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: Mere Science and Christian Faith

What do I think of Greg Cootsona’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am not a scientist, but I am always interested in books about the intersection between science and religion. When IVP sent me this one, it was one I was eager to read. Cootsona’s book is different in some ways. It’s not so much because of content, but because of the approach.

Cootsona writes his book largely with emerging adults in mind, the kind of people we would call millennials. These are young people who have a lot of questions about science and religion. What is the relationship between the two? Is there conflict or dialogue or what?

Cootsona answers these questions and often shows information on the side about conversations that he’s had with young people and little statements that they say. People involved in youth ministry need to be reading something like this. These are the very issues that young people are dealing with and as Cootsona sadly shows at the end, many people walk away because they committed the great sin of asking questions.

Cootsona deals with questions not only about creation and evolution, but also about technology. What are the effects that it’s having on society? There is some good of course, but there is also some bad. Are we having too much screen time? Could we actually bear to put the phones down?

He also spends some time with the new atheists. For the most part, the new atheists aren’t really an issue any more, but the mind set is still there. Dawkins is still seen as being on the side of science and religion is seen as the opposite. This leaves many people wondering if they have to choose between science and religion. It doesn’t help Christians out when we tell young people that they just need to have faith and not bother with their questions.

Some of you might be wondering if in all of this if Cootsona has a high view of Scripture. He does. Cootsona upholds orthodoxy and upholds inerrancy in the book. He presents viewpoints to help people understand the questions such as evolution and the age of the Earth. It’s a snapshot in the book as it were, but in the back he provides resources for further study. Cootsona’s book is meant to be an introduction to the questions. It is not an end-all.

There is also a section on climate change and sexuality. Now I am a skeptic of the idea of climate change. I haven’t invested in the study, but I am skeptical. Still, there is good information to consider here even if I am not convinced. As for sexuality, our changing approach to sexual culture is going to need to be addressed. How do we answer questions about transgenderism and homosexuality? Is Christianity behind the times?

These questions about science and Christianity are entirely relevant today. I get many questions from Christians with doubt today. If there is any topic that seems to come up the most, it is questions about Genesis 1-11. It is amazing how many people contact me and say they’re scared that Christianity might not be true and yet they have no questions about the resurrection. It’s all about Genesis. We need better resources on this.

Youth ministers then should definitely read this book! If you’re not a scientist, that’s okay. It’s written in a style laymen can understand. Parents concerned about teenagers and college-age students should read this book. Young people themselves searching should also read it.

Cootsona has given us a good gateway book to the issue of science and Christianity. He has also sounded a clarion call that we need to be listening to the emerging adults today to know how to better reach them. We can answer all the questions we want to, but if we don’t answer the questions they’re asking, we don’t get them any closer to Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Rationality Rules On The Unmoved Mover

Is the unmoved mover a bad argument? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been dialoguing with an atheist via text message a local pastor told me about. Last night, we were talking about Aquinas’s argument for the unmoved mover. He wanted to send me a video arguing against it to get my thoughts. He told me the video was by someone who went by “Rationality Rules.” I have noticed that so many people who identify themselves by rationality or reason or logic often honor the idea with their lips, but their heads are far from it. I asked him to send it so I could see it. It can be found here.

Fortunately, it comes with a long description to show many of the main points. I found it amusing that towards the start we have Aquinas and Peter Kreeft both having dunce hats put on their heads. Yes. Aquinas, one of the greatest minds in Western civilization should have a dunce cap on. It’s amazing the arrogance that these guys have.

Anyway, RR says he’s not going to deal with Aquinas’s, but Kreeft’s, because, you know, the arguments are basically the same.

No, they’re not.

But hey, apparently it would be too hard to, you know, go and look online and actually read the original argument and actually work to understand it and see what it’s really arguing. Nope. Just go for someone you think is giving the argument. Kreeft is a wonderful philosopher, but here he is also speaking for laymen and not giving the argument in its full sophistication. Unfortunately, I think he also gets it wrong, but let’s see what is said.

Anyway, this is how RR sums up the argument syllogistically.

• Everything that exists is in motion.

• Everything in motion is caused to be in motion by something else.

• Something must’ve existed without a cause.

• We call this first-cause (or unmoved mover) god.

• Therefore, god exists.

This isn’t the argument.

For one thing, we have to ask what is motion. Motion is not just movement, but movement is a type of motion. All movement is motion but not all motion is movement, at least in the physical sense. We know this because Aquinas would talk about movement in angels and angels are not physical. Your atheist friend can say he doesn’t believe in angels. Irrelevant. Aquinas does and Aquinas knows they are not physical so his argument is not limited to the physical.

What is being talked about is potential becoming actuality. Potential is the capacity for change that something has. Actuality is the way that it is. I am sitting right now as I type this. I have the potential to stand, kneel, lie down, jump, etc. If I do any of those, such as stand, then I am actualized my potential to stand and from there, I have the potential again to sit.

This is indeed caused in some respect by another. I do something because I want something outside of myself, which is what would be called The Good. My will is driven towards this. Every one of us desires what we think of as The Good. We can disagree on what we think The Good is, but all of us do want it and when we do something, we are doing it for something we perceive to be a good.

Aquinas is also talking about objects that have no will. A hand moves a stick which moves a rock which moves a leaf. Remove any piece of the chain and the leaf doesn’t move.

So what is the cause of this change? Aquinas says we have to find what it is to avoid an infinite regress. What kind of regress is he talking about? It’s either per accidens or per se. In the former, suppose mine and Allie’s parents both die suddenly. Could we still have children together? Absolutely. All things being equal, there is nothing about our reproduction that is hindered or helped by our parents being alive. That is irrelevant.

Now consider a chain that’s more per se. Each event is dependent on what came before it. Consider a Rube Goldberg machine. That is what it is like. This is the point of Aquinas. This means that everything in the chain is being used as an instrument, but if there are secondary causes, there must be a primary cause. The chain has to find its origin somewhere.

Note that this is also not saying it has to start there chronologically, as the universe being eternal is at this point irrelevant to Aquinas. It’s saying that there must be some great source, such as a gear that all the other gears have to move around and if the big gear stops, the little ones do as well. For Aquinas though, this place where the buck stops must be unmoved itself. If it is not, then it is part of the chain and the chain still needs to be explained.

If we see anything that is in motion, then we need to explain that. That would include the universe because I think it’s quite uncontroversial to say the universe undergoes change. We can all agree to that one. What needs to be at the root is something unchanging in its nature.

RR says the first flaw with this argument is that it does not prove that Christianity is true.

It would not prove that this Unmoved Mover still exists, that it’s a being, that it’s conscious, or that it impregnated a virgin, in order to sacrifice itself to itself so that it could forgive you for your ancestors’ actions… or in other words, it would not prove that Kreeft’s very specific interpretation of the Christianity is true.

This is the common silly objection that so many atheists have. You have not proven that this God is the Christian God, therefore the argument fails. Yes. What a great rejoinder, except the argument was never meant to prove the Christian God. Aquinas knew this. Every defender of the argument knows it. Aquinas could use this argument, but so could the Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides. So could the Muslim philosopher Avicenna. Put these three in a room together and they will not dispute this argument. They will agree to it. That’s when the disputes start. Who is this mover?

Also, to say that it doesn’t show the mover still exists is just fallacious because once Aquinas establishes God, he goes on to establish things that can be known about God from reason and natural theology and that includes His eternality and immutability among other things. People who argue against the argument like this are just intellectually lazy. Of course, we knew that when we saw the bad representation of the Trinity anyway.

The second fallacy is that of special pleading. Something must have existed without a cause. That’s not the argument though. It’s that something must have existed that is not in motion like everything else is. God is not moved by anything else. He moves all other things. Aquinas does say why as well. Special Pleading fails.

The last two objections deal with the Big Bang Theory. Unfortunately for RR, these are irrelevant. Aquinas’s argument is not about the origins of the universe. The Big Bang Theory could be disproven tomorrow and Aquinas would be unfazed. The universe could be shown to be eternal and Aquinas will still be standing. Aquinas would ask why you’re talking about all this stuff about how the universe came to be when his argument says nothing about that.

In conclusion, it will be good when RR deals with the real argument. If he wants to do so, I suggest for a good understanding he consider something like reading Edward Feser. Feser’s “Aquinas” would be a great introduction for him. As it stands, RR has dealt with a straw man and the dunce cap needs to be removed and put on the head of the rightful owner.

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

Thoughts On The SBC And Abuse

What do I think of the recent issues going on? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As someone who reads marriage blogs, I have seen several people writing about the events going on in the SBC. These issues have particularly centered around the treatment of women. The removal of Paige Patterson from his position is based on this kind of happening.

Controversies surrounding him have included people like Sheri Klouda and Darrell Gilyard. There was also a statement released concerning other allegations from the chairman of the Board of Trustees. One great concern I had in reading that was that Patterson said he wanted to meet with a student alone who said she had been raped. He wanted no officials there and he wanted to “break her down.” I’m not sure how to take that statement, but anyway I can think of is not good.

Also, some of this centers around women in abusive relationships. Sometimes, women were apparently told to just submit to their husbands. This would often put those women in great risk.

Patterson isn’t an isolated figure in this. Steve Camp who was a popular Christian singer back in the 80’s and today is a pastor got into a debate recently with Sheila Wray Gregoire of To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. In the link, you can see Camp made a number of awful statements because Gregoire is a woman and began blocking other women on Twitter defending her. I believe it’s events like this that got J Parker of Hot, Holy, and Humorous to write her own take on this.

So let’s say a few words about all this going on.

I am not a member of the SBC, but let’s be sure that I do not think this represents the majority of SBC pastors and leaders. I think most of them want to be good and God-honoring men and if they are married, they want to love and honor their wives the best they can. Sadly, a few bad apples in any group can spoil the bunch.

As regarding marriage, I am complementarian in my approach. Yet as I say that, I have something important to say along those lines. If a man does think Biblically that he is the king of his castle, well guess what. Your wife gets treated like a queen. There is never any justification whatsoever for abusing your wife verbally, physically, emotionally, sexually, or any other way I might have left off.

I also hate divorce. When Allie and I go to another town around here for something else in the line of medical care, there is a billboard on the way back that says “Undo, I do.” I always reach over and softly pat Allie on the leg or something and just tell her, “Not us.” Because of a divorce culture where divorce is prevalent, though there are myths about how prevalent it is among Christians, there are many good marriages where one person fears a divorce from the other because it has become so easy to get one.

Yet my hatred of divorce can be much like our hatred of war. No one really should really like the thought of war, but sometimes it is necessary because of the evil of other people. Many people who have a concealed carry today carry it to protect their family and I am sure it is their great hope that they never have to use it.

Divorce is sadly a necessity if a spouse is abusive and they will not change. (While this is about women in abusive relationships, let’s not forget that women can be abusers of men too.) I would urge any couple that when abuse takes place, separate for a time being and try to work things out with a licensed professional counselor. If that cannot happen, there is no requirement that you stay with someone who is abusive, doubly so if children are involved.

Even still, divorce should be seen as a necessary tragedy. It is sad that someone who made a promise before God and man to love and cherish someone for the rest of their life ended up breaking that promise. It is a reminder that we live in a fallen world. We need to have zero tolerance for abuse.

So what about Biblical submission? What about wives submit to your husbands. I believe in it, but men, if you have to start quoting Ephesians 5 to your wives in hopes that she will get in line, you’re already not being a leader in your family. More importantly, when we are talking about someone’s spiritual condition, the only person we can do anything about directly is ourselves.

