Book Plunge: Always Be Ready

What do I think of Hugh and Kathy Ross’s book published by Reasons To Believe? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I read a lot of apologetics books. I read all levels. Some books are entry level. Some are intermediate. Some are advanced. I have high standards. When Hugh And Kathy Ross sent me an apologetics book they had written, I saw the title and thought it looked like something basic. I looked at the bibliography. It was only three pages.

Great.

So I pick it up. There is one chapter dedicated to science apologetics. I really don’t know much about what to say with that. I have a stance that I stay out of science debates like that. I don’t know enough to recognize nonsense from accuracy. I think science is fascinating, but I can’t argue one side anyway.

But that’s the only kind of chapter like that. The rest of the book starts getting fascinating as Hugh Ross talks so much about how he came to believe in Christianity. It’s a fascinating autobiographical look at things. I count Dr. Ross a dear friend of mine and I knew some of it, but a lot I didn’t know and it was amazing stuff.

Did I agree with all of it? No. Ross makes a lot about Israel being founded in 1948 and that as a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. As an orthodox Preterist, I don’t agree, but the great thing about Ross is I know he wouldn’t have any problem with that.  If you want to work with Reasons To Believe, you’re actually required to have something that you disagree with Ross on.

Yet the story just gets fascinating to see Ross describe growing up and his life on the autism spectrum, something I relate to as one on the spectrum as well. Ross talks about problems in school and the care that he got from one special teacher. Teachers. Please never underestimate the influence that you could have on one student.

Ross also talks about the influence of Kathy on his life after he met her. At this point, as one who knows Ross’s story with her, I would have liked to have heard more. He talks about her showing up at a Bible Study he was at and then sometime later on, we hear that he’s her bride. Whoa! How did we get to that point so quickly? I would have liked to have read more how the romance developed. This could be especially helpful for people on the spectrum who are waiting to get married.

Ross goes throughout the book then talking about ministry opportunities that have come up in his life in working with the church and the launching of Reasons To Believe. Ross has it apparently that he gets into encounters all the time where he gets to share the gospel. I found this to be exciting reading.

That means that in the end, this could very well be my favorite book that I’ve ever read by Ross. It left me wanting those own opportunities to come and watching the world around me for when they could show up. It’s my sincere prayer that they will.

If you’re wanting to get a book that will equip you to go out there and have the best answers to deal with those who contradict the faith, this isn’t the book for you. If you want a book that can help discuss how to approach people better and give the Gospel, especially in a church setting, and examples of ways you can use apologetics in evangelism, this is the book for you. Veteran apologists will not likely learn much in the area of apologetics knowledge, but hopefully, they will gain a desire to interact more.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Please Support Ed Komoszewski

What can you do to help? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Whenever I have been to churches, I have always grown antsy when they talked about money. I understand if people are getting concerned with this, but this is not to support me. This is to support someone else. This is to support Ed Komoszewski.

Many fine Christians will tell you that this is someone to support. Daniel Wallace, Darrell Bock, Rob Bowman, and Mike Licona all come to mind. Ed is one of the writers of the book Putting Jesus In His Place which is an excellent defense of the deity of Christ. He has done much to serve the Kingdom of God.

You would never know the suffering he goes through.

Yet he does.

I have been told that he wakes up every morning and has to throw up for some time. Eating is very hard for him. He has been regularly to the Mayo clinic and no one can really figure out what’s wrong with him. Despite this, he is still serving. Just recently he turned in another paper on the historical Jesus.

Recently, Ed was in a Wal-Mart and his heart failed on him. He lost consciousness entirely. Ed woke up in the intensive care unit. He was told the electrical system in his heart would no longer work and he had a pacemaker implanted.

This is in addition to everything else he deals with. In the past sixteen months, he has undergone major hospitalization four times. This is a strain on him and on his family as well.

Ed’s bills are still coming in and his family is having to have the burden. Many people have helped through the GoFundMe, but many more could help and even if the goal is reached, let any extra income come in because barring a miracle, which we should pray for, there will be another time.

Speaking from experience, I can say despite what Ed goes through, he has been more positive than many of us are with less. My wife has been posting about her weight loss and so many times he posts encouraging messages to her. I keep thinking this should be the reverse. We should be the one posting encouraging messages to Ed.

I can’t help but think of Paul in prison in Philippians. Paul is the one in prison and he is writing to them about the importance of joy. It doesn’t make sense to us, but Ed is being like that. Ed is out there in his suffering and he doesn’t draw attention to himself. He doesn’t say “Woe is me” (At least in public). He does all that he can to give to the kingdom.

We Christians are supposed to care for our own. It’s about time that we did that. In all honesty, my family does not have the money to donate, and Ed I am sure knows this, but I want to know that if you do have the means, do consider making a donation to Ed and his family. They could really use your support.

Ed’s GoFundMe

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Since The Beginning

What do I think of Kyle Greenwood’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We all know that from the very beginning, Genesis 1 and 2 were thought to be totally scientific accounts to know about the origins of the cosmos. Everyone believed that the Earth was 6,000 years old or so. Then along came modern times and people began to reject that idea with the teaching of evolution.

We all know that.

But sometimes we don’t know what we think we really know.

People who think this really need to pick up this latest book by Kyle Greenwood. Greenwood is the editor as he has many writers write about the interpretation of these two chapters throughout history. Since it’s 1-2, it covers more than just the age of the Earth, but the age of the Earth is what comes to mind immediately for most people.

If you were like me, you would think that the first part would be to look at the Ante-Nicene Fathers and see what they had to say about the text. If you were like me, you would also be wrong. Greenwood takes the bizarre stance of looking at an Old Testament text by actually beginning with the Old Testament text. From there, he goes on to list ways themes from this portion of Scripture show up in the rest of the Old Testament.

From there, we get to Second Temple Judaism. These are the ideas from what is known as more of the Intertestamental period. What was being said about the text then? What do we find in the Dead Sea Scrolls?

This is followed by the New Testament. When we look at the writers and speakers of the New Testament, they will often refer to the Old Testament. How did they see the text? What can we learn? This is especially important for those of us who are Christians since most of us would see this text as inspired in some way.

After that, we get to see what rabbis at the time of Jesus were saying about the passages. Here we get to see some of the creativity of them. One rabbi asked another why it was that Adam was with Eve when the serpent came and yet he said nothing. The other responded that Adam and Eve had just got done having sexual intercourse so Adam fell asleep and when Eve woke him up with the fruit he took it not knowing what it was.

They were certainly creative.

From there we get to the Ante-Nicene Fathers. The point being that if you think we’re just going to jump into Christian interpretations immediately, you’ll be mistaken. As you go through, you realize people had many different views. You discuss the length of the days, the role of Sabbath, the location of the Garden of Eden, the role of men and women, etc.

And as you go through, you come to see that things aren’t as cut and dry as you would think. There have been many interpretations of the passage throughout history. Some you will think have something to them. Some you will wonder how anyone could have ever thought such a thing about them.

Sometimes I do wish more would have been said about the creation and role of humanity. For example, I remember wanting to see more about how the Fathers viewed men and women. It’s my understanding that sexuality was seen by them as a necessary evil and it should only be for the purpose of procreation.

Of course, we do eventually get to our own time and to post-Darwinian interpretations of the text. Yet once you get there, you’re not really surprised. In some ways, the interpretation is different, but in many ways, it’s the same. It’s the language to describe it I think that differs.

A valuable contribution to this will be to realize that interpretation has been multi-faceted from the beginning. Greenwood I am sure holds to an interpretation of the text, but he does not push for any of them here. He simply presents what is founded in history.

Anyone wanting to seriously study the text needs to interact with this book. It will be a valuable compendium for quite some time on thought throughout history on these texts. Hopefully, by reading from the past, we can learn more for today on how to understand what has happened since the beginning.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is It Wrong To Question God?

Is questioning the Almighty acceptable? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was with a group of guys last night and heard someone say that you’re not supposed to question God when talking about personal suffering. This is something that we often hear from Christians. It’s as if it somehow shows a lack of faith. In reality, I think it’s quite false.

I spoke to this man later and talked with him, because I didn’t want him living with guilt when going through a hard time on top of any other struggles that he has. The Bible consistently has people questioning God. The Psalms are one such book. You do not have to go far into the book before you find people questioning God. These are not minor matters either. These are heartfelt cries asking if God is there and if He really cares or not.

And this is a great benefit for us. After all, do we view God as a Counselor as is said in Isaiah 9:5-6? What kind of counselor is it that you can’t be honest with. Are you really angry with God and having questions for Him? It’s not like you can hide it from Him. He knows it already. Let it out.

That’s actually very healthy anyway. Often, psychologists speak of this as a catharsis. We can have moments where we have so much emotion built up in us that we just have to let them out. If we store them up inside of us, they don’t do us much good. Why think you can let them loose on another human being, but not on God?

Habakkuk is another great book for this. Habakkuk is a different prophet. Many of the prophets went to the people on behalf of God. The book of Habakkuk is the prophet going to God on behalf of the people. Jeremiah is another one. You can find written in the book of Jeremiah the complaints of Jeremiah. Even in the book his secretary Baruch is of the opinion that what he is going through is pointless.

Of course, there’s Job. Job went through intense suffering. In discussing this, I asked the real purpose of Job. The purpose of Job is not to help you understand suffering and evil. If you go through it wanting to know why bad things happen to good people, you are going to be disappointed. When God shows up at the end, He says nothing about the suffering of Job.

What is it about then? It’s about the question of the accuser. Does God serve Job for nothing? If Job did not have all these blessings in his life, would he continue to serve? In the end, Job passes the test. Job is faithful to God and blessed. This despite Job questioning God and being angry with Him.

John the Baptist in the New Testament is another example. John as a baby leapt in the womb when Jesus came over and who saw Heaven open and a dove descend on Jesus at baptism and heard the voice of God speak at that moment. John also grew up certainly hearing stories about his cousin. This John the Baptist. What does he say?

He’s in prison and sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the Messiah or should we wait for another. Jesus gives an answer to show that He is. Then Jesus turns to the crowd and talks about how hard it is to find faith because here even is John the Baptist and yet John is without faith and….

Wait.

What’s that?

He doesn’t say that?

He says what?

He says that of all men born to that time, none of them is greater than John the Baptist? You mean Jesus blesses and holds up as an example the guy who questioned Him? Jesus celebrates this man? Sure, he says the least in the Kingdom of Heaven will be greater than him, but he sure heaps some praise on John.

Now don’t get me wrong. How you question God could be wrong. Questioning itself is not necessarily. Faith can be something you wrestle with. When I go through some intense suffering, I do ask why. One often thinks that if they were God, they would do such and such. In reality, you wouldn’t, because if you were God, you’d have the perfect knowledge and wisdom that He has.

If anything, coming to God and being honest is a step of trust. It’s telling God that you don’t know what is going on, but you want to understand better, yet you are just thoroughly perplexed by what He is doing, or sometimes not doing. Questioning can be a way of saying you are willing to let God see all of you, which is kind of a no-brainer because He already does and you can’t hide anything from Him anyway.

Go ahead and question. God’s not obligated to give you an answer and honestly, we probably wouldn’t understand the answer, but you can know that He is there and He does hear and He does care. We in evangelical circles often sing the hymn “Just As I Am.”

Come to Him just as you are. He already knows. He heals up the wounds of the brokenhearted and He is there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sex. It’s Worth Waiting For

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

If I’m not reading on apologetics, I’m often reading on sex and marriage. One topic that’s interesting in this is encouraging young people to wait for marriage, like my wife and I both did. The importance in this topic is to find the balance.

One clear memory I have is being at a church I attended when they had a Silver Ring Thing, which is like True Love Waits. The pastor speaking was saying if you have sex for marriage, it will be for selfish reasons. Okay. I can agree with that. Then he encouraged thinking about the consequences. What if you get pregnant? Get an STD? What will you have to tell your future spouse one day? What about shame? What about guilt?

And I’m thinking, “Those sound like selfish reasons to me also.”

This guy went on and on. He gave about a sentence about the joy of sex in marriage and kept going on about not having it beforehand. I started zoning out. Pastors. If you are teaching about sex in church and a college-age guy is in the audience and getting bored, you are doing it wrong.

Greg Speck’s book is written to teenagers so it is a bit odd for someone in his late-thirties to be reading it, but I want to see what is said. I liked a lot of what I said. Speck’s style is easy to follow. He writes in a way that teenagers will understand. (Okay. To be fair, I didn’t read the whole section on STDs. That was a bit gross.) He also writes with a pastoral heart.

There are many chapters. Speck wants the readers to first off know, sex is more than just intercourse. It can start off small, and then go on from there. Many times, we want to know how close we can get to the line without crossing. It’s a quite foolish stance, though understandable. It’s like we want to put ourselves in unnecessary risk. I personally recommend couples go no further past step eight in their relationship in The Twelve Steps of Intimacy until they marry.

Speck goes into Biblical reasons also for waiting until marriage, but then he also has testimonials from teenagers who didn’t. I think the last part is particularly worthwhile. Sadly for many young people, a few Bible verses will not be enough. If you’re sitting with your girlfriend on a couch, a random verse from Paul won’t likely stop anything. Now if you have a thoroughly thought out position of sex and know how it fits into a Christian worldview, that’s a different matter, but many young people do not. (And honestly, many adults don’t either.)

From there, Speck goes on to various other situations involving sexuality. These are ones that often aren’t talked about with teenagers, but they need to be. These include incest, rape, and the fear that you could be homosexual. There is also a section on pornography and masturbation and with the former, Speck does admit he had to struggle with that.

This is followed with sections for guys only and girls only. I found these a bit interesting, but I was curious. An unmarried guy wrote for the girls and an unmarried woman for the boys. I suppose that you could always look at different ways this could be done. Perhaps in a future edition there could be testimonials from married couples who waited.

While there is a section on God’s design for marriage, I would have liked to have seen something more at the end. I think too often we can give the negatives, but we definitely need to emphasize those positives. Yes. This is something great worth waiting for. This would be the benefit of testimonials of people who waited until marriage. There’s a saying that the devil will do anything he can to get you to have sex before you’re married, and afterward he will do anything he can to keep you from having sex.

Which brings me to one small criticism. As an Orthodox Preterist, I already think the devil is bound. This does not mean there are not demons running around still, but I think we give the devil far too much power. Speck does point to the devil being a cause of temptation many times. I am of the persuasion that often we don’t need the devil to be tempted, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. As the saying goes, “Lead me not into temptation. I will find it myself.”

Still, I think this would be a very helpful book for youth groups to go through together. Naturally, I think guys and girls would need to go through it separately. Having guys and girls together and talking about an issue like this in close quarters could have the opposite effect desired after all!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Thoughts On Erotica

Is Mommy porn a problem? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend of mine messaged me this weekend telling me that I’d written about porn, which is a great struggle for men (And also more and more so for women), but couldn’t a lot of erotica be in the same boat? Could this be for many women what porn is for men? Isn’t that worthy of a post?

Request granted.

Granted also that I don’t read erotica. I have no desire to do so either. I consider it the same as saying that I don’t need to go and watch porn in order to do research on porn.

Let’s also be clear what I mean by erotica. I don’t mean just any romance novel. There are some Christian romance novels out there. I do not know how good they are, but they are out there. I definitely mean material that is much more explicit, such as, say, Fifty Shades of Grey.

I also don’t necessarily mean chick flicks either. I think I, like all guys who date, had to watch The Notebook, for example. (It’s a hidden rule I think all women have that guys they’re with have to watch it.) Yet at the same time, we all know which sex was going the most to see Magic Mike.

I also don’t mean the traditional love stories, although let’s be clear that there are some myths in them, and I don’t mean Cinderella having a pumpkin turn into a coach. I mean the idea that you will meet a man and because he’s a prince, he will sweep you off your feet and naturally, those words that are never really accurate, “Happily Ever After.” Cinderella may have married Prince Charming, but she would wake up one day and realized he had bad morning breath and that he left his dirty socks outside the laundry basket.

But that could get us to something that is the problem. Unrealistic expectations many times. If we talk about pornography, we can talk about girls that have their features altered so that they have vastly unrealistic proportions. Today, women often think they have to compete with that hot actress on the TV show. You know, the one that has undergone hours of make-up and such before she ever gets on the set.

Most of us men say you don’t. You’re gorgeous to us as you are.

The problem with erotica is that women are usually more turned on through words and touch than they are through sight. That doesn’t mean sight is irrelevant, but it doesn’t woo a woman the same way. For me, just give me the sight of my bride and that is more than enough. I just don’t understand why it is sometimes that doesn’t work the same way in reverse. (And hey, it can’t be me because obviously Allie married a total stud. Right? Why are you laughing?)

Women have dreams of romance, and there’s nothing wrong with that. When my sister was four, she was already planning her wedding out. When something like Sleeping Beauty is on, men relate to the knight fighting and slaying the dragon. Women relate most to being rescued by the knight. (But hey, we men aren’t going to complain about waking her up with a kiss either.)

And men, let’s sadly face it that too many of us stop this after we marry her. Now many men I know say their wives could not keep their hands off of them when they were dating and wanted to kiss so much, but when they married, that all changed. We change too. Many a man no longer works to impress their wives. It’s a common trope to hear about men forgetting anniversaries and birthdays.

Part of that is we men are conquerors and when we’ve already succeeded at one task, winning the bride, we move on to the next. How about we make the task be “Impressing the bride?” This doesn’t mean you go all out every day, but it does mean that you make an effort everyday to please.

But for women, well it’s too easy to be resistant to your husband and then go and read an erotica novel and then come back and expect your husband to behave exactly like the man does. It’s as unrealistic as a man expecting the woman he’s with to act like that porn star does. Your man is not scripted. He is not written out. He will not do things perfect.

Yes. Your man will do many many stupid things in romance with you. He might take you to a restaurant you don’t like or he might belch in the middle of an intimate moment. Prince Charming can have morning breath. He’s not going to be perfect.

But if you have too many false ideas built up just like he can with pornography, it’s going to be harder and harder for him to measure up and could get you looking elsewhere. The grass might be greener on the other side of the fence. A big problem when many people leave relationships is that they go to the next one thinking it will be better because that other person was such a problem. Many times this is done without them looking at themselves and improving themselves and the history just repeats.

Ladies. Here’s a little tip for you to interact with your man. If you want something, just say it. We men are totally oblivious with hints. My wife has told me there have been three times she’s been in a romantic mood and tried to tell me and I totally missed her hints. Three times! (Excuse me. I have to pause writing this to go and mourn.)

In all honesty, if you tell your man something that you really want, he will want to do it for you. If my wife is out somewhere and I’m with her and I see her mention something she’d like, I remember it. She and I both play Pokemon and once when she was out, she saw a Sylveon at a Wal-Mart that she really wanted. We didn’t have the money in the wallet so I said I couldn’t. I went home where I had Amazon credit and ordered all nine forms of Eevee including Sylveon on Amazon for her. They were much smaller in size, but she got all of them.

I really don’t think I’m alone.

Ladies. Your man is always wanting to know that he’s your man. He’s always wanting to measure up. Make him think he has to compete with erotica and it can be just like you think you have to compete with porn, and you shouldn’t. If your man is no longer trying really and doesn’t seem to care, that’s something else to work on and perhaps counseling would help, but please try to give your man the benefit of the doubt. He wants to please you.

Even if he doesn’t do perfect, remember him when he tries. Men take criticism from their wives very seriously. Every time it makes us think we’re failing and if we get the message enough, we just stop trying. I don’t even care for it if I’m taking a break and playing a video game and my wife likes to point out every time I make a mistake. That might seem minor to you, but that’s the way we men are. We want to be great at everything we do no matter how small.

Ladies. Be careful about the books that you’re picking up just like he should about the websites he’s visiting. Perhaps it might be better instead of reading a book about how you want to be romanced, for you to read a book about how to romance your husband. You can be sure he will greatly appreciate it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Does It Matter If The Resurrection Is A Metaphor?

Does it matter if the resurrection was literal? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Wednesday night, I was at the debate between my father-in-law, Mike Licona, and John Dominic Crossan about who the historical Jesus was and how he saw himself. I hate to say it, but it really wasn’t much of a debate because I don’t think anyone really understood what Crossan was arguing. Crossan was putting practically everything into the world of metaphor and saying that the message was a metaphor and that he would die for a metaphor and if the resurrection is literal, what difference would it make? The real question is are we living resurrected lives.

When I got up to ask a question, I said my wife and I enjoy being married. Still, we wonder what will happen when our time comes. Will we be together forever? I replied that a literal resurrection can assure us that we will be. What hope can a metaphor give us?

The reply was something along the lines of how the message was not the resurrection of individuals but that the human race would overcome. The violence of Rome would be overthrown by non-violence. This is supposedly the good news of Jesus.

There are a number of things I wonder about this, such as how this Jesus got crucified. Despite that, there is one thing I want to focus on. The resurrection. Does it make a difference if it’s a metaphor or literal?

I’m not going to go into making a whole case for the resurrection. That has been done plenty of times elsewhere. I am going to be emphasizing the difference it makes and to be fair, it is easy to miss this many times.

One big difference is that we live in a world where death is a reality. We see it all around us. We know that when the game over comes for someone, it really is game over barring a miracle. It’s a sad reality. When we bury a loved one, they are dead, and the relationship is not the same.

Will it ever be? Is that it?

We live in a world of injustice. Recently here in Atlanta, we had a police officer shot who died from that and his killer was found within 48 hours and also died when he pulled out a weapon on police officers. There are many crimes that take place and sadly, the culprit is never found. Some people seem to go free.

Will there ever be justice?

Sometimes people die from disease. Our friend, Nabeel Qureshi, died from stomach cancer at an extremely young age. Just today in my Facebook memories I saw something about a friend who passed away last year. She was an older lady, but it’s still hard to see.

Will this ever be righted?

What about our universe itself? Some of you out there I am sure believe we are responsible for some climate change. We live in a world there does seem to be a lot of destruction. We want to colonize other planets, but even if we do, the universe is destined to die a cold death and take us with it.

Is there any point?

What about our bodies themselves? Do they matter? Are human beings just objects. Does it matter what I do with my body? Does it matter how I behave sexually or how my diet is?

What difference does it make?

This is why the resurrection matters? Will we live again and see each other again? Yes. Will evil be judged and good rewarded? Yes. Will lives be redeemed that died from tragic disease? Yes. Will the Earth and the universe be renewed and made eternal paradises? Yes. Do our bodies matter and how we treat them? Yes.

The resurrection matters.

It matters that it’s literal.

I think I’ll stick with the literal resurrection. That’s the good news that overcame the Earth. Christianity isn’t just a nice story. It’s a reality about the world and everything in it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Those interested in the debate can listen to it here.

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/27/2018: Doug Beaumont and Jefrey Breshears

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

A little over 500 years ago, Martin Luther put up his 95 theses and after that, the world has never been the same. A rift was eventually created unlike any before. The Catholic Church had dealt with opposition, but due to the printing press, this one lasted with the ideas being broadcast far and wide.

In the aftermath, both sides hardly came together and started asking “Why can’t we be friends?” Instead, both sides have been guilty in the past have handling things in a less than Christlike way. Namely, killing each other. Wars would take place with Protestants and Catholics both being on the run.

Today, things are different. Many of us will happily work alongside one another. While for the most part, most of us do see the other side as fellow Christians, there are still areas of disagreement. We can all be benefitted by good discussions about what those disagreements are and how to handle them. Is the Catholic Church the church that Jesus established? Or do the Protestants have it right and the teaching of Scripture is the only infallible authority the church has?

To discuss this, I have a show coming up with a Catholic and a Protestant. Doug Beaumont, a former professor of mine at SES turned Catholic will represent the Catholics. Jefrey Breshears, founder of the Areopagus here in Atlanta will represent the Protestants.

So who are they?

According to his bio:

Douglas Beaumont earned a Ph.D. in theology from North-West University and an M.A. in apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary, where he taught for several years before coming into full communion with the Catholic Church. He has since appeared on The Journey Home and Catholic Answers Live, and has been interviewed by The National Catholic Register, EWTN, Relevant Radio, and The Patrick Coffin Show. He is the author of Evangelical Exodus and The Message Behind the Movie, has contributed to Bumper Sticker Catholicism, The Best Catholic Writing, The Apologetics Study Bible for Students, and the Christian Apologetics Journal, and has written online articles for Catholic Answers Magazine, Strange Notions, and Catholic World Report. He can be found online at douglasbeaumont.com.

And for Jefrey Breshears

According to his bio:

I received my Ph.D. in history from Georgia State University, specializing in two fields: (1) Ancient history, philosophy and religion; and (2) modern United States history. I also taught for 15 years at Georgia State and Kennesaw State University, and also at Atlanta Christian College and Reformed Theological Seminary, during which time I taught courses in ancient and medieval history, early and modern U.S. history, and political history.  I also developed a course entitled “American History Off the Record: Social and Political Themes in Popular Music from World War I Through the 1970s.”  In 2003 I founded the Areopagus, a Christian education organization in the Atlanta area that offers semester-length seminar courses and forums on topics related to Christian history, apologetics, contemplative Christian spirituality, literature and the arts, and contemporary cultural issues.

Having done some recent research on this topic, I am looking forward to having two people who have studied this more than I have come on and discuss the matter. I also hope this discussion will produce more light than heat. Be watching for the next episode and please consider leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Evidence Considered: Chapter 33

Did Jesus die on a cross? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Chapter 33, Jelbert looks to see if Jesus died on a cross or not. Now I will again state possible bias so that everyone can know I am being upfront. Mike is my father-in-law. That being said, even when it comes to the New Testament, we don’t agree on everything and when I watch his debates, I give an honest critique and he would tell you that if you asked him.

One would think this chapter would be a slam dunk. Of course, Jesus was crucified. Why would anyone think otherwise? While Jelbert is not a mythicist, which is a relief, he does still rely on G.A. Wells. Don’t ask me why. If you think a position isn’t really credible, why state your case on the New Testament from people of that persuasion?

Jelbert quotes Wells in saying it is unsatisfactory to trace the resurrection narratives in the Gospels to deliberate lies from eyewitnesses who concocted stories they knew to be false. Jelbert agrees. He points to Mormonism and Scientology as examples.

These are not convincing. Joseph Smith had a known reputation as a con man and he did gain a lot from his movement, such as a couple dozen wives, and even a revelation given to his wife Emma to let Joseph have all these wives. As we have pointed out also, Mormonism grew in a culture that was much more live and let live and had a Christian background and run to the West out of easy government reach if need be.

