cite has as well from the “poem.”

“Dear women, I’m sorry. Dear black people, I’m sorry. Dear Asian-Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who came here seeking a better life, I’m sorry,” Royce recited. “Dear everyone who isn’t a middle or upper-class white boy, I’m sorry. I have started life on the top of the ladder while you were born on the first rung.”

“When I was born I had a success story already written for me. You — you were given a pen and no paper,” he continued. “I know it wasn’t us 8th-grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day.

“Dear white boys: I’m not sorry,” Royce declared. “I don’t care if you think the feminists are taking over the world, that the Black Lives Matter movement has gotten a little too strong, because that’s bulls—. I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be. Hey white boys: It’s time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It’s time to let go of that fear. It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.”

“I know it wasn’t us eighth grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day. We don’t notice these privileges though, because they don’t come in the form of things we gain, but rather the lack of injustices that we endure.”

Seeing all of this, it got me to want to give my own apology as well.

To Royce Mann,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you have bought into a lie about our great American country. I’m sorry that you think that if you are being successful, it’s not because of the work of you or one of your ancestors, but because you had to be privileged in some way. I’m sorry that you don’t realize that even before the passing of the Civil Rights Act, that the black community was working and growing and building themselves up.

I’m sorry that you think you have to apologize for your existence. You have done nothing wrong. Even if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, that is not wrong. You could use your wealth then to benefit others which is a fine usage of wealth.

I’m sorry that you don’t realize that in this country, you can work and be a success. Even if it’s harder for you, you can do it. My wife and I both have Aspergers, but I sure don’t plan to let that hold me back. If anything, it’s something I want to embrace because it’s part of the uniqueness of who we are.

I’m sorry that you have been lied to by the school district. I see that you have to take a class called “race, class, and gender.” I’m sorry to hear that. I’m sorry to hear the schools are moving away from subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic. I’m sorry that they’re more interested in producing people that think like them instead of people that think.

I’m sorry that your parents aren’t doing anything to stop you from thinking you need to apologize for your existence. You don’t. You do not need to suffer guilt for how or where you were born. What you can do is to decide how you’re going to make the best of it for everyone else.

I’m sorry that you don’t realize you’re in turn being condescending. You’re saying that you have everything you need for success but minority groups don’t so you need to give them sympathy. Why? Are you saying they’re incapable of working hard and succeeding? If so, why would you think that?

I’m also sorry that you did not truly get a reward. Oh I know you took first place, but it wasn’t for you. It was for your judges. They wanted to celebrate that they are so awesome that they produced someone who can say that like you. They see you as a success of their “teaching” instead of someone who is thinking originally.

I’m sorry you have not familiarized yourself with the great poets of the past. You could greatly benefit by reading them. Go back several centuries and read what is there.

I’m sorry you have a problem with being a man as well. Why should a man act like a woman? Your society has sought to feminize you. That’s why we have things like sports games with no winners and look at any act of aggression as one of the worst sins ever. I’m sorry you’ve been a victim of that.

What I’m not sorry about though is that this is America. You can learn from this. You can grow from this. You can study and work hard. I recommend you take advantage of a place called a library. Go and read history about race relations and such. Read about the original women’s suffrage movement here in America.

You should also realize that success is not a crime. In the past, people who were successes would be held up as examples for everyone to follow. Today, it’s still hard to work to be a success, so we usually prefer pulling other people down. We prefer to look for ways that they cheated the system rather than do the hard work ourselves.

It’s understandable really. My work is in apologetics. There are many times I would rather be doing some other things for myself. Of course, we have to take time for play and relaxation, but we can take too much at times. I like to read, but at the same time I sometimes have to work to get myself to read. You know what though? It’s worth it. It’s worth it when I realize that when push comes to shove that I can contribute and that I can be looked up to and admired. It’s worth it when I get to have the chance to get to talk to some of the greatest scholars out there regularly for my show.

Royce. I can tell you that when I was getting ready to go to college, I was told to not go into ministry. You know why? Because I could not handle public speaking. It would be too difficult for me. I should go into engineering or something like that. Nothing against engineering, but I had no passion there. What happened? I went into ministry.

You know what? When I was a senior in Bible College, I gave a senior sermon. That was preached to about 1,000 people. I had no problem with it. Even a year later people were still complimenting me on that sermon. I wish my detractors had been there to see it.

I would also sometimes speak at the Sunday night services. Normally, we were to speak for 15-20 minutes. I spoke for 45 and no one ever complained. Students stayed afterwards even to talk about the Bible.

I have also done a number of debates and I look forward to my next one not knowing when and where it will be. At some other churches I have preached and taught lessons. It’s always a joy. I even spoke at a church once after having my gallbladder removed. I had to have a friend drive me there and to sit the whole time since I couldn’t stand, but it was worth it because I love teaching.

It would be easy to make excuses Royce, but excuses don’t make anything except more failure. It would be easy to blame others, but it won’t change them and it will only make me bitter. In fact, I could say that maybe I do have some natural talents, like a natural inclination towards intelligence, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have to work with that intelligence still.

You see Royce, you do have to work ultimately to be a success. This comes in everything you do in life. I am married right now and I love my wife, but sometimes it is work. You know why? Because my natural inclination is to be a selfish individual that focuses mainly on myself. Being married reminds me of that constantly. I have to learn to die to myself. I have to learn to put my wants aside especially when it comes to my wife’s needs. You know what? It’s worth it. It is so very worth it. My wife is an absolute treasure to me and I really have no mercy on those who hurt her. The worst thing anyone can do to me is to hurt my wife.

As I sit here, I’m surrounded by books. Most of them I have read. I regularly go to the library and read books. For my podcast, I get in touch with major publishers and read the books that they send me and get the authors on my show. That takes time, but it is worth it.

And you know what? You can do the same thing. If you want to make the world a better place, well that’s wonderful, but you’re not going to do it by tearing yourself down. Build others up, and you won’t do that by having them keep think they’re victims of birth. Show them not by an apology but by living a life of success. You don’t benefit anyone by refusing to use the gifts you have to the best of your ability. You don’t benefit anyone either by trying to get them to think that the reason they’re not succeeding in America is because the system is rigged against them.

Stop the apology tour. It helps no one. Start living a life of success. I will be striving to do the same all the more. The best way you can help others is not by having them think they’re victims. It’s by encouraging them to see themselves as successes in the making. Which one are you doing?

In Christ,
Nick Peters