Deeper Waters Podcast 8/11/2018: Michael Heiser

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

The divine council is a theme that occurs from time to time in the Old Testament. When we go to Genesis early on, we can see a few times it takes place in Genesis 1-11. These passages can sometimes be read in the sense of a royal we, but maybe they mean something else. When King Ahab is considering going off to battle and God has in mind to entice him to do it so he will die there, we see a divine council taking place. When we read Psalm 82, we get told about God sitting among the gods and saying to certain people, “I have said that you are gods.” Jesus even quotes this passage in John 10.

What is going on in these passages? Is there an Ancient Near Eastern motif that we’re missing? Is the Bible teaching polytheism? Could these passages somehow influence how we witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons? After all, Mormons seem to enjoy going to these passages to show a plurality of gods. Are they right? If there is a plurality of gods, how will that help with Jehovah’s Witnesses who are adamant monotheists? Besides, aren’t Christians supposed to be monotheists also?

To discuss these passages and how they interact with these groups, I am having a guest come on that many people have requested over the years and he was very willing to come on. We wanted him back in December, but a blizzard came through in his area unfortunately and shut down the power. Hopefully, all will go well this time. My guest will be Michael Heiser. So who is he?

According to his bio:

Michael S. Heiser (M.A., Ancient History, University of Pennsylvania; M.A., Ph.D., Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison) taught at the college level for twelve years before accepting a position at Logos Bible Software with a focus on producing ancient text databases and other digital resources for study of the ancient world and biblical studies. He is now the Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software (Faithlife Corp.) and a regular contributor to Faithlife’s Bible Study Magazine. He has also published widely in scholarly journals and is a best-selling author. His books include: The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (Lexham, 2015)Supernatural: What The Bible Teaches About The Unseen World and Why It Matters (Lexham, 2015); Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ (Defender, 2017); Angels: What The Bible Really Says About the Heavenly Host (Lexham, 2018); and the 60-Second Scholar series: Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Study (Zondervan, 2018);  Brief Insights on Mastering the Bible (Zondervan, 2018);  Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Doctrine (Zondervan, 2018). 

Heiser advocates that interpreting the Bible in context means reading it in light of the context that produced it instead of Christian tradition or modern thinking. Readers discover a radical new relevance and coherence when they read the Bible through the eyes of its writer. Years ago, this passion for convincing readers of the importance of an ancient worldview prompted Dr. Heiser to create The Naked Bible blog and the popular Naked Bible Podcast. Dr. Heiser’s non-profit ministry (MIQLAT.org) provides translations of his work free of charge in over a dozen languages and has partnered with AllAboutGod.com to create the new YouTube Channel FringePop321, which seeks to engage people attracted to new age and popular fringe beliefs. To that end Dr. Heiser has also written two science fiction novels (The FacadeThe Portent) and hosts a podcast dedicated to discussing peer-reviewed research on these subjects (PEERANORMAL).

I hope you’ll be joining us for this episode as we talk about these topics. Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s really inspiring to see how many people like the show.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Answering Vox Day On The Trinity

Does Matthew 24:36 refute the Trinity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A reader sent me this piece from Vox Day wanting to get my input on it. Vox is a smart guy and has written going after the new atheists, though it was a book I never got around to reading. Yet here, the argument really isn’t the best. It’s one of the common arguments used against the Trinity.

Go to Matthew 24:36 and Jesus doesn’t know the day or the hour of His second coming. (My Preterist self wants to be clear it’s not about His return. That’s something else.) Not only do we have to explain the Son, but what about the Holy Spirit. Why isn’t He listed?

There are two options here. The Son is a simple case I think. The Son took on a sort of kenotic emptying as in Philippians 2. This was not an emptying of His deity. It was an emptying I think of the prerogative to use His divine attributes apart from His mission. It wasn’t necessary that the Son know the time of the events. All He had to say was it would be within this generation.

This has been the traditional understanding for quite some time and let me state that to argue against the Trinity is to argue against the wisdom of the major traditions of Christianity for thousands of years. Of course, there are some passages that are hard to understand, but there are far far more that are harder to understand otherwise. I don’t expect Vox to go and do a full look at every passage. It’s appropriate to bring up one concern at times.

Yet this doesn’t answer about the Holy Spirit. Shouldn’t the Holy Spirit know the date of the second coming? For this, there are two answers.

The first is that the Spirit submits to the Father and to the Son so there could be some limitations that the Spirit takes on as well when the Son goes on His mission. This isn’t because of the Spirit taking on humanity, but the Spirit working in tandem with the Son in the same kind of way. The Spirit would not be revealed this.

Another is to look at a passage like 1 Cor. 2:11. No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. This would mean that the Holy Spirit would be included in the identity of the Father. We could also ask if God the Father would be ignorant of something since in Rev. 19 the Son of Man comes riding a white horse with a name no one knows save Jesus Himself.

Vox would not likely have a problem with this since he does not accept divine omniscience. I do. Still, while it might not be that either of my interpretations can be proven to be the right one, they are both I think viable interpretations of the text and better in line with what has been taught throughout the church. If someone wants to go against a doctrine all three branches of Christianity agree on, I think the burden is highly on them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sharing The Good News With Mormons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/7/2018: Eric Johnson

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

You and your spouse are sitting at home on a Saturday morning. It’s a time to relax so you sit on the couch together, turn on some Netflix, and start watching a movie. In the middle of your show, the doorbell rings. You’re not expecting anyone. You look through the peephole of your door to see who it is and see two men dressed very nicely and wearing name tags with the title “Elder” on them.

You know these guys. They’re Mormons. They have an extensive campaign to spread the good news of Mormonism to people all over the world and now they’ve come to your place.

But do you really know about them? Who are the Mormons? What do they believe? There are many people in the church today who look at them as just another denomination. You have Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. You have Baptists and Presbyterians and Methodists. You also have Mormons. They really aren’t that different, are they?

Some people don’t think so. Among them are Sean McDowell and Eric Johnson. They have edited a book together on how to share the good news with Mormons. It has a number of approaches from a number of different apologists to use to reach your Mormon friends. Eric Johnson will be my guest on this Saturday’s show to talk about it.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Eric Johnson has been a student of Mormonism since 1987 when he served with Youth with a Mission at a summer Utah outreach. Eric graduated from San Diego State University (1985, BA in Journalism) as well as at Bethel Seminary San Diego (1991, Master’s of Divinity). Eric cohosts the daily radio program Viewpoint on Mormonism  and writes for MRM’s Mormonism Researched newsletter. He is the co-author of Answering Mormons’ Questions: Ready Responses for Inquiring Latter-day Saints (Kregel, 2013), Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Baker Book, 2015), Mormonism 101 for Teens (MRM, 2016) as well as serving as a co-editor of Sharing the Good News with Mormons(Harvest House, 2017). Eric served as an associate editor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (B&H, 2010) and is a regular contributor to the Christian Research Journal. Eric taught high school Bible classes for 17 years (1993-2010) at Christian High School (El Cajon, CA) and 8 years as an adjunct English professor at Grossmont College (El Cajon,CA); in addition, he instructed classes at Bethel Seminary San Diego. Eric is married to Terri; together they have three daughters: Carissa, Janelle, and Hannah and live in the Salt Lake City area.

We’ll be talking about the Mormons and how you can better reach them. We will discuss a plethora of techniques as well as what Mormons believe and who they are. Are they really Christians like us and is this just Christians going after another Christian group?

I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Please be watching your feed for this one to show up. If you haven’t done so yet, please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Sharing Jesus With The Cults

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

Jason Oakes has written a good book on helping to understand the cults. The book is divided into a number of sections to help with the process. All of these involve different tactics that one can use in dealing with the cults.

The main group probably focused on is Mormons due to the author’s personal experience with Mormons. Looking at each group will provide a good overview of the group and what they believe. There is also the citation of numerous sources that can help with this and many of them will be from sources more favorable towards the cult than not.

You will also find out about many cults that you had not heard of until reading this. I certainly did, and I do try to keep up. There are also many cults that are still left to explore so let’s not think one book can cover them all. Oakes would agree with that as well and I think would say this book is a gateway book meant to get you looking and have enough information to get started on any one cult.

Oakes also rightly emphasizes the importance of building up the Bible. There are too many people that leave the cults and have no foundation and then become atheists and agnostics. For instance, Mormonism has often said that if the church is not true, then nothing is.

That being said, there are a few criticisms.

For one thing, there can be a number of typos in the book. It’s still for the most part easy to know what the author is trying to say, but it’s still a problem. A good proofread would be a great aid here.

I also do not understand the usage of the KJV. I thought perhaps this could be done since Mormons rely on the KJV, but I’m not sure. I know there are a few places where the KJV is cited that I think are quite spurious. This includes the long ending of Mark and the Johannine Comma.