Scientology meanwhile is incredible profitable with people paying fortunes to deal with their problems there and a number of celebrities in the movement. The religion is seen as a strange one by many, but we don’t see mass persecution going on for Scientology. Compare this to the disciples who gained nothing from their religion and a number of them faced persecution for it.

Jelbert goes on to talk about the crucifixion and says while a swoon is unlikely, in that Jesus only appeared to die, it is more likely than that Jesus was God made man and was killed so that people could be saved from God/Himself (Will these guys ever get the Trinity right?), but only if they believed the above was factually accurate based on meager evidence. You gotta love the straw men that take place. Let’s consider some problems right here before we continue.

To begin with, all that’s being asked to believe in this chapter is that Jesus was crucified and died from that, which is a no-brainer. Of course on both. The next step to follow from that is resurrection itself. The claims of deity follow the resurrection. Was this on meager evidence? Well, let’s see. The disciples were convinced that this person had died. They knew he had been buried. They knew that tomb was empty. They saw Him alive again. These appearances lasted for some time. The body itself never materialized in any other way. If the accounts of the New Testament are their testimony, that evidence wasn’t meager for them.

Jelbert says though that most anything is more plausible than the above. In other words, Jelbert has said that no matter the evidence, anything that avoids something miraculous will be more probable. If this is the case, then we have simply the question that I asked to Bart Ehrman in a public debate in the Q&A to ask to Jelbert. This is that if a miracle is the least likely explanation by definition, is this said beforehand or after? If we want to say beforehand we are skeptical, I understand that, but if we say it afterwards, then are we not in danger of saying that no amount of evidence can bend the dial to make it that a miracle is more likely than not? If evidence will not change your position on a subject, your position is not based on evidence.

That being said, Jelbert does accept that Jesus died by crucifixion, but then he goes on to look at Tacitus and Josephus. He quotes Wells who quotes John P. Meier. Unfortunately, Wells does not tell us where this quote is found. He tells us that Meier says that Tacitus and Josephus both reflect what they heard Christians of their own day say and are not independent extracanonical sources. Tacitus is said to be repeating uncritically what was said.

Let’s start with Tacitus then. Tacitus was quite critical and an excellent researcher. As a senator and priest both, he would have access to records we would not have today and he would know how to examine them. It would be a simple matter for him to go and check and records that Rome had at the time and see that Pilate did crucify Jesus.

Was it hearsay? No. Tacitus was clear on his stance on the matter.

“My object in mentioning and refuting this story is, by a conspicuous example, to put down hearsay, and to request that all those into whose hands my work shall come not to catch eagerly at wild and improbable rumours in preference to genuine history.”
(Tacitus, Annals, IV.11)

Those who want to say Tacitus was uncritical and just repeating hearsay have a huge hurdle to climb over. It is one that the best Tacitus scholars have not accepted. Maybe, just maybe, they know more about Tacitus than these people do.

As for Josephus, very few would say that the Testimonium of Josephus is entirely from Josephus, but very few would also say the entirety is an interpolation, and that’s just one reference to Jesus. Most would agree that some part of it is authentic. This part does show that Jesus was a real person who was crucified.

On top of that, having something at eighty years after the event being too late would eliminate a lot of ancient history. Are Wells and Jelbert willing to do that to avoid Jesus? One fears they just might be.

Next we return to Jesus being an apocalyptist, which we have dealt with in the chapter looking at Darrell Bock and the Son of Man sayings. 1 Thess. 4:16-17 is given as an example of Paul thinking the parousia would happen in his lifetime. Is it really?

Let’s try an exercise. Let’s suppose Paul believes some things to be true.

#1. Jesus will bodily return someday.
#2. Paul does not know when this is.
#3. Paul knows he could die before Jesus returns.
#4. Paul does not know when he will die.

So let’s suppose Paul wants to let people know that this could happen, but he doesn’t know when. If he says, “Those who remain” then he is saying it won’t happen in his lifetime, but he knows no such thing. What does he say then? We. Why? It’s an editorial use to say that any of us who are alive at His coming will see Him and meet Him in the air.

Let’s consider how it works today. On some anniversaries of 9/11, it is not implausible for the U.S. government to say to be on the watch for a terrorist attack. Do they know it will happen? No. Is there a possibility it still could? Yes. Is our government lying or mistaken? No. They just want us to be prepared.

Jelbert also says Mark 13:2 is a failed prophecy when it claims all the stones of the Temple will be thrown down. Jelbert says they’re left on top of each other on the Western Wall. Technically, they are still thrown down even if that’s accurate since they are no longer connected to the temple. Not only that, the wall is not part of the temple but the temple mount. You can see here about that.

He also thinks it’s unlikely that Jesus by Himself could shut down the temple since it was so big. That’s not what is said. It refers to the temple courts and most likely this refers to one part of the Temple complex. It does not mean everything ceased to function.

He goes on to present Ehrman’s case for Jesus being arrested in that Judas shared information Jesus shared with them privately about His rule as messiah. Interestingly, Jelbert quotes Matt. 19:28 about this. This is our passage that we brought up with his chapter on Darrell Bock about Jesus saying that the twelve will sit on twelve thrones. Jesus says the Son of Man will rule on a throne. Where is Jesus going to be? It makes the most sense if Jesus is the Son of Man. Jelbert says it is plausible that Jesus is ruling them as the King Himself, but that would mean that Jesus is on a throne and the only other figure on a throne in there is the Son of Man. Do the math then.

It would have been better for Jelbert to have just said Jesus died by crucifixion and move on. When Ludemann begins his book asking what really happened to Jesus, he simply says the following:

“The fact of the death of Jesus as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable, despite hypotheses of a pseudo-death or a deception which are sometimes put forward. It need not be discussed further here.” (Gerd Ludemann. .”What Really Happened To Jesus?” Page 17.)

Would that Jelbert have simply done the same. He would not have provided even more reason for us to not consider him knowledgeable on the subject matter.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Porn Myth

What do I think of Matt Fradd’s book published by Ignatius? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Pornography is all around us in our world today. Hypothetically, I could make a few clicks right here on my computer and get to porn. In the past, young men would have to hide out in a shed somewhere finding their Dad’s magazines hidden in order to get a peek. No more. Rule 34 is all over the internet.

Many people today have come to accept it as normal. For talking about men who struggle, well boys will be boys. What are you going to do? The reality is that there is no reason this should be normal. Pornography should never be anything tolerated. We should all recognize it for the evil that it is on society.

Matt Fradd does write from a Catholic perspective, but you won’t find Catholicism emphasized in this book. You won’t find Christianity period emphasized. Fradd does not quote a bunch of Bible verses to make his point. He appeals to scientific and sociological data on pornography.

Also, he wants to state that being anti-porn is not anti-sex. If anything, being pro-porn is being anti-sex. Pornography will keep you from having a healthy and normal sexual relationship. As a man who avoided porn, I don’t really have comparisons for my wife’s body. Sex was something I really got to learn through experience and did not have to erase lies from porn about what sex is like, although to be fair, the media sure gives us a lot of lies in movies and television on what it’s like.

He also has lies about the industry. These include lies about porn being a safe industry. Reading stories like these will just chill you when you hear about the horrors that some women go through on the set. There also isn’t really any such thing as nice and friendly porn. All of it is putting women on display as objects.

And no, this is not empowering to women. This allows women to be seen as just objects. I often wonder the same thing when I hear about women having topless marches down the street. Yes. They’re getting the attention of men. Unfortunately, it’s not in the way that they want.

Next is a section on porn and sexuality. These include myths such as women don’t struggle with porn, it’s not addictive, and that anime porn is fine since it doesn’t involve real people. When I drive through our city of Atlanta, I hear several commercials about curing erectile dysfunction. I have a suspicion that many cases of this are due to the use of pornography. There are many men who sadly cannot get aroused by their wives because they have been too busy with fantasy women.

After that, we have a section on porn and other relationships. These include that marriage will cure us of porn obsessions and one I particularly hate, men wouldn’t struggle with porn if their wives were more attractive. There is nothing wrong with a woman wanting to look her best for her man, and she should, but it is not the woman’s fault if the man does something wrong. The woman could provide encouragement for the man unintentionally, but he is responsible for his own choices.

Finally, we get to personal struggles. These are the ideas that we can’t protect kids from porn in our world, a wife will never regain trust after seeing her husband using porn, and someone will always struggle with porn. To be fair, I think the last one properly understood is accurate. When I first took my wife to a Weight Watchers meeting, I was amazed hearing about how all the people who work with the program have gone through it. I said to one of them, “You all struggled with weight loss?” and I got told immediately, “STRUGGLE with weight loss.” That hit home.

If in the sense that one realizes they will always have temptation and have to fight it, it is true. In the sense that they will always be a victim, that is not true. When we meet people struggling with porn and they want to overcome it, we should have sympathy for them and come alongside them and help them.

I have always thought the porn industry is a wicked industry. Fradd’s book really helps to show how problematic it is. Men and women who are struggling with porn need to read this and realize this is an industry they don’t want to support, and as one myth shows, you are supporting it even if you don’t pay money for it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters