Suicide Never Ends Pain

Does the dark choice truly work? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Those who know me know that I am hardcore into Christian apologetics. Others also know that I am a hardcore gamer. I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. Growing up hasn’t changed that. My wife and I are both gamers and when we turn on YouTube on the TV here, we often like to watch a channel like Game Theory, where we look at video games from a very intellectual perspective examining theories.

Yet yesterday I came home from picking up some prescriptions for her to see her depressed. One of the theorists had killed himself. MatPat who is the main mind behind the channel has a very sad video up about what happened. There are also numerous references at the bottom for people wanting help.

It’s hard to think of people in history of whom people will say “Life is so much better since they killed themselves.” If you think of someone, it would have to be someone like Hitler or some other evil tyrant. Usually, the pain never really ends. It just goes on to everyone else. Years later, people still having gaping holes in their heart and try to think about what they could have done.

The thing is that when we do evil, evil seems to increase. Like a cancer, introduce some evil into a good system, and the evil just multiplies. The same is true of goodness. Share some goodness with those around you, and there will be more goodness spread.

This is a terribly evil choice. Those who do this are sadly caught in their own world and it can be hard to get out and no one’s denying that, but it’s at the same time saying that no one else is worth it or nothing else in all of creation is good enough. It is the ultimate insult to all that is and ultimately then, to God Himself.

Perhaps that’s why in Romans 1 not being thankful is one of the great wrongs listed. Could it be all that is really needed is to sit down and write out the things that someone is thankful for? To really sit and think about them? Each one of those is a great might not have been. None of those were required to exist. That belongs only to God.

Moving back to what Matt describes in the video, he talks about how this was around the birth of his first child. No doubt, that is to be a happy event, but will there always be a shadow hanging over it? Will there be a shadow every time a new video is made?

I don’t believe Matt ever told how his friend killed himself, which is another good thing. Saying how it is done often only leads to copycat crimes. Unfortunately, every case of someone doing it only makes it more likely for those listening to consider the same thing. As said, it multiplies.

What about those of us who aren’t like this? Watch yourself, especially around people who have that tendency. Little things you say could have serious repercussions. Pause to consider how that thought could affect the person. Try to show your love for them intensely. Sometimes all they need is to know that you love them. Never assume that they do know it. Always act as if they didn’t and seek to build that up.

Especially for those of us who are Christians, show Jesus to them. Let the love of Christ penetrate them. If they see people who they believe to be strong Christians living in a way that is not Christian, then what will they think of Christ? Seek to show Him best.

Please if you are considering this, reach out and get help.

If you are in need of help, please reach out: US: 1-800-784-2433, 1-800-273-8255, 1-866-4-U-TREVOR Canada: +1 416-408-4357, +1 514-723-4000 UK: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90, +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 International List: https://bit.ly/Ka8gdC

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What’s The Point of Job?

What is the book supposed to help us understand? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have seen some discussions going on lately in a group I’m in on Facebook on the book of Job. What is going on in it? Sometimes, we go to the book of Job expecting to find the answer to the question of why God allows evil. It’s understandable. That’s what we’ve been told all our lives about it, isn’t it? If you’re going through suffering, try going through Job. It will help.

The question is how. Job never really addresses suffering. Even when God shows up towards the end of the book, God never addresses the suffering of Job. He never tells Job why what happened, happened. Job never saw what happened in the prologue of the book.

Yet the prologue of the book does contain the answer. It’s amazing we look at the book and try to find out what it’s about without maybe looking at the questions asked in the prologue to see what it’s about. It can be summed up easily in the question of the accuser.

Does Job serve God for nothing?

It’s an understandable question to ask. Look at Job. He’s the Bill Gates of his day with money. He’s loaded. He has everything he could ever want. He also has several kids who can carry on his legacy. Job lacks nothing. Why wouldn’t he serve God? Life is good. Job will keep serving God because God has blessed him.

Why does God agree to the challenge of the accuser? To show that there are other reasons for serving God besides blessing and to show that Job is a better man than the accuser thinks he is. Even when Job has lost everything and that includes his health, Job is still righteous in what he does.

In the end when God shows up, Job repents. He realizes that he did speak some things out of turn, but that God is still God and God is to be honored. Job doesn’t have perfect theology, but his theology is good enough. He doesn’t understand the ways of God, but he does understand God is to be honored. Job honors God. Job himself is honored.

God shows this publicly by blessing Job even more. This would be a divine vindication that would take place before everyone’s eyes. Everyone would know that Job had been honored by God as a result of this. Come to think of it, I think another righteous sufferer was honored about 2,000 years ago by a public display before the world….

So what does this book have to say to us today?

Imagine being a Christian and realizing that yes, Jesus did rise from the dead, but that we will not rise. What if you were told that there is no heaven to gain and no hell to shun? This life is all there is.

Will you still serve God?

If not, then do you serve God only for the benefits? Do you not serve God because of who He is and is He not worthy to be served even if He does nothing like that for you? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying blessings, but what if they aren’t there? Will you still serve?

You’re a man who speaks regularly of his love for his wife. Then, an accident occurs. From now on, sex will be out of the picture. Will you still love? Will you still serve? Will you still love?

Why do you serve? Do you serve for the benefits or because it’s the right thing to do?

That is what Job is asking.

Only you can answer that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Suicide And Self-Harm Questions Matter To Me

Why do I take seriously questions relating to self-harm and suicide? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night as I was getting ready to go to bed, I got a question sent to me for a ministry I help answer questions for. It was a question about suicide that also referenced self-harm. The person who passed the question on to me asked me if I was okay to handle it. It was hard, but yes. I was. I did.

Why is it so hard?

Let me tell you about the worst day of my life.

When I met Allie years ago, she had actually just recently before then had a suicide attempt over a guy who was a jerk to her. When I met her, she thought she could make it right with him. That changed quickly. Before too long, she didn’t care about making it right with him. She was interested in me.

So go back a few years ago. I know the date. I don’t want to tell you for my own reasons. I had just got done with a podcast. Allie and my Dad and I were going to go to the movies. I went to see her and was talking to her and she was being quiet. Something seemed strange. I told her I needed to go to the drugstore and she still seemed out of it. Then I heard her say three words that ripped my world apart.

“Nick. I overdosed.”

At that moment, everything comes crashing down. I called 911 instantly in a panic. Fortunately, there was a fire station about a mile away from where we lived. I was calling everyone. I called her parents. I called my parents. My parents lived next door and my mother ran down and jumped on the bed and begged Allie to keep her eyes open.

The firefighters and ambulance that arrived assured us she was going to be okay. They were taking her to the hospital. My Dad and I would follow in his car. Mine had recently been hit by someone and thus I didn’t have one. When my Dad said we would follow the ambulance, I had no idea how literal he meant that. We followed right behind them the whole time through intersections and red lights even.

Allie had multiple people waiting to see her in the waiting room as we had called so many people on the way. Sadly, most of them did not get to see her. I was restless the whole time wondering when I would get to see her. When the time came, I went back there. Of all the people who were allowed to be in the room, two at a time. I was the one who was there the whole time. Her mother also arrived from Atlanta and stayed with her.

I stayed that night with Allie all night long. I didn’t get any sleep. I had to sit in a chair and someone had to come in regularly and turn the lights on to do things like draw blood and other such things. I don’t remember exactly what was done, but I remember being there. The next day, my parents took me home so I could get some sleep for a little while.

I went back that evening and just stayed by her side. We knew sometime they were going to take her to the mental health wing of the hospital. It could have been that night. We didn’t know. When that happened, I couldn’t be with her. The time came that I needed to go. Allie wanted me to stay, but it wasn’t that easy. I had no car. If they took her to the mental health wing, then I would be there at the hospital all night alone with no food and no place to sleep. Not only that, Allie had done this because she felt like two friends of hers had abandoned her. If I go, will she feel abandoned?

It was a hard decision, but I went home. An hour or so later she called me. I was scared she was going to be angry with me. Instead, she said I was right. Within an hour they had taken her to the mental health wing. From there, for the most part, I couldn’t reach her. She could call me sometimes, but they were the rare times.

So I sat at home alone. Many of you know I love doing apologetics, but there was no interest. I would sit in the chair in the living room just watching TV. My mother took care of everything in the house. Also, this time, there was a lot of anger rising up inside of me.

I couldn’t imagine how Allie could do this to me. How could she be willing to leave me like this after all I had done for her? Did these friends matter more to her than me? Was she just telling me that I was no longer worth it? I’m not a good enough reason to go on living?

I remember well the next time I would see her. Allie was taking Dialectical Behavioral Therapy at the hospital. There was a long hall to get to where she was and at the end there was a set of doors with windows you could see through, a short tiny hallway, and another set of doors like that. Now keep in mind, I love Allie, but I was going to tell her how hurt I was and all manner of things. I had a lot of anger in me and I was preparing all I was going to say. It was ready.

Until I went through the first set of doors and saw her at the end of the long hallway after that. As soon as I saw her, immediately I had a mental wipe. I forgot everything I was going to say.

We walked back to the mental health wing. Allie had been allowed to go out for DBT, but soon she would have to go back. We sat on a little bench outside and did I don’t remember what. I’m sure it was talking, hugging, kissing, things of that sort. Once again, it was devastating to see her go back and know I couldn’t see her.

You have to understand that I have a deep devotion to my wife. If things are not the way I think they should be between us, it’s hard for me to function. It is a great disappointment in my life when I think that I do not please Allie. I am always striving to be her man.

A few days later, Allie was able to come home. When she was home, it was wonderful for the first month. Allie was wanting to take care of the house, she was wanting to lose the extra weight she has, she was sharing great notes on Facebook about the joys of knowing Jesus and wanting everyone to know Him, and she was open to my love and freely giving me hers. She walked with a confidence I hadn’t seen. It left me more and more inspired to make changes in my life and be a better man. Ladies. Learn this. If you have a man in your life, nothing will make that man come alive and face challenges like him knowing he brings you joy and you enjoy him.

Except one day, one of those friends she’d thought she’d lost. He had made up with her and then on Facebook he told her she was stupid and from that time on things came crashing down. It all vanished. I do not speak to that person to this day. Before we left Knoxville, I tried to make it right, but things failed miserably. I had to talk to several people to help me deal with the anger. No doubt, there’s still some of it there. Anytime I see someone hurt Allie like this, that anger comes back. I guard her with my life.

Allie also struggles with self-harm. The last time was not too long ago and it was after nearly nine months without. When I found out, I cried for two hours. When I called the crisis line, they were more convinced I was the one in crisis. I don’t care if you think I’m less of a man really for crying for my wife so much. It is an expression of how much she means to me. I had no idea how much any one person could mean to me until Allie came into my life. Today, aside from Jesus Christ, she is the #1 influence in my life.

It hurts me every time. I wonder what is going on that hurting herself brings more relief than letting herself be loved. It is incredibly painful. I am pleased to say Allie has avoided self-harm since then, but I know this is a struggle.

Because of all of this, these questions matter to me. Suicide is never anything to joke about. It’s never anything to be flippant about. It’s also never anything to be glorified and celebrated. We should not treat celebrities who commit suicide like they’re heroes. We can grieve for them and their families, and it doesn’t mean we speak of them like they’re devils, but let’s make sure we all know the action is wicked.

If Allie had succeeded, I know I had the thought going through my head that I was no longer worth it. I would have lived with that thought forever. Suicide leaves such a painful effect on those left behind. They do get to where they can function, but they are never the same.

If you are considering suicide or know someone who is, please reconsider. Get some help at the Suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Call your local crisis line also. Whatever it is, it is a temporary problem.

Especially if you are a Christian, embrace the love of Christ at this time and realize that even if He seems silent, He is there. He has not abandoned you. You never truly walk alone.

Whoever you are, your life is worth living. You also never need to hurt yourself. Christ took on enough wounds for you. You don’t need to add any more to them. You matter as someone who is in the image of God.

Please don’t make this awful choice. You have more of an impact on those around you than you know and they will never be the same. Celebrate the people who love you today.

When I get a question now about this, I always take it seriously. It matters greatly. I’ve been there. I don’t want anyone else to have to be there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Chapter 23

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

Chapter 23 looks at work done by Jonathan Witt on the idea of bad design. I see this as a defensive work on Witt’s part. It’s not theism going on the offensive, but on the defensive. If theism is true, why do we see instances of what is thought to be bad design?

As a non-scientist and a non-IDist, there is not much for me to respond to. However, one point I do want to address is something Jelbert says about Witt’s work. Jelbert does show that Scripture speaks about creation as the work of God such as in Psalm 139, Genesis 1:31, and Romans 1:20. However, we must remember the Biblical authors are not blind. Yes. Humans are fearfully and wonderfully made, but they knew more about child mortality from experience than we do. When a child is born today, it’s generally assumed the mother will survive and that all things being equal, the child will grow up and live a natural life.

Not so for them. Many times a mother would die in childbirth and you would want to have many kids because not all of them would live long lives. The authors are not writing though to give an answer to the problem of evil, but because there is still something grand to them in creation.

Jelbert says that God’s involvement appears to be capricious. Things look to be callous and random. Events happen that do no good and bring no redemption and don’t appear to fulfill a grand plan. They do not show that God is in charge of this drama. Jelbert says Witt will fall on God’s mysteriousness again or some other divine attribute.

Let’s notice something here. Not a single objection here is scientific. It is all theological. It is saying that if the God of the Bible existed or even the God of classical theism, He would not allow this or there is no good reason why He should allow it. How is this known? Where does Jelbert get this theological knowledge?

Something else sad about this is that this is part of the logical problem of evil that even the majority of atheist philosophers will admit has been answered. Alvin Plantinga did it decades ago with a little book called God, Freedom, and Evil. It’s important to note that one does not need to demonstrate the answer to why a certain event happened. One has to show that it is just possible that God has a good reason for allowing it. We don’t have to know what that reason is. Jelbert has the burden of proof here. It’s up to him to show that there is no good reason for this to happen.

Jelbert can call it a cop-out to say God is mysterious or something like that, but why think any of us should know all that God knows? If God is real, He has far more knowledge than we could ever have of why events are happening. Jelbert has simply said that things seem a certain way. He has to demonstrate it or else his argument fails.

Now he could go another route and say that it seems unlikely that a good God would exist and that is something else altogether, but it is no longer the hard case. If he went that route, I would reply with the Thomistic arguments, which are not addressed in the book it looks like, and of course the resurrection of Jesus, which we will get to later. I just have to answer one and it is not a deductive argument. The Thomistic arguments are deductive and thus more powerful.

I walk away from this chapter unconvinced. Jelbert has not demonstrated his theological claims. It’s interesting that in a section purported to be about science, we have more about theology instead.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Reflections On The Pain

What have I been thinking on since the accident? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Since the accident Thursday, there’s been a lot going on. We do have a car now, but I’ve mainly been thinking about all the pain that I’ve been in. It’s quite interesting that the real pain that came did not show up immediately at the hospital. It came later.

For instance, it was either Friday or Saturday night that I started developing a headache. Well, that’s not to big a deal. Unfortunately, it was and has been. For instance, pause in what you are doing. Look to your left and look to your right.

I can’t do that.

Seriously. I have to use my peripheral vision. I can’t turn my head one way or the other, not without some incredible strain and pain. If I go to bed to lie down or come from there to get up, both are painful. Moving to another side can be killer if not impossible. Having my head bent at any angle induces great pain.

It has been getting better, but it’s still killer. This is something that I think on and realize that even a simple action like looking to the side is something that can be taken for granted. I did in the past and now it would be a dream to get to do any of those without pain.

Sometimes I have to go and as painful as it is, just lie down. This is something I don’t like doing. I never take naps. I am always active and doing something. When those times come, Allie usually gives me a nice neck massage and puts some icyhot on my neck. (Okay. The massages are a nice benefit of this.)

We’ve been avoiding driving even with the car because the pain is too intense. I do take Ibuprofen, but it is never strong enough. When I wake up in the night, the first thing that I feel is the pain. After some time from the neck massage and such, I can usually go a few hours without, but it doesn’t last long.

As a Christian, I wonder about this. I don’t think God created a pain-free world in the beginning. Our nervous systems were designed to be able to experience pain and I don’t hold to perfection. Still, at times like this I wish some modifications were made. It’s not like I can do anything about this. I keep wondering what purpose my prolonged pain serves.

Yet at the same time, could I not be making a mistake in thinking God has to be teaching me something and as soon as I repent, the pain will go away? That’s the mistake of Job’s friends isn’t it? Could these things happen just because that’s the way the world was set up from the beginning? Could this be giving me something to look forward to in the full coming of the Kingdom when there will be no headaches and there will be no neck pain?

I wrote about how it is that I can take my own wife for granted. Do I not take other things for granted? Do I not take a life without headaches or being able to turn a certain way for granted? What other things am I taking for granted? What if I had lost the ability to walk or the ability to type on my computer or anything like that? Should I not consider what James says? Any good and perfect gift comes from the Father above?

I don’t think it’s wrong to pray to God and beg Him to remove my pain, and I hope readers will do that with me, but should I not consider my many reasons to be thankful? Isn’t that what we often do in suffering? We look at one instance of suffering which could be genuine and bad, and look at that and discount all the good that comes into our lives?

When I am past this, and I hope it’s soon, will I ever be the same way where I will look at lying down and getting up and not take them for granted? Will I have a headache someday and say “I would rather have this than the ones I had after the accident?” Will I go through the day without taking Ibuprofen and be thankful? Will I drive my car without being in pain and able to look both ways and rejoice?

Pain is seen as something that tells us the world is not as it should be, and we look forward to a day without it, but today, I think I should try to learn through it. Instead of seeing it as an adversary to be defeated, maybe see it as a companion on the journey encouraging me to count my blessings. Maybe I should realize that there are many more blessings I have in my life that I might have missed were it not for it? Maybe it should teach me to slow down and spend less time doing things that don’t matter and spend more time doing things that do matter.

Still, while all of that could be true, I do want your prayers very much. Allie and I have experienced great generosity from friends who have given us gifts or offered us gifts. It’s been fascinating to know we mean so much to so many people. Many people have got in touch to check on us and we are grateful to all of you.

Please pray for me. I want to return to relative normality soon.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

We Remember

How shall we honor this Memorial Day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was going to do a book review, but I figure today it is better to write about Memorial Day. Today, we honor and remember those who gave their lives. This day is actually not about having barbeques, which is fine with me because I don’t eat burgers anyway and I’ve never cared for barbeques.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating such a day, but too many of us just see today as a three-day weekend. We are talking about the deaths of real human beings who died on the field of battle. These are real human beings who are not going to be able to have the barbeques with us anymore. They left behind spouses, kids, friends, parents, etc. Some events today will have empty chairs sitting at the table. Those chairs will never be filled this side of eternity.

Death is a really serious thing and sometimes we miss that. It’s easy to when we live in an age where you know that the actor in the movie isn’t really dead. We also live in an age where you can get extra lives on that game you’re playing or you can just hit the reset button. It’s fine for fantasy, but real life doesn’t work that way. There are no cheat codes or stunt doubles in real life like that. Death is very real.

As Christians, we can mourn, but we do not mourn like those who have no hope as Paul said. We mourn not for them, but for ourselves and for the loved ones of those who have gone on. This past week as readers know, my wife and I both could have lost each other when a car accident took place. We are not taking that for granted.

Every life is precious and every one of us is a great “might-not-have-been.” We all can contribute something to this world. Maybe you won’t see your name in lights this side of eternity, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have something to contribute. For all we know, the Joe Blows of this world could one day receive a greater honor than the Billy Grahams for doing the most with what they had. We don’t know.

Today then, my thanks goes out to all those who sent loved ones onto the battlefield knowing that it could be the last time they were ever seen. We mourn your loss, though definitely not to the extent that you do. We appreciate the great gift that you have given us. Many men and women sacrificed their lives so that we would not have to live in fear of losing ours to a number of evil causes.

Today if you are celebrating today, by all means, celebrate, but remember that today is more than a day off of work. It is a day meant to remember actual flesh and blood people who have died. Please take some time to remember them today and be thankful for the many blessings that you have that you are prone to take for granted.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Reflections On The Accident

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

If you’ve been on Facebook and seen my page or my wife’s page, my wife and I were in a car accident yesterday. I didn’t see a car coming and my wife’s side got Tboned. We had an ambulance come and take us to the hospital.

As soon as it happened, our airbags deployed. I don’t even remember seeing it, but Allie says she saw it all. They told us to turn the car off, but the key had been broken off and we couldn’t do that. Our car is totaled then.

In the ambulance, we rode together. Allie was lying on a bed and I was strapped to something to make sure my back was okay due to my scoliosis. I would reach over and hold Allie’s hand while we were riding. I also talked to the EMT. Allie was wanting me to be quiet, but didn’t say anything. I’m just trying to process everything and was asking questions to distract myself with conversation.

We got in and were put in separate rooms. Time seemed to drone on and on. I kept rethinking over and over about what happened. I didn’t really know. I was beating myself up for it majorly. My mother-in-law was coming to see us and I was thinking that I would get something about being more careful and such. I didn’t need it. I was beating myself up enough.

When Allie came to see me in her wheelchair, I held her hand but I cried. I was so sad thinking about what could have happened. Here is the most wonderful person in my life and I could have lost her.

I went in for X-rays then and I was trying to talk with the nurses taking care of me. I’m usually trying to make an impression and one thing I did was my birthday game. That’s where I get someone’s birthday and then I tell them what day of the week they were born on.

The whole time it was really hard to just feel helpless. It’s nothing I really like as a guy. I hated lying there and it was harder and harder for me I think because I wasn’t moving my body which was making it stiffer. I did ask for my book and a pen so I could circle anything I like.

I wasn’t able to do much theological thinking. I was wanting to, but the pain was too intense. Not knowing is something dreadful. I was sure I was okay because I had been walking around, but with scoliosis, better safe than sorry.

I had gone to the bathroom a few hours earlier and needed to go. They asked if I wanted something brought to me I could use or if I wanted to just go myself to the restroom. We live in an apartment complex and live on the third story, the top one. I told them I will have to get up and be walking soon so I might as well now. They did wheel me over and into the restroom, but everything else was me from that point on.

It had been awkward being handled by everyone else. For instance, I remember it being clear to me they were wanting to take my shirt off and slip a gown on me. I didn’t have much trouble with that and I was trying to work together with them.

One nurse came in with the name of Frances. I said, “Like Assisi, the patron saint of animals.” She said I must be Catholic since I knew that. Nope. Protestant. I just read a lot.

The evening was really rough. Allie and I didn’t sleep well. I would also keep imagining the scene over and over and thinking about what happened. I have felt awful. I know people say to not beat yourself up, and we all know that’s good advice, but we’re also not good at following advice.

Sometimes we’d both wake up and just talk to each other affirming how much we love each other and how thankful we are to be together. I’d say there are a lot of embraces, but we’re too sore to do that. I told Allie this morning that this is what it could be like for us when we’re an elderly couple.

I also remember thinking about my desire to be the man there. I want to push myself through everything to be the strongest that I can be and better take care of my wife. Like I said, I hate being helpless.

Chesterton said each of us is a great might-not-have-been. Yesterday, that could have been Allie and I. Our concerns now are getting better and finding good financial support to get a new car for us.

Either way, we are both blessed. When the accident occurred, it’s amazing what you think about. You don’t think about wanting to play a video game or watch a show or something like that. You think about the people you love. For me, that was mainly thinking about Allie. I was wanting to do all I could to make sure she was okay and trying to assure myself that I am still a good husband for Allie. The tendency is still there to beat myself up.

Coming close to losing something makes you appreciate how important it is. Never lose sight of that. James 4 tells us that we shouldn’t make presumptions on time. If it is God’s will, we will do such and such. None of us is owed another minute. God is in no debt to us. The only things He has to give are those things which He’s already promised. Everything else is a gift. Today is a gift. Your loved ones are gifts.

Allie and I wish to thank everyone who was reaching out to us. Please watch our Facebook pages to stay informed. Also, my wife wrote something on this. You can read that here. We also do have a way to donate to Deeper Waters on the sidebar of this blog if you want to help us out.

Please keep us in your prayers as we recover.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Celebrating Goodness

Is there good in the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you do Christian apologetics for any time, you will come across the problem of evil. If there is really a good God who made this world, why is there so much evil? This is a good question to ask, but I wish to focus on one Chesterton would have said back. If there is no God, why is so much that is in this world good?

We could understand how our bodies need food. We would not understand why it is it would taste good. We understand we need to drink. Why did it have to be refreshing? Why do there have to be so many colors in the world? The human species has to reproduce to survive. That does not explain why sex has to be so awesome and fun.

Why are there good things? Most of us do share some broad agreement as to what is good. This does not mean that all good things are good all the time. This is the problem of addiction. There is nothing in themselves wrong with food, sex, or alcohol. There is something wrong when these are made the ultimate.

Pleasure is not the idea of the devil. It’s the idea of God. 1 Tim. 6:17 tells us God gives us all things richly for our enjoyment. When I did my senior sermon at my Bible College, I did it on wonder and someone suggested I use a Moody Magazine story that was a cover story called “Is It Right To Enjoy My Life?” What a shame when we think Christianity teaches that one should not enjoy life.

I encourage you also to take a look at simple pleasures in your life today and give thanks for them. I thought about this last night when I was going to bed and getting some water that I keep by my side. Water is something good and refreshing and we are fortunate today that for us, it’s so free and accessible.

I have a library all around me that many people in the ancient world would have loved to have had. I can access still more books at the local library and can carry around several on a Kindle. I have food in the cabinets. I can do evangelism by blog, podcats, Facebook, etc. in ways that St. Paul could have only dreamed of.

You all know I won’t forget I have a beautiful wife who loves me and who I get to love. That is a truly unique treasure. It is the great one that I celebrate regularly.

And of course, there is salvation in Jesus Christ. I am forgiven. God is with me in life and death.

When we go to small group at our church, we meet at the house of one of the couples and there is something in their bathroom that says “Believe there is good in the world.” There is. When you believe that, you ultimately have to come to God and thank Him for His goodness. Every good thing you have, it is a gift. You did not earn it. You do not deserve it. You could not do anything for God that He would be obligated to give it to you. It is all a gift.

Live as if you are blessed, because you are.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Part 21

What do I think of Jelbert’s critique of Richard Spencer? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Glenton Jelbert of Evidence Considered is now looking at Richard Spencer’s essay on if Intelligent Design necessitates Optimal Design. As readers know, I have no interest in the science portion. It doesn’t bother me and I have no reason to support Intelligent Design. Still, I am interested in the philosophy and theology involved.

For instance, Jelbert says Spencer is trying to explain why the world looks as if it did if there was no God by positing natural causes. This isn’t a scientific objection, but a theological one. It is saying that if God exists, then He will not work through what Aristotle called instrumental causes. He will work directly. How does Jelbert know this?

In the Middle Ages when science really began to take off, they had no problem with filling int he gaps. Jelbert’s argument might work for a God of the Gaps style approach, but that is really a historical latecomer. The medievals actually believed they were showing the genius of God by showing how He went about working the universe.

Consider also a miracle like the Jordan river stopping when it did for the Israelites to pass through. Treat the story as true for the sake of argument. Does it cease to be a miracle when it is found that this event has happened with the waters of the river stopping before? Not at all. The miracle is not just that it happened but that it happened when it happened and resumed when it did.

Later on, Spencer says that we do not fully understand the mind of God and why He does what He does. This should be a given on theism and atheism. If God exists, it should be granted no one can know His mind entirely. Jelbert says that this is also theistic agnosticism. God cannot be known. But why? Jelbert points to terms like omnipotence and omniscience and such being meaningless. His source is George Smith’s Atheism: The Case Against God.

Smith does agree that a contradiction should be impossible regardless, but how does he establish a problem with omnipotence. An omnipotent being is one who is said to be capable of violating His nature. For a Thomist though, this is not a sign of power, but a sign of weakness. We are left wondering what this would entail. This also means God does not violate His other attributes like goodness and love. Omnipotence cannot make evil to be good.

For omniscience, we have the old chestnut that if God knows the future, God causes the future. Most Arminians will grant that God knows the future. I will certainly agree to that. That does not mean that God’s knowledge is the causal factor in what I will do.

Now if anyone really wanted to study the doctrine of God and see how he works, pick up some good tomes on systematic theology. My favorite, of course, is the Summa Theologica. Saint Thomas Aquinas goes in-depth on the doctrine of God and what each attribute means.

Another part worth talking about is how Jelbert looks at cases of design such as food going down the same area we breathe through. Spencer says he does not know what God does and why. This should really be an unproblematic statement. Of course not. Unless God tells us something directly, we don’t know why He does things. We can guess, but we cannot know for certain.

Yet Jelbert makes an interesting statement. Spencer says that often in suffering, we find a greater closeness to God. Jelbert says he cannot see how this comes about through watching your baby choke on a grape.

Sure, Jelbert can’t see it, but how does it follow that it cannot happen? Jelbert said earlier that the mind of God isn’t known and yet Jelbert seems to imply that there can be nothing in that mind that can use that for good. Not only that, there is a greater problem here.

Jelbert says if you remove theism, the problem disappears. After all, sometimes bad things will just happen. There is no purpose in the baby choking to death on a grape.

On atheism, that’s true. There is no purpose in a baby choking on grape. We could say that the solution has come until you also realize that in atheism, there is no purpose in the baby to begin with. There’s no purpose in the baby choking, but there’s no purpose in the baby having healthy breathing either.

In essence, the problem is dealt with, but it’s dealt with by saying not that there is just no purpose to the choking, but there’s no purpose to anything. Now a pair of atheist parents can have purposes for why they want children and purposes they want for their children, but in the words of Linkin Park, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. The whole universe is without purpose and just making one up won’t change reality.

One cannot help but think of what Bertrand Russell said in A Free Man’s Worship.

Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins–all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

All he needed to say after that was “Oh, and have a nice day.”

I recommend Jelbert simply read the accounts of Christians who have gone through great tragedy, including the death of a child, and see how it is used for good. Now, this stuff is not good to be sure, but it is used for good. Jelbert can want to say all day long that there is no purpose or good that can come from it, but he needs to show that, not just assert it.

We’ll continue later.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/28/2018: Douglas Groothuis

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

Into each life a little rain must fall. Sometimes it can be a little trickle. At other times, it’s more of a torrent. Yet for some, it can seem like the Noahic flood has come again. Many of us out there have a hard enough time handling suffering, but when it comes to the suffering of the people we love, that is far worse. There is hardly any person in life someone loves more than their spouse.

So it is with my guest who has had his wife diagnosed with a terminal illness that also saps her mental functions from her. He has seen her going on a downward spiral unable to do anything about it. He has gone through the pain of lamenting and at times outright hating of God. If God is so good, why is He allowing this to happen?

There are no easy answers to that question. One knows the suffering is temporary, but it feels eternal. It is a difficulty as well when you’re a Christian apologist who has every reason to know Christianity is true. It could be at such times you’re not scared that there is no God. You’re more scared that there is a God and that this is what He’s like.

My guest is here to talk about what that suffering is like and to hopefully offer hope to others who are suffering. He has watched his beloved wife Becky go through this disease and see the woman he has loved all his life go through one of the worst changes he can imagine. How does he handle it? How does one possibly cope? What do you do when you have hatred of God in you?

Douglas Groothuis is my guest and we will be talking about that.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Dr. Douglas Groothuis is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, Evangelical Philosophical Society, and Society of Christian Philosophers. Dr. Groothuis received a PhD and a BS from the University of Oregon, and an MA in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has served as adjunct professor at Seattle Pacific University, visiting instructor in apologetics for Westminster Theological Seminary, and instructor at the University of Oregon.

What’s it like to go through the suffering? What happens when you see the person you love going through something and you’re powerless to help them? How do you continue to serve God and not only serve Him but defend Him against accusations when internally you have a load of accusations yourself?

I hope you’ll be joining me for this episode. This will be a hard hitting one and there will be much suffering involved. It will be a very difficult topic and I’m thankful to Dr. Groothuis for being willing to come on and share his heart with us. I hope you’ll be watching for this next episode and please be willing to go and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters