Book Plunge: Jesus, The Temple, and the Coming Son of Man

What do I think of Robert Stein’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

There are many secondary debates in Christianity that I just don’t care for at all. I have no desire to touch a debate on Calvinism with a ten-foot pole for instance. Eschatology, however, is an exception. I’m not sure why that is, but I just happen to really enjoy eschatology. It could be in our culture if we live in America, we grow up in a culture that has what Gary Demar calls “End Times Madness” and we have to find our place in it.

When I started my journey, I was a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalist. I was a full supporter of the rapture and just couldn’t see why people couldn’t see that in the Bible. Now I’m pretty much opposite. I have reached the conclusion where I am an orthodox Preterist and wonder how it is that anyone can see a rapture in the Bible.

That’s one reason I was curious to see a book such as Robert Stein’s on Jesus and the Olivet Discourse, that is Mark 13. What was his view on the little apocalypse that Jesus gives in this chapter? Would he match up with my Preterist understanding or would he challenge it or would he fall somewhere in between?

Right off, any reader who is thinking he will affirm a view that is more in line with Left Behind will be sadly disappointed. In fact, that position is largely argued against in the footnotes. There really aren’t many people in the scholarly world, even those who are Christians, who take such a position any more. It’s largely also an American phenomenon.

I happened to agree with many of Stein’s viewpoints and interestingly, he places them in the context of historical Jesus studies not only showing what he thinks that they mean, but showing also how they fit in with the quest for the historical Jesus, which largely sought to remove much of the eschatology from Jesus or else totally redefine it with something that would fit in more with an Enlightenment point of view.

I also liked that he did say much of the discourse has to apply to 1st century Judea. It would not make sense otherwise and it would only apply to those who were living in Judea. There is no general command for all Christians to flee to the mountains. There is only the command to do so when you are in Jerusalem and you see what you will know as the abomination that causes desolation. (To which, his candidate for that is entirely plausible.)

I did disagree on some points. For instance, when it comes to the coming of the Son of Man, I do see that as a coming that is heavenly. It is the sign that Jesus has been vindicated. I base this largely on Daniel 7 where Jesus approaches the Ancient of Days. If He is doing that, then it is clear that He is going up. He is not coming down.

I also would have liked to have seen a bit more on the passage that no man knows the day or hour but only the Father. It would have been good to have seen how this would reflect the high Christology that Stein says is in Mark, especially when it says that the Son of Man will send forth His angels. (note the use of His.) This is indeed something the church would not have made up as it would be embarrassing, but how are Christians to understand it?

The book does have several helpful references in it including pointing out the hyperbole that is often used and the constant comparison to Old Testament language. If we are to understand Jesus, we must understand him in the cultural matrix He spoke in, which included a culture that was saturated with the Old Testament and the thinking of Second Temple Judaism. Much of our misunderstanding in eschatology comes because we do not make this distinction.

The points that I disagree with are not primary to eschatological understanding and overall, I agree with the bulk of Stein’s approach. I also find it interesting that he chooses Mark to focus on since so much of even the early church just didn’t seem to care too much for Mark. It’s good there is a scholar who does really appreciate this Gospel and wants to bring out all the gems we might have missed.

Therefore, if you want a good look at the eschatology of Jesus with some historical Jesus studies thrown in, I think this is one you should add to your library.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Why Church History Matters

What do I think of Robert Rea’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Let’s be blunt. For many of us, history isn’t always the most exciting topic, which is quite really a shame since it impacts our lives so much. If we’re Christians, we love the Bible and we think it’s important to know what happened in it, but aside from perhaps something like the Reformation, many of us don’t know what happened in church history. Go to your average church and ask the people who know their Bibles well to name a single early church father. Most likely, you’ll get blank stares and some might say “Martin Luther? John Calvin? John Wesley?”

It’s a shame that those of us who have such a great love of Scripture so often do not bother to understand how our own history that went before us turned out. We act as if Jesus came and then perhaps something like the Reformation happened and lo and behold, we are here now and now we must live our lives.

Part of this is the individualism in our culture that places each of us in our own little vacuum of existence where what went before us doesn’t matter and what’s happening outside of us doesn’t really matter. It is our personal universe that is of the supreme importance. What difference can the Donatist controversy make? How can I be repeating the errors of the Gnostics today, whoever they were? Why should I care about those old arguments Thomas Aquinas put forward for God? Do I really need to care about how John Chrysostom interpreted Scripture?

Rea tells us that in fact church history does matter and if we are students of Scripture, we should be students of that history. We should be learning about the great men and women who came before us and realize that the lessons we learn from them in the past can be highly influential in our day and age and keep us from repeating their errors and help us to repeat their successes.

C.S. Lewis years ago gave the advice to read old books because when you do, you read another time and place that critiques yours and can see blind spots in your position that you do not see because of the unspoken assumptions you accept in your culture. Meanwhile, you too can see blind spots in the work that you are reading that they would miss for the same reasons.

In fact, the author suggests we read outside of the circle of our own faith tradition, our own time, our own location, and our own culture. In doing so, we will interact with areas we would never have considered before. If we are wrong, we can correct our view. If we are right, we are still the better for getting to see why others think differently.

The first part of the book is about tradition. How is it understood? The reality is Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox (By orthodox, unless stated other wise, I mean branches of the church such as Eastern Orthodox) all place some value on tradition. Some place it on the same level as Scripture. Some don’t, but they see it as important to consider and insofar as it agrees with the Scripture, should be accepted. Bible-Focused Christians, as Rea prefers to call them regardless of where they land on the church spectrum, would all tend to accept statements like the Nicene Creed for instance.

Regardless of your position, tradition should not be ignored. Even if you think it is wrong in a certain place, it is helpful to learn how it is that that tradition came about, why it was held to in its day, and what the reasons were for believing in it. It would not be as if people just woke up one day and said “Hey! Let’s believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary!” There would be reasons for holding to it, rightly or wrongly, and a context that it was discussed in.

This part also includes a little bit about church history and how we got to where we are. As stated earlier, too many of us really have no idea even though we claim to be Bible-focused. This is interesting in an age where many of us like sites like where we want to see where our families came from, and there is no wrong in doing so of course, but our very Christian faith does not get the same treatment.

The second part is about the way we interact with the past. Can you form friendships as it were with those who went before. I am thinking of a debate I had with an atheist not too long ago where I stated that we do have the works that we can read by the past and we should critique them today and learn from them today. We can interact with the philosophers and others who went before us rather than leave reality up to only people today who happen to get a voice just because they’re conveniently alive at the time. There is a well of wisdom before us and we need to drink from it.

This includes finding mentors and accountability partners. No. You can’t communicate with them the same way you would with a friend, but you can still learn from them and let their lives be a blessing to you. I think of Aquinas for instance whose arguments I use today. When properly understood, they are incredibly powerful in our day and age. Too often, we have dismissed ideas just because they are old. Some ideas will stand the test of time and we will find we have just reinvented the wheel when we are done if we ignore them.

Finally, we have a section on how this affects us today. Can we bring the past into the present? What this deals with is how to interpret Scripture, such as by learning from the methodologies used in the past to interpret Scripture, and also how learning history affects our practices of worship and compassion and missionary service.

I will say I was a bit disappointed that despite being academic, when it came to this last section, nothing was really said about apologetic approaches. It would have been good to see how those of us who are in the apologetics ministry could look to the past for valuable mentors and friends in the field. Other important areas were mentioned, but this one was left out. I hope a future edition will include that as well as we can learn from great defenders of the faith in the past such as Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas.

Still, this is a recommended read and got me thinking about the importance more of learning from the past and learning how to interpret Scripture as they did. You won’t find out much about church history per se, but you will find out much about why you should find out about it.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Truth In A Culture of Doubt

What do I think of Kostenberger, Bock, and Chatraw’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Bart Ehrman is described in this book as the rising rock star of the New Testament world. While more and more Christians are learning about him, too many are not, and sadly, the first time they often hear of him, they are unprepared for what he has to say. The tragedy is best described by the way Chatraw sums it up.

Later I was a bit surprised when I had a similar discussion with a couple of well-respected pastors in my community. These conversations helped me see once again that most people, even pastors, don’t know much about what’s going on in the world of biblical scholarship. The other authors of this book have had similar discussions.

In fact, just recently I was sharing some detail concerning the last 12 verses of Mark and a good Christian friend was concerned I might have caused some doubt for some. I understood that concern well and shared some information on textual criticism to help deal with it, but it’s a shame that that which is common knowledge is seen as detrimental to the faith of some simply because the pastors have shielded them from the academy. In fact, pastors are usually the worst culprits.

Thankfully, the lay people do have friends in the authors of this book. These authors have done the service of taking Ehrman’s popular works seriously and addressing the main concerns that are raised in some of the most well-known ones. The reader who goes through this book and learns it well will be much more equipped to survive a class from Ehrman or someone like him.

If you are familiar with the arguments, you won’t find much here that is new, but that’s okay. This is written for those who are not really familiar with Ehrman and his arguments yet. If you are familiar with them, you will find that you still have a good resource where the major arguments can be found listed together.

One important insight that the book has that I agree with and have noticed myself is that Ehrman most often is quite good at giving you one side of the argument. He ignores that which is against his hypothesis. They consider his latest book “How Jesus Became God” as a for instance. In this book, Richard Bauckham is not mentioned once. He mentions Hurtado but does not interact with his main claims. He does not interact seriously with the Shema. I’d also add that in his section on miracles, brief as it may be, there is no mention whatsoever of Keener.

Ehrman has been undermining the Christian faith of many for a long time and unfortunately he’s probably right that too many are just closing their ears and humming so they don’t have to hear what he has to say. This should not be the Christian answer. If you want to get the Christian answer, an excellent gateway to that destination can be found in this book. I highly recommend it.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/27/2014: Truth In A Culture of Doubt

What’s coming up on this week’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Bart Ehrman is becoming a much more common name around the world and this includes even in Christian households. Unfortunately, there are still several in the church who don’t know about who he is and the reality is that if they do not know now, they will surely be knowing in the future, most likely when their children come home from college and announce that they’re no longer Christians because they don’t believe in the Bible.

To those who haven’t read the other side, Ehrman’s case can seem to be a strong presentation, but is it really? The authors of “Truth In A Culture Of Doubt” say it isn’t, and one of them will be my guest to talk about it. He’s been on here before and it’s a pleasure to welcome back to the Deeper Waters Podcast, Dr. Darrell Bock.


“Darrell L. Bock is Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. He also serves as Executive Director of Cultural Engagement for the Seminary’s Center for Christian Leadership. His special fields of study involve hermeneutics, the use of the Old Testament in the New, Luke-Acts, the historical Jesus, gospel studies and the integration of theology and culture. He has served on the board of Chosen People Ministries for over a decade and also serves on the board at Wheaton College. He is a graduate of the University of Texas (B.A.), Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M.), and the University of Aberdeen (Ph.D.). He has had four annual stints of post–doctoral study at the University of Tübingen, the second through fourth as an Alexander von Humboldt scholar (1989-90, 1995-96, 2004-05, 2010-2011). He also serves as elder emeritus at Trinity Fellowship Church in Richardson, Texas, is editor at large for Christianity Today, served as President of the Evangelical Theological Society for the year 2000-2001, and has authored over thirty books, including a New York Times Best Seller in non-fiction and the most recent release, Truth Matters, a response to many issues skeptics raise about Christianity in the public square. He is married to Sally and has two daughters (both married), a son, two grandsons and a granddaughter.”

We’ll be discussing many of the works of Ehrman and the problems in them. This will include works such as “God’s Problem”, “Misquoting Jesus”, “How Jesus Became God”, “Lost Christianities”, “Jesus Interrupted”, and “Forged.” We’ll be talking about how Ehrman is quite a skilled communicator but he unfortunately only gives one side of the argument on a regular basis and does not interact with the best opposition against his viewpoint.

If you have a child you plan to send to college one day, you owe it to yourself to listen to this program to learn about the work of Ehrman and how best you can answer it. Ehrman will only give one side of the argument. Make sure you know the other side of the argument just as well. Please be looking for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast to show up in your ITunes feed.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Origin and Growth of Religion

What do I think of Schmidt’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Chances are you’ve never heard of Wilhelm Schmidt. Neither had I. Why? Because he died around the middle of the twentieth century and wrote about a topic that not many of us learn about frankly. Schmidt was a student of the origins of religion in that he sought to find the most primitive cultures and study them and see what their original ideas relating to the questions of deity were.

Many of our concepts of religion are based on an evolutionary theory of religion. This is not saying anything about evolution in science. Evolution in science could be entirely true and evolution of the kind spoken of in religion could be entirely false. The common theory of religion that we have is that at the start, mankind believed in many gods, such as in an animistic sense, and then gradually religion evolved up to henotheism and then finally moved on to monotheism.

But what if this is false?

Schmidt’s work was to study various people groups of the world and see what they believed about the origins of religion, and this would be apart from what any of us would call special revelation. Through a study of cultures, the goal was to find which ones were the oldest and which beliefs in those cultures were the oldest. Fortunately in some cases, the beliefs had quite likely not changed much over time.

Some might be interested in the Biblical questions, but while there are bits and pieces of that here and there, the book as a whole does not really say much about the matter. However, the overall thesis would prove troubling to those who held to a JEPD theory on the evolutionary origins of the Pentateuch that said that monotheism was a late development.

Schmidt in his studies also determined that many many tribes believed originally in a supreme being who would sound surprisingly consistent (to those who hold to an evolutionary theory of religion) with the God described in the great monotheistic systems. In fact, while there could be images of other gods and perhaps totems and such, this God is often seen as invisible and cannot be imaged.

It goes further. In a polytheistic system, many gods are said to have wives and/or consorts and often times children, but in many tribes, this deity does not have a wife and in fact the idea that He would have a wife is seen as ridiculous. This deity is also seen as all-powerful and all-knowing and all-good. He is the source of morality and the giver of life and the bringer of death.

Included in all of this would be questions related to sin and prayer and sacrifice. These generally do exist in these primitive cultures. There is seen as a place of reward and rest for those who live good lives and a place of punishment for those who lead wicked lives. There is even often said to be an evil being who stands opposed to the supreme being, but this evil being is in no way anything like an actual competitor. His power cannot begin to compare to that of the supreme being.

Students interested in the origin of religion will find this fascinating. It is certainly a bit dated for our times, but it was one of the major works in its day and has now been redone so students can learn from it once more. If this is an area of interest to you, this is a book you need to get your hands on.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Rim of the Sandhills

What do I think of James Sire’s autobiography? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

James Sire has been a name in apologetics for quite a while and was one of the premier apologists in our modern age of apologetics. We all owe a debt to him. This can be especially so due to his work with IVP where he was responsible for providing us with many excellent books to have over the years. As one who reviews books regularly for IVP, I am grateful.

Rim of the Sandhills is about his life growing up where he lived in an area of Nebraska known as the Sandhills. Seeing as I have my mother-in-law being from Nebraska, I did ask her about it and she was familiar with the Sandhills. Sire describes his life there as he grew up on a farm (Not too uncommon I take it in Nebraska) and his education, particularly his love of books.

Of the books that I’ve read by Sire recently, I have to say this was the most enjoyable one. It was easy to picture many of the scenes going on. One in particular describes Sire working at the projection booth of a movie theater and reading at the same time and when something went wrong with the picture they would shout out his name and he’d jump up from his book and have to fix the problem. Anyone who is a reader understands that scene.

Sire also describes how he went through his educational process which was a quite revealing one and probably like many readers of an autobiography, I was noticing places I could connect with. Sire talks about how he changed his dissertation for instance because he didn’t want to have to learn Latin due to his difficulty with learning languages.

There’s a chapter in there about his romantic relationships as well and this is a chapter I would have liked to have seen expounded on some. What was it like for Sire when he was dating? How is it different from today? As one who proposed to my own wife after just a few months (We were married within a year of our meeting), I am always surprised to meet someone who proposed sooner than I did.

The military section describes what is likely the most difficult time period of Sire’s life where he had to work at a job that he hated and where he was ultimately expendable. This is not to say anything negative about the military. I’m sure Sire would agree they supply an invaluable service and we should be thankful for them, but the military is not for everyone.

From there, the book focuses on his career with IVP and how he wanted to keep a toe in academia. A most revealing chapter is when he talks about his experiences in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union where Communism reigned for so long and one authority over there told him that the east was afraid to engage with Christian philosophy because they knew that they could not handle its challenges.

Also important is how Sire presents many of his own failures and challenges in life even on day to day issues that we can all relate to, such as bad grades he got in school or lapses in moral judgment that seem small at the time but are really much greater. Another one was his own struggle with his salvation, something that many a Christian can relate to.

Sire’s autobiography is a look in his own words from one who we owe a debt to in the apologetics community and in fact, something I’ve thought more apologists should be doing. It is a quick read that one will find readily enjoyable.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Apostles’ Creed: The Holy Spirit

Have we forgotten the Holy Spirit? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

For the past year or so, my wife and I have been attending a Lutheran church, which is what led to my writing this series on the Apostles’ Creed, since in our church, we regularly quote the creed. I think this is an excellent idea since it gets us in touch with what it is that we really believe. The creeds do happen to be an important part of Christian life both from a doctrinal perspective and a historical one.

We’ve already covered earlier what it means to believe so there’s no need to repeat that again, so let’s just look at what it is that we are supposed to believe this time and as it turns out, Christians are supposed to believe in the Holy Spirit.

One reason I mentioned I attend a Lutheran church at the start is too often, we seem to have this idea that the Holy Spirit is for charismatics, or if we make an emphasis on the Holy Spirit, someone might think we are charismatic. Now I don’t agree with my charismatic brothers and sisters on many issues, though I do think that aside from groups like the Oneness Pentecostal Church that denies the Trinity, that charismatics are indeed Christians.

If there is a great service the charismatic church has done us, it’s to remind us to not forget about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often seen as the silent person of the Trinity. He’s the one that is talked about the least. He’s a difficult figure to conceptualize. It doesn’t help that many times we have heard the term “Holy Ghost” which makes us think of something that is dead or something that we would expect the Ghostbusters to deal with.

Of course, when we think of a person today, we tend to think of someone with a body, but this is not so in the Biblical world. It really refers to a center of consciousness where a person possesses a mind and a will. Some of you might want to include emotions, but I don’t think God really has emotions. That’s another problem of ours. We think of attitudes as emotions when instead for bodied creatures, they just result in emotions.

If we see a person as someone with a mind and will, then the Holy Spirit qualifies, contrary to what Jehovah’s Witnesses think. In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit is said to think. The Holy Spirit is said to be something that knows in Romans 8. (Btw KJV-onlyists. Consider for a moment that in Romans 8:26-27 we read about the Holy Spirit itself.) The Holy Spirit is said to be a comforter in John 14. I could go on and on.

Simply put, belief in the Holy Spirit is essential to being an orthodox Christian. Now that can come about in many ways. Some readers might be people that get very excited in church services and want to raise their hands. That’s okay. Some people like myself are more mild-mannered. In fact, if anything gets us excited a lot of times, it’s reading a good argument for Christianity or some philosophical or historical insight into theology or the Scriptures. That’s also okay. This body has many parts.

I say this also because the Holy Spirit can too often be used as a trump card. Many Christians pride themselves on being “spiritual.” These are Christians who put an undue emphasis on spiritual gifts (usually tongues) and think they know what the Holy Spirit is saying in every circumstance. This can cause difficulties for maturing Christians who don’t have a firm knowledge of the Holy Spirit yet and think that there’s something wrong with them.

All that is from the Holy Spirit is good, but what is said to be spiritual is not necessarily from the Holy Spirit. Always be cautious of people who claim to tell you what the Holy Spirit is saying. (The exception of course is Scripture itself) When we think something is good because it is spiritual, we leave ourselves open to many false and dangerous beliefs and these are usually based on our emotions and experiences and giving them more authority than Scripture. Too often we interpret Scripture in light of our emotions and experiences instead of interpreting our emotions and experiences in light of Scripture.

The bottom line is that the Holy Spirit is not just an add-on and He doesn’t just belong to the charismatics. Trust in the Holy Spirit and His sanctifying power should be an important part of every Christian’s life. Make sure you’re obedient to the proper leading of the Holy Spirit today, which is not for personal decisions about non-moral issues, but about leading you into righteousness.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Plans After 34 Years

What is Deeper Waters and why does it matter? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

If you’re on my Facebook page, you probably know by now that today, I celebrate 34 years of life. On such a day as this, I try to look back and see how it is I got where I am, but for the most part, I want to tell you all where I think Deeper Waters is going and why I’m so excited about it and why the ministry that we’re doing here is so special.

First off, a lot of this stuff can be covered in the newsletter. If you’re not getting our monthly newsletter and would like to be a part of it, then please let me know. You can email me at and let me know that you want to be a subscriber. If you do this route, please include something in the subject line so I will recognize you. I too get a lot of spam. You can also go to our Facebook group and sign up. While there, please “like” Deeper Waters.

Second, I will be speaking this evening in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. I’m the opening speaker at a conference and the point of my talk will be the importance of Christian apologetics today. I’m quite excited to have this opportunity where my invitation just came out of the blue and to get to be a recognized speaker at an event is an honor.

Third, next Friday, my wife and I both will be speaking at the Freedom Church of God for their “God’s Not Dead” conference. I will be speaking on the historicity of the resurrection. My wife will meanwhile be giving her first ever talk at a conference. She will be speaking on the problem of evil from the perspective of a layman and how the reality of God has helped her overcome evil in her life.

Fourth, I will be speaking the first Sunday of October at Farragut Church of Christ for their adult Sunday School class. I will be doing a lesson I’ve wanted to do for some time where I will be speaking on Christian marriage. I’m convinced that if we want to turn the tide in our country on marriage, we need more than good arguments. We need good marriages and I want to encourage people to celebrate their spouses and their marriages. I thoroughly believe that the world doesn’t honor marriage because the church failed to honor it first.

What else do we have up ahead in the works?

There’s always the Podcast. I am constantly trying to get the best guests on. Next month I will be interviewing James Sire, a classic in apologetics for decades, as well as Graham Veale on his book on the new atheism. I will also interview Matthew Flannagan on a book he’s written with Paul Copan on war in the OT as well as interviewing Marcia Montenegro on Christianity and the New Age Movement. If you like the podcast, then please go to ITunes and leave a positive review. It just thrills me when I go and see new comments. So many of you surprise me by telling me how much you like the show.

Also, Ebooks. We have one on the new atheism in the works and as it stands, I’m also writing one on dealing with internet memes today. It’s going to be a brief look at a topic sometimes followed by other recommended resources that could be used to further understand the topic. Memes being used as arguments instead of just a humorous punch is a great problem today with internet debate.

In the middle of all of this I’m going to be working on my Master’s still so yes, I am a busy busy guy. Not only that, but I’m also leading a men’s group on Sunday nights for our church where we talk about apologetics issues. I also do work for my church in writing out material that is used for our studies so know that your support of Deeper Waters does go to work that I am doing.

Let’s talk about that right quick. Donations. Really, I don’t like doing this part, but it’s something that has to be done. Your donations just thrill me. Each time I get one in it tells me that this is someone who has been impacted by Deeper Waters and wants me to keep going. If you want to donate, you can see the section on the side where it says to help support the work of Deeper Waters Christian Ministries. Now if you click that link that will take you to Risen Jesus. Please consider donating and especially, becoming a monthly donor. If you do make a donation, and I cannot stress this part enough, make sure you email me afterwards at and say “I’m X and I just made a donation of Y to your ministry.” I will pass it on to my mother-in-law who runs the finances of RisenJesus, the ministry of Mike Licona, and they will make sure that it goes to me. Your donation that way will also be tax-deductible.

Now some of you might be wondering why I don’t just set myself up as a 501c3 and not go through Risen Jesus. That’s because becoming a 501c3 costs money and right now, we don’t have enough monthly donors to justify that. It will be wonderful when we get to that day, but so far, we are not there yet.

I really hope you all appreciate the work that is done here at Deeper Waters. We are trying to bring the best and your support means everything. If the fruit of this ministry has done you good, why not consider becoming an investor in it? If you cannot do that at that time, then please pray for the ministry and share the material that we have and let other people know.

Be praying for me tonight as I give this important talk! For all who have been friends and supporters to me this far, I cannot thank you enough. I would not be where I am today were it not for you.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/20/2014: Rick Mattson

What’s coming up on this next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

To begin with, for those concerned my guest had to cancel last Saturday and I chose to just cancel the show due to situations going on here that I thought needed my more urgent attention. That means unless you check my blog page, you’ve been wondering who’s going to be on the show this Saturday? Wonder no more! My guest is going to be Rick Mattson, author of the book “Faith Is Like Skydiving.”


His bio describes him as:

“Rick Mattson serves as a traveling evangelist/apologist for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, appearing at 50 campuses the past five years. The most common event he holds on campus is called “Stump the Chump,” where students can come and ask the “Chump,” Rick, any question about Christianity. His home base is Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, where he serves as the InterVarsity Staff worker. When not on the road, Rick enjoys times with his wife, kids, and grandkids, golf, and writing.”

Unfortunately, we don’t have call-ins to the show anymore so we won’t be able to play a game of Stump The Chump, but we will be able to have a good talk about an excellent book.

Mattson’s work serves as a fine usage of analogies to help someone better understand the deep ideas of Christianity and relate them to students. Through years of college ministry, he’s got to have that interaction that involves the answering of questions and the spreading of the Gospel through apologetics endeavors.

The book is a result of all of that. If you want to know the kinds of arguments that he uses while on the road, then all you need to do is pick up this book. In it, you will find a wonderful conversational approach that can be used whether you’re a chump being quizzed on in the center of a college campus or whether you’re at the water cooler at work or just caught in a Facebook or internet debate of some kind.

His style is easy to learn and you will find insights that will help you explain matters and the analogies I find to be quite revealing. To this day, I have not yet shook the analogy that Hell is like an empty pub. While I do not necessarily agree with the view on Heaven and Hell, I certainly can see that this is a way to better explain it to people rather than using terminology that is highly misunderstood today and will bring to mind more Dante’s inferno than anything else.

Also, if anyone is interested, we will be recording this podcast on the road as well. As it turns out, I will be in the nearby Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area tomorrow to give the premier talk at a conference where I will be speaking on the importance of apologetics and the people running it have been nice enough to pay for a hotel room for Allie and I on Friday and Saturday night. (To boot, tomorrow happens to be my 34th as well and what better gift is there than getting to give a talk on a topic I am so fascinated with.) Please be praying that this goes well.

I hope you’ll be watching for a new link to show up in your ITunes feed. Again, don’t worry about missing one last week! Just be prepared to tune in and enjoy this week!

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Where The Conflict Really Lies?

What do I think of Alvin Plantinga’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Since this book has been one talked about highly in the modern science debate, which I do enjoy, I figured I should take a look. Alvin Plantinga is one of the biggest names in Christian philosophy today. He has also written some on what he sees going on in the new atheism today so I was eager to see where he would say the real conflict in the science and religion debate lies.

Plantinga starts off with a case that I have been making. He looks at the idea that many atheists will say evolution is true, therefore theism is false. Plantinga is willing to grant evolution for the sake of argument and contends that it could be that God would use an evolutionary process to bring about the creation the way that He wants to.

I find this an important point to stress.

Too often, fundamentalist atheists and fundamentalist Christians think the exact same way. If evolution is true, then Christianity is false, and if Christianity is true, then evolution is false. It could be that they’re both true. It could be that they’re both false. There is nothing in one that necessarily contradicts the other. To be sure, some forms of Christianity would face contradictions with evolution and some understandings of evolution would contradict Christianity.

For instance, if you hold evolution is an unguided process, then for the most part, this would go against Christianity, yet the problem with that position is that that position is not known through science. It is a metaphysical idea. Meanwhile, if you hold to a view like young-earth creationism, then you will no doubt find a conflict with evolution.

It’s my stance with Christians that if you are not science-minded, don’t argue evolution. Leave that to those who are science-minded. If you are science-minded and you want to present a scientific argument against evolution, have at it! Now if you are a skeptic who holds to evolution and receives such an argument, it behooves you to really look at it. I contend that if evolution falls, it will fall because it is bad science and will do so when better science shows up.

Plantinga also points out that the theist in fact has the most options at this point. For a naturalist, at this point, evolution is the only game in town. The theist can be open to evolution or he can go with fiat creation if he thinks the evidence warrants that. Neither one will be harmful to his views.

If we instead go with the route of the fundamentalists, we create a false gap between science and religion. When it is asked why so many don’t believe in evolution today in America, it is because for the most part, most people in this country are theists and if it comes down to choosing God who most people would claim to know through a personal experience (Not validating that. Just stating it) and it comes down to choosing God or evolution, the majority of them will choose God. We could argue that they should sit down and weigh out the evidence and make a decision, and I agree they should, but that sword also goes the other way.

If many atheists are taught that belief in Christianity means that they have to give up evolution and then in their eyes be anti-science, then it becomes a no-brainer just as much. If they want to be scientifically-minded people, then they will just have to reject the resurrection. This is why so few that I meet no doubt have really failed to interact with the evidence and in fact taken knee-jerk positions. (Jesus never existed for instance. The sad part is that there are more scientists who hold to a YEC view than there are historians who hold that Jesus never existed. If the atheists see YEC as a joke, they should see Christ-mythicism as a bigger one.)

I contend that too often the evolution debate has been a knee-jerk debate as well based on people thinking that the “plain reading” of a text must be the right one and that Genesis must have been written to address scientific issues. Both of these are modern presuppositions. The problem that we really have is not with what the Bible says, but with the modern thought processes we read into the Bible.

What about miracles? Plantinga again sees no contradiction there as well. It is this idea that we often encounter that if you believe in miracles, you believe in a God who is constantly intervening in the system. While we would say God intervenes, we do not think it is constant. In fact, I consider this to be based on a large misnomer. God is constantly interacting with the system holding it all together. Much of the modern debates assume that if God is doing anything with the creation, it is when He directly acts in the form of a miracle. Other than that, the creation can run just fine on its own, all the while ignoring that it requires God’s upholding of it for it to just exist.

The reason that we recognize miracles is because we do have an organized system. Why is it a virgin birth would be seen as a miracle? Because we know darn well what it takes to make a baby. Why would walking on water be seen as a miracle? Because we know what happens when people try to walk on water. Why would a resurrection be seen as a miracle? Because we know that dead people stay dead.

It has never made sense to me to say that because we live in an era of modern science, we now know miracles don’t happen. Sure, the ancients weren’t as scientific as we are, but did they have to be to know what it takes to make a baby, that people don’t naturally walk on water, and to know that dead people stay dead? Are these recent discoveries since the scientific era?

Plantinga does briefly touch on biblical criticism and I would have liked to have seen more replies to what is going on in that area since too many atheists just read the people that agree with them and go on from there. (I think of Victor Stenger who on Unbelievable? decried people who use just one source and then said for the questions about the Bible, he relies on Bart Ehrman. By all means read Ehrman, but read his critics as well and if you read the NT scholarship that is conservative, then read people like Ehrman as well) This was a part that Plantinga looked to have brought in and then just let drop.

Plantinga goes on to talk about two areas of agreement he sees between Christianity and science. Both of these are in the areas of fine-tuning. One is the intelligent design of the cosmos. Plantinga is a bit more hesitant there, but he does lean to the idea that fine-tuning of the universe if demonstrable, and to some extent I think it is, does fit in well with theism.

The next area would be in the area of the research of Michael Behe with Darwin’s Black Box. Plantinga does think that Behe is on to something here. To go with Behe would not rule out evolution either, but it would point to evolution needing to be guided and he spells out what he thinks would be needed to have a defeater for Behe’s beliefs. Those wanting more on these last two points will need to read the work itself since I don’t discuss the science as science.

The next area of concord that he sees is that science arose in a Christian milleu and this was because the Christians saw themselves in the image of God and that God made a creation that is rational and meant to be understood. Plantinga makes the case that it is incredible that mathematics of a complex nature that we can do would be that which is just what we need to understand the universe.

Finally, he brings out the deep conflict. For this, Plantinga uses his famous evolutionary argument against naturalism where he says you can believe in one or the other, but you will face a problem if you believe in both because you will have a defeater for your belief in naturalism. The argument is an interesting one worthy of consideration.

So this gets us to where the conflict really lies and that is….

Do you really think I’ll spoil it for you? This was a great ending to the book and I recommend instead of my sharing it, that you go read it for yourself.

A downside to the book however is that I did often wish when historical questions came up, like Biblical criticism or the history of science, that a historian had been called on to write those. Also, sometimes, the writing in Plantinga’s book becomes highly technical and thus it will not be as accessible to the layperson. Still, there is plenty here for all readers to consider. I recommend this one for an excellent look at the modern debate between science and religion.

In Christ,

Nick Peters