Book Plunge: A Charlie Brown Religion

What do I think of Stephen J. Lind’s book published by the University of Mississippi Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As far back as I can remember, Peanuts has been a part of my life. As a small child, my sister had given me a Snoopy stuffed animal and I slept with that for many a night. The library was within walking distance of my home and I would often go down there and pick up the Peanuts books and read through them repeatedly. My Dad had his old collection of Peanuts books and they were passed on to me and I read them repeatedly. He and I can still regularly talk about various strips.

This isn’t even counting the animated specials. How many times did we watch A Charlie Brown Christmas together? For many years, this has been a family tradition. It’s amazing that Linus’s speech towards the end was so amazing for its time and growing up, I didn’t realize all the boundaries that Linus was breaking with that speech. There is hardly a more touching Christmas special than that one.

Those who read Schulz regularly also know about religion in the comic strips and particularly Christianity. Questions often arise about Charles Schulz. Was he a fundamentalist? Was he an atheist? I wanted to know and I went looking for a book. I came across this one in my search, but not knowing for sure, I checked the endorsements. When I saw endorsements from Schulz’s children, I knew this was the right one.

Lind takes on a tour of Schulz’s (Or Sparky’s) life growing up and how he came to know Christ at a Church of God. Schulz was a man very committed to the Scriptures and a number of times when he met someone famous, one of the first things he would do is ask them about their opinion of Jesus Christ. He had several commentaries and such and would read them trying to study the Bible. There is no reason to doubt his conversion to Christianity was a real one and there is no evidence that he ever retracted his faith.

This is not to say that his faith didn’t change. It did. Sparky held a number of positions that many of us would consider liberal. For instance, Sparky’s daughter Amy wound up joining the Mormon church and while Sparky thought Mormonism was a great hoax, he didn’t deny that his daughter was out there supporting the kingdom of God. It could also be asked if Sparky really held to Christian exclusivity. It might have just been that Sparky liked to discuss the Scriptures, but he didn’t want to debate them.

Sure, there are times Sparky described himself as a secular humanist, but odds are he didn’t really realize what that meant. He wanted to avoid saying Christian because people thought of denominations and such when he said that. What he had in mind was not a denial of God or Christianity, but an emphasis on the living out of Christian claims in caring for the poor and loving your fellow man and such.

As I said earlier with the Christmas special, Sparky was willing to push the envelope. He fought hard to get Linus’s speech into his special. A lot of people were backing off because you just didn’t talk about religion like that on TV, but Sparky had said to his team that if we don’t say this, who will. It was kept in and it made a different. Scores of letters came in from fans who praised the report and Coca-Cola who sponsored the special certainly benefited from it.

Sparky’s comic strips took a subject one was not supposed to talk about, and talked about it. Very rarely was there any direct preaching in the strip if ever. Instead, it was more meant to get people thinking about the topic. This could include even ideas like The Great Pumpkin or a butterfly landing on Peppermint Patty’s nose only to be told to her later by Marice that it turned into an angel and flew away while she was sleeping.

Sparky’s kids in the comic were children like no other. They were often engaged in deep conversations for their age. Linus was a great theologian walking around his town, and yet the one who always sucked his thumb and had a security blanket with him constantly. They were kids asking the questions of adults, but often they were still just being kids.

Sparky also wasn’t always a saint with his life. If one reads the book, they will find that he made many mistakes along the way, some of them very disappointing. As a parent, he was also quite absent. He loved his children, but he rarely talked with them about religion. They saw him reading his Bible, but discussion didn’t seem to be commonplace.

It has been a little over eighteen years since Sparky died. As I would go through the book, I would find myself from time to time going to the internet and looking at the last strip. In all honesty, I get emotional seeing it and have great sorrow thinking about what a gift Sparky was to the world. It seems almost like a divine plan that when that strip hit the paper announcing that Sparky was done drawing new comic strips and no one else would take over drawing comic strips, that Sparky had passed away in his his sleep the night before after losing a battle with colon cancer.

Sparky was willing to cross that envelope and many people might sadly never hear of the great apologists of the faith today, but perhaps many will be thinking more seriously about religion because they knew Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, and so many others. These kids are all easily recognizable and household names as are terms now like “security blanket” and “good grief” and others. Sparky left us a legacy and a challenge to go forward and spread the message of the Kingdom. We could ask the question about spreading it that Sparky said when asked about Linus’s speech in the Christmas special.

“If we don’t, who will?”

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy.

What do I think of Rhonda Stoppe’s book published by Harvest House Publishers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I make it a point to read books on marriage regularly and though this one was meant for the wives, I found it on a Kindle sale and decided to pick it up. I want to understand matters from a woman’s perspective after all. Rhonda Stoppe is writing from the perspective of a pastor’s wife to women who are believing very foolish things about marriage.

I know very well that we men are just as guilty, but this book is for the women. Each chapter also ends with a note from her husband Steve. There are also references to their website so you can see a video of her and Steve talking about the issue under question.

She emphasizes at the start that the way to love your husband best, and anyone else for that matter, is to love God first. If you are in a marriage and you and your spouse are both loving God first, loving each other will come much more easily. It’s a sort of win-win. You have a good walk with God and you have a better marriage as a result.

She also rightly says that if you make it about your feelings, then you’re going to suffer for it. Feelings are something that change and are unstable. We all know this. Strangely enough, so many of us still like to base reality on our feelings. Your marriage is not about a promise to have good feelings towards one another. It’s about a promise to love one another and do good to one another.

She’s also correct that men tend to thrive on respect more than they do on love. A man does not want his wife to be another mother. He wants someone who relies on him, believes in him, and who celebrates his accomplishments. In essence, he wants someone who will look at him and say “You are my man.” (Yes women! We would love to hear that and even more to have it shown to us!)

She also notes that your husband isn’t perfect, and this mainly in a chapter about how women believe their marriage would be better if they were prettier. Your husband cannot do for you what only God can. I’d also like to say at this point that we already find you beautiful anyway. That’s one reason we married you. As much as you might think you’re not beautiful, we think about that body of yours that you don’t think is beautiful much more than you realize and we think it’s much more beautiful than you realize.

This is followed by the chapter on sex, a chapter I was certainly very eager to get to as a man. In this, she says

“So why are wives so resistant to minister to their husband’s need for sex? The most common reason is selfishness, plain and simple. Because of our sin nature, the basic problem all people have is a preoccupation with self. In short, every sin results from this preoccupation. (Yes, I just implied that not having sex with your husband is a sin that stems from selfishness.)”

At this, most every Christian man in the world wants Rhonda Stoppe to come and give a talk at his church. One of my favorite Family Feud clips is of Steve Harvey asking the question that was asked to 100 married men. I would blank for sex. Every guy who answers, except for the final one who listened to the women, nailed it. The women always missed. As Steve says in it, “You don’t know how deep this runs with us!”

This often shows a disconnect that Rhonda understands. Sex to a man is far more than getting his game on for a physical release. It is the way we feel desired and adored and wanted by our wives. It is the way that we know we are the man. Duty sex itself won’t do this. The more passion you give a man, the more you will empower that man. This is an honest need in a man’s life.

The problem I think is that too many women do think that a man is just wanting a physical joy with his wife instead of realizing that this is often how he connects emotionally as well. Dare I say it, but it’s a prideful attitude just like Rhonda says. Too often women expect their men to be more like them and thus more “refined” as it were and that their husband is a lowly and filthy creature for wanting sex. Not at all.

Rhonda also says that to remember your kids won’t always need you. Your husband will always need you in his life. Don’t replace the husband with the kids. Too many marriages have the marriage centered around the children. This should never be.

She is also right in saying that a husband wants a joyful wife. Be someone that your husband enjoys being around. Be a source of joy. That doesn’t mean never ever be sad and come to him in pain if you really are that way, but it does mean try to have joy around him.

For housework, most men don’t care about a house being spotless. They would much rather that the house just be livable. To go back to what was said above, many men would be far more happy if women who are so eager to make sure the house is perfect would spend more time working on the areas that they’re concerned about the most.

Rhonda will deal with many myths in the book. Most every wife would likely hold to a couple of them at least. There are many myths that men believe as well, but this is for the women. I appreciate Rhonda’s book here and it is one I can easily recommend to wives.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Experiencing the Love of God

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

Last night, my wife and I were with our church small group and we started talking about the lesson on experiencing the love of God. Now keep in mind in all that I say that I am not questioning God’s love for us. I am also not doubting that some people have very deep and profound experiences, but on the other hand, I think there are many of us out there that aren’t really experience and feelings oriented and that doesn’t strike us the same way.

And that’s okay.

When my wife and I go to church, many times I could be fine with skipping or greatly reducing the music time. The music often seems to me like a concert meant to get us to an emotional high. I also think a lot of times, we’re just saying the words and such because there are so many lyrics I hear where people sing about how valuable God is to them. Color me skeptical when I hear people talking about how excited they are about the love of God and don’t often seem to live like they know what it means.

Sometimes, it can also be a self-centered thing too. We can think about how much God loves us to make us feel better about ourselves, which to an extent is fine, but then we don’t go and do anything in response. When we do that, we’re essentially a taker in a relationship. We are in it for what we can get out of it, but not what we can give.

Many people do have profound feelings and experiences about the love of God. I would count my wife as one of them. These feelings are not constant and these experiences are not every day, nor can they be. Your goal in your walk with God is not to maintain a feeling and keep it going perpetually. It is to do the right thing for God every day and serve Him the way you ought to.

Consider it also like a marriage. Your goal is not to maintain feelings of being in love with your spouse. Those are nice when they come and you should enjoy them, but if they are not there, you are still to do the right thing. The question we have to ask ourselves in our walk with God and if married, with our spouses, is if we are treating the other one the way they deserve consistently.

I said that for me, I could cut a lot of the music. Instead, I want to get to the sermon. This isn’t to say the sermon isn’t important to others, but for me, it is the main event. Yet when I get to that sermon, I have high standards. I want it to give me more than just the basics.

The best church we had at this was The Point back in Knoxville. It was a Lutheran church and the pastors were always diligent researchers into the Scripture. I would see a serious exegesis and deep insight followed by a chance to ask questions. It was also enough that my wife, who does not get into the intellectual stuff like I do, did not think things were going over her head.

Most sermons I hear from preachers today are fluffy. They most often seem to jump immediately to application. There’s nothing about what the text meant to the hearers of the time or the historical background. Instead, it’s all about helping you be a better person. There’s nothing wrong with being a better person of course, but the Bible is more than self-help. It’s about the Kingdom of God.

You see, I am willing to admit many people are feeling-oriented, and that is okay, but sometimes I think when we talk about the love of God, we can make it awkward for others in a way that could hinder them. Those of us who are more intellectually stimulated as it were can be given the impression that we are lesser Christians. Some who are not Christians could think that if they don’t feel something, then they shouldn’t come into the Kingdom.

By the way, while we’re at it, let’s talk about this love we’re supposed to know. What is it? If love means warm fuzzies of some kind, then it’s not really an outward act. Love becomes about the way you feel about someone else and if you feel something, that is love. Love can have feelings that come with it, but love is an action. Love is seeking the good of the other for the sake of the other. That is what God does for us. That is what we are to do with our fellow man.

Some of you reading this have deep and profound feelings about your faith and what you would say are experiences. That’s fine. I’m not knocking that, but I would say don’t let them control your life or make a diet out of them. Make sure they result in actions. Many of us are intellectually oriented. That’s okay. Your charge is similar. Don’t let God just be an idea, a piece of trivia that you study with no change. Let it result in action.

If someone responds differently than you do to something, that is okay. One person is moved to act towards God by good music. One is moved by the beauty of creation. One is moved by a theological insight. One is moved by showing that Jesus rose from the dead. We’re all different, and that’s okay.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Muhammad’s Night Journey

Does this story compare to the resurrection? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many times when I argue for the resurrection, I get told that the accounts are just like the accounts of Muhammad’s night journey on a horse. Both of them show up in a book. That’s it. One should not be said to be more historical than the other. The evidence for both is equal.

First off, much of our knowledge of the ancient world comes from books. Archaeology provides some data, but if all we had was just archaeology, our knowledge would be far far less than what it is. If people want to say something is questionable because it’s found in a book, then they will throw out much of our knowledge of the ancient world.

Second, one should treat the Gospels better. (Although of course, the main place is still 1 Cor. 15) They are human and historical and if you treat them differently, you misunderstand and misinterpret them. Sure, these books later became documents of faith for Christianity, but that has no bearing on whether they can be used for historical purposes. It is simply unfair and unscholarly to dismiss them from the historical record.

Yeah. I get it. That sounds like the ravings of a fundamentalist seeking to defend the Gospels. If you think that, you have a problem. I have just simply paraphrased Bart Ehrman with statements he made on pages 72 and 73 of Did Jesus Exist?

Third, I offer this challenge when I meet someone who says this. It’s no doubt Christians will argue for the truth of their book. Muslims will do the same for theirs. What if we went outside of that? Let’s take claims that are in the books that skeptics will grant. What will non-Christian scholars grant about the case surrounding the resurrection of Jesus and what will non-Muslim scholars grant about Muhammad’s travel on a horse?

You see, with the Qur’an, this is the passage often discussed.

Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

Now looking at this, I don’t see anything about a flying horse that’s usually talked about. Of course, the scholars of Islam know better and if they agree that the account is that of the flying horse, then I will not disagree. I also understand that this passage is explained further in the Hadith. Let’s keep in mind the Hadiths come much later, at least a century or so.

There is also the problem that there was no temple and from my understanding, the one that was built that is described in these passages did not come about until 691. Muhammad had been dead for fifty years. I could grant that the passage I see here does not mention a temple, but if the Hadith keeps getting more and more elaborate long after eyewitnesses and has anachronisms, one has to wonder.

What of non-Muslim scholarship? Now I see nothing granting that this story has any validity in any part there. They could grant the story has been handed down, but I have yet to see someone present the scholarship that non-Muslim scholars will grant.

What of the resurrection of Jesus? The first place people go to is 1 Cor. 15. This includes the death, burial, and resurrection. When we go to the Gospels, we find explicit statements of the empty tomb, although I would argue the empty tomb is explicit in 1 Cor. 15.

What do skeptical scholars of the NT grant about Jesus?

Let’s start with the crucifixion.

“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.)

Christians who wanted to proclaim Jesus as messiah would not have invented the notion that he was crucified because his crucifixion created such a scandal. Indeed, the apostle Paul calls it the chief “stumbling block” for Jews (1 Cor. 1:23). Where did the tradition come from? It must have actually happened. (Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Third Edition. pages 221-222)

 

Jesus was executed by crucifixion, which was a common method of torture and execution used by the Romans. (Dale Martin, New Testament History and Literature. Page 181)

 

That Jesus was executed because he or someone else was claiming that he was the king of the Jews seems to be historically accurate. (ibid. 186)

 

Jesus’ execution is as historically certain as any ancient event can ever be but what about all those very specific details that fill out the story? (John Dominic Crossan http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-d…_b_847504.html)

What about his burial?

“Jesus came from a modest family that presumably could not afford a rock- cut tomb. Had Joseph not offered to accommodate Jesus’ body his tomb (according to the Gospel accounts) Jesus likely would have been disposed in the manner of the lower classes: in a pit grave or trench grave dug into the ground. When the Gospels tell us that Joseph of Arimathea offered Jesus a spot in his tomb, it is because Jesus’ family did not own a rock- cut tomb and there was no time to prepare a grave- that is there was no time to dig a grave, not hew a rock cut tomb(!)—before the Sabbath. It is not surprising that Joseph, who is described as a wealthy and perhaps even a member of the Sanhedrin, had a rock-cut family tomb. The Gospel accounts seem to describe Joseph placing Jesus’ body in one of the loculi in his family’s tomb. (Jodi Magness, Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus, pg 170)

“There is no need to assume that the Gospel accounts of Joseph of Arimathea offering Jesus a place in this family tomb are legendary or apologetic. The Gospel accounts of Jesus’s burial appear to be largely consistent with the archeological evidence” ( Magness, pg 171)

How about the appearances?

“The only thing that we can certainly say to be historical is that there were resurrection appearances in Galilee (and in Jerusalem) soon after Jesus’s death. These appearances cannot be denied” (Gerd Ludemann. .”What Really Happened To Jesus?” p. 81)

“We can say with complete certainty that some of his disciples at some later time insisted that . . . he soon appeared to them, convincing them that he had been raised from the dead.” (Bart Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, pg 230).

 

“That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know.” (E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, pg 280)

Now does this mean that these scholars believe in the resurrection of Jesus? No. Does it mean that they accept the data that we use? Yes. The only exception would be some are not as sure of the empty tomb. Bart Ehrman doesn’t even think Jesus was buried for instance.

So compare this to the case for Muhammad’s night journey. Do we have the same? No. Does that mean the account of Muhammad is necessarily false? No. It does mean the evidence is not the same. Does it mean the resurrection of Jesus is true? No. It does mean the evidence is not the same.

Of course, anyone can show up here and show scholarship from non-Muslim sources if they think I’m wrong. I would welcome that. The ball is now in their court.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Should God Appear To Me?

What if an atheist requires a personal appearance? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many times when I ask someone who is an atheist or an agnostic what it would take to get them to change their mind, they tell me that God would need to appear to them. This sounds like something that makes sense on the face of it. After all, doesn’t God want people to come to know Him? Why wouldn’t He do this?

Unfortunately, the problems with this are legion. First off, when I encounter someone like this, they are telling me that an argument would not convince them. It would take a personal experience. Therefore, any arguments that I make are ineffective to them. Somehow, these people expect me to be open to argument at the same time, which I am.

Second, God owes us nothing if He is real. It is a presumptuous height to think God owes anyone a personal experience. God could do it, but He could just as easily strike someone with a lightning bolt. That doesn’t mean that He would do it or that He should do it.

“But doesn’t God want to see me saved?”

Yes. That doesn’t mean that God will do anything to cater to you. It doesn’t mean that God treats His existence like the answer to a question in Trivial Pursuit. God is not looking for people who will believe that He exists. He is looking for people who are willing to believe the truth about Him and want to know the truth about Him not just to answer an academic question, but because He really matters.

If you are a wife, imagine a husband who says he loves you, but when he does so, he is just going through the motions. It doesn’t really mean something to you. If you are a husband, you want your wife to want to have sex with you, but husbands don’t really enjoy duty sex. They’ll take it because some sex beats no sex, but what they want the most is to be wanted.