I also understand wanting the Bible to match with science, but I find it problematic that that has to be YEC. This is also so because I do not know of anyone who by studying the science alone has come to the conclusion that the Earth is young. I am one who does not think the Bible is meant to be read as a science book and if we do so, we can miss the real message.

Still, there is good information here to be found for those who are looking. If you just wanted to get a book that would give you a good overview of many of the cults today and what they believe and questions that you can ask them, this would be a good place to begin. From there, one can go to in-depth works on any number of the cults that one has a particular interest in and a desire to reach.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/16/2018: Jason Oakes

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

So you’re sitting at home minding your own business when you hear the doorbell ring. You open the door and there are a couple of people carrying Bibles and some magazines. Maybe it’s not them, but it’s a couple of well-dressed young men with black name tags on.

You’re walking down the street and you see a group off to the side offering free religious literature. You want to be open. Right? I mean, isn’t an idea worth looking into? What harm could it do?

There are numerous ways that groups like this come into our lives. They look like Christians, but they’re not. They deny many truths that are essential to Christianity. Another sad reality is that they know how to use their Bibles better than most Christians. Many Christians have no idea how dangerous these groups are and how dangerous their teachings are and just see them as another denomination. We might be able to work with some of them on social and political issues, but not at all on the Gospel.

So who are they and how do you reach them? This Saturday I’m going to be discussing an overview of many cults and how to best reach them. We’re going to be talking about some of our favorites like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses, but also ones that might not be as well known like the International Church of Christ or the Twelve Tribes. There are new cults showing up constantly and we must all remain on the watch.

I’m also bringing someone on who has dedicated his ministry to understanding cults. He has recently released a book on cults. It is a good overview looking at many of the cults that are out there and will give you a good introduction to them. The book is Sharing Jesus with the Cults and the author is Jason Oakes.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

In 2002, Jason Oakes received a Bachelors degree in Church Ministry with an emphasis on preaching from Hope International University. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Bethel Seminary San Diego in 2006. Jason has served in ministry in various capacities for the last 20 years. He has served as Youth Pastor, College Pastor, Associate Pastor, Interim Pastor, Senior Pastor, as well as a couple of years as missionary In Central Utah to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jason has also served as an Adjunct Professor for Bethel Seminary San Diego, teaching the online class “Understanding the Cults.” Reaching out to members of cults has been a primary focus of Jason’s life ever since he was in high school. His best friend growing up was part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a result of the effort to reach him with the gospel, Jason developed a heart to reach those within the LDS church. In 2012, before moving to Utah, Jason started offering seminars on how to reach out to Mormons to churches and started the ministry People of the Free Gift. Jason is willing to schedule a speaking engagement with your group, live or online. You can get in contact with him at the following: Facebook – www.facebook.com/peopleofthefreegift Youtube – www.youtube.com/c/JasonOakesPeopleOfTheFreeGift

I hope you’ll be listening to the next episode. We’ll be talking about the cults and how to reach them. Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 5/12/2018: Matt Delockery

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

Who do you say the Son of Man is? It’s a question that’s still debated today. The number that debate if Jesus even existed in scholarship today is marginal and not worth talking about. The number that debate who He is is much more significant. This is something unique about Jesus.

The Pauline epistles give us a good insight into who Jesus was, at least our earliest source on Him. One interesting one is Colossians. Of course, a lot of scholars doubt Paul wrote that, but if He did, it gives us an interesting look at the view of Jesus.

But doesn’t Colossians have a lower view of Jesus? It refers to Him as the firstborn of all creation. Isn’t that the verse the Jehovah’s Witnesses love to use? Doesn’t this demonstrate that Jesus was a created being?

Is there anything in the letter that can show us that Jesus is in someway equal to YHWH in the divine identity? Does Paul show a high Christology in the letter or not? What do the leading scholars in the field think?

My guest this Saturday is someone who has done his dissertation on the topic of Colossians and the view of Jesus in there. He has wrestled long and hard with this short letter and has come to firm conclusions. I will be talking with him about what his researched discovered. His name is Matt Delockery.

So who is he?

Dr. Matt DeLockery earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business from the Georgia Institute of Technology, his Master’s in Divinity from Luther Rice University, and his Ph.D. in New Testament from Radboud University Nijmegen (pronounced RAD-bowd and NIGH-may-hen). He is the founder and President of the apologetics ministry Why Should I Believe which has chapters at Georgia Tech and Cornell, and you can find his podcast and blog at mattdelockery.com.

A brief update also on the whole Facebook Live and such. We are still working on that. We had some technical difficulties last week and I am still trying to find out how to work out the software and have not had the time to really sit down and do anything. I hope to before too long so you all can get to interact with my guests that way.

But we will be discussing with Matt our questions about Colossians. What is Paul saying about Jesus in this letter? Do the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a point? What does it mean to say Jesus is the firstborn of all creation? Is there anything else in the epistle that would further prove a problem for the Witnesses?

I hope you’ll be listening and we will try to do what we can with Facebook live, but there are no promises. I really want you all to be able to see the guests that I have on the show and be able to ask your questions for me to share. Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review for the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/30/2017: Don Veinot

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

Cults. We know all about them. Most of us probably know someone in one. Many of us have learned how to answer the objections of cults and we have learned about the history of the cults, but there is something many of us have not learned about. We have not learned about cults themselves. What is a cult? How does one get involved in a cult? What happens while one is a cult? A more important question could be, how does one get out of a cult, especially if one wants to get out? Related would be how do you get your loved ones out of a cult?

For this, you need someone to come on who has a mind for good theology to recognize the cults, and also a heart to care about the people involved in them. When I meet someone who wants to escape a cult or get a loved one out of a cult, I always send them to the same place. That place is actually a person and that person is my guest this Saturday. His name is Don Veinot. Who is he?

Don Promo picture 02

L.L. (Don) Veinot Jr. is co-founder and President of Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc., a national apologetics ministry and mission to new religious movements based in Wonder Lake, IL., with a branch office in Quincy, IL and Cape Coral, FL. He, along with his wife of 47 years, Joy, have been involved in discernment ministry as missionaries to New Religious Movements since 1987. He is a frequent guest on various radio and television broadcasts including The John Ankerberg Show as well as being a staff researcher and writer for the Midwest Outreach Journal and is co-author of, A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life, contributing author of Preserving Evangelical Unity: Welcoming Diversity in Non-Essentials, as well as articles in the CRI Journal, PFO Quarterly Journal, Campus Life Magazine, Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, Midwestern Journal of Theology and other periodicals. He was ordained to the ministry by West Suburban Community Church of Lombard, IL, at the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, Israel in March of 1997. Don is a charter member of ISCA (International Society of Christian Apologetics) and is also the current President of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR), a consortium of Counter cult/apologetic and discernment ministries from around the country.

If you are in a cult and you are wanting to get out, then you need to be listening to this episode. The same would go if you think you could be in a cult. We’ll discuss how you can tell. If you know someone who is in a cult and you want them to get out, you need to listen to this episode to learn what all you can do. If you want to know if that group in your area is a cult, you need to listen to this episode. I hope you will be. Be watching your podcast feed and leave a positive review please of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 2/6/2016: Chris Tilling

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

“Who do you say the Son of Man is?” It’s a question straight from the Gospels and while it was answered nearly 2,000 years ago, that answer is still being discussed today. Hasn’t Christianity been influenced by Hellenistic ideas? Wasn’t the concept of Jesus as a God-man a rather late idea? Would it make any sense to someone who was Jewish to say that a man was participating in the divine identity?

About a couple of years ago I did a roundtable discussion with Michael Bird, Charles Hill, and Chris Tilling on the book How God Became Jesus. One of those guys has decided to come back and that’s Chris Tilling. We’re going to be talking about his book Paul’s Divine Christology. So who is Chris Tilling?

ChrisTilling

Dr Chris Tilling is Tutor and Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies at St Mellitus College. He is also a visiting Lecturer in Theology at King’s College London. Chris co-authored How God Became Jesus (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014) with Michael Bird (ed.), Craig Evans, Simon Gathercole, and Charles Hill. He is also the editor of Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul (Eugene, Or: Cascade, 2014). Chris’s first book, the critically acclaimed Paul’s Divine Christology (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012), is now republished with multiple endorsements and a new Foreword, by Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2015). Chris has also published numerous articles on topics relating to the Apostle Paul, “Christology”, “justification”, the “historical Jesus” and the theology of Hans Küng.

There have been many writers in the area of early high Christology and Tilling takes a view that is unique and one could say revolutionary. It is a classic example of how so many of us have missed the forest for the trees and it fits in to Second Temple Judaism like a hand fits into a glove. We will be discussing this new idea on the show and what it means for Christians.

The benefit of the idea is that it’s easy to connect it to the Jewish culture and not only that, it relies on the Jewish culture. Consider looking at how Israel and YHWH have their relationship in the Old Testament. Do we have any sort of parallel in the New Testament? Indeed we do and it’s one that we point to often. We have the relationship of Christ and the church, and yet how many of us have really considered using that to show an early high Christology? Tilling argues that this fits in in that Paul consistently puts the Christ-relation up in a central place in his writings showing that Jesus does indeed fit into an early high Christology.

If you are interested in the topic of Christology, and frankly why on Earth should you not be, then I hope that you will be joining me for this episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Dr. Tilling is a very enjoyable person to interact with. At the same time, he takes his Christology incredibly seriously. You won’t want to miss this episode!

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Paul’s Divine Christology

What do I think of Chris Tilling’s book published by Eerdmans? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For some time, names like Bauckham and Hurtado and others have been dominant in discussions of Christology as we have seen more and more movement to what is called an early High Christology. In fact, this Christology is so early and high that it has been said that the earliest Christology is the highest Christology. Jesus from the resurrection is said to be seen as within the divine identity and is fully God and fully man. This alone is a powerful argument for the reality of the resurrection as it would take something quite remarkable to convince devout Jews that a crucified Messiah figure was not only really the Messiah, but God incarnate.

Chris Tilling is also a voice in this debate. Tilling was one of the people who contributed to Michael Bird’s project of How God Became Jesus. Tilling is an enjoyable scholar to read who I think is serious in everything he does. Why? Because when you see his Facebook page and his own blog, he is often quite humorous and there is no contradiction between being humorous and being serious. Yet when it comes to the New Testament, Tilling is a force to be reckoned with and knows the material very well. In fact, a look at his argument for an early high Christology is a way of saying that we have missed the forest for the trees.

One of my favorite shows that unfortunately has not only gone off the air now but has had the book series come to an end was the series Monk about the obsessive-compulsive homicide detective. My parents always wanted me to see if I could solve the case before Adrian Monk. The episodes can be enjoyable to watch again and when you do, you can look back at the cases that are solved and see all the clues you missed the first time through and think “Why didn’t I see that the first time?” Reading Tilling’s book can be like that. It can make you think about passages in the NT and say “Why didn’t I think of that the first time?”

Tilling relies not on a philosophical idea such as the God of the philosophers, but notes that the identity of God in Jewish thought was based on His covenant relationship with Israel. Only God was said to be in that covenant. If that is the case, then what about seeing if someone else suddenly shows up in this relationship and has a similar relationship to Israel? What if they have a similar relationship to the church, which is pictured as in the covenant of Israel as well. What if we find analogies from the OT that are used of YHWH and Israel and yet when we find their counterparts in the NT, it’s Christ and the church?

It really is a simple idea, and yet it’s a remarkable one as the Christ-relation shows up all throughout the NT. Just look and see how Paul, who Tilling is focusing on, speaks so highly of Christ and never even really a hint of holding back. You never see Paul giving a warning about saying to not go too far in your adoration of Christ. Instead, Paul speaks as if it was his natural language of his devotion of Christ and His role in salvation history. We have phrases like “To live is Christ”, “I sought to know nothing other than Christ crucified”, and “Live to the Lord” with Christ as the Lord. This is not even counting the references that seem to explicitly make reference to the deity of Christ like Romans 9:5 or the maranatha in 1 Cor. 16.

In fact, thinking along these lines, just recently I was pondering marriage as it’s a topic I read up on a lot more now that I have my own Mrs. and was pondering the idea of how Christ loved the church and then thought along the lines of Tilling about why Paul says that. Paul could have easily said “As God loved Israel”, but he didn’t. He chose to use Christ and the church and in effect is saying that Christ is the supreme example of love and it’s not the love of God, but just the love of Christ. The Christ-relation is indeed a huge impact and it should be one that the scholarly world is looking at for some time.

Now for some criticisms. There were times in the book that I thought it looked like Tilling was going more for quantity than for quality. You’d have a shotgun approach I thought of several different passages but they weren’t engaged with as much depth as I would like. There were times I would have liked to have seen a few passages explored in greater depth and then you could find several analogous passages that are like that one.

Also, there are times a layman could get lost at a few passages. It would be good to see something like this reproduced on a more popular level especially for those laymen in the field who will be meeting groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Christadelphians. An argument like Tilling’s would be an invaluable reference for the furtherance of the Gospel and answering those who wish to challenge the deity of Christ and the fact that the argument is simple and powerful and has loads of verses in support of it is extremely helpful.

Overall, this is a book well worth your time to read and I suggest you do so.

In Christ,
Nick Peters