Book Plunge: The African-American Guide to the Bible

What do I think about Dr. H.C. Felder’s book published by Christian Faith Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let me say at the start that I am not an African-American. I am very much white. However, I know there are many people in the black community that do struggle with the Bible due to issues in it such as slavery and how it has been seen as a white man’s religion. When I lived in Charlotte, I used to hear some of Felder’s shows on the radio and so I wanted to get his book to see what he would say from his experience about these kinds of issues.

There was also another concern of mine. I had a fear that the approach would also somehow demean other races throughout and I had a hope that that would not happen. I am happy to say that Felder’s book does not do that. I did not feel at all attacked as a white person reading this book.

Let’s start with some nitpicky issues and such I disagreed with on the way and get those out of the way. As one who defended Mike Licona when Geisler went after him, I did think at times there was too much dependence on Geisler in the work. I would have liked to have seen interaction with scholars who specialize in the Bible more.

One such indication of that influence is on p. 145. In speaking of Genesis 2 and the reference to Cush, Felder says there is no reason to take the reference as symbolic. That right there is a pretty big assumption. Maybe there is. Can we be absolutely certain we know so much about the text that we can rule that out? I’m not stating that I think it is symbolic, but if someone can make a case, let’s be open to it. From there, Felder goes on to say that if we start taking those places as symbolic, how do we determine what is and isn’t symbolic? Maybe all of the creation account is. Maybe then the fall of man is negated and there’s no need for a savior and Christianity is false without a literal understanding of Genesis.

Which would mean that we have a strong case from the New Testament that Jesus was resurrected from the dead in the body and was fully God and fully man, but we might not be sure because Genesis isn’t literal? Not buying it. I don’t need a fully literal (Whatever that means) Genesis to know that man is fallen. I can see that turning on the evening news or just looking in myself. Felder even speaks in this paragraph of the slippery slope and it’s the one Geisler raised as well.

On p. 42, Felder also says that the disciples became martyrs for their faith. Some of them did, but in all honesty, we don’t have the best historical testimony for all of them. Sean McDowell spoke of this well in his book The Fate of the Apostles, a book I interviewed him on on my own show.

I also found the section on prophecy lacking as an orthodox Preterist, particularly the idea that the return of the people to Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment. Last I checked, that was supposed to be preceded by national repentance, not followed by it.

So now, let’s go to the positives. Felder does look at the issues very seriously. The discussions about race and such are all interesting. He shows that there were people of color, not necessarily black, but people of color, all throughout the Bible. We have had a tendency to “whitewash” the Bible as it were when we make movies and the like.

The discussion about race is quite eye-opening as Felder spends a good deal of time looking at what race is. This involves a look at it in ways I had never thought about before. It’s not a really cut and dried question and I leave that for interested readers.

There is good material on slavery as well. Those who are concerned about the issue I think will find good support here. Felder naturally speaks with a heart on this being from a people that in the past 200 years experienced slavery in this country.

Felder also answers objections such as why is it that the white man seemed to thrive while the black men didn’t? Don’t blacks routinely score lower on IQ tests? Aren’t there differences in the races since blacks are more prone to getting certain diseases? Felder does leave food for thought in all of this.

Still, I think overall as I’ve indicated, the Biblical looks are the most interesting. Felder goes through the testaments and shows who could be seen as people of color in the passages. He goes to great lengths to show that racism has no place in the life of any Christian. What is good about this is that it is clear no race as we put it is superior. Blacks, whites, Asians, Indians, Eskimos, whatever race you want to talk about, none are superior and none are inferior.

While this book is meant for the African-American community, I think it will benefit those of all races. Those who are white like myself could read it and get a perspective on what it is like to be of another race and see how the Bible is seen from that perspective. In the end, I appreciated the read and I hope you will too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Tendency To Be A Marcionite

Do we all have a tendency to go that way? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It was within the past couple of weeks that I came to this conclusion. I was going to sleep at night praying myself to sleep as I usually do and I started thinking about my prayers to God. I started thinking about how the Father seems so unapproachable and things of that sort, and many of us I think do think that way.

Then the realization came to me. If Jesus is the one who showed the Father to us, then if we can approach Jesus, we can approach the Father. The thought hit me then that I had been being a Marcionite and I hadn’t even realized it. Was I not implicitly saying God was a God who was ready to judge?

I thought then of the many passages I have read on prayer. We are told to boldly approach the throne of grace in Hebrews 4. That is quite a serious claim. You don’t just come to the throne. You come with courage and confidence. You have all right to be there. God has granted you that privilege because He has adopted you as a son or a daughter.

And what does that tell us? God is supposed to be one that we approach as Father. The New Testament seems to go to great pains to get us to realize that. Jesus tells us in Luke 12:32 that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. He before this even tells us to fear not. Could it be we are told to fear not because we fear the opposite from God?

What about Elijah? James tells us that Elijah prayed and it didn’t rain for years. He prayed again and the rain came. Before this, he says Elijah was a human being just like us. The prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

And if this is the case, the other danger of seeing God wrongly is that we don’t see Him truly. We miss who He really is. If we see God in this way, how can we present Him as truly a God of love?

This isn’t to say that He’s not a judge either. There is some of that judgment in Jesus as well. Just see what Jesus did in the temple or read the book of Revelation. Jesus can be quite tough on those who oppose Him. The Father we are told disciplines us because we are sons and He loves us.

If we see God as a father, what kind of father is He? Jesus tells us that if we ask our fathers for fish and eggs, will we get snakes and stones instead? What kind of father would do that? Yet sometimes we treat God as someone we have to beg and beg just to get one good thing from and we live in constant fear begging for mercy over and over.

And maybe you’re reading this and realizing you’ve had the same tendency. I think it shows up in people who come to me and struggle with doubt. They think that if they didn’t say or do the exact right thing, God will abandon them and say they’re not really Christians. He wants to keep them out of eternity on a technicality. Is that not the same sort of problem? The cross should show us God is willing to do what it takes because He does desire to forgive. Heaven is not for God but for us. God doesn’t need Heaven. He needs no place to dwell. We need a place if we are to be with Him.

So now, I am in the mental process of working on rethinking issues relating to prayer and who God is and thinking more and more about the awesome privileges that come to us who are Christians. I hope some reading this who have the same struggle are starting to rethink. If we are to tell the world about the goodness of God, we need to believe it ourselves.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Tribute To Nessie

How do you handle the loss of a furry friend? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last week, a friend took us to a concert and since I wasn’t able to do the blog and since I like to do the same number every week, I took a week off so no worries readers that this had stopped forever. While my wife enjoyed the concert (I actually stayed in the hotel to read instead which was fine to her and her friend), she had something concerning her. What about Nessie?

Just after my wife turned twelve, her family went to get a dog and had decided to get a West Highland White Terrier. The dog was named Nessie and Allie had a strong bond with her. When I started dating Allie, there were times when Allie and I would be sitting on the couch and the dog would jump up in between us. We suspect she didn’t like me too much then. After we married, Nessie stayed with Allie’s parents and when I came over for awhile to visit, she did seem a bit cold to me, perhaps saying I was the one who took Allie away. Eventually, she did come to accept me.

But that was about 16 years ago. Dogs age like everything else does. Nessie was getting sicker. Her hearing and eyesight were going. She had diabetes. There were other conditions as well. We were sure it would be any day now. Allie was dreading the day.

The day came and it was February 1st. Now I was the one thinking I would have to be the really strong one. After all, I’m the one that’s not nearly as close to the dog as everyone else is. Yet when I went over to see my in-laws, it was sad to see everyone holding the dog in a blanket as if to get one final time together.

We all rode to the vet together. Everyone decided we all needed to be back there when Nessie was put to sleep so she wouldn’t be alone. I actually found myself getting choked up which was surprising to me, but how could I not? This was death right here in front of me that I was watching.

We as Christians know that Jesus did defeat death ultimately, but it still has some hold on us. It’s not permanent, but it reminds us that something is wrong with this world. Death causes a separation of sorts to take place. You can no longer enjoy the person’s company the way that you did in the past. Honestly, I would think any skeptic of Christianity who wanted to see loved ones again would jump at the chance to see if this could be true.

Shortly after it was done, my wife left the room and couldn’t take it. I went out there with her of course. While we were out there, I saw the vet who did the operation go by. I asked him if it ever gets easier to do that. He told me it never does. Another friend who’s a vet confirmed the same thing when we talked to her on the phone.

That day, I felt a great sorrow in me and I couldn’t really explain it except it’s just death. Sometimes you want to go to God and say the system that has been set up just sucks. Of course, I realize that we can say that we’re responsible for that because of the fall and all, but regardless of what you think of that, we all hate the system at this point. We think it shouldn’t have happened. God should have done a better job.

Yet could I think of a better way? It’s tempting, but no. This world will just stay fallen until Christ returns. We have to deal with that. In the meantime, I think it’s okay to have that anger towards God. Not everything is perfect. The Psalmists regularly had such anger.

Here we are a few days later. I think I’ve already sufficiently grieved. My wife and her parents are different which is understandable. They were all closer to Nessie than I was. Allie has been listening to a song regularly by Disturbed about holding on to the memories. It really is a good one. The whole point is to hold on to and celebrate the people you love while there’s time.

Which is a lesson we don’t really ever seem to learn. We tend to take people for granted. They are not going to be in our lives forever. Allie was tempted to not get close to our cat Shiro some this weekend, but then realized that wouldn’t be fair. It would be saying she regretted getting Shiro and Nessie. We have to realize that love is worth it even if it comes with the pain of known loss. When Allie and I married, we knew it was till death do us part. We need to celebrate one another until that day comes that we can’t.

Too often, we treat those people like annoyances. Every chance to love is something special. Allie looks back now and says she wishes she had gone on walks with Nessie more instead of being on the computer so much. How many of us say the same kinds of things?

This is why whenever I go out somewhere and Allie doesn’t come with me, the last thing I say is “I love you” to her. If anything happened to me while I was out, that way at least the last thing I said to her would have been that I loved her and she said it to me. I want her to always know that.

Some of you may wonder about animal afterlife. I did an interview on my show on it with Dan Story. You can listen to that here.

This is a post that my wife wrote on Nessie. I hope you will read it as well to see her perspective. I think she writes much more from the heart than I do.

And finally, here is a picture I made at Allie’s request for Nessie. May we see her again someday.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

On Toxic Masculinity

Is masculinity a problem in our culture today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Gillette has recently come out with an ad dealing with the problem of toxic masculinity. This is always a difficult term to talk about as no one I know really defines toxic masculinity. It can often be thought that a man being a man is guilty of toxic masculinity.

One example given in the video is a guy saying to a girl, “Smile, sweetie.” Perhaps it’s not necessarily the best thing to say, but if you turn yourself into a victim because you hear that, you have a far worse problem. Guys think women are beautiful and guys want women to smile. When my own wife has put up pictures of herself on Facebook, she has been told she needs to smile.

There has also been debate about the boys fighting in the video. Women have looked and said, “Bullying.” Men have looked and said “roughhousing.” The latter is not a problem at all. It’s how boys often bond with one another. Boys fight. You might say “Well, my son is a nerd. He’s not into fighting.”

Is that why he goes to see those superhero movies and Star Wars and plays video games with heroes fighting villains?

Yes. Even nerds fight in their own way. They may not be as physically capable of fighting with their own bodies, but they have the dreams just as much of being the heroes as their more physically capable fellow men do. Nerds can have just as much of a desire for adventure as other men do.

Today, we live in a culture that it trying greatly to feminize men. On the other hand, we’re also trying to make women into men. Consider the recent celebration in New York over an abortion bill. Don’t tell me that you see abortion as a sad evil when you light up a tower in pink to celebrate. These are people who actively want abortions and yet abortion is one of the most unfeminine actions there is. Abortion makes a mother into a murderer of her own children. However, women think they have to have this to be on the same playing field as men. Note also that about half of the victims in abortion will be women who are murdered.

Men meanwhile are guilty of great crimes if they think that a woman is beautiful and seek to pursue a relationship with her or compliment her. Now, of course, there can be always a danger. I do follow the Pence rule, which goes back to Billy Graham, of not letting myself be alone with women that are not family. The problem comes when as soon as a man expresses any interest, he is declared a pervert. At the same time, these women will ask where all the men are. They’re not there because any time they asked you out, they got shot down and learned eventually to not do it.

I have long held it as a policy to hold open the door for women. That is called being polite. Not so with the new feminists today. That is an insult. It is saying that they can’t open the door on their own. So if a man does something he thinks is nice and honoring to a woman, he is again a problem.

Men are also regularly told they need to be more peaceful in how they handle conflict. Years ago when I was a teenager, I did study karate for a season and we had a saying. Peace if we will, but power if we must. Men should always strive for peaceable means of resolving conflict, but sometimes peaceable means don’t work. Neville Chamberlain’s approach to Hitler did not stop him. It took leaders who stood up to him and fought back to stop him.

Interestingly, what was not addressed in the ad were countries that are Muslim who engage in female genital mutilation and throwing acid in women’s faces. Why did Gillette not say anything about this? Could it be that that was not politically correct? Gillette. You are not being courageous when you stand up and say whatever the culture around you is saying. If you want to show courage, go after Middle Eastern Muslim cultures that do this kind of behavior.

Men today live in a world where they are increasingly seen as villains because they are men. Most anything can nowadays be considered sexual harassment. A man will be less prone to even ask a woman out because he thinks he could be charged with a crime. This despite men living in a world where women try to look their best, which they should, and sex is all around him in media and in advertising. Men are wired to think about sex and yet if they respond to how they are wired and compliment a woman, they are punished for it.

Men are by nature creatures of high energy and we are not as relational as women are. When I talk with my friends, normally it’s about politics, apologetics, or video games. That’s how we bond. Women don’t bond the same way. That’s okay.

Men are also not perverts for thinking women are beautiful. We are designed to be that way. I was in a group on Facebook a couple of weeks ago asking why we think certain parts of our wife’s anatomy, none specifically named, are attractive. What did most men say? “We don’t know. They just are.” I pointed out that if we say that their bodies don’t matter, we’re not being Christian. We’re being Gnostic. Christ was born in a body, lived in a body, died in a body, rose again in a body, and today is still in a body. The body matters. The female body was made to be beautiful to man and as a married man who sees a female body, I have to say that God did a very good job.

Men are more aggressive, but like all good things, it can be controlled and directed. That energy and passion and aggression will cause men to do great things. The women in their lives also have a great influence. A woman can influence a man so he will do things he never dreamed possible before all because of the love of the woman. My wife got me to change my diet for instance. That might not be a big deal to you, but it is a big deal if you have Aspergers and haven’t changed your diet in about 30 years or so.

Gillette is not doing well from what I see in the culture. Recently at the grocery store here, I saw in the discount section a lot of Gillette products. I was playing a gameshow on my phone last night where the host mentioned a deal on Gillette products and the comments section immediately lit up with people saying no.

The huge majority of men don’t have a problem with toxic masculinity. They have the opposite. They need to be more masculine. Gillette is just engaging in the feminization of men. Where will the women be who push this when they want the men to protect them and the men are not there?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Born Divine

What do I think of Robert Miller’s book published by Polebridge Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Miller’s book is a book looking at the birth narratives with an emphasis on the virgin birth (Which I do affirm). It reminds me of what I read in Richard Shenk’s book on the topic that the virgin birth is really a shibboleth. If you want to know someone’s ultimate worldview and how they see Jesus, this is one question to ask. Was Jesus born of a virgin? Larry King was once on David Letterman’s show and asked if he could interview one person past or present who would it be. He immediately answered Jesus Christ. When asked what he would ask he said, “I would ask if He was born of a virgin. For me, the answer would explain all of history.”

So it is in Miller’s book. I certainly agree that most people don’t approach the doctrine of the virgin birth apart from all the others. It is more based on other doctrines. I hold to the resurrection, for instance, and with that, the virgin birth naturally follows. The resurrection shows that Jesus’s claims to be the Son of God and fully God and fully man are true and if so, then the account of the virgin birth fits.

Miller does speak often about how a miracle needs to be public, but I think that misses the point of the virgin birth. The virgin birth was not done as a public sign I think just so much as it was done so that Jesus could not be at all an adopted Son of God. He really is a unique human being with both natures fully in Him. I do not agree either with early church theologians who said it was done this way because sex is something fallen and Jesus didn’t need to come about through that.

Sometimes, Miller gives criticisms of the birth narratives that strike me as weak. Consider that there is often a repeated claim that the angel tells Joseph to return the boy to Israel from Egypt because those who were seeking His life are dead. Miller will tell us there were no those. There was only Herod. I don’t find this convincing at all since when Herod says he wants the child dead, I have no reason to think Herod himself went all around Bethlehem looking for boys and murdering them. Those would refer to soldiers of Herod that were sent to do the job.

Miller also speaks some about how Matthew interpreted prophecy. He gives about a paragraph to how Qumran did the same, but this strikes me as highly insufficient. Why is there no interaction with Jewish exegesis at the time? Why not reference the work of Longenecker that has been done on this topic?

By the way, that brings me to another concern I had. Miller’s bibliography is written on just two pages. I see this as the sound of one hand clapping. Why not look and see what someone like Keener or Witherington has to say in response to some claims? Sure, those two could be wrong, but isn’t it best to interact with them?

Consider as an example his look at the slaughter of the infants. Why should we not consider it? Miller tells us the story can’t stand apart from Matthew’s writing. Since the magi and the star are fictions, so is the slaughter. Also, Jesus would have to be born in Bethlehem, which he was most certainly not. Finally, the story fits perfectly with Jesus being the new Moses.

I find this as somewhat circular. If you don’t see the accounts as historical, they are not historical. Miller does look at the accounts of the magi, but I think there is a lot lacking. Who are they? Where did they come from? These are questions that needed more. I find it odd that when the narratives disagree, there is a problem, but when they agree, such as Jesus being born in Bethlehem, there is still a problem. As for Jesus being the new Moses, if you are a believer in God who is working behind the scenes, this really isn’t a problem.

There is something on history and miracles. He quotes N.T. Wright who talks about people who come with a high view of a closed continuum and everything being in the system so there can be no outside interference. Wright rightly says that this is something we cannot know ahead of time and gives the impression of a mouse sitting up on its hind legs and looking down on the elephant.

Miller says that this sounds open-minded, but it is intending to belittle people with the opposite view and make them look foolish. I find this amusing since this is exactly what is often said about those of us who believe in miracles. I also think Wright is correct. This attitude is right there in many scholars who assume that miracles can’t happen.

Miller replies to this saying that if we want to go the route of openmindedness and say Jesus had no human father, you must be open also to Plato, Pythagoras, Augustus, and others. Why yes indeed! As historians, we must be open! Let’s compare the evidence for them to the evidence for Jesus and see who comes out better!

Miller says we don’t believe in those stories because we don’t believe in those gods anymore, but too many Christians will say their God is real so the story is real. The question I have to ask here is why do we not believe in those gods? We don’t believe in them because they were more glorified superhumans. One God is overall a far better explanation and many of us have arguments that lead us to believe that there is one God, such as the Thomistic arguments that I prefer, though we could happily say that demons could take on the guise of any Greek or Roman god.

Miller also says that belief your God is real is religious and not historical. Sure, but my belief is not outside of history as it is my belief that this God acted in history and that cannot be ruled out at the outset. There is an attempt to compare this to the Muslim denial that Jesus died on the cross based on the Qur’an. I would ask in reply to see what non-Muslim scholars will grant is true in the Qur’an and compare that to non-Christian scholars on the New Testament.

One good benefit of Miller’s book that will be fascinating is that he lists several birth narratives in other works about Jesus outside the New Testament, such as infancy Gospels. These were very interesting to read, but at the same time it is quite astounding to realize how many people treated them as historical in church history.

Overall, I am unpersuaded by the counterarguments. I still hold that Jesus was truly born divine based on the evidence of the New Testament. Rest assured all that I still affirm the virgin birth.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts

What’s going on in Isaiah 55? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many times if you see Christians talking about ideas they have, they will often say that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. Any mystery can be appealed to by going to this passage. Unfortunately, if we follow it to that conclusion, we can often get into some really contradictory messages.

Let’s look at the passage in question in Isaiah 55:8-9.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Okay. Seems straightforward enough. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. Yet how far does that go? I have a thought that Jesus is Lord. Is that not what God thinks? I have a thought that 2 + 2 = 4 and that red is a primary color and that English is the language I speak. Does God not think those things?

You see, if we go this route, we can end up with a bunch of nonsense. It’s the idea that if we think something, then automatically God is not thinking it. Now of course, how God thinks something is radically different from how I think it and there are great differences between us, but when it comes to truth, we can think God’s thoughts after Him. It’s what we’re to strive to do.

It’s been said before that if you misunderstand a verse, not only do you misunderstand it, but you also do not get the true understanding. If this is the case, then the true understanding of this could be something great that we’re missing. Indeed, it really is. This passage is a powerful message of forgiveness and we have missed it.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendor.”

The passage starts with God as it were wooing His people. he wants them to come to Him. He’s offering His blessings to them regardless of their income level or what they can bring to Him. Yet there is always some hesitancy, and isn’t that often the case? Many people today can be hesitant to come to God because of fear of being judged.

So the passage goes on.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

This immediately precedes the idea of my thoughts are not your thoughts or my ways your ways. The question to ask in exegesis is “What is the passage talking about?” It’s talking about God wanting the people to return to Him. Many of them will be thinking “God will judge us. God will destroy us. God will not have mercy on us.” Why would they think that? Because that’s the way life is for them. God is someone to be scared of. God is a judge. God will destroy them and punish them. In essence, God is a big man.

God then says His ways are not their ways and His thoughts are not theirs. Their thoughts are like that, but God’s ways are to forgive and show love and mercy. It’s not to judge.

Do you see what has happened? We’ve taken a passage about love and mercy and now it has been made that most people do not see the love and mercy in it and the way of forgiveness. If anything, we’ve made God virtually unknowable by using this passage. After all, if His thoughts are not mine, then anything I think about God by definition cannot be true nor can anything you think of Him. That would be absurd and self-contradictory. After all, “None of my thoughts about God are true” is itself a thought about God. If none of them can be true then that thought can’t be true and well, it gets confusing from there if you try to keep following it.

Please be watchful of Biblical texts and how they are used. Try to approach the text and see what is going on in the larger context. You might miss a blessing.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

The 72-hour Rule

Should we wait before we comment? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes in the world of major news networks and the internet where everyone is wanting to break the story first, we can rush to conclusions. This is especially the case in the age of iPhones when everyone practically has a video camera with them. There can be details that come out later that change a story.

A few months or so ago here in Atlanta, there was a news story about an Uber Eats driver that shot and killed a customer. When I first heard the story, my initial reaction was murder. Then I found out that this driver had the customer near him and the customer was reaching for his pockets and making a threat about what he was going to do to the driver. The driver then shot and drove off. He also turned himself into the police later.

Now I understand that Uber Eats drivers aren’t supposed to carry guns, but I honestly don’t blame the guy. If I was going to see strangers regularly, I might want to carry some form of protection as well. We also can say we don’t know what this guy would do, but the police follow the same procedure. That’s why when I get pulled over for something like speeding, I always tell the police, “I’m just getting my wallet.” They don’t know.

Over the weekend, we also had such a story break out about a Catholic boy and a Native American veteran. Based on a short clip when the story broke, the boy was immediately being condemned as a villain for going after this Native American. No doubt, there were panels being formed on news stations discussing what we could do about problems like racism today and how the youth of our nation are and probably some digs at Catholicism.

Then more of the video came out.

Whoops! I understand that even CNN has said they got this one wrong. Everyone rushed to judgment and not all the facts were in. We all had to say something immediately. Now, there’s nothing wrong with forming an opinion, but make it a tentative opinion.

I even had a friend on Facebook last night who had apparently bought into the idea of the ten-second clip and yet so many good people were trying to explain the reality of the whole story. It wasn’t helping at all. Later on, when I made a comment, I got unfriended as did another friend. My position was one that I have said before. If evidence will not change a person’s mind, their opinion is not based on evidence.

This is especially so in our political climate. I don’t care if you’re someone who thinks Obama was the best thing since sliced bread or if you think Trump is. If I saw people sharing false stories about Obama, I called them out for it despite how much I did not care for the guy. If we want to take down our opponents, let’s do it in truth and not in lies.

The idea of the 72-hour rule was one I saw someone else share, but I think it’s a good principle. Before you come down hard on an issue, wait 72 hours at least. See what unknown facts could come out. Let the case be examined better. Rush judgments can leave egg on your face.

Not only that, this boy and his family have received death threats because of a rush to judgment, One would hope that we would all agree that that is uncalled for, but today, I am not sure. Either way, this boy has received attacks he never should have because of hasty judgments.

Those of us in apologetics need to remember that we are always supposed to be people of truth in everything. We are supposed to be diligent researchers and seeking to find out what is true. We can have opinions, but let’s not make them rock solid. Give things time and then you can speak and have less chance of egg on your face.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts on Jeremiah 29:11

What is Jeremiah really saying? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m sure we all know the verse.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We’ve all seen it on graduation cards and such. It’s such a wonderful and heartfelt message. A graduate opens it up and hears that God has plans to give them hope and a future and to prosper them. As the Church Lady would say, “Well, isn’t that special?”

The intention is good, but is the intention right? I can mean well giving a toddler a lollipop, but if that toddler has diabetes, I could be hurting them greatly. When we see this verse, we need to ask what is really being said.

Simple questions to ask. Who is the you? Who is God speaking to in this passage? What is the situation going on? Sadly, most Christians don’t ask these questions. They just do what’s known as the Baptist reading method of opening up the Bible and thinking it’s all about them and reading whatever verse they come to as a personal message from God.

What’s going on in this passage is Jeremiah is talking about the people that will leave Jerusalem for Babylon to be captives when God judges the city and lets the temple be destroyed. For these people, having the temple destroyed was the ultimate game over. God is done with us. There’s no hope. The covenant is broken. This is also why Jeremiah has passages about a new covenant.

Jeremiah is telling the people who are going into Babylon to stand strong there. Be praying for the good of that city. Ask God to protect that city. God is not done with them. They’re going to get to have another go at this. God will watch over them and bring them back.

In the middle of this is when we get this verse. The thing is that the overwhelming majority of people would never leave Babylon since they would be there around 70 years. Jeremiah is not speaking to them on an individualistic basis. He’s speaking on a national basis.

But does that mean that when we read this passage we just gloss over it? There’s no relevance to us? Not at all. Paul tells us that everything written was for us. Note that it was not written to us, but it was written for us.

So if I was a preacher who was preaching on this passage, what kind of thing would I say?

Probably something like this:

“I want you all to know that this passage might look nice on a graduation card, but that’s not what’s going on. You don’t know what will happen in your graduate’s life. They could go through incredibly hard times. They could go through wonderful times. You don’t know. They could get that card and die in a car accident the next day. Who knows?

What you can know is that when Israel went into exile, they would wonder if God was done with them. Had He abandoned His promises? Jeremiah is assuring them that this is not so. Regardless of how things look, God had made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to David, and He would bring it about.

In the same way, God has made promises to us in Christ. Though we will go through hard times, and they are promised to us, we can be assured that Christ will help us through them. He will honor His covenant to us just like He did to Israel. In the future, He will prosper us in the New Heavens and the New Earth and we do have hope in the resurrection of Jesus and the promise that what happened to Him will happen to us.”

By saying this, I have treated the historical context fair, I have not individualized it, and I have brought it to Jesus. We can trust in God that He will do for us what He has said. That doesn’t mean we won’t go through hard times. Let’s also remember to really study our Bibles and treat them with respect. Treat every verse in its proper context.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/19/2019: John Ferrer

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

Abortion is often seen as a way of protecting women. Women have to be equal, so let’s protect their rights! What if it isn’t? What if abortion is the exact opposite? What if abortion is really a war against women?

What if we went further and said that abortion is one of the worst evils being done in our world today? As a commenter on my Facebook page said about this topic, he can’t believe that he has to go out and defend life. Many of us today are shocked that we have to do this.

What if there’s also more to the debate than just personhood? We can focus so much on the question of if the unborn are persons or not. Could it be that our energies could be better focused elsewhere than on this topic?

Our guest tomorrow holds to these positions. He’s done a number of debates on the topic of abortion and has extensive research on it. We’re going to be talking with him about all of this. His name is John Ferrer.

So who is he?

* SES – MDiv Apologetics w/ emphasis in Languages
* SWBTS – ThM & PhD – Philosophy of Religion, w/ Ethics minor
* Dissertation – “Body Ethics” (a study of our ethical responsibilities in, to, and through our bodies).
* Publishings with Christian Research JournalSalvo Magazine, Christian Apologetics JournalJournal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, and others.
* Debates with Matt Dillahunty of “The Atheist Experience,” and with David Smalley of “Dogma Debate.”
* I have teaching experience with Texas Wesleyan University, Tarrant County College, Pantego Christian Academy.
* I host two teaching websites: IntelligentChristianFaith.com and AbortionHistoryMuseum.com.
* Currently I’m a teaching fellow with Equal Rights Institute, a pro-life training group in Concord, NC.
* I also volunteer with Pella ProLife and Central College Students for Life.

We’ll be talking with him about many of these experiences and about why he’s involved in the pro-life cause. Why should we care so much about the topic of abortion? What is his experience like getting to debate with Matt Dillahunty and David Smalley?

We’ll also be talking about the current work that he is doing in the area of abortion and apologetics and the abortion history museum. What is the history of abortion? Does it really kick off in 1the 1970’s or is there a whole lot more that we need to know about beforehand? We can also discuss about the question of bodily ethics and ask how abortion relates and what it is we are supposed to be doing with our bodies?

I hope you’ll be listening in. Very soon we will be updating the podcast feed to get some new December episodes up and then we can start looking at episodes in January about the topic of abortion. Please consider going on iTunes and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I really love to see what you guys think and to realize how much you enjoy listening to the show.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Atheists Who Don’t Care About Arguments

What does it take to convince an atheist? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend of mine on Facebook started a thread asking for a quote by someone indicating they need an experience to believe God exists. This is not knocking experience. It happens many times that experiences that are a divine encounter change someone’s mind. My problem is with saying that has to be the requirement.

Also, not all atheists are like this. Some of them are people who have reasonable discussions and look at the evidence. However, if you are an atheist who says you will only change your mind if you have an experience, then you are not a reasonable person. You’re just not.

After all, if you engage in a debate with me with that kind of attitude about the existence of God, what you are telling me right at the start is that your mind is not open to being wrong. If evidence cannot convince you that you are wrong, it is not evidence that your position is based on.

You also should not deny any Christian who is a Christian based on their experience. If an experience is a valid argument for you, it is a valid one for them. You can question the experience happened or their interpretation, but you should be consistent and let it be a valid basis for them.

So what kind of statements do I have in mind?

How about a start with Jerry Coyne and keep in mind, he says this evidence is tentative. One wonders what conclusive evidence would look like.

“The following (and admittedly contorted) scenario would give me tentative evidence for Christianity. Suppose that a bright light appeared in the heavens, and, supported by winged angels, a being clad in a white robe and sandals descended onto my campus from the sky, accompanied by a pack of apostles bearing the names given in the Bible. Loud heavenly music, with the blaring of trumpets, is heard everywhere. The robed being, who identifies himself as Jesus, repairs to the nearby university hospital and instantly heals many severely afflicted people, including amputees. After a while Jesus and his minions, supported by angels ascend back into the sky with another chorus of music. The heavens swiftly darken, there are flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, and in an instant the sky is clear.

If this were all witnessed by others and documented by video, and if the healings were unexplainable but supported by testimony from multiple doctors, and if all the apparitions and events conformed to Christian theology—then I’d have to start thinking seriously about the truth of Christianity.” Faith vs. Fact p. 118-119

Or Peter Boghossian. In his Manual For Creating Atheists he says that if all the world went outside at night and saw all the stars in the sky spell out something like “I am YHWH. Believe in me,” that could be suggestive. He doesn’t rule out that we could all be experiencing a mass delusion.

Bill Maher is reported to have said that if he thought he heard God speak to him, he would check himself into a mental institution and so should you. If this is accurate, then we have someone who argues that God does not exist. When he has an experience that could be evidence, he denies it.

Richard Dawkins in this video starting around 12:30 is asked what would it take to convince him God exists. In the end, he says nothing. There is always some other explanation and he admits this goes against the grain because he has always paid lip service to the idea of following the evidence where it leads.

Note that it’s lip service.

Now Christians can be sadly just as resistant to evidence, but it’s often atheists that are priding themselves as being people of reason. The problem with this is that if reason does not change your mind, your mind is not based on reason. Again, this doesn’t apply to all atheists, but if this is you, you’re not a genuine debater or reasoner. You are debating with a Christian wanting them to change their mind based on your arguments, all the while saying you will not change your mind based on their arguments.

This is just a small sample of quotes. I have no doubt that if I wanted to do a more in-depth project of this, I could find many more quotes. If you have some, feel free to share them with me.

In Christ,
Nick Peters