Deeper Waters Podcast 11/25/2017: Brett Kunkle

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

First off, your prayers are appreciated today. Earlier this morning, we took our little cat Shiro to the vet. He has some dental problems and likely will have one tooth extracted. We hope that all of his issues right now are dental. That’s all I think it is as well as other people familiar with cats we’ve talked to, but Allie is scared about it. We pick him up this afternoon.

Now on to the information about the show. I know the date is for tomorrow, but we’re actually going to be recording this on Wednesday so it could be a little bit longer before you get to hear it. Still, the content will be the same.

Getting apologetics out has always been important and today, it’s especially important to get it out to the young. Our youth need apologetics more than ever and the good news is, it’s out there more than ever. There are several great programs out there that are helping to introduce Christian apologetics to youth.

Someone told me about one of these organizations called Maven. It’s run by my guest this time. Maven focuses on the youth and gives them three of Mortimer Adler’s six great ideas. The three it works on are truth, goodness, and beauty.

Why do we need these? Because the opposite messages are being given to our youth every day. If we don’t give them a message, they’ll only receive one message and it won’t be the right one. Maven focuses on reaching the youth so they can be prepared to engage with the culture. The person behind it is my guest, Brett Kunkle.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Brett Kunkle is the founder and president of MAVEN (www.maventruth.com), a movement to equip the next generation know truth, pursue goodness and create beauty. He has more than 25 years of experience working with junior high, high school, and college students. Brett has developed a groundbreaking approach to mission trips, creating a one-of-a-kind experience that immerses participants in real-life engagement in apologetics, theology, worldview and evangelism in Berkeley, California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition, Brett is a Teaching Fellow at the Impact 360 Institute.  He was an associate editor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students and co-authored A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World. He received his Masters in philosophy of religion and ethics from Talbot School of Theology. Brett lives with his wife and kids in Southern California.

I look forward to talking to Brett about these topics. As readers of this blog and listeners of my podcast know, I am quite passionate about making sure that the youth have apologetics. Please be watching your podcast feed for this upcoming episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. If you haven’t yet also, please go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It means a lot to me to see them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Thanksgiving 2017

What are you thankful for? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

With today being Thanksgiving, it’s a good day to remember what you’re thankful for. One of my big things in life is to not take anything for granted. Every day is a gift and every blessing I have is something that I am not owed. It’s hard to remember this in an age of entitlements where we want to get what is owed to us. We don’t often want to see what we owe to others. People are more seen through the eyes of what they can do for us instead of what we can do for them.

So not wanting to skip out on what I’m thankful for, let me go through the list. The first of course is salvation in Christ. Forgiveness is really a great gift we don’t think about. It means that someone who has all the power and knowledge in the universe and who you have dishonored with your actions and can do whatever He wants with you and it would be the right thing to do and you would have no defense, decides that He’s going to forgive you because He would rather have you in His presence forever than to have you cast out. The cross and the resurrection are gifts to us.

Many of us also live in places where we have the freedom to worship as we wish. That is a gift. We don’t yet have to fear someone pulling a gun on us for being a Christian. We know church shootings have happened, but these are the exception and not the rule.

Many of us have several Bibles in our homes. These are gifts as well. There was a day and age when the average person could not go through their own copy of the Bible. Now we can. I’m thankful that I have that.

For more personal matters, I’m definitely thankful for my wife Allie being in my life. It means a lot when I’m talking to friends and get to say something about spending time with my wife. It’s not a hope anymore. I have a real and honest flesh and blood person with me. I have someone who loves me for me. I find that just incredible. I never thought I would meet someone like that, and indeed I have. Now I’m the guy encouraging others.

I’m thankful for my own parents as well who raised me in the church. That has become something foundational in my life. My parents often left me free to make my own mind up on matters and my going into the path of ministry was my own choosing. They didn’t know about apologetics until I started telling them about it.