God is looking for disciples. Disciples are people who care about truth claims. They are willing to investigate. If someone is not willing to investigate, then they are not willing to be a disciple.

Also, this would ultimately lead to chaos. For one thing, it would destroy much of free-will en masse. Not only that, imagine any number of people wanting to claim something because God told them in their personal appearance. What would a dictator do with this kind of claim? We have enough denominational differences without these appearances. How many more would we have with? Would we become an even lazier culture?

“But Nick. You believe that in eternity, we will all have a personal appearance of God and this won’t go on.”

Right. We will also be living in a world where we do not have sinful natures. As long as we have those, we will often twist everything we can to our advantage. This includes the truth of God. We have abundant evidence of people using anything to their own advantage today. How much more so with personal appearances of God being known around the world and the fact of personal appearances not in dispute?

If you want to know if God exists, God could show Himself to you, but it’s not to be expected. Granted, it has been happening to Muslims in dreams and to people like Paul, but if God isn’t appearing to someone, if He is real, He has a good reason for it. It doesn’t invalidate the arguments at all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Book Plunge: The Battle for the Bible

What do I think of Harold Lindsell’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

While this book is about 40 years old, it still has an impact today. Many inerrantists point to it to see the dangers of denying inerrancy. While I do see myself as an inerrantist, I do not hold the position dogmatically. I certainly don’t put all my eggs in that basket. If I am wrong on inerrancy, then I am wrong. It does not change Christianity.

The sad fact is that many inerrantists seeking to defend inerrancy are actually damaging inerrancy. Lindsell says in the book that he does not know of anyone abandoning their faith over inerrancy nor anyone who says that if there is one error in the Bible, we can’t trust any of it. Perhaps this was true in his day, but it no longer is. I see comments like this regularly from atheists. I meet many who think that if they refute inerrancy, they refute Christianity. Take David McAfee’s Disproving Christianity as an example. The whole book for the most part is just listing Bible contradictions as if this does the job. The resurrection of Jesus is nowhere dealt with.

This is not to say that you should not be an inerrantist. It’s to say that you need to have all your beliefs lined up properly so you know the foundation. Many would seem to want to argue that the Bible is inerrant and therefore Jesus rose from the dead. I would prefer to start with the foundation being that Jesus rose from the dead and then try to argue from His case if anything that the Bible is inerrant. The case won’t be reached with deductive certainty, but I find it a lot stronger.

Lindsell in the book goes through much of the history. This could be all valid. I do not know nor am I concerned about that. Lindsell does want to say that when one denies inerrancy, the other pillars of the faith come tumbling down. Unfortunately, it looks like future generations will have to establish that. Do some walk away? Yes. However, some can hold to inerrancy and still deny essentials of the faith. Jehovah’s Witnesses come to mind as an example. Do we think every heretic of the past was denying inerrancy?

There are times statements will show up in the book as if they are awful, and yet I want to see the greater context. Lindsell also seems to combine dispensationalism and/or futurism with inerrancy, which I find to be a problematic position and one reason I have a problem with ICBI as I see the deck stacked there in favor of dispensationalism.

There is also just the whole problem about replying to higher Biblical criticism and scholarship. If we can’t answer it, then maybe instead of just buckling our heels together and saying the text is inerrant, we need to do our own research. It’s almost as if people like Lindsell don’t think the Bible really can stand up to this scrutiny so we need to say that it’s inerrant. That won’t answer the questions. Hard questions need to be answered.

If we really believe the Bible, then we need to see that you can apply to it the same tests you’d apply to any other ancient document and see if it upholds. If inerrancy cannot stand up to scrutiny, then ditch it. Of course, I say this knowing that just because an immediate answer isn’t present doesn’t mean it never will be, but it would be fair to say of a claimed contradiction, “This is a tough problem and I guess we have to do more research.”

The problem for our age today is inerrancy has become a code word, a shibboleth of sorts that must be adhered to or else here come out the hounds of heresy. At the same time, many young people have married their faith to inerrancy. If there is one contradiction in the Bible, then throw it out. The same has happened with young-earth creationism. This isn’t to say that either of those positions is false, but it is to say we need to see what Christianity really relies on.

Also, Lindsell does sad at times dealing with the contradiction claims. Some of them are quite simplistic and they don’t require much, but the really problematic one is about how many times Peter denies Jesus before the cock crows. In the end, Lindsell has Peter denying Jesus six times. Fanciful interpretations like this do no service to inerrancy.

In conclusion, Lindsell does get a battle starting, but could this battle have far more casualties than intended? Instead of pointing to the dangers one sees if a position is denied, how about going more and more to show the best way to approach scholarship and how to do research? Such a work forty years ago would have done much more good than what we have here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Love Thy Body

What do I think of Nancy Pearcey’s book published by Baker Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Nancy Pearcey’s book is a must-read. It is a nuclear missile of sorts going into secularism and a powerful argument that needs to be dealt with. At the same time, it’s a simple argument. It starts with a basic premise that all of us can immediately see and goes from there.

That premise is your body is something that shows who you are. If you want to know how you look publicly to the world, all of it comes through your body. We might say we live in a world that values the body. After all, you can find fitness videos to no end at the video store and there are TV programs about weight loss and everything else related to the body.

It can still be that we don’t really value the body that much. We can idolize it without really understanding it. Do we really care about the body itself or about the image we portray with the body? Is the body something truly good in its own right?

Pearcey uses this claim to get to arguments about numerous areas. You will find the hook-up culture, living together before marriage, abortion, pornography, homosexuality, and transgenderism addressed in this. All of this leads to giving more power to the state. If only she had written about something that people are talking about today….

Pearcey says that in each of these items, we are making a false statement about the body. Sex is a powerful expression two people make with their bodies for one another. It is really giving all that you can to another person. We speak about it as a grand finale. We go all the way. We hit a home run. We score.

Instead, our culture often reduces sex to just a hobby. We have this idea that you can have sex with no strings attached, but you can’t. Your body knows what you’re doing and that’s why bonding chemicals are released during the act of sex, including chemicals for a man. Your body is forming a bond with this other person in the act of sex.

Porn does the same kind of thing training your body to respond to a lie. The body you see on the other end is not a real body, but it is more fake. It is the result of a lot of make-up and such made for just that occasion. The person on the other side of that camera doesn’t care about you. They don’t even know that you exist. You will not get the joy of undressing them before your eyes and getting to run your hands over their body yourself. There’s a reason why many men today are in their 20’s and having to take Viagra. A real woman can’t get them to respond any more because porn makes them need more and more.

Women struggle enough as it is with self-image in the area of physical beauty. It doesn’t help them that they now think they have to struggle with countless women seen in porn. I say this also realizing that women today will also watch porn and will face similar struggles though different in some ways I’m sure to the men.

Abortion shows this struggle as well. Abortion downplays the body in that science is not the decider of whether that is truly a human. An artificial category is made up so that something is human, but it is not a person. There is no scientific test for such a thing. It is an ad hoc claim made to justify the killing of the innocent human person in the womb.

Homosexuality is also such a case of lying with one’s body. It is saying that one has the body of a man or a woman, but they will deny this. They will instead treat their body like it is that of a woman or a man. Again, the problem is a downplaying of the body and it is because feelings take precedence. One feels a certain way so forget what the body says. It is overruled by the emotions.

Transgenderism really demonstrates this. One believes a lie so much that one is willing to have one’s own body mutilated rather than work on changing the feelings. We live in an age where one can deny the body so much that one will undergo surgery to make it subservient to the feelings.

All of this also gives more power to the state. The state has to step in and change things. Marriage is no longer about a physical union, but it is about the feelings the people have for one another. Under many a secular definition, two roommates living together can be married even though they have no romantic feelings towards one another and will never have sex together.

The state will step in and redefine terms and then it will have to defend those terms and those who resist are enemies of the state. The ultimate target is the family. The family is a threat to the government since the family does not depend on the government for its existence. It’s a pre-political reality. The charges are serious and the cause is serious.

Get Pearcey’s book. Read it. Learn it. Open your eyes to what is going on around you. Pearcey’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in debating in any of these areas.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/27/2018: Nancy Pearcey

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

We live in an age where people are really enthused about their bodies. You can turn on TV and see many fitness shows. You can go to the library or the DVD store and you can find plenty of fitness videos. Of course, we live in an age also of rampant sexuality which means that we really want to appreciate those bodies all the more.

In this, we have a book come out called Love Thy Body. Obviously, this is a book about working out and taking care of yourself. No? It isn’t? What is it about? It’s about in an age where people claim to love their bodies and be fascinated with them, we really don’t listen to them and pay attention to them. With our fitness regimes, we treat the body as fundamentally important. With our philosophies, we treat it as highly secondary. Perhaps it could be that we don’t really love our bodies.

This plays out in a number of areas in our lives. It plays out in abortion, pre-marital sex and the concept of living together prior to marriage, homosexuality, and transgenderism. (You kind of wish the book could have talked about something relevant to today don’t you?) In all of these areas, we deny the truth of the body and put that truth below something else, most notably, our feelings for the most part.

I’m very pleased to have on the author of this book. This is a lady with a razor sharp mind and as I have gone through the book I have often asked, “Why is it that I didn’t put two and two together like this before?” The book I really think is a bombshell on the whole culture war and one that should not be ignored. The author is Nancy Pearcey. So who is she?

According to her bio:

Nancy Pearcey is the author of the newly released Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. She is professor and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University and editor at large of the Pearcey Report. Her earlier books include The Soul of ScienceSaving Leonardo,Finding Truth, and two ECPA Gold Medallion Award Winners: Total Truth and (coauthored with Harold Fickett and Chuck Colson) How Now Shall We Live? Hailed in The Economist as “America’s pre-eminent evangelical Protestant female intellectual,” Pearcey has spoken at universities such as Princeton, Stanford, USC, and Dartmouth.

I hope you’ll be listening to this show and I hope this is a book you’ll also want to get your hands on. Pearcey gives some powerful arguments that will help with debates you get into concerning homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, and pre-marital sex. Not only that, she often writes with a pastoral heart on the need for compassion for people struggling with many of these areas. Please be watching and please also consider going on iTunes and leaving behind a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s always good to know that you are enjoying the show.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Piety and Rationality

Can two normally good things be used in a very bad way? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Spend any time dialoguing on sites like Facebook and such in debate threads and you’ll find out that people often have very strong opinions on matters. Not only do they have strong opinions, they also many times do not have a good basis for those strong opinions. It’s not a Christian or an atheist problem, but it is instead a human problem. Everyone is prone to this.

Last night, this came up in a discussion thread. Someone remarked that while atheists and Christians can both be prone to not doing real research and studying and have an anti-intellectualism, atheists seem to do so while proclaiming themselves the rational ones. It was said that one does not see Christians doing this sort of thing.

If he means Christians normally proclaiming themselves champions of reason, that is often true, but Christians do something similar. For them, it’s more often related to holiness and piety. When a Christian is in a debate with another Christian, and sometimes even a non-Christian, they will fall back on their piety in defense of what they believe.

Francis Beckwith once said that if a Christian can’t beat you with logic, they will trump you with spirituality. If you present a point in a debate that can’t be refuted, you can expect to hear something like this. “Oh. Well, you just need to pray more.” “You just need to ask the Holy Spirit to show you.” “You really need to listen to the voice of God on this matter.” “You must not study your Bible well.”

Now it could be the other person needs to pray more and study their Bible better, but it doesn’t show that they are wrong. The way you show someone wrong is not by saying something about your character or their character (With some granted exceptions of course), but by actually looking at the argument. What data has been presented that is false or misunderstood or what steps in logic are being done wrong?

With atheists, it’s often what I have called atheistic presuppositionalism. An atheist is rational by virtue of being an atheist. They don’t believe in the silly myths that everyone else thinks. If they’re a rational person, their arguments must be rational and their conclusions must be as well. Is it a shock that so many atheists think that they’re brilliant researchers by being in the know on Jesus mythicism? (This is comparable to how Christians think they really know what is going on with the Illuminati and the New World Order and other such things.)

What both sides really need is some intellectual humility. It’s nigh impossible for them to just say that they could be wrong. It’s actually worse than that. It’s nigh impossible to admit that the other side could have a point. Many times, one wants to commit ritual suicide practically before granting that the other person may have a point.

The solution in both cases is the same. Humility. Stop and realize what the other person is really saying. Then go and look at their argument. If they have a flaw that you can see, point it out. If not, then maybe look at yours and see if you have a problem. If you’re unsure, just think about it. It’s okay to leave the conversation and come back later. Be willing to do the research and read both sides. The sad aspect is that both Christians and atheists doing this are both fostering an anti-intellectualism. (And let’s be clear, anti-intellectualism has absolutely no place in a Christian worldview)

I look forward to a day when research is done better on both sides. It’s probably a pipe dream, but maybe it will happen. If you are regularly debating and have never changed your mind on any case and had significant changes to your worldview, you’re not really doing research and study. You’re just setting yourself up as infallible.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Something Worth Guarding

What do you do with what matters most? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today, my wife Allie and I have been married for seven and a half years, which is incredible to think about. It really seems like something incredible to realize that when I go so many places, I have my wife going with me. That is a treasure. When I get together with other couples, we are just that, a couple. When I get together with my own family, we are together and it seems odd to think I sleep next to my wife in the room I used to have to myself alone.

One question asked to me today was about relationships with other women. This is something I keep guard on. Why? Picture you have a safe-deposit box at the bank. What are you going to put in it? Will you put in the groceries you bought at the store today? Will you put in a bottle of medicine you bought over-the-counter at the drugstore? Will you put in a can of cat food you bought at the pet store?

Or will you more likely put in fine jewelry, important documents you have, money, family heirlooms, etc. Why? These are things of far greater value. They need to be guarded and protected. What matters most is what you protect the most.

In earthly relationships, my marriage matters the most to me. That is why I guard it. In my ministry capacity, I often have to answer questions from women that get in touch with me. For a simple question, that is fine, but if it becomes anything involving intimate issues, then I always ask if my wife can be in the correspondence. If this is not agreed to, I tell them I must pass them off to a female who can answer their questions.

Most affairs do not start out with a guy getting out of bed one day and saying “You know what? I think today would be a good day to cheat on my wife.” They start with a guy in an innocent relationship with a woman, perhaps at the office, and she starts giving him some attention that he likes. He starts talking to her and before too long, he’s joining her on her lunch break or vice-versa. The relationship is emotional but as that emotion starts to build up, the people in it want to turn it physical and lo and behold, they wind up at a hotel together.

This is also why I follow the Pence rule. A lot of people mocked Pence when that came out. (I do realize it is not original to Pence, but it is called that often.) If Harvey Weinstein had followed this rule, how different would things have turned out? My relationship with my wife is not worth risking.

Also, this means that pornography has absolutely no place whatsoever in my marriage. I never look at the stuff. If it accidentally pops up on my computer, I feel awful. I go and tell Allie about it immediately. I don’t want her to ever be on my computer and see a link come up that makes her wonder what I’ve been doing.

Sexual fidelity is a major deal for me. Allie is the only woman I have ever had sex with and I intend to keep it that way. Why would I want another woman in my head when I’m with my wife? Do I dare want to say that Allie is not good enough for me? Absolutely not! I regularly tell her she’s the most beautiful sight I have ever seen! Just the chance to see her and be with her has been a great motivation in my life for necessary change that I need.

Being on the spectrum, we also have therapy together and that is a great benefit to our relationship. We have no problem going to other people when we are in a tough situation and getting their input. That’s just seeking wisdom and we realize many people have been married far longer than we have been and know a lot more.

I also do the steps to maintain our relationship everyday. If you are on Facebook and are friends with me, you know that I don’t post on Sunday, but every other day, I post something about how I love my wife. People also know that I can be mild-mannered. I can sometimes be rough in a debate with a skeptic, but there are limits.

Yet if anyone dares to insult my Allie on there, then people know the rule. Stay back and get out popcorn. Rage is the only word to describe it. You could say my philosophy then is “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” I take no prisoners and I let anyone have it who dares to go after her. Efforts to calm me down in that state are pointless. You might as well try to calm down the Hulk when he goes into a rage.

It also means you plan in advance for birthdays and anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. Our anniversary is on July 24th. That means that planning for the next year begins on July 25th. As it stands, I am right now considering multiple options for what I will do on that day. Normally also, book sales that I have saved up under my ministry partner are used to support what I want to do that day.

This requires intentional work. This requires sacrifice. It also requires many times going against my feelings. There are times my wife wants me to do something and I don’t really feel like doing it. Imagine she needs something and I have just sat down and want to read my book and hear, “Nick. Will you go to the store and get some milk?” My wife can’t drive due to a brain injury, so I have to do it. I can assure you I don’t want to do it most of the time. I don’t feel like doing it. I would love it if someone else could do it. I still do it. Why? Because I love her and if there is something my wife needs and my feelings don’t care for it, my feelings have to take a back seat.

If you build your relationship on your feelings, you’re dooming it to failure. No feeling can last forever. It shouldn’t even. Many of us could not focus at all if even positive feelings always lasted forever. Sometimes, negative feelings will show up, and you have to go against them. There are always little foxes seeking to destroy the relationship.

Christianity plays an integral part in what we do as well. When it comes to nighttime, before we go to sleep, we read a little bit from the Bible and then we pray together. Prayer is something we turn to in crisis. We’re also available when we need it to do ministry. We make an interesting team. I tell people I’m the head and she’s the heart. If you want someone to really listen to you and emphasize with you and feel your pain with you, go talk to her. She’s better. If you want someone who can reach your head and answer your questions, come to me.

Today, one of the greatest reasons I am the man I am today is because of my wife. She has transformed me in ways that even my own parents who have known me longest in my life think of as remarkable. My old roommate before I married Allie knows I used to pretty much have frozen pizza en masse in the freezer for my dinner every evening. When I told him that is no longer the case because Allie has changed my diet, he just said “Wow.”

If you have a marriage, work to build it. Should your spouse work to build it too? Yeah, but if they’re not, that doesn’t absolve you of your responsibility. Of course, this is different if you are in a relationship where you are actively being abused or the children are being abused. In that case, get out while you can. At least go with separation for the time being and demand that the offending spouse get some therapy and don’t go back into the relationship until a therapist okays it. (Of course, you also don’t be going and having affairs with other people in a time of separation.)

If you think your marriage is valuable, you will cultivate it. If you don’t, you won’t. The reality is that if something is important to you, you spend time on it and learn about it and do what you can with it. My wife is a gift and I treasure the relationship with her and it’s always new to me. Some things never get old. Loving my wife is one of them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters