Does Evolution Destroy Christianity?

If evolution is true, is Christianity in trouble? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As readers know, I am a layman in the sciences. Much of the material is fascinating and I like the history and the philosophy, but I do not discuss how it is done. I am not trained in that area and I respect the field too much to speak about it where I don’t know.

This is also why when it comes to evolution, I do not say yea or nay either way. I am not a scientist so who am I to speak? For this, I actually owe the new atheists some thanks. When I saw how badly they botched areas that they hadn’t bothered to really understand, it got me to realize I needed to make sure I don’t do the same thing to be consistent.

I also got much of this doing some research in seminary on the relationship between science and Christianity. I found that many of the theistic arguments we use today are dependent on science, yet people were making strong theistic arguments before the rise of science. Could it possibly be a danger to marry an argument for theism or an interpretation of Scripture to a particular scientific viewpoint? What happens if that science changes? Besides, is this the way the ancients read it?

Genesis had been something I had a hard time understanding. If this isn’t a scientific account, how should it be understood? You see, I think in our modern age we are so scientific that we read science into everything. John Walton was the one who cleared away the chaos for me and allowed me to see it in a whole new light.

I have thought about this for years now and arrived at the position I am at. I can still hold to inerrancy, though I do not see it as an essential, and still hold to a historical Adam and Eve, though I question them being the only humans alive at the time, and still hold to all the essentials of Christianity. It’s not a big deal to me then. I can go to an atheist and grant them evolution and ask them then to tell me their real arguments against theism or Christianity. The Thomistic arguments had become the best arguments for my theism and those do not rely on modern science at all.

I have said that if I woke up tomorrow and saw a headline that said, “National Academy of Sciences Now Convinced Evolution is Pseudo-Science” I would say “Cool” and move on. On the other hand, if I saw one that said “Southern Baptist Convention Now Convinced Evolution Must Be Accepted As Fact” I would say “Cool” and move on. I really mean it. The resurrection and theism are still the same.

Imagine then my delight in seeing someone post in the Unbelievable? forum on Facebook that evolution destroys the Adam and Eve myth and thus invalidates Christianity. There is so much wrong with this that it’s hard to know where to begin. This is something that is the case of two fundamentalisms arguing against one another.

Two fundamentalisms? How is that so? Simple. A fundamentalist Christian and a fundamentalist atheist. Let’s look at how both of them have approached the text and the issue.

Believe that it must be either evolution or creation and not somehow both? Check.

Believe that the text must be interpreted literalistically? Check.

Believe that the text is best understood by what a modern individual reader in the West would think today about the text? Check.

Believe that Genesis must be a scientific account? Check.

Believe that Adam and Eve must absolutely be historical? Check.

Believe that even if they are, they must absolutely be the only human beings alive? Check.

Believe that Christianity has to necessarily have inerrancy? Check.

Believe that one problem in a text invalidates all of it? Check.

Believe that somehow the resurrection of Jesus is called into question if there is a problem with Adam and Eve? Check.

Believe that there’s no need to read any scholarship on the Bible to better understand it? Check.

The only difference between these two is really their conclusion. It’s not their methodology.

I have a problem also with a theology also that says that the only way God can be God is if He creates by divine fiat. This is often God-of-the-gaps. If another way is found, then somehow God is out of a job, as if God’s only role is to create. It’s almost as if you’d think that the Bible has nothing to say about God having a sustaining role in the universe in constantly holding all things together by His power.

Let’s use another Biblical example. Conception and birth. The Bible says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. The ancients knew as well as we do that sex makes babies. This is not in dispute. They knew the basics, but there’s no doubt we know a whole lot more about the process and what goes on inside the womb than they ever did. If you hold to a traducian concept as well, then you hold that the soul of the child comes from the parents as well somehow. This means that you can have a birth take place without God directly intervening at any step of the process.

Does that mean that we are not fearfully and wonderfully made? Not at all. It just means the way we thought we were fearfully and wonderfully made might have been inaccurate at one point.

Let’s also consider that the case for the resurrection does not depend on Adam and Eve. You still have all this data for the resurrection of Jesus that you have to explain. You might have to change your interpretation of passages like Romans 5 some, but it’s not a defeater.

I have met some who say that if there is no Adam and Eve, then there is no original sin. If no original sin, no need for the atonement. If no need for the atonement, no need for Jesus’s death. If no need for Jesus’s death, then Christianity is false.

Well, let’s suppose that there was no Adam and Eve. I don’t agree, but let’s go for the sake of argument. I don’t need them to know the reality of sin. I just need to turn on the evening news. Unless you can convince me that humanity is living in a world where everyone acts perfectly, my argument still stands. This is not a defeater.

As for Genesis, part of the reality of learning to interpret a text is to realize that your first natural reading might not be the proper one. It could be, but you need to establish that. This is especially so with a text from another culture, time, place, and language.

Let’s also remember that there are several devout Christians out there that accept evolution and are thoroughly orthodox and sincerely love Jesus. In this debate within Christianity often, one’s orthodoxy and commitment to Christ and Scripture should not be called into question without cause. A different interpretation does not mean you are a better Christian than someone else.

As I said at the start, I am not saying at all that evolution is true. I am just saying it doesn’t matter to me. If you are a Christian and you want to argue against evolution, God bless you, but I give this advice. Make your argument a thoroughly scientific one. If evolution falls, let it fall because it is shown to be bad science. If you’re someone who doesn’t know how to do something like work out a Punnett Square, you really have no basis arguing against evolution. If you make it the Bible vs. science, you will not convince anyone unless they are already convinced the Bible is reliable. You won’t find atheists like that.

None of this is to say Genesis or any part of the Bible is unimportant, but remember the foundation of Christianity is in new creation. It’s the resurrection of Jesus. Go there to establish Christianity.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Newton’s Apple And Other Myths About Science

What do I think of Ronald Numbers’s and Kostas Kampourakis’s book published by Harvard University Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is an excellent book looking at a number of claims that have been made about science throughout the centuries. Many of these claims are taught even in textbooks today, but they really don’t bear any semblance with reality. Some are complete nonsense. Others have a grain of truth, but they’re mixed in with a great deal of error.

I knew the book was going to start off well when it had the first myth being that Christianity held back the progress of science. To give an example of someone postulating the myth, they quote someone and I won’t say who he is, but I will say he’s a certain unemployed polyamorous prominent internet blogger who’s banned from Skepticon. At that point, I knew I was going to like this one.

The book also deals with other myths I found personally interesting such as that Columbus refuted the idea that the Earth is flat or that science and religion have always been at conflict. These are myths that have so permeated our society that it’s hard to find people who disagree with them and consider it something that all educated people know. Well, no. A lot of educated people know just the opposite.

Others that caught my attention were the idea that there really is no scientific method. So many people claim to go by one, but there are vast and different fields in the scientific enterprise and no one method works for all of them. Get in a room with ten scientists and ask them to describe the scientific method they use and you’ll likely get eleven different opinions.

Another one was that there is not a wide gap between science and pseudoscience. Many ideas have been popular in science history and are pseudoscience today. It’s hard to really set out a line on what constitutes real science and what doesn’t. Even if you have falsifiability as one, then many end-times speculations and faith healings and such could be considered real science. (I do believe that there are actual miraculous healings, but I think many of the so-called faith healers are frauds.)

Another interesting aspect was a chapter about Paley. Paley in his watch was pointing more to teleology than internal make-up. Darwin only mentioned Paley once in his massive work and even then it was favorable. Much of what we call ID today would not be at all what Paley had in mind.

Other readers will find many other aspects interesting, especially if they’re interested in the sciences, but if you’re not, those chapters can be confusing. Some are historically enlightening, such as that the launch of Sputnik did not create a battle cry to start upping our science education. I recommend those who are curious to just look at the book on Amazon and see what myths are covered in there and if that is something that is of interest to you.

It’s also amazing how many scientists fall for these myths. Many scientists are great at science, but they are not great at history and philosophy and they went through school likely being taught these myths and it wasn’t the main focus of their education and they saw no reason to question them. Unfortunately, now they are propogators of those myths and it’s up to the historians and those of us interested in science to set the record straight.

This is a very enjoyable read. I often enjoy reading not so much about science itself, but the philosophy and history behind it. Ronald Numbers has had his hand in a number of great books like this and I look forward to more coming.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On Good Coming From Evil

Can anything good come out of this? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, my wife was talking on the phone to a friend of ours and I could hear what my wife was saying. She was talking about a guy who she had had a romantic interest in before I came along. She was saying that if she met him today, she would first be angry with him because of how he treated her, but then she would thank him. Why? Because it was through what he did to her that eventually she came to meet me and if she hadn’t have had the evil happen, she likely would not have had the good happen.

Why do I bring this up? Because this is the kind of thing I usually hear when it comes to the problem of evil. How can a good God allow X to happen? At the time, many of the sufferings we undergo do not seem pleasant. We wonder how it is that a loving God could ever allow them. Years later many times, we look back and we’re thankful for that struggle. A lot of us look back at those times with great appreciation.

This is one reason I just find the problem of evil entirely unconvincing. At the time being, it can be convincing, but this is usually in an emotional sense rather than a rational sense. It’s also because at the time of suffering, we have a tendency to look at the suffering itself and not look at every other good thing. The good often pales in comparison.

Could it also be something else? Could it be that we in here in the West have an entitlement mindset? We don’t think that we deserve what is happening to us. We often have this idea in our minds that if you do good, you should get rewarded immediately and if you do evil, you should get punished immediately.

We cry out to God for justice, and many times it does not come immediately, yet at this we should often be relieved. After all, God says that He has no impartiality or favoritism. If He comes to give justice to our enemies, could He also bring justice down on us as well? It’s when it gets to us that we suddenly talk about mercy. We want justice for our enemies and mercy for ourselves. Rarely, if ever, do we ask for the reverse.

By contrast, we could say Paul did this. In Romans 9, Paul tells us that he would be cut off for the sake of his brethren, those Jews that often did try to kill him. Paul could ask God to save them even if it would mean that He would be cut off from God. Paul surely knew what it meant to ask for mercy for one’s enemies and justice for one’s self.

Perhaps the greatest danger with the problem of evil is that it really gets us more withdrawn into ourselves and more self-focused. What needs to be done is to take a step back and see what can happen. Again, there might be many times when we won’t know of such good until years down the line. It could be that for some cases we won’t even know until eternity.

If we’re Christians, we have a biblical promise in Romans 8. All things will work together for good to those that love the Lord. Of course, it doesn’t say all things are good. They’re certainly not. It says all things will work for good. This is why I encourage Christians to not see your identity in Romans 7. See it instead in Romans 8.

For the atheist who wishes to use evil, the burden is on them. Suppose I do not know what good will come out of evil X. All you’ve proven is that I don’t know everything about the future, and I would have happily conceded that. What has to be shown is that you know that no good will come out of X. That’s quite a claim to make and good luck showing it.

Not only that, evil itself doesn’t give a counterexplanation for the theistic arguments for God or the historical arguments for the resurrection. I tend to find evil as an argument powerful for people who are emotional thinkers. Many times, I consider it an excuse for some to get out of a faith that they are wanting to abandon. Sadly, atheism isn’t much of an answer. Not only do you still have the problem, but you’ve also killed the hope of the greatest solution to that problem as well.

I am fine with some unknowns and all of us have them. I have no wish to base my worldview on them. My own wife found that out of one of the greatest times of evil came one of the greatest goods for her. What will come out of evil in your life today?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/20/2018: Scott Henderson

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

Usually we will all visit a government office sometime and get asked if we want to be an organ donor. For most of us, it seems like a simple decision. When I’m dead, what do I need my organs for? They might as well go to someone else who can use them. That’s not a bad way to think, but while we can support organ donation, could we be inconsistent with how we do it at times?

If we are pro-life does that mean that we only value the life in the womb, or does it mean we value life outside the womb? Should any life be used for some utilitarian purpose? Could it be that perhaps sometimes people could say the line of “I’m not dead yet!” and mean it? Maybe they’re not capable, but maybe they would want to. Could some people be allowed to die early and without a clear criterion of death just for the sake of their organs?

It might seem like a strange question to ask, but questions are worth exploring. To discuss this question, I have decided to bring on someone who did his dissertation on the topic of organ donation. While he does support organ donation, he does have some concerns about the methods that we use to get the organs and maybe by our practices, we are not being consistently pro-life. His name is Scott Henderson.

So who is he?

Apologetics Program Coordinator, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics, Luther Rice College & Seminar

B.A., Florida Bible College; M.A.A., Southern Evangelical Seminary; M.A., Franciscan University of Steubenville; Ph.D., Duquesne University

Scott Henderson joined the Luther Rice faculty in the fall of 2008. He teaches courses in apologetics, philosophy and ethics. Henderson has spoken on numerous topics in apologetics and bioethics at various venues and was a contributor to Norman Geisler’s Baker’s Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics and Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Moreover, Henderson has served in hospitals in Ohio and Pennsylvania as an in-service lecturer and policy writer and was an adviser and research assistant for the start of Franciscan University’s Institute of Bioethics in Steubenville, OH. He has also lectured at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania and at the Ewangelikalna Wyzsza Szkola Teologiczna in Wroclaw, Poland.

Henderson holds degrees in Biblical Education, Apologetics, Philosophy, and Bioethics as well as professional memberships with the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity and the Evangelical Philosophical Society, each at which he has presented conference papers. His research interests include issues in apologetics, ethical issues with the end-of-life, defining death, and organ transplantation.  He, his wife Kathy, and their four children currently reside in Cumming, GA.

Organ donation is something rarely talked about in pro-life circles and I hope you’ll be listening to this show. We will be discussing how it is that organ donation relates to pro-life and the criterion of death. I also hope you’ll go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s always a joy to see!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Where Science and Gnosticism Meet

Do these two contradictory views have anything in common? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Gnosticism was one of the first great heresies of Christianity. Since the time of Plato, the material world had been downplayed in comparison to the immaterial world. Gnosticism continued this and it had a real problem with Christianity. Christianity held that God became incarnate in a body. Gnosticism was the view that all of matter was evil. When it met Christianity, it tried to say Jesus came to set us free from the lesser evil god who created matter and that lesser evil god was the God of the Old Testament.

Today, we have a movement that seems to be quite different. This is the idea that science is the supreme gateway to truth and science studies the material world. The material world is the real one and we need to get past any mention of anything that is so-called supernatural. (I question the use of the term)

I have been reading Nancy Pearcey’s excellent book Love Thy Body and started thinking about this. I can’t claim credit for everything then as her writing has been something that got my mind thinking about this. There will be a review of the book when I’m done and she is going to be on my show later this month.

Interestingly, where all of these meet is always connected with sex in some way. At this point, many of our friends in the sciences suddenly start to deny science. Let’s take a look at how.

Abortion is one of the first ones. If we look at the scientific evidence of what is in the womb, we have a human being. However, this is something very inconvenient for many people since it interferes with free sex and other such things, so something has to be done. Well, it might be a human, but it’s not a person. Scientific basis for the difference between a human being and a human person? It doesn’t exist. All of a sudden, many of our skeptical friends promoting abortion are interested in metaphysics and philosophy.

The next area is in homosexuality. You don’t have to be a super genius to tell that the man and the woman go together sexually. Simply put, A goes into B very well. Yet once again, we have an anti-scientific mindset going on here. Now I have no problem with people wanting to do research to see if there is anything genetic that leads to homosexuality or a proclivity to it, but there is one problem and one that Pearcey brings out very well.

When a person abandons a straight orientation and goes to a homosexual one, they are said to have found their true selves. Keep in mind that when doing this, they can sometimes leave behind a spouse and kids in tears and broken, but they do it anyway. This is looked at with applause as the person has realized who they really are. If a person ever abandons a homosexual orientation for a straight one or is a homosexual but lives married to someone of the opposite sex, they are said to loathe themselves and be denying themselves. Never are they celebrated as having found their true selves.

Question. What is the scientific test for the true self? Answer. There isn’t one. How is it known? It is based on how the person feels and on the reigning paradigm of the moment.

Despite all of this, I really consider the last one the most bizarre.

Now we get to the transgender movement. Often in apologetics, I find it amazing the things that one has to defend that one never thought they would have to defend. A few years ago I was stunned that we now have to actually convince people marriage is between a man and a woman. Today, we have to convince them that the man and the woman really are the man and the woman. The sign of bigotry today is to say that a man is actually a man.

In all other cases, we could look at the body and see how it works, but even here, we can just look and see what the body is. All the evidence that is physical for someone says that their DNA is male (or female) and their body is that of a male. This is the true scientific evidence. Unfortunately, all of this is denied. Why? The feelings contradict.

When these two contradict, one will have to be worked on and even if never fully altered, it will need to come under the control of the other. It will either be the body that determines the identity and we change the feelings, or it will be the feelings that determine the identity and we change the body. It is quite amazing that many in the scientific community, particularly internet atheists, think that the feelings are where the person’s true identity lies and you must change all the material reality to fit their feelings.

In this, they are like the Gnostics of old. We could say that transgenderism might be nothing new. It is just an old heresy wrapped up in new terminology and presented in a new way. Deny the reality of matter and go with the immaterial. The person’s feelings reign supreme.

Where does this end? Who knows. It was bizarre enough to redefine marriage, but now a person’s feelings are given more and more precedence and once that starts, I really don’t know how that will end.

Keep in mind, none of this says anything about how we treat such people in itself. People who are struggling with these issues do need to be treated with love and compassion. However, they also need to be worked with to accept reality. One will never have good results if they try to go against reality.

It’s also interesting that Christians that hold to a biblical view on all of these are the ones that are going with the science and yet, we’re seen as bigots for doing that. Could it possibly be that those who want to champion science are just extremely selective where they want to champion it? Could it be some really aren’t interested in following the evidence where it leads?

How we deal with this is what Pearcey tells us to do. Love thy body. The body is not an evil thing. It is a gift to be treasured and cherished. This is especially so since in Christianity, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit and God Himself became incarnated in a body.

Consider this thought. Suppose that Jesus is crucified and dies and is buried. The tomb is found empty on Sunday, but instead, Jesus is now appearing as a woman named Joanna. This would be something unusual, but I don’t think we could call it Christianity anymore. It would deny that there is something essential to the body. It can be changed to be whatever you want. It would bring into question the notion of identity. Was this truly Jesus? Is the fact that He was a man something accidental to who he is as a person or is the identity something that can be changed?

Throughout the incarnation, Jesus was Jesus and the body that went down came up again. Yes, it was new and glorified, but it was still the body of Jesus. So it is for us. Our bodies are not accidents. They are the first line of evidence we have of who we are. Start with the feelings and you can justify most any belief. Start with the body and you’re limited to reality.

I think I’ll go with reality.

I have no wish to be a science-denier.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Don’t Use Porn

How can we best honor the women of the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I say this, I do realize that porn is not just a man’s problem. It is something that more and more women are engaging in as well. Nothing is meant to discount their struggle, but I can only write from my own position as a man.

Many times, it’s often assumed that if you’re a man, you’re watching porn. It could be an understandable assumption, but it’s also a false one. Being a man does not necessitate that you engage in pornography. Perhaps it could mean sexual sin is more of a struggle for you, but it is something that can be overcome.

Before my marriage, my Dad had been working somewhere where his fellow co-workers were sadly quite raunchy. He spoke about my upcoming wedding and somehow in the midst of the conversation it came out that he was proud of his son and his daughter who were saving sex for marriage. He was immediately told his kids were lying to him. They were doing that on the side and just not telling him about it.

No hesitation there. His kids weren’t lying.

We weren’t.

My eyes are reserved for Allie alone and she is the only woman I share that sexual intimacy with. Now as a guy, I will definitely say that that intimacy is awesome and getting to see Allie’s body is getting to see the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. It’s amazing what a guy can be motivated to do just by a little flirtation from his wife.

So if that’s something I enjoy so much, wouldn’t it make sense to see porn? No. Not at all. Here are some reasons why.

I don’t use porn because Allie is more than enough woman for me. I don’t need any other woman to satisfy my desires. I don’t want any other woman to do so. Viewing porn would be wrong because it would be telling Allie that she is insufficient as a woman.

I don’t use porn because a woman is not just a body. She is a person as well and when I view her as just a body, I do not love her as a whole. It is not loving to the women of the world to treat them as just bodies and I certainly don’t do that with my own wife.

I don’t use porn because it’s really fake. Why would I change a woman who is really interested in me for the chance to see a woman who doesn’t know me and doesn’t care about me? My wife’s chasing after me is more than enough for me.

I don’t use porn because it cheapens sex. Sex is indeed the union of two bodies in a holy embrace, but those are the bodies of persons and the persons are affirming a powerful commitment of love with that act. I choose to not use my body to lie so with my body, I honor my Allie.

I don’t use porn because the fake can’t match the reality. There’s nothing like really touching one’s own wife and experiencing her touch. Nothing in media can compare with the real deal. The passion that can exist in the bedroom is a sacred passion.

I don’t use porn because I want my eyes filled with only Allie. Why would I want to delight in another man’s wife or in a woman I can never have? Is the one that God has given me just not enough for me? Of course, she is.

I don’t use porn because I don’t want to ever give Allie any hint that she’s insufficient for me. She is not in competition with other women. When I proposed to her, I told her she won the grand prize in my eyes and I wanted to be with only her forever and when I married her, I made that a public statement.

I don’t use porn because sex is something beautiful. When I treat it as something common and outside of the sacred bounds of marriage, I cheapen it. Sex is so holy that there’s a whole book of Scripture about it. I have no wish to diminish it.

I don’t use porn because it teaches me that women just exist for my sexual pleasure. I am to seek to give to my wife. While it is true she is to give to me and a priority of hers should be my desires, it is a two-way street.

I don’t use porn because it would dishonor my God. God made sex to be treasured and all these human beings are made in His image and to be treasured, whether they are married or not and whether they plan to marry or not. No person is to be treated as an object.

I don’t use porn because I want to be my intimacy in this life to come because Allie is affirming me as her man. I don’t want to go to other women I don’t know for just something that makes me feel like a man. I would rather go to my wife and be the man that she loves.

I don’t use porn because sex isn’t just a hobby. It’s not like a sport that two people can play together and it doesn’t really matter who the participants are. It’s an exclusive act I share with only one person who I love in an exclusive way and while what we do together is certainly a lot of fun, it’s also a building of that great love that we have together.

I don’t use porn because as far as I’m concerned, no one on Earth can compare with my wife’s beauty. Allie is the only beauty that drives me wild and pushes me to want to be a better man. She is the woman whose pictures I look at with longing romantic love and desire in my office (I have pictures of other family members in here), she is the picture on the desktop on my computer, and she is the picture that I see when I turn on my phone. My wife makes my world a much better place.

Ultimately, I don’t use porn because I love Allie and I love God. I seek to do nothing to dishonor either of them. The love of both in my life is a gift of grace and I choose to live holy in gratitude of that great gift.

And yes, I do love both. If you read this Princess, that means you specifically. Your husband loves you very much and you need no fear of competition.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Jesus Crisis

What do I think of David Farnell and Robert Thomas’s book published by Kregel Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In The Jesus Crisis, we have a look at a book oft-cited in the Inerrancy debates. I had heard a lot of negative statements about this book, but I decided to go in with an open mind. Some things starting off aren’t so bad. There is some serious questioning of the two-source hypothesis and since I’m skeptical of Q as a source, I have no problem with this. I do agree with the authors that when we look at the authorship and writing of the Gospels, we do need to take the church fathers seriously. Certainly, they’re not infallible, but we don’t need to ignore them.

I was also surprised to see David Farnell’s style of arguing in this. In many of his writings, he has often looked as one in a hysterical panic. This was a side that was much more reasonable and measured and the kind that I would have preferred to have seen more often.

Ultimately, insofar as we’re talking about the origins of the Gospels and looking at various forms of criticism, I could agree with some matters. I wonder what the editors would think of Richard Bauckham talking about the death of form criticism. That being said, the further one gets in the book, the more there are areas of concern.

The problem often is that Inerrancy is taken as the starting presupposition and while the writers make an effort to knock down historical methodologies of today, which is fine if they want to do that, they give nothing in the place of how history should be done. The only way seems to be with starting off with the idea that the Bible is the Word of God. Of course, while from a confessional statement I would agree with that, I do not start that way. After all, why start with that book instead of the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon?

There is also a fixation on what Michael Bird would call the American Inerrancy Tradition. (AIT) This goes with the perspicuity of Scripture in that everything should be plain. The question is why should we think this? Peter wrote in 2 Peter (If you think he wrote it) that there were many things in Paul’s letters which were hard to understand. This shouldn’t surprise us. Not everything in Scripture is clear.

Also, the writers insist that we have to have the exact words of Jesus. Why should we? It’s possible that Jesus spoke Greek, but it could be less likely that the common populace spoke Greek and if they did, then one wonders why Matthew would write out a form of Matthew in Aramaic. If he wrote a Gospel in Aramaic and one in Greek, he obviously had to translate some words. One could say some things could have been said on multiple occasions. It is doubtful that Jesus only gave a great parable one time.

However, some things were only said one time. What did Jesus say when He was on trial and when He was on the cross? How many times did Jesus give the Great Commission? If Matthew wrote a Gospel with both of these, one text at best would have the exact words. The other would have a translation. Also, paraphrase would not be a problem since even in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 5 gives a paraphrase of the Ten Commandments which were said to be written by the finger of God.

The writers may think it puts us in a panic state to not have Jesus’s exact words, but it really doesn’t. I also don’t think historical scholarship is in fact destroying the testimony of Scripture. I would contend the more we are doing good historiography, the more we are affirming Scripture. If one is scared to put sound historical methodology to use for Scripture, could it be one is scared of the outcome?

The saying has been that you treat Scripture like every other book to show that it is like no other book. I am not scared of applying the methodology of history to Scripture. If one wants to show a method is invalid, they need to show it and do so without question begging.

Ultimately, had we just had something like say the first half, this book could have been fine, but the more one gets into the text, the more one sees the panic button being pushed. What if? What if? What if? If one is worried that research of some kind could disprove Scripture, it says little about the Scriptures. It says a lot about them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Is The Bible Literally True?

Should we take the Bible literally? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Someone sent me an article from the Huffington Post recently on if the Bible is literally true. The article is by a Steve McSwain who is described as a speaker, author, counselor to congregations, Ambassador to the Councilor on the Parliament for World’s Religions, and Spiritual Teacher. No academic credentials are listed. He does also describe Christianity as his faith so he claims at some level to be a Christian.

He does say at the start that while he values the Bible, he doesn’t believe it to be divinely dictated or a sacred text without error. I don’t know any evangelical today who really holds to the dictation theory. No doubt, there are some in the rank and file who do, but not the majority.

He goes on to say that if you are a Biblical literalist, that this bothers you. You believe that everything must be literal and it must be error-free. At this, I have a problem. What is meant by literal? It’s a term that’s often used and yet few people really define it. Most people do not think Jesus is literally a door or a vine when He uses that language.

Sadly, McSwain is probably accurate when some people think that if they risk undermining the text or questioning it, they could undermine all of it. Everything goes out the window then. This is the all-or-nothing thinking that many Christians do have and amusingly, many skeptics have that as well. I recall one person on Unbelievable? asking a guest on the show that if the Bible doesn’t agree with how Judas died, then how can we trust that Jesus was crucified?

McSwain goes to the flood accounts and says that they obviously contradict. He points to the differences between verses 2 and 15 of chapter 7. Let’s go and look at what they say.

Verse 2: Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate

Verse 15: Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark.

Look. I know that there are possible claims of contradictions and such, but this is not a good one. All that is said in verse 15 is pairs came. It doesn’t specify how many and how many of each kind came. In that case, give the benefit of the doubt to the author instead.

He goes on to say that,

The real Moses never wielded a staff with supernatural powers, the tip of which, when dipped into the Nile, turned the river into a cesspool of blood. Or, when dipped into the Red Sea, caused it to part so Israelites could pass to the other side on dry, not muddy, ground.

None of these Biblical stories, including the ones where Jesus is depicted as defying the laws of nature and performing miracles… as in, walking on water or giving sight to the blind or, most amazingly, raising dead people back to life were recorded as factual, or literal, eyewitness accounts. And, even if they were, they cannot be depicted as such today, if you want any of it to be believed… to be respected… or, to be read with any seriousness.

For the sake of argument, this could be true, but the problem is McSwain gives us no reason to believe any of this. I also have to wonder what kind of Christian he is if he denies any miracles at all. Again, McSwain’s case could hypothetically be right, but he has given us no reason to think so, that is, unless you just come out and agree that miracles don’t happen, but that is the very thing under question.

As for the idea of eyewitness accounts, it would be nice to see some interaction with scholarship, such as Richard Bauckham, but we can suspect that won’t happen. Statements of faith are problematic no matter who says it. Unfortunately, mayn people will read McSwain and believe it because, well he’s in the Huffington Post, and do so without any real reason why they should believe it.

What matters to McSwain is how the stories have shaped the lives of those who hear its message. This can sound good, but while it’s great that people have their lives changed, do we want to enforce the Noble Lie? If Christianity is not true, then there is truly no resurrection, no heaven beyond this world, no hell to shun, no forgiveness of sins, no real love of God.

It’s hard to believe that the early church was really excited about that.

McSwain has a watered down faith. Note I have not said he has to embrace inerrancy, but he seems to have just embraced that Christianity is all about being a good person and the truth of the Bible does not matter. If anything, the truth of the Bible matters abundantly. If it is true that God lived among us and that Jesus died and rose again and there is real forgiveness and a heaven to gain and a hell to avoid and eternal life in resurrected bodies, I should think we would want to know it. If it is not true, then who really cares? But if it is true, it matters greatly. As has been said, if Christianity is not true, it is of no importance. If it is true, it is of the utmost importance.

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/13/2018: Dr. George Delgado

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

Choice is awesome! Right? We’ve all been granted supposedly the freedom of choice. We have abortionists marching down the street talking about a woman’s right to choose. Now we have come so far that there is even an abortion pill. Who needs to go to a Planned Parenthood? Just be at home and pop the pill and boom, problem solved.

But what if you have regrets?

For instance, if you talk to people who have survived a suicide attempt, many of them have regretted the move immediately after they made the attempt. By then, it’s too late and measures must be taken to save them. What if you take the pill and down it and then think, “Oh my. What have I done?” Can there be anything done to help you?

Fortunately, Dr. George Delgado has a technique to reverse the effects of the abortion pill for those in need. That way, a child can be saved. Naturally, we know the pro-choice crowd has been thrilled with this because choice is such a wonderful thing and…

Wait.

You say they’re not?

That’s interesting.

Anyway, Dr. Delgado will be talking about his work and his organization this Saturday with me. We will have a one-hour podcast where we will discuss what we can do to further stop abortion. Of course, for that, we need to know more about who Dr. Delgado is. So who is he?

                                                                                   

According to his bio:

Dr. George Delgado is the medical director of APR and Culture of Life Services (COLFS) in San Diego County. He received his medical degree from the University of California, Davis and completed his residency at Santa Monica Hospital/UCLA. He is board certified in family medicine, hospice and palliative medicine, health care ethics, NaProTECHNOLOGY, and the Creighton Model for Natural Family Planning (NFP). He has been practicing family medicine since 1988.

Be warned since we’re talking about the abortion pill and such that this could contain some graphic information so if you have children around, you might want to hold off on this podcast until later.

We’ll be talking about what the pill is and what it does. Then we’ll be talking about Delgado’s plan to reverse the effects of the pill. What does it do and how does it work and are there any side-effects? Are we seeing healthy babies that survive the pill as a result of what Dr. Delgado is doing? What can be done to further help this project and why is it that the people on the left are upset about this? Are they not the people who are always saying that they support a woman’s right to choose? Why be upset if a woman decides to choose to reverse the effects of the abortion pill?

I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast and please considering going on iTunes and leaving a positive review of the show. I really delight in seeing what you think of the program. Hope you enjoy it!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Is Your Pastor’s Job?

What is your pastor supposed to do? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about how our churches are not equipping us. Someone replied at a place where I posted it saying an hour a week on Sunday is not enough. This is absolutely true. Even if we added in Sunday school and Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services, it still can’t compare to the media onslaught most of us get every day.

As I reflected on this, I thought of something else that is often not mentioned. Evangelism is not the pastor’s job per se. Now all of us are meant to be evangelists to an extent, but what I mean is that we often have an odd view of how to get people to come to Christ.

We go out and we meet a neighbor who is an unbeliever. What do we think the plan is? Oh! Well, you invite them to church and then when in church the pastor gives a message and the person is convicted and they repent and come to Jesus. This can happen, but this is not the way it really is supposed to happen.

It sounds like a stretch to some, but really, the person who is supposed to bring that person to Jesus is you. A pastor should certainly when giving a message keep in mind there could be unbelievers in the audience and be willing to offer them the chance to come to Christ, but that is not his main role. His main role is indeed to equip the saints further.

Our methodology today often absolves us of any responsibility. We get them to church and then the pastor takes over. Your pastor, no matter how good he is, cannot be Superman. He cannot do everything. He has his limitations on him as well.

Consider it as a coach. A coach wants players to be able to make the decisions as if he wasn’t even there. Sure, a player can go to a coach for a strategy if he needs one, but a coach will not be supportive of a player who goes to him for everything that he is thinking about. The player needs to learn how to play as much as possible without the coach.

This means that when you do evangelism, you might actually have to learn how to answer questions yourself. You might have to learn how to dialogue yourself. You might actually have to do some bizarre things. This could include such things as reading the Bible on your own, praying on your own, reading devotional literature or studying theology, apologetics, church history, or anything else on your own.

In other words, your Christianity might require some work on your part.

“But I don’t have time!” I hear as you sit down to watch the rerun of that show you’ve seen 27 times so far. I hear it as you sit down to follow your favorite sports franchise that you can’t seem to live without. I hear it as you do whatever is that you’re doing during the day.

The problem is that if something is truly important to you, you will make the time for it somehow. If your Christianity is important to you, you will make the time for it. If it isn’t, you won’t. You will find some excuse and go back to what is really important to you.

Your pastor should help you along the way, but that’s not what he’s there. He’s there to equip and encourage, but like a teacher, he’s also there to help you so that you won’t need help eventually. Hopefully, at that point, he will be like a wise mentor that you come to only periodically.

When the church is producing people who are ultimately teachers of the Gospel themselves and evangelists themselves, then the work is being done. When it is just producing people who think their only job is to bring unbelievers to the pastor, it is not, at least on that front. It is my hopes we will see more and more equipped churches where the huge majority is truly growing in Christ.

In Christ,
Nick Peters