Deeper Waters Podcast 9/1/2018: Allie Peters

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

Life is a beautiful and sacred gift, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like that. We all have times where suffering enters into our lives. Christians aren’t immune. Unfortunately, even Christians can be tempted to make awful choices when that happens. Even Christians can be tempted to throw in the towel. Even Christians can actually attempt to give up, and sadly some will succeed.

Some will not. Some will live on to tell the tale. Life can still be a battle for them, but they will tell the tale about what happened. They can talk about the impact they saw on the people around them and how it affected them. They can talk about what they have learned.

September is suicide awareness month. It is a time of the year when we try to remember that this is a real problem and it’s still with us. Whenever a celebrity has successfully committed suicide, unfortunately, the suicide rates make a spike after that. Sin breeds sin after all.

My wife is one person who has been affected by this greatly seeing as she is herself a suicide survivor. This is after more than one attempt. Her parents have found her after an attempt and I have found her after an attempt. Both of us were left devastated by such events. Indeed, to this day, I cannot hear the siren of a first responder without thinking about it.

We’ll be talking about Allie’s life some as bullying definitely played an impact on her as she was growing up. We might look at this as “kids will be kids” but it is getting worse and social media isn’t helping. I personally place a lot of blame on the self-esteem movement as I am not convinced we can stop all bullying, but we can certainly equip kids to be better able to respond to bullying.

But how can a Christian ever feel this way or even do this? Doesn’t this contradict what we are told in Scripture? If we really think this, is it proper to talk to someone about their salvation status if they are really considering the choice of suicide?

What about other people out there listening? How should we respond if we think someone around us could be contemplating suicide? Are there any warning signs to look for? What do we do if we think that there is someone around us or even on social media who we think could be suicidal? How should we respond to such a claim?

I hope you’ll be listening. As is no doubt known, my wife is my favorite guest to have on the show and we will be here together to talk about this important topic. September is the month for suicide awareness and if you are considering this awful choice or know someone who is, I really hope you’ll listen and please don’t do this choice. All of life is sacred and that includes you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Chapter 26

Is ID caught in the vise? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The good news as we return to Glenton Jelbert’s work is that this is the final science chapter before moving to history. (Well, good news for me at least.) The bad news is this is probably the most tedious chapter in the book as Jelbert responds to the claims of William Dembski. Dembski in this one is speaking of putting a naturalist in an intellectual vise. I think Jelbert treats this uncharitably as he implies Dembski is like an inquisitor applying torture. Dembski is more of a lawyer grilling the opposing witness.

As I have said, I am not a supporter of ID, but I am a supporter of good argumentation. So what is said?

Jelbert at one point says we cannot find design in nature because that would be looking at nature that is not nature, but this is begging the question. It is saying that nature is undesigned and if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be nature, but who says this is so? I can hold to design, but not in the ID sense, but in that of classical teleology.  Can Jelbert demonstrate that nature has no design to it? Dembski may mean something different, but for me, I mean order and that is relatively abundant. Per Edward Feser’s classic example, an iceberg floating through the water makes any water around it colder. It does not turn it into cotton candy.

Jelbert also says there is no precise criteria that tells you what science is and isn’t. Surely this is not so! For one, we can say that science deals with what is material in nature. We do not need to do an experiment everyday to see if 1 + 1 = 2. This is true for all times and all places. When it comes to metaphysical questions, such as God, science is not much help. It’s the opposite. Science needs the grounding of metaphysics to be of use.

Jelbert also says that methodological naturalism is saying that science should limit itself to material causes. No evidence is given for this claim. Why should I accept it? Furthermore, isn’t Jelbert again begging the question? If the cause of an event is non-miraculous, such as God for instance, then science will be unable to find the answer and NOT lead us to the truth.

I have no problem with wanting to try to find material causes first, but if evidence builds up that something extra-material has acted, then we should accept it. Not only that, this I think puts much of science in a bind. As a theist, I can happily accept evolution and if God did it that way, that’s how He did it. For the naturalist, it HAS to be a materialistic process like evolution. Note that I am not arguing against evolution in saying this. I am saying as Alvin Plantinga says, for the naturalist, it’s the only game in town.

It is true that some Christians see evolution as a killer to Christianity, but I think this is highly mistaken. On the other hand, evolution is often seen as a necessary staple for atheism. As Dawkins says, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Who then has the most at stake? Prove evolution to me and I go to church just fine the next Sunday. Disprove it to an atheist and could there be a major gap in their worldview?

Jelbert also says that numerous tests have been done to try to disprove materialism such as the efficacy of prayer and the experiments have failed. Later on, Jelbert will say excuses are made such as “We can’t test God.” Well, yeah. We can’t.

The problem with the prayer experiments is not bad science I think so much as bad theology. It is saying that if God is real, then He will respond in such and such a way to prayer. How do we know this? God could have any number of reasons for healing someone or for not healing someone and God is under no obligation to answer X number of prayers. There are so many variables I never consider such things reliable.

Yet you have someone like Craig Keener produce his massive work on miracles, and this gets no interaction. These are cases where I think one can justifiably think an extramaterial agent has interacted. Note this again is a problem for the atheist. If all of Keener’s examples were disproven, theism would still be safe with metaphysical arguments and Christianity safe with the resurrection of Jesus. If atheism is true, none of the miracles can be true miracles.

Jelbert also says one of the problems with ID is it knew what it wanted to find before it started and did the work that way. Yet Jelbert says that there are many clues to materialistic pathways to the origin of life. He has also said earlier that science should be limited to materialistic causes. If it is wrong to assume an extramaterial cause, it is not just as wrong to assume a material cause? Note I am not saying that there is no material explanation for the origin of life. I am saying that isn’t Jelbert guilty of what he is condemning ID for? This is especially ironic since Jelbert says a problem with ID is that it claims to know an origin event with certainty.

Again, I think this is a tedious chapter and doesn’t flow well at all. I don’t think Jelbert has made the case and if anything, he has far more at stake than I do. Modern science is great, but it is not something to build a worldview on. I consider it better to go with metaphysics and I think that is firmly in the theist camp.

Now I eagerly look forward to getting into the history around Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

What do I think of Andrew Stephen Damick’s book published by Conciliar Media Ministries? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Damick’s work is the one that I have seen that is most apologetic in the area of Orthodoxy. Damick interacts with other religious beliefs and tries to treat them as fairly as he can. There are many aspects of his criticisms that I would agree with, but overall, I still remain unconvinced about the truth of Orthodoxy.

For instance, on pp. 118-119, Damick speaks about an anti-intellectual tradition in many Protestant churches today. In these churches, if you don’t go to Bible College or Seminary, that’s a mark in your favor. I have encountered this way too many times.

There are many times Damick will criticize attitudes he sees in Protestantism and many times I agree with him. I agree with the problem of so many people claiming that they hear from the Holy Spirit. I agree that these people are really setting themselves up as infallible because, hey, the Holy Spirit told them otherwise.

One area about Damick’s work that does concern me is how much time is spent criticizing Roman Catholicism and Protestantism and then there’s one chapter on other religions. I would think that we should be more concerned about these other religions than other religions that I think are still within the fold of Christianity. There are about 100 pages+ plus on Protestantism and about 20 or so on other religions.

On p. 65, he starts talking about Sola Scriptura, he never really defines what it is. The problem is apparently every believer becomes authoritative in interpreting the Scripture. Yes and no. Some people do have more validity than others. Joe Blow down the street who has never read a book outside the Bible or the professor of NT Greek at the seminary down the street both have an interpretation but all things being equal, the professor’s interpretation should have more weight.

What we do with this is that we can discuss what we read in the Scripture. How do we know what the text of Scripture means? How do we know what the text of any work means? We have to study it and understand any surrounding context and if needed look at the original languages.

Damick also says that Sola Scriptura is the rejection of tradition, but this is false. It is simply the saying that Scripture is the final authority and it alone is the infallible message from God that we have. We have no problem with tradition as tradition. I have no problem with the tradition of the Trinity, because I see that abundantly in Scripture.

Now consider traditions like praying to the saints and the Marian viewpoints. I cannot see those in Scripture, so I look at them with Scripture. If they don’t measure up, then I reject them. If there is some other evidence they’re reliable, I’m open.

What about academia? Damick tells us scholarship is in disarray, and indeed it is, but some scholarship is better than others and I contend the scholarship in favor of Christianity is better. Damick then asks what happens with the next archaeological finding or manuscript variant? Do we have to revolutionize our understanding of Christianity?

Indeed we might have to. If the evidence is against Christianity or showing that it’s wrong, then we should abandon it. Damick is here showing some anti-intellectualism that he has condemned. I have no fear of research going on into Christianity because I am convinced that Christianity is true and will last.

On p. 81, Damick tells us the only way to make sure you’re reading the text correctly is to do so in the tradition of the apostles. The question now becomes how can we know this? How can Damick be sure that this is accurate? The Catholics say the same about the Magisterium. The Mormons say the same about the teachings of the Prophet. The Watchtower says the same about their publications.

All of this tells me that the text cannot be understood on its own. Why should I think this? Is there something about the text of the Scripture that is written differently than any other text? Are any of these groups giving us the academic insight of the scholarship into the social context of the Biblical world?

On p. 89 he talks about baptism and infant baptism. I am troubled by the usage of Mark 16:16 to make the case since I don’t think that’s authentic. I also think it’s a misusage to say “Let the little children come to me” from Jesus to justify infant baptism. It’s comparing apples to oranges.

On p. 95, he says “if sola scriptura means that all tradition and hierarchial authority are to be rejected and the Bible is to be read in an isolated manner, there can be no method by which theology is corrected and doctrinal orthodoxy maintained.” Yes. IF. Yet shouldn’t it be known if that’s what it means? If it doesn’t, then this is a straw man. I contend this is not Sola Scriptura and I find it troublesome that Danick is not clear on what it is.

On p. 108-109, Damick talks about faith. Damick doesn’t really speak about what faith is much. In the Biblical case, faith means trust in what has been shown to be reliable. Damick says that if you define it as absolute knowledge, you are not in the tradition of the apostles. However, there are times that this happens in the ancient world. Aristotle once used it to refer to a rhetorical proof.

On p. 110 in talking about salvation, Damick says it should be enough to give the words of Jesus. He who endures to the end will be saved. Both of these passages are talking about eschatology and soteriology and the survival of persecution. In Acts 27:31, during the storm while Paul is at sea he says to the centurion, unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.

Is Paul giving us a way of soteriology? Is Paul saying that the way to be saved is to get in a ship on a stormy sea and stay on board the whole time? No. He’s saying that they will not be spared from the storm if this happens. It is hard to say that you need to stay in the apostolic tradition to understand the Scripture when I see this kind of understanding going on.

We get the same when we come to John 6 and the passage about eating flesh and drinking blood. My contention is that many people are taking that passage far too literally. Jesus is comparing Himself to the manna in the wilderness. As the people there needed to depend on manna for their sustenance, so Jesus must be our sustenance.

On p. 155, Damick has been looking at groups many of us would call cults and asks that if Mary Baker Eddy is wrong, why is John Wesley Right? He lists several people like that. Why should we think one is right while the other is wrong? How about the same standard? Evidence?

Finally on p. 182, Damick tells us that the Church doesn’t have any learning to do because God has revealed Himself to them and by leading the apostles into all truth. I am unsure how to take this. Part of me is concerned that Damick could be saying learning is not needed anymore. Also, just because the immediate apostles were led into all truth, it doesn’t mean that thoes who were immediately after them have the same promise.

Another concern I have with Damick’s work is that I don’t see a defense of Orthodoxy really. The defense is assumed. I can’t say that the criticisms of Roman Catholicism are certain. They look fine to me, but I don’t know enough about Roman Catholicism to speak definitively.

Damick’s book is good in many of its criticisms, but I don’t see the strong case for Orthodoxy yet. To be fair, I don’t think he’s writing for that purpose and I think his intended audience is fellow Orthodox. I appreciate his learning and I think we could have a good conversation together, but I find some of his defenses lacking.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Evidence Considered: Part 25

Is ID qualifying as a science? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s been awhile since we’ve looked at Jelbert’s book, but now it’s time to do so again. In this chapter, we’re looking at his response to Bruce Gordon. Gordon has contributed a chapter on the scientific status of inferences to design.

I am not a supporter of the ID movement, but at the same time, I wish to try to remain fair. Are some criticisms of it invalid? As we will go through this chapter, I will demonstrate that I think that while ID hasn’t made its case, neither has Jelbert with his criticism.

One big problem is Jelbert is talking about methodological naturalism, but this is never defined. What is meant by this? The term can be difficult to talk about. Also, we don’t want to confuse methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism. If we say that absolutely nothing miraculous can happen in history, then we are begging the question. This doesn’t mean that we just throw in a miracle every now and then when we can’t explain something. It does mean that we remain open.

Jelbert also says that some sciences do look for an agent, but these are not agencies in the abstract. I don’t think this follows. We can find in anthropological studies an artifact and know it was designed. Perhaps and most likely it was designed by humans, but maybe, though I am skeptical, it was designed by an extraterrestrial agent. This is a pure hypothetical, but either way, we could tell it was designed.

Furthermore, would Jelbert says it was suddenly valid if I said the agent I was looking for was the Trinity of Christianity? Doubtful. All ID is saying is to look for signs of design. Even if we don’t know who the designer is, we can know that there is design.

At the end, Jelbert says that Gordon has not shown anything and his argument about who designed the designer and such leads to some problems with ID I have. If you make science king, you will never answer the God question yea or nay. You have to go to metaphysics so why not just start with metaphysics?

If we ask about who designed the designer, it first assumes the designer is complex, whereas if you talk about the God of Christianity, universally it has been held that ontologically God is simple, in that He has no parts. If that is the case, then He needs no designer.

Second, if complex things need a designer, then we can say the universe is complex so it needs a designer. If Jelbert wants to then say complex things don’t need one, then we could say if God is complex, which He is not, then He doesn’t need a designer. Jelbert can’t have it both ways.

This is also why I find Jelbert’s closing arguments weak. When I follow a good Thomistic metaphysic, I get to an eternal being who doesn’t change and so asking if He died at one point doesn’t work. It also does get past the problem of the infinite regress. I would really recommend Jelbert read some of the writings of Edward Feser at this point.

So I don’t agree with ID, but I can’t say Jelbert has provided a killing blow to it either.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Struggle Of Men

What does a man have to deal with in today’s world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have seen two different things this past week and yet, I think they’re both related. One is a female friend of mine who posted about what it is like probably for seminarians and ministers who are men. She is not justifying any struggles that they have with pornography, but is wanting us to understand why they turn to pornography.

When you go to seminary or enter ministry, you sign up for a hard life really. I went to Southern Evangelical for quite awhile and sadly, thinking back, I don’t really remember anything being said about pornography. Maybe it was and I’ve forgotten it. I don’t doubt looking back that some of my fellow students were struggling with pornography.

Often while driving with my wife down the road, we hear commercials here for men who are struggling with ED. I tell my Princess regularly that I suspect the reason for much of the struggle is pornography. There are men in their 20’s who have to be on Viagra. This is many times because they’ve got so used to airbrushed and fake women in porn that they don’t know how to get aroused by a real woman. That’s too tame for them.

Btw, let’s keep in mind also that many people in porn could be there because of human trafficking. Watching porn can, in that case, be giving power to this kind of thing. I find it interesting that many atheists who complain about slavery in the Bible can have no problem with porn which can lead to sexual slavery easily.

Many men turn to this because, first off, we tend to be very visual and have a high drive. This is not the case for all, but it is our natural tendency. We also live in a world where sex is all around us. You can say that we can turn off the TV and things like that. Yeah. Not going to solve the problem. A man just needs to go to the grocery store. I’m not even talking about the magazine rack. Men are drawn to beautiful women and in our day and age, women do dress to be beautiful.

I am not saying that is wrong at all! Women should do that! Women are beautiful and that should be celebrated. If a man cannot control himself, that is the fault of the man. Of course, there is a difference if a woman is trying to deliberate show herself off. There is a fine line here where both sides need to be considerate of the other.

Men often feel the pressure and pornography will make a man feel like a man. This is something all men long for. All men want to be men and if a man feels aroused, he certainly feels like a man. The problem is it’s all fake. It really requires nothing of the man. It is not a challenge. All he has to do is click the right web sites on his computer today.

In the past, women complained about being treated like objects, and rightly so, but today the women are often objectifying themselves. It’s too easy to go out and give everything you have to a guy immediately or have these topless marches and put yourself out there on display. If anything, this allows women to be treated more like objects. Abortion on demand doesn’t make it any better. Now men don’t have to worry about consequences, like children.

Many good guys have suffered from this. This past week I have seen good guys struggle with being single. It really touched me, because I do remember those days. What really irked me was hearing women talk about how they just wanted a nice guy who cared about them and their feelings. Never did believe it. Good men often get overlooked and the guys who are often some of the sleaziest do not.

These men really struggle.

Getting married doesn’t necessarily end all the problems. It can help, but many times our society has taught women that men are dirty perverts because they think about sex so much. While for the most part, we do, that’s not because we’re perverts. This is a good thing that God made and He made men and women to enjoy it.

For we men, there’s great misunderstanding on how essential this is to us in marriage. Often a man will complain about getting duty sex where the wife just goes along because she knows her husband needs it, but there’s no real desire on that part. For a man, duty sex beats no sex, but it’s not really satisfying. Men want to be wanted. They want to know they are appealing and attractive and bring joy to their wives.

A man will often measure himself by his accomplishments and for a husband, one of those is bringing joy to his wife. If a man brings joy to his wife everywhere else, but he doesn’t seem to in the bedroom, he feels like a failure. This is really such a great area in men’s lives that many women just don’t understand. (An excellent place to go to is the XY Code by Paul Byerly. He writes from a Christian perspective to help women understand men.)

Here’s the good news for you wives. If you do desire and pursue your husband, you will make this so much easier for him. You have great power. It’s really hard for men and they struggle more when they don’t feel desired and they’re trying to work with this burning question of their own masculinity looming in the background. (Women wanting help in this area can be blessed greatly by going to To Love, Honor, And Vacuum.)

Men struggle today and I am convinced our society is in a war against men. Masculinity is looked down on in our world. Men are in a struggle to determine if they really are men and sadly, they think going out and having sex will prove that they are. It won’t. It can give that feeling no doubt, but the best way to be a man is to properly love the women in your life, and this includes even if you are single. You do not have to be sexually active to be a man after all.

For those of us who are Christians, that means definitely avoiding pornography which treats women as objects and doesn’t require any challenge of going out and winning the heart of a real woman, a real accomplishment. It is far better to win the heart and then body of a real woman than to go out and do nothing to get a fake one, and sadly the fake one can make it harder to act with the real one. Also, save sex for marriage. Make a covenant with the woman first and then enjoy the fruit of the covenant.

And women, we men should understand you, but understand where the men you encounter are coming from. I know many men who struggle with porn and wish that they didn’t and are working to overcome it. (Women can struggle too, but this post is about men.) Your husband also is not a pervert because he thinks about sex so much. This is the way God made men and they function best when kept happy. What they really want is not just a release, but they want you. They want to feel close to you and accepted and loved by you and sex does that best.

It’s a hard time to be a man in today’s world. The church needs to recognize this as well and be there for men, especially those struggling with pornography. Condemn the action, but remember the man can often be a victim of his own desires.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/25/2018: Matthew Levering

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

Many of our debates today all go back to one idea. Is there a God? This is one of the fundamental questions of any worldview and how you answer it will affect the answer you give to most every other question. The majority of the world answers in the affirmative to this, but why?

Can there be given any evidence of the existence of deity? How long has this debate been going on and what can we learn from the great minds of the past? What also of those who have argued against the idea of theism? Do they have anything that should be seriously considered as well?

To discuss these questions, I decided to bring on a scholar who has studied this subject well and has taught it well. I decided to find someone who knows the philosophy behind the subject and is ready to discuss it. I decided then to bring on Dr. Matthew Levering, author of the book Proofs of God.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Matthew Levering holds the James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary.  He is the author or editor of over forty books on topics in dogmatic, sacramental, moral, historical, and biblical theology.  He is the translator of Gilles Emery’s The Trinity, and with Gilles Emery he co-edited The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity.  Among his books are Scripture and Metaphysics: Aquinas and the Renewal of Trinitarian Theology and Engaging the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit: Love and Gift in the Trinity and the Church.  He co-edits two quarterly journals, Nova et Vetera and International Journal of Systematic Theology.  Since 2004, he has been a participant in Evangelicals and Catholics Together, and from 2007-2016 he served as Chair of the Board of the Academy of Catholic Theology.  He co-founded the Chicago Theological Initiative and has directed the Center for Scriptural Exegesis, Philosophy, and Doctrine since 2011.

We’ll be talking about, well, proofs of God. How do they work? Are any of them failed proofs? What about the arguments against God? How serious are they? Naturally, we will be spending some time talking about my favorite proofs, the Thomistic proofs. How well do they hold up and do atheists who argue against them really understand them?

How should Christians use these arguments? What is the relationship between faith and reason? Is it a problem that these arguments can get you to theism but none of them can get you to the Christian God directly?

I really hope you’ll be tuning in to this episode as I think it’s the first one we’ve actually done on the theistic arguments directly for the existence of God and it’s been a topic I’ve been wanting to discuss on the show for some time. I also hope that you will go on iTunes and leave a positive review for the Deeper Waters Podcast. It really means a lot to me to get to see them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

The Risk Of Love

What does it mean to love someone? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, my wife posted an article about Borderline Personality Disorder. The person talked about their past romantic relationships and how hard romance was for someone like them. A friend commented saying how hard it can be to love some people and sometimes you might have to take a break for your own well-being.

Being married to someone who has been diagnosed with BPD, I had a few things to say.

Can it be hard to love someone like that? It can be, but that depends first off on what is meant by love. Second, it can be because it can be hard to love ANYONE. As C.S. Lewis said years ago, we are all very hard to live with.

So let’s start with love. We have four kinds.

Storge is the familiar love. It’s the love we show to just random people on the street we meet and also associated with family. Sometimes for family, they’re seen as people we probably wouldn’t love if we weren’t related, but because we are we become invested in them. There’s not much risk involved here. Someone could be a jerk, but it’s not the norm.

Phileo love is a bit more personal. It’s when you refer to someone as a friend. This is a love Lewis wrote a great deal about as did Aristotle. This is indeed a much more risky position and some friends you will open up to more than you will to others. It depends on how close the friendship is.

Agape love is often seen as godly love. I would think of it as passionate or self-sacrificial love. It is often used to describe the love of God. This requires a good deal of risk from us because we can make ourselves very vulnerable.

Eros love is the romantic and sexual love. For us, this can be one of the biggest risks of all. At full fruition, it requires total vulnerability as one’s very body has to be openly displayed and shared for it to reach the goal. This is one more reason I think the full expression of eros should be saved for marriage as at that point, one has made a total commitment worthy of the action of total commitment.

Let’s also consider something else about love. Love is not having warm fuzzies for someone. Love is not a feeling. It can produce feelings, but it itself is not a feeling. Love is a commitment of the will. It is a commitment to seek the good of the other for the sake of the other.

That’s hard for any of us. It requires that we put someone else above ourselves. Often when I read what newlyweds say about marriage, I notice something is left out. You get used to getting to have sex, sleeping in a bed together, sharing a budget, sharing personal space, what you’ll watch on Netflix, etc.

Very few if any seem to say something about learning more about putting the other person above yourself. That is a real challenge. It doesn’t help that marriage really gives you a good picture of what you’re really like.

Perhaps I’ve just sat down and Allie needs me to go to the store. I really don’t want to. I want to watch Netflix or read a book or play a game on the Wii or something like that. Nope. Allie needs something so off I go.

But you know, the more you do that, the more you become a better person. It’s almost as if doing the right thing helps you become a good person. It’s almost as if once you stop looking out for #1, you find your own happiness and joy waiting there for you.

This is what makes love so hard. It is dying to yourself. If you do not love someone as you should, it says very little about them. It says a lot about you. Lack of love cannot be blamed on the other person. It can only be blamed on you. Love is not just love when the other person is easy to love. Love is there when the other person can be hard to love, as all of us can be at times.

Our society has often confused that, mainly by thinking love is a feeling. You will not always feel love for someone you do love or are supposed to love. Love rises above the feelings. If you do the loving thing just when you feel like it, what love is that? Love is doing the loving thing also when you don’t feel like it. You rise above what you want and seek the good of the other above your own.

If you do stop loving, it says a lot more about you. Does the other person have faults and problems that can make it hard? Yes. So do you. None of us is perfect. Ironically, the only one who is perfect is the one we can sometimes have the hardest time loving. It’s not because of anything on His part. Once again, it’s entirely on us.

Over time, loving my wife has become more and more natural because the more you do something, the easier it can become. Love has become more of a second nature. As I consistently seek that which is good for her and give of myself, I find it actually becomes my joy. I have often said that if we came into money, I would be more prone to buy her whatever is good for her. It could be that trip to Japan or that horse farm or those dance lessons. Whatever it is. It means more to me to see that smile on her face than any of the things that I want.

Loving Allie is its own reward now. Loving God is its own reward. Loving anyone is its own reward. What am I going to do to grow in the love I am supposed to have for my fellow man? It’s easy to ask how others can change for me. I need to ask how I can change for them.

And to my Princess, know always love is a risk, and one you are worth very much.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Rappers And The Resurrection

What does making a music video have to do with the resurrection? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A week or two ago I was driving through our town and heard a news story in the morning. Two rappers had been out on a public bridge for cars to drive across making a music video when they got hit by a driver. The driver was not charged with anything since the performers should not have been in the middle of the road. I do not think there were any deaths involved and the rappers were charged for creating a disturbance of sorts.

So I’m hearing this story and thinking in some ways it’s kind of amusing. There are a couple of people making fools of themselves out in the middle of the street and fate kind of happens to them. Hopefully, they have learned their lesson and they won’t do it anymore.

Later on still, I was driving and I heard more of the story. It turns out I was wrong about what was going on in my mind’s eye. I had pictured two guys out in the road making a disturbance when a car comes through and doesn’t have time to stop. Apparently, I had it wrong, but I think it was justifiable based on how the story was described.

As it turns out, there was a group of people in the middle of the road. I am not sure how many, but only two of them were hit. This wasn’t just a couple of guys then, but a whole entourage. Listening to the earlier story, I would have been sure it was a couple of guys only because that’s all that were mentioned.

What does this have to do with the resurrection? In the resurrection stories, we often hear differences on how many women or angels were present. The authors can mention different numbers. They can do this while knowing more were present. In John 20, Mary Magdalene is seen going alone to the tomb, but when she gets to the disciples to tell them about the body being gone, she uses the word we saying that “We don’t know where they put him.”

It’s my personal theory that each Gospel writer mentioned the women who were his sources for the story and/or were still alive to talk about the story. Of course, it could also be just at times highlighting the ones who did something, such as the case of the angels at the tomb. If only one speaks, that is the one focused on. In his research, Mike Licona calls this spotlighting.

We still do this today in many of our own accounts and I would contend that the original news story I heard was doing just that. The whole group didn’t need to be talked about because they weren’t relevant in the mind of the reporter to what took place. The two stories do not contradict, but rather they complement one another and one brings out fully what happened more.  The same goes for the resurrection accounts.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Making A Meal Of It

What do I think of Ben Witherington III’s book published by Baylor University Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife has been exploring Orthodoxy later. I find it interesting that yesterday many of us line up so that people can have a small piece of bread and drink from one cup. My wife and I not being part of the Orthodox Church are not allowed to partake, but we get a blessing. After all of that, we go over to a life center and there’s a meal there where people can get what they want and we can all sit at tables and chat with one another.

It’s ironic to think that the latter practice could be closer to the Lord’s Supper than the former is.

Witherington’s book is meant to give us a theology of the Lord’s Supper. I was quite intrigued to start this book since so many Protestant/Catholic/Orthodox debates can take place around this. I have to agree with my wife’s assessment as we discussed it beforehand that what we usually get at churches should be more accurately called “The Lord’s Snack.”

Witherington starts with Passover. Is this a parallel to the Lord’s Supper? Not really. Passover looked back to the past. The Lord’s Supper is meant more to look to the future. Still, we can get a lot out of learning about how Jews observed meals and how that could differ from the way the Greeks did it.

In the middle, you get an interesting look at John where Witherington explains his reasons for thinking Lazarus is the beloved disciple.  The more I see this case, the more I think Witherington could be on to something. The historians among us will be interested in this as well.

Witherington will go on to talk about the text as it is found in 1 Cor. 11 and in the Gospels and various places in the book of Acts. It’s interesting that this is such an important feature to churches, but really very little is said about it. What is tragic the most is what has happened to the event over time.

As we move away from the idea of house churches and we establish public places for people to go to, the meal becomes less of a meal. It becomes more individualized with personal wafers and in our day, personal cups. It is not the host, the head of the household, who presides over the meal, but rather it is a priest or a minister. Of course, anyone who does preside over this event should be aware of how it needs to be done respectfully, but is there a problem with making it the responsibility of the clergy?

The table has also been a place of exclusion many times. Let’s remember that our Lord ate and drank with prostitutes and tax collectors. At the Last Supper itself, Judas was present and Jesus gave him bread specifically. Of course, the church wanted to make sure that people did not come to their feasts to disrupt them, but could the feasts themselves not be an evangelistic opportunity?

Witherington at the end talks about being on tours in other countries where the Lord’s Supper was done. One person who gave a tour was a Muslim who was apparently questioning. The other was a lapsed Catholic. Witherington talks about how he invited both of them to the table to partake of the elements. Conversion took place.

Ultimately, my view of the Lord’s Supper right now is that the meal is largely symbolic, but meant to draw us into the presence of Christ. Jesus is the real host at every event. As the bread is broken, we are to remember that the body of Jesus was broken. As the wine flows, we are to remember how the blood of Jesus was poured out on the cross.

All of this is meant to draw us into the presence of Jesus. Yet at the same time, we don’t have this like a funeral dirge, but we have it as a celebration. We remember that this was not the end. He is coming back and we look forward to when He reigns again in the future totally when the Father rules on Earth as He does in Heaven.

The meal after the Lord’s Supper could ironically be closer to the Lord’s Supper since it is actually a meal and it is actually us communing together and meeting one another. After all, when the supper was had at Corinth, people were gorging themselves and getting drunk. Hard to think of an individual doing that on what’s given out on many a Sunday morning.

If there was any change I would make to the book, I would like more footnotes when later historical events are talked about. I would like to know where I can find these events in church historians. For instance, I know Witherington shares the story about Origen castrating himself, but I am skeptical of this event being a real one instead of just a legend about Origen.

Still, this book really makes one appreciate the Lord’s Supper and it’s hard to not be moved at the last chapter with the stories of conversion taking place. Those wishing to understand the doctrine of the meal are advised to read Witherington’s book. He’s a top-notch scholar that has again brought us great information and it’s easy to understand.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Check The Bibliography

Where do you go when you open a book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Most of my time is spent reading non-fiction. The rule I am giving does not apply to fiction and does not necessarily reply to material that is more devotional or self-help in nature. However, if you read a book arguing that another position is wrong, I want to make a recommendation on how to start.

Recently a skeptic I have interacted with wanted to send me a book he wrote on Christianity. I agreed to this. The book will be reviewed when I finish it so I won’t say what it is for now, but I did pick it up and check recently the bibliography. That was a section that confirmed many of my concerns.

When I went, for the most part, I pretty much just saw the Bible quoted over and over. If there was any Christian scholarship interacted with, it was certainly the very rare exception and right now, I can’t remember any of it that I saw. I could be mistaken, but that is what I saw.

Now some atheist who wants to apparently claim some piety might say “But isnt’ the Bible the Word of God? Shouldn’t quoting it be sufficient?” Well, of course not. You see, if you’re arguing that the Bible is wrong, you really need to take it on in the most serious way possible. It’s ridiculous to think you can take a book written in another context, place, language, and culture, and just quoting it in your English translation is enough to show you seriously understand all of those aspects that affect it.

You don’t.

If you say God should make it that way, then your objection is really a theological one and I want to know how you know this. Who told you that God should do it this way because it would be easier on you? Who said that He should be beholden to follow your rules?

By the way, I hold Christian books to the same standard. When I read a Christian work like this, I expect it to argue with that which is on the other side. There are a number of “apologetics” books that I have gone after because the author did not do this. If we want our opponents to take us seriously and really interact with the scholars on our side, we should do the same with them.

This doesn’t apply to just Christians and atheists. A Christian writing against any position should quote the other side regularly. This even includes more debates that are in-house. I have been reading on Protestantism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy more lately and I would think a Christian writing about the other side being incorrect on something should be quoting that other side often. Show me that you have seriously interacted with the material.

When you get that book then, go look at the bibliography. If you’re at the bookstore and want to get a serious investment, do the same thing. Of course, you will need to know the scholars on the sides you’re talking about in order to examine this claim, so again, you have to study as well. Perhaps you want to read a book with a bad bibliography just for amusement or some other reason. That’s your choice, but don’t expect a serious argument.

In Christ,
Nick Peters