I’m also thankful for my other parents. Mike and Debbie as my in-laws are great to have. We can often rely on each other and be good and faithful companions to one another in many adventures that we’ve had. When Geisler was going after Mike for instance, I was pleased to be one of the people right there making the defense.

With family, I’m thankful for my sister and my brother-in-law. My sister is making her own life for herself in Nashville. My parents I’m sure never thought their children would both live about four hours away from them, but here we are making it the best we can in the world. My brother-in-law Zach is someone I’m quite proud of. He has worked to do something in his life and is now a firefighter. He has matured so much since I first met him.

I’m thankful for my friends. Many of them have been with me through many things. David comes to mind immediately who actually took the great risk of living with me before I married Allie. There’s friends like Chris as well and around here I’ve got to know several guys like Cody and Jonathan, and we helped out another Jonathan and Michael and Sarah some during the hurricane. We have some good neighbors around here and we have a church family and small group that we can relate to. If I spent the time listing all my friends here, it would be far too extensive. If you are not mentioned, it is no slight on you. Please understand that.

I’m thankful for apologetics. Apologetics is something that brought me out of a time of depression and meaninglessness in my life. I used to say that was the great blessing apologetics did for me, but I was wrong. Apologetics is what led me to my wife Allie, which is even better.

I’m thankful for my health. I’m not the healthiest specimen to be sure, but I’m able to move around easily and I seem to have limitless energy. Being on the spectrum is also a plus for me. I have learned to see the world through eyes that are different and think through totally different ways than most people do, and of course, my wife being on the spectrum meant that it was easier for us to meet.

I’m thankful for the intelligence God gifted me with. It’s a gift that I find I can use in most any situation whatsoever. I may not be a handsome man and I’m definitely not an athletic one, but I am one with intelligence and I celebrate that.

I’m thankful for our little kitty Shiro. For all interested also, we are going to have to spend some soon because little Shiro needs some dental operations done. There will be at least one tooth extracted. We just weren’t told about regular tooth cleanings. He goes tomorrow morning. We love our little kitty so please be praying for him.

I’m thankful also for my hobbies. Allie and I can get together and play some games be it Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Mega Man, Mario, Zelda, or anything else. Sometimes she’s just watching me. I’m thankful for all the shows we can watch on Netflix and through the U-Verse and on DVD, such as the Adam West Batman series now.

I’m also thankful for all of you who take the time to read this blog. I find it amazing to know I have some impact on the world out here. I’m also thankful for those of you who listen to the podcast and I hope you’ll be taking the time to leave a positive review on ITunes.

Happy Thanksgiving. Please try to enjoy this time with loved ones.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On Pop Christianity

Is there a danger in how we portray Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I was browsing Facebook and saw a post from someone on how they were angry with God because they listened to Him and that led them to having their lives in chaos. They mentioned things like what God had been telling them, leading them to do, following parents and using courtship for dating, etc. All of this sounds like what we have in much of modern Christianity, and all of it leads to ideas like this. Many times, it fails to deliver. Whether this person will become an internet atheist or not, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised it starts there for many since I see many atheists online critiquing this kind of Christianity.

Good.

This kind needs to be because as far as I’m concerned, it’s completely foreign to the Bible. Many of us think that it isn’t. We think we’re supposed to be able to hear the voice of God. We think that there is a personal plan for each of our lives and we have to find that plan. We look at modern prophecies and dreams and take them more seriously than Scripture.

We take it so seriously that really, why should we even consider Scripture anymore? If you were hearing the voice of God on a regular basis, wouldn’t He just tell you what you need to know? This is also along the lines of people saying that Christianity is about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s terminology I also don’t use. It’s not found in Scripture and the relationship one has with Christ is not like the relationship one has with anyone else and if you make it that way, you won’t raise up the other relationships, you’ll lower the position of Christ.

What we have produced with this mindset is a culture of Christians that are examining every feeling they have to see which one is from God and which one isn’t. How do they know? That’s a good question. Interestingly enough, it seems like the ones that are from God always match with what it is that the person already wants to do. It’s not a shock that many if they don’t get disappointed with things going wrong and become atheists, instead wind up with divine authority given to everything and they become New Agers.

A number of you, like me, are Protestants, which means this is even more ironic. We often say we don’t trust the Pope speaking ex cathedra, but we think we are the Popes in our own lives. We can truly recognize the voice of God. We can thus speak with divine authority.

Keep in mind that in all of this, I’m not saying this can’t happen. I’m not saying God is incapable of speaking today. He’s God. If He wants to, He can. What I am contending is that this is not meant to be normative in our lives today.

“It’s not?! Well, what about Moses and Joshua and Peter and Paul and all these others?”

Yeah. Let me point out a simple fact.

You’re
Not
Them.

It’s part of our modern arrogance that we all think that the life of Moses is meant to be our life. It’s not. You’re much more likely to have your life be like the life of Joe Israelite wandering through the wilderness. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn from Moses’s life. You should. It means that Moses’s life is not your life. Moses was exceptional in his time. He is still exceptional today.

You also aren’t Paul. You are to imitate Paul, sure, but your life won’t be like his. If you think it will, then go touch your handkerchiefs and deliver them to sick children in the hospitals so they can be healed. Perhaps even more, if you think you are supposed to live like Paul, then go out and do the missionary work in hostile territory until your list of sufferings can compare to his in 2 Cor. 11.

Of course, when we say our lives are to be like theirs, we often mean in all that good stuff we like. We don’t mean in the suffering. That would be a bit too inconvenient.

So what is God’s will for your life then? That is a surprisingly easy question to answer. God’s will is in Romans 8. It’s to conform you to the likeness of Christ. That’s it.

But who am I supposed to marry? What am I supposed to do with college? What am I here to do?

You have great freedom in those decisions. Consider marriage. A more important question to start with is “Should I marry?” That depends on your desires. If you’re like many of us and would be inwardly burning without marriage, then you should marry. Yes. The desire to have sex is one of the reasons to marry. We look at that as shameful in the church today, but it’s just what Paul said in 1 Cor. 7.

From there, you have some criteria. The person must be a Christian and they must be of the opposite sex. It should be someone it is possible for you to marry. They must be single as well. From there, you have great freedom.

And after you marry, what is God concerned about? It is not about what kind of person you married at that point. It is what kind of spouse are you going to be. It’s easy to think about what your spouse should do for you. It’s harder to think about what you should do for them. After all, that requires change and risk on your part.

What about college and career paths? What do you want to do? What can you do? What do you have the ability to do? Is what you want to do moral? If so, go for it. It doesn’t also have to be ministry. You can do ministry without having an explicit career in ministry. I also see no reason to think that if you really like architecture and want to be an architect, that you can pursue that path and get before God one day and He’ll say, “You sinned in your life! I wanted you to be a dentist!”

At this point then, it’s not about what kind of field you go into. It’s about what kind of worker are you. How will you serve? The advice to slaves applies to us. Serve your masters as if you were serving Christ. Naturally, you don’t do anything immoral, but you do try to be the best that you can.

If someone comes to you with the “God told me” message about you, be very suspicious. Of course, it can be a real message. There are times true messages like this have been given, but unless someone says something explicitly that they could know no other way, be cautious about it. Go back to Scripture. It’s the source you can trust.

Doing so will also help you to take yourself a little bit less seriously. Not everything that happens in your life is a personal divine message about you. Sometimes, things just happen. The universe does not revolve around you. The focus of your life is what you’re doing for Jesus. It is not so much what God is doing in your life. It is what you are doing in His.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

On Sexual Harassment

What are we to make of this modern outbreak? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Odds are that before the day is through, a new sexual harassment charge will be brought forward against Roy Moore, Al Franken, or someone else in a position of power. This leaves Christians wondering what is going on exactly. How is it that we respond to this? Why is this such an issue today?

The first thing to say about this is innocent until proven guilty. That’s the American system. If someone does apologize or agree to the charges, then yes, take that as an admission of guilt. I don’t care for the comedy of Louis CK, but when the charges were brought against him, I withheld judgment until he came forward and said that they were true.

Yet there is no doubt some of this happening today and the question is why. Why in our day and age do so many men seem to be accused of this? Please note that a woman can just as much sexually harass a man, but usually, men seem to be the main offenders. It could be because either a man doesn’t want to admit it, or because a man would not consider it harassment if a woman started really coming on to him and doing sexual things to him.

Some of this I think is due to modern feminism. It was this idea that men and women are absolutely equal. Reality check. They’re not. Men and women are vastly different. This does not mean that one is superior to the other. It does not mean that one is more human than the other. It just means that they are different from one another.

Feminism sought to make them all equal and one of the great ways to do this was abortion. After all, once a woman gets pregnant, it could really dampen her career and her sex life. Can’t have that! The oddity is that women who were promoting this were also allowing themselves to be used by men. After all, men have this desire for sex without consequences and if you can remove the consequences even if the woman gets pregnant, then hey, no worries! Sadly, many will happily kill their own children if it means they can get more sex.

I wish I was exaggerating on this point, but I am not. Consider how a few years ago when Texas was passing a bill to limit abortion. Here you have man-child Ben Sherman writing about why this bill should be opposed.

Your sex life is at stake. Can you think of anything that kills the vibe faster than a woman fearing a back-alley abortion? Making abortion essentially inaccessible in Texas will add an anxiety to sex that will drastically undercut its joys. And don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.

Note that part. Casual sex outside of relationships. After all, who cares about a relationship with the woman? That takes so much work and such. You might actually have to get to know her, spend time with her, invest in her, and learn to treat her with love and honor. Nah. It’s far easier to just “hit it and quit it.”

You see, if sex is the end and the women don’t matter for a relationship, then the women will be used. Sadly, it’s not because these people have a high view of sex. They actually have a low view of sex. They take one aspect of sex, the physical joy, and remove all the other aspects of it.

One of the great joys of sex in marriage is the bonding it gives with one’s spouse. That happens in relationship. Before I got married, a former pastoral counselor gave me a notecard with some pieces of advice for marriage. One statement on there I remember was “Sex is the thermometer that measures the temperature of the relationship.” That can apply to many men today. If you want to ask a man how his marriage is doing, he could very well base it off of what goes on in the bedroom.

Sex is indeed a physical act, but it is not just physical. It is spiritual. It is emotional. It is relational. If you take the physical, then you’re really just cheapening sex. Now, something that’s incredibly good and cheapened can still be incredibly good. A Corvette can be a great car even if it has a dent in it. It just won’t have the same value.

To get back then to what was being said, a man won’t value a woman as a woman, but see her as just a body. Often times, this will mean that he thinks the same thing that works on him should work on her. The woman should be that if you do X, then Y happens. Do this and you get sex back. Ask any married man and they will tell you the truth about this.

I often think part of the problem in marriages is that men expect women to think like men and vice-versa. It doesn’t work that way. The way men and women think about things is extremely different. The sad thing is many of those things we think should be appreciated. A man thinks his romantic physical gestures should be appreciated. A wife thinks her helpful tips on how to do the dishes should be appreciated.

To get back to harassment, what happens then is that men can make advances they think should be appreciated, but get turned into harassment. They can also treat women as if they were just bodies and nothing more than objects of pleasure for them. It’s quite interesting to think that Mike Pence got a lot of pushback for his rule about relationships with women other than his wife, but a lot of people today would be in a lot less trouble if they followed that rule.

What does it take to change this? It takes a higher view of sex and a higher view of people. Sex has to be more than just a physical activity, though certainly not less. It has to be a spiritual and emotional and relational connection to be saved for the sacred bonds of marriage. Men and women have to be seen as persons in their own right and their very beings are not just means to an end.

As for the current charges, we can discuss, but let us always remember innocent until proven guilty. See what evidence all sides have. I have not looked at any of the cases sufficiently in order to make a judgment, but it is easy to ruin someone over just a claim today and that is something we need to move past. This is not to excuse sexual harassment at all either. It’s a wrong that should not be done, but it does not mean that we decide on a case before the evidence comes forward.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Esther, An Honor-Shame Paraphrase

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

Esther is actually my favorite book of the Bible. As a child, when I was going through the Bible for the first time, I got to Esther not having a clue what was in it and I just could not stop. It read like a modern adventure novel. When I saw that my friend Jayson Georges had a paraphrase of this book from an honor-shame perspective, I asked for a copy which he supplied.

I was not disappointed. I get to see my favorite book of Scripture through new eyes and eyes I have wanted to see the Bible through more and more, those of honor and shame in Jewish Mediterranean culture. Georges has read the best material he can on this and gone through Esther showing how honor and shame play a great part in it.

In our Western context, we only see things from that perspective for the most part. The great tragedy of being in our culture is that we think everyone thinks just like us and when there are missing pieces, as there always are, we fill them in with information from our own culture. After all, why should we think the rest of the world is different?

Looking at Esther shows a whole new world. The feast at the start is not just a feast. It is a way for the king of Susa to show how much honor he has and to receive honor from his associates. Men today might laugh at the idea that Vashti going against the wishes of the king would cause women all across the empire to disrespect their husbands and thus lead to chaos, but it was no joke. It’s not a sitcom being written. It’s maintaining the order of hierarchy that the society thrives on.

The constant back and forth between Mordecai and Haman fit into this as well. In this, you have the reversals of honor and shame. Haman is to be the most honored of all because he’s practically as close to the king as you can get without sitting on the throne yourself. Mordecai meanwhile is a nobody resident in the empire. That’s one more reason Haman is not content with just killing Mordecai. After all, he is the great Haman. He should go for something grander than that, so why not go and kill all of Mordecai’s people which would also fit in with Haman’s own heritage as an enemy of the Jews?

If there was something I didn’t like about the paraphrase, it’s that it talks about God. That sounds odd for a book of the Bible, but the wonder of Esther is that you know God is working behind the scenes, but He is never explicitly mentioned in the text. I was troubled then to see God mentioned in the text as that took away from me one of my favorite aspects of the book in that the reader is the one who has to work to see the hand of God at work and then we ask, could He be at work in our own lives in ways that we don’t know about?

Despite that, this is a wonderful idea Georges has had. So far, two books have been done from an honor-shame perspective. I look forward to the rest of them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Leadership Directions from Moses

What do I think of Olu Brown’s book published by Abingdon Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to thank Olu Brown for sending me a copy of this to see what I think. It’s also quite unusual sadly for a minister of a church to be sending a book and sending a book to an apologist at that. Normally, I get the impression that since we are the people who have to deal with false teachings and such, sending a book to us can be a great source of fear and it can be nervous to a pastor at a church.

This book is centered largely around Numbers 32. It is about how Moses had to deal with Reuben and Gad in wanting to stay on the other side of the Jordan since the land there was good. The other half-tribe of Manasseh also wanted to stay, but that part is not mentioned. The way Moses handled this is something that helps us with leadership today.

Certainly, this is something worth talking about. If we are many times to emulate biblical heroes, though certainly not in everything, then we should see how they did what they did. What kind of leader was Moses? Obviously, since he was forbidden from entering the land due to his striking the rock a second time, then not everything is an example, unless you want to say it is a negative example, but Moses did get the Israelites from A to as close to B as he could. He also had to deal with some of the most unruly people of all.

It’s also interesting to take a biblical story and try to shed greater light on it. What did it exactly mean? We can read the account and think that it’s a good story and move on. It’s only a chapter in the Bible after all. Many of these chapters have long-lasting impact that isn’t immediately seen in the text. The Israelites made a great mistake in Exodus 32 with the sin of the golden calf, but years later even in the time of Second Temple Judaism, that incident was being talked about.

Brown seeks to answer questions like how one handles challenges, what if people see things differently, how do you deal with confrontation and letting people go their own way at times? It’s also not just him. Brown has got in touch with pastors at other churches to write messages about what they have learned on leadership to finish each chapter. Chapters also have questions at the end to facilitate better learning.

If there was anything that concerned me, it is that too often when we seek to fill in the gaps in biblical stories, we too often read our own culture into it. Those who read my blog know I’m very skeptical of the idea of people hearing from God today on a regular basis and I don’t think Moses had a lot of introspection and such going on. It would have been interesting I think to state the case in the language of honor and shame that Moses would have been familiar with.

Still, this is a good and quick read. It’s less than 100 pages of content which can be gone through easily. It’s always interesting to me to get to see a story in the Bible in a new light and consider the deeper impact of what was going on. Perhaps we should all read Numbers 32 a bit more and consider it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/18/2017: Jeff Myers

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

Everyone has a worldview. Many of us don’t realize that we do have them. We all have a way of looking at the world and we all have some background ideas that influence the way we think about reality. Many times when we have debate with people of other positions, we’re not so much debating the evidence as we are the worldview that evaluates the evidence.

Christians should have a biblical worldview, but many of our Christians today believe things that outright contradict Scripture. I’m not talking about disagreements on secondary issues where we all have some wrong beliefs. We’re talking about things like Christians believing in reincarnation or that all religions are equally valid.

So when discussing worldviews, you need someone who does understand worldviews, and not just a Christian worldview, but other major contenders. You need someone who also has his awareness of what is going on especially with youth today who are struggling the most with this sort of question. How is it that they can build a biblical worldview and what can churches do to restore this vision? To do that, I decided to have come on Jeff Myers from Summit Ministries to talk about worldviews.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Dr. Jeff Myers is president of Summit Ministries, a highly respected worldview training program whose tens of thousands of graduates are making a difference in politics, law, academics, medicine, science, and business. In the last 20 years Dr. Myers has become one of America’s most respected authorities on youth leadership development. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson referred to him as “a very gifted and inspirational young leader.” Evangelist Josh McDowell called him “a man who is 100% sold out to preparing the next generation to reflect the character of Christ in the culture.” Through his appearances on Fox News and other media programs, Dr. Myers has become a fresh voice offering humor and insight from a Christian worldview. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree and teaches leadership courses through Lumerit and Belhaven University. Jeff and his family live in Colorado.

We’ll be talking about his book The Secret Battle of Ideas About God. We’ll look at other worldviews such as secular humanism, postmodernism, Marxism, new age, and Islam. We’ll be comparing how these worldviews line up with a Christian worldview. How do they answer the great questions that we have about life? What are some of the weaknesses? Why should anyone think that a Christian worldview is a superior worldview?

I hope you’ll be paying attention to this episode, especially if you have any interaction with youth today, so that you can better help prepare them, or if you are a youth so that you can better help prepare yourself. Please be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. If you haven’t done so yet, please also on on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

What Is The Foundation?

What is the centerpiece of the Gospel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post that was looking at a critique of the New Perspective on Paul. While I don’t sign on the dotted line yet on the NPP, I am certainly open to it and think it makes some cogent points. One reason I wrote it is also because of a claim I hear often that justification is the Gospel.

Of course, some people will immediately get defensive hearing that. Am I saying that justification is not important? Not at all. It is important that we are forgiven and that forgiveness is by grace through faith. What has to be asked though is if that is what our faith is built on?

When I go to bed at night, normally I read a short section of Scripture if I’m reading a narrative, like a Gospel, but if not, just a couple of verses to think about. Last night I did three to finish off Romans 4.  So what did I read?

The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Please note what is necessary for our justification. It was the resurrection of Jesus. Just dying on the cross was not enough. As Paul says, if Christ is not raised, you are still in your sins.

Part of the problem I have with the idea that justification is the Gospel is that justification is a result of something else happening. That something else is the primary thing. That is the message that changed the world. If that did not happen, we would not be able to talk about justification. That primary thing is the resurrection.

A secondary problem is that justification is important, but it also doesn’t go far enough. We can celebrate that we are forgiven, but God did much more than just forgive us. He could have forgiven us without offering us eternal life for instance, but He did do that. With every step, He could stop, but He doesn’t. As Luke 12:32 tells us, it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.

The kingdom is sadly lacking in our Gospel messages today. Jesus did not say as much about justification as He did about the Kingdom of God, but guess which one we spend the most time talking about today? Very few people have any idea of a doctrine of the kingdom. It’s sadly true that we often treat the Gospels as appetizers and the main course are the epistles of Paul. This is why it can often be asked if Jesus taught Paul’s Gospel. The more important question we should ask is if Paul taught Jesus’s Gospel, which he did of course.

If we want to see what’s further ahead, let’s see what Paul does say in 2 Cor. 5:19.

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

Sure. The forgiveness of sins is in there, but the reconciliation is with the world. The world is not as it should be and that is to be corrected. We can be forgiven, but even forgiven people will still die. Death is still the enemy to overcome. Is God going to let the world be a casualty? Did the evil one ruin the world so much that it cannot be redeemed and it will fall from the purposes God created for it?

Absolutely not. The resurrection is as it were uncreation working backwards. The path of destruction is stopped and the path of restoration begins. Let us celebrate justification, but we are not the end of it all. Everything is to be reconciled. This does not mean universalism as some people will not be reconciled due to their own will nor will demons or the devil, but all that submit to God will be.

Yet always remember, whatever your stance on justification, it’s not possible without the resurrection. The resurrection message is the Gospel. The king has come and He is taking His throne. That is the cause of everything else. Let’s not confuse the effect with the cause.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Remnant: Rescue of the Elect

What do I think of Book Two In Brian Godawa’s Chronicles of the Apocalypse Series? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Remnant is the second in the series continuing on the story of Tyrant: Rise of the Beast. The book works to explain the orthodox Preterist viewpoint in a novel form. This time, much of the intrigue is centered on Jerusalem and what is happening there as the main character try to get the Christians in Jerusalem to flee.

While there are characters that are certainly historically real, like Agrippa and Josephus, there are many who are fictional, which works just fine. There are also plenty of footnotes that show the historical sources for what is claimed. Again, this one also has the Watchers, demonic beings that act as the gods of the other countries, fighting against the angelic beings, although there really isn’t much of anything along the lines of Frank Peretti with his books of spiritual warfare.

Book one does need to be read first or else one won’t really understand what is going on. This book has the drama going on of trying to get Christians in Jerusalem to escape and uses that to also explain Johannine authorship of the book of Revelation and questions about the temple. The Essenes also make an appearance here.

There is drama as well between the characters, such as the arc of a love triangle taking place. As can be expected, there is much that cannot be said here due to the problem of spoilers. Still, much of what happened did relate especially to the way that I see many guys approaching romance and since this is the case of men that are single, I can certainly say it brought back my own thinking of what it was like.

There is some looking at what is going on in Rome. Nero has returned of course, but also there is a greater focus on Vespasian and Titus and then Domitian makes his appearance. Much is still left undone at the end of this book, which makes sense since there is another one coming.

As for the Watchers like I mentioned, you will see Allah show up this time which I’m sure would be odd to a Muslim audience, though I cannot anticipate them reading this. It’s still interesting to see a future religion showing up. Obviously, Allah will have to be active at the end of the series to some extent.

Still, while this was a good series, I didn’t find myself as intrigued as I was with the first book. I’m not really sure why. I wonder if it could be there didn’t seem to be as much of a clear villain here as Nero wasn’t as active as he was in the first one and no one else really seemed to be a main villain for this book, though Florus comes close. Apollyon also wasn’t as conniving it seemed in this one as he was in the first.

Still, it’s good to see the Preterist viewpoint being presented in this way. We need Christian writers who can write stories and stories that also don’t force the Gospel down one’s throat. Godawa also uses this volume to wrestle with questions of war and pacifism which are good for discussion. Hopefully we’ll see more Christians with vivid imaginations doing the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Roman, But Not Catholic

What do I think of Jerry Walls and Kenneth Collins’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For the most part, I have never got into the debate between Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox. As a good Protestant, I have my reasons, but it has never been a focus. Still, as a podcast host, I have been a fan of the work of Jerry Walls and when I heard about this book coming out, I thought it would be a good one to have a discussion over.

The thesis behind the book is that the Roman Catholic Church is indeed Roman, but it’s not Catholic, as it is not what is universally believed. While that is a charge, there is not anger in the book. It’s not an attempt to destroy Roman Catholicism. The writers have a great love for Catholics. Collins grew up with a Catholic education and Walls did some of his studies at the Catholic school of Notre Dame.

Despite that, they do think there is something at stake. There is a reason the Reformation matters. The writers then take us on a trip through church history and various theological issues such as questions of authority, looking at the Papacy, Marian devotion, etc.

They did point out that it looks like for many converts to Rome from Protestantism, it is an all-or-nothing game. As someone who loves history, this is of great interest to me. I meet many people who have the attitude that if there is one contradiction in the Bible, how can we know that any of it is true? This is a position I find frankly, ridiculous. I may not know how it is that Judas died for betraying Jesus exactly, but that would be a far cry from saying I can’t even know that Jesus existed.

It ultimately comes down to a question of authority. Suppose the Roman Catholic claims that I do not have an authoritative magisterium to interpret the text. Am I to really think that I have no reason whatsoever to think I don’t know what some particular texts mean unless someone else tells me? Sure, there are difficult passages, but there are passages that are not difficult. Even while simple passages have great underlying nuances to them many times that can amplify their meaning all the more, the basic context is the same.

Consider John 3:16. I can get the basic message. God loved the world and then gave His Son for that world so that none could perish but that all could have eternal life. Of course, a deeper understanding of Christianity will bring out more for me from that passage. I could ask questions about what it means to perish or whether in a Calvinistic context the world refers to everyone or just the elect? The basic message though of God loving and wanting to redeem humanity is still there.

What has to be asked is even if one thinks one has to have an authority, why this authority? Why should I think this one is right on everything in fact, including Marian positions I see zero support for in Scripture or church history? There are many groups that take the same approach with a ruling authority who says what the Scriptures mean. Why should I think the RCC has it all right?

The history of the Papacy I have found as a problem as well. There were no doubt many wicked Popes in the history of the church. This has to be taken seriously. If it is true then how can we say that God was guiding the church when wicked Popes were elected?

I should say in all of these concerns, I am pleased to see that many things I do not remember being brought up. For instance, there was no political gain made about the claims of pedophile priests, something I think is not really as accurate as it is made out to be and there are even worse cases in the public school system. Let’s be sure. One can disagree with Catholics without being anti-Catholic. I happen to have a great delight in my Catholic brothers and sisters and happily work with them in defending Christianity.

The book ends with a cry for unity. It would be great to see it happen, but we are not there yet. Pope Francis certainly is being a different Pope and rocking the boat a bit. Only time will tell what will happen to the RCC in the future.

Still, those who are considering crossing the Tiber and going to Rome should really consider the material in this book first. It does give a lot of food for thought. I also think many Catholics reading this book would not think they were being attacked, which is good. We need to be able to discuss our differences and discuss them in true words but loving words as well. We may not like what the other side has to say, but we should all hear what others have to say and be willing to consider their position. If we have to change ours, we change it. If we don’t yet, we at least have a better understanding of one another.

In Christ,
Nick Peters