And men, we have a lot that is said to us in Ephesians 5. When I was engaged to my now wife, I remember once when I was visiting her and her family and one day it hit me that I was to be married really and then I remembered what the passage said. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.

As Christ loved the church.

Really.

Look at those five words.

Pause in your reading men if you’re married and think about those five words.

If we’re being honest, we all fall short of that one. Yet that is our calling. We are to be such great husbands to our wives that if they didn’t know better, they could swear they were married to Jesus. The number one person in your wife’s life who should remind her of Jesus is you. If you are not that person, you are doing it wrong.

Paul has many other commandments to us. To the wives, he only tells them to submit to their husbands and respect them. We get far more attention given to us.

Submission is something that should never be used as a whip. Sex is always a big area in a marriage and guys, if you are using submission as a way to get sex, stop it. I suspect many of you are not doing that, but there could be that lone wolf out there. If it’s not happening as often in your marriage as you’d like, then maybe you need to ask yourself how you could be more romantic so that your wife will feel safe and want to make love to you.

Let me offer some bizarre suggestions. Maybe you could take your wife out on dates more. Maybe you could actually talk to her some. Maybe you could do some work around the house or help with the kids more. Maybe you could touch her lovingly and do so other than when you want sex. And maybe all of this could be part of loving her as Christ loved the church.

Now to the women, many of them don’t understand this need in a man, but imagine you wanting to hear your man say he loves you and he says, “Okay. I love you. Are you happy now?” Well, no. Of course not. It was done, but begrudgingly. The same would be if he took you out on a date and acted like it was just a chore for him. Unfortunately, many women don’t realize that this is often how they come across to their husbands in the area of sex. It’s a necessary evil that they put up with. Your man wants not just to have intimacy with you, but for you to want him and want that intimacy with him.

Ideally in a marriage, this will begin a circle of love. A couple that is more loving will have more sex together. In turn, they will be more loving to one another. That will result in their having more sex together. As a result, you get the picture.

And men, our role is to love our wives and always seek to improve. For me, I started a men’s group on Facebook for Christian men who are married, engaged, dating, or hoping to date and marry called “As Christ Loved The Church”. Honestly, part of this was for myself. I wanted to be a better husband and I was sure other men wanted to join me on that journey. Nowadays, I am seen by many as a sort of expert in the field, but I realize I have a long way to go.

If any denomination has any issues with how men are treating women, they do need to clean house. By the way, a lot of this starts before marriage. The church needs to be teaching on sex far more often. Robert Gagnon, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice has said we need at least one sermon a month. Think about it. Our kids in popular culture and all around them are seeing the world’s view of sex everywhere. How often are they going to get the Biblical view? What are they growing up believing about marriage as a result?

This also means that pornography must be talked about. This isn’t just a men’s issue anymore but if you’re engaging in pornography, stop it. You are doing damage to yourself and any future marriage relationship you will have. This can be undone, but it would be best to avoid it to begin with.

We should pray for the SBC in this time and hope the new president will build up the denomination to honor women to be sure, but even more that it will honor the name of Christ. Abuse in any relationship should never be allowed and definitely if you’re dating someone who is abusive, get out now. Husbands and wives need both to seek to honor one another in marriage and definitely get rid of pornography.

This scandal has given the world one viewpoint of how the church treats these issues. Let’s make sure we give them a better one.

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

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/9/2018: Tremper Longman

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

Noah’s Ark is often one of the most popular stories of the Bible. It’s one that we grow up hearing. The story seems simple enough. The world is full of evil people. God has had enough. He sends a flood and everyone dies except the good people, Noah and his family. As children, we don’t ask many questions.

Nowadays, we do. Not only are we asking questions, people around us are asking questions. Christians might know this story well, but so do our skeptical friends, and they don’t believe it. After all, they want to talk about the scientific data behind the story. They want to know if the whole world was flooded and how does that mesh with science?

Meanwhile, we realize that Israel was going through their own trials at the time and living in the midst of pagan cultures. These cultures also had flood stories. Maybe Israel just copied them and applied it to YHWH. Maybe it’s all just a myth. How should we approach the story?

To discuss this, we need someone who knows the Old Testament very well. We also need someone who knows the cultures surrounding Israel very well. We also need someone who will be able to tell us if we even need to bother to address the scientific concerns or not. Fortunately, The Lost World of the Flood is with us now. It is by John Walton and Tremper Longman, and the latter will be my guest this Saturday.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Dr. Tremper Longman III (B.A. Ohio Wesleyan University; M.Div. Westminster Theological Seminary; M.Phil. and Ph.D. Yale University) is Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Westmont College.  He has written over 30 books including commentaries on Genesis, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Daniel, and Nahum. His most recent books are The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom: A Theological Introduction to Wisdom Literature in Israel and Lost World of the Flood (with John Walton). His books have been translated into seventeen different languages. In addition, as a Hebrew scholar, he is one of the main translators of the popular New Living Translation of the Bible and has served as a consultant on other popular translations of the Bible including the Message, the New Century Version, the Holman Standard Bible, and the Common Bible. He has also edited and contributed to a number of Study Bibles and Bible Dictionaries, most recently the Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary (2013). Tremper and Alice currently reside in Alexandria, VA and  have three sons (Tremper IV, Timothy, Andrew) and four granddaughters (Gabrielle, Mia, Ava, and Emerson).  For exercise, he enjoys playing squash.

I hope you’ll be listening to this interview. We’ll be talking about the book and how we moderns should approach the flood narrative today. I hope it will be of great help to you in your apologetics endeavors. Please go on iTunes also and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

36 Arguments For The Existence of God — A Work of Fiction: Appendix

How do the arguments stand? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. I kind of cheated. I saw that all the arguments are in the appendix and that’s why I ordered the book from the library so I decided to skip the novel since I have many other books waiting to be read and get to the meat of the issue. How does Rebecca Goldstein handle the arguments?

Goldstein lists 36 arguments. I have been in apologetics for nearly 20 years and some of these arguments I have never before seen used. Many are left out, such as the arguments of Thomas Aquinas and the argument from the resurrection of Jesus.

Let’s start with the first argument she deals with, the Cosmological Argument. The first premise she has listed in the argument is “Everything that exists must have a cause.” When seeing that, it’s hard to not think about Edward Feser’s epic takedown of this kind of nonsense. Note Feser also includes “What caused God?” as a dumb objection.

Feser rightly points out that no prominent defender of the Cosmological argument in history has ever said the argument is that everything has a cause. Maybe your local pastor who doesn’t know the argument well might say that, but it is not said by serious philosophers. How did Goldstein make such a basic mistake?

If this is the first objection also, we have to wonder how seriously one should take Goldstein on the others since this is a basic mistake. It leaves one considering that Goldstein has never read any serious work on the cosmological argument. If she has, that could be even worse because she badly misunderstood whatever it is she read.

Many arguments from this point on are scientific and I have no wish to look at those as I am not a scientist, or they are arguments that I would never use and have not seen anyone else use. The next one I want to look at is the argument from miracles. However, to really look at that, I have to leapfrog ahead to another argument. That’s the argument from holy books.

Of course, it is a fallacious argument to assume that the book can only be the Word of God if God exists. but I am interested instead in dealing with the flaw in her look at flaws in the argument. The second one has her saying that all the books contradict, which they do. Goldstein says that one has to have arrogant provincialism to believe that the documents held sacred by the clan one was born in are true and the others false.

Apparently, it never occurs to her that one could, I don’t know, look for evidence that one of the books is true and make a decision based on evidence. If one is convinced the book is true, it is not arrogance to accept it. It would be arrogance rather to not accept it.

So when we return to miracles, Goldstein sees a similar problem. Miracles are used for any number of religions. How do we know any of them are true?

Technically, Christianity is the one that is founded on a miracle, the resurrection of Jesus. Muhammad does no miracles in the Koran. Miracles would not fit in Hinduism or Buddhism. Miracles could be added in later traditions, but they are not foundational.

Goldstein also says a miracle is a violation of the laws of nature. She does not tell where this comes from. Certainly, some people describe it this way, but not all.

Finally, she of course appeals to Hume. Hume’s argument has been critiqued several times over. One of the best critiques is by the agnostic Earman in his book Hume’s Abject Failure. For my own purposes, Hume was arguing in a circle. How does he know that a miracle has never occurred? Hume mainly relied on his own elite companions who like him did not believe in miracles, but he has no basis to demonstrate that no miracle has ever occurred.

The next argument is the argument from morality. Once again, as if on schedule, Goldstein trots out Euthyphro. Does God have a good reason for what He does? If He does, then we can use that same reasoning for ourselves. If He doesn’t, then His choices are arbitrary. It never occurs to Goldstein to define goodness itself. After all, if she doesn’t, she will have to live with the dilemma herself. Is something good because it benefits society, or does it benefit society because it is good? I have dealt with this elsewhere.

Naturally, there’s also criticism of the God of the Old Testament. As expected, there is no interaction with the scholarly work in this field or looking at life in an ANE culture. No doubt, Goldstein would not want creationists who never study evolution critiquing that, but I guess she gets a free pass.

These are the only ones I really want to look at. Most of the others are outside of my area of expertise or are just weak. It’s a shame to see so many atheists praising a work like this. On the other hand, it also shows us that the atheists are not becoming informed on these matters and likely just believing something because it argues what they want to believe.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: 36 Arguments For The Existence of God — A Work of Fiction –Part 1

What do I think of Rebecca Goldstein’s book published by Pantheon Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I read through Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now, he referred to this book as a book to deal with the arguments for God. I decided I’d order it to see what it was like. I have started it and really I don’t see how this book deals with the arguments for God thus far.

The book deals with an atheist celebrity of sorts who studies the psychology of religion named Cass Seltzer. The problem I have though is that I really can’t find anything likable about this character. I don’t see any real personality and he seems rather bland. I don’t think the book thus far has dealt with the existence of God at all, but even as a novel I find it boring.

This isn’t because of ideological differences. As a story, I could actually enjoy The Da Vinci Code. The history in it is awful, but the story isn’t that bad. (Don’t go see the movie. The movie was terrible!) I think the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov is some wonderful science fiction. I enjoyed reading Huxley’s Brave New World as well as Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. I have strong ideological differences with all those authors, but the stories weren’t bad.

I can’t say the same about Goldstein. What is disappointing though is that this book is meant to deal with arguments for God, but it really doesn’t seem to do that at all. The first chapter is about something called the argument from the improbable self. It’s along the lines apparently of asking how I came to be me where I am. Seltzer starts thinking in the piece about existence and yet doesn’t appear to do anything. It’s as if he’s on the verge of something and then stops. (To be fair, the appendix I see does deal with more of the arguments so that will be interesting to see. I don’t expect much though since she says for the cosmological argument that the first premise is “Everything that exists must have a cause.” No great thinker in academia ever has ever defended such a notion for this argument.)

As the story goes on, various arguments seem to be dealt with, but it’s really hard to see how they are. If all that really deals with the arguments is the appendix, this book could have been much shorter. All we see is Seltzer attending scientific meetings and interacting with some women in his life. None of this really shows an atheist taking seriously the arguments.

I am thinking then at this point that I might not be able to write much anything more about this until we do get to the appendix, which is a shame. The story as it is is just rather boring and I don’t have any connection to the characters whatsoever. If things change, I will let you know out there, but if they don’t, then we will just deal with the theistic arguments in the appendix when I get there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters