Book Plunge: Seven Signs That God Has Someone For You

What do I think of Wes Raley’s book published by V Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Ah. Marriage. I remember the days when I was single which looking back now after eight years of marriage seem like a distant memory. If you asked me what it’s like to be a bachelor now, I honestly couldn’t tell you. My life has been so radically changed by marriage that I can’t imagine going through life without my Allie by my side.

But I do remember that when I was single, it was the constant cry of my heart to have a woman to share my life with. If you had told me on July 24, 2009, that a year from then I would be standing at an altar pledging lifelong love to a woman, I would have laughed in your face most likely. Not going to happen. No prospects. Women just don’t want a nerd like me.

Now I try to encourage other men who are single and in the same boat in many ways. Some are older than I was when I married. It’s a hard path. So when I saw Wes Raley’s book being advertised in Kindle email deals and advertised for free, I had a lot of red flags. I’m very cautious about people talking about signs and the like, but I thought I would check it out. Free after all. Right?

Fortunately, it’s a short book. I had it read in an hour. I can say I am thankful Wes found someone and that he is writing to help others who have the same struggle we both had at one time. That being said, I don’t think his book treats Scripture properly and thus will not help and could do more harm than good.

My wife and I both know people who wanted to find that special love in their life and never did. We are speaking about people who are already dead. I try to encourage guys they can find someone, but I do not seek to speak for God.

I also don’t think there is anyway from Scripture to know the mind of God in if He has someone for you or not. I also think it’s false to talk about that special only one that you need to find. For most people, I think there are a multitude of people you could marry in the will of God. Here are some requirements to look for. They have to be someone who is a Christian and someone who is of the opposite sex and someone you can live the rest of your life loving and they can’t be a close relative.

If we go with the one that you have to find, that leads to chaos. Suppose you marry the wrong person. You’ve messed up then. No big deal. Right? Wrong. Not only have you married the wrong person, so have they, and what about the people you two were meant for? They can’t marry the right person so if they get married, they marry the wrong person and what about the people they were meant for? On and on it goes. Congratulations. You have screwed up God’s plan for humanity by your choice.

So let’s go through what Raley says.

He starts on a bad note by saying “Faith is often opposed by human reasoning.”

I’m not sure what other kind of reasoning we could use, but it’s not good to start with this kind of statement. It is true that Scripture says our faith does not rest on human reasoning, but saying it is not the foundation does not mean it plays no role in the structure at all or is often opposed to it. Many of you know that in my writings, I stress that faith is trust in that which has been shown to be reliable. If God has shown Himself to be reliable, it is quite reasonable to trust Him.

Raley then says that if our faith rests on anything other than God’s power, we risk living in a perpetual doubt to avoid being disappointed, but isn’t a life of doubt and unbelief already a disappointment? At this, I wonder what is meant by God’s power. I mean, I have faith that God could pick up my apartment complex right now and hurl us to the sun if He wanted to. He has that power. I don’t think that He will. I don’t think it so much that I’m not falling to my knees begging that it won’t happen.

I also think that our faith should not rest so much on what God could do, but on what He has done. He raised His son from the dead. It’s not about what God can do in my life. God can dispense with me at any time. It’s about what God did in Jesus and if God did what He did in Jesus, I can trust that as He said, He is working all things together for my good, even if they are not good themselves, as Romans 8 says.

Raley goes on to say that He believes God has written His promises to us on our hearts. Many people might think that that’s nuts, but it matters what God thinks and what He has promised. Indeed, what matters is what God thinks and has promised, but what Biblical mandate do I have to think that God has written His promises on our hearts? Scripture says His law is written on our hearts, but nothing about an individual mandate for our lives.

We move on through examples like Abraham. Yes. God did wonders in Abraham’s life, and while He can do such, we have no basis for thinking that we will be treated like Abraham. God spoke to Moses, but not to Joe Israelite wandering in the wilderness, and there were plenty more of them.

When we get to Scripture, it starts with James 1:5. If you lack wisdom, ask God who gives generously to all? God doesn’t want us guessing! What could go wrong? I mean, maybe, and let’s just take a purely hypothetical situation, you could say that this verse gives you a basis to go out in a field and kneel down and ask God what denomination you should join. What could go wrong?

What’s really going on in James? The wisdom being asked for is not something about personal knowledge. It’s about understanding suffering. The church was going through suffering and James is saying if you lack the wisdom to handle suffering, ask God for it. He’ll give generously. It’s not treating God as a personal answering service.

By the way, if we go with this and we are supposed to say that God tells us that we are to have someone in our lives, what do I need seven signs for? If you need seven signs after that, that is not faith. That is a lack of faith. Gideon didn’t even need seven signs.

It’s not a shock that Raley also uses Jeremiah 29:11 about the plans that God has for us. Never mind that this was said to the nation of Israel and the you is the plural nation and this was a nation that was going into exile in a foreign land and most of them would not see these plans fulfilled in their lifetime. No. Just take it and individualize that.

Now we could interpret this and say, “Just as God knew what He was doing when He let Israel go through suffering, so does He know what He is doing when He lets us go through suffering.” We could then take passages like Romans 8 and show God will work this for our good. It is improper hermeneutics though to take this passage out of its context and apply it to us in this way.

Raley then goes to Romans 12:2 and says if we transform our thoughts, we can know God’s good and perfect will. Isn’t this a great promise? By renewing our mind, we can find out God’s will.

Well, no. The text doesn’t say we will find it out. It says we will know. Second, we have to ask what is meant by will. Let’s suppose God has willed a day when the return of Christ will take place. Does this mean if I renew my mind, I can know that day? Doubtful. Does it mean I can even know the day God intends for me to die? Also doubtful.

What it means is the moral will. I can know how I ought to live rightly in relation to God and my fellow man. It is again bad hermeneutics to read individualism into the text.

Raley says believing God has the best in mind for you is the starting place of discernment. No. The starting place is to learn how to think properly in your mind and then apply your thoughts to Scripture rightly.

I do not want to list the seven signs really. Why? Because I still realize he wants to sell books and I don’t want to spoil a plot. It’s free for now, but maybe it won’t be in the future. I will speak to some bad Scriptural usages.

Raley uses Psalm 37:4 about trusting in the Lord with all your heart and He will give you the desires of your heart. Yet is this verse talking about that? In the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, John Walton says about this passage that in the Ancient Near East, this was about seeking God’s answer on a particular omen. It wasn’t about one’s own desires but about a specific desire.

Raley also uses 1 Kings 19:11-12 and Elijah and the still, small voice. It’s interesting that no one ever records anything this voice said. Maybe it wasn’t a voice but a gentle wind instead. Also, when this was done, Elijah went and spoke to God and God spoke to Him. This was not in a still, small voice. This was also one time in the Bible. If Elijah’s experience is to be mandatory for us all, perhaps it’s also mandatory for us all to expect a flaming chariot to take us to Heaven or to be able to expect fire to rain down from Heaven on our enemies at our command.

Raley also asks that if we ask God for this and we feel peace in our heart and confirmation, not to ignore this. Again, this brings us back to something like the Book of Mormon which uses the exact same test. Many times if we are making the right decision, we will NOT feel peace about it. The right decision can be scary.

 

At one point, Raley uses James 1:17 about every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above. Yet keep in mind Paul says there was given to him to keep him from being conceited a messenger of satan. Paul pleaded for this “gift” to be taken from him, but he was told it was for his good and Paul gave thanks in the end.

Raley is right that in Matthew 7, the Father wants to give us good gifts, but the gifts there given are staples of everyday living. I might as well say “A billion dollars would be a good gift. Surely God wants to give that to me.” There could be any number of reasons God doesn’t bless me financially. There could be any number of reasons God doesn’t give someone a spouse.

Finally, we are told to trust in God’s love for us. This isn’t a sign, but I definitely agree. If God blesses us with a spouse, rejoice. If He doesn’t, rejoice also. If God gives you one, it is for your good and theirs. If not, it is also for your good.

In the end, none of this is backable by Scripture ultimately I think and works better with our individualism in the church. I fear someone could get this and get false hope as well as start making Scripture more all about them. If you want a spouse, just go out there and seek one, but still live your life and serve God the best that you can where you are. Please don’t take Scriptural promises out of context and make them about you. We have too much of that today in the West already.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Pillow Talk

What do I think of J. Parker’s book published by HHH books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

J. Parker has been on my podcast before and I follow her blog and so when I found out she had a new book coming out, I asked for a copy. I thank her for agreeing to send me one. I was pleased to get this copy and thought it worth the read.

Here’s an advantage for many busy couples. This book is short. I managed to read it in a day and that’s a day with me playing a new game on our new Switch, having Mormon sisters over, and watching a movie with my wife in the evening. Couples who are trying to make time for each other will be able to make time for this book.

Beyond that, here’s another bonus for those couples. You don’t have to read it all at once. There is an introduction Parker wishes to have you read together. After that, feel free to jump around. Maybe you don’t need the chapter about dealing with menopause now or the chapter about children. That’s okay. You can look and decide which one is most relevant to you and go there.

Each chapter beings with a short little couple of paragraphs. None of these goes beyond even a page that I remember. They are short and easy to read. From there, there are a number of questions that Parker has for the couples to ask. These questions are to be asked to one another and they are to be interacted with.

Parker also has relevant Scripture for each one and a little devotional thought beyond that based on the Scripture. This is followed up by a prayer the couple is to pray together and then the part that most of the guys especially look forward to. The activities that you are to do together. Guys could be disappointed that none of the activities are “Just have sex” but the activities can be things that are a prelude for such activity and meant to make matters more comfortable for both parties.

There are also some appendices at the end. These go into the differences between male and female bodies and how they work as well as highly sensitive topics. Much more a problem for the men, though a problem for some women as well, is the issue of pornography. Rightly so, Parker is to the point on this issue. Get rid of any pornography whatsoever.

There’s also a section on a problem that is more common for the women today, though it happens to men as well. That’s abuse, especially prevalent to be talked about today in light of the #MeToo movement. Parker is once again right in encouraging therapy together to get past sexual abuse so it doesn’t hamper sex in your marriage.

So in the end, what’s not to love? You have a good and short book filled with valuable advice for couples that covers 40 different topics. The activities can also be very enjoyable for couples to do together to get to know one another better and if it works, well, let’s just say I think most every couple will agree that the benefits are well worth it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Understanding Four Views On The Lord’s Supper

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

We often think that the table of the Lord should be where we find unity. In an ideal world, this would be so, but we do not live in that ideal world. Unfortunately, it seems that when we come to the Lord’s table, even when we get there, we get into a debate about what is going on. We might as well learn to understand each other.

In this book, we get the views of a memorial view more in line with the Baptist tradition, the Lutheran view, and the Roman Catholic view. All come together with a mutual respect displayed for one another and in conversation. Each states his view to have it critiqued by the others.

I find myself more in line with the Baptist view. Many of the others honestly seemed to be incredibly similar to me and at times seemed hard to understand. All sides did strive to engage with Scripture to show the points they were arguing.

One aspect that surprised me was how little interaction there was with the early church. I remember Thomas Aquinas being cited at times, but I don’t remember people like Justin Martyr or Tertullian or others. It would have been good for some to try to give further demonstration that their view was the view of the original church that way. This was especially a shock when it came to the Roman Catholic position.

Many of these also addressed practical questions. Who can come to the table and how often should we come to the table? What about children at the table? All of these are important questions, but at the end, I am left with another question that might seem odd, but hear me out.

What practical difference does all of this make overall?

I am not against understanding what Jesus said and better making sense of it, but am I to think that you will not live a devout and holy life if you hold to the Memorial view as opposed to the Lutheran view? Is there anything in the text that indicates that unless a priest or a pastor says the right words or whathaveyou over the elements, that they do not become the body and blood of Jesus?

When we read the text, the text tells us in 1 Corinthians to examine ourselves. God will provide on His end, but we need to make sure that we are treating His gift properly. Most of the Christians today do not seriously think about the Lord’s Supper. While this is a shame, there is one right thing. They do it because Jesus told them to do it. If it drives them to live a holier life, all the better.

Also, I really don’t see churches today observing what I think is the Lord’s Supper anyway. Most of us have what my wife has called “The Lord’s Snack.” When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, there were people going home hungry and some getting drunk. How many people are going to take a little piece of bread or a wafer and say “I couldn’t eat another bite!” or get a little bit of wine and go home drunk as a skunk?

For us, it’s also individualized. In some Protestant churches, you can get the elements individually wrapped for you. In all branches, what I have seen is something very individualistic. A priest or pastor presides and people come up one by one and receive the elements that way. There is no unity. There is no need for you to know the person behind you or in front of you. In the ancient world, a meal was a communal experience. That is not going on in our churches today.

I am not against us striving to understand what Jesus said all the better, but I do hope we return to a table of unity soon. When we exclude fellow Christians from the table, I just consider this tragic. If we are all going to partake of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb together someday, should we not learn to partake of the table put before us together today?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Can A True Christian Be Depressed?

If you are a true Christian, will you ever despair? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The church has been sorely lacking when it comes to issues of mental health, at least here in the West. It’s a subject that’s very relevant to my wife and I seeing as we both have Aspergers and she has Borderline Personality Disorder on top of that which comes with depression. We are sadly disappointed by how the Christian community usually handles the problems.

This isn’t to say that all of them are like that. My wife and I both attend a Celebrate Recovery program which is an excellent program when it comes to these issues. I encourage Christians struggling with things like pornography and such to go find a Celebrate Recovery.

Too many Christians instead start looking down on a Christian struggling with depression. We can ask if a Christian should be depressed and if they should be depressed over what they are depressed over, but to ask if a Christian should be depressed is a strange question. After all, our Lord was said to be a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering and you can go through the Pauline epistles and regularly find Paul talking about his pain for the churches and what he was going through.

Not only that, when they confess that they are depressed, then we don’t help them often. Instead, we say things that make them feel worse. What do I have in mind? Well….

“You must not have a lot of faith.”

“You must be dealing with some sin.”

“Have you repented of everything?”

“Christians are supposed to have joy.”

“Your prayer life must be lacking.”

“Go read the Bible and pray.”

“Maybe you need a demon cast out of you.”

“Good Christians don’t get depressed.”

I am sure I could add many more. The problem with these is they don’t really take the time to listen to what is going on with the person. The whole philosophy seems to be that we can’t have a depressed person in our midst. I mean, it would be absolutely awful if people realized people in the church have struggles and weaknesses.”

There could even be some truth sometimes to some of these. For instance, sometimes if someone is depressed, it could be because of sin. At that point, we need to work with them and see what it could be and once they ask forgiveness for it, leave it there. Many women can be depressed after getting an abortion and many men after encouraging the women to do so. When this comes out, let the church be the place of forgiveness and then bring it up no more.

We also need to realize that many times we can’t control our feelings as much as we would like. Feelings and emotions come and arise and sometimes we don’t have anything to do with them or know what causes them. Sometimes I can experience some sadness and I don’t know why. It just happens. I try to move on.

That being said, we have much more control over what we do than we realize. Getting depressed isn’t necessarily a choice, but choosing to engage in self-harm or isolation or something of that sort is. I’m not saying it is an easy choice, but it is a choice.

There have been some times where I have had to have my wife hospitalized due to depression and those are tragic times to me. When those times come, I really don’t want to do anything and I have to push myself to do the blog or any apologetics. Whenever I get the chance, I visit her in the hospital, and sometimes I have been very concerned.

There are hospitals out there that do not have good treatment for their patients and the cleanliness and such of the hospital is quite poor. I am left thinking that we wouldn’t put up with this for our physical hospitals. Why do we give our mental hospitals the sort of leftovers?

There are many organizations that people support for physical health such as cancer and other diseases, and we should. Mental health often seems to get the shaft. Many times when we think about mental health? People who do things like mass shootings. As soon as one of these takes place, mental health issues are brought up. It seems foreign to people that sometimes people do evil not because of mental problems, but because they’re, well, evil.

If someone comes to church and we hear that they have cancer, we have a prayer vigil and such, and we should. We don’t seem to treat mental health issues the same way. It’s okay to have cancer in the church. It’s not okay to have depression.

This is especially relevant since many who struggle with this can after some time possibly wrestle with suicide. How can it be we let this happen and yet people are scared to come to the church and talk about these issues? Can you imagine someone struggling with depression being scared to talk to Jesus about it in His earthly ministry? By the way, His earthly ministry hasn’t ended. We’re supposed to continue it, and if people don’t want to come to us when they would to Jesus, we are doing it wrong.

Part of the Christian life is ups and downs. We will all have them. If we want to ask about why someone doesn’t have joy when they have Jesus, let’s ask ourselves first. I sometimes wonder why I can seem to get excited about many more things in my life than about Jesus.

If we ask how a Christian can struggle with depression, let’s ask how they can struggle with pornography or gluttony or greed or anything else. All Christians have some sort of struggle. If you are reading this as a Christian, you have a struggle. The sin that seriously tempts you might be something I don’t get bothered by in the least. Perhaps you couldn’t walk past a bar without being tempted to drink alcohol. I have zero temptation there, but maybe you’re less tempted with pride than I am. We all have something.

I’m also definitely not opposed to Scripture and prayer, but there’s a danger in treating them like a magic charm. “Go and read Psalm X and you will feel just fine!” You can get great comfort and encouragement, but it doesn’t mean the problem goes away.

We should also definitely be encouraging therapy for these people who struggle, but when they come to you with a struggle, they don’t really usually want you to do something about the problem. If you can, great, but one of the best things you can say is absolutely nothing. Just listen. Give a hug. (By the way, I encourage women to share with women and men with men. It’s way too easy for any emotional closeness like that to turn into sexual closeness that it shouldn’t.)

There’s also no sin in taking medication for this. If there is something going on with the brain, this isn’t wrong. Medication can’t be the cure-all and consistently, therapy does better than medication, but it can be an aid. Christians struggling with depression don’t need the added weight put on their shoulders of being told they’re deficient in Christianity due to having depression or taking medication.

Your church has people in it that are hurting greatly. Please always keep that in mind and be willing to be a listening ear and a friend. Do something simple for them. Just taking a friend in need out to lunch might seem small, but it could mean immensely more to the person who gets it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/5/2019: Rebekah Valerius

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

January is here and now it’s time to talk about abortion again. It’s the topic that puts to death thousands of babies every year and this in the name of women’s rights. Generally, it’s thought that if you’re a woman, you should obviously support this movement. Shouldn’t you be free to express your own autonomy and reproductive rights? Didn’t former president Obama say once that he didn’t want his daughters to be punished with a baby?

What if this isn’t always the case? What if sometimes women actually don’t want to jump on the abortion bandwagon? How are they to be seen? Are they traitors to the cause? Could it be that they’re actually the true feminists out there? Could it be that maybe having an abortion is not something that a woman should do, but something that a woman should resist?

My guest is an apologist who speaks on the issues of women and abortion. She is definitely of the opinion that women should not be in support of abortion. She is also living this out as a homeschooling mother of two and a wife. She will be with us this Saturday to talk about issues relating to women and abortion. Her name is Rebekah Valerius.

So who is she?

According to her bio:

Rebekah Valerius is a student in the MA Cultural Apologetics program at Houston Baptist University and has a BS in Biochemistry. She is a wife and homeschooling mother of two.

So why would a woman supposedly be going against her tribe and saying that women should not seek abortion? Does this mean that she wants women to be the slaves of men? Isn’t this really a very anti-woman position to take and is this just joining in and supporting the patriarchy as it’s called?

Or are there instead good reasons why women should really not be for abortion? Does it really have anything to do with women per se? Is the issue not so much the nature of woman as it is the nature of abortion? What is it about abortion that has Rebekah saying that women should not have them?

And then what if they have? We hear stories about women living in judgment and depression because they did have an abortion. Is an abortion a game over for a woman? Should she live the rest of her life with a cloud hanging over her head? What grace can be given to a woman who has had an abortion? (Let’s keep in mind also that not just women live with this. I have known men in my lifetime who have regret over the issue of abortion and helping to pay for one.)

I hope you’ll be joining me for this episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I really am working on getting back into the regular shows after so much that has been going on over here. Please be patient with any delay in bringing the best in Christian apologetics to you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship

What do I think of Hector Avalos’s book published by Sheffield Phoenix? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In scholarship, there are people who have strong positions on both sides. Many of them come with a lot of passion and that can be a good thing. Sometimes, they come with a passion that unfortunately taints what they say too much. Hector Avalos is one such person. When reading this one, it’s pretty clear that he’s practically dripping with venom against Christianity on every page.

This book called have been called a response to Rodney Stark, who seems to be the major villain in the piece. While Avalos questions Stark’s research, which is just fine, I often suspect Avalos has fallen into the same trap. If Stark gives the impression that Christianity brought sunshine and puppies and can do no wrong, Avalos treats it like a universal acid that eats through everything it touches.

At the start, Avalos says his book is the critique of the idea that the Bible should be the basis for modern ethics. I wonder who exactly is saying that. Most Christian apologists I know of argue from the basis of natural law theory on issues of morality. The Bible gives good and true information, but we also realize our secular friends won’t hear it, so we try to establish truths on grounds they do accept. We also realize the natural law is something known to all men even without explicit revelation, which I think even the Bible teaches.

Avalos also admits that even non-Christian scholars have high praise of Jesus. They say that Jesus can do no wrong. This is a good admission I like to see. Avalos doesn’t seem to share it (And in the text actually says he’s agnostic on the historicity of Jesus.), but it shows once again what a unique figure Jesus is.

On p. 7, we are told “slavery is a socioeconomic system centering on the use of forced laborers, who are viewed as property or under the control of their superiors for whatever term was determined by their masters or their society.” This could be fine insofar as it goes, but it still raises questions. What exactly is meant by property? What does it mean to be under control? How does this differ from indentured servitude or even employment today? These are questions unanswered. Avalos does admit that slavery is a hard term to define, but it doesn’t help to just arbitrarily make a definition.

On p. 12, Avalos has a paragraph about literalism and how the anti-slavery position went against the plain sense of the text. Yet at this point, we have to ask what is the plain sense? The plain sense differs from person to person. Part of the problem was thinking there was a plain sense that should have been immediately known by every reader. As Mark Noll says

“On the other front, nuanced biblical attacks on American slavery faced rough going precisely because they were nuanced. This position could not simply be read out of any one biblical text; it could not be lifted directly from the page. Rather, it needed patient reflection on the entirety of the Scriptures; it required expert knowledge of the historical circumstances of ancient Near Eastern and Roman slave systems as well as of the actually existing conditions in the slave states; and it demanded that sophisticated interpretative practice replace a commonsensically literal approach to the sacred text. In short, this was an argument of elites requiring that the populace defer to its intellectual betters. As such, it contradicted democratic and republican intellectual instincts. In the culture of the United States, as that culture had been constructed by three generations of evangelical Bible believers, the nuanced biblical argument was doomed” – Mark Noll, The Civil War As A Theological Crisis.

It’s worth noting that when Avalos talks about the American abolitionists and such, he doesn’t really say anything about Noll’s work. It’s referenced a few times, but serious engagement is lacking. I suspect there’s a reason for this.

On p. 16, he talks about the moral foundations and how they’re best found in secularism. One must base them on verifiable individual and group interests. Absent is any question of how to verify them or even tell that these interests are good and which individual or group? I seriously doubt Avalos wants to take into consideration the will of “religious” people, after all.

For finding the practice of caring for the poor, Avalos asks why we go to Deuteronomy instead of Job when the term in question is used in Job more times. Probably because Deuteronomy is our command on how we should live. Job while providing good wisdom, is not that kind of work.

On p. 30, Avalos talks about how we often don’t have enough information to know what an author meant. In some cases, this is true, but it’s interesting to me that when it comes to a text that someone else is interpreting, Avalos plays this card. When it comes to text like Jesus saying He came not to bring peace but a sword or that we must hate our parents, all of a sudden, those texts are clear and there’s no hint of authorial intent. This is a huge double-standard on Avalos’s part. I am not exaggerating. Avalos says Martin Luther King Jr. said Jesus had a love ethic, but Avalos contends that Jesus taught us to hate our parents in Luke 14:26 and therefore He was preaching hate. Statements like this really make Avalos lose credibility with me.

More and more of this shows up in the text and while I could list numerous more problems, I don’t wish to do so much of that. I want to hit on some major points. For one thing, Avalos spends a good deal of time talking about slavery in the ancient world in both testaments. One question is never answered. Why did slavery exist to begin with?

Most readers won’t think of this kind of question, but it’s an important one. You couldn’t just walk down to the street and go to Wal-Mart and get a job. If you wanted to pay for your family to have food on the table, you had to work for someone else and slavery was the system. Does that mean slavery was all sunshine and rainbows? Not at all.

Does it mean slavery was endorsed for all time? Of course not. Some things were granted for hardness of hearts, such as divorce. God started with the people where they were. There’s also the important question on the relationship between the two testaments and what applies to just Israel at a specific time and place and what applies to all people for all time. Avalos doesn’t touch these questions.

Any reference that can put God in a negative light is used. If God is portrayed as a king, that’s negative. If someone claims they are a slave of Christ, like Paul did, then Jesus is a wicked imperial ruler. Even in the parable of the owner of the vineyard who chose to give everyone a day’s wages even if they worked an hour, Jesus is still a villain. If evangelicals think Jesus can do no wrong, Avalos thinks he can do no right.

Avalos goes throughout history and I don’t honestly know enough about the accounts to say anything on those. Still, considering how he has acted throughout the book, I take things with a grain of salt. For Avalos, Christianity never did anything good except for fellow Christians. I am not at all claiming that everything Christianity has done throughout history has been wonderful and the church has no innocent blood on its hands, but I am claiming we have done a lot of good still.

Avalos also asks why the New Testament never commanded the release of slaves. There’s a quite good reason. I think such would have led to insurrection and Christianity would have been a movement about freeing the slaves largely and thus shut down so it could do no good. Christianity worked from the bottom up and not the other way around.

In conclusion, I found this book highly lacking. If other historians have gone through and documented errors in other parts, I would be interested. The parts I do know about, I found to be incredibly lacking and Avalos is just as much fundamentalist I suspect as the opponents he critiques. He just has a different loyalty.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

2019

What does a new year mean? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, like some of you, I stayed up to watch the ball come down. I normally stay up late at night anyway. I might as well do that. I didn’t care for any of the music being played at all. I just like the moment of seeing it become the new year.

I went to bed thinking about the new year. After all, I was born in 1980. I thought about what I have seen and did some checking to make sure. I was born when Carter was president and now Trump is. That means there have been seven presidents in my lifetime. There have been three Popes. As far as I know, there has been only one queen in England all this time.

This year, I will turn 39, which means I will be the age Jack Benny was at his prime. (Some younger readers might have to ask parents or even grandparents who that is.) I will have known the woman I love most for ten years this year and it will also be the tenth anniversary of my proposal to her.

When I started doing apologetics, I was leaning more towards a YEC perspective, a dispensational pre-trib futurist, and I did not have a clue on philosophy. Today, I am an OEC with no problem with evolutionary creationism, an orthodox Preterist, and Thomist in my philosophy. A lot has changed in my belief system over the years, but the focus on Jesus has never changed.

Ten years ago, I was living in Charlotte with a roommate. I have since lived back in Tennessee in my grandmother’s old house and now I live in an apartment in Cumming just outside of Atlanta. I was just blogging then. Now I am doing podcasts and looking forward to making regular YouTube videos.

And of course, major change. I was a single man. Now I am getting ready to celebrate nine years of marriage this year. That change cannot be left out.

Many of these changes would not have been predicted. Some could have, but not with exactitude. We would have known there would be new presidents and popes. There would be no certain way of knowing how many. Regardless of your position in life, we all take steps every day not knowing where they will take us. Some we regret. Some we do not. Some seem good at the start, but they end in tears. Others seem painful at the start, but they end in joy.

A new year will also always be full of new steps. No one knows what the year will hold. At the start of 2009, if you told me I would meet a girl I would love who would become my wife, I would have said, “That’s a great dream, but what are the odds?” if not laugh. The last laugh would have been on me. Things happen that I wasn’t expecting.

Now with 2019 upon us, I can have my hopes and dreams for the year, but I don’t know what will happen. Chesterton once said that blessed is the man who expects nothing, because he will always be surprised. I have no idea where God has me going this year, but I do know from Scripture it will work for His good and not only His, but my own as well.

I might know you who are reading this and I might not, but I hope you have a Happy New Year. I don’t know what the future has for you. I don’t know who will come into your life and who will leave your life.

I do know that the adventure begins a new chapter for you today. The year is open to you. Make the most of it. It’s God’s gift to you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters 2019

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

2019 is coming up and Deeper Waters plans to be active. We haven’t had as many podcasts being able to be made recently. This is really due to circumstances beyond our control. We do hope to change that with the New Year.

Some of you may have noticed that I have been putting up new Book Plunges section. When I have the time and I remember, I try to do this. I could go and categorize even more. It depends largely on time. I hope to at least get the Book Plunges taken care of so everyone can easily find books they’re looking for.

I have also dabbled with the idea of a Deeper Waters Marriage blog where I get to describe more on marriage especially from the Aspie perspective. It’s my hopes that many people who are on the spectrum would benefit from something like this. I could also see if Allie wants to join me in doing some of the writing for that.

We also have had someone donate to us material so that we can produce videos. Hopefully, I will figure it out sometime soon. If so, we want to have much more of a YouTube presence. I have been asked to make videos especially on topics like Preterism. There is a group out there that I refer to as The Rapture Brigade. These are the people who constantly predict when the end is going to be. I don’t think many people are taking these people on and I consider them to be embarrassing Christianity.

We also have the second Mentionables Conference coming up and I plan to be one of the speakers there. I will likely be giving a talk on the resurrection. One other topic I would like to cover is the church and mental health issues.

If possible, it would be good to get in some debates. A few years ago I almost got to debate Dan Barker. There are a couple of others I am interested in doing some debates with. If anyone would like me for a debate, let me know.

I also plan to have some Ebooks out. I hope to get at least one more out before the year is up, though I really plan to aim for two. Again, it all comes down to just doing the work. In between reading, doing the blog, doing the podcast, being a husband, and just personal time, it’s difficult sometimes to sit down and just do something else.

And of course, there’s the opportunity for you all to tell things that you would like to be seen being done here. I am open to suggestions and this ministry is not for me. It is for you. This ministry cannot help you if I do not know what you want.

So that will be it for this year. I will be writing a newsletter later today and get in touch with me if you want to be on it. Until then, Merry Christmas from us to you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Should The Word Of God Be Clear?

Should the Bible always be easy to understand? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are two people that are exactly opposite in their outlooks. These will be your usual run of the mill atheist who thinks everything in the Bible is a bunch of nonsense. On the opposite side is your average fundamentalist Christian who thinks everything in the Bible is true. These two have something in common normally.

They both think that if the Bible is the Word of God, it will be clear.

And clear, what does that mean? Well, it means that they as a modern Western 21st century reader should understand the text. One difference might be the latter group thinks all you need is the Holy Spirit and you can understand the text.

Sadly, this idea is never really questioned. An interesting point about this is that this is not a historical objection to Christianity. It’s a theological objection. Yes. Even an atheist has a theology. If you have some ideas about what God should be like if He exists, you have a theology.

Why should this be true? Isn’t it rather arrogant of us to think that the God of the universe should write a book thousands of years ago that would be geared directly towards our time? Shouldn’t it be understandable more by the people of the very time reading it?

But isn’t God supposed to transcend cultures? Isn’t His truth for all people?

Yes. Of course. However, not all cultures are identical nor will they be. All cultures have a different idea of what clear is. What is clear to us might not be clear to a 16th century Japanese person.

If we look at the Bible, even Jesus speaking in His own time was not clear to His contemporaries. In 1 Peter, we’re told that angels longed to understand what was being prophesied in the Bible. The prophets themselves did not know for certain what it was that they were saying would happen. They were just the messengers.

Why would God do things this way? Why would He not make it easy?

Maybe because easy isn’t the goal. God doesn’t want us to treat Him like an answer to a trivia game. God wants us to treat Him as a person that is worth knowing. Consider you’re walking down the street as a single person and you think you see the most awesome person of the opposite sex. If you really want that person, you know what you will do? You will work to pursue them and win their heart and it might not be easy, but if you want the prize, you will do it.

Job speaks about wisdom and when it does, it starts with talking about a place where precious metals like silver are mined. If you want those metals, you have to work hard for them. Most anything we really want in life we have to work for. If you want to be physically fit, you have to work out at a gym. If you want to be a scholar, you have to work to get a Ph.D. If you want to be even good at a video game, you have to work really hard at it.

If something is easy to come by, it’s nothing really worthwhile for the most part. Even in marriage, if a man wants to have a “lucky” evening with his wife, he knows he has to put forward effort on his part, which might be washing the dishes or cleaning a toilet or anything else. If he values the prize, he will do the work.

Often, it’s as if atheists think God just wants to convince them of His existence, but that’s treating Him like a trivia game. If that’s not His goal, it’s not a surprise that He doesn’t just suddenly appear before people. I think He’s much more like many of us who want to be wanted. We want someone to want us because of who we are. No one likes to feel used.

If we want to understand Scripture then, we might just have to work on it. That’s not the case for everything in Scripture. Some messages I think are simple. Not all are. Many of them have several complexities to them that we don’t immediately grasp. If we care about truth, we will do the work.

If an atheist thinks that God should be clear, it’s up to them to back that. God never encourages laziness in Scripture. It’s up to them to show why He would outside of Scripture.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: For All God’s Worth: True Worship And The Calling Of The Church

What do I think of N.T. Wright’s book published by Eedrmans? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What is worship? What does it really mean to worship? This is something I have been wondering about lately. We talk about going to worship services, but worship services are more concerts meant to make us feel good. Is that really the point of worship? Is it possible that worship is meant for more to make us feel good?

N.T. Wright wrote a book on this and when I saw it on sale on Kindle, I swiped it up immediately since, well, it’s N.T. Wright. Wright’s writings to me are always deep and even if I don’t agree with something, it still leaves me thinking. Once again, Wright has not disappointed.

Wright in this one brings his natural blend of theology and history together. This is one of his great gifts. For Wright, there’s no such thing as disinterested history. History is always connected to theology and all of it is meant to draw us into the wonder of God. Wright delivers this as masterfully as He always does.

Wright speaks about the purpose of the church and Christ in the church. The church is meant to be wounded healers. We are to help one another with our lives. We are to be going to bring about the work of the Kingdom. This is to impact all of our lives including politically.

Wright goes into Biblical stories where he will show that the life of certain people in the Bible were touched by Jesus. There’s a wonderful chapter on the calling of Matthew, for example. There is a chapter where the Sermon on the Mount is talked about and even then Wright shows that what Jesus said was exceptionally jarring and challenging to the people of the day.

Wright’s book again challenged me to be a better Christian and to think deeply. One such chapter was a chapter on beauty where Wright asked us to contemplate the most beautiful sight that we could see and then ask what that does to us. Since I could immediately remember what that sight was, it was quite easy for me to think about what it does to me.

There is also a chapter on the God we want. If we had the God we want, I am convinced that this God would not challenge us. If God was the God that I wanted, He would be a god that would worship me instead of a God that I would worship. I would not be His servant. He would be mine. There’s a reason why our experience and feelings aren’t the best areas to go to to determine who He is.

If there’s anything that I would like to see more, it would be really a definition of worship. Wright doesn’t give one that I recall. I ultimately think that worship is really meant to draw us into the wonder and splendor of God and make us into the Christians we are meant to be. I hope Wright’s book will help more of us do that